TRIGGER WARNINGS: Depression, suicidal thoughts, disability slurs, fat-phobia, and fat-shaming.
This is a contemporary reimagining of Susan Coolidge'sTRIGGER WARNINGS: Depression, suicidal thoughts, disability slurs, fat-phobia, and fat-shaming.
This is a contemporary reimagining of Susan Coolidge's What Katy Did. Because I haven't read the classic, who's to blame for the problematic aspects of Katy?
The author's note explains that in the original, through prayer and looking after her siblings Katy walks again. Jacqueline Wilson rightly points out that's not a good message, so she takes the story in her own direction.
If only she'd done that earlier. JW says that the events in the first half of her version mirror Coolidge's, so I guess that's who to blame. Katy's first 200 pages are filler, inconsequential to the rest of the plot, like vignettes. And while I understand novels should introduce the character and her world before the plot catalyst, 200 pages is far too much and should've been condensed.
So who's to blame for the character of Dorry? I wasn't prepared for the barrage of fat-phobia and fat-shaming. Dorry is described as "chubby" and "pudgy", but most often he's referred to as "greedy". Pretty much everything he says is about food, and I'm not even exaggerating. His siblings read Dorry's diary, and it's all about what he ate. The kids think there're burglars downstairs, and Dorry worries, "They'll steal the cakes!" I know he's only a side character, but he's one-note and his characterisation needs improvement.
As for the novel's disability aspect, it seems believable. The awkwardness and embarrassment, the anger and frustration, and the depression - it all rings true. Katy's disability doesn't turn her into a saint, but she learns a lot about herself, her friends, and her family (particularly her stepmother).
However, the inclusion of two particular words is questionable. Katy uses the C-word and claims she's only talking about herself, not her fellow patients, but the nurses rightfully say the word should never be used. There's also the I-word, which isn't addressed as much, but rather in a "Katy's not an [I-word]" kind of way. In the days of Metcards, if you used one that was expired, the I-word would describe the ticket. It's upsetting that in the novel, the word is used to describe PEOPLE, rather than things.
My other word complaint is "tomboy". Some may claim it's not offensive, but it still conforms to outdated notions of gender that outdoorsy, active girls are "tomboys", as opposed to just being who they are - girls.
Then there's an action near the end that strikes me as extremely poor judgement. Katy's PE teacher has been working with her on her ball skills, and Katy wants to join in with the rest of the class playing games. Mr Myers asks Katy if she could sit on the floor with her back to the wall, if he helped her. Katy agrees, but then he offers Katy's wheelchair to classmates to try out. NO. Just plain NO. You DON'T (or at least you bloody well SHOULDN'T) invite others to use a wheelchair without first obtaining permission from the wheelchair's regular user - in this case, Katy, who doesn't call out Mr Myers on his shoddy behaviour. Katy shouldn't have to call him out, though, because Mr Myers should have some basic common sense and decency! Ugh, this scene really bothers me.
Jacqueline Wilson probably means well with her contemporary reimagining of Susan Coolidge's classic, but the execution still needs a lot of improvement. Katy's a wonderful character, but those surrounding her need more fleshing out and less faff....more
The Naturals, Book 1, was awkward. The concept for the series was solid, though improbable, but the execution of it was hard to get into at first. ItThe Naturals, Book 1, was awkward. The concept for the series was solid, though improbable, but the execution of it was hard to get into at first. It was like an origin story of how everyone meets, even though there was a mystery to solve.
Killer Instinct does what every good sequel should: match the quality of the first, or improve upon it. This Book 2 is definitely an improvement, because the core concept and group of characters have been established, so there's more book-time for a case to be explored in-depth. Which it does brilliantly here, though you have to wade through the cringe-worthy Chapter 2 before the story can really start. (I get the feeling that the author loves character banter, but I'm really only here for the crime investigation.)
(Also, there's a supposed love triangle, but it's never quite believable because we know Cassie will end up with Dean. Michael is just a friend. Stop trying to make fetch happen.)
As for the mystery to solve, there seems to be someone copying Dean's father's killings, but the case is a lot more complex than that, and is written well. The author's studies in psychology are shown off fabulously here, though the nature of the series means that every little thing is explained so the reader never has to think for oneself.
With strong character studies and a complex plot, Jennifer Lynn Barnes has crafted an immersive YA novel in which even the adults have their own fascinating storylines. Now that the series has been well and truly established, I can't wait to see what the Naturals will get up to next. Bring on All In!...more
Upon hearing that the lead character is "funny", I was concerned. Hello, grave danger? Could die anytime? Mark WatBelieve the hype. This. Is. AWESOME.
Upon hearing that the lead character is "funny", I was concerned. Hello, grave danger? Could die anytime? Mark Watney could've been very annoying. But he's not - his sense of humour plays a big part of keeping him alive.
Imagine how different, and shorter, this novel could've been if Mark had depression, PTSD, or anxiety. You hear about a fight-or-flight response, but I reckon there's a third response: freeze. When you can't decide to fight or flee, because you can't think at ALL. You FREEZE.
Considering his situation (being alone on Mars with supplies dwindling), Mark's mental health is astonishingly good, so he's able to think on his feet, which saves his life on several occasions.
Pretty much the entire book contains a bombardment of obstacles, which Mark (and the rest of the Ares 3 crew in space, and the staff on Earth) must overcome - and quickly. Not every plan works, but it's amazing what can happen when everyone works together to save one guy.
(And then you get down when you think of real life, and how people die every day, and Earth's people can't all get their act together to help...)
Some have complained of "too much science" in the novel, but I very much appreciate every bit of it. Can I remember and relay any of it? No, but its inclusion means everything to me, because it proves how hard Andy Weir worked to make his story as plausible as possible. Would his plot points work in real life? I have no idea, but I was never pulled out of the story to think, "That wouldn't work. Bad science! Go sit in the corner." I read a lot of speculative fiction, and the stories that don't work for me involve magic, wherein the character wishes something, says something, and then what they want to happen does. I can never truly get behind those stories, but The Martian? Hell yes!
From the affable characters, to the stunning ingenuity, the deadly location, and fascinating space scenes, The Martian excels on all accounts. But the real winner is the mind-blowing research Andy Weir undertook and used to make his story the best it can be.
(Though imagine the story Johanssen could've had if...)...more
NOTE: Though Life and Death is currently only available as part of the "dual edition" of Twilight's tenth anniversary special, this review only coversNOTE: Though Life and Death is currently only available as part of the "dual edition" of Twilight's tenth anniversary special, this review only covers the reimagining.
All the Twilight Saga books are worth three stars each. While I don't love them, I've grown more respectful and supportive of their author over the years.
It's fine to write fan fiction and share it with a community. It's fine to even have it published and be paid for it if it's officially licensed (e.g. Kindle Worlds, the many Star Trek novels, etc). But if it's unofficial and monetised, then we have bad blood. It betrays the fan community, and it's really shoddy treatment of the author whose work inspired you to write fan fiction based on their characters and their worlds. And even those "pull-to-publish" fan fic writers know they're in the wrong, otherwise we'd never know the character names of Ana Steele and Christian Grey because they would still be Bella Swan and Edward Cullen.
Stephenie Meyer has not yet brought court cases upon those P2P Twific authors. While I wish she would, I don't blame or shame her for not doing so. IT SHOULD NEVER BE ON THE VICTIM TO BRING A STOP TO THE PERPETRATORS' ACTIONS. If you want to blame someone consider the authors, publishers, and purchasers of P2P fan fiction.
And if you're waiting for Midnight Sun, Stephenie Meyer's retelling of Twilight through Edward's point of view, it likely won't eventuate. She started working on it again, but the very next day news broke of a male retelling of a P2P Twific. Ms Meyer described it understandably as a "flip the table" moment.
Many books' reviewers have been accused of misunderstanding, or not taking into account, authors' intentions, but in Life and Death they're explained in the foreword and afterword. Addressing criticism of Bella being a "damsel in distress", Ms Meyer wanted to prove Twilight is just a "human in distress" story, non-gendered. And so Beau Swan and Edythe Cullen were created...
Had the names and pronouns been the only things changed in the reimagining, the author's point may have been clearer in the text. But she's also made other changes, such as particular words or events. While they're minor at first, the whole ending differs - as explained in the afterword to try a "what if" scenario, which she claims had nothing to do with Beau's gender. It's hard to tell which changes were made because of the gender-bend and which because the author didn't like how she originally wrote them.
Then there's the matter of the selective gender-bend. Renee and Charlie remain as Renee and Charlie, for the ridiculous excuse of it wouldn't be "historically accurate" for a boy to grow up with his father instead of his mother. Uh, are vampires historically accurate? I don't agree with the exception here, but it doesn't really impact the story.
It's been years since I read Twilight, so memories have faded. I read Life and Death by itself and here are my conclusions:
-I like Bella more than Beau. -I like Edythe more than Edward. -That "what if" scenario does seem gendered, because in the Life and Death world Renesmee won't eventuate because Beau is not a human female.
Maybe because I'd read up on all the spoilers and compare-and-contrast reports before reading, but Life and Death is simply...boring. It's not great, but it's not particularly bad (i.e. it didn't anger me), either. It's essentially useless, though it does make you wonder how other pairs would've had their stories told; such as Bella with Edythe, or Bella with Jules, or Edythe with Jules.
I fully support Stephenie Meyer's right to publish whatever she likes, though I'd love to read some non-Twilight stories from her. The Host proved she's not a one-trick pony, so she's bound to have other tales to tell.
Though if she doesn't publish them, it would prevent unscrupulous P2P fan fic writers from capitalising on those works, too......more
**spoiler alert** TRIGGER WARNINGS: Attempted rape; dog death.
Z for Zachariah was first published in 1974, and has stayed in print ever since. Robert**spoiler alert** TRIGGER WARNINGS: Attempted rape; dog death.
Z for Zachariah was first published in 1974, and has stayed in print ever since. Robert C. O'Brien died in 1973, but his wife and one of his children completed the novel based on his notes.
It's simply brilliant. The science in regards to the "meteorological enclave" may be iffy at best, but the characterisation is wonderfully executed. Ann Burden is the strong, resourceful teenage heroine who's been completely alone for a year but has survived just fine. Growing up on a farm was ideal to teach her the skills to live off the land - and the location has kept her alive in good stead. Because all communication with the rest of the world has been cut off, for all she knows she could be the last person on Earth.
But Ann is not the only one, though she's better off alone.
Mr. Loomis was a plastics scientist in an underground bunker when the nuclear bombs dropped. His back-story is revealed when he talks in fevers brought on by radiation poisoning.
Ann's wary of Loomis from the start for good reason. It's an abusive relationship: She's a teenage girl, he's a fully-grown man. She nurses him as best he can, and he repays her by getting on her case for all the things he thinks she should've done. And even when Ann does what Loomis requests, he always finds something else to complain about. The abuse is psychological, manipulative, but when it turns physical Ann has to count on all her knowledge and skills to keep alive and safe. But time does not heal all wounds, and Loomis has yet another horrible plan in mind.
The tension builds as the novel turns from suspense to thriller. It's a genuinely scary read, and easy to understand why it's such a classic tale to be shared with the next generations.
And now, a word about the film:
(view spoiler)[SPOILERS: Ann's character has been aged up, "Caleb" is nowhere to be found in the book, and the film's heavier on Christianity (it's much lighter in the novel). As for Ann trying to seduce Loomis in the film, I'm so angry about that. When a character is almost raped in a book, but in the film she tries to seduce the guy... That's not Ann's character, and I can't help but wonder if the film wrote in "Caleb", too, to sex up the story. That's not Robert C. O'Brien's version of Ann's fifteen-/sixteen-year-old life. And I side with the author rather than the adapters. (hide spoiler)]
So yeah, the film sounds very much unfaithful to the novel.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
It doesn't surprise me to learn that childhood trauma was the catalyst for you becoming a Level 5 Dangerologist. While I don't aDear Docter Noel Zone,
It doesn't surprise me to learn that childhood trauma was the catalyst for you becoming a Level 5 Dangerologist. While I don't always agree with your methods, I do admire you in this book for facing your fears. Obviously, it takes a great motivation, so maybe we can expect a book called Beware of Relationships in the future?
While I'd recommend all of Alex Kava's books, if you lack time to read her entire backlist, the Ryder Creed series is the most recent. Only two booksWhile I'd recommend all of Alex Kava's books, if you lack time to read her entire backlist, the Ryder Creed series is the most recent. Only two books so far have been published, with a third set for early 2016.
We first met Ryder Creed in Stranded, the "last" book in the Maggie O'Dell series. But Maggie's still alive and kicking so fear not. Silent Creed references Exposed, but while it may be beneficial to catch up on Maggie's books, you should still be able to keep up with the Creed ones without the backlist.
Ah, the military - they can be shady as hell, even to their own. While Senator Ellie Delanor is fighting to get medical benefits for veterans exposed to pathogens, Creed and Maggie are trying to recover bodies and a medical research facility from the debris of a landslide.
As for the dogs, Grace is again the star, but with a good showing from Bolo, too. Young veteran Jason Seaver was a worry early on in the book, but a new dog friend could be his reason to live.
Fans of thrillers and dogs alike will find Alex Kava's combination a winner. The story trots along, and never outstays its welcome. Another great read in this author's arsenal....more
This is a prequel to Cassandra Rose Clarke's Our Lady of the Ice, a sci-fi novel to be published in October 2015. White Out is an atmospheric stunner,This is a prequel to Cassandra Rose Clarke's Our Lady of the Ice, a sci-fi novel to be published in October 2015. White Out is an atmospheric stunner, at least in the opinion of this Australian who's never experienced ice and snow. Noëlle is a scientist intent on testing the limits of Ami, a robot. But a winter storm on Antarctica could prove deadly......more
TRIGGER WARNINGS: The book contains scenes of attempted suicide and attempted rape, as well as mentions of rape.
My associates' ratings for Red RisingTRIGGER WARNINGS: The book contains scenes of attempted suicide and attempted rape, as well as mentions of rape.
My associates' ratings for Red Rising fall into two distinct camps: 5 stars, and Did Not Finish. Unpopular opinion time! I give it 3 stars.
When something's described as "cross-genre" or "genre-bending", it seems to signal that the book doesn't know what it wants to be. This was my problem.
Red Rising blasts off with the brilliant Part 1, about family, work, life, and death. This section is sci-fi, including mining for methane on Mars. Darrow realises that life will always be rigged, no matter what "colour" you are. (I use quotations because there's a colour system in place - the richest are Gold, the poorest are Red. Not sure if it involves skin colour.)
Fridging occurs (woman in peril to give a man's life meaning), and Darrow is recruited to bring about a revolution by going undercover as a Gold. Insert makeover montage here. Then he's sent to the Institute and tested for attributes to be put in a House. Insert sorting hat scene here.
It's downhill from Part 2 onwards, and the story becomes more traditional/epic/high fantasy: teens set off into the wilderness for war games, wherein they build shelters, kill or forage for food, capture horses, steal weapons, enslave or kill enemies, until...well, I'm not entirely certain how the game comes to a stop. Though it seems wrong to call it a "game" when rape (or at least threats of rape) and murder are committed so frequently.
The more I think about Red Rising, the more problematic it seems. It's very tropey, but overall it's more disappointing than bad. I intend to read Book 2 at some stage, but hopefully it has more sci-fi stuff, rather than pissing contests....more
Rating is only for the 184-page booklet, Illuminating the Prophecy. Haven't cracked open the cards and done a spread yet, so I can't say how helpful eRating is only for the 184-page booklet, Illuminating the Prophecy. Haven't cracked open the cards and done a spread yet, so I can't say how helpful everything is, but I've read the booklet....more
TRIGGER WARNING: The novel features child abduction, child abuse, child murder, and cat murder.
SPOILER WARNING: This review contains spoilers for theTRIGGER WARNING: The novel features child abduction, child abuse, child murder, and cat murder.
SPOILER WARNING: This review contains spoilers for the novel. They're behind a link in Goodreads, but not elsewhere.
NOTE: The copyright page states, "A different version of this book was published as On Me, In Me, Dead Beneath Me."
The cover summary's a bit vague, so it's hard to know what to say in case something is considered a spoiler. Hmm.
Deanna Madden's full-time job is as a nineteen-year-old camgirl named Jessica Reilly. The business of it seems well-researched, though there are camming scenes that add nothing to the overall plot - so why are they included?
Deanna hasn't left her apartment since she moved in three years ago. She never has people over, and even makes the package deliverer (who seems to drop by every day) forge her signature so she doesn't have to face him. She pays her neighbour in pills of his choice, so he collects her garbage...and locks her inside at night.
Deanna frequently has the urge to kill. She figures if she locks herself in and keeps everyone out, there's a lower chance of her murdering anyone.
(view spoiler)[When her door is unlocked during the day and Deanna's good ear is covered, she doesn't hear when the package deliverer, Jeremy, bursts into the apartment. At first, Deanna tries to attack Jeremy, but he easily overpowers her, and her thoughts of murder turn to thoughts of sex almost instantly.
The narrative makes a big deal about how Deanna supposedly wants to kill everyone, but her actions just don't ring true. Apparently lust/love cures her, because she's able to leave her apartment fairly simply. She makes the decision, and then she goes, with barely any hesitation. This would've been more believable if Deanna had progressed in stages: first, outside her apartment; second, into the elevator; and third, outside the building. Instead, Deanna overcomes these psychological obstacles in one clean hit.
Deanna easily locates the child, deals with the perp, and the child's family promises her anonymity. While the novel is supposedly an "erotic thriller", it doesn't fully succeed in either aspect: Some cam sessions have nothing to do with the overall plot, and aren't erotic; and the straightforwardness of the crime issue elicits no thrill.
As to why Deanna has urges to kill: as a teenager, she walked into the family home to find that her mother has killed her siblings and father. So Deanna kills her mother. That's it. I believe with the appropriate medication and therapy, Deanna would've been able to process and cope with life afterward much more effectively. I believe she never really was a murderer-to-be - killing her mother was simply a response to what her mother had done to the family. Since Deanna doesn't kill anyone after that, the whole "I'm a killer" facade seems just for show. She has plenty of opportunity to kill Jeremy, yet falls in lust/love with him instead.
As for Jeremy, he has no problem with Deanna supposedly wanting to kill him. Sure, she came at his throat with a knife, but she's hot, so...not a big deal, supposedly? WTF?! What is this book: Hush, Hush? I know that criminal/killer-as-love-interest is a trope rather common in romance nowadays, and we're all supposed to brush it off because "it's fiction - it's not real". But attempted murder doesn't say "hot" to me, but your opinion may vary. (hide spoiler)]
The novel's premise is a winner, but its execution lags far behind.
P.S. The "girl" in the title is actually a WOMAN: Deanna Madden. I don't understand this titling trend of "girl", when "woman" or "lady" would be more accurate.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I decided that 2015 would be the year that I read what I want when I want, and not just read particular books because I feel like I "should". It's earI decided that 2015 would be the year that I read what I want when I want, and not just read particular books because I feel like I "should". It's early in the year, and I've already strayed from my intention with various results. (Sorry, but I wasn't interested enough to finish Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven.) But I'm so glad I decided to try Paula Hawkins's The Girl on the Train.
The comparisons to Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl are inevitable: "Girl" in the title, unreliable narrator, crime from the POV of someone who's NOT a professional investigator, "unlikeable" female lead character... But I warmed to The Girl on the Train much more. Often times I struggled with Rachel Watson due to her alcoholism, but she really does try to do the right thing, though often for the wrong reasons.
Paula Hawkins has crafted an intoxicating story with flawed-yet-familiar characters and page-turning twists. The Girl on the Train is an international best-seller for a reason: it's bloody good, and should appeal to fans of Brit crime. An intriguing read that's left me impatient for news about the author's next novel....more