sewcialist_librarian's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No


ejm290's review against another edition

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adventurous inspiring lighthearted medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No


lmcg614's review against another edition

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adventurous inspiring fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No


fancypantsbooks's review against another edition

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samanthaisonline's review against another edition

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The Radical Element, sequel to an anthology I haven't read yet, is probably one of my highest rated anthologies every. It's pretty hard to go wrong when you're writing historical fiction about badass diverse girls.

Daughter of the Book by Dahlia Adler - 4
Our Jewish protagonist, Rebekah, wants an education. However, growing up female in 1838 Savannah, Georgia puts a bit of a stopper on that. Naturally, she fights back.

You're a Stranger Here by Mackenzie Lee - 4.5
Vilatte, a Mormon girl who is grappling with her faith, faces severe hatred and terror on account of her Mormonism. Beautifully written.

The Magician by Erin Bowman - 5
Ray, a girl pretending to be a boy so she can remain employable, is clever. The writing is too - tying in magic vocabulary throughout the story. My favorite story in the anthology.

Lady Firebrand by Megan Shepherd - 4
Rose, a white northerner in a wheelchair and Pauline, a kickass black girl, are undercover in the South with Rose's confederate family. And there happens to be a man called Lord Firebrand sabotaging confederate plans...

Step Right Up by Jessica Spotswood - 3.5
Perfectly serviceable story. Girl has abusive uncle. Girl runs away to join circus. I didn't really click with any of the characters.

Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore - 4.5
Girls in Graciela's family have always been able to look white with a little bit of magic, just long enough to acquire medicine or other things that merchants wouldn't sell to their family. But Graciela's using it to become Grace, a girl who can become a Hollywood star. I enjoyed that this addressed the issues of 1920s Hollywood as well as the PTSD of war. The prose, as always with McLemore's writing, is stunning. I will say, though, that their stories are a little repetitive. Latina girl falls in love with trans boy. Literally every time. (Not that there's anything wrong with that! It just takes the wind out of the plot twists sometimes!)

Better for All the World by Marieke Nijkamp - 4
Carrie wants to be a lawyer. Carrie is also a coded-autistic girl in 1927. Loved that this story took an explicitly anti-eugenics stance.

When the Moonlight Isn't Enough by Dhonielle Clayton - 5
"Before the war, moonlight used to taste like sugar and butter and fresh cream." This is how you open a story!!!
Some things I loved about this story
- the prose
- immortal black people as commentary on how America treats black people
- tuck everlasting vibes
- "i like history with a teaspoon of magic" SAME

The Belle of the Ball by Sarvenaz Tash - 4
Rosemary wants to be a writer. Rosemary's mother wants her to be a proper 1950s girl. What's a girl to do? Okay story. Sorta saved by the extremely lovable latino love interest.

Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee - 4.5
Lana, a girl of Japanese and Chinese descent, goes to a talent competition and absolutely kills it. I love her. Definitely a great read.

The Birth of Susi Go-Go by Meg Medina -3
Maybe it's because I just don't like the 70s that I don't really care about the story or maybe I am right in believing that the character is a little shallow. Idk I've read the "my parents don't understand American culture so I rebel" story 1000 times and I've definitely read better versions of it.

Take Me With U by Sara Farizan - 3
I feel the same way with this story as with the previous one. I don't care about the 80s. I feel no connection to the copious music references. Just didn't love it.

I have to say, for a book about "radical girls" in American history, it is oddly lacking in Native American and queer women.

On average, my rating for this book is 4.08, which is remarkably high for me rating an anthology.

invioletshadows's review against another edition

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I adored this anthology, though admittedly not quite as much as the first. I will say that my favorites in this one (I think) are going to stick with me for a long time, which I can’t necessarily say is true of the first one. So while I feel A Tyranny of Petticoats had more consistently good stories, the ones that were stellar in this one were really stellar. If you’re looking for diverse, badass, renegade girls, these anthologies are for you. Each of these stories takes a girl’s story from the past and shows how, despite every systemic odd being against them, women throughout history were strong, empowered, and brave. You can read my full review here -

luciereads's review against another edition

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I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.

Based on the first few stories I wasn't sure I was going to like this anthology but it appears the best ones were just later on. I really enjoyed this anthology and how all the authors took the whole premise of "The Radical Element" and used it to expose stories many of us might not know. I appreciated how all the girls featured were "radical" in small ways, most of them didn't do anything super crazy, but they were independent thinkers and able to rebel in their own small ways. A lot of these stories covered topics I didn't know too much about as well, which has spurred further research on my part and I can imagine it would do the same for many other readers. Individual reviews for each story are below:

Daughter of the book by Dahlia Adler - 3 stars
I really never thought about how Jewish education might've been for girls

You're A Stranger Here by Mackenzi Lee - 3 stars,
This was just kind of boring for the most part and by the time I started getting into the story it was over.

The Magician by Erin Bowman - 3.5 stars, I didn't really like the main character at all, but the story kept me pretty engaged and the writing was well done until the last line which felt very out of place

Lady Firebrand by Megan Shepard - 3.5 stars, An interesting idea but the story was just too much crammed into to few pages.

Step Right Up by Jessica Spotswood - 4 stars, The best story yet, I really liked the descriptions of the circus and this did bring tears to my eyes.

Glamour by Anna Marie McleMore - 5 stars, The best story by far! I really loved this one, and it features everything I love: magical realism, beautiful writing, and diversity

Better For All The World by Marieke Nijkamp - 4 stars, A good story and taught me something about eugenics which I know very little about. I also appreciate that this story was told from the perspective of someone on the autism spectrum.

When Moonlight Isn't Enough by Dhonielle Clayton - 4 stars, an interesting story and I appreciated the authors note for this one.

The Belle of The Ball by Sarvenaz Tash - 4 stars, I appreciated the I Love Lucy reference

Land of The Sweet, Home of The Brave by Stacey Lee - 4 stars, short and sweet (heh)

The Birth of Susi Go-Go by Meg Medina - 4 stars, This was definitely one of the "quieter" stories, but I thought it was interesting to have a glimpse of a a girl in the Cuban exile community in the 70s

Take Me With U by Sara Farizan - 4 stars, A great end to the anthology.

mallodoragrymm's review against another edition

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I was introduced to Jessica Spotswood through her first anthology project A Tyranny of Petticoats, which featured 15 stories about badass women. I don’t remember much of it, but I know I gave it a 3/5 rating because the stories were good and fantastical, but nothing special or memorable for me. I decided to give this one a go since I’m into anthologies lately, and to see if these are better than the first collection. I wasn’t disappointed, but neither was I thrilled.

The stories range from early 19th to late 20th century, all set in USA, and each one featuring a girl or a woman who makes a radical change in her life, be it for her personal gain or the greater good. Each of these women is trodden down by misogyny, racism, religious bigotry, or simply her parents’ strict and cultural views, but each one wins, or gets what she wants in a certain way.

These stories are equally good as in the first collection, but unfortunately (for me) there’s much, much less magical and supernatural in this one – almost none.

The Stories

Daughter of the Book (1838, Savannah, Georgia) – Dahlia Adler

An interesting story about the challenges Jewish women faced in their closed community, not allowed to learn and do as much as men. 4/5

You’re a stranger here (1844, Nauvoo, Illinois) – Mackenzi Lee

A portray of the terrible ordeal Mormons went through around the time their leader, Joseph Smith, was murdered, and how difficult it was to preserve their belief and persevere through constant persecution. 3/5

The Magician (1858, Colorado River, New Mexico Territory) – Erin Bowman

A young orphan girl cheats in cards and poses as a boy to get a better pay, trying to collect enough money to go search for her family. 3.5/5

Lady Firebrand (1863, Charleston, South Carolina) – Megan Shepherd

This one was my favorite. Rose, a rich white girl in a wheelchair, and Pauline, her African American friend posing as a maid travel to south in the middle of the Civil War, where they become Union spies, duping the Confederates by destroying their weapon supplies. 5/5

Step right up (1905, Tulsa, Indian Territory) – Jessica Spotswood

This one is about a girl who dreams of becoming a tightrope walker and joining the circus, while coping with her abusive stepfather and indifferent mother. 4/5

Glamour (1923, Los Angeles, California) – Anna-Marie McLemore

During the golden age of Hollywood, a Latina girl tries her best to change herself, her roots, and her skin so she can fit in with the American belles and become a star. 3/5

Better for all the world (1927, Washington, D.C.) – Marieke Nijkamp

This one is about mental illness, at the time still not researched enough, and even feared of, which drove the people and the state to commit some horrible and unforgiving acts like convicting a girl to sterilization so she can’t spread the illness by reproduction. 3/5

When the moonlight isn’t enough (1943, Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts) – Dhonielle Clayton

African American family of three persists for 200 years by preserving and drinking moonlight. They spend several years in one place, then run away in fear of people uncovering their secret. They plan to do so again, as WW2 is raging over the Atlantic, but their daughter is tired of running and being 16 for two consecutive centuries. 4/5

The belle of the ball (1952, Brooklyn, New York) – Sarvenaz Tash

The 1950s in USA weren’t known as a place equal for men and women, which Rosemary feels on her own skin as she struggles to become a comedy script writer against the conservative and bigoted mind of her family and elders. 3/5

Land of the sweet, home of the brave (1955, Oakland, California) – Stacey Lee

A Japanese girl competes at a talent show where the main prize is to have your image featured on the sugar packaging, and she beats some racial prejudice ass along the way. 4/5

The birth of Susi go-go (1972, Queens, New York) – Meg Medina

An interesting story of Susana, a Cuban refugee, struggling between her religious and prejudiced parents’ approval and the desire to fit in with an entirely different culture. 4/5

Take me with U (1984, Boston, Massachusetts) – Sara Farizan

Sohelia was sent by her parents from Iran to her cousins’ home in Boston to escape the war. She copes with her longing and loss by making friends and joining a punk band against the wishes of her prejudiced aunt. 3.5/5

While these stories were diverse regarding the characters (which was the point of this anthology), this one didn’t feel as particularly diverse with settings and the stories as was the first collection. Because of that I was bored while reading a few entries, they simply lacked something. Nevertheless, I still plan to read Spotswood’s next collection, Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft, because I prefer supernatural stories, and that one seems more suitable for me.

A thank-you to Netgalley for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The review is also available on my blog Books of Magic

viccro's review against another edition

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I liked some of the stories and was underwhelmed by others. All in all, a nice short collection.

danielletepool's review against another edition

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I absolutely loved A Tyranny of Petticoats, I was super excited to see this book come out. Unfortunately this book did not hold the same charm for me as the first one. There weren't any stories that I really disliked; there just weren't too many stories that I loved.

1. Daughter of the Book by Dahlier Adler - 3 stars ★★★

2. You're A Stranger Here by Mackenzi Lee - 4 stars ★★★★

3. The Magician by Erin Bowman - 4 stars ★★★★

4. Lady Firebrand by Megan Shepherd – 4 stars ★★★★

5. Step Right Up by Jessica Spotswood - 3 stars ★★★

6. Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore - 3 stars ★★★

7. Better For All the World by Marieke Nijkamp - 5 stars ★★★★★
*This was my favorite story*

8. When The Moon Isn’t Enough by Dhonielle Clayton – 3 stars ★★★

9. The Belle of the Ball by Sarvenaz Tash – 5 stars ★★★★★

10. Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee – 4 stars ★★★★

11. The Birth of Susi Go-Go by Meg Medina – 3 stars ★★★

12. Take Me With U by Sara Farizan – 3 stars ★★★

Overall: This book earned 44/60 stars, which is an average of 3.67 stars. Unfortunately I can't do half stars on Goodreads, or I would probably give this a 3.5. I'll just round up for my overall rating to 4 stars ★★★★