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Search tags: YA-Fiction
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review 2018-05-25 22:00
Absolutely fantastic!
Transformers: IDW Collection Phase Two Volume 3 - Jimbo Salgado,Nick Roche,Alex Milne,John Barber,James Lamar Roberts

This is just splendid: a lot of storylines are coming together, and it's beautiful to watch it all in one go.  

 

I think I'm gonna reread all this next year, too, to be honest.

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review 2018-05-25 22:00
"An Argumentation Of Historians - The Chronicles of St Mary's #9" by Jodi Taylor
 An Argumentation of Historians: The Chronicles of St. Mary's - Jodi Taylor,Zara Ramm

 

 

So the last St. Mary's book, "And The Rest Is History"mangled my emotions with great skill, putting me through much more angst than any allegedly light story about time-travelling historians has a right to. In her introduction to "An Argumentation Of Historians", Jodi Taylor says that her publishers asked if she could make this volume a little less depressing.  I think she managed that, but only just.

 

When Max says towards the start of the book:

"It had been a bad year but it was over now. I could look forward to the future"

I'm sure not a single reader will believe her.

There are lots of good things in this chronicle of St. Mary's. I was immediately back at home watching St. Mary's muddle through with stout hearts, awful luck and a reckless excess of pluck. We started off at a joust with Henry VIII and at the burning of Persepolis with Alexander the Great. It was all good stuff.

 

When it turned out that Clive Roland was back as the big bad and I became less pleased. This is a man with all of Time to choose from who still chooses to spend his energies plotting revenge on Max. He's apparently clever enough to avoid the might of the Time Police yet too dumb to kill Max on sight. I've had enough of that. I'd like a new bad guy. or at least the slow, painful and definitively final excoriation of this one. I found myself saying: "New balls, please!"

 

Then Jodi Taylor did it again. Just as I'd grown dissatisfied, Max ends up, lost, alone and with no hope of rescue in England in 1399 and we are treated to an engaging story of her efforts to make a life for herself there. This part of the book, which seemed like half of it, is wonderfully done.

 

The plot twist at the end holds up and explains a lot of the action but I didn't find it as satisfying as the 1399 section.

 

This was a good St. Mary's episode with some evocative pieces and it moves the story arc along but I'll be happier if/when we get a different big bad on the scene (although I'd be happy to applaud clever and violent revenge in the meantime.

 

 

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review 2018-05-25 20:28
Part of Summer Reading Goals
A Free Man of Color - Barbara Hambly
I first discovered Hambly by reading her fantasy. In fact, the book was Dragonsbane. But, I think her real love is historical fiction because her historical fiction is better. This was the first her historical fiction I read. It is the start of the Ben January series. 

Ben is a free man of color in recently US brought New Orleans. His mother was a field slave until a white man took an interest in her and brought and freed both her and her two children. The same man paid for Ben's education, both in New Orleans and Paris. Ben is both a skilled surgeon and a skilled piano player. When he returns to New Orleans after a long spell in Paris, he has to readjust to the various codes that he needs to live by. His mother and youngest sister are both prominent in planter society - his sister, Minou, is a mistress to a white planter. His other sister (full sister) is a voodoo priestess, a wife, and a mother. Needless to say, there is some family drama, in particular Ben's feeling that his mother loves her third child (the daughter of the white man who freed her) best.

The first book finds Ben in the midst of a murder mystery where is life is on the line, for better to accuses a black man of murder of a black woman than an white man or woman from society. He also interacts with one of the new American lawman, who somewhat to everyone surprise can read. 

In a later edition of the book or installment in the series, Hambly corrects what historical erros she made here. (Hambly has a degree in and has taught history). What is of note here is Hambly's use of code switching by the characters, the use of color to determine social standing (including shades of black, something that is not always dealt with) as well as women having to deal with a society that constructs them. And of course, the question of race and slavery. It is to Hambly's credit that she never goes the route of the trophe of good master, and even "good" masters are dismissed by Ben as not being moral because of owning another person or treating black people as less than human. 

Ben and his friend Hannibal might, might, be a bit too ahead of their time in being open minded, but both men's back stories do take this into account. Neither man is perfect, and in fact, Ben does wrestle somewhat with one or two reveals in the story. 

Personallly, I find Livia, Ben's mother, to be the most interesting character of all.

 

 

(This is part of my summer reading goals, which include re-reading and reading the whole series).

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review 2018-05-25 18:30
THE ROAD TO JONESTOWN by Jeff Guinn, narrated by George Newbern
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

What a sad, sad, story. Even while I was listening, I was hoping for a different ending. 

 

Jeff Guinn is an excellent author of true crime. He is somehow able to relate the facts of the story without passing judgement. In this case, I learned a lot. The Peoples Church, (no apostrophe!), did a lot of work in the area of desegregation. Jim Jones and his wife even adopted a black child. In fact, they did a lot of good works together, for the elderly and for the members of their church. 

 

But as so often happens, absolute power corrupts and all that. Jim ran his church with an iron fist. He slept with many partners and somehow made it so that it was okay within his church. He began to do drugs-a lot of drugs. There was corporal punishment for those who did not follow the rules. He began to become paranoid and unbearable to be around, at times. 

 

Follow this to the end that we all knew was coming. I didn't realize how many people were involved in this mass suicide/mass murder, but I know now it was over 900. I say mass murder because children, (children!), were killed by having a syringe full of poisoned flavor-aide shot down their throats. It's one thing when your twisted beliefs cause you to kill yourself, it's another thing entirely to kill infants and children. It's just such a waste of life. 

 

Despite my attempts, I will never understand this mentality. I'm fascinated with it, I admit, but I can't understand it. Perhaps, it's just not understandable? It's certainly not sane. 

 

If you want to learn more about the Peoples Church and Jim Jones, then I highly recommend this book. I listened to it on audio, narrated by George Newbern and he was excellent. 

 

*I downloaded this audio-book from my library for free. Libraries RULE!*

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review 2018-05-25 18:07
‘VOX’ is the kind of dystopia that feels unnerving because it feels so familiar; hints of Atwood and Orwell, in this utterly compulsive read
Vox - Christina Dalcher

This was so good that it was one of those books I just could not put down. Being thrown into a dystopian nightmare that doesn’t seem so far-fetched is thoroughly unnerving because it’s feels entirely too familiar. We’ve read and seen a lot of imagined dystopias lately where women are quite brutally subjugated, but reading ‘VOX’ felt more subtle and thus a little more frightening.

 

‘VOX’ centers around Dr. Jean McClellan, a former doctor and professor who studied aphasia (loss of speech), and her family, and we quickly see how the new Government ‘rules’, and the ‘Pure’ Movement have affected her family. ‘Bracelets’ have been placed on all females’ wrists, and they track words spoken each day; the word counter allows them only 100 words in 24 hours and beyond that, they’ll receive electric shocks. Jean’s daughter has got to the point to where she barely speaks at all. Women can’t work anymore, use birth control, read, write, spend their own money; men have the ultimate say in everything. There are also stiff punishments for extramarital and premarital sex, even exiling and humiliating teenagers on public TV.

 

Jean is eventually called up by the very Government that has put all of this in place, for her help and expertise. The President’s brother suddenly has lost his ability to talk after an accident and they need her help, as one of the top experts in the country on aphasia. Her rather meek and quiet husband, who works for the Government, encourages her to do it, and she’s motivated by the deal of having her daughter’s word counter removed.

Does this all seem too convenient? Maybe. There are a few plot points that work out a little too easily. But it’s compulsive reading. As well as being one of those books that doesn’t feel so far away from being our truth, it’s hard not feel like this could happen to your family.
That makes it successful.

 

And the fact that we are drawn in by all the hints of other great dystopian novels written by Margaret Atwood, Naomi Alderman (just recently), or even George Orwell, so be it. There are some great action scenes in here, grand questions about how we should be living our lives, a huge argument that is playing now with the ‘Pure Movement’ concept (getting back to basics, and the religious right), and that is really why feel like Dalcher has hit the nail on the head with this. Great read!


*Thank you Penguin for my First Read! Having an early digital copy has not affected my ability to give an honest review.

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/37796866-vox
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