I’m a feminist because . . . (Some #YesAllWomen links and my thoughts)

Before we get to the meat of this post, I need to share some background. (If that’s too much, it’s okay. Go and browse the #YesAllWoman tweets instead. If you read nothing else today, read that.)

Last week a man in Isla Vista California went on a killing spree. While men and women lost their lives before the gunman shot himself, the attack was fueled by a hatred of women. Building from what he considered unforgivable rejections, this man went out and killed people. In the wake of the attack and the ensuing tragedy, many online discussions began about misogyny and the fear women are often forced to deal with.

Here are some articles about the shooting and the ensuing #YesAllWoman tweets and its discussions (the tag was started by a very brave woman on twitter. She has since locked her account due to backlash and unwanted attention so I won’t link back.)

These links aren’t comprehensive because the tweets and articles are basically literally updating faster than I can keep up but this is a good cross-section of coverage and hopefully a good starting point if you haven’t had a chance to follow the tweets closely yet:

It has already been pointed out, and I’ll say it again: Of course Rodger isn’t like all men. But he is like some men. And that is terrifying. And even if it does make people uncomfortable, that’s why it needs to be talked about.

Reading through the #YesAllWomen tweets has been powerful. It’s also made my heart heavy seeing the stories and the truth in them but also seeing the backlash.

What hurts–what makes me a little ill–is that I didn’t even have the vocabulary to talk about these things for a long time both abstractly and personally. Because women in media are so rarely shown pushing back against situations that make them feel small or unsafe. And because it’s still not accepted. Even with the smart, engaged, supportive guys I’ve called friends–I feel like sometimes when I talk about things like being a woman and knowing it’s handicap in some job searches (and trust me, I did sooo many job searches in the last few years) and other areas, I feel like my guy friends might think I’m kidding or overstating.

And that’s gotten me thinking about feminism. For a while I wasn’t going to write this post because reading the #YesAllWomen tweets make everything I have to say here so redundant and it all feels so obvious. But then I started talking to my smart friend Sarah (who is also a librarian and lovely) and she wondered if maybe it wasn’t obvious all the time and I thought, maybe, that it should be said.

For a lot of years I didn’t identify as a feminist. Not because I didn’t want to but because it felt like I wasn’t allowed to–what had I done to deserve to be a feminist? Now, of course, I realize that’s the completely wrong way to look at it. The only reason I was even taking women’s studies courses in college was because I was so close to a minor. But then during my seminar in feminist theory–taught by a man who acknowledged his privilege and some of the absurdity of his teaching the seminar by admitting he never walked the street alone in fear of being raped–it all clicked. Of course I’m a feminist.

Here’s why:

  • I believe in equal rights and equal pay for equal work.
  • Because there is still a smart boys/pretty girls dichotomy and that’s stupid.
  • I’m a feminist because I want to reclaim the term “chick lit” and have it stop being seen as something less than.
  • Because women should never be made to feel small or less for how they look, what they wear, or anything they do.
  • I spent years being afraid of the old man who lived upstairs because he insisted on kissing me when I was trick or treating with other kids in the building and no one even reacted. Because I felt cheap and dirty after he did. Because of the panic I felt the one time I was alone with him in an elevator and he started to move closer while I wondered what I could do when, thankfully, the doors opened and someone else came on. Because I once walked a friend to the corner in winter with no coat rather than be alone in the lobby with him. Because when I finally realized I could take charge and not be a part of this, he was offended that I stopped speaking to him or acknowledging him.
  • I’m a feminist because I shouldn’t have to be ready with a fake name when strange men approach me on the street. I shouldn’t have to smile politely and share that fake name while they keep pace with me until I can run across the street to get away.
  • Because no one decides what I wear or how I look except me.
  • Because so many things that men think are harmless or even flattering are often terrifying.
  • I’m a feminist because I’m tired of men telling me to smile.
  • I’m tired of being called “sweetie” by men at the supermarket.
  • Because when I was in high school a coworker was promoted ahead of me despite my having more experience. Because he was a guy. (And older, but that’s a different story for a different post.)
  • Because patriarchy and misogny are complete bullshit.
  • I’m a feminist because I’m only now realizing getting hit on by the ice cream man was never a funny anecdote. (I was 15 and stopped on my way home to get ice cream for myself and my mom. The man in the truck went on to ask me where I lived so that he could drop by some time at night. I told him the complete opposite direction from where I lived. But as I headed home, I wondered if I should have taken a different route. Would he follow me?)
  • Because no one should have to be afraid of walking alone in the dark, but so many women are.
  • I’m a feminist because I’m embarrassed and outraged that my physics professor in college thought it was okay to trap me against a computer with his body while he explained a lab procedure.
  • I’m a feminist because the media is broken and still spends more time talking about how women look than about their accomplishments.
  • I’m a feminist because we still have so far to go.
  • I’m a feminist because I believe the world can be better.

I’ll leave you again by saying even if you don’t want to sift through this blog of text, take a minute and go read the #YesAllWoman tweets instead. Every woman should be reading it to know they aren’t alone and their feelings are valid. Men should be reading it to better understand. And then maybe, with the conversation started, things can start moving in a new direction.





The Lost: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The Lost by Sarah Beth DurstTwenty-seven-year-old Lauren Chase has lost a lot of things over the years: one turquoise earring, several friends and their respective contact information, her favorite stuffed animal Mr. Rabbit. More recently Lauren has lost her way.

It wasn’t supposed to be a permanent thing.

All Lauren did was go straight, avoiding the left turn that would have taken her down the road to work and a whole world of bad news.

Instead of a short drive away from her troubles, Lauren drives into Lost. All lost things end up in the town of Lost. Luggage. Pennies. Socks. People.

Theoretically, Lauren can leave. All she has to do is find what she lost. In reality, no one in town wants to help her except for a mysterious, gorgeous man called the Finder and a six-year-old with a knife and a princess dress. Together the three of them might be able to survive Lost. But Lauren still has a mother to get back to, a life to reclaim while she decided if being lost can really lead to finding something more important in The Lost (2014) by Sarah Beth Durst.

Find it on Bookshop.

The Lost is the first book in Durst’s first trilogy written for an adult audience. The story will continue in The Missing and The Found.

Durst once again delivers an amazingly evocative world in this fantasy story. Lost is a horrible, desert town filled with junk and danger. Readers will feel Lauren’s growing claustrophobic panic as she tries repeatedly to get back to her real life.

The story unfolds nicely, with only a few slow spots, as Lauren comes into her own in Lost and makes a tentative place for herself with a couple of fellow misfits. The bulk of the book focuses on Lauren but secondary characters like the girl with the knife and the Finder are welcome additions to this motley cast. Although readers do not need to be told quite so many times that the Finder is very attractive, his other charms do come through.

The Lost happily also includes a thread with Lauren’s mother. Although not always the happiest sub-plot, it was nice to see a parental relationship feature in this book when, so often, protagonists exist in a strange familial vacuum.

Plot twists and surprises abound in the final hundred pages as The Lost builds to a surprising finish. Readers may be surprised by the non-ending at the conclusion of this book, but it will only make them all the more eager for the next installment in this clever trilogy.

Possible Pairings: The Blue Girl by Charles De Lint, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith, Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma, Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld, The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

You can also check out my review with Sarah about The Lost.

Author Interview (#5): Sarah Beth Durst on The Lost

Sarah Beth Durst author photoSarah Beth Durst is here today to talk about her latest novel The Lost and answer some questions about it. The Lost hits shelves today so be sure to stop by a bookstore or a your local library to pick up a copy of  this story that explores what happens to lost things. And lost people.

Miss Print (MP): What was the inspiration for The Lost?

Sarah Beth Durst (SBD): I had the idea while I was waiting at a traffic light. My blinker was on to turn left, and I remember thinking, “What if I went straight? Just drove straight and didn’t stop?”

That’s what Lauren does. Instead of going to work and waiting to hear the results of her mother’s latest medical test, she just drives straight. And drives and drives until she runs out of gas in Lost, a town full of only lost things and lost people.

MP: The Lost is your first book written with an adult audience in mind (as opposed to YA) with a 27-year-old heroine. Did you always know that Lauren would be an older character? When you conceived of this story did you always know it would be adult?

SBD: Yes, I knew from the beginning. I needed my protagonist to be old enough to have seen her dreams wither. I wanted her to feel empty and lost — and for that, I felt she had to be an adult.

MP: The Lost is also part of your first trilogy. Did you always know this book would be the first of three? Did you have a set arc in mind for Lauren throughout the series when you started?

SBD:I’d originally envisioned it as a standalone, but very early on in the process (before I even wrote the first draft), my editor and I realized that there’s more story to tell and more world to explore. Now, I can’t imagine it ever being just one book.

I did have an arc in mind for the entire trilogy, but the story changed significantly once I started writing. I love working like that: have a map but be willing to veer off it if a better road pops up.

MP: Working off the last question, has writing The Lost as part of a trilogy changed your writing process?

SBD: From here on in, I’m going to always keep a list of character details, like eye color and names of friends/parents/etc. With one book, it’s possible to hold all the details in your head at the same time. Three books… definitely trickier.

MP: Despite being an imagined place, Lost feels very real. Did any actual locations or experiences inspire your vision of Lost?

SBD:No particular place. But I pictured it very clearly, and it feels very real to me.

One of the most wonderful things about writing a trilogy was that I got to be in Lauren’s world for three whole books. I really fell in love with that quirky, creepy town.

MP: What are some things you would hope to find in Lost?

SBD:I’d love to find some lost masterpieces, like the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Garner Museum.

MP: What are some things you would bring to Lost if you knew you were heading that way?

SBD: The key thing with Lost isn’t that it’s full of lost things… It’s that it’s ONLY full of lost things. So the stuff that people need, use, and treasure is rare. You have to make do with half-eaten sandwiches, stray potato chips, and a lot of socks.

If I were heading to Lost, I wouldn’t worry about bringing books like I usually do (because there are always tons of lost library books in Lost). I would, though, bring my own toothbrush, clean underwear, and fresh batteries. (You can always barter working batteries for food.)

MP: Lauren has a white streak in her hair while she debates the best color choice. What color would you dye your hair?

SBD: Deep purple. But I’m afraid that with all my ridiculous curls, I’d look like a clown. Maybe someday…

MP: Can you tell us anything about your next project or what to expect in The Found?

SBD: Lauren’s adventures will continue in THE MISSING in December and then THE FOUND in April. You can expect to learn a lot more about the Missing Man, the void, and what else is out there, hidden in the dust…

Before that, in October, my next YA novel will be out.   It’s called CHASING POWER, and it’s about a girl with telekinesis and a boy who can teleport (and who lies as easily as he travels).

Thanks so much for interviewing me!

Thanks to Sarah for taking the time to answer my questions!

For more information about Sarah and her books you can also visit her website.

You can also check out our previous interviews discussing Sarah’s other novels Enchanted Ivy and Drink, Slay, Love, Vessel and Conjured.

If you want to know more about The Lost be sure to check out my  review.

Blog Book Giveaway: The Lost[CLOSED]

I’m running a giveaway this week for an advance copy of The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst.

The Lost by Sarah Beth DurstGiveaway is open to any readers over the age of 13. US only.

Giveaway will run from May 26 to May 31. Winner will be notified June 1. If I don’t hear back from the winner by June 2 I will pick a new winner from the entry pool.


I’m running the giveaway through a Rafflecopter giveaway. Details on how to enter can be found by clicking “enter” above or clicking the photo!

Week in Review: May 25


This week on the blog you can check out:

Between preparing to transition from Current Job to Shiny New Job this month has been crazy. I’ve been packing up all of my personal items from my desk and it’s looking rather bare and miserable now. Shiny New Job starts in June. And, of course, next week is BEA.

I am so ready for BEA guys. So ready. So excited. So many good books to find and so many fun things to do.

I am also slowly whittling away at books for professional review (1.5 left) and books for committee work (12 left) as well as books that I just want to read (234,234,234–kidding. There’s like ten in my immediate sight lines.)

I’ve also been continuing with my May Reading Challenge. I’m onto my seventh book (A Breath of Frost). It’s possible I might be able to finish that and squeeze in one more before BEA but that depends on how my weekend goes. I definitely won’t get to both Shift and The Space Between Trees next week but even reading 7 books in a month isn’t too bad. I’m happy with the results and I’ll be doing another challenge-shaped thing in June because I’ve liked seeing my progress as I go.

I actually managed to leave all if the remaining books in my May challenge at work. SO if I read another book before BEA it will either be TFIOS or Now & Forever. Or maybe Love and Other Foreign Words. I’m feeling indecisive!

How has your week been? Fellow BEA-goers: What books are you hoping to finish before the first day? Non-BEA goers: Any books you’re hoping to hammer out before the month is out?

In which I have news of a personally exciting nature

You wouldn’t know it from the posts on here, but this week has been a whirlwind. In fact, this month has been a whirlwind. I was waiting to share the good news for a little while until everything was more official and the pieces fell into place which now seems to have happened.

I am starting a new job in June. It’s at the same Place of Employ (an urban public library) but I will now be full-time. I will also (here’s the exciting part) be a Young Adult librarian.

It’s been a really long road from graduation to this point and I couldn’t be happier. I finally feel like I’m really having a chance to learn and grow in my Place of Employ with all of the opportunities (and of course the new job) that have been made available to me.

Even in the midst of my job searching, I never thought I’d get to actually be a YA Librarian. It seemed like something that belonged to cooler, more well-suited people and it seemed like a special thing because openings were so hard to find. And I am so grateful for this opportunity.

It’s bittersweet because I love my office and the people I’ve met there as well as the project I’ve been coordinating. But it’s also very exciting (and only a little bit scary!).

I have content scheduled from now through July so there should be much change in programming here. It just seemed like a good time to stop keeping  this news under wraps :)

Event Recap: Susane Colasanti, Emery Lord, Sarah Mlynowski, Kieran Scott, Jen E. Smith, E. Lockhart

Tuesday night, Nicole and I went to a Great Teen Reads event at Books of Wonder. The event was really fun, so I decided to write another recap.

As you can already tell, there were a lot of authors there and a lot of books to talk about! (The event was also moderated by the lovely Gaby from Queen Ella Bee Reads.)

The event had some reading, some Q & A and (very excitingly!) a show and tell.

Susane Colasanti kicked things off. She was representing her latest Now & Forever which is about the girlfriend of the world’s most famous rockstar. The cover is sparkly and amazing and I can’t wait to read it. (Also Susane used her former-teacher brain to good effect and remembered me from previous events! So: proof we are friends! Proof!)

For Susane’s show and tell she related back to the book and how people always tend to compare who is the biggest fan of, well, anything. Spoiler: Susane will always be the biggest fan. She shared photos from seeing John Mayer front row center AND a postcard Nick Hornby wrote to her in 1998. Bow down to the master guys!

This is Susane's "Obviously I am the biggest fan here" face. Emery Lord, like the rest of us, was very impressed.
This is Susane’s “Obviously I am the biggest fan here” face. Emery, like the rest of us, was very impressed.

Next up was Emery Lord talking about her debut Open Road Summer. Emery brought a replica Bruce Springsteen tour shirt (because her book is about a teen country music star on tour–Emery said she had always wondered what was happening inside those tour buses so she wrote about it) and a bracelet from her best friend because the book is also all about friendship. (I’m reading this one as we speak and am really like it!)

Here is Emery Lord holding up her Bruce Springsteen tour shirt before talking about the inspiration of Open Road Summer.
Here is Emery holding up her replica Bruce Springsteen tour shirt before talking about the inspiration of Open Road Summer.

Sarah Mlynowski was talking about her newest YA title Don’t Even Think About It (and she’s working on a sequel! I totally thought this book was a standalone). She brought a picture of a creepy building with no windows. That inspired her to write about a secret school which eventually morphed into writing about a homeroom class where everyone gets ESP after receiving flu shots from a bad batch of vaccine. (Sarah is always super funny so of course she was hilarious here as well!)

Here's Sarah with the photo of the creepy windowless building. She said the name but, sadly, I can't remember what that name was now.
Here’s Sarah with the photo of the creepy windowless building. She said the name but, sadly, I can’t remember what that name was now.

Kieran Scott talked about her newest book–the first in a trilogy–called Only Everything which has a fantastic cover. One of the characters in this book suddenly realizes he is a good runner and makes the varsity cross country team causing a bit of an identity crisis. She brought in her own Varsity Jacket to represent this push and pull. Also: a copy of Persuasion which she had to teach a class period of in college (something a different character has to do in the book when her class reads Great Expectations). I also realized that Kieran Scott and Kate Brian are the same person–I am still miffed at Nicole for not making this clearer to me much earlier. (I should also note that I was at a bad angle to photograph Kieran–and Jen and E.–so the photos might be blurry. Alas!)

Here's Kieran in her fierce Varsity jacket before reading a super sweet passage from her book!
Here’s Kieran in her fierce Varsity jacket before reading a super sweet passage from her book!

Jennifer E. Smith’s newest book The Geography of You and Me is part romance, part travel book. Her heroine Lucy spends part of the novel in Scotland–a place Jen has actually visited. While there (and in Ireland) Jen fell in love with Rugby so she decided this time around to write a rugby player into the story. She brought not one but two miniature rugby balls to represent that love.

Jen showed her mini rugby ball too quickly to photograph, so just imagine she's holding it here and then reading about the cute rugby player with a minor role in this book.
Jen showed her mini rugby ball too quickly to photograph, so just imagine she’s holding it here and then reading about the cute rugby player with a minor role in this book.

E. Lockhart rounded out the group with her highly secretive new title We Were Liars. The story includes fairy tales and characters writing mottos on their hands so showed off a handsome copy of Perrault’s fairy tales to represent the power of fairy tales (a device Cady uses throughout the story to share truths about her family that, in the moment, are too unspeakable to say explicitly). She also had the words DON’T PANIC written on the backs of her hands.

E. was basically too far away and fast to photograph with her book. So just imagine it and know that her hands have DON'T on one hand and PANIC on the other in sharpie at the moment this was taken.
E. was basically too far away and fast to photograph with her book. So just imagine it and know that her hands have DON’T on one hand and PANIC on the other in sharpie at the moment this was taken.

After reading and show and tell it was time for a brief Q & A followed by signings. I won’t bore you all by bragging (again) but it is very satisfying in a strange way to realize that authors recognize readers too. This was one of the best panels I’ve seen in a while and I definitely have some more books on my TBR list now.

The One: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review (and a series sendoff!)

The One by Kiera CassThirty-five girls entered the Selection where they would have a chance to win the prince’s heart and one day rule Illea beside him as queen. Of those original girls, six became the Elite–their lives forever altered as they joined a higher caste and came even closer to the end of the Selection.

When America Singer arrived at the palace she never thought she would make it so far. She never realized she would want so badly to be the one Maxon chooses. Now, with the Selection nearing its end, America knows exactly what she wants. She hopes that Maxon feels the same. With pressure mounting for him to make a decision, America is still unsure if Maxon’s affections run as deep as her own.

Meanwhile attacks to the palace are growing in frequency with more and more threat of bloodshed as the rebels threaten to the Illean monarchy apart.

It is only now, with everything she wants so tantalizingly close, that America truly realizes how much she has to lose and how hard she will fight to earn it in The One (2014) by Kiera Cass.

Find it on Bookshop.

The One is the final book in Cass’ Selection trilogy. It is preceded by The Selection and The Elite. It is also very much a third book–don’t bother starting the series here. Read from the beginning.

All of the entanglements from the earlier novels in the series are neatly dispatched as the story progresses to its natural conclusion. Although this series has never quite qualified as a pure dystopia, Cass delivers more world building here to create a better picture of Illea. Even knowing how the main characters feel, the tension is still high making for a page-turning novel that is both exciting and romantic.

While much of the story felt rushed in places (particularly the last fifty pages) Cass manages to maintain the unusual balance of romance and action that has become a signature of this series. The focus remains where it should for this story: squarely on America and Maxon’s relationship. Readers also learn more about both characters as they negotiate what it means–and what it might cost–to want to spend their lives together.

That the premise works, and holds up, throughout this entire trilogy proves Cass’ expertise. The memorable, self-aware characters in this series are ones that will stay with readers. The One is a splendid conclusion to a much loved series that hints at even better things to come from Cass’ future writing endeavors.

Possible Pairings: Crewel by Gennifer Albin, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, Wither by Lauren DeStefano, The Jewel by Amy Ewing, Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber, Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George, Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, Legend by Marie Lu, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf, The Bachelor

Exclusive Bonus Content: I also have to say I love, love, love the covers. This series is just so well packaged. The covers are consistent while giving very different vibes. I also like the nod to America’s name as it were with the red, white and blue of the books. Also the crowns embossed on the covers. So well done. I’m going to miss this series.

Where Things Come Back: A (Rapid Fire) Review

Where Things Come Back by John Corey WhaleyWhere Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (2011)

Lily, Arkansas is a hopeless place full of sad people who tried to leave but failed. Cullen Witter, like a lot of people, wants desperately to get out of this stifling small town. The summer before his senior year in high school Cullen sees his first corpse. Then he sees the body of his cousin who overdosed on drugs. Later, after the corpses and the end of school, the entire town becomes obsessed with a woodpecker–long thought extinct–who may or may not be hiding in the woods around Lily. Stranger still, Cullen’s brilliant brother, Gabriel, disappears.

Chapters from Cullen’s first person narration are interspersed with third-person narratives from two unlikely missionaries. Other reviews will talk about these stories entwining in strange and surprising ways. They might also call this novel a mystery. I disagree with both statements.

Whaley’s debut novel was the winner of both the 2012 Printz Award and the 2012 Morris Award. While the prose is extremely literary, I contend there is very little mystery in this story. The narratives are not particularly shocking in the ways in which they overlap or the general story. Given the plot structure, the big reveal was ultimately predictable.

Where Things Come Back is about nothing so much as it is about waiting. The town is waiting for a woodpecker to return and change its fate. Cullen is waiting for his chance to get away and also for a simpler but much harder thing: the return of his missing brother. There are interesting ideas to be unpacked in this world of waiting–ideas that Whaley does examine in interesting ways.

Unfortunately that is never quite enough to make the story into a page-turner or anything more than a thoughtful, brief, meditation on the randomness of life.

Writerly prose can be found throughout the story which works in some instances to help Cullen develop a very unique voice. At the same time, it always feels like this novel is trying very hard to be thoughtful and contemplative in a way that feels forced.

Cullen’s mind wanders throughout the narrative as he goes off on tangents. While these flights of fancy are amusing (as Cullen imagines his town overrun by zombies and the like) they distract from the plot immensely. The structure reminded me so much of the “If you give a mouse a cookie” books that it became the only thing I could imagine as I read these imaginings. Worse, these elements added nothing to the story except to create a titillating ending that leaves a tiny bit of room for discussion.

By the end of the story, Where Things Come Back became a strange and arbitrary novel with a mildly interesting (and very open) ending.

Week in Review: May 18


This week on the blog you can check out:

I also want to point again to my BEA tips post now that BEA is mere weeks away.

Remember how I made a May Reading Challenge because I wanted to read ten books before BEA? Well I’m 5 books in and starting my sixth so I’m feeling really good about the undertaking!

Work was busy this week but should ease up soon. I got a lot of housekeeping things done here on the blog and elsewhere online. Mom bought us more trees so I helped her plant them this weekend which was hard but I’m happy it’s done. I also got to cart home 8 bags of soil which was less fun but at least it’s done.

I’m writing this while I listen to OneRepublic’s new album, Native, and I’m really liking it. I tend to listen to CDs (albums I guess is a better word since they are all on my iPod Molly) repeatedly for weeks and weeks on end so sometimes I forget how much other good music I can find. I just got the CD yesterday from the library and I’m very happy with it obviously.

Not much else to report. How was your week?