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review 2017-03-15 02:24
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.

(spoiler show)

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.

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review 2017-03-03 00:33
Alice in Wonderland
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll,John Tenniel

Yes I'm 38 years old and just now reading this book for the first time. I'm sure there are hundreds of books I didn't read as a kid that I probably should have. As for this one, it was very enjoyable. I probably would've loved it as a kid just for it being so strange and weird, but as an adult, I love most how ironic it is. The word play, the whacky hijinks, Alice's existential crisis, and just watching Alice try to figure out how to Escape the Room she first lands in was a lot of fun. I never saw the entirety of the Disney movie either, just bits and pieces. I've only seen the Johnny Depp movie, which is post-Alice in Wonderland, in full. Why I did that, I don't know. I must've been feeling in need of punishment for some transgression at the time. 


It was fun reading a classic like this, which I've absorbed a lot of through pop culture references, but have no real clue what to expect of the actual book. It was fun, easy to read, and certainly something that both children and adults can get something out of. 

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review 2017-02-24 20:46
Charmed & Dangerous
Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy - Andrea Speed,Rhys Ford,Charlie Cochet,K.J. Charles,Jordan L. Hawk,Lou Harper,Astrid Amara,Nicole Kimberling,Ginn Hale,Jordan Castillo Price

Dim Sum Asylum - Rhys Ford (no rating)


Um...WTF was this? I might have gotten more out of this one if I'd read Ford's Sinner's Gin series, but the premise for it didn't interest me. After reading this, I'm glad I stayed away. There was a lot of info dumping as everything is described to fill non-readers in on this world, and it eats up a lot of page time. The chase through the city for the sexed up monkey statue was kind of interesting but again was bogged down with too many descriptions and background about everything when you just want to be chasing the statue. Then there's the ridiculous instalove/sex with Roku and his brand new partner on the force who has kind of been stalking Roku and finangled his way into a partnership with Roku in a really creepy way that's only marginally addressed before the hormones get in the way. I'll be honest, it was clear the entire last chapter was just going to be them boinking and making goo-goo eyes at each other, so I skipped it. 


Swift and the Black Dog - Ginn Hale (4 stars)


Now this is more like it. This was well-written, with a damaged former "hero" of a revolution who hasn't dealt with the aftermath all too well. I was confused a lot of the time, but Hale gives just enough info to slowly fill in what this world is like and what it used to be like, and why Swift and his band of magician friends really went to war against the Tyrant. Making a better world wasn't exactly on their to-do list, let's just leave it at that. This didn't have a romance, per se, but a beginning of one and it was sweetly done. 


A Queer Trade - KJ Charles (4 stars)


Finally! A KJ Charles story that doesn't make me want to rip off the MC's nads. I hate alphaholes in romances with a passion, yet she always seems to include one, so even though I like her writing well enough, I've learned to avoid her stories. Thankfully, that was not the case here. Ned and Crispin are both adorable. Ned is self-assured and aware, and Crispin is awkward and well-meaning. When Crispin's mentor dies unexpectedly and his magical papers sold to a waste-man by his unsuspecting relatives, Crispin and Ned are thrown together trying to fix the blunder. And what a blunder it is! It's also rare to read an historical that includes a POC as an MC, and have it be well-done. There is attention paid to the racial differences and experiences without making the story entirely about it. Instead, we get two men who are lonely and misunderstood for their own reasons finding acceptance in each other.


Magically Delicious - Nicole Kimberling (3 stars)


Fairies again. Or, goblins in this case. With really terrible table manners. The mystery was on the obvious side and the solution left plotholes. Still, it was imaginative and the characters were interesting.


Everyone's Afraid of Clowns - Jordan Castillo-Price (5 stars)


Read as part of Psycop Briefs: Volume 1


Vic is remembering his first time sensing a ghostly spirit in his teens and Jacob decides they should go check out the place. I don't know what's scarier, the clown or the misogynists. No, ok, I lied. The misogynists are scarier.


The Thirteenth Hex - Jordan L Hawk (3 stars)


Review here: http://linda78.booklikes.com/post/1384099/the-13th-hex


The Soldati Prince - Charlie Cochet (no rating)


If you like shifters, predestined mates, and possible Stockholm Syndrome resulting in tru wuv, this is the story for you. It's not my cuppa though. I again skimmed over most of the last this-is-the-boinking chapter.


One Hex Too Many - Lou Harper (3.5 stars)


This was again about two brand new partners on the police force. There was some awkward worldbuilding here and there but nothing too distracting from the story - though I still don't get what is so "extramundane" about a paranormal police squad. I liked both MCs and getting to see them work together, and the mystery was interesting. Then Harper throws the MCs together at literally the last minute and, honestly, I would've preferred this just be about two guys becoming friends. This isn't even romance. It's just last-minute sex that came out of nowhere. At least she doesn't linger over it and drag it out, but that's the only good thing I can say about it.


Josh of the Damned vs The Bathroom of Doom - Andrea Speed (not rated)


This is another one where I might have gotten more out of it if I'd read the stories it was based around. But the sexy, sensitive vampire boyfriend trend spawned by Twilight (Edward was a douche!) is just so over. I hate this trend and avoid these stories with a passion. And you seriously expect me to believe the creatures of the night cross over a magical portal every night to eat terrible convenience store food? I guess parts of it were funny if you like that brand of whacky comedy. Also, how is Carey more lame as a vampire name than Collin? I did finish this one, since it was thankfully very short, but since this is just not my genre, I decided not to rate it. 


The Trouble with Hexes - Astrid Amara (5 stars)


This is a reunited/second chances story and the best of the bunch after JCP's. It's not too complicated for a short story, so there wasn't a lot of info-dumping that needed to be done, but it was still an intricate enough plot to keep the story moving forward. The whodunit was on the obvious side, but the main focus here was Vincent and Tim's relationship and how they mend those broken bridges between them. 

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review 2017-02-14 04:47
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. <3 I decided to experiment with this listen and do something I've been planning to do for years, and that's read Voyager and the Lord John Grey books in chronological order. While I don't think I'll ever do that again, it was still a fun way to experience the stories and get in John's adventures alongside Claire's and Jamie's. I just love John and I hope Gabaldon plans to write more of his adventures, especially since I'm not planning to read any more Outlander books. Voyager will even be the last one that I reread since I didn't really enjoy the others that came after this.

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 2017-02-04 02:43
A Plague of Zombies
A Plague of Zombies: An Outlander Novella - Recorded Books LLC,Diana Gabaldon,Jeff Woodman

Look, I don't like zombies. I always thought the whole concept was rather silly and could never take them seriously. Even Buffy couldn't make zombies work, though that episode is responsible for the single greatest Giles quote ever:



Supernatural did a good zombie episode in season two, and Grimm did a great season finale cliffhanger that I still remember as being uber creepy, but that's about it for me and satisfying zombie stories. (Oh, if only these two shows had stayed good. *sigh*)


But Gabaldon, while she deals with the mystical and timey whimey stuff in Outlander, keeps Lord John firmly set in reality, which means the zombies he encounters are the legit thing. And it's creepy as hell. Like, I didn't even know this was a for real thing until I read this because I never bothered to research it or pay any attention to it, and the idea that someone can just zombify you and you'll spend the rest of your days an animated vegetable is just disturbing, to say the least. Yes, it's super cliche, tropey and stereotypical of Jamaica and I don't care. It works. Mostly because Gabaldon is so great at writing fully realized three-dimensional characters.


John has his work cut out for him in Jamaica trying to squash a slave rebellion. (Let them rebel. Damn you, white oppressors!) Tom's mostly worried about the giant cockroaches and snakes. John has to deal with figuring out what started the supposed rebellion and why. It's not all as it seems, of course, because that would make John's life too easy. 


I somehow remembered this being longer, so the abrupt ending was kind of jarring, and I wanted to see more of Gellie. I'll just have to await her appearance in Voyager for that. It did however jog my memory about the connections between Gellie and Dr. Abernathy though, which I had also forgotten.


It was fun rereading/listening to these in chronological order along with Voyager. If anyone else feels compelled to do the same, the order is:


Voyager Ch 1-14

LJ & The Hellfire Club

LJ & The Private Matter

LJ & The Succubus

Voyager Ch 15

LJ & The Brotherhood of the Blade

LJ & The Haunted Soldier

A Custom of the Army

The Scottish Prisoner

A Plague of Zombies

Voyager Ch 16-end


It does make some minor continuity errors between Voyager and the LJ series (which were written much later) pretty glaring, but overall, it was fun to make all these side trips to see what John was up to during that time. (And I was totally right in my review of Custom of the Army. In the afterward to this book, Gabaldon wrote that she just looked up events going on in any given year and sent John off to them to write these stories. Vindication!)

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