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 butThis 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"]>...more
Despite this being Keita and Ragnar's book they weren't in it too much which is probably done on purpose as there's only so much self-absorbed arroganDespite this being Keita and Ragnar's book they weren't in it too much which is probably done on purpose as there's only so much self-absorbed arrogance one can take. Besides, there was plenty of politics, intrigue and action to keep you busy.
I loved the wonderful sense of family in this. How Morfyd and Keita will fight like cats and dogs but woe betide anyone who tries to hurt either sister.
The terrible toddler twins and baby Rhianwen -aww. Their unusual and protective bond with one another is so sweet. Rhianwen finally smiling. Annwyl's daughter taking after her mother and her son after Gwenvael (LMAO!), and Briec's perfect, perfect daughter. Feargus loving his daughter more than his son and Annwyl vice, versa.
Éibhear and Izzy. :( They need to get their act together! Only one more book, plus a few months, between me and their HEA.
Some of my favourite quotes:
'She looks to need nourishment. Unleash your breasts for her." "Stop saying that!"'
'Talan crawled into Keita's lap after he finished eating, buried his face against her bodice-covered breastsm and dropped right off to sleep. At that point, everyone-even Ragnar-looked at Gwenvael, who quickly denied any involvement, "It wasn't me! I didn't teach him that."
"He's your son, wench." He pulled his daughter to him. "She's mine." "You can have her." "Fine!" "Fine!"
Bears! My first bear shifter book and what an impression it made! He may not be an alpha male but Lock's very size (6ft 11 3/4inch human and 10ft bearBears! My first bear shifter book and what an impression it made! He may not be an alpha male but Lock's very size (6ft 11 3/4inch human and 10ft bear) and demeanour means he can pretty much do whatever he wants as evidenced by his treatment of the "kittens" Mitch and Brendon, sometimes forgetting he was still dragging them like battered ragdolls in his hands. He was very entertained by these two playthings, much to their chagrin...and need for a hospital afterwards. -LMAO!
Lock's bear nature was so sweet and adorable, riveted by the simplest of pleasures -playing with his toes and eating anything honey but woe betide anyone who threatens someone he loves, my god the boar rage -yikes! Oh and never startle a bear, never, that's if you want to keep your head on your shoulders.
His father's notoriously fierce curiosity was hilarious, even his toddler niece was aware of it. His mother's protectiveness -woah! Mitch forgot one of the major rules of dealing with bears -never get between a mama bear and her cubs. Whoops.
Gwen is a mixed breed as a tigon, a tiger/lion mix which has unfortunately meant that she's received much racism, both verbal and physical. She's overwhelmed and embarrassed by her mother and feels claustrophobic by her brother Mitch's protectiveness. She's beautiful but not high maintenance. She's a qualified plumber and an experienced beautician, well she had to be with her mother owning her own hair salon. She also has a homicidal streak she tries to hide but comes out when her BFF Blayne is injured in a strange and dangerous game, that only Lock can deal with (she can't get around his size, thank goodness).
I completely agreed with her when she realised what Lock's bear lips and other appendages could do when she said "Marry me" -LOL! I also found it very sweet the way she was reassuring Lock the perfectionist about his art, creating one-of-a-kind furniture out of wood. And the prices she negotiated for them -bloody hell! I bet every writer would want her for an agent!
I absolutely loved the story, adored the characters (yay for seeing Niles Van Holtz again), the abundance of laughs and the growing community we've got going and even the family feuds. It all made me very happy.
DeeAnne -What a relief...because I wasn't sure...Anyway, I can't wait to read her book now.
And remember: Conditioner -it's your friend. Nair, is not....more
Bluntly telling it like it is as only gay comedian, chat show host and now agony uncle Graham Norton can, with wit and wisdom. Ask Grahamis a collectiBluntly telling it like it is as only gay comedian, chat show host and now agony uncle Graham Norton can, with wit and wisdom. Ask Graham is a collection of letters and responses from Norton's column in the very middle class and conservativeDaily Telegraph. If you're looking for a gentle agony aunt who sensitively guides you to the solutions to life's problems without judgement, turn back now. Not that he is ever mean to the genuinely vulnerable; he saves his mocking for the clearly stupid and those who've made diamond encrusted mountains out of simple, mundane molehills.
Bizarre problems do make an appearance, like the husband worried about his wife's desperation for a boob job so ludicrous that she wanted to have one breast done, then furiously save money for the other months later. This next one I can sympathize with. A woman's father had had a heart attack. She rushed to the hospital only to discover his mistress and second family in the waiting room with the children possessing the same names as her own. My grandfather did something similar. I have two uncles with the same name, slightly different spelling.
Ask Graham isn't a book to be consumed in one sitting but many. Reading a few letters everyday whenever one has a spare five minutes is an amusing way to spend those moments too short to do anything useful.
I've been a Norton fan for many years, watching the gleefully rude So Graham Norton later poached from Channel Four by the BBC and toned down, and reading his first autobiography So Me. Delightfully, he writes like he talks on TV. There's never a dull moment. His language is clear and concise - no waffle here.
I'll leave you with the woman unhappily addicted to bodice-ripping romances.
I'm an addict. No, it's not drink, drugs or (sadly) sex, but all those cheap, bodice-ripping novels that clog up the shelves of supermarkets and public libraries. Even though I have a perfectly good brain, I just can't read enough of the kind of books you cannot be seen with in public.
As with eating too many vanilla cupcakes or drinking one to many Cosmopolitans, I always feel a bit disillusioned and tawdry the next day, ashamed of myself for having such pathetic illusions and for being led astray by such nonsense. I know it should be a simple matter of marching towards the Classics section and picking up something by Dostoyevsky, but I always get ambushed by those marshmallowy covers. How can I beat my addiction?
Tara A, Middlesex
So you're attracted to the wrong sort of books? There is no shame in that. We have all chosen to watch an episode of Hollyoaks over The Sopranos, but to do it constantly is, I suppose, a bit of a waste of time.
Why don't you upgrade to the top of your genre? Jackie Collins or Jilly Cooper will, I'm sure, satisfy your addiction. Then move on to Maeve Binchy. Next try lowering the sugar content with a few Barbara Vines and, before you know it, you'll soon be wading through all the titles from Richard and Judy's book club.
The other thing you could do is to put down the book with a picture of Fabio dressed as a pirate on the cover and leave the house. Maybe the you could run your hands through the coarse dark hair of a real man while your heart beats wildly and you feel the rain soaking through your thin cotton dress.
You may get arrested for attempted rape, but at least you won't have turned into a crazy old lady who smells of lavender....more
Raise your hand if you iron your underwear? No one? Diana does. She's a little plumper than your average gal so her undies contain little more fabricRaise your hand if you iron your underwear? No one? Diana does. She's a little plumper than your average gal so her undies contain little more fabric to actually wrinkle. Anyway, one day she's ironing away when this suddenly appears in her living room:
It's that bloke off Watchmen , a.k.a. a naked blue man with a huge, er...
His name is Kor'iander. Coriander? No, Kor'iander, or Kor for short. So Coriander turns to Diana in all his blue naked glory and demands her submissiveness, claiming she is his mate and he her "leader", come to collect her and return to his home planet, where incidentally everyone is blue.
I know, I know. Sounds weird and a little silly. I thought so too at first but it's a fun and honest story. It isn't pretending to be a grand, deep and meaningful saga. Coriander was adorable. He completely accepted and loved Diana's curves partly because the sight "A too-slim female is the sign of a poor provider", to Di's astonishment. Diana's refusal to immediately obey and bow to his wishes to mate with him left the poor guy flummoxed. He'd requested a docile partner to bond with when he put in his application to the Oracle and the ancestral spirits, and they're supposed to give you what you want, not what you need, which is what happened here. He was a gentleman, he never forced himself on her. Instead he listened to what she wanted and endeavoured to give it to her. Courtship was, forgive me, an alien concept to him but he gave in to her wishes and made his best effort to comply.
Di is a heroine I can appreciate. After reading many a clueless, too stupid to live lead, this girl, she made a HUGE mistake -a slip of the tongue but immediately afterwards without any prompting she knew she'd done wrong and wished to take it back. She freely admits she deserved a Darwin Award for her recklessness. Much better than blindly stumbling about with no regard for one's own safety and being too dumb to realise it.
However, it wasn't until just before they arrive at Kor's homeworld that this book started to press my "things I really like" buttons. The history of his race, the death of the women and the resulting sterility leading them to seek and take women from other races, mostly Earthlings because they both descend from the same humanoid race but have evolved slightly differently in accordance with their planet's environments. It's actually the suns that turn Kor's people blue, as Di discovers other Earthlings also have a blueish hue to their skins.
The scarceness of women on the planet mean that they're fiercely protected and must abide by certain rules in order to remain safe. Most of these women are from other worlds and are taken, stolen if you will, without their consent. This issue is addressed here. Not all of the women are happy, not all adjust to their new situation or accept their new "husbands" but these women were picked because they had few ties, no boyfriends/girlfriends or real friends and family to speak of, hopefully making it easier for them to embrace a new life where they'll be both loved and cherished.
I'm jealous of the technology mentioned. Housework would be history and I like the idea of having a laugh with my very own Holly (from the brilliant 80s TV show Red Dwarf). In this case his name is Alphie, the talking computer with a sarcastic attitude.
I'm not an alienist. If a blue god appeared before me, he wouldn't have to say a word. I'd jump into his arms and say "When are we leaving?"
Favourite Quotes I'd really like to add some but there are too many to choose from....more
I laughed and laughed and laughed through this one. Some may not appreciate MacAlister's brand of humour and her tendency to write fluffy light readsI laughed and laughed and laughed through this one. Some may not appreciate MacAlister's brand of humour and her tendency to write fluffy light reads but I enjoyed this immensely.
There's a great cast of characters and despite this being a historical romance, Noble's son, 10 year old Nick stole the show. Such an amazing child. And it was Gillian's accepting and loving attitude, her willingness to include him on nearly all of her adventures and her steadfast refusal to be parted from him helped Nick let it all out. I cried when he did. I loved both of them in that moment. Her quirky nature helped her understand her step-son in a way that few others would.
Gillian's a mess though. Her curiosity and over-excited approach to life leads to much trouble. So many accidents. Always her fault. Lots of eye-rolling from me on this but in an affectionate "here we go again" way. She just doesn't understand why she can't speak her mind or do what she wants to do, like check out that pretty blue vase over there. Ooh, I wonder what it feels like. Why is my hand wet? Argh, blue paint. Oops. Is that a handprint on my dress? *facepalm* She doesn't like to pretend. What you see is what you get with her. Her motto should be Carpe Diem because she always lives up to it. And she gets what she wants because of it.
Noble, you poor bastard. Not many men would put up with a wife who cavorts with their enemies and disobeys him at every turn. Who occasionally knocks him unconscious or has tea with his former mistresses (which is not done by the way. It's just not done!). His anger and rages over this frighten the staff into covering for her and providing distractions because they've fallen for her just as he comes to in the end.
Noble was damanged just as his son was by his former wife and Gillian was the perfect cure. She didn't care that he was branded a wife-murderer by society, she didn't believe he was capable of such a thing. She had faith in him. She wasn't prim and proper -the kind of girl he sought but she brought life and happiness to his dark and depressing life. When he thought she was being manipulative and purposely cruel she was in fact desperately trying to help him, fighting to save the future of their marriage, their family's future. Solving the mystery he couldn't (who murdered his last wife) after 5 years of trying. You go girl!
This book would be nothing without the servants. My god, they're good. Tremayne #1, Tremayne #2, Tremayne #3 -Gillian's names for the triplets that worked for Noble, who never stop fighting amongst themselves. They took to her like ducks to water. Crouch, the "pirate" butler with a hook for a hand whose penchant for Cockney rhyming slang was excellent.
Speaking of language, in this it was used to perfect effect. The dialogue in particular. There are long conversations -all dialogue and absolutely no narrative. Sometimes two going on at once between different people, that are crafted in such a way that you could easily follow and always know who was talking without being told. I admire that kind of ability.
And what would the book be without the humour? Wow. Discovering a naked Noble tied to a bed staring up at his achingly beautiful wife trying not to get a hard-on in front of his shocked son while his wife bends over revealing cleavage, looks at his crotch and declares his penis broken (she's never seen it soft). Oh, look it twitched. Maybe it's not broken. ROTFLMAO!
Noble Intentions is my favourite MacAlister book to date. I've only read her Aisling Grey series but this surpasses those. Definitely a future re-read....more
Dear god, what have I read?! Horrific. Superficial Too Stupid To Live characters I don't care about, stumbling around blindly asking to be eaten.
ComedDear god, what have I read?! Horrific. Superficial Too Stupid To Live characters I don't care about, stumbling around blindly asking to be eaten.
Having loved the show Married with Children I impulsively decided I would love this too. However, I'm wondering now whether "zombies" and "comedy" can ever be a good mix in the post-Carry On world, and in the absence of Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead totally pulls off the ZomRomCom). And perhaps with this book by marketing it as a comedy excuses the wafer-thin characters, the TSTL behaviour (e.g. checking out a potentially zombie-infested casino for the hell of it) and inappropriately timed arguments (while zombies are bearing down on you) about nothing in particular.
Um, where exactly was the romance? We meet Sarah and David on the brink of divorce as they attend their regularly scheduled marriage counseling appointment. David's demise from having a promising future to being an unemployed deadbeat husband and all-round slacker and Sarah's exhausted from having to work 6 days a week leads her to constantly criticise him and picking fights at every given opportunity, leaving them both deeply unhappy and wanting out of their marriage. Counselling wasn't helping until...they killed their therapist. After that they work together to kill (directly and indirectly) almost every human they come into contact with regardless of whether they happen to be infected. In doing this they come to see each other's positive attributes i.e. bravely killing everything in sight, appearing as heroes in each other's eyes. So again, where was the romance? One off-stage sex scene and...I can't remember if they ever kissed. Not good.
Were pretty cool actually. From bite to brain-eating, the incubation period is 10-25 minutes. Red eyes, strangely happy facial expressions, faster than the average human and the ability to continue simple repetitive actions, describe these zombies. Although there is the requisite gory imagery e.g. a legless undead dragging itself along the ground carrying a baby in it's mouth, it never truly hits home, the gut-wrenching horror of it all.
I hold Rhiannon Frater's As the World Dies trilogy up as the epitome of all things zombie and while reading it I laughed, I cried and I added guns to my wishlist. That was terrifying but there was humour, too. A good balance. MWZ focuses too much on the humour and whilst funny, sometimes it was grossly overused and forced, at the detriment of the characters' intelligence and the graveness of the situation. It's the same with the swearing, I'm not opposed to the well-timed f-word when the world is going to hell and you could die at any moment but it shouldn't be repetitive.
After ogling this book for a while I'm disappointed it didn't live up to my expectations. I could've DNF'd at any point, my lack of affection for the couple left me uninterested in whether they lived or died but obviously they were never in any danger considering it's part of a series.
She is a PMS-Demon Slayer. Fighting the good fight for woman-kind. (May also treat male PMS too. Sex, with fast cars, how can they not like it?)
This woman knows how to instantly put you at ease and have you laughing your head off consistently throughout. And after you've finished, you'll find yourself still chuckling over the antics of her colourful characters.
Although Sissy Mae isn't one of my favourite leads, I loved her friendship with Mitch, which turned friends-with-benefits to lovers-for-life-with-a-shared-sex-addiction. If only I could find a man like that. Sigh.
I love the strong sense of family and community in these books, closing ranks and turning on the enemy outsiders even when you don't get along with the ones you're protecting.
The characters have strong personalities linked to their animal and the women are...uh...evil. Even the men are scared and rightly so. They are Crazy. Never, ever get on their bad side. Ever!
The stories may be predictable but they are always entertaining.
Words that will forever trigger laughing fits related to this book: crocodile, tug-of-war, wedgies and NASCAR. I'm now sporting a huge grin. ...more
Not as frustrating as Fire Me Up, it's still entertaining if a little confusing with the dragon politics and power plays. At least Aisling has stoppedNot as frustrating as Fire Me Up, it's still entertaining if a little confusing with the dragon politics and power plays. At least Aisling has stopped running away, is taking things more seriously and is confronting her problems....more
How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf exceeded all expectations after what I perceived to be a deterioration in Harper's writing with the Nice Girls JaneHow to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf exceeded all expectations after what I perceived to be a deterioration in Harper's writing with the Nice Girls Jane Jameson trilogy (now with a 4th book in the works) becoming less and less readable.
As a paranormal wolfy romance it appeared quite different from the many others I've read. The heroine's background is described in colourful detail with hippie parents who are unable to let go of their only child and attempt to control every facet of Mo's life until she secretly runs away in the middle of the night to Alaska where she hopes to make a new life as far away from her interfering parents as possible.
Mo's interactions with the locals were hilarious, and even though she was considered an outsider she was welcomed with open arms by everyone except the enigmatically rude Cooper, who believes she'll run when the cold of her first winter sets in to her bones, just like many others have done in the past.
I loved Mo and Cooper's relationship. Don't worry there is no "fated to be mated" here. It's purely based on chemistry. And perhaps obsession, when you think of the high number of wolf tracks around Mo's home before they get together.
I adored all of the characters except for Maggie. She was...not nice, and as a result I'm not particularly interested in reading her book....more
This is a charming little book filled with funny anecdotes, quotes, illustrations and facts about the ultimate rite of passage we all experience. It'sThis is a charming little book filled with funny anecdotes, quotes, illustrations and facts about the ultimate rite of passage we all experience. It's perfect for those quirky, weird people like myself who enjoys macabre humour, and has made me think hard about the way in which I (don't) want to die and what will (not) be done with my (hopefully) lifeless corpse....more
I was all set to give this one four stars just like its predecessor until I got to the part when Drake throws Aisling into the limo near the end. At tI was all set to give this one four stars just like its predecessor until I got to the part when Drake throws Aisling into the limo near the end. At this point Aisling becomes incredibly selfish and immature.
I couldn't believe her behaviour. She made an oath, a commitment to not just Drake but to his green dragons. She acts like a selfish brat worrying about a career she hasn't even started yet, when her mate is about to lose everything with the possibility of even going to war.
And then she runs away and walks away from him. Again. Despite knowing the importance of her role to his species and the possible ramifications of her abandonment of her duties to both the dragons and humans. Ugh. I know this is supposed to be a light-hearted series but that really p*ssed me off....more
Christmas Pride ~ 3.5 stars As teenagers they were best friends until Des moved away and was never heard from again. Twenty years later, Mace and DesChristmas Pride ~ 3.5 stars As teenagers they were best friends until Des moved away and was never heard from again. Twenty years later, Mace and Des are older and wiser, and when they meet again after Mace's return from his stint in the Navy and he encounters her trying to arrest his sister for murder, all those old feelings return in full force.
Des is a fiercely independent (human) woman who refused to be tied to Mace. I had this image of him in lion-form, king of the jungle chasing down his prey and beating her into submission. Not one of my favourite of Laurenston's stories but still entertaining. I especially loved the "omega" tattoo, LOL!
Shaw's Trail ~ 5 stars Continuing on from Christmas Pride, Shaw wakes in the hospital to that intoxicating smell of the woman he encountered just before he passed out from his injuries. His state is such that he succumbs to what the shifters call the "fever", something that temporarily scrambles the brain but kicks lust into high gear. He practically pounces on this poor woman, who is unfortunately a wolf. Those female lions are not going to be happy to let go of one of their breeding males to a dog...
This one was hilarious. Oh the things the characters get up to in this. Laurenston has a great imagination when it comes to making you laugh. Just imagine seeing a lion trot down the street and then start dancing to Xmas music. And that's only the beginning!...more
Although it's not as great as the previous book, Go Fetch!, this was still a laugh-out-loud read.
What stopped me from giving a full 5 stars was AngeliAlthough it's not as great as the previous book, Go Fetch!, this was still a laugh-out-loud read.
What stopped me from giving a full 5 stars was Angelina's fashion fixation, Miki's drugging fetish, Sara's mean streak in not telling Angelina where Nik was which really hurt her, and I didn't like where she dumped him even though many thought that was funny -I didn't in this case.
What I did like was the wooing tiger-style (BTW I LOVE tigers!), Angelina's way of dealing with unwanted attention and her ability to turn anything, and I mean anything into a weapon, Miki's trouble-making addiction and Nik's willingness to follow Angelina and live where she wants to.
I just have Irene's story to read and then...well, there are no more Magnus Pack stories. :(...more
An absolutely brilliant sequel to Pack Challenge. It's intelligent, funny (my ribs are sore from laughing so hard) and incredibly sweet without beingAn absolutely brilliant sequel to Pack Challenge. It's intelligent, funny (my ribs are sore from laughing so hard) and incredibly sweet without being overly so.
Miki is shockingly honest with no filter between her brain and her mouth but she's ball-bustingly tough (scary tough) and Mensa-smart so she's great to have in an impossible situation. Her geek friends are also scary, they may be wimpy in appearance but they sure can ruin your life if you get on their bad side. You gotta love 'em for their bravery in threatening Connall to take good care of Miki.
Connall was amazing, he didn't take Miki's comments too much to heart, he played her games and accepted all of her unwitting challenges. He pursued her with kind of determination you have to respect, only a brave man like him had the balls (and the willingness to lose them) to take on Miki. Whereas Miki is all work, Connall is all play so they made a wonderful match.
There are so many ROTFL moments that this is most definitely a keeper to read on dark days to cheer me up....more
Never have my Western morals, pre-conceptions and beliefs been more challenged than when reading Stiff. No one wants to consider their own mortality aNever have my Western morals, pre-conceptions and beliefs been more challenged than when reading Stiff. No one wants to consider their own mortality and make any arrangements for the afterlives of their bodies. Being confronted with the cold hard reality of nature, science and history of death was an uncomfortable, disgusting and enlightening experience. Those of a delicate disposition and strong religious belief will find this a particularly difficult and offensive read. But honestly, they should suck it up and read it anyway, hopefully with an open mind. My views were unexpectedly changed on quite a few issues. Nothing was as clear-cut and simple as I assumed they would be.
I share Roach's feelings towards cadavers:
’Cadavers are our superheroes: They brave fire without flinching, withstand falls from tall buildings and head-on car crashes into walls. You can fire a gun at them or run a speedboat over their legs, and it will not faze them. Their heads can be removed with no deleterious effect. They can be in six places at once.’
Cadavers can be:
✺ Used to train doctors. Historically, and currently, controversial. I was surprised by how much respect is shown by students to their cadavers, and I can completely understand why they hold memorial services for them as an emotional outlet for how disturbing it is to injure and deliberately disfigure another (albeit dead) human being. Digital anatomy instruction and/or plastination (I’ll explain later) may replace the dissection of the dead.
✺ Stolen from their graves and sold to medical schools. Thousands of body-snatchers or Resurrectionists (hehe!) made a career out of it, including the infamous murderers, Burke and Hare.
✺ Sex objects, i.e. necrophilia. Self-explanatory, that, eh? *wink, wink*
✺ Used to study decay on body farms, where cadavers are placed in controlled conditions and left to decompose, returning at pre-determined intervals to examine the results, which can later be used to determine cause and time of death.
✺ Embalmed. The ultimate plastic surgery, turning the old youthful once again. Morticians actually have to paint wrinkles on the elderly so their relations can recognise them. Morticians sanitize the body, plug the orifices ("Will we be suturing the anus?") and replace the fluids with formaldehyde, a toxic preservative. Much the same is done with the language used to describe their ‘clients’. Wrinkles are ‘facial markings’, a stiff is the ‘decedent’.
✺ Used to test safety as crash test dummies, improving vehicle safety and ultimately saving lives as a result.
✺ Used to determine the cause of plane crashes. Not all wreckage is recoverable and sometimes only the dead can tell you how and why a plane crashed. This chapter was particularly interesting, detailing many facts about the aerospace industry you really don't want to know if you ever want to fly again.
✺ Used to prove or disprove Jesus's crucifixion. Forgive me, but I believe Dr. Pierre Babet was batshit crazy. To put it more mildly, fanatically religious, obsessed devoted to Catholicism, and didn't much care about the people whose limbs he was cutting off, for perhaps mild injuries, to further his quest for the ultimate, undeniable proof that Christ was wrapped in the, now defunct, Shroud of Turin in 1931. If he did indeed amputate healthy limbs, it was uncalled for. No lives were hanging in the balance. So, for once, I can, while reading this book, definitively say that I would be sickened if this was so.
✺ Used to test munitions, though it’s taboo. The purpose is to take lives in order save lives. Ballistics gelatine and animals are the more common targets. The shooting and blowing up of live pigs and other animals for the training of military doctors, is also controversial. But which would you prefer: dead soldiers and alive pigs, or alive soldiers and dead pigs? I think if you had family and friends in the armed forces you’d rather those pigs die. Honestly, I was horrified when I heard about this practice on the news and yet after reading this, I completely understand why it's necessary. If there were no guns or bombs, surgeons wouldn't need these skills in the first place.
✺ Organ donors. Beating-heart cadavers are brain-dead (i.e. legally dead). On the one hand, one person can save many lives. Alternatively, the actual process is quite upsetting. Organs are removed while the donor still has a pulse, including the heart, which is the last to be cut out, and continues to beat ominously afterwards, for a few minutes. Although gender can be discerned from an ECG by a heart surgeon as they beat slightly differently, contrary to popular belief, transplant recipients do not begin to exhibit traits of their donor’s. A wildly inaccurate myth.
✺ Used to experiment with new surgical techniques. Head transplants have been attempted, both with humans and animals. Real-life Frankenstein here, people. Both disturbing and grotesque. I’m not religious, but even I was throwing out words like ‘unnatural’ and ‘barbaric’ while reading the various experiments. Shockingly, a transplanted monkey head was responsive for a few days before it died. Yes, it’s most definitely cruel, though I took Roach’s point that if a way was found to reattach the spinal column/cord, paralysis could be a thing of the past. Still, this head will only ever know one body and will hopefully remain attached until body and brain are decomposing.
✺ Used for food, i.e. cannibalism. Alive aside, this practice generally isn’t acceptable in the West in current times, apart from the placenta. Historically, and in the East, almost every body part was ingested in the name of medicine. Chinese women used to cut off a body part and cook it for their mother-in-laws. Today, the Chinese still find aborted human foetuses a delicacy. I really want to judge them for this, but wild animals eat their dead. Nothing’s wasted. Personally, I’d be worried about kuru, the incurable degenerative neurological disorder contracted via cannibalism.
Roach details the options for your body after death:
(Click table to enlarge)
Plastination, developed by Gunther von Hagens (you may have been to one of his exhibits or seen one of his TV shows), seems rather gimmicky to me and possibly expensive, though Roach never says how much it costs. For me, the tissue digestion seems the most 'natural', but I won't be surprised if human compost becomes popular since Roach notes the interest of the general public, many investors and funeral corporations, especially in Scandinavia. However, in the final chapter, I was swayed by the argument that it should be up to those you've left behind to decide what happens to your corpse. Or at least a compromise on what you're all most comfortable with to avoid conflicting moral or religious belief. That's if you have that conversation at all. Many don't, at least not in any real detail.
But there's another possibility. Even if you choose a traditional burial, future archealogists may dig up your bones hundreds of years from now and decide to display them in museums around the world. Not much you can do about that. And as I said in the table, a number of cemeteries have been moved or built over, so "your final resting place" may not actually be your final resting place. And in a world with finite resources, including the ever-decreasing acres of land in the face of rampant population growth, showing no signs of slowing, this is the most likely scenario. Better to pick something more permanent, if you ask me, or your naked skeleton could be eyeballed by your descendants, without your permission.
Informed consent is a tricky thing. In ye olde times, doctors and students took advantage of the poor and while performing surgery on them, did a little unnecessary exploration resulting in 'gratuitous pelvic exams' and 'superfluous appendectomies'. Donated cadavers were so rare that body snatchers were more likely to steal the bodies of the poor because the rich had the money to employ thief prevention techniques. Today, people want to know what will be done to their bodies when they donate it to science, and we should have that right, but the reality is so off-putting that you won't be told. You can only specify what it can't be used for.
Roach really takes a sympathetic approach to those that work with cadavers. You can tell she had real difficulty in the first few chapters, coming to terms with her first-hand experiences with the decaying and dismantled dead. Her humour isn't particularly humorous in those moments, because she's clearly uncomfortable and doesn't quite know how to process or write about them. I sympathised. Reading it was discomfiting, being there ... I'm not sure I could've merely observed as Roach did, without running screaming or vomiting my breakfast, especially while smelling the foul stench of decay. I'm fairly certain I could never watch the removal of organs from the beating-heart cadaver. The way it's described, it's too much akin to killing someone, even though you know they're brain dead and will never wake up.
It's hard to be judgmental when the author presents a balanced view on all topics. My initial gut reaction regarding a few things was most definitely disgust and horror, but after Roach told the other side of the story, I found some tolerance and understanding beneath the abhorrence. So if you go in with an open mind, you'll be rewarded.
I urge everyone to read this book, and to seriously consider the issues therein. It may help you decide what you want to happen to your body after you die. Anything that makes a difficult decision a little easier, is a good thing.
An essential, thought-provoking and educational read....more