Rebel Girls Lead (Book Review)

REBEL GIRLS! Heck yesssss! I’ve actually always wanted to read the series Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, but my library unfortunately doesn’t have them available. Not to worry! I was able to read their newest mini-book called Rebel Girls Lead from NetGalley.

Image of flowers and a butterfly with the book Rebel Girls Lead in the front

The Book

Rebel Girls Lead is a mini version of their Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls series. While the Goodnight series includes 200 women in two books, Rebel Girls Lead only has 25 women. Of the 25 women, some are pulled from the Goodnight series, however, 11 new women are included! Each “rebel girl” has a short summary of her life on the left page, accompanied by a BEAUTIFUL portrait on the right with a quote. At the end of the book there is an template for you to create your own rebel girl profile for the book! After that, there is a short and sweet leadership quiz (I’m an ardent activist) followed by exercises in leadership to inspire activism. Overall, this book is amazing and makes me wish I had access to the other books published by Rebel Girls.

The Rebel Girls

Of the 25 rebel girls in the book, I knew or have heard about 13 of them. Even though the stories of the women are written for young kids, I found them very informative! It gives you enough information for you to get a dip into their lives. Honestly, it has left me wanting more and I’ll be looking into more of these women in my free time. Two of the women that I enjoyed learning about most were Pat Summit and Mary Barra. Both are women who entered majority-male jobs and thrived! I love a woman who can prove she is as good as the men in their field!

The Art

I needed to make a special section for the art. Each portrait is amazing and beautiful! I’ve discovered so many artists that I would love to follow on Instagram or maybe purchase from. My favorite pieces of art from the book were Ana Galvan‘s Elizabeth I and Eleanor Davis‘s Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

However, I came across an issue when looking at the Rebel Girl’s website. They have a page where they list all the creators, which is great! But they did a real disservice to the artists by having most of the links mixed up. You can click on an artist’s name, but it will bring up another artist’s Instagram page instead. So, I’ve decided that I’ll list the artist’s below and link their insta for you 🙂 I hope you can use this to discover beautiful art!

  1. Aisha Akeju
  2. Alessandra De Cristofaro
  3. Alexandra Bowman
  4. Ana Galvan
  5. Annalisa Ventura
  6. Cindy Echevarria
  7. Debora Guidi
  8. Eleanor Davis
  9. Elenia Beretta
  10. Fanesha Fabre
  11. Jacquelyn B. Moore
  12. Kathrin Honesta
  13. Kelsee Thomas
  14. Kiki Ljung
  15. Laura Perez
  16. Marta Signori
  17. Nicole Miles
  18. Paola Rollo
  19. Salini Perera
  20. Sally Deng
  21. Sally Nixon
  22. Sara Bondi
  23. Sarah Madden
  24. T.S. Abe
  25. Thandiwe Tshabalala

*I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.*

Interested in more? I don’t only write about books!I also blog about my life. Maybe you’ve considered traveling in South Korea. Why not check out my dogs! They are pretty adorable  Either way, I hope my stories help make your day a bit more stupendous.

Body Shaming The Evil Queen (Fairest of All – Book Review

Let me start by saying that Fairest of All by Serena Valentino wasn’t at all what I expected. This retelling of Disney’s classic Snow White seriously took me by surprise in a good way. I had no idea what to expect when picking this up. In the movie, the Evil Queen is jealous of Snow White for her beauty. The original story seemed so straight forward. How could there be an entertaining backstory for the Queen? Turns out, the answer is body shaming.

Body Shaming

Okay, let’s talk about body shaming real quick in case you’ve been living under a rock or something. Body shaming is when someone is criticized or shamed for their body. Typically, body shaming refers to body size. For example: Calling someone fat. All I ever really see on social media are critiques on body shaming in relation to size. But, that’s not all. Calling someone ugly is also body shaming. Saying someone’s nose is too big or laughing about how someone’s ears stick out a bit too much is body shaming.

My Experience

I’m a bigger woman. I’ve been on the larger side my whole life. Needless to say, I’ve been body shamed before. However, I want to talk about my most recent experience. I was about half-way through Fairest of All when this happened.

My boyfriend (let’s call him KJ) told me that a female coworker had actually made some not so nice comments about me. I wasn’t there for these comments, but KJ told me after the fact. Apparently, this coworker asked KJ if he likes chubby girls. In all honesty, even after all these years, hearing someone call me chubby or fat in a negative way hurts. I think it will always hurt. However, in Korean culture it’s not necessarily rude to comment on someone’s weight here. So, I tried to take it with a grain of salt. But then, there was another comment.

KJ loves talk to people from all over the world, so he frequently joins chat groups to meet new people. He was showing a male coworker some of his international friends when the same female coworker said “These girls are prettier than your girlfriend.” Of course, KJ stood up for me but knowing someone said that about me to someone I love hurts a lot. When KJ told me, I wanted to cry. I hate that I let someone, who I’ve never even met, get to me. But I’m trying my best to not let it stay in my heart.

Background of snow covered trees, book cover for Fairest of All by Serena Valentino

The Evil Queen

In Fairest of All, the Queen also grew up being body shamed, but for her appearance. On top of that, the person doing the body shaming was her father. He constantly called her “ugly” and made her life miserable. Even after she marries the King, she continues to struggle with self confidence and self worth. While things did start looking better for her, it all came crashing down after the King died. Her grief consumed her. She no longer had a loving voice to cover up the comments from her father that still swam in her head.

Then, she gets the mirror with her father’s soul trapped in it. Because he has to tell the truth, the Queen forces him to tell her she is beautiful everyday. Hearing HIM, the one who tormented her as a child, call her beautiful becomes this drug and she is addicted. The Queen can’t get enough and struggles when her father says someone’s beauty has surpassed hers. This addiction corrupts her soul and turns her into the Queen we see in Disney’s Snow White.

The Queen was so kind and loving, even when her father was so awful to her. If she didn’t have that insecurity from, a lifetime of bullying, she wouldn’t have needed the daily validation from her father in the mirror. Her self-worth wouldn’t have been dependent on how others perceive her. She wouldn’t have constantly compared herself to those around her. She could have lived a happy life with her step-daughter. But then, we wouldn’t have to story of Snow White.

Do not believe your father’s lies, my little girl. He doesn’t see you as you are and I fear for your soul should you ever let his darkness linger in your heart.

From Nanny to the Queen in Fairest of All by Serena Valentino

Interested in more? I don’t only write about books! I also blog about my life. Maybe you’ve considered teaching in South Korea. Why not check out my dogs! They are pretty adorable 🙂 Either way, I hope my stories help make your day a bit more stupendous.

Everyone in Jaws Sucks (Book Review)

Did you know that Jaws wasn’t just a Spielberg movie, but a best selling novel? Yeah, neither did I until recently. I decided to immediately read it as I had already planned on giving my boyfriend a shark themed birthday. Jaws is a movie classic that everyone should see, but so is the novel. Peter Benchley‘s novel of the same name, should also be on your TBR. It was a suspenseful novel and I loved the sections from the shark’s PoV. The novel exceeded my expectations! You expect that after seeing the movie, the suspense wouldn’t be there. However, things are written in such a way that makes you hold your breath even if you think you know what’s coming.

Assuming you have seen the movie or know what it’s about, the premise is the same. Big shark kills people. Two of the bigger changes were the romance and mafia sub-plots that didn’t make an appearance in the movie. The main characters are all there and have the same roles with minor changes except, the character’s were unlikable. In the movie, everyone is at least somewhat likable, even when making horrible decisions. However, in the book, there wasn’t a single person that I liked. In fact, I disliked them so much that I decided to make a full post about it.

You, who have never read Jaws, you who have only seen the movie, I can see you frowning, I can hear you saying to yourself, “Romance? Mafia? What’s he talking about? Where’s all that stuff?” Read on, please, and discover for yourselves.

Peter Benchley in the “Introduction to the 30th Anniversary Edition” in Jaws
Image from Bookstagram Background image of the beach and Jaws book cover in the forefront

Chief Martin Brody

Listen, Brody is a pushover. We can all agree on this, right? He knows the right thing is to close the beach after the first shark attack. But he caves to the pressures of people like Vaughan and Meadows. Three more people are killed before he gets the balls to close the beach. A couple days of no action and Brody is again pressured to open the beaches for the 4th of July and does. I want to remind you that Brody is the one who has the authority to close the beaches. He doesn’t need approval to do so. So, the beaches are open again. No one is really swimming until a boy is dared to by his friends. Brody had the chance to stop the boy from going in, but chose against it. As a result, the shark almost kills the kid. At the end of the day, Chief Brody made a lot of bad calls because of peer pressure and the threat of losing his job. Is it really that hard to do the right thing, Brody? I don’t think so.

The Cherry on Top

And for good measure, I’ll mention how Chief Brody was more obsessed with trying to figure out if Hooper slept with Ellen than he was about finding and killing the shark. Let’s move on people. 4 people are dead already and there was almost a 5th.

He had to take the blame, but it was not rightly his. It belonged to Larry Vaughan and his partners, whoever they might be. He had wanted to do the right thing; they had forced him not to. But who were they to force him? If he couldn’t stand up to Vaughan, what kind of cop was he? He should have closed the beaches.

About Chief Brody in Jaws by Peter Benchley

Wife Ellen Brody

Ellen is completely self-centered. I had no idea someone could be so self-centered when everyone around her is being eaten by a massive shark. She spends a majority of the book dreaming about the life she could have had if she hadn’t married Martin. Don’t misunderstand, it’s not like she was forced to marry Martin. She married for love. She WANTED to marry Martin and have the Amity life. However, she now feels this desperation to connect with her old life of privilege. Okay, I know I sound like I’m bashing someone for no reason. BUT SHE PLANS A DINNER PARTY WHEN 4 PEOPLE HAVE DIED IN 5 DAYS AND HER HUSBAND IS UNDER INCREDIBLE STRESS JUST SO SHE CAN CLING TO HER OLD LIFE OF SOPHISITICATION! Not only that, but she sleeps with Hooper out of boredom essentially. She doesn’t even realize how awful she is being until the last quarter of the book.

The past–like a bird long locked in a cage and suddenly released–was flying at her, swirling around her head, showering her with longing.

About Ellen Brody in Jaws by Peter Benchley

Reporter Harry Meadows

I kind of want to punch him in the throat for making everything worse. He purposefully left the first attack out of the paper. Then, later he blames the police and local government officials for hiding the first attack. He even put in a FAKE QUOTE from Chief Brody saying Brody chose to not close the beaches. MEADOWS KNEW AND MADE THE DECISION TO NOT WRITE ABOUT IT IN THE PAPER. Honestly, I can’t stand people and this whole thing makes me furious.

So it seems to me, Martin, that there’s no reason to get the public all upset over something that’s almost sure not to happen again.

Harry Meadows to Chief Brody in Jaws by Peter Benchley

Mayor Larry Vaughan

This is who I really wish would have been eaten by the shark. Just like all the townspeople, he was selfish. I mean COME ON! Yes, I understand the town will struggle. I get that the town gets the main bulk of income from the summer season. However, this is no excuse for not caring about human life. Vaughan is the one who brings the mafia subplot. It was pretty inconsequential and was just an excuse for why Vaughan was adamant on keeping the beaches open. The whole book basically, Vaughan is a jerk about people being killed by a shark. He only cares about himself and his mafia, real estate business partners. He may wither away to essentially nothing from stress, but he deserved a more gruesome death.

We do have one thing going for us. Miss Watkins was a nobody. She was a drifter. No family, no close friends. She said she had hitchhiked East from Idaho. So she wont’ be missed.

Vaughn to Chief Brody in Jaws by Peter Benchley

Researcher Matthew Hooper

Okay, listen. There is that argument that the person cheating is the only one responsible and not the person who they are doing the cheating with… if any of that made sense to you. However, Hooper was a total jerk for sleeping with Ellen. He knew she was married. He knew they didn’t have an open relationship. But he went ahead and encouraged it anyway. Most of the time Brody and Hooper are fighting over who has the bigger dick. Personally, I feel like he did it to have this secret one-up over Chief Brody.

That fish is a beauty. It’s the kind of thing that makes you believe in a god. It shows you what nature can do when she sets her mind to it.

Hooper to Quint and Chief Brody after seeing the shark in Jaws by Peter Benchley

Fisherman Quint

This is the only person I’m conflicted about. He seems like an okay person. I mean, he is unsympathetic completely. He charges $400 a day to take Hooper and Chief Brody out to try and kill the shark. Not to mention, he breaks fishing laws all the time. However, he has logical arguments for both so I let that go. What really made me pissed off is the scene where he splits a shark open at it’s stomach and throws it back into the water. He actually enjoyed watching the shark eat itself and even was looking forward to other sharks coming to eat the one he cut open. I get fishing for a living and doing what needs to be done. However, what Quint did was for pure amusement and that disgusts me.

If we’re lucky, in a minute other blues’ll come around, and they’ll help him eat himself. If we get enough of them, there’ll be a real feeding frenzy. That’s quite a show.

Quint talking to Chief Brody and Hooper after he cut a shark open and threw it into the ocean in Jaws by Peter Benchley

Despite all this, Jaws is a terrific book. It kept me on my toes and went way above my expectations! Sure, I didn’t like any of the characters, but there is something special about hate. I easily fall in love with characters and relate to so many. However, it takes a lot for me to dislike a character. There needs to be a level of realism for me to connect to in order to build that hatred. That being said, Benchley did an amazing job.

So tell me, who did you hate the most? Was there anyone you found likable? Do unlikable characters turn you away from a book?

Interested in more? I don’t only write about books! I also blog about my life. Maybe you’ve considered teaching in South Korea. Why not check out my dogs! They are pretty adorable 🙂 Either way, I hope my stories help make your day a bit more stupendous.

4 Things Librarians and Strippers Have In Common (Book Review)

I recently discovered NetGalley. NetGalley is a website where readers are given the chance to read digital review copies before publishing. This seemed amazing to me, so I checked it out. The first book I decided to read was by Kristy Cooper. Her book, I Was a Stripper Librarian: From Cardigans to G-strings, was a wonderful first choice for me to try out. I was so amazed with this book and I learned a lot. Surprisingly, Librarians and strippers have a lot in common.

Edited book cover for I Was a Stripper Librarian by Kristy Cooper

1. It’s not like what you see on TV.

Personally, my experience with strippers is limited to television. When I think of strippers, I think of women dancing on poles while men throw singles on the stage. The strip club scene Cooper describes, wasn’t like that. Turns out, that was more back in the 80s and things have died down since then. With the rise of internet porn and sites like OnlyFans, people don’t see a need to go out to strip clubs when they can just stay home.

For librarians, they don’t go around telling people to be quiet all day. Cooper even talks about a time when a library patron shushed her and another librarian. Librarians are all about helping you get the information you need. It’s not just about books, but making all information accessible to everyone.

2. You need a license.

Early on in the book, Cooper gets a job as a library aide at a public library in Michigan. However, before she could start, Cooper had to get her driver’s license changed. She needed to be a Michigan resident in order to work for the public library.

Strippers need a license too, of sorts. There is something called a dancer-card where you have to register with the city and have your information in a database. Cooper describes it as a “creepy database” and I have to agree with her.

A registry of who worked in strip clubs seemed invasive and just another way to control the autonomy of women just trying to get by.

Kristy Cooper in I Was a Stripper Librarian

3. Sex is everywhere.

Nudity at a strip club isn’t a surprise, but apparently its more common at libraries than you would expect. A lot of libraries have porn policies, which makes sense because kids are around and not all the computers are set up in a private area. However, policies and public computers don’t stop people from trying. Cooper has an interesting story about her first porn patron encounter in her book that I thoroughly enjoyed.

4. Privacy is important.

Why not just block the porn sites? Cooper discussed this as well: “There [are] libraries that philosophically wouldn’t block or stop patrons from looking at anything because they considered that a form of censorship.” Libraries and librarians do their best to ensure YOUR privacy rights are being upheld. Amazing right? That wasn’t something I knew!

This is where sex workers and librarians really connect. Sex workers and librarians are advocating for our privacy in a growing data driven world. If you want to learn more about librarians and privacy, check out the Library Freedom Institute’s website.

It’s such an absurd idea that sex workers are the only ones selling themselves. All workers sell their time and labor. Sex workers just often get a better payout for their time.

Kristy Cooper in I Was a Stripper Librarian

I Was a Stripper Librarian blew my mind. I learned so much about two worlds that I considered polar opposites. Cooper was so open and honest about her experiences, prejudices, and privilege. I don’t believe that anyone else could connect these two worlds better than she did. This is going on the list of books I recommend to others and it will one day be a part of my personal home library.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.*

Interested in more? I don’t only write about books! I also blog about my life. Maybe you’ve considered teaching in South Korea. Why not check out my dogs! They are pretty adorable 🙂 Either way, I hope my stories help make your day a bit more stupendous.

The Wife Upstairs – Book Review

The Wife Upstairs - Book Review

Rachel Hawkin‘s The Wife Upstairs is a modern take on Jane Eyre by Charoltte Bronte. Jane is a young woman in her 20s with secrets. She just moved to Birmingham, Alabama from Arizona to escape her past. She walks dogs for money in a rich neighborhood called Thornhill Estates. However, Jane is bitter about her clients owning earrings and shirts that cost more than her rent, so she frequently steals small items from them. Then, one rainy day as she is admiring a house in the neighborhood, she is almost run over. The driver is Eddie Rochester, whose wife, Bea, went missing in a boating accident 6 months earlier. Jane sees Eddie as an opportunity to live a life she only imagined. Above all, Eddie is how she can outrun her past for good. As it turns out, Jane isn’t the only one in Thornhill with secrets.

What I have is, after all, like winning the fucking lottery, and I’ve learned the hard way that wanting more is what fucks you in the end.

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

My Thoughts

THIS. WAS. SO. MUCH. FUN. In terms of it being a beach-read thriller, which is exactly what I was in the mood for. I have been wanting to read this novel for a while, but the waiting list from my library took forever. Before I discuss my thoughts I want to let you know about doesthedogdie.com. If you can’t tell, it’s lets you know if a dog dies in the novel. (Speaking of dogs, check out my dogs Remus and Tonks). However, it does more than that now. It lets you know about various trigger warnings and if they appear in the novel/movie you search. I’m going to list trigger warnings for the novel towards the end of my post, as some find trigger warnings spoiling.

Comparing to the Classic

I read Jane Eyre back in high school, but if I’m being honest, I don’t remember much about it. All I remember is a wife being hidden upstairs and the house burning down. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of classics in general, so I don’t plan on reading it again to compare to this novel. However, when I saw the title, I thought of Jane Eyre. When I read the book, I also thought of Jane Eyre. If you’re a fan of the classics, I’m sure comparing the two would add another layer of fun that I am missing out on.

Setting

I loved the setting in a affluent southern neighborhood. While it didn’t entirely capture the passive aggressiveness of southern women, but it got the gossipy bit down well. It reminds me of why I enjoy not being overly friendly with my neighbors. However, Jane was a bit too good at fitting in. It should have been a bit more of a struggle to get the neighborhood women to accept her into their group.

Plot

Moving on from that, there is a big twist in the novel that I’m sure lots of readers will guess at, but I didn’t! However, I’m one of those readers who doesn’t try to figure out what’s going on and just rides the thrills out to the end. I wouldn’t say the twist is original, but it was enough for me.

The ending was perfect. It was one of those that makes it clear the story is over, but leaves a bit open ended so your imagination can run wild. Okay, I’ll admit there are a few things at the end that don’t make sense and maybe a couple holes, BUT I felt it was fitting

Characters

No one was very likable. You are told the story from the POV of the three main characters: Jane, Eddie, and Bea. All have their own agenda. To me, the characters are complex. We learn about their childhoods and personal struggles. We see good and bad sides. Lastly, we see how they came to make the adult decisions they did. However, none of that lead me to like them. Personally, I hope I never encounter anyone like them in real life.

Overall

As far as I understand, this is a mild thriller. I mentioned it before, but I do feel like this is a beach-read or a pool-side-read for those who aren’t a fan of the typical contemporary romances. I’m very happy to have read this book. It helped me get out of a reading funk and lit a spark inside me. I’m not really one to give star ratings, but what the heck… 4 out of 5 stars from me!

A man who overestimates his intelligence is a man who can be easily manipulated.

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Book Club Questions

  1. Have you read any other Jane Eyre retellings? How does this one compare?
  2. How are Jane and Bea alike/different? Are you sympathetic?
  3. What do you think about Jane’s stealing before and after she comes into wealth?
  4. Why do you think Eddie changed his will?
  5. Jane, Eddie, and Bea frequently reference their childhood. How did their upbringing influence their adult decisions?

The stressful part is always making the decision. Once you’ve made it, it’s done and you feel better.

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Trigger Warnings

addiction, alcohol abuse, burned alive, teeth damaged, parent dies, kidnapping, cheating, shower/bath scene, gaslighting, domestic violence, drowning, profanity

While the novel does include the above listed, I wouldn’t say they were graphic depictions.

 

Interested in more? I don’t only write about books! I also blog about my life. Maybe you’ve considered teaching in South Korea. Why not check out my dogs! They are pretty adorable 🙂 Either way, I hope my stories help make your day a bit more stupendous.

 

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows – Book Review

Balli Kaur Jaswal’s Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows follows a writing class for Punjabi widows that morphed from an ESL class to an erotic creative writing class. Giggling and shy, the women use these stories to demand the respect and authority they desire in their everyday life. Throw in a little romance and murder mystery all mixed together with the immigrant experience, and Jaswal has created a novel that pleases all readers, in more ways than one. *wink*

Fiery-eyed and indignant, they would pen their stories for the whole world to read.

Balli Kaur Jaswal, Erotic Stores for Punjabi Widows

Characters

The main character, Nikki, is a daughter of Indian immigrants. She has grown up with the mindset of your average millennial, but choices come at a price. Nikki struggles at home with the pressures to follow cultural expectation. However, she watches as the Punjabi widows in her class defy these cultural expectations.

Nikki never imagined these traditional widows would be interested in erotic stories, much less write them. The widows all crave something they can’t have or never had in their lives. The classes started off as a secret rebellion, something not to be shared outside the classroom. But, it’s hard to keep a secret. Especially ones about newlywed Indian women taking control in the bedroom.

Death is better than life if a girl doesn’t have her honor. Sometimes the younger generation needs this reminder.

Balli Kaur Jaswal, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

My Thoughts

When I picked up this book, I was a little worried I would be lost in a culture I knew nothing about. However, Jaswal does a fantastic job of educating the reader about Punjabi and Indian culture. She does this in a humorous way that allowed me to comfortably slip into a foreign culture.

Perhaps passion and excitement were meant to be secondary to a stable adult life.

Balli Kaur Jaswal, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

Trying to compare this to any other book is futile. It’s unlike anything I’ve come across before. It was such a new experience and everyone should try reading it. There is some sexually explicit scenes, but the erotic stories are italicized so you can easily skip over them if you want. Usually, the stories don’t go into too much detail and they aren’t long and drawn out.

Overall, highly recommend! 5 out of 5! Please read it so I can have someone to discuss it with!

Interested in more? I don’t only write about books! I also blog about my life. Maybe you’ve considered teaching in South Korea. Why not check out my dogs! They are pretty adorable 🙂 Either way, I hope my stories help make your day a bit more stupendous.