Happy belated International Women’s Day! It’s been a while since I did a tag, so I thought I’d celebrate Women’s History Month with this great tag pulled from Zezee with Books (created by Margaret from Weird Zeal, whose blog no longer appears to be active). Zezee also put together this amazing list of book tags, for which I do thank her, and I will definitely be revisiting it in the future when I need to pad out my reviews with tags, lol.
Also, NOT me clawing through my badass women shelf looking for books because I suddenly blanked on everything I’ve ever read…
- Thank the person who tagged you and link back to their post.
- Link to the creator’s blog in your post.
- Answer the questions below using only books written by women.
- Feel free to use the same graphics.
- Tag 8 others to take part in the tag.
Listen, I will never stop obsessing over The Girl with the Louding Voice (Abi Daré). This book is phenomenal. It is heartbreaking, uplifting, and inspiring, and it is beautifully written. Adunni is the fierce, resourceful heroine we deserve: not only does she run away from an abusive husband old enough to be her father, she wins a scholarship while working as a maid for an even more abusive mistress. She faces tremendous opposition, both from her general community and from her elders, but she never stops working for what she wants. She ran away with my heart from the very first chapter, and I don’t even know if I want it back.
When Women Were Dragons (Kelly Barnhill) is the story of brilliant physicist Alex Green, raised in a society in which women are not expected to be intelligent, more generally known as 1950s America. It takes her years to unlearn all the restrictions hammered into her from childhood, but I promise the pay-off is worth it. And, even while I was screaming inside over everything Alex has to go through to get to her best life, I really respect the hell out of her for keeping her head down, keeping her temper (mostly), and doing what she needs to do to survive. Now if only we could get Aunt Marla to devour Alex’s father.
I almost went with The Curse of Chalion (Lois McMaster Bujold), which also fits the bill, but then I remembered I’d read Impostor Syndrome (Kathy Wang), a book I loved so much that I had to go out and buy it after finishing the library’s copy. The story is alternately narrated by Julia Lerner and Alice Lu, who are both employed by the same social media company. As COO, Julia is in a position of considerable power; as a Russian spy, she has a more subtle influence, though admittedly her moves are largely dictated by the KGB. Alice, meanwhile, stumbles into a quieter kind of power when she hacks into a creepily believable tool called God Mode. (Does she abuse this power? She absolutely does. But I’m not mad about it.)
How Much of These Hills Is Gold (C Pam Zhang) is so beautifully written that I couldn’t stop thinking about it for a long while after I’d read it. I particularly loved the section narrated by Ba. I can see why other people might think it’s slow, but I am a sucker for gorgeous writing.
Gideon the Ninth (Tamsyn Muir)!!! I can’t believe this wasn’t my first thought for this prompt. Gideon is an absolute beast. Her skill isn’t obvious when she’s being gaslit by the surviving members of the House of the Ninth, but then she actually meets other people and kicks so much ass, starting with a duel she wins in three moves against Magnus the Fifth. Besides her combat skills, she has a rough and ready personality, full of attitude and humor. If she had been born in the wrong era, she would absolutely have been burned at the stake, if anyone had been able to lay hands on her first. Even after death she remains a force of nature, though it’s not clear how much longer she can survive. Even if she can’t stick around indefinitely, I really, really, really want her and Harrow to be able to say goodbye. I want both of them to have some peace at the end of Alecto the Ninth.
I suppose I can squeeze Light from Uncommon Stars (Ryka Aoki) into the shape of this prompt, though the bulk of it does take place on Earth. I mean, there’s that deliriously wonderful chapter at the end where Shizuka and Lan jet off into the stars to escape an angry demon, and fuck it, I’m gonna count that. Additionally, Lan and her family are literally from outer space, and they park their rocket under their donut shop while they’re trying to figure out their next move. They’re kind of a hot sci-fi mess, and I love them.
I really do not understand why Build Your House Around My Body (Violet Kupersmith) doesn’t have a higher rating on Goodreads. I mean, 3.84 is perfectly respectable, but I feel it should be more in the 4+ range. Even if people are puzzled by the ending, that’s nothing a more careful read wouldn’t fix. This book is mischievous, funny, thought-provoking, well-written, driven by strong-willed female characters, everything I love all rolled into one wild book. It was easily one of my favorite books from last year, and I wish more people knew about it. (It is also the reason I insisted on ordering gougères at a family dinner, and I have to say zero regrets.)
Girl, Serpent, Thorn (Melissa Bashardoust) is the predictable but still fun tale of a girl cursed with venomous thorns. She spends the book first trying to get rid of them, and then – after she gets them back – learning to control them. Along the way she falls in love with a female demon, and towards the end of the book they finally get together. I cannot overstate that “finally.” Their romantic journey is so fucking frustrating.
Circe (Madeline Miller) deserves every award I can think of. It is a little slow in the beginning, especially compared to the relatively action-packed The Song of Achilles, but this is all of a piece with the loose, undirected life of its protagonist. Miller inserted a wonderful twist at the end, sending Circe on a seafaring quest to undo a major mistake, and all in all this is a book I will always recommend.
When all is said and all is done, I always come back to Cat’s Eye (Margaret Atwood). It’s been twenty years since I first read this book, and I am still as entranced by the writing as I was when I started reading it, like, maybe two days before I was supposed to have finished it. (Look, I’ve always been a procrastinator.) I have read and loved so many other books, but Cat’s Eye was the first and only book that has ever made me say, “I want to be able to write like that.”