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review 2019-01-22 04:24
On These Mean Streets
Mean Streets - Jim Butcher,Simon R. Green,Kat Richardson,Thomas E. Sniegoski,Dion Graham,Richard Poe,Mia Baron,T. Ryder Smith

This is a collection of four longer novellas in the urban fantasy genre written by a quarter of well-regarded writers that showcases each of their characters in ongoing series. I have actually read two of these already: "The Warrior" by Jim Butcher and "What a Difference a Day Makes" by Simon R. Green. "The Third Death of the Little Clay Dog" by Kat Richardson and "Noah's Orphans" by Thomas E. Sniegoski are new reads for me. My favorites were "The Warrior" and "The Third Death of the Little Clay Dog."

"Changes" is a Harry Dresden story that heavily features Harry's friend Michael Carpenter and his family. It's also about how being a hero is not just taking up a sword. It's a culmination of many small choices one makes everyday in how they interact with people around them. The lesson was really important and the plotting flawless. Short but substantial. 5 stars

"What a Difference a Day Makes" by Simon R. Green doesn't measure up to the other stories in this volume because it doesn't have the deep character development, pathos or growth of the other stories. I say this as a big admirer of Simon R. Green. His work is very good, and it works for what its doing, but his real brilliance shows in his longer work than his shorter work. Having said that, I enjoy Green's noir style and the just plain weirdness of his imagination. This story is good but not great. 3 stars.

"The Third Death of the Little Clay Dog" by Kat Richardson is the first I've read by her and I'm a fan. I loved the intricate look into Mexican culture, specifically Dia de los Muertos. Most non-Mexicans don't really get what this is about. It's not a spooky holiday in the way we think about Halloween. It's a deeply meaningful holiday in which people remember and celebrate those they have lost to death. There are some folkloric underpinnings that may not make sense, and probably some aspects that might be a dealbreaker for some people. While the holiday is not spooky, this story is written to have some aspects of the macabre to it. Definitely a ghost story, and it's also about magic, dark and light. I really appreciated this story and I loved the narrator. She did a great job with the Spanish pronunciations and in distinguishing the different voices from one another. 5 stars.

"Noah's Orphans" by Thomas E. Sniegoski is thoughtful and sober storytelling. The concept behind it resonated with me as a Christian who grew up reading the Bible and is acquainted with the Noah's Ark tale. This book has a 'what if' aspect to it that got my mind spinning. Consistent for the rest of the series, but rather joyless. 4 stars.

Overall, a good book, and worth listening to on audiobook.

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review 2019-01-21 04:41
The Silver Music Box (Silver Music Box #1) (Audiobook)
The Silver Music Box - Mina Baites,Alison Layland

From the blurb, I thought this was going to be about Lillian finding out about her roots and trying to research where her family came from and what happened to them during WWII, but that part of the plot doesn't come in until a little over 2/3s of the way through the book. Instead, it starts out with Johann Blumenthal fighting in WWI for Germany, then follows through to his son Paul at the dawn of the Nazis taking over power and Paul's eventual attempts to get his family out of the country. When things are looking grim for them, it then drops that storyline and jumps forward to the 1960s to Lillian, where I thought the story was going to start.

 

It was a bit jarring to start off, since I wasn't expecting the story to be so linear, but in the end, I found it more effective getting to know the Blumenthal's and seeing their attempts to stay in Germany as long as they could before realizing - perhaps too late - that they needed to flee to save themselves. It was disheartening to see them doing everything they could to be good Germans, in a Germany that cared about them less and less, and to see the small steps that began to segregate the Jews from the main populace more and more until the Nazis were in power and didn't care about being quite so subtle anymore. 

 

This is compounded when they end up in Capetown in South Africa - they're safe there, but all around them is apartheid - which was implemented based on Aryan propaganda and laws.

(spoiler show)

 

I did feel at times that the characters were there more to serve as plot points, and Charolette suffers the most from this since she mostly just reacts while Paul is making all the preparations. Knowing how many women worked in the underground and resistance forces during WWII, I would have liked to see Charolette take a more active role. 

 

I also would have liked more time to get to know Lillian so her story arc could have more weight, but seeing her so driven to find out everything she could about where she came from and what happened to her family was touching nonetheless. 

 

The narrator, Jane Oppenheimer, who I first heard narrating The Moonlit Garden, was an odd choice I think for this story. She has a very mellow and soothing voice, which dulled the tension from a story that really should have been tense.

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review 2019-01-21 04:15
To Catch a Pirate
Never Trust a Pirate - Anne Stuart

Ironically the last of this series that I read, but the second book. I listened to this on audiobook and I loved the narrator Xe Sands. Thomas Luca Morgan is a rogue and that's clear from the beginning. I liked that he immediately saw that Maddie wasn't what she was pretending to be. The villain seemed the most heinous in this book to me, especially for some of the people he hires to get rid of Maddy. Just enough seafaring to make the theme fit the title. Great chemistry between the leads, and I like that Maddy is fairly savvy and sassy and stands toe to toe with Thomas/Luca. Hard to say which book is my favorite, they're all great. I think this one stands out because Maddy is cynical enough to handle a guy like Luca and they felt very well matched to me.

Casting Suggestions:

Aidan Turner as Thomas Luca Morgan 

Kaya Scodelario as Maddy Russell 

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review 2019-01-21 03:52
His Heart's Keeper
Never Kiss a Rake - Anne Stuart

Reread on Audiobook Fall 2018:

It was great listening to this on audiobook. Xe Sanders is a lovely narrator, with a talent for female and male voices. She endowed Adrian with all the roguish sensuality that his character emanates. She also captures Briony's mix of no-nonsenseness and vulnerability. 

Casting Choices:

Liam McIntyre as Adrian, Lord Kilmartyn 

Claire Foy as Bryony Russell 

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review 2019-01-21 03:15
What's Cooking?
Never Marry a Viscount - Anne Stuart

Reread in December 2018/January 2019 on Audiobook:

This was great on audiobook. Xe Sanders has a great voice for both male and female voices. She makes the hero sound purringly sexy and her accents are great too. Listening to this reminded me of how fantastic a writer Anne Stuart is. I can never get enough of her writing. 

This is a nice sort of homage to "Like Water for Chocolate" or "Simply Irresistible" but without magic. I love that Sophie's thing is cooking. In the kitchen and in the bedroom with the sizzling hot Alexander. As always the banter and flirting is superb, but then it's an Anne Stuart romance. When all three of the couples (Russell sisters and their spouses/beaus are together, it's magic).

My Casting Choices:

Henry Cavill and Alexander, Lord Griffiths


Clare Bowen as Sophie Russell

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