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


(Art by hamburger.)

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Dog Country by Malcolm F. Cross
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



I feel bad giving this book a 'disliked' rating, but... I just didn't like it at all. It was technically well-written, and the 12% I read was edited perfectly (rare for a self-published book!), but the story itself had too many issues for me to keep reading.

Set on Earth in the current-ish year, geneteching was a big thing. Someone (the government?) made humans mixed with dogs to use in wars and other industries. Design one dog type, brew a set of clones, and you have forces for your army. Interesting idea! Even more interesting was that the book opened right as the war ended. What would these dogs do, when they were created and geneteched to do one thing, and that one thing was no longer needed? (The fact that the government could just kill them all off was handwaved with a couple sentences about how the geneteched animals were given their freedom and status equal to any non-geneteched person.)

The dogs were playing in "milsim" games -- military simulation, which apparently is both a pro and non-pro sport in this world. Still, interesting idea. Then the story started to get bogged down with details. One of the Amazon reviewers called this not just military scifi, but heavy military scifi, and that was right. Page after page about how the troops moved on the game field, detailed description about cleaning guns, etc. But okay, if the military end of things didn't work for me, I could focus on the dogs' relationship, because that was interesting as well.

Until the girlfriend was introduced. Turns out, since these dogs were geneteched for war, they didn't know how to handle even the most basic part of relationships. (So why the main character dog had a girlfriend was beyond me.) This girlfriend (also a geneteched animal) wanted to have sex all the time, and even though the dog didn't know anything about sex, didn't understand it, and did not like it, the girlfriend pressured him into doing it multiple times a day. What kind of girlfriend does that? Sheesh... Then this dog went full-on autistic-seeming. He didn't even know the most basic relationship stuff (like why someone would draw a heart for their loved one). It was like he was a totally different character... Plus I felt like I was dealing with Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory. Same storyline -- girlfriend pressures boyfriend who neither likes nor wants to have sex into having it.

Usually when I don't finish a book, I like to post a couple of them at once. This review got long though, so I'm going to post it on its own. Plus I think the next book I'm reading (The Magnificent 12 by Michael Grant) will be one I finish.

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Current Mood: okay okay

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As if I needed more reason not to vote for him...

So I do lots of surveys, right? It's good side-money, I make a $10 Amazon gift card once a week or so. Today I got offered one from "Great America PAC" -- I rarely get political ones, so I looked it up before starting. It's Trump's...

How are these for unbiased questions?

Do you believe Barack Obama accomplished a radical liberal agenda the past 8 years?
Do you agree that President Obama’s weak foreign policy leadership has made our allies nervous and our enemies emboldened?
Should the Obama Administration have done more to stop the Benghazi attacks, which a bipartisan report has now determined were preventable?

Not only that, when I reached the end of the survey (99% completed), it then told me I was disqualified. Rarely companies do that underhanded thing -- they collect all your info, then at the very end tell you you're disqualified, so they don't have to pay for the results.

How surprised are we that Trump robbed me of the 60 cents I would have made for this survey?

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Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

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Three abandoned books in a row:

Where Wolves Run by Jason Parent
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)


I love werewolves. Have since I was a little kid, still do. I've been on a wolf/werewolf kick lately, and this one was recommended, so I gave it a try.

Plot was pretty generic (when a man was a little kid, his family was killed by werewolves, so he grew up to be a werewolf hunter, only to have werewolves kill his wife and almost kill his kid while he was out hunting. Raises kid to be a werewolf hunter, too). Writing was fine. Story was fine. Just didn't really hook me or interest me.

Abandoned a third into it.

Hyperion by Dan Simmons
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)


I heard good things about this book. Dark scifi. However, his writing was a poor match for me (I think he swallowed a thesaurus), plus even though it was only published in 1989, it felt oddly dated.

Abandoned after the first chapter.

The Fur Trader by Sam Ferguson
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)


Now and then, I let a cool cover influence me more than I should. This was one of those times. I probably would have picked up the book anyway (set on another planet, it follows a retired military man settling into his life as a fur trapper out in the wilds), but the cover sealed the deal.

The story and the writing weren't bad, but I suspected things would go bad soon. The ex-military man was too cool for school and rather perfect at living out in the wilds alone, including facing down bears and driving them off with his voice alone, then peeing on trees to mark his land as his own. Add on top of that that he had two "pets," creatures that were basically giant wolves with deadly cougar-like paws. No one else was brave enough to keep them as pets other than him... I think I dodged a bullet by abandoning this one.

Abandoned 10% in.


Currently reading: Dog Country by Malcolm F. Cross. Though both self-published and a furry novel, I'm enjoying it so far. The "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought..." section of that page makes me a tad uncomfortable though, heh. I suppose I should have realized there would be (self-)published furry erotic novels out there...

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Current Mood: tired tired

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In this season of Game of Thrones, there was a big battle. Supposedly one of the biggest ever made for television. I hadn't realized how much of it was done with special effects (basically, almost all of it).

I'd say that even if you haven't seen the season yet, this video is only minorly spoilery. You should probably skip it if you want to avoid all spoilers, but be sure to bookmark it to watch later, because it's really cool to see how they did it all.

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Current Mood: hungry hungry

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For Real by Alexis Hall
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Cover mildly NSFW, so linking. Hot cover here! Getcha hot cover here!

I have a limited amount of reading time at night, and a very good internal clock. Usually without fail, I know exactly when I have to stop reading, glance over to the clock to confirm it, and close my Kindle. This book blew that out of the water. Most nights I didn't glance at the clock until an hour later than I should have stopped reading, said "it's not a good stopping point, I'll read for just another couple minutes" and then another hour would pass. I actually got no work done today at my job because I was just so darned tired from lack of sleep.

Though a very simple story, it was handled well. A 19 year old teen meets a middle aged man in a BDSM club. They have a connection, and the story follows their relationship as it grows and builds. In most stories like this, the younger man would be the sub, but in this book he was the dom. That was a nice twist. (Some reviewers had issues with the 19 year old's age, saying he often came off as much younger, and thus the story made them uncomfortable since he was underage. I'd agree with the much younger part, I would have guessed he was 16 if the author hadn't repeatedly stated he was 19.)

Though it was right on the borderline of 'too much sex,' the story never crossed that line. Sex scenes are good and fun and hot, but more and more, I need substance to go with them. Sex scenes are like the sauce on a meal -- they make a meal better, but a dinner of nothing but sauce wouldn't be very satisfying.

While I very much enjoyed most of the story, it wasn't perfect. (I think I'm harder on stories that are close to perfect than I am on ones that are mediocre.) There was too much "Oh he won't love me because I'm too young" and "Oh he won't love me because I'm too old". Near the end, there was one of those annoying if they'd only TALK TO EACH OTHER, this whole issue would be settled! situation caused because the teen didn't charge his phone for a day (on purpose, he knew it was dead, right after their first big fight).

I'll admit I skimmed the last scene of the story, because it was more sex and the plot was settled by that point. Sex is nice, kinky sex nicer, but the story was over and it was just fluff for me.

This book very much reminded me of Manna Francis/ manna's epic slash original fiction series The Administration. Sex, BDSM, cooking/food played a major role in both, and even mention of an unhappy, pacing jaguar in a zoo. (If you haven't read The Admin yet, I STRONGLY recommend it. Most of the stories are free on her site, and I deeply love the whole series.)

I didn't love For Real as much as a lot of people did, but especially the first half of it I loved a lot. If you're okay with a story about nothing but relationships, with a heaping helping of semi-graphic M/M sex scenes (kinky and not), then you should give this book a try.

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Current Mood: cold cold

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This is really great to watch. Pretty music, great costumes, wonderful dancing, and a Mad Max-like setting.



A comment elsewhere suggested that this was filmed at Burning Man, and all the extras supplied their own costumes. I'd believe that.

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Current Mood: impressed impressed

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Everything about my life right now seems all wrapped up in my coming move, which is odd as it's still a month and a half away. I have my lease signed for the new place, so that's locked up. Good apartment location, right on the back corner, so it should be the most quiet option. Unfortunately I think the afternoon sun will pour in, so that will make it hotter in the summer (no AC, so that's an issue). The unit on the opposite side would be cooler and more private, but I think less safe. It faces a fence to another apartment complex, one a little more run down than the one I'm moving into, so it would be easier to break into with no one seeing it.

Endless worrier that I am, I'm worrying nonstop about the parking situation there (no assigned parking, very small lot -- fewer spots than there are apartments). The thinking part of me says it should be minimally annoying -- once I'm home for the day after work I never want to go back out, and I'd rather not go out on weekends as well, and since I get home from work early I can get a parking spot and not worry about losing it later in the day. But the rest of me? Endless what-ifs and all sorts of images of parking nightmares. It's stupid and pointless to worry (the lease is signed, there's no backing out even if I want to), but I live my life like one of those tiny dogs that trembles endlessly, so I just can't quiet the worry.

I got the moving company reserved already, though I have to call them this morning to give more information. (I sure do wish companies would do more business by email than by phone!)

My current apartment offers a pre-move out inspection, so they can tell me anything that will impact getting my deposit back. That's nice. It's on August 23rd, so I intend to try to have all my cleaning done by then. It's nice that there's so much time, I can do one big task a day instead of having to get it all done NOW NOW NOW.

There was so much paperwork. My new lease was 51 pages long! I tried to read it all (since it was all online and so I had time to do it), but man, I feel like the whole thing is a trap that's just waiting for me to fall into. My ending-lease paperwork for the current apartment was another 20-something pages, including information like, if they find a new person to lease to, they could tell me to leave before my lease is officially ended... (I suppose I have to live on the street then?)

Lease for the new place mentioned that we're close to somewhere with "public entertainment" and there could be noise after hours. I have no idea what that's referring to -- I'd think a sports stadium or something, but there's nothing around the area that I can see. (Maybe it's a default thing they put into leases...)

As I had lived in my last apartment for 10 years, when I moved into my new apartment, I put up wall decals. I'm so sad to be taking them down. Not only are they semi-expensive, but there's no saving them -- when they come down, you throw them out, since they're like big stickers. I really liked them so much, I'll miss having them.

Books! hamsterwoman posted a link to the new Tor.com ebook of the month club -- a free ebook once a month. Win!

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Current Mood: stressed stressed

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That Game We Played During the War by Carrie Vaughn
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



What a well written, lovely little story. (Unfortunately too short to count as a book, so doesn't get a number for the year.) Available online for free at the publisher's website (link above).

The story is set in a fictional nation, one at the end of a decades long war. One race of people are telepaths, the other are not. (The telepaths can read the minds of anyone, including the non-telepaths. All thoughts/feelings/internal reactions are completely and effortlessly transparent to them.) That made things like spying tricky, since the non-telepaths had to figure out other ways to do it. Also, POW camps were worse for the telepaths, even when it was their camp, because they'd feel and experience the non-telepaths' stress, pain, suffering, unhappiness, etc.

All that was setup and background though, the story focused on a non-telepath nurse and the telepath officer she had cared for. Their history together was complex; first he was a POW of her people, under her care (telepath POWs were kept drugged to control their powers), then sometime later she became a POW in a camp he ran. Though on opposite sides of the war, and with that figurative minefield between them, the two still cared for each other and friendship was growing.

While the two were brought together by a game (chess), the title can certainly be taken as not-literal, too. This story was just a really interesting, well-handled story of how cultures can clash, war, and smaller interpersonal interactions. The author's races were completely believable, and I loved everything about this quiet story.

While I'd like to read more by this author, it appears she's only written one (long) book series, and it's not really to my taste. Urban supernatural stuff, with what appears to be an undercurrent of romance.

Currently reading: For Real by Alexis Hall. A toe curlingly good M/M BDSM book.

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Current Mood: thirsty thirsty

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Warclaw by Samantha McGivern
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



This may be the worst book ever to be published. "Published." Self-published.

Through the first couple pages, it started with just bad writing.

The birds tweeted in the trees.

Dear authors: Nowadays 'tweeted' is a bad word to use when referring to bird noises, as Twitter has pretty much coopted the word. I was picturing birds sitting in trees, smartphones in wing, typing away.

The story was about a lone wolf. A real, supposedly normal wolf. Another wolf showed up on the beach he was living on, and she was scared of him. (For some reason, she was occasionally referred to as 'it' by the author.)

It gulped down a ball of saliva.

A ball of saliva? First off, eww. Second, WTF?

The normal, regular, supposedly realistic lone wolf looked into the female wolf's eyes and described them as:

Her eyes were like a titanium safe with a DNA lock and a matching password.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over.

Barely into the first chapter, and the story took a sharp turn. Apparently this female wolf betrayed the lone wolf somehow and got him kicked out of the pack. (Again, these were supposedly just normal wolves...)

Warclaw growled loudly at her, so loud it was possible to hear him from the other side of the forest.

Wolves: Now with built-in megaphones.

Chapter two, and things take another sharp turn. These supposedly normal wolves get human-level plotting and grudges. Warclaw, the lone wolf, apparently has some treasure he keeps in the lighthouse he sleeps in, and suddenly knows the female wolf (Willow) from chapter one is there to steal it for her alpha so she can get in good with the alpha again... Warclaw has ZERO way of knowing this, the knowledge just appears in the story from nowhere. So Warclaw decides to kill her. Dawn breaks, and he attacks her. Next paragraph and it's midday, he's still fighting her. The author repeatedly says the whole battle is Warclaw biting her neck, she lands no return bites on him other than one small one.

By late evening the battle had finally come to an end. A whole day wasted by fighting. The once clean floor was now covered in dark red blood.

So, to be clear, Warclaw spend about 12 hours doing nothing but biting this female wolf's throat trying to kill her...

Willow never stood a wolves chance against him!

Yeah, except for the 12 hours it took him to bite through her throat..?

The book was full of surprises, sometimes multiple surprises in single sentences:

Warclaw had fought many wars over the past few centuries,...

BUH? Wait, wait. This normal wolf... wars... centuries?

...so he knew where to kill quickly and do the most damage.

Twelve. Hours. To. Bite. Through. Her. Throat.

I got three chapters into the book before hitting the end of my time to read for the night. It's really, really, really bad, but one of those rare books that it's so bad it becomes amusing. I moved on to a new book this morning, but I think I won't delete this one and might return to it. Multiple times I laughed out loud at how bad it was, and I'm actually interested to see what other insane things the author comes up with.

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Current Mood: tired tired

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