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review 2017-05-10 03:56
The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds (Atria Books) - H.G. Wells

I'm sure if I were alive in 1897 when this was first published, the long drawn-out passages of endless details would've blown my socks off. H. G. Wells certainly did have a healthy imagination, and the average reader back then wouldn't have anything to compare this to. The details would've been necessary. But in a world where we have thousands of alien invasion books and movies, including that recent "adaptation" of this book with Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning, I found myself wishing that Wells would stop setting the scene and just get to the point already.

 

The first several chapters are all setup. When the action finally gets underway, it's well-written and well-paced, and the vividness of Wells' writing is appreciated then. And then the action will be over and goes back to its previous dragging pace. The narrator is never given a name, nor much of a personality since he spends most of his time describing what everyone else is doing. He's just a TSTL dude from a podunk town outside London, and he's clearly not prepared for these alien shenanigans. 

He really is TSTL. He gets his wife out of town after the killing starts, and then he GOES BACK for no other reason than to see what happens. The fact he doesn't die disproves Darwinism.

(spoiler show)

 

I found myself comparing this to other alien movies I've seen, and figuring that Independence Day is the closest update of this book. (I can't comment on the Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning movie, since neither of those actors inspires me to go to the movie theatre.) I also wondered what a movie would look like if it was actually set at the same time as the book in the late 1800s - and then remembered Cowboys and Aliens. :D

 

The narrator, James Spencer, was decent. He was easy to follow along though his dialogue was stilted. The cool thing about him is that his voice had a very Cecil-esque tone to it, which made me really wish that Cecil Baldwin, who voices the podcast program Welcome to Night Vale, would narrate this story at some point. Given its broadcast history when Orson Welles decided to update the story in 1938, it just seems too meta to not happen. 

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review 2017-03-11 03:09
Just Juliet
Just Juliet - Charlotte Reagan

This was just okay. It was all very...nice. And simple. And low angst. All problems were safely in the past. All new problems were easily surmounted and quickly put behind them.

 

The first third was promising. Lena finds out she's attracted to a girl, doesn't freak out, does some googling and instead of going GFY figures out she's bisexual. So that was good. The James's are a great, fun, close-knit family. Lena and Juliet's first date was pretty rad and adorable.

 

And then it just sort of meanders and keeps going way past the point it should have ended because there really wasn't much of a plot. It goes through all the tradition coming out tropes - telling the bestie, telling the family, telling the world - but there's no real emotion to anything. We're told what Lena's feeling, but I never felt it myself. Scott and Lakyn were...confusing. Scott is a well-rounded character and very mature and provides Lena with some good advice. Lakyn, who has been through some terrible times, is shy and a jerk and whenever he speaks, I kept seeing him as twelve instead of seventeen. But as a couple, other than being the cute gay couple, they didn't really add anything to the story.

 

The writing is technically pretty good, though dry, just a few stray typos and just one or two questionable word choices. There's a lot of telling in the later part of the book, versus showing. The characters are pretty one-note, and the way Lacey, the "token black kid," is introduced doesn't get improved upon as the story progresses. I know all these kids are, well, kids, but even my friends weren't throwing around this many sexist slurs when we were that age. Every single time any girl (usually Lacey) did anything questionable or assertive or not-nice, she's described as bitchy. Really? I don't know if the author is aware of the "black girls are more promiscuous" stereotype, but Lacey unfortunately inhabits that too. And the gay "jokes" were pretty terrible and also usually spoken by Lacey. Lacey just gets terrible treatment through most of the book. For a "gay friendly" book, there is a lot of low-key homophobia. 

 

This started promising but just became meh by the end and I had to force myself to finish.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-02-26 17:01
Embers
Embers (Common Law) - Kate Sherwood

And here's the unprofessional-professional, and here's where I check out of this series. 

 

*sigh*

 

I don't understand Jericho or what Sherwood is doing with his characterization. She wants me to believe this dude survived eight years in the Marines, four tours in Afghanistan (acquiring a Purple Heart, a Silver Star and a bachelor's degree all in that time), and went on to be a beat cop for the LAPD and eventually made detective. But here's the thing: Jericho's in idiot. He has no balls, no backbone, no brains; he's constantly being shoved around in one direction or another by everyone around him, not just his ubercrush Wade, and he does nothing about it except dig himself in deeper. Oh, but he has authority issues. If that's the case, how did he make it through boot camp? He survived four tours and eight years as a Marine but can't figure out how to get a gun out of someone's hand whose standing a mere three feet away from him? Really? He has authority issues but willingly lets himself be manipulated by Wade even after Wade says straight to his face that's what he's going to do? Jay needs to grow a pair and grow up.

 

At least Hockley shows some flexibility here and doesn't just keep up the "I'm a fed so I'm a jerkface for no other reason than I'm a fed" nonsense that he's had going on in the last book, but frankly, I'm getting close to being over the "locals vs the feds" nonsense that fiction writers just love to drool all over. There is at least an explanation of sorts in this one about why they're being such major tools. Kayla's tough and decisive where she can be, but really, by the time the feds are done with this town, I doubt she'll have anything resembling respect from her subordinates the way things are going right now.

 

As for the biker wars story - please. Just...that was the most convoluted plotline I've seen in awhile. And Nikki and her kids - honestly, I don't understand why Jericho gives a crap about any of them, when Nikki is constantly taking advantage of him and the kids are so horrible. Clearly, the only conclusion I can draw at this point is that he's a masochist. Which brings us to:

 

Wade Granger. Why am I supposed to give a crap about this dipshirt and Jericho's star-crossed obsession with him? If it really is star-crossed since Jericho's just barely pretending to act like a cop at this point. And is Jericho serious about his "if they made drugs legal then they wouldn't be a problem" logic? I guess he's a-OK with elementary school kids being used as mules and pushers, and teens getting hooked on this stuff and people OD-ing left and right and throwing their lives away for a high. But hey, if they're legal, then his ex-boyfriend would have a legitimate business enterprise and it'd be all good for them. Well, except the illegal weapons running and whatnot. Shoot, I guess we're just going to have to make that legal too. (And even if Wade ends up being revealed as being undercover (unlikely) or an informant (somewhat more likely) that still doesn't excuse Jericho's behavior up to this point.)

 

Writing is still good, but I have get off this stupid train.

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review 2017-01-29 16:47
The Custom of the Army
The Custom of the Army - Diana Gabaldon

Third time's a charm? Let's see if it actually posts this time.

 

Reread dates 1/28/17-1/29/17:
I didn't do a full reread as I skipped the bulk of the battle sequences. I didn't like this one when I originally read it in 2012, but felt I should at least give a go-over on this reread of the Lord John series. When placed in chronological order, it still doesn't make much sense. I think Gabaldon just really wanted an excuse to write about the British capturing Quebec and so found a way to send John there. It's still very scattered and doesn't have much of a point in and of itself.

 

Original review (2014, read Oct 2012):
I always enjoy spending time with John, but this is a gap-filler that doesn't really provide much of any substance. It starts with an eel party in England, then John gets whisked away to Canada to avoid potential trouble with the law until charges can either be cleared or swept under the rug. His purpose for coming to Canada is quickly put on the back burner and John ends up spending most of his time on random adventures. Then John returns to England accomplishing nothing. So it was good to see John again, but I don't really see the point in this short story other than to provide a few more details on things we've been told about already in other stories.

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review 2016-12-29 02:43
Top Floor
Top Floor - K.C. Faelan

I don't know how a story can be this long and still not really show any of the relationship buildup, but this one somehow manages to do it by skipping weeks of relationship development at a time. One minute, Sean is cleaning up Mr. Deuvaux's foot after he cuts it on a broken glass, the next minute Mr. Deuvaux is hiring Sean as a personal assistant, the next minute they're flirting in a tailor's shop, and so on. Is it really that hard to SHOW the MCs actually getting to know each other on page? And no, all their overly-detailed and long, drawn-out smexy times don't count. At least not for me. If you like lots of sex, you'll probably love this book but I was mostly bored.

 

There was one point after the Big Misunderstanding when Mr. Deuvaux was wondering when Sean became such an important part of his life, and I honestly didn't know how to answer that because we were only ever told a few little things that Sean did for his employer. We never saw that bond form. It felt more like Mr. Deuvaux latched onto Sean because Sean just happened to be standing in the room when Mr. Deuvaux's doctor told him to sober up.

 

Then there's the subplot with the hotel manager Mr. Trant, who is blackmailing his employees if he finds them having dalliances with the hotel clientele, making them steal items for him or he'll fire them and report them to the police. I was hoping that would at least provide some sort of on-page action, but most of that happens off-page too.

 

But hey, at least there's that four-chapter long foreplay and sex scene at the Dionysus Club that would never end. *sigh*

 

It wasn't all bad though. There were a few cute scenes and I liked what we saw of the other hotel staff who were Sean's friends. The period details were well done and there weren't that many grammar errors.

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