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 Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

How does one review this book? Looking at near 250k ratings and over 10k reviews on Goodreads.com I reckon I don’t have to. However, you all know I’m a glutton for punishment so I will say a few words…

With all the foreshadowing in the first 100 pages of the book you can pretty much figure out how it’s to end…you might even think you know the whys. I mean it’s all there…however, as in life, this book demonstrates that it’s all in the details…and in perhaps what is never said as well…

This book made me laugh out loud in more than a few places. It’s a wonderful telling about two boys growing up. How they help one another in ways that they are unable to even ask for. I found at times I was a bit irritated with the back and forth of the memories. The 1st person narrator would have a memory and then the novel would go back in time to expand on that memory. As the novel progressed and I became used to this, it really proved interesting. Especially since many of the memories were reminisced over a few times. Experiencing something vs looking back at a memory vs looking back at a memory after a traumatic event can all be very different experiences for the same person. “After the fact” we can all imagine how things might have been different if we had picked up on the clues we were given.

I should note that this is a novel full of wonderful secondary characters. Some of them truly do help make this an extraordinary read.

I admit, Owen really annoyed me during much of the novel…however, some part of me thinks that’s part of the point.

I also leave myself wondering how different Johnny would be if Owen was still his best mate living down the street. Or if Owen hadn’t thrown that ball…

Finally, I have to say that at times I might have wished greatly that this book would just move along faster. The slow pace was just as annoying as Owen was. Reading this book really was a test of my discipline. Some novels are just like that for me…My reward wasn’t the ending….it was all the time spent with so many wonderful characters, getting to know them in a way that just wouldn’t have been possible if the novel was written any other way…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Review: Dignity by Jay Crownover

Can I just start off my saying that guys with glasses are sexy? They really are. When I read the dedication, I knew I was going to like this book. I may be a little biased but I don’t care. To me, glasses make the characters more real. I can’t explain it, but they do.

I started Dignity right on the heels of the previous book, Honor, and I’m so thankful I didn’t have to wait. I was rather jittery and anxious and I needed to know what was happening. From the very first chapter, I had this nervousness that I couldn’t shake. Noe and Stark were complete opposites, and yet, they were the perfect match. I needed them together. When we saw their first interaction, in Honor, I knew there was going to be something. But when he told her he wouldn’t help her, I wanted to reach in and shake him. His stone heart needed to be softened and this girl was the perfect girl to do it. And then he realized I was right, but it was too late. Now he has to find her and pray that she’s in one piece, so he can prove to her that he needs her.

I liked Noe. Her life sucked. Completely and totally sucked. Her past has shaped her and made her hard. She is fine on her own. She doesn’t need anyone. But when she asked Stark for help, that took so much out of her. I feared that if she ever got away, she wouldn’t get past that hurt.

Stark has been a robot for quite sometime now. No heart, all business. But when he finds that perfect girl, there is nothing anyone can do to stop him from moving mountains to protect her from harm. I loved seeing these two together. They were hot, I’ll just say that. Their chemistry was off the charts.

I knew what it was like to be hungry, so hungry you thought you might starve. When you finally got a bit, no matter how big or small it was, you inhaled it like you might never eat again.

This world is full of anti heroes, which I find are the best heroes. Noe and Stark set out on a mission to rid the town of utter trash that is infecting their world in a disgusting way. They don’t hold anything back. They will whatever it takes to make the Point into the city they want it to be. With the help of many of The Point’s resident heroes, they will move on from their pasts and create a future that is clear and bright. And in doing so, they find a way to be together and realize that they need each other more than they ever thought. They make a great team.

I find this dark and twisty world fascinating and I am rather intrigued as to what the future holds for them.

~Melpomene

Buy Dignity(The Breaking Point #2) http://amzn.to/2yaJeqa
Buy Honor(The Breaking Point #1) http://amzn.to/2xu9xEc

Review: Honor by Jay Crownover

I am kicking myself for waiting so long to read this book. I’ve read everything Jay’s written and yet, for some insane reason, I held off on this one. I think my brain knew the next book was coming out in October, so it made me wait. Yes, let’s go with that.

When I read the introduction, I was immediately nervous. Will I like Nassir? Will he be too damaged to change? Then I read the prologue. And let me tell you, anyone can change, if they have the right motivation. Is Nassir perfect? Nope. He’s what you’d call an anti-hero. He may make you cringe at his methods of doing things, but he does them for the right reasons. He’s just a little more extreme than most. But when he meets Keelyn “Honor”, everything changes for him.

I loved these two together. After being shot in the previous book, she fought to stay away from Nassir, thinking that’s what was best for her. She had a rough life and wanted peace. But she was so wrong. When she finally accepts him, and what he offers her, there’s no backing away. These two were connected from the very first moment they laid eyes on each other. Rather intense, if you ask me. My heart was racing quite a bit during this book. Intense may actually be a mild for how they are together. Explosive. That’s better.

Nassir and Key may be one of my favorite Crownover couples. I love the crazy love and crazy atmosphere they live in. Definitely kept me on my toes and had me reading slow, so I could savor it all. This world they live in is rough and unkind, but they make it work. I am super excited to read the next one! I bet it’s going to be even crazier. You don’t need to read the previous Point books to fully enjoy this one. But I still recommend you do, since the characters pop up in here and Nassir is in those ones as well.

~Melpomene

Grab Honor HERE

Review The Girl in the Castle by Santa Montefiore

30370990My first Monteflore book and it wasn’t at all what I expected. I excepted a light read that would entertain me for a bit and then leave me quickly…

Instead I’ve falling in love with Ireland…a country I’ve never seen. I can’t say I really enjoyed the characters. I can’t say I didn’t either. There was love, hate, and anger for all. However, I take that as a sign of a really fantastic writer. The characters were real to me.

If I have one compliant it’s that this is labeled as a series. I don’t mind series. However, it really shouldn’t be labeled as such. I imagined it would be a story that was wrapped up for certain characters and then continued with new characters the next installment. Or perhaps focused on one character and then another the next novel….instead the reader is left with not just a cliffhanger…they are left with NO ANSWERS at all. Not one storyline was wrapped up. Honestly, I’m not even sure what to label this? An installment? Yes, I am disappointed. If you want me to read a beautiful story and I invest my time then at least give me something…Of course I’ve read books that had cliffhangers….but there was at least some closure…there was none here…it just seemed to stop in mid breath…and now I am left here…sad and lonely…and waiting…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Review copy provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

Buy your copy now The Girl in the Castle by Santa Montefiore

Review: The Fireman by Joe Hill

25816688** spoiler alert ** This book started out fantastic! I mean I seriously loved every single minute of it! Then I hit the 60% or so mark. It was all downhill from there. The camp, the items that went missing, the tension between the players…all of that was fantastic. However, somewhere along the way Hill seemed to get lost. For starters, where did the love interest between two main characters come from? I mean, we saw the Fireman at the start…and then he just kinda disappeared for a good portion of the book…then when he reappeared there was this relationship that was going on…there just wasn’t a foundation for it. I also have to say that the husband and wife thing…it really pissed me off…it was so cliche…she was madly in love with him…then he turned on her….then she realised that she hadn’t loved him for years and he had never really loved her. Seriously? Like THAT’S never been done before in a book. Stuff like that really pisses me off…but regardless of that, I tried to ignore that let down and got on with enjoying the book…but then we have the whole no relationship thing until in a blink of an eye we have a serious relationship thing….no….I don’t like it when I feel an author is taking me for granted and expecting me to suspend reality…

The storyline was fine…I was even excited about the thief and who it turned out to be…

Then we have the escape…and wham bam….the author expects me to suspend reality again and believe all these miracle close calls…

Yep…there will be a second book…and the Fireman will be the lead (without even being in the majority of the book again, I bet) once again…

Joe Hill, I love your writing…NOS4A2 was simply amazing…it kept me up at night…this one? I was just well and truly gutted that a book that started out so fantastic just took an easy way out at the end…It totally seemed that Joe Hill was simply writing to finish the book and not to finish the story…

Until next time…

Urania xx

ARC provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

Buy it now The Fireman by Joe Hill

Review: Charged by Jay Crownover

01 ab1 “Some of us are born into a storm and some of us are born to chase after it.”

I really enjoyed where Jay went with Avett’s story. We’ve seen bits and pieces of her before, and none of it was really good. She’s a trouble maker, and she knows it, but she has a hard time stopping. But when she makes an EPIC mistake and lands herself in jail, she realizes that she needs to make a change before something really bad happens to those she loves.

Enter Quaid Jackson. He’s been called in to be this little pink haired spitfire’s lawyer and he has no idea what he’s in for. At first, all he sees is the crazy hair and sassy mouth, but the more he talks to her, the more he realizes that she’s totally different from his first impression. She doesn’t want to put anyone out. She takes full blame for her past and wants to do anything she can to clear her name.

The chemistry between Quaid and Avett was undeniable. They say opposites attract and, if you look at the surface, these two totally did.

That girl…there was just something about her. She made you want to help her, to heal her, to protect her, even as she blindly chased after the very things that would hurt her, the things that would leave wounds on her body, mind, and soul.

Quaid is this super flashy lawyer, but if you look deep enough there’s a lot more to him. I think that’s why he was drawn to Avett. She’s this little pixie of a girl, who doesn’t care about all his flashy things. But at the same time, she thinks that they won’t work, due to the very different worlds they come from. I wanted to smack both of them, at some point. It’s not about what you have on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that matters. They needed to work on that.

I really liked Avett. She’s young and stupid, but she’s real. She makes mistakes and owns them. I like that Quaid takes her for her. The road isn’t smooth for these two but no one ever life was easy.

This book had a few heart stopping moments and quite a few swoon worthy ones as well. Very swoon worthy. I completely enjoyed this book. There’s also a few side characters I wouldn’t mind seeing books about either. In fact, I may be willing to beg for them.

In conclusion, I just gotta say this, pink haired girls are cool. I may be partial, but it’s true.

~Melpomene

Buy Charged

Read an excerpt here:

Quaid
I tapped the edge of my thumb on the black-and-white mug shot photo and couldn’t stop the grin from tugging at my mouth.
She tried to fire me.
She was five-foot-nothing, a lifetime younger than me, had multicolored hair that had seen better days, wild eyes that couldn’t decide if they wanted to be green, gold, or brown, while dressed in convict orange and obviously scared out of her ever loving mind, yet she still tried to fire me. If it had been any of my other clients—the cop accused of sexual battery, the frat boy accused of manslaughter over a bet on a football game gone wrong, the middle school teacher accused of pedophilia and having an inappropriate relationship with several of her students, or the pro football player accused of domestic abuse—I would have tipped my proverbial hat, wished them luck while I cut my losses, and walked away without a backward glance. People always committed crimes. People always needed a good defense, so it wasn’t like I was hurting for clients, but there was something about the girl. Something about the defiant tilt of her chin and the raw desperation in her tone when she begged me not to call her father.
“I don’t want your help. I don’t want anything from you.” She sounded like she meant it when she said it, but I figured she was too young and too scared to know exactly what she wanted or needed. Regardless, it was still refreshing to hear.
Everyone always wanted something from me and my help was usually the least of it.
I tapped the picture again, wondering why I found it so easy to believe that she really hadn’t been a part of the boyfriend’s plan to rob the bar. She wasn’t anyone’s idea of a model citizen and she had the shady track record to prove it. She was too young, and frankly too adorable, to have a file this thick. From what I could see, she had a set of parents always willing to ride to the rescue when she got herself into trouble. She looked like some kind of colorful woodland fairy from a Disney movie with her odd hair and delicate features. None of it added up, but the sincerity in her tone when she said she would never have gone with the boyfriend if she knew his intent and the fear in her eyes when I mentioned her father seemed genuine.
I learned long ago to treat everyone like they were guilty of whatever it was I was paid to defend them against. I didn’t want to know the truth. I didn’t want to know the circumstances. I wanted my clients to listen to me and let me do my job as I tried to convince the rest of the world they were innocent, regardless if they were or not. But this girl with her faded, rose colored hair and turbulent eyes oozed innocence through the cracks of a very guilty façade.
Because I was intrigued and actually believed the girl might be innocent, I wasn’t going to let her fire me. I was going to call her father and hope that he would help me keep her out of the slammer while I figured out how to plea bargain her charges down or get them dismissed altogether. Again, because a cop was involved in the robbery and because the boyfriend, junkie or not, was offering up a pretty plausible explanation for Avett’s involvement in the crime, nothing was a slam dunk, yet. I was going to help her whether she wanted me to or not.