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review 2017-01-07 03:06
Wild Magic
Wild Magic - Tamora Pierce

I had a long car-ride with my younger son over the winter holidays and was looking for something for us to listen to while I drove.  I'd liked how the Full-Cast Audio recordings had worked for the stories that Tamora Pierce had written to be released on audiobook first, so jumped at the chance to reread Wild Magic.

 

Using a different actor for each character works wonderfully during Wild Magic and I highly recommend the audiobook experience.

 

 

 

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review 2016-05-17 21:01
Secret Daughter Becomes Secret Wife
The Secret Wife (Presents) - Lynne Graham

This is one of the older Lynne Grahams that I read many moons ago, but I didn't remember most of it. It was a good reread. The hero in this was a jerk. I think Rosalie was nicer to him than he deserved, but she wasn't a pushover. He always managed to see her in the worst light, if not an avaricious femme fatale, than a spineless tart. I felt that he really did need to earn Rosalie's love. I like that he was so jealous of her roommate and friend, who was by all accounts, a beefcake. By the end, he was remorseful, but still a bit too high on the horse for my tastes. I like that his adopted mom guessed right away what was going on. That was pretty funny, considering all the changes they went through to hide the truth from her. Constantine would never be a favorite LG hero for me, but I really did enjoy Rosalie and I like that she held her own with him, or somewhat.

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review 2016-03-20 03:48
Love Tames the Beast
Lover Eternal - J.R. Ward

This definitely gets five stars this time around. JR Ward wrote her own version of beauty and the beast but with some important changes. The beauty is the beast and the heroine is a 'Plain Jane' in her own eyes. I loved how hard Rhage fell for Mary. He heard her voice and dropped like a ton of bricks. His steadfast love for her throughout this book was so appealing. Mary didn't want to believe that she could have a man who loved her that way, not with all the loss in her past, and the loss sure to come. She didn't know how to live in the day. Rhage had learned the hard way to temper himself and to show self-control, and along comes the one female who makes that even harder than it's ever been.

The Beast itself was such an interesting idea to the story, and risky. I mean, you don't think of that outside of high fantasy, but it's such an integral part of Rhage's story and the way it's written sells itself. I love the Brotherhood books, always will, and it was such a treat to go back and revisit one of the early stories. I didn't really have time for a reread, but I had to do it, and boy and I am glad I did. I will end up rereading through Lover Mine, I think. Not a hardship for me, since I love those books. It was so much fun going back and seeing how the original brothers: Wrath, Rhage, Vishous, Tohr, Phury and Zsadist expand their circle. Zsadist as before got my attention and stole my heart and had me on a high as I saw the genesis of his story and where it goes (he stole the book away from poor Rhage the first go around, to be honest). Butch makes me sigh (what a guy), Vishous is so fascinating and has this wow factor, and Phury, oh my darling Phury. And let's not even talk about how much I love John Matthew. Okay, let's. I adore him so much. My heart was breaking for JM as an abandoned pre-trans. I wanted to hug him so bad. I'm glad he found the Brotherhood. My heart is wrenched thinking about all the anguish he is soon to face, but happy that he will find his mate in future books as well. I realize how much I under-appreciated Rhage. He really is a lovely guy (on the inside). What he was in the past, he's learned the hard way, wasn't the best he could be, so when Mary comes along, he grabs at her with both hands (even though he has logical fears that his curse could hurt her and keeps a distance as much as he can).

Mary, wow, what a woman. What she's gone through. First nursing her dying mother, and then herself facing an illness that robbed her of so much, even her hope and faith. When Rhage comes along, she doesn't have anything left to believe that a gorgeous guy like that could want to be with her. I had forgotten how low her confidence was in her appearance. It was hurtful to see that, but the fact that Rhage was all about her (she was it for him, sigh) really compensates for that. I can certainly understand. While most of us aren't ugly, we'd think we were on a Candid Camera show if a gorgeous guy like Rhage showed up and was intensely interested in us too. Let's be honest. So the fact that she pushes him away for a significant part of the book I felt was understandable.

The Lesser storyline has not ever been my favorite, but it feels more solid than it does later on in the series, more thought-provoking. While not my choice of villain, it works for this story. It is the bane of the vampire species and the reason why the Brotherhood exists.

I can see that these characters are real for Ward. Because she believes in them, they feel so real to me. I loved the thoughtful way she has written this story, with a lot of pop culture, but deep true things about humanity and the feelings that are universal to the human existence. Who would have thought that a story about vampires and other so-called mythical things could be so authentic. They are treasured characters to people who consider themselves Black Dagger Brotherhood fans, flaws and all. I feel like I've gone through a family album with this reread.

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review 2015-09-23 13:14
Full Dark, No Stars Review
Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King

It’s safe to say that, by today’s standards, Stephen King’s novellas are actually novels. Especially his horror novellas. When you have publishers considering 35,000 words “novel length”, it makes you wonder what the actual difference is between a novel and a novella and whether or not the distinction will make a lot of difference in the coming years. Buddy of mine, Gregor Xane, thinks novellas suit horror just fine, that they are the perfect length to bring on the scares and then GTFO of Dodge. I tend to agree with him. But there’s something different about a King novella. They normally feel like novels twice their length. They feel packed to bursting with content. Think about Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, think The Langoliers or The Mist. So once again, I wonder… What really makes a novel a novel. Is it truly length? Or the breadth of story?

This collection is bleak. There’s not a bright moment to be found, hence the title. Let’s discuss what that entails, shall we?

1922: Sweet baby Tom Cruise this story is disturbing. It’s one of those tales that make you feel dirty after completing it. What Wilf and Hank do is irredeemable, but somehow, I feel bad for the both of them by story’s end. That’s damn good writing, if you ask me. That’s having humanity nailed down to where it’s likely never to move again.

Big Driver: Rape. Does that word make you uncomfortable? Probably. Even if you’re not a victim, or don’t know a victim, you’re liable to cringe just reading it. But what about ‘revenge’? Does that word make you smile? Well, even though the revenge in this tale is not easily won or pretty in nature, I still grin like a mad bastard reading about these fuckers getting their comeuppance. And speaking of the word ‘rape’, King uses it a lot in this story. He doesn't pull any punches. There’s one page where it seems like every other word is that word. I feel he was trying to drive home the stark horror of the situation by pummeling us with repetition. "You will read this. You will know. You will see."

Fair Extension: The shortest of the tales, this one is my favorite. In King’s short story, “The Man in the Black Suit”, which appears in Everything’s Eventual and won an O. Henry Award, King comes right out and tells us who the bad guy is. In this one, the story’s more sinister for its allusions. You know who this guy is bartering with, I know who he’s bartering with, even the character knows, but no one ever says it. Because that’s what gives monsters their true power – acknowledgement. The boogeyman isn’t scary until you believe he is.

A Good Marriage: I love this one for its simple truths. You never truly know another human being, no matter how long you might live with them. King used the serial killer known as BTK for inspiration, and the reader is left wishing that this had been the actual outcome.

In summation: In my opinion, King shines brightest when he’s working with novellas. I can name numerous bad novels and short stories of his, but I can’t think of a single novella from him that I’ve disliked. What do you think? Can you name one, and why didn't you like it?

Final Judgment: Five stars, but not a single one to brighten your mood.

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review 2015-09-21 09:16
Everything's Eventual Review (and more)
Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales - Stephen King

 As with all of Stephen King’s collections, I’m giving each story a one-sentence review. Before we begin, I would like to say a few things that have little to do with this book’s contents. If you do not care for personal stories in reviews, you should take this chance to move along, or you may scroll past the next few paragraphs. But I hope you’ll join me. Maybe my story will help someone who doesn’t know they need help.

While listening to this one (I chose the audiobook for this reread), I tried to remember what was going on in my life when this book came out. The year was 2002, the month was March, and six months prior, I had met the woman who would become my wife. I was working as a CNA for a local hospital and had been clean for about five months. My drug of choice was heroin. My wife is the reason I decided on recovery. Not because it was love at first site, or any of that nonsense, but because I finally found something I cared more for than the drugs. To this day, she doesn’t knows how bad I was. She might have an idea that I was on something, but I don’t think she knew the extent of my addiction.

Any junkie will tell you, “Once a junkie, always a junkie.” As far as I see it, there are three stages of being a Junkie: Active junkie, relapsed junkie, and recovering junkie. There is no former junkie. If you’ve ever enjoyed hard drugs, you will always have a taste for it. The fits and seizures and sweats and vomiting everything you eat lasts about two weeks. If you’re lucky, you can sleep through the first few days. If you’re unlucky, like I was, you ride that motherfucker until sparks spit from the undercarriage. It’s a perpetual feeling of being dragged through a field of insulation. You can’t scratch deep enough and motor control is a concept lost on you. All this to kick something that makes you feel like you’re soaking in a warm cloud of perpetual orgasm whenever you take it. Is it any wonder junkies relapse? What most junkies don’t tell you is how badly you need a smoke, a shot, a snort, a drink, or whatever, for as long as one year later. That need eventually turns into a lesser want after the first year and you just have to ignore it if you’re going to make it. But that first year, man… It is fucking awful. Everything seems like it would be so much better if you relapsed, if you just gave in and took that smoke, that shot, that snort, that drink… But it won’t be. Sure, that first hour is gonna be magic, kid, but everything after is gonna feel like prematurely ejaculating inside the girl of your dreams, or having the man of your dreams squirt off after two pumps. You’ll want to go again. But you shouldn’t. Because getting better starts with changing your attitude and finding something greater than the addiction.

But anyway. My recovery was why I hated this book when it first came out. I was in a bad place with a great person. And what I once considered one of King’s worst books turned out to be not so bad after all. I really enjoyed myself this time around. However, I still believe this is his weakest collection. Even if there are two amazing stories herein, the rest are just so-so. Here’s why:

“Autopsy Room Four” – There’s a fine line between tribute and thievery, and King walks it in this homage to an old Twilight Zone episode. ***

“The Man in the Black Hat” – King won an O. Henry award for this short, but other than the description of the titular devil, it falls a little flat for me. ***

“All That You Love Will Be Carried Away” - This literary tale is, I think, what sets King apart from every other writer in the business - he can play at any genre and succeed because he’s a jack of all trade of the wordsmith variety. ****

“The Death of Jack Hamilton” – Loved the disgusting bits, but this one goes on way too long. **

“In The Deathroom” – I feel the same way about this one as I did with the last one. **

“The Little Sister of Eluria” – Whether it be a day trip or a long vacation, Mid-World is one of my favorite destinations. *****

“Everything’s Eventual” – A little tale of psychic persuasion with ambiguous morals. ***

“L.T.’s Theory of Pets” – Just fucking funny. *****

“The Road Virus Heads North” Can’t be bothered to give a fuck for this one, but the television adaptation wasn’t bad. *

“Lunch at the Gotham Café” – So much gory fun. ****

“That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French” – Repetitive to the point of inducing sleep, and unfortunately, that’s the point. **

“1408” – Probably one of the coolest ideas King’s approached. ****

“Riding the Bullet” – A fun little ride, but not much else. ***

“Lucky Quarter” – Sad. ***

In summation: Everything’s Eventual is King’s most inconsistent collection. You can almost hear King singing, “Somma dis shit, somma dat shit, a whole lotta uddah shit,” over and over as he threw these stories together. For my money, I would have loved to have seen him hold onto these and pair them with the tales in Just After Sunset and given us another massive collection like Nightmares & Dreamscapes. Oh well. You know what they say. “Want in one hand and shit in the other.”

Final Judgment: Some of everything is eventually put on display.

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