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Monday, October 31, 2022

The Dreams in the Witch HouseThe Dreams in the Witch House by H.P. Lovecraft
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm glad I revisited this one. As an older reader I appreciate just how special it is to have some rather fascinating mathematical concepts introduced upon the page, very heavy SF ideas of alternate dimensions or foldings of space that would take a proper mind -- and body -- some place or time -- very distant indeed. Beyond the galaxy, perhaps.

Combining the pure mathematics with one hell of an obsession and an equally heavy interest in some esoteric folklore -- and the realization that these old maths had been the preview of ancient peoples -- makes this utterly irresistible.

Of course, this is Lovecraft, and he takes a goodly bit of time to gnaw away at his character's sanity one night or non-euclidian geometry at a time. The witch and Brown Jenkin and all the mysterious ceremonies and sacrifices are just icing on the cake. I love how he gathers so many of his friends around him to keep him tethered to reality and how they failed.

Am I extremely happy to have read this on Halloween night?


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Sunday, October 30, 2022

The Final Girl Support GroupThe Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I went through stages on this read. I started out loving the fact that all these old slasher-film heroines were based on real-life survivors and we got to see how they ended up, how messed up they might be, and how they just survived.

When the plot ramped up and went through twist after twist after twist, bringing us full circle to another re-enactment of the original campy movies but with a bit more realism thanks to the author and the premise, I was almost plotted-out. :) I kinda wanted more of the characterizations and more of a slower build-up, oddly enough.

But then the multiple-full-realizations hit and I found I had had a fantastic time and I really have no complaints at all.

I feel like I just went through therapy. Shock-therapy. And I feel better off for it. :)

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Friday, October 28, 2022

Apathy (Awaken Online, #3.5)Apathy by Travis Bagwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just as long as I know what I'm getting into beforehand, there's simply nothing bad I can say about these LitRPG side quests. It's all about character development and getting good at stuff and earning a ton of attribute points.

In this case, it's about making a rather mad god's black sheep happy and character development and getting good at stuff and earning a ton of attribute points -- in that priority.

I've always loved leveling up alchemy and we also get to play with some water magic. The other theme of finally standing up for what you really want to do instead of being pushed around by well-meaning people is also pretty great. It's hard being attuned to water. :)

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Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science FictionTrillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction by Brian W. Aldiss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All right. So.

The only true way to tackle a book like this is to write a book on the book and then bring up ALL the books that are booked about in this book and then book it right up to heaven so I can complain about all the injustices Aldiss booked on some of my favorite books and then complain that he didn't stay consistent but when he's being mean he's actually being funny and then I turn around and go back to liking this book and then after I come back to life I'm going to have to sip my tea and start wondering when the hell I'm going to start writing this theoretical book on books in a way that won't kill me because there are SO MANY BOOKS.

Or I could just say that if I were to begin a class on the history of science fiction, I could do much, much worse than to start with this, work chapter by chapter through it, and have massive discussions on what Aldis got right and what is HEAVILY SUSPECT and what is just plain dismissive fantasy.

That's probably the best way to tackle this one.

Consider this: he does a very credible job breaking down the origins of science fiction including the obvious titles that are science fiction without having this sobriquet of science fiction attached to it. Like Frankenstein. That's an obvious one that deserves all the praise. Moving on through Verne and Wells and a ton of other tomes like Gulliver's Travels is also a no-brainer. It's generally when we get to the later chapters about the Gernsbeckian ghettos that he makes a fairly valid case that it's all trash that I want to hem and haw. And then there are the Campbellians and the push to bring real science to the stage which is definitely a step up but tended to stifle creativity. Also a fairly valid case. And then there was New Wave and New Worlds eras of counter-revolution and counter-counter revolution SF and I don't really mind that so much, but when Aldis shits on Dune, only to later praise hit heavily, and then shit on it some more, then I start setting up my lasgun remotely to fire upon his shield.


And then there was the Asimov discussion/poopbucket. Or the Heinlein discussion/poopbucket. Or the Clarkain discussion/poopbucket.

Let me say this. I appreciate the discussion. I appreciate the wonderful effort put into really laying it all out and then coming back for second and third helpings, showing us so much of the good along with the bad, and I want to thank Professor Aldis for giving this masterwork class on SF, but respectfully, professor, you totally half-assed some of these greats and you absolutely half-assed the 80s and I'm even more pissed that there was never a Quadrillion Year Spree or a Googleplex Year Spree because all of this discussion is a GOOD THING and we need a really good breakdown of the gaints of the 80s, too, and the 90s. And the oughts. And the teens.

I've read almost every book (not all that much of the golden age SF stories, because they're mostly trash) in this book so I can really keep up a really good conversation about this, but here's the thing: most of the old and middle guard are gone now. It's only people like me who actively go back to try to fill in his knowledge of the old ones that keep them alive.

This makes me unutterably sad. There's so much greatness still out there and Aldis MAY have been a bit harsh on a few of them. Or maybe he was a bit too soft on others. The fact is, this is a discussion we should all still be having. Not everything old is crap. Indeed, a lot of it is still much, much greater than a lot of the crap we have now. :)

I know, because I keep reading both.

Worth reading?

Hell yeah.

Worth taking as gospel?

Fuck no.

But the alternative is death to my favorite genre, folks... warts and all.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2022

The Bone OrchardThe Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not only is this imminently readable, it's also ghoulishly clever.

A little admission: I didn't read the blurb, so going entirely by passive recommendations and a bit of judging a book by its cover, I figured this would be a rather standard horror tale.

I'm so glad I was wrong. Indeed, this is a lusciously crafted fantasy with necromantic elements, deep worldbuilding with careful plotting, and quite reasonable developments that kept me asking new questions.

It's a mystery, first and foremost, but with all the other hard questions about sex work, abuse, mental rape, and body horror -- AS AN INSTITUTION -- I wouldn't say this is a light tale. Indeed, it is handled very well and with poise and even a little charm. Because, let's face it, sometimes the only weapon anyone might have in a bad situation is charm.

I often got upset, but never with our MC. I was right there and invested the entire time. I was most impressed with how much epic fantasy intrigue, SF worldbuilding, and careful characterizations. It reminded me fondly of Gideon the Ninth, but more of a standard mystery tale.

I'm looking forward to reading a lot more by Mueller.

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Into the Windwracked Wilds (The Up-and-Under, #3)Into the Windwracked Wilds by A. Deborah Baker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yet another step upon the improbable road. :)

I've been enjoying these quite alchemical books probably more because they're the actual fictional books showing up in the Middlegame series by Seanan, informing THAT series how to assume godlike powers, more than I enjoy it as a regular middle-grade YA adventure.

Of course, it's still fun as a middle-grade YA adventure and I'm always happy to see representations of heartless kids, crow girls, wind queens, and improbable roads. :)

Plus, this is Seanan, after all. I'm ALWAYS down for another Seanan because they're consistently wonderful. This is no different.

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Monday, October 24, 2022

The Only Good IndiansThe Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, this one was pretty great. I admit I was sucked right into all the characters and the life. Commentary or no, it was evocative and I loved getting this perspective. I felt the anger, too, the dispossession, the mismatched identity issues, and the conflicting expectations for being a Good Indian turn this into something pretty gorgeous and desperate even without the horror elements.

But WITH the slow creep and terror made this pitch perfect. :)

I'm very happy to have read this.

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Sunday, October 23, 2022

Road of BonesRoad of Bones by Christopher Golden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A down-on-his-luck documentarian is hunting for that one job that will finally pay off... one that takes him to super cold Siberian roads... one that ate over 600,000 lives to build it.

This Road of Bones is a perfect setting for a ghost hunter and his best friend.

Honestly, I think I loved the first half of this novel even more than the second, where the really creepy stuff happens. I enjoyed the characters and the situation and the funny stories and their hopes and dreams.

Later on, I was genuinely freaked out and loved getting frightened by the *no spoilers* and the desperation that led to *no spoilers*.

This novel was very workmanlike and a joy to read even if it wasn't everything I would have wanted to see in horror, but I will mention this: I had massive flashbacks to that old NBC TV production of Hannibal, and pleasurably so. Muahahahahaha

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Evolution (Awaken Online, #3)Evolution by Travis Bagwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

While this series has always been pretty solid on pretty big-scope online world scenarios, I have to say it jumps ahead and enters epic-fantasy levels here. Not that it is grimdark despite heavy reliance on necromancy and dark magics, of course. All of that is actually rather sweet.

But as for the adventure itself and character progression, I can't say anything but good things about this. I'm having a great time. LitRPG has become a sweet spot for me. It's just plain fun. This one rather turns a lot of the old tropes on its head, however, and it's interesting to just watch the crossovers between a real-life player who plays an Evil Chaotic character works through his own desires, and comes to grips with massive consequences -- in-game and out. I don't read a lot of LitRPG that does the real world all that well and I generally scoff and say, "get back to the game, damnit," but not this time. I'm enjoying everyone's character arcs and it's interesting on all counts.

AI branching out into the real world, ethical and moral questions, friendship... all of this is examined in a heartwarming way. I'm loving it. Oh, and the whole "I'll devour the world" goodness is fun, too.

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Friday, October 21, 2022

Invasion of the Body SnatchersInvasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Here's a real treat. Not only have there been three movies doing this book justice, but there have been tons of fan-fictions published since 1955.

Oddly, however, I know that Heinlein wrote Puppet Masters 4 years prior, and yet, no matter how much I fanboy over Heinlein, I have to say that Jack Finney did it BETTER. Better plot, more interesting characters, a tighter scene, and no goofy nudity to tweak the unwashed masses. :)

Honestly, this novel was a great thriller and SF rolled into one, good even for modern readers and not at all problematic. Yeah. I know, right? A 50's novel that isn't problematic. Pretty wonderful, right?

Well, I've read this classic and I officially call it a classic SF. It has become a personal favorite, as long as I just place it in its proper time. :)

So, really, I think this is all kinds of perfect for today. Waking up one day to see friends and family walking and talking like they used to, but there's something WRONG with them. Something you can't quite put your finger on, but then they start showing how ... replaced they are.

Reading this now is pretty damn terrifying. As a kid I would have brushed it off, but now? It's all too plausible.

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The Last House on Needless StreetThe Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay, so, this is one of those books where it's perfectly reasonable to say, in a review, "Just read it. I can't say anything without spoiling a TON and a HALF. So just read it."

So, rather than talking about the book, I'll say something about my impression of the book.

A few pebbles fell into the pool. Those few pebbles falling a great distance down a hill fall into the pool. We learn that those few pebbles actually roll down a whole mountain, and there are more pebbles than we first imagined. Then we realize that those first few pebbles were actually just an expertly curated scene that was a prequel to a boulder. Then we realize that all those pebbles are part of an avalanche.

It starts like a great little thriller and we're meant to wonder what and why and how it all works together, of course, but nothing prepared me for all these twists slamming together near the end. Or the fact that they kept coming.

So yeah, this horror did a number on me and I'm quite happy. :)

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Thursday, October 20, 2022

Terminus (Threshold, #4)Terminus by Peter Clines
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Go big or go home!

Out of all these Threshold books, I still think 14 was the most fun, but between all the scenes that pry open our world to gigantic lovecraftian gods and send us all, gibbering, to our doom, they're all pretty fun.

Think Lovecraft with a lighter tone, a can-do attitude even when it is, honestly, hopeless.

But as with most things, it's the journey that means the most.

In this one, the actual end of the world is merely a feature. We get a good look into the heads of the evil cultists, some fun SFnal tech, a bit of creepy time-travel and alternate universe stuff, and Somalian piracy. Everything a growing boy needs.

Definitely a good choice for a SFnal Spooktober. :)

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Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Dead Moon (Threshold, #3)Dead Moon by Peter Clines
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a light-toned b-movie zombie horror set hilariously on the SF moon of the future... where there are tourists and it's a lot more economical to bury the dead on the moon than on Earth.

It's sometimes funny, of course, but its real strength is in developing the characters who will scramble to survive.

Yes, it's a gimmick but a fun one. Not high literature, but I can almost smell the silicone and spirit gum and I'm happy I read it for Spooktober.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Deadbeat Druid (Adam Binder #3)Deadbeat Druid by David R. Slayton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reapers, psychopomps, druids, and a roadtrip to hell. It's everything a growing UF fan needs to feed on near Halloween.

But better than that, this was a great return to a really fun UF. It felt desperate and serious and fascinating for the entire trip. I know, right? A title like this makes me think that it's going to be a funny title, but in reality, it's about friendship, family, and love. Often it's not about forgiveness, exactly, but about understanding. And sometimes that's more important.

I love the message. Even when the choices are extremely difficult and even hard to swallow, it's great to have lines that you just won't cross even when it feels so hopeless.

I am quite pleased with how this turned out.

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Retribution (Awaken Online #2.5)Retribution by Travis Bagwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a rather satisfying revenge story -- or side-quest -- to the main tale. It starts out as a plain LitRPG adventure to unlock hidden abilities, using a random group that turned into some serious friends, to cleanse a city of a serious plague problem.

Simple? Sure, but quite fun and sufficiently lower leveled to be challenging.

I chalk this up to being a delicious, well-written fantasy sub-quest building up a much larger game story.

In some ways, I like these even more than the main quests. And hell hath no fury...

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Monday, October 17, 2022

Pickman's ModelPickman's Model by H.P. Lovecraft
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Here's some truly haunting supernatural horror to whet your appetite for Halloween.

I love Lovecraft's technique here. Conversational, but rising in horror as our MC tries to describe what he experienced, starting out with normal controversy and winding up with several stages of new reveals.

But it's always the journey that I most appreciate. Every description, every addition, every plucked-out eyeball of discovery and gibbering holy madness, builds to a wonderful crescendo.

A middle passage, if you will:

*** Dances in the modern cemeteries were freely pictured, and another conception somehow shocked me more than all the rest—a scene in an unknown vault, where scores of the beasts crowded about one who held a well-known Boston guide-book and was evidently reading aloud. All were pointing to a certain passage, and every face seemed so distorted with epileptic and reverberant laughter that I almost thought I heard the fiendish echoes. The title of the picture was, “Holmes, Lowell, and Longfellow Lie Buried in Mount Auburn”. ***

No spoilers, but this is a beautiful tale and not at all problematic for anyone's modern taste. No startlingly racist comments, in other words.

Ahhh, life is art, art is life.

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SundialSundial by Catriona Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a hard book to review because I kinda hated the pacing. I know that these kinds of thrillers need a slow, cautious start to make the later reveal hit harder, but I had a seriously hard time caring about the characters -- and it was kinda because the pacing made it feel so blah to me. Usual. A repeat of so many.

But the book DID pick up nicely past a certain point that I can pinpoint with 23. If you've read it, you know what I mean. But after that, I was fully onboard and the hit-reveals came nicely.

No spoilers, but the twist(s) needed to keep coming the way they had. Stopping too early would have made me groan with the predictability. Fortunately, it worked for me.

It WAS a close thing, however. I'll call this a 3.5.

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Sunday, October 16, 2022

Precipice (Awaken Online, #2)Precipice by Travis Bagwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm still really enjoying this series. Gone is the somewhat sluggish opening and we can now fully appreciate the necessity for it because of the need for character development.

For everything else, it's pure MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Chaotic Evil alignment can be really fun. Who hasn't dreamed of being a master necromancer and the big bad of an entire world?

I'm seeing here a mix of Warcraft 3 and normal LitRPG elements and a lot more tactics than I usually see in these kinds of books. As for the AI, I think it's rather well done and I appreciate the nihilism. I mean, seriously, if an AI woke up and checked out our world, it might want to devote itself to a little escapism, too. :)

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Saturday, October 15, 2022

Paradox BoundParadox Bound by Peter Clines
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really didn't know what to expect with this one other than the fact it was a Clines novel and it seemed to be SF. When I started reading it, it felt kinda hokey and it kinda devolved into a roadtrip novel with faceless government men in suits chasing them and I almost groaned as I got into it.

BUT. It turned out pretty fun. It evolved into something pretty clever and the time-travel hijinx managed to rise above the normal and by the end I had a really good time.

Viva la American Dream, lol.

Don't worry if you know what I mean. It's an inside joke. Not too bad, either.

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Thursday, October 13, 2022

The Rats (Rats, #1)The Rats by James Herbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Do you remember when people started calling cheesy movies cheesy? Yeah, I don't either. I think it was extremely old when I was born. But that's also the fun part. We love cheese. We've always loved cheese. Cheese is GOOD.

You know who else loves cheese?


What happens when you put rats into a novel that is pure B-Movie Cheese?

LOTS of rats. And lots of gnawing. Tons of gnawing.

Look. This is not fine literature. It's '70s horror, as popular as King when he got started, but unlike King on his worst days, it was pure cheesy schlock.

And why the hell not? October is the month for horror, cheese or not. :) Fortunately, I LIKE cheese.

*snicker snicker snack* *twitches whiskers* *nom nom*

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Catharsis (Awaken Online #1)Catharsis by Travis Bagwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm rounding up from a 4.5 because I had so much fun even if the opening was a bit of slog. Mind you, getting a backstory where you're bullied and no-one believes you and you lose your schooling and you're kicked out of your home is already a downer. It would still be much worse if you snap and shoot up the world. In this case, however, he just plays the fully immersive virtual game.

All right! A little escapist evil fantasy! A HORROR HORROR LitRPG with an MC that is a CHAOTIC EVIL NECROMANCER, yo.

Of course, the AI has some stake in this and can increase certain tendencies while playing the game... :)

Okay, so here's the best part, ya'll: NECROMANCER OVERKILL. Loving the assassinations, loving the raising, loving the tactics, loving the massive powerleveling, the feral zombie traps, the way he completely sacked a whole NPC CITY in a single night.

Glorious. And that's just the start.

It's SO perfect for October and zombie outbreaks, only we're on the SIDE of the zombies. :) It's not like the ones we're fighting are good folks. Muahahahahaha

So funny after we get through the opening slog. And I have a big feeling we're just gonna stay in the great game for a good long time. Let's get our evil on. :)

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Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Hard LandingHard Landing by Algis Budrys
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first Algis Budrys I've read and while I didn't fall in love with it, it certainly had its good points.

It's first contact from the PoV of humanlike aliens that had crash-landed here half a century ago and who tried to make ends meet however they could.

Honestly, it read like any other kind of fish-out-of-water culture shock kind of novel that would have worked just as well as anyone seriously from the boonies coming to America for the first time, only these people saw some things a bit more clearly. And they were definitely appreciative of the American experience.

There have been tons of stories like this, of course, and while it feels dated and optimistic, even when it truly wasn't, it seemed quite old-fashioned for SF.

Not bad, mind you, it just had that old optimistic feel while trying to show itself as gritty and realistic.

Or maybe I just feel like we live in some bad times. Whichever, lol

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Tuesday, October 11, 2022

The Redemption of TimeThe Redemption of Time by Baoshu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is definitely a case of wanting to like the concept and the tale more than actually enjoying it.

The Three-Body Problem series is one of my all-time favorite SFs and I was initially dismayed and then vaguely curious to hear that a lucky fan fiction that had come out days after the release of the third book had taken off so hard that it was later canonized with the originals. The author was quick to point out that that wasn't the intent, however, and it should be read in the spirit it was written: for fun.

So that's what I did. And in some ways, it exceeded many expectations. Think hardcore Stephen Baxter with a scope that not only spans the lifetime of the universe and beyond it, but even multiple iterations and re-dos with vast uber-intelligent entities playing out an ongoing story that attempts to settle the Dark Forest question at last.

I did enjoy the real physics talk and the exploration of living in different dimensions (not nearly as hokey as one might believe) that was explored in the originals. I also loved the grand scheme, the philosophical questions, and even in the inclusion of myths and old tales in the down-to-earth bits. (All irony included)

What I suppose I missed most, however, was the actual grounding of the novel. A love story is good, mind you, and so is an epic battle between very epic forces, but I got to the point where I didn't care EXCEPT for the high-concept bits.

The originals were much better for this.

However, there is quite a bit of good in here and I wouldn't automatically dismiss it. But please, whatever you do, read the originals first. This wouldn't make ANY sense whatsoever without them.

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Monday, October 10, 2022

The Halfling's Gem (Forgotten Realms: Icewind Dale, #3; Legend of Drizzt, #6)The Halfling's Gem by R.A. Salvatore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a good example of sword and sorcery by way of the Forgotten Realms D&D settings. In a way, I'm just reminded of old Fritz Leiber, but in another, I'm just here for the settings.

Drizzt and Wulfgar take up most of the adventure, and it's a decent adventure spanning a lot of distance, and if all you want is a standard D&D adventure that gives you a big taste of the old worldbuilding (not to mention so many great video games, Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale), then I'm sure you're going to have a pretty good time here.

So what's my problem?

I guess I'm spoiled with great Fantasy literature. This only reads as fairly average. It's good for what it is and if you don't expect high literature (or even fantastic fantasy) then you'll be fine.

Perhaps I just want more. Almost every modern fantasy delivers more. But props where props are due: this one has been extremely popular and its effects are everywhere.

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Sunday, October 9, 2022

DroodDrood by Dan Simmons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm giving this a 4.5 stars instead of a 5 for only one reason: I rather hate all the characters in this book and they were all god-awful annoying.

This is NOT to say that they weren't also amazingly complicated, well-written, fascinating, infuriating, and beautifully drawn, because they were. Amazingly so.

Let me preface this by saying that this is my second time reading this book and it is just as good this time as the first time I read it. Since then, I've also read a couple of Wilkie Collin's novels and truly enjoyed them. Charles Dickens also, but that came years before I read Drood.

Why is this important? Because these two authors feature mightily in this tale, with Wilkie being the amazingly difficult-to-like jealous author who loved, worked with, and frequently hated his best friend, Charles Dickens. Add to this the sinister mystery of Drood, a strange man Dickens had become obsessed with for many years, a massive opium addiction, the mysteries of mesmerism, crooked ex-cops, the underworld of London, and of course the burning jealousy, and this was a wild and wildly conflicting tale that lives up to some of the very best mysteries I've ever read.

The fact that it is also a huge research project, that all the characters fly to life, and that I was genuinely creeped out on a number of occasions shouldn't be passed off as a fluke, either.

I'm haunted by this novel. I can't say I actively LIKED it at any point, but it got under my skin big time a decade ago and remained there until I HAD to read it again to be fascinated all over again. And I was. I was totally fascinated. And it still keeps me thinking.

Just what happened after all? I mean, we do get a resolution, several even, but damn me if I'm still caught in Wilkie Collin's unreliable narration.


Not easy, but definitely brilliant and memorable. I think this should be called genuine literature and not relegated to horror or historical. It's so much more than either.

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Friday, October 7, 2022

Fallen (Alex Verus, #10)Fallen by Benedict Jacka
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Re-Read 10/7/22:

Dark. So dark. I love it. To see Alex go all out this way is a real treat BOTH times I read it. :)

Original Review:

Every time I hear about a new Benedict Jacka book, I fall all over myself with joy and anticipation. When I finally read them, I'm in awe.

Let me be clear, this is some of the most fun Urban Fantasy I've ever come across. It's smart, things fall apart so spectacularly, and the basic nature of Verus's magic always makes me crave more. Diviner magic? What's so good about that? :) Oh, searching multiple futures where you get what you want, on the fly, and then do stuff like walking through a room full of bullets. Details. But Jacka takes that much, much further in this book.

It's a turning point! A big one! Before, Verus was all about keeping neutrality because neither the black nor the white council was made up of particularly nice people. But after this?

MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA no spoilers. Though, if you look at that title carefully enough, you might get an idea about where this new novel is headed. I admit I was having a pretty soft spot between Verus and Ann. I can't believe it rolled this way. Red herring? Muahahaha I'm not telling.

Suffice to say, this is one of my absolute favorites of the series. Ten books so far. May there be twenty!

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Thursday, October 6, 2022

Streams of Silver (Forgotten Realms: Icewind Dale, #2; Legend of Drizzt, #5)Streams of Silver by R.A. Salvatore
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It is probably just me, but while I do enjoy a good small-party D&D adventure, this one hit me as a bit derivative. And when I say derivative, I mean I felt like I had just read a shoehorned Drizzt & Friends version of the Hobbit.

It MIGHT be fine for what it is, but this is what I'd say when I mention it's an average fantasy. It's not BAD and I don't really mind that it cribs so much, but it did nothing to improve on the original, either.

I'll continue, but frankly, I was kinda bored.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The Tell-Tale HeartThe Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My daughter and I read this for fun.

She thinks it was FUNNY.

That's right. Funny. Not scary, not creepy, not psychologically thrilling, but FUNNY.

Oh, sorry, she said it was a *little* scary.


As for me, I always loved this best of Poe's short stories. In fact, the fact that it is so short, so razor-sharp in scope and paranoid obsession and a good look into the mind of a guilty conscience, always seemed to me a perfect template for all the horrors we'll all have enjoyed since this came out almost 200 years ago.


It's FUNNY, Ya'll.

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Towers of Midnight (The Wheel of Time, #13)Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had to postpone writing this review a bit because I couldn't see the screen. I just kept bursting into tears again and again.

Well, I'm back with kleenex and I'm here to say that I died my second death, the final death in Tel'aran'rhiod. I was there too strongly, too.

All right, so, this book is a real killer. Anyone who has read this far in the series is probably going to get ripped to shreds by it. It's not even my first time reading it and it's killing me. That being said, it's one hell of a ride.

There are the obvious reasons, of course, but between the Tower of Ghenji, the Black Tower, the White Tower, all the bloody, blood and ashes towers, I'm in need of a big stiff drink. I'll even dice with Matt and won't care how much I lose.

Perrin finally gets full badass in this novel. He's been problematic in the past and it's mostly Faile's fault, but if we skip everything that happened after he took up all of the Two Rivers and skipped to this book, I'd say he might have one of the VERY BEST stories in the series. A certain hammer and a certain hunt, or rather, hunts, and a certain little dance in Tel'aran'rhiod should be enough for any kind of epic tale. :)

Matt continues to be a pure joy. Some of his bits are just funny, of course, but when he gets SERIOUS, and he gets SERIOUS twice, here, it is an amazing thing to behold. To give up half the light of the world to save the world...

I love Zen Rand. Nuff said.

A side character that really pulled out all the stops was Ituralde. He MADE the whole Battle of Helm's Deep version in this book. What a badass.

Nynaeve is great for an entirely different reason this time. Sure, one little extra cure, a little test, and that's all great, but it's her little humourous combo with Lan that steals the show. I never imagined that Lan would be the comedic relief. But he is, and it's glorious.

There's a reason why this series and these books in particular are some of my absolute favorites. Or rather, a boatload of reasons. Unfortunately, I'd have to write a book on this book to tell them all. :)

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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

The Wolves in the WallsThe Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For a YA picturebook horror that feels rather cute and not particularly scary, on the surface, this is actually on par with Coraline for the disconcerting, deep under-the-surface stuff.

But then, what are we supposed to think? It IS Gaiman.

This is a re-read for me but that's not a problem. I had to give my girl a little spooktober fun. She laughed, was actually frightened a little, and came out of it feeling refreshed.

But I, as an adult, felt mightily disturbed. Mostly because I saw it as an allegory, or worse, purely psychological. *Shiver*

Well, if those wolves come out of the walls, it *IS* all over.

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Sunday, October 2, 2022

The Crystal Shard (Forgotten Realms: Icewind Dale, #1; Legend of Drizzt, #4)The Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Definitely a solid classic D&D novel. I have to admit I like it better, all told, than the chronologically earlier novels that dealt with Drizzt directly.

Why? Because the action is more epic, more expected in a grand, sweeping adventure, with war, paying off debts, preparation, demons, magic mind-altering crystals, and most importantly, THE FEEL.

Full disclosure, I played and loved the Icewind Dale games. I figured it was about time to go back and read the source material for them. :)

I am satisfied.

It isn't my favorite type of fantasy or even my top love of any fantasy, but it was enjoyable and it has the weight of prestige and lore behind it, so I'm happy even if I don't gush.

Onto more!

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Owner's Share (Golden Age of the Solar Clipper, #6)Owner's Share by Nathan Lowell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While I've been enjoying all these other books for their light tones and focus on doing one's best, I was kinda kicked in the shins with this one.

It was good, mind you, and pretty exciting to go independent (with a lot of great help) but when certain tragedies started piling up, I got this weird feeling like I was reading a mostly positive mid-life-crisis novel.

Mind you, it was never icky, and his ethics were always top-notch. I'm just referring to the elements in the tale and where it went and how ... sad it was by the end.

Still good, mind you. Just sad.

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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Captain's Share (Golden Age of the Solar Clipper, #5)Captain's Share by Nathan Lowell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This series continues to be a lot of popcorn fun. Years have passed and Ishmael now takes command of the very worst ship in the fleet.

Changes happen. :) It's good for the soul to see such a turnaround. Competence porn at its best.

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