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review 2018-03-22 01:19
Seriously... I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres
Seriously... I'm Kidding - Ellen DeGeneres

Seriously… I’m Kidding has been on my to-read list for a while now. When it finally came available to borrow from my library I jumped at the chance to listen to the audio version.


Narrated by Ellen herself, this audio book was just like listening to the opening monologue on her talk show. I enjoyed her observations on the world around her and admire her for keeping her jokes clean. Unlike most comedians, Ellen’s humor is suitable for all ages.


Although an enjoyable listen, I did find some of the rambling to be a bit much and settled on a 3 star rating. I would recommend Seriously… I’m Kidding to fans of Ellen DeGeneres.

Source: mlsredhousereviews.wordpress.com/2018/03/08/seriously-im-kidding-by-ellen-degeneres
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review 2018-03-22 00:38
Master of the House of Darts by Aliette de Bodard
Master of the House of Darts - Aliette de Bodard

Series: Obsidian and Blood #3


In this conclusion to the Obsidian and Blood trilogy, Acatl has to investigate a possible plague after a warrior collapses during the Revered Speaker's return ceremony. Acatl is High Priest of the Dead and the whole trilogy is a historical fantasy based on the Aztec Empire in the 15th century. It's pretty neat, although somewhat bloody (you know the Aztecs and blood sacrifices).


The only bummer was that I found that the text had a higher number of mistakes than I like (a few missing words and typos).

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review 2018-03-22 00:21
Frankenstein in Baghdad: A Novel - Ahmed Saadawi
“Because I'm made up of body parts of people from diverse backgrounds - ethnicities, tribes, races and social classes - I represent the impossible mix that never was achieved in the past. I'm the first true Iraqi citizen, he (the Whatsitsname) thinks.”

I'm completely gobsmacked after finishing FRANKENSTEIN IN BAGHDAD. I didn't really know what to expect. I'm not usually a big horror reader, but this sounded so interesting, I decided how could it hurt to try? So I borrowed the fairly short library book, telling myself I could just give it back if I wasn't into it. Not only was I into it, I read it quickly in two sittings and I've been talking about this and one other book to anyone who will listen for days.


The large number of characters are fully realized and formed. It's incredibly complex and has a deep, twisty narrative with various interwoven storylines. It's satire, dark witty humor, and on a surface level both funny and freakish. Then the minute you think for a second about what's going on, this horror novel is deeply disturbing on myriad levels. It's allegorical, it's a straight-up retelling of Shelley's Frankenstein, it's a government spoof, and a few other things.


In US-occupied Baghdad, we start off with classified documents about a "story." It involves all the usual nonsense the US government is fond of doing, and my first thought was "I can see the government classifying everything and arresting people for a story." Seemed highly realistic to me. 


It may be a substandard horror novel. I wasn't scared. It may be a poor translation, or it may simply be that the terror is found in a different reading. I was disturbed and slightly tortured about the underlying message and circumstance being satirized -- the American occupation of Baghdad, the constant drones, the literal blowing-apart of both people and a country. 


There is some true brilliance of social, political, national, religious, human, etc commentary offered.Some people found it "slow." I'd guess they were looking for a horror novel only, not one that integrates the many facets this novel brings. 


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review 2018-03-21 23:05
4.7 Out of 5 "Whirling Ball" Stars
Forever Right Now - Emma Scott




Forever Right Now

Emma Scott



Darlene Montgomery has been to hell and back…more than once. After a stint in jail for drug possession, she is finally clean and ready to start over. Yet another failed relationship is just the motivation she needs to move from New York to San Francisco with the hopes of resurrecting her dance career and discovering that she is more than the sum of her rap sheet. As Darlene struggles in her new city, the last thing she wants is to become entangled with her handsome—but cranky—neighbor and his adorable little girl... 


Sawyer Haas is weeks away from finishing law school, but exhaustion, dwindling finances, and the pressure to provide for himself and his daughter, Olivia, are wearing him down. A federal clerkship--a job he desperately needs--awaits him after graduation, but only if he passes the Bar Exam. Sawyer doesn’t have the time or patience for the capricious—if beautiful—dancer who moves into the apartment above his. But Darlene’s easy laugh and cheerful spirit seep into the cracks of his hardened heart, and slowly break down the walls he’s resurrected to keep from being betrayed ever again. 


When the parents of Olivia’s absentee mother come to fight for custody, Sawyer could lose everything. To have any chance at happiness, he must trust Darlene, the woman who has somehow found her way past his brittle barbs, and Darlene must decide how much of her own bruised heart she is willing to give to Sawyer and Olivia, especially when the ghosts of her troubled past refuse to stay buried.






My second Emma Scott book and I think I've found a New Adult Author that I love.  Her stories are genuine and heartfelt, with no over-the-top drama.  Her characters are the same.  I can't help but advocate for them.  The feels that she invokes for me are indelible, and the best part about her books, no gratuitous sex scenes.


"You get back what you put in.  Negative shit gets you negative shit.  Positive energy begets positive energy.  Whatever you put out there in the universe...it listens.  And then it answers.  So when I talk, I try to give it something it wants to hear and hope it answers with something I want to hear."











Plot~ 4.5/5

Main Characters~ 4.5/5

Secondary Characters~ 5/5

The Feels~ 5/5

Pacing~ 5/5

Addictiveness~ 5/5

Theme or Tone~ 5/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 4.3/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 5/5

Ending~ 5/5 Cliffhanger~ Nope.


Book Cover~  It's okay…it goes with the story well.

Series~ A stand-alone but Darlene's Character is a secondary character in The Butterfly Project.

Setting~ San Francisco, California

Source~ Own on Kindle eBook.



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review 2018-03-21 19:32
The Accusation by Bandi
The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea - Deborah Smith,Bandi

This is a collection of short stories criticizing the North Korean government. Purportedly, it was written by an anonymous North Korean official still living in the country, and smuggled out as a handwritten manuscript. Upon reading the first couple of stories, though, I began to wonder if that backstory is a publicity stunt. I’ve read a lot of contemporary English-language fiction, and a lot of fiction from countries around the world, and what struck me about this collection is that it is written in a style characteristic of modern English-speaking authors. This makes it easy reading for those audiences: it’s written with the immediacy and emotional intimacy with the characters that one typically sees in English-language fiction; it has that pleasing balance of dialogue and narrative, that easy-to-read plot-driven flow, that immersion in the characters’ thoughts and feelings that characterizes most popular fiction today. Authors from cultural traditions very different from the mainstream western ones rarely write this way unless they have immigrated to an English-speaking country, even though almost all of them would have ready access to popular fiction, unlike someone living in North Korea.

Having these doubts, I poked around on the Internet for more information about the book (the New Yorker article is worth a read). No one has proven it to be a hoax, and a vocabulary analysis apparently indicates that the writer used North Korean language, which has diverged somewhat from South Korea’s over the decades of separation. However, I found it significant that journalist Barbara Demick, author of the fantastic Nothing to Envy (a nonfiction narrative of life in North Korea, based on her research and defectors’ accounts) also doubts the official version. Her doubt seems to stem primarily from the author’s keen awareness of the regime’s internal contradictions; this is apparently an understanding that takes defectors significant time outside the country to fully comprehend.

As for the book itself, each of its seven stories is a quick and easy read, though they average around 30 pages each. However, after the first two or three stories, which were fairly enjoyable, I began to tire of their incessant drumbeat. All of the stories are about how the regime and life in North Korea crushes a character in one way or another (usually metaphorically, but in one case physically): there is no conflict that doesn’t have the Party at its base and no possibility of happiness. At the end of the final story, a character, gazing at the red-brick local Party office, reflects, “How many noble lives had been lost to its poison! The root of all human misfortunate and suffering was that red European specter that the [party official] had boasted had put down roots in this land, the seed of that red mushroom!” Perhaps I ought to take the idea that the government could be the cause of all human suffering as evidence that the author does in fact live in North Korea, but in any case, such a simplistic view of the world doesn’t make for high-quality literary work.

Whoever the author may be, the fundamental storytelling skills are certainly there, despite a singular political focus, and it will be an especially interesting book for those who haven’t read much about North Korea. But for those who want to learn more about the country, I recommend starting with the brilliant Nothing to Envy.

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