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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-10-09 06:30
Review: Our Dried Voices by Greg Hicket
Our Dried Voices - Greg Hickey

***Disclaimer*** I received a copy of this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Greg!***


This book was a delightful little read. Based on the synopsis it sounded like it would be right within my area of enjoyment and it turned out that it was. I had a few irritations with it, and there were a few struggles but I found that I did not mind those things too much because the story kept my interest well.


The book starts with a bullet pointed list of all the major accomplishments and failures of humanity in the 300-ish years leading from our present to the beginning of the story. While I found this information interesting, I would have preferred that the information was packaged in a different manner. Bullet points are not that enthralling to read. There was a short excerpt from a “history” of the same time period that we get at the end of the book and a lot of the same information was covered. It confused me why this was at the end and not the beginning. It would have been a better introduction to the story than an ending.


I also got the impression that the author struggled with his narrator a bit, which is understandable and I think anyone would have struggled with it but overall it was handled well. I could tell at times that the author really wanted Samuel to be able to describe things better but he couldn’t because he lacked the language or awareness for it at that moment. At times this led to a bit of an inconsistent narrative but not often enough that it got on my nerves.


Warning: There may be some spoilers beyond this point.


As I read other reviews for this book, I saw a lot of people wondering how humanity could get to a point of being so lazy that we experience a regression in all cognitive functioning and lose the vast majority of our language and ability to communicate. I wondered that too for a while. But then I got on social media for a few minutes and it all made sense to me. We already are practically communicating only in pictures these days with memes, GIFs, selfies and emojis. And plenty of people are so lazy that they can’t be bothered to seek out answers for themselves and instead of spending 30 seconds on Google figuring something out will instead spend an hour asking other people to do it for them. So, to me at least, I can completely see this as a future for humanity.


I really liked the series of tests that Samuel encountered trying to help his community but I also got frustrated with him at a certain point. Clearly, his efforts were going to waste. The rest of the colonists didn’t appreciate, nor even notice, his efforts to keep them content and happy so after a point I was wondering why he was still trying. This also leads me to the ending, at first I didn’t understand it. Staying with the other colony seemed like a natural step. These were people like Samuel. He could improve his own life and be with people who valued their minds, like he did. So why didn’t he?

I thought about that a lot since I finished the book last night and I think I came to a conclusion. Just like Samuel decided that he no longer wanted to waste his labor on colonists who would never progress, he equally didn’t want to waste his labor toward an effort that was directed for someone else’s benefit. He wanted to use his ingenuity, his mind, and his labor to forge his own way not just trade one master for another. In the end, I really like that message. It was an enjoyable book that I liked more than I first expected that I would.

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review 2019-10-01 21:36
Reading progress update: I've read 34%. And maybe DNF. At least long-term hold
Significant Others - Sandra Kitt

Disclosure:  I acquired the Open Road Integrated Media Kindle edition of this book when it was offered free on Amazon.  I do not know the author nor have I ever had any communication with her about this book or any other matter.  I am an author of historical romance, contemporary gothic romance, and assorted non-fiction.


Originally published in 1996, this purports to be a contemporary romance novel.  I'm just not finding much romance in it.


Patricia Gilbert is a high school counselor in a Brooklyn public school.  Morgan Braxton is owner and CEO of what I think is something like a vulture capital company, but I'm not sure.  He has a fuck buddy Beverly who I think is a lawyer.  Kent Braxton is his son, age 15, and a student at the school where Patricia works.  Up until recently Kent has been living in Colorado Springs with his mother, who is divorced from his father.  Kent is having some problems in school. 


At 34%, there's no romance between Patricia and Morgan.  Everything is about Kent, his relationship with his father (not very good), his problems in school (academic as well as social), and so on.  There's been much more emphasis on Morgan's sex life with Beverly and his business issues than any interaction between Morgan and Patricia.  They don't even seem to be aware of each other.


The book is well written, but not quite what I'd call polished.  It feels a little rough around the edges in terms of style.  Certain glimmers of brilliance shine through, however: the minor characters of Jerome, Patricia's fellow counselor, and Morgan's secretary are great.  I wish the characterizations of Morgan and Patricia were as wonderful.


Another strong point is the depiction of Kent's difficulties fitting into the urban school environment.  As the child of a white mother and black father, he has major issues, especially with his black schoolmates.  Author Kitt doesn't shy away from this, doesn't pretty-up the language or the rough reality.  I feel more attachment to Kent because I think of romance novels as dealing primarily with emotion, and so far, all the emotion in this book has been depicted through Kent: his loneliness, his bitterness, his anger, his pain.


The book is also almost 25 years old. 


It's not a bad book; it just lacks the passion I look for in a romance novel.

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review 2019-09-26 20:42
Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
Pashmina - Nidhi Chanani

Date Published: October 3, 2017

Format: Print

Source: Library

Date Read: September 17, 2019



Priyanka Das has so many unanswered questions: Why did her mother abandon her home in India years ago? What was it like there? And most importantly, who is her father, and why did her mom leave him behind? But Pri's mom avoids these questions--the topic of India is permanently closed.

For Pri, her mother's homeland can only exist in her imagination. That is, until she find a mysterious pashmina tucked away in a forgotten suitcase. When she wraps herself in it, she is transported to a place more vivid and colorful than any guidebook or Bollywood film. But is this the real India? And what is that shadow lurking in the background? To learn the truth, Pri must travel farther than she's ever dared and find the family she never knew.




Browsing my library's graphic novel section, I came upon this book and the cover was too cute to pass up. I read it while daughter was at dance class and son was at soccer practice and finished it before bedtime routines, so it is a short but great story. 


Pri is 15 and has a loving if at times frustrating relationship with her mother, an immigrant from India. Pri wants to know who and where she comes home apart from her American-ness. A special shawl hidden in a suitcase is discovered by Pri, who puts it on and is transported to a (for lack of a better description) "tourist brochure" version of India except for this shadow following her. A chance opportunity to visit India and her mother's family gives Pri the answers she was looking for and then some. This real world visit isn't as clean and colorful as the trips via the shawl, but Pri gets a much more wider understanding of her heritage and doesn't feel knowing the grimier parts lessens her desire to know more. The different color schemes really help give each setting and time in Pri's journey in knowing her heritage. The magical realism and the shadow/ghost made it perfect reading for Halloween Bingo.

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text 2019-09-13 21:54
I'm feeling uncomfortable

My non-fiction reading is fairly broad, but when it comes to fiction -- and especially romance -- I've not been as diligent about diversity.


I'm therefore making a concerted effort to read more diverse romance stories.  I won't necessarily review them all, because I'm not sure I'm qualified to.  At least not yet.


The one I started a few nights ago is bothering me.  The writing is fine.  The author is prolific and has good reviews. 


I am just completely turned off by the male main character.  He's 17, walks around with a handful of condoms in his pocket, brags about how much he likes sex, refers to his teen-aged girlfriend as his "fuck buddy."  He sets his sexual sights on a 24-year-old woman.


For her part, she doesn't brush him off.  He's physically attractive, so she lets him proceed with his attempted conquest.


I'm not very far into the book but I'm already uncomfortable.  Not because she's older than he is, but because one of them is a minor and the other one doesn't seem to take that into consideration, and because one of them seems to see sexual partners as . . . disposable.


I'm not sure I can set this aside enough to continue reading.  Maybe this author can pull it off over the course of the story, or maybe I should try another of her books.  But this so far as given me a really negative feeling.



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review 2019-09-10 20:34
Dead Voices, Small Spaces #2 by Katherine Arden
Dead Voices - Katherine Arden


Supernatural Square: Three friends find themselves snowed-in at a haunted ski lodge armed only with a Ouija board and a book of matches.


Ollie, Coco and Brian have tried to put what happened in the land beyond the mists behind them. When a free trip for five is won to a soon-to-be-open ski mountain it seems like a great opportunity to have fun and get away from reminders of the past.


A blizzard is hitting the Vermont mountains especially hard and the expected 8" overnight, heavy enough, becomes a big enough storm to prevent the other guests from arriving at Mount Hemlock, and traps them in the building without no power and only a single fireplace.


No one but Coco sees the man in the road warning them away from the lodge. When the car is stopped, he's disappeared. The taxidermy collection in the lobby seems to keep shifting positions on their wall-mounts and pedestals. The lodge itself has a dark past as an orphanage run by the stern 'Mother Hemlock' and not all the girls made it through the cold winters.


Snowbound, the trio, two parents, the lodge owners and a paranormal journalist, have to confront the ghosts in the dark halls armed only with a Ouija board, a book of matches, and a talent for chess. Ollie's wristwatch, through which her dead mother communicates to her, tells her to beware....


This was another good middle grade horror by Katherine Arden. In many ways this is Coco's book, as it showcases her talent for chess and logic, her mediating role and provides some outside perspective on Ollie's relationship with her dad.


The story skates on the edge of being too simple, but the puzzle was a good one, and the internal logic of the story and the world of 'Small Spaces' is respected. The characters are continuing to grow and with some unanswered questions, I see a lot of room for more sequels down the line.


Small Spaces


Previous: 'Small Spaces'

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