Mailing List

Monday, October 30, 2023

BuyMort: Grand Opening: How I Became the Accidental Warlord of Arizona (Shopocalypse Saga #1)BuyMort: Grand Opening: How I Became the Accidental Warlord of Arizona by Damien Hanson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Truly fun semi-LitRPG. No leveling up, per-se, but it's definitely a tongue-in-cheeck Amazon-lambast near-future dystopia.

Normal people in BFE Arazona just trying to survive an alien uber-capitalist hell-topia. Sell what you like, survive the nastiness, buy at premium.

Sound familiar, folks?

Yep, it's very, very familiar. Just add orcs, slimes, wingless gigantic wasps, and a religion based on affiliate consumership.

Yes. It IS as scary as it sounds.

Happy SF halloween!

View all my reviews

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Bookshops & Bonedust (Legends & Lattes, #0)Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You know, I specifically read this because of Legends and Lattes, for the hope that I'd fall for the comfort, the warmth, the utterly delightful idea that something can be built that can last.

Sure, it's a fantasy, but that's just an element to amuse. A little necromancy, a splash of blood, but that's nothing.

The good stuff is BOOKS. Books and bonedust and teasing companionship and MAKING FRIENDS.

God. This book was just as good as the other.

Should we want ALL that Travis Baldree has to offer? Yes. I think we should ALL want an unlimited amount of feel-good fantasy X 2 thrillers as we can possibly support.


View all my reviews

Friday, October 27, 2023

The Destroyer of Worlds (Lovecraft Country, #2)The Destroyer of Worlds by Matt Ruff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is really more of a nostalgia piece that revisits all the cool bits from the first book. You know, picking up where the good characters left off, reminding us of some nasty history, and mixing it up with a ton of cool necromancy, magic, and black Doctor Who bits.

I enjoyed every bit of it -- but it absolutely rides on the coattails of the first. That's not a bad thing. I'm also saying that it didn't have the fantastic plot of the first book. Indeed, it was a bit meandering.

Either way, I'm glad I got to read it.

View all my reviews

Thursday, October 26, 2023

CarmillaCarmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, now I know why vampirism was so popular back in the day. Whew! So Steamy! Where we can get our romance novel HOT, even distracted to destruction.

Honestly, its simplicity is pretty wonderful, their innocence -- warming. But that's very attractive, of course, to the cold-blooded.

Believe me, I've read a TON of worse vampire novels. What this one lacks in plot, it makes up for in charm, seduction, longing, and horror.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Sixth ColumnSixth Column by Robert A. Heinlein
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I won't say this is a particularly good Heinlein, by any stretch of the imagination, but if you get right down to it, it was written in 1949 when he was moving away from his Juveniles and putting his hand to more adult works.

In this case, he was writing for a small white male audience that had recently come out of WWII and he kinda clumped all Asians as WWII imperialist Japanese with the numbers of China to come up with the baddies having overtaken America. It's a kind of ignorant future, okay? The book needed a baddie that wasn't American and culturally alien enough to pull off what WAS a pretty fun stunt that reminds me a lot of Heinlein's much better chicanery and revolution stuff.

What WAS pretty damn good was these good ole boys whipping up a technological masterpiece that appears like magic and coming to the conclusion that the only way to strike a blow on the Pan-Asians occupying America was to use a hokey religious guise that all the locals could see through to gather enough men to strike a magic-as-technology blow against the invaders.

Which they do. In a very silly, but ultimately fun way.

Would I recommend this as good Heinlein? Hell no. But do I think it deserves a ton of hate? No. Not at all. I really appreciated how he used Hobos for an information network and thumbed his nose at religion in general, how he USED it for good ends without taking any of it seriously. And if you think about it, that's pretty awesome in 1949. There has always been a rather keen abuse of religion, and some periods were worse than others. So I give credit where credit is due. Ahead of his time in one way, and woefully behind in another. Flawed but still worthwhile.

View all my reviews

Monday, October 23, 2023

Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson, #7)Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I can't say I didn't have a good time with this particular installment. It had a somewhat hapless, 'shit always keeps happening to me' vibe, but it got more interesting when the pack got captured and Mercy's magic kept cropping up in cool ways.

It was nicely grounded all the way up to when the vamp politics reared its ugly head, and then the entire book felt like a snippet from an entirely different book. Like, it should have had all its own plot buildup, action, reversals, etc, quite aside from anything the pack was involved with.

But here? It felt like a bait and switch for all the end vamp stuff WAS cool.

All said? I enjoyed it, but my head is spinning in a not-so-good way. I've got a little cognitive dissonance going on. Oh, well.

View all my reviews

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Waybound (Cradle, #12)Waybound by Will Wight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this for the sheer fun of it. All 12 books of this LitRPG have been anywhere between wildly fun and solidly action/progression based, as could always be predictable for any in this genre, but some are better than others.

This particular — last — volume in this story arc wound up being close to my favorite in the bunch.

I recommend reading the entire series in one long blast, however, because I had to scratch my had a little in the beginning to figure out where we left off, but once I caught up it was great. Mad Gods, Monarchs, Dreadgods, titans… it’s super high level stuff and there was no way I didn’t get a huge kick out of all of it.

I’m quite satisfied.

View all my reviews

Saturday, October 21, 2023

The Violent CenturyThe Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As I was going through my Lavie Tidhar kick, I thought I'd save this particular book for when I absolutely needed it. Of course, I found the right time in October, especially with that title.

I did rather expect a historical alternate history with actual superheroes living as normal human beings, being manipulated by governments and war and espionage, but this was dark even for expecting that.

I loved how we got these Watchmen-like old men and women living to the modern times, how they were fresh in the 1930s, WWII, cold-war era, and "retirement", and how all the chickens came home to roost. It was fascinating, very thriller, and it was absolutely amazing to see how so many atrocities played out with this particular twist adding even more ugly spice to the tale.

By now, I've read a good number of superhero-type alternate histories, but this one was extremely solid through and through -- and more so than most. So many dark secrets all came tumbling out. I recommend this for anyone who loves Watchmen and The Boys.

View all my reviews

Friday, October 20, 2023

Third EyeThird Eye by Felicia Day
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Light-hearted chosen one fantasy that has the REAL loser vibe, just trying to get by, sorry for being a hassle, fantasy goodness.

It's a real fairy tale written by Felicia Day. All the old chestnut goodness with all the modern meta understanding twist. And better than that: this is narrated by Felicia, herself, Neil Gaiman, Wil Wheaton, and even David Tennant. Is it tongue-in-cheek? Absolutely. Is it charming and root-for-the-underdog? Definitely.

Worth every second. I love this meta, charming fantasy stuff. Gotta love the losers.

View all my reviews

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Lair (Rats, #2)Lair by James Herbert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's okay. I mean, it has the old-school horror that's 3 parts sex and 1 part gory rat-gnawing death, so it's not mind-blowing. Indeed, it's kinda trashy.

Good thing I didn't expect anything other than this, right?

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

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

These are consistent books, funny and satirical, and this one didn't disappoint. The sights were put upon a certain American Revolution this time and our interesting cherubim really got in the mix. Of course, there was also the generous help of Satan and Tiamat and a bunch of hapless modern and revolutionary chaps thrown in, but that's how the revolt goes!

Solid. Funny.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

MiseryMisery by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's been way too many years since I read this one. Hell, in a way, this was the novel that made me want to be a writer. After all, with all the miseries in this world, sometimes all you've got is yourself and all that you can create with your own two hands.

Never mind feet. They're not all that necessary to write with.

As for how this book really made me feel, I have to say it is one of the most horrific not because it's supernatural (it isn't) but because the pacing and the growing insanity of falling under nurse Ratched's -- sorry, Anne's -- persuasive spell really shows how someone CAN get broken.

So, all you would-be torturers out there, take careful note. This is a manual.

And with that, I'll just say that we can all be a number one fan, too.

View all my reviews

Monday, October 16, 2023

CujoCujo by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So solid. Honestly, as a straight thriller with no supernatural aspects, it showcases King's grasp of timing and characterizations. Beat by beat, so good.

Now, we all know Cujo is a bad dog, or if you're a King fan, he's a good, good boy, but what really got me on this late re-read (I was just a kid the first time) was the references to other well-loved characters in other early King works.

This shouldn't be a surprise to the fans, of course, but sometimes they hit harder. One in particular, for me, is Sheriff Bannerman. A pretty big role here, The Body, and, of course, The Dead Zone. He was even mentioned several times in Tommyknockers, but just mentioning him isn't quite enough to do him justice.

The poor man. So few good men.

Great book, otherwise! And expect tragedy. Expect lots of tragedy.

View all my reviews

Sunday, October 15, 2023

The Butcher's Masquerade (Dungeon Crawler Carl, #5)The Butcher's Masquerade by Matt Dinniman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'll be honest. This particular LitRPG is getting better as time goes by. Every time I get a better feel for the greater asshole universe, I just want to see it all go boom. Thanks, Carl, for putting things into perspective. Although, perhaps, I ought to give all credit to the most charismatic of the fighting party, that being Doughnut, the former child actor star, aka display cat, animal tamer and penny-pincher supreme.

Or maybe I should just thank the bombs. The many, huge, bombs.

Yeah, I think I'll go with the last one.

I think the story is getting better, honestly. The funny plot items are fine and all, but the real meat is really pushing me along. I can't wait to see what happens to all these assholes running this game. It better be GOOD.

View all my reviews

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Light Bringer (Red Rising Saga, #6)Light Bringer by Pierce Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This series has become something of a staple for all space opera -- to me. Huge ships, ground battles across the Solar System, and of course near-godly martial might with power armor and razors in single combat. Of course, with the Roman themes, the immense stratification of societies, the honor, the brotherhoods, make it beautiful in a different way.

And then, there's the long-drawn hate and endless 12 years of war that has taken a huge toll on everyone. The Golds no less than any of the other colors, societies.

I can think of no other SF or MilSF that comes as close to the epic feel of the Iliad than this. Yeah, it's that good.

I'm pretty shocked. And reading this after, say, Dark Age? So delicious. Worth the wait.

View all my reviews

Friday, October 13, 2023

The Salt Grows HeavyThe Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandra Khaw
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dark and heavy story just brimming over with body horror. But what makes it special? Plague doctors, children, and bloodthirsty mermaids.

Need anyone ask for any more?

It's a great, dark atmospheric horror story and I'm super glad I got to read it for Spooktober. :)

View all my reviews
No Country for Old MenNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally getting around to this one, and while it rides that easy Western line, circa 1980 small town ethos, it is merely one of those books that I appreciate without loving.

Here's what I DO appreciate: it's a fine adventure of simplicity and survival, drug cartel meet gone wrong and opportunism butting heads with a hired psychopath... meets philosophy as entertainment.

There's some depth to this, regardless of the simplicity, but that's pretty much the best part of it. It's slow, carefully paced, with surprising switches of action-order, and I know, from its general staying power, it's sticking to a lot of people.

But for me? I think it's a fine home-cooked meal wrapped in a bloody modern western. Even when there's blood and death, it's quiet and slow. Perhaps that's all kinds of wonderful.

It's just a shame, though, that it just feels above average to me.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday MachineThe Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

While definitely not laugh-out-loud like the great movie, this original non-fiction about the housing bond bust of '08 certainly makes up for it with lots of extra detail and explanation.

I'll just put this out there: nobody needs extra drama or characterization when the core, unbelievable immensity of assholery in the Stocks and Bonds market is enough to get millions of people boiling with rage.

That is, if they understand what happened, why it happened, and why it was never resolved. Why it's STILL an ongoing problem that just gets bigger and bigger with every passing year. Why it is very likely the very reason why housing prices have done nothing but rise and lock several generations out of ever owning a home now.

Is it a complicated issue? Not really. It's just clothed in stupid, obscuring language. Should it have landed a ton of people behind bars instead of getting golden parachutes? Absolutely. Should the market have corrected itself when it was merely bad instead of catastrophic? Absolutely.

And yet, this tale of the few shorters betting against the fraudulent housing market only got rich. In a sane society, the whole house of cards should have collapsed and been replaced with real regulations and watchdogs. Instead, we collectively just kicked the can.

Is this related to our current massive inflation cycle?


Anyway, it's a FANTASTIC book.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

The Expert System’s Champion (Expert System, #2)The Expert System’s Champion by Adrian Tchaikovsky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't know what it is about the Expert System novellas, but I love the wild exoplanet worldbuilding while finding myself not really caring about the MC. In long exile, making a living as an outcast among outcasts, I think I wanted to like the core story more than I did.

That's not to say it didn't have its charm, however. The alien species we're dealing with (no spoilers) reminds me of a certain slow-moving immortal legend that might be out to kill you. And if you get that reference, then enjoy your new Tchaikovsky animal!

View all my reviews

Monday, October 9, 2023

The Gate of the Feral Gods (Dungeon Crawler Carl, #4)The Gate of the Feral Gods by Matt Dinniman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

While I really enjoyed the elemental (air, water) locations in this lower level dungeon, I think I liked the whole subversive/anarchist/revolutionary bent against these asshole destroyers of whole worlds (ours included) the most.

I mean, yes, Doughnut the cat is awesome and still fantastic at getting the best bargain for explosives, but I think this plot is even better than dominating the whole floor or just staying alive.

I mean, this LitRPG is all about the ratings and the viewing pleasure of the rich across the galaxy. Who cares about the idiot humans who are forced to play for them, right?

Yeah. I'm all for Carl's hidden quest.

View all my reviews

Sunday, October 8, 2023

The TommyknockersThe Tommyknockers by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Out of all the SK novels out there, this is the one I have the hardest time reviewing.

Why? Because I KNOW why the general readership would poo-poo this novel and yet, its wildness, oddities, plain batshit craziness is exactly WHY I love this novel.

The only one that goes this far into nuttyland is the DT series. Don't believe me? Get to the Coke machine or the little red wagon. Better yet, get to the brothers. Or the automatic typing machine. Or better yet, go take a flying **** through a rolling doughnut. :)

This is a horror, absolutely. But it's also, absolutely, an science fiction novel. And if you think old B-movie SF horrors were fun in the old days, you'll truly appreciate it when they become a hardcore SK novel giving great nods to SF great, Poul Anderson.

Tommyknockers is a wild, wild ride of the imagination. Not for the faint of heart. Maybe back when this came out, it was too spicy for general readers. But now? I think it's just right. And here's the best part: so much of it presages later SF like Matrix (in a few really excellent, green, battery ways) and a bit of clever bio-hacking.

In comparison to all the other great SK novels, it may not be up there in terms of his very best, but it DOES shine brighter in one area: sheer imagination. For this, I applaud.

View all my reviews

Friday, October 6, 2023

Eater-of-Bone and Other Novellas (Great Ship #2.5)Eater-of-Bone and Other Novellas by Robert Reed
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eater-of-Bone was a pretty great novella -- especially for the ideas. For anyone who's read Asher's Splatterjay novels, Reed's story will come as a delicious exploration of savagery in his Great Ship universe.

It's wild, wild, wild. Functional immortality and never-ending tooth-and-nail existence. I wish there was more SF like this.

View all my reviews

Thursday, October 5, 2023

The Well of Stars (Great Ship, #2)The Well of Stars by Robert Reed
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In one way, this is a pretty fascinating set piece of espionage on a grand scale between an amorphous intelligence the size of a nebula and the wandering Great Ship, itself an enormous spaceship carrying many, many now-immortal species between galaxies, the long route.

While I appreciate the idea, I found myself wandering and wishing we had more of the internal intrigues of the Great Ship and less of the almost aimless machinations outside of it.

I feel like it could have been a lot better, sharper, in short format. It could also be that I wasn't all that invested in these particular characters.

Anyway, I'm not unhappy to have read it. The ideas and worldbuilding, if not the execution of it, were pretty great.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Holly (Holly Gibney, #3)Holly by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the new King novel. I have to admit Holly's adventures as a private investigator have all be thoroughly enjoyable. As a regular investigation noir, it has great quirks and a firm grounding in our modern world. Case in point: 2020-21, and all the Covid, riots, and upheavals it includes.

Did I have any issues with the novel?


It has all the Stephen King feel, all the quirks, the great characters, and the solid plots I keep coming back for. No supernatural stuff this time, but King was always great in either direction.

So? Anyone hungry for a thriller? Come on, let's eat! I promise, it's very, very nutritious.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Marrow (Great Ship, #1)Marrow by Robert Reed
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All right then, this SF is WELL off the beaten track and for the ideas alone, I want to jump up and down.


We've got a fantastically big BDO (Big Dumb Object) here. Fashioned out of the materials of a gas giant, this ship that was probably built 5 billion years ago is big enough to conveniently lose a whole planet in its deepest inner-workings. That's Marrow. The Captains, humans who've conquered mortality, explored, conquered, and eventually opened up the Great Ship to countless alien species across so much time and space, stumble upon Marrow and look like a bunch of fools, getting lost there for thousands of years, get children, eventually have to get over THAT, and find their way back to the comfortable, normal, VAST ship again.

Wild, right? We're dealing with a story that lasts many thousands of years, and it doesn't even end there. There's other mysteries, great aliens, mischievous AI, a bit of deep-time mysticism, and other idiocy.

I'm reminded fondly of Bank's Culture ships, Neal Asher's Shipminds, Niven's Ringworld, Baxter's BIG BIGNESS, but all written in Reed's inimitable style.

Fortunately, I love stories written like vignettes and the sense of living tons of history is pretty spectacular. For sheer imagination, I would love to recommend this book to any SF fan. It is definitely a book of big ideas if not one of lyrical style. The plots are fascinating, however, and nicely grounded for all that they keep landing us in weird situations.

*rubs hands* I'm looking forward to a lot more.

View all my reviews

Monday, October 2, 2023

The Dead Take the A Train (Carrion City, #1)The Dead Take the A Train by Cassandra Khaw
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This new UF is a very nice surprise. We've got seedy corporate underbelly with cutthroat cyberpunkish-vibes with a total lawful evil Old Ones Cthulhu ethos and a bunch of street folk just trying to survive the Greater Evil, brain parasites, and corporate NDAs.

It's smart and delightfully horrific.

It's like you take all the Wolfram and Hart aspects of Angel, run with it as it is all of New York City, and you don't have any mythical savior at your back. It's all gritty.

And in the meantime, we just try to find a little sweet love against all the odds. HEA? Maybe. But there's also an elder god whose babies want to eat the world, so you've gotta juggle these things, ya know?

Khaw and Kadrey. These two authors are some of my gritty favorites anyway. Together, they whip up something FUN. Happy Spooktober! We're off to a great new start!

View all my reviews