So… it’s been a hot minute since I last paid any attention to this blog of mine. And after I went to all the trouble of revamping it too. To be fair, this wasn’t the blog post that I originally planned on coming back with. I had a little in-depth review all planned out but then… well, a pandemic happened. A pretty reasonable excuse, I would say.
Anyway. Rather than doing a deep dive into an obscure book that’s not just generally unenjoyable with its weak characters and even weaker story, it’s also offensively regressive for something published so recently, I’m going to write something more lighthearted and fun. These days, with the world literally fighting to contain and conquer a highly infectious disease, a little lighthearted fun goes a long way.
I will dissect that peculiarly bad book one day. Just remembering it makes me seethe with how obscenely bad the internalized misogyny was. I want to unpack its awfulness so much. But not today.
This book tag I’m doing is Kate’s (@Your Tita Kate) original tag she posted on her booktube the other week. If you’re not already subscribed to Kate’s channel, you’re seriously missing out on some quality *chef’s kiss* bookish content. Watch her video explaining the book tag here:
Basically, the book tag is dedicated to the kickass women in Philippine history who’ve fought against colonizers, stood up against fascists, and advocated for women’s rights. Filipino women have historically been known to take no shit and get work done despite the machismo culture plaguing Filipino society. Case in point, our incumbent vice-president’s significant contributions and efforts to aid frontliners in the fight against COVID-19.
But I’m veering a little off topic here.
This book tag honors the Filipino heroines who’ve fought for our rights and our freedom. If you want to learn more about the women in this book tag, watch Kate’s video where she give a quick rundown on the Filipino heroines. You won’t regret it, I promise.
A BOOK FEATURING A FEMALE LEADER
Obviously, I was going to choose the Bitch Queen herself. I immediately thought of Queen Talyien of the fantasy book by K.S. Villoso, The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, when Kate asked for a book with a woman leader. Tali embodies fierce dedication and cutthroat determination to do what’s right for her people. Although she’s far from perfect, I love Tali with all my heart. Not to spoil the book or anything (seriously, read The Wolf of Oren-Yaro if you’re into high fantasy with major focus on political intrigue) but there were plenty of instances in Tali’s journey where she could have just walked away from it all, surrendered her crown to save herself. But she soldiers on, fighting for herself and her people because she’s a true leader who does what’s right.
A BOOK WITH A FEMALE CHARACTER WHO JOINS A REVOLUTION
Probably the first book that really taught me the importance of standing up to fascists is Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. It’s the OG YA dystopian trilogy that stars Katniss Everdeen, the Girl on Fire. What struck me the most about Katniss’ story was that she didn’t set out to be the face of the revolution. All she wanted to do was save her sister. What gave so many people the courage to rise up against the Capitol was seeing this one teenage girl fight. As a fellow teen a decade ago, it was such a thrill seeing a girl my age make so much of a difference. Now that I’m an adult, I understand that in a world that seems devoid of hope, a single flame can start a raging fire
Also, goddamn was Collins a terrific writer.
A BOOK FEATURING A FEMALE JOURNALIST/WRITER
This murder mystery book stars two Catholic priests as the main sleuths in the story but one of the supporting characters (and my personal favorite) is one plucky TV reporter, Joanna Bonifacio, who actually discovers key clues on the identity of the serial killer. She’s smart and witty but also knows how to connect to people on a real level (a useful skill for journalists to have). I enjoyed her chapters the most because she’s a really interesting and fun character… and also because I always have a soft spot for journalist characters, having a BA in Journalism myself.
A BOOK WITH A FEMALE CHARACTER WHO RISES ABOVE PERSONAL TRAGEDY
The main character of the series, Tea Pahlavi, is probably the Queen of Rising Up from Personal Tragedy. She’s a bone witch – necromancer, basically – who resurrected her beloved dead brother, for one thing. And she spends most of the books enacting her vengeance on those who stole everything from her. I won’t say any more since the book was written with the past and the present intertwined so I might spoil the plot but, yeah, Tea has had to go through a lot of pain and hardship but still she persists.
A BOOK WITH A FEMALE CHARACTER WHO COMES FROM A WEALTHY BACKGROUND
This is the last book of the series – one of my very favorite book series, The Lunar Chronicles – so I’ll try my very best not to spoil anything. Princess Winter Hayle is the stepdaughter of the series’ terrifying villain, Queen Levana. Each book in this sci-fi/fantasy series loosely adapts from a classic fairy tale and Winter is Snow White. She may not be of pure royal bloodline but everyone in court perceives her as the perfect princess, beautiful, graceful, and, more importantly, harmless. However, Winter isn’t as clueless as she pretends to be. She uses her royal authority as well as how people saw her to her advantage to help fight the evil queen. Though she’s also battling inner demons herself, Winter steps up to do what needs to be done.
A BOOK WITH A TRADITIONALLY FEMININE FEMALE CHARACTER
Whenever I think of traditionally feminine, I almost immediately picture Anne Shirley. She loves beauty in all forms, particularly because, as red-headed orphan, she grew up hearing nothing but bad things about her appearance. The book – an old timey slice of life tale of a larger than life girl growing up in Prince Edward Island – is written mostly in Anne’s point of view and the prose is so flowery and feminine that it makes me chuckle every now and again. I’m not that traditionally feminine myself so I don’t really relate to Anne’s love for big pouffy dresses but I still love her passion for beauty and life.
A BOOK WITH A FEMALE DOCTOR, NURSE, CARETAKER, AND OTHER HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
Not a lot of people know about this YA fantasy which I personally think is a travesty because Aria of the Sea is SO GOOD. It’s about a young girl named Cerinthe who, along with her mother, was a folk healer in her island. When her mother dies, Cerinthe blames herself and swears off healing. She travels to the mainland to pursue her passion for dancing at the School for Royal Dancers. I cannot stress just how incredible this book is. It’s a bit of a quiet story, no sword fights or magic. Cerinthe’s journey is mainly about choosing whether to keep on dancing or to go back to healing despite her fears and guilt of losing her mother. It’s really quite heartwarming. And the worldbuilding! One of these days, I might just write a post about this book.
A BOOK WITH A FEMALE CHARACTER WHO FIGHTS FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS
This YA Contemporary book was published just last year and I actually can’t believe I only just heard about it this week. Girls on the Verge is a story about Camille, a normal seventeen-year-old girl who gets the shock of her life when she learns that she’s pregnant. She tries to get help but everywhere she turns it seems that people will either shame her or force her to keep the baby. Camille is determined to get an abortion and travels all across the state to the nearest clinic to get it. She’s joined by an acquaintance, Annabelle, and Camille’s devout Christian best friend, Beatrice, though she was against the decision at first. It’s a beautiful, funny, and timely story about a young girl’s right to her own body. It’s a MUST read, to be honest.
A BOOK WITH A FEMALE CHARACTER WHO FOUGHT FIERCELY DURING A WAR
I’ve read plenty of books about an all out war and most of them are led by women but for this prompt I think the best book to talk about is Jade War‘s Kaul Shaelinsan. Technically I should probably also include the first book in the series, Jade City, but I feel like the sequel really featured just how much of a fierce fighter Shae was. Basically, the series is about two warring clans of Greenbones, people who can harness the power of jade. Shae is the youngest and only daughter of the Kauls, the head of the No Peak clan. In Jade War, not only does she fight for her and her family’s honor, she also strategizes and arranges alliances so the clan can stay ahead of the game. She’s a badass character through and through.
A BOOK WITH A FEMALE CHARACTER WHO IS AN ACTRESS
Another criminally underrated YA contemporary book! This one tackles an incredibly heavy subject, school shootings. Not the events leading up to it but the aftermath of such a tragedy and the survivors trying to move on from that day. The main character, LeeAnn, was one of the six survivors of her school’s tragic shooting three years ago. She lost her best friend Sarah that day and although she still has nightmares about it, she works hard to keep on living, to pursue her dream of being a theater actor. But her best friend’s death isn’t the only thing haunting her. Three years ago, the day after the shooting, a rumor went around that Sarah died defending her Christian faith. Sarah becomes a martyr, worshipped not just in her little town but nationwide. Lee, who was with Sarah when she was killed, knows that’s not what happened. The book follow’s Lee’s story of trying to tell the real truth about that day even though people would rather cling on to the lie. It’s an incredibly engrossing read that was clearly written with compassion for victims, survivors, and the people left behind by such a terrible tragedy. Honestly, this book made me tear up a few times.
And that’s it for this book tag! Major props again to Kate for making this! I’m a hundred years late but at least I made it. Somehow.