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When Women Were Dragons
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
89 posts | 73 read | 72 to read
A slyly funny, utterly original, triumphantly feminist audiobook, by the Newbery award-winning author of The Girl Who Drank the Moon, about the Mass Dragoning of 1955 in which 300,000 women spontaneously transform into dragons...and change the world. Alex Green is a young girl in a world much like ours. But this version of 1950's America is characterized by a significant event: The Mass Dragoning of 1955, when hundreds of thousands of ordinary wives and mothers sprouted wings, scales and talons, left a trail of fiery destruction in their path, and took to the skies. Seemingly for good. Was it their choice? What will become of those left behind? Why did Alex's beloved Aunt Marla transform but her mother did not? Alex doesn't know. It's taboo to speak of, even more so than her crush on Sonja, her schoolmate. Forced into silence, Alex nevertheless must face the consequences of dragons: a mother more protective than ever; a father growing increasingly distant; the upsetting insistence that her aunt never even existed; and a new "sister" obsessed with dragons far beyond propriety. Through loss, rage, and self-discovery, this story follows Alex's journey as she deals with the events leading up to and beyond the Mass Dragoning, and her connection with the phenomenon itself. In this timely and timeless speculative novel, award-winning author Kelly Barnhill boldly explores rage, memory, and the limitations of girlhood. When Women Were Dragons exposes a world that wants to keep women small--their lives and their prospects--and examines what happens when they rise en masse and take up the space they deserve.
LibraryThing
review
Kimberlone
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Mehso-so

If I hadn‘t used an Audible credit, I would‘ve DNF‘d this, but I felt obligated to finish. The premise sounded pretty interesting (alternate history in which women have the power to turn into dragons) in theory, but the execution did not live up to expectations. Sort of a coming of age story, but the overall theme is just Patriarchy = BAD. The level of suspension of disbelief needed to accept the society-level ignorance/amnesia is laughable.

CatLass007 You do know that you can return a book to Audible within a year of purchase and get your credit back, don‘t you? There was a lawsuit a few years ago. 1mo
Kimberlone @CatLass007 yes I am aware! Last time I tried it was too long since purchase to get a refund but I might try again with this. 1mo
Kimberlone @CatLass007 thanks for the reminder! I was able to return and get back my credit! 1mo
See All 7 Comments
CatLass007 You‘re welcome. I‘m glad you were able to get your credit back! 1mo
ICantImReading I remember being disappointed in this one! The premise had seemed so great! 😕 1mo
Kimberlone @ICantImReading the whole time I kept forcing myself to keep listening I was just hoping it would get better. Nothing happens in this book! 1mo
SamAnne It should have been a short story, not a novel. I would have DNFd if it wasn‘t a book club read. (edited) 1mo
68 likes7 comments
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Matilda
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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14 likes1 stack add
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monalyisha
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Pickpick

This isn‘t a subtle novel…but I loved it. I was a bit wary because dragons typically aren‘t my thing; Barnhill‘s writing won me over completely. I think the way she intersperses the narrative with “scientific text” about the phenomenon of Dragoning was inspired & well-done. Reading it felt cathartic. The last third of the book fell short for me (particularly the end). While comforting, it got a bit goofy. Still, I‘m wholly willing to overlook it.

RebelReader My book group read this a few months ago and most felt like you do about it. Good in a weird way! 3mo
monalyisha @RebelReader I read it for book club, too! One of my friends *hated* it. My Assistant Director at the library also read it for book club and she strongly disliked it. I loved it (until that last chunk, which I‘m going to — ironically — quietly forget about 😅). 3mo
Sapphire This on my TBR 3mo
60 likes3 comments
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angieinwonderland
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
Pickpick

I thought I would remember what I wanted to write about this, but it was too much of an emotional roller-coaster to have held onto such things. It was sorrow, it was rage, it was inspiration, it was love and beauty.

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DinoMom
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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@CuriousG I love it all. Thanks for the bonus book! I can‘t wait to read all of these. So much fun. The caramels will not last long. Thanks you so much!

#hauntedhallowsswap @wanderinglynn thanks for hosting

wanderinglynn Love it! 🎃🖤👻🧡 4mo
CuriousG Glad you like the books. And hopefully you have a good door frame for the spider web. It was so cute I ordered one for my house too! Lol 4mo
DinoMom @CuriousG my son has claimed the spider web and has put it in his bedroom door. It is super cute. 4mo
35 likes3 comments
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Eorrlopez
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
Pickpick

This lit my feminist fire. A wonderful coming of age story.

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Nessavamusic
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Mehso-so

I wanted to like this more, it is so well intentioned. However, it was a bit dull and slow, to the point I almost DNF‘d it. Also every plot choice and message is so obvious and heavy handed. Not terrible, but not as strong a message as it could have been. 3⭐️

#Roll100 read done! #Scarathlon #HHC 7 Hours
58 words
@bookmarktavern @dabbe @liatrek @jessclark78 @chrissyreadit @thedaysgoby @vonnie862 @ladyCait84 @sresendez12 @kelli7990 @JessieKB ⬇️

47 likes5 comments
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Pedrocamacho
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Mehso-so

There is a lot to like in this book; the concept, for example. It reminded me of “The Power”, but different and interesting. However, the characters seemed too saccharine, at times, and I found that frustrating.

SamAnne I felt I would have liked it as a short story. There wasn‘t enough there for a novel. 6mo
Pedrocamacho Yeah, that sounds right to me, @SamAnne. I do think that were some interesting questions yet to consider, but they weren‘t explored 6mo
SamAnne @Pedrocamacho yes, agreed. 6mo
18 likes3 comments
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BookBr
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Pickpick

I just…what a beautiful book, what a FULL book. A wonderful richness of language, character, and story. There‘s a strong undercurrent of anger — a warning of what can happen when we ignore our past, and turn a blind eye to the present. But also, a story of family, and the strength of the bonds of love that we form not just by obligation, but by choice. And the choice we can make, to live a life bigger than ourselves. Really remarkable.

13 likes2 stack adds
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RebelReader
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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I have a super busy weekend. Two softball games, one football game in Iowa on Saturday and the Minnesota State Fair on Sunday, but I have book group on Monday night so I must finish this book. That‘s my modest goal for this readathon.

AmyG You got this! 6mo
Mollyanna Have a great time at the fair. I miss the Minnesota State Fair! I need to head back home for it soon. 6mo
RebelReader @Mollyanna I haven‘t been in about 6or 7 years and the weather is gonna be only about 80 with low humidity so I figured the stars have aligned and I desperately want a pronto pup! 😋 6mo
Mollyanna Now I want a pronto pup! 😋 6mo
Andrew65 Best of luck 😁 Sounds a very busy weekend. 6mo
32 likes5 comments
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mrsmarch
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Came off Libby hold when I wasn‘t expecting it! I always end up loving magical realism, and the reviews are amazing, so I‘m looking forward to it! 🐉

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Cinfhen
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Pickpick

This was a recent #AudibleDailyDeal - I‘m still trying to decide why I‘m feeling ambivalent about this book. Some pacing issues for me and maybe some less than subtle messages from the author felt too heavy handed. It did give me Lessons in Chemistry vibes, so that‘s a plus! Between a pick and so-so. How crazy is my book cover - flower match?!? 💜 #CoverCrush

julesG Your flowers are gorgeous! 7mo
squirrelbrain You always have such beautiful flowers! 🌸 7mo
Cinfhen Thanks so much @julesG @squirrelbrain flowers are my therapy 😉❣️ 7mo
See All 11 Comments
Megabooks Gorgeous photo! 7mo
Leniverse I bailed on this one. I liked it at first, but seeing everything through the eyes of an ignorant teenager who had been conditioned to never question anything became really frustrating after a while. 7mo
Soubhiville Perfect match! 7mo
TrishB I really loved this one. 7mo
Cinfhen Ha! I‘m definitely an outlier @TrishB but I wish the author did more with the story. It just didn‘t work as a 400 page book🤷🏼‍♀️ Definitely @Leniverse I kept thinking what kid doesn‘t look outside when a teacher forbids it?? Like of course, I‘m taking a peek the first chance I get😂 Alex just accepted EVERYTHING - it was frustrating!!! 7mo
Cinfhen Thanks @Megabooks @Soubhiville maybe the book cover was subconsciously drawing me to purchase purple flowers the other day🤷🏼‍♀️ 7mo
SamAnne I would have liked it as a short story. For me didn‘t work as a longer novel. Not enough there. 7mo
Cinfhen Exactly @SamAnne not enough there!! 7mo
79 likes1 stack add11 comments
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Deblovestoread
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Pickpick

Last book of July. I enjoyed this story even though I had to suspend belief a bit. I especially appreciated her observations regarding time. #14books14weeks

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Deblovestoread
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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#WeeklyForecast

Loving the tagged book on audio. Really liking Close to Home although the cover is awful. Just started A Big Ship and will be starting these August buddy reads.

Cinfhen I‘m kind of drawn to that cover - it‘s disturbing 😳 makes me want to know more 7mo
50 likes1 comment
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Clare-Dragonfly
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Pickpick

This is a very interesting book. I didn‘t love it, but I liked it enough to be happy to race through it in time for my book club discussion—and I definitely think it will make a good discussion. What happens when women, apparently as part of a normal but unpredictable and far from universal biological process, turn into dragons? The book was slow paced and short on “why,” but that‘s OK. Wonderful characters.

Hope the pic with flowers loads 🤞🏻

Tamra Gorgeous blooms! 7mo
Clare-Dragonfly @Tamra Thank you! They‘re from the pick-your-own garden at my local CSA! 7mo
Cinfhen Love this photo and I agree there is plenty to discuss 7mo
Clare-Dragonfly @Cinfhen Thank you! It was indeed a good discussion. I will have to remember it when asked for book club recommendations in the future! 7mo
27 likes4 comments
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Ahw06
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Pickpick

This book was well written and covered a variety of topics regarding our society and how it views differences in gender, race, sexual orientation and even variances in family units. It was nice to read about such serious topics and have a bit of levity added to them (insert dragons), while still maintaining the severity of the situations that many people face on a daily basis. This one will definitely be a re-read!
4.5⭐️

Cinfhen Great review 7mo
Ahw06 @Cinfhen thank you 😊 7mo
20 likes2 comments
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SamAnne
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Panpan

My least favorite read of the year. In my view, this could have been a fun and interesting short story, maybe novella. A fun premise but it couldn‘t carry a 400 page book. I sped read the last 150 pages just because it was a for a book club. Only reason it wasn‘t a DNF for me.

TrishB lol 😁 I loved this book. 8mo
Tamra I tried and bailed too. I agree, perhaps a short story. 8mo
SamAnne @TrishB I think I‘m in more of the #unpopularopinion. A couple people in my book club felt like I did and others really loved it. 8mo
marleed Oh I love a bookclub discussion when some loved and others just couldn‘t with a book! 8mo
TrishB I love the differences too- that‘s what we read for! All experience it differently. 8mo
68 likes5 comments
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mlwayers
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill

Memory is a strange thing. It reorganizes and connects. It provides context and clarity; it reveals patterns and divergences. It finds the holes in the universe and stitches them closed, tying the threads together in a tight, unbreakable knot. I learned this from my mother. And now I will teach it to you.

SamAnne Oof. Plan to start this one this weekend. 9mo
3 likes1 comment
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mlwayers
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill

They were beautiful, these girls. They were so, so beautiful. And maybe so was I. I lifted my arms and began to twirl. It felt so good, just for second, to let go. Completely.

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mlwayers
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill

Was I the immovable object, or was I the unstoppable force? Perhaps I was both. Perhaps this is what we learn from our mothers.

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BarbaraJean
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Pickpick

I don‘t think Kelly Barnhill can write a bad book. I‘ve thoroughly enjoyed everything I‘ve read of hers, and this is another win. Fascinating premise: hundreds of thousands of women became dragons in the “Mass Dragoning” of 1955. Now no-one talks about it, and doing so is considered obscene and anti-American. (Continued ⬇️)

BarbaraJean The story is both infuriating & thoroughly enjoyable as we follow Alex‘s growing up wondering about her aunt who dragoned and her mother who did not. As always, Barnhill‘s parallels to current issues are spot-on but unforced. Loved this, and looking forward to discussing it with my book group next week. 9mo
51 likes1 stack add1 comment
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Cazxxx
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Pickpick

I‘ve had a fantastic reading week, I gave all of these 4 ⭐️ and thoroughly enjoyed them all. I think my favourite was The ghost woods, a creepy gothic horror which was right up my street and such a page turner although I can‘t stop thinking how great it would be if spontaneous dragoning was actually a thing!

TrishB Yes that would be fab 🐉 9mo
Cazxxx @TrishB would be fantastic 😃 9mo
54 likes1 stack add2 comments
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Cazxxx
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Doing some calligraphy while listening to the tagged book which I‘m loving!

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AprilMae
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Today #bookhaul

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BarbaraJean
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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“…maybe this is the same with all of us—our best selves and our worst selves and our myriad iterations of mediocre selves are all extant simultaneously within a soul containing multitudes.”

Cathythoughts Wow ❤️ 9mo
39 likes1 comment
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BarbaraJean
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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“Embarrassment, as it turns out, is more powerful than information. And shame is the enemy of truth.”

41 likes2 stack adds
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Valhalla
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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7 likes1 stack add
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MissHel
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Pickpick

This was a beautiful book. It was sweet and loving and the characters felt real, but it was written as a memoir so there were parts that were unresolved. I picked it up initially to review it for our Winter Read for next year, and I‘m so glad that I did. When Women Were Dragons will stick with me. #pop23 #bookaboutafamily (pictured are ducks from the hardware store for cute tax)

Ruthiella Adorable! 🦆❤️ 10mo
Clwojick Just a big ol‘ pile of ducklings 😍😱 10mo
squirrelbrain Cute! ❤️ 10mo
OriginalCyn620 So cute!! 💛 10mo
20 likes4 comments
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MissHel
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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This has been a busy week full of emotional hangovers. I have so many things that I should be doing, but all I want to do is get back to this story. I‘m going to take me, my book, and my snack to bed.

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MissHel
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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After a very long day yesterday, I decided to start this. I am so happy that this is as long as it is. I am absolutely loving it.

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ItsAnotherJen
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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"Sometimes, I feel that we are all tricked by love, and its rigid requirement of pain. We find the love of our lives and cleave to our beloved when we are still quite young and do not yet understand that we must, by our nature, die someday. In any successful marriage, one partner must face the reality of being very old, and very alone. What is grief, but love that‘s lost its object?"

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LadyCait84
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Pickpick

Liked this one quite a bit — though admittedly loved the premise so much I perhaps expected to like it even more?

53 likes1 stack add
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BookBr
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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ICantImReading
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Mehso-so

⭐️⭐️⭐️

This novel has some great quotable passages and timely commentary on the weight of silence and forgetting as well as the power in remembrance and knowledge. I wished certain things had been developed differently - a wider lens with more diversity, more nuance, more dragoning. I do love the luscious cover! 🎧

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Soubhiville
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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I just finished a reread for bookclub and loved it just as much the second time. The author has such a way with words, I found myself jotting down quote after quote. Looking forward to the discussion!

74 likes3 stack adds
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kanwillcutyou
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill

Or maybe they just all preferred the company of girls. And really. Why wouldn't they?

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cottagelantern
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
Bailedbailed

DNF'd
I bought this book because Barnhill did the MFA I'm looking into. A disappointment, to say the least. What is so frustrating to me is that her writing is captivating - but the story/characters are PAINFULLY bad. The women are completely flat and boring as characters - so static, and such a poor representation. And the metaphoric aspect? Well, it'd be like if Lewis wrote Aslan with an asterisk saying “By the way, he's supposed to be Jesus“.

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Addison_Reads
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Pickpick

Even though it took me a while to finish this book I ended up loving it. To frame a feminist novel as a fantasy read complete with dragons was genius.

This would make an excellent book club read. I highly recommend this one even if you don't typically read fantasy.

47 likes1 stack add
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Johanna414
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Pickpick

Working on finishing a few books I've had going awhile this week before I dive into some February romances. This book was just one big metaphor, but i still loved it. Beatrice was my favorite! #audioknitting

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Johanna414
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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I swear the kids and I have been sick for a month straight... just one bug after another. We're all feeling crummy today but did get out in the snow for a bit of sledding. I spent the rest of the day listening to the tagged audio and knitting yet another hat. #audioknitting

Read4life I hope all of you feel better soon 💙 13mo
Tamra Lovely colors! 13mo
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks I hope you all feel better soon ❤️‍🩹 13mo
charl08 Get well soon! 13mo
BethM Feel better! 13mo
50 likes5 comments
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ElleMNOpe
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Pickpick

Fantastical & emotional. Beautifully written allegory that celebrates acceptance of self in a highly feminist telling. The writing is gorgeous & lyrical with amazing interpersonal relationships between female characters. The plot is occasionally a little repetitive & slow-paced, but it feels as if it is simply like a way to “circle back“ & reinforce ideas as the story progresses. Barnhill's intentions felt wholesome & welcoming. A lovely read.

16 likes1 stack add
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bookishdawg
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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“How do we remember the moments when we fall apart?” 💔🔥

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TrishB
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Pickpick

Loved this book and it‘s hard to describe adequately why. It‘s feminist and thought provoking, but there is love (both family and romantic) and hope and dragons and smash the patriarchy and social justice. Yeah, I just loved it.
And I had the perfect bookmark.
#booked2023 #titlestartswithw

LaraReads Great review! 💜💚 13mo
DGRachel I checked this out from the library last year and just didn‘t get to it. Clearly, I need to rectify that soon! It sounds amazing. 13mo
Dragon Love your bookmark 💚🐉 13mo
See All 15 Comments
CBee I loved this book so much. Your review is perfect! 13mo
Cathythoughts Great review ♥️ 13mo
charl08 Great bookmark matching! 13mo
LeahBergen Yep, your bookmark game is perfect. 👍 13mo
Cinfhen Sounds AWESOME 🐉💜and I love both the cover & bookmark 😁 13mo
FountainOfWords Saw someone reading this in a coffee shop yesterday. Title got me intrigued. Need to check it out 😀 (edited) 13mo
batsy Love the bookmark pairing! 🐉 13mo
Reggie That sounds like a lot awesome all together. 13mo
TrishB @Dragon @charl08 @LeahBergen @batsy who doesn‘t love a dragon bookmark ❤️ 13mo
Centique Feminism and dragons - that‘s everything I want in a book! (Unless there was also a chance of cake 🍰😂) Stacking! 13mo
TrishB @Centique 😂 didn‘t notice cake, but the rest was brilliant! 13mo
121 likes7 stack adds15 comments
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TrishB
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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#quicklunctimeread and my Wednesday lunch time treat!
This book is great 😁

Hooked_on_books When I glanced at this, I thought the title was, “When Women Were Dangerous,” and thought, aren‘t we still? 😉 13mo
GondorGirl This book was SO FREAKING GOOD! 13mo
TrishB @Hooked_on_books that could be a subtitle! With your added bit. 13mo
TrishB @GondorGirl I know!! Why isn‘t everyone reading it 🤷‍♀️ loving it so much. 13mo
staci.reads I loved this book! 13mo
96 likes3 stack adds5 comments
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staci.reads
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Pickpick

This was my last book of 2022. It was strange, and I wasn't always sure where the author was going, but I loved it!

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Writeme
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Pickpick

Lovely and strange alternative history where thousands of women in the 1950s change into dragons in a rebellion against the patriarchy. It‘s an awfully long extended metaphor for the feminist movement, but a fascinating look at what the world might look like if women took their power away from the men.

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Deblovestoread
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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I am so excited to have received this book for #Jolabokaflod and can‘t wait to dive into it and all the lovely chocolate. Thank you, Jamie!

Thank you, Chelle, for hosting this swap and also for introducing this tradition that my family and I now include in our traditions.

Wishing you both a very happy holiday!

JamieArc Enjoy! Happy Jolabokaflod! 1y
57 likes2 stack adds1 comment
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Brooke_H
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Pickpick

A beautiful genre-busting historical fiction/fantasy/alternate universe story. What would the world look like if a lot of women sometimes just...turned into dragons? There is a lot of darkness in this book, but also so much joy. It is absurd and remarkably poignant, and I loved it.

20 likes3 stack adds
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CaitlinR
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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Pickpick

I read a lot of feminist lit in my late teens, early twenties (a long time ago) It “spoke” to me in such exciting ways. For that reason, I continue to read new iterations, but mainly find them tiring. This novel, with its ridiculous, fantastical premise spoke like those books did in the early 70‘s, largely due to young Alex‘s voice. Set in the ‘50‘s & 60‘s, there has been a mass “dragoning” as (largely) women escape their their lives. Great read!

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Brooke_H
When Women Were Dragons | Kelly Barnhill
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I love Feminist Book Club subscription box delivery day! This month‘s theme is Joy. ☺️