January 2017 Highlights

Happy New Years everyone! Christmas is over and January has arrived, that time of year where we really should be in the gym working off the the cookies, but instead just want to curl up with all the new books we got for Christmas! And avoid the bitter, bitter cold. The year ahead looks great for new books, so let’s start things off right with our list for January.

Serena’s Picks

28962896Book: “The Cold Eye” by Laura Anne Gilman

Publication Date: January 10, 2017

Why I’m Interested: I haven’t reviewed it yet on this site, but the first book in this series, “Silver on the Road,” was one of my favorite reads in a long while. It’s essentially a fantasy western novel featuring a great heroine and unique magic system. The first book was almost a travelogue and had a very apprentice/mentor story line as Isobel learns her role as the Left Hand (pretty much a magical enforcer). I’m excited to see where the author takes this story! There were a lot of strings left hanging, especially with regards to her companion Gabriel’s back story.

28818314Book: “RoseBlood” by A. G. Howard

Publication Date: January 10, 2017

Why I’m Interested: This is a risky pick because it’s another one of those that is based on an original classic that I loved and so as all the more opportunity for disappointment. This time, a modern re-make of “The Phantom of the Opera” featuring a female Phantom? I think? I love this story, especially the musical version, so I’m intrigued by the idea of a young adult retelling of it. Of course, it could also be hugely disappointing based on these same high expectations and I’m also a bit unsure about its being set in the modern era? (Will there be texting and stuff??) But I can’t not check it out either, so we will see what comes of this!

30037275Book: “Heartstone” by Elle Katharine White

Publication Date: January 17, 2017

Why I’m Interested: I can’t help myself! Whenever I find a re-imaging of “Pride and Prejudice” I just have to read it, no matter that I’ve been burned so many times in the past! (And also, there are always exceptions like “Shades of Milk and Honey” that I mostly liked and the brilliant “Death Comes to Pemberley” that I very much liked). Anyways, this is yet another retelling somehow mixing Jane Austen’s classic tale with tons of magical beasts. Sounds kind of like “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” except insert gryphons, direwolves, and dragons in there instead of the zombies. Could be fun! Could be awful! Only one way to find out!

Kate’s Picks

29430791Book: “Little Heaven” by Nick Cutter

Publication Date: January 10th, 2017

Why I’m Interested: Nick Cutter is an author who has intrigued me, but i haven’t been able to read his last few books. With “The Troop” it was because it was parasite themed, and I am NOT here for that! With “The Deep” it was ocean horror based, and I’m not here for that either (unless sharks are involved, otherwise nope)! But now this one sounds like wilderness, paranoia horror, and THAT I am here for! He’s had a lot of good buzz, and so I’m finally stoked that my neuroses can be held at bay as I read this one.

29244734Book: “X-Files Origins: Devil’s Advocate” by Johnathan Mayberry

Publication Date: January 3rd, 2017

Why I’m Interested: BECAUSE DUH! It’s “The X-Files”! Also, it’s a story about Scully when she’s a teenager! I love both Mulder and Scully, but I think that of the two Scully is the more interesting one. One of the reasons for that is that she is a skeptical and grounded scientist, but she is also deeply religious. And this story goes back to her teenage years and tries to give origins to why she is a skeptic, with a backdrop of Satanic Panic and murder serving to set the scene. I am beyond excited for this. And not just this, because….

29244700Book: “X-Files Origins: Agents of Chaos” by Kami Garcia

Publication Date: January 3rd, 2017

Why I’m Interested: BECAUSE THERE IS A SECOND ONE FROM MULDER’S SIDE! If I find Scully the more interesting of the two, I find Mulder to be the more relatable of the two (I am such a believer, or at least want-t0-believer). So of course I’m also going to read this book! Is this a cheat to pick both? NO. They’re totally different stories from different writers. The description for this one is just as vague as the one for Scully’s, but I don’t even care because I will be on board for this no matter what.

What books are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments!

Serena’s Favorite Reads of 2016: Picks 5 Through 1

The end of the year is upon us, and we are about to embark into 2017. Given that we both did a lot of reading this past year, and had a lot of opinions about what we read, we thought that we would reveal our top picks of the year this entire week! Today I’m finishing my countdown with my top 5 favorite books of the year!

 22567184Pick Number 5: “Den of Wolves” by Juliet Marillier

“Den of Wolves” Review

Juliet Marillier is one of my absolute favorite authors, so it’s no surprise that any book published by her will most likely end up on a list like this. This year we had the final (what looks to be the final, at least) book in her “Blackthorn and Grim” trilogy. I’ve really enjoyed this whole series as it represent a combination of many of Marillier’s staples (lyrical writing, an Irish historical fantasy setting, romance/adventure) and mixes it with new aspects (two lead characters, both older, a healthy dash of mystery/suspense, and a much slower burn romance). While I’m sad that the series seems to be over, “Den of Wolves” was an excellent final chapter for Blackthorn and Grim.

40158Pick Number 4: “The Queen of Attolia” by Megan Whalen Turner

“The Queen of Attolia” Review

Many of the books I’ve already listed have been the final entry into a series, so this is perhaps a strange choice as it is the second book in an ongoing series (there have been two that followed it with a third on its way this spring). But this book was really a game changer for the series. “The Thief” was brilliant with its sudden reveal towards the end of the book, but that just set the bar all the higher for this book. How do you keep your series interesting when the cat’s out of the bag with regards to your protagonist’s brilliance? Further, Whalen Turner sets the stakes even high by attempting a complete 180 with the villain of the previous book, bringing to life the nuanced and complex inner-workings of the Attolia herself. This book highlights how to do YA political fantasy right.

City of StairsPick Number 3: “City of Stairs” by Robert Jackson Bennett

“City of Stairs” Review

This book caught me completely off guard. It had been on my list for a while, but honestly, whenever I looked at it I was put off my an uninspiring cover and rather confused book description. But man, this book was great. It’s lead characters were brilliant: Shara, a “Hermione Granger” like chatacter, and her “secretary,” Sigrund, a giant Viking of a man. The world-building was amazing and creative: a world full of complicated history regarding colonialism and religion. Philosophical musings! Witty mannerisms! It was great. It’s technically the first in a series, but can also be read as a stand alone. I have to admit, it was such a high that I’m still scared to pick up the second. Maybe in 2017…

9591398Pick Number 2: The “Fairyland” series by Catherynne M. Valente

  1. “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making” Review
  2. “The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There” Review
  3. “The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two” Review
  4. “The Boy Who Lost Fairyland” Review
  5. “The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home” Review

Look, I had to just include this whole series, other wise the entire list would have just been populated with individual entries for each, and no one wants that! The “Fairyland” series features some of the most beautiful, creative writing that I have read in…maybe forever. It’s a modern day “Alice in Wonderland” with more heart. September, Saturday, A Through L, and the many friends (and enemies!) they meet throughout the story are just so brilliant. Valente walks the perfect line between nonsense and poignant wisdom. What could have come across as saccharine in another author’s hand, instead reads as a beautiful and insightful look into childhood, friendship, love, and growing up.

311326Pick Number 1: The “Amelia Peabody” series by Elizabeth Peters

  1. “The Crocodile on the Sandbank” Review
  2. “The Curse of the Pharaohs” Review
  3. “The Mummy Case” Review
  4. “Lion in the Valley” Review
  5. Deeds of the Disturber” Review
  6. “The Last Camel Died at Noon” Review

Second verse, same as the first! All ten entries could have been just this and the “Fairyland” series, essentially. But truly, I do find it fitting that my top two spots went to a young adult fantasy series and a historical/mysteries series, covering all of my loves! This series made it to the top spot based on the pure, unadulterated enjoyment that all of the books delivered. There are probably other entries on this list with stronger, over all writing. Other books with more creative worlds. Still others with more complex plots. But none of them were as much fun to read as all six of these have been so far. What’s most impressive is the longevity of the series. It was easy to worry that the “shtick”  could wear off with repetition. How could the books retain their charm? Wouldn’t the wittiness of the characters become tired? Just how many murders can happen around this family? But hats off to  Elizabeth Peters. Thank you for bringing Amelia Peabody to life.

So there’s my list. So many great reads in just one year! Challenge to you, 2017.

 

 

 

Serena’s Favorite Reads of 2016: Picks 10 Through 6

The end of the year is upon us, and we are about to embark into 2017. Given that we both did a lot of reading this past year, and had a lot of opinions about what we read, we thought that we would reveal our top picks of the year this entire week! So today I’m going to countdown from ten to six.

22840421Pick Number 10: “My Lady Jane” by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

“My Lady Jane” Review

My first pick is this quirky, historical comedy that completely blindsided me. It was a book that I had thrown on to a Highlights lists simply based on the wackiness of the plot synopsis (Lady Jane Grey’s story re-told in a manner similar to “The Princess Bride” and featuring a love interest who turns into a horse during the day). But it sold me! It sold me on solid writing, hilarious dialogue, a great heroine, and just the right amount of camp to become a real page turner. Just teaches me not to judge a book based on the weirdness of its description!

18068907Pick Number 9: “Court of Fives” & “Poisoned Blade” by Kate Elliot

“Court of Fives” Review & “Poisoned Blade” Review

Ok, so this is kind of cheat-y, but I literally rated these two equally in my reviews of them both, and as they are part of a series…yeah, I can justify this decision all day long, if you want! Featuring a spunky heroine, a diverse and unique world, and lots of action (not just the typical fantasy fare of sword fighting and such, but actual sports competitions) these two books were a blast. As a few more cherries on the top, it presented a YA heroine who has her priorities in the correct order and a love interest/romance plot that is believable and enjoyable.

17378527Pick Number 8: “The Raven King” by Maggie Stiefvater

“The Raven King” Joint Review

Kate and I read and reviewed this entire series, and it was one that only got better as it went along. So, while I loved them all, I chose to feature this, the last book in the series, as my pick for this list. Enough can’t be said about Stiefvater’s skills as a young adult fantasy novelist. Her writing is so incredibly poignant and lyrical, her world-building is unique and often quite dark and daring, and her characters always pull at the heart strings. The balancing act that she pulls off with this series (especially with nailing an ending in this book that she had been laying the groundwork for from the very start), featuring so many distinct characters, perspectives and voices, all while never losing her way with a complex plot, is truly impressive.

27190613Pick Number 7: “As I Darken” by Kiersten White

“As I Darken” Review

I’m pretty sure I featured this book in the same bizarre “Highlights” post that included “My Lady Jane” and pretty much for the same reason: too weird not to read! And again I was blown away by another fantastic story! What if Vlad the Impaler was a woman? And she had a brother? And they had a complicated relationship, made all the more complicated by growing up as royal hostages and developing feelings for their mutual friend, the prince who will one day rule? This book is dark and deeply lovely, setting up complicated characters whose struggles are heartbreaking and wonderful.

The Last Mortal BondPick Number 6: “The Last Mortal Bond”

“The Last Mortal Bond” Review

I reviewed this entire trilogy on the blog, but only read this, the last in the series, for the first time this year. As we all know, sticking the landing is challenging in the best of situations. Even more so here, as Staveley had set up his three protagonists, the siblings and children of the recently passed Emperor, as at odds with each other, each one with different pieces of a very large puzzle at their disposal. The world building and plot are driven by a complex web of different political, religious, and cultural perspectives, so if you’re in the mood for detailed high fantasy that does have an ending not only in sight but in print (coughGAMEOFTHRONEScough), then this series is for you!

So that’s ten through six. Next time I will give a countdown of my top five. What have been some of your favorite reads of 2016?

Kate’s Favorite Reads of 2016: Picks 10 Through 6

The end of the year is upon us, and we are about to embark into 2017. Given that we both did a lot of reading this past year, and had a lot of opinions about what we read, we thought that we would reveal our top picks of the year this entire week*! So today I’m going to countdown from ten until six. There will probably be some familiar titles on here, but maybe a few I haven’t even talked about yet…

18692431Pick Number 10: “Everything, Everything” by Nicola Yoon

The first book on this list that I haven’t reviewed on this blog! This realistic YA book is about a girl named Madeline who has a rare disease that means she needs to stay in a very clean, sterilized environment, lest she fall incredibly sick. But when she meets the new boy in the neighborhood, she starts to wonder if she could have more. This book is poignant, sweet, and incredibly romantic as well. Though a little predictable, Madeline is so well written and the situation so unique to YA fiction it has to be noted and recognized. Yoon is a great writer, who will hopefully be gracing us with her books and words for a long time.

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Pick Number 9: “Disappearance at Devil’s Rock” by Paul Tremblay.

“Disappearance at Devil’s Rock” Review

Paul Tremblay’s newest horror novel, this one concerning the disappearance of a teenage boy, took some time to build up, but once it reached the breaking point it turned into a very disturbing, upsetting, and tragic read. Tremblay is masterful at mounting his suspense, and along with that he knows how to portray some very real and complex people in a heartwreching situation. I had this book in my mind long after I finished it, especially the concept of Shadow Doppelgangers, and “The Third Man” phenomenon personified. And plus, outside of the disturbing, his take on grief is so raw and haunting that thinking about it still aches.

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Pick Number 8: “DC Comics Bombshells: Enlisted” by Marguerite Bennett

“DC Comics Bombshells: Enlisted” Review

This was a comic that warmed my DC Girl heart! I loved seeing all my favorite female superheroes from the DC Universe put in an alternate history WWII storyline, and I especially loved that so many of them were incredibly well thought out and strongly portrayed. It was fun seeing Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Supergirl, and many others settling into fun roles that reflect the time period, but also let them show off their unique strengths. And plus, DC Heroines fighting Nazis??? Boy howdy, am I there!! Comics fans looking for a gracefully executed feminist story should pick this up post haste!

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Pick Number 7: “Hidden Bodies” by Caroline Kepnes

“Hidden Bodies” by Caroline Kepnes Review

I also read the first book in this series, “You”, but I enjoyed “Hidden Bodies” a bit more than that one. I think the reason for this is because Kepnes was fully comfortable with her sociopathic main character Joe Goldberg in this story. We know he’s a creep now, and we are allowed to revel in his reprehensibility and let ourselves enjoy it in a schadenfreude kind of way. I liked this one so much I actually listened to it on audiobook a few months after reading it, and I still laughed out loud and cringed at the seriously icky parts. I still hold out hope that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Joe Goldberg.

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Pick Number 5: “Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale” by Robert Aguirre-Sacasa

“Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale” Review

I’m still dumbfounded that Archie Comics is the publisher that is putting out the best horror comics in the game right now. But “Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale” is a solid and scary zombie story. Aguirre-Sacasa does a great job of taking these familiar characters and turning them into zombie killers while keeping them true to their characters. Along with that, he makes a few of them far more interesting, and sometimes twisted, than their original iterations. Specifically the Blossom Twins, Cheryl and Jason. I’m still totally gagged by their relationship in this, in both meanings of the word. A great horror comic to be sure.

So that’s ten through six. Next time I will give a countdown of my top five. What have been some of your favorite reads of 2016?

*Note: I won’t be including re-reads on this list. I love you, “Transmetropolitan”, but this is for new titles!

Not Just Books: December 2016

While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!

Serena’s Picks

ka-miracle-on-34th-street Movie: “Miracle on 34th Street”

Obviously this falls under the category of old movies we’ve “discovered,” but even that’s not true! Let’s be real, I watch this movie EVERY Christmas. It’s a classic for a reason and there is something to love for just about everyone. You have the romance, the friendship, the family, the humor, the villains, the court room action, and the feel goods. Not to mention, the adult in me loves this movie even more now than I did as a kid, with its main message being that even adults should believe in Santa Claus! And the larger message, that whether or not he was actually Santa Claus was beyond the point: Christmas is about loving and caring for everyone, and in that, Mr. Claus was the epitome of Christmas.

mv5bndawmdy0nja2ml5bml5banbnxkftztgwmta1nti3nze-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_TV Show Episode: “President-Elect Trump: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”

Wild emotional swing in the other direction, my second pick is this episode on “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” I’ve been watching this show since it started and have really enjoyed the mixture of comedy and in-depth reporting on often bizarre subjects that don’t get nearly enough attention.(Of course, comedy comes first, this isn’t real news, etc.etc.) Obviously, the “not enough attention” bit isn’t the case with this episode’s subject, and while I don’t want to get into the politics of it all, this episode, and particularly the ending, were a bit cathartic for me this last month!

mv5bmweyowvhmgitzjbjyy00nwq2lwizmdutzmfkzwqwyje1mmuwxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyndyzmju1odu-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_YouTube Series: “Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party”

My friend Emily (who will hopefully be a guest poster this coming year!) put me on to this YouTube series. For fans of similar YouTube sensations such as the “Pride and Prejudice” and “Emma” remakes, this will is a perfect next step, featuring some familiar faces! It’s been fun over the years seeing the evolution of YouTube, and it’s shows like this that really highlight the unique storytelling methods that cane be used on a platform like YouTube vs. traditional TV/movie plotting. It’s also hilarious, so there’s that. Will specifically appeal to English majors and book nerds!

Kate’s Picks

frasierTV Series: “Frasier”

Like Serena, this isn’t really a discovery for me. I have been a fan of the show “Frasier” since I was in grade school, but it has always been one of my comfort shows to say the very least. My husband is also a fan, and we have started a re-watch of it from the beginning (thank you, Netflix!). What I like best about this show is that even though it’s incredibly 90s in a lot of ways, it also stands the test of time with its themes and humor. Plus, everyone on this show is amazing, from curmudgeon-y Frasier, to kind and eccentric Daphne, to fussy Niles and grumpy Martin (and his adorably weird dog Eddie). Even Roz, who is a bit of a 90s relic in her trope of being ‘easy’, is still amazing with her snark and heart. I love this show and boy do I love having access to it when I need it most. Tossed salads and scrambled eggs….

scrooged_film_posterMovie: “Scrooged”

So speaking of all time favorite Christmas movies in the history of EVER, I am going to give a bit shout out to “Scrooged!” Now it’s true that “A Christmas Carol” has been redone and retold many, many times, and while the Muppets did a bang up job, for me Bill Murray did it best. “Scrooged” puts the traditional tale in the TV business in the 1980s, when greed was good and materialism was even better. Bill Murray as Frank Cross is a hoot, and the analogs for the other characters are also spectacular. My personal favorite is Carol Kane as a manic and violent Ghost of Christmas Present. Not only is it funny, it’s also very sweet (the romance between Murray and Karen Allen is just the best), scary (the TV headed Ghost of Christmas Future anyone?), and not at all twee (Calvin is the very best Tiny Tim because he isn’t saccharine at all!). This is the Christmas movie I’m sure to watch twice during the holiday season, and if you haven’t seen it, give it a watch next year.

unnamed-6Web Series: “UNHhhh with Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova

So for anyone who has been paying attention to my gif selection, it should come as no surprise that I LOVE “RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE”!!!!!!!! So, so much. But it’s the offseason at the moment, as “RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars 2” ended in October and the next season won’t start until next year. But I’m not worried, because I have the web series “UNHhhh”, which stars Trixie Mattel and Katya. They were two shining stars on a pretty lackluster season (Season 7, sorry Violet Chachki), and now they have their own web series where they just riff and wax poetic about random things, playing off each other and just being silly. Many delights include talking about bad hookups, Katya’s obsession with the movie “Contact”, and really funny editing that mimics the stories they tell. It’s crazy and irreverent and crude and adorable.

What non-book pop culture things have you been obsessed with this month? Tell us in the comments!

Happy Holidays! Favorite Holiday Books

Happy Holidays everyone! Winter is the perfect time to snuggle down with a cozy blanket, a cat, and a great seasonal book. And in celebration of this great time of year, we’re highlighting our favorite holiday reads!

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 Book: “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C. S. Lewis

Publication Info: Geoffrey Bles, October 1950

Not only is the Narnia series a fantasy classic, but this, the first book (let’s not get into the chronological debate, this will always be the first one!!) is a perfect Christmas read, because we all know that the premise is so true: Winter with no chance of Chirstmas would be the worst! Everything about this book makes it a great winter read: the fur coats, the snowy setting, the White Witch, and, of course, Santa Claus. Whether you’ve never read this book before, or read it a million times, this is a great one to check out this winter season!

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Book: “Breadcrumbs” by Anne Ursu

Publishing Info: Walden Pond Press, September 2011

There are a few winter fairytales that must make this list, and my all time favorite “The Snow Queen” is first up with this middle grade retelling. This book features the perfect mix of familiar elements from the original story (a young boy and girl who are friends, boy’s heart becomes frozen, girl goes on adventure to save boy) and many new twists. It’s great for fans of fantasy as there are fun references to other works like “Harry Potter” and “The Wizard of Oz” all over the place. It also features a diverse cast and, bonus!, is set in our hometown of Minneapolis (let’s be honest, Minnesota is the perfect setting for any winter-based story).

161887 Book: “East” by Edith Pattou

Publishing Info: HMH Books for Young Readers, May 2005

Another classic winter fairytale is “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” featuring a girl who is stolen away by a snow bear king who lives in a castle full of secrets. This fiarytale eventually evolved in “Beauty and the Beast,” but also remains popular in its more original form. There are a million re-tellings of this story, but this is one of the best as it is basically a straight up novel-length version of the fairytale with very few major changes to the plot. A perfect read for fans of “Beauty and the Beast!”

17406545Book: “NOS4A2” by Joe Hill

Publishing Info: William Morrow, April 2013

No, don’t look at us like we’re crazy. “NOS4A2” is definitely a good pick for a cozy holiday read! Sure, maybe that’s because a child kidnapper takes his victims to a surrealistic dream scape he likes to call Christmasland, where it’s the worst Christmas ever…. But hey, it’s also a really good book that has to do with family, friendship, independence, and facing your fears. Plus, the main character is a kick butt lady named Vic who rides a motorcycle and is determined to save her son from Charlie Manx, the man who is head of the demonic Christmas town. An the holidays are a time for family.

1370300Book: “The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming” by Lemony Snicket and LIsa Brown (Ill.)

Publishing Info: McSweeney’s, January 2007

So maybe this is a picture book, but Lemony Snicket brings a lot of humor and heart to this story about a Hanukkah latke who is trying to explain his holiday to a bunch of Christmas objects. It’s a witty take on the dilemma that many Jewish children face around Christmas time, when people aren’t as in tune with the menorah and dreidels as they are to Santa Claus and reindeer. Plus it stars a frustrated screaming latke who wants others to know why he is significant.

30152Book: “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash” by Jean Shepherd

Publishing Info: Broadway Books, October 1966

No doubt many of you are familiar with the holiday cult classic film “A Christmas Story”. But maybe you didn’t know that it was based on a book by Jean Shepherd (who served as narrator in the original film). This book goes far beyond the movie, however, as it focuses more on the hometown exploits of a boy named Ralph and the things that (possibly) went on in Shepher’s own childhood. But never fear. The authentic Red Rider BB Gun and the ‘Special Award’ still makes appearances! Shepherd is heralded as the original Garrison Keilor, and his dry wit and humor will keep you laughing on cold winter nights.

What are your favorite books to read during the holiday season? Let us know below in the comments! And have a Happy Holiday Season and New Year!

Who Rules The World? Girls!: Books With Women Who Kick Ass

Look, no mincing words here. We’re very disappointed with how last weeks Presidential Election turned out. We’re sure you guys can guess why, though that shouldn’t be too hard because the list is long and terrifying. But there were a few small glimmers of hope on Election Night. In our own Minnesota, Ilhan Omar became the first Somali-American  to be elected to the Minnesota House. Tammy Duckworth won the Senate seat in Illinois. And Kate Brown secured the Governorship of Oregon. In honor of the women who didn’t win and the women who did, we’ve put together a list of books with inspirational women, be they fictitious or not, to share with you all.

17851885Book: “I am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

Publication Info: Little, Brown and Company, October 2013

At fifteen years old, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai was an outspoken activist for women’s and girls’ education in Pakistan. At the time the Taliban had moved into her home country and had started imposing that girls not be allowed to go to school, and Malala spoke against this. It was because of this that she was shot in the head while riding a bus to school. She survived, and her story has taken the world by storm, putting a spotlight on education for women the world over. Malala’s memoir details her life before her activism, the fallout after her attempted murder, and how she continues to strive and fight for the right for girls to go to school. It’s poignant, inspirational, and incredibly relatable, and you see her courage and determination in her writing and storytelling.

5960325Book: “Shanghai Girls” by Lisa See

Publication Info: Random House, May 2009

Starting in pre-WWII Shanghai and moving through the Red Scare era of Los Angeles, “Shanghai Girls” tells the story of two remarkable Chinese women who live and fight against adversity. Pearl and May are sisters growing up in 1930s Shanghai and having the time of their lives. But then their father informs them that he has sold them as brides to pay off his debts, and they are going to marry two Chinese men who are moving to Los Angeles. But before Pearl and May can join their husband (in Pearl’s case) and future husband (in May’s), the Japanese invade. Their fight for survival in China is devastating, and their adjustment to life in America is jarring. But both Pearl and May show strength and resolve in spite of the horrors and hardships that fall upon them, and their fight against oppression of all kinds will inspire you.

5805Book: “V for Vendetta” by Alan Moore and David Lloyd

Publication Info: Vertigo, 1990

Though many people probably immediately think of V, the Guy Fawkes mask wearing vigilante, in the groundbreaking comic by Alan Moore, “V for Vendetta” also features Evey Hammond, his mentee turned critic turned partner. Evey turns from a victim within the dystopic London she lives in to someone who is actively fighting against the oppressive system, and could be argued to be the true protagonist in this story. V is very much the symbol of the revolutionary ideals at their most extreme. Evey is there to show how a normal woman can take power back in her life and help lead a revolution, and not only shape it, but claim it as her own and keep it going. She has her moments of self doubt and struggle, and questions the morally ambiguous decisions that come before her. She’s a tough gal with a lot to relate to.

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Book: “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins

Publication Info: Scholastic Press, September 2008

Okay, so maybe this is an obvious one. But it’s hard to deny that Katniss Everdeen from District 12, aka The Girl on Fire is a force to be reckoned with within her story. A girl who comes from humble beginnings in a poverty stricken society offers herself up to a battle to the death to save her sister, only to spark a revolution. Sure, the love triangle is a bit much, and sure, last book in the series has a lot of criticism thrown its way, but Katniss is always a well rounded and reluctant hero, with realistic problems and a fortitude that leaps off the page. “The Hunger Games” is the start of her journey, and Katniss really is at her best here.

25953369Book: “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly

Publication Info: HarperCollins World, September 2016

So many stories have been suppressed and removed from history when it comes to scientific achievement, and a new book and movie are making waves about some ingenious women who made their mark in the mathematics field. A group of African American women working for NASA were some of the pioneers behind the space race, working numbers and data that would eventually propel rockets into the air and send man into space. Though their story has been overlooked for a long time, a newly published book shows that these women were essential to the propulsion of the American Space Race. If you like science and STEM things along with American history, this could be the book for you.

28502749Book: “Rad Women Worldwide” by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klien Stahl (Ill.)

Publication Info: Ten Speed Press, September 2016

Why have one or two awesome ladies in a book when you can have a whole lot of them?! In this collection of biographies and essays, a large number of women from all over the world are given their time in the spot light. The backgrounds run the gamut, from artists (like Frida Kahlo) to musicians (like punk icon Poly Styrene to world leaders (like Hatsepshut). This collection for younger readers will open a world of really neat ladies who will inspire kids for all kinds of reasons.

There are, of course, many more super inspirational books about women, fiction and non fiction alike. What are some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments!