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review 2016-08-07 20:33
I read it so you don't have to
Night Watch - Josh Lanyon

I knew what I was getting myself into when I clicked that buy button and yet I did it anyway.


If you haven't noticed, I've had issues with Lanyon's work ever since I stumbled on an old book that had the characters spouting that reverse racism is a thing. Or something like it. Thing is, Lanyon spins a good yarn, if you ignore the whitey lenses of privilege, and I keep hoping maybe I'm wrong. I'm not. 


Yeah, this is a sweet four star novella of two adult men spending a non-explicit night together and possibly finding a new start while waiting for a escaped prisoner to get caught or come after them.


But Lanyon can't leave well enough alone and (s)he has to make a dig about police violence and young unarmed dead persons. Race isn't mentioned, but considering this novella is published in 2016, you have to be willfully blind and/or privileged not to see what (s)he's getting at. Sure, twelve thousand words in a romantic novella isn't going to solve police brutality and racism in America, but Lanyon didn't have to be as dismissive as this:


"'Are you serious? Do you really think the majority of cops approve of shooting unarmed civilians? Of shooting kids? Do you really think guys like me want to see a departmental cover-up?'


In the face of his quiet scorn, I felt a little ashamed. 'No. Of course not.'


'There are some bad actors. We all know it. And there are some guys and gals who would be better cops if they had better training. We all know that too. But most of the men and women I work with are out there cleaning up the human garbage the best they can with the tools they've been given—and putting their live on the line every single day to keep people like you safe to write the truth however you see fit.'"


And then the narrator muses how he was wrong but not completely, and how much he likes his police protector for being able to argue the subject dispassionately. And they agree it's a sore subject for the both of them.


Sore subject indeed.

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review 2014-10-11 10:00
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand

In ten words or less: It's a horrible, terrible book and you should read it.


Ayn Rand's 1168 page behemoth is listed under classics and fiction, though, I fail to understand how it fits under either genre. Atlas Shrugged is a poorly written, illogical propaganda manifesto without even a semblance of character, consistency or plot. Everything is orchestrated to serve Rand's absurd philosophy and to deify her main hero, John Galt, a Christ-like figure who was, in fact, based on a child murderer.


Not counting infodumps, and convenient telepathy when a third-person omniscient narrator could have been an option, Rand struggles with basic concepts of good story telling such as showing not telling, foreshadowing, and in-world consistency. More crucially, her basic reading comprehension is in question. For example, I don't think Rand had any idea what logic is.


Here a character is explaining why people won't believe Galt:


"'It seems to me,' said Chick Morison, his voice tentatively helpful, 'that people of nobler spiritual nature, you know what I mean, people of… of… well, of mystical insight'—he paused, as if waiting to be slapped, but no one moved, so he repeated firmly—'yes, of mystical insight, won't go for that speech. Logic isn't everything after all.'"


And here's an excerpt of a dinner conversation:


"'If you still want me to explain it, Mother,' he said very quietly, 'if you're still hoping that I won't be cruel enough to name what you're pretending not to know, then here's what's wrong with your idea of forgiveness: You regret that you've hurt me and, as your atonement for it, you ask that I offer myself to total immolation.' 'Logic!' she screamed. 'There you go again with your damn logic! It's pity that we need, pity, not logic!'"


Additionally, Rand doesn't seem to know how women work, despite having been one herself. None of her female characters—there's a handful—come across anything more than pawns and men's playthings. Even Dagny Taggart, the supposed heroine, is little more than a Mary Sue Magdalena to Galt's Jesus.


Certain prominent American politicians have inhaled her ideals hook, line, and sinker and want to live out Rand's libetarian utopia, but that doesn't mean the rest of us should. They can't make you. Except that they're politicians who set policy, so in a very tangible sense they are making you.Littered with post-its, my library copy of the book.


Atlas Shrugged is a prime example of why you shouldn't just go with the flow, and accept what people appearing smarter than you say. You should be fully aware of what you're co-signing by proclaiming the author as one of the great thinkers of recent history. You should read the detailed racism, misogyny, and misandry Rand and her followers preach. You should read, so you can suss out when someone is just repeating what they've heard—or worse—genuinely believes that empathy is the cancer of humanity.


So, yes. It's an actively offensive book, and you should read it.

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review 2014-09-20 18:14
Reading progress update: I've read 1168 out of 1168 pages.
Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand

I AM DONE. Finally. Not four months as I thought but almost three. Because of some things I was linked to—thing one, thing two—I am definitely writing a review. If I ever recover to write coherently again (HA!). 


Post-it count: 314 (I sort of lost my spirit towards the end and started letting things slide.)


Last note: "That's not how it works."


Other: While we wait for my review (*chinhands* whatever will it say, come on tell me!) we can still play the game where you give me a number between 3 and 1168, and I'll give you a quote or a post-it comment and a quote it refers to. Or a general description of that page. If you like.


Or you could click the links, read the articles, and we could discuss.

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review 2014-01-17 10:00
First Rule of Scoundrels: A Rogue By Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean
A Rogue by Any Other Name - Sarah MacLean

I was spoiled. I picked up this book because of the huge secret in the fourth Rule of Scoundrels book—don't look if you don't know already—and it'll probably keep me reading despite my disappointment with this book.


MacLean writes well enough to spin an entertaining tale. She does have a horrible smut vocabulary, although I have small hope that she was using characterisation appropriate word choices. I liked that the heroine, Penelope, was smart enough to usually figure out whatever Bourne was trying to hide and I liked that he never lied when directly confronted with a question, but that's about the extent of their characterisations I liked.


I'm not going to complain about her virginity at the age of twenty-eight (or maybe a

little) but I am going to complain about her constant vacillation between adoring her husband of convenience and being utterly disappointed in him. He too, went back and forth between being starstruck with her and wallowing in self-pity while simultaneously pushing her away. Instead of showing why these people should be together, the author mostly spent her time in description, focusing on the inarticulated pining and introspection for introspection's sake.


Neither character properly grew up on the page to believably accept each other as is, and they apparently fell in love in a single afternoon. There were some childhood letters littered between the chapters but they mostly distracted me from the actual story rather than affirmed the couple's childhood sweethearts status.


The pacing was a problem too. Having a genuine rogue as a protagonist helped to add two explicit sex scenes before the 50% mark and push this book over to the oversexed historicals category.

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