Monday, December 5, 2016

Fluency (Confluence, #1)Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I may be taking a bit of a different view on just who is the main character of this tale.

I'm sure most people will latch on to the leading female for her guts or supposedly for her language abilities which get nullified by the oncoming story. At least I agree that one complaint is valid against this tale: I expected a first contact story with an actual deduction of language and communication. Isn't it right in the title?

Alas, no. We get a high-tech pill solution, but I got over that really quickly because the tale was taking me some very interesting places.

Dreams, old civilizations, a wealth of technology at your fingertips, space-travel... even becoming a visceral part of a spaceship. That stuff is awesome, and I dug it, man. :)

So other than her and her slow-burn romantic interest who she saves on occasion, then just WHO IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?

It's the Alien Navigator. :) He's got a real personality on him. He's behind everything. Utterly everything. I can't help but be fascinated and impressed at the nature and scope of his lies and how willing he is to DO WHATEVER IS NECESSARY to achieve his goals. :) He really did have to get very creative, and I think I feel closest to him out of all the characters. :) He's the real star of the show. :)

Maybe it's just me! :) But I really enjoyed the hell out of my squiddy friend.

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SunshineSunshine by Robin McKinley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a very welcome surprise coming out of my dire expectations. :)

I mean, a vampire romance. Seriously? Another?

Well stop scratching your head and stop moving on to another title. This happens to be one of the *good* ones. There are lots of elements that you've seen before, I'm sure, but it's all in how its written. McKinley has been writing all kinds of fantasy for over thirty years. She knows how to accomplish a lot in relatively no time at all.

Gorgeous world-building and a populace that will soon be overrun by vampires. Part-demons and sorcerers waging wars against them. The elemental mastery of the magic is amazing. Sunshine? This isn't just a nickname. :) When these little bits and pieces started unfolding out of the normal bakery life and a nasty kidnapping, I kept thinking to myself: well, isn't this just another setup for a romance?

Yes. BUT. McKinley never stints on complicated and interesting plots that kept me going all the way through. It kind of stunned me just how deep and complex this novel became out of my initial observation. And it's not just the characters, either. The kinds of races, the kinds of magic, the twists and the turns, all of them were added like spice to the novel and it kind of blew me away.

I've read a lot of mediocre vamp novels. I've read a few excellent ones. This one fooled me on it's premise and it's opening. It turned into an excellent one. :)

So what about shelves that call it YA? Why didn't I also do the same? Because she's apparently a quarter of a century old. Long out of HS and working happily in a bakery. That *might* be called a tiny tiny sliver of the new-adult market, but there's a LOT of dark stuff going on here with complicated emotions and reactions. It's definitely not simple and its often beautifully adult. :)

I completely recommend for fans of better vampire novels. (Even ones that feature romance!)

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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Harry Potter Re-Read with Buddies!

I think everyone knows the story. And pretty much everyone enjoys the kids, the adults, and the darkness of the tale.

I came late to enjoying it, turned off by the childish bookcover and my love of all things adult and nuanced, but I did come around to it. What really surprised me was the quality of the writing and the effortless nuance displayed AS IF it wasn't even a children's book. It didn't talk down or give platitudes. It just threw the kids in danger. (Or Dumbledore did. Again.) And let the world sort itself or not. Could we be seeing a version of survival of the fittest?

Okay, Harry. Here's your invisibility cloak. Go get into as much trouble as you can and I'll be sure to lead enough hints to get you into the worst of messes and lead you right to the person that killed your parents and who was barely unable to do the same to you. Have Fun!

Wait a second. This is a kid's book, right? It does happen to have a lot of the trappings. But what kind of sentiment is this? Let's throw the kids in the worst of dangers, shall we? Just turn a slightly blind eye. Put incompetents in charge of extremely powerful magical items and secrets. Hell, why not give eleven-year-olds the cruciatas curse? Sheesh. This school should get put under scrutiny by M.O.M.

And yet none of that mars my enjoyment. :) I like dark stuff. The fact that it has a somewhat happy ending despite knowing you know who is still out there is just icing on the cake.

Yeah. I'm a fanboy. I may not be a crazy potterhead, but I'll be honest. I've watched the movies like a gazillion times. :) There's just a spark of greatness, you know?

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Titus Alone (Gormenghast, #3)Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I waffled a little bit between three and four stars, but in the end Peake's use of language won over the rather odd plot departure in this third book.

I didn't mind that Titus was a stranger in a strange land or that he has apparently skipped far into the future where he's among moderns with airplanes or even stranger "seeing" devices or oddly strange ways of transportation upon one's side. All of that appeared to be a hop into the future beyond when this was written, too, so I'm going to call this SF as well as Fantasy. He seemed to be describing robots and AI! lol

I also liked the fact that Titus was nothing without his rituals or his history or his people. In giving up everything in the last book, he'd given up his own identity.

All good so far!

What kind of annoyed me was pretty much the continuity between the first two books and this one.

There was hardly any. This could have been a standalone quite easily, turning the modern world into a falling down the rabbit hole kind of fantasy for someone like Titus. Maybe he'd get back up and find a sense of himself beyond his place, and maybe not.

Unfortunately, I don't think he even go that much. The conclusion is quite dire. We are our past.

Do I really like this? No. Not particularly. Will I get over it because the rest of the text is pretty spectacular, minus some really atrocious sex scenes? Yeah, I probably will. :)

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Kill ProcessKill Process by William Hertling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been overwhelmed with a great number of recent novels that deal directly with hacking lately, and what do you know? It's a blast!

Not only is it stuffed to the gills with 0-Day exploitz and customized onion-router networks now that Tor has been hacked, but we've also got a masters-view of the process from within the tale. It's great. But this is hardly all!

The character twists before we even begin the story are worthy of a novel all on its own.

I mean, how many accolades can you give a woman who Dexters the victimizers of spouse-abuse, has been doing it for years, and has done it only through hacking? In my opinion, there's not enough accolades out there! Sure, sure, it's hacking and sometimes killing, but for the most part she merely puts them out of the way. But 50 victims! And she never got caught! W0w!

And then here's how she killed her own husband and lost her arm in the process, of course, but all of this leads up to the main course-correction of her life.

How to stop the abusive behavior of Tomo! (Read googly, FacePalm, Twitpocalypse, or any other the other social media sites.) They all save your data. Everything. They always have. If you start paying for a package that keeps you private from their targeted ads, then that's all you're paying for. The right to pretend that you're not being tracked.

Her dream is to have a nearly-open-source alternative with complete and utter control over customization in the hands of each user. Have it across a total distributed network, and have competing companies (and not just your trust in a single company) dictate how safe everything you've ever done online is.

Beautiful. Abusive partners, indeed! Is your loved one checking all your email and snooping on your physical location? Are they isolating you and blocking access from all of your friends? Well maybe some serial murderer out there is going to help you out! :)

It's definitely no where near as corny as I make it. It's a great techno-triller and believable every step of the way. The depth of characterization is truly delightful.

I totally recommend this right up with The Sudden Appearance of Hope and The Circle. The pieces they all have in common are pretty amazing. :)

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Friday, December 2, 2016

The DispatcherThe Dispatcher by John Scalzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This one's a bit hard to classify because it's fully a mystery, a SF adventure, and a Fantasy, rolled in one. :)

Enter in a major universe-changing condition: 999 out of 1000 murdered people come back. They arrive naked in their homes after the moment of their death. There is always that one that doesn't, though.

Enter in the shady and the not-so-shady people who take advantage of this little universal loophole. Dangerous operations in hospitals can be reset for a couple of hours. Horrible accidents on the street can be erased, assuming that the person gets murdered in time. And bloodsports, of course.

There's always consequences, of course, but in this novella, so many of the little loopholes are explored nicely and there's a great little mystery-twist to tie it all together.

All told, I thought this was rather a little gem. :)

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Company TownCompany Town by Madeline Ashby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reading this is like going through my own personal evolution, one story stage at a time. :)

I had to throw out practically all of my expectations at different stages of the novel. Hell, I even thought this was going to be a YA-ish SF, but no, it's a lot more than meets the eye.

It starts out as a biology-twist to a cyberpunk premise, where the biology-only character, Hwa, is an anomaly to all the tech around her. :) Turn her into a bodyguard, have her look into strange murders, and then, above all, keep adding new SF concepts... and the tale fleshes out into something almost unique. It's definitely quite beautiful and strange.

It touches upon beauty and the theme of always putting in extra effort, which I really enjoyed, and the twists are truly fun. :)

Family dynasties, indeed. :)

I'm pretty sure I'm going to keep my eye open for now on for more of this author's work. :)

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