Robot Girlis an Afrofuturistic version ofBernard Beckett's Genesis for children, populated with a black cast of characters. Genesis is one of my allRobot Girl is an Afrofuturistic version of Bernard Beckett's Genesis for children, populated with a black cast of characters. Genesis is one of my all-time favourite books. It inverts expectations and examines what it means to be human and the value of emotions.
The cover is what drew me in. It's rare to see black characters in sci-fi novels. Knowing it was written by Malorie Blackman was the cherry on top.
*Robot Girl is a dyslexia friendly book first published in Sensational Cyber Stories (1997)....more
Oliver's illustrations are lovely, except for the ginger-haired child with what I can only describe as a pink phallic object on his forehead whichappe
Oliver's illustrations are lovely, except for the ginger-haired child with what I can only describe as a pink phallic object on his forehead which appears in every depiction of him. What the hell is it? Perhaps I should just say what we're all thinking - dickhead. It's a perfect representation, no? Did the editor not notice this . . . appendage before printing? I mean, it's kind of obvious. Is it some sort of unique Australian thing of which I'm unaware?
As for the story, The Great Paper Caper introduces the idea of crime to children using animals. We investigate the theft of trees, arrest the culprit and give him a fair trial. We empathize with the bear 'criminal' and his situation; a desire to follow the family tradition to win the paper plane competition as the generations before him did. Restitution is then demanded which was happily given by planting new trees to replace the ones stolen, and all is forgiven.
I feel like I should like this picture book more. Sadly, upon finishing I was just left cold. I'm not sure why....more
Flotsam, my first wordless picture book, feels age inappropriate. From what I gather picture books are generally aimed at 3 to 8-year-olds. I have douFlotsam, my first wordless picture book, feels age inappropriate. From what I gather picture books are generally aimed at 3 to 8-year-olds. I have doubts a child in that range would be able to fully comprehend the story without help from an elder. Does a 6-year-old know what a microscope is and what it's used for? Will they understand the images shown at different magnifications? A few Goodreads reviews say that it doesn't matter if a child understands or not, they might make up their own story.
A boy at the beach is studying the flotsam to wash up on shore where he stumbles on a camera. He develops the film to find photos of children dating back decades. It seems they each found the camera the same way and took photos of themselves holding the photo of the child who possessed the camera before them and then threw the camera back into the sea.
I struggled to comprehend the significance of the random sci-fi/fantasy artwork had to do with the story, which were actually what I liked most. They appeared more modern in style and vibrancy. A steampunk clockwork fish. Villages made of seashells on the backs of turtles. Little green men landing their spaceships underwater. Islands which are actually starfish who hop up on their legs and walk elsewhere. Mermaids.
After reading a few Goodreads reviews, I'm still not entirely sure of their relevance. I'm guessing these scenes were depicting what the boy imagined marine life was like, what he thought he might see in the developed film from the underwater camera. This is also another thing which dates the book. No one develops camera film now, not in the first world. I can't think of a single retailer which does, so continuing on that tradition would be difficult.
The camera concept feels very familiar to me. I'm sure I've seen this but with a camera phone. The discoverer took pictures of themselves and then left the phone to be discovered by someone else. The phone travelled all over the world. I just can't remember where I saw this, whether it was a news item or part of a TV show.
While there are multiethnic characters, the majority of the illustrations starring people seemed rather dated, ones I wouldn't be surprised to see in a book from the 1970s, so much so that I had to check the publication date - 2006. Huh.
Overall, I didn't enjoy this one despite its uniqueness in incorporating science and the thrill of discovery. It's not something I'd recommend....more
An erudite,self-aware feminist memoir, in graphic novel form, examining a lesbian's childhood relationship with her parents - especially her closetedAn erudite, self-aware feminist memoir, in graphic novel form, examining a lesbian's childhood relationship with her parents - especially her closeted gay father. Fun Home is chock full of psychoanalysis, literary criticism and commentary on gender, sexuality and suicide. You may recognise the author's name from her Bechdel Test, which 'asks if a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man' to indicate gender bias (Wikipedia).
I grew to resent the way my father treated his furniture like children, and his children like furniture.
Bruce taught high school English while also being a part-time funeral director. Renovating old houses, including his own, was his obsessive hobby. Affairs with men and sex with his students got him into trouble. Criminal charges were pressed when he gave an underage boy beer, code for the real accusation of homosexuality.
He KILLED HIMSELF because he was a manic depressive, closeted FAG and he couldn't face living in this small-minded small town one more SECOND.
...and when we'd go to New York, he'd go out alone at night. Once he got body lice! But it's not just the... the... affairs. It's the shoplifting, the speed tickets, the lying, his rages.
A couple of weeks before Bruce's death, Alison's mother told Bruce she was divorcing him. If he hadn't (maybe) killed himself by walking out in front of a truck, Bechdel ponders whether she would've lost him to AIDS a few years later.
I measured my father against the grimy deer hunters at the gas station uptown, with their yellow workboots and shorn-sheep haircuts. And where he fell short, I stepped in . . . Not only were we inverts. We were inversions of one another.
Bechdel suggests she compensated for her father's stereotypical feminine qualities--for example, trying to force her to like and wear girly things, and his fondness for the tiniest details of decorating and gardening and flowers--by becoming more butch, masculine.
While Alison always wanted to be a boy, she loved dressing in boys' clothes, Bruce confessed he'd wanted to be a girl. Interfered with as a child, his battle with gender and sexual identity issues and his manic depressive nature surely made for an exceptionally frustrated man.
Perhaps my eagerness to claim him as "gay" in the way I am "gay," as opposed to bisexual or some other category, is just a way of keeping him to myself--a sort of inverted Oedipal Complex.
Although Bechdel seemed to resent her father in childhood, she ultimately felt closer to him after learning of their shared homosexuality. Her relationship with her mother, on the other hand, felt mildly distant and awkward especially in her younger years when a 13-year-old Alison struggled to tell her mother she'd started her period. But those years were fraught with anxieties as OCD gradually monopolized Alison's childhood.
Fun Home is emotionally intelligent despite Bechdel's self-confessed difficulty with expressing her feelings. Although it reads like she swallowed an Oxford dictionary, an Oxford Companion to English Literature and several psychology textbooks, it's intimidating nature in its depth and astuteness is still accessible to those who haven't read the relevant books.
Bechdel's autobiographical journey is told through books and their relevance to her and her family. Most references are made to classic literature and their authors, some of which I haven't read. Albert Camus. Ernest Hemingway. F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. The Taming of the Shrew. Venus in Furs. James and the Giant Peach. Wallace Stevens. Marcel Proust. Morning's At Seven. Wind in the Willows. The Importance of Being Earnest and Oscar Wilde. Catcher in the Rye. James Joyce. The Odyssey. Earthly Paradise by Colette. Virgina Woolf. Flying by Kate Millett. The myth of Icarus and his father. And many, many more.
I've got to say I'm curious as to what Bechdel thought of her Philosophy of Art class, whether she found it as confounding as I did.
'A graphic narrative of uncommon richness, depth, literary resonance and psychological complexity.'Kirkus Reviews
Fun Home is the perfect book for studying. It's themes of feminism, lesbianism, psychoanalysis and literary discussion are all written with self-deprecating black humour and irony, making for a compelling read.
As Chast's parents aged, she recognised the need to care for them, and she did, until they died. Graphic novel memoirCan't We Talk about Something MorAs Chast's parents aged, she recognised the need to care for them, and she did, until they died. Graphic novel memoir Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? details her uncensored journey with humour and poignancy, examining her changing relationships with them along the way.
Being a middle aged married mother, Chast had alot on her plate already without having to worry about her 90-year-old parents living a couple of hours away. But when the increasing grime and clutter became disturbing, and as they refused to get someone in to help, it was time to move them into assisted living. Convincing them that this was for best was difficult, to say the least.
Roz:How's your cataract-removal-operation recovery coming along?
Mother:GREAT! It's like there was a yellow scrim over everything - and now it's GONE! I still have a patch over the eye, though. But not to worry: there's plenty of food in the house - Daddy and I just came back from Waldbaum's!
Roz:Mom! Listen to me. You can't drive with one eye. You have no DEPTH PERCEPTION!!!
Mother:Not a problem. Daddy guided me.
Chast's experience really resonated with me. She confesses to the things I feel embarrassed to admit, things I feel guilty about, as well as detailing the weirder and more messy aspects of illness and advancing age. I definitely related to the tedium of the never-ending paperwork.
Relationships with her parents were complex. Her mother was brash and never hesitated to give a 'blast from Chast'. Roz's father, on the other hand, was the exact opposite.
...he was kind and sensitive. He knew that my mother had a terrible temper, and that she could be overpowering. She had a thick skin. He, like me, did not. She often accused my father of "waling around with his feelers out."
In many ways, my father and I were more alike than my mother and I. We were both only children, and less used to the constant emotional tumult between people than my mother, who was one of five.
Although the subject matter is somewhat frightening in reminding us of our mortality, Chast's memoir isn't depressing. It's frank and reassuring. Death is only mysterious because we don't talk about it. By shining a light on the end stages of life, I feel informed. I've been enlightened.
"The Devil doesn't want her, and God's not ready yet."
However, Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? also shows the need for medical euthanasia. DNRs don't go far enough. Both parents lingered in pain and unconsciousness. Quality of life did not exist for them in those last days and weeks. It seemed unconscionably cruel to prolong their lives when they could no longer partake in life's joys, in even something as simple as communication, in all its forms.
Upon finishing my library copy I immediately bought myself one. The hardcover feels lovely to handle. It begs to be touched. If you're even a little bit intrigued by this book, read it. It's definitely worth reading....more
For the first time ever I like a Neil Gaiman novel. I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you.
It wasn't until I came across a Guardian article with the aboveFor the first time ever I like a Neil Gaiman novel. I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you.
It wasn't until I came across a Guardian article with the above image that I decided to give Gaiman a another chance. I mean, how bad could a feminist retelling of Sleeping Beauty be? Besides, the library had a copy so only an investment of time would be required.
A post-curse Snow White is a warrior queen about to get married to a seemingly inferior and submissive man she does not love. When the dwarfs report that the Sleeping Beauty curse is spreading rapidly into Snow White's lands she jumps at the chance to leave and attempt to break it despite the many princes and knights who've died trying over the years.
It's only when she and the dwarfs arrive at the castle that Gaiman's story really sets itself apart from other fairy tales and their retellings. Zombie-like sleepwalkers bent on killing. An elderly (and tragic) lady guardian and a Sleeping Beauty who aren't what you expect. A chaste kiss between Snow White and Sleeping Beauty to break the curse. And an ending which didn't feel quite right.
Instead of returning home, Snow White runs away from her royal responsibilities and her groom to travel with the dwarfs. Why not return home and refuse to marry? And abdicate the throne, if she really doesn't want to be queen? That takes more strength than running.
Everything I've read by Gaiman (his children's books) have received no more than two stars. Though he has intriguing ideas, his execution of them is poor, rarely gripping, and written in too few pages to do them justice. Bland characters I felt little for, one way or the other, is another common complaint. But yes, I had similar issues with The Sleeper and the Spindle. They weren't as pronounced this time. It's the unexpected and feminist twists that really sets this one apart. Black, white and gold illustrations were also positives I enjoyed. ...more
Be warned, Gaiman doesn't really rework Hansel andHaving liked The Sleeper and the Spindle, I assumed I'd enjoy another reworked fairy tale by him.
Be warned, Gaiman doesn't really rework Hansel and Gretel like he did with Sleeping Beauty, he just enlarges on it, adding minor changes along the way. Oddly I enjoyed this story more than any other by Gaiman, which probably tells you more about how much I like, or dislike, his work than anything else.
Lorenzo Mattotti's illustrations feel inappropriate for a children's book, in my opinion. They're 95% black brushstrokes with tiny bits of white. Since the cover of The Sleeper and the Spindlefeatured gold on the cover in addition to black and white, which were all present in the illustrations within, I assumed the green on Hansel & Gretel's cover would feature in the illustrations here as well. I was wrong. These are just black and white. Perhaps the illustrator was aiming for gothic, but when I can't even tell what a couple of them are supposed to be representing, there's a problem.
However, there's a random illustration which doesn't match the narrative. Only after reading the last two pages, which detail the source of the Grimm tale and a few paragraphs describing the original work, did I realise what had happened. Apparently a duck helped the duo cross the river in the original version and this is depicted in one of the illustrations. But Gaiman doesn't include the duck in his retelling. Did Hansel & Gretel even go through an editing stage?
Grimms' Hansel and Gretel was published in 1812. Twelve year old Dorothea Wild, known as Dortchen, was the source of the tale. She later became Mrs Wilhelm Grimm in 1825.
A hundred years before the Brothers Grimm, French author and fairy-tale collector Charles Perrault recorded "Le Petit Poucet," or "Hop-o'-My-Thumb." Hop-o'-My-Thumb, the smallest and cleverest of seven brothers, is also born to woodcutters who put the children out due to famine. Like Hansel, he uses trails of pebbles then breadcrumbs to find his way. The brothers stumble upon the house of an ogre who vows to kill and eat them, but Hop-o'-My-Thumb tricks him into slitting his daughters' throats instead (by swapping their caps). By the end of the story, "Hop-o'-My-Thumb." ends up with the ogre's money.
An Italian tale, "Nennillo and Nennella" is also similar. Then there's Russia's Baba Yaga who promises no to eat the children if they can complete impossible tasks. Kindness to the animals sees them help the children in completing the tasks in order to escape. Baba Yaga may have been inspired by in part by Cupid and Psyche's story in The Golden Ass written almost 2,000 years ago.
I want to award Gaiman's retelling a high rating, but it's not Gaiman's story. He hasn't made it his own like he did by adding a feminist twist to Sleeping Beauty. Sure, it's been reworded, and feels smoother and more eloquent for it, but there isn't any one thing I can definitively point to that sets it apart from the original. For me, the sometimes inarticulate illustrations detracted from the reading experience, as I sat there trying to figure out what exactly I was looking at. I felt they were incongruous and would've been better placed in art book or a gallery wall where I could've appreciated them more.
Unconditional love and care for a child teaches him how to love, how to love his parent in return, and how to love his own child.
Case in point:
(ClickUnconditional love and care for a child teaches him how to love, how to love his parent in return, and how to love his own child.
Case in point:
(Click to enlarge)
My only criticism: When the mother visits her son's house in the middle of the night I expected an unknown, bleary-eyed woman screaming "Burglar!" lying next to him in bed. Possibly with smeared mascara and a strong whiff of tequila on her breath. Now that would've been realistic. And hilarious.
Thank you, Karen H., for recommending this heart-melting book to me....more
Winston Churchill's black dog euphemism for depression is given form by author and illustrator Matthew Johnstone. He skillfully reveals his personal nWinston Churchill's black dog euphemism for depression is given form by author and illustrator Matthew Johnstone. He skillfully reveals his personal navigation through the seven hells of depression to the light at the end of the very long tunnel. As Churchill once said, "if you're going through hell, keep going." Johnstone sought treatment, told his family and friends and learned how to control the dreaded beast so he could finally enjoy life again.
While I do believe this picture book is accessible to all - including children - with its simple language and warm illustrations, its impact on me was . . . not what I expected. We're more informed and accepting of depression now than we were when I Had a Black Dog was first published in 2005. Ten years is a long time culturally. I know that had I read this back then, I'd be giving it a standing ovation for its accurate depiction of the most common mental illness.
The above page represents one of the aspects I struggled with for years. Every month, as part of my PMS symptoms, I suffered with cripplingly low self-esteem. Every memory from the minor slip ups to bigger mistakes I thought I'd made in my life would cycle through my mind. It was mental torture. Paranoia was one of the side effects, sometimes so terrible I had to leave work before I had a spectacular meltdown. Which leads on to The Fear.
The Fear that everyone will find out and judge you.
Because of the shame and stigma associated with Black Dog. I became a champion at fooling everyone, both at home and at work. Keeping up an emotional lie takes an incredible amount of energy. It's like trying to cover up epilepsy, a heart attach, or diabetes.
Although today we're more open and understanding about depression, there's still room for improvement.
To those who argue the 'black dog' isn't real, the foreword - written by a professor of clinical psychology and head of mental health for Derbyshire - explains the biological basis for the condition reflected in structural and chemical changes in the brain.
I'd definitely recommend I Had a Black Dog to everyone who wants to understand what it means to be depressed....more
Other than the seriously offensive smell of Hyperbole and Half's pages (I think it's all that colourful ink) and that odd yellow triangle on the top oOther than the seriously offensive smell of Hyperbole and Half's pages (I think it's all that colourful ink) and that odd yellow triangle on the top of Brosh's cartoon head (what is that, anyway? A hat, a blonde ponytail?), this is a self-aware blog-to-book memoir describing some of the absurdities and poignancy of everyday life.
My first encounter with Allie Brosh's blog of the same name was a few years ago when the glorious "God of Cake" went viral. I was reminded of an angry 8-year-old me wanting to get revenge on my mother. She wanted to go into town. I didn't. I said I needed the toilet. I sat there, and sat there, and sat there, making her wait. She knew what I was doing. After that day she was suspicious every time I emptied my bladder before leaving the house. My plan backfired while Brosh's succeeded.
What usually ends up happening is that I completely wear myself out [doing all my chores in one day]. Thinking that I've deserved it, I give myself permission to slack off for a while and recover. Since I've exceeded my capacity for responsibility in such a dramatic fashion, I end up needing to take more recovery time than usual. This is when the guilt spiral starts.
The longer I procrastinate on returning phone calls and emails, the more guilty I feel about it. The guilt I feel causes me to avoid the issue further, which only leads to more guilt and more procrastination. It gets to the point where I don't email someone for fear of reminding them that they emailed me and thus giving them a reason to be disappointed in me.
Everyone will have a story similar to "The Parrot". That toy that makes that annoying, repetitive noise which suddenly and mysteriously stops working, because your parents have removed the batteries before they experienced a mental breakdown.
Brosh's take on depression (Part One and Part Two) did an excellent job of explaining the pressures of acting 'normal'.
I'm no stranger to the inappropriate hysterical laughter that comes after something breaks inside, together with not having been genuinely amused for a long time, made me completely understand Brosh's episode over a single piece of corn found under the refrigerator. My toilet had overflowed, shit everywhere. Only a few days before, the kitchen had flooded with clean water. It was already a time of great stress, and this was that infamous final straw. I laughed and laughed.
...my depression got so horrible that it actually broke through to the other side and became a sort of fear-proof exoskeleton.
But my cynicism wouldn't leave me.
Hating everything made all the positivity and hope feel even more unpalatable. The syrupy, over-simplified optimism started to feel almost offensive.
"Identity" Parts One and Two focuses on feeling bad for the uncensored and uncharitable thoughts we want no one to ever hear, and the need to feel like a better person than we actually are, hating when we're reminded of it by overachievers. We've all been there.
Duncan had a bad day . . . sort of looks like he might cry. Feel highly inconvenienced by this. Was planning to sit on couch and do nothing, but now obligated to pay attention to feelings of person I love. Ignore for a few seconds to see if it will go away on its own . . . Nope. Going to have to do something. Realize I'm an asshole. Feel even more inconvenienced by situation because I also wasn't planning on having to think about what an asshole I am. Momentarily overwhelmed by self-concern in middle of someone else's crisis. Somehow fight through self-centered haze long enough to provide adequate emotional support. Congratulate self for being so caring.
Although I enjoyed reading Hyperbole and a Half, I'm not sure if it's worth buying. It depends on your preferential type of humour and whether you're a dog lover who can enjoy the misadventures of Simple Dog and Helper Dog. Sampling a few of Brosh's blog posts would give you a feel for her style of writing, and if you're still unsure, just do what I did and borrow it from the library....more
As someone with hayfever who has to suffer through the annual sneezing season, I thought this might address the anxieties children might have about it, like I did. I dreaded periodically interrupting my teachers with my deafeningly loud sneezing fits. Self-consciousness led me to devise a way to blow air out of my mouth at Formula One speeds in a quieter manner, while desperately trying to stifle any followups.
Singing, one of my favourite activities, was impossible in summer. Break times were hell. We were always forced out onto the grassy fields - the home of the pesky pollen spore - instead of the perfectly acceptable concrete playgrounds. Teachers who liked to teach outside on particularly warm summer days were glared at with unspoken hatred.
Gaiman addressed none of this. Instead he exaggerated the effect of the sneeze. At least sneezes don't literally blow people away, he seems to say. That would be really bad.
Adam Rex's illustrations, on the other hand, I loved. A broad array of dozens of anthropormorphized animals kept me entertained as I challenged myself to identify them all. Not always an easy task with a tapir, a platypus and a Japanese macaque among them....more
I've wanted to brush up on my persuasive writings skills for a while as it's something I've been using quite a bit in recent monthsAnswer: Not really.
I've wanted to brush up on my persuasive writings skills for a while as it's something I've been using quite a bit in recent months and I always failed that part of my English language studies at school. I picked two books: this one (obtained from the library) and Persuasive Writing: How to Harness the Power of Words (which I bought). I'm glad I made this decision.
Can I Change Your Mind? isn't as useful as I was hoping, whereas quickly flicking through my other choice saw me finding some very clear and immediately handy tips. Of the four sections, the first is the worst. The layout and formatting didn't help which is notably better in Persuasive Writing. Camp rambles so I skimmed, proving him right that 'the reader never reads from start to finish', but helpfully, someone who'd read this book previously had underlined the key points in pencil. Defacing a book is wrong, but in this case, acceptable.
'Understanding the reader' is the best chapter of Section One, but although Camp says we shouldn't assume our reader is an idiot, only lacking knowledge, he appears to treat his readers as such because most of what he advises is exceedingly obvious.
The main points to take away are:
✺ Remember (what's appropriate to) the Reader and the (intended) Result ✺ Is this useful / relevant to the reader? ✺ Is it interesting? ✺ Is it enjoyable? ✺ Will it encourage a favourable Response? ✺ Is it Rewarding to the reader? Is it worth reading?
Section Two is comprised of a 61-page A-Z of tips which is the most useful part of the book e.g. adjectives, alliterations, (being) boring, etc.
Badly Behaving Author sensitivities
'For me, true creative writing - Writing as Art, if you like - comes from a completely different rules apply. Ad the most important of these, I believe, is that genuine artists should be driven by self-expression.
This doesn't mean, of course, that they don't care about how people respond to their work. But what it does mean is that they can never let this dictate to them. Artists must always give absolute priority to finding the best possible way of giving shape and substance to their own vision; regardless of whether that makes it more or less 'accessible' to the general public; easier or harder to understand. A real creative writer would never change a single comma just to please the reader.
As persuasive writers, on the other hand, we're perfectly happy to tweak our punctuation - and do much more besides - if it makes our reader more likely to respond in the way we want.' [Chapter 1, underlining mine]
What?! Why are authors of fiction exempt from being classified as persuasive writers? They have to convince readers to finish their story by making it interesting and enjoyable, and generally worth reading. If you want a favourable response from your potential readers, you have to cater to their tastes. If you don't, then you can't complain when few enjoy your work, as Badly Behaving authors often do, with little respect to their reputations.
Therefore, all BBAs should read Section Three, Chapter 5 for how to handle feedback:
✺ Don't panic ✺ Don't take it personally ✺ Don't get pissed off ✺ Be positive - because some feedback helps
Something that really good persuasive writers never stop doing. [Section Two]
Again, authors of fiction are persuasive writers. Also, this book could've been better edited based on the grammar and syntax. What a coincidence.
So while Camp is chatty, and therefore the opposite of concise, there are some helpful tips to be had, but I wouldn't buy this; borrow it, like I did.
Think of wit as verbal viagra: a little something that can spice up the relationship between reader and writer.
If you hated Throne of Glass because the supposedly violent assassin acted out Cinderella instead of Buffy, then you'll absolutely adore Crown of MIf you hated Throne of Glass because the supposedly violent assassin acted out Cinderella instead of Buffy, then you'll absolutely adore Crown of Midnight. Rare is it these days, that an author will read critical reviews such as mine and actually make a concerted effort to make their readers happy by upping their game. And boy, did Ms. Maas raise the bar.
Let's address the issues that I brought up in my 2-star review of the debut.
Poorly constructed insta-love love triangle: Quashed. Winner is determined.
He would move on. Because he would not be like the ancient kings in the song and keep her for himself. She deserved a loyal, brave knight who saw her for what she was and did not fear her. And he deserved someone who would look at him like that, even if the love wouldn't be the same, even if the girl wouldn't be her. So Dorian closed his eyes, and took another long breath. And when he opened his eyes, he let her go. [p119]
Dorian shows surprising maturity and with the help of Celaena's bestie, Princess Nehemia, he attempts to move on without bitterness leaving the well-suited Chaol to win her affection.
"Don't cause trouble for them. You and I... We will always stand apart. We well always have... responsibilities. We will always have burdens that no one else can ever understand. That they" - she inclined her head toward Chaol and Celaena - "will never understand. And if they did, then they would not want them."
They would not want us, is what you mean. [p135]
Chaol and Celaena's romance deepens and heats up, finally culminating in consummation. 18-year-old Celaena was a virgin, and though it hurt, afterwards she was 'Tired but happy.' And in love. She felt whole and full of hope - something she'd never felt before.
The spoilt prince: Grows Up.
Dorian stands up to his father by opposing his proposal to expand the slave camps filled with the innocent of conquered foreign lands. Dorian's rage brings out his magic that he never knew he had and is desperate to hide it from everyone so he can't be executed by his father, the King. Dorian knows he's vastly outnumbered when it comes to his father's council, and yet he begins to fight back anyway. I worry about his newly arrived cousin. That guy has been positioned to become Dorian's confidant - he agrees with everything the prince says, while plotting behind his back.
An inconsistent heroine: Blood, death, intrigue - all on stage - and not a dress in sight. Celaena's far more tactful, except for a major and understandable incident - more on that later.
Celaena reached a gloved hand into the sack and tossed the severed head toward him. No one spoke as it bounced, a vulgar thudding of stiff and rotting flesh on marble. It rolled to a stop at the foot of the dais, milky eyes turned toward the ornate glass chandelier overhead.
Pages 221-3 of the UK paperback depict the most beautifully written fight scene - Celaena against multiple opponents as she infiltrates a building to save a kidnapped Chaol. Bloody and violent, yet graceful and beautiful. What follows is brilliantly written - more on this below.
"Enough! We have enough enemies as it is! There are worse things out there to face!" Calaena slowly turned to him, her face splattered with blood and eyes blazing bright. "No, there aren't." she said. "Because I'm here now."
Predictable: Much less so now. You get a feeling about certain people and situations but nothing is so painfully obvious that you're frustrated at what seems a slow pace or the ignorance of any characters. And there's a major incident I didn't see coming that has sad and disheartening ramifications - more on that in a moment.
'I wanted more action, politics and mystery...': I got all of these. There was no way I was DNFing this one.
****HUGE SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT****
Part II Nehemia's death. Celaena runs full speed to Nehamia's aid when she found out about the threat to her best friend's life via Archer and Chaol, only to find a corpse in Nehamia's now blood spattered rooms, obviously tortured before she was killed. This tips our heroine into the blinding rage and agony of grief.
They had done this. Her bloody fingers slid down Dorian's face. to his neck. He just stared at her, suddenly still. "Celaena," that familiar voice said. A warning. They had done this. They had betrayed her. Betrayed Nehemia. They had taken her away. Her nails brushed Dorian's exposed throat. "Celaena," the voice said. Celaena slowly turned. Chaol stared at her, a hand on his sword. The sword she's brought to the warehouse - the sword she'd left there. Archer had told her that Chaol had known they were going to do this. He had known. She shattered completely, and launched herself at him.
It's absolutely heartbreaking, and I felt every second of it.
"You will never be my friend. You will always be my enemy." She bellowed that last word with such soul-deep hatred that he felt it like a punch to the gut.
Dorian accidentally uses magic to stop Celaena's blade from stabbing and killing Chaol. It turned out Archer had Nehemia killed - Celaena kills him.
Celaena can't bare to live without Nehemia so she tries to bring her back to life, all the while Nehemia's last words to her at the end of an argument ringing in her ears:
"You are nothing more than a coward."
Risking life and limb for others who've done nothing for her, isn't in Celaena's nature. Going against the King is to court the possible pain and death of those she's come to love. Understandably, relative safety is a valuable commodity to her. Nehemia challenging this hurt her deeply because she may seem a hardened, almost unfeeling assassin on the outside but her personal history has left her soft and vulnerable on the inside.
By opening a portal, Celaena is able to speak to Nehemia one last time where the princess reveals her level of dedication to her people; her last act of bravery, the ultimate self-sacrifice - her death would bring them hope of a better future.
"You will not understand yet, but... I knew what me fate was to be, and I embraced it. I ran toward it. Because it was the only way for things to begin changing, for events to be set in motion."
Chaol finds out Celaena is part fae (she can shift between forms) and has a shit-ton of raw magic. Chaol trades his position and a chance to be with Celaena again to send her away - back to the safety of the fae. He made a deal with his father - he has to return to his homeland to be heir again.
In the process, Chaol makes an enemy of Dorian because Dorian doesn't know she's fae with magic, too dangerous to be so close to the King, who executes magic users. Her mission is to execute the royal family of a land yet to fall to Dorian's father.
As Celaena is sailing away she gives Chaol a clue as to her real identity; his research reveals: she's the last queen of Terrasen - the only person who rally an army large enough to defeat Dorian's father.
I'm incredibly impressed by this sequel. The series has gone from 'abandoned' - until I heard about the improvements in this one - to 'must read the next one'. I will say, I'm disappointed that Chaol and Celaena have been broken apart by his mistake, grief and now distance, but it was done so well that I can't 'hate' this development. Bring on book #3 of 6, Heir of Fire....more
I think the most unconventional family I've come across was in a documentary about a couple who were gay female-to-male transgendered. One of them had undergone gender reassignment surgery and the other used his uterus to have babies via a sperm donor. They had three or four children and were loving parents.
Love is love, and family is what you make it. If any child in a neglectful or abusive situation were to be offered a loving home with a gay couple, I'm sure they'd jump at the chance. As long as the children are loved, who really cares if their parents are gay, straight or transgendered?...more
The ultimate battle between entertainment devices: old versus new, low-tech versus high tech; pitching friends - a donkey and a monkey - against eachThe ultimate battle between entertainment devices: old versus new, low-tech versus high tech; pitching friends - a donkey and a monkey - against each other.
These days we're more likely to pick up a shiny and versatile iPad before we'd even look at the one-trick pony of a book, dismissing their simplicity by thinking it's synonymous with boring. Far from it! The simple things in life can be the most enjoyable.
I can imagine children having this exact conversation either among themselves or with an adult. It's a cute way to introduce children to the now old fashioned notion of holding and reading a physical book.
As soon as I was done fawning over this I passed it on to my sick mother who's been miserable of late and it produced a fit of laughter - a surprisingly happy sound I've been missing of late.
Beautifully illustrated with such an adorable and timely little story to perk up anyone's day, It's a Book... so awesome it should be on every child's bibliophile's bookshelf....more
Naomi Wolf does not have a way with words. Dense, vague and ambiguous language; sweeping generalizations; a*Cross-posted on Wordpress and BookLikes.
Naomi Wolf does not have a way with words. Dense, vague and ambiguous language; sweeping generalizations; and seeing a deeper meaning or intent where a simpler explanation is more likely and appropriate – which created a conspiratorial air that everyone, or just men, were doing everything they can to oppress women and repress their desires. Frustration had me skimming, and I found myself regularly defending men and questioning women’s complicit behaviour in undermining their own positions in society.
Contrary to Wolf’s implications, not all men are women haters. Sadomasochism is not a new concept, of which the 18th century Donatien Alphonse Francois Sade, also known as the Marquis de Sade, can attest. The role of masochist is not always female and submissive, the male not always the sadist and dominant. No mention is made of the controls in place when acting out S&M to protect both actors in the roleplay e.g. safe words. Wolf’s perception of S&M is most definitely abhorrence for what she sees as the violent degradation of women.
Women are underestimated. They are to have more than one sexual fantasy; can desire to be dominant and submissive at different times, and just because they might enjoy rape fantasy does not mean they want to be raped or believe rape is acceptable. Also, male rape exists – they can be victims too, just as women can be the rapist or the abuser. Not all pornography is disturbingly violent; Wolf makes no distinctions between hardcore and softcore porn and various fetishes.
Men aren't unaffected by The Beauty Myth. Replicas of the beautiful male Adonis grace magazine covers and appear in top grossing movies. Show me covers of the average looking man who doesn't possess a six pack. Men's Health?GQ? Nine out of ten are the epitome of male perfection, but does 90% of the male population reflect this look? No. Men suffer the same self-image problems as women: body dysmorphia, anorexia, bulimia, etc. Bulimia and cosmetic surgery (specifically genital surgery) are the only topics in which Wolf considers men to be victims, in the Hunger and Violence chapters, respectively.
I can't quite decide if Wolf cherry picks her data or if she's ignorant of certain issues due to the time in which The Beauty Myth was written. However, she does make some valid points and highlights issues like female genital mutilation, post-traumatic stress suffered by rape victims, the prevalence of rape in universities and incest in families (Kinsey found incest in 24% of American, Australian and British families), and a possible link between victims of child sex abuse and the desire for cosmetic surgery.
'In the wake of rape allegations against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, feminist Naomi Wolf publicly denied that if a man holds down and tries to sexually penetrate a woman who previously agreed to sex but changed her mind after he refused to wear a condom, he is a rapist. She also denied that penetrating a sleeping woman is rape. Wolf later went further, alleging that it is wrong to keep confidential the names of people who report that they've been raped. She reasoned it encourages false rape claims and that women should grow up and be treated as "moral adults" who stand by their allegations. When the two Assange accusers' names were released, they received death threats and experienced other forms of humiliation, the very reason names are publicly withheld now.'
This is backed up with Wolf's discussion with fellow feminist Jaclyn Friedman [part I and part II]. It's astonishing to me how much the author has changed her opinions on rape. In 1990, when The Beauty Myth was first published, Wolf was telling us how common acquaintance rape is and that victims of rape that don't call it rape still suffer as much as those who do, and twenty years later in 2010, she believed the controversial police report over the rape victims own words. It boggles the mind. How can she not remember writing this?:
'...much AIDS education has been utterly naive. If a quarter of young women have at some point had control denied them in a sexual encounter, they stand little chance of protecting themselves from the deadly disease. In a speakout on sexual violence at Yale University, the most common theme was a new crime that has been largely ignored: when a woman stipulates a safe, or nonpenetrative, sexual encounter, but the man ejaculates into her against her will.' (pg168) [emphasis mine]
What has happened to change Naomi’s mind after twenty years as a feminist and someone who has worked with rape victims?
Moving on. Question: Who is responsible for the evolution of culture? Government? Religion? Marketing directors? The people? Every now and then Wolf derives intent to derail female empowerment by THEM and somehow manages to avoid identifying the person(s) of blame and it wasn’t always obvious. I can see entities like Playboy intending to effect cultural change for financial gain, and with the help of other entities and technological advancement, has succeeded in its quest to make pornography easily accessible. However, this was only possible with majority social acceptance. Without the complicity of the general public, effecting change is difficult. Wolf doesn’t really address this, she prefers to concentrate on her perceived instigators of change rather than the response of the people as a whole.
I couldn’t finish the first chapter, ‘Work’, as it was badly written – almost nonsensical at times - and in desperate need of an editor. I skimmed over ‘Culture’, ‘Violence’ (which actually focuses on cosmetic surgery) and ‘Beyond the Beauty Myth’. Religion was an easier read and mostly made sense. ‘Sex’ is the chapter I concentrated on.
Twenty three years have passed since publication and while I can sort of see why this was groundbreaking in 1990, I find it strange that much of the feminist literature published today still refer to The Beauty Myth. Saying that, most of the topics covered are still relevant but areas of it are seriously outdated and perpetuates inequality by almost completely demonizing men, failing to recognise women's potential to be abusers, and men as victims. ...more
A Secret Rage made for an uneasy listening experience, not just because of the graphic rape and its aftermath, but the misguided anti-racism and the sA Secret Rage made for an uneasy listening experience, not just because of the graphic rape and its aftermath, but the misguided anti-racism and the shaky writing, had I been reading, may have resulted in a DNF.
Narrator Johanna Parker made Nickie's fear and horror so convincing I struggled to remain calm and continue listening. The rapes and the effect it has on its victims and the Southern community were well done, though you really can't definitively tell someone's skin colour from their voice despite Nickie and Barbara's assertion that you can, marking their rapist as white and not an N-word - that word used a couple of times.
Well, that's yet another of Charlaine Harris's protagonists to be unhappy and abused along with Sookie, Harper and Lily although this time she was an NYC model returning to the South and going back to college whereas the others tried to blend into the background whenever possible.
A Secret Rage doesn't possess all of the telltale qualities of a typical Harris novel, but as I understand it, this is one of the first books she'd ever written....more
While still an easy and amusing read, the last 60 pages or so were aggravating as the Tribbles conspired to keep Fiona and Lord Peter Havard apart, buWhile still an easy and amusing read, the last 60 pages or so were aggravating as the Tribbles conspired to keep Fiona and Lord Peter Havard apart, but they don't spend enough time together anyway. However, I did enjoy Beaton's running marriage-as-trade theme as women were sold off to the highest bidder, and Amy's filthy mouth, pragmatic and forthright mannish-for-the-time personality....more