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review 2017-06-02 23:04
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium #1) (Audiobook)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

This is a tricky one, since there are two different plots going on here, as well as all the background set up on the protags. Plot 1 with the financial scandals going on in Sweden was of little interest to me. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) it bookended the book, so it was slow to start and then the ending just kind of dragged on way past where it should have ended. Plot 2 concerns a missing niece and a 30-year old mystery of what happened to her. That part took up the bulk of the book and was easily the best part. It gets a little melodramatic,

because why stop at serial killings when you can add incest and child molestation,

(spoiler show)

 but overall was well-done. The only thing I didn't care much about it was that even this was shuffled around the various personal happenings in Blomkvist's love life and professional life, and there wasn't much opportunity for the reader to try to figure things out separate from the characters in the book (though I had no doubt who the perp was after a certain point, then I was hanging around waiting for the characters to put the hows and whys together).

 

I did like Lisbeth Salander. She's awesome and you do NOT want to mess with her. :D

 

The narrator, Simon Vance, was easy to follow along with and had a good range of voices for the various characters. 

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text 2017-05-01 11:40
Monster Porn Monday

Monster Porn Monday

 

Erotica ~ Mature 18+

 

Source: imavoraciousreader.blogspot.com/2017/05/monster-porn-monday.html
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review 2017-03-03 00:55
Anansi Boys (Audiobook)
Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman,Lenny Henry

Well, this certainly has everything that makes a Neil Gaiman book a Neil Gaiman book. There are gods, weird things happening to apparently ordinary people, and interesting enough characters. But... It's my understanding that Gaiman actually wrote this book before American Gods, and it shows, and just from the way it reads, it has to be one of his earliest works. There's none of the lyrical prose that comes in the later stories, none of the quiet irony that gives flavor to his later worlds. Oh, there's still plenty of irony, it's just the kind that clubs you over the head to make sure you noticed it there. 

 

Not being African, or even African-American, I can't say if how these gods/legends were treated were accurate or not. Anansi is a trickster, that much is clear, but I'm not sure about the others. Since this is Gaiman, I have no doubt the man did his homework and approached this with nothing but love for the material. 

 

The one thing that really rubbed me the wrong way was Rosie. There's an unfortunate bit of non-con here. Since Spider is a trickster and is used to just mind-whammying people into doing or believing whatever he wants, the earlier stuff with him and Rosie was only to be expected. I guess of all it was really to be expected but I didn't like how

Spider mind-whammying Rosie into sleeping with him, when she was so set on remaining a virgin until her marriage to Charlie, was treated in the text. This is non-con, people. Yes, Rosie slaps him when she finds out and breaks up with him and Charlie as a result, but there wasn't the level of fury there I'd expected from her. Just one slap? And then she goes on immediately to tell her mother that she's in love with Spider (due to the mind-whammy, no doubt) and even later goes on to get back together with Spider. The non-con/rape is never brought up again, and while it's good that Spider stopped mind-whammying her, it was just never really addressed to my satisfaction.

(spoiler show)

 

So yeah...I can't really recommend this one on the strength of Gaiman's later works. It was entertaining enough, to a point, and certainly interesting - though I figured out the "twist" pretty early on and thought that was drawn out a little too long. Still, if you like fantasy, and particularly mythology that's not usually covered in most Western literature, then this is certainly worth a perusal. 

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review 2017-02-14 04:47
Voyager (Outlander #3) (Audiobook)
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.

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 2016-12-13 06:15
We Are the Ants
We Are the Ants - Shaun David Hutchinson

Trigger Warnings: discussion of suicide, suicide ideation, bullying

(including physical and attempted sexual assault),

(spoiler show)

depression,

miscarriage

(spoiler show)

; to a lesser degree, alcoholism, drug use. Also abduction and non-consenual medical procedures/experiments (because aliens). I would really strongly urge anyone thinking of reading this to make sure you're in a good head space, even if these aren't particular triggers for you .This is a pretty grim book most of the time, though it does lighten up somewhat in the second half.

 

So after thinking about this all weekend, I'm going to have to separate out my thoughts on this one. Since I read it for a YA group, that did shift how I read it and what I was looking at while reading. I think as a YA book, it really depends on the kid, and probably not suitable for kids younger than 15 or 16 (depending of course on the maturity of the individual child). It would be one I'd want to discuss with any kid who is reading it because of it's very heavy subject matter, and because it's written so evocatively that it really pulls you into the MC's head space, which is rather dark and dreary for a good portion of the book. I was also thinking that this isn't a book that would've appealed to me as a teen because this is the last thing I'd want to read while also surviving high school. Just, no thank you. I'm also baffled why sex in YA is such a no-no, but

sexual assault

(spoiler show)

gets a pass, along with underage drinking and illegal drug use, both of which are done with parental approval. I can't even say it was under parental supervision, because, well... I don't think it counts as supervision when the parent is smoking with the kid. So as a book aimed at YA age groups, it's not very YA-friendly. Parental advisory, and all that, I guess.

 

All that being said, if I'd been reading this on my own without taking all that other stuff into consideration, it's easily 4.5 stars. This is pretty much everything I look for in a book. I could sink my teeth into it, there was plenty to make me think, and it did a bang-up job of getting me into the MC's mental state, which is not always easy to do with stories centered around depression. Not all depressions are the same, not everyone experiences it the same way, but I grew up with a mother who was suffering from depression and I've had my bouts with it myself. There's a fine line between getting the essence of depression across to the reader and making it feel authentic to the character's experiences and thoughts versus "I just read the DSM description and browsed through WebMD, and this is what depression is!" type of portrayals of mental illness. It's kind of the same difference when watching a movie and seeing the character vs seeing the actor playing the character. I can't speak for anyone else and would never presume to, but in my experiences, this book gets depression right.

 

As for the aliens...

whether they ever existed at all or where just hallucinations that Henry conjured to give himself something else to focus his pain, anger and confusion on, that's left open-ended. If they're real, then it's highly likely the world is going to end. If they're not real, then their absence at the end signals a new beginning for Henry. Things in Henry's life are still far from perfect, but they are starting to look up. We're not told, and it's up to the reader to decide. At least I know which ending I would pick.

(spoiler show)

 

I really liked Diego and Audrey, who were great friends for Henry, and I even came to like his family - kind of. :P Ms. Faraci was great. While I hated Marcus and the other bullies, I did appreciate that Marcus was given depth without turning this into yet another bully apologist bullcrap plot line like the last two books I read that centered on bullying.

(Though I'm not a fan of the "MC is secretly sleeping with his in-the-closet bully" trope. This is the third YA m/m book I've read this year with this trope, and it in fact reminded me so much of [book:Reasons to Love a Nerd Like Me|25823439] - which I did not like - that I was constantly comparing them while I read because they hit all of the same plot points and at pretty much the same pace and for the same reasons. Aliens aside, of course.)

(spoiler show)
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