Adult, Books

Uncommon Bodies Anthology ARC Review

I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review!

This book is already published if you want to read it by all means pick up a copy!

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Title: Uncommon Bodies
Author: Anthology (full list of authors on Goodreads)
Publisher: Fighting Monkey Press
Page #: 300
Genre: Short Story Collection

I spent a long time trying to figure out how I would review this collection. It is difficult enough to review a collection of short stories written by one author, but when there are so many people writing so many pieces the challenge becomes ever greater. I feel as if that is the beauty of this anthology though. There are so many different stories in it. Some of them I was confused by, others I was awed. Some terrified me and others had me sighing at the adorable protagonist and their love interest. All of these things are held in one book and I was dumbfounded as to how I could sum it all up, and perhaps I can’t.

I’m not going to go through all 20 stories, it would take me forever and I doubt anyone would want to read that so I will do my best to discuss what I think was done really well here, and what I think could have been improved upon.

As far as the collection as a whole goes, I definitely think that it had a great breadth of pieces. I also appreciated how many of the pieces were incredibly inclusive not only because of its seamless discussion of common ailment, disfigurements, and disabilities along side mythical or magical creatures, but its inclusion of different sexualities. I actually thought the relation of physical “deformity” with non-hetero-normative sexuality identification incredibly interesting and if I could go into more detail without spoiling you I would. It is perhaps something I will write a paper on at some point in my life.

I am not sure, however, whether or not I liked the order in which these stories were curated. The breadth of the tones and genres in here is astounding for sure but it was a little difficult for me to go from a romantic story to a horror story to a poem to something else entirely. While I feel like it does allow the book to keep the stories separate from each other it is also a little jarring.

If you want to know some of my favorite stories in the bunch then I would say that the opening and closing stories, We is We by Michael Harris Cohen and Scars: First Session by Jordanne Fuller were incredibly poignant. I think they book end this collection incredibly well. The first was moving in its portrayal of the duality of opinions in conjoined twins. Whether or not it is better to be a spectacle behind the glass or experience the real world. The latter was an incredible story about over coming years of mental and physical abuse. I also want to shout out Undead Cyborg Girl by Kim Wells for its ability to make me laugh and awe on cue.

Stories that I found uncomfortable were mainly only uncomfortable because they were not my preferred style of story. All The Devils by Keira Michelle Telford read a bit like Jack the Ripper fanfiction to me, not only because of its erotic overtones, but because the writing wasn’t pushed as far as I thought some of the other stories were, and Reserved by SM Johnson was equally uncomfortable but only because of the over-sexualization to the point of fetishization of disability. Now I don’t have a disability and I cannot say whether these stories accurately or inaccurately portray such fetishization because of this, but it made me uncomfortable and I would put that forward as my only grievance.

The stories were interesting enough to keep me engaged. I was able to read two or three a day and finish it within a week. If you have an interest in magical realism there is plenty of that in here for you, if you have an interest in connections between perceived deformity and assumed deformity I think this also has some interesting comments.

Overall I really enjoyed the collection and would recommend it to you all if you haven’t already to look into it!

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Adult, Books, YA (Young Adult)

The First Book Haul with #BetwixttheBooks

Now, I have to apologize guys, it wasn’t until I was editing that video that I realized I did not tell you anything helpful at all about any of the books I mentioned.  I will put the video here and below you will find a short description of all of the books I mentioned and why I picked them up.  Next time I will make sure to have something to say about the books because I shouldn’t have the first video jitters.  I hope you enjoy, and look forward to the reviews that may come from many of these books!

18079683The first book here was given to me by my grandmother.  I heard about it when it first came out because Candace of librarianfanmail mentioned it in a video.  It had immediately caught my attention.  After taking my class on passing literature I was even more intrigued and wanted to pick it up, and just never got around to it.  This was one of the last books I read last year.  It is loosely based around Snow White and when I say loosely I mean it shares similar themes with Snow White, such as mirrors, beauty, and evil step mothers.  It is literary fiction.  I quite enjoyed it and it will make an appearance soon in a video that Gretchen and I are planning to make for you guys!

24452249The second book I received for Christmas was Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg.  I was most intrigued by this after watching Leena of JustKissMyFrog and Lauren from Reads and Daydreams discussing why they loved it despite thinking that they wouldn’t.  It is the story of a town reacting to one tragic event.  One woman’s entire family goes up in smoke on the night of her daughters wedding.  The story is told through multiple perspectives and I hear it avoids most of the genre tropes and is interestingly structured when it comes to perspective throughout it.  I am excited to pick this one up sometime soon!

17237030I actually borrowed this book from the library toward the end of last year and read the whole thing before immediately purchasing it for myself (with the British cover because look how much prettier it is).  This is the story of two women.  One, a young Japanese School Girl named Nao who is trying to find herself while writing down the story of her beloved Great Grandmother Jiko, and Two, a woman named Ruth who finds Nao’s diary on the beach in Canada, set adrift after the tsunami hit Japan.  It has elements of magical realism and mystery.  It is incredibly touching and heartwarming.  I doubt anyone could read this and not be moved by the story within.  I want to review this soon, but I’m not sure when I will get to it.23492483

The review for this one will be out next Friday hopefully as I have both read the book and seen the film now.  This is a story about homesickness.  This book barely has a plot.  It is an experience.  You sit and you read, and you hear about these characters, you learn about their struggles, their life, their love.  This is what this book is.  If you expect anything else you will not find it.  I feel like it was expertly crafted.  I feel like despite never having felt homesickness myself that I could completely understand and empathize with Eilis.  Historical Fiction following one Irish Girls life after the war when she is sponsored to move to America.

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Another book recently turned into a film although this time I have neither read the book nor seen the film but am in the process of doing so.  The reason I picked up this book was because I wanted to know what a lesbian novel from the 1950’s looked like.  That’s right this book was first published as The Price of Salt in 1952.  It follows a young store clerk who falls in love with a much older married woman.  It was in the mystery section of the bookstore and I’m not sure at all what the mystery is (Taylor would have me believe the mystery is “what is a lesbian? Lesbians don’t exist.”) but I am excited to read and find out what exactly in here is going on, and then I can go see the film.  Although I better hurry otherwise it will be gone and I will have to wait to rent it

20170404This is the first book on this list that is set to be read by Bibliomancy this spring as part of our #imbibliomancy project.  If you haven’t heard of this yet you are definitely living under a rock because it was all over the place when it first came out last year.  This is a post apocalyptic story where most of the worlds population was wiped out by a flu.  It follows a group of traveling actors as they cross the United States, performing Shakespeare.  To any of you literature nerds out there I’m sure this will be one for you.  To any of you people who like post apocalyptic or dystopian books you might also like this.  Then finally for those of you who really like literary fiction, guess where this book sits when it comes to genre!

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I’m not sure exactly how much Jen Campbell has raved about this book but it is enough that I picked up a genre that I very rarely touch.  It isn’t that I don’t read historical fiction, but I am very particular about the historical fiction I pick up (and it rarely goes past 1900).  This is the story of a prostitute named Sugar who lives in Victorian London.  This is the story of how she gets out of the brothel and slowly makes her way up the ranks of society.  I know very little about the actual plot of this book because everyone says it is something you just have to experience, but they also say it is an amazing experience so I will hopefully get to this one soon.  It is a beast of a book though, so it may be a while.  I might want to read this when I have a lot of free time.

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This is my most recent purchase and the one I know the least about.  To tell you the truth I mostly fell in love with the cover.  I find it so interesting.  I did hear several different booktubers pick it up so I did know that it was worth my time for that reason.  The back of the book tells me that it follows a woman named Jake who moves to a remote British island with a flock of sheep.  Her sheep begin to die one by one either by a person or beast.  This has elements of literary fiction and elements of mystery maybe even some thriller so I definitely had to pick it up.  Three of the things I love all wrapped into one beautiful package.  Most book lovers admit that the pretty books are their favorites, as long as the insides match the outside as well.

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We have reached the section with the ARCS I have received in exchange for my review so you will definitely be seeing these books back here soon.  I am almost done with this one, I will probably finish it this weekend if I’m honest.  This is an anthology of short stories with the common theme of, you guessed it, uncommon bodies.  There is at least one character in each story who is either born differently, of a different species, has done something to their body to enhance it, etc.  Most of the stories have an element of horror although some that I read had a bit of romance as well, and one was even a piece of erotica.  If this sounds interesting to you then you can get it now because it has already been released and look forward to my review of it next week!

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This ARC is also a collection of short stories, but these short stories all follow the same protagonist.  This is a science fiction story that starts with a short story about a man who has recently lost his daughter.  It follows his story from this point on.  Look at that cover ladies and gentleman, another masterpiece of graphic design.  I don’t know much more about this but it has already been released as well so I will definitely be picking it up next so that it too can make an appearance on the blog for you guys.  I don’t read an excessive amount of science fiction so I’m glad to have something to spice up my reading.  Especially when my reading has been so fantasy heavy due to all of my friends having hard-ons for that genre and I am left to slum it in the literary fiction by myself.

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This ARC was actually a surprise for me.  I didn’t know it had been approved as the approval came in while I was on vacation visiting Taylor.  I had scheduled all of my blog stuff for early in the week so that I could relax and not worry about it all that much.  This book is a literary fiction novel by an author whose debut was long listed for the Bailey’s Prize for Women.  This one doesn’t come out until July so it will be a while before it shows up again and before you guys can get your hands on it.  The story follows the Walker family and the chain of events all caused by one mysterious stranger walking into their nearly abandoned town in Colorado.  I was surprised to receive this ARC as I’m sure it is highly requested but I am glad to give it my best shot.

I can now feel better for having botched that video so badly.  Next time I promise to do way better.  Later today I will post the post for our Bibliomancy for Beginners special of The Magician King of Lev Grossman so look out for that as well as the Betwixt the Books weekly wrap up tomorrow!