Daughters of Doubt and Eyerolling

Month: July 2020 Page 1 of 2


Wordslut. A feminist guide to taking back the English language by Amanda Montell, published 28 May 2019.

I was made aware of this sociolinguistic book by a friend, who knows that I like to learn about words, their origins, their (current) usage – in short, that I am a hedge-linguist and a wordslut. Said friend and I then did a buddy listen of the book; we both listened to the audiobook and had a Zoom meeting to talk about it. We both liked the narration by the author herself, she is snarky and has a lot of serious things to say about the English language.

Montell talks about how words lost their original meanings and how, instead of being all encompassing or empowering, they are now used against women and marginalised groups, to keep women from power; how gendered insults, like calling someone a ‘sissy’, work and should be overcome; why women should curse more, in which situations women curse and whether we need gender specific curse words – does ‘clitfuck’ work? Apart from concentrating on vocabulary alone, there is also information about grammar, for example how gender neutral pronouns work in other languages and how they might work in English. An entire chapter is dedicated to specific pronunciation and the voice women use when talking, how women can sound more authoritative and whether women should embrace phenomenons like vocal fry and up-talk.

Some of the topics stuck more with me, like the gendered insults, gossiping, women’s voice/pronunciation patterns. Some I hardly remember what Montell was talking about, gay language for example. I am not certain why, I know I listened to this chapter attentively, but my brain might have filed it under “that must be a US thing”.

I recommend this book to anyone who would like to learn about how language is used against women, how women themselves struggle with coming to terms with language, and people fighting for the equality of all people – no matter what assigned gender at birth, skin colour, or cultural background.

4/5 Goodreads stars


When I first got a Netgalley account, I requested a huge amount of ARCs, Unearthed by Marc Mulero was one of them.

The author definitely can write action scenes, but that was about the only thing I liked about this book. The story felt very videogame-ish, without any depth. Gruesome scenes were used solely as plot device.
It is obvious the book was written by a man, because the only “strong” female character was of course the melee assassin in a world of machine and sniper guns. Who is so badass she does apparently not need to clean her knives. It felt very forced. The rest seemed to be women in need and muscular male fighters. Weapons were also very important, in the first few pages you can only read 3 times about the Desert Eagle of the leader.

One might think this book was written because someone wanted the story as an action movie. It certainly felt that way to me. 

Lesson learned: Don’t request every book you can find on Netgalley. Not even half of them. Maybe only those you have heard about previously.

Book Thieves!!!

Lori and Max and the Book Thieves is the second book in the Lori and Max series by Catherine O’Flynn, Pub date 08 Oct 2020.

What’s new in the world of Max and Lori? Max was kidnapped in the first adventure of the two girls (Lori and Max, published in 2019) and now has a guard dog called Fang. There’s a new boy in their class, Taylor, who’s being bullied by an older pupil. Their regular teacher is on maternity leave; everybody hopes she’ll call the child ‘Colin’. The new teacher used to work in business, and tends to point out that things are different ‘in the real world’.

When Max’s phone is stolen, Max and Lori gang up with Taylor to get it back. Then Fang digs up a tupper box that leads Lori not only into her own past, but to the second case, the case of the book thieves.

The first case presents itself right at the beginning of the story, but the reader has to get to the middle of the book before the story of the stolen book is even introduced. This made me wonder why the book was supposed to be about book thieves when the first half of the book was about phone thieves. Young readers (age group 9-12 years) might be confused about this long wait.

3.5/5 Goodreads stars – that’s 4 stars then

More Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Immigrant Women Who Changed the World by Elena Favilli. Pub Date: 13 Oct 2020

I was invited to review an early copy of the third instalment of the bestselling Good Night Stories series. This time the stories and illustrations concentrate on women who emigrated from their country of birth. Among those 100 women are very well known names such as Rihanna or Madeleine Albright.

Personally, I enjoyed the stories of less well-known-to-me women like Lupe Gonzalo (Migrant Farmer and Labour Organiser from Guatemala), or football referee Jawahir Jewels Roble (from Somalia) far more than the stories of Diane von Fürstenberg or Gloria Estefan.

The outstanding illustrations in this book were made by 70 artists identifying as women from all over the world. A list of all the names is included in the back of the book.

An empowering read that shouldn’t be missing on any shelf.

Of Humans, Spiders, Paul & Others

Children of Ruin is the sequel to Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. These are fantastic science fiction books that deal with evolution, and what could happen if different species went through an evolutionary uplift.

Attention! This review contains spoilers for Children of Time, so be warned.

The book follows two storylines: The first is a second expedition from old earth to a star system with a suitable planet in the Goldilocks zone. One of the scientists has a very special little project concerning octopuses.

The second follows Humans and Portiids in search of other habitable planets. Naturally, they arrive at the same system where the other expedition arrived thousands of year ago, finding the system not only habitable, but also inhabited.

Every character has a humanoid name, and I have to admit every octopus I’ll ever meet will be called Paul in my head. Adrian Tchaikovsky has the incredible talent to make non-human life relatable without making it seem human. I don’t know how he does it, but it is an amazing read.

I can really recommend this series for everyone interested in sci-fi, evolution and inter-species communication.

Whimsical fiction with gorgeous cover

The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow, published 14 May 2020.

Could I just say that I liked this book more than The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern and be done with it? Yeah, thought so.

January, a child of mixed heritage, grows up in the mansion of Mr Locke, her father’s employer. Her father is often absent, travelling the world to find artefacts for Mr Locke. Meanwhile, January often travels with Mr Locke. On one such trip she finds out that her writing has magical ability, what she writes becomes true.

When her father doesn’t return from an expedition, now 17 year old January finds herself at a threshold. Stay with Mr Locke, ignore all she has discovered about herself and her parents so far, or go and open all the doors, find her father, find herself. Of course, she does the latter, but it is a very long walk on winding bumpy roads.

A whimsical YA story. Set in the early years of the 20th century, in the US and ten thousand fantastical worlds. A story about finding yourself, about family, heritage, and, of course, love.

4/5 Goodreads stars

Slaughterhouse Five GN

Slaughterhouse-Five, or the Children’s Crusade by Ryan North, based on Kurt Vonnegut’s work. Pub Date 15 September 2020.

Look at this, a Graphic Novel of the classic science fiction novel. It is a very bold, and in my opinion, successful adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s. The GN doesn’t just simply repeat the story, it enhances it with its well-drawn graphics. Vonnegut’s weird witticism and dark humour are transferred well to the new format.

Definitely a gem among the GN.

5/5 Goodreads stars

Steampunk expedition to Mars?

Castle in the Stars: A Frenchman on Mars by Alex Alice, Pub Date 08 September 2020.

This is the fourth part of the steampunk graphic novel series by French Author Alex Alice. The Knights of Ether are on their way to Mars, to find the King and rescue Seraphin’s father.

On Mars they not only get separated, but they encounter mysterious creatures, an ancient dying civilisation on Mars.

The painted backgrounds and the pictures of the space ships are exquisit.

As always, we are left with a cliffhanger. I’m looking forward to book 5.

4/5 Goodreads stars

Why I cannot make a monthly TBR post

Welcome to my TBR Shelf of Shame. I won’t pretend to have even a tiny bit of control over the shelf, and I regret nothing. In fact, it makes me very happy to see my big shelf of unread books! I always discover something, and I know that even if everything goes to hell, I will always have something to read.

The only real problem is: WHAT DO I READ NEXT?! I am a total mood reader, so I simply cannot plan my TBR a month ahead. I can only talk about the direction my mood swings. Right now, I am of a mind to finish some series where the last book is hidden in there:

  • Shattered Minds by Laura Lam (Pacifica series)
  • The Broken Heavens by Kameron Hurley (Worldbreaker Saga)
  • The Toll by Neal Shusterman (Arc of a Scythe)
  • The Night Country by Melissa Albers (The Hazel Wood)

Instead of planning a TBR, I will talk about new releases now, books I look forward to, and my reading mood swings to.

This month, 2 new books will find a home in my lovely TBR shelf: Peace Talks by Jim Butcher, which I am totally freaking out about, I need more Harry Dresden NOW!!! and Demon in White by Christopher Ruocchio, last part (I think) of The Sun Eater series.

Another View at Victorian Asylums

I was recently able to read an ARC on Life in the Victorian Asylum by Mark Stevens. When I think about asylum in the Victorian age, I always see rather gruesome pictures in my head, and countless horrors come to mind. This book casts a rather different light on asylums and mental health care in the Victorian age. The author, Mark Stevens, is a professional archivist working with asylum records.

This book consists mostly of a “Welcome Guide”, written as if the reader themselves were admitted to an asylum. The details in this book are many, and they make, to be honest, for a rather dull read. As you would expect from a welcome guide. The last 20% or so of the book are about the development of asylums until today.

Personally, I feel the author should have changed his choice of words, referring only inside the “guide” to the asylum patients as “lunatics”. It feels a very insensitive in the second part of the book.

I actually was surprised by the description of life in an asylum. There is a huge difference to the depiction in today’s media. I am intrigued to research more about the topic, where do the horror stories originate? Surely the actual asylums were partly very good institutions, and in part very bad, and most somewhere in between. The author does not claim to be debunking myths. It was an interesting read though, if incredibly dull to get through. The insensitivity depicted by the author causes another star to be deleted.

2/5 Goodreads stars.

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