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
Vampire tales of loneliness, revenge and what love means.
Frater's superb characterization continues to thrill me, though now I''Life: thick and red.'
Vampire tales of loneliness, revenge and what love means.
Frater's superb characterization continues to thrill me, though now I'm a little scared of how she's able to so exquisitely bury inside the hearts and minds of vile predators and abusers and paint them in all their terrible glory. It's not often that stories are told from the villain's perspective, especially ones that I actually appreciate, but these I did.
Part I: The Ache of Loneliness
★★☆☆☆ The Whisper An introductory story of a night-loving mortal woman coming upon a male vampire.
★★★☆☆ The Two Mothers Before you think it, there are no lesbians here! A vampire woman longs for a child, spots one suffering from leukemia out walking with a mother willing to sacrifice everything for her love of him, including her life. I found it interesting how the mother was willing to share her child with another and let him call her "mama".
Part II: The Revenge of the Vampires I love a good "revengeance" and Frater delivers in spades. This quote explains this section perfectly:
"When a woman says no, it's really best to leave her alone. You just never know who you are fucking with."
★★★★☆ The Predator
'She was undermining him. He was so frustrated, when he lay in his bed during the day trying to sleep, he would fantasize about taking her forcibly right there at work. He could feel his hands closing over her neck, pushing her back onto a copier as she cried out in terror. Sometimes, that was his only solace when she ignored him. No matter what happened, he would always conquer her in his dreams.'
★★★★★ Vengeance Sitting in a chair with a gun is an old man waiting for his annual visit from the wife he vilely abused. Every year she beats him to within an inch of his life for his awful violence towards her (rape and beatings), her children (the girl he molested, the male he rendered infertile) and the full-term unborn child he killed. By far my favourite story of the collection.
Part III: The Inner Sanctum Trilogy
★★☆☆☆ The Aspect of Her Eyes A male vampire speaking of his love and admiration for his wife to his female progeny while watching said wife hunt their next meal.
★★★★☆ The Memoirs of Moniki Memoirs of a 5-to-7 year old girl neglected and abused by her alcoholic father in the 1930s. Helped by a genetically-engineered rat created by the Nazis and rescued by the female vampire admired in the previous story. Contrasting the abuse Moniki received by her biological father and the endearing love by her new vampire parents was interesting, though I'm not sure the girl's loving grandmother would approve of her new life even though she's now safe and happy since they probably qualify as 'the devil' she feared.
★★★☆☆ Blood and Love Our vampire couple showcase their enduring and all-consuming love for one another, paling in comparison to human love. ...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
Fast-paced, compelling and deliciously gory, BUT deus ex machina, predictability, repetitiveness, and lovey-dovey mushiness brought The Eternity CureFast-paced, compelling and deliciously gory, BUT deus ex machina, predictability, repetitiveness, and lovey-dovey mushiness brought The Eternity Cure down. Honestly, Jackal is the main reason my rating isn't lower.
Jackal is akin to Damon Salvatore of The Vampire Diaries in that their pragmatism takes priority over their humanity "when he suspects he is on the losing end of a bargain" and their annoying yet charming personalities add a comedic element to proceedings; it's never dull when they're around. And yes, despite being a self-serving antogonist with flexible morals, I really like Jackal. If he'd dispense with his need to raise his own vampire army and evilly rule over the humans, I think he'd make an appropriate suitor for Allie. He certainly isn't afraid to call her on her bullshit:
"And I'm getting a little tired of your holier-than-thou act, sister. You're not a saint. You're a demon. Own up to it."
Elena's Allie's repetitive mantra about keeping her humanity, leashing Kanin's homicidal instincts and heeding Zeke's warnings grew tiresome. Zeke, in spite of being tougher than he was in The Immortal Rules and able to kill if he has to, he's still a bleeding heart. Sometimes the only logical answer is to kill. (view spoiler)[Stick should've been killed. Pathetic though he is, he's too much of a danger to remain alive. (hide spoiler)]
The evolving romantic relationship between Allie and Zeke is admittedly standard illogical paranormal YA fare:
'Maybe I was being naive. Maybe I was being deliberately blind. Most likely I was being incredibly stupid and endangering his life.'
Obviously I completely understand why Allie wants to hold on to Zeke: his humanity keeps hers in line and he fully accepts her for who and what she is, but not only that, finding someone with similar inclinations among the vampire population may prove difficult because vamps like Kanin seem to be an exception rather than the rule.
'I was just aware of one thing: I could not lose him. Zeke had seen the monster at its worst and was still here. He dared to get close to the demon, knowing it still Hungered for him, craved his blood and his life, and he wasn't afraid. For the rest of my existence, if I lived to see the end of this world, there would never be another Ezekiel Crosse.'
Perhaps this says more about Zeke than Allie. By cosying up to his natural predator he puts himself in the running for a Darwin Award, i.e. it's an incredibly stupid thing to do. Anyway, their alone time is cringe-worthy rather than sweet and romantic. This is definitely something that the author has to work on.
Deus ex machina: Three characters in peril(view spoiler)[: Kanin, Zeke and Jackal (hide spoiler)] had me admiring Kagawa's big brass balls to kill off one or all of these characters ... until they're all miraculously saved (view spoiler)[by Eden's experiments on Zeke saving both him and Kanin, and Sarran's uninfected blood stash for Kanin's crippling hole through the stomach (hide spoiler)]. Compared to the debut, The Eternity Cure is all bark and no bite which is rather disappointing.
And the end, I saw that coming miles away. I'm not sure if I've just inferred this but I'm pretty sure (view spoiler)[Zeke's a vamp now. After all of the talk of his remaining human and he should have a choice etc., it was inevitable (hide spoiler)]. This, if true, will make Book 3 interesting, though I expect a Stefan-like (The Vampire Diaries) split-personality response.
Despite my dissatisfaction with the final scenes, I look forward to seeing more of Jackal and Eden and its inhabitants as they respond to Sarren's threat.
*My thanks to Harlequin for the eArc in return for an honest review.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...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
I'm glad I read this after Scarlet as it details Wolf's origin story - becoming a genetically modified soldier at age 12, brutally graduating to AlphaI'm glad I read this after Scarlet as it details Wolf's origin story - becoming a genetically modified soldier at age 12, brutally graduating to Alpha of his pack 5 years later - all before he meets Little Red Riding Hood aka Scarlet. Sadly, he had to become the thing he wanted to avoid - an animal - in order to prevent being physically transformed into one.
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
I'm so sorry for laughing and judging you based on how I believed you'd died. Living with Hirschsprung's disease had to be awful, aDear Elvis Presley,
I'm so sorry for laughing and judging you based on how I believed you'd died. Living with Hirschsprung's disease had to be awful, always worrying, always in discomfort. People assuming you were fat when the distended abdomen was a sign you were seriously ill.
Begging your forgiveness,
At autopsy, his colon was "two to three times normal size ... was jam-packed [length-wise]... The impaction had the consistency of clay and seemed to defy Florendo's efforts with the scissors to cut it out." The clayey material, he says, was barium, administered to prep Presley for a set of X-rays - taken four months earlier. "That barium was... Just like a rock." He says the impaction obstructed at least 50 to 60 percent of the diameter of Presley's colon ... [It] had expanded so dramatically [at the end of his career] that it crowded his diaphragm and had begun to compromise his breathing and singing.' Soiling himself on stage happened regularly, he had no control whatsoever because of the disease. 'The resulting arrhythmia [from straining to make a bowel movement] can be fatal ... especially likely to happen to someone, like Elvis, with a compromised heart.' It's a common cause of death but wasn't well-known or understood at the time of Presley's death.
'Stool softeners are administered as a matter of course on coronary-care wards.'
Nasal regurgitation. Fistulated stomachs. Rectal feeding. Holy water enemas. Mythbusting Mary Roach concentrates on the strange, the unethical, and the downright funny aspects of the alimentary canal.
I've learned many things:
✺ Eat more liver. Organs are the most nutritious parts of an animal. ✺ Never take alka seltzer / bicarbonate of soda / baking soda after eating too much. ✺ Never light a match or breathe without apparatus near a manure pit. ✺ Never punch someone in the mouth unless I'm willing to lose a finger. ✺ Anal cancer exists and is contracted the same way as cervical cancer. ✺ A human cannot survive being swallowed by a large fish. Jonah lied. ✺ Fire-breathing dragons snakes are possible under the right conditions. ✺'Humans perceive five tastes - sweet, bitter, salty, sour, and umami (brothy) - and an almost infinite number of smells. Eighty to ninety percent of the sensory experience is olfaction [smell]. ✺ Never take the ability to smell, taste, or swallow for granted. ✺ 'brachioproctic eroticism' = 'fist-fucking' ✺ To respect the "prison wallet" (rectum). When I need to go, I'm going. I don't want to be constipated. ✺ Never insert an object rectally unless I'm will to lose it up in there.
Well, Roach has covered the three basics of animal biology: feeding, sex, and death. Her witty approach to her subject matter helps the medicine go down, as it were. She makes learning fun by breaking things down into easily digestible bites (puns intended), though there are a few less interesting bits. I wonder what she'll cover next.
*Many thanks to the publisher for the e-ARC in return for an honest review....more
Wolf seduced me. I freely admit it. I love shifter romances, and although he's not strictly a shifter, Wolf does possess wolf DNA. His personality andWolf seduced me. I freely admit it. I love shifter romances, and although he's not strictly a shifter, Wolf does possess wolf DNA. His personality and romance held all the yumminess required to have me falling head over heels. I didn't care that he and Scarlet technically spent mere hours in each other's company, and this is brought up many times, but they are quality hours. Wolf's behaviour spoke volumes.
My preference for Thorne over Kai is going to bite me in the arse. I'm definitely setting myself up for a fall there. Yeah, Thorne's firmly entrenched as Cinder's sidekick stuck in the friend zone, and he was slow to pick up on clues, but he's a relaxed guy (aren't all good thieves?) taking everything in his stride until the shit hits the fan. He's incredibly loyal, lively, funny and non-judgmental. Cinder's cyborgness didn't faze him, he was curious more than anything - contrasting with the general public's hatred, Cinder's stepmother leading by example.
Kai pales in comparison to Thorne, and he no longer interests me after his initial disgust upon finding out very publicly Cinder's lunar and cyborg status, and despite knowing he had no time to process the shock and ask himself whether it mattered when he took his feelings into account, his immediate reaction was off-putting. The “I don’t see that her being cyborg is relevant” comment came a bit late for me. I can't help but feel Cinder deserves better.
The humans and the lunars are the monsters here. Cyborgs, robots (I love Iko!) and the 'wolves' are the victims and act (or have the potential to act) with more humanity, dignity and grace than their creators.
Levana's left herself deeply vulnerable by genetically engineering Lunars, turning them into 'wolves'. Dispatching Wolf's unit leaves them free for Cinder to use - a dangerous thing to do. You want to deprive your enemy of resources instead of handing them over on a silver platter.
Meyer might be biting off more than she can chew by using multiple POVs because it's going to require exceptional skill to handle and choreograph the 5+ POVs in the following books (Scarlet, Cinder, Wolf, Kai, Levana in addition to new characters). However, Meyer's managed to reel me in after an almost mediocre reaction to the debut with new intense relationships sparking with chemistry, camaraderie and humorous dialogue, not forgetting the torturous emotional turmoil and distinct characters bursting with personality. Scarlet could've easily been reduced to a crappy filler book without these things because on the face of it, plot-wise, not much progression has been made, though I don't feel I've wasted my time - that's a job well done.
Critically, the Mystery bookends: murder at opening, closed at ending. Nothing in between. However, Harris's thoroughly great characterisation of LilyCritically, the Mystery bookends: murder at opening, closed at ending. Nothing in between. However, Harris's thoroughly great characterisation of Lily Bard, artfully demonstrating the effects of a traumatic past - her bloody and brutal gang rape - on her present. How she was able to leave her family and move to a town where she could start afresh, no one knowing her history and treating her differently because of it. Her bravery, difficulties with PTSD, and her determination to never be found vulnerable to attack again by learning self-defense / martial arts. Dealing with the challenges in Shakespeare's Landlord made me respect Lily as a person and as a survivor of horrific circumstances that most would struggle to overcome in order to return to some semblance of normality.
That being said, I don't think I'll be continuing with this series as I've read a few reviews and found there's a love triangle - I'm not going there, sorry....more
It took me by surprise how much I loved this classic and how eerily relevant and applicable it is considering today's politics, Britain's in particulaIt took me by surprise how much I loved this classic and how eerily relevant and applicable it is considering today's politics, Britain's in particular. The Arab Spring is also a good example of a modern day Animal Farm.
I highlighted this one to death. In pencil, of course. I'm not a barbarian....more
Dickens bores us readers to death by describing everything down to the smallest detail, leading me to DNF amid the third chapter at which point disturDickens bores us readers to death by describing everything down to the smallest detail, leading me to DNF amid the third chapter at which point disturbingly little had had taken place....more
This is propaganda, pure and simple. Designed by the parent of an only child to make herself feel better about her choice by collecting countless posiThis is propaganda, pure and simple. Designed by the parent of an only child to make herself feel better about her choice by collecting countless positive (quantitative) studies to dismiss the negative only-child (qualitative) experiences of Sandler's friends and other interviewees, while debunking supposed stereotypes and replacing them with reasons why everyone should do as the Chinese do: have only one child, and in the process, shaming those that have more. In the end, I feel this is a biased, self-congratulatory piece of questionable value, of which I learned nothing new.
Talking about only children right now is highly relevant. Today, there's a continuing trend of having fewer children and there's a rise of only children in developed countries. This is due to high childcare costs, women deciding to have children later, lower fertility rates, the global recession, and economic pressure on families to have two working parents. This topic is in need of discussion so we can figure out how to handle a changing (decreasing) population and work out the advantages or disadvantages of being an only child in the twenty-first century. Sadly, Sandler neglects the disadvantages.
The too briefly described research Sandler refers to is troublesome as she relies upon large scale studies, one of which had 13,000 participants, leading me to question how much time was spent with each person, how accurate the data is when individual circumstances tend to be overlooked, and whether the conclusions drawn could be trusted. Few quantifiable results are quoted by Sandler, yet over and over again we're told only children are more intelligent, but when it's revealed this status only adds one to three IQ points, that assertion no longer seems quite so certain when the difference is so minimal. Are the other positive differences she quoted also as minimal?
As far as I could tell, none of these overwhelmingly positive studies actually asked the participants how they felt about being an only child, and when the author quoted interviews and asked her only-child friends, unhappy negatives start rearing their ugly heads. Some of the stereotypes Sandler has been aggressively attempting to quash are truisms among them, though she quickly whips out another positive study or two to devalue those cases. Belittling these personal negative experiences and dismissing them with positive research is unforgiveable, no matter how positive her own experiences as an only child, it denotes a lack of respect for others in favour of her own agenda. Sandler neglected to criticise the studies in the same way, which I'd expect if she was evaluating all the research fairly. By taking all of the research into consideration, one could conclude that things like intelligence and self-confidence go up (quantitative studies) while happiness goes down (qualitative interviews).
Yes, not all only children are selfish, lonely, spoilt and maladjusted - but some are, there's no point in denying it. And yes, it's more environmentally friendly to have one, and it's glaringly obvious one child will receive more resources like more money, time, space and attention from their parents than having to share with siblings. And they will benefit from those things, although how and how much they benefit will differ according to individual circumstances. However, other factors such as socialising with and being able to relate to their peers is important because spending too much time with adults can alienate them from their peer group. I'd argue attending school isn't enough, as Sandler suggests it is, proximity and access to other children outside school hours is necessary, too. Activities outside the home and exercise are other factors to consider as I'd postulate that those who do these socialise more with a variety of people, rather than with just their parents.
On and on, Sandler repeatedly preaches her 'only children are more intelligent and prosperous' mantra, and cherry picks famous onlies and cites the 1979 Chinese One-Child policy for their recent economic improvement to back up her claims, which is more than a little reductive, if you ask me. Really, Sandler's subtitle should be, 'Why You Must Have an Only Child, and Why Being One Can Make You Smart and Successful'. However, upon closer inspection those famous people and Chinese case studies all had pushy parents who provided strict educational schedules for their children lasting from the minute they woke up to bedtime, thereby surpassing the norm for the average child whether they had siblings or not. Most Chinese can't afford more than one child anyway, but rather than just a wish for their child to have it better than themselves, I started to wonder if there was an air of competition between parents to make their child successful, or whether it was to improve their retirement as it's tradition to move in with their child and care for their grandchildren when they reach that age. There's also the enormous pressure on that single child to perform and succeed so they're able to provide for both their parents when the time comes. In any case, you could argue privilege gives these children opportunities to prosper because their parents have clearly invested a substantial amount of time and effort, regardless of finances, and are able to reap the rewards.
Full disclosure here, I'm an only child, and one with negative experiences. Sandler would hate me because I don't conform to her views. As one stereotype goes, I was late to walk and talk, but my reading level was years ahead of my peers. Early schooling taught me that being an only set me apart as teachers frequently asked us to talk or write about our siblings and pets - I had neither, and that made me feel like I had and experienced less than everyone else. Despite many children living on my street, they were all a year or more younger though I made the best of it, still experiencing loneliness on the dark, cold, rainy winter days, of which there are many in the UK. Unfortunately, when I was seven we moved 100 miles away to where no children lived near me. Cue more loneliness and a growing preference for the company of older children (usually by several years) and adults. I've never been comfortable with those of a similar age to myself; school was hell - I frequently truanted in my teens, and age 18 onwards my friends have been more than 10 years older than me. I'll also confess that I'm selfish, but only children can hardly claim the monopoly on that trait. And hey, I was spoilt as far as toys, clothes and my mother's attention were concerned. I was lucky.
When I think of others I've known who are onlies, most them also had negative experiences for a variety of reasons, but one thing was very clear: they fit into two types. Some were able to cope or be happy in their own company, and others weren't and would do anything to avoid it. Before reading, I had wondered if being an only child meant there was an increased likelihood of becoming an introvert, which would feed into Susan Cain's Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, and because of this I've been comparing the two books. They don't compare. Cain, despite being an introvert, manages to confer balance when discussing her subject matter by acknowledging both positives and negatives of being such, and Sandler as an only child fails in this. Her bias is so pronounced it's impossible to draw parallels when I can't trust her interpretations of her much vaunted sociological studies.
A monumentally bad first impression was made after reading the opening chapter. I should've gone with my instincts and discontinued reading then. That chapter was the most biased, one-sided diatribe against negative stereotypes associated with being an only child, never stopping to consider that there may be some truth to them for some or allow for other aspects that, in tandem with being an only child, could produce those stereotypes. Challenging myself to read on was a mistake, and I've struggled to finish. Currently stuck @ 41%.
Only children may find they know about most of what is discussed but could find parts of it insulting. Everyone else on the other hand, may find One and Only informative and helpful, or offensive and upsetting if they've chosen to have more than one child themselves.
*eARC provided by the publisher in return for an honest review....more
I never thought I'd ever 1-star anything JCP had written, and I feel bad for doing so now. I don't know what exactly happened, but I just can't believI never thought I'd ever 1-star anything JCP had written, and I feel bad for doing so now. I don't know what exactly happened, but I just can't believe the quality of this final instalment. I can only assume Price didn't quite know how to end the serial, in which I expected a big sci-fi reveal on the reason for Bermuda's turbulence and why Marlin killed himself. What we got didn't make much sense and was completely unsatisfactory. I hope one day Price revisits and rewrites the ending. ...more