Non Fiction

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

we should all be feminists

We live in a society where shame can cause us to put on so much emotional armour that we are no longer connecting with others. You can call it fear, self-doubt, insecurity… whatever we call it, it’s than feeling we may get from time to time thinking we may just not be good enough. And all we do want is to hide. You may know by now, that shame is something Dr Brené Brown’s books talk about and I did explore it a bit in this post.

Why am I talking about shame whilst analysing a book about feminism? You see, how we perceive shame has something to do with our gender.

As Brown says, women tend to experience shame mostly about appearance – if we are thin, young or/and beautiful enough. Side note: of course, appearance shame is not limited to women only, men can experience it as well. It is however the number one shame trigger amongst women.

Adichie says: “forget the history of the word and the baggage it carries and think about the idea of it”.

And I agree. But before we do that, let’s address shame first.

Let’s say I tell my friend I’m a feminist and he looks at me and laughs whist saying back: “so you are telling me you stopped caring, won’t use deodorant and won’t shave your legs?”. Side note: that actually happened to me, admittedly it was more than a decade ago and had a lot to say about that certain individual rather than me… but the memory of it still stinks sometimes.

If the baggage around the word feminism targets a lack of interest in women’s appearances… then by default, it is used to instil shame in women. In other words, if you are a feminist, you clearly don’t care about your appearance, shame on you!

It bothers me.

That baggage is heavy, and I admit there were times when I would rather use a label of a ‘human activist’. Which is not a lie as I wholeheartedly believe in equal rights regardless of one’s gender, age, ethnicity, political, religious and sexual preferences etc.

But that didn’t specifically address the gender issue.

And I admit I was afraid. I didn’t want to be perceived in a certain way where I would have to defend myself. And I didn’t want to feel ashamed.

“My own definition is a feminist is a man or a woman who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.”

Not only we can start viewing that word feminist as something both men and women could use, but we can also address how we raise our children – and that applies to raising both girls and boys.

Side note: this is not to shame anybody’s parenting skills, I believe we all do the best we can. I’m talking about more general issue that goes very deep into our origins and roles we all play in this, regardless if we are parents or not.

In general, girls tend to be taught to be careful, to stay away from danger so they won’t get hurt. Boys are encouraged to be brave, to go out and seek adventures. If a boy gets hurt, he will be clapped for being the daring one, if a girl gets hurt, she will be scolded for being reckless and told not to do it again… Boys are encouraged to be loud, angry at times. But girls.. not so much. Pleasant is a word I personally cannot stand but sadly is the one sometimes used to describe a ‘nice’ woman. Why is it that if a woman is angry, she may be perceived as hysterical whereas a man may be perceived as passionate?

What can we do about it?

“Gender matters everywhere in the world. And I would like today to ask that we begin to dream about and plan for a different world. A fairer world. A world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves. And this is how to start: We must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently.”

And I could not agree more.

To make this world a different world, we must think about how we interact with each other, and that includes children, and how we rise up to challenges that will then shape our future. Using shame to solve a certain issue is not a way forward, it is an easy way out that doesn’t create such world.

We Should All Be Feminists is a short essay. I listened to it as an audio book and found Adichie to be a phenomenal narrator. Her beautiful voice talked about issues I really needed to address.

It’s a thought provoking piece that is extremely digestible as it is told via stories. And there is no judgement or hate attached to it. Just an open mind and a vision for better future.

I recommend this short book to everyone.

It’s an important topic and it gave me many thoughts that still linger days afterwards.

I understand the word feminism a bit more and sincerely hope that we all can be feminists

Verdict: Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple  Hot Beverage on Apple  (5/5)

About Me, Bookish

Book Blogger Insider Tag

#Tags

I’d like to thank Ashley @ Ashley in Wonderland and Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky for tagging me in the Book Blogger Insider Tag. I enjoy connecting with them at their blogs. If they are new to you, please go and say Hi as they both write some interesting reviews.

RULES:

  • Answer the questions below
  • Credit the creator: Jamie @ ALittleSliceofJamie
  • Tag at least 5 people
  • Have fun!

1. Where do you typically write your blog posts?

Usually in my home office on our PC. We painted the tiny wall behind the computer midnight blue and I love staring at it whilst formulating my thoughts. I really want to add a floating shelf and some fairy lights to it so my staring into nothingness gets some ‘texture’. 😉

2. How long does it take you to write a book review?

It depends. I usually write a draft first, which takes anything around 30 – 60 minutes. Then I like to sleep on it and edit it on my iPad. I usually don’t post straight away, but rather a few days after my initial draft.

3. When did you start your book blog?

In February 2018.

4. What’s the worst thing about having a book blog in your opinion?

All those passionate and wonderful reviews my fellow book bloggers write. I somehow want to read all of those books immediately. Don’t take me wrong, I love being inspired.. but..  I sometimes feel I need to read everything straight away. And I am the only one to blame for that …  #bookishproblems 🙈

problems

5. What is the best thing about having a book blog in your opinion?

I would say it’s the blogging community, discovering alike minded bloggers and sometimes expanding my reading horizons because of that has been tremendous fun and I am so grateful for all those interesting and kind people I got to meet so far. 🙂

blogging community

6. What blog post have you had the most fun writing so far?

Top 5 Wednesday Ideal Mash-Ups. Mostly because it turned out to be a creative thing I discussed with my boyfriend and his family and was a lot of fun in general.

7. What is your favourite type of blog post to write?

I enjoy deconstructing books – I am fascinated by human behaviour and love analysing characters wondering why they did what they did and how it got captured in a book. So I would say book reviews are probably my favourite posts to write.

8. When do you typically write?

Before I start working in the mornings, usually after I walk my dog and have some good coffee. Side note: I am seriously turning into a coffee snob these days buying freshly roasted coffee beans that I grind and all that jazz… 😉

9. How do you write your book reviews? With a cup of coffee or tea? With Netflix? Cuddledup with your fur baby?

I don’t have a routine. I may have some coffee, my dog likes to hang around with me in the study unless some cats and squirrels pay him a visit in our garden which triggers his guardian alert and requires his attention downstairs… I sometimes burn an intense stick (much to my dog’s annoyance) and really enjoy watching trees outside or stare into that dark wall mentioned in point 1). 🙂

10. When do you write your book reviews? Right after finishing the book? Two weeks after finishing the book?

I usually wait at least a few days, sometimes a week or two. I mostly formulate my thoughts whilst walking my dog and let them brew a bit. I tend to copy quotes whilst reading a book but don’t take notes. I probably would benefit from that though…

11. How often do you post?

I don’t have a fixed schedule, I tend to do regular #T5W posts and ideally would like to post at least one book review a week. But if that doesn’t happen, I won’t stress about it. I have also started a Chitter-Chatter series but again, no fixed routine there yet. It may be a Friday thing but don’t hold me to it.


I think most of the bloggers I interact with has done this tag by now.

If you haven’t done it yet, consider yourself tagged and if that is something you would enjoy doing, please let me know as I would love to read your answers. 🙂

Before I go, I have one question I’m desperate to know though:

What is your favourite type of blog post to write?

Fancy sharing that with me? 🙂 Thanks. 🙂

Monthly Wrap Up

April Wrap Up

In my March Wrap Up, I was somehow processing how quickly that particular month went by. I must admit this trend continues and I am still wrapping my mind around the fact that we are in May. 🙂 🙂

March was a fairly slow month reading-wise and April felt somehow even slower. It’s not that I wouldn’t enjoy reading at present. I just simply can not decide what I want to read, which usually results in me staring into nothingness and day dreaming instead. Not that I mind, it’s just a bit hard to write book reviews when you are actually not reading anything🤔

Anyhow, James and I took a week and half off work at the end of April and enjoyed our time off in Dartmoor National Park – a vast moorland in the county of Devon, in southwest England. It was a serene experience, we would wake up to bird songs, enjoy the tranquillity of moors where wild ponies kept us the only company. Our dog loved it as well and keeps on telling me that we need to book another holiday sometime soon. I better listen! 😉


I managed to read three books in April. I must admit that I loved them all and despite my slow reading pace, there were highly enjoyable reads.

  • Educated by Tara Westover, 5 stars  Review here

This was the book of the month for me.

Educated is a powerful testament of how we can choose to stop being defined by our past. It is a thought provoking memoir that left me with a strong feeling of unease long after I finished reading it.

I’m still thinking about this book and have a feeling it may become the book of 2018. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves… there are still many months to go… 😉

  • Tangerine by Christine Mangan, 4 stars  Review here

Tangerine is a psychological thriller that made me pause sometimes to fully digest what I just read. The relationship between two female protagonists was highly toxic and reading about it was unsettling at times. There were many mind games involved and I was engaged till the end.

  • The Year of Less by Cait Flanders, 4 stars  Review to follow next week

The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store” was another enjoyable read.

It is not a ‘How to’ guide but rather a memoir documenting a year long journey of a self imposed shopping ban. I have been following Cait’s blog for some time and really enjoy both her writing as well as her thought provoking topics. Its review is to follow next week, promise!


And that’s April done and dusted.

Now over to you my friends.

What was your favourite book you read in April?

Fiction

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

what alice forgotI didn’t know much about both the book and the writer beforehand. The lovely Norrie from Reading under the Blankie recommended me this book.

Before I tell you what I think of this book, let’s take a look at what GoodReads says about it first:

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. 

Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over. 

Imagine waking up one day with no recollection whatsoever of your last 10 years.

Imagine finding out you have three children, who are strangers to you, and whose births you don’t remember.

Imagine the love of your love despises you and is divorcing you.

Imagine travelling to your future.

I was intrigued by the concept.

I don’t own many things but I love collecting experiences and memories. I cherish all adventures I have had with my loved ones.

I equally love learning and growing.

It would be devastating having the memory of my last 10 years wiped out in an accident. Yet unfortunate accidents happen and the book’s realistic premise was something that drove me to it.

What Alice Forgot is primary narrated from Alice’s third person perspective as she is trying to piece together the last 10 years of her life. I enjoyed the aspect of her self-discovery as she is forced to look at herself from another perspective. She is a fairly naïve time traveller, who just cannot comprehend why and how she has become the person everyone keeps on telling her about.

Apart from Alice’s voice, there are two other narratives that I enjoyed as well.

We get to know Alice’s sister, Elizabeth via her diary, which she writes as a part of her therapy assignment. Her voice is so different to Alice’s. It is sarcastic, dark and sometimes brutally raw. I could understand the walls she built around herself and how much pain she must have been in.

And then there is Frannie, Alice’s granny. I loved this character. She sort of reminded me of my witty ‘cool’ grandma. We get to hear her voice via her little blog entries, which ended up being one of my favourite parts of the book.

I love stories that made me think and this one did that job magnificently.

As I read What Alice Forgot I tried to look at my own life through the eyes of my younger self. I kept on asking myself: ‘what would my younger self think of this?’.

I had to pick one thing that I would personally prefer to be a bit different, it would probably be the ending. It was just a little ‘too neat’ for my liking.

Despite of that, I loved the book and would recommend it to everyone, who enjoys character driven books and who is fascinated by ‘time travel’.

Verdict: : Hot Beverage on Apple  Hot Beverage on Apple  Hot Beverage on Apple  Hot Beverage on Apple (4/5)

Psychological Thriller

Sticks and Stones by Jo Jakeman

sticksstonesWithin a week, I have read two brilliant debut novels featuring violence and abuse.

I’m not going to lie, I need a break. If anyone can recommend me something light-hearted please, I am all ears. Thanks!

Without further ado, let’s have a look at Sticks and Stones.

Firstly, I would like to consult GoodReads for their quick summary of Sticks and Stones:

How far would you go for revenge on your ex?

Imogen’s husband is a bad man. His ex-wife and his new mistress might have different perspectives but Imogen thinks she knows the truth. And now he’s given her an ultimatum: get out of the family home in the next fortnight or I’ll fight you for custody of our son.

In a moment of madness, Imogen does something unthinkable. Something that puts her in control. But how far will she go to protect her son and punish her husband? And what will happen when his ex and his girlfriend get tangled up in her plans?

Sticks and Stones is a deliciously twisting psychological thriller from an exciting new voice.

Sticks and Stones starts with Philip’s funeral.

Amongst those paying their respects are Imogen, Philip’s estranged wife, Naomi, his girlfriend and Ruby, his ex-wife.

The plot is about how Philip happened to end up in a funeral casket. We know who died but we don’t know how and why.

Sticks and Stones is narrated by Imogen with occasional flashbacks from other two women. The beginning is on a slow side, but the story starts picking up around mid-way. I became extremely involved then and literally could not put this book down.

The gripping tension is skilfully sustained throughout certain parts of the story, and the outcome can go either way. I almost wish I didn’t know who was at the funeral! 🙂 Knowing about it though did not prevent me from enjoying the entire story!

What I loved about this book are those three female characters and the unlikely friendship they form.

They all endured some form of an abuse and could find a common ground whilst sharing their stories. Because of that, they can start letting go of their pasts and heal.

Then there is Philip’s character. A broken man full of anger, who is still living in some sort of an emotional childhood. A narcissistic master manipulator preying on those women, who don’t have anyone to turn towards to in times of distress.

I also saw in this book an anti-revenge message.

In all honesty, I am sick of books about revenge. Many books glorify revenge, yet they omit to deliver the after-revenge story. Revenge may certainly bring a temporary feeling of satisfaction but in the long run, it never heals the underlying problem. I’m not saying that justice cannot be served, all I’m saying is that forgiving someone is for our own sake to start the healing process, not for theirs to make them feel better. They even don’t have to know that we have forgiven them…

We can see how revenge starts destroying one character in the book. On the other hand, another character starts exploring forgiveness and starts healing.

“It’s the easiest thing in the world to hold a grudge, but it takes a strong person to forgive.”

I hope you will enjoy Sticks and Stones as much as I did. It’s a wonderful psychological thriller and I will be on a lookout out for Jo Jakeman’s next book.

Possible triggers: domestic / partner abuse and abuse in general.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Jo Jakeman, and the publisher, Random House UK, Vintage Publishing.

Verdict: Hot Beverage on Apple  Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple  (4/5)

Fantasy

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

I have a confession to make. I want to be liked. I can be whoever I need to be for you to like me.

Why am I telling you this?

I don’t enjoy criticising. Trust me, the irony of starting a critical book review blog is not lost on me. I did it on purpose though. I want to push myself whilst battling those inner demons of mine. 🙂

With that said: DING DONG, DING DONG, a not so popular review coming your way.


wintersongWintersong is narrated by Liesl and follows her quest to save her sister Käthe, who is taken underground by the Goblin King.

“There is a law that for spring to begin, a life of a maiden must be given to the land. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth.”

If you are thinking of the film Labyrinth, you are on the right track.

It is a retelling of Labyrinth that was also inspired by the poem Erlkönig by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Who rides there so late through the night dark and drear?
The father it is, with his infant so dear;
He holdeth the boy tightly clasp’d in his arm,
He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.
“My son, wherefore seek’st thou thy face thus to hide?”
“Look, father, the Erl-King is close by our side!

~ Erlkönig translated by Edgar Alfred Bowring

Initially, I picked Wintersong because of its haunting writing. But sadly, this book was not meant to be. Don’t be put off by what I am about to say. This book has received many five star reviews and maybe I was just not its target audience.

Let’s break it down. I felt the entire book could have been summarised in a page. I felt, not much happened throughout the story.

Then there was Liesel, whom I found exasperating. She would fulfil her dreams via her younger, ‘gifted’ brother, whilst being envious of her ‘beautiful’ sister. She would not honour her own gift of music composing as she was afraid to be judged.

She was described as ‘plain’ – seemingly having a ‘character’ was not something she would recognise as necessary.

I guess I was supposed to like her as she ‘sacrificed’ herself to stay underground instead of her sister. Regrettably, I did not see her offering as a true sacrifice as she fancied the Goblin King and had an inner motive to stay.

She was jealous, judgemental, insecure and full of self-loathing. I would consider a character experiencing all of those traits intriguing as long as there was a growth potential. Liesel did not evolve, a missed opportunity perhaps, and for that, I found her tedious and annoying.

Let’s talk ‘real problems’, shall we?

  1. The romance between Liesl and the Goblin King troubled me.

It is below par to portray dangerous ‘monster’ men as romantic heroes.

“I am” he whispers, “the monster I warned you against.”
“You are,” I say hoarsely. “the monster I claim.” 

It may appear ‘thrilling’ to some but I have enough drama in my life without having to invite a monster into it, thank you very much.

In my opinion, such messages may influence someone into tolerating an abusive behaviour whilst justifying it as ‘oh, he/she is a monster now but he/she is ‘my’ monster’.

  1. Liesel’s radical transformation after she had sex bothered me.

BOOM BOOM BANG BANG, a girl has sex for the first time and suddenly, all her misery disappears as she becomes a happy ray of sunshine.

Not only did Liesel Elisabeth start feeling like a new person, she also finally saw herself as a woman. Something that could be interpreted as sex being a ritual into one’s adulthood. Such message irritated me, especially as this genre targets young adults.

Maybe it was just me, maybe I was in a foul mood, who knows. Sadly, Wintersong was not my thing.

Verdict:  Hot Beverage on Apple  (1/5)

Bookish

WWW Wednesday, 28/02/2018

WWW @ UnfilteredTales

Happy hump day!

I have been ill but am slowly on the mend. On the bright side, I have had a good excuse to indulge in some excellent books whilst staying warm in bed. The UK has been ‘frozen’ – we’ve been struck by the ‘Beast from the East’ storm. Yeah, very dramatic, I know… 😉

I am still relatively new to blogging but slowly learning more of this wonderful book reading / reviewing community. I’ve decided to start taking part in the WWW Wednesday series.

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To participate, answer the following questions:

  1. What did your read last?

Just finished reading Uprooted by Naomi Novik. A wonderfully dark and atmospheric read inspired by Slavic folk stories. Its full review is coming up tomorrow morning, stay tuned. 😊

  1. What are you currently reading?

Two books:

  1. What will you read next?

I really want to finish The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams. I am about half way through it. I had to put it on hold as it is a very long and quite dense book I needed a bit of a break from. It is a wonderful sci-fi / fantasy read though, and I will definitely finish it.

What are you reading or just finished reading? Fancy sharing it with me? 🙂