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review 2019-05-17 04:21
Firestarter (Timekeeper #3) (Audiobook)
Firestarter (Timekeeper #3) - Tara Sim,Gary Furlong

Objectively, if such a thing is possible with books, this should probably be 4 stars, but anything that can get me this invested in the plot and characters, despite some very obvious flaws and some truly TSTL moments, deserves 5 stars.


I muttered aggressively at the audiobook while taking my afternoon walks and actually yelled during my morning and afternoon commutes, y'all. I lectured at the characters hard time. Good thing there weren't any people around. 


This is the final book in the trilogy and Ms. Sims actually manages to make Xavier somewhat likable and certainly relatable. Danny and Colton are constantly in peril because they're magnets for danger. Akash, Mina, and Daphne all play parts in the unfolding story between the crew of the Prometheus, intent on freeing Iotas, the god of time, and the Builders, intent on making more clocktowers to maintain time, including all the entails.


Danny goes through quite the journey here. He's still a bit innocent in this and still clinging to his morals, even when it's really not a good idea. It was hard to see life knock him about. He grows up in this book, and learns some hard lessons, as does Xavier. As much as I hate some of the things Xavier's done, he did at the very least only have the betterment of humanity in mind. Some of his methods were questionable, true, and he learns to accept his role in things.


There was a bit too much repetition of events, and there's a pretty significant plot point that hinges on what is unfortunately a huge plot hole. I could do mental gymnastics to attempt to make the plot hole make sense, but I shouldn't have to.

Archer's trap for Danny and Colton makes no sense, even with someone on the inside. It hinged on a complete improbability that Archer would have had zero hope of actually amounting to anything, and it's only because Daphne had a conveniently-timed breakthrough that it happens at all.

(spoiler show)


Gary Furlong's narration continues to be amazing, though there were a few times that his voices didn't shift quite enough and it took a few sentences to figure out who was speaking. But when it comes to emotions, he really shines. He gets to the heart of each character and makes them feel real. 

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review 2019-05-04 05:16
Chainbreaker (Timekeeper #2) (Audiobook)
Chainbreaker - Tara Sim

This suffers from middle book syndrome. It takes awhile to get going and doesn't have the same sense of tension as the first book, and mostly exists to set up the last book. It does pick up in the last half, though.


Time needs to be managed in this world, because if it's not, it'll stop and towns trapped in these stopped zones all but seize to exist for those outside them. For hundreds of years, the clocktowers have managed time, but the secret of how has been lost. But now a clock tower has fallen in India - and time didn't stop.


I really liked seeing Daphne become a full fleshed-out character, but I did miss spending more time with Dany. Colton's POV was also quite refreshing and interesting. I can't quite decide if his decisions were convenient to the plot or in character though - perhaps it's both.


There are various threads going on here, and they're weaved liked the Fates at their loom. Things that happened in the previous book are expanded on here, and we get more info on how the clock spirits came to be and why. Even the villains aren't quite what they might seem at first - though their methods certainly leave a lot to be desired. The social commentary on England's occupation of India was interesting also.

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review 2019-04-21 14:28
EDUCATED: A MEMOIR by Tara Westover
Educated - Tara Westover

Tara was raised on an isolated farm in Idaho. There she was homeschooled on occasion by her mother. Her dad has issues and was working on living off the grid. He supported the family by scrapping and building contracting. Her mother was a midwife and essential oil/homeopathy healer. When Tara was 16 she decided she wanted to go to school. She was able to go to BYU but there were many gaps in her education that needed to be filled. She was fortunate that in her second-year roommates she found that help. She then went on to Cambridge and Harvard.

This book was a fascinating read, like watching a train wreak--you know you should not look but it is impossible to look away. How Tara and her siblings were raised was horrific. That none died is a miracle. I am glad that Tara and some of her siblings got out and found lives in the outside world. Their dad had mental illness and their mother had a traumatic brain injury. They should not have been raising these kids. I loved when her brother Tyler spoke up in support of Tara when she would not come back into the fold and her parents spread lies about her. I am glad that Tara, Tyler, Richard, and Tony supported each other. They were the ones who got out. The others who stayed had issues and I am afraid some of the problems will continue to go down to the next generations.

I am glad I read this but it is tough as she talks about what they went through physically and mentally. I applaud them. I congratulate them on making it.

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review 2019-04-11 20:09
Educated / Tara Westover
Educated - Tara Westover

Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag". In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard.

Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent.

Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes and the will to change it.


I started reading this memoir in a kind of rubber-necking-at-an-accident way--wanting to know about living in an extreme religious environment, doomsday prepping, forgoing modern medicine, and never setting foot in a school. But I hadn’t read far when I realized how wonderfully this woman was writing about these distressing subjects. How even-handed she was being, in the face of ignorance, mental illness, abuse, and extremely toxic patriarchy. 

Despite all of these factors, the author’s intelligence shines through it all. She’d never been in a classroom until she was 17 and had only the vaguest idea of what modern society was all about. She’d never heard of the Holocaust. She was accustomed to viewing the delusions of her parents as gospel. Her father ranted regularly about the Illuminati, something that the vast majority of us consider to be a cheesy plot point in cheap thrillers. And yet, she persevered and she learned and she educated herself. She has well-deserved advanced degrees and her photo shows an attractive woman with no signs of her upbringing. And then I wonder, what was I expecting? What do I think those signs might be? 

In many ways, Ms. Westover copes with extreme versions of things that we all have to deal with. I think almost everyone goes through a stage of feeling like they don’t fit in. Wondering if we can ever be ‘normal.’ Many of us have mentally ill family members or struggle with mental illness ourselves. Some have to deal with abuse. Everyone, but especially women, have to deal with patriarchal notions of what we ‘should’ be doing with our lives. She gives hope to all of us--if she could struggle out from under this load of trouble, surely the rest of us can too.

As she learns about the outside world, studying history, philosophy, and psychology, we get to travel along with her as she acquires the vocabulary to describe and evaluate her situation. She peels back the many shellacked layers of brainwashing that have held her back. She recognizes the many ways that the men of her family have bullied her into submission and she learns to accept her own intellect and power to decide for herself, yet still feeling that pull to “belong” to her own family. 

I think that was the most riveting choice: to belong to family or to have an existence out in the ‘real world.’ The pain of having to make a choice--most of us get both and there’s very little choosing. I come away from the book, not a casual tourist of oddity, but a deep admirer of the strength and intelligence of the author. Ms. Westover, I wish you continued strength and peace.

If you appreciated this book, you would probably also enjoy The Glass Castle.

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text 2019-04-04 15:14
TBR Thursday
My Sister, the Serial Killer - Oyinkan Braithwaite
A Shimmer of Hummingbirds: A Birder Murder Mystery - Steve Burrows
Educated - Tara Westover
Excellent women - Barbara Pym
The Pisces - Melissa Broder


I've got 2 days to finish The Queens of Innis Lear, which is so far my best book of the year.  The Ancient Greeks believed that you couldn't judge whether a person had a good life until you saw the manner of their death--so until I see the end of the book, I can't be certain of the rating of this one, but I have high hopes.


I have next week off work, burning vacation time before my retirement date.  I'll be cat-sitting my cousin's kitty and puttering at assorted retirement-related tasks.  Plus things like getting my taxes to the accountant and attending another funeral.


But I should have plenty of time to tackle this list of books--these ones are at the top of the pile because they have holds at the library and I can't renew them.  In fact, with Educated, there are more than 780 people waiting patiently.  That's not quite as bad as it sounds, as the library has 149 copies, but it's still significant.


I need to get out my camera again--perhaps I will take some cat photos next week and I want to get back to Menu Mondays soon.  And I want to go out birding in the worst way!


Anyway, enjoy your weekend adventures, friends!

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