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review 2018-07-09 00:31
ARC Review: Stranger In A Foreign Land by Michael Murphy
Stranger In A Foreign Land - Michael Murphy
*sighs*

I hate writing negative reviews. 

Unfortunately, in the case of Stranger In A Foreign Land, there isn't a whole lot of good I can say. I liked the blurb, and the premise sounded promising.

The execution however left much to be desired. 

My first issue was with the amnesia itself, I suppose. While I completely bought the part where Patrick loses his memories, wakes up and doesn't know who he is, where he is, or how he got there - I bought that. I also agreed that it is likely extremely scary to wake up in a strange place with no memories of what got you there, and that you might fear for your life.

However, that does not mean that the loss of your memories also means the loss of your personality, or that a grown man suddenly becomes no more than a child in his actions and reactions. Limiting him to short sentences, with dialogue that felt stilted and unrealistic, didn't do him any favors. His actions didn't make a whole lot of sense to me either. 

Similarly, Jack is also not clearly defined beyond being Australian and having lived in Thailand illegally for 16 years, after having run away from Australia for some unclear reason, possibly related to his being gay, though how Thailand is better in that aspect, I don't know. While Jack rescues Patrick/Buddy and gives him a place to stay, and tries to figure out who Buddy really is, I never really got to know Jack either, outside of his easy-going nature, and his ethics. 

There is some sex as Jack and Buddy/Patrick have to share the one bed in Jack's ramshackle house, though it doesn't happen right away, and thankfully did not feel icky, as if Buddy felt obliged to repay Jack with his body for being fed and clothed and sheltered. Still, I felt as if Buddy clung to Jack only because there was no one else who spoke English, and no one else he felt somewhat safe with, so the romance was limited for me. While I didn't get the feeling that Jack was using Buddy for sex, I also didn't feel that Buddy/Patrick was in full control of his emotions and mental capacity to make the decisions he did. 

The 2nd half of the book, when Jack finds Patrick's brother, and Patrick reluctantly flies home to LA to meet the parents of whom he has no recollection, and the rude and aggressive behavior displayed towards these people he admittedly doesn't remember, really turned me against Patrick, and I no longer had any real sympathy for him. 

The ending, reuniting Jack and Patrick, left much to be desired. There was no mention of Patrick regaining his memories. There was no mention of how they can logistically be together, or any resolution of the issues they are still facing. It just ended. 

The writing itself isn't terrible, though dialogue is stilted and inorganic, and the sentences are somewhat choppy. What I did enjoy were the descriptions of the tropical locale, the seemingly authentic views of Bangkok and the surrounding areas. I though that the author did a fine job with those. 

This book didn't work for me. YMMV. 


** I received a free copy from the publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **
 
 

 

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text 2018-06-27 16:31
A Land More Kind Than Home ★★★★☆
A Land More Kind Than Home (Audio) - Wiley Cash,Mark Bramhall,Lorna Raver

A Land More Kind Than Home is wonderful storytelling, dark and tragic, with delicious atmosphere. Much of the mystery derives from the non-linear structure and the reveal coming in slow dribs and drabs from the point of view of three different characters of varying ages and levels of involvement. This adds to the tension and the fun, but ultimately was a little unsatisfying as I didn’t feel fully connected to any of them, although there were moments that were deeply touching.

 

This is the second book I’ve read by Wiley Cash, and I’ve enjoyed both. I’ll keep looking for books from this author.

 

Audiobook, borrowed from my public library via Overdrive. The audio used three different performers to represent each main character and all were terrific, especially the voice for the sheriff and the old woman.

 

Previous Updates:

6/24/18 – 25%

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url 2018-06-25 15:21
Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1970s, Part VIII
The land behind the world - Anne Spencer Parry
Bridge to Terabithia - Katherine Paterson
Gifts of Blood - Susan C. Petrey
Doom Patrol (1987-1995) #65 - Rachel Pollack,Richard Case,Linda Medley
Unquenchable Fire - Rachel Pollack
The Ghost Drum - Susan Price

Another entry in the series over on publisher TOR's site.

Source: www.tor.com/2018/06/18/fighting-erasure-women-sf-writers-of-the-1970s-part-viii
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text 2018-06-24 14:19
A Land More Kind Than Home - 25%
A Land More Kind Than Home (Audio) - Wiley Cash,Mark Bramhall,Lorna Raver

It's hard to be patient with the nonlinear storytelling, because it feels like wasted energy trying to figure out which parts have already happened vs. what's the current story and whose story this is. But the voices are interesting and the audio performances are very good so far. 

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review 2018-06-08 19:03
Our Man In Havana by Graham Greene
Our Man in Havana - Graham Greene,Christopher Hitchens

Graham Greene is one of those authors that I've always meant to read - and following along with BrokenTune's Greene-land Adventures project increased my desire to dip into his books. The Summer of Spies gave me a perfect opportunity to check out one of his "espionage" books.

 

I wasn't expecting the level of farce contained in this book. It's not really a spy story - it's a story about a reluctant vacuum-salesman-turned-spy who has no intelligence to provide, but who needs to make the money he is getting for his dispatches worth the while of the British Intelligence service. So, he starts making stuff up.

 

There are some very funny parts of this book - the "missile drawings" that were obviously based on a vacuum cleaner is hysterical. The conversation between Hawthorne and his boss where the boss convinces himself that Wormold is actually some sort of a merchant king is bitingly funny, and also quite a propos of current politics, where, apparently, 49% of America can be convinced that a lying moron with inherited money is actually a brilliant strategist worthy of being President. 

 

When it is in your interest to believe something, this book points out, reality is of little import.

 

And, as it is in life, when delusion collides with truth, someone is probably going to die. The ending is a brilliant illustration of what happens when human beings are confronted with an inconvenient and embarrassing reality - sometimes maintaining the lie is easier than acknowledging that you've been fooled.

 

So it goes...

 

 

 

 

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