Jersey City, NJ | Member Since 2010
Cinnamon & Gunpowder is one of those books that you think you can explain quickly. You can’t. The basic elements (wild-haired lady pirate, stuffy chef, excellently-named nemeses, and high-stakes adventure) combine into a fantastical gumbo as wonderful as the cooking described within. It all seemed simple at first, but then when attempting to describe the plot to a friend, I found myself standing on a chair, thrusting a cutlass at imaginary rivals, shouting “OH! OH! AND THEN—“; it begs exclamation and exuberance.
Though exciting on the surface, Brown is also telling a deeper story of corruption, loyalty, the benefits of moral ambiguity, and ultimately, how we make our families. I haven’t been this excited about a leading female character in a long time. Highly recommended for fans of Blood Bones & Butter, Bloody Jack, and Downton Abbey - Master and Commander fans, you’re encouraged to take note as well. If you like adventure, if you like pirates, if you like food, this book belongs in your library.
James Langton's narration is not entirely what I was expecting, but I think he did a good job of relaying the protagonist's worldview and generally stuffiness.
This book was fantastically written and has a great plot, but please see below for why it gets a 2 star rating from me. Spoilers. Spoilers everywhere.
Arielle DeLisle is a FANTASTIC narrator, and I will be looking for other books read by her.
Audrey McCarthy is your typical teen programmer - shy, introverted, and brilliant. She's also very poor - her dad died three years ago in a terrible work accident, and her mom is a lunch lady. When Public (read: Facebook) announces an app contest with Danny Beaton (read: Justin Bieber) as the spokesperson, she knows its her only chance to go to the college she deserves to go to. So, she programs The Boyfriend App - a sophisticated dating algorithm (read: OkCupid) with GPS capabilities that will alert you when your highest match is within 100 yards. While initially a great craze, the teenagers occasionally end up so mismatched that fights break out everywhere and BFA soon loses steam, knocking it out of the running to win. During an effort to get back in the running, Audrey accidentally discovers nefarious neurotransmitting software within Public's basic applications and OPS, and modifies it to turn BFA 2.0's female-only users into date-rape machines.
That's right, she programs the app to emit a sonic signal that elicits dopamine and oxytocin production in the brain of the user's target. User A likes Target A - she makes eye contact, turns the app on, Phone A sends a signal to Phone B, Phone B begins emitting the sonic signal, and Target A becomes her willing slave - all without knowing and/or understanding what is happening. This is sonic rohypnol.
Well, it's clear to me that you can't have a co-ed user base for this, since we would all automatically assume that boys would use it for sexy purposes and girls just use it for love and affection and makeouts. Good, clean things.
Audrey seems to understand that this is not an okay thing on an individual level, but that does not stop her from justifying its use for her gain. Two wrongs don't make a right, Audrey. This book could have a lot darker.
Of course, there's lots of techno-politics to keep it interesting - dirty corporate secrets, blackmail, all that good stuff.
It's all quite well-written. Slow in the beginning, but it picks up significantly.
I love reading about female engineers, and I love YA. This book was fantastic, but its promotion of using subliminal neurotechnology to remove a person's agency was extremely disturbing. It bothers me that Audrey didn't face any kind of consequence for that - she still gets the guy, in fact, he wasn't even doped when he came to her rescue in the first place, so that makes it all okay.
That and Katie Sise completely lifted the teenage fight/2.0 craze scene from Mean Girls - it was fun, and I understand why she would do it as it had to be a blast to write, but there was no originality there.
What a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. May contain minor spoilers.
I love how neatly everything about Gwen's family was tied up - it was an excellent decision on Gier's part to head in that direction.
I love that the butler gets in on the adventurous action!
Nothing in the world is going to convince me to get behind Gideon, however, but that's mostly because I'm really bored of the Darcy trope. I get it, he's mean because he loves you. I did like their ending, it was sweet and well-deserved.
If You Could Be Mine is the story of two girls in Tehran who have been best friends since childhood. The protagonist, Sahar, is a very smart young woman on track for the top university in Iran. Nasrin is a spoiled rich girl whose parents are intend for her to marry as soon as she leaves high school. Neither of these situations is painted as unusual in Iranian society within the context of the book. Farizan clearly establishes the country's culture without it seeming intimidating or anti-Islam.
Negin Farsad's narration makes the story more emotionally resonant than I think it would be otherwise. Sahar spends a lot of time being angry about her situation (understandable), and defensive of her decision to pursue a sex change so she might marry Nasrin instead of her fiance. Farsad easily finds the essential nuances within that anger, creating strong, unwavering characters.
As the story is in first person singular, we don't see any of Nasrin's real feelings on the subject of her impending marriage beyond her outside behavior, and what she says to Sahar. I would have liked to know the complicated feelings going on in Nasrin's head as well; it surely could not have been easy to choose duty and a life of ease, or the love of your life.
Overall, I found If You Could Be Mine thoughtful and well-written, with fully developed characters and socially relevant storylines. I liked the insight into underground queer culture in Iran. I would have rather seen a sweet ending, or a bitter ending, rather than a bittersweet one, but I'm glad Sahar was able to make the choices she did.
Oh, Francesca Lia Block, never change.
To be completely honest, I didn't even read the description for this book, so I had no idea what it was actually about until I started listening.
She wonderfully infuses grim dystopia with fairy dust. Love In The Time of Global Warming is a pretty straightforward retelling of the Odyssey, with (as usual, for her) a cast of teenagers, and mad scientists for villains.
It's lush, there's no better word to describe the writing. Smearing fairy dust under your eyes. Richly detailed.
I was never scared - I know the story of the Odyssey, but I loved the diversity of the cast, though at times it was a little too perfect. Block always makes sure to include the weird kids and the queer kids, and this book has them all in spades. I love that she breaks from heteronormativity and writes as if it matters without queerness being the focal point of the story. The journey about love is the story, about remembering your family, and how to get home.
Julia Whalen was a wonderful choice to narrate this dreamland. She gets the dreamy parts, and the exciting parts just right. She never breaks from Pen's truth.
I pre-ordered Not a Match because like many twenty-somethings living in the New York metropolitan area, I have tried internet dating. It's the the only way I to meet people and successfully filter out the creeps and crazies 100% of 75% of the time. If the cosmopolitan mating call of dark, expensive cocktail soaked lounges with too-loud music after 9 doesn't appeal to you, and for some reason your best friend's mother won't set you up with a nice Jewish boy... yeah, the internet is where its at. There are a lot of sites, a lot of members, a lot of weirdos, a lot of liars, and somewhere... SOMEWHERE... is your perfect match.
Just do the math. Literally. Brian Donovan wrote an equation for you (kind of.)
I've been on a lot of disastrous, semi-disastrous, or dull dates (and will likely go on many more), and I wish they'd been half as entertaining as Brian Donovan. His prose is sardonic, his wit dry, and his writing style entertaining.
Ax Norman was a great narrator; effusive where necessary, sarcastic in the right spots. He embodied the voice of Donovan's New York-style of storytelling very well. I kept reaching for my coffee thinking it was a cocktail and remembering I was in the office, and not a bar in the village, on a first date, listening to his stories.
This book has a great premise, and I want to try again in dead tree format.
I couldn't handle Cassandra Morris' narration - the stereotypical teen girl voice is like nails on a chalkboard for me, and I just wanted to smack her.
Can we talk about what a wonderful narrator Katherine Kellgren is? She just never drops the ball. Ever. Each recurring character is precisely the same as they have been in each previous book.
I love this series. It's pure historical fun. Heirs and Graces has a neat twist ending (with Georgie ending up rescued by someone other than Darcy, hooray!), and delightful caricatures of British nobility.
Three cheers for Eff! She is brave. Very brave.
Again, these books are a little slow, much like the lumbering traveling over prairie lands in the frontier times, but I like it. It's nice to not feel so rushed during a book.
Amanda Ronconi continues to be an excellent narrator.
I'm looking forward to Book 3! I heard there's more William, and I missed him!
First of all, Thirteenth Child's lack of romance is extremely refreshing. There are a lot of YA series out there with strong female leads, and there's almost always a romance in there... but not here. Maybe in the later books.
Eff isn't unique in her tomboy-ish characteristics; that's a familiar trope in modern YA literature, but she's more Laura Ingalls or Jo March than Katniss Everdeen. She's remarkably normal for a world full of magic - then again, this is a world where magic is seen as a given, and its the Revisionists (affirmed non-magic users) are seen as radical.
Wrede writes a world that makes no bones about life with magic being easier, and finds suitable, unexpected consequences for that magic. Magic in Columbia isn't opposite of nature, it's an instrinic part of it - and as our environment adapts and changes with our use of it, so the magic does in Eff's world.
Amanda Ronconi is a fine narrator, and I liked what she did with Eff's character and did adore the voices she chose for the men - particularly Wash, a character who appears about 2/3 of the way through the book. I don't know if it was a specific choice on her part, but she made Eff and Lan's voice relatively similar (they're twins!) and I liked that. Otherwise, the narration was a little slow, but it suited the tone of the story.
Overall, the plot isn't particularly surprising or exciting, but it's a solid tale with good world creation, and fleshed-out characters. I was able to stop and start listening with relative ease... I think it took me about two weeks to go through it, listening for a few hours every couple of days. It was easy to fall back into the story, and Amanda Ronconi helped with that familiarity a lot.
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