*Warning:Much violence described in this review. Not for those with weak stomachs. Seriously.
Weak and cowardly - that's what the people of this book...more*Warning:Much violence described in this review. Not for those with weak stomachs. Seriously.
Weak and cowardly - that's what the people of this book would believe of us in the developed world today. We'd call ourselves civilised and our forbears barbarians, but humanity's managed to survive through some exceptionally horrific times. Many lessons can certainly be learned from our history.
Some Survival Tips:
✻ Expedition of exploration is code for "suicide mission". ✻ If a relative or close friend is/could be in a position of power and authority, run far away and go into hiding. ✻ Never love anyone. They can be used against you or slaughtered in front of you. ✻ Never own anything worth killing for. ✻ When war breaks out, relocate from the warzone. ✻ Be willing to switch religion at a moment's notice. ✻ Any weapon you possess may be used against you. ✻ If you're an executioner, always keep your blade sharp. ✻ Hide all books in a fireproof place, behind lock and key.
Funny, informative and riveting. One Bloody Thing After Another reads like an adult version of Horrible Histories, divulging all the best bits and possibly the least well known parts of our bloody world history in an engrossing and funny manner. Illustrations and maps of territories belonging to different empires throughout the ages are included. All were perfectly rendered on my Kindle.
Events are covered up to 1900 and range from the natural disasters like plague, earthquake and volcanic eruption, to the man-made horrors of war, genocide, serial killers, assassinations, and the crazy inventive methods and devices of torture. Brief but detailed summaries of events are given in easily digestible chunks, each one taking up only a handful of paragraphs so it was hard to get bored. Origin stories of certain fictional works are described, for example, Gilles de Rais was the inspiration for Bluebeard by Charles Perrault.
The torture. Yikes. Be careful what you invent in the way of devices because someone might turn around and use it against you, as in the case of the Brazen Bull. I wouldn't mind if the Wall Street Bull was converted so we can roast a few fat cat bankers. I'll provide the marshmallows.
While we're on the subject, I'm calling shenanigans on the double standard regarding female torturers and serial killers receiving lame punishments when their male counterparts were tortured and killed for their crimes. Examples:
❶ Elizabeth Báthory had her servant girls 'beaten and their lips pierced with pins' and 'red-hot irons were pressed on to the feet and mouths'. 'Victims were dragged naked into the snow and had water poured onto them until they froze to death. One servant girl was stripped, covered with honey and left overnight to be stung and bitten by insects.' At age 44 her husband died (1604). New servant girls were acquired and 'daughters of the gentry were invited to live in her castle.' 'At least 300 girls and women, nobly born as well as commoners ... were put to death in an inhuman and cruel manner. She cut their flesh and made them grill it; afterwards she would make them eat bits of their own body.'
Punishment: 'Lifelong house arrest in the castle where she had committed her foul deeds.'
❷ Darya Saltykova in 1756 inherited 600 serfs from her husband and promptly started torturing them for pleasure. Several years and the unexplained disappearance of 138 girls later, she was found guilty of murdering 38 serfs.
Punishment: 1 hour in a pillory in Moscow and imprisoned in an underground cell in a convent where she experienced total darkness until death in 1801.
❸ Ranavalona proclaimed herself queen of Madagascar in 1828 and began torturing, crucifying and beheading Christians. 'Brigands, runaway slaves and rebels were flayed alive, sawn in half or had their testicles slowly crushed.' *winces* She also tested for treason in arbitrary ways similar to the identification of witches, one of which involved 'progressive amputation'. 'After each amputation, the victim was invited to confess their crimes.' Most died from shock and blood loss.
Punishment: In 1861 she died in her sleep. No punishment meted out.
Hardly justice for those that suffered at their soft, pampered hands. Perhaps being rich has its perks.
But successful innocent women were also suspicious. Poor Hypatia, 'head of the Platonist School in the city [Alexandria, Egypt] and possibly the first major female mathematician' was rumoured to practise witchcraft. Of course, she was. She was also vocally against the persecutions of Jews. What happened to her? Apprehended, taken to a church to be stripped and beaten to death. Charming.
Boudica and Joan of Arc also met violent ends, but they participated in and started wars so it was a hazard of the job. Surprisingly, there were methods of violence against women I had never considered, for instance the ripping out of foetuses and either killing them or sewing them to the mouths/breasts of their mothers. Sadistic. Breast mutilation and removal, also quite common. And now my mind is conceiving of methods not mentioned.
I apologise to friends and followers for my over-eager and excessive status updates for this 190-page book clogging up your feeds. Honestly, I tried to limit them in number and keep the most gruesome parts out to protect any weak stomachs.
Boring history is boring no longer with this book. Anyone even vaguely interested should give it a go, because I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Currently available for £1.09 in the UK Kindle Sale!(less)
From the introduction: 'Drugs are tested by the people who manufacture them, in poorly designed trials, on hopelessly small numbers of weird, unrepres...moreFrom the introduction: 'Drugs are tested by the people who manufacture them, in poorly designed trials, on hopelessly small numbers of weird, unrepresentative patients, and analysed using techniques which are flawed by design, in a such a way that they exaggerate the benefits of treatments. Unsurprisingly, these trials tend to produce results that favour the manufacturer. When trials throw up results that companies don't like, they are perfectly entitled to hide them from doctors and patients, so we only ever see a distorted picture of any drug's true effects. Regulators see most of the trial data, but only from early on in a drug's life, and even they don't give this data to doctors or patients, or even to other parts of government. This distorted evidence is then communicated and applied in a distorted fashion. In their forty years of practice after leaving medical school, doctors hear about what works through ad hoc oral traditions, from sales reps, colleagues or journals. But those colleagues can be in the pay of drug companies - often undisclosed - and the journals are too. And so are the patient groups. And finally, academic papers, which everyone thinks of as objective, are often covertly planned and written by people who work directly for the companies, without disclosure. Sometimes whole academic journals are even owned outright by one drug company. Aside from all this, for several of the most important and enduring problems in medicine, we have no idea what the best treatment is, because it's not in anyone's financial interest to conduct any trials at all. These are ongoing problems, and although people have claimed to fix many of them, for the most part they have failed; so all these problems persist, but worse than ever, because now people can pretend everything is fine after all.'
I've unknowingly read Ben Goldacre's Bad Science column in the Guardian before, more recently a couple of days ago while researching a particular drug when I found out he was also a psychiatrist. Only a week before I'd remembered seeing this book in a book store and immediately decided to order it.
It took me by surprise how much I loved this classic and how eerily relevant and applicable it is considering today's politics, Britain's in particula...moreIt took me by surprise how much I loved this classic and how eerily relevant and applicable it is considering today's politics, Britain's in particular. The Arab Spring is also a good example of a modern day Animal Farm.
I highlighted this one to death. In pencil, of course. I'm not a barbarian.(less)
Reactive Attachment Disorder is an incredibly sad thing because it's the hallmark of neglect, parental and otherwise, sometimes leading to 'excessive familiarity with relative strangers' to fulfil the all-consuming need for love, attention and affection they've never received. Witnessing Mandy forming unhealthy attachments to people she's just met is excruciating. Once you hear her story, you just want to pull her away from her old life and insecurities, give her a hug, take her home and take care of her and her unborn baby.
I felt for each and every one of the characters. They may not be the most likeable in the world but they're real, complicated and going through terrible times. I understood why each acted as they did: why Jill rejected the notion of her mother adopting a baby so soon after her dad died, why Robin (Jill's mother) wanted to do this and why she didn't go through legal channels to do so, and why Mandy lied so she could find a loving home for her baby to grow up in, thereby preventing her from suffering the same childhood she did and growing up to be like her or her mother.
I sympathised with Jill. Struggling with her identity, redefining herself after her dad's death and figuring out what she wants and who she wants to be is difficult enough, but then having to accept this new person into your life who'll provide you with a baby sister, puts on even more pressure to come to terms with her grief, with her future and the need to move on, embrace life and take risks again.
It's a deeply moving and depressing read, so much so that I was desperate for the predictable happily ever after. Thankfully, I got it. I would've been pretty mad if I hadn't. A new family and a new beginning is formed from the wreckage of four lives, bringing me to tears with the emotive subject matters of abuse, grief and fear for the future and the truly deep and realistic observations in the writing, together with fact that four lives, not one or two, are saved, make this a rare and favourite read.(less)
In this second episode, we have alternating POVs between Dallas's (Mulder) first turbulence encounter on the way to Bermuda in the past and Paul's (Scully) present experience. By Price structuring it this way we get to know Dallas better, and we also see a few glimpses of what Marlin was like before he committed suicide at the very beginning of Into the Bermuda Triangle.
(view spoiler)[It turns out what's happening is the reverse of what I expected. (This is a good thing!) It's the flight crew and not the passengers who are tampered with. There's a Freudian split of their personalities into two different bodies: the wild id and ego on the normal plane of existence and the calm voice of reason of the superego on this unnerving, deserted plane.
Buffy fans, think of "The Replacement" episode when Xander was split in two: the strong confident one and the weak screw-up. Similar thing here.
Trivia: There really are two Xanders. Real life twins!
Anyway, we get to witness both versions. The crazy ids are wreckless with no inhibitions, they do anything they want while their other halves are forced to sit around, worry and wait until it's time for the return flight out, to be reintegrated when they hit the turbulence again. (hide spoiler)]
I must say, I'm intrigued by this unpredictable tale. 3.5 stars.
Onto the next episode, Red-Eye Dawn.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I came across this stunning book cover while browsing my library's new orders so I reserved it. A thrilling first chapter reminded m...more80/499 pages read.
I came across this stunning book cover while browsing my library's new orders so I reserved it. A thrilling first chapter reminded me of Carrie and the movie Cherry Falls.
Genie knew when her beloved grandmother died and told her fanatically religious mother. When her mother found out Genie's prediction was true she locked her daughter up in her bedroom behind bars, let her church's congregation call her the devil's plaything, encourage her to take her own life, burn the crucifix into her flesh, etc. Quite disturbing. Meanwhile 34 children go missing with no word from them and no bodies to bury. Rumours fly around and frantic parents are scared their child will be next. Uncomfortably childish and unrealistic writing from the moment Genie is rescued meant I couldn't continue.(less)
Damn this seductively beautiful book cover. *sigh*
Confused and worried about the yo-yo ratings given this by my friends, I was hoping my experience wo...moreDamn this seductively beautiful book cover. *sigh*
Confused and worried about the yo-yo ratings given this by my friends, I was hoping my experience would fall closer to the positive end of the scale and since I decided to participate in a read-along with THT I gave it my best effort. And a challenging read it was. I dragged myself, kicking and screaming to page 80 whereupon I began the process of DNFing when I realised the griffin, much-loved by many reviewers, had entered the picture. One last chance was given for Stormdancer to win me over. Unnecessary animal cruelty sealed its fate.
The insurmountable problems I experienced while reading Stormdancer:
• Ignorance. I don't enjoy feeling stupid. Too many foreign words were introduced without explanation (some of which were repetitive). Later, I learned there was a GLOSSARY IN THE BACK. Reading the e-ARC, this was a bit of a problem. Rather than wasting time trying to figure out how to find it and refer to it in a timely manner or use Google I continued reading, hoping it wouldn't matter. IT DOES MATTER. DON'T READ THE EBOOK, read a hardcopy. To my dismay I found myself calculating how much Japanese culture, media and language I have consumed (view spoiler)[(I've watched Pokémon TV series and Studio Ghibli movies. Owned a Tamagotchi. Read and enjoyed Battle Royale and watched the movie. I'm aware of things like manga, animé, shibari and hentai.) (hide spoiler)] because I understood just one word: katana. A sword. The rest...who knows what it said or meant because it went right over my head.
• Authenticity was always going to be an issue being that the author is neither Japanese, and as far as I know, didn't spend considerable time in Japan. Artistic license is allowed and I definitely noticed non-Japanese references like the mention of pandas. I can't speak to how authentic Stormdancer is, but having recently read Across the Nightingale Floor, also by a Western author, I'm wary now of authors writing books set within histories and cultures they haven't immersed themselves in and admittedly know little about.
• World-building. Wading through the info-dump, compounded by my ignorance of the language, consisting of detailed stories and myths I couldn't fathom or hope to remember, was nearly impossible to read. Real myths or part of Kristoff's fiction? Important to his story or not? I didn't know. The author certainly succeeded in convincing me I was an alien introduced to an entirely different world.
• Slow pace. Very little happens in the 90 pages I read. I liked three of the scenes: the drunken gambling, the playful puppy and the childhood memory about the heroine's unusual ability to communicate with animals via telepathy. Golden nuggets of awesome in the writing of those scenes lured me into continuing. That, and the Guildsmen reminded me of Hellboy's Karl Ruprecht Kroenen. I'm not sure if that was intended or even an accurate interpretation, its just what I imagined from the description. Anyway, not much else happens between receiving orders from the Shogun to find and retrieve a griffin and actually stumbling upon one.
• Unnecessary animal cruelty. If communicating with the creature was possible, why not give it an ultimatum -i.e. stop thrashing about which will cause us to crash our airship or we'll have to clip your wings, which is it? Such a simple step and one which would've preserved this mythical specimen, perhaps the only one of its kind left, to present to the Shogun in perfect condition. I hardly see the Shogun being able to ride the griffin into battle, as he wished to, now the poor creature's wings have been clipped.
I desperately wanted to like this book for its uniqueness amongst other young adult novels, even adult ones, in not only setting a tale in a non-traditional (i.e. non-Western) place but going back to feudal times, adding steampunk and griffins -a tall order. With such lofty aspirations Stormdancer was either going to be award-winningly brilliant where we'd all be toasting Kristoff's genius, or quietly hoping to forget this overly ambitious experiment. Sadly, I'm in the latter camp. Sorry.
***My thanks to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for the e-Arc in return for an honest review.*** ________________________________
Chicken soup for the soul. The Grinch himself would be hard-pressed not to empathise with Ivan's story. With a gorgeous cover and a heartbreaking memo...moreChicken soup for the soul. The Grinch himself would be hard-pressed not to empathise with Ivan's story. With a gorgeous cover and a heartbreaking memoir of a lonely, caged gorilla living among other mistreated "circus" animals, delivered via emotionally-charged and insightful writing, Ms. Applegate forced tears from this stoic, 25-year-old pessimist.
I am Ivan. I am a gorilla.
It's not as easy as it looks.
People call me the Freeway Gorilla. The Ape at Exit 8. The One and Only Ivan, Mighty Silverback.
The names are mine, but they're not me. I am Ivan, just Ivan, only Ivan.
Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot.'
By reading The One and Only Ivan we walk a few miles in Ivan's shoes, so to speak. His wistful words touch your heart. His friend, Stella the elephant, twists your soul with her story and sentiments. Ruby, the baby elephant, you're desperate to save from Stella's fate. My arms ached with wanting to hug these (obviously wild and dangerous) creatures.
'Every night, when the stores close and the moon washes the world with milky light, Stella and I talk.
We don't have much in common, but we have enough. We are huge and alone, and we both love yogurt raisins.
Sometimes Stella tells stories of her childhood, of leafy canopies hidden by mist and the busy songs of flowing water. Unlike me, she recalls every detail of her past.'
The graceful language is simple and concise yet colourfully illuminating. No words are wasted. The author implies rather than tells, allowing readers to draw our own conclusions. The lovely illustrations are sparse but functional. I knew early on this would be a five star re-read. Ivan's philisophical observations, his acceptance of his circumstances, his stubborn desire to never remember his wild and free childhood before he was captured, his all-consuming, engrossing characterisation, and the way he changes to become the silverback he's always wanted to be, like his father, when he meets Ruby -make this a page-turner.
'I am never angry.
Anger is precious. A silverback uses anger to maintain order and warn his troop of danger. When my father beat his chest, it was to say, Beware, listen, I am in charge. I am angry to protect you, because that is what I was born to do.
Here in my domain, there is no one to protect.'
At page 72, my heart clenched and my eyes misted over with the introduction of baby Ruby, her distress and Stella's comfort...I'm tearing up just thinking about it. Ruby's a curious innocent you want to protect, and Ivan and Stella do their best.
This story is loosely based on a real gorilla called Ivan, and other elements of it are real too. I've come away thinking the human race are scum that should be exterminated to allow all animals to live natural, peaceful lives without fear of human murderers and torturers. Me, the meat-eating non-pacifist. I suddenly feel the need to contribute to an animal welfare charity. That's probably the message working its magic on me.
I highly recommend this captivating book to everyone over the age of 12, because the beginning is full of the depressing reality of cruelty to animals despite the sweet and somewhat predictable happy-ever-after ending. Even those with hearts made of ice can't fail to melt whilst reading this.
Allison is working in a bookstore when zombies attack sending her and the rest of the staff behind the reinforced door to the backrooms. There they wait for rescue and struggle to subsist on what they have. Allison discovers a wireless internet network and searches for information and other survivors which escalates into blogging her experiences while others from around the world comment. The pace picks up when a zombie squirrel* enters the picture and shatters all illusions of their relatively safe existence thus far, and Allison continues to post as survival forces her to travel.
Personalities and physical descriptions are fully formed. Most of the characters are quite distinct apart from the Black Earth Wives, the remains of a religious community who evolve into faceless, cardboard-cutout zealots hellbent on stamping out the sinners and the damned (zombies) and re-populating Earth by means of kidnap and rape of surviving men and women, and those who refuse are either burned alive or sacrificed to the walking dead. Nice.
Roux/Allison shied away from giving details in certain areas. Apparently being able to clean your ears is more important than having tampons. Things like intimacy and sex are omitted or very briefly mentioned at the wrong moments. Allison's relationship with Collin is ambiguous for a while because not enough information is given. Are they together? Are they having sex? Do they even have condoms? We find out later there was a limited supply of condoms but at a point when this was no longer an issue for Allison.
There's a strong focus on relationships. Allison's need to reconnect with her mother -a cancer sufferer, the trials and tribulations of two marriages and an engaged couple, plus Allison's own romance issues, and the responsibility of caring for children. It get's pretty messy. I'm disappointed by the out the author gives for (view spoiler)[Collin and Allison from his marriage by pairing his wife and nephew up and leaving them elsewhere. It's inexplicable when Lydia obviously wanted Collin. I guess there wasn't time to explore that side of things (hide spoiler)].
Allie makes some understandable mistakes, however, some of her decisions are either TSTL or extremely rash. In particular, her decision to sneak out and leave the group to go it alone, which under the circumstances I can understand why she would want to do this but it seemed an incredibly stupid thing to do and perhaps selfish for depriving a group she's come to know and care about of a valuable resource. Her sadistic revenge on the thief I tried to put down to adrenaline and stress but it's hard to forgive when she had the option to kill rather than torture and maim. Roux appears to realise she's turned the audience against her heroine and has Allie feel remorseful and shock at her own actions at a later date. After this her likability fell through the floor. And her crazy, outlandish heroics fell on deaf ears.
Far more detail is given at the beginning with a slower pace becoming increasingly rushed to a short, summarized ending. Frustrating and unsatisfying. I felt Julian was short-changed and deserved more page time to discover his motivation for leaving his only family and how he felt about it. I'm not even sure we get a proper physical description other than his injuries. (view spoiler)[I was sad at his passing. (hide spoiler)] Mourning deaths is almost non-existent, once they're gone, they're gone although only unnecessary and useless characters die (view spoiler)[except for Julian, a doctor (hide spoiler)]. Zombie cliche alert. "MY SON ATE MY BABY GIRL!" was as close as we got to heart-wrenching grief.
*Eating meat will have to be a thing of the past if animals can be zombified. Also, the human race may be f*cked. Maybe it only affects mammals though. That would explain why the fish and birds seemed unaffected. Then again, the squirrel is the only infected animal we come across. So, can animals be infected, or not?
Dragons. So that's what the Mayans were talking about. 2012 is the year of the fire-breathing, human-killing dragon. It's true. The Chinese came to th...moreDragons. So that's what the Mayans were talking about. 2012 is the year of the fire-breathing, human-killing dragon. It's true. The Chinese came to the same conclusion.
Previously thought to be mythological beings will rise up and decimate the human population. The best of the best of the military, the Marines -the epitome of "Protect and Serve" decide it's survival of the fittest and seem to believe the marauding Vikings had it right: rape, pillage and plunder, and occasionally slay a dragon.
25 years on and their actions have wiped out many a surviving community. There are rumours about: a) the Marines stealing not only resources and women but dead bodies too, and b) the existence of Dragon Warriors, men who wield heavy swords made of diamonds -the only weapon that can pierce their tough hides, supposedly used by the Marines. This puzzles and upsets Rain, our protagonist, of the survival camp, Sanctuary, when it appears disturbing and sinister things are being done she stumbles onto startling information as she attempts to follow through on a promise to a loved one.
The cover + dragons + post-apocalypic dystopia = must read for me. I loved the concept, the history and the world-building, but the Dragon Warrior's personal revelation and his response to it was too fast as was his love-at-first-sight which as a result was a little cliched and over-the-top. However, considering the shortish length of the book it's understandable. I liked Rain, she's tough and hard to fool. Give her a challenge and she will succeed. She's no wallflower, she won't wilt in the face of overwhelming odds or a troop of Marines planning on gang raping her. Eek.
The end...I can only assume who...and how...and hope there's a sequel.
I'm torn. There are some brilliant aspects to this book but it was dreadfully slow. I dragged myself through because after figuring out the Meet Joe B...moreI'm torn. There are some brilliant aspects to this book but it was dreadfully slow. I dragged myself through because after figuring out the Meet Joe Black angle I was curious to know if it would end the same way. It didn't. Actually, it took an unexpected yet not unwelcome turn that may not be liked by the masses.
Abbey is excellently portrayed. Her predicament: the ever-present crushing guilt over her mother's death, the growing distance between her and her father, and her misplaced obsession with Nate (the jock who has an obsession of his own with mountain climbing) resulting from her inability to deal with her guilt, wallowing in it instead of moving on with her life. So she imagines this fictitious romantic relationship with him to help her deal with reality. It comforts her. Yes, it's sort of creepy. She was one step away from becoming a full-on stalker but I understood her crush and empathised.
Her only company was her best friend Tanner but she hadn't revealed much about her mother's death and how she felt about it to him. He had his own hang-ups. He'd also been in a tragic accident but he hadn't been so lucky; he was paralysed from the waist down and in a wheelchair. I enjoyed reading Tanner's POV, witnessing how he was treated by others, how his relationships had suffered and the difference in how Abbey treats him. Without pity. She understands how it is for him without even asking.
'Being loners might have drawn us together out of necessity, but it was our friendship that had made us strong enough to come out the other side.'
The story is all about Abbey's transition. Realising that she's tired of being unhappy, of pretending, lying and hiding. She wants to live. It's a great message and I liked the method in which it was conveyed, reminiscent of Riders of the Apocalypse. Love, and the selfish versus the altruistic needs, wants and decisions we make based on that love were also expertly demonstrated. FYI, love's a bitch.
"Dealing with guilt and grief doesn't leave much room for anything else. I know about that dark stuff, but one day if you're really lucky, you get tired of feeling bad all the time. It's like a curtain opens and light comes in. First, it's only a sliver. Then more."
However, it's not all smooth sailing. Besides being slow I really struggled to remain interested whenever we joined Nate's dangerous climb up the mountain. Since seeing Cliffhanger as a child I never even contemplated doing something so unnecessarily hazardous. Rescue teams must love those guys. Anyway, when the Angel of Death does his Joe Black thing to Nate I cringed at his interactions with Abbey. Perhaps it was realistic given her crush but the way she sort of accepted not-Nate's behaviour was uncomfortable to read. I wanted her to push harder when she called him on it, which would've sped up proceedings.
Death had been dealt a bum hand, poor guy. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. As powerful as he was he couldn't control everything and he wasn't perfect. He made mistakes. The mythology surrounding Death was intriguing. He's sort of a swallower of souls, holding them inside him for safe-keeping until the day he's the last one to die. But each soul changes him, for better or worse and this is what prompts him to make contact with Abbey. The ravens were a nice touch -suitably eerie.
As for the romance, well this is tricky. How much to say? There are three potential boyfriends, I guess. One from Abbey's past, her present and future. And the most obvious is not the guy Abbey chooses, and I'm glad of this. Some might not be pleased but just this one aspect makes On a Dark Wing unique, for multiple reasons. The resolution at end was well done. I can definitely see people reacting in that manner to such an extraordinary situation although the lead-up to the climax was a little ludicrous.
Would I recommend this to anyone? Well, I didn't hate this book and I wouldn't dissuade anyone from reading it. In fact, I might warn them it's slow but I'd encourage them to read to the end because I think the effort just might be worth it.
***Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with this ebook.***(less)
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.(less)
A cleverly written, Tim Burton-eque fast-paced magical mystery with witty dialogue, and a beautifully eye-catching cover.
Mr. Skullduggery Pleasant is...moreA cleverly written, Tim Burton-eque fast-paced magical mystery with witty dialogue, and a beautifully eye-catching cover.
Mr. Skullduggery Pleasant is a vengeful detective, a living skeleton with a wicked way with sarcasm, introducing Stephanie (a.k.a. Valkyrie), an intelligent, resourceful, and inquisitive young girl, into the supernatural world her now deceased uncle was once apart.
The theatrically funny reactions of Stephanie's greedy family members to the reading of her bestselling author uncle's will hooked me into listening to Rupert Degas's masterful narration of Skullduggery Pleasant.
"There's something about you, Valkyrie. I'm not quit sure what it is. I look at you and..." "And you're reminded of yourself when you were my age?" "Hmm? Oh, no, what I was going to say is there's something about you really annoying, and you never do what you're told, and sometimes I question your intelligence, but even so I'm going to train you, because I like having someone follow me around like a puppy. It makes me feel good about myself." She rolled her eyes. "You are such a moron." "Don't be jealous of my genius." "Can you get over yourself for just a moment?" "If only that were possible." "For a guy with no internal organs, you've got quite the ego." "And for a girl who can't stand up without falling over, you're quite the critic." "My leg will be fine." "And my ego will flourish. What a pair we are."
I enjoyed SP and Stephanie's new and easy partnership in the supernatural detective business, saving the world from monstrous and magical bad guys, the first being Nefarian Serpine - the man who killed SP's wife and child, then tortured him to death. You see, he likes to leave a lot of bodies in his wake in his quest to bring back The Faceless Ones.
I wasn't particularly invested in the action, but I liked the way in which Stephanie learned how to navigate this new and interesting world, seizing opportunities, taking risks, and figuring out who she can and can't trust.
While many clichés are criticised by Landy, he still uses a fair few of them in his story, though Stephanie's endearing maturity, unexpected turncoats, the comedic elements, and the more violent and horrific aspects of the novel, do attempt to make up for it.
Not quite what I expected. I loved Phineas the pervy unicorn -he was a hoot. I was intrigued by the idea of TouchStones -humans used as anchors in thi...moreNot quite what I expected. I loved Phineas the pervy unicorn -he was a hoot. I was intrigued by the idea of TouchStones -humans used as anchors in this world for those of the Light and Dark Paths, and humans trapped in paintings but I found the book's mythology confusing what with all the doorways and crossroads, etc. There wasn't much in the way of explanation. And there were moments when I was tempted to put it down but I knew if I did I'd never pick it back up again. It lacked a certain something, depth perhaps. I don't know. But it wasn't an engaging, all-consuming read.
It was also difficult to get a handle on the relationship between Abby and the incubus which was originally based on pure lust and sexual tension which grew to something more, to the point where they trusted each other with their deepest, darkest secrets and their very lives. All in just a few short days. Very PNR. And yet Abby jokes about the language used in such books, "my lady softness" and "turgid magnificence".
(view spoiler)[However, I hated the reference to the Buffy & Angel situation at the end because I didn't believe it was comparable. B & A had no way to overcome their problems but it seemed very apparent that this couple did.
Other than her wish at the end of her contract, Abby's world had just opened up to other magical possibilities with her highly sought after KeyStone abilities and the contracts/trades she can now make. Them giving up on their relationship so soon disappointed me and I subsequently lost respect for both characters. Nothing in life is easy and they just gave up without trying. Pussies.
I know that what they had could be classed as "just" a short fling but it was intense enough that they'd become very important to each other. It seemed everything was pointing to a HEA then did a u-turn which didn't feel right and made little sense to me. I must point out here that I don't mind HFNs or even sad endings when done properly, I just feel this was dealt with badly. Or perhaps I've misinterpreted the situation. (hide spoiler)]
Reading the excerpt from the sequel still hasn't made up my mind as to whether I want to read it. At this point, Phineus and the baby are the only characters I'm interested in but I'm not sure that's enough for me to continue with Abby's story. 2.5 stars.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
*round of applause* More! More! Where's the sequel? Damn. There isn't one yet. I'm a little disappointed. I was all ready to do business with that hor...more*round of applause* More! More! Where's the sequel? Damn. There isn't one yet. I'm a little disappointed. I was all ready to do business with that horrible "one-click" button.
We have Carla, a rising musician catapulted 50 years (via a plane crash) into a post-apocalyptic future where women are so scarce they're looked upon with curiosity and lust everywhere they go. Women stealers are everywhere and rape is a near certainty if they walk around unprotected.
In the aftermath of the crash, Carla and Lisa volunteer to find aid for the wounded survivors. They're tricked and sold into a Bride Fight where men fight for the women to become their brides. The women have no say in the matter.
These two get lucky. Their winning males are gentle with them. Carla gets Taye, a hot Native American Alpha werewolf for a mate, who's read many romance novels to ensure he can seduce and please his woman! Lisa, a blond but jealous sex god.
Taye is tender and gentle with Carla, his Lupa. As is his pack. He wants her to be happy so he acquires the most thoughtful presents for her but Carla doesn't give in easily:
"Fire!" She jerked her hand away from him. "Gotta put the fire out...I mean, put wood on the fire!" She squirmed out from under him, fell out of bed in a sprawl of flailing limbs, and scrambled up to lunge for the small woodpile under the window. She blindly tossed some in to the stove and fled to the bathroom.
But when she does. It's not only hot but hilarious. Taye has never seen or touched a naked woman before, and he's mesmerised. He innocently announces the anatomical names of her lady parts as he sees and touches them. Not only that but he insists on a step-by-step seduction process, right out of the romance novels he's studied. A verrry loooong process. He tortures poor Carla. But I can't feel too sorry for her because she gets what she wants in the end. ;)
I'm pleasantly surprised I liked this so much. Usually a short-ish story + debut novel + first in series + paranormal romance = one crappy book. Not so!
I love the premise, the characters have solid personalities and the writing was spot on. The world-building was expertly done. It had a slightly cheesy ending but that's all the bad there is. I enjoyed this immensely.
I'm desperate to find out what happened with the other survivors. How Stag will fare with his mate Sherry who's too scared of his wolf to even begin to consider him as her husband. How Shadow is going to get a very depressed Glory, grieving for the life she's now realised is lost to her, to love him again. And most importantly of all, the outcome of the indication that Quill is interested in Ellie as his mate.