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review 2017-07-09 17:58
The Nosferatu Chronicles: Origins- Susan Hamilton

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     I love this book, particularly as a really inventive piece of speculative fiction. Hamilton does a top job of drawing together the horror genre classic vampire and the science fiction genre, specifically the sub-category of visitations from other civilisations.

     This is pure fiction that makes some use of documented historical facts and their possible interpretation, in order to build a credible vampire backstory. Nothing in the book is particularly novel, but the speculative thought and the unique way Hamilton puts the story together is both clever and very exciting. I actually became quite fond of her race of space travelling vampires, and even found myself excusing their arriving on, and manipulation of, our unique planet.

     I have always struggled with the logic behind the ‘humanistic vampire’; I struggle with all fantasy and legend that seems over disconnected from observed reality. Hamilton does a very neat job of creating a possible explanation and speculative history behind that horror genre. All the classic stuff is there, from wooden stakes to vulnerability to sunlight, and all within a new logic framework. Well, obviously this is all fantasy, however, the writing is strong enough that it allowed me to effortlessly suspend belief in the world as it appears. One can’t ask more of a speculative fiction book. Hamilton has for me managed to put the vampire legend on science fiction shelves.

     There is already a second book in the series, which I’m yet to read. I surely will. The first was a real page turner for me.

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review 2017-07-05 22:05
The Legend of Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Origins by Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon
The Legend of Wonder Woman - Renae De Liz

With the new Wonder Woman coming to theaters, I wanted to learn more about the woman in question. So when my partner and I saw this at the library, I brought it home to learn more about Diana of Themyscira before we went to see the new movie. And I am so glad I did! It brought a whole new perspective to who Diana is as a person.

 

First, I want to start off by saying the artwork is stunning! The colors are bright and beautiful and the character designs are flawless. I love how the women are drawn in this comic. All are diverse in skin tone and body type. I adore how the scenery is drawn. The action scenes are exciting to stare at. I just love seeing the story unfold with the beautiful art.

 

This is also an amazing starting point for anyone who is curious about Wonder Woman. It starts off with her childhood on Themyscira and slowly progresses to how she arrived on Earth. I love seeing how Diana grows from being a naive child to a morally just adult. I love seeing her fight through all her struggles and defending those she holds dear but never jeopardizing who she is as a person. I love seeing how complex and fun and downright scary she can be if push comes to shove. Basically, I love everything about her as a character and I cannot wait to learn more about her.

 

I also love the relationships she forms on Earth. Her friend, Etta Candy, is a real treat. She is smart, sassy, beautiful, talented, and has her own sense of badassery that's right on the level of Diana. I loved her so much that I couldn't wait to see her in the Wonder Woman film! (In the film, she is woefully underused which is a crime but a story for another time.) Aside from Diana, she is one of my favorite characters! And we also have Steve Trevor who is a soldier and someone Diana becomes quite fond of. I love their relationship because it's not one that undermines who they are. Diana never becomes a mushy love-sick puppy when she is not with him. She cares about him and wants him to be safe, but she focuses on what needs to be done before she engages in any romantic relationship she might want to have with him. And Steve respects her and supports her. Ah, it's just a great portrayal of what could be a great relationship.

 

With that being said, this is a great place to start your adventure in learning more about the superhero who has been getting a lot of buzz lately, If you can, read this first before you watch the movie. It will provide a lot more details about the characters and this world that the movie didn't have time to go into. I love both this comic and the movie so much, and highly recommend both if you love superhero movies!

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review 2017-06-19 08:27
Origins of Totalitarianism
The Origins of Totalitarianism - Hannah Arendt

This wasn't what I'd hoped it would be, but I think the fault was probably my expectations rather than the book itself. I'm not much for philosophy; I much prefer history. I was hoping for a thorough, fact-driven analysis of the various totalitarian regimes throughout history, determining key characteristics and similarities. Instead, it's a philosophical treatise on Arendt's view of how the Jews became the scapegoats and how Nazi Germany gained power. Fully one-third of the book is taken up with Arendt's analysis of the rise of antisemitism in Europe. The rest involves grandiose oft-repeated axioms based entirely on Nazi Germany. It talks about the importance of a key central figure and an isolating ideology that includes a sense of exceptionalism, etc, etc, but I can't say I feel much more enlightened now that I've finally (finally!) finished it. And maybe there's a stylistic thing, too-- to me, it felt like her grand assertions were stated over and over, and despite the book's length, there was precious little hard evidence to back them up.

The most intriguing part of the story isn't even told in this book: for all of her stony detachment when talking about antisemitism and Hitler and the rise of the Nazis, Arendt was herself a German Jew who escaped to America. I think I would have found her philosophizing far more powerful if she'd allowed a bit of the human element to seep through.

All in all, while I'm relieved to have finished it, I'm glad I picked it up in the first place. While I found it a dry read, it was still an interesting one, such as her comparison of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes and her assertion that autocratic regimes seek to repress opposition while the core goal of totalitarian regimes is domination and control. While it wasn't a great fit for me, I'm sure it's a phenomenal book if you're a fan of philosophy and have an attention span that's a mile longer than mine.
 

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review 2017-06-18 23:54
Scala (Angelbound Origins #2) by Christina Bauer
Scala (Angelbound Origins) (Volume 2) - Christina Bauer

Scala is the 2nd book in the Angelbound series by Christina Bauer. This book continues Myla Lewis new life as the Great Scala. So you should really read or listen to the first book in the series before starting this book. Myla pretty much runs Purgatory, she crosses over souls to their afterlife. At the minute a magical item called Lucifer's orb is making her job impossible. If Myla tries to cross over a spirit they will go straight to Hell. So Myla has decided not to cross anyone over until she can figure out what is going on. But she better hurry, she is running out of room for the souls.

Myla's arch rival Lady Adair is back also. She has decided to take back her life and everything that she believes Myla has stolen from her. The Scala title and Lincoln being her top 2 priorities. Myla and her family and friends are not going to let this happen.

The Angelbound series is a lot of fun to listen to for me. I love Myla's attitude on everything. Christina Bauer herself narrates the story on the audio book and does an awesome job. I love hearing her read. She really brings the story to life.

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review 2017-02-03 02:21
First book of 2017: A Doozy.
The Origins of Totalitarianism - Hannah Arendt

This book should be required reading for any citizen of the United States in 2017.  

 

Unless you're used to plowing through college-level texts at high speed, it could prove a bit challenging, but even if you only understand about 25% of what you're reading, that will still put you well ahead of the curve in following what's happening in the U.S. right now and understanding why.

 

In particular, the third section, Totalitarianism, is relevant to current events (to the point that I ended up highlighting nearly the entire section), but the section on Antisemitism was intriguing - particularly my own reaction to it.  It made me very uncomfortable to see Arendt treat the history of her people in such an even-handed, almost callous way; my intense emotion regarding the horrors endured by the Jews during Hitler's regime makes it uncomfortable for me to read a historical account that assigns them even the slimmest portion of responsibility for the many misconceptions held by Europeans about them.

 

At first all my "victim-blaming" sirens went off during this section, but as I continued reading it became clear that Arendt was doing quite the opposite.  She gives the long history of Jews in Europe careful consideration, and shows that the larger picture of the changing role of Jews in European history is actually crucial to understanding not only why so many in the 20th century felt hostile toward them (this had mystified me my entire life), but how that hostility was based in ideas that could not have been any farther from reality, despite the chain of events and societal changes that made the idea of a "secret Jewish cabal" seem plausible to the layperson.  Utterly fascinating.

 

This may be a book that some of you have to chip away at in small doses, or even skip sections of, but be sure you read the Totalitarianism section in its entirety.  If, prior to reading this book, you've found recent U.S. events utterly baffling and surreal, a great deal will suddenly become clear to you.

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