Find it at your library!

I shelled out cash for this book even though I could have waited on a library copy because I saw one too many white male reviewer say, “Do we really need another Handmaid’s Tale?” and that is the kind of crap I feel compelled to answer with my wallet.

Because the answer to that supposedly rhetorical question is an emphatic YES. We do need more books like The Handmaid’s Tale. Because news flash, whiny white guys, none of the stuff that Margaret Atwood was writing about and rebelling against back in 1985 has been fixed. So until that beautiful, blessed day finally arrives, I hope and pray that talented, gorgeous writers like Louise Erdrich will continue to churn out books that make us all confront the reality of the world we live in.

Also, are we really only allowed one heavy-hitting dystopian feminist novel? Is that a one and done situation? Because if that’s how publishing works, we are WAY over our quota of self-indulgent, navel-gazing novels by privileged white dudes. I think you guys can spot us one every 32 years.

And here’s something else to think about: Atwood has been criticized (rightly, in my opinion) for inadequately addressing race in The Handmaid’s Tale. So can we admit it is possible that Erdrich, as a woman of color, might have something to add to the conversation around women’s rights that hasn’t already been said by a white woman?

I don’t think Future Home of the Living God is a perfect novel. Some key plot points are glossed over in a couple of lines, while multiple pages are spent dwelling on seemingly minor or irrelevant detail. It leaves a lot of loose ends lying around, which is uncomfortable in a book about so bleak a future. But the last two pages knocked me senseless with their stark beauty. This is absolutely a book worth reading, and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise.

Find it at your library!

A gender-bent mystery in which the famous, brilliant detective is not Sherlock, but Charlotte, Holmes is not something I knew I wanted, but now that I’ve read it, I want ALL THE SEQUELS. I need more Charlotte and her delightful Mrs. Watson!

In this first entry in the series, Charlotte has just irreparably ruined her own reputation—on purpose. Determined to make a go of life on her own instead of depending on a man, she is looking for a way to earn a living when three people turn up dead, all from the same poison. Charlotte thinks the deaths must be linked, but it won’t be easy for a woman in her position to investigate.  

If you like your mysteries on the cerebral and genteel side, this is the series you want. Thomas’s writing is just so classy. I tried to come up with a better way to put it, but that’s the word that fits the best. It’s like pretty pastel petit fours lined up in the window of a French bake shop: precise and attractive and sweet. Classy. It’s even more amazing when you consider that English isn’t her first language.

That said, it doesn’t make for an easy, breezy read. I actually finished the book and then immediately reread the last third to make sure I had everything right. This is not the kind of book you can snooze through and expect a big payoff. There are a lot of minor characters to keep track of, and they all seem to have complicated relationships with each other. Plot-wise, this book is a tangled web. But I liked Charlotte and her friends so much I was willing to do a bit of unraveling to get my money’s worth. As you would expect from a character based on Sherlock Holmes, Charlotte is pretty complex, and it’s obvious that what we learn about her in this volume is just the tip of the iceberg. I can’t wait to get my hands on book two!