Some Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) included. They are marked with an asterisk *. No affiliate links used. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Reading hasn’t been top of my agenda for the past few months, Repealing the Eighth was! As a result, I’ve combined my April, May and June reads into one quick-fire reviews blog post.
How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne*
How Do You Like Me Now?*, Holly Bourne’s first adult novel, is this story of Tori Bailey who wrote a best-selling memoir in her twenties inspiring millions of women to put themselves first. But as she heads into her thirties, is Tori prepared to practise what she preaches?
I finished this a couple of weeks ago and I’m still thinking about it, it got under my skin in a manner I wasn’t expecting; which is a good thing.
Rage-In: Trolls and Tribulations of Modern Life by Tara Flynn
Based on her now defunct HeadStuff column of the same name, Rage-In is a collection of essays about modern life. Except that description doesn’t quite do them justice. Covering everything from Trump, to internet trolls, and being a Feminazi™ it is 100% as smart and funny as you expect a book written by Tara Flynn to be. Go buy it!
Strip: The Making of a Feminist by Catlyn Ladd*
Catlyn Ladd is an academic who worked as an exotic dancer/stripper (both terms are used in the book) while in college. Strip* offers us an insight into what that was like and how Ladd’s feminism was impacted by, and in turn impacted on, her time as a sex worker.
You Don’t Know Me by Brooke Magnanti
Returning to the world of forensic pathologist Harriet Hitchin, who first appeared in The Turning Tide, You Don’t Know Me is a thoroughly readable thriller about living a double life.
When the body of Miri Goldstein, a call-girl, is found, police think it’s an open and shut case, but Harriet Hitchin isn’t so sure. Meanwhile, Miri’s friend Denise is worried that the media interest in her friend’s death will lead to her past no longer remaining, well, in the past.
If you like your crime fiction without the usual awful, to put it mildly, sex worker tropes, then Broke Magnanti is your woman. Her characters are well-rounded with a focus on narratives all too-often missing from the genre; namely the awful treatment of sex workers by law enforcement and how laws which claim to help them actually do more harm than good.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
I had no knowledge of Michelle McNamara or the Golden State Killer case before the release of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, but true crime and whether our consumption of it as entertainment is ethical is something I have been thinking about a lot so I read this while I was in a particular state of mind. McNamara is a talented researcher, which lends itself well to this compelling blend of reportage and memoir. That her friends, colleagues and publisher completed the book following McNamara’s sudden death in 2016 is a testament to her hard work and determination.
As for my thoughts on ethical consumption of true crime entertainment? Keep your eyes peeled for a future blog post about it.
The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich*
While working as a legal intern Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is tasked with working on the retrial defence of convicted murder and child molester, Ricky Langley. The details of Langley’s life and crimes, leave Marzano-Lesnevich confronting issues from her past and questioning her stance on the death penalty.
Uncomfortable is a good way of describing reading The Fact of a Body* made me feel. Uncomfortable with the subject matter, but also uncomfortable with the idea of the book in a way that’s difficult to explain. As mentioned above, true crime has been on my mind lately and The Fact of a Body* hasn’t made my feelings any less complicated.
Promising Young Women by Caroline O’Donoghue
From the first page I knew I was going to love Promising Young Women by Caroline O’Donoghue. What starts as a, seemingly, familiar story about a young woman starting an ill-advised relationship with an older man from work soon takes a Gothic turn.
I wanted to race through it, but I also didn’t want it to end. You may not make the same choices Jane does (or, hey, maybe you would!), but there is a lot we can learn about ourselves from her mistakes.
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Someone Who’s Been There by Cheryl Strayed
Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection of advice columns from Cheryl Strayed’s time as The Rumpus’ Dear Sugar, but it is also a memoir. Strayed weaves aspects of her life into her nuanced answers making for a compelling read. While never shying away from difficult questions or answers, Strayed always writes with compassion. I can see myself returning to Tiny Beautiful Things, a lot.
Tangleweed and Brine by Deirdre Sullivan
Tangleweed and Brine is a collection of thirteen feminist fairy-tale retellings, turning the messages of the stories we grew up with on their heads. Dark, twisted, subversive, thoroughly enjoyable and beautifully illustrated by Karen Vaughan. What’s not to love?!
Future Sex: A New Kind of Free Love by Emily Witt
Future Sex by Emily Witt is, as the title suggests, an exploration of sex – how we do it, how we feel about it and how we navigate the world as sexual beings. It is also an exploration of love and relationships – how we’re taught to view monogamy as the only option and what happens when we start to see that it isn’t. Witt’s focus is narrow, in so far as the people she focuses on are (largely) white, straight and middle-class. I would have loved an exploration of queerness alongside the so-called “relationship ideals”. It is an interesting read, nonetheless.
I don’t use affiliate links, but if you like what I do you can show your support by buying me a coffee here.