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An Awesome Bundle of SciFi Books

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An Awesome Bundle of SciFi Books

Humble Bundle is doing an offer right now that I immediately had to purchase: Women of Science Fiction and Fantasy book bundle. At the lowest price point you get books like Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler and Kate Elliot’s Jaran. And since this is the Humble Bundle, you can pay as little as $1, and get some great books.

If you pay slightly more you’ll get Robin McKinley, more Octavia Butler, Elizabeth Hand, Jo Clayton, and others. And if you pay $15 or more you get even more books. This is a great deal for anyone who likes Science Fiction. I haven’t read every book in this bundle, but the ones I have are excellent. When I found out about this bundle I immediately went and paid for the top tier, as these are books I know I would want to read or re-read as the case may be.

Banished of Muirwood Book Review

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When I first started reading this book I was pleased to see that it wasn’t just another cookie cutter high fantasy novel. The characters are interesting and the world is different enough from our world or other fantasy worlds to be engaging, but not so much that I was confused. It starts out like a coming of age story, with the main character, Maia, traveling with a hired killer called a kishion. She is either on the run or in hiding—it’s not clear which and has to make her way across some inhospitable lands to save herself and her kingdom.

But then confusingly, the timing would change and suddenly we’d be back seeing what her life was like as a young child and then growing up. After two or three abrupt shifts like that it becomes clear that she is reliving her past when she falls asleep. Those transitions are very rough, and I almost didn’t make it through the book because I didn’t understand what was going on. That type of writing device can be interesting, but it tends to jerk the reader out of the story. And I didn’t really like that.

World War 97 Part 1

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Update: Book Discontinued Prior to February 25, 2017

I just discovered that this book is no longer available for sale on Amazon, and I cannot find it anywhere. But I have left the review intact in case Mr. Normoyle reconsiders.

###Review of World War 97 Part 1

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and I was not disappointed. In fact, if there was any disappointment at all, it was that it’s a serial and I had to wait to read Part 2. The story starts out quickly with a character who is immediately engaging and interesting. It’s a fun surprise to learn that his brother is the president of the United States. So often books star the obvious people, and I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be a sibling of someone famous. Not that this book really answers that question…

Mystery, SciFi, Alternate History—It’s All Here

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Different World: A Gina Stone MysteryThis story is hard to describe. It’s an alternate history story, but it’s set in modern day Seattle. It’s a modern crime investigation, but the deaths are being discovered in the 1800s. It’s science fiction, but it’s also a murder mystery.

I started reading this book and immediately got hooked. The main character, Gina Stone, is engaging and interesting. She presents a believable portrait of a beleaguered police officer who has decided to take a less stressful job in a small town. It’s just that her small town is New Essex and it’s across a portal in a world where the American revolution never happened.

Friends Change—More Great Space Opera

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A few years ago I got to read and review the book Gift of Change by D. T. Sanders (Buy on Amazon). So when the sequel came out, I was intrigued.

From the very first page, Friends Change did not disappoint. It is just as fast-paced and fun as the first book, but with a lot more characterization.

Jason and Fallon Change A Lot

The change in the title of this story is not a misnomer. Jason and Fallon go through momentous changes in this book and come out at the end almost inhumanly different. Their lives are very scary and I would not want to live them, but reading about them sure is a lot of fun!

Finished my Christmas Present—Peacemaker

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Peacemaker
is the fifteenth book in the Foreigner series. And the protagonists for this book are Bren Cameron and Cajeiri the heir. It starts almost immediately where Protector leaves off, with a bit extra at the beginning and end.

I read this book as a Kindle ebook, so I realize that a lot of the issues I had were because of poor formatting in that version, but it still made it hard to finish completely.

But let me start at the beginning. The first 12% of the book (according to my Kindle) was exposition explaining how the characters got to the point we were at in the book. I realize that after 14 novels in a series, this type of thing is needed for people who haven’t been reading it since book one, like I have. But let me tell you, exposition gets very boring after a while. I struggled with completing that first section, and considered skimming until there was some action several times. But I did wade through it. If you’re going to skip, I recommend moving to when the train they are on gets to the Bujavid. It’s pretty boring up until that point.

The next portion of the book was the actual story. It jumped between Bren and Cajieri and was basically a build up to Cajieiri’s fortunate ninth birthday. There were three human children from the space station visiting Cajieiri and Jase-aiji was there from the station as well. Meanwhile Bren and his bodyguards are enlisted to clean up the assassins Guild.

If you’re wondering why the description is so sparse, it’s because the book was pretty sparse. There was very little from Jago, and even Bren didn’t have much action. Banichi had been injured in Protector and he was still injured in this book, and so that was repeated many times. Even the hijinks of the kids were pretty tame, as they were all on good behavior. The worst thing to happen was Cajieiri forgetting his birthday speech, and so making one up on the spot. Bren was hit in the head in the Guild operation, but other than being light headed, he was okay too.

The only other excitement was Cajieiri’s mother. But I won’t say what in case you want to read the book.

At the end of the book is another 8% of exposition in the form of a report from Geiji-ji and commented on by Bren. This report is basically a summary of the events leading up to book one in the series and then covering the actions that happened during the series. I honestly don’t know everything it covered, as I got bored again and stopped reading.

However, if you’re not already interested in Bren and Cajieiri, I would give this book a pass. I would have liked it more if there were either more action or less exposition, or best, both!

Existence is hard… Existence by David Brin, that is

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I am really enjoying Existence by David Brin but it is hard to read. Perhaps it’s because I’m reading it late at night, or perhaps it’s just me, but I find I’m only able to read about two pages a day. Which, since the book is 560 pages long, means I’ll probably be still reading it sometime in 2017. As someone who typically reads 2–3 books or more a week, this means that the book is a slog.

But I’m loving it! Don’t get me wrong, this book is really interesting and fun, it’s just hard and slow to read.

My biggest frustration right now is that there are so many POV characters that I get frustrated when the scene switches to someone else — until, that is, I get into their POV again and then I’m frustrated when we switch back to the first character.

There are several engaging characters:

  • there’s Hacker, the rich celeb who spends his time doing crazy and stupid things, but in his latest endeavor ends up finding what might be his life’s work.
  • there’s Hacker’s mom, who is just as wealthy, and finds herself at odds with the rest of her class when she doesn’t really want to become part of a plan to turn Earth feudal again (with her class on top)
  • there’s the Chinese couple who are “shoresteading” in an abandoned and mostly underwater mansion. His wife and son were bit characters for the first few scenes, but now she has taken on a starring role herself
  • there’s the astronaut who discovered a pod apparently sent from aliens
  • there’s the reporter who is in a horrible accident, but still gets the story with the help of the net
  • there are the dolphins who have been uplifted and then left to fend for themselves when the humans who started the project get scared off
  • there are the ’auties’ and ’aspies’ who interject with confusing sections that are almost unintelligible except that they make sense when you let your brain ruminate
  • there are the AIs which don’t seem (so far) to have separate chapters devoted to them, but they do seem to play a significant role in the story
  • and of course there are the aliens, which are, well, alien (or maybe they’re a hoax…)

There may be more but I forget now.

I love the reporter scenes where she uses crowdsourcing and other internet features to get her story out. It’s a fascinating way of looking at the net. And I love the scenes written from the perspective of the autistics who are helped by AIs to interact with the world. They clearly see themselves as superior to their less intellectual cousins, homo sapiens. They are very spooky, in a confusing way.

But all these different POVs and characters and styles makes the book very dense. I suspect I’m going to have to stop mid-stream just to read something light like Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong, just to get my groove back. I know that book won’t take long to read, and it should be fun too.

I like reading Existence, but sometimes I like finishing books too.

When not to read

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“A book’s alright when the weather’s foul and there’s nothing else to do, but why sit and read when the wind is calling your name?”

— Mercedes Lackey, By the Sword

To read, reading, read…

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I love to read, I always have. But as I get older I find myself more and more willing to stop reading mid-stream. Ironically, eBooks have made this even more likely, as I stop reading something, thinking “I’ll come back to this…” all the while knowing that, well, I won’t.

Devil’s Punch (2012)
by Ann Aguirre

Thus we come to today. I finished Devil’s Punch by Ann Aguirre. This was a good book. It’s the third I’ve read about Corine Solomon and I’m enjoying the ride.

Corine is a woman who can sense the history, especially strong emotional history, of items when she touches them. In recent books she has undergone some changes to become more of a witch, but as is the course of many urban fantasies, she has to make choices that on the face of them are evil and so has been branded a black witch by most other practitioners.

When her best friend is stolen by demons and taken to hell (Sheol), Corine puts her life and soul on the line to go save her. That is some friend! Of course, in the course of getting to hell and saving herself and her friends, she has to make more gray choices.

There were bits in the middle that were confusing, especially as Corine is slowly being subsumed by a demon queen who has been a parasite on the Solomon line for hundreds of years. But right before the point where I would get so confused about who was in control of Corine’s body, it would be made clear again.

The action was fast paced and fun, and the story didn’t stick to standard tropes in fantasy, so I was surprised at how she ended it. The story starts in Mexico, moves to Sheol, and ends up in London. And Corine saves her friend, but with a large cost to herself and her soul.

After the break are two more reviews of a book I’m reading and another that I am starting to read.