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review 2018-12-14 11:35
International Day of Tolerance Book - "The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr" by Francis Maynard - highly recommended
The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr - Frances Evelyn Maynard Greville Warwick

"The Seven Imperfect Rules Of Elvira Carr" is one of the best books I've read this year and is the best book I've read about how neuroatypical people make a place for themselves in the world.

 

The main joy of this book is that Elvira Carr, Ellie to her friends, is a wonderful person. Not a saint. Not perfect. But someone who is fully engaged with her own life. She's curious, honest to a fault, wants to help others and is capable of great joy. I fell in love with her immediately.

 

Elvira knows she isn't the same as everyone else. Her mother has told her this time and time again as she grew up and there have been "incidents" that reinforce Elvira's mother's view that Elvera's "condition" means she's not equipped to deal with the world.

Only when her mother is hospitalised does Elvira discover, at the age of twenty-seven, that her "condition" has a name and that she is not alone.

 

Elvira is neuroatypical. This means she perceives and thinks about things differently than neurotypical people. As she uses the internet to connect to others like herself, Ellie comes to understand that her "condition" is not an illness. She's perfectly capable, not just of looking after herself but of contributing more widely to her community. She has a job at an animal sanctuary. She helps provide old people at the nursing home with contact with small animals who lift their spirits.  She looks after her neighbour's young granddaughter.

 

Ellie's problems are caused by the often incomprehensible and contradictory expectations and behaviour of neurotypicals, some of whom she believes have the power to "send her away".

 

To help navigate the strange ways of the neurotypicals and to prevent her freedom to live an independent life being taken away from her, Elvira with the help of her neighbour develops seven rules. She writes the rules on a spreadsheet and then tests them against her experience, ticking boxes when she uses them, adding examples, guidelines and acceptance criteria to make these imperfect rules work better.

 

By telling the story entirely from Elivira's point of view, the author has produced something that is neither a saccharine cliché nor a disturbing freakshow.   The thing is that Elvira is much nicer than most people you'll meet. She has no malice. She's always honest. She gets angry and afraid, especially when she makes mistakes and misreads the neurotypicals, with there attachment to figures of speech and their habit or saying one thing and meaning another. She's also capable of joy so overwhelming that, when she's alone and neurotypicals can't see and send her away,  she has to run around the room with her arms out to let it flow through her.

 

Ellie faces a series of challenges in the book: her mother's incapacity, a mystery around her dead father and his frequent trips to Japan, conflicts with members of her neighbour's family, predatory males and lots and lots of NEW things that create stress.

Ellie's struggles and her limitations are ones we can all empathise with and perhaps share to some degree which means that her triumphs make us happy.

 

I found myself wondering how neurotypical I was and whether there was really any such thing. Putting the labels aside, I found myself wishing that I could meet Elvira and hoping that I would overcome some of my neurotypical habits for long enough really to see her.

 

"The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr" is beautifully written and perfectly narrated. I strongly recommend listening to the audiobook version. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear Charlie Sanderson bring Elvira to life.

 

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/361476302" params="color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" iframe="true" /]

 

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review 2018-12-13 07:22
The Light Fantastic
The Light Fantastic - Terry Pratchett

The first thing that comes into my mind thinking about this book is "meh". I liked The Light Fantastic even less as The Colour of Magic. The story is quite similar in both books with its "the protagonist is going from point a to b to reach point c" approach, but what The Light Fantastic lacked was Pratchett´s wit. I didn´t chuckle once while reading this book and whenever that is the case with a Discworld novel, I´m really struggling with them.

 

But I know it´s one of his first books and he hasn´t hit his stride yet and I´m glad that I already have read some of his later works. Would I have started with the very three first books, I´m not sure I would have continued on with Pratchett´s work. And that would definitely be a shame.

 

I´ve read this for the 24 tasks as a book that has the word "light" in the title.

 

 

 

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review 2018-12-13 07:12
Ranting Thoughts: Midnight Sacrifice
Midnight Sacrifice - Melinda Leigh

Midnight Sacrifice

by Melinda Leigh
Book 2 of Midnight

 

 

One by one, people are mysteriously disappearing from a small Maine town.  Four months ago, a ruthless murderer killed two people and kidnapped three more, including Danny Sullivan's sister, who barely escaped.  Unfortunately so did the killer, vanishing without a trace into the vast wilderness.  When the police fail to find his sister's captor, Danny returns to Maine to hunt him down.  He begins his search with another survivor, bed and breakfast owner Mandy Brown, but her refusal to cooperate raises Danny's suspicions.

What is the beautiful innkeeper hiding?  Mandy Brown has a secret.  But sexy Danny Sullivan, his relentless questions, and the desire that simmers between them threaten to expose the truth.  A revelation that puts her family in danger. As more people disappear, it becomes clear the killer is planning another ritual--and that he's circling in on Mandy.



I seem to be in the minority about this book (and maybe the series overall).

In a nutshell, this book was too long for the material it presented, with our heroine rehashing her own "woe is me" story on repeat several times.  Mandy probably could have been a better character to relate with if she'd just get over herself.  She was a great independent and strong type, with resources and skills that many women would kill for.  But her unwillingness to speak up about the threats she'd been getting from the antagonist, Nathan was what bugged me the most.  What she knew, and the fact that she'd been getting threats, might have been helpful--after all, everyone thought that Nathan might be out of the area or dead, so the manhunt had been called to a temporary halt.

Instead, she spent the entire book moping about how her life had turned out, about how she and her family are now in danger from a crazy man out to make human sacrifices, about how she'd do anything to protect her family... and yet when she's questioned, she adamantly denies the fact that Nathan could still be alive.  I guess I just didn't understand her logic, because allowing someone to know that her family might be in danger would have gotten her more protection.  Accepting help from someone who could keep an eye on her property and her family could have kept her brother safer.

Giving the authorities, or even our main hero, the information necessary to help find Nathan is probably a better way to make sure her family stays safe.  Because no matter what she was thinking, the fact that her brother was already on Nathan's radar meant that nothing she could do, including keeping silent, would ensure her brother's safety--as is ultimately proven by the end of the book.

But she decided to go the stubborn, independent, stupid route of, "I can take care of myself and my own."  Except that she wasn't equipped to do any of that, nor did she possess the skills necessary to combat a half-maniacal, determined psycho killer.

But anyway... in the end, it was all a moot point.  It didn't even seem like anything Mandy knew about Nathan could have done much to help capture him--simply it would have proven that there was a chance that random hikers disappearing wasn't just another case of "hikers disappear in the mountains all the time," due to getting lost or eaten by a bear or whatever.  But the whole "if we find Nathan's secret girlfriend, then we can find Nathan" thing was a waste of story line, because it went nowhere.

Which brings me to how laughable the entire law enforcement investigations turned out.  As Danny kept bringing up, over and over again, the last time a couple hikers/campers disappeared, it wasn't by accident or due to nature.  So the fact that every cop so readily dismissed a second set of campers disappearing, only months after the first incident involving disappearing campers and ritualistic sacrifice of living humans...  It occurred to me that everyone in this book was in denial except for Danny and Jed.  It seemed like there had been no effort put into the entire investigation, whether on the side of the manhunt to find Nathan, or even about the disappearance of the campers.

And while we might say that the entire town only had one cop who wasn't exactly top notch police material, there was also the state police that kept being referred to.  There was no talk about what they were even doing.

And when the first set of campers disappeared, I was actually quite surprised that a full scale Search and Rescue wasn't launched--especially when a child was involved.  This just reeked of poor outlining, to be honest.  Everyone was all, "They probably just fell in the river, got carried downstream.  We'll see them surface at some point."  But... what if they hadn't fallen into the river?  What if, psycho kidnapping for ritual sacrifice aside, they'd gotten lost?  We're just going to leave it to presumption that they probably just fell in the river?  The apparently quite shallow river?  And got carried downstream?

Is nobody going to even consider the possibility that they might be wandering lost?  Even if we don't want to contemplate the fact that there's a kidnapper out there, already running from a statewide manhunt?  Why would we take the chance that they could be lost and not send a team in to look for them?

And what if they DID just "fall into the river?"  Why are we still NOT looking for them?  What if they are still alive in the river?  What if they did just "get carried downstream" and managed to climb out of said supposed river scenario?  What if a child is shivering to death after being soaked in a river?

And nobody thinks it's worth it to further investigate?  Or send SAR out to find this child?

But anyway...

Meanwhile, Danny was pushy and one-dimensional.  He was the only person with sense in this book, but he let his emotions and his dick lead his actions.  But otherwise, he didn't really stand out much.

Every other character was also quite one-dimensional, truth be told.

I liked Mandy's brother, Bill.  And I liked the dogs.  There should have been more about dogs.  I have a hard time believing that someone who made a living out of training dogs didn't at least train a few for Search and Rescue.  Especially in a town where there are mountains and woods, and apparently campers and hikers get lost on a regular basis, and just fall into rivers and hypothetically get carried downstream, just waiting to be discovered later.

The logic holes in this book are insulting.

That's probably about it.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/ranting-thoughts-midnight-sacrifice.html
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review 2018-12-13 07:10
The Word for World is Forest
The Word for World is Forest - Ursula K. Le Guin

Has anyone of you watched the movie Avatar and thought the same thing as I did: “It´s worth watching the movie because of its visual style but the story is one of the lamest I ever had to sit through in a cinema.” Leave it to Ursula K. Le Guin to write almost the same story and make it an interesting one out of it. I guess she could write an essay about the telephone book and I would be enthralled by it.

 

What I realized about Le Guin´s writing is:

  • she does an incredibly job in creating the world in which her story is set in.
  • she has the most wonderful way of writing about interspecies friendships. In both “The Left Hand of Darkness” and “The Word for World is Forest” there is a pair of human and alien, who are forming a friendship despite their differences and I feel like the pages are radiating a warmth whenever I´m reading about these friendships.
  • I love how subtle her commentaries on social issues come across in her books. Whether it being the criticism of the Vietnam War (which Mike Finn – Audiobook Addict kindly told me this book is) or gender issues in “The Left Hand of Darkness”, as a reader I never feel whacked over the head by Le Guin´s views.  

 

As you might tell, I loved this book. It´s 128 pages of a highly immersive and spellbinding story and I loved how the ending packed such a punch. Highly recommended.

 

I´ve read this book for the 24 tasks as a book, that has green on the cover

 

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review 2018-12-13 06:53
Thoughts: Dim Sum of All Fears
Dim Sum of All Fears - Vivien Chien

Dim Sum of All Fears

by Vivien Chien
Book 2 of A Noodle Shop Mystery

 

 

Lana Lee is a dutiful daughter, waiting tables at her family’s Chinese restaurant even though she’d rather be doing just about anything else.  Then, just when she has a chance for a “real” job, her parents take off to Taiwan, leaving Lana in charge.  Surprising everyone―including herself―she turns out to be quite capable of running the place.  Unfortunately, the newlyweds who just opened the souvenir store next door to Ho-Lee have turned up dead. . . and soon Lana finds herself in the midst of an Asia Village mystery.

Between running the Ho-Lee and trying to figure out whether the rock-solid Detective Adam Trudeau is actually her boyfriend, Lana knows she shouldn’t pry into the case.  But the more she learns about the dead husband, his ex-wives, and all the murky details of the couple’s past, the more Lana thinks that this so-called murder/suicide is a straight-up order of murder. . .



As a whole, Dim Sum of All Fears seemed to have cleaned up a bit of the amateur sleuth thing that was bugging me about the first book.  Lana's questioning and snooping actually came off a lot more casual than it did previously--rather than in a short, brusque interrogation style, she managed to just sound like an acquaintance or friend, curiously asking random, innocent questions.

Unfortunately, as a whole, this book was actually much more boring than the previous one.  And I'm not sure if that was my problem, or the book's.  I couldn't quite pay attention to much of the story, and probably couldn't even recall how the investigating went.  In fact, at times it didn't even really seem like there was much of a case going on, as it seemed kind of delegated to the background.  Really, everything about this book felt like it got delegated into the background: the Chinese New Year's upcoming festivities, the romance with Detective Trudeau, Lana's taking over of her parents' noodle shop...

In a way, it felt like there were too many story tangents going on with no real focus.  I kept finding myself thinking that I wished we could see more about the Chinese New Year since it's such a big part of Asian culture.  On the one hand, I love that Lana is being portrayed in such an Asian-American way--rather than deliberately making her seem or feel more Asian, she simply comes off as your average Asian-American girl; a half-Taiwanese, half-English, born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, who acts no different than any other average American girl, save for the references to her Asian background.  And I love that!

But on the other hand, this cozy mystery is set in a very Asian, Asia Village, where you DO notice that a lot of older generation Chinese and Taiwanese are pretty prominent members.  I guess that I would have expected more ado about the Chinese New Year, even if Lana's own parents are currently out of the country.  I mean, I'm a rather more American Asian-American, but Chinese New Year is still a pretty big deal!

Aside from that, I was also hoping to see more of a development to the romance between Lana and Detective Trudeau, but the two had zero chemistry.  And it was a bit of an eye roller that people were constantly telling Lana that Detective Trudeau is "crazy about her."  I mean, I don't blame Lana for having doubts because I don't see it either.  I don't necessarily need romance for a book to be good, but if you're going to include romance, you should at least make it a believable one--it's not even a slow burn.  There is no burn.

And then the conflict at the beginning wherein Lana gives up the chance at a job interview to help her parents run their restaurant was never brought up again.  So we're left with some open-ended deal where everyone, except for some of Lana's select friends, continuing to think that she hasn't gotten her butt in gear to look for another job, and that she's just being a lazy layabout claiming to have stuff to do.  And it was irritating as heck that her sister kept throwing that in her face.  And, even though this is besides the point, I got a little irked that everyone kept telling Lana what seems more like "her type of job."

Has anyone bothered to ask Lana what she actually wants to do?  And actually cared to listen to her rather than either belittling her, or telling her she's wrong?  About what she wants with her own life?  It's also quite irksome that everyone feels like they have the right to expect Lana to move on in her romantic life as well and find a new, nice boyfriend.  And I get that mothers (especially Asian mothers) are all about their daughter finding a nice man and getting married and starting a family, but the insinuation that the only way Lana will be happy is if she finds a nice man and gets married can start grating after a while.

And I know that the bickering between Anna May and Lana was supposed to come off cute, but I was really getting irritated with Anna May.  Because even though Lana's narrative made it seem like the two bickered regularly, what I was seeing was that Anna May was swooping in and belittling Lana every chance she got.  None of the bickering scenes were started by Lana herself, despite what the narrative or others seem to claim.  I also didn't get why Anna May was so pissed off at Lana about her parents leaving her in charge of the restaurant--it's not like Anna May really had the time to focus on being in charge herself.

And even in spite of all this... I still want to read the next book.  Because I like Lana and I love Megan, and I love them as a duo.  And I'm hoping that the mystery aspect of the books will continue to improve, even if slightly.

And I'm hoping for a new love interest.  Detective Trudeau does nothing for me.

And I was also hoping for a bit of development in Lana's own career choices, which may involve her parents' restaurant.  There was something that had been brought up in the first book that mentioned Lana maybe experimenting with food services from a cooking stand point.  That maybe, aside from just being there to work her shift and make a little extra cash to pay bills and rent, she might get involved with more of the food prep... which I hope will spiral into her maybe helping to expand the restaurant's menu or creating new, fun, menu items... or something like that.

Please bring that small, almost insignificant recommendation to Lana from the first book back to the surface.  Even if just for a small glimpse at a possibility.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/thoughts-dim-sum-of-all-fears.html
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