Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland

The Phoenix Chronicles book 1Title:  Any Given Doomsday

Author:  Lori Handeland

Paperback:  343 pages (ARC)

Published:  2008

ISBN:  9780312949198

Acquired:  Won in the August 2008 batch of the LibraryThing Early Readers Program

Challenges:  The ARC Reading Challenge 2010, New Author Challenge 2010

“You’re telling me the fallen angels are still on earth in the form of demons?”

“In a way.  Ever heard of the Grigori and the Nephilim?”  I shook my head.  “The Grigori were known as the watchers.  They were sent to earth to keep an eye on the humans.  They lusted after them instead and were banished by God to Tartarus, the fiery pit where all divine enemies are thrown.”  He shrugged.  “Basically the lowest, locked level of hell.”

-Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland, page 47 (ARC)

Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland was massively given out to LibraryThing’s ER program in August of 2008, and I’ve had it on my ARC-alanche pile since then.  It was out of laziness and distraction, but after reading it, I wonder if it was something more.  Maybe I was tapped into the Collective Conciousness and subconsciously knew it was a craptastic book.  Either way, I’m done with it.  Yay!

Oh my god… where do I begin.  Let’s start with the good things about it.  The plot is an interesting concept.  The Nephilim were the biblically mention sons and daughters of the forbidden union between the angels who were suppose to keep an eye on people and those whom they were suppose to watch.  The creation of this new race gave them a variety of supernatural powers and it is they who are the vampires, werewolves, gods, etc of our mythologies.  Opposing them is a federation of good who seek out and destroy the evil Nephilim.  Another thing I liked about the book was the action (not the action, btw) of demon hunting and solving the mystery of who killed Ruthie, everyone’s favorite mentor.

So where does it go wrong? 

There is vulgar and graphic sex scenes that go on for pages.  I’m not a prude, I can enjoy well-written love-making when it’s appropriate to the story, as in Bedlam, Bath and Beyond.  Even more barbaric and twisted sex like in Bentley Little’s The Store is okay, because it was a necessary part of the story.  But what soils the pages of this book is just gaggy.  The first event occurred within the first 50 pages in which the female narrator describes how she wants to give the guy a blow job.  Later she’s date-raped by the guy who’s suppose to be teaching her how to use her powers, then forcibly raped for a few chapters toward the end.  The sex is bestial and perverse, and isn’t gentle “love” until it’s too late.  No, you don’t have your heroine being raped all over the book, then try to slip in some sweet-lovin’ to make the reader forgive the rape.

And it’s not just the whole rape thing, but it’s the way in which it’s shown.  I swear these are straight out of some guy’s rape-fantasy magazine, because as she’s being raped, she reaches orgasm over and over, as if she has to be taken to have pleasure.  And if all that wasn’t enough, you get to the big boss bad guy’s lair and it’s Gor all the way.  Women waiting around wearing nothing but a chain around their waist, desperately hoping to be used next.  It just started turning my stomach after awhile.

Besides the rape and lack of any moral fiber of anyone, good or bad, except Ruthie who dies in the first chapter, there is the way the book is put together.  At times, the writing is less-than-descriptive (which never happens during the porn), events and sections of the story seem thrown together and not woven in well, and it seems like Handeland wanted to make sure to use ever supernatural being anyone has ever heard of, whether it worked or not.  Case in point:  The half-Nephilim (called breeds) who is a werehyena who fights the cougar (in rural WISCONSIN in April) that’s possessed by a chindi (what the hell is that?), but is defeated when it touches the turquoise necklace our heroine just happens to be wearing that was given to her by her “teacher” who is a skinwalker and hates her dhampir ex-boyfirend who turns out to be a dream-walker.  Oh, and the reason he’s an ex is because she had a psychic vision of him screwing a chick who turns out to be a fairy.

Stretch the limits of credulity much?

Yeah, so it’s an easy guess.  Since I did enjoy some parts of this book it’s not a complete hated-it! but I can’t really give it much higher than a 2 out of 5 stars.

Oh yeah, and I got a very strong feeling the two lovers here will turn out to be brother and sister.

Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng

Title:  Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism

Author:  Georgia Byng

Paperback:  373 pages

ISBN:  0439567300

Orphan Molly Moon hates living in Hardwick House.  For starters, the orphanage is run by hairy-faced Miss Adderstone, who makes Molly clean the toilets with her toothbrush.  Mean Hazel Hackersly torments her, and to make matters worse, Molly’s best friend Rocky has just been adopted and is moving to New York City!

But when Molly stumbles upon a mysterious old book on hypnotism, her world is suddenly turned upside down.  With a dazzling flash of her bright green eyes, she discovers that she has the amazing power to make people do things — crazy things.  There’s nothing holding Molly back now, and what better place to begin her adventures than in spectacular New York City as a Broadway superstar?

What Molly doesn’t know is that a sinister stranger is following her with dastardly plans of his own.

-from the first page of Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng

Okay, this was NOT the best book to pick right after reading The Glass Castle, a book about real child abuse and neglect.  I just couldn’t help thinking about the Walls children, and whether they would have appreciated life at Hardwick, or whether Molly would have preferred being a Walls.  Hard to say, both books had hard living for children as a central theme.  Whereas the Walls experience was an inescapable reality, Molly’s is an average child’s fantasy.  “Oh, how I wish I could get back at Mom for making me eat lima beans.  She knows I hate them, that’s why she gives it to me!”  The idea of being able to get revenge for being served vegetables they hate and being force-marched to bed at 9 o’clock makes Molly Moon a fun and silly read for the 8-12 crowd.

I also made the mistake of reading it by myself.  It was actually a restart.  Mags and I had started reading it last spring and had to set it aside when we were 1/3 the way through while she went to visit her dad.  We never picked it back up, and I figured it’d be a quick book to help me hit my 75-book goal (this one makes number 68, only 7 to go :-D )  I remember we’d laughed and laughed until tears came into our eyes and my throat was hoarse from doing the voices and cackling so much.  Without her, however, I only chuckled a couple times and found myself wishing I was sharing it with her.  Children lend their magic to some books, a magic we adults seem to have lost.

I do plan on re-reading it with Mags, all the way through.  But as it stands now, I give Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng 3 out of 5.  I read someone’s review that said how Molly was an unlikeable character, but I disagree with that.  Molly is a fairly blank character, with as little of her own personality and quirks as could be gotten away with.  This isn’t a bad thing, in this case, because what she provides is a template for kids to put themselves in her shoes.  She’s not blank as in “underdeveloped”, rather like a costume has nothing inside.  Which makes me wonder what the reviewer didn’t like about her… hmm…

Silas Marner by George Eliot

Title:  Silas Marner

Author:  George Eliot

Paperback:  218 pages

Publisher:  Watermill Press

Publish Date:  1983

ISBN:  0893759961

Miscellaneous:  Mary Ann Evans was born in Warwickshire, England on November 22, 1819.  Under the name of George Eliot, she wrote several novels including Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, and  Middlemarch.  George Eliot died in London on December 22, 1880.

Unlike the gold which needed nothing and must be worshiped in close-locked solitude – which was hidden away from the daylight, was deaf to the song of birds, and started to no human tones – Eppie was a creature of endless claims and ever-growing desires, seeking and loving sunshine, and living sounds, and living movements; making trial of everything, with trust in new joy, and stirring the human kindness in all eyes that looked on her.  The gold had kept his thoughts in an ever-repeated circle, leading to nothing beyond itself, but Eppie was an object compacted of changes and hopes that forced his thoughts onward, and carried them far away from their old eager pacing towards the same blank limit…  The gold had asked that he should sit weaving longer and longer, deafened and blinded more and more to all things except the monotony of his loom and the repetition of his web; but Eppie called him away from his weaving, and made him think all its pauses a holiday, reawakening his senses with her fresh life, even to the old winterflies that came crawling forth in the early spring sunshine, and warming him into joy because she had joy.

And when the sunshine grew strong and lasting, so that the buttercups were thick in the meadows, Silas might be seen in the sunny mid-day, or in the later afternoon when the shadows were lengthening under the hedgerows, strolling out with uncovered head to carry Eppie beyond the Stone Pits to where the flowers grew, till they reached some favorite  bank where he could sit down, while Eppie toddled to pluck the flowers, and make remarks to the winged things that murmured happily above the bright petals, calling “Dad-dad’s” attention continually by bringing him the flowers.  Then she would turn her ear to some sudden bird-note, and Silas learned to please her by making signs of hushed stillness, that they might listen for the note to come again:  so that when it came, she set up her small back and laughed with gurgling triumph.  Sitting on the banks in this way, Silas began to look for the once familiar herbs again; and as the leaves, with their unchanged outline and markings, lay on his palm, there was a sense of crowding remembrances from which he turned away timidly, taking refuge in Eppie’s little world that lay lightly on his enfeebled spirit.

As the child’s mind was growing into knowledge, his mind was growing into memory:  as her life unfolded, his soul, long stupefied in a cold narrow prison, was unfolding too, and trembling gradually into full consciousness.

-Silas Marner by George Eliot, pages 149-151

Silas Marner by George Eliot tells the story of the socially withdrawn weaver.  Once in love and a vibrantmember of society, Silas was betrayed by his best friend, who framed him as a thief who stole church money in order to steal Marner’s fiance.  Silas leaves the land where he has always lived and moves to the southern English country communtity of Raveloe, a town that is far out of the way of the main roads and therefore has retained its simpler, pastoral beliefs and ways.

For fifteen years Silas works at his loom, usually sixteen hours a day, seven days a week, in pursuit of his only companion,  the gold guineas he receives as pay for his work, and shuns all society.  However, when he falls victim to a robbery that separates him from his 270 pounds that he had hoarded over the years, he begins a journey of reclamation and healing.  The arrival of Eppie, the gold-haired girl he, at first, mistakes as his returned gold, slowly reawakens feelings of faith, trust and love within him.

 But… can it be meant to last?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I vaguely remember reading Silas Marner in high school as part of the advanced English Honors program.  As I read through this a second time, I remembered why.  Eliot’s language is slow and thick, at times mind-numbingly so, and some of the descriptions of the society of a bygone era drug on and on with the inane details of gowns and cows and ghosts and blah blah blah.  I found myself wishing for a good Austen novel.  And now I’m not nearly as convinced I want to crack open Middlemarch, a book at least three times the length also by Eliot.

I did, however, love the story itself.  I felt such sympathy and excitement for Silas as I followed him through all his heartaches and then as rejoiced with him as Eppie, the orphaned child who came into his life by chance, becomes the salvation of his humanity and restores all that he once lost.

A few years ago, Hollywood modernized this story in a movie starring Steve Martin as Silas.  The movie is “A Simple Twist of Fate,” and I recommend it to anyone interested in the story (don’t post hate comments for this, but I’d rather watch the movie than read the book any day!).  Of course, the movie is not a substitute for the book as an assignment for school, but could be watched AFTER you’ve read it. ;-)

Obviously, Silas Marner by George Eliot is a literary classic and therefore has merit, but it’s definitely not my favorite classic.  I give Silas Marner 3 out of 5 stars.

TSS – Mummies, Mishka, and More!

The Sunday Salon.com

Wow! What a week! It’s Sunday already and I don’t know where the week went! I only read one adult book and on children’s book, but I’m okay with that. I gave away $50 in Borders gift cards, announced a giveaway for a signed copy of Mishka: An Adoption Tale, I helped capture a dangerous sociopath, and more.

This week was the last week for Maggie’s summer school classes. One of her classes was a drama class which held their performances on Wednesday and Thursday. Sammi and I went on Wednesday, and were the only family audience that day, then I took my little actress out for a fish sandwich at Burger King afterwards. Then I went to sign Gwen, my 14-year-old, and Mags up for school. Meg’s happy because she’s got a sweet teacher and all her friends (and none of her enemies) are in her class this year. Sammi’s in 10th grade this year, and high school registration is on Tuesday.

I thought I was excited and ready for them to go back to school… until I went clothes and supplies shopping. YIKES! Three outfits a piece totalled $270. Supplies, backpack, unmentionables for growing girls, and a Hannah Montana outfit I promised to get Mags two weeks ago added up to another $260 at Wal-mart.  We might have to cut back to one meal a day, but at least they’ll look great when they go back to school ;-)

Thursday was the last day of the giveaway contest. So Friday I ran the numbers through Research Randomizer and posted the winners: M, The True Confessions of a Book Lover Named M, won the $20 Borders gift card and a bonus gift, then Jessica and Dawn, She Is Too Fond of Books…, won the $10 cards, and Suey, It’s All About Books, and Judy Brittle won the $5 cards. I still haven’t heard from Jessica or Judy Brittle and if they don’t email me their address by 3 pm today, then I will draw two new names for their $10 and $5 cards.

Friday night, while y’all were fighting in line for Breaking Dawn, I haven’t read any off them and have a copy of BD on hold, we went to the movie theater to see the new Mummy movie.

It was an incredible movie. It has something for everyone (except small children I suppose), mummies, dragons, Yetis (is that the right word for more than one Yeti? or is it like the word “fish”), new love, reclaimed love, animal love (yeah, but is strictly platonic), action, battle, immortals and Shangri La. The kids came home and immediately put the first Mummy movie in the DVD player, and they’ve been flipping back and forth between one and two. I want to see this one again!

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THIS WEEK, blogwise that is. Seriously, I can’t say this enough, Mishka: An Adoption Tale is an exceptionally good book. Not only is the book a really wonderful and heartwarming book, but for each book that’s sold, and any other DRT Press book, 5% of the profit is donated to charities that help orphaned children in the EE and Russia. How can you go wrong with that? You get a great book to keep, AND the knowledge you are helping a child, who has no one, eat or get a new pair of shoes. It’s win-win!
Don’t forget to check out my Interview with Adrienne Ehlert Bashista and be sure to enter to win a signed copy of Mishka!

OH, and by the way… tell me what you think of my new look!  I’ve added a “Quote of the Day” to my sidebar, as well as rearranging the widgets (thanks readerville for the text box trick!)

Mishka: An Adoption Tale by Adrienne Ehlert Bashista

Title: Mishka: An Adoption Tale
Author: Adrienne Ehlert Bashista
Illustrator: Miranda R. Mueller
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: DRT Press
Publish Date: 2007
ISBN: 9781933084015

Mo sat high on a shelf in an airport gift shop.
Every day he watched as people rushed by. He wondered where they were going, and what they were like. Often, he’d see a mother and a father and some children and he’d long for them to come into the shop and buy him, but no one ever did.
More than anything, Mo wanted a family. He wanted a home.

Mo’s feelings echo those of any child living in an orphanage, watching people and families going about their own busy lives. When Mo finds himself in the company of a man and a woman, he wonders where they’re going. When they land in Russia, he asks if it’s their home. And at the orphanage, he wonders who they are seeing. Throughout the whole book, it’s Mo’s uncertainty that we hear, which of course reflects the child’s feelings.

It is for these children Bashista has written Mishka: An Adoption Tale. This is quite a beautiful book, both the detailed illustrations and the story are captivating and heartwarming. Mishka walks the reader through the process: the initial visit between prospective parents and child, then claiming the child and getting the paperwork in order, and finally the going home. However, it’s not an “instructional” or even a chronicle of events, instead it’s written from the point of view of Mo the bear who is the thread that connects the couple and the child throughout the story.

I really enjoyed this book, and I’ve read it three or four times already. I just can’t stop smiling whenever I look through it. Mo the bear’s body language and facial expressions change on each page, expressing the feelings of the moment. He is the ball in the game of catch, and he is the comfort object during the couple’s absence.

Maggie’s review:

I really loved this book. I liked Mo the bear and want one of my own. They should make a Mo to sell with the book so I can hold him while we read the book. My favorite part is when the man and the boy play catch with Mo as the ball. I think this book is so sweet! And I love the drawings, they’re pretty. The book has two stories in it. One story is about the little boy’s adoption. The other story is about Mo the bear getting a family and a home. I thought the part at the beginning when he’s on the shelf and nobody wants to buy him is sad, but if somebody had bought him then he wouldn’t have been Yuri’s Mishka. This book is for children in Russia who are getting adopted. I give this book 100 stars out of 5 stars. I really really liked it!

Mishka: An Adoption Tale is a perfect book for a classroom reading time book for ages 4 through 8 (though, Maggie’s 9 and loved it, too). It’s a wonderful conversation-starter and I found myself, quite unexpectedly, telling Maggie about how I had considered giving her up for adoption while I was pregnant with her. We talked about that for a while, as I explained to her that I had thought of it because I had wanted her to have the best life possible. I couldn’t do it, obviously, and I’m very glad I didn’t. I think the process makes her special to me because I chose to keep her. And I think adopted children are loved with that same special love because they were also chosen.

The ability of a book to draw out discussions of more difficult subjects without effort is a characteristic of an exceptional book, as is the ability to carry the reader along without the reader seeing the process, and Mishka does this.

I give Mishka: An Adoption Tale by Adrienne Ehlert Bashista five out of five stars. :-D

Don’t forget to enter to win a signed copy of Mishka: An Adoption Tale!

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