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review 2018-06-22 19:18
Octavia Butler - Lilith's Brood
Lilith's Brood: Dawn / Adulthood Rites / Imago - Octavia E. Butler

This is not really a review, but it's Octavia Butler's birthday, and I want to use the opportunity to encourage everyone to read this trilogy, one of the most disturbing and brilliant things I've ever read. I first read it about four years ago, taught it three times since then, and it always leads to intense, rewarding discussions. There are so many layers here, every time I read and talk about it, I come away with something new. Likewise, my impression of and opinion about the story's aliens, the Oankali, keeps changing, from horror to approval to longing and back again.

It's here where Butler remarks that humanities core problem is being 'intelligent and hierarchical'. So far,  I haven't found a better assesment.

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review 2018-05-14 20:07
Audio Book (Graphic Audio) Review: Dead Man Rising (Dante Valentine #2) By Lilith Saintcrow
Dead Man Rising - Lilith Saintcrow

 

 

* For this review I decided to have different ratings for the story and the GraphicAudio narration.

 

This series has become the Mageri series all over again for me. It's like I'm about to witness a car crash happen right in front of me and I can't decide whether I want to look away or not. This author is amazing at leaving somewhat big problems unsolved, which makes the curiosity in me foam at the mouth for answers.

 

Dante is a wreck in this novel. She's reasonably upset by how the last book ended and decides that throwing herself into her work is the best escape, for the time being. I can follow her train of thought, but having Jase (I finally learned her ex's name!) live with her was very strange. I didn't understand the dynamic because she seemed to never have made up her mind about him. One moment she wanted to be comforted by him and the next she would only communicate with him in sarcastic comments and sassy retorts. I wanted to shake her and tell her to grow a pair for h*lls sake (pun intended).

 

I wasn't upset by how things ended up with Jase. I didn't like him in the first novel and the part he played in this book was lackluster at best. I just wish he hadn't given up the "family business" for Dante out of the blue. She wasn't worth all that trouble and was ungrateful to boot, though let's consider she never even asked him to do anything of that nature much less stay with her.

 

I wish this book had focused solely on the Jafermel plot line. The mystery didn't capture my attention. Every other minute I kept thinking about Jaf. As much as this adventure gave me an idea of how traumatic Dante's childhood was, I would rather have had her on a wild goose chase out of desperation for Jaf then have her handed the hint from the Devil himself (which was cheesy at best).

 

The end felt like she was saying a permanent goodbye to her friends. I didn't understand why the secrecy in relation to Jafermel. I still have no idea what the heck Dante is and it's starting to lose my interest. The only thing that keeps me coming back to this series is the GraphicAudio book.

 

Book Rating: 3 Stars

___________

Graphic Audio Book Review:

 

This was just as amazing as the first one. The creep factor got turned up so high with this particular storyline and I loved it. The hyena laughs and the ghostly "You Must Remember!"'s got under my skin. It was very well produced and I look forward to my next adventure with these audio books.

 

Graphic Audio Rating: 5 Stars

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review 2018-03-18 20:11
An epic-story, which will make you reconsider what you thought you knew about angels, demons, and everything in between.
The Fall of Lilith (Fantasy Angels Series) 1 - Vashti Quiroz-Vega

I have seen this book described as “epic” and I agree, not only for its length (it is two books in one) but also for its topic. It does talk about all things in Heaven and Earth, near enough, from the creation of the angels and the battle of good and evil to the fall of the angels and their revenge plans once on Earth (that don’t bode well for humanity).

The author’s writing style in this book is reminiscent of the Bible, although the story is told from quite a different point of view, and it deviates from the narrative most Christians are familiar with (I am intrigued to know how the story will resonate with readers not familiar with the Christian tradition, although the world building is detailed enough for anybody to be able to follow the events). I am not a bit Fantasy reader, mostly because I am not that fond of lengthy descriptions (I admire authors who do it well), although this story has the added interest of providing a major variation on a story many of us are familiar with. As typical of the genre, there is plenty of telling (in fact, all the characters are storytellers, and we get to hear the angels’ voices often, narrating their own adventures, or even fictional ones, like a fascinating story Lilith narrates in book 1), and beautiful descriptions of Floraison, the part of Heaven inhabited by the angels, of the angels, and also of the creation of Earth, and of Earth itself in book 2. We follow the story in a chronological order, from the time when the angels are quite young, growing up and learning about their powers (this part reminded me of YA books set up in special schools for young people with special abilities, and also of parts of The Hunger Games, when the characters had to train for the battle ahead), through to the battle between good and evil and their fall to Earth. Although the story is narrated in the third person, we follow the points of views of a variety of angels, mainly Lilith, the main character, but also most of the others at some point.

These angels reminded me of the Greek gods. They are not the celestial beings many of us imagine, but more human than human. They have their personalities, their peculiar characters, their flaws, their desires, and they are far from goodie-goodie-two-shoes. Even the good angels have faults… (Oh Gabriel…). We get to know Lilith’s cunning and devious nature better than that of others (she is rebellious, proud, has a superiority complex, and does not seem to feel true affection for anybody, even her supposed friends), but we see that Lucifer is proud and is not a good looser from early on (when he is following the rules), and some of the other angels are weak, easily manipulated, and only worried about their own well-being and interests. The God of this story does not tolerate rebellion or deceit, and he severely punishes his children for their misdeeds. The author excels at writing the punishments and tortures the angels are subject to, and these parts of the book are not for the faint-hearted. I know she writes horror too, and this is quite evident in her penchant for devising monstrous characters and pretty cruel and sadistic tortures.

As is often the case, the bad characters are more interesting than the good ones (that we mostly lose sight of in book 2, apart from some brief appearances). I would not say any of the characters are very sympathetic. Lilith is put to the test and punished for being what she is (and considering angels are given free-will, that seems quite cruel), but she displays psychopathic traits from the beginning and it is difficult to blame her nasty personality on her experiences. She is strong and determined, but she abandons her friends, is manipulative, and goes to extremes that make her exceedingly unlikeable. I have no problem with having a truly horrible character as the main voice of a book, although I missed something that helped me connect with her (there are moments when she hints at a weakness or hurt, but I did not feel they were particularly convincing. Perhaps a sense of humour, no matter how dark, would have helped, but other than some instances of silly behaviour very early on, there are moments of wonder but not many laughs). Gadreel is perhaps the easiest character to empathise with, and she grows and develops during book 2 (to begin with she is constantly complaining and moaning, but she gets more confident, although she is not traditionally good either). Satan does horrible things, especially to Lilith (who is not blameless by a long stretch, not that such abuse could be ever justified in real life), but he is an interesting character and quite loyal to his friends. And he also does much of what he does out of love, however misguided. I don’t know what that says about me, but I really like Dracul, Satan and Lilith’s child. He is described as quite an ugly thing, but I find him cute. There you have it.

For me, book 2 is more dynamic and moves faster than book 1. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the adventures of the fallen angels on Earth allow us to read about their first impressions of the world as it would appear to somebody who had never been here, a totally brand new place. Such estrangement and sense of wonder are fascinating and the writing captures it well. The fact that the fallen angels find themselves in a hostile environment and have to learn to work together to survive adds to the interest. Of course, Lilith has her own plans, and she makes sure she convinces others to follow.

The character of Lilith reminded me of the typical figure of the femme fatale in film noir (or the spider woman, or… well, I’m sure you can think of many epithets such females have received over the years), who is powerful but her power consists in manipulating and deceiving males, convincing them that they are in charge, while she pulls the invisible strings. I do admire such characters, especially when the circumstances are dire and that seems to be the only option to get ahead. There is always a difficult balance to maintain between creating a strong negative female character that can hold her own and ensuring it does not reinforce the usual story tropes that blame women for all of world’s ills from the beginning of times.

This book made me wonder once more about the well-known narrative (and let me tell you, there are some twists that will keep readers on their toes) of events, which amounts to a civil war in Heaven, where there is no reconciliation and no possible redress or forgiveness for those who rebelled against the established order and lost. I also had to wonder about the rules imposed in Floraison and what seems to be a bias against LGBT (sex is bad, but same-sex sex is worse and is more severely punished), which has always been an issue that has caused much religious debate.

This book is a tour-de-force that I’d recommend to readers who love to be challenged by narratives that push the limits of well-known stories and make us rethink and reconsider the stories we have been told. And one for those who love strong and wicked female characters. And baby demons…

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review 2018-03-04 02:36
Audio Book Review: Hunter, Healer
Hunter - Healer - Lilith Saintcrow

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

It's been three months since Delgado was taken. Rowan and the Society have been on the move, staying a hairs breath reach away from Sigma's fingers. Delgado did something to his mind, and he can't remember. He does know that Sigma has been drugging and beating him, asking where some girl named Rowan Price is. They want this girl. Bad. He doesn't know who she is, but if she's staying ahead of Sigma then he potentially trained her, and maybe she could help him.

Rayna is back for book two! Yes! I thought her voice fit Rowan perfectly in the first book as it fits the descriptions given of Rowan's voice. Rayna carries Rowan's emotions so well in her voice. Along with Delgado when we are in his head. There are moments that are italicized in the book to represent thoughts, which can be hard to relate vocally so the listener doesn't think the character is talking. Doing it with a slightly lower volume or whisper helps us differentiate these moments. I'm amazed at the talent Rayna has in jumping from Rowan's emotions to Delgado's emotions. They are both on a different feel, and it's portrayed in the quick scenes with grace from Rowan.

I was waiting for this audio book. I wanted to know how things would go after the ending of the first book.

Where Delgado kept his ability hidden and reserved in book one, we see him in action here. He's a killing machine when Sigma needs him to be. Or when he wants to be. We also get to see Rowan starting to understand her powers. She does more with them now, knowingly.

Rowan has grown stronger. In her ability and in character. She was weaker in the first book and still looks for her rock and love, Delgado, but she can function on her own. As a matter of fact, she can help run the team. She doesn't realize she's stepped into the position Delgado held, and she's doing an amazing job at it. Rowan is a complicated character. At times she seems like she should be weak and dependent, but she's not. There is so much more to her that makes her stronger and caring.

Delgado trained her to fight, in case this happened. In case he was taken and turned against her. He pushed Rowan past her limits when they were last together in the training room, but he knew he had to in order to keep her safe. Delgado's worst fears came true, and now Rowan is strong enough to survive against him. But she's more than that. She means the world to Delgado and he will find his way back to her.

What Delgado had to do to himself to protect Rowan from being found has lingering flickers for Delgado. Things are a tad rocky with him and Rowan as they find each other again. We see Rowan and Delgado as they are attracted to each other, but they are afraid of how things have changed. The story is more romance of how they find their way back to each other than what happens in bed, although that is present as well. This is more of the growing love they have.

The book feels to have a balance of romance and action. There is more story with Rowan and Sigma and Delgado and Sigma, as we get POV's from Rowan and Delgado. The story comes to an end, but there is an opening to possibly continue with these characters. I'd be up for it if it happens, but I'm happy with the way this ended as well.

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review 2017-10-24 17:45
Audio Book Review: Working For The Devil (Dante Valentine #1) By Lilith Saintcrow
Working for the Devil - Lilith Saintcrow

 

Book Rating: 3 Stars

GraphicAudio Rating: 5 Stars

____________________________

Book Review:

 

* For this review I decided to have different ratings for the story and the GraphicAudio narration.

 

I'll start this review by saying that the GraphicAudio book saved this story for me. This novel started off very interesting and exciting. Halfway through it, I was starting to question whether I truly wanted to finish reading it or not.

 

Dante Valentine is presented as this kick*ss heroine who does what she has to do and doesn't take any sh*t from anyone. That was only in theory. In actuality, she couldn't even get her friends to respect her decisions. She let people drag her around and play her like a puppet. At first, I thought it was strategic planning on her part. It later turned out that I was wrong.

 

I love to hate Jaf. He's mysterious in just the right way. He's one of the few things that kept me coming back to this novel again and again. The level of deceit from his part in this story is very believable but I'm still holding onto hope that it's all a farce. Though what he did to Dante makes me question whether he knows/cares about consent.

 

Am I the only one who absolutely hated Dante's ex-boyfriend. He got on my nerves SO much. He included himself in situations he had no reason to be in. He's left her once what's to stop him from doing it again? I don't care that he had a perfectly valid reason. It can't and won't erase the past. It also made the ending that much more horrendous.

 

There were a few things that got under my skin a few hours into this novel/audio book. The number one being the word "portugeso" (I listened to the audio book, so this word is probably spelled wrong). It was never made clear if it's supposed to mean portuguese even though Dante was in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Also, there was a line of a brazilian woman saying "gracias" even though the official language in Brazil is portuguese, not spanish. Some terminologies that were used throughout the story were confusing because the explanation was either glossed over or nowhere to be found. At one point, it felt like I was missing something important. Eventually, it felt like there was a novel that I should have read before this book.

 

Overall it was a nice story, but it isn't something I'd be lining up to reread any time in the future. I will probably try and make myself at least start the next novel in this series. The ending has me vexed to an alarming level. Why the heck did it end like that?!

 

GraphicAudio Review:

 

GraphicAudio did an amazing job on this audio book. It's the main reason I ended up finishing the novel in the first place. This is one of the best things I've discovered in the last few years and I'm very impressed. I always wanted to know what it'd be like if the audible audio books I usually listen to would get more narrators and special effects. GraphicAudio did that and so much more and I love it! The one criticism I have for this audio book, in particular, is that there were times that the narrator would get drowned out by the background music/effects.

 

P.S. The characters were in Brazil. Where was the stereotypical samba music when they were on the streets? :)

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