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text SPOILER ALERT! 2016-09-03 03:31
RADICALS

Chapter 1

 

   My hands are numb from the cold air. It's 6 am and I'm waiting outside of the Prelude Clubhouse for my dad to finish a breakfast meeting with his work group. Every Sunday, he insists on taking me with him for golf, but when the meeting starts, I only stay long enough to finish my food. Their conversations are always so bland, so reserved. They talk numbers and reports, almost as if to bore me. Deep down, I know that it's a distraction. It might be a family gathering, but I am the only relative that comes. There are dozens of men there. I can't imagine that not a single one is a father or a husband.

No—they purposefully wait for me to leave to talk business. It worries me what kind of work my dad is involved in that's so closed-off and secretive. I picture them as a room of criminals. My presence is an inconvenience, but I have to attend. It's only fitting after my mom died two years ago. He would take her. I feel like coming here helps fill that empty void for my dad.

   A door opens from behind me and I turn slightly to see a younger member of the group approaching me. He's dressed in a black business suit like the others, but striking blue eyes contrast jet-black hair. He stood out to me from the first day and from what I've seen of his mannerisms, he's fairly new to the organization.

   "Needed some fresh air?" he asks as he comes to stand at my left side.

   I shrug. No one has ever asked me this before.

   "I wouldn't know what to talk about in there," I admit.

   He smiles, but looks ahead at the foggy rolling hills beyond the course.

   "You might be surprised," he responds. "There's a lot to be said about what we do. You never know—one of these days, this might be your legacy to share with us."

   I smile back, failing to re-capture his wandering gaze. "I doubt I'm cut out for it. That's more my father's thing." I question why I called my dad that. I'm not one to pick up conversational cues for the sake of the other person. This man has a strange effect on me. It doesn't make me feel very comfortable.

   "Maybe," he concludes simply.

   I open my mouth to mention that I'm not fully sure what it is that they do, but he turns and returns to the front double-doors.As one opens, he catches it, holding it for my dad.

   "Thank you," my dad says to him, before walking to me.

   The man disappears inside, but not without another glance at me. I'm not sure what it is behind his eyes that has me stuck in place. It was forceful.

   "There you are," my dad tells me in a tone that's meant to be cheerful. I don't buy the attitude for one second—his eyes tell a different story. They're apprehensive, almost scared.

   "That was weird," I explain to him. "He asked why I'm out here."

   "I'm not surprised. You never stay." He starts walking with me across the road leading from the clubhouse to the entrance gate. "What did he say?"

   "I'll explain when we're back at the house."

   This place has the tendency to give me the creeps on any day. I have no interest in discussing anything personal within possible earshot of the grounds. Before we take more than two steps onto the lawn to cut across to the parking lot, a black sedan drives at an oddly-low speed across the road. I follow it with my eyes as it circles to behind us. Then, it stops—so do I. My dad must sense my hesitation. He stops, too, turning around to look at the car. A rear passenger's window rolls down and I see a mirror-like reflection no bigger than a bottleneck shining from the lower edge of it. I get an uneasy feeling and step towards my dad.

   A loud bang cuts through the air and I hear my dad gasp. The window rolls up as the car leaves, just as slowly as it came.       The next few moments don't feel real—they happen too quickly. All I can do is let out the breath I've been holding as I shake my dad on my lap, having collapsed onto the grass in a desperate attempt to catch his falling body. I see blood soaking through his blazer where his heart should be. I near to touch it, to try to stop the bleeding, but my hand freezes, moving sharply to his face instead as I pray that he moves.

   "Dad," I squeak in the loudest voice that will escape my lips—it's inaudible. I shake him again by the shoulders, but he won't move anymore. It's like he froze. "Dad!"

   Echoes of my cries pulsate through my head, but he won't hear me. He won't listen anymore.

Source: mayatripathi.wix.com/fallacies/radicals
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text 2016-04-10 17:43
Confess by Colleen Hoover
Confess: A Novel - Colleen Hoover

Anyone that's read more than one Colleen Hoover book can probably agree with me here: she's the queen of romance. 

 

I was immediately drawn in by Colleen's writing style and characterization. Her style is conversational, and easy to read. Her characters are real and have depth, it wouldn't be hard to put yourself in their shoes in one way or another, or to picture them as your best friend or as a family member. They feel human in a sense that Colleen never seems to portray one of her characters as 'perfect' as I have often found when reading YA/NA novels. They have scars and imperfections, and they have had plenty of highs, and the lowest of lows. Maybe it's for these reasons alone that I want to keep picking up every Colleen Hoover book that I can get my hands on. But let me tell you a bit about why THIS story in particular was a win win for me.

 

Aside from the romance which, by the way, was perfect, this story had so many layers to it. I love it when an author can tie together parallel paths within a story and make them come together so beautifully at the end, which is exactly what happened in Confess. 

 

What made this book a special item to have was that there was art work throughout its pages. The images shown all had a meaning and a place within the story. It was like Colleen decided to write a book, but then did it even better than anyone could have hoped for. It was an experience to say the least. On the one hand the reader is following this story, which was a delight for the imagination. And on the other hand, we're being shown these colorful and exiting images to delight our other senses. Did I mention that I think all books should have artwork in them? Well I'm saying that now. I was blown over by the creativity of this book inside and out. Colleen and her publishers really did a stellar job of this one. 

 

Now for the characters. Auburn and Owen are the kind of people that I wish were real. I think both were equally as well developed in the telling of the story. One didn't fall short of the other. Auburn was maybe a little innocent for my liking, but a well rounded lead for the story nevertheless. Owen was a little more my cup of tea in a sense that he had a bit more grit to his personality. But both worked well together as a fictional duo because of their differences. I think this book was perfectly balanced in all aspects, which I think is a pretty hard thing to come across in YA/NA books sometimes. They're either full of hormonal teenage angst that detracts from the actual story line, or it lacks that spark completely. There was just enough of everything to leave me wanting more, and then to be completely satisfied with the ending because Colleen looked into my soul and wrote it exactly how I wanted it to be.  

 

All in all, I think this was a wonderful read. I've already got my next Colleen Hoover book sitting on my shelf, waiting for me to devour it soon!

 

More to come.

 

Steph x

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review 2013-03-30 16:31
French Fiction in the Mitterrand Years: Memory, Narrative, Desire (Oxford Studies in Modern European Culture)
French Fiction in the Mitterrand Years: Memory, Narrative, Desire (Oxford Studies in Modern European Culture) - Colin Davis;Elizabeth Fallaize You will never ever forget your first contact with the Malaussene family. Never. From le Petit (the youngest boy of this rag tag family of misfits) to the latest baby named Verdun because she doesn't just yell she howls like the bombs at the battle of Verdun, to Clara, sweet Clara to Benjamin who heads the family because he isn't really given the choice and makes due and because it's in his nature to be the scapegoat for everyone his family included. This first novel featuring the Malaussene family establishes Benjamin's status as the perfect scapegoat (he ends up in jail for bombings he has nothing to do with unless being there is reason enough. In Benjamin's case, it is. Au bonheur des ogres is this sideways holiday fairy tale where ogres are heroes and being different is something to be celebrated not hidden. One of my all time favourite series of novels starts with this quirky opening bow where amidts all the drama Benjamin finds love without looking for it.
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review 2012-09-11 00:00
The Count of Monte Cristo - Bill Homewood,Alexandre Dumas One of those books which you really should read the original, even though everyone knows the story from countless movie versions, etc. It's probably the best story of injustice and revenge ever told.

2012 Reread

Okay, really it's a first read, since I only read the unabridged version as a child.


Mon dieu! This was 53 hours as an audiobook, guys! I listened to the unabridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo in my car, and my commute isn't that long, so it took about two months.

Don't make fun of Dickens' wordiness until you've read Dumas. He is wordy as heck and makes up a hundred little side-stories and indulges the reader who wants to know the final fate of every single minor character. But if you want to dive into a big thick juicy scheming revenge novel with a moral at the end, The Count of Monte Cristo is full of more adventure and spectacle than Dickens would ever deign to write. (Though Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now did for greedy scurrilous English bankers and hoity-toits what Dumas does for the French.)

So, you probably know the bones of the story, because Edmund Dantes is the original Batman. No, his parents aren't murdered in front of his eyes, but two "friends" set him up as a traitor by sending an anonymous letter accusing him of being a Bonapartiste. (19th century French politics play a role here, as the first part of the novel is set during the period when Napoleon was confined to the isle of Elba, and then staged a dramatic return during which he briefly tried to regain the throne.) One of his friends wants his job, the other wants his girl, and Dante has the misfortune to go before a public prosecutor named Villefort, who initially wants to let Dantes go, realizing he's just a poor sap who was set up. However, when it turns out that Dantes unknowingly possesses evidence that Villefort's own father is a Bonapartiste, he instead consigns the hapless sailor to imprisonment in the Château d'If, an island prison off the coast of Marseilles. There, Dantes spends the next fourteen years, during which time he meets another prisoner, a "mad" priest who has been unsuccessfully trying to bribe his jailers to let him go with promises of a fantastic fortune he knows the location of.

To make a long story short, Dantes escapes, after having spent fourteen years learning all worldly knowledge from the Abbé Faria. He goes and finds the Abbé's fortune, an ancient Roman treasure, and soon reemerges in Europe as the mysterious Count of Monte Cristo. He's fantastically rich, an expert with all arms, poisons, and finance, he has Muslim servants and a beautiful Greek princess as his slave/ward, and he's buddies with Italian bandits and Mediterranean smugglers. He's a master of disguise and he has an indomitable will. This former sailor now moves as easily among French aristocracy as he does among Italian brigands. Everyone admires and fears him.

Seriously, guys, he's freakin' Batman.

He spends years acting as an angel of mercy and vengeance, rewarding the deserving, while planning his revenge against the three men who sent him to the Château d'If. The plot is intricate and there are dozens of characters, some of whom wind up interacting in fantastically coincidental ways. Since Dantes has returned from prison as the Batman, of course all his former enemies, who were once just poor scrubs themselves, are now fabulously wealthy and powerful as well, the better for Monte Cristo to bring them down.

It's an exceptional story, and a classic adventure. Kids should love it, if you can find a kid with the patience to read almost half a million words of flowery 19th century prose. Adults should also love it. But it's definitely over the top with all its coincidences and larger-than-life characters. Over the top, but a literary masterpiece. You get revenge and adventure and justice and a view of European high and low society in the post-Napoleon era. What elevates it above simple adventure and melodrama, besides the fine storytelling? It's not just Dantes getting even with those who did him wrong (which is how most of the movie versions portray it). In the end, his enemies undo themselves, and the Count of Monte Cristo finally faces the question of whether what he did was right and whether it was all worth it. Like Batman, he's never really going to find peace.

This book is totally worth reading -- and don't wimp out with an abridged version. Read the great big whomping unabridged doorstopper. That said, I have to give it only 4 stars, because while it's a classic that deserves its place, I wanted to start a drinking game for every time Dumas describes an "indescribable" expression or someone expresses an "inexpressible" emotion.

Okay, here's some word counts:

  • Inexpressible: 3
  • Ineffable: 5
  • Indescribable: 20


I don't know what French words they were translated from, but Dumas's writing does get quite purple by modern standards. Where Dickens crafted prosey, clever wordiness, Dumas is just wordy. And all those sordid coincidences! And entire chapters on the origins of various bandits and smugglers and where the asexual lesbian niece runs off to. And let's face it, an uneducated sailor spends fourteen years in prison and comes out as Batman? Come on now, guys. But it's still awesome.
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