Book Review: Slayer by Kiersten White

“In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the slayer.”

Welcome back to the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer…minus Buffy. In Kiersten White’s new young adult series set in the same universe, Buffy may be gone but a new slayer is picking up where season 8 ended. (For those unfamiliar with season 8, that’s because it exists in comic book form instead of on TV)

Nina and her twin sister Artemis have grown up in the Watchers Academy where they are trained to act as guides to the slayers. The girls’ mother serves on the Watcher’s Council alongside some familiar Watcher families, and Nina really wants no part of the lifestyle. Artemis has always seemed born for the storm, not her.

To top it off, Nina’s hatred of Buffy runs deep – when Buffy destroyed magic, it prevented witches from using their powers, ended the slayer line and also deeply impacted Nina’s life in more ways than one. So when it’s Nina instead of Artemis that begins to manifest slayer powers, it’s a shock to everyone at the Watchers Academy. And she really, really does not want to become a slayer.

In the first few chapters, White does a great job of catching up readers who might be unfamiliar with the Buffyverse and even though this is an original story, it fits in nicely with the tone the TV show set for it.

And just because Buffy is gone, she’s definitely not forgotten; her presence can be felt in a big way within the story, especially when Nina and her friends start taking down demons and vampires.

Slayer kicks off a new and exciting young adult series that should appeal to fantasy fans even if they didn’t grow up watching BTVS. A solid first effort.

 

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Me at Buffy’s House in Torrence, CA

 

Best Books of 2018

Is it really time to start compiling my favorite books I’ve read this year? Where did 2018 go? This year, I set a Goodreads goal of reading 65 books and as I’m writing this with about a month left to go, I have managed to surpass that and am at 67 books total! I will probably hit 70 before the end of the year, so it looks like for 2019, I’ll need to up my goal a little bit.

Continue reading “Best Books of 2018”

Book Review: The Beauty Suit – How My Year of Religious Modesty Made me a Better Feminist by Lauren Shields

41zMxUQgBZL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_As women, we’re constantly bombarded by society to look younger, stay slim, have blemish free skin and frizz free hair.

Social media hasn’t helped us out at all – fashion bloggers are constantly reminding us we need to have our eye lashes filled, our eyebrows microbladed, our skin freshly spray tanned and that last week’s top we bought from the clearance rack is already out of style.

Superficiality is consuming western society and in The Beauty Suit, Lauren Shields argues that women are being told that our worth is defined by our looks and even though the measurement of our hemline is supposed to liberate us, it actually can stifle our path to empowerment.

So she set out to do an experiment – for nine months out of her life, she was shedding “The Suit” as she calls it, and dressing modestly. No make-up, no heals and no blow-outs – Sheilds decided to take inspiration from American Muslim women who wear a hijab for feminist reasons and see how dressing modestly affected her life and how people treated her.

This was a fascinating read and one that most women will relate to. The first time Sheilds goes out in public without make-up, she’s mortified to show her bare face in public. Will someone ask her if she feels alright? Are people noticing the blemishes on her face? What women who wears make-up on a daily basis hasn’t felt that way?

She noticed that men stopped paying attention to her when she’d go out with her friends, preferring someone who looked like they “made an effort.” People asked her if she was a nun. As she documented her experiment for Salon, fellow feminists criticized her saying she was trying to dictate how other women dressed.

Her entire experiment is coupled with the way religion views modesty, so there is quite a bit of historical context throughout as well as a lot of feminist exploration of the patriarchy, toxic masculinity, slut shaming and victim blaming.

However, Shields focuses so much on how women do all these things to please men, but she never really addresses the idea that women put on a full face of make-up for other women. I would have to agree that at first, women try to look their best to catch a mate, but once our significant other has seen us barefaced and naked, we don’t care so much about always looking attractive for them. Instead, we put on “The Suit” because we’re constantly scrutinizing – and judging – how other women look and we know they’re doing the same to us.

(If you’re a woman and you’re reading this saying “I’d never do that” then I’d have to call B.S. on you because ALL women have done this at least once in their life.)

I personally would have liked a little more about what she was feeling and how people were reacting to her experiment versus the heavy focus on feminism and religion but overall, this is an intriguing read and a challenge to women to look past the materialistic facets of our lives and start embracing that “life’s too short to keep cramming ourselves into a costume that tells us we’re secondary in the world.”

Book Review: Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

Sylvie and Dan have been together for ten, happy years. They’re parents to twin girls and both are satisfied with their lives together. But when their family physician gives them the news that not only are they perfectly healthy but they probably have at least sixty-eight more years together, the happy couple panic.

What if they get bored with each other? What if they’ve learned everything there possibly is to know about each other? Sixty-eight years is a really long time. So Sylvie and Dan decide to spice things up by initiating something they call “Project Surprise Me” – they’ll each take turns planning surprises for one another.

From surprise dinners with old friends, luxury department store items, to a sexy photo shoot the surprises are well-meaning but often go awry or comically bad. And worst of all, the surprises cause some old secrets to bubble to the surface, leading to distrust and doubt between them.

Sophie Kinsella, best known for her Shopaholic series, has written another light, beach read that hilariously deals with the ins and outs of marriage. The characters are colorful and eccentric and while the plot is a little over the top, at the heart of the story are common issues any married couple can relate to.

The book gets a bit bogged down in the middle, but Kinsella’s writing style keeps things moving past the sluggish parts. Fans of her previous works will enjoy this title as well.