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 s...moreA 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.(less)
Chicken soup for the soul. The Grinch himself would be hard-pressed not to empathise with Ivan's story. With a gorgeous cover and a heartbreaking memo...moreChicken soup for the soul. The Grinch himself would be hard-pressed not to empathise with Ivan's story. With a gorgeous cover and a heartbreaking memoir of a lonely, caged gorilla living among other mistreated "circus" animals, delivered via emotionally-charged and insightful writing, Ms. Applegate forced tears from this stoic, 25-year-old pessimist.
I am Ivan. I am a gorilla.
It's not as easy as it looks.
People call me the Freeway Gorilla. The Ape at Exit 8. The One and Only Ivan, Mighty Silverback.
The names are mine, but they're not me. I am Ivan, just Ivan, only Ivan.
Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot.'
By reading The One and Only Ivan we walk a few miles in Ivan's shoes, so to speak. His wistful words touch your heart. His friend, Stella the elephant, twists your soul with her story and sentiments. Ruby, the baby elephant, you're desperate to save from Stella's fate. My arms ached with wanting to hug these (obviously wild and dangerous) creatures.
'Every night, when the stores close and the moon washes the world with milky light, Stella and I talk.
We don't have much in common, but we have enough. We are huge and alone, and we both love yogurt raisins.
Sometimes Stella tells stories of her childhood, of leafy canopies hidden by mist and the busy songs of flowing water. Unlike me, she recalls every detail of her past.'
The graceful language is simple and concise yet colourfully illuminating. No words are wasted. The author implies rather than tells, allowing readers to draw our own conclusions. The lovely illustrations are sparse but functional. I knew early on this would be a five star re-read. Ivan's philisophical observations, his acceptance of his circumstances, his stubborn desire to never remember his wild and free childhood before he was captured, his all-consuming, engrossing characterisation, and the way he changes to become the silverback he's always wanted to be, like his father, when he meets Ruby -make this a page-turner.
'I am never angry.
Anger is precious. A silverback uses anger to maintain order and warn his troop of danger. When my father beat his chest, it was to say, Beware, listen, I am in charge. I am angry to protect you, because that is what I was born to do.
Here in my domain, there is no one to protect.'
At page 72, my heart clenched and my eyes misted over with the introduction of baby Ruby, her distress and Stella's comfort...I'm tearing up just thinking about it. Ruby's a curious innocent you want to protect, and Ivan and Stella do their best.
This story is loosely based on a real gorilla called Ivan, and other elements of it are real too. I've come away thinking the human race are scum that should be exterminated to allow all animals to live natural, peaceful lives without fear of human murderers and torturers. Me, the meat-eating non-pacifist. I suddenly feel the need to contribute to an animal welfare charity. That's probably the message working its magic on me.
I highly recommend this captivating book to everyone over the age of 12, because the beginning is full of the depressing reality of cruelty to animals despite the sweet and somewhat predictable happy-ever-after ending. Even those with hearts made of ice can't fail to melt whilst reading this.
I'm torn. There are some brilliant aspects to this book but it was dreadfully slow. I dragged myself through because after figuring out the Meet Joe B...moreI'm torn. There are some brilliant aspects to this book but it was dreadfully slow. I dragged myself through because after figuring out the Meet Joe Black angle I was curious to know if it would end the same way. It didn't. Actually, it took an unexpected yet not unwelcome turn that may not be liked by the masses.
Abbey is excellently portrayed. Her predicament: the ever-present crushing guilt over her mother's death, the growing distance between her and her father, and her misplaced obsession with Nate (the jock who has an obsession of his own with mountain climbing) resulting from her inability to deal with her guilt, wallowing in it instead of moving on with her life. So she imagines this fictitious romantic relationship with him to help her deal with reality. It comforts her. Yes, it's sort of creepy. She was one step away from becoming a full-on stalker but I understood her crush and empathised.
Her only company was her best friend Tanner but she hadn't revealed much about her mother's death and how she felt about it to him. He had his own hang-ups. He'd also been in a tragic accident but he hadn't been so lucky; he was paralysed from the waist down and in a wheelchair. I enjoyed reading Tanner's POV, witnessing how he was treated by others, how his relationships had suffered and the difference in how Abbey treats him. Without pity. She understands how it is for him without even asking.
'Being loners might have drawn us together out of necessity, but it was our friendship that had made us strong enough to come out the other side.'
The story is all about Abbey's transition. Realising that she's tired of being unhappy, of pretending, lying and hiding. She wants to live. It's a great message and I liked the method in which it was conveyed, reminiscent of Riders of the Apocalypse. Love, and the selfish versus the altruistic needs, wants and decisions we make based on that love were also expertly demonstrated. FYI, love's a bitch.
"Dealing with guilt and grief doesn't leave much room for anything else. I know about that dark stuff, but one day if you're really lucky, you get tired of feeling bad all the time. It's like a curtain opens and light comes in. First, it's only a sliver. Then more."
However, it's not all smooth sailing. Besides being slow I really struggled to remain interested whenever we joined Nate's dangerous climb up the mountain. Since seeing Cliffhanger as a child I never even contemplated doing something so unnecessarily hazardous. Rescue teams must love those guys. Anyway, when the Angel of Death does his Joe Black thing to Nate I cringed at his interactions with Abbey. Perhaps it was realistic given her crush but the way she sort of accepted not-Nate's behaviour was uncomfortable to read. I wanted her to push harder when she called him on it, which would've sped up proceedings.
Death had been dealt a bum hand, poor guy. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. As powerful as he was he couldn't control everything and he wasn't perfect. He made mistakes. The mythology surrounding Death was intriguing. He's sort of a swallower of souls, holding them inside him for safe-keeping until the day he's the last one to die. But each soul changes him, for better or worse and this is what prompts him to make contact with Abbey. The ravens were a nice touch -suitably eerie.
As for the romance, well this is tricky. How much to say? There are three potential boyfriends, I guess. One from Abbey's past, her present and future. And the most obvious is not the guy Abbey chooses, and I'm glad of this. Some might not be pleased but just this one aspect makes On a Dark Wing unique, for multiple reasons. The resolution at end was well done. I can definitely see people reacting in that manner to such an extraordinary situation although the lead-up to the climax was a little ludicrous.
Would I recommend this to anyone? Well, I didn't hate this book and I wouldn't dissuade anyone from reading it. In fact, I might warn them it's slow but I'd encourage them to read to the end because I think the effort just might be worth it.
***Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with this ebook.***(less)
A sweet story, a good plot and a breeze to read however, the world isn't quite detailed enough and the romance lacks chemistry; the characters just so...moreA sweet story, a good plot and a breeze to read however, the world isn't quite detailed enough and the romance lacks chemistry; the characters just sort of fell into a relationship without any of the excitement of the first flush of love. I didn't feel many strong emotions while reading, don't get me wrong, it's a decent, cute story but it's not I-must-read-this-now gripping nor is the world and its cultures vividly described; few differences are noted and my senses didn't ache to experience any of the towns, cities or countries Sydelle (I love her name btw, Sydelle Mirabil) visited. I was also surprised to learn that this appears to be a stand alone, a good thing usually, but since not quite everything is resolved and others were a little too easily wrapped up, I hoped for more.
Favourite Quotes This one reminds me of Mulan.
"You know, lad," Owain said, snapping the reins, "finding girls as brave as dragons and sweet as flowers ain't so easy anymore. I thought Vesta [his horse, LOL!] was the last of them. Clever, generous-" "Stubborn, frustrating," North finished. "Ah, then, a perfect match," Owain laughed. "She's the only one I've ever seen kick that sorry bottom of yours straight. Promise me you're not going to let her slip away."
“I don’t do well without you,” North said. “Who I was before – I never want to be that person again. But I told you when I took you away from here that when everything was over, it would be your choice. You would get to choose where you wanted to go and who you wanted to be.” There was a pleading look in his eyes. In that moment, he looked as if I had stripped him of his cloak and magic. I could knock him back into that darkness with a single blow.
The short length of The Panther's Lair impeded my enjoyment of this story. There wasn't enough time for the characters to properly fall for one anothe...moreThe short length of The Panther's Lair impeded my enjoyment of this story. There wasn't enough time for the characters to properly fall for one another and read as "love at first sight" which I'm not a real fan of. Also the plot involving the ex would have gone a lot smoother if the book had been longer. Other than that the writing was good and humorous in places. If you're a fan of Moira Rogers or Shelly Laurenston then you might enjoy this.(less)
The Sevenfold Spell is an original but very adult take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. It may seem a bit confusing at first but everything is expla...moreThe Sevenfold Spell is an original but very adult take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. It may seem a bit confusing at first but everything is explained and revealed as you go. Although this is a "re-telling" it still fits within the constraints of what makes a "fairy tale". This is not a novel or a full length story so please don't judge it as one.
I will warn that this book contains a lot of sex but it doesn't diminish the story. It's part of the tragedy that is Talia's life. I couldn't help but think of her as the Ugly Duckling even though this wasn't based on that story. I constantly felt sympathy for her situation and her loneliness. I'm pleased to say that this book was as good as it's beautiful cover. I loved the twists on the original story and the way the tale ends with the usual but much deserved happily ever after.(less)
Lillie is a bitter woman used and abused by her husband and considered an outcaste by society which finds itself needing her to help with the increase...moreLillie is a bitter woman used and abused by her husband and considered an outcaste by society which finds itself needing her to help with the increase in ghostly activity which sometimes poses a risk to the living. When her husband dies in a car accident and his corpse comes back to kill her, somehow she's implicated in his death and has to find a way to exonerate herself as well as dodging further attempts on her life.
Lillie's bitterness colours her perspective. Her terrible experiences with her husband has her seeing men in a negative light. She's also incredibly suspicious of Thresher's interest in her because of her outcaste status as a Talent. Everyone avoids her except those that see her as a trophy lay, a walk on the wild side. And now that she's a widow she's even more attractive because we all know widows are in need of physical touch. She was a likeable character in need of a real friend that isn't afraid of her and can accept her as she is. Thresher seemed to fit the bill though I would've liked to have seen more of him.
In some ways, the Talents are similar to the Animators in Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series. Both are capable of raising zombies although the opinions on this by the main characters from each series as well as the laws governing them are completely different.
Overall, I liked the plot and was surprised by the tense and scary, well-written showdown which I loved but as a woman also found quite unnerving. I also loved the gentle ending with Lillie and Thresher.
However, the beginning was undefined. I wasn't sure where the beginning was in fact and there was an information overload in an attempt at world-building which if I hadn't been intending to review this book I would've given up quite early on. Perhaps if there was a prologue or something, it would've been easier to take in all the facts. The writing was shaky to begin with but gradually improved. With some editing this could easily be a four-star read.(less)
Waterboarding babies. Shit. I’m not a parent but in that moment I doubt a person could feel anything but a strong urge to protect and defend. Highly d...moreWaterboarding babies. Shit. I’m not a parent but in that moment I doubt a person could feel anything but a strong urge to protect and defend. Highly disturbing. I was reminded of Milgram’s experiment on obedience to authority figures and the Stanford prison experiment, both very famous psychological studies about the pressures of conforming to a specific role, whether dominant or submissive and highlights the extraordinary strength it takes to break away from it. If the mother of that baby refused to obey by not drowning her baby in ice-filled water, the consequences could’ve been dire.
In the minds of those living in the compound there's this life and nothing else. They refuse to believe that life outside could be any better than the life they’re living now, even when that means torturing and killing your own children or handing them over to paedophiles and rapists. Frustrating, but then they've been indoctrinated from birth, raised not to question the order of things and are told to believe everything is "God's Will".
Very few are strong enough to refuse to continue with the farce that rewards a handful of old lecherous men and condemns everyone else, especially the young and defenceless. If you rebel, you'll be lucky to receive a quick death, if you’re really lucky you get married off to a nice man with only a couple of wives, and if the universe is smiling down on you and the planets are in alignment you might escape with your life and live to breathe another day only to look over your shoulder for the rest of your days.
I’ve noticed that in some of the negative reviews of this book people expected or wanted a realistic depiction of polygamy and that’s not what this is about. The Chosen One reflects the sensational, the newscaster’s dream: the paedophile cultists e.g. Warren Jeffs, sociopathic religious extremists who warp the media’s perception of this way of life so people wrongly come to automatically associate the word “paedophile” with “polygamy”.
Polygamy is not inextricably linked with religion and paedophilia, it is simply, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "the practice or custom of having more than one wife or husband at the same time." That is all.
If you want a more modern and realistic view of polygamy then this isn’t for you, watch HBO's “Big Love” instead.
Despite this, the book does bring up some important positive and negative points concerning polygamy, for example, more caregivers to bring up the children, sharing a husband can lead to tension and jealousy, etc.
Also, the choice of not using any form of contraception lead to Kyra's 3 mothers having had 19 children, meaning that each child has less one-to-one time with a caregiver and everyone having little-to-no alone time, with the older children forced to act as parents themselves. (On a personal note, I find having so many children incredibly selfish and irresponsible in this day and age where infant mortality is now quite low.) Add to this the overcrowding as each mother has one small, decrepit trailer to house their growing number of offspring. Unless of course their husband happens to be an elevated elder or an Apostle or the Prophet, in which case they'll have a luxurious mansion.
I did, however, wonder how everyone’s fed, clothed and sheltered. Where did the money come from? Who was footing the bill for the land devoid of condoms, and therefore an ever increasing population? They do keep costs down by leading rustic and prudish lifestyles with few mod-cons by making their own clothes, growing their own food, etc. but that only goes so far, at some point you've got to spend some money. For example, the trip to town to buy fabric and afterwards having lunch in a restaurant.
This book covers a number of distasteful topics which some readers may want to avoid:
Forced marriage, Paedophilia and Rape, of unwilling wives. (Forced marriage is illegal in the UK whether the marriage is to take place here or abroad, the law protects the victim no matter their age.)
Blackmail, of those who disobey or their relatives. Husbands can be forced to leave the compound and have their wives and children given to other men who are encouraged to treat them like shit.
Beatings, as a means of control and punishment.
Murder, of runaways, those that attempt to rescue anyone on the compound, those who disobey, and of disabled babies -very Spartan of them.
Incest, not a routine part of the compound. It seems it's more to satisfy Kyra's 60 year old uncle's lust for her 13-year-old body.
One of my favourite parts of this book was Joshua's admission to wanting Kyra and only Kyra for his wife. How romantic is that? Aww.
My rating is 3.5 stars because although we were given a look into what life might be like for those oppressed and used in the cults that make the headlines the writing wasn't as emotive as I would expect it to be apart for the baby torture. This book had the potential to bring me to tears but it didn't quite do it even with the desperate way it ended.(less)
To all those that are ignorant of or don't care for their own safety: READ THIS BOOK!
Surprisingly this is a teenage book, and I can see why. Descripti...moreTo all those that are ignorant of or don't care for their own safety: READ THIS BOOK!
Surprisingly this is a teenage book, and I can see why. Descriptions are well...not descriptive, everything is left to the imagination. Acts are implied but not described in any detail. I expect teens these days will understand this book but I also feel it's a warning to them that paedophiles come in all shapes and sizes, that you'll never know who can be one. You may think that weird old guy across the street is one but really it could be anyone: young, old, fat, thin, gorgeous or ugly. Male or female. And their hook to reel you in could be anything, not just the cliched sweets/candy or puppies.
Perhaps I've watched too much 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit' because what shocked others didn't shock me. Of course, I raised an eyebrow or two here and there (I am still human after all) but what struck me the most was 1) the social commentary, 2) the psychology of the broken spirit, and 3) the psychopathy of the paedophile/kidnapper/murderer.
The author brings attention to society's perception of the victims of abuse and of the way people will ignore the signs (claiming they're minding their own business) while spouting things like "Why didn't you say something? That's all it would've taken for someone to help you." Sort of a mixed message there if only certain people will be willing to take notice and then take action on your behalf. To help and not hinder.
Alice2.0's thoughts and behaviours were shockingly real. That she would abuse/groom others, even young children, if it meant it would lessen her pain was completely understandable. Yes, it's despicable but in that situation can you honestly claim that you'd do any different?
Overall, this is a horrific but thought-provoking tale of tragedy that acts as a warning to those that are unaware of the risks they take with their own safety and a reminder to watch out for others'.(less)
Beastly is a modern teenage version of Disney's Beauty and the Beast told from the Beast's point of view. This tale is of Kyle who pre-transformation...moreBeastly is a modern teenage version of Disney's Beauty and the Beast told from the Beast's point of view. This tale is of Kyle who pre-transformation was a shallow, popular and very mean 16 year old and his growth afterwards as Adrian the Beast.
As the Beast he goes into deep philosophical thought over the meaning of beauty and truth, and finally learns to appreciate the simple things in life that he formerly took for granted. He becomes thoughtful and caring when he realises that he needs those around him, giving them the respect they deserve but also looks back at the person he was and the people he once chose to spend time with, deciding they never were his friends.
He uncovers the true people behind their online personnas which is a lesson to everyone especially the YA audience this is aimed at, that the nice 18 year old you met online could easily be a 12 year old school girl, a thirty year old cop or even a 50 year old man!
I love the cold reality of this book. The desperation of Kyle/Adrian's situation is fully realised when his thoughts turn to very dark possibilities. His father's selfishness and utter abandonment of his son even before his transformation and Lindy's father's drug habit and the lengths he goes to, to feed it are all very realistic.
After all my praise you're probably wondering what the reason is behind my two-star rating, which would be Adrian's developing love for Lindy. I didn't believe it. They seemed more like friends. I couldn't believe that their love would be enduring. After a gritty beginning, Adrian suddenly became very sappy and using the corny language from Lindy's favourite books. Considering that the relationship is a big part of this fairy tale, I found it lacking and extremely disappointing.(less)