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Monday, May 29, 2023

Small Favor (The Dresden Files, #10)Small Favor by Jim Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's kinda a long standing joke to say after a long-running series that each new volume is better than all the ones that came before it, but there's some truth to that.

My investment never ends. My enjoyment only deepens.

In Small Favor, we're treated to a literal ton of great baddies, from winter to summer court to Marcone to more Denarians than you can count on two hands, but for me it's the fundamental changes going on with Harry, Michael, and the shifting battle-lines between all his friends and enemies.

This is still a Noir-type story, but the magic really sets it apart. I appreciate the depth.

I also happened to sit on the edge of my seat for a great deal of the novel EVEN THOUGH this is a re-read, so there's that.

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Sunday, May 28, 2023

White Night (The Dresden Files, #9)White Night by Jim Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So good. I'm finally getting around to my re-read of the series and I have to say it only gets better with age. Great dialogue, great action, great character development, and MOUSE.

As Urban Fantasies go, this is still up there near the top. I totally buy Harry's quirks and have no issues with his oldschool values because, let's face it, this IS a noir and Harry ages a little slower than normal humans. He thinks he's young but the fact is, he's not. Time passes, he may learn some new tricks and even makes different decisions when it comes to women, but really, it's all about chivalry.

Now as for Molly, she's truly great here. Not as great as she will become, but she's growing. I love Ramirez, too. As for Elaine, I loved getting to know her. She's a real spitfire.

I'll just say this: the action with the white court vamps -- and the others -- was pretty damn awesome. If I'm staying vague it's because I feel like I must. The book is compelling and I couldn't stop for the life of me.

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Saturday, May 27, 2023

Around the World in 80 PlantsAround the World in 80 Plants by Jonathan Drori
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another great exploration of the natural world. Before, we had Birds and Trees and now this gives us a nice, interesting overview of some of the world's most popular plants.

This includes regular food plants from all over, but also drugs, both medicinal and recreational, and even the highly prized and uniquely valuable species that are jacked up to astronomical prices for purely economical gouging or rarity.

All in all, together with the pictures, this is a rather relaxing botanical trip. Highly recommended with the other 'Around the World in 80' books. :)

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Friday, May 26, 2023

Cult Classic (Eric Carter #9)Cult Classic by Stephen Blackmoore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A lot of great wrapping up of older plot threads here. Jimmy the Oracle, for one.

If you know, you know.

This UF does certain things really well. The dead, magic, the dead, funny romance, the dead, and the sense that all of reality is about to slide into a hell-hole.

It's almost like reality. ;)

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Thursday, May 25, 2023

Brave New WorldBrave New World by Aldous Huxley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've read this several times now and I always get a different read out of it every time.

The first time, years ago, I was in the middle of my Psychology degree and I was just learning about the absolute horrors of B. F. Skinner and Behaviorism and I had just finished a little stint learning about ancient India and the missing drink of Soma that made an empire and as I read this book I was just pointing and pointing and pointing out each instance as I went along, thinking about what an absolute horror this world is while also appreciating the thought that THESE PEOPLE WERE STILL TAKEN CARE OF.

It's a pretty nasty thought to see how such a massively planned society had successfully ruled everyone's bodies to the point where there is no more mind. Just take care of the incentives and the rest follows.

Is this us?

Well, yeah, of course it is. It's all quite shockingly horrible. The propaganda is powerful, pervasive. The coping mechanisms pervasive. The assumptions, cohesive and self-perpetuating. And yet, for anyone with a bit of self-reflection or the desire to do anything important, or better, or have an actual idea or ideal, this is an absolute nightmare. Soma means body, after all. They may as well be cattle. Well fed, intensely stratified and culturally codified cattle.

Is this us?

Why, yeah, it really, really is.

Don't read this unless you want to hold up a mirror and feel really uncomfortable with what you see.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Nightborn: Coldfire RisingNightborn: Coldfire Rising by C.S. Friedman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I may be in the minority to say that this one is NOT a perfect entry point in the Coldfire Trilogy, but I won't deny that it is still an excellent companion novel.

A little backstory: This trilogy is one of the few truly excellent crossover Fantasy/SF/Horror novels that are equal in every portion. The worldbuilding is very well thought-out and very memorable, even after decades of reading so many other SF and Fantasy.

The surprise really did it for me. The slow build-up and reveal, the inherent complexity and coherence. *chef's kiss*

This short prequel of a novel really lays ALL those secrets out and if you already know the story, it's great... especially since we get to follow the big bad's beginnings and progress. Muahahahaha

Oh yeah, it's great. I may have a few quibbles about the poor preparedness of the original colony, but streamlined like this? It's still pretty great.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Flight & AnchorFlight & Anchor by Nicole Kornher-Stace
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This novella does a lot of unexpected heavy lifting for the backstories of 06 and 22 (as seen in Nicole's other works such as Firebreak) and I'll just say it now: it was a delight.

Young kids getting into trouble, as only young kids who can outfight a tank can, all within a comfortable setting that is much like our own world of ultimate disposability, dealing with massive amounts of brainwashing, nasty authority figures, poverty, and a great heaping wallop of glorious friendship.

The novella stands just fine on its own two feet but it really dovetail's nicely with the expanded world. I'm very happy.

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Lords of Uncreation (The Final Architecture, #3)Lords of Uncreation by Adrian Tchaikovsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'd say this book was well worth the long wait -- assuming there had been a long wait -- but we all got lucky. Tchaikovsky really pulled off a great end to this sprawling SF space-opera trilogy.

Expect some really big showdowns. Pretty much all the mysteries are revealed. The payoff is everything I hoped it could have been.

But getting there? I hated some particular species for some immediately obvious reasons. The whole people are people argument really applies well to aliens, too, and both are so aggravating.

My only quibble is how the middle felt a bit too long, but that is still a minor complaint. The shape of the full story makes up for all the rest.

It's great to get enormous-scale space opera. I remain in awe of what Tchaikovsky continues to do.

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Sunday, May 21, 2023

AnathemAnathem by Neal Stephenson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Re-Read 5/21/23

Upon re-reading, I am constantly amazed at how much enjoyment I get from this. It's not just the absolute love of learning, of knowledge, or rather, LIVING knowledge it encapsulates and breathes upon its pages. I'm actually in awe of the storytelling structure, the way it leads us down certain paths that we naturally dismiss, only to have new forms come back and slap us in the face.

Philosophy is wielded like a weapon in this novel.

Saying more than that will likely spoil too much. So much fantastic SF comes out in this novel.

I'm reminded of early Heinlein if he were encouraged to take it much further with the real science, update it with modern quantum understanding, go through rigorous, if still easy to follow and delightfully presented, mathematical logic systems, and give us a fully fleshed out worldbuilding that is absolutely enormous in scale.

It's an IMPORTANT work of SF. And it just gets better every time I read it. Indeed, the awesome reveals are even more awesome in the early Easter eggs. :)

That being said, I won't say what I really want to say because it would reveal way too much... but if I were to say it, it'd say, (view spoiler)

Original Review:

Oh my lord, this is still one of my top ten favorite works of literature. Like. Ever.

Not only has this seminal masterwork of fiction withstood a second read with flying colors, but it continues to define and defy both Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction categories. Heck, I think we can say it belongs on any Philosophy shelf, too, and I defy anyone to not laugh their heads off at the haircuts or Rakes or so many beautiful easter-eggs of ideas studded through the opening couple hundred pages.

What? It's just a bunch of monks talking philosophy and science in an alien world? How the heck could that be fun?

Ahh, this book moves on from that soon enough, especially when mysteries both small and really large start piling up, and the high-tech history of the world with it's truly awesome advances is only *part* of the reveals in store for us.

The world building is probably the most fantastic and excellent that I've ever read in any novel, and I'm even including masterworks like Dune and Foundation in this category. More than anything, it's the history and the alternate progressions of thought and development that is so close to our own history that is so amazing. And funny. Screw Occam's Razor. We've got a Rake. ;)

Little easter eggs abound in the opening that make so much more sense later in the novel, and on the second read, they're even better because we know what to expect. Causal Domain Shear? What's that? A haircut? OMG.

Do *not* expect this to remain a sleepy monk community that has remained cloistered with a few exceptions for 5 thousand years.

*Do* expect some truly wonderful and crazy science, philosophy, action and adventure, aliens, space-travel, time and space hacking, immortality, shaolin monks kicking all sorts of ass, horrible world killers, and multiple dimensions.

Holy crap, right?

It's a damn near perfect story, including great characters, pacing, reveals, science, politics, philosophy, and even religion and poetry. It also continues to blow my mind. How can something this complicated in its entirety read so easily, so effortlessly? But it does, and it's funny as hell, too.

I remember my first reading of this getting under my skin and confounding me at the same time. I kept wanting to categorize and pigeonhole it, and with every new hint that came along to tell me that I was going to fail miserably, I slowly got the hint that I just needed to go with the flow, trust the author, and just get fully immersed. There's no other way around it.

And there has never been a book quite like this in my life, ever before or ever since.

I can't even say that my love of this novel is a case of right place, right time, because with the second read almost eight years after the first, you'd think that I'd have grown as a person. I've certainly read a lot of new books, too. But, alas, this one still packs one hell of a punch.

The total-action scenes at the climax had me gasping for air, literally. I actually started crying from just how freaking awesome it all was. :)

Don't ever let any tell you that there is nothing new under the sun, or that SF or literature is dumbing down. This is one of the smartest pieces of fiction I've ever read. I am in awe.

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Friday, May 19, 2023

Before the FallBefore the Fall by Noah Hawley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Interesting mystery. The writing itself is very smooth and engaging, but what I got most out of it was the depth and breadth of characterizations.

The setup is simple. We have the crash of a plane and two survivors, a little kid and a strangely cerebral artist.

Everything else is loads and loads of context, interactions, even eventually the reveal to the crash, but in the meantime, people behaving like people makes this a rather interesting novel. A good number of commentaries on our modern life, too, in relation to ethics or just doing the right thing.

The journey is everything.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2023

After ThoughtAfter Thought by Nate Eckman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Even heaven allows hell.

I picked this book specifically because it had a post-American Civil War in its blurb. Seemingly, that was enough for me.

As for the content, it's a bit more of a complete cyberpunk dystopia without the endless capitalist violence. Indeed, in this MANAGED society, people's very memories are suspect. It's chilling and eventually the novel really blows up in an interesting way.

Think Pol Pot if he could have gotten his hands on memory alteration tech, AI personal assistants (and more to run a total massive operation), and a complete erasure of history. No one wants to recall the horrors of war, after all. It's best to take away the bad bits. In here, we start with this as a fait accompli.

I may have had a bit of issues with the writing style at first but once we got out of the explanation modes I was quite involved with the action and reveals. I very well might continue more by this author.

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Even Though I Knew the EndEven Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A cool, rather richly imagined magical noir with all of the cultural setbacks (and throwbacks) intact. I liked how we got dirty with angels, semi-fallen angels, and demons while dealing with being lesbian in the pinstripe days.

All in all, it's a great mystery, hunting down a magical baddie that makes a lot more sense (and importance) with each new reveal.

Most importantly, though, it's a smooth, even charming read that tugs on the heartstrings as much as the noir entertains.

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For You and Only You (You, #4)For You and Only You by Caroline Kepnes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Missing my old Dexter vibes, I've been loving both the books and the tv series for years. It's really a no-brainer. Love and obsession goes bad... the only thing that we have to look forward to is how the bystanders and the primaries kick it.

It's a great formula. But that's just it: formula. Fortunately, this one is a snide little jab at other writers and, beautifully, at all us GoodReaders. I thought that was pretty delightful. Us vapid babies babbling about baloney because we obviously can't recognize the good meat when we see it.

Right? Right.

I'm not saying this was a particularly bad book, but it felt a little bit circlejerkbookish even to me, and I'm also a writer.

Even so, I did have a few laughs, so not all is lost.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Uncanny Magazine Issue 47: July/August 2022Uncanny Magazine Issue 47: July/August 2022 by Lynne M. Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this specifically for “If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the Informal You” by John Chu

Winner of this year's nebula.

I'll tell you this: I didn't expect to find something so wholesome. I mean, yes, the world is crap, the racism and homophobia extremely nasty, but when it came to the two of these bodybuilders (one a bit more special than the other), the true meaning of life can be summed up with the ending.

Obviously, there's a lot of connections between being hated for doing what you think is right and just wanting to find a little love when everyone else gives you hell about it. And then there's the admonition not to try to fix something that isn't broken.

Tom of Finland Guy is decent, doing a ton of decent things, and cops just don't get it.

Everyone else just needs to back off, on many levels.

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Void StarVoid Star by Zachary Mason
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm generally always very enthusiastic about near-future, richly imagined, cyberpunk.

This one certainly fits the bill with all the intransigence, violence, techno-thrillery, transhumanist implants, memory, immortality, AI's, all within a broken down shell of a world.

Interesting characters here, and a lot happens. I totally recommend this if you're a fan of Daniel Suarez, Al Robertson,

Al Robertson, Daniel Suarez, or Ramez Naam. Of course, if you like this kind of thing, it's on the level with Peter Watts and Alastair Reynolds.

Expect a richly imagined world.

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Sunday, May 14, 2023

Illuminations: StoriesIlluminations: Stories by Alan Moore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Alan Moore's first short story collection is everything I hoped it would be.

I can't always say that I'm the biggest fan of the subject materials he chooses, but here's something to consider: he ALWAYS seems to pick the biggest underdogs, the strangest viewpoints, the utter quasi-losers, and writes them WELL.

The language is almost ALWAYS 100% gorgeous.

Hypothetical Lizard - a very disturbing look at a SFnal pleasure district twist that is even more disturbing by who gets hurt worst. Lush descriptions.

Not Even Legend - Crypto-zoology Moore style, utterly original cast of creatures, society, and a heartbreaking look at how one such creature lives.

Location, Location, Location - Jesus and Lawyers. Trust me, it's quite original. Damn those contracts.

Cold Reading - an okay paranormal turnaround story.

The Improbably Complex High-Energy State - Funky cool and weird as hell. I couldn't stop laughing at the state of all these copulating comb-overs. Truly great weird-fiction.

Illuminations - A lot of nostalgia. A lot of slow burn that turns into a great little horror.

What We Can Know About Thunderman - My personal favorite of the bunch. It serves two great purposes for me: I love to read about the old, old days of the comic industry and just how messed up it all was. Moore goes several steps out of his way to illustrate it all wonderfully while making sure he puts his spin on every single property, changing names and styles. It's practically a tour de force.

American Light - Beat poetry at its best, made up fresh, complete with full analytical commentary including a full supporting cast of all the old Beat Poets and their place in the poem, real life or metaphorical. It's crazy how well-thought-out it is. :)

And, at the Last, Just to Be Done with Silence - Not my favorite, a bit too obscure even for me, but I can still appreciate the middle-ages references. Moore is definitely intimidating.

So, all said, a very interesting short story collection. Fantastically creative if not always enjoyable, it is always very impressive.

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Saturday, May 13, 2023

Fractal Noise (Fractalverse #0.5)Fractal Noise by Christopher Paolini
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After loving To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, it was really something of a no-brainer to want to head toward a prequel.

Ah, but this is where I'm forced to warn you that you must manage your expectations a bit. If you wanted another To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, you might be slightly disappointed.

If, on the other hand, you wanted the tragic expedition, with all the feel of a number of classic novels that deal with danger, perseverance, and the desire to DISCOVER something truly great, then this is a very fine SF novel. This is a first contact novel without true resolution, a lot of mishaps and a long trudge within an unknowable alien find, and wonderful characterizations.

Again, it isn't TSiaSoS, but IF you were of a mind to simply trust the author, reading this one first and then moving onto the primary novel WOULD give a lot of depth and slow-build to both.

I definitely recommend. The primary novel transitions perfectly. Or rather, read both together for the sense of a VERY long, excellent story.

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Friday, May 12, 2023

Season of Skulls (Laundry Files, #13; New Management, #3)Season of Skulls by Charles Stross
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well now, after reading the acknowledgements, I have a much better appreciation for the genesis of this novel. I mean, yes, it's absolutely a Laundry novel and it's the third and perhaps capstone of the New Management trilogy, but it's also a point of challenge and departure for Charlie Stross.

I SO want to spoil it, to tell ya'll what he's turned his hand toward, but I won't. Just know that I think it got pulled off quite well. I was grinning from ear to ear by the time we got there.

Nanowrimo helps, ya'll. Even seasoned authors. Plus, '20 sucked. I'm so glad we got something good out of it here.

It's LAUNDRY, people! I always get excited with these, and thanks to the machinations of Management, a few tentacles, a demi-liche, nasty story geases, and a bit of dream and time-travel, bureaucracy has never seemed so welcoming.

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Thursday, May 11, 2023

Queen of Candesce (Virga, #2)Queen of Candesce by Karl Schroeder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We didn't really focus too much on the mechanics of Virga in this book, (which still remains awesome, btw,) but that's mostly fine. We got the lion's share of worldbuilding in the first book.

This one takes us to an OLD, insular community with our favorite back-stabbing hot noble as she successfully rises to power on nothing more than intelligence and opportunism.

That's it. It's fun, a wild ride, and it's all still set in a man-made world like a balloon with artificial suns inside. For that, I call it quasi-steampunk, quasi-hardSF.

I'm down for more. Originality counts for a lot.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Dual MemoryDual Memory by Sue Burke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m surprised how much fun I had while reading this novel. Subtext is everything, of course, but what can I say? I love a good diatribe.

Between discussions of the nature of art, revolutionary planning, anti-cap sentiment, a plethora of AIs puppeteering the whole shebang — and friendship, I just fairly rocked with this novel.

It’s not perfect, but I still had a great time, so that counts for a lot.

It is a cool departure from Sue Burke’s other novels and not a bad thing in the slightest. It’s just different.

I can’t wait to follow her writing career.

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Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Evershore (Skyward, #3.1)Evershore by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a solid novella, or even short novel, in the Skyward series. We get full characterization of Jorgen, Jerkface, and it's great.

We even get some great battle, too, but the strength of this is in the rise to power, getting to know the aliens, and the Knowhere place that is obviously (at least to a Brandon Sanderson Cosmere fan,) a lot more than what it seems to be.

I'm really reading all these for the completionism aspect to it, but I'm quite happy, anyway. Quite solid.

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Monday, May 8, 2023

ReDawn (Skyward, #2.2)ReDawn by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This in-between novella in the Skyward series is just more proof that no one should go it alone. I liked the mentoring aspect of it.

Everyone needs help.

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Fables, Vol. 9: Sons of EmpireFables, Vol. 9: Sons of Empire by Bill Willingham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bigby's Bros! I'm also really getting into the whole Snow/Bigby relationship (including the kids) now.

Flycatcher is really getting interesting, too.

It looks like I'm finally getting into the good stuff, or close. I'm invested at last.

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Ex-Communication (Ex-Heroes, #3)Ex-Communication by Peter Clines
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Comic superheroes vs zombie apocalypse, continued.

This one is simple and fascinating. I loved Dead Girl and the whole deal with the devil sideline was solid, too. Make no mistake, however: it's all popcorn. It fulfills a specific reader need and does it well.

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Sunday, May 7, 2023

Dark One: ForgottenDark One: Forgotten by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this one all too much because it just felt like a v-blogger amateur murder investigation — a bit cute, increasingly weird — but overall, logical and earnest.

I will say that I did get into it 100% once the real hook was revealed. What hook? Ah, but to say that would spoil WAY too much.

So I’ll just say that the true bits of horror, when it finally turns on the protagonist, is well worth the read and fascinating in its own right.

I am certain I’ll enjoy more like this in the future.

Of course, since it’s Sanderson and Wells, of whom I’ve already read tons, I’m sure it will come around again. :)

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Genome (The Extinction Files, #2)Genome by A.G. Riddle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one moves away from the dystopian nightmare of the first and I was pretty happy to have a more intellectual discussion about our genomic past (extinction scenarios, reasons for adaptation) and the directions we can go from here.

Especially in respect to the setup of the first novel, it was rather a breath of fresh air.

That isn’t to say I AGREED to most of the suppositions, but I did like reading about them.

So, let’s hear it for nanotech, control, extinction, and amnesia. Lol.

Not bad.

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Saturday, May 6, 2023

MyriadMyriad by Joshua David Bellin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time travel novels are notorious for being hairballs. Matted, tangled, half-digested messes. Don't get me wrong tho, they can be awfully interesting as the cat coughs one up, but what treasure we think we're looking for isn't always the one we really need.

It's a kind of time-cop novel with plenty of mystery, so this is pretty standard. What isn't standard is the core PTSD version of time travel. I think it's pretty clever, but it's not precisely easy to get through. For one, there are many different versions of our main character and she's a mess in almost all of them. It makes for interesting reading if you like hairballs, and doubly so if you like a truly tangled plot.

Fortunately, it does get untangled by the end.

Is it good? Yes. I think so, but manage your expectations. It's almost a bit like a Blake Crouch but heavier on the PTSD -- many multiple versions of it. It wasn't precisely enjoyable but thrillers usually aren't. The tension is real.

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Into the Fire (Morcster Chef, #2)Into the Fire by Actus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This kind of thing is and should be a very common thing. Why isn't it? Give me my leveling adventure sprinkled heavily with cookoffs. GIVE IT TO ME.

And yes, each recipe is included, as they are cooked. If you want the reference guide, you must simply enjoy the adventure. Muahahahahaha

Loving it.

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Friday, May 5, 2023

GalaxiasGalaxias by Stephen Baxter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not perfect, but still interesting, this is a novel like Spin if only it were written by Stephen Baxter. Fortunately, this WAS a Stephen Baxter novel and the best parts are always the technological exploration, theorizing, and scope.

Simple concept here. The sun goes out. Not only does it go out, its gravitational waves go missing.

Now take that a step further and see what happens to the Earth, all the other planets, our civilization... everything.

And then add Galaxias, the entity/entities or WHATEVER it is that caused it. We get a lot of Fermi paradox questions, Dark Forest questions, and speculation HERE, too. It's really cool.

So why am I giving this only a 4 star? Because while the characters aren't bad, precisely, they're a lot duller than the surrounding worldbuilding and science. This is a pretty great novel of ideas and, considering when it was probably written, during Covid isolation, it's very topical, dystopian in a lot of ways, but I'm proud to say it never stays there.

It's definitely hard SF in all the best ways. Baxter needs some good love. If you like Cixin Liu, head over here, too.

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Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Cleaver's Edge (Morcster Chef, #1)Cleaver's Edge by Actus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Muahahahaha, this is nuts - and so cool.

I never knew I needed this blend of food-porn (including full recipes) and LitRPG adventure.

Not only do we get a mysterious Orc War-Chief, (not war-chieftain, lol,) we get him in a fun four-person adventurer party. Between dealing with town encounters and cook-offs with local taverns, there's also a bit of guild intrigue and reveals. The LitRPG itself is solid.

So why am I salivating so much? Why am I looking through my pantry and fridge for ingredients to try RIGHT NOW?

I swear. Being a foodie AND a huge RPG fan is going to kill me -- and I'm gonna blame this book.

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Tuesday, May 2, 2023

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I got this for my girl, fully expecting us to read it TOGETHER. You know, enjoy some together time with some punk-ass Greek gods in modern times, enjoying a cool adventure while salivating for the upcoming tv series. The little things.

So what does she do? She reads ahead of me. Leaves me in the dust. Demands to read the sequels. WITHOUT ME.

So here I go, grumbling, finally catching up.

Did I enjoy it?

Yeah, actually. It's pretty simple and the baddies are cardboard cut-outs, but the adventure is solid and 100% fun.

Am I going to give my daughter some more hell if she keeps reading ahead?

Yes. Absolutely.

(Actually, I'm just happy she loves reading. But still, I think she's a punk.) ;)

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The FerrymanThe Ferryman by Justin Cronin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a rather surprising, inventive book. By the time I got sucked in, I imagined it would be a certain kind of book and looked forward to the thriller-ish, vaguely disquieting, potentially nightmarish dystopia.

I mean, sure, there are certain things that are very wrong here. How people are adopted, how they leave the world, all of that really gives me a Charon kind of feel. I thought it was definitely going to be THAT.

And then, much later, when things get weirder, well after the half-way point, I am proud to admit that I got bait-and-switched and I LOVED it.

I cannot say a damn thing about it, either, or it's massive spoiler territory, but I WILL just say that this made the book for me. It's quite clever, and while I think that certain people should have experienced a bit more punishment for the crime, I can't fault the intent behind it.

There's a lot of good storytelling here. As a novel-structure, broad outlines, it's pretty fantastic. The mirroring and assumptions we must go through come back around to eat itself. I love that kind of stuff.

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