When did name-calling become acceptable behavior?

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Sorry, this post isn’t book related.  I’ve had ‘name-calling’ on my mind for a while but specifically for the last several weeks and today I reached my breaking point.

Several weeks ago I was walking a property with a customer.  As she and I turned a corner in the backyard, one of the neighbors came up to his fence and started yelling at her.  He was upset about, what I considered, several inconsequential things.  But, if he feels he needs to address something with his neighbor, fine.  I wasn’t a fan of his tone but my customer didn’t let it bother her so I ignored it.  THEN…now keep in mind that to this point she had not responded to him at all and had listened calmly…he called her a “fat assed bitch” among a few other choice words and told her not to give him that look.  He walked away muttering.  Some people may think I’m naive but I didn’t grow up in a world where men talked to women that way so it took me a few seconds to even process what had just happened.  My customer then turned to me and said that it was the first time they had ever spoken.  She was fine with moving on but I was shaken.  It wasn’t directed at me but I felt dirty having even witnessed it.

On social media we see name calling every day as a normal course of action.  How sad is it that we consider that “normal” now?  Yesterday Twitter exploded with racist and misogynist attacks on Leslie Jones, one of the stars of the new Ghostbusters films.  She was called horrid names that I won’t repeat…because people either didn’t like the movie or didn’t think it should have been remade with female leads.  Are you kidding me?  Male stars do not have to deal with this level of idiocy.  What has happened in our world that allows someone sitting at a keyboard to think it’s okay to talk that way to women?  (Notice that I didn’t say “some man”.  Some of the worst attacks on women come from other women which is another topic in itself.)

I’ve been clear that I hate politics and pretty much all politicians (there are exceptions where I see someone actually trying to do good but they are too few and too far between.)  Rather than debating issues, most of politics is now “I’m better than him/her” or just name calling.  Regularly, Hillary Clinton is called “Killary” on Facebook along with the old standards, bitch and c***.  Even more disturbing is the regular use of derogatory terms basically calling her a lesbian.  This is supposedly from ultra-conservatives who preach love and peace.  Really?  I’m sorry but Jesus isn’t okay with this.  I don’t remember the passage in Matthew, Mark, Luke or John that said it’s okay to call someone a c*** because you don’t like their politics.

Today the internet is abuzz about Melania Trump.  Again, I don’t care if you agree or disagree with her or her husband.  But, she is a human being.  And a woman.  A mother!  She has been called every name in the dictionary that could be an insult to women.  All of them are disturbing.  But you know what bothered me the most?  “Mail order bride”.  This gem is supposedly coming from liberals who preach that woman are equal and should be treated with respect.  Is that only when they agree with you?  Because I don’t think this is treating her with respect.  Criticize her speech, her politics or her choice in spouse.  But calling an immigrant who has come to this country a mail order bride and making fun of her accent is the height of hypocrisy.

If the best you can do when communicating with someone is to call them a name, then you might want to reconsider your argument.  We need to get back to having serious discussions and not act like chimps throwing poop at each other.

Review: The Nature of the Beast (Armand Gamache#11) by Louise Penny

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When reading a long running series, it’s unrealistic to expect that you will love each installment.  Considering that I’ve given 5-star ratings to 7 of the prior 10 Gamache novels, I was starting to believe that Penny had found some sort of magic formula.  If so, it ran low on fuel for me with The Nature of the Beast.  Don’t get me wrong; it’s still a ‘good’ book.  I just don’t feel it is up to the level of the series thus far.

I’m not going to summarize the plot as, quite honestly, the plot was part of my problem.  It’s too convoluted…which is a disappointment as usually Penny creates great storylines for her characters.  Additionally, I am not a fan of tying two seemingly unrelated plot lines together for the sake of the story.  Hence the convolution.

I also didn’t feel the emotional connection to the characters that I’ve come to love.  Clara? Meh.  Myrna?  All but non-existent.  Even Gamache.  Nothing…

Book 12 will be released next month and I can’t wait to get my grubby hands on it.  I’m sure I will fall back in love with Three Pines and all its’ wonderful inhabitants.

3/5 stars.

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by VE Schwab

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I love a good surprise and A Darker Shade of Magic did just that.  For a while, it was floating around my Goodreads feed and I saw many positive reviews.  But something about it didn’t appeal to me.  I’m not sure if it was the cover or the fact that some readers categorized it as YA.  (Nothing wrong with YA, I just haven’t been in the mood for it.  And, for the record, I don’t consider ADSOM YA at all.)  Then I saw a copy at the used bookstore and decided to give it a shot.  Boy was that the right decision.

This book is wonderful!  It’s a fantasy with a strong foundation of world-building but it is not so ‘fantasy’ that it turns non-fantasy readers off.  Come on, fantasy fans, you know what I mean.  (How many times can I say fantasy in the same paragraph? **whispers** fantasy.)  Some readers have to ease into this genre and a 1000 page Sanderson probably isn’t going to work for them.  However, this 398 page Schwab is just right.

There are four worlds and the only thing they have in common is each has a London.  Grey London has no magic.  White London has magic but is full of people fighting for power.  Black London no longer exists (maybe??)  And, Red London seems to have a balanced magic.  Only two people are able to travel between the Londons and one is Kell, who is from Red London and an adopted son to the king and queen.

The magical system, vivid location descriptions and fast paced story were all so well done.  Schwab also created several interesting characters – primarily Kell and Delilah, a Grey Londoner who gets sucked into a magical fight.

Very highly recommended, especially for those newer to the fantasy world.  I did feel a few of the elements had been done before but that is a very minor quibble.  4/5 stars.

Mini-Review: The Tuesday Club Murders (Miss Marple #2) by Agatha Christie

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Agatha Christie was a genius.  Most of her novels are everything you could ask for in a mystery.  However, as I’ve stated before, short stories weren’t the best format for her and The Tuesday Club Murders is, I hate to say, a showcase in mediocrity.  (And, I guess it doesn’t help that I’m not a fan of Miss Marple either.)

For the first six stories or so, a group of people get together on Tuesday evening for dinner.  It’s a motley crew that includes Jane Marple.  They decide that they will have dinner each Tuesday and alternate sharing mysteries they’ve experienced so that the others have an opportunity to sift through the facts and solve the case.

The second collection of stories is based at one dinner party where they each share stories with the same goal as above.

This book isn’t bad; it just isn’t very GOOD.  I was able to ‘solve’ the cases way too easily in almost every story.  Which brings me to my biggest annoyance.  There really is nothing very special about Miss Marple that would allow her to be this super sleuth.  She just talks about being an expert on human nature because she lives in a small village and is able to watch (i.e. spy on) all of her neighbors.  When the dinner party participants start offering their solutions, she sits there and knits and says “ooh” or her cheeks turn slightly pink.  Invariably, someone asks her what she thinks and she says, “I was just thinking about so and so in the village and how ‘x’ happened.” This leads her to solve the case each time and the others are all so impressed.  Bah…

I will continue to read through the Miss Marple series to see if she starts to grow on me but so far we haven’t had an impressive start to our relationship.  2.5/5 stars.

Review: The Way of Kings (The Starlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson

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Saturday:

Husband: “What is that book about?”

Wife: “Well, I’ve only read 500 pages so I’m not sure yet.”

Husband rolls eyes and says: “500 pages and you don’t even know what it’s about?”

Tuesday:

Wife puts book down after finishing.

Husband: “Ok, now, what is that book about?”

Wife thinks for a few seconds then says: “Morality.  And a pending apocalypse.”

Husband shakes head and decides to just let it go.

 

The Way of Kings is the first in the Stormlight Archive.  Any of you that have read my reviews already know of my love for Sanderson’s Mistborn series.  I wasn’t sure what to expect of this 1000 page monstrosity.  Guess what?  It is in contention as my favorite read of all time.  What makes it so great?  Of course all the Sanderson norms – world-building, character development and excellent pacing.  But there is something else.  Something special that is almost intangible.  (I very much wanted to channel Obiwan as played by Ewan McGregor and say “elusive” in that accent but I digress.)  So, rather than spending a lot of time trying to describe and analyze, why don’t I just give you a few quotes?

“Money is behind every war…Religion is but an excuse. Or perhaps a justification.”

“People see in stories what they’re looking for, my young friend.”

“I told you, old friend…I said that honor of yours would get you killed someday.”

“Death is the end of all men!  What is the measure of him once he is gone?  The wealth he accumulated and left for his heirs to squabble over?  The glory he obtained, only to be passed on to those who slew him?  The lofty positions he held through happenstance?  No. We fight here because we understand.  The end is the same. It is the path that separates men.  When we taste the end, we will do so with our heads held high, eyes to the sun.” 

“I will protect those that cannot protect themselves.”

“Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.”

This gets all the stars in the world plus about a million more.  Love it!

Mini-Review: Death on the Nile (Hercule Poirot #17) by Agatha Christie

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Death on the Nile has all the ingredients that are required for a winning Poirot mystery – exotic locale, travel, complicated love story, sidekick for Poirot who is less intelligent than our favorite investigator and, of course, plenty of red herrings.

This was enjoyable and I’m sure I’ll remember it as one of the best stories in the series.  But, I’m giving it 4-stars rather than 5 because I felt that some of the secondary “love stories” were less than believable.  But, truly, it doesn’t matter.  Christie can do no wrong.  Luckily I have plenty more of her library to read.  Once I finish them all, though, it will be a sad, sad day.

Review: The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2) by Robert Galbraith

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JK Rowling is a master.  She is the Yoda of writing – creating Harry Potter and now Cormoran Strike.

Strike gained some notoriety and was able to build his PI business after he solved the case in book one.  While he can now make a living following cheating spouses and ferreting out corporate spies, it doesn’t quench his investigative thirst.  Even though the prospect of payment doesn’t look great, Strike decides to help a wife find her missing husband.  On top of that he has to deal with his assistant’s fiance (who doesn’t care for Strike very much) and a prosthesis that is becoming more painful.

The Silkworm is a 5-star mystery that is smoothly paced and tightly written.  There aren’t enough superlatives to explain my love for this book.  Instead I’ve decided the best way to pay homage is to flip to a random page and give you a quote.  You see, I know that there are gems on every single page.  So, here we go…page 96.

“Exhaustion was lapping at the edges of Strike’s consciousness.  He wanted passionately to go home, to begin the tiresome process of putting his leg to sleep (as he described it to himself), to close his eyes and attempt eight straight hours’ slumber until he had to rise and place himself again in the vicinity of another unfaithful husband.”

Not purple.  Not overdone.  Just simple, good writing that sucked this reader right inside the pages.