Upright Women Wanted
In Upright Women Wanted, award-winning author Sarah Gailey reinvents the pulp Western with an explicitly antifascist, near-future story of queer identity."That girl's got more wrong notions than a barn owl's got mean looks."Esther is a stowaway. She's hidden herself away in the Librarian's book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her--a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.

Upright Women Wanted Details

TitleUpright Women Wanted
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 4th, 2020
PublisherTor.com
ISBN-139781250213587
Rating
GenreFantasy, Fiction, LGBT, GLBT, Queer, Science Fiction

Upright Women Wanted Review

  • Chaima ✨ شيماء
    January 1, 1970
    Oh, to be a queer Librarian spy on horseback fighting fascism and finding camaraderie, love and purpose.... This was so good. Full review to come.
  • Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
    January 1, 1970
    "The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing. " OH WOW CATCH ME CRYING FRIENDS
  • Emily (emilykatereads)
    January 1, 1970
    “be gay, do crimes, circulate books”is tor pandering to me
  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    "What Sarah Gailey's upcoming novella lacks in hippos, it makes up for with queer librarian spies on horseback" - Tor's blurb for this
  • Mara
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars- This is a high concept SF that mostly delivers on its premise and is, even more importantly, fun. Picture it: ye dystopia future in The West. We've got a plucky band of Librarians who are ostensibly a part of the State's institutional arm meant to reinforce a regressive social order, but we quickly learn (along with our point of view character) that this band is more than it seems. I loved the thematic content of this, and much prefer this version of those themes over its predecessor, 3.5 stars- This is a high concept SF that mostly delivers on its premise and is, even more importantly, fun. Picture it: ye dystopia future in The West. We've got a plucky band of Librarians who are ostensibly a part of the State's institutional arm meant to reinforce a regressive social order, but we quickly learn (along with our point of view character) that this band is more than it seems. I loved the thematic content of this, and much prefer this version of those themes over its predecessor, The Handmaid's Tale. However, I think the brevity of the book kept it from being fully fleshed out so it wasn't 100% successful for me. That said, more than anything, this is a fun version of SF Western and I really enjoyed the romance that budded over the course of the story. Would read more in this world for sure
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  • Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
    January 1, 1970
    After watching her best friend/secret love of her life hang for possessing "unapproved materials" (resistance propaganda), Esther learns her high-ranking government official father has arranged for her to marry the man who was engaged to her dead lover.It's time for Esther to make an escape and she does so by hiding in a librarian's book wagon. She's spent her entire life pretending to be someone else in order to survive in a fascist society. Continuing the role as a librarian --- an upright After watching her best friend/secret love of her life hang for possessing "unapproved materials" (resistance propaganda), Esther learns her high-ranking government official father has arranged for her to marry the man who was engaged to her dead lover.It's time for Esther to make an escape and she does so by hiding in a librarian's book wagon.  She's spent her entire life pretending to be someone else in order to survive in a fascist society.  Continuing the role as a librarian --- an upright woman distributing appropriate materials to promote the patriarchy --- doesn't seem completely awful since she'll have a freedom she's never known on the road.Esther is shocked to discover the librarians distribute their law-abiding materials in towns across the Southwest while also doing their part to promote the resistance by smuggling illegal packages.  When Esther realizes there's nothing wrong with who she is and that people can make a difference, it's time she asks herself: Are you a coward or are you a librarian? Anything Sarah Gailey writes, I'm ready to read! When Tor announced Upright Women Wanted with the description "queer librarian spies on horseback", I pre-ordered without hesitation.  It's a pulp Western set in a near-future dystopian society with diverse character representation and an important message:  be who you are, find your people, and fight for your rights.I loved this story and my only complaint is that I wanted more!  More world-building and details because I loved these characters and their mission!  Maybe we'll get lucky and Gailey will write a continuation for all of us curious about what happens next.I recommend Upright Women Wanted to readers who love speculative fiction, dystopia, Westerns, and diverse characters.For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com
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  • Veronica
    January 1, 1970
    This was a popular ARC in my office at the library, for obvious reasons! I really wanted to love the book (queer! subversive! librarians!) but it just didn't click for me. I think it's mainly that I, a humble ace, could not understand how the protagonist could go from mourning her best friend/lover (who was JUST executed) to eyeballing the hot enby trainee librarian in the space of a single day. Perhaps this seems perfectly normal to allosexuals and wouldn't bother other readers at all, but to This was a popular ARC in my office at the library, for obvious reasons! I really wanted to love the book (queer! subversive! librarians!) but it just didn't click for me. I think it's mainly that I, a humble ace, could not understand how the protagonist could go from mourning her best friend/lover (who was JUST executed) to eyeballing the hot enby trainee librarian in the space of a single day. Perhaps this seems perfectly normal to allosexuals and wouldn't bother other readers at all, but to me it was gross as hell, and I couldn't get back into the protagonist's POV. Your girlfriend JUST DIED, what do you care if a stranger is cute! That aside, the worldbuilding is fun, and probably even more so to people who like Wild West stories. I think the story left off in the right place for a novella -- it leaves the protagonist's future journey wide open.
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  • destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
    January 1, 1970
    Explicitly antifa, queer librarians... here Tor.com goes again, publishing things that are directly my brand
  • The Nerd Daily
    January 1, 1970
    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Beth MowbrayTor.com Publishing has developed quite a name for themselves when it comes to incredibly well-written, weird, and original science fiction and fantasy reads. And Sarah Gailey’s upcoming novella, Upright Women Wanted, is no exception!Playing off the classic western genre, Gailey kicks up dust, sweeping the reader away to a world they won’t soon want to leave. A future, near-dystopian, world where the State controls everything from Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Beth MowbrayTor.com Publishing has developed quite a name for themselves when it comes to incredibly well-written, weird, and original science fiction and fantasy reads. And Sarah Gailey’s upcoming novella, Upright Women Wanted, is no exception!Playing off the classic western genre, Gailey kicks up dust, sweeping the reader away to a world they won’t soon want to leave. A future, near-dystopian, world where the State controls everything from available supplies to what you may read, listen to, or watch. As the daughter of a high-ranking government official, Esther is naive to the ways of the world outside of the carefully sanctioned information she has been fed by the State. After Esther’s best friend (and love) is hung for being caught with Unapproved Materials (read: materials supporting the resistance), she hides in the back of a wagon and runs away. Away from both her precarious situation but also from her fears of who she really is – a woman who loved another woman, a woman who has something “bad” inside of her because she doesn’t fit the parameters allowed by the State.Esther soon learns that she has jumped into more than she bargained for. This wagon isn’t just any wagon… it belongs to the Librarians, whose job it is to deliver Approved Materials across the country. But these Librarians are not what Esther, or the State, believes them to be. As she comes to know Librarians Bet and Leda, as well as their apprentice Cye, Esther is confronted with truths she did not know could exist in her world. Bet and Leda show Esther the beauty of queer relationships, while Cye is proudly non-binary (something Esther has only read about in books). As the group travels across the West, Esther faces an internal conflict between what she has always defined as “good” and “bad.” She struggles to accept who she is, yet slowly begins to actually like and embrace that person.Gailey carefully selects their words for maximum impact, and in doing so creates a world where the reader wants to join the revolution, become part of the resistance. Even the title is carefully crafted with polymorphus meaning: from the point of view of the State, a “morally upright” woman is one who follows the rules, plays their assigned role, and certainly does not question. From the point of view of the Librarians, however, an “upright woman” is one who goes against the grain, fighting for the right to be equal to others in all ways.Full of just as much heart and grit as flashy horseback riding and wiley gunfights, Upright Women Wanted blends the feel of a western with a very modern commentary on learning to embrace one’s identity and find one’s people. Gailey’s characters depict strength in its many forms, both visible and concealed. And the greatest lesson, perhaps, is learning how to stop fighting against who you are and to begin to start fighting FOR it.This novella is one you won’t want to put down and it will leave you longing for more!
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  • laurel [suspected bibliophile]
    January 1, 1970
    Esther is a stowaway—a stowaway who got caught. After trying to convince the Librarians—those upright, morally virtuous distributors of Appropriate Materials—that she belongs and needs to join them, Esther begins to realize that the Librarians aren't as just as they pretend to be. They're part of the resistance, and out to deliver a package to safety from the authoritarian patriarchy ruling over the country.I was intrigued and entranced by this Western-inspired dystopian, which took the Esther is a stowaway—a stowaway who got caught. After trying to convince the Librarians—those upright, morally virtuous distributors of Appropriate Materials—that she belongs and needs to join them, Esther begins to realize that the Librarians aren't as just as they pretend to be. They're part of the resistance, and out to deliver a package to safety from the authoritarian patriarchy ruling over the country.I was intrigued and entranced by this Western-inspired dystopian, which took the idealized American Southwest and transformed it into a (further) dystopian hell designed to keep women contained and men in power.Esther was the product of the environment she lived in, the good girl who had a heavy bit of bad in her that lasted up until her secret girlfriend, Beatriz, was hanged for being caught with corrupting materials in her possession. Scared of her own future if her badness was discovered, Esther runs away to join the Librarians, hoping they will cure her and realizing that there is nothing wrong with her beyond her own brainwashing into a homophobic culture.I loved Esther's literal fish out of water story, as she learns to live outside of the protective but constraining confines of society, and thrive in a world of horses, desert and danger. Where things aren't black and white, but rather shades of gray, and people can be they in the desert and she in the town, and have a relationship under the open sun but pretend to be nothing more than business partners amongst people.Upright woman distributing lawful materials in town, and rebels smuggling illicit packages and materials out in the open.While it took me a minute to fall into the world itself and get aligned to Gailey's writing style, I loved the rep—there is trans rep, nonbinary rep, people of color and so many sapphic folks that my heart was bursting with joy.Cye was awesome, a big-hearted, gruff softy who grumpily helped Esther along even though she was a liability who would probably kill everyone.And Amity. Not going to reveal anything else on her because #spoilers, but damn. That woman is going to change the world.Anywho, if you're looking a queer dystopian twist on the Western cowboy, this is the book for you.I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.
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  • Sahitya
    January 1, 1970
    I think it was a few months ago that I first saw the cover for this book, which while it looked interesting with an equally intriguing title - it was the blurb talking about “queer librarian spies on horseback in future American Southwest” that sealed the deal that I had to read this one. I never expected to get the ARC but I did request on a whim, so imagine my surprise when I got approved for it. And I just had the urge to read it immediately and it was so much fun. It’s kinda difficult to I think it was a few months ago that I first saw the cover for this book, which while it looked interesting with an equally intriguing title - it was the blurb talking about “queer librarian spies on horseback in future American Southwest” that sealed the deal that I had to read this one. I never expected to get the ARC but I did request on a whim, so imagine my surprise when I got approved for it. And I just had the urge to read it immediately and it was so much fun. It’s kinda difficult to describe much about the book without giving a lot away because it’s less than 200 pages. It has a very Wild West feel to it, with lots of traveling on horseback in the deserts of Arizona but I actually haven’t read any westerns, so I mostly got the vibe based on whatever movies I’ve watched. The world building is also kept very vague and we mostly get to know nothing about why this America seems to be divided, just that there seems to be a lot of dissemination of propaganda and conservatism on one side. Nevertheless, the plot is extremely fast paced and it was an adventure ride that didn’t let up for even a moment. It was hella fun with a lot of banter and cheeky dialogue, a couple of great action sequences and lots of female bonding. The characters are definitely the X factor in this book. Esther is a little naive, who wants to become a librarian because she thinks she doesn’t deserve a good life as she is queer and just wants to do some good things in life before gets her bad ending. But she is extremely resourceful and observant and brave, and it was nice to see her discover through the course of the story that there are others like her and she is allowed to find happiness and purpose. Bet and Leda are a badass power couple and though we get few interactions with them, they were awesome. Cle is a great companion and right from the beginning, watching their developing dynamic with Esther was delightful and I thought the author captured the attraction between them very well. Amity was a total mystery for the most part but she also gave Esther some much needed advice, so I really couldn’t fault her slightly devious machinations. To conclude, all I want to say is I had fun reading this book. If you like reading adventurous westerns and some lovely queer representation, then this charming little novella is perfect for you. It’ll delight you and make you think and also fill you with hope, just like it’s very hopeful ending (or beginning), full of promise of more adventures to come.
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  • Dahlia
    January 1, 1970
    That was so gay <3
  • Ash | Wild Heart Reads
    January 1, 1970
    Upright Women Wanted is a short, sharp and shiny novella filled with queer librarians on horseback, rebellion and the distribution of Unapproved Materials. It's a futuristic, dystopian wild west like you've never seen.Esther journey was a fantastic one to follow - it was so great to watch her come into her own. We see her go on a journey - not just one of finding her strength but also one of accepting who she is and that there's more than out there for people like her than a tragic ending. It Upright Women Wanted is a short, sharp and shiny novella filled with queer librarians on horseback, rebellion and the distribution of Unapproved Materials. It's a futuristic, dystopian wild west like you've never seen. Esther journey was a fantastic one to follow - it was so great to watch her come into her own. We see her go on a journey - not just one of finding her strength but also one of accepting who she is and that there's more than out there for people like her than a tragic ending. It wasn't just Esther that shined through the pages though, the supporting cast rounded out the novella perfectly. I loved Bet and Leda, and even Amity won me over. Sarah Gailey is a fantastic writer and the world they have created in Upright Women Wanted is wonderfully crafted. It's well paced and combined with the rich setting means it never feels like it's lacking anything. That said, though Upright Women Wanted stands perfectly on it's own and is very satisfying, I would absolutely read more Esther and Cye's adventures, to see where they go next.  Riding toward the horizon, she knew that was the truth: it was only the beginning. And whatever came next, whatever fight was getting ready for her on the other side of that horizon, she was going to be ready for it. *I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own*This review and more can be found at https://wildheartreads.wordpress.com/
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  • Bethany
    January 1, 1970
    Queer librarians on horseback in a dystopian American future? Sure! Upright Women Wanted is Handmaids Tale meets the Wild West in a little novella that left me curious about the wider world. Esther is on the run after her best friend and lover was hanged for possessing Unapproved Materials. She hopes to cure herself of her attraction to women by joining the Librarians, but quickly discovers that things are not as she had thought. It's a short book, so I won't say too much more about the plot, Queer librarians on horseback in a dystopian American future? Sure! Upright Women Wanted is Handmaids Tale meets the Wild West in a little novella that left me curious about the wider world. Esther is on the run after her best friend and lover was hanged for possessing Unapproved Materials. She hopes to cure herself of her attraction to women by joining the Librarians, but quickly discovers that things are not as she had thought. It's a short book, so I won't say too much more about the plot, but it's a good time with twists and turns, shootouts, and a bit of romance.In terms of representation, side characters include f/f couples, and Esther's love interest is a rakish gender-nonbinary assistant librarian who uses they/them pronouns when it is safe to do so. This book is own voices for the non-binary representation. In general, I enjoyed this book, particularly the world and the romance. I wanted more development in world-building and perhaps a story with a heavier intrigue element, but I get that this is a brief story involving a specific character. I definitely think there is room to write more in this world and would be interested in reading that. I received an advance copy of this book for review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
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  • Sana
    January 1, 1970
    Hell yeah, 'queer librarian spies!'
  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: Queer Librarians take on the Man in this rolicking, imaginitive Wild West tale. Esther was, she realized, nothing more than a hand of cards in a poker game between these three women. She was only a symbol. She wasn’t the thing they were playing for. And like a bad hand, she could be discarded at any moment. Sarah Gailey I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: Queer Librarians take on the Man in this rolicking, imaginitive Wild West tale.  Esther was, she realized, nothing more than a hand of cards in a poker game between these three women. She was only a symbol. She wasn’t the thing they were playing for. And like a bad hand, she could be discarded at any moment. Sarah Gailey has become one of my favorite writers. I’m always curious to see what they are going to do next, since each story feels so different from the last. Upright Women Wanted is hard to pin a genre on, but I’m calling it an alternate history western with queer characters, and that description alone should convince you to read it. This turned out to be a compact but fully developed story with colorful, three-dimensional characters who I couldn't help but root for. And by the end, I was overcome with a sense of giddy happiness, because this story was full of hope.Esther is a woman on the run. After her girlfriend Beatriz was hanged for reading “unapproved materials,” Esther decides to run away from home and join the Librarians of the Southwest Territory, the Honorable Brigade of Morally Upright Women. Esther knows she’s different from most people, and she thinks that joining the Librarians will help her to be a better person. But little does she know who the Librarians really are and what adventures are in store for her.When Librarians Bet, Leda and Cye find her hiding in the back of their wagon amongst the dusty horse blankets, their first reaction is to send her home. But they decide to take Esther with them if she’ll help with the chores, making it clear that once they arrive in Utah, Esther is on her own.Gailey’s alternate Wild West is a grim place. The government condones only “Approved” reading materials, which the Librarians are tasked with distributing across the west. Those who break the law are hanged, and deviants of any kind are tracked down and shot. It’s a rough life for women in particular, and if you’re queer, well, you should probably give up any hope of a happy life. That’s where the Librarians prove this theory to be completely wrong, and therein lies the heart of this story.I loved these characters! Bet is the Head Librarian and Leda is the Assistant Librarian, and they are a couple. Cye is non-binary and a bit on the gruff side, but Esther is immediately attracted to Cye (despite the fact that Beatriz was only recently killed). I enjoyed their slow burn relationship which was sweet and tentative and not without its challenges. But the most dynamic character doesn’t make an appearance until we’re a quarter into the story. Amity is a boisterous, trigger happy, charismatic woman with a big secret, and she plays an important part as Esther comes to grips with her feelings. All the men in the story are relegated to caricature-ish bad guys, and honestly, I was OK with that! One of the best things about this novella is the Wild West vibe, and Gailey does a great job of dumping the reader right in the middle of the Librarians’ daily lives: traveling the hot, dusty roads on horseback, the never ending physical work of taking care of horses and tack, cooking meals on the trail, disposing of dead bodies... And the dangers! Heat exhaustion, running out of water, bandits and other angry men with guns chasing after them. I could taste the dust on my tongue and feel the sun’s heat on the back of my neck, it was such an immersive experience. It doesn’t hurt that the characters have a wonderful, old west twang to their speech either.But the best thing about this story is its message: in a nutshell, how important it is to find your tribe, to find people like you who will allow you to be yourself. This was Esther’s journey throughout the story. She starts by running away from her persecutors, knowing that there must be others out there just like her, but she certainly doesn’t expect to find them with Bet, Leda and Cye. I loved seeing Esther change from a timid, uncertain woman to someone who could imagine herself being happy. This story gave me all the feels, especially at the end. Upright Women Wanted surprised me in every way and left me craving Gailey’s next book. A queer reimagining of the Wild West, I guarantee you’ll be cheering for these characters as well.Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy. Quote was taken from an uncorrected proof and may differ in the final version of the book. This review originally appeared on Books, Bones & Buffy
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  • Colby
    January 1, 1970
    "Are you a coward or are you a librarian?"Upright Women Wanted continues Gailey's tradition of writing excellent stories threaded with incisive prose and extraordinary heart. This is a tale of identity, survival, and the importance of writing and telling stories about the lives and loves of queer people, especially during times like these when so many people live in hiding, afraid of living their truths. While I didn't feel like the novella format gave the main romance quite enough time to "Are you a coward or are you a librarian?"Upright Women Wanted continues Gailey's tradition of writing excellent stories threaded with incisive prose and extraordinary heart. This is a tale of identity, survival, and the importance of writing and telling stories about the lives and loves of queer people, especially during times like these when so many people live in hiding, afraid of living their truths. While I didn't feel like the novella format gave the main romance quite enough time to breathe and come alive as organically as I'd have preferred, these characters tugged at all of my heartstrings and made me long for more from this world once the story was over. This was the queer empowerment Western I didn't know I needed and Gailey continues to impress me with their insightful work. I'm already setting my sights on whatever they decide to release next.Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Lori
    January 1, 1970
    Oppressive goverment men beware, these ladies have your number. Gailey knocks it out of the park again, this time with Upright Women Wanted. Queer, gun wielding, horseback riding librarians, in a dystopian future, risking life and limb to deliver 'packages' on behalf of an underground resistance?? Oh hell yaaaaaas!
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  • Cathy
    January 1, 1970
    Book announcement:https://www.tor.com/2018/05/24/uprigh...
  • emma
    January 1, 1970
    Much like Pet, this reads almost like a fable for 2020, using a new future as an environment to speak to queerness, resistance, police states, and censorship. Enjoyed this one.
  • Austine (NovelKnight)
    January 1, 1970
    Check out the original review and more on NovelKnight! This book was provided by the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. I'm... not really sure how to describeUpright Women Wanted. In a way, it reminded me a bit ofThe Handmaid's Talebut with a Wild West flair, but that feels almost a disservice to this story because it's so much more.Upright Women Wantedchallenges the heteronormative mindset. Here we have a world where women should "know their Check out the original review and more on NovelKnight! This book was provided by the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. I'm... not really sure how to describe Upright Women Wanted. In a way, it reminded me a bit of The Handmaid's Tale but with a Wild West flair, but that feels almost a disservice to this story because it's so much more.Upright Women Wanted challenges the heteronormative mindset. Here we have a world where women should "know their place," as it were. Where men make the rules, hold the weapons, decide how to run their household. Where the War reigns supreme. And where brave individuals have stepped forward to rebel against this close-minded lifestyle and acknowledge all people.Esther, our protagonist, is fleeing marriage to a man after also being forced to watch her girlfriend hanged. She views herself as wrong, and thinks joining a group of women she believes to be chaste and "right" will cure her of loving someone other than a man. This book isn't just her journey to accepting herself and understanding there's a world beyond what she's been taught, but that her love is as right as the sun in the sky.I liked the fact that it's her perspective we see because it's also the one being challenged right off the bat. As soon as she joins the small band of Librarians taking their Approved Materials across the land, she's exposed to another same sex couple (F/F) and Cye, who has to explain to her the difference in pronouns (they go by they/them, and she/her when in the company of strangers). In addition, Esther learns that the Librarians aren't just moving the written word from place to place, but helping "people like her" as she starts to think of them. All against the backdrop of a dystopian wild west.Talk about a ride.I loved almost everything about Upright Women Wanted. I've come to expect that I can't get as much world-building in novellas as I'm used to in a novel so that aspect didn't bother me as much. I still felt immersed in the world from start to finish, and would have gladly read a longer book based in this dystopia. The overall plot worked too, keeping the story moving and tension high from start to finish. The only part that lost me a bit was Esther's romance. I'm fine with the romance itself (and honestly it was so sweet, I loved it), but the timing wasn't great as Esther just watched her girlfriend hang and turns around and starts swooning over someone new. I'd have liked to see a bit more time spent between those two events because that death lost its impact, but otherwise I liked it.Without getting too much more into the story because SPOILERS, Upright Women Wanted centers a group of strong people willing to stand up against the patriarchy and I am HERE for it. This book conveys so much in such a short period of time and I need everyone to start talking about it. So yes, I would absolutely recommend picking it up!For More Bookish Content: Blog || Twitter || Facebook || Bloglovin'
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    I. Loved. This. Book. I devouredit in one day and already can't wait to read it again. _I loved the characters, the setting, the Librarians, the drama, all of it. I could read 500 more pages of this story, but I also kind of love that it is short and just a glimpse of a bigger story._I loved Esther immediately. She is broken and scared and quite naive. But she knows she has to do something, make some change for herself. Even if at first it might be for misguided reasons, it kind of shows that I. Loved. This. Book. I devoured it in one day and already can't wait to read it again.  _I loved the characters, the setting, the Librarians, the drama, all of it.  I could read 500 more pages of this story, but I also kind of love that it is short and just a glimpse of a bigger story._I loved Esther immediately.  She is broken and scared and quite naive.  But she knows she has to do something, make some change for herself.  Even if at first it might be for misguided reasons, it kind of shows that not every hero starts out brave and defiant and all-knowing.  I appreciated seeing into her head and her internal struggles and how she goes from questioning herself, to questioning the world around her.  I love how much her character develops in this short time.  The other characters are wonderful and vibrant which again surprised me for such a quick story.  I also love how they're not one dimensional and how even at the end, I'm not sure how to feel about some of them._I want to be a Librarian.  I want to join this group of dynamic and brave women (though I absolutely would never want to live in this time).  I loved the Western setting and there were some very exciting action scenes.  Like I said, I would read so many books about these Librarian and set in this world, but I will be delighted to just read this one again._Thank you to Tor.com for sending me this ARC and I am thrilled to give my own opinions.  I cannot recommend this book enough!
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  • Louise
    January 1, 1970
    Like the other Sarah Gailey books I’ve read, the premise of Upright Women Wanted might be a little hard to explain, but go in on trust and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.It took me a little while — probably longer than it should, I can be obtuse — to realise that the story is set in a near-future dystopian society rather than the historical ‘wild west’.The sense of place is that well written. For most of the story we’re on the road, travelling in an unforgiving landscape with a few brief Like the other Sarah Gailey books I’ve read, the premise of Upright Women Wanted might be a little hard to explain, but go in on trust and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.It took me a little while — probably longer than it should, I can be obtuse — to realise that the story is set in a near-future dystopian society rather than the historical ‘wild west’.The sense of place is that well written. For most of the story we’re on the road, travelling in an unforgiving landscape with a few brief stops along the way. Even though the characters are never still, you really get a sense of the world their travelling though, both in terms of physical setting and the political/ sociological atmosphere. It has a tangible sense of place, that feels aged — like you could reach out and touch it, or like it’s always been there.Likewise, the characters feel ‘lived in’. Apart from Esther, the characters get no real direct backstory, and even hers in dealt with in a few short paragraphs. That doesn’t matter though, because somehow I felt that I knew them all — had known them all for a long time — within just a few pages.Upright Women Wanted is less than 180 pages, so it’s a quick read, but one that really packs a punch. The story was incredibly memorable and touching, and the cast of characters caught my heart. It’s a standalone story — and functions absolutely perfectly as one — but I’m greedy, and I’d happily read a series of novella about these people.
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  • Bridgette
    January 1, 1970
    Queer spy librarian on horseback in the Weird West. If that doesn't sell you on this book, nothing else I say will. This novella was delightful and almost everything I thought and hoped it would be. I do wish the spy element was emphasized a little bit more, but as with many stories with this high concept, what I really loved were all the characters. Esther and Cye were wonderful, and I loved their ending. I really hope there's a second one, as I need more about their adventures, and this Queer spy librarian on horseback in the Weird West. If that doesn't sell you on this book, nothing else I say will. This novella was delightful and almost everything I thought and hoped it would be. I do wish the spy element was emphasized a little bit more, but as with many stories with this high concept, what I really loved were all the characters. Esther and Cye were wonderful, and I loved their ending. I really hope there's a second one, as I need more about their adventures, and this version of America.Esther, the main character, does have a lot of self-hate about her sexuality, so for anyone who might be triggered by that, go into knowingly and knowing there's a happy ending.
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  • Samantha
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 “I guess this was fine but I won’t remember a word of it in six months” Stars. I loved Sarah Gailey’s American Hippo books, so I keep picking up her other work and expecting better than what I end up getting. While this is a far better book than Magic for Liars in terms of narrative quality, it suffers from the same problem of being far, far better in concept than in execution. Parts of this are cute and charming, but mostly the whole thing feels flat. Add in a protagonist who 2.5 “I guess this was fine but I won’t remember a word of it in six months” Stars. I loved Sarah Gailey’s American Hippo books, so I keep picking up her other work and expecting better than what I end up getting. While this is a far better book than Magic for Liars in terms of narrative quality, it suffers from the same problem of being far, far better in concept than in execution. Parts of this are cute and charming, but mostly the whole thing feels flat. Add in a protagonist who melodramatically wallows in “Everything is my fault, I am a pox on all houses!” at nearly every turn, and a potentially interesting story turns into a slow slog of eye roll inducing angst. I don’t require my female protagonists to be flawlessly hard or lacking in any self doubt to consider them tough and worthy, but Esther was woefully uninspiring, much like those two dolts at the center of Magic for Liars. Where have the likes of the admirably tough but imperfect ladies of the American Hippo series gone? I know Gailey has them in her repertoire. I just wish she would dust them off and put them to good use in her next offering. *I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
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  • Lissa
    January 1, 1970
    I’ve been a public librarian in Topeka, Kansas since 2001 and I am passionate about serving my community but @gaileyfrey’s Upright Women Wanted is the alternate history adventurous love letter to my life choices I didn’t realize I needed. Thank you.I read an advance copy of this book and LOVED it. I’m not saying that every line is quoteable. Some excellent words are devoted to world building and plot and such. But...some lines are truly great and I can’t share them yet because spoilers. There I’ve been a public librarian in Topeka, Kansas since 2001 and I am passionate about serving my community but @gaileyfrey’s Upright Women Wanted is the alternate history adventurous love letter to my life choices I didn’t realize I needed. Thank you.I read an advance copy of this book and LOVED it. I’m not saying that every line is quoteable. Some excellent words are devoted to world building and plot and such. But...some lines are truly great and I can’t share them yet because spoilers. There are quotes from this book I want on coffee mugs and quotes from this book I want on notecards and at least one quote I’d like on a T-shirt. It’s that kind of witty and wonderful and powerful and meaningful and I don’t think you need to be a Librarian to enjoy it immensely.
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  • J.A. Ironside
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by Tor.com via NetGalley in exchange for an honest reviewUpright Women Wanted was one of my most anticipated reads of 2020 and it did not disappoint. Gailey's prose is open and engaging, the characters possess a warmth and depth that makes you immediately root for them, even when they are flawed or acting in a less than likeable way. The novella is set in a weird west which we later learn is a post-collapse totalitarian patriarchy. The boys go off to war. The girls go to be good ARC provided by Tor.com via NetGalley in exchange for an honest reviewUpright Women Wanted was one of my most anticipated reads of 2020 and it did not disappoint. Gailey's prose is open and engaging, the characters possess a warmth and depth that makes you immediately root for them, even when they are flawed or acting in a less than likeable way. The novella is set in a weird west which we later learn is a post-collapse totalitarian patriarchy. The boys go off to war. The girls go to be good wives and have children. That's the way the world works. There's no room for those who are different or who deviate from the norm. There's no place for those who prefer their own gender or express their gender differently. The one gleam of hope for girls is the chance to join the saddlepack librarians - good, honest, upright women who have eschewed the 'joys' of marriage and children in order to serve a different calling; taking and distributing Approved Materials for education and entertainment between towns and villages. Esther, a young girl from on such town, stows away in the back of the librarian's wagon, desperate to escape her old life and the fate which befell her girlfriend. But joining the librarians holds plenty of dangers. Aside from the desert itself, there are bandits, insurrectionists, gunfights, the cute enby assistant librarian and the upheaval of coming to terms with the fact that almost everything she was ever taught was wrong.I loved this story so much. Esther is a likeable character though very naive, but her grit and intelligence, and her ability to summon her own courage soon see her pitched into adventure. The other characters are equally well drawn but I have a special place in my heart for the tempestuous Amity. This was everything I wanted it to be except longer! I would happily read a series of books set in this world. Honestly, queer, kick ass librarian spies? You had me at hello. Highly recommend.
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  • Rachel Pollock
    January 1, 1970
    I bailed on this at the 25% point because it just didn't ring true to me. It should have been right up my alley and the concept is great. The execution though reads like some lesbian Deadwood fanfiction with the names all find-and-replaced.
  • Annie
    January 1, 1970
    The old trope of running away with the circus never really made sense to me. Sure there’s glamor and adventure, but it always sounded like a lot of messy, smelly work to me. Running away to join librarians, however, is just my cup of tea. Even without the added “motivation” that prompts protagonist Esther runs away to join a group of traveling librarians in a devastated future America in Upright Women Wanted, I would totally understand why she would rather tramp around the desert with librarians The old trope of running away with the circus never really made sense to me. Sure there’s glamor and adventure, but it always sounded like a lot of messy, smelly work to me. Running away to join librarians, however, is just my cup of tea. Even without the added “motivation” that prompts protagonist Esther runs away to join a group of traveling librarians in a devastated future America in Upright Women Wanted, I would totally understand why she would rather tramp around the desert with librarians than stay in her locked-down home, pushed into marriage and motherhood. This book absolutely delivered on its promise...Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.
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  • Mel
    January 1, 1970
    This book felt very uneven to me. Parts of the world-building were really incredible and handled very deftly, while other elements of it were so ham-fisted as to feel like an after school special. Likewise, some of the characters (well, two) were really well-drawn, while the others were so flat that they were indistinguishable from each other. There is a couple here that I could literally not describe apart from their names, and this despite both characters taking up a vast amount of page time. This book felt very uneven to me. Parts of the world-building were really incredible and handled very deftly, while other elements of it were so ham-fisted as to feel like an after school special. Likewise, some of the characters (well, two) were really well-drawn, while the others were so flat that they were indistinguishable from each other. There is a couple here that I could literally not describe apart from their names, and this despite both characters taking up a vast amount of page time. The action scenes also felt half-cocked, with some parts being really exciting, while others were merely confusing.However, the setting and wild west elements are excellent - they really make the book - and the story moves along at a fast enough pace to keep you interested. I'm pretty sure I saw a sequel hook at the end there though, and I'm not convinced in this book as the start of a series (I'd need to care about more of the characters for that) but as a standalone it's entertaining enough.
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