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review 2019-03-14 16:39
Days of Future Past
A People's Future of the United States - Lizz Huerta,John Joseph Adams,Charlie Jane Anders,Victor LaValle

Wow. What a great collection. I didn't give any story less than four stars. Some stories resonated with me very much because some of them read as things that could totally happen in a year or less with the ways things are going on in the United States right now. Other stories had a very strong fantasy element (which I liked) but didn't seem as if they could happen. One of the reasons why I loved "The Handmaid's Tale" so much is that you could see a future where the United States government decided to take over women's bodies and dictate births. Settle in and read this anthology about a people's future history of the United States.

 

The introduction by Victor LaValle sets the tone for this collection. He begins by telling us about his white father, his half brother, and how his father pushed his politics on them both, not understanding or caring that both of his sons mothers were minorities. His recollection of how he felt when he realized that Hillary Clinton was not going to become President, but that Donald Trump had won. And from there into a story about Howard Zinn and his book called "A People's History of the United States."

 

"The Bookstore at the End of America" by Charlie Jane Anders (5 stars)-I loved the idea of the United States splitting off from California and how both factions (California and the United States) are caricatures of what we hear people grousing about now. California seems super liberal and the United States reads as oppressed. The owner of the bookstore called The Last Page is Molly. Molly has her daughter Phoebe and through her you get to see that Phoebe and her friends may be able to rise up and come together unlike what their parents. 

 

"Our Aim Is Not to Die" by A. Merc Rustad (5 stars)-This story follows Sua who is in a horrible version of the future where everyone is expected to conform to being hetrosexual. The government watches social media interactions and expects you to do certain things around certain dates (get married, have children, interact with friends, etc.). Sua is in a fake relationship with a man who is gay and has a close friend named Maya. Don't want to spoil too much here, but Sua ends up deciding what they can do to make things better for those who come next and the story has a hopeful tone to it in the end.

 

"The Wall" by Lizz Huerta (4 stars)-This one confused me a bit here and there. It read as more fantasy to me than the first two. I was confused about how humans were birthed in this world, Huerta mentions that some children were born with jaws and others were not and my brain went, wait what? How could they eat or breathe? And then I decided to just continue with the story. We eventually get into a wall being built to keep people out and how eventually what to is referred to as the empire starts removing people's rights. Then things get even worse when the military appears to turn against their own family members.

 

"Read After Burning" by Maria Dahvana Headley (4.5 stars)-So parts of this read as fantasy and others parts did not. The parts dealing with the government apparently restricting books and then banning them and words I could see happening. This is all after apparently bombs were dropped and people ran around "misunderstanding" each other. I loved following the protagonist in this one and them telling us about the Librarians and how people ended up having words or stories written onto their bodies. 

 

"Chapter 5: Disruption and Continuity" by Malka Older (4 stars)-This was probably my least favorite in the collection and that's mainly because it read like a text book. There is no set-up for things mentioned in this story so I found myself struggling initially through this one. 


"It Was Saturday Night, I Guess That Makes It All Right" by Sam J Miller (5 stars)-

 

Image result for prince gif

 

A world in which the government spies on you and apparently has banned certain music and homosexuality. The protagonist in this story is a young gay men who works for the privatized police forces. The protagonist still can't stop himself for looking for comfort and sex as he travels around with a supervisor named Sid where they install phone cloners. Prince comes into play here because at one point in the story apparently all of his music gets banned. More fantasy comes into play though when the protagonist does go off and have a sexual encounter and something dark seems to be happening to him.

 

 "Attachment Disorder" by Tananarive Due (5 stars)-I was a bit confused with this one when it started out, but it all comes together later. Apparently in this future, people's DNA could be stolen and children could be born from that. Apparently a plague has harmed a lot of people but the government is still out threatening people.  Our protagonist in this one is an older woman named Nayima and she's doing what she can to protect someone named Lottie. Nayima has a choice in this one and she chooses freedom. The story in this one ends on a more dark note though IMHO. 

 

"By His Bootstraps" by Ashok K. Banker (5 stars)-Three words. Genetic Time bomb. And I laughed through this whole story. I doubt anything like this could come true because the current President loathes science. But I loved a story where the MAGA President and his followers get hoisted on their own petard when they try to use a genetic time bomb to wipe out POC and instead it resets America and then the rest of the world to one in which Native Americans ended up becoming the dominant racial group in the U.S. 

 

"Riverbed" by Omar El Akkad (5 stars)-This one was sad and I loved it. We follow a woman named Dr. Khadija Singh who as a young woman is rounded up with her family when the United States started rounding up Muslims and keeping them encamped. It's apparently been some time since these events and the country has moved on again and now where she and her family were rounded up and forced to stay has been turned into a museum with some BS sculpture to memorialize what happened. Khadija returns from Canada to Billings for something that belongs to her. 

 

"Does it feel different, the driver asked, all these years later?"

"No," Khadija replied. "It feels exactly the same."

"You think the midterms will change anything? My sons says now that the Social Democrats picked up a couple more seats in the House, they can try to reinstate the healthcare act, maybe cut a deal on tax reform."

Khadija broke into laughter.

"Tax reform, Jesus Christ," she said. She set her beer on the ground.

"You know what this country is?" she said.

"This country is a man trying to describe a burning building without using the word fire."

 

"What Maya Found There" by Daniel Jose Older (4 stars)-This one had more fantasy elements. Maya Lucia Aviles is looking at a future where science is being bent to make something faster, stronger, and deadlier to humans. I thought this was just an okay story after coming after "Riverbed."

 

"The Referendum" by Lesley Nneka Arimah (5 stars)- A future that has African refugees rounded up and forced to return back to their own countries. This story provides background into the fact that more and more draconian laws are able to pass the Senate by the slimmest margin making the United States terrible for black people until a final terrible act: a referendum to repeal the 13th amendment and to reinstate slavery goes through. The protagonist in this story stays with her husband in America and works alongside her sister in law Darla, as part of a resistance group called "Black Resistance." You get her sister in law's jealously about what she didn't just leave the United States when she had the chance. I also don't know if I would have stayed based on what I read in this story either. Anyone in this present starts talking about should be re-instituted I am rounding up my immediate family and getting the hell out.  

 

"Calendar Girls" by Justina Ireland (5 stars)- We follow a young woman named Alyssa who apparently is selling contraceptives which have become banned. Also in this new world abortion has been outlawed. Ireland throws an aside out there about the legal age to marry a girl has been lowered and my whole body shuddered. This story read like a Black Mirror episode (in a good way) and I loved the twists and the ending. 

 

"The Synapse Will Free Us From Ourselves by Violet Allen (5 stars)-We follow a young man named Daniel who apparently works for something called the Synapse as an Adjustment Engineer. Daniel's job is to make his client Dante into a heterosexual. This story was chilling and I loved the twists in it. 

 

"0.1" by Gabby Rivera (4 stars)-This one was a little confusing to me definitely read as pure fantasy. A couple manages to get pregnant though no children have been able to be born for a pretty lengthy period of time. POVs change throughout.

 

"The Blindfold" by Tobias S. Buckell (5 stars)-This was great. A future in which one can buy the technology in order to be viewed as a white male during a trial.....yeah this one was so freaking apt based on current events I didn't even know what to say while I was reading it. Very very good. And I loved the twist! Another one that would make a great Black Mirror episode since technology is an important piece of this one. As well as understanding mixed races. 

 

Judges give different sentences. The data is there. Undeniable. 

But the most important question became not whether human beings were flawed but what could we do about it?

Consider this: Analyzing the prison sentences judges handed down based on how long it had been since they had something to eat shows a pattern of longer sentences given the longer it has been since they ate. 

is it fair for one person who smoked some weed to get one sentence in the morning just after breakfast and for someone close to lunch to get a longer sentence just because Judge So-and-So's blood sugar is dropping?

 

"No Algorithms In the World" by Hugh Howey (4 stars). Ehh this was okay. A world in which universal basic income is a thing and the protagonist in this one has a terrible ass father who hates how the world has changed. This may have been one of the shortest stories in the collection. I can't recall off the top of my head.

 

"Esperanto" by Jamie Ford (4 stars)-Interesting idea about what makes someone beautiful and how technology can be used to alter that idea in people.

 

"Rome" by G. Willow Wilson (4 stars)-A group of people who apparently are trying to take a test (called the Building Language Proficiency) and also worrying about how a fire may impact their ability to take this test. Some throwaway lines about how Texas is underwater and some other parts of the country have been hit with stuff that sounds like from a disaster movie. 

 

"Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death" by N. K. Jemisin (4 stars)- This was a weird one, not bad, but it involved dragons. Definitely more on the fantasy side.  This was also pretty short so I couldn't get into it that much.

 

"Good News Bad News" by Charles Yu (5 stars)-Just two words. Racist robots. And there are some other good news bad news stories we are treated to in this short story. I laughed about the news stories that involved Jeff Bezos version 3,  LLC, an incorporeal person organized under the laws of Delaware as the legal heir and cognitive descendant of the human known as Jeff Bezos. This Jeff Bezos is the CEO of AmazonGoogleFace and trying to acquire DisneyAppleSoft.  

 

"What You Sow" by Kai Cheng Thom (5 stars)-I really got a kick out of this story. We follow Yun who is a Celestial in a world that also has humans infected with something which in turn changes them into something called "Sleepless." I think this one picked up on some Greek mythology as well as Bible stories as well when you read about what a Celestial really is. I just wanted to read more about Yun after this.

 

"A History of Barbed Wire" by Daniel H. Wilson (4.5 stars)-A world in which the Cherokee Nation apparently takes over the state of Oklahoma. It appears that also something called the Sovereign Wall was built which led to many states going through some turmoil. This has caused many people to try to force their way into Cherokee Nation though there are strict rolls about who can actually be there. Though I really enjoyed this story, parts of it felt unfinished. 

 

"The Sun in Exile" by Catherynne M. Valente (4 stars)-This was a quirky story about a man forcing those who ruled over to ignore the fact that they were in fact hot and were instead cold. It reminded me a bit of someone who yells fake news all the time. At one point the sun is put on trial. 

 

"Harmony" by Seanan McGuire (5 stars)-What lies beneath a new future where apparently tolerance is the new law of the land. There is still preferential treatment for those who are heterosexual over those who are not and microaggressions still exist. We follow a lesbian couple who contemplate buying a town where they can stay along with others and define what makes a home. 

 

"Now Wait For This Week" by Alice Sola Kim (5 stars)-The story follows what happens to someone named Bonnie and we get to read how it appears that she is living the same week again and again along with others. Bonnie isn't the protagonist in this one though, the protagonist is just someone that knows her. This is a world where apparently rape, sexual harassment, abuse is rampant. There also seems to be breaking news stories about famous men doing some of the above. I think this was the author's take on the me too movement and how people felt reading the same story over and over again with the name changed. 

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text 2019-01-01 19:27
Goodbye, 18. Hello 19.
Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus - Monica Murphy,Bill Wasik
Children of Blood and Bone: The OrÏsha Legacy (Children of OrÏsha) - Tomi Adeyemi
The Book of Essie: A novel - Meghan MacLean Weir
The Astonishing Color of After - Emily X.R. Pan
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock - Imogen Hermes Gowar
Meg - Steve Alten
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender - Leslye Walton
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn
Jim Henson's The Power of the Dark Crystal Volume 3 - Phillip Kennedy Johnson,Nichole Matthews,Kelly Matthews,Simon Spurrier

2018 was a wild decade, am I right?....oh wait, it was only a year. Damn. I feel like I aged 20 years. 

 

Anyway, here's my list of top reads in 2018. 

 

Rabid

Children of Blood and Bone

The Book of Essie

The Astonishing Color of After 

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock

Meg

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

The Road to Jonestown

Power of the Dark Crystal v3

 

I didn't read as much as I would have liked this past year because of being so sick, but I am hoping to do better this go around. I have lots of ideas for monthly themes and I got the popsugar challenge.

 

Possible themes:

Star Trek September 

Ebook Beginning (to start off the year)

Memoirs May

Dinosaur December

 

I have so many books I can't even decide where to start. I will knock out my Dark Crystal book and then read Circe since it was voted the Book of the Year. Then who knows. It's all wide open.

 

 

Happy New Year from chubbygirl and co.

 

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text 2018-12-27 12:45
Char's Horror Corner: Top Ten Audiobooks of 2018!
You: A Novel - Caroline Kepnes
Hidden Bodies - Santino Fontana,Caroline Kepnes,Simon & Schuster Audio
Mystery Walk - Robert McCammon
Kill Creek - Scott Thomas,Bernard Setaro Clark
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn
The Republic of Thieves - Scott Lynch,Michael Page
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood - Trevor Noah
The Shining - Stephen King
All These Worlds - Dennis Taylor,Ray Porter
Becoming - Michelle Obama

 

 

 

Welcome to my TOP TEN AUDIOBOOKS list!

 

These are books that I listened to this year. They were not necessarily released this year. This list contains a mix of both fiction and non-fiction. 

Let's get started!

 

 

 

 

 Both YOU and HIDDEN BODIES were written by Caroline Kepnes and narrated by the absolutely terrific Santino Fontana. YOU was adapted for television by LIFETIME, and now the second season is being picked up by Netflix. I can't wait! (Click the book covers to see my reviews.)

 

 

 

  You: A Novel - Caroline Kepnes  and  Hidden Bodies - Santino Fontana,Caroline Kepnes,Simon & Schuster Audio  

 

 

MYSTERY WALK by Robert McCammon, narrated by Nick Sullivan. 

A re-read for me. This audio made me raise my original rating of the book. 

 

Mystery Walk - Robert McCammon 

 

 

KILL CREEK by Scott Thomas, narrated by Bernard Setaro Clark.

This book mad me believe that a good haunted house story is not a thing of the past.

 

Kill Creek - Scott Thomas,Bernard Setaro Clark

 

 

THE ROAD TO JONESTOWN , JIM JONES AND THE PEOPLES TEMPLE by Jeff Guinn, narrated by George Newbern. 

This was an extensive biography on the man. It was heartbreaking.

 

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

 

 

THE REPUBLIC OF THIEVES by Scott Lynch, narrated by Michael Page. The audio of this series are outstanding and since all three have the same narrator, I've come to adore them. 

 

 

The Republic of Thieves - Scott Lynch,Michael Page 

 

BORN A CRIME by Trevor Noah, narrated by the author. I thought this audio was hilarious, shocking and interesting all at once.

 

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood - Trevor Noah 

 

 

THE SHINING by Stephen King, narrated by Campbell Scott.

This was a re-read-mostly just because I wanted Campbell Scott to read it to me. 

 

The Shining - Stephen King 

 

ALL THESE WORLDS, (BOBIVERSE #3) by Dennis Taylor, narrated by Ray Porter. I loved all three of these audios, but this was my favorite.

 

All These Worlds - Dennis Taylor,Ray Porter 

 

 

BECOMING written and narrated by Michelle Obama. This was wonderfully narrated by the author and I just loved learning more about her and her life, both in and out of the White House.

 

Becoming - Michelle Obama,Michelle Obama,Penguin Books 

 

 

 

Thanks for staying with me this far if you're still here. I appreciate you!

I hope you'll join me again at the end of 2019.

 

 

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review 2018-10-30 02:34
So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo
So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo

Really I don't have any interest in talking about race. What I want is to be a better human in a way that is helpful to other human beings. Oluo is someone I follow on Twitter. Her writing is wonderfully clear and straightforward and also surprisingly kind.  But so practical! Mostly I try to avoid ever talking to anyone about anything, but this book lays out for me concrete times and places and ways to use my privilege to benefit others. Surprisingly kind because withstanding a lifetime of abuse by society should enrage everyone. Our culture is cruel and dehumanizing and grossly unfair, and some days it is all I can do not to run screaming. This is what we have made and it is awful and cruel and murderous. It is prejudiced and short sighted and stupid and it is only the astounding grace and kindness of individuals in the worst moments that make it worthwhile.

I want to make life easier and better and more just for everyone and I thank Oluo for taking the time to share her wisdom and determination and to encourage me forward in the light. Right now feels very dark, so I am grateful to all those who can show me a way forward and give me hope not just that we can do better, but that we will rise up and choose to do better. Sometimes just looking after those closest to me is all I can manage and not even do that well. But more often I can listen, and learn, and witness, and maybe, just a little more, I can speak. And remember, every day that humankind is my business.

 

Library copy

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review 2018-10-23 06:04
Plagues and Peoples by William Hardy McNeill
Plagues and Peoples - William Hardy McNeill

TITLE:  Plagues and Peoples

 

AUTHOR:  William Hardy McNeill

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  1998, first published 1976

 

FORMAT:  ebook

 

ISBN-13:  9780307773661

____________________________

DESCRIPTION:

"Upon its original publication, Plagues and Peoples was an immediate critical and popular success, offering a radically new interpretation of world history as seen through the extraordinary impact--political, demographic, ecological, and psychological--of disease on cultures. From the conquest of Mexico by smallpox as much as by the Spanish, to the bubonic plague in China, to the typhoid epidemic in Europe, the history of disease is the history of humankind. With the identification of AIDS in the early 1980s, another chapter has been added to this chronicle of events, which William McNeill explores in his new introduction to this updated editon.

Thought-provoking, well-researched, and compulsively readable, Plagues and Peoples is that rare book that is as fascinating as it is scholarly, as intriguing as it is enlightening. "A brilliantly conceptualized and challenging achievement" (Kirkus Reviews), it is essential reading, offering a new perspective on human history.
"

________________________________

This is an interesting and somewhat scholarly look at how people and diseases have interacted and evolved together over time, from "man the hunter" to "the ecological impact of medical science and organization since 1700".  McNeil examines macroparisitic and microparisitic effects on the growth of civilizations, focusing primarily on diseases and how epidemics have effected world history, the course of civilization and human evolution.

I found the sections where the author discusses the "living conditions" of diseases particularly interesting:  how a specific disease inhabited a certain enviornment, how it arrived and survived in that environment, and how those environments may have been altered by human impacts such as agricultural activities, population growth (or lack thereof), how the disease spread to other areas etc.  McNeill's comparison between human micro-parasites (bacteria, worms, viruses) and our macro-parasites (governments, armies ,raiders, plunderers) was a particularly thought-provoking and novel (to me) aspect of the book.

The book was originally published in 1976, so some details are a bit dated, but this doesn't detract from the overall thesis.  The writing style is also a bit "old-fashioned" if that sort of thing bothers you.  The author does, however, make use of historical sources that include as much of the globe as possible, so the spread between and effects of epidemics on Europe as well as of China, India, the Middle-East, the America's and Africa are discussed where possible (allowing for existing source material on these regions).

This is an interesting, fundamental and thought-provoking book about the interactions of humans and diseases and the course of human history.

 

 

 

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