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review 2018-04-11 23:21
Well this was a new spin on an old fairy tale...
Never - Tara Lain,Kale Williams

"Never" is the fourth book in 'The Pennymaker Tales' which are all based on traditional fairy tales...the first book was 'Sinders and Ash' based on the story of Cinderella' while the next one was 'Driven Snow' and based on Snow White, also I have to admit this is the one story in this series that I have neither read not listened to on audio and book #3 was entitled 'Beauty Inc.' and you guessed it loosely based on 'Beauty and the Beast'.

 

So now that you're basically all caught up here we are on book #4 which is entitled 'Never' and yes it is based on the story of Peter Pan. We have Wen Darling (otherwise known as Wendell Darling) and he's raising his brother and sister because Dad was a dull and boring accountant who did nothing but work to provided for his family...how very irresponsible of him and mom was a flighty, ditsy, artistic and totally irresponsible person who was more worried about saving whales and doing whatever it is that flighty ditsy artistic people do then the caring for the 3 children she brought into this world...you go mom!  But be that all as it may, both mom and dad are no longer in the picture...both have departed this plane of existence leaving Wen to be the responsible one.

 

Wen's managed ok, he's working in an advertising agency and while money's tight he's managed to provide food and shelter for his siblings and himself and he provides acting lessons for his brother, John...and can I just say as much as he seems to love his brother this little dude comes off as an ungrateful little sod at times and music lessons for his sister, Michaela,  who is incredibly responsible for a sixteen year old. Taking care of the her younger brother and just generally playing mother to both of her brothers.

 

When an advertising campaign falls through because Wen's boss doesn't have the foresight to listen to Wen and use a more innovative approach...there's a silver lining for Wen and his co-workers when they are given the opportunity to come up with a better campaign for the...wait for it...you're going to love this one...PEANUT BUTTER!!! Now come on who doesn't remember Peter Pan peanut butter? Which I believe is still available in the US but I haven't seen it on the shelves here in Canada in a while and Google didn't want to share info about Peter Pan Peanut Butter with me...it did tell me that 'Skippy Peanut Butter' is no longer sold in Canada. Personally I'm a Kraft Peanut Butter fan myself...oops, sorry I squirreled again...back to Wen and his advertising dilemma...

 

Faced with the prospect of an opportunity that could make or break is career Wen and the team throw themselves into the job and after a long and exhausting not to mention fruitless day Wen heads home to his family. It's this trip home that changes everything for Wen as he's waiting for the subway train to take him home he encounters an unusual girl with a parasol and the most extraordinary piece of artwork he's every seen...the problem is the artworks been done on the subway walls by a graffiti artist who wants to remain anonymous. 

 

With the encouragement of his siblings Wen stakes out the subway station where he saw the artwork in the hopes that he'll return. So far I'm loving this I mean it's good. The characters are solid and with the arrival of Peter and his gang they become even more interesting and things begin to happen...not all of it's good either. 

 

Kale Williams is the narrator for this one as he was for the previous stories and as with 'Beauty Inc.' the only other book I've listened to on audio he did an admirable job. I like his voices and they suited the characters quite well...especially Tink, I enjoyed his voice for Tink and Shamu (sorry, I'm not sure about the name or spelling on this character...it's the downside of audio books, you can't do a quick reference to check things like spelling) anyways, this character was one of the lost boys and we also have Hook and Smee (actually I believe his name was Hooker, but whatever we all know he's the bad guy and he sounded like one too. His voice had just a bit of a 'you don't want to trust this dude sound to it) and of course Mr. Pennymaker was back and sounding very much like the Mr. Pennymaker that I remembered from Beauty Inc. this is bonus because I love it when a character's voice stays consistent from story to story which is one of the reasons that I totally support having the same narrator for a series that carries the same characters from book to book even if the MCs change if the central core of characters are basically the same having then sound the same in book 5 as they did in book 3 goes a long way towards contributing towards listening pleasure for me.

 

So we have a cute story, good characters, solid narration on a scale of 1 to 5, I'm giving the narration a solid 4) and also on the upside the cheese factor that bothered me in 'Beauty Inc.' didn't seem to be here...so, why only 3.5 and not say 4? 4.5? or even 5 stars  you might wonder...well, it was the ending. I was enjoying the hell outta' myself here boys and girls...I mean fun times. I like a cute, fluffy story as much as the next person and this one was all that minus the overabundance of cheese and the ending didn't have to much cheese...nope, nope, nope the ending for me had more sap than a forest of maple trees in the spring time and add to that the fact that even though this story like the fairytale was suppose end with 'and they all lived happily ever after' I couldn't buy it not when it felt like one of those characters wasn't totally on board with the HEA and seemed to resolve himself to more of an 'ok, whatevs I get hot monkey sex. So let's do this thing' type of attitude and that my friends is as close as I'm going to go in terms of details as to why this went from 4+ stars to 3.5 rounded down in those places where 1/2 stars don't exist.

 

*************************

An audio book of 'Never' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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text 2018-04-05 16:42
Military tech wank that fails as an actual novel
The Foresight War - Anthony G. Williams

Anthony Williams’s book begins with a premise of two historians, one British, the other German, who find themselves sent back seventy years (exactly why or how is never explained) to 1934, where they use their knowledge of history to prepare for the upcoming war. This premise serves as a vehicle to allow Williams to re-wage the war with the lessons and weapons it would produce. His knowledge of military technology is considerable, and he uses it to make a number of plausible and thought-provoking conjectures about what direction such developments could take and their impact upon the battlefields of the 1940s.

Where his novel lacks verisimilitude, however, is in its presentation of the broader history of the period, as well as in the ramifications of his alterations. To achieve his wide-ranging restructuring of the British armed forces in the 1930s, the author completely ignores the financial and political constraints that the British government faced. Political leaders are in fact totally absent from such a dramatic shift, as a cabal of civil servants uses the advice of Williams’s macguffin to completely restructure British policy – and all without so much as a question in Parliament. Even more disappointingly, Williams glosses over the ramifications of the changes he offers – how Britain’s improved military, for example, might have been used to preserve the empire for longer than was the case. The possible implications are more than enough to sustain a much longer book, perhaps even a trilogy, yet are packed into a narrative too dense and rushed to allow them to develop properly.

This points to the unfortunate problem underlying the book – the writing itself. The interesting premise and superb research he presents to the reader is deserving of better writing than he provides here. Williams presents action scenes by telling rather than showing, and his characters do little more than make expository overviews of the developments taking place. In his defense, Williams states (though not within these pages) that his concept is meant to be his main character, with the characters within the novel there primarily to carry the plot forward. I appreciate his honesty in this regard, but an idea alone does not great (or even good) fiction make. As Joan Slonczewski has argued about science fiction writing, ideas are only one part of the experience that makes up a good story; it also is dependent on character development and gripping writing. If the purpose of Williams’s book was to explore ideas about the Second World War, he should have chosen a better format for presenting them or done the work necessary to bring the novel together. It seems lazy not to have put as much effort into the storytelling as he evidently did into the story itself, which is why this book proves to be such a disappointment.

Readers who are primarily interested in the idea of a Second World War fought with more advanced weaponry will enjoy this book and the ideas Williams presents. But for anyone seeking a good novel of alternative history would do well to pass on this book and consider the works such as Lest Darkness Fall or John Birmingham’s “Axis of Time” trilogy, which have developed similar premises but engage readers with not just their ideas but their storytelling as well

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review 2018-04-05 01:44
The Cricket in Times Square - George Selden,Garth Williams
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I absolutely loved this book. It is an adorably entertaining read.

While reading it, I had vague recollections of having read it before, but nothing concrete. I think I read it in elementary school, but I don't remember much of it. I am so glad I read it now though.

Fantastic story. This is such a fun read. The characters are interesting and the premise is very unique. I really enjoyed the ending as well. A great all around book.
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text 2018-04-04 22:44
You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson $1,99
You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain - Phoebe Robinson,Jessica Williams

Being a black woman in America means contending with old prejudices and fresh absurdities every day. Comedian Phoebe Robinson has experienced her fair share over the years: she's been unceremoniously relegated to the role of “the black friend,” as if she is somehow the authority on all things racial; she's been questioned about her love of U2 and Billy Joel (“isn’t that...white people music?”); she's been called “uppity” for having an opinion in the workplace; she's been followed around stores by security guards; and yes, people do ask her whether they can touch her hair all. the. time. Now, she's ready to take these topics to the page—and she’s going to make you laugh as she’s doing it.

Using her trademark wit alongside pop-culture references galore, Robinson explores everything from why Lisa Bonet is “Queen. Bae. Jesus,” to breaking down the terrible nature of casting calls, to giving her less-than-traditional advice to the future female president, and demanding that the NFL clean up its act, all told in the same conversational voice that launched her podcast, 2 Dope Queens, to the top spot on iTunes. As personal as it is political, You Can't Touch My Hair examines our cultural climate and skewers our biases with humor and heart, announcing Robinson as a writer on the rise.

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review 2018-03-29 02:49
You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson
You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain - Phoebe Robinson,Jessica Williams

Phoebe Robinson is a black American comedian/actress who discusses racism and feminism with heavy doses of pop culture references in this book. A lot of it was interesting, but she lost me several times with the pop culture sections and relentless references, and I kinda skipped over a few bits where she did things like go off and rank the U2 band members in the order she'd sleep with them. I mean, I didn't know who she was before I picked up this book, so her U2 band member preferences weren't a huge concern sergo I didn't really feel like reading a paragraph about each one.

 

I have to hand it to her for managing to pull off a kind of biting irreverent tone consistently throughout while still managing to have serious things to say (except for tangents). I think the tangents are meant to lighten some of those depressingly serious bits so that more people find it entertaining. Plus she's a comedian, so the whole can almost count as parts of a stand-up routine.

 

She does talk about her hair and black hair in general, racism and feminism, and I felt I did take some stuff away from the book, but it wasn't written in such a way that I could love it, although I'm sure some people would. Ultimately I liked it but I'm not sure whether I'd recommend it. If she wrote another book I'd probably check it out though.

 

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