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Hope Arden is one character you won’t soon forget.
(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for suicide, rape, and general violence.)
And at Edinburgh Waverley, I bought a notebook from the stationery shop, and a bag of pens, and as the engine blared its victory over inertia and the train began to crawl south, back to England, back to the warm, back to Derby and my sister who waited, I began to write.
I wrote of the past.
Of the things that had brought me here.
Of being forgotten, and being remembered.
Of diamonds in Dubai, fires in Istanbul. Of walks through Tokyo, the mountains of Korea, the islands of the southern seas. Of America and the greyhound bus, of Filipa and Parker, Gauguin and Byron14.
I wrote, to make my memory true.
The past, living.
Here, in these words.
I wrote to make myself real.
— 4.5 stars —
When she was sixteen years old, Hope Arden began to disappear – from peoples’ memories.
It started small: teachers would forget to pester Hope for her homework; friends stopped saving her a seat in the cafeteria. One day, she came home only to find her mother clearing out her room, bagging up her belongings to donate to a charity shop; for a second, she forgot that Hope still lived with them.
Eventually people ceased to remember Hope altogether: a minute or two after turning away, she’d slip from their minds like a shadow. Details of their seconds-old interaction with her would linger, but the girl at the center of the memory was nowhere to be found. Hope’s parents held out the longest, but one day even they forget their oldest daughter. You could say that Hope ran away from home that day, but is it still home if you’re a perpetual stranger?
Being unmemorable is more challenging than you might think. Reliable health care, housing, gainful employment, continuing education – all of it was beyond Hope’s reach. And so she did the only thing she could with this new ability-slash-curse: become the best damn thief she could. Like her anonymity, Hope’s career as a criminal started small: shoplifting led to pick pocketing led to elaborate jewel heists that required months of planning. If she wasn’t always a consummate professional, at least she could fall back on her forgettable-ness. The few times she was arrested, all Hope had to do was wait for someone to leave her in a room, alone…and forget all about her.
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An Egyptian Werewolf in Oxford
(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for sexual harassment/assault and allusions to rape.)
I understand now all the fairy tales, those that talk of the dangers of the deep forest, and the beasts that lurk there. All those fears were true. I know them now. I am in the middle of one such story, and all I want is out of it.
— 3.5 stars —
It’s 1929, and another year is drawing to a close in Oxford. Eleven-year-old (almost twelve!) Anna Francis hates it, all of it: the cold, dreary weather. The short days and unforgiving nights. The drafty house and her empty belly. Her father’s sadness, so often drowned in a bottle of Scotch. The isolation and loneliness and profound sense of alienation.
Anna and her father are refugees; the last surviving members of the Sphrantzes clan. Once they lived in Smyrna, a Turkish city on the Aegean Sea, like their ancestors before them. But the end of the Great War gave birth to the Greco-Turkish War – after which most of the Christians remaining in Smyrna were forced to leave. When their community was sacked, Anna and Georgio wound up on a ship bound for England. Anna’s mother wasn’t as lucky; along with many pretty young girls and women, she was kidnapped by Turkish forces. Nor do they know the fate of Nikos, Anna’s older brother and a member of the army deployed to fight the Turkish forces. Her trusty doll Penelope – named after Odysseos’s wife, Pie for short – is all she has left of him.
Though Anna and Georgio live in a ginormous house, just the two of them, Anna has trouble finding time for herself. During the day, she’s hounded by the strict Miss Hawcross and her menacing ruler; and at night, her father frequently hosts Committee meetings, such that her house is teeming with strangers. So she sneaks out to roam the streets of Oxford, and explores the upper floors of the house, long since closed off and forbidden to her, in search of adventure. This is how she meets the strange boy, with dark hair and skin like hers: but eyes that glow in a way that no human’s should.
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Book Review: What We Talk About When We Talk About Clone Club: Bioethics and Philosophy in Orphan Black, Gregory E. Pence (2016)May 20th, 2016 7:00 am by Kelly Garbato
A fascinating look at the science behind Orphan Black.
(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley.)
Bioethics is one of today’s most exciting new fields. Orphan Black is one of the most exciting shows on television. Bioethics explores ethical issues in medicine and science. Orphan Black dramatizes ethical issues in medicine and science. What could be more appropriate than a marriage of the two?
Even casual fans of BBC America’s hit television show Orphan Black have no doubt wondered about the science that drives the plot: How much does the show get right, and where does reality diverge from the fictional world of our favorite sestra orphans? What are the moral and legal implications of cloning? Is it possible to own a person – or a piece of one, in the form of DNA patenting? If the Ledas (and Castors) share the same basic building blocks of life, how could they look, behave, and think so differently? What (if anything) does the creators’ choice to write Cosima as a lesbian, and Tony as a trans man, say about the idea that gender identity and sexual orientations are “lifestyle choices”? (Spoiler alert: it’s not what you think.) How does cloning fit into the history of eugenics, and how does the show acknowledge this connection? WTF is the Castors’ malfunction?
Well, wonder no more. Bioethicist and fellow Clone Club member Gregory E. Pence has got us covered. In What We Talk About When We Talk About Clone Club: Bioethics and Philosophy in Orphan Black, he examines the science and ethics of the show, giving us a greater understanding of both genetics and bioethics – and our favorite science fiction drama.
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That escalated quickly.
(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley.)
Sammy would blow up entire planets just to get the pink jellybean instead of the white one. God love her, but she may as well have been Darth Vader.
This is the story of three-year-old Samantha – Sammy for short – who just wants to make a beautiful, sparkly rainbow. At three in the morning. On the bathroom floor, using mom’s birth control pills and body lotion as her medium.
Sammy kicks off her morning of mayhem by throwing mom’s cell in the toilet and peeing on it and, while mom is preoccupied scrubbing the bathroom clean, Sam sneaks out and –
– nope, spoilers! Suffice it to say that things escalate quickly (and probably in a way that keeps parents awake at night). It’s rare that a book makes me LOL, but this particular scene did just that.
Three-Year-Olds Are A**holes is a silly picture book for adults that would make a most excellent gift for parents – expecting, new, old, doesn’t matter. I had the pleasure of reviewing this on NetGalley and was surprised to find a “send to Kindle” option in addition to the expected “download a protected pdf file,” which is the norm for books that are heavy on graphic elements (picture books, graphic novels, photography books). Not only is it easily readable on a Kindle, but I think it actually looks better: the grayscale coloring minimizes some of the harsh, contrasting colors of the artwork.
I suppose that some people will object outright to the title of the book (children are precious!), and I get it. But calling kids a-holes is both a term of endearment and a way of blowing off steam; acknowledging that parenting is a hard and frustrating and often thankless job. Sometimes you’ll get overwhelmed or annoyed, and that’s okay!
I do the same with my rescue dogs – who, while not exactly like kids, are family members just the same. They are (affectionately) my assholes and shitbags and little monsters. Whether it’s Mags, nipping my hand as I lift her onto the couch (at her request!), or Rennie, plopping her fat ass down on the bed as I try to make it, they can sometimes be awful (though not always intentionally so), and usually I just love them all the more for it.
My thirteen-year-old asshole Mags, who always turns the other cheek when I try to take her picture. I thought teens these days lived for selfies, no?
Pairs well with: Go the Fuck to Sleep; You Have to Fucking Eat.
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Joe Hill strikes again!
(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through Edelweiss. Trigger warning for racist/sexist language, violence, and sexual assault.)
It was them making the light. They were all of them tattooed with loops and whorls of Dragonscale, which glowed like fluorescent paint under a black light, hallucinatory hues of cherry wine and blowtorch blue. When they opened their mouths to sing, Harper glimpsed light painting the insides of their throats, as if each of them were a kettle filled with embers. […]
Harper felt she had never seen anything so frightening or beautiful.
“You know what the kids say.”
“I have no idea what the kids say. What do they say?”
“She came back from the eighties to save mankind. Martha Quinn is our only hope.”
The hens are clucking. Harper thought it would be a toss-up, which term for women she hated more: bitch or hen. A hen was something you kept in a cage, and her sole worth was in her eggs. A bitch, at least, had teeth.
The year is 2018-ish (if Martha Quinn’s approximate age is a reliable guidepost), and the world is on fire. A fungus called Draco incendia trychophyton – Dragonscale in lay terms, ‘scale for short – is making the rounds, leaving ashes and chaos in its wake. Once it finds a host, the spore spreads and propagates, infiltrating its victim’s blood, tissue, and organs – including the brain, with which it forms an intimate bond. The first sign of infection is the strangely beautiful markings it leaves on its host’s skin – dark tattoos that shimmer with flecks of gold.
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Breath In. F*cks Out.
(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Blogging for Books.)
— 3.5 stars —
In the vein of such classics as Go the Fuck to Sleep and You Have to Fucking Eat, F*ck That: An Honest Meditation is a humorous little picture book for adults – just, say, yogis or members of the self-help set vs. parents. Or, let’s be honest: anyone who’s ever spent time on the internet, because two minutes online will most certainly make you want to choke a motherfucker.
Headley juxtaposes profanity-laden meditations with lovely nature photography to create a beautiful and surprisingly soothing picture book.
It’s cute and silly and good for a few giggles…and maybe also handy to keep on hand for those days when the world seems to be conspiring against you and you just can’t even with this shit anymore. I suspect it’d make a nice gag gift or stocking stuffer for both the cynics and New Age types in your life, which isn’t a demographic that overlaps very often, I don’t think.
That said, Headley’s meditations get a little flowery at times (e.g., “Free of calamity created by every last ranch hand at the fuckup farm.”). While I give him mucho points for creativity in cursing, I would’ve rather seen him stick with simpler, more familiar phrases; ones that more easily slip off the tongue. Ones that could become mantras, easily repeated in times of stress. Or maybe I’m just overthinking things?
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