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(Art by hamburger.)
Aisling, Book One: Guardian by Carole Cummings
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

I loved Carole Cummings's other books. Her Wolves-Own books were some of my favorite I ever read. Based on reviews and word of mouth, her Aisling series was supposedly even better, so I was really looking forward to reading it.

I just finished the first book of it, and unfortunately it just never hooked me. I gave it more of a chance than any book I ever read before (I read the entire book and 10% of the next book), but it just never caught my interest.

Set in some other wild west-type world, where gods were real, one person (the Aisling) had some kind of magical powers. Something about his dreams, he could control reality through them. Of course everyone wanted him for that power.

He was 'caught' by lawman, and the two started the slow, slow, sloooowwwww journey to getting to know each other. (The books are M/M, but in this one, the extent of that was they each had a thought about each other. Once. One thought about being physical with the other in the whole book.)

I don't mind slow character development, but I just need more spice in my stories in general. It was a nice story. The characters were nice, good people. The world it was set in was nice. The writing was very good. Unfortunately nothing in it hooked me.

Aisling, Book One: Dream by Carole Cummings
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Not about to give up, even though the first book didn't hold my interest, I started the second. It wasn't too long before I had to give in and admit that I was just bored, and gave up on the book.

Like the first book, everything was fine in this story. The writing was good, the characters were nice. The plot was a continuation of the first book (the two main characters on the road together, trying to avoid everyone), but it just wasn't to my taste.

Point reached in this book: 10%
Previous abandoned book total:87%
New total: 10% + 87% = 97%

Quick post-trip post

Being offline for a week is rough. Even with my phone, I couldn't keep up with anything. Not to mention there's a week worth of work waiting for me at my job...

My poor kitty has brain damage from being at the vet for a week. She wanders around the apartment and calls for me as if she were lost (or I was?). She also wakes up abruptly and calls for me. At the moment, she's behind my bed and will call for me every few minutes, which is odd since she has a cat bed on the desk within arm's reach of me... Kitty brains are odd.

It was very good to see my mother, and we did some fun things in Maine. Two zoos (York was wonderful, the Grey Animal Rehab center was bad to the point I worried for the animals). The weather was awful (every day but one the high was 55 and it rained). The last day was in the 70s and beautiful, and I got a bad sunburn at the zoo. :P

Unfortunately the flights, especially coming home, were awful. Eight hours of delays in Chicago (some kind of issue with the San Francisco air traffic controllers). Then they lost my bag... It's been 24 hours now, and still no sign of it. On one hand, United "knows" it's in San Francisco, so technically it's not really lost? But I'm not a big clothing person -- I only own five pairs of pants I could wear to work, and four of them are in my bag. The loss of it would be a very big issue for me. The baggage delivery company they use sucks. I can't get an ETA or even acknowledgement that my bag even exists, 24 hours later.

Uber is such a wonderful thing. For $14 I got a ride from the San Jose airport (see the issue with my bag being in San Francisco?). I did have to share it with one other person, and that person got dropped off first even though I was picked up first, but still! Fast trip, cheap price. It was the high point of my trip home.

It's so good to be back!

Edit: Good work, United. Apparently my bag was sitting in San Francisco all day, because they didn't know I wanted it delivered. Even though I filled out a delivery form with the United baggage support person and have a copy of it in my hand... It would have just stayed in that other airport if I hadn't had called to check.


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

I almost never reread books (I have too many new ones to read!) but I loved Warchild so very much, I've been itching to reread it. I read it for the first time on my vacation last year, so seemed like a good idea to reread it during my vacation this year.

At first I thought I lost the magic of the book. Through the first section (the second-person POV when the main character is the youngest), I actually didn't like it... It was only a couple days later that I realized the issue was probably me and not the book. (I was on a redeye flight, started reading it at 3 AM when all I really wanted to do was sleep, and I was bored and unhappy. Not at all a good mindset for reading.)

Anyway, after that first day of reading, I LOVED it. Gah, the journey the main character (Jos) takes! Rollercoaster of emotions! Nonstop questioning of who he can trust and who will break their relationship with him this time! Not to mention, all the abuse he suffers! Ugh, this book, it broke my heart and I loved it for doing so.

As with my first reading, I hated the ending, but only because it was an ending. I want need MORE MORE MORE of Jos and Niko! At least, unlike my first time reading, I didn't think books 2 and 3 would give me more of their story (talk about a major disappointment!).

In my earlier review of it (here, I wrote:

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.

That still holds true. I loved this book so very much, and I want to read it a third time... without waiting for next year's vacation.

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen
Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Book received free for review from publisher.

It kind of feels cliche when reviewers compare a book to Hunger Games, but this book used the same idea. Take the Hunger Games, but make all the kids willingly involved, and you get this book.

Set in the near future, some company founds a material (Nyxia) on another planet. Nyxia is able to be almost literally anything. Need a universal translator? Need a camera? Need medical equipment? Need a power supply for your iPod? It can be anything just by thinking about what you want it to be. It can do anything. (I'll admit I had some serious issues believing it, but... fictional book. I tried to just accept it and go with the story. And, by the end, I was suspecting that the future books would make me believe it.)

Problem was, the planet had aliens on it, and the aliens kept trying to kill off the humans. For whatever reason, aliens really like children, so the company recruited a bunch of kids to go to the planet and mine the Nyxia. (Again, my ability to believe the story was being stretched.)

The company, being a typical coldblooded, money-grubbing company, set up a contest to see which kids would get to go to the planet. Typical fighting, breaking them, testing them, giving them an okay to kill each other, all that.

I actually stopped reading the book at the 30% point, but I did something I've not done in years: I went back to it and finished it. And amazingly, even though I returned to it after a book I loved (Warchild), I got back into Nyxia and read the whole thing. (I never ever usually like the book I read a book I loved.)

When I finished the book, I was somewhat frowny. There was so much I had a hard time believing (including multiple characters, which is usually the kiss of death for a book), I had felt sure I wouldn't read the rest of the books in the series. But it's been a couple days now, and oddly I cannot stop thinking about this book. I'd read the second book if it were out now. While the book did not end on a cliffhanger (kudos for the author!), it did leave a whole lot of the story left unexplored, including the true nature of Nyxia.

It's rare that I question so hard what to rate a book. There was a lot about Nyxia that didn't work for me, and at the time I was reading it, I wasn't hooked or completely liking it, but it's like it hooked me once the book was finished... I had been pretty certain about ranking it an 'okay' but I guess I'll switch it to 'liked'.

Book 20 of 2017: Skullsworn

Skullsworn by Brian Staveley
Rating: LOVED (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Know the trope "A woman has to meet and fall in love with a man in a short time or something bad happens"? Imagine that trope written in the most un-romance book way possible, and you'd get this book.

This book. This wonderful book. I was crying by the end, and I didn't even know if they were happy or sad tears.

The story is told in first person from the POV of a woman in training to become a priestess of the god of death. She's just starting her Trial to become a full priestess. To beat her Trial, she has to kill ten people. One of those ten is someone she loves.

For a woman without family and who never has been in love, that's one giant stumbling block. She has 14 days to complete her trial, which means she has to fall in love and then kill that person within two weeks.

But that's just the tip of the plot iceberg! There's a man she felt a connection to in the past (did she love him? She doesn't know herself, so we never know either). She travels back to the city she grew up in to find him and see if she can make herself fall in love with him.

There's wonderfully complex world building, and the characters are just so damned amazingly realistic. Politics, a revolution, and all sorts of different gods. The story's world felt like it had some serious history behind it, you could feel the weight of that past in all the details. The writing as a whole was outstanding! (That feels like such faint praise compared to what this book deserves.) I should be in bed and asleep right now, but I couldn't possibly sleep until I got all this written up.

One of the best things about the book was the character's journey. She came to understand love and death, and I feel like I made just the same journey through her.

Plus the story does not end how you expect it to, in so many ways. Every single one of the book's many plotlines ended in ways I never would have guessed.

I loved the characters so so so much. Now that I know how it ended, I want to read the book again so I don't have to say goodbye to them can see what I missed as I read without knowing the truths we learned at the end.

Ugh, this book. It was so good! Reading the Amazon reviews, people thought this was bad compared to his first trilogy. That boggles me, because if this was "bad" then his other books must be out of this world. Well, I'll know eventually, because I'm going to read them soon!

Reading next: Nyxia by Scott Reintgen, because I accepted it for review, so now have to read it even though I'd rather read something else. I'm sure it's a good book as well, it sounds interesting, but I'd really rather read Brian Staveley's other books.
Okay, maybe not miles. In an effort at things, I'm trying to work up to that whole "walk 10,000 steps a day" thing. (I know for some of you out there, that's a joke. But for me, who is on a computer all day at work, then on a computer all day after work, it's not ever anything I've even gotten close to.) Apparently you can break that 10,000 steps down into as small of units as you want, so I'm breaking them down into 100 steps at a time. (The goal of this isn't to get your heart rate up, just to not be sedentary.)

Small steps. Not literal small steps. Small steps towards reaching 10,000 steps. Apparently walking in place counts just as much as walking to go somewhere, so I stand next to my computer and do 100 frequently. That's worked so far at home, but tomorrow I go back to the office, so I'm not sure how well that will go there...

And speaking of work, changes are a'brewing...

Why would a company want to cut its workforce down by so much?Collapse )

In gaming news, the MMO I play (FFXIV) has an expansion coming out in June. Today was a four hour long preview of all the changes, all shown by the producer (man who saved the whole game). It was so fun and exciting to watch it all, especially since my whole guild watched it online together. It's such a cool, amazing experience to get excited over stuff with people from around the world. We have one person from Africa, one from South America, a bunch from across Europe, and lots from North America. All of us together, excited over this online thing. :)

2017 book: Madness on the Orient Express

Madness on the Orient Express: 16 Lovecraftian Tales of an Unforgettable Journey by James Lowder (editor)
Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

I have zero interest in the Orient Express.
I've never read any, and I'm not interested in, Lovecraftian stories.

Then why did I pick up this book? There's an author I love, James Sutter, and he has a story in it. I'm reading everything of his I can get my hands on.

I was surprised that I enjoyed most stories in this book. None of them were outright scary, though a number were creepy and a couple had some gross scenes. Most of them were well written and kept my interest.

Nicely, every story in this book was written by an author in the gaming field. Most of them were traditional tabletop game writers, though a few were videogame writers.

Sutter's story was the third to last one, and by the time I reached it, I pretty much had enough of this genre. I read the second to last one, but gave up in the middle of the final one, ending at the 87% point. It wasn't the fault of the story, I just was at my limit of stories about a subject I didn't really care about.

Point reached in this book: 87%
Previous abandoned book total: 0%
New total: 87% + 0% = 87%

Currently reading: Skullsworn by Brian Staveley.

Looks like it's not coming out until fall though, so still a long wait. (And only on CBS All Access...)

Cotton Candy Grapes

Did you know grapes that taste like cotton candy are a thing?

Did you know that they really, really taste like cotton candy?

They were in the supermarket today, and since I was intending to buy a package of them, I snuck one out to try. I was amazed!

Alas, when I got to the checkout counter, they rang up as $10. $5 a pound, but I had no idea the bags were two pounds each. I put them back -- I don't want to spend $10 for grapes, and doubt I could eat two pounds of them before they went bad.

But they were really good! I like regular grapes, but these were so much better.

I suspect you're not supposed to, but I might go back tomorrow and rearrange the bags so one has less in it, because I can't stop thinking about those grapes...

A video about them:

Edit: Wow, that's an awful image the video is paused on...

Book #19 of 2017:

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is a Harry Potter fanfic that's longer than all of the HP books put together. My rule for including fanfics in my 50 book per year goal was that I had to read it completely and it has to be longer than multiple books.

I've read and reviewed this book a couple times now (this reading is number 4!), you can see my other reviews here and here. I love that fic so much, I'm ready to start it from the beginning again.

Currently reading: Madness on the Orient Express: 16 Lovecraftian Tales of an Unforgettable Journey, which is so completely not something I would usually read, but an author I like has a story in it, so I'm giving it a try. Surprisingly, I'm enjoying it quite a bit!

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