Sunday, September 30, 2018

50%


King's Warrior - Kris Kennedy

“Aye?” His voice was thick.
Her cheeks flamed. “Oh, aye. I thought…I thought you were going to…take me,” she finished in a rush, flushing.
One dark brow arched in silent reply, then he nodded toward her body, in front of which he still knelt, her gown still bunched against her belly, one of her knees still hooked over his shoulder. “I consider you taken,” he said, his voice roughened like a knot in silk.



Reading Update: 10%


King's Warrior - Kris Kennedy

The author gave a link to a youtube video of someone pronouncing the hero's name, Tadhg, and now I'm spiraling down an Irish people talking video hole. Not going to ask for help from this one, they're a little more lyrical than my mid-western accent, lol.

The link if you want to hear how Tadhg is pronounced (or at least how this person thinks it should be) - Youtube

Review: A View to a Kiss

A View to a Kiss A View to a Kiss by Caroline Linden
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“No, no! Don’t go.” She retreated to her bed as she spoke. “But why must I stay over here?”
“We hardly know each other, miss,” he said with affected affront. “Keep your distance, if you please.”
Mariah choked back a snort of laughter. “You’re afraid of me?”
“A wise man never underestimates a woman."


I enjoyed this one but the romance felt a bit insta with our hero kind of going all-in with the heroine from simple seeing her. The heroine is instantly intrigued with the hero but with the vast majority of their meetings taking place for only a couple minutes at a time in her bedroom at night, I didn't really believe in their life long connection. The heroine is the one who really pushes for them to be together but her infatuation had a twinge of rich girl rebellion for the wrong side of the tracks guy.

The mystery, our hero is a spy, was a bit muddled as the circle of spies and their leaders wasn't flushed out quite enough, I struggled in the beginning learning who was who and what was what. Half-way through it becomes decently clear who the villain is and in such a way I think our hero should quit his day job, he was missing the picture for too long.

My favorite part of this was the author's sneaking political commentary, the romance genre is the best at this. Had a different feel to it, probably due to its little older publishing date 2009, but the hero and heroine didn't have the amount and depth of interaction I typically hope for.

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Saturday, September 29, 2018

50%

A View to A Kiss - Caroline Linden
He was quiet for a long time, then spoke again, more seriously. “What is wicked, you ask? A great deal, I answer. To say a man may not vote if he isn’t wealthy enough, and yet still expect him to support the government that gives him no voice. To pass laws keeping the price of wheat high for the benefit of landowners, when people in the cities are starving for want of bread. To declare swaths of society immoral and indecent because they are poor, and then do nothing to help them out of poverty. All those things are much more wicked, to my mind, than anything you’ve done.”

Me thinks we have a Reformer hero

Reading Update: 30%


“Feeding her a meal or giving her a warm cloak won’t help. That won’t change the facts of her situation. She’s poor and young and already ruined. What would a meal do for her when she’ll be hungry again tomorrow?” He swept one hand through the air as if flinging something away. “Your offer is kindly meant, but it won’t help. No one person can help. It requires all men, and women, of decency to stand up for her. How noble can a man be if he allows people to starve to death a few streets from his own home and never makes the slightest effort to help? Your father cares for you and your health, but does he even know what other young women in London endure?”

Friday, September 28, 2018

Review: Bride of a Stranger

Bride of a Stranger Bride of a Stranger by Jennifer Blake
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read this for the Southern Gothic square for Halloween Bingo

“It’s a death gris-gris, and as its counterpart in the hands of the Voodooienne is unwrapped slowly, day by day, it is supposed to cause the cursed one to sicken and die by degrees."

This started off with so much promise but ultimately didn't deliver on delicious Gothic feel. We started off with a sheltered, innocent heroine who is swept away by a dark scarred hero to his on the edge of the bayou plantation. There we meet his at odds with mother, still wearing black for the death of his years long dead uncle, his maybe jealous vengeful cousin, a possible voodoo using maybe ex-mistress, a creepy overseer, a parental but maybe shady housekeeper, and a paralyzed unable to speak father. The red-herrings are all over the place.

The atmosphere was set nicely with descriptions of the bayou, heat, bugs, and general out in the middle of nowhere. There was a voodoo scene with the slaves performing a ritual that was kind of creepy but other than that, there wasn't enough played around with to make you wonder if the heroine was losing her mind or if the voodoo was real.

The heroine and hero basically spend no time together, which I thought was kind of odd, so you're not reading this for the romance aspect. There wasn't enough creepy, spooky feel for a Gothic either; the mystery has the heroine in bed for most of the book.

Helene, that arrogant, time-ravaged beauty, had been in love with her husband’s brother, so in love that ten years later she could still weep her heart out over a mask of his dead face. Her husband’s brother, a married man with a son, a man who was shot to death in a duel with his nephew, Helene’s one son!

I kind of got the feeling the author was going for a nothing proves more terrifying than family dynamics. I can't really dispute that.

The mystery could have been better if the heroine would have been able to move around more and the characters given more depth, basically this needed a higher page count as the basic storyline and atmospheric writing was there. The ending gave us a villain info-dump as to why and how that gave it super flop feel and red-herring characters simply deflated like balloons. I can't really recommend this one because the Gothic mystery and the romance was severely lacking, maybe if you like your heroines reclining in bed because of bruised ribs and possible poisonings and/or voodoo curses.
*I almost forgot to mention the jaguar! Yes, there is a jaguar that lurks around, two or three mentions but it is there, lol.

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Review: Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them

Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them by Jennifer Wright
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this for the Doomsday square for Halloween Bingo.

Previous Updates:

Antonine Plague

Bubonic Plague

Dancing Plague

Small Pox

Syphilis, Tuberculosis, and Cholera

Leprosy, Typhoid, and Spanish Flu


Encephalitis Lethargica

There is still no cure for EL, and its rise and subsequent disappearance is still regarded as something of a mystery.

I have heard of this before but only in the obscure and morbidly fascinating sense, think more horror movie than documentary. The unknown-ness of this one draws me and repels me away. Reading about how it affected people's personalities, bodily functions, and sent them into comas is frightening.

If you are interested in following a line of thought on interrelated diseases, though, some scientists today think that EL is related to streptococcal bacteria, so that’s a fun thing to consider when you get strep throat.

I have never heard and this and can I just say WHAT?!? Reading about how adult's showed after effects of Postencephalitic Parkinson’s disease which led them to L-dopa as a cure and how it initially worked, the woman waking up from a coma years later and thinking it was early 1940s when it was late 1960s, was wild. I think this "plague" was added to just scare the crap out of everyone as there is still no known cure but I guess it hasn't made any more appearances? This is one I'm going to have to investigate further because how freaking wild that it seems to suddenly appear in 1916 and disappear in 1920s. I guess I'd put my bet on Aliens.

Lobotomies

Somewhere between 60 and 80 percent of lobotomies were performed on women, despite a greater percentage of men being institutionalized.

This probably shouldn't have been included in a plague book but it is important to discuss, so I'll allow it. I'm against lobotomies, so I had no problem how the author discussed Freeman, the physician behind the start, procedure, and craze of them. The accounts of how he went about them, snipping here and there, until he got the desired amount of not quite comatose in patients, is horrifying and rage inducing.

A charismatic demagogue was elevated and trusted because he was captivating and because researching facts, as well as listening to dull doctors who have done their homework, is hard and time-consuming.

This quote, I can't tell you how much I feel this quote down into my soul right now. Reading about how women who were listed as menopausal or hysterical, by doctors that didn't even converse with them but rather their husbands and given over to Freeman for lobotomies had me fighting tears. This chapter was all about making sure there are committees, watchdogs, or the like in place to stop charismatic, mad medical field individuals from dazzling people with their "science".

Polio

Well, herd immunity works for most diseases only if about 80 to 90 percent of the population is vaccinated. With some diseases, like measles, a 95 percent vaccination rate is necessary.

Again, vaccinate your kids.

I have to say, I'm not sure I knew Polio came from contaminated water or food, kind of like typhoid. That is how well we eradicated it, I didn't even know what caused it! The author talked about live virus and killer virus vaccines and the rivalry between Salk and Sabin to get there. I've heard of Salk before because of how he used unwittingly mental health patients for clinical trials, which the author mentioned but after saying he should be considered close to a saint. I'm not quite there on him but I'm a grey shades person and as long as you mention the shitty aspects I don't have a problem stating all the good he also did. Seems wild in today's atmosphere of people dying because the price of their insulin is too much money that he didn't patent his vaccine but I'd like to read more on the legalities of if and how he could have.
My favorite part of this section was the focus on how representation matters and how FDR gave hope and pride to fellow Polio survivors.



Those who had AIDS survived because they, like Mr. Crumpton’s No Nose’d Club for syphilitics, founded groups like the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and ACT UP to fight for their right to live. They supported one another. They protested. They yelled. They made people extremely uncomfortable.

I'm not a scientist or in the medical field, so there was definitely new information for me to gain from reading this. I went in thinking this was going to be a drier, informative read but realized very early on that my expectations needed to be changed. This is more of a coffee table book where casual readers can just pick it up and learn some interesting facts that will either make them popular on trivia night or send them down a drier text reading rabbit hole.

The author has a sarcastic, pop culture heavy tone that could turn some people off as we discussing real horrible deaths but I'm a bit of a gallows humor gal myself, so except for a couple times, I wasn't put off or offended. I do think the pop culture references are going to date this and age it out of future circulation.

All in all, I learned some facts, was intrigued to research some, and enjoyed this more surface look into diseases. This book is not for experts in the field but the average person could definitely get something out of it. However, if you're an anti-vaxxer, you'd probably get huffy over the author's constant reminder that you should probably reevaluate your thinking (I completely agree with her).


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Monday, September 24, 2018

Menu Monday

I've just been rereading old favorites as I've been too busy to do much else, but the light at the end of the tunnel is there and next week I should be able to get back to Halloween Bingo and reading posts, basically existing on BLs again :)  Let me know if I missed anything too exiting or yummy!


Sweetcorn Soup with Chili


If I remember right, I got this recipe from BrokenTune, check her out if you're looking for some great soup recipes. I was a big fan of the broth with the spices, the chili veggie mix was tasty, I added some chili powder too. The cook time suggested didn't fully cook the potatoes, so they were raw and crunchy which was kind of weird. I'm not sure if that is the way it was supposed be or if I should have just added more time and cooked them fully. I'd definitely make this one again, the hardest part was converting the measurements from g and ml ;)




With the thawing of the salmon and then the 20mins of marinating, this takes a little bit of time but I thought really worth it. Sweet and spicy tasty and the suggestion of broiling to add some crisp was ideal. Such great flavoring with this one. I served with rice but the suggestion of asparagus would make a more complete and fancy dancy meal.



Holy mother of god these were good. I used the slow cooker chicken recipe and did the low for six hours. Magnificent. Don't skimp on the sauce either, so so so so good. As you can see I dropped some hot sauce on top with avocado and made the whole thing that much better. I'll be making these again and you should too. Obviously a plan ahead meal because of the slow cooking but super easy and goes pretty quick after the chicken is done.




Your dessert monstrosity. These were easy to make but unwrapping all those damn Rolos will make you question what you're doing in life and I couldn't even fit them all in the pan, I had about seven left over. I also had to just about double the cooking time listed because the dough remained doughy for a lot longer for me than the recipe creator. They turned out pretty rich but not the usual unbearably so and since it is only an 8X8 inch pans worth, not a lot to guilty eat. Probably won't make again but fun while they lasted. 




So the smothered chicken burritos are the obvious hit of this weeks recipes but these were the dark horse and they sooooo delivered, even the bf liked them. I did 2 tbls of Greek yogurt with 2 tbls of mayo because I'm not a big mayo fan and added extra sriracha because I am a big kick fan. There were pretty simple to make and with cook time, I'd say only took a little more than half an hour. I don't know about complete healthiness because of Parmesan and dipping sauce but they sound healthy if you tell anyone about them, so a win? I'd make these again.

Did I miss any yummy food?


Monday, September 17, 2018

Menu Monday

Super busy week, so this is running a little late. I'm giving a bonus Raiden pic to make up for it :)


Peanut Butter Dog Donuts


Very easy to make and Raiden seemed to enjoy them but he LOVES food so not the best judge. I didn't "ice" all of them at once because I feared the yogurt would make the donuts too mushy, just put it on right before I gave them to him. I sprinkled some bacon bits on top. I also cut the recipe in half and it made five, they lasted about a week and a half.




I love sweet potatoes but still, these were freaking amazing. Love, love, loved them and they were filling. I ended up adding some salsa along with the cheese, black beans, and avocado. If you like sour cream, I think that would be a great addition. The cook time and temp worked perfectly for me. Can't say it enough, I loved these.




I'm fairly certain I've posted this recipe before but if you missed it the first time around, here you go again. I use ground turkey and add some extra taco seasoning to the sour cream and cream cheese layer. The crescent roll base make this almost sweet tasting but it works. It also makes it so it gets soggy a bit easier, so there is only about one to two day life in these. I always end up putting mine in the oven for about two to fives minutes to heat everything up together but this works as a cold pizza too. 




I did only a pound of meat, it made four sandwiches, but I didn't halve anything else. Turned out very hot, as you can imagine. Made my nose run a little bit but nothing outrageous, unless you aren't into heat. I added some dry coleslaw mix, Monterrey cheddar shredded cheese, and some ranch drizzled, this helped tone down the heat. Nice for a lazy Sunday.




As I said, busy week, so I wanted a super easy dessert and ta-da! This was super rich but easy and fun to eat. I let the pudding sit in the fridge for about a half hour to form up more. 




Ok, so they don't photograph well, lol. I didn't add the zucchini, made up for it with adding more jalapeno (yippy-ki-yay!). These definitely live up to their spicy name. Oats aren't my favorite backbone for veggie burgers but these were ok. I let the burgers sit in the fridge for about 20mins and still had some problems keeping them formed. Ok for something different but there are better veggie burgers out there.

Have a busy week like me or were some fabulous meals created?





Monday, September 10, 2018

Menu Monday

 If you like to eat out of bowls, you'll like this weeks list :)


Vegetarian BBQ Burrito Bowl


I halved the rice in half to make this more of a two person meal but since I like stronger tasting things, I left the rest of the amounts alone. This is why mine looks a little more soupy but I thought the spicy BBQ sauce I used made this taste like a vegetarian chili, super good. I highly recommend adding in the chips as I thought they added a lot. Very tasty and would definitely make again as very simple and not time consuming.




Good taste but cooking the brown rice takes around 40mins so a bit time consuming. As this was based on jambalaya, I thought shrimp or sausage would taste great in it, lol. As it was one of my no meat meals, though, still pretty tasty. 




This took around an hour and half and I thought was a bit stressful. There are a lot of moving parts, three burners getting used on the stove top! and you're kind of in motion not having time to relax as you make it. The good thing was that it was worth it, the mac and cheese was very smooth (maybe I did a better job whisking the flour) and the shrimp nestled in with it chummily (I was going to create the word "yummily" here but chummily came up as spelling correction and I couldn't resist). I thought the Cajun seasoning could have been stronger and if I was going to make it again I would come close to doubling it. I don't know if I'll make it again because what makes it good is the copious amounts of butter and cheese in it, lol. I also drizzled some Sriracha on top, for say it with me, an extra kick.




These were, obviously, so bleeping good. Doesn't take a crazy amount of time to make but unwrapping all those caramels was a sanity test (what am I doing with my life???). I actually would suggest cutting these up before the chocolate hardens because of how after, the chocolate cracks and kind of slides off the bar. Makes a ton and while I enjoyed eating all of them, too much and would halve recipe next time.



 Peanut Butter Cheesecake Overnight Oats


Still out here questing for some good overnight oat recipes. These was tastier than the last but didn't work for me as a breakfast, way too sweet and dessert like. A nighttime snack would be more ideal for me. I added chocolate chips because we all deserve chocolate. I only had mine soak for about two hours and that seemed sufficient enough.




This made the perfect amount for me, about two days worth, and I loved the hell out of the taste. I used plain Ruffles chips and I ate until my stomach hurt, because I had no other option. I left out the olives in my portion and added them to the bf's, he actually said he thought the without tasted better but when I saw how much of the chopped olives he added, well, he may have went overboard overwhelming it. I also used the Spicy Ranch seasoning because, I WANTED SOME KICK. If your weakness is chips and dip like me, make this delicious dip.

What delicious concoctions did you all come up with this week?

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Reading Update: 20%

Bride of a Stranger - Jennifer Blake

It was a doll, a rag of stuffed cloth dressed in a caricature of a wedding gown and veil, and impaled through the body by a long, sharp splinter of wood.
We have voodoo, a scarred hero, a heroine with a broken rib, and have arrived at the plantation at the edge of the woods and bayou. 
These people who have been given into our care, the slaves, have ancient ways we cannot understand.
Also have an auntie who must be vying for an I.C.E. PR position and,
“Yes, I understand, mam’zelle. You must bow to the wishes of the man you marry, it is expected.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Review: The Fixer

The Fixer The Fixer by HelenKay Dimon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“We need to talk about her. We need to have answers.” She did. Down to her soul. The guilt. The not knowing. Waking up every day thinking Tiffany could be one of those poor women chained to a bed somewhere in some sick bastard’s basement, unable to get out.

This had a bit of a different feel and texture than the usual romantic suspense/mystery, slower because this was about solving a decades old case but I enjoyed it for the most part because of the something new feel.

Our hero is quite different from the over-saturated with take control alpha, he was a solid quiet, composed, with some anti-social coloring. I can't say I ever felt like I "knew" him because of this little bit of dry, little bit of aloofness but he was also refreshing. I really liked the heroine and how she meshed with him, they played off each other very well.

“You still scare me a little.” She didn’t know why she admitted that, but it was absolutely true. There was no mistaking his smile now.
“The feeling is mutual.”


They had this slow dry heat thing that really worked but I just didn't get to see or completely feel them together because of the murder mystery components taking control of the story. The heroine is still searching for her cousin that went missing when she was a teenager and recently finding the hero's name in the case files leads her to him and has the hero being captivated against will for her and helping with the case.

“I got the impression you were attracted to me.”
“I’ll rein it in and say simply, yes.”
Her finger pressed into his wrist and his wild heartbeat thumped against her skin. She took that as a very good sign. “And if you didn’t rein it in this time?”
“The need to strip you naked and spread you out on that mattress is kicking my ass.” What was she even saying before that?
“Subtle.”
“There’s nothing subtle about how much I want you.”


They had chemistry but the hero ultimately remained too closed off in some ways for me, I felt walled off from him. The search for what happened to her cousin is crux of the story but it felt a little sluggish in the middle and had an ending that was fairly obvious and a bit announced and abruptly left.

She could fight her own battles, but it was pretty sexy to have a guy who wanted to stand up and help.

Dimon's writing draws me (I like how she writes the dynamics between the hero and heroine) and I like her voice but there also seems to be a feeling of things not quite clicking; her procedural writing is great but maybe some of the emotional aspect is missing for me? Either way, I'll keep reading her and I'll keep going with this series as I've already read one in it and liked it. If you're looking for romantic suspense that has a little bit of a different feel to it, this could be a change of pace.

Her spirit reeled him in and drove him mad.

I had to include this quote because of how deep in my soul I have felt this way before:
Caroline had the whole balanced-life, good-person combination down. By comparison, Emery felt like an unmade bed.

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Review: An Affair to Dismember

An Affair to Dismember An Affair to Dismember by Elise Sax
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2.5 stars

I read this for the Cozy Mystery square for Halloween Bingo

Something was definitely fishy about Randy Terns’s death, and at least one of his children thought he deserved to be murdered.

Cozy mystery isn't a genre I usually spend a lot of time in but I've dabbled and the ones I've dabbled in, tend to have a "cozy" calm, mysterious but relaxing feel to them, not so here.

The only time the heroine isn't on the go or jumping here and there, is when she is asleep, which doesn't last long. She's in town to take over her grandmother's matchmaking business but doesn't quite have the touch but doesn't matter since she only focuses on that for about 3% of the story. One of her neighbors was found dead in the kitchen and she thinks (?? I guess but she never seems totally sure even though she is running around trying to solve the "murder") he was murdered.

What follows is a story that felt incredibly manic and held together with rubber bands and flimsy plot threads. Why does such a small town, I don't think they even have a 20 person police force (they don't have their own 911 call center) have a multi-million dollar new station? This is the first in the series but like my complaints about Angelfalls, you still have to craft story that provides depth in regards to characters and plot in book one.

There is a love triangle but with one guy that barely is a pencil sketch and the heroine only seems to like because he is hot and the other that seems like the clear future winner. I'm not quite sure what the heroine saw in the pencil sketch (besides good looks) and I'm not sure what either guy saw in the heroine. The murder mystery was convoluted as all get out and had a reveal dump at the end.

This was so manic and jumbled I felt like I was lost in a bouncy castle. I don't think I'll be continuing on in the series, especially since I am not a fan of love triangles, they always seem to be dragged out way to long.

Bonus point for having Rottweilers in the story but point deduction for having them be growling frightening beasts.


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35%


Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer   Wright

I needed a couple plague free days but then I read three in a row to catch up and now my mind is drowning in sores and poop.

Syphilis

Let’s bring back syphilis because it makes people more creative."

This was an interesting chapter, how the syphilis epidemic mirrored the AIDs, with not wanting to talk about it, the condemnation of people who got it, and how pushing it the corners made it even more virulent. I liked how the author called out some historical figures (Abraham Lincoln!) for more than likely having it.

15 to 30 percent of people who don’t receive treatment, syphilis advances to the positively terrifying tertiary stage. Symptoms can include joint problems and serious headaches. Sufferers’irises can become inflamed, leading to vision problems and sometimes blindness. Others might experience tremors and seizures. Some can become partially paralyzed. Many also develop a condition called tabes dorsalis, which causes intense, shooting pain throughout the body as the nerves along the spinal cords degenerate. Neurosyphilis, when the disease invades the nervous system, can occur at any stage, though it’s most often associated with tertiary syphilis. It involves an inflammatory response in the brain that leads to the destruction of bundles of nerve fibers. In some cases, the symptoms of neurosyphilis are mild, like headaches. However, many patients experience mental problems, like bouts of mania, changes in personality, and severe dementia.

I thought the author did a better job of discussing the symptoms and giving us a better idea of what happens to the body and mind. I thought it was also interesting how she touched on the "suffering artist" thinking, the best creations come out of pain, kind of how some artists think drugs and alcohol are needed to reach their potential today.

Some of the wild cures were discussed, dangerously raising body temperature, arsenic, and malaria and what really works, penicillin, such the miracle drug. 

One of the interesting tidbits of this section was the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, a highly unethical study that I had vaguely heard about and seeing mentioned again, sent me off reading more about it. 

Tuberculosis

The disease is still around, it’s still contagious, and despite the fact that the vaccine costs approximately sixteen cents to produce, and $3.13 to buy, tuberculosis continues to ravage periphery countries. Millions of people worldwide die from tuberculosis every year—and it’s totally treatable.

This one was a little tough to read about because of how it still has a strong presence today. The romanticizing mentioned was incredibly sad, thinking about how women tried to unhealthily copy the look of suffers because the look was thought to be beautifully tragic. Women always pushed to conform to impossible beauty standards. 

It is very contagious. The bacterium is spread by droplets whenever sufferers cough or sneeze (or sing or laugh, for that matter). Those droplets are then inhaled by others. In some people, the bacterium remains latent for years.

Again, probably because it is a more modern disease, the author gave us more information the what and how. Highly contagious diseases like this seem so tragic to me because of people not knowing yet how it spreads and how they were sacrificial lambs for me. 

Between 1829 and 1845, 10 to 13 percent of white prisoners in large cities on the East Coast of the United States died of tuberculosis; the rate was even higher among black prisoners.

Indeed, about 4 million people were thought to have died from consumption in England and Wales alone between 1851 and 1910.

Not quite the Bubonic Plague or Small pox but still having an impact and the fact that people still die of it today when there is the Bacille Calmette-GuĂ©rin vaccine, angers me and makes me feel grateful I was born where I was. 

Cholera 

It is spread through ingesting other people’s infected defecated matter.

As an old Oregon Trail enthusiast, I know all about cholera and its devastating effects. Clean water, clean water, clean water. Again, forever grateful for being born where I was. Available clean water is something I don't even think about or have to question. 

Once you have drunk it without even knowing it, the cholera bacterium settles in the small intestine. There, it begins reproducing and forms a toxin called CTX, which covers the walls of the small intestines. Now, the main purpose of the small intestine is to keep you hydrated; it absorbs water and then sends it on to other areas of the body. However, when its walls are coated with cholera bacteria, it instead begins expelling water. The result is a white-flaked, watery diarrhea that is referred to as “rice stool.”

Not fun to read about and god awful to live I imagine. This is one that can boggle the mind because, of course, you need clean water but I only know that because of the work of John Snow (I'm a GOT watcher, so this name was wild). Going by the rest of the format of the book, I thought it was interesting how much the author focused on Snow, it seemed a little off how she kind of laid into his lifestyle but I guess it works for us to get to "know" him. If one thing can be said about this author, it's that she is not afraid to color her writing with her opinions. 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Review: Angelfall

Angelfall Angelfall by Susan Ee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this for the Cryptozoologist square for Halloween Bingo

Men with wings. Angels of the Apocalypse. Supernatural beings who’ve pulverized the modern world and killed millions, maybe even billions of people.

This is categorized as YA, which made me a little nervous but besides having a heroine, Penryn, who I think is supposed to be around 17yrs old and some causal, leaning towards immature talk, this read adultish.

Even the worst of the new street gangs leave the night to whatever creatures may roam the darkness in this new world.

The beginning had me pretty locked in, I'm always up for an apocalyptic story but as the story went on, I started to get frustrated with the lack of world building. This is only book 1 in a 3 book series but I'm growing a little tired of incomplete stories for the sake of stretching out to sell more books. This is all from the pov of the heroine, so we only know her side of things about the angels attack and a lot of the time she is awfully tight lipped about what happened. The angels seemed to have dropped down to earth one day and started blowing up cities but frankly, even that is vague. Did they attack all over the world? There is talk about humans (maybe) killing Gabriel, but was it at first sight or was there some communication?

Not even the angels know why they are here.

Through some conversations with our heroine's companion Raffe, an angel she saved from being killed by other angels, we, again, vaguely get some intel from the angel's side of things but Raffe doesn't seem to know a whole heck of a lot either. This can work to create some mystery and excitement to read on in the series, to gain and learn the answers but it can also make the world building seem flimsy and lazy, keeping me from wanting to read on.

My mind swirls with conflicting emotions. Who is the enemy in this room? Whose side am I on?

Since our heroine is so young, it felt a little awkward with the alluding to a building attraction between her and who is supposed to be a millennial old angel. She thinks his chest and face is hot, he seems to admire her fighting skills and towards the end of the book, thinks she looks hot in a tight dress, there wasn't much for me to go on with the hit you at the end supposed to be epic love loss.

From the front, they look human, but from the back and the sides, they look utterly alien. Plump scorpion tails grow out of their tailbones to curl over their heads. They end in needlelike stingers, ready for piercing.

Most of the book is the heroine and angel traveling together and us readers getting a vague introduction to the world and characters. There is obviously something up with the heroine's mom but, again, vague. Towards the end, we get hit with some truly creepy described visuals and the dirty, grungy, and hungry apocalyptic world, starts to bleed into more of a horror show. The wall of children was some truly inspired horrific stuff.

The author had a great way of writing scenes that gave me some fantastic visuals but the character depth and world building was lacking for me. Even though this is a series and I expect some questions to be left answered in the preceding, I need a solid foundation to want to carry the interest over to the next books; not completely sure that happened here. The visuals were good, having an agnostic angel was intriguing, but the attraction between the heroine and hero was awkward and the world building felt shallow.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Reading Update: 50%

Angelfall: 1 (Penryn and the End of Days) by Ee, Susan (2013) Paperback - Susan Mallery

“Angels are violent creatures.”
"So I noticed. I used to think they were all sweet and kind.”
“Why would you think that? Even in your Bible, we’re harbingers of doom, willing and able to destroy entire cities. Just because we sometimes warned one or two of you beforehand doesn’t make us altruistic.”

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

20%


Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer   Wright

Small Pox

Someone was hacking next to me today and I tried to hold my breath until I could run away from them. Reading about one plague a day is showing its consequences :/

A lone diseased Spaniard is believed to have introduced smallpox to the Incan society around 1525.

After being exposed to smallpox, the Aztec and Incan societies were devastated almost instantly. One year they were among the greatest civilizations in the world. The next year they basically didn’t exist.

Devastating. I thought the author did a better job with this section of the book, giving us a clearer understanding of the symptoms:
Once someone is infected they develop a fever—up to 104 degrees—which is sometimes accompanied by vomiting. Then they break out in a rash, which turns into bumpy pustules filled with clear liquid or pus. These later crust over and fall off, leaving pox marks on the skin.
and how it was combated: 
Variolation generally entailed finding someone suffering from smallpox, drawing blood or fluid from one of their pustules, and injecting it into an uninfected person.

Jenner called the technique vaccination, as vacca was the Latin word for “cow".

This is also the disease that we see reach into more of modern recorded history, so go figure :) The absolute devastation this caused is hard to read about, whole civilizations ended, with some help of Spaniards but still, makes you think about the edge we all rest on.

I enjoyed the more informative look into small pox, even though I already knew some it, milk maids saved the world!, but it was still kind of fun to see how people worked the problem and followed the trail from cow pox to vaccinations. I am also endlessly fascinated by immunity and how it can be passed on, which I thought the author did a good job simplifying and giving us a bare bones a to b explanation. 

Vaccinating most of the population protects the very young and vulnerable people of all ages who cannot be safely vaccinated.

If the author's sassy and sarcasm hit hard on Wakefield (wrote paper claiming vaccinations could cause autism) and in turn Jenny, I'm ok with that because paid for pseduo-science needs to be hit hard with the harm it can do.

Think of what it might have been like when 30 to 90 percent of your friends and family died, because that was the world before vaccines.

Vaccinations, they are needed and quite frankly, wanted by me.

Review: The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

I read this for the Classic Horror square for Halloween Bingo.

it might not then be too fanciful to say that some houses are born bad.

Apparently, I do think it is too fanciful because I felt this book was way more of this,

“I think we are only afraid of ourselves,” the doctor said slowly.
“No,” Luke said. “Of seeing ourselves clearly and without disguise.”
“Of knowing what we really want,” Theodora said.


Instead of getting eeked out by the supernatural trying to creep into the story, I was completely focused on Eleanor and what seemed like her emotional and psychological bid and try for freedom. She is introduced as the daughter that took care of her mother until the mother's death and now resides with her sister but still lacks autonomy and agency. When she gets a letter in the mail asking her to come stay at a house, what a more adjusted person would turn down, she jumps at, grasping at it in a sense of freedom to get away from her life.

Don’t do it, Eleanor told the little girl; insist on your cup of stars; once they have trapped you into being like everyone else you will never see your cup of stars again; don’t do it; and the little girl glanced at her, and smiled a little subtle, dimpling, wholly comprehending smile, and shook her head stubbornly at the glass. Brave girl, Eleanor thought; wise, brave girl.

This ended up being one of the most important and emotional scenes to me. Eleanor wanting the girl to make a different choice than she did, choosing to live her life the way she wants to, something Eleanor hasn't done. I have a lot of questions about this story, lol, but a big one is later on Theodora is talking about Eleanor drinking from her cup of stars and Eleanor talking about missing it. So, my big question is, was this a clue to how Eleanor manifested scenes, was this actually a flashback to a moment in Eleanor's life where she pinpoints things went off track for her and on her journey to freedom, she recreates the scene and makes (the little girl not drinking out of the cup) a different choice? It seems like an important clue that Eleanor had a cup of stars and the little girl she "saw" did too. I don't know, maybe I missed something or am reaching. Thinking this way though, lead me more down the path of Hill House instances being or coming from Eleanor's head.

No, she thought, I don’t like it here.
it’s awful and I don’t want to stay; but there was nowhere else to go,


This story was so much more about the human condition to me than paranormal, which I think is kind of annoying, I don't want to I "read this wrong" but I think I missed some pleasure others got out of it. Theodora always represented what Eleanor envisioned as ideal and why she spent so much time with her and why her clothes were and room were attacked. But were they? The newcomers of the dr's wife and Arthur walk in the room and claim everything is fine. Talking about mass hysteria in the other Halloween Bingo book I am reading made me think that was what was happening at times, with Eleanor, Theodora, Luke, and the Dr. freaking each other out, remember, the newcomers never heard the loud noises from the night everyone was scared. The anticipation wave from the group seemed to be thinking this is a haunted house, waiting for something to happen, wanting something to happen to simply get it over with, and then creating things that were happening.The blood on the walls confuses me the most because Luke saw it first, probably the biggest argument towards paranormal for me.

Peace, Eleanor thought concretely; what I want in all this world is peace, a quiet spot to lie and think, a quiet spot up among the flowers where I can dream and tell myself sweet stories.

Eleanor was just so incredibly tragic for me and I think building up to psychotic breakdown. Her trip towards freedom wasn't working out quite like she thought, she has the big rejection from Theodora and while she doesn't seem to be able to quite get along with people, she doesn't want to be alone, and she simply can't handle going back to her sisters. This story just really screamed American women around the '50-'60s, seeing autonomy but not having the foundation to get there and maybe even fear of what it would be like. One of my other favorite scenes was when Eleanor was talking with Luke and thinking about the questions people ask each other and how it is discussed about what people want others to know about them and what people want to tell others; more human condition stuff to me. I enjoyed the contrast too of Luke just being handed the house and women to an extent and just selfishly expecting it as his due; how women have to fight for things and men just naturally expect them issues going on here.

I am really doing it, I am doing this all by myself, now, at last; this is me, I am really really really doing it by myself.

The ending was so sad for me and this line cuts with how attempted suicide and suicide (in letters) victims talk about making that final choice and feeling finally empowered that they have finally taken control. I know some people who think more along the lines of paranormal will think it was the house driving her to do this and I can definitely see an argument for that also but I see it more as the psychotic break crash.

“Walled up alive.” Eleanor began to laugh again at their stone faces. “Walled up alive,” she said. “I want to stay here.”

I saw Eleanor as making the choice to kill herself because she was too scared to go out and live life, even though she desperately wanted to. Her whole life living with her mother, probably an argument for co-dependency there and then semi-transferring the dependency to her sister and then failing in transferring it to Theodora.

I feel like I have more questions after I read the book, lol. Why didn't Eleanor remember Theodora for a few minutes there towards the end? This weird moment thinking about Theodora:
I would like to watch her dying, Eleanor thought, and smiled back and said, “Don’t be silly.”

The others experiencing some of the "hauntings" of the house, the creepy caregivers (but apparently the housekeeper was completely normal around the dr.'s wife), the planchette readings, and what did Theodora see during the picnic are all questions I don't have answers for. Maybe I need to give way for some paranormal. Overall though, this book was really only ever about the frightening ways our minds can control us.

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Monday, September 3, 2018

15%

Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer   Wright
Dancing Plague

Their feet bled until you could see their bone.

Not an ideal situation to be in. This plague is probably the most confounding to me, I'm a proof, factual evidence person and the way the author presenting this one, leaves me baffled and intrigued. The author mentioned that some think mold might have been the cause but then says, she disagrees with that. She then kind of meanders around it being mass hysteria or psychological. I grasp the thinking behind mass hysteria but the descriptions of dancing to the point of death, have me thinking there had to be some source other than sadness or relief, which the author goes on to pseudo-claim, that would cause this kind of physicality. I know the human mind's strength is still not fully known but I still can't fully accept mass hysteria. 

Moreover witnesses consistently spoke of the victims as being entranced, seeing terrifying visions and behaving with wild, crazy abandon.

This is probably why I would be on team mold, some kind of hallucinogen from mold that seeped in through the feet sounds feasible. 

He thought the best treatment, if the condition was brought on by cursing, was to have the dancers make an image of themselves in wax (talented multitasking dancers!), project their thoughts onto the wax doll, and then set the figure on fire. If the disease was brought on by sexy thoughts or frivolity, the dancers should be kept in a dark room and fed only bread and water until they were too sad to have those thoughts anymore. If it was caused by a “corrupt imagination,” they should ingest opium (the basis for heroin) or alcohol.

These cures, I tell ya. The author accounts that people made pilgrimages to a mountain and were given red shoes to wear. Changing of shoes that maybe didn't have the mold or infection? This is where again, I wish the author moved from a more witty repertoire to more historical accounts, documentation, and current conclusions/thoughts. There were other dancing plagues recorded, how similar were their climates or environment? Anything gleaned from that?

course diseases occur independent of mental states, but it is also true that given enough stress, people’s internal miseries can manifest themselves physically.

I completely agree with this but in more of a grey way, I see limitations. The author talks about how people believed they were cured, so they were. When they were dancing to death? I don't know, I put more faith in the simple changing of shoes. 

So their minds simply closed down, and they refused to see anymore—refused to see any more death, any more torture, any more rape, any more starvation.

The author tries to validate her mass hysteria diagnosis with comparisons to trauma victims experiencing mass blindness. In those cases, we have a general root cause and they are not physically acting in a way, dancing until their bones came out of their feet, that directly leads to their death. It was too much of an apples and oranges comparison for me. I also thought it was completely unfair to compare the townspeople's response to bubonic plague towns. Not as encompassing and while the people dancing had to unnerving to a certain extent, not as psychologically destroying as pus covered children banging on windows for help. It seemed the author wanted to lighten or bring more hopeful tone after the doom and gloom of the bubonic plague. It is refreshing how the people of Strasburg responded but I would have liked more inclusion to how their society was structured to point out why it may have been easier for them to do so.

I'm too cynical to buy into the "power of friendship" healed all. I do think happier people have a greater chance at survival but that is tied into a whole bunch of things like happier people tend to take care of their bodies in a more healthy way, symptoms and causes are very interwoven. I think it also is a disservice and cruel to completely link emotion to not surviving a disease; I do think it plays a part but smaller than the author wants to give it credit for here.

I leave this section with a pretty good on fire comment:
It’s perfectly possible to be smarter than everyone else and still be polite and even deferential—women have been doing it for centuries.

65%

The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson, Laura Miller

Well,” she asked, “how do you gentlemen like living in a haunted house?”
“It’s perfectly fine,” Luke said, “perfectly fine. It gives me an excuse to have a drink in the middle of the night."

Hill House is starting to produce some haunting...maybe, I'm not quite sure what is physically happening and what is psychologically happening. I find it really hard not to human condition this instead of sinking into the supernatural horror. Eleanor really draws me in with how she thinks and reacts to things. 

what a complete and separate thing I am, she thought, going from my red toes to the top of my head, individually an I, possessed of attributes belonging only to me. I have red shoes, she thought—that goes with being Eleanor; I dislike lobster and sleep on my left side and crack my knuckles when I am nervous and save buttons. I am holding a brandy glass which is mine because I am here and I am using it and I have a place in this room. I have red shoes and tomorrow I will wake up and I will still be here.

The layer of Eleanor escaping out from under her mother and sister, to some extent, with how she is discovering who she is and gaining the confidence to show it and be it, is a mixture of sad, angry, and hopeful. Thinking of when this is written, it makes me think of how women were gaining ground on autonomy. I'm probably going a whole different wild direction with this but the house feels more like a masked representation for society/cultural/family structures that are "haunting" Eleanor and how they could be all in her head or really affecting her. The scene where only Eleanor and Theodora hear the banging, while the men our out was interesting. I am also highly cognitive of the MeToo movement, which colors a lot of how I interpret and perceive things lately. Again, why reviews can only be subjective as so much pertains to the life experiences of the reader.

It’s embarrassing. To think about being afraid, I mean.”
“We’re all in it together, you know,” Theodora said.
“It’s worse if you try not to show it,” the doctor said.

We get to see all the characters interact in this part. I thought when they were all gathered around that the conversation seemed off, or unnatural. I don't know if it is simply a case of when this was written and how language and interactions differ but the flow just wasn't there for me.

I think,” he said, “that what we all want is facts. Something we can understand and put together.”

******

When Luke and I are called outside, and you two are kept imprisoned inside, doesn’t it begin to seem”—and his voice was very quiet—“doesn’t it begin to seem that the intention is, somehow, to separate us?”

I can't help but think there is something off with the doctor. You have him at turns spouting calm, analytical thinking only to have him seemingly wanting to ramp up the spookiness or anxiety to covertly induce fear. 

Although, this was a nice line from him (aka the author):
It was said that the older sister was crossed in love,” the doctor agreed, “although that is said of almost any lady who prefers, for whatever reason, to live alone.

Theodora is a nice contrast to Eleanor and I like how they play off of each other. Luke is just kind of there right now and the caretakers are nice and ambiguously creepy, lol. 

I'm probably not as eeked out as I should be, because of focusing so much on Eleanor's self-discovery and journey for autonomy, and I don't know if I completely buy into the house being truly haunted or certain humans wanting it to appear that way. I don't know, this is probably why horror works better for me with movies and tv shows. Written word has me analyzing in a way visuals don't, maybe because more context is provided? 

This gave me a little promise to experiencing the eek:
is this what they mean by cold chills going up and down your back? Because it is not pleasant; it starts in your stomach and goes in waves around and up and down again like something alive. Like something alive. Yes. Like something alive.

Also,
Theodora looked up at her gravely. “I have a hunch,” she said, “that you ought to go home, Eleanor.”

With Theodora supposedly having some psychic ability, I'm wondering if she is feeling or knows more than she is letting on. Curious to see if haunting ramps up or more questions about psychological fears creating.