Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Curse of Tenth Grave (Charley Davidson, #10)The Curse of Tenth Grave by Darynda Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This novel may be my favorite of the whole bunch.

Of course, that might just be because of the whole New York purgatory bit. Am I the only one who thinks that getting out of there, getting back to Albuquerque felt SO RIGHT?

It was okay, but this one was awesome. Now we've unlocked some OP powers, some really fantastical and magical booty-calls, and we get many cool new reveals of cosmic proportions. Even the temporary plot feels more interesting when propped up against the big stuff.

:) Okay, I'm a big fan of Arc-plots. :) I live for big setups and better payoffs. This one has both.

And it's quirky. Win/win. :)

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The House in the Cerulean SeaThe House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

While there are many similarities to, say, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children series, this new book may be, in some rather startling ways, superior to both.

Sure, some magic is better with Riggs and some of the worldbuilding in McGuire is better, but when it comes down to the bare-bones core of a story, it lives, breathes, and dies on the voice, the changes, and the sheer charm of its text.

This one is simply charming. Charming in a way that made me break down in tears.

The romance aspect is sweet. Don't get me wrong. But the majority of the story wasn't about a romance.

It was about children -- bitter, damaged, but healing children -- but who are, above all, still children.

Linus, a grey and almost lifeless cog in the greater orphanage machine, is chosen, for those very qualities, to observe and make recommendations as to whether a very special orphanage is to be shut down. The colorful characters there suffer at the hands of prejudice, of course, and getting to know them is the core of this novel.

Of course, it's the WRITING that makes this particular tale. Linus has always had a particularly open outlook on life despite the greyness of his world before, and it was like he had always been waiting for the right set of circumstances to make him come alive. This is, after all, a novel of transformation, and it works in both directions. :)

I cried. Honestly. The book brought me to tears.

I can't give it higher praise than that it evoked honest tears of love and joy. :)

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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Fantastic Mr. FoxFantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It turns out that my kid and I are both Dahl fans. Not uber-fans, but we usually always have a pretty good time every time we crack a book.

THIS IS A GOOD THING. We didn't have that great a time with Narnia. Give us Gaiman, give us Dahl, and even give us Dickens, but Please, No Thank You to Lewis. :)

High points of Mr. Fox:

The bad guys look and sound not like farmers, but bankers. We have a full redistribution of wealth scheme going on here... maybe not so much Communism as it is a garden variety Socialist societal setup told within a simple tale digging holes and getting one's tail shot off.

Fortunately, it's not THAT dry. In fact, I was pretty amused to see just how much hard liquor is downed by all. I mean, it's not just theft and murder we're talking about -- but the full-on drunken debaucheries of the proletariat... FOR the proletariat!

Read it if you don't believe me. :)

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The Dirt on Ninth Grave (Charley Davidson, #9)The Dirt on Ninth Grave by Darynda Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After the doozy of the prior book, it's not so surprising that Charley needed to hit the reset button. OR that Darynda had to hit the reset button.

This is a light-ish UF even though we deal with the dead and ghosts wanting to get closure and Satan's son is a big squeeze, etc., but when you tip over into the OP category, there has to be some kind of counterbalance.

As long as I don't come across THIS particular counterbalance *coughamnesiacough* too often in my reading, I let it slide because it IS awfully convenient and it CAN be an interesting track to take as we find out all the things about our favorite characters all over again.

Or just plain START AGAIN.

And this is where we are in this book. I've seen this trope done dozens of times -- or more, if you include all the movies and tv shows -- and I've seen it done BETTER than this.

And yet, I'm not playing a comparison game. Did THIS book manage to entertain me?

Yes, yes, and yes. All the snark is here and the slow reveals are all fully expected and comfortable as hell. Even the *deep and abiding sadness* is all just a silly joke to the reader because... let's face it: we know things turn out well in the end.

This is comfort food. There's no other way to describe it.

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Friday, May 29, 2020

Eighth Grave After Dark (Charley Davidson, #8)Eighth Grave After Dark by Darynda Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A solid middle book in the series, but it suffers from the dullness that always seems to creep around whenever any main character gets preggers and they're supposed to be cramped in some claustrophobic location or suffer the whole "being ripped to shreds by supernatural nasties" trope.

Fortunately, both the baby bounces out and the isolation ends, but what carries the tale is -- as usual -- the interpersonal quirkiness, her best friend's wedding, the hot pregger sex, and the proxy investigations.

I never had a bad time during the read despite the possibility it might have been dull. It helps that all the great Albuquerque references remain intact, even if minds do not. :)

Still, what an interesting conclusion, no?

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Some Remarks: Essays and Other WritingSome Remarks: Essays and Other Writing by Neal Stephenson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There's no other way to put this:

It's a grab-bag.

You have no choice what has been put in it and sometimes it's a few truly awesome short stories and sometimes it's an interview or two and sometimes it's light, almost spur of the moment ramblings and sometimes it's an in-depth essay (through Wired) the delves (or dives) deep into the history, present, and future of undersea data cables.

For some reason I can't quite fathom, my mind keeps swimming around the traveling hacker bits. On the one hand, I thought a great deal of it was delightfully quirky and it gives us a real backbone to the internet at large, from a physical perspective, but on the other hand, I thought it was JUST TOO LONG.

Not everyone is going to have the same mileage with it. I'm generally quite patient with tech stuff and it fascinated me to a certain point until I was just -- okay already, I'd love to have a story now. ;)

Here are some freaking fantastic highlights tho:

The fight between Neal Stephenson and William Gibson! Epic!

The debate between Vegging-out and Geeking-out.

Genre talk, book talk, book talk, and more book talk. :)

But those short stories? Damn... they got me going. And the unpublished book he said he would never finish? GAAAAHHHH!


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Making Money (Discworld, #36; Moist Von Lipwig, #2)Making Money by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Out of all the recent -- or perhaps going back to the very start -- Discworld books, there has never been one that struck right to the core absurdity of our world more than this one.

Maybe that's just me. Or maybe I just find money outrageously funny.

It's probably just me.

Regardless of my little foible, Pratchett strikes to the heart of the matter, making fun of the gold standard and illustrating to us the absurdity of the IDEA of money, while all the while giving us golems, golden suits, clown guilds, a dog who runs a bank, and a very interesting con-man who keeps finding himself in bigger and brighter boiling vats of oil.

This might be one of my very favorite Discworlds. :)

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