logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: borrowed-from-library
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-12-10 05:51
Days Without End (Audiobook)
Days Without End - Sebastian Barry,Aidan A. Kelly

Narration: 5 stars

Story: 3.5 stars

Final rating: 4 stars

 

It was my week for strange stories. This isn't even a story in the traditional sense. This reads more like a rambling memoir but with language so intimate and lush that I could easily forget that I was only really getting broad brushstrokes for the bulk of the story. This is mostly a summation of a young man's life as he figures out some hard-won truths.

 

Told from the POV of Thomas McNulty, an Irish immigrant, as we follow him and his friend turned lover John Cole across America in the mid-1800s. Survivors of the famine, they come to America with nothing, practically starved to death, and start to figure out how to survive from one day to the next, whether that's playacting as girls in a stage show or joining the Army to fight in the Indian Wars and eventually the Civil War.

 

This book doesn't shy away from the harsh reality of this time period in American history, nor does it give us safely and comfortably progressive-minded MCs to filter that reality through. Thomas and John Cole might not be outright hateful of anyone but they don't stop to ask why they're being given the orders they're given nor do they spend much time if any contemplating the morality of the slaughter of the First Peoples. Not at first. As Thomas notes at one point, no soldier fully understands the war he fights in; he only knows his one part in it. 

 

I was most interested in Thomas's and John's non-Army days, while they were living together and eventually with their adopted daughter Winona, a Sioux orphan, but those parts were sparse safe harbors in between all the violence and war of those times. The ending, such as it was, is more open-ended than anything else. 

I would have preferred a reunion between Thomas, John and Winona instead of just Thomas looking forward to it.

(spoiler show)

 

The narration by Aiden Kelly was truly amazing. He captures Thomas's bewildered voice perfectly and truly makes this oddly mesmerizing story come to life. 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-12-01 20:33
Jane Eyre (Audiobook)
Jane Eyre (Centaur Classics) [The 100 greatest novels of all time - #17] - Charlotte Brontë

What the hell did I just read?

 

This book is nearly 200-years old, but in case you're like me and know nothing about this book: SPOILERS! You've been warned. :D

 

This book started out with orphaned Jane living with relative-in-laws who barely put up with her, Jane getting into trouble and being sent to a boarding school and ... wait? This is Jane Eyre and not David Copperfield, right? *checks book* Right. And I can tell because it's much better written, has much more interesting and better developed characters and actually gets to a point eventually. 

 

It took me a while to get into this one, until I realized the audiobook playback was just too slow to keep my attention and I sped it up to 1.20x. Wanda McFadden does an excellent job narrating and she does Jane's voice especially well, a crucial detail. Plus, the fire was quite an attention-grabber too. And then it got a little meandering for a few more chapters and then Rochester has a room that he can lock people into and they can't get out! THAT'S NORMAL!

 

At that point, I started to really root for Jane to get the hell out of there, especially as things got even more messed up - and she does! She even stumbles upon a literally found family who treats her well and to whom she can contribute equally, and she gains financial independence to boot! She's scot free! Only she eventually goes back, marries Rochester and lives happily ever after. The End!

 

 

I wanted a gif of someone shaking a book upside down as if looking for more pages, but this one works just as well! Because this book ended and I kept waiting. There had to be another chapter, right? One that started with, "Reader, he locked me in the attic."

 

Though I guess a man locking up his cray-cray Creole wife is totally normal and acceptable behavior for the 1800s. And going after his ward's governess, who is less than half his age and whose name he can't even get right half the time, well that's a time-honored tradition. And who says bigamy can't be romantic? *cough*Outlander*cough* Oh, Janet. I mean Jane, what were you thinking?

 

I take it we have Ms. Brontë to blame for one of my least favorite tropes: the strong independent woman who falls for the thuggish brute. *sigh* And yet Jane is so astute and headstrong and knows her own mind and ambitions so well, I can't hold it against her. If I had only two options and one of them was Rochester and the other was Rivers, I'd choose Rochester too. 

 

WAIT! Hear me out! Because Rivers just wanted her as a project, someone to reform and shape into what he wanted her to be, completely disregarding what she wanted and desired, whereas Rochester wanted her for herself. And at least if she ever goes crazy, she'll have the comforting foreknowledge that Rochester will take care of her at home and not send her off to an asylum. Plus, he's infirm and half-blind, so if she really needed to fight him off, she probably could. Silver linings! I has them!

 

 

Shhh! Katniss, no. We're all sane here. :) (Also not what I was looking for when I searched for gifs of silver linings, but again, I'll take it.)

 

I guess feminism and female power only got you so far in the 1800s. In today's world, I like to think that Jane would've told Rivers to screw himself (well, she does here too), forgot all about Rochester, opened her own school and lived happily ever after.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-11-15 03:29
The Golem and the Jinni (Audiobook)
The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel - Helene Wecker,George Guidall

They say there are no new stories and only seven basic plots, and that is certainly true. Trying to find new ways to retell stories and spin those plots has been the tasks of authors and storytellers since the moment right after the very first story was ever told, and every once in a rare while an author comes along who can bring something truly fresh to the scene. This is such a book. 

 

It's been a long time since I've been this impressed by a book. Maybe it helps that I'm not especially familiar with golems or jinnis, though the mythology used here is on point with what I do know of them. The magic comes in putting these mystical creatures in turn-of-the century Big Apple and putting them both in positions that require them to examine and test their very natures. The supporting cast is equally as fascinating, from Ice Cream Selah, Maryam Faddoul, Arbeely, Rabbi Meyer and Michael Levy, to name a few. They're all trying to figure out life, figure out their place in it - even when they think they know what that place should be - and watching as the author weaves their various storylines together like the Fates at their loom. 

 

This was enrapturing, made even more so because I couldn't figure out where the story was going or how it would all be resolved. For every thread I managed to tie together, there were several others that I couldn't see how they connected. And I really didn't want to. I was happy to just sit back and allow the story to unfold in its own time, and it didn't disappoint.

 

The narrator, George Guidall, does a wonderful job capturing the many characters and bringing their cultures and neighborhoods to life. 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-11-12 21:18
The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (Montague Siblings #2)
The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy - Mackenzi Lee

While I enjoyed The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, I found it uneven in the way it handled both the historical and fantasy aspects of the story. It felt like neither one really got their fair share of the story, and both suffered as a result. So I was hesitant to give this one a try and probably would've passed it up if one of my groups hadn't chosen it for the book of the month.

 

This was a little slow to start, and Felicity drove me up the wall at first with her selfishness and single-mindedness. Ambition is all well and good, but when it comes hand in hand with stepping over anyone who gets in your way, I can't really back that person up. Thankfully, Felicity does a lot of growing up over the course of the book and it was fun to watch. 

 

I also really appreciated that this book examined all aspects of feminism and femininity, and didn't just focus on the "women can do men's work" aspect of it, because what is men's work anyway? It's a ludicrous concept. But so often in literature and media, girls or women who exhibit more "manly" traits - being good at fighting/killing, being aggressive, etc - are applauded, while women who are traditionally feminine are not. Just look at the different receptions that Arya and Sansa Stark get. This book shows that there's more than one way for women to be independent, strong and self-assured. With Felicity, Johanna and Sim, we get three such women as they go out into the world and figure out how to make their own way in it. It does get a little head-bashy at times, but this is still such an important message that girls need to learn and hear (there's no wrong way to be a woman), that I didn't mind it too much when it got a little preachy.

 

Also, Felicity is ace/aro and I identified so much with her on that aspect of herself. Because really, kissing? Ew. In addition to her is Sim, an African Muslim lesbian/bisexual (we don't really know; it doesn't really matter), and some cameos by Monty and Percy, so there's lots of LGBT+ rep in this book. 

 

I'm confused about who the girl in the cover is supposed to be though. Felicity has red hair, Sim is black, and Johanna doesn't come in until about a third of the way through, though the hair color's a match. But the story is told from Felicity's POV. *shrugs* It's a cool cover. :D

 

I thought the historical aspects were much better handled here than in the first book, and were given much better detail and attention. The fantasy elements too were better handled and integrated into the story, though it takes awhile for them to show up. 

I was still bemused about some of it though, in particular that Johanna doesn't bat an eye at learning that dragons are real. It makes sense for Felicity to take it in stride, given the previous book, but Johanna didn't know magic and alchemy and such were real until that moment. How about some doubt, at least? "I'll believe it when I see it" maybe. Something.

(spoiler show)

Johanna and Felicity both display some uncomfortable (but appropriate for the time) colonialist attitudes at points that I wanted to shake them for. 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-11-03 03:14
Mr. Lincoln: The Life of Abraham Lincoln (Audiobook)
Mr. Lincoln: The Life of Abraham Lincoln - NOT A BOOK

Forgive me, Lincoln, for I have sinned. I attempted to listen to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and it was so bad. To atone, I have listened to this wonderful lecture series by Lincoln historian Allen C. Guezlo to learn actual real things about your life. ... I don't know how to close out a confession properly, so I'll just say, dude, you rocked.

 

This is a twelve-part lecture series, each lecture around 35 minutes, that details the life of Abraham Lincoln from his birth in Kentucky to his assassination by John Wilkes Booth. He was a truly fascinating man, who loved his country, believed in moral rights and human rights, and always tried to live within the law. Guezlo presents his lectures in clear and concise detail and while he clearly has great admiration for President Lincoln, he is impartial and gives the facts as they are.

 

This is a great summary of the life and achievements of a remarkable man.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?