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review 2018-06-24 19:45
Reeve of Veils (Inheritance #4)
Reeve of Veils (Inheritance) (Volume 4) - Amelia Faulkner

Hmmm, not sure what to make of this one. 

 

First, this goes back to Knight of Flames timeline and gives us Freddy's POV, so there's a lot that's repeated. Pretty much the first and last quarter of the book, in fact, and I ended up skimming the bulk of those parts, looking only for new details. About the only new thing we learn during those parts is that Freddy's a bigger jerk than I originally thought he was. We get confirmation of his powers, which are more extensive than hinted at prior to this.

 

As for the new stuff in the middle, well... Freddy's a jerk and I prefer not to read POVs of jerks. Mikey's somewhat better, but he's been a victim for so long that he (and Freddy) actually deludes himself into believing he's left that behind even as he willingly becomes Freddy's literal plaything. Which brings me to the second thing.

 

Second, there's just no way to see Freddy and Mikey's relationship as anything other than D/s, which is a dynamic I don't enjoy. Just because Freddy thinks he's doing good by Mikey and Mikey's getting out of the ghetto doesn't erase that. Freddy might want to see themselves as equals for whatever reasons he needs to, but they're really not.

 

Plus, Freddy's just not that good of a guy. He's not a complete bastard, but he's barely one sidestep away from Kane - and even that's only until he succeeds in his plan to off dear old daddy, which I assume is the next book, and then he will be exactly like Kane. (Actually, I'd argue that he's worse than Kane, since at least Kane's victims know they're victims. Freddy's don't.) Morals and ethics mean nothing to this guy. Or to Mikey. So I guess they are perfect for each other in that respect, but they're certainly not a couple I'm rooting for or care about, and the insta-love here is just completely unbelievable given that Freddy's practically a sociopath.

 

Ok, I give Freddy credit for not violating Mikey's sexual consent (or so he claims). But since he violates consent in every single other respect with everyone around him, that credit doesn't get him very far. It gets him a crumb. A crumb ground into dust.

 

The good news is you don't actually have to read this book. The last two books made it perfectly plain that Freddy's manipulating Laurence and how, and that he's trying to line up Quentin to kill their dad. So this book ends at pretty much the same point as the previous book, just with a bit more info than we had before. 

 

Two more little nitpicks:

 

Mikey's a drug dealer and a high school dropout who's never been outside San Diego. He's not going to measure distances by kilometers. This same thing happened with Laurence in the last book. We use feet and miles in the USA. There are various conversion charts and calculators available online. This sort of error shouldn't happen, and it pulled me out of the story both times.

 

And lastly, mailbox flags work the exact opposite of how they're used here. When you have outgoing mail, you raise the flag. When the mailman comes, he lowers the flag and leaves the incoming mail. If the flag is up, that means the mail hasn't been delivered yet, not that it has been.

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review 2018-06-13 04:06
Drums of Autumn (Outlander #4) (Audiobook)
Drums of Autumn - Geraldine James,Diana Gabaldon

As I mentioned in my review for Outlander, I started this series with the fourth book by accident. I was just out of high school, my mom was having health issues and I was the one who was driving her around to her various appointments and spending a lot of time in waiting rooms. So when I saw this book sitting on the new releases shelf in the bookstore, the only thing I cared about what that it looked interesting and it was thick. It would give me hours and hours and hours of reading time. So I got it, started reading, and got to around a quarter of the way through when I realized this was part of an ongoing series. I kept reading though and enjoyed it. It provided exactly what I needed at the time and even got me to go back and read the first three books.

 

Now, twenty plus years later ... this got annoying. It starts off really slow and rambling. All the books in this series ramble, but it gets worse the longer the series goes on. The first three books at least have obvious plots right off the bat. This one takes over 500 pages to get around to it's main conflict, and up till then it's basically just the four main characters doing stuff. I still really enjoy Claire and Jamie's relationship, but I couldn't give two figs about Briana and Roger's courtship, especially when Roger gets all caveman about it. 

 

I was never a fan of Briana, but wow. For someone so smart, she can be really stupid. Roger's kind of a jerk but he's tolerable. Neither one is prepared for 18th century living, despite both of them being history majors. They not only lie to each other about crucial things, but they make one reckless decision after another. How in the world they survived is beyond me. 

 

Actually, the main conflict isn't exactly what I would call contrived. Considering what Bree's been through and that she just barely met her father, her decisions make sense, even if they're illogical. Given what Lizzy thinks she knows, and what she tells Ian and Jamie, their actions also make sense. What doesn't make sense is

Claire not telling Jamie what Briana told her. She could've done that and kept Bonnet's name out of it.

Also, if you're looking for someone, a physical description usually helps.

Also, both Claire and Briana went by different last names when they went through the stones, so it makes zero sense they wouldn't consider Roger doing the same.

Also, Jamie would've killed Roger based on the info Lizzy told him. But of course he couldn't because the reader - and Bree - wouldn't be able to forgive him if he had.

(spoiler show)

The Big Misunderstanding required these characters who are usually extremely good with communication to be really bad at it.  

 

And it's just a little ridiculous that these characters are all encountering the same villain no matter where they are in the world. 

 

But once I got through all that nonsense and the characters all started to act like their intelligent, rational selves again, it got way better. The last third of the book is definitely the strongest.

 

Not enough Lord John though. 

I hate that he sleeps with one of the slaves. It's not on page, but it's implied. I guess I can have a smidgeon of consolation that John wouldn't have forced himself on anyone unwilling, and he's a pretty perceptive fellow, so he could probably tell if someone was just pretending to be willing. But still. Don't sleep with slaves, John.

(spoiler show)

 

Edit: Oh, and I forgot to mention the narration. Davina Porter does her usual stellar job, but she doesn't even attempt an American accent for Briana. I guess she's the UK's answer to Kevin Costner. ;) But since I'd rather listen to a pleasant British accent than a terrible American (much less Bostonian) one, I wasn't bothered by it too much.

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review 2017-12-27 04:47
Man & Beast (The Savage Land #1)
Man & Beast (The Savage Land Book 1) - Michael Jensen

CW: One scene of attempted rape; discussion of rape, assault and atrocities done to Native Americans; and lots and lots of racists dirtbags. This is the frontier, y'all, and the author doesn't shy away from how icky a lot of these people were.

 

This was unexpected, and in this case that's a good thing. You do need to check your disbelief at the door on this one, at least for the climax. It was a Monty Python case of horrors, that's for sure.

I'm surprised no one yelled, "Why won't you DIE?!" at any point. ;-)

(spoiler show)

The emphasis is on horror because right away you know things just aren't quite right, and by the end you've got a Most Dangerous Game situation that'll keep you flipping the pages.

 

What I really liked about this is that it wasn't your typical M/M novel. I would even go so far as to say this isn't a romance, though there is a love story of sorts and an HFN. But this didn't follow the standard formula that has, let's be honest, become somewhat stale. And after The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, it was nice getting an historical where the characters sound like they're in an historical. It still could've used a bit more detail than what we got, but again, still much better than Gentleman's. 

 

John's struggle to learn to speak up and act on his own behalf and those he cares about was a nice journey to watch, even though it was painful at times. He starts off as a man who just runs from everything and has to figure out through many trials what's worth standing up for. He makes a lot of bad decisions and indecisions along the way but I was never frustrated with him. It was obvious why he acted the way he did, not least because he was trying to save his own hide if people found out he's a sodomite. 

 

Gwennie, Thomas and Palmer are all great supporting characters, and even Samantha gets a point or two in her favor. The ending was a bit abrupt and the epilogue doesn't really wrap up the loose ends. Since the next book is centered around another main character, I'm not sure if we'll see these characters again or not. Hopefully we do because there is certainly more to see with these guys. 

 

For this being self-published, it was surprisingly light on typos. There were a few more near the end than throughout the rest of the book, but it's still much cleaner than most self-published books out there. The story is in first-person, if that's something that concerns you, but John has an easy and approachable POV, so the writing flows rather well. 

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review 2017-06-02 23:04
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium #1) (Audiobook)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

This is a tricky one, since there are two different plots going on here, as well as all the background set up on the protags. Plot 1 with the financial scandals going on in Sweden was of little interest to me. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) it bookended the book, so it was slow to start and then the ending just kind of dragged on way past where it should have ended. Plot 2 concerns a missing niece and a 30-year old mystery of what happened to her. That part took up the bulk of the book and was easily the best part. It gets a little melodramatic,

because why stop at serial killings when you can add incest and child molestation,

(spoiler show)

 but overall was well-done. The only thing I didn't care much about it was that even this was shuffled around the various personal happenings in Blomkvist's love life and professional life, and there wasn't much opportunity for the reader to try to figure things out separate from the characters in the book (though I had no doubt who the perp was after a certain point, then I was hanging around waiting for the characters to put the hows and whys together).

 

I did like Lisbeth Salander. She's awesome and you do NOT want to mess with her. :D

 

The narrator, Simon Vance, was easy to follow along with and had a good range of voices for the various characters. 

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

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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