Read Women, Reviews

Review: Blood Water Paint

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Blood Water Paint

by Joy McCullough

Expected Release Date: March 6th 2018

Pages: 304

Rating: 5 stars

Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father’s paint.

She chose paint.

By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome’s most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the cost.

He will not consume
my every thought.
I am a painter.
I will paint.

Joy McCullough’s bold novel in verse is a portrait of an artist as a young woman, filled with the soaring highs of creative inspiration and the devastating setbacks of a system built to break her. McCullough weaves Artemisia’s heartbreaking story with the stories of the ancient heroines, Susanna and Judith, who become not only the subjects of two of Artemisia’s most famous paintings but sources of strength as she battles to paint a woman’s timeless truth in the face of unspeakable and all-too-familiar violence.

I will show you
what a woman can do.

I first heard about this book from a friend of mine who got an early look of it on twitter. Then another blogger read it and was gushing about it. It moved to the top of my list of books I wanted to read, even before I found out it was about an artist I had read about on twitter who’s story was something I was desperate to read more about. Not only did I get that in this novel, but I got it done in beautiful prose writing that made the read quick and addictive.

The story is about Artemisia Gentileschi, a female artist who painted biblical scenes unlike they had been painted before in her time. She depicted them realistically, not shying away from showing blood on these women and what was possibly their true feelings. All of this was done when she herself was forced to live parts of these tales herself when a friend of her fathers sets to teaching her techniques of painting, done in hopes that her father would get a commission he had always wanted. What started out as girlish flirting and love turned to her own nightmare as her life becomes one of the tales that her mother would tell her. But instead of allowing these things to just happen, she fights back by taking him to court, something nearly never done in this time period.

To me, writing in prose just added a new level to this story, making the reader feel the emotions of Artemisia and the pain of her experience. Prose allows emotion to be better seen and felt, though it can be known to take away from the story. Sometimes I wished that it would have focused on certain events a bit more, had a little more depth to help our understanding, but these moments didn’t happen too often, though happened a lot more toward the end. I might end up doing my own research to better understand some of it, not being fully aware of the stories of Judith and Susanna other than what was said in this book.

The character growth in this book is done extremely well. Artemisia starts out as a girl who’s desperate for love and to get out from under her abusive father’s finger. But she turns into a fighter, something harder. Her father shows a lot of growth too when faced with what happens to his daughter at the hands of a man he had welcomed into his home.

The plot follows the events of what happened in Artemisia’s life, a real artist who’s paintings are still well known today. Due to this, I can’t exactly speak on it or critique it. But it did move at a good pace and didn’t feel overly slow.

I highly recommend this read, though I warn there are a lot of triggers in this story such as sexual assault, rape, abuse, blood, drinking, torture, and murder. It’s something to be aware of and makes up most of the story.

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Reviews

Solo

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Solo

by Kwame AlexanderMary Rand Hess

Solo, a YA novel in poetic verse, tells the story of seventeen-year-old Blade Morrison, whose life is bombarded with scathing tabloids and a father struggling with just about every addiction under the sun—including a desperate desire to make a comeback. Haunted by memories of his mother and his family’s ruin, Blade’s only hope is in the forbidden love of his girlfriend. But when he discovers a deeply protected family secret, Blade sets out on a journey across the globe that will change everything he thought to be true.

This lovely, emotional story follows Blade Morrison, son of a famous rocker, as he leaves high school and is preparing for college. But everything he knows gets turned on it’s head all at once. He finds out he’s adopted after a fight with his sister over their father’s embarrassing antics, he finds out the girl he loves has been cheating on him after he gets her named inked in his skin. He goes on a journey to understand all of this by chasing after his birth mother who is in Ghana. In this journey he learns to forgive his father, learns that he can still love, and that the music he thought dead in him still is very much still alive.

This book is surprisingly unique with it’s story. It tells the story in prose and lyrics, leaving the experience even more beautiful and even more gripping. Blade is unhappy in his life of having lost his mother, having grown up with drug addict of a father, and he wishes simply to be normal. You can feel the pain of the character yourself, of someone who is on the cusp of change, one he thinks he understands only to learn he was completely wrong. It was simply a joy to read and get a better idea of the emotions Blade experiences. The lyrical feel is perfect with how this story is tied in to music so intensely. I don’t think the story would have been such an impactful read without it.

The plot was interesting and a new take in finding one’s self, in my opinion. It’s full of so many twists and turns that you don’t see half of them coming. You go into the story thinking you know what this story is about only for everything to get flipped on it’s head. And it did this well, never just letting one of those plots come up without just forgetting about them. It does leave some questions unanswered, but to me, it felt like it was part of life. Sometimes, you don’t get the answers you want, but it doesn’t mean its not important. Sometimes no answer is answer enough to get an idea of the possibilities. We see the pieces of Blade’s life that leads to this change, we don’t see the aftermath, but that’s okay. This story is about him finding who he really is, even if he doesn’t fully understand who that is fully. We don’t know what happens after Ghana. We leave the story in a heart breaking moment, but one that you know will change more than one character in this story due to the cruel reality of this world.

Do I recommend this? Yes. I think it’s such a brilliant read with such an unique way of telling it. It’s a quick read, one I did a lot quicker than I thought I would. In part, it’s because it’s such an addicting style and the emotions in it make you desperately want to know what happens next. I do warn ahead of time of some triggers: drug use, abusive relationships, implied rape, and death.

Rating: 4 stars 

 

Read Women, Reviews

#NotYourPrincess

#Notyourprincess: Voices of Native American Women

by Lisa Charleyboy & Mary Beth Leatherdale

Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous women across North America resound in this book. In the same style as the best-selling Dreaming in Indian, #NotYourPrincess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman. Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give teen readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible.

To me this, this collection of poetry and prose is important. It gives voices to Indigenous women, tells their stories and empowers their sisters to embrace themselves and who they are. To me, this collection that contains experiences I haven’t felt myself and experiences I deal with as well into words. The poems and stories that did this was stories talking about how they weren’t raised with their heritage and have to learn it on their own or families that whitewashed themselves to hide who they are, much like my own family has. These pieces hit hard while reading them, leaving me wanting to tell my own story instead of biting it back in fear of ‘not fitting’ the expected mold.

To me, I found these pieces well done. However, about half way through this collection, the formatting sort of gave out on me. Sentences ran into other sentences, not ending but cut off suddenly. Some poems make use of different colored fonts while others have the same idea, but the formatting  made it repeat the sentence above when it wasn’t meant to. As it was, the white colored fonts can’t be seen well on kindles, leaving your eyes hurting trying to read it. A more common issue with ebooks on kindles is art work getting cut to pieces so it’s not a full images but small pieces. This was an issue through this arc as well. I felt like the formatting issues did effect my impression simply because half of the pieces I couldn’t understand because I had to try and repiece the pieces together again, leaving me a little frustrated. Hopefully, this can be fixed before this goes out into ebook formats.

Do I recommend this? Yes. Wait to get it in physical form or for the publishers say that formatting has been fixed for ebooks if you get it. I find it a really important read and one that touched my soul and my own experience of trying to find my way of my heritage and understand what that means for the woman I am, as a Metis, who’s family that has been rewritting who they are to hide this side. I feel like this book is important to both Indigenous women and women who want to better understand the struggle.

Rating: 4 stars