At this point, if you haven’t read the first two books, I definitely don’t suggest you jump in here. If you have, then what’re you waiting for? FairylAt this point, if you haven’t read the first two books, I definitely don’t suggest you jump in here. If you have, then what’re you waiting for? Fairyland has more enchantment, sadness, and whimsy for you. And in this book, September gets to spend time with Ell and Saturday again — the Ell and Saturday she knew in the first book, and not their shadows.
Once again, September doesn’t go back to Fairyland; at least, not so simply and directly. We have another new setting for the friends to explore, and another new problem for September to try to solve. Or do we? There’s no Marquess or Shadow Self to defeat this time, that’s for sure. I enjoyed the setting, and stuff like the taxicrabs, and all the puffins. I’m not entirely certain what the Blue Wind is up to in this book, and it looks like we might have to wait another book to find out…
My only real criticism is that despite the lovely whimsy, there’s a bit too much of it. The plot doesn’t really get going until nearly halfway through, and instead we seem to sort of sightsee — only for things to then rush past enormously fast. But it does say gorgeous things about friendship and love and having a heart, and growing up.
Just as this was settling into a rhythm, where September goes to Fairyland in the first part, wanders about gathering allies, and then solves all the issues, this book shakes things up a bit. It does take a while to get going, but once it is, things don’t quite turn out the way September expects them to, from prior experience, and it ends differently, too. And I gather the next book shakes things up even more, with new protagonists! I don’t know how much I’ll like that, but I can’t wait to give it a try.
Oh thank goodness. I sort of knew it, because I read the extras with Curran’s POV, but Magic Bleeds is the point where Curran and Kate start communicaOh thank goodness. I sort of knew it, because I read the extras with Curran’s POV, but Magic Bleeds is the point where Curran and Kate start communicating properly and fully, and they eventually stop running away from the issues between them. The scenes with them are great; there is indeed a sex scene or two, but you can skip it if that’s not what you’re reading the books for — there’s still an epic amount of fight scenes and showdowns. And witty one-liners and snarky banter.
I’ve never been too inclined to take this series too seriously, so it’s amazing that it does actually pull me in and make me need to know what happens. And at least, unlike the Mercy Thompson books, it’s not like everyone is in love with Kate. And the dynamics of Curran’s pack make more sense than Adam’s pack; while some oppose Kate, she also has allies, and there’s a more robust sense of politics within the Pack. I initially thought of it as lighter than the Mercy Thompson books, less serious, and while it is, and the steaminess is definitely higher, it seems to deal with things better. Like, people around Kate actually manage to respect what she’s capable of, for instance. As a consequence, I’m more invested in this whole group of characters.
Things this book did need more of: Derek. And possibly less of Saiman, because though I kind of want to know what’s up with him and why he’s been in all the books so far, he’s a creepy asshole.
Anyway, we’re getting more and more of Kate’s background, and it’s intriguing. It’s building to an epic climax, and I’m definitely invested in it enough that I might have to beg or borrow the next book right away.
And hopefully we get lots more of Grendel, because that dog is hilarious, and I love her justification for his final name.
This is a bit of a bitty comic, which annoyed me. There’s a couple of issues dealing with the ongoing story, but there’s also a lot of extra stuff — aThis is a bit of a bitty comic, which annoyed me. There’s a couple of issues dealing with the ongoing story, but there’s also a lot of extra stuff — a short one about Thor sometime way in the future, a side story with Thor’s friends, one about Thor having a drinking contest, and then a “what if” about Jane Foster finding Mjolnir originally. That last one is especially difficult if you’re not familiar with Thor’s canon, because it really requires comparison with the original/referenced issues of Thor. (And it ends kind of weirdly, with Odin marrying Jane after Thor goes off with Sif.)
There are some awesome bits, like when the All-Mother gathers a whole army of women (plus the original Thor) to back the new Thor up in a fight. The fight between the All-Father and the All-Mother continues, and Frigga continues to hold her own and demand respect. And of course, there’s Thor going up against the Destroyer.
But, with all the extras, it didn’t feel like a satisfying progression. The main question it answers is a simple one: “Who is Thor?” Which… wasn’t a surprise to me, at all. And then it just leads into Secret Wars, which I’m not all that interested in, although most of the comics I follow are having tie-in issues. Ah, well.
Also, will someone please give the male Thor a shirt?
This has always been on a vague list of ‘I should read this sometime’ books. I knew it as a classic, and I knew a very little about the setting, but mThis has always been on a vague list of ‘I should read this sometime’ books. I knew it as a classic, and I knew a very little about the setting, but mostly I just knew that it was famous as a post-colonial novel from the African continent. Well, there was a challenge on Habitica related to John Green’s Crash Course videos, I spotted it while browsing the Kobo store, and… decided it was about time I fixed my ignorance on this front.
Reading reviews of this book on sites like Goodreads may be rage inducing, by the way. Just a warning. Of course it’s not perfect, but I can’t think of a book that everyone would agree is perfect. It’s important, which is different; it means a lot to a lot of people, and it reflects on things which happened in Nigeria both at the time the book was set, and at the time the book was written. It’s a hybrid of Nigerian and “Western” storytelling; even the title alludes to Western literature, so if you didn’t get that clue, you might be a little puzzled.
I don’t think it’s even trying to be authentically an Igbo story, a kind of non-fiction novel. The story is based in real events, but of course the literary flourishes are here — hubris, hamartia, heck, even ‘daddy issues’. It’s a reflection on a lost world, a world that’s being lost even during the story; it’s not looking back with rose-tinted regret or forward with optimism, but placing the two societies side by side and watching them affect one another. Watching how they critique each other, their incompatibilities, the appeal for people from each side to cross over.
The simple, sometimes colloquial storytelling style is a purposeful, literary device; it’s a simplified version, almost a fable, of a complex history.
I liked this more than the first volume, I think, but it’s weakened by the fact that while Dee is the centre of the plot, we still don’t really get toI liked this more than the first volume, I think, but it’s weakened by the fact that while Dee is the centre of the plot, we still don’t really get to know her. In fact, we get flashbacks for Hannah and Violet. I’m actually getting more into the characters now, and especially the on/off thing with Sawyer and Hannah, but still… I don’t know, it’s not quite working for me. I completely forgot several side characters, and had a moment of confusion when they reappeared.
Fortunately, I do love the art — even the transition between artists (and props to Wiebe for putting his money where his mouth is and firing Upchurch over the domestic violence) was okay, and I like Sejic’s work as much or maybe more than I did Upchurch’s. It’s all pretty fun, and at least it’s sex-positive and the girls are in charge of their own destinies. I loved the moment between Violet and her mother particularly, for that. It’s not the cliché you’re no daughter of mine! moment, and that makes it more interesting.
Also, um, referring to Dee as a “chocolate princess”? Presumably because of the colour of her skin? Hm.
Okay, this review on Goodreads kind of sums up some of the problems I’m having. All the super-werewolf-dominance stuff is getting on my nerves, partlyOkay, this review on Goodreads kind of sums up some of the problems I’m having. All the super-werewolf-dominance stuff is getting on my nerves, partly because these dynamics are not true of actual wolves in the wild (it’s based on an understanding of wolf social behaviour in captivity), and I am noticing that Mercy’s not a fan of other female characters (at least ones that might be rivals; Jesse, as the daughter of her love interest, is okay) because they’re all submissive or concerned with their appearance or whatever. (Though to be fair, this book does have a few moments of understanding between Mercy and Honey.)
But… it’s still kind of fun anyway, if you keep in mind that yeah, it’s heavy on the tropes. The mystery pulls us deeper into vampire lore and politics, for this book, which is quite fun. I have had enough of the love triangle… quadrilateral… thing, but I sort of knew I was signing on for it with these books. I will be quite interested to see how Mercy and Adam negotiate the issue of dominance between them; it could end up being quite an interesting dynamic, and I like that Adam is conscious of it and willing to work on it. We’ll see how that goes in the next book or two, I guess.
We’re also getting more development of what Mercy is capable of, and she does start being more active and less inclined to let the wolves tell her what to do. It is cool that she works within a team, but I wish they didn’t hold her back so much.
Oh, and I love Warren and Kyle, and there needs to be 100% more of them.
This book has high quality pages, so you can definitely use pens, and there are some lovely designs. They tend to be more finicky — lots of little secThis book has high quality pages, so you can definitely use pens, and there are some lovely designs. They tend to be more finicky — lots of little sections to pen in, rather than big areas to colour — which may or may not suit you. The thing I think is most offputting about this book is that most of the pages are already partly coloured. I’m doing the fox from the front cover, for instance, and it comes with a coloured background and some sections of the head already coloured. Normally, I’m one of those creatures who prefers to colour in the lines and with the colours of nature, so I was a little hesitant about my rainbow fox. On the other hand, sometimes it’s nice to just colour something in differently, and see what it looks like as a complete picture — you might consider the already coloured parts of the pictures to be a sort of challenge to get really creative!
The last third of the book is for ‘doodling’, though there’s some scope for colouring, too. I was less interested in this stuff, and don’t know if I’ll really make use of it. The whole point of colouring books, for me, is that my dubious drawing skills don’t come into it.
Still, high quality book, and some of the multicolour designs come out looking surprisingly good, if you want to try something different.
This is not a book full of gorgeous full colour photographs of bowers made by birds, chimpanzee tools, termite nests, etc. I was a bit baffled to seeThis is not a book full of gorgeous full colour photographs of bowers made by birds, chimpanzee tools, termite nests, etc. I was a bit baffled to see someone giving it less stars because it isn’t that kind of book. Instead, it’s a book that goes into how making structures and using tools could be evolved, and whether it’s automatically a sign of intelligence. To me, the point begins to get a bit laboured, because I can well believe that small changes, small steps, can build up to huge effects. I mean, that’s evolution for you. That’s how it works.
The interesting thing, perhaps, is that Hansell would like to be more optimistic about the link between intelligence and tool use, and yet has to acknowledge that the data really doesn’t support it. In consequence, if Hansell told me something is a sign of intelligence, I’d be inclined to believe him. He doesn’t blind himself to the actual data through wanting a certain outcome.
My main issue with this was really the way it sort of… tailed off. There’s a final chapter talking about birds and whether they create art, and perhaps how art developed in humans, and — then there’s nothing. No conclusion. Even the chapter seems to end a bit weakly. I’d like to see something that synthesises the whole argument and presents it in a nutshell, along with any points about data yet to be collected that could shed more light on the issues. I’m sure Hansell could’ve done that; all the info is there. But this critique is maybe more the English Lit graduate part of me.
The subtitle of this book is “Four Events That Changed The World”, which might raise a question in some people’s minds since none is earlier than 1755The subtitle of this book is “Four Events That Changed The World”, which might raise a question in some people’s minds since none is earlier than 1755. Well, it’s not saying these are the only important disasters to change the world, or even the most important; the idea is, I think, that these are events which prompted thought, scientific advances, and provisions for the future. The earthquake in Lisbon prompted innovation in building techniques; the toxic fog in Europe prompted thinkers like Franklin to work on the atmosphere (and gave us important information about climate change); Krakatau prompted research on volcanoes and impacted ecosystems; the tsunami in Hilo prompted international cooperation to get together a warning system.
These aren’t really about single great triumphs of someone in particular, but about the development of a deeper understanding of the Earth and the way it works. Sadly for me, it’s mostly about eyewitness accounts and less about the scientists, architects and politicians who had to respond to the events. It’s pretty much disaster porn to just go on about the way someone’s skin was hanging off their body during the eruption of Krakatau — I’d be much more interested in the scientific side of things.
But I guess for that, I have my Open University textbook… I just wish this had been somewhere in between: illustrative, but more scientific. It’s not badly written, and there is interesting information, but I got a little bit tired of the scenes of horror.
Once upon a time, I read The French Lieutenant’s Woman and, to my surprise, rather enjoyed it. It’s not the kind of novel I normally go for, but the wOnce upon a time, I read The French Lieutenant’s Woman and, to my surprise, rather enjoyed it. It’s not the kind of novel I normally go for, but the writing is good, and it had me intrigued despite myself. So I picked up The Magus, only to leave it on the shelf for a couple of years awaiting some mythical ‘round tuit‘. When it came to picking a book for a challenge that I should’ve read in school, I was pretty stuck, because I nearly always did my reading — the only exception being a Robin Hood novel which had Fabio on the cover. So I decided this more or less counted and dug in.
At first, it was good to dig into; the writing is good, evocative, solid. The descriptions of Greece are gorgeously claustrophobic, making me think at once of the violent myths of Ancient Greece and the sunny happily-ever-afters of Mary Stewart’s adventure romances set in that area of the world.
But… there’s something terribly same-y about the ennui of the narrator. It did remind me of a widely touted literary antecedent — Great Expectations — without characters as bold and dark as Miss Havisham. It reminded me too, somehow, of The Great Gatsby. Fowles’ introduction talks about how it’s a profoundly adolescent sort of story, and perhaps that’s why it also conjured up The Catcher in the Rye a little.
What do those three novels have in common? I wasn’t a great fan of any of them…
The Magus remains beautifully written throughout, but the tone drags decidedly and I just really longed for Stewart’s version of Greece, with characters who care and dare and do, rather than halfass around the place. Despite my two degrees in English Lit, I fear I’m proving myself terribly bad at reading literary fiction with appreciation! Alas. (But then again, I did love The French Lieutenant’s Woman…)
This is a horribly difficult book to read, not because Zimbardo’s writing is bad or the subject is uninteresting, but because it exposes how easily peThis is a horribly difficult book to read, not because Zimbardo’s writing is bad or the subject is uninteresting, but because it exposes how easily people can be manipulated into a role — and I don’t just mean the guards, but also the prisoners. It’s important because it examines, in minute detail, the events of a now infamous experiment: the Stanford Prison Experiment. This was run, not by Stanley Milgram, as people often think, but by Philip Zimbardo, and even he became caught up in the act of it. It wasn’t even a very convincing prison, and yet it quickly made both guards and prisoners act their roles. And not even them, but people outside it who should have seen through the illusion, like the chaplain.
Both this experiment and Stanley Milgram’s experiments are kind of horrifying, because we don’t want to think it’s that easy. If you read Behind the Shock Machine, by Gina Perry (the title links to my review), she shows that it’s not that easy — Milgram’s experiments were honed to a fine point, and only the results which supported his conclusions most spectacularly were published. But still, the fact remains that you don’t have to scratch far below the surface to find something unsavoury about the way humans seem to act.
As Dar Williams says in ‘Buzzer’: I get it now, I’m the face, I’m the cause of war; we don’t have to blame white-coated men anymore.
This book, this experiment, isn’t all there is to be said about human nature, of course. But it’s an important account of something which revolutionised our understanding of human psychology, and shone a light on things we need to examine — even if they turn out not to hold as true as we fear. Kudos to Zimbardo for his unflinching discussion of everything that went on in the experiment, and every time he failed to safeguard the interests of the participants.
I only meant to pick up the second Patricia Briggs book when I was at the library, but then I spotted this and Magic Bleeds, and I couldn’t resist it.I only meant to pick up the second Patricia Briggs book when I was at the library, but then I spotted this and Magic Bleeds, and I couldn’t resist it. It’s exactly what I’m in the mood for right now: snarky, full of action and a will-they-won’t-they romance. Curran and Kate are rather more powerful in that regard than either of Mercy’s paramours; I think I’ll read Magic Bleeds next, since I’m obviously in the mood for this world.
Again, it’s not deathless prose, the most subtle thing ever, etc, etc. However, I do like the worldbuilding, the slow reveal of Kate’s heritage, the various tangles of loyalties and friendships between the characters, and yeah, the snappy dialogue. If this one doesn’t make you laugh, then you must be in a state. (Or it isn’t your thing, and that’s fine. For me, though, it’s funny because it’s a give and take. No one gets humiliated, no one backs down.)
The action was particularly good in this one, with the arena fights. The mythological stuff in the background is interesting, too, and characters I didn’t expect to be developed were given a bit more time, a bit more colour.