This book makes some important points about American capitalism and its problems, but it also:
- is essentially 400+ pages of misery-porn that feels aThis book makes some important points about American capitalism and its problems, but it also:
- is essentially 400+ pages of misery-porn that feels a little like playing Misfortune Bingo with someone who hates you - treats its female characters abhorently - claims that its only important female character would be better off dead rather than have survived having been raped by her boss. - seriously, here's the quote:(view spoiler)["No, there was no bearing the load of it, there was no living under it. There would be none for her. He knew that he might pardon her, might plead with her on his knees, but she would never look him in the face again, she would never be his wife again. The shame of it would kill her. There could be no other deliverance, and it was best that she should die"(hide spoiler)] - then promptly has her die, as if to reinforce that horrible statement - makes her rape and death all about her husband - then has him promptly abandon his family when his son dies, and never look back or regret anything - narratively reinforces every one of his crap decisions, even when he's being horrible to other people (like his wife, after she has been raped but before she's dead, when he claims he "might pardon her" - as if somehow being the VICTIM OF A CRIME is her fault?) - repeatedly beats the audience over the head about its political points, as though we're stupid. - magically has Socialism fix the terrible protagonist's life - even though, despite its many benefits, it cannot solve the fact that he is beyond awful. - straight up claims that capitalism damages "women's bodies and men's souls" - as if confusingly women maybe don't have souls, and maybe men don't have bodies? Or just not ones that matter?
I'm still pretty sure that the narrative, and maybe the author, have forgotten that women are people. And I am completely sure that this book has no business bieng a "classic," and that I have gotten a lot less tolerant of the misogyny of many classics with time. It's time to kick some stuff off the canon, and this should be one of the first to go. ...more
So, I thought I'd start the new year with an advice book - as one does. (Well, I usually don't, but it was on the front page of my library's OverdriveSo, I thought I'd start the new year with an advice book - as one does. (Well, I usually don't, but it was on the front page of my library's Overdrive loan website and I went for it. That is almost always a bad idea, and yet I keep doing it). I'm in my early twenties, so this seemed like a good pick. Until it wasn't. I hate giving low ratings, but I cannot in good conscience rate this any higher than maybe a two.
I will admit that a few things in this book are useful. If you're completely confused about finances or other basic aspects of living on your own, it's gives some good advice. (Like, for instance, go see a doctor once a year. Also, you need health insurance). I consider most of the decent advice in this book to be purely common-sense stuff, but that isn't true for everyone and that's okay. I know this book will be useful to a lot of people.
Which is why the bad advice worries me so much. You see, if it gave a lot of decent advice, and then rambled on about stuff that doesn't matter, I'd be fine with it. It would give the right guidelines to the people who need them, and that would be enough.
The problem is that when the advice in this book is bad, it is really, really, really bad.
For instance, the section on relationships and dating practically demands that if you're serious about dating you have to say yes EVERY SINGLE TIME you're asked out.
That is possibly the WORST advice I have ever heard. What if you know the person, and already don't like them? What if you don't know them at all, but they sort of give you the creeps? What if you're me, eight weeks ago, and you're asked out on public transit by a man who won't tell you his last name? What if you're me, six weeks ago, and you're accosted and literally blocked in a hallway outside of your advisor's office at an enormous UC by a med student you've never seen before, who is looking for a "serious relationship with an intellectual?" Should that not set off roughly seventy red flags in your head? Of course it should. And you, like any practical person who values their time (and possibly even their life), would say NO.
You are not required to agree to every date that anyone ever asked you on. Even if you're serious about dating. Even if you feel like you desperately need to find the love of your life posthaste - you don't have to say yes every time. You don't have to say yes to ANYTHING every time. And claiming that you have to is actually straight-up dangerous advice.
You're allowed to say no to anything you want, whenever you damn well want to. And no book targeted at anyone in any vulnerable position should say otherwise.
And in case you thought I was being dramatic about one piece of bad advice, it doesn't end there. There is a lot of body-shaming nonsense (despite lip-service to body positivity), the section on seeing a gynecologist is so unsympathetic to women's realistic fears (that often keep women, especially young women from even GOING to the doctor) as to approach cruelly dismissive, the health section assumes nearly every woman's goal is weight loss, and draws no distinction between advice from licensed doctors and practitioners of alternative medicine (who I know mean well, but whose recommendations should not be implied to be on-par with scientists), and probably more that I can't recall off the top of my head and didn't take notes on.
It's a problem, basically.
On the positive side, the conversational tone this is all written in is consistently entertaining, the section titles are clever, and some of the advice is actually good.
But I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this book to anyone. Because reading it requires sifting through all of the advice and working out which of it is usable and which of it will make you unhappy.
If you're willing to sift through this entire book for the 30-40% of it that is actually good advice, then feel free to do so. It might be worth it. But I feel like I probably could have found a better use of my time. (And worried less about people who feel like if they don't say yes to every date they'll never find someone, and subsequently feel pressured to say yes to dating creeps)....more
This was very cute. Basically, it's two pretentious teenage weirdos falling in love at Christmas. It is very, very cute and has lots of literary referThis was very cute. Basically, it's two pretentious teenage weirdos falling in love at Christmas. It is very, very cute and has lots of literary references (and locations in New York, if that's your thing). There isn't much else going on, besides the cuteness, but it's a nice pick-me-up. ...more
So, I fully admit that I only read this because I'm on an Urban Fantasy kick, the Kindle version was available immediately through my local library, aSo, I fully admit that I only read this because I'm on an Urban Fantasy kick, the Kindle version was available immediately through my local library, and my attention span is shot post-finals so I thought that short stories would be a good idea.
I still love Urban Fantasy, and the OC library system, and short stories - but this anthology really isn't great. Essentially, every story had a cool concept and then some fatal flaw that sent it spiralling into the ground.
"Until Death Do Us Part" by Sherrilyn Kenyon was the best of the bunch, and probably much better if you're invested in Sherrilyn Kenyon's other work (which I'm not) - but I still don't understand why the two primary characters ever got together in the first place, or why they stayed married during 500 years of hating each others guts because of a misunderstanding. Still, this one is at least compelling. Francesca, the best friend of the protagonist, is easily my favorite part.
"Ride the Night Wind" by L.A. Banks was interesting in concept (synchronized dreaming, lots characters of color, complicated familial relationships), but then abandoned the plot for 2/3 of the story in favor of just lots and lots of sex scenes. I mean, I have nothing against sex scenes - I actively like them when they contribute to matters of character - but this is a short story. It just seemed sort of excessive and unnecessary. And only the first one contributed to character construction and development anyway.
"The Gift" by Susan Squires might have been really sweet if it weren't for how distracted I was by its complete and utter misunderstanding of female anatomy. (Like, seriously. Read the sex scene, and then try to explain to me what this story thinks a hymen is. It is nothing like reality. At all. Not even a little bit. I think these characters are in desperate need of an anatomy textbook. Any anatomy textbook published after about the 16th Century will do).
"The Forgotten One" by Ronda Thompson was fine. It just wasn't memorable. And really, unmemorable is not the worst thing that something can be.
So, I wasn't impressed. Or even really entertained. And I'm sure a significant chunk of the cause of that is that I wasn't invested in the series that these stories belong to. Often short stories, even ones that technically fit into a larger series, can stand on their own. It's one of my favorite features of short stories. But these, with the exception of the Sherrilyn Kenyon one (which spends some time explaining the world and also wrapping things up at the end) don't really work on their own. In the context of a larger series, I'm sure that they're perfectly servicable quick check-ins on already beloved worlds. But they didn't really work as standalones, and they didn't really work for me. ...more
The last time I read Wuthering Heights, I didn't like it. This time, I loved it. The book hasn't changed, but I have, and I think I'm finally lookingThe last time I read Wuthering Heights, I didn't like it. This time, I loved it. The book hasn't changed, but I have, and I think I'm finally looking at it with both eyes open.
You see, if you're going into it expecting a gothic romance, you're going to be more than a little bit dissapointed. (And it's not your fault - in cultural conciousness this is still considered a romance. And it kind of still is. There is just SO MUCH ELSE going on).
There are ghosts. And revenge plots. And horribly unhealthy, codependent relationships. And dramtic loveless marriages. And generational cycles of abuse. And commentary on racism. And commentary on screwed-up gender roles and expectations. And two separate gothic mansions. And seemingly endless amounts of absolutely terrible people. And a nanny who gets in everyone's business and then tells the whole story to a weirdly invasive houseguest.
It's great, so long as you are willing to let it take you along for the ride. Don't expect anyone to be a good person - none of them are. That's the whole point. Sometimes horrible people have lots of emotions and ruin everybody's lives, and it makes for a good story. ...more
I love this series, I do, but this installment went nowhere. Raven the pirate princess was fun for like five minutes, and then she just felt like an uI love this series, I do, but this installment went nowhere. Raven the pirate princess was fun for like five minutes, and then she just felt like an unnecessary distraction from the main story. This is basically the comics equivalent of a backdoor pilot for Raven's spin-off series, but without that pilot being about a character we already know. Instead, it introduces a new character in the Princeless world and sets up her story so that it's in place for the spin-off. Which basically means that you could skip this installment entirely and not miss a thing in the main series.
I kind of liked Raven. I might even read her spin-off series. But this installment is entirely unnecessary for Adrienne's story and the overarching plot of Princeless as a series. No sisters were found. No questions were answered (or even asked) about the King and his plans. Adrienne's story stalled and became practically nonexistant. Bedelia isn't even in most of it. Sparky's personality and loyalty to Adrienne dissapears for no good reason and she becomes basically a vehicle that just anyone can take off with. The knights and heroes of the kingdom hired to chase after Adrienne aren't even mentioned. It's literally like this is just a diversion that doesn't have anything to do with the rest of the series.
I recommend skipping it, if you're not planning on reading the spin-off right now. It's not bad or anything, and it's entertaining, but the plot doesn't move and you aren't missing much....more
I love Tim and Alice. I love them at least as much as I loved Samantha and Jase, if not more. They're complicated, and they've been through hell, andI love Tim and Alice. I love them at least as much as I loved Samantha and Jase, if not more. They're complicated, and they've been through hell, and they aren't always unambiguously good people - but they're working on it. It's a redemption narrative, in a lot of ways. I adore those. I adore Tim and Alice. Their relationship is so well written and nuanced that I was sure, for the first several chapters, that I was going to give this book five stars. It was blowing me away.
And then the subplot happened. I don't want to give anything away, so I won't get into specifics, but there's a subplot that rises up and tries to consume the entire narrative. And it's fine, mostly, and there are some moments that are really heartwarming and poignent and sometimes contribute to the redemption arcs. But it isn't necessary to the story. (view spoiler)[In fact, the whole subplot becomes literally unnecessary in a lot of ways by the end, because the whole reason Tim's involved turns out to be a lie (hide spoiler)]. In fact, it hits the story like an anvil from the freaking sky and wrecks a lot of the nuance on the way down.
And I don't really know what to do with that. There is a really wonderfully subtle story of seeking and fighting for redemption, and figuring out what it means to be worthy of love burried in this book. It's there, but it doesn't get nearly enough page time. (Alice doesn't get nearly enough page time, for that matter). This book had the potential to be gloirious, even better than My Life Next Door, but the subplot injects an artificial crisis that the story didn't need, and screws up the pacing and subtlety of the emotional growth in the process.
(view spoiler)[For the record, I don't hate the subplot because I dislike babies or anything. I love babies. I just think that if Tim's emotional arc needed the involvement of a baby, Patsy would have sufficed. Their bond was actually really sweet and well developed, and a nice continuation from My Life Next Door(hide spoiler)]
This story just didn't need that crisis. Tim and Alice's emotional baggage would have been enough of an antagonist, and the absence of the subplot would have freed up room in the novel to actually deal with that baggage, slowly and realistically.
As it is, I still love Tim and Alice. I still love the emotional arcs that are burried in this novel. But the subplot is so much of a distructive destraction that I have to knock off some stars. ...more
I love Dali and Jim SO MUCH. They're adorable, and Dali saving the day with smarts and bravery (and more than making up for anything she lacks in theI love Dali and Jim SO MUCH. They're adorable, and Dali saving the day with smarts and bravery (and more than making up for anything she lacks in the brute strength department) makes me happy.
I'm still kind of dissapointed that we're not getting a full-length Dali and Jim book (which was in the plan for a while, but didn't work out for the authors' schedule) - but this novella is really excellent. I really, really hope we'll get more short fiction of these two in the future. ...more
Oh, how I love Kelley Armstrong. Under ordinary circumstances, crime novels aren't usually my thing. There are plenty of exceptions (a number of crimeOh, how I love Kelley Armstrong. Under ordinary circumstances, crime novels aren't usually my thing. There are plenty of exceptions (a number of crime novels written by and about women, usually. Also, Dennis Lehane's Kenzie and Genarro series), but it's just one of those genres that I wouldn't call one of my absolute favorites. But I love Kelley Armstrong. Oh, how I love Kelley Armstrong.
Even as I mourn the Women of the Otherworld series (which I love beyond all reason), I have to admit that Armstrong's new stuff is just as good.
Because Armstrong knows human beings. She knows character creation and development. She knows motivations. She knows desires. And she knows female characters best of all. She knows exactly what it feels like to be a woman in the world, and she's capable of putting it into writing as an undercurrent beneath all of her female characters in a way that always really impresses me.
So, Casey Duncan is one of Armstrong's usual fare of excellent protagonists. She doesn't live in a supernatural world, but she's just as multi-dimensional as any of Armstrong's UF or paranormal protagonists.
There's also a mystery that sucks you in, an excellent slow-burn romance plot with a love interest who is just as well-drawn and multi-dimensional as Casey, a spooky forest, a toxic friendship, possible cannibles, an off-the-map town, and beautiful writing.
It's a really good book. I knocked off a star basically just for it lagging in pace between Casey's therapy session in the very beginning (where she confesses, in the very first line of the novel, to having killed a man), and when she gets to Rockton. There's a few dozen pages I just don't care about - but once she gets to Rockton, everything hits the ground running. (view spoiler)[I also would have liked for Casey to find out some of the things that she finds out in the climax from the killer a little earlier - like the motivation stuff that seemed a little forced in a monologue (hide spoiler)].
I'm excited for the rest of this series. And I'm excited to read Armstrong's Cainsville series in the meantime, because I haven't gotten to those yet. ...more
For the record, I adore this series. Which, in the case of this installment, was kind of the problem. In any other series, this is a really excellentFor the record, I adore this series. Which, in the case of this installment, was kind of the problem. In any other series, this is a really excellent book. In this series, it's just okay.
I love Kate as much as ever, and I love the world, and I loved learning moore about Roland and this looming threat of his empire on the horizon. I loved the new characters of Desandra (well, I learned to love her) and the shepard. I loved spending more time with Barabus, because he's a personal favorite of mine. I loved Hugh D'Ambray, who is a fantastically compelling antagonist who has some serious (and dangerous, and potentially unwise) chemistry with Kate.
But there are two things that I ordinarily look for in a Kate Daniels book that this installment just doesn't have: tight, intricate plotting and a strong sense of setting.
The plot problems mostly boil down to this: Curran's most dumbass plan subplot. It works so far as exploring the character's emotional states in their reactions goes (it was probably about time to see Kate and Curran's relationship in some peril), but it really does not work in any other way.
(view spoiler)[Long story short, there's a contract on Kate's life that Kate and the reader don't find out about for like eighty percent of the book, because Curran is keeping it from her, and meanwhile he is making a show of betraying her in order to make her a less appealing assasination target. Despite the fact that Kate can definitely defend herself from basically anything, and also may very well be Roland's brand of almost-immortal. Which would make her really freaking difficult to assassinate. Then, Curran doesn't tell her about this stupid plan because he thinks that she can't lie, despite the fact that she's been lying about her identity for twenty-six years. Yeah, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to anyone (hide spoiler)].
I can understand Curran making bad decisions when he's emotionally compromised, and we've seen how crazy he goes when Kate's in danger before. My problem is, he for some inexplicable reason thinks its a good plan? It's not a good plan. Claiming that it is makes Curran seem like an asshole who can't strategize his way out of a paper bag. And it effectively makes him not plot-relevant for the whole freaking book. So we have one of our primary characters who never interacts with the plot at all until the climactic fight, and a threat to our protagonist that appears as barely a blip on the plot radar. I just don't get it.
You know a subplot doesn't work when you can cut it from the book and almost everything stays the same - we could've left Curran back in Atlanta, and had Kate's pain-fueled questioning of their relationship be driven by Hugh's insistence that Curran could never possibly understand what she is. And a poorly-fitting subplot isn't necessarily the end of the world, but I'm so used to this series's usual ability to craft subplots that serve as foils to the main plot, or fit perfectly inside of it. Maybe my expectations were too high.
My second problem with this installment is the setting. Or, rather, lack thereof.
In this whole series, post-Shift Atlanta is so well developed that it might as well be its own primary character. Atlanta is an essential component of this world, the place where most of the worldbuilding is spent in the first place. It is Kate's empire, in a way that is both similar and distinct from the way that Roland builds towers. And it doesn't appear in this book at all.
Well, that's not strictly true. We spend a couple of the first chapters and then the epilogue inside the Keep, but that's it. There's no Atlanta. The setting that we have spent so much time pouring energy and emotional relevance into, that grounds the series, isn't a part of this installment. And while some of the newly-introduced settings along the Black Sea are interesting, I missed Atlanta. It didn't feel quite like a Kate Daniels novel without it. Some of that is definitely that spending most of this book in castles and forests and things made this feel more like a high fantasy novel than an urban fantasy one - but I think most of it is that Atlanta has become so integral to the series that it is really tough to ground this story without it.
So, I didn't absolutely adore this one. I still love the series, and I hear this installment is an iffy one for a lot of people, so I have high hopes for the next one. And, for the record, this is still a really good book. It's worth reading. The scenes with Hugh and Kate are phenomenal, and there's a scene where Kate bonds with a shepard and a tiny magical creature around a campfire that could carry the whole book. Kate's reaction to Curran's assumed betrayal is a punch in the gut in the most visceral way possible, and the writing knocks it out of the park.
Also, there's lot of Barabas and I love him a lot. I can't wait to read the next installment. (Where we'll be back in Atlanta! Hallelujah!)...more