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Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tales
thistle_chaser
My current book review policy is behind the LJ cut. Click to read it.Collapse )


(Art by hamburger.)

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Wool by Hugh Howey
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



I first read and loved Wool back in 2013 (my brief review of it), and I had wanted to read the other books in the series, but I just never got around to it. Finally I decided to do it, and since I had loved the first story so much, I wanted to start by rereading it.

Unfortunately the enjoyment of the story was all in the twists, in not knowing what was going to happen. It didn't at all stand up to a rereading. I mostly just read it to get through it, so I could move on to the next book.

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Proper Gauge by Hugh Howey
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Unfortunately the second Wool book really didn't work for me. It almost felt like it was set in a whole different world. It was very very light on plot. It had no twists. I got through it, but I had no desire at all to read the remaining... four? books in the series.

Shortest book review ever? Probably. It just didn't drive me to read it, and thus it really doesn't drive me to write about it. It wasn't bad, it was just too slow and meandering for me. Still, I finished the whole thing.

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Rain: Rise of the Living Dead by Shaun Harbinger
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



I grabbed a copy of this book when it was free, but otherwise never would have. I really don't like zombie stories. Other than following Walking Dead for a few seasons, I've always avoided books and movies about zombies. They bore me.

Rain started off interestingly. The main character was someone like me -- works a 9 to 5 job, then spends the weekends playing video games and eating bad food (okay, someone like me other than the bad food part anymore). I liked him.

Then the best friend and others were introduced. Sigh. It's like the author said "I want X to happen," so had the best friend do things to make X happen, nevermind that no reasonable person, let alone a best friend, would do those things to another person. None of the three other main characters were believable or reasonable humans, and too quickly the main character went in the other unreasonable direction: too good at stuff.

Plus, apparently the world can end in a couple hours. I mean like zero radio stations, zero Internet, all gone between breakfast and lunch. Because a zombie virus was spreading.

I gave up on the book 13% in, thus it doesn't count for the year.

Currently reading: Chronology, a collection of short stories about time, with a spiffy cover. Click for bigger:

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If you have to move, having notice months in advance is really handy. I'm making slow progress towards "packing" (more like just throwing things out right now, I'm doing very little actual box-filling yet). One of the big things I have to decide on is the TV, which then includes the Tivo and the big TV entertainment center (not really an entertainment center -- the glass TV table/thingie the TV stands on). Do I want to bring them with me? Is it worth it without TV service?

There are potential other uses for the TV. I could play games on it (though I haven't in 5+ years). I have a Roku, so I could watch things on it (though I only ever have once, when my mother was visiting; I usually just watch things on my second computer monitor).

...though I suppose, since I canceled Netflix, that there's even less use for the TV/Roku. When my mother comes to visit (once a year or less), we like watching movies together, but without Netflix, that'd be impossible. Though I could turn Netflix back on for her visit. Though last time she came, we found no Netflix movies we were interested in.

This is the back-and-forth my thought process keeps going through. Then I get to questions like: How many sets of sheets is it reasonable to keep for a one-person, one-bed household? How many sets of towels? I have 50-something washcloths, which is insane.

I'm finally getting rid of all my pre-weight loss clothing, too. I had been still wearing it now and then, since my brain keeps telling me I'm still exactly the same size as I was, though logical-me knows I shouldn't wear it anymore.

I need to get to the post office soon to get some of those 'box ships for $X, no matter what the weight' boxes. I have some gaming books and Disney stuff that I think might sell on eBay, so I want to list those.

So much to do, luckily I still have almost three months left to do it.

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Amazon and B&N both sent me emails today, telling me that I have a credit from some class action suit about ebooks. The B&N didn't list an amount, but Amazon's given me an almost $75 ($72.60) credit. WOOT! I don't expect B&N's to be much, as I only ever bought three or four ebooks from them, but I'm impressed at how much Amazon's is!

"Apple, Inc. (Apple) funded this credit to settle antitrust lawsuits brought by State Attorneys General and Class Plaintiffs about the price of electronic books (eBooks)."

In other news, I finished this season of Orange is the New Black. Generally I enjoyed it, though there were some very unrealistic and heavy-handed parts that made me frowny.

Related: I'm seriously considering canceling Netflix, as there's never usually much of anything I want to watch online there anymore. I thought I'd never survive without TV service, but the less I watch, the less I want to watch, I suppose. Sense8 is the only other original series from them I'd be interested in catching, and Orange is the New Black is over for another year.

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All three of these books came from the very bottom of my to read pile. Two hits and a miss! The two Scalzi books weren't novel-length (one was a short story, the other a novella), but as the novella was longer than many YA books, I'm comfortable combining the two of them into credit for one book this year.

I was originally going to post these three in the order I read them (Wildcatter, Questions, Engine), but it makes more sense to switch the last two, so I'm doing that.

Wildcatter by Dave Duncan
Rating: Hated (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Ugh, this book. Scifi. Set in space, a very small crew was headed for a world to mine its resources. Six person crew, five of those six worldclass experts in multiple areas, the sixth person there to provide cooking, cleaning, and physical labor.

Guess which one of them knew all the answers? Physical labor guy thinking about a basic mistake one of the scientists makes:

As a planetologist, Maria ought to have noticed [that the planet was old]. It wasn't his job to point that out to her.

The main character was "hermphobic" (transphobic). In a world where anyone could change genders by taking three pills and eating extra protein (to go from female to male, so I assume less protein to go from male to female...), main character said:

He had no claim on her, and a herm could never be a mate in the way a real woman could.

And homophobic:

He said, standing closer to Seth than felt comfortable for two men.

The captain, a woman, used the pills to turn into a man so she could better handle a problem crew member. She speaking:

It's just, well I know me, and both me's, and I know I can handle JC a lot better when I have visible balls.

And the writing just made no sense in general (not even counting the 'three pills and protein to change genders' thing). Speaking of a man, just a plain, human man:

JC rose up on his hind legs.

Between the 'hind legs' and 'mate' use, I'm almost wondering if this had originally been a furry novel and the author changed it for publication.

I hated the main character, I disliked the other characters, and the worldbuilding made no sense. I reached the 11% point of this book before giving up. I just could not stand to spend any more time with it.


The God Engines by John Scalzi
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



An Amazon reviewer described this as "science fantasy" and that really fits -- it's like a cross of scifi and fantasy. The worldbuilding was amazing: Set in space, gods are real. Not only are gods real, they're at war with each other. Some time back, one god got the upper hand, and enslaved a bunch of the other gods to serve His followers. Those followers force the enslaved gods to power their spaceships.

I love Scalzi's writing, and I really need to read more from him. He's not just skilled at worldbuilding and character creation, but his writing skills in general rock: For one of this book's major characters, he never mentioned a gender, letting the reader fill in what made sense to them. I hadn't even noticed that he didn't mention a gender until halfway through the story, then I went back nearly to the beginning to start again and confirm that a gendered pronoun was never used for them. So cool! (I do wonder how other readers saw the character. For me, I kept seeing a masculine woman, but sometimes it wavered towards feminine man.)

There were only two negatives of this story. The first was that I wish it had been longer. It ended at the perfect point (and in the very most perfect way possible), but I still wish I could have spent more time with it. The second was that a character's name was "Andso," and it kept driving me crazy. Every time the name occurred at the beginning of a sentence, I kept thinking it was a typo -- "And so" instead of "Andso".

(Edit: I forgot to mention another thing I really enjoyed. All the characters in this book had a similar dialogue style, word choice just a little off from our modern way of speaking. It really helped set the stage of this being a vastly different period of time.)

Questions for a Soldier by John Scalzi
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



While this story was interesting in and of itself, to me it was even more an example of how good of a writer Scalzi is.

Set in his Old Man's War world (where the elderly are given new bodies to go to war in), this story was nothing but a transcript of some meet-and-greet event. No descriptions of people. No descriptions of places. Almost no names. Format was:

HOST: (dialogue)
CAPT. PERRY: (dialogue)
HOST: (dialogue)
PERRY: (dialogue)
VILLAGER 1: (dialogue)
PERRY: (dialogue)
VILLAGER 2: (dialogue)

Etc. Even with no descriptions or names, each character seemed so alive and whole! I pictured it no less fully than I did for any other story I've read. Just through their voices alone! So cool! I really enjoyed it.

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Grotto of the Dancing Deer: And Other Stories (The Complete Short Fiction of Clifford D. Simak Book 4) by Clifford D. Simak
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Sometimes I feel like a bad fan of thing. Apparently Clifford D. Simak is a big name in sci-fi, he wrote books from 1930 until around 1980, but I've never heard of him before picking up this one.

Very oddly, the intro of this book set my expectations very low -- the person writing it repeatedly said how dated Simak's writing now was, how his dialogue was rough, etc. It was the strangest intro of a collection I ever read.

The writing was quite dated (duh, he wrote from 1930 until 1980), but that wasn't why I stopped reading this book. None of the stories hooked me, or even mildly interested, so after reading the first couple I just abandoned this book.

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Space Station Rat by Michael J. Daley
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



This book had a strong high point: The animal's voice was perfect. I totally believed the main character was a (super intelligent, genetically modified) rat.

However, every person in the book was somewhere in the okay to god awful range. There were only four humans: the boy who finds the rat, his parents, and the captain. The captain got no characterization than "fat and useless," he only showed up in the story when conflict was needed. Every time he showed up, the author made sure to mention how fat and useless he was. The fat comments got really, really old. As far as I could tell, the parents didn't care one bit about the boy, they only focused on their work. (Their work may or may not have involved saving the whole planet, so some distraction would be understandable, but they acted like their kid was some stranger who was getting in the way of their work on purpose.)

The robot was the worst character though. How a robot could be so unbelievable, I don't even know.

The title explains the plot: A rat got onto a space station by mistake, and had to learn to survive there. That's really about all that happened, other than she became friends with the boy as well.

The book was very very light and somewhat cute. The rat character is the only reason I finished it, however she wasn't enough to make me want to read any further books in this series.

Currently reading: Wildcatter, by Dave Duncan. One of the oldest books in my to read pile.

Count of books in my to read pile: 168. Even if I never got another new book, it would take me about three years to get through all those!

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I usually don't do memes, but this one is about books, and I'm having a seriously hard time getting my brain back into work mode, so here goes!

Questions stolen from irreparable. 40 of them, but I'm only going to use the ones I like, because I'm totally a rebel that way.

1: Currently Reading

Space Station Rat by Michael J. Daley

2: Describe the last scene you read in as few words as possible. No character names or title.

A super-intelligent rat is trying to learn enough to survive on a space station.

4: Quick, you're in desperate need of a fake name. What character name do you think of first?

As Warchild is still eating my brain, Jos is the first name I thought of. I guess that's a good enough fake name, as it could pass for a real one, and for male or female.

6: Public library or personal library?

Technically personal. Nowadays, as I'm broke, all of the books I read "fell off the back of a truck" -- I download (pirate) them. Rarely I buy one from Amazon, when I love an author enough that I want to support them. One day I'll happily go back to buying more of them.

7: What is the most important part of a book, in your opinion?

The very beginning -- the first line, the first paragraph, maybe so much as the first page. Hook me from the start and you'll have my heart.

8: Why are you reading the book you're currently reading?

While I have another book containing a short story from the Warchild author, I felt the need to read something lighter. I tried a collection of short stories from someone else, but I'm not going to finish that book. A book about a rat on a space station seemed perfect for "lighter".

9: If you were to publish a book what (besides your real name) would you use for your author name?

Hmmm. I wouldn't use my real name for sure (I hate it). I don't like cute fake names either though... I'd probably come up with some general name, likely male. David [something that doesn't start with D]. I've loved the name David since I was a young kid.

10: Do you listen to music when you read?

Oh god no. Silence please. Even people talking (like in a waiting room) makes it hard for me to lose myself in a story.

11: What book fandom do you affiliate yourself with the most?

Hrm. None really... Now and then I read fanfic for the Avengers, so I suppose that, but sadly I'm really not active in fandoms anymore. [Edit: Oops! I missed the word 'book' in the question. If I had to pick a book fandom, Harry Potter, though I'm all but out of that fandom. Rarely I read fic based on it.]

12: Tell one book story or memory (what you were wearing when you were reading something, someone saw you cry in public, you threw a book across the room and broke a window, etc.)

I read the end of the Stephen King Dark Tower series at work, which was a big, big mistake. It was so good, I couldn't wait a whole day to finish it, but the series had such a sad ending. I had to read a line, stop and do work, then read another line to try to keep from sobbing at my desk. I should have just waited and read it that evening.

15: Post a shelfie.

I'd love to do this one! Sadly last night I packed a box of books up to donate, and I don't have even a whole shelf left of physical books I'm keeping. Imagine a picture of my Kindle here. :P

16: Rant about anything book related

Oh like I need an invitation to rant about this? Self-published books that are full of typos/spelling mistakes/sucking writing, etc. While there are a few good self-published authors out there (*waves to the ones on my friends list*), the vast, VAST majority of self-published books are complete and utter crap and not worth paying a cent for. (This is a big part of why I feel okay with pirating books. Sorry, real authors.)

17: What do you think about movie/tv adaptations?

I try to consider them a completely different thing than the book, though it's hard. I keep wanting to compare the Game of Thrones TV series and books, for example.

20: A character you like but you really, really shouldn't.

While I can't think of a specific example, I often like the characters we're not supposed to -- the bad guys are often more interesting to me, and minor characters often snag my attention hard.

21: Do you loan your books?

As I deal only in ebooks, yes. When someone mentions looking for a book, if I have or can find a copy, I'll email it off to them.

Back when I was a teenager, I loaned a beloved series out to someone, and never got it back*. That soured me on loaning physical books. (*Though I believe it was fully my fault. I had lent it to a volunteer at a con, then stopped volunteering at the con myself. The person likely had no way to get it back to me, though I was too young to realize that at the time.)

23: Did your family or friends influence you to read when you were younger?

No. I was, by far, the biggest reader in my family -- no one really read other than me. I had very few, if any, friends when I was a kid, and I don't think any of them read. Basically I just had my nose in a book all the time.

24: First book(s) you remember being obsessed with

rathacat's Ratha and Thistle-Chaser series. I saw it first on one of those CBS Storybreak Specials on a Saturday morning, then hunted far and wide (or as much as a pre-Internet kid who couldn't drive could hunt) to find the book it was based on.

I've used Thistle-Chaser as my online name for decades.

25: A book that you think about and you cringe because of how terrible it was

Just one? Really? The Taken by the Swarm - Seduced by WEREBEES one was awful, but so bad that it was amusing.

Zoo (The Enclosure Chronicles) was the first really, really bad self-published book that I had read, so it stuck with me.

26: Do you read from recommendations or whatever book catches your eye?

Both. My tastes are kind of picky, so lots of times a recommendation doesn't really fit for me, but sometimes they do.

27: How/where do you purchase your books?

When I purchase, Amazon. I'd like to link to the download site I use, it's outstanding (hundreds if new ebooks available every week), but I can't recall the name of it, so I can't find it in Google... I have it bookmarked at home. Leave a comment if you want it, and I'll link you later.

28: An ending you wish you could change

Warchild's. I'm not a shipper, but as the kids say nowadays, I need that pairing like burning. *pushes the two main characters together* Now kiss!

31: Do you day dream about your favorite books? If so, share one fantasy you have about them.

I'd be surprised if people who enjoy reading don't daydream about the stories...

One thing I like to do is to pretend the character is in my world and seeing all this for the first time. Like driving Alya from Clan of the Cave Bear around in my car.

32: OTP or NoTP?

Usually no OTPs, though rarely there's an exception. I'm not big on romance in my books.

33: Cute and fluffy or dramatic and deadly?

Darker is generally better for me. Not horror, not gore, but dark and sad and emotional and heavy.

34: Scariest book you ever read

Hm. Though I do read Stephen King, I don't really like horror/scary books. His 'The Long Walk' scared me on a 'what humans are capable of' level. I'm sure I read some books that scared me as a kid, but I don't recall any now...

35: What do you think of Ebooks

This one is pretty much answered by now. :P Because of the font size options, they mean I can read a lot more than I'd otherwise be able to. Also, I LOVE being able to carry my entire library around effortlessly. I believe I have 100+ books in my To Read pile, and I can take them all with me wherever I go with no additional weight.

36: Unpopular opinions

I wish there were some kind of control on self-published books. I can't say "I wish self-publishing didn't exist" because there are a few good books/authors out there, but the vast majority of self-published stuff is crap.

If Amazon could do more about the paid/fake reviews, that would help a little. Also, I wish people would be more honest in their reviews -- touching on the bad is just as important as mentioning the good parts.

37: A book you are scared is not going to be all you hoped it would be

Warboy (Warchild book #4). I'm expecting so much from it, I'm worried it just won't be able to meet my expectations.

38: What qualities do you find annoying in a character?

Perfection. Give me flaws. Lots of flaws! It makes characters more realistic and gives them a chance for growth.

40: Has there ever been a book you wish you could un-read?

Lots and lots of them, so I could reread them again for the first time.

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Warchild by Karin Lowachee
Rating: LOVED (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



I wish two things right now: I had some higher rating than 'LOVED' (I've only used the all caps version of 'loved' once before), and that I had been able to write this review after I finished the book instead of a week and two books later.

This book was AMAZING. A week and two books later, it's still in my head stronger than any other book has ever been before. If I had paid an author to write a book perfect for me, this book would have surpassed even that.

Unless you hate dark books or books about child abuse (all forms of abuse, including sexual), I highly recommend that you do not click the below links. Don't spoil yourself. Go out and buy this book, then read it for yourself.

Brief overview: Set in space, pirates attack an eight year old boy's homeship. All the adults are killed, the kids are taken as slaves by the pirates to use in their crew or sell to other crews. The pirate captain keeps one boy to train. The book follows what happens to that boy over many years. It's chilling. Realistic. Dark as hell.

Warchild review, spoilers.Collapse )

Seriously, if you listen to any recommendation of mine, listen to this one. Unless you don't like dark books or stories where kids get abused, get this book.

I don't usually link to other reviews, but I worry I didn't do Warchild justice, so here's a better written one than mine.

Burndive by Karin Lowachee
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Not this book's fault, but I went into this series thinking it was going to be about the two main characters from the first book. It's not. Every book in this series is about different characters and what they see/do/think/feel during the war. This book was about the son of the captain of one of the humans' deepspace battleships.

Because I loved the first book so deeply, and I thought this book was continuing it, I was so disappointed to find out it was about different characters. Also, I strongly disliked (to the point of hating) the main character of this one, so I had a harder time enjoying it.

Burndive review, spoilers.Collapse )

Like Gaslight Dogs by the same author, the title of this book was very odd. Burndive is the world's version for hacking, and there was next to no hacking in it.

Cagebird by Karin Lowachee
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Disclaimer: I didn't finish this one yet, but I wanted to post all three reviews together. I have around 8% left to read, and I will be finishing it, but I highly doubt anything in the end will change my opinion of this book (unless the main character in this one stumbles across the two characters from the first book making out in some dark corner).

Cagebird starts out much like Warchild did: A young boy's home colony is destroyed as part of the war, and he (eventually) ends up in the hands of a pirate. Because of that, this book really worked for me at first, and I had high hopes for it. (I love plots about brainwashing and trust issues, not to mention age and power differences in relationships.) Unfortunately, it veered off into quite a different direction than Warchild did.

Cagebird review, spoilers.Collapse )

The author has a few more (3? 4?) books planned in this series, though her website makes it sound like the Gaslight Dog series has her attention right now. If she does publish more in this series, I'll read them, but I suspect I'll get more enjoyment by just rereading the first book over and over.

In my longing for more of Warchild, I hit up AO3. While there were only 20-something fics for the series, and only half of them were about the characters of the first book, almost all of those 10-ish fics were quite good. I enjoyed them all, all the voices felt accurate, other than one. (Wish I could link them and rec them directly, but I was reading in anonymous mode on my iPad, since I had no net access.)

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So much to do. My in box is full of emails, I'll be replying to comments and trying to catch up on my friends list over the next couple days. It's so good to have net access again!

There was a "famous" person on my flight home. Joanne Weir was in the check-in line right in front of me (and didn't even fly first class). I wouldn't have realized it was her at all, but she was recording her voice mail and quietly said into it 'Hi this is Joanne Weir, I can't take your call...' and I was close enough to hear her. Even from behind, I was sure it was her (she had the same unique hair), and when I edged around the front to see her face, I was sure. I didn't say anything to her though, partially because I hate her cooking show/how she acts/her voice and always switched the channel when she was on.

I was so happy to get home and see my cat. Unfortunately she seems to have forgotten who I am. Instead of running to me when I came home (as she does after work), she sat at a distance and eyed me in a 'Who the hell are you?' sort of way. When I approached her, she backed off, still eyeing me like she was scared. Silly kitty, I was only gone a week!

Both times through the TSA line at the airport I got pulled out of line for a pat-down. The first time was okay -- interesting since I never had one before and she mostly just went through the motions. Coming home was a different story and she actually felt my crotch (with the back of her hand), and fully between my thighs, across my butt, etc. That was odd and rather disturbing.

More tomorrow!

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Would be 30 seconds if not typing on phone.

Best Book Ever and ever. Dark and wonderfully realistic and perfect for me.

Usually would have been an ending I loved but in this case frustrating arg. Can't make Lj cut to say why though

Hate that I can't make real post about it now. Will forget too much by time I'm at a computer

Started second book. Tad confused as to why we are in a characters pov. Maybe because first chapter?

Arg such a good book. Deserves real review!

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