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review 2017-01-09 18:13
Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writin - Jennifer Weiner
Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writin - Jennifer Weiner

I've enjoyed a couple of Weiner's books, but more than her storytelling, I really admire her activism. I lost patience with people ragging on women's writing and writing for women a couple of decades ago. And don't get me started on genre snobbery. I READ POPULAR BOOKS. And so does every highbrow apologist, because the only writings that have survived from previous centuries, let alone millennia, were POPULAR. And it is my belief that writers who worked for pay on deadline, with quick turnaround, are the best.

So I remember many of Weiner's efforts to speak out against the quiet, systemic sexism that denigrates what women do as somehow less valuable than men's. Women young through old are responsible for most of the books read and sold in the U.S., but do they get the majority of the bylines, reviews, or awards? No, they don't even get half. VIDA's got the numbers and they're appalling, as is the fact that the worst offenders do not even have to apologize, because who cares? And the most prestige, the most coverage, the most work continues to go to het white men that no one enjoys reading.

Anyway, Weiner is funiest when writing of the worst times of her life. Her family is screwed up in mostly charming ways. She is always clear that writing is a job, and for anyone interested in following her advice, she presents a refreshingly clear-eyed training plan. So that's all great. But I love the bits when she is actively fighting for justice: I hope she's proud of that work. I hope her daughters are, too.

Library copy

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review 2016-07-31 18:32
Starship Grifters by Robert Kroese
Starship Grifters - Robert Kroese

Rex Nihilo thinks he savvy and smart and no amount of evidence to the contrary will convince him otherwise. Luckily, this robot sidekick (and keeper), Sasha, is able to navigate a safe-ish path for both of them…. most of the time.

This was a very, very fun book. The humor reminds me a bit of Douglas Adams but better because nearly all of it is delivered in Sasha’s dead straight manner. She is a robot after all. This book is clever. The dialogue is witty, the characters are fleshed out, the plot is carried through. And I snicker-snort laughed my way through it. Sasha is the perfect character to deliver much of the humor in this book in that straight, matter-of-fact voice of hers.

Sasha is one of those nearly independent thinking robots. Someone somewhere at some time decided it was a bad idea to have sentient robots roaming the galaxy, so a governor was installed in them that monitors for individual and original thoughts and if any are detected, the robot is shut down for 15 seconds and a small part of its memory wiped. So, every time Sasha is on the verge of an independent thought, she shuts down for 15 seconds only to come back to it with no recall of what she was thinking or about to say. This little gimmick added to the humor of the book quite a bit.

The story starts off with a card game in which Rex unwisely bets his entire wealth, as little as it is. Then we wins some hands, and a few more, and the rich guy he’s up against starts making ludicrous bets – his ship, and then a planet he owns. Rex wins, much to the amazement of nearly everyone, just in time for a ruckus to start. Rex and Sasha flee in the newly won space ship, Flagrante Delicto. Meanwhile, Sasha who is always cogitating if not outright thinking, has discovered that Rex’s new planet is actually in arrears on some taxes. So he is now in a great amount of debt. The kind of debt that attracts bounty hunters.

But he has bigger problems that that right now (at least until Pepper Melange in her ship Bad Little Kitty shows up). As circumstances evolve, he gets sucked into the conflict between the Malarchian army and the revolutionary Revolting Front. He makes promises he can’t possibly keep to both sides. Rex is a total scoundrel and Sasha keeps him alive and sometimes makes him look competent.

There were just so many fun parts in this book. At one point, Sasha takes a pretty heavy hit to the face, which does some damage to her face plate. She and the guard start up a conversation about armor and what works best for both protecting and damaging. I swear, they were flirting! And Sasha deserves a fun date.

The ending had a surprise twist that was cleverly done. There’s definitely more going on with some of these characters! I’m really hoping for more Sasha/Rex adventures.

The Narration: Kate Rudd was perfect for this book. Since everything is told through Sasha’s eyes, Rudd maintained this polite yet just-the-facts voice for the entire book. It was perfect for delivering the humor. Of course she did character voices for whenever someone else was speaking and she kept them all quite distinct. There’s an evil villain who is described as having a screechy voice and Rudd did that one quite well – definitely a screech but not so much that it got on my nerves. I also liked her sexy voice for Pepper. 

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review 2015-09-10 18:44
The Grifters
The Grifters - Jim Thompson

Salesman Roy Dillon has a secret life as a top shelf grifter. When he has the opportunity to go legit, how will the women in his life take it? Will his downfall be at the hands of his girlfriend Moira Langtry, or his mother, Lilly?

Here we are, another noir tale of self-destruction by Mr. Happy, Jim Thompson.

"Don't trust anyone ever" seems to be the moral of The Grifters. Not surprising since most of the main characters are shady croooks and grifters to some degree. Roy runs short cons. Moira Langtry pays her way through life with her body. Lilly Dillon is mixed up with some shady gamblers. Not one of them should be left unsupervised.

Roy's a little more sympathetic than most Jim Thompson leads. He's conflicted about his grifting lifestyle and just seems tired. Not only that, he's got serious mommy issues, nicely illustrated by the resemblance between his girlfriend and his mother.

The Grifters is a slow burn and the ending is pretty spectacular, cold, violent, and more than a little creepy. I've seen similar endings written since but I don't think any of them were as effective.

This is a top shelf Jim Thompson book, belonging on the same tier as The Killer Inside Me and Pop. 1280. Four out of five stars.

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review 2015-01-12 15:19
The Beggar's Opera to which is prefixed the Musick to each Song - John Gay,Claud Lovat Fraser
The Beggar's Opera to which is prefixed the Musick to each Song - John Gay,Claud Lovat Fraser

I recall being told once upon a time that the poet John Gay was an ancestor, and I formed an intention to read something of his. And then there was a reference to The Beggar's Opera and the Three Penny Opera in something I was reading on the kindle, which made it dead easy to download a copy to satisfy my curiosity.

Meh. Satire doesn't hold up very well over time. Likely a production could be very winning, particularly if filmed by Tim Burton, but the script isn't much, nor terribly amusing. Still, good to fill in that bit of theater history, I suppose.

Personal copy

 

 

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review 2014-12-29 00:00
The Escape (Gumshoes & Grifters, #0.5)
The Escape (Gumshoes & Grifters, #0.5) - Allana Kephart,Melissa Simmons I received a free copy of the book from the authors for my honest opinion.

Claire and Carter have been bffs for many years. Claire had rather be at his house then at her own. Both of her parents worked all the time which meant that she spent a lot of time home alone and making her own dinner. So therefore she had rather be at Carter's not only for the food but the company as well. Cater's older brother Adam spent time with them too teaching them a lot of different things about being a cop over the years that her and Carter have been friends.

Claire had a boyfriend whom she has never told anyone about. She has kept him a secret because he is like ten years older than her. She is sixteen and Liam is like twenty six. At dinner one night Claire hears Adam and Mr. Emerson talking about the Cavanaugh family. Claire's secret boyfriend, Liam is a Cavanaugh. Carter's brother Adam and their dad are both police officers.

Claire was out on one of her secret dates with Liam when he got a phone call and rushed out. After hearing the conversation between Adam and Mr. Emerson she decides to follow him instead of going home. She only wants to know the truth of what is really going on. Is the conversation that Adam and Mr. Emerson were having about Liam at dinner one night true or not?

Claire sees something that she was never meant to see. She tried to slip away without being seen but she wasn't quiet that lucky. She was so scared for her own life but she was more afraid for the people she cared about and didn't want to get them killed so she left town, her parents, her bff and her life behind. She took off running for her life and trying to save the lives of the ones she cared about the most.

She left knowing that she was going to hurt a lot of people but she thought she had no choice. Her bff Carter is devastated not knowing where she is or what has happened to her. He has no idea if she is alive or dead. He doesn’t know if she has been kidnapped and being tortured or what. His bff, his heart is missing from his life and it is tearing him apart and he doesn't know what to do about it or how or where to look for her.

Claire and Carter both have these great big hearts who never want to hurt anyone and they always want to do what is right. Both of them would put both of their lives in danger and hurt their own hearts if it means that they could save someone else from harm.

Melissa and Allana have written another amazing book. They just keep getting better and better. I just love their writing style. I love and hate the way they leave you hanging at the end of The Escape. They definitely leave you wanting more and more. I can't wait for the next book in the Gumshoes & Grifters series.


Merged review:

I received a free copy of the book from the authors for my honest opinion.

Claire and Carter have been bffs for many years. Claire had rather be at his house then at her own. Both of her parents worked all the time which meant that she spent a lot of time home alone and making her own dinner. So therefore she had rather be at Carter's not only for the food but the company as well. Cater's older brother Adam spent time with them too teaching them a lot of different things about being a cop over the years that her and Carter have been friends.

Claire had a boyfriend whom she has never told anyone about. She has kept him a secret because he is like ten years older than her. She is sixteen and Liam is like twenty six. At dinner one night Claire hears Adam and Mr. Emerson talking about the Cavanaugh family. Claire's secret boyfriend, Liam is a Cavanaugh. Carter's brother Adam and their dad are both police officers.

Claire was out on one of her secret dates with Liam when he got a phone call and rushed out. After hearing the conversation between Adam and Mr. Emerson she decides to follow him instead of going home. She only wants to know the truth of what is really going on. Is the conversation that Adam and Mr. Emerson were having about Liam at dinner one night true or not?

Claire sees something that she was never meant to see. She tried to slip away without being seen but she wasn't quiet that lucky. She was so scared for her own life but she was more afraid for the people she cared about and didn't want to get them killed so she left town, her parents, her bff and her life behind. She took off running for her life and trying to save the lives of the ones she cared about the most.

She left knowing that she was going to hurt a lot of people but she thought she had no choice. Her bff Carter is devastated not knowing where she is or what has happened to her. He has no idea if she is alive or dead. He doesn’t know if she has been kidnapped and being tortured or what. His bff, his heart is missing from his life and it is tearing him apart and he doesn't know what to do about it or how or where to look for her.

Claire and Carter both have these great big hearts who never want to hurt anyone and they always want to do what is right. Both of them would put both of their lives in danger and hurt their own hearts if it means that they could save someone else from harm.

Melissa and Allana have written another amazing book. They just keep getting better and better. I just love their writing style. I love and hate the way they leave you hanging at the end of The Escape. They definitely leave you wanting more and more. I can't wait for the next book in the Gumshoes & Grifters series.
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