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review 2019-09-02 21:18
Everyday Day
Everyday Sexism - Laura Bates

I should've read this book sooner, but I admit that a part of me thought "I probably already know all of what's in there", while another part thought "...and that's probably why reading it would disgust me."

So yeah, it was "disgusting"—in that I unfortunately ended up ticking boxes. And I'm relatively "fortunate" in my current workplace where we can actually have discussions with people without someone throwing in a dirty joke every two minutes, and "fortunate" that I "only" got groped by random guys in public transportations. Yeah, I'm so lucky I "only ticked some boxes and not all of them", huh.

In other words:
- If you already know the problem, read it anyway, since in 2019 the problem obviously hasn't gone away yet and a reminder is a good thing.
- If you believe there is no problem, then definitely read it because... well, who want to stay ignorant, right?

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review 2019-06-25 22:31
Is this the same alt reality that gave us Abraham Lincoln the vampire killer?
Dread Nation - Justina Ireland

Dread Nation: Rise Up by Justina Ireland is the first of a series about an alternate version of Civil War America where zombies roam the earth. Race and slavery are major themes of the story as well as feminism. In fact, it's black females that are sent to special schools to train to fight the undead ("shamblers") and protect their white employers. The reader follows Jane, a student at one of the more prestigious combat schools. While Jane is a talented fighter she is not gifted in the art of gentility (which is really just bowing down to societal pressures). In a lot of ways, this is a typical zombie apocalypse story with the requisite gore, guts, and guns. However, the setting, time period, and atypical female protagonist make for an exciting change of pace. I really enjoyed Dread Nation but some loose ends could have been tied off (and if they're not addressed in subsequent volumes I'm gonna be peeved). Fast paced, a good twist on a classic genre, and quality writing make this an A+ young adult novel for the zombie lover in your life. (Question: Witch, vampire, werewolf, or zombie? True fans will understand the importance of this question.) Bonus content at the back of the book: Indian American boarding schools were used as inspiration for the Negro and Indian combat schools described in this book. 8/10 with a few points deducted because the ending could have been tighter.

 

What's Up Next: The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Strange Sight: An Essex Witch Museum Mystery by Syd Moore

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-12-19 00:22
I guess Jughead is preferable to being called Forsythe Pendleton
Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale - Francesco Francavilla,Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Afterlife with Archie: Escape From Riverdale (issues 1-5) by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa was mentioned briefly in my review of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Vol 1 as it was created by the same author AND both books exist in the same twisted universe. Where Sabrina dwells in a world governed by dark magic and witches that do Satan's bidding Archie and his friends are living in a different kind of hell on earth. For those familiar with the comic strip featuring Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead you're accustomed to 1950s nostalgia vibes of burgers at the diner and lovelorn glances across the football field. There's that in this iteration and a whole lot more. Aguirre-Sacasa must have tapped into that same dark vein that Stephen King has plumbed for years because Riverdale's residents are being plagued by the walking dead. I'M TALKING ZOMBIES, YA'LL. It all begins with Jughead's dog becoming infected and passing it to him through a bite until it spreads like an epidemic. (Remember the movie 28 Days Later?) Things come to a head at the school dance where of course Betty and Veronica are vying for Archie's attention so they don't immediately get that something is terribly wrong with their ol' pal Jughead. [A/N: I don't remember them being so catty but in this story they're doing anything and everything to catch this boy's attention even if they have to demean themselves to do it. It's actually pretty horrible how they treat each other and how absolutely ridiculous they make themselves. The boy ain't that great, ya know?] Things quickly devolved from there and it's a race against time as they and a few of their classmates try to find a place free of the undead creatures. It ends on a cliffhanger and volume two is in the works to be published next year so now is the time to get a head-start. Zombie and horror fans will delight in this series (as well as CAoS). For me it's a pretty solid 9/10 with a deduction for sexist/misogynistic depiction of female leads.

 

Jughead isn't that good at makeup, ya'll. [Source: Vulture]

 

What's Up Next: Star Trek Destiny #3: Lost Souls by David Mack

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Elfquest Archives: Volume 2 by Wendy & Richard Pini

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2016-11-12 12:36
Women, surgery, love, and mystery, Scottish style.
Black Widow: A Jack Parlabane Thriller - Christopher Brookmyre

Thanks to NetGalley and to Grove Atlantic for providing me with an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review. I have read several books written by Christopher Brookmyre years back and I loved them. I discovered him by picking up The Secret Art of Stealing at Liverpool Airport on the strength of reading the description and a few lines. The book had me laughing out loud within a few pages, and since then I’ve read a few of his novels, although I haven’t followed any of his series in full. I couldn’t resist the chance to catch up with his newest book, although I hadn’t read any of the other novels in the Parlabane series. And he delivered once more. I loved this book. There were the funny and witty moments the author had me accustomed to (although it is, by no means, his funniest book), the complex and tri-dimensional characters, the Scottish background, the complex plot with twist and turns that keep you guessing. I particularly liked the different points-of-view used to tell the story. Two of the points of views (although one only very briefly) are narrated in the first person, and the rest, including Parbalane’s and the female detective’s, are in the third person. I am fascinated by narrators and their roles in novels, and the way Brookmyre uses the different voices and points-of-view in this novel is a beautiful illustration of how the different options can be put to the best of uses. We get to see the same facts and events from different points of views, some directly involved in them, some who are investigating or being told the same, some at the time and some recounting what happened some time ago. Brookmyre puts the brains of his readers to the test, making them try to create a single consistent story from the different versions of events and different timelines, a bit like trying to complete the picture in a jigsaw puzzle from the disparate pieces. The story is cleverly composed sharing clues that wrong-foot us often, and we keep changing our minds as to our sympathies, suspects, and who the goodies and the baddies are. I can honestly say I kept trying to work out if I was being taken for a ride by the narrators or if I was just being given very partial accounts of the events. It’s difficult to talk in detail about this novel without giving any spoilers away. Being a doctor, and a woman, I felt particularly drawn to one the characters, the female surgeon who tells her version of the story in the first person, Diana Jager. She is by no means perfect and due to her determined actions has come to be feared and disliked, but I empathised with her experiences and her feelings about the career and the inherent difficulties women have to face (I remember as a medical student training in a hospital where one of the surgery firms would not take on female trainees, the only female surgeon with a regular post was known to be the lover of one of the surgeons and never did a day’s surgery in several months I was there, and among women the accepted wisdom was that women had to work twice as hard as men to get less than half the way up the ladder than they did. I hope things have changed since but I’m not confident). But the rest of the characters are equally interesting and non-standard. Although as I mentioned I haven’t read any of the previous Parlabane’s mysteries, I didn’t find that was an impediment to my enjoyment of the book, although I’m sure those who follow the series might enjoy it even more (if that’s possible). The story is dynamically told, and if anything, I thought it accelerates towards the end (as is usually the case when we see the resolution coming). I can’t say I saw what was going to happen from the beginning, although I sometimes beat Parlabane to the post, but just by little. I enjoyed the cleverness of the story and the way was written too. A case of form perfectly matching content. An involved and intriguing story, beautifully told, full of local detail and complex characters, that reflects on serious themes and will keep you guessing until the end, recommended to lovers of mysteries and thrillers. Another great book by Brookmyre.

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review 2016-10-08 14:58
The Hit - Melvin Burgess

This book is trash.

(TW: Rape mention.)

 

I was really disappointed by this. It had a great setting, a great storyline to start off with. The synopsis was pretty thrilling to start off with. Basically, there's a drug called "Death". It costs thousands to buy, and once you take it, you will experience the greatest high of your life. For an entire week, you'll be over the moon, you feel as if you can do everything you want, you'll be living life for the fullest...

 

Why is it just a week, may you ask? Oh, because after a week you're dead. The drug kills you. Taking Death means you get a week of absolute euphoria and then die.

 

And this book is set in a kind of...well, a kind of society where there are riots and people are getting fed up and angry at the corporations taking their money, and so young people are taking Death and experiencing life like that.

 

I didn't really follow that part, to be honest. The society didn't seem much different than now and you don't see teenagers taking this drug which will inevitably kill them. But whatever.

 

It started out great, it really did. Our protagonist - wait, let me just look up his name again - oh I remember now. Adam. 

 

Adam is a bit of a fuckboy to be honest. He's an ass. He's our main protagonist. He goes with his girlfriend to a party, pressurises her for sex at the end of the night. Of course, she's not impressed and throws it back in his face. He also gets beaten up by a gangster at the party, takes too much of a certain alcoholic substance and has a panic attack (or at least as close to it as our author can muster).

 

Basically, he's had a shit night and hates himself. So when he gets hold of a load of free Death pills...he takes one.

 

Pretty bad decision. Pretty stupid. Because for the next week he's on top of the world! He also knows he's going to die after the end of the week.

 

So he makes a bucket list. Which includes....ah, having sex with multiple women, getting his girlfriend pregnant (because, according to him, he "wants to leave something of himself behind"), killing someone who deserves to die, all these other items...

 

His girlfriend Lizzie isn't that pleased when she finds him climbing up to her bedroom in Romeo and Juliet style, all suddenly full of energy and confessing that he wants to do all these things. Especially not that he wants to fuck all these other random women. Or get her pregnant.

 

And she goes along with it anyway.

 

Christ. I don't know why she does. The whole time, Adam is constantly saying "I love you, Lizzie, I love you" like some kind of mantra. No, really. He never shuts up about it. He says it about 12 times per chapter. (Okay I'm exaggerating here but he says it a hell of a lot.)

 

Various events unfold throughout the story, including how Adam and Lizzie rob a shop for booze, get drunk (apparently if you're on Death, you need TRIPLE THE NORMAL AMOUNT to get drunk) do some other stupid shit, get arrested, sneak out again, go to another party...

 

Right, here's the main flaw with the book here. There's a lot of damn sexism going on here.

 

I'm not talking about the "if a guy's on Death he's automatically going to want to have sex with a load of women". I'm talking more about all the violence directed solely at women throughout the book. One chapter starts with a woman being beaten up. Another chapter has a woman being stabbed on the news live on camera, for the sole purpose of shocking Lizzie. The only female character who doesn't get beaten up, tortured or killed, is his own mother.

 

Later on, Lizzie is resolved to find the antidote for Death, to cure Adam (even though no sure cure exists). The gangster she met at the party tells on the phone he'll give her an antidote - on the condition that she has sex with him.

 

She agrees to this without much thought about it at all.

 

What. 

 

It should be worth mentioning that Adam doesn't even want an antidote at this point - nor is he even WORTH saving, he's such a terrible character - and she's going to allow this gangster to rape her to get an antidote? Which doesn't exist? Seriously?

 

I'm going to quote from the book here:

 

"What sort of a bitch would she be to let Adam die, just because of sex? It was the old story. Boys went to the rescue with a gun in their hands, girls with their knickers in their pockets. So which was worse? This way, she thought, at least no one was going to get hurt."

 

Oh sure, the gangster is just going to rape you and possibly kill you too, no one's going to get hurt. Fucking hell.

 

Actually, it turns out that he keeps her prisoner and beats her to a pulp - he tries to rape her but can't manage it because he can't get himself up. I'm not sure if this is supposed to be funny or something?

 

The thing is...the villains in this book are actually pretty comical. They have these running gags and I was sympathetic towards them at first. One of them is insane and has to make medication. Oh, and they kill a guy in a wheelchair too. And beat up women. And may be serial rapists. So I guess they're no longer funny now.

 

Seriously, don't try to make your villains comic relief - and THEN show that they're mass-murderers, women-beaters and potential rapists. Do one or the other. It doesn't mix!

 

...Boy, I really started hating the book after that. I skimmed the rest.

 

If you're wondering about the end, it turns out that the Death pill that Adam took was a fake, and so he's not going to die after all. And some shitty message about how life is precious to you. (Another female character blows herself up, too btw. Because they can't get through one chapter of this damn book without torturing another woman.)

 

The violence wasn't even very realistic, to be honest. Another gangster comes round to Lizzie's cousin's house and beats her up. Like, breaks all her ribs along one side. Breaks her nose. She should be screaming in agony by this point.

 

Except she isn't screaming, she's still talking normally as if he only slapped her or something. It's just...badly done. It's like the author wants to see these characters tortured, but can't quite handle the definition of what happens AFTERWARDS.

 

There's a scene where the gangsters have forced Lizzie to urinate in a potty in front of them, whilst chaining one hand to the bed after they've smashed her face in.

 

I'll be honest with you here - that just sounds like the author's kink or fetish or something. I mean come on.

 

Oh, and by the way, Adam still never stops saying "I love you" to her - even AFTER he's had sex with another woman (which he does, the same woman who blows herself up a few chapters later). He also makes it clear to the reader that he fully intends to screw around with more girls behind her back.

 

This book just makes me angry. It doesn't make sense, the main character is the one who should be tortured for all his shitty actions (not his girlfriend, who almost gets raped), the villains are either highly comical or highly violent against women when the plot needs them to be, the remaining characters aren't great...

 

And really, what disappoints me is that the premise of this book sounded good at first. It was just executed so poorly. Avoid this please.

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