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review 2020-04-18 21:33
Luxurious package takes some unpacking
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories - Angela Carter

Do I dare call this full of symbolism, and therefore feel the need to scratch under the surface of these tales? Then again, is there any fairy tale worth it's salt that is not so.

Lets start saying that the way this is written is incredibly sensual. I was surprised because I was sure the first tale (The Bloddy Chamber), would turn up into a hardcore purple prose BDSM. It does not become explicit, but the erotic charge and the tug of war between desire for freedom and sexual or base hungers, innocence and a curiousity for corruption, is heavy and all encompassing on that one and several others in this collection (The Tiger's Bride, The Erl-king).

Puss in Boots was hilarious in all it's terribleness. Not one character in it can be called good, our narrator least of all, and yet. Lots of laughing OMG, no!


The Snow Child was... How do you pack it that fast? It takes infinitely more to unpack.

All of them are incredibly evocative. Also disturbing. Oh, and they screw with your mind with the POVs and tenses too.


I'm a still quite discombobulated by much of this, and I'm pretty certain I don't get even most  of what this is conveying, but frankly, at some point I started researching some fairy-tale stuff for background, and found out there are whole freaking books essaying on the meanings of this collection, so I reckon I'm good enough just keeping it floating on the back-burners of my mind.

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review 2020-01-25 16:27
That's one hell of a ghost
Beloved - Toni Morrison

I don't really know what to say about this book, literature-wise. What I know is that it touched me. I left a comment over halfway through, about crying to the beat of the lifting bits, and negative spaces, and I don't know if I'm capable of doing it more justice.


There was a lot that kept crashing over and over, in the echoes of lines and themes through the ages, and stays with me: Freedom as owning yourself. Freedom being necessary to be able to love. What can't be borne, what breaks you, the sequels, the need sometimes to leave the past buried. This idea:


“You your best thing, Sethe. You are.”


And this idea:


For years Paul D believed schoolteacher broke into children what Garner had raised into men. And it was that that made them run off. Now, plagued by the contents of his tobacco tin, he wondered how much difference there really was between before schoolteacher and after. Garner called and announced them men—but only on Sweet Home, and by his leave. Was he naming what he saw or creating what he did not? That was the wonder of Sixo, and even Halle; it was always clear to Paul D that those two were men whether Garner said so or not.


But over all, this:


“Here,” she said, “in this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don’t love your eyes; they’d just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face ’cause they don’t love that either. You got to love it, you! And no, they ain’t in love with your mouth. Yonder, out there, they will see it broken and break it again. What you say out of it they will not heed. What you scream from it they do not hear. What you put into it to nourish your body they will snatch away and give you leavins instead. No, they don’t love your mouth. You got to love it. This is flesh I’m talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms I’m telling you. And O my people, out yonder, hear me, they do not love your neck unnoosed and straight. So love your neck; put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it and hold it up. And all your inside parts that they’d just as soon slop for hogs, you got to love them. The dark, dark liver—love it, love it, and the beat and beating heart, love that too. More than eyes or feet. More than lungs that have yet to draw free air. More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize.”

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review 2019-09-28 05:46
Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut

Took some pages for the book to grab me. If I'm honest, I'm pretty sure it was the chat with his war-buddy's wife, and as it happens, it is something of a key for the whole book. There was a promise there


If I ever do finish it, though, I give you my word of honor: there won’t be a part for Frank Sinatra or John Wayne.
“I tell you what,” I said, “I’ll call it ‘The Children’s Crusade.’”


It was kept, in sub-title and spirit.


There is nothing that could ever come close to glorifying war inside these pages. The theme is how absurd a beast it is, the little and big tragedies, how far in time the damages travel (and who was that said that wars die only with the last soldier that fought in it dies?). Hell, the whole way it's constructed is thoroughly trafalmadorian, which we would call hell of a PTSD outside any sci-fi bent mind.


It's also so bittersweet and human. There was also this other bit near the beginning that caught me


And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human.


Because... well, I guess because it kind of encapsulates the thing, and how it feels. It's horrible, and terrible, and pretty disgusting, and so are almost every character in one aspect or another, but you are compelled to look. The dead demand to be witnessed and acknowledged and war sucks.


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review 2019-06-02 01:11
50 PeopleWho Messed Up the World - Tim Richman,Alexander Parker

So Alex Jones is my age, and he looks at least a decade older. I didn't know that.

It's an interesting book if, perhaps, not as funny as they think they are.

The 50 are mostly men and mostly white, but run not only the political spectrum but also sports, media, and so on. They pick "silly" choices like pop and reality stars, but also serious ones and people they might agree with politically.

There are too many asides and quibs directed at "snowflakes" but the writers seem more centered than anything else.

Of course. when a book says, "we need to learn how to read again - critically and without prejudice", I tend to like it so, I am a bit biased there

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review 2019-01-28 08:06
Gakuen Prince (manga, vol. 3) by Jun Yuzuki, translated by Harumi Ueno
Gakuen Prince 3 - Jun Yuzuki

Things finally seem to be going better for Rise, now that she and Azusa have had their mock wedding and have been officially approved of and supported by Reiko Onitsuka, the student body president. However, it's clear that Akamaru still dislikes and distrusts Azusa. Nobunaga, a member of the student council, decides to use that fact to try to lure Akamaru to the dark side (i.e. the student council, which Akamaru has thus far resisted joining).

It all starts when Azusa comes down with a cold. Rise goes to his house and learns just how much he's been hiding from her and everyone else. His secrets soon land him in hot water at school, threaten to destroy his relationship with Rise, and add to Akamaru's list of reasons to want him gone.

This is the first volume in this series that I haven't disliked. Which isn't to say that I think this series has taken a turn for the better. It's still a dumpster fire of horrible people, a central "romance" I can't bring myself to root for, and world-building that is both shoddy and vile. But this volume allowed me to mentally recast Akamaru as Rise's true love interest as Azusa repeatedly shot himself in the foot. Again. Seriously, the guy is an idiot. He probably doesn't deserve whatever volume 4 has in store for him (anything called

a "public execution," involving what I think is a riding crop,

(spoiler show)

can't possibly be good), but I wouldn't cry if he were banished from the school for good.

This is also the first volume in the series that hasn't included on-page or hinted-at sexual assault. The male student council members apparently have orgies while the study body president is away, so these high schoolers are still having a ridiculous amount of sex, but at least it looked to be consensual.

All right, back to Akamaru and Azusa. I'm still not sure why Akamaru seems to like Rise so much, but he was definitely pretty cute, saving the lunch Rise didn't get a chance to give Azusa, and eating his mushrooms when Rise commented on his picky eating habits. The more I grew to like Akamaru, the more of an inconsistent mess Azusa seemed. He'd act like a clueless but potentially adorable idiot one minute, and then become hard and cold the next. And considering what his private life turned out to be like, Jyoushioka High School's setup should have been a snap for him. I'm not sure the author thought that one through very well.

This is where my Gakuen Prince reading experience ends. From what I can tell, volume 3 was the last paper volume of this series to be printed. Digital versions of the later volumes are available, but I don't care enough for this series, or even just Akamaru, to want to buy them.


Considering that this volume ends on a fairly dark note, the extras are practically sugary sweet by comparison.

  • A one-page comic-style author's note about one of her assistants.
  • Four two-page shorts, each focused on a different character: Azusa Mizutani, Omi Akamaru, Suguru Munechika, and Reiko Onitsuka (who seems to either be bi or a lesbian).
  • A personality test that matches you up with one of six characters in the series. I was fairly confident about my answers until the last question, which I wasn't sure about. Then I peeked at the results, and I'm going with the answer that gets me Akamaru, because the other answer would have gotten me Azusa. And hoo boy, the descriptions for the different people you could end up with are about what you'd expect considering this series. For example, here's a portion of Munechika's: "The more incompetent you are, the more he'll want to protect you. And this will lead to love! You should ask for his help, even if you can do things for yourself. It's better to leave it all up to him in bed too!"
  • A two-page afterword.
  • A two-page comic about a prank the author tried to play on her assistants that didn't work out.
  • Five pages of translator's notes.


Rating Note:


I had no idea how to rate this. It was relatively entertaining and didn't enrage or repulse me as much as parts of the previous volumes. 2.5 stars is probably overly generous, but it's what I'm going with.


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

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