Linda78

Devotions: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship and Sacrifice

Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice - Adam Makos

I started this one with the audiobook which I borrowed from my library. For those of you who complain about audios that are performed, this is the audiobook for you. Hoffman's narration was technical and dry with zero emoting at all. It was incredibly difficult for me to listen to. I found my mind often wondering and having to rewind several times, and even then I couldn't keep my attention on the story for very long.

 

I got to about 75% and gave up, switching over to the paperback. I spent most of yesterday skim-reading the first 340 pages to pick up all the stuff I missed while listening, and finished up the last few chapters last night and this morning and looked at the various photos and maps that the audio obviously doesn't have. The writing flowed much better once I was reading it.

 

The Korean War is known as the Forgotten War, or as the veterans of that war call it, the Forgotten Victory. Many of them were already veterans from WWII, and many others had been too young to fight in WWII but were now fighting in this war. I didn't know much about the Korean War before going into this, so it was interesting to learn more about it, what forces were involved, what the stakes were and all that. 

 

This war also started just a few years after Pres. Truman desegregated the military, but there was still Jim Crow in the south, and segregation laws throughout much of the US, including D.C. and California. The book gives some accounts of the early lives of Tom Hudner, a white man from a wealthy New England family, and Jesse Brown, the navy's first black officer, from a poor sharecropper family in Mississippi. They would become friends once they both got assigned to the U.S.S. Leyte. It also focuses on a number of the other pilots in their squadron, and how they all bonded in their first year together.

 

Once the book gets to North Korea and the battles that took place there in the first year of the war, up to the battle of Chosin, it includes accounts of the Marines that the pilots of Squadron 32 helped to defend. There's also an account about a third of the way into the book of their stay in Cannes where many of them met a young Elizabeth Taylor, and I felt that part was rather meandering and didn't really amount to much.

 

Makos doesn't stray into dramatics. He reports the facts and relays them in an approachable manner. He interviewed many of the men he portrays here, as well as their friends and family, and even went to North Korea to interview veterans there when Hudner returned there years later, which is true dedication. The writing is simple but not unmoving when it needs to be. 

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Wisehouse Classics Edition) - Frederick Douglass

There are two introductions preceding Douglass's autobiography, one by a journalist William Lloyd Garrison and one by an abolitionist Wendell Philips who knew Douglass. They're not really crucial to the narrative itself and they can easily be skipped, but I did in the end appreciate reading them if only because of their core message which I kept in the back of my head while reading the atrocities that Douglass had to endure while a slave: he had it easy.

 

Baltimore might be in the south, but it's a far cry from the Deep South and the cotton plantations that comes to mind when most people think of slavery. To be "sold down the river" was equated with death because of how much worse slaves were treated in the Deep South, but the slaves in the rest of the south were hardly treated kindly. There are instead degrees of cruelty.

 

Douglass details his life growing up in Maryland, the various masters and slave bondsmen he served, how he learned to read and write and use that to his advantage and how that knowledge also made his enslavement that much harder to deal with. He describes the abuses and murders he witnessed in his young life and some of the whippings he endured himself. He's unflinching, eloquent and starkly honest about it, and his observation of the hypocrisies of the southern "Christians" who were Christian in name only but not in deed.

 

He doesn't give any details of his escape, citing the desire to keep those details from the slave hunters who would use that information to capture other slaves running for freedom. He even admonishes some of the Underground Railroad participants who were so proud of themselves they bragged about their deeds, thus endangering the very people they were supposed to be helping to save. (Why does there always have to be people like that?) There are a few details of his escape here, along with more details of his life after arriving in New Bedford, CT, and coming to the notice of the abolitionist party.

 

He wrote a couple other autobiographies, and I hope to find time to read them one day. 

The Color Purple

The Color Purple - Alice Walker

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”

 

I still remember the first time I saw the movie The Color Purple. It was at home, when it was on TV, and I was probably around 7 or 8. I only understood about half of what was going on, but it spoke to me. Celie's love for her sister Nettie and her strife living with Mr and her friendships with Sofia and Shug, all being filtered through Celie's open and loving heart caught hold of my own heart.

 

It wouldn't be until my late teens I finally read the book and fully comprehended everything that went over my head years earlier, and to reread it now nearly two decades later I see the themes here in a way I couldn't back then. But at the heart of it, it's still that same story of self-discovery, of love triumphing over hate - if not injustice - and learning to be comfortable in your own skin, learning to listen to your heart and the hearts of those around you. It's learning that even when you lose all hope, there's still more hope left to discover, that bad things will happen but good things will happen too. 

 

 

The book also examines the racism in the deep South that existed after the end of slavery, during the Jim Crow years, but doesn't stop there. It examines, through Nettie and her missionary work, how it also tore apart the African tribes at the start of the slave trade and continues to damage it to the present day. It doesn't let anyone off the hook. It examines the struggles of people of color, and especially women of color in a time when no one cared about them. 

 

It could be a very depressing book with all the issues it tackles, not just racism and gender inequality but also rape, incest, injustice, domestic abuse and cheating - nearly everything I don't like reading about all in one book. But from the POV of Celie, as she prays to God and later writes to her long-lost sister, the story flows with a strange mixture of innocence and knowing that helps sooth over what would otherwise be very difficult passages to read.

Around the World in 80 Days (Extraordinary Voyages #11) (Audiobook)

Around the World in 80 Days - Jules Verne

This started off a little slow, with all the boasting and detailing of bets of whether Phileas Fogg actually can make a trip around the world in eighty days. But once he got going and he got framed for stealing money that put Det. Fix on his trail, it got more interesting. Fogg also picks up a French servant, Passepartout, who is quite endearing and faithful to his employer. Fogg starts spending money like a politician on the campaign trail in order to win his bet, and the various obstacles he meets along the way are met with a cool head. A little too cool. Fogg was a hard nut to crack, but I still found myself more engaged with this story than with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. This one does have the same broad generalizations and stereotypical portrayals of any culture not English as 20K Leagues did, so fair warning there.

 

I actually didn't know much about this one before going in. Like with 20K Leagues, I knew of it and the general idea of what it was about, but not much else. The various methods Fogg takes to get around the world were interesting, if not downright absurd. There's this weird passage once they get to America where Passepartout listens to a Mormon elder lecturing about the church. Weird for me anyway, since I never expect to see Mormons portrayed in things yet I keep stumbling upon them in older works like this. I keep thinking that my Mormon upbringing gave me a skewed perception of how influential the church was at that time, but I guess not if first A.C. Doyle and now Jules Verne felt compelled to throw something in their books about the church for absolutely no reason whatsoever. 

 

I thought the character of Aouda was pretty pointless, and it makes me wonder if Verne just didn't have much exposure to women. Also, the narrator Frederick Douglas, could not do a woman's voice convincingly at all and settled for talking in a falsetto for her parts. Thankfully (or offensively? LOL) she didn't have much to say so I didn't have to put up with it much. Speaking of the narrator, he read pretty slowly, but once I sped him up to 1.20 times the reading went more smoothly. (What did people do when books were on tape and couldn't be sped up except to fast forward, making it sound like the Micromachine man on helium? Progress, y'all!)

We Go Forward

We Go Forward - Alison Evans

This was cute. Rather light on plot, but still a nice read. There's no romance at all here, which I actually liked. It's so rare to find a book that features a friendship at the heart of it. It's as it as a society we're saying that friendships are less important than romantic love, and that's nonsense. Especially for those of us who have never had, nor want to have, romantic love.

 

This is the story of two women from Australia who meet up in Germany. They're there for different reasons, but both just needed to get away for awhile. Christie is ace aro and embraces it. She's also plus-sized and makes zero deals about it. Roslyn is bisexual but after a bad breakup is not looking for another relationship. They meet shortly after Roslyn touches down in Germany and has no clue what she's doing. Christie helps her out, and they quickly become friends, and over the course of the book they become best friends as they tour Germany, Belgium and Austria. Along the way they meet up with another pair of girl friends (it's not defined if they're romantically involved or not) and really, when was the last time you read a book or saw a movie about girls on a road trip? Boys, yes. Girls and boys, yes. But just girls? I honestly can't think of one. 

 

I did get a bit annoyed at Roslyn's constant tweeting and going into fits when she has no internet connection. The constant tweets to her sibling Jalen, who is genderqueer and uses the pronouns they/them (which just confuses the hell out of me; I'm used to "they" being plural), but since we never meet Jalen those interactions - if you can call them that - doesn't resonate much. 

 

This also needed another pass by an editor. Words were either missing or were misused a bit more than I can overlook, though it's not overwhelming. A good example is when one of the MCs is trying to have a conversation in German and not understanding anything, she says the other person notices their "incomprehensible faces." Erm, that should be "uncomprehending." I'm not sure what it would take for a face to be incomprehensible. Nose upside down? Mouth where the ears should be? 

 

Overall, a fun little story. I got a good chuckle at some of their TSTL antics (few and far between). I did wish it had a bit more depth, but for a light read it worked.

The Wayward Prince (Mind + Machine #2)

The Wayward Prince (Mind + Machine #2) - Hanna Dare

The first book showed a lot of promise, and this one continues to build on that. It still reads a lot like Firefly fanfic (with some Skynet shenanigans thrown in) but I'm enjoying it. Capt. Sebastian is still firmly rooted as Capt. Malcolm Reynolds in my mind, and Mags as Zoe and Simi as Kali. The other characters I have no issues seeing as themselves, but they also don't get as much page time, though we did get to know Lydia a bit more in this one. We also get to see Rylan and Jaime, but the focus of this book is Sebastian and his one-time lover Ren, from whom he stole his ship. Ren has a job for Sebastian and his crew - stealing back the Heart of Arcadia, the literal family jewel and heirloom to the monarchy. 

 

Of course, things go wrong and there's much hijinks, and that was all fun. But I mostly enjoyed seeing more into Sebastian's head and getting to know Ren, who we meet here for the first time. Sebastian's got a lot of guilt over stealing the ship and running out on Ren the first time and is determined to make it up to him. Ren's trying to figure out where he fits in the 'verse, since finding the Heart of Arcadia will throw some complications into his life he'd rather avoid. The romance is pretty standard as far as M/M goes, but the MCs are engaging.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Audiobook)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Michael Prichard, Jules Verne

Wow. Captain Nemo be cray-cray.

 

And he must be mega rich to have the Nautilus built. And super genius to figure it all out in the first place.

 

So like I said, cray-cray. :D

 

All the numbers and "math" thrown around over this vessel was rather ridiculous, but the action was fun and the ordeal that Dr. Aronnax, Ned Land and Aronnax's servant have to endure being imprisoned on the Nautilus by Nemo, who is so in love with his independence living under the sea that he can't fathom letting them go free lest they tell anyone else about it, was intriguing. I felt especially bad for Ned Land who, as his name suggests, rather prefers hard earth under his feet. 


Still, the story tended to meander and then the ending kind of peters out. There's also the adventure on the island of Paraguay (I think?) with the "hostile natives" that doesn't age well at all. 

 

I liked the narrator, Harlan Ellison, for the most part but I did think he performed a little too much, which is not something I tend to complain about. I just wanted him to calm down a little during the action scenes and not be quite so awed by the discoveries Aronnax made while on the Nautilus.

The Silver Music Box (Silver Music Box #1) (Audiobook)

The Silver Music Box - Mina Baites, Alison Layland

From the blurb, I thought this was going to be about Lillian finding out about her roots and trying to research where her family came from and what happened to them during WWII, but that part of the plot doesn't come in until a little over 2/3s of the way through the book. Instead, it starts out with Johann Blumenthal fighting in WWI for Germany, then follows through to his son Paul at the dawn of the Nazis taking over power and Paul's eventual attempts to get his family out of the country. When things are looking grim for them, it then drops that storyline and jumps forward to the 1960s to Lillian, where I thought the story was going to start.

 

It was a bit jarring to start off, since I wasn't expecting the story to be so linear, but in the end, I found it more effective getting to know the Blumenthal's and seeing their attempts to stay in Germany as long as they could before realizing - perhaps too late - that they needed to flee to save themselves. It was disheartening to see them doing everything they could to be good Germans, in a Germany that cared about them less and less, and to see the small steps that began to segregate the Jews from the main populace more and more until the Nazis were in power and didn't care about being quite so subtle anymore. 

 

This is compounded when they end up in Capetown in South Africa - they're safe there, but all around them is apartheid - which was implemented based on Aryan propaganda and laws.

(show spoiler)

 

I did feel at times that the characters were there more to serve as plot points, and Charolette suffers the most from this since she mostly just reacts while Paul is making all the preparations. Knowing how many women worked in the underground and resistance forces during WWII, I would have liked to see Charolette take a more active role. 

 

I also would have liked more time to get to know Lillian so her story arc could have more weight, but seeing her so driven to find out everything she could about where she came from and what happened to her family was touching nonetheless. 

 

The narrator, Jane Oppenheimer, who I first heard narrating The Moonlit Garden, was an odd choice I think for this story. She has a very mellow and soothing voice, which dulled the tension from a story that really should have been tense.

Widdershins (Whyborne & Griffin #1)

Widdershins  - Jordan L. Hawk

Reread review 1/20/19:

 

No wonder I couldn't remember some of this. I read it three and-a-half years ago! ;) Time flies.

 

Whyborne and Griffin are the best. <3 I really enjoyed revisiting them at the start of their relationship, and seeing how much they've both changed and grown in confidence and strength since this first outing. Whyborne's so used to abuse and bullying that just Griffin being nice to him is enough to endear Griffin to him. And Griffin is so used to being abandoned that Whyborne sticking by him in times of trouble is enough to make its own impression. They're exactly what the other needed. <3

 

Christine's as great as ever. I still think making Ms. Parkhurst

fall for Persephone is a retcon. She's clearly crushing on Whyborne this whole time, but suddenly she's into a squid monster. Ooookay. Sure.

(show spoiler)

I'm going to try to be more open-minded about Niles, since as of book 10 I still have reservations about him. He was somewhat less awful here than I remembered him being - though he's still plenty awful, no question.

 

Original review 6/7/15:

 

I held out on delving into this series for the longest time, because historicals, especially in M/M are almost never done to my liking. They're too contemporary, or they're costume dramas, or they've got the sickly waif, or what have you. I've really only enjoyed Tamara Allen's works because she gets into the mindset of the time and doesn't try to modernize them. Ms. Hawk doesn't quite come up to that standard, but she comes incredibly close. The characters sound like they're from the turn of the century, more or less. They don't go gaga over the dress of the times; there is no more attention paid to anyone's garb than there would be in a contemporary fiction. So I liked this book just for that right from the start.

 

Then the plot starting picking up. Historical AND paranormal? Two genres I'm usually picky about. I'm trying to get into shifters, but so far I've only read THIRDS and that fell flat. Vampires? Even if I hadn't had my fill with Anne Rice in high school and with Buffy/Angel right after that, I do believe Edward Cullen has ruined the genre for the rest of humanity and all of time. Harry Dresden works for me because it's from the POV of someone working to oppose those forces and it doesn't get overly angsty, and that's more or less what Ms. Hawk does here as well. There is some angst, thanks to that Big Misunderstanding, but I wasn't bothered by it because of the way it was resolved. The paranormal element takes front and center, and I liked seeing Whyborne struggle to understand it and resist its lure. I thought the family conflict was resolved a bit too neatly, but I'm willing to see if it's resolved for good or just put on hold due to traumatic circumstances. 

 

I really enjoyed Whyborne and Griffin. They're not as cut and dry as they appear to be. They both have past struggles to contend with and past regrets that haunt them, but they're a good match for each other. You could see Whyborne slowly growing more confident in himself as the book progressed. Griffin too gets some development, but as the story is told through Whyborne's POV, we only get to see it secondhand, but we do get to see it and experience it. Then there's Christine, who in my mind looks and acts much like Marvel's Agent Carter. She's the perfect woman and I hope she becomes a regular character and a part of their team. 

 

There were a few typos, words repeating where they should have been edited out (no, not the stutters), and a couple of other minor instances but nothing overly glaring. There was just the right amount of sex, at least for me. And while this isn't quite instalove, they do fall for each other fairly quickly if you pay attention to the timeline. Still, with the focus being primarily on the investigation, that didn't bother me all that much. I'm much more forgiving of that trope when the characters are able to get over themselves and focus on the actual plot instead of getting sidetracked constantly by feels and horniness. Not that there isn't some sidetracking, but it's not on every single page and they're able to act like mature adults.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I can see myself becoming a fan of this series if they continue to hold up to the standard set by this one. Plus, Widdershins sounds like a place that can get Hellmouthy, so I'm looking forward to what their future adventures might entail. 

Vintage: A Ghost Story

Vintage: A Ghost Story - Berman,  Steve, Steve Berman

This was interesting enough to keep my attention, and it thankfully wasn't a ghost love story, because that concept is just weird. What else is weird is that the MC is never named. Not once. So I'll call him Melindo (Gordon) because why not. 

 

Melindo is 17 and lives with his aunt after his parents kicked him out of the home for being gay. He stumbles upon a ghost one night while walking home, only to find out the ghost is his town's very own urban legend. Josh was killed in the 50s on that stretch of road and has been seen walking it ever since. Melindo is actually able to talk to Josh. Josh is hot and Melindo is horny and desperate, so why not see where this goes, right?

 

Um...because Josh is a ghost. That might be a reason. IJS.

 

It was a little strange for Melindo and his best friend Trace to be so blasé about Melindo's ghost whispering abilities. Sure, they're into the macabre and they crash funerals for funsies, but at some point, I'd have expected them to step back and question reality just a little. 

 

I liked that Trace wasn't the overbearing girl friend so typical of M/M (probably helps that this isn't actually M/M) and that the ghost story doesn't go in quite the direction I expected. Melindo's aunt was pretty cool, and I liked Second Mike a lot. Still, I never felt like I connected with any of the characters or really cared about what would happen in the end. It was a quick read though, and the writing flowed well, so it was a nice way to spend a couple of days.

Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar #1; Valdemar #1)

Arrows of the Queen - Mercedes Lackey

This is the first book in the Valdemar series and it has a lot going for it, but it falls short of what I expect out of story. The good news is it's not another Tolkien ripoff trying to pass itself off as something original. The bad news is it's the first in a series, and I think even the first book Lackey wrote, and it shows. The other good news is that for a first book, this shows a lot of promise, and I'm willing to go along for the ride and see how Lackey improves as a writer over the course of the series, especially as I'll be reading this is publication order.

 

This book introduces us to the world of Valdemar, so named after its first ever king, and a young Herald by the name of Talia. She's the classic Hero archetype, pulled from the fringes of society from a miserable life to discover that she's something more than she dreamed possible, landing into a world of adventure. Eventually. After she gets trained and goes to school and all that boring stuff. ;) Along the way, she meets several friends, helps with a conspiracy to unseat the Queen, and gets a magical horse. 

 

I like Talia for the most part. She comes across a bit Mary Sue-ish at times, but that appears to be a hazard of the Heralds in general, since they're Chosen by their Companions, who somehow can sense the people who will have all the qualities necessary to be good Heralds: goody-two-shoes with some form of Gift and with hearts of gold no matter how awful their starts in life might have been. In other words, no one from Slytherin is getting onto this team. Not that they're perfect, and that saves Talia from being a true Mary Sue. She has faults and she pays for them, and she struggles to fit in and find her place in the Collegium. Her growth through the book was quite well-done.

 

Of the other characters we get the most page time with, I really liked Skif and Jadus. Skif was a street rat and still has many skills handy for sneaking about - and getting into trouble. Jadus becomes a mentor to Talia, and later to Skif. Elspeth, the queen's heir, is a horror child when we first meet her, and I can just imagine the tough love approach taken to tame her would be frowned upon by some. 

 

The world-building is sprinkled throughout the book and doesn't overwhelm at any point, but I would've liked to see more of the day-to-day goings on of the Collegium, more training sessions, more classes, more equestrian training, anything at all with the Council. The various other side characters also don't get as well developed as the ones I mentioned and are there mostly for support. There's also a lot of head hopping that I'm sure would annoy some readers, though it was never confusing whose head we were in at any point.

 

I also wanted more of the conspiracy.

Since most of the book was from Talia's POV, and she understandably isn't allowed into the inner workings of the kingdom, we miss nearly everything about this conspiracy. If Lackey was going to head hop anyway, I don't see why we couldn't get those scenes with the queen discussing them with her Council. Being left in the dark for this, when it drives so much of the plot, feels like a huge misstep. We don't even find out the name of the people who were arrested.

(show spoiler)

Ice Blues (Donald Strachey #3)

Ice Blues - Richard Stevenson

I do love a snarky bastard, and Don Strachey is up there with the best of them. <3 He's not always easy to love - like when he's bemoaning his forced monogamy due to the AIDS crisis - but he keeps Detective Newman and the bad guys on their toes. Even when they think they have him where they want him, he's always one step ahead, if only just. Timmy is way too good for Donald. I honestly don't know why he puts up with half the stunts Don pulls in this one. He has way more patience than I would.

 

The case is kookier than ever, as Don finds himself unexpectedly neck deep in political intrigue, possible dope dealers and millions gone missing - all thanks to some dude he met once at a party. Which really is all the more reason not to go to parties and stay home with a good book, if you ask me. Poor Timmy is put through the wringer in this one, but I think I felt most sorry for the anonymous men and women at Don's call service. You know they gossip about him during their lunch hour! Watching Don scrambling to stay ahead of the game, and the ease with which he lies and schemes and snarks his way through one scene after another was a treat. 

 

There were a bit more typos than I could put up with, especially in the last third of the book where "he" and "be" were constantly mixed up. There was also some punctuation misuse and so on. 

Vespertine

Vespertine - Indra Vaughn, Leta Blake

This just didn't work for me. Seventeen years pass between the MCs breaking up and meeting up again. That's just too long for anyone to still be hung up on a first love, especially when I couldn't even imagine why they'd be friends in the first place. Nicky's kind of got an excuse, since he's supposed to be emotionally-stunted from his years of drug use. I'm not sure what Jasper's excuse is, but he reverts back to a teenager as soon as Nicky's around. He doesn't have a concrete personality, just "revelations" as required for the plot.

 

I didn't buy the connection between the MCs. Zero chemistry - for me. I'm clearly the odd one out on this one, since everyone else seems to love it. I wanted to like it, and most of it I did like, but there was always something off. If it wasn't the painfully horrible song lyrics, it was the ham-fisted way that Jasper's conflict of religion was handled. If it wasn't the stereotypical portrayal of the rock star life and the evil record company big wigs, it was the overly contrived situations the authors kept putting the characters in to manufacture UST that fell flat on its face. Then because the authors made the reader wait so long for the smexy, a bunch of sex gets crammed into the end, by which point I was beyond caring. Then the authors threw in an absolutely ridiculous plot "twist" that annoyed me so much I had to skim most of the after-school special melodrama, which was as cliched and predictable as you would expect, just to not have my first read of 2019 end up a DNF.

 

Actually, that was a big issue from the beginning of the book. Because this is a Romance(™) so there has to be an HEA or at least an HFN, and for that to happen, there's no way Jasper was ending this book still a priest. It was pretty easy to see how that resolution was being set up. That wouldn't be an issue, necessarily, but I could never buy into Jasper's existential crisis. It came across shallow. A little less clear was Nicky's ending, but you knew something dramatic would happen to make his situation with his record company better.

 

And that was another problem. There was just so much drama. While this did start out promising, it quickly nose-dived into Dramaville around 70% and never quite climbed it's way back out again. The drama llamas were stampeding and they weren't letting our characters out of this book without massive amounts of MELODRAMA.

 

Melodramatic yelling at your long-lost love.
Melodramatic song lyrics.
Melodramatic praying in the shower.
Melodramatic swimming.
Melodramatic running away down the road whilst halfway tearing off your clothes. Yes, that deserved a "whilst."
Melodramatic phone tossing - because you can't have melodramatic ANGST if the characters can contact each other too easily. (Did he ever get a new phone?)
Melodramatic crying.

 

So.

 

Much.

 

Crying.

 

I didn't feel any of these emotions were genuine, nor did I feel any real attachment to the characters. Basically, I had attachment disorder with this book. :D

 

I didn't hate all of it. I liked all the stuff with the teens in Blue Oasis. I liked Thomas and Mrs. Wells, and Nicky's parents and Ramona. The cat was hilarious. Nicky even had his moments when he wasn't being an ass or annoying. Jasper was mostly lost potential though, sadly.

A Christmas Carol (Audiobook)

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens, Sergio Gutierrez, T. C. Boyle, Simon Prebble

Yay! I finally finished a Dickens book! Helps that it was short and one that I'm well familiar with thanks to Mickey Mouse and Xena. :D He's still a little long-winded but being restricted by a short story certainly helped the rambling. The Disney animated classic is quite accurate adaptation, but I still like Xena's more. :D

 

What's your favorite retelling of A Christmas Carol?

Love Is Heartless (Love Can't #2)

Love Is Heartless  - Kim Fielding

This book is kind of sort of a prequel to the first in the series, since it starts long before Love Can't Conquer, but it's about Jeffrey's friend Nevin Ng and his boyfriend Colin, who Nevin mentioned a couple of times in the first book but who we never met. Now we see how they met and slowly fell in love.

 

Oh, so slowly. Nevin's a complex character with many walls built around him after a lifetime spent in foster care and for once, we're given a story that gives a more realistic portrayal of how such a character might fall in love. And it's not over a couple of nights. While Nevin becomes interested in Colin fairly quickly, it takes much longer for trust and love to develop. It also takes a lot of patience on Colin's part.

 

Colin didn't have the lonely life that Nevin did growing up, but he did have to grow up with health issues and the uncertainty of life that can bring. He's always had to be careful, and never had much excitement. So when he meets Nevin, he sees this as his chance to have a wild fling, and hopefully maybe something more if he can keep Nevin from bolting.

 

I'm not sure why, since I really liked Colin and Nevin, but I never really got them as a couple. It's no fault of the book, but they just never quite clicked for me and I can't even point to any one particular thing to explain why their chemistry was off. Maybe it was simply a matter of I'd rather be reading about Jeremy and Qay again. It might be better actually to read this one first, though it would spoil the ending of the first book so I'm not sure I can actually recommend that either. Maybe start this one until they start talking about Thanksgiving dinner, and then go back and read the first one to the end, then come back and finish this one?

 

There's also another quasi-mystery here that doesn't get a lot of focus despite Nevin being a detective - hence why I didn't use the mystery tag - but is sort of bubbling in the background until the very end. 

The Mark of Zorro/The Curse of Capistrano (Zorro #1) (Audiobook)

The Mark of Zorro - Johnston McCulley, Armando Duran

The Mark of Zorro is not Antonio Banderas's Zorro. This would be Anthony Hopkins's Zorro as a young man before he settled down. But it's still Zorro, which means swashbuckling aplenty, secret identities (though you'll know Zorro's real identity if you've seen any of the movies), ridiculously well-trained horses, feisty señoritas who will settle for nothing less than ALL the romantic tropes but who can take care of herself just fine thank you very much, and corrupt governors, all set against the backdrop of 1820s California.

 

Originally titled The Curse of Capistrano and written by a man with more pseudonyms than Aragon son of Arathorn, this story is just a grand old good time. If you want deep philosophical thoughts, look elsewhere. This is a swashbuckling novel of the finest order, and everyone is just a little over the top (or a lot, ha!) and the action is pretty well-written. Some of the material is dated, but not cringingly so and I thought it held up remarkably well considering it'll be 100 years old next year.

 

The narration by Armando Duran is very well done and he's got a nice soothing voice that suits the characters well and expresses just the right amount of flavor and spice to make the story jump off the page without being too overly dramatic. It's just overly dramatic enough. ;)

Currently reading

Arrow's Flight
Mercedes Lackey
7&7
Andrea Speed, Carole Cummings, J. Tullos Hennig, Amy Rae Durreson, John Inman, Pearl Love, Brandon Witt, Sean Michael, Fred J. Cook, Rick R. Reed
Progress: 54 %
Another Country (MP3 Book)
Dion Graham, James Baldwin