Review: EXTASIA by Claire Legrand (2022)

Genre: Adult Nonfiction
Year Release: 2022
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warning: religious trauma, misogyny, dead parent (mother), dead dog, attempted sexual assault, suicide (mentioned), vomiting, gore

Extasia takes place in a post apocalypse where supposedly the last bastion of humanity is a village called Haven, run by patriarchal fundamentalists who believe that a woman’s role is to be a pure baby maker. The main character, whose saint name is Amity, has wanted nothing more than to be a saint, especially after her mother was ousted from the village. But she catches two other girls wandering off to a coven of literal witches, and suddenly, she has an idea to put an end to the increasingly mysterious and gory deaths of the men in Haven once and for all.

The magic is very real and the cult seems omnipotent, this book is a little less The VVitch and little more like The Village, but definitely in conversation with works like The Grace Year by Kim Liggett.

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Review: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind (2013)

Genre: Adult Nonfiction
Year Release: 2013
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warning: misogyny, suicide

Finally, at long last, I have been granted the ability to listen to this mess of a tale. Enron started off as a natural gas company looking to disrupt the industry which turned into strict trading of energy that led to an energy crisis that endangered and disrupted the lives of millions. There’s much economic and office-political maneuvering to be found within this book.

Fascinating in its deception and complexity, the authors of this account provide fiction-esque portrayals of the key players while keeping in mind the vast losses and far-reaching consequences.

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Review: THE MEMORY LIBRARIAN: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe (2022)

Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Year Release: 2022
Source: Audible

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: gendered violence, parental death, brain washing, gun violence, state-sanctioned violence

This collection takes place in a world where memories can be hard encoded and people essentially function like computers. New Dawn has strict ideas of what being a functioning member of society means. Though there’s echoes of a utopia, it’s a full on surveillance state. Each of the five stories found within the collection takes on a different angle in how New Dawn poses a danger both for those within the system and those beyond it.

Thoughtfully woven together with rad stories and characters, incredible world-building, this was a delight to read, and I’m excited to dive into the source material (Dirty Computer, 2018) in the near future.

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Review: THE RESTING PLACE by Camilla Sten (2022)

Genre: Adult Thriller
Year Release: 2022
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warning: murder, miscarriage, vomiting, gore, suicide, child abuse, child neglect

Eleanor has prosopagnosia – face blindness, which is very convenient when an unknown assailant leaves her grandmother, Vivianne, dead before a routine weekly dinner. She learns from a lawyer that her grandmother left an estate, but the stay turns deadly when accidents start taking place and it’s a race against something to unearth all of Vivianne’s secrets.

This thriller has a tightly knit mystery alternating between past and present within an ancestral manor.

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Review: UNMASKED: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes (2022)

Genre: Adult Nonfiction
Year Release: 2022
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warning: panic attacks, suicide, rape, sexual assault, drug abuse, alcoholism, murder, gore, PTSD

Paul Holes is perhaps best known as the detective who found the Golden State Killer. In this book, he details his life, from how he became obsessed with investigative work through his career solving murders. It’s insightful and deeply empathetic not only of the victims, but of those lives Paul touched, yet ultimately left behind.

A memoir about solving cold cases that outlines both the personal and interpersonal costs associated with trying to get closure for some of the worst that humanity has to offer.

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Review: WOMAN, EATING by Claire Kohda (2022)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: 2022
Source: Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warning: Sexual harassment (physical and verbal), sexual assault, gore, animal violence, hospice care

Lydia is a vampire and, for the first time in her adult life, she’s on her own. She’s dropped off her mother at a long term care center. She’s taken up residence in a studio, around humans and artists. This book explores Lydia navigating on her own at the crossroads of human and animal, looking back on what being human has meant all her life versus the experience she’s living now.

Incredibly introspective and melancholy in the way it approaches vampirism as a means to explore loneliness, human connection, and finding one’s place in the world.

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Review: THE PARIS APARTMENT by Lucey Foley (2022)

Genre: Adult Thriller
Year Release: 2022
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warning: vomiting, sex trafficking, drug abuse, alcoholism, murder, gore

Jess goes to Paris for a fresh start on her brother’s invitation. But once she arrives at the ritzy Paris apartment building where he’s taken up residence, something is wrong. She can’t reach Ben. All the neighbors are cagey, and she just wants to know where her brother is. Secrets abound as a conspiracy unfolds.

A slow burn of a mystery in which everybody is a suspect with enough bread crumbs to give readers room to figure out the resolution themselves.

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Review: I’M SO (NOT) OVER YOU by Kosoko Jackson (2022)

Genre: Adult Romance
Year Release: 2022
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: sexual harassment (challenged), homophobia (challenged), anxiety, car accident, vomiting

Some of my recent reads flattened me emotionally, so I sought some lighter fare. Thankfully, my hold from the library lifted, and I got to read a romance novel. This one is about Hudson and Kian, who are exes. As the title suggests, Kian thinks he’s healed from the heartbreak, but then Hudson invites him as his plus one to a wedding at his family’s estate. Wedding hijinks, pop culture references, and second chances ensue.

A steamy romance between two gay men of color as they overcome their own insecurities to find support in each other, regardless their past.

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Review: UNACCEPTABLE: Privilege, Deceit & the Making of the College Admissions Scandal by Melissa Korn & Jennifer Levitz (2020)

Genre: Adult Nonfiction
Year Release: 2020
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook

Yes. I’m still inhaling everything I can about fraud. Fraudsters did a whole series, including interviews with the authors of this book who did the investigating (the episodes start with 36: Rick Singer Part I). While the series is thorough, I did want to get at it from the source.

The saga of the college admissions scandal is much stranger than even the reports can come out. It’s a story of the desperation to prove oneself and having awfully specific goals that supersede decency. It’s also a scathing condemnation at the ridiculousness that is applying to college for which there is no real solution as long as branding and exclusivity take priority over the quality of education.

A great read if you want to make fun of the ridiculousness of rich people and also get incredibly angry about privilege and gaming systems that already bend towards those who are winning.

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Review: THE ICEPICK SURGEON: Murder, Fraud, Sabotage, Piracy, and Other Dastardly Deeds Perpetrated in the Name of Science by Sam Kean (2021)

Genre: Adult Nonfiction
Year Release: 2021
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: slavery, nonconsensual medical experimentation, torture, Nazis

I’ve been on a bit of a fraud kick lately (I highly recommend listening to Fraudsters for the corporate side of things). With the Theranos saga mostly coming to an end, I’ve been hunting for some new scandal to get into. Mentioned in the American Scandal podcast was the story of Annie Dookhan, who inflated her drug sample testing records, this book was listed as the primary source. Naturally, I got into the entire thing.

A collection of stories ranging the full gamut of possible crimes, from sabotage, fraud, murder, war crimes, and nonconsensual medical experimentation that blames the contemporary establishments as much as it condemns the individuals involved.

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