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review 2018-01-02 22:12
Winter
Winter (Seasonal) - Ali Smith

God was dead: to begin with.

And romance was dead. Chivalry was dead. Poetry, the novel, painting, they were all dead, and art was dead. Theatre and cinema were both dead. Literature was dead. The book was dead. Modernism, postmodernism, realism and surrealism were all dead. Jazz was dead, pop music, disco, rap, classical music, dead. Culture was dead. Decency, society, family values were dead. The past was dead. History was dead. The welfare state was dead. Politics was dead. Democracy was dead.

Communism, fascism, neoliberalism, capitalism, all dead, and marxism, dead, feminism, also dead. Political correctness, dead. Racism was dead. Religion was dead. Thought was dead. Hope was dead. Truth and fiction were both dead. The media was dead. The internet was dead. Twitter, instagram, facebook, google, dead.

Love was dead.

Death was dead.

A great many things were dead. Some, though, weren’t, or weren’t dead yet.

Life wasn’t yet dead. Revolution wasn’t dead. Racial equality wasn’t dead. Hatred wasn’t dead.

But the computer? Dead. TV? Dead. Radio? Dead. Mobiles were dead. Batteries were dead. Marriages were dead, sex lives were dead, conversation was dead. Leaves were dead. Flowers were dead, dead in their water.

Imagine being haunted by the ghosts of all these dead things. Imagine being haunted by the ghost of a flower. No, imagine being haunted (if there were such a thing as being haunted, rather than just neurosis or psychosis) by the ghost (if there were such a thing as ghosts, rather than just imagination) of a flower. Ghosts themselves weren’t dead, not exactly.

What a beginning, eh? Much like Autumn, Winter also starts with a version of a Dickens quote. Unlike Autumn, however, Winter seems to follow Dickens' Christmas Carol in other aspects, too. 

We have a Christmas setting, an apparition of a head that haunts Sophie, one of our characters, and we have scenes switching between the past, present and future. And then of course, we have Lux, also a main character but she acts like one of the Christmas spirits - a catalyst, if you like, that presents all of our main characters with questions that make them reflect on themselves and how they interact with the world around them. 

 

Art(hur) is a young man working for a tech firm, hunting down copyright infringements on the internet. He's also a blogger and has a Twitter account with about 6000 followers, but the problem is that nothing he writes about is anything that he really cares about. In short, Art is a representation of the fake.

When Art epically falls out with his girlfriend Charlotte before the holidays, he cannot face going home to see his mother for Christmas without the much advertised Charlotte and ends up hiring a girl he meets at a bus stop to pretend to be Charlotte for a few days.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, ... There is a Christmas family argument - several actually - which is not helped by Art's aunt Iris also visiting, and she had not been on speaking terms with Art's mother for several years. In fact, it seems that the sisters could not be further apart in any ways imaginable, and both of them are suffering for it.

 

The family get-together is set against the background of Smith's chronicle of 2 or 3 years, and is very much picking up on current affairs and topics and news items that have hit the headlines over that time.

 

I say that Smith created a chronicle because that is the impression I got when reading again about refugees in the Mediterranean, fake news, propaganda, politicians, technology, and narcissism:

Me, me, me, Iris says. It’s all your selfish generation can ever talk about. I’m going to tweet about it in a long scroll unrolling itself out of my mouth like in an illustration of a dandy by an eighteenth century satirist. No, I mean like a president. I’ll do it presidentially. I mean a fake president, I’ll do it fake presidentially.

Winter is also about hibernation, the forgetting of the who, what, why. The forgetting of history. The questions of whether we need to know where we came from to know who we are and what defines us. Is it background or is it aspiration? Does it matter?

And when you’ve done telling them that, she said, tell them what it’s like to come back here, when you’re a citizen of the world who’s been working with all the other citizens of the world, to be told you’re a citizen of nowhere, to hear that the world’s been equated with nowhere by a British Prime Minister.

Winter is definitely a story of division, and Smith underlines all of this with factual events and quotes, which makes for depressing, infuriating reading.

 

However, Smith doesn't rant but weaves it all together in the story of her characters, and even attempts to show a way for Art's family to work on bridging that division - not in a happy ever after kind of way as Dickens original story, but in a way that at least creates a platform for communication.  

It isn’t a good enough answer, that one group of people can be in charge of the destinies of another group of people and choose whether to exclude them or include them. Human beings have to be more ingenious than this, and more generous. We’ve got to come up with a better answer.

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text 2018-01-02 19:48
Reading progress update: I've read 284 out of 322 pages.
Winter (Seasonal) - Ali Smith

The literature doctor, she says. The man who wrote the dictionary. Johnson. Not Boris. The opposite of Boris. A man interested in the meanings of words, not one whose interests leave words meaningless.

I've been grinning so hard all the way through this book.

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review 2017-12-25 16:32
A Christmas Party / Envious Casca
A Christmas Party: A Seasonal Murder Mystery - Georgette Heyer

My physical copy of this Georgette Heyer book is titled "A Christmas Party" and as Themis pointed out to me, the original title "Envious Casca" has a specific point to it. Themis was so kind and gave me a hint about the title and I looked it up after finishing the book and she is right: the original is much more fitting for the story than the new one (which is pretty bland and boring, I think).

 

The murder mystery might not be the strong suit of Envious Casca since I thought it to be a bit predictablebut I loved the dysfunctional family / friends relationships of the Christmas company at Lexham manor. The toxic atmosphere between these people and their lashing out at each other without holding back was highly entertaining.

 

Overall a really fun read and I´m glad that I managed it to read it this Christmas.

 

Book themes for Las Posadas: Read a book dealing with visits by family or friends, or set in Mexico, –OR– with a poinsettia on the cover. –OR– a story where the main character is stranded without a place to stay, or find themselves in a 'no room at the Inn’ situation.

 

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review 2017-12-20 16:39
REVIEW BY MERISSA - The Unexpected Santa (The Sin Bin #5) by Dahlia Donovan
The Unexpected Santa - Claire Smith,Hot Tree Editing,Dahlia Donovan
The Unexpected Santa is the fifth book in The Sin Bin series, and this story focuses on a particular holiday, which you can guess by the title. Scottie is one of the Sin Bin members that I have always had trouble warming up. He is brash, obnoxious, and is more than happy to throw his own pity party - drink included. With stalker tendencies, and an amazing ability to sulk when things don't go his way, I wasn't 100% sure about reading this book. However, after seeing how Gray dealt with him in Akash's book, I was willing to give him a go.
 
I'm glad I did!
 
Now, don't get me wrong - Scottie is still a big pain in the posterior! He has a lot of learning to do, and I think that Gray is just the one to help him. In the meantime, Gray has promised that he will look out for the twins, and will protect them from everyone and everything - even Scottie. In turn, the twins help tone down some of Scottie's rough edges, as even he can't be awful all the time. With the twins and Gray on his case, Scottie doesn't stand a chance. He just doesn't realise it yet. He is just what Gray has been looking for, and in return, Gray will give Scottie everything he needs. In turn, I'm hoping that Scottie will become a character I can read about without giving myself eye-strain as they involuntarily roll so much.
 
With seasonal cheer from two Christmas grumps, this book is an unexpected delight, and a wonderful addition to The Sin Bin series. No editing or grammatical errors disrupted my reading flow, and the pacing was smooth throughout. With enough to satisfy and yet still keep you wanting more, I have no hesitation in recommending this book or the series.
 
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and my comments here are my honest opinion. *
 
Merissa
Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

 

 

#Contemporary, #M_M, #Romance, #Seasonal, 4 out of 5 (very good)

 

Source: sites.google.com/site/archaeolibrarian/merissa-reviews/theunexpectedsantathesinbin5bydahliadonovan
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review 2017-11-21 15:38
RELEASE BLAST, REVIEW & #GIVEAWAY - Yours For The Holiday by D.J. Jamison
Yours For The Holiday - D.J. Jamison

Yours for the Holiday is a seasonal friends (sort of) to enemies story, that is sure to warm you up! JJ is friends with Derek, and Remy is Derek's younger brother. For years, JJ has liked what he has seen, but didn't know how to deal with it. Throw in the fact that he is worried about upsetting the only family he has ever really known, and you can understand his dilemma. Remy, however, thought JJ was only ever teasing him, and learnt to give as good as he got. That didn't stop him from having feelings for JJ, but he resigned himself to the fact that it would never be.

What you get with this book is a seasonal glow (and this from someone who is more the Christmas Grinch than the Christmas Fairy!), a fantastic story, likeable characters, and situations that are completely believable.

This story is excellently written, with no editing or grammatical errors that disrupted my reading flow. The pacing was smooth, and the scenes flowed from one to the next. With sexy times, and plenty of humour, this is a wonderful book to read during the holidays, and definitely recommended by me.

* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *

Merissa
Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

 

,

Source: archaeolibrarianologist.blogspot.de/2017/11/release-blast-review-giveaway-yours-for.html
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