A reader who’ll try anything once, including bad books in search of good ones. Eclectic as her tastes are, she tends to gravitate to historical romances, realistic contemporaries, and some fantasy novels.
This book is slooooooow. And not just because the narrator's pace. I'm pretty sure I would've given up already if this wasn't an audiobook.
But, I'm liking it.
First things first:
I listened to the audiobook and I do like Kate Rudd's voice even if I don't think she can really do good accents or male voices. I mostly adapted to her style and it worked for the story. I don't know if I'd seek for more books she's narrated—probably not—but I wouldn't skip on a book because she's voiced it either.
Then the story:
I actually had to pause and restart this audiobook because I felt like I was missing something important at the beginning. It turns out this really wasn't the case as Walker uses ample time to set up the world and story simply because time travel as a concept is just that confusing. Others have called this a pacing issue and info dumping, but I can't say I noticed as I was listening to the audiobook.
I did, however, notice how the author introduced new characters who became super important to the protagonist in a blink of an eye, even if I didn't label and file it under "characters too stupid to live" until later.
Other things that did bother me, were the main character and first person voice narrator calling a character "Pudgy" long after she'd learned his name. This fat-phobia resurfaced when Kate's—the time travelling protagonist—boyfriend took her home for dinner and she made a comment about how thin Trey is despite all the food his family's Guatemalan housekeeper keeps pushing at him and everyone at the table.
Speaking of secondary POC characters. I completely missed Charlayne's (African American, thankfully the author tweeted me and set me right *wipes forehead & flicks fingers*) description, but then again she only featured in a handful of scenes. She's supposed to be Kate's best friend and motivate her to keep time jumping, but it's not like she has her own personality on the page. You could even call her the token black character and you'd be right.
Other than a vague feeling of something not being quite right and the use of words "blood as pure as mine" when Kate's talking about her time travelling gene, I can't really pinpoint my problem with race in this book. An expert—which is to say a non white person—could tell you more.
There's a love triangle in this book and series.
If you need to know more, keep reading.
One of the love interests is another time jumper from an earlier time who is supposed to be a villain to some but is quite obviously helping Kate in her quest to correct the time shifts. Thing is, I couldn't care less about Kiernan Dunne and he's obviously supposed to be the one who ends up with Kate. Kiernan is from the past and in love with another version of Kate from another timeline, but when has that stopped a creative author?
I did however like Trey, one of the insta-love contenders of the year and a contemporary guy from one of Kate's changed timelines. Unlike with Kiernan, Walker actually shows how Trey and Kate grow closer and could be good together. And I figured he'd be the one she'd have to sacrifice to fix things, which made me like him all the more right up until the point where he insisted that all she had to do was to smile at him for him to fall in love with her again. It wouldn't matter what she'd say.
And I just can't with that. Neither can I with the fact that Kate's supposedly ready to have sex with Trey just after she's been threatened with rape. I was expecting that particular discussion to happen but I'd hoped the mere threat to her life would've sufficed to prompt it. After all, they might never see each other again after Kate's next time jump.
As for the big bad, I liked that it was basically a family feud combined with religion. It gave me ideas and hopes, which I do not trust the author to fulfill or win me over with her own interpretation.
I just wasn't sure about that until the author tweeted me.
I like Kate Rudd's voice, but I don't think she can do convincing male voices. She tries, and nope.
The story itself has a few problems but I'm hooked so far.
If this had been written by a man about a man, I would've already ran away screaming because PRETENTIOUSNESS. But as it is a novel written by a woman about a woman (for now at least) and it's DELIGHTFUL!
"The giggles stopped dead, but she didn't mind the slap any more than last night. Probably all her boy friends got around to slapping her sooner or later. I could understand how they might. I sat down on the end of the black desk again."
And that is where I stopped trying to get into this book and discarded this into the shit pile it belongs to.
A fan of Russian roulette? Craving for something more dangerous?
FEAR NOT! I have the drinking game for you!
You need to buy roughly as much alcohol as you'd normally consume in two years. Then double it and add few bottles extra. Looks better, but you should really make two more trips and you'll be set!
Pick a copy of Shadow of the Sun by Laura Kreitzer. Audiobook not necessary but Tavia Gilbert's voice will help you along in those short moments between sips.
Listen to the first chapter and choose your phrases. As tempting as it might be, I suggest avoiding words "my mind" and "my brain" for your health. You don't want to pass out during chapter two, do you? Also smirking and all instances where Gabriella (B-Ella for those closest to her) is a horrible person or tells a 'cute' factoid of herself should be reserved for advanced players only.
Listen to chapter three and call for the ambulance.
Drink. Listen and drink.
Listen to chapter five and pass out.
Regain consciousness, take some hair of the dog and start counting ways this story is really nothing more than a Twilight fanfiction with Angels and worse writing.
Put Tavia Gilbert's magical voice on double speed and try to hold your fatty breakfast inside.
Keep listening. Your morning migraine will pale in comparison.
Drink some more.
I assume by this point you're somewhere around chapter ten. Stop and save yourself. I didn't and I'm telling you what comes after isn't worth your time, health or sanity.
The first person voice narrator is a horrible person. In chapter one.
But the audiobook narrator (Tavia Gilbert) is magic. So I'll suffer for my Audible sale mistakes.
Post-American Civil War "inspirational" romance novel set on a Plantation in 'Dixie' isn't a thing I'd normally read. But see, I have this friend who recommended Tavia Gilbert as an audiobook narrator and I wanted to read a stand-alone book before committing to an "impossible to keep up with the reading order" series.
You can thank Tavia Gilbert for the second star, because without her voice and narration I wouldn't have finished this book.
Olivia is a destitute widow of a traitor and Ridley is a traitor soldier for the North looking for a new start. He's determined to learn horse-mastery from a black man he met during the war and she's relying on nepotism for her new start. Of course nothing goes as planned, but I did like the parallels of Ridley learning to handle a skittish mare and gaining the animal's trust just as he had to earn Olivia's trust.
The thing is, the setting is inherently racist, but the story didn't have to be. Alexander could've shown just how ugly and difficult it was for everyone to adjust to the end of slavery, but instead she tiptoes around the issue. Sure there are overtly racist characters who are frowned upon but mostly tolerated and there's actual violence, but that too is sanitised.
The black characters, freed slaves, have returned willingly to work on the Belle Meade Plantation. Apparently all of them since no one is mentioned missing or departed. Suspending my disbelief on that and accepting that the loyal servants stayed for whatever unmentioned reasons, they seemingly have no life outside serving their white betters and worshipping in their church. All the delightful characters I wanted to know more about existed only to share their wisdom with the white protagonists on their way to enlightenment and God. And yet, somehow, Alexander finds a way to add depth and complexity to her secondary white characters...
Then there was the owner of Belle Meade Plantation, General Harding. A Confederate soldier who refused to cut his beard until the South won the war. Spoiler: His beard remains uncut at the end of the book. He continually idealises the South, but is never forced to admit that he wants to reinstitute slavery. He agrees to pay his black workers the same wage as their white counterparts when someone suggests it him but at the same time voices his opinion that the black race is only fit for manual labour. He respects Robert Green, his head hostler, a black man and former slave, but doesn't even think about promoting him to the position of a foreman.
And for all this he is venerated. Harding is respected by the main protagonists who both come to see black people as people instead of cattle to be auctioned. General Harding is so respected by the romantic hero of this book that Ridley Cooper cannot leave Harding's employ without revealing his secret about fighting for the North and against the South and in doing so Ridley risks losing the extra pay he earned for himself. No, Ridley chooses to let General Harding decide whether or not Ridley should keep the money.
The underlying theme in this book is getting the Belle Meade Plantation, and by extension the South, back on its financial legs. It's just a little difficult to see under all that inspirational frosting.
(reblogged from OkayAfrica)
Random thoughts I had while listening to this book:
1. I like her voice. Not so much his.
2. When was this story set again? I don't remember smart phones in the 1990's. Oh, it's contemporary...
3. That was it?
4. You know what, dear author, some of us watched the show because of Scully. Some of us tolerated Mulder because she tolerated him.
5. I have no memory of what happened half an hour ago, which is to say I've forgotten how this story started.
6. Audible Sales are dangerous.
7. I can't remember Scully being this...passive-irrelevant-helpless in the show. Either my memory is playing tricks on me or Man, they really don't know how to write women.
8. HA! Of course I already hate one of the two women authors in this anthology. *sobs*
9. Holy fucking Islamphobic implosion! There wasn't any need for that shit here.
10. Man, they really don't know how to write a woman.
11. This first person voice story from Scully's point of view was, naturally, written by a man.
12. I started out resenting the male narrator but he's doing his part carrying me through to the end of this book.
13. Is this a man's idea of ending the anthology on a romantic titillating note?
I didn't even think about the rating for this book until the story took a bit wobbly turn towards the end and I immediately dropped a star from then four star rating in my head. Well, that wobbly turn and the speshul snowflake neon signs the author dragged out.
Other than that, I feel like I should've read this in school and get to write a proper essay on analysing all the things and comparing it to my own teen years which came a little after the 91-92 when this is set. And of course comparing this book to the brilliant My Mad Fat Diary (show since I've not read the book), but I'm sure others have done it already. Better than I could.
I've been told that the film adaptation is good too, but I'm not sure yet if I want to watch it.
Apparently you can't be both a Twilight and an X-files fan. At least that's what Paul Crilley thought when he wrote "Dusk".
Thanks for that shaming.
So far, all the stories have been written by men and it shows in Scully's character. Me not likey, much. Although I like Hillary Huber's voice and narration. Bronson Pinchot hasn't totally won me over, yet.
For future reference I copied the Table of Contents from a GR review:
01 - Introduction - Jonathan Maberry
5 - "Catatonia" by Tim Lebbon
37 - "The Beast of Little Hill" by Peter Clines
67 - "Oversight" by Aaron Rosenberg
85 - "Dusk" by Paul Crilley
117 - "Loving the Alien" by Stefan Petrucha
145 - "Non Gratum Anus Rodentum" by Brian Keene
167 - "Back in El Paso My Life Will be Worthless" by Keith R.A. DeCandido
193 - "Paranormal Quest" by Ray Garton
225 - "King of the Watery Deep" by Timothy Deal
251 - "Sewers" by Gini Koch
281 - "Clair de Lune" by W.D. Gagliani and David Benton
297 - "It’s All in the Eyes" by Heather Graham
323 - "The House on Hickory Hill" by Max Allan Collins
359 - "Time and Tide" by Gayle Lynds and John C. Sheldon
387 - "Statues" by Kevin J. Anderson
413 - Author Bios
I said about Deadline that Shaun deserves better. In here, it's all about Shaun and his pain and frankly, all of the After The End Times deserves better. Everyone else's pain was pushed aside and Georgia's journalistic guilt crisis seemed to come out of nowhere.
I didn't mind the—I meant it about the spoiler tag—incest revelation and I was kind of expecting it after Shaun said in his book that "sex hadn't been a thing in post-George world" (paraphrasing) or before that if we're honest. I did mind the throwaway line about George and Shaun getting DNA tests before to make sure, as if that'd make it okay. They're still breaking the taboo—as George acknowledges—but the only way their DNA matters is if they're planning on procreating. And neither of the adopted Masons strikes me the kind of a character interested in cribs or midnight feedings.
I minded missing the emotional beats in the character arcs and focusing on the governmental crisis that fell on its arse like a clown in a circus. Except with less practiced grace.
As for the narrators. Paula Christensen continued to be brilliant and Michael Goldstrom was not. Well, he wasn't bad but I liked Deadline's Chris Patton better and Goldstrom's voice just wasn't right for Shaun.
P.S. I was eyeing the Newsflesh novella: Countdown, but I'm not anymore.
And E says Capote didn't like people much. I wonder why.
Anyway, what little impression the titular novella and the other three short stories left was distasteful and ultimately forgettable. Luckily, I won't have any problem putting this out of my mind.
Although a blonde Audrey Hepburn is a weird mental image.