I’m on the Mend!

I am finally on the mend. It’s a long slog back to what passes for healthy for me, though. Staying awake long enough to read anything has been a challenge, and books are coming due at the library before I’ve even been able to start them. I’m particularly sad about Naomi Klein’s No Is Not Enough – it’s due today, someone else has a hold on it, and I’ve only managed to read the first 20 or so pages. Enough to know I REALLY want to read the entire thing. I am trying to resist the temptation to buy my own copy.

IMG_20171011_180750.jpgI received my copy of Femme Magnifique in the mail this week! FM is a feminist graphic novel made through Kickstarter – the tagline is “A comic book anthology salute to 50 magnificent women who take names, crack ceilings and change the game in pop, politics, art & science.” There are 50 different comics, by different artists, about pioneering women. It’s a fantastic book, and I will take some pictures and put up a full review as soon as I can. My copy, unfortunately, arrived with some damage to the spine, but the group behind it had already sent out an e-mail saying their shipper had used the wrong packaging for the first wave of books, and to contact them if your book arrived damaged. So I’ve done that, and they’re figuring out how to replace copies.

I finally got around to reading Six of Crows as I was getting sick, before I got truly ill. It was fantastic, and I have the sequel, Crooked Kingdom, which I’ll be reading very soon. I’ll put up a joint review of the two books when I’m done.

I also bought a novel, because my library doesn’t have it, about a couple opening up their relationship. Next Year, For Sure is by a Canadian author, as well, so that’s another for my Read Canadian Challenge.

I’m hoping to get back to two reviews a week as soon as I finish kicking this lung/ear/throat crap to the curb. I miss blogging, and more than that, I miss reading!

Advertisements

Oh boy, Tonsillitis.

Might be taking a week or two hiatus from blogging as I recover from being pretty ill. I’ve mentioned in the past that I have some chronic illnesses, but I have been pretty steadily gaining new readers here and there, so I’ll update.

My main issues are migraines and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease where the immune system gets confused and attacks the thyroid gland. This eventually destroys enough of the thyroid gland that it can’t produce enough thyroid hormone, and a supplement needs to be taken. That’s where I’m at now – I have a daily thyroid pill. On occasion, usually when I’m sick with something else, my immune system will flare up and attack my thyroid again, causing it to swell up, get inflamed, and deteriorate further.

So my chronic cough, that I’ve had for a couple of years now (Bronchitis a few years ago plus my migraine maintenance med has a side effect of chronic cough) turned into Tonsillitis and an ear infection this week. Which triggered the Hashimoto’s. So after an urgent care visit Thursday night, I’m on an antibiotic, a steroid/anti-inflammatory, and some prescription cough syrup with a pain med in it. My voice is almost entirely gone (I typed up my symptoms and history to hand to all my doctors at the Urgent Care instead of having to talk so much!), I’m still coughing though not NEARLY as bad as I was Thursday, and I’m having trouble staying awake. (All three meds cause drowsiness, yay!)

All three meds also have a side effect of headache, which is not playing well with my predilection towards migraines anyway. So as you can imagine, the last several days have not been the most fun.

I did manage to finish American War by Omar El Akkad (an Egyptian-Canadian author, so it qualifies for my Read Canadian challenge), and I have a LOT to say about it. It’ll be getting a review soon, but for now I’ll just say it’s one of my favorites of 2017. I also have No is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, which is on the National Book Foundation’s longlist for their Nonfiction award this year. The same author has written a few other anti-capitalism books (Shock Doctrine, No Logo, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate) so if I like her style in No is Not Enough, I might have to pick up some of her other work.

I tried reading Demon Hunting in Dixie, because I won book 6 through Goodreads, and wanted to start from the beginning of the series. I almost threw it across the room less than a hundred pages in, but that reason deserves its own post.

I have several other books from the library I’m still trying to work on – Dark Money, Hitlerland (which is really interesting, I just keep getting distracted), The Tigress of Forli, and The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes, among others.

I’m really sad because I had planned to go to the Baltimore Book Festival today – I’d been looking forward to it for months – and now I’m too sick to leave the house. Especially when it’s so hot outside, which I don’t deal with very well even when I’m not actively sick. So that’s REALLY disappointing.

Smashbomb, a new social network for reviews

So I think I found this site via a Facebook ad, but I haven’t really seen any other publicity for it. It’s still in beta, so I suppose they aren’t pushing it too hard yet. But! Smashbomb is a new site for reviews – not just books, but also movies, TV shows, games, music, and videos. I think they’re planning to eventually add products as well. I really enjoy the layout of the site, and it’s super easy to add reviews of things. Their database of things isn’t very fleshed out yet, but it’s very easy to add a new item if it’s not in their database yet. I’m a little worried that as it gets bigger that’s going to result in incorrect information, but I think other users can edit entries, Wikipedia-style, so maybe they’re counting on crowd intelligence to keep things correct.

I’ve been working on cross-posting all my old book reviews to the site, as well as rating the occasional movie I’ve seen recently, or music I love. I’d highly recommend other Book bloggers check it out, I’d like to see it grow and be successful. They are VERY responsive to feedback, I’ve found, which is really cool. They initially released to beta in February, so they’ve been out for a few months, but it’s still pretty neat to get in something on the ground floor like this.

My personal profile is here.

(I was not paid or even asked to do this post, I just really like the site and want to spread the love.)

#Charlottesville

I posted it on my Facebook, but I wanted to make sure everyone saw it. I don’t often get into politics on this blog – I typically save that for my personal social media – but this needs to be said. What happened in Charlottesville is not just heartbreaking, but ENRAGING. Nazis and White Supremacy are not an opinion that deserves a seat at the table. They need to be SMASHED. We literally FOUGHT A WAR about this.

Nazis literally murdered a woman in Charlottesville, and though they’re calling it murder, they’re not calling it terrorism. The police sat around in regular uniforms and gear while Nazis were marching with torches and assault rifles. But peaceful protests by black people get the riot gear? Fuck THAT racist double standard.

Here are the beliefs of this blog, in an easy-to-digest format:

Black Lives Matter.
Women’s Rights are Human Rights. (And so are every Minority’s.)
Love is Love.
No Human is Illegal.
Science is Real.
Kindness is Important, but Violence has its place, too.
God Probably Does Not Exist, and if he does, he doesn’t seem to care what we do. (That said, as long as you’re not forcing your religious beliefs on people that don’t share them, you’re cool.)

I am an atheist, socialist, feminist, angry-as-fuck white woman. (And yeah, I’m specifying white because I try to recognize my privilege, and I’m not going to gloss over it. We white women need to STAND THE FUCK UP and stop making WOC do all the real fucking work. Over half of us voted for Trump. TRUMP. We’re fucking responsible for this shit.)

I refuse to apologize for any of my beliefs. And I will not debate them.

Upcoming Books, a rare DNF, and Faire!

wolvesHi! Summer’s almost over (thank god, I’m so sick of this heat!) which means the Maryland Renaissance Festival is starting again soon! I’m not working the Fair nearly as much as I have the past two years, so I should be keeping up on at least the Saturday reviews, though my Tuesday posts might suffer. Between The Canadian Book Challenge, and the tempting books on my Litsy feed, though, I’ve been reading a lot! I’ve also started to get a few books from Goodreads giveaways, so you can look forward to a review of The Wolves of Dynamo, and The Awakening (which is also written by a Canadian author, so it doubles for the Canadian Challenge!) I’m always amused when I get a random book in the mail, since all the giveaways say you’ll be notified by e-mail….and you never are! Just surprise books in the mailbox! (Which I’m really not opposed to!)

I started to read Oryx and Crake – gave it 130 pages, in fact,  before I tossed it. It was too disconnected, and jumpy, and it just IRRITATED me. I loved The Handmaid’s Tale, I was excited to read more Atwood, but I couldn’t handle it. So that’s a rare Did Not Finish for me. There’s a Litsy read along for it this month, so I’m going to keep an eye on it and see if they convince me to give it another shot, but I doubt it.

darkmoneyAhead in the next month of reviews is a debut fantasy novel about a kingdom that’s lost its magic, an absolutely FANTASTIC London Steampunk Vampire/Werewolf series, a YA GLBT novel, and Station Eleven, a Canadian dystopia. I also have Dark Money requested from the library, but heavy nonfiction like that always takes me longer to read, so I’m not sure when I’ll post that review.

Also from the library currently I have The Courier, another Canadian dystopia; A Hundred Veils, about an American caught in the Iranian Revolution; The Last Neanderthal, a novel about an archeologist and the ancient people she’s studying; and What the Dead Leave Behind, “A Gilded Age Mystery.”

courierAs you can probably see, I’m trying to diversify my reading away from just sci-fi/fantasy and romances! The Canadian Book Challenge is helping with that, and I’m making a concentrated effort to pick up more diverse books in general. (Litsy is also making my TBR list absolutely GINORMOUS.)

In a couple of weeks I’ll be making a trip to the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, one of the oldest free public library systems in the United States. (Established in 1882!) I’ll take pictures and make a post dedicated to that visit! Anyone in Maryland can get a library card for their system, so I’ll also be doing that and gaining access to another library system besides my county system. I’ll probably mostly use it for ebooks, but there’s a branch close enough to swing by and pick up books if I need to, as well.

 

Book Review: This Common Secret

commonsecThis Common Secret
Susan Wicklund with Alan Kesselheim
Memoir
268 pages
Published 2007

Let me begin by saying I am a feminist. I am pro-choice. This was a difficult read because it talks about the lengths people will go to infringe on the rights of women like me to make that choice. Dr. Wicklund goes into detail about the dangers she personally has faced as an abortion provider – from stalking, to assault, to arson and death threats. The murders of Dr. Hill and Dr. Britton are mentioned, and the attempted murder of Dr. Tiller. (An attempt on Dr. Tiller’s life was successful two years after the publication of the book.) She resorted to wildly varying routines, different methods of transportation, elaborate disguises, as well as hiring private security guards, none of it really alleviating her fear that she could be next.

Running throughout the entire book is Dr. Wicklund’s concern for her patients. She is a dedicated, compassionate woman who wants nothing but the best for the women in her care. In many cases, that’s not actually abortion. One of the things that makes her an excellent doctor is ferreting out what is really in her patients’ best interests.

The book is mercifully short; I have no doubt she had many more stories she could have told, but the topic is brutal and hard to read, and keeping it concise and on-message was well done. I still had to set it down and play some mindless video games when I was done, as it was a little overwhelming.

In the ten years since the book was published, nothing has really changed. The New York Times has a short read on the major acts of violence against abortion clinics and providers. The National Abortion Federation has a longer database on all acts of violence against clinics. Their summary is eye-opening – all statistics below are from 1977 to present. (They have it broken down further by decade and year on a downloadable pdf.)

Murders – 11
Attempted Murders – 26
Bombing – 42
Arson – 186
Attempted Bombing/Arson – 98
Invasion – 411
Vandalism – 1643
Trespassing – 2925
Acid Attacks – 100
Anthrax/Bioterrorism Threats – 663
Assault & Battery – 239
Death Threats – 545
Kidnapping – 4
Burglary – 255
Stalking – 583

That doesn’t include the pure amounts of hate mail, picketers, hate mail, and blockades. This is what providers persevere through to give us health care. To provide a LEGAL PROCEDURE so women don’t die from performing it on themselves in an unsafe manner.

This Common Secret also touches on why people keep it a secret. Why people don’t talk about their abortion. And why people should. If more people realize that the women that get abortions are your neighbor, your sister, your grandmother – not just that “whore that slept around” – although she, too, deserves an abortion if that is the right choice for her. Maybe they would rethink their opposition to it.

I’m honestly probably not giving this book justice – it’s a decade old, but could have been written yesterday. And I am infuriated by anti-choice assholes.

From the cover of This Common Secret:

Susan Wicklund was twenty-two-years old and juggling three jobs in Portland, Oregon when she endured a difficult abortion. Partly in response to that experience, she later embarked on an improbable life journey devoted to women’s reproductive health, attending both undergraduate and medical school as a single mother. It was not until she became a doctor that she realized how many women share the ordeal of unwanted pregnancies – and how hidden this common experience remains.

Here is an emotional and dramatic story covering twenty years on the front lines of the abortion war. For years Wicklund commuted between clinics in different states and disguised herself from protesters – often wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a .38 caliber revolver. Her daughter, Sonja, experienced seeing wanted posters with her mother’s face on them and riding to school in police cars to get through the human blockades at the end of their driveway.

Wicklund also tells the stories of the women she serves, women whose options are increasingly limited: counseling sessions in which women confide that they had used combinations of herbs – or worse – to attempt a miscarriage; or patients who have been protesters, but then find themselves bearing an unwanted pregnancy; and women who claim to want an abortion, but nothing they say or do convinces Wicklund that the decision is whole-hearted.

This Common Secret brims with the compassion and urgency of a woman who has witnessed the struggles of real patients. It also offers an honest portrait of the clinics that anti-abortion activists portray as little more than slaughterhouses for the unborn. As we enter the most fevered political fight over abortion that America has ever seen, Wicklund’s raw and revealing memoir shows us what is at stake.