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review 2017-02-06 05:17
Because sometimes a body count is necessary
Playing with Fire: A Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) - RJ Blain

What do you get when you mix angels, gorgons, pixie dust, NYC, magically-infused napalm, and a barista-turned-fire-breathing-unicorn?

 

RJ Blain's newest book, Playing with Fire, is the simple, short answer.

 

The much longer answer is a madcap magical romantic comedy with a body count, a lot of fire, and a lot of highs that left me actually CAPSLOCK YELLING at the author for the second book to be written. And I don't even like romance novels, which this definitely is.

 

Here's the thing, though. Chief Quinn is hot. Bailey is hot but doesn't realize it due to a craptastic upbringing by parents who sucked at being parents. Of course they're meant to be together, as the rules of RomCom go. But when you throw in the fact that Bailey is the reason Quinn isn't married, the fact that she's a poverty-stricken barista with many other things working against her, and the fact that absolutely everything is insane in this particular version of the world, things don't click together quite as easily.

 

And I love that.

 

Just as one who has read anything by RJ Blain might expect, this book was loaded with some crazy shark-jumping in a the funnest way possible, twists and turns, and hilarity. Most characters are clearly muddy shades of grey, with ulterior motives for those serving on the antagonistic side of the story. I don't really want to say too much because I am not a fan of spoilers, but if you enjoy rather weird fiction and are open to the idea of entertaining new ways of thinking about nearly every kind of supernatural anything you can think of, I'd HIGHLY recommend giving this one a try.

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review 2017-02-05 05:58
It brings up some important questions...
Me Before You - Jojo Moyes

There's more to this post than JUST the review, but the content ties into why I enjoyed the book. The story itself was sweet and simple, if a bit predictable. I found Treena and Pat, particularly, really irritating and self-centered. Lou was decent but cliché. Will was depressing, but I don't mind a depressing character here and there. I loved the very British humor demonstrated Lou's family, as it helped set the darker tone for the book without making it dark. What I really loved was the thought-provoking questions it brought up for readers, which kept it from being an average 3-star read for me.

 

One of the major questions that this book brings up is at what point does a person whose condition is terminal get to say "no, I cannot keep living like this?" Should we be allowing more people who are able to make coherent decisions decide the conditions under which they want to die? Lou struggles with this question throughout the book, and while she thinks she is firmly against it, in the end she starts to see just how much Will is suffering as a result of other people's determination to dictate to him what he needs in life.

 

I think this is a major moral issue and I can understand where those on each side are coming from, including those in the novel. On one hand, you've got those firmly against it. They love Will, they want him to live because they know that even if he only lives five or ten more years, he'll be surrounded by people who love him and want to help him, even if they don't always understand the best way to do so.

 

On the other hand, there are those who do think that Will (to keep this post from straying away from the topic at hand, which is supposed to be a review of this book) should have the choice of when to end his life. He's miserable in his chair and feels like an alien in his own skin following the accident. People are constantly trying to tell him what he wants to do without stopping to think that he's capable of making those decisions still. Nathan, possibly my favorite character in the book, is one of few people who truly gets it: why should Will be forced to live a life he feels so separated from?

 

While the case can be made that Will is too depressed to really see the opportunities in front of him, it's made clear that the depression came after he worked incredibly hard to improve following the accident. He did everything he could and tried to will into being his ability to recover fully, but his injuries were simply too great.

 

Bodily autonomy is a HUGE thing nowadays, and honestly I think that's something that comes up indirectly in this book. Kudos to Jojo Moyes for bringing it up. Ultimately, we get to decide what happens to our bodies, or that's how it should be. Scientists can't even take organs from a corpse unless the person gave permission while sound-of-mind. For me, this is (not-so-)simply another issue of bodily autonomy. For those with terminal illnesses, those who know with a very high degree of certainty that their condition will result in their death, I think the most loving thing to do would be to let them pick. Counsel and guide them, certainly, and feel free to try to do as Lou did and show them the possibilities in life if they choose to stay with you, but the pain and suffering they're going through must also be taken into consideration. After all, the disabled, the chronically ill, and the terminally ill are every bit as human as the rest of us.

 

You are more than welcome to voice your disagreement or agreement in the comments if you wish. I welcome and enjoy a good discussion on difficult issues such as this.

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quote 2017-01-28 07:35
"Who controls the past," ran the Party slogan, "controls the future: who controls the present controls the present." And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory.
1984 - George Orwell,Erich Fromm

Scary how fiction can sometimes apply to current events, isn't it? With all of the "alternative facts" stuff going through the media, social media included, right now, this quote stuck out to me as being unbelievably relevant. Those in control of the government in the book are seeking to control what is perceived as true through careful control of the past, the present, and the future.

 

Yes, for the record, I am reading this because many are reading this. I am also reading it because I haven't before and always meant to do so. I think it's an important book, and now is probably a pretty critical time to read and understand anything involving mass control over what we, the general public and perceived plebeians, understand to be true.

 

Reading is very, very important, whether you want to admit it or not. It allows for the challenging of one's thoughts and opinions, opens the mind up to different ideas, and feeds the brain to keep it from falling into complacency and disuse. Empathy grows with the reading of fiction, as does how we understand the world. Politics have always and will always play a significant role in fiction.

 

Read as much as you can.

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text 2017-01-22 08:15
24in48 Readathon - Hours 3 and 4...
You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir - Felicia Day

...

 

...

 

I'm not gonna make it to the full 24 hours like I wanted to, but I will definitely be finishing this amazing memoir autobiography thing, and soon! I'm going to sleep before I do so, but at least I will have knocked out a great read in a weekend before this thing wraps up. Once I do so, I'll keep reading other books to see how many hours I can read before midnight and continue posting updates. 

 

I've got a few options: Me Before You, The Scribe of Siena, a book of short stories by Virginia Woolf (supposedly a complete collection), and a curious little book called Church of the Divine Duck, which I read a chapter of in mid-December and haven't touched since. This isn't because of lack of interest, mind you.

 

Nope. This is entirely because of a lack of an attention span on my part. It's honestly somewhat miraculous that I am on the cusp of finishing my fifth book for the year, not counting the book I had to read about 40% of to finish off.

 

That's all for now, guys. Assuming anybody is reading this, that is. I'll drop a review of Felicia Day's book at some point tomorrow amidst the general turmoil that is going grocery shopping within 50 miles of New York City.

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text 2017-01-21 18:59
24in48 Readathon - Hour 2 Progress Report and more Felicia Day
You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir - Felicia Day

Oh, I do so adore how my brain short circuits. "Let's take a screenshot of the timer on our phone so we can share that we spent another hour reading."

 

*closes timer without taking screenshot*

 

"Excellent. Well-done, me."

 

On the plus side, I did just spend another hour reading. I'm realizing this is going to be much harder than I thought it was going to because of distractions, like my boyfriend looking over while I'm in the middle of reading a chapter asking if I want to go for a walk. Yes, I do, but give me a bit.

 

On the reading front, I'm now on Chapter 5 of Felicia Day's fabulous and funny autobiography. She is so fabulously human in her writing and in her actual life, even if she is ten times the genius/prodigy that most people ever will be. My boyfriend even commented that he saw the cover earlier and thought it was probably a funny book, although I don't know how much he knows about Felicia Day. Probably not much.

 

I think I made a solid choice for my first read of this weekend, though. I don't normally get into celebrity biographies/memoirs/etc. but there are a few I'll gladly make that exception for and she is one of them.

 

In other news, there's worldwide women's marches going on today and I am so, so proud of those going out there to stand up for women everywhere. I just need to do a better job of avoiding the comments sections, because people can be rather putrid. It's all fuel for my fire, though, and I'll keep reading and learning and fighting.

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