Review: Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30268522-why-not-me&#8221; style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img border=”0″ alt=”Why Not Me?” src=”https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1473956249m/30268522.jpg&#8221; /></a><a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30268522-why-not-me”>Why Not Me?</a> by <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/194416.Mindy_Kaling”>Mindy Kaling</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1971846458″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
I’m going to start this review in a similar strain to the beginning of my <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10335308.Is_Everyone_Hanging_Out_Without_Me___And_Other_Concerns_&#8221; title=”Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling” rel=”nofollow”>Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?</a> review: I love Mindy Kaling. She speaks to my heart. She’s funny, she’s smart, she’s someone that people can really admire. She’s not afraid to put herself out there, from working on <i>The Office</i> to creating and producing her own show to going out and doing photo shoots. As someone who is afraid of being photographed, I always admire people who can do it for a living. There is a reason why when I get a book published my photo is going to be the anonymous face from Facebook. <br /><br />Mindy’s like the big sister to my big sister. You know the one that you always secretly wish was closer to you but instead exists in a completely different social sphere? Like she’s in high school and you’re still in elementary school? Or you’re just a nobody from Pittsburgh and she’s a famous actress in LA? In my review of her last book, I made the offer that if she ever came to Pittsburgh, we should totally hang out. That offer still stands. I don’t know where all the cool kids hang out, but that’s what Google is for anyway. I’m sure Siri will find us something entertaining to do. <br /><br />While I loved <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10335308.Is_Everyone_Hanging_Out_Without_Me___And_Other_Concerns_&#8221; title=”Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling” rel=”nofollow”>Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?</a>, <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30268522.Why_Not_Me_&#8221; title=”Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling” rel=”nofollow”>Why Not Me?</a> is an improvement. While the last book had complaints about a lack of a unifying theme, the theme to this book lies in the title. Why not me? It’s a question that we should all ask ourselves at some point during our lives, as this self reflection can lead to great things. As she points out in the last chapter, women are expected not to have confidence. I have confidence issues, but Mindy has given me advice on how to be the greatest person I can be. This book has been almost as helpful for my self-esteem as <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2898360.Darren_Hardy&#8221; title=”Darren Hardy” rel=”nofollow”>Darren Hardy</a>’s daily mentoring. I don’t want to spoil it for you, because you really need to read the full book to really experience the lesson. There are a number of great parts in here that point to living a more confident life. From looking like a movie star, to handling social rejection, to love that never quite lives up to an active imagination, Mindy teaches us by example how to handle everything with grace and style.<br /><br />A perfect blend of wit and good advice, Mindy Kaling’s <i>Why Not Me?</i> is a perfect addition to any collection. <br /><br />You can check out my review of Mindy Kaling’s freshman book <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/372627471&#8243; rel=”nofollow”>here</a>.
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Review: Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb

Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders, #1)Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book 4 of my reread of Robin Hobb’s books before Assassin’s Fate comes out. I’m not doing as well on this personal challenge as I had hoped, considering I still have quite a few left to read. Ship of Magic was one of the ones that I had read previously, even if it had been a long time ago. Ship of Magic taught me more about sex then my sex ed class ever did. My book horizons have expanded since then. It was good to get caught up on this again, especially since the next one promises closure to the stories of Vivacia and Paragon.

Setting/Worldbuilding: 9/10

There are a lot of scenes that take place on some sort of ship, which is good, because when we are on the ship, I actually feel like I’m there. Unfortunately, when they get to port, I don’t really get much of a feeling for where they are at all. Perhaps it’s a device to help express the life of a sailor, because there is not much to distinguish one port from the next, but after detailed descriptions of the Six Duchies, I was expecting a little more.

On the other hand, while the physical setting is not as detailed as I would like it to be, the world building is phenomenal. There’s enough to keep you wondering about what exactly the Rain Wild Traders and the Bingtown Traders are hiding from the rest of the world, but enough to let you know exactly where all the characters stand in relation to each othe. I find it amusing that Bingtown finds the Six Duchies to be barbarians and backwards when from a modern standpoint, in relation to the women, we would find the Six Duchies to be much more progressive.

Plot/Pacing: 8/10

Like many fantasy novels, the plot sort of meanders along, following different threads til they suddenly come together shortly before the end. But, because we have so many different characters, and because Robin Hobb excels at characterization, the long stretches of character development and worldbuilding are not only bearable, they are actually entertaining. Not all fantasy novels manage to take that slow pace without the risk of losing interest, but Robin Hobb manages quite well.

Characters: 10/10

Robin Hobb excels at characterization, and this is the first book in The Realm of the Elderlings that highlights that fact. Instead of focusing on a singular protagonist like in the Farseer Trilogy, she expands to an assortment of POV characters. Not only does this keep the action sharp by following around different characters in parts that could have dragged the story down, it also allows her to show off her characterization skills.

The female characters are the real highlight. From Althea to Etta to Malta to Ronica each one of them is unique and serves the plot directly rather than simply being a plot device like so many other narratives. Despite the views of the society they live in, none of the plot would be happening if it were not for the female characters.

Althea: I believe Althea is supposed to be considered the main protagonist, even though this is an ensemble piece, considering that she is featured on my hardback cover. I like that she grows throughout the series, that she starts thinking that everything is owed to her and then she realizes that she actually has to earn it. My heart did break for her when Ophelia said the liveships would have sided with her against Kyle if she would have gone to them in the beginning, especially considering Vivacia’s fate.

Malta: I’m having a hard time reconciling the headstrong and ignorant Malta from this book from the one I grew to know first in the Rain Wild Chronicles. I’m looking forward to seeing how she develops over the next two books.

Etta: I love her. I love that she so easily takes over the ship once Kennit takes her on board, and that she doesn’t appear to be afraid of anything. The only thing I don’t like about her is that she’s getting jealous of the ship. It’s just a ship, girl. Relax. Your boyfriend is not quite as amazing as you think he is anyway, and you’re probably just better off taking over your own pirate ship.

Wintrow: If you want to talk about a broken heart, though, just think about poor Wintrow. Poor boy, just wants to live his life and his father just shoves him into another position. Just another example of how the patriarchy hurts more than just women.

Kyle: Hey, Kyle, did you perhaps ever mentor a young boy named Hest? Does the timeline work out for this? Because I feel that they went to the same school of douchery, or are related, or Kyle mentored him or something because Hest definitely feels like a Kyle Haven 2.0.

Brashen: Love interest? I don’t know. I have a vague feeling that I liked him more in the second book.

Kennit: I love Kennit, mostly because he’s such a well written villain. He keeps thinking that he has all these evil plots, but every time it “backfires” and makes him look like a hero. That fact that he keeps getting confused by it makes the whole situation better.

Overview: 10/10

It’s been fun rereading The Realm of the Elderlings from the beginning again. I know how a few things turn out, but it’s been interesting to see what I remember (not much) and to see what I’ve forgotten. As it turns out, I’ve forgotten most of this trilogy and given that it seems to be coming back, it’s probably good that I’m doing my reread now. It also reminded me that Robin Hobb seems to be very fond of the (view spoiler)

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Royal Assassin Chapter 1 Siltbay Review

royal-assassin

The continuing adventures of Wolfboy and the Cinnamon Roll.

Speaking of dreaming, in the first official chapter, Wolfboy is dreaming that he’s King Spider.  King Spider, who actually is getting old, and actually has real complaints but still worries about his people more than his own health.  He also gets a glimpse into the King’s magic, and is forced to watch a raid on one of his shores.  Unfortunately for Wolfboy, it turns out Princess Unattainabelle is in that village while it’s being raided, and he sees her clearly in the wreckage.  The vision ends before he can see whether or not she is alive.

Having decided that perhaps his current predicament is not so bad as being old, Wolfboy decides to return to the castle with the Cinnamon Roll, desperate to learn the true fate of Princess Unattainabelle.

Royal Assassin – Prologue Review

royal-assassin

The continuing adventures of Wolfboy and the Cinnamon Roll.

We start out a few months after Prince Jackass attempted to murder Wolfboy and Cinnamon Roll and successfully murdered a few other people, all while trying to block his brother’s wedding to the Viking Queen in an effort to be King in Waiting himself.  Wolfboy and Cinnamon Roll are still recovering in the mountain kingdom, and Wolfboy is having a hard time of it.  He’s going through an existential crisis thinking nothing he can do nothing because he is a cripple now and that Prince Jackass has already won.   The Cinnamon Roll remains a cinnamon roll, but there is nothing he can do for Wolfboy.  Wolfboy insists that if he wants to continue to serve him, the only way he can do so is to go back to Buckkeep without him.

I have a feeling Wolfboy is dreaming if he thinks for a second that Cinnamon Roll is going to leave him behind.

50 Shades of Bad Romances

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A few weeks ago, I was directed to a link showing an infograph of some of the most common grammatical errors in 50 Shades of Grey and comparing them to other romance lines in other famous novels.  Included on that list was works such as The Notebook, Pride and Prejudice, and about seven other works I don’t think I had heard of before reading this infograph.  While the information in itself was entertaining, all it did in my mind was solidify the connection between 50 Shades of Grey and Pride and Prejudice as examples of the worst that the romance genre has to offer.

Do not let the five copies of Pride and Prejudice sitting on my bookshelf fool you.  I despise the novel and pretty much everything about it.  Two of those editions were from college, and I have a hard time getting rid of books, even when it is books I hated.  I can’t in good conscience sell them to the book store when they contain all my disparaging notes, nor am I happy with the notion of destroying them.  Another edition is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  Don’t let the internet fool you.  It’s not that good.  The other two are an erotic version that turns the original into one giant orgy and a gay fan-fiction respectively.  They’re also the only two out of the five that I enjoy.   Before you start to think I’m just going to deride these two particular books for the next five hundred words, let me be clear.  It’s not really the books that give rise to these loathsome feelings.  It’s the genre they represent.  A genre that is overwhelmingly popular and does real women little credit.

The Power Play

The grounds for my distaste in  the romance genre and romance plots are rooted in the fact that almost every romance revolves around a powerplay.  In most cases, the heroine is somehow indebted to the hero for at least a portion of the work.  For our purposes, we’re going to use the term “heroine” to apply to the protagonist and the term “hero” to apply to the romantic lead.  These problems can also appear in gay and lesbian romances.  As much as I love Sedric and Carson from The Rain Wild Chronicles, I will never forget or forgive that they initially hooked up because Carson prevented Sedric from suicide.  Granted, after that it was one of the most balanced gay relationships to ever grace the pages of fantasy fiction, but it doesn’t change the fact that it started out awkwardly.  I mean, at one point Sedric got to go out and do badass things while Carson got to stay at home and brood.  Honestly, check out The Rain Wild Chronicles right now.  So even though it got better, the way it started out left a bad taste in my mouth.

In most of the older romances, the hero usually has far more wealth than the heroine does.  In some cases, this leads to an event in which the hero more or less attempts or succeeds to buy the heroine’s love.  For instance, in Jane Eyre, she is originally hired to be Mr. Rochester’s governess, which puts him in a position of power over her from the time that they met.  In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy buys a marriage for Lydia so that Elizabeth and her family don’t have to suffer the shame.  In 50 Shades of Grey, Christian replaces Ana’s car with a much more expensive model, complete with GPS tracking so that he knows where she is at any given time.

Still, at some point in the history of the romance genre, barring 50 Shades of Grey, women said enough.  They were tired of having the heroine financially being dependent on the hero.  They wanted a self-sufficient heroine who didn’t need the hero to buy next meal.  The genre took a step forward and started creating heroines with careers.  Heroines who didn’t actually need the hero in their life in order to find financial completion.  Except, that can’t be right.  The heroine needs the hero or else the whole romance falls apart.   This led to a development even worse than the financial power play.

The Rape Intervention

You’ve read this romance arc.  We’ve all read this romance arc.  I have repeatedly complained about this romance arc and yet it continues to happen.  The plot somehow involves the heroine nearly being raped by some bad person, only to have the hero come in and save the day before any harm can befall the heroine.  This can happen at any point in the development of the relationship.  I’ve seen it happen when they first meet, and I’ve seen it happen during the climax of the book.  It doesn’t matter when it happens, it’s still crap.  There’s a number of problems with this.  The first is that it reduces rape to to a plot device.  The second is that it still makes the heroine indebted to the hero, only this time in a sexual manner.  If I had a nickel for every time the heroine threw themselves at the hero for saving them from rape, I’d be an incredibly rich woman.

The worst instance I’ve seen of this rape intervention problem occurred in a novel my friend let me borrow.  The heroine was unconscious.  One of the hero’s friends wanted to rape her.  He refused to allow it to happen, not because rape is wrong, but because they didn’t have time for it.  The man the heroine is supposed to fall in love with doesn’t think rape is wrong if there’s time for it.  I can’t eagerly anticipate her falling in love with him.  I’m eagerly anticipating him to fall off the edge of the nearest cliff.  Needless to say, I didn’t finish reading the book, and I am now questioning my friend’s taste in literature.

What Can Save Romance

Not all hope is lost for the romance genre or romance plots in general.  What we need more of is couples that are balanced.  Couples that don’t have a weird power play going on.  Couples that are in happy, stable relationships between equals.  And less rape. Far less rape.

What we really need more of is relationships like Monica and Chandler from Friends.  Yes, there were ups and downs, but for the most part, the show treated them like equals.  They were both from the wealthier branch of the gang.  They both had abusive childhoods.  When it came time for the show to throw the infertility plot at them, they were both revealed to have low fertility.  The show could have just as easily pinned the blame on one of them and throw in a power play, but they decided not to.

Not that Friends was perfect on the relationship front.  They had plenty of mishaps along the way as well, which is unsurprising given the length of the show and the comedy aspect.

If anyone has examples of romances or romance arcs that focus on a couple of equals, please send them my way.  I would love to see them.

The infograph for your perusal, thanks to grammarly.com/grammar-check

Halloween Horror Game Countdown – Game 4

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This week’s horror game countdown takes us back to the Playstation 2 in 2005, when Capcom came out with a Clock Tower spin-off called Haunting Ground.

Week 4: Haunting Ground

The game follows the terrorizing of Fiona, a young woman who loses both her parents in a car crash in the events preceding the game.   She wakes up in a large castle you, as the player, must try to escape.  Shortly after Fiona awakes, she finds a large white Shepard named Hewie trapped in the castle with her.  Hewie can help Fiona find objects and fend off her attackers for a short period of time.   Hewie’s relationship with Fiona develops on how you treat him, whether you praise or scold him for his behavior.  Scolding results in Hewie not aiding you in critical moments, and which ending you get depends on what type of relationship you had with Hewie.

Fiona_Hewie The game’s scare factor comes from the Fiona’s objectification.  One boss wants to use her as a doll, one wants to impregnate her, and one hates her simply for the fact that she is a fertile young woman.  To a certain extent, women will be able to identify with Fiona a lot more easily than male players.  As Fiona has no means of fighting back, most of the gameplay revolves around hiding in new locations to keep the game’s four major bosses from finding you.  However, even some of the hiding places can be used against you, and if you hide in the same place too many times, enemies will be able to find you.

Haunting Ground is a PS2 classic that belongs in any horror gamer’s collection and has the best and most realistic use of a canine companion in horror games.

Review : Intriques

Intrigues
Intrigues by Mercedes Lackey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I read Foundation, I was excited to reenter the world of Valdemar. Companions, Heralds, yes even Bards were calling to me. I dug out my old Mercedes Lackey CD so I could import some of the songs into my iPod. The second book did not invoke the same feelings.

First books usually don’t get very far in the plot because they spend so much time setting up the rest of the series. I’m used to that, so the first book gets a pass in that department. When the second book doesn’t get very far in the plot department because it’s too busy setting up later books, then we have a problem. Nothing really happens in this book to make the overall plot move forward. I blame most of it on the Kirball.

I don’t know where this trend started. Possibly with Harry Potter. Intriques had to design a game for the characters to play. A difficult and dangerous game that we had to learn the rules of. One that was so dangerous that it conveniently puts one of the major characters out of action for the final climax.

Intriques was not a bad book, but it’s not going to rank among the most memorable of the Valdemar novels either.

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