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review 2017-06-18 15:09
The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey
The Boy on the Bridge - M.R. Carey

The Boy on the Bridge is the, (at least for me), eagerly awaited prequel to The Girl With All the Gifts. This book tells the story of how the abandoned tank/lab they found in TGWAtG, the Rosalind Franklin, got to be where she was and what happened to her crew.

 

It also tells the story of a special boy on board, (who was possibly autistic?), along with the crew consisting of both military and civilian/scientific contingents. They are ordered out to reconnoiter and to collect lab samples. That's all I'll say about the plot.

 

In a way, this book is like TGWAtG, except instead of a special girl, we have a special boy. There is also the fact that we know the ending from the get-go, and I think that took away from the suspense a little bit. Lastly, I'm not sure all the science-y bits actually made sense, but even if they did I wasn't much interested in that aspect of the story. I'm more interested in the characters and whether or not they survive. Perhaps some sort of explanation was required, but I think it slowed the story down. I wanted to know more about Stephen and if what he had was actually autism or something else entirely.

 

The ending here scored BIG with me, though, and it made up for the times I thought the story was slow. Overall, I did enjoy the heck out of this story and I'm wondering if there will be another? If there is, sign me up now!

 

You can get your copy here: The Boy on the Bridge

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and Orbit for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

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review 2017-04-24 17:13
THE PLAGUE by ALBERT CAMUS
The Plague - Stuart Gilbert,Albert Camus

3-1/2 out of 5 stars. Translated from French.

I purchased this audiobook because I'm into apocalyptic/dystopian books and thought from the cover that this is what the book would be about. It's slightly like that. There's an outbreak of the bubonic plague in a town in Algeria which ends up being cut off from the outside world until it ends. So, an American book would have mayhem, bad guys trying to take over, love in the middle of the plague, starvation - this book had none of that. There was some discouragement but even the camp where people were stuck for months wasn't bad. The American version would have the camp be a hell on earth. There were a lot of speeches by different characters - a couple were actually moving. The book ended very mildly too. I'm just not used to this type of non-dystopian book.

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review 2017-04-16 16:05
Looking for Betty MacDonald by Paula Becker
Looking for Betty MacDonald: The Egg, the Plague, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and I - Paula Becker

This biography of one of America’s iconic women captures Betty MacDonald from top to bottom, from her grandparents to the relatives that survived her death. Her books shined a humorous, if sometimes critical, eye on certain aspects of living in the Pacific Northwest as one the last frontier lands in the country from the 1920s-1940s. Now Paula Becker draws the curtain back and shows us some of the things that Betty herself was reluctant to put in her semi-autobiographical novels.

After having listened to Betty MacDonald’s four novels, and having read her Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books as a kid, I felt like I knew her somewhat. This biography filled in some of the blanks and had a few surprises for me as well. Getting to know more about Betty’s ancestors and her first husband was an interesting place to start. I loved that her mom was a no-nonsense kind of person and happily traveled with her husband (who worked for a mining company – if I recall correctly). This job took the family to some of the most rugged areas of the US.

Later, when Betty starts publishing novels, Becker gives a somewhat detailed account of what each one is about. While these books aren’t described one after another all in a row (but are sprinkled in among the biography along the timeline of when they were published), I did find the descriptions a little tedious. However, I have recently finished listening to them and they are still fresh in my mind. I think that if you haven’t read the books in some time (or perhaps you haven’t read all 4 of them) then this would be a good refresher for you.

For me, the most interesting parts were in the last quarter of the book – all that stuff that happens after Betty’s fourth novel, Onions in the Stew, was published. While Betty’s second marriage was evidently much happier than her first, it wasn’t untroubled. There were money problems which surprised me. Betty’s books were very well received in their day, complete with radio and TV series along with a movie. Yet success doesn’t always prepare one to manage money well, especially if one turns that responsibility over to a spouse. Betty was in the unusual position of being the breadwinner for the family and yet also feeling socially obligated to play the merry housemaker. Becker gives us details on this without falling into gossip. I really appreciate that she stuck with known facts and extracts from MacDonald letters to paint this picture of Betty’s and Don’s marriage.

While I had read on Wikipedia about Betty’s legal troubles (several people were not happy with how they were supposedly portrayed in her books), Becker gives us many details. Plenty of those complaining received a bit of fame. Some of them really seemed to enjoy it so it was hard to say that the portrayals in Betty’s books did them any harm.

I was saddened to learn of Betty’s death and this probably sounds quite odd as I’ve known since I picked up The Egg and I so many months ago that she was deceased. However, I’ve really come to enjoy her company through these books. As Becker’s biography walks us through her last months, I really felt for Betty. She died young by today’s standards but I doubt there was much more medicine could have done then. After reading her book about her lengthy stay in a tuberculosis sanatorium (The Plague and I), I can guess that she faced her final illness with the same pointed wit.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.

The Narration: Paula Becker narrated her own book and since this is nonfiction, it worked pretty well. She tried her hand at doing a few voices when necessary and those performances were passable. For the bulk of the book, she does a great job of maintaining an even speed and giving slight inflections here and there, letting us know that she’s just as engaged in the book as us listeners are.

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review 2017-02-04 02:43
A Plague of Zombies (Lord John Grey #3.5, Audiobook)
A Plague of Zombies: An Outlander Novella - Recorded Books LLC,Diana Gabaldon,Jeff Woodman

Look, I don't like zombies. I always thought the whole concept was rather silly and could never take them seriously. Even Buffy couldn't make zombies work, though that episode is responsible for the single greatest Giles quote ever:

 

 

Supernatural did a good zombie episode in season two, and Grimm did a great season finale cliffhanger that I still remember as being uber creepy, but that's about it for me and satisfying zombie stories. (Oh, if only these two shows had stayed good. *sigh*)

 

But Gabaldon, while she deals with the mystical and timey whimey stuff in Outlander, keeps Lord John firmly set in reality, which means the zombies he encounters are the legit thing. And it's creepy as hell. Like, I didn't even know this was a for real thing until I read this because I never bothered to research it or pay any attention to it, and the idea that someone can just zombify you and you'll spend the rest of your days an animated vegetable is just disturbing, to say the least. Yes, it's super cliche, tropey and stereotypical of Jamaica and I don't care. It works. Mostly because Gabaldon is so great at writing fully realized three-dimensional characters.

 

John has his work cut out for him in Jamaica trying to squash a slave rebellion. (Let them rebel. Damn you, white oppressors!) Tom's mostly worried about the giant cockroaches and snakes. John has to deal with figuring out what started the supposed rebellion and why. It's not all as it seems, of course, because that would make John's life too easy. 

 

I somehow remembered this being longer, so the abrupt ending was kind of jarring, and I wanted to see more of Gellie. I'll just have to await her appearance in Voyager for that. It did however jog my memory about the connections between Gellie and Dr. Abernathy though, which I had also forgotten.

 

It was fun rereading/listening to these in chronological order along with Voyager. If anyone else feels compelled to do the same, the order is:

 

Voyager Ch 1-14

LJ & The Hellfire Club

LJ & The Private Matter

LJ & The Succubus

Voyager Ch 15

LJ & The Brotherhood of the Blade

LJ & The Haunted Soldier

A Custom of the Army

The Scottish Prisoner

A Plague of Zombies

Voyager Ch 16-end

 

It does make some minor continuity errors between Voyager and the LJ series (which were written much later) pretty glaring, but overall, it was fun to make all these side trips to see what John was up to during that time. (And I was totally right in my review of Custom of the Army. In the afterward to this book, Gabaldon wrote that she just looked up events going on in any given year and sent John off to them to write these stories. Vindication!)

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review 2016-12-26 16:55
Fungoid by William Meikle
Fungoid - William Meikle

 

With a pace so rapid it's hard to catch your breath, William Meikle's Fungoid destroys society.

 

Starting with an oily rain and ending with spore-releasing creatures it's hard to describe, mankind is suddenly struggling to survive. Even though that sounds far-fetched here in my review, in this book it is all too real. That could partly be due to Meikle's history as a biologist. I'm not sure where to attribute the credit, but I can verify the science-y bits in Fungoid sounded plausible to me and they didn't bog down the pace with a bunch of big scientific words.

 

There were a lot of characters here for such a short novel, but I found myself invested in them and had no trouble following each one to their destiny. I think the changing points of view were a great way to show all the different aspects of the fungi as well as the experiences of different citizens across the country.

 

Fungoid was a lot of fun and had the fastest pace of anything I've read this year. It moved along and carried this reader right along with it. I may as well have been a spore released from a big fuzzball and blown into the wind for all the control I had putting this book down. Christmas? Who cares? The spores are spreading!

 

Recommended for fans of fast paced, plague spreading, biological menaces!

 

You can get your copy here:Fungoid

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and to Darkfuse for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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