Maybe a little disturbing for some readers, but what a picture of Wales. Perhaps not a picture of Wales, and in particular Aberystwyth that I have anyMaybe a little disturbing for some readers, but what a picture of Wales. Perhaps not a picture of Wales, and in particular Aberystwyth that I have any experience of, but a valid one none the less. My love for Welsh literature just grows and grows....more
I just didn't know what to make of this book. I took a while getting used to the fact the author doesn't use speechmarks. Whilst I warmed to the two 60I just didn't know what to make of this book. I took a while getting used to the fact the author doesn't use speechmarks. Whilst I warmed to the two 60 somethings, the rest of the characters were unlikeable. I felt story lines were brought to abrupt endings, for example a marriage that appeared out of no where. The most offencive part of this book, was the authors rather out of place beliefs of what "really" happened on 9/11, pushed on us under the disguise of a theatre production one of the characters was involved in. Avoid this book at all costs....more
I enjoyed it. It wasn't as good as I was expecting it to be, nothing to write home about, but it wasn't awful.
Gruen's research into American Circus' dI enjoyed it. It wasn't as good as I was expecting it to be, nothing to write home about, but it wasn't awful.
Gruen's research into American Circus' during this era was meticulous, and the one saving grace of this book. I love that she wove real life circus stories into the text, like a lemonade stealing elephant.
I love Walter and wanted more of him. I didn't understand or warm to the female lead. So much so that I can't even remember her name and I only finished this a couple of days ago. Jacob was bordering on unlikeable in my opinion. Too much crying and not enough action. Get a grip man. August was a treat.
Okay. I'm boring myself with this review, which about sums up the book. Other than one thing. How much water DOES an elephant need?! Did I miss that......more
**spoiler alert** I thought the premise of this book was brilliant. Following two friends, a boy and girl, who had a romantic encounter of sorts on th**spoiler alert** I thought the premise of this book was brilliant. Following two friends, a boy and girl, who had a romantic encounter of sorts on their final graduation day, and seeing a glimpse into their lives every year on the same day after. I loved the detailed pop culture references, that maybe you can only truly appreciate had you grown up in London, and that made me yearn for my home town more than usual.
That is where my like for this book ended. Because in general I thought it was quite monotonous, it dragged in places, there was unnecessary exposition and dialogue, I personally felt all the characters were unlikeable (bar Dexter's mother) and terrible stereotypical creations; last but definitely not least, there was a ridiculously pointless death. A death, may I add, that was the second most interesting character, (I guess... at a push.) But aparently Nicholls doesn't like to allow his female protagonists to live. No. He likes to strike them down in the prime of life, like a sadistic god who has nothing better to do with his plot and character development.
But really, rather than rant for longer than this, because I am tired, and bored, and hot and have run out of ice lollies so am also a little cranky, and already feel like I wasted too much time on this book, and and and... I direct you here , to this brilliant review. Because it says it all and more. Other than the City of Angels love. That's just a little weird....more
2.5? I'm at a loss as to what to really think about this book. It should be made clear from the beginning this text is trigger worthy. There are vivid2.5? I'm at a loss as to what to really think about this book. It should be made clear from the beginning this text is trigger worthy. There are vivid scence of incest, rape, molestation, and at some points perhaps even beastiality? Because of this I have so much to say, and no clue as where to start. Which I do believe was the problem with this text in the first place. Lanagan had so many subjects she wanted to touch upon, I ended up feeling like none of them came together.
Clearly Lanagan has some strong feminist ideals, but at points I almost felt like they took over the text. Every man, bar one main male character, was a grotesque, hyperbolic creation who had no control over his sexual desires. Literally likened to animals at specific stages during the text. I'm not sure how I feel about this, living as I do within a society plagued by rape culture; where the female is to blame, because there are certain things men 'just can't resist'. I can't work out if Lanagan was supporting this misogynistic theory with her vile, uncontrollable male protagonists, or if she was critiquing a society that bowed to these systems. In Lanagans make believe "real" world, women do not go anywhere alone, they certainly do not even walk out in pairs after dark, and they are never to talk back to men. Much like the society we live in, where women are advised to stay in groups after dark, not to wear too revealing clothing in case they should attract the attention of a man who just wouldn't be able to help himself from raping.
Despite my confusion in the reading of this, the underlying tale of this text lays in the mother-daughter relationships. Till the very end I was hoping for more of an explanation as to how Liga created her paradise make believe world, but it never came. We were thrown the continuous bone of the 'spirit-babby', and that was supposed to have been sufficient. It strikes me, that Urdda actually takes after her mother, her wants and desires were so strong that she brought them into being. The explanation for her was that she was a witch. Unfortunately, poor Liga had no such explanation, and was eventually left to fade away by a window at the end of the text. Still under the belief that she deserved nothing, so whatever good she did get was good luck. Sadly, by about mid-way through, it started to feel long, monotonous, and dare I say it, predictable. Predictable you cry! How can a book about magic, and witches, and human bears be predictable!? This is the question I am still asking myself. And aside from a strange male rape sequence towards the end, which I found positively disturbing, I felt this book languished into a reviveless, boring state. ...more
What can I say that hasn’t already been fangirled said already?
It seems like there was a lot of hype about this novel that I had completely missed. I bought it because amazon recommended it to me, it’s really as exciting as that. I had no idea it was already a best seller, no idea it had amassed a fanbase the size of the OASIS, I just had no.idea about anything. And then I read it. And then I read it again. Because, hot shit, I couldn’t put this book down.
Let’s break it down into three easy categories on why this book is so awesome.
Because it’s relevant. It’s an exciting and poignant glimpse into the dehumanisation of people through technology/capitalism. The world has gone to shit, but those who have money don’t care. There is unheard of tech capable of dealing with some of their societal ills, but people want to sit in a virtual reality where they can be anything, do anything, say anything. Maybe the most chilling image in this novel for me was the glimpse of the outside world Parzival gets. The streets are littered with homeless people, it is freezing cold, they have no food or shelter and are huddled around fires. But they are huddled around fires with the virtual reality goggles strapped to their face so they don’t have to think about how they are homeless and freezing and standing around a fire. That image terrified me. They were hooked up to a virtual world in which they could do most anything, yet their IRL world was falling apart.
Because it’s clever. For the symmetry of Halliday sending a video to all OASIS users announcing the quest, to Parzival sending his call to arms email to all users. Clever. For the themes of nostalgia clearly depicted through the cultural obsession with the 80s, and no better recreated than in Middletown, Halliday’s home town made virtual. Clever. For some of the best world building I have read in a stand alone novel. Ever. Clever. For an epic quest that kept me entertained and on the edge of my seat throughout. Clever, clever, clever.
Finally, because it is an excellent piece of gender commentary. Cline has created a fictional world in which gender and race really can be stripped away. You can be anyone within the OASIS. As it is very clear from everything else going on in the world, this virtual reality really hasn’t made the planet better. Therefore it should be of no surprise to us that racism and sexism is still prevalent. (view spoiler)[I am not suggesting a black female character having to pretend to be a white male so she can get anywhere within the world is a good thing. I am saying it is an excellent portrayal of the insidious lack of progress the real world has actually made. It is another example of the dehumanisation this tech has encouraged/ignored. (hide spoiler)] But Cline does a clever deconstruction of this. Art3mis is better than Parzival at most things, she is smart and quick and funny. And she is a mere girl. (view spoiler)[ Aech is one of THE top ranking combatants. And she is a mere girl. (hide spoiler)] With the innumerable amount of mysogynistic and dangerous tropes purported by video games, comic books and society in general, this IS the most revolutionary point for me. We only need to look to feminist frequencies recent experience of harassment and silencing when she dared to criticize sexism in video games, to understand how real this issue is. (view spoiler)[So sure, it is a shame some of the characters have to pretend to be other people to be taken seriously. But that is the point. They are still some of most kick-ass video gamers out there, and they just so happen to be female. (hide spoiler)] This is about how little progress the world has made, and how ridiculous it is for having not made it.
My love for this books knows no bounds. Only increased with the recent announcement by Cline of a real life easter egg hunt. I’m just ready and waiting for July 1st for the second gate to open. You should be too.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Strap in tightly, there's a scientology rant in here! Wheeee!
Anybody who knows a marginal amount about sociopaths/psychopathy would be right in thinkiStrap in tightly, there's a scientology rant in here! Wheeee!
Anybody who knows a marginal amount about sociopaths/psychopathy would be right in thinking it is dangerous, and can be, an evil condition. This book is not so much about that. Sure, it is Ronson's 'journey' through the madness industry, but that includes a dally with scientologists, a brief glimpse into the world of diagnosing/medicating bi-polar children and a tale of reality TV hell.
He throws around a lot of big wig psychopathy names. He even had drinks on several occasions with Bob Hare himself! But I was mistaken in believing this was going to be a research based book, looking into the idea of how many of our businesses/governments/Really Important People are, in fact, psychopathic.
What you get instead, is an almost jovial romp through one random experience after another, all narrated in the semi-humorous, semi-deadpan voice of Ronson.
I will admit to getting three thirds of the way through this book, and wondering where the hell it was going. Where did all these strings connect? What was the overall point going to be?!
And then he made it. And I felt a little disappointed to say the least. But before I get to that, let’s talk about how it does in fact raise some very interesting questions, and how it also doesn’t raise enough.
The idea of psychopathy being diagnosed based on a 20 point list is perhaps the most interesting question. You see, as long as you get 30 points or more out of 40, you are officially a psychopath. Ronson went on a course taught by Bob Hare himself in order to learn how to ‘spot a psycho’. However, what I find to be the most terrifying aspect of psychopathy, the lack of empathy, or of any ability in fact to feel ‘normal’ human emotion, may in fact be one of the 10 points missing from any given psychopath’s overall score.
This begs the question, should all psychopath’s be treated the same, if they all tick a variety of boxes?
An even more interesting question that Ronson didn’t touch on, is what leads some psychopath’s to be violent, aggressive, evil people? And what leads others to be CEO’s of big companies? This is where I thought this book was leading, but this is not where it went at all.
Perhaps my biggest issue with the book was his dangerous lack of research into scientology. Or perhaps it was just a fear of what the litigious nature of scientologists would do to him if he did, in fact, write about them in any more detail. You see, he made points about how they are indeed a little crazy, and how they may be making a valid point about anti-psychiatry but taking it too far. But what he failed to acknowledge in any way, is that scientology is arguably run by one of the most well protected psychopaths out there. How can any ‘religious’ (and let me make clear that, yes, those quotes are there for a reason. Scientology is as much a religion as the Avon lady trying to sell you her wares is) group claiming to be against something so vehemently, also be led by someone badly in need of some anti-psychotic councelling/medication? These threearticles do a brilliant job of detailing some of the issues surrounding the cult, and they explain in much more detail about the three defectors that Ronson moved over very quickly.
Where it ended up was a vague conclusion about how maybe we shouldn’t label people based on their psychopathic criteria, maybe we should base them on their human criteria. Which also brought in a whole side story about how mental illnesses are being diagnosed far too easily and far too young, in some cases. (It would seem from Ronson’s narrative this mostly takes place in America. But who knows, it was a vague side story that only interviewed one mother with 2 diagnosed and medicated bi-polar children, and felt like it was there just for Ronson to point out how bad that mother was for not being able to cope with her children.)
Did it feel like he was sympathising with psychopaths? Kinda, yeah. Did it feel like he had really got to the crux of what is possible if you are a psychopath? Not really, no.
But at the same time, it still made me wonder about the humanity of some psychopaths. If one feels no emotion as we know it, no empathy or conscience, where is the humanity in that? Can someone be human if they experience no humanity? And how do you cope with that? These are questions that weren’t really answered. But questions I’m hoping other books on this topic might.
It’s a really easy read. Even with my issues with it I would recommend it, I passed it onto my mother as soon as I had finished it and she too finished it in less than a day. ...more
Yes. I did it. I read the whole trilogy. My brain has turned to mush and I find myself apologizing to my inner goddess for the badness of this series.
And yes that is a little joke, because anybody who believes they have an inner goddess residing inside them needs a smack upside the head.
I could snark review this book. I could. I think I probably will snark review each individual novel. But right now I need to get this semi-serious rant off my chest. This review deals with ALL THREE BOOKS. If for some reason I can’t even comprehend you don’t want spoilers from this trilogy, then don’t read it.
I will also be referring to Christian as Chrisward and Anastacia as Anella. For obvious reasons.
Unlike the Twilight series, I’m going into the review all guns blazing. It took me until Breaking Dawn to finally lose my feminist shit in review, but this. THIS. This novel is Twilight on viagra. Get yours today! Double the length and double the misogyny!
It is important to note, there is barely a description of either character in here. When all we know about the main characters is she has pale skin, dark hair and blue eyes, and he is ‘OMG so FUCKING HOT’ with unruly copper hair and grey eyes, we actually don’t really know anything. These characters are 100% empty vessels for every reader to pour their own fantasy into. We are never told about the shape of a face, or the imperfect aspects of either of them. They are just blank images. This is important. This right here partly explains why thousands of women are swooning after Mr Grey; an otherwise abusive, self hating, control freak, as though he were a god. They don’t need to know what he really looks like, or how his actions reinforce disturbing patriarchal constructs. They can just imagine him as their dream guy. Who’s really really good in bed. (Which, is a matter of opinion anyway. Let’s just say, I’m not particularly down with somebody RAMMING me repeatedly.)
This review will come to you in 5 parts. I promise to try and make them as coherent as possible, but my rage knows no bounds.
1. Virgin vs. Whore: ‘I want to fuck your mouth!’ Of course Anella is a virgin. OF COURSE. She has to be for the crux of this story (if that is what we are calling this hot mess) to work. She had to be either a virgin or a whore, because that is all women ever are. She couldn’t ever have been a whore to win Chrisward’s love, there is only room for one person to have the sizeable baggage he brings with him, so she was always going to be a virgin. A virgin of her choosing. Because she hadn’t found anyone to meet her high expectations of romantic love. As displayed to her through her love of the glorious works of Mr (original-woman-hater) Rochester or Heath(i’m-psychotic)Cliff.
As we all know girls thrive on romance. And boys thrive on sex. This is a construct that is perpetuated throughout society. Which is why men having lots of sexual experience is acceptable. Whereas girls who are sexually experienced must have something wrong with their romance gene.
But that isn’t really the reason she is a virgin. She is a virgin because it would be unheard of to have an experienced female in control of her sexual desires. She has to be trained by her super experienced, super large hunk of man meat. It is acceptable for him to be experienced, whilst it would whorish for her to be so.
I am not taking issue with this being a story that portrays a virgin. More power to Anella. I am taking issue at this novel perpetrating the patriarchal expectation that female virgin = innocent, but female experience = whore. Anella is so innocent she can barely refer to her female organs as anything other than “there”. Hee hee, giggle giggle.
As Chrisward experiences new things such as actually sleeping with a woman, taking her home to his parents, somebody daring to speak back to him; they are noted by him as ‘another first’. They are all largely emotionally related. Yet the Anella overwhelming firsts are all sexual, something Chrisward revels in, glad that ‘some fucker’ hasn’t touched her before him, and that he owns her body and soul. She would have been dirty property if any man had got there before him, obviously.
It is a double standard that is just as much at play today as it was 10, 20, 30, 40, 500 years ago. What gets my goat is books like this encourage it. Books like this make it normal for the man to have the experience and for the woman to want ‘hearts and flowers’. Anella only enjoys the sexual acts performed on/with her, because she believes she has feelings for Chrisward. She knows he’s messed up, but she loves him anyway. Would she participate in sex if she didn’t have an emotional connection? Probably not. Because she is the innocent, virginal maiden; saving herself for The One.
2. Control: “I want your world to begin and end with me.” I can’t really explain how disturbing I found Chrisward and Anella’s codependent relationship. From the moment she meets him she can think of nothing but him. Already a girl who seems to have only one female friend in the whole world, she is soon wrapped up in his world. They only ever do things that he enjoys, they visit all the places he likes, they inhabit his environment.
Let me make this clear, this isn’t anything to do with the dom/sub relationship he initially wants to start up with her. I deal with the BDSM implications in my final point. No this control is the incessant manipulation of another person. He uses sex to distract her from any argument. He uses sex as a punishment. He buys out the company she works for so he can essentially be her boss. On honeymoon when he is utterly furious at her daring to disobey him and go topless on a beach, he gets his own back by covering her breasts in love bites, insuring she won’t ever be wearing a bikini top again!
At every step she is worried over his reactions. She apologises consistently over things that don’t even need to be apologised for. She wants to keep her maiden name at work, he goes ape shit and turns up at her office to argue with her, she gives in. She wants to go to her friends photography exhibition, he goes with her and forces her to leave early because he doesn’t like her friend. She goes willingly. She doesn’t want to be spanked, he spanks her, makes her sob uncontrollably, then explains how it is her fault for not being honest with him.
It is never ending, the hits just keep on coming. Chrisward’s reactions and control towards Anella are so unhealthy it is ultimately abusive. Which leads on to my next point.
3. Abusive relationships: “Argue with me, and I am going to take it out on your body somehow.”
We all remember that delightful scene where Chrisward has taken his new toy home to meet the parents, at some point she does something that annoys him, he responds by dragging her out the the boathouse to teach her a lesson. Whispering, ‘Please don’t hit me’ with genuine fear and trepidation is not the hallmarks of a consensual BDSM relationship, it is one of a victim to their abuser. Chrisward punish fucks Anella often, consistently attempting to bend her to his will. If she steps out of line, she will be in trouble. She soon understands these rules. Whilst she may come off as annoyed about his reactions initially, she always always ends up sacrificing to his wants/needs. Perhaps the only thing we don’t see her back down on throughout the whole series is her insisting on having a job. If this is supposed to represent a strong, independent woman, well... it doesn’t. As already established, Chrisward has already bought out that company, so she ultimately works for him anyway.
Anella is isolated throughout the series, often trapped up in his apartment under guard. His non-disclosure contract handed to her at the very beginning ensures she is not allowed to discuss anything with anyone. Chrisward uses this time to ‘train’ her as a sub.(The NDA is later abandoned when he realises he 'loves' her.) Abusers rely on their victims not sharing with anyone, it is easier to instil fear.
As the series goes on Anella is informed by people that she ‘handles’ Chrisward well, or that she needs to be patient with him. More often than not domestic abuse victims stay in their situations for a long time, they do their best to control their abusers mood swings so as to not be punished. Or they blame themselves for doing something that they knew their partner wouldn’t like. Anella’s ‘handling’ of Chrisward is no more than a wife making sure she doesn’t do things so as to not upset her husband.
Saying I love you and apologising after the incident doesn’t mean that person loves you. Domestic abuse is a very real and very serious issue, so to read a relationship in a trashy novel that has the ingredients for one is disturbing on many levels. If she can just be patient enough with him, if she can just be more careful around him, he’ll be okay. That is NOT okay. Victims of domestic abuse are often left with low self worth, emotional problems, they find it difficult to make simple decisions or don’t judge their instincts.
Anella at one point during another example of emotional abuse says, ‘Holy fuck, I can’t even remember my own name.’ This sums it all up. She loses herself consistently, is put under untold pressure, puts up with situations that nobody should have to, until eventually - she can’t remember herself at all.
4. Saviour Complex: “And I know in this moment that my heart is big enough for both of us.”
Amongst all this we have the dangerous trope of female as saviour running through the novels. Not female as strong character. Female as independent. Female as capable. But female as the person who is able to ‘save’ ie, CHANGE the man.
Chrisward has a terrible history of child abuse, this is the reason given to us to explain why he is like he is. His background is used as reason, excuse and explanation for his violent, controlling, manipulative tendencies. And who is the only one who can change him? Anella of course.
THIS DOESN’T HAPPEN. Domestic violence is domestic violence. No matter how much you think you can change the person, you can’t. A whole narrative that deals with the magical ability of a little lady to change the crazy man is nauseating and least. Dangerous at worst.
5. BDSM lifestyle.
Finally, I must make it clear I know very little about BDSM. What little I do know is based on feminist articles and thoughts of it. Often from people holding differing ideas about BDSM as a feminist friendly practice. Personally I have no opinion. If you’re in a consensual sexual relationship, each to their own!
My issue in this novel is BDSM is portrayed at this thing that crazy issue driven men delve into! Chrisward does it because he likes to beat women that look like his biological mother! Call me naive, but surely anybody out there participating in S&M is offended by this!? The idea that he is pervy and fuelled by issues just doesn’t sit well with me. Who is to say what is pervy in the first place? What isn’t pervy for some, is for others and vice versa! Personally anything to do with food in the bedroom creeps me the fuck out. CRUMBS. MESS. THE SHEETS. UGH. But food words for others! The idea that these practices are a little bit of naughtyness was just weird for me. And that is speaking as somebody who has no experience of BDSM! His REASON for doing it was disturbing, sure. But I felt like the actual situations were trying to be portrayed as kinky, and they really, well... weren’t.
Not only that, I would think a lot of dom/sub relationships would be offended at the portrayal. E.L.James did her best to try and explain (though Chrisward) that the sub actually is the one who has the power in the relationship. But she tried to explain that THROUGH CHRISWARD. The crazy, abusive control freak who clearly DID have the power. It was just all a bit messed up.
The end novel tries to show that Anella does finally have the control, she makes the decisions, she gets off on it as much as Chrisward. He even says to her, ‘You know, you’re topping from the bottom.’ (Something she had no clue about because apparently the stupid girl still didn’t have the basic grasp of the lingo. GOOGLE.) But it just doesn’t work. All the points above mess up the end point James seemed to try to make of BDSM.
It was a mess. I am more than a little terrified that women out there are holding this up as some erotic romance. This wasn’t romance. This was spousal abuse. This sets female equality back into the middle ages, where women are trophies to be owned and controlled. Shame on society for perpetuating this shit. Shame on E.L.James for writing it. Shame on me for reading it....more
Read in preparation for a youth retreat I'm helping lead. Some nice sacred space exercises, and one of the the only books I have seen think about God iRead in preparation for a youth retreat I'm helping lead. Some nice sacred space exercises, and one of the the only books I have seen think about God in a kinaesthetic way.
Takes a while to read because of the slow nature of the contemplative exercises.
Like with any personal exercise book, it's all very naval gazing-y (real term) and self reflective. Almost makes you take yourself so seriously you could begin to believe you have a direct line to God. But these are my issues, and for the most part this book encourages you to see the beauty in your every day, to push your focus away from your small perception of something and think about them in different ways. ...more