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review 2017-09-13 21:32
#Audiobook Review: Dune by Frank Herbert
Dune - Frank Herbert,Simon Vance

I often say that Duke is one of the best books ever written, a "classic;" however, I hadn't read it in at least 15 years. Now that I'm such an audiobook fan, I wanted to revisit Dune to discover if I still enjoyed it. The answer is YES!

 

The story of Paul Muad'Dib, the heir to the Atreides dukedom, is one that transcends the test of time. It is as fresh and relevant today as it was 50 years ago. Each time I read/listen to the story, I find new treasures: bits of wisdom, secret meanings, insightful allegory. The writing is sharp, full of beautiful detail, if not a bit long-winded at times. However, I enjoy omnipresent multiple point-of-view narrative as it truly gives the reader a complete immersion into Mr. Herbert's complex and fascinating world.

 

The audiobook is a full cast production, with primary narration by Simon Vance. Although I looked for it, I could not find a cast listing for each character. Mr. Vance does an excellent job as the primary voice for the story. His cadence is strong, yet flexible; bending to meet the needs of each character. He alters his inflections and accent for each player. I would have enjoyed the book with Mr. Vance as the sole narrator. However, this version does have both male and female "actors" for each character, and are used most often when there is direct dialogue between two or more characters. Some of the narrators are more successful than others, my favorites being Paul and Jessica. My biggest complaint is that the use of the full cast is not consistent. There are long passages when Mr. Vance is the only voice, and then suddenly, the book goes back to a multi-cast production. While this issue did stand out because I took notice a few times, it didn't diminish my enjoyment of the story.

 

In the end, Dune remains one of my all time favorites and a book I will most certainly read (or listen to) again and again. Now if only we can get a decent movie of the book!

 

My Rating: A+
Narration: A-

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review 2017-09-09 06:02
A Family Affair
Daemons Are Forever - Simon R. Green

This was brilliant. I believe that's not an overstatement. This second book in the Secret Histories series illustrates that you either like Simon R. Green or you don't. His sense of humor might turn off some readers, and some of the prose can have a repetitive aspect. I think he likes to repeat things for emphasis. I had to look this up. It's called analepsis: repetition of a word or phrase for emphasis. Yeah, Green loves analepsis. As for me, everything I love about him is showcased in this novel. His silly but clever sense of humor. His belief in heroism. His cynical viewpoint of human nature. His understanding of the way people think. His love for fairy tales, mythology, folklore. His ability to write horror in a way that really gets you in the gut. His kooky characterization. It's all here.

The intersection of fantasy and spy literature is very appealing about this book. It's clear that Green loves Bond and can also poke fun at its motifs and conventions in a way that only a Bond fan can. I like that this is a part of the story, but it doesn't stay in pastiche territory. There's a nod to it several times, but Green has something a lot more interesting to explore with this book. He even throws in a little Lovecraftianesque elements.

The story starts with Eddie trying to pull his family back together and get the Droods back on track. He gets a lot of resistance in this endeavor, but Eddie is not the type to give up. He has Molly Metcalfe, the Witch of the Woods at his side, and some help from his uncle Jack, the Armorer. The rest of the Droods are more than happy to watch Eddie fall on his face. Eddie knows what many of us had to figure out for ourselves, family complicates our lives, makes us crazy, but they're family, so you can't just walk away from them, unless you have to.

Eddie decides they need a big bad to fight, so he decides they'll take on the Loathely Ones. I can't tell you more, because so very much happens and you'd have to read it to even get it. So much goes into this one.

I listened to this on audio, and I'm so glad I did. At first I was meh about the narrator. But he won me over but good. He's British, and also talented in voicing many dialects. Each character sounds distinctive, and he even changes the cadence of the speaker. He knows how to build drama, and also inject sarcasm and pathos into the dialogue and prose.

This was awesome action, now shying away from gore, but also quite horrific at times. I think the action balance was better in this one than The Man with the Golden Torc. Green takes more time with the exposition, and that's very crucial with this story. Eddie has a lot of plotting and planning to do, and he can't make these decisions on the fly. The fantasy is solid and the ideas are all over the place, but everything comes together very nicely. I was pretty upset about one character death, and I don't think Eddie is going to take what happened lightly or let it go. Revenge is a dish best served cold. The characters are all interesting, and add something to the story. If you think a character is wasted, keep reading and wait for it.

I really enjoyed the relationship between Eddie and Molly. They challenge each other, support each other, and accept each other, which is crucial, considering who both of them are. I think Eddie would be screwed in many cases without Molly, and while she's very independent, it's clear that Eddie is very important to her.

This is a crap review and I need to recharge my laptop. I'll end it by saying I loved this book and it just makes me love Simon R. Green even more than I already do. Highly recommended.

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review 2017-08-27 12:14
A work of originality and brilliance
he - Simon Slater,Hodder & Stoughton UK,John Connolly

When I first heard that John Connolly had written a fictional account of the life of Stan Laurel, based on the latter's  correspondence, I was very intrigued to acquire and read the book. I have the greatest admiration for JC but am more familiar with his creation the anti hero and very troubled detective Charlie Parker the series now having reached book No. 15, each one written with a flair and brilliance that has seen Connolly acclaimed both in Europe and the US, and rightly so. "He" a book giving the reader a glimpse into the amazing and often troubled life of a man who achieved fame and adulation in the early days of the "talkies" ...Stan Laurel. The he in the book is of course "him", the author never uses his stage name simply because Stan Laurel did not really exist and the true essence of the man is somewhere between Arthur Jefferson, his birth name, and his stage name. In order to construct and present Stan Laurel's story Connolly has utilized the massive correspondence that Laurel wrote in his lifetime, a correspondence that although give little if any insight into the true mind and workings of this comic genius, nevertheless presented the author with a blueprint for him to construct, mould and shape the life of Laurel and his undoubted love and respect for his comic partner Oliver "babe" Hardy.

 

This is a wonderful story a warm and affectionate analysis of a man whose existence was never dull, often sad (his son Stan Robert Laurel died at only 9 days old) his liberal attitude to alcohol and his many affairs including in total 4 wives. His only daughter Lois, a product of his first marriage, was born in 1927 and who recently died in July 2017. Reading "He" was akin to a walk through the old Hollywood from the popular birth of silent movies to the often painful upheaval that became the world of the talkies. Laurel and Hardy not only accepted this change but so much of their success happened after the talkie transition including such memorable classics as Way out West, and A chump at Oxford all under the guidance of renowned American Film Producer Hal Roach. "He" is centred around the Oceana apts  in Santa Monica California where Laurel lived until his death, with his fourth wife Ida, and from this base SL reminisces on the events good and bad that shaped his life.

 

From reading the press release before the actual book launch John Connolly states that the idea behind this novel was born in 1999.( In the meantime we the reader have been enthralled by the adventures of former policeman Charlie Parker seeking some form of redemption following the murder of his wife and daughter). It is to the author's credit that "he" has been nurtured, developed, researched and planned as the final product is a work of such originality and imagination. It made me feel that I was eavesdropping into a time and place no longer with us and a world where I became privy to the conversations, the genius, the intellect, and the brilliance of the great Stan Laurel. Many thanks to the publisher Hodder and Stoughton for a gratis copy in return for an honest review and that is what I have written.

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text 2017-08-27 11:23
tolle Geschichte
Aufstieg und Fall des au├čerordentlichen ... Aufstieg und Fall des au├čerordentlichen Simon Snow Roman (Reihe Hanser) - Rainbow Rowell,Brigitte Jakobeit

Das Buch hat mir tolle und unterhaltsame Lesestunden bereitet. Die Geschichte wird aus mehreren Perspektiven erzählt - aus verschiedenen Sichten wird in der Ich-Perspektive erzählt, das war besonders interessant, da man verschiedene Meinungen und Sichtweisen erhält.

Das Ende war kein typisches Friede-Freude-Eierkuchen, was ich schade fand, weil ich es mir für die Charaktere gewünscht hätte. Die Stimmung war etwas düster und gedrückt. 

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review 2017-08-24 00:38
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli

Okay. I wrote a pretty bad review about this book when I first read it, and I didn't even finish it. It has a lot of flaws, a load of stereotypes about gay people and the LGBT community, and frequently reads like a very bad fanfiction. 

 

However, I recently had another go at this book. And...I'm surprised at what it turned out to be. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit! It wasn't so obvious at first, but there is something of a coherent story going on between all the stereotypes and cliches and bad Tumblr-isms going on within these mellow pages.

 

So, here's the thing. This book is supposedly a gay romance between two guys at school. They communicate by email, but for the most part they keep their identities hidden from each other, and their relationship develops throughout the book.

 

This was probably my favourite part of the book. Simon and Blue, as they're known, have quite an engaging relationship and it even reminded me about some of my early online relationships at school. It was sweet, and it was cute. It wasn't too "girly", as slash romance is often portrayed by yaoi writers who don't know what they're doing. It was just right. I really liked it.

 

So, our story begins when one of the boys in Simon's class, Martin, mentions that he's seen Simon's emails with Blue (showing that he's gay), and blackmails him.

 

What the hell man. We've barely started the book, we've barely established this gay protagonist, and already this straight guy is blackmailing him? To get him in with a girlfriend, of all things?

 

Oh, boy. 

By the way, we've also got a love triangle. A straight love triangle, between Simon's friends. You know, his straight friends. Because that's what we want to read about in a book about gay romance.

 

I enjoyed the characters. A bunch of drama goes on in the book - I couldn't even bother to explain it all, but I will say that the author had a good grasp on what coming out is like for gay people, homophobia in general, all that stuff. She did it right and I can appreciate her for that.

 

I don't really appreciate all the gay stereotypes she put in, however.

Tegan and Sara? Seriously? Harry Potter? One of the main characters is a fangirl who is into Draco/Harry? (Actually, she was written pretty well. I expected her to be a lot worse.)

 

And what the hell is up with all these Tumblr-isms? They're everywhere! It's like the author found a bunch of stuff that she knew would be popular with Tumblr girls who like gay things, you know, mostly slash fangirls, and she put them all in her book. 

 

Oh, by the way, Tumblr is mentioned multiple times in the book. The author refers to it as "the Tumblr".

Dude. Nobody calls it that. It's just called Tumblr. Nobody says "I saw your post on the Facebook." It sounds so annoying and just tells your reader that you haven't done any research whatsoever.

 

What's amusing is that later on in the book, Simon ends up coming out to his family and friends. And everyone's...fine with it? I mean, there's not much homophobia at all. It's when he comes out to the general public where problems start.

 

Anyway, I don't really want to ramble about this book. It's a good read, but it is just FULL of little irritations which put me off. It's good, not because of the portrayal of gay relationships, but because of the characters and plot and the high school setting. I mean, you can kinda tell that the author is some straight woman who wants to write about her cute little gays. It's just so painfully obvious.

 

For what it's worth, I ended up liking it quite a bit. The protagonist is a complete idiot, by the way. There's a point in the book where he says that he always thought Jews came from Israel. There's another point when he starts thinking that Martin (the straight guy blackmailing him about his sexuality) is really Blue (the gay guy that he's been communicating with about his sexuality), even though the former is a piece of shit throughout the whole book.

 

I don't even know how you can make such a dire mistake like that. Seriously. I'd narrowed down Blue's identity to two people about halfway through the book. It wasn't too hard, really...

 

Anyway. I'm giving this 3.5/5. It was good, but...I don't know, it was just chock-full of flaws. It's not aimed at gay people, either. It's a gay romance aimed at straight girls who go on Tumblr a lot. And in that respect, it could do a LOT better.

 

 

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