Review: Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky

There are so many amazing anthologies on badass women in history being published lately. I’ve read so many in the past year or two that I could make a whole post about them (and maybe I will!), but for now here’s my review for my absolute favorite one of all of them:

women in scienceWomen in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World written and illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky (Ten Speed Press, 128 pages)

Recommended for: Scientists or science lovers, teachers, young women and girls, all women and men, and boys (okay, so basically everyone).

“It’s made to believe / women are the same as men; / are you not convinced / daughters can also be heroic?” — Wang Zhenyi’s poetry

I love this book and am so glad it gets to live on my shelf. I wish I had a daughter or niece for the sole purpose of giving them a copy. Women in Science is an adorably illustrated short work showcasing 50 different women, in chronological order, who defied expectations and excelled in their fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine, physics, and many more.

The volume includes well-known names such as Jane Goodall, Marie Curie, and Ada Lovelace, but there are so many in here I’m sure many haven’t heard of, such as Wang Zhenyi, astronomer, poet, and mathematician, and Elizabeth Blackwell, a doctor who fought social injustice with medicine. She acknowledges how hard it was for these women to accomplish what they did and honors their drive and legacy in such a great way: by introducing them to kids who can look up to these women. WANG ZHENYI

Each features a beautiful, colorful illustration paired with a short bio and cute blurbs in the borders filled with tiny drawings of scientific tools. Geared for ages 10 and older, this is definitely an eye-catching book, and if I was young I certainly would have grabbed it off the shelf. There are even educational extras and infographics including lab tools, a timeline, statistics in stem, and a glossary. I learned so much! While I do wish there had been some non-cis women included, I found this to be my only complaint. Congratulations to Rachel Ignotofsky for creating a remarkable, feminist book to celebrate the achievements of women who can be role models for the next generation of female scientists, engineers, biologists, doctors, and more. We need more of these. I’d give this book 10 stars if I could.

You can buy and view her illustrations and prints on her Etsy shop. Buy the book from IndieBound here, or support your local bookstore! I received this book from Blogging For Books as part of their Book Review Blogger program in exchange for an honest review.

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I’m an official book reviewer now!

Hello again fellow bookish friends.

It has been a while. A lot has happened. I can easily say I’m in a very different stage of my life now, but all that will have to be saved for another post because I have GREAT NEWS.

I’m an official book reviewer! I downplayed this for a while before realizing like, no, this is a big deal, and it’s super cool because it’s something I wanted for so long.

Where am I published? Two places currently. The amazing, locally-founded The Riveter Magazine and BookPage online. If you’re curious, check out my reviews below! Books I review for other outlets will not be featured here on my blog, but I’ll add them to my reviews list so you can still find them and check them out.

Happy reading!

 

 

 

BookRiot’s Read Harder Challenge 2017

RHC_cover_pinterestWell, after flirting with some Litsy reading challenges for a while, I decided to only do the BookRiot Read Harder Challenge this year.

Now, as a voracious reader and bookseller who acquires many galleys, I don’t need to do it to read more. I wanted to do it to promote more books and try to give incentive to YOU guys, people who do want to be more challenged with their reading goals. But I am getting something out of it too.

For example, below are the books on the Challenge that will be the hardest for me to read:

  • A book about sports – HAHA no way! Not for me! But then I was recommended a book about swimming called Swimming Studies, so that may be it for me.
  • A book you’ve read before – I’m not a re-reader unless I’m feeling super nostalgic, so I’m thinking it’s been a while since my last Inkheart read (my favorite book from childhood). Although I could have picked something shorter!
  • A non fiction book about technology – this sounds more like one for my husband, who is going to try to read 12 books on the Challenge. Still stumped on what I will pick!
  • A book where a person of color goes on a spiritual journey – this one is going to be the Alchemist for me, especially since I just bought it and have been hand selling it to customers for a while!

Which ones have I completed so far? As far as having read the whole book, I’ve only finished two: A classic by a person of color and a book of short stories by women, which were Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and The Dark and Other Love Stories by Deborah Willis respectively. I’ll be keeping you posted throughout the year though, and promoting galleys and books being published soon that fit the categories over at Magers & Quinn in the coming months!

Will you join the Challenge with me? Or are you doing a different challenge of your own? Let me know in the comments! 

 

What I’m Currently Reading (March ’17)

Well guys, it’s 2017 and we made it through January and February. While I probably don’t need to tell you how derailed I was from reading, blogging, and generally being motivated to give my 100% to celebrating books, now that I’m back from Italy and my activism has settled to a happy medium, I’m diving back into blogging again (huzzah!)

Get ready for some great posts coming up, including (hopefully) a giveaway or two!! Also, April is shaping up to be a FANTASTIC month of literary events, so get ready to hear about a bunch of those too.

So, what am I reading right now? Well, being in a bit of a funk, I’ve had to pick up many books that I’ve only made it a few pages into…

exit west


Exit West
by Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead Books)

This book came out this month and I was NOT prepared. Having not brought any print galleys with me to Italy, I picked this up the day before it was released and fell in loooooooove. (But then promptly lost my motivation to read but we won’t speak of the why). About a man and woman in an undisclosed Middle Eastern country/city, they fall in love and are transported to other places across the world through portals, though I haven’t gotten to that part yet. The sentences are gorgeous and the prose is so poetic it doesn’t feel like I’m even reading a novel. Pick this one up, guys. It’s also very short at only 240 pages!

indigenous peoples historyAn Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

I’ve been slowly making my way through this one for a few months, ever since I saw Roxanne speak at an event here in Minneapolis! She’s an amazing person and it was moving to hear her talk amidst so much turmoil happening at Standing Rock. This is an excellent read to give you context if you’re involved at all in the peaceful protests or want to show your support beyond donating. Education is important! I’ve already learned so much in just the first chapter.

impossibleThe Impossible Fairy Tale by Han Yujoo (Graywolf Press)

This is a book by one of my favorite independent presses that came out last week! It’s the story of a nameless Child and another little girl and I really can’t say much before spoilers become an issue. It’s creepy, beautiful, but not for everyone. I haven’t finished it yet since I started reading it before leaving for Italy!

love medLove Medicine by Louise Erdrich

This is the book for my bookclub coming up soon! (If you’re interested in coming, let me know!) I can’t believe it’s my first Erdrich. Unfortunately though, I haven’t gotten very far in it, so wish me luck!

difficult womenDifficult Women by Roxane Gay (Grove Press)

Roxane Gay will always be one of my favorite writers after I read Bad Feminist, but this collection of short stories about women is a treat. I started reading this in Italy and realized how much I love short story collections. These stories about women are raw, moving, and visceral, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to anyone a fan of Roxane Gay and others like her.

what we do nowWhat We Do Now: Standing Up For Your Values in Trump’s America by Dennis Johnson (Melville House)

I’ve been reading this smart book of essays one by one. It’s different from the Trump Survival Guide that I read right around Inauguration Day because this is not written by one author but many. I’ve been hearing a lot of great feedback about this one, and it’s excellent so far.

the passageThe Passage (The Passage, #1) by Justin Cronin (Ballantine Books)

I started reading this thriller/horror apocalyptic novel about VAMPIRES (never thought I’d be reading another one of those) while in Italy because it was on my Kindle for $2 and because I can’t stand looking at that beautiful cover and not reading it. But it’s soooo loooong. I read maybe 1/6th of it before I had to quit because it was too depressing to be reading while on vacation. I’ll return to it soon!

why i'm not a femWhy I Am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto by Jessica Crispin (Melville House)

This is a difficult read for me, and one I may not finish. I’m all about reading the other POV to gain knowledge and learn criticism, but I can’t help but think that feminists and women don’t need more flack than they already get. I do understand why she has qualms with mainstream feminism though, which is why I wanted to read it. Perhaps I’ll return, perhaps not, but know it’s going to be a controversial one for every feminist or woman who wishes she could call herself so.

That it’s for now… though knowing my reading habits, I’ll probably pick up a new book tomorrow. Until then, happy reading!

What are you reading right now? Leave me a note in the comments! 

 

Review: Scratch by Steve Himmer

scratchReview: Scratch by Steve Himmer (Dark House Press, 200 pages)

Goodreads synopsis: Martin Blaskett moves to a small town to oversee construction of a housing development, where he encounters a shape-shifting figure from local legend—Scratch. He is taken under the wing of his new neighbor, a retired hunting guide named Gil Rose, and befriends a local woman named Alison. Along the way, trouble ensues as Scratch feels threatened by changes to the landscape, luring locals out into the woods, including Alison’s son. As the blame for a range of events falls at Martin’s feet, he is beset by increasingly inhuman dreams, and comes to doubt his own innocence. A literary novel of wilderness noir that engages the supernatural elements of folklore in the manner of magical realism, Scratch explores the overlapping layers of history, ecology, and storytelling that make up a place.

Recommended for: Nature lovers, readers of creepy, surreal, horror, or mysterious books, books perfect for October.

This enchanting book follows main character Martin via a mysterious, unknown and unreliable narrator. The reader meets Martin just as he’s come to a small town to build a housing complex in the woods nearby, and he lives in a trailer next to Gil, a retired hunting guide. He learns of the legend of Scratch, a strange, shape-shifting creature in the forest whose presence many blame for people’s disappearances, until someone actually goes missing. What happens next as Martin’s dreams become more and more surreal and indistinguishable from reality is dark, philosophical, and completely unexpected.

Himmer does a lot with the legend of Scratch and expertly so, weaving magical realism, supernatural wilderness, and the thrill of a nature horror novel together to create this captivating story. He sets up the story well, and though at moments it gets slow and may disappoint readers more accustomed to traditional horror, the imagery captures expertly the psychological darkness Martin experiences in the forest at night. Though Martin is not particularly the most likeable character, through Himmer’s stunning prose the reader is transported to the forest too, experiencing all the uncomfortable sensations Martin is going through right along with him.

This is an intriguing, beautiful tale of the mysteries of natureparticularly the forestand mankind’s role amongst the creatures who make the woods their home. Part literary, part noir, part horror, Scratch is gripping tale of perfection that will thin the line between man and beast and leave you wanting more.

Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy from the publisher Curbside Splendor via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

What to Read Right Now

Well, I’m going to Italy tomorrow.

No, I’m not going for the purpose of escaping the state of the US. I’m only going for three weeks, and it’s been planned for years. It just so happens I really don’t mind getting a break from the chaos that grows with every day.

If you’re in the majority and stuck here, I suggest trying my favorite method of escape lately: books, of course. Though I’ve been in an off-and-on reading slump since November 8th, I’ve found moments of solace in books that take me away or that help me learn better how to resist. I hope you find hope in these books as well!

Since the internet has done a wonderful job of these lists, here are places to start to find relevant books right now:

Review: The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees

The Curated Closet: A Simple System for Discovering Your Personal Style and Building Your Dream Wardrobe by Anuschka Rees (Ten Speed Press, 272 pages)

Synopsis from Goodreads: Many women don’t know what their personal style is, don’t have a wardrobe that actually matches their style or life, and don’t know how to shop for a structured wardrobe of all pieces that can be worn easily and confidently. Style and minimalism blogger Anuschka Rees presents a fascinatingly strategic, prescriptive approach to identifying, refining, and expressing personal style and building the ideal wardrobe to match it, with style and shopping strategies that women can use every day. Including beautiful full-color fashion photography, infographics, and activities, The Curated Closet is a useful guide covering everything women need to know to fully realize their individual style and create their perfect functional and beautiful wardrobe.

Recommended for: fashion enthusiasts or bloggers, anyone interested in changing up their closet, shoppers, big spenders, people who are suckers for sales, minimalists.

The Curated Closet was an easy, down to earth read giving practical advice for the person who wants to find their personal style or live with fewer, but more high quality and tailored-to-you pieces of clothing in their closet.

It reads like a fashion blog carefully tailored (haha, sorry, couldn’t help myself) into a book that progresses from figuring out what you want in a wardrobe to teaching you how to select high quality clothing. Some other subjects she covers is information about capsule wardrobes, minimalist living, how to clean out your closet, how to stop impulse sale buying, how to shop mindfully, and much more. I’ll admit I learned a lot and as a baby minimalist, I’ve been trying to figure out how to live by many of the principles in this book such as only buying pieces that fit right, that I love, and that go with everything else in my wardrobe.

The cons were that I don’t have time for all the fun exercises she includes towards the beginning of the book, like taking a picture of your outfit every day for two weeks and then creating an inspiration board to figure out what you want and how to change your closet to reflect that. As other reviewers have stated, teenage me would have been all over that but adult me has to just get by on some of the more practical and less time-consuming advice in the book. Luckily there’s a lot of that! It’s a little long, but there were only small stuff here and there that I wasn’t interested in.

Unfortunately the Kindle edition was very annoying to read: it had formatting problems up the wazoo and the pictures here and there didn’t help. However, I did use my bookmark feature a lot as there’s a lot I want to revisit when I have the time or recall something I learned in this book. Another con is that the book is very female-centric (as stated in the synopsis, but still!). I would have liked to see more inclusivity towards men’s wardrobes and clothes, but I guess I can see why all her examples were from either her closet or the “typical” woman shopper since that’s the primary audience of the book (and it was long enough as is!). Some people will feel left out, though, or if you don’t struggle with sales and impulse buying, take the advice with a grain of salt. In all, pretending I read the book in print and not on the Kindle, 5 stars.

Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Twin Cities weekly literary round up

Fellow Twin Cities book lovers!

There’s so many new things to write about now that my motivation is coming back (seriously, I was wondering if I could even consider myself a blogger anymore), so I think I’m going to try to compile the latest and greatest for you to peruse. Here’s just a few recently awesome local literary news on my radar:

loft_facebook1. Get reading recommendations and a writing prompt from Kao Kalia Yang: 

Even if you don’t live in the Twin Cities, this still applies to you! If you support the Loft Literary Center by becoming a member—with a contribution of any amountby November 9you will receive an exclusive writing prompt and reading recommendations from our very own local author Kao Kalia Yang! Contribute here at loft.org/support.

kao-kalia-yang(If you don’t know who she is, get on that! Kao Kalia Yang is the author of The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir (Coffee House Press, 2008) and more recently The Song Poet (Metropolitan Books, 2016) and a speaker and teacher.)

I can’t get over how incredible this opportunity is! the-latehomecomerReally a win-win for everyone! For more information, visit the Loft’s website or their Facebook page with this announcement for more information.

 

mn-state-arts-grants

 

2. The winners of the Minnesota State Arts Board Grants were announced yesterday!
No one is better at reporting local literary book news than Laurie Hertzel, so head on over to the Star Trib to learn about who won Minnesota State Arts Board Grants. Among the winners are 10 poets and 32 prose writers including familiar names such as Sun Yung Shin, Kao Kalia Yang, and Ed Bok Lee. Congratulations to everyone!

3. NaNoWriMo 2016 (National Novel Writing Month) has begun!
I’m sure most writers are going to busy typing furiously at their keyboards this month. I am honestly jealous of all of you! I participated in years past and “won” a few times, but those novels were always trash and I never ever wanted to see them again. This year I get to watch my husband participate while I sit back nanoand partake in NaNoREADMo, so I’m fairly pleased. There’s even a website over on Tumblr so like, it’s pretty official guys. Haven’t made any goals yet, but I’ll get back to you if I do. And heck, I may decide to just try writing personal essays or something this month anyway.
Happy writing!

Review: You Can’t Touch My Hair by Pheobe Robinson

you-cantReview: You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson (Plume Books, 320 pages)

Goodreads synopsis: A hilarious and affecting essay collection about race, gender, and pop culture from celebrated stand-up comedian and WNYC podcaster Phoebe Robinson.

Phoebe Robinson is a stand-up comic, which means that, often, her everyday experiences become points of comedic fodder. And as a black woman in America, she maintains, sometimes you need to have a sense of humor to deal with the absurdity you are handed on the daily. Robinson has experienced her fair share over the years: she’s been unceremoniously relegated to the role of “the black friend,” as if she is somehow the authority on all things racial; she’s been questioned about her love of U2 and Billy Joel (“isn t that . . . white people music?”); she’s been called “uppity” for having an opinion in the workplace; she’s been followed around stores by security guards; and yes, people do ask her whether they can touch her hair all. the. time. Now, she’s ready to take these topics to the page and she s going to make you laugh as she s doing it. . . As personal as it is political, You Can’t Touch My Hair examines our cultural climate and skewers our biases with humor and heart, announcing Robinson as a writer on the rise.”

Recommended for: Readers of humor memoirs such as Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, anyone looking for diverse authors/women authors, those who seriously need to stop asking to touch a black woman’s hair, etc. Basically everyone should read this.

Phoebe Robinson is the creator and cohost of podcast 2 Dope Queens and is a gem of a comedian. Her hilarious, down-to-earth voice on the intersection of sexism and racism in comedy (and everywhere) is refreshing and, albeit sadly, so needed. This exposition of pop culture, gender, race told in very charming, conversational essay form is highly entertaining and thought-provoking. In an age where we have more women comedians in the industry than ever, you won’t want to miss Phoebe’s experienced perspective of being a black woman in comedy today.

This book starts out personal and ends personal. You’ll get to know Phoebe better than you would ever have possibly wanted to, but she has the gift of pulling you in and making you feel at home. There is a ton of goofy stuff in here that I think only Phoebe could get away with sharing. As some have said, perhaps her pop culture references are a little too current and will be hard to understand twenty years from now, but they are hilarious AF. They made me laugh out loud and I learned a thing or two I could stand to know, like how awesome Lisa Bonet is even though I never watched The Cosby Show growing up. And yes, you’ll learn all about a black woman’s hair.

Which is so important. Her perspective on race is invaluable, but she literally delivers sucker punch after sucker punch and isn’t afraid to call [specific and general] white people out for their micro-aggressions and general lack of understanding. Some other topics include the ABW (Angry Black Woman) myth, being the black friend, and Hollywood type casting. There’s something for everyone to learn here, even if it’s just to understand that each person’s experience is going to be different. And, if you mess up, the best thing to do is apologize and admit that you were stupid (unlike a few people she talks about in the book who messed up and then put their defenses up). Racism still exists even in the most subtle of ways and Phoebe isn’t afraid to get really upfront and blunt about what has happened to her.

In conclusion, if you haven’t ever heard of Phoebe Robinson (or her 2 Dope Queens cohost Jessica Williams!) you should get on that! I would recommend this wise, relevant, joy of a book for anyone to read.

Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

P.S! I saw Phoebe speak at the Twin Cities Book Festival, and everything is true. She is AMAZING and as awesome in person as in the book–even better! I’ll be posting about that soon (:

 

get these October events on your calendar!

hello-october

Here’s a rundown of things to get on your radar for October.We’re in FULL SWING busy season, so yes, you’re going to have to choose when there’s two events on the same night!

Again, I know I’m not super consistent with posting the same events every time (if they’re monthly or recurring) but just shoot me a line to include what I missed! I’ve tried to be more inclusive by focusing on each bookstore and linking to all their upcoming events after featuring just one on here.

As always, in the “Events” tab above you’ll find the Rain Taxi official literary calendar and other resources to help with finding book readings  and lit events in the Twin Cities area.

  • Rain Taxi’s Twin Cities Book Festival is on Saturday, October 15th!  You don’t want to miss one of the most important TC literary events of the year! 
    • Normally I write this post in chronological order, but this event is just TOO COOL to pass up. It’s 1) at the MN State Fairgrounds and 2) it’s ABSOLUTELY FREE. I hope to see you there!!
    • And there’s an Opening Night Party!

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming 😉

  • Friday, October 7th: Dave Eggers will be chatting with guests and signing books at new Milkweed Books! Don’t miss checking out the new bookstore, if you haven’t already!
    • There’s also an event also on Tuesday, October 4th:Poets in Conversation with Milkweed Editions featuring Michael Bazzett, Patricia Kirkpatrick, Chris Santiago, and Jennifer Willoughby and that will be a conversation about the formation of poets and the supporting ecosystem here in Minnesota, with Milkweed Editions’ publisher, Daniel Slager.
    • Though they’re a powerhouse press, they’re still a baby bookstore, so a lot of events are hosted or run by Milkweed Editions! For a list of all events at Milkweed Books/Editions, check out their Facebook events here, or visit their website!
  • Thursday, October 6th: Poetry Happy Hour hosted by MN Book Awards and Friends of the St. Paul Library featuring Todd Boss, Heid Erdrich, Dobby Gibson, Ed Bok Lee, and Katrina Vandenberg.
  • Also Wednesday, October 12th: Nathan Hill reads from The Nix at Magers & Quinn Booksellers!
    • Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost presents The Secret History of Twin Peaks on Saturday, October 22!
    • There’s more great ones this month including authors Charlie Quimby, Karen Brennan presenting her new book Monsters (get in the Halloween spirit!), James P. Lenfestey, and many others! For a list of all events at Magers & Quinn Booksellers, check out their Facebook events here, or visit their website!
  • Monday, October 17th: Gary Dop and Amy Munson at Common Good Books! In undergrad, Amy Munson was my poetry professor and Gary Dob was my sister’s (though she turned out to be a better poet than me, I don’t think that has anything to do with our professors), so I’m a little biased but I think you should check them out. Amy Munson’s debut poetry volume Yes Thorn is now out from Tupelo Press!

And because this is literally only the first half of the month, but I’m already all our room, see below for other bookstores and their events pages, featuring authors such as Ben Percy, Caroline Burau, Cheri Register, Nick Flynn, and many others!

If you can, I encourage you to check one or two of these great events out and perhaps discover some new awesome reads along the way! Let me know in the comments if there are any others you’re excited about this month!