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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-10-23 22:16
Man, Woman and Child by Erich Segal
Man, Woman, and Child - Erich Segal

Sheila and Bob lead the perfect life, successful in their jobs, 2 daughters, an epitome of a marriage - but Bob has kept a secret for 10 years, a secret that comes back to haunt him when he takes a call from France.

 

Years ago, I read Segal's "Doctors" 3 times, I read Acts of Faith, Love Story, Oliver's Story and Prizes and I remember them all, especially Doctors, very fondly. Maybe that's why this book ultimately disappointed me. First of all, the prose seemed incredibly simple and dispassionate at times.

 

And secondly and more importantly, how can a matter so complex as having a child from an affair a decade ago turn up, be handled properly in just over 200 pages? 50 of which deal with flashbacks to the beginnings of Sheila and Bob's relationship and to his affair? The focus is with the family the boy comes into, but the boy himself who after all just lost practically his whole world, is more a footnote. Where's just one thought about what's best for this child? Instead we read about 2 spoiled girls, Sheila who's tempted to sort of return the affair-favour, and Bob who just feels guilty. But the premise would have deserved much more...

 

That the book still gets an average rating is due to the fact that in the end, I got sucked into the story. But the disappointment remains.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-10-18 19:23
Stargate: SG-1: Alliances by Karen Miller
Stargate SG-1: Alliances - Karen Miller

Right after the mission to Euronda O'Neill's threatened by Kinsey with a court-martial because of his actions which led to the death of Alar - and to Earth not procuring new weapons. Meanwhile, the Tok'ra come up with a plan to get new hosts and spies. They plan on infiltrating a human breeding farm, and for that endeavour to succeed they need SG-1... which conveniently would put O'Neill out of Kinsey's sight.

 

I picked up this novel because of the post-Euronda premise where Jack and Daniel clashed in quite an unprecedented way. But somehow, this was the weakest part because, quite frankly, at times it felt as though this novel was set early in the series, not its 4th season. Everyone's unsure of everyone else, Daniel believes himself on the high moral ground which gets tiresome really fast, and the author doesn't waste time emphasizing Jack's past in covert ops including his stint in an Iraqi prison (that's only been mentioned twice within the series, that I can remember). Okay, but why not elaborate on that? Instead, she chooses to have him second-guess himself left and right about killing Alar.

 

When I think about Euronda, *that*'s not the moment I was doubting Jack, that decision to close the iris on Alar, after having warned him not to follow. Indubitably a questionable decision in itself but Jack isn't the person to doubt himself after the fact. But in pondering the aftermath, I'd have Jack question his single-minded quest for new weapons, his being deceived and not asking questions until it's almost too late. There's a reason why people should hear both sides of a conflict before making any kinds of judgement. And that should apply to military personnel as well, tasked with first contact. Standing order to procure weapons aside, this is the line dividing the SGC from the NID and their illegal operation.

 

And Daniel? Back in that episode he was right to question that war. But he should have talked to Jack in private, not in Alar's presence - who after all could use the division within the team for his own purpose. So Jack's right to be angry and lash out at Daniel in this novel. But I definitely could have done without that heart to heart where Daniel practically forgives Jack for killing Alar and everything's fine again. I've read better fanfic.

 

Unfortunately, one of the most promising premises, the threat Kinsey's posing to Jack, is dropped after the first confrontation. It's like once SG-1 is off Earth, Kinsey's vanishing back into the hole he's crawled out of, as well. Granted, we know that nothing comes out of Kinsey's threat of a court-martial, but I'd still have appreciated some mention of what's going to happen after SG-1's return, just one sentence would have been enough...

 

The main plot: Quite honestly, I don't understand why SG-1 claims to free those humans from slavery (even back when they're only targeting select humans, not the whole farm) when all it is they're doing is send them to the Tok'ra - what if they don't decide to become Tok'ra hosts or spies? What happens then? No one mentionned that. And quite frankly, the timeframe's just ridiculous. SG-1 joins such a breeding farm where people are terrorized, and within a day they talk about freedom and question everything the slaves know... that they're not killed or betrayed's not credible at all.

 

And finally, everyone using idioms and military speak got a bit annoying quite fast. At least, I didn't hear Jacob talk like that in the series...

 

So, overall, rather negligible.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-07-20 08:31
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling & John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts I and II (English)(Hardcover) - John Tiffany & J K Rowling Jack Thorne

Albus Severus Potter is sorted into Slytherin, and his only friend turns out to be Scorpius Malfoy, whose paternity is rumored to be Voldemort himself. Add to that the estrangement between Harry and his son, another uprising of dark powers, the emergence of a Time-Turner, Amos Diggory turning up at Harry's doorstep with a desperate request, and Harry's scar burning again which leads to ill-spoken words during a quarrel and hasty decisions - and perhaps the downfall of the wizarding world.

 

First of all, this story is told in script-form which takes away quite a bit regarding the inner motivation of characters. Most of it felt extremely like bad fanfiction, Hermione as Minister of Magic (and apparently only her marriage to Ron enables her to do that), Draco's suddenly the trio's friend, bringing back Cedric as some kind of focal point, the idea of Voldemort's child etc. And this is perhaps the greatest flaw: I didn't quite understand why Albus would attempt to restore Cedric back to life in the first place? Granted, he's unhappy, feels misunderstood and unloved by his father, but change history, probably even erasing himself from history?

 

And let's not mention all the other head-scratch moments: Amos Diggory would come to ask for Cedric's return 22 years after he'd died? Grief can do strange things, I'll grant you that. But why doesn't anyone question his motives, and especially the strange niece no one has seen before? In one of the changed timelines Albus and Scorpius humiliated Cedric during the 2nd task of the Triwizard Tournament which turns Cedric towards the Death Eaters... Really? He had a lot going for him, he was head boy, had tons of friends, and all this wouldn't count for anything because he was humiliated during the TriWi-Tournament? We're not talking about Harry, Albus or Draco here, after all, we're talking about a boy who had everything, loving parents, adoring friends. I don't buy that. (And let's not forget that when the boys try to correct their interference with the past, it's never told that they also correct that mistake, just somehow they find themselves back in the lake.)

 

Essentially, this is the story of parents and children: parents who lost their children, parents who can't connect with their children (and vice versa), and children who lost their parents, all this covered in prophecies and ridiculous time-travel. Had this been a novel I'd have expected more focus on the emotions, the relationships - and maybe then, the story would have worked better and the existence of Delphi would have been better explained: no one knew about the lovechild of Bellatrix and Voldemort?

 

But as is, the most relatable characters are Draco and Scorpius with a little helping of a Snape-cameo. The others are mere copies of their younger selves (especially when in alternate timelines Ron and Hermione restart their will they-won't they-routine). I liked the epilogue of Deathly Hallows, and I thought back then that Harry showed hard-earned maturity in advising Albus essentially to be who he is. Unfortunately he loses that maturity here altogether. Of course, all ends well, harsh words are forgiven and bridges built.

 

But while it was good to have another glimpse into the Potter-verse, I'm also somehow disgusted at such a blatant attempt at milking the cash cow just a bit further. Because let's be honest, The Cursed Child lacks detail, it lacks coherence and characterization. Quite frankly, JKR should have stopped while she was ahead instead of being lured again into the spotlight by the call of fame and money.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-06-15 20:09
The House of God by Samuel Shem
The House of God - Samuel Shem

Around here the postgraduate system of education in medicine is quite different than the American one, but still I could detect quite a few similarities - because I guess, whereever you are, patients, the medical hierarchy (the ice-cream cone) and what it does to you as intern, is quite the same.

 

So I could relate to the terror of the first rotation, to the thrill of the Emergency Ward, the horror of Gomer City, the internal detachment, the need to hide inside yourself, to witness colleagues being crushed by the system... and also the realization of what's going on and trying to get ahead of it. Unfortunately, I had more Jo's and Leggos than Fats during my internship... because his rules, even though they sound funny and callous at first are hard-learned lessons and much more important than always doing whatever medical science is able to offer.

 

Of course, this novel is also a product of its time, a male-dominated environment where sex is kind of the only relief of stress and pressure - not to say that it's much different nowadays, especially if you work hours that only allow you to go home to sleep but otherwise you pretty much spend your day in the hospital -, but I could have done without the various sexual experiences of the interns. Then again, it's a symptom of this system.

 

Overall, certainly a novel an intern, no matter where he or she works, should read.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-05-02 09:38
Worlds of Star Trek: DS9: #1 Cardassia by Una McCormack & Andor by Heather Jarman
Cardassia and Andor - Una McCormack,Heather Jarman

"The Lotus Flower" depicts the problems and antagonism Keiko is facing in her multispecies effort to render Cardassian soil fertile again. Meanwhile, the new castellan Alon Ghemor and Garak are fighting to keep the fledgling democracy alive in the face of isolationist movements.

 

This is quite a good story about the rise of isolationist movements, about the recruitment of young people for extremist purposes (because they lack certainty and purpose over their own future), and about finding where you belong in a democracy that is still forming after the age-old reign of dictatory leaderships. Quite a mirror of modern politics... if just finding similarities and common ground (or at least having the intention to do so) were so easy in real life, many atrocities could be prevented, I guess.

 

"Paradigm" forces Shar to confront the loss of his bondmate Thriss, his guilt and his position in Andorian society... all while being under pressure by his "mother" and having increasing feelings for Prynn Tenmei.

 

I'm afraid I'm not going to become a friend of Jarman's style any time soon. Her prose doesn't flow as well as that of other authors and I had the feeling of being stuck on a single page for ages. So that's a definite negative point. On the other hand, by the end I was fully engaged in this story and moved by the final few scenes. Shar's being pressured by practically all sides, reminded of his duties in a diminishing Andorian society (due to reproductive issues which led to a population of 3 billion dwindling down to a mere 90 million) but also fighting for his own freedom. Because how can anyone in a society that only revolves around bonds, that are matched artificially instead of naturally, and parenting duties be free? What about individual desires such as careers or partners outside a bond? And what about those who can't withstand that pressure (like Thriss)? This is quite a melancholy story about a person who fights to escape but in the end decides to go through with his societal obligations after all, even though the outside pressure (and inborn guilt) is more or less removed from him. A decision which left me pensive.

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