I most enjoyed Mattlin's strong, caustic voice during the raw and raunchy sections of his memoirs, which lifted the curtain on some of the most privatI most enjoyed Mattlin's strong, caustic voice during the raw and raunchy sections of his memoirs, which lifted the curtain on some of the most private aspects of his life. I was expecting a bit more of Movement history- there's not a lot here aside from scattered factoids about contemporary events (including a Judith Heumann shoutout, natch). Mattlin is unsparing and few people come off rosy and fresh- not his deliberately clueless brother, or his occassionally obliviously cruel father, or the parade of bumbling and often criminal assistants, or even his callow, sex-obsessed teenage self pursuing tail for the self-gratification and self-affirmation of it all. It was all very real, and told straight up, adding to the generous lashing of humor. I loved the parts with his mom to bits.
Despite portraying a deeply intimate marriage that weathered a variety of physical, financial, and psychological stresses, Mattlin does not do a good job with the romance. ML is clearly a center point of his life, and yet he chooses to keep many of the dynamics of that relationship under wraps, a delicacy that is all the more shocking for his cheerful disregard for traditional boundaries around the pitfalls of the human body. It is not often you read someone with no physical bashfulness but with some very high emotional privacy fences.
Mattlin's greatest asset is his voice, which enlives even the most mundane of moments. I believe I have also been primed for exactly such a voice narrating many of these same scenes of awkwardness, rejection, growth, and survival by all too many years of reading Lois McMaster Bujold. There were several eerie echoes of my favorite space opera romantic adventure hero, rebounded again by Mattlin's nerdish love of many things sci-fi.
A very quick read, compulsively readible, and completely worth it....more
I gave this a go after the Arabist noted that no one had yet to write the 'Ten Days that Shook the World' of the Arab Spring: http://www.arabist.net/bI gave this a go after the Arabist noted that no one had yet to write the 'Ten Days that Shook the World' of the Arab Spring: http://www.arabist.net/blog/2012/8/28... I'm not sorry I read the book, byzantine, unfocused, and sentimental though it was.
Reed was clearly immersed in the history of all the players as the October Revolution came to a head- he jumps in midstream and gleefully recounts the intrigues of Bolsheviki, Mensheviki, Mensheviki Internationalists, Cadets, Left Socialist Revolutionaries, provisional governments, all kinds of ad hoc worker, soldier, and peasant organizations, and enough committees to bring the cows home. And Reed often captures the stunning anticlimax of an underdog victory- wandering through the Winter Palace after the Red Guards take the building, for example, where the primary issues seem to be confusion and a brave effort to keep people from stuffing their pockets with souvenirs. Reed's at his best capturing snippets of key players dashing to and from the next battle and in his relentless cataloguing of the tsunami of posters, notices, circulars, articles, pamphlets, and marginalia of the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary forces.
That said, Reed is of course an unreliable narrator hugely invested in the Bolshevik narrative. He is prone to sudden, maudlin, and often condescending bouts of sentimentality. For example, while describing the burial of Bolshevik-affiliated dead at the Kremlin Reed takes a moment laden with potential pathos and kills it with the memorable line, "The poor love each other so!" Reed goes to endless lengths to describe the rough, simple, uneducated, dirty, smelly, and ect. nature of his proletarian protagonists; despite this he never really conveys what passions, convictions, and other forces motivated ordinary people to participate in one way or another in this second revolution. Reed may be ideologically committed to rule of the proletariat but he's certainly first and foremost an elite in the vanguard- he writes about working people as though they were a noble but alien race.
The best lines, of course, go to a forceful, contemptuous, devastating Lenin- try these remarks on a movement within his own party to reestablish freedom of the press: "To tolerate the bourgeois newspapers would mean to cease being a Socialist. When one makes a Revolution, one cannot mark time; one must always go forward- or go back. He who now talks about the 'freedom of the Press' goes backward, and halts our headlong course toward Socialism...It is impossible to separate the question of the freedom of the Press from the other questions of the class struggle. We have promised to close these newspapers, and we shall do it. The immense majority of the people is with us!"
There certainly are interesting historical paralells to draw, some founded and others less so. But Reed does a good job of showing how categorically easy it is to outflank moderates, and how the threat of a coup from the right lends leverage to those seeking an equally drastic turn to the left. Amidst the chaos, confusion, and misery of this revolution, the most ideological and committed parties were best positioned to sieze power in a winner-takes-all strategy. The failures of republican-minded Russian revolutionaries to carry the day are left to another book's analysis....more
I did my best and worked my way through all the stories, but at the end of the day the only one worth it is Joanna Bourne's lovely tale of reunited loI did my best and worked my way through all the stories, but at the end of the day the only one worth it is Joanna Bourne's lovely tale of reunited lovers foiling an espionage plot. Consider this five stars for Bourne's story and minimal love for the rest....more
Oh, Mary Balogh. If I lived in the same country as a public library, I would never shell out cash for a new release ever again... First, let's start wOh, Mary Balogh. If I lived in the same country as a public library, I would never shell out cash for a new release ever again... First, let's start with the whole premise of a "Survivor's Club." Also, by this point all of her previous characters, populating every other scene, merge together in an unwholesome muddle of dukes and viscounts. Finally, I've seen all of this before. If Lady Muir's first marriage had an interesting spin, nearly everything else in The Proposal was classic Balogh, in a been-there-done-that sort of way.
Will I read the next one? Of course (public library please!). Why? Despite everything, Balogh knows how to put together the bare bones of an excellent, angsty love story. She may then procede to kill all of the angst with her heavy-handed pen, but pretend for a moment that rather than heavily editorializing the opening meeting of wounded vets, she let the group speak for themselves? Tone down the titles a few notches, leave the corny group moniker for the marketing department, and carry the story forward with snappy dialogue vice plodding internal exposition and what do you have? A classic Balogh regency- sweet, poignant, a little angsty, and wonderful. If I have to wade through crap to get at the ghost of those really excellent books, I guess I'll do it....more
I loved the angst of this trilogy, but unfortunately Andrews did not manage to match her pacing to the short format of a series book. If I was intriguI loved the angst of this trilogy, but unfortunately Andrews did not manage to match her pacing to the short format of a series book. If I was intrigued by the drama (and I was) and caught up in the suspence (that too) I was ultimately left disappointed by the hyperspeed resolution to some very weighty plot points. Also, Walker was a judgmental ass. The end....more
There is one scene in this book worth reading (hint: it's the dirty one). All else is mildly goofy but bearable. However, the book clearly needed oneThere is one scene in this book worth reading (hint: it's the dirty one). All else is mildly goofy but bearable. However, the book clearly needed one more encounter of the close kind before wrapping; the lack of such a scene left me nonplussed, as the book basically just ends with their reunion scene....more
I started this, put it down for a few months, but was surprisingly engrossed when I picked it back up again. The female lead is insufferably impulsiveI started this, put it down for a few months, but was surprisingly engrossed when I picked it back up again. The female lead is insufferably impulsive, leading to ridiculous behavior like bashing her car's headlights in to establish a relationship with the car mechanic male lead. That said, the family drama was interesting and angsty. Unfortunately the page limit meant that Andrews randomly kills a character and has the leads jump into each others arms in about 10 pages to wrap this up in a neat bow- very unconvincing, and a disservice to the juicy material she developed midway through the book....more
Lorelei James is far and away my deepest, darkest, most favorite guilty pleasure. Unfortunately this new addition was boring. I was ready for some delLorelei James is far and away my deepest, darkest, most favorite guilty pleasure. Unfortunately this new addition was boring. I was ready for some delicious angst with the brothers- she marries an old womanizing buddy who had slept with her sister-in-law and starts a new ranching life in defiance of her brothers' small-spirited exclusion... meh. Nothing was played to its dramatic potential, and the sex was soft-serve vanilla to boot. It's a shame....more
I started this book under the impression that this would be a conservative's take on the Juan Cole Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East model ofI started this book under the impression that this would be a conservative's take on the Juan Cole Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East model of history- an extended analysis of America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan told through the lens of another historical incident. Despite signaling in this direction in his first chapter, Hanson actually hews closely to the historical material at hand. The organization of the narrative by common war experiences (fire, disease, armor, horses, walls, ships) served very well at the beginning although it did make the end a bit of a slog as characters and battles discussed previously would be dredged through again under the framework of a following chapter. Hanson is a strong writer who makes the life of an average Athenian or Spartan surprisingly accessible given the intervening years. ...more
I bought it for the recipes, as I love uncomplicated dinner and I like their blog: http://www.dinneralovestory.com/. Although there were a few too manI bought it for the recipes, as I love uncomplicated dinner and I like their blog: http://www.dinneralovestory.com/. Although there were a few too many editing errors that threw me out of the flow, for the most part the memoir/narrative sections were so interesting and well-written I plowed through cover to cover as though it were a book. Lovely....more
I take back all the mean thoughts I had about this book while reading Ravishing the Heiress. Despite several problems, this book hooked me far more stI take back all the mean thoughts I had about this book while reading Ravishing the Heiress. Despite several problems, this book hooked me far more strongly than its two predecessors. Thomas masters the classic amnesia trope (a guilty favorite of mine since I read Until You in middle school) and delivers a surprisingly compelling, if brief, story of antagonism sliding into mutual appreciation. Yes, the beginning of the book is infodump for the previous two installments. Yes, it is hard to understand the deep lack of self-esteem behind Hasting's utter failure to remake his relationship with Helena. Yes, the book is entirely too short to carry all of the plot points. Despite all that, this may be my favorite of the three. Books are funny like that....more
A surprizingly nice romance, especially given the lukewarm review that initially pointed me towards the book: http://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/ov...A surprizingly nice romance, especially given the lukewarm review that initially pointed me towards the book: http://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/ov.... I thought both characters exceptionally well written. While I too would have wished for a more explicit conversation on why Fox behaved as he had, I thought the erotic writing, for once, carried the day in terms of character development. The secondary romance was exceptionally underwritten but managed to be intriguing inspite of itself. Overall, a decent read, if not of the caliber of Scandal....more
I had had fabulous luck with Her Best Worst Mistake and after that Within Reach was a bit of a letdown. There was nothing wrong with the story; howeveI had had fabulous luck with Her Best Worst Mistake and after that Within Reach was a bit of a letdown. There was nothing wrong with the story; however, the subject matter lent itself to a much more low-key, even sad story. ...more
So this book was just bizarre. So little of characters' actions or words rang true; the doctor's dialogue when Sasha gave birth was a prime example. TSo this book was just bizarre. So little of characters' actions or words rang true; the doctor's dialogue when Sasha gave birth was a prime example. The banter was clearly intended as jaunty, world-weary, but instead struck me as beyond strange and stilted. Much of Catherine's dialogue with Pam also rang false. Catherine's job per se was never clear to me- she was there in the class as emergency medical personnel? A (poor) babysitter? Another teacher? When one of her students informs her that a fellow classmate was impregnated by her teacher, Catherine did not even blink twice. In fact, Catherine throughout seemed far more interested in her students' future babies than she ever did in these teenage girls themselves. Indeed, the portrayals of teengage girls, from dreamy but oblivious Sasha to militantly self-absorbed Della struck me not just as negative, but also slightly off. Joe's sister-in-law was a walking talking stereotype of the bad "slutty" woman. Michael was wildly inconsistent as a character, swinging between perceptive and supportive older brother to oblivious husband with horns. As for Charlie, no 15 year old boy I've ever met talks like that...
I liked that Joe was often rude, impatient, and blunt. He and Fritz often felt like the only true characters in a book populated by people who acted slightly not quite right, like fish that's just one day past it's prime. Still edible, but off....more
Upfront, I have to say that I did not particularly enjoy this book. I think it's me, not the book. I never fully engaged with the plot; the book did nUpfront, I have to say that I did not particularly enjoy this book. I think it's me, not the book. I never fully engaged with the plot; the book did not sweep me away into hours of reading. Instead I read this book dutifully, bit by bit. I am not sure what is wrong with me. For all her many strengths, Mosca was never a vehicle for me to slip in and explore this fabulous world.
Hardinge is indisputably a fantastic writer. My copy is dogeared from all of the times I was especially caught by a strange but compelling turn of phrase- Mosca's "peppery" eyes were a particular favorite of mine. In addition, the book is thoughtful about the power of the written word to manipulate, inform, delight, and terrify. The analogy of the Clamouring Hour was particularly well done.
Perhaps someday I will have a reason to return to this book. I hope I will be in a more receptive frame of mind when I do....more
A bizarre, quirky, unexpectedly touching tale of a girl, her best friend, and a contemplated 80s pop star look-a-like contest to be held to find her bA bizarre, quirky, unexpectedly touching tale of a girl, her best friend, and a contemplated 80s pop star look-a-like contest to be held to find her baby daddy. Sometimes I just wanted to smack Eleanor, with all of her disdain for Reading and the people who populate it. That said, Hugh was dreamy, if frustratingly reticent, and the humor was dark and lovely. ...more
Fil is great- she's also awkward as fuck, intense, self-protectively callous, and utterly oblivious when she wants to be. The book plunges forward intFil is great- she's also awkward as fuck, intense, self-protectively callous, and utterly oblivious when she wants to be. The book plunges forward into the nerdlove more commonly dissected on my most favorite of blogs, http://captainawkward.com/, than seen in your typical contemp romance. I really liked who surfaced as Fil's ultimate love interest and it made an intriguing contrast to another Cohen romance, One Night Stand. That said, what really made this book was the constant framing through all of the canons and fandoms that defined me growing up- plenty of Star Trek, a smattering of D&D, marathons of X-Files, and ect. Hilarious, and spot on. I could also easily see the relationships, smoldering with banked over disfunction but sputtering along in determined see-no-evil, hear-no-evil style. I've been in a few social circles like this, and I have seen far more at that motherload of nerd-disfunction, UofC. It was nice to see one of us plopped down in the role of romantic lead, and to see her (eventually) pull her shit together and learn how to be an adult. Awkward, but self-actualized. It's what I go for every day....more
The book was not nearly as funny as it thought it was. Especially in the first half, dialogue was contrived, stilted, and overly precious. Several secThe book was not nearly as funny as it thought it was. Especially in the first half, dialogue was contrived, stilted, and overly precious. Several secondary characters were little more than outrageous stereotypes reanimated for what purpose I cannot fathom (thinking Alkedama and his dudes here). I finished largely because of the plot's strong forward momentum in the second half, but this book (the first of the series) is also the last for me....more
Meh, this was a good lying in bed before nodding off sort of book. Cain seeks scientific and academic support for her (very reasonable) claim that AmeMeh, this was a good lying in bed before nodding off sort of book. Cain seeks scientific and academic support for her (very reasonable) claim that American society privileges extroversion at the expense of important value added by introverts operating in introversion-friendly environments. Many of the earlier chapters sample studies that attempt to establish fundamental neurological, genetic, and biochemical foundations of introversion/extroversion. Later chapters are far more interesting, especially the focus on the possibilties and limits of self-management of introversion in the pursuit of meaningful goals....more
Hemingway wrote with power. He was also a giant dick. I am afraid these are the two main conclusions I draw here.
Hemingway punches through some fortyHemingway wrote with power. He was also a giant dick. I am afraid these are the two main conclusions I draw here.
Hemingway punches through some forty years of intervening life to sketch himself struggling in a cold garret to write "one true sentance. Write the truest sentance that you know." The warm cafes and kirsch, sex with Hadley during the Paris winter, feverish gambling on a spring day- these are all clear and true sentances. But Hemingway was unforgiveably cruel to his many friends' memories, and there is a petty self-righteousness in these vignettes that reflects so much more poorly on Hemingway than on anyone else. His relentless obsession with performing balls-out masculinity is also sad and small.
But how lovely:
"When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest."...more
I resented having to place this book down and exit the world that Sara and Gerald Murphy invented for themselves. It was all too easy to slip into theI resented having to place this book down and exit the world that Sara and Gerald Murphy invented for themselves. It was all too easy to slip into the grace and charm of Villa America, or to envision the full-tilt excitement of painting backdrops for Parade and hosting the Ballets Russes set for a drunken soiree in honor of Les Noces ending with Stravinsky jumping through a laurel wreath. (Seeing the 'Misia, Queen of Paris' exhibit at the Musee de Orsay and the Paul Guilliame collection at the Orangerie provided gorgeous visuals for these passages!) Even the china, the end tables, and Sara's filmy dresses and pearls provided the sense of a life painstakingly crafted, constantly reimagined, and ultimately fragile.
Of course, the back to back tragedies of the 1930s tarnish the golden prince-and-princess nature of their story. Despite flashes of warmth (Dorothy Parker camping out at the sanatorium with them, Leger coming to sketch with Patrick, Hemingway arranging a wild west foray for the kids) it was striking how selfish, small, and mean many of their 'great man and woman' friends were. Despite the art, the dinners, the conversation, the modernity and the daring, these were just people making (lousy) choices and trying but all too often failing to lead lives congruent with their senses of self. Try Scott Fitzgerald: "When I like men I want to be like them. I want to lose the outer qualities that give me my individuality and be like them. I don't want the man; I want to absorb into myself all the qualities that make him attractive and leave him out." But also: "...you'll let me have my little corner of you where I know you better than anybody- yes, even better than Gerald. And if it should perhaps be your left ear (you hate anyone to examine any single part of your person, no matter how appreciatively- that's why you wore bright clothes) on June evenings on Thursday from 11:00 to 11:15 here's what I'd say: That not one thing you've done has been for nothing.... The people whose lives you've touched directly or indirectly have reacted to the corporate bundle of atoms that's you in a good way. I have seen you again & again at a time of confusion take the hard course almost blindly because long after your powers of ratiocination were exhausted you clung to the idea of dauntless courage." How to reconcile the cruelty, selfishness, and love?
The open question of Gerald's sexuality was particularly compelling. There was his unnamed anguish over the falseness of his public persona and his insistence that his love for Sara was true and necessary but also lacking a certain vitality/honesty: "terribly, terribly sorry that I am as I am... only one thing would be awful and that is that you might not know that I love only you. We both know it's inadequate (that's where 'life' comes in);- but such as it is it certainly is the best this poor fish can offer,- and it's the realest thing I know." The narrative presents an unsettling and unanswered question- does sexual incompatability or infidelities of the mind and heart (if not the body) make romantic love any less 'real' or 'true'? Or is the ultimate proof commitment- the daily choice to remain with one's partner and invest in them? Is such a choice sad, pitible, noble, tragic, beautiful, all of the above? Disturbing and bittersweet......more
My recent read of Carolina Home gave me a taste to re-read Roberts's Chesapeake quartet, a much loved set of books that I lent out and never got back.My recent read of Carolina Home gave me a taste to re-read Roberts's Chesapeake quartet, a much loved set of books that I lent out and never got back. So there was nothing to do but order a new set and read away. This is number two in the series and always felt like the most realistic of the books. Unlike books 1, 3, and 4, the leads are "normal" people (a fisherman and a house cleaner) rather than world-famous stuntmen (what a Roberts archetype! Sea Swept, Finding the Dream) or ect.
What I love most about good Roberts novels is their quiet, lovely normality and focus on family relationships. When she goes paranormal, the stories inevitably become more than a bit hokey. Thus the plot line about Ethan's dad and their conversations beyond the grave annoyed me more than I remembered from back in the day, even though they were relatively subtle. That said, reading this book was comfortable, cozy, and took me back to all the dreams and delights of romance-reading Liz circa 2002. ...more
I was tempted into this book by a youtube clip from an interview with the author. That clip hit the highlights of this book: namely, that elite secondI was tempted into this book by a youtube clip from an interview with the author. That clip hit the highlights of this book: namely, that elite secondary schools continue to reproduce the privilege of wealthy elites but they do so while also perpetuating a narrative in which rich kids succeed because they are talented, gifted, hard workers, ect. and not because they are rich.
Some of Khan's narrative passages early on have a captain of the obvious feel- yes, schools (like other institutions) socialize their members by diminishing the importance of previous identities and pressing upon members a new sense of who they are and how they relate to other actors in the new environment. So yes, we see the "newbs" at St. Paul's experimenting with dress, musical tastes, and speech until they find paths for success in this new structure. Duh.
Far more interesting was Khan's ability to unpack a seeming contradiction: American wealth has become more concentrated in the hands of elites (the infamous 1%) at the same time that civil rights movements have borne fruit in greater diversity (although nothing close to parity) in American educational institutions. I like Khan's conception of democratic inequality, in which a certain amount of diversity, combined with a narrative of meritocracy, creates the illusion of an open society while obscuring systems of oppression that continue to produce structural inequality in American society. Khan highlights that while students in elite schools may work hard (although there is no guarantee that they do) and demonstrate ease within a variety of academic and cultural situations (although that ease may mask lack of knowledge or superficial thinking), these students tend to be relatively average in their native talent. Yet the narrative of families, schools, teachers, and peers encourages the perception that the fruit of their labors (Ivy League school, high paying job) is the result of sheer native talent and hard work vice accumulated social capital (and a high school that spends $80k per student!!!). The corollary to this argument is that working class people are not a class per se (operating within political, economic, and social constraints) but rather people who have failed to work hard and who have closed themselves off to the pick-and-choose variety that defines elite cultural values.
Khan's other intriguing point is that social capital is not knowledge/goods, as commonly envisioned, but rather physical and social practices that must be embodied, performed, and accepted by the given audience: "So the analogy of cultural capital as 'money in your wallet' is somewhat misleading. Instead, I most often thought of culture in a relation way. My observations guided me to think of culture as a practice, not a possession." In Khan's analysis, elite schools reproduce privilege by taking children of elites and instructing them how to embody the attitudes and practices of the elite (to be at "ease" in a wide spectrum of situations and to be comfortable relating to authority figures and playing by the rules to ascend hierarchical structures). Students of color and women students have a more contentious relationship to the hierarchy- as they are visibly and inescapably different from the norm they must be more self-conscious and deliberate about how they relate to others. This self-consciousness interrupts their embodiment of elite status (ie "ease") and can prompt these students to swallow the elite school narrative of unalloyed meritocracy with more than a few grains of salt. Interestingly, Khan argues that class background does not have this effect- class can effectively be laundered through the gradual embodiment of elite practices whereas race and gender are less fluid categories. The presence of non-traditional students at these schools perversely reinforces elite students' self-perception as high-achievers (although when race or gender pops up to make systematic oppressive hierarchies visible, as in the case of the black teachers sitting at the very back of the room, elites feel great discomfort).
Worth the read and certainly there was more than a few moments of wry self-recognition for me, although my high school was a far cry from St. Paul's. If privilege is the ability to *not* think, to *not* worry, to *not* have to compensate for how others will perceive you, then elite schools surely foster the privilege of elites who are told they succeed because they work hard, compete in a fair system, and win based on native talent. Khan argues that these schools reproduce elite status while hiding the mechanics of structural oppression behind a curtain, never challenging students to evaluate the nature of their relative success and prosperity....more
The middle two stories carried the collection (four stars, easy). The first story depressed me, as I wanted to mourn the male lead's loss of the countThe middle two stories carried the collection (four stars, easy). The first story depressed me, as I wanted to mourn the male lead's loss of the country he fought for, his cultural identity, his hopes for the future, and I knew he would likely be mourning for some time as well. That left the shininess of the HEA more than a bit tarnished. The last story was close to nonsensical for me. The middle two stories were classic Kelly, though. One pairs a sheltered miss with an upright man of the world a la The Lady's Companion and the other has two ethically-inclined adults find each other (and care for a child) despite the chaos of petty, cruel family and friends rather like Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand.
I do not know how I missed this collection for so long- it was well worth it....more
A review of how Islamist movements in four states (Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and Palestine) adapted organizationally and ideologically to the openings prA review of how Islamist movements in four states (Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and Palestine) adapted organizationally and ideologically to the openings provided as authoritarian regimes softened into "semiauthoritarian" states, defined as states in which, despite all trappings and electoral flourishes, the opposition is foreordained to lose.
In sum, Brown argues, "over time, given a political process that offers substantial rewards for participation and substantial risks for other strategies, movements on the edge of a system will indeed become politicized..."
Brown kept his argument fairly modest and there was a faint 'captain of the obvious' feel about some of his observations. That said, there was much to appreciate here:
Brown avoids the use of the word "moderation," which has a strong normative bent that basically ends up meaning "agrees with us" with us defined as whomever is using the word that day. Instead he substitutes the word "politicization" which indicates a commitment to achieve goals through existing democratic structures, to play within the commonly accepted rules of the game. This leads to an interesting observation, that the more politicized elements of a given Islamist movement (for example, doves in Jordan) are more likely to take a strident, oppositional tone than those elements that are less convinced of the utility of playing politics. Thus ideology and tone of discourse are separated from the commitment to engage positively within democratic structures.
Brown captures what he refers to as the "cat and mouse" game played between semiauthoritarian regimes (who change the rules of the game willy nilly) and Brotherhood-style/affiliate movements (who respond to the varying openings and freezes like "toothpaste" in the tube, flowing from newly constricted areas to places with more social 'space.') His larger and unstated point is that it is unfair, or at least imprecise, to judge movements in semiauthoritarian countries by the standards generated by the study of movements in more open democracies. He notes, "semiauthoritarian regimes generate semiresponsive movements" and grey-zone regimes produce grey-zone movements. He also argues that Islamist movements are most in danger/scariest to the regime when they play by the rules of an open democracy (ie they commit to the political process and try to win).
While the example of Hamas was interesting, mostly because it broke all the rules while still following the trendline, it did not gel as well as the other three case studies. I also found Chapter 8 to be surprisingly lukewarm. When Brown gave himself the space to speculate wildly he did very little with it. Some of his observations were OBE given the speed at which Egypt has plowed forward into the unknown. But I also thought he was pretty light on the implications of the Egyptian Brotherhood's (and other similar movements) hierarchical and highly disciplined nature given that he was musing on the potential for these movements to make the society around them more open to open discussion.
Worth the read and ridiculously timely for Brown, given that his footnotes are littered with MB luminaries: once obscure, now headlines in international media....more
Fascinating to see what has changed (and what remained the same!) since this book was published in 1983. It has all of the clear, striking prose of JoFascinating to see what has changed (and what remained the same!) since this book was published in 1983. It has all of the clear, striking prose of Joanna Bourne's most recent work. The male characters, in their boldness, wit, and penchant for getting things done, also shine through. It is in the development of the female lead where the contrast between then and now is most striking. Certainly part of this is genre convention, but even old gothics like Nine Coaches Waiting permitted the female lead to be both very mistaken but also very brave, competent, even heroic. Sad to say I found Melissa to be not quite bright, not in control of her sexuality, and far too prone to talking herself into and out of accurate first impressions. She is definitely a 180 from Bourne's current crop of heroines. While The Black Hawk saddened me a bit because I hated to see Justine lose, and lose again, at the hands of the British (men), I did read her as easily the equal or even the superior of Adrian in terms of strength of character: http://jobourne.blogspot.com/2011/12/... and http://dearauthor.com/features/letter... are both fascinating reads along these lines....more
This reminded me strongly of Nora Roberts's Chesapeake Bay series (Sea Swept, Rising Tides, Inner Harbor, Chesapeake Blue), my very favorite of her seThis reminded me strongly of Nora Roberts's Chesapeake Bay series (Sea Swept, Rising Tides, Inner Harbor, Chesapeake Blue), my very favorite of her series. I like the quiet romances and settings spiked with the drama of domestic catastrophies- car accidents, death, accidental pregnancies, custody disputes. I know that sounds like the soaps, but I eat it up. A well done, non-zany, family-centered contemporary romance series should be the genre's bread and butter but is increasingly hard to find. Virgin River fit the bill for a while until the proliferation of Marines and city-girls who secretly just want to pop out babies drowned the premise with ridiculous cliche. Kantra hooked me with this initial book, however. I'm in....more
I loved Millie and hated Fitz. In a nutshell, there you go.
Yes, Millie was passive and held on to her secret for far too long. But given her age, herI loved Millie and hated Fitz. In a nutshell, there you go.
Yes, Millie was passive and held on to her secret for far too long. But given her age, her expectations, and her sense of self I thought her decisions were consistent with her character. The meat of this book was not the romance per se but rather the lovely angst of all the throwaway moments that demonstrated how much Millie loved Fitz and how much Fitz took her for granted. Their shared commitment to the estate and the business was well-drawn, showing how two teenagers took on and mastered very adult responsibilities. The dynamic between Millie and Fitz's sisters was also nice and the scene at the train station with Isabelle was absolutely devastating thanks to the warm respect and care that had grown between the three.
Fitz is emotionally selfish. Jane got that in one, although I would remove the "relatively" http://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/ov... I can easily see how Millie appreciates his intense sense of responsibility and his willingness to do the 'right' (heavily determined by social mores) thing. However, I am tired of reading about (mostly because I am tired of watching in real life) upstanding, hard-working men who leave the burden of emotional and domestic work to the women. Yes, Fitz does well by his sisters. Yes, Fitz watches out for Millie. But the caring is money, leadership in the face of external crises, ect. I am being somewhat unfair here- Fitz nails Millie's need to be useful and disciplined and his gifts increasingly show insight into her dreams (I loved the lavender). But Fitz benefits from Millie's emotional selflessness, he thrives under her care and in partnership with her, and he is too lazy to challenge the status quo by asking what's in this for Millie. His casual adultery was also devastating.
All that said, I quite appreciated this book. It is miles ahead of the previous book, which annoyed the pants off of me. I'm anticipating annoyance ahead, as well- Helena and Hastings were drags on the narrative of the plot and I found the dynamic between them increasingly juvenile. But this book was well worth the read, if only to see Millie get exactly what she wants. I myself would have appreciated a grovel, or at least deep remorse for the wenching, but Millie never would. ...more
I was stuck at home all day with a sinus infection, and I did not even mind thanks to this book. I dove into it this morning expecting a quick and intI was stuck at home all day with a sinus infection, and I did not even mind thanks to this book. I dove into it this morning expecting a quick and interesting read and came up gasping for air at 2030, having cried my way through all 500+ pages. Where to start?
Bitterblue was a fantastic character, consistent and compelling throughout. I liked that her flaws flowed naturally from her fundamental strength of character- she is hard, sometimes even merciless, and she is able to dissociate from her surroundings all too easily. I really loved some of the creepy fugue-like scenes where she is lost in 'fog'- the image of her alone in a tower staring down at a castle with glass ceilings was more than a bit freaky and sad.
I am a hopeless shipper; despite this I was not even mildly disappointed with how the relationships (did not) resolve. I agree with the assessment that Saf is a toolbag http://rampantreads.wordpress.com/201... and he certainly did not live up to some of my hopes- insufficient numbers of good dreams, and he never fished the crown out of the river. (Why should poor Po the plot moppet have to fish it out when Saf is the supposed treasure hunter?) Not to mention the whole exploiting a woman wracked with grief. However, he also fit well into the narrative- I understood why Bitterblue pursued the connect. Giddon has long term potential but the time was also clearly far from ripe. So, HFN with no one in particular, and I was satisfied.
Death was a great character and served an interesting embodiment of the forensic approach to documenting (rather than glossing over) atrocities; he elucidated without ever decending into the pedantic. Also, I cannot read about a Death without flashing on Peter Wimsey and what do I find but that Cashore reads Dorothy L. Sayers: http://www.bookbrowse.com/author_inte... (Not just any Peter Wimsey, but Murder Must Advertise!)
There was far too much Po and Katsa, but that is a failing I am willing to forgive. The secrets of Fox, Hava, and Madlen were heartrending, but well done. The tie-in with Fire would probably have excited me more if I had read it first (I will do so shortly, despite all the meh reviews.)
As for the dynamics of Leck's tools/coerced accomplices, they were believable. I could see people committing crime after crime to try and make it go away. Bitterblue's sense that many of the lower-level tools of the regime were broken inside and in need of (positive, honorable) direction reminded me of nothing so much as the scene in Cordelia's Honor when Cordelia agrees to take on Bothari as her "dog." It only goes to show that everything I love in a book comes back to Dorothy Sayers and Lois McMaster Bujold. Indeed....more