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review 2017-06-18 17:29
Bad Girl Gone
Bad Girl Gone: A Novel - Temple Mathews

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

This ended up being a very uneventful read for me. The premise felt really cool: a girl finds herself in a creepy orphanage, realises it’s actually a kind of purgatory for murdered kids, and tries to find out who killed her so that she can move on. The beginning was intriguing, especially since, like other ghosts in the orphanage, Echo first has to piece together memories of her death—reliving the trauma at once would be too shocking—, and investigating why you’re in an orphanage when last you knew your parents were definitely alive, well, that’s tricky.

The problem lied mainly in how all this was executed. Not particularly thrilling, for starters. Echo has a couple of culprits in mind, so she and the other kids go to ‘haunt’ them and see if they’re going to wield under pressure, or are actually innocent, but… it wasn’t anything scary or memorable, more like pranks, not like the really creepy kind of haunting you could get when adding children/teenagers to the mix (in general, I find kid ghosts scarier than adult ones). The mystery itself—finding the murdered—wasn’t exciting either, nor were the murderer’s reactions. Perhaps this was partly due to Echo’s power as a ghost: entering living people’s bodies in order to perceive their thoughts. The investigation part, in turn, was more about vaguely picking a maybe-potential culprit, scaring them, popping in their mind, then be gone. Then the story. And then Echo’s past as a ‘bad girl’ was revealed, and it turned out it wasn’t so much bad as introduced without much taste.

Definitely cringeworthy was the drama-addled romance. Echo’s living boyfriend, Andy, is all about moping and wanting to kill himself over her death, and… well, call me hard-hearted and callous, but you’re 16 and that kind of relationship is by far NOT the first one you’re going to experience in life, so pegging everything on it always feels contrived to me. Then there’s cute ghost boy Cole, who’s not about murdering the hypotenuse (thanks goodness), yet was strange, considering Andy is not aware of his presence, and so the triangle is… incomplete? (Its attempts at becoming a square later didn’t help either.) Also contains examples of stupid Twue Wuv/The One/soulmate 4evah/Doormat Extraordinaire. Such as Echo being so happy that her corpse was dressed in her favourite dress at her funeral… Favourite because her boyfriend Andy liked it. I still have no idea if Echo herself liked the pattern or colour or whatever. In any case, these are the kind of tropes I dislike in novels in general, and in YA even more. Why always make it look like couple love is the ultimate end, as if nobody (whether girl or boy) couldn’t have a good life in different ways?

In fact, I was more interested in the orphanage’s headmistress (whose back story plays a part for a chapter or so) and other inmates, all with their own murders to solve. These I would’ve liked to see interact more than just as Echo’s sidekicks. But we don’t get to learn much about them, apart from how they died. Too bad.

Conclusion: Nope

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review 2017-06-10 22:58
Another social media account that works best that way.
Very British Problems: Making Life Awkward for Ourselves, One Rainy Day at a Time - Rob Temple

I'm a big fan of the @soverybritish Twitter feed. I can't identify with everything but the sparse observations of everything from observations about the weather to observing social customs to surviving day to day life are often tweets that I will share and retweet. I was excited to hear that the person behind it (Rob Temple) would be coming out with a book (and now there's a TV show plus a store with gear).

 

Since I enjoy it so much I thought I'd buy the book to show support. It's not a bad book: if you're familiar with the tweets, you're familiar with the sentiments expressed in the book. I'm not sure if they're exactly the same (copied from Twitter) but it wouldn't surprise me if they were. Divided into chapters on various topics (weather, walking down the street, dealing with waiters, having guests over and the like) there are observations interspersed with drawings of various scenarios.

 

There's not much more to say to it. I loved the idea but I wasn't surprised to find that the book isn't all that more interesting. I wouldn't be surprised if people were angry to find there's not much more to the (cut and pasted?) tweets aside from the illustrations. Personally I wasn't upset since it about met my expectations but while I previously considered buying the other books currently out by the same author along the same theme I don't think I will, unless I can get them for cheap. The book is not readily available in the US (at least, I'm not sure if it has actually been published here) and I don't want to spend extra money paying for the international charges/currency exchange, etc.

 

I'm not sure if it's a good gift since it's really just a collection of tweets/tweet-like posts. Maybe if someone was *really* a fan. If you're really interested, I'd recommend sticking with the Twitter feed or seeing if you can get a used copy/bargain buy. 

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review 2017-05-26 11:29
The Road to Jonestown ★★★★★
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

This was a thorough examination of the evolution of The Peoples Temple from its socialist ideals and Christian roots to a cult willing and able to commit the 1978 atrocity of mass suicide and murder of over 900 men, women, and children. It examines as much as can be known of Jim Jones, the Temple’s founder and ultimately deranged leader. It provides a study of several members, both survivors and deceased. From this, the author lays bare the mechanism by which a group of committed idealists and vulnerable believers can be led down the path to deranged behavior, enthusiastically participating in atrocities committed upon themselves and others, giving up all control to a single man in spite of clear evidence that he is a charlatan.

 

Guinn does this with remarkably little judgement. He provides facts and observations and conclusions, from a variety of points of view, and pays the reader the compliment of allowing them to judge or not. As a result, the story can be a little dry at times, but in this case I much prefer that to a sensationalized faction.

 

I was surprised by two things. One: The similarity between the techniques used by Jones and Temple leaders to subjugate their followers and those common in domestic violence situations, where outsiders say, “I don’t understand why anyone would put up with that, why didn’t they leave?”

 

The other: The Peoples Temple, at least in the beginning, performed great good. They turned lives around, provided a haven for the disenfranchised, and made material inroads in systemic societal racism. But because the Temple idealists who were committed to these goals were willing to overlook the warning signs of Jones’ unethical and immoral behaviors, feeling that the ends justified the means, they were really as much to blame for that final massacre as Jones himself. They were willing to make excuses for him, to enable him, in order to use him and his power to achieve their own ends. First small violations of ethics, then another, then another, then another, until any means necessary seemed natural and acceptable. Let that be a lesson to us all.

 

Audiobook, purchased via Audible. Competently read by Jeff Newbern.

 

Previous Updates:

5/20/17 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1564040/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-6

5/20/17 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1564153/the-road-to-jonestown-16

5/21/17 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1564258/the-road-to-jonestown-20

5/21/17 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1564338/the-road-to-jonestown-21

5/22/17 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1564529/the-road-to-jonestown-34

5/25/17 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1565457/the-road-to-jonestown-59

5/25/17 http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1565592/the-road-to-jonestown-70

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text 2017-05-26 03:24
The Road to Jonestown 70%
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

 

Temple bookkeeper Terri Buford estimated that the Temple's foreign accounts totaled about $8 million, but in fact, the total was around $30 million. Yet, in several San Francisco services, Jones asked that everyone donate their wristwatches to The Cause. These were in high demand for resale in Guyana, where, if an immediate amount of additional money wasn't received, the Jonestown project might very well fail. Every cent counts, Jones thundered at his followers, upbraiding them and sending collection plates around for an extra turn or two if the half-dozen offerings regularly taken at each Temple meeting failed to produce satisfactory sums. They had no idea of the vast fortune their church had already amassed, or why, no matter how much they gave at Temple services, it was never enough to please their pastor. 

 

And that's on top of the church's required tithing of 25% of each member's weekly paycheck.  

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text 2017-05-25 12:35
The Road to Jonestown 59%
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

OMG at this point he's just making crazy shit up and everyone just believes him, no matter how patently false his claims are. 

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