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Search tags: multiracial-cultural
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text 2017-04-22 02:57
DNF @ 28%
Standing Alone: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam (Plus) - Asra Q. Nomani

88 pages all saying about the same thing: radical Islam hates women. Which I didn't even need to read one page to know that. There are certainly a lot of interesting things here, and I enjoyed what I learned, especially about the roots of Islam and how it's changed. The issue is that while this is technically well-written (the author is a journalist and knows her grammar), it's not very absorbing. It's repetitive, and reads like an article rather than a book. Half of these 88 pages could have been trimmed out without losing anything essential.

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review 2017-04-07 03:09
Moon Over Soho
Moon Over Soho - Ben Aaronovitch,Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

"For a terrifying moment I thought he was going to hug me, but fortunately we both remembered we were English just in time. Still, it was a close call."

 

 

I'm confused by what this series is doing with its vampires. On the one hand, they don't sparkle and that's always a good thing. Aaronvitch is definitely doing something different with them than the same-old, same-old, which is also good. But... jazz vampires? That's either really brilliant or really lame. But they're still not sparkling, so they're several points ahead of some other vampires I could name but won't. ;)

 

If you're familiar with The Dresden Files, I'd liken these vamps more to the incubus vamps in that series. It's certainly interesting, but it also sets up an rather contrived series of events that leads Grant to the whodunit and it just doesn't really get me throwing up the jazz hands, if you get my drift. It also raises some questions that I'm hoping get answered in the next book.

 

And while Peter continues to be a darling, I have to say, I can't get terribly choked up about some vampires getting dusted. (And now I'm wondering if the creators of Grimm are fans of this series. That show can certainly be described as a cross between Supernatural and Peter Grant/Rivers of London.)

 

I'm pleased to say that the narrator does a much better job here than he did with the first book. He must've gotten some coaching tips between books because none of the constant asthmatic breathing is present here. It's a very smooth narration, and despite his voice still being sexy as hell, I was actually able to concentrate on what he was saying. :D

 

This was still loads of fun, and I'm looking forward to continuing the series.

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review 2017-03-15 02:24
Midnight Riot (or, Rivers of London)
Midnight Riot - Ben Aaronovitch,Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

Oh, boy, that was fun! And funny! This is like the UK's answer to Harry Dresden - if Harry was way more mellow and his dog was a slipper with ears. Harry's dog might be named Mouse, but he ain't tiny. :) Toby still has it where it counts though.

 

Survey says: Harry kicks ass; Peter is swell bloke.

 

The world-building was pretty well-developed throughout the story, not just for the magic stuff but for London itself for us non-Londoners who don't know how London works. I imagine it's told in a politely backhanded enough way to still be amusing to those who live there though. We're told only what we need to know when we need to know it, and aren't info-dumped for no reason, yet it still manages to set things up for later books.

 

The case was interesting and certainly unexpected.

Punch and Judy is just messed up, y'all. And to think that was considered appropriate entertainment for the whole family back in the day.

(spoiler show)

Leslie looks like she's getting set up to be the Murphy of this universe, only much more mellow and less awesome. Though she could still end up being awesome later. We'll see. 

 

I'm not sure at all why the American publisher changed the name of the book from Rivers of London - since the rivers actually are pretty important - to Midnight Riot. Sure, there's a riot and it happens at night, but it's not even the climax of the book. Com'n. Did they really think we'd need the promise of a riot to get us interested? That's horrible. This isn't like trying to get kids interested in a bunch of old guys sitting around discussing the meaning of life to a bunch of rocks (BORING!) versus wizards doing cool magical stuff with stones (AWESOME!). There was just no reason to change the title, and maybe it's just me, but it also introduces an unfortunate (most likely completely unintentional) racial implication. Peter's mixed-race. There's a riot. Must be connected, yeah? Let's make it the title! Boo! Bad job, American publisher! Bad job! 

 

The narrator, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, did an okay job. He has a nice voice, all silky and rich and mmmmm...wait, what was he saying? ;) I did tend to get caught up in the sound of his voice and miss the actual words he was saying, having to go back and re-listen and mmmmm... :D The downside is that he really needs to learn how to breathe properly when he's narrating. Lots of deep inhales at pretty much every stopping or pausing point. Comma? Time to breathe. End of sentence? Time to breathe. I did listen to the sample for the next book, and he seems to have improved on this point, so I'll continue with the audios.

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review 2017-03-14 14:46
DNF@ 11%
The Underground Railroad: A Novel - Colson Whitehead

I'm just not feeling this one. I've been struggling getting into it, but the disjointed sentence structure and lack of any connection to the characters doesn't help. And apparently Whitehead decided to make the Underground Railroad an actual railroad that exists underground. Um...what?

 

These reviews explain my feelings on this book pretty well:

 

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1709610537?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1

 

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1696038487?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1

 

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review 2017-03-03 00:55
Anansi Boys
Anansi Boys - Lenny Henry,Neil Gaiman

Well, this certainly has everything that makes a Neil Gaiman book a Neil Gaiman book. There are gods, weird things happening to apparently ordinary people, and interesting enough characters. But... It's my understanding that Gaiman actually wrote this book before American Gods, and it shows, and just from the way it reads, it has to be one of his earliest works. There's none of the lyrical prose that comes in the later stories, none of the quiet irony that gives flavor to his later worlds. Oh, there's still plenty of irony, it's just the kind that clubs you over the head to make sure you noticed it there. 

 

Not being African, or even African-American, I can't say if how these gods/legends were treated were accurate or not. Anansi is a trickster, that much is clear, but I'm not sure about the others. Since this is Gaiman, I have no doubt the man did his homework and approached this with nothing but love for the material. 

 

The one thing that really rubbed me the wrong way was Rosie. There's an unfortunate bit of non-con here. Since Spider is a trickster and is used to just mind-whammying people into doing or believing whatever he wants, the earlier stuff with him and Rosie was only to be expected. I guess of all it was really to be expected but I didn't like how

Spider mind-whammying Rosie into sleeping with him, when she was so set on remaining a virgin until her marriage to Charlie, was treated in the text. This is non-con, people. Yes, Rosie slaps him when she finds out and breaks up with him and Charlie as a result, but there wasn't the level of fury there I'd expected from her. Just one slap? And then she goes on immediately to tell her mother that she's in love with Spider (due to the mind-whammy, no doubt) and even later goes on to get back together with Spider. The non-con/rape is never brought up again, and while it's good that Spider stopped mind-whammying her, it was just never really addressed to my satisfaction.

(spoiler show)

 

So yeah...I can't really recommend this one on the strength of Gaiman's later works. It was entertaining enough, to a point, and certainly interesting - though I figured out the "twist" pretty early on and thought that was drawn out a little too long. Still, if you like fantasy, and particularly mythology that's not usually covered in most Western literature, then this is certainly worth a perusal. 

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