Thursday, May 24, 2018

Witches Abroad (Discworld, #12; Witches #3)Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Re-read 5/24/18:

Second read! And MORE WITCHES. Well, voodoo, too!

What happens when stories just INSIST that witches come over and to the other side? What, with all the wolves misunderstanding that they're not men and dwarves trying to steal Nanny Og's shoes and ALL THOSE MAGIC MIRRORS!

And in the end, it's just family rivalry. :)

Weatherwax really stole the show.

Yeah. Even more than that damn cat Greebo! :)

The novel is a great mish-mash of fairy tails with proper Discworld attitude. :) Better than most of the Witches novels, IMHO, but I'm just biding time till Aching comes along. :)

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A Time Of Dread (Of Blood and Bone #1)A Time Of Dread by John Gwynne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my first time reading John Gwynne and I seriously debated whether or not to read the original trilogy before picking up a tale hundreds of years after the events there. It was a close thing, but I decided the strength of his writing would either wow me or it wouldn't.

As a matter of fact, his characterizations while not too varied or unusual for the fantasy genre at all, are still rather well done for all that. Time and effort are taken, drawing out familial relations and emotional impacts and a broad setup for the oncoming war, getting to know all the players through the individuals within it. I've seen much worse epic fantasies, but I will admit he does improve on a lot of the classics. For example, the farmboy with a destiny trope was given a lot of time and care and it was quite believable and impactful DESPITE being one of the oldest tropes in the book. The rest of the character threads were also quite entertaining.

I was tantalized by the past, of course, and enjoyed seeing what kind of races filled this book, from angels and demons cohabitating the land, giants, and even mounted bears. The action is plentiful, dark, and bloody.

He pulls off the trick with gray areas quite nicely. It's not so clear who are the good guys and who are the bad. For that, I think I enjoyed the book even more. I wouldn't quite call this grimdark, but it's definitely a series I'll consider continuing!

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Tomb (Repairman Jack, #1)The Tomb by F. Paul Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel has a lot of modern (80's) thriller sensibilities with a can-do 'fixer' focused mainly on character study and definition, mostly in the same way that horror novels do it. Righting wrongs, giving up close and personal Justice to those who escape the law.

With a supernatural twist. Hindu Rakashas!

It sounds pretty cool, actually, but my personal expectations were more along the lines of a proto-modern UF... and it is. It just happens to be MORE focused on character study and interpersonal dynamics. Good for what it is and if you prefer that kind of thing. It's a decent horror, I suppose, but it happens to be perfectly average, as one, unless you give bonus points for using the idea of Rakashas as the primary story.

I've read a lot of things like this, however. I enjoyed the exploration of Kali and Hindu mythos well, but I might want to point at Dan Simmon's Song of Kali as a bit more horrific and fascinating.

This one, however, is a modern thriller and should have a lot of ongoing appeal. I'll continue the series to see if it continues to evolve. There's a number of books behind this one. :)

Final grade? Above average. Solid.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Working for the Devil (Dante Valentine, #1)Working for the Devil by Lilith Saintcrow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Picking up this series kinda blindly, I wasn't really sure where to categorize it in the UF world. Obviously, it's a kick-ass female with magic and blade, but you know how that is. Seen it on the shelves a MILLION TIMES. Huh. Even the blurb just tugs at my old heartstrings for Anita Blake and Rachel Morgan. I thought it was a throwaway blurb.

But then I learned how wrong I was.

Imagine this: It's bladerunnerish, high-tech noir with hovercraft, laser pulse rifles, juicy biotech implants, gene-splicing. It's also rune magic, Annubis-based necromancy, whole schools of magic, and even eclectic voodoo, ritual, and a lot more right out in the open. It's open trade for SF and Fantasy in this near-future overpopulated world.

So delicious.

And then there's Dante with her deep connection with Annubis and her dripping holy blue fire blade, her strong necromantic craft for sale for lawyers, the police, or anyone with the means to pay. And she's got a new job from a character she can't quite refuse: Lucifer. Who wants her to assassinate another demon. As a little backup, she gets a high-level demon as a backup... and as a familiar.

Holy crapola.

So wait a second.

Not only are we getting to levels of necromancy only seen 7-8 books into Anita Blake, but we're also moving ahead to powers equivalent to books 4-5 in Rachel Morgan. In Blade Runner.


And it's true. I slammed through this book kinda dancing with glee. And yes there's a bit of UF romance but it takes a back seat to the action and intrigue... just as I prefer it. And let me be a bit clear about where I place this in my favorite UF categories. I have some series I love for being imaginative and others for being super charming and classy, but my first love is for outright powerups and bitch'n kick-ass magics.

This one is pulling on those heartstrings HARD. :)

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Monday, May 21, 2018

The Rhesus Chart (Laundry Files, #5)The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Re-read 5/21/18:

My god this series only gets better as it goes along. I thought this was a somewhat weak novel in the whole mix but I was definitely mistaken. Knowing what comes later influences my decision. Easy.

This is, however, a pretty big turning point for both Bob and the Laundry. His personal life suffers by way of the events that eventually occur, but the Laundry suffers more. It's invasion time. By bloodsuckers. And there a LOT of casualties.

Of course, that means a general org-chart rearrangement and no manner of funny and light built-up in this novel will erase the fundamental tragedy.

But yeah, I laughed my ass off about the vampires. For most of the novel. It was gorgeous and satirical and clever as hell. :)

If only the end hadn't been so dark! And yet, that darkness really hit me in the gut. That last bit makes me stay around.

This is totally cool.

Original review:

Watching Bob become beast couldn't be more fun, and the workplace drama, whether it is the Laundry or cutthroat banking, is always humorous. Not too much was on the plate for this novel, but in my opinion, that was just fine. It allowed me to focus tightly on the interpersonal relations, and for good reason. The ending was a real zinger. The novels are only getting better as time goes on.

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Tongues of Serpents (Temeraire, #6)Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have been a pretty good fan of this series, but unfortunately, I've grown tired of it by now.

This isn't dragons against Napoleon anymore. This isn't an intrigue in China. This is exile to Australia.

Long treks, dragon eggs, and filler await us. Maybe it's because I took almost a decade to return to the series or I burned out, but this didn't capture my imagination. Almost at all. No hope for glory, just establishing a colony? For dragons?

This is how the world ends. With a whimper, not a bang.

Not sure I'll continue with the last novels, but since Novik has proven herself pretty good with the mythology retellings, I will continue there. :)

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

A Boy and His DogA Boy and His Dog by Harlan Ellison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one hell of a divisive short story. The fact it's written very well, that it evokes so many positive and negative emotions, although, MOST of them are negative, speaks very well of the author even I hate what's going on inside the story.

I've only read a few of Ellison's works and I guess I've been avoiding it for a long time. Mostly because he's a known jerk and iconoclast and while he's also doing most of it for the shock value almost as if he's the Marylin Manson of the 60's. I can respect a man who knows his own mind and writes stories that are shocking and repulsive and funny at the same time

This definitely falls into that category. Rape. Rapey stuff. Brutal dystopian world that not only condones but explicitly encourages the objectification of women. But wait! Isn't that most of the dystopian literature, these days!?

Yeah, I guess it is. But back in '69 when this little gem came out, it threw all the optimistic post-nuke claptrap out the window and dived deep into the truly ugly side of men vs. women.

Come on. He uses his telepathic dog (who is much smarter than him) to serial-rape women. Just because he finds one that just likes sex and talks about love doesn't excuse his past behavior (or anyone else's).

But damn! Ellison writes this so damn well and with a lot of dark humor. The twist at the end was nasty and gorgeous and rather fitting, too. I can't fault this. It's too dark. Too funny.

So in one respect, I just want to give this a one star. In another, I can't help but be impressed by the writing and the controversy and the way it sparks a LOT of huge emotions in every reader. This is what art is meant to do, no? Well, this succeeds.

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