Sunday, November 24, 2019

Book Review: The Forgotten Ones by Laura Howard

Published: April 28, 2013
Publisher: self-published
Read February 11-13, 2018
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Allison O'Malley's plan is to go to grad school so she can get a good job and take care of her schizophrenic mother. She has carefully closed herself off from everything else, including a relationship with Ethan, who she's been in love with for as long as she can remember.
What is definitely not part of the plan is the return of her long-lost father, who claims he can bring Allison's mother back from the dark place her mind has gone. Allison doesn't trust her father, so why would she believe his stories about a long forgotten Irish people, the Tuatha de Danaan? But truths have a way of revealing themselves. Secrets will eventually surface. And Allison must learn to set aside her plan and work with her father if there is even a small chance it could restore her mother's sanity.


This review will contain some slight spoilers. Also, content warning for mentions of consent issues and rape.

There are a lot of problems with the way this book portrays mental illness. We're told at the beginning of the story that Allison's mom has schizophrenia, but it's clear early on that this isn't true. We learn later that she fell in love with Allison's father, who's fey, and not being around him is what causes her symptoms. (It's described as being a kind of addiction in the book.)

Portrayal of schizophrenia is rare in fiction, and to be told a character has it only for that to not be true and there instead by a magical explanation isn't fair for the people who so rarely see themselves represented in fiction. I don't like how that was presented at all, and the whole idea of humans becoming "addicted" to fey also left me uneasy. I'm supposed to believe that Allison's parents are in love with each other, but that's not possible if her father is like a drug to her mother. That's not love; her mother doesn't actually have a choice.

That was a problem throughout the story. Considering the effect the fey—or Danaan as they're called in the book—have on humans, there are a number of situations where consent is iffy at best in this book. This is something that I think books about fey often have problems with, but that didn't make it less disappointing. Ethan is nearly raped at one point in the book.

Allison's love interest also sucked and constantly made comments about how hot girls were. It got old very fast, and I definitely wasn't rooting for them to be together.

Allison is also vocal about not liking "kids" (she uses that word even though she's supposed to be 21) her own age. Throughout the book, she's incredibly judgmental of everyone around her, and it made her unlikable and just a pain to read about.

A character named Rachel makes a "joke" that Allison must be a lesbian because she's a virgin at 21. Do I need to discuss all of the layers of cringe there?

I just didn't like this book at all, and I wouldn't recommend it.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Life Post: Sick

For once, it's only been a couple of weeks since I last posted.

After Halloween, I expected things to calm down since the parties were all over, and for the most part, that turned out to be the case. I've had a lot less to do the past couple of weeks, which turned out to be very good because I got sick not long after Halloween.

It was unsurprising because a number of illnesses have been floating around. Though we can't really tell you if they're the same thing or not. When I went to the doctor, he basically said, "There are several things it could be, but it's no use running tests to see which it is. Here's some medicine." So, I basically took four different pills that were for different illnesses, and most of my friends who've been sick got the same response from the doctor. Some of our symptoms are similar and some different, so there's no telling really whether we've had the same thing or not.

I took the medicine the doctor gave me, and I felt a lot better while taking it, though my symptoms would come back quickly once it started to wear off. I had a lot of chest pain and a sore throat.

Now that I've finished the medicine the doctor gave me, I feel better than before but still stick. I've been taking over-the-counter cold medicine, which seems to help with most of the symptoms, like pain and congestion.

Yesterday, I got a little freaked out. My throat had been very sore and swollen, but that had mostly gone away. Then, I taught two classes in a row yesterday and my voice started going during them. It wasn't painful like it had been, yet it was much harder for me to talk than it had been when it had been much sorer. Today, I have more classes than yesterday, so I can only hope that my voice holds up for it.

Things do seem to be getting better though, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that everything will be fine soon. And then I can hopefully avoid getting sick for the rest of the winter.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Book Review: Eyewitness Testimonies: Appeals From The A-bomb Survivors by Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation

Published: July 15, 2003
Publisher: Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation
Read: June 4-5, 2018
Synopsis from Goodreads:
On August 6, 1945, the 350,000 people of Hiroshima experienced the cruel tragedy of the world's first atomic bombing. The conditions inflicted by that bomb transcend the capacity of words and even pictures to convey. Only those who were here at the time can know the full reality, and the survivors of that horror know from their experience that nuclear weapons are incompatible with human life on Earth. Many have spent their lives appealing constantly, "Never again! Nuclear weapons must be banned and eliminated." In this book, we present the thoughts, feelings, and memories of fifteen survivors (two of whom are now deceased). All have taken part in peace studies programs held by this Foundation, telling their A-bomb experiences to students who come to Hiroshima on school excursions. In addition, because so many Koreans and other non-Japanese were exposed to the bomb, we present a chapter contributed by an expert in that field.


This book is exactly what it sounds like. It's a collection of stories from people who survived the atomic bombing in Hiroshima during World War II. There's no way their stories couldn't have been powerful.

As many of the survivors have now passed away, it's incredibly important that their stories be collected while they're alive, and I'm glad that there's a book like this to serve as a record. (I bought this at the museum in Hiroshima where you can also watch countless recorded interviews with survivors that are perhaps even more powerful as you can hear their emotions as they speak.) I think this book holds tremendous value, and I'm thankful to have picked it up at the souvenir shop.

Many of the stories contain similar details (as you could imagine), but there is also a large diversity in the stories, as some were farther from the epicenter than others, were different ages, were with people or alone, etc. As you read, you feel as if you're getting an idea of the scope of the devastation as you read now just the survivor's story but the story of those around them too.

It's a heartbreaking book, but it's an incredibly important book.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Book Review: Relentless by Karen Lynch

Published: December 26, 2013
Publisher: self-published
Read from March 10 to April 3, 2018
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Sara Grey’s world shattered ten years ago when her father was brutally murdered. Now at seventeen, she is still haunted by memories of that day and driven by the need to understand why it happened. She lives a life full of secrets and her family and friends have no idea of the supernatural world she is immersed in or of Sara’s own very powerful gift.
In her quest for answers about her father’s death, Sara takes risks that expose her and her friends to danger and puts herself into the sights of a sadistic vampire. On the same fateful night she meets Nikolas, a warrior who turns Sara’s world upside down and is determined to protect her even if it’s the last thing she wants.
Sara’s life starts to spin out of control as she is hunted by an obsessed vampire, learns that her friends have secrets of their own and reels from the truth about her own ancestry. Sara has always been fiercely independent but in order to survive now she must open herself to others, to reveal her deepest secrets. And she must learn to trust the one person capable of breaking down the walls around her.


I read this book for free as part of the Gods and Mortals anthology, and I disliked it as much as I disliked the other books I've reviewed from that same anthology.

The writing in Relentless feels like it's attempting to be formal in a way that's out of place. A lot of phrases were written out that would have sounded more natural as a contraction. I felt like the book was trying too hard, but it was unnatural and took me out of the story.

The main character, Sara, only has friends who are boys because she tells us that girls don't like her. She then proceeds to insult all girls as a monolithic group, so you understand right away why most girls aren't lining up to befriend her. Comments like that from a character always put me off a story. The "I'm not like most girls" bit is always annoying, but outright insulting all other girls makes it even worse. It's always strange to see it done in a book whose target audience is teenage girls. Are the girls who read this book all supposed to be exceptions to Sara's judgmental comments? Or are they supposed to read about someone who mocks them?

Mohiri are the supernatural race that this book centers around. They apparently received their powers from Archangel Michael, and these powers were given to them specifically to hunt demons. This backstory immediately made me think of the Shadowhunter Chronicles, where Shadowhunters were given powers from the another angel, Ithuriel, to fight demons.

However, the Mohiri are meant to be half demon and half human; Shadowhunters, on the other hand, are half angel and half human. I'm not including this in the review to accuse the author of plagiarism; I'm bringing it up because I couldn't help but compare the two series as I was reading this one.

There were a number of tropes employed in the book that made me uncomfortable as well. I won't bother going into detail about them but will briefly list some of them to help others be aware of them before they read (while also acknowledging that I may have missed some):
  • Sara and Roland are chased by men who are all described as German or Middle Eastern. (How interesting that they can identify some of them by a specific country but no country is ever named in regards to the "Middle Eastern" men.) At one point, one of the men, who is described as Middle Eastern, says this: "In my country, a female is beaten for interfering in the business of men."
  • Men constantly belittle Sara because she's a girl. I don't think there was one male character in this book who didn't do it repeatedly.
  • Nikolas barges into Sara's room when she's only wearing a towel and doesn't care. He knows she has just gotten out of the shower and could easily be changing, but he doesn't knock or care at all about respecting her privacy.
  • There's a supernatural creature called a Hale witch, who is from Africa (no specific place in Africa is given) and only uses what's described as dark magic. There's a lot of emphasis placed on the Hale witch's black skin.
  • Almost every Mohiri and werewolf in the story is male; there are no women with a significant role anywhere in this book except Sara.
To be quite frank, I'm rather disgusted by this book. While I disliked many of the books in the Gods and Mortals anthology, this one had a number of particularly terrible tropes in it that I cannot believe someone thought were okay. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone.