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Joined 7 months, 3 weeks ago

dorking around with old books for work and reading new books for fun; you can find me anywhere as wykenhimself; she/her

sarah's books

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Dangerous Books for Girls (2015, Maya Rodale) 2 stars

Long before clinch covers and bodice rippers, romance novels had a bad reputation as the …


2 stars

I really wanted to read a history of romance novels from a book history perspective: emergence of the genre, publishing houses, how they are categorized, etc. This is not that. This is a self-published book that wasn't pushed hard enough to do the research it gestures at or even to consistently cite its research. There are some good insights! But skip it. Not worth the $10. Although to be fair, there's apparently not as much good research on this from the last decade+, so you might end up reading it anyway, if you're interested in the topic.

The Suffragette Scandal (Paperback, 2016, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform) 5 stars

Miss Frederica "Free" Marshall has put her heart and soul into her newspaper, known for …

just fun

5 stars

if you like romances and suffragettes and newspapers and hatred of the British aristocracy, this is the romance for you! I mean, yes, of course it turns out that individual dukes etc are okay, but the premise is the institution is bad and that women are awesome and newspapers are powerful. There's some weird thing with a queer female subplot that is just lovely and explicitly romantic, but a queer male subplot being super coded, and I don't know what's up with that. But Milan's writing high quality romance here with a whole bunch of different tropes squished into one book.

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London (Hardcover, 2020, Katherine Tegen Books) 3 stars

A girl’s quest to find her father leads her to an extended family of magical …

Not as engaging as the Old Kingdom

3 stars

This was fine! I read it! I was an 80s teen/young adult and I used to live in London, so I enjoyed those parts of the scene. But this didn’t grab me and I’m not sure why. Too many characters? Not enough time with Merlin? And this is niche, but: the bookseller idea is fun—I’m all in favor of thinking about booksellers as long-living mystical families—but it wasn’t integrated into the story. They could have been clock repairers and that might have made more sense.

Girl, Woman, Other (Hardcover, 2019, Grove Press) 5 stars

messy and glorious

5 stars

I loved this book, in part because in an earlier incarnation I studied feminist theater in London and this was so evocative of that world. It's big and messy in the ways that women's groups in that era were/are. And I'm still pissed that they made her share the Booker with Atwood

Dispossessed Lives (Paperback, 2018, University of Pennsylvania Press) 5 stars

In the eighteenth century, Bridgetown, Barbados, was heavily populated by both enslaved and free women. …

how to do history that's been marginalized out of the archival records

5 stars

If you're interested in historiography and how one might go about telling the history of enslaved women in the Caribbean, this is the key book to read. If you're looking for a straightforward history of this topic, you're not going to get it here, not because Fuentes isn't telling it, but because it can't be told in the ways that current archival research strategies allow. It's a slow academic read meant to be a field-changing book, and it's that. I was more interested in the methodology than the subject per se, and am still thinking about how I can use this book to talk about feminist bibliography issues, and haven't fully thought it through yet. And I'm calling this done even though I still have parts of a couple chapters left because I have to move on.

The long way to a small, angry planet (EBook, 2015, Hodder & Stoughton) 4 stars

Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space-and one adventurous young explorer who …

actual non-human aliens!!

5 stars

Someone recommended this to me when I was looking for good rich sff reading and it hit the spot. It's an episodic plot, which I don't always love, but it worked for me here, given the complexity of the world-building and the assortment of characters. I was not expecting so much depth to the characters nor the deep emotions. In any case, I looked forward to returning to it every night I was reading it and now I miss that world! on to the next, of course

Transcendent Kingdom (2020, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group) 4 stars

Yaa Gyasi's stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national bestseller Homegoing is a powerful, raw, intimate, …


3 stars

tl;dr I wasn't drawn into the central preoccupation with god v science and I just wanted to read a novel about the mom. --Longer: Nothing about the mouse research felt real--she glided through college and grad school in some sort of weird ease, without any depth other than setting her up to do the research that would let her meditate on religion and addiction. She just felt flat. But her mom and her brother--all the details about them hinted at huge rich stories about immigration and fitting in and economic mobility and sports fame. I just wanted to read about those things and not Gifty.

The Copper Heart (Crow Investigations Book 5) (2020, Siskin Press Limited) 3 stars

mafia meets magic in london

3 stars

I like this series--it's the Five Families but with magic and in London. This one wasn't my favorite; I couldn't remember the details of the previous one and so spent too much time being confused and it's all getting more convoluted and less stand-alone than they used to be. But they are good fluff if you like that sort of thing. And I do!

Binti (Hardcover, 2019, DAW) 3 stars

It's been a year since Binti and Okwu enrolled at Oomza University. A year since …

Mixed bag

3 stars

I loved the idea of this and I loved the range of characters and places and the mode of wandering as narrative. The mix of histories and ideas of home are powerful (and poly!). But there are strong emotions that never got wrestled with—there’s trauma and anger and feelings of exclusion and belonging, but they all just stay there instead of being thought through.

Harrow the Ninth (2020, Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom) 5 stars

After rocking the cosmos with her deathly debut, Tamsyn Muir continues the story of the …

It’s all about loss, baby

5 stars

I enjoyed Gideon but I liked this one better. Totally different tone and problem: it’s all about wrestling with loss and culpability, so check your mood before jumping in. Especially if you’ve struggled with dealing with someone dying, it can resonate more than you’re expecting.

The Heavens (Hardcover, 2019, Granta Books) 5 stars

New York, 2000. Kate and Ben meet at a party and immediately fall in love. …

gorgeous but sad

5 stars

I love this book and wanted to reread it almost immediately after I first read it, although maybe choosing to read it again as 2020 rolled into 2021 wasn't the wisest idea I've had. If it was one sentence? Humans spoil everything through self-aggrandizement, even when they don't mean to, but lyrical and with time travel. It's a gorgeous book but it is fundamentally sad, so choose your timing carefully.