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review 2017-10-17 02:38
Amusing Audiobook about a murder at an amusement park
Tilt a Whirl - Chris Grabenstein

Danny Boyle grew up in Sea Haven, NJ -- a tourist trap of a town on the Jersey Shore. He likes the life -- hanging out with the friends he's had since high school, goofing around, eating and drinking more than he should. He's got a nice Summer gig -- working as a Part-Time police officer. The downside is his partner -- John Ceepak, an Iraq War vet and former MP. He's so by the book, he might as well have written it. The Sea Haven chief served with Ceepak and offered him a job when he was done with the Army. After an incident (IED-related), Ceepak can't drive anymore -- which is where Danny comes in.


It's not an ideal working relationship, but Danny can put up with Ceepak's eccentricities well enough. Until one day their pre-shift breakfast is interrupted by a girl covered in blood, standing in the middle of the street screaming. Ceepak jumps into action, and Danny tries to keep up. The girl takes them to the local amusement park, to the Tilt-a-Whirl ride, where her father lies shot dead. They'd snuck in before the place opened and had been held up by some junkie hiding near the ride. Or so she reports later. Her father owns half the real-estate in NY and NJ (or so it seems), sort of a would-be Trump, so his murder is big, big news.


Ceepak and Danny have to deal with media attention, annoying lawyers, gang members possibly trying to go straight, local politics, a Crime Scene Investigator that's more of a hindrance than a help, and Danny's inexperience if they're going to solve this murder and let Sea Haven get back to what it does best in the summer -- taking in every tourist dollar that it can.


The book is told with a light touch -- Danny's a smart-aleck and is (truthfully) too immature for his job; which is bad for the populace of Sea Haven, good for the reader/listener. But the lightness never gets in the way of the seriousness of the initial murder, and the crimes that follow.


Woodman is exactly the narrator that this book needed -- he's able to sound the right age for Danny, the right attitude, everything (apparently, he does a lot of YA Audiobook work, that makes sense to me). Until I heard Woodman, I hadn't thought what a challenge it might be to get just the right narrator for this. Thankfully, I noted that with a strong sense of relief, because man...he was so good.


The Ceepak books were one of those series I fully enjoyed, and had forgotten how much I had liked them since I (apparently) finished the series. This audiobook helped me remember how much I missed reading them. If you haven't gotten around to them, you should -- either as an audiobook or text -- Ceepak and Boyle are some of the most entertaining police officers around.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2017/10/16/tilt-a-whirl-audiobook-by-chris-grabenstein-jeff-woodman
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text 2015-09-16 21:12
Tea review coming soon

So I got one of these.   The lady at Teavana was amazing: she helped me pick out exactly what I need.   It's a tumbler where you can steep tea within the tumbler, it has a place to put the tea basket in the top that doesn't fall over, and you can keep hot teas hot and cold teas cold for up to twelve hours. 


I'm going to try making the tea at night and putting in ice in the morning.   I like my teas cold, to be honest.   But right now, I'm going to choose which tea to open and try another. I was thinking Whirl.   He's... basically Deadpool, but a robot.   Just as batshit crazy, he's also got the tragic physical disfigurement in his backstory.   Y'know what?   Whirl and Deadpool would get along.  But between the black tea, and the ginger, it's a little too much for me right now.  I need something really calming. 


Drift it is then.   His tea is called my faith and my sword.   He's also got ones that call him a hippy samurai and flaky spiritualist.  


I feel that his background is important to this, as it's a big reason that I'm drinking his tea.   No doubt the blender meant for his tea to be calming, as calm as Drift is, so yes, you're getting IDW background.   Troy, feel free to back out now.   New continuity, so this may just make you go 'grrr.'


Drift used to be a Decepticon, and use another name.   It's not important what, just to know that he's an ex-Decepticon.   One of the worst, in fact.   Until he was shown that there was another way.   Since then, he's changed his name, his paint job, everything about him.  He will fight if necessary, but tries not to.   He's Ultra Magnus' opposite; spiritualism has overtaken rationalism for him to a great degree.  (This is important in a narrative sense, and as a balance, but not so much for the tea review.  I just have a huge, huge thing for Magnus, so wanted to bring him in.   I wonder if there's Magnus/Drift stuff out there, though.   This is even less important to the tea review, so feel free to ignore my desire for PWP.)


And yet he is the calmest of them.   He depends quite often on his faith and his sword; they are his two strengths, although his faith comes first because it is his greatest strength.   The calm he has, the acceptance he has of himself, and his past, comes from his faith.  Without it, his sword - his physical strength - would be meaningless.   Without his faith, his life would be full of meaningless violence. 


So I'm not sure if any tea can live up to all this.  But it's got white tea and peach, and I adore peaches.   We'll see how this goes. 


And you may or may not get history lessons with these character teas. Right now, this felt important.   

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review 2014-11-11 03:31
Whirl - Emma Raveling


    Okay Jenny, you were right.....I dug it. I've had this book for quite some time, after much prompting from my blogger buddy, and now I'm just bummed I didn't get to it sooner! I've heard a lot of people talk about the similarities with this book and The Vampire Academy by Racheal Mead, and the Covenant Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout. You know what, they aren't wrong. But I will say that I heard the same thing when the Covenant series came out, Vampire Academy fans were hating big time. I read Covenant first, and then Vampire Academy, and similarities or not, I LOVED the Convenant series, and was not a fan of Vampire Academy. Even though they had some things in common, they had different themes, styles and characters, and it made them completely different. Such is the case with Whirl too. Raveling put her own stamp on this, hands down. I saw the common threads, but she made it her own, and I enjoyed it!


     First off, I LOVED the idea of this world of elementals!! We got a close look at the water elementals and their various roles and just scratched the surface of their abilities.  Ummm first time seeing Selkies in a book, and how sweet is that?!  I can't wait to see more of them!! This was clearly the start of a series, and a fantastical one at that, so Whirl ended up being more of an introduction to a very complex, imaginative world. I'm cool with that, as long as the world keeps expanding and bringing the wow factor, and I have high hopes for this as of now.




    I liked Kendra for the most part, she's kind of a badass, but like a baby badass in the elemental world. I like that she's still got a lot to learn, it makes it fun for the reader to learn right along with her. She's used to being mostly on her own and she doesn't exactly play well with others, but she's also that kind of heroine everyone likes because she has a penchant for befriending, and defending the underdogs, and who doesn't like a good underdog? She can be a little brash but I'm cool with that, I think that will even out as her character grows throughout the series. Totally random, and really childish, but I also love that there's cuss words in this book. I don't know many 17 year olds that talk like granny church mums, so I'm glad when that comes through in a story. It makes it feel a little more real. And I have a mouth that can rival any sailor most days, so



    I'm done waiting, I already have the sequel, Billow so I'll be starting that like



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review 2014-02-15 07:06
Whirl (Ondine Quartet Book 1) - Emma Raveling

Welcome to St. Vladimir's Academy. Or rather...

"Welcome to Lumiére Academy. Your school."

For fuck's sakes, the book doesn't even spell Lumière with the correct accent mark (4 years of French, bitches!).

A 17 year old girl is living on the run; she is on the move every few months, she cannot risk staying in the same place for long. Suddenly, a handsome, mysterious, dark-haired ass-kicking stranger shows up to carry her back to a secret school for mythological creatures of her race, to the heritage to which she was born. She is behind in schooling, she is forced to take remedial lessons with a sexy fighting tutor. Her school and her people are attacked by evil, demon-like, soulless creatures who seek the extinction of her race, and to turn others into themselves. Meanwhile, at her school, there are tremendous social conflicts between the soldiers who are forced to serve and protect the "royal" members of a pure bloodline. It's all fun and games until someone gets kidnapped.

Does that sound fucking familiar to you?

This book would be a blatant ripoff of Vampire Academy, if Vampire Academy had no depth whatsoever. The characters are a mermaid-mythology mixture of the characters from VA, which would be funny if not for the fact that they are all Super. Fucking. Special. Like this book's equivalent of Dimitri Belikov...he's not just a bad-ass soldier. He's a PRINCE as well!

Not to mention there's a freaking love square.

The Similarities:

The Moroi = The Ondines: The pure-blooded vampire Moroi are this book's equivalent of the Redavi, the royalty of the Water Elementals. Like the Moroi, the Ondines think themselves superior. Like the Moroi, the Ondines are capable of the creation of two races.

"Ondines are peaceful, powerful, and protective. Along with our dessondine ancestors, we are responsible for the protection and maintenance of water. We give birth to two races, ondines and demillirs. We are beings of magic, leaders and symbols of the water elemental world."

Ondines, like Moroi, do not fight. They have others to fight for them.

"I still don't understand how training ondines to fight is a problem."
"It goes against our very nature." Her lips tightened. "It would be like trying to turn a swan into a shark."

Like the old-blood Moroi, the royal Ondines are immensely wealthy, having amassed fortunes throughout their long lives.

Elemental Magic: Like the Moroi, the Ondines each possess a magical ability.

Broussard's eyes swept the classroom. "Who can name the eight Virtues?"
"Clairvoyance, Kinesis, Projection, Healing, Cloaking, Empath, Teleportation, and Transmutation."

The Dhampirs = The Demilirs/The Gardinels: Half human males who serve as protectors and guardians of the Ondines. They possess the strength and agility that the Ondines do not possess (except for Kendra because she is extra fucking special).

...most non-Redavi demillirs serve as chevaliers because they possess extra-human speed and strength.

There is a considerable amount of tension between the working class guards and the Ondines who think themselves superior to those who have to fight.

"Redavi demillirs take afternoon classes in business and politics. But they usually just hang around bragging about their inheritances."
"Fucking Redavi," Cam muttered under his breath.

The Strigoi = The Aquidae: Both are demonic beings who seek to "turn" the pure into their own wickedly evil race. They used to be normal, until they were turned.

"Aquidae are grotesque demons with no soul. No matter how much they may look like us, they are not. They do not live, but feed off violence and death." She shook her head sadly. "The great tragedy is that these abominations used to be beings of light."

Aquidae were humans or elementals who were turned, either by force or by choice.

Their numbers are endless because they can always be created. The only way to destroy them...is by staking or decapitation.

"How can an Aquidae be killed?"
"By destroying the Origin scar, either through staking or decapitation," Ryder said. "Staking is the easier of the two."

St. Vladimir's Academy = St. Lumiere Academy: A specialized academy, unknown to humans, whose mission is to educate in the use of magic for the "pure" Ondines, and fighting classes for those who live to serve the Ondines.

"Depends on what teacher you get. We're all juniors," Ryder motioned to everyone at the table, "which means we have most of our regular classes together. In the afternoon, we go to chevalier training classes while ondines take elemental magic or Virtue classes."

Rose + Lissa = Kendra: What do you get when you mix Dhampir Rose with Moroi royalty Lissa? You get super special ass-kicking prophecy child Kendra. She has all of Rose's sultry, dark-haired sexiness.

Thick, straight hair tumbled down to my waist, and I gave it a few more swipes with a brush to make it shine. I swept all of it in front of my left shoulder so that my right shoulder lay bare, showing off my tattoo. The familiar feel of my dagger in its usual place at the small of my back comforted me.
Sexy and just a bit dangerous. Exactly the look I was going for.

And Rose's sexuality, and Rose's fighting skills, and Rose's attitude. And none of her depth.

Kendra is Rose in a photograph. You can see what she's like, but there is no personality to her otherwise. She does not grow, she exhibits all of Rose's temper and childishness, and none of the likeability because of the fact that she is so utterly special. Rose is imperfect. Rose is shunned, Rose earns our respect. Kendra does not. Mainly because Kendra exhibits all of what makes Lissa special, as well.

Kendra never has my sympathy because of how utterly fucking special she is.

I remembered that tournament two years ago. I'd won decisively in kumite, the free sparring division against a six-five guy who was over twice my weight. Receiving that trophy was one of the proudest moments of my life.

She is not just a bad-ass fighter, she is also Ondine royalty. Or as they call it here, Redavi.

I knew we were Redavi, which is kind of like nobility in ondine society.

Not only was my mom Redavi, but she was the daughter of the official political leader of Haverleau.

So she has Lissa's royal bloodline. Fucking awesome, and not only that, Kendra has Lissa's special talent in Spirit, as well. Or as they call it here, Empath. And Empath are SOOOOOO FUCKING RARE among the Ondine.

"You're an Empath?" Chloe squeaked. "That's really rare."
"I've never met an Empath before," Ryder said, staring at me like I'd grown horns out of my head.

So not only is she special because she is a fighter, she is royalty, she has special clairvoyance, but Kendra is also part of a prophecy. She will save her people.

"There was a prophecy," Aubrey said. "No one knows the exact details because prophecies are highly protected. But it predicted the coming of an ondine who would have the mark of the elemental diamond on her left ankle, and the mark of water on her right shoulder. As the sondaleur, she'd bring about the end of our war with the Aquidae."

God help us. Not only is she super special, but there is a prophecy involving her birth as well.

Dimitri Belikov = Tristan Belicoux: My god, even their last names sound alike. Tristan is actually Dimitri with a dash of Adrian Ivashkov. Not only is he a very competent bodyguard and fighter...

Every movement was full of power, revealing the litheness of his body and his superior skill and control. Gold streaked through the air as his kouperet staked first one and then the other.
All three Aquidae were on the ground, dead in a pool of thick, dark blood.
I couldn't believe it. I'd never seen anyone move as fast or as effectively as this man just did.

But he is fucking Selkie royalty, as well. He is wealthy, he is refined, he is a Prince and a fighter.

"And of course, you've met Prince Tristan Belicoux."
"He's Chief Gardinel and Crown Prince of the Selkie Kingdom."

He is more of a Dimitri than Adrian. Tristan has Dimitri's self control, his sense of loyalty and honor. A blatant ripoff.

Adrian Ivashkov = Julian LeVeq: The playful, insolent playboy, also of royal blood himself. A few years older, a graduate of Lumiere Academy. He has a reputation for dropping panties everywhere he goes.

"He's got quite a rep with the ladies," Chloe said. "And you're totally his type."

There is a hidden depth to him. Adrian Julian lounges a lot. He leans against...stuff.

Julian LeVeq leaned casually against the wall, a small smile playing on his lips.

He chills.

Julian LeVeq leaned casually against the doorjamb with his arms crossed, charisma rolling off him in waves.

He lounges on a park bench. He is smooth. He reads obscure poetry. He is relaxation personified because every fucking time we see him, he's just chillin'.

Julian LeVeq lounged on a bench directly beneath the lamp, reading a battered paperback of The Complete Poetry of Arthur Rimbaud.

Except for when he's fighting. A lover AND a fighter. Color me bored.

Mason Ashford = Ryder: A dhampir demilir. A sandy-haired, muscular, friendly, laughing boy who is one of Rose Kendra's closest friend and ally. Sound familiar?

Forbidden Love: It wouldn't be a Vampire Academy ripoff without a love story, would it? In this case, we have the forbidden love between Dimitri Tristan and Kendra. The love between a guardian and an ondine?! Impossible!!!!!! It would be such a scandal if such a thing were to happen!

Aubrey shot me a surprised look. "You haven't heard? She went Rogue. Ran off last night with the gardinel assigned to her mother. They'd been together secretly for awhile."
Everyone shifted uncomfortably and I suddenly noticed my chest hurt.
"Don't they know what's going to happen?" Chloe shuddered.
No one said anything. We all knew the consequences.

LOVE SQUARE: THIS IS NOT A SIMILARITY TO VA BECAUSE EVERYONE IS IN LOVE WITH KENDRA. Not only the dreamy, swoony, impossible-love of Tristan, but there's also funny, friendly boy Ryder who is once again relegated to the fucking nice boy who is jerked around like a puppet on a string.

Ryder and I spent quite a chunk of time together every day. I didn't consider him my boyfriend, but I did enjoy being around him. He made me laugh and his unfailing admiration made me feel good. Selfish as that feeling may be, I needed it a lot right now.

But there's also Julian on top of that!

Julian probably wanted to add me to his long list of conquered women and he thought his chances would improve if we spent more time together.

So what's better than ONE royalty in love with you? TWO royalty who wants to get into your pants, as well as a boy on the side with whom you can screw around without consequences, because, hey, fuck his feelings, amirite?

Just read Vampire Academy, your mind will thank you from not having to draw out constant similarities.

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text 2013-11-16 19:40
Gave it a whirl...
Whirl - Emma Raveling

So let's give this a whirl (yuk yuk yuk). 

What I liked: Decent world building and a female protagonist (Kendra) that was tough and intelligent. I liked the male romantic interest too (Although, a seal? Really, a seal?), and thought they had good, if sporadic, chemistry. I also liked the kind of bat-shit crazy magic mentor and the network of women that Kendra could call on for support. Some demerit points for the whole 2D mean girl thing. It felt like filler. 

What I had trouble with: Keeping the who-what-which race thing straight. At the end of the story I still wasn't sure what the difference was between a chevalier and a demmellier. And I kept forgetting who was who among the adults who seemed like props for our main character's actions. I also had some difficulty with the pacing as it felt like things were getting started about halfway through. Although it was a good solid introduction, I didn't feel like it was a story unto itself. 

Overall verdict: A decent, if not super-orginal YA that didn't get on my nerves. I'd consider picking up the next book in the series.

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