“Our sex need not primarily define who we are, what we are capable of.” // Review of “The Fictional Woman” by Tara Moss #aww2016

Title: The Fictional Woman
Author: Tara Moss
Audio book narrator: Tara Moss
Genre: Memoir/Non-fiction
Date Read: 20/06/2016 – 26/06/2016
Rating: ★★★


I had been thinking for a while now that I really should be including a bit more non-fiction in my reading, and when I saw Tara Moss’ memoir available through my digital lending library, it seemed like a good place to start. It was a blog post written by Moss on the gender bias in book reviewing in Australia that gave rise to the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge, so even when I was getting a little bored with some of the content of this book, I felt I should push through in order to be able to review it properly.

Tara Moss was born in Canada and embarked on an international modelling career at the age of 16. At 25, she quit modelling and published the first in a successful crime series, and has since followed that up with many other novels. Her experiences as a woman have been many and varied, and she discusses both the labels she gives herself and the labels others have imposed upon her over her career. She combines this with social commentary on the ways women are represented in media, and provides stats and significant backup for her arguments.

I found that the strength of this book were Tara’s personal anecdotes. It was both horrifying and fascinating to hear of the ins and outs of the modelling world, the sexism she experienced in different places she was sent to work, and some other entertaining stories that she included along the way. I am fairly sure I could hear her voice breaking as she talked about being raped at age 20, by a friend (as is actually statistically more likely that the narrative of the stranger in a dark alley), and I felt a lump in my own throat as I listened to her talk about the two miscarriages she experienced, and how miscarriage is so much more common than anyone realises.

The data that she also uses in her book is extremely important and is material that should be common knowledge for everyone. If this book leads someone to the startling surprises regarding such issues as pay gaps and other gendered issues, then that is great. But for someone like me, with even a passing interest in feminism already, I found that a lot of it was stuff I already knew, and in the chapters that were more social commentary than memoir, I found myself getting bored, as I was treading familiar ground. There were times when Tara’s points of view and arguments did not entirely line up with my own, and I appreciated the opportunity to consider why I disagreed with what she said. However, this was fairly rare.

Having said that, I realise that change happens very slowly, and that with movements such as feminism, often things have to be repeated over and over before those in power really get it. So from that perspective, I do appreciate and applaud Tara Moss weighing in on this important subject.

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(This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2016. Click here for more information).

#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 29 June, 2016

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This is a blog hop hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for today, and just answer the three questions (I’m posting early, so you might have to wait a bit for the link up to go live).


What are you currently reading?

allthelightcoverI’ve started All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I’m moving slowly with it, though I do have seven hours of travel on Saturday, so in theory I could get it finished before it’s due back to the library next Wednesday. If I do have to return it, though, the queue is moving quite quickly, so I can reserve it and have it again in a couple of weeks.

catchmeifyoucancoverOn audio, I’m listening to Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale Jr. and Stan Redding. I really enjoy the movie with Leonardo di Caprio and Tom Hanks, and I absolutely loved the musical when I saw it earlier this year, so when I saw it available on Overdrive, I thought I would pick it up. I guess it’s unsurprising that a man’s memoir written in the 80s about being a teenager in the 60s is fairly sexist and gross at times… but if you can overlook that, it’s pretty entertaining so far…

wonderwomencoverI accidentally left All the Light We Cannot See on my desk at work yesterday, so last night I started Wonder Women by Sam Maggs, which I was approved for on NetGalley. While I really appreciate being made aware of these awesome women I had not heard of in many cases, I do wish the author was a little more academic and a little less snarky (I swear, there’s a “witty” aside every two sentences).

What did you recently finish reading?

nimonacoverNimona by Noelle Stevenson was very sweet, though not terribly original. I still really enjoyed it, though; the characters made it.

Nightshade by Maryrose Wood was… well, a bit weird. It felt a bit like it was trying to go dark and kind of missed and just ended up melodramatic instead.

fictionalwomancoverAnd finally,  The Fictional Woman by Tara Moss. Tara’s personal stories were definitely the strength of this book; the data analysis and social commentary felt like it was treading familiar ground. Still, an enjoyable introduction to feminism if you are looking for that sort of thing.

I also posted two reviews this week, for Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine and I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, both of which were 4.5 star reads for me.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I still have The Secret River by Kate Grenville out from the library after my library haul at the beginning of the month. I am honestly not sure whether I will enjoy it and I may not end up getting through it, but I want to give it a go.

wednesdaybannerAnd now for WIPpet Wednesday. This is another blog hop in which writers share excerpts from their current WIP that somehow relate to the date. Clicking the blue guy on the right will take you to the linkup for this one. Today is the 29th, so I took eleven lines from my Scrivener document. In this scene, Carrie is still posing as the Princess. They have arrived back at the palace, and Masden has left Carrie to the princess’ ladies’ maid to get washed up before reporting to the King that she is supposedly home.

Her face lit up when she saw Carrie. “Oh, Princess, it’s such a relief to see you’re all right!” she exclaimed. She took a couple of quick steps forward with her arms out, as though she had intended to embrace the Princess, but then seemed to remember her place and thought better of it and let her arms fall.

Carrie gave her a smile. “Hello, Maisie,” she said, hoping she sounded natural enough. It was hard to talk to a stranger and make it sound like they already knew each other well. “It’s good to see you, too.”

Maisie gave a little curtsy, a broad smile beaming on her face, then she made her way straight to the bathroom. Carrie heard her speak through the door as she ran water into a tub. “Have to get you looking presentable for your father,” Maisie commented. “If you don’t mind my saying so, your Highness, you look a bit of a sight. You could do with a bath, but we haven’t got time for that. We’ll just get your face washed before you see your father, and change your clothes. The rest of you can wait.”

Carrie had no idea how the Princess would react to that. Surely, if that sort of familiar conversation was not welcome, Maisie would not have lasted long as the Princess’ companion. And besides, the Princess Adelyn that Carrie knew went out of her way to be accepting to all people. She even believed that magic had its place, unlike her father. A talkative servant was unlikely to bother her.

Carrie settled on a vague, “Yes, that sounds good,” and continued to sit on the bed, not sure what her next move should be.

Technically, they probably shouldn’t even have running water at this point, but I do intend to revise the time period in the next draft. I will be revising a lot of things in the next draft actually. So. Much. Revision.

But that’s Future Emily’s problem. For the moment, I’m working on Lessons  Learned. I had a rather large epiphany about this one, namely that the backstory is not backstory at all, but the actual story. So I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo to make a start on that! My username is spaciireth on the site if you want to share a cabin. I’m not going to go in a random cabin but will happily hang out with blog friends.

I should head off now. Catch you all later!

~ Emily

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#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 22 June, 2016

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This is a blog hop hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for today, and just answer the three questions.


What are you currently reading?

nimonacoverAfter having it on hold for six months (no, really), I finally picked up Nimona from the library today! I’m only about 10 pages in at time of writing, but I’m already in love!

I’m also reading  Nightshade by Maryrose Wood, the sequel to the Poison Diaries, which I reviewed a while back. Like the first book, it’s very easy to read and I’m getting through it quite quickly.

On audio, I’m currently listening to The Fictional Woman by Tara Moss, which is part memoir, part social commentary on gender roles and sexual violence and other related issues. I’ve decided to try including a bit more non-fiction in my reading, and memoir seems a good in-road for that.

What did you recently finish reading?

ihuntkillerscoverI’ve actually only finished one book this week, and that was I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga. It was definitely very good, though I felt it became a bit less chilling in the second half, so my rating was 4.5. I’ll have a review up soon.

I was rather ruthless with my DNFing this week, dropping both Libriomancer by Jim Hines and WARP: The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer. It wasn’t that either book was bad, it was just that I got nearly halfway through both of them and didn’t really care about the characters or the events. I had had similar experiences with Jim Hines’ books before, so it wasn’t a complete surprise in that case, but I am a bit sad to see that I seem to have grown out of Eoin Colfer’s writing. I did love Artemis Fowl as a teenager.

Two reviews also went up this week, for Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor and Edge of Darkness by K. L. Schwengel.

What do you think you’ll read next?

allthelightcoverI picked up All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr from the library yesterday, and I probably won’t be able to renew it because the queue for it is a mile long (in spite of there being about 20 copies across our library network), so I’ll get onto it next. As it’s a popular item, I’ve only got it for two weeks rather than the standard four, so fingers crossed I get through it in time.

And now for WIPpet Wednesday. This is another blog hop in which writers share excerpts from their current WIP that somehow relate to the date. Clicking the blue guy on the right will take you to the linkup for this one. Today is the 22nd, so I have four lines from my document. Carrie is disguised as Princess Adelyn. Eli Masden knows about this, but no one else (he has his reasons for letting her get away with it. They have been traveling home, and have finally arrived at the palace.

“Don’t speak of these last few days to anyone,” [Masden] said. “I don’t want any gossip about the Princess permeating the ranks.”

Carrie didn’t notice it at first, but by the time Masden finished his sentence, she realised there was a certain tone, a resonance, to his voice that wasn’t usually there. There was a moment when he finished speaking in which all the guards were still, and then in unison replied, “Yes, sir”. It wasn’t the unison salute of trained military, but the monotonous tone of men in a trance. Carrie frowned.

Looks like the Princess isn’t the only one whose mind Eli is messing with.

I’ve reached 50k on this WIP now and am having a little break from it. In the meantime, I’m working on Lessons Learned (remember that other one I’ve shared from, with the immortal woman and the ghost of her former lover?). I’m brainstorming at the moment, so I’ll probably still share from Worlds Apart for a while, while I find my groove with that other story again.

~ Emily

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