Friday, 28 July 2017

Bossy Boots Bookclub: July Edition!

   So it's bookclub time again!

   
   Lost for Words by Stephanie Butlnad. 

   
   I liked this a lot. The setting and the characters are well drawn. I love a book set in a bookshop, but there is a sadness that pervades the book. I don't want to give anything away but this maybe wasn't the best book to be reading along with Homegoing. 

   Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi


   This is a good book. I liked how the chapters follow the characters down the generations. I thought the framework and her writing were really good. It's a book people will be talking about years down the line. It did make me sad but there is a line of humanity in the book that makes it special.

   Racism and slavery never leave each person you read, it shapes every single generation. That is something that I felt keenly reading this. Not a fun read by any means but I am very glad I read it. 

   Next month! The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai and A Beginner's Guide to Acting English by Shappi Khorsandi, I am excited for both. To be posted about on the last Friday of August which is the 25th of August. Happy reading! 

Friday, 30 June 2017

Bossy Boots Bookclub: June Edition!

   It's that time again for Bookclub! 

   Bellwether by Connie Willis


   The only other book that I have read by Willis is Crosstalk (which I would recommend too). Bellwether made me think about how science is created and it is really funny. I liked how passionate the heroine is of libraries. It does a nice job of poking fun at the bureaucracy of institutions. It made me laugh out loud, so I would definitely recommend it. Plus if you like audiobooks I read this on audio and the narrator was Kate Reading who was great. 

   Ten New Poets Ed. Bernadine Evaristo and Daljit Nagra

 
   I don't read enough poetry. This collection is a good selection, what I like about it is reading about different perspectives. In the foreword Evaristo talked about how the poetry published is 2% by people of colour in the UK. It is a shocking statistic that I hope is changing. This book highlights that the talent is there, so poetry publishers look for the poets who are not like you. 

   My favourite of the poets was Shazea Quraishi, her word choice really appealed to me. Poetry I have found is so much subjective than any other art. Still there is room for so many different ways to write poetry. It surprises me more than any other written art form, and spoken word is just as appealing.

   It also helps that this is a really short taste of each poet. You can dip in and out. I am glad that I picked this for bookclub.

   So next month will be Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. They will be posted on the last Friday of next month, the 28th of July. I have already gotten the books out of the library so I am excited! 

Friday, 26 May 2017

Bossy Boots Bookclub Picks: June, July and August

   So I am picking my books for the next three months of bookclub. In other news it is way too hot here (yes here in England). I also am planning on going on Holiday in the summer. I was thinking about the Edinburgh Festival but staying somewhere that doesn't cost an arm and a leg is going to be hard. So I might do a long weekend somewhere else. I am going to have a think about it.

   Moving on to bookclub. Here we go!

   June:

   Bellwether by Connie Willis


   I recently read Crosstalk by her and really enjoyed it and liked how inventive it was. I've heard good things so I'm excited for this one.

   Ten New Poets, Spread the Word. Ed. Bernardine Evaristo. Daljit Nagra


   I don't often read poetry in anthology. I am looking forward to diving into this.

   July:

   Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland


   I am a sucker for any book that is about a bookshop. I am definitely looking forward to this.

   Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi


   I don't know much about this book but I do know it's had good reviews and it about the history of two sisters. I also really like that cover.

   August:

   The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai


   I know almost nothing about this other than it's about people who read (my people!). I also like a book that takes a road trip.

    A Beginner's Guide to Acting English by Shappi Khorsandi


   I am very interested to read this as I like her stand up and this looks really good.

   So next three months books picked! June's bookclub to be posted on the last Friday, the 30th of June.








The Bossy Boots Bookclub: May Edition

   It's that time again! So without delay here we go:

   Fruit of the Lemon By Andrea Levy

  

   I loved this book. This is a book that is deeply moving but also funny. There are many people here that I recognise (not all good). There is something about how uncomfortable English people are, how the conversations that white people have are made othered in the book, which I liked a lot.

   Faith, the main character made me laugh and her journey is really about knowing who she is and what came before her. It won the Orange Prize and it should have won all the awards, read this book. One of  my all time favourites I've read this year.

   The Little Theatre by the Sea by Rosanna Ley



   I liked it. I liked the setting and learning about the Theatre. I do have a confession, I read this really near the end and had to rush to finish it so I don't think I was in the best mood to be receptive. I thought that reading three over the month I could handle but I think it was just too much in the end. So I liked it, but I don't really remember it.

   Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

   
   I really liked this book. The setting is great and the main two characters of Zachariah and Prunella I really fell in love with. It's also got a great pace. I couldn't wait to find out how this was all going to end. I was really satisfied with how it unravelled. Really good, I highly recommend.

   I am going to do a separate post choosing the books over the next three months. (June, July and August). Happy reading!

 



Thursday, 4 May 2017

Bossy Boots Bookclub: The (Late) April Edition

   I forgot about this April Edition, because get this I finished these books way early in April, opps. So no hanging about.


   A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee. I knew nothing really going into this. I have now realised that this the first book in the series. I think there are four in total. I have to admit I didn't love it. I liked the heroine, the setting of London and the spying. It just didn't grab me, and I'm not really motivated to read the rest. It's still worth reading.


   Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye. I also knew next to nothing about this other than this is a retelling of Jane Eyre of sorts. I fell in love with this book. Each chapter starts with a quote from Jane Eyre and this Jane reads and comments on the book throughout the novel. She is a murderess but I loved her so much. It made me so happy this book, and set in a similar time period to the other book. I also bought this book in audio form for those who like their audiobooks, also just as good. If you like Jane Eyre, this is a great book to go along with it. This Jane is dark and has a lot of agency. My favourite book that I've read this year. 

   Due to me not getting Fruit of the Lemon by Andrea Levy (it's only now getting my library) May's Bookclub consists of three books.

   Bossy Boots Bookclub - May Selection:

   Fruit of the Lemon by Andrea Levy


   I know next to nothing about this book. I have not read Levy and I like the title, and that cover, so I am looking forward to this one.

   Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho


   I do not know much about this book, but I like the cover, plus it's a fantasy book. I want to read more of that. Looking forward to posting about this.

   The Little Theatre by the Sea by Rosanna Ley


   I am a sucker for a book where a woman changes her life completely enrolling in something else. I like reading about different techniques (baking is a big draw for me), I also know nothing about theatres so I think this will be fun.

   All of these books to be discussed on the Friday 26th of May. Any book and anyone welcome!

False Nostalgia Hole

   I spent at least half an hour to an hour looking at old posts I made last night on Facebook. It turns out this just made me sad. First of all this is not a productive use of my time, second I look at all those smiley faces and cheery tones and all I want to do is punch myself in the face.

   I keep reading studies that show that people who spend a lot of time on social media are more likely to get depressed. I think there are two issues there. Social media on any platform is a performance. It is bred into it's DNA. I don't think it's a bad thing, but it does make it interesting. It's a performance of sharing the things that you think people want to know, there is a public aspect to it. That is only part of your life that you choose to show in a public forum.

   I happen to part of a Private Facebook group that makes my life and I hope the other's that are part of it easier and shared. It is still public to that group of people but it is another form of privacy.

   There is another side to Facebook the look at how cool I am! Share this link about feminism! Please like this thing I didn't even read! It happens just as much on Twitter. I do it too. I have decided to stop. It just makes me mad at myself, I am not going to stop linking to things and having status updates but I am going to be much more selective. I want to choose things that actually mean something to me, I am not saying that I have not done this in the past but wanting other people to approve it? Fuck it.

   Looking at what other people are doing, I think I and everyone else needs to remember we are all in the performance business and deep down we are all as deeply strange and lonely as anyone else.

   Also to add it's a false form of nostalgia, my life has it's ups and downs, looking at the past resolves nothing. I wish I could do things differently but that statement is applicable to almost everyone else on earth. Facebook just gives us a version we displayed to the world in ink.

   I have also realised that I have been in Facebook for nearly a decade, there are things there that make it a helpful tool, but going down a false nostalgia hole is not one of them.

 

   Here is a picture of a black hole just because it's pretty.

   I am going to recommend this series of video blogs called Drunk Feminist Films. I liked all of them, but I particularly thought Crossroads, Twilight and Save The Last Dance all made me think and laugh the most. I am going to link to the Crossroads episode. You can find it here:



Friday, 24 March 2017

Bossy Boots Bookclub March Edition!!!

   Kicking off Bossy Boots Bookclub with two great books.

  
  
The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. I liked this a lot. The imagery, maps and use of myth really connected with me. I liked also in my copy the pages were illustrated. I liked the main character a lot, and the people along the way. It's a good book, I would definitely recommend this.


   Dietland by Sarai Walker. This book has stayed with me long after I finished reading it. There is a lot of anger and violence in this book, and it is a strange and interesting world that is created. Mainly though I fell in love with Alicia Plum. This book treats fat people with respect and deals with fatness in a complex way. I liked how this book is divided in parts with different names, this is shared with the first book funnily enough. I was surprised by how this book unfolds. As I said it has stayed with me well after I finished it, so would definitely recommend reading it.  

   I am so glad that I've read both of these books. These books are so different, it was an odd experience going from one so vastly different world to the other. I got used to it and I begin to like it.

   An adjustment to the schedule. My library has only one copy of Fruit of the Lemon by Andrea Levy, and I am the second person in line to request it. I am just not going to get the copy in enough time, so there is a change of plans.

   New order:
 
   April:



  Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye.

  I have written about my deep love of Jane Eyre in all it's versions, this as far as I can see is set in the same time period. I am intrigued by the murder aspect so I am looking forward to this.



   A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee.

  I have no real idea other than it's about lady spies in Victorian England what this book is going to be, and I am here for that.

   May is going to be what I've already picked and the Levy book (so three in total). Feel free to only pick one, I am being ambitious but I really do want to read Andrea Levy and it's only because of the reservation issue that it's not on the table for April. Happy reading!


Monday, 6 March 2017

Bossy Boots Bookclub Is Back!!!

   Bossy Boots Bookclub is back, I think it was on a message thread where I joked that I was acting like a Bossy Boots for something about this Bookclub. So I think it was Diva who said own it. So I have named this Bookclub after me owning me own bossiness, hurrah!

   So I have been totally remiss about picking books. I want to carry this on as it is really important to me. This open to anyone who wants to talk about books with me. As I have been really remiss I am picking two per month. Each book is posted about on the last Friday of the month.

   Here we go:

    March (to be posted on Friday the 24th March).



   Dietland by Sarai Walker.

   I know almost nothing about this book but the fact that it is about fatness and that makes me happy. Looking forward to diving into this one.



   The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

   I love the cover of this book. I also know almost nothing other than it's fantasy. I'm looking forward to it.

    April.



   A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee.

   I first found out about this from a tiny letter by @twobossydames on twitter. I really liked the Gail Carriger series with girl spies. I think this has a similar vibe about a girl who is also a spy. I have intentionally kept away from the plot. It looks intriguing.



   Fruit of the Lemon by Andrea Levy.

   I have been meaning to read Levy for a long time, so this is the time.

   May.



   Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho.

   From the book blurb it described it as a cross between  Georgette Heyer and Suzanna Clarke. I haven't read the Clarke book but sold!



   The Little Theatre by the Sea by Rosanna Ley.

   I am a fan of women starting their lives over and in a beautiful setting. Plus I know almost nothing about redoing a theatre. I am in.

   I am going to finish by talking about three books. Shrill by Lindy West I cannot recommend enough, the fat politics in this book made my heart happy. I love her sense of humour especially the joke about the whale. Her writing is insightful, sharp, and most of all funny. I liked it a lot.

    I Call Myself A Feminist ed. Amy Anette, Victoria Pepe, Martha Mosse, Alice Stride and Rachel Holmes, is a collection of Feminists all under the age of 30 writing about why they call themselves a Feminist. What I really appreciated about this book was it covers a lot of voices, and you can easily dip in and out. It made me happy over Christmas.

   No Kidding, Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood ed. by Henriette Mantel. Get this book, no really get this book like now. This book really made me happy, it's another collection of women, but all these women make people laugh for a living. It's an amazing book that just made me relax down to my soul over Christmas. An essay collection can sometimes seem a little hard I guess, but this is perfect for reading a few at a time. It's also got so many different perspectives on the issue that makes you think, no one story is the same. So good.

  


Critical Hat

   I was thinking this week about how much easier it is to dismiss something rather than engage critically with it. I was thinking about how I've done it in my own past. It is easier to just say this movie is garbage, or this book sucks.

   There is no arguing with that, it's just an insult fest. I guess if that's your thing go for it but it negates having a conversation. I think I'm thinking about it now because so many of these comments are directed at things that are marketed towards women, and women themselves.


   That picture makes me smile by the way. So I want to take a couple of examples. As Good As It Gets, it is easier just to say it's a movie that I thought was bad. It's not though, the problems I have with that movie are more complex. As a plot it's fine, I have seen plenty of movies like it, and probably will again. It's not offensive to the eyes, the dialogue isn't inherently bad.

   It is, however a film about an older man and a younger woman, a man that is offensive to most people around him. He is a romance writer who hates his audience (ARGH!!), and is given humanity by a woman. It's a movie that makes me mad on that level. I am not sure as an audience who we are supposed to root for, for me the tone is a problem and the performances do not move me. Art is subjective but the biggest thing about that movie is the contempt that comes off the screen for it's audience, plus a woman giving a man his purpose just makes me want to smash things.
 
   Suicide Squad, yes I saw this in the movie theatre. Now is this a bad movie? Depends on what metric you use, I thought the special effects were ok, there are plenty more silly premises and offensive scenes in other movies. I have not seen a lot of the darker comic book stuff that glorifies violence against women, and I mean glorifies in it. This isn't like that.

    Now a lot of people are getting on the how could this have won an Oscar? A lot more terrible people have won Oscars, and have done reprehensible things. This is just a movie that a lot of people didn't like. I am sure there will be many, many more. It also won for Make Up, that's not invalid.

   Getting to the actual movie, it's fine? It's not as bad as many an action movie I've seen. The plot made sense. The premise of bad guys uniting could have been interesting. So there are some things that made it hard to watch. First there seems to be a theme that women cannot be trusted with power. The witch has to be tamed by a man, and she is saved by love. That is insulting to me. Harley Quinn has her own issues, but again there is that theme that power corrupts women, men seem to in that movie be able to have their shit together, women nope.  

   Harley Quinn as a character I find hard to take. I think it's the romance of the characters that make this objectionable. Is it so radical for a woman to be a bad guy just because she is? No man had to romance her into it, she's just using her own power to fuck shit up on her volition. There is also a shot of Harley Quinn reading a romance novel, just have we not had enough think pieces about whether romance engenders bad, co-dependent romantic relationships, that corrupt women. Apparently not. It's not a small thing to me.

   This movie again it makes me angry at the depiction of women, because it didn't have to be like that. Quick thought, make all the characters women, and women of colour. No white women. Make the Joker a woman, make all the military women. Make Harley Quinn bad, she had no shitty relationship, or bad childhood, her motivation is I want to rule the world, and I am not doing it with niceness, fuck that I am going to become a Boss with an iron fist. Make the Witch also someone who wears the mask so she can commit evil, fuck all the people in her way. She wants to rule the world too. Now these two have a common goal and are destroying the city. How to stop them? How to catch a bad guy, get other bad people. Deadeye as a woman who is complex, who is trying to get past all the violence she thought she was doing for the right reason. Is she on the right side, or is she going to be seduced into chaos?

  Now that is a movie that I would see, and I think I would find it interesting, still deals with violence being the solution and the problem. That is buying into the idea that violence is something that should be seen as good. I don't think that is true, but it's hard to divorce the performance of gender with violence. This isn't the only way to create a story with comic books.

   I am not saying comic books movies are deliberately making violence king, but in Suicide Squad it does. There is a strange relationship to how bloodless it is. They are not fighting humans but things that have been taken over.

    Really there is just an underlying thing about the movie industry, that tent poles are the ones that make the most money. Now people want to be paid, it's a business don't forget. People want to make a return so they can feed their kids, and pay the mortgage. Does that mean we get the same old thing? Yes, but I don't blame them for it.

   Suicide Squad is not a bad movie, just like Twilight isn't. The audience just isn't mine, and there are many things that I find hard to take. I am also sure that there are many people who love these films, and for me it's much easier to find common ground when engaging critically. No movie is perfect, I think things are so much better when we can lay out our points.

   Being critical does not mean picking apart everything, it means being thoughtful and respecting other's people's views. It's for me one of the best things about reading, you can engage critically with something, but still love it.

  Is it still easier to just say this thing is bad, then you don't have to think about it. Yes. Still, it is better to think about why you don't like it. If nothing else you can spot another thing and not go to it.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

17 Things That Made Me Smile...

   I wanted to share a list of stuff that I liked and loved over 2016 and 2017 (this is going to include things that I discovered that aren't new to this year). I am going to put these in Alphabetical order, here we go:




    Agent Carter (series 1). I have a history of getting into things when they are long past being a hot topic. I spent the whole of my Birthday evening watching the first season. It's so good. Hayley Atwell does such an amazing job with the character. I've heard that the second season isn't as good but I am all for watching her kick and punch (mostly men) in the face. 

   This Buzzfeed article, 27 Books Every Women in America Should Read, you can find it here: https://www.buzzfeed.com/doree/books-to-read-if-youre-going-to-the-womens-march

   Chain of Fools by Aretha Franklin. I have always loved this song, and always will. You can find it here:
 



   Crosstalk by Connie Willis. Full disclosure I have only read the first three chapter but so far I like it. I've never read her before so I'm looking forward to discovering a new voice.




   Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. I have mentioned The Austen Project before, I don't know quite what is going on with it at the moment, but updating Austen is a hard task. I think whoever re-imagined Pride and Prejudice would have gotten the most flak. This book I really loved. It's modern and I think the smartest choice was to make the Bennett sisters all a lot older. It's not perfect but I don't want perfection, it's a great read. The character of Liz got to be flawed in the modern sense and still remain my favourite heroine. YMMV. 


   I also found this year the Epic Rap Battles on YouTube. My favourites include Cinderella vs Belle and this one that you can find here:



    This rendition of Gone Missing by Maxim Park. I had never heard of this band before until I borrowed from my library a compilation of songs and this was on it. I have no idea why this hit me the way it did. I can't stop listening to it. You can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00Z5GloutGU



   Hidden Figures. I really like Taraji P Henson in this. She is luminous and not just because her hair and makeup are flawless in this move. She is great in anything else that I've seen her in. Special mention to Person of Interest I could not see anyone else in that role.

   I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight by Richard and Linda Thompson. This song I can't stop listening to, so, so good. You can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57PENuNVapc

    The Loving Kind by Nanci Griffith. I had no idea that there was country song about the Loving case, but there is and it's great. (I could only find the live version but it's still great). You can find it here:






   My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella. Kinsella has written one of my all time favourite heroes in I've Got Your Number and she writes great romances. This only came out in the last week, but it made me smile. There is also a great theme in what we tell the world and what our real lives are like.

    Netflix Stand up Specials. Netflix can be a very frustrating place, but their original content is great and their stand up specials are really good. I am going to mention three that I loved. Baby Conga by Ali Wong, she's great and doing something you hardly see, performing pregnant. I'm Gonna Die Alone (and I Feel Fine) by Jen Kirkman. This is so funny, there is another special on there that I like too. One of the Greats by Chelsea Peretti this was the first stand up I watched on this platform and she's amazing.


   Never Forget You by The Noisettes. I will love this song forever. You can find it here:


   Outlander (with a caveat). So I do like this very much, I like that you see her competence with nursing. I do ,however have a lot of problems with this, the violence I was unprepared for, the constant sexual threat Claire lives under made me really uncomfortable. The sexiness between her and Jamie is great but the violence and male to male sexual violence is disturbing. The whole things looks great but there are a lot things that made me uncomfortable about it.


   Period Piece is a web series that looks at periods historically. I really liked the one set in Ancient Rome. It made me laugh out loud. You can find it here:




   This website: http://www.wocinromance.com/


   The Women's March. It's hard to talk about without being maudlin or complacent. I wanted to say this heartened me so much, but my anger and sadness at how awful the situation is still remains (and I live in the UK, which is a whole other kettle of off fish). It's something to be proud of women sticking together over one thing. There is also a song that made me cry. Women have been prosecuted over the years, but it is women of colour, transgender women and disabled women that feminism has not only let down but persecuted itself. That Women's March made me have some hope but I know there will be many fights down the line. Still I will always be happy at the sight of a Pussy Hat.

   I wanted to finish with a few things I am looking forward to. Elizabeth Hoyt has an historical coming out in the summer, as does Tessa Dare. There is a Wonder Woman movie coming out this year, but I do have mixed feelings about this, but I hope it'll be great.I am looking forward to seeing 20th Century Women (weirdly not really excited about La La Land, dunno what that's about but never mind). I have pre-ordered from my library the book Hidden Figures so I'll be happy to dive into that.

   I am doing the Bossy Boots Bookclub this year. I have decided to do two books a month. I'm not quite decided on what I want to pick, but will let people know once I've chosen for March. And just for fun here is a picture of a clock in a book.

 

Monday, 9 January 2017

Ruin...Still Here

   So...I have decided to start 2017 with the truth, I feel pretty shit. I am in general OK, but the shadow behind me is still there.

   I wish I could say that there were outlying influences for this, but the truth is, this is my default setting. It has been for a while. There are a lot of things that I can't control, but the things that I can are still in a mess. It's easier sometimes to label something a mess, messes by their very nature are things I don't want to look at, or trouble to fix.

   I realise my mood is partly because I don't react well to change. I re-read a post of mine not to long ago about ruin. I realise that post is still the same. I am still in ruin, it is the mess of my own failures and emotional numbness that is still part of me

   We all have ugly parts of ourselves, weaknesses we would rather hide. I accept that, but it still makes it incredibly hard to be me. I don't like it most of the time. 2017 is still the same me that I have been hauling around 7 years ago.

   I have also seen something about me over this Christmas, my insecurity and self consciousness comes out in silence. I can't help but draw a gendered conclusion to that. It is something that I have been taught, and it becomes anger, a silent seething that I know is unhealthy.

   I am also incredibly tired, not just due to the fact that I was watching a baking show until half 1 in the morning last night. This is a weak protest but I am trying. Still perhaps by changing the small things, the bigger things get less daunting. That is the only thing that has any show of success in my life.

   Things have not all been doom and gloom, I saw the movie Pride last year and it made me cry, it's a good movie. I would however point out that it practically an all white movie (every cast member is white, you see maybe three people of colour in the whole of the movie). It's glaring to me. Is it a good movie? Yes, but this really needs to stop. I get that it's a period piece, but this movie's message is about inclusivity and acceptance, stop making this exclusively about white people's issues.



   I also saw last year Love Under the Covers, the romance novel industry documentary. I am just really happy that this exists and I got to see it. It's got it's problems but it's about a subject that I am passionate about. To me this genre that everyone wants to dismiss, we got the last laugh. This is huge industry that caters almost exclusively to women. These stories are about women, written by women and read by women. I also just like that picture of a woman reading.

   I think everyone has a story about the first romance they read, I can't remember the title but it was a nineties secretary and boss story, a Mills and Boon book. Romance has such a personal pull to me, as these books were the thing that kept me sane during my teen years. Over the years I found out from these books that women enjoyed getting oral sex, that sex was enjoyable because women found pleasure in it. Women were coming because the clitoris was being stimulated. Women were finding their happiness was aided by a relationship. You know what's really revolutionary about romance novels? In romance the woman always wins. That is something that is amazing. So let all the cynics sneer I will be laughing and engaging in stories that celebrate women triumphing.

   Impassioned speech over, this documentary is worth a look.

   I have also been cooking a lot of different dishes. Some great (I have cracked Risotto! And love making meatballs), some not so great (that apple shortcake was disgusting, as was the chocolate sour cream and yoghurt experiment). I have liked broadening my horizons.

    This week of doom and gloom, I am going to recommend something purely silly, Semicolon (a song). It's performed by The Lonely Island fat. Solange. You can find it here: