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review 2017-05-05 09:18
The more I though, the more I raged
Casino Royale - Ian Fleming

I have so many issues with this. The rampant misogyny, of course. The fact that, personally, I find the whole espionage reason d'etre detestable. And generally, the part where this was not the story I was expecting.

Let's say I waive away the misogyny with a bit of dark amusement (passing the middle-point, I just wanted Vesper to stick it to Bond; and then there is the line "sweet tang of rape" that should be killed with fire, you can get some great examples under the spoiler tag), and take the spy tale on the hope that it'll be some fast action cheap-thrill. I did not get even that. I got a lot of card-playing, torture, and then a mess... I don't even know of what category, certainly not romantic, maybe melodrama. Hell,  I though it was already cheap that a woman couldn't be competent unless she was evil, but it was something (see, even lowering my standards to not be an angry female, what a waste), and then Vesper couldn't even rate to Femme-fatal. So no, there is no way to waive the misogyny. It's entrenched into the plot.

Someone could argue it's truer to the real world and the era, either the unexciting grimness or Bond's stance. I say fuck all that. Let us please have no more Vespers in real life, no more Bonds being glorified in fiction. Let us find other icons.

 

You can find some the shout-inducing bits here

Women were for recreation. On a job, they got in the way and fogged things up with sex and hurt feelings and all the emotional baggage they carried around. One had to look out for them and take care of them.

 

Charming, huh? Another beauty:

 

And luck in all its moods had to be loved and not feared. Bond saw luck as a woman, to be softly wooed or brutally ravaged, never pandered to or pursued. But he was honest enough to admit that he had never yet been made to suffer by cards or by women.  One day, and he accepted the fact he would be brought to his knees by love or by luck. When that happened he knew that he too would be branded with the deadly question-mark he recognized so often in others, the promise to pay before you have lost: the acceptance of fallibility.

 

Women, if they defeat you, take away you self-assurance.

 

This was just what he had been afraid of. These blithering women who thought they could do a man's work. Why the hell couldn't they stay at home and mind their pots and pans and stick to their frocks and gossip and leave men's work to the men. And now for this to happen to him, just when the job had come off so beautifully. For Vesper to fall for an old trick like that and get herself snatched and probably held to ransom like some bloody heroine in a strip cartoon. The silly bitch.

 

He really likes that word.

 

'Torture is a terrible thing,' he was saying as he puffed at a fresh cigarette, 'but it is a simple matter for the torturer, particularly when the patient,' he smiled at the word, 'is a man. You see, my dear Bond, with a man it is quite unnecessary to indulge in refinements. With this simple instrument, or with almost any other object, one can cause a man as much pain as is possible or necessary. Do not believe what you read in novels or books about the war. There is nothing worse. It is not only the immediate agony, but also the thought that your manhood is being gradually destroyed and that at the end, if you will not yield, you will no longer be a man.

 

The bad guy has more respect for a woman that the "hero". Women are more difficult, not because of some chivalrous bullshit, but because men are so attached to their organ *eye-roll*. And for the WTF crown:

 

And now he knew that she was profoundly, excitingly sensual, but that the conquest of her body, because of the central privacy in her, would each time have the sweet tang of rape.

 

It's supposed to be romantic. But then, this is just the inner character commentary, you have to still contend with the plot if you can go past that. Fuck this, I'm done.

(spoiler show)

 

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review 2017-01-06 11:42
The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
The Ghost Bride - Yangsze Choo

The main character was clearly dropped on her head as a child, and I had a lot of other issues with this book. Weirdly I still enjoyed the writing style, enough so that I didn't ditch the book. Which is saying something. The topic was also rather interesting.

 

Still had some major issues, like the MC being insanely shallow. 2 (ish) stars.

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review 2016-10-01 11:41
The Girl With No Name - My Review
The Girl With No Name - Diney Costeloe

What a beautiful ending to a wonderful book. Thank goodness Harry seem to have disappeared from the picture - I wonder what happened to him?

 

It was horrifying to read about Mutti's condition at the end, to imagine anyone could survive such a thing let alone the hundreds of people who did is just.... insane. It really does seem like a work of fiction; heartbreaking and impossible to believe.

 

Lovely ending, poor girl after all her heartache she deserved such a joyful end.

 

All the characters were exceptionally well done, even the devious Harry who I'm fairly certain turned into a narcissistic psychopath fundamentally due to his horrible circumstances. Terrifying to imagine how many others out there who would have turned into similar beings.

 

Still the skill the author showed in this book, creating this story and these superb characters was incredible. The Girl With No Name also had a unique writing style, sort of third-person then scatterings of first-person POV, admittedly I was a little weirded out by it at the beginning but it really worked for the story, I don't believe it would have been told as well without it. I'll definitely be looking into more of her work.

 

4 Stars

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review 2016-09-22 06:24
Vigil - Based in Brisbane!! (My Review)
Vigil - Angela Slatter

I'll admit the only reason I managed to finish this book was because it's loosely based in my place of residence (Brisbane) and I was intrigued. It was interesting to see how the author views the place we both live so differently to me, clearly a city girl who spends a lot of time at Kangaroo Point (which does have a beautiful view).


Anywho even though I did at times struggle with finishing Vigil I can't say it was a bad book as I did enjoy it. I think the reason why it was so easy to put down is more due to the pacing, there were times when there was a clear pause in the story, like a mini-finish where I could easily put the book down or would be bored enough to go off and do other things, plus the descriptions were a bit long for my taste, I prefer the minimalist amount. I have a good imagination my brain will do the rest.

 

The creatures where great, loved how they were dark and deadly. Characters were alright, I didn't really care for any of them or click with them. The main character had the maturity of someone in their late teens/early twenties even though it was obvious her character was meant to be older, this I find is a pet-peeve of mine. Really bugs me.
The book being based in brissy was trippy, some places were easily identified others not (though I did wonder if I'd be able to look up some places or people and see a real life version). The idea of so many people disappearing here is a bit ludicrous. It's not a very big city and we have a fairly good homeless community service programs here, even if they can't find a spot in a home they have access to food for free a few times a week by different groups, so the regulars are well known. Still not a bad idea if the city was bigger or if I hadn't lived here for a few years I'd be totally behind the idea.

 

I really enjoyed how everything came together nice and neatly in the end. I had no clue as to whom the bad guy was masquerading as so that was a nifty little surprises.
Anyways based on everything I decided to rate this book 2.5/3 stars.

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review 2016-08-26 21:22
The Girls, Emma Cline
The Girls: A Novel - Emma Cline

A/N: I'm reposting this because I just realized when you save a draft and then post it later, it posts under the original date and time. #themoreyouknow

 

Guy had been less interesting to the media, just a man doing what men had always done, but the girls were made mythic.

 

Why have the Manson murders made such a cultural impact, from 1969 to the present? Why do they fascinate us in a country with so many murders (or so much interest in them) there are now entire TV channels dedicated to true crime? One possible explanation is that, along with other events, like Altamont, the murders signaled the ending of an extended summer of love and of the counterculture, or showed us their dark underbelly, what happens when love is too devoted and social justice motivations are twisted. Another possibility is the unforgettable, crazed face of Manson himself.

 

But really, it's the girls.

 

How could so many girls be held in such thrall as to murder on command? How could they kill a beautiful, young, pregnant starlet? Young women make familiar victims. When they become victimizers, it puzzles, shocks, and disturbs, as if rabbits suddenly turned into predators instead of prey. As the quote above mentions, a man killing is nothing new. A woman killing...unnatural, we think.

 

A strength of Emma Cline's The Girls is that, though the girls flock around the Manson-like figure of Russell, it's really the protagonist's relationship with one of them, Suzanne, that takes center stage. As she notes of her meetings with Russell, I was eager for our encounters, eager to cement my place among them, as if doing what Suzanne did was a way of being with her. 

 

First, what this book isn't. It isn't an omniscient picture of a Manson Family-like group or of the fictionalized murders, though certainly you get an idea of the former through the lens of the first-person narrator, Evie, who is a temporary fixture at their farm. Evie learns the details of the murders through the media, like everyone else, but we're only given snapshots, disturbing but not too graphic. If you want a play-by-play of the real thing with gory details, google it or read Helter Skelter. That's not this novel's focus or raison d'etre.

 

It's also not a sweeping portrait of America in the '60s. I've seen some readers complaining that there isn't enough of this or that, mostly the sorts of things we've come to associate with that period whether we lived at that time or not: counterculture, protests, hippies, Vietnam. Those things are mentioned, and Russell preaches love and the ills of money while getting it where he can via the girls, but the book's not a history lesson (also, many forget that the majority of Americans did not participate in the counterculture or oppose the war in Vietnam). Evie is a fourteen-year-old girl; she's not oblivious to larger goings-on, but they're not as important as her feelings and desires and her immediate situation and environment.

 

If anything, The Girls is a coming of age story. It's split between Evie as a grown, older woman in the present and as a teenager in 1969, with a focus on the latter. She's become a caregiver but seems isolated. A run-in with an old friend's son and his girlfriend dredges up the past and reminds her what it feels like to be paid attention to. Evie comes to realize little has changed when it comes to the dynamics of young men and women, and it's a lens through which she sees herself in the past (and vice versa, her experiences in the past shedding light on her present observations). Her friend's son knows she was a part of "that cult," and his and his girlfriend's questions prompt her to consider how and why she didn't become a murderer herself.

 

As a fourteen year-old, Evie's life is familiar: she has a best friend, divorced parents, longs for the attentions of her friend's older brother. A fight with her friend and a disintegrating relationship with her mother (whom Evie blames for the divorce, as so many girls blame their mothers and pardon their fathers) leads her to help one of the girls she'd seen from the farm when they encounter each other at a pharmacy. Evie is immediately drawn to Suzanne; it's the book's opening scene. Evie begins spending time at the farm with Suzanne and the others, mostly girls, and eventually is introduced to their charismatic leader, Russell.

 

What follows mirrors what most know of the Manson Family: drugs, sex, communal living, a man who knows how to play to girls' insecurities to get what he wants. Russell knows a man from a popular rock band and wants a record deal; Evie becomes a sort of gift or bribe in those efforts, which ultimately fall through and culminate in violence.

 

Evie knows only so much about the other girls and their backgrounds, including Suzanne. She herself is conscious of her cleanliness and nice neighborhood, where she spends less and less time (her mother thinks she's with her friend), and of the boarding school she's being sent to at summer's end. But she finds some measure of acceptance at the farm, and the feeling of belonging (and Suzanne's attention) is intoxicating.

 

I highlighted more passages in this book than in any other e-book I've read. Cline has so many smart and revealing observations about girlhood (or girl into womanhood), and her prose is sharp and unique. I wouldn't be surprised if she wrote poetry as well. In terms of her writing style, YMMV (your mileage may vary); I've seen some put off by it. I ate it up (in contrast, I couldn't even finish the sample for Fates and Furies the language was so cloying to me). It's isn't overwhelming or flowery, just consistently startling. If you read the opening, you'll immediately have an idea of the book's prose and tone and whether or not it appeals to you.

 

There's a reason the book's description references The Virgin Suicides. Like that novel, there appears to be a mystery in need of solving, but there are no pat answers. Instead of the boys' perspective, as in Suicides, we have that of a young girl who was there. The Girls is clear about how and why Evie became who she is instead of someone else, and it's a line as fine as a thread, which is the most disturbing of all. The question isn't "Why those girls?" It's "Why not me?"

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