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Monthly Archives: September 2014

Kindness Goes Unpunished

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Kindness-Goes-Unpunished

 

 

Kindness Goes Unpunished by Craig Johnson is the third book in his Longmire series.  Walt accompanies Henry to Philadelphia, where Henry is giving a lecture Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.  Walt’s reason’s for going aren’t entirely to support Henry and keep him company, Walt’s daughter Cady lives there.  The first few pages will make anyone who has ever had to deal with children laugh out loud. Walt is trying to read a fairy tale to a room of children and it’s not going well, “My daddy hides his medicine whenever anybody knocks on our door…He says he doesn’t have a prescription…He smokes his medicine.” (p. 3) Shortly after Walt and Henry arrive in Philadelphia Cady is attacked and barely survives.

A good portion of this book is spent on Walt and Henry’s love for Cady. You can feel their raw pain and confusion about what to do. And though this is a vital part of the story and could have easily be dragged out to the point of losing its potency, Johnson doesn’t do that.

The setting of this series is as important as the people, Wyoming almost feels like another character. This book doesn’t take place in Wyoming though, it takes place in Philadelphia. I wasn’t sure if Johnson would be able to hold onto the magic if he moved Walt to a city. I don’t know why I was worried. Walt’s not some country bumpkin, he’s traveled the world but I still didn’t expect him to do as well as he did. Walt being in city doesn’t change him, he still wears his cowboy hat and boots, so he stands out a bit more than back home.

We also are introduced to Moretti’s family. It’s easy to see where she gets her no nonsense attitude.

Spoiler time: It comes out in the book that Cady is in an abusive relationship and while I hate that she is in one, I love the way Johnson wrote it. Cady is described as a strong, independent, intelligent, and well-loved woman.  Normally when we are introduced to a woman in an abusive relationship these women are the exact opposite of Cady, and are so desperate for love that they’ll take whatever they can get even if it leaves bruises. Those women are only one part of victims of domestic violence and women like Cady are often seen as too smart to “get themselves” into a situation like that but that’s not reality. All women from all walks of life are venerable to an abusive relationship. Johnson doesn’t condemn Cady for this though we and by default, Walt, are directed to take our anger for this out on her abuser (which is where it belongs.)

 

Trigger Warnings:

Animal Death

Abuse

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

No

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)

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Not a Drop to Drink

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not a drop to drink

 

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis is about a dystopian future where water has become worth killing for.  The beginning of the book introduces us to Lynn and her mother, Lauren.  People always ask why I love young adult fiction and this is why. We have a female protagonist in a dire situation and she can take care of herself.  Lynn never knew her father and it’s just been her and her mother defending their pond. The pond is a clean source of water and one of the only consistent ones in the area. Lynn’s family has owned the land for generations and she and her mother are determined to defend it at all costs.

The beginning of the book reminds me a lot of The Road by Cormac McCarthy but less bleak. Just like the two main characters in The Road Lynn and Lauren have gone from house to house to grab whatever goods they can use.  There’s not a lot of action going on and we are introduced to the world that has formed with water becoming scarce. Lynn learned to shoot as soon as she was big enough to hold a gun, she and her mother take turns sitting on the roof sniping anyone that gets too close. When they’re not sitting on the roof they’re gathering water or food to store for the winter. Luckily for Lynn her mother was a big fan of National Geographic and understands the basics of living off the grid.

Like most young adult novels there is a little bit of romance but thankfully not the creepy stalker kind. Lynn does meet at young man but he’s not verbally abusive or manipulative. It’s a sad statement of our media that I find it refreshing that when a girl meets a boy he doesn’t treat her like crap and she doesn’t become a different person for him. The romance in this book also has the traditional roles reversed, Lynn can hunt and defend herself but Eli grew up in the city and doesn’t know the first thing about how to survive.

This book poses the interesting question what would you do if one day no more water came out of your faucets.  Reading how hard Lynn and Lauren work just to survive makes me eternally grateful for our modern day conveniences.

 

Trigger Warnings:

Rape

Sexual Assault

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

Yes

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)

Death Without Company

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death without company

 

Death Without Company by Craig Johnson is the second book in the Longmire series.  This mystery starts when a local woman, Mari Baroja, dies at Durant Home for Assisted Living. This is also where Lucian, Walt’s mentor and former sheriff, lives. Lucian insists that Baroja’s death wasn’t the caused by old age and demands an investigation be opened. Walt, being the current sherif, is forced to figure out if Lucian is right or if Baroja died of natural causes. Walt is forced to unravel his mentor’s old secrets and those of Baroja, but don’t worry he still does it with his dry wit.

A nice addition to this story is Walt’s new dog, Dog. It’s a perfectly fitting name for Walt to give an animal; it fits better than Fido ever would. We were introduced to Dog in the first book, The Cold Dish¸ but Dog belonged to Vonnie Hayes. In the end of the last book after Vonnie committed suicide, Dog just shows up at Walt’s door and won’t leave.  They grieve for Vonnie together, in a way that no one else can.

The interplay between Walt and the other characters is what makes this series work.  A lone cop trying to solve a crime wouldn’t work in this world and thank god for that. Walt doesn’t get to pull stupid stunts and then we’re told how brave and wonderful he is.  When Walt does something stupid everyone that sees him tells how they feel about his recent antics. Henry, his best friend, and Moretti, one of his deputy’s, are fleshed out more but they keep their distinct voices.

If you have any problems with graphic abuse and sexual assault do not read this book. I repeat do not read this book. These acts are horrific and Johnson describes them in a way that makes you fully feel their weight.

I was nervous that the second book wouldn’t pull me in as strongly as the first one but I shouldn’t have.

Trigger Warnings:

Abuse

Sexual assault (graphic)

Rape (graphic)

Domestic Violence

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

No

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)

The Color of Magic

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the-colour-of-magic-2

              The Color of Magic by Terry Prachett is the first novel in a science fiction series about a far off world named Discworld. I’m pretty lucky because no one told me this book was going to be amazing so it had no hype to live up to. If you don’t like the idea of a flat world resting on the back of four elephants standing on the back of a giant turtle this is not the book for you. This isn’t one of those books where you can skim whole paragraphs because if you try that suddenly you’re in a completely different part of the world with no idea as to how you got there. Hell, sometimes if you don’t skim you still just end up somewhere with no idea as to why or how that happened. The book isn’t one whole story but more of a collection of four short stories. At times this does cause the book to feel jumpy and confusing.

I didn’t hate nor did I particularly like the main characters, Rincewind, a failed wizard, and Twoflower, a tourist. Twoflower bumbles around being excited by everything meanwhile, Rincewind follows him around trying to keep Twoflower from getting himself killed. My two favorite characters were Death and the Luggage. The Luggage is a magical chest that has the personality of a big, loyal, sloppy dog. If it ever gets separated from Twoflower, its master, it will run over anyone and anything in its path to get back to him, hilariousness ensues. Death randomly pops in and out to see if Rincewind is going to get out of whatever mess he’s in or if Death can finally take him. Whenever Rincewind does manage to survive Death is very put off and sulks, which an amusing image.

This book is funny, but it’s the kind of book that gets funnier the each time you read it. Knowing what I know now some of the jokes in the beginning are hilarious, but when I first read them weren’t even laugh out loud funny. This book series has a cult following and it’s easy to see why. Almost every review of this book I’ve read said that this is the weakest book in the series, so if this book doesn’t quite do it for you try another one before you completely give up on the Discworld universe.

 

Trigger Warnings:

No known triggers

happy pooh bear

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

Not even close. Unless I miscounted there are only a handful female characters in the entire book. They all have names but they never interact with one another. This book travels through  an entire world and we never have more than one female character in a scene at a time. That makes total sense…

yeah sure

 

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)

What Angels Fear

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what angels fear

What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris is a historical mystery sent in London in 1811. The main character Sebastian St. Cyr is accused of a brutal murder of a young actress. Our hero, knowing he is innocent flees arrest and attempts to solve the mystery himself.

The mystery was enough to keep me engaged. I was pretty sure I knew who the killer was fairly early but I wasn’t sure how all the pieces would fall together and if Sebastian would be able to clear his name. All of the characters were well rounded and thought out. This is the first book in the series and we are not privy to all of the characters secrets yet. Besides the main mystery there are little tidbits here and there hinting at future plot lines. None of these hints felt forced and were tantalizing enough that I want to continue the series.

If Sebastian were a lady everyone who reads this book would have call him a Mary Sue, but he’s not a lady.  Men can be obscenely perfect but the ladies can’t, if you think I’m wrong, apply the standards of a Mary Sue to Batman. Sebastian has super awesome hearing and eyesight, so awesome he can almost see in the dark. His hearing is so good that he can hear whispers in another room. I kept waiting to find out he was part demon or something but nope just a human with some super awesome senses.

pshhhhh

Sebastian is wounded emotionally from a bad breakup that caused him to sign up to fight France. When he returns he is more damaged than before. Sebastian is the tired hero that keeps insisting that he’s “no hero” and everyone just nodding their heads and smirking. To keep Sebastian in line he’s given a little helper in the form of a street child named Tom.  He surprises Sebastian more than once with his resourcefulness and perceptiveness. Tom is adorable and street smart, he definitely adds to the story.

Next time I’m in the mood for a historical mystery I’m going to have zero qualms about picking up the next book in this series.

Trigger Warnings:

  • Rape
  • Necrophilia
  • Animal abuse mention
  • Gore

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

No.

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)

When will there be a new review?

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My current plan is to post every Tuesday at the bare minimum but it will probably be more frequent than that. If I am ever late, I didn’t forget it’s most likely my cat, Pumpkin’s fault. You may think that sounds unfair and kind of a cop out  but you don’t know my cat. He’s pretty much a giant asshole, I love him but he’s an asshole. Look at this

my cat is an asshole

 

He’s just hanging out doing his cat thing on my laptop. Why don’t I just move him? Good question, depending on both of our moods there it could be one of several reasons

  1. He looks really happy
  2. He’s so proud that he’s purring loud enough that I can hear him in the next room
  3. He tries to bite me if I try to move him
  4. He bites and kicks me when I try to move him
  5. I have moved him off a dozen times and he just keeps climbing back on

 

 

Look Both Ways

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look both ways

 

        Look Both Ways by Jennifer Baumgardner is supposed to be about bisexual politics, however it is more of a chance for Baumgardner to pontificate and name drop. Baumgardner tries to create a cute nickname for bisexuals in this book; she frequently says that people “look both ways.” This continues long after readers have the point, and is almost like she hopes that by repeatedly saying it, that if you didn’t think it was a cute name before you’ll learn to love it. She mentions that in every day conversation we don’t say heterosexual and homosexual, then why do we say bisexual? Baumgardner states that this is an indication of unfinished political business. Granted, the few nicknames there are for bisexual are far from complementary, fence-sitter, waffle, heartbreaker, and disease vector. By people, I mean women because Baumgardner almost never mentions men and their sexuality. The only times she does mention men is to talk about how emotionally unavailable they are and how no relationship with a man will ever be as fulfilling as one with a woman. It always seems like a red-flag when anyone bunches a whole group of people together.  

        Baumgardner spends some time talking about the invisibility of being bisexual, if you’re with a member of the opposite sex you’re straight and with a member of the same sex you’re gay. She reminds the reader that sexuality is fluid and just because this concept is not the social norm now does not discredit it. A very cringe worthy, but valid part of the books is Baumgardner talking about her first relationship with a woman. She talks about how she had to come to terms with her own prejudices about same sex relationships. No one likes to admit that they’re prejudice about something, especially a part of themselves. Society teaches people prejudices, which first, they must become aware of before they can get rid of.

        Baumgardner has been going to college campuses since 2002 to speak about feminism and during this time and when the book was published (2007) saw an increase in LGBT acceptance there. She states that this increase of LGBT acceptance and the increase of people identifying as LGBT have caused women to have “gay expectations” in heterosexual relationships, which is “sexual fulfillment, emotional fulfillment and intellectual satisfaction.” Once again she forgoes mentioning men and their changing views on sexuality and their roles in society.

        This book is more of a memoir than a discussion of bisexual politics. There are times when Baumgardner seemed to bring up people in the book, only to be able to say she met them, interviewed them, or slept with them. For most of the book Baumgardner comes off as either smug or self-congratulatory, neither one makes for an enjoyable reading experience. This book would be wonderful for someone’s first foray into reading about feminism or bisexual politics but people familiar with either topic will probably find this book rudimentary.

Trigger Warnings:

No known

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

N/A

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)