New Year, New Reads: 2015 Recap and 2016 Goals

Happy New Year readers! I can’t believe it’s 2016! This year is set to be a big year for me. I’m graduating college, starting a masters program (if I get in, *knocks on wood*) and moving to a different country. While it’s certainly going to be a year of changes, it should be a good one. I have a couple of reading goals I want to accomplish in 2016, but first here’s how my 2015 went.

Books Read: 33/53

Wow you guys, I really dropped the ball this year. I had two really difficult semesters of college and a very busy summer, so my reading suffered. I even quit my reading challenge without even making a dent. Complete failure on my part.

Most Common Rating: 4 stars

This is the same as last year. In second place were 5 star books, then 3 star, 2 star and 1 star. My average rating was 3.6 stars. So at least I’m reading better books, right?

Total Pages Read: 9868

Yikes, I didn’t even break double figures with this one, unless you count the half finished books I had to read for class and didn’t technically finish.  This year wasn’t even a big Kindle year for me, so that’s really disappointing.

Longest Book Read: Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman

I don’t even think I posted a review of this book on the blog (honestly y’all, this has been a rough year.) But I sped through this one over spring break and absolutely loved it. It even inspired my undergraduate research in history on medieval Wales. Apparently there are others in the series and if once I have free time again I definitely plan to continue the series.

Favorite Book Read: The Journey Through Wales and The Description of Wales by Gerald of Wales

I think my nerd status just went up a couple of notches because I began this book as part of a research paper I wrote. Now I’m completely obsessed with Wales and Gerald (I went so far as to tell my entire class he was my boyfriend… not my finest moment.) This book is more than just a primary source on medieval Wales, it’s an amazing look at a transformative time in history. And if you have a sense of humor, some of it can be pretty hilarious too. Other contenders for this award were Here Be Dragons, and What You See in the Dark. 

Least Favorite Book Read: This Laird of Mine by Gerri Russell

This is the sole 1 star book I read this year, and honestly this was so bad I think I blocked it from my memory. I vaguely remember writing down a list of criticisms I was going to try to turn into a review, but I guess I didn’t think it was worth the effort. As far as I can remember I got this for free on my Kindle and I read it when I was bored. If my experience is any indication, it’s not worth the time.

So there’ my 2015 in a nutshell readers. It definitely wasn’t my best book-wise. As for 2016? I have no idea what the future holds, but I do know that for my sanity’s sake, I need to read more. My current goal for the year is 30 books, which I hope is doable, even with my packed schedule and soon-to-be brand new lifestyle. Another goal I have is to return to this blog and make post more often, so I hope you’ll stick with me.

Happy 2016 readers! It’s going to be one heck of a year.

What You See in the Dark by Manuel Muñoz

Life has a funny way of making you eat your words. Right after I had drafted a blog post about reading not being fun for me anymore (still forthcoming, I promise!) I read this for my American Literature class. And can I just say, I ate my words and I didn’t even mind.

This novel is set in Bakersfield, California, based during the filming and subsequent success of the movie Psycho (which I saw for the first time in conjunction with this book.) Not only do we follow famous figures such as Janet Leigh and Alfred Hitchcock, though they aren’t mentioned by name, but we also learn about the small town scandals of Bakersfield through various lenses. Muñoz has a flair for making his characters accessible and really getting into their heads in a way that isn’t stream of consciousness nonsense. I felt strongly immediately about all the characters and I was immediately invested in their lives and problems. I appreciated even the characters I didn’t like, just because they were so well written and believable. The only shortcoming was the ending. I expected that the final chapter would answer all my questions, as endings are apt to do, but all I got was a rather vague explanation relayed by an unreliable narrator.

As for the connection to Psycho, I would recommend watching the movie before you read the book, if you haven’t seen it before. I had never seen it (shocking I know, considering my love of vintage movies) and as I was reading the parts that pertained to Psycho my curiosity got the better of my and I did some major Googling. I would also suggest watching it after you finish the book. The way Muñoz intersects story lines and overlaps themes is really brilliant. Luckily the movie is even more brilliant than the book and I thoroughly enjoyed both.

If someone had told me that this would be the book that reignited my passion for reading outside of academia I would not have believed them. But it really is a great book and brilliantly written. I have to take some points away because the ending is super frustrating, but overall, I highly recommend it.

4.5/ stars

Do The Book Girl a Favor?

Hey all! You might have noticed that I haven’t been super active with my blog lately, and for that there is a simple explanation. School is kicking my butt and I don’t even have time to sleep, much less put together a coherent blog post. But worry not friends, I have some ideas percolating and new posts will be coming soon! (Well, that actually depends on your definition of soon. The more accurate word is probably soon-ish.) In the mean time I have a request. My friend Melissa is doing an honors project in her final year of college and she needs YOUR HELP.

Are you a Lord of the Rings fan? Do you like The Hobbit? Then click this link and take a brief survey to help her complete her honors project. I would really appreciate it, and it would help her out a lot. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and I can get some answers to you!

Stay tuned for more posts (you know, soon-ish.)

xoxo

The Book Girl

Why Boybands Are A Feminist Issue

People seem to always laugh at me when I tell them that boybands, like my baes One Direction (who I will be using as an example throughout this post) are a feminist issue. You really shouldn’t be laughing at me though, because it’s true. One Direction has broken records all over the place for album sales and online streaming. They have fans all over the world. Their latest single (buy Drag Me Down on iTunes!) hit number one in eighty countries. EIGHTY. Yet, most dismiss them as crappy, stupid, whatever ridiculous other adjective they can think of. Why?

People (dumb people) like to use the excuse that One Direction don’t deserve any accolades because they’re only popular because they’re cute.

Excuse me?

I am a 20 (almost 21, holla) year old college student. Do you really think I would be spending my money and lots of money mind you, on a band because they’re cute? Do you think I buy their albums because they’re attractive? Hell no! I’ve spent hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars on One Direction over the past few years because I like their music. If I supported artists based solely on their looks I would listen to a lot more country music (hello, have you seen Luke Bryan?) What do you think I’m going to do? Sit and listen to albums I don’t like play and think about how attractive the artists are? NO. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. I have bills to pay, I have textbooks to buy, I have Cookout quesadillas to buy at 2 am as I’m having an emotional crisis. If I didn’t want to actually listen to One Direction, I wouldn’t buy their music.

Not to mention the concert tickets. I just drove eight hours to see 1D on what might be their final tour (I don’t want to talk about it, I’m emotional.) I spent over one hundred dollars on tickets, fifty on a t-shirt, and another hundred on a hotel and gas. Do you really think I did all that just to see them because they’re cute? If I wanted to look at them I would use Google. It’s free. No, I wanted to see my favorite band perform my favorite songs with thousands of other fans because they’re talented and I enjoy it.

When people (idiots mostly) use that stupid excuse for not giving One Direction any credit, it’s so incredibly disrespectful to their fans. Dismissing a band because they’re “cute” paints their fans as vapid, empty beings, who don’t actually have brains enough to enjoy music. Because obviously teenage girls are only interested in looks, and not substance. They’re hormonal, self-obsessed, boy-obsessed creatures.

It’s rude, it’s gross, it’s sexist.

Like, I get if you don’t like One Direction’s music. It’s not for everyone. If you’ve actually listened to One Direction and you’re not a fan, then okay. I get it, I respect your opinion, you’re not the problem. But when I when the conversation looks like this, is when I have a problem.

Them: “I hate One Direction.”

Me: “Have you listened to any of their music?”

Them: “No.”

Bruh. How do you know? How do you know you don’t like them? Because their fans are female? Because they’re attractive young men who sing about being in love? Because your girlfriend is into them and that bothers you because they’re more attractive? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then congratulations, you’re part of the problem and probably a sexist. Their songs are marketed more toward a female audience, and yes, I’ll even admit it’s cutesy pop music. Slightly generic and maybe not the deepest ideas you’ll ever hear, it’s true. But it’s pop music.

Pop. POP-ular music.

It’s music a lot of people enjoy, and a lot of those people are teenage girls. Young women have a lot of power in today’s pop culture, not that they’re given any credit for it. We are a massive part of the population and so much of what is popular is guided by what we like But we’re female and therefore insignificant and frivolous. Not only are the things we find important disregarded, but our presence and power is completely ignored. Yes, boybands are marketed towards females, but what’s wrong with that? Get on our good side and you’ve got it made.

I’m not going to lie, one of the reasons I love One Direction is that they make me feel good when I listen to their music. Their first hit was literally them repeatedly telling a girl that she’s beautiful and she just doesn’t know it. When you don’t hear that a lot and it’s coming from five really attractive British guys (now four, RIP Zayn) it’s really uplifting. Having a low self esteem day and struggling with self love? Listen to Little Things. A bunch of boys telling you that you’re amazing even with all your self perceived flaw. That’s EXACTLY what I need to hear. Listen to Girl Almighty, and it’s those same hella cute boys saying “I’d get down on my knees for you.”

Hot. Damn.

I am the Girl Almighty. They’re in love with all of my little things. I’ve got that one thing. I could go on and on. In this world we live in where we so harshly judge young girls for every single thing they do, they need to hear someone telling them these things. The media and negative influences attack a girl’s self esteem before she even has any. Girls start dieting at age twelve. We try to find self love in the arms of men because that’s where we’re taught our value is. Nothing a girl does is good enough anymore. If she dresses in trendy clothes, she’s basic. If she dresses like a hipster, she’s trying too hard. If she expresses herself and dresses uniquely, she’s weird. The worst thing is that other women are often the harshest critics (ahem, internalized misogyny.)

One Direction and other boybands not getting any recognition for their accomplishments is a result of the constant judgement and negativity aimed at young females. I’m not saying 1D deserves Grammys or being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (yet) but I am saying it would be nice for them to get some recognition in the music industry and the media for their record breaking contributions. Believe it or not, if they get that, it’s one small step for One Direction, one giant leap for feminism.

Archiving At Home: Basic Tips to Preserve Your Family History

As I began my preservation project at home I thought of a few basic things I have been telling others that will help them preserve their own historic documents. Even if you don’t plan to make a career out of preservation there is still plenty you can do to keep your personal documents safe for future generations. Some of these might seem like common sense, and some might seem like total overreactions, but I guarantee that taking even these few simple steps will keep your memories alive for years to come.

  1. Don’t use paperclips to keep your documents together. Paperclips rust and damage documents. If you can, get archival paperclips that won’t harm your papers. Always take out stick pins and try to avoid staples if you can. This way you can keep your corners intact and they won’t damage other documents.
  2. Keep newspapers separate from other papers. Newspaper is highly acidic so don’t let it touch other documents. I’m using archival tissue paper to protect my scrapbooks, but even a simple sheet of acid free paper will do. This will prevent discoloration and damage to the papers your newspaper clippings touch.
  3. Control the environment. Temperatures too hot or too cold can damage documents and water can ruin your family memories. Keep your treasures in sturdy boxes or plastic tubs and in a cool, dark, environment to keep them safe. Don’t keep your boxes in basements or attic unless you know that they’ll be safe from the elements.
  4. Duplicates? Only keep two. If you have six invitations from your grandparent’s wedding, chances are, you don’t need that many and they’re just taking up space. The standard number of copies to keep is two, three for photos. Ask around to see if anyone else wants them before throwing them out, but your collection only needs two.
  5. Make copies and take photographs of fragile documents. Paper is temporary. If you have a document that’s in really bad shape, go ahead and make a scan and take photos. Even if the original doesn’t make it, you’ll still have a record of what it looked like.
  6. Don’t over stuff your folders. See those little lines at the bottom of your folders? Those are where you’re supposed to fold the bottoms to  fit your documents more easily. A lot of people don’t even know those are there and they can make your life a whole lot easier. Adjust the folder size ensures your papers don’t get crushed and helps ensure the longevity of your folders.

So that’s that! Six steps to help you keep your family history alive. I hope this post has been at least a little helpful to all of my fellow amateur archivists out there. Have any more tips to share? Comment below! And keep an eye out for my update on my family preservation project, coming soon!

Preservation Project: Family Scrapbooks

As the resident history major and family archivist, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of being able to go through old documents, letters, and photographs from my family’s past. My grandmother has been passing boxes and boxes of family history onto me so I can archive them, preserve them, and create finding aids for the entire family to use. So far I’ve made a significant dent in the numerous family documents I’ve received, and I’m beginning the long process of reading, sorting, and arranging correspondence. More on these projects later, as something else has distracted me: scrapbooks.

In my possession I have two scrapbooks, my grandmother’s high school and junior college scrapbook (circa 1944-45) and my grandfather’s college scrapbook (circa 1947-48.) Both are in pretty bad shape, but they have some really amazing artifacts in them. In my grandmother’s scrapbook there are newspaper clippings announcing the end of World War II. In my grandfather’s there are some really cool articles and artifacts from UNC-Chapel Hill in the 1940’s. (If you remember, I did a post about my grandfather and his effect on my attachment to my university.) I’m so excited to go through all the amazing memories in these books.

My problem is, both of them are falling apart. Unfortunately neither of them were very well preserved, so it’s my responsibility to restore them to their former glory. Having done some research on preservation guidelines I’ve found… not very much. It seems the internet is just as stumped as I am. Even the Library of Congress’ instructions were along the lines of “don’t let it fall apart and store it in a cool, dry place.” Not super helpful. I’ve decided in turn, to venture out on my own and figure the mechanics of the preservation myself. I’m not an experienced archivist, but I figure with two unpaid internships under my belt, I have at least some authority on the subject.

I’ll be documenting my experiences right here on the blog, so other young archivists can learn from my mistakes (and triumphs hopefully.) I’d also appreciate any guidance any of my readers can offer! Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more updates!

Book Store Haul: 7/11/15

Everybody has a bad habit. For some it might be biting their nails, for others it might be cocaine. I like to believe my bad habit falls in between the two of those. My bad habit is buying too many books at the used book store. I went in looking for books for my friend’s birthday, and came out with a bunch of books I have absolutely no more room for on my shelves.

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I grabbed three additions to my small collection of paperback series, all of which I’m at different stages in reading. Gunpowder Green by Laura Childs, which I’ve already read, is the second in the Tea Shop Mystery series, which I appreciate just as much for the recipes included in the backs of the books as I do for the actual plots. Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich should seem familiar to readers of this blog, as I’ve reviewed several of Evanovich’s books here before. I’ve only gotten through the fourteenth book in the series, but I own the first nineteen. I also got Peril in Paperback by Kate Carlisle, the sixth in the Bibliophile Mystery series. I’ve only read the first in the series, but I definitely plan to read the rest of them (them, and about 3500 books on my list.)

On the play front, I bought Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard. I’ve wanted to read this play since I re-read Hamlet my senior year in high school and it was recommended to me by my teacher. Since a play is on my list for my reading challenge this year, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity.

I also bought a new journal! I finished my first ever journal early this year and I’m already almost halfway through my back up! My back up for my back up has been commandeered for my senior honors thesis, so I needed a new one. It took the better part of an afternoon, but I finally found a new back up. I’m very particular about my journals. The binding, pages and cover all have to be to my liking, and since most journals these days say something stupid like “not all who wander are lost” and “follow your dreams” it was a major struggle to find one that wouldn’t embarrass me in public. My new journal has an amazing Jane Austen quote on the cover: “Her own thoughts and reflections were habitually her best companions.” I was about to give up hope on finding a journal until this one jumped out at me. It’s perfect!

And now the crown jewel of my collection. Drum roll please… The Globe Illustrated Shakespeare: The Complete Works, Annotated! Why yes, I do already have Shakespeare’s complete works in an anthology. But this one is so PRETTY. It has PICTURES. And this edition is so incredibly stunning. And you know what else? It was only NINE DOLLARS. God bless used book stores! (Below are the authentic snapchats detailing the dramatic saga that lead up to me buying the book.)

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PS: A very happy birthday to my mom today. I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful mother who not only encourages me as a fellow English major to follow my passions, but also feeds my habits and buys me books!

5 Things to Expect When You Take a History Major to a Museum

This Independence Day weekend I had the pleasure of heading up to our nation’s capital for the festivities. Naturally, I dragged my very patient friends to some of the Smithsonian Museums. I wandered through both the Museum of Natural History and the National Gallery. It was my third or fourth time at the Museum of Natural History and my first time at the National Gallery. My lovely friends allowed me to geek out for a couple of hours, which inspired me to write this piece of advice so y’all would know to abandon all hope, ye who enter here what to expect if you ever take a history major like me to a museum.

1. They will get really excited.

I may or may not have completely embarrassed myself by loudly chanting “Art, art, art, art!” at the National Gallery upon entering and sprinting up the stairs. Can you blame me? There was gallery upon gallery of amazing art from some of my favorite historical periods and I needed to see as much as possible. I do commend myself for not actually pushing anyone out of the way or knocking anyone down by accident though.

2. They will lecture you about information you don’t care about or already know.

I get so excited when I know something about an exhibit or a piece of art that I always end up talking way too much about my limited knowledge of whatever I’m looking at. In the first photo at the bottom of the page, I’m getting very excited about Roman art and telling my very patient friends all about ancient sculpture. Obviously taking one class about archaeology and art makes me an expert.

3. “But first, let me take a selfie.”

I can’t even lie, almost every time I go to a museum I end up taking a selfie with a historical figure I admire or have studied. It may seem silly, but if you think about it, it actually makes perfect sense. You see, as a history major, 90% of the people I’m studying are dead, and therefore there’s very little chance I’ll ever meet them. (I’m not ruling out a Ouija board experience, and I’m not giving up hope that when I die I’ll be greeted at the pearly gates by the likes of Shakespeare, William Churchill, and Amelia Earhart.) So really, selfies with busts, paintings and statues are the closest us history majors will ever get to chilling with our favorite dead friends. Same goes for various wild animals and dinosaurs.

4. They’ll get up close and personal.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been admonished by a museum security guard because I got too close to the exhibits. Granted most of those times were in Germany, where I felt like I was doing something illegal by even being in the museum. I can’t help it, I want to examine every brushstroke of every painting, and every carving on every ancient artifact. Common phrases you could hear are: “Look at the detail on this! Isn’t that crazy?” and “What do you think THAT means?”

5. They won’t want to leave.

History majors can spend all day in a single museum, even longer if it’s something they really love. They want to see everything. Twice. Sometimes, if you’ve made the mistake of allowing  them to bring paper and a pen with them, they’ll want to sit and write things down. It’s cute for the first few hours, then it’ll start getting annoying. Ask them to leave and they’ll say, “Just a few more minutes! I just want to see one more thing!” After another hour has passed you’re more likely to hear: “Go ahead and go on without me, there are a couple more places I want to go.” Then maybe, eventually, you’ll drag your history major friend, kicking and screaming out of the museum.

Luckily, I spent my time at the Washington DC museums with a group of awesome ladies who put up with all five of these and then some. I had an amazing time, but as soon as I got home I started planning my next trip to DC to see the museums I missed this trip.

History major road trip anyone?

A Batch of Beach Books

Hi friends!

This week I took a much needed (and in my opinion, well deserved) trip to the beach where I experienced the holy trinity: sun (minimal, I’m a sensitive skinned redhead,) sand (too damn much) and sea (sadly not enough, those sharks ain’t playin’.) My reading game is always strongest at the beach. Unable to leave the shelter of my umbrella, I wile away the hours plugging away at a batch of choice library books. Here are this years beach reads!

My Just Desire: The Life of Bess Ralegh, Wife to Sir Walter– The night I arrived I set myself to finishing this biography given to me by a dear friend of mine (thanks Abigail!) Very well researched, I thought the author did a great job with the limited information available to her. This book, if nothing else, really drove home just how few primary sources there are to work with when researching women, especially before and during the Renaissance. I won’t say this book is the best written biography ever, but the author knows her stuff, and as a fan of Ralegh and his contemporaries, I enjoyed it. 4 stars.

My First Five Husbands… And the Ones Who Got Away– This is Rue McClanahan’s autobiography and as a fan of the Golden Girls I plucked this off my To Read list. I think celebrity memoirs are just as good beach reads as trashy romance novels. Just as juicy, easy reads (I have yet to read a celebrity autobiography that challenged my intelligence in any way) and you always come away with a couple of fun facts to impress your friends with. But I digress, McClanahan’s book is just as engaging and funny as she is on the Golden Girls. It’s also heartfelt at moments and my heart went out to her on more than one occasion. Mostly though, I just laughed out loud. Thanks for being a friend Rue. 5 stars.

Here’s The Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice– Yes, I’ll admit I like The Brady Bunch as well. 1972 Greg Brady was one of my first celebrity crushes, and naturally I was hoping for the down and dirty from behind the scenes in Maureen McCormick’s memoir. No dice. There were a few interesting stories here and there, but mostly it was about, and excuse my cliche, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” Yes, I get it, it’s her book, but her story was just kinda depressing. Her family situation, wasn’t and isn’t great, I heard all about her cocaine problems, and I wasn’t particularly enthralled by her conversion to Christianity. Her prose was passable at best. I think I’ll read another cast member’s book, because I was left disappointed by Marcia. 3 stars.

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: My Life- Sophia Loren’s memoir, which I thoroughly enjoyed, is more of a trip down memory lane than it is a juicy tell all, which I was fine with. Loren is not the type to betray her friends, family, and colleagues by airing dirty laundry. I loved her account of her growing up in Italy and journey through Italian cinema before eventually breaking into Hollywood. While I did find myself wishing for a few scandalous details, I was perfectly happy to hear her thoughts and musings on her fascinating life. 5 stars

Born in Fire– I know what you’re thinking. I can feel you judging me. And I’m just as ashamed of myself as you probably think I should be. Yes, I read a Nora Roberts book on my vacation. In my defense, I wasn’t ready to reenter the world of books that actually required you to think and the house I was renting had very limited options. And yes, it was terrible and I regret it, because I could have made a pretty significant dent in my next book instead of wasting my time on a drug store romance. Want to know what it was about? Read any other Nora Roberts book ever. 2 stars

The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court– I’m not done with this non-fiction book yet, but I’m about halfway through. So far, I’m enjoying it. It’s an interesting look behind our enigmatic judicial system (which recently made an awesome decision #LoveWins.) Not sure how biased it is in either direction, and it’s a little unorganized, but I’ll keep y’all updated with my opinion once I finish.

Those were all my reads on my vacay! Five days, six books, not too shabby if I do say so myself.

What are y’all’s favorite beach reads?

Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories by Lorraine Lopez

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Another volume of short stories I read for my Southern Women Writers class. The other volume can be found here.

The Flood: This story started out rough, but the ending was pretty satisfying. A young woman takes care of her cousin’s fairly annoying child and realizes she actually loves the kid. While I usually don’t appreciate this plot line, it really was quite well done. 3.5/5 stars

Sugar Boots: Again a parent figure is overwhelmed taking care of a couple of annoying kids. There was some pretty significant character development in this story, which I give Lopez props before because character development is hard to do in short stories. So that bumps an otherwise pretty boring story up a bit. 3/5 stars

The Threat of Peace: I think this is one of my favorite stories of the collection. A conflict mediator has to mediate conflict in his own life, dealing with his wife and her teenage daughters. It was actually pretty hilarious. 4/5 stars

Homicide Survivors Picnic: Again, as in Going Away Shoes, the title story doesn’t live up to it’s hype. A brother and sister deal with their problems in different ways and the ending is supposed to be suspenseful. I think Lopez could really have gone somewhere with this concept, but it just falls flat. 2/5 stars

The Imam of Auburn: Just a strange, strange story. I think it’s supposed to let us inside the head of someone with paranoid schizophrenia or a similar mental illness, but it really isn’t conveyed very well. Like the title story, a very interesting concept that just doesn’t go anywhere. 1.5/5 stars

Batterers: Mediocre story about a guy with a crush on a married woman. I give Lopez props for doing something that McCorkle doesn’t and actually writing a wide variety of characters, but I didn’t particularly like this one. The ending was unresolved and frankly without a solid ending the story isn’t all that worth it. 1.5/5 stars

Human Services: An interesting story about a woman who rents out the other half of her duplex to her ex-husband. I actually enjoyed this, the characters all interacted very well with each other. 3.5/5 stars

Women Speak: I’m 99% sure that this was supposed to be an inspiring story and it only half succeeds. A community college professor has a class full of women who each touch her in some different way. I feel like if the main character weren’t so flat and similar to several other Lopez characters, it would have been better. 2/5 stars

The Gifting: Nope, not a fan. Not at all believable and it just went on and on. Some strange story about a college student’s relationship with one of his professors (not a romantic relationship by the way.) 1/5 stars

The Landscape: A continuation and a semi-conclusion to The Flood to end the collection. I really appreciated that Lopez bookended the collection with a pretty good story. But there were too many metaphors for me to really enjoy this story as much as The Flood. 3/5 stars

Overall a more varied and interesting collection of stories than Going Away shoes. Not a bad read.

Average story score: 2.5 stars

Book rating: 3 stars