Books from the Backlog [5]: Vox by Christina Dalcher

Vox by Christina Dalcher

Published: August 21st, 2018 | Source: Simon & Schuster for review

Set in an America where half the population has been silenced, VOX is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed to speak more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial—this can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

This is just the beginning.

Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.

But this is not the end.

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.

I was so excited to receive this package from Simon & Schuster Canada. When I read the blurb, I was already pumped to read it. This book came at a perfect time when women are finding the voice to speak out against inequalities and injustices rooted in sexual abuse. But for some reason, I set it aside as the writing was not jiving well with me. I really want to read it, though. So today, I thought I’d feature it here to serve as a reminder.

So this is set in a world where women’s spoken words are counted. But that was just the beginning. It’s been heralded (and chided) as a The Handmaid’s Tale copycat. That alone makes this novel so interesting to read.

Books from the Backlog is a weekly feature from Carole’s Random Life in Books.
It’s a fun way to feature some of those neglected books sitting on your bookshelf unread. 

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Throwback Thursday [15]: The Infinity Gauntlet

I’m not a comics enthusiast by any stretch of imagination, but I’m a graphic novel reader. Over the last few years, however, I’ve followed the Marvel Comics Universe with great passion. I started off as a Thor fan, but since being introduced to other cast, I really can’t pick a favourite. I suppose I love them all.

In April, Avengers fans were treated to the last movie of the franchise, Endgame. It was a phenomenal hit; hordes of fans witnessed the end of an era. Ever since its release, I’ve watched and re-watched the movies almost religiously. As in, there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t watch a Marvel movie.

I’ve always known my husband was a collector back in the day. What I didn’t realize was that he owns a treasure trove of nerdgasmic proportion. One Saturday night, the kids and I decided to raid his stash and found The Infinity Gauntlet – which for us, is the holy grail of Marvel Universe. I could talk about what the series is about but this post would be too long.

So today, I thought I’d share with you this first edition, six-issue limited series that was first published in 1991. I wish I can tell you that it holds some financial value, but let me tell you that it does not. For me, it’s the shared love we all have for the characters and the story line. Many a dinner discussion has been about the movies and finding plot holes and inexpiable occurrences that needed explanation. I suppose the time my family spent together talking about the movies is priceless enough. We looked forward to each movie release. For the first time in a long time, we can actually agree on which movies to watch.

How about you? Does your family share a similar passion for something?

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Books from the Backlog [4]

Books from the Backlog is a feature from Carole’s Random Life in Books. It’s a way to feature some books that you’ve long neglected in the hopes that you’ll finally, finally have the inkling to read them.

This week, I’m featuring books that I’ve bought back in 2013. I know that’s when I bought them because that was the date when I took the picture. Ha.

Back in the days when I have money to burn for books, I buy random releases that I see in the blogosphere. And I think this is the case in this instance. I still haven’t read Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein so I’m not even sure why I bought Rose Under Fire. Though, come to think of it, it’s probably because I have FOMO on the sequel.

Bodyguard by Chris Bradford is a series from a UK author. I have no idea how I found it but Goodreads has a pretty good rating on it. I can never turn down a book about boy spies so really have no clue why I haven’t picked this up. I might just try to read it this weekend.

Projection by Risa Green confuses me, to be honest. But with the confusion comes curiosity. Some of the reviews I’ve read on Goodreads speaks of soul swapping through a kiss. Sounds kind of intriguing but there’s a whole, popular girls vs. school reject kind of vibe that I’m not really into. So, we shall see.

Anyway this is my Throwback Thursday post today. I’m linking this to Carole’s blog but check out today’s posts from other bloggers as well!

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Throwback Thursday [13]: My First Instagram Post


On October 6, 2010, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launched Instagram. In two years’ time, it went from having 13 people on its payroll to having 500 million users. Crazy.

I decided to check out what my very first Instagram post was. On July 27, 2011, I posted this picture.  It doesn’t have hashtags, nor even a caption. To this day, it has zero likes and zero comments. It only makes sense that my very first post would be about books.

Have I read any of these books, you ask? Well, let’s see:

There are 17 books in this picture. Out of those 17 books, I’ve only read 5 (Afterbirth by Sophie Littlefield, Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer, Supernaturally by Kiersten White, Pearl by Jo Knowles, and Dead Rules by Randy Russell). I think it’s time to cull the shelves because I’m pretty sure I still have these books. #bookhoarderproblems.

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Books from the Backlog [3]: For Darkness Shows The Stars

*Books from the Backlog is a regular feature over at Carole’s Random Life in Books.

This week, I’m featuring a book that came out in 2012. I knew I wanted to read it because it was marketed as a YA SciFi version of Jane Austen’s Persuasion – which is my absolute Jane Austen favourite. Captain Wentworth is infinitely hotter than Darcy, in my opinion. I have no idea why I never read this book but I’m so glad I saw it while scouring my basement bookshelves.

From Goodreads:

It’s been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth–an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret–one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Starsis a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

Have you read this?

 

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Books From the Backlog [2]:Precious Stone Trilogy


Today’s books from the forgotten pile is a trilogy of German origin about time travel and romance. It has a pretty good rating average on Goodreads (and I usually have a good luck if I based my choices on their rating), so I don’t know why I didn’t pick it up when I bought the first book in 2011.

I have all three but I can’t find the third book for pictures. If you see the mess that is my shelves downstairs, you’d understand.

Have you read them?

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Throwback Thursday [11]: Persuasion by Jane Austen

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Penguin Classics | 2011 Edition | Hardcover, 249 pages | Adult Fiction | Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


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Image is not mine.

I promised myself when I decided to post reviews of classic and quasi-classic literature that Jane Austen is one author that I would not touch. However, I thought that this book, being my more favoured of her work over Pride and Prejudice, at least warrants an attempt on my part.

It is a well-known fact that if you love romance novels, chances are, you’ve more than likely to have read at least one of her books. While Pride and Prejudice is a crowd favourite, Persuasion is mine. Admittedly, there was a time when I thought no one could ever be more dashing than Darcy. That is, until I met Captain Frederick Wentworth.

I was already a fan of Wentworth before I saw the BBC series. When I learned that Rupert Penry-Jones was playing his part, I didn’t dally and ordered the series from Amazon right away.

Forever, squandered.

Anne never did get over the heartbreak of her broken engagement to Frederick Wentworth when she was 19. Years later, Captain Frederick Wentworth, a decorated service man, is back in her life…sort of.

Anne’s family is in the cusp of financial ruin. With a vain father, and an equally narcissistic sister, she’s left with no choice but to save what’s left of her family’s legacy. News of the identity of their new tenant, however, brought nothing but a familiar heartache. He’s never forgiven Anne for breaking off their engagement, and now, it seems that he’s determined to hurt her by flaunting his affections towards another woman. Will he ever give Anne another chance? Or is it entirely too late for what was once their chance at forever?

Anne Eliott is no Lizzie Bennett.

If you’ve ever yielded to anyone’s prodding that have made quite an impact in your life for years, then you’ll speak Anne’s language. If you’ve ever sacrificed your heart’s wiles for the sake of your family, then Anne is more like your girl than Lizzie Bennett ever will be. Anne is worlds away from Lizzie, disposition wise. She’s very timid, and would not be too quick to offer her opinions on matters. More importantly though, she’s very selfless, while Lizzie Bennett would argue with you until you’re too tired to argue any longer. If she did not succumb to her mother’s dramatics for the sake of saving the family’s almost non-existent fortune, there was no chance in hell that she’d have heeded to family’s pressure to give up the man she loves. Anne Eliott did just that.

Darcy, he is not.

I can’t not talk about Capt. Wentworth. He’s a very contained fellow until the very end. He has the same mannerisms as Darcy, except unlike Darcy, he doesn’t look down on those beneath him. Mind you, Wentworth was not as rich or privileged because he didn’t have the same lineage as Darcy. In the end, Wentworth did to Anne what Darcy did to Lizzie: he gave her the world. So I suppose they’re similar in that way.

Persuasion has a more sombre tone than P & P. Though it didn’t lack for ridiculous caricatures of characters, it focuses more on the issue of what a person would be willing to do for those they love regardless of how seemingly unworthy they may be. You may be inclined to blame Anne for her unhappiness, but you can’t fault her for doing what she did.

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Throwback Thursday [#10]: The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Chatham River Press | Hardcover, 192 pages | 1989 | Adult Fiction | Science Fiction | Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Back in 2012, I decided to do something about the glaring shortage of classics on my shelves. I own several of them, but I’ve never really read most of them. They’ve always been a terrifying undertaking, and I’m always worried that I’ll come off sounding a little pretentious. So I started picking classics that I thought would be relatively easy to read. I must admit that this H.G. Wells collection is a little way over my head, since his genre is something that I don’t normally seek out. However, there are six short stories to choose from; most of which are relatively known. So I chose the one that I know a bit about.

The War of the Worlds is a short novel that I thought would be a fun one to read since I’ve seen the movie years ago. I actually dragged my husband to see it, even though neither of us are a fan of Tom Cruise. We despise the poor sod, to be honest. I knew that the movie will be worlds different from the Victorian novel, which, to be honest is its major draw.

It was interesting to see how different things were at the time. For one, there were no phones or internet to spread the news of the world’s impending doom. All you have are people clamouring to save their own hides as they flee London. News of the invasion was passed on via rumours and hearsays. There was a telling absence of a ruling government directing its people; amongst of which, was the complete lack of organization from the military. In fact, every one was left to fend for themselves. Horses and carriages were the means of transport, a combination that seemed like a feeble match to the aliens.

The invaders were from Mars, but the notion that they’ve been here all along was alluded to. Some came in a fireball that embedded themselves in the ground. And when they rose from the pits from where they landed, people felt complacent enough to think that they’ll be slowed down by the gravitational difference between two planets. They were wrong, of course. In addition, with the seemingly archaic choice of weaponry, it had me thinking about how easily the human race would be wiped out. They were powerless.

In the end though, nature saved the day. If you’ve not seen the movie, the aliens got sick, and eventually died from consuming human blood. Humans had antibodies, viruses that the genetic make up of aliens couldn’t handle. It was what led to their demise.

What I loved about the movie adaptation was the realistic portrayal of how humans behave in time of great strife. We have the tendency to defeat our own selves. We succumb to madness – both real and imagined. That was a prevailing observation in this novel as well. I think it was even more so, because the lack of information at the time wreaked havoc in everyone’s minds.

The underlying lesson in this book is, simply put, dominance; hierarchy, and the man’s perch on top of the food chain. That regardless of how important, and how further ahead we are from other species, there will always be something/someone who will have to power to overcome us. Existentially, we were compared to animals that we hunt (for game or for sustenance). Humans turn on their basest of instincts when faced with grave danger. Unfortunately, we more often go back to our selfish nature.

In conclusion, this book was a fast read. Though the narrative is painfully dry, the suspense and the action makes the readers forget the lack of dialogues.

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Throwback Thursday [#9]: Pulp by Charles Bukowski

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Pulp by Charles Bukowski | Ecco | Paperback, 208 pages
Publication Date: May 31st, 2002 | Adult Fiction | Crime |
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars


The whole time I was reading this, all I could think of was what my brain would look like if it was on meth.

This book should come with a warning: “Book may induce numbness to the brain that may lead to permanent damage.” Or something to that effect.

Clearly, my first foray into Bukowski’s world did not get off to a great start. I read somewhere that this was his farewell book as he wrote it before he died. So being one of the greatest minds in the modern literature, of course the book was full of metaphors for the life he’d lived that I, unfortunately, knew nothing about. This is what happens when I become an overzealous reader. It’s like face-planting in front of a room-full of people with my skirt pulled up, thereby showing them a piece of my caboose.

It’s humiliating.

Anyway, I bought a couple of Bukowski’s short novels a while back because I wanted a little glimpse into how his mind works. Incidentally, this one caught my eye because I’m such a whore for pulp fiction covers. Last weekend, while I was trying to figure out what to feature on my throwback review, I thought it was as good a time as any. At 208 pages, and with chapters that sometimes are only a paragraph or two long, Pulp was just perfect.

Big mistake. Huge.

Imagine the most misogynistic character you’ve ever known then multiply that by ten. Dress him up as someone who drinks himself to stupor, gambles money he doesn’t have, jerks off at a woman’s voice over the phone, then makes deals with people only to double cross them in the end.

Are you imagining this person?

If you are, then congratulations. You just found yourself face to face with Nick Belane, PI. This man is quite the character. He’d often found himself in situations of his own making. It would be funny if it wasn’t so terrible. Anyway, his assignment to find Céline spear headed a domino effect of troubles for him. From one client to another, he crosses and double crosses each one. It was exhausting. So exhausting that I wished someone would put the poor sob out of his misery by the next page.

I went and read a little more about this book’s history and I found out that this book was sort of Bukowski’s “fuck you” to the world. He made fun of pulp fiction, and fired shots at some authors. I really am clueless. It wasn’t a good idea to read the last work that the author penned as he was close to dying. There was a deliberate referral to his pending escape as one of the characters is called, Lady Death. The one looking for the author Celine, who incidentally was supposed to be dead as he was born in the 1800s.

Needless to say, I  think Bukowski’s brilliance lay waste on someone like me.

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Throwback Thursday [#8]: And Both Were Young by Madeleine L’Engle

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Square Fish | Paperback, 272 pages | Original Publication: February 15th, 1983 | Read: 2011 publication | Young Readers 9-12 | Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


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Original 1983 cover.

My experience with this book is not very pleasant. I mean, it wasn’t bad. No, not at all. I suppose it  can be compared to when one is reading the back of a Raisin Bran box of cereal while shovelling spoonfuls of them in their mouth: it’s good for you but in the end, it’s no choco puffs. The thing is, I feel like I’ve been gipped. The blurb at the back of this book advertises FORBIDDEN ROMANCE in big, bold letters. And if you know me, you know that’s a huge bait. Besides, it’s MADELEINE L’ENGLE! How could you now want to read this?! Well, I did. And I’m sorry to say, it was a tad disappointing.

The writing is very odd. I suppose it reflects the era from whence the novel took place. The dialogues are very clinical, and some too formal. But again, that probably had more to do with the way people spoke at the time (post-World War 1).

This is the story of a young girl sent to a boarding school in Switzerland. Flip’s father, being a traveling artist, did not want to take Flip around the world with him. So Eunice, his companion, suggested she goes to a boarding school.  He’s also made it a goal in life to search for all the missing kids displaced during the war. What I don’t get is why his travels brought him to China when the war was centred in Europe.

Eunice, the woman who wants to replace Flip’s mother in her father’s life,  plays the quintessential evil step mother role: very haughty, expects too much of Flip, and very critical of Flip. And I guess the reason why Flip was so against the boarding school to begin with.

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Blurb at the back.

In the boarding school, we see Flip be her awkward self. The girls call her “Pill” instead of Flip, and we see her stumble haplessly in every social situation. With the help of her Art teacher and her nephew, Paul, she starts blossoming on her own.  We see her adapt and accept her lot in life. But while I enjoyed seeing her come of age, I was still a little confused about how old the kids were.

There was also supposed to be a romance between Paul and Flip, but to be honest, they were better off as siblings. I really wish they didn’t packaged this book as having a forbidden romance because of two things: one, there wasn’t any. And second, it was an awkward romance.

What I enjoyed about this book was the depicted life on a Swiss boarding school. Though Flip had to go through a version of bullying (aka, hazing) at first, in time, the girls eventually warmed up to her. I especially liked the shown camaraderie during Christmas time. It was gorgeously described. It makes me want to stay at home on Christmas and create our own family tradition.

Over all, I almost feel like it’s sacrilege to say I didn’t quite enjoy this book. I can compare it to someone listening to an aria in a monotone voice. Lifeless novel, packaged as a romance that didn’t exist.

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