An absolutely brilliant sequel to Pack Challenge. It's intelligent, funny (my ribs are sore from laughing so hard) and incredibly sweet without being...moreAn absolutely brilliant sequel to Pack Challenge. It's intelligent, funny (my ribs are sore from laughing so hard) and incredibly sweet without being overly so.
Miki is shockingly honest with no filter between her brain and her mouth but she's ball-bustingly tough (scary tough) and Mensa-smart so she's great to have in an impossible situation. Her geek friends are also scary, they may be wimpy in appearance but they sure can ruin your life if you get on their bad side. You gotta love 'em for their bravery in threatening Connall to take good care of Miki.
Connall was amazing, he didn't take Miki's comments too much to heart, he played her games and accepted all of her unwitting challenges. He pursued her with kind of determination you have to respect, only a brave man like him had the balls (and the willingness to lose them) to take on Miki. Whereas Miki is all work, Connall is all play so they made a wonderful match.
There are so many ROTFL moments that this is most definitely a keeper to read on dark days to cheer me up.(less)
She is a PMS-Demon Slayer. Fighting the good fight for woman-kind. (May also treat male PMS too. Sex, with fast cars, how can they not like it?)
This woman knows how to instantly put you at ease and have you laughing your head off consistently throughout. And after you've finished, you'll find yourself still chuckling over the antics of her colourful characters.
Although Sissy Mae isn't one of my favourite leads, I loved her friendship with Mitch, which turned friends-with-benefits to lovers-for-life-with-a-shared-sex-addiction. If only I could find a man like that. Sigh.
I love the strong sense of family and community in these books, closing ranks and turning on the enemy outsiders even when you don't get along with the ones you're protecting.
The characters have strong personalities linked to their animal and the women are...uh...evil. Even the men are scared and rightly so. They are Crazy. Never, ever get on their bad side. Ever!
The stories may be predictable but they are always entertaining.
Words that will forever trigger laughing fits related to this book: crocodile, tug-of-war, wedgies and NASCAR. I'm now sporting a huge grin. (less)
Dark illustrations enhancing highly emotive topics expertly written and presented in a wonderfully tactile and beautiful...moreOh, I need a hug.
Dark illustrations enhancing highly emotive topics expertly written and presented in a wonderfully tactile and beautiful book.
A Monster Calls is an important and powerful piece of artwork, an absolute must read for every child. It deals with death, divorce, alienation, bullying, guilt, blame, the weight of responsibilty and basically the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Everyone has or will experience these things and Conor's anxious journey through this complicated maze of thoughts and emotions perfectly demonstrates the reality of dealing with the obstacles in life in the most touching manner possible. This sense of depth and painful truths is not something you usually see in children's books which makes this even more special.(less)
Yelena was convicted of murdering a General’s son and was sentenced to death. As she is walking to her death she is redirected to Valek’s (chief of se...moreYelena was convicted of murdering a General’s son and was sentenced to death. As she is walking to her death she is redirected to Valek’s (chief of security) office where she is offered a choice: the noose or becoming the food taster for the Commander. Only the next convict sent to their death after the predecessor has died can become the new food taster as it is a death sentence anyway. Yelena accepts Valek’s offer but she is not only in danger from possible poisons in the Commander’s food but her life is threatened by the grieving General whose son she killed.
When Yelena was convicted no one knew her motive for the murder so everyone believes she is a cold-blooded killer, though Valek rightly begins to suspect otherwise. In this society any unnatural death is murder and therefore the punishment is always execution.
I was intrigued by the political structure in this society. The monarchy was overthrown by the current Commander and a new military structure was put into place. It seems like a very communist society for example, every child at age 12 is assigned a job based on their skills and is entered into training and every person must wear a uniform according to their political and social standing. This is very different to most of the fantasy books I have read.
Yelena was very well written. She is a victim to begin with, she would run away at the first sign of trouble but as she is put in more and more danger she decides to find people to teach her some fighting skills. She becomes more confident and stands up to those that are bullying her.
This is a very easy to read fantasy with plenty of action and adventure as well as a slow burning romance. A brilliant start to the Study series. (less)
Laura Bates brings issues of harassment, assault and abuse of both men and women to light, after being deluged with submissions to her website and Tw...more
Laura Bates brings issues of harassment, assault and abuse of both men and women to light, after being deluged with submissions to her website and Twitter accounts. Seemingly small incidents of off-hand remarks can feel like the death of a thousand cuts when they happen everyday in every facet of your life. These sexist ouccrences happen so often and are so insidious and pervasive in Western society that they've become normalised to the point we feel silly for being upset about instances others brush off and disheartened when our complaints are ignored. All of this undermines confidence and erodes self-esteem. Even if we don't realise it, we've all witnessed sexism - on the street, in the media, at school and work, and now online with social media and comment forums. As Bates says, 'Enough is enough'.
Sexism is more socially acceptable than racism. Misogyny and misandry. Men get their own chapter but instances of misandry are sprinkled throughout. Bates doesn't just focus on the stereotypical, she points out that women can rape men, women can rape other women, and that men can be feminists.
Huh. Reading your post, I realise now that I experienced sexual harassment at 18 in my first office job - I've never thought of it as being that before. He was a 40-year-old client who publicly harassed me in front of my colleagues. I had no idea what to do because he was also a friend of my boss and almost everyday he would come in for an hour after he'd finished work, every time hitting on me and trying to shame me into submission because I was so young and inexperienced - I'd yet to have a proper boyfriend. This went on for months until my only female colleague told the boss, and suddenly the man didn't come in as much. I didn't tell any friends or family because I found it deeply embarrassing that I couldn't handle it.
As a result, I changed my behaviour towards men, practically fearful of them for years afterwards; making as little eye contact as possible in case I was encouraging any of them, and always making sure I wasn't showing flesh or wearing too much make-up. But I'd still attract the creepers. I look very young for my age - as in not legal - and every now and then an older man will approach me. The worst was when I was in the YA section of the library (I get approached there alot so I don't go in much now) where a man said he wanted to be "my friend". I had Pippi Longstocking-style plaits/braids at the time and was wearing teenage clothes precisely to deter attention.
But that's not all.
Age 12, holidaying in the Seychelles, a native reaches out to touch my left breast "They're coming in nicely," she says. Age 18, Freshers Week at uni saw a guy banging on my dorm room door for ten minutes shouting that my room used to be his and he wanted to see inside again. I didn't open the door. Age 19, being followed around a clothing store then out into the street. Quick thinking had me walk into the well-staffed John Lewis which he refused to enter, instead waiting for me outside. I left via another exit. Age 21, interviewed by a lecherous man who couldn't take his eyes off my chest. Was offered the job immediately. Despite the huge increase in salary and intriguing career-making job description, I turned it down.
Then there are the occasions when a man asks "where's that smile?" or "smile, might never happen" which somehow gave rise to 'bitchy resting face' which only appears to affect women. Hmm.
Sadly, as the majority of the perpetrators of the incidents that left the biggest impressions on me have been Pakistani and seemingly African immigrants (I live in a town with large communities of both), I'm wary of men from similar backgrounds.
83 per cent of Egyptian women report experiencing sexual harassment in the street. Egyptian Center for Women's Rights, 2008
More like 100%. I visited Sharm El-Sheik in November 2008. Worst. holiday. ever. I needed another holiday to get over the stress of that one. The Lonely Planet Egypt guide dedicated just a couple of sentences in the safety section on the street harassment of women so naively I believed it wouldn't be a problem. Nothing prepared me for what I experienced. I've very briefly talked about this before.
I travelled there with only my sister while in our early 20s. Big mistake. We were harassed every day. We didn't even have to leave our hotel room to witness it. We saw it from our balconies. Men clustered around the pool and the massage tables openly staring at women. Men calling after us in the street, trying to get us to follow them down dark alleys in that creepily cliched way we were warned of as children. They took every chance to touch us, to compliment us, to grill us about our marital status. A wedding ring or a husband standing by your side didn't necessarily protect you. (I was surprised the husbands tolerated the blatant disrespect of their wives, I kept hoping the offenders would receive a bloody nose or a black eye.)
I received multiple marriage proposals, me more so than my sister, we reasoned that was because she was gobby while I was quiet and observant, constantly looking out for grabby hands and other dangers. As for assault, my sister's breasts were manhandled. She tried to let it roll off her but I could tell it was starting to get to her. We decided to abandon our plans to visit Cairo and the pyramids - too risky. Would I ever go back? No. I don't want to feel like I need intimidating bodyguards to feel safe walking down the street or relaxing on the beach. No wonder native women didn't leave the house, the one or two I did see wore stiflingly hot burkas.
For awhile now I've held the belief that our deeply ingrained gendered stereotypes beaten into us as children and reinforced by society at large, are the main contributor to society's inability to accept the transgendered. Gender should be a matter of biology alone with none of the additional spurious and unequal social expectations, that if not met, leaves those 'failures' vulnerable to public disapproval and condemnation.
This is my new top 5 of non-fiction feminist reads:
Okay, so Everyday Sexism took me 3 weeks to read it because I had to pause for a mental swig of spirits every now and then when the rage overcame me, but I can assure you this is a 5-star read that I recommend to all.
Words, words, where are the words? How can I describe this?
Amazing. Awe-inspiring. Heart-achingly beautiful.
The writing, the language, the emotions and imagination -this is a work of pure genius.
I can't tell you how long I've waited to read something so completely original and inspiring.
And it's a self-contained novel. No unanswered questions that won't be satisfied in a sequel due out in a year. Oh, the glee.
It's not possible for me to go in to detail because I would give away too much. You really need to go in blind and discover that R. J. Anderson deserves an award, many awards. And of course, the tools to write yet another piece of art I can admire, clutch tightly in my hands and call it my precious.
Go read this. Beg, borrow or steal it if you have to, it's worth the jail time, I promise. Go now. I'll see you on the other side.(less)
Bought this a few years ago when I was seconded to the accounting department for 18 months. I studied this book and was very impressed with how many q...moreBought this a few years ago when I was seconded to the accounting department for 18 months. I studied this book and was very impressed with how many questions are available to try and answer, plenty of theory and practice so that even a complete beginner like myself could understand.
Fast-forward to 2011 and I'm doing a 3-month starter course in accounting. The materials given to me were appalling so I dug this out and hey presto! I'm not as dumb as I thought. Mostly. A life-saver. (less)
Holy crap! I cannot believe how good that was. And it was a short story too! Is it even possible to write something so...so emotional? So understandab...moreHoly crap! I cannot believe how good that was. And it was a short story too! Is it even possible to write something so...so emotional? So understandable? So relateable? In just a few pages. Even the world-building was superb. It was over in a flash and yet I want more. I'm hungry for it. I felt for the main character, Viola. She was only 12/13. I wanted to cry for her. I'm so happy I all ready have The Knife of Never Letting Go!(less)
It's been a few years since I read this so forgive me if I get something wrong. As a woman I found this terrifying because of the possibility that thi...moreIt's been a few years since I read this so forgive me if I get something wrong. As a woman I found this terrifying because of the possibility that this could happen. I live in an all-female household in the UK, we're independent, I could never see myself ever being able to rely on a man for everything I need. We've fought for the rights to work, spend our own money and enjoy the same freedoms as men.
Offred, stripped of her husband who may have been murdered and separated from her daughter, watching her being raised by strangers was horrible. When she is forced to have sex with the Commander I wondered why she had to, couldn't they do the turkey baster thing instead? Or was this just another way to degrade women and for the men to get their jollies - even if the wives had to be present? If they got pregnant, having your baby taken away from you is even more dehumanising. To be treated as an object and one that is not particularly valued is awful.
But then even the men were emasculated, like Nick, he had very little power and if you stepped out of line your head would end up on a pike on the fences. The Commander himself was a coward, despite his greater freedom he didn't seem to like how things were and taking her out to that secret club was for his benefit not hers - he wanted to alleviate his guilt by trying to keep this handmaid from suicide. His wife didn't approve either, who wants to watch their husband have sex with another woman and have their reproductive rights taken away from them? Though I know fertility problems amongst the people were one of the main issues here.
I think in a post-9/11 world this book is even more terrifying. There seem to be many more extremists (religious and otherwise), gender inequalities in other cultures have been highlighted as have corrupt governments and dictators who run societies where violence and persecution are apart of everyday life. So if this sort of society exists elsewhere, it could happen here too.
When I read this as a teenager this book did more to scare me than any blood and guts horror book ever could. An incredibly disturbing and shocking read.(less)
Thank you for this book. I see you're growing beyond the boundaries of paranormal romance and straying into urb...moreDear Ms. Laurenston (A.K.A. Ms. Aiken),
Thank you for this book. I see you're growing beyond the boundaries of paranormal romance and straying into urban fantasy and horror (See, I added this to my horror shelf). Some may say you focused a little more on the war than the romance, but I valued the descriptions of that war and the further character development of Annywl, Eibhear, and the children (Talan, Talwyn and Rhianwen) far, far more than the very funny but not all-consuming romance.
Never have I admired a female warrior, hunter or assassin more than Annwyl. She stole the limelight away from Rhona and Vigholf in this one. Focus and determination; pushing beyond her own physical and mental limitations; the willingness to torture, lopping off limbs and penises (of rapists); sacrificing the few to save the many, even the safety of her own children, an incredibly tough decision to make, all for the welfare of her people, human and dragon alike.
"It means she's amazing -and terrifying. Annwyl kills without question, rules with an iron fist, and has little patience for anyone. She can be cruel, she can be loving, she can be heartless, and she can care too much. She is blindingly loyal, but demands the same loyalty from everyone and is devastated when she doesn't receive it."
Annywl may seem more batshit crazy than brave, and also appears incredibly arrogant and unlikeable to some but if I could be any fictional character Annwyl would be one of my choices, despite the hardships she's suffered.
'There was a time Annwyl would laugh at that kind of reaction. She was only as crazy as she needed to be to get the job done, she's often tell her mate. But these days, Annwyl was beginning to feel as crazy as everyone thought she was. Probably the loss of sleep. She was pretty sure one needed sleep, to function properly. How could she expect to function properly when she couldn't sleep? When they wouldn't let her sleep. Why wouldn't they let her sleep?'
Annwyl's reunion with her mate and then her children brought a tear to my eye. She's not one to cry or bitch and moan so when she finally broke down after all the pressure she was under, I completely understood and sympathised.
Feminism is a strong theme in many of your books, Ms. Laurenston, and never have you addressed that theme in a manner so right than in this book, where I see true equality between the sexes compared to the age-old ways of the Northlanders' recent-ish past.
The children, oh how I love them so. Their uniqueness, idiosyncrisies, and inherited family traits put together with their youth (6 and 7 years old) innocence (haha, they've all ready killed!) and secret abilities made them adorable and fierce, like their mother. They'll be a ruling trio when they're older and woe betide anyone who gets in their way, with the twins' power of the sword and Rhianwen's mighty power of magic they'll make formidable for formidable enemies. I desperately want to follow their stories, watch them learn and grow.
Eibhear, I felt so sorry for him. He has the biggest conscience and what happened was not his fault. We have never seen him angry, he's a softie which the Northland dragon warriors deplored. Killing wasn't in his nature despite his enormous size, big even for a dragon, until an unforeseen incident, and then pure, unadulterated rage saw him do the uncharacteristic, cutting down every single enemy soldier he could find and even that wasn't enough for him. Rhiannon's attempt and comfort and his conversation with Izzy at the end was supremely sad. I hope Izzy can rouse him from his "emptiness" and make him feel again. Only a few more days to go until their long-awaited book.
I hope you one day write an urban fantasy or horror book, if you do, I'll be first in line to read it. I've very much enjoyed the story arc in your dragon books, and as always your ability to create lovable and distinctive characters who form the most caring and loyal of communities of which I'd love to be apart.
Thank you for becoming a writer and giving me the joy of reading your books which brighten the most crappy of days. Your imaginative sense of humour is much appreciated. (view spoiler)[Vigholf punching the horse unconscious and his battle of wills with the stallion -LMAO! (hide spoiler)]
A Most Devoted Fan["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"]>(less)
Worried about an embarrassing ailment you're too scared to have checked out? Still believe sugar makes your kids hyperactive? Did you know women have prostates?
Fascinating and informative. Everyone should have a copy of this book for reference but I think it would be particularly helpful to teenagers to put them at ease about their body issues and any worries they may be too embarrassed to ask a doctor. Then again, the same can go for adults. Anything to save red faces and awkward moments.
Written in an easy to read and digest "question and answer" format by the doctor who fronts the British TV show 'Supersize Vs Superskinny' in an effort to stop the torrent of questions he's asked while off-duty Can I Just Ask? covers a wide variety of conditions, concerns and even debunks a few myths along the way in the following sections:
General Health Women's Health Men's Health Children's Health The Human Body Skin, Hair & Nails Bowels & Bottoms Diet & Fitness Medicine & Drugs Travel Health Sex* Contraception, Fertility & Hormones Pregnancy & Babies Oddities plus a nice little Index
The advice given is general, sometimes refers to medical studies and always, always encourages you to Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway i.e. seek additional assistance from professionals to ensure you stay healthy. Men, you need to grow a goddamn pair of balls and get your asses to a doctor! There are some stark and frightening statistics concerning male health and death rates. Which would you rather be? Worried and dead or embarrassed and alive? Suck it up, people!
Although some of the statistics do refer to the UK this is only a tiny proportion of the book, the rest is globally accessible and has something for everyone. Even if you're 100% healthy with no worries or concerns there's the Oddities section, the top 10 lists and the "Did you know.." factoids for you to raise your eyebrows at and learn from.
One of the most depressing things I read that other women might sympathise with is that:
Men lose weight more easily than women.
Another reason to hate men. Bastards.
Where's the ice cream?
On the plus side, British women have the biggest breasts in Europe, Italians the smallest. Yes! At least we're winning at something. Most Brits have D cups but, in general, those that get surgical enlargements are more likely to commit suicide.
Mythology has given its names to some interesting disorders: priapism, nymphomania, satyriasis, berserkers, wendigo psychosis, etc. Suicides are not more common at Christmas time. Clones still have unique fingerprints. Aspects of everyday foods can be poisonous. Some people aredeathly allergic to exercise. Coconut water is the real 'water of life'. Eating poppy seeds or using mouthwash can result in a failed drugs test. Men have g-spots. Staring at a woman's breasts can improve a man's health and add years to his life (I question the veracity of that study). There's a sneezing condition called ACHOO -you can't make that crap up! Medical rarities like Synaesthesia, Chimerism and Zoosadism-that shit is sick! And marvels like the immortal cells from Henrietta Lacks. All included in this little book. Intrigued yet?
I can count on one hand how many non-fiction books I've devoured in a matter of hours. It's also the second most highlighted book on my Kindle. (The first is A Game of Thrones, if you're interested.) The only minor negative was a little repetition but the second time a topic was mentioned it usually went into more detail or looked at the subject from a different angle so I can't really complain.
Educational and entertaining. Highly recommended for all.(less)
Wow, I’m so glad I acquired all six of the books (out so far) at the same time. The cliffhanger ending left me so hungry for more that as soon as I fi...moreWow, I’m so glad I acquired all six of the books (out so far) at the same time. The cliffhanger ending left me so hungry for more that as soon as I finished Glass Houses I started reading The Dead Girls’ Dance right after just so I could find out what happened next. For a young adult book and a first in a series I was impressed, it’s rare to find any series that starts with a bang.
I didn’t have a problem with Claire that others have expressed. Her attitude was justified, moving away from home to go to university is tough and to do it at sixteen as a child prodigy must be even harder especially when you are being targeted by a group of murderous bullies. If you wouldn’t feel scared and depressed in that situation then you’re a robot. She was entitled to a little whining.
I haven’t read the whole of Caine’s Weather Warden series but I did read the first book, Ill Wind which wasn’t really something I could get into so if you couldn’t get into it either then you may want to give the Morganville Vampire series a try though I have to warn you it is addictive! (less)
Reactive Attachment Disorder is an incredibly sad thing because it's the hallmark of neglect, parental and otherwise, sometimes leading to 'excessive familiarity with relative strangers' to fulfil the all-consuming need for love, attention and affection they've never received. Witnessing Mandy forming unhealthy attachments to people she's just met is excruciating. Once you hear her story, you just want to pull her away from her old life and insecurities, give her a hug, take her home and take care of her and her unborn baby.
I felt for each and every one of the characters. They may not be the most likeable in the world but they're real, complicated and going through terrible times. I understood why each acted as they did: why Jill rejected the notion of her mother adopting a baby so soon after her dad died, why Robin (Jill's mother) wanted to do this and why she didn't go through legal channels to do so, and why Mandy lied so she could find a loving home for her baby to grow up in, thereby preventing her from suffering the same childhood she did and growing up to be like her or her mother.
I sympathised with Jill. Struggling with her identity, redefining herself after her dad's death and figuring out what she wants and who she wants to be is difficult enough, but then having to accept this new person into your life who'll provide you with a baby sister, puts on even more pressure to come to terms with her grief, with her future and the need to move on, embrace life and take risks again.
It's a deeply moving and depressing read, so much so that I was desperate for the predictable happily ever after. Thankfully, I got it. I would've been pretty mad if I hadn't. A new family and a new beginning is formed from the wreckage of four lives, bringing me to tears with the emotive subject matters of abuse, grief and fear for the future and the truly deep and realistic observations in the writing, together with fact that four lives, not one or two, are saved, make this a rare and favourite read.(less)