Helen, the Hermit

Dammit, Interwebz (light mention of triggery issues)

I just came back to blogosphere and first I'm hit with Gamergate (BTW, just escalated to goading a person with history of suicide attempts to attempt one again) and then, after a few weeks, an author one-ups the "waah ebul feminazis want to take away our boobz" crowd and skips directly to showing up on the reviewer's doorstep unannounced.


Oh, and there is reviewer conspiracy theory author and "just looking at child porn is not crime if you never touched one" author, too. I'm just too horrified by actual life-threatening situation going on unpunished to focus on them.

When Authors Go Off the Deep End: John Grisham, Kathleen Hale and Margo Howard #WTFCKERY

Apparently, there's something in the water cooler.

Author Stalks Reader - IRL

Author shows up at reader's house: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/oct/18/am-i-being-catfished-an-author-confronts-her-number-one-online-critic


Author has family ties: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/fashion/nathaniel-and-simon-the-brothers-rich.html


Petition for increasing privacy on Goodreads: https://www.change.org/p/goodreads-com-safety-first-improve-privacy-settings-for-reviewers


We'll see how Harper Collins will react, but a boycott might be necessary. (See "family ties") entry.


This might be unrelated, but: author also finds tormenting her pets funny (obvs triggers): https://medium.com/profiles-in-courage/catch-me-if-you-can-aspca-777a7d4031e9


Sources: https://www.goodreads.com/comment/index/108042273?page=127&ref=ru_lihp_cm_tp_25_mclk&subject=1499741&uid=1945083450#comment_107959175

(and on from there)

Spare Ammo via Big Beardy Bloke Buried By Books


Spread the word.




Petition to Goodreads: Safety First - Improve Privacy Options For Reviewers!

Signal boosting from Big Beardy Bloke Buried By Books


Sign & pass it along! 

Source: http://archerreads.booklikes.com/post/1022026/petition-to-goodreads-safety-first-improve-privacy-options-for-reviewers

Just a short status update

If anyone has been wondering where I've disappeared...the answer is "real life". I've still been reading, but I haven't gotten around to writing the reviews. Yes, I also stopped "30 day book challenge". I'll try to continue it in December, when the appropriate day comes up. But I'm not gone and probably won't be stopping permanently anytime soon - but there might be a hiatus every now and then.

Fondled and Gobbled: a parody

Fondled and Gobbled: Someone Had to Do It - Danica Avet, Lea Barrymire

Don't give me those looks. It was a freebie.


Five short stories poking fun at some of oft-used tropes in erotica and steamier romance.


I skipped all the "50 shades parody" books, but the story here is probably better than all of them. (And free!)


Note, however, the title: there is indeed not only oral, but some food-related humour. Nothing gross, but in case that linking the food and sex squicks you in any way, better skip this.

Smell of Books

"Does your Kindle leave you feeling like there’s something missing from your reading experience?

Have you been avoiding e-books because they just don’t smell right?"


"When was the last time an e-book made you sneeze? Probably never."


"Do you love the fresh scent of paper, ink, and glue? We sure do!"


"Eau, You Have Cats

Specially engineered from the concentrated aromas of 20,000 second-hand books. This special scent is guaranteed to please animal lovers and avid book collectors alike. It’s just like borrowing a book from grandma’s house."


"Smell of Books™ is compatible with a wide range of e-reading devices and e-book formats and is 100% DRM-compatible."


I know I should be rolling my eyes at the cheap marketing ploy, but it's just too funny.

A Postmodern Belch, First Impressions:

A Postmodern Belch - M.J. Nicholls

Disclaimer: The poster is tipsy (again). The poster would also like to apologise for lack of 30 Day Book Challenge posts, real life happened.


This book came in my post today.


1) It's bigger than I thought it would be.


2) I just came back from a colleague's farewell party and decided to crack it open for whatever reason. I won't deny that I was wary, but...while my current alcohol level might be helping, the first thing I saw was the obvious criticism of the standard writing norms, which I'm a great opponent of, so I kind of want to squeal loud right now. No more reading tonight (this morning?), but I think this book and I will get along.

30-Day Book Challenge: Day 16 - Favourite Female Character

Deathless - Catherynne M. Valente Dead Until Dark  - Charlaine Harris Equal Rites: A Novel of Discworld - Terry Pratchett Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez, Gregory Rabassa

Favourite Heroine: Marya Morevna. She might not swing swords, but she has more agency than 99% of action girls. She lives her life according to her own wishes. She doesn't have any great qualities, but neither does she have any crippling flaws. She is just a person.


Favourite Guilty Pleasure Heroine: Sookie Stackhouse. Sure, she follows a certain template, but she stands out from other UF heroines, at least for me. She has personality. Yes, she makes mistakes, but I'd like to see you in her place. While I get how she might not be everyone's cup of tea, some of the hatred frankly baffles me. Particularly since it seems to be based on stuff like "her atrocious taste in clothes", and often pleasantries are skipped and we get to the bottom line: "white trash". So? Classist much?


Favourite Antiheroine: Esmerelda Weatherwax, a powerful witch and the voice of common sense. She is so good at psychological manipulations (headology), she barely even needs to use any magic.


Favourite Villainess: Dolores Umbridge. Seldom has there been a character so loathed. I think someone is more likely to write a fanfic about how Hitler was misunderstood than about how Dolores Umbridge was misunderstood. Many put Voldemort on their villain list, but I was never too impressed. Voldemort is so over the top, he could exist only in fictiion. Umbridges are in your governments, drafting laws that will hurt you.


Favourite Classical Character: I love all female characters of One Hundred Years of Solitude, but if I had to pick one, I'd pick Amaranta. Why? Well, I was born a forty-plus spinster and have already developed enough cynicism in my early teens, when I read the book, to see myself in the virgin until death.

30-Day Book Challenge: Day 15 - Favourite Male Character

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien, Ted Nasmith,  Christopher Tolkien Dissolution (Forgotten Realms: War of the Spider Queen, #1) - Richard Lee Byers Hamlet - William Shakespeare

Back to "pick your favourite child" type again, are we? *grumble*


Favourite Hero In Common Sense Of The Word: Harry Potter. He somehow stands apart from most of the lot. Maybe because he isn't easy to self-insert yourself into.


Favourite Unsung Hero: Samwise Gamgee is often overlooked. The movies didn't help. I mean, he was only going to hell and back out of loyalty. (The true friendship developed gradually.) And really, what would have become of Frodo without him?


Favourite Byronic Hero: Feanor. a) He more or less single-handedly debunks all misconceptions of Tolkien as naive, playing it safe, being able to see only in black and white, and pushing Merrie Olde England agenda. b) He is a character rarely seen in modern literature, firmly rooted in old Nordic and Anglo-Saxon epics. In fact, I haven't seen a character like him in modern genre literature, particularly not in fantasy. I said it a thousand times, but I have to again: fantasy writers are borrowing the wrong things from The Professor.


Favourite Villain: Gromph Baenre. And I bet 99% of you haven't even heard of him. What Gromph is, is smart. A friend and I had a theory that it's possible he wrote the Evil Overlord List - naturally, leaving the most important things out. He is not a cackling villain for villainy's sake; he lives in an evil society, and he belongs to the group that is subservient by default. But while he has a cause, that doesn't make him sympathetic: he is excessively cruel even by his people's standards. On the other hand, he is able to keep still and not let out a sound while his eyes are being eaten. I say "villain", but don't get me wrong, he is never pitted against any heroes - because there is no plausible way anyone could make your average bunch of adventurers defeat him. He has contigency plans for contigency plans.


Favourite Classical Character: Hamlet. I used to have a crush on him when I was a teen. Don't ask.

[REBLOG]Badly Behaving Social Network Breaks Own Cardinal Rule: NEVER Delete a Book

Goodreads has one rule above all others:


NEVER delete a unique book from the database. No matter what, especially if it's been shelved and reviewed.


They broke their own rule.


(Click image to enlarge)


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Source: http://amyorames.booklikes.com/post/615597/post
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30-Day Book Challenge: Day 14 - Book Turned Movie and Completely Desecrated

The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes -  Arthur Conan Doyle The Hobbit -

AKA The Entry You'll Hate Me For:


Well, it's hardly a surprise that I wasn't fond of the interpretation of one of my favourite books. I will say, however, that I liked The Fellowship of the Ring well enough, and didn't really have complaints. Still, when asked, I told people "you won't get it if you haven't read the book". Well, they did "get it", but they got something different. To me, the spirit of the work I loved was lacking, and the movie was nothing but the pretty visual interpretation.


My problems came with The Two Towers and its multiple accounts of character assasination and forced formula love triangle - and, frankly, bad editing IMO. Which caused me to skip Return of the King in cinemas, and was only able to bring myself to see it on DVD years later. I'm not sad I did this. I get that sometimes, changes have to be made. But while I understand the cuts, I didn't think there was need for the alterations. They have no reason to exist except that PJ dares not deviate from the formula. Many quote Denethor and Faramir, but in my opinion, "kind as summer" despite all the crap that happened in his life Elrond is just as wronged. Same with diminishing the strength of Aragorn's and Arwen's love because we needed a love triangle and some angst.


Then 2009 Sherlock Holmes movie came and the cover looked interesting. I almost bought the DVD, but was a poor student at the time. Meager budget saved me from rage at myself. I rented it later, but it took a while until I was able to see it in the entirety. It took Rifftrax.


Which is more surprising, because I did see some loosely-based-on-Holmes stuff before, and I liked it well enough. What enraged me here?

1) The fact that it was marketed as "a very faithful interpretation".

2) Irene Adler AKA my Berserk Button. GR got trumped by Moff in shameful treatment of her character, but it makes his sin no lesser.

3) The fact that you could have changed the names and marketed it as an action movie, and few would notice it was based on Sherlock Holmes.

4) The relationship with Watson, one of the key elements, has nothing in common with the original whatsoever. In the movie, Watson punches Holmes.


But I still had no idea how bad could it be.


I didn't know whether I wanted to see The Hobbit or not. I ended up going in with very low expectations.


My low expectations were very optimistic.




I could deal with maybe two movies being necessary, but not three, and definitely not three movies that are three hours in length.


Why did this happen? I suspect PJ is trying to outdo himself.


The thing is, he isn't that talented. He has an eye for imagery and action scenes. That's all. What is good in the script comes from the original work. His staples are cheap and hacktastic:

-comic relief

-action, action, action

-an angsty scene

-action, action, action

-comic relief

-action...you get the point.


The first Hobbit movie was like entire Die Hard series condensed in one movie, with swords instead of guns. Stakes are set too high, and there are too many of them. Why did we need Azog and a reason for Thorin to dislike Thranduil? Particularly since we already established in LotR that Dwarves and Elves are not fans of each other. And they didn't wait with (unnecessary) character assasination.


And then I read an article about Tauriel.


 “Tauriel is the head of the Elven Guard,” Lilly explains. “She’s a Sylvan Elf, which means she’s of a much lower order than the elves we all became acquainted with in The Lord of the Rings. She doesn’t hold the same kind of status that Arwen or Galadriel or Elrond or Legolas do — she’s much more lowly. She sort of goes against the social order of the elves a little bit.”

Tauriel isn’t only a fierce warrior; she has a softer side, too. “She will definitely have a love story,” Lilly says. “I can’t give away too much about it. It’s not a huge focus but it is there and it is important and it does drive Tauriel and her story and her actions.” Will that romance involve Orlando Bloom’s Legolas, by any chance? Lilly won’t say definitively one way or the other, but she does offer this much: “Tauriel’s relationship with Legolas is significant. They’ve known each other since they were children, and Legolas’ dad, [Elven king] Thranduil, has a soft spot for Tauriel and sees something very special in her. So if you grow up side by side, and your dad has a very special spot in his heart for this young woman who’s a fantastic warrior, I think it’s hard not to notice her.” She laughs. “That’s probably as much as I can say.”


Everyone who's read The Silmarillion is screaming with me right now.


(I'm not blaming Lilly - she's saying what she was told about the character by the people who claim they have researched Tolkien's other writings when preparing for this movie. Heck, they didn't even have to read actual text, any Tolkien wiki can easily inform you about all the stuff they got completely wrong here.)


And before you cry "feminism", take a look again at the part about her love story being the driving force behind her actions and her entire story.  They could have just shown the Mirkwood guard containing more than one Elleth. With Tauriel as the head, why not? But sans the love story and very Mary Sue-ish background. (Though I would change the hair colour too. Red hair on Elves has kind of unfortunate implications in ME.)


Safe to say, I'll be waiting until the DVDs come with huge discount.


ETA: I completely for got to mention that "The 1944 version" of LotR is way better than anything PJ could conceive. You can watch it here.

30-Day Book Challenge: Day 13 - Your Favorite Writer

The Hobbit - Time-Gifts (Writings from an Unbound Europe) - Zoran Živković, Alice Copple-Tošić The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Susan L. Rattiner, Paul Negri, Constance Garnett The Bedbug - V.V. Mayakovsky The Slave Girl and Other Stories - Ivo Andrić, Zoran Milutinović, Radmila J. Gorup Hellblazer: Haunted - Warren Ellis, John Higgins

(Pictured: The first book I've read by each author on the list.)


It's only slightly better than "your favourite book" question. Still not cool.


I already talked about my "love at the first sight" affair with The Professor in my "most re-read book" entry. Naturally, he's on the list. If I really had to pick one, it would have probably been him. (Yes, I should probably feel ashamed of myself.)


Zoran Zivkovic is a writer few have heard of. But he's been translated. Genre-wise, he's usually put in "SF", but there is a lot of fantasy and metafiction there too. I haven't dared to read any of the translated works yet, so I can say nothing about the quality. (Actually, I think one of his short stories was in Fantasy: The Best of the Year, 2008 Edition  and it wasn't badly mangled, so maybe there's hope.) 


Oscar Wilde. I don't think this requires much explanation.


My father described Dostoyevsky as "horrible". (He didn't mean that he is a horrible writer, as in, of bad quality, but that reading his books was a horrifying experience for him.) So of course I just had to see why. And I fell in love.


Many quote Byron as that poet they might have fallen in love with if they met him in person despite knowing better, but for me, it's Vladimir Mayakovsky. As far as the quality goes, he's way higher than Byron on my scale. Don't be discouraged by the fact he was canonised by Stalin. He was there when the revolution was happening and, say what you will about the outcome, to the lower classes of the time it must have seemed more than justified. In fact, my first brush with Mayakovsky was The Bedbug, which was very obviously critical of the contemporary state of USSR. (The fact that they canonised Mayakovsky despite this speaks volumes about selective blindness.) Again, I'm afraid I cannot guarantee the quality of English translations.


I avoided the Nobel-winning Andric for a long time. He seemed so boring. But maybe it's better that I waited, because I probably wouldn't have been able to appreciate him before latter teens. I haven't read a thing of his that was poorly written.


My overall favourite comic writer is Warren Ellis. It's kind of difficult to put my finger on what is it I like so much about his work. I think it's the balance - while few particular elements stand out, they are all of equally good quality. Or maybe it's the humour. Or maybe that when he wants to relay the message, he isn't beating you over the head with it. He makes a gripping, witty story instead.


If this list was compiled ten years ago, Hesse would have been on it. While Steppenwolf still hold a special place in my heart, I'm not sure how I feel about the rest now. Similar happened with Pratchett and Gaiman, except their cutoff is at about five years ago. Somewhere along the way, the magic was lost. I still often read their books, but I'm not getting the warm, fuzzy feelings anymore - except when catching up to older Discworld books. On the other side of the spectrum, I disliked Anna Karenina, but I loved War and Peace, so Tolstoy, along with Proust, might be approaching the entry in "favourite author" list.

30-Day Book Challenge: Day 12 - A Book You Love But Hate At The Same Time

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Hapgood Translation, Unabridged) - Victor Hugo, Isabel F. Hapgood

Hmm...this one is difficult. I have a few guilty pleasures, yes. But the book this prompt best applies to is The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. I'm still reading it, but I think the sentiment will not change. When Hugo's good, he's good. Most notable examples being the psychology of the crowd, Quasimodo, and Frollo.


Then he climbs up on the soapbox to rave about how THEY RUINED EVERYTHING. ("Everything" being Gothic architecture.) No, I'm not exagerrating.


But another element I'm finding worse and worse with every visit is La Esmeralda. Yeah, yeah, male writers of olden times. But the thing is, I've read some of his French contemporaries and predecessors and none are quite this bad. (I'd even go as far to say they are relatively progressive.) The worst part is, there is this nagging feeling that it's not only the characters, but that Hugo is salivating too at the idea of an (miraculous) ingenue, somehow completely innocent despite her upbringing and surroundings, beautiful enough to make the loveliest young noblewomen jealous, unblemished despite harsh life, and the significance placed on her (extremely logic-defying) virginity is downright uncomfortable. She's also too stupid to live despite living among the criminals. Yeah right.

[Reblog] Latest Censorship News: Goodreads Can't Take Criticism, Badly Behaved Social Network?

Reviews are being deleted for being “potentially off-topic” – code for “being critical of GR” and for being “non-original content” despite permission given from original reviewers.



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Reblogged from Literary Ames

Current Status

While I'm not happy that new spoiler causes paragraph breaks, it will make the editing of old reviews easier. I still urge you not to look at any except those I linked in my 30-day challenge posts - they are clean.


I can't remember the last time blogging was this much fun. I'm going through some stressful things at work right now (had a minor breakdown, even), but I log on here and all's forgotten.


Let Mieville spew his self-righteous bile all he wants, JRRT had it right when he talked about escapism:


“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”

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