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My current book review policy is behind the LJ cut. Click to read it.Collapse )


(Art by hamburger.)
The Gold Farmer - Treasure Forest by Liam Arato
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Based on the story idea alone, I would have happily finished this book and given it a top rating. Set in the near future, most jobs were gone because everything was automated. MMORPGs were the most popular form of entertainment. Since rich people could pour lots of real money into the games (to buy game items for their characters), "gold farming" (making game money to sell for RL money) was the new most common job.

The story followed a successful gold farmer as he somehow got pulled from one VR game into a different one and trapped there. What a fun, perfect idea for a book! What a great match for me!

Unfortunately the writing was so subpar, the book was nearly unreadable to me. Tense changes within a paragraph, poor/repetitive word choice, etc. Just a poorly written self-published book.

Abandoned at 12% mark.

Paint Over the Stars (This Filtered Sky Book 1) by Letitia Glade
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



First off, the Amazon page for this book credits the author and "Richard Timmerman (Photographer)". For the photograph used on the cover. Odd...

I went into this book completely blind, and at first that worked out. Story opened with a teenage boy and his mother at home, when some kind of an attack happened. Part of their home was destroyed. Other homes around them were destroyed, vanished, or changed (parts missing but the rest in place, like the second floor of a three floor home gone, but the top floor still in place).

Right away I started thinking alien attack, and I was sort of right. The mother and son raced to reach his scientist father, who had apparently working on researching their attackers for ages. The mother got killed, and the story went downhill from there. The teenage boy, who was already bratty to the point of not being pleasant to read about, got much much worse. (Understandable, but that doesn't change the fact that I didn't want to spend time with the character.)

Then we learned what the attackers were: "Quads," so called because they were from the fourth dimension...

The attackers didn't interest me, I very much disliked the main character, so I gave up at the 42% point.

Abandoned book tally towards book count: 38 + 12 + 42 = 92%

Currently reading: Lord of the Wolves. At first I thought I'd give up on it (the wolves call the alpha pair Lord/Sire and Lady, and they're "married"), but I might stick it out.

2017 books: Iron Edge, Dominion Over All

Iron Edge by P.S. Power
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



First off, "P.S. Power" is about the most unsubtle pseudonym ever.

The idea behind this story was quite interesting. A man is pulled back and forth between our world and a fantasy world. In our world he's an Iraq War vet, in the other world, he's in training to become the bestest fighter ever.

I really didn't like the tone of the book (felt very pro war/pro military/macho... P.S. Power.). The writing was also really quite poor. Then I read the author's About Me section on Goodreads and that explained it: He writes a book or two PER MONTH.

Abandoned at 10% in.

Dominion Over All by W. Bradford Swift
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Dominion Over All had quite a nice idea, too. A boy meets a magical talking cat and has to go on a quest for her. From Amazon's summary, the quest: "He must represent the Animal Kingdom before the United Nations' Conference on Global Warming."

Unfortunately the writing was very, very simplistic. Even for a story about a magical cat, it wasn't very believable. I checked others' reviews, and they said the same. I gave up on it at the 16% point.

---

Usually in my book count for the year I give myself one book credit for all my abandoned books. However, as I had 74 abandoned books last year, I think I'm selling myself short. Maybe I should keep a running count on percent finished on abandoned books and add it to the count that way... (I'd like to track page count instead, but the vast majority of my ebooks don't offer a real page count.)

So let's try that! Abandoned books so far: Count to a Trillion (12%), Iron Edge (10%), and Dominion Over All (16%) gives me a total of 38% so far.

I'm a little skittish about crossposting my less than positive reviews to Goodreads, since it seems authors are more active there... I've been just rating and not reviewing most of the ones I don't like.

Two religious things, one post!

NPR has been hitting it out of the park for me lately. So many interesting things were talked about this morning!

First was a story about an English cathedral with a rather unique welcoming message on their door:



You can listen to the full story here: Link.

The second might be news only to me, as he's been on Conan now. Disturbed is a hard rock band, but the lead singer had been raised as a Hazzan (a Jewish person "trained in the vocal arts who helps lead the congregation in songful prayer"). He did a cover of The Sound of Silence, which is beautiful. He makes it sound like a more traditional religious song, his voice is so rich and wonderful:

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2017 book: Count to a Trillion

Count to a Trillion by John C. Wright
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



I try not to look at others' reviews until I'm done with a book -- I like forming my own opinions based only on what I read. The added bonus to that is that seeing what others thought is a fun reward for being finished with the story.

In the case of Count to a Trillion, it was such a relief to see others really disliked this book as well. In my short time on Goodreads, I've seen very few books with one star ratings. This book has many of them.

At first the story itself seemed interesting. Set in the distant future, the Earth was a mess. Some sort of plague killed off a whole bunch of people. The main character, a child, was quite interesting -- more intelligent than anyone around him, very gifted. But quickly the story became seriously muddied. We went backwards and forward in time, the dialogue was really 'off' to my ear, and this whole new ruined Earth really wasn't explained all that much (Why were lawyers gunslingers?).

I gave it two nights of reading, got to the 12% mark, before giving up.

Currently reading: Iron Edge, about a man who is being sent back and forth between two worlds without control or awareness when it will happen.

2017 book: Blood and Chocolate

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Sometimes rereading a book you loved works out, sometimes it doesn't.

I rarely reread books -- I have too many new books waiting to be read. And, in the case of Blood and Chocolate, this is my third time reading it.

The first time I read it, I loved it endlessly. However, a friend had read it based on my rec, and he hated it. Years later, I reread it to see if maybe he had been right. I still loved it. This third time reading it, it worked less well for me. I wouldn't at all call it bad, it's just the style of it no longer matched my tastes.

The story is about a teenage girl in modern times. A werewolf. Her family/pack gets driven out of their previous home, and they have to try to fit in to a new place.

She's beautiful to the point of "all men want her", thought that seems a werewolf trait from as far as I could tell by the story. The book follows her falling in love with a "meat bag" boy -- a non-werewolf, thus "not a person" to werewolf thinking.

Though it was a fast read, I stopped at the 20% point. To me, the book was a tad too heavy on romance and high school life, and not heavy enough on werewolves.

Currently reading: Count to a Trillion. I'm only a couple pages in, but loving it. The main character's voice has hooked me so hard!
Before my review, a couple Goodread things: Ugh. Only after I copied in 160 reviews did I notice their whole star system is wrong. WHY oh WHY do places weigh things towards the more positive? They have five stars, but the meanings of them are: Did not like, okay, liked, really liked, amazing. Out of five, there's only one negative! And it's as un-negative as they could make it ("did not like" instead of "disliked"). Why is it not evenly balanced on either side of the 'okay'? Not to toot my own horn, but like the system I use: Hated, disliked, okay, liked, loved. UGH.

Anyway, I'm Thistle there (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2748685-thistle) if you want to friend me.

It looks like I'm not going to get my earliest reviews copied over there. It was only mid-2013 that I started writing better ones, with ratings and not just one paragraph about the book in the middle of posts about other things. The earlier ones are generally just too messy to share there.

---

People of the Sky by Clare Bell
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



If you told me a book that included bestiality (is sex with insects still called bestiality?) and mpreg could get a 'Loved' rating from me, I would laugh at you. And yet this book did.

Set on an alien planet, a woman named Kesbe is delivering an old airplane. It crashes in a storm, and she encounters the planet's natives -- descendants of a lost Native American tribe who took to space to escape the problems of a dying Earth. Being of Hopi blood herself, she feels a kinship to these lost people, and tries to join their society.

There were so many interesting themes in this story. Accepting yourself (as a person, as a woman, as a member of a group). Love (LOVE LOVE LOVE! No matter the shape the other individual takes).

The characters were so realistic and believable. The "bad guy" (not really bad, just an interesting shade of grey) had motives that were completely realistic and believable.

The worldbuilding was jaw-droppingly amazing. The writing in all aspects was outstanding.

Rereading books I loved when I was younger is risky. Tastes change, and if I dislike the book on second reading, then that ruins my memory of it. Luckily, in this case, I think I liked it even more than when I was younger. The main character was an adult woman, and I could more easily relate to her now that I'm an adult as well.

I really, really wish I could have been rereading it for the first time though. I remembered some of the twists ahead of time, and knew how the whole thing ended. Still, this was one seriously enjoyable read.

It pains me to have to include that this book had any problems, but unfortunately it did have one: There were a couple dozen typos, misspellings, and grammar issues. That does not at all take away from my strong recommendation of this book.
Holy cow, this gave me such a laugh!

Hm, I seem to not be able to embed the clip directly here, so go to https://audioboom.com/posts/5471405-the-trumpster-quote-1 to listen!

Longer post coming soon...ish!

Goodreads

Know that annoying feeling when your username is taken by someone who hasn't used the site in many, many years? I suspect a number of people on Goodreads felt that about me.

Apparently back in 2009 I snagged the name Thistle, added one book to my 'currently reading' list, and never did anything further on the site. My account is still there though, so I dusted it off and crossposted my The Forest and the Farm review to it.

I'm not sure what the benefit of posting there is. (It makes me a little more worried that the author will see my reviews.) I'm going to try to post at least my completed books there though, and see how it goes.

If you have an account there and want to friend me, click away!

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2748685-thistle
The Forest and the Farm by Vance Huxley
Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



This was a very odd book. A YA book takes me about four hours to read, an adult one about six. This one took me 12 hours per my Kindle, yet Amazon lists it as only 488 pages... I started reading it a week before 2016 ended, and only finished it last night (and that was with more reading time than usual, because of the holiday).

So, as long as that book was, lots of stuff should have happened, right? Nope. There was oddly very, very little plot in this story, it was just a man's day to day life across years.

At first the reader has no idea where the story is set. I figured it was a generic fantasy world. On it, there are two areas: The Forest and the Farm. Areas that fall under the Farm belong to people. All others, the Forest, belong to the Wild. Humans have no tech -- bows are the highpoint of their weapons; potbelly stoves in a house is a rare sight and a sign of great wealth.

Balance that against the fact that everyone had a name that was just a little off from our real world: The main character was a man named Billi. Other names included Abbe, Edan, Eddwyn, Ellibeth, Ewward, etc. The animals of their world had the same "like ours, but a little off" patterns. Some animals had no name (like "dappled hunter" for a spotted hunting cat -- leopard?). There were Great versions of animals, too (Great Wolf, Great Stag, etc) -- those animals were a lot larger, stronger, and smarter than the non-Great version.

I love interesting worldbuilding, so that hooked me. Eventually, as the story moved along, I came to think that maybe this book was in fact set on Earth, sometime long after the world "ended" and most people died off. (That's not a spoiler, just my guess.)

The story followed Billi. In this world of such dangerous Wilds, there are Hunters and Hounds. Now and then a Hound (perhaps a Great Dog, some people thought) would come out of the Wild and choose one man. That would make the man into a Hunter -- someone able to go into the Wild to hunt. No one without a Hound dared enter the Wild, it was just too dangerous.

Billi was an unexpected Hunter as he had only one leg. The story followed him as he went from basically being a loner outcast to a full, respected, productive member of his village.

Like I said, this book was very odd. Through most of it, "nothing happened". There was no one plot through the whole story, other than Billi's evolution as a person. Rarely I got bored with it, though when I hit the last 10% of it and realized there just would be no climax (no plot = no climax) I started skimming, but otherwise I still enjoyed it.

There was one small part I had serious issue with. This story seemed to be set in a real world, there was no magic at all mentioned, ever. At one point in his life, Billi met a woman who seemed to be able to turn into a wolf and back. She arrived naked through a snowstorm, not cold or shivering at all, spent a few days having sex with him, then turned into a wolf and left him. I could almost handwave it as a dream (that somehow lasted days), but his Hound saw something as well...

All in all, this was a nice story. "Nice" really is the right word for it: Mellow, mild, unoffensive, non-exciting, yet warm and... well, nice.

Edit: I meant to mention that Billi's disability was written so believably well. Turns out the author is as well, which shows through the writing. It was so interesting to have a realistic look at something I'll hopefully never experience firsthand.

Edit 2: This book was so long, I forgot things I meant to mention! Another aspect of the book that annoyed me: Only men became Hunters. Why did Hounds only choose men? Seemed silly to me. Also, by the end of the story, every woman in the village was chasing after and flirting with Billi. While coming to that point was believable, it was kind of over the top (and also part of the reason why I skimmed the last 10%). Even if I had known those points in advance, I still would have read the book, but they were issues that should be mentioned.

Saturday the Twelfth of October by Norma Fox Mazer
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



This was actually a 2016 abandoned book, but The Forest and the Farm took me so long to read, I forgot to post about it, so missed 2016. I guess we can count it for 2017.

Being two or so weeks since I abandoned it, I'm having a little trouble remembering why. I think the usual "flat writing and dated" thing, as it was published in the 1970s.

In it a girl was sent back in time (never explained why or how in the 14% I had read). Per the Amazon summary, she's found by a tribe of humans, but I stopped reading before that happened.

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