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review 2017-07-20 00:17
"Carrots - Shelby Nichols #1" by Colleen Helme - clever enough to keep me reading but not funny enough to make me laugh
Carrots - Colleen Helme

Carrots" is an escapist adventure that seems to be aiming for Stephanie Plumb zaniness but never quite gets there.

 

The premise is intriguing: 30 something stay at home mom stops to buy carrots, witnesses a bank robbery, gets a grazing head wound from a bullet and wakes with the ability to read minds.

 

Soon she finds herself being hunted by the robber, ensnared by a mob boss, consulting with the police and hiding things from her lawyer husband.

 

The plot is original and delivers several surprises of the "how is she going to get out of THAT?" kind but I kept being distracted by the fact that our heroine seemed implausible to the point of being insulting.

 

She was obsessively insecure with her looks, her weight and her age. She would flip from resourceful to ditzy in a paragraph. She constantly made stupid impulsive decisions that put her and her family in danger, had no will power and the moral compass of seven year old

 

I can see that she's meant to be a kind of everywoman overcoming the odds but it's a fairly insulting take on everywoman.

 

This is first of a series of adventures but it will be the last one I spend time on.

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review 2017-07-07 00:31
A Plum Novel
Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves - P.G. Wodehouse

Few writers can raise a smile to the lips after just one paragraph and have me snortling by the end of the first page. But then, P.G.Wodehouse remains an exceptional talent and in Wooster & Jeeves he created a rare literary tonic. Described by the Society (UK) bearing his name as “the greatest humourist of the twentieth century”, Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (affectionately elided to ‘Plum’ by friends and family) has also retained the capacity to lift spirits into the new millennium. Clearly he was a writer of his time, replete with well-defined British social strata of the 1920's and 30's, but it is surely his ability to lampoon the elite classes and etch caricatures such as Bertie Wooster and Aunt Dahlia into the national consciousness, which is his greatest legacy.

 

In this short novel, against his better judgement, Wooster is lured to Totleigh Towers, Gloucestershire, home of Sir Watkyn Bassett, to rescue the faltering engagement of long-term friends ‘Gussie’ Fink-Nottle and the daughter of the host – Madeline. This is not entirely an altruistic act, since Bertie has every reason to believe that should the betrothal not be realized, he may be expected to step into the breach in Madeline’s marital prospects. This is consequently a matter of paramount concern to Bertie, dwarfed only by the abject horror such a turn of events would visit upon Sir Watkyn!

 

Thus, the familiar entourage is transported to the country, where ‘Gussie’, ‘Stinker’ Pinker, Roderisk Spode, ‘Stiffy’ Byng, Emerald Stoker, et al proceed to dispense the farcical social carnage, which generally accompanies their ludicrous interactions. And once again it falls to that paragon of calm, Jeeves (Bertie’s valet) to divine a course to preserve his employer’s bachelor status and simultaneously settle a whole series of potential disruptions. A wondrous spin through something akin to the Hatter’s tea party, but what a great time is to be had in this company!

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review 2017-06-22 15:40
Review: Gork, the Teenage Dragon: A novel by Gabe Hudson
Gork, the Teenage Dragon - Gabe Hudson

 

This is a DNF for me. I'm not a fan of the writing style, it's rather juvenile and reads like someone's high school English homework. The humour wears off very quickly, there are only so many times "my scaly green ass" can be found humorous or used as a descriptor. There was so much repetition throughout the book that it started to get on my nerves. At times it felt like every other sentence started with "Now, ..."

 

Not a book I would recommend.

 

 

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review 2017-06-04 17:14
Clock Zero: I'm not my social feed
Clock Zero: I'm not my social feed - Nawar Alsaadi

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

Quite an interesting story, with likeable characters—possibly a like goofy, too, but I was in the mood for that, and also, taking jabs at helpdesks/customer service? Count me in, I’ve been in that kind of jobs that for some time now, and we all need to find our fun somewhere, otherwise we’d just get bonkers.

Anyway. That was for the fun parts, enhanced with the way the narrator swipes at social media, the amount of time we spend checking Facebook and Twitter, and how it’s so easy to get lost in it. Not that I don’t like my little FB time, but I know what it feels like to turn your computer on at the end of the day and realise you’ve spent the past two hours going through clickbait crap when you could’ve been doing something else. (Like reading, and reviewing, and therefore catching up on your backlog of NetGalley books, so that you can then post your reviews on your blog and FB page and... Wait a second.)

There are less fun parts, too, closer to actual terrorism, with a plot meant to destroy cell towers, satellites, etc., through a virus uploaded on everybody’s smartphones. A revolution of sorts, to force people to look up from their phones and enjoy life again. Kind of extreme (I’m trying not to spend too much time on social media, but let’s be honest, if internet and networks in general are gone, I’m out of a job). One will like this idea or not. It’s probably a case of ‘doing the wrong things for the right reasons’. In the light of recent years and the growing amount of terrorist attacks, this commentary is not, well, enjoyable, yet one can also (unfortunately) relate to it while reading about it (my main Tube hub is closed today because of that, now let me tell you that’s one instance I was glad to hang on FB instead of being out socialising!).

Style: the writing is OK, some typos now and then (it was an ARC so hopefullyl those were corrected in the final version), and at first the narrator alluding to hashtags and emojis was a little confusing. Nothing too bad, though.

I’m torn about the twist in the end—can’t decide whether I like it, or would have preferred the story to end one chapter earlier. Still unsure as well if the book was meant to be totally satirical, and if I should get angry at it (I preferred to treat is as satire and fun, because I’m too lazy and it’s too hot outside to waste energy into such feelings).

Conclusion: Maybe not the best read you can find when it comes to taking jabs at social, yet enjoyable nonetheless.

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review 2017-05-28 15:20
“And The Rest Is History – Chronicles of St Mary’s #8” by Jodi Taylor
And the Rest is History - Jodi Taylor

There's a point in this book when Max says, "Remember when we used to have fun?" I do. The early books in this series were a lot of fun. Bad things happened. Horrible historical events were encountered. Yet eccentric, prank-playing, anarchic fun was at the centre of St. Mary's.

This hasn't been true for a while now. I don't read a new St Mary's book with the expectation on spending most of my time grinning, (although there're always a few points at which I laugh out loud. I figure that Jodi Taylor adds them so I'll know that their absence in the rest of the book is deliberate). Now, when I pick up a St. Mary's book, I know that I'm in for trauma and tears and damn but Jodi Taylor is excellent at it.

I'm attached to the staff at St. Mary's. They're nice people. Odd, slightly broken, often deeply repressed people but I like them. I want good things to happen to them, perhaps because I understand, as they do, that happiness is not what they've signed up for.

"And The Rest Is History" is the most traumatic tale yet. The events the St. Mary's historians visit are bloody, violent and described in enough detail to make you want to look away and with enough passion to keep your eyes locked on what's happening. We see battles in Saxon-soon-to-be-Norman England. We are subjected to the barbarity of the papal-sponsored "you're forgiven for whatever you do to the Heathens" sack of Constantinople by the Christian Crusader rabble in 1204.

Yet these are not the worst parts. The worst parts are what happens to the people from St Mary's. Jodi Taylor put them and me through an emotional hell and made me feel every moment of pain, despair, sorrow, guilt and grief.

Do I remember when we used to have a good time at St. Mary's? I do. And I enjoyed it. And then the series grew up and became something touched with a deep understanding of what we fear and what we love and how closely linked the two are.

This is not a book I could read in public. People would look at my face and wonder what terrible thing had happened to me to explain that wet eyes and stricken expression and all I'd be able to say was, "Jodi Taylor did this to me."

The worst part is, she did it so well, I know I'll be back for more.

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