Saturday, 18 March 2017

3 Favorite Authors, 3 Witty Tweets














Check out the other posts in this series!

Friday, 17 March 2017

So, I Finally Read Binti by Nnedi Okorafor and Here’s What I Thought…



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The cover was perfect.
On a related note, look at what the author had to say about the whitewashing of her covers.

I loved how the acknowledgments described UAE as “futuristic ancient”.
It is such a perfect description because you get this old feel when you visit the place and then there are those skyscrapers that add a futuristic shade to things. Mostly unrelated but reminded me of how a Pakistani artist imagined our country would like in SF mode! Check it out:

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See more of his art here. Anyway, back to the review:
This is how YAs should go!
I mean there’s this teenager who is running away from home, readying herself to face all kinds of racism, just so she can attend a university. I loved that.

Some thoughts were expressed so beautifully…




I might have been reading too much into it but I could see some parallels.
While talking about cooking fish, Binti mentioned:
they lulled the fish into a sleep that the fish never woke from
It reminded me of two things:
a) The Himba are an animist people, which is why they would be gentle towards any organisms they consumed.
b) How as Muslims we have rules upon rules that minimize the pain of an animal prior to being slaughtered for food.

I loved how Binti’s love and respect for her family would shine through her thoughts. For instance, look at this quote:

Would my family even comprehend it all when I explained it to them?
And then, she followed it with another thought that I wasn’t expecting. She didn’t think they weren’t smart enough to understand why she did what she did. Instead, she said:
Or would they just fixate on the fact that I’d almost died…

I kept imagining the Meduse as the love-child of jellyfishes and Cthulhu though I dunno why! While researching that unholy union, I came across this instead:


To summarize, YA done well, in terms of strong, sensible female lead, making it a must-read for all YA lovers out there.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Unbound was an Unimpressive Anthology Even Though it had 5 Big Names in it! Here's my Review...





Ley Line Drifter by Kim Harrison - A pixy tries to solve a mystery and gets more than he bargained for.
★★ I liked how cute it was but there was a lot of repetition.


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Reckoning by Jeaniene Frost - Bones is asked to hunt a ghoul couple in New Orleans by its Voodoo Queen. Of course, things aren't as they seem.
★★★ I liked the darkness and that Bones was able to carry the story without Cat.

Dark Matters by Vicki Pettersson - Dark & Light come together when agents from the opposite side come together.
★ No surprises.

The Dead, the Damned, and the Forgotten by Jocelynn Drake - A vampire fights to keep her domain under her control while she is being framed.
★★ Loved the violence, for instance, check out the quote below:

The fledgling was still in the attic, chained to the wall. For a moment, I wondered if I should go up and free, but quickly shook off the thought and got into the car. If she couldn't find a way to free herself, then she would never survive in my world.

but the story lacked cohesion.

Two Lines by Melissa Marr - A glaistig does her best to fight temptation and stay mortal.
★★ I really liked the parts with the glaistig's family but other than that, the story was repetitive and boring. 


Go here to check out more anthologies that I have reviewed!

Friday, 10 March 2017

#BuffySlays20: My Favourite Buffy Episodes that You Won't Find on Most Lists on the 20th Anniversary of the Show!






Everything about Buffy is amazing, except for maybe the outfits as this Twitter account, Bad Buffy Outfits will tell you. Anyway, #BuffySlays20 and every blog/website will be listing the top ten episodes/plot points etc from the series. On most of them you will find mentions of amazing episodes, such as this one, which according to io9:

Hush” was nominated for a writing Emmy, even though it only has 17 minutes of dialogue. That’s all you need to know to understand how groundbreaking this season four episode was. The Gentlemen, some of the show’s creepiest villains, steal everyone’s voices so they can silently steal some hearts, and the Scoobies struggle to express their feelings to each other in the wake of losing something as integral as human communication. A bold and risky episode of TV, the episode ends up saying so much with so little.

and The Body, which according to News.com.au:

“Mummy?” All it took was one word and all of our hearts broke. Buffy finding her mother’s dead body sprawled on the couch, struck down by an all-too-human disease and not anything supernatural was one of the most wrenching Buffy moments. The sequence that followed of her wandering through the house in a daze, with no score and an almost saturated aesthetic brought home the completely uncomfortable truth of human death.

Of course, how can we forget the scene where Buffy kills Angelous in Season 2, which WhatCulture says is one of the iconic moments from the show! The kiss, the music playing in the background (yes, it is one of the ringtones on my phone), it was all heartbreaking!

All these scenes are undoubtedly amazing but the scenes that stayed with me also include those you won't find on such lists. Here are a few of them:

Killed By Death was one of the scariest episodes for me. It doesn't add to the overall theme of the show and the monster seems like a ripoff of on-screen villains, which it was, and yet I liked how it left me...too scared to go to sleep! 

Xander: You don't know how to kill this thing.
Buffy: I thought I might try violence.
Xander: Solid call.


Halloween (Second Season) is another favorite because of so many reasons. Willow was crushing on Xander and felt invisible like the ghost she dressed up as. Xander went as a soldier and the experience that he gains in this episode filters down to us in the future ones. We also get to see what Giles was like before he became so prim & proper.

Willow: Poor Xander. Boys are so fragile. Speaking of, how was your date last night?
Buffy: Misfire. I was late due to unscheduled slayage. Showed up looking trashed.
Willow: Was he mad?
Buffy: Actually, he was pretty unmad. Which probably had something to do with the fact that Cordelia was drooling in his cappuccino.
Willow: Oh, Buffy. Angel would never fall for her act.
Buffy: You mean that 'actually showing up, wearing a stunning outfit, embracing personal hygiene' act?

Helpless is heartbreakingly sad and damn scary! The vampire that Buffy has to fight, Gile's betrayal, the Watchers' Council politics...all of it made one helluva episode. And then there was this:

Angel: I saw you before you became the Slayer.
Buffy: What?
Angel: I watched you, and I saw you called. It was a bright afternoon out in front of your school. You walked down the steps... and... and I loved you.
Buffy: Why?
Angel: 'Cause I could see your heart. You held it before you for everyone to see. And I worried that it would be bruised or torn. And more than anything in my life, I wanted to keep it safe... to warm it with my own.
Buffy: That's beautiful. Or taken literally, incredibly gross.
Angel: I was just thinking that, too.

I don't remember much about Homecoming but what I do remember is that Buffy looked amazing when she dressed up for the event.
I also remember that I fell in love with Oz when he said:
Oz: As Willow goes, so goes my nation.
Band Candy is memorable for me because I can still see Giles & Joyce behaving like two teenagers and smooching in front of Buffy. Funny as heck! I realized how detail-oriented the show's creators must be when I came across this piece of trivia:

The Cream song that Giles and Joyce listen to is played after Joyce's funeral. Giles listens to it in the season five episode "Forever".

Pangs is another favorite because Angel comes back to visit in this episode. I loved everything about the brief return! It is also funny because of what happens to Spike and Xander.
Spike: A bear! You made a bear!
Buffy: I didn't mean to.
Spike: Undo it! Undo it!

Read other quotes here because the humor in this episode was ah-mazing!
As you watch the episode, you try to hate the entity responsible for the sickness and yet can't...
I can't leave Buffy vs. Dracula off this list for the same reason: humor! Of course, Xander would be the Count's choice for a Reinfeld.
Xander: Where is he? Where's the creep that turned me into a spider-eating man-bitch?
Buffy: He's gone.
Xander: Damnit. You know what? I'm sick of this crap. I'm sick of being the guy who eats insects and gets the funny syphilis. As of this moment, it's over. I'm finished being everybody's butt-monkey.
Buffy: Check. No more butt-monkey.






 
Some quips that you'll love:
 
 


Forever makes the list, as well. I loved how Dawn couldn't think ahead of the fact that she wanted her mom back. I also loved how Buffy tried to dissuade her at first and then couldn't help herself. While we never see the Joyce they raised, this was one scary episode for me!


Here are some more scary Buffy moments:
 
 
 

Chosen is both the last episode of the series and on my list. What comes to mind immediately when I think about it is the conversation between Angel & Buffy. It goes something like this but is way funnier to watch. It is also the episode where Anya, one of my most favorite characters on the show, dies trying to save Andrew.
IMDB lists this on the trivia page for this episode and I thought I'd share it before I ended this post:
Buffy's final line in the show is "Spike." Anya's is "Bunnies."

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Weirding It Out without Weird Enough: Dune Re-Read Update #3





Brief Recap


1. We meet Kynes, the Emperor appointed ecologist on Arrakis who is also a whole lot more but not letting on. People are scared of him and by people, I mean Harkonnen spies! He plans on hating the Atreides but they are just too cute and cuddly for him to loathe. Oh, and he is beginning to link Paul with the Messiah myth in his head, even when he doesn’t want to.

2. The Duke saves some men harvesting spice from a worm attack, even though they have to abandon the harvested product. Who can guess the party behind the almost-accident? That’s right; the Harkonnens! Two Fremen are spotted riding the worm by Paul, which Kynes denies vehemently.

3. It is hinted that the Emperor doesn’t really hate the Atreides but is scared about how popular and loved the Duke is, making the latter a threat that must be dealt with.

4. Jessica and Hawat have a psychic showdown, which Jessica wins (duh) but causes Hawat to be more attentive towards her (not that it did any good)

5. Harkonnens’ plan comes to fruition and the Duke dies while Yueh is not a complete bastard and gives Jessica and Paul a fighting (and since they succeed, escaping) chance.
6. It is revealed by Paul who turns into a computer-ish freak that Atreides and Harkonnens are genetically related.

7. Oh, and the evil Duke is a pedophile who has the hots for Paul!

Find the rest of the review here.

This time, we started with:


When my father, the Padishah Emperor, heard of Duke Leto's death and the manner of it, he went into such a rage as we had never before seen. He blamed my mother and the compact forced on him to place a Bene Gesserit on the throne. He blamed the Guild and the evil old Baron. He blamed everyone in sight, not excepting even me, for he said I was a witch like all the others. And when I sought to comfort him, saying it was done according to an older law of self-preservation to which even the most ancient rulers gave allegiance, he sneered at me and asked if I thought him a weakling. I saw then that he had been aroused to this passion not by concern over the dead Duke but by what that death implied for all royalty. As I look back on it, I think there may have been some prescience in my father, too, for it is certain that his line and Muad'Dib's shared common ancestry.

and read all the way until the end of the second book.


A summary of what has happened until now:


1. Paul & Jessica finally meet Fremen, Stilgar's clan, who are about to kill them but are convinced to take them along. This decision is due to convergence of multiple factors, including Kyne's (who is the Liet) last decree to the Fremen, Jessica's sharp mind, BG myth-seeding, Fremen legends, the duo's weirding ability to fight etc.

2. Kyne is left to die in the desert by Harkonnen and takes part in a huge info dump before he kicks it. The main idea behind that dump and what Stilgar lets on to mother & son is that the Fremen are slowly amassing enough water to change the face of Arrakis. It won't happen in a day, it won't even happen in their time, but the world'd better watch out when it does!

3. We meet Paul's future intended, Chani, who is also Kyne's daughter & Stilgar's niece.


Paul struggles with the pressure of the impending bloody future, crippling presence of prescience, and killing a person not because his life was in danger but because the Fremen was an idiot! The Fremen's wife and two sons are now under his care and will remain so for at least a year. His legend continues to grow and overshadow what he is trying to do.

4. Jessica enters into a whole ritual back at the Fremen settlement and walks out irreversibly changing her unborn daughter and with the memories of the previous Reverend Mothers.

5. Harkonnen is his evil, loathsome self but Feyd isn't a lightweight either. Then there is the emperor who is trying to make things uncomfortable for the both of them.

6. Of the Atreides can, Idaho is dead, Hawat has been employed by Harkonnen (and seems to be driving a wedge between the Duke & his nephew), & Halleck is on board a Guild ship along with a few of his men.


My Thoughts


Wow! A lot happens in this part of the book. I'm not even sure that I got all of it in the summary but I tried. Some parts that stood out to me, included this interaction between Hawat and Fremen:




The "fight" between Fremen and the much dreaded Sardaukar, if it can be called a fight. The Fremen are way way cooler than the Sardaukar, as you will see with this quote:



The Sardaukar approached the waiting group of Fremen in an enclosing half-circle. Sun glinted on blades held ready. The Fremen stood in a compact group, apparently indifferent. Abruptly, the sand around the two groups sprouted Fremen. They were at the ornithopter, then in it. Where the two groups had met at the dune crest, a dust cloud partly obscured violent motion. Presently, dust settled. Only Fremen remained standing.

Paul has all the charm his old man had and commands loyalty from whomever he meets is plain to see in this interaction he has with Idaho:




The imagery that Herbert uses to describe the desert is beautifully done and without any floweriness:


The sun dipped lower. Shadows stretched across the salt pan. Lines of wild color spread over the sunset horizon. Color streamed into a toe of darkness testing the sand. Coal-colored shadows spread, and the thick collapse of night blotted the desert.

Stars!

Something that bugged me was why, if Jessica is so smart & all-knowing, did she manage to get herself silenced by the Fremen, just when Paul needed her advice the most. He could have used her help while fighting Jamis to death. I mean, look at her in this scene where the Fremen are about to leave; she is so regal and everything and then she goes behaving like a pouty teenager!



Oh and the craftiness of the BG! They're like the Aes Sedai all over again:



(Irulan) You must remember that he was an emperor, father-head of a dynasty that reached back into the dimmest history. But we denied him a legal son. Was this not the most terrible defeat a ruler ever suffered? My mother obeyed her Sister Superiors where the Lady Jessica disobeyed. Which of them was the stronger? History already has answered.

(Jessica) Paul must be cautioned about their women. One of these desert women would not do as wife to a Duke. As concubine, yes, but not as wife.
Then she wondered at herself, thinking: Have I been infected with his schemes? And she saw how well she had been conditioned. I can think of the marital needs of royalty without once weighing my own concubinage.


Since I have been scouring the internet for anything and everything on Dune, here is what I have for you today:



Dune Tattoos!







The song is, “Weapon of Choice” by Fatboy Slim and not only does it contain the line, “Walk out rhythm, it won’t attract the worm”, it also features a dancing Christopher Walken. Watch it!

Oh and this joke that cracked me up: