Catching up on LGBT+ reviews: Classics

Catching up on LGBT+ reviews: Classics

Catching up on LGBT+ reviews: ClassicsThe Color Purple by Alice Walker
Published by Custom Publishing on December 1st 2010 (first published 1982)
Genres: LGBT+, Classic
Pages: 262
ISBN: 9781407230924
Goodreads
five-stars

Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture.

Continuing with short reviews for LGBT+ books I read in 2016 for Pretty Deadly ReviewsLGBTQIA 2016 Reading Challenge, it’s now time for the classics!

I’ve repeated it multiple times now, but this is one of my highlights for 2016. The Color Purple had been on my want-to-read list for a while now, and I finally found the book in London last December. When Our Shared Shelf picked it as the book club read for February it was clearly time to read it!

Heart-breaking, breath-taking, beautiful, sad, funny, perfect. Every aspect of this book was amazing, from the style to the characters to every little detail in the storyline. An absolute must-read for everyone.

After the book I also took time to watch the movie. Mehhh. The first half was alright, and then it just went down the drain. Everything I loved about the book disappeared from the movie. So whatever you do, do not watch the movie instead of reading the book..! (as if you would do that..!)

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Catching up on LGBT+ reviews: ClassicsOranges are not the only fruit by Jeanette Winterson
Published by Vintage on 1991 (first published 1985)
Genres: LGBT+, Young Adult, Classic
Pages: 171
ISBN: 9780099935704
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Jeanette, the protagonist of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit and the author's namesake, has issues--"unnatural" ones: her adopted mam thinks she's the Chosen one from God; she's beginning to fancy girls; and an orange demon keeps popping into her psyche. Already Jeanette Winterson's semi-autobiographical first novel is not your typical coming-of-age tale.

Technically I could’ve reviewed this book as a young adult book, but then the numbers would be too uneven 😉

I love Jeanette Winterson’s style, even though it is not always the easiest to read. I read Oranges after The Passion so I was expecting something very lyrical and quirky. However, Oranges is very accessible while still retaining the quirk. Not everything was easy to follow if you didn’t grow up in the UK though. Still, a very interesting coming-of-age novel not just for young adults. I think this is considered a classic by right!

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Catching up on LGBT+ reviews: ClassicsMr Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood
Published by Arrow on January 8th, 1987 (first published 1935)
Genres: LGBT+, Classic
Pages: 236
ISBN: 9780413422507
Goodreads
five-stars

On a train to Berlin in late 1930, William Bradshaw locks eyes with Arthur Norris, an irresistibly comical fellow Englishman wearing a rather obvious wig and nervous about producing his passport at the frontier. So begins a friendship conducted in the seedier quarters of the city.

I read this book as a culturally appropriate preparation for my trip to Berlin. Isherwood had been on my TBR for such a long time, so why not read him now? I really regret not doing so sooner! I’m not sure what I was expecting, but Mr Norris Changes Trains was wonderful. I read it in as little time as possible.

The characters, based on people Isherwood actually met during his time in Berlin, were fantastic. I had absolutely no problem imagining them, based on the descriptions. They are so vibrant and really make the characters come to life! Definitely one of Isherwood’s strengths. The characters are loveable and awkward, and by the end of the book you don’t really want to leave them.

So it’s no surprise that directly after finishing, I continued with…

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Catching up on LGBT+ reviews: ClassicsGoodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
Published by Panther on 1977 (first published 1939)
Genres: LGBT+, Classic
Pages: 208
ISBN: 9780586047958
Goodreads
four-half-stars

First published in 1939, Goodbye to Berlin is a brilliant evocation of the decadence and repression, glamour and sleaze of Berlin society in the 1930's - the time when Hitler slowly starts his move to power. It is inhabited by a wealth of characters: the unforgettable and “divinely decadent” Sally Bowles; plump Fräulein Schroeder, Peter and Otto, a gay couple struggling to come to terms with their relationship; and the distinguished and doomed Jewish family, the Landauers.

…more Isherwood! Goodbye to Berlin was more of a memoir (although quite strictly not) than Mr Norris Changes Trains. Isherwood’s style is very straightforward and he’s great at descriptions without it ever getting tiresome. I really felt myself transported to Berlin in the 1930s, eager to learn more about the city at that time. (And so I did – I went on Brendan Nash’s Isherwood tour around Nollendorfplatz!)

Goodbye to Berlin is much more fragmented than Mr Norris, with many characters being introduced, floating in and out of “Issyvoo”‘s life. But that is precisely what makes this novel such a slice-of-life kind of ‘memoir’. I loved it, and will definitely be seeking out more Isherwood (especially his post-WWII work, as I’m now quite curious how he has developed!).

Goodbye to Berlin was actually the basis for Cabaret (the 1972 movie), which I really should rewatch..!

On another note, if you’re not a fan of these rather uhm ‘classic’ covers, Penguin’s Vintage Classics has released a beautiful set of new covers.

LGBTQIA 2016 Reading Challenge

[Review] Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

[Review] Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

[Review] Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildHarry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, J.K. Rowling
Published by Little Brown on July 31st 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 330
ISBN: 9780751565355
Goodreads
three-stars

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Let me start by saying, I’m not outright dismissing The Cursed Child with my less-than-enthusiastic rating. I still really want to see the play.

Prologue: Of course I had already preordered the book at a local book store but when the publication date was there, I contemplated waiting a few days and picking it up after work. The weather on the release day was nice however, so I set out and picked up the book on July 31st.

I got home, put the book aside and continued reading Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling’s A Career of Evil. After all, I am hoping to get my hands on theatre tickets for the play and why would I read the script for the play if I could see it on stage? Reading plays is such a hit or miss anyway.

But the book was staring at me, people around me had started reading it, and would I really be able to wait nearly a year (if lucky!) before knowing what it was all about?

In the evening I caved. I opened the book, flipped to the first page, and started reading “just to check to see how script-y/readable it was”.

Conclusion after I finished 100 pages (aka act one): it was highly readable, and holy shit I was loving it! Had I not been a responsible adult who had to start work at 8am the next morning and really needed her sleep, I definitely would have finished it there and then.

Clearly this ‘book’ is a script. Scenes are short, there isn’t much depth (except perhaps for one recurring theme, View Spoiler »), because it’s a play. As a book it was a nice read nonetheless, much better than what I was expecting from a script. It wasn’t hard to imagine the scenes at all, as the dialogues were quite straightforward. Quite funny at times (I didn’t feel the serious parts as much though) but all in all I think it will be much better to see in action.

As for the actual story… After finishing, and without even reading any other reviews, my first thought was ‘well, this felt like fanfiction’. Turns out I’m not alone in this.

The thing is, I absolutely adored act one. Adored! And from there it went downhill.

Warning: minor spoilers ahead! (Large spoilers have been hidden)

Read More Read More

July Wrap-up

July Wrap-up

Monthly wrap-upIt seems I magically brought my blog back to life, more or less! I must say I’m quite proud, and *gasp* I’ve even got a bunch of posts scheduled! Now I have to get more social and then everything will be alright… right?

I am also going really fast with the reading challenge this year… 46 of 52 books read so far! July was a verrrrry good reading month 🙂

Read in July

  1. The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer
  2. A Haunted House by Virginia Woolf
  3. Stone Mattress: A Story by Margaret Atwood
  4. Mr Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood
  5. Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
  6. This One Summer by Jillian & Mariko Tamaki
  7. Moxyland by Lauren Beukes
  8. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  9. Yellow Rose by Nobuko Yoshiya
  10. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein
  11. Skim by Jillian & Mariko Tamaki

Confession: three of these are short stories and two are graphic novels, so clearly they were quick reads. Still, 11 titles is not bad. Also, many four and five star reads. I can’t even pick my favourite book this month. I wonder if I’m getting soft? (Although The Dark Wife received a harsh one star…)

Reading in August
No idea! No idea whatsoever! But on the last day of July I started both A Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling and, OF COURSE, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! I was going to wait with that book, seeing how there is a tiny bit of hope that I might actually still see the play… But then I realised that even if that’s the case, how on earth could I wait nearly a year? Plus, the book was staring at me. I swear.
I suspect I’ll finish it tonight, so expect a (non-spoilery!) review!

Catching up on LGBT+ reviews: Young Adult novels

Catching up on LGBT+ reviews: Young Adult novels

Catching up on LGBT+ reviews: Young Adult novelsTell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Published by Pan Publishing on February 14th 2013 (first published 2012)
Genres: LGBT+, Young Adult
Pages: 355
ISBN: 9781447202141
Goodreads
four-half-stars

1987. There's only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that's her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn's company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June's world is turned upside down. But Finn's death brings a surprise acquaintance into June's life--someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

I enthusiastically participated in Pretty Deadly ReviewsLGBTQIA 2016 Reading Challenge, but haven’t written all the reviews I’ve been meaning to write. So to catch up, here’s a collection of short reviews for the YA bunch!

Firstly there was Tell The Wolves I’m Home. Let me start with the positives: This was a beautiful and moving book and I really thoroughly enjoyed it. The author did a great job at describing emotions – loss, doubt, jealousy – and life as a teenager. The characters were interesting and for the most part likeable, even if they did unlikeable things. Also, like a proper YA novel, the pacing of the book was excellent.

At the same time I also have strong mixed feelings about the book. It’s told from June’s perspective, and in the grander scheme of things I get why. But she did not feel like the most important person in the book, the person deserving the attention. That, in my opinion, was Toby. I wish we had gotten more from him, about him, from his point of view. I wanted to get to know Toby, to feel his pain. June has lost the most important person in her life, but so did Toby.

All in all, I do recommend this book. Gorgeous, oh and do grab the tissues!

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Catching up on LGBT+ reviews: Young Adult novelsFalling From The Sky (Bear Creek #1) by Nikki Godwin
Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform on February 21st 2014
Genres: LGBT+, Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 288
Goodreads
two-stars

All stability in sixteen-year-old Ridge McCoy’s life crashed and burned in the plane crash that killed his dad. This summer-long basketball camp is his chance to improve his skills and escape his problems back home. But his summer plans take a turn in an unexpected direction when he meets Micah Youngblood, the guy who runs the carousel at the local mall and has a reputation for devouring straight boys’ heterosexuality for breakfast, alongside his chocolate chip pancakes.

Confession time: I only read this book because I was on the other side of the world, in the middle of nowhere, with a Kindle that had just broken down, and this was one of the few e-books on my phone that was semi readable.

I actually won this book back in 2014, but never got around to it before. To be frank, this book made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. Slightly too romantic, almost voyeuristic. And I was going to say: with a target audience that is probably not me, but that wouldn’t be fair. I have liked books like this before, it can be done well. And the book wasn’t all bad. It just definitely, definitely wasn’t for me.

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Catching up on LGBT+ reviews: Young Adult novelsYou Know Me Well by Nina LaCour, David Levithan
Published by Macmillan Children's Books on June 2nd, 2016
Genres: LGBT+, Young Adult
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781509823932
four-stars

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

This was a spur-of-the-moment, I-want-to-read-something-recently-published buy. And I have no regrets! Although the synopsis sounds a bit ‘whatever’, the book itself is pretty cool. The book takes place during Pride celebrations in San Francisco, and while it started out just alright – the focus is very heavily on friendship and (potential) relationships – it soon turned into this fun YA/Pride explosion. And that’s mostly the appeal of this book, I think. I feel like I was missing out as a teenager!

Recommended!

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Catching up on LGBT+ reviews: Young Adult novelsThe Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer
Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform on May 12th, 2011
Genres: LGBT+, Young Adult
Pages: 264
ISBN: 9781461179931
Goodreads
one-star

Three thousand years ago, a god told a lie. Now, only a goddess can tell the truth. Persephone has everything a daughter of Zeus could want--except for freedom. She lives on the green earth with her mother, Demeter, growing up beneath the ever-watchful eyes of the gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus. But when Persephone meets the enigmatic Hades, she experiences something new: choice. Zeus calls Hades "lord" of the dead as a joke. In truth, Hades is the goddess of the underworld, and no friend of Zeus. She offers Persephone sanctuary in her land of the dead, so the young goddess may escape her Olympian destiny. But Persephone finds more than freedom in the underworld. She finds love, and herself.

I practically want to throw a tantrum over this book. I really, really wanted to like it. Lesbian retelling of Greek mythology? Yes please!

But nope, I ended up hating it. It started out alright, and I had high hopes for it. But frankly, it just went downhill and became a steady two-star read. And that’s when I just should’ve stopped reading, about three quarters in. But I was stubborn, and so many people had liked it, so I decided to finish it.

BAM, 1 star. I hate it when that happens.

LGBTQIA 2016 Reading Challenge

Challenge Update: Women’s Classic Literature Event

Challenge Update: Women’s Classic Literature Event

Women's Classic Literature Event

My first Challenge Update this year was my late halfway-into-2016 update on the Goodreads reading challenge. You can read more about that here!

One of my aims this year has been to read as many books written by women as possible. When I saw the Women’s Classic Literature Event hosted by The Classics Club, I didn’t have to think twice.

So here is what I have read so far:

  1. The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall
  2. The Waiting Years by Fumiko Enchi
  3. A Riot of Goldfish by Kanoko Okamoto
  4. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  5. The Secrets of the Wild Wood by Tonke Dragt
  6. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
  7. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  8. A Haunted House by Virginia Woolf
  9. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

And what a wonderful experience it has been so far! Not a single disappointment yet. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of these books. The Color Purple is my highlight of the year so far, but otherwise it’s hard to pick a favourite. Some of these authors I had read before, many of them had been on my list for forever, and then I am also glad to have tried new-to-me author Shirley Jackson.

I am definitely not going to stop reading classics by women, and recommendations are always welcome!