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Review: Three Dystopian Visions for Women

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I recently picked up three books that had been sitting in my TBR list for about a year. (They were in the 2018 reading list that I posted in January.) They share similarities in theme, yet the stories and characters are very different. They’re all pre- or post-apocalyptic visions of a future that I think of as female dystopian horror (or horrific speculation, per Margaret Atwood).

These aren’t stories written for women only, but stories focused on issues related to gender rights and roles in society. These books were really short, compared to the Throne of Glass books I’d been reading for months, and I had sufficiently recovered from the overdose of apocalyptic dystopian sci-fi I suffered back in the summer by bingeing The Handmaid’s Tale, Man in the High Castle, and Colony back to back, so I decided to read them all in one week and compare them.

Though none of these got 5 stars from me, each offered a provocative glimpse into a future I’m glad I’m not living and an interesting exp…

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I feel sorry for beautiful people. Beauty, from the moment you possess it, is already slipping away, ephemeral.

~ Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman

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It was true what Hermes said. Every moment mortals died, by shipwreck and sword, by wild beasts and wild men, by illness, neglect, and age. It was their fate, as Prometheus had told me, the story that they all shared. No matter how vivid they were in life, no matter how brilliant, no matter the wonders they made, they came to dust and smoke. Meanwhile every petty and useless god would go on sucking down the bright air until the stars went dark.

~ Madeline Miller, Circe

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But strangers aren't family. Meg will never be there. I'll never belong. I'll be a stranger everywhere I go for the rest of my life.

Jane Doe
~~Victoria Helen Stone

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People had the mistaken idea that Poe wrote fantastic stories about the supernatural, when in fact he wrote realistic stories about abnormal psychology.
The Outsider by Stephen King

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“Testosterone poisoning,” I said, with a shrug.

“Can you do anything about it”? she asked. The corner of her mouth twitched, though I couldn’t tell whether with laughter or incipient hysteria.

I pushed a hand through my hair, considering.

“Well,” I said finally, “there are only two things they do with it, and one of them is try to kill each other.”

Brianna rubbed her nose.

“Uh-huh”, she said. “And the other …” Our eyes met with a perfect understanding.

“I’ll take care of your father,” I said. “But Roger’s up to you.”

~ Diana Gabaldon, Drums of Autumn (Outlander #4)

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“The thing is, I suppose,” he said, “that one gets into the habit of being oneself. It takes some great upheaval to crack that shell and force us to discover what else might be underneath”
~ The Witch Elm, Tana French

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“No power is worth you, Elena-mine. I would give up immortality for a single mortal lifetime with you.”
~ Nalini Singh, Archangel’s Prophecy (Guild Hunter #11)

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Everyone’s last wish turned out to be love: may I be consumed by the simplicity and purity of a love story, any love, base love or heroic love or transgressive love or love that is blind and lame and ridiculous lie—anything the opposite of alone and lonely and sexless, and the absence of someone to care about or talk to. The hunger for love replaced the hunger for god or science. The hunger for love became an opiate. In a world that had lost its ability to procreate, the story of love became paramount.

~ Lidia Yuknavitch, The Book of Joan

Review: Kingdom of Ash

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Kingdom of Ash — the final installment in the wildly popular, roller-coaster thrill ride that is Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series — is finally out, and we’re here to sing its praises!

It has been a looooong journey through vast and complex realms, borne of exotic mythologies and inhabited by wondrous and wicked creatures — and by seemingly hundreds of major characters, including at least a couple of dozen with whom we’ve developed deep, personal relationships.

But in the end, we got our epic showdown between the forces of darkness and light, serially unfolding amidst an onslaught of twists, turns, shocking revelations, and nail-biting suspense. We added new names to our laminated list of favorite fictional friends. We got answers to lots of questions, including some that we didn’t know we had when we started this book. We got a definitive future for Terrasen, Erilea, and even the Southern Continent. And last but definitely not least important to saucy readers, we got generous…

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That would make a good bumper sticker, actually. My other car is a big penis. My creative talents are wasted in law.

~ Victoria Helen Stone, Jane Doe

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"Of all the horrible things I've done to you," she was saying, "I think this is the worst. I came here because I wanted to disappear. Because I was ashamed of myself and I thought if I told you how I felt--if I just let you know--you would help erase me, too."

He thought of Violet fading as she had, and slowly, ever so slowly, he leaned his head against hers. "No, you didn't think that."

She huffed. "Yes, I did."

"No." Sebastian leaned down to her, until his lips were near her ear. "You came to me because I know you better than anyone else. Because you needed someone to tell you that you matter."

She stopped breathing.

"Because even though you've been invisible to the entire world," he said, "I have always seen you."

The Countess Conspiracy
~~Courtney Milan

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“Five a.m. was a largely theoretical concept to me.
I knew it existed, but I rarely observed it.”
~ Artemis by Andy Weir

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I stay in this one moment, where we are together and there is no blood or fighting or death. There is only us and a fire and a wolf and our feelings.

But those moments are made of dream, and one must always wake.

~ Karpov Kinrade, Midnight Star (Vampire Girl #2)

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We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
~ Thornton Wilder, The Woman of Andros

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“Just keep in mind,” Leon said, merging onto the highway, “I’m your cousin and you love me. If you attack me while I’m driving, we will both die and then he wins. Don’t let him win, Catalina.”

~ Ilona Andrews, Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy #3.5)

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The male I fell in love with was you. It was you, who knew pain as I did, and who walked with me through it, back to the light. Maeve didn’t understand that. That even if she could create that perfect world, it wouldn’t be you with me. And I’d never trade that, trade this. Not for anything.
~ Sarah J. Maas, Kingdom of Ash

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I know a funny thing about eyes. Where you let them look is where they take you. Look back and you stay stuck in a lost, forever unattainable past. Look forward and you love.

Feversong, Karen Marie Moning

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She just...couldn't seem to lock into relationships. There was never a definitive click to let her know she'd finally made something solid and lasting. It always felt more like grasping something that was too hot and seeing how long she could stand to hold on.

Half Past
~~Victoria Helen Stone

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Monsters are real. They’re real, and they’re capable of doing the unspeakable. And they don’t hide under beds or in closets—they hide in plain sight. You just don’t always notice them.

The Thinnest Air by Minka Kent

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“So long as my body lives, and yours—we are one flesh,” he whispered. [snip]

“And when my body shall cease, my soul will still be yours. Claire—I swear by my hope of heaven, I will not be parted from you.”

The wind stirred the leaves of the chestnut trees nearby, and the scents of late summer rose up rich around us; pine and grass and strawberries, sun-warmed stone and cool water, and the sharp, musky smell of his body next to mine.

“Nothing is lost, Sassenach; only changed.”

“That’s the first law of thermodynamics,” I said, wiping my nose.

“No,” he said. “That’s faith.”

~ Diana Gabaldon, Drums of Autumn (Outlander #4)

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She would be his wife, his queen. She was already his equal, his match, his mirror in so many ways. And with their union, the world would know it.

But he could see the bars of the cage that would creep closer, tighter, every day. And either break her wholly, or tun her into something neither of them wish her to ever be.
Kingdom of Ash, Sarah J. Maas

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Everyone is guilty of something, and everyone still harbors a memory of childhood innocence, no matter how many layers of life wrap around it. Humanity is innocent; humanity is guilty, and both states are undeniably true.

~ Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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Every election is determined by the people who show up.
~ Larry J. Sabato, Pendulum Swing

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Which of us are willing to lose ourselves enough to give another person a chance? I can’t lose myself. I don’t have enough feelings to fuel the fantasy or ignore the warnings.

~ Victoria Helen Stone, Jane Doe

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"If you want me to stop, then stop me," he murmured before I felt the brush of his fangs on my throat. If my heart had been capable of beating, it would have started to race. I could not be in a more treacherous situation. So why did a reckless part of me want to tilt my head back to give him better access?

"Say no," he went on. "Or shove me away, and I'll stop." Then his tone turned darkly promising. "But if you do neither, I absolutely won't stop."

Shades of Wicked
~~Jeaniene Frost

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"You might be attractive, but not everyone wants to have sex with you." As soon as I said it, I cringed. Did that sound as overly defensive as I felt?

"No, some people also want to kill me," he said at once. "Some want me to turn them into a vampire, some want my money, some want me for my rare artifacts, some for my fighting skills, and one wants to dangle me out as bait for a demon she's trying to kill. See? No one is with me simply to be with me." 

Shades of Wicked
~~Jeaniene Frost

ARC Review: Shades of Wicked by Jeaniene Frost

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In this thrilling new Night Rebel series set in New York Times bestselling author Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress world, sexy and ruthless vampire Ian finally meets his match!
The Rule Breaker
Master vampire Ian is unrepentant, shameless…and every shade of wicked. He’s made one too many enemies in his two centuries of existence, including Dagon, a demon who now lays claim to his soul. Ian’s only chance to escape Dagon is to join forces with a Law Guardian, but he’s never been able to abide by the rules for long.
The Law Maker
Veritas’ normal role is police, judge and jury to reprobates like Ian. But she has her own ax to grind with Dagon, so if she can use Ian as bait…well, all’s fair in law and war. As they scour supernatural hotspots to perfect their trap, Veritas soon realizes Ian’s devil-may-care, roguish image hides something much more powerful. And Ian discovers that Veritas has shocking secrets of her own. As they’re drawn to each other with a passion as intense as their peril, eit…

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Still, his arms felt strong and secure and his body was warm and solid and he smelled really, really good.

"Stop that," Ian said, lightly tugging my hair. Only then did I realize I'd ripped his collar open to nuzzle his neck.

Instead of being embarrassed, I found myself giggling. "Sorry. Want to eat you," I said with complete sincerity.

"Of course you do. Everybody does."

Shades of Wicked
~~Jeaniene Frost

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If we didn't hold on to the spirit of the city, it would be like all of those people lost in the Storm had died in vain...if we didn't shake the caskets and dance to the beats on the mispronounced French streets.

Mother Nature has taken our homes, our schools, our electricity, and even our people, but there's no way New Orleans would let her take our traditions. 

The Romeo Catchers (The Casquette Girls #2)
~~Alys Arden

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When a girl cries, few things are more worthless than a boy.
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

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A princess who was to live for a Thousand years. Longer. That had been her gift. It was now her curse.
~ Sarah J Maas,
Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7)

Happy release day, ToG fans!!!

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“Siblings aren’t always blood,” she whispered to me. “Sometimes they find you when your heart needs them the most.” Dragon’s Ground (Desert Cursed #2), Shannon Mayer

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Lulu gave him a two-fingered whistle. “The ensemble is fantastic.”

He flipped her off.

“I mean, he is just delectable,” Lulu said quietly.

“He’s not bad,” was all I was willing to give him. I was still too disturbed by the fact that I found him attractive.

“You could bounce a quarter off his ass.”

“I can hear you, Lulu,” he called back, pulling on jeans and a T-shirt. He glanced back, and there was no hiding the masculine pride in his eyes. “Wolf hearing, remember?”

~ Chloe Neill, Wild Hunger

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Another bad sign — someone or something had turned vodka into water. This was not my preferred kind of miracle.
~ Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman

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People cause pain. Even good people hurt those they love. We all do it because we can't help it. Most of us aren't evil; we're just stupid and flawed and not careful with others.

Jane Doe
~~Victoria Helen Stone

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Sometimes, you do things and you do them not because you're thinking but because you're feeling. Because you're feeling too much. And you can't always control the things you do when you're feeling too much.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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Did men ever look in the mirror, I wondered, and find themselves wanting in deeply fundamental ways? When they opened a newspaper or watched a film, were they presented with nothing but exceptionally handsome young men, and did this make them feel intimidated, inferior, because they were not as young, not as handsome? Did they then read newspaper articles ridiculing those same handsome men if they gained weight or wore something unflattering?

~ Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman