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review 2017-09-21 17:02
The Specter of the Indian: Race, Gender, and Ghosts in American Seances, 1848-1890 (Hardcover) by Kathryn Troy
The Specter of the Indian: Race, Gender, and Ghosts in American Seances, 1848-1890 - Kathryn Troy

I am thrilled someone has finally decided to explore the Native American side of the United States story. This is the spectral side of their story. The Indians had a hard way of life even before the White Man came along and tossed them off their lands and took away not only their livelihood but also their lives. In this book we get to explore how after death the Native's let their thoughts and feelings be known to early spiritualists. Native's have always believed in the spiritual side of life. This book will show you they were right. If you believe.

 

Kathryn Troy has done an outstanding job with this book. I was so into this book I couldn't put it down. This book gives you so much history, so much research, and so many point based facts. It is not over the top mind blowing though. She has written it all out with the perfect amount of information that it does not bog your brain down. The research she has done must have been astronomical. Everything in the book is backed up with documentation so you know this is not just her opinion of the facts. I love how she takes you back in time to the seance as it is happening. She lays it all out for you to the point your mind will actually take you the seance. You can feel the power around you.

 

I was given a copy of this book to read by the author for review.

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review 2017-08-31 02:15
Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá (audiobook)
Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality - Cacilda Jethá,Christopher Ryan,Allyson Johnson,Jonathan Davis

This book had a lot of interesting information, but I can understand why Mari Ruti criticized the last few chapters in The Age of Scientific Sexism. It's like the authors forgot everything they had just been saying about women's sexuality in the previous few chapters and focused solely on men. That said, even if you don't agree with all of their conclusions (and they seem to make some assumptions about single-parent households being worse for children than married households, presumably focusing on the US and its lack of socialized childcare), the information presented is interesting and worth a ponder. Basically, they present a fair amount of information supporting the idea that lifelong monogamy isn't quite as "natural" with respect to human evolutionary history as we've been told and so we shouldn't feel that we're failures if we can't achieve it. That said, expecting lifestyles suited to hunter-gatherer cultures to mesh well with modern living may lead to disappointment as well (my own thought, not theirs).

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text 2017-08-28 21:35
Reading progress update: I've listened 386 out of 657 minutes.
Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality - Cacilda Jethá,Christopher Ryan,Allyson Johnson,Jonathan Davis

I'll admit I had some doubts about this book after reading some of the reviews, but I'll gladly listen to a take-down of Steven Pinker's data on the history of violence in human culture. Even while reading it I found his reasoning narrow-minded and sometimes flawed.

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review 2017-08-16 04:28
The Age of Scientific Sexism by Mari Ruti
The Age of Scientific Sexism: How Evolutionary Psychology Promotes Gender Profiling and Fans the Battle of the Sexes - Mari Ruti

"How evolutionary psychology promotes gender profiling and fans the battle of the sexes"

 

This isn’t a particularly light read but it’s a compulsively readable one. Ruti has read a number of the “popular” books concerning evolutionary psychology (as opposed to scientific publications although she cites some of those too), and presents an analysis of four of them. Ruti doesn’t have a scientific background but she’s analyzing the arguments put forward by popular science books and not criticizing the research methodology.* Although she only analyzes four in detail, she’s distilled the “standard narrative” from the many other books she's read and spends her time discussing how the individual books deviate from that standard narrative. Towards the end of her discussion, she does put forward some of her own opinions on sexuality, desire, and marriage but I don’t think that this detracts from her main arguments.

 

[* Ok, she may make a few criticisms of how some of the surveys are conducted, but they're basically common sense observations.]

 

There are unquestionably some moments during the read that Ruti’s frustration with the field is palpable, but I can certainly relate. The books she references are a mix of ones I will definitely avoid and ones that I plan to seek out. I think I expected more of a rant but it really was a fairly straightforward discussion of the points and arguments that the books actually presented and where the conclusions sometimes didn’t match those from the author’s academic papers. It’s an overview of the topic that helps to save the reader from slogging through quite so many books as Ruti did to get at the same information.

 

Some of the highlights (listed as I recall them) are that humans appear to be more promiscuous than the “standard narrative” allows and serial monogamy is a much more reasonable expectation than lifelong monogamy in most cases if monogamy is achievable at all. The “coy” female is basically patriarchal BS and there’s a theory that efforts to repress women’s sexuality only started at the dawn of agriculture. Although biological differences certainly exist, a lot of the gender differences that are bandied about can be explained through socialization and it’s impossible to determine where the effects of biology end and those of socialization start or vice versa. Oh, and the ideal of monogamous pair-bonding creates more stable workers and our society seems to value that over everything else.

 

I quite enjoyed it, so I think I’ll guardedly recommend it, as long as anyone picking it up realizes that it’s not as light a read as Inferior and they’ll actually be wading through arguments presented in other books.

 

Previous updates:

174 of 193 pages

158 of 193 pages

110 of 193 pages

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review 2017-08-06 04:22
Visual novel review - Animal Lover

 

Warning: this game includes a death, references to suicide, and references to homophobic bullying.

Animal Lover is a visual novel created by Trainwreck Studios. It's primarily fantasy with some romance aspects later on. There's no sex, not even fade-to-black, implied, or text-only - the romance is limited to a date and an on-screen kiss or two. I considered this a plus. If you're particularly interested in games with LGBT aspects, one of the romanceable guys is revealed to probably be bisexual later on in the game (I say "probably" because the word is never used, but he does talk about a past relationship with another guy).

Now for the summary: You play as Lucy (the default character name, which you can change), an intern at a veterinary clinic. Lucy loves animals and is immediately charmed by the hamster a little girl brings into the clinic. Because it reminds her so much of the hamster she used to have, Lucy briefly forgets herself and gives him a little kiss before putting him back in his cage. Shockingly, the little hamster then transforms into a human being. A good-looking and very naked young man.

The hamster’s owners run out in horror, leaving Lucy to figure out what to do with the guy, whose name turns out to be Edmund. Edmund used to be a prince until he was transformed into a hamster (or something very like one) hundreds of years ago. Since then, he has repeatedly lived and died as a hamster, with no end in sight. Until now. Lucy agrees to help him find and free another human-turned-animal, eventually resulting in her having to clothe, feed, and house five good-looking guys from a variety of time periods. Not only that, but it looks like her kisses don’t have a permanent effect: a random guy keeps transforming back into an animal each time the sun sets. They need to figure out a way to undo the curse for good. Especially before Charlie, whose animal form was a bear, transforms.

I’d seen this game on Steam a bunch of times but kept passing on it because the art style didn’t appeal to me. Then, during a sale, I read a few reviews written by people who said they had also disliked the art style and still ended up liking the game, so I decided to take a chance on it.

I’ll start off by saying that it takes a long time for this game to get going. My first full play through, the only one where I read all of the text, took somewhere between 5 and 5.5 hours. I didn’t keep track, but I think it might have taken an hour and a half for all the guys to be introduced and remember how they’d been cursed, at least half the game before they made some headway on figuring out what to do about it, and two thirds before romance really entered the picture. While I was a little frustrated with how long it took for all the main characters to join the story, the rest didn’t bother me quite as much because I enjoyed the characters’ conversations and banter. Your mileage may vary.

Gameplay is simple - this isn’t a stat raising visual novel. There are a variety of decision points where you have to choose between different dialogue options or actions, and that’s it. You’re not technically locked into a particular guy’s route until you decide which one you’d like to spend an afternoon (day?) with approximately two thirds of the way through the game, although certain responses earlier on will affect when one particular thing happens and, in the case of one character, whether you can get his “good” ending.

Lucy has five romantic options: Edmund, who used to be a prince several hundred years ago and was transformed into a hamster; Frankie, a car mechanic from the 1950s who was transformed into a cat; Kyle, an anarchist punk rocker from the 1980s (if I remember right) who was transformed into a ferret; Miguel, a football player from the 1990s (again, not sure if I’m remembering this right) who was transformed into a dog; and Charlie, who was only transformed into a bear a year ago and who owns a website designed to help indie bands/musicians sell their music.

During my first playthrough, I focused on Miguel and Charlie and decided to have Lucy go out with Charlie when I was finally asked to make a decision. And that’s when the game became more than just lots of laid back conversations and funny moments and really hooked me. I mean, I enjoyed the humor, I enjoyed Lucy’s strong personality, and I liked most of the guys, but for a while there I was sure my final verdict was going to be that this was simply an okay visual novel.

I had thought that the guys’ explanations about how and why they’d been transformed sounded pretty weak, but I hadn’t realized how much they’d been holding back until Charlie told me the full truth about his transformation. Then the

“Last Living Punk Rocker” chapter happened, and it was like a gut punch. I wanted to go back, choose Kyle, and fix everything. (FYI: there’s no way to make that chapter not happen. Sorry. But things can get better, depending on your past and future choices. I promise.)

(spoiler show)


There are essentially seven endings: one “good” ending for each of the guys, one “I don’t forgive you” ending where Lucy ends up single, and one “you can’t be serious, where’s the ‘good’ ending?” ending for

Kyle

(spoiler show)

. Although it’s fairly obvious that the “Lucy ends up single” ending isn’t the way you’re supposed to want things to go, I appreciated that Lucy had clearly started to move on with her life and wasn’t a wreck, and that the guys had accepted her choice. It didn’t feel like a “bad” ending, aside from the whole thing with Kyle (which is present in four of the five “good” endings, anyway).

I’ve only managed to get three of the five guys (Charlie, Frankie, and Kyle) to tell me the full truth about why they were transformed, although I imagine it’s possible to get all of them to talk to you depending on your choices. It bugged me a little that, in order for any of the romances to work out, Lucy had to decide in an instant whether she forgave the guy for what he’d done or didn’t. A day of processing time would have been nice. That said, I liked that each of the “I forgive” dialogues explicitly recognized that the guys had done something bad, something that counted as a potential relationship red flag. Those “I forgive” moments were also a lot better if the guys had admitted what they’d done earlier on, rather than waiting for their secret to forcibly be revealed later. As much as I liked and felt for Miguel, for example, it irked me that I had to hear the full truth from someone else. I’ll probably do another playthrough with an eye towards getting him to tell me what he’d done.

All in all, this packed more of a punch than I expected it would. Parts with

Kyle

(spoiler show)

flat out made me cry - I became way more invested in him than I expected I would. And I’ll probably be thinking about the game’s “forgiveness” aspect for quite some time, even though it didn’t 100% work for me.

Additional Comments:

  • If you want to use an actual "Save" slot and not the "Quick" of "Auto" save slots, you need to right-click on the screen to do that - the Save button just does "Quick" saves.
  • There's no art gallery. Although the artwork didn't appeal to me at first, it eventually grew on me, so this bugged me. I'd have liked to save a few scenes. My favorites: Kyle's first appearance, Kyle's kissing scene, and Miguel's kissing scene (wow, that height difference).

 

Rating Note:

 

For a large portion of my first playthrough, I thought I'd be giving this 3.5 stars. There were spots where I got really impatient and just wanted things to move along - the first half of the story really could have used some tightening up. However, this is one of those visual novels that actually seemed to improve with each playthrough (keeping in mind that I made liberal use of the "skip read text" button). I could see myself rereading the full thing (aiming for the "canon" ending) sometime in the future.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

 

I'll end this with one of my favorite spoiler-free screenshots. Kyle is the cutest and wildest little ferret.

 

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