Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale Rating – 5 out of 5

Synopsis

Offred’s, a handmaid in the dystopian Republic of Gilead, life is confined to very strict ways of thinking and acting from an oppressive regime. She makes an account of her daily life, the horrors and joys of it as she and other handmaids try to do the one thing the republic still deems as useful – produce a healthy child. Flashbacks of her life before Gilead show how society devolved into the theocratic military dictatorship that runs her world.

The Handmaid's Tale

Favorite Quote

“Nothing changes instantaneously: in a gradual heating bathtub you’d boil to death before you knew it. There were stories in the newspapers, of course, corpses in ditches or the woods, bludgeoned to death or mutilated, interfered with, as they used to say, but they were about other women and the men who did such things were other men. None of them were the men we knew. The newspaper stories were like dreams to us, bad dreams dreamt by others…

We were the the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.

We lived in the gaps between the stories.”

Handmaid’s Tale, pg. 57The Handmaid's Tale

Why I liked it

This is a hard book to read, especially for a fairly liberal woman. The society that is set up in this novel is so toxic towards women that it is frightening to read. It should actually be noted at this point that some may find the subject matter of the novel hard to process because of the extreme nature of how women specifically are treated in Gilead.

Handmaid’s Tale is told in the first person which lends itself to allowing us to live inside the head of a woman in this society. What struck me was the way that she had policed her own thoughts to be in accordance with the new society around her. Offred’s coping mechanism for having to follow incredibly strict social norms is to make them a part of her thoughts and decisions, not to reject them. In a way, it’s amazing how compliant she is with the regime, but it also shows I think a pretty accurate depiction of what a person will do to survive.

The drawback of this way of writing is that we do not get much clarity about the society at large, but instead the narrative is focused on the experiences that Offred goes through not only in the present, but also how she reacted at every turn during the time period where things were changing from the liberal society to the theocratic military dictatorship. Instead of going deeply into the mechanics of social change, the story instead was focused on how one person could not realized and fight back against something simply because they did not realize what was at stake.

Book Club Question

Are there any questions? (Sorry, I had to!)

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Passenger – Alexandra Bracken

Passenger Rating – 3.5 out of 5

Synopsis

Henrietta “Etta” Spencer is a concert-level violinist who’s mother’s past has always been a little mysterious. At one of her biggest performances yet things go awry and Etta is thrust into a new adventure as she seeks an family heirloom and discovers her time traveling powers.

Passenger - Alexandra Bracken

Favorite Quote

“I knew your great-grandad had bequeathed it to me so I could make a choice about my future. I’ve never regretted selling that old thing, because it brought me here. I want you to remember that – it’s our choices that matter in the end. Not wishes, not words, not promises.”

Passenger, pg. 20Passenger_AlexandraBracken.jpg

Why I liked it

Passengers by Alexandra Bracken is an adventure from start to finish complete with romance and intrigue on both the high seas and elsewhere in space and time. The action of the book centers around a quest for an item to save Etta’s mother from danger. As this story unfolds the complexity around the ideas of time travel are well maintained but are not ground breaking nor do they cover new territory. I think writing is good in the scenes where dialogue or personal conviction and confliction occur but found myself losing track of what was happening during the action sequences. The book ends on a bit of a cliff hanger, so I am anxious to see where this leads in the sequel, Wayfarer will lead. I am intrigued by the story itself and hope that we will see good things from Bracken in the future.

Book Club Question

How would you feel about living in different eras like most of the travelers do?

This and all my posts may contain affiliate links! ❤ -Kate

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Born a Crime – Trevor Noah

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood Rating – 4.3 out of 5

Synopsis

Trevor Noah writes about his experiences as a mix-raced child under Apartheid in South Africa. The stories he tells about his childhood feature his thoughts on race, being a son to a strong and independent mother and the hijinks he got into.

Favorite Quote

“I knew my cousins were getting beaten for things that I’d done, but I wasn’t interested in changing my grandmother’s perspective, because that would mean I’d get beaten, too. Why would I do that? So that I’d feel better? Being beaten didn’t make me feel better. I had a choice. I could champion racial justice in our home, or I could enjoy granny’s cookies. I went with the cookies.”

-Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, Pg. 52-53.

IMG_0094_BornaCrime

Why I liked it

Trevor Noah is an amazing comedian who can find the humor in all that has happened to him. He does not shy away from writing about the the things that make some people uncomfortable. I find that the best way to write about these types of issues, racial injustice and domestic violence in particular, is to write it earnestly and without hyperbole. Noah’s stories are earnest depictions of his life. I was able to see how such an unusual childhood so different than my own was also relatable, not because I have gone through anything like he had but because devious children are devious children no matter what situation they are in.

Noah writes mostly about his mother and how her strength and resolve saw them through what were difficult and often dangerous situations. I do not always like autobiographies, especially ones of people who are young, but Noah’s reads like a biography of his mother rather than a self-indulgent depiction of his own accomplishments. The story is book-ended and driven by her belief in herself and a God in a way that is touching. Noah’s respect and love for his mother is apparent and my respect for her is incredible. She is the subject of this book, and it is all the better for it.

Book Club Question

How do you think humor helped Trevor Noah work through and express the complex and racial driven thoughts that are prevalent in this autobiography?

This and all my posts may contain affiliate links! – ❤ Kate

 

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Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies Rating – 4.6 out of 5

Synopsis

A set of new kindergarten children and mums (and dads!) start at Pirriwee Public School for the school year. The drama ensues as a new mum, Jane and her son, Ziggy, become a part of the community and the events in the present day intersect with past wounds.

Favorite Quote

Gabrielle: I was new to the school. I didn’t know a soul. “Oh, we’re such a caring school,” the principal told me. Blah, blah, blah. Let me tell you, the first thing I thought when I walked into that playground on that kindergarten orientation day was cliquey. Cliquey, cliquey, cliquey. I’m not surprised someone ended up dead. Oh, all right. I’m guess that’s overstating it. I was a little surprised.”

Big Little Lies, Pg. 30

IMG_0093_BigLittleLies

Why I liked it

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty was entertaining from start to the spectacular finish. Witty and light internal dialogs surround some very intense and emotional scenes. I found the the character of Madeline (played by Reese Witherspoon in the HBO Limited Series!) compelling as she was larger than life but also startlingly human in her interactions with her family, specifically her daughter, and those around her. Moriarty is also true to life about the struggles that many women face in their relationships with their husbands and the men around them. Instead of shying away from topics like sex, rape and domestic abuse she makes them a part of the plot in a way that illustrates how real women handle these situations. While the conclusion of the story is over the top, the tragedy is not. Moriarty walks the fine line of sensationalism with grace to a ending that many will identify with.

Book Club Question

Do you think the death in the book was justified?

This and all my posts may contain affiliate links! ❤ Kate

 

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Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass Rating – 4.5 out of 5

Synopsis

Celaena Sardothien is a world renowned assassin but has been imprisoned for over a year. Itching for her freedom; her luck breaks as she is called up to the capital to compete for a place as the King’s Champion. Intrigue abounds as she competes against the other possible champions, makes friends and enemies and faces her largest opponent yet.

Favorite Quote

“Celaena eyed the pianoforte. She used to play- oh, she’d loved to play, loved music, the way music could break and heal and make everything seem possible and heroic”

Throne of Glass, pg. 143

IMG_0049_ThroneofGlass

Why I liked it

Celaena is the 18 year old that I wished to be. Savvy, a voracious reader, musician and expert in her field she uses her intelligence and empathy to help her solve the problems that she faces. Honestly, I found her to be the most interesting young female character that I’ver read in a while as she proved to be a formidable opponent against all that this book threw at her. As far as young adult lit goes, I would recommend this for the intrigue and suspense as well as a the spirited girl that pulls this book together.

Book Club Question

Is the magic that seems to be just below the surface in this book a coincidence or is Celaena special?

This and all my posts may contain affiliate links! ❤ Kate

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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life Rating – 5 out of 5

Synopsis

Author and person of the internet Mark Manson (https://markmanson.net) breaks down what it takes to be successful in this world – not giving a fuck.

Favorite Quote

“To not give a fuck is to stare down life’s most terrifying and difficult challenges and still take action.”

The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson, Pg.12

img_4719_manson

Why I liked it

Most “self-help” books that I have read focus on too small of problems so that they do not have a lasting impact on the way that you look at the world or in the pursuit of overhauling your whole outlook ends up leaning on the platitudes that we all already know to be true. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck rejects both and goes straight to the core of why people today are not happy. I am known to be crass myself, so I enjoyed the ribald style of writing that is characteristic of Manson. More importantly, I found myself becoming reflective while reading this book. Between the churlishness were true gems of wisdom about how to live a good life, which I am still incorporating into my own life. The best review I can give this book is that I will have to revisit it again soon.

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Life and Other Near-Death Experiences – Camille Pagan

Life and Other Near-Death Experiences Rating – 4.6 out of 5

Synopsis

After a shocking revelation from her husband and a some shocking news of her own, Libby runs away to the one place she thinks she will find the solace she’s looking for.

Favorite Quote

“Given that I survived a near-death experience today, I”m not really ready for exploring.”

He gave me a half smile. “Life is a near-death experience. But suit yourself,” he added lightly

-Life and Other Near-death Experiences, pg. 86

img_4704_lifeandothernear-deathexperiences

Why I liked it

This is the perfect book to read on the beach or by the pool in summer. I’ve seen more and more books like this that focus on interesting women who have a good sense of humor as they move through the challenges, which humanizes them and reminds me of the strength and dignity that womanhood can take on. Light enough to read on vacation but dense enough to feel that you can grow and discover with the characters, this book is a great journey from start to finish.

Book Club Question

Was Libby right to run away when her life fell apart?

This and all my posts may contain affiliate links! ❤ Kate

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