Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The House of the DeadThe House of the Dead by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

More a series of vignettes and abject realism describing his time in a Siberian prison for four years, Fyodor Dostoyevsky writes something that weighs heavy on the heart even while the book does not describe any kind of plot or true closure.

That's okay. He writes fantastically plotted books later on and he draws from his intense despair and sharp eye in the human psyche in those later novels in amazing ways. This one, however, is still quite rich and lush with characters and details, immersing us in truly morbid circumstances without quite destroying us.

What do I mean? Well, Dostoyevsky is well aware of the nastiness of the human condition and having experienced some of the worst effects of being on the bottom of the rung, while also having such an intense desire to see the best in anything, find even the tiniest of sparks of optimism, this book is an awesome example of dichotomies.

I loved the joy of having meat on one of the three holidays that even convicts could celebrate. I loved the spectacle and the play. I loved the revels and the consequences of smuggling. I loved the way that the hospitals were used to hide and escape the otherwise horrible conditions, even when the reused hospital gowns weren't cleaned, full of lice, seeping scabs, other excretable decaying matter.

And then there were the convicts themselves. So many intrigues and floggings, intimidation, and crazy hierarchies. And of course, the crimes and the punishments. The whole place is a malicious spider sucking the vitality out of all its inhabitants.

It is pretty hardcore. Of course, there are many other modern examples, so much so that it is a genre as prison fiction, but this is still pretty unique and VERY autobiographical.

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

Put simply, I didn't really ENJOY it as anything other than an analytical exercise.

Fans of Dostoyevsky should still focus on Crime and Punishment and especially The Brothers Karamazov.

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White Witch, Black Curse (The Hollows, #7)White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The great Hollows Re-Read continues!

Back when I first started this series, I tore through the already published books only to have to wait what seemed an interminably long time to get to this one. And after the gut punch, the memory issues, and the tragedy in the previous book, I didn't think it could get much worse.

And so we get to this book, trying to pick up the pieces while trying to hunt down a supernatural murderer that is *rather* out of everyone's league. Can you hear the banshees calling now? Of course, while this part of the plot was delicious, there was something else that slammed me up against the wall harder: finding out what really happened in the previous book and getting closure.

Kim Harrison has it all planned out and unrolls this carpet slowly. Oh so slowly. And the tears come all too easily.

I should note that this book is also a huge payoff for anyone who has read the complete short story catalog up to this point. Lots of backstory and extras for Pierce, Mia, and Ivy come home to roost here, deepening the experience for everything.

And then there is Rachel's shunning. Perhaps the hardest thing to get through. And worse, there is no easy resolution. Her entire people are against her. This is slightly more than being canceled.

This book is hard-hitting and one of the best in the series.

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Monday, April 12, 2021

Fugitive Telemetry (The Murderbot Diaries, #6)Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Socially distancing Muderbot? Check
Despairing about other's security systems? Check

Oh, wait, our murder bot is SOLVING A MURDER that she didn't actually commit. Ah. Check.

This novella is quite in line with the previous ones. Light loner humor, mystery, and comp-talk. This is definitely for fans of the rest of the series, but I should mention that there's nothing really new about it. I admit I liked the full-length novel more, (and the timeline suggests that this novella comes before that).

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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Dungeon Robotics (Book 8): DelveDungeon Robotics (Book 8): Delve by Matthew Peed
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This being one of those 'what you see is what you get' kind of book series, I should mention that it's a specialty item. It's on the lower end of the LitRPG spectrum, devoting itself to godlike actions and fights that are more in line with Dragonball Z by way of cybernetics in an otherwise magic-dominated world.

Cool idea, often fun in the action and okay in the characterizations (if not particularly brilliant), the series has a lot of faults but being fun makes up for a lot of it.

This later book is rather scaling back on the uber over-the-top stuff and the limits of our god-like dungeon core MC are finally coming to the fore. Of course, it's not really all that fair, having been limited by another *literal* deus ex machina, but all told, it was kinda expected.

All in all, though, I rather wish it was more polished. That more care had been taken with the characters. Otherwise, it's really a Deus-Stu kind of tale.

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Dungeon Robotics (Book 7): CollapseDungeon Robotics (Book 7): Collapse by Matthew Peed
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Still enjoyable, overall, with a sudden decision to go space odyssey while the minions take care of the home-front. Not bad, mind you, and it gets fairly amusing as it goes hard-SF and even a bit doctor strange, but what else would you expect when your MC is a GOD. Or, you know, a fairly high-tiered godlike entity of LitRPG dungeon core fame.

Overpowered? Yes, of course, but now we're finally getting some slight course corrections. A few knockdowns. After all, we can't let these upstart kids run ramshod across the universe. :)

My one complaint?

We don't really spend enough time on all the diverse cast of minions/minor deities/or high leveled mortals trying to get crap done. We flit between them a bit too much to really get into them.

Otherwise, if you're just looking for some beastly high-level throwdowns and godlike s**t, then you're probably looking in the right place with these novels. It's good for what it is.

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Dungeon Robotics (Book 6): ConflictDungeon Robotics (Book 6): Conflict by Matthew Peed
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Truly, reading these is scratching that itch that desires totally overpowered battles on epic grand scales, as told from the PoV of a god.

Of course, this is still LitRPG but it has dropped most of those roots except for the brief times when the massively overpowered dungeon core makes new "children" who will wreak more havoc on undead, celestials, demons or when he expands his territory and takes more and more of the populations under his fatherly wing.

You know, like a god. And he tests himself against ever stronger beings.

I admit I like the huge scope and the quick pace. It is, more and more obviously, like playing a video game. And yes, I'm waiting for a chorus to sing out, "no duh!!".

It's almost mindless fun.

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Saturday, April 10, 2021

The Outlaw Demon Wails (The Hollows, #6)The Outlaw Demon Wails by Kim Harrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One book at a time, always getting more and more invested.

Of course, by this point, I feel like I'm falling down a mountain of smut *see the definition in these novels* and the lives of Rachel, Jenks, and Ivy are submerging themselves in my aura. Am I cursed with a good story?

Yes. Yes, I think I am.

Of course, being hounded by an outlaw demon is wildly entertaining. So is Rachel's mom. Why not have a fling, girl? lol

And then there are a bunch of whammy reveals, deals with devils, and a little trip in the Ever After to make this particular novel a truly great ride.

In all, this is one of the best UFs out there. Certainly one of the most fun, and on this re-read, I simply can't change my mind about it. :)

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