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review 2018-08-18 16:38
The examination of others that leads to the self
Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is another title from the list of 100 books compiled for the Great American Read. (Have you voted today?) I feel somewhat chagrined that I had never heard of this classic until I checked out this list. The reader follows a nameless narrator who tells the story of his days in college while living in the South to his move to New York City. As this is set in 1930-40 the racial/social divide is still quite stark even in the North and the author doesn't pull any punches in that regard (i.e. expect violence). The beginning starts out with our narrator underground and in hiding although we have no idea why. In explanation, he weaves a story full of brutality, bigotry, backstabbing, and political machinations. He leaves college and goes to NYC where he is recruited into the Brotherhood which purports to strive for equality among all men regardless of race. Events unfold quickly and he fully believes and embraces the cause. The fomenting of racial riots are underway in Harlem (his district) and at this pivotal moment he is pulled out of his district and sent on another assignment downtown. The reader is kept on their toes and always wondering (as the narrator is) just which side is the "right" side and what is truly motivating the men he has come to trust in this (to him) foreign city. What is the "true" self and how does one embrace it? Invisible Man chews this question over while telling a story of one man coming to terms with the racism (both overt and covert) of society which is told so convincingly that you'll forget it's a work of fiction at times. This is a dense book and took me far longer to read than I expected. Several interesting points were made and quite a few powerful passages but overall it doesn't rate higher than a 6/10 for me.

 

A compelling and thought provoking point:

"For history records the patterns of men's lives, they say: Who slept with whom and with what results; who fought and who won and who lived to lie about it afterwards. ...only those events that the recorder regards as important that are put down, these lies his keepers keep their power by." - pg 439

 

There are quite a few covers but I like this one best.[Source: National Book Foundation]

 

 

What's Up Next: Comics Squad: Recess! by Jennifer L. Holm, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Dan Santat, & Raina Telgemeier

 

What I'm Currently Reading: ???

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-07-29 21:45
Racing on the thunder and rising with the heat...
Beneath This Mask - Victoria Sue,Nick J. Russo

It's gonna take a superman to sweep me off my feet...I need a hero...

 

"Beneath the Mask" is the third book in Victoria Sue's 'Enhanced' series and while we met the whole team in the first and second books this third installment takes the focus away from Talon and Finn to give us a look at enhanced team member Gael Peterson and his human partner Jake, bur that doesn't mean that readers should skip the first two books...trust me you really don't want to do that because both of these characters are introduced in the the first two books in this series along with the other members of the H.E.R.O. team.

 

Things aren't going to be easy for Gael and Jake and when they get thrown together I'm pretty sure that neither man would have anticipated they'd ever manage to be working partners much less have anything more personal between them.

 

As the team gets drawn into an investigation involving the deaths of enhanced humans and the evidence points to a child who may be an enhanced it doesn't mean he's not also vulnerable and Gael becomes determined to champion the young child...determined that he's not only innocent but in danger as well. What Gael doesn't count on is the fact that the real murderer has their sights set on Gael and the person that Gael trust the least it the person that he may need the most.

 

Gael's got a less than happy past but that hasn't kept him from becoming a compassionate and gentle soul who absolutely melted my heart. While Jake won me over with his determination and loyalty to the members of H.E.R.O. and in particular to Gael in spite of Gael's rather prickly nature towards him.

 

Jake knows that as a former member of the Police ENu (ENhanced unit) and a past that he'd rather not have people find out about, Jake's not expecting to have an easy time of things and he's both willing and determined to make things work as a regular member of the H.E.R.O. team.

 

I loved the mystery/thriller/adventure aspect of this story and while I had my suspicions as to 'who done it', it wasn't until towards the end that things were confirmed for me and the ending...wow! just wow! the ending of this story was a nail bitter and I don't bite my nails! 

 

I loved the glimpses we got of Talon, Finn and the other team members and can't wait to find out who's story is next and if it was more Gael and Jake, I can honestly say that won't upset me in the slightest. This pairing was superb. I'm not even sure when it happened but Gael and Jake ever so smoothly slid from being interesting and likable to a pairing that I want more of because for me they just worked. I think it was the fact that initially they just didn't click and it took time for them to find that connection, especially for Gael but when it happened it worked for me and I was all in.

 

The icing on the 'enhanced' cake for me was the narrator...Nick J. Russo. I adore his audiobooks and without fail his narration works. He's on of my very short list of narrators whom I don't need to check out the audio sample before getting a book I just need to decide if it's a book that I want to listen to. Although this book was pretty much a no brainer...a series that I love, a narrator who's at the top of my list...so how could I loose? I couldn't...see...no brainer and very much recommended.

 

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An audio book of 'Beneath This Mask' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-07-10 20:44
Lots of fun
Quidditch Through the Ages - J.K. Rowling

Madam Pince, our librarian, tells me that it is “pawed about, dribbled on, and generally maltreated” nearly every day – a high compliment for any book.

 

Dumbledore's introduction set the tone.

 

I liked this one A LOT better than Strange Beasts (caveat: my digital copy didn't have the margin notes, so it lost the meta gold extra). Anyway, Bestiaries are good for curiosity, but this one was just plain entertaining. The tong in cheek tone was great, and the amount of laughters it pulled from me with the shenanigans involved in the rules creations, and the fouls mentions can't be counted. I mean:

 

The full list of these fouls, however, has never been made available to the wizarding public. It is the Department’s view that witches and wizards who see the list “might get ideas.”

 

Refereeing a Quidditch match was once a task for only the bravest witches and wizards. Zacharias Mumps tells us that a Norfolk referee called Cyprian Youdle died during a friendly match between local wizards in 1357. The originator of the curse was never caught but is believed to have been a member of the crowd.

 

That last is naturally taking "cursing the referee" to it's expected literal end, and those are just fast examples.

 

I got the edition with the History of the World Qudditch Cup and the the 2014 articles, which was just the cherry on top. Aaand also very fitting in timing *grin*

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review 2018-06-05 02:08
And this time the journey is being made on the ocean...
All the Way to Shore - C. Jane Elliott,Tim McKiernan

That's right I'm still traveling and so are the MCs in my audiobooks...

 

This time I'm going on a cruise with Jonathan Vallen and Marco Pellegrini as each man attempts to get a break from the life they lead and maybe find a little romance along the way only to discover that the love and romance they were looking for was right there in their life all along if they were brave enough to reach out and grab it...sometime you don't need to look any further than your own back yard to find what you want.

 

Jonathan gave up what he truly wanted from life when he thought that it would earn him the approval of the one person who he was certain he could never please...his father. When Jonathan's father told him it was time to step up and learn how to run the family business...Jonathan did it without hesitation...his father needed him of course he wouldn't let him down. Unfortunately life just isn't that simple and when Jonathan's father brings in Marco Pellegrini to 'train' Jonathan...well, that's when Jonathan decides to exit, stage right. Clearing the way for Marco to turn things around at Vallen Industries. While Jonathan does the same with his personal life. 

 

It's one year later and neither man is fully satisfied with where his life has gone so Jonathan grabs his good friend and cousin Anthony and heads out for the Caribbean on an LGBTQ cruise not knowing that one Marco Pellegrini and his sister are about to do the same. Jonathan's changed so much in the past year that Marco literally doesn't recognize him, but that doesn't stop him from liking and wanting the man he sees either and a shipboard romance begins. 

 

I really enjoyed how Jonathan and Marco's relationship developed. They spent time together actually doing things...that didn't involve begin naked...not that this didn't happen, but the relationship between these two was built slowly with time and while Jonathan was the driving voice behind events as they happened we got to know Marco through his journal entries making for a slightly unusual reading/listening experience but definitely one that I enjoyed. 

 

Jonathan and Marco made for a really adorable couple and while the disagreement that saw them separated for part of the book was inevitable I liked the resolute that brought them back together it was sweet...the kind of sweet that leaves you smiling and sighing in happiness. So overall this was  fun story to listen to and surprisingly this was my first CJane Elliott story and my first time listening to a book narrated by Tim McKiernan but I'm pretty sure it's not going to be my last time for this author or this narrator. Together they gave me a really enjoyable listening experience and I'm looking forward to finding out what more they have to offer both separately and as an author/narrator pairing in the future.

 

The icing on the cake for this one aside from a pair of well matched MCs were the supporting characters...Jonathan's cousin, Anthony was adorable and I really liked him. He was a good and loyal friend to Jonathan and honestly, I'd be more than happy to read a book or even a story about him getting how own HEA and then there was Marco's sister Sophia...I don't read much outside of the m/m realm these days but i think for Sophia, I could be persuaded to make an exception and Jonathan's father...well, every story needs a villain, right? The guy as a total and absolute douche and he just didn't deserve to have Jonathan for a son...that's all.

 

'All the Way to Shore' is the first book in this authors series 'Stories from the Shore' and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what comes next..so sign me up for the cruise...anyone care to join me?

 

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An audio book of 'All the Way to Shore' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-04-07 22:26
Excuse me while I gush a little over this one...
Taking the Long Way - Max MacGowan

I've been very fortunate since realizing that contrary to my original thoughts I really enjoy audio books. I've listened to some awesome stories...some because the narrator was incredibly good...like Greg Tremblay or Nick J. Russo, just to name a couple or because the author has written an amazing story. Authors like T.J. Klune, Megan Derr or Mary Calmes writing books such as 'A Destiny of Dragons', 'The High King's Golden Tongue or 'Acrobat' again, just to name a few...or stories like this one by both an author and a narrator who are new to me.

 

Rye's a rent boy, paid companion, male escort...pick your term bottom line (no pun intended) he makes his living selling himself. Sometimes we do things out of necessity whether we like it or not really isn't the issue...for Rye is survival...it's all he knows.

 

Marcus is a functionally blind army vet given the opportunity to see a doctor who may be able to help him...but that doctor's on the other side of the country and flying is not an option for Marcus because of his injury and driving...well, did I mention functionally blind. Marcus wants this and who can blame him maybe he can recover at least some of his eyesight but getting there seems like the impossible dream until Rye and circumstances come together to make this a trip that could save them both.

 

So we've got a male escort, a wounded military vet and they're making a road trip add in some interesting and colorful secondary characters not to mention a couple of awesome dogs and back-up all of this with a narrator whose voice totally blew me away. I've come across narrators who have seemed more than a little amazing to me...narrators like Greg Tremblay, Nick J. Russo, Michael Ferraiuolo, Sean Crisden...there really are a lot of good narrators out there and several really exceptional ones...I think if future endeavors prove to be as well done as this one was that Matt Milne will fall into the latter category of being exceptional for me.

 

Throughout this book it wasn't like having someone read me a story or sitting down with a friend...no, it was better it was like having Marcus and Rye right there leaning over my shoulder whispering to me as they shared their story with me...now, this may sound scary to some but trust me at times this was really, really hella' hot...like cold shower, fanning my face hot...and sometimes that had nothing to do with the sex...I'ma just sayin'...listening to the story of how these two met and came to care about themselves and to mean so much to each other was simply delicious...I just don't have another word for it.

 

I honestly can't even begin to explain how much I loved the sound of their voices...both of them just absolutely totally did it for me but especially Rye. There were times that his voice had this slow, sexy, sultry tone that simply melted me the man could have asked me for the keys to Fort Knox and if I had them in my possession I would have gift wrapped them for him.

 

So simply put Matt Milne is totally on my radar as an audio narrator and while there currently only seems to be 4 books to this narrator's credit, I will definitely be on the lookout for more.

 

Truthfully, if I had to make one criticism about the narration I guess I'd have to say it was the fact that while the book is set in the United States both of the MCs have a slight British tone to their voices...and you know what, I didn't care. I admit there are times when this is enough to make me want to throw my laptop out the window...not this time...I simply didn't care. I just wanted to keep listening to Rye and Marcus talk...so, there you go, if accents are a big issue for you this might not be the book for you...but just to be sure you should head on over to Amazon or audible and check out the sound clip before making your choice...you might find that you don't care either and if you do than, you've saved yourself some time and money...either way it's all good.

 

Ok, now that I've gushed a bit about how much I loved the narration of this book let's move back to the actual story. As far as Rye being a 'male escort' I'm honestly neither here nor there in terms of this. For Rye being a male escort as I said was a life choice...he wanted to stay alive and the only way to do this was to be able to provide for himself...so, truthfully who am I to criticize? Sure I can say things like 'well, I'm sure there were other things that he could have done? there had to be another way?' but just like in the real world we can't know the hows and whys of someone's life if we haven't lived it. So to me Rye did what he had to in order to keep himself alive and I can absolutely respect that and to by honest I really liked Rye. I like his caring and his compassion, his snark and the fact that even though he maybe should have been one of the most cynical people out there given the hand that life dealt him he wasn't.

 

Then there's Marcus...again he should have been someone other than who he was considering his circumstances but for all of his bluff and bluster, he was a good and caring person...Marcus truly had a good heart and I loved his determination to remain so fiercely independent. I couldn't imagine going out into a world that I could no longer really see. I'm pretty sure I'd be hiding in a corner somewhere.

 

I loved the road trip setting for this one. I am totally a fan of road trip stories and the connection between Rye and Marcus for me was perfect. It wasn't a love at first sight for them it started with simply liking and being comfortable with each other and the banter between these two was filled with snarky humor and often enough honesty to have one or both of them feeling uncomfortable. 

 

'Taking the Long Way' was a story about more than just one journey. Yes, there was the obvious trip across country for Marcus to get to his doctor's appointment but there was also a journey made by each of these men to find themselves...a journey that they needed to make in order to make that final journey that would allow them to find their way back to each other. 

 

I loved this story and yes, it may have some flaws in it but ultimately I connected with it on a level that left me feeling like I'd gone on a bit of a road trip as well, as I traveled along with Rye and Marcus on their cross country journey. 

 

I'm looking forward to more from both this author and the narrator of what is  very probably going to be one of my favorite audio books EVAH!!!

 

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An audio book of 'Take the Long Way' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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