Posts Tagged ‘feminism’

3rd May
2011
written by Steph

Sorry for the recent spate of blog neglect, faithful readers. Real life has been rather hectic as I spent much of April preparing to present a proposal for a series of studies I intend to carry out in pursuit of my doctoral degree to my committee, a task I completed (successfully!) yesterday. It turns out that graduate school is a rather time-consuming and mentally exhausting endeavor at time, so I apologize for using my spare time for little more than movie watching and video game playing. Now that writing a 60 page document is out of the way, I hope that I'll find the vim and vigor to resume my duties here at S&TI! To kick things off this month, I reviewed Siri Hustvedt's newest novel, The Summer Without Men, over at BookPage. This was my first Hustvedt novel, but I can assure you, it shan't be my last. I was blown away by the intellectual depth that is present in her writing, and I loved the complex female dynamics and innerworkings that she explored in this novel. I tore through it due to my looming review deadline, but truly this is a book meant to be read slowly and thought about deeply. I will very much need to read it again, in part because Hustvedt's prose is so deceptively simple that it's all too easy to chug it down when you really should be sipping. If you're at all interested in fiction that features women so real it's like looking in a mirror, then get yourself a copy of this book posthaste! For more details, you can read my full review here.
3rd September
2010
written by Steph

Well, I might as well just call this review "A Love Letter to Mary", because I continue to simply adore Laurie King’s Mary Russell series! Have you started them yet? If not, you are missing out, my friends. This is now my go-to series when I’m looking for a fun, comfort read that is guaranteed to soothe me of any worries (reading or otherwise), and one that I indulge in without any kind of guilt. These books are simply a pleasure, and I want everyone to know it. A Letter of Mary picks up a few months after the events of the second book in the series (which I talked about here). Life has become somewhat dull and uninspiring on the work front for Mary and Holmes, so it doesn't take much prompting of consideration for her to accept the request of one Dorothy Ruskin, feisty lady archeologist on leave from Jerusalem, to meet and discuss some matters of a rather sensitive nature. During their meeting, Ruskin gives Russell a remarkably well-preserved piece of papyrus in an exceedingly ornate, jeweled box, the content of which would prove rather earth-shattering if the scroll were ever authenticated. Not soon after leaving their company, Ruskin is struck dead in what appears to be an accidental hit and run, but the signs of which soon seem to point unerringly towards murder. It’s up to Mary and Holmes to determine who – and why – Ruskin was murdered, while Mary also struggles with the decision of what to do with the letter she has been entrusted with. (more…)
22nd July
2010
written by Steph

Please do not let the ugly cover put you off... there is a newer, far cuter cover now available!

After finishing the first Mary Russell novel, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, I immediately put a hold on the second book in the series at my local library (though not before heading to the used bookstore to see if I could pick up a copy of my very own… no such luck, though I don’t blame readers for clutching these books closely to their chests and never letting them out of their sight!). I was jonesing pretty badly for Holmes and Russell’s next adventure, so when I finally had the opportunity to lay my own grubby paws on book two in the series, A Monstrous Regiment of Women, careful and measured reading wasn’t at the forefront of my mind. No, I pretty much tore through this book in a single day, and you know what? I don’t regret it one bit! (Also, I’ve now procured the remaining books in the series, so I can read them at my leisure whenever the desire strikes!) In A Monstrous Regiment of Women, Mary is all grown up and on the cusp of finally receiving her rather sizeable family inheritance. Now a woman, no longer a girl, things have become rather strained between herself and Holmes, as neither can deny the sexuality of the other any longer (though certainly they try). Confused and conflicted by this change in their relationship, Mary pulls away from Holmes, throwing herself into her studies as well as a rekindling a relationship with her old school chum, Veronica Beaconsfield, a friendship which opens Mary’s eyes up to an intoxicating new world. Veronica takes Mary along to a meeting of The New Temple of God, led by the charismatic and compelling Margery Childe, a woman who champions women’s issues in all shapes and forms, and who Mary believes may be mystic. As Mary is slowly drawn into Childe’s inner circle, she discovers that something is horribly amiss: Childe’s most wealthy patronesses have the unfortunate habit of dying in rather gruesome ways… conveniently leaving behind the bulk of their fortunes to The New Temple of God. Still needing her space from Holmes, Mary takes on her very first case of her own, determined to discover what shady dealings are underfoot, but little does she realize in so doing, she puts her own life (and fortune) at stake… (more…)
24th June
2010
written by Steph

One thing that I love about the book blogging world is that it helps me discover so many books that I never would have stumbled across on my own. Laurie R King’s Mary Russell series is definitely an example of this. Prior to blogging I had never heard of these books, even though: a) I love cozy British mysteries that set during the turn of the 20th century (an extremely specific niche, I realize!); and b) the series has been around since the mid-90s, so I had plenty of time to find it on my own. For those who are unfamiliar with the idea behind the series, the premise is that Sherlock Holmes (yes, I do mean THE Sherlock Holmes) has retired to the English countryside where fifteen-year old Mary stumbles upon him (quite literally) while out for a morning walk (with Virgil on hand). Holmes soon realizes that Mary has a rather uncommon mind, one that is nearly as observant and shrewd as his own, and the two soon strike up a friendship. Holmes takes Mary under his wing, tutoring her in the art of detection and setting small tests for her to solve in order to keep her mind sharp. Together they tackle and solve a few innocuous mysteries at hand, but soon the stakes are raised when Holmes is called to consult on a prominent kidnapping case. Even that, however, is but a rudimentary primer for the next conundrum they face… one where their very lives hinge upon them discovering the culprit who lurks in the shadows and is clearly out for blood. (more…)
20th October
2009
written by Steph
Sing it with me: Start at the very beginning...

Sing it with me: Start at the very beginning...

When it comes to selecting our next reads, Tony and I are VERY different.  I suppose you could call me an intuitive reader – I get a strong sense of the type of book I would like to read next, and select a book I feel will best mesh with those feelings and desires.  Sometimes I want a sad book, other times a lighthearted one.  Sometimes I really want to challenge myself and slowly push my way through a tricky read, while other times I need something fun or straightforward.  For me, there is nothing worse than reading the right book at the wrong time.  For Tony, there is no such thing.  The right book is always the right book; he can make a mental list of the books he wants to read, and then steadfastly make his way through it in order with little concern for whether the tone of what he just read might complement or detract from his next read.  Perhaps it’s a function of having so many books, but sometimes the choices overwhelm me and I agonize over what to read next, but Tony can always happily pluck something from a pile and begin to read with a breezy sense of laissez faire.  I hate that! 😉 Anyway, my point is that for me, context is key, and I think Gaudy Night exemplifies this in a lot of interesting ways.  I was in the mood for something fun, and I haven’t read a fullblown mystery novel in a while, so I decided to give my first Sayers novel a whirl.  I can’t remember exactly where I first heard of her, but I do know that this particular novel is recommended in Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust and I also remember reading somewhere at some time that it is not necessary to read these novels in any specific order.  I’ve spoken before at length about how I’m particular about my detective fiction – I like novels from the Golden Age, and I really like my mysteries to be set in England – so really, Gaudy Night (which takes place at Oxford University in the 1930s) should have been just the ticket. (more…)
29th January
2009
written by Steph

Finally we’re getting somewhere.  This was my third book read for the 2009 Tournament of Books, and it was by far the one I have enjoyed most to date.  If each subsequent book continues on this upward trend, I can totally deal with the few false starts I dealt with at the beginning. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (henceforth known as TDHoFLB), spans a period of about 6 months in the life of one Frankie Landau-Banks.  The story starts off just before she’s about to begin her sophomore year at the prestigious boarding school, Alabaster Academy.  Over the summer, she has emerged from her ugly duckling cocoon (way to mix metaphors!), and is now quite the attractive young lady (read: she has breasts!).  Due to this metamorphosis, she now catches the eye of fetching upperclassmen, namely a guy named Matthew, whom she’s been crushing on for quite some time.  And now he reciprocates those jelly-knee feelings!!!  So they start to date.  And then Frankie finds out he’s in a super secret society that her father was also a member of, only it’s so top secret that Matthew won’t even tell her about it (or acknowledge its existence).  She can also forget about joining it, because it’s a top secret society that is for BOYS ONLY.  This is unacceptable to Frankie, so she spends the rest of the novel trying to figure out a way to be a part of this illustrious Secret Order of the Basset Hounds. (more…)