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review 2020-06-05 01:43
Stardust - Neil Gaiman

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

A wonderfully fantastic journey through the unknown. This book is pure Gaiman, filled with all sorts of oddities, mystical elements, and pure magic.

I listened to the audiobook of this as read by the author. This is the third or fourth audiobook I've listened to by Gaiman and each one is a treat. He has a special way of reading his work aloud that makes the words come to life. Well done.

Overall, I liked the story. There were many elements that mesh well together. However, even though I knew it was a fairy tale for adults, I was less interested in the violence and sex. Some of it was a little prolonged for my taste.

Also, there's this whole weird thing about consent in terms of the star that I just can't quite get over. I remember being creeped out by it when I watched the film adaptation, so I knew it was coming, but it still didn't sit well with me. The story for the most part was good, but I think the issue of consent was a large hole that prevented me from fully enjoying the story.

However, most of the elements were fantastical and interesting. I really enjoyed all of the characters and they dynamics between them. A truly magical read filled with age-defying witches, a unicorn, a boy unaware of his past, conniving siblings fighting over the throne, and most importantly, a star.

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review 2020-05-05 04:25
Audiobook Catch-Up Quick Takes on Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey, Jefferson Mays (Narrator); Heartless by Gail Carriger, Emily Gray (Narrator); Demon Born Magic by Jayne Faith, Amy Landon (Narrator); Stardust by Neil Gaiman; Dumplin' by Julie Murphy, E
Funny, You Don't Look Autistic - Michael McCreary
Paradise Valley: A Novel (Highway Quartet) - C.J. Box
Dumplin' - Julie Murphy
Stardust - Neil Gaiman
Heartless - Gail Carriger
Caliban's War - James S.A. Corey

The point of these quick takes post to catch up on my "To Write About" stack—emphasizing pithiness, not thoroughness. This is a little longer than most of these that I do, I just wanted to get caught up on my Library Book Audiobooks (I'm so thankful that I can get audio downloads from my library right now—I'd be lost without them!)

Caliban's War

Caliban's War

by James S.A. Corey, Jefferson Mays (Narrator)
Series: The Expanse, #2
Unabridged Audiobook, 21 hrs.
Hachette Audio, 2017
Read: April 6-14, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

(the official blurb)
90% of the reason I'm doing this in a Quick Take post is because if I don't cover it in a paragraph or two, I'll take 15 pages (or the equivalent). I'm kicking myself so hard for not jumping on each installment of this series as soon as it was published (although, if I did, I would be missing out on the audiobooks). I read the first book shortly after publication, but missed the release of this bookso before I realized it I was two novels and over a thousand pages behind, and I just couldn't find the time to catch up.

Anyway, this might not have been the right time to listen to a novel about an unexpected, largely unknown, biological enemy of all humanity and the inexplicable reactions of several governments to itthrough the eyes of people living in fairly enclosed spaces. Still, it's gripping, imaginative, wonderfully told and very compelling. I can't wait to see what's next (although, I'm pretty apprehensive of it, too). I loved the new characters and hope they stick around.
4 Stars





by Gail Carriger, Emily Gray (Narrator)
Series: The Parasol Protectorate, #4
Unabridged Audiobook, 11 hrs,, 19 mins
Hachette Audio, 2011
Read: April 1-3, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

(the official blurb)
I think I'm about over this series, but maybe it was just this novel. Alexia seemed to run around oblivious to what was going on for almost the entire booksure, it's kind of explained by the effect "the infant inconvenience" is having on her mind, but I don't totally buy that. (maybe that's my maleness talking). The first couple of chapters and the little bit at the end with the newborn were the highlights for methe climactic battle sequence was fun, I just didn't like how we got there. Still, it was a fun listen and I enjoy the characters. I hope the series finale is better.


That said, Emily Gray is a delight. I seriously cannot listen to her enough.
3 Stars


Demon Born Magics

Demon Born Magic

by Jayne Faith, Amy Landon (Narrator)
Series: Ella Grey, #4
Unabridged Audiobook, 8 hrs., and 52 mins.
Tantor Audio, 2017
Read: April 24-27, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

(the official blurb)
Ella now knows where her brother is, but she's been cut off from her power, so she can't move on it. Due to her lack of power (and some other stuffincluding a total and inexplicable lack of due process), she loses her job. She and Damien start a private consulting business, make a Faustian deal and will deal with the consequences over most of this book and the next. Along the way, Ella learns why her brother is off the grid.

The luster has really worn off this series for me. I think it's possible that Faith will stick the landing and I'll be happy with the set as a whole, but I think she's squandered a good start. If there was more than one book left, I'm not sure I'd bother.
3 Stars




by Neil Gaiman
Unabridged Audiobook, 6 hrs., 23 mins
HarperAudio, 2006
Read: April 28-29, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

(the official blurb)
I remember being disappointed when I read the book a few years ago, because the movie version (that I love) was such a lousy adaptation. The text eventually won me over, but it took a long time. This is backward, I realize, but what are you going to do?

Anyway, I came into this audiobook with low expectations, but I wasn't in the mood to spend money on an audiobook and everything I wanted from the library was checked out. Listening to Gaiman's always fun, so I gave this a whirl. Between Gaiman, low expectations, knowing it's not the movie, and a story that's really good when you give it a chance, I had a great time.

It's a fairy tale that isn't. Gaiman draws on every convention, every trope and uses them the way a child uses a play-doh set.
4 Stars



by Julie Murphy, Eileen Stevens (Narrator)
Series: Dumplin', #1
Unabridged Audiobook, 9 hrs., 45 mins.
HarperAudio, 2015
Read: April 29-30, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

(the official blurb)
This was just cute. Another "don't make me spend money on audiobooks while I wait for holds to become available" listen. A YA story about a fat girl (her words, not mine) who joins her small-town beauty pagent, and the scandal that ensues. It's almost entirely predictable, but Murphy's style makes it feel fresh, and you just don't care about the predictability. Steven's narration is spot-on, too. I had a lot of fun with this.
3 Stars


Funny, You Don't Look Autistic

Funny, You Don't Look Autistic: A Comedian's Guide to Life on the Spectrum

by Michael McCreary
Unabridged Audiobook, 3 hrs., 37 mins
Annick Press, 2019
Read: March 31, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

(the official blurb)
McCreary was five when he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, but it had challenged him and his parents far before then. In this short memoir, he talks about growing up with ASD and finding his place in performing and comedy. This wasn't as funny as you might hope from a comedian's memoir, but given that the focus of it was on the way he got through life and learning his craft while learning how to live in a neurotypical world, it'd be hard to be funny. Still, there was a light-heartedness to the entire book that made it pretty appealing.


I had plenty of fun listening to this, and gained some insight (much needed, I expect) into ASD. I think the hard copy might be a bit better because there are charts, graphs, etc. he mentions throughout (yes, there are pdf versions available on the publisher's site, but who listens to an audiobook when they can stop and look at a pdf?).
3.5 Stars


Paradise Valley

Paradise Valley

by C. J. Box, Christina Delaine (Narrator)
Series: The Highway Quartet, #4
Unabridged Audiobook, 10 hrs., 6 mins
Recorded Books, 2017
Read: March 26-30, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

(the official blurb)
Here we go. Cassie Dewell vs. The Lizard King: The Final Battle. Kyle Westergaard comes along for the ride, toobecause we can't have a Highway novel without a young person's perspective. A lot of other characters from the entire series make appearances (important ones), too.

This was a solidhorrifying, but solidconclusion to this arc. And it does set up a way for things to continue beyond this point.

I'm really glad that I started this series (it, too, started with a "don't make me spend money on audiobooks while I wait for holds to become available" listen)
3.5 Stars


2020 Library Love Challenge

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2020/05/04/audiobook-catch-up-quick-takes-on-calibans-war-by-james-s-a-corey-jefferson-mays-narrator-heartless-by-gail-carriger-emily-gray-narrator-demon-born-magic-by-jayne-faith-amy-landon-narrato
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text 2019-07-03 12:28
The Book Junkie Trials Sign Up
The Eyes of Tamburah (Archives of the Invisible Sword #1) - Maria V. Snyder
The Kingdom - Jess Rothenberg
Vicious - V.E. Schwab
The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air) - Holly Black
Stardust - Neil Gaiman

Soooo I found out yesterday about a fantastic, epic readathon called "The Book Junkie Trials" hosted by Rachel Marie. The idea is pretty simple: you are sorted into a team and then follow a map quest completing prompts to move to the next 'location'. The idea is lovely and I can't wait until next week to fully start!! Head over here to learn about the readathon. They have a drive folder featuring all the maps and the reading tracker you have to use to log in  your finished reads. It's is a very organised event and I'm excited to participate in it!!


I'm proud team #scribe, a team led by Sophiesticated Books, Duchess of Scribes

Who are the scribes you might ask?

Scribes are professional chroniclers who write accounts of important or historical events. They follow where the action is. However, they have been known to give rather conflicting accounts of battles, depending upon which side they favour.

ABILITY: The ability to rewrite their tale. Their unique ability is to read a book that wasn’t on their declared TBR.

WEAKNESS As scribes spend so much time documenting their findings, one of their challenges will take MUCH longer than normal. Read a book over 500 pages.

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review 2019-01-14 20:27
Hybrid Stardust - Unohana

E.... AMO Kiyoto! Come e sottolineo COME si può non amare un diciottenne folle che appena vede un barbone mezzo nudo e congelato su una panchina, invece di farsi prendere dalla pietà e preoccuparsi, chiamare qualcuno...gli chiede semplicemente ridacchiando se è un maniaco e non si vergogna a girare nudo. Come si fa a non amare un ragazzetto mezzo maniaco come lui? Risposta: NON si può. Kiyoto, che già mi sembrava un piccolo demonietto nel precedente volume nella sua piccola comparsa, in questo dimostra tutta la sua follia e....tenerezza. Il giovane non esita con il suo modo di fare da divetto viziato e stravagante a costringere il povero Yakyou Taizo, trentottenne disperato e in rovina, senza più una casa e famiglia, a fargli da amante/schiavetto personale. Nonostante la storia sia meno realistica rispetto al primo volume, più fantasiosa ed erotica (vista la natura del perverso uke) mi ha comunque colpito in positivo riuscendo stranamente a superare in bellezza anche la precedente opera della mangaka. Ho apprezzato molto infatti non solo lo stile un po' pazzerello e spumeggiante di questo volume, molto diverso nei toni rispetto all'altro ma soprattutto il complesso lavoro sulla coppia e la psicologia dei protagonisti. A una prima occhiata potrebbe sembrare tutto semplice e banale, scontato, il ragazzino ricco che si prende un "daddy" e si fa cavalcare dall'uomo in ogni fiume, lago, montagna e collina ma basta poco per entrare più nel cuore della storia e dei personaggi e scoprire dei retroscena che in Koe Wa Shite Namida wa Mienu Nure Karasu erano solo accennati quasi a non voler turbare il lettore e farlo angosciare, qui veniamo con prepotenza buttati nel mondo crudele e spietato degli affari. Kiyoto nonostante la giovane età ha già un futuro scritto davanti a se, un futuro che non potrà mai cambiare, dovrà ben presto farsi carico dell'azienda di famiglia e questo lo terrorizza, il giovane è consapevole di non essere abbastanza bravo per farlo, non certo abile come il suo fratellastro Rin ma.... dovrà farlo prima o poi, assumersi le sue responsabilità e questa consapevolezza lo ferisce, tutti non pensano che sia degno del suo ruolo e i crudeli uomini d'affari che lo circondano come avvoltoi non esitano ad insultarlo, accusandolo di essere una vergogna, un disonore per il suo nome. A ferire ulteriormente il giovane è il suo amato nonno, uomo che sembra essere stato l'unico a dare un po' di affetto al bambino portandolo a pescare e trattandolo con amore un uomo che ora si ritrova in un letto incapace di ricordare pure il nome del nipote, chiamandolo ogni volta che lo vede con il nome del figlio. Il ragazzo è ferito dalla vita e dalla sua condizione e trova l'unico sfogo nel sesso, nel comportamento irresponsabile ed autodistruttivo, senza cercare un amore che gli verrà negato o strappato e quindi... inutile. Yakyou è quindi l'uomo perfetto per colmare il suo vuoto, se Kiyoto è fin troppo freddo lui è l'opposto... nasconde una dolcezza infinita che lo ha portato ad essere troppo buono e ad essere truffato da persone che avrebbero dovuto aiutarlo ma che lo hanno ingannato e abbandonato nelle grinfie dei creditori, è sempre stato pugnalato alle spalle ma non ha smesso di fidarsi degli altri e per lui il giovane è un'anima da salvare e aiutare. Ben presto l'uomo si avvicina al ragazzino e il rapporto tra i due diventa indissolubile. Ho apprezzato la scelta di non far mai effettivamente dire "Ti amo" ai protagonisti perché... non serve e tutto è sotto gli occhi del lettore. Vedere Taizo che dice a Kiyoto che ci sarà sempre e lo sosterrà, che deve andare avanti a testa alta avendo al suo fianco come uno scudo e il ragazzino che chiede all'uomo di non andare con altri ma di guardare solo lui è una dichiarazione più che sufficiente per far battere il cuore di ogni fujoshi. Una storia insomma emozionante dall'inizio alla fine che riesce a mixare alla perfezione il dramma che caratterizza la condizione del giovane e del fratellastro Rin, che ricompare insieme all'amante per dare manforte al piccolino di casa e dimostrare per l'ennesima volta il suo amore e sacrificio verso la sua unica famiglia, l'erotismo e la comicità che le battutine di Kiyoto (e delle cameriere simpaticissime e fujoshi nell'anima che gongolano a vedere due bei manzi in giro per casa nudi e sexy) regalano al lettore. Consigliato assolutamente

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review 2019-01-04 21:33
Rust & Stardust
Rust & Stardust - T. Greenwood

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

I wasn’t exactly sure what this novel would be like—true crime stories are usually more on the grim, graphic side, and as for “Lolita” (for which Sally Horner’s story was partly an inspiration), I admit I liked it more for its value as a classic than for its theme. Still, “Rust & Stardust” looked like it’d be an interesting read, and that it was… as well as heart-breaking in many ways. (Especially when you already know how things went for the real Sally Horner.)

One thing I really appreciated with it is how it never veers into graphic/descriptive territory when it comes to the sexual abuse Sally suffered. I’m not a prude, but reading about women being defiled in terms that make the whole thing look like “stuff being done to a piece of meat” has never been something I particularly relish, and when the victims are kids, how to put it… That’d just be the worst. So I was really glad that, while there’s no doubt as to what LaSalle does to Sally, there’s also no need to say more. We get it. We get the picture. He’s a disgusting man. And we can leave it at that.

There’s also a really frustrating side to the story, in that it shows us several close calls where, had things gone just slightly differently, Sally could’ve been found much sooner. It always hinges on a tiny thing, on just the wrong timing—frustrating, but also all too human, because it puts the reader face to face with something that most of us may indeed not recognise in time to act. It’s all about “someone has to do something”, but the someones who could act are sometimes oblivious, and sometimes make their decision just that tad bit too late to be useful. And, to be fair, most of the characters were so naive! Granted, it was 1948, and we can assume there weren't so many horror stories of kids being abducted at the time, and people wouldn't be as savvy and wary as they generally (well, supposedly) are now. Still, I felt like slapping them sometimes and tall them "duh, this is so obvious!"

(I say “frustrating”, but with a dash of anticipation, like when you’re left with a cliffhanger.)

The novel doesn’t entirely follow Sally’s ordeal either, and the author took some freedoms with the side characters: people whom Sally meets, who may or may not be in positions to help her, and who provide a ray of sunshine in her existence while LaSalle drags her around. What it was exactly like for the real Sally, we’ll never know, but here, it felt as if these encounters allowed her to survive, to remain strong enough in spite of all the grim sides. There’s an (expected) turning point when she reaches that stage where she starts to look more like a young woman, something that doesn’t “appeal” to Frank, and in turn, he gradually treats her differently—and you can’t help but shiver, on top of the previous shivers due to the whole paedophilia part itself, because it’s when you also start wondering “how long until he discards her because she’s not a little girl anymore?”

I guess I had more trouble, all in all, with the overall style. The writing was OK but not the best ever, and there were moments in the story when the rhythm felt strange; or perhaps that was because everything focused on the characters and little on the investigation itself, so there wasn’t the same kind of suspense I usually associate with “crime stories”?

Nevertheless, I “enjoyed” the book, also for telling this story that deserved telling. 3.5 to 4 stars here.

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