Don't be fooled by that Sarah Dessenesque cover, lovelies. There's no fluffy, innocent pu...moreYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian!
Don't be fooled by that Sarah Dessenesque cover, lovelies. There's no fluffy, innocent puppy love in this baby. Nope. This book is about
SEX. (Now that I have your attention...)
People get their panties in a twist over sex. Literally and figuratively. Ironically, the people whose panties are most twisted figuratively, probably aren't getting any of the literal variety. I know. Sad.
It's like adults think that some kind of sex fairy is going to magically appear and magically fill their child's head with all that icky information (where do babies really come from? is it the same place where pee comes from? what are those colored rubber plastic things in the square wrappers? why is mommy walking funny?) they must never, ever speak of, because if you even talk about it, you're going to get pregnant, and probably an STD, and die. And then go to hell.
Even though this book was written in the 1970s, the topics mentioned are still relevant--and controversial--today, so I can only imagine the uproar Forever made when it first debuted. Let's make a check-list of all the brimstone and hellfire this book reeks of, shall we?
✓ marijuana ✓ teen pregnancy ✓ sex ✓ STDs ✓ underage drinking ✓ contraceptives ✓ abortion ✓ sex ✓ being gay
Katherine and Michael meet at a New Year's party and do that thing where you start a relationship with someone and decide that you've got everything in common, even though you've actually got nothing in common. Right away, Michael begins pressuring her for sex, nonstop. Pushing, and pushing, and pushing.
I got annoyed, because Katherine was always like, "No..." but he'd keep on doing whatever it was he was doing until she eventually relented. NO MEANS NO, BITCH. Oh, and his penis is named "Ralph." Gag.
(An oddly appropriate name, in that sense, as ralph really does mean "to gag." Let's cease and desist now.)
Anyway, Katherine manages to beat away Michael and Ralph's tag-teaming for a while, but eventually they have SEX. They have sex responsibly, but of course, Michael tries to wriggle out of using a condom. Oh, and he had VD at some point but he doesn't have it anymore, he swears. And Katherine is like, "..."
Yeah, that was my reaction, too. NO GLOVE, NO LOVE.
Speaking of "...", this book is almost as full of ellipses as it is about sex. The way everyone is always taking these big gaspy pauses, you'd think you were in a porno or something. "Once... upon... a time. Two teenagers... had SEX. Oh, baby, yes."
It's not even good sex. Forever has some of the most awkward sex scenes EVER. Like, real life awkward. I felt awkward reading it, in that, "OH GOD. MY PARENTS MUST HAVE HAD SEX OR I WOULDN'T EXIST LA LA LA LA NOT THINKING ABOUT THAT" sort of way.
So I'm all for sexual education and empowerment, but it would have been nicer with less selfish characters.
If you're over 18 (or whatever the consensual age is where you live), you should watch this video on Youtube. It's called Realistic Hollywood Sex Scene, and pretty much the best thing ever.
EDIT 04/21/2013: I have some new information about this book!
First: This book should really be classified as 'New-Adult' and not 'Young-Adult', since...moreEDIT 04/21/2013: I have some new information about this book!
First: This book should really be classified as 'New-Adult' and not 'Young-Adult', since it does contain situations and themes not really appropriate for younger teens. So this is just something to keep in mind. (Plus, I like to think of myself as a genre-bender, giving all those other NA books the ol' one-two! :D)
Second: the SEQUEL, Armed and Dangerous, (which I know many of you are excited about) should be ready by early to mid-May. I am working SUPER HARD on it right now, and have already finished about 25% on the final draft.
As always, I thank you for your support and consideration.
I started this book about six or seven years ago. I still remember what the original draft was like, and to this day I cannot think of it without cringing. Oh, the things that come out of a sixteen-year-old's keyboard.
Cloak and Dagger is my first published book. I guess that makes it my baby. But not a coddled baby. More like the baby who is misbehaved and is always throwing temper tantrums, and needs to be set down in the corner while author-mommy cleans up the mess and heartbreak, and angsts about how this was never how she pictured motherhood authorhood.
I didn't know how much work it was going to be. Years of revisions, building onto the original work, and then cutting it back down to size. I cut about twenty THOUSAND words from the final draft before submitting it for publication, and found out in the process that I have a rather inordinate fondness for lovingly placing extraneous adverbs within the text. Who knew?
C&D is the product of too many James Bond films, an annoyance of Stockholm Syndromesque romances, and the niggling question that fills each of our minds when reading darker romantic suspense: Why doesn't that gosh-darn 'bad boy' ever stay bad? I'm not going to sell this book as THE BEST BOOK EVAR!!1! because it isn't (that distinction is reserved for the Brontes and Jane Austen, thank you very much), but it was fun to write, and I hope people have fun reading it.
Let me start out by saying that my readers, old and new, from GR are largely responsible for motivating me to write this. I was stumped about this story for the better part of four years, and to those who have been waiting all that time for the sequel, I apologize. Before I got started on its sequel, I really wanted to polish up Cloak and Dagger. It's a really bad idea to work on a sequel when you're revamping the prequel. Plot-lines, sequences of events, names, characterization--all these things change, as they did in the case of C&D. I'll be the first to admit my writing's not perfect, but I'm pretty happy with how the revision came out. Others seem to be, too.
Anyway, my main goal in writing this is to prove that I am, in fact, writing this, and also to thank everyone for their support and encouragement. Every time I see a review for C&D, I get so excited. It literally makes my day to see people buying my books, reading them, and writing about them. So thanks. I couldn't have started this without all you wonderful people. Especially the persistent ones among you.
ARCs are tricky. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are so ugly that you want to beat them down with a chair and say, "Get thee hence, Satan!" Unfortun...moreARCs are tricky. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are so ugly that you want to beat them down with a chair and say, "Get thee hence, Satan!" Unfortunately, Chloe and the Half-World is one of these latter. I really, really did not like this book. It literally gave me a headache because I found the main character so repulsive, the characterizations so inconsistent, and the plot so convoluted, that I truly hadn't the faintest idea what was going on.
Chloe and the Half-World consists of The Hero's Journey of two fourteen-year-old girls, Alice and Chloe. The story actually opens with the two of them riding off the rooftops of skyscrapers on their scooters, because, as we all know, this is what fourteen-year-old girls absolutely love to do, next to watching Gossip Girl, and walking around glued to their cell phones. They do this every day, using the poor ghosts - or Echoes - for traction, because riding through their ectoplasmic bodies slows you down.
. . . Don't ask me how this works. I thought ghosts were immaterial.
Our eponymous heroine, Chloe, is one of the sorriest excuses for a human being that I have ever encountered in fiction. She is absolutely wretched. Literally everything she said/did made me want to deck her one. Her constant narrative is one of self-congratulation, condescension, rudeness, manipulativeness, racism, ignorance, hypocrisy, and condemnation.
I know, I know. You're thinking yeah, her and every other teenager on the planet. The thing is- and what a lot of YA authors don't seem to understand- is that teenagers, while they do have a lot of room to grow in terms of morality and maturity- are a lot smarter than many people give them credit for. And while they can be superficial and shallow, they also want to be liked. The best YA stories I've read feature well-developed characters whose narratives may be a *mite* unreliable as they try to swing things in their favor. They want to be liked, and you can't help but give in. Chloe, on the other hand, is basically of the "screw you guys I'm going home" mentality.
Our heroine, ladies and gentlemen.
Here are some of her lines:
I was tempted to hit her hard in the ribs with my elbow. I'd have enjoyed watching her collapse to the floor, writhing in pain (53).
Since we were siblings, she wasn't allowed to be ugly and must meet my standards for older sisters at all times. Too bad her character was so despicable (39).
My father still acted the way he always had, but to me now, his coolness could only be a source of embarrassment. He was my father, and him being hip was illogical; I was the cool one. It didn't help we both had similar tastes in music....Why couldn't he act his age? (36)
These are just the realllllly bitchy quotes. Most of her dialogue/narrative left a sour taste in my mouth. To me, at least, she was completely unlikable.
Alice, on the other hand, is the token foreign ethnicity character-slash-comic relief, who is supposed to serve as a constant reminder of the main character's own superior intelligence. In order to establish her "identity" May describes her as "gothic" (several times), a shinigami (also several times- because of the way she wears her hair. In front of her head. Like Samara, from the ring), and Asian (SQUINTY EYES! No, seriously, at one point, Chloe 'jokingly' said, "Wow, I've never seen your eyes so wide!").
Now, how you got this guy out of a fourteen-year-old girl is beyond me. But the idea of Ryuk wearing a lace shirt and a gypsy skirt frankly creeps me the fuck out. Or makes me want to laugh senseless. Maybe both.
To be perfectly honest, I wondered if perhaps May was thinking of The Ring after all, because Sadako/Samara actually did wear her hair like that- and she's gothic!
The resemblance is uncanny, don't you think?
Now we've got the two main characters ironed out. Let's move on to the pop culture references. Misusing pop culture references seems to be becoming an unfortunate trend. It's my understanding that Stormdancer is receiving similar flack for the inappropriate use of Japanese words. May has a similar problem but, unfortunately, it is not limited to foreign culture references. He confuses several (relatively prominent) western trends, too.
1. Scooters. May seems to be under the impression that teenagers- specifically teenage girls- think scooters are the most awesome thing to hit the store shelves since Twilight. I'm sorry, but no. Scooters were never popular. Ever. Even when they were popular, only the dorks rode them. And they most certainly did not classify you as "cool."
Not really a big deal, but odd and slightly jarring, as he spends a lot of time discussing all their scooters and the brands.
2. Shinigami. More specifically, referring to a shinigami as a sort of long-haired banshee. I was honestly perplexed by this one, because Chloe (and therefore May by proxy) keeps referring to Alice as looking like one. She looks like the Japanese personification of death? A la the grim reaper? Just because she likes walking around like an Asian edition of Cousin It?
It's a really bad metaphor . . . and I don't get it, nor why it warrants mentioning several times.
Also, I've just got to lay this down on the table: DO NOT BASE YOUR JAPANESE MYTHOLOGY OFF MANGA AND HAYAO MIYAZAKI MOVIES. WATCHING SPIRITED AWAY AND DEATH NOTE 100x EACH DOES NOT MAKE YOU AN EXPERT ON DEMONOLOGY IN THE EASTERN HEMISPHERE. KTHX.
3. Vocaloid. May describes one woman as looking like "a vocaloid," which he then proceeds to define for us as something along the lines of an "online Japanese synthesized video idol."
Vocaloid is a voice-synthesizing program. While there are videos that do feature characters using the vocaloid technology, they are anime characters and not 'idols.' Some really simple research would have cleared this up, therefore eliminating the embarrassing passage where May describes a blue-haired blue-lipped woman as looking like a Vocaloid.
Does your female character look like a voice-synthesizing program? Probably not.
4. Kling-Klang. Apparently, it's a band. Chloe's dad likes them so much that he named his software company after them, and Chloe describes them as "70s music." Now, maybe there are two Kling-Klangs, but the band that I read about formed in the 1990s, not the 1970s. Again, what the fuck?
"Steampunk," muttered Alice.
She was right. That style was reinforced by the mask that covered his face. It was smooth, almost organic, with two transparent breathing tubes on each side of the face. They stemmed from the jaw to hook up somewhere on the nape inside the coat. A fluorescent substance, which was neither liquid nor gas, flowed through the tubes...(77)
That . . . is not steampunk. For starters, it is not powered by steam. It is also not technology at the level or approximated of that occurring at the time period of the nineteenth century. That is cyberpunk. CYBERPUNK.
I stopped reading around page 100 or so because I was getting so frustrated. All I know is that Alice and Chloe end up finding themselves in a land filled with clowns. Scary clowns.
Here are just a few more random quotes:
There was no logical reason for it. We just knew it had to be that way (168).
Hipster reviewer says: Logic. You've probably never heard of it.
He and Alice's mother trusted us when it came to doing the right thing, and we'd never broken that trust. Of course, jumping from rooftop to rooftop...could be quite dangerous, and maybe even illegal, but for us, it wasn't anything bad (51).
Captain Hypocrisy says: Self-contradiction is not okay! Except when it is!
The club was called Nursery Cryme, mixing the words "crime" and "rhyme" together, which I thought was beyond cool (32).
My closing thoughts
about the plot:
about the characters:
about the story as a whole:
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. This in no way biased or shaped my reading or opinion of the book. (less)
This is, without a doubt, the most badly-written, disturbing, offensive piece of erotica that I have ever read. I literally feel like I should apologi...more
This is, without a doubt, the most badly-written, disturbing, offensive piece of erotica that I have ever read. I literally feel like I should apologize to someone for reading this on the writer's behalf. Preteen girls everywhere, liberal feminists, and those who practice consensual, safe BDSM for a start.
"The worst?" You say. "Surely you jest, Nenia! You've read excerpts of Fifty Shades."
No, gentle reader. As unconditional and irrevocable my loathing is for Fifty and all its spawn, at least Christian Grey never made Ana have sex with a donkey.
That's right. A donkey.
Before we embark further on our tortuous exploration of Fifty Shades of Pedophilia that is Bianca, let's get you equipped with a brief summary. Bianca is thirteen years old and considered the most beautiful woman in Florence even though (sniff) she doesn't have blonde hair.
Despite her incredible shortcomings, Bianca has a male fan club that follows her when she goes to church, hoping to catch a glimpse of her legendary beauty and enchanting aquamarine eyes.
...No, I'm not being dramatic. This is seriously what happens.
Bianca pretty much has the medieval equivalent of a fairytale life. Her father is a renowned silk merchant, her mother is royalty. It's almost guaranteed that she's going to get hooked up with a duke or a price when she's older. Men adore her, women admire her- life is pretty sweet.
But one day, Bianca's fifteen-year-old brother gets into a spot of trouble. A big, bloody, won't-wash-out-with-cold-water spot of trouble: he and his friend, Stefano Rovere- accidentally kill a prostitute. Against Marco's wishes, the two boys dump the body in the river. But Stefano can't help running to Daddy Sebastiano. Faster than you can say "sex kills," Sebastiano demands the hand of Bianca to pay for his and his son's mutual silence, and to ensure that Marco doesn't blab.
It's a pretty thin pretext for blackmail, but romance novels rarely need much spurring on when it comes to creating reasons for excessive sex. And Sebastiano is a thirty-six-year-old man with Needs, dammit, who wants himself some underage nookie.
Did you just throw up in the back of your mouth a little? You might want to grab yourself one of these. It gets worse.
Got your "unsee button" handy? Okay. Moving along.
Sebastiano is a psycho. He doesn't have much in the way of back story. We know that he killed his last two wives because they ceased to arouse him sexually. We know that he likes orgies and depravity. We know hurting people during sex gives him a major case of the happies. He makes Christian Grey look like the good-old-fashioned boy next door.
In fact, if you took the main character from American Psycho and placed him in Fifty Shades of Grey, and had V.C. Andrews's crappy ghost-writer, Andrew Neiderman, write the sex scenes, you would get something that very closely approximated this book.
So why does this book garner the dubious honor of being THE WORST EROTICA EVER? Well.
#1. We first meet Sebastiano while he's beating his Moorish slave. At first, we are led to believe that she doesn't like it- which provides an interesting sort of juxtaposition of character, being forced to serve a man who might very well kill you if you disobey- but Small changes her mind, and has the slave woman go from mocking her cruel master's perversions and pitying his ill-fated bride to praising her master's hot bod and sexual prowess, and being a complicit accomplice in Bianca's sexual abuse. Because rape is a-OK if you're hot.
#2. As if this weren't bad enough, Sebastiano isn't even really interested in Bianca beyond using her to hurt her family and gain their compliance, and possessing a young wife that will make him the envy of his peers. When he finds out that the rumors of her beauty are an understatement, he decides it might be fun to hurt her, as well.
In fact, the idea of going Hiroshima on her hymen gives him such a raging hard-on that he ends up going straight home to ravish his slave, who is amazed by what she claims is the best sex of her life. Wow.
#3. Since this is taking place in the 1400s, there's no sex until marriage- but Sebastian pretty much does everything else to her: forcing her to give him blowjobs (and... swallow), finger-banging her and enjoying her discomfort all the while telling her how much more it will hurt when he uses Big Sebastian instead, sucking on her boobies in public, and pretty much violating about a million child pornography laws. To make matters worse, Bianca starts to enjoy it.
She feels bad about enjoying it, but secretly she likes it.
To her credit, she complains to her mother, but Bianca's mother just shrugs and says, "Well, that's marriage for you." Excuse me, woman, but marriage or no, if a thirty-six-year-old pervert is playing hide the finger in your daughter's vagina and molesting her in public, I think you should take notice. But maybe that's just me.
#4. To his horror and disgust, Sebastiano cannot get it up on his wedding night because Bianca is crying too much and it's distracting him. He calls in his younger son, and demands that he rape Bianca to consummate the marriage. The son is eager to comply, but then Bianca's crying makes him feel bad and he says that he's not comfortable with the idea of screwing his step-mother. Sebastiano beats him. Bianca begs him to stop. Sebastiano beats her instead while Rape Jr. takes the chance to flee. Bianca's pain arouses him and he rapes her for the rest of the night.
#5. Eventually, though, Vanilla rape with a side of beatings gets old and Sebastiano starts getting creative. He forces Bianca to have threesomes with his slave. Sometimes she holds Bianca down while Sebastiano rapes her. Sometimes Sebastiano holds her down while the slave performs oral sex on her, and then rapes her when she's close to orgasm. At one point, Sebastiano has violent anal sex with the slave while Bianca watches, horrified, and says, "ONE DAY THIS WILL BE YOU."
#6. Sebastiano buys a special rape donkey that has been bred to have a ginormous donkey-doodle, and have oral, vaginal, and anal sex with humans. He uses the donkey with the slave and finds it delightful, and plans to have a foursome with himself, the slave, the donkey, and Bianca.
For the first time in the book, Bianca's and my reaction were the same. She flees to her family for help, after playing 120 Days of Sodom with Sebastiano to persuade him to let her mother visit, and they put her in a church for sanctuary. And that's when I stopped reading.
To top this mess of various bodily fluids with a cherry, the sex scenes are absolutely awful. I was bummed, because the story started out pretty well-written and I thought to myself, "This isn't so bad. I wonder why everyone is giving it such negative reviews?" Bertrice Small is one of those ladies whose prose goes purple when sex is involved, as if trying to hide the awkwardness of these racy encounters under a curtain of flowery verbiage. Which is kind of like throwing a doily on two morbidly obese fat people making the beast of two backs. It's still ugly, but now there's a doily on there so it's ridiculous and scary, as well.
Cum is described as "juices," which makes me never want to drink juice ever again- especially lychee calpico (I hate you, Ms. Small). Fleshly peg is used to describe a penis. White globe for breast. A man's balls are referred to as "a hairy, pendulous sac," and at one point, when Sebastiano is ravishing Bianca's boobage in the garden, her nipples are described as "helpless."
Is this supposed to be erotic? Because it makes me want to take a vow of chastity.
Look at that cover. Just look at it. Isn't it gorgeous? A beautiful girl surrounded by sparkles and butterflies, glittering with liberal use of the p...moreLook at that cover. Just look at it. Isn't it gorgeous? A beautiful girl surrounded by sparkles and butterflies, glittering with liberal use of the photoshop dodge tool. It's absolutely stunning. I want butterflies to chill out in my hair. I'll be perfectly honest. I'm a shallow person; I judge books by their covers, and I wanted to read Exiled based on the cover alone. Unfortunately, that glorious, shimmering, magnificent outside did not match what lay on the inside.
This was another offshoot of my "free Amazon kindle downloads" binge. UnEnchanted was another, and if you're curious, you can access my review of it here. I pretty much downloaded all that they had, which was mostly YA and questionable-looking romance-novels. BUT. The most improtant fact is that this book is available for free download for the kindle. Yay!!! Free books! However, before racing to press that "buy now" button on Amazon, you *might* want to see if Exiled is for you. It's longer than most ebooks, and a bigger time commitment.
WARNING: SPOILER HEAVY (PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK)
Venus (*cringe*) is a Kelarian, an alien from a planet far, far away. Her people eventually become kelvieri, or immortals (basically gods), following a ritualistic ceremony. Venus is just setting off for hers, when she suddenly and inexplicably finds herself on Earth, where the air is toxic for her to breathe and enemies of the throne are staging a coup to steal her position as rightful crown princess.
I know what you're thinking.
Marooned on a planet where she is doomed to die, Venus learns that her planet's "gods" refuse to help her - unless she can help a boy named Michael find true-love. Unfortunately, Michael happens to be the disgruntled asshole who she encounters in the woods, drunk, crass, and completely heartbroken from being dumped. Michael is seriously damaged goods. He's abused by both his mother and his father - that is, until his father leaves and his mother takes over the job as stay-at-home-psychopath. He reads a lot of literature, but this intelligence is not really reflected in his day-to-day decisions. And he's on male PMS 24/7.
FUCK EMOTIONS! I'M A MAN!
Does this mean that he's a love interest?
. . . Is Christian Grey fifty shades of f***ed up?
Jigglypuff does not approve.
Oh, and if that wasn't bad enough, there's a group of evil kelvieri going around killing humans for the fun of it. And scientists get wind that there's an alien murderer wreaking havoc on the third rock from the sun, and once they get wind of Venus, they naturally assume it's her and pull an ET where they're like, "It's an alien so it doesn't feel pain and even if it does, fuck it! We torture in the name of science and have a damn good time doing it! TEAM ASSHOLE SCIENTIST!"
Originally, I was thinking this was gonna be a three-star book. Then a two-star book. But the ending whittled me down to 1, maybe 1.5, stars.
Granted, this is always a problem with self-published books as many of them don't have an editor, but there are some things that should just be common sense. As with UnEnchanted, the author does not seem to know how to properly quote dialogue spanning multiple paragraphs.
Also, she spells "okay" as "K." And "all right" as "alright." And hyphenated compound words mysteriously lose or regain their hyphens at will. Sometimes in the same paragraph.
The slang was, as with UnEnchanted, very bad. For example, one of the characters constantly says "Cheese!" instead of cursing. Yes, she's an earthling. Cheese, you guys! Don't you think I know an earthling when I see one? Are you cheesing kidding me?"
Michael, despite coming from a bad home, never curses. He only says "freaking" or "effing." As I have said in other YA book reviews, it is admirable if you come from a family that does not advocate cursing, but the fact of the matter is that people - especially teenage boys - do curse.
I really liked Zaren, Venus's other love interest. Unfortunately, that little subplot went nowhere. She treats him with condescension because he cares about her and wants to love her. She wants a real man - one who has emotional mood swings, will jerk her around, and make her feel like crap. Yeah!
. . . When she ended up with Michael -
- I just lost all respect for the book. Why? Well. -He's needy and suspicious of everyone. Even when he's not 100% sure he doesn't want to get back with Cheverley (the name of his ex - and yes, she's an earthling, too), he still is uber-possessive of Venus.
-Someone close to him gets murdered. Even though it goes against what he knows of Venus's character, Michael assumes that she did it and immediately decides to kill her. Makes sense, right?
Ash reads this scene aloud from his Kindle. Pikachu and Brock are horrified.
-Not a "nice killing" either. He sends her out to scientists, who plan to vivisect her. What a sweetheart.
-Oh, and when he helps her escape - he chases after her, thus leading the evil scientists straight to her. Zaren is understandably angry. What is Michael's excuse? "B-b-but I love her!"
-Which is precisely why he sneaks onto the spaceship to Venus's own home-planet, even though he knows the air there will kill him.
Venus wasn't much better. She was just so clueless. And she was a bit of a Mary Sue. Everyone around her kept nodding and saying they could totally see why she's a princess, she totally acts the part, but me? I don't get it. She has no sense of responsibility. She's reckless, and naive to the point of being developmentally challenged. She has poor judgment and even worse taste in men.
Looks like they're letting anyone be a princess these days.
Really, she's a bigger bubble-head than Sailor Moon. But at least Sailor Moon could defend herself! (Once she stopped mooning over Darian, that is - but Darian is actually really dreamy, so I can't really fault her for that, either)
If you are an older YA reader, or prefer your science-fiction and fantasy novels with strong female protags, you will probably not like this book. Likewise, if you are a hardcore grammar Nazi, and think that chatspeak in literature should warrant a punishment of being dangled from a very short participle, you should definitely not read this book. Just gaze lovingly at that pretty cover . . . and wonder about what could be.
I was actually sad when I had to give my copy back to the library. I really, REALLY enjoyed this book- it was WRITTEN for my ner...moreEdit: October 24, 2012
I was actually sad when I had to give my copy back to the library. I really, REALLY enjoyed this book- it was WRITTEN for my nerdy, video-game loving, Matthew-Broderick-movie-quoting generation. I WANTED TO KEEP IT WITH ME ALWAYS AND SMOTHER IT WITH CUDDLES. Anyway, I recently trotted over to the ol' used bookstore and what did I see sitting oh-so-dejectedly on the shelf? A brand spankin' new copy just BEGGING me to take it home. I've never been able to resist the puppy dog eye trick, especially not with a book. I have my own copy now! YAY
WARNING. REVIEW MAY CONTAIN PARTIAL NUDITY, SWEARING, FANGIRLING, HYPERVENTILATION, SCREAMING, LOUD NOISES, GIF-BOMBING, PICSPAM, MARRIAGE PROPOSALS, AND RAMPANT GOODREADS WHORING.
PROCEED WITH THE UTMOST CAUTION.
WHERE HAS THIS BOOK BEEN ALL MY LIFE? Okay . . . okay. Try to be coherent. Breathe.
. . . whew.
Ready Player One is a book for people who are a) nerds, geeks, otaku, or just super dorky. b) obsessed with and/or were born in the 80s. c) completely addicted to vintage arcades, Nintendo games, or MMORPGs. d) huge science-fiction buffs.
If these things do not appeal to you, or make you wince in distaste, you are not going to enjoy this book. At all. You won't get any of the references, you will shake your head in incredulity at what appears to be a complete and utter waste of time, and you might very well feel confused or threatened. I suggest you save yourself a lot of trouble, put the book down, and back away slowly.
Or, in gamer-speak:
GTFO NOOBFAG OR PH34R T3H WRATH OF MY UBER-1337 BANHAMMER
If, like me, all three are relevant to you, you are going to want to pepper this book with 8bit smooches and scream like a demented fangirl.
I used to be a huge MMORPG fan. I'm not going to tell you how many hours I pissed away leveling up my skills just so I could be a Mage/Ranger hybrid with kick-ass defense. It was a lot. I've been clean for several years now, but the thought of a fully immersive virtual reality game makes me drool. And with technology getting better and better, this seems like it's becoming less and less of a pipe dream. In the meanwhile, I live out this pie-in-the-sky fantasy vicariously through cyberpunk, and Ready Player One is a more than satisfactory surrogate.
RPO takes place in a near-future dystopia riddled with poverty, corruption, and a major global-wide economic depression. The miserable inhabitants take refuge in the appropriately-named OASIS, a fully immersive VR game with a once-in-a-lifetime fee of 25-cents. Once paid, players have access to a virtual world so real that young people can attend class from their homes, people buy up virtual realistic and virtual garments as status symbols, and conduct business from virtual offices.
Wade Watts is one such user. He's eighteen and lives in a trailer with his abusive aunt and her string of good-for-nothing boyfriends. He plays OASIS from a borrowed console and a laptop salvaged from the streets in the sanctuary of an abandoned car. Overweight, acne-plagued, and socially anxious, OASIS is the one place where Wade can really be himself. His major goal in life is to find the Easter egg video game mogul James Halliday hid somewhere in his game before his death, which promises untold riches.
Despite years of searching, nobody has come even remotely close because Halliday was, well, a huge otaku who incorporated his vast knowledge of 1980s cult classics, vintage games, science-fiction, comic-book trivia, Dungeons and Dragons, and pretty much any other nerdy thing you can think of into this quest to form what is quite possibly the biggest nerd-puzzle in the entire world (apart from what you can find on those MENSA puzzle calendars). Few people are dedicated and obsessive enough to bother taking in all that trash. Which basically ensures that the winner would have to be someone very much like Halliday - which is exactly what the old man wanted (and can you blame him?)
One day, Wade realizes that he knows the secret to solving the first of three quests. His excitement is contagious and endearing. The reader wants him to win, because though he may be a loser, he's a loser we can sympathize with, and we want him to have the tools to not be a loser anymore and pull himself up by the boot-straps and into a Horatio Algerian success story.
When Wade's name hits the high score boards, the frenzy of the hunt reawakens with a vengeance as people scramble to find out the secret before time runs out. And with four other people (two of whom are his friends) - and the nefarious IOI corporation - following closely in the lead, time is running out. Because the prize is a secret worth billions, and more than just a couple people would kill for it.
I absolutely loved this book. It's hard to write a good, solid book about video games - because we all know if we have brothers or sisters that WATCHING people play video games isn't nearly as fun as playing ourselves - but Cline does an absolutely phenomenal job. His gameverse is just so original and creative - and yet so plausible - that it's an absolute delight to read and super easy to envision.
I just know that this is going to end up being a movie.
The gameverse, on the other hand, is a cross between Second Life, WoW, Runescape, various Nintendo games, arcade games, etc. It's all encompassing, and all the consoles get some love.
Also, the IOI (aka "sixers," aka "sux0rs") were a really good villain because their motive was so believable. They want to win so they will have control over the game and therefore charge everyone who already plays extortionate monthly fees and erect barriers to keep out non-payers. Capitalism at its finest, eh? I was convinced. Lord knows chain letters about FB selling out and charging monthly fees are always circulating cyberspace. It's the free-loading user's worst nightmare.
. . . Let's say I got a little too emotionally involved in the storyline. Face-palming. LOLing. Cries of frustration. Expletives.
The pacing is excellent, to the point of being sadistic. There were times when I was on the verge of biting my nails, the tension was so nerve-wracking. Having the online scoreboard was a great idea, because it really added a panicky "time-is-running-out" feel to the book that didn't have to be bashed into the readers' heads over and over again. So much more effective this way. My gosh.
It's over now. Be still, my heart.
My one complaint is that THIS AUTHOR HAS WRITTEN NO OTHER SCIENCE-FICTION NOVELS. WTF. GET CRACKING, CLINE. I NEED ME SOME MORE VIRTUAL REALITY FIX A.S.A.P.
What is with this fascination of zombies? I seriously don't get it. Zombies = dead, rotting...moreYou can read more books at my blog, The Armchair Librarian!
What is with this fascination of zombies? I seriously don't get it. Zombies = dead, rotting corpses who want to eat your brainssss. Did I mention the rotting corpse part? Ghosts, okay, they don't have bodies anymore; they can't rot. Vampires, they have magic powers; they can't rot (usually). Zombies are the roadkill of the undead; they are definitely corpses. When you want to have sex with a corpse this = necrophilia. Ergo, Julie wanting to jump R's bones (in the--yechh--literal sense) = necrophilia.
Oh and in case that weren't disgusting enough, Warm Bodies is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, which, funnily enough, I also hated. In fact, this is pretty much a blend of Romeo and Juliet, Twilight, and World War Z. Since I didn't like any of those books, I suppose it's not surprising that I didn't like this one.
But it's hard when everyone around you is singing this book's praises. My brother and sister won't stop yammering about it, and kept a countdown of the days until the movie's release. My lit-snob mother fawns over the book, saying how "sweet" R is.
Yes. Sweet in the, "My, how rank you smell today, Mr. Zombie" sort of way.
The premise is interesting enough, I suppose. It's about a philosophical zombie (I know, the irony) who thinks that there might be more to life than Brains. He marries another 'R' zombie (Rosalie) in his zombie church, and has zombie children with her. Then one day he goes into a compound and eats the brains of Perry (Paris), which fills him with the memories of Perry's relationship with Julie (Juliet). He brings Julie back to the zombie compound to "keep her safe" (facepalm), 'M' (Mercutio) disapproves, the zombies want to eat Julie, Julie and 'R' go back to the human compound. 'R' pretty much forgets all about his commitment to Rosalie but it's OK because she did too! LOL. She's cheating on him and he doesn't care because he's a zombie and the end.
I couldn't buy the world-building. I couldn't stand the inconsistencies. I didn't understand how 'R' could be so verbal in his head and still sound like his speech was being provided in-stream via 90s rural dial-up. I didn't buy Julie getting over Perry's death so quickly. I didn't understand why 'R' suddenly developed a case of multiple-personality-disorder. I thought the idea of zombie school was ludicrous. I was annoyed by the lack of subtlety.
This book just isn't for me, and I'm not going to annoy myself further by proceeding. I call DNF. It's time to move on to brighter, more alive pastures.
CONTENT WARNING: IN THIS REVIEW I WILL DISCUSS A BOOK WHOSE SUBJECT MATTER REGARDING GENDER, SEXUALITY, MEDICINE, AND ABUSE MAY OFFEND.
After a botche...moreCONTENT WARNING: IN THIS REVIEW I WILL DISCUSS A BOOK WHOSE SUBJECT MATTER REGARDING GENDER, SEXUALITY, MEDICINE, AND ABUSE MAY OFFEND.
After a botched circumcision with an electric medical implement, the Riemers were horrified to find that their baby boy's penis was completely burned off. Doctors, being under the impression that the child would "be unable to live a normal sexual life from the time of adolescence [and] unable to consummate marriage or have normal hetereosexual relationships," decide that it would be most humane to reassign the baby's sex and surgically castrate him, and then have the parents raise him as a girl without telling him.
The baby, formerly known as Bruce, then became Brenda, and was the source of much interest in the medical field because he was a twin. Twin studies are ideal for research, because they're a completely natural experiment: one twin (the afflicted twin) is the experimental condition, and the other ("normal") twin is the control. During the 1960s and 70s, the burgeoning and popular theory regarding sexuality was that it was a purely socially-driven phenomenon, with children adopting their "sex" based on reinforcement patterns. Which, as anyone who has ever taken a GBLT/Gender Studies class would know, is complete and utter bullshit. Now, sex and gender are recognized as separate and not necessarily mutually inclusive constructs, with gender being the psychological identification with a particular set of gender norms, and sex being physical and determined by the genitals.
But science is driven by trial and error a lot of the time, and boy, do we sometimes make errors. Unfortunately, the Johns Hopkins doctor put in charge of Brenda's case, named John Money, was not as clinically indifferent as might be ideal. For starters, he had his own sack of issues, with an abusive father and a mother and spinster aunts who ruthlessly condemned the male sex. He is quoted as saying, "I wondered if the world might really be a better place for women if not only farm animals but human males also were gelded at birth."
Real impartial, right?
His medical practices bordered on abusive as he imposed a strict and cruel regimen upon Brenda Riemer. He forced them to disrobe in front of him to examine their genitals, and "made Brenda assume a position on all fours on his sofa and make Brian come up behind her on his knees and place his crotch against her buttocks," forcing the children to play-act sexual behaviors as young as six. According to Brian, Dr. Money took some pictures of them engaging in this behavior. Dr. Money relentlessly interrogated Brenda about her sexual thoughts, her gender constructs, and occasionally showed her pornography. He would shout at Brenda and her brother, Brian, if they refused to comply with his demands. While he did not reveal this side to the twins' parents, he did request that they expose themselves to the twins (naked) to familiarized Brian and Brenda with male and female genitalia. He even requested that the parents have sex in front of their children, which they didn't do - thank God.
I was so sickened by Dr. Money because not only does he act like a pervert and a pedophile, but he also apparently falsified a lot of his data on Brenda Riemer. The doctors he referred her to for vaginal constructive surgery received a glowing, sunny portrait of a well-adjusted family and a girl who was the epitome of feminine behavior, when actually Mrs. Riemer was suicidally depressive, Mr. Riemer was an alcoholic, Brian was acting out behaviorally, and Brenda was completely opposed to surgery, traumatized by anything even pertaining to sexuality, and completely adamant that she was a boy.
The fact that he would attempt to force surgery on an unwilling child - particularly such an invasive, irreversible, and unwanted surgery, was just revolting. Few things piss me off as much as child abuse and gender typing, and John Money happens to be partial to both. Following Riemer's release of his story, several other patients came forward. One patient had his confidentiality breached, with Money (wrongly) condemning him as a pedophile and a pervert, taking things he said during follow-up therapy following hormonal thyroid treatments out of context. Others were intersex individuals, either with ambiguous genitalia or being true hermaphrodites with genitals composed of tissues particular to both genders, who had achieved physical strife (infections, discomfort, the inability to achieve orgasm) and psychological trauma (merciless teasing, identity crises, depression), and resented being assigned a sex that did not correspond to their own notions of sexuality and/or gender identity.
What really steamed my broccoli, though, was the fact that Money blatantly lied about his so-called groundbreaking case. His master's thesis was, ironically, on the subject of how well-situated ambiguously sexed children were following the conclusion of the longitudinal study. Boys who were born with tiny penises/damaged penises were happier if they were raised as boys than if they had been forced to undergo reassignment surgery and raised as girls, and suffered no intense psychological problems. This is in direct contrast to his later insistence that children with ambiguous genitals would never be whole.
I think he knew what he did was wrong. He must have. Why else would he have an aide try to forcibly drag Brenda into a hospital room, where she feared she would be operated on against her will? Why would he panic when the BBC did an expose documentary, warning the parents that someone had stolen data from his office and managed to track down Brenda, not knowing that the parents had actually agreed to the video for their daughter's sake? And then, when the video went out, why would he do his best to say that the documentary was borne of harassment and stalking of his patients, and do his utmost to crush any research that opposed his study as vindictive personal attacks, without valid basis? Isn't the entire point of science supposed to be a quest for truth?
The girl in this study was not happy as a girl. She was absolutely terrified of her doctor. She was averse to gender reassignment. She played with boy toys, rough-housed, and had interest in girls. The thought of sex, and the very mention of sexual organs, made her uncomfortable and filled her with self-disgust. Even now, Brenda - who is now David, who is married with three children - says he wakes up after sex sometimes and undergoes panic attacks that make him run to the bathroom to throw up. David underwent ridicule for his nonfunctioning penis, when it posed as an impediment to sexual relations in his youth. He tried to kill himself several times, and showed up at one of his previous doctor's offices with a gun, fully intending to "blow his brains out."
This was painful to read, sad and distressing and uncomfortable and awful and WRONG, but I appreciate Colapinto for doing such a well-researched and compassionate story of this unfortunate man's double-life. It just goes to show how simplified our ideas of "boy" and "girl" actually are. And while some might use this argument to advocate outmoded beliefs regarding patriarchal and machismo sentiments, it really doesn't work. Because, Colapinto points out, gender and sex and sexuality all appear to be biologically driven. You can't condition a boy to be a girl any more than you can condition a homosexual to be straight (which one of Money's compatriots actually attempted, unsurprisingly enough).
It's always unfortunate when such lessons must be obtained at such high cost.
It's official. I'm a Dresdenite fangirl, which is nothing short of amazing as male protagonists have a tendency to cheese me off. Why? Because the au...more
It's official. I'm a Dresdenite fangirl, which is nothing short of amazing as male protagonists have a tendency to cheese me off. Why? Because the authors seem to believe that the only way to write from a male perspective is to make him the next He-Man: Master of the Universe. Speaking in an unnecessarily loud voice, dropping one-liners like it's hot, wearing clothing that reveals your bulging "no, ma'am, never taken a steroid in my life" muscles, making the ladies swoon, etc. etc.
Harry Dresden is refreshing because he's so candid with his "Dresden Files" and, in fact, his own life, that he comes across as being strikingly real. Like, X-Files real. Is there an Area 666 somewhere where the government has locked away everything from witches to unicorns? The world may never know.
But one thing I do know is that I really liked Harry. He's attractive, but super geeky and nerdy and awkward with girls. He has a dry sense of humor that especially comes out in his more "I'm fucked" moments. While there are many male characters who are attractive in books but would scare the shit out of me in real life (I'm talking to you, Christian "Fifty Shades of Fucked-Up" Grey), Harry Dresden is somebody who I would actually date. He's just so . . . adorable. I want to ruffle his hair.
. . . And other things. Ahem.
Now, apparently in the TV Series, the role is played by Paul Blackthorne.
I just want to say, that's definitely not how I pictured Harry at all - at least not from the descriptions. I pictured someone a little darker and brooding, but boyishly cute. Someone a female police officer would ever-so-sneakily kiss on the forehead like a brother (but only when she thinks he's unconscious). Someone like . . .
Helloooooooo, David Boreanaz!
Dot: He's so dreamy!
. . . OK, I'm done fangirling now.
This is the first book in the series so it's a little rough. I barely noticed, though. The plot was like crack. I couldn't put this book down. Basically, Harry is on probation with the White Council for bad things he did as a teenager. When an evil wizard starts brutally murdering Chicago citizens, Harry is held under suspicion by both the White Council and the Chicago Police Force for crimes he did not commit. The police want to arrest him. The White Council want to snuff him out. And the real killer doesn't really want him around either. All these things really remind Harry how much he loves his job (not really).
The result is that Harry gets hopelessly enmeshed into the case, tracking down witnesses, fighting off demons, bargaining with pervo assistant skeleton Bob to actually do his job, and trying to squeeze in a date or two for good measure. It's dark and gritty, but lightened up by regularly interspersed snippets of humor and Harry's own somewhat archaic sense of gentlemanly chivalry (he opens doors for the ladies.
And the action? The action looks something like this:
Both male and female fans of urban fantasy will definitely enjoy the Dresden Files. (And men, take note from Mr. D's files! Chivalry's not dead. Undead, maybe. But not dead.)
Phedre is perfect and beautiful except for one fatal flaw: a crimson mote in one eye that marks her as one for whom pain and sexual pleasure are one....morePhedre is perfect and beautiful except for one fatal flaw: a crimson mote in one eye that marks her as one for whom pain and sexual pleasure are one. Her...quirk...catches the eye of one of the lords who likes to keep a finger in each of the political pies. Since all the major politicos enjoy sadomasochism in one form or another, Phedre is an ideal candidate to probe them for information. But since this is an erotica novel, Carey does not shirk on the sex. The result is a non-stop BDSM party, which makes 50 Shades of Grey look more like Fifty Shades of Vanilla. However, even romance fans will find this novel somewhat difficult to swallow (heh), because the first 150 pages are as dense as Tolkien's Silmarillion, and just as dull.
The book takes place in an alternate version of Europe, with D'Angeline being a lot like France. They believe their land came from the seed of some really horny angels, and their deities all mostly have something to do with sex: Elua (god of being free to love whomever and however "as thou wilt"), Namaah (god of really, really, damn-I-can-barely-walk sex and prostitutes), and Kushiel (BDSM god). D'Angelines are considered the pinnacle of their civilization, and all the other "savage" societies (i.e. Italians, Spaniards, Germans, and Romanians - not called such in the novel, of course, but it's obvious what they are) are insanely jealous of this rocking (don't come a-knocking) society.
Kushiel's Dart is one of those over-hyped books, the reactions to which tend to be highly polarized. I found the (excessively graphic) descriptions of blood-play heinous and disturbing. For example, the villainness, Melisande, forces Phedre to say her safe word by threatening to insert a sharp blade into her vagina. Phedre is whipped, cut, paraded in public naked, beaten, slapped, threatened with death, and pricked, in addition to a wide variety of somewhat more "normal" sexual practices (done in crude and humiliating ways, of course), and, of course, she enjoys every moment of it. The fact that she receives her sexual training at ten, and deflowered at twelve does not make this any more palatable.
The violence and gratuitous sex is a *little* easier (read: not that much) to stomach once Phedre actually comes of age. My favorite portions of the book - and what kept me reading for the most part - were, ironically, what most people hated: the politics. I love court intrigue. That's why I have a shelf dedicated to it. I love seeing royals plot and scheme, playing games of thrones, and planning political coups. It's cool, it's interesting, and takes considerable intelligence to carry out well. Unfortunately, a lot of the intrigue was lost among the sex. Phedre literally sleeps with every character (man or woman) in this book at least once - or wants to. Or they want to.
Reader's rendition of Phedre's flee from the Skaldic warriors:
Er . . .
Worst of all, this book drags on forever (it's like 1,000 pages, so if you don't like it, it's not going to be over quickly at all), and I feel like Carey lingers on a lot of unimportant scenes. Even Phedre herself starts saying, "And there's no need to describe what other acts I did, you all know what a depraved bitch I am." I skimmed the last 150 pages because I've been reading this for several days now and I am just so tired of it, I can't even say.
I don't understand why Phedre is on the list of strong female protagonists in fantasy. She doesn't really have a choice. She's sold into sexual slavery over and over, she hates being a masochist and bemoans her curse and how it keeps her from being able to be with a man - or woman - who will treat her right. Her only value, really, is the services she provides to others. Is she strong because she can take a shit-ton of physical abuse and walk away? Is she strong because she doesn't kill herself, the way she contemplates earlier on in a fit of misery? I don't get it. I found her character repulsive, hypocritical, and a disgrace to women everywhere.
When I saw this on netgalley, I thought, OMG HOW CUTE WHAT IS THAT CUTE THING ON THE COVE...moreYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
When I saw this on netgalley, I thought, OMG HOW CUTE WHAT IS THAT CUTE THING ON THE COVER?!
I expected a cute little romp through space. The perfect thing to lift my mood after a hard day.
This is the saddest, most disturbing thing I have read in a while. If you're thinking about buying this for your kids, DON'T.
There is blood, gore, violence, treachery, and so much anguish that reading this would probably put a kid into therapy.
Poor little Zed is a brilliant little alien scientist who has built a machine that makes rocks into energy, and he's about to receive an award for it. An evil alien fuel magnate sabotages his machine and causes it to kill everyone on the planet, including his parents.
Zed is the only survivor.
He goes home in tears, pretty much feeling as guilty and miserable as it's possible to be and cries in the chamber the emperor of his planet has provided for his safety. The fuel magnate comes to his world, slaughters the emperor before his eyes, in addition to his advisors and then tries to kill Zed.
Zed nearly dies, has a near-death experience, sees his parents, meets God, and finds out he's supposed to save the universe. He returns home and finds his planet destroyed, and his uncle gets killed.
At this point, I stopped reading because I pretty much died inside.
WARNING: REVIEW CONTAINS CUTE AUSTRALIAN ANIMAL PICSPAM
If you, like me, took one look at that cute, fuzzy platypus on the cover and thought to yoursel...moreWARNING: REVIEW CONTAINS CUTE AUSTRALIAN ANIMAL PICSPAM
If you, like me, took one look at that cute, fuzzy platypus on the cover and thought to yourself, "Oh my gosh, it's going to be like Watership Down, but with platypuses and other cute Australian creatures," think again. The only thing cute about this book is the animals- and even they are quick to disillusion you about their cuteness as they set things on fire, kill each other, have stick-ups and robberies, drink, drink more, drink even more, and run around having bloodthirsty battles. Not very cute.
Albert of Adelaide takes place in the wild, wild west . . . of the Australian outbacks. Some of the best parts of the book are the descriptions of the desert. Lethal, but beautiful, and completely wild, the inhospitable desert of central Australia provides an interesting and dramatic setting for the animals to interact.
For a debut work, Albert of Adelaide isn't bad. Albert, the main character (who is a platypus), is pretty likable. He's an escapee from a zoo. His mother was killed by a dog, and his experience in the Adelaide zoo haunts him. He starts out as really innocent and kind of naive, but by the end of the book he's got a wanted poster with his name on it. The writing was good, and I found no typos (which I expected, since this isn't an ARC).
Albert of Adelaide wasn't as good as I was hoping, though, considering that it was published by Twelve, an exclusive publishing firm that avows to publish no more than twelve books a year. It's brought me gems such as Boomsday, and The Art of Choice, so I was a little disappoint. On the other hand, I got to learn about Australian wildlife- for example, apparently Platypuses have poisonous spurs?
I didn't know what a lot of the animals mentioned herein actually looked like, so for your future edification, here are some pictures:
They are all alcoholics. And cowards. And get into brawls.
They like to set things on fire.
They're cutthroat assholes.
They like sardines and medals, and are friends with wombats.
They are corrupt public officials and like to steal.
Take 'Hunger Games' to a frighteningly literal level.
Platypus: [image error] Definitely not a marsupial.
This book should be called "Why White People Are Innately Racist, And How To Make Them Feel Like Shit About It."
I would like to address a few of Dr. T...moreThis book should be called "Why White People Are Innately Racist, And How To Make Them Feel Like Shit About It."
I would like to address a few of Dr. Tatum's "facts." (Italics paraphrased approximations of Beverly Tatum's actual words.)
White people are always 'passively racist' unless they are actively being antiracist.
I'm sorry, but what? Should I really have to go around and apologize for everything "my people" did? Not all white people are the same, you know. I know everyone distinguishes between Afro-Cubans and Jamaicans and African Americans; and Pacific Islanders and Chinese and Korean, but all white people are just THE WHITE MAN. That is not cool.
Do you know what happened to the Irish in the nineteenth century? People treated them like dirt. They were called "white n-words" and were killed in droves building the railroads. Many Irish men and women fled Ireland after the potato famine only to find themselves as servants or policemen or physical laborers.
I'm also Native American.
We know what happened to them, right? One of my ancestors actually survived the trail of tears. So don't give me that shit about painful history. I HAVE LOADS OF PAIN IN MY HISTORY. BUT IT'S HISTORY. LET'S THINK PROACTIVELY AND LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKES. Why should I have to make amends for the fact that I'm white? That sucks. And it's racist.
People of color get no systematic benefits from discriminating against whites.
I'll be sure to remember that the next time I get obscene catcalls in Spanish from creepy Mexican guys, or get called a racist because someone doesn't agree with my opinions or assessments in social or professional contexts.
White people get benefits that many people of color do not.
Yes, and people of color get many benefits white people do not. Scholarships, affirmative-action, a rich cultural background, lower rates of skin cancer. I mean, really.
Plus, you have the benefit of being able to take pride in your ethnicity without immediately being branded as a racist. Black pride, Asian pride- these are all good things. But if someone made a white pride group? You can bet there would be calls to the school board and kids would get suspended for being white supremacists.
White people are frequently unaware of their benefits and walk around in blissful ignorance.
So I should be made to feel painfully aware of my ethnicity and guilty because of it?
Honestly, I don't really give a crap about skin color. If I like you, it's because I like you. If I hate you, it's not because you're black or left-handed or Asian or Jewish. It's because you're obnoxious or mean.
I get frustrated when talking to a white woman who doesn't understand her advantages.
White people can be impoverished too, you know. Maybe she's trying to figure out how life in a trailer with seven kids with no college degree is giving her advantages over, oh, I don't know, President Barack Obama.
People are taught not to ask questions about race or culture.
I must have missed that memo. Two days ago I was listening to my Indian coworker describe her beautiful traditional wedding in India, and this morning I was chatting with my Mexican coworker about biria. I asked both of them lots of questions. I also distinctly remember, as a young child, asking a black woman at Target if she was Oprah. My mother was horrified, but the lady seemed to find it a real hoot. Probably because I was asking for her autograph and telling her how much I liked her show.
When people disagree with me, I respectfully tell them that we can agree to disagree.
And then write a book condemning White people for being racist jerks. I must have missed that lesson on respect.
White people are defensive when called racists.
No, really? I wonder why...
It's the worst insult a White person can receive.
Actually, I hate being called honky and cracker more. Or gringa. Or bitch. Or dumbass.
All of us have so much to learn from each other. Let's not spoil a potentially rich and diverse education by being close-minded asshats. I can look past skin color to personality, intelligence, and talent.
So because of the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, it seems that EVERYTHING must be tu...moreYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian!
So because of the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, it seems that EVERYTHING must be turned into BDSM erotica regardless of rhyme or reason. And when I say everything, I mean everything. I've seen a bastardized version of several fairytales, the Wizard of Oz, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, and--horror of horrors--even a cookbook. "Play" with your food? God, the horror.
I tried to read through this and ended up casting it aside after the first chapter. It was terrible. It opens with a guy masturbating and then he's joined by the ghosts of Catherine and Heathcliff.
Ha ha ha... no.
I don't know what I was thinking when I applied for these erotica novels. I guess I hoped I'd find something decent in one of them, because their ratings wouldn't be nearly as high as they are if some people liked them, but that some people doesn't include me.
Shou is a famous idol. Kyoko is his childhood friend. They live together in his giant mansion. Kyoko works in a restaurant and does all of Shou's cook...moreShou is a famous idol. Kyoko is his childhood friend. They live together in his giant mansion. Kyoko works in a restaurant and does all of Shou's cooking and cleaning because she is (not so) secretly in love with him and worships the ground he walks on. Until the day that she overhears him telling his girlfriend how much he hates her, and that he only invited her to Tokyo because (surprise) she was a such a willing slave.
Then she vows to become an idol, too, so she can get revenge. The whole thing is very silly, really, and not in a good way. There were some genuinely funny parts but mostly it was just bizarre. And the girl character really annoyed me. Unlike your typical shoujo character, she isn't cheerful, or bubbly, or cheerfully determined.
Which is understandable, except that the way she shows it is so wrong! She takes it out on innocent people and whines and just acts so damn childish that I kind of sympathized with Shou by the end for wanting to leave her. I mean, God! She's so needy. Does this woman not have a spine?(less)
After a horrifying summer in which teenage boys in England slaughter dozens of innocents,...moreYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian!
After a horrifying summer in which teenage boys in England slaughter dozens of innocents, the government decides to capitalize on the public's new-found fear of children by building a prison to contain juvenile delinquents: it is called Furnace, and makes Hell look like a pleasant drive in the countryside.
Alex was a petty thief, running with the wrong crowd. One day he got too greedy and realized that he and his partner had walked right into a trap. Terrifying men shoot his friend and frame him for his murder. After a court trial, Alex is sentenced to life imprisonment... in Furnace.
Furnace is freaking scary.
The author did a wonderful job using spare details to his best advantage. Prisoners are kept in cells stacked on top of each other. Their schedules are commanded by shrill, ear-blasting sirens. The warden's men and murderous gangs keep the boys in their place, and when they're not collapsed from exhaustion in the relative safety of their cells, they're doing back-breaking physical labor.
That would all be bad enough, right? Wrong. Because in addition to squalor, the utter absence of supervision and outside intervention has given way to horrific depravity. Boys are dragged from their cells in the middle of the night, and never return--at least, not as themselves. Fleshless dogs chase down boys and tear them to shreds while the guards look on. Men walk around like patchwork Frankensteins.
Attempting to escape, no matter how hopeless, always results in a terrible death. Always.
But Alex and his friends might just have found a way out.
I loved this. I hated it for scaring me as much as it did, but I loved the originality and the break-neck pacing. That cliff-hanger was evil and now I'm going to have to hightail it to the library for the sequels because oh my God, how could you end it like that? How could you? Excuse me while I crawl into the corner and rock back and forth for a while, while crying, "Nooooo.... noooooo.... NOOOOOOO."
Once upon a time, there was a girl who read Twilight. And while she liked it--especially the creepier parts--she was annoyed by how sappy the male protagonist was and how easily the female got over his controlling, possessive behavior. And she thought to herself, "Wow, if this guy wasn't a vampire, this story would be totally effed up."
The Horrorscape series was born.
Well, actually, no. Not really. I'm lying. I started this story around '05 or '06, but it wasn't really fleshed out the way it is now until far later.
The premise is about a very young woman who gets romantically entangled with a boy whom she initially perceives as a twisted, tormented soul--only to realize that he's actually a burgeoning psychopath who's quite happy with the way he is, thanks, and by the way HAVE YOU SEEN MY BINDER OF WOMEN? No, seriously. He.... Well, that would be telling, wouldn't it?
Rather than the more usual route of the bad boy being softened by the good girl, Val starts to grow steadily more corrupt under his influence. She starts to develop some mental health disorders of her own, as a result of all the trauma he puts her through, a warped view of her own sexuality, and, ultimately, ends up far more cold and callous than the "nice" girl she initially was. I'm quite proud of this, and have taken great pains to portray him as unappealing as possible despite his attractive facade. While it was spurred on by books like Twilight and FSoG, it is really closer to Lolita or The Collector in tone because Gavin was never meant to be a real love interest, simply because, like the men in the two aforementioned books, he isn't capable of it.
When this was published online, I was often amused when people attempted to rationalize Gavin's sick and twisted behavior (sometimes the lengths to which they would go seemed rather, um, worrying. Men don't do things like this ((view spoiler)[e.g. murdering the friends of, sending threatening messages to, drawing graphic representations of (hide spoiler)]) to women they love). And saddened, because it just goes to show how thoroughly this "love trumps all" stereotype has permeated our culture.
It's definitely safe to say that the endless line of idealized abusive romances in YA and new adult romance prodded me into preparing this for publication. I'm a very contrary person, and my exact mindset at the time was something along the lines of, "They want abusive, border-line psychotic boyfriends? They'll get abusive, border-line psychotic boyfriends! IN SPADES!" Gavin is frightening--and the lengths he goes to possess the female character in this book and the others in the series are, well, horrifying.
Because the Horrorscape series is horror and while there are undertones of romance, the behavior of the characters contained within are far too dysfunctional and superficial to be considered love. And Lovescape doesn't really have the same sort of ring to it, does it?
When a corpse is found drained of blood in Sweden, police are flummoxed. Oskar is twelve-years-old, overweight, and unpopular. He finds out the murder...more
When a corpse is found drained of blood in Sweden, police are flummoxed. Oskar is twelve-years-old, overweight, and unpopular. He finds out the murder had taken place in the woods where he likes to play and thinks that revenge against his cruel bullies has come at last in vigilante form. It is in the woods that he meets Eli, a waif-thin, big-eyed girl who smells faintly of rot and has never seen a Rubik's cube before. This is because she's a vampire. She is living with Hakan, a convicted pedophile, who brings her victims in exchange for sexual favors. Both of them are outcasts and become fast friends.
...Until the murders start increasing in frequency. And Oskar learns his young friend's secret. And Hakan gets caught in the midst of one of his killings and takes matters into his own hands to keep from being identified. And someone else in the village gets infected with the vampire curse. Then shit starts going down - and since this is a Swedish mystery, which are rather notorious for gritty violence, you'll be like:
So. Why didn't I like the book? Well.
1. The pedophile angle was just too squicky and gross. I hate people who molest children and unfortunately, this made up a considerable portion of the book.
2. Oskar is not a likable protagonist. Originally, I was sympathetic. But then he started acting out murders, and making serial killer scrapbooks, and killing his bullies in effigy, and I'm like, "Okayyyy. Hi, Ted Bundy Jr. I must be going now."
3. The violence. There IS SO MUCH VIOLENCE. People's heads getting ripped off, people getting bled dry, people getting fed upon by vampires, pedophiles molesting children, acid being poured on someone's face, beatings and cruel bullying, and just basically a whole bunch of other crap that had me going
. . . no thanks.
4. I feel like the translation is off. It wasn't good, you know? Too many ellipses and one word "yeses" or "uh-huhs" or "yeahs" and stuff that could have just been left out. And then conversations would start and stop abruptly, with really poor transitions. Some translations manage to preserve the eloquence of the original, but this one was anything but eloquent.
5. It's too long to bother wasting my time putting up with stuff I don't want to read about. 470 pages of this nightmare? Yeah.
The copy I received for review had messed-up formatting. Each page was duplicated and sev...moreYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
The copy I received for review had messed-up formatting. Each page was duplicated and several passages of writing were missing.
From what I read, however, the story was only mildly interesting. I'm not a fan of zombie stories, as I've said hundreds of times, and this is--for better or for worse--a zombie story.
I really wish these publishers would be more careful about the books they submit as galleys. This is like the third or fourth book I've received that was so haphazardly constructed that I couldn't read it.
There's something a little bit Jane Austen-y about this book: friends you don't actually realize are friends until the end of the book, brooding sarca...moreThere's something a little bit Jane Austen-y about this book: friends you don't actually realize are friends until the end of the book, brooding sarcastic heroes, endless witty banter, love-turned-to-hate, finding yourself, learning to relate to family, meaningful quotes, and that kind of "this is real life, only far more perfect and fairy-tale-endingy than real life ever is" air.
In fact, Saving Francesca would make a fabulous indie movie. I can picture it now, with a soundtrack by "The Weepies."
This was my introduction to the Melina Marchetta experience. I have been informed that this is the weakest of her books, which gives me amazingly high hopes for her others because wow, do you have any idea how hard it is to find YA chick-lit with likable protagonists? Francesca's a bitch, but she's got a tough life. She's a self-absorbed teenager, and even if her actions make you wince a little, you can't help but think, "Yeah, I've been there."
It's the emphasis on friendship that really makes this book click. Francesca's friends are awesome. There's piano-accordion player Justine, Jimmy the Troller, Thomas the lovably immature asshole, brooding Will, slutty Siobhan, and women's libber Tara. Oh, and there's Sheehan, the cute Lebanese boy. The sad thing is, Francesca is so hung-up on her old friends that she doesn't even realize what she has until she almost loses it.
You can't completely blame her for being self-absorbed, though. Her mother has slowly developed a bad case of depression, and hasn't gotten out of bed for weeks. This forces Francesca to not only examine her relationships with her friends, but also that between her mother- AND her father.
Saving Francesca is more than just a 'girl in an all boys' school' story. It's a surprisingly insightful and poignant regaling of a girl's coming-of-age, and learning to see beyond the superficial trappings of being a teenager.
Even though Wonder is a bit outside my usual genre, Wendy Darling's glowing accolades made me bump this up a little higher on my priority list. When I saw a brand-spanking-new copy on the library's "just in" shelf, I couldn't resist. I now applaud my lack of self-control.
Wonder is the story of a ten-year-old little boy just starting fifth grade at a prestigious middle school. Until now, he has never been in public school because of various health complications and a glaring facial deformity that makes other kids--and adults--treat him like, well, a freak of nature.
In addition to the usual hell of starting at a new school, Auggie has to deal with constant stares and whispers. Some kids are forced by their parents and the principal to be nice to him. Others are nice because they feel sorry for him. Most kids, however, are uncomfortable by his presence, and try to ice him out by playing Plague (touching Auggie means you'll catch a nasty disease), bluntly ignoring him, or calling him names. It's a little heartbreaking, what he has to go through, and anyone who wasn't part of the in-ground back in junior high will be able to relate to a lot of this juvenile social-climbing.
Auggie may look funny on the outside, but on the inside he's a normal boy. He likes ordinary things, he loves his family and his dog, he likes playing video games, Star Wars, and hanging out with his friends. It's just harder for him to get those things, which is sad. Several of the characters talk about "being grateful for what you have," and it's true. When there are people out there who try so desperately to be ordinary, it makes you feel a bit guilty for wanting to be extraordinary.
The other POVs this story was told in came as a pleasant surprise. Normally POV-swapping annoys me, but each different perspective added a different layer of depth to the story. Palacio doesn't portray Auggie as the martyred "differently-abled" kid. He is an imperfect human being and sometimes he can also be a jerk. Sometimes he also uses his condition to manipulate others.
It was interesting to see how his friends and family were affected by Auggie, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. I really loved Summer and Jack, and in spite of my initial doubts, Justin's way of dealing with the bullies brought a big grin to my face. And that ending was perfect.
This could have been sappy or insensitive, but it was lovely and hopeful instead. The graduation scene at the end reminded me of this song/speech by Baz Luhrmann. I get misty-eyed every time I listen to it.
I am in bed right now sobbing the way I did when I read The Fault in Our Stars, or when t...moreYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian!
I am in bed right now sobbing the way I did when I read The Fault in Our Stars, or when the wife in Up died, or when my sweet little kitty had to be put down, and I'm not even ashamed.
Before I Fall is one of the most beautiful stories I've read in a while. Everything about it, from concept to characterization, is perfect. It's hard to write a flawed protagonist and still make her likable, but Oliver does, and I found myself wanting to like Sam in spite of knowing I really shouldn't. It's got a great supporting cast, and she really captures how it feels to be a teenager.
Read the rest of this review @ BookLikes HERE.(less)
I won an ARC of Invisible Sun, the sequel to this book, in a giveaway. When I saw the prequ...moreYou can read my reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian!
I won an ARC of Invisible Sun, the sequel to this book, in a giveaway. When I saw the prequel for sale at my library's bookstore for one dollar, I was like, THE PRICE IS RIGHT.
...I have a problem.
But anyway, in Invisible Sun there were a lot of things that didn't make sense. Like, why does Mimi call Durango "cowboy"? How did Mars get terraformed? Why does everyone speak the curse words of every language fluently? Even though everyone is, predominantly, white? And where did Regulators come from? (Not to be mistaken with the Stephen King novel by the same name.) None of these questions were answered to my satisfaction in Invisible Sun, so I thought Black Hole Sun might be the ticket.
That isn't to say that I don't love this series. I do. Really. At first, I wasn't so sure but the snarky banter grew on me and I just skimmed over the foreign curses because what I imagined them to mean (may your ancestors choke on a barrelful of rancid sardines!) is probably a lot funnier than what they actually do mean (**** @#($)@*##@$@# ****!!!!!!). I can hear that on the freeway any time I want, you know. All I have to do is merge without signaling and the curses, they just fly.*
*I am a responsible driver and would never do this. My sister, on the other hand...**
**My sister is a responsible driver and would never do this, either.
I'm bummed that the Regulator culture isn't described in more detail because it's pretty bizarre. They operate on tenets of honor, like the samurai, and kill themselves to spare themselves the shame of failure. Their greatest honor is to die a "Beautiful Death," a death of battle, so they can go to--I am not kidding--Valhalla. Oh, and they have to cut off their pinkie finger, like the Yakuza.
What kind of a cultural melting pot formed this group, that it would be such a hodgepodge of strange and violent customs from across the world? I don't know. I'd like to know. Backstory, Mr. Gill!
I mean, really. You've got an awesome concept here. Work it!
The Black Hole Sun series comes perilously close to being over the top. It doesn't quite reach that point, at least not for me, but it's close. I think a lot of the snark could be sacrificed to make the transitions between scenes smoother and less hurriedly choppy.
As it is, this is a fun, light-hearted romp through space, and highly reminiscent of the Power Rangers or Beetle Borgs, or one of those other 90s-era teen superhero franchises. Why it isn't a TV series already is beyond me.
Lucky me; I'm the first one-star rater for this book. What an unbelievably shitty and dubious honor.
I've never read anything by Louise Erdrich before,...moreLucky me; I'm the first one-star rater for this book. What an unbelievably shitty and dubious honor.
I've never read anything by Louise Erdrich before, so when I saw this listed on the ARC giveaways, I was excited. A mystery that takes place on a Native American reservation, with murder and scandal and literary merit? How could this possibly be bad?
And it wasn't bad. Not in terms of the writing, at least. I mean, I've received ARCs with typos on every other page and this wasn't like that. But Erdrich is one of those authors who apparently thinks she's too good for quotation marks. I reallllly don't like that style, as it impinges on readability. Plus it's pretentious. It says, "I am trying so hard to be literature and maybe win a Pulitzer." So that was strike one.
It's also boring. There's a lot of talking. Even the action scenes are mostly recounted with talking. It makes for an emotional disconnect between the readers and the characters. Strike two.
Thirdly, the teenage boy protagonist was annoying. There are only so many Star Trek/Star Wars name-drops and penis jokes that I can take. Plus, he's kind of an asshole. My jaw just about dropped when he talked to his mother in that way AFTER SHE WAS RAPED AND NEARLY TORTURED. It was like, Okay, book. You've lost me.
Maybe I'm just not in the right age bracket, but for whatever reason this book and I just didn't click.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. This in no way biased or shaped my reading or opinion of the book. (less)