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review 2018-02-04 21:13
Games Wizards Play (Young Wizards #10)
Games Wizards Play (Young Wizards Series) - Diane Duane

So much of this is 4-star worthy but there are a few things that knocked off a half-star for me. 

 

For the majority of the Young Wizards series, Nita, Dairine and Kit have been running from one crisis to another, doing what they could to slow down entropy and defeat the Lone Power. But as they're growing up, they're realizing that things aren't so black and white, and that there are multiple, subtle ways for the LP to work and some of those ways are their in their own doubts, insecurities and assumptions. Kit and Nita are also still adapting to the change in their relationship now that they're officially a couple. 

 

Nita, Kit and Dairine have been asked to serve as mentors in the Wizard Invitational, an event that happens once every eleven years where young and upcoming wizards get to display their talents and wizardries in what is basically a worldwide wizard science fair. Dairine's and Nita and Kit's mentees prove challenging in their own ways. Mehrnaz is sweet and full of enthusiasm but has some deep-rooted doubts due to her family situation. Penn is an entitled, sexist assmonkey who things he's God's gift to wizardry but he also has something going on deep down.

 

It's rare in this series to see wizards who are less then professional and who aren't first and foremost concerned with saving the universe. It's actually one of the things that niggled me in the previous books. How is it possible that every single wizard in existence is so great and wonderful? Well, they're not, as it turns out. It was great to see Dairine rise to the challenge with her mentee, and she delivers some brilliant and much-earned verbal smackdowns throughout the course of this book.

 

I wish Nita and Kit had taken some notes from her, because they are not as forthcoming or direct with Penn when he's being a jerk (which, admittedly, is not a small portion of the time), and that was just one of things that made this less than 4-stars for me. Nita and Kit spend a lot of time complaining about Penn's behavior but not much time actually confronting him about it. True, it's not their job to teach him social skills or explain why misogyny is bad. If this was someone they were only working with on a one-time mission, that would be one thing, but they have to work with him for three solid weeks under some pretty intense circumstances. That's a long time to put up with his level of obnoxiousness without at least once telling him what is and is not acceptable behavior to them. When they do attempt it, it's not in a way that's going to get their point across.

 

The other thing that bugged me was that during Interim Errantry (which was written after this book) Kit and Nita seemed to be doing rather well adjusting to their budding romance and figuring out what the new boundaries are in regards to that. Here, they appear to have taken several steps back, and again, not once did they actually sit down and talk about any of it. If they were your ordinary teenagers, I might be willing to give them a pass, but they've proven more than capable of discussing plenty of dicey and awkward topics in the past. You're friends - TALK TO EACH OTHER! 

 

Still, there is plenty to adore about this book too. Duane's always been very inclusive in representation in her books, but up to now most of the gender fluidity and sexually fluidity has been reserved for alien species. Now we finally get some human characters declaring themselves LGBT and it's great. (Still no in-book confirmation on Tom and Carl though, but I still maintain they're a couple.) Nelaid, Roshaun's father and the one who has been teaching Dairine how to manipulate sun energy after Roshaun's strange disappearance at the end of Wizards At War, and her dad Harry have the most beautiful and epic bromance ever in this book and it's a treat to watch. They really have become a found-family in the most amazing of ways. (And let's face it, Harry needs all the help he can get with Dairine.)  Also, the two other Planetaries we meet here are a hoot, and Nita's prophetic dreams are getting more and more interesting. I figured out what they were trying to tell her by the second dream, but it was still neat to see her and Dairine put the pieces together in the final chapter.

ROSHAUN!!!!!!! HE'S BACK!!! <3

(spoiler show)

 

The ending got rather rushed, unfortunately, and I really wouldn't have minded seeing more time given between the semi-finals and the finals. And the climax on the moon was both epic and head-scratching. 

Penn's been carrying around a piece of the sun - that for some reason identifies as female even though its basically hydrogen atoms - and he's suddenly able to realize he's been an asshole this whole time. Okay, having a sunspot crammed inside your noggin can make you act up, I suppose. We certainly saw Ronan getting extra cranky (more than his usual) when he had Michael riding shotgun inside him. But as was pointed out, the sunspot still needed something to root onto to get those behaviors intensified, so it's not entirely giving Penn an "out" for his extremely rude behavior.

(spoiler show)

It could have been better paced, and as long as these books are there's no reason why it needed to be so truncated in the last quarter of the book when the rest of it was willing to let the story breathe and the characters drive the action. It was a jarring transition to go from this detailed meandering story to such a quick-paced conclusion. 

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review 2018-02-03 02:41
Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake #2)
Killman Creek - Rachel Caine

This book picks up a little after where the first one ends, and keeps the action going pretty well throughout. We get not just Gwen's POV in this one, but also Sam, Connor and Lanny.  While I wish their POVs had sounded more unique to their characters, it wasn't too much of a detriment. The chapters flow smoothly and it was never confusing which POV I was reading.

 

I did start finding the various twists and reveals to be over the top. The more that got piled on this whole dark net network, the less seriously I was able to take it. It reached the point of ludicrous, which I'm pretty sure wasn't the author's intention. Also, there was a serious plot hole with Connor

being slipped a cell phone that belongs to his dad. The phone is supposed to look exactly like the one that Connor's mom got him at the beginning of the first book. However, Sam gets everyone new matching smart phones at the beginning of this book because they were all supposed to ditch their old phones. So why is no one questioning why Connor still has a phone that looks like his old one?

(spoiler show)

that makes his whole storyline rather unbelievable. 

 

Still, this is probably one of the few times I wasn't yelling at characters for being TSTL because their actions and motivations actually made sense to them and their situations. So bonus points for that. Though I did find it rather convenient that they didn't question at least some of those twists and turns sooner.

 

There's been a third book announced, but I have no idea where Ms. Caine can go with this without tormenting her characters more than is actually necessary (I say while reading A Song of Ice and Fire). Also, the plot is pretty well wrapped up here, so this may just be where I leave the series. 

Maybe the letter at the end is more important than we were supposed to think at the time? But even the letter doesn't make sense, because for Melvin to have written it, he'd have to have believed there'd be a chance he would lose. And no way would he ever entertain that idea.

(spoiler show)
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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:

ROBB YOU IDIOT!

(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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