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review 2017-02-14 04:47
Voyager (Outlander #3) (Audiobook)
Voyager - Davina Porter,Diana Gabaldon

Oh, Voyager. You get so many things right, but that one little thing...

 

I've said numerous times over this "reread" while I've listened to the audiobooks for the first time that one of the things Gabaldon does best is write fully realized characters, even third-tier characters, and she certainly continues to do that here. Her attention to detail, her descriptions, the way she lets the characters pop out of the page give them all life. It's really amazing.

 

And then there's Mr. Willoughby, or make that Yi Tien Cho, a Chinese refugee stowaway who landed in Scotland and was taken in by Jamie. First, I need to acknowledge that none of these characters are perfect. Even Claire, who comes from the more contemporary 1940s-1960s, has her prejudices and she doesn't even come close to how close-minded and insular everyone else is once we get back to the 1700s. So Cho's pure hatred of the white men isn't what bothers me. No, it's that he's a walking stereotype of all the worst things you can imagine about the Chinese. Even when I was reading this for the first time in my relatively clueless late-teens, Cho made me uncomfortable. Now, I was gritting my teeth nearly every time he was on the page. It was grating. There was not one redeeming trait to him, and to make it worse, he's the only Chinese character in either of these series - in fact, the only Asian character, which makes his representation even more troubling. So I'm glad he's only in this book and none of the others. And all because Gabaldon needed a way for Jamie, with his severe seasickness, to survive the crossing of the Atlantic. Because all Chinese know acupuncture, don't you know. *sigh*

 

But onto the good things, mostly John Grey.

Though I may just have to reread William falling into the privy in the next book some day. That scene is golden. Willie is just a prat and totally deserving of that fate. :D

(spoiler show)

The cast for those have just gotten too huge, the focus has moved away too much from Claire and Jamie, and they just refuse to end. Plus, all the rape. What is Gabaldon's obsession with rape? And while there's no on-page in this book for a change, we still have to hear about

poor Young Ian's recount of his rape by Gellie Duncan.

(spoiler show)

 

Other good things: the reunion between Claire and Jamie was great, and getting to see the Murrays again, even if just briefly, was fun. Fergus is all grown up and not yet a lazy drunk. Spending so much time on the Atlantic crossing could've been dull as hell, but Gabaldon keeps the tension up wonderfully with several adventures - though I do have to say this is the point where all these characters randomly running into each other gets a bit eye roll inducing. It's one thing when they're all confined to Great Britain because that's a tiny little island (sorry, my British friends, but it is), but when they're shipwrecking onto random islands and whatnot, I think it's okay to have them run into people they don't know in any capacity. 

 

And I do have to say, I prefer my Loa to come in the form of a hamburger-shaped drive-thru speaker than I do a creepy possessed mentally unstable white woman. Because problematic ableist tropes aside, who doesn't want their drive-thru speaker to also give them cryptic messages about the future?

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review 2016-08-06 04:01
Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #3) (Audiobook)
Dragonfly in Amber - Diana Gabaldon,Davina Porter

This starts out much slower than I remembered. Like, a lot slower, and I found myself not really caring very much about anything that happens in Paris. Knowing the outcome, I just wanted to get the political intrigue over with, because who really cares about a clueless wannabe monarch who's barely in the story anyway, and just get back to Scotland already. I loved Fergus's introduction though, but all the stuff with Jack Randall was just...not necessary at all. And of course, this wouldn't be a Diana Gabaldon book without explicitly described rape scenes. =/ What is her obsession with rape?

 

The bookends with the stuff in the future wasn't very interesting either. I didn't like Bree much when she was first introduced and never really warmed up to her over the course of the series; that continues to be the case. Roger's an all right chap though. Every time he shows up, I want to give him a lozenge. ;)

 

Seeing Scotland again and seeing the campaign for independence take such a violent nosedive was as well done as I remembered though. You could feel the despair of these characters and cringe at the inevitability of it all. Knowing the future doesn't save you from it.

 

Davina Porter does as great a job here as the first one, though her voice for Roger was way too much like her voice for Jack Randall and was pretty distracting. I wish she'd have softened it up a little bit, to go along with his gentle nature.

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review 2016-08-03 03:32
When Skies Have Fallen
When Skies Have Fallen - Debbie McGowan

3.5 stars

 

This reminded me a lot of Kaje Harper's Into Deep Waters. Two guys meet during WWII, fall in love and decide to make a life together. One gets injured near the end of the war. We see them as they grow older, living through the various social and political changes and victories for gay rights. They get cats. And that's pretty much where the similarities end.

 

Arty and Jim are air force technicians, Arty for the Brits, Jim for the Americans. They first see each other at a dance hall, where the attraction is instant. They officially meet later at Jim's base when Jean, a friend of Arty's, finagles a "chance" meeting on a supply run. They figure out a way to see each other, meeting in an empty field between their two bases and slowly fall in love.

 

It was refreshing to see them actually get to know each other before falling into bed. Logistically, they couldn't have risked it sooner than they did (not that that would stop some authors - and you know who you are) and so the build up of their relationship fits the times and dangers that surround them. Unfortunately, a lot of the getting to know you gets summarized, though we do still get to see enough of it to see the connection between them. That's not really an issue.

 

What was an issue for me was that they had it so amazingly easy at the start. They're both missing from their bases for hours at a time while they're rendezvousing; this is never an issue. Arty's friends and sister, and Jim's mom, are all amazingly supportive; not really an issue either as there are others who are not that they need to be careful of. But even the nurse is on their side, and the others in the hospital don't seem to raise much of a fuss about anything either. They do come up against plenty of strife later though, as England during this time was extremely homophobic, to the point that gay POWs were made to serve their full prison sentences without taking into account the time already imprisoned by the Nazis. Plus, there were the "witch" hunts, extremely reminiscent of Gestapo searching for Jews, gays and everyone else they deemed unworthy. It was unsettling to read at times, and those parts of the story were very well done with evoking the tension and dread Jim and Arty had to live in.

 

I was ready to give this 4-stars until the very end, when I thought we'd get to read about Jim and Arty finally deciding to fight the system and instead it jumps to the epilogue several years later, where England has finally decriminalized homosexuality. I wanted to see more of the fight, to see Jim and Arty standing up and being strong together as a unit, and I didn't get that.

 

And this is just a personal nitpick, but I'm not a fan of the title being repeated in the narrative of the text multiple times. Once or twice is cool, but more than that and I start to feel like I'm being knocked over the head with it. Yes, I get it, the title is metaphorical. Now leave me alone so I can read my book.

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photo 2016-07-03 19:20
The Mystery of The Old Wicklow House by Miranda Beall

Cass and Brad are at it again. This time she persuades a reluctant Brad to solve the mystery of The Old Wicklow House, rumored to be haunted, during the Blizzard of 1966 in Southern Maryland. This time, she pulls from her arsenal as protection against restless spirits the powerful protection of crystals: moonstone, pyrite, Blue John, snakestone, carnelian, amethyst, and bloodstone to mention a few. But ultimately she convinces Brad to turn once again to the Ouija Board to sort out the mystery of The Old Wicklow House.

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review 2016-04-24 18:09
Murder and More- Gerald W. Darnell

A detective mystery set in the 1960s with an authentic feel of the 1960s. The book could so easily have been written then rather than in 2015. The read is nicely scattered with illustrative pictures from the period, which I can see adding a lot to the reading experience of those born later. I felt that I could be reading a period Mickey Spillane novel; the script felt that authentic. I'd even say that there are more than a few similarities between Mike Hammer and Carson Reno— well at least as how I remember the character. Then again, possibly Reno is a more James Garner in the Rockford Files TV series. Okay, that was very 1970s scripted, but the Rockford character could have been slotted seamlessly into any '50s/60s detective series. So then, for me, Carson Reno is possibly best described as a blend of Mike Hammer and Jim Rockford.

 

The writing has a sharp journalistic economy, never burying us in irrelevances and keeping a brisk pace. Some of the bit players are easy to confuse, but that problem is relieved by the index of characters. This is the first Darnell book I've read. Love it. I can see this series of books on every paperback turntable in front of every '60s newspaper store. The mass market paperback days are, generally speaking, history, but that shouldn't limit the availability and popularity of Darnell's Carson Reno. This book is an object lesson in how to get that old paperback buzz into the e market. For those still addicted to traditional paper, the lovers of the smell and feel of 'pulp', for those that still have or are discovering vinyl records and classic cars, the hands-on version looks just as 60s slick. The period will always be culturally cool and so will Carson, with bourbon and coke and an after dinner cigar.

 

This is a mystery detective novel, not a voyeuristic trip through violence and death, as so many modern genre books are. A read that may seriously damage your place in time.

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