Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Book Review: The Big Rewind by Libby Cudmore

Last night I finished the novel "The Big Rewind" by Libby Cudmore, found in print and Kindle.

To start, the book falls into a fun category that I call Hipster Mystery. The fun part of the book would be all of the entertainment references from the 80's, 90's to today. I will freely admit that I am more mainstream and at 35 years old had a few funny moments where I felt like Captain America "I got that reference!", but it is a fun run.

  At first glance, it really does seem like your average mystery novel that starts with a murder, but the main themes of this novel is not the goal of solving KitKat's murder. The murder is more of an underlining theme to draw Jett along, the main theme that I pulled from it is the different flavors of love.

 The murder occurs during a time in Jett's life when she is going through a transition, and having her first life crisis of what is she doing with her life, and when you go through something like that we often look backwards or pine for someone. That pining often holds us back from moving forward.   It struck me with how daring and forward Jett could be except for in her relationships.

  In all, the book was well-paced, well-written, fun, engaging, not your typical mystery, and possibly a hallmark of a new type of book that we can expect from 30 something's who are not the main stream.

Check out the book. I give it 5 stars.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Review of "Excellent Daughters" By Katherine Zoepf

"Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of Young Women Who Are Transforming the Arab World" By Katherine Zoepf

First impression is that it is not really what I thought it would be. It is more this journalists view on her experiences and conversations with people (mostly women) there. Not to say that it isn't an interesting read, but it wasn't quite what I expected at first.

Also, I found the first chapter in particular very sad, considering what has been happening in Syria more recently. I cannot even imagine what it would be like ... for someone who came from Damascus to read the book and be able to connect to what the author was saying while also being a refugee in another country.

I find so many views on women in the middle east disturbing, especially the honor killings. On the one hand, I can try to understand the reasoning as an empathic person, but it is terrifying that it is so accepted by so many. How can someone not see how murdering someone could be considered wrong?

Especially and in particular when they did nothing wrong and were victims. Or forcing a girl to marry someone who raped them.

I just don't understand that mindset. I don't understand the absolute lack of empathy or compassion to allow such actions to occur.

In the end, it was still a valuable read because of the viewpoint it was being told from. It was easy for me to connect to the writer because she and I have similar viewpoints on things and try to keep an open mind (the kind conservatives say will fall out of my head, luckily it hasn't done that yet).

Last night I actually considered a world in which I had a male guardian who "lovingly" made sure I was safe and was the one who gave me permission to leave the house, go to school, get married.

As someone who probably had less adult supervision and definitely less guidance than I should have as a young person, I can see the value in that. But I can also see the danger, with all of the horrible stories that sets women up for. But what really concerns me is neither of those, but that as a feminist woman, the idea that I cannot make decisions for my own life is deeply unsettling. Why should men be able to make decisions for themselves but not men?

Another thing that struck me as a personal revelation is the fact that I have always been a fan of bringing democracy (really social democracy but let's move on haha) to all countries and I wish sometimes it could move faster. The one thing this book has shown me, and particularly in the last chapter, is how different cultures are. Sometimes things have to move slowly and they will not look the way they would here, and maybe that is okay. Who am I to judge for them, because forcing a belief system on people is just as repugnant an idea to me?

This book was fairly easy to read, would jump around a little (which was unfortunate), but generally you got the idea of where she was going. It is more the author's experiences in Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia during a certain time period. It was filled with fascinating anecdotes, stories that both contradicted the authors ideas in eye-opening ways and supported her ideas. There are surprises and disappointments. But.. maybe more this is a book about humanity through women's eyes in these countries. What do you think?