Linda78

DNF @ 28%

Standing Alone: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam (Plus) - Asra Q. Nomani

88 pages all saying about the same thing: radical Islam hates women. Which I didn't even need to read one page to know that. There are certainly a lot of interesting things here, and I enjoyed what I learned, especially about the roots of Islam and how it's changed. The issue is that while this is technically well-written (the author is a journalist and knows her grammar), it's not very absorbing. It's repetitive, and reads like an article rather than a book. Half of these 88 pages could have been trimmed out without losing anything essential.

Reading progress update: I've read 31%.

A Storm of Swords - George R.R. Martin

YES! Burn that muffa down!

 

Connection Error

Connection Error  - Annabeth Albert, Sean Crisden

As with the previous two books in this series, traveling and getting to know each other while trapped together in a confined space plays an important part in the MCs' relationship. Unlike the previous two books, they weren't frenemies beforehand, and the traveling didn't force them to come to terms with their differences and learn to appreciate each other, with that appreciation quickly turning to love. 

 

I said in my review for the second book - Status Update? Or was it Beta Test? I don't really remember which one came first or second. - that they were too similar to each other and I probably would've done better to wait to listen to the second book so I could better appreciate it on its own merits. And that's why I waited so long to finally get around to this one. Well, that's one reason. The other would be Sean Crisden, who is at best a meh narrator for me, so he doesn't exactly inspire me to rush out and get his books. Yet somehow, despite his meh-ness, I still really enjoyed this book. 

 

I was really pleased to see that this book deviated a bit from the previous two. Ryan doesn't work for the video game developer that Josiah works for, so the first time they meet is on their flight, which they're both taking for different reasons. So there's none of that boring frenemy nonsense to bog through. They hit it off immediately and forge a really strong friendship while geeking out over the video game expansion packet Josiah is developing. 

 

And then they land - and Josiah realizes for the first time that Ryan, the super hunky Navy SEAL he's been sitting next to this whole time, is a double amputee, missing both his legs - and in true Josiah fashion he blurts out the most horrible insensitive thing you can say to an amputee. It doesn't matter that he doesn't mean it in a cruel way, that he's just stating the obvious in his shock. It's a bad thing and he knows it and immediately tries to apologize. Thankfully, Ryan's able to forgive him and their friendship continues.

 

A lot of this is told through their various texts and emails as they have a friends with benefits relationship long-distance while Ryan does his rehab in Texas Josiah works on his video expansion pack in Germany and California. We get to see them actually be friends and come to care for and like each other in that capacity. Yes, Ryan knows very early on that he wants more than just friendship, but there's no instalove here. I loved pretty much everything about their relationship and how it developed. Ryan takes longer to get to where Josiah is, but he's actually there a lot sooner than he realizes or admits. 

 

While I did like seeing them chit chat back and forth, these parts did kind of drag a wee bit. I'd have skimmed/skipped right over all those To:s and From:s and Subject:s if I were reading this myself so I could get to the actual messages faster. Crisden naturally had to read all those headers out in full. Also, Crisden does this weird thing with his voice when he's reading their texts and emails, like he's almost trying to make them sound a little robotic or automated. Or maybe he's just being typical Crisden. Hard to tell.

 

All the rehab stuff with Ryan and his goals and ambitions were very well done. I can tell the author did her research, and while I can't validate any of this as authentic, it did seem to be stuff that a double amputee would be reasonably expected to tackle during his recovery.

 

Josiah's issues at work though - I feel like Josiah got shortchanged in his own book. We get to meet Ryan's rehab team and see him doing his rehab and having his setbacks and successes and frustrations. Josiah's issues at work, leading a team for the first time and dealing with his ADHD and how that makes people undermine him, is mostly given lip service. We're told about it, but we don't actually see it. There's only one scene in the entire book at his job. One! Everything else we hear about secondhand, and not even from Josiah some of those times. And for all that we're told his ADHD can make reading social cues difficult, other than that first snafu on the airplane, we're also not really shown that either. There's so much focus on Ryan, that Josiah just got shifted to the side.

 

If there had been a better balance of scenes, I'd have given this four stars easily, but as it is, 3.5 is the best I can do.

The Mermaid Murders (Audiobook edition)

The Mermaid Murders: The Art of Murder, Book 1 - Inc. JustJoshin Publishing, Kale Williams, Josh Lanyon

Well, this is a first - my rating actually went down on a reread. The book just wasn't as effective for me in audio and knowing the outcome already tended to show its flaws more.

 

The narrator, Kale Williams, has a decent enough voice, but I never really warmed up to it, and I had to listen at 1.25 speed just to be able to listen to him. At regular speed, he was just too slow (most narrators are, to be fair) and he didn't really bring the story to life - at either speed, really. Much of the atmosphere that was so intimate when reading it myself was lost in the audio, at least for me, and it was the atmosphere that made up a big part of the story.

 

Then there's the story itself. A lot of the impact of the first read was learning who the whodunit was. This time around, I was looking for more specific clues or hints, and there really weren't any. And that whole climax was just non-sensical, to say the least. They really should've just pulled you know who into questioning while they called in backup to look for you know what, but I guess that wouldn't have been as exciting - and it wouldn't have given Jason a chance to face his fears, but that wasn't a big enough plot point for me to overlook the TSTL there at the end, not this time around anyway. Plus, knowing the ultimate reveal makes everything that comes before it rather a moot point, so while it was still interesting, at least in relation to Kennedy and his precarious position in the bureau, and to a lesser extent Jason's connection to the previous murders, it didn't really hold interest for the mystery itself. I was getting rather impatient with all of it, actually.

 

The biggest mystery continues to be Sam Kennedy. While I liked Jason a lot, I never got why Sam liked him - or at least why he liked him as quickly as he did. Except that this is m/m, and in order to be m/m there must be the sex, and in order to have the sex the MCs have to find each other appealing in some way. I still think this would've worked better as a dual POV instead of getting everything from Jason's POV. 

Ten Simple Tips for Surviving the Apocalypse

Ten Simple Tips for Surviving the Apocalypse - Cari Z.

Why yes, I just did use my "WAFF" tag for a book about the zombie apocalypse. What of it?

 

This was cute! Like puppies and kittens in springtime! Just ignore the killer mutant hordes coming to eat your face off. You'll be fine. There's even a quiz at the end that ramps the cuteness factor up to eleven.

 

I did think the romance was a bit on the thin side, but that didn't really bother me, since this is a fun breezy read and anything too angsty would've messed up the tone. Still, if you're looking for steam, look elsewhere. The epilogue could've answered a couple of extra questions than it did, and it was never explained what caused the plague, but again, not a big deal that it didn't. 

Moon Over Soho

Moon Over Soho  - Ben Aaronovitch, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

"For a terrifying moment I thought he was going to hug me, but fortunately we both remembered we were English just in time. Still, it was a close call."

 

 

I'm confused by what this series is doing with its vampires. On the one hand, they don't sparkle and that's always a good thing. Aaronvitch is definitely doing something different with them than the same-old, same-old, which is also good. But... jazz vampires? That's either really brilliant or really lame. But they're still not sparkling, so they're several points ahead of some other vampires I could name but won't. ;)

 

If you're familiar with The Dresden Files, I'd liken these vamps more to the incubus vamps in that series. It's certainly interesting, but it also sets up an rather contrived series of events that leads Grant to the whodunit and it just doesn't really get me throwing up the jazz hands, if you get my drift. It also raises some questions that I'm hoping get answered in the next book.

 

And while Peter continues to be a darling, I have to say, I can't get terribly choked up about some vampires getting dusted. (And now I'm wondering if the creators of Grimm are fans of this series. That show can certainly be described as a cross between Supernatural and Peter Grant/Rivers of London.)

 

I'm pleased to say that the narrator does a much better job here than he did with the first book. He must've gotten some coaching tips between books because none of the constant asthmatic breathing is present here. It's a very smooth narration, and despite his voice still being sexy as hell, I was actually able to concentrate on what he was saying. :D

 

This was still loads of fun, and I'm looking forward to continuing the series.

Play Dead

Play Dead - Avery Cockburn

This is the ending I wanted for Playing To Win. Playing To Win set up this great and fantastic dynamic between Colin, a poor uni student and football player who grew up on government benefits, and Lord Andrew, who is obviously very much the opposite of that. I've always loved their dynamic, because while there was no pretending that Andrew holds more power socially, politically and financially than Colin ever will, Andrew willfully gives up power in the bedroom - and Colin is more than able to take control. Seeing Andrew slowly have his eyes peeled open about social injustices and seeing how they both have their insecurities based around their family dynamics made Playing To Win a real treat. And then it ended rather abruptly, with all the plot threads summarized and wrapped up in a pretty bow without showing us how any of that happened. I was bummed!

 

So getting this novella, which deals with the aftermath of Colin's and Andrew's assault, finally filled in some of those things that were skipped. Andrew's struggles with his PTSD felt real and not melodramatic, which for this drama queen is saying a lot. Colin's struggles to get back into physical shape to start playing football again were also given their due attention. I still would've liked more with Andrew's family but what we do see is well written. 

 

As some of you may know by now, I don't read BDSM, so I skipped the one scene that included it. I did skim the beginning and end of the scene, enough to get the gist of what happened, and the following chapter filled in all relevant information. I didn't feel like I missed anything important, and getting to see Colin take such great care of Andrew following that scene

which ended because Andrew started having a panic attack during it

(show spoiler)

just made me appreciate their relationship more. These two are so adorable and perfect together, I could squish them! So if you're hesitant to read this because of the BDSM, rest assured it can be skipped. 

 

Oh, and as for Evan? I need his story NOW! He just got a billion times more interesting.

Life Is Awesome

Life is Awesome - Jordan Castillo Price

This book made me so angry! I wanted to punch a certain someone in the face and now I want - no - NEED - a Mnevermind/Leverage crossover to make things right. 

 

Let's go steal us a mnem!

 

 

Okay, now that I got that off my chest, I loved this! It's not quite as good as Forget Me Not, but what can really compare to Elijah's POV? I liked the way the story progressed here. Some things were left (understandably) unresolved, because not everything in life does get resolved. I was bummed though that

Daniel never told Elijah "I love you". He kept thinking it while they were in mnem. He should've said it! The ending would've been the perfect time to say it. 

I was also waiting for Daniel to take Larry's comment about mneming at home to come up with a mobile mneming business, but that never came up again either.

(show spoiler)

If this means there's a potential for a fourth book somewhere down the line though, I'd be down with that. :D *hint*hint*nudge*nudge*

 

It was so gutting to see Daniel go from disillusioned to hopeful, to see Elijah and Big Dan come up with ways to take some of the pressure off Daniel for his dad's persistent mnem, and to see Larry again who is always a hoot and a half, and to see Daniel actually be able to relax for once - only to see it all blow up 

because of Delmonico's backhanded tactics to steal Life Is Awesome and drive Daniel out of business. And Chuck has the nerve to ask Daniel for a job reference! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Hadouken to your faces!

(show spoiler)

Once again, if something appears too good to be true, it probably is.

 

But Daniel takes his lumps and keeps on trucking. He may be more pessimistic than his father, but he got his resilience from his dad, and Elijah's teaching him how to hope again. He has to go through the worst to see what's best. Or as a hobbit near and dear to my heart once realized, "the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach." [Excerpt from Return of the King, by J.R.R Tolkien, "The Land of Shadow"] And a life well-lived is the best revenge, and all that.

 

Though I personally think revenge, in this case, is a dish best served cold. Eliot? What do you think?

 

 

Now THAT would be awesome. ;)

 

My only wish is for more Daniel/Elijah relationship development. There is some, and what we get is great, but it felt shunted to the side what with everything else going on. This could've been a little longer to give us more cuddle time with these two, and then this would've been perfect.

Reading progress update: I've read 26%.

A Storm of Swords - George R.R. Martin

Seriously, Robb?

 

SERIOUSLY?!!!!

 

 

After all your other monumentally bad ideas. There are not enough palm faces.

 

And then Jaime and Brienne.

 

 

I'm barely a quarter of the way through this book. HOW IS IT GOING TO CRAP ALREADY?!

 

Like I need to ask. I know how. It's all because of this sadistic bastard! I hate him! (I don't hate him.)

 

Forget Me Not

Forget Me Not - Jordan Castillo Price

OMG THIS BOOK IS AMAZING AND I LOVE EVERYTHING IT CHOOSES TO BE!

 

I loved so much that we got a book from Elijah's POV. Now, I'll say upfront I'm not autistic, so I can't say if this is an accurate portrayal of what it's like to be autistic. JCP says in the afterword that she did contact people who have autism and did her research before writing this, and from everything else I've read by her, she takes her craft seriously. So I trust her to make this as close to possible as an accurate portrayal as she can get - bearing in mind that autism is different for everyone who has it. But I'll leave it up to readers who are autistic to make that determination.

 

What I did appreciate about this was that it gave Elijah a voice. It let us into his thought processes and his emotional processes, both of which were often hard to discern in the first book through Daniel's POV. We see how he processes information and how he filters everything that comes his way throughout the day. We also get to learn more about his background and his problems at work. He's a fully developed character, not a list of behavioral traits.

 

It was also fascinating to watch him and Daniel figure out how to communicate with each other, and to see Elijah so excited to figure out he's gay and not being worried or afraid to pursue that part of himself. Not that it's all easy. He does have challenges from outside to deal with, and those parts were rather tense reading about.

 

This book was a treat and I'm already plowing through the last book in the trilogy. 

The Crown Tower

The Crown Tower: The Riyria Chronicles, Book 1 - Michael J. Sullivan, Recorded Books LLC, Tim Gerard Reynolds

Hadrian and Royce are back...in time! No, they didn't time travel. This is fantasy-lite, not sci-fi-lite. ;) But this prequel goes back to when they first met and follows them on their first adventure together, when they were just as much a threat to each other as the enemies chasing them.

 

I was hoping that jumping to the prequel would show an improvement in story structure and writing, and that bet paid off. This was much better paced, with a stronger sense of the main characters' POVs and not so obvious twists. I was especially interested in how Hadrian and Royce went from not trusting each other to becoming the BFFs we saw in Theft of Swords. This is just the beginning - there are twelve years between the starts of these two series - but it's a promising beginning. We also spend time seeing how Gwen gets started in Medford.

 

I would still like to see more fantasy in this supposed fantasy series, instead of the sprinkles we get here and there. But as a fun, easygoing romp, this series hits the spot.

Reading progress update: I've read 22%.

A Storm of Swords - George R.R. Martin

SAMWELL, MY BEAUTIFUL BRAVE BOY! 

 

He just leveled up to Badass.

 

I knew you had courage in you the whole time. <3

Wizard's Holiday

Wizard's Holiday - Diane Duane

The first 70% of this wizard-exchange holiday was everything you'd expect of alien wizards visiting and getting to know other worlds and cultures: good, wacky fun; some clashing of worlds; and nice, relaxing kickback time at the beach. The last 30% proves that there's no such thing as a holiday for our poor wizards.

 

 

The pacing did feel a little off on this one, and with Nita and Kit's half of the story in particular, the resolution almost feels like it comes out of nowhere. I'm sure there are hints there that I didn't pick up on, but it felt random. 

 

I did love all the exchange wizards, especially Filif, and even Roshaun grew on me (though he's still a douche). It was great to see Dairine's growth since the start of this series, and in this book particularly as she deals with the massive drop in her power levels and having to do wizardry the "regular" way. Seeing her and Harry get some bonding time after the events of the last couple of books was nice too.

 

There were a few dangling threads at the end of this, no doubt set up for the next book, and while the main conflicts are resolved, the ending felt abrupt.

 

This isn't my favorite Young Wizards book, but it's still a lot of fun.

SPOILER ALERT!

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit - Jaye Robin Brown

Word of Caution: If you hate the Big Misunderstanding trope, then avoid this book, because the entire thing hinges on it. Not only is it a "big misunderstanding" but it's perpetuated by one character consistently lying to everyone, and not even for a very good reason. Well, she thinks it's a good reason. Me? Not so much.

 

This is the second F/F book in a row with a punk lesbian. I guess this is a common enough thing to already be a recognizable trope? Aren't there country-loving lesbians? Or jazz-loving lesbians? Or hip-hop loving lesbians? WHERE ARE MY HIP-HOP LESBIANS?

 

But seriously, this book is both complicated and simple. It's told in a simple, rather straightforward way that rarely delves into the depths that this book could easy delve into given the subject matter, mainly how do LGBTQ+ individuals who need faith in their lives deal with the hurtful messages that too many churches STILL put out there because they're stuck in medieval times. I was looking forward to that aspect of it, because too often the one sole religious person in M/M books often acts like he or she could be an offshoot of the Westboro Church family tree. I know many people of faith, some who are close-minded in that way, but others who really embrace Jesus's teachings about acceptance and loving each other without judgment. So let's look at both sides of the spectrum and everything else in between here, right?! Except it never really happens. *sigh*

 

Jo's dad, who runs his own evangelical radio show, accepted his daughter without hesitation when she came out to him. And now that he's remarried and his new MIL has a stick up her butt about EVERYTHING, and because they've moved to a more conservative, smaller town, he asks Jo to lay low. That is, go back in the closet. And she agrees. So she can get her own radio show that she unironically calls "Keep It Real." I say unironically because she's completely unaware of the irony of the title while she's lying about herself to everyone around her. 

 

Except one boy she meets and befriends. She tells him immediately. Which pretty much pulls the rug out from under her every other time she tries to explain to herself why she can't tell the truth to her girlfriend she's so super in love with. Oh, no! Can't do that! And it leads to one ridiculous, cliched "twist" after another until I just wanted to smack her Cher-style.

 

 

Oh, Cher. Where are you when we need you most?

 

I do like the various different characters. There's a weird subplot with Dana. It was nice to see how Joanna and Elizabeth eventually work out their issues. When Joanna does finally stand up for herself, that's pretty great too but comes a bit too late in the story, so that everything after that is rushed. Joanna overall is a passive character and except for that one moment of backbone, she never really stops being passive. Barnum was great, as were George and Gemma. The pastor of the other church, the not-friendly-to-gays one, has this weird quasi-transformation, maybe? It doesn't really go anywhere. 

 

So I guess there's a hopeful message in here. And I guess this is eventually about being true to yourself, even when that self isn't who you originally thought it was. But for each thing I found to like, there was another thing that annoyed me in equal measure.

Theft of Swords

Theft of Swords - Michael J. Sullivan, Tim Gerard Reynolds

One of my friends described this series as fantasy-lite and boy is it ever. Hadrian and Royce are fun protags, but the stories are on the thin side. 

 

I didn't realize this volume has two different stories, so I was getting annoyed at how quickly the first story appeared to be resolving itself. But even after realizing what was going on, the writing and resolution of the first story is still too reliant on villain monologues. The story didn't take any unexpected twists and the characters don't have much depth. The second story was somewhat better in construction and the way it was paced. The fantasy elements are slow to be integrated, maybe to ease the reader into the world? Though I'm not sure why a fantasy fan would need such easing. (Ok, GRRM is on the feet-dragging side of this too, but his characters and their various relationships are complex and complicated, and the world they live in feels real. And even when the villains reveal things, you can't be sure they're telling the truth.)

 

The narrator has that fantasy-type voice which works well with the narration, but he doesn't have much range on the voices. A lot of the characters start sounding the same after awhile.

 

These are decent stories and fun, but I can't say I'm tempted to continue. I did pick up The Crown Tower during Audible's last sale, so I'll try that one next and see if some of these issues get improved upon or not. 

Midnight Riot (or, Rivers of London)

Midnight Riot - Ben Aaronovitch, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

Oh, boy, that was fun! And funny! This is like the UK's answer to Harry Dresden - if Harry was way more mellow and his dog was a slipper with ears. Harry's dog might be named Mouse, but he ain't tiny. :) Toby still has it where it counts though.

 

Survey says: Harry kicks ass; Peter is swell bloke.

 

The world-building was pretty well-developed throughout the story, not just for the magic stuff but for London itself for us non-Londoners who don't know how London works. I imagine it's told in a politely backhanded enough way to still be amusing to those who live there though. We're told only what we need to know when we need to know it, and aren't info-dumped for no reason, yet it still manages to set things up for later books.

 

The case was interesting and certainly unexpected.

Punch and Judy is just messed up, y'all. And to think that was considered appropriate entertainment for the whole family back in the day.

(show spoiler)

Leslie looks like she's getting set up to be the Murphy of this universe, only much more mellow and less awesome. Though she could still end up being awesome later. We'll see. 

 

I'm not sure at all why the American publisher changed the name of the book from Rivers of London - since the rivers actually are pretty important - to Midnight Riot. Sure, there's a riot and it happens at night, but it's not even the climax of the book. Com'n. Did they really think we'd need the promise of a riot to get us interested? That's horrible. This isn't like trying to get kids interested in a bunch of old guys sitting around discussing the meaning of life to a bunch of rocks (BORING!) versus wizards doing cool magical stuff with stones (AWESOME!). There was just no reason to change the title, and maybe it's just me, but it also introduces an unfortunate (most likely completely unintentional) racial implication. Peter's mixed-race. There's a riot. Must be connected, yeah? Let's make it the title! Boo! Bad job, American publisher! Bad job! 

 

The narrator, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, did an okay job. He has a nice voice, all silky and rich and mmmmm...wait, what was he saying? ;) I did tend to get caught up in the sound of his voice and miss the actual words he was saying, having to go back and re-listen and mmmmm... :D The downside is that he really needs to learn how to breathe properly when he's narrating. Lots of deep inhales at pretty much every stopping or pausing point. Comma? Time to breathe. End of sentence? Time to breathe. I did listen to the sample for the next book, and he seems to have improved on this point, so I'll continue with the audios.

Currently reading

Wizards at War
Diane Duane
A Storm of Swords
George R.R. Martin
Progress: 31 %