Mini-Review: Another Little Piece, Kate Karyus Quinn (2013)

Monday, November 16th, 2015

 

On a cool autumn night, Annaliese Rose Gordon stumbled out of the woods and into a high school party. She was screaming. Drenched in blood. Then she vanished.

A year later, Annaliese is found wandering down a road hundreds of miles away. She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know how she got there. She only knows one thing: She is not the real Annaliese Rose Gordon.

Now Annaliese is haunted by strange visions and broken memories. Memories of a reckless, desperate wish . . . a bloody razor . . . and the faces of other girls who disappeared. Piece by piece, Annaliese’s fractured memories come together to reveal a violent, endless cycle that she will never escape—unless she can unlock the twisted secrets of her past.

(Synopsis via Goodreads.)

four out of five stars

The synopsis for Another Little Piece sounds a lot like a typical woman in peril story, featuring a misogynistic kidnapper/rapist/murderer, or perhaps a sinister cult. And when we first meet Annaliese, wandering through a field, dazed, disoriented, and with no memory of the past year (or the sixteen before it), clad in a garbage bag, it sure looks as though the plot will bend this way. But things get really weird, really fast, as Quinn injects an unexpected supernatural element into Annaliese’s story. The result is an odd, sometimes disjointed, very creepy tale that kept me glued to my Kindle.

Quinn’s prose is both lovely and eerie, and she does a masterful job of depicting and then deconstructing adolescence and the high school experience: slut shaming, unrequited love, alienation and ostracization, you name it. Quinn avoids stereotypes; all of her characters are filled with depth and nuance. I especially love Annaliese – the original as well as the reboot – or rather, how Quinn twists and transforms our perception of her as the story unfolds. (The real Annaliese? Kind of a tool.)

Annaliese and Dex are adorable; Franky is creepy as fuck; and I loved the “spitball poems” used to introduce each chapter. There’s also a great sub-plot with Annaliese’s best friend, Gwen.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Those Girls, Chevy Stevens (2015)

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

“What else bad can happen?”

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for rape, torture, child abuse, and general violence.)

To say that life hasn’t been easy for the Campbell sisters is an understatement of epic proportions. When they were younger, their mother – who loved them dearly but wasn’t always able to put enough food on the table – was killed, hit head-on by a hay truck. Their already unstable father went off the rails and on a bender, effectively abandoning them to the state. The three were swiftly separated, placed into different foster homes, each one worse than the next. (Courtney’s foster dad sexually harassed her, and his jealous wife beat her in retaliation; Dani effectively became a slave laborer.)

After Dad got his shit together, Dani, Courtney, and Jess went to live with him on a remote ranch near the Canadian border. There, the girls help work off their rent by performing manual labor – all while trying their best to avoid Dad’s fists. He’s a violent drunk, and without Mom around to mediate, the abuse has only escalated. Luckily, he’s gone three weeks out of every month, working on an oil field in Alberta.

One night he returns from camp, drunk and in a mood. A friend informed him that his middle daughter Courtney is “running around” with a married man nearly twice her age. He confronts her, and before you can say “slut shaming” or “victim blaming,” things go sideways.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Snip, Snip Revenge, Medeia Sharif (2014)

Monday, July 14th, 2014

The Measure of a Woman

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Member Giveaway program.)

By all outward appearances, high school junior Tabassum “Tabby” Deniz Karim has it all. Pretty, popular, and outspoken, Tabby isn’t lacking in friends – or boy toys. She has not one best friend, but three in “the BeBes” (Boss Tabby, Booty Connie, Bitch Marissa, and Beast Kiki). Her father and stepmother Song are both successful accountants, able to afford a home in the “good” part of Miami and send their daughter to private school. A student at Miami Beach Magnet School of the Arts, Tabby channels her outgoing personality into creative pursuits; she’s a talented and ambitious actress who’s already perfecting her autograph in anticipation of future stardom. And she has a head full of thick, curly, glossy, romantic, waist-length hair.

But under that glorious mane of keratin hides a dysfunctional home life and painfully low self-esteem. Caught in the middle of a hostile divorce, Tabby’s father is cold, inattentive, and emotionally available, while her mom is neglectful to the point of abuse. (And also possibly alcoholic.) Tabby’s half-sister, Caridad, seemingly subsists on a diet of bite-sized candy bars, and every time she stays with her mother and Cari, Tabby spends much of her visit cleaning the filthy condo and bathing her equally filthy sister. Meanwhile, her stepmother is expecting, and Tabby fears that the new baby will eclipse her into invisibility. Mortified by her home life and desperate to keep up appearances, Tabby doesn’t confide in her besties, which only fuels her feelings of alienation and loneliness.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: The Summer I Wasn’t Me, Jessica Verdi (2014)

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Performing Heteronormativity, Eschewing Gluten

four out of five stars

(Spoiler alert for the last two paragraphs.)

Someone has gone to a lot of trouble to manipulate the raw landscape into some preconceived idea of what nature should look like. Goosebumps trickle across the back of my neck as I realize that’s exactly what they’re going to do to me too.

When seventeen-year-old Lexi Hamilton’s father died of pancreatic cancer, she not only lost her best friend – but one half of the only family’s she’s ever had. And with her father went the mother she used to know: happy, carefree, responsible. With it. There. In the six months since her husband’s death, Christine Hamilton spiraled into a deep depression, unable to perform even the most basic of chores. It’s all Lexi can do to keep the household going.

So when her devoutly Christian mother discovers Lexi’s secret sketchbook – brimming with lovingly rendered portraits of her gorgeous ex-friend Zoe Green – Lexi agrees to spend the summer before her senior year at a “pray the gay away” reparative therapy camp. Of course she does: she doesn’t want to lose her mother, too.

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, camp New Horizons is as beautiful as it is surreal. Led by founder Jeremiah Martin – himself a ‘recovering homosexual’ – the campers perform a variety of bizarre activities over the course of the nine week-long treatment: uncovering and healing their “Father Wounds” (spoiler alert: not always caused by one’s father). Engaging in ‘gender-appropriate activities’ (boys learn the rules of football and how to do minor home repairs, while girls take in the finer points of makeup application and hair coiffing). The dudes play baseball while the girls watch (insulting, yes, but a welcome break for those young ladies recovering from hangovers!). Going on dates with their opposite-sex, equally gay peers. Performing heteronormativity … and participating in the occasional exorcism.

(More below the fold…)

Shocking the dogren & other acts of "manliness."

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

In their latest link roundup, Vegan Soapbox includes not one, but two recent examples of intersecting oppressions in the news.

First up, in the AP, “Ohio dad who shock-collared kids gets 16 years“:

An Ohio man has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for disciplining his children with a dog shock collar.

David Liskany of Jamestown had pleaded guilty to charges of felonious assault and attempted felonious assault.

In court Friday, Greene County Common Pleas Judge J. Timothy Campbell compared the punishments to torture.

The judge said Liskany punished the children in 2006 and 2007 by putting them in cold showers, holding them underwater and using the shock collar, which is commonly used to train dogs.

The judge said the case sounded “like something from Guantanamo Bay.”

The children are now 5, 12 and 14.

As Elaine noted, shock collars used on children constitute “felonious assault,” “Yet shock collars are OK for dogs!?!”

Honestly, this case should come as no surprise. When we (either collectively, as a society, or on an individual level) come to accept physical punishment as a legitimate training method for use on the family “pet” – an innocent, sentient being – should we be shocked (pun intended) when this form of training is extended to other, “lesser” members of the family? If it’s socially acceptable to shock a dog for doing what comes naturally – instead of employing gentler, more humane training methods – then how might we expect Dad to react when his young children act in a similarly “wild” or “disobedient” manner? We’ve already told Dad that violence is permissible, even preferable in some situations*; we’ve eliminated the taboo against inflicting unnecessary harm. If the cane is ok for “his dog,” why not “his children,” as well?

In the above paragraph, I use the term “lesser” deliberately, for – as far as the “traditional” nuclear family goes – Dad occupies his position at the apex, followed by Mom, the children and (finally) any non-human members of the household. Everyone is “lesser” from where Dad sits. Start abusing those lowest on the ladder, and it’s only a matter of time before the violence seeps upward.

(More below the fold…)

Quick Hit: Pork for Tits

Monday, January 19th, 2009

This story has already made the rounds, but I think it merits another mention anyway: A California man stands accused of selling his 14-year-old daughter for $16,000, 100 cases of beer and several cases of “meat”.

CNN has a fairly detailed report on the case:

A California man sold his 14-year-old daughter to an 18-year-old man for cash, beer and meat — then called police when the prospective bridegroom didn’t live up to his end of the deal, authorities said Tuesday.

Marcelino de Jesus Martinez, 36, of Greenfield, California, was arrested Monday and booked into the Monterey County Jail, Greenfield police said in a statement. He faces felony charges of receiving money for causing a person to cohabitate, police said.

Martinez had arranged through a third party to have his daughter marry the older teenager, identified by authorities as Margarito de Jesus Galindo, of Gonzales, California. In exchange, Galindo was to pay Martinez $16,000 and provide him with 160 cases of beer, 100 cases of soda, 50 cases of Gatorade, two cases of wine, and six cases of meat, Greenfield Police Chief Joe Grebmeier told CNN.

All those involved in the case are from the western Mexican state of Oaxaca, the police chief said. In the Oaxacan community, such an agreement is “normal and honorable,” he said. “In California, it’s against the law.”

In Oaxacan culture, the food and beverages are provided by a prospective bridegroom for the wedding, Grebmeier said.

Authorities believe the young girl went with Galindo willingly, and no coercion was involved, he said. However, the girl is four years younger than California’s age of consent, although the law does allow 16-year-olds to marry with parental consent. […]

He said he wanted to send a message to immigrant communities that such behavior is unacceptable. He said his department has long heard rumors of children as young as 12 being sold or offered for sale. The Greenfield police statement said arranged marriages between young girls and older men “have become a local problem.”

(More below the fold…)

Cowboys & Criminals

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Update, 5/11/09:

As reported by SHARK, on April 16, Zeb Lanham pled guilty to felony domestic battery and

was sentenced to a 10-year unified prison term with the first five years fixed and the second five indeterminate. However, included in the plea agreement was the stipulation the judge retain jurisdiction of the case, allowing Lanham to complete a rehabilitation and education program. So Lanham was remanded to North Idaho Correctional Institution situated at Cottonwood for 180 days, in which he will complete the rider program, and attend the treatment classes set for him.

“What they actually do is, in part, determined by the charges they were convicted on,” Lee said of the rider treatment program.

After those 180 days, Lanham will return to the court and, based on the recommendation from the Idaho Department of Corrections on how Lanham did in his program, the judge will likely either order Lanham to serve the remainder of his sentence or waive prison time in favor of probation on the condition he cannot break any of the terms set.

So he could serve as little as 180 days for beating his partner, who was pregnant (and thus especially vulnerable) at the time. Just goes to show how little the patriarchy values women and non-human animals (remember, he also earns a living by abusing sentient creatures).

———

In their current newsletter, SHARK highlights the arrest of “Bull Rider” Zeb Lanham – for felony domestic violence. Lanham was charged with beating his 22-year-old pregnant girlfriend, and subsequently pled guilty.

Man charged in violent beating episode of girlfriend
By Jessica Keller
Argus Observer
Friday, November 14, 2008 10:51 AM PST

FRUITLAND — A Sweet, Idaho, man and professional bull rider was arrested and charged with felony domestic violence following an incident that occurred Nov. 3 in Fruitland.

Zeb Lanham, 24, was arrested Nov 3 following an incident at the residence of Kimberly Butler, 22, his girlfriend and the woman with whom shares a child.

“A warrant was issued for his arrest, and he turned himself in on Nov. 4,” Payette County Prosecuting Attorney Brian Lee said Wednesday. “He is still in custody last I know. The court set a $200,000 bond in this case.”

Lee said police are still gathering evidence, so what he can say about the case is limited. According to the police report, however, law enforcement officials were called following an argument between Lanham and Butler. Lanham was reported to have caused “great bodily harm with traumatic injury on Butler’s face,” according to the police report. A Fruitland police officer interviewed Butler, who is also pregnant, at Holy Rosary Medical Center, where she was being treated. She was later transported by LifeFlight Air Ambulance to a Boise-area hospital for treatment of her injuries. Those injuries include a broken cheekbone and swelling that was apparently putting pressure on her brain, according to the police report. According to the police report, Butler entered a neighbor’s house to call 911 after she sustained her injuries. Lanham is scheduled to appear Monday in Payette County Court for his preliminary hearing.

Bullrider pleads guilty at arraignment session
By: JESSICA KELLER
ARGUS OBSERVER
Sunday, December 21, 2008 1:58 AM PST

PAYETTE—A professional bullrider charged with felony domestic violence pleaded guilty following a plea agreement during his arraignment Friday in Payette County District Court. […]

One of the terms of the agreement is that Lanham be sentenced to a 10-year unified prison term with the first five years fixed. The plea agreement also stipulates Lanham pay restitution, although the terms of that have not been decided upon yet. The prison sentence, however, comes with the stipulation at the Feb. 19 sentencing date, the prosecutors will recommend the judge retain jurisdiction of the case, allowing Lanham to complete a rehabilitation and education program, which usually lasts between four to six months, Lee said. Following the completion of the program, depending on the results, the Idaho Department of Corrections could recommend to the judge Lanham serve probation or serve the original sentence, or the judge can go ahead and impose the original sentence anyway.

“Based on the totality of the circumstances of the case, we determined that was an appropriate plea agreement in this matter,” Lee said.

In Idaho, if a person has not been convicted of a prior felony offense, it is unlikely he or she would go to prison for the initial conviction, regardless. Under the current plea agreement, Lanham will have to demonstrate prison is not the best option before a final decision is made.

Lee said, based on his records, Lanham does not have a prior felony conviction. According to Idaho Department of Corrections records, however, Lanham is facing misdemeanor battery charges in Gem County in a case that has been scheduled for jury trial. Lee said, while that case remains unresolved, it is impossible to say whether it will have any impact in Lanham’s sentencing or affect possible probation opportunities if his treatment program is completed successfully.

Of this most recent case, SHARK notes, “Another example of what research has proven, violence to animals is a precursor of violence to humans.”

Indeed, on their website, SHARK documents a number of cases of violent crime among rodeo participants; the target of the violence is often non-human animals, but other victimized groups include women, children and people of color:

(More below the fold…)

DawnWatch: Responses to "Death by Veganism" — 5/21-5/23/07

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

If you’re interested in reading more veg*n responses to the insipid “Death by Veganism” missive, do check out…

May 23, 2007 Vegan Outreach e-Newsletter:: An Irresponsible Attack

The Veg Blog» Blog Archive » Standing on a Shaky Planck

isachandra: Meat Eating Parents Starve Baby!

FYI, you can always keep up to date with my reading list via delicious: http://del.icio.us/easyvegan. You know, just in case I don’t already pass along enough reading material.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: May 24, 2007 3:39 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Responses to “Death by Veganism” — 5/21-5/23/07

Most of us have heard about the sad case of Crown Shakur, a baby born three months premature, whose parents starved him to death on a diet of only soy milk and apple juice. Unfortunately, we have also heard that his parents are vegan, as that has been announced in every headline about the case. If the boy had starved on cows’ milk and apple juice (as a premature baby might, if not given human breast milk or formula) I doubt the headlines would have announced “Omnivores convicted of Manslaughter.”

The worst headline, garnering the most attention and thereby heading up the most emailed story of the day, was the “Death by Veganism.” That phrase headlined food author Nina Planck’s rant on the Monday, May 21, New York Times editorial page. The page editors, not the author, are responsible for op-ed headlines, and Planck’s article, while including some misleading statements against the vegan diet, did not quite match the headline. The article wasn’t 100% bad (only 95%) — it did include some important points about B12 and Omega 3s. But contrary to Planck’s claims, some of the world’s most renowned doctors (including the late Dr Benjamin Spock in the last edition of his book before his death) recommend vegan diets for children as far superior to standard diets.

I did not rush to send Planck’s article out on DawnWatch as I knew it was being responded to widely and competently from within the vegetarian community. Today, along with the article, I can share six letters that appeared yesterday in response to it, four of them commenting positively on vegan diets. Below them I will share a particularly strong column from a non-vegan food writer who was appalled by Planck’s piece.

First, a brief overview and link to Monday’s “Death by Veganism” New York Times op-ed:

(More below the fold…)