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review 2018-01-16 00:41
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women - Kate Moore

The first thing I did after finishing this book was text a note to my brother, a worker's comp attorney, thanking him for what he does.  The second thing I am going to do is recommend this to everyone I know.  One caveat, if you're going to read this book, you need a strong stomach.  What happened to these women is bad enough physically, and the author doesn't pretty up her descriptions.  More horrific is what was done to these women in the name of profit.

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review 2017-12-24 20:11
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue - Mackenzi Lee

This is a strange one, so I'm going to split it up.

 

Things I liked:

 

Monty's struggles of self-acceptance. He's an arrogant aristocrat, a drunkard and a rake on the surface, but there's a lot more going on and as we learn more about him, it's clear how he got to be so messed up. But he's got his best friend Percy and his sister Felicity, who are more aware of the world around them and help him see what he's always been so blind to. I did like seeing him grow up and learn new things about himself, and that it doesn't happen all at once in a giant ah-ha moment but a little at a time as the story progresses. 

 

Percy was also great. I like that the author acknowledges people of color existed, and as more than just slaves. He was born in a high-class family, but being interracial and a bastard doesn't give him much standing. He's treated as second-class, and while Monty might not treat him that way or understand why anyone else would, Percy is aware of his position in society and how tenuous it is. And that's even before the reveal

that he has epilepsy and his family wants to put him in an asylum because they're tired of dealing with his fits.

(spoiler show)

 

Felicity, Monty's sister, knows her own mind and isn't afraid to use it. She wants to study but is limited by her sex. She also helps hold a mirror up to Monty's face, but she's not there just for the benefit of the male characters. She has her own agency and makes her own decisions. 

 

As a road trip gone askew, this is a great book and not nearly as silly or whimsical as I thought it was going to be. And I like that it didn't always follow the tropes to a T, so that it kept you guessing in some places.

 

The things I didn't like:

 

As a historical book, this is somewhat lacking. There's nowhere near the level of details that I expect from a historical. Nothing is really described, like the author is expecting the reader to already know what all these places looked like back then and so doesn't have to bother setting the scene. Except for the lack of pay phones, the author could've easily placed this story in the 1960s or 1970s and not have had to change anything except some character names. The rather modernistic manners of the characters would have made a lot more sense and rang truer than they do placed in 1720-something.

 

The language is definitely too modern. Look, y'all, "abso-bloody-lutely" is annoying AF coming out of mouths from today's youth. It has no place coming out of these characters' mouths. They had their own slang in the 1700s. Use it! There were a few other modernisms like that too, and it just pulled me out of the book every single time. This is basically a historical for people who don't want to read historicals. 

 

There were a few continuity errors too. At one point, Monty has to stop to put his boot back on. I went back several pages to see where the hell he took off his boot - he didn't. At another point, Felicity is hurt rather severely and it's several scenes before she's able to properly tend to her wound. In between, there's an encounter with some rather important people who I would expect to be far more observant than they are. There's no mention at all that Felicity is attempting to hide her wound, yet it's not mentioned and neither does it seem to even bother her. What the hell happened to Lockwood?

 

Then there's Monty's dad and everyone else practically having no concern whatever that Monty's got a liking for boys. Sure, the author does bother to point out a couple of times that sodomy was a big no-no and even bothers to mention some of the punishments that could befall someone because of it. But then everyone just acts like it's no big deal. Extremely distasteful, sure, but nothing you wouldn't bring up in casual conversation during a ball. It felt like the story and the characters were making far too light of something that could get you killed. The fact this is YA doesn't justify that, and this is far too much a trend in many an M/M historical. I was disappointed to see it happen here too.

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review 2017-11-20 23:12
The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Audiobook)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman

Can a pond be an ocean?

 

This isn't the best that Gaiman's ever written, but it's still filled with his delightful prose and vivid imagination. The boy who is the POV character is more of a witness to the events around him, even while he's the unwitting reason for many of them. Leti, her mom and grandmother are as mysterious as they are fascinating. Since the boy isn't really given many answers, a lot goes unresolved or hinted at, but it's the adventure that this boy goes through that matters. 

 

Neil Gaiman narrated this and I could honestly listen to him read the telephone book, so full marks for the narration.

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review 2017-10-28 19:39
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (The Tales of Dunk and Egg, 1-3)
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: Being the Adventures of Ser Duncan the Tall, and His Squire, Egg - George R.R. Martin

I didn't know what to expect from these novellas except that they occurred around ninety years before A Game of Thrones and featured a knight named Dunk and his squire named Egg.

 

First thing: I love the illustrations! They're reminiscent of the books I read as a kid, and I wished they were in color. They fit tonally with the stories and the illustrator picks great moments to highlight.

 

The novellas were originally written for anthologies, and so spaced out over time. Reading them one after the other shows some repetition in some of the exposition, and some similarities in the tales are more obvious, but those are the only issues I had and they were minor. 

 

The stories aren't as grim or dark as the ASoIaF stories, so if you've been avoiding those because you don't want all the murder, pillaging, raping and child endangerment, these might be more your speed. Of course, this is still George R.R. Martin, so they're not fluffapalooza, but they are lighter in tone and Dunk and Egg are very sweet with each other.

 

Dunk is one of those rarities in Martin's writing: a genuinely good guy who stands by his convictions, does what's right and doesn't get horribly killed because of it. Egg is irascible and sheltered, but more than game for following Dunk around the kingdoms and proves receptive of everything Dunk has to teach him, whether it's how to care for armor, how to treat others better or how to hold his tongue. ... Ok, maybe not so much that last one. ;) 

 

There's also still plenty of politics and intrigue, as these stories occur about a decade after the Blackfyre rebellion and the realm is still feeling the aftermath of it. Dunk might not be very good at avoiding getting tangled up in events, but he's so far proving good at getting out of them. :D

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review 2017-10-18 02:13
Snuff (Discworld #39) (Audiobook) - DNF @ 24%
Snuff - Terry Pratchett

Just not feeling this one. Sybil's great but Sam is not my favorite character by a long shot, and it's just taking way too long for the actual story to begin. The sarcasm and irony is on overload too, but doesn't really have a point.

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