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review 2016-05-19 09:05
From Hooked to Meh to Nope
Timebound - Rysa Walker

First things first:

 

 

I listened to the audiobook and I do like Kate Rudd's voice even if I don't think she can really do good accents or male voices. I mostly adapted to her style and it worked for the story. I don't know if I'd seek for more books she's narrated—probably not—but I wouldn't skip on a book because she's voiced it either.

 

Then the story:

 

I actually had to pause and restart this audiobook because I felt like I was missing something important at the beginning. It turns out this really wasn't the case as Walker uses ample time to set up the world and story simply because time travel as a concept is just that confusing. Others have called this a pacing issue and info dumping, but I can't say I noticed as I was listening to the audiobook.

 

I did, however, notice how the author introduced new characters who became super important to the protagonist in a blink of an eye, even if I didn't label and file it under "characters too stupid to live" until later.

 

Other things that did bother me, were the main character and first person voice narrator calling a character "Pudgy" long after she'd learned his name. This fat-phobia resurfaced when Kate's—the time travelling protagonist—boyfriend took her home for dinner and she made a comment about how thin Trey is despite all the food his family's Guatemalan housekeeper keeps pushing at him and everyone at the table.

 

Speaking of secondary POC characters. I completely missed Charlayne's (African American, thankfully the author tweeted me and set me right *wipes forehead & flicks fingers*) description, but then again she only featured in a handful of scenes. She's supposed to be Kate's best friend and motivate her to keep time jumping, but it's not like she has her own personality on the page. You could even call her the token black character and you'd be right.

 

Other than a vague feeling of something not being quite right and the use of words "blood as pure as mine" when Kate's talking about her time travelling gene, I can't really pinpoint my problem with race in this book. An expert—which is to say a non white person—could tell you more.

 

There's a love triangle in this book and series.

 

If you need to know more, keep reading.

 

One of the love interests is another time jumper from an earlier time who is supposed to be a villain to some but is quite obviously helping Kate in her quest to correct the time shifts. Thing is, I couldn't care less about Kiernan Dunne and he's obviously supposed to be the one who ends up with Kate. Kiernan is from the past and in love with another version of Kate from another timeline, but when has that stopped a creative author?

 

I did however like Trey, one of the insta-love contenders of the year and a contemporary guy from one of Kate's changed timelines. Unlike with Kiernan, Walker actually shows how Trey and Kate grow closer and could be good together. And I figured he'd be the one she'd have to sacrifice to fix things, which made me like him all the more right up until the point where he insisted that all she had to do was to smile at him for him to fall in love with her again. It wouldn't matter what she'd say.

 

And I just can't with that. Neither can I with the fact that Kate's supposedly ready to have sex with Trey just after she's been threatened with rape. I was expecting that particular discussion to happen but I'd hoped the mere threat to her life would've sufficed to prompt it. After all, they might never see each other again after Kate's next time jump.

 

As for the big bad, I liked that it was basically a family feud combined with religion. It gave me ideas and hopes, which I do not trust the author to fulfill or win me over with her own interpretation.

 

I just wasn't sure about that until the author tweeted me.

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review 2015-07-15 03:40
Stop reading dead white cis men.
I, Robot - Isaac Asimov

This was painful to get through, but bad books often are. I'll admit that the theory of Three Laws of Robotics is sound, and worth investigating, but I did not like what Asimov did with it, not at all.

 

I lost my patience with the story and Asimov around the second or third time of Mr Weston is referred as the poor man who loved his wife and thus breaks his little girls heart by taking her robot away from her. Which is to say, all was lost within first ten pages of the first story.

 

Cutting edge science fiction, you guys, with 1950s gender roles! The only excuse in Asimov's favour is that I, Robot was published in 1950.

 

Then for a moment I thought, the robots could have been a metaphor for race, but I should have known better. There is nothing there but dated visions of advanced technology and flawed logic. And it's even expanded into a series!

 

Did I mention how badly Asimov writes women? Not only is the wife a villain, the retiring specialist in the frame story is a moody spinster who was foolish enough to fancy a younger man some years ago and who carries apples in her purse for a hungry man's convenience.

 

It's 2015, People! We can and should do better. Stop reading dead white cis men.

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review 2015-03-20 10:00
God's War (Bel Dame Apocrypha #1) by Kameron Hurley
God's War: Bel Dame Apocrypha - Kameron Hurley

Skip the first part and its five chapters. That’s all you need to know about Hurley’s God’s War. Trust me.

 

Oh, you need more. I guess I could…

 

Imagine a futuristic world, a planet—not Earth, think Arrakis without the worms—where two countries are at a war with each other. And it’s a holy war that’s dragging all their neutral neighbours and people of the Kitab down with them.

 

Then imagine an alien coming down with an agenda of her own, a plan to win a bigger war at home—on Earth probably—a plan of genetic manipulation and extermination.

 

Are you picturing it?

 

That’s where the story starts. Nyx and her team are bounty hunters trying to scrape a living when the Queen unexpectedly sics them on to the alien. Rhys is Nyx’s middling magician, also Chenjan to her Nasheenian. Khos is the shapeshifter and Taite is the comms man. Anneke is… well, I don’t know exactly what she is but I’m hoping to find out.

 

They set out onto a bloody and dangerous trip to a warzone in search of a foreign woman. They win some and they lose some but mostly they lose. Things and body parts. Lives too. It’s called grimdark for a reason.

 

Which is funny, because the basic plot is that of a mystery whodunnit and there’s a strong thread of a slow burn romance between Nyx and Rhys carrying the story. They’re the perfect opposites. She’s strong and godless, he’s devout and sensitive. He’s black, she’s brown, and their countries are at war with each other. The one thing that they share is a deep denial, which only makes the understated longing that much better.

 

And the world building—well, that’s the reason why I asked you to skip the first part of the book. As wonderful as this world Hurley has created is, she also wrapped it into a huge infodump and glued it in front of a well written, perfectly flowing whole book. It’s like she added the prequel novella that usually comes out between books in front of the first book of the trilogy.

 

As much as I loved that first page, the following fifty pages or so were painful to slog through. That reading experience bogs down my rating, which is why I hope to spare you from it. It was so bad I was ready to give up on Hurley, and Nyx and Rhys are the only reason I’ll go on to the second book in the trilogy.

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text 2015-02-17 16:49
Reading progress update: I've read 50 out of 320 pages.
God's War: Bel Dame Apocrypha - Kameron Hurley

I'm struggling with this one and it isn't just because I need a dictionary to read it (Islam related vocabulary). I loved the first page, but mostly I'm at a loss because... why should I care about these characters again?

 

Both Rhys and Nyx are in bad situations about to get into worse, and they have heart and sarcasm, but... something is missing. Something vitally important I've not identified successfully. Yet.

 

P.S. Because teh BL tagging system doesn't like apostrophes: it's God's War, not Gods War.

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review 2014-08-22 10:00
The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord
The Best of All Possible Worlds - Karen Lord

Rameau's note: This review was originally posted on Love in the Margins.

 

Sometimes late is better than never, right? I saw a lot of positive buzz around The Best of All Possible Worlds when it was published last year, but I didn't get around reading it until now. I was expecting more science and less romance, but I'm not complaining.

 

What would happen if nearly all the women were gone? That's the premise of this book partly based on articles written about fishers who lost their wives and families in the 2004 tsunami.

 

In a galaxy where four different but distantly related humanoid races have learned to coexist, one loses its homeworld. The Sadiri have made themselves a sort of ruling class and now have to rely to others for their survival. Their new, temporary home planet isn't enough to sustain the remains of their gender imbalanced race, and the excess of males are sent to Cygnys Beta, a frontier planet for settlers of all racers. It's a melting pot and the characters' appearances reflect that; they're all "various shades of brown".

 

Grace Delarua is a local biotechnian and a linguistic genius tasked with helping the Sadiri to adjust and preserve whatever the culture they may. This includes working closely with the Sadiri representative, Dllenahkh, and traveling around the planet visiting long forgotten Sadiri outposts.

 

While Dllenahkh is actively seeking for a wife, Delarua is the commitment phobic, with a good reason as the reader will find out—trigger warning for domestic abuse. Where he is cool and reserved, she is impulsive and giggly. Somehow they mesh.

 

It was fun watching them react to different variations of the Sadiri culture and to each other. Most refreshing part might have been to read a romance where a simple handholding became a sign of a deep devotion. Their relationship takes over a year (and three hundred pages) to develop.

 

The words "there aren't enough wives" come up repeatedly, and it's clearly a very hetero-normative set up. There isn't any mention of other genders or sexualities among the Sadiri, even though the exploration team does include a gender neutral character, Lian. Lord vaguely implies to how Sadiri families are adopted but that doesn't quite stand out in the barrage of absent wives.

 

I fell in love with the short third person voice that starts the book, so I felt a bit cheated when I found out that the rest of the story is narrated in Delarua's first person voice. I grew to like it but the writing didn't quite flow well enough to be addictive.

 

I hesitate to label The Best of All Possible Worlds as science fiction because it isn't bogged down by the technical details I've come to expect from the genre. Rather than marvelling at the advanced technology, Lord focuses on the social sciences and exploring how societies might develop together and apart, before and after a catastrophe.

 

Speculative fiction might be a more accurate description of this book, but that's not quite accurate either because it's the relationship between Delarua and Dllenahkh that holds everything together. So, it's a romance that happens in space.

 

Final Assessment: If you're looking for a slow build romance with explicit handholding on a foreign planet in the aftermath of a societal and environmental catastrophe, this is definitely a book for you. B

 

Source: Library.

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