Thursday, January 31, 2019

Kitty in the Underworld (Kitty Norville, #12)Kitty in the Underworld by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This series is a consistently light read designed only for light amusement... assuming that preparing to war against an ancient vampire in our modern world, setting up allies between other vampires and werewolves and magicians to fight this war is a "light read".

Well, to be honest, it is. This is a UF dealing with social masked social issues, sometimes even coming back to Kitty's radio talk show, but more often of late it's all about killing Roman.

This particular novel takes a weird dark turn, getting her kidnapped and pressured into a cult-like magical ceremony with possibly deluded weres and vamps that SHOULD be Kitty's natural allies.

Was it kind of a mess? Yeah, a bit. And the whole identification with captors bit was a bit ... difficult... but this is, at its heart, a LIGHT UF.

I didn't hate it. But then, I don't usually take this kind of thing too seriously, either. :)

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GravityGravity by Tess Gerritsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Before reading this, I had few expectations. Just knowing that the author writes popular police procedurals doesn't always mean that other genres are a cinch to write. So I had to back off and just let the tale tell itself.

I let myself flow into the story as it began heavily on the characterization and it slowly turned into a medical thriller just happening to take place in space. The Andromeda Strain? Hmmm. But then the modern storytelling style got me hooked. No one behaved unreasonably. Smart, strong characters. Rising tension... and then somewhere in the middle, I found myself thrilling to the horror of it. :)

There's plenty of cool biology and medical thriller stuff, but you know what I found most interesting? It had cool echoes of Starfish. It even reminded me a bit of that movie, Life. Or conjure in your mind any rampant story of contagion, and you've got a great idea about where this novel is headed.

I have very few complaints. I had a great time throughout. But if I should feel the need to complain about anything... it's the end. I'm not sure I buy it.

But other than that, I think I had a lot more fun here than I thought I would. :) Tess really can write SF thrillers. :)

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The StrangerThe Stranger by Albert Camus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can so easily love this novel. I can so easily hate this novel. There's the paradox. But then, the tale itself straddles the minimalistic line inhabiting what could be a sociopath, a man suffering profound ennui or apathy, or... simply any one of us.

I could say the novel is, as the author first states, a philosophy or meaninglessness, of absolute gentle disregard. Or I could say this is a tale of a man who is worn down to nothingness and can't be bothered to evoke a single emotion despite his mother dying or being asked by a woman to marry her. Or, for that matter, when he kills a man, and then, because the sun was in his eyes and he wasn't sure he did the job right, he put four extra bullets in the man. It's logical. So is his treatment of his mother, putting her in a home and not bothering to cry at her funeral, or commenting on the meaningless of marriage. He's not really involved in anything.

He's a tourist. Or he's abnegating everything.

I'm very disturbed by reading this. I'm also thrilled by the conclusion, that all this personal horror leads to profound existentialism. In effect, he welcomes the whole world with the same honor that it has shown him.

One could say that he and the world both flip each other off.

After that trial, I can't really blame him.

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The Island of Doctor MoreauThe Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pain and savagery. Mostly pain. This is the Island of Doctor Moreau. :)

I admit I was kinda caught up on LIKING the whole idea of man-beasts or beast-men more than the execution here. As an old SF tale, it reads more like the dark side of Darwin meets the dark side of Victorian mores. Are we not beasts? Where's our civilization now? lol

But in point of fact... it's all about the pain. I think Wells was in a lot of pain as he wrote this. It's igore the pain this, ignore the pain that, be a MAN, damnit!

Snip, snip, cut, cut... SEE? All better now. :)

Grrrrrr, growl... but I have to admit I like the monkey man. Reminds me of some in-laws. :)

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Dragon PearlDragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this specifically because it was penned by Yoon Ha Lee. I'm a completionist that way.

BUT, I'll be honest, I am not particularly fond of most YA. It tends to be cookie-cutter plots and characters that feel like dough. It's fine if you like fat and sweet things that aren't that good for you but still make you feel warm and fuzzy afterward. And sometimes not even that... sometimes there is just the gnawing guilt and the shame.

Not here, though! I really enjoyed it. Yoon Ha Lee proves he can write a cool young Young Adult novel. I'd say the prime age is 11-14. It's all tricksy with a familiar blend of fantasy elements, magic in the way of charms, illusions, and speaking with the dead... mixed with space-opera elements of the 1000 worlds, big ships, lasers, and high-tech security. The mashup is, by now, quite familiar to us. All that's left is a fun story told well. :)

Ghosts, more ghosts, spaceship captains with wonky motives, stowaways, impersonations, and the overriding desire to find her poor maligned brother drives this novel, and nicely so. It's a great little adventure.


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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The DecameronThe Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amazing.

I'm utterly flabbergasted by how good this is. Forty years before The Canterbury Tales took England by storm, a little tiny place called Italy was having a full-blown RENAISSANCE. So why the hell have I been avoiding all these fantastic pieces of art, anyway? Because they're in Italian? For SHAME.

Fortunately, this translation is fantastic... and you know what? It really holds up. It has everything a public who wants to be entertained could ever desire. A hundred short stories framed by nobles hiding out while the Black Plague ravages Europe, eating, frolicking, and telling stories every night for ten nights.

Do you think a quarantine is a recipe for depression and disaster? Muahahahahaha NO. Let's just put it this way... there's more sex, laughter, trickery, sex, adultery, sex, theft, cons, sex, and hilarious situations in these stories than you'd find in the entire works of Shakespeare. And let's put this in perspective... Chaucer and Shakespeare stole a TON of s**t from Boccaccio. All of it funny and light and clever and wickedly perverse.

I always knew that literature, in general, is an incestuous lot, but between these many classic tales of spouses pulling fast ones on each other or selfless tales of true love or steadfastness or tales of corruption, greed, and confidence games, I'm tempted to just throw in the hat and say this guy has it ALL.

I know it ain't true. I've read enough Italians from more than a millennia prior to put paid to that idea. But STILL. This is entertaining as hell. And I thought Chaucer was a RIOT, too.

It just goes to show... never judge a book by its cover. You might be losing out on some GREAT comedy.

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Jitterbug PerfumeJitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tom Robbins in this book opened my eyes to the wild, wild world of modern satire, absurdity, light-hearted comparative religious blasphemy, and BEETS.

Just ignore the stench that just entered the room... it's only my old pal and buddy, PAN.

Drunken revelries are pushed aside for the enjoyment of tons of sex, hot baths, and more sex as the keys to immortality, but if you think that's just fine for a novel like this, THINK AGAIN. A genius waitress working in a Mexican restaurant in Washington State is working on a 1000-year-old mystery perfume while a 1000-year-old sacrificial king refuses to die, working as a janitor. Add a wild cast of Tibetan monks, a low-caste ancient woman, the coming floral revolution, and more sex than you can shake your stick at, and throw it into one hell of a funny satirical soup full of great lines and beets on your doorsteps.

This book changed my life the first time I read it, but I didn't exactly fall into a quest for the perfect taco... I went on a road trip to find the perfect pizza, tho, and while I only did the homeless wandering bit after college for a month, Alobar got to do it for a millennia! I'm so jealous! Oh, yeah, and he's easily had more sex than ANYONE in the world. And baths. Sigh.

Such a wild, irreverent ride. :) I read this and then I look at what Gaiman did later. I definitely thought of Robbins when I read American Gods. :) It's a bit funnier than American Gods, too. :)

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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Night and Silence (October Daye #12)Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Damn. This one hit me pretty hard.

Tybalt's situation is already bad enough, but to learn that Toby's now 100% human daughter has been abducted under bad circumstances? It could have been just the start of a cool adventure. Off to the college campus, hunt down clues... but what we learn is something much more insidious. Toby's grandmother. The reveals. The NASTY reveals.

I got pretty emotional over this novel. It's not just the fact that Toby lost 12 years as a freaking fish, coming back to the world with her daughter already a teen, her fiance hating her, and her daughter wanting nothing to do with her. It's worse because of all the OTHER lies. Ahem. Gillian's adoptive mother. *grrrrrrr*

Okay. I'm angry. A lot angry. I wanted to rage at her throughout this novel. I've never felt more pity for Toby. She's made her share of mistakes. Tons of mistakes. But this one wasn't hers.

What a ride!

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Saturday, January 26, 2019

ChockyChocky by John Wyndham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been a pretty staunch fan of John Wyndham already, so I am not all that surprised to find that I enjoyed Chocky. It's not about mass blindness and man-eating plants or about the great novel that was later turned into Stepford Wives. Indeed, this one keeps its focus tight upon a little boy whose imaginary friend isn't all that imaginary.

It's a fascinating concept, looked at psychologically, but it was the social consequences that made this really stand out. A nod at possession, the reason is quickly ignored for the more interesting conclusion.

Alien telepathy. I mean, hello! Since light is the speed limit, the only reasonably efficient method of exploration has got to be SOMETHING ELSE. Especially if you want to send real spaceships to other intelligent races, you need to make sure you're welcome. :)

But of course, filtering higher concepts and technologies through a kid can be somewhat... frustrating. I can perfectly see how fraught this particular first-contact scenario can be. And thankfully, it doesn't go the full-on Stephen King route. Almost everyone is rational and takes reasonable precautions and rationalizations. I mean, we are human, after all. We don't automatically throw our kids into mental asylums on a first brush with the uncanny or frankly impossible... Do we?

No, no. This is still a rational world in this short novel. Of course, if King wrote it, I would expect something with a death toll, a very, very angry alien, and a kid hounded by pitchforks.

:)

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The Girl in the Green Silk Gown (Ghost Roads #2)The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This second book in the psychopomp business of Road Magic is well worth sticking a thumb up for. Or two.

But beyond the wonderful ideas of putting on the miles to get more powerful or always having a place to stay in ghostly diners or being friends with a bunch of dead people and half-cognizant ocean gods, I have to say I kinda fell over backward for the wonderfully wicked twist on Orpheus and Euridice. :) Seriously.

Where else could we twist the events changing Rose's "life" into a quest to end it by literally going to Hades and making a similar deal?

Only with Seanan. Totally cool.

I really wanna see the pretty boy Bobby get his. Maybe the next book.

You know what? I think I may like this new UF of hers even more than the Incryptid series! It has so much solid going on and even though it IS tied to the Incryptid, at least obliquely, it certainly doesn't depend on it.

Go psychopomp, go! :)

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The Remains of the DayThe Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having sat on my shelf for way too many years, I finally got around to reading this novel. Why did I read it?

Because I liked the title.

Hmm. Not that inspiring, eh?

Fortunately, I did enjoy it for what it is. I saw all the Dontown Abbeys and I've seen more than my fair share of butler shows and I even read Jeeves.

I have to say Dontown Abbey has a LOT more reversals and bit upheavals and sex. This one, however? Hmmm... it is a stately study on dignity. THAT'S IT. A decline of faculties, getting older, never once taking a stand or a chance on living his life, not even in love or even expressing emotions, Stevens is the penultimate man of Dignity.

The rest of the novel is pretty much straight introversion, refusal to reevaluate his life except in very subtle and hesitating ways, and the big end is an acceptance of the fact that humor MIGHT be a valid tool in his personal toolbox for living life. At the end of his life.

I'm waffling between three and four stars on this one. Nothing much happens except watching an iceberg melt, but the melting of the iceberg is still pretty fascinating. A crash here. A decline there. And don't forget the horror of that one piece of unpolished silverware!

I kinda want to watch Dontown Abbey again.

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Friday, January 25, 2019

Madame BovaryMadame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The wages of Sin is DEATH!!!! Muahahahahahaha....

Oh, wait, this is supposed to be a shockingly candid morality play about wonton desires, materialism, sex, more sex, and the lassitude that comes from throwing caution to the wind and fulfilling your every fantasy.

You know... like Lindsay Lohan. Emma was the Lindsay Lohan. Spending more than she ever had, committing ADULTERY *gasp* 1850's, and generally being a bad, bad girl with that pocketbook.

In other words, a bored housewife's ultimate fantasy. No whips or chains this time, however. Flaubert really WOULD have been found guilty and thrown in the place where only the most morally depraved go.

You hear that, Voltaire? Just watch yourself. You, too, Sade. I don't want to be hearing any of that nonsense about couching philosophy in a sexually charged medium.

Oh, Flaubert... were you REALLY just talking about taking basic fiscal responsibility? Oh, crap. You were.

Oh, well, never mind...

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Mistress of the Empire (The Empire Trilogy, #3)Mistress of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The third in the trilogy started out so strong that I wanted to rage, weep, and throw the book against the wall.

I really hate it when books tear me to shreds. The tragedy in the opening was a real nightmare for me and the characters in here, but more importantly, it drove a lot of the massive change to come.

We are, after all, sitting on a trilogy that completely upends the entire society. Civil War, massive change for the Cho-Ji, and even the Council who are above the law, the High Magicians, and the Emperor will have to bow before it.

Moreover, I should mention that this particular trilogy places fine emphasis on showing every single step, every important building block from a young girl just trying to save her house, to become indispensable to the Emperor, to become The Power of the whole land. It's impressive, and no doubt. This isn't some simple tale. It's all about politics, power bases, economics, spy networks, mortal enemies, revenge, deception, and total social upheaval. So yeah, it's impressive as hell.

My only complaint was for a few of the slow bits. And I wasn't all that interested in the spymaster's love life. It might have been something cool but it just didn't turn out all that great for me. *shrug* But everything else was fantastic! :)

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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Servant of the Empire (The Empire Trilogy, #2)Servant of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I honestly think this second book in the trilogy is better than the first. Maybe it's due to getting used to the characters and the initial worldbuilding over on the other side of the pond... or I should say, the other side of the universe through the Rift from the previous Rifwar books... but I honestly don't think so.

This is a lot more solid than the last, focusing more on Kevin from the other side, the whole slavery issue, and plenty of war footing to round out the politics and the solidification of the House.

And then, there's the whole thing about SMITING ONE'S ENEMIES in every way possible, even saving enough energy for mercy which is NOT accepted, letting her DESTROY with impunity. :)

Very fun. I'm fully on board to rip through the third book in this trilogy. :)

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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Feet of Clay (Discworld, #19; City Watch, #3)Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoy the City Watch novels because every character is a hoot. Vimes is off the hooch, Nobby is about to be crowned king, and there are truly mysterious murders going on. And attempted murders. Of Vetinari, no less.

This is one of those super-solid Discworld novels. Pratchett has his thing going on, full tilt. Discrimination is explored on a much broader basis than ever before and just imagine... GOLEMS! So everywhere that NO ONE NOTICES them. Solution?

Revolution. Of a sort. If you're going to demand your freedom, make damn sure you ask for a receipt. :)

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Monday, January 21, 2019

Daughter of the Empire (The Empire Trilogy, #1)Daughter of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having re-read the first four books in the Riftwar series, I'm FINALLY going to continue on with the full series in the order recommended.

I'll admit I was a bit skeptical about the collaboration because I was already a fan of Feist and simply wanted all the cool craziness and awesome ideas breaching time and space and two universes in his epic fantasy setup. :)

Moving on... this isn't that. It IS set on the world where Pug learned his mastery of magic, but beyond that and the focus on Korean-ish politics and The Game between houses, there's not any magic to speak of.

Mara is our focus, inheriting and learning to defend her house and its lands after her father dies. From start to finish, it's all about playing The Game. Survival by way of alliances, treachery, honor, and politics.

For what it is, namely a fantasy showcasing the rise of a single woman in an alien empire, letting us grow with her in the process, how she gains alliances, gains and loses a husband, and survives debts, and the matter of a blood feud. Pretty cool, all told, but I should mention one thing...

Even tho this came out many years ago, there have been MANY authors to follow in this particular footstep, and I'm pretty sure that this duo was not the first. If I had to rate some scenes between, say, Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight books and this, I would have to point to Sanderson... BUT, some awesome scenes first showed up in Daughter of the Empire. Just saying.

I may not love this nearly as much as I enjoyed the first four books, but I definitely enjoyed myself reading this. Mara is a strong female character dominating a tale back when it was still a rarity. :)

I'll be devouring two more of these in the trilogy in a few days. :)

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Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Sirens of TitanThe Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm one of those people who like to pick on the super popular works of SF especially when the literary intelligencia has deemed so-and-so SF writers better than the common hoi polloi. I have to see what is up with them, find a reason to bring them back to the SF fold rather than the claustrophobic Literary BS.

So what happens when I pick up Vonnegut and read him?

I like him. Again. Damn it. In fact, The Sirens of Titan may be my favorite. It's a toss-up between The Breakfast of Champions and this. Slaughterhouse Five is third. I was bored the first time I read Cat's Cradle, so I'll leave that off this list. :)

This is a funny book. It tackles so much. Predestination, luck, a god with a nasty sense of humor, more luck as a cosmic joke, and lots of rented tents. Rent a tent! Rent a tent! :)

Ostensibly, this SF pulp novel feels like an SF pulp novel with spaceships, a war with Mars, little music loving aliens on Mercury, and a mad ancient sculptor on Titan. Add a little shock to the system with all time and space open to ya and your cosmic dog, and all the good and bad luck of the universe will befall our MC. :)

Again, pretty wild.

So what is this? A pulpy-SF from '58? It's certainly light, funny, and entertaining.

But I suppose it's gotten the attention it has gotten for one big reason. It has depth, too. A lot to say about God. Insanity. Memory. And almost nothing good to say about modern society. It is, in every respect, a light satire.

More importantly, it's great writing. :) I totally recommend this to everyone.

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Saturday, January 19, 2019

The High CrusadeThe High Crusade by Poul Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had a certain idea about what this book was to be about before I read it. I'm a fan of Poul Anderson and some of the previous novels were so rich with history and research that I just had to finally read THIS:

1345 English knights under Edward III encounter first contact with aliens.

Awesome, right?

Well, imagine my discomfort and disappointment when it was pretty much a gloss-over for the actual history bits and we're left with the standard romantic Chivalry crap. And the aliens are peaceful. Ish.

I readjusted my expectations, let the text speak for itself, and lo-and-behold... I still had fun. Especially when these English knights are LOST IN SPACE and defeating alien strongholds and saving alien princesses. :) :)

It still has all the Chivalry crap, but now it's a tongue-in-cheek 'Doc' E E Smith space opera that feels a lot like Farscape.

As I read these later parts, I kept giggling at the thought of a full tv series like this. Modernized, of course. The novel did come out in 1960. So just think, a fully culturally accurate update of post-Crusades Europe co-opting spaceships... spoiling for a new Crusade, only focused on a much more dangerous alien foe...

Isn't that AWESOME? Let's get our historians out for this one. Do it RIGHT. :)

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The Draco TavernThe Draco Tavern by Larry Niven
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very light and easy reading, this collection of short SF stories is framed chronologically and all told from the PoV of the bartender/owner of the Draco Tavern, a waystation for aliens in the 2030's Siberia right here on Earth.

I have nothing bad to say about any of the stories except that they're lightweight. :) That's NOT actually a bad thing. Imminently readable, quirky, observational, they tackle interesting subjects that might not be hard-hitting but are still entertaining.

Niven wrote these in a thirty-year stretch and they all work very well together as a single cohesive whole. His main strengths, as always, are his aliens. :) This is something I had a GREAT time with. Mos Eisley Cantina, Niven style. :)

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Black WineBlack Wine by Candas Jane Dorsey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a strange and difficult novel. Not difficult to read the way that words are read, but difficult to process, emotionally.

It's very strong on feminism by way of how much crap women go through in these pages. It's ostensibly a fantasy with lots of adventure and traveling, but through different characterizations, we're subject to tons of slavery, abuse, acceptance in the midst of horror, and sex.

I can see where people might call this a literary novel as much as they might call it a fantasy. The question of sexuality takes the forefront with LGBT featured. On top of that, the difficult narrative drive of abuse shows up in all shapes and sizes. I've read a lot of mightily difficult novels in this vein.

One particular novel that was written long after Black Wine, in particular, comes to mind. The Book of the Unnamed Midwife is just as emotional to read and while one is fantasy and the other is dystopian SF, they both have a LOT in common.

The strangeness of this novel has nothing to do with sex or abuse, however. It mostly has to do with questioning the nature of the characters in relation to the narrator. Confusing? Not quite spelled out except perhaps it is at the end? Yes to both. We're meant to re-evaluate all of the text, and it pretty much worked. Except where it didn't, quite, for me. A little too arty perhaps. I'm worried it cheapened rather than deepened the full experience.

It IS, however, well worth reading for all of us interested in the nastiness of the human condition and what steps we take to survive and find happiness despite it.

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Friday, January 18, 2019

The Skinner (Spatterjay, #1)The Skinner by Neal Asher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's almost unfair just how good Asher is with his space opera. I mean, there's hardly any space in this one and I'm flabbergasted at how much awesome alien life can be crammed in a single book.

Of course, it could happen in no other place than the most f***ed up planet in the universe.

Spatterjay. The place where life just holds on. And on. And on. Nothing dies unless it gets THOROUGHLY destroyed. And that means every life form, once infected, is effectively immortal. ALL life forms. I swear, if I didn't know this was SF, I would immediately assume it's a Lovecraftian horror. And it's FANTASTIC. :)

Enter equally messed-up characters, including one that refuses to go full AI despite having been dead and carrying around his corpse for 700 years... can you imagine what happens to HIM on a world where dead doesn't exist? Add a hive mind, a girl on a quest to live, and enough Prador on personal missions to make Prador Moon seem like a happy memory.

Beautiful setup, right? Well, it gets better. I got the distinct impression I was reading a ghost story with all the chills and frights. With the obvious twist where nothing dies, of course. Add a bit of Captain Ahab gigantic monsters that can only be taken down with VERY heavy artillery, giving even AI drones a run for their money, and I just have to say.... PLEASE, LET ME NEVER TAKE A VACATION HERE.

So delightfully wicked.

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After Atlas (Planetfall, #2)After Atlas by Emma Newman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This one was one rather huge surprise for me. I mean, I liked the exploration bits and the mental disability bits in the first novel. It felt genuine and fascinating.

But this one took on a whole different feel. Cyberpunk, a heavily populated society, massive injustice, social inequality, and institutionalized slavery based on credits and indenture. I loved this aspect. I felt harrowed and despairing even as I railed against it with our main character... who has been S*** upon for 23 years, dreams of decent meals, and lives a life equivalent to a labor camp... AS a murder investigator.

Say what? Yep, specialized training, a chip in his head, wide powers to hunt down mysteries... and yet he's still pretty much a slave.

Cool, right?

The characterizations are all fantastic, claustrophobic, and I FEEL the need to solve the murder if only to get my mind off my horrible situation. Ahem. I mean, the CHARACTER's situation. :)

As a full-on murder mystery, I had a great time. As a worldbuilding novel, I was fascinated by so many of these details... especially the Circle. But as a character novel, I think I loved it the best.

Very well worth the read and my personal favorite between the two novels and one novelette I read. :)

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Inquisition (The Wolfgang Trilogy #2)Inquisition by F.D. Gross
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is definitely a much longer book than the first in the trilogy, but by no means does it lack action. In fact, I think these novels would be pretty much perfect for a fully-immersive game. All hack and slash with great descriptions, scenes, and settings.

Gimmie vampires, bogarts, all kinds of ghosts, goblins, and nasties!

What Gross does well, he does very, very well.

Action, eye-candy (please use your imagination), and MORE action. From town to town, countrysides, trains, Wolfgang and his best bud continue their bloody quest.


However... what does it lack?

Hmmm, well, I admit the characters are all pretty one-dimensional. Save his son! At all costs! The few subtleties were nice when they occurred, but in general, there was not a lot of growth or different tones to the tale. It was just as true in the first novel.

The good news is that the fun, fast action DOES manage to carry the full novel and entertain me in rather the same way that Expendables or Wick entertains me. Gimmie carnage! :)



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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Speaker for the Dead (Ender's Saga, #2)Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So great to revisit one of my absolute favorite novels of all time!

Back when I first read this, Andrew Wiggin immediately jumped into my heart to become my ultimate role-model, my hero, and the idealized version of myself. Ender's Game had him go through some horrific things and really set the stage for the man he was later to become, but it is the full-grown man that really pulls on my heartstrings.

No. He wasn't truly at fault for wiping out the Formics. That can be laid at other's feet.

But he absolutely pulled the trigger. And the end of Ender's Game showed us the beginning of his redemption. Where redemption takes the form of Understanding. And then telling All the Truth, the good and the bad. Exposing it to the world for good or ill. I LOVE how this turned into a very powerful force for good.

Better yet, I love how turning it upon this special world of Lusitania transforms everyone's lives this dramatically. Or how it affects four intelligent species. Or how it paves the way for real redemption.

I'm not all that fond of Christian motif stories because they're generally all ham-fisted and overdone. Like, A LOT. But this one does NOT go that way. It's humanist. It's understanding that all of us have good and bad within us, and that accepting (and really understanding) each other is can be the most life-affirming thing that any of us can do.

The story of Speaker for the Dead is powerful on all levels of worldbuilding, strange aliens, mystery, love, and sheer cussed awesomeness. The threat of another Xenocide times three is shocking enough on its own, but when combined with all the events from Ender's Game, Speaker basically turns me into a quivering ball of emotional jelly. And worse, the characters, and I mean ALL the characters, from Pequenios to Navi's family to Andrew himself, just draws such a warm feeling from me that I can't even stand it.

It's more messed up than Ender's Game. More wonderful. Deeper, adult, complex, painful, and glorious.

I can't particularly think of ANY novel that deep down affects me more on a personal level. I'm thinking along the lines of putting this in one of my top ten best novels of all time. :)

So gorgeous. So important. :)

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1)Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So nice to read it again. I suppose I can point to this book as being one of the very first to open my eyes to just how much can be accomplished in SF.

I mean, sure, I first read Chriton's Sphere right after King's Tommyknockers so I was feeling the love already, but Ender's Game set a new standard in readability, emotional impact, and sheer cussed F***ed-up-ness.

Since then, I've read over twenty novels that shared echoes of this novel. And yet, I keep coming back to this and its companion, Speaker for the Dead, glorying in the wonder of all these little pieces coming together in plots both interesting, tragic, and wonderful.

This is one of those rare cases where popularity is not unfounded. A great tale meets great acclaim.

I can rank this up near Dune as one of my most beloved novels of all time. No question about it.

Do I pity Ender? Hell, yes. But more than that:

I admire him.

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MiddlegameMiddlegame by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, lordy! Big caveat coming. I'm already a devoted fanboy of Seanan and I read almost everything she ever comes out with no matter what because I trust her implicitly.

BUT.

Nothing prepared me for this ambitious, thoughtful, mind-blowing modern fantasy of Alchemy and Twins. She spread her wings for this one and turned tons of dichotomies into hardcore story elements, synthesizing Order and Chaos, Math and Storytelling, Isolation and Community, and made a story of Balance a bit more ambitious than any I've seen in almost any novel.

That's Middlegame. The space between the beginning and the end. The moment of transformation. The moment of synthesis.

I'm SOOOO freaking happy to have read this. :) I'm going to nominate it for next year's Hugo on its own merits and NOT because I'm already a fanboy of the author.

That's the quality within. :) My decision has been purified with a universal solvent. :)

Oh, and the characters, Roger and Dodger, are freaking cool. :) Great, complicated, beautiful story. The opener isn't quite as strong as the early days of the two kids, but that's merely my own opinion. Once all the elements started mixing together into this alchemical brew, the results were amazing.



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Monday, January 14, 2019

Cugel's SagaCugel's Saga by Jack Vance
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jack Vance is one hell of a storyteller. I may have gotten off on a slightly wrong foot with the first Tales of the Dying Earth, but once I fell into the groove in the second novel, it and the third are a pure delight.

Why?

Because it's nonstop trickery, confidence games, theft, and conscience-less knavery. :)

We follow Cugel the Clever who falls into every situation on both feet, lying the most grandiose lies and cheating his way through every fantasy location only to get found out and run out of every town. He never stops running.

He amassed and lost massive wealth in equal measure to each chapter. Quite delightful. Wicked. And cruel. :)

What Vance lacks in worldbuilding and reasons for a dying sun is more than made up for in chicanery and amusement. :)

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Calculating GodCalculating God by Robert J. Sawyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm very glad I finally got around to reading this. I think I thought I might have gotten a bit tired of the whole science vs. religion debate in modern SF, so when I read the blurb, I hesitated between wanting to read more of Robert's work or having to slog through one side or another of the Evolution vs. God kerfuffle.

But, again, I'm glad! It was nothing like a slog. :) In fact, it was rather refreshing to have rational science-type aliens visit Earth and insist that God exists to all the atheists here. Funny? Yep. And the whole novel ends making the best case I've heard for keeping an open mind.

You know... kinda like using the scientific method.

Of course, this novel couldn't have worked unless the aliens brought themselves and other aliens over and gave us certain proofs that genetics kinda works the same everywhere and that only life forms of a certain size are able to manipulate fire and there's a lot of archeology going on about aliens that have since passed on, lending yet more weight of proof to the whole idea that God exists.

I can't really put that aside. The novel couldn't have worked out like this without including these rational aliens.

But within the framework that Mr. Sawyer set up, I'm VERY happy with the results of the story. It's probably my favorite out of all his works. An easy read, lovingly rational, mixing tragedy with one of the basic desires we all have: questions. Curiosity. Speculation. A desire to know Truth.

In that respect, I think this is one of those great works. Keep an open mind. It might be that everyone is a bit right. :)

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

DiasporaDiaspora by Greg Egan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am very safe in saying that this is one hell of an ambitious, dense, and thoroughly grounded novel of mind-blowing physics housed in one of the most hardcore hard-SF frames I've ever seen.

That's including Cixin Liu's recent trilogy.

I've read a lot of physics books for the sheer pleasure of it and I have a pretty good imagination, but when I was reading this particular novel, I was hard-pressed to keep up with the wall of information, exposition, and detailed descriptions of particle and quantum physics, theoretical frameworks, then more theoretical frameworks branching off the first, and then yet more in case we might have been getting used to the previously heavy load. :)

Am I complaining? No. Hell no. In fact, I'm frankly amazed and thrilled. The underlying story feels like a MORE coherent and theoretical run on Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep, delving much deeper into the possibilities brought up by Contact, and it goes just about as far as you can go in transhumanism, ranging widely between regular humans, purely software/robot humans, and virtual polities within wide-umbrella AIs housing vast numbers of uploaded personalities.

The center of the galaxy went boom. It's the end of all life. Run. Run! Run!!!!! :) Vast number of years and high tech isn't enough to escape this.

What we have here is a full and vast adventure of exploration, discovery, and a mind-blowing physics reveal that not only lets the reader fall sideways through the universe and multiple dimensions, but it does it in an excellently ACCURATE direction (at least as far as we understand current physics).

The added realism is bolstered by a very excellent bibliography at the end and I can attest to the quality of at least three-quarters of them. :)

While this novel is NOT all that accessible to casual readers of SF, it IS extremely rewarding to those who are willing to sit through long theoretical (and not so theoretical) modern mind-blowing physics lessons. Is all the science necessary?

Hell yes, at least the way the plot requires them. :) This novel will not hand-hold anyone. And for that, my hat goes off. Much, much respect. :)

Oh, the novel makes me feel stupid, too. :) But that's okay. I've already sealed away a copy of it in a time capsule that will open in a thousand years for the enjoyment of our machine children with brains made of neutrinos who will have all the underpinning physics written into their bones.

:)


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Chasing ColdChasing Cold by Stephen Graham King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Two things:

I was entertained just fine by the actual SFnal elements and the adventure in the distant world, the inclusion of the aliens, and the adventure. Decent, not mind-blowing. The writing is perfectly fine, too.

But while I know there's a big market for sex, sex, sex, sex, sex in the smut-novel world, I've never been a huge fan. Most of the time it just feels out of place and/or a placeholder for SOMETHING ELSE to happen. Maybe it's a personal thing. I don't care for it when it's endless M/F F/F or M/M. If it's used like spice or the novel is fundamentally about a relationship, then fine... but this is mostly light and impersonal sex for just sex.

Again, there's a market for that... it's just not me. Alas.

But for all you M/M romance junkies in space, check this out! :) You won't be disappointed.

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Friday, January 11, 2019

Heaven's Net is Wide (Tales of the Otori, #0)Heaven's Net is Wide by Lian Hearn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I probably liked this book better than all the previous publications. (Published last, it is still a full prequel of the events that follow the next generation.)

This has tragic aspects because we just can't get away from it while we spend our time in a Shogunate-ish Japan full of thugs, nastiness, and inequality.

But fortunately, the main characters make up for that. The underlying love story inherent here later becomes the backdrop of so many shocking and sad reveals in the later books so I'm on the fence about recommending this book #0 before #1-4.

The effect of reading #1-4 and then jumping back to this prequel is quite nice. As in, damn, that was a ton of tragedy and this new (but old) history isn't QUITE as dark and at least we get to point at all the previously hidden events in the other novels and go... "Wow, isn't wonderful?" or "This adds so much more dimension."

I can't say for anyone else on this point. But for me, it made this novel my favorite of all five. :) Maybe it's because I've been invested and the payoff is just right and maybe the author's skills are even better in this later book. Who knows?

All I know is that I loved it. :)

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The Magician's Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia, #6)The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading with my little girl. :)

The formation of Narnia, of certain rings, and a lion's song. :) And, of course, apples.

In certain ways, I liked the more than the first time and less as well. The first half was an awful old slog that had me as bored as my daughter while we were in dreary old England.

But once we got to the fight in the streets and the chaos that drove the group to empty Narnia, I think we were both pretty excited. From then on, too.

Quite nice to experience the backstory this way. Much better now as an adult, too. That light post sure means a lot more. :)

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Harsh Cry of the Heron (Tales of the Otori, #4)The Harsh Cry of the Heron by Lian Hearn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The fourth book of this Shogunate-ish historical fantasy takes place a good fifteen years after the third book... just long enough for a certain missing son to come back as per the previous prophesy to kill his father.

Oh, boy. Just in case we weren't sure this wasn't a nasty tragedy, we now have ample proof.

This novel brings a ton of new characters and a few of the old into the fold. A solid corner of the empire, a popular rule, and the necessity to go see the emperor. The politics and the brutal necessities were very painful to me and I think I have decided to hate most of these people based only on their treatment of shooting dogs - for sport - as a replacement for war... which eventually comes anyway.

I really did like our MC's gifted twins for quite some time. Until, *spoiler, spoiler*, I want to murder one in particular.

And then there's worse to come. The transformation of intelligence and heart into honorless brutality, misunderstanding, and boundless hate.

Welcome to the Tales of the Otori.

Fortunately, the writing is beautiful and the imagery wonderful. Just be prepared for bloodthirsty Japanese soap-opera.


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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Brilliance of the Moon (Tales of the Otori, #3)Brilliance of the Moon by Lian Hearn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The third book in this cycle of the Otori picks up where the second ended seamlessly, continuing the ongoing romance... and subsequent tragedies (yes, plural) that befall them.

Mostly Kaede, I think. She and all women have it the hardest in these books.

But that's kinda the point. Feudal Shogunate-ish as this is, with a sprinkling of fantasy clan magic makes it feel more like ninja action than anything else. But unlike Naruto, this doesn't have that many happy moments to balance out the dark and sad.

Let's hear it for realism!

This is a tragedy. We know it is a romantic tragedy. So why is it so hard to keep going with this?

Perhaps because I've gotten to love these characters.

I kinda loved to see a lot of these other people die. Bunch of thugs. The politics is only barely better than the outright bloodshed. Are all men this evil? Or is it just how I feel after reading this book?

Anyway. A delightful read, if difficult and disturbing. The author does have a way with words.

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Grass for His Pillow (Tales of the Otori, #2)Grass for His Pillow by Lian Hearn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After the emotional events of the first book, the two lovers in this Japanese Shogunate-ish fantasy are split up. He's on the road and she must defend her new position as the head of her household. Winter is coming, indeed, in this tragic -- and beautiful -- setting.

Tone and setting are where this book shines, but the main characters have really grown into their own even if their situations are rather horrible. Or you know their situations are only going to get REALLY bad soon, anyway. :)

These ARE tragedies. Tearjerker tragedies.

And damn... I hate to say this, but all these old-time Japanese are just THUGS. Murderous brigands pretending to be honorable. Just... wow.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Across the Nightingale Floor (Tales of the Otori, #1)Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a light Feudal Japanese fantasy that focuses heavily on growing up to be an assassin, trembling with desire and love, and reveals that drive the main character to dire measures.

Does most of this sound familiar in YA fiction? It should. :)

Fortunately, I enjoy light Feudal Japanese fantasies... NARUTO!!! and while this is fairly light on the magic, (sorry, Naruto fans,) the writing is comfortable and predictable and I can firmly put this in the comfort-food category of literature.

Special things of note... lots of assassination training and experience! A love story for the ages! Loveable mentors falling to force big decisions on main characters!

Sigh... at least I like this kind of thing. :)

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Falling ObjectsFalling Objects by Jean Carrier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a pleasant surprise!

This is a fun modern fantasy that feels just like an old war movie. Part Catch-22, part Hogan's Heroes (this last will be obvious on the reading), it's pretty much non-stop action, magic.

Wanna jump from a fantasy airplane? :) How about be disgruntled with the war with all the other grunts?

This is a really fun mashup and I see a lot of potential in the ongoing series. :)

Super easy popcorn read. :) Very enjoyable. :)

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Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and DiscordSirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord by Olaf Stapledon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So much love!

Olaf Stapledon was a lot of things. Philosopher in real life, novelist in his spare time. But what really made him stand out was the fact that he could write short novels that encompass VAST stretches of time, events, and concepts. One had him envisioning a fate of mankind both good and bad across many thousands of years, or following a future history of mankind until all versions of us died off over a million years, or even encompassing the entire breadth of time and space until we're masters of the universe... and beyond.

And then we have THIS beautiful little novel that seems as far from any of these as anything I might imagine from him!

This came out in 1944. But think Lassie (ten years after this) meets Flowers for Algernon (15 years after this). Add a serious tone about fitting in when in 30's and 40's England when you're not the right skin shade or sex, throw in a very disturbing commentary on religion "for the right kind", and make two unforgettable characters in love with each other. And do it without making it creepy.

And what you have is Sirius. One of the very best tales of its kind. You can substitute the dog with a man's intelligence with any member of society who just Can Not fit in and this would be on par with any classic of traditional literature.

Honestly, the more I read of Olaf Stapledon, the more timeless his writing becomes. This ought to be a true classic on everyone's shelves if you like SF at all.

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The Evolutionary VoidThe Evolutionary Void by Peter F. Hamilton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amazing! Out of all of Peter F. Hamilton's works, this trilogy has got to be the absolute best! This particular novel pulls off a miracle.

Better than walking on water, better than a galaxy-eating Void, and better than all the sums of its parts. :) Be it Syvian alien-elves, post-human social structures, or a manufactured universe where psi powers are not only feasible, but where magic, time-manipulation, and god-like powers are just a part of a greater tale.

This is space opera on a scale I rarely see but what I always crave. And this particular trilogy slams it home with SO MUCH BETTER CRAFT than I usually see in this particular author. :) All the characters and the plot threads serve a fantastic purpose without the usual meandering I'm used to. He put SKILLZ into this one. :) Shorter? Yes, but all to the improvement of the story.

And what a story! A star-eating dream as Heaven with its own apostles versus several thousand years of super-technologically advanced humanity and aliens armed with deployable Dyson Spheres.

Holy shit, right? The ideas are freaking amazing and the execution is not only a pure delight, but all the characters are freaking memorable as hell. Talk about simple beginnings... where everyone winds up is mind-blowing. :)

This is some CLASSIC modern SF. Don't be afraid of the page count. It's worth ALL THE EFFORT in the world. :)

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Monday, January 7, 2019

The Call of the WildThe Call of the Wild by Jack London
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Re-read with a buddy!

Back in the day... like when I was a kid, I read this and enjoyed the whole concept of a novel written from the PoV of a dog, but oddly, I read Cujo before this.

The results?

A skewed perspective. :) I love dogs and love the whole idea that London UNDERSTOOD them... but since then? I have the sneaking suspicion we're not even talking about dogs so much as the desire to run away from Victorian civilization.

Why was this so popular back in the day? Because everyone was sick of being so progressive. It's better to be an animal rather than a subject of Her Majesty.

How Rebellious! How delicious!

No, no, we don't understand that concept today. *applies just a little more colored gel to his mowhawk*



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In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children, #4)In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

These Wayward children are all pretty damn awesome.

It's not hard to love a land built on your heart's wishes, a heavy dichotomy between fantasy and reality, and the rules that go along with it.

Lundry, in this one, feels damn important to me. It's almost like I was her. :) Bookish, reliant on rules and in love with Fair Value. She never wanted to game anyone. She only wanted to get by and remain invisible within the rules... and she eventually got her wish.

So pretty, poignant, and full of heart. This is the story of Moon and Lundry. A cautionary tale. A tragedy. Some hope.

And above all, this is one of the best fairy tales out there. YA? Yes. But but this is one of the GOOD ones. :)

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Sunday, January 6, 2019

Random Acts of Senseless ViolenceRandom Acts of Senseless Violence by Jack Womack
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Following the trend so easy to see for all of us who lived through the early 1990's, this book takes everything we experienced and amped it up to a fever pitch.

Womack takes all the increasing poverty, the general decline across the board, the massive riots, unrest and all the various drugs making it into every home (including prescription abuse), and tops it with violence on a very scary and down-to-earth scale.

It works so well here in this novel. The gentle diary of a 12-year-old girl in a money-troubled middle-class house slides step by step into chaos. It's so easy to get lost in her everyday concerns, but just like the proverbial frog in the stovepot, it's a cinch to get boiled in the end. :)

From being hounded by true asshole collectors, to moving to a rougher neighborhood, to being ostracized by her old friends, to getting involved in street gangs, this is one hell of a frightening tale. It's just normal life. Twisted inexorably to a dark fate.

And this isn't some novel about one single example. The whole world is going to shit. The riots continue much farther than what we saw. Presidents were mauled by angry mobs. Poverty is rampant everywhere.

The slide is not so quick that people don't TRY to hold it all together. But the slide happens despite everything and this made the book one hell of a horrific read. There's no way out. Anywhere.

Goodbye, normalcy. This SF is a supremely understated sociological SF that instead relies on great characters with great personalities driven into ever-increasing bad circumstances. As an idea novel, it's pretty damn brilliant, but as a dark realistic horror, it's even better.

Very worth the read. Scary.

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The Descent of Monsters (Tensorate, #3)The Descent of Monsters by J.Y. Yang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novella goes the epistolary format in a big way. Very enjoyable to me! :)

This time we get a harried and *hat upon investigator who is given no support from her superiors. Big surprise, right? But she's still required to figure out what happened to the boneyard that is the focus of this novella. Experimentation, a half naga-raptor monster, and of course... TWINS are involved. :)

Maybe this series ought to be called the Twinsorate. :)

What we don't get in sheer description or straightforward plot, we make up for in atmosphere and mystery. I like it. A lot. And we even get a practical example of active-prophesy. :) I like where this is going. I'm definitely keeping an eye out for the next.

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The Red Threads of Fortune (Tensorate #2)The Red Threads of Fortune by J.Y. Yang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Following the events after the first Tensorate novella, we deal with healing and grief from a different PoV. The other twin.

Point of fact, I got into this one a bit more than the previous one because more time was spent inside the skin. Internal dialogue and a very limited time-frame, as well as a more direct plotting, drove this particular novel away from the experimental and into the normal realm of modern storytelling. You might say it's more Aristotelian.

That being said, I really enjoyed not only the monster hunting bits *naga!* but the nice aside into the subconscious and what drives (or doesn't drive) the power to prophesy.

Above all, since it is told from a female PoV but with some heavy reservations about BEING female, for various reasons, it gives extra flavor... but perhaps not quite as much as the first novella. Still, well worth the read.

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Saturday, January 5, 2019

Kitty Rocks the House (Kitty Norville, #11)Kitty Rocks the House by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This continues to be a go-to read for those times when I just need comfort. Sure, it's about maintaining pack-leader status as the Denver Alpha werewolf, but I REALLY DON'T CARE. Protecting what's yours and revisiting old (and interesting) characters is a treat if they're very interesting.

You know, like Catholic Vampires who believe. Little details like that usually spark my interest. :)

Let's dethrone the queen, shall we? Nope. She has all the might of right on her side. Family, doing the right thing and protecting the innocent? Nothing can beat that, right?

Again. This is a comfort read and I'm quite happy to take comfort where I get it. :)

Then again, that cliffhanger is awesome. I want to see the series go in this direction. So fun!

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The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate, #1)The Black Tides of Heaven by J.Y. Yang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun and fast epic fantasy novella. Or is it SF? Regardless, there are great little tidbits and dense worldbuilding going on here and I had a pretty awesome time. I love detailed worldbuilding, but sometimes diving right into an assumed world only shown, rarely told, is its own joy.

Odd, no? But exposition CAN be quite comforting in a tale.

This doesn't have all that much of it, and that is fine except when it can get a bit overwhelming. The rest of the time, we have to just rely on the characters to get us by until all the pieces come together. Fortunately, they do. :)

The tragedy was the best part for me, but I did appreciate the sociological slant on being a woman and what has to be done to get or retain power in this particular setting. Both as one of the twins and the mother, in particular. But the tragedy sealed it for me.

Continuing on. :)



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The Neutronium Alchemist (Night's Dawn, #2)The Neutronium Alchemist by Peter F. Hamilton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How is it even possible to review a book jammed with a future galactic civilization getting invaded by the dead of all history?

Succinctly, I suppose. ;)

... unlike the first and second books in the series, at 1000 pages for the first and just under 1,300 pages for the second and an even bigger page count for the third. Ah, well, at least the book is epic as hell. The invasion goes from one world to a vast swath of the galaxy. Just how often do we get epic space operas with living spaceships, high-tech alien races, a vast number of inhabited worlds, only to have it turn into a war of the Living versus the Dead?

With a tiny alteration, of course. These aren't the dead rising up from graves. The dead are rising up out of history and out of purgatory, taking over the bodies of the living in a vast way. Vast numbers. And now it's almost magic versus high-tech in a very unusual war.

With Al Capone. :) And anti-matter. :) Hippies and star-busters.

Very fun. I have to admit it took me a while to get into Hamilton's writing style, but once I finally got to this proper comfort level, things really took off. :)

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Friday, January 4, 2019

A Bear Called Paddington (Paddington, #1)A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So. Yeah. I read this to my kiddo on the assumption it would be nice and wholesome and, above all, CUTE.

I suppose it fits the bill. In a way. In an old generation way. In one of those generations that are sleeping the nice comfy warm dreams of the ever-cozy and drowsy lives that can accept only a tiny little smidge of fantasy in their staid, solid, middle-class English suburbia.

I had to stop the book about ten times with my daughter because either she or I fell asleep on it.

It may be very cute in its way and it may be a real hit for some people, but lordy, to my girl and me... this was BORING.


Doing my part to ruin other's nostalgia. Peace-out!

;)

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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Thin AirThin Air by Richard K. Morgan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! To be fair, I have been looking forward to reading more Morgan since the devouring the trilogy that started with Altered Carbon. Wasn't quite sure I wanted to go the fantasy route with him, but his SF?

It's an automatic Hell Yes. I'm a big fan of Cyberpunk and Noir fiction and this has all the same great features (if less technologically advanced) as Altered Carbon. Think Noir disgraced military turned gumshoe but put him firmly on a Mars surrounded by corruption, nasty corporate tricks, and a military takeover in the wings.

In other words, the situation is ripe for a TON of bloodshed. :)

And fortunately, as we go through some pretty awesome plotting, mystery, reversals, I can safely say I had a TON of fun. It WAS a bit cliche with the dames, but let's face it... it IS Noir. And they were not cardboard cutouts at all. Sex sells. Violence, too. This book knows its market. :)

I LOVE the military upgrades. Do computers normally have this much humor? ;)

Cyberpunk rules!!! Morgan is one of my favorites and I think I need to get on the rest of his catalog. :) I'm so glad I finally got to this! What a treat!

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Tricks for Free (InCryptid, #7)Tricks for Free by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Seanan is my go-to-girl for Urban Fantasy goodness. No matter what she puts her mind to, it's always a treat.

Antimony is here again, on the run, and working at a rip-off Disneyworld. It's a bit of a step up from working in a circus and with these many people running around the park either as guests or employees. It's slightly easier to get lost in the crowd, too, and that's kinda the point. Our favorite derby girl has put away her skates to become a general employee of hell.

Fortunately, she's made some pretty good friends there. Her roomies are a blast. I especially love the Gorgon. Of course, even a long employment run can go down the toilet when the death toll rises and secrets get outed. It's hard to keep secrets in this kind of world. Surveillance everywhere, rampant suspicions of employees. Liabilities rampant.

Secret cabals of magicians running nefarious magic on a Disneyworld business model.

*shudder*

The horror.

This is popcorn fiction at it's best. :)

Try not to burn the park down.


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