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

(Art by hamburger.)
After the Coup by John Scalzi
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Set in his Old Man's Universe, this novella (or shorter) was about one of the geneteched soldiers, but a soldier who never fought, instead he had focused on diplomatic missions and working with tech. On a mission to an alien planet, the natives wouldn't enter negotiations until they had a fighting display, and that geneteched man was the only soldier-ish person on the ship, so he had to do it.

The story was both very interesting and completely funny. John Scalzi's dialogue was excellent. The aliens were perfectly believable as alien. The one and only downside of this "book" was that it was way too short.

The Cloud Hunters by Alex Shearer
Traditional or self-published: Traditional(?)
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Sometimes it's really hard to tell if a book is self-published or not. This one claimed a publisher, and that publisher has a website with a submissions page, yet they use Amazon Digital Services to publish...

The story in this book seemed interesting enough. Set on a world with massive oceans and spread out islands, airships move goods between spots of land. They also "hunt clouds" to gather fresh water for the people on the islands.

The big, big problem with this book is that the author used semicolons interchangeably with commas. If it went through a publisher, if it had an editor, how was that issue not corrected? Multiple errors each page. Plus this book is $15 for ebook on Amazon, which is insane. The biggest name authors charge $15 for their ebooks... I stopped reading this one at 4%.

Partial book credits:
Point reached in this book: 4%
Previous abandoned book total: 100%
New total: 104%
The Boy at the End of the World by Greg van Eekhout
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

I discovered this book was for preteen readers when I was already halfway through it, and I had to read the line a couple times to believe it.

Set in the future, humans had ruined the world and were wiped out (along with most animals). A few of them were saved in pods in arks (sort of, copies of them, "blank slate" humans). Some kind of accident happened, destroying an ark, and a caretaker robot started waking humans up to save them. He was only able to wake one in time.

Each human and animal in the pod was a blank slate; the waking up process imprints information into their brains. Intended to be one of a village of people, this boy was 'born' with boundless knowledge of fish and fishing. Thus he referred to himself as Fisher. Alone, with only the breaking-down robot for company, after he struggled to survive alone for a while he decided to try to find the other arks. He and the robot (Click), set off. They encountered an orphaned mammoth (sort of) calf, and the boy and it bonded, and so Protein joined their group instead of becoming dinner.

The world building was SO SO SO good. Not just the setting, but the dialogue of all the different "people"/group they met. The evolution of the world was completely believable, as were the characters.

While this is completely a book that an adult reader could enjoy, it is good for young readers as well. One of the main themes of the book was what compassion is. I wish I had highlighted the paragraph, it was so perfect. Fisher said something like:

What is this feeling? Animals should care for themselves first, for staying alive. Why did I risk my life for Protein? Why did Click risk his life for me?

It was such a lovely story, with a great ending. The writing was outstanding, everything about it was perfect.
The Martian by Andy Weir
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Set in the near future, manned trips to Mars happen every four years or so, stays on the planet being about 30 days long. During one of those missions a storm hit, and a crewman seemed to be killed. The remaining crew had to make the hard choice to leave his body behind. Turns out he wasn't dead.

The story followed him through surviving on the planet. The next arrival wasn't scheduled for four years, and he had supplies for an intended 30 day mission.

The story was really interesting. Loved the science, loved the character. But, as the story continued on, the science and math seemed to take over the book. Page after page (sometimes 4-5 pages), of the math of him calculating things. zzzzz

All in all I enjoyed it though, and I'd recommend it, even if (like me) you might end up skimming a few pages now and then.

Funny thing: Once I finished the book, I checked out the movie trailer. The voice I heard in my head for the main character EXACTLY matched the actor playing him. Had I heard the trailer before and somehow remembered it without realizing it? Or did they just do that good of a job matching him to it?

Hope for a Buffalo by Charlie Richards
Traditional or self-published: Traditional (shockingly)
Rating: Hated (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

This was such a bad book. It's part of a series of books, one of which I had reviewed some years back. I have no idea why there was still one on my Kindle.

In the story, the world has a bunch of secret "shifters" (were-animals). Almost all of them are big buff gay men. The story's world does that "if you meet someone's eyes, you know instantly if they're your soulmate" thing, which I hate so much. Feels so cheap and easy and UGH.

The writing was so so so bad (how was this not self-published?). Ugh, the whole thing was just so awful.
I stopped reading at 12%.

Partial book credits:
Point reached in this book: 12%
Previous abandoned book total: 88%
New total: 100%

Currently reading: The Boy at the End of the World. Oddly Amazon says it's for readers 10-14 years old. I wouldn't have guessed that. The story is good, writing is great, worldbuilding is really nice.

Sharing is caring?

Best thing you can do to with your friends is share, right?

Take the simple 7-11 sign. Most folks see it all the time...

The eleven is in all caps... except the n.

I'm so sorry, but if I must suffer noticing that, I'm taking everyone else with me. :D
The Storm Dog by Holly Webb
Traditional or self-published: Traditional (Probably. Their site won't load, but they have a Submissions Guidelines page listed on Google.)
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

The website I often get books from has one section for adult reader books and a second section for everything else -- YA down to picture books for babies. That's why I keep ending up with these books aimed at readers even younger than YA. Sometimes they work out for me, but most often they do not.

The Storm Dog was written for readers aged 6-8. It was a cute story about a girl traveling on her own to see her grandmother, but it was way way too basic for me. Not a sight against the book, as I'm quite a bit out of the 6-8 age range. Young readers would likely enjoy this book. I gave up on it at the 20% mark.

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

hamsterwoman's description of the book really summed things up for me: ridiculous worldbuilding, cardboard villains, Tubmlrishly earnest attempts at all the representation ever. She game me a heads up that the story was full of comic book logic, and thus plot holes big enough to drive a truck through.

Probably because I knew all that ahead of time, I was able to cope with the story somewhat better than I otherwise would have. I enjoyed the writing. I liked the idea of a version of the world where some people have superpowers. The "Tubmlrishly earnest attempts at all the representation ever" was a serious, serious turnoff for me though. Representation is good! But having one main character of every kind of sexuality just so you can have representation is the opposite of good...

But even with all that, I could have stuck with the book to the end if it had not been for the logic in it (or lack thereof). For example, Main Character had a crush on Other Girl. The two worked in a department together. There were only "three" people working there, the two of them and someone who was always in a costume. OTHER GIRL AND THE COSTUMED PERSON WERE NEVER SEEN AT THE SAME TIME. OTHER GIRL WOULD STEP OUT OF THE ROOM, COSTUMED PERSON ARRIVED, MAIN CHARACTER WENT TO LOOK FOR OTHER GIRL AND COULD NOT FIND HER ANYWHERE IN THE BUILDING, AND NEVER EVER EVER PUT THE PIECES TOGETHER. A&^(^&*^%$%JF@$_FR#*HFC

This book made me do something I've never done before: I slammed my Kindle shut. Kindles cannot be slammed! The cover just kind of flips closed, but boy did I flip it angrily!

My review makes it sound like I hated the book. I didn't. I was kind of sad to stop it where I did (46% point). It's just the comic book logic made it impossible for me to enjoy it -- it was like no one recognizing Clark Kent is Superman JUST BECAUSE HE WAS WEARING GLASSES. (I want to flail at my keyboard more just typing that sentence.) hamsterwoman had her love of the characters to carry her through the rest, but I was indifferent about them, so no reason for force myself to continue.

Partial book credits:
Point reached in these books: 20% +46% = 66%
Previous abandoned book total: 22%
New total: 88%

Fallout by Todd Strasser
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Hated (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

What a messed up year for books this is. I've not finished multiple books that I gave a positive review to, but this first book I finished? I hated it.

Oh how I hated it.

Pat of the issue wasn't the book's fault: Who wants to read about a nuclear war happening while Trump is tweeting that his launch button is bigger than North Korea's is?

But much of my issues with it were the book's fault. What a joyless, frustrating, unpleasant story this was. It was the second oldest book on my Kindle, so I had long since forgotten what it was about. Based on the title, I figured it might be YA dystopian. Nope.

Set in 1962, a nuclear war happens. A man had planned ahead and made a shelter for his family, but before he could get everyone down there, neighbors showed up as well. His shelter had enough supplies for four people, but with the neighbors they had over a dozen people.

The book had alternating chapters, some leading up to the blast, the others after the blast.

It was just so very unpleasant reading about a dozen people trapped in a fallout shelter, short on food, water, no toilet, one of them badly injured. Two weeks of that... The adults (oh my god, so unpleasant), were fighting endlessly. The intelligent man was the most unpleasant of them all (which annoyed me).

Why did I keep reading it? Why did I finish it? I wanted to know how the author would end it. Would the people get out? What would they find? What would they do after?

But ugh, even the ending was annoying. Spoiler: They got out, but the book ended right there. And, after two weeks in the shelter, they ate the food that had survived the blast. Yes they were starving, but then what was the point of the whole thing? They suffered for two weeks, then were going to die from eating the radiated food.

Ugh. I was so angry about having read this book, I couldn't sleep after I finished it.

Currently reading: The Martian The also the second oldest book on my Kindle (once I was done with Fallout). Finally a good book! I only just started it, and haven't seen the movie, but it seems really good. YAY!
(Arg! Three books with long titles means the post's title got cut off! Lafayette in the Somewhat United States is the last one.)

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Last year, Adam Silvera's They Both Die At The End was one of my favorite books of the year. I read another of his books right after, but it didn't work for me as well. I tried reading this one next, but all his books are so deeply sad, it was too much and I needed something lighter, so I put aside History for another time.

I figured it would be a good start to the year, a book I was sure to like, so I picked it up again as my first one of 2018.

In it the main character is a teenage boy who is obsessive/compulsive and is in love with another boy. One of the two moves away, and the couple breaks up. The main character still deeply loves the other boy. Then that other boy dies.

The book goes back and forth in time, one chapter when the two were still a couple, then a chapter in current time with the boy dead. It really seems like it should have worked for me, but it worked even less well this time than the first time I read it. I think because it's too teenager-ish (which is not a slight against the book, since it's YA). I just wasn't interested in all the teenage relationship drama, and the obsessiveness stuff annoyed me, so I stopped reading at the 7% point.

Chronicles of a Royal Pet: A Princess and an Ooze by Ian Rodgers
Traditional or self-published: Self-published
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Set in some magical land, a princess went to buy a magic pet (having a magical pet is a sign of social standing). Instead of picking something cool like a lily-lynx (a lynx that eats only flowers and can control all plants), the princess is drawn to and picks an ooze/slime as her pet. Unheard of! The petstore owner was only selling it as a joke!

It was a cute story, there was nothing wrong with it. It didn't hook me at all though, and the longer I read, the more and more I was noticing the grammar issues instead of the story, so I stopped reading at 7%.

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

I can't remember the last time I read a nonfiction book. I guess it must have been back in college, decades ago? Thinking this book was fiction, I kept waiting for the story to start, but it never did.

If I had to read a nonfiction book, it would be this one. It was funny and fast reading, with a good dose of humor.

Lafayette was nineteen. Considering Independence Hall was also where the founders calculated that a slave equals three-fifths of a person and cooked up an electoral college that lets Florida and Ohio pick our presidents, making an adolescent who barely spoke English a major general at the age I got hired to run the cash register at a Portland pizza joint was not the worst decision ever made there.

It really wasn't bad at all, I'd just rather spend my reading time on stories and fiction. I stopped reading at 8%. (Thanks to orangerful for the rec!)

Partial book credits:
Point reached in these books: 7% + 7% + 8% = 22%
Previous abandoned book total: NA
New total: 22%

Book #42 of 2017: Weregirl (Late!)

I finished this book last night, before midnight, so it counts as part of last year.

Weregirl by C. D. Bel
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

This was an odd book, and it wasn't until I read the afterwards that I understood why.

The first 50% of the book was about a girl in a modern day, very poor town. Set in Michigan, some chemical company was dumping toxic stuff there, and it got into the water system, which made all the kids sick. (Sound familiar?)

The main character is a talented runner, a high school student. There were no werewolves at all in the first 50% of the book, no mention of them, no wolves, nothing. It's just about her. Which was fine! Learning about the high school track world was interesting, as were the main character and the other characters around her.

Then, about the 57% point, she got bitten by a wolf. "Chosen by the wolves to do something" she's told by a ~mystical Native American~. Still, I continued to enjoy the story. The werewolf part was interesting, the author handled it well.

Then the last third of the book changed. It suddenly became this big PLOT THING about the EEEVVVIIIILL company that had poisoned the town. See, the town sued the company that poisoned the water, but the company went bankrupt before it could pay anything out. Some other company bought the bankrupt company and paid off all its debts and way more. And no one in the story questioned why a company would do that.

So it turns out that new company was evil evil mcevil. It captured wolves and grew new human parts inside of them for transplant... Like the main character saw them cut open a wolf to take out a fully formed human nose.


And then the ending... The company covered up everything the main character had seen, she brought the police there but in hours there was no evidence of anything at all there. And so the main characters just said "okay" and that's how the story ended! They said to each other "There are lots of bad companies in the world, they come and they go, this one will go too". AFTER THE COMPANY TRIED TO USE HER YOUNGER BROTHER FOR GENETIC EXPERIMENTS IN FRONT OF HER. "Ho hum. They'll go out of business eventually, so it's okay."

I loved the first two-thirds of the book so much, but the last third was awful. And then I found out why: In the afterwards, the author explained this book had actually been written by a committee. They brought a group of people into a room and came up with three story arcs (which explains why the last third was so different than the rest of the book). Then they brought in groups of teenagers to ask about what they like in their books, and added those elements as well, then one person wrote it all up, with the rest approving all the text.

2017: A Year of Books

Every year I do a summary of my year of reviews. This year had two big trends:

1) LitRPG. "Sucked into a video game" books, where a person gets trapped in a video game world. In the beginning of the year, I packed my Kindle with them. They seemed like the perfect books for me! Then as I kept reading them, I learned the truth: The vast, vast majority of them are awful. So so so amazingly badly written (major issues in the very first sentence of the book was the rule! Not the exception!), with awful, unrealistic characters and situations no one could believe as real.

2) I cannot count. Each year I make one or two errors in my running tally of books, but this year I made four. So luckily I more than reached the 50 book mark!

Anyway, on to the books!

Total books read. 50 books per year goal:

This was a challenging year. Phone games are such a waste of time, yet they endlessly call out to me... I lost so much reading time to them.

Abandoned books. How's this? The exact same number as last year!

As you can see, I used to never want to stop reading a book before I finished it, but life's too short to waste time on bad books.

And, as you can see, abandoning books I didn't like worked for me. The chart of how much I liked books I finished:

Just for fun, I made one of my abandoned books for 2017:

That's actually more positive than I would have guessed!

42 books I finished. Link to each review and a brief quote from each review.Collapse )

74 books I did not finish (total percent finished = 10 full books). Link to each review and a brief quote from each review.Collapse )

Small bookkeeping update: In the coming year, for abandoned books, I'm going to keep one grand total of percent finished instead of rolling over to a new book in the middle of the year. So for example, if I read 50% of one, 30% of another, and 35% of the next, instead of calling that "one book + 15% towards the next", I'll call it 115%. Then at the end of the year, I'll break it down into books/100% chunks. That should make my final count easier to do.
Usually I post books in the order I read them, but I'm going to put the amusing one first. I almost got up out of bed last night just so I could post about it.

Lore Online: A Game Alive LitRPG Series by Trip Ellington
Rating: Hated (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

I'm going to quote from the book. Everything between the ---- is quoted, bolding as it appears in the book. My quote starts in the middle of a story paragraph.


If only I could afford a real gaming rig, he thought.

SHOULD MORE FUTURISTIC TECH BE THREADED THROUGH? Re: Still watching things on a screen, checking bank account online. iPhones, cellphone, landlord's curlers, grocery bags - perhaps more near-future options could be made up for those and more. definitely in need of revision here. the story is meant to take place 50-60 years from now, so a lot of this will need to be reworked. I've made a few changes myself, but please feel free to tweak as needed.

He looked down at his grey t-shirt and jeans...


Back and forth notes between himself and some reader, in the middle of the published story! I laughed out loud for a good long time at that. That is a new one...

Stopped reading at 3%, though I did skim to see if there were more notes like that.

Dungeon Crawl by Skyler Grant
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Typical LitRPG. One day I'll delete the last LitRPG book off my kindle, and that will be a good day indeed. Stopped at 3%.

Dungeon Born by Dakota Krout
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

This was an odd story. In it a man is killed by a necromancer, and for some unexplained reason his soul was stuffed into a gem. Somehow the gem evolved into a dungeon core, and every dungeon core becomes a dungeon. So basically it was a story told about how a dungeon (as in D&D, something adventurers enter to kill monsters and find treasure) came to be.

An interesting idea, but wasn't very well written, so I gave up on it pretty fast (8%).

Captain's Kid by Liz Coley
Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

I liked this book. I liked the story, I liked the characters in it, I liked the writing... and yet I didn't want to read it. Every time I picked it up, within a page or two I started watching the clock. Why? I have no idea. Like I said, I was interested in the story and wanted to know what happened next. I liked the characters, and I believed them as real people. The writing itself was fine (or, as it was self-published, good).

The plot was about a kid whose mother was killed on a mission, and he and his father were about to go on that same mission. The two had never talked about losing her, each lost in their own grief. While that more personal plot was going on, there was a wider one about two different groups of warring geneteched humans on a new planet.

The "aliens" (very geneteched humans) were interesting, and I was interested in both of the plotlines. I have no idea at all why the book never clicked for me. I thought maybe it was me (too distracted by RL stuff?), but as soon as I finally gave up on this one (at 62%) and started a new book, I was lost in the new story.

Partial book credits:
Point reached in this books: 3% + 3% + 8% + 62% = 76%
Previous abandoned book total: 76%
New total: 76% + 76% = 152% (one book + 52% towards the next)

Currently reading: Weregirl. Will I reach 50 books by the end of the year? Which means either give up on this book after the 48% mark or finish this book? Stay tuned and find out!

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