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 and GHaving 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
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 MiIf 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; an*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
Monkeys eating their own testicles. The merits of omega-3s. Foods to avoid. The ineffectual food system controlled by supermarkets and the demand forMonkeys eating their own testicles. The merits of omega-3s. Foods to avoid. The ineffectual food system controlled by supermarkets and the demand for cheaper food. The exploitation of developing nations. Antiquated legisalation and subsidies. Felicity Lawrence covers them all in Eat Your Heart Out, expanding on her previous work Not on the Label: What Really Goes Into the Food on Your Plate.
However, if you've read that then you'll find parts of Eat Your Heart Out repetitive by again describing our dependence on oil and fossil fuels, and noting the plight of farmers and processors at the hands of the supermarkets. But the author does eventually build on and update us on those issues, though perhaps Ms. Lawrence should've started her books off with 'Supermarkets are destroying food sustainability because... and are responsible for many other evils such as...' If you don't feel guilty about buying your groceries from them now, then you will once you've finished reading.
Agricultural subsidies are benefiting large corporations (e.g. Tate & Lyle) and landowners and not the farmers who need them to survive, so we're seeing more and more farmers either selling up or going bankrupt, decreasing the number of competitors and sometimes creating monopolies leading supermarkets to search further afield for certain foods. For example, we'll soon have to import milk because dairymen are rapidly disappearing:
'The irony for Colin Rank was that his cows were drinking water from a Cotswold spring that he could bottle and sell for 80p a litre, several times the price he could get for his milk. "We're giving it to cows and devaluing it by turning it into milk. Like all dairy farmers we could pack up tomorrow and do something better with our capital but we do it because we have an emotional investment in the land and the animals. And we know there's a market for our products if only the market worked."'
Developed countries are buying up land (for intensive farming) or plundering the seas of developing countries and are depleting and/or destroying their natural resources without taking responsibility by making an effort to minimize or repair the damage. Sometimes this action is in response to growing domestic legislation and increasing local labour costs.
Domestic labour costs are expensive so food processors get rid of British workers in favour of migrant workers both legal and otherwise:
'...cheap, dispensable labour had become structural to the economics of food manufacturing and processing. Companies didn't want to employ people directly, because to be the lowest cost producer you have to be able to turn off your labour at no cost whenever you want. You don't want to be saddled with expensive benefits such as pensions. And subcontracting chains enable you to hide how little you are paying.'
Exploited migrant labour falls somewhere between servants and slaves as they're not paid a reliable or livable wage and are likely to suffer dangerous and deadly conditions.
Talking of slaves, Lawrence gives us a history lesson on the Atlantic slave trade as free labour for sugar production in the West Indies for British consumption by the rich. I suppose I'm a descendant of those slaves being that I'm half Bajan.
Are a majority of us omega-3 deficient?
Deprived monkeys self-harm. One tried to eat his own testicles. Experiments Lawrence describes are incredibly interesting, showing the substantial effects on physical and mental health. Diet changes in prison reflected a remarkable lowering of objectionable behaviour. Violence and depression decreased as levels of omega-3 increased. Today's diet is less varied and nutritious as it was fifty years ago and omega-3 is harder to come by other than in fish. Of course, other factors play a part but I think there's some merit to this theory.
FOODS TO AVOID:
Probiotics. They make you fat and aren't particularly healthy for you unless you have a digestive illness.
Acrylamide. A carcinogen present in starchy foods heated to high temps during processing, e.g. crisps, chips, and breakfast cereals.
Sugar in all its refined forms, including high fructose corn syrup, because it's addictive, fattening, causes diabetes, etc.
Baby formula, if possible. Eight months of exclusively bottle feeding results in 30,000 extra calories in the form of sugar, than consumed by breastfed babies. They're getting them hooked while they're young.
Commercial baby food. Sterilization caramelizes sugars in their fruit and veg.
'Low-fat' anything. Code for 'high in sugar'.
Aspartame, an artificial sweetener that has been found to be carcinogenic.
Endangered fish. Try to eat wild fish from the MSC sustainable list. Farmed seafood is rife with disease and heavy metals. Lawrence says the fish industry is committing suicide by willfully depleting wild fish stocks. She notes the red tape tying the hands of local fishermen (selling locally) illegally over-fishing to make ends meet as the bulk of quotas are allocated to the 'big fish' so to speak, forcing the little guys to either break the law or go out of business.
Margarine and its hydrogenated trans fat high cholesterol crap. Ironically, you're better off with butter than its substitutes which are less healthy.
Soya milk. Soya's oestrogens disrupt hormone balances (e.g. menstrual cycles) and damage the thyroid. Babies exclusively fed soya milk equates to them taking 5 birth control pills a day - which is unsafe. Not even children should be drinking it as they'll reach sexual maturity faster. For boys, oestrogen can negatively affect their fertility. It's possible it could be good for menopausal women and older men as it may help protect against heart disease, osteoporosis, and breast and prostate cancers.
Cereal. Most are high in sugar. Weetabix and porridge are best.
Standard milk. Organic grass-fed is healthier and more nutritious (68% more omega-3s) and the cows are treated better than this:
'[Cows] have been so overbred for high yields that their mammary glands' capacity to produce milk exceeds their ability to digest enough nutrients to keep up ... they are operating at the limits of their physiology ... half intensively kept cows go lame in any one year, and 20 per cent in a herd are likely to go lame at any one time. '
Why? Standing on concrete for long periods, too heavy udders prone to mastitis requiring antibiotics and possibly causing infertility, and not enough space to lie down in.
Consuming lots of low quality meat. Meat is an inefficient source of protein requiring a large amount of resources for small output, which due to intensive farming practices has been further devalued since the once lower fat white meat, like chicken, is now as fatty as red when the animals aren't free to exercise. Neither are they free to eat their natural diet and are instead fed grain, lowering the nutritional value of their meat, eggs and dairy. Also, cheap 'fresh' meat sometimes contains added sugar and water. I knew about the water, not the sugar.
✺ Male dairy calves are viewed as useless waste because they don't produce milk, there's little demand for veal and EU legislation and DEFRA policy allows them little recourse but to shoot them at birth. Why can't they be raised for beef? They're bred for high-producing dairy and give very little beef for the cost of resources to raise them - it doesn't make economic sense.
✺ Soya and its derivatives are in high demand for its uses in animal feed, ready meals, junk and fast food, but the price is the illegal clearing of the Amazon to grow it.
✺ Fruit's been engineered to be sweeter (e.g. red grapes 4% sweeter than in 1940s) sacrificing flavour and vitamins and minerals in the process. It may also be months old by the time it hits supermarket shelves - they've found a way to halt the ripening process.
✺ 75% of sugar is bought by industry rather than shoppers so it should be no surprise British teenage boys consume the equivalent of 1,000 colas or 11,800 sugar cubes per year.
Future prospects for the food industry are going to be shaped by the rising oil prices, climate change, China and India's rapid growth and changing diets, obesity and related illness, the 'short-termism' of governments, and the raised awareness among consumers changing the way we shop, resulting in more protests and campaigns for change. Yep, change is inevitable.
Lawrence really hammers home the dangers of the current system one day leaving us all starving to death if we don't change what and how we grow, rear and sell our food. Whatever happens, know we'll most likely have to pay more for it, and so we should. Remember, you get what you pay for. Hopefully, that will mean nutritious food free from chemicals produced by people paid a decent wage to treat animals with care....more
If a little out of date (published in 2004) Not on the Label is a solid exposé of the industrialization and globalization of food to the detriment ofIf a little out of date (published in 2004) Not on the Label is a solid exposé of the industrialization and globalization of food to the detriment of the environment, health, society, our senses and wallets. Felicity Lawrence has spent 3 years investigating the global food system for The Guardian uncovering the hidden and scandalous practices involved in the journey of food from the dirt to our stomachs, offering up suggestions for improvements to the system for future security as '...our current food system is environmentally, ethically and even biologically unsustainable...' and how the average person can do their part if they wish, though she doesn't judge those that are unable to do so.
All chicken is diseased. It's not a stretch to make that statement since mass contamination takes place. It only takes is one sick chicken. Doesn't matter if it's organically reared, they go through the same processing plants. And if that wasn't enough, cheap chicken breasts can contain only 54% chicken - the rest is water and possibly pork and/or beef, which usually appear in ethnic restaurants to be eaten Muslims and Hindus. (In that case, the recent horsemeat scandal should've come as no surprise, though once again it was the Irish who brought it to light.)
Furthermore, genetic selection has seen chickens appear like 'weightlifters on steroids' with their over-large breasts crippling their legs, putting undue pressure on their hearts and causing skin infections from rolling around in their own excrement. Limited living space from intense farming increases disease and treatment with antibiotics resulted in antibiotic resistance which may be being passed on to humans.
Ready-to-eat salad is less nutritious, can be diseased, and the chlorine it's washed in has been linked to cancer.
'Supermarkets rarely have written contracts with farmers or packhouses promising to buy certain quantities, although farmers are obliged to commit to supplying certain amounts to them. The farmers are both required to take the loss on any surplus and to meet any shortfall at their own expense by importing if their own harvest does not meet demand. [...] The prices paid to farmers are nowhere near the cost of carrying a permanent workforce large enough to cope with fluctuations in demand.'
Half the workforce in food and catering are illegals - more than 2 million in the UK, procured and managed by dangerous and greedy gangmasters making more than £8m per year through intimidation, punishment, murder, expanding into prostitution and drug-smuggling. These illegals also travel to Spain - the salad bowl of the UK, where intense farming practices to satisfy our demand have polluted the environment with pesticides and dried out the land, turning it into desert.
'Ninety-nine pence for a few leaves is a lot of money. But 99p for an unlimited supply of servants to wash and pick over it all, hidden not as in the old days below stairs, but in remote caravans or underneath plastic hothouses - that is cheap.'
Food Miles & Transport
We're dependent on crude oil for agrochemicals, plastics and food miles. Tesco in 2002 covered 224,000km in 1.2m lorry journeys. Thirty years has quadrupled the number of products stocked by supermarkets yet the variety they offer is still limited. However, in an effort to cut costs supermarkets prefer to collect their goods from suppliers using their own lorries meaning small independents will have to do the same, contributing to their disappearance from our high streets.
The 'falldown' begins when a customer buys something in one of the [supermarket] stores. Scanning the barcode at the till creates a new order for the product. The information is transmitted to head office, electronically collated several times a day and instantly converted into a delivery schedule for the farmer or manufacturer for the following day. The supplier will have estimated how much food to produce, but will only get a final order a few hours ahead of the time he or she is expected to deliver to the depot...The orders can vary dramatically. A spell of good weather can, for example, double the demand for lettuce. Failing to meet a retailer's order in full can result in a financial penalty. Suppliers can find themselves losing thousands of pounds. But then unexpected rain might halve your order. If you end up with a surplus there's hardly anywhere for it to go, since the big retailers control much of the country's total market.'
To add to the pressure, suppliers can be delisted for refusing price reductions, trade with other supermarkets are restricted, and they're sometimes forced asked to 'contribute to the costs of store refurbishments or openings,' though absorbing volume and customer discounts such as BOGOF pressed upon them, sometimes retrospectively, have to be the most damaging to the health of their businesses. Demands for compensation for anything and everything or just having it deducted from invoices without discussion also screams unfair practice and treatment of suppliers by supermarkets.
So our salad comes from Spain, our veg is also sourced from Africa, and traditional English apples are overlooked in favour of foreign types. Even 80% of organic produce comes from abroad. These food miles actually have a detrimental effect on nutritional value since frozen veg contains more nutrients than fresh imported stuff that's sat countless hours in refrigerated containers.
Less than 2% of bread is made by independent bakers yet a few bake from scratch. The rest rely on the Chorleywood Bread Process (CBP) which involves fats, E numbers, salt and 3% more water taking considerably less time to make than the traditional flour, water, yeast recipe. However, skipping the proving time aggravates gluten allergies - that's how these allergies came about.
Fruit & Veg
'The beauty parade' that disqualifies mildly discoloured or misshapen fruit and veg has led to 40% waste and harvesting earlier and earlier to prevent bruising giving you hard, odourless and tasteless results.
'Each cow may produce twice as many litres of milk a year, each chicken may grow twice as fast, and each hectare of wheat may yield nearly three times as many tonnes as fifty years ago, but in that time, 60 per cent of ancient woodlands, 97 per cent of meadows with their rich flora and fauna, and fifty per cent of birds that depend on agricultural fields have gone, as have nearly 200,000 hedges. Not only has intensive farming polluted water courses, it has also created problems of soil erosion and flood. Industrialization of livestock has left animals prone to devastating epidemics of disease.'
The evils of ready meals and junk food containing corn, sugar, soya, palm and rapeseed oil which are heavily subsidized, are also extolled, though I've all ready been educated on this via Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.
Lawrence, in the Afterword, details ways to improve our food system and future security with policy suggestions and by providing resources for the individual to make an impact, enhancing their health in the process. She also confesses where and what she buys including the occasional ready meal. I find I'm jealous of all the independents like butchers, greengrocers, baker, etc. and farmers' markets located near her. I'd have to travel many miles to find these.
Although I was aware of the enormous pressure on UK farmers and suppliers I didn't fully appreciate the abuse they've suffered at the hands of supermarkets and the need to cut corners in order to survive, yielding a host of further problems including hiring illegal migrant workers who are in turn abused by their gangmasters, and having to import food when they can't meet demand. Fast, cheap food has never been so expensive, not more so when the system inevitably collapses....more
Ever temporarily lost your parents as a child? Or vice versa? Then this might give you an unexpected emotional response. Fear and relief overcame me fEver temporarily lost your parents as a child? Or vice versa? Then this might give you an unexpected emotional response. Fear and relief overcame me from a childhood memory upon seeing the reunited scene - a tearful, open-armed mother with her wide-eyed child running full-speed towards her shouting, "Yes! Yes! Here she is! Here's my mummy." Aww. I can feel the love.
And I can relate to falling out of bed; I did that regularly as a child as well, except I never woke up until morning, in bed and oblivious to my nightly tumbles, my parents having tucked me back in, in the night.
A gorgeous, intensely colourful and sweet picture book....more
The cosy, old school hand-painted illustration of a book-cluttered hall in karen's review together with the title The Library enticed me to grab this,The cosy, old school hand-painted illustration of a book-cluttered hall in karen's review together with the title The Library enticed me to grab this, appropriately, from my local library. I'm so glad I did!
Yes, I'll grudgingly admit I'm not a child anymore, but I'm well aware of these new soulless block-colour, crisp-lined, computer-generated illustrations which frankly offend my senses, that seeing something lovingly created the old fashioned way warms my heart and fills me with child-like glee. I sound ancient with my When I was young..., I'm really not, though. Unless you think being in your twenties, old.
In simple rhyming rhythm the story is told of every seriously obsessive bibliophile [put your hand up if you are one - *waves*] named Elizabeth Brown. From birth it seems she loved books, and I mean loved them, as in addicted to buying them, storing them in every place she can, and reading every minute she can spare throughout every stage of her life.
The ending, I won't spoil it, in 1995 could be quite different now with the advent and popularity of e-readers, which is a shame. But it reminds me of the pledge made by Lionel Shriver in the adult essay compilation of a similar name, The Library Book.
There are more words in this review than there are in the book. You know what? I enjoyed this so much I. must. buy. it. Don't tell anyone, will you? I all ready have overflowing bookshelves myself, despite the Kindle by my bed.
Perhaps I should make a pledge of my very own. :D...more
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....more
I came across this stunning book cover while browsing my library's new orders so I reserved it. A thrilling first chapter reminded m80/499 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....more
"It's ironic," Jed said again, "that if you want to be stronger, the first thing you have to learn is how to let yourself be weak."
This is the theme"It's ironic," Jed said again, "that if you want to be stronger, the first thing you have to learn is how to let yourself be weak."
This is the theme of Taken by Storm. Overcoming your weaknesses by mastering them. Taking control. Bryn suffers through her fears, the pain and grief of loss, and quickly adjusts to rise above it in time to take revenge. It isn't as sweet or as lengthy as I was hoping for but it achieved the much hoped for results.
Having never warmed up to him, I was ecstatic to learn Barnes had the cojones to kill off a particular character(view spoiler)[-Chase, Bryn's mate (hide spoiler)]. He was given little page time and lacked a personality. All he was, was Bryn -protecting her, ensuring her safety, etc. She was his whole world so giving his life up for her made perfect sense.
My only criticism: old enemies do not die. As a plot device, I hate this. I hate it a lot. It's something that tarnished Caine's Morganville Vampires series for me, having the same villain come back again and again. Each time you think he's gone for good, and nope he's back, still causing trouble. If you kill the villain, let him rest in pieces. Don't resurrect him, only to annoy us again. Please.
The writing is great but because of the slow nature of the prior installment Trial by Wolves and my general dislike for it, I skimmed, so I have no idea if the pace was slow or not. I'd actually given up on this series before hearing of a certain character's death, which intrigued me enough to reserve this at the library, and now I can't wait to meet Werewolf Bryn. Broken Bryn. Her world has been shattered and remade. I hope she can carry out Sora's request and at least maintain an amicable relationship with Callum. After all, what he did kept her alive and changed the power dynamics in their favor, even though it cost the lives of those close to her. She may forgive, but she will not forget. That's the important thing.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
It's okay to rape your husband. (Source: Chapter 18 onwards.)
Up until this chapter The Duke and I was on the road to four stars. Four and not five becIt's okay to rape your husband. (Source: Chapter 18 onwards.)
Up until this chapter The Duke and I was on the road to four stars. Four and not five because of:
➜ Anthony's behaviour after witnessing his friend's mouth on his sister's chest in the garden of a house party, challenging his FRIEND to a duel after Simon refused to marry Daphne on the grounds it would make her unhappy because he couldn't give her what she'd always wanted i.e. children and therefore happiness. If Simon really was a friend, Anthony would've asked more questions about the why and been more tenacious in getting an accurate answer instead of jumping into a duel where he'd be forced to kill his friend;
➜ The following duel scene the next morning when Daphne outright lies to Simon about others, besides Anthony, witnessing their intimate act to prevent Simon from being killed in the duel and to force him to marry her, followed by Simon omitting the fact he won't have children and instead says he 'can't' have them so he doesn't have to tell her his very personal reason why.
I swallowed these things hoping it would come out later and they'd forgive each other in the end.
What I was not expecting was Daphne's grotesque arrogance and selfishness in taking advantage of her drunk husband after she found out the truth, denying him sex and companionship, and not allowing him to pull out during sex so she could have the children she'd always wanted. They'd been MARRIED TWO WEEKS, there was plenty of time to discuss his problems, his worries, about even contemplating children and instead she takes the choice from him against his will as he struggles with her once he realises her intentions.
After what Simon's father did to him Daphne's behaviour is even worse because she knew about Simon's stuttering and his father's abandonment of Simon because of this. And then two months after Simon leaves her he finds he misses her and he CAN'T REMEMBER WHY HE LEFT IN THE FIRST PLACE, thereby excusing any wrongdoing on her part. But not only that, Daphne sends her angry brother after Simon without telling him she was the reason Simon left and not Simon himself.
So, four stars to one. If the gender roles had been reversed I'd expect more people would've been outraged at the rape. Completely ruined a perfectly good book, and my first, and possibly the last, by Julia Quinn....more