It’s explicitly a book about fading Empire. M16’s roots are in World War 2, and the core of the plot reaches back to there. What is Britain’s place in the world now? What does being British even mean? In a real way, it is a post-Brexit Bond. -- Kieron Gillen
( Read more... )
Since Foolkiller ended with the implication Frank Castle was about to shoot The Hood, and the general consensus was "good riddance", I thought I'd take us all back to a time before Parker Robbins was a lame magic Kingpin wannabe, with the MAX series that first introduced him, written by a pre-Runaways and Y: The Last Man Brian K. Vaughn and drawn by Kyle Hotz.
Trigger warning for racism and sexist language.( Read more... )
"We wondered if he thought a planet full of women could ultimately rebuild society and sustain itself once again. Vaughan was surprisingly optimistic on that front. "Yes, I do think it could. There were a lot of people early on in the first year who complained, "Wow, this is such a misogynistic book to say that, because the men died, the women can't get the electricity running all over the world and the airports up and running again." I think that's an extremely complex, extremely difficult thing to deal with. When three billion people die, I don't care what their sex was, that's an incredibly difficult thing to come back from. I will say that the world would be better off than if it were just the men left. I think that would be an even more dire situation. I think there is hope for the planet."
( Read more... )
"I'd read the two BROTHER POWER THE GEEK comics as a small boy, and thought they were seriously weird. Rereading them as an adult they were still seriously weird, and funny, and touched with a sad, strange nostalgia. I'd been reading some Ken Kesey, and somehow the idea of Brother Power as a final remnant of flower power began to possess me. 'At least you didn't bring back Prez,' said my friends, relieved. Little did they know."
--Neil Gaiman, Midnight Days
Mild gore on one page.
( 'Like where did the beeeautiful people go?' )
The Moon in the Palace
This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Turophile. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance category.
There is no easy path for a woman aspiring to power
A concubine at the palace learns quickly that there are many ways to capture the Emperor’s attention. Many paint their faces white and style their hair attractively, hoping to lure in the One Above All with their beauty. Some present him with fantastic gifts, such as jade pendants and scrolls of calligraphy, while others rely on their knowledge of seduction to draw his interest. But young Mei knows nothing of these womanly arts, yet she will give the Emperor a gift he can never forget.
Mei’s intelligence and curiosity, the same traits that make her an outcast among the other concubines, impress the Emperor. But just as she is in a position to seduce the most powerful man in China, divided loyalties split the palace in two, culminating in a perilous battle that Mei can only hope to survive.
In the breakthrough first volume in the Empress of Bright Moon duology, Weina Dai Randel paints a vibrant portrait of ancient China—where love, ambition, and loyalty can spell life of death—and the woman who came to rule it all.
Here is Turophile's review:
Our heroine Mei is summoned to the Emperor’s palace after her father’s untimely death. There she quickly discovers the social stratification among the emperor’s many concubines. She also learns the intricate politics among the women, though not as quickly as perhaps she should have to succeed in her overriding goal: attracting the Emperor’s attention quickly so that she could assist her mother.
The most intriguing aspect of this book is the interpersonal dynamics between the women and the elaborate political games in which they engage. In ancient China (and in many other places), external power belongs to the men. At the Emperor’s Court, a woman’s worth and power derives from the interest displayed by the Emperor as well as the success in bearing the Emperor male heirs. Because access to and the favor of the Emperor is a scarce resource, the relationships between the women are fraught with intrigue and power struggles. Mei learns this the hard way when she is betrayed by a woman whom she believed was a friend and almost mentor.
Throughout the book, she faces dilemmas about whom to trust and to align with. Making these choices becomes even more difficult when she develops a friendship with and later an attraction to a young man whom she learns is the Emperor’s son. As this book progresses, she learns from each mistake and further cements her own power base though the book ends before that power is fully realized. Thankfully, there’s another book in the series and I plan to read it. If you enjoy novels about relationships between women and women finding their own inner strength through those relationships, you will enjoy this book.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the book for me was that the language felt too contemporary. It’s a challenge writing of an ancient time in a vernacular that modern readers will enjoy, but in general I found the dialogue too simplistic.
Reviewing this book has been a challenge for me because I wanted to like it more. Historical Chinese novels are a favorite genre for me, but the downside is that I can’t help but compare one book to another. Compared to other novels I’ve read set in similar time periods or of young women who find themselves in an Emperor’s court forced to survive on their wit, I didn’t enjoy this book as much. It doesn’t feel fair to even raise that comparison, however, when I’ve read and continue to read umpteen books set it in the Regency period. Thus, I’d still recommend this book but urge readers to follow-up to it by exploring other Chinese or Chinese American authors who write historical fiction and/or historical romance set in China, including but not limited to Anchee Min, Jung Chang, Jeannie Lin and more.
This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.
Stiff competition for entrance to private preschools and kindergartens in Manhattan has created a test prep market for children under 5. The New York Times profiled Bright Kids NYC. The owner confesses that “the parents of the 120 children her staff tutored [in 2010] spent an average of $1,000 on test prep for their 4-year-olds.” This, of course, makes admission to schools for the gifted a matter of class privilege as well as intelligence.
The article also tells the story of a woman without the resources to get her child, Chase, professional tutoring:
Ms. Stewart, a single mom working two jobs, didn’t think the process was fair. She had heard widespread reports of wealthy families preparing their children for the kindergarten gifted test with $90 workbooks, $145-an-hour tutoring and weekend “boot camps.”
Ms. Stewart used a booklet the city provided and reviewed the 16 sample questions with Chase. “I was online trying to find sample tests,” she said. “But everything was $50 or more. I couldn’t afford that.”
Ms. Stewart can’t afford tutoring for Chase; other parents can. It’s unfair that entrance into kindergarten level programs is being gamed by people with resources, disadvantaging the most disadvantaged kids from the get go. I think many people will agree.
But the more insidious value, the one that almost no one would identify as problematic, is the idea that all parents should do everything they can to give their child advantages. Even Ms. Stewart thinks so. “They want to help their kids,” she said. “If I could buy it, I would, too.”
Somehow, in the attachment to the idea that we should all help our kids get every advantage, the fact that advantaging your child disadvantages other people’s children gets lost. If it advantages your child, it must be advantaging him over someone else; otherwise it’s not an advantage, you see?
I felt like this belief (that you should give your child every advantage) and it’s invisible partner (that doing so is hurting other people’s children) was rife in the FAQs on the Bright Kids NYC website.
Isn’t my child too young to be tutored?
These programs are very competitive, the answers say, and you need to make sure your kid does better than other children. It’s never too soon to gain an advantage.
My child is already bright, why does he or she need to be prepared?
Because being bright isn’t enough. If you get your kid tutoring, she’ll be able to show she’s bright in exactly the right way. All those other bright kids that can’t get tutoring won’t get in because, after all, being bright isn’t enough.
Is it fair to “prep” for the standardized testing?
Of course it’s fair, the website claims! It’s not only fair, it’s “rational”! What parent wouldn’t give their child an advantage!? They avoid actually answering the question. Instead, they make kids who don’t get tutoring invisible and then suggest that you’d be crazy not to enroll your child in the program.
My friend says that her child got a very high ERB [score] without prepping. My kid should be able to do the same.
Don’t be foolish, the website responds. This isn’t about being bright, remember. Besides, your friend is lying. They’re spending $700,000 dollars on their kid’s schooling (aren’t we all!?) and we can’t disclose our clients but, trust us, they either forked over a grand to Bright Kids NYC or test administrators.
Test prep for kindergartners seems like a pretty blatant example of class privilege. But, of course, the argument that advantaging your own kid necessarily involves disadvantaging someone else’s applies to all sorts of things, from tutoring, to a leisurely summer with which to study for the SAT, to financial support during their unpaid internships, to helping them buy a house and, thus, keeping home prices high.
I think it’s worth re-evaluating. Is giving your kid every advantage the moral thing to do?Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Friday is almost finished with this first draft…
- Dogs acting weird
- Glass blowing/glass art video compilation (I find this stuff ridiculously soothing to watch.)
- Redditors design the worst volume sliders possible (The curling one made me laugh)
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
K, gang, your turn! What's the best thing you've seen online this week?
Have you heard of the Croquembouche [CROCK-you-EAM-butchy]? It's a French thing.
Well, if not, here's what it's supposed to look like:
So kinda like old, cobweb-wrapped monkey bread. But in a yummy way.
Well, a certain anonymous person - who shall remain unnamed to protect her anonymity - found this gem at a wedding which she may or may not have anonymously attended:
I believe her exact words were, "it looks like some kind of primitive jungle cake being attacked by a swarm of lactating spider-wasps."
Mmmm, lactating spider-wasps...
Well, uh, Jane D. [wink wink], thanks for putting a new spin on these things.
Note: I think it's important to ask yourself a couple of questions before commenting here on Cake Wrecks:
Question: Did Jen and john really intend to give us the pronunciation of a word?
Question: Are Jen and john complete and total idiots?
Question: Do they...
Question: Would they...
Question: What about...
That is all.
Today I chat with Dr. Kecia Ali, Professor of Religion at Boston University, and author of a new book, Human in Death: Morality and Mortality in JD Robb’s Novels. We discuss what inspired her to write a book about the series, which is now 45+ books in, and what she discovered with her multiple and attentive re-reads of key novels. We talk about portrayals of ethics, family, friendship, race, women’s work, and of course violence, and we hear what she’s working on next – and of course what Dr. Ali is reading, too.
If you’re at all familiar with the In Death world, this part should not be a surprise: Trigger Warnings for discussion of sexual assault, violence, abuse, and rape in the plots of the In Death books.
I also want to give a very special thank you to Dr. Sara Ronis, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at St. Mary’s University in Texas. She emailed me before this book came out to suggest. Dr. Ali as a guest – and she was totally right. I learned so much from this interview. So thank you to Dr. Ali, and to Dr. Ronis.
And! If you’re at all curious about Human in Death, Dr. Ali’s book, her publisher, Baylor Press, has been supremely awesome!
First, we have a giveaway of one hardcover copy, so if you’d like to enter, head over to the podcast entry. There will be a Rafflecopter widget for you to drop your email into. This giveaway is open to US and Canada only, must be over 18 and ready to learn all the things, void where prohibited. By submitting an entry to the contest as set forth herein, each entrant does acknowledge and agree that, in the event such entrant is victorious, such entrant will perform a ceremony reasonably appropriate to such circumstance, including, without limitation, the Miposian Dance of Joy or all the dances from What the Fox Said.
We also have a discount code! Use code BSBT at BaylorPress.com, and you ’ll get 20% off the cover price and free shipping. Thank you to Dr. Ali, and to David and Savannah at Baylor Press for hooking us up.Listen to the podcast →
Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:
And if you’re interested in the romance track at the PCA/ACA conference, there are a ton of details online.
Thanks to our sponsors:
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What did you think of today's episode? Got ideas? Suggestions? You can talk to us on the blog entries for the podcast or talk to us on Facebook if that's where you hang out online. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call and leave us a message at our Google voice number: 201-371-3272. Please don't forget to give us a name and where you're calling from so we can work your message into an upcoming podcast.
Thanks for listening!
This Episode's Music
Our music is provided each week by Sassy Outwater, whom you can find on Twitter @SassyOutwater.
This is from Caravan Palace, and the track is called “Maniac.”
This week’s podcast is brought to you by Falling for Trouble by Sarah Title.
With her signature wry wit and humor, librarian turned author Sarah Title returns to delight readers with Falling for Trouble, the second installment in her Librarians in Love series. With starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, an Amazon editor’s pick and a glowing review from The Washington Post, this series is highly acclaimed and just plain fun. Falling for Trouble features a librarian hero with a penchant for running in very short running shorts, and a rocker heroine, who bond over music.
Liam Byrd loves Halikarnassus, New York. He loves its friendliness, its nosiness, the vibrant library at the center of it all. And now that Joanna Green is home, the whole town sizzles. A rebel like her stirs up excitement, action, desire—at least in Liam.
Joanna never thought she’d have to come back to her dull, tiny fishbowl of a hometown ever again. She almost had a record deal for her all-girl rock band. She almost had it made in L.A. And then her deal went sour and her granny broke her leg . . . and now here she is, running into everybody’s favorite librarian every time she heads to a dive bar or catches up with old friends.
He has charm, he has good taste in music—and the sight of him in running shorts is dangerously distracting. But when he loves her old town and she can’t wait to check out, their new romance is surely destined for the book drop….
Falling for Trouble by Sarah Title is available now wherever books are sold and on KensingtonBooks.com
Remember to subscribe to our podcast feed, find us on iTunes, via PodcastPickle, or on Stitcher.
Senate Republicans have finally released what appears to be the draft text of H.R. 1628, the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.”
It’s 142 pages, and to be honest, I’m having a hard time deciphering it all. (Not a lawyer or a legislator.) But here are some things that stood out at me…
Elimination of the individual and employer mandate. (Pages 10-11)
Tax repeals on medications, health insurance, health savings accounts, etc. (Pages 25-29)
This includes the “Repeal of Tanning Tax” on page 29.
The continuing attack on abortion rights.
“Disallowance of small employer health insurance credit for plan which includes coverage for abortion.” (Pages 8-9)
“No Federal funds provided from a program referred to in this subsection that is considered direct spending for any year may be made available to a State for payments to a prohibited entity,” which is then defined as an entity providing abortion services except in cases of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life is in danger. (Page 35)
According to a USA Today analysis, this bill would:
- Reduce or eliminate most subsidies for individuals and families
- “Eliminate the ACA’s requirement that insurers can’t charge older customers more than three times what younger customers pay for the same coverage. Instead, those in their 60s could be charged five times as much, or more.”
- Eliminate penalties to large employers who choose not to offer health insurance. (Elimination of the employer mandate.)
- Make it easier to drop coverage for things like maternity care and mental health issues.
CNN points out that the bill would also:
- Defund Planned Parenthood for a year.
- Require coverage of preexisting conditions. However, it also lets states “waive the federal mandate on what insurers must cover… This would allow insurers to offer less comprehensive policies, so those with pre-existing conditions may not have all of their treatments covered.”
A PBS article says the bill would:
- Cap and reduce Medicaid funding, and allow states to add a work requirement for “able-bodied” recipients of Medicaid.
- Provide $2 billion to help states fight opioid addiction
- It preserves health care for people with preexisting conditions (with the potential exceptions noted in the CNN bullets, above), and allows children to stay on their parents’ insurance plan through age 26.
- It expands health care savings accounts.
- It provides a short-term stabilization fund to help struggling insurance markets.
The Congressional Budget Office is expected to release their report on the senate bill next week. The CBO estimated that the House-passed bill would result in 26 million fewer insured Americans by 2026, and would cut the budget by $119 billion over the same time. (Source)
Nothing here is particularly shocking. I’m glad I and my family can’t be kicked off our insurance for our various preexisting conditions…though some of those conditions might no longer be covered, which sucks. It would hurt the poor, the elderly, women, and the mentally ill, among others. None of my readers will be shocked to hear that I think this is another step backward. The ACA was far from perfect — it’s like a patient with a broken leg, but instead of trying to fix the broken leg, we’ll just throw them through a woodchipper, because hey, it’s cheaper!
It looks like this may be a tight vote, which would make this an excellent time to call your Senator.
Please keep any comments civil. I’m angry about this too, but I don’t have the time or the spoons to moderate fights and nastiness today. (Which probably means I shouldn’t have posted this in the first place, but I never claimed to be that bright…)
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
Barefoot at Midnight
This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Turophile. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Mid-Length Contemporary category.
Roxanne St. Claire’s “Timeless” books celebrate the appeal of the silver fox hero! A little older, a lot wiser, and completely sexy, the heroes in the Barefoot Bay Timeless books are men in their 40’s and 50’s who find a second chance at love. Roxanne says her readers aren’t 23…so why should the man of their dreams be that young? The Timeless books are all set on the moon-washed beaches of Barefoot Bay, a tropical island paradise that has been the setting for many beloved romances by this author. Joining the billionaires, brides, and bodyguards on the beach, readers can now kick off their shoes and fall in love with a man aged to perfection!
Barefoot at Midnight
Lawson Monroe is a chef without a restaurant…but his friend and mentor makes a deathbed promise to leave Law the only dive bar on Mimosa Key. Law has big plans for the place, until he walks directly into the luscious body and gorgeous face of Libby Chesterfield and her outrageous claim that the Toasted Pelican should come to her.
When Libby learned that the man who once owned the crappiest watering hole on the island was actually her biological father, she decided the least he owed her was his unclaimed business. The old man wasn’t there for her when she and her brother were growing up near Barefoot Bay, but his legacy can help her build a new future when she transforms the property into Balance, a yoga studio. The only obstacle? Her father apparently named former bad boy and current sexy silver fox Lawless Monroe his heir.
Law never thought he’d want anything more than the chance to make a living cooking his food for the people of Barefoot Bay…but Libby arouses an irresistible hunger in him. Battling an attraction that sizzles hotter than one of Law’s cast-iron skillets and uncovering long-buried secrets with more twists than one of Libby’s yoga poses, they’ll have find a way to both get what they want…especially if what they really want is each other.
Here is Turophile's review:
I’d like to start by applauding a series about mature adults finding romance – Gen-X adults even! As a woman who falls into that category I wholeheartedly approve. And if you can get past the crazy-sauce goofiness of the underlying book, you’ll probably enjoy it.
Our hero, Lawson Monroe, or Law for short, is a chef looking for a restaurant. He makes a deathbed promise to Jake, the man who saved him on many occasions, to continue operating the Toasted Pelican. Except Jake didn’t leave a will, at least one that Law could find, and he spends months after Jake’s death trying to track down the person who’s taken possession of the place.
That person would be Libby Chesterfield, and her brother Sam, former classmates of Law’s. Their ne’er do well mother claimed shortly after his death that Jake was their father and she had the birth certificates to prove it. Without a will, Sam determines that if they can keep operating the place for a year it will then be theirs. (I skipped Wills & Trust class in law school, but this seems really odd . .. )
When Law and Libby encounter each other – the sparks fly. The physical attraction is obvious. And despite their diametrically opposed interests in the property, they work together to determine who really should own the Pelican. Every time you think they have it figured out, there’s another twist to the story.
It’s a fun romance, but by no means perfect. The references to Libby’s “rack” detracted from the story, especially when paired with the name “Chesterfield.” I wish Libby’s character was more developed. It was hard to like her, especially during the first half of the book. For example, she ground her heel into her daughter’s foot. Who does that?! Other than the aforementioned rack, it’s difficult to determine what Law sees in her. Her character is fleshed out more in the latter part of the book, but at that point it seems too late.
It’s another book I’d love to rate higher, if for no other reason than to encourage more romance for and about Gen-Xers. It’s a fun, but flawed book so I’m going to give it a C.