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Monday, February 6, 2023

Sea of TranquilitySea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn't quite sure whether I would like this novel. I've had some iffy experiences with LitSF in the past and if I'm to be entirely honest, I wasn't blown away by Station Eleven.

I did actually enjoy this one, however, and I'm rather surprised.

First of all, I'm a sucker for "universe as a simulation" stories. Having themes of death -- in tranquility -- was pretty cool when it comes right down to the lunar colonies.

All told, after I managed my expectations a bit, the novel was rather smooth. The best parts were the obvious strange bits that I will not spoil here. The resolution was solid.

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Sunday, February 5, 2023

A Tree Grows in BrooklynA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a truly delightful classic YA. This happens to be one of those brilliant ones. Published in '43 but regarding a time in NY over 30 years prior, it relies on realism and unflinching look at the life as it was. There was a lot of good, bad, and ugly.

There's a lot of hindsight in this book, of course, but it is written in such an engaging way that I was lost in the life. Poverty is first and foremost -- poverty, normal expectations, education, parents and siblings, and even a little first love, but underneath it all was the reality of poverty.

It's chipper, really, and they all try so hard, and it's obviously HARD to live, especially with alcoholism and regrets and pride, but that's what makes the novel so good, too. I'm lost in it.

I don't know. I read this and I was very impressed. I kept thinking, "You know, this reminds me a lot of Dostoevsky. The voice, the immersion in poverty, the brightness of mind, of education, of trying to get by. It reminds me of the best stuff of Dostoevsky, but American, and by a woman."

I know this might come across as high praise, but it's also quite true.

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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Pocket Apocalypse (InCryptid, #4)Pocket Apocalypse by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Re-Read 2/4/23:

It's really nice revisiting the Price family by way of snakeboy in the land of murderous freaking snakes. Of course, it's really all about the werewolves and in-laws, but that's okay. It's still just as murderous.


Original Review:

Maybe I'm really getting used to the series or I'm really loving Alex and Shelby's dynamics or I think I'm falling for Australia or maybe the writing is just getting that much better, but I love this instalment of the series much more than all the rest.

It's not just the talking mice, mind you. It's Helen the Wadjet, Basil the yowie, and the entire freakin clan of the Thirty-Sixers.

The novel is kinda a "meet the family" with a truly horrible infestation of werewolves. It worked really, really well. :) I'm stoked and thrilled. :)

I'm not just having fun any more. This fourth book commemorates my official and formal status of FANBOY. :)

Alex has rapidly and far-outstripped my previous enjoyment of his little sister's adventures. :)

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Friday, February 3, 2023

The Third Realm (Ten Realms, #3)The Third Realm by Michael Chatfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

No complaints on this LitRPG. Standard leveling stuff, new realms to explore, but it I have to admit I really enjoyed the Alchemy trials the most.

Killing dungeons or subverting them is all pretty fun, as is the fortification, growth, and defense of the hometown, but I was enraptured more by the basic crafting than I was about anything else.

Truly, I love my games the same way, so this is no surprise to me.

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The Catcher in the RyeThe Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Third re-read.

There's something really powerful about this novel. I mean, sure, it's horribly depressing and almost everyone is super vapid and phony and nearly mindless. That's also true for Holden. He may be going on a little insipid self-destructive rampage across NYC, being just as bad a phony as all the others, but here's the thing: Holden is still right.

He may be blind as a bat to his own repressed rage or how much he is just like everyone else in this horribly artificial 1950's America, but his observations about this fake America is still TRUE.

As true then as it is now.

His search for beauty is just a symptom of that emptiness and I admit I recognize a lot of that same horror in myself. Always have, ever since the time I first read this as a kid or now as an adult.

Maybe the themes here are old hat now, but I think this classic was the one that really laid the groundwork for so many other YAs about disillusionment. And maybe the random wandering through NYC is rather tame by today's standards, but the heart is real and Holden's desperation and his love for his sister is just as real.

I admit it, this is a fantastic novel. :)

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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Helliconia Summer (Helliconia, #2)Helliconia Summer by Brian W. Aldiss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can say a lot of good things about this book. Helliconia's worldbuilding is rather vast and interesting and if you're an SF fan that dies over long time-spans, rich planet history, and cultural upheavals on an alien world, then this is for you.

It's made even more complicated when the world had thousands of years of ice ages and warmer periods that affect all the cultures, but it's most interesting when we have the conflicts between the local humans and the indigenous intelligent life. Add the fact that there's a human space station observing all this and sending the feed back to Earth for entertainment, keeping the world quarantined except for a rare lottery that lets the bored go down, and we've got a better setup for a bit of chaos.

This is an epic book. Epic in the sense that it is vast and vastly imagined.

So why do I give it only 4 stars? Because while it is fascinating, intellectually, it's not particularly gripping. I respect it. I simply don't fall off the balcony for it. It's still a good read, though.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Rocket Ship GalileoRocket Ship Galileo by Robert A. Heinlein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had to show my girl some of the old SF greats. Being a juvenile, herself, I thought it would be best to give her a taste of Heinlein's Juveniles, AND WE'RE BOTH GLAD WE DID.

This particular book was published in 1947, and considering the TIME it was published, it's pretty amazing. Consider the fact that Heinlein was writing about nuclear power rockets using as much of the science he was able to learn, as accurately as he could, in a YA. And not only was it hopeful and adventuresome with a hefty dose of can-do attitude, we even got a little popular ANTIFA action against the Nazis. RAH (Robert A. Heinlein) RAH RAH RAH!

It was delightful. A handful of young men and their mentor go to the moon. Sure, there's a little gloss-over with pre-fabbed rockets (an industry well under way) and a lot of everything else, but the basic science was there and it was written in a fun way.

Best of all, I have to point out that our own real space race had not gotten into gear yet. People's imaginations were not quite ready to pour so much of our resources into the grand competition. But Heinlein was there. Early. And serious about the science. :)

As for my girl, she was always attentive and loved the math (because she likes math) and thought the story was pretty damn fun. (Her words.) We flew through it together and she says she wants to read a LOT more Heinlein.

Ah, I love it. I remember when I went crazy, too, just a little older than her. :)

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