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Review: Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

Goodreads Summary: 
Five women. One question. What is a woman for?
In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom.
Ro, a single high-school teacher, is trying to have a baby on her own, while also writing a biography of Eivør, a little-known 19th-century female polar explorer. Susan is a frustrated mother of two, trapped in a crumbling marriage. Mattie is the adopted daughter of doting parents and one of Ro's best students, who finds herself pregnant with nowhere to turn. And Gin is the gifted, forest-dwelling homeopath, or "mender," who brings all their fates together when she's arrested and put on trial in a frenzied modern-day witch hunt.

My Review:
Ever since I read The Handmaid's Tale years ago I've been drawn to dystopian feminist novels. The recent political climate and the Hulu series of The Handmaid's Tale has lead to more novels in the genre. When I first saw Red Clocks was releasing I reached out to the publisher to get an advanced reading copy. Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed--I was depressed. The storyline wasn't dystopian, it was too realistic. I appreciated the attempt but this was a story of what's already happening.  

Review: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

Release Date: January 9, 2018 from Soho Press

Goodreads Summary: 

Bombay, 1921: Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father's law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Armed with a legal education from Oxford, Perveen also has a tragic personal history that makes her especially devoted to championing and protecting women's rights.

Mistry Law is handling the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen goes through the papers, she notices something strange: all three have signed over their inheritance to a charity. What will they live on if they forefeit what their husband left them? Perveen is suspicious.

The Farid widows live in purdah: strict seclusion, never leaving the women's quarters or speaking to any men. Are they being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous guardian? Perveen tries to investigate and realizes her instincts about the will were correct when tensions escalate to murder. It's her responsibility to figure out what really happened on Malabar Hill, and to ensure that nobody is in further danger.

My Review:
Let me start with a little backstory. In my intense planning for Book Expo (ahem...awesome blog post here), I found The Widows of Malabar Hill during my research and then reached out to the author with an email. After finding out when and where she was signing, I was first in line and when she signed my copy she was so sweet and lovely. I brought many, many books home from Book Expo (check it out here) but some didn't make the cut and some didn't make it in the reading schedule for months. The Widows of Malabar Hill fell into the later category. When I finally read it, I kissed my copy when I finished. (Yes, sometimes I kiss or hug my books when I finish them...if they're lucky) While all my book buddies have been falling in love with crime stories and mysteries over the last few years, I was like *meh*. I didn't know it, but it was Perveen Mistry who I'd been waiting for! And her parents! And her BFF Alice! I am recommending this book to all of those mystery lover bookish friends (I really couldn't figure out who the murderer was until the very end!) and to my American reader friends who are looking for a diverse read (set in Bombay/Calcutta, Indian female lawyer, and blending of multiple religions).  I loved learning about another country's laws and customs (traditional and modern) and learning more about a fascinating culture which is often exoticized. The Widows of Malabar Hill is my first "must-read" for 2018! Do yourself a favor and grab this up immediately! Then send me a line to tell me how much you loved it, too! I am over here just tap dancing and twiddling my thumbs....anxiously anticipating the next installment in the Perveen Mistry mystery series! 

4 Mini Reviews: The End We Start From; The Doll's Alphabet; The Floating World; and Heather, The Totality

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter released May 18, 2017 from Picador 
I hunted this book down at Book Expo this summer and may have squealed when I finally figured out where the publisher's booth was and the wonderful representative pulled a copy from a bottom drawer like a rabbit out of a hat. Imagine giving birth to your first child while everything you know is wiped out--navigating motherhood while you navigate an entirely new landscape. This slim novel poetically glides through the life of a small family following a massive flood. Categorically a dystopian novel, but an achingly beautiful read.

The Doll's Alphabet by Camilla Grudova released October 10, 2017 from Coffee House Press
I reached out to the publisher to obtain a copy of this release and read it shortly after I received it, but have been delayed in reviewing it. This collection of short stories gave me nightmares when I first read it. Not gory, bloody stuff or the "someone's chasing you" types, but dark, unsettling visions. I had to stop reading this book before bed but I absolutely didn't stop reading it. A combination of Kafka, Atwood, and Tim Burton; the stories in The Doll's Alphabet are woven to present a singular edgy collection that lies just on the "weird" side of horror. *Disclaimer: I received this copy in exchange for an honest review*

The Floating World by C. Morgan Babst released October 17, 2017 from Algonquin 
Travel to the heart and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with one of New Orleans oldest families, the Boisdorés. One daughter refuses to leave the city and her parents evacuate without her, setting off a cataclysmic chain of events. Another daughter returns to a post-Katrina New Orleans from New York City to find devastation everywhere: her parents' marriage crumbling, her sister's sanity slipping, and the citizens of the city displaced and scattered. I couldn't believe this was a debut novel. The slow personal burn of this fictional family gave me another look at an event I was previously only able to process from graphic news footage. *Disclaimer: I received this copy in exchange for an honest review* 

Heather, The Totality by Matthew Weiner released November 1, 2017 from Little, Brown, and Company
I tried hunting this down at Book Expo but had no luck. I later received a copy from a Bookstagram buddy (@lovethybook) during a book swap. I wanted to read it because I was interested to see what sort of short story Weiner would write. It was uncomfortable and creepy. Imagine a SVU episode titled "Testosterone, Misogyny, and the Male Gaze". If that sounds like something you'd like--read this. Otherwise, take a pass.