X is for Kiss of the Spiderwoman. I went round the entire fiction section(s) of my library last year searching for an X I could bear to read. This was one of them, the best, and I reckoned I could get away with it for X on my own blog.

The plan for the month is to feature daily a book I’ve reviewed in the past (or review it that day), and also highlight others: not all are included each day.

  • review/featured
  • spacetime challenge (I host this reading challenge – you can join here)
  • middle grade (childrens) choice
  • series (love a good series – there’s a challenge for finishing those, too)
  • ‘notable’ reads
  • ‘outstanding’ books
  • my books!

Featured Book: X (Kiss) of the Spiderwoman by Manuel Puig

I would never have read Kiss of the Spiderwoman if I hadn’t been blown away by the musical. If I hadn’t had a really difficult week, working with managers caught up in a redundancy situation, I might not have gone to see the musical. I needed something to really take my mind off the stresses of the week – and it was a choice between Kiss of the Spiderwoman (Kander & Ebb) and Assassins (Sondheim).

How Kander and Ebb turned this book into a musical I don’t know, but it was absolutely brilliant, and contains some of my very favourite numbers.

It works because… two very unalike characters are thrown together in a South American jail. One for ‘corrupting a minor.’ The other for crimes against the state. A protestor, freedom fighter, whatever you’d like to call him. And he’s being tortured. And hates gays, or at least professes to despise them. But Molina is a kind person. He tends to the Valentin’s torture wounds, and takes his mind off his pain the only way he can think of, by telling stories of his favourite films. These are from the silver screen, romantic, scenic, dramatic. And in spite of himself, Valentin starts to enjoy them. In fact the whole key to this show or book is the changing relationship between the two men.

And the ending.

The book is slightly less dramatic, but more detailed in the stories of the films…which can pall, although many sweep you up. It allows more development of the characters backgrounds, and only a slight change to what I assumed Molina was doing–which came as a shock. The ending is more drawn out, and therefore sadder, and somewhat ambiguous. I think you need to assume the end of the musical to really be sure that the book ends as I think it does!

I’m really grateful I’ve experienced both. But I might not have finished the book if I hadn’t seen the musical.

And this is pretty much my review of the book, so the link here is to Goodreads.

Spacetime Challenge

xeelee vengeance

As I said, I went all the way around my library, searching for X’s. In the scifi section my heart leapt for joy. A whole series called Xeelee! So Xeelee Vengeance was last year’s offering for X. It’s excellent technically, especially on its planetary science. It’s broad, sweeping and good space opera. The characters are pretty much flat as a pancake. If you need an X in scifi, here it is. I’m not reading any of the others, in fact I got bored with it at about 75% of a thick book with a very small font, and decided I had better things to do than finish it.

Middle Grade Reads

Middle Grade abounds with stories of people named X. Boy X is a good story of a boy isolated on an island with secrets. Nanny X sounds good, but I haven’t read it, and Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Motomoro #1) comes up as the GMGR group’s choice for X as often as they can pick it. I think that’s worth reading, but I couldn’t get hold of a reasonably priced copy. There’s also a Hardy Boys novel called X-plosion. I’ve never read a Hardy Boys novel, but I know they were very popular in the US when I was just out of the reading age for them.


A Spell for Chameleon

Piers Anthony does a very good start to a series set on the planet Xanth in A Spell for Chameleon. I read this for my A to Z Challenge on World-building. Xanth was the only planet I could find at the time. I was going to read more of them, but ….

Notable Books

I note books that fit the X of my Alphabet Challenges whenever I see them. Frighteningly, the only ones worth mentioning are the ones still on my TBR. I might just read them one day if I have to. Spy X, Pilot X, X (Kinsey Milhone 24), X-men franchise books, X Factor…

And no, I don’t have a title of my own starting with X. It’s an idea, though.

That’s all for today, so come back tomorrow for more. I’m hoping to meet more people who like the same kinds of book, so feel free to recommend something you’ve read beginning with the letter of the day!

X of the Spiderwoman | #A2ZChallenge23
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11 thoughts on “X of the Spiderwoman | #A2ZChallenge23

  • 28 April, 2023 at 6:39 am

    I always feel sorry for the letter x, it’s not very popular in any language I know. Chinese makes up for it though 🙂 so no wonder there aren’t that many books with this letter, it’s quite awkward to start a word with x, hard to pronounce I think.

    • 28 April, 2023 at 3:03 pm

      X has always been a tough letter to fill on the alphabet challenges! I’m not sure any of these are going on the TBR list—thank goodness! 🤣

  • 28 April, 2023 at 7:39 am

    If I may, Dear Jemima. If you have X a Kinsey Milhone book in your TBR pile, give it a go. I started the Alphabey books years ago and only gave up towards the end, around W,as I couldn’y find anything easily ater that and started other series.Kinsy books are usually an easy and fairly quick read and she’s a bit of an anti hero and PITB so it takes a while to like her.But she’s worth the effort.
    Huge Hugs

    • 28 April, 2023 at 10:41 am

      Thanks, David. I saw X in my library last year, so I’ll give it a go.
      Massive hugs xxxx

  • 28 April, 2023 at 7:50 am

    I enjoyed this post with the letter X Jemima very well done 💜

  • 28 April, 2023 at 2:21 pm

    I’m trying to learn the “there are better books out there, I don’t have to finish this one” skill. It’s not an easy thing. Reading the last chapter usually doesn’t actually give you the bow-tie of all the moving parts … especially when you are at the 50% mark. I love good planetary science (Janet Kagan’s Mirabile being the best one I’ve ever read), so Xeelee sounds interesting, if the characters weren’t cardboard.

    • 28 April, 2023 at 6:34 pm

      There were lots of brilliant things in the Xeelee universe. Wanting to find out what happened to the main character wasn’t one of them. I think I just take one look at my TBR, or my shelf, or my kindle, and decide that if I ‘m not enjoying it, read something else. Like the Steerswoman series, which s getting more fabulous as it goes on!

  • 28 April, 2023 at 2:58 pm

    I’m amazed you found some Xs – when I was doing the alphabet with Renaissance artists, I was stymied!,

    • 28 April, 2023 at 6:37 pm

      Well, I did get creative! And real people are harder to find. No Catalan artists? They might be good for an X or two.
      Had a talk on Joaquin Sorolla at our art group this week. Not Renaissance of course, but there are more Spanish painters I’ve never heard of out there!

  • 28 April, 2023 at 9:23 pm

    X is tough one. I enjoyed learning about both the musical and the book of Kiss of the Spider Woman.

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