<i>A Crack in the Edge of the World</i> starts off slowly with nary a mention of the 1906 earthquake that flattened San Fransisco. This book starts off slowly and is rather tedious for the first half. Winchester gives us a meandering combination of travelogue, history of central and western USA, and then throws in some interesting trivia about plate tectonics, various geologists and some historical earthquakes. I found the sections that deal with historical earthquakes (such as the New Madrid, Missouri earthquakes of 1811 and 1812) and earthquake measurements and analysis (e.g. in Parkfield, California) more entertaining and informative than the hodge-podge of other trivia. Information dealing specifically with the geology of the San Andreas fault and its oddities was also particularly interesting.
Winchester eventually starts writing about the global geological events that occurred in 1906 as a precursor to the San Fransisco earthquake - that year destructive earthquakes occurred from Taiwan to South America, and Mount Vesuvius erupted. On April 18, 1906 San Francisco was hit by a large earthquake which caused the collapse of shoddily built structures and infrastructure, and resulted in a conflagration that burned for the next three days. An additional horror to the effects of the earthquake and resulting fire was the insurance companies that tried to wiggle out of paying for presumably insured buildings since few people carried earthquake insurance. Winchester also covers the effects the destruction of San Fransisco had on society and politics. The addition of eyewitness accounts makes the effects of the earthquake all the more poignant.
An interesting book that was marred by the author's travelogue musings and erratic organisation.
<i>Hell House</i> is an entertaining haunted house horror story set in Maine, New England. A group of people are sent to investigate the haunted house to determine if there is indeed life after death in one fashion or another. Mayhem ensures. The novel starts off slowly and I didn't really like any of the people involved, but the action picks up in the last third and the ending was rather interesting.
Proceed with Caution:
This book contains homophobia and depictions of vomit and violence.
Luisa: Now and Then is a graphic novel about 33 year old Luisa who is not living the life that she imaged she would as a teenager. Then, 15 year old Luisa appears at her apartment, and the two have a lot of things to work through in regards to what Luisa wants out of life.
I really enjoyed Luisa: Now and Then. I was hooked from the beginning. Luisa is having lunch with a friend and imagines what she'd tell her younger self, which is exactly what doesn't happen when she's actually faced with the teenage version of herself. It's easy to tell ourselves that we'd say something or change this one thing, but when it comes down to it, it's not that simple.
Luisa: Now and Then covers just a handful of days as Luisa and Luisa work through their issues, starting with realizing that they are the same person, despite how impossible that seems. Younger Luisa hates the life her adult self is living, as she's made too many compromises and wound up further from her ideal life rather than closer to it.
The main theme and focus of this graphic novel is actually Luisa's sexuality. At 33 she's still single after a string of unsuccessful relationships with men. She's been repressing her feelings for women for years thanks to things that happened when she was a teenager. However, I found it interesting how young Luisa comes to accept herself. It's not even through her older self, who also needed to learn to accept who she is and live her truth.
I do wish Luisa: Now and Then was just a few pages longer. The ending was very sudden. I kept hitting the next arrow thinking my screen froze! I wanted to know what changes both Luisas made with their relationships and where they wind up!
by K a Knight
Proceed With Caution:
This book contains blood, gore, violence, kidnapping, death, torture, dubious consent, and mentions of suicide, child abuse, and addiction.
Based on those content warnings, it's safe to say that Den of Vipers is definitely dark. It's a Reverse Harem Romance between one woman and four men. Roxy's father sells her to the Vipers to pay his debts. Needless to say, she's not happy with this situation, but she finds herself attracted to these brutal men and realizes that she's just as screwed up as they are.
Den of Vipers popped up in my recommendations because I had read two reverse harem series back to back, so I decided to give it a try. I enjoyed it, but it has its issues. I liked Roxy. She's a no nonsense chick, who isn't going to go willingly with the men who claim she's now theirs. She's even mouthy when being held hostage by the Vipers enemies! I just wish there had been some in-between emotion from her, because she went from hate to love almost instantly. Where was the conflicting emotions?! But this may have also been due to there being exactly zero timeline. Seriously, how much time has passed since the Vipers picked her up and the end of the book? I have no idea.
Den of Vipers is unnecessarily long. There is a lot going on, but it could have been way more concise, particularly in the beginning. Diesel's torture scenes were just extra. We get it, he's a psycho. I don't need to read that much blood and gore. It wasn't shocking or sexy. I kept thinking about how unsanitary it was, which is not likely the reaction the author was going for. Just get to the sex! There's several moments like that, where there's this long, drawn out scene that doesn't really do what it's suppose to do, and it detracts from the main story.
What I did like about Den of Vipers was this screwed up "reverse harem" relationship. I still think that term is stupid, but it gets the point across. Roxy is happily having mind-blowing sex with all four guys with no shame. I was disappointed that she never had sex with all four of them at once though (no DP!). I mean, there's a scene of all of them together, but she never has more than two of them at once. Total missed opportunity. But each guy is into something a bit different, so there's never the same sex twice!
It may seem like Den of Vipers is just a bunch of sex and violence, but there actually is a pretty good plot. It doesn't really show up full force until about two-thirds in, but it's hinted at in the beginning. Basically someone is selling their secrets and put a hit out on them. The Vipers have to find out who's talking and take out all of their enemies, because it's totally believable that four men and one woman can take out dozens of other men. But we're not here for believability, so I'll let that slide. Garrett also has an interesting personal plot, which would have been enough for me without the rival gang aspect added on.
In the end, Den of Vipers was an enjoyable read. There's possibly too much going on and it's not all handled the best, but it's an entertaining piece of work.