Audiobook Review

Audiobook Review: World War Z


Rating: 4 Stars
Date Started: 10 October 2017
Date Finished: 13 October 2017
Duration: 13:57:00
Genre: Horror
Well that was a lot different than what I was expecting. Now I get why people got so upset after the movie came out! I still like the movie, but it’s best to pretend it’s from two completely different franchises…

I’m actually a little disappointed in the book. It was accused of having too much “feelings”, but I found it too impersonal. The stories I enjoyed most were the ones of the people who described their own experiences, instead of the plans of the countries etc… although those were also very informative and gave it a gloss of legitimacy. It’s actually weird how this book felt like something that had actually happened, instead of a fictionalized event.

I liked that there were so many different stories from people and governments all around the world, and I loved that South Africans came up with the plan that saved everyone. It shot the whole “isolated to America” trope down very nicely. I think it was also good how the author highlighted how some countries would deal with a situation differently than another, and also how culture came into play.

The narrators were all very good, except for the one woman. I just didn’t like her different portrayals of the women, although she did do a fairly good job of giving everyone a different voice. As did the male narrators mind you.

All-in-all a pretty good listen 🙂

Book Review, Stephen King

Book Review: Sleeping Beauties


Rating: 5 Stars
Date Started: 20 October 2017
Date Finished: 28 October 2017
Pages: 702
Genre: Horror

There’s just something about Stephen (and I guess Owen) King’s writing that I love. I know a lot of people will say that this book dragged on too long and there was a lot of pointlessness in it, but I truly loved every single bit of it. Even the seemingly pointless bits. It added another layer to the world created in this epic that made it feel even more real. Admittedly, it was damned difficult to keep up with all the characters, but at the end of the day each one played their part.

I had an interesting experience reading this book. In general, I frown upon authors using cheap tricks to manipulate the reader’s feelings. There were a lot of things that happened in this book that I would normally consider “cheap tricks”. However let’s look at this in context. This books is making an open statement of pretty much everything that is wrong in this world today. And a lot of that is centered around abuse towards women and minorities. So while I would normally roll my eyes when an author kills a beloved character to prove a point or further the plot, when it was done in this book, it went a little deeper than the surface. Because everything that happened in this book are things that are happening for real all over the world.

I’ve had my fair share of abuse from men, yet I still consider myself lucky because it could have been worse. You hear stories often enough to make you feel like that one boyfriend you had that left a couple of bruises wasn’t the worst you could have ended up with. And hey at least you got away. Even as a mom of a beautiful son who I love with my whole heart, I found myself wondering if I would have voted to come back to this world if I had an opportunity like the women in Our Place?

Sadly, I think there will probably be Stephen King fans who don’t agree with the opinions expressed in this book. He’ll most likely lose a few readers and there might even be an attempt at a “boycot” on his books. Yes, there were cliche’s in abundance and some truly foul characters normally played by men, and this will probably piss off a lot of people and start the shouting of not all men!!! But you know what? Enough men to make this book leave me with a knot in my throat.

Getting past the underlying agenda, the story itself is actually pretty freaking good. I loved Evie and I even found myself feeling sorry for Frank while at the same time I felt like knocking his head against something hard. That’s one thing I can always say about SK’s characters. They’re so rich and unique, they feel real in a way that a lot of fictional characters don’t. I’m pretty sure in another lifetime King would’ve been a pretty decent shrink… or maybe a profiler… which probably more his style.

Bottom line, this book was a great story with a lot of relevant subtext. If you can’t handle that then don’t read it.

Book Review

Book Review: Slipping


Rating: 4 Stars
Date Started: 22 April 2017
Date Finished: 29 April 2017
Pages: 288
Genre: Various

Lauren Beukes is a fantastic writer, no doubt about that. Her stories are beyond imaginative and quite often disturbing in a way that left me feeling slightly uncomfortable after reading some of them. And I’m a hardcore Stephen King fan, so that’s saying quite a lot in my opinion!

Although this is the first time I’ve actually read any of her writing (except for Survivor’s Club), I’ve been assured that she can pretty much be counted on to deliver when it comes to a craving for WTF creepy stories. And I must say that even though I was super disturbed by most of these, I’m really looking forward to reading more of her work now! I know, I know… I’m asking to be traumatized!

It is extremely clear from these stories that LB is a feminist and believes in equity and diversity. In fact, sometimes it felt like the emphasis on diverse characters and their respective characteristics were a little over pronounced and shoved in your face instead of just treating it like it’s normal. But then again that might just be my white privilege poking it’s head out again… Something I’ve noticed about myself is that I enjoy stories with diverse characters where a big deal isn’t made of the fact that they’re diverse. That’s my fantasy I guess, and upon closer inspection it might actually be a stupid one, because like it or not, prejudice is sadly still a big issue in real life. Sigh

Back when I fancied myself an author, I always felt uncomfortable writing from a POC perspective because I’ve never experienced what they’ve had to go through in life, but LB seems to have no problem with that and actually does a pretty good job of it in my admittedly naive opinion. I’d say about 80% of the stories are done from a POC perspective, and not once did it feel like just another stereotype. The characters were all believable, and if not exactly relatable, they came off real.

When it comes to content, there was a pretty good mix of ideas in this collection, though naturally I enjoyed the fictional stories more than the couple of non-fiction articles. Although the letter to her daughter gripped and squeezed my heart. It’s actually something that I’d probably read again and again, wishing that I had had a mother who told me these things, and hope that I can be a similar role-model for my son.

Most of the stories were almost dystopian in nature, but some shied just short of actually being that and actually represented the current emotional climate in a very stark and scary light. One story that jumps to mind thinking about this is Tankwa-Karoo, which very realistically portrays a possible outcome of some of the paranoia that is being spewed in social media these days. But then the last line of that story sticks with me too and gives me a little hope — as a member of the world population, but mostly as a South African. “This country doesn’t fall apart that easy.”

There were too many stories to review separately, but there was only one that I didn’t finish, and the rest I devoured… even if they did disturb the crap out of me. The title story was the main one that freaked me out, and I keep thinking of that last race and the lengths people will go to for fame and money. It’s not the only story in this collection with that same theme either, and you’ll probably notice a running theme of the greed of men and it’s effect on the world and other people.

I would definitely recommend this collection, though the recommendation would come with a warning… NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART

Book Review

Book Review: All That Remains


Rating: 4 Stars

Date Started: 15 April 2017

Date Finished: 18 April 2017

Pages: 353

Genre: Dystopia

I really struggled to decide on my rating for this book. It was very almost a 5 star, but ultimately I decided on 4. Here’s why

– The story itself was great, with lots of heart pumping action and edge of your seat moments.
– The characters were relatable (inasmuch as someone who hasn’t lived through what they had can relate to them.
– The characters were diverse, but it wasn’t treated as a big deal, which was really so damn awesome.
– The author drew no punches, but he also didn’t overplay anything. It was a gritty read, but only as gritty as it needed to be to tell the story.

– So many grammatical errors!
– Ok maybe there was a bit of overdramatic scenes. Especially when anything with the “Walking Cancer” was in play.

That’s literally the only complaints I had. The grammatical errors weren’t that big of a deal because I had gotten the copy from Netgalley, so I know not to expect perfection. However the book was released in 2015, so I feel like these things should have been picked up by now and updated…

The story was definitely not what I expected. I think I had a lot of preconceived notions about this book because of the cover image, which now that I’ve finished it, I just don’t understand how it relates. While I knew this was a dystopia, the cover made me think it was going to be a YA frothy kind of dystopia. I put off reading this for the longest time because of that.

What it actually turned out to be was a gritty tale of survival against all odds. Of loss and despair and just everything going tits up. The world-building was expansive and vivid, and I could clearly see this aptly named blight that had struck the world, leaving it crawling with terrifying creatures from who knows where and people just trying to survive hour by hour. Sure, it’s all been done before, but “All That Remains” gets it right in it’s own special way.

The story was brilliant, but that’s not even my favorite part about this book. The characters made it all come to life in the most amazing way. Each and every one was unique, and even though you had your token bad guys like the hillbilly abductors with sketchy intentions, even they were real.

One of the main characters is a 50 year old black sociology professor, who’s also a badass zombie killer and provider for his friends. I think his race was mentioned about 3 times, because it just wasn’t a thing. It was normal. He wasn’t used as a lesson on racism or even the other extreme of a black guy being the bad guy, he was just a guy trying to survive like everyone else! Sure, he was super moody and egotistical, but I think we can cut him some slack for surviving so long. Also, there was that other thing that probably had a lot to do with his reactions…

Sara, the other main character, is what they call a scanner. Scanning is an ability that arrived with all the other crap, and basically means she can function like a radar to pick up if there are any threats around. Oh, she’s also a lesbian, but again it’s not really a thing. It’s mentioned a bit more than Kyle’s being black, but in a character building way instead of a tool to promote some agenda. Basically, she was beaten by her family and ostracized by her community (church) for being gay. I think it’s fair to say this will have some influence on your views of the world and the person you turn out being.

The other two main characters are Tim, a teenaged boy who pretty much grew up in the new world and quickly had to learn to be grown up, and Kaylee, a 7ish year old born after shit hit the fan, but who grew up in a government bunker. Kaylee’s mom was a scientist who left the bunker on a mission that could end up saving the world, but unfortunately met with an untimely dismemberment. Luckily she left behind a handy flash drive found by our hero after they pick up Kaylee… mind you, the author never did say how Kaylee survived… hmmmm

I breezed through this story loving it all the way, and I would definitely recommend this to any dystopia lovers.

Get your copy of All That Remains here

Audiobook Review

Audiobook Review: The Handmaid’s Tale


The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ok so this book made me soooo mad! I actually had to distance myself a bit to get through it, because I was starting to smoke from my ears…

It’s set in a totalitarian distopian world, where woman are basically cattle, but worth less. I think for the time it was written and compared to it still being relevant now is just a sign of how screwed up this world is. I mean we’re making great progress with the Feminist movement, but even there you have people who completely misrepresents, which is not helpful at all because they make it a men vs women issue where it should be men = women… but anyway, I digress.

The story follows Offred, who has been beaten down and her spirit has been pretty much crushed. What hasn’t been broken she tries her best to tamp down, because any show of individualism could get her killed. I couldn’t even begin to try and imagine how I would have acted in her stead, because it is just so horrific… I’m pretty sure I would have been dead because I would kill if anyone touched my child… and I guess it would explain her actions when it comes to Nick and the Commander, although she really didn’t have a choice with the commander… but the recklessness to be with Nick, who can blame her for doing whatever it takes to feel even slightly human again… even though she judges herself harshly for exactly that…

You don’t get all the information at once, and it’s set in present time with occasional flashbacks that offer some backstory of how you ended up in the beginning. I don’t think the delivery really matches with the very end of the book ((view spoiler)
Clare Danes was an awesome narrator, and I’m actually really glad that I listened to this on audio instead of reading it myself, because the writing was made to be read aloud and appreciated for it’s beauty and cadence… I’m not Margaret Atwood so I can’t even really describe it, but it was almost like seeing it and feeling it instead of just hearing…

The ending was ambiguous, but I think it was perfect. Something like this shouldn’t have a clear-cut, quick and easy ending. Because why should there be an ending when it hasn’t yet ended?


Audiobook Review

Audiobook Review: The Fireman


Let me just state, first and foremost, I really loved this book. I haven’t read that much of Joe Hill’s stuff, but I obviously know who he’s related to, and I’m a super-fan of King. Which is also why it was pretty difficult to ignore the similarities between this dystopian novel, and The Stand. They’re completely different, yet a lot alike.

The similarities though… Not only do we have a deaf boy called Nick, but we also have a guy called Harold who hated everyone in the community and kept a diary filled with his hateful thoughts. A little meta, but Hill didn’t just draw from his father’s work. Mary Poppins had a significant role, and even J.K. Rowling was dragged in. It was a little disconcerting, but to be fair, these people are pretty big in real life, and it wouldn’t be weird for me to come across conversations about them or their works. I guess that’s what made it disconcerting… it made it feel like this book is set in our world… not a fictional one.

In the Fireman, we see a dystopia where people get infected with Dragonskin (I actually prefer it’s medical name; Draco Incendia Trychophyton, which has a beautiful, almost poetic ring to it), which seems to cause whoever is infected to spontaneously combust. Understandably, there’s a panic, and all kinds of shit goes down. What’s left is split between the healthy and the infected, with the healthy paranoid about staying that way.
This, of course, brings out the worst of humanity, and you have people who embrace their own sociopathic tendencies and use the legitimate fear of others to fan the flames of hysteria. Of course, after that it’s easy to justify genocide… you know, it’s for the good of everyone else.

We follow Harper, our Mary-Sue main character who is obsessed with Mary Poppins and tries to emulate her in everything she does, who gets infected with Dragonscale pretty early on. She is also pregnant, and determined to be delivered of her baby because she’s sure he’ll be healthy. Her husband doesn’t agree, and in trying to escape him and the people who kill the infected “for the greater good”, she is found by The Fireman and taken to a community of infected people. Here, she finds out that being infected doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to combust, as long as you give the spore what it craves… Oxytocin. I immediately wondered why this is not bigger news, but of course, scared people don’t necessarily listen to reason. Especially if they have a figurehead telling them what to think and how to feel and what to do.

The funny thing is… even in this community of infected, that same mentality prevails. To be perfectly blunt, it’s more like a cult, but at first, everyone was really good and accepting. Of course, this doesn’t last, and because Harper doesn’t want to blindly go along with everyone and join the crazy, she gets ostracized. The worst, or maybe the best, thing this novel does, is make it easy to understand how it can happen. When you’re scared, you look for someone to look up to, someone who will protect you. You’ll go looking for acceptance and security, holding on to even the slightest hint of it with a fanatic zeal. If someone or something threatens that thin membrane of security, you’ll do anything to stop it from breaking through. Anything.

The Fireman is different than the rest of the affected people though. While they can only keep the dragonscale from turning them into human blowtorches, he seems to be able to control it. He doesn’t want to share how he does it though… he’s a bit of an ass actually. But also likeable. I see David Tennant in his role if there’s a movie deal in the future…

While he does his fair share of saving the day, Harper isn’t your average damsel in distress. In fact, she generally goes around saving herself and everyone else, including The Fireman. Inevitably, they fall in love, and while I liked both characters separately, I wasn’t much of a fan of the way Hill wrote their relationship. It felt kind of forced and desperate, which it might well have been. Luckily that wasn’t a huge factor and I could look the other way while they bumbled through a very unconvincing romance…

There was a lot going on in this book, and I guess it wasn’t perfect. But I very much enjoyed the story. I loved that nothing was rushed, and he took his time to get the story out there. Sure, most of the time it was pretty obvious what was going on and what would happen, but it’s always been about the journey for me. A lot of times, that’s where authors go wrong. They think they have to rush. Sure, if the story ain’t any good, rush away, but with something like this, it’s like a slow burn (excuse the pun), and if you try and force the flames too quickly, you’re more likely to smother and kill it.

More than anything else, this book made me fear for humanity, because let’s face it, this kind of mentality is alive and well, even in today’s age where there isn’t an obvious threat like disease. But if someone convinces you that there is a threat, but that they can help if you give them the power… well, people can be gullible. And horrible.