Dangerous. This book is dangerous and disappointing. I can't tell you about the fury I felt at the very beginning of this book. The propaganda, mythsDangerous. This book is dangerous and disappointing. I can't tell you about the fury I felt at the very beginning of this book. The propaganda, myths and downright lies regarding the science of mental illness that only serve to misinform and hurt the vulnerable, those who live with these illnesses and their family and friends which is a good percentage of the population. Most will be affected by it at some point in their lives. And at this point you should know that my family has been touched by it and I've worked with people from the UK mental health charity, Mind.
In the Nature Vs. Nurture debate, on a scale, mental illness is overwhelmingly more about nurture and environment than genetics. If a group of people, like a family, are subjected to the same stressful environment then they're more likely to develop problems than one living a stress-free life. That has been proven.
The Glimpse's Big 3: schizophrenia, depression and anxiety - Most will personally experience a period of the latter two. Life is hard, that's a fact. You can't just permanently label someone as one of the Crazies for what could be an episode lasting only a few months and then going on to suffer no further problems. It doesn't work like that. Telling someone they're crazy could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy where they live up to their label and if one hadn't been issued in the first place that person may be otherwise perfectly healthy. The book picks up on this to some extent but it would depend on the perceptiveness of the reader to fully understand the ramifications.
Suffering a mental illness does not automatically mean you're a lost cause. A great many are functional members of society with the help of appropriate treatment and support but here the treatment is horrifying and only hinders and hurts the recipients and could put people off from seeking help themselves. The book states that 40% of the population is Active or "Crazy", a Sleeper (guaranteed to become Active) or a Carrier of the faulty genes responsible. No Pures ever become Crazy. In reality, there are no absolutes.
This is the world Ana has grown up in. To fear the Crazies outside of the walls of her Community of Pures until she's outed as a Sleeper and enters the filthy, neglected and chaotic City (London) and observes the truth for herself. It's only much, much later that she discovers the possibility the Crazy-Pure dynamic is a lie used as a form of social control which just so happens to benefit the evil profit-hungry pharmaceutical companies forcing drugs on healthy individuals and leaving them to self-destruct from the resulting side-effects. But there is far too much doubt regarding the validity of this conspiracy, and comes too little too late for disgusted, insulted and vulnerable readers who may have abandoned the book by now.
The problem is the propaganda spouted by the Pures is too eerily reminiscent of the way society judges mental illness today; with ignorance and contempt for the perceived weakness and potential danger they could pose to others and a need to ignore, dismiss and hide the sufferers away. Anything to distance themselves from the "afflicted". In effect, this book confuses the educational messages mental health charities try to instill in the public by reinforcing the negative and unhelpful perceptions of mental illness in a time of (hopefully lessening) ignorance on the subject. And that's something I can't ignore because this book is being marketed to an impressionable section of society: teenagers -tomorrow's adults. How will they treat this subject after reading The Glimpse?
My anger stayed with me throughout the book but it didn't stop me from acknowledging the vividly realistic future England of the year 2041, the state of global politics and the effects of our Global Depression, the Petrol Wars and the very different transport system, the housing crisis worsened by high repossession rates, the use of cash is outlawed -credit transactions only (big brother), the bankers earning their pitchforks along with their horns, having a personal online presence is mandatory e.g. blogs, the dismantling of the United Kingdom -becoming independent countries once again, the media monopolizing power of the BBC, and the downfall of the music industry and Tesco, etc. It's jam-packed with genius world-building tidbits.
Seventeen-year-old Ana's toxic relationship with her father also had a ring of truth to it. As a character, Ana had formidable strength in the face of an illogical, nay farcical, situation she finds herself in of being the only sane person regularly put under the microscope by none too sane so-called professionals (many of whom enjoy torturing their "patients" and who see everything as a sign of mental illness), unaware of the very pressure they're putting her under would crack the average person faster than you could blink. She's been forced to rein in all emotion, remain composed at all times and conditioned to respond in a calculated manner during all mental health assessments and public appearances for fear of being judged "Active".
Religious people may also get upset with this book as it labels religious belief as a form of psychosis and in this future all religion is illegal because of it's ability to destroy 'every culture that ever existed.' Although there's a hint of the paranormal in the form of Enlightenment Glimpse -the ability to see a short vision, glimpse, of the future used by the only remaining religious organisation which is viewed as a strict brainwashing cult by the Pures.
The love triangle wasn't painful and appears to be resolved in this book. Both men, Jasper and Cole, are older by up to 6 years. For once, I approve of Ana's pick. The ending leaves things open for the sequel (which should resolve everything as Merle has a two-book deal) but it doesn't leave you hanging off a cliff.
Perhaps I'm being overly sensitive due to my personal connection with mental illness. Besides, dystopian fiction takes the negative aspects of society and exaggerates them to the extreme and usually acts as some sort of lesson against behaving in a certain manner. So maybe I have nothing to worry about and have no need to be upset, but then this is just my opinion.
Some may ask me why I read this book after reading the synopsis and knowing what to expect. A synopsis doesn't tell you everything. I have a keen interest in psychology (especially in fiction) and in truth, I assumed some disease had changed human genes somehow and the result altered the nature and development of mental illness. In any case, I'm glad I overcame strong emotions to read the whole book.
WARNING: contains violence, physical and psychological abuse, some gore, and rape.
***My thanks to Faber & Faber and Netgalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.***...more
I'm going to preface this review by saying that if I hadn't read interviews and blog posts about this and future books then I would've awarded more stI'm going to preface this review by saying that if I hadn't read interviews and blog posts about this and future books then I would've awarded more stars. Perhaps I'll calm down later and see the light but for now, I'm a bull pawing the sand with my head lowered snorting in anger and frustration despite the fact that I quite enjoyed this book. It's where we go from now that troubles me.
The first half was slow with only a couple of blood-pumping action scenes. The road trip itself, although giving the characters time to bond with Trent was a bit tedious. I was beginning to believe the book had been misrepresented to me and was tempted to abandon it. And although it got better, I was kind of right. It's not what I expected at all.
This book was supposed to be about two things: Trent and Rachel becoming closer and Rachel's fight to get the shunning removed. I was in it for the former but couldn't see it happening with Trent becoming criminally dangerous with his arrogance.
I assumed, as I'm guessing many others will, that Rachel and Trent would have a fling, Trent would ruin things and they both would move on. Not so. Something more serious transpired. They learned to trust each other. Trent rightfully earned everyone's trust. He sacrificed much for Rachel and instead of imposing his will, he gave her a choice. A very important choice. Trent changed in this book partly due to a rather surprising development he'd been keeping secret which now has him tied to Rachel in a way that would have me believing Rachel and Trent will become an item in the next book, the last scene backing me up on this.
However, and this is where I get annoyed, Harrison has stated that Rachel and Trent will not become long term romantic partners. She has even been dropping hints about Rachel's future love interests (all current ones except Trent are no longer possible) in blog posts. This made me angry. I feel like I've been manipulated despite knowing all of this going in. The writing was so good regarding this that I believed they would become an item. Everything points to it becoming a done deal. I don't understand why she would do this, other than to make Trent Rachel's protector, which she now desperately needs to survive.
All of this makes me wonder what Harrison's long-term plan with this series is. I'm concerned about repetitiveness at this point. Rachel's predicament by the end of PD is a return to one she had at the beginning, just replace "black witch" with "demon". This is the 9th book. It almost read like the last. I could happily not read another and not just because I'm disgruntled. I can imagine what could come next but it probably doesn't match what Harrison has in store for us.
I've been questioning my commitment to this series. Kisten's demise led to a break away from it and since then I've missed him. Trent is/was someone I could see Rachel settling with because even though he has, as she puts it: a 'disrespect of innocent lives' and the law, they have great chemistry and now they care and perhaps even love (at least a little) one another. Trent has proven he'll do anything, and I mean anything, to protect what and whom he cares about so I'm failing to understand why...Oh, never mind. This is embarrassing. I'm an action fan, not a romance queen. I'm whining so it's time to shut up now. ...more
Super strong opening chapters with a premise similar to TV’s Dollhouse which although interesting, threw up more questions than answers.
Starters shineSuper strong opening chapters with a premise similar to TV’s Dollhouse which although interesting, threw up more questions than answers.
Starters shines the spotlight on a section of society which is sometimes overlooked or given the least respect but which will in future be the most powerful: the old. One day there will be fewer young people to support the ever-increasing number of elderly citizens, and here we can see how things could change in their favour.
Starters are under 19 years of age, those just starting out in life and Enders are the elderly. The generations inbetween have all died after biological warfare prompted the vaccination of the vulnerable –the old and the young, leaving those in the middle to die prolonged and agonizing deaths.
From the technology available I would guess we’re about 50 years in the future in a post-war America. The reasons for the war aren’t given. All we know is that Pacific Rim countries were involved and that America used an EMP weapon on them and they retaliated with a biologically engineered disease –game, set, match.
The age gap creates a huge gulf between the Starters and Enders. Old legislation addressing the increasing aging population means anyone under 19 cannot work and the large numbers of unclaimed minors whose family have died are unable to legitimately provide for themselves. Orphanages are basically workhouses with inmates treated as prisoners; no one wants to end up there. Squatting and thieving is how most get by, dodging the child-catching Marshals whenever possible. Adoption or fostering seems non-existent. Enders don’t care about Starters unless they’re family. I find this surprising because many Enders would’ve lost children, relatives. Some may be the last members of their families. Hasn’t loneliness spurred any to seek adoption?
The story follows Callie, a Starter, who lost her parents to the war. She has no grandparents and is forced to care for her 7-year-old brother by herself with a little help from Michael, a boy who used to live down the street from her pre-war. They’re currently squatting in an abandoned building practically starving. She can’t bear to watch her sick brother lose any more weight so she visits the not so ethical or legal, Prime Destinations, a place which rents out the bodies of teenagers to Enders who pay large sums of money to feel young again. If she does this she’ll have enough cash to pay for a home and medical care for her brother for the next few years.
For obvious reasons Callie’s reluctant to do this but she has little choice. Unfortunately things don’t go quite to plan, Callie suddenly wakes up in a nightclub instead of the lab and finds out the renter of her body wishes to murder someone. Scared, she pretends she’s her renter to safeguard her payment and attempts to stop her renter from committing this crime which will no doubt lead to her own execution.
Along the way she encounters other renters taking full advantage of their new temporary bodies and think nothing of stealing the lives of the body’s original owners. They take the old adage ‘Youth is wasted on the young’ to heart. These privileged Enders are selfish and greedy. The predatory gleam in the eyes of those at PD were quite creepy, eyeing up the young like they’re cattle for slaughter, salivating at the thought of inhabiting their supple bodies and smooth, wrinkle-free skin. *shudders*
These Enders aren’t your average old people. They live to 200 years old and appear to have no health problems due to advances in medicine, odd because not all Enders are rich and the last time I checked medical care wasn’t free in America so how come none of them appear hampered by age. Sure, some have wrinkles (and others get cosmetic surgery) and watery eyes but no problems running or experiencing a full working life.
Carrie also finds herself spending time with a handsome and rich teen, Blake. Her Prince Charming. Whenever she’s around him the urgency of her predicament, racing-against-time to stop the murder, fades into the background. A day out horse-riding with him and she forgets her responsibilities and starts comparing herself to Cinderella, wondering if the girl from the fairy tale ever considered telling her prince she’s a fraud. I never understood Blake’s appeal considering the over-familiar way he behaves, acting like they’re closer than the strangers they are. And Callie’s ambiguous relationship with Michael –are they more than friends? Even at the end it isn’t clear. Is a love triangle on the horizon?
Reading about how vaccinating the old and young from something so deadly implies this is the wrong course of action generally. Yes, the elderly are an invaluable source of knowledge, wisdom and experience but in a situation where you have limited resources and a serious biological threat, is protecting the weakest to the detriment of the strong really the right decision to make? In this case it left children without parents, manual labour is carried out by those children because the elderly were either too frail or simply felt they were above such work.
The plot is interesting if slightly predictable and the characters are quite thin, I didn't feel particularly attached to any of them. I did have some problems understanding the technology either because we’re given names of something but not what it does or because something we all ready have has been rebranded e.g. Z-mail a.k.a. e-mail, Zing a.k.a. text message –took me a bit to figure that one out. The focus of the book is on the very rich and the very poor Starters but we don't get to see those in the middle, nor do we see any poor Enders. The last page was intriguing but I'm not sure if I'll read the sequel for one reason: the possibility of a love triangle. The rest I believe will be developed and improved upon but I can't abide love triangles.
***Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.***
"Is that it?" was my first thought upon finishing. The only thing saving this is the thought that it was written in 1948, postAvailable as a free PDF.
"Is that it?" was my first thought upon finishing. The only thing saving this is the thought that it was written in 1948, post-WWII. Wartime involved conscription, a national lottery picking random men to become soldiers and sending them to die. Thinking of The Lottery in light of this, and the complicit conformity and reluctance to abandon tradition, together with the similarity to The Hunger Games, provided enough context for me to appreciate this short story....more
This is some fucked up shit. Misogynistic and necrophilic fucked up shit. With illustrations. My inner feminist is vibrating with rage and is drawingThis is some fucked up shit. Misogynistic and necrophilic fucked up shit. With illustrations. My inner feminist is vibrating with rage and is drawing disturbing comparisons with serial killer Elliot Rodger.
The meathouse is a whorehouse whose 'whores' are dead women, most of whom are former criminals and debtors although some have been kidnapped and killed precisely to be commodified by transforming them into brainless undead prostitutes. Outside of the meathouses, corpses are used as workers directed by handlers (read: puppeteers), similar to what The People do with vampires in Ilona Andrews's Kate Daniels series. The entertainment industry is dominated by corpse fights like the gladiators of old, their handlers manipulating them like 3-D real world video game characters.
Greg succumbs to peer pressure by patronising a meathouse where he falls in love with a coprse-whore and thus begins an obsession. The explicit artwork of this graphic novel makes it all the sicker. Necrophilic rape porn imagery is not something I want to see. And the illustrations aren't even good - it's quite grotesque actually, although that may be intentional.
Anyway, Greg decides he deserves better than an undead woman and proceeds to wait for a living, breathing woman. He meets one, he falls in love and she rejects him. He moves to another planet, meets a woman, falls in love, they're happy for a time, then she dumps him for his best friend. From here on out he hates women. Love is a cruel lie. He turns to the occupation he once shunned: gladiator-corpse handler. Turns out he's excellent at bloodily dismantling his opponents from the comfort of his 'throne' as the crowds cheer him on.
I know George R.R. Martin is a man who loves to write controversial storylines. A Song of Fire and Ice gets a pass in my eyes due to historical and cultural accuracy. Meathouse Man, on the other hand, is set in the distant future when man has colonized multiple planets. One would hope such pervasive and socially acceptable misogyny and disrespect for the dead would be but a distant memory by this time.
I'm shocked and disappointed that this is a 2014 Hugo Award Best Graphic Novel Nominee.
*Read for free via the LonCon3 Hugo Voter Pack....more
What would happen if the supervolcano at Yellowstone erupted? Ashfall attempts to answer that question by following Alex, a typical 15-year-old boy froWhat would happen if the supervolcano at Yellowstone erupted? Ashfall attempts to answer that question by following Alex, a typical 15-year-old boy from the day his world falls apart at home alone while his family are over a hundred miles away visiting his uncle to his quest to be reunited with his family.
What about a supervolcano erupting is so devastating? Ash. Lots and lots of toxic ash. It covers fields, pollutes the waterways, inhale too much it can kill both animals and humans. It's consistency is so fine it can stick to everything, in small amounts slippery to walk on and once mixed with rain can become like thick mud and when it dries it can harden like concrete. It can be so heavy, the pressure on a roof can bring down a building. Travel becomes almost impossible. No air traffic, trains and cars. Walking is the only option. (Or skiing. Cross-country skiing works, too.) Amenities like electricity and communications are down other than a few radio broadcasts. Civilisation has been brought to a standstill.
Apart from the first quarter of the book which was slow and somewhat boring, that all changed once we met Darla. She brought a much needed spark to this book as an intriguing, prickly, independent and resourceful farm girl who's not afraid of a little blood (understatement!) with the mind of an engineer and a MacGyver-like ability to repair and create things out of anything. Basically, she's awesome and definitely someone you want on your side in a crisis. She's one of many strong women in the book.
I loved Darla but I also loved the effect Darla had on Alex. He learns a lot from her -techniques on how to find and prepare food (those scenes may turn meat-lovers vegetarian, you have been warned), that survival can mean doing things that pre-apocalypse you'd judge people for but not now, and (view spoiler)[how to love someone so much they'll die/kill for them. (hide spoiler)] He starts the book as a sheltered city boy, a nerd, a naive 15-year-old with a black belt in martial arts and ends it about 6 months later, a man of 16, hardened by what he'd seen and done. His generosity and compassion were remarkable, could be considered stupid, but still, he didn't abandon his humanity, his morals, when it really counted. Alex even makes a very mature decision that fully grown adults wouldn't.
Luck. Mullin balances this quite well. In pre-apocalyptic life luck plays a role but now luck is everything. Alex's journey means his life is always in danger, he suffers as do those around him but he's also quite lucky. Some of his clouds have silver linings, like meeting Darla. If he hadn't been injured they'd never have met and he would be dead.
It could be argued that at times Alex is too lucky although I wouldn't say that because although the situation is bleak there is hope, a light at the end of the tunnel. I didn't come away from this book feeling depressed despite the subject matter. There's plenty of deep, dark reality: people die in both passive and violent manners, there's the constant feeling of uncertainty. That safe feeling we take for granted no longer exists. The main characters learn from others' experiences as well as by trial and error so it all feels realistic. And there's a bit of humour too.
Alex encounters a great many people and situations: those that are coping, predators, victims, cannabalism, sickness, rescue centres, towns that work together, the religious, etc. They paint a shocking, desperate and vivid picture of what a cataclysmic disaster can do to a western civilisation. Although I do think this is very USA-specific, well it has to be since the supervolcano is at Yellowstone but the availability of guns and the government rescue centre and military responses weren't erm, practical. It's diabolical that the military would care more about politics and money when food is so scarce, their lack of compassion was astonishing considering their main role is to protect the people instead of (view spoiler)[imprisoning and torturing them through neglect. (hide spoiler)] Only in America(?).
As for the wider world, it was really strange to see Chinese humanitarian missions granted permission to help the US. And this:
"The vice president concluded his remarks with strong words for 'those nations whose hoarding and profiteering cause the collapse of the international grain markets.' He pledged to use the full force of the United States to insure an equitable..."
Yeah, the US has become a third world country overnight I'm sure they have a huge influence on the world now. /sarcasm
Two things I really like about this book:
The teenage boy thinks about sex, in a YA book. The teenage girl is older than the boy.
They're probably really strange things to pick up on but I've read quite a few books where the boys have pure non-sexual thoughts and are always, always older than the girl, sometimes by centuries. This is a very welcome and refreshing change.
I'm quite surprised by how much I liked Ashfall, how many times I uttered an "oh my god", "eww" and "oh no!", worrying about how they were going to get out of this or that scrape. I was rooting for Alex and Darla the whole way, hoping they'd survive with as few physical and mental scars as possible, and make it to their goal.
I started this book 60 miles away from home, not the best time, and I wondered what I would do if tragedy struck right then, and my first thought was to get out of the city. Londoners can be scary at the best of times I certainly don't want to get caught there in a crisis. I'm not sure how I'd fare on a journey like Alex's and how it would end for me. Starvation? Suicide? Murder? Would I make it home? Would you?
*Warning: This book contains strong violence, animal slaughter and human suffering.
'What kind of girl cuddles with a cute rabbit she name Buck one minute and the next smashes its skull with a hammer to scoop out its brains?'
'Something about brains and milkshakes didn't compute. Had I wondered into a bad zombie movie?'
'I knew I'd regret leaving Darla, but my family mattered more than some girl I'd just met and barely knew.'
"And I'm not an idiot. And this is getting old. I know you've probably got ash in your panties, but do you have to take it out on me?"
"I...look, it's not logical, but I feel safe with you. I should be freaked out by the dead guy in the room behind us, but I'm not. I know I'd be safer in Worthington, but I didn't feel that way when I woke up that morning and you weren't there."
"When you followed me out of Worthington, that was my real birthday present."
"As it happens I only volunteered to be a camp prostitute. I didn't have to go through with it. But so what if I had? So what if I screwed every motherless guard in that godforsaken camp?" "I don't-" "Would that have made me less of a woman in your mind? Less of a person? Just one of those girls, the easy ones, the ones the high-school cliques gossip about and call sluts? Is that the kind of boy you are, Alex? Is that the man you want to be?"
***Many thanks to Netgalley for providing me a copy of this book 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"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["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
Man is lured into participating in a super-secret medical trial. Man is unknowingly cloned, pumped with viagra an"You want to film me fucking myself."
Man is lured into participating in a super-secret medical trial. Man is unknowingly cloned, pumped with viagra and anti-anxiety drugs to lower inhibitions, then locked in a room with his clone. What happens next? Bow-chica-wow-wow.
So, is this a form of extreme narcissism? An odd kind of masturbation?
This was no different than getting horny watching gay porn; it was an appreciation for the male form. In this case, mine. And what's wrong with a little bit of self-appreciation?
...who hadn't fantasized about having sex with themselves?
Er, me. Hadn't even crossed my mind. But then, I'm not male.
Flashes of teenaged me straining in autofellatio -inspired yoga, desperately trying to suck my own cock ran through my head.
As far as I know, it isn't possible for women to achieve the same.
"...wouldn't it be more exciting to do something totally unique and impossible without science? For anyone not a twin," he hastily added with no hint of shame.
Is twincest common? Apart from male-female twincest depicted by George R.R. Martin in his A Song of Ice and Fire series and a male-female (who were unknowingly born male-male) in the "Identity" episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (based on the true story of David Reimer), I've not encountered many examples.
Although, I do remember watching one of those weird sex documentaries that featured a pair of female twins that performed live sex shows. And in effort to find them, my Google search brought up this interesting and sort-of relevant Slate article The Sex Lives of Conjoined Twins, and their agony aunt page entitled Brotherly Love.
The clone itself, is not born but made, fully formed from SmartLiquid and is an exact physical and mental, self-aware duplicate including all past memories up to the point of cloning. And are recycled when no longer needed.
"The clones are able to be repurposed, regenerated, and reconfigured for future use . Your model, so to speak, lasts as long as you are here and then as soon as we're done going over your study they are stripped and reset to default, only to eventually be improved and changed into someone else later."
While not made from flesh and blood, the clones appear to be somehow psychologically or computer-programmed:
“So you’re made for sex. Are you permanently hard all the time?” “By default, yes. I can control my erection though to be soft if you wanted.”
For some reason, I had the image of android Data and Lieutenant Natasha Yar from the "The Naked Now" episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. She asks if he's "fully functional", he is, and he adds "I am programmed in multiple techniques. A broad variety of pleasuring."
"Inside of me is a guideline of sexual instructions that is guaranteed to make my partner orgasm, often several times in a single session. I match my training with your profile and adjust accordingly. Every session is a learning experience." "What about you? Can you get off?" "Of course. I'm just like you, only I can keep on going and going and going with no worry of a refractory period . Anything you tell me to do I do it. If you want cum I can have it for you on command. If you want me to blow you, I'm your man. Anything. You. Want."
On the possible future of human cloning:
"We're approaching the day when sex-clones become a real thing. That's not saying they aren't feasible today, but with enough time they will be advanced and cheap enough for everyone in the developed world with a desire to fuck a vat-grown-human to have the capability to do so and enjoy it. You can consider this market research."
Creating self-aware human clones with training or programming for the exclusive purpose of becoming sex workers is firmly in the realm of fantasy. Anything or anyone that is self-aware and is selfishly used, and possibly abused, as slaves, will have within them the ability to revolt and start an emancipation revolution, just as clone Somni-451 attempted to do Cloud Atlas.
Overall, the concept here is immensely fascinating. I expected a not-so-well-written, mildly titillating erotica, and while there were a few punctuation errors and word omissions, this didn't impact on my enjoyment of the premise nor the amusing writing style. Honestly, the sex is the least captivating aspect of this sci-fi short.
I'll leave you with a giggle-worthy quote:
Too much porn had skewed my judging of how big cocks were supposed to be. Sucking on this thing would be like taking a thick popsicle down your throat. It was daunting. I suddenly felt a strong sense of compassion and understanding for the women I had been with.
I'm sorry, I don't get it. I'm not sure why Darkfever is so popular. For most of the book I was bored and on top of that the characters are incrediblyI'm sorry, I don't get it. I'm not sure why Darkfever is so popular. For most of the book I was bored and on top of that the characters are incredibly unlikeable. I only continued because I was advised that it gets better and it did improve a little but not enough for me to give it 3 stars.
My major problem was Mac and Barrons. Mac is supposed to be a bartender from a small town so she's sheltered but she's spoilt and lacks brains and common sense. She stumbles into bad situations without thinking of her own safety, basically she's Too Stupid To Live. Her Barbie look which had me thinking of Paris Hilton makes this worse. By the end, I thought she deserved to die. I couldn't believe how she managed to fight so well and survive without any training.
Barrons is arrogant and rude and not in a good way. He may be gorgeous and intelligent but he's not someone I'd ever want to spend time with. His change in behaviour at the end, painting Mac's nails for her because she was unable to do it herself, was completely out of character. However, I did feel sorry for him for having to deal with Mac. I'd have snapped and killed her quite early on. But that's me.
The story is occasionally commented on by Mac herself reflecting on these events from some future time. Every now and then this broke and ruined the tension and disappointed me by giving away information I didn't need to know yet. It was like someone telling me the end of a joke just before it was told. I didn't like this quirk at all. Why the author thought this was necessary, I don't know.
Not much is resolved within Darkfever so it tries to peak your curiosity to encourage you to buy the next one. Well, I got this for free from Amazon (thank goodness) and I don't see myself buying the next book. I may give it a shot at some point in the future but I'm not itching to get it from the library any time soon....more
Think back to that pilot episode when Gillian Anderson was frumpy and David Duchovny was still cute, when everyone believedCue The X-Files theme tune.
Think back to that pilot episode when Gillian Anderson was frumpy and David Duchovny was still cute, when everyone believed Mulder to be just another nutty alien-enthusiast. That is, until Scully witnessed strange events for herself and her whole world view changes.
"The truth is out there."
The above reflects this first "episode" of Turbulence. First Officer Paul Conin is cast in the role of Scully, the newbie sceptic. Dallas, a flight attendant, is Mulder to Paul's Scully. And like Mulder & Scully, I fully expect these two to get it on. ;)
The first scene, detailing the suicide of the previous First Officer, is a bit confusing but I expect it will all slot into place later on. I look forward to learning more about what happens at the end. (view spoiler)[I wonder why the passengers are "taken" (if that's the correct term) and not the crew. And where do they go? (hide spoiler)]
Guess what I'm reading next? :D["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A tale of two halves. First 50%, 1 star. The second, 4 stars.
Five years ago, when this was first published, the language used, in the first half in paA tale of two halves. First 50%, 1 star. The second, 4 stars.
Five years ago, when this was first published, the language used, in the first half in particular, wouldn't have seemed so cliched. The pace was slow and I didn't feel anything for the characters. But when Annabelle meets the pack things start to change. And then something devastating happens and Anna's emotions reached out and grabbed my throat, squeezing until my eyes watered. The only thing I didn't like about that part: when Kieran and Annabelle reunite they don't talk about the (view spoiler)[miscarriage (hide spoiler)] or address the effect it's had on them and how they'll proceed with their future.
As for Ryland, I suspect the author's going to do a Kleypas and turn our wannabe rapist into a hero. It takes immense talent to accomplish that and considering his behaviour throughout Shewolf I'm not confident his change in character would successfully win me over and convince me he's a good guy deep down.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
It's been a while since I studied Marxism at school, a refresh of my memory was required, and having never read The Communist Manifesto, I thought I mIt's been a while since I studied Marxism at school, a refresh of my memory was required, and having never read The Communist Manifesto, I thought I might as well try it.
My views have changed. When I studied Marxism as a teenager I was enamoured with its idealistic belief that capitalism would inevitably end in revolution and somehow result in a more utopian and equal society. No one could ever accuse me of being an optimist, even back then, but I think perhaps Marx's revolutionary philosophy played on my pessimistic "the world's going to hell in a hand basket" outlook and shining a spark of optimistic hope that once society finally crumbles, things will get better.
Ha-ha! I'm older and wiser now. I've read Animal Farm. Selfishness, greed and nepotism will prevent any successful utopian attempts at strict and extreme equality, which is basically what communism means. Human nature drives us to climb the step ladder of personal achievement and progress and the 'keeping up with the Joneses' attitude to wanting and needing more than our neighbours in order to feel successful, will always stop us from achieving absolute equality in all areas of society.
World-altering events precipitate the type of revolutionary change Marx wants. World War II inspired the creation of the NHS - free healthcare to all at the point of use, paid for by the state via general taxation rather than insurance. The NHS, as a socialist construct, makes the UK a mixed economy, rather than a 'free' and therefore thoroughly capitalist one, like that of the United States.
World wars, globally devastating plagues, large-scale disasters - anything that wipes out millions of people and threatens human extinction could motivate revolutionary change in the direction of the communist end of the political and economic spectrum.
Short-term change is regularly witnessed at times of crisis. In the aftermath of the UK's 2011 riots people flooded the streets to start the cleanup. Ordinarily people have to paid to clean the streets while others thoughtlessly drop litter. But in extraordinary circumstances we'll work together for the common good rather than material gain. Once the short-term goal is met, everything goes back to normal.
Instead of backing the philosophy of the extremist views of communism and capitalism, we should be looking at moderate solutions, solutions which limit the negative impact of capitalism without subjecting everyone to the suffocating nature of totalitarianism.
One example would be implementing laws to limit CEO salaries to a certain multiple of the lowest earners of their business. Say the lowest salary of an employee is £15,000 and the CEO can't make more than 10x the salary of the lowest earning employee, that means the CEO can't make more than £150,000 per year, including benefits. This incentivises the CEO to raise salaries of their employees if they should want a raise themselves, as much as the bottom line will allow. Of course, those types of policies require common sense and the cooperation of the most greedy of individuals, likely only possible after that disastrous worldwide event.
I'm stunned at the low quality of this so-called manifesto. No wonder my teachers never recommended reading it. Repetitive to the point of redundancy. It's a short book made even shorter by its repetitive nature. It doesn't even have a breadth of subject matter to save it. Blinded by frustration, resentment, and possibly hatred, of Americans capitalists and the bourgeoisie (i.e. the middle and upper classes), Marx and Engels are unable to face the reality of human nature.
'Our bourgeois, not content with having the wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other's wives.'
This should be renamed The Communist Hate-ifesto. If you're going to encourage positive change, don't demonise a whole sub-section of society who arguably have the power to make the changes you desire. To have a conversation, at least two people need to be involved. Who's going to bother listening to the views of those who hate them?
Perhaps Marx and Engels were representing the voices of the often silenced proletariat (the working class) 150 years ago, but these voices are hardly silent now in the age of free speech and the internet. However, you could argue the voices of the underclasses still aren't being heard by the political class. Criminals, addicts, the unemployed, the disabled, the mentally ill - those that may not have the will, the education or the capacity to make their voices heard but continue to be scapegoats, the omegas in the social hierarchy, who are continually kicked when they're already down.
However, there are many statements that ring true:
☀ A history of class struggles, with a widening gap between two classes: the middle class and the working class. 'The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.'
☀ 'The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production... the burden of toil also increases, whether by prolongation of the working hours, by increase of the work exacted in a given time or by increased speed of the machinery, etc.'
☀ 'The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.' Encouraging materialism, overproduction and excessive consumption.
☀ Abandoning self-sufficiency in favour of 'universal inter-dependence of nations' for everything from food to energy security, and '...barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilised ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West.'
☀ 'It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state, that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie, in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society.'
☀ A majority of property owned by an increasing few. 'The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property .'
☀ Predicting the rise of trade unions and political parties representing the working class, e.g. the UK's Labour Party, which is largely funded by trade unions.
☀ Anyone familiar with the US's Republican Party will recognise: 'Law, morality, religion, are to him [the working class man] so many bourgeois prejudices.'
☀ Britain has an over inflated housing market where only the rich and middle classes can afford to buy a home. '...property is alleged to be the groundwork of all personal freedom, activity and independence. Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the property of the petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of property that preceded the bourgeois form? There is no need to abolish that; the development of industry has to a great extent already destroyed it, and is still destroying it daily.'
☀ Wanting to prevent exploitation of children by parents - children as 'articles of commerce and instruments of labour.'
☀ 'The bourgeois see in his wife a mere instrument of production.' A means to an heir, historically.
A quick analysis of the main tenets of the manifesto
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes. Not going to happen. (See above for reasons why.)
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax. This works in Sweden. Up to 60% income tax but good quality state-run services.
3. Abolition of all right of inheritance. This flies in the face of our instinct to provide for our children.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels. Shocking on first inspection, but it makes sense that property should only be held by local people. Britain has a problem with rich foreigners buying up all the property, reducing supply and driving up demand and therefore prices.
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly. Erm, well, this sort of already happened. The 2008 banking crisis meant banks were bailed out by the state, though they didn’t have a monopoly.
6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State. Hell, no. We already have the NSA and GCHQ spying on our online activity, shattering our illusion of privacy. Transport is an iffy one. Privatisation of public transport such as the railways may have been cheaper to run and to travel on in the UK, but it wasn’t always efficient.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State ; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
‘Owned by the state’ doesn’t sound good to me. Cuba comes to mind. Totalitarianism reminiscent of Equilibrium. 8. Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equable distribution of the population over the country. I’m not seeing how he first part is possible. There’s definitely a need to redistribute of the bottom heavy population of the UK. South East England, including London, are so overpopulated that infrastructure is struggling and things like drinking water are harder to come by.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production , &c., &c. This has already happened in Western countries.
“Well, I’d say Karl Marx designed one of the most powerful and influential economic and social philosophies of recent history, and I don’t know whether I’ve done anything quite at that level yet." - Russell Brand, The Guardian
I should probably talk about Russell Brand's recent political epiphany. Revolution is his remarkably Marxist political manifesto. Articles by and about him in the Guardian painted a vivid picture of his personality at this time. He's a man who's realised his shallow life is empty of meaning, that should he die he has no legacy and no respectable reason to be remembered in history. This epiphany was sparked by his short relationship with Jemima Khan. Unfortunately he appears to have grabbed onto an ideology with the passion of a zealot without really thinking out his agenda or researching it properly before publicly airing his half-formed opinions and arguments. It's painful to watch.
My own political awakening came in the form of feminism. However, I wouldn't have dreamed of publishing a book on the topic without a compendium of research behind me. Brand comes across as someone who read a book or two, spoke to a few activists and then threw a book together with his trademark, dictionary-worthy vocabulary.
Claiming that he's 'ready to die for this' was a particularly cringeworthy little moment I'd hope he'd like to forget. I don't doubt his earnest desire to believe in something other than his own pleasure, but his addictive nature is showing. He's unable to delay the gratification in showing the masses that he's changed and now stands for something other than sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. This is perhaps an innocent and naïve attempt to get people to like and respect him, to move past his historically distasteful persona.
While I applaud his personal growth I can't help but point out the hypocrisy. He's not yet practicing what he preaches. Being driven around in an expensive chauffeured car means he's still insulated from the real world.
'...a small section of the ruling class cuts itself adrift, and joins the revolutionary class...'
Rosa Parks was not the first woman to refuse to give up her seat on a bus for a white person. I know, I didn't know this either. It's not our fault.Rosa Parks was not the first woman to refuse to give up her seat on a bus for a white person. I know, I didn't know this either. It's not our fault. Claudette Colvin had done the same nine months before. She was not considered by African American civil rights leaders to be a suitable symbol for the campaign against segregationist legislation. She was too young (she was fifteen), perceived to be too fiesty and too emotional, and too working class to be an appropriate figurehead to inspire revolution among her fellow African American residents of Montgomery, Alabama. She suffered more at the hands of the police than Ms. Parks (Colvin was jailed, among other things), more scorn from her neighbours and supposed friends than Ms. Parks, and yet she's been conveniently forgotten by the press, the historians and the public.
But she isn't bitter about it. In fact she understands why Rosa was the better choice, she was everything Claudette wasn't - a well respected introvert, a middle class and middle aged woman. Colvin was understandably hurt when she wasn't informed about victories or included in celebrations, and was completely shunned by everyone when she fell pregnant just a few months after she took a stand, by a married - and supposedly white - man. She was a teenager, an unwed mother - a shameful thing. Her parents forced her to keep the name of the father secret so apart from her immediate family she was without support from the community that once revered her for her bravery. The movement took what they wanted from her and then ignored her when she became the object of shame. The irony is astonishing - the movement rallying against unjust persecution while also persecuting a vulnerable member of their community.
Anyway, Colvin never sought fame or criticized the movement's leaders, she quietly tried to rebuild her life. Her dream of becoming a civil rights lawyer shattered once she became pregnant. Her school kicked her out as it did any pregnant teenager and she was forced to bear and raise her son in isolation, constantly looking for work since she was fired every time her employers discovered who she was.
This is an exceptionally well-rounded account of events surrounding the bus boycotts and the reversal of the segregation of schools in Montgomery, Alabama in the mid-1950s. Colvin's point of view and personal history is interspersed with accounts from other sources and there are plenty of detailed explanations of how things worked and were organised and funded. It's quite amazing what the co-operation of a community accomplished, and what they had to sacrifice. There are many examples of unjust events that precipitated Colvin's impromptu decision to make a stand.
The narration is perfect. Not once did I become bored or frustrated. I highly recommend this anyone that wants to know more about Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement in Alabama.
ETA: I forgot to add that I was surprised to hear that Colvin stopped straightening her hair while she was in high school because she was proud of her African heritage. Unfortunately her classmates and her boyfriend didn't understand and began to pressurize her on the subject. But she was adamant. Her natural hair was beautiful. She didn't want to spend hours every morning trying to make her hair look like a white woman's. She was African and that was that.
I've not read any of the classic versions before so certain elementsAn okay 1855 retelling of a classic that dates back to at least the 17th century.
I've not read any of the classic versions before so certain elements leapt out at me that did not appear in Disney's adaption.
Here, Cinderella's father is alive and blindly infatuated with his wife while he neglects his daughter.
'Yet the poor thing bore this ill treatment very meekly, and did not dare complain to her father, who thought so much of his wife that he would have scolded her.'
An explanation of Cinderella's name leads me to wonder if her real name is Isabella.
'...she used to sit in the chimney-corner amongst the cinders, which had caused the nickname Cinderella to be given her by the family...'
And also known to her stepmother as Cinder-wench.
'elastic glass slippers' - an oxymoron, if ever there was one. If I didn't know any better, Hewet is referring to plastic. Plastic was in development at this time; the first type patented a year after publication.
The patronizing paternalistic morality of the commentary when referring to the rules imposed on the temporary freedom she is granted by her Godmother, the Queen of the Faeries, is shudder-inducing:
'...an everlasting lesson to all the pretty little Cinderellas in the world to keep their word, and to act in good faith by such as befriend them.'
I didn't realise that Cinderella spends more than one night at the ball with the Prince, though it makes more sense, giving him time to become fixated on his wife-to-be. Then, expending time and resources on finding her when she leaves for good without giving him a name with which to find her.
'...she not only forgave them with all her heart, but wished for their affection... allowed her sisters to lodge in the palace, and gave them in marriage, that same day, to two lords belonging to the court.'
I'm not the type to forgive and forget, but as Cinderella was deprived of love and affection from these people, she's in a position to demand it now. She can force them to kiss her shoes if she wished. However, there's no mention of what becomes of her stepmother or her father. Perhaps their fate is less rosy. ...more
A tale of two halves. An excellent, attention-grabbing opening which gradually deteriorates into an uninteresting and contrived mess made for skimmingA tale of two halves. An excellent, attention-grabbing opening which gradually deteriorates into an uninteresting and contrived mess made for skimming.
What I loved:
And invisible to me because it was so remote and small, flying swiftly and steadily towards me across that incredible distance , drawing nearer every minute by so many thousands of miles, came the Thing they were sending us, the Thing that was to bring so much struggle and calamity and death to the earth.
the arrogance of man believing he is alone in the universe
Yet so vain is man, and so blinded by his vanity, that no writer, up to the very end of the nineteenth century, expressed any idea that intelligent life might have developed there far, or indeed at all, beyond its earthly level.
realistic emotional responses ranging from terror, panic and post-traumatic stress from witnessing the horrors of war to determined attempts to ignore and deny this frightening new reality
“It’s a movin’,” he said to me as he passed; “a-screwin’, and a-screwin’ out. I don’t like it . I’m a-goin’ ’ome, I am.”
Suddenly , like a thing falling upon me from without, came— fear. With an effort I turned and began a stumbling run through the heather. The fear I felt was no rational fear, but a panic terror not only of the Martians, but of the dusk and stillness all about me. Such an extraordinary effect in unmanning me it had that I ran weeping silently as a child might do.
At times I suffer from the strangest sense of detachment from myself and the world about me; I seem to watch it all from the outside, from somewhere inconceivably remote, out of time, out of space, out of the stress and tragedy of it all.
intimate brushes with death
I staggered through the leaping, hissing water towards the shore. Had my foot stumbled, it would have been the end.
It was as if each man were suddenly and momentarily turned to fire. Then, by the light of their own destruction, I saw them staggering and falling, and their supporters turning to run.
...enormous volume of heavy, inky vapour, coiling and pouring upward in a huge and ebony cumulus cloud, a gaseous hill that sank and spread itself slowly over the surrounding country. And the touch of that vapour, the inhaling of its pungent wisps, was death to all that breathes.
They did not eat, much less digest. Instead, they took the fresh living blood of other creatures, and injected it into their own veins.
The man was running away with the rest, and selling his papers for a shilling each as he ran— a grotesque mingling of profit and panic.
I put out my hand and felt the meat chopper hanging to the wall. In a flash I was after him. I was fierce with fear. Before he was halfway across the kitchen I had overtaken him. With one last touch of humanity I turned the blade back and struck him with the butt. He went headlong forward and lay stretched on the ground. I stumbled over him and stood panting. He lay still.
men clutching at religion
“Why are these things permitted? What sins have we done? The morning service was over, I was walking through the roads to clear my brain for the afternoon, and then— fire, earthquake, death! As if it were Sodom and Gomorrah! All our work undone, all the work— What are these Martians?”
“Be a man!” said I. “You are scared out of your wits! What good is religion if it collapses under calamity? Think of what earthquakes and floods, wars and volcanoes, have done before to men! Did you think God had exempted Weybridge? He is not an insurance agent.”
cold hard comparisons between the relationship between Martians and man and man and the animals
And we men, the creatures who inhabit this earth, must be to them at least as alien and lowly as are the monkeys and lemurs to us.
And before we judge of them too harshly we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its inferior races.
“It’s bows and arrows against the lightning, anyhow,” said the artilleryman.
Did they grasp that we in our millions were organised, disciplined, working together? Or did they interpret our spurts of fire, the sudden stinging of our shells, our steady investment of their encampment, as we should the furious unanimity of onslaught in a disturbed hive of bees? Did they dream they might exterminate us?
“This isn’t a war,” said the artilleryman. “It never was a war, any more than there’s war between man and ants.”
the artilleryman's postulating on the post-apocalyptic rebuilding of society
And we form a band— able-bodied, clean-minded men. We’re not going to pick up any rubbish that drifts in. Weaklings go out again.”
Able-bodied, clean-minded women we want also— mothers and teachers. No lackadaisical ladies—no blasted rolling eyes. We can’t have any weak or silly. Life is real again, and the useless and cumbersome and mischievous have to die. They ought to die. They ought to be willing to die. It’s a sort of disloyalty , after all, to live and taint the race.
actual science in this science fiction
In particular I laid stress on the gravitational difficulty. On the surface of the earth the force of gravity is three times what it is on the surface of Mars. A Martian, therefore, would weigh three times more than on Mars, albeit his muscular strength would be the same. His own body would be a cope of lead to him.
Apparently the vegetable kingdom in Mars, instead of having green for a dominant colour, is of a vivid blood-red tint. At any rate, the seeds which the Martians (intentionally or accidentally) brought with them gave rise in all cases to red-coloured growths. Only that known popularly as the red weed, however, gained any footing in competition with terrestrial forms.
As you can probably tell, all of these things I highlighted with a fervor on my Kindle.
What I didn't appreciate was the contrived and rather dull nature of the latter half of the story, most of which I skimmed. Meeting the artilleryman again miles and days away from where and when they first met - the odds of that are infinitesimal, the aliens abruptly dying from Earth's alien bacteria, the narrator's wife not only surviving but is reunited with her husband. And why was the narrator's brother's point of view given? We never see the brothers together. He's just a stranger to us as the reader.
However, I did raise my eyebrows at these unintentional funnies:
'cockchafer' - apparently this is a beetle but that's not what came to mind when I saw it.
His landlady came to the door, loosely wrapped in dressing gown and shawl; her husband followed ejaculating.
Er, what? That's a bit spicy.
I was initially impressed by this classic. Unfortunately the ending left me disappointed....more
First, I'd like to apologise for cussing out Mr. Mullin's name for the first third of the book. I told myself it was only a book but it got to me. ActFirst, I'd like to apologise for cussing out Mr. Mullin's name for the first third of the book. I told myself it was only a book but it got to me. Action, terror and death almost from the very first page. I was on edge, longing to shout at Alex to shut up and listen to his woman. I decided to go without sleep at about 33%, sleep is for the weak anyway. I needed closure and I needed it NOW! I saw some of those bad things coming, they were inevitable. But...but...I got scared. Alex + Darla = formidable team, so when they got separated, in a most terrifying manner...MUST READ NOW!
Alex arrived at his uncle's farm in October, it's now April and they're experiencing a perpetual winter. No effort has been made to rebuild infrastructure or establish order. The US still appears to be in political turmoil and rumours abound. Finding Alex's parents and rescuing Darla has us re-tracing their path from Ashfall; passing through another FEMA camp and reuniting with old friends like the fearless old librarian Rita Mae from Worthington (great woman) and old enemies like Black Lake and Colonel Levitov.
"Without children we don't have a future." "Without freedom," Rita Mae yelled back, "why would we want a future?"
When I thought over Alex's actions leading to his separation from Darla and everything up to that point I realised he wasn't just an overly generous softie and arguably stupid (which he freely admits: "I'm too stupid to live. I should have never dragged Darla back out here, not for anything."). The negative adrenaline-pumping and usually deadly consequences could have unexpected silver-linings. He gains allies, information and supplies as well as lessons in future dangers by observing other towns and meeting new people. Like I previously mentioned in my Ashfall review there's a delicate balance of luck and karma. If the characters are praying for something good to happen there may be a miracle but there will always be payment. Nothing is free.
However, I could only hold my breath in desperation and fear for these characters, whilst they were apart, for so long. I couldn't maintain that level of anxiety and slowly I became detached and less interested in what was happening. And so I turned to skimming. Darla was sorely missed although I completely understand how her absence played so well into the plot and the original mission: to find, and if alive, bring home Alex's parents, as well as the subplot involving missing and presumed kidnapped, girls. The way everything just slots into place gives the illusion of mild predictability when really it's a natural progression of events.
I love Darlex (Hehe, that's so Dr. Who but much better than Peniss) having built a strong relationship in the first book (ETA: Emeli Sande's Next to Me describes it perfectly), have it tested and re-affirmed (thankfully) in this one. Absence made the heart grow fonder despite my worry to the contrary.
"If we're going to die anyway, I want to die with you. And if we live, I want to live with you."
I sincerely hope they manage to achieve their dreams of one day marrying and having children when life becomes stable and prosperous. But on a sidenote: those childbirth death certificates were heartbreaking.
I have a new favourite character -Ben. Ben suffers from Autism Spectrum Disorder with social and communication problems, is incredibly intelligent and is an expert in all things military. He's a huge asset. One time he corrects his hostage-takers on their strategy, advising them on how to tighten up their formation. Jaw-droppingly hilarious. I sympathised with Alyssa, Ben's carer and "sister unit", and her attachment to Alex. Oh, that was sad. I was both shocked and as uncomfortable as Alex when she enacted her strategy with the gang. That took courage. She was stronger than she knew.
I've got to give the author props for his increasingly sickening and gory yet realistic portrayals of the fight for survival. Ripping away childhoods and replacing them with the cold, dark and horrifying reality. Showing how any decent and honest person can become an unrecognisable monster. Alex's father may have been on that slippery slope when he does something that requires the suspension of compassion i.e. torture. (view spoiler)[I'm glad that Alex's father finally came to understand Darla's importance after witnessing the changes in his son: his new strength and maturity.
"Responsibility's a cruel bitch. She comes for you whether you want it or not."
His sacrifice was heroic. Both he and Alex's mother had big brass balls playing chicken lighting up that propane tank. (hide spoiler)]
The emotions, action and characterisations in these books are superb. I'm eagerly awaiting the next book. Go, Warren! Go!
P.S. If you ever hear the words "flensers" and "long pork buffet", RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!
***My thanks to Tanglewood Press for the ebook in exchange 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"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
After a brilliant and very useful recap of Inside Out, this only got better. It found it's footing immediately and ran like the wind to the closing liAfter a brilliant and very useful recap of Inside Out, this only got better. It found it's footing immediately and ran like the wind to the closing lines.
It was so jam-packed with action, betrayals and trickery I was exhausted just reading it. It wasn't simple either. I'm impressed Snyder could fit so much in (including technical detail) and I could still follow her throughout. Something I couldn't do with the first book.
I never knew who to trust. That seems to be a real theme that Snyder just loves to play with. I don't know how Trella managed what with getting injured, drugged or knocked out every five minutes and having to deal with the difficult relationships with her mother and her boyfriend. Time was a real factor, she never had enough of it but she somehow triumphed more often than not.
There was very little skimming this time around. Snyder was economical with words yet she still managed to fill many, many pages, more than I expected and I never got bored. Unusual for me with YA. The only real downside was no sexually explicit content even when it would've made sense with what should've been a very steamy shower scene, dammit! F-R-U-S-T-R-A-T-I-N-G.
Talking of frustration, Trella's stubborn reluctance in taking on the responsibility of leadership and leaving it to others -ugh! I was so desperate to reach into the book and throttle her and take the reins myself. Everything was falling apart and she was doing NOTHING! It was all her fault. Maybe not but she could've prevented some things or at least coordinated responses to them more efficiently. I'm so glad she learned from her mistakes.
Anyway, things were all nicely wrapped up. Perhaps a little too quickly (I wanted to know what crimes the Outsiders committed to be kicked out of Inside) but by then I was tired and just wanted to put the book down to catch my breath so I didn't care too much. I'm guessing this is a duology, I could be wrong but it ended perfectly so I'm not expecting another instalment. Oh, and I'm assuming Trella got the top spot at the end, in more ways than one. Wink, wink....more
I'm going to be honest, the first 30% was 1 star. I struggled against the awkwardness of the writing and really wanted to put it down and read other tI'm going to be honest, the first 30% was 1 star. I struggled against the awkwardness of the writing and really wanted to put it down and read other things especially when Lysander, the 2000-year-old vampire and leading man, openly admitted to his newly sired vampire child that he'd watched with curiosity while she was tortured, almost raped and about to be dealt a death blow.
'I regret that my fascination with the brutality of their attack prevented me from stopping them before they had done too much damage.[...] She was an innocent. A young woman. Too young to die.' ~An excerpt from Lysander's journal.
He only stepped in once she'd been stabbed and lay badly beaten waiting to be raped and murdered. I think in all the time he'd been alive he'd seen women beaten, stabbed and possibly raped before -why would he be curious about it now? Had he no feelings about it at all? I understand he was disconnected from the world but that stuck with me through the whole thing.
Anyway, after that first third of the book, the writing changed, new characters were introduced. The book lost that cabin-fever feeling with both Lysander and Alyssa getting at each other's throats and avoiding embarrassing lust-filled moments with only moderate success. The visiting clan of vampires brought with it 3 characters which made a true impact on Alyssa and the story: Jessie, Rozaline and Crystal. Jessie as the reckless youth and the others as wise elders.
Alyssa struggles with her new life as a monster killing people every night to survive. She even tries blood from a butcher which proved she had to have fresh blood from the living. She can't stand Lysander being right all the time and ignores his warning: "Immortality does not mean invincibility" defies him and follows another vampire's example leading to an unintentional death which preyed on her conscience because he was innocent and she meant to only kill criminals just as Lysander does.
Longing for her old life Alyssa imagines telling her best friend Fallon what she is and 'That I must feed every night, and because of that, I choose to feed from those who do harm to others? Even to myself, it sounded stupid. I sounded like some bastardized superhero.' I like how this was addressed because that's exactly how it sounds.
The adversary, Kallisto, was a woman scorned and we all know how that works. She's Lysnader's ex and believes herself worthy of worship and unending fealty as a sort-of queen of the vampires, as one of the eldest in existence. She's power-mad, selfish and cruel. No one matters but her own needs and survival. Lysander was her former king and mate though she never let him go, he walked away. She's given him every chance to re-join her and now she wants him dead because if she can't have him, no one can.
The people to be even more afraid of were the Saints, men of the Roman Catholic Church who came together to specifically hunt vampires. They even turned a dying warrior, Santino, into the very thing they condemned in order to kill more vampires, promising automatic entry into Heaven. He fails to acknowledge that lie, no matter how many times Lysander presents him with it:
"I know the commandments you are supposed to live by. There is no fine print in 'Thou shall not kill'."
The love or rather lust-becoming-more was borne out of a lack of other options, for Lysander in particular. I couldn't understand what he saw in 25-year-old Alyssa other than her youth and beauty. For Alyssa, on the other hand, she was presented with a knowledgeable older man who obviously wasn't hurting for money -that much was clear when their financial situation was contrasted with the gyspy-like travelling vampires. Of course, she would be infatuated by him, he was her teacher. He had power and authority over her. Her forgiveness of his hesitation to save her life at the beginning came too easily and quickly. It was brushed aside as something that didn't matter. No grudge, no fights over it. No disgust. Unrealistic.
I was surprised by Edmond's actions towards the end, honourable though they were. He worshipped Kallisto but he meant nothing to her which she delighted in telling Alyssa with Edmond in the room. I'm not sure how Lysander trusted what he claimed when he divulged the whereabouts of his life work and I'm unsure of what Edmond had ever really done to Lysander to provoke the death sentence he demanded but I found myself liking Edmond's character much more than Lysander.
Overall, I'm not particularly fond of the main characters. I liked the travelling vampires, Kallisto, Santino and Edmond. The writing was shaky and awkward to start with but improved as the author seemed to gain confidence in what she was doing, and the book became more interesting as a result.
*Although this was a free e-book from the author this did not impact on my rating or review....more
I am the product of MLK's "dream" as the daughter of a black mother and white father. Who knows, I might not be here if people like him hadn't foughtI am the product of MLK's "dream" as the daughter of a black mother and white father. Who knows, I might not be here if people like him hadn't fought for racial equality and against segregation.
Brilliant free BBC audio of "I Have A Dream" read by Maya Angelou, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Ndileka Mandela (granddaughter of Nelson Mandela), Stevie Wonder, Doreen Lawrence (mother of murdered British teenager Stephen Lawrence), Malala Yousafzai (sixteen-year-old student from Swat in Pakistan, shot by the Taliban for going to school), and a few others.
Each reader seemed to have read a passage personally relevant to them, bringing new meaning to MLK's eloquent words from his impassioned speech delivered to hundreds of thousands of people in Washington 50 years ago, the anniversary of which was yesterday (28th August 2013).
1st read: 29th Aug 2013 of BBC audio 2nd read: 9th Sep 2013 of Paperback ...more
Besides the veritable buffet of Hollywood A-listers from various ethnic backgrounds providing narrations, there's beauDo not read this, listen to it.
Besides the veritable buffet of Hollywood A-listers from various ethnic backgrounds providing narrations, there's beautiful music and songs in the interludes between stories and in the stories themselves. I've derived much enjoyment from the imaginative and enthusiastic performances from the narrators, most of whom possess great skills with accents. Even if you don't recognise a couple of the narrators' names, odds are you'd recognise their faces.
Whoopi Goldberg and Hugh Jackman's performances were outstanding though most were above average.
Urban legends, origin stories, fables, parables, myths, magic, time travel, African versions of well-known fairy tales, clever and devious characters, and emotionally touching stories - what more could you want?
Well, the publisher has donated 100% of its takings from the audio to Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and Artists for New South Africa who work with children affected by HIV/AIDS.
Introduction - Desmond Tutu
★★★☆☆ The Ring of the King (Mythical African kingdom) - Alan Rickman Slightly iffy narration. Very clever story. I laughed at the end.
★★★★☆ Asmodeus and the Bottler of Djinns (South African English) - Whoopi Goldberg Excellent and highly enjoyable narration. Another clever story.
★★★★★ Mpipidi and the Motlopi Tree (Botswana) - Matt Damon Beautiful singing. Heartwarming story of a boy who finds and takes care of an abandoned baby girl.
★★★☆☆ Natiki (Namaqualand, South Africa) - Parminder Nagra An African version of Cinderella.
★★☆☆☆ The Mantis and the Moon (San, South Africa) - Forest Whitaker A mantis tries to capture the moon.
★★☆☆☆ How Hlakanyana Outwitted the Monster (Nguni, South Africa) - Sean Hayes How Hlakanyana outwitted the hare was more interesting than him outwitting the monster.
★★☆☆☆ The Message (Namibia) - Charlize Theron Greed leads to the garbling of a message of comfort and hope into one that compounds grief and desolation.
★★★☆☆ The Wolf Queen (Cape Malay) - Benjamin Bratt A girl requests a silver dress, then a gold one, then a diamond dress to put off having to reject the sultan's marriage proposal as she was already in love with another. She eventually shapeshifts with the help of a wolfskin.
★★★☆☆ The Snake Chief (West Africa/Zululand, South Africa) - Scarlet Johansson Never make bargains you don't intend to fulfil, especially if it involves gifting a family member to a stranger, the snake. Luckily it was a Frog Prince story - the snake turns into a human because a virtuous girl had accepted him.
★★★★☆ King Lion's Gifts (Khoi, Southern Africa) - Ricardo Chavira How the animals came to look and sound the way they do. The King Lion bestowed gifts such as suits and laughs upon them.
★★☆☆☆ Words As Sweet As Honey from Sankhambi (Venda, South Africa) - Debra Messing How monkeys gained their muscular physique.
★★★☆☆ Sakunaka, the Handsome Young Man (Zimbabwe) - LeTanya Richardson Jackson Great narrator. A selfish mother depriving her son of a wife for fear of losing him to another woman. Sad that the mother had to die. Why couldn't she live with or near her son after he'd married?
★★★★☆ Wolf and Jackal and the Barrel of Butter (Cape Dutch) - Hugh Jackman Awesome narration. Poor wolf didn't know he'd been hoodwinked by the Jackal.
★★★★☆ The Guardian of the Pool (Central Africa/Zululand, South Africa) - Gillian Anderson A daughter uses her mother's multiple sacrifices to keep her child alive to give her the strength to take a risk to save her mother's life. Another Frog Prince story.
★★★☆☆ Sannie Langtand and the Visitor (South African English) - C.C.H. Pounder Excellent narration. Time travel. Dragonflight. Flying carpets.
★★★★☆ The Sultan's Daughter (Cape Malay) - Blair Underwood Excellent narrator. Lovely story and moral; doing a kindness when there is no chance of reward.
★★★☆☆ Van Hunks and the Devil (Cape Dutch) - LeVar Burton Urban legend explaining why there's smoke around Table Mountain.
★★☆☆☆ The Clever Snake Charmer (Morocco) - Samuel L. Jackson Great narration. Not as clever as I'd hoped, except for the tiny donkey. He just gives vague answers to riddles and questions posed by the king.
★★☆☆☆ The Enchanting Song of the Magical Bird (Tanzania) - Jurnee Smullett Children sometimes see and hear truths where adults hear only lies.
★★☆☆☆ The Hare and the Tree Spirit (Xhosa, South Africa) - Sophie Okenado A girl is struck dumb after unknowingly she was cursed by an old woman who'd tripped over the girl's rubbish. A hare hoodwinks a man into providing him fresh green meals, until he feels guilty and makes good on the deal he made by helping the girl regain her voice.
★★★★☆ The Mother Who Turned to Dust (Malawi) - Helen Mirren A unique human origin story.
★★★★☆ Fesito Goes to Market (Uganda) - Don Cheadle Telling the difference between those who take advantage of you and those who genuinely need help, and overcoming great difficulty to succeed. Great narration.
Niggling downsides to the audio are: narrators are not introduced nor is the origin of the each tale, the stories are in a radically different order to the paperback and not all of the stories in the paperback are bundled into the audio. Ten are missing, five of which can be found on Audible for which I paid an extra £7:
★★★★☆ The Cat Who Came Indoors (Zimbabwe) - Helen Mirren Even if you're not a cat lover, you'll like this origin story of the cat-human relationship.
★★★★☆ The Lion, the Hare, and the Hyena (Kenya) - Alan Rickman Don't try to break up a relationship in order to befriend one of your victims, it could turn out badly for you.
★★★☆☆ Spider and the Crows (Nigeria) - Don Cheadle Greed can make friends into enemies and leave you rich but without allies.
★★★☆☆ Mmadipetsane (Lesotho) - Alfre Woodard Excellent narration. A disobedient girl dances with danger by encroaching on a monster's territory despite warnings from her mother, until her luck runs out.
★☆☆☆☆ The Cloud Princess (Swaziland) - Matt Damon Stockholm Syndrome. Princess wants to marry her captor. He follows her back to her kingdom where the king tries several times to have him murdered until he decides to return to his home. The princess follows and their gifted with a village of people who worship them.
The others found only in the paperback are:
➛ The Great Thirst (San, South Africa) ➛ Mmutla and Phiri (Botswana) ➛ Kamiyo of the River (Transkei, South Africa) ➛ The Snake with the Seven Heads (Xhosa, South Africa) ➛ The Hare's Revenge (Zambia)
*Read as part of The Dead Writers Society's Around the World challenge....more
Once upon a time, a young naive princess unwittingly encounters a giant disembodied penis in her bed, poking her in the butt. She has no idea what itOnce upon a time, a young naive princess unwittingly encounters a giant disembodied penis in her bed, poking her in the butt. She has no idea what it is as she’s been kept in the dark about male anatomy and sex by her stubborn father, the king. All she knows is that she likes the way it feels...between her breasts and legs much to the shock/horror of her family. Moral: Sex Education is good. Forewarned is forearmed and all that.
Anyway, Prince Rupert hearing of her innocence and virtue begins to court the princess but all she wants to do is spend time with her penis. One kiss and the penis is now attached to a man –Prince Longwood of Shlongdia. Poor Rupert never had a chance against such large family jewels!
You can't help but laugh at the princess's hilarious descriptions and the aunts' knowing comments. ...more
ETA June 2011: Listened to Samuel L. Jackson reading this on YouTube HERE and he narrated it perfectly. Profanity always sounds great when it's cominETA June 2011: Listened to Samuel L. Jackson reading this on YouTube HERE and he narrated it perfectly. Profanity always sounds great when it's coming out of his mouth.
May 28, 2011: The pdf viral is excellent. Funny because it's true. Definitely a bestseller in the making.
From Publishers Weekly: Finally, one book whose buzz began weeks ago and kept rising after its .pdfs went viral, the wildly titled Go the F*** to Sleep by Adam Mansbach, illus. by Ricardo Cortés, from Akashic Books, is still going strong. Consortium president Julie Schaper reports that there are 225,000 copies in print, the pub date has been moved up to mid-June, and almost all the copies are “spoken for.” In addition, movie rights have been optioned and at least six foreign language rights deals have been struck. Dave Mallman, a bookseller at the Next Chapter, called it a “stroke of genius that irreverently expresses the frustrations all parents face when dealing with our beloved but exasperating children.”...more
In my quest to read something by a present day Barbadian author, I came across this free read by Margaret Sisu. Few can write a decent short story witIn my quest to read something by a present day Barbadian author, I came across this free read by Margaret Sisu. Few can write a decent short story with a satisfying ending. Sisu delivered the goods, providing a commentary on 1950s African American life and the hypocrisy of clergymen - the evil done by supposedly 'good' men. I'm pleased to say that there's none of that white-man-hates-on-black-man trope here. (Huh. I think the only other majority black cast fiction I've read without this trope is Alice Walker's The Color Purple.)
Although I'm not a fan of the spooky ghost story, it wasn't laboured in any way. Sisu got down to business and I appreciate that.
Ginny is a soil scientist forced into a lengthy vacation. She spends it in an old homestead on the outskirts of a small town in Alabama. A strange incorporeal voice and an oddly barren and unmarked grave send her investigating the former owner of her vacation home. While we follow Ginny in the 1990s we also have the 1950s point of view from Herman, the man whose grave she's curious about. His story is that of a scapegoat. And no, he isn't unjustly judged by the racist white man, he's judged by a black conservative preacher.
Herman is an honest outcast. He sets himself apart by his self-educated freethinking and erudite ways. Attending church is unnecessary to him because God is everywhere. Why pray in church when he can pray from the comfort of his property? When he isn't working he's reading, writing poetry or chatting secretly to Ebony on one of her regular visits to his place.
These innocent visits are moments of freedom for Ebony. She rails against her father's restrictive post-high school plan for her: to stay in the close-minded and claustrophobic town, marry and have babies. At odds with this are her dreams: to escape to the big city and become a singer. In Herman she has a friend who listens and understands. Herman is enchanted by Ebony's voice, her beauty and her spirit. He's shy when it comes to sharing his poetry and he'll do anything to make her happy, including driving her out of town so she can follow her dreams.
What Herman didn't bank on was the vindictive animosity of her father. On the basis of a man's poor eyesight, Mr. Preacher Man riles up the locals into believing Herman raped and murdered his baby girl. Some decide it's time to go a'huntin'. Frightened and unwilling to give Ebony up, Herman runs. Unfortunately he trips and accidentally shoots himself dead. What rankles is the twist.
On Ebony's arrival in New York City, she calls her father to tell him she's okay. He knew she was safe and well, yet he takes his anger out on an innocent man, causing his death. Because if the accident hadn't happened we know Herman was going to die the minute his pursuers caught up to him.
Afterwards, the preacher has the nerve to drop a major guilt trip on his daughter by visiting her with the news that Herman had committed suicide due to his unrequited love for Ebony and proceeds to sever all ties with her. This is the reason why Herman's spirit cannot rest.
Back in the 90s Ginny finds and meets Ebony, informing her of the truth. Ebony returns to the small town to quash the vicious rumour that still prevails. And Herman's barren grave becomes as lusciously green as his father's beside him, as he's finally at rest....more
Polar bears in drag. Zombie birds. Pink glass dogs. Baum's politically incorrect fairy tales have them all. Stereotypical Italian criminals aside, I ePolar bears in drag. Zombie birds. Pink glass dogs. Baum's politically incorrect fairy tales have them all. Stereotypical Italian criminals aside, I enjoyed these stories of bargains gone wrong and villains reaping what they sow, with morals preaching against the seven deadly sins.
★★★☆☆ The Box of Robbers Think Pandora's Box with the demonisation of female curiosity. Instead of plagues we have Italian robbers who once released, set about doing what they do best.
"It is rather hard to get positions in the gas office," she said, "but you might become politicians."
"No!" cried Beni, with sudden fierceness; "we must not abandon our high calling. Bandits we have always been, and bandits we must remain!"
Haha! Bandit is certainly a more respectable profession than politician.
★★★★★ The Glass Dog Bargaining, how not to do it. And the downside of vanity and greed. A complex tale sparked off by a wizard's animated pink glass dog. My favourite story.
★★★★★ The Queen of Quok A 10-year-old boy king is forced into an arranged marriage when his royal aids auction off the title of Queen to a rich woman to fill the pockets of his greedy, spendthrift hangers-on.
"Can't I marry a mother, instead?" asked the poor little king, who had lost his mother when a baby.
"Certainly not," declared the counselor. "To marry a mother would be illegal; to marry a wife is right and proper."
Aww. Poor child.
The king was so disturbed at the thought that he must marry this hideous creature that he began to wail and weep; whereupon the woman boxed his ears soundly. But the counselor reproved her for punishing her future husband in public, saying:
"You are not married yet. Wait until to-morrow, after the wedding takes place. Then you can abuse him as much as you wish. But at present we prefer to have people think this is a love match."
A love match? Between a decrepit old woman and a 10-year-old boy? I love that this tale swaps stereotypical gender and age expectations. You'd expect an old man to marry a girl-child rather than vice versa.
My second favourite tale.
★★☆☆☆ The Girl Who Owned a Bear Illustrations come to life and leap off the pages of a book opened by a little girl after it was given to her as a revenge gift aimed at her father. One of them, a bear, tries to eat the girl. She claims ownership of him as her name is on the book. If she owns the book, she owns the bear. This uncomfortably brought to mind the horrors of slavery.
★★★☆☆ The Enchanted Types The slavery theme is continued here. Animal cruelty in the name of fashion. Those poor zombie birds. Interfering with alien cultural norms is tricky.
★★★★☆ The Laughing Hippopotamus Slavery again. A man captures a young hippo prince and coerces him into accepting a bargain: release on condition of promising to return to the man when the hippo reaches adulthood, to be slaughtered or enslaved. Bondage doesn't sit well and the slaver faces the same fate he issued to the hippo.
★★★☆☆ The Magic Bon Bons Don't judge someone based on transient unusual behaviour. And don't be careless with what you value as precious.
★☆☆☆☆ The Capture of Father Time Although I didn't enjoy this tale of a child capturing Father Time, effectively stopping time, and then proceeding to engineer pranks for when time starts again, I can see this may have been a new concept back in 1901.
★★★☆☆ The Wonderful Pump Everyone's heard of the crass, ostentatious displays of New Money. By showing off you risk others stealing what you have. Be grateful for what you have and don't be greedy for more.
★☆☆☆☆ The Dummy That Lived A shop mannequin is brought to life at the whim of a fae and is absolutely clueless about the world and everything in it. Again, this was probably a relatively new idea at the time of publication but I didn't enjoy it.
★★★☆☆ The King of the Polar Bears Don't judge polar bears dressed in drag. He's no less a respectable polar bear for covering himself with feathers.
★★☆☆☆ The Mandarin and The Butterfly Karma justly rewards a racist for his actions against children....more
Length, laziness and/or problems meeting the deadline killed this short story, originally published as part of The Mammoth Books of Scottish Romance.Length, laziness and/or problems meeting the deadline killed this short story, originally published as part of The Mammoth Books of Scottish Romance. Quite frankly, it's an embarrassment to the author as I suspect Ms. Barbosa is capable of producing something of much higher quality.
We witness little of the requisite growth of affection between the main characters nor enough endearments to seduce readers into believing in their burgeoning but ultimately contrived relationship. Time spent together on stage is short and therefore gives the impression that any and all relationship progress is insanely rushed.
Poor structure sees us meet the characters after Duncan catches Reva/Jamie during a raid on his homestead and both feel attraction at first sight. He holds her hostage hoping to loosen her tongue with kindness so she'll spill the names of the other raiders. Jump 6 weeks into the future, they have a one night stand with I Love Yous after which the heroine escapes captivity only to be reunited with Duncan two months later, rounded off with a happy ever after.
Strangely, Duncan didn't feel lied to, used and abandoned when Reva distracts him with sex to escape. Being a virgin apparently gave her a Get Out of Jail free card. Her excuse was her heritage. As a member of the family that slaughtered his kin and injuring himself in battle, Reva/Jamie believed he'd never accept her or stop hunting her fellow raiders and family members - his mortal enemies. Understandable.
Duncan claims he'll overcome his grudge for the love of his good woman. I would've loved to have been in his head when faced with those who'd killed his father and stolen his livestock. Swallowing those insults to his honour would be painfully challenging.
Described events between the two families are actually based on real Scottish history, if not these characters or their romance. Normally, this would garner my favour not only for the story but for the author as too many fail to do a little research for their books. It's a shame The Reiver was so underdeveloped as it had the potential to be something more....more
Sold is a lyrically beautiful and graphically descriptive story of an innocent 13-year-old Nepalese girl from the mountains, sold by her oppressive gaSold is a lyrically beautiful and graphically descriptive story of an innocent 13-year-old Nepalese girl from the mountains, sold by her oppressive gambling addict step-father and trafficked into India to become a prostitute in a brothel run by a woman with no morals. There, Lakshmi's body is sold for the price of a Coca-Cola - a luxury she'd once cherished as a poor country girl. When she'd left home, she'd believed she was to become a maid in a rich woman's household in the big city where she could save and send money home to her beloved mother and her baby brother. The reality is soul-crushing. She's told so many lies she doesn't know what to believe.
Justine Eyre's narration is wonderful. I truly believed she was from that part of the world, but it turns out she's just great with accents. I was transfixed by her voice. Lakshmi's pain and horror at her situation is palpable. What makes it worse: once a prostitute, always a prostitute. There's no going home to your family if you manage to escape. You'll be shunned for bringing shame and dishonour to them. The only way out is HIV and death. As Lakshmi's fellow prostitutes fall prey to these, she eventually becomes the one to have resided in the brothel the longest. She survives her sexually-transmitted disease and endures the daily humiliations in the hopes of one day being free.
My only criticism: that Americans were Lakshmi's saviours. The white man. Considering the Author's Note at the end, describing how ex-prostitutes patrol the Nepal-India border and the work of various organisations (like this one) who work with the governments of these nations, it would be much easier to infiltrate these despicable places if the 'rescuers' were Indian themselves.
A cleverly written, Tim Burton-eque fast-paced magical mystery with witty dialogue, and a beautifully eye-catching cover.
Mr. Skullduggery Pleasant isA cleverly written, Tim Burton-eque fast-paced magical mystery with witty dialogue, and a beautifully eye-catching cover.
Mr. Skullduggery Pleasant is a vengeful detective, a living skeleton with a wicked way with sarcasm, introducing Stephanie (a.k.a. Valkyrie), an intelligent, resourceful, and inquisitive young girl, into the supernatural world her now deceased uncle was once apart.
The theatrically funny reactions of Stephanie's greedy family members to the reading of her bestselling author uncle's will hooked me into listening to Rupert Degas's masterful narration of Skullduggery Pleasant.
"There's something about you, Valkyrie. I'm not quit sure what it is. I look at you and..." "And you're reminded of yourself when you were my age?" "Hmm? Oh, no, what I was going to say is there's something about you really annoying, and you never do what you're told, and sometimes I question your intelligence, but even so I'm going to train you, because I like having someone follow me around like a puppy. It makes me feel good about myself." She rolled her eyes. "You are such a moron." "Don't be jealous of my genius." "Can you get over yourself for just a moment?" "If only that were possible." "For a guy with no internal organs, you've got quite the ego." "And for a girl who can't stand up without falling over, you're quite the critic." "My leg will be fine." "And my ego will flourish. What a pair we are."
I enjoyed SP and Stephanie's new and easy partnership in the supernatural detective business, saving the world from monstrous and magical bad guys, the first being Nefarian Serpine - the man who killed SP's wife and child, then tortured him to death. You see, he likes to leave a lot of bodies in his wake in his quest to bring back The Faceless Ones.
I wasn't particularly invested in the action, but I liked the way in which Stephanie learned how to navigate this new and interesting world, seizing opportunities, taking risks, and figuring out who she can and can't trust.
While many clichés are criticised by Landy, he still uses a fair few of them in his story, though Stephanie's endearing maturity, unexpected turncoats, the comedic elements, and the more violent and horrific aspects of the novel, do attempt to make up for it.
Set after the Moon Trilogy, I enjoyed this more-so than those books. It was the slow burn that did it. The hero and heroine don't get together until 5Set after the Moon Trilogy, I enjoyed this more-so than those books. It was the slow burn that did it. The hero and heroine don't get together until 5 years after they first met, and the hero is the alpha of the Cat Clan -that's some self-control!
However, when Wheeler found Emma she was a mess. Damaged by the one who had turned her and forced to kill him to escape, and then with no advice or support she was doing her best to survive on her own. She didn't trust anyone, especially not some strange Cat Alpha. It took her a very long time to even step on to the Cat compound and even longer to become part of their community.
But because of the Alpha's obvious interest in her no one could get close enough to her to become her confidante and therefore impart valuable information on mating so she didn't understand the alpha's interest in her!
I loved the retrospective scenes where we come to understand Emma's background and her relationships and position with the Cat Clan. She may be a small wereanimal as an ocelot but she's fierce and cunning.
My Favourite Scene Security conscious Emma is an Ocelot to Wheeler's lazy, arrogant Lion.
'The economy of movement through the leaves of the tree made little noise, but it was enough that Wheeler turned his massive leonine head in her direction. The sight if a thirty-five pound ocelot flying directly at him must have been disconcerting. The comical expression on the feline face would have been rib-tickling if Emma could have taken a moment to stop and consider it. He was amazed that Emma was doing what she had done. The with bruising force, she abrubtly connected with his body, wrapping her claws around his neck, digging into his back with her rear legs in a manner that made Wheeler suddenly erupt with fury. She bit his neck as he leapt upward, bucking her like a horse with an unruly rider. Sharply, Emma spun on his back and raced backward down his spine, leaping over his violently slashing tail into the brush. Wheeler roared. So much for his serenity. Mere seconds later he was bellowing after her, "Emma, goddammit! What the hell was that?!"'
There's nothing like a bit of necrophilia in the morning.
Our RoboZombies (the zombies are actually referred to as 'steins', as in Frankenstein)don'tThere's nothing like a bit of necrophilia in the morning.
Our RoboZombies (the zombies are actually referred to as 'steins', as in Frankenstein) don't decompose and still retain all of their bodily functions so there are no ball sacks falling off during fellatio or penises detaching mid-coitus (oh look a new dildo!) so my tea and toast stayed happily in my stomach.
Our heroine, Josie, is a newly made RoboZombie sex doll. Her memories have been wiped in favour of rudimentary programming to engineer her to need, and be submissive to, a 'husband'. Her obviously abusive maker had no other use for her than that. Free will is only for the living. She's child-like in her curiosity and discovery of new concepts and sensations, but she's very much able to learn and grow beyond her original programming.
The hero, turned Peeping Tom during recon, is also a RoZo of the soldier / assassin variety with PTSD, employed by a pro-free will organisation. Bane's been working towards earning a memory and programming reset to relieve his mental anguish to become blissfully ignorant of the deeds he's done while his free will was taken from him.
Bane's mission is to retrieve the heroine from her maker by any means necessary before an evil RoZo corporation can swoop in and recover the scientist and his research. As the heroine had been designed to require biofeedback via touch and an electronic mental connection from a husband, the hero has to fill that hole role to prevent her programming from degrading to the point of leaving her a lifeless rotting corpse.
It's important to note that Bane doesn't rape Josie, the very thought disgusts him. Josie's personality, that of a 'virtual child', also unnerves him so he's very careful about how he handles her, leaving Josie to decide what she wants.
I'm riding the line between love and hate, hiding in the no-man's-land of meh. Predictable paranormal romance that isn't too cheesy, worldbuilding and character development of the supporting cast is lacking, but it possesses an interesting, and I suppose plausible, possibility of cyborg RoboZombies in the future. I'd still take Langlais's cyborgs over Harris's though.
But all idealism faded if exposed to enough reality.
This was an accidental download (thank god it was free!) as I was browsing on my phone which I checked out to see what it was like before deleting butThis was an accidental download (thank god it was free!) as I was browsing on my phone which I checked out to see what it was like before deleting but continued to read instead. I was sucked in. ("Oh it's going to be 4 stars at least!")
A third in and I was tiring of the amazing writing style that had me reading in the first place. It was quirky and journalistic (both William and the author are journalists) that has you smirking and laughing as you nod your head in agreement with whatever calamity has just befallen this poor couple. This style meant the tone of the book remained the same throughout which led to it becoming monotonous. For a short article this would be fine but not for a novel.("Maybe 3 stars?")
William and Isobel face numerous challenges as they settle into married life including besotted best friends (Alex's unrequited love for Isobel) and crazy stalker ex-f*ck buddies (Saskia who mistakes herself for an ex-girlfriend).
Later, I became exasperated with the Alex situation and later the Saskia problem. (view spoiler)[It was obvious Alex was more of an evil mastermind than William thought. How could he know the things he did otherwise? (hide spoiler)] I predicted the ending but not the way in which previously evil characters turned around, apologised and sobbed their way into becoming the architects for a happy ending. ("Oh dear, 2 stars.")
Being from the UK and a regular visitor to the London setting helped me understand the humour. I related to and sympathised with these aspects but I wouldn't say that this book has international appeal because there are too many references to British culture and it's icons, for instance the Ann Widdecombe sex gears gag. Not many people are going to know who she is without reaching out to Google for help.
Basically this book is a string of amusing observations, most of which are common anecdotal stereotypes. However, there are some absolutely hilarious ones which made this worth reading but I doubt I'll buy the sequel William's Progress: Another (sleepless) Horror Story, which plays on the ending of this one.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more