Dangerous. This book is dangerous and disappointing. I can't tell you about the fury I felt at the very beginning of this book. The propaganda, myths...moreDangerous. This book is dangerous and disappointing. I can't tell you about the fury I felt at the very beginning of this book. The propaganda, myths and downright lies regarding the science of mental illness that only serve to misinform and hurt the vulnerable, those who live with these illnesses and their family and friends which is a good percentage of the population. Most will be affected by it at some point in their lives. And at this point you should know that my family has been touched by it and I've worked with people from the UK mental health charity, Mind.
In the Nature Vs. Nurture debate, on a scale, mental illness is overwhelmingly more about nurture and environment than genetics. If a group of people, like a family, are subjected to the same stressful environment then they're more likely to develop problems than one living a stress-free life. That has been proven.
The Glimpse's Big 3: schizophrenia, depression and anxiety - Most will personally experience a period of the latter two. Life is hard, that's a fact. You can't just permanently label someone as one of the Crazies for what could be an episode lasting only a few months and then going on to suffer no further problems. It doesn't work like that. Telling someone they're crazy could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy where they live up to their label and if one hadn't been issued in the first place that person may be otherwise perfectly healthy. The book picks up on this to some extent but it would depend on the perceptiveness of the reader to fully understand the ramifications.
Suffering a mental illness does not automatically mean you're a lost cause. A great many are functional members of society with the help of appropriate treatment and support but here the treatment is horrifying and only hinders and hurts the recipients and could put people off from seeking help themselves. The book states that 40% of the population is Active or "Crazy", a Sleeper (guaranteed to become Active) or a Carrier of the faulty genes responsible. No Pures ever become Crazy. In reality, there are no absolutes.
This is the world Ana has grown up in. To fear the Crazies outside of the walls of her Community of Pures until she's outed as a Sleeper and enters the filthy, neglected and chaotic City (London) and observes the truth for herself. It's only much, much later that she discovers the possibility the Crazy-Pure dynamic is a lie used as a form of social control which just so happens to benefit the evil profit-hungry pharmaceutical companies forcing drugs on healthy individuals and leaving them to self-destruct from the resulting side-effects. But there is far too much doubt regarding the validity of this conspiracy, and comes too little too late for disgusted, insulted and vulnerable readers who may have abandoned the book by now.
The problem is the propaganda spouted by the Pures is too eerily reminiscent of the way society judges mental illness today; with ignorance and contempt for the perceived weakness and potential danger they could pose to others and a need to ignore, dismiss and hide the sufferers away. Anything to distance themselves from the "afflicted". In effect, this book confuses the educational messages mental health charities try to instill in the public by reinforcing the negative and unhelpful perceptions of mental illness in a time of (hopefully lessening) ignorance on the subject. And that's something I can't ignore because this book is being marketed to an impressionable section of society: teenagers -tomorrow's adults. How will they treat this subject after reading The Glimpse?
My anger stayed with me throughout the book but it didn't stop me from acknowledging the vividly realistic future England of the year 2041, the state of global politics and the effects of our Global Depression, the Petrol Wars and the very different transport system, the housing crisis worsened by high repossession rates, the use of cash is outlawed -credit transactions only (big brother), the bankers earning their pitchforks along with their horns, having a personal online presence is mandatory e.g. blogs, the dismantling of the United Kingdom -becoming independent countries once again, the media monopolizing power of the BBC, and the downfall of the music industry and Tesco, etc. It's jam-packed with genius world-building tidbits.
Seventeen-year-old Ana's toxic relationship with her father also had a ring of truth to it. As a character, Ana had formidable strength in the face of an illogical, nay farcical, situation she finds herself in of being the only sane person regularly put under the microscope by none too sane so-called professionals (many of whom enjoy torturing their "patients" and who see everything as a sign of mental illness), unaware of the very pressure they're putting her under would crack the average person faster than you could blink. She's been forced to rein in all emotion, remain composed at all times and conditioned to respond in a calculated manner during all mental health assessments and public appearances for fear of being judged "Active".
Religious people may also get upset with this book as it labels religious belief as a form of psychosis and in this future all religion is illegal because of it's ability to destroy 'every culture that ever existed.' Although there's a hint of the paranormal in the form of Enlightenment Glimpse -the ability to see a short vision, glimpse, of the future used by the only remaining religious organisation which is viewed as a strict brainwashing cult by the Pures.
The love triangle wasn't painful and appears to be resolved in this book. Both men, Jasper and Cole, are older by up to 6 years. For once, I approve of Ana's pick. The ending leaves things open for the sequel (which should resolve everything as Merle has a two-book deal) but it doesn't leave you hanging off a cliff.
Perhaps I'm being overly sensitive due to my personal connection with mental illness. Besides, dystopian fiction takes the negative aspects of society and exaggerates them to the extreme and usually acts as some sort of lesson against behaving in a certain manner. So maybe I have nothing to worry about and have no need to be upset, but then this is just my opinion.
Some may ask me why I read this book after reading the synopsis and knowing what to expect. A synopsis doesn't tell you everything. I have a keen interest in psychology (especially in fiction) and in truth, I assumed some disease had changed human genes somehow and the result altered the nature and development of mental illness. In any case, I'm glad I overcame strong emotions to read the whole book.
WARNING: contains violence, physical and psychological abuse, some gore, and rape.
***My thanks to Faber & Faber and Netgalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.***(less)
Super strong opening chapters with a premise similar to TV’s Dollhouse which although interesting, threw up more questions than answers.
Starters shine...moreSuper strong opening chapters with a premise similar to TV’s Dollhouse which although interesting, threw up more questions than answers.
Starters shines the spotlight on a section of society which is sometimes overlooked or given the least respect but which will in future be the most powerful: the old. One day there will be fewer young people to support the ever-increasing number of elderly citizens, and here we can see how things could change in their favour.
Starters are under 19 years of age, those just starting out in life and Enders are the elderly. The generations inbetween have all died after biological warfare prompted the vaccination of the vulnerable –the old and the young, leaving those in the middle to die prolonged and agonizing deaths.
From the technology available I would guess we’re about 50 years in the future in a post-war America. The reasons for the war aren’t given. All we know is that Pacific Rim countries were involved and that America used an EMP weapon on them and they retaliated with a biologically engineered disease –game, set, match.
The age gap creates a huge gulf between the Starters and Enders. Old legislation addressing the increasing aging population means anyone under 19 cannot work and the large numbers of unclaimed minors whose family have died are unable to legitimately provide for themselves. Orphanages are basically workhouses with inmates treated as prisoners; no one wants to end up there. Squatting and thieving is how most get by, dodging the child-catching Marshals whenever possible. Adoption or fostering seems non-existent. Enders don’t care about Starters unless they’re family. I find this surprising because many Enders would’ve lost children, relatives. Some may be the last members of their families. Hasn’t loneliness spurred any to seek adoption?
The story follows Callie, a Starter, who lost her parents to the war. She has no grandparents and is forced to care for her 7-year-old brother by herself with a little help from Michael, a boy who used to live down the street from her pre-war. They’re currently squatting in an abandoned building practically starving. She can’t bear to watch her sick brother lose any more weight so she visits the not so ethical or legal, Prime Destinations, a place which rents out the bodies of teenagers to Enders who pay large sums of money to feel young again. If she does this she’ll have enough cash to pay for a home and medical care for her brother for the next few years.
For obvious reasons Callie’s reluctant to do this but she has little choice. Unfortunately things don’t go quite to plan, Callie suddenly wakes up in a nightclub instead of the lab and finds out the renter of her body wishes to murder someone. Scared, she pretends she’s her renter to safeguard her payment and attempts to stop her renter from committing this crime which will no doubt lead to her own execution.
Along the way she encounters other renters taking full advantage of their new temporary bodies and think nothing of stealing the lives of the body’s original owners. They take the old adage ‘Youth is wasted on the young’ to heart. These privileged Enders are selfish and greedy. The predatory gleam in the eyes of those at PD were quite creepy, eyeing up the young like they’re cattle for slaughter, salivating at the thought of inhabiting their supple bodies and smooth, wrinkle-free skin. *shudders*
These Enders aren’t your average old people. They live to 200 years old and appear to have no health problems due to advances in medicine, odd because not all Enders are rich and the last time I checked medical care wasn’t free in America so how come none of them appear hampered by age. Sure, some have wrinkles (and others get cosmetic surgery) and watery eyes but no problems running or experiencing a full working life.
Carrie also finds herself spending time with a handsome and rich teen, Blake. Her Prince Charming. Whenever she’s around him the urgency of her predicament, racing-against-time to stop the murder, fades into the background. A day out horse-riding with him and she forgets her responsibilities and starts comparing herself to Cinderella, wondering if the girl from the fairy tale ever considered telling her prince she’s a fraud. I never understood Blake’s appeal considering the over-familiar way he behaves, acting like they’re closer than the strangers they are. And Callie’s ambiguous relationship with Michael –are they more than friends? Even at the end it isn’t clear. Is a love triangle on the horizon?
Reading about how vaccinating the old and young from something so deadly implies this is the wrong course of action generally. Yes, the elderly are an invaluable source of knowledge, wisdom and experience but in a situation where you have limited resources and a serious biological threat, is protecting the weakest to the detriment of the strong really the right decision to make? In this case it left children without parents, manual labour is carried out by those children because the elderly were either too frail or simply felt they were above such work.
The plot is interesting if slightly predictable and the characters are quite thin, I didn't feel particularly attached to any of them. I did have some problems understanding the technology either because we’re given names of something but not what it does or because something we all ready have has been rebranded e.g. Z-mail a.k.a. e-mail, Zing a.k.a. text message –took me a bit to figure that one out. The focus of the book is on the very rich and the very poor Starters but we don't get to see those in the middle, nor do we see any poor Enders. The last page was intriguing but I'm not sure if I'll read the sequel for one reason: the possibility of a love triangle. The rest I believe will be developed and improved upon but I can't abide love triangles.
***Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.***
"Is that it?" was my first thought upon finishing. The only thing saving this is the thought that it was written in 1948, post...moreAvailable as a free PDF.
"Is that it?" was my first thought upon finishing. The only thing saving this is the thought that it was written in 1948, post-WWII. Wartime involved conscription, a national lottery picking random men to become soldiers and sending them to die. Thinking of The Lottery in light of this, and the complicit conformity and reluctance to abandon tradition, together with the similarity to The Hunger Games, provided enough context for me to appreciate this short story.(less)
First, I'd like to apologise for cussing out Mr. Mullin's name for the first third of the book. I told myself it was only a book but it got to me. Act...moreFirst, I'd like to apologise for cussing out Mr. Mullin's name for the first third of the book. I told myself it was only a book but it got to me. Action, terror and death almost from the very first page. I was on edge, longing to shout at Alex to shut up and listen to his woman. I decided to go without sleep at about 33%, sleep is for the weak anyway. I needed closure and I needed it NOW! I saw some of those bad things coming, they were inevitable. But...but...I got scared. Alex + Darla = formidable team, so when they got separated, in a most terrifying manner...MUST READ NOW!
Alex arrived at his uncle's farm in October, it's now April and they're experiencing a perpetual winter. No effort has been made to rebuild infrastructure or establish order. The US still appears to be in political turmoil and rumours abound. Finding Alex's parents and rescuing Darla has us re-tracing their path from Ashfall; passing through another FEMA camp and reuniting with old friends like the fearless old librarian Rita Mae from Worthington (great woman) and old enemies like Black Lake and Colonel Levitov.
"Without children we don't have a future." "Without freedom," Rita Mae yelled back, "why would we want a future?"
When I thought over Alex's actions leading to his separation from Darla and everything up to that point I realised he wasn't just an overly generous softie and arguably stupid (which he freely admits: "I'm too stupid to live. I should have never dragged Darla back out here, not for anything."). The negative adrenaline-pumping and usually deadly consequences could have unexpected silver-linings. He gains allies, information and supplies as well as lessons in future dangers by observing other towns and meeting new people. Like I previously mentioned in my Ashfall review there's a delicate balance of luck and karma. If the characters are praying for something good to happen there may be a miracle but there will always be payment. Nothing is free.
However, I could only hold my breath in desperation and fear for these characters, whilst they were apart, for so long. I couldn't maintain that level of anxiety and slowly I became detached and less interested in what was happening. And so I turned to skimming. Darla was sorely missed although I completely understand how her absence played so well into the plot and the original mission: to find, and if alive, bring home Alex's parents, as well as the subplot involving missing and presumed kidnapped, girls. The way everything just slots into place gives the illusion of mild predictability when really it's a natural progression of events.
I love Darlex (Hehe, that's so Dr. Who but much better than Peniss) having built a strong relationship in the first book (ETA: Emeli Sande's Next to Me describes it perfectly), have it tested and re-affirmed (thankfully) in this one. Absence made the heart grow fonder despite my worry to the contrary.
"If we're going to die anyway, I want to die with you. And if we live, I want to live with you."
I sincerely hope they manage to achieve their dreams of one day marrying and having children when life becomes stable and prosperous. But on a sidenote: those childbirth death certificates were heartbreaking.
I have a new favourite character -Ben. Ben suffers from Autism Spectrum Disorder with social and communication problems, is incredibly intelligent and is an expert in all things military. He's a huge asset. One time he corrects his hostage-takers on their strategy, advising them on how to tighten up their formation. Jaw-droppingly hilarious. I sympathised with Alyssa, Ben's carer and "sister unit", and her attachment to Alex. Oh, that was sad. I was both shocked and as uncomfortable as Alex when she enacted her strategy with the gang. That took courage. She was stronger than she knew.
I've got to give the author props for his increasingly sickening and gory yet realistic portrayals of the fight for survival. Ripping away childhoods and replacing them with the cold, dark and horrifying reality. Showing how any decent and honest person can become an unrecognisable monster. Alex's father may have been on that slippery slope when he does something that requires the suspension of compassion i.e. torture. (view spoiler)[I'm glad that Alex's father finally came to understand Darla's importance after witnessing the changes in his son: his new strength and maturity.
"Responsibility's a cruel bitch. She comes for you whether you want it or not."
His sacrifice was heroic. Both he and Alex's mother had big brass balls playing chicken lighting up that propane tank. (hide spoiler)]
The emotions, action and characterisations in these books are superb. I'm eagerly awaiting the next book. Go, Warren! Go!
P.S. If you ever hear the words "flensers" and "long pork buffet", RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!
***My thanks to Tanglewood Press for the ebook in exchange for an honest review.***["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"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I am the product of MLK's "dream" as the daughter of a black mother and white father. Who knows, I might not be here if people like him hadn't fought...moreI am the product of MLK's "dream" as the daughter of a black mother and white father. Who knows, I might not be here if people like him hadn't fought for racial equality and against segregation.
Brilliant free BBC audio of "I Have A Dream" read by Maya Angelou, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Ndileka Mandela (granddaughter of Nelson Mandela), Stevie Wonder, Doreen Lawrence (mother of murdered British teenager Stephen Lawrence), Malala Yousafzai (sixteen-year-old student from Swat in Pakistan, shot by the Taliban for going to school), and a few others.
Each reader seemed to have read a passage personally relevant to them, bringing new meaning to MLK's eloquent words from his impassioned speech delivered to hundreds of thousands of people in Washington 50 years ago, the anniversary of which was yesterday (28th August 2013).
1st read: 29th Aug 2013 of BBC audio 2nd read: 9th Sep 2013 of Paperback (less)
ETA June 2011: Listened to Samuel L. Jackson reading this on YouTube HERE and he narrated it perfectly. Profanity always sounds great when it's comin...moreETA June 2011: Listened to Samuel L. Jackson reading this on YouTube HERE and he narrated it perfectly. Profanity always sounds great when it's coming out of his mouth.
May 28, 2011: The pdf viral is excellent. Funny because it's true. Definitely a bestseller in the making.
From Publishers Weekly: Finally, one book whose buzz began weeks ago and kept rising after its .pdfs went viral, the wildly titled Go the F*** to Sleep by Adam Mansbach, illus. by Ricardo Cortés, from Akashic Books, is still going strong. Consortium president Julie Schaper reports that there are 225,000 copies in print, the pub date has been moved up to mid-June, and almost all the copies are “spoken for.” In addition, movie rights have been optioned and at least six foreign language rights deals have been struck. Dave Mallman, a bookseller at the Next Chapter, called it a “stroke of genius that irreverently expresses the frustrations all parents face when dealing with our beloved but exasperating children.”(less)
I'm going to preface this review by saying that if I hadn't read interviews and blog posts about this and future books then I would've awarded more st...moreI'm going to preface this review by saying that if I hadn't read interviews and blog posts about this and future books then I would've awarded more stars. Perhaps I'll calm down later and see the light but for now, I'm a bull pawing the sand with my head lowered snorting in anger and frustration despite the fact that I quite enjoyed this book. It's where we go from now that troubles me.
The first half was slow with only a couple of blood-pumping action scenes. The road trip itself, although giving the characters time to bond with Trent was a bit tedious. I was beginning to believe the book had been misrepresented to me and was tempted to abandon it. And although it got better, I was kind of right. It's not what I expected at all.
This book was supposed to be about two things: Trent and Rachel becoming closer and Rachel's fight to get the shunning removed. I was in it for the former but couldn't see it happening with Trent becoming criminally dangerous with his arrogance.
I assumed, as I'm guessing many others will, that Rachel and Trent would have a fling, Trent would ruin things and they both would move on. Not so. Something more serious transpired. They learned to trust each other. Trent rightfully earned everyone's trust. He sacrificed much for Rachel and instead of imposing his will, he gave her a choice. A very important choice. Trent changed in this book partly due to a rather surprising development he'd been keeping secret which now has him tied to Rachel in a way that would have me believing Rachel and Trent will become an item in the next book, the last scene backing me up on this.
However, and this is where I get annoyed, Harrison has stated that Rachel and Trent will not become long term romantic partners. She has even been dropping hints about Rachel's future love interests (all current ones except Trent are no longer possible) in blog posts. This made me angry. I feel like I've been manipulated despite knowing all of this going in. The writing was so good regarding this that I believed they would become an item. Everything points to it becoming a done deal. I don't understand why she would do this, other than to make Trent Rachel's protector, which she now desperately needs to survive.
All of this makes me wonder what Harrison's long-term plan with this series is. I'm concerned about repetitiveness at this point. Rachel's predicament by the end of PD is a return to one she had at the beginning, just replace "black witch" with "demon". This is the 9th book. It almost read like the last. I could happily not read another and not just because I'm disgruntled. I can imagine what could come next but it probably doesn't match what Harrison has in store for us.
I've been questioning my commitment to this series. Kisten's demise led to a break away from it and since then I've missed him. Trent is/was someone I could see Rachel settling with because even though he has, as she puts it: a 'disrespect of innocent lives' and the law, they have great chemistry and now they care and perhaps even love (at least a little) one another. Trent has proven he'll do anything, and I mean anything, to protect what and whom he cares about so I'm failing to understand why...Oh, never mind. This is embarrassing. I'm an action fan, not a romance queen. I'm whining so it's time to shut up now. (less)
Once upon a time, a young naive princess unwittingly encounters a giant disembodied penis in her bed, poking her in the butt. She has no idea what it...moreOnce upon a time, a young naive princess unwittingly encounters a giant disembodied penis in her bed, poking her in the butt. She has no idea what it is as she’s been kept in the dark about male anatomy and sex by her stubborn father, the king. All she knows is that she likes the way it feels...between her breasts and legs much to the shock/horror of her family. Moral: Sex Education is good. Forewarned is forearmed and all that.
Anyway, Prince Rupert hearing of her innocence and virtue begins to court the princess but all she wants to do is spend time with her penis. One kiss and the penis is now attached to a man –Prince Longwood of Shlongdia. Poor Rupert never had a chance against such large family jewels!
You can't help but laugh at the princess's hilarious descriptions and the aunts' knowing comments. (less)
This was an accidental download (thank god it was free!) as I was browsing on my phone which I checked out to see what it was like before deleting but...moreThis was an accidental download (thank god it was free!) as I was browsing on my phone which I checked out to see what it was like before deleting but continued to read instead. I was sucked in. ("Oh it's going to be 4 stars at least!")
A third in and I was tiring of the amazing writing style that had me reading in the first place. It was quirky and journalistic (both William and the author are journalists) that has you smirking and laughing as you nod your head in agreement with whatever calamity has just befallen this poor couple. This style meant the tone of the book remained the same throughout which led to it becoming monotonous. For a short article this would be fine but not for a novel.("Maybe 3 stars?")
William and Isobel face numerous challenges as they settle into married life including besotted best friends (Alex's unrequited love for Isobel) and crazy stalker ex-f*ck buddies (Saskia who mistakes herself for an ex-girlfriend).
Later, I became exasperated with the Alex situation and later the Saskia problem. (view spoiler)[It was obvious Alex was more of an evil mastermind than William thought. How could he know the things he did otherwise? (hide spoiler)] I predicted the ending but not the way in which previously evil characters turned around, apologised and sobbed their way into becoming the architects for a happy ending. ("Oh dear, 2 stars.")
Being from the UK and a regular visitor to the London setting helped me understand the humour. I related to and sympathised with these aspects but I wouldn't say that this book has international appeal because there are too many references to British culture and it's icons, for instance the Ann Widdecombe sex gears gag. Not many people are going to know who she is without reaching out to Google for help.
Basically this book is a string of amusing observations, most of which are common anecdotal stereotypes. However, there are some absolutely hilarious ones which made this worth reading but I doubt I'll buy the sequel William's Progress: Another (sleepless) Horror Story, which plays on the ending of this one.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
"But mayhap you are too beautiful and aught should be done to remove that temptation from his sight."
The abuse. I felt so sorry for Joanna, suffering...more"But mayhap you are too beautiful and aught should be done to remove that temptation from his sight."
The abuse. I felt so sorry for Joanna, suffering the barbaric brutality of her husband. Bernard's abject horror and ferocious rage at her wounds and bruises and his gentle giant nature soothed, contrasting with Ralf's despicable cruelty and her father's indifference to his daughter's pain.
"One with my strength has no need to prove his power at the expense of a weaker one. Nor should any man need have that urge."
Lady Maris is an independent, ballsy woman refusing to marry having no need of a man when she is willing and able to do everything a man can. Seeing how bold she is, offering her fellow woman her skills and help, and then looking at Joanna's spirit -she's Maris beaten down by fear. It will be entertaining to see Maris meet her match.
This is a strong short story. I only wish Joanna and Bernard had snatched a few more moments together before the finale. (less)
Think back to that pilot episode when Gillian Anderson was frumpy and David Duchovny was still cute, when everyone believed...moreCue The X-Files theme tune.
Think back to that pilot episode when Gillian Anderson was frumpy and David Duchovny was still cute, when everyone believed Mulder to be just another nutty alien-enthusiast. That is, until Scully witnessed strange events for herself and her whole world view changes.
"The truth is out there."
The above reflects this first "episode" of Turbulence. First Officer Paul Conin is cast in the role of Scully, the newbie sceptic. Dallas, a flight attendant, is Mulder to Paul's Scully. And like Mulder & Scully, I fully expect these two to get it on. ;)
The first scene, detailing the suicide of the previous First Officer, is a bit confusing but I expect it will all slot into place later on. I look forward to learning more about what happens at the end. (view spoiler)[I wonder why the passengers are "taken" (if that's the correct term) and not the crew. And where do they go? (hide spoiler)]
Guess what I'm reading next? :D["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
In this second episode, we have alternating POVs between Dallas's (Mulder) first turbulence encounter on the way to Bermuda in the past and Paul's (Scully) present experience. By Price structuring it this way we get to know Dallas better, and we also see a few glimpses of what Marlin was like before he committed suicide at the very beginning of Into the Bermuda Triangle.
(view spoiler)[It turns out what's happening is the reverse of what I expected. (This is a good thing!) It's the flight crew and not the passengers who are tampered with. There's a Freudian split of their personalities into two different bodies: the wild id and ego on the normal plane of existence and the calm voice of reason of the superego on this unnerving, deserted plane.
Buffy fans, think of "The Replacement" episode when Xander was split in two: the strong confident one and the weak screw-up. Similar thing here.
Trivia: There really are two Xanders. Real life twins!
Anyway, we get to witness both versions. The crazy ids are wreckless with no inhibitions, they do anything they want while their other halves are forced to sit around, worry and wait until it's time for the return flight out, to be reintegrated when they hit the turbulence again. (hide spoiler)]
I must say, I'm intrigued by this unpredictable tale. 3.5 stars.
Onto the next episode, Red-Eye Dawn.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
That Thing At the Zoo is a good size dark urban fantasy prequel novella introducing a character whose physical appearance I can picture perfectly. Rar...moreThat Thing At the Zoo is a good size dark urban fantasy prequel novella introducing a character whose physical appearance I can picture perfectly. Rarely can I say that, I'm mostly left with a vague overall impression but Mr. Deacon Chalke is a man that cannot and will not be ignored. He's an intimidating 6'4 and 300 pounds. Think WWE star with no hair and lots of tattoos. This guy looks like he could cause trouble and with a classic muscle car complete with a 4-corpse trunk full of weapons, he's equipped to deal with it. Reminds me of a certain beloved Impala belonging to a pair of monster-hunting brothers on TV. Loved that show.
Bottom line: Deacon Chalk, occult bounty hunter, is a total badass. He could kick Harry Dresden's butt easy-peasy. And that brings a smile to my face just thinking about it.
You may actively avoid meeting Deacon on the street or a dark alley but he's not the thug his appearance advertises him to be. He's a man still reeling from, and is haunted by, personal trauma. Monsters murdered his family and now he hunts those dangerous to humans. He's not the "tough guy" cliché often expressed in movies where the hero ultimately gets over his tragic loss by kicking some lame villain's butt then settles down with a waitress he just happened to encounter along the way, completely trivialising the effect his past had on him. No, Deacon has full-on flashback panic attacks he tries desperately to stifle and hopes no one notices his distant, pained silences as he experiences a post-traumatic stress episode. These lapses in concentration aren't professional and are downright inconvenient when hunting deadly nasties but he has no control over when they occur. You feel for his anguish, knowing that if he wasn't a Catholic he would rejoin his family in death.
The side character I'm most eager to get to know is the priest:
I don't know what his life was before becoming a Catholic priest, but he can shoot like a sniper and knife fight like a convict. He has my back anytime I need it, whether that means tending bar at Polecats [strip club] or two steps behind me, shotgun in hand.
The writing style is reminiscent of pre-controversy Anita Blake. Gory and gritty. Visceral. No one is safe from being ripped apart and carelessly tossed aside without dignity.
Although it's obvious this has been written by a debut author, I've found something I've been missing from UF of late: a real sense of darkness without the distracting focus on angst-ridden romance (is it really necessary every...single...book?). There's nothing but the characters, plot and the danger around the next corner to occupy the reader -what a relief. My only real negative is the lack of contractions i.e. can't, won't, etc. which in my opinion, slow the pace and jar the reader out of the story. I'm also surprised Deacon so readily disfigured his tattoos to get some blood to "chum the waters" so to speak. I thought tattoos were treasured permanent works of art but it was emergency so I'll let it go.
When it comes to non-full-length prequels authors aren't usually interested in making a concerted effort to give readers an accurate taste of what's to come, with a few exceptions like this. Next up, Blood and Bullets.
Favourite Quotes 'Rednecks are part of the South, and even when they don't look like much, they usually turn out to be tough as leather and full of skills that save your ass.'
"What the fuck are you doing?" "Putting this thing in the back of my pants like they do on the TV."
'I found Dr. Critter trying to hold off the [spoiler removed] with a bullwhip and an office chair.'
***My thanks to the author for the ebook in return for an honest review.***(less)
Man, this book has qualities I wish Cinder had. Not that Cinder was bad, I just found it difficult to fully understand what it meant to be cyborg just...moreMan, this book has qualities I wish Cinder had. Not that Cinder was bad, I just found it difficult to fully understand what it meant to be cyborg just from Cinder's (likely abnormal) experiences. Not so here. You see I'm fairly new to the concept so I needed it spelled out for me. I get it now. The idea of cyborgs is an intriguing one with many areas to debate and explore. The history and creation of Langlais's half man, half machines struggling to recover their human sides were interesting. I'm glad this isn't a stand alone.
Joe a.k.a. X109GI, is mentally halfway between Seth (very human) and Solus (very robotic) and has managed to recover a small part of his humanity that's until he meets his woman who teaches him jealousy and love. Chloe is a human bereft of life, safety and happiness until she meets Joe.
Chloe's reactions towards the end aroused strong emotion. I felt so sorry for her and completely understood her pain and confusion. But way to get mad! Her homicidal rage certainly rebutted any suspicions she was weak. However, if I understood this correctly there were some continuity issues (view spoiler)[regarding Chloe knowing of being abused and raped on multiple occasions before the memories were forced on her and she remembered it all (hide spoiler)]. Still, I quite I enjoyed this novella.
Solus's book is up next -Yes! (His name sounds like "soulless", does it not? How apt.) Take that, 'cyborg snob'. You will succumb to faulty programming lowly human emotion.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Green Eyed Demon is a major improvement over its predecessor. I laughed, I cried, I sniggered at the dirty, filthy orgy. Yes, you read correctly.
What...moreGreen Eyed Demon is a major improvement over its predecessor. I laughed, I cried, I sniggered at the dirty, filthy orgy. Yes, you read correctly.
What made this so good other than Giguhl's rib-crackingly funny comments, was Sabina's growth. She's been through hell and is having to adapt quickly along the way. It's a rocky road. She makes mistakes. She gets knocked down but she always, always picks her wounded ass back up and lives to fight for another day.
Her fierce determination in protecting those she loves gives her pause. She loves? When did that happen? She's a kick-ass emotionless assassin. Since when did she love anyone, or have anyone to love her? She questions her identity. She was an assassin but who and what is she now? All this leaves her vulnerable and confused. She does her best to cope but the pressures of her sister's kidnapping, her homicidal grandmother and her undefined relationship with Adam, get in the way.
Speaking of Adam. The title refers to Sabina's jealousy regarding him and Giguhl. Her family. Hers. No one elses. They're there when she needs them: in battle, for advice and for a shoulder to cry on. The most useful advice comes from Giguhl (it's all that Oprah he watches) who tell her to seize the day because there may not be a tomorrow.
Sabina has so much to accomplish that she's advised to make a To Do List which went:
1. Perform voodoo ritual on evil owl. 2. Find out who sold us out to the anachronistic Caste vampires. 3. Make amends with lesbian werewolf. 4. Rescue twin. 5. Murder grandmother.
Anyway, this is fast-paced with lots of action, a little romance and tons of laughs. However, I can't give it 5 stars for one major reason which is difficult to explain without spoilers but I'll give it a shot. But you have been warned.
There were two characters that were near death. One was healed with the help of 3 very powerful mages but the other, only one for an injury that I would assume given the magic rules, would be impossible to "heal". Plus, the circumstances in which they were injured meant that person should be dead. This didn't sit well with me which is why it's taken me so long to write a review. But I can also see it from the author's point of view. This character was important and needed to survive but wanted to keep the "everyone thinks they're dead" angst (which was excellent by the way. It produced a highly emotional action scene).
I've never taken to Sabina's overly optimistic and wishy-washy sister so I was pleased she "suffered". I don't wish for her to be jaded, she just needs a bit more reality in her world view to make her more likeable.
The excerpt from the next book was intriguing. 114 days without violence, huh? Sounds dull. Not for long, I bet!(less)
A classic French 18th century version (it's not the original) of the fairy tale. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favourites ever since I saw the Dis...moreA classic French 18th century version (it's not the original) of the fairy tale. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favourites ever since I saw the Disney movie as a child. Classic versions and reworking alike are stories I want to read. This has to be one of the better versions I've read, which goes into more detail than most. I loved the sisters' punishment!
The definition of a monster "Yes, yes, (said the Beast,) my heart is good, but still I am a monster." "Among mankind, (says Beauty,) there are many that deserve that name more than you, and I prefer you, just as you are, to those, who, under a human form, hide a treacherous, corrupt, and ungrateful heart."
On the kindness of sisters "In what is this little creature better than us, that she should be so much happier?" "Sister, (said the eldest,) a thought has just strikes my mind; let us endeavour to detain her above a week, and perhaps the silly monster will be so enraged at her for breaking her word, that he will devour her." "Right, sister, (answered the other,) therefore we must show her as much kindness as possible."
On the qualities of a perfect husband "Why did I refuse him? I should be happier with the monster than my sisters are with their husbands; it is neither wit nor a fine person in a husband, that makes a woman happy; but virtue, sweetness of temper, and complaisance, and Beast has all these valuable qualifications. It is true, I do no feel the tenderness of affection for him, but I find I have the highest gratitude, esteem, and friendship; and I will not make him miserable; were I to be so ungrateful, I should never forgive myself."
You get what you deserve "Beauty. (said this lady,) come and receive the reward of your judicious choice; you have preferred virtue over wit or beauty, and deserve to find a person in whom all these qualifications are united: you are going to be a great Queen; I hope the throne will not lessen your virtue, or make you forget yourself."
Is it possible to change a leopard's spots? "Pride, anger, gluttony, and idleness, are sometimes conquered, but the conversion of a malicious and envious mind is a kind of miracle."(less)
Touch of Power may be mildly similar to Poison Study which does bring in an element of predictability but it doesn’...morePlease, Sir. May I have some more?
Touch of Power may be mildly similar to Poison Study which does bring in an element of predictability but it doesn’t feel repetitive. This world is far larger and more complex than that of the Study trilogy.
Avry has been in hiding and on the run for 3 years and she's tired of it. After people blamed the spread of the plague on healers, they're captured and executed whenever they're found. However, Avry can't stop herself from healing fatally ill children and each time she does she must move on in case the child's parents turn her in, though this time the sickness she's assumed overcomes her and she's captured. While in prison awaiting execution she's approached by a man called Kerrick who breaks her out so she can heal his "friend".
Unfortunately this friend is hundreds of miles away and with a bounty on her head the journey is dangerous even with Kerrick's men accompanying them. When Avry is informed of who she's to heal, she refuses because it's a prince accused of inhumane crimes. Assuming his illness, the plague, would mean certain death for her. Sacrificing her life for a child is one thing, they're innocent but for a cruel and powerful man -no. Kerrick reacts badly, punishing her until she changes her mind. She's too stubborn so they try to change her mind in other ways while they travel.
On the journey she gets to know each man, saving her hate for the mysterious Kerrick. They teach her survival and fighting skills so she can defend herself. Along the way they begin to understand more about the plague, it's link to the sentient network of huge human-eating venus flytrap flowers and the healer's guild. They also encounter a real madman, Tohon, who can influence and read thoughts and emotions using it to gain more territory and power. His experiments are nightmarish and genocidal. Politics and intrigue ensue. There are many fighting for power in the game of thrones kings in this post-apocalyptic fantasy.
The hundreds of miles Avry & co travel, and on foot, makes my feet ache in sympathy. I thoroughly enjoyed the world-building and Avry's journey spanning about 6 months. I loved the high level of detail involved and the intricacies of the characters' magical abilities. I laughed at the Men in Black moment when Avry shouts “Eat me!” to the mutant plant. In fact, I did a lot of laughing. Avry and her merry men grow to be a tight-knit family who jump at the chance to tease, compete and help each other. I was sad when a character died but I have a feeling we’ll see them again though I’m worried about how they’ll be changed by the experience. I wish I had a Papa Bear and friends like these who'd die for me if need be, and vice versa.
Kerrick and Avry's relationship develops and evolves slowly as he learns how to handle his emotions. His desperate 2-year search for a healer and Avry's stubborn refusal turns him into an unlikeable man but with the persuasion of his men he pushes back his anger and gets to know Avry and comes to understand what makes her tick. He shares his skills with her and they come to find they can share and enhance each others magic, something they never thought possible. I enjoyed their slow-burning combustible chemistry, Kerrick's jealousy and finally his realisation that not every woman is like his ex Jael.
And can I just say I love these covers! It’s rare when I want both. One shows pure grit, determination and “power” (LEFT). The other, the delicate yet beautiful effect a “touch” can have (RIGHT).
I definitely look forward to the next installment of this series. Bring it on!
***Thank you to Mira Books for the ARC supplied via NetGalley for an honest review***(less)
Locked In Syndrome. It's a controversial subject that's regularly discussed in the UK, in the same sentence as "euthanasia" and "quality of life". It'...moreLocked In Syndrome. It's a controversial subject that's regularly discussed in the UK, in the same sentence as "euthanasia" and "quality of life". It's a sad situation.
Rose was in an accident a considerable number of years ago which has left her body broken and unrecognisable. She can't do anything for herself and is constantly at the mercy of others. Her only interaction with the world is via communication device that translates what little movement she can make into a voice so she can make herself heard, though that suffers a technical fault, and watching MTV all day. She has few visitors except for her sister but never the man she loved, though it quickly becomes obvious that he married her sister.
Rose longs for the day of her death when she can walk through the special door inside her only respite and retreat to what she calls the "Mind Cafe" where she appears as her younger self, complete and healthy as before the accident, a place she can speak with those who've recently died. She wishes to join her loved ones on the other side and can't fathom why those of her family and friends who weren't disabled in a terrible accident have all died before her. What purpose is there to keep her breathing when she's a vegetable?
It's an awful situation. One in which I hope to never be in. And if I ever am, I hope euthanasia is an option by that point.
"I'm officially a dirty old man. You know how cool that is?" I shook my head. "It's one of the stages of life. Dirty old manhood is what every man secretly waits for."
What would happen if the supervolcano at Yellowstone erupted? Ashfall attempts to answer that question by following Alex, a typical 15-year-old boy fro...moreWhat would happen if the supervolcano at Yellowstone erupted? Ashfall attempts to answer that question by following Alex, a typical 15-year-old boy from the day his world falls apart at home alone while his family are over a hundred miles away visiting his uncle to his quest to be reunited with his family.
What about a supervolcano erupting is so devastating? Ash. Lots and lots of toxic ash. It covers fields, pollutes the waterways, inhale too much it can kill both animals and humans. It's consistency is so fine it can stick to everything, in small amounts slippery to walk on and once mixed with rain can become like thick mud and when it dries it can harden like concrete. It can be so heavy, the pressure on a roof can bring down a building. Travel becomes almost impossible. No air traffic, trains and cars. Walking is the only option. (Or skiing. Cross-country skiing works, too.) Amenities like electricity and communications are down other than a few radio broadcasts. Civilisation has been brought to a standstill.
Apart from the first quarter of the book which was slow and somewhat boring, that all changed once we met Darla. She brought a much needed spark to this book as an intriguing, prickly, independent and resourceful farm girl who's not afraid of a little blood (understatement!) with the mind of an engineer and a MacGyver-like ability to repair and create things out of anything. Basically, she's awesome and definitely someone you want on your side in a crisis. She's one of many strong women in the book.
I loved Darla but I also loved the effect Darla had on Alex. He learns a lot from her -techniques on how to find and prepare food (those scenes may turn meat-lovers vegetarian, you have been warned), that survival can mean doing things that pre-apocalypse you'd judge people for but not now, and (view spoiler)[how to love someone so much they'll die/kill for them. (hide spoiler)] He starts the book as a sheltered city boy, a nerd, a naive 15-year-old with a black belt in martial arts and ends it about 6 months later, a man of 16, hardened by what he'd seen and done. His generosity and compassion were remarkable, could be considered stupid, but still, he didn't abandon his humanity, his morals, when it really counted. Alex even makes a very mature decision that fully grown adults wouldn't.
Luck. Mullin balances this quite well. In pre-apocalyptic life luck plays a role but now luck is everything. Alex's journey means his life is always in danger, he suffers as do those around him but he's also quite lucky. Some of his clouds have silver linings, like meeting Darla. If he hadn't been injured they'd never have met and he would be dead.
It could be argued that at times Alex is too lucky although I wouldn't say that because although the situation is bleak there is hope, a light at the end of the tunnel. I didn't come away from this book feeling depressed despite the subject matter. There's plenty of deep, dark reality: people die in both passive and violent manners, there's the constant feeling of uncertainty. That safe feeling we take for granted no longer exists. The main characters learn from others' experiences as well as by trial and error so it all feels realistic. And there's a bit of humour too.
Alex encounters a great many people and situations: those that are coping, predators, victims, cannabalism, sickness, rescue centres, towns that work together, the religious, etc. They paint a shocking, desperate and vivid picture of what a cataclysmic disaster can do to a western civilisation. Although I do think this is very USA-specific, well it has to be since the supervolcano is at Yellowstone but the availability of guns and the government rescue centre and military responses weren't erm, practical. It's diabolical that the military would care more about politics and money when food is so scarce, their lack of compassion was astonishing considering their main role is to protect the people instead of (view spoiler)[imprisoning and torturing them through neglect. (hide spoiler)] Only in America(?).
As for the wider world, it was really strange to see Chinese humanitarian missions granted permission to help the US. And this:
"The vice president concluded his remarks with strong words for 'those nations whose hoarding and profiteering cause the collapse of the international grain markets.' He pledged to use the full force of the United States to insure an equitable..."
Yeah, the US has become a third world country overnight I'm sure they have a huge influence on the world now. /sarcasm
Two things I really like about this book:
The teenage boy thinks about sex, in a YA book. The teenage girl is older than the boy.
They're probably really strange things to pick up on but I've read quite a few books where the boys have pure non-sexual thoughts and are always, always older than the girl, sometimes by centuries. This is a very welcome and refreshing change.
I'm quite surprised by how much I liked Ashfall, how many times I uttered an "oh my god", "eww" and "oh no!", worrying about how they were going to get out of this or that scrape. I was rooting for Alex and Darla the whole way, hoping they'd survive with as few physical and mental scars as possible, and make it to their goal.
I started this book 60 miles away from home, not the best time, and I wondered what I would do if tragedy struck right then, and my first thought was to get out of the city. Londoners can be scary at the best of times I certainly don't want to get caught there in a crisis. I'm not sure how I'd fare on a journey like Alex's and how it would end for me. Starvation? Suicide? Murder? Would I make it home? Would you?
*Warning: This book contains strong violence, animal slaughter and human suffering.
'What kind of girl cuddles with a cute rabbit she name Buck one minute and the next smashes its skull with a hammer to scoop out its brains?'
'Something about brains and milkshakes didn't compute. Had I wondered into a bad zombie movie?'
'I knew I'd regret leaving Darla, but my family mattered more than some girl I'd just met and barely knew.'
"And I'm not an idiot. And this is getting old. I know you've probably got ash in your panties, but do you have to take it out on me?"
"I...look, it's not logical, but I feel safe with you. I should be freaked out by the dead guy in the room behind us, but I'm not. I know I'd be safer in Worthington, but I didn't feel that way when I woke up that morning and you weren't there."
"When you followed me out of Worthington, that was my real birthday present."
"As it happens I only volunteered to be a camp prostitute. I didn't have to go through with it. But so what if I had? So what if I screwed every motherless guard in that godforsaken camp?" "I don't-" "Would that have made me less of a woman in your mind? Less of a person? Just one of those girls, the easy ones, the ones the high-school cliques gossip about and call sluts? Is that the kind of boy you are, Alex? Is that the man you want to be?"
***Many thanks to Netgalley for providing me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.***["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"]>["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"]>(less)
The Immortal Rules reinvents the tired vampire genre by adding a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world with zombie-like rabids waiting in the shadows to t...moreThe Immortal Rules reinvents the tired vampire genre by adding a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world with zombie-like rabids waiting in the shadows to tear you to pieces. Kagawa has also brought back the vampires of old as soulless killers who've allowed themselves to lose all semblance of humanity, are allergic to sunlight and can only drink blood. True monsters. None of that sparkly, namby-pamby stuff. This mashup of popular genres works, primarily because the world and plot are complex and the main character isn't stupid or emotionally dense.
Sixty years ago the Red Lung virus wiped out billions of people, reducing the vampires' food source. One master vamp presented himself to the human scientists to help in any way he could, providing them with other vamps as test subjects in order to find a cure. The unfortunate result was rabids -vampires warped by the virus, overcome by their predatory instincts are now violent zombies with only basic intelligence and whose bite spreads the virus further. In repsonse, master vampires created walled off cities which hold the remaining humans like prisoners, forced to work and donate blood to their undead masters and in return they receive food. Unregistered humans who don't wish to live as blood slaves survive by squatting in empty buildings, stealing food, trading on the black market and defending their territory from other groups. A tough life and one that our main character leads.
Everyday was a struggle against starvation for Allie and her small group of Unregistereds, within which were stark contrasts between self-sufficiency and well, the exact opposite. Despite being physically capable Stick is fearful and weak, disgustingly so. He's a parasite feeding off Allie, literally. She goes hungry to feed him, cares for him, fights his battles. Pity and his assumed loyalty seemed to be the only reason he was allowed to mooch. I despised Stick's lack of backbone. Not once did he make an effort to be brave.
As you can tell, Allie has a bit of a soft spot for those in need but she also possesses common sense, she's a survivor -one who tries not to let men distract her or bring her down. There's a goal and she will attain it. By any means necessary. She's not afraid to kill in self-defense but she is afraid of losing compassion, of letting her predatory instincts take over and thereby stripping her of her humanity, her morals. Allie’s adamant she won't become like the vampires she's always despised who treat humans as cattle. She strives to better herself and others in any way she can and hopes to one day have the strength and skill to somehow change the status quo, to perhaps free humans from the stranglehold of vampires. Kanin's philosophy of moderation, and choice and treatment of his victims made him an ideal sire and mentor for Allie. He was brutally honest and practical, teaching her vampire history and how to become a samurai (she's of Japanese descent) with her newly acquired katana.
Allie's journey after she's forced to flee the city is an intriguing one but also mildly worrying when she meets the sickeningly nice human guy with "love interest" tattooed on his forehead. Zeke is part of a small group of travellers seeking the elusive human-run city, Eden. Is it real? Is their leader nuts? Joining them was obviously a bad idea but she was lonely and these people obviously need help hunting food, fighting off rabids and hiding from some vengeful vampire. Keeping her undead status under wraps and her hunger in check she gets to know everyone, feeling especially protective of the children who instantly trust her. When the cat's out of the bag, I loved the fact that Allie doesn't let her injured pride lead to vengeance or abandonment. Luckily for them, she cares for the group from afar which led to some much enjoyed action, death and destruction. The last few pages were full of awesome. A stoic and visually beautiful ending.
I can’t fault the writing style. There were moments when I swore I was watching a movie instead of reading, times like these:
My coat snapped behind me as I flew over the water, and the raiders’ eyes bulged as I soared from one side of the catwalks to the other.
There were also a couple of eerily appropriate Bible verses:
“’Again, I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed-and they have no comforter; and power was on the side of their oppressors-and they have no comforter.’”
I suspect Allie will one day provide that comforter.
And there's the better known: “’though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.’” A very literal valley of death.
I can take a guess where things will go from here. (view spoiler)[I expect at some point Kanin and Zeke will meet for the express purpose of sharing knowledge to find a cure to the virus, whether that will be in Eden, I don't know, considering it's a vamp-free zone. I am slightly anxious about the future potential for lovestruck pining but I'm hoping her focus will be on rescuing Kanin before the torture reduces him to a ravening beast. And obviously Allie’s vampire brother will reappear at the most inopportune time. (hide spoiler)] I’m curious enough to find out what happens next to read the sequel.
I frowned, utterly confused. What kind of vampire killed four people, had a cryptic conversation with a street rat, thanked the street rat for talking with him, and then walked off?
'I was dying. I was dying, and this stranger-this vampire- was offering me a way out. Die as a human, or become a bloodsucker.'
‘Will you choose to become a demon with a human face, or will you fight your demon until the end of time, knowing you will forever struggle alone?’
“I’m good to go,” I said, holding my sword. “I don’t have anything except this.” It was kind of sad, really. That I’d lived in a place for seventeen years and had nothing to show for it but a sword and the clothes on my back. And they weren’t even mine.
“And like I said, if the tent falls on you in the middle of the night, don’t panic. You’ll get used to it. No one really worries about keeping things erect around here, and...Wow, that sounded bad.”
‘A large bed sat against the wall beneath a broken window, curtains waving gently in the breeze. On the worm-eaten mattress, two adult skeletons lay side by side, the remains of their clothes rotted away. Between them was a much smaller skeleton, being held in the arms of one of the adults, cradling it to its chest.’
“Allie, you’re a beautiful, exotic-looking vampire girl with a katana. Trust me, if anyone is going to attract attention, it’s not going to be me.”
***My thanks to Harlequin for the ebook via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.***["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"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
"Riveting stuff, Mulder and Scully. Please, continue your good work," Skinner said.
Yes, I'm continuing with The X-Files comparison. I'm determined to...more"Riveting stuff, Mulder and Scully. Please, continue your good work," Skinner said.
Yes, I'm continuing with The X-Files comparison. I'm determined to wring every last drop out of it.
JCP, I love you. You're one excellent writer. This episode just about knocked my socks off. And that's without any sex scenes...yet. ;)
Hitherto, we've had only theories based on assumption about the ins and outs of how the turbulence-induced split realities/bodies/personalities work. Now we have actual science experiments! I love science. Except when it means testing on animals. Yet JCP skirts this by using cockroaches. No one likes cockroaches. The relief I felt at Marlin and Dallas's refusal to act on Kaye's mouse suggestion, was palpable as I silently hailed, "Thank god," at my ceiling.
Marlin's Animal Experiment #1
Roach in the cockpit (in a margarine tub) was duplicated when he rode the turbulence, just like Kaye and Me. I flattened post-turbulence roach and left his carcass in the container. After the return turbulence, his counterpart was not flattened, but he was legs up.
So, dead in the unnatural plane = dead in the normal one.
Marlin's Animal Experiment #3
I removed the left rear leg of Roach 3 inside the turbulence. Not only was he still alive when we embarked on the return flight, but when we came back through the turbulence, HIS LEG WAS STILL INTACT.
So, injured in the unnatural plane = healed in the normal one. Strange, very strange.
Conclusion 'Was the Autopilot body the "real" body, and his post-turbulence existence some mental construct?' We're straying into The Matrix territory here. Die in the Matrix, die in the real world. Hmm.
The Matrix, a mental construct.
Besides having the mechanics to chew on, we also have the four main characters and their relationships with one another to contend with.
Marlin: "If you walked into a crowd and lobbed three water balloons at random," Marlin had once said, "you couldn't nail three people more different than you, me and Kaye." [...] Marlin: "You seem to think everyone's well-being is your personal responsibility. Kaye is reliable, your're nurturing, and I'm bold -practically fearless" Dallas: "And so modest, too." Marlin: "Think about it: we're archetypes. The Leader [Captain Kaye], the Keeper [Flight Attendant Dallas], and the Guide [First Officer Marlin]."
At first, like Paul, I thought Marlin had been playing too many video games and read too much epic fantasy, but then Marlin writes the following:
'So from now on, the two of us [Kaye & Marlin] rode the turbulence together, while Dallas stays whole and does his best to wrangle the Autopilots. It's the only way. These are the roles we've been waiting to play all our lives. Maybe they're even roles we've played in previous lives. Kaye the Leader, Dallas the Keeper, and me the Guide. Maybe we slogged though the fields at Normandy together. Or stormed the Alamo. Or lopped heads in the Crusades. ~An excerpt from Marlin's notebook
And it all makes an odd kind of sense. When Marlin as the Guide suicides out, Paul replaces him. He happens to have the exact qualities that would make him the perfect Guide. He's rigidly OCD and by the book about everything. Science and rational thought will give him answers, not conjecture. And so he tries to reason his way to understanding. So perhaps Marlin's at-first-glance crazy ramblings have weight.
In the end, Paul decides he's going to sign-up for all future flight 511 shifts, however as he decides this he gets a glimpse of his self-absorbed, id-centric Autopilot as his two selves reintegrate.
Paul stared at the drink, then raised it and gave it a sniff. Orange juice-and champagne. Mostly champagne. "What the-?" Captain Kaye said, "You'll want to dump that in the toilet before we touch down." "I'm so sorry. I can't believe-I'd never-oh, man." "I know." Completely unfazed. "That's how it goes when Dallas doesn't stay behind to keep us in line. I'll probably throw up once we land." She sighed. "That's probably for the best."
If you're wondering, Kaye's Autopilot is a glutton. She races to the restaurants credit card at the ready, stuffs herself with good food and drink until she's full-to-bursting. She's put on a few pounds as a result.
The complex plot, level of depth, and character development, is pretty amazing when you realise how these three episodes in total contain only 25,900 words, that of less than half a short full-length novel. This takes real talent. Also, I heart the covers, and I know JCP made them herself.
New episodes can't come soon enough! They just keep getting better.
By reading Eternity Embraced I was hoping to finally finish the series with Ecstasy Unveiled. Unfortunately, dipping my toes back into the Demonica universe again with Eternity Embraced wasn't the motivator I was hoping it to be.
I expected too much, for starters. This is a mid-series short story - those can be notoriously unfulfilling. Adding 'paranormal romance' into the mix can result in tired cliches, which I've apparently outgrown. On the positive side, the couple were together before the events in this story take place, meaning there's no 'love at first sight'. On the other hand, these characters are completely new and hail from an Aegis Guardian cell in Portland, bringing little to the Demonica universe which is primarily based in New York City, though the main couple featured in the debut novel do appear at the end.(less)
All of these Crash stories is making me wonder whether he'll be a regular in the main stories and what part he'll play. I mean, the kiss -where was th...moreAll of these Crash stories is making me wonder whether he'll be a regular in the main stories and what part he'll play. I mean, the kiss -where was that going? Is he going to come between Vic and Jacob or join them? I desperately wanted more so I could figure out how this was going to affect the series. I'd also like to know more about Crash's level one empathy. We've seen it in action but I'd like something from his perspective to clarify it for me.
Damn. I assumed this was a prequel and looked for the next book. Of course, there is no next book. Typical. I was sucked in by this short story which...moreDamn. I assumed this was a prequel and looked for the next book. Of course, there is no next book. Typical. I was sucked in by this short story which had enough potential there to be a longer story or developed into a series.(less)
'Tobias was determined to catch the emo bunny. He had been following it for a while through the forest.
...moreA very short but intriguing story which starts:
'Tobias was determined to catch the emo bunny. He had been following it for a while through the forest. He always wanted an emo bunny. They were soft, cuddly and always needed extra hugs because they were so sad.'
That hooked me. It's young Tobias' strange little adventure with Zachary the zombie through the forest meeting magical creatures, and his innocence and good manners which gives this the feel of a warped fairy tale with not all of it's characters receiving happy endings. The only downside is the repetitive language. I'm moving on to The Emo Bunny That Should: A Story For Demented Children right now.
'The other bunnies didn't understand his feelings. All he really wanted was for someone to come and hold him, rubbing his cheek until everything was okay[...] Why did everything have to be so wonderful when he was trying to wallow in misery.'
Emo is my kind of bunny. He just wants to be left alone but he becomes curious and not at all excited when he finds the Easter Bunny, a not so nice creature, overseeing his duck minions as they capture bunnies and other animals to slave away in the nearby Easter Egg factory. His curiosity leads him to being blackmailed by unlikely rescuers, the plague rats (Help us or we'll give you the plague!). His heroism goes unnoticed and he goes back to his miserable life.
For some reason I want to compare this to Animal Farm even though I've never read it so I could be wrong. Anyway, I rather enjoyed it. I would definitely give Emo a hug and may be slip him a couple of anti-depressants too.
I'm torn. There are some brilliant aspects to this book but it was dreadfully slow. I dragged myself through because after figuring out the Meet Joe B...moreI'm torn. There are some brilliant aspects to this book but it was dreadfully slow. I dragged myself through because after figuring out the Meet Joe Black angle I was curious to know if it would end the same way. It didn't. Actually, it took an unexpected yet not unwelcome turn that may not be liked by the masses.
Abbey is excellently portrayed. Her predicament: the ever-present crushing guilt over her mother's death, the growing distance between her and her father, and her misplaced obsession with Nate (the jock who has an obsession of his own with mountain climbing) resulting from her inability to deal with her guilt, wallowing in it instead of moving on with her life. So she imagines this fictitious romantic relationship with him to help her deal with reality. It comforts her. Yes, it's sort of creepy. She was one step away from becoming a full-on stalker but I understood her crush and empathised.
Her only company was her best friend Tanner but she hadn't revealed much about her mother's death and how she felt about it to him. He had his own hang-ups. He'd also been in a tragic accident but he hadn't been so lucky; he was paralysed from the waist down and in a wheelchair. I enjoyed reading Tanner's POV, witnessing how he was treated by others, how his relationships had suffered and the difference in how Abbey treats him. Without pity. She understands how it is for him without even asking.
'Being loners might have drawn us together out of necessity, but it was our friendship that had made us strong enough to come out the other side.'
The story is all about Abbey's transition. Realising that she's tired of being unhappy, of pretending, lying and hiding. She wants to live. It's a great message and I liked the method in which it was conveyed, reminiscent of Riders of the Apocalypse. Love, and the selfish versus the altruistic needs, wants and decisions we make based on that love were also expertly demonstrated. FYI, love's a bitch.
"Dealing with guilt and grief doesn't leave much room for anything else. I know about that dark stuff, but one day if you're really lucky, you get tired of feeling bad all the time. It's like a curtain opens and light comes in. First, it's only a sliver. Then more."
However, it's not all smooth sailing. Besides being slow I really struggled to remain interested whenever we joined Nate's dangerous climb up the mountain. Since seeing Cliffhanger as a child I never even contemplated doing something so unnecessarily hazardous. Rescue teams must love those guys. Anyway, when the Angel of Death does his Joe Black thing to Nate I cringed at his interactions with Abbey. Perhaps it was realistic given her crush but the way she sort of accepted not-Nate's behaviour was uncomfortable to read. I wanted her to push harder when she called him on it, which would've sped up proceedings.
Death had been dealt a bum hand, poor guy. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. As powerful as he was he couldn't control everything and he wasn't perfect. He made mistakes. The mythology surrounding Death was intriguing. He's sort of a swallower of souls, holding them inside him for safe-keeping until the day he's the last one to die. But each soul changes him, for better or worse and this is what prompts him to make contact with Abbey. The ravens were a nice touch -suitably eerie.
As for the romance, well this is tricky. How much to say? There are three potential boyfriends, I guess. One from Abbey's past, her present and future. And the most obvious is not the guy Abbey chooses, and I'm glad of this. Some might not be pleased but just this one aspect makes On a Dark Wing unique, for multiple reasons. The resolution at end was well done. I can definitely see people reacting in that manner to such an extraordinary situation although the lead-up to the climax was a little ludicrous.
Would I recommend this to anyone? Well, I didn't hate this book and I wouldn't dissuade anyone from reading it. In fact, I might warn them it's slow but I'd encourage them to read to the end because I think the effort just might be worth it.
***Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with this ebook.***(less)
To anyone who downloaded Audiobooksync.com's free William Roberts narration: the end of chapter 4 is cut short and chapter 5 is completely missing. To...moreTo anyone who downloaded Audiobooksync.com's free William Roberts narration: the end of chapter 4 is cut short and chapter 5 is completely missing. To bridge the gap, you can read those parts for free in whatever format here.
Despite the above problem I quite liked The Call of the Wild, though I know that had I read instead of listened to Jack London's words my rating would be lower. In part, this is due to the authoritative voice of William Roberts, reminding me of Iain Glen's (Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey), delivering the story with gravitas - a voice made for the wise man telling stories around the campfire to a rapt audience - overruling the effect of the wordy prose, from which some classics suffer, and stifled any boredom and frustration I may have had.
Saying that, the description of the scenery is above reproach. Although I've never been to Alaska or western Canada, I know it's a rugged, untameable and beautiful terrain where only the hardiest can eke out a living, somewhat echoing Buck's tale.
Buck is a domesticated family dog, half St. Bernard (like Beethoven), half Scotch Shepherd (think Lassie), living a comfortably relaxed life when he's stolen and sold, his will brutally broken, into dog-sled teams, passing through the hands of various masters. Along the way he learns how to survive on little food while doing hard work, how to socialize with other dogs, and how to assert his will, eventually becoming top dog, an alpha.
Once finished, I felt the overall message was this: being comfortable, i.e. fat and happy, or greedy, breeds complacency, and complacency in a world where it's the 'survival of the fittest,' is fatal - the strongest, most intelligent prosper, and the foolish die horrible deaths. A message applicable today as it ever was. Mercedes, her brother, and her husband all deserve Darwin Awards, though I felt for the poor, helpless, starved-almost-to-death dogs that die with them.
Buck conquers every challenge put to him, each one more difficult, bringing him closer to his wild roots, his suppressed instincts surging to the fore. The one time he was unable to overcome his circumstances, in the neglectful and abusive care of Mercedes, and Co. he was granted mercy on two fronts. John Thornton puts a stop to his beating, which could've been fatal on its own, but moments after Thornton takes ownership of a near-dead, starved Buck, his canine comrades and their human masters die foolishly when the thin, spring ice breaks beneath them.
Buck's journey shows him experiencing pain, hunger, anger, happiness, love (for his master John Thornton), and sorrow. Strangely, he doesn't appear to have a sex life until the end, after abandoning civilisation to become his own master and dominant alpha of a wild wolf pack, off-stage implying the next generation share his physical traits.
I highly recommend the audiobook for anyone wishing to read Jack London's timeless classic.(less)
A tale of two halves. First 50%, 1 star. The second, 4 stars.
Five years ago, when this was first published, the language used, in the first half in pa...moreA tale of two halves. First 50%, 1 star. The second, 4 stars.
Five years ago, when this was first published, the language used, in the first half in particular, wouldn't have seemed so cliched. The pace was slow and I didn't feel anything for the characters. But when Annabelle meets the pack things start to change. And then something devastating happens and Anna's emotions reached out and grabbed my throat, squeezing until my eyes watered. The only thing I didn't like about that part: when Kieran and Annabelle reunite they don't talk about the (view spoiler)[miscarriage (hide spoiler)] or address the effect it's had on them and how they'll proceed with their future.
As for Ryland, I suspect the author's going to do a Kleypas and turn our wannabe rapist into a hero. It takes immense talent to accomplish that and considering his behaviour throughout Shewolf I'm not confident his change in character would successfully win me over and convince me he's a good guy deep down.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Set after the Moon Trilogy, I enjoyed this more-so than those books. It was the slow burn that did it. The hero and heroine don't get together until 5...moreSet after the Moon Trilogy, I enjoyed this more-so than those books. It was the slow burn that did it. The hero and heroine don't get together until 5 years after they first met, and the hero is the alpha of the Cat Clan -that's some self-control!
However, when Wheeler found Emma she was a mess. Damaged by the one who had turned her and forced to kill him to escape, and then with no advice or support she was doing her best to survive on her own. She didn't trust anyone, especially not some strange Cat Alpha. It took her a very long time to even step on to the Cat compound and even longer to become part of their community.
But because of the Alpha's obvious interest in her no one could get close enough to her to become her confidante and therefore impart valuable information on mating so she didn't understand the alpha's interest in her!
I loved the retrospective scenes where we come to understand Emma's background and her relationships and position with the Cat Clan. She may be a small wereanimal as an ocelot but she's fierce and cunning.
My Favourite Scene Security conscious Emma is an Ocelot to Wheeler's lazy, arrogant Lion.
'The economy of movement through the leaves of the tree made little noise, but it was enough that Wheeler turned his massive leonine head in her direction. The sight if a thirty-five pound ocelot flying directly at him must have been disconcerting. The comical expression on the feline face would have been rib-tickling if Emma could have taken a moment to stop and consider it. He was amazed that Emma was doing what she had done. The with bruising force, she abrubtly connected with his body, wrapping her claws around his neck, digging into his back with her rear legs in a manner that made Wheeler suddenly erupt with fury. She bit his neck as he leapt upward, bucking her like a horse with an unruly rider. Sharply, Emma spun on his back and raced backward down his spine, leaping over his violently slashing tail into the brush. Wheeler roared. So much for his serenity. Mere seconds later he was bellowing after her, "Emma, goddammit! What the hell was that?!"'