The Boxcar Children #1 by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Boxcar Children

Rating: ★★★★

Genre: Children’s literature

Synopsis: The four Alden siblings have just lost their parents, but want nothing to with their mean grandfather who surely doesn’t want them.  So they escape into the woods and stumble upon a boxcar, which happens to make a rather fine home.  They make do for themselves until one day, Violet Alden gets too sick for her siblings to take care of her properly.

Review: I feel like I read this a long while ago, so I was pretty pleased to find out that I was assigned this book for our new historicism unit in my crit theory class.  Despite the fact that I enjoyed this when I was younger (and also fantasized about what it would be like to live in a boxcar myself), it didn’t quite hold up.  But, of course, many years have passed, and what I might have thought was groundbreaking literature when I was eight no longer passes the test.

However, that isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy this little trip down memory lane.  These children are resourceful, stubborn, and above all else, smart as I’ll get out.  This book (or the boxset) would be a great gift for children in elementary school.


America #1: The Life and Times of America Chavez by Gabby Rivera


Rating: ★★★★1/2

Genre: Comics, superhero fiction

Synopsis: At a young age, America Chavez was thrust into the world, forced to depart from her mothers.  Now, she’s young, brave, and ready to face the world with her fists out.  As she comes to terms with new villains and new powers, she enrolls into a superhero college, and discovers that maybe she does have family out there in the universe.

Review: I requested that my library add this book to their collection, and they succeeded in doing so in not only a gracious, but also timely manner.  And I’m so glad it arrived when it did, because I had a day off and sped through it.  The first of this serial comprises 5 (I think?) of the individual comics, which also include Kate Bishop (my HEART)!

I loved the art styles, and I’m loving the plot.  My only critique is that some of the dialogue didn’t seem too realistic, but hey, as I’m sure y’all can tell from my icon, I’m white and I try not to use a lot of POC slang on account of cultural appropriation, so it’s entirely possible that latinx communities speak with a lot more slang than I do.  That’s totally a statement up for grabs.

But overall, I absolutely loved it.  I’ve loved America Chavez ever since I read the first Young Avengers, and she is so, so, deserving of this series.

Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block

Love in the Time of Global Warming

Rating: ★★★1/2

Genre: Fiction, apocalypse literature, lgbt lit, retelling

Synopsis: The world turns upside down, and Pen’s world is turned into that of the Odyssey.  With giants rampaging in marketplaces, and angry men with vans on the streets, Pen has nowhere to go.  That is, until she’s thrust out of her house on a quest to find her family.

Review: This book has a really, really great idea.  It’s a retelling of The Odyssey, it features a lesbian as the protagonist, and the protagonist is super well-educated in ways that helps her journey.  It has a lot of promise.  But I can’t truly say whether it succeeded or not.  It kept my attention, but there was only one point in time where I felt compelled to read more, to race through the book to figure out what happened.

There were so many good characters, so many good backstories and plotlines, and yet it felt very surface level.  And I was very saddened by that.  I still think it’s a great read in terms of LGBT representation, but I just wish there was a little bit more to this book.  But, alas.

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

The Price of SAlt

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Fiction, lesbian lit

Synopsis: Therese meets Carol at her temp job, and is immediately enraptured, despite Carol’s divorce, and despite Therese’s own 10-month long relationship with Phil.  As the two slowly become intertwined in what feels like destiny to the young Therese, the men in their lives are taken aback, unsure of what to do about what looks like a rather adulterous relationship.  The two women set out on a road trip, and later realize something that might just make their world come crashing down.

Review: I watched Carol before reading this (as I’m sure many others have) with my roommate, and I think it awakened something in me.  Watching two women fall in love with each other in such a lovely, beautiful, enrapturing way set something off.  So when a few years later I decided to make a WLW pathfinder encompassing women from various time periods, I knew I had to put this one on there.  But not without reading it, first.

And what a joy it was.  It’s certainly reflective of its time, what with the tone of voice, the perspective, the glorious view of New York City.  Not to mention, of course, the blatant homophobia and domestic issues women faced at the time.  (And, after reading it, it became very apparent to me that the movie did a WONDERFUL job at adapting it).

In respect to some of the previously mentioned things, though, it is just a wondrous read.  It’s so simple and yet so intense, and it made me wish for a world and a love like Carol’s and Therese’s.  For something just like it.

This is definitely worth the read.

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

The Feminine Mystique

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction

Synopsis: Betty Friedan analyzes what it means to be a housewife in the 60s, with only a husband, a house, and her own children to define her personality.  How has Freud impacted the psyche of the common housewife?  Margaret Mead?  And what causes women to feel so helpless that they must take tranquilizers?  It is the unnamed problem, which Friedan names: The Feminine Mystique.

Review: Yet again, this is another one of those books that I didn’t know I needed.  This explains so much about American women (namely, white suburban ones), and it explains so much about not only my heritage but how this society functions as a whole, too.  It reminded me of my grandmother’s struggles, of television shows that I realized were more accurate than not, of books, of what’s happening right at this very moment.

By going through various topics such as defining what this unnamed problem is, how Freud affected our understanding of women’s psyches, and the nuclear family structure and how it affected the suburban housewife, Friedan successfully does just what she sets out to do: to enlighten readers about the horrors of what it’s like to have an identity and personality dependent solely upon one’s relationships to others.

This book left me wondering about my own status in life–not that I’m a housewife by any means–and has left me contemplating about my future.  This book was originally written in the 60s, in the middle of what we call the second wave of feminism.  Now that we’re in the third, post-third, or fourth wave (depending on who you’re talking to), this means that we are able to see women break out of the problem Friedan names.  Now, women aren’t confined nearly as much to the house anymore, but have entered the public sphere.  But what happens when women are still expected to choose between her job and her family?  What happens with the glass ceiling and the second shift?  If women nowadays write ‘businesswoman’ or ‘teacher’ or manager’ instead of ‘housewife’ on a census form, how are they faring nowadays in comparison to their mothers?  Or are they still losing themselves in their relationships to others, just those outside of the home?  And what happens when women are constantly picking up the slack for others in the work force but not getting any of the credit?  Are we having the same problem but in a different context?

Sadly, this is a book review as opposed to an essay or article, and anyways, each of those questions could have a million different answers and require a good deal of research.  Alas, if only Betty Friedan were still alive to write a sequel to her famous book…

Anyways, as you could all tell, this book is hugely thought provoking and interesting, so it’s no wonder that it’s a staple in feminist studies.  I highly recommend this for its research, ideological questions, and positionality as a second-wave feminist text.  You will not be disappointed.

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

The Sun is Also a Star

Rating: ★★★★1/2

Genre: Fiction, YA Lit

Synopsis: Natasha believes in science and facts.  Daniel is a poet.  Natasha’s going to be deported later that day.  Daniel has an interview with Yale.  Natasha needs to meet with a lawyer to see if there’s any way at all she can stay in the United States.  Daniel believes in signs.  Natasha is that sign.  Daniel thinks it’s fate.  The two of them are meant to be together.  Natasha isn’t so sure.

Review: Oh man, I had no idea what to expect from this book.  I feel like I’m either ahead of the curve, or way, way behind it.  But I read this in one shift at the library, despite its length.  And it was so good.  Normally, I’m a little wary of books that span over multiple perspectives, but Yoon does a fantastic job of this–not only because she incorporates both Natasha and Daniel’s perspectives, but other minor, seemingly insignificant characters’ perspectives as well, in addition to the histories and etymologies of things.  It all makes for a well-rounded book in a literature type of sense, but also a very scientific one in a factual sense.  It fits both Natasha’s and Daniel’s personalities quite well.

Though at times I thought that the storyline and timeline was a little rushed, I was able to remind myself that this is a story about fate, about one true love, about finding The One above all else, and overcoming whatever obstacles might be in the way.  And because that’s what the book was about (not to mention, of course, the injustices of being immigrants in the United States and what culture and heritage might mean to second generation immigrants), it became easier and easier for me to suspend what I thought should happen in a book lie this, and allowed myself to be taken along for the ride.

And what a ride it was.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games

Rating: ★★★★1/2

Genre: Fiction, dystopia fiction, sci-fi

Synopsis: Katniss Everdeen lives in what they call The Seam out in District 12.  With a Capitol unwilling to help those in poverty, she must go out and hunt illegally, as well as place extra entries for herself in The Hunger Games to get more food for her family.  The Hunger Games are held annually, and are cause for cheer or desperation, depending on who you ask.  The Games require you to fight 23 other teenagers to the death, in exchange for fame and glory.  And on the day of the reaping, Katniss’s little sister’s name gets chosen.

Review: This is the second time I’ve read The Hunger Games.  In fact, it’s been about 8 years since I last read them (and all in a flurry, too, since the movies were coming out!), and I have to say that despite me growing older, discovering new books and ways of being…this book still holds up emotionally and ideologically.  I’ve seen and read all of the material before, and yet I still had the audacity to be shocked when Prim’s name gets called.  I still nearly keeled over when Peeta admits his love for Katniss on screen.  And the cave scenes oh my god…

The reason I reread this is because we’re reading it for a Marxist unit in my critical theories class, and oh boy.  Let me tell you, the one thing that Tumblr has definitely prepared me for is a Marxist critique of this series (which makes me only want to read the following two books even more).

Atrocities and trauma-provoking events are abound within the arena, and outside the arena, they’re even worse.  I think I was Katniss’s age when I read these books, and even now, when I think of what happens–despite the fact that I know it’s all fiction–it makes my stomach turn.  Collins knows exactly what she’s doing when she writes these books, and knows just where to punch you in the gut.  And it’s awesome.

If Not, Winter by Sappho, translated by Anne Carson

If Not, Winter

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Poetry

Synopsis: Just updated in 2018, this book comprises all you need to know about the organization of information from FRBR to RDA to MARC.

Review: I’ve been meaning to read Sappho for quite some time, so when I saw that Anne Carson had translated her fragments, I immediately bought this.  And how could I not?  With both the translation and original Greek on opposing pages, and Carson’s notes, introduction, and stellar translations, it was probably one of the best decisions I’d made.

And what beautiful poetry and translations Sappho’s fragments were.  I can’t believe it took me so long to read her, for it felt that a little part of me had been awakened whilst flipping through the pages.  This is definitely a translation I’d recommend to others, on account of its beauty and the absolute care Carson takes to make sure Sappho is understood by all.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Color Purple

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Fiction

Synopsis: Through letters to both God and her sister Nettie, Celie copes with everyday life to the not-so-average events which happen to her.  But her life changes when Shug Avery stays with Celie and her husband, and Celie begins to believe that maybe there are simple joys in life, after all.

Review: This book was everything, and I now understand just exactly why my mother had recommended it to me for so long.  Spanning over the course of Celie’s life, she describes her trials and tribulations of being a black woman in the deep south.  She’s been forced to have two children, forced to marry a man she doesn’t love, and forced to reap what the men revolving around her sow.

Walker doesn’t shy away from the brutalities faced by black men and women, and she certainly doesn’t shy away from the trauma it causes.  Though much has changed since the setting of this book, the time in which it was written, and now, it’s definitely a book that will carry on, and stay true to itself no matter what.

I absolutely can’t wait to watch the movie version of this and to recommend it to others.  It’s a keystone book that I wish I read earlier in my life.

The Organization of Information by Daniel N. Joudrey and Arlene G. Taylor

The Organization of Information

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Nonfiction

Synopsis: Just updated in 2018, this book comprises all you need to know about the organization of information from FRBR to RDA to MARC.

Review: Currently, I’m using this book for my LIS 415 (Library Organization) class–which Danny Joudrey teaches.  So, he’d of course use his book.  And what he teaches in class is exactly what is covered in the most recent edition of his and Taylor’s book, so it’s safe to say that it is hugely comprehensive.  I mean, truly–this book has indexes, glossaries, acronym descriptions, graphics, further reading…  Of course, he himself has noted that despite the fact that it literally came out this year, it’s already outdated (and we’re only in March!!).  But that’s just how it is when it comes to library science.  But, for broad ideas of what different cataloging systems are like, the basics of records and attributes and elements, this is the absolute best place to start.