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
Tempting the Beast is a lesson in how not to write romance or a book in general. Editors do an important job and I wish a good one had worked on thisTempting the Beast is a lesson in how not to write romance or a book in general. Editors do an important job and I wish a good one had worked on this, heavily.
Me reading this book:
Heroine pushes her naive deeply stupid agenda *wince at poor use of language* sex hero whines *rolls eyes* sex *wince again* heroine whines sex more whining *more eye rolling* heroine stubbornly (and stupidly) believes she is right more sex a rare moment: non-sexual action spoke too soon, more sex "I love you" - *wince* hint of a plot heroine gleefully gets her stubborn stupid way -grr! THE END
The word "repetitive" is an understatement. I skipped many a sex scene. They got old real quick. Less is most definitely more. Instead of detailing every sex scene just simply say "And they had sex again" or something to that effect and move the hell on. Jeez. If a drinking game associated with this book doesn't all ready exist there should be one with every time you read "throbbing", "womb", "vagina", etc. Of course, you'd have to be hospitalised for alcohol poisoning long before you were able to turn the last page.
I'm amazed I finished this but somehow I did. The only book I've read that could rival this one in terms of number of sex scenes is The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty and they got tiresome too.
P.S. I feel the need to state that I like some erotica now and then but there was too much sex for the length of the book and not enough plot to keep me happy....more
This sequel trilogy to Darkest Powers is mild in comparison. There's no lethal danger. (view spoiler)[No one dies. None of the kids anyway. (hide spoiThis sequel trilogy to Darkest Powers is mild in comparison. There's no lethal danger. (view spoiler)[No one dies. None of the kids anyway. (hide spoiler)] Sure, some are injured and there are some close calls but considering the stakes I'd expect there to be more casualties.
I like the character development in this one. None of them are perfect, even Maya and Daniel. Sam is my favourite with no filter on her mouth, willing to say what she really thinks of you to your face and doesn't apologise for it. She's gutsy and I like it. She also happens to be gay, not sure if that's stereotyping but anyway I sympathised with her back-story. Kenjii, Maya's dog, was also a comforting presence throughout -fiercely loyal and protective, the perfect scout when it came to detecting nearby cougars.
I wasn't as frustrated with this book as I was with The Gathering however, I still cannot stand Rafe. I wanted him out of the picture entirely and at one point I was cheering because I thought I'd got my way, then groaned. I don't understand why Maya constantly forgives him. Animal magnetism isn't enough. He may be doing the best he can under the circumstances, was even willing to sacrifice his life but his methods...he just rubs me up the wrong way.
Whilst Rafe was gone we got see how well Daniel and Maya worked together, how much they trusted each other and managed to care for and lead the group. And I don't think I was imagining it this time: Daniel has a thing for Maya and I think if Maya opened her eyes she might feel the same way, if it wasn't for Rafe. Even Sam noticed and almost outed Daniel's feelings. I hate love triangles but this is one of those extremely rare once-in-a-blue-moon moments where I'm hoping there is one. The only thing wrong with Daniel is his inability to tell Maya how he really feels about her and trying not to stand in the way of her and Rafe even when he gets bad feelings about him (his superpower, and he's usually right). He wants her to be happy.
This was a quick and easy read but I'm definitely not loving this trilogy as much as the first. I don't feel as sell-my-own-mother desperate to get my hands on The Rising as I did with The Reckoning. I can wait a year for the conclusion, even knowing we'll be seeing Derek, Chloe & Co. again. The plot and these characters just aren't as compelling.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Waterboarding babies. Shit. I’m not a parent but in that moment I doubt a person could feel anything but a strong urge to protect and defend. Highly dWaterboarding babies. Shit. I’m not a parent but in that moment I doubt a person could feel anything but a strong urge to protect and defend. Highly disturbing. I was reminded of Milgram’s experiment on obedience to authority figures and the Stanford prison experiment, both very famous psychological studies about the pressures of conforming to a specific role, whether dominant or submissive and highlights the extraordinary strength it takes to break away from it. If the mother of that baby refused to obey by not drowning her baby in ice-filled water, the consequences could’ve been dire.
In the minds of those living in the compound there's this life and nothing else. They refuse to believe that life outside could be any better than the life they’re living now, even when that means torturing and killing your own children or handing them over to paedophiles and rapists. Frustrating, but then they've been indoctrinated from birth, raised not to question the order of things and are told to believe everything is "God's Will".
Very few are strong enough to refuse to continue with the farce that rewards a handful of old lecherous men and condemns everyone else, especially the young and defenceless. If you rebel, you'll be lucky to receive a quick death, if you’re really lucky you get married off to a nice man with only a couple of wives, and if the universe is smiling down on you and the planets are in alignment you might escape with your life and live to breathe another day only to look over your shoulder for the rest of your days.
I’ve noticed that in some of the negative reviews of this book people expected or wanted a realistic depiction of polygamy and that’s not what this is about. The Chosen One reflects the sensational, the newscaster’s dream: the paedophile cultists e.g. Warren Jeffs, sociopathic religious extremists who warp the media’s perception of this way of life so people wrongly come to automatically associate the word “paedophile” with “polygamy”.
Polygamy is not inextricably linked with religion and paedophilia, it is simply, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "the practice or custom of having more than one wife or husband at the same time." That is all.
If you want a more modern and realistic view of polygamy then this isn’t for you, watch HBO's “Big Love” instead.
Despite this, the book does bring up some important positive and negative points concerning polygamy, for example, more caregivers to bring up the children, sharing a husband can lead to tension and jealousy, etc.
Also, the choice of not using any form of contraception lead to Kyra's 3 mothers having had 19 children, meaning that each child has less one-to-one time with a caregiver and everyone having little-to-no alone time, with the older children forced to act as parents themselves. (On a personal note, I find having so many children incredibly selfish and irresponsible in this day and age where infant mortality is now quite low.) Add to this the overcrowding as each mother has one small, decrepit trailer to house their growing number of offspring. Unless of course their husband happens to be an elevated elder or an Apostle or the Prophet, in which case they'll have a luxurious mansion.
I did, however, wonder how everyone’s fed, clothed and sheltered. Where did the money come from? Who was footing the bill for the land devoid of condoms, and therefore an ever increasing population? They do keep costs down by leading rustic and prudish lifestyles with few mod-cons by making their own clothes, growing their own food, etc. but that only goes so far, at some point you've got to spend some money. For example, the trip to town to buy fabric and afterwards having lunch in a restaurant.
This book covers a number of distasteful topics which some readers may want to avoid:
Forced marriage, Paedophilia and Rape, of unwilling wives. (Forced marriage is illegal in the UK whether the marriage is to take place here or abroad, the law protects the victim no matter their age.)
Blackmail, of those who disobey or their relatives. Husbands can be forced to leave the compound and have their wives and children given to other men who are encouraged to treat them like shit.
Beatings, as a means of control and punishment.
Murder, of runaways, those that attempt to rescue anyone on the compound, those who disobey, and of disabled babies -very Spartan of them.
Incest, not a routine part of the compound. It seems it's more to satisfy Kyra's 60 year old uncle's lust for her 13-year-old body.
One of my favourite parts of this book was Joshua's admission to wanting Kyra and only Kyra for his wife. How romantic is that? Aww.
My rating is 3.5 stars because although we were given a look into what life might be like for those oppressed and used in the cults that make the headlines the writing wasn't as emotive as I would expect it to be apart for the baby torture. This book had the potential to bring me to tears but it didn't quite do it even with the desperate way it ended....more
Wow, the beginning of this book really packed a punch, bolting out of the gate at top speed. I had no problems getting into it.
Evie’s teenage life isWow, the beginning of this book really packed a punch, bolting out of the gate at top speed. I had no problems getting into it.
Evie’s teenage life is more para than normal. She identifies and bags and tags supernaturals over the world for a super secret organisation with her special ability to see through all glamours. There’s nothing she wants more than “normal,” to go to high school and do proper homework, meet boys, and have nice, normal fun. I empathised with this desire but not quite being able to cope when she gets a taste:
‘I always thought the Center made me claustrophobic, but now I suspected I had the opposite problem. All that time today in open spaces and outdoors made me kind of twitchy, nervous to get back inside. How lame was that?’
Evie’s character was very likeable. She was self-aware and evidently knew what was really important in life. The way she treats Lend, in a rather mature way, valuing him for himself and his real appearance rather than what he projects. Lend is an insanely nice guy, insecure about his unusual looks. He's almost too nice and slightly boring although he has an interesting heritage. I felt sorry for his dad regarding his awkward relationship with Lend's mother. What an awful situation. To be rejected in favour of leaving her corporeal body behind and returning to the lake, and after only a year together living as husband and wife. So sad. He obviously loved her, and she just left him to raise their son, practically, alone.
I liked the two prophetic rhymes describing the opposing sides:
“Eyes like streaming snow, cold with the things she does not know. Heaven above and Hell below, liquid flames to hide her grief. Death, death, death with no release. Death, death, death with no release.”
“Eyes like streaming snow, cold with the things she does not know. Heaven above and Hell beneath, liquid flames will end her grief. With her fire, at last release. With her fire, at last release.”
I still don’t understand why the “Empty Ones” were created. Though the clue seems to be in Reth’s words: “You weren’t supposed to release them [souls of the dead], you silly child. You were meant to release me. Us.” What did he mean by that? (view spoiler)[Do the light fae want to die? (hide spoiler)] Reth is a frustrating mystery. He’s close-mouthed about everything important. If only he’d explained everything to start with much of what took place in this book could’ve been avoided.
I liked Paranormalcy, it was slightly different to the usual paranormal YA books around. One definite plus, no love triangle. However, I doubt I'll read the sequel not because I don't want to, I do, but because all of my friends who've read it have awarded it with less than favorable ratings and reviews, and I trust their opinions.
Other Favourite Quotes
“That’s because you have no idea how precious normal is.”
“You have lipstick here?” he asked, confused since I hadn’t brought a purse. “Oh, never underestimate the ingenuity of a girl in figuring out where to pack necessities.” [In her bra!]
The best stories were: "A Princess of Spain" -a vampiric twist to Catherine of Aragon's marriage to the sickly Prince Arthur. "Conquistador de la NocheThe best stories were: "A Princess of Spain" -a vampiric twist to Catherine of Aragon's marriage to the sickly Prince Arthur. "Conquistador de la Noche" -the tale of how Rick from the Kitty series became a vampire in the 1500s. "The Book of Daniel" -a shapeshifting twist on the biblical story of Daniel being thrown to the lions. "Looking After Family" -about what happened to Cormac from the Kitty series after he killed the thing that murdered his father when he went to live with his cousin Ben and his parents. "Kitty's Zombie New Year" -a unique take on zombies which is more about the loss of free will and the result of severe brain damage than the living dead.
I couldn't force myself to read TJ's story "Wild Ride" of how he learns he's contracted HIV and his decision to become a werewolf because just revisiting him would be just too sad. Nor could I read "Long Time Waiting" about Cormac's prison time and how he came to share his body with a female Victorian spirit because I really dislike this new aspect of the Kitty series....more
Okay, so I’ve read 7 books by Keri Arthur and I can’t take it any more. This is one of her more recent books so I mistakenly thought the problems I exOkay, so I’ve read 7 books by Keri Arthur and I can’t take it any more. This is one of her more recent books so I mistakenly thought the problems I experienced with the Damask Circle trilogy, published 10 years ago, wouldn’t be repeated here.
Destiny Kills had a premise with great promise and the power to be unforgettable but it was ruined by a number of re-occuring factors concerning Arthur’s books and writing style.
First off, sex. Nothing can get in the way of sex and the I-love-yous. Not even romance. There's a lot of love-at-first-sight fated-to-be-mated because her, sometimes wooden characters, are incapable of falling in love gradually. Now, if Arthur was a writer of erotica this probably wouldn’t be a problem. But paranormal romance tends to require some sort of storyline, a reason for the hero and heroine to meet each other and for a little time to pass together before they start bumping uglies. I prefer there to be a balance between plot and sex. And plot almost always comes last with this author.
The beginnings of Arthur’s books are mostly very weak and Destiny Kills was no exception. Our heroine is on an unknown beach with a dead body with no memory of how he died, her name or what she’s doing there. Only she knows his name and his relationship to her. She knows they’re both non-human and how to traditionally dispose of his body with the proper ceremony. I’m no expert on amnesia but I have witnessed it first hand, and I find it unlikely that she would remember all of that so quickly.
I wondered why exactly the author decided to start the book at that exact point:
Destiny’s a child when her mother is kidnapped. Destiny and her dad run away to the US.
Aged 18, attempting a rescue, Destiny is kidnapped.
10 years of confinement: includes experimentation (read: torture), forced coupling with Egan (i.e. rape), protecting the dragon children who’re also confined.
Escapes aged 28, with Egan, leaving the children behind after her mother feels Destiny’s father dying.
On the run, caught and Egan’s killed.
[The book starts.]
Beginning the book a little earlier while Destiny is still imprisoned would’ve provided better background and a sense of urgency for her escape. Obviously Arthur wasn’t scared of harsh reality and if we’d witnessed Destiny’s living conditions and how she was treated before escape I could’ve felt sympathy, encouraging me to be invested in her mission. We also could’ve met Egan who was apparently a big part of her life, before he died. The flashbacks weren’t enough. They’re too brief, often confusing with little context to fully understand what happened and the effect on Destiny’s behaviour.
Which leads me to another thing, Destiny, although not unaffected by her experience as a lab rat, she’s remarkably and suspiciously functional. I’d expect panic attacks, crying, not wanting to be touched, crippling anger –some sort of post-traumatic stress. She experiences one moment of it: when she’d had to shoot someone in the head during her escape. That’s it. She seems more concerned about dishonouring Egan by moving on too quickly with his half-brother, Trae.
Where are all the people? We live on a planet of 7 billion people and yet most of Arthur’s books (excluding Riley Jensen) contain two characters, and if you’re lucky 3 others with a sentence of dialogue each. There are no side characters, no sidekicks. There’s only one POV: Destiny’s. The scope is too narrow. They’re not the only two people in the world. Neither have friends or family. They receive no calls to check-in after going AWOL. Destiny has an excuse but then the kids, I would think, would be her family but we don’t hear much from them. Trae is an outcast who hates his father but what about friends, his mother? Not everyone is a lone wolf. Contact with other characters can be a means of showing what our heroes and heroines are really like, can provide a little light entertainment to an otherwise challenging or bleak situation, or a reason to hate the villains. Evil scientists were the villains but we didn’t get to see them being evil. We were told.
The epilogue is a rushed summary of events. Events therein could’ve been expanded so we might properly understand the effects of being confined on Destiny and the children during the search for their parents. We could’ve met Trae’s mother and seen her reaction to Destiny, figured out what kind of relationship she had with her son and how she felt about Trae’s father. Emotional relationships are very important and yet they are ignored.
I was incredibly frustrated by the lack of depth to the plot and to the characters. So much more could’ve been done to make this book special. Disappointing.
My history with Keri Arthur: 2 Damask Circle trilogy books(pub. 2001-2) [PNR]* 2 Ripple Creek Werewolf duology books (pub. 2003-4) [PNR]** 2 Riley Jensen books (pub. 2006-7) [UF] 1 Myth & Magic book (pub. 2008) [PNR]
*I own the last in the trilogy, which I may or may not read. **The best of the bunch. ...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!"
First off I will say that I don’t blame those that couldn’t finish this book. Charlotte isn’t likeable to begin with. She’s selfish, vain and superficFirst off I will say that I don’t blame those that couldn’t finish this book. Charlotte isn’t likeable to begin with. She’s selfish, vain and superficial. She’s quite forceful almost to the point of becoming a bully but she’s always, always honest. I’ll admit she made this difficult to read although the humour made it easier, and perhaps at first this book will seem light-hearted and silly, it deepens to become serious with moments of utter despair. Charlotte’s personality is what makes the book work, she grows and changes but if she'd been any other woman this book would be labeled a tragedy. I’ll explain.
Charlotte as a debutante became bored during her season. Only one man intrigued her but she impulsively eloped with an entirely different man, a minor Italian nobleman. But it wasn’t a happy marriage. Apart from consummating the union on their wedding night her husband was impotent. She tried everything to encourage her husband’s member but it hated her! Anyway after 5 years her husband died. His family disowns her. Broke and homeless she just about manages to return to England and her cousin Gillian (from the first book) who is just about to walk out the door on a trip to the West Indies with her growing family. She suggests Charlotte marry because her brother has also turned his back on her as well as bad-mouthing her to all of high society. She remembers the Earl whom interested her during her last season, the only eligible bachelor left and decides to pursue him. In fact all the ladies of England are hunting him.
What people don’t know is that Dare inherited huge debts along with his title and is struggling to keep his head above water. In his efforts to make money he’s building an engine he hopes to sell one day soon. He hasn’t the time or energy to deal with the husband-hunters. Charlotte puts him in a uniquely difficult position, thereby forcing him to marry her. But he won’t give her what she most wants: a sex life, the thing that was missing in her first marriage. He refuses on the grounds that they do not yet love each other so she goes about trying to seduce him, when that fails she studies, in a clinical fashion, the act of falling in love and tries to force it. What she doesn’t know is that she’s all ready there. You see her start to think of Dare’s needs and wants before her own. She wants to make him happy. Thus begins her change as she finds out Dare’s true financial position and takes it on admirably, not the way a vain and superficial woman would. Her unhappy marriage changed her more than she realised.
However, as things start going well something absolutely horrific happens and only someone as strong-willed and eccentric as Charlotte could've handled it, otherwise this book would've ended in truly tragic circumstances.
Charlotte's growth from a girl so fixated on what the ton think of her and the superficial need for a handsome husband with a title and bags of money, to a woman who just wants a husband to love her and for her to love in return, is wonderful. This book beats her down and reshapes her into someone you'd be proud to call a friend.
She goes from:
"Are you telling me you ran off to marry knowing that your father disapproved of your husband, knowing he would disinherit you, knowing that such an elopement would cause a scandal that would even now keep all the doors of Society closed to you, and yet you did it not for love, but because you were bored?"
"What brings heartache?" "Life," Charlotte replied, closing her eyes and giving in to the pain that filled her. "It seems like all I've done lately is fight for what I want, but for what purpose? I fought to come back to England and ended up penniless and unwanted by my own family. I fought to marry Dare and ended up a burden around his neck, driving him deeper into despair with his worry about my life with him. I fought to show him that I would stand by him, that I love him no matter what happens, and yet everything positive in my life -Dare being the exception- everything I've fought for has been stripped from me. [...] The problem is that I'm not necessary. There is no rhyme or reason to me. I am needed by no one. Ladies of our class are useless, worse than useless, dependent on everyone for everything, from cooking their meals to dressing themselves. When's the last time you dressed yourself, Caro? Combed your own hair? You see? I'm no better than the rest of our class. All I've been raised to do is look pretty and entertain people and spend my husband's money. There's no future in any of that for me -Dare wouldn't notice if I suddenly sprouted an extra limb or two, there's no one left in the ton other than you who will acknowledge me, and I have to admit that a lifetime spent with the sole purpose of entertaining you is not what I'm looking for in a life goal, and as for spending money, there's nothing to be spent."
On a different note: Batsfoam, Dare's butler and all-round manservant, is hilarious. First impressions had me thinking he was a champion of sarcasm but really he's a fan of long-winded melancholy monologues at his master's expense. Still funny though. I loved his military reaction to Charlotte, acting as if she's his superior officer and the part when he tries to aid in her pursuit of sex with her husband by destroying Dare's bed and forcing him to share his wife's:
"There was a small fire, my lord. Nothing serious, and it was extinguished almost immediately, but not before the flames rendered the mattress unsuitable." -Batsfoam's shortest ever response to anything. That alone should've seemed suspect.
I want to give this a high rating but I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to and was actually left feeling a little low despite the happy ending but I do think it's a good, worthwhile book.
One of my favourite quotes:
"I tried, I honestly tried! I wore naughty underwear, I allowed him to catch me en dishabille on many occasions, and I even sought advice from the local strumpet as to how to arouse the passion of Antonio's manly instrument, but to no avail. His instrument resisted all my efforts. I think it hated me," she added darkly. "Oh, I'm sure that wasn't-" "It wouldn't even twitch for me! [...] It wouldn't make even the slightest effort on my behalf. If that's not cruel and petty minded of a manly instrument, well, I don't know what is!"
Yes, Eloisa James gave Dr. Gregory House a happily ever after. Her intention all along according to the 'Historical Not3½★ Meet Piers AKA "The Beast".
Yes, Eloisa James gave Dr. Gregory House a happily ever after. Her intention all along according to the 'Historical Note' at the end.
They share the same scowl, a limp and use of a cane resulting from the same infarction in his quadriceps muscle of the leg producing constant pain, his abhorrence of lying patients, and misanthropic, blunt, bad-tempered, narcissistic and playfully insulting nature. They both have "ducklings" -a group of doctors who follow him in order to learn how to better diagnose patients because Piers is the leading man in his field. The name "Cuddy" is also mentioned and Sebastien appears to be Piers's Dr. Wilson.
Sebastien: I know that you have an affinity for unhappiness. In fact, paradoxically, you don't feel truly happy unless you are unhappy. The way to do that is to push away the people who give a damn about your nasty hide. Me, for one - except that I'm impossible to dislodge, so you seem to have give up on me. [...] Piers: My leg hurts like a son of a bitch. Sebastien: You and your leg can keep each other company at night, then. No room for a woman, given the terrible injury you've suffered.
Addiction to pain relief is the only thing they don't share, only because Piers's father was the addict and Piers wishes to never become like him. Instead Piers swims every morning in an ocean tide-filled pool to help relieve stiffness and pain, giving him a swimmer's body and great upper body strength.
After silliness in the first 50 or so pages with names like "Mrs Flaccide" (I feel sorry for her husband), and doctors Kibbles and Bitts (I kid you not), and the back-and-forth about Linnet's terrible downfall and what to do about it, the book took off.
The sexual chemistry between Linnet and Piers is palpable as they challenge each other with witty insults. Piers immediately sees past her beauty to her brains and her power to manipulate his sex, and she looks past his beastly demeanor to the man underneath. They get to know each other via their barbed conversations which lead to their daily tension-filled, fan-worthy, swimming lessons.
For most of the book I was merely entertained. The innkeepers' ghastly treatment of Linnet, her suffering and Piers struggling to care for her by himself, led me to become emotionally effected. Homicidal anger at the innkeepers for their inhuman actions, empathy for Linnet's pain and sympathy and admiration for Piers.
We get two romances for the price of one since Piers's father sobered up from his addiction, which caused him to permanently injure his son years earlier, and seeking forgiveness on his visit with his son's prospective bride. Whilst there Piers's mother shows up and upon finding the Duke she does everything she can to make him feel guilty and jealous, while Piers also refuses to forgive and forget. It's pure torture for him, but it all works out in the end. Speaking of which, the closing pages were lovely, and smile-enducing as the cycle begins again with a new generation inheriting the traits of their parents.
At the beginning of the story I wasn't happy Linnet's father and aunt pressured Linnet to lose her virginity to the Prince, and if not him then they were going to take her to a brothel catering to women. This is after they'd accused her of being a "loose" woman just like her philandering mother. I know women had little control over their lives, but I can't turn off the revulsion I feel every time it's replicated in historical fiction.
The level of historical and medical details included I was surprised at, as James stated A Kiss at Midnight wasn't set in a particular year/era, therefore not historically accurate and yet great care has been taken to ensure When Beauty Tamed the Beast is the opposite. I'm pleased she's made this change. I certainly think this sequel is an improvement on the debut....more
What the hell happened? This isn't what I've come to expect from this author at all. Excruciatingly slow and boring at times, just be2 stars, barely.
What the hell happened? This isn't what I've come to expect from this author at all. Excruciatingly slow and boring at times, just begging me to DNF. I was ready for the book to end halfway through.
I didn't buy the romance. The writing concerning Diego was stilted. I couldn't care less about him. Eric and Iona's chocolate scene held more passion and intrigue than Diego and Cassidy's. Reid and Peigi's as well as Xavier and Lyndsay's pairing also drew more interest from me than this book's main couple.
Wild Cat seemed drawn out to fill pages. The plot was contingent on compassion and forgiveness towards those that kill the ones you love which wasn't written in a way I could accept and believe. I'd need to feel more than a little pity to let a murderer who'd likely kill again, go free. They got seriously lucky on that score.
First of all, I can't quite believe this comes from the same author that wrote The Immortal Rules. Kagawa has certainly made progress in developing heFirst of all, I can't quite believe this comes from the same author that wrote The Immortal Rules. Kagawa has certainly made progress in developing her talent. There's no question that she comes up with great ideas but The Iron King shows she wasn't always great at executing them.
The first 50% of this book severely lacked finesse and, at times, was excruciatingly painful to read. Meghan's introduction to the fae world isn't seamless. Instead of the protagonist having that "seeing is believing" moment before we have a much needed explanation, we get it after, which, under the circumstances, wasn't the way to go. I found myself thinking, "Really, and you believe him why?" to Robbie's revelation about her brother's kidnap and switcheroo with a badly behaved changling doppleganger. To me, her brother's unusual reaction to his mother's accident wasn't enough evidence to start believing in the paranormal, and for following her, possibly delusional, best friend into the unknown to rescue the real, adorably innocent, 4-year-old Ethan. In Meghan's situation, I'd be trying to figure out a way to get Robbie to a mental hospital ASAP.
Other than this, in general, Meghan's point of view wasn't compelling -it was often jarring, angsty or just plain dull, and I soon turned to skimming, mostly slowing just for dialogue, which soon turned to skipping pages altogether. I don't think I missed much, lending to the idea that this wasn't as concise as it could've been. After the halfway point the prose became a little more readable so I slowed down but didn't stop skimming completely.
The Iron King has many influences ranging from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream to Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. I haven't read the former so I didn't get those references but I'm definitely familiar with the latter, and I really liked what she took from that work and made it her own.
I enjoyed Kagawa's descriptions of the fey world. The use of seasons for the environments for each fae court: summer for the "good" Seelie court and winter for the "evil" Unseelies, was a nice touch. I also liked that human belief was the magical source of strength and immortality for the fae, and the effect of human technological progress where iron rules, deadly to fey, had created this third court where the corrosive iron is poisoning the fey world as it expands, soon to be encroaching on Summer and Winter territory. I've always been a fan of politics and manipulation in books and with the regular use of binding contracts by the fey, this element pleased me.
Unfortunately, the characters within this world are pretty much throwaways, I cared so little for them.
Our protagonist, Meghan isn't someone I rooted for. She's a non-character in my eyes. She's naive, loyal to her detriment, and has the potential to unnecessarily become a martyr making her ever so slightly irritating, but otherwise she lacks a personality. She not your typical fey, or half-fey. She's stubbornly human. Which reminds me, she's also a hormonal, horny teen salivating over Prince Ash's cold beauty. There'd be no tears if she accidentally "fell" off a cliff.
[Sidenote: She's had 3 fathers. One biological and 2 stepdads, one of which she believed to be her real father who disappeared out of thin air when she was very young. I wonder what happened to him. I'm guessing her biological daddy had a hand in it.]
Robbie, Meghan's Grover and sidekick is nice and supportive with hints of having a crush on her, no doubt developed from Bodyguard Syndrome -instead of just guarding her body for all those years he started admiring it. His transformation into Puck in the fae world, I didn't like. On the one hand, his comedic flair added levity but on the other, he came across as a bit of an ass. This might be down to his difficult relationship with Ash, and later, his jealousy of Meghan's interest in Ash. I had hope he'd die before he makes his crush known (because obviously he will), thereby creating the dreaded Love Triangle. His presence, in effect, ended up creating more conflict rather than offering familiar comfort for Meghan during her journey to reclaim her brother.
Prince Ash, third son of Mab (the ruler of the Unseelie court) intrigued me to begin with. His verbal threat to kill Meghan while dancing with her had me sitting up and paying attention. His unwilling attraction to Meghan leads to a Romeo & Juliet angst-filled situation (I'm fed up of those in YA) although I'm not sure what exactly he's attracted to. Perhaps he senses an opportunity for an easy lay. Oops, I forgot. It's YA. There's none of that evil sex here, but there's nothing romantic about the pairing. They've been slapped together out of necessity, and if anything, physical lust is all that's between them.
The relationship of any substance in this book was between Ash and Puck. Previously the best of friends until Puck made an unintended mistake resulting in a deadly accident Ash has been unable to forgive. Since that disastrous day he's promised to kill Puck, meeting him in a number of skirmishes in which it seems clear that Puck has always had the advantage but has no wish to harm Ash. I think they deeply love one another. If either of them ever kill the other, I believe there would be deep regret.
The Cheshire Cat Grimalkin, the sarcastic talking cat, is easily the best character in the book. He's an independent outsider, content to observe the entertaining train wreck that is Meghan, Ash and Puck, as it unfolds, only offering help when it benefits him. However, he appears aware these are the only people able to save his homeland (and himself) from extinction so in emergencies he gives much needed aid freely without a price attached. He saved their lives many times. If Grimalkin had been narrating this book it would've been a far more delightful and humorous read.
Ash's contract with Meghan, his help recovering her brother in exchange for her willingly going with him to the Unseelie court and his waiting mother's hands, was obviously going to create fodder for another book but I just so wish for more stand alones. I don't like "crack" series -series with books which aren't that great but which you become addicted due to tantalizing (or agonizing) hooks thrown out by authors (e.g. cliffhangers), and The Iron Fey has all the markings of such. I want to read the next book but I have serious doubts after also reading Winter's Passage. I imagine it would be a frustrating experience I have no desire to put myself through.
*Bought in the UK Kindle Spring Spectacular 2011....more
I doubt I'll ever finish this book. Just not to my tastes. There were some intriguing bits but it was too slow and I'm not really interested in US polI doubt I'll ever finish this book. Just not to my tastes. There were some intriguing bits but it was too slow and I'm not really interested in US politics -instant Zzz's.
Nalini Singh is an infuriating, genius of a woman. She is the master of creating and sustaining political intrigue and frustrating mysteries, all theNalini Singh is an infuriating, genius of a woman. She is the master of creating and sustaining political intrigue and frustrating mysteries, all the while skillfully conducting the actions of a small army of entertaining characters. She tantalizes and titillates the brains of her readers, challenging us to spot important information, to guess at what will happen next, manipulating our senses and emotions.
There are many questions we're all asking, the main one being: Who is the Ghost? In this book, Kaleb becomes the more likely candidate by revealing his true power and skill during an emergency rescue mission but I believe him to be a red herring, although I am interested in what his real endgame is. Despite Vasic's weary, defeated outlook his conscience also rules him out. I want to know more about Zaid Adelaja and whether he could be alive. He was the first Arrow, the son of the "father" of the Silence protocol, and someone important to Alice -he could be the Ghost. The Ghost handed Alice over to Judd and SnowDancer for safe-keeping. It could be him.
I'm extremely disappointed in Ming's pathetic plan to snare Sienna. He's supposed to be the ultimate and supreme strategist. Instead of trying to seduce her with reason alone he should've incapacitated her, implanted the control chip, force her to divulge her secrets and turn her into the weapon that would destroy her friends and mate. What an idiot. I look forward to his death.
I wasn't as interested in the romantic coupling as I thought I'd be. Adria certainly deserved happiness after Martin and Riaz had a unique hurdle to overcome but it was Adria who was unexpectedly the one required to break down and take that leap of faith. The elderly human couple was so sweet an example of a relationship without a mate bond being just as devoted and loving as a couple could be.
My favourite quote can be applied to many situations within this book:
"Some things need to broken to become stronger." ~The Ghost
Bonds, alliances and information networks have expanded and tightened. The civil war has begun. The Psy are on the brink self-destruction. Will Silence perish? And will the Net go with it? So many possible outcomes. I can't wait to find out what will happen.
Who is going to have the next book? At first I thought it would be Amara, then Vasic, and then Kaleb finds the object of his long search...Who is she? Faith's cousin, Sahara, who went missing 9 years ago, perhaps? So many mysteries. Evidently, this series still has life in it because this is book 11 and I'm not tired of it yet....more
While Fury's Kiss is gut-bustingly funny, dominated by a super kickass female character and demonstrates in-depth character growth and development, I'While Fury's Kiss is gut-bustingly funny, dominated by a super kickass female character and demonstrates in-depth character growth and development, I've finally deciphered what bothers me about works by Karen Chance.
When I look back at all of the books I've read, even ones from years ago, I notice that I can tell you something about what went on in that particular book, even if it's general. With Chance's books I struggle to remember why I've given them all high ratings because I draw a blank when I poke my memories of them. That in itself gives me pause, instantly devaluing my ratings. Reading Fury's Kiss after the author's 3-year hiatus (I haven't read Hunt the Moon yet) has made me realise why.
From the get go it's action, action, action! Any lulls in the high octane speed are filled with funnies and perhaps angst. The adventure zips all over the place, jumping from one line of thought, or POV, to another. Questions I have about what's happening aren't always answered and I frequently find myself at a loss as to what's going on and why, and explanations given can be mind-bending and brain-breaking. Frustration bubbles and I found myself frequently putting the book down. In the end, I decided to turn the brain off and go along for the ride, but I was still left flummoxed with unanswered questions and a desire to have read more about some things and less of others.
For example, the child Vampire Dorina chose to protect from LC in the beginning, what happened to it once they made it through the portal home? What's the story behind the golden Irin child Vampire Dory cried from the past? Was there any connection between the Irin Vampire Dorina met in the past and the Irin Human Dory met in the present? As for desires, I wished for more interaction between Dory's two halves, but what I was really waiting for was (view spoiler)[their merging (hide spoiler)]. This is what I was desperate to read and I resented everything else for preventing me from doing so. Impatient, I know.
So much happened between cover to cover it's almost sensory overload. Exhausting, for 500+ pages. Focus is appreciated, so is knowing the who, where and when of the differing POVs and thoughts Dory reads via telepathy.
Again, hilariously funny, great characterization and development, but things were ignored or merely sidelined, as Sandra mentions Claire gets little page time.
Fury's Kiss while enjoyable, eliciting many a laugh, is jam-packed, stuffed to the gills, and still doesn't manage to incorporate everything. Priortization and simplification, of the plot and magic mechanics, probably would've helped my understanding, digestion of information and future memory of the book itself. Forgetting 99% of this one by the time #4 comes out is likely. But the most important things to remember are:
(view spoiler)[ ❶ Vampire Dorina and Human Dory will one day merge. ❷ Dory is now a (temporary) senator, for politcal reasons. (I sympathised when she fell on her face and fainted when her Consul announced it. LOL) ❸ Dory and LC are now a couple. ❹ Dory is Ray's master. She has more respect for him than most senators and consuls. (hide spoiler)]
Hopefully, typing those out and my status updates will jog my memory.
Customer: Do you have any Robin Hood stories where he doesn't steal from the rich? My husband's called Robin and I'd like to buy him a copy for his bi
Customer: Do you have any Robin Hood stories where he doesn't steal from the rich? My husband's called Robin and I'd like to buy him a copy for his birthday, but he's a banker, so...
This little book is full of the weird, the wonderful and the hilariously funny things customers say in bookshops. The cover is beautiful and I love the little illustrations alongside the quotes, especially this one:
Favourites that aren't in the book, from the website:
a customer reading a book about the nativity. Customer *to her friend*: Don't you ever get the feeling that Baby Jesus is somehow related to Herod? I always think that he's going to go: 'JESUS. I AM YOUR FATHER.'
Child *to me*: Does Santa come to your bookshop to get gifts for kids? Me *nodding wisely*: Yes. Yes. He absolutely does. Child: That's awesome! Me: Yes, it is. Child: But... Me: But what? Child: But... Santa's really fat. I don't think he could squeeze through the gaps in the bookshelves. Me: It's ok. He sends us a list before hand, and we leave the books by the door. Child: That makes you Santa's elf! Me: Yes... yes, I suppose it does.
I've been following the blog and Facebook Page, nodding when I've come across something I've experienced as an ex-bookseller and laughing when it's so absurd and is, as Neil Gaiman has quoted on the cover, kinda sad....more
My mother is the only reason I managed to finish this book. She loved Divergent and has just finished re-reading it but for some reason she wanted meMy mother is the only reason I managed to finish this book. She loved Divergent and has just finished re-reading it but for some reason she wanted me to read this one first so I had to force myself to finish.
This time around I had no connection to the characters. They seemed drastically different. More juvenile with lots of sulking and ruminating on problems. Everything is seen through the lens of Tris and Four's relationship which acted as a means of constant personal conflict. I had no patience for the angst that came out of that conflict, or for Tris's new-found suicidal nature. I was here for the dystopia, for the tragedies, hard choices and sacrifices to be made. One of the few good scenes is when the Erudite deliver a message to the Divergent (which are more numerous than first thought), to Tris, via a kind of suicide note, and Tris is forced to make a split-second decision of who to save and who to sacrifice. That was startling and gruesome, and exactly what I was looking for.
As for Marcus the robot, Marcus the mouthpiece -I found his character difficult to comprehend. He's an empty character the reader is supposed to hate but it's hard to do so when he doesn't show emotion or react to anything despite being publicly beaten by his own son. He has no comeback. He says nothing. Why did he submit Four to repeated physical abuse? There's no answer because he doesn't acknowledge he did it or the accusations. Other than a hate figure, he's a mouthpiece for plot progression. Without him we wouldn't find out the secret to this dystopian dynamic.
Peter is an odd one. I guess you could say he's a frenemy -an enemy who can also be an ally under the right circumstances. I wonder how close he is to his family. Does he love them? Love seems an alien thing to him and now that he's been reunited with them, will he fight for them? Will he change?
As I grew closer to the last page and freedom, I swore if Roth introduced zombies outside "the fence" the book would meet the wall at lightning speed. It didn't happen but it was close.
The ending is drawn out and predictable, concluding with a revelation, plus cliffhanger. By now I just wanted this book to be over. I'm only mildly curious:
- What the relationship is between Tris and this Edith Prior.
- About the significance of being divergent in light of this new information. How can that help whatever's left outside the fence?
Insurgent feels very padded. Not a lot happens for a long time. It needed to be tighter, punchier, be a more faithful continuation of Divergent's story and characters, and less about romantic entanglements.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
"Kitty Learns the Ropes" by Carrie Vaughn ~ 2 stars A throwaway story from the Kitty universe.
"The Aarne-ThoRating based on two of the fifteen stories.
"Kitty Learns the Ropes" by Carrie Vaughn ~ 2 stars A throwaway story from the Kitty universe.
"The Aarne-Thompson Classification Revue" by Holly Black ~ 4 stars A slightly surreal story about a werewolf girl struggling with her nature and her growing acceptance of her new self as she auditions and performs in a strange but liberating theatrical show.
Favourite quote: "Good is forgettable. Good is common. You are not good. You will show everyone what you are made of."...more