This is a brief novella that takes aim at the hypocrisy and arrogance of Angola’s ruling classes. The political situation is symbolized by a couple: Carmina, a communist youth leader who later embraces exploitative capitalism when political winds shift; and her husband João, a well-meaning but ineffective man who retreats into computer games as the capital city of Luanda crumbles around him – quite literally, as buildings mysteriously collapse, leaving their occupants unharmed.
Knowing nothing about the country going in, I found this a fairly engaging read, and the story is well-translated, but it would likely work better for readers familiar with recent Angolan history. Magical realist and absurdist elements – like the dispossessed protesting by going nude in public – obscure the actual history, leaving the foreign reader wondering what really happened. And while it is difficult to separate the personal from the political in such a short and pointed story, there is this recurring notion that all is right in the home when the husband takes the reins and publicly chastises his wife; I wasn’t sure how much Pepetela finds Carmina’s ruling the roost objectionable simply because she’s a woman, and how much because this specific woman is morally bankrupt.
Nevertheless, this is an interesting book from which I did learn a bit about Angola, and at 100 pages it’s a very quick read.
Eines gleich vorweg über dieses Habsburger-Sachbuch: Es hat keine historische Struktur, und trotzdem hat es mich hier gar nicht gestört. Die Autorin Gabriele Hasmann präsentiert im Plauderton eine wundervolle Sammlung von teilweise mir bekannten aber auch vielen unbekannten Anekdoten über die Habsburger. Da sie nach der Art des „Dachschadens“ von der kleinen Marotte bis zur ernsthaften pathologischen Störung strukturiert und damit quer durch Jahrhunderte und Verwandtschaftslinien springt, ist somit ein chronologischer Aufbau überhaupt nicht gewährleistet. Für mich war diese etwas schräge Struktur kein Störfaktor bei der Rezeption, denn ich wusste meist ganz genau, wer wann wie mit welcher Verwandtschaft gemeint ist, da ich im österreichischen Geschichtsunterricht ohnehin sehr viele Haupt- aber auch Nebenlinien der kaiserlichen Familie lernen musste.
Hasmann präsentiert in einzelnen Kapiteln: Aberglauben, Magie und Hellsicht, Sado-Maso-Persönlichkeiten, echten Wahn und Wahnsinn, Ticks und Zwangsneurosen, Phobien und Süchte, Narzissmus, Dominanz und Fanatismus versus Laissez-faire, Lug, Betrug und Schurkenstücke und schlussendlich auch noch die sexuellen Eskapaden bzw. amourösen Auffälligkeiten.
Irgendwie ist das fast so, als könnte der Leser unter dem intellektuellen Deckmantel der historischen Forschung wie ein lüsterner Paparazzo und Boulevardmedienschreiber in die Stuben und Schlafzimmer der gekrönten Häupter schauen und einfach schamlos auch noch darüber tratschen und Witze reißen. Ich gestehe, da ja alle schon tot sind und es keinem mehr schadet, genieße ich mitunter so eine voyeuristische Nabelschau auf ganz tiefem Niveau sehr. Schließlich muss man sich ja auch mit den Schattenseiten der österreichischen Geschichte befassen ;-)
Die Anekdoten waren wie gesagt teilweise ganz neu: Zum Beispiel wurde das Geheimnis von 007 gelüftet, der wahre Van Helsing identifiziert (das wusste ich schon) und die amourösen Abenteuer des Mannes von Maria Theresia mit seinem besten Buddy, Giacomo Casanova, durch das Hurenviertel am Spittelberg und durch die Bums-Droschken geschildert, inklusive wütender Gegenmaßnahmen der Ehefrau.
Es gab auch eine derart abgefahrene Story über mehrere afrikanische Menschen (Mohren), die dem Kaiser geschenkt wurden und die infolge der ungewohnten Kost und des Klimas nicht lange überlebten. Der Kaiser ließ ihnen die schwarze Haut abziehen und stellte sie als Figuren gekleidet und geschmückt aus. Da viele starben, hatte er bald eine ganze Rotte von Schwarzen beisammen.
Auch die – wie soll ich es höflich formulieren – extrem hässlichen Habsburgermerkmale, die sich durch die andauernde Inzucht gleichsam wie der Wahnsinn in manchen Linien vervielfachten, wurden von der Autorin mit spitzer Zunge erläutert. Im Rahmen des pathologischen Irrsinns war der Wurm schon seit dem 16. Jahrhundert in der Genetik der Familie durch die spanische Linie, respektive durch „Juana la Loca“, verankert.
Eine Geschichte hat mich am meisten verblüfft: Maximilian, der Kaiser von Mexiko, wurde offensichtlich nur zum Schein exekutiert, zumindest ist bewiesen, dass die neue Republik nicht seine Leiche überführt hat und ein Bürgerlicher in Salvador namens Justo Armas dieselbe Handschrift hatte.
Ach ja, im Kapitel Völlerei gibt es ein Rezept für Krebsgermnudeln, die Leibspeise von Maria Theresia. Das möchte ich unbedingt mal kochen.
Fazit: Für Anfänger im Hause Habsburg leider etwas verwirrend, wenn man auf historische Chronologie Wert legt. Für Profis in diesem Bereich und für Royal Watchers, die auf sensationelle Geschichten abzielen, aber doch sehr vergnüglich.
P.S.: Eine Kleinigkeit ist mir noch aufgefallen. Der Verlag hat sich beim Coverbild von Leopold I. noch eine kleine Impertinenz einfallen lassen. Die hässlichen, wulstigen Habsburgerlippen wurden mit Folie oder Lack überzogen und springen dadurch dem Leser förmlich ins Auge. Das ist sooo böse und köstlich! :D
Ok, I'm going to try and share something new and fresh here but I have to be honest this is book #4 Criminal Intentions Changing Faces, for this series and 'other than "ohmyfreakin'godthisis hella,hellaGOOD" I'm starting to feel like a stuck record but I'll give it a go anyways ok.
'Criminal Investigations' is a series with a slightly different form to it. The author's plan is to write this with a format that more strongly resembles a television show than a book series. As most of us know book series can vary in terms of when and how often they're released. I've read series where the books have been released almost all at once as was the case with Brent Weeks 'Night Angel' trilogy these books were originally released within weeks of each other (and no that wasn't an intentional play on words) other series may have months between each book or sometimes even years (let's think G.R.R. Martin here and still others have totally erratic release dates). Whereas with a television show we know that basically we're getting 13 episodes per viewing season (it use to be 22 but these days 13 seems to be the average). So the plan for this series as I understand is a possible 5 seasons with 13 episodes per season. So if you're planning on seeing this through to the end, as I and some other souls are want to do it's going to be like making a commitment to G.R.R. Martin himself the endgame is not for those in need of immediate gratification.
In order not to spoil this for anyone with a potential interest in following this series let me just say that...I'm not going to write spoilerish things in my reviews anything that I use that directly pertains to the events in an episode will also be found in the blurb.
Ok, so what am I going to talk about well the obvious of course why I'm reading this series. I love a good crime drama story, especially if it has a personal connection to it. With each episode of CI (yep, we're going to save me some typing and refer to this as CI for Criminal Intentions) anyways, with each episode there's a different crime being resolved and by different I don't mean same crime different faces I mean different crime with different faces and here in CI #4 what we were given was a case of domestic violence and while the who and why of who done it was apparent fairly early in the story. I was ok with that because while this was a part of the story it wasn't the focus this time around the focus was more about the impact that the case has on Seong-Jae one of the MCs in this series as he works to resolve the circumstances surrounding the victims murder... because we don't always live in a world of clear absolutes and sometimes upholding the law doesn't always mean adhering to the letter of the law and as an officer of the law Seong-Jae not only has to resolve this murder but he finds he needs to come to terms with that resolution...it's good stuff folks seriously thought provoking stuff because if you've read this and heard any news stories over the past few years I'm sure you'll agree with me that much of this story could have easily come from the pages of any newspaper.
And this leads to the next thing that I really like about this series and that's the strong undertone of realism that runs through these stories. This is not a light and fluffy series with sunshine, rainbows and lollipops. These stories deal with the dark side of human nature sometimes the lines between right and wrong become pretty fuzzy...just like in the real world.
So now onto my favorite thing about this series or I guess I should say things...Seong-Jae and Malcolm...these two men...sweet baby jebus!!! Let me just say this will test the patience of even the staunchest slow burn fan but it's going to be worth it...of this I feel certain.
These two men...I don't even know how to explain the dynamics between them other than to use a very cliche phrase and say 'It's complicated'. Seriously we're 4 books in and we'v basically gotten a couple of kisses that's it but..DAMN!!! I've read full on sex scenes that didn't radiate the heat that these two just begin in the same room...or even on a telephone together.
With every story we're given a crime drama that's resolved from start to finish but with each story we're also given a little more about Seong-Jae and Malcolm's past as they continue to dance around each other and there's an overlying storyline that's building and it's the one that keeps me coming back because in spite of the crime that's resolved the author leaves us with just enough answers to pique our interest while also adding just enough questions to tease the readers curiosity.
While this was probably the weakest of the stories in terms of the crime that was committed and resolved for me it was in fact one of the better stories from the perspective of personal relationships. It also seems to be a pivotal point as things seem to be changing both for and between Soeng-Jae and Malcolm.
I'm not sure what comes next for this series but I do know I'm on board to find out...episode 5 everyone 'It's Witchcraft' and it's happening tomorrow (November 10) and I'm so there! This series...very highly recommended! and definitely best read in order.
A copy of 'Criminal Intentions: Changing Faces' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
I'm just going to explain myself a little bit here because otherwise I probably won't be making a whole lot of sense to a whole lot of people and I want to talk about magic for a couple of reasons...
One because we're living in troubled times right now and I think we need to find the good and the magic that's in this world where and when we can and because I found some magic right here in a book called 'Alpha Heat' so here's where I get to tell my story of how I came to find some magic...
A few years ago my husband and I took our son and his partner out to dinner because it was our son's birthday and it's a thing that we do in our family where the birthday person gets to pick the restaurant that they want to have dinner at thankfully the birthday dinners at McDonald's are long gone. This restaurant is quite well known locally and even on a bit of a national level as well...ok, so you get my point here right...it's a really nice restaurant. Anyways, we all enjoyed an incredible meal and at the end of it I said to our son, "how was your dinner?" and he looked at us and said "James must be magic because he took everything that I never thought I liked and turned it into the most amazing meal." so having shared this little slice of my life I now feel compelled to say...
"Leta Blake must be magic because she took everything that I thought I never wanted to read and turned it into the most amazing story that I loved...and maybe Michael Ferraiuolo helped a bit as well but I'll talk about that a bit more later.
So here I am back in a world that includes MPREG, knotting, fisting and more, but I read 'Slow Heat' and I didn't even bat an eye once I got into it,I was all in and I enjoyed the hell out of that story. I also admit that i got it because I was asked if I wanted to review the second book, 'Alpha Heat' on audio and I saw that the narrator was once again Michael Ferraiuolo so I said 'hell yeah' and once again I was all in I mean it's not like this was going to be my first MPREG story right? What I didn't expect was the fact that while it wasn't the first one for me...it was by far the better of the two. Not that 'Slow Heat' wasn't good...I gave it 4 stars so I think we can put that idea to rest but in my mind 'Alpha Heat' totally kicked it up a notch because...
While we've still got MPREG, knotting, fisting (off page thank you very much Ms. Blake) we've also got two MCs that honestly when I met them in the first story I wasn't feeling any warm fuzzies. You know the old saying take them or leave them...well if you'd asked me before I listened to 'Alpha Heat' I would have said ok, leave them. But having made the commitment to give this a fair and honest review I'd essentially taken that option off of the table for myself.
So now that I've had that lovely little ramble let's talk about the story and why I wasn't suppose to want to read this, much less enjoy it...first off there's Urho and Xan. We met both of these characters in 'Slow Heat' if you read that then you can probably jump ahead a little bit here but if not than just know that Urho is a doctor and trust me when I say for the purposes of this story that's a very good thing and while he's friends with both Jason and Vale (read 'Slow Heat) he originated as Vale's friend, while Xan was Jason's best friend and roommate at college and continues in this story as Jason's best friend.
Throughout the course of 'Slow Heat' I just never warmed up to either of these men and that was fine with me they were secondary characters but all that has changed here, because in this story they're the main characters...well them and Caleb...Xan's asexual and aromantic Omega and here's where I'm going to reinforce what the author has already said 'there is no cheating in this story.'
So what else wasn't I suppose to enjoy in this one well...one of the characters has a bit of a kink for rough sex and humiliation and all I can say is holy crap this is SO NOT MY THING! more so than anything else but I was determined to see this one through and in spite of this I was really getting into this story plus I was starting to really, really like Urho and Xan and then we met Caleb and damn, Caleb fascinates me. I'll be the first to admit for a lot of the story I ran hot and cold on whether or not I liked him but I was always fascinated by him so continuing became a non-issue I was in it for the long haul.
Now what else didn't I like...well, there was Xan's father and let me just say if you've read or listened to the audio book, I can't imagine that I'm alone on that one. Next we have Xan's cousin, Janice and while I can't exactly say that I didn't like Janice, I can very truthfully say that I didn't like his behavior and I think this is as good a time as any the segue into what I did like about this story...
So let's carry on with Janice because like Caleb I think there's so much more to Janice than meets the eye. Honestly I'm hoping that Janice will find himself some redemption in another story and Caleb I honestly can't imagine that there isn't just so much more to Caleb than what we've seen here.
In general there are so few stories with characters who are asexual/aromantic that I'm fairly comfortable saying that this is maybe the second or possibly third book that I've read with an asexual/aromantic character who has a fairly important role in the story and for myself I liked the way that the author handled this. I never felt that Caleb was being ignored or that his importance to Xan was ever diminished but at the same time the author didn't take things too far the other way making it feel like Xan was being patronizing or condescending when it came to Caleb. To say that I found Caleb to be a unique and fascinating character is probably understating things a little but we'll go with that.
It's also been a while since I've read a book that left me wanting more about as many secondary characters as this one has...there's Janice, Caleb, Wren (or Ren, I'm not sure how that was spelt) and Xan's brother Ray. While I wasn't exactly a smitten kitten when it came to Xan's father his brother Ray was an entirely different story. I feel like I'm leaving someone out in all of this but I think you get my point which is that the author has created a number of characters that have depth and dimension creating characters that compelled me to want to know more about them.
There were a couple of births that happened during this story and once again Ms. Blake's balancing act of giving just the right amount of detail was spot on for me and I wasn't even a little bit squicked out about them.
Ok at this point I'm going to talk about the narrator because damn, this reviews getting long...I mean seriously I'm cutting into your reading time here and that's just sad and wrong so I'm going to just say a couple more things and then I'll shut up, I promise...
First about the narrator...Michael Ferraiuolo...I mean really do I need to say more? The man is a consummate professional when it comes to audio books he not only gets the job done but he does it with flare bringing life and depth to the characters and the story.
and last but not least in a time when we need all the magic moments we can get thank you, Leta Blake and Michael Ferraiuolo for giving me over 15 hours of magic.
An audio book of 'Alpha Heat' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.