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review 2018-01-14 02:02
Audio Book Review: To beat the Devil
To Beat the Devil: The Technomancer Nove... To Beat the Devil: The Technomancer Novels, Book 1 - M. K. Gibson,Shawn Purvis,Amber Cove Publishing

*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.


I'm a sucker for a narrator who does different voices with the characters. So when Shawn spoke as a hellion or a demon, I smiled. He had me. Each character had their own sound/voice. When Shawn read Salem I found his voice monotone-ish. There didn't feel to have a lot of feeling to the character, however this could have been the character that's written. Salem is more of an even keel type character and independent with the life he's living.

Baltimore's Inner Harbor is turned into Razor Bay. There are demons of all sorts present. And we get a feel for the city from the get go. Wow, really did an overhaul on things when God left and demons arrived.

Salem is a very special person. What he can do and why caught my attention when he started explaining it. I really like this creation and blend for Salem and the world. Cyborgs, technology, magic, Demi-gods, and demons. Totally awesome combination!

I found the story very interesting as it's taking place years after God left. There's a reason for why he left, you get to know it. I liked this concept and spin on the world. There is a lot of details to the world and drops of how it came to be. As much as I enjoyed learning the past, sometimes I found it dragging and my mind drifted.

The story is well written in that we are given all the pieces we need before we get to the moment we need it. It all fits the events and scenes we come through. I had moments where I knew when we learned a small detail that backed current scenes as I came across them in the story. I like that I can connect those dots when reading/listening.

There is more to life than simply getting through. To feel and live it in your heart is important and what keeps you tethered to humanity. I love this feel I got. I don't know if it's a theme for the book or not, but it really stuck out for me. Salem comes through on the other side of this story learning this lesson. He may be starting to change from the closed off man to opening to those around him. There is a hint that we could get more in this world with Salem. I'm curious with this small drop.

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review 2018-01-11 16:43
#Audiobook Review: Villains Pride by M. K. Gibson
Villains Pride: The Shadow Master, Book 2 - Amber Cove Publishing,William Gibson,Jeffrey Kafer

Jackson Blackwell is back again and looking for a new adventure while awaiting fatherhood. However, when his beloved tosses him out of his own dimension, finding a place to spend time isn’t easy. That is until King Stanley provides him a place in his comic book realm.

 

After completely enjoying the first book in this series, I came into Villains Pride with high hopes. Unfortunately, I felt the first half of the story was poorly written, stuffed with filler material. It wasn’t until the last third that the story itself came together with a solid plot and supporting action. 

 

What I did love: the play and fun on the various famous comic book heroes. No one is sacred, from Iron Man to Batman, from Superman to Wolverine. Mr. Gibson nails each persona in a witty and fresh way. I also really enjoyed the superhero war which takes place well after the midpoint of the book. This is when Jackson’s plans really start to take shape and mean something, and when the story took off and had focus.

 

My biggest issue with Villains Pride is the entire first half or more of the book. I felt there was little point or purpose. It was repetitive, and I felt like the author was using Jackson as a soapbox. In the first book the jibes were more subtle and less frequent, making them sharp and witty. This time it felt like a constant rant, lecturing the listener. It got old very quickly.

 

One of the highlights is once again the performance by Mr. Kafer. I loved the subtle yet distinctive changes in each male and female voice. He had the perfect fit for all characters. He really does bring to life the characters, making them people in my mind.

 

In the end, I struggled with Villains Pride. The first half to two-thirds of the story was meandering and repetitive. I felt like I was being lectured constantly. And frankly, Jackson is an asshole, which didn’t seem as funny this time around.

 

My Rating: C+

Narration: A- 

 

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review 2018-01-11 03:39
Orange: The Complete Collection (manga, vol. 2) by Ichigo Takano, translated by Amber Tamosaitis
orange: The Complete Collection 2 - Ichigo Takano

Warning: this manga deals with depression and suicide. You've probably already read the first volume and know that, but this volume goes into more detail and includes a lengthy section from the POV of a character up to the moment he makes his decision to commit suicide.

I enjoyed this but had some issues with it that I’m not sure I can articulate. Well, I’ll give it a shot.

Orange is only the first two thirds of this volume. The last third is an unrelated story with a completely different tone. I’ll discuss them separately in this review.

Orange:

This volume picks up right where the first one left off. Naho is still trying to save Kakeru, but now she knows she isn’t alone - literally all of her friends also received letters from their future/parallel universe selves and are also working to save him. Things have changed enough now that the letters don’t always help, although they can still provide a little bit of guidance. But will it be enough? And will Naho and her friends’ efforts really manage to save Kakeru?

One of the things that worried me about the previous volume was the possibility that Takano might be taking the story into “high school romance saves Kakeru” territory. That worry never quite went away - although Takako thought that Kakeru would be fine even if his romance with Naho didn’t work out, Suwa was so unconvinced by this that he continued to sabotage the future he knew he could have with Naho. That said, the way the ending was written indicated that it was everyone, not just Naho, who was necessary to save Kakeru. What he needed wasn’t specifically romance, but rather relationships with people who cared about him, worried about him, and thought about him enough to try to stand by him through everything, even when he actively pushed them away.

Which brings me to the thing I’ve been avoiding writing directly about: suicide. While I think Orange is very good, it feels like something that was written more for people like Naho, Suwa, Takako, Hagita, and Azu than people like Kakeru and his mother. The section from Kakeru’s POV is part of the reason why.

At one point in the volume, Takano includes a flashback to Kakeru’s POV in the original timeline -

all the things that happened to him and contributed to his depression, as well as the one horrible thing that pushed him over the edge and made him decide to commit suicide. It was a very effective bit of storytelling, setting up a sort of final countdown and showing readers the things that Naho and the others didn’t know about but would somehow have to overcome in order to save Kakeru. And as someone who grew up with a mother who was depressed and who worried about contributing to that depression, I can say that Kakeru’s POV felt painfully real.

(spoiler show)


I probably wouldn’t recommend this series to someone who was dealing with depression and/or suicidal feelings unless they had someone they could go to that they felt comfortable talking to. The ending

was intended to be a happy and hopeful one, with Naho and the others accomplishing what they set out to do and determined to keep helping Kakeru even past the point where their letters could guide them. However, all I could think was that, despite everything they knew and all their daily efforts, they still only barely managed to keep him from killing himself. There was, for me, something deeply horrifying about that. And after all that, Kakeru’s reaction to what Naho and everyone else told him felt kind of...understated?

(spoiler show)



When I first started this series, I said that it could maybe be considered science fiction. After reading this volume, I take that back: it definitely isn’t science fiction, despite its occasional passages about parallel universes. Takano’s explanation for how Naho and her friends managed to send their letters back in time and start a parallel universe where Kakeru doesn’t die was absolutely ridiculous. Rather than coming up with some kind of brilliant plan to save Kakeru, they

literally threw their letters into the ocean and those letters somehow made their way into a black hole (or something similar). The letters then somehow all ended up in just the right time and place.

(spoiler show)


Haruiro Astronaut:

Chiki and Mami are identical twins. Mami’s the cute one that guys are always asking out. Since she can never bring herself to say “no” to any of them, even if she isn’t interested in them, Chiki always ends up being the one to break up with them for Mami. And then they ask her out because they view the twins as interchangeable. Chiki wants to find someone who sees her for who she is, rather than as an acceptable substitute for Mami, and who wants to be with her.

Mami introduces Chiki to Yui, a hot new guy in her class, and Chiki falls head over heels in love. Unfortunately for her, he’s interested in Mami. As if the situation weren’t already painful enough, Mami starts to fall for him too. So where does that leave Chiki?

This one’s light and fluffy tone was a welcome change after finishing Orange. The worst thing the characters had to worry about was whether the person they liked happened to like someone else.

This story had not one, but two love triangles: the one mentioned in my summary, involving Chiki, Mami, and Yui, and one involving Chiki, Yui’s best friend, and a guy who initially says he’s interested in Mami. To my surprise, I actually kind of liked these love triangles. Although they both had aspects that were painful for the characters, neither one got to the point of truly hurting anybody and wrecking friendships. I’m still not sure how I feel about the final pairings, but the fact that everyone could still talk to each other and have fun together after everything was said and done was really refreshing.

(And I wonder, am I the only one who looked at that last page and had a sudden vision of Chiki, Tatsuaki, and Natsuki all going on a date together? Natsuki would quietly and happily soak up the atmosphere, Tatsuaki would be overly loud in a failed effort to hide his nervousness, and Chiki would blush and laugh.)

 

Rating Note:

 

If this volume had included the end of Orange and nothing else, I might have given it 3.5 stars. Something about the way Takano wrote about Kakeru and his mother's depression didn't quite sit well with me - I don't think I've figured out exactly what bothered me, but I don't know that I care to spend more time digging into it either.

 

Haruiro Astronaut really was a breath of fresh air and managed to nudge my rating up to 4 stars, which is a bit funny considering that I probably wouldn't have given it that rating if I'd read it on its own.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-01-03 00:00
Mate Hunt
Mate Hunt - Amber Kell It's my second reading of this book and it's still amusing and a fun read.

Mate Hunt is a gay romp through space with dragons, kings, dukes and a young prince looking for a happily ever after but on his own terms. Amber Kell's book is a Space Opera meets gay romance and I was thoroughly entertained.

It was a little over the top, a little 'prince perfect' gets his heart's desire but it doesn't take away from a really enjoyable read.
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review 2018-01-02 22:30
The Warblers by Amber Fallon
The Warblers - Amber Fallon

 

THE WARBLERS is a well written novella, scoring high in the creepy category!

 

Young Dell is upset over the loss of his dog Ginger, and he feels guilty over the dog's death. If Dell hadn't let Ginger out at night, the warblers wouldn't have gotten her. Since the warblers have taken up residence in the back shed of the family farm, they are a constant threat to the family, especially to Dell's little sister. Something must be done about them and Dell's father makes the call. What are the warblers, exactly? Who is Dell's father calling? You'll have to read this quick novella to find out!

 

I've been meaning to read Amber's work for years now, and finally I've read one. Now I'm sorry I waited so long! The dark atmosphere here is almost palpable and that's exactly what I crave these days-more creep than gore. After carefully setting the scene though, we get our gore and a closer look at the things we've only glimpsed previously. They are well worth the wait!

 

Fun, fast and packing a late punch, I highly recommend this creative novella!

 

I bought this book with my hard earned money and if you want to buy it, you can do so here: THE WARBLERS

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