Tag Archives: Feminism

Winter is icumen in

Winter is icumen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ram

And Winter is the Winter Sisters, Victory, Payton and Willow. Each with their own special gift and ability and each falling in love with a different soldier in the elite squad of Army, Navy and Airforce. Author Joanne Jaytanie.

The series I am reviewing contains 3 novels, the latest published being Willow’s Discovery, published this October, which I read first through NetGalley.

This series is far from finished as far as I am concerned, as although each sister now has a mate – there is so much more that can happen to other characters and in the story-line.

So yes, I started with Willow’s Discovery and was only a quarter of the way through when I realised I wanted to read the first 2 books as well. I could read the 3rd book first but it would have been better to read them in the correct order.

Now the story line of all 3 concerns DNA being manipulated to give us extra fierce soldiers –this isn’t a new idea. The concept of the formidable soldier is common in fantasy but for me what was new was that the characters were splicing wolf genes into the soldiers to make them bigger, stronger, and fiercer.

And two of the alpha males – yes they are all alpha males in this story as they are members of the elite squad mentioned above – have been experimented on with these wolf genes with very different results. But many of the males and females in this series have extra abilities and they haven’t had wolf genes added, and the question never answered (but it was raised) in the books is – was there some gene manipulation going on in utero?

Interestingly, I am now reading another series of books where again canine DNA is inserted into soldiers to make them fiercer – the fantasy series of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter and Fairest.

Having come across this idea by two authors I thought I would look into what was happening with canine DNA and why this idea had come to these authors. And to my surprise found that canine DNA was being used for disease studies in humans [see the articles from the dmm.biologists organisation; National Geographic; Genome Research].

It appears that dogs get similar diseases to humans with the same genetic and environmental factors involved. These genes relate to diet and digestion, and neurological processes and disease which have evolved parallel in both species due to living in the same shared environment. These shared diseases include obesity, OCD, epilepsy, and cancers especially breast cancer (cancer is twice as common in dogs as in humans), and retinal diseases including cataracts.

Dogs only share 84% of our DNA  as compared to chimpanzees – 98.8%, monkeys – 93% and mice 90%, but we share some 360 genetic disorders with them, even though some of these only occur in 40% of dog breeds such as the Doberman Pinchers with inherited narcolepsy which has enable scientists to understand the molecular mechanisms of regulating sleep. And the last item explains something about why these stories include Dobermans as they were clearly being used in the genetic research of the organisation.

And I also looked into Tollers as they were a new breed of dog to me. Not that that’s saying a lot as there are so many new breeds appearing at the moment…nova-scotia-duck-tolling-retriever

So the basic stories were about criminal behaviour, kidnapping, torture and unusual experiments and general mayhem and brave deeds by the alpha males with feisty females assisting using their special powers. A good mix of fantasy and war stories, with some organised fraud and crime thrown in for good measure.

I really enjoyed all 3 of these books and am inclined to give them all 5 stars.

Enter the Queendom of the Red Academy

The Rise of the Red Queen

By

Bourne Morris

An interesting title for this novel, as reading  it you might assume the book was fantasy or YA in genre. But no such thing. It is a crime novel set in a university.

The Red Queen of the title is an academic whose rise is chronicled through the faculty management structure to being Assistant Dean in this university set high above Lake Tahoe in the Nevada Hills, and who has red hair.

She is thus commonly known as ‘Red’ and many of her colleagues see her as their born leader and that they are members of the court of her faculty.

However, not all members of the university appreciate her qualities and there is still a significant misogynistic element  amongst them. Especially in the higher management echelons.

Prejudices and academic rivalry abound and are very intense and even lead here to murder and criminal behaviour.

And then there is the warped mind of one of the community who abducts a young girl. So within this story, other stories intertwine here there are mysteries and suspicious behaviours and suspicions that leave you guessing.

A note here on academic tenure in American universities (generalised).

Tenure in American universities is extremely hard to achieve.

It requires not only a PhD but a significant body of publications, grants, and conference appearances achieved; and then you have to be liked by all the members of the faculty committee that will review your record and award you tenure – or not.

Tenure, is effectively for the rest of your life. It is almost impossible to be fired, and it is very much your choice as to when you retire. Only about 2% of tenured Professors are fired each year – and then it has to be for ‘due cause’.

And: “As a tenured Professor, you are free to do your own work, your own way” (quoted in the book).

The probationary period averages three years for community colleges and seven years at four-year colleges. This is a period of employment insecurity almost unique among U.S. professions. People denied tenure at the end of this time lose their jobs; tenure is an “up-or-out” process.

During the probationary period, almost all colleges can choose not to renew faculty contracts and terminate faculty without any reason or cause. Throughout this time, senior professors and administrators evaluate the work of new faculty-teaching, research and service before deciding whether or not to recommend tenure. The most recent survey of American faculty shows that, in a typical year, about one in five probationary faculty members was denied tenure and lost his or her job.

No more than one-third of all college and university faculty members are tenured. The reason? More and more colleges are relying on part-time or temporary nontenure-track faculty to teach undergraduates — part-timers constituted about 38 percent of the professoriate in 1987 and grew to 43 percent in 1992.

http://www.nea.org/home/33067.htm

Blood and Knives = Red

Red Hourglass

by

Scarlett Risque

Red is the blood that drops from her fingers – as red as her name is Scarlet.

Sharp are the knives she uses to cut the flesh – snip and swish and slide and slink, but always in. Knives are a motive, a tool, an obsession.HourGlass_Shapes

Yet for a time she can overcome her programming, a programming that began when a ‘mother’ appeared for a lost, hungry and despairing homeless teenager. A mother who provided a home; sisters; love; and a  reason to live. A mother who sheltered, taught and programmed obedience into all her girls (daughters). To disobey a request / order was to be killed by a sister, and even the thought of disobedience was anathema.

So what ‘tasks’ did Mother want her daughters to do? Well each tasks was given a rationale that it would  , the economy, the local businesses, or the local residents. To defeat the large and powerful on behalf of the small and lowly and weak. A compelling reason to kill? To murder? She argued it well and they believed. They had to believe for this is what she trained them, educated them, for.

Each daughter specialising in differing skills but for Red it was the knife and she always obeyed until she met someone she didn’t want to kill.

This book highlights the problems of homelessness and the abuse of young girls that leads them to want to join a ‘family’ aka a gang, that will love and support them. The same psychology that keeps gangs together and enables an end justifies the means attitude.

A gang leader influences and controls the members, sometimes through intimidation and always through manipulation of the emotions that enables to continue their control.

Each leader will have a special ‘second’ in command who ensures that the will of the leader is carried out (Mother’s biological daughter). They will also dominate the lower ranks. Pack instinct and the desire to conform and be accepted and love by the pack keeps each member motivated to remain within the gang.

It is clever in this book to use the girls as assassins and gang members as it is often, erroneously, thought that female gangs are less violent than male. In the right circumstances they can be just as dangerous and violent or more so.

I enjoyed this book more as a story of female gangs and how girls can be programmed into violence, than the romantic relationship aspects. I quite understand why the relationship had a sado-masochistic element as a result of Red’s programming but I did not see it as a relationship that would last once lust had been fulfilled. I was not convinced by the ending or the exploration of Red’s emotions.

The author says that The Hourglass series is a sociopolitical discourse about capitalism and how top down decisions affects the lives of ordinary people. I am fascinated with financial centers and major property acquisition players. My approach is unique as I do not state the obvious but let the reader decide what is obvious to them.

I saw this element in the rationale behind the assassinations but felt that it could have been brought out more – the ending did not emphasise this enough.

Thinking back over the writing style and general story-telling, I would not read another in this series.

3 stars.

Just how do you catch a member of the aristocracy?

The Viscount’s Xmas Temptation

By

Erica Ridley

If you can manage a Duke’s household- surely you can find yourself a husband in two weeks?

After all managing to triple your dowry in three years must surely make you eligible to someone?

But you need (want?) a title for your children, so no barons or viscounts. No going down the nobility hierarchy and marrying beneath you when your father was a Duke and your brother is too. Chart_of_Social_Hierarchy_of_England

And you don’t want to be bored so you need occupation – suitable of course – so you need to find a way to meet the eligible men, and the answer of course is a ball. To be organised within 11 days no less.

And instead of a memory palace, there is a memory pantry. Items are filed under the letters of the alphabet and then associated with items in the pantry eg F would give you flour and you would associate flour with whatever you were trying to remember, something light and white and powdery probably.

And just when was the wet t-shirt invented? Clearly 1815 – masked balls with dampened muslin dresses to make them transparent!

And remember the lack of underwear as we know it… especially at night when bosoms were frequently on show – often to an extreme…

muslin dress

If you want know something more about muslin dresses then go to: https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2011/09/08/muslin-muslin-versatile-cloth-for-regency-fashion/ where there is a good article/s explaining the cloth and dresses etc.

And http://www.rakehell.com/article.php?id=387 has a good article explaining undergarments and what type of dress was worn when.

I liked this book and the heroine – she really appealed to me. An independent minded person with a mind that was incredibly organised (mine isn’t but I would refer you back to my discussion of memory palaces last year) and who knew what she wanted and how to go about getting it.

4 stars.

 

 

Scarlet Women: An author explains

 

An interview with:

Scarlet Risque 

 author of:

Red Hour Glass

  1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?

The Hourglass series is a sociopolitical discourse about capitalism and how top down decisions affects the lives of ordinary people. I am fascinated with financial centers and major property acquisition players. My approach is unique as I do not state the obvious but let the reader decide what is obvious to them.

  1. How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

The Red Hourglass took four years to write and I was actively writing the book in five different countries. I research different topics that interest me on a daily basis through a combination of Wikipedia, news, YouTube, books and talking to people who are in similar positions or characteristics to those I write of.

I visited New York twice (2011 and 2013) and wrote the subway scenes by spending a long time observing homeless people begging for change. It was a novelty to me, and I was immediately drawn to that. I wrote the first scene of the White Queen finding Mary in the subway back in 2011 as I was inspired by the subway stations of New York City when I first visited.


  1. How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

I believe that we write based on what we know over a period of many years and try to condense it in a novel form that is easy and enjoyable to read. Most of the research literature I read are academic and non fiction, they hold no interest to most people.

I wanted to write something I would love to read and still have something to think about. I prefer reading books that allows me to question and find out more answers for myself. In this sense, I try to do just that.

  1. What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?

Interviews with famous actors on YouTube is my favourite resource as I can play back and study their word choices and way of thinking, to get into their “heads”.

  1. How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

I would prefer to casually chat with anyone no matter what their position or authority as they give inspiration to different things. I don’t believe in stereotyping. A good way to approach someone is always to get a referral from a friend who knows that person, so that he would speak as naturally as possible instead of putting a professional front. I prefer the realness to my character development sketches. I don’t sketch my characters just based on one person but a few different people usually.

  1. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

I went directly for self publishing.


  1. Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

Above answer.

  1. Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

I haven’t reached this stage yet, it is something to consider to reach a different target market. It would really depend. From where I am at, most physical book stores and music shops had closed down as they are unable to meet the rent. I believe the trend is towards virtual publication and virtual outreach.

  1. Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

Definitely not. My previous income was much higher as I used to do consultancy. I felt dead inside. Despite the external achievements and materialistic acquistions, it gave me no sense of fulfillment. I gave up my shadow life to pursue writing. I had cut back on my expenses and traveling. Some rewards cannot be measured in monetary terms. I used to dread waking up, but since I turned full time as an artist, I wake up before my alarm and I feel energised to take on the world. I receieve fan mails daily and I feel that is the greatest reward that my work has impacted others.

  1. What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour?

I am on a YouTube “book tour” at the moment on my own channel. I am surrounded by my Knights and minions. What is funny is one of my Knights commented he was waiting for me to do a Sharon Stone Basic Instinct move by crossing my legs. But I didn’t. Haha!
Red Hourglass Available Now: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Kobo International, Barnes and Noble
Weekly YouTube Episodes: The Scarlet Queen YouTube

Follow Scarlet Risque: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, Amazon, Wattpad
Website: http://thescarletqueen.com

 Red-Hourglass-3D

Scarlet Risque Releases Her New Romantic Thriller: Red Hourglass

Singapore – A POWERFUL, MYSTERIOUS woman finds a homeless girl in a New York subway and adopts her. Janet swears loyalty to the White family and they train her at their Academy as a secret agent. Before long, her transformation into the Red Hourglass—an assassin—is complete. She is ready to start her missions in service of the White Queen.

In order to learn the whereabouts of her real mother from the White Queen, the Red Hourglass must stop the planned expansion of Wilmar Enterprises. She goes undercover to infiltrate Wilmar, and she is hired as the executive secretary to the Chief of Security, Conan Casey.

Janet works diligently to uncover all Wilmar’s secrets. She soon learns that Conan Casey, her target, is heir to the billion dollar Wilmar organization. She falls prey to his dark seductions and twisted secrets … and they leave her gasping for more.

About the book:
Red Hourglass by Scarlet Risque
ASIN: B0179EKC70
Publisher: ScarletCorp
Date of publish: October 2015
Pages: 249
S.R.P.: $0.99

About the author:
Scarlet Risqué stars in Scarlet Queen YouTube with over a million views. She is the author of the Hourglass (Romance/Thriller) Series. She holds a degree in business. She uses writing, dance, and theater to explore her dark and light desires. She’s a poetic soul where pain and pleasure meet and East collides with West. She is passionate about traveling, dancing and kink. She loves her cat and crystal collection.

Each book in the Hourglass Series has a female lead searching for her identity and truth in today’s world. Set against a backdrop of globalization, these stories of intrigue and espionage are full of undercover agents and themes of dominance and submission.

 

Feminist? Humanist? Means to an End?

Just recently, having watched Suffragettes the movie, and been reminded about how long it has taken for so many women to achieve human rights, I was again reminded by an email that starting in November, women worked the rest of the year for nothing. Equal pay has still not been achieved for so many women.

I am also now a member of a Refugee Action Group raising funds and awareness of the plight of refugees both here and abroad and one of the issues we see again here is the plight of many women who are now refugees fleeing from oppression, rape and war.

I also note that rape is not a permitted reason for the Northern Irish woman to ask for an abortion and that this has just been ruled as a breach of their Human  Rights.

So I decided to take myself off to a lecture hosted by the British Humanist Society on Feminism and Humanism at UCL. This was the Bentham Lecture for 2015 and was given by Professor Rae Langton of Cambridge.

Some readers may not be aware of what the British Humanist Society stands for let alone who Bentham was as you may only have come across him if you learnt about British social and political history, so I’ll give some brief introductions to them before going on to talk about the lecture as this helps set the scene.

The British Humanist Society is a charity that works on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical lives on the basis of reason and humanity. They promote Humanism, a secular state, and equal treatment of everyone regardless of religion or belief.

Now, despite what they say, you can also be a humanist if you are religious as the key to being a humanist is that you judge for yourself what is right and what is wrong based on reason and respect for others. You use empathy and compassion to try and improve the world for all.

I will come back to this meaning later as it was a core element in Prof Langton’s speech.

Bentham was a very interesting man. He was a philosopher who lived in the late 18th and early 19th century. He was a child prodigy being able to read a history of Britain as a toddler and started learning Latin at 3 years. He went to Oxford at the tender age of 12. He is mainly known for his doctrine which was intended to guide the law, practice and belief – the greatest happiness of the greatest number.

This was very much a utilitarian view of the world and humans – individually we are a means to an end. Also we are motivated by a desire for happiness and to avoid pain. Fundamentally we are only concerned with our own well-being – the community is a fictitious body merely the sum of the interests of the several members who compose it.

He was part of a group of philosophers who agreed that many of the social problems of the time were a result of an antiquated legal system and control of land and capital by inheritance and thus the landed gentry.

Professor Rae Langton has been called the 4th most influential women thinker in the world and was listed in Prospect magazine as the 18th most important thinker –  note the difference in numbers here between women and men… which of course is why the lecture was so important. She is considered such an important academic that she has a Wikipedia page.

Most of her work is concerned with speech and pornography etc and she has studied and written extensively about Kant. So I am going to make a short diversion here to also discuss Kant as without Kant her lecture on feminism and humanism could not be understood.

Immanuel Kant is an important philosopher with regard to Humanism. Kant lived in the mid to late 18th century and it is said that he lived a very boring life! He never left his home town and was extremely regular in his behaviour – such that his neighbours literally could set their clocks by him. From Kant we can draw a statement that Humanism is an end in itself and not a means to an end.

Prof Langton took this and other Kantian writings about how we can choose our behaviour and know its causation to mean that we are born with choices, we always have options. There is a wrongness in treating humans as things with no choice. If humans are things then we can oppress them – we can impose a role upon them externally to themselves. Thus we see the role of women being imposed upon them by men or by people being classified as slaves with no rights to their own-selves – they are objects.

The issue is that at times, as philosophers such as Simone de Beauvoir say, women may willingly conspire with this role as is easy to live with no choice and to have one’s behaviour and even thoughts dictated to one.

In the lecture it was agreed that one is not born a woman but becomes a woman through behaviour and belief. But if a woman is a thing, an object, one cannot have an authentic relationship with her – the ‘other’ remains alone in this relationship. The ‘other’ is the only human that counts in this relationship. Their will predominates.

Martha Nussman, another female philosopher with a Wikipedia page and to be found discussed in Prospect magazine has come out with 7 features which identify objectivism:

  1. instrumentality: the treatment of a person as a tool for the objectifier’s purposes;
  2. denial of autonomy: the treatment of a person as lacking in autonomy and self-determination;
  3. inertness: the treatment of a person as lacking in agency, and perhaps also in activity;
  4. fungibility: the treatment of a person as interchangeable with other objects;
  5. violability: the treatment of a person as lacking in boundary-integrity;
  6. ownership: the treatment of a person as something that is owned by another (can be bought or sold);
  7. denial of subjectivity: the treatment of a person as something whose experiences and feelings (if any) need not be taken into account.

Rae Langton added three more features to Nussbaum’s list:

  1. reduction to body: the treatment of a person as identified with their body, or body parts;
  2. reduction to appearance: the treatment of a person primarily in terms of how they look, or how they appear to the senses;
  3. silencing: the treatment of a person as if they are silent, lacking the capacity to speak.

Do you recognise any of these features in the treatment of women? Do you believe that objectification is always bad? How does it link to Feminism? Or Humanism? Or religion for that matter?

All these and more are questions we women of today should be considering. Just what in our familial socialisation makes us a woman? If we are not born one? Is it right and correct that we should be taught a different set of rules according to our gender? And just how do  we know what that gender is? What about transgender people? How would we know whether they are women or men? And remembering that gender is not so black and white but many shades of grey, are we or they, objects or means to end, or ends in themselves?

So look at the TV programme by Tyger Drew-Honey and think on these concepts of gender and wonder again, just what does being a woman mean?

 

 

 

Wicked? Or?

Wicked Beautiful
J.T. Geissinger
Publication date: December 1st 2015
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance

Life coach and best-selling author Victoria Price has it all: a successful career, fabulous friends, a fantastic penthouse in Manhattan. What she doesn’t have—and doesn’t want—is a husband. Fifteen years ago her high school flame broke her heart so badly she swore she’d never love again. Now she makes millions teaching other women how to be just like her: a ruthless bitch.

Drop-dead sexy restauranteur and infamous playboy Parker Maxwell has only three rules for the women he dates: no questions about his past, no expectations for the future, and no spending the night. When he meets Victoria, however, he’s willing to break his own rules if it means sating the explosive desire she arouses in him. What he doesn’t know is that the alluring Victoria Price used to be the mousy Isabel Diaz, the girl he deflowered and dumped long ago.

Presented with a perfect opportunity for revenge, Victoria decides the game is on. But when her connection with Parker proves more than just skin deep, she has to make a choice: continue with her plan for payback, or risk her career, her reputation, and her heart by taking a second chance on love?

Goodreads / Amazon

Teaser15

 

Author Bio:

J.T. Geissinger is an award winning and #1 internationally best-selling author of smart, sexy romance.

She is the recipient of the Prism Award for Best First Book, the Golden Quill Award for Best Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, and was a finalist for the prestigious RITA© Award from the Romance Writers of America. Her work has also finaled in the Booksellers’ Best, National Readers’ Choice, and Daphne du Maurier Awards.

Cat lover, wine enthusiast, and nap connoisseur, she lives in California with her husband, on whom all her heroes are based.

To receive notification of new releases, sign up for her newsletter at http://www.jtgeissinger.com

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

Hosted by:

XBT250