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review 2019-10-07 21:04
Carrion Comfort ★★☆☆☆ (DNF)
Carrion Comfort - Dan Simmons

This wasn't a terrible book. It started off well, and has an interesting premise, and was really good for regrettably brief moments. But it was a struggle - there were long passages of boring in between and the ick factor was high with repeated graphic rape/sexual assault and violence scenes. Gratuitously frequent, that is. I get it, the psychic vampires are terrible people, but they seem to be included for titillation rather than actually furthering the story or revealing character.

 

Anyway, after 8 hours of slogging through this, I'm done. I can't face another 31 hours of it. Enough. DNF at 21%

 

Audiobook, via Audible, which I have returned for my $7 refund. The audio performances by Mel Foster and Laural Merlington were fine.

 

I was trying to read this book for the Booklikes Halloween Bingo 2019, for the square Vampires: Vampires, preferably non-sparkly, in all of their glorious fictional permutations. Fortunately, I have a good backup ready to go, They Thirst - Robert R. McCammon,Rowena Morrill.

 

 

Prior Updates:

Oct07 15%

 

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review 2019-10-07 03:12
A Cast-Off Coven ★★★☆☆
A Cast-Off Coven - Juliet Blackwell

I am absolutely charmed (no pun intended) by this cozy mystery series. I’m not entirely sure why – I don’t find the MC’s supposedly Texan roots at all authentic, I don’t care about vintage clothing, and I generally dislike Romance tropes appearing in my mystery/supernatural genre books. But, still, its just a lot of fun. The MC is vulnerable, trying to settle into her true nature, and struggling to resist the urge to deny her true nature for the sake of making her romantic interest less uncomfortable. She’s actually a very interesting character, and I rarely want to slap her silly. The mystery and settings are interesting, too, and the murders and supernatural elements are surprisingly dark for a cozy. I can’t say the final whodunnit were much of a surprise, but the journey was still worth reading about.

 

Paperback edition. I think I may like reading these in bound version better than audio, although Xe Sands does a terrific job on the audios.

 

 

I read this book for the Booklikes Halloween Bingo 2019, for the square Murder Most Foul: Any murder mystery.

 

Prior Updates:

Oct03 146/323 pg

 

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review 2019-10-07 02:50
The Testaments ★★★★★
The Testaments - Margaret Atwood,Mae Whitman,Ann Dowd,Bryce Dallas Howard,Tantoo Cardinal,Derek Jacobi

Maybe because I had already been introduced to Gilead and its social/political structure in The Handmaid’s Tale, I did not find The Testaments as shocking. Instead, it confirmed what I already suspected, that a totalitarian regime built on religious fanaticism was established by nonbelievers and enforced by cynically playing on the idealism of the true believers. And yet, this story is somehow more hopeful than Handmaid. We knew from the final chapter of Handmaid that Gilead would eventually fall, but in Testaments we see the cracks in the foundation.

 

This is still a grim story, though. Probably the darkest moment for me was in the author’s afterword, when Atwood tells us that she invented nothing new with it, that every bit of Gilead was drawn from real human history. At some point, we have done these things to each other, to ourselves. This is genuinely human nature, just distilled into a single story of a few generations. We should never complacently think to ourselves, “this could never happen now”.

 

Format – both audio & hardcover. I alternated between the two. The audio performance by the full cast was excellent. But Ann Dowd absolutely made Aunt Lydia come alive. I didn’t even realize she plays that character in the TV series. This might push me over the edge into getting a Hulu subscription to see it.

 

 

I read this book for the Booklikes Halloween Bingo 2019. I originally planned to read it for the square Poe/The Raven, but I’ve had to rearrange my squares a little, and I’m now going to use it for Dystopian Hellscape: Any book that relates to a dystopian society. This one isn’t on my bingo card, so I’m going to use my second Transfiguration Spell on the Fear the Drowning Deep square. I just couldn’t find anything that I already owned for FtDD, and I really wanted to read this one, anyway.

 

Prior Updates:

Oct03 9%

Oct03 14%

Oct04 25%

Oct04 60%

 

 

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review 2019-10-01 23:12
White Trash Zombie Apocalypse ★★★★☆
White Trash Zombie Apocalypse - Diana Rowland

I’m generally not a fan of zombie lit, nor do I generally prefer my monsters to be anything other than horrifying, but when I read the first book of this series for Halloween Bingo last year, I fell in love. The titular zombie, Angel, is the perfect heroine: sassy and feisty and fiercely independent, but also vulnerable and even tenderly caring at times. In this third book of the series, she is still learning to navigate her new place in the world as both newbie zombie in a hidden zombie society and as a newly semi-respectable, drug-free, contributing member of society with “the Normals”. She’s trying to figure out how to have a healthy, functioning romantic relationship. In one really sweet and sad moment, she is delighted and amazed that she actually has real friends who would show up at her party. But there is plenty of action with a budding war between the zombie mobsters and a defense contractor trying to develop the means to control and weaponize zombies.

 

Audiobook, via Audible. Alison McLemore’s narration is still absolutely perfect.

 

 

I read this book for the Booklikes Halloween Bingo 2019, for the square Dead Lands: Elements of the undead - zombies, wights, vampires and other revenants. This story is chock-full of zombies, of course!

 

Prior Updates:

Sep29 2%

 

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review 2019-09-29 21:59
The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang
The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays - Esmé Weijun Wang

Although this book seems well-loved overall, it wasn’t my favorite. It’s a collection of personal essays (which, in this case, is quite different from a memoir) by an Asian-American woman with schizoaffective disorder, largely about different aspects of the way her illness has affected her life. On their own, I think these essays are good: well-written, often weaving together multiple strands that at first seem unrelated, and reflective when it comes to the author’s experience of her serious mental illness.

But together, the collection feels like less than the sum of its parts. They don’t quite come together into a whole, and I didn’t come away feeling like I had a good understanding of the author’s lived experience overall, in the way that one hopefully does after reading a memoir. Some essays have a very narrow focus – like how viewing a particular movie in the theater caused her to lose touch with reality a bit – but the larger problem is that they often come across as detached and academic. In writing about her trauma, for instance, the author will digress to give us an entire paragraph on which books lay out the proper techniques for EMDR therapy, where one can purchase them, and for how much.

In the final paragraphs of an essay about being hospitalized, Wang writes, “I maintain, years later, that not one of my three involuntary hospitalizations helped me. I believe that being held in a psychiatric ward against my will remains among the most scarring of my traumas.” This was startling to read, not because of the sentiment – unfortunately, this experience of hospitalization is typical of the personal accounts I’ve read – but because the essay itself is rather mild and detached, doing nothing to lead the reader to the conclusion that the author ultimately draws. By this point, readers ought to have felt the trauma of these experiences themselves, rather than being surprised by her feelings at the end.

In the end, not a book I’d discourage you from reading if you’re really interested, but also not the best I’ve read on the subject. If you want to read a memoir about living with schizophrenia, try The Center Cannot Hold first.

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