Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist – Sunil Yapa

29098211I found the torture and brutality used by the police against the WTO protesters hard to read. These horrible actions should never be forgotten, but unfortunately I had. I had to go back to news reports about the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle and what they were protesting about. This news report from The Guardian is really informative and well worth reading. After I read it, I was horrified at the bullying tactics used by the US against poor countries as well as Europe. No wonder people were angry about what dirty deals were tried. I was glad that the African countries had banded together to resist the US robbing them blind.

The novel itself is told first person through a number of actors – three police (one the chief), the pc’s son, two protestors and a WTO delegate from Sri Lanka. The story is choppy and there is a lot of focus on police violence. I found out that the original novel was longer and on a laptop which was stolen from the author and these parts are the rescued parts that were worked on. This doesn’t explain the choppiness though. Sentences are either short and snappy or long and trying to evoke emotion. These didn’t evoke any emotion in me because the violence became the focus. It was hard for me to read because I am soft hearted and can’t stand cruelty against any animal (including humans). Funnily enough, medical images of surgery or other procedures don’t bother me (mostly). I also thought to myself that not only were the police reduced to thugs, they had become militarised and since then, police violence in the US has been the norm.

I don’t think this was a particularly well written novel, but it did something important: it reminded a lot of people about the WTO protests and why they happened.

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Cost by Roxana Robinson

This novel could have been great if not for the disjointedness of the father’s musings on6149512 his medical career as a well respected neurosurgeon and the second son’s descent into heroin abuse. These did not marry well into the story and sit apart from the narrative. Even with the main character’s struggles with the superciliousness of her father, her grief over her second and favourite son and her struggles as a visual artist, it wasn’t enough to save it. The descriptions of the holiday house in Maine is lovely and the passages about the adults and their problems with their multifarious roles in life (the child, the lover, the spouse, the parent) have some wonderful moments. But on the whole, I think this novel needed some more work and thought put into it.

Wicked Stitch by Amanda Lee

I brought this book into hospital with me thinking – a cozy mystery, this should keep my22891389 mind off things. It did until I got to ‘… the both of …’. Then it started to annoy me. Then there was a second act of bad grammar – ‘… the both of …’ again!! Then the relationship between the main character and her detective boyfriend was just too sickeningly sweet. Ugh! The dog and rabbit making friends was sweet, but got a little too much and really, what sort of hunting dog makes friends with a rabbit? I hated the condescending nickname the boyfriend had for the main character, and the food they were eating sounded ick. All those croissants with chicken salad filling, not to mention all the pizza and other junk! How obese are these people? Pity because the mystery part was good but not enough to rescue this. I could go on but maybe I should stop my rant here before I get all annoyed again. You can bet that I am not going to read another in this series, or anything by this author.

Wayward by Blake Crouch

17920175I seem to be in the habit of reading books that are midway or the last of a series. However, it didn’t matter that much to me for this one. Wayward is a page turner, but there were some things that annoyed me about it. Firstly, there was a lot of short sharp sentences¬† like this:
xxx
xxx
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that were designed to build tension. They worked initially but then they started to appear too often which meant the tension evaporated. Secondly, evolution doesn’t work that fast. 2000 years into the future and humans will probably be the same (if we haven’t destroyed the earth by then). The creatures made me think of polar bears. They also reminded me of the Eloi from The Time Machine (so many time travel stories echo the HG Wells classic – I guess it can’t be escaped). Humans are also very hard to control – just look at any news story. The creepiest control story I’ve read so far is 1984, and this is because it is so close to contemporary authoritarianism (totalitarianism / fascism) that it is totally believable. But control only lasts for so long as so this story proves. The question I was always asking myself about this was what was the big man getting out of all this? I couldn’t see any benefits or pluses or… Plus, the big man’s surname was always distracting me because that is the surname of the systems guy at the department where I work. That sort of affected the tension for me too.

The ending leaves you on a cliff-hanger and the edition I got from my local library had a small sneak peek at the opening of the final installment. It didn’t grab me enough to want to find out what happens.

The Days of Anna Madrigal – Armistead Maupin

18586505This is another book doing double duty across challenges – Nevada for my North American book tour and LGBT romance for Read Harder 2017. I didn’t realise when I chose this book for Nevada that it could also work for a challenge in Read Harder, so that’s a plus! I was going to read The Catch Trap by Marion Zimmer Bradley for the LGBT romance challenge but that’s a read for another day (it’s very long!).

This is the final (maybe) tale in the Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin. I’ve not read any of the other books in the series but it was easy to get the feel of the characters. It’s a sweet tale about an aging transgender lady called Anna Madrigal, and her friends. Various love stories are woven around two trips to Nevada – one to the Burning Man Festival (a creative, radical sustainability festival – with art!) and a homecoming/leave-taking trip to Winnemucca where Anna grew up. The writing itself isn’t brilliant, but the story is enough that the actual construction of it doesn’t matter that much.

One thing to point out about this tale is that although Maupin is gay, you don’t get the feeling that that has anything to do with the stories and characters. It also avoids being political – there is no whiff of activism at all. There is no – see, we are human and have feelings too! People are just people who have love affairs, crushes and friendships.

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