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Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Jade Legacy (The Green Bone Saga, #3)Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was suitably impressed with the first two volumes of the Green Bone Saga mostly because it reminded me of a very Godfather-type storytelling that was equal bits honor, shady dealings, control, family, and it did it in much the same way as Godfather in the setting. Early 20th century-type worldbuilding, emergent technologies, and a masterfully changing world.

The difference? Green Bone Jade magic, the toughs who use it, and all the sociological challenges and confusions related to it. Culturally, it was all the more fascinating in this book.

As for the tale, it's an epic family drama, now with full generations coming into their own.

I was very impressed. It was always a pleasure to read.

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Monday, February 27, 2023

Chaos Choreography (InCryptid, #5)Chaos Choreography by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Re-Read 2/27/23:


'nuff said.

Or rather, I think I may have enjoyed it a bit more this time since I've gotten to know Alice a bit better.

Dance! Dance! Dance!

Original Review:

I have to admit I felt a little let down seeing that we were moving back to the big city. Maybe It's just the Verity and Dominic arc that I just don't care all that much for, no matter that it's not bad or uninteresting, but I just don't love it quite as much as big bro.

Of course, most of my annoyance is just because I don't really care about dance, and this, more than all the others, is *all* about dance. Dance competition, stardom, and Verity's personal gratification. I don't disapprove, and there's plenty of good conflict, but it's like watching an episode of Dancing with the Stars or some other weird tv show I have absolutely no interest in watching. The saving grace is that we get to see all these semi-or-professional dancers get permanently kicked off the show... and life.

So even if I didn't give much of a poop, at least I can snicker when the prima-donnas start getting bumped off, and that's basically where I was.

Except for grandma and the dragon princess. I have to admit I really enjoyed them. And the Mice. Things are definitely getting interesting in the side-characters. :)

So, all in all, and despite the basic subject matter, I still had a great deal of fun.

These are still full of a great selection of beasties, of course, but first and foremost, it's all about the Price Family, as usual. And That's A Good Thing. :) What a weird family. :)

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Saturday, February 25, 2023

Downward to the EarthDownward to the Earth by Robert Silverberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that require a certain frame of mind to truly enjoy. We used to get a lot more books like this in the '60s and '70s, the serious type (SF or not) that really went into deep worldbuilding AND deep soul-searching. That doesn't show up quite as often, or quite as thoroughly, as this particular type of novel.

In this case, I was disturbed by the de-facto post-colonialism, the easy way that humans were racists even after pulling out of the alien world, how so many had felt guilty for treating the local aliens like dumb brutes.

There was no revolution, no great uprising. Indeed, most of us still didn't understand why the aliens were so forgiving or accepting of brute labor. We would have gotten truly pissed.

And then the whole novel has a fantastic Heart of Darkness feel to it that becomes almost mystical, but it was the mystery and the crazy bio-punk and flower-child type feel that made it really disturbing and weird.

The final reveal was really great. It doesn't have anything like a modern novel feel. Indeed, it subverts many SF tropes by being seriously introspective, guilt-searching, and understanding.

The turnaround from the post-colonial view was pretty fantastic.

Yes, a reader CAN read subtext into this, but the novel is deeply weird and nicely disturbing and quite unlike that kind of read.

It is its own SF beast, and wonderfully so.

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Summer Knight (The Dresden Files, #4)Summer Knight by Jim Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm loving my re-reads.

I totally forgot how much of the fae we got in this book. It's fae all day and fae all night and these 'bargains' are hilarious for us... and it only means hard times for Dresden.

Poor Dresden.

Of course, knowing what I know about how things shake up and shake out later in the series, it's really fascinating to get thrown into a whole fae murder mystery that leads to a full fae war... with Dresden being Dresden. Little hero Dresden.

Sigh. So good. It's real comfort food. Just like the pizza from Pizza Express. :)

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Friday, February 24, 2023

Pandemic (The Extinction Files, #1)Pandemic by A.G. Riddle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As pandemic, contagion, outbreak stories go, this novel fits squarely in the center of all the novels that I've read.

The good: a lot of real history and even nostalgic bits from the 90's and early 2000's, fairly decent grasp of the science, and when the plot is on track, it's really revving.

The meh: So many characters that are there more for the ambiance and the pathos that don't push the plot forward at all but still makes the novel feel like all the others. We're meant to FEEL for all these poor souls, after all, and it either works or it doesn't.

That's all fine and dandy. It didn't entirely work for me but that's a problem I have with all these same types of novels. A cast that kinda rambles along for a long time in flashbacks, going down rabbit holes. In this case, it turned into a big conspiracy thing with a scientific cabal turned dark. I didn't mind that in general but let's put this all in context with today. This came out in '18 and since then we've had Covid and covidiots and our own stupidest timeline of conspiracy theories that wish they were like the one uncovered in THIS novel.

So yeah, it's a case of reality being stranger (and a lot more stupid) than fiction, and it makes me feel kinda sad for the novel.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2023

The Tenth Realm (Ten Realms, #12)The Tenth Realm by Michael Chatfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A satisfying, if predictable, end to the Ten Realms Series.

All hell broke loose, of course, and the most desperate gamble had to be taken. Of course, like most LitRPGs, Ascending is a big deal. This is no exception.

It was worth getting here. Overpowered action, hoorah!

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The Ninth Realm (The Ten Realms #11)The Ninth Realm by Michael Chatfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The pacing on this book was also pretty good. The LitRPG goes back to its roots. New levels, new OP training, misunderstandings, and a hell of a lot of focus.

I'm really feeling the end of the series, now. Godlike powers, full elemental control, and hoards of realm-destroying devourers are here, standing at attention, and ready to bring down hell.

Compared to the 6th and 7th realm books, these last two are quiiiiick. I can't say I dislike it.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2023

The Seventh Realm, Part 2 (Ten Realms, #9)The Seventh Realm, Part 2 by Michael Chatfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well now! My complaint about part one seems a bit justified... and corrected for this volume. Rugrat and Eric set off on the Seventh Realm and I had a good time. A little actual LitRPG goodness instead of full-out massive military action, rah rah, brothers in arms, defend the kingdom.

I liked that.

But then it was all full-out massive military action, rah rah, brothers in arms, defend the kingdom at the end. *rolls eyes*

Fortunately, it wasn't bad. I just wish we could just LEAVE the first realm BE for a time and spend MORE TIME in the realms that the books are named for!

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The Eighth Realm (The Ten Realms, #10)The Eighth Realm by Michael Chatfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There's something good to be said about a tight book. This one has a lot less massive realm MilFantasy battles and a lot more Rugrat and Erik exploring a dangerous subsection of the 7th realm.

Broken from the previous book, trying to learn elements, fighting dragons, and navigating annoying Sect politics is just what the Master Healer ordered.

Maybe it didn't hurt that the novel was short and sweet and had a lot less divergence to it. I had a much better time in this one than I have in the last four.

So, good deal!

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Sunday, February 19, 2023

The Seventh Realm, Part 1 (Ten Realms, #8)The Seventh Realm, Part 1 by Michael Chatfield
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I may need to re-categorize this series as ex-LitRPG. Sure, the realms and the level-up system is pretty standard, but this has gone from personalized leveling and crafting to something closer to Warcraft or Warhammer, complete with massive armies across multiple battlefields.

It's fine if you want all those massive armies with tactics and strategy, but I miss the full experience of Eric and Rugrat doing all they can to become personally powerful, visit new lands, destroy new people.

Heck, for a novel that's called the Seventh Realm, we didn't even get to GO there. It's all just setback after setback and loss of controlled territory. Maybe some people would like this. I didn't mind a lot of it, myself, but after a certain amount of time, I missed what I CAME to these books for.

I'll continue on since it's not unreadable, but I'm doing it mostly to see what the higher realms are like.

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Saturday, February 18, 2023

Bloodsucking Fiends (A Love Story, #1)Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cute, snarky, city-malaise meets fresh meat romance.

Yes, it's romance. Of course, that should be obvious in the title. Even so, it's CUTE. I mean, it's not every day a girl becomes a vampire and sucks a poor unsuspecting boy into her survival machinations.

On the one hand, I think it's rather cynical of her, but he's a clueless nerd and RATHER accepting of the circumstances. Young men are like that. They'll put up with anything as long as they get some.


Fortunately, it works out pretty well for everyone involved, sans the dead bodies winding up all over the place.

Very cute story. Light and weird.

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Friday, February 17, 2023

The Cage of Dark Hours (The Five Penalties, #2)The Cage of Dark Hours by Marina J. Lostetter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think this is a superior book to first. It's much darker, really evoking the feel of a full-fantasy steampunk London while making us revel in the torture and abuse of small children for the sake of enhancing their magical ability.

The worldbuilding is very good. The magic system is truly fascinating. Breaking off parts of people's souls, trapping them in masks, is both cool and cruel. The very idea of gifting time, itself, to the already powerful and long-lived is also horrific but perfectly understandable in this dark fantasy world.

The implications and ramifications continue to unfold in this novel.

I quite enjoyed the tale for what it is and thought the characters are decent. I won't say I fell in love with all of them, but I did feel some quite strong feelings for one rather strong-minded victim. No spoilers, but I really loved the later quasi-psychological developments and magical resolutions.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2023

The Sixth Realm, Part 2 (Ten Realms, #7)The Sixth Realm, Part 2 by Michael Chatfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part 2 of the Sixth Realm was a bit easier to enjoy. Less Rah rah, more crafting, leveling of skills, and deep preparation to drag all of Alva and the other associations into bigger and badder realms.

I think I really appreciated the sneaky ways they all took to take down the Willful Institute without being obvious about it. That big sect proved to be rather dangerous and it was worse because it was other players. The war was eventually pretty cool.

I'm still all about the normal leveling and skill-ups, though.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2023

PavanePavane by Keith Roberts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was reading this because my literature journey was taking me along the path of SF Masterworks, but I was surprised to see that Gaiman had a foreword to it, to sum: the short story of Father John fucked me up.

So, of course, I had to read this astounding story that would give Gaiman nightmares.

What I discovered was nothing more than a series of 6 independent tales all set within an alternate history where the Protestant Reformation never took, where Queen Elizabeth was assassinated, and the Holy Catholic Church successfully kept technology repressed to a grand degree. And our modern ages are still full of castles and poverty with some slight oddities like steam-powered track-less locomotives, complicated semaphores, and unrest.

Every tale was fascinating to me, but let's just say that Father John was, indeed, a mind-blower. To put into context, this novel in six parts was given to us in 1968. I can EASILY imagine Gaiman stylizing his own writing to emulate or even perfect Father John in his own vein. I very much enjoyed these literary connections. It enriches both.

Overall, I think this is definitely one of the best, most mysterious, and thoroughly pervasive alternate histories that I've read. We're steeped in characters who are very much a product of their time and place. But what makes it really special? The old gods, just waiting in the wings, subverting the Holy Catholic Church. *rubs hands together* Delightful!

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Someone in Time: Tales of Time-Crossed RomanceSomeone in Time: Tales of Time-Crossed Romance by Jonathan Strahan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I thought it would be a lark to jump on this romantic Time Travel SF collection with all the most talked about names in the SF field today, at least, those names bandied about among certain circles, and so I tried.

I really did try. I recognize all the names, I am a really big fan of a handful of them, too. Seanan and Ford and Valente are always pretty great.

I started from the beginning and I suddenly came to the conclusion, after the first 4, then 5, that this wasn't just a time travel romance collection, but it is predominately a M/M or F/F romance collection with just a hint of timey-wimey.

I started wondering if there would be any kind of, you know, actual representation of all types in this.

I mean, I'm straight, I've always supported people being allowed to be what they want to be, but if I see only the goods of any one type, I have to assume I'm not allowed in the club. Of course, it's not just this collection. I think I've read something like 20-30 romances, be it short or novel, in the last two years -- and there was only one -- yes, one -- romance that was between a male and a female.

Of course, that was only a regular romance without any SF or Fantasy in it, so if I redo this list with ONLY SF or F romances... then that's... zero. No F or SF romances with the "extra" m/f romance at all.

Is this the only trend now? I'm well read and yet this is just about all that's published now.

I wound up giving up on this collection because it kinda fails as a personally representative romance on Valentine's day. I wasn't even that impressed with the stories I did read.

I only kinda liked First Aid and Remember Satellites and The Lichens and then I kinda lost all interest after the next few. I did search to find the Valente, though, and it was nicely abstract and weird and it made me think.

I skipped the rest. I felt like I was wasting time. I wasn't looking for something to push me outside of my comfort zones on Valentine's Day. I just wanted something that hit a little closer to home, even if it was all timey-wimey.

Good luck to everyone else out there, though!

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Monday, February 13, 2023

My Killer VacationMy Killer Vacation by Tessa Bailey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is me rolling my eyes so hard that they pop out, go through the ceiling, and fly about 200 yards to get stuck in a tree nearby.


I don't really know what I expected. Sure, a hot and steamy romance I was bullied into reading for Valentine's day? Sure. I'm up for a laugh. But if I was subjected to a double handful cliche archetypes that would be sprung fully-formed -- in perfect derivative glory -- from some sodden sex-drenched pile of text nominally called a novel, I would be half-tempted to laugh and write it off as a Tingle masterpiece.

But no. This was just a straight-laced fearful gradeschool teacher watching a detective and getting into a hammy mystery that would have been solved at the very beginning if they weren't both so damn horny.

Don't get me wrong. I've been known to count the multitudes of cliches throughout this plethora of books, but seriously, they USUALLY they tend to get subverted in some small way or they do something to surprise me in the plot.

This did neither. Indeed, it followed the archetype of a smutty romance so perfectly that it should be taught in school as an example of the immense purity of porn. Strong dangerous guy shows girl how to love the danger x 10. And ouch. I just lost my eyeballs again.

Please don't get me wrong. If you want something so simple and archetypal for your romance, then look no further. This is pretty much the template.

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The Sixth Realm, Part 1 (Ten Realms, #6)The Sixth Realm, Part 1 by Michael Chatfield
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'll say this: my attention was on target for everything in the cities and not so much for the endless military campaigning against the orcs and/or water realm. It's really mostly all about army actions and sounds like it rather than being a delightfully colorful and snarky LitRPG where everyone fights cool beasties and comes home with fantastic loot and levels.

I was already getting tired of the rah rah stuff in the previous volume so I'm almost tapped out in this one. HOWEVER, this is a part one of 2 for the sixth realm so stopping here is like stopping in the middle of a book and I RARELY DNF anything.

So here we go!

I'm just happy that the crafting stuff and the body tempering stuff is still fun. When we get them.

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Sunday, February 12, 2023

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

I don't have anything bad to say about the LitRPG elements here. I love leveling and I love skillups and crafting and fighting. It's all pretty standard and satisfying.

Where I DO have a problem in this book, and, indeed, most of the books in the Ten Realms, is the HEAVY rah-rah redneck military capitalism at all costs support-the-troops and support-debt and the America-forever mindset. I don't mind a little bit. I don't even mind a moderate amount of it. But I do mind if the propaganda-speak and superiority-mindset hijacks the LitRPG reality in highly unrealistic ways and it always works out because the rah rah is OBVIOUSLY superior.

I expect a bit of goofiness in these books. LitRPG is pure fantasy distilled down to game mechanics and the rest is snark. I really love that. But propaganda politics? I can handle any type until it starts taking over the pages and I just want to get back to some fighting or crafting.

I don't TRULY mind unless it just becomes a vehicle for America-fuck-yeah. This is skirting the edge.

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Friday, February 10, 2023

Wolfsong (Green Creek #1)Wolfsong by T.J. Klune
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sure, with a novel called Wolfsong, it would be kind of a no-brainer to say this was a quasi YA involving werewolves, and you'd be right.

I've read a ton of werewolf novels and this one was so rich, focus, and pure. It's all about the bonds, those rich green bonds. I'm pretty impressed.

It's a super-easy read, and it's super fun. I loved everything about it. It's pure wolfish trust and protection and family. There's something really awesome about that, and this particular novel is stronger on that than most of the novels like this.

It's M/M romance, btw, but even with that, it's a great novel about Pack.

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Thursday, February 9, 2023

The Silence of Unworthy Gods (Arcane Ascension, #4)The Silence of Unworthy Gods by Andrew Rowe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

By this point in my overall LitRPG journey, I have to admit that I'm a total fanboy. Each different series is all cut from roughly the same cloth, that of leveling up, fights, and often a bunch of crafting to go with their stories.

Rowe's delves rather deep in enchanting magic. I love it, plain and simple. I mean, we're still in school or internships most of the time, focused on just GETTING BETTER because there's some really nasty gods toying with the realm and a great number of out-of-reach quests that need fixing. Like lost friends and family, towers with gods at the ends of the rising, and much deeper gods playing games with everyone else.

And I love it. Yes, most of this book in particular is developing special spells and crafting but I have a real sweet spot for magic mechanics and I love where this is going. No one is overpowered yet, but I can taste the possibility.

Suffice to say, I tore through this book and am anxious for so much more.
That end...

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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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

All told, I'm here for the character progression. To a lesser degree, I'm here for the town progression. Everything else, at least so far in this particular novel, is tactics and fairly large-scale war in the 4th realm with a bit of progression payoff at the end.

I'll just say that my favorite parts are not the big-scale war stuff. It's okay for what it is but I preferred practically everything else.

I admit I miss the alchemy and smithing portions. And while I do love the dungeon progression, I want to see more of that and proper challenges for it more than the MilSF portions we've seen a lot of in this volume.

Personal preference, of course.

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The Library: A Fragile HistoryThe Library: A Fragile History by Andrew Pettegree
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Or rather, this is a fairly exhaustive history of those places where they are kept, whether papyrus, hand-written, or print, from ancient times, through dark, and into the modern period. Libraries are really an expression of what book-lovers want out of books, and there really is a conflict here.

Let's put it this way. There are certain people who enjoy books so much that they are very, very greedy. Somo of them love to use books as ways to carry value, similar to how paintings are pumped up and insured, and this is expressed in very interesting ways... private book collections, estate auctions, theft, and of course collectors. Some libraries begun as private collections not meant to be read, but hoarded.

And then there's the other side of human nature, the side that expresses the need to share knowledge, make it available to all, to uplift mankind. These libraries are wonderful creatures (personal bias) and while we get a lot of the history of both, I'm pleased to see that the ones with altruistic intentions have pretty much always been what we get.

It's complicated, though. A lot of the altruism we've had from robber barons and steel magnates was thrown into the creation of libraries. Some of the richest and hardcore business-types threw their resources into this kind of good deed, alas, and while this particular story was pretty much a light touch in this book, it illustrates how much this book leaves out of the REST of the story.

The Library is pretty good as a brief introduction or a brief indexing of famous libraries and their histories. It's about the people who championed books and kept the writings safe, through dark times and the Renaissance -- where books become valuable not just for the knowledge, but status.

I won't get into the full history, myself, because that's what this book is good for, but the printing press and the Reformation makes it spicy, as did the back and forth between gatekeepers and popular fiction, the constant loss of libraries and the heroic funding and stocking of new libraries by the altruistic.

The fact is, libraries are not to be taken for granted. They can die so easily. This is obvious throughout history and it should be obvious now. A lot of the reasons they did bite it was because knowledge and learning was simply NOT VALUED. If poverty or hardship comes to any community, it should never be a question between some momentary political cause or maintaining a door to public learning.

Unfortunately, any old reason can be thrown into the wind and unscrupulous individuals can successfully gut this more pure altruism on a whim.

No civilization is safe once this happens. As far as I can tell, almost every history that showed the death of libraries had the death of its citizens following soon after.

History repeats. Those who don't learn from it are doomed to repeat it.

I won't say this book couldn't have been a bit more charming, but for history buffs and people who want to follow this particular thread, I totally recommend it.

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Monday, February 6, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, February 5, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, February 4, 2023

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

Re-Read 2/4/23:

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


Original Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, February 3, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

Third re-read.

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

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

As true then as it is now.

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

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

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

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Thursday, February 2, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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