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.

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Welsh Reading Challenge

Well, after Googling ever combination of Welsh, Author, Book, Reading, Challenge, etc, that I could think of, I can’t find a single reading challenge that focuses on my own family heritage (that’d be Welsh, if you didn’t guess it already 😉 ).  So, what better to make my very first sponsored challenge than a Welsh one?

I’m both nervous and excited about starting a book challenge, especially since I’ve got such a focused reading plan for this year.  How can I fit more books in?  But if I don’t plan to read them, I may never “be in the mood” to read books I really DO want to read.  Which is why I decided to create the WELSH READING CHALLENGE 😀

So the first thing a challenge needs is a button, and I got that.  It’s not the most incredibly creative, I suppose, and if anyone wants to make one for it, I’m open to it.

Welsh Reading Challenge 2010

1.  So next we need some rules…

Read at least one book in 2010 that is either by a Welsh author, takes place in Wales, or is about Welsh people (immigrants, descendants, etc).  Pretty simple 🙂

2.  And now we need levels to shoot for:

Efydd bathodyn (bronze medal) – Read one to three Welsh-related books between now and December 31st, 2010 to receive a bronze medal.

Arian bathodyn (silver medal) – Read four to six Welsh-related books by December 31st, 2010 for the silver medal rank.

Aur bathodyn (gold medal) – Read seven or more Welsh-related books in before the end of 2010 and be a gold-medalist!

I’m planning to read one Welsh-related book per month which will put me well into the Aur bathodyn range 😉  (BTW, I do not speak Welsh… try as I might, I have no one to practice with so my Cymraeg pretty much always sucks… so it’s quite possible that I’ve totally botched up the translations.  I used this online translator, so if you know the correct terms, leave a comment and I’ll correct it.)

3.  Post about it on your blog, leave a comment here to let me know and leave the link of reviews.  I’d love to make a page and do a monthly update of what everyone’s doing.  LOL.. though, everyone may just be me.  You can list which books you plan to read, but you don’t have to.

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And now for my planned Welsh Reading Challenge books:

1.  The Mabinogion – From the Amazon.com page -“Drawing on myth, folklore and history, the stories of the “Mabinogion” passed from generations of storytellers before they were written down in the thirteenth century in the form we know. Set in dual realms of the forests and valleys of Wales and the shadowy otherworld, the tales are permeated by a dreamlike atmosphere. In “Math Son of Mathonwy” two brothers plot to carry off the virginal Goewin, while in “Manawydan Son of Llyr” a chieftain roams throughout Britain after a spell is cast over his land. And King Arthur’s court provides the backdrop to tales such as “How Culhwch Won Olwen”, in which a young man must complete many tasks before he can marry a giant’s daughter.”  Basically, it’s like this… last year when I was looking for Welsh books, this one popped up.  It’s ancient, and so it’s like Uber-Cymraeg, right?  (LOL… linguists all over the world are having a stroke over that one)

2 and 3.  Aberystwyth Mon Amour and Last Tango in Aberystwyth by Malcolm Pryce – Noir detective novels with cool cover art and fun titles that take place in the Welsh city Aberystwyth.  He’s the best… and the only… Private Eye in town.  I’m really looking forward to reading these.

4.  A Writer’s House in Wales by Jan Morris – Journalist and National Geographic writer, Jan Morris, reflects on her home in Wales, her heritage and the history of the land.  Another one that I’ve been looking forward to reading.

5.  Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas – I don’t think a Welsh reading list could be complete without something by Dylan Thomas on it.  Most people know the line “Do not go gentle into that good night,” which is a Thomas poem.  Under Milk Wood is a play, and it’ll be new to me.  Before coming across the play, I’d only thought Thomas had wrote poetry.

6.  How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn – When I came across this treasure at the library sale last year, I actually broke out in a little victory dance.  I have been wanting to read it for a long time, and NOW I could finally do it!  Well… lol… can and actually DOING so are two different things.  This book is one of the reasons for THIS challenge.  It’s the story of a Welsh family in a coal town, how close they are as a family and community, and how the mining strike and later mechanization affected and fractured them forever.  It’s a before and after view, and shows how we have to give up a lot to get modern conveniences and luxuries and who has to pay.  Sometimes, even, we may want to take a second look at whether it’s worth the loss.

7.  Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman – LOL, I got this book basically because of the name.  It’s the first Penman’s Welsh Trilogy.  Oddly enough, I generally run in terror from “historical fiction” stuff… but because it’s “Welsh”, well, that’s a different matter.

8.  The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies – I had planned on reading this for the World War II challenge last year, but never got to it.  I’m hoping to get it read for sure this year.  I read a few blog reviews of it late 2008-early 2009, and thought it sounded really good, but it just never migrated off the long-range TBR shelf.

9.  On Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin – is a story of twin brothers living on a farm on the Welsh/English border.  The book description says it gives a wonderful description of the loneliness of life in rural Wales.  Hmm…  sounds a bit like rural Appalachia, which makes sense, given quite a few of the Welsh immigrants (including my own family’s ancestors) came through that area.

10.  The Journey Through Wales and The Description of Wales by Gerald of Wales –  after my failure to get through The Conquest of Gaul, I’m not sure how I’ll fair with this one.  Hopefully, the whole “war report” stuff Caesar wrote is why I couldn’t make it, and Gerald will be a wonderful historian to read.  For some reason, though, I’m feeling a bit like Catherine Morland at the moment… Historians inflict torture on people by writing books. 

11.  A String In the Harp by Nancy Bond – YA fantasy that takes place in Wales.

12.  Evans Above (Constable Evans Mystery) by Rhys Bowen – takes place in a small Welsh village, and looks like such a fun read 🙂

Okay, there’s my twelve.  MAYBE, I’ll try for some more, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to fit much more into it.  There’s more I’d like to read… like Sheepshagger by Niall Griffiths, that one looks like it’d make Palahniuk sick.  And I’d love to know what other great Welsh books there are out there.

I’m so excited to get reading!

Update:  The Welsh Reading Challenge now has it’s own blog.  Click here and explore!

And here’s Mr. Linky if you want to sign up now:

 

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Title:  Neverwhere

Author:  Neil Gaiman

Paperback: 400 pages

Date Published:  1996

Publisher:  Harper Torch (div of HarperCollins)

ISBN:  9780380789016

“So what are you after?”  Richard asked Hunter.  The three of them were walking, with extreme care, along the bank of an underground river.  The bank was slippery, a narrow path along dark rock and sharp masonry.  Richard watched with respect as the gray water rushed and tumbled, within arm’s reach.  This was not the kind of river you fell into and got out of again; it was the other kind.

“After?”

“Well,” he said.  “Personally, I’m trying to get back to the real London, and my old life.  Door wants to find out who killed her family.  What are you after?”  They edged along the bank, a step at a time, Hunter in the lead.  She said nothing in reply.  The river slowed and fed into a small underground lake.  They walked beside the water, their lamps reflecting in the black surface, their reflections smudged by the river mist.  “So what is it?”  asked Richard.  He did not expect any kind of answer.

Hunter’s voice was quiet and intense.  She did not break her step as she spoke.  “I fought in the sewers beneath New York with the great blind white alligator-king.  He was thirty feet long, fat from sewage and fierce in battle.  And I bested him, and I killed him.  His eyes were like huge pearls in the darkness.”  Her strangely accented voice echoed in the underground, twined in the mist, in the night beneath the Earth.

“…And I shall slay the Beast of London.  They say his hide bristles with swords and spears and knives stuck in him by those who have tried and failed.  His tusks are razors, and his hooves are thunderbolts.  I will kill him, or I will die in the attempt.”

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, pages 226-227

Meet Richard, Richard Mayhew… Dick.  Mild-mannered, Scottish born, hard-working London resident and all-around nice guy.  Richard is affianced to the eager, forward-thinking and career-driven (read:  controlling and pushy) Jessica who sees Richard as a project:  lots of potential, but also lot of work.  Richard’s life is dull, he has no family, and Gary, his co-worker, is his only friend… other than Jess… I mean Jessica.

Then, as he and Jessica are on the way to dinner with her boss, they come upon a strange girl, hurt and bleeding, in need of help.  Richard is compelled to help the girl, to which Jessica gives him an ultimatum:  Either he leaves the girl for someone else to help, or he can consider their engagement over.  Richard has no choice BUT to help and leave Jessica to dine with her employer alone.

However, in helping the girl, whose name is Door, he quickly finds his life is turned upside down, literally.  Suddenly, he no longer exists.  People don’t seem to see or hear him.  Cabs won’t stop for him.  Even the people in his office don’t know him and his desk and all his cubicle’s contents are gone.  Bewildered and feeling alone, he returns to his apartment to take a bath, only to be surprised by his landlord showing his place to a couple looking to rent.  He is forced to return to London Below to find Door and to find a way to get his life back.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is like Alice in Wonderland meets Grimms Fairy Tales, with a bit of Wizard of Oz and an ending reminiscent of El Dorado.  London Below is like a walk through history.  Every thing and everyone who has slipped through the cracks and has been lost, overlooked, and forgotten can be found in London Below.  Creatures lurk in the sewers and under subway platforms, and everyone is dangerous. 

Neverwhere is an urban fairy tale, with the teeth to scare you and fill your inner child with wonder.  I really enjoy Gaiman’s writing style, as well as his ability to weave a magical web of a story that draws you in and keeps you entranced.  When it was exciting and intriguing, I couldn’t put it down; I had to know what happened next.  And when it wasn’t being scary, I didn’t wantto put the book down because I was enraptured by the story itself.  The idea that somewhere Roman soldiers who deserted are huddled around a campfire, telling dirty jokes in Latin.

With Neverwhere, Gaiman flexes his imaginative muscles, but it’s more than just a fantasy book.  It has  a mystery to solve, both Richard and Door mature through their adventures, and prejudices have to be overcome if they want to survive.  Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is a well-crafted story and I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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Ever wonder where Gaiman gets his story ideas? In this vid clip, he reveals his source 🙂

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