Book Review - The Black Cat
The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"Yet, mad am I not — and very surely do I not dream. But to-morrow I die, and to-day I would unburthen my soul."
Dark. Psychological. Traumatic. Thrilling. Suspenseful.
Those are some of the words that come to my mind when I contemplate about this short story by Edgar Allan Poe. You can tell that he is in his element, writing in the style of suspenseful drama to keep the reader on pin and needles. If you are a fan of the classic "The Tell-Tale Heart" or "The Oval Portrait," I can assure you that you will enjoy this short read too.
The story begins with the narrator making an ambiguous confession, it is clear that his mind is a little unhinged. He begins the tale where he is a young man, innocent and kind to both fellow man and creature, but his nature begins to alter into something far more sinister. The reader observes his gradual degradation, the manner in which he treats his wife and his devoted black cat, Pluto, until it becomes clear that he has become something of a monster in his own household. How will this story end? You will have to read the book to uncover the truth? I can assure you that this story is not what you expect, and the last few lines will stay in your memory forever. A thrilling read, and one that I highly recommend to those that love Gothic horror or dark supernatural tales.
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The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"A SPECTRE is haunting Europe - the spectre of Communism."
Naturally this first line hooked me, and immediately I found myself turning the pages with awe and utter fascination. Marx is a naturally prolific writer, and no one can deny his natural abilities to persuade the readers to agree with his arguments. Growing up in Canada, the mere mention of Communism was something of a taboo. No one is allowed to speak about it in public or even in academic settings. I was aware that there was an underground Communism party at my University Campus, but I was still ignorant of their arguments or the reason the hammer and sickle was ever apparent on the grungy brick walls across campus. After reading this book, however, I can now understand the appeal of Marx's words. There is a wave of electrifying energy in it, a call to arms to fight back against the bourgeois and the aristocracy. A cry for man and woman to band together, to create a union where they can unite under a common cause. There were points that I could agree with him, and see the failings of the Capitalist society, especially in our modern age. There were a few sections in particular, which immediately grabbed my attention. For instance, Marx wrote:
"The essential condition for the existence, and for the sway of the bourgeois class, is the formation and augmentation of capital; the condition for capital is wage labour. Wage labour rests exclusively on competiton between the labourers."
This argument brought forth two ideas: the question of the bourgeois existence and the issues with wage labour, or even the problem of minimum wage. I have heard lots of economists argue over the issue of minimum wage; the difficulties of raising it because it negatively effects businesses and mitigates their profits. I have even heard some Free Market economists argue that we should get rid of minimum wage all together, and let the employer choose the prices. This freedom would be beneficial for the "bourgeois" but what about the proletariat? Will they have any say at all? And would that not increase the level of competition between the labourers as they fight for high paying jobs? It would undoubtedly go against Marx's ideals, which believe that the proletariat should come together in a single union to propagate their own ideas.
The entire argument over Capitalism and Communism has been going on for centuries. Each side has their pros and cons, and even now when we look at the 21st century we can see how each country has benefited from their political ideologies. At the present moment, America is become less of a superpower and their "Free Market" is steadily turning into a Socialist regime. When property is steadily being taken over the State, taxes against the rich increase, and instruments of productions are gradually being taken up by the Government, you can only wonder where is the fine line between Capitalism and Socialism. Is there a way to balance between the two? And as the United States Government changes from the far right to lean over to the left, it makes you wonder about the future of the United States. We all know that the FED is printing out trillions of dollars for covid relief funds, and that they are slowly slipping towards the edge of inevitable bankruptcy (if the money printer continues to go), so what will happen when Communist China eventually emerges as the next world superpower? Does that mean that Marx's ideologies are right? Or do we as a society must admit that each ideology has their own merits, and that we cannot simply choose one over the other?
I suppose "The Communist Manifesto" got me thinking about the politics and the power of the Government. It made me think about the ever widening gap between "the half and the half not." The fact that homelessness is growing in the United States, or the fact that in my own hometown the housing crisis and inflation is only making things harder for those that are homeless or living below the poverty line. The Free Market is supposed to benefit everyone and we go around saying that we can live "The American Dream," but you have to wonder if there is a myth behind that Utopian ideology. In a world where there are billionaires flying up to space, and others so poor that they have to walk for miles for drinkable water, you have to wonder if Capitalism is the way to go? Are we simply kidding ourselves? Or is it a lesser evil to the ideas of Communism?
I will leave the final words of Marx, to display his true power when it comes to persuasive writing:
"Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win."
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Free Short Story!
Here is a quick and easy link to access this short story. A perfect read for any Jane Austen fan!
Book Review - Foggy Panes
Foggy Panes by Thea Winthrop
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I believe I had the wrong expectations when I purchased this book. I was expecting a historical romance novel, but it was something entirely different. I suppose the first chapter was a precursor of the things to come; the main character was practically wet with anticipation as she awaited a sensuous night with her lover after the ball. I have no problems reading smutty books, just was not anticipating it to be at the level of BDSM erotica.
I highly enjoyed the historical aspect of it, however, the setting of Austria in the 1880s was absolutely exquisite. Superb! I love historical novels, and the author did not disappoint when it came to the historical accuracy or allowing the reader to effortlessly slip into that time period. Another feature I noticed was the LGBTQ romance, which was unexpected, but really tender-hearted and pure. I found myself rooting for the two lovers in the hopes of them finding happiness.
The low ratings is not a reflection of the author's writing capabilities, it is only a result of the BDSM erotica genre that does not appeal to me. The whole "Savior" and "Sinner" complex before the sex scenes where Stefan would ultimately "punish" the main heroine was severely off-putting for me and the main reason I was not able to complete the novel in full (rest assured I did try).
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