Thursday, July 2, 2020

Lady of the Lake (The Witcher, #5)Lady of the Lake by Andrzej Sapkowski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I honestly tried to find the truly negative aspects about this book. I honestly did. But when it came to the dreamlike aspects, the tie-ins and total subversion of the tiny bits of the Arthurian Legend, or when it came to finding this to be a weak Witcher novel...?

Eh. No. It was very strong. Strong enough to keep my attention fully rapt from start to finish.

I mean, who DOESN'T like Ciri as a badass? She sure went through a ton of changes and misfortunes. All that extremely well done prophesy buildup from the first books, the way Yennefer and Geralt would do anything for her, or how the entire mess played out, lead to one of the best, most disturbing passages of full-out war I've read in a fantasy series. (And that's including Tolkein, mind you.)

But perhaps I'm not focusing on the right thing. What I should be pointing at is the future-timeline jumps, the little speeches from old survivors, the way the past is remembered or misremembered. These are the writings that pulled me under the lake and drowned me. It put everything... and I mean everything into perspective. We get the crap, the idealism, the hopeful, the romantic... and THEN we get the real, heartbreaking story.

And no. I'm not going to spoil what becomes of Yennefer and Geralt. I'll just say I cried. If you want to know more, then damn you, READ THE BOOK. :)

*smacks lips* So tasty.

One other thing: the writing style is NOT very traditional, but it IS evocative. I really appreciate how this series is UNLIKE most epic fantasy. It's much smarter than I think most people give it credit. :)

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Monday, June 29, 2020

The Tower of the Swallow (The Witcher, #4)The Tower of the Swallow by Andrzej Sapkowski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is some hardcore cool Fantasy. Far from having any kind of tired storyline, it always feels fresh and surprising even though, by all rights, it OUGHT to fall into so rather obvious directions because... we WANT it.

But that's where the joy comes in. :) The pacing is fast and just when you think you've got a handle on certain things, there's always that little wrench in the works. :)

I admit I teared up during certain events. And it isn't entirely isolated with events featuring only Ciri. She's really come into her own, but I'm still a huge fan of Geralt. And to wait THAT long for Yennifer? For shame!

Doesn't matter. This is an unusual enough fantasy novel to keep old fans of the genre hopping and new fans constantly interested. I can't imagine where any hater would be coming from. :)

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Sunday, June 28, 2020

The OneThe One by John Marrs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This really fits my mood nicely. Give me the whole tech-that-screws-up-our-lives and run with it, throwing us into the lives of so many "perfect" matches, and seeing how it all goes down...

Tiny spoiler:

Things go wrong. :)

Primary handwavium: honest-to-goodness love at first sight and/or biological matching (under the guise of DNA matching) for the loves of our lives. Have peeps figure out that they're not with their perfect matches. Chaos ensues.

Of course, this COULD be a thriller/romance without many happy ends. Or it could just be a thriller. :)

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Jennifer GovernmentJennifer Government by Max Barry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Back a few years after the turn of the century, the world was brand crazy. More than that, it was murderously brand crazy. Remember the debacle around Nike? Murders in gangland over shoes? Or how about the whole stink surrounding the marketing departments who not only capitalized but doubled down on the policies that made this?


Well, this novel truly capitalizes on THAT. :)

And Max Barry takes it all to its natural conclusion. Governments are gutted, corporations rule everything. Do you want your loyalty rewards? How about unfettered capitalism without any restrictions whatsoever?

Please have your credit card handy if you want ambulance service. :)

Barry is one of my go-to guys now. Screamingly fast writing, razor-sharp commentary, and wonderful character-driven adventures that often pull some great bait-n-switches. Just who are we supposed to feel compassion for? Oh my... that IS horrible. :)

But just WHO is Jennifer Government? She's merely one in a fairly large cast of characters who must be defined by their job. I'd say the conceit is unrealistic but I recently had to change my name to Brad Writer. Branding is everything, you know.

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Saturday, June 27, 2020

Occultation and Other StoriesOccultation and Other Stories by Laird Barron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While I do think that all of these stories are quite good and tickly my cosmic horror funnybone (do you hear the insane laughter right behind you?) I think I might have reached my saturation point for:

A: Satanists
B: dark insectoid horrors
C: otherworldly visitations

To be entirely fair, all of these stories are quite excellent for these themes. Much better, on the hole, than most. In fact, I totally recommend this for those of you who want a little extra Lovecraftian horror in their lives and want it dark, neat, and self-aware. :)

However -- each story, even for the really excellent treat of deep worldbuilding and thorough characterization, still tends to run the same formula for each story within this collection. Maybe that's a good thing? Maybe it's too much of a good thing? Good for theme, but not so much for reading them through back-to-back?

Not sure.

But still, this is very worth reading for fans of the subgenre. :) Barron has a real knack.

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Friday, June 26, 2020

A Blight of Blackwings (Seven Kennings, #2)A Blight of Blackwings by Kevin Hearne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm very happy with Hearne's epic fantasy. It has all that vibe of the hinterlands and schools of primal magic while breaking a bit away from the first book's slightly YA vibe to hit pretty hard on the political stuff.

I mean, damn, I didn't expect it to veer away from political intrigue and just dive into CREATING A NEW POLITICAL SYSTEM instead. :) But why not? Fantasy (as well as SF) has always been known for vast worldbuilding, and this is just another aspect of the same. :) But please don't mistake me. This is brimming over with all the other worldbuilding aspects. So many peoples, languages, cultures... all of them making a melting pot. It kinda brings a tear to my eye. :)

Of course, the detractors, the revolution, the bees, and wasps... well all those things are just gravy. :)

But you know what really stood out more than all the memorable characters?

The bard's songs.

Some of that stuff was crazy funny. :)

And yes, for all you fans of Hearne's UF series, he never forgets his humorous roots. He's just expanded his repertoire. And continues to expand it in this book. :)

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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave (Charley Davidson, #13)Summoned to Thirteenth Grave by Darynda Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I won't say that this is the penultimate book of the series, but it is a solid ending. Not a fantastic ending, but solid.

I've enjoyed the run with Charley and Reyes and the whole OP feel of the later books but more than that, I've enjoyed the humor. All these books are great for lovers of Albuquerque, but let's face it, most people stay for the OP romance. :)

So why didn't I give this a full five stars?

Because it just doesn't live up to the full promise of an 'OMG I can't believe what I just read' review. It was comfortable. Expected. Kinda sappy. But then, what can we really expect? It is a paranormal romance.

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