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: A Duke Like No Other by Valerie Bowman

Y’all!! I just finished this book and now have a stupid grin on my face. What a fun story this was. It’s part of the Playful Brides series, so if that’s any indication…

Mark and Nicole haven” seen each other in 10 years. To say they had a bit of a falling out, after they got married, would be an understatement. Lots of hurt feelings and misunderstandings kept them apart. But now, they need each other. Him, for work. In order to get the promotion he’s been working for, they want a family man in the position. So he needs Nicole to come back and play the loving wife. As for her, after 10 years alone, she’ll come and help him, but only if he helps her. And what she wants is a baby. A legitimate baby.

So essentially, they’re already together, but they’re really not. This reconciliation was not without heartache and sorrow, but it had an underlying of love. It was hard, I’ll admit, watching these two circle one another. They both had past hurts, but together they can heal from them.

I’ve only read one other book from this series, but I am definitely going back and reading them. We see a few people pop in, and I’m sure they’re from the series, and I liked the way they interacted with each other. They weren’t just co-workers, they were friends. They made quite an impression on me and I look forward to reading how they found love. I bet it’ll be just has fun.

~Melpomene

Buy A Duke Like No Other https://amzn.to/2IfwkcD

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: Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach

If you can put the “gross factor” out of your mind this is absolutely fascinating. I liked it so much more than “Stiff”. I loved “Stiff” at the start but soon found myself loosing interest and felt it a bit long drawn. With Gulp I was sad to see it end. I wanted more! All I will say is that having read this I am sure I shall never ever ever use another tablet of alka seltzer.

As in the past, Mary Roach proves herself to be very funny and her curiosity knows no bounds. She doesn’t hesitate to show and share her excitement no matter the subject. No question she can dream up is too embarrassing for her to ask. I can’t imagine what a nightmare she was to her mother growing up (hahahaha, I mean that in the best way possible).

Just keep in mind that they book is aptly named “Gulp” but what goes in must come out as well (or else there are lots of problems!) and this book goes into great detail on both processes! Having said that, don’t let that put you off…this really was fascinating, and quite funny at times as well…and I bet you have at least one jaw dropping “Whoaaaaaa” moment as well!

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach

Quick review: Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington

I haven’t read a single contemporary YA in over four months. So this story was like a breath a fresh air. A nice change a pace. A second chance romance with music intertwined throughout it. In fact my heart was all a flutter.

After breaking her heart two years ago, Virginia(Vee) and Cam will be spending the summer, along with their friends, in a bus touring for a band contest/reality show. What could go wrong?

After having her heart broken two years ago, Virginia(Vee), will be spending the summer touring the country, for a rock band/reality show, in a bus filled with her friends, and Cam. Cam, the one who did the breaking of her heart. Cam, the reason she moved away, is now going to be a bed away from her for three months. What’s a girl to do?

This book alternates between the past and current while showing you what went wrong in the past and how it affected the future. Lots of secrets and heartaches. But with love at the center of it.

Since I’m an adult, most of the time, I could see what was happening before they did. I wanted to reach in and bonk their heads together. They needed to share their pain, not hold it inside. If you can’t be truthful to the one you love, you must not love them completely. Cam lived through something horrific and held on to it, not sharing, until it was too much for Vee. And without sharing that, he kept a piece of him from her and it festered.

But when these two finally were forced to confront their demons, the light shined down upon them. The heavens opened up. The angels sang the Hallelujah chorus. OK, I’m being dramatic. Channeling my inner dramatic 20-something self. All in all, when these two finally opened up, all was well in their world. They could move forward together.

~Melpomene

Grab Love Songs & Other Lies https://amzn.to/2F7CPMI

Quick review: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Not enough stars!! When I first saw this cover, I knew I had to read it. I didn’t even care what it was about. I just knew that I needed it. And let me tell you, I am so glad I did. I just finished this and now I’m sitting here with a big dorky smile on my face. Such a good book. Exciting and adventurous. Romantic and sweet. It’s just like Amazon said, Wonder Woman meets Vikings. I am dying to listen to the audible. I bet it’s gonna be just as amazing.

Eelyn is a warrior. Raised to believe the Riki are enemies. But when she’s captured and enslaved by them, she comes to the realization that they aren’t much different than her own clan. In fact, she learns that if they’re being honest, they have a common goal, and sets out to show them that. There are a few surprises for her and us, but it makes the story that much more exciting.

I loved the romance weaved throughout this. It’s very subtle. I wondered if there was even going to be a romance, and amazingly I was okay if there wasn’t. I was that hooked. But when it showed up, I was super happy. All stories need a little love.

There’s so much I wanna say, but I’ll let you read it and enjoy it for yourself. But the best part is that it’s a standalone! This wonderful story is all wrapped up in one spectacular package. It’s also going on my YA list. The teens in my life will love this. I can’t wait till my daughter reads this book. She’s gonna love it. LOVE IT. Ax and knife throwing is a hobby of hers.

This is Adrienne Young’s debut and I’m telling you, I found a new author to obsess over. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next.

Melpomene

Buy Sky in the Deep https://amzn.to/2Hm7rvZ

Review: Gun Love by Jennifer Clement

Sometimes the most unusual stories are the ones that you most enjoy. And that was the case for me with this one. It’s odd, but in an intriguing way. Part commentary on the state of guns in America, but also a reflection of social divisions, it’s one young girl’s tale of living life on the fringe of mainstream society.

Pearl and her mother are homeless. Have been for as long as Pearl can remember. Well, technically they’re homeless. They do have a very large car to live in. Parked outside a trailer park in Florida, it holds everything they own in the world.

During Pearl’s young life she’s witnessed far too much. All around her she sees poverty and deceit and crime. Oh and the guns. They’re everywhere. Her relationships, and some friendships, with the residents of the trailer part are very much entwined with the presence of guns. There’s no way this kind of a story can have a happy ending.

This is a very different kind of story. It’s lyrical with beautiful language throughout. Farfetched and improbable? Maybe. But most stories are.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Gun Love