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Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Winter's TaleThe Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I read this in High School last, I believed that I loved it more than all the other Shakespeare plays combined, and it still holds a ton of charm for me now, although not quite as much as before.

For one, the thief was slightly more annoying than a charming plot device.

For another, it's hard to believe that even divorce could be so reconciled. :)

Granted, this is an almost magical divorce, so why not ramp up the reconciliation to wipe away the tragedy of a child's death, the loss of the newborn as well, the wrongful accusation and downfall of a true wife, and his betrayal of his loyal servant JUST BECAUSE he's been regretting all his actions for 20 years?

It's a very strong story if we're meant to feel pity for the old man. He regains everything except his eldest child because he was sincere in his remorse. It's damn beautiful, even, but in the end it's pure fantasy.

This was written at the end of Shakespeare's career and it was possibly meant to be his own expression of remorse. It fits the narrative, anyway, in the same way that Mozart wrote his own Requiem.

However, from an alternative reading of the text, I can't help but hate the blasé disregard for Hermione, the way she quietly retired away out of anyone's company for 20 years after the events (or she really did die and come back as a reanimated statue, which is slightly more palatable because at least she wouldn't have been so bored or lonely,) or the way that the rest of the world could even ALLOW THESE EVENTS TO HAPPEN IN THE FIRST PLACE.


Look. I'm just upset at the state of the world here. I suppose Shakespeare is upset about it as well. After all, he focuses the second act entirely upon letting young people choose who they want to love and paint all other choices as tyrannical, and Perdita herself certainly knows her own mind, so it's not all black-and-white in the play. Her mother also knew her own mind when she used her wits to do as her husband bade, too, but we all know how that turned out.

Double-standards and insane jealousy seems to be the name of the game for us all, no? *sigh*

Still, it's undeniably a brilliant play. :)

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Friday, December 30, 2016

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares (Dash & Lily, #1)Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What began as a literary treasure hunt flirtation between a couple of cute kids quickly became...

A truly delightful and innocent romance. :)

Believe me, no one is more shocked than me how much I fell into and loved this little book. I mean, it wasn't just the literary side or the well-spoken Snarl or the impulsive Lily. It was the entire shape of the novel with all of the normal conventions: the shy flirtations, the near misses, the almost-meetings, and then, most dangerously, the other boys and girls. It was all delightful and sooooo innocent. :) Even the Crimson Alert and the Sweaty Santa, it evokes a different sensation in adults, still managed to come across as INNOCENT on the page.

And I liked it. I really really liked it.

It's like opening a door to an alternate dimension and discovering that everything is gentle and loyal and honorable and smart. *shiver* It's so odd! And pretty! :)

And of course, the writing is also quite beautiful, too. And charming. :)

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse, #1)We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm jumping on the Bobwagon here!

I love the light tone throughout and the geek humor mostly relegated to names one AI clone gives to oneself when faced with a profundity of oneself. Riker? Number 2. Of course. But the rest is just a fantastic ride of popular references and snark, right, Admiral Akbar?

Seriously, that was just one of the coolest things in the novel... but the next runner-up has got to be the effortless way we start colonizing the galaxy with each replicant, going back to Earth, exploring the star systems, finding aliens, and of course fighting one little pernicious Brazilian who is racing Bob among the stars and who happens to be a rather dedicated idiot.

Oh, humanity is practically wiped out. At least he still has his mission! Sheesh.

While this is a light book, it's full of great voice and activity and comradeship between oneself. :) Truly surprising just how much we can argue with ourself when we have a whole universe to grow within. I'm trying to find fault with Arthur, but I just can't.

This is delicious SF fun and I have to say it's totally accessible for anyone. It may be appreciated more by geeks, however. :)

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a wonderful ride this has been. A long-overdue re-read was just what I needed.

I can step back from the hoopla and step back from the movies and really get into all the Grindelwald passages and connect the dots with Dumbledore. Best friends, no? One creates the wizarding war and sends his wizard troops out to conquer based on a young Dumbledore's words, only to end in a duel that leaves Dumbledore with the Elder Wand that was in his friend's hands for so many years. Of course, we get to skip the first one that ended in the death of Dumbledore's sister, but who knows, we will probably be seeing no only Dumbledore but perhaps some Pensives. :)

Such delicious stories to pick up soon with the sequels to Fantastic Beasts, no? Especially since we get such a nice close-up of our favorite villain!

Just what is the connection between the Obscurials and the Deatheaters, anyway? Oddly suspicious, no? And Ariana Dumbledore? I really need to know how Grindelwald's darkness leads to the informing of Voldemort's powers. :)

Okay! Maybe I really ought to talk about the book? I liked it better this time than the first time. A lot. It helps to have EXPLANATIONS over the movies, no matter how pretty all the action scenes are. :) It sounds like a recurring theme, no? Well, there are things that books do so much better than any other medium, and when it comes to UNDERSTANDING, it's peerless.

I didn't nearly get so annoyed at the absolutely nothing happening sections in the tale, either, unlike in the movie, because I was actually invested in all those little side characters this time. I wanted to know what was on the radio. It's kinda odd, no? The worst parts the first time around turn out to be some of the best if you CARE. :) Well, this time, I did, and I guess that's what makes a fanboy. Or a Potterhead. No?

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6)Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Buddy Re-Read continues!

I read this last almost the day after it originally came out and was amazed at the big reveals... Guess who Dies and guess who the Prince is! ... but more than that, I was pretty blah and then very enthused as we learned more and more and more and more about Mr. Riddle as Harry kept sticking his head under water. It was a hate/love relationship for me. I wanted to know about our big bad. I really did. And then I also wanted to just get over all the cleverly-installed flashbacks and get on with the freaking story.

That was before the movie.

And so the movie came out and I was all like... Where is all the backstory for Voldemort? This is hardly anything! This is just a brief little taste! How are we supposed to feel the deep revulsion AND pity for the man if we can't get more screen time for him??? And so I fell BACK on the bandwagon for all those pretty flashbacks.

Ah, the trials and tribulations of a fanboy.

This is like knowing Frank Herbert's Dune inside and out and then watching the Lynch mindf*** and spending more than 3/4 of the movie filling in all the details that are left unsaid in the film that make the story deeper and more amazing than the acid trip that I was watching.

Okay. Maybe the HP6 film wasn't QUITE that bad and there were a lot of brilliant moments that were visual and direct link-ups to the main plot in the HP7 movies, so continuity was preserved very well. Still, the lack of time with Snape's younger cursecrafting self and the lack of all the mystery subplot with Dumbledore, himself, made the end events kind of rushed and confusing within the movie.

Not so at all within the book.

The book was a real page-turner for me. Again. I love in-depth reasons. A lot. :)

Still a great book! :)

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Monday, December 26, 2016

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! I can tell you that on a re-read, this story really stands out as both a very dark turn and a wonderfully complex story.

Why is my memory so poor, you ask? Because while I remember it being this good when I first read it, I've only had the altered perceptions of the movie to go by ever since! And that is a MISTAKE.

I should have known. Short movies like that can't do real justice to heavy, heavy tomes like this novel. :)

Notably missing: the TWINS! Sure, they get their big time to shine in the movie, but they don't get the backstory of where they got their money or the sheer amount of legwork and field-testing for their jokes right on Hogwarts' grounds. So delicious!

Also missing: an actually delightful Dobby. I can't believe how much knitting Hermione went through on her quest to free all the house elves and only Dobby was willing to take her clothing, all to save her feelings. How Sweet!

Also missing: long explanations and carefully constructed dream-plots and traps that make complete sense unlike that mess we saw in the movie that just kinda slaps us in a direction and lets us be surprised... Hey! Look where we are, and we're fighting! Sheesh.

All I can say is, "Bravo, Volemort! Yours was actually a pretty good plan even if you're missing a certain piece of intelligence."

All told, I can honestly say that I liked this one better than all the rest up to this point. There's not so much flash and dash as all the rest, except with the blowout battle with the Deatheaters and Voldemort and Dumbledore at the end, but there is way more than enough conflict and rising tension for three lesser books. We all know this is a dark story with Dolores.

What fantastic fun!

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Of Noble Family (Glamourist Histories, #5)Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fairly satisfying conclusion to the Regency Romance Magical series by Kowal.

It wraps up the series with a birth. It's the logical focus after what happened earlier in the series and the tragedy of losing a child while on the run and using glamour. Everyone knows that Glamour can make an expectant mother to lose their child, after all. It had nothing to do with being chased by Napoleon. *looks askance*

The other nice part of this novel was the plot of Vincent's father's death and the death of Vincent's older brother and the inheritance of a slave plantation. It's nothing he ever wanted and his relationship with his family had always been extremely poor, but even that gets resolved well here.

I have to say that even though the subject of slavery and interbreeding to control a whole people and the horrible conditions makes me think the book should be darker than it is... but no, the book is still rather lightweight. That's fine because it's the tone throughout the series regardless of the events. It's a romance, after all. Bad things happen, the good people come out on top. Our hero and heroine are both remarkably steadfast and capable even though I'm meant to believe that they're either ill or incapable or at other times as traitors or being poverty-stricken.

It still feels like light fare. Not that it's a bad thing, of course, but I tend to categorize such novels as popcorn. :) I'm glad I got to read the whole thing. I'm looking forward to reading completely different styles from Kowal!

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & ClayThe Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was already a big fan of Chabon with The Yiddish Policemen's Union and later, wonderfully, with Wonder Boys. So of course I had to pick up the official "classic" he made a name for himself with!

Tour-de-Force, epic traditional fiction, a whirlwind of blah blah blah. :)

In reality, it really is an awesomely well-rounded character novel set very firmly in the early comics industry and it made the giddy fan-boy in me go all blubbery. :) It was very nice.

The second best part of the text was the absolutely deep drill down in the characters and the time and places, from before WWII, the social mixes and prejudices and pressures, the boom of the comics industry and how it affected the war, and especially Kavalier's own little crusade to get his Jewish family out of Germany's hands. It really affected the comics, as you may guess.

But later on, even after joining the war and building families, it's even better because of Rosa. :)

Clay was really a rather breakout character, being gay. We still have to place him in his time and place though. I really laughed loudly when he was asked in the senate committee about the reason why Batman had an underage kid prancing around in tights in his underground dungeon. Public Morals, indeed!


All told, I'm very satisfied with this novel. It has a little bit of something for everyone and best yet, it's supremely crafted and beautiful. :)

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Friday, December 23, 2016

Realware (Ware #4)Realware by Rudy Rucker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This one might be too wild for maiden aunts. Heck, maybe it's too out-there for the run-of-the-mill reader of SF.

But for the REST OF US, it's a truly wild ride that ramps up the same wild directions as Rucker has been taking us all along. Let's go crazy!

First of all, the aliens aren't ALL dead. Two-dimensional, multi-timeline-living, reality-hacking aliens. Death isn't really a big thing for these guys. Blowing up their own cities doesn't really mean much because the cities live on in all the other timelines. Lucky them!

So what happens when they hand over their magic wands to some of our favorite moldies and human-consciousness downloaded moldies and natural humans that lets them create.... anything out of anything?

Yeah. I'm talking about TOTAL REALITY RE-WRITES.

Oh. Shit.

Now we're talking about people who have just been upgraded from humans to robots in Software, from robots to humans in Wetware to, from everyone upgrading or refusing to upgrade into intelligent mold in Freeware, to upgrading into ANYTHING GOES in Realware. :) :)

This could turn into something really messed up and incoherent, mind you, but Rudy Rucker goes ahead and just turns it into a delightful social satire. Very much like the rest of the Quadralogy. :)

I'm just glad that Cobb got what he wanted and the aliens made their flying saucer. I love it when a good meme gets a little fun play.

But humanity? I know this isn't much of a surprise, but we're a bunch of freaking morons.

Even when given a gift like this, we still manage to **** it the **** up. Wow. And this isn't some slow morality play, either. This is a no-holds-barred ****fest.

Gotta love it. :)

Freaking perverts.

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Freeware (Ware #3)Freeware by Rudy Rucker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm still in awe with this series, and here's the plain truth: So much happens, so many huge changes to humanity and the Bobbies, that each novel feels like a completely new universe.

However, we've got a truly delicious continuation of family and an evolution of the same characters we've grown to know and love. Yes, even Stay High is still around, as is his father in a way and now we get to see all about his children. :) It's amazing how things turn out.

Especially the mold.

My god! The moldies!!! They killed off all the Bobbies. Intelligent plastics and mold that are perfect shape-changers, wiping out one whole intelligent species to make a mess of everyone else.

And yes, of course they take over the moon and become second-class citizens (and furniture) on Earth. I really like how they can be space-suits and rocket ships and flying gulls and underpaid dishwashers. But as for the story, I especially love how they can become Indian goddesses and how they laugh at human's sexual perversions.

Want mold? Do you looooove mold? *laugh*

This review can't do the book justice. Just know that some of the strangest worlds and words in science fiction comes out of Rudy Rucker's works. He's striving ahead of the post-singularity crowd even before the Singularity crowd has gathered. It's pretty amazing. Let's alter reality with each book and make a real mess of intelligent species, a complete revolution of science and life and understanding wit every generation... and we're not far past 2050!

And to make things worse, aliens are transmitting themselves to unprotected moldies on the moon! It's an invasion of smart and some rather dumb aliens! Oh, no! :) :)

Is it going to be another genocide? Something worse? Will Stay High or his son or anyone else be melted down again and cloned or turned into a robot or a moldie or some sort of standing wave function again? Who knows! Maybe all of the above, and maybe they'll have to ride a moldie's skin while sharing time with an intelligent sunspot that wants to eat the moon like a lollipop. WHO KNOWS!

This is some crazy cool stuff. When we're not getting high with all variations of drugs or mathematical transforms we're inundated with math-speak so beautiful it may as well be poetry! And it is. Poetry that is. :) It's beautiful to see and the images in the text will stay in my mind for a very long time.

This is truly weird SF. This is cutting-edge weird and this one is almost 20 years old now! How odd! :)

And totally awesome, dude. :)

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Wetware (Ware #2)Wetware by Rudy Rucker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a wild ride! Seriously!

And I was just thinking that I'd have more boppers and meat-sacks in some sort of wacky adventure.

Little did I know that this would be about boppers making meat-sacks or what it would mean for religion in this wild, wild world.

Things are always changing in these novels. Big changes. Enormous changes. No spoilers, but the results of the whole bopper/human war is really freaky. Rudy Rucker doesn't hold back with his idea storms. He lets it all hang out.

I love it! And by the way, this one has a much tighter plot and the themes are less a drug-infused orgy and more of a brain-melt. Often quite literally a brain-melt for the characters, too! Let's start mixing machine DNA with normal biology, shall we? Roll out the machine messiah and other preachers of peace and harmony between all PEOPLE, no matter what they began as or what they became, and then let's roll out the reactionary machine.

Of course.

But what a wild ride! It's the details and the the gorgeous tidbits of a really zany SF future that makes this novel. I stand by my original pronouncement that these should BE a huge Cult favorite. :) We should all be sitting around these books hitting shots and laughing about all the nutty things going on here!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Software (Ware #1)Software by Rudy Rucker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Totally crazy fun. I haven't had this much sheer delight in crazy robot action in ages. The boppers are a blast.

Get this: turn the whole meme of eating brains into a gigantic robot enterprise to upload meat people into imperishable robot bodies, turn the moon into a robot paradise fueled by program evolution, add a serious stoner meat-person to join in the fun up in the moon, and make sure we've got a lot of funny and light and subversive dialogue, and we've got SOFTWARE.

Truly, this is one of those gems that should be a cult classic rocking around in people's mental spaces and cropping up every once in a while in regular conversation.

We're going to Disneyland! (Okay, wait, let's place this in its proper time, shall we? 1982. This is "officially" the start of the cyberpunk movement, but it shares very little in common with Neuromancer. It's more of a 60's stoner movie with crazy philosophizing robots behaving like zombies for people's meat brains for the stuff we hold in 'em, with weird homages to the traditional "human" lifestyle that's more epic comedy than a serious piece of love. Think Asimov's Robots meeting Hunter S. Thompson.)

I love it!

But that's not to say that there isn't some issues with plot or payout at the end of the novel, because there isn't much of that there.

But honestly? I just don't care. Its wild and fun and funny and I'm thrilled because it's only the first of the four in the quadrology. :)

The mark of a good book is sometimes all about how much fun we have; not focusing on silly things like plot. :) This is an idea-lover's book and it's written very well, transporting us away into a hellofafun pot-dream.

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Prometheus BoundPrometheus Bound by Aeschylus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is probably the best and most classic telling of Prometheus, from his giving fire to man from the noblest of reasons to how horribly and seemingly unjustly that Zeus punishes him.

All arts and tools come from Prometheus, after all, and he should always be considered the greatest of all friends of mankind even though he is a titan.

However, he's also the one that pushed us to improve our intellect in the same way he did for himself, and in doing so, he brought harm upon himself. See a trend? We created war with the smelting of ore into weapons, after all. It's not all about cooking and keeping warm or creating medicine.

Was Zeus right? Was it right to keep an immortal chained and have a bird eat his liver for all eternity? Or was this just the graphic depiction of what we will always do to ourselves?

I wish I could read the other two parts of this play. I think that would be awesome. :) But alas. What we've got is still pretty raw and emotional and delightfully slanted. After all, we're meant to sympathize entirely with Prometheus throughout the play.

It reminds me an awful lot of Paradise Lost. :) Good motivations and charismatic leaders leading to roads paved to hell. :)

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4)Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Buddy-read and re-read!

It's Barty Crouch time! This is the first time that a non-titular character in Rowling's work becomes the main character, crowding out Harry, Hermione, and Ron altogether! He even crowds out the plight of the house elves!

All Hail Barty Crouch!

Ahem. Sorry. I've been under the Imperius curse. For a long time. Sorry. In fact, it's been almost the entire length of this novel. I just broke out from under it only to find that my place is a mess and there are approximately 365 pairs of socks draped over all my bookcases. (Don't ask.)

I loved this book more than the movie, alas. I especially loved all the times under the Veritus potion where we get a full breakdown of events from Barty's PoV, obviously, and to a lesser degree, the House Elf Liberation Front. I feel for you, Hermione!

And, of course, I miss the fact that Harry's winnings in the Tournament went to the twins. I thought that was brilliant in the books and inexplicably missing in the movies. Seriously! I want to hit something! Or at least curse it.

If you haven't read these books, shame on you. If you have, you feel me. Right? :)

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Penric and the Shaman (World of the Five Gods, #1.6)Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This novella continues the exploration of the Chalion realm, but rather than focusing on what it means to be a Divine or a Sorcerer, we're given insight in what it means to be a Shaman.

It's very interesting in conjunction with everything we learn in the The Hallowed Hunt.

Wolf man, indeed!

Actually, even though I was hoping for more of Desdemona, the 12 personality demon lodged within Penric's head, I wasn't too disappointed just to have her causing him a bit of trouble instead of nearly taking over the tale (and my interest) as had happened in Penric's Demon.

Instead, we've got a Penric who has gotten comfortable and educated and not desiring any sort of adventure, so yeah, of course we've got to have him sent on a mission to find a murderer and a soul-stealer. We've got to break him out of his rut! :)

The adventure is both fun and rather desperate at the same time because we get three PoV's. Penric of course, the Shaman, and the hunter. It makes for a very rounded tale and an very interesting look into what might be one of the most fascinating features of this series: the magic.

The gods are always interesting, too, but this novella really focuses on the magic of both sides of the coin, and I really enjoyed it.

I'm looking forward to more!

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this as a buddy read, but really I wanted to compare the text to the movies more than anything. I've watched them so much and I've only read the series once through. (Now twice through this third book.)

So what do I think about this monstrosity of a series that gets so many hearts a-pumpin? About this book in particular?

I love it.

But how about this book in comparison to the film, you ask?

ALAS! I like the movie better.

What??? Blasphemy! Heretic!

No no no, give me a chance. I liked the fact that Hermione develops real stressed-out reasons for giving up the time-turner even if the reasons are still rather weak, all told, when taken in conjunction with all the other crap that happens in the series later. It'll always be one of those hedge-moments for me. BUT, putting that aside, the actual narrative events that happen in the book that I think are the best parts, namely the space of a certain 3 hour stretch, BOTH times, was much more fascinating and fleshed out in the movie.

Sorry! It's true! All the expressions and the little tidbits and quirks were more brilliant on the screen. And so was the penultimate event that always... ALWAYS brings tears to my eyes... the moment when Harry realizes that he was the one to bring out that awesome power to save himself. Even now I tear up when I think about it.

Yes, the book has it, but the build up was just too quick in the text. The movie, however, did what movies are brilliant at.... SHOWING us the enormity of the event. Sometimes it just takes the right media.

The movie is my favorite of the series. I'm reserving judgement as to whether the book is as well. (At least until I finish my re-read. :)

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

InterfaceInterface by Lucy Mihajlich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm really impressed!

It seems to be a mostly tight novel that's spoofing internet culture, at least on the surface, and humorously so, but the core of it is really a character-driven roadtrip tale with witty dialogue and some very messed up memes peppering the text with panache.

And serial kidnappings.

And camping with trolls. (The internet kind. Not the fantasy kind.)

And murder.

The tragedy portions don't overwhelm the story. They happen to be more of a backdrop for rather complicated characterizations. Like I said, I'm very impressed.

For those in the know, it feels like a close mash-up of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, (which happens to be a fantastically weird economics treatise based on confidence and living in Disney World as an indigent) and a lot of Lauren Beukes's awesome situations and banter.

This reads like a lightweight novel, but in reality it's overflowing with beautifully complex memes and world-building that pays homage to games, fury-porn, internet, hacking, and living like indigent bums on a stinky quest to a computer industry that has become a religion... and the need to find justice... or something. ;)

No spoilers. It's very cool.

The text is very polished and I'd absolutely recommend it to everyone who likes Beukes. :)

Thanks to the author for a copy! Totally worth it. :)

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The PrestigeThe Prestige by Christopher Priest
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Really amazing. I thought I knew the real story based on the movie, but I was WRONG.

I love the epistolary nature of the novel and how the story stretches through time, but my favorite bits were all between the two warring illusionists. I can't believe how far the two of them went to prolong their feud of pranks. It was kinda great seeing two professionals unwilling to harm their craft still work around all the little niceties to get at one another.

And then while I still remembered the whole Tesla sequence from the movie, the book takes it so much farther. I loved it. I really loved it. It turned a mystery and a rivalry story into true science fiction of the highest caliber. :)

Surprise! Sheesh. I want to just spoil it. It's so tempting. But no. No hints about things that should only belong in space opera tales or popular episodic federation stuff. No beam-me-up Scotty references or out of time or out of phase memes. I refuse to give away the really good stuff in the novel.

And it's really good. :) Great characters, great mystery, and great Prestige: the final result of the magic trick. :)

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Oresteia  (Ορέστεια, #1-3)The Oresteia by Aeschylus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is pretty fantastic. I'm surprised. I think I like this old Greek trilogy of plays better than all the others that I've read. That's including Oedipus. :P

The translation is pretty awesome, the tragedy is beautiful, and the underlying theme of justice and the balance of power between men and women is stark and heavy.

But isn't it about murder and eye-for-an-eye taken to extremes? Yeah, but it's still more than that.

It's mainly about honoring your children and honoring your parents. It's not as twisted as some of the other Greek plays, but it is pretty horrific. Agamemnon kills his daughter, his wife kills him. Her son kills her. But wait! Apollo sanctions his killing. Alas, the Furies do not. So now we have the older gods versus the new. Parents and children at each other's throats again.

Totally beautiful.

And here we all thought that Zeus only caused chaos, too! To think that he'd welcome the Furies into his court as honored equals.

(Personally, I think it was just a political move. I'm pretty sure that the Furies scared him shitless, too. :)

Great stuff!

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Friday, December 16, 2016

Bound (Alex Verus, #8)Bound by Benedict Jacka
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was so excited to get this on Netgalley and I'm still excited after having read the latest Alex novel. :)

Things have changed quite a bit for him and his friends after the events of Burned, and for any of you who remember the end, things have gotten Dark indeed.

Having no spoilers is going to be a huge chore here because all I want to do is talk about the new developments and the strange reveals and the action and the end surprise! *sigh*

I tell you, I'm still so excited!

However, I can safely tell you that this series is still going strong. The time frame is a bit more spread apart in this novel than in most of the previous ones, but that's just the nature of the new gig. Being on-call can be a drag in general, but certain bosses can make it so much worse. Poor Alex. Poor Anne! I can't believe the twists and turns. We get more of Elsewhere and the Hollows, too, and all of that is a real treat.

This Urban Fantasy *is* a real treat. It's pure popcorn fiction that hits all the right divinatory buttons and bullets. :)

It comes out in April. I just pray that each and every one of you walk, don't run, to your nearest bookstore to pick out a copy of it. I would really hate to see you need to call on Anne to heal you. She's busy enough, you know. ;)

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

The WaypointThe Waypoint by Ben Haskett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked quite a few things about this novella:

The descriptions of being abducted, the characterizations of the greys and the hybrids, and the clear-remembering of the whole event. All of these things are quite good.

However, I was trying to place what *kind* of story this was for quite some time. It's a pretty standard alien abduction story with the standard depictions, but the tale itself is pure adventure. Once I got my head around that, things moved quite fast for me.

My only complaint is the main character, Gil. His establishing moments on earth before the big abduction could have been longer and more defining for him. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'd have liked to have less action so soon. I wanted to get to know him, see how he resolves problems and issues on Earth, give him a solid foundation here before we see his character all revved up for redneck-in-space action. :) I just wanted to feel more invested in him before he got into big trouble. ;)

Other than that, though, I had a good time. It wasn't scary, but it was a pretty fine adventure. I especially liked the resolution with the whole explanations about why the aliens were doing what they were doing. I only wish that I'd had all that backstory BEFORE the inexplicable and odd behavior by the greys. :) A little third person omniscience would have been perfectly welcome even before we got to know Gil on Earth. That way our expectations are set up and we can lord over all that information as Gil flounders about trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

Again, this is an adventure tale. I didn't get any sense of a mystery or a horror going on. :) It would have been just fine getting that infodump right at the get-go. :)

Good stuff, all told! :)

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Metro 2033Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a cult-classic dystopia that managed to catapult high despite originally being given away for free a little more than a decade ago. It's a testament of word-of-mouth.

I found myself curious even before having this recommended to me, but I'm only now getting around to reading it. For shame, right?

This is very much a Russian tale with everything that implies. Post-nuclear survival tale within the metro tunnels, humanity becoming Morlocks and strange flying creatures preventing any egress. (Along with the heavy radiation, but who's really counting that?) ;)

The novel was very interesting in how the novel was nearly a traditional coming-of-age tale, but more than that, I nearly had to stop at a regular basis because of how episodic it seemed, too. Maybe I should have. I might have enjoyed it more.

As it was, we followed the main character from one part of the metro tunnel to another, discovering strange belief systems that happen to be pretty much everything that we moderns know now. Christians, fascists, satanists, worm-worshiping cannibals and of course capitalists were discovered with fresh, unpolluted eyes. The novel had a lot to say. It was very ideal-and-idealism oriented. Maybe it was just the utter feel of being disillusioned by all the lies that we humans keep telling ourselves, and maybe it was that old Russian pragmatism at work, but I thought this was both the novel's main strength and main weakness.

Maybe I wasn't in the mood for it. And maybe I've already had my fill of such classic translated Russian novels. :) Either way, I appreciated this novel while not entirely getting into it.

That's not to say it wasn't full of great parts. It refers to and pays homage to Roadside Picnic, Stalkers and all. The ending made up for almost all the slow parts that felt like kind-of a slog.

All told, I'd recommend this for fans of extremely well-developed post-apocalypse literature with a huge serving of what classic Russian literature is known for: shovels and ideas. :)

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Lock In (Lock In, #1)Lock In by John Scalzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My enjoyment of this book is probably unduly influenced by the narrator, a certain Will Wheaton, who pulled off yet another hat trick with his friend John Scalzi. What can I say? I'm a fan of both. So how does that allow me to rank a tale on a tale's own merits?

It doesn't. Alas. I just had a good time no matter what.


So what's this about? Telepresence! It's a novel about telepresence! Yeah, yeah, there's the horrible brain-re-writing virus and the people who weren't hit so hard with it, allowing those people who were locked-in in their bodies to experience remotely through someone else, and then there's also the robot waldos for the rest of the body-locked victims... and here we've got a changed world and plenty of interesting possibilities opened up to us.


Yup! Police procedural, done STRANGE. But don't just assume that Scalzi does a paint-by-numbers. We've got political intrigue, classism, culturalism, and just plain prejudice going on here. Did I enjoy the snags that came along with having remote bodies? Hell yeah.

This is classic SF made modern and snappy and timely. There's even a bit of a virtual reality politics going on here. :)

Now, certainly, I can't continue without giving a shout-out to another one of my favorite authors that did something very similar, and did it well. More than a decade ago, David Brin's Kiln People brought up a lot of these great ideas already and even turned it into a great gumshoe yarn, but let me be clear. These two aren't the same kinds of tales. So many of the outward robot people and the fact that they're both police (or private eye) tales might make it seem so, but in truth, the two are quite different in particulars. BUT. If you like one, I do need to tell you that you'll like both. :)

A side note! This audiobook came with a great novella that outlined, in epistolary form, the outbreak and the technological and political realities that created the world of Lock In. I personally thought that it might be better than the actual novel. :) It was fascinating to see the transformation of the world one sequence at a time. :)

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Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John ScalziMiniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!

I've been a pretty consistent fan of Scalzi so when I got a chance to read his short stories before publication, I jumped on it with zeal.

His trademark humor works great here. From trade unions and planets to booking agents for super heroes to strongly-worded employee guides at supermarkets where some touchy aliens shop, I can't say there was a story here that I didn't like.

Of course, not all were humorous by nature, but most of them were and I had a great time with all of them.

Expect social commentary, some dry legalese set upon really funny alien situations and a really delightful story about the end of humanity by kitchen appliances. :)

I totally recommend checking these out... but just not for the poetry. Um. Poem. ;)

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2)Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Harry Potter Re-Read with buddies!

It turns out that I didn't miss much the first time I read this more than a decade ago, but that's not an issue. I still loved the story. It helps that I've watched the movie like a gazillion times.

Sometimes it's all about introducing a new generation to basilisks and evil diaries and old socks. :)

Sometimes it's all about hating muggles.

I hate muggles! Ahem. I mean, sometimes muggles really get on my nerves. :) And sometimes the deserve everything they get. Hmmm. I get the impression, sometimes, that I might have done very well in Slytherin. :)

But alas, the test has me firmly in Hufflepuff. I'm okay with that. Really. :)

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Precursor (Foreigner, #4)Precursor by C.J. Cherryh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Back to one of my favorite SF series!

It's amazing how hopping into space after having such a thorough grounding in Atevi society can feel like coming home.

Really. Like a holiday where all the in-laws are fighting and sending coded messages across the small and cramped house, where both tradition and the cold vacuum of space keeps everyone cramped and anxious as the great uncles square off against each other...

And in the meantime, Assassin's Guilds and being steeped in truly alien emotions feel like a welcome surcease of conflict.

Humans. They're the real monsters. At least the Atevi are very logical and practical even if they think that liking someone is on par with a preference for salad. It's the captains in the spaceship that are the real aliens!

Conflict, intrigue, mutiny, and a certain Dowager make this fourth book a real delight to read. One might say it's the start of the second trilogy. These things are rather well organized. :) I can't wait to sink my teeth into the next book!

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Waking Gods (Themis Files, #2)Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!

I've been looking forward to this one ever since I read the ARC for the first, and I cannot even begin to describe how excited I was when I got the second. :)

In the first, we get an adventure and the assembly and the loss and the regaining of the Giant Robot Themis, with our motley pilots and oh-so-mysterious Interviewer.

In this one, we dive right into the thick of things ten years after the adventure began with the arrival of rival robots from right across the universe. We'd already heard tales of them in the first, from strange long-lived people who'd stayed behind to see through the bloodlines, but this is where things get really wonky.

And where the death-count starts rising.

And if you're more interested in the characters and their arcs, never fear. Some very interesting developments are happening. Am I just as thrilled for the Neon Genesis Evangelion nod? Hell yeah. Do I love this tale and the odd kinds of twists and turns surrounding our original researcher? Double hell yeah.

As for our not-so-favorite geneticist? I feel nothing but loathing. That's kind of the point. She rather deserves it. :)

No spoilers since this won't be released for several more months, but suffice to say I really enjoyed it and I really want to sing its praises. I love my big robots! I love ALL my big robots, even if they're not on our side. They still give me the warm tingles. :)

All told, if you guys haven't enjoyed the first novel, then get on it. The second is just as delicious and its satisfying all types of unfulfilled SF niches for us. :)

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Friday, December 9, 2016

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer (Johannes Cabal, #1)Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book turned out to be a delightfully evil tome that retells the Faustian adventure in a clever, dry and imminently British way.

Add a bit of Bradbury and the evil carnies, a dash of the detective mystery, and a very liberal dose of the classic "beating the devil at his own game"... and we've got this tale. I am pretty much delighted through and through, to tell the truth. :)

It reads like the lightest of Urban Fantasies, it has the darkness of the most evil of tales, it has the glimmer of hope and the joys of brotherhood (until they turn sour), and it has the most delightfully sinful romp of paperwork in hell that I've ever see. If only all such travels to hell could be so organized and planned. :P

Definitely a fun read. :)

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Babylon's Ashes (The Expanse, #6)Babylon's Ashes by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reading this series is always like coming home to a really wonderful and wonderfully fucked up family. You know, the kind that always seems to sink right into the heart of the whole solar-system's problems and even manages to be held responsible for it's civil war.

Some might even go so far as to indirectly link these guys to the tragedy that befell Earth. I know I would. But I'm kinda hard on my family.

Seriously, these books are great, but I think this one was a huge step in a great direction that I've been half-expecting since the very first in the series. James Holden is a real character. He keeps opening his mouth. And one of these days, someone's going to hold to him.

President Holden. Jeeeeezzzuuuuuuusssssss.

And then there were the deaths. The big one was surprising and sad. I always liked him.

The plot was pretty fantastic and full of action and who doesn't love BOBBIE in the hot seat? Wowie! And even a certain transhuman working closely with the crew. It's like a who's who of my favorite characters all working through dire hells. So nice.

This book clears up so much of the craziness that blew up in the previous one. That setup was amazing, but this one equally so. I can't believe just how crazy the solar system had gotten. :)

If any of you haven't picked these books up yet, then I'm just plain sorry for you. :) These are the gold-standard for system-wide (and now galactic) space-opera. :) It's all so close enough to us that we can taste it. :) Still great stuff.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wonder BoysWonder Boys by Michael Chabon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What the heck have I been doing with my life! Wonder Boys has been one of my favorite movies of all time because it hits all the wonderful buttons of writing and reading and being deliciously messed up and being so HUMAN.

And then somewhere along the line I read The Yiddish Policemen's Union and I still didn't make the connection.

So when I DID finally make the connection that one of favorite movies was really based on a book by an author I already described to myself as "wonderfully inventive and crazy", I made a facepalm that even my great-grandfather felt.

So here I read the novel at long last. And it was like coming home. It was the greatest comfort food. It was all of the joyous mess and the compilation of all cautionary tales about writers and writing that I've ever seen. :)

It was pure joy.

Grady is such a mess. But his problem isn't that he has writer's block. He has the other problem. No constipation here! He also has a bit of the Midnight thing, too. And a drug problem. But he's also got heart and he still believes that he'll conquer the world. You know. Eventually. :)

And then here comes another mess to compliment his own in the form of his editor. And then a young student who's just as nuts but who has at least finished his novel, and all of them get into one horrible mess after another.

Expect dead dogs, Marylin Monroe, Vernon's butt-cheeks, elevators and expulsion. :) I can't describe how wonderful this novel is because it just feels like a puzzle piece that slides right in and tells me that I'm not only just as flawed as these kids, but that I must be just as crazy as them if I can identify so strongly.

Oops. There goes my right to carry around my Sanity Badge... well at least I don't have to keep paying the monthly dues. :)

This is going to be one of my long time favorite novels and I might just revisit it regularly. It is SUCH a delight. :) Crazy delight. :)

Go write! :) LOL.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Remanence (Confluence, #2)Remanence by Jennifer Foehner Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This sequel to Fluency proves to me that I need to keep my eye out for this author's other works. There's a lot of great classic SF that gets revamped here for the more modern readers who are quite up to date on the technology-concepts and who don't want to slog through long explanations or embarrassing social bits of the 70's or earlier. :)

That being said, I like being right about some other things, too. I thought the main character wasn't Jane and the eventual focus on this book kinda vindicates me. :) Maybe they're co-main characters. :) I love my squiddy pal. :)

We get to leave old Terra behind and do some major exploration on an alien homeworld. There's some fun social stuff, some better *more* alien stuff, some unwelcome surprises, and after we pass the midway point, we've got ourselves a bona-fide space opera. :)

The adventure only gets better and sets us up for even bigger and badder things to come, because of course we've still fighting the Swarm and it's influence from the first novel. I personally think it's about time that these folks find some friends. Fast.

This is some pretty darn good SF adventure yarn that fits well in the basket held out by Charles E. Gannon, only we've got a reluctant linguist in the role of a captain of a full-sense telepathic alien spacecraft in conjunction with her squiddy navigator. :) I can't recommend it enough for those of you who like this particular brand of SF. :)

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Fluency (Confluence, #1)Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I may be taking a bit of a different view on just who is the main character of this tale.

I'm sure most people will latch on to the leading female for her guts or supposedly for her language abilities which get nullified by the oncoming story. At least I agree that one complaint is valid against this tale: I expected a first contact story with an actual deduction of language and communication. Isn't it right in the title?

Alas, no. We get a high-tech pill solution, but I got over that really quickly because the tale was taking me some very interesting places.

Dreams, old civilizations, a wealth of technology at your fingertips, space-travel... even becoming a visceral part of a spaceship. That stuff is awesome, and I dug it, man. :)

So other than her and her slow-burn romantic interest who she saves on occasion, then just WHO IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?

It's the Alien Navigator. :) He's got a real personality on him. He's behind everything. Utterly everything. I can't help but be fascinated and impressed at the nature and scope of his lies and how willing he is to DO WHATEVER IS NECESSARY to achieve his goals. :) He really did have to get very creative, and I think I feel closest to him out of all the characters. :) He's the real star of the show. :)

Maybe it's just me! :) But I really enjoyed the hell out of my squiddy friend.

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SunshineSunshine by Robin McKinley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a very welcome surprise coming out of my dire expectations. :)

I mean, a vampire romance. Seriously? Another?

Well stop scratching your head and stop moving on to another title. This happens to be one of the *good* ones. There are lots of elements that you've seen before, I'm sure, but it's all in how its written. McKinley has been writing all kinds of fantasy for over thirty years. She knows how to accomplish a lot in relatively no time at all.

Gorgeous world-building and a populace that will soon be overrun by vampires. Part-demons and sorcerers waging wars against them. The elemental mastery of the magic is amazing. Sunshine? This isn't just a nickname. :) When these little bits and pieces started unfolding out of the normal bakery life and a nasty kidnapping, I kept thinking to myself: well, isn't this just another setup for a romance?

Yes. BUT. McKinley never stints on complicated and interesting plots that kept me going all the way through. It kind of stunned me just how deep and complex this novel became out of my initial observation. And it's not just the characters, either. The kinds of races, the kinds of magic, the twists and the turns, all of them were added like spice to the novel and it kind of blew me away.

I've read a lot of mediocre vamp novels. I've read a few excellent ones. This one fooled me on it's premise and it's opening. It turned into an excellent one. :)

So what about shelves that call it YA? Why didn't I also do the same? Because she's apparently a quarter of a century old. Long out of HS and working happily in a bakery. That *might* be called a tiny tiny sliver of the new-adult market, but there's a LOT of dark stuff going on here with complicated emotions and reactions. It's definitely not simple and its often beautifully adult. :)

I completely recommend for fans of better vampire novels. (Even ones that feature romance!)

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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Harry Potter Re-Read with Buddies!

I think everyone knows the story. And pretty much everyone enjoys the kids, the adults, and the darkness of the tale.

I came late to enjoying it, turned off by the childish bookcover and my love of all things adult and nuanced, but I did come around to it. What really surprised me was the quality of the writing and the effortless nuance displayed AS IF it wasn't even a children's book. It didn't talk down or give platitudes. It just threw the kids in danger. (Or Dumbledore did. Again.) And let the world sort itself or not. Could we be seeing a version of survival of the fittest?

Okay, Harry. Here's your invisibility cloak. Go get into as much trouble as you can and I'll be sure to lead enough hints to get you into the worst of messes and lead you right to the person that killed your parents and who was barely unable to do the same to you. Have Fun!

Wait a second. This is a kid's book, right? It does happen to have a lot of the trappings. But what kind of sentiment is this? Let's throw the kids in the worst of dangers, shall we? Just turn a slightly blind eye. Put incompetents in charge of extremely powerful magical items and secrets. Hell, why not give eleven-year-olds the cruciatas curse? Sheesh. This school should get put under scrutiny by M.O.M.

And yet none of that mars my enjoyment. :) I like dark stuff. The fact that it has a somewhat happy ending despite knowing you know who is still out there is just icing on the cake.

Yeah. I'm a fanboy. I may not be a crazy potterhead, but I'll be honest. I've watched the movies like a gazillion times. :) There's just a spark of greatness, you know?

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Titus Alone (Gormenghast, #3)Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I waffled a little bit between three and four stars, but in the end Peake's use of language won over the rather odd plot departure in this third book.

I didn't mind that Titus was a stranger in a strange land or that he has apparently skipped far into the future where he's among moderns with airplanes or even stranger "seeing" devices or oddly strange ways of transportation upon one's side. All of that appeared to be a hop into the future beyond when this was written, too, so I'm going to call this SF as well as Fantasy. He seemed to be describing robots and AI! lol

I also liked the fact that Titus was nothing without his rituals or his history or his people. In giving up everything in the last book, he'd given up his own identity.

All good so far!

What kind of annoyed me was pretty much the continuity between the first two books and this one.

There was hardly any. This could have been a standalone quite easily, turning the modern world into a falling down the rabbit hole kind of fantasy for someone like Titus. Maybe he'd get back up and find a sense of himself beyond his place, and maybe not.

Unfortunately, I don't think he even go that much. The conclusion is quite dire. We are our past.

Do I really like this? No. Not particularly. Will I get over it because the rest of the text is pretty spectacular, minus some really atrocious sex scenes? Yeah, I probably will. :)

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Kill ProcessKill Process by William Hertling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been overwhelmed with a great number of recent novels that deal directly with hacking lately, and what do you know? It's a blast!

Not only is it stuffed to the gills with 0-Day exploitz and customized onion-router networks now that Tor has been hacked, but we've also got a masters-view of the process from within the tale. It's great. But this is hardly all!

The character twists before we even begin the story are worthy of a novel all on its own.

I mean, how many accolades can you give a woman who Dexters the victimizers of spouse-abuse, has been doing it for years, and has done it only through hacking? In my opinion, there's not enough accolades out there! Sure, sure, it's hacking and sometimes killing, but for the most part she merely puts them out of the way. But 50 victims! And she never got caught! W0w!

And then here's how she killed her own husband and lost her arm in the process, of course, but all of this leads up to the main course-correction of her life.

How to stop the abusive behavior of Tomo! (Read googly, FacePalm, Twitpocalypse, or any other the other social media sites.) They all save your data. Everything. They always have. If you start paying for a package that keeps you private from their targeted ads, then that's all you're paying for. The right to pretend that you're not being tracked.

Her dream is to have a nearly-open-source alternative with complete and utter control over customization in the hands of each user. Have it across a total distributed network, and have competing companies (and not just your trust in a single company) dictate how safe everything you've ever done online is.

Beautiful. Abusive partners, indeed! Is your loved one checking all your email and snooping on your physical location? Are they isolating you and blocking access from all of your friends? Well maybe some serial murderer out there is going to help you out! :)

It's definitely no where near as corny as I make it. It's a great techno-triller and believable every step of the way. The depth of characterization is truly delightful.

I totally recommend this right up with The Sudden Appearance of Hope and The Circle. The pieces they all have in common are pretty amazing. :)

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Friday, December 2, 2016

The DispatcherThe Dispatcher by John Scalzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This one's a bit hard to classify because it's fully a mystery, a SF adventure, and a Fantasy, rolled in one. :)

Enter in a major universe-changing condition: 999 out of 1000 murdered people come back. They arrive naked in their homes after the moment of their death. There is always that one that doesn't, though.

Enter in the shady and the not-so-shady people who take advantage of this little universal loophole. Dangerous operations in hospitals can be reset for a couple of hours. Horrible accidents on the street can be erased, assuming that the person gets murdered in time. And bloodsports, of course.

There's always consequences, of course, but in this novella, so many of the little loopholes are explored nicely and there's a great little mystery-twist to tie it all together.

All told, I thought this was rather a little gem. :)

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Company TownCompany Town by Madeline Ashby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reading this is like going through my own personal evolution, one story stage at a time. :)

I had to throw out practically all of my expectations at different stages of the novel. Hell, I even thought this was going to be a YA-ish SF, but no, it's a lot more than meets the eye.

It starts out as a biology-twist to a cyberpunk premise, where the biology-only character, Hwa, is an anomaly to all the tech around her. :) Turn her into a bodyguard, have her look into strange murders, and then, above all, keep adding new SF concepts... and the tale fleshes out into something almost unique. It's definitely quite beautiful and strange.

It touches upon beauty and the theme of always putting in extra effort, which I really enjoyed, and the twists are truly fun. :)

Family dynasties, indeed. :)

I'm pretty sure I'm going to keep my eye open for now on for more of this author's work. :)

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Dark SideThe Dark Side by Anthony O'Neill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've never met a more polite or sex-crazed (at least verbally) android upon the moon, and I've read about a lot of androids on the moon.

Seriously, this is kinda the perfect mixture of traditional mystery meeting an SF adventure. We've got all the world building elements of seedy communities accessible only with a great deal of difficulty or by monorail if you're lucky, crime bosses who are literally a world away from the authorities, and of course, since we're dealing with a mystery, that ONE INCORRUPTIBLE COP.

Lol. How delightfully traditional. :)

So yeah, if you enjoy mob bosses and robots and indiscriminate murder and unimaginable ambition mixed with an investigation and tons of corruption, this book might just be perfect for you. :)

Mr. Black is easily one of my favorite robots in literature now. :) He just has that certain something, you know, Sir? lol

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Last First Snow (Craft Sequence, #4)Last First Snow by Max Gladstone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm sure I'm not the only one to feel that this book doesn't really take off until negotiations turn to crap, but I'll say it anyway. :) The book REALLY takes off after the assassination attempt and that's also the spark that turns all the powers in the city upon each other. The Soul-Rich versus the Soul-Poor.

And it's not easy to negotiate with ourselves, as readers, just who is bad and who is good. It's very complicated, but more than that: it's vivid. We start out ten years before the events of Two Serpents Rise and we get the back story for Tamoc and what he did to Caleb. We get the re-introduction of all the gods into the city, too, and the slight diminishing of the King in Red's power. (Or it's enhancement, if you consider the return of the gods.) But either way, this is the book that changes the world. (Maybe not as much as 40 years prior with the war against the Gods, perhaps, but this is the book we've got.) :)

I'm continually amazed that the wide tapestry of the story. Not just the individual novels that are fantastic in themselves, but the over-story that encompasses the whole world and all of the events.

I've seen this before and have told myself that a full re-reading of this series is absolutely in order, but it's even worse now. The chronological order of books is all over the place. The numbers in the titles tell us that much. This is the earliest but its also the fourth book in the series.

That's fine. I actually prefer it that way. I love having already gotten to know and love so many of the personas that have center stage in this enormous mindfuck of a civil war fought in the skies, of gods and mortals and necromancers bloodying the streets of this oddly modern and recognizable town very much like our own.

Seriously, this writer is amazing. I'm still blown a way. :)

And yes, I probably will jump on a chance to re-read it all. I'll even do it again in publication order, too. The threads that keep intertwining are pretty awesome. :)

This fantasy series is rapidly becoming one of my absolute favorites. :)

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Full Fathom Five (Craft Sequence, #3)Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm still mightily impressed by this author. I'm placing him on a slightly higher pedestal than most Urban Fantasy lists.

Hell, it's not even *quite* an Urban Fantasy anyway. It's just plain fantasy, and this title proves it.

Street urchins, god-Advocates, grand injustice, and an oh-so-deep mystery. It's fathoms deep. I'm amazed. And rather disturbed. I'm going to be having nightmares about body-cavity living dolls now.

I love it.

These novels keep going in the strangest directions. It's as if the author not only wants to stretch his wings, but he also wants to prove that the wings are the largest, too! All three of these novels couldn't be more different from each other in style or theme, and yet the undercurrent of a much larger story keeps shaping itself in the background. The fore-stories are great and so is the background story that covers all the books. It's really clever. I have no doubt that all of these are connected in players and action, and yet he keeps pulling rabbits and great new characters out of his hat and never loses sight of anything. :)

I can't wait to see where it takes me next!

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Golem and the Jinni (The Golem and the Jinni, #1)The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm really quite amazed at the things this novel does right. It's a detailed and grand scaled historical romance as well as being a delightful hop in magical realism, but I couldn't help make direct connections to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

But not because many of the ideas are the same. They aren't. What is the same is the length and the attention to historicism and the depth of the real history and especially the depth of the magic. The length of the novel and beautiful prose also has a lot to do with it, as well.

It's basically an immigrant story that becomes an empowerment story with a strong thread of very understated romance. The large set of characters never overwhelms the main two. The woman of Earth and the man of Fire are both magical creatures that find their way at the turn of the last century's New York City. It's really quite delightful.

She was created out of clay and designed with intelligence and curiosity, but she was also designed to be subservient and modest... with an evil strain built in to all golems that make them wish to utterly destroy their creators once they get a taste for blood. He was a wild spirit of fire before he was enslaved and was forced to live in stasis for a thousand years until luck would have him freed... and at loose ends in cold winters that he is unable to escape from.

How beautiful is that? It sounds like the setup for a grand romance. But it isn't. Not really. Theirs is a relationship based on trust and deep friendship, and even when that trust is broken, they forgive and return to each other.

There's even an evil wizard that returns through each life with not just a complicated background but also a complicated inner life. I can't quite call him irredeemable. He does good and and makes beauty. He made the golem, after all. But his nature leads him down very dark pathways, too.

So was this a character novel or a plot-driven one? Both. And wonderfully so. I got engrossed in everything. The journey was a pure delight. :)

I totally recommend for anyone who wants a classy and gorgeous historical romance full of deep magic and iconic archetypal characters that are beautifully drawn. :)

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Friday, November 25, 2016

The Blood of Before  (The Bones of the Earth, #0.1)The Blood of Before by Scott Hale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first short story collection, all leading up to the events in The Bones of the Earth and The Three Heretics.

I was surprised to find that the ones that I had already read were smoother, but here's the best part: The ones I hadn't read were great. :) It's really nice having geeky kids and hardened investigators and hapless family members slowly discover that the world they live in is not their own. Objects and objects of horror often have a lot more life than anyone guesses.

But before you think that these are regular horror stories, check your premises at the door and read these. What always appears to be steadfast and true usually turns into truly nightmarish surrealism brought on by the actual warping of reality or mind or both.

The scale? Getoutofhere... you wouldn't believe the scale.

My favorite of this bunch was the new one I hadn't read yet, but I did get a very nice glimpse of in Three Heretics. The Black Hour has the fabled Dread Clock. :) Again, check your premises. What Scott Hale does with a simple grandfather clock boggles all expectations. :) This is the truly gruesome and extreme horror I've come to know and love and expect.

I can't tell for sure whether I'd recommend these stories before or after the novels, but they would be an interesting "regular life" exploration of the kinds of powers that completely overwhelm and fracture the world later. :)

Honestly, I think anything can be read in any order without any issue, with the novels before or after these stories. Characters and objects are persistent and show up in the strangest of ways. It's like piecing together a tapestry of events and people among an enormous horrorshow of epic proportions. :)

And golly, is it fun! :)

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The Last OneThe Last One by Alexandra Oliva
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me a little bit to get into this novel despite the rather streamlined and quick pacing and uncomplicated plot, but that was mainly due to the whole Reality Tv setup.

I got over that pretty quick because I got into the characters and especially Zoo's shifting viewpoint forward and backward through the timeline and the easy telegraph of the utter tragedy that was to befall everyone taking part in this media extravaganza. And further, of course. :)

Well as soon as I got established? Well, hell, this was a blast and a half. I really enjoyed seeing an end-of-the-world novel do a sophisticated treatment on the issue of perception of reality.

Isn't that a big thing in Reality Tv, too? People turn life into a game and it distorts everything they know. Mix it with something truly horrific and watch the mind work as it tries to sort or refuses to sort through the horrors, even denying reality for the sake of pure survival.

I can't blame Zoo. Not at all. I rooted for her even as I had to interpret all she saw and get horrified even more FOR her.

This has got to be one of the most complicated uncomplicated dystopian novels I've read in a very long time, having a razor-sharp focus on perception and coping mechanisms.

It may also be about the idiocy of modern media, a condemnation, but that part took a back seat for me. :)

This was a really fun tale. :)

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Winter Tide (The Innsmouth Legacy, #1)Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's impossible to think that most of you will have to wait until April to read this, and I say that for one reason: It's amazing! Take the Cthulhu mythos, take it seriously, have your sympathetic main character be a Deep One, and make us care for her family's plight.

What's more, add a more than liberal dose of book-loving research that include Enochian and all the best beloved titles from HPL, perhaps turn it into a quest to build or re-build your family's lost collection, and of course, butting your head against the Miskatonic University.

And of course, that's just a start. I loved learning about the Human races of of Air, Water, and Earth, about the great danger that the Outsiders represented.

This novel paints all of the happenings in HPL's works in an all new light, defines and redefines all the happenings on a much more solid framework of the universe. There's much less racism and fanaticism and sexism, for one. There's a LOT of interesting magic, however. And linking the plight of the Japanese Internment Camps with the two surviving children of the race of the Deep Ones was a brilliant stroke. Getting us involved with the government never felt more squishy, especially when the main action is set in the dawn of the McCarthy era.

I can't rave about this book enough. It may be intended for readers who love magical realism, historical novels, HPL, awe-inspiring fantasy, or anyone with a taste for vengeance against those who would steal your books, but honestly? I think it works on a universal scale of awesome.

And because most of you can't get your hands on it yet? Well... I pity you. Sincerely. Just keep your eyes open for it in April and weep with joy and wonder as you read. :)

Thanks goes to Netgalley for the ARC!

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