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review 2017-08-24 03:20
A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire #3)
A Storm of Swords - George R.R. Martin

Holy amazeballs! This is easily my favorite so far. This one takes off running and never slows down. It was very hard at times to pace myself and not just tear through it because I wanted - needed - to know what was going to happen next. Martin is a master storyteller and the various narratives he's crafted in the first two books continues to build here until it reaches max capacity - and then just keeps going. And that ending

Catelyn's resurrection and paling around with the Robin Hood gang

(spoiler show)

- wow. I couldn't believe it when I heard that was left out of the show, because I can't wait to see what Martin's going to do with that. 


And how about that kill count, eh? 


Happiest death:

Joffrey, hand's down. Tywin's a close second.

(spoiler show)


Most upsetting death:

Prince Oberyn Martell, my prince of salty goodness. You were too precious for this world.


Also, Lysa Arryn. I absolutely hated her character, but what a miserable, loveless and lonely life she led. And then betrayed at the last second. 

(spoiler show)


Most predictable death:


(spoiler show)


Death worthiest of a Darwin award:

Hope you had a nice fall, Balon Greyjoy. May you make it to that pearly ship in the sky, or whatever.

(spoiler show)


Just die already:

Gregor, Littlefinger, and Roose Bolton and his little Bastard too, and all the Freys.

(spoiler show)




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review 2017-06-21 01:50
Foxglove Summer (Peter Grant/Rivers of London #5) (Audiobook)
Foxglove Summer: PC Peter Grant, Book 5 - Ben Aaronovitch,Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

Looks like this series finally got its act together! The case/mystery here was comprehensive and engaging, and the rural setting was a nice change up from the regular London beat. Also, Peter's temporary partner Dominic is a hoot! I love him and really wish he could stick around, but I'm not counting on it. 


Peter gets asked to help out on a case of two missing girls in case there's something supernaturally hinky about it, and of course there is. In addition to Dominic, we get the return of Beverly - who I honestly couldn't remember why she left, whoops - and she's great. 


Peter's also still dealing with Leslie's betrayal from the previous book, which gets no closer to being resolved. She's still with whatshisname and whatever she's doing, she knows there's no redemption for her. :( I'm theorizing she's undercover, but that's just because I like her character and don't want her permanently on the outs of the group. 


The pacing here was not quite as sedate in previous books, and actually manages to get up to a brisk jog in certain places, which for this series is practically a gallop. :D It kept me engaged, at least, which I can't necessarily say for previous books. 


Kobna is one of the few male narrators who manages to do decent female voices, and now he's doing a pretty good job at children's voices too. That's true versatility there. 

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review 2017-02-14 04:47
Voyager (Outlander #3) (Audiobook)
Voyager - Davina Porter,Diana Gabaldon

Oh, Voyager. You get so many things right, but that one little thing...


I've said numerous times over this "reread" while I've listened to the audiobooks for the first time that one of the things Gabaldon does best is write fully realized characters, even third-tier characters, and she certainly continues to do that here. Her attention to detail, her descriptions, the way she lets the characters pop out of the page give them all life. It's really amazing.


And then there's Mr. Willoughby, or make that Yi Tien Cho, a Chinese refugee stowaway who landed in Scotland and was taken in by Jamie. First, I need to acknowledge that none of these characters are perfect. Even Claire, who comes from the more contemporary 1940s-1960s, has her prejudices and she doesn't even come close to how close-minded and insular everyone else is once we get back to the 1700s. So Cho's pure hatred of the white men isn't what bothers me. No, it's that he's a walking stereotype of all the worst things you can imagine about the Chinese. Even when I was reading this for the first time in my relatively clueless late-teens, Cho made me uncomfortable. Now, I was gritting my teeth nearly every time he was on the page. It was grating. There was not one redeeming trait to him, and to make it worse, he's the only Chinese character in either of these series - in fact, the only Asian character, which makes his representation even more troubling. So I'm glad he's only in this book and none of the others. And all because Gabaldon needed a way for Jamie, with his severe seasickness, to survive the crossing of the Atlantic. Because all Chinese know acupuncture, don't you know. *sigh*


But onto the good things, mostly John Grey.

Though I may just have to reread William falling into the privy in the next book some day. That scene is golden. Willie is just a prat and totally deserving of that fate. :D

(spoiler show)

The cast for those have just gotten too huge, the focus has moved away too much from Claire and Jamie, and they just refuse to end. Plus, all the rape. What is Gabaldon's obsession with rape? And while there's no on-page in this book for a change, we still have to hear about

poor Young Ian's recount of his rape by Gellie Duncan.

(spoiler show)


Other good things: the reunion between Claire and Jamie was great, and getting to see the Murrays again, even if just briefly, was fun. Fergus is all grown up and not yet a lazy drunk. Spending so much time on the Atlantic crossing could've been dull as hell, but Gabaldon keeps the tension up wonderfully with several adventures - though I do have to say this is the point where all these characters randomly running into each other gets a bit eye roll inducing. It's one thing when they're all confined to Great Britain because that's a tiny little island (sorry, my British friends, but it is), but when they're shipwrecking onto random islands and whatnot, I think it's okay to have them run into people they don't know in any capacity. 


And I do have to say, I prefer my Loa to come in the form of a hamburger-shaped drive-thru speaker than I do a creepy possessed mentally unstable white woman. Because problematic ableist tropes aside, who doesn't want their drive-thru speaker to also give them cryptic messages about the future?

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review 2016-06-24 03:06
American Pie with Gods
American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition: Full Cast Production (Audio) - Neil Gaiman,Daniel Oreskes,Dennis Boutsikaris,Ron McLarty

The church I grew up in has this thing they do, where they claim to be the only ones who worship God the Right Way, and all other ways are bogus. Which never made any sense to me, not when I was an impressionable youth and not now. Why couldn't those who worship Allah be just as right? Or maybe the ancient Egyptians had the right of it, and everyone ever since has been wrong. Or maybe everyone was right, and all these gods exist, but they're fighting for dominance through their human subjects.


Reading - or in this case listening to - this book was like Neil Gaiman reached in my head and plucked out those ideas and gave them life - while on a road trip through America. You've got the greasy food, the kitschy dive bars, the Largest (fill in the blank) in the World tourist traps, the small towns and the big cities and the wide open roads in one beat-up P.O.S. car after another. Including a Winnebago! It's illegal to take extended road trips in America unless you're in a Winnebago. This is the truth. I promise. (It's the oil companies' fault. They lobbied Congress into passing this law after fuel economy cars became so popular. ... Okay, maybe not, but I'm sure Sam Black Crow believes this.) 


This book starts out slow, and for the first 75% of it I had no fracking clue what was going on - and my computer just decided to autocorrect "fricking" to "fracking" and I just learned that "frack" is a real word and not just something made up for BSG, which is incidentally the only thing I know about that show. And cylons? But anyway, I had no clue what was going on for the first 3/4s of this book but that hardly mattered. This is about the journey, about discovery, and eventually you arrive at the plot and it all blows your mind and everything makes sense. That's good story-telling. This is also very much a character-driven story as we slowly get to see what makes Shadow tick, and meet all these strange and wonderful side characters along the way. One of my favorite things are the "coming to America" vignettes, as we see how various different people have come here over the years, for various reasons and in various methods. 


This is the full-cast production of the tenth anniversary, and it's brilliant. All the voice actors do amazing jobs, especially the sole woman who has to do all the female voices and ends up doing more voices than anyone else because of it. This was engaging and memorizing and all the characters came to life while I was listening, and Gaiman's darkly poetic prose is done justice by the main narrator as well. Gaiman even narrates a couple of the vignettes early on, which is always a treat to hear his voice.

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review 2015-12-15 03:29
The Oracle's Queen (The Tamir Triad #3) (Audiobook)
The Oracle's Queen - Lynn Flewelling,Victor Bevine

TW: Transphobia, transmisogyny, misogyny, war/detailed descriptions of battles and aftermath of torture.


This is a satisfying conclusion to the Tamir Triad, though it does suffer from You Know How It Ends. As well written as the battle sequences are and the final showdown between Tami and Corrin, it didn't have as much tension as it might have if it really was a toss up instead of a predestined certainty. What tension there is comes from not knowing who (other than Tamir and Corrin, and possibly Iya and Arconiel) survives the battle or not. Let me tell you, I was worried about Ki! 

That dream Tamir kept having where they almost kiss but then she wakes - I was sure that was foreshadowing and Ki was totally a Dead Squire Walking. I was ready to be very upset.

(spoiler show)


I'm still not entirely sure what to make of the transgender issues brought up through Tobin/Tamir. Granted, this is a land where transgender people simply don't exist, so it's reassuring on one hand to see how easily Tamir's people accept the change. And I totally understand why it would take Ki longer to accept the change and see Tamir as Tamir and not Tobin anymore. I can even understand Tamir's frustration with the limitations and restrictions that come from being a woman, because don't those suck, and that it took her so long to feel comfortable in her new body. The only people who slander Tamir are Corrin and his people, and that's because it threatens Corrin's claim to the throne since Skala is only supposed to be ruled by queens.


On the other hand, Tamir was born as Tamir and was always supposed to be Tamir. Tobin was the "false" persona, the "wrong" gender, even though she was raised believing she was a boy for the first twelve or so years of her life. So was it Tobin who was the transgendered person, who then got replaced with the "real" gender when Tamir's body was "corrected"? It can get pretty dicey when you start thinking about it. I leave it up to trans* readers to decide if that was ultimately handled well or not. 


It was pretty great seeing Tamir come into her own, both as a young woman and as a queen. It wasn't an easy transition, and as always I appreciated Ms. Flewelling's attention to detail. A queendom under threat by enemies far and near, after years of droughts and plague was not an easy thing to take over, but Tamir proves herself up to the task, even as she wonders herself if she can do it. And getting to see the beginnings of the Third Oreska and where Reminee will eventually be built was exciting.


As for the narration, this is another great performance by the narrator, and this recording didn't have the sound issues I experienced with The Hidden Warrior. There was some slight confusion on POV during the final battle sequences though. He didn't take as long to pause between POV switches as he did during the rest of the book, I think to keep the tension and the momentum up, but that resulted is sometimes not knowing who's POV I was hearing until a few lines into it. 

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