Audiobook Review

Audiobook Review: Career of Evil

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My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Arrrrrgggghhhh! How you wanna go and end the book like that! OMG no, come on!

some-time-later
Ok, I’ve come down from that ending (which still pisses me off) and think I can manage a coherent review now.

There was a lot going on in this book, and we learned a lot more about Robin and Strike than the trickles of information from the previous books. Their relationship shifted slightly and we finally had acknowledgement of the sexual tension between them, although we’re still left without any relief or hope that anything will ever happen.

I enjoyed learning more about the 3 suspects that the duo investigated, although they were despicable to the last. The brief chapters we got from the killers point of view was also no fun, and it made me feel okay about the prospect of being single for the foreseeable future. I know it’s fiction, but sadly, it’s firmly grounded in fact.

The investigation was tedious, with a lot of time spent on surveillance… which I guess is a good approximation of the actual profession and highlights that being an investigator isn’t all chasing criminals and catching killers. It was also pretty obvious from at least halfway through who the killer was… although I had some weird dreams last night where I woke up convinced that it was in fact Matthew…

On the subject of Matthew… what didn’t make sense to me is that we see this picture of Robin as a strong character, but that doesn’t reflect in her relationship with Matthew. Obviously there should be more, things that we don’t see that explains the love Robin feels for this character that is so obviously written to be the cliché’d douchebag boyfriend, but instead we’re left with this picture of the last person on earth someone like Robin would like. It doesn’t make sense and it feels like a cheap trick used by the author to direct the reader a specific way.

Specifically, we seem to be pushed to root for more between Robin and Strike, which is obviously the main relationship here… but surely there are other ways to create the will they/won’t they undertone than to create this awesome female character that is supposed to be strong and smart and incredible — then you saddle her with an insufferable Ken doll as a boyfriend and a backstory to “explain” her motivations.

And that’s another thing… this book focused a lot on various sensitive subjects… mostly about some of the abuse and prejudice women are subjected to. There are some graphic scenes of violence that will most definitely trigger unhappy memories in each and every woman who reads this book. The main theme is misogyny and the power men hold over women. Even Strike can be an insufferable sexist pig.

I want to ask why Robin had to be given that particular history, but on the other hand it’s a common enough occurrence that it’s completely plausible. People will say that it’s unnecessary and a dirty trick used to make Robin a martyr, but I don’t feel that. I think Rowling gave Robin that experience to show readers who might not know how something like that can affect your life, but it doesn’t define you and you can still be a hero even if someone made you a victim too. The two are not mutually exclusive.

The guy who narrated this book (and the previous ones in the series) was amazing. He had exactly the right tone and accent for each character and brought them to vivid life in my mind. The action sequences were done so well that I almost hyperventilated, and his natural English accent was extremely drool-inducing.

So in conclusion, even though I felt like Rowling was using trickery to try and manipulate me, I still think this was the best of the series so for. And even though that ending was infuriating, it left me salivating for the next one… which doesn’t even have an expected publication date yet!

P.S. I love the casting 😀

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Book Review

Book Review: Assassin’s Quest

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****Spoilers Abound****

Man, what a ride. This book was so long, but it was all good. Everything that happened and that was described felt absolutely necessary in the scheme of things, and I didn’t skip a word. It completely absorbed me and when I finished I felt like I had finished a journey of my own.

In fact, it could have been even longer, because I’d have loved to have more detail of when Verity and Kettricken swooped down on Buckkeep and how they finally defeated the Red Ships. I’m not completely satisfied with Fitz’s recounting of it, and the explanation of how Forging was done doesn’t feel right. I mean it kind of makes sense if you stretched your belief within the scope of the world, but no… I need to know more.

And I need to know more about Fitz’s journeys as well. I want to know more about his year with Black Rolf and what he learned. Suddenly six years have passed and he’s acting like an old man when I make him still in his 20’s. Only six years have passed but now Nighteyes is graying when that would make him less than 10 years old. I mean surely wolves live longer than that!

The quick overview of what happened feels like a teaser and after spending so much time and emotional energy on this journey, I feel cheated out of a satisfying closure. There’s enough teased at in the last chapter to fill another book at least! My only consolation is the fact that I know there is more Fitz in the future books.

Coming back to the actual quest, I must say it was a good one. I like how Fitz is not your typical hero. He’s not so fanatically (okay maybe a little) loyal to the crown that he would give up his own child to it. He doesn’t even really want to do any of what he is doing, but is forced into it because of Verity’s skill imprint. All he really wants to do is find Molly and his child and lead a quiet life with them. Even though I never thought Molly was right for him, and I knew that would mean no more adventures, I like Fitz enough to want that for him too.

His PTSD is also heartbreaking, and I found myself missing the berserker of the second book. I hated Regal even more for what he had done, reducing Fitz to a cowering boy instead of the powerful warrior we had come to know and love (and maybe fear a little). I was all for him following through with his original plan of assassinating Regal, but ultimately I agreed that a better mission was to go looking for Verity.

The characters in this book were mostly familiar, with Kettricken and the Fool playing big parts in the quest. Chade and Burrich make appearances, Burrich mostly in Fitz’ skill dreams, but generally they didn’t play as big parts as formerly, and I found myself sort of missing them… especially Burrich. But then we got Starling and Kettle to make up the rest of the team, and as far as secondary characters go, they were okay. Both were irritating, but I liked them well enough.

There was a lot of intrigue sprinkled through the book, like when Starling tells Fitz that the Fool is a woman and I started questioning everything I ever thought I knew. Looking back over everything, I realized it was entirely possible that the Fool could actually be a woman. In fact, was it even gendered at all? Maybe it was a hermaphrodite. And when Fitz actually tried to ask him about it, he never confirmed or denied anything conclusively, except for maybe making a reference as to how he should have shown Starling his manhood when she mentioned “green manhood”. So from that, I think I’ll just go on and believe it’s a he, until proven otherwise.

The thing that really threw me started with the opening paragraphs of chapter 31. That already spoke of betrayal and his child being given up to the king. I thought the one who betrayed him would be Molly, maybe Burrich if I stretched. But then it turns out the elfbark actually hampers the Skill and suddenly it was Chade. That spiraled off into countless other deceptions and betrayals and I was actually freaking out a little. If the betrayer was Chade, that changed everything! Eventually, I carried on reading and the true betrayal came to light, but man, that was a stressful hour…

And last but not least, Regal. Spoiled, petty, clueless Regal. Who cared more about winning and power than what it entailed. I have to take a step back from my intense dislike of him and look at the bigger picture. Sure he needs to take responsibility for his actions and his beliefs and such, but if you think about it, his mother was a horrible person and did quite a number on him. She had fed and stoked his jealousy, planting delusions of grandeur in his head and making him believe he was so much better than Chivalry and Verity and should have inherited the crown instead. She basically moulded him, and if he had been stronger of character, or if someone else like Verity or Chivalry had spent more time with him and included him more, he could have turned out different. Or maybe not. As it is, I laughed when he was killed by the ferret.

Book Review

Book Review: Drums of Autumn

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Rating: 4 Stars
Date Started: 29 February
Date Finished: 29 March
Format: Ebook
Pages: 880
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

It’s been about 3 years since I read the last book in the series, and I honestly have no idea why I waited so long to continue! I just finished watching the 2 seasons of Outlander that deals with the first two books, so that’s what prompted me to pick where I left off… but I honestly couldn’t remember a single thing about the 3rd book except that it involved pirates and they washed up on the shores of America… even after reading the wiki for book 3 I still had trouble remembering, though I’m 100% sure I read it and enjoyed it! Luckily the wiki reminded me enough to not be completely lost, and there were also a couple of references and reminders in DoA, so at least I don’t feel like I have to re-read it to know what’s going on… not that re-reading it would be a bad thing, but my Reading Challenge would suffer immeasurably.

DG is a brilliant storyteller and has such a way with words that you don’t even notice the pages flying past. Even though this was another monster sized book, I didn’t feel like it was that long. Not a lot of huge exciting stuff happened, though at the same time, a lot of exciting things happened in a normal run-of-the-mill daily life in the 1700’s kind of way…

Drums of Autumn picks up after Jamie and Claire wash up on American shores, and chronicles their years there. You’ve got slaves, Red Indians, Immigrants… and all the drama that goes along with it. It’s another fascinating look at the history of a place, and this was very close to the beginning years of modern America. Generally it’s a well known history, so it’s nothing that you didn’t really know, but DG goes into much more detail for a closer look at customs etc.

The characters are still lovable and it felt like catching up with old friends. Jamie is still his hard-headed self and Claire is still feisty. We’re also seeing much more of Brianna and Roger this time around, while other characters like Fergus fades into the background. That’s the one thing that GB does that I don’t really like — she spends a lot of time building characters, and then she discards them. I guess I can live with that as long as Jamie stays front and center ❤

There was a lot happening in this book, and I’m guessing that I’ll probably forget a lot of it over time as I did with Voyager. There were scenes that made me cry and Jamie made me laugh more than once. The part where Jamie meets Bree for the first time was so well done that the tears were rolling down my cheeks while I was laughing at the same time and my heart filled with emotion. I wasn’t that worried during the “stressful” bits because you kind of know that nobody’s life is really in danger, but still… I actually really want to read the next book and find out what happens with Ian and his situation. Ian and Rollo has definitely grown on me and I hope to see more of them in the next book.

On the other hand, we have Lord John who I never really liked, though I don’t actively dislike him either. I think he’s a cool enough dude though, and his actions during this book did endear him to me a bit. He’s definitely a more complex character than can be addressed in Jamie and Claire’s books, though I’ve read a couple of the Lord John stories and they weren’t great tbh…

Jamie Fraser is still my favorite book-boyfriend, and although I usually don’t like the female characters, I find myself really liking Claire. Even Bree is pretty cool. I think what makes them so likable is the fact that they are flawed. Jamie is high-handed and stubborn and I would sometimes like to kick him in the shins. Claire is hot-headed and doesn’t think before talking or acting, and sometimes you just feel like shaking her. But at the end of the day you love them, and the love they share feels more real than many other “romances” out there. I would really recommend this series to pretty much everyone, though I wish DG would cut out some of the excessive stuff. It really doesn’t need to be these huge long books, and most of the time they can probably be split into various other books! Still though… read it!

Audiobook Review, Stephen King

Audiobook Review: Mr. Mercedes

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3 Stars

First of all can I just say that I’m so done with listening to older guys getting way too into awkward sex scenes when narrating audiobooks… I wasn’t that great of a fan of the narrator in the first place and after that it just got really painful. Will Patton drawled his way through this and while it was okay most of the time, sometimes he just completely lost the plot and irritated me with the way he portrayed certain characters. I’m also sure that the book was 100% longer than it needed to be because he insisted on maintaining a snail’s pace… but that’s up for debate.

Moving on… I’m a big King fan, but I’m not blind to his faults. Hey, everyone has them, so who am I to judge right? I know he’s a great writer and most of the time I absolutely adore his work, but honestly this isn’t the first time I didn’t love something he did. I’m not sure if this is true, because even though I’m a fan I haven’t read all his work, but I think this is the first time he’s tackled the crime thriller genre; and yeah I’m going to vote that he gives it up and sticks to horror… although I’m willing to stick it out for the rest of this series.

The characters felt recycled and thin, trying too hard to be either liked or hated. Hodges is supposed to be one of the best detectives his county had, but throughout this book he does the stupidest things and flagrantly disregards the law in multiple instances. Yet he’s kind of forced down your throat as the good guy, the one you’re rooting for. I mean if he was just any other old Joe who was flirting with thoughts of ending it after retiring and realizing that he created his whole existence around his work and is now nothing without it… so yeah okay maybe he needed this “case” to save himself. But I still don’t think his actions were corresponding to the person we’re told he is…

Brady Hartfield is your run of the mill “bad guy”. He’s impossibly hateful and mostly insane, but also super smart and lucky. He blames everyone but himself for his actions as well as the repercussions and his mommy issues are sometimes cringeworthy but mostly it’s recycled psycho stuff. Said mommy probably had a lot to do with how he turned out though, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she also had a nest of snakes in her brain because damn she was screwed up…

In the supporting cast nobody felt genuine or even original (except maybe Holly… she was refreshingly crazy). The plot itself was patchy and needed too many excuses to be even a little bit believable. Most of the time Hodges takes things for granted, doesn’t make obvious connections and just generally mucks things up even more than they already are. Honestly, without his “supporting characters” he probably wouldn’t have gotten far at all and Brady would have gotten his wish…

Having said all that, this was still enjoyable enough to keep me listening, and King’s writing is always uniquely riveting. I’ll give the series another chance and pick up Finders Keepers next, although I don’t have much hope of character improvement…

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.

Movie Review

Avengers: Age of Ultron

My Rating: 5 Stars

1st Watch

OMG I loved this movie. I’m not a movie critic though, so I have the (seemingly) unique ability to move past the clunky and iffy scenes and still enjoy what’s in front of me.

I watched the movie in IMAX 3D, and while it was really great, I would have been just as happy if I had only stuck to normal 2D. Something that really upset me and made me feel like I had wasted my money, is the fact that if I just even slightly tilted my head, I got that 3D multicolour shimmer on the screen… Call me crazy, but I didn’t expect that from Imax 3D.

Anyway, on to the movie. I’m going to try and do this from the beginning and as much as I can remember, but honestly, there was just so much happening that I’m 100% sure I missed quite a bit.

BE WARNED — THERE ARE SPOILERS!!!

So it started out all-out action, and everyone is together again. It kind of had me feeling like I had missed out on a prologue, but I got over it quickly. I would have liked to see how it happened that they were all together again, but instead you’re just dropped slap bang in the middle of an epic battle with Hulk all hulked out and Iron Man (who blew up all his suits in IM3, but okay he’s a genius millionaire so I guess he built another one, as well as a legion of suits as a guard or something, idk) flying around being witty. That’s one (of the many) thing this movie had going for it… it was funny!

Anyway, so then we get to after the battle and we find out BW sings a lullaby (?) to Hulk and this brings back Bruce… yeah, weird. Definitely more of those “I missed the prologue” vibes, but acceptable. I mean, it’s not like it flows immediately from the previous movie I guess. Lots of time between Winter Soldier and Ultron.

Anyway, then we get to an after party and BW is flirting with Bruce. At first I thought she was just fucking with him, because I honest to God never saw that one coming, but then it turns out she really does have the hots for him. WTF? Thinking back on the first Avengers movie, yeah okay maybe, but honestly it felt kind of forced and awkward. BW is one of my fave avengers, and although I’ve read a lot of complaints from the fandom that she was made out to look like a love-sick schoolgirl, I think it’s great that she can be the bad ass that she is and still have room in her heart for love… I just wished it was with the Cap… Also Bruce helped Stark create Ultron, and he’s got the whole mad scientist vibe… which is fine I guess, but I just really don’t think he’s Nat’s type… I would have shipped her with Iron Man before considering Bruce…

Anyway, so now we have Ultron on the loose and everyone is freaking out and Stark is up for arrest, and so now Clint says he’s taking them all to a safe house and bam, we’re hit with the next WTF moment when he takes them to a farmhouse where we’re introduced to his wife and kids… WHERE THE FUCK DID THAT EVEN COME FROM?!?!?!? Right there I saw the fandom lose it’s shit, and again, it felt so utterly ooc for Hawkeye… like we know him as this bad ass agent who kicks ass and takes names, but now we’re expected to believe he’s been secretly going home to a wife and kids all the time? That just did not make sense at all, but okay, I’ll roll with it. He deserves happiness after all, so good for him… but a hint might have been nice, y’know?

All this time, Captain America is being really awesome and cool and Bucky isn’t even mentioned. Like not once do we even get a hint of continuity from Winter Soldier. I mean I walked away from Winter Soldier with the feeling that Bucky was Cap’s priority no.1, but here we have him casually cutting wood with Stark (delighting the Stony shippers, I’m sure (now that I think back on it… there were a lot of Stony moments…)). Oh, and Tony admits that Cap’s in charge… queue “I missed the prologue” feeling. Anyway, over that too. The story line was compelling enough to keep me rolling past these issues.

Okay, so that’s pretty much it for the irritating little niggles I felt during the movie. After that it’s just all kinds of awesome and I was literally bouncing on my seat (sorry to the people behind me) and squealing very unladylikely… Vision, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and Ultron were fucking awesome characters and I loved what James Spader did with Ultron!

I liked the ending, where we get the groundwork for the next movies laid out, and we get a glimpse of the new Avengers team (lead by romanogers). Then I almost pissed myself with excitement when Cap started saying the thing… and then I felt really played and betrayed when it cut off before he could finish!!! I just want him to say it… is that too much to ask? Just once!!! (And again no mention of Bucky, but nevermind, we’re over that…)

Conclusion?

I laughed, I squealed, I was shocked, I cried, I was thoroughly and completely entertained, and I’m planning on going back… as soon as possible!