Blog Hiatus

I’m currently taking a break from writing Books Are the New Black. It has been a lot of fun writing this blog and seeing/reading your reactions! I hope to take it up again in the future, but no promises at this point.

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FASHION FRIDAY: The Female Eunuch

The Female Eunuch

The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer
Harper Perennial Modern Classics (1970)
432 pages, 3 stars

ABOUT THE BOOK: The Female Eunuch was a groundbreaking book of essays when it was published in 1970. She candidly discusses sexuality, relationships, menstruation, and social ideas of femininity for middle-class, white women. Though it is too much to expect her to have been more inclusive, the racist asides in the book can be quite shocking.

I can see how this book would be liberating for some women when it was published. Her ideas of sexuality go against most of what girls were taught in the 60s, and her liberal views would have been rare for many women to be exposed to at the time. And in today’s over-sexualized society, it is good to revisit questions like what is female sexuality? How is it manifested naturally and what parts are constructed by society?

The academic style of these essays, with long block quotes, became tiring over time. This is not a book to sit down and read for hours. It’s more digestible in chunks. Warning: be prepared to be depressed, if the world was as bad as this book says for middle class women, just think what it was for those less privileged. Though we still have far to go when it comes to equality, we have come at least some of the way.

FASHION FRIDAY: My dear little feminist, burn your bra (who needs it?!) and throw on this tank that’s as unapologetically white as you are. Sexual liberation doesn’t come at the price of being sexy (i.e. appealing to a man by being a sexual object without agency). Revel in the extra room this cream sweater provides. It’s perfect for curling up on the couch with a good book.

Pair your loose sweater with these green/brown pants, which match the cover of your international bestseller. As you tackle the oppression of women, you search for symbols of “real” womanhood. This necklace is full of little triangles that represent your lady bits, which you are so in tune with–though the rest of us have a long way to go before we are truly in touch with our bodies.

High heels are high fashion and you want nothing to do with that. These brown Oxfords are simple and comfortable, not to mention they look smart.

Women are socially conditioned to think they need a handbag for all of their pieces. For you, this pink wallet will do. The color may be feminine, but you put it in your back pocket like a man.

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Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Harper Perennial (2014)
320 pages, 4 stars

ABOUT THE BOOK: Bad Feminist is a book of essays of Roxane Gay’s thoughts on feminism generally, as something that affects all women, and then more personally, how it is flawed and how being a “good” feminist isn’t all that fun sometimes.

Gay’s essays ask a lot of questions that she never really answers, like: Why do I like rap music when it’s inherently misogynistic? How can we get white feminists to care about and be educated about issues specific to women of color? I liked the open-endedness of Gay’s essays, because is there is never a simple answer to questions like these.

Gay discusses cultural issues with great knowledge, humor, and self-reflection. What makes her a bad feminist is being human, so aren’t we all bad feminists?

FASHION FRIDAY: My dear bad feminist, slip into these cotton leggings that look like pants. You can look incredibly put together, but really be dressed for yoga. They are man’s only real gift to women in the last couple of years.

Pair them with this loose fitting blouse, which evens out the look. It’s a perfect shirt for your days in the classroom, but can also transition into night time wear–should you ever go to a club and listen to music that’s not entirely in line with feminist thought.

Maybe heels are tools of the patriarchy and maybe “good” feminist don’t wear them, but you do what you want. These leather and suede booties with the metal tips make you feel powerful and sexy.

Coat your lashes with this Benefit mascara to complete the bad girl look. These earrings are pink, because, well, all of your accessories are pink. The pop of color brings some personality to your black and white outfit. Finally, this phone cover will remind you of two things: 1) You are flawless bad feminist and all, and 2) Beyonce is awesome.

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Fashion Friday: Perfume

Fashion Friday: Perfume

Perfume by Patrick Suskind
Diogenes (Germany), 1985
263 pages, 4 stars

ABOUT THE BOOK: “In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift: an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs.

But Grenouille’s genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there, and he becomes obsessed with capturing the smells of objects such as brass doorknobs and frest-cut wood. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the “ultimate perfume”—the scent of a beautiful young virgin.” —

If you want to read something that will thoroughly creep you out, THIS is the book. Don’t let the synopsis above fool you, Jean-Baptiste murders girls with a certain scent in order to capture that scent. The “ultimate perfume” is a combination of the scents of over 20 young women—leave it to a German author.

The writing is reminiscent of 19th century novels, so much so that I was surprised that this was written in 1985. It goes into the histories and futures of secondary characters, which I could have done without. But I thought the melodramatic prose was perfect for a story like this.

FASHION FRIDAY: My dear little victim, it’s the eve of your wedding, which your father has arranged to keep you safe from Jean-Baptiste. This white, lace sheath dress will work for wedding attire, it is virginal and girly just like you.

Pair it with this chic coat that will not only keep you warm, but its bright color will highlight your beauty in the grey streets of 17th century Paris. No one will be able to resist your charms. They will think it’s your beauty, your kindness, but only Jean-Baptiste knows that your secret lies in your scent.

These deep red gloves are the color of the blood you spill to obtain your ultimate perfume. Usually you are able to hide them from the world, but when something is done in haste, in desperation, you get sloppy.

These necklaces hold the two things that qualify your existence: your black heart and your perfume—dab a tiny bit of it on your wrists, and the world will lose its mind.

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Fashion Friday: Me Before You

Me Before You

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Pamela Dorman Books (Viking), 2012
369 pages, 3 stars

ABOUT THE BOOK: Lou Clark works in a tea shop and loves her job. Her boyfriend, however, she’s not so sure about. When the tea shop closes down, she’s forced to look find work as a caregiver. Little does she know that her sarcastic-pain-in-the-ass patient, Will Traynor, will mean more to her than any man she’s ever known.

This is a classic romance plot line, but with a paraplegic hero. Will Traynor lost everything because of his accident: his job, his girlfriend, his will to live. But Lou brings a spark to his life that neither of them could have foreseen with her wild ideas of how to get him out of the house. How does she get a job taking care of a paraplegic without any medical experience? Lord knows.

I really enjoyed this book on a surface level: it was a heart wrenching novel that made me laugh and cry. BUT (the resounding “but”) Lou was extremely immature and annoying throughout the book. She is 26 lives with her parents, has a boyfriend who’s an idiot, works whatever job so she can help pay bills, fights with her sister over clothes, her room, you name it. Seriously, their screaming fights were so ridiculous that I couldn’t believe these were grown women.

I was able to overlook this though because I liked Will so much. However, in the end, he disappointed me as well. All in all this was an entertaining read and definitely a tear-jerker.

FASHION FRIDAY: My dear little caregiver, everyone likes to comment on your wild style, especially your love interest. One thing people fail to notice is how the way you dress strategically covers all of your skin. This mini skirt is full of fun, distracting colors, and you pair it with sheer black tights. Paint your nails this funky purple, which is both fun and melodramatic, just like you.

This long sleeved black shirt covers your arms and chest from prying eyes. The only eyes you don’t mind prying are Will’s (and maybe your boyfriend’s). Throw this pink raincoat over your ensemble, it will keep you dry through England’s rainy season. These boots/socks will keep you warm and dry as you push Will’s wheel chair through mud, grass, and other rough patches (physical or metaphysical).

This heart necklace is a reminder that life is fleeting and upredictable and it should be filled with love.

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The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair

A great review of a book that I’m definitely putting on my list!


I love a book that keeps you guessing and has twists and turns until the very end. The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair was both.


Marcus Goldman, a young writer, has unexpected success with his first novel. He moves out of his home in New Jersey into a fancy apartment in NYC. He parties with celebrities, is recognized on the streets, and celebrated for his success. After he basks in the glory of his celebrity a bit too long, he realizes he may not be able to live up to expectations and his multi-book deal.

He’s getting pressure from all sides. And his writers block is all-consuming. He reaches out to his mentor and friend, Harry Quebert. Harry invites him up to coastal New England, in the small town of Somerset, NH. Harry found his inspiration in this tiny town, maybe it could be all Marcus needs.

Somerset not…

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Fashion Friday: Furthur Out Than You Thought

Fashion Friday: Furthur Out Than You Thought

Further Out Than You Thought by Michaela Carter
William Morrow Paperbacks, 2014
304 pages, 3 stars

ABOUT THE BOOK: “Further Out Than You Thought is a taut and erotically charged literary debut, set against the chaos of the 1992 L.A. riots, about twenty-five-year-old poet Gwendolyn Griffin works as a stripper to put herself through graduate school [and support] her perpetually stoned boyfriend Leo.

When the city explodes in violence after the Rodney King verdict, the chaos becomes a catalyst for change. Gwen, discovering she is pregnant, is confronted by troubling questions. Can Leo become a good, dependable father? Can she leave the club life behind, or will the city’s spell prove too seductive?” –

At first, I really enjoyed how descriptive and poetic the language was in Further Out Than You Thought. Despite the sordid content, the narrator manages to make her life as a stripper sound almost beautiful. However, as the book progressed, I found myself beginning to scan the parts where she “waxes poetic,” which are frequent.

I also was glad that the author didn’t shy away from sex scenes. However, she seems completely obsessed with Gwen’s life as a stripper and throughout the book describes it in great detail, but always with the qualification that she is also a student. So while the author inundates us with sexual content, we are supposed to remember that Gwen’s POV matters because she’s not just a stripper.

In addition, I thought there would be a little bit more of a history lesson on the L.A. riots of the 90s, but was disappointed. Though there is one black character that is well developed, we don’t hear explicitly how he feels about the riots. And the white characters don’t ask him! This seems like a great missed opportunity to me.

I enjoyed reading this book, because it made taboo things like transgender and bisexuality seem like the most normal thing in the world. And I feel like that should be more common. However, I wish it had done the same for race because the book uses the race riots as the background.

ABOUT THE OUTFIT: Student-poet by day, stripper by night. Your conflicting personalities, Gwen and Stevie, have conflicting ideas on what you should wear. Your girlish alter-ego loves her Mary Janes, and you’ve found some that are versatile enough to wear on the street and the stage.

Pair them with these skin tight jeans that are getting tighter everyday. This billowing sleeveless shirt will hide your swelling breasts and belly for a little while, and maybe that’s all the time you need.

Underneath, this lacy number makes you feel sexy and empowered like dancing in front of strange men does. The black eyeliner allows you to take on a whole new nighttime look, especially when using it AND the lip/cheek stain.

Your signature sent is something citrus-y, which reminds you of your long lost mother. “Stay with me” Leo says to you, but you know it doesn’t make sense. For now, you’ll handcuff him and drag him to Mexico to avoid the riots. But eventually, you’ll have to let him go.

About Michaela Carter

Michaela Carter is award-winning poet and writer. She was born in Phoenix, Arizona, studied Theater at UCLA and holds an MFA in Creative Writing. Her poetry has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, won the Poetry Society of America Los Angeles New Poets Contest, and appeared in numerous journals. Recently she co-founded the Peregrine Book Company, an independent bookstore in Prescott, Arizona, where she works as a book buyer and storyteller. She lives in Prescott with her partner and two inscrutable children, and teaches creative writing at Yavapai College. This is her first novel.

Find out more about Michaela at her website and connect with her on Facebook.

Michaela’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, August 5th: Turn the Page

Wednesday, August 6th: Love at First Book

Thursday, August 7th: More Than Just Magic

Friday, August 8th: BooksAreTheNewBlack

Monday, August 11th: The Written World

Wednesday, August 13th: A Bookish Affair

Thursday, August 14th: Bibliotica

Friday, August 15th: Books and Bindings

Monday, August 18th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, August 19th: Conceptual Reception

Wednesday, August 20th: cupcake’s book cupboard

Thursday, August 21st: Books on the Table

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Fashion Friday: Americanah

Fashion Friday: Americanah

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Knopf, May 2013
477 pages, 5 stars

About the Book: As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their

This novel is an extremely insightful and nuanced view of race in America and of how that affects relationships of all kinds. Told mostly from a Nigerian woman’s perspective (that of Ifemelu, but also Adichie herself), the story dissects race relations from an outsider’s point of view—paying attention to how African-Americans are treated differently by white people than Africans, and also how African-Americans treat Africans and vice versa.

The love story aspect of Americanah is very true to life. You all probably know how much I love romance novels, which often don’t have the weight of reality. But Obinze and Ifemelu have an intense relationship that spans decades and yet also incorporates years of silence, hurt feelings, other relationships (a marriage even), which makes it that much more real and that much more beautiful.

I’ve heard that there may be a movie made from this book, and I will be first in line!

Fashion Friday: My dear Ifem, welcome to the East Coast. The summers aren’t nearly as hot as in Nigeria, but because of the frigid winters your tolerance for heat has lessened. This cotton maxi dress will keep you cool and hug all the right curves.

These African turquoise earrings remind you of home, which inevitably reminds you of Obinze and the lazy afternoons when he became Ceiling. This deep red lipstick is a much better match for your skin than what is advertised as “great for all skin tones” (meaning shades of white) in mainstream magazines.

After a horrible incident with perming your hair, you decide to go completely natural—to the dismay of hairstylists, friends, and family. Coconut oil is a great natural hair moisturizer, though you may use many others, this is one of your favorites. You buy organic because of Blaine, your intellectual American boyfriend, who loves eating kale and quinoa and shopping at farmers markets. Before bed you cover your hair with this patterned, silk scarf to prevent breakage and to lock in moisture.

Slip these sandals on and enjoy the summer because you know you are not here to stay.

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Fashion Friday: We Need to Talk About Kevin

Fashion Friday: We Need to Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Harper Perennial, 2006
400 pages, 4 stars

ABOUT THE BOOK: We Need to Talk About Kevin is a novel of letters written by a woman to her estranged spouse. Eva writes about how she met Franklin, how they fell in love, and how he started to pressure her into having a family. Eva didn’t want to be a mother, and when her son was born she felt like there was something off about him (the book doesn’t say that she suffers from maternal mental illness, but it seems likely). Franklin was blind to Kevin’s strange behaviors because he was so excited to have a son. So when Kevin murders seven classmates, a school teacher, and cafeteria worker, Eva has to try to make sense of the tragedy and come to terms with her role in it.

This book is well written, but a little too academic in parts. I have a hard time understanding authors who think “more is more” when it comes to writing. Anyway, the story is incredible. I felt very connected to the main character even though there were times that I thought she was horrible. She’s contradictory and passionate (maybe about the wrong things), and Kevin uses all of this against her to make her feel small and stupid.

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a fascinating look at the other side of a tragedy—how a mass murderer’s actions affect his family and how his family contributed (or failed to stop) to his actions.

FASHION FRIDAY: Since you no longer have your travel writing company, you have no use for those stuffy business suits. So, throw on these jean shorts and sandals for your visit to the penitentiary. Kevin will not be glad to see you, but that’s not why you go. You go for answers that he won’t or doesn’t know how to give.

You wear these sunglasses around town so people won’t recognize you as the mother of a mass murderer. You constantly feel blamed for Kevin’s behavior, this tank top declares what you really think. You aren’t a bitch, you were made to do something you didn’t want to and because of it you have a low tolerance for BS.

This necklace, the arrow and crossbow, are a brand that you carry around since Kevin methodically killed nine people. Even if someone doesn’t recognize you, the second they hear your name, they know you are THE mother.

When you’re home alone and miss your husband, slip into one of his over-sized plaid shirts and warm yourself with the memory of his pure Americanness—something still so strange to you, yet alluring.

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Fashion Friday: The Girl in the Road

The Girl in the Road

The Girl in the Road by natalieeramm featuring a snake ring

The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne
Crown Publishing (May 2014)
336 pages, 3 stars

ABOUT THE BOOK: Meena, a young woman living in a futuristic Mumbai, wakes up with five snake bites on her chest. She doesn’t know how or why, but she must flee India and return to Ethiopia, the place of her birth. Having long heard about The Trail-an energy-harvesting bridge that spans the Arabian Sea-she embarks on foot on this forbidden bridge, with its own subculture and rules. What awaits her in Ethiopia is unclear; she’s hoping the journey will illuminate it for her.

Mariama, a girl from a different time, is on a quest of her own. After witnessing her mother’s rape, she joins up with a caravan of strangers heading across Saharan Africa. She meets Yemaya, a beautiful and enigmatic woman who becomes her protector and confidante. Yemaya tells Mariama of Ethiopia, where revolution is brewing and life will be better. Mariama hopes against hope that it offers much more than Yemaya ever promised.

As one heads east and the other west, Meena and Mariama’s fates will entwine in ways that are profoundly moving and shocking to the

I really enjoyed The Girl in the Road! One thing I loved about it is that it’s not your typical heterosexual romance gone wrong story. Also, the writer has some creative ideas for the future of reproductive health. My main problem with the book was that it was a Netgalley copy and the formatting made it difficult to read. I think if I had real Kindle version, I would have enjoyed it a lot more and given it more stars.

FASHION FRIDAY: My dear little Trail-blazer, squeeze into these black pants, which look wet like you’ve been swimming, or perhaps falling off the Trail. Pair them with these black lace up boots. You’ll be camouflage at night when you travel, which is a good thing because what you’re doing is very illegal.

This white t-shirt keeps you cool during the scorching daylight hours and covers up those snake bites that dot your chest, which are a constant reminder of your lover in Mumbai. Your heart is still with her lifeless body, and this elbow patched sweater shows that to the world because you don’t voice emotion well/ever.

This snakeskin bag (which I don’t actually like, but it matches the cover so perfectly!) holds your floating pod and all the necessary items for when you have to sink into the ocean to avoid storms and other people. In that pod you might as well be in your own world. In fact, on the trail you are in your own world.

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