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review 2018-07-15 14:03
Let Me Love You by Jessica Jayne
Let Me Love You - Jessica Jayne
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I liked this one. I took a bit of a chance on this book since I have never read anything written by Jessica Jayne and both of the narrators were new to me. It was a gamble that paid off. It is a rather quick read and I ended up listening to the bulk of it in a single day and found it to be very enjoyable.

Stacey is a thirty-one year old divorced woman who has know Ren for years since she lives next to Ren's parents. Ren is a twenty-three year old recent college graduate who has his eye set on his neighbor. Ren has spent time during the past several summers helping Stacey out around her house and they have a pretty close friendship but Ren wants more. A lot more. Stacey has some issues with the fact that she is older than Ren and she considers his mother to be one of her friends.

I liked Stacey and Ren and thought that they made a really nice couple. They know each other really well from the time before the start of this story and their personalities mesh really well. They have great chemistry together. There were times that Stacey wasn't sure she should pursue a relationship with Ren but there was never a question regarding whether she wanted him. It was nice to see her thought processes as she tried to figure things out. I loved how Ren knew what he wanted and was determined to make it happen. He stood up for their relationship and really was a good match for Stacey. 

I thought that Joe Arden and Samantha Cooke did a great job with this story. I usually listen to audiobooks at regular 1x speed and I did find that felt a little slow when Samantha Cooke was reading. Once I increased the speed to 1.25x speed, the reading felt a lot more natural to me. I thought that both narrators were able to bring a lot of emotion to the story and made some scenes more intense. I liked the voices that each narrator used for the characters in the story. I would not hesitate to listen to more of both of their work in the future.

I would recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance. This was a nice quick listen that had a lot of feels and some heat. I thought that Ren and Stacey were great as a couple and I was excited to watch them figure out how to make things work. I look forward to reading more of Jessica Jayne's work in the future.

I received a review copy of this audiobook from the author via Caffeinated Services.

Initial Thoughts
I liked this one. I thought that Ren and Stacy had a lot of chemistry with each other. I didn't really think that 8 years it too much of an age gap. Nobody would have thought anything of it if Ren had been 8 years older than Stacey. This was pretty short had all of the needed elements. I enjoyed both of the narrators and listened to this one at 1.25x speed. When I tried to listen at 1x speed, I did think that the female narrator was too slow so I started over at the increased speed and had no issues.

 

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review 2018-07-15 02:50
The Diviners
The Diviners - Libba Bray

I think it's time for a real review because that old one was just embarrassing (especially given that I just re-read this book).

I finally got around to reading this again like I've been meaning to do for some time now but lots of things happened and here we are several years later. I have the other books in a series which I'm also just getting around to now but anyways, moving on.

I don't know how young I was when I read this but like I get why I got scared reading it at night ya know. Maybe it's just because I've grown and not as easily scared anymore but thankfully it didn't scare me this time around.

I know that a lot of people had problems with Evie and they didn't like her. I was not one of those people. I mean yes, I get why people disliked her but it didn't bother me. I thought it gave her personality, made her seem real. I think I even have a few friends who are like her, maybe that was why she didn't bother me as much. There was a lot of 20s slang present in the book as well but it didn't make it any harder to understand or take away from the story, it's pretty easy to figure out what they're talking about.

I loved the diverse cast of characters that were present and the backstory on each of them. I think it really made them seem more realistic and also made you feel for them in a way. For example, what Blind Bill did to Isaiah, it was a terrible thing that he did but at the same time, when you learn more about him, you kind of understand where he was coming from and why he did it, it doesn't make it excusable, but you understand.

I love how everyone is connected to each other and watching those connections unfold. It honestly made me excited because I knew how the characters were connected but they didn't and it just kept you flipping the pages.

There's a hint of a love triangle present in the story, but it doesn't take away from the story or overshadow the plot ya know, it's mostly in the background. I hate love triangles just as much as the next person but it didn't bother me. And honestly, I could see Evie ending up with either Sam or Jericho like I support both of them. I'm leaning towards Jericho just a L I T T L E bit more, but I can see her ending up with either and I'd fully support the end product either way.

The romance was not the point, however.

I think the supernatural stuff was written really well, the murders were gruesome and maybe it makes me a sociopath but I honestly loved reading those bits. It was so great watching the mystery unfold as Evie and the rest of them put everything together.

And I think my favourite part of the book was the way that it showed how people can get carried away and fanatic with what they believe and how this blurs the line between good and bad. How anything is excusable if you believe that you're doing it in the name of God. I don't know, but I thought it was probably the most interesting aspect of the book, seeing the level of devotion that people had to the Brethren and how far they were willing to go in order to see through what they believed to be the word of God.

TL;DR please read this it's an amazing book and well worth your money.

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review 2018-07-15 02:43
Lair of Dreams
Lair of Dreams - Libba Bray

I honestly just can't put into words how much I absolutely love this series and it kills me that it's not as popular as some of the other stuff out there. I can't believe everyone went crazy for Divergent but is completely ignoring this gem.

The second book in the series was just as brilliant as the first. It had the same mystery and spookiness to it and I love how all of the clues that we get from each book on Project Buffalo is slowly building up to give us a picture of what's really going on. Seriously the suspense is killing me. I don't even mind that I have to wait this long for the fourth book to come out because honestly, this series is well worth the wait.

If you're looking for a story that has a diverse cast of characters well then sister this is it. You are here, you've found it. There are people of different races, ethnicities, religions, sexuality, and physical disability etc etc. And what's great is that the struggles that these characters have to put up with because they're black, or Chinese, or disabled, or gay, isn't lost to the story, it's really well incorporated into explaining their actions and their thoughts and how they see the world. The culture and mentality and racism that was present in the 1920s is very much present in this book and I seriously believe that this series would not have been the same if it had all been ignored.

I will say that if you didn't like Evie in the first book, you're probably not gonna like her any better in this book. But no matter how angry you may get with Evie and the way that she's behaving, you ultimately feel bad for her in the end when you see how she's dealing with her situation.

Blind Bill Johnson hasn't really been all that important so far, but I will say that as much as the way that he's manipulating Isaiah disgusts me, I get it. I understand where he's coming from, I get why he's doing what he's doing. I think he's a pretty complex character for someone who hasn't played as big of a role in the story so far.

The sleeping sickness was truly spooky, especially near the end where everything comes to a close and we figure out what's going on and who's responsible for what. I honestly had to stop reading quite a few times just because I was freaking out, I didn't see the plot twist coming, maybe it's because I wasn't paying attention. Everything was all there for me to put together, I just didn't bother stopping to think about how each piece fits together.

Normally I hate pretty much any and all love triangles but not in this book. I'm honestly amazed at how well-written the romance is. Usually, you can tell who the protagonist is going to end up picking, but not in this series. And honestly, I don't even have a preference myself, I would be just as happy for Evie to end up with either prospect, I just want the angst and the suffering to end for my boys Jericho and Sam/Sergei.

Although if Jericho resorts to the "nice guys finish last" type of mentality I'm going to be angry for the rest of my life.

Each relationship in the love triangle works well, the characters all have something or need something from the other that would make the relationship work ya know. And most importantly, it doesn't distract from the plot, like in most cases where it ends up more romance and what was supposed to be actual plot kind of just becomes a side thought. I can't believe I'm saying this, but if anything, the romance actually adds to the story and helps move it along.

The writing was fantastic, it flowed so well, the pacing was great, it keeps you engaged and it's honestly really easy to spend your entire day reading all 613 pages of this. 

And the cliffhanger at the end honestly has me #deadt.

In conclusion, I've been screaming about this series from the rooftops for literally years on end now but no one will listen to me about how good it is. And lastly, I am forever a fan of Libba Bray honestly bless up, this was the supernatural, paranormal story that I didn't even know I needed.

 

(Also, I saw that lil nod towards Felicity and Gemma in the book, I saw it. I just wanna know if they're gonna end up making a bigger appearance later on or if it's just a lil something for the Gemma Doyle fans out there? WHO DOES GEMMA MARRY? WHO IS THIS RAO CHARACTER? FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED LIBBA!)
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review 2018-07-15 00:03
To Siri With Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness of Machines by Judith Newman
To Siri with Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness of Machines - Judith Newman

Prior to moving to my current town, I was part of a really good sci-fi/fantasy book club. I recently decided that it would be nice to attend face-to-face book club meetings again, so I looked into my options. My local public library has a book club, and their next meeting is in late August. Unfortunately, they selected To Siri With Love for that meeting.

Ignore the book's title - this is primarily a mom's memoir of raising her autistic son, with occasional mentions of her husband and neurotypical son. Technology does come up, but not as much as the title implies it does.

I've had one other exposure to Judith Newman's writing that I know of, her New York Times article "To Siri, With Love." I liked it because 1) the parts about Siri interested me, 2) it made me recall my fascinating, enjoyable, and occasionally frustrating attempts at conversing with chatbots, and 3) it didn't automatically dismiss technology as bad and detrimental to social interaction.

I had heard of this book but decided not to read it after hearing about autistic adults' boycott of it and reading a few 1-star reviews that included quotes from the book. One bit that particularly repulsed me was the author's stated desire to forcibly sterilize her child when he turns 18 (more on this in a bit). I didn't want or need to read more than that. But then my idea about joining a book club happened.

I don't have much experience with memoirs, but I imagine that, in most of them, the author's views and personality are very clearly a part of the text. If the author's views bother you or if you don't like the author, it may be difficult to like the book. I certainly found that to be the case here.

It started at the very beginning of the book, in the Author's Note. Newman mentioned that she'd be using masculine pronouns to refer to people in general. If she'd left it at that, I might not have thought much of it. Although I tend to prefer they/them in such instances, masculine pronouns used to be the rule and lots of people still use them that way. Newman, however, decided to go off on a little tangent. She mentioned a friend of hers, who'd written a parenting book using they/them pronouns and the term "cisgender" where appropriate. At the end of this paragraph, Newman wrote:

"She did this at the insistence of her teenage daughter. Language needs to evolve, but not into something ugly and imprecise. I read her book simultaneously loving her parenting philosophy and wanting to punch her in the face." (x)

I can't imagine writing this about a person I supposedly considered a friend and that friend's daughter. She likely intended it to be humorous, but it read to me as insulting. She was essentially mocking both her friend's teenage daughter for suggesting she use more inclusive language and her friend, for listening to her own daughter. This part also said something about her biases, since her friend's decision to use "cisgender" had nothing to do with the author's original statement about her pronoun choice. Also, I'd argue that her friend's word choices were actually more precise.

Newman dug her hole deeper in her very next paragraph, where she explained that she did not consult her kids (twins, one neurotypical and one autistic) about whether they were okay with everything she included in her book. From the sounds of things, Henry and Gus, who were 13 or 14 at the time, may have had a general idea of what their mother's book would be like, but that was it. I thought about this part of the Author's Note a lot. There were anecdotes relating to everyone in the family, but Gus was the book's focus, and Newman covered everything from details about his personal hygiene to her discovery of his tastes in porn. She also included several of his text message exchanges with friends.

There were multiple instances where Newman seemed to realize that what she was writing was horrifying but opted to continue on anyway. For example, she mentioned a game she played with herself when she was pregnant, in which she'd ask herself "if something was wrong with my child, what abnormality would I be able to tolerate, and what was beyond the pale? (As you can see, I don't rate an A-plus on the Basic-Human-Decency Report Card.)" (17)

Then there was the bit that originally cemented my decision not to read this book. Newman started off by talking about Gus's height. He was small for his age, and not particularly bothered by this fact, but it bothered her, and she worried that it would not only bother him one day but also that by then it would be too late to do anything about it. Newman's concerns about making Gus's decision about growth hormones for him morphed into a section about sex and reproduction. Specifically, Newman did not feel that her son should have children.

"A vasectomy is so easy. A couple of snips, a couple of days of ice in your pants, and voila. A life free of worry. Or one less worry. For me.

How do you say 'I'm sterilizing my son' without sounding like a eugenicist?'" (116)

Some part of Newman must have realized that the answer is "you can't," because the next page and a half was devoted to information about eugenics and its connection to the history of disability. Instead of concluding that wanting to give her son a vasectomy was wrong and meant she was siding with eugenicists, however, here is where Newman ended up:

"But wherever you stand on this question, when you start considering how the history of disability is inextricably intertwined with the history of euthanizing and enforced sterilization, you come away unsettled. I began to question my certainty that Gus should never have kids. There is a good success rate in vasectomy reversals, and surely there will be even easier, more reversible methods for men soon. And when there are, I'm going to be the first in line to sign him up. Kids at twenty or twenty-five? No. Thirty-five? I can hope." (117-118)

There were multiple times when Newman laid out all the pieces for a particular conclusion but then never took that last step necessary to connect all the dots. The vasectomy section was a good example of this, but so was the part where Newman admitted that Gus exhibited signs of learned helplessness, highlighted by occasional demonstrations of skills she never knew he had because she'd never expected him to develop them. She had spent the entire book talking about all the things Gus couldn't do, that she didn't think he'd ever be able to do. He'd never date anyone, never marry, never have real friends (Gus had people he considered friends, but that Newman dismissed as not being "real" friends), never be able to hold down a job. She wrote about the problems that could result from having low expectations...and then continued to write about all the things she believed Gus would never be able to do. It was maddening.

There were a few instances in the book where she talked to autistic adults, asking them for insight and advice. Which was great, except that I didn't feel like she always listened to what they said, like, for example, that Gus might be more aware and know more than she realizes. This was in response to Newman's question about how to talk to Gus about sex when he seemed so uninterested in asking her about it, but it could have been applied to lots of other things.

Well, I finished this book and am now ready for the book club meeting. Here's hoping I'm not the only one who had issues with it.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-07-14 23:03
And I Darken (and snore): DNF at 50%
And I Darken - Kiersten White

I have been listening to this for almost 7 hours and absolutely nothing has happened. Nothing. A lot of Lada being an absolute bitch to anyone and everyone and her brother being an obviously homosexual wannabe Muslim and everyone else is out to kill them. I am so over this mess. I hate Lada. She is nasty and vindictive and rude. Everything she does "out of love" is manipulative. I kept on listening, praying for this to pick up, but it never did. All battles were skipped, which is such a Twilight move. Any time a fight scene might come up, the chapter ends, the next begins and everything is over. It's just lazy writing. A lot of fluff and filler. Boring. 

 

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