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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Camp DamascusCamp Damascus by Chuck Tingle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Super solid horror that proves that Chuck Tingle has the good ole writer's chops. He's much more than the schock-shlock-shlong monster gay porn writer I laughed about for years. Indeed, he writes a real horror with real style.

Camp Damascus gives us not only the traditional horror of conversion therapy, but monsters who really hate lgbtq as much as the morally righteous.

I'm just glad that real people with real flamethrowers exist to stand up against this dual terror.

Great stuff! I can really get behind this rage. :)

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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Saint Death's Daughter (Saint Death #1)Saint Death's Daughter by C.S.E. Cooney
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So, right to the nitty gritty. I wanted to like this a lot more than I actually did. The title needed a bit of explaining, too, but I was pretty on board with a YA dark fantasy with necromancy. My only real concern was whether it'd go down the torrid romance path, but I'm happy to say that the majority of the book took the other path.

I admit it took me a bit to get into, all told, but I was fairly enjoying the life and many, many days of living, learning, and survival with the help of her helper ghosts, undead minions, and spies. My only concern by this point was trying to figure out where the plot might lead us. All-in-all, it just felt like a never-ending stream of slice-of-necromantic life. It was somewhat wholesome, not at all scary or gross, and was just this side of amusing.

And that might have been for the best, if it had been a bit tighter. The fact is, there was a lot of this mild stuff going on... and on... and on... and I had a problem with keeping my interest level high. I had to put down the book fairly often.

And then there was the time skip. A few interesting things happened after, but by then I honestly didn't care all that much.

Did I hate the novel? No. Not at all. I can absolutely see how others might adore it. It has so much of living in its deathly pages and I'm sure a certain kind of person out there would latch onto all this and call it the greatest thing ever. But for me, I would have preferred it go through a hardcore editor, maybe splitting the book into two, but with an emphasis on story-shape. It just kinda felt like it grew and kept growing and overrun the whole garden.

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Sunday, December 3, 2023

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike, #2)The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Murder, writers, continuing several deep character setups -- all this should have been in my wheelhouse. I should have loved the novel with or without the extra knowledge that it is Rowling's work.

But I'm simply not feeling the charm. I got through the first book, thinking it was competent enough, and decided to go for the second, assuming it might sink in better. Unfortunately, it didn't. It's one of those "It's me, not you" situations, I guess.

I simply didn't buy-in to the characters, got bored, couldn't even concentrate on the mystery, and wound up eyeing the page count way too often for my mental health. I wish I could have said something better about it.

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Friday, December 1, 2023

A Stroke of the Pen: The Lost StoriesA Stroke of the Pen: The Lost Stories by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Happiness is the friendships you make along the way. I believe that.

So, here's the thing. I was interested in this book because people had done some major sleuthing to find some REALLY early Terry Pratchett stories written often under pen names long before he did the whole Discworld thing. That means these might have a glimmer of the wit and charm that would come later, but for the most part, the good, old friends don't even exist yet.

For the most part, they are light-hearted, very much popular-class magazines from a long-gone time period that would come across as slightly pithy or corny without a trace of controversy about them. Indeed, the wit is sometimes there, but it's mild and often... average.

So, who should read this?
Pratchett completionists.

It's worth it to say you did it, but I'd never tell anyone that it's essential for anyone's enjoyment of the legend. These are merely paid pieces and it kinda shows.

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Thursday, November 30, 2023

The Hobgoblin Riot (Dominion of Blades, #2)The Hobgoblin Riot by Matt Dinniman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We get other PoV's following the first book, and while I appreciated the bold change as an idea, I may not have quite clicked with it. I preferred the first book's style. That being said, this book had more changes than just that.

This wasn't a normal LitRPG as the other. This was a tower defense, with wave after wave of attackers. It absolutely required a very different style. No casual adventuring. Just siege, a few story reveals and progressions, and more siege.

Maybe my mood was for more of the previous, alas, but this was still pretty decent. Hobgoblins are obviously a HUGE part of this. :)

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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Dominion of Blades (Dominion of Blades, #1)Dominion of Blades by Matt Dinniman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a nice, more classic mix of LitRPG with a slightly more unique core reason than most of this type. (Yay for generational starships and new planets.) The actual LitRPG is pretty much a standard world-exploration fantasy world with limited quests.

What makes this one a bit special is the hints that the players have been doing NPC-type things for an AWFULLY long time, so a spattering of random skills appear to be way overpowered despite the character starting out, nearly memory-less, at level one.

I think it's always pretty fun to goof around with that kind of thing, and this randomly thrown-together small party grows together and learns to trust one another as they reveal what the hell has been going on in this place.

Not bad. Entertaining. Somewhat normal for the type, but nonetheless fun.

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Monday, November 27, 2023

The Way of Shadows (Night Angel, #1)The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I remember reading this back when it first came out and I said to myself that THIS was what I was waiting for in epic fantasy. It was so bloody, wickedly magical, dystopian society, and so much quicker than SoIaF to get to the good bits.

I always had a fond spot for this and the full trilogy and tended to rank them up as some of the very finest modern epic fantasy had to offer. Quite a bit better than a lot that I've read since then, including a majority of the biggest names, even. I put this at the same height as the Mistborn trilogy, even.

Sure, later, I got into Weeks' Lightbringer quintology and said the same thing about it, but I slowly started to forget what I loved so much about the Night Angel trilogy.

And then the new book came out. I HAD to revisit the originals. And here we are.

Did it match my memories?

No. It surpassed them. All my original qualms during my first read disappeared with the hindsight of what I knew will be coming. The action was sublime, the magic super interesting, and the tripod of Justice, Vengeance, and Mercy even better than I remembered.

The love was the surprisingly best part. Love is a noose. But sometimes you can't choose not to put it around your neck.

Great stuff. I haven't been this excited on a re-read since WoT.

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