The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls (No-Spoiler) Review

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This was such an interesting story, and it’s one I’ve been wanting to read for quite some time. It had been hard to find (and pretty pricey!) but with the recent (and much more reasonably priced) addition of The Asylum to the kindle, there was no way I could resist snatching that baby up! Emilie Autumn has never shied away from discussing topics like mental illness and the history of abuse women have suffered throughout history in her songs and poems, and her book The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls sure as hell doesn’t shy away from it, either.

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“Fight Like A Girl”

It’s hard to categorize this book into any one genre since it is written in a way that reflects the author’s actual time spent in a psych ward, but also tells the fictional and horrific (but sometimes darkly magical) tale of a fictional girl named Emily living in a Victorian era asylum. In the book, our author Emilie learns the tale of the Victorian Emily “with a Y” through mysterious letters she finds during her stay in the psych ward. I guess “Historical Magic Realism with a dash of Nonfiction thrown in for good measure” would be my best attempt at categorizing it? No matter, though, it’s just a really interesting story that discusses things most people choose to ignore concerning mental illness and the Victorian “polite society” so many people are quick to romanticize.

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If you’re already a fan of Emilie Autumn’s music, I’m sure you’ll have a fair idea of what to expect within the pages of this story. She’s got a dark and witty sense of humor, and she can weave words in a way that will both enchant you and disturb you. This story definitely reflects that. It has moments that will warm your heart and others that will rip it right out of you again.

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I really enjoyed this book and by the time I reached the second half of it I pretty much devoured the remainder of the story in one sitting, refusing to pry myself away until I’d finished. I would definitely recommend it, but will warn readers that it does discuss dark subject matter concerning suicide, rape, the horrific treatment people were subjected to in asylums like lobotomies and forced-hysterectomies, all manners of abuse, etc. It definitely takes some artistic liberties, but that’s part of Miss Autumn’s storytelling I’ve always enjoyed, so I embraced the fantasy-like elements along with the more gritty and realistic ones. Definitely glad I finally got to read this one. πŸ™‚

And just for fun, here’s a lyric video of one of Emilie Autumn’s songs that serves as a satire about the treatment of women back in the Victorian era when it came to mental illness (please keep in mind that women could be institutionalized for all manner of things including masturbation, domestic troubles with their husband or family, and other ridiculous reasons back then.) A lot of things in this song might sound far-fetched by today’s standards, but treating those in asylums like zoo animals for the public to behold was a very real and messed up thing back in those days. History definitely isn’t always pleasant, but it is something we can (and should) learn from so we can better treat our fellow man and learn from our past ignorance.

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Fight Like a YA Girl Book Tag

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Books and wine make an excellent pairing, and this is something proven frequently over at the YA and Wine blog where you can find awesome wines to go with awesome books, fantastic reviews, and exciting posts about book/author-related events. I was thrilled to be tagged for Krysti’s newly created book tag about the many types of kick-ass ladies in literature. Big thanks to her for tagging me to do this awesome new tag! Now, let the ass-kickery begin!

THE RULES:

  • Thank the person who tagged you.
  • Mention the creator Krysti at YA and Wine
  • Match at least one YA girl with each of the themes below.
  • Tag as many people as you like!

WARRIOR GIRLS:

Okay, it’s been a very LONG time since I read this book, but I’m going with the Slayer (named Sophie) from Spike & Dru: Pretty Maids All in a Row (A Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel). Slayers are total warrior girls! πŸ™‚

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GIRLS WHO FIGHT WITH THEIR MIND:

How could I not choose Hermione Granger for this category? I mean, c’mon, she was the brightest witch of her age. πŸ˜‰

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GIRLS WHO FIGHT WITH THEIR HEART:

Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Karou has a lot of heart, and love plays a large part in her story.

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GIRLS WHO ARE TRAINED FIGHTERS:

Virginia au Augustus (aka: Mustang) from the Red Rising trilogy. I nearly picked her for the “girls who fight with their mind” category since she is known to be highly intelligent, but she is also trained to fight with more than just her mind so here she goes!

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STRONG GIRLS OF COLOR:

Inej Ghafa (aka- “The Wraith”) from Six of Crows. She’s strong in every sense of the word, and she’s one of the many reasons I can’t wait to read Crooked Kingdom!

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GIRLS WHO FIGHT TO SURVIVE:

Temple from The Reapers are the Angels. She’s grown up in a tough, zombie-filled world, and she’s never known anything else.

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GIRLS WHO ARE WEAPONS MASTERS:

Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games trilogy. Total pro with that bow and arrows. I wanted to list Inej and her trusty blades again for this, but I’m mixing it up with another girl and another type of weapon instead. πŸ˜›

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Fan art of Katniss by Me

GIRLS WHO DON’T CONFORM TO GENDER ROLES:

Okay, this series isn’t YA, but the young-but-fierce Arya Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire immediately came to mind, so she’s who I’m going with. πŸ˜€

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GIRLS WITH KICK-BUTT MAGICAL POWERS:

Nina Zenik from Six of Crows. She’s part of the Corporalki order of the Grisha (a heartrender, to be exact), which means she has the ability to snatch the air from your lungs or even stop your heart if you’re in her line of sight.

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STRONG GIRLS IN CONTEMPORARY NOVELS:

Honestly, this isn’t really an area of reading I’ve explored, so I’m stumped for an answer. Here’s a cute puppy instead!

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SERIOUSLY FIERCE GIRLS:

Isabelle Rossignol from The Nightingale. This book really isn’t strictly YA, but I feel like Isabelle’s half of the story could be considered YA, and she becomes one hell of a fierce girl. Not through brawn, but through her determination and spirit.

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MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK WITH A STRONG LEADING LADY:

Wonder Woman: Warbringer! I can’t wait for this one to come out. πŸ™‚

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So, ladies & gents, there we have it. πŸ˜€ This tag was a lot of fun, so I’m tagging each and every one of you!! Let’s spread this tag like wildfire and promote the hell out of some badass ladies in fiction! Have a great weekend, folks! ❀

The Happiest Reading Challenge: Updates

Just call me Scatter Brain McGee over here, because I’ve been meaning to (and forgetting to) talk about what I thought of Six of Crows after I read it! Oops! Shame on me, I know. As I’d mentioned before, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo was my May book selection for the Happiest Reading Challenge I’m taking part in, started by super-friendly blogger, The Happiest Pixel.

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Cover and Author of Six of Crows.

Despite what my lack of a timely review might indicate, I was absolutely head over heels infatuated with this book! It was seriously never a dull moment with criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker and his crew. From start to finish this book kept me intrigued and guessing as it surprised me time and time again with twist after delightful twist.

As is a very important thing for me when reading a book, I also loved the characters. They’re quite the mixed bag, and Bardugo manages to hop from POV to POV effortlessly throughout the tale in a way that never seems jarring or off-putting in the slightest. I myself have absolutely no problem with books with multiple POV shifts throughout the chapters, but I know some people who do, and I doubt even they would have minded in this book. It flows very nicely.

I’ve talked before about how beautiful I think the actual book is with its black-edged pages and gorgeous cover, so I won’t get much into that, other than to say that the writing is just as lovely as the book itself.

I could just keep on going on about how enjoyable of a read this was, but I’m gonna keep it brief and say: If you like a good heist story and want to read a book that lives up to all the hype, this is a damn good one to go with. Can’t wait to read the next one.

So, that covers May’s part of the challenge, but what about June so far? I mentioned already that I would be reading The Lies of Locke Lamora for this portion of the challenge, but believe it or not, I cannot find where I put the book!! *GASP* Like, what the hell? Did it just sprout legs and bound off somewhere? There is a possibility that I may have taken it to my boyfriend’s and left it there, but as my brain has been busy forgetting to post about Six of Crows it also took on the task of forgetting to ask my bf about the M.I.A. book as well. Sigh . . . one day I’ll get it all together, but today is not that day.

In the mean time, I’ve begun reading Gail Carriger’s first book in The Parasol Protectorate series, Soulless.

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Cover and Author of Soulless.

I’ve already read andΒ reviewed the manga trilogy based off of this series of paranormal steampunk novels, so I knew what I was getting into already. And that is a witty historical fiction series set in Victorian England. I’m interested to see how the manga series (which was only three volumes) will compare and differ to the source material, which is five novels.

Those are my updates for the reading challenge so far. How’s your reading going at the moment? Into any interesting books right now?

Wonder Woman (No-Spoiler Review)

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“You fight like a girl” is an all-too-often-hurled insult in school yards, but Wonder Woman is a classic icon of female empowerment, busting through these sorts of stereotypes and taking names. I’ve been excited to see the new WW film since the first trailer came out and it instantly gave me chills. After the long wait, the film finally hit theaters yesterday.Β  I was beyond excited when, by some lovely twist of fate, my boyfriend got out of work early on Friday, allowing us to visit the theater midday before the crowds came flooding in.

First thing’s first, I love Gal Gadot in this role. She nailed her performance in my opinion. Everything from Diana first being exposed to “polite society” in London after being raised and trained among only Amazons, to her refusing to back down from what she believes in and not being afraid to get into the thick of things in order to do so. She did a great job, and was someone you want to root for and believe in.

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This movie is Diana’s origin story, before the world would come to know her as Wonder Woman. The events unfold under the backdrop of WW1, in war-torn Europe. Having grown up in the Amazonian paradise that is Themyscira, Diana has no idea of the ugly reality of war she is stepping into when she decides to go into battle.

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I really enjoyed Chris Pine as Steve Trevor and what they did with his character throughout the movie. Even though the movie is called ‘Wonder Woman’ he doesn’t fall into some lame sidekick role with no ambitions of his own. All the actors did a good job in my opinion.

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I don’t want to go into too many more details because it’s more fun to just go see the movie for yourself. πŸ˜‰ I thought the film was really good, though, and I’m hoping to see more like this from DC with their upcoming films. *cough cough and maybe a Batwoman movie would be nice, too. cough cough* Just sayin’.

Review- DC Bombshells, Vol. 2: Allies

Wow, it’s hard to believe it’s been nearly five months since I finished readingΒ Volume 1 of DC Comics Bombshells! I absolutely loved the first volume so I was pretty excited to finally get around to reading the second volume.

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You know how sometimes you read something and it just really resonates with what is going on in the world around you? I definitely had this feeling while continuing the Bombshells’ saga. Between the current political climate and a particularly frustrating 48 hours where I had not one, not even two or three, but FOUR personal reminders of the importance of feminism, I was more than ready to see these female heroes kick some Nazi and misogynistic asses. πŸ˜›

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Volume 2 takes us all over the globe to locations like Berlin, London, and Greece as WWII continues to rage on. Even on the home front in Gotham City, tensions rise and danger looms. One thing I really like about DC Bombshells is that it touches on both soldier and civilian life during the war. No one goes unaffected by the horror going on in the world.

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As if the Axis Powers weren’t enough to contend with, a sinister supernatural influence continues to grow in power, bringing a horde of undead soldiers with it.

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The art continues to stun in this volume and the characters are fantastic. (Batwoman is still, of course, my fave!) Strong female relationships aplenty in these pages, both platonic and romantic alike. Also, just strong, kick ass females in general. The characters are believable with their own motivations, insecurities, weaknesses and strengths.

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The biggest bummer for me was that I was missing my girls, Harley and Ivy in this one. They were nowhere to be seen in volume 2. *Proceeds to pout in the corner.*

But, hey, at least we get more of Zatanna and Bunny Constantine!

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All in all, I really enjoyed volume 2. I think I enjoyed volume 1 a little bit more, but I’m still looking forward to reading the third volume very much.

Book Club Options- Waiting on the Votes to Roll In

I recently volunteered to host June’s night-out-on-the-town for the book club I’m in, which means I got to pick the book options! So as I wait for Wednesday night to roll around so I can tally up the votes I figured I would share the options I put out there with you guys. πŸ™‚

Option #1: The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts

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Phew! That is one lengthy title, but it definitely gets a person’s attention, so well done.

To save precious centuries-old Arabic texts from Al Qaeda, a band of librarians in Timbuktu pulls off a brazen heist worthy of Ocean’s Eleven.

Yup. Sign me up for this one. I’m sold. We’ve got several hardcore nonfiction lovers in our book club so I figured this was a good choice. πŸ™‚

Option #2: An Ember in the Ashes

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β€œAll the beauty of the stars means nothing when life here on earth is so ugly.”

I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about this one, so of course I had to include it in the list. (And if it doesn’t win I’m reading it anyway at some point!) πŸ˜‰

Option #3: In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom

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This is my other nonfiction selection. After listening to Yeonmi Park’s emotional and heartbreaking speech for One Young World I felt really compelled to read this book. Here’s the video of her moving speech if any of you are interested in listening. (Trigger Warning: topics such as intended suicide and rape are brought up in this video, among other tragic and unjust things, so just warning you guys).

 

Option #4: Red Sister

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It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of the Sweet Mercy Convent, Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men.

Here’s another book I’ve been hearing amazing things about. If this book wins it will be my first venture into the works of Mark Lawrence. (Honestly, even if it doesn’t win it probably still will be with all the great reviews I’ve been reading about it.) πŸ˜›

Option #5: Stalking Jack the Ripper

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A fictional tale involving Jack the Ripper. I enjoy historical fiction so this one seemed interesting.

So, those are my choices I selected for my fellow book club ladies to vote on. I’m very curious to see the winner once all the votes are in. So far it’s kind of all over the place, so I’m hoping the remaining two votes will nail down a concrete winner.

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? πŸ™‚

The Nightingale- No Spoiler Book Review

As Book lovers, many of us are well acquainted with those nights when we know we should get to bed, but we just can’t put down the book we’re reading until we’ve finished it. This was me last night while reading the last quarter of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

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I don’t even know how to do this book justice in a review, but I’m going to try my best just the same. This novel is a great example of what historical fiction as a genre can accomplish. It takes what we know of history but gives us as readers the ability to step into the shoes of the characters who are living through the events that happened before many of us were even born. It shows us parts of day to day life that we might otherwise not consider while reading about the overall big picture presented in our history books.

The Nightingale follows the lives of two very different sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, as they do what they must to survive in France during WWII. Vianne is the older of the two, a wife whose husband is being held prisoner in a Nazi war camp, but also a mother who wants more than anything to keep her daughter as safe as she can while struggling just to keep them fed. Isabelle is the young and impulsive sister with a rebel’s spirit, a girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. In German occupied France, these are dangerous times. Throughout the story the two sisters are forced to make choices time and time again that could be the difference between life and death, not only for themselves, but for those around them.

Several times while reading this I thought back to people I’ve met and cared for who were there in the thick of things during WWII. In previous jobs I’ve had I have taken care of people from different walks of life, born in different countries, but who all had lived during the same war. Soldiers, civilians, holocaust survivors. I’ve seen firsthand the numbers that were forcibly tattooed onto a person’s arm in their youth that they had to carry with them into their old age long after the war was over. I’ve seen how something seemingly as simple as helping someone to undress and take a shower even decades later can trigger a horrible flashback that mentally takes them right back to the horrors of life in a concentration camp. As I read The Nightingale I couldn’t help but be reminded of these people I once knew. I was moved to tears several times as I read this book.

There is a quote from the book that I think is very relevant now, much as it would have been back then. “What good is safety if she has to grow up in a world where people disappear without a trace because they pray to a different God?” Wars like WWII don’t happen overnight, and I think this book illustrates that very point. Hate, ignorance, and intolerance are all ugly things that can only build in momentum if we let them. This happened then, and one can’t help but feel it happening now. It makes another, older quote come to mind: Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. It is a disturbing thing to consider, but we as people have to learn from the mistakes of the past if there is ever to be any hope of us moving forward. As another quote from the book explains, “love has to be stronger than hate, or there is no future for us.”

The Nightingale shines a light on the ugliest parts of humanity as well as the beauty and compassion we are capable of if only we choose to do the right thing and be there for one another. It shows that love comes in many forms, not all of them perfect or easy.Β  This book gets a solid 5/5 stars from me.