Review: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman has a few different spots in my heart…the first is that he writes brilliantly and beautifully as so few can do. His style is both unique and refreshing. The second thing is the sound of his voice. It makes me near swoon. I could listen to him speak all day. I never get tired of it. Finally, he is one of the only writers that I actually enjoy a great deal of his short stories. I’m not a short story person really. However, I really do find myself enjoying some of his tales. I also love that he takes the time to explain where the stories come from. Sometimes those super short blurbs are more interesting than the actual story! They certainly almost always add to the story as well. If I had a complaint about the formatting of this novel it would only be I wish the blurbs came right before each story (or perhaps the end). Instead they are all in the start of the book so you have to go back and forth…or if you read the book from start to finish, you forget what little blurb inspired the story in the first place. Yes I know you can go flip back and forth…however, if you’re trying to listen to the audiobook (AGAIN! The second thing! HIS VOICE!!!) it’s not as easy to do.

Some of my all time favourite short stories can be found in this collection. I shall only mention one…”The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury”. If you can find a copy or a recording of Neil reading it PLEASE DO!!! (it’s also on the An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer cd, which is where I first heard it)

Finally Trigger Warnings…The term. I find it hard to express how I feel about trigger warnings and how silly it has sometimes became in social media. I’ve seen trigger warnings posted such as “dog”, “fat”, “diet”, really this list is endless. And no these were not instances of someone trying to be funny…these were honest to goodness trigger warnings….I’m no one to judge….however, I don’t believe we do ourselves or anyone else living in a censored world of padded rooms full of insulated words…

Again, I’m not a judge or an expert…and I’m not a writer, but my friend, Mr Gaiman is…I found his introduction was spot on for me. It’s exactly how I wish I could explain how I fell about “trigger warnings”…yeah, it might be a bit of an overkill, and you might not want to read it, but I am going to include it anyways…hahaha…if you decided to read it, I hope you’re lucky enough to be able to imagine Neil reading it (I pretty much do his voice inside my head ANYTIME I read one of his books now). Here it is…the introduction of the book:

There are things that upset us. That’s not quite what we’re talking about here, though. I’m thinking about those images or words or ideas that drop like trapdoors beneath us, throwing us out of our safe, sane world into a place much more dark and less welcoming. Our hearts skip a ratatat drumbeat in our chests, and we fight for breath. Blood retreats from our faces and our fingers, leaving us pale and gasping and shocked.

And what we learn about ourselves in those moments, where the trigger has been squeezed, is this: the past is not dead. There are things that wait for us, patiently, in the dark corridors of our lives. We think we have moved on, put them out of mind, left them to desiccate and shrivel and blow away; but we are wrong. They have been waiting there in the darkness, working out, practicing their most vicious blows, their sharp hard thoughtless punches into the gut, killing time until we came back that way.

The monsters in our cupboards and our minds are always there in the darkness, like mould beneath the floorboards and behind the wallpaper, and there is so much darkness, an inexhaustible supply of darkness. The universe is amply supplied with night.

What do we need to be warned about? We each have our little triggers.

I first encountered the phrase Trigger Warning on the Internet, where it existed primarily to warn people of links to images or ideas that could upset them and trigger flashbacks or anxiety or terror, in order that the images or ideas could be filtered out of a feed, or that the person reading could be mentally prepared before encountering them.

I was fascinated when I learned that trigger warnings had crossed the divide from the internet to the world of things you could touch. Several colleges, it was announced, were considering putting trigger warnings on works of literature, art or film, to warn students of what was waiting for them, an idea that I found myself simultaneously warming to (of course you want to let people who may be distressed that this might distress them) while at the same time being deeply troubled by it: when I wrote Sandman and it was being published as a monthly comic, it had a warning on each issue, telling the world it was Suggested for Mature Readers, which I thought was wise. It told potential readers that this was not a children’s comic and it might contain images or ideas that could be troubling, and also suggests that if you are mature (whatever that happens to means) you are on your own. As for what they would find that might disturb them, or shake them, or make them think something they had never thought before, I felt that that was their own look out. We are mature, we decide what we read or do not read.

But so much of what we read as adults should be read, I think, with no warnings or alerts beyond, perhaps: we need to find out what fiction is, what it means, to us, an experience that is going to be unlike anyone else’s experience of the story.

We build the stories in our heads. We take words, and we give them power, and we look out through other eyes, and we see, and experience, what they see. I wonder, Are fictions safe places? And then I ask myself, Should they be safe places? There are stories I read as a child I wished, once I had read them, that I had never encountered, because I was not ready for them and they upset me: stories which contained helplessness, in which people were embarrassed, or mutilated, in which adults were made vulnerable and parents could be of no assistance. They troubled me and haunted my nightmares and my daydreams, worried and upset me on profound levels, but they also taught me that, if I was going to read fiction, sometimes I would only know what my comfort zone was by leaving it; and now, as an adult, I would not erase the experience of having read them if I could.

There are still things that profoundly upset me when I encounter them, whether it’s on the web or the word or in the world. They never get easier, never stop my heart from trip-trapping, never let me escape, this time, unscathed. But they teach me things, and they open my eyes, and if they hurt, they hurt in ways that make me think and grow and change.

I wondered, reading about the college discussions, whether, one day, people would put a trigger warning on my fiction. I wondered whether or not they would be justified in doing it. And then I decided to do it first.

There are things in this book, as in life, that might upset you. There is death and pain in here, tears and discomfort, violence of all kinds, cruelty, even abuse. There is kindness, too, I hope, sometimes. Even a handful of happy endings. (Few stories end unhappily for all participants, after all.) And there’s more than that: I know a lady called Rocky who is upset by tentacles, and who genuinely needs warnings for things that have tentacles in them, especially tentacles with suckers, and who, confronted with an unexpected squid or octopus, will dive, shaking, behind the nearest sofa. There is an enormous tentacle somewhere in these pages.

Many of those stories end badly for at least one of the people in them. Consider yourself warned.

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

Buy it now Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

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Review: Rome’s Chance by Joanna Wylde

While this is a novella, I in no way felt gypped. I’ve read this entire series and, even if I didn’t, this can be read as a standalone. Rome’s Chance gives you a glimpse into the world of the Reapers and the reason they’re a family.

Randi has come home to take care of her brother and sister, and the last thing she wants or needs is to be caught up in Rome’s web again. She has enough on her plate without getting pulled away in a romance. A romance that left her heartbroken in the past. But the more time she spends here the more time she’s presented with the possibility of Rome.

This second chance romance was sweet in all the right places. Watching Rome and Randi circle each other was right up my alley. He knew she was the forever girl in his life, but she needed a little convincing. So while we get some heartaches and some sexy times, he pulls out all the stops in making Randi realize what his heart already knows.

I love the 1,001 Dark Nights series, in that they give yo a taste and let you decide if you want to jump into a series. This book was the perfect jumping point. If you lie MC books, then give this story a chance. You can thank me later.

~Melpomene

Buy Rome’s Chance https://amzn.to/2F6MseM

Review: The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

luckiest-girl-alive-9781476789637Most of the time, when I finish a book I’m able to talk about it right away. But every now and then a book comes along that makes me hesitate, sit back and think about it a bit. This debut novel by Jessica Knoll is one of those books.

Meet Ani. She’s a young women living in New York, not yet thirty and already an established contributor to The Women’s Magazine. She’s the epitome of success. Ani knows how to dress, how to walk and talk, how to order at a restaurant. And she’s engaged. Not just any average Joe will do. Luke comes from old money, a well-to-do and highly respected family. He’s her ticket to security. Does she love him? Does it even matter?

But Ani is hiding a secret from most of the world. Something from her past has come back to tarnish the image she’s worked so hard to cultivate. Everyone thinks they know what happened when she was a student at the prestigious Bradley School, but now it’s time for Ani to tell her side of the story.

I’m the first to admit, it took me more than my typical 10% to get into this story. Even after 20%, I was still skeptical. But I knew, just felt even, that something was going to happen to make it worth my while. So I stuck with it. And I’m glad I did. Because it paid off.

This is a dark, sarcastic, humorous, witty story. There’s a depressing sadness that comes from finally hearing what happened to Ani. But at the same time, she’s not always a very likable character. She’s kind of mean, biting, cruel even. Once you hear her story, however, you understand. And you find yourself pulling for her, even cheering her on as the story reaches its ending. It’s a story that I think will leave people pondering for a bit, wondering about what they just read. And it’s a book that I believe people will recommend to others, just like I’m now recommending it to you!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel

Review: Cocktails in Chelsea by Nikki Moore



If you like chick lit, this is a perfect lunchtime read. One hour of fun-filled romantic tension, with relatable main characters and a setting that holds your interest. The alpha male has personality, tenderness, and toughness. Sofia’s efforts to impress provide some laughs, and her eventual return to “herself” warms the heart. 

Cocktails in Chelsea grabbed me right out of reality for a while, ordering cocktails in a posh bar, and falling in like at first sight with a guy who’s much more than the bartender. 

-calliope

Only 99¢!!!

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Review: The Prince by Sylvain Reynard

01prince Well now. That was a quick little glimpse into a new series, and I think I’m gonna like it. I think I’m gonna like it a lot.

SYNOPSIS
The unveiling of a set of priceless illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy at the Uffizi Gallery exposes the unsuspecting Professor Gabriel Emerson and his beloved wife, Julianne, to a mysterious and dangerous enemy.

Unbeknownst to the Professor, the illustrations he secretly acquired years ago were stolen a century earlier from the ruler of Florence’s underworld. Now one of the most dangerous beings in Italy is determined to reclaim his prized artwork and exact revenge on the Emersons, but not before he uncovers something disturbing about Julianne …

Set in the city of Florence, “The Prince” is a prequel novella to “The Raven,” which is the first book in the new Florentine Series Trilogy by Sylvain Reynard.

“The Prince” can be read as a standalone but readers of The Gabriel Series may be curious about the connection between The Professor’s world and the dark, secret underworld of “The Prince.”

I remember seeing this character in Gabriel’s Redemption and he seemed “otherworldly” to me. So when this new series was announced, and it was said to be a sort of spin off, I knew EXACTLY who it was going to be about. Now, you don’t need to read the Gabriel’s Inferno series, to read this. But, personally, to get the full experience, I highly recommend that you do. You can thank me later.

I was mesmerized by how this Prince was intrigued with the Emersons. Well, mostly he wanted to kill the professor. But seeing a few scenes, from his eyes, made me fall for the Professor all over again, even if he’s a jerk sometimes. We see quite a few scenes with the Emersons, as he watches them and plans their demise.

But right when the Prince is ready to follow through with his plan, a new threat creeps into his city and now he must deal with this first.

I am so excited to read The Raven and find out what happens next. Part of me wants more of the professor, but then to see him means that the Prince is out to harm him. So maybe, I’m not in a rush to see him quite yet.

~Melpomene

EXCERPT
In the distance, the Prince could hear voices and muffled sounds.

He approached silently, almost floating across the floor.

Desperate groans and the rustling of fabric filled his ears, along with the twin sounds of rapidly beating hearts. He could smell their scents, the aromas heightened due to their sexual arousal.

He growled in reaction.

The corridor was shrouded in darkness but the Prince could see that the professor had his wife up against a window between two statues, her legs wrapped around his waist.

Her voice was breathy as she spoke, but the Prince tuned out her words, moving closer so he could catch a glimpse of her lovely face.

At the sight of it, flushed with passion, his old heart quickened and he felt the stirrings of arousal.

It was not his custom to observe rather than participate. But on this occasion, he decided to make an exception. Careful to remain in the darkness, he moved to the wall opposite the couple.

The woman squirmed in her lover’s arms, her high heels catching on his tuxedo jacket. Her fingers flew to his neck, undoing his bow tie and tossing it carelessly to the floor.

She unbuttoned his shirt, and her mouth moved to his chest, as murmurs of pleasure escaped his lips.

The Prince felt more than desire as he watched the woman’s eager movements. He caught a glimpse of her exquisite mouth and the toss of her long hair that would no doubt feel like silk between his fingers.

She lifted her head to smile at the man who held her close and he could see love in her eyes.

CLoRavenQuote

Pre-order The Prince
Release date 1-20-15
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Pre-order The Raven-Book 1 in The Florentine Series
Release date 2-3-15
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Prison Noir edited by Joyce Carol Oates

*1This is a collection of short stories edited by Joyce Carol Oates. The authors of the stories are all prisoners in the United States prison system.

If you’re a fan of short stories, this is well worth your time. If you’re not a huge fan of that genre but are interested in the correctional systems, again this is well worth your time.

Some of these stories are *really* good! They are so good that it is easy to forget that they were all written by inmates. Having said that, what the hell does that even mean? Like it is unheard of that an inmate can actually write….psssffffttttt…..

It really made me stop and think about society’s narrow-minded view…..about my own narrow mindedness….I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting when I started this book. What I expected the stories to be like….however, it wasn’t what I was expecting….

I can only be reminded of a line from Charlie Chaplin’s great dictator speech “You are not cattle. You are men.”

Yep…pretty much sums it up for me. Regardless of how they got there…or why they are there….Prisoners are not just numbers. They are not just some faceless shadow on a wall that we dare not look at….

These stories demand that we take a look at them….they demand that we look eye to eye….sure, you might not like what you see….if might not change your feelings one way or the other….but damnit…you will at least see them…..

Until next time…

Urania xx

ARC provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

Buy it now Prison Noir edited by Joyce Carol Oates

Review: Happenstance 2, by Jamie Mcguire

01hap

“There’s only one you.”

If you haven’t read the first Happenstance, you must go and do that now. I can wait….

Done? Good.

Erin is trying to still work through all of the information she has received, while living with her real parents. Having caring and attentive parents is something she has never had, so it’s hard for her to adjust. She just wants love, not things. But she is slowly growing closer to her real parents, while still battling the bullies at school, who don’t seem to care who she really is.

Weston is still her constant, throughout all of this. He will take one anyone who chooses to cause her trouble. But soon she makes a discovery that may change the way she looks at him and the way she looks at herself. As if her life hasn’t been flipped upside down already.

“She doesn’t need us to fix this for her. We’ll just love her through it.”

This was a nice little story. I can’t to see how she handles this information she has been given, in the next book. Thank God she has loyal parents, who would give her the moon if they could, and her boyfriend, who would wrestle dragons.

~Melpomene

Buy Happenstance: A Novella Series (Part Two)

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