Posted in Books

Nobody’s perfect, but that doesn’t excuse privilege: Carve the Mark, Mosquitoland, and being a more conscious and careful reader

Happy Friday, bibliophiles! I’ve been writing out this post in my head since Tuesday night, so here goes nothing…

The other day, I was reading Aditi’s post about 20 of the most popular YA books on Goodreads. Veronica Roth’s Carve the Mark was among the ranks, and she mentioned that there had been several reviews saying that it had some racist elements, and had a problematic depiction of chronic illness. I had to do a bit of a double take; I read that book at least two years ago, but I didn’t remember anything like that. My whole memory of the book was hazy, really, and even though I’d given it a four star rating back then, it was probably one of those books I just sped through because I was just thinking something along the lines of “haha sci-fi go brrrrrrrrrrr”

Carve the Mark eBook by Veronica Roth - 9780062348654 | Rakuten Kobo United  States

And so I read some reviews–some from bloggers that I follow, some from strangers, and there were indeed a lot that pointed out several problematic elements and stereotypes. I found myself being incredibly ashamed of my past self for not noticing them. I’ve been going back and forth between removing my rating, and I never got to the sequel and thought Divergent was overrated, so I doubt I’ll be picking up a Veronica Roth book in the future. But I ended up putting myself between two spaces:

First off, nobody’s perfect. As much of an intersectional feminist that I strive to be, I still make mistakes. We all do. I’m sure everybody’s had an instance like this one.

But secondly, I still must acknowledge that I have privilege, and that this privilege is part of why I didn’t spot the highly questionable elements there. And since I am privileged, I have to do my best to better myself, and read more carefully, and become better at spotting and making note of problematic elements.

Amazon.com: Mosquitoland (9780147513656): Arnold, David: Books

I’d like to think that I’ve gotten better at reading carefully since I read Carve the Mark, but this example also jumped out at me as something that’s controversial. I read Mosquitoland a few months back; I thought it was a well-written novel, but there is some highly questionable–and I mean HIGHLY questionable and offensive representation of Down syndrome, and some problematic elements regarding the depiction of Native American characters, as well as some poor handling of sexual assault. I still hold the writing highly, but I know that I have to also recognize that Mosquitoland, though powerful, is still a deeply flawed novel. No matter its impact, there is NO excusing some of the content of this novel. (if you’re interested in someone else’s thoughts on the matter, I’d highly suggest checking out The Inside Cover’s Mosquitoland, Three Years Later: A Coda.)

All this got me thinking about reviews. Part of what’s key to reading/picking your reads more carefully is reading reviews before you dive in. Of course, you have to be careful to avoid reviews that have been paid to get a 4-5 star rating (for bias); the 3-2 star range is usually the most reliable source for me, as they usually cover the good and the bad in equal amounts. (1 stars tend to dive into rants, which I fully admit to doing, but it’s better to see both the pros and cons, personally.) It’s just like checking your news sources: seeing both sides of the argument, and getting perspectives from reviewers who have lived some of these experiences. It’s what made me take The State of Us off my TBR, and a few others.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: A Novel (The Carls): Green, Hank:  9781524743444: Amazon.com: Books

And sometimes, there’s no way out of it. I went into An Absolutely Remarkable Thing expecting a read as great as everybody seemed to say it was, but I ended up being infuriated by how poorly the bisexual representation was handled. (Personal opinion, here) Hardly anyone (except for one reviewer, so shoutout to them) noted the bury-your-gays trope, as well as the killing off of most of the POC characters (all but one or two) in Four Dead Queens. There will always be times when we’re roped into something problematic, even if we’ve read a variety of reviews.

Four Dead Queens - Astrid Scholte - 9781760524418 - Allen & Unwin -  Australia

The bottom line? Don’t beat yourself up about reading a problematic book, but don’t brush the problematic parts aside like they don’t exist. If you see something uncomfortable depicted in a novel, talk about it, whether it’s in the comments of a review or in a review of your own. Let your voice be heard, but recognize that all of us have at least a little bit of privilege.

Alright, let me step off the soapbox for a minute. I also have a short announcement: I have A BUNCH of books that I’d like to review soon, so as well as my Book Review Tuesdays, I’ll be packing several books into mini-reviews, starting next week. So stay tuned…

Today’s song:

That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books, Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: March 30-April 5, 2020

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Happy Sunday, bibliophiles!

Whew…it hasn’t quite been a tiring week, but it’s been a week of strange transitions, what with going back to online school, and subsequently finding out that we’ll be doing online learning for the entire rest of the school year. (Oh, and the general disappointment in the fact that The New Mutants was supposed to come out on Friday, but it’s been delayed until who-knows-when…sigh…). I’m starting to accept that this is starting to become the new normal for now, but I think we should all keep in mind that this is not forever. As with all things, COVID-19 will eventually pass. In the words of Phoebe Bridgers, “It’ll all work out/Eventually.” 💗

This Too Shall Pass Waiting Sticker by Pretty Whiskey / Alex ...

Oh, and I started Camp NaNoWriMo again on the 1st! I’m on the same WIP as before, but I’m trying to get it to about 110,000 words. I’m at around 87,000 at the moment. Wish me luck!

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: 

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing–Hank Green (⭐️–DNF at 36%)

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: A Novel: Green, Hank ...

 

Ghosts–Raina Telgemeier (re-read, ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Ghosts: Telgemeier, Raina, Telgemeier, Raina: 9780545540629 ...

 

Kids of Appetite–David Arnold (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: Kids of Appetite (9780451470782): Arnold, David: Books

 

Dark Energy–Robison Wells (⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Dark Energy by Robison Wells

 

Boys Don’t Knit–T. S. Easton (⭐️⭐️)

Boys Don't Knit (in Public) (Boys Don't Knit, #1) by T.S. Easton

 

Mosquitoland–David Arnold (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: Mosquitoland (9780147513656): David Arnold: Books

 

POSTS AND SUCH: 

 

SONGS: 

 

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK: 

I Hope You Get This Message–Farah Naz Rishi

I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi

 

Today’s song:

I just discovered Black Belt Eagle Scout yesterday; I listened to all of Mother of My Children, and I think this was my favorite song off the album 🙂

 

That’s it for this week in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Book Tags, Books

The Cookie Book Tag 🍪

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Hello again, bibliophiles!

I was looking for tags to do the other day, and I came across this one, and immediately wanted to do it! I mean, who doesn’t love some form of cookie or another? Also, I figured it would be fitting for today, since my mom and I baked chocolate chip cookies in a skillet. (I don’t have any pictures, but they were delicious.) 🍪

Radiohead's The Bends album cover is hungry | AwesomeGIFs
leave it to me to slip in yet another Radiohead reference

I found this tag over at Misty’s Book Space.  Let’s begin, shall we?

 

CHOCOLATE CHIP: A Classic Book That You Love or Really Enjoyed

Frankenstein (Barnes & Noble Single Volume Leatherbound Classics ...

Frankenstein is easily one of my favorite books, if not my favorite of all time.

 

THIN MINTS: A Fandom That You Really Want to ‘Join’ and/or a Hyped-Up Book You Want To Read

Incarnate (Newsoul, #1) by Jodi Meadows

I’m not sure if I’m necessarily plagued by the desire to join another fandom, but The Newsoul trilogy appears to be a classic YA dystopia, and one that actually looks decent, at that.

 

SHORTBREAD: An Author You Can’t Get Enough Of

Sheer Magic: A Conversation with Anna-Marie McLemore - Pittsburgh ...

Though I’ve only read two of her novels (at the moment, I hope to read the others very soon), I am such a sucker for Anna-Marie McLemore’s luscious writing. There’s no prose quite like hers.

 

SAMOAS: An Emotional Rollercoaster

Amazon.com: Thunderhead (2) (Arc of a Scythe) (9781442472457 ...

Even though I finally know the resolution, the entirety of ThunderheadESPECIALLY the ending, had my mind reeling in shock.

 

OREOS: A Book Whose Cover Was Better than Its Story

(Wait, what do you have against Oreos? Oreos are CLEARLY the superior cookie…)

(Okay, fine, I’ll answer the question…)

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: A Novel: Green, Hank ...

Unpopular opinion time…

Though it had a few moments of being funny, I ultimately DNF’d An Absolutely Remarkable ThingBetween the weird pacing, the unrealistic dialogue (Does ANYBODY actually say “LOL” in real life? That’s right, NOPE), almost everything about April May’s character (at least she admits that she treats her girlfriend like an object), and the gross misrepresentation of bisexuality, this one was kind of a recipe for disaster for me. No pun intended.

[heavy sigh] Whew, had to get that out…

 

TAGALONGS/PEANUT BUTTER PATTIES: A Book That Wasn’t What You Expected

Amazon.com: Crown of Coral and Pearl eBook: Rutherford, Mara ...

In this case, not in a good way.

Putting aside the fact that I thought that Crown of Coral and Pearl would feature mermaids [repeatedly slaps self in the face], I also thought this would be a fantasy novel. In reality, the only thing that might get it labeled as fantasy would be the fact that there’s a magical creature or two hidden in there towards the end of the novel.

 

SNICKERDOODLES: A Book You May Never Stop Rereading / Loving

Amazon.com: Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle) (9781524720964 ...

Aurora Rising‘Nuff said. Just re-read it a few days ago, actually. I’ve been thinking about this one a lot, lately (partly because I preordered Aurora BurningEEEEE)

 

If you want to listen to today’s song, just head over to today’s Goodreads Monday, as I already posted today. 😉

 

I tag anyone who wants to participate! 

Cookie Monster Eating GIF by Sesame Street - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

That’s it for this tag! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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