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Archive for June, 2013

This is a book review for Book Hub.

In the introduction, Lister asks why man is obsessed with war, why man destroys the environment, and why man abuses woman. He ends the introduction with “This book is my attempt … to expose the workings of the subconscious mind of man… and, in the process, to reveal Man’s Greatest Fear.” I wanted to read this because I, too, wonder why men abuse women.

 The first chapter is literally mind blowing. Lister gathers well researched and documented information on abuse of woman, proving it is universal regardless of culture, religion or economic status. Men from all walks of life abuse women, from denying them rights over their bodies through covering them up, beating them, raping them and mutilating them. And the reason he gives – and that is Man’s Greatest Fear – is that man is afraid of women, as man knows that women have power over him. On the face of it, the question of the book is answered, and all is left is to suggest how to solve it.

 However, from the second chapter onwards his research deteriorates. Lister continues by stating that man destroys the environment and loves war. He claims typical women are nurturing and protective – and points out many women who aren’t and solves the paradox by calling them atypical. In the same way he claims that typical men are selfish and destructive, and all other men are atypical. This is like claiming that typical women are blond and all brunettes are atypical. In other words – nonsense.

 He defends these conclusions by overwhelming examples of destructive and selfish men. However, in the first chapter he points out that women are rarely allowed in positions of authority because of male domination, and ignores this skewing of the data. He doesn’t even bother to mention the matriarchal societies that exist in the world today (such as the Mosuo, Minangkabau, Akan and more, easily found in Google) and the fact that in some of them men can’t own property or have rights over their children, reversing the roles instead of promoting equality. In short, he doesn’t even consider that the actual cause of destruction can be ascribed to the simple truism that “power corrupts”. As he doesn’t apply the barest research to matriarchal societies, his proposed solution – that women rule the world – is illogical (not that I would mind trying, but I found no basis that women, given positions of power, are less bloodthirsty than men).

 At some point the book becomes a rant against the politics in America today. As a non-American, this had little interest for me. However, during ranting he states conspiracy theories as if they were proven fact (Rabin was assassinated by the Mossad; JFK was assassinated by the CIA; etc). And he also writes glaring inaccuracies such as claiming that the Jews started the 1947 Israeli war of independence, when in fact the Jews accepted the UN two state solution and the Palestinians didn’t, attacking the Jews and starting the war (though most of the rest of his anti-Israel claims are unfortunately legitimate, even if they are open to different interpretations).

 In addition to the factual deterioration, he repeats himself constantly, making for tedious reading, and he ascribes to gender stereotypes in a blatant way.

It is a pity that he let a well-researched and interesting book degrade into conspiracy theory and American politics. I wished I had stopped reading after the first chapter.

Overall: 1 star.

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Behold! My first comic strip 🙂 Some things are so sad, they’re funny…

So True

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This one goes to my eldest son, who asked, “Why don’t we freeze watermelon cubes?” And I thought, why not indeed?

So I put some watermelon cubes in a bag and stuck ’em in the freezer. A few hours later we tasted them for dessert. And they were fabulous!

All that was missing were some popsicle sticks. So next time I’ll stick some cocktail forks in them and we’ll munch away…

Notes: they didn’t stick to one another, so no problem there. They were sweet and not too hard, and were perfect. Easier popsicles than that are simply not possible 🙂

No pictures yet as we ate them, but next time I’ll photo. In the meantime, a picture of a watermelon:

Mmm...Watermelon...

Mmm…Watermelon…

And finally:

watermelon popsicles

watermelon popsicles

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I’m a bit ambivalent on this series. On the plus side, the characters were interesting, the romances believable and lovely, the reading easy, flowing, with some heartbreaking moments and some laugh-out-loud ones. In short, my kind of light reading.

On the other hand, in these books it is stressed that a woman can’t be really, really happy without a man and a house full of children; and that the wedding day is critical and has to be perfect. I don’t know if it’s just me, or in general to non-Americans, but the whole wedding thing seems waaay over the top. It isn’t that important, people. The dress doesn’t have to “make you glow”, the flowers don’t have to match the flower girl’s bracelet and the MIL’s glasses, and I don’t think I even tasted my wedding cake (though after some descriptions here, I’m almost sorry about that 🙂 ). So for me, it just didn’t hit the spot. Overall: 4 stars.

Vision in White: I really liked Mac, and Carter. I had to reread this a number of times to get it straight, because Carter is a nerd-type hero, who reminded me of Mac (male) in Heaven and Earth, and Mac is the name of the heroine in this book, so … 😕 But still a nice story and introduces most of the characters for the future books (if you keep your eye open you can already tell who the couples will be in 2 and 3). 4 stars.

Bed of Roses: This was painfully predictable, and Emma is, to put it gently, bright as a plank. I pretty much wanted to slap her face and tell her to grow up already. Definitely the low point of the series. If you keep your eyes open, you definitely know who the couple is in 3, and have a good guess at 4. 1 star.

Savour the Moment: This was sweet. I liked it very much, mostly because I really liked Laurel. I didn’t connect so much to the hero because I don’t like the “I’ll do what you need not what you want” types. But Nora Roberts kept a balance here so it wasn’t bad, and there were some great scenes between the two of them that made me laugh and cry. Good book. 4.5 stars.

Happy Ever After: This was nice. It had some great moments and some great scenes, and I like the hero and Parker. However, despite the “opposites attract” cliché I really don’t see them together that well after the book ends. I’m too realistic for these books 😉 Still, great scenes. 4 stars.

* I linked each book separately because they’re cheaper that way, but if you want the box as well you can find the whole set here.

bkln1a

I like looking up books in goodreads to get an idea of the book – specifically violence, as I hate that – before reading it. And in many Nora Roberts books, I come upon reviews of people who are obviously ultra-religious, who claim that they read this book because they were forced to for a creative writing course. Their opinion of the books are uniformly bad, mostly because of the sex and the swearing (“foul-mouthed fornicators” is my current favourite epithet 🙂 ). And it always amazes me:

First, how many fundamentalists are being forced to read Nora Roberts against their will? For shame!

Second, why is it that they complain about the sex and the swearing, but they never complain about the violence?

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Hidden Star (Stars of Mithra, #1)Captive Star (Stars of Mithra, #2)Secret Star (Stars of Mithra, #3)

I found the entire trilogy mildly annoying.

It would probably be a good read for someone who hasn’t read a lot of Nora Roberts, but for me it was like reading a hodge-podge of recycled Nora Roberts works. The amnesia gambit was used in the Cordina series. Reincarnation as a plot point was used much more effectively in Midnight Bayou. Poor-little-rich-girl was used in uncountable Nora Roberts books, most of them much better. The entire plot was done excellently in Hidden Riches, without the clutter.

To top it all, in the first two books the couple meet for the first time, sleep together, and get engaged over the course of one long weekend. The reason given for this utterly insane action is that they knew each other in previous lives, so that’s OK. The third book takes longer, but I think no more than two weeks. And part of the plot is when she gets angry at him for wanting to back off because he thinks it’s going to fast. News flash, lady: it is going too fast. Back off. But reincarnation steps in again, so that’s OK, too.

Sheesh.

So why am I still giving it some stars? Because most of these things don’t bother you while reading. You get caught up in the romance, and the suspense works most of the time. So overall: 2.5 stars.

Book I – Hidden Star: This is the best one of the lot. The suspense works here, and you’re really curious how they figure out who this beautiful woman is who can’t remember anything beyond this morning. I liked it. 4 stars.

Book II- Captive Star: This is the worst one of the lot, as it’s simply glorifying Stockholm Syndrome. Seriously. Yes, I know that the hero has a heart of gold, blah blah blah, but the heroine doesn’t know this, and he beats her up, kidnaps her, handcuffs her to a car and a bed, and blackmails her. How romantic. 😕

In addition, I’ve just finished the Impact Self Defence for Women course (highly recommended) and the fight between the athletic black-belt MJ and Jack is so misleading it’s criminal. First rule: if you can, run. Being upset that a guy is invading your privacy and wanting to kick his ass is commendable, but if you see the chance, run! Second thing, keep in mind that a man has more upper body strength than a woman (generally). Therefore, the woman is at a disadvantage in a hand to hand fight. As counter-intuitive as it seems, the best position for the woman is lying on the floor so she can kick (using her usually superior lower body strength) without losing balance. Third, don’t waste energy without a target. If he’s pinning you down and you can’t get a good punch or kick, wait. Struggling just tires you out without doing anything to him. The black belt kick-ass MJ does this all the time, struggling until she’s too tired to move. So the subtext of the book? A woman, even an athletic black belt, can’t win against a man. Way to go, Nora*. 😦 0 stars.

Book III- Secret Star: This was nice, but predictable and clichéd. 2 stars.

* To be fair, in The Search a woman does win against a man. But still.

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