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Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Crystal Awakening (Shattered Legacy, #1)Crystal Awakening by Andrew Rowe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been a big fan of Andrew Rowe's LitRPG with its focus on Enchanting and crafting. I've loved all the books, their adventure, friendships, worldbuilding, and of course the leveling up.

This particular book is a spin-off, based in the same magical world, but the difference is obvious right off the bat. It's a lot more friendship and team-building and character-focused than before. This is probably the effect of his co-author.

We still have the tower-climbing, the interpersonal challenges, the distinctive player styles, but now, after I've read it, it feels like it has a much more cozy Becky Chambers-ish style. More focus here than on the LitRPG elements.

It isn't bad, it's just different. In this respect, the spin-off is more like a regular fantasy, shedding its LitRPG roots in favor of plain adventure and heavier focus on characters. It's also a bit slower, but that's to be expected with the kind of style.

Not bad. I'll continue.

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Monday, August 28, 2023

SpearSpear by Nicola Griffith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A solid retelling of a Tuatha Dé Danann legend that overlaped with the Arthurian. The focus is on female strength, LGBTQ, and the spirit of magic.

While this isn't particularly new, the writing is strong and beautifully told.

I want to say it is the best I have ever read, but I have read a seemingly endless line of great, if diminished Irish gods and Arthurian legends. For someone who hasn't dived deep into the literature, I do recommend this. It is both new and it speaks of modern sensibilities while also being a strong tale.

No, I did not fall in love with this, but I do appreciate its strengths.

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Mercury Rests (Mercury #3)Mercury Rests by Robert Kroese
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Truly, this series is just what the doctor ordered after having already enjoyed Good Omens, both times, and having gone through a binge of both seasons of GO and Supernantural.

Mercury, our snide, human-loving Cherubim who doesn't really like ANY of the angels or demons in any plane of existence, still manages to do ALL their jobs for them, complaining about getting head-shotted all the while.

And let's not forget the friendly rivalry between Jobe and Cain on the ping-pong table.

Good stuff. Lots of Apocalypse-breaking, time travel, Queens of Darkness, plan-full Satan, and failed book writing.

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Sunday, August 27, 2023

Magic Claims (Kate Daniels: Wilmington Years, #2; Kate Daniels, #10.6)Magic Claims by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

New home has an old problem and the whole Lottery thing is getting super ancient. Time to kill the problem for the neighbors.

As always, it's fun returning to this series. Everyone's a bit older, but the kid is a little murderous delight, and regular problems always seem so overwhelming in comparison to world-killers.

Who are the real big bads? HOAs, of course. Was there any real doubt?

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Magic Tides (Kate Daniels: Wilmington Years, #1; Kate Daniels, #10.5)Magic Tides by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A nice return to Kate Daniels. Time-skip, of course, with a little monster of an eight-year-old shape-shifter running around. The main plot is a kidnapping with a watery villain, but it should come as no surprise that the main conflicts aren't power-related. KD is still a bit overpowered.

That being said, it was still a very enjoyable return and I'm enjoying the ride.

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The Will of the Many (Hierarchy, #1)The Will of the Many by James Islington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can't say enough good things about James Islington. The other fantasy series was fantastic, but if anything, this one is better. Such smooth writing, interesting characters, great buildup of stakes, and magic systems that are gripping and disturbing and mysterious -- while obviously following some great rules.

In particular, I can't quite say what I love most, the characterizations or the deep implications to the worldbuilding and the will-stealing magic (or the MC's absolute refusal to submit or force others to submit). Maybe it's both. The willpower required, the other coercions, the fallback into a more standard adoption/training/school setting, and the understanding that it will all eventually come tumbling down, is some great storytelling.

And then there's the writing, itself. It's as smooth as silk. I could read this forever, and likely will. It's a big book and I would read 40 times this length without batting an eyelash.

I can't wait to read the next.

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Saturday, August 26, 2023

Fancy Bear Goes Phishing: The Dark History of the Information Age, in Five Extraordinary HacksFancy Bear Goes Phishing: The Dark History of the Information Age, in Five Extraordinary Hacks by Scott J. Shapiro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For a book on the history of hacking, there are many worse options. This one may not go into even a fraction of the greatest exploits, but it DOES go damn deep into five examples. Indeed, the quality is right up there with the best investigative journalism, with the great caveat that it must also ACCURATELY and INTERESTINGLY describe the computer science and the terms.

Most books like this either assume you know your shit already or is dumbed down to the point of wondering who it was written for or just reads like an emotional thunderstorm of fear and paranoia.

This one sticks to a great, comprehensive UNDERSTANDING of both the means and ways of hacking AND the players involved. I really appreciated that. I mean, you can't bring up social engineering without also giving a great deal of credit to human psychology or the forces that are at play within actual hacker communities.

Self-aggrandizement is commonplace in the hacker community, often taking tons more credit than is warranted, or denying (sometimes accurately) intent to cause mischief, or it is for juvenile bragging rights, or it is a means for the oppressed and poor to strike back.

Normal media and government response to real hackers is generally weird or alarmist or just plain incomprehensible. And don't get me started with software companies more focused on dominating the market than protecting their product or their users who get slammed.

Misinformation is everywhere. Often that same misinformation is perpetuated by paid hackers. But in the end? They're still real people living in a real world and this book doesn't try to apologize for them or make them out to be anything more than exactly what they are. It's not a book trying to persuade anyone of anything.

Indeed, it is wonderfully detailed and researched. It may not capture everything, but these five explorations get the chef's kiss. I think this book hits that sweet spot for newbs, leets and normals.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2023

The Law (The Dresden Files #17.4)The Law by Jim Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nicely down to earth, this novella is a callback to the early days when Dresden helped the genuinely worthy downcast against painfully annoying assholes.

I really enjoyed the creeps and the damsel in distress and the courtroom drama. It has just the right tone, as classic a tale as it is.

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Battle Ground (The Dresden Files, #17)Battle Ground by Jim Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Re-Read 8/23/23:

I am still stunned into silence.

There's something to be said, however, about the Dresden Files.

It kicks serious ass.

By this point in my reading UF career, I have to place Dresden at the very top of a prodigious list of great UFs. For REALLY good reason.

Original Review:

Words nearly fail me.

Even as I read this book, I was stunned into silence. (You know, one of those deep, inner-monologue silences that radiate deeply inward so much that I could hear a mental pin drop from forty mental yards.)

I knew, from the prior book, that we were preparing for WAR. The outsiders were coming. All supernaturals, gods, Fae, and even normal folk were being called to battle. It is ALL of Chicago on the line.

What I didn't expect was for Jim Butcher to pull an all-out Epic Fantasy battle against a freaking Titan, including massive damage to the city, the allies, or to Harry, himself. You know what came to mind? Butcher's Caldera novels. Huge scope, fantastic action, magic, and glory. Now blend that in with ALL our most beloved characters from the Dresden Files. Put EVERYONE on the field of battle.

I mean, it's only the fabric of reality that's at stake. The stakes aren't THAT high.

And then expect a novel that doesn't let up. At all.

And even when the main battle is done, that inner silence remains.

Let me be honest here: I cried like a little baby during this book. Many times. I was too shocked. Too... well... maybe words do fail me, after all.

Even now, I'm crying as I write this review.

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Monday, August 21, 2023

Peace Talks (The Dresden Files, #16)Peace Talks by Jim Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Re-Read 8/21/23:

I'm getting close to finishing a full re-read of the Dresden Files series and I'm loving it. Yes, it's the final build-up of all the powers, seeing who is going to fight on what side as the Fomors gather at the gates. It's great prep for the next book, of course, but it also hits close to home.

Nobody fights like family.

Original Review:

My dear friends, I just finished reading Peace Talks.

Yes, I finally read a book that I (and approximately 1k other reviewers) have been so vocal about wanting ever since Skin Game.

If I was going to be super precise about the actual waiting time, I'd say it's a TON. For those who like to challenge themselves with a little basic math, the last Dresden novel came out in May of 2014.

And so, when I got an ARC for this, I spit out my soup in surprise and started screaming.

You understand. It's just one of those things.

But now that I've read Peace Talks, I'm afraid to actually SAY that I've read Peace Talks.


Because you FANS ARE NUTS. I feel like I'm starting a war! I can hear you getting your guns out and your magical weapons and all your supernatural hoards and you're COMING FOR ME because I got it early and read it early and now I feel like my only recourse is to run and hide on Demonreach!

Of course, if you weren't coming for me with hate-filled eyes, I might tell you that the book was AWESOME and Mr. Jim Butcher pulled off something SWEET AS HELL in the new novel. I could tell you that nothing is lost, nothing is ignored, and all things serve a purpose.

You remember the book where the Council and all the other baddies stood to face the wall that kept the Outsiders on the other side, and you read the scene with wonder and a crazy feeling that things were ABSOLUTELY NOT GOING TO GO WELL?

That feeling has survived quite nicely in this book.

And you know what? Mr. Jim Butcher is spoiling us.

Look to October this year for BOOK 17! That's right. Battle Ground

The crap is going to hit the fan.

Please don't hurt me, fellow fanboys and fangirls! But even if you do, I think it was worth it. The book was great. :) Peace, friends!

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Sunday, August 20, 2023

The Candy HouseThe Candy House by Jennifer Egan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is definitely a traditional fiction, character-centric, social and personal commentary stab at our modern world. With good writing, it has all the feel of character studies, the drive for authenticity, with all the trappings of an old-style generational novel -- with the inclusion of a very SF worldbuild that integrates uploaded memories in every walk of our modern life.

No, the plot doesn't center around the tech. Indeed, there isn't much of a plot. It is a series of well-written vignettes that focus on personal issues, growth, ideals, or just happiness.

I recommend it for the journey, not the destination. It was quite entertaining as long as I just let it take me wherever it wanted to go.

I will mention I thought it got really interesting with the short 2nd person storytelling. I appreciate that kind of thing when done well.

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Saturday, August 19, 2023

Ashes of Candesce (Virga, #5)Ashes of Candesce by Karl Schroeder
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I find myself enjoying this novel quite a bit more than the others, although none of them were bad. Lots of adventure and worldbuilding, with that neat combo of hard SF and steampunk, with the unique actual World Building of Virga taking front stage.

What really stood out for me was the inclusion of all the main characters from the first four books, each getting a great deal of limelight, plus a new character that really puts the context of the outside universe into Virga, itself.

I think I got the most enjoyment out of this one precisely for the trips-to-the-underworld grand philosophy, for the explorations of the nature of immortality, memory, grounding versus virtual, and the fine lines a lot of it can take.

For me, this is the epitome of science fiction. Swashbuckling, booms, and immortal nanotech constructs are just frosting on the cake.

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Friday, August 18, 2023

River Marked (Mercy Thompson, #6)River Marked by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This Mercy Thompson rubbed me the wrong way a bit.

It's mostly the cliche story of a honeymoon gone really wrong, mostly, but while we're letting Adam lose more and more agency because he isn't Mercy, I get the weird feeling that the storyline needs to be forced into a bigger/badder direction. Specifically, we need to give Mercy a more impressive reveal/background, delving into the source of her shapeshifting, magic resistance, in a way that proves to us that she really is the *something something* chosen one.

And sorry, I get a bit annoyed with that if it's not getting pulled off with panache.

So. Am I happy about the reveal about her parentage?

Slightly. I like the mythos in theory, and I've seen it done well in other places. But this one? I don't know. He seems a bit... tame? Familiar? A lot less tricksy than he should be?

Well, it's not a dealbreaker, but my respect is .. a bit askew.

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Thursday, August 17, 2023

Skin Game (The Dresden Files, #15)Skin Game by Jim Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Re-Read 8/17/23:

A pure delight to re-read. Pure, shining, light-saber-ish delight.

There is practically nothing to dislike about this novel. It's one of my favorites. Again. And that says a lot about the series as a whole. I laughed too many times to count, and the sheer weight of wholesomeness almost destroyed me.

You can't say that too often when dealing with demons and shapeshifters and mercenaries on a heist, but when you have FRIENDS, well...


Original Review:

I'm a bona-fide fanboy of the series and I don't care who knows it. Perhaps if more people knew, they'd give it a shot, too. I'm continually surprised by the directions it takes, and this book was no different. I loved the oceans eleven feel and the return of a slew of villains that were very memorable in their own right. The twists, including the one that was derived from the title, were satisfying but not obvious for a good long time. Other twists, such as the one that kept him tied to the island, has got me chomping at the bit for the next novel(s).
I love where all these changes are driving the story, but, this one was great for the huge amount of resurfacing characters.
I'm in awe, and this candy is so delicious. I truly can't wait for more.


This is a contender for the 2015 Hugo for best novel.

Now while I am generally in awe of Mr. Butcher, there is still some controversy surrounding this year's picks. I choose to ignore the controversy and uphold the spirit with which so many people view the honor of the Hugos.

I may not like this particular novel as much as a few of the ones that have come before, such as Changes, but I do hold the novel in very high esteem. This series also falls into a grey category in my mind because while it can be read without knowing the other 14 books in the series, it probably shouldn't be. The entire series is too rich to ignore. That being said, Dresden is more like a whale than a big fish, and should be considered a class to itself.

Hugo possibility? Certainly, as long as the spirit of the award is given for the right reasons, and even if it is, we might need a new category such as Lifetime Achievement, or HUGE ASS STORY ARC category. Then we could backvote WOT in as well.

Brad K Horner's blog

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Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Magic for LiarsMagic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think this just hit that sweet spot for me. Nothing out there, but a comfortable fantasy matching a modern noir with a female hard-bitten PI with sister problems and magic school murder scene.

It's a comfortable story full of old elements mixed together in a modern magical mystery base.

It's that kind of PI story that can just rattle around and rolls up in a satisfying way. It helps that we get a lot of cool magic and HS drama, too.

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Monday, August 14, 2023

The Innocent Sleep (October Daye, #18)The Innocent Sleep by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While I generally always enjoy all the October Daye novels, they're usually pretty self-contained (read bite-sized) stories that don't require extra bits to enjoy. I'm not talking about cliffhangers, either.

This one, however, is a bit unusual in the series. We've got Tybalt as our main PoV and it takes place during all of the events of Sleep No More, the previous novel in the series.

On one hand, it feels like a rather interesting side-novel that gives this ex-king of cats a great deal of agency -- something that has been lacking in the rest of the series.

On the other, it absolutely feels like it should have been either a companion novella or interspersed with the OTHER novel as one huge novel instead. Indeed, I would have welcomed a big honker of a novel with October and Tybalt dancing around each other in this otherwise great story. Together, they shine. Separate, it feels like we're just getting the same story again, from very different points of view.

I didn't dislike it, mind you. I just think it could have been given a wonderful shine instead of seeming to re-tread a lot of ground. I would have loved to feel the immediacy of experiencing the same scenes side-by-side.

Still... it was a good novel. Solid, regardless.

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Saturday, August 12, 2023

Blood Meridian, or, the Evening Redness in the WestBlood Meridian, or, the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Here's one of the more brilliant books I've read.

With shocking, evocative language, rivers of abuse, blood, poverty, and a sick fascination with all things corrupt, it's a testament to all things evil and/or lost.

While the historically-based events and the pristine Western-ethos is on full display, the subversion of the genre is, as well. I'm not precisely a fan of Westerns even on the best of days, but I've always enjoyed the best of the best. I liked the exploration of grey areas and white and black hats. I liked the purity, or at least the utter impossibility of finding purity. But Blood Meridian does away with all that. There's nothing but black hats. It's all a pure dystopia and it's brutal, ugly, hateful.

The only things we DO get to focus on to pull us through this nightmare is the mythology of the best worst people in the story. The Judge is quite brilliant and capable and he is quite possibly the best depiction of the devil I've ever read. And all these parts of America and Mexico are, indeed, hell.

This isn't a book for the light of heart. It is brilliant and gorgeous in its brutal ugliness. I'm in awe even as my stomach turns.

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Thursday, August 10, 2023

The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #3)The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is basically a template book. If you like the first two books in the series, you'll like this one as well. Very formulaic, but still fun nonetheless.

Greek gods being sneaky and (somewhat) helpful. Setup for nastiness and nemesis. Oracles being less than helpful. Roadtrip. Adventure.

In this case, Dionysus and Artemis play a big part, but so does Aphrodite and Ares and even Pan.

It's pretty wholesome and light, all told. No complaints.

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Desert CreaturesDesert Creatures by Kay Chronister
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What I initially took to be a post-apocalyptic Nevada desert dystopia filled with religious fanatics and a twisted kind of Las Vegas sainthood with all the corruption that implies actually turned out to be a story of subtle redemption. Indeed, the desert itself is a main character.

I do have to say that I liked this book better in hindsight than the actual journey. The ideas of the western aesthetic was there, of course, as was the slow degradation of the soul starting with pilgrimage all the way to years and years of abuse. The redemption aspect was there, but it was small and mostly only in the reader's mind.

I can't say I actually had a good time while reading this. It was hard to watch, so to speak. But then, I also have a hard time with most westerns or western-adjacents. It sometimes reads like a slow coming-to-terms, but it feels like a slow-burn horror. A very slow burn.

It is split up in three different PoVs and spreads across a good deal of time. The big focus on organized religion and the criticism -- as well as the supernatural elements -- kept this from being pure commentary. Fortunately, or unfortunately, this one straddles many lines without fully committing to any. Sometimes that works out great, and sometimes it's just unclear. I appreciate the subtlety, regardless.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Legends & Lattes (Legends & Lattes, #1)Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As the world gets darker and crazier, the need for truly wholesome, heartwarming, and re-invigorating literature becomes all the more apparent.

And this one hits all the right spots.

Sure, it's a novel about re-invention, starting over, but it's really about gathering like-minded people to you, surrounding yourself with true friends.

The fantasy part is not the fantasy races, the magical stones, fires, or blades. It's the wish-fulfillment of finally belonging.

It's quite lovely. I could easily read this forever.

Plus, it's really just a novel of starting a coffee shop. Of a Field of Dreams coffee shop. Build it and they will come. It's a great dream. Orcs and succubi are merely a frosting on the roll.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Nettle & BoneNettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've always rather enjoyed T. Kingfisher's (Vernon's) writing. It's always smooth and has that perfect fairy-tale feel to it.

This one is no exception. Indeed, it even has curse-slinging godmothers, bone-dogs, a wicked step-brother, three impossible quests, and a woodcutter.

I had a very good time reading this. I have no complaints about the story or my enjoyment of it.

Do you hear a 'but' forming here?
Yes, but by no fault of the author. This book was nominated for Best Hugo Novel and I'm sitting here scratching my head as for why. It is a good novel, but there's nothing extraordinary about the core story, the ideas, the situation OR the actual sub-genre of Fantasy that screams Hugo. Maybe I'm old fashioned. Mostly it's an award for SF. In the cases where it actually goes to a fantasy title, the fantasy titles are generally extra-ordinary and universally acknowledged as such. It was weird in '01 when Goblet of Fire won, but by then HP was in full swing. It was weird when American Gods won, but it WAS extra-ordinary. Paladin of Souls was wildly original, but I was scratching my head except for the fact that the author had richly earned Hugos in the past, and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is a classic. The point is, it's only in the last 20 years that ANY fantasy was even slipping in to the Hugos. There are entirely different awards for Fantasy. So is this just some kind of lame grumbling from some guy who went out of his way to read every single Hugo winner AND nominated Hugo from the time it began in the 50's? Enjoying how it used to be the best and brightest and most extraordinary SCIENCE FICTION the world has to offer, be watered down to head-scratching stretches of category shoe-horning?

Okay. I suppose I can imagine a Romance winning a Best Western award or a SF winning the Booker, but people generally get annoyed by the constant re-emergence of this kind of ANOMALY. Right?

Fine. Rant over. It's not about Kingfisher. The novel is great and should definitely win a Fantasy award just for the writing. The ideas are clever but not groundbreaking, and yet enjoyment ought to carry a lot of weight.

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Monday, August 7, 2023

The Unhoneymooners (Unhoneymooners, #1)The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I got roped into this Rom-Com buddy-read because I'm a real soft touch. Or I'm gullible. Or I just don't know what to do when women get all weepy.

So here I am, reading a Rom-Com featuring all the oldest misadventures, featuring the very, very believable "Sis and her brand new husband get food poisoning and can't go on their all-expenses paid honeymoon and now I, her twin sister, must take her place alongside my arch-enemy, my sister's husband's brother" - plot.

Fortunately -- the read is funny and horny and snide and eventually delightful. It was exactly what I predicted it to be. Not one thing less, not one thing more.

Oh, and we can get the expected dose of girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy back, with all the expected variations of the boy doing all the heavy lifting, so -- normal. It's fast food. You know what to expect. :)

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Sunday, August 6, 2023

Kaiju: Battlefield SurgeonKaiju: Battlefield Surgeon by Matt Dinniman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I got my buddy-reader to start her first LitRPG with this one and wow was that a mistake. I mean, sure, if you DO like massive body-horror and OTT gore, it MIGHT have been a good fit, but as with anything, the writing has to click or it just won't pan out.

Me, I thought it was pretty okay. The core reason for any LitRPG is usually not as important as the fun factor, but this one wasn't all that fun. It had its moments, but none of them were all that humorous or snarky.

This one was just torture for torture's sake and that's not always a ... fun ride. Ahem.

That being said, if you like sadism run by a bunch of sadists and want huge kaiju bloodbaths, often dumpster diving IN said kaijus, then I would recommend this. Darkness for the win, all the way. You might say it was a TOTALLY DEATHMETAL NOVEL and you'd be right.

Manage your expectations, of course. It succeeded in its task, but it just wasn't that fun.

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Saturday, August 5, 2023

Sleep No More (October Daye, #17)Sleep No More by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


We get a seriously altered Fae thanks to a certain First Born. Memory magic and revenge gave us a thoroughly altered reality. October is the primary focus thanks to the events of the previous book.

I won't say too much, but goodness... it's an ultimate What If novel for Fae and especially October, fully ensconced in Fae culture, with all its faults, and without all the events and changes that October had helped bring about in the previous 16 novels.

The fun is in the unraveling, of course. So very enjoyable.

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Thursday, August 3, 2023

The Road to RoswellThe Road to Roswell by Connie Willis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been a forever Connie Willis fan. That means it doesn't matter what she writes, I have total trust in whatever she does.

That being said, I worried -- slightly -- that this subject, aliens and Roswell, might be a bit meh on my radar.

I am HAPPY to say that even if I was lukewarm about the subject, Connie still knocks it out of the park. She proves that my trust is totally warranted. Again.

This is a great blend of comedy, road-trip adventure, linguistic hi-jinx, and goofy characters all working toward a -- weird goal. This trip kept a smile on my lips throughout.

Comedy is hard to do right. Fortunately, Connie Willis is a master.

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Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Empire of the SunEmpire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Re-Read 8/2/23

I don't know what it is about this novel that lets me positively want to re-read it. On the surface, it's utterly tragic and devastating. Ballard himself experienced the Japanese war camp in Shanghai for the entire span of WWII. Starvation and desperate moves to survive and the breathtaking beauty of trying to make sense of fascination and obsession, indeed, YA self-discovery, while developing PTSD, is NOT something I'd think ANYONE would want to revisit.

And yet, Jim always kept hope, developed friendships, developed a love for airplanes, a respect for the Japanese, and a love of learning in general... despite his circumstances.

This tragedy is still full of hope.

This balance is rather amazing and unique.

I totally recommend it.

Original Review:

I don't know whether it's a mistake to read all the other things this great SF author has read first and THEN read this brilliant WWII novel of a young kid lost in Shanghai during the Japanese occupation or whether it might be best to see all the wildness of his short stories, longer fictions, and utter fascination with flying and emotional deadening in the middle of tragedy FIRST.

Or whether everyone and anyone with even a slight interest in reading one of the very best novels of the war should drop everything else on their list and jump right into this.

I admit I watched the Spielberg film back in the day, utterly fascinated and totally identifying with Jim, the main character, who just happened to be played by a young Christian Bale, admitting that while this kind of movie was NOTHING like the kinds of movies or books I preferred, and yet falling for it completely...

...right down to the dead-eyed stares after so much starvation, death, and Jim's last vestiges of innocent wonder and miracles retained throughout the very worst that humanity has to offer.

I've seen the movie like four times.

And yet, I only just now read the book AFTER having read several others by the same author AND the complete short story collection.


Maybe I should have started with this. It's brilliant. No two ways about it. I broke down into tears and was amazed by how much further the book takes it even after KNOWING what to expect from the movie.

I'm not exactly NEW to this genre. I shouldn't have been affected this hard. I shouldn't have had to stop the book for several minutes at a time because I couldn't breathe right. It was just... almost... too much for me. Emotionally. I'm wrecked.

Sure, the movie is a good intro or perhaps a companion to this brilliant novel, but by NO MEANS should the novel be skipped. It's just one of those brilliant classics that may be regarded as timeless.

No pressure, right?

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Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Be the Serpent (October Daye, #16)Be the Serpent by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To be honest, I started this wondering... Oh, well, Toby has her new husband and this is just going to be a mid adventure just getting along with her hubby kind of thing.

And then some really dark s**t happens. Worse, it gets so much worse. The kid? That was probably enough for the whole novel. And then we learn who, why, and how, and then there's OBERON.

Toby is strong now. This is true. Toby is also not putting up with the ongoing s**t of her family. This is also true. But some things are just insane. And that's what we have in this novel. Titania. It really can't get much worse than this.

Great novel. I'm glad to see the whole series is this strong so late into it.

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