Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

“This is what it means to be a feminist. Not a humanist or an equalist or whatever. But a feminist. It’s not a bad word. After today it might be my favorite word. Because really all it is is girls supporting each other and wanting to be treated like human beings in a world that’s always finding ways to tell them they’re not.” – Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu is a young adult novel about a teenager starting a feminist revolution in her Texas high school. The administration’s, as well as the student body’s, responses to this revolution play a very large part in this book.

Vivian Carter is annoyed. It may have taken her a while to want to do anything about it, but she is fed up. The football team can do no wrong and it has to stop. The boys on the football team are getting away with rampant sexual harassment of the girls in the school while the administration sits by and does nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. Instead of punishing the boys, the administration has instead ramped up sexist dress code enforcements: pulling girls out of class and forcing them to wear giant gym uniforms. There doesn’t seem to be an actual dress code that they are following, but the girls are bearing the brunt of the blame. In addition to the increased number of dress code checks, the guys in the school are also harassing the girls in the hallway with violating games they make up. Combined with disgusting, gross, and degrading comments made by the guys during class that the teachers don’t punish and Vivian is done. The guys have been getting away for too much for too long. It’s time for a change.

Needing to blow off steam, but not wanting to get in trouble, Vivian remembers the box of zines that her mother has in her closet. Her mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s. She was tough and didn’t put up with bad behavior from anyone. Drawing from the strength she finds in her mother’s memory box, Viv creates a feminist zine that she distributes to her classmates, anonymously of course. This zine was just meant as a way for her to vent her anger, but other girls start responding to it. The more popular the zine becomes, the more the girls of her high school band together across cliques and popularity. It gains traction throughout the school and soon Moxie Girls are planning events and protests of their own. If the administration won’t take action, the Moxie Girls will demand it.

After all, MOXIE GIRLS FIGHT BACK!

This book has also been made into a movie on Netflix directed by Amy Poehler.

Fight or Flight by Samantha Young

Romance novels can sometimes fall right into stereotypes or tropes about the main characters. In order to avoid the status quo, authors must describe intriguing worlds, interesting backstories, and well-developed main characters to keep readers invested in their novels. My latest romance read battled these tropes and, in my opinion, ultimately succeeded in writing a well-crafted novel worthy of your attention.

Fight or Flight by Samantha Young did not immediately grab my attention. The beginning was rough for me as the introductions of the characters seemed to rely heavily on their outward appearance. Doing so makes sense when you look at the development of the characters in the long run, but it was something that had the ability to put me on edge throughout the duration of the book. Also major trigger and content warnings for some readers: This book deals with topics of assault, violence, sexual assault, abortion-shaming, etc. While the blurb makes this out to be a light romance read, it does get down to some gritty topics. Now let’s move on to discussing the actual book!

Ava Breevort is having a rough time. Flying back to Boston after a harrowing trip back to her hometown, Ava just wants to make it home smoothly. The universe is plotting against her though. A volcano has erupted overseas leaving a cloud of ash that has cancelled flights across the country and delayed others. Ava is desperate to try anything to get home, but in addition to the volcano ash issue, another flyer continuously gets in her way. An angry arrogant Scotsman named Caleb Scott takes a first class seat right out from under her and is increasingly antagonistic throughout the whole flight. Once they land, Caleb and Ava bump into each other again and eventually end up in bed together.

After landing in Boston, they both move on with their lives. Chance brings Caleb and Ava back together again though. They renew their steamy relationship while Caleb is stranded in Boston with the understanding that this is purely a relationship revolving around casual sex. Ava agrees since they both clearly don’t like each other. They separate and Caleb goes back to Scotland.

A client of Ava’s brings the two together again. Ava and Caleb begin again. This works for a while until, of course, Ava discovers she has feelings for Caleb. She realizes that she’s starting to like Caleb and that he’s actually not that bad to hang around. When Caleb announces that he is going to be staying in Boston permanently, Ava has to decide whether or not her feelings with him are genuine and worth fighting for. Even if Ava is willing to fight for her feelings, she is still left to wonder whether Caleb, who is as stubborn, icy, and closed-off as ever, can work through his issues and would want to love her too.

I’m curious what other people think of this book. While it took me a bit to get into this novel, in the end I enjoyed the development of the characters and their chemistry. Read it and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Numb by Sean Ferrell

submitted by Sarah W

What would it be like to feel no pain? Not just the absence of paper cuts and bumped knees, but the absence of guilt or shame? Would it be a blessing or a curse?

Sean Ferrell explores the possibilities in his book, appropriately titled, Numb. His main character, an amnesiac, is found wandering around by a traveling circus. When asked who he is, he replies, “I’m…numb.” The name sticks, especially after he unknowingly nails his hand to a wood structure and can’t pull free.

His condition is taken for talent and without conscious effort or desire, Numb becomes the star act in the circus and then in New York, where he – or rather his numbness – acquires an agent, a fan following, a lot of people who want to make him their personal cash cow…and a girlfriend who would be his salvation – if he can just find the courage to feel

The New York Times says Numb is a statement about media bombardment, fame in the Internet Age, and a culture in which instant gratification takes far too long.

Maybe. But I also say it’s a fascinating read.