"You just have to be a virgin, too. You're twenty-three years old. It's just wrong," he shouted. "I raised you to be more evil than this." "I told you before, not until I fall in love," I said ... "Hey, if it's any consolation," I said in an effort to cheer [Satan] up, "I probably won't wait to get married first. That's a little sin, right?" "I guess."
'The irony of it all, though, was I loved it when guy got medieval and protective. I just wished my feminist side would allow me to enjoy it.'
'His lack of comment intrigued me. In the past, whenever I announced my untouched state, I then became inundated with impassioned speeches of how they were the one. A few even made false declarations of love. Unfortunately for them, my father didn't raise a fool.'
'For the world's biggest slut, Bambi was an awesome big sister. And no, that wasn't an insult; Bambi took pride in winning the title every year.'
"I'm so proud of you, Muri, living in sin." I think he might have choked up a bit. For my part, I was glad I'd finally done something Dad approved of."
I used to be a boghandler, that's 'bookseller' in Danish. If there are enough diamonds in the world to give everyone a cupful, why are they so expensiI used to be a boghandler, that's 'bookseller' in Danish. If there are enough diamonds in the world to give everyone a cupful, why are they so expensive? Did you know Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, married Oscar Wilde's first girlfriend? There's a joke in there somewhere, I know it.
The point is, these 1,227 QI Facts are eye-opening, hilarious and just plain weird. Trivia isn't for everyone but this is a great toilet or coffee table book, something you can dip in and out of whenever the mood takes you. And you know those awkward moments when you realize you've nothing to talk about when you're stuck with someone you're forced to interact with, well you can use the gems in these pages as little conversation starters. Just memorize a few.
At £0.20 for the Kindle edition, this was a steal. The only thing that could've made it better would be if Stephen Fry had written it.
Below are a few of my favourites - which seem to revolve around sex, death and books - are grouped into definitions & translations, literary facts and general trivia.
DEFINITIONS & TRANSLATIONS
Words we need to read in romance novels:
Blissom vb. To bleat with sexual desire.
Meupareunia n. Sexual activity enjoyed by only one of the participants.
Callypygian adj. Having beautiful buttocks.
Areodjarekput is an Inuit word meaning ‘to exchange wives for a few days only’.
Gymnophoria is the sense that someone is mentally undressing you.
Words we need to use in everyday life:
Eye-servant n. One who only works when the boss is watching.
Hemipygic adj. Having only one buttock; half-arsed.
Deipnophobia n. The fear of dinner party conversations.
Nomophobia n. The fear of being out of mobile phone contact.
The symbols used by !$%@ing cartoonists to indicate swearing are called grawlixes.
The pleasant smell of earth after rain is caused by bacteria in the soil and is called petrichor – from Greek petros, ‘stone’ and ichor, ‘the fluid that flows through the veins of the gods’.
The Finnish word for pedant, pilkunnussija, translates literally as ‘comma fucker’.
Cockshut is another word for twilight – the time of day when chickens are put to bed.
Ultracrepidarian n. Someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
Until the 19th century the English word for actors was ‘hypocrites’.
The road signs of the Austrian village of Fucking are set in concrete to deter thieves.
More than 50% of NASA employees are dyslexic, hired for their superior problem-solving and spatial-awareness skills.
The Dyslexia Research Centre is in Reading.
Fewer than 5% of blind or visually impaired people in the UK can read Braille.
1,500,000 [Americans] are injured [each year] as a result of doctors' bad handwriting.
25 million Bibles were printed in 2011, compared to 208 million IKEA catalogues.
2.5 million Mills & Boon novels were pulped and added to the tarmac of the UK’s M6 toll motorway to make it more absorbent.
Within 200 yards of the flat in Islington where George Orwell had the idea for 1984, there are now 32 CCTV cameras.
Oprah is ‘Harpo’ backwards. Oprah Winfrey’s real name is Orpah (after the sister of Ruth in the Bible) but no one could say or spell it properly so she eventually gave up correcting them. [Harpo is the stepson of Oprah's character in the film adaption of Alice Walker's The Color Purple.]
The Malleus Maleficarum, a 15th-century treatise on witchcraft, warned that witches stole men’s penises and kept them in birds’ nests.
In online dating sites you are more likely to come across a teacher or lecturer than someone from any other profession.
Every year, a thousand letters arrive in Jerusalem addressed to God.
Casanova was a librarian.
Every human being starts out life as an arsehole: it’s the first part of the body to form in the womb.
In the 19th century, [doctors literally 'blew smoke up your arse' (rectal inflation)] to resuscitate the drowned.
The penalty for adultery in ancient Greece involved hammering a radish into the adulterer’s bottom with a mallet. Radishes were a lot longer and pointier in those days.
Sucking a king’s nipples was a gesture of submission in ancient Ireland.
More than 50% of koalas have chlamydia.
Baby koalas are weaned on their mother’s excrement. It is consumed directly from their mother’s bottom in the form of ‘soup’.
Male fruit flies rejected by females drink significantly more alcohol than those that have had a successful encounter.
A female ferret will die if she doesn’t have sex for a year.
Until 1857, it was legal for British husbands to sell their wives. The going rate was £3,000 (£23,000 in today’s money).
Vatican City has the highest crime rate in the world. Though the resident population is only just over 800, more than 600 crimes are committed there each year.
In Japan only 2% of adoptions are of children; 98% are adult males aged 25 to 30.
Aerosmith have made more money from Guitar Hero than from any of their albums.
Each year, drug baron Pablo Escobar had to write off 10% of his cash holdings because of rats nibbling away at his huge stash of bank notes.
St Vitus is the patron saint of oversleeping.
In 2010, the Catholic Church had an income of $97 billion. [That's more than Apple.]
Italy’s biggest business is the Mafia. It turns over $178 billion a year and accounts for 7% of GDP.
Sudan has more pyramids than Egypt.
The US has only 5% of the world’s population, but almost 25% of its prison population.
In 1672, an angry mob of Dutchmen killed and ate their prime minister.
The Aztecs sacrificed 1% of their population every year, or about 250,000 people. They also sacrificed eagles, jaguars, butterflies and hummingbirds.
After George W. Bush was re-elected president in 2004, the number of calls from US citizens to the Canadian Immigration authorities jumped from 20,000 to 115,000 a day.
Modern homing pigeons find it more convenient to follow motorways and ring roads and turn left and right at junctions rather than using their in-built navigational abilities.
Most antibiotics are made from bacteria. And bacteria can get viruses.
Refreshingly not politically correct. Loved the comic strips which rendered perfectly well on my Kindle. I was most interested in the Scottish historyRefreshingly not politically correct. Loved the comic strips which rendered perfectly well on my Kindle. I was most interested in the Scottish history (e.g. Jacobite Rebellion) and the personal hygiene and fashion of the period. Had I still been a child I'm sure I'd have given this 5 stars. The only one I read and enjoyed back then was The Vile Victorians....more
*Warning:Much violence described in this review. Not for those with weak stomachs. Seriously.
Weak and cowardly - that's what the people of this book*Warning:Much violence described in this review. Not for those with weak stomachs. Seriously.
Weak and cowardly - that's what the people of this book would believe of us in the developed world today. We'd call ourselves civilised and our forbears barbarians, but humanity's managed to survive through some exceptionally horrific times. Many lessons can certainly be learned from our history.
Some Survival Tips:
✻ Expedition of exploration is code for "suicide mission". ✻ If a relative or close friend is/could be in a position of power and authority, run far away and go into hiding. ✻ Never love anyone. They can be used against you or slaughtered in front of you. ✻ Never own anything worth killing for. ✻ When war breaks out, relocate from the warzone. ✻ Be willing to switch religion at a moment's notice. ✻ Any weapon you possess may be used against you. ✻ If you're an executioner, always keep your blade sharp. ✻ Hide all books in a fireproof place, behind lock and key.
Funny, informative and riveting. One Bloody Thing After Another reads like an adult version of Horrible Histories, divulging all the best bits and possibly the least well known parts of our bloody world history in an engrossing and funny manner. Illustrations and maps of territories belonging to different empires throughout the ages are included. All were perfectly rendered on my Kindle.
Events are covered up to 1900 and range from the natural disasters like plague, earthquake and volcanic eruption, to the man-made horrors of war, genocide, serial killers, assassinations, and the crazy inventive methods and devices of torture. Brief but detailed summaries of events are given in easily digestible chunks, each one taking up only a handful of paragraphs so it was hard to get bored. Origin stories of certain fictional works are described, for example, Gilles de Rais was the inspiration for Bluebeard by Charles Perrault.
The torture. Yikes. Be careful what you invent in the way of devices because someone might turn around and use it against you, as in the case of the Brazen Bull. I wouldn't mind if the Wall Street Bull was converted so we can roast a few fat cat bankers. I'll provide the marshmallows.
While we're on the subject, I'm calling shenanigans on the double standard regarding female torturers and serial killers receiving lame punishments when their male counterparts were tortured and killed for their crimes. Examples:
❶ Elizabeth Báthory had her servant girls 'beaten and their lips pierced with pins' and 'red-hot irons were pressed on to the feet and mouths'. 'Victims were dragged naked into the snow and had water poured onto them until they froze to death. One servant girl was stripped, covered with honey and left overnight to be stung and bitten by insects.' At age 44 her husband died (1604). New servant girls were acquired and 'daughters of the gentry were invited to live in her castle.' 'At least 300 girls and women, nobly born as well as commoners ... were put to death in an inhuman and cruel manner. She cut their flesh and made them grill it; afterwards she would make them eat bits of their own body.'
Punishment: 'Lifelong house arrest in the castle where she had committed her foul deeds.'
❷ Darya Saltykova in 1756 inherited 600 serfs from her husband and promptly started torturing them for pleasure. Several years and the unexplained disappearance of 138 girls later, she was found guilty of murdering 38 serfs.
Punishment: 1 hour in a pillory in Moscow and imprisoned in an underground cell in a convent where she experienced total darkness until death in 1801.
❸ Ranavalona proclaimed herself queen of Madagascar in 1828 and began torturing, crucifying and beheading Christians. 'Brigands, runaway slaves and rebels were flayed alive, sawn in half or had their testicles slowly crushed.' *winces* She also tested for treason in arbitrary ways similar to the identification of witches, one of which involved 'progressive amputation'. 'After each amputation, the victim was invited to confess their crimes.' Most died from shock and blood loss.
Punishment: In 1861 she died in her sleep. No punishment meted out.
Hardly justice for those that suffered at their soft, pampered hands. Perhaps being rich has its perks.
But successful innocent women were also suspicious. Poor Hypatia, 'head of the Platonist School in the city [Alexandria, Egypt] and possibly the first major female mathematician' was rumoured to practise witchcraft. Of course, she was. She was also vocally against the persecutions of Jews. What happened to her? Apprehended, taken to a church to be stripped and beaten to death. Charming.
Boudica and Joan of Arc also met violent ends, but they participated in and started wars so it was a hazard of the job. Surprisingly, there were methods of violence against women I had never considered, for instance the ripping out of foetuses and either killing them or sewing them to the mouths/breasts of their mothers. Sadistic. Breast mutilation and removal, also quite common. And now my mind is conceiving of methods not mentioned.
I apologise to friends and followers for my over-eager and excessive status updates for this 190-page book clogging up your feeds. Honestly, I tried to limit them in number and keep the most gruesome parts out to protect any weak stomachs.
Boring history is boring no longer with this book. Anyone even vaguely interested should give it a go, because I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Currently available for £1.09 in the UK Kindle Sale!...more
From the introduction: 'Drugs are tested by the people who manufacture them, in poorly designed trials, on hopelessly small numbers of weird, unrepresFrom the introduction: 'Drugs are tested by the people who manufacture them, in poorly designed trials, on hopelessly small numbers of weird, unrepresentative patients, and analysed using techniques which are flawed by design, in a such a way that they exaggerate the benefits of treatments. Unsurprisingly, these trials tend to produce results that favour the manufacturer. When trials throw up results that companies don't like, they are perfectly entitled to hide them from doctors and patients, so we only ever see a distorted picture of any drug's true effects. Regulators see most of the trial data, but only from early on in a drug's life, and even they don't give this data to doctors or patients, or even to other parts of government. This distorted evidence is then communicated and applied in a distorted fashion. In their forty years of practice after leaving medical school, doctors hear about what works through ad hoc oral traditions, from sales reps, colleagues or journals. But those colleagues can be in the pay of drug companies - often undisclosed - and the journals are too. And so are the patient groups. And finally, academic papers, which everyone thinks of as objective, are often covertly planned and written by people who work directly for the companies, without disclosure. Sometimes whole academic journals are even owned outright by one drug company. Aside from all this, for several of the most important and enduring problems in medicine, we have no idea what the best treatment is, because it's not in anyone's financial interest to conduct any trials at all. These are ongoing problems, and although people have claimed to fix many of them, for the most part they have failed; so all these problems persist, but worse than ever, because now people can pretend everything is fine after all.'
I've unknowingly read Ben Goldacre's Bad Science column in the Guardian before, more recently a couple of days ago while researching a particular drug when I found out he was also a psychiatrist. Only a week before I'd remembered seeing this book in a book store and immediately decided to order it.
The cosy, old school hand-painted illustration of a book-cluttered hall in karen's review together with the title The Library enticed me to grab this,The cosy, old school hand-painted illustration of a book-cluttered hall in karen's review together with the title The Library enticed me to grab this, appropriately, from my local library. I'm so glad I did!
Yes, I'll grudgingly admit I'm not a child anymore, but I'm well aware of these new soulless block-colour, crisp-lined, computer-generated illustrations which frankly offend my senses, that seeing something lovingly created the old fashioned way warms my heart and fills me with child-like glee. I sound ancient with my When I was young..., I'm really not, though. Unless you think being in your twenties, old.
In simple rhyming rhythm the story is told of every seriously obsessive bibliophile [put your hand up if you are one - *waves*] named Elizabeth Brown. From birth it seems she loved books, and I mean loved them, as in addicted to buying them, storing them in every place she can, and reading every minute she can spare throughout every stage of her life.
The ending, I won't spoil it, in 1995 could be quite different now with the advent and popularity of e-readers, which is a shame. But it reminds me of the pledge made by Lionel Shriver in the adult essay compilation of a similar name, The Library Book.
There are more words in this review than there are in the book. You know what? I enjoyed this so much I. must. buy. it. Don't tell anyone, will you? I all ready have overflowing bookshelves myself, despite the Kindle by my bed.
Perhaps I should make a pledge of my very own. :D...more
Did you know Barbie dolls were modelled after blonde German sex dolls called Bild Lilli? Disturbing to know I played with a sex doll as a child. o_O
CDid you know Barbie dolls were modelled after blonde German sex dolls called Bild Lilli? Disturbing to know I played with a sex doll as a child. o_O
Chapter One: Raunch Culture Published in 2006 one would assume Female Chauvinist Pigs would be fairly up-to-date, but it becomes obvious quite quickly that much has changed in the six years since this was written. Here, Levy focuses on the late nineties and early noughties, in the days of Sex and the City, Sexcetera, and Eurotrash, producing nauseating examples of raunch, harassment and coercion of women, exploiting them and their insecurities for entertainment and profit. Playboy's hypocrisy is maddening.
I could almost picture Levy's lips curling with distain and hear the disgust in her voice as she makes judgements about what women do with their own bodies. Framing her concerns in terms of self-respect and self-worth would encourage these strippers and porn stars she castigates, to listen to her arguments. Her angle seems to be to comment and complain rather than influence change to the status quo, therefore FCP appears at this stage only marketable to conservative types, or at least those that keep their private parts private.
Nevertheless, she does tell both sides of the story by using, as examples, the women who embrace, participate and perpetuate raunch culture, and Hugh Hefner and Playboy, letting their own words and actions speak for themselves. However, there is no mention of disadvantaged backgrounds or anything else that could lead them women to turn to raunch. [She rectifies this in Chapter 6.]
Chapter Two: The Future That Never Happened Less relevant to me as a non-American was the description of American feminist history, most of which was completely new and confusing to me, though, in the end, I grasped Levy's messages.
The ultimate (ideal) feminist goal:
“Women as a class have never subjugated another group; we have never marched off to wars of conquest in the name of the fatherland ... those are the games men play.We see it differently. We want to be neither oppressor nor the oppressed. The women’s revolution is the final revolution of them all. [...] The goals of liberation go beyond the simple concept of equality.”
Feminism diversified and splintered into the anti-porn feminists vs. sex-positive feminists, the former believing porn degrades women and feeds rape culture, while the latter thought porn empowering; evidence of sexual emancipation and freedom to pursue active sex lives, like that of men.
Raunch culture was pervasive, unrelenting. At its emergence, when it wasn't instantly rejected, it's subversive nature, working in the background until those you'd expect to denounce it embraced it instead, even feminists. That's when it became socially acceptable. The saying, 'give them an inch and they'll take a mile' comes to mind.
[Levy's thoroughly ruined "sexy" for me. She'd probably like that since we agree it's been co-opted as a slang term for "cool".]
Chapter Three: Female Chauvinist Pigs
'Why worry about disgusting or degrading when you could be giving - or getting - a lap dance yourself? Why try to beat them when you can join them?’
‘Them’ being men. Joining men meant taking part in male activities i.e. forgetting the feminist cause upheld by your forebears and participating in the un-sister-like behaviour of denigrating your fellow woman by acting like a man. In effect, they switch teams and start actively working against feminist goals and promote male ones. ‘FCPs don't bother to question the criteria on which women are judged, they are too busy judging other women themselves.’
In turning ‘traitor,’ FCPs can be interpreted as Uncle Toms. ‘An Uncle Tom is a person who deliberately upholds the stereotypes assigned to his or her marginalized group in the interest of getting ahead with the dominant group.’ Upholding sexist stereotypes and mimicking male behaviour by positioning themselves as the exception to the rule, setting themselves apart from other (inferior) women –‘the girly-girls’, ingratiates FCPs to men by showing them they share a similar mindset, thereby reinforcing anti-feminist views once the subject of them (women) accepts them.
So Levy theorises there are two types of FCP:
(1) ‘acting like a cartoon man-who drools over strippers, says things like "check out that ass," and brags about having the "biggest cock in the building"' (2) 'or acting like a cartoon woman, who has cartoon breasts, wears little cartoon outfits, and can only express her sexuality by spinning around a pole.’
Both involve pleasing and seeking the approval of others rather than being true to individual wants and needs.
Chapter Four: From Womyn to Bois Lesbianism and the transgendered are the examined in this chapter.
Butch (masculine lesbians) and femmes (feminine lesbians) I've heard of, bois is a new one on me. They seem to be characterised as behaving similar to teenage boys: unsophisticated, immature, letting their id control their actions.
[There is] 'another camp of bois who date femmes exclusively and follow a locker-room code of ethics referenced by the phrase "bros before hos" or "bros before bitches," which means they put the similarly masculine identified women they hang out with in a different, higher category than the feminine women they have sex with. This school of bois tends to adhere to almost comically unreconstructed fifties gender roles. They just reposition themselves as the ones who wear the pants-they take Feminist Chauvinist Piggery to a whole different level.'
I'm in complete agreement with Rosskum on finding 'the idea that there are two distinct genders and nothing in between constricting and close-minded.' Physically, genetically, hormonally and psychologically -One person can be a different gender in each of those categories (intersex). XX and XY are not the be all and end all to gender identification.
'Women are actually becoming men' and 'Elective cosmetic surgery - implants for straight women, mastectomies for FTMs (female-to-male transexuals) - is popular to the point of being faddish. Non-committal sex is widespread, and frequently prefigured by a public spectacle.'
Why so much body modification (or mutilation)? Genuine need for plastic surgery to aid reconstruction after injury or cancer, psychological requirement (e.g. gender dysphoria, severely impeding quality of life), or fear of dangerous situations (e.g. revirginization of girls worried about repercussions from religious community) -Those I understand, but to make possibly life-altering decisions when succumbing to peer pressure or to conform for acceptance is profoundly sad.
Almost exclusively focusing on specific subgroups of women in two metropolitan areas (San Francisco and New York City) of one country, such as the career woman, the stripper, masculine lesbians (butch and bois), FTMs, serves to highlight extremes among minorities some of which the global media may have made popular and as a result, socially acceptable, to the detriment of the feminist cause (i.e. equality with men) and the benefit of masculinism by reconfirming the superiority of men.
Unrepresentative of the larger population, these generalisations based on small groups aren’t necessarily indicative of a larger problem and treating them as such may hurt Levy’s message when some of us haven’t experienced or witnessed the examples given (but just because we've not encountered something doesn't mean it doesn't exist), and fail to see or understand the relationships between certain behaviours, causes and effects detailed.
Culturally speaking, on the whole, this is only directly applicable to metropolitan America, and to a lesser extent other developed countries, because feminism isn't always recognised or is oppressed in the developing world.
Chapter Five: Pigs in Training By far the best chapter, describing the feelings and actions of teenage girls, and the ineffectual sex education they receive.
A girl's self-worth is derived from the attention of boys, competition with other girls for a boy's attention results in dressing provocatively, flirting, the flashing of 'assets', performing oral sex on boys, intercourse and publicly documenting nudity or sexual acts and sharing them to increase one's popularity. Sadly, peer pressure seems to dictate when girls lose their virginity rather than thrill-seeking curiosity and the pursuit of pleasure.
At no point does it occur to these girls to request reciprocal oral sex, and have difficulty recognising, expressing and experiencing sexual desire, and sex education doesn't teach 'sexuality as a larger more complex, more fundamental part of being human.' Instead guilt-ridden Christian America has spent $1bn in ten years teaching abstinence while ignoring contraception or lying about its effectiveness. The message children receive is:
'Girls have to be hot. Girls who aren't hot probably need breast implants. Once a girl is hot, she should be as close to naked as possible all the time. Guys should like it. Don't have sex.'
Chapter Six: Shopping for Sex Levy's highly critical of Sex and the City, Carrie in particular, because she 'rarely evaluated her own happiness' and instead 'measur[ed] men's interest' which is a 'flawed guide to empowerment.' I loathed Carrie's unchecked materialist obsession with expensive shoes when she needed money to pay her rent. She regularly offended my practical sensibilities and her frequently 'complicated' love life because she made it so.
As a teenager I watched the show with fascination and surprise. It was a source of sex education, an insight into the fashionable American woman, and covered important subjects I'd never considered before, like abortion. Miranda and Charlotte were my favourite characters, though I respected Samantha's refusal to be embarrassed about anything sex-related, to her it was a fact of life, which it is.
I'd argue with Levy about Samantha's mannish approach to her sexual exploits as Levy emphasises FCP's requirement for quantity of sexual partners over quality, knowingly robbing themselves of satisfying sex, whereas Samantha made a concerted effort to get as much enjoyment and pleasure out of every conquest she could, exploring the different facets of sexuality along the way, without fear or judgement. She doesn't comfortably fit the mould Levy's created, though she does match a few of the criteria.
An underlying inferred theory for the reason women act like men by seeking unemotional, non-committal sex, is the possible prior rejection and hurt experienced after what turns out to be a one-night stand, encouraging women to take out emotion from the equation when they recover and decide to move on to the next man, and use sex as proof of future desirability to soothe the insecurities that arose from that injury to her pride.
Pornography is documented prostitution, and Levy argues stripping falls under this category as well, for the commodification of a naked body. She goes on to use successful porn star Jenna Jameson as an example of the damaging nature of porn:
'Jameson thinks that women outside the sex industry have internalized its spirit and model their sexuality on porn. [She] presents life in the industry as marked by violence and violation: She tells us she was beaten unconscious with a rock, gang-raped, and left for dead on a dirt road during her sophomore year of high school; she was life-threateningly addicted to drugs before she was twenty; she was beaten by her boyfriend and sexually assaulted by his friend. She also writes, "To this day, I still can't watch my own sex scenes."
Not once does she use the word 'pleasure' to describe her sexuality. 'Like most employees of the sex industry, [she] is not sexually uninhibited, she is sexually damaged.' Being a sex worker further damages these vulnerable people, and Levy suggests these inappropriate erotic role models are suffering PTSD from past sexual abuse, 'It's like using a bunch of shark attack victims as our lifeguards.'
Conclusion We've adopted and conformed to the sex industry's representation of sexuality, which dictates what's desirable and worthy of fantasy. 'We have to ask ourselves why we are so focused on silent girly-girls in G-strings faking lust,' must we also fake it to the detriment of our own personal tastes and sexual satisfaction?
'Why have we fallen sway to a kind of masculine mystique, determined that to be adventurous is to be like a man, and decided that the best thing we can possibly expect for women is hotness?’ The 'prevalence of raunch in the mainstream has diluted the effect of both sex radicals and feminists, who've seen their movement's images popularized while their ideals are forgotten.
‘Sexual power is only one very specific kind of power,' we should be looking at other types of power, breaking through the glass ceiling and pursuing higher female representation in politics and the boardrooms of big business for which previous generations’ feminists originally strived.
Men are all evil, sexist pigs! Well, no. They're not. As Levy shows men so unfavourably throughout, I do wish she'd included a caveat in her introduction stating that not all men act in negative, stereotypical ways. Kind and respectful men do exist, though you wouldn't think so from reading this book.
Occasionally, I was uncomfortable with taking Levy's chosen quotes from other people, whether from printed sources or her own personal interviews, as a truthful representation of that person's opinion. It would be so easy for Levy's bias to influence the way she edits and presents others' words. Although this was based on my own inexperience and naivety with regards to certain viewpoints, e.g. having had little knowledge of the ins and outs of lesbian and transgendered culture and communities, etc.
Warning: Don't read this book if you're easily offended, or partial to feeling shame or guilt for falling into one of the groups Levy criticises, it will only make you feel worse. Both Christianity and politics are also discussed and criticised....more
A unique book showcasing multicultural London as the main character featuring much of her history, geography, associated Britishisms, pop. culture refA unique book showcasing multicultural London as the main character featuring much of her history, geography, associated Britishisms, pop. culture references and slang. I'm surprised non-Brits (or even non-Londoners) didn't give this a lower rating for all that they didn't understand because I'm a Brit and there were a couple I didn't get. A basic map and a glossary would've been helpful, I think.
Having a mixed race protagonist instantly put this book in my good graces being mixed race myself, although I was a little disappointed Peter's mother wasn't Afro-Caribbean, like mine. Thankfully, he's not mixed race in name only as his race was referred to consistently throughout without becoming unnecessarily repetitive. Another thing broadcasting loud and clear was Peter's manliness. Refreshingly, he's most definitely male with urges, sexual thoughts and erections just like the next man. No shying away from, or sanitisation of, his sexuality here.
'I was fighting the urge to fling myself down to my knees before her and put my face between her breasts and go blubby, blubby, blubby. When she offered me a seat I was so hard it was painful to sit down.'
'I dreamed that I was sharing my bed with Lesley May and Beverley Brook, both lithe and naked on either side of me, but it wasn't nearly as erotic as it should've been because I didn't dare embrace one for fear that I'd mortally offend the other.'
Peter's charmingly colourful London copper voice had me visualising Gerry from New Tricks reading this to me. Immediately Peter Grant drew me into his interesting and fun narration, increasing my excitement and anticipation for what I thought could be a 5-star awesome book.
'Martin gave the body the 'London once-over' - a quick glance to determine whether this was a drunk, a crazy or a human being in distress. The fact that it was entirely possible for someone to be all three simultaneously is why good-Samaritanism in London is considered an extreme sport - like base-jumping or crocodile-wrestling.'
However, with an ultra realistic background, magic seemed incongruous, inconspicuous and surreal in comparison. Ghosts and vampires appeared normal to me, it was the river spirits I couldn't get a handle on. Magic itself, I gradually accepted although to begin with it was an oddly unsubstantiated concept because Nightingale refused to elaborate, purposely keeping Peter in the dark about everything magic-related which was super frustrating. I couldn't believe in something I didn't understand. Apparently, Newton made pioneering breakthroughs in magic at the same time he did science as they're both inextricably linked, which we observe during Peter's rigorous experiments into how magic use damages all technology in its vicinity.
"Well the second, murdering gent, he puts on a cap and a red jacket and he brings out his stick and as quietly and swiftly as a snoozer in a lodging house he comes up behind the first gent and knocks his head clean off." "You're having me on," I said. "No, I'm never," said Nicholas, and crossed himself. "I swear on my own death, and that's as solemn a swear as a poor shade can give. It was a terrible sight. Off came his head and up went the blood."
A nod to Laurell K. Hamilton was made via the intriguing Anita Blake-like horror scenes, a welcome distraction from the magic. I ate them up and wanted more. Aaronovitch had to have been a fan at one stage because his crime scenes are reminiscent of the way LKH wrote hers. I did wonder if the vagina dentata was a surruptitious comment on the way her series devolved over time, though I think I'm reaching with that one since the owner of that vagina seemed to have targeted a rapist.
'Somebody was screaming and I had to check it wasn't me. It could've been me. I certainly wanted to scream, but I remembered that, right then and there, Lesley and I were the only coppers on the scene, and the public doesn't like it when the police start screaming: it contributes to an impression of things not being conducive to the public calm. I got to my feet and found that we'd attracted a crowd of onlookers. "Ladies and gentlemen," I said, "police business. I need you to stand back." The crowd stood back - being covered in blood can have that effect on people.'
Eerily, this was published only 7 months before the 2011 London riots and yet the author got the riot behaviour and media reactions down pat. Yes, the Daily Mail did have field day, the resulting reasons they came up with being basically this:
"Because who is more oppressed? Those that seek nothing but entitlements for themselves, or those that claim for everything: social security, housing benefit, disability, and pay for nothing?" [...] [redacted] must either be using stuff from [redacted]'s memory or else had been reading the Daily Mail for the last two hundred years.
Excellent social commentary, idiosyncrasies of specific groups and observations on current tensions mixed with the studious Newtonian science, history and geography would make Rivers of London a prime candidate for study in schools and universities.
'It's a myth that Londoners are oblivious to one another on the tube: we're hyper-aware of each other and are constantly revising our what-if scenarios and counter strategies. What if that suavely handsome yet ethnic young man asks me for money? Do I give or refuse? If he makes a joke do I respond, and if so will it be a shy smile or a guffaw? [...] If he opens his jacket and yells 'God is great', will I make it down the other end of the carriage in time?'
'People are conditioned by the media to think that black women are all shouting and head-shaking and girlfriending and 'oh, no you didn't', and if they;re not sassy then they're dignified and downtrodden and soldiering on and 'I don't understand why folks just can't get along'. But if you see a black woman go quiet the way Tyburn did, the eyes bright, the lips straight and the face still as a death mask, you have made an enemy for life: do not pass go, do not collect two hundred quid.' [LOL. My mother does this.]
"I just wanted to talk to someone who could speak English properly. I went on holiday to Bavaria last summer and everyone spoke English really well. I bring my kids down to the West End and everyone's foreign. I don't understand a word they're saying." [A common complaint]
Aaronovitch mentions Waterstone's book shops, his ex-employer (and mine, high-five!) but the punctuation actually dates the book as pre-2012 because it's now 'Watersones', no apostrophe. (This dumbing down, eh? Tut, tut). Speaking of dated, two women owned Nokia phones. The likelihood of that is pretty low, even now with the Lumia. Nokias were popular in the early noughties when pretty much everyone owned one, including myself. Now, it's all about smartphones: the iPhone, Samsung and HTC, and yet nobody owned one? The slang and pop. culture references also date this work. You could certainly call this book a dedication to it's era, circa early 2000s.
Perhaps I'm nitpicking and taking this book too seriously, and yet I’m about to take it to a new level.
*Puts feminist hat on.*
Disproportionate gender treatment isn't something I usually notice in fiction. Here, it was abundantly clear women are to be feared, lusted after or victimised and used whereas Nightingale and Peter are painted as the 'good guys' who can do no wrong but, where are the strong, positive female characters?
Let's go through some examples:
✺ Molly. Mute throughout the whole book, is a vampire and is feared at one point and a sex object in another (in the nude painting), and also happens to be a housekeeper.
✺ Lesley. Sex object. Victim(view spoiler)[as her body is possessed and used and then she's critically disfigured, then saved and will now be receiving facial reconstructive surgery (hide spoiler)]. Used regularly as a dogsbody by Peter. I say 'dogsbody' because she rarely asks for anything return and it appears Peter is her only friend and vice versa, so she's like a doormat because she never says "no, do it yourself". Where's the give and take in that relationship?
✺ Stephanopolous(sp?). Painted as the much feared butch lesbian senior cop. Stereotype much?
✺ Mama Thames (Nigerian river spirit). Sex object. Her power is to be feared.
✺ Beverley Brook (Nigerian river spirit). Sex object, used as a hostage and means of transportation and communication.
✺ Tyburn (Nigerian river spirit). Feared. Acts like a mob boss, and while Peter never calls her a bitch, that's what is implied/inferred.
✺ Peter's mum. Wife of an addict, 'nuff said.
✺ Cinema woman. She assaulted a cinema employee, and while not her fault this essentially turns her into a victim(view spoiler)[of possession (hide spoiler)].
I enjoyed the references to places I knew well like Euston station, Forbidden Planet and Waterstones; to authors like John William Polidori and Oscar Wilde (although I felt his mention white-washed over his awful criminal conviction for homosexuality by calling it a 'public nuisance' - Grr!), both of which wrote gothic horror in London settings, if I remember correctly.
Mistakes, inconsistencies and continuity errors marred my experience a little, for example:
➛ Nicholas Wallpenny became Thomas Wallpenny at one point.
➛ Dr John Polidari became Dr John Polidori which confused me at first.
➛ Peter's designated department switched to Nightingale's without explanation. Nightingale had no way of knowing Peter had had contact with the Wallpenny ghost because later it's explained this ghost never had contact with Nightingale, and Peter never named the ghost to that police officer (who thought he was crazy) at the beginning so I doubt he passed the info on. So, how and why would Peter be placed in the Folly (magic department) without any basis for it?
Small things, I suppose. It sucks to be observant sometimes. This wasn't one of those books I could allow my brain to switch off with if I wanted to enjoy the educational lessons provided. As I said before, I really enjoyed the beginning, gradually becoming slower paced and less interesting when I skimmed and skipped around a bit. There was much potential there for high ratings but, for me, it didn't quite deliver, though I can still appreciate much of the book for it's uniquely entertaining voice, ethnically diverse characters, spot on cultural observations and educational lessons - ergo 2-2½ stars.["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"]>["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
Assassins are cool. Super powers, who wouldn't want some? That this is set outside the US and the UK, a huge plus. So what went wrong?
Early on I assumAssassins are cool. Super powers, who wouldn't want some? That this is set outside the US and the UK, a huge plus. So what went wrong?
Early on I assumedAcross the Nightingale Floor had been translated due to inconsistent, simple and superficial language. And I wasn't alone in my thinking. However, a quick search revealed the author to have been born and raised a few miles from where I live in England.
Very little emotion is shown by Takeo, our hero, despite what should've been some harrowing scenes in the beginning in which he lost his entire family in the massacre of his village, witnessed by him. Balancing 'show' and 'tell' is a common problem and unfortunately there's far too much 'tell' than there really should be. Long conversations, flimsy explanations and detailed summaries are shortcuts used here contributing to a severe lack of depth concerning Takeo's character and a level of unreadability to his chapters as I was unable to connect or sympathise with him.
On the other hand, Kaede, our heroine, manages to engender sympathy for her plight right away. Her chapters were noticeably different in quality, contained more action and the feminist-themed commentary was intriguing.
"Even beauty is dangerous for a woman. Better not to be desired by men."
Again and again this is proved in this patriarchal, feudal Japan. Including superstitious nonsense regarding the powers of women cursing men just by being arbitrarily associated with them. If a man happens to die at the hands of the woman he tried to rape it's the would-be rapist's fault, not the woman's. That's the social norm of the time period this is set it.
Kaede's insta-love at first sight towards Takeo and its reciprocation turned me off for it's commonality and overuse amongst young adult novels but THT suggested it could be taken as "fated to be mated". I think, in the end, it was a mixture of both. Their relationship was engineered to be Shigeru and Maruyama's history repeating itself, an ill-fated one where being together would mean death. Our hope this second time around is that they'll finally be reunited and gain a happy-ever-after. For me, this isn't something I like, this repetition in the vain hope all will work out in spite of history attesting to that fact it most likely will not. I can see the poetic beauty and note the tragic Shakespearean nature of these circumstances, though I can't appreciate them here, not with this writing. And certainly not when it looks like the other books will draw out the angst-ridden will-they-or-won't-they. No, thank you.
Hearn gives away her ending early on via heavy foreshadowing. Predictablity isn't something I'm a fan of, although I am grateful the author didn't go full Romeo and Juliet on her characters, close call though it was. I'm also glad the issue of sex wasn't glossed over or ignored. Sex was heard, had with prostitutes, and had next to a rapidly cooling corpse in what must've been a blood-spattered room and clothing. Sexy.
Usually I'm an ardent lover of politics and dastardly machinations, I wasn't in this case. I had zero invested in the plot and no side ever revealed itself to be a favorable one to champion. Takeo, Shigeru, Iida, Kenji and the Tribe. I hoped for nothing. No, I tell a lie. I hoped they'd all die quickly so I could finish the damn book and move on.
As super secrets assassins go I wasn't terribly impressed with the Tribe. Like everyone else they had an agenda, not one I could get behind, and possessed no members I could warm to. They were petty and patronising with no respect for free will, what's to like about that? Their skills were only mildly paranormal, mostly standard stuff to use to fight, escape and evade: enhanced strength and hearing, fast reflexes, creating temporary shadow doppelgangers to distract, and hypnotic gazes that can send you to sleep. Out of all the assassin scenes Takeo's acts of mercy were the ones to make a good impression on me and a bad one on Kenji, Takeo's teacher:
"It's that softness he has," Kenji said. "It drives him to act from compassion, even when he kills."
Villain, Iida, is defeated unbelievably fast and easy. You could argue a stroke of luck, a fortuitous accident, if you will. Not in my eyes. Iida lost his credibility as a convincing foe in the moment he was beaten. For someone so completely paranoid and obsessed about security he underestimated his opponents and ignored possible threats, not just the one that brought him down either.
I understand what the author was trying to achieve with Across the Nightingale Floor and no doubt it would make for a beautiful, graceful yet tragic movie. As a book, it failed to seduce me. Reading shouldn't be hard work. Just skimming I struggled to stop my eyes from glazing over in utter boredom until the last 20% when the pace picks up. I couldn't, in good conscience, recommend this to anyone.
Gotta be honest; I don't like contemporary romance, but just look at my rating. And my shelving. Says it all, doesn't it?
What an emotional rollercoastGotta be honest; I don't like contemporary romance, but just look at my rating. And my shelving. Says it all, doesn't it?
What an emotional rollercoaster! For hero and heroine.
Jacqueline's a positive female role model, Lucas, a worthy tortured hero, together forming a healthy but not-without-problems relationship, which gradually develops after the hero saves the heroine from an attempted rape and helps her cope with the aftermath of both this and her prior breakup with her boyfriend of three years. Panic. Fear. Grief.
Every possible angle is covered on the topic of rape without lecturing readers, although not entirely free from cliché. By that, I reference Legally Blonde and say 'sorority sisters' and leave it at that. Standard reactions to rape included here were the common misconceptions, animosity, victim-blaming, slut-shaming and disbelief from the community, to unexpected support and genuine anger aimed squarely where it belongs -on the rapist. As it should. Message loud and clear. And happily received.
Jacqueline's growth and emerging strength and empowerment with the help of her roommate and Lucas see her attending self-defense classes and learning to squash down her panic in order to think clearly for long enough to protect herself. Knee that attacking rapist in the NUTSACK!
Along the way, she reevaluates her relationships and life path, realising the mistakes she's made, settling for an unhappy, stifling relationship with ex-boyfriend Kennedy, and decides she deserves better. She womans-up and gets on with pursuing a happier future. You go, girl!
But Jacqueline's not the only one with problems. Lucas has a devastating, harrowing event in his past he feels undeserved crippling guilt over, showing reasons for his behaviour, his multiple jobs -both paid and unpaid- the force with which he uses to protect Jacqueline. Heart-meltingly sad. Don't cry. Don't cry. Don't cry.
An unbelievably sweet and tender relationship forms between these two that had me on the edge of my seat, cheering for them, hoping for a happy ending. Every bump in the road was a painful one. If Easy had been a dead tree book nothing in the world would've stopped me from peeking at the ending. Luckily, it wasn't, and I'm glad I didn't spoil it for myself. It was totally worth waiting for.
Emotional ups and downs, fully developed characters, important themes and a clear message all should understand. It could be perceived as an anti-Twilight or anti-Beautiful Disaster. In any case, recommended reading for older teens and those in their early twenties, girls in particular....more