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

(Art by hamburger.)
Continuing the trend of 'oldest books on my Kindle'... Both of these books had to have been on my Kindle for three or more years. In the case of the first one, I'd NEVER EVER have picked that book today. There's a look all paranormal books have, and that cover fits it to a T. ("You can't tell a book by the cover" is SUCH a lie... at least when it comes to books.)

Boundary Crossed by Melissa F. Olson
Traditional or self-published: Self-published
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

For a book that was completely not to my tastes, this wasn't bad, at least writing-wise. A woman encounters otherworldly creatures (vampires, werewolves, fairies) in our otherwise normal world. As soon as I realized it was paranormal, I stopped reading, since I have no interest in that genre. Got to the 3% point.

The Gemini Effect by Chuck Grossart
Traditional or self-published: Self-published
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

This was one of those "One free book per month for Amazon Prime members" deal. Used to be, since they were free, I always took the book even if it wasn't a good match for my tastes. However, with 300 unread books on my Kindle, I would never do that today.

Anyway, this was horror, which I have no interest in seeing or reading. The plot involved some kind of biological weapon left from the cold war escaping and turning everything it touches into monsters. Stopped reading at 4%.

Partial book credits:
Point reached in these books: 3 + 4 = 7%
Previous abandoned book total: 1,334%
New total: 1,341% (13 books!)

Currently reading: The Mammoth Book of Mind-Blowing SF, the current oldest book on my Kindle.
Theme of this post is: Oldest books on my Kindle. Usually when I pick an older book, I get that "Why didn't I read this sooner!?" reaction. Not this time...

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Set in an alternate version of Earth, magic exists. Each magician is bound to one material -- metal, plastic, rubber, etc. The least popular, and seemingly least useful, is paper. A young, promising magician is forced to bind to paper, and through her we learn it's not that useless at all.

If I had read only the first third of this book, I would have rated it top marks. I LOVED the magic system. Loved the main character. Loved the minor characters.

The downside was the last two-thirds of the book. For the most stupid, cliche reasons ever, the bad guy (woman) steals the main character's teacher's heart. Why? Because he doesn't love her anymore, so of course stealing his heart will fix that. (She is a bad guy, she practices what is basically necromancy, but still.) The whole last two-thirds of the book is spent in the teacher's memories. It just so completely does not work. Luckily I checked Goodreads before forcing myself to finish. Most people agree with me. I gave up at the 60% point, which was much further than I should have gone.

Throne Of The Werewolf by Warren Smith
Traditional or self-published: Self-published
Rating: Hated (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Typical bad self-published book. Lots of typos. Story made little sense. A boy was turning into a werewolf, it ran in his family, but took too long and nothing happened... other than he has golden eyes so apparently he's a super special werewolf. Stopped reading at 17%.

Hunger: A Zombie Novel by Max Allan
Traditional or self-published: Self-published
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

I really, really have no interest at all in zombie books, but this book was on my Kindle so long, I must have added it before Walking Dead pissed me off to the point of hating all zombie stories.

Self published, but didn't have too many typos/mistakes. Main character was completely unlikable though, so add that to zombies and I bowed out fast. Stopped at 14%.

Ratscalibur by Josh Lieb
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

The best thing about this book was the cover. It was a cute story: a boy meets a ratician (a rat who is a magician) and is given a quest. To accomplish the quest, the ratician turns him into a rat.

Problem was, this was a story for very young kids, and the writing style was too simple for me to enjoy. Stopped at 15%.

Partial book credits:
Point reached in these books: 60 + 17 + 14 + 15 = 106%
Previous abandoned book total: 1,228%
New total: 1,334% (13 books!)
Skin and Bone by Stephen Moore
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Sequel to Tooth and Claw (which I reviewed two weeks ago), it followed the same characters, dogs and cats who had been left behind in a town when the humans were forced to evacuate.

While the writing itself was worse than in the first book (more typos/grammar issues -- how does that happen?), I still enjoyed the story a lot. The animals were completely believable as animals; even though they could talk, they had no more knowledge than any dog or cat would.

Unfortunately, like the first book, this one had a supernatural element. I wish the author had chosen to have his world be as realistic as his animal characters were. But, even with that element, I was quite happy with the story.

The Girl They Sold To The Moon by Chris Stevenson
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Hated (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

What a bad book. Set in the near futures, parents could sell/rent/lease their kids. Some single father sold off his teenage daughter for gambling money. The company who bought her sent her to the moon to work as an exotic dancer. The kid, Tilly Breedlove (her birth name, not a stage name), was the most sexy exotic dancer that ever took to a stage. She literally caused riots at how sexual she was.

Not only was the book badly written and the story made no sense, it had a rather disturbing feel of sexualizing underage kids. Tilly was a teenager, but younger kids were sold as well.

Book #28 of 2018: Tooth and Claw

Tooth and Claw by Stephen Moore
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Looking at the cover and the book's blurb, you wouldn't guess this was actually a really well written story.

Abandoned in the depths of winter, the once-pampered pets of men are left to their own fate. It's a battle to survive the cruel weather and the feral cats and dogs. But Man becomes the worst enemy. To survive, the animals must unite in the most desperate fight of their lives.

Very little about that is accurate and it's also so poorly written...

The story does indeed center around animals that were once pets, though very very few of them were ever pampered. Set sometime after World War 1, all of the people in a town are being moved out -- the town is located in what will become a No Man's Land border between two countries. The people are not permitted to bring their animals, so all the cats and dogs are left behind.

This story does what I love most: The animals are able to talk to each other, but in every other way they're completely normal animals. They know and understand no more than any real cat or dog would. So, when all the people leave, the cats and dogs have no idea why or if they're ever coming back. All these house pets have to learn to survive on their own.

There was a supernatural element to the book, which personally I could have done without. But, for a supernatural element, it was handled as realistically as possible. I just wish the author had chosen to go a natural route instead.

I completely believed all of the animals as animals, which is sadly rare when it comes to talking animal books.

Hm, I see there's a sequel, Skin and Bone. I started a different book already, but I think I'll pick that up to read next.

Currently reading: The Girl They Sold To The Moon, which is pretty darned bad. Mostly I'm sticking with it to see just how bad it gets.

Book #27 of 2018: Lifter

Lifter by Kilian Crawford
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Hated (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

This book made me so angry. "Average teenage boy learns how to fly." Seems like an interesting enough idea. Problem was the first half of the book was just average teenage boy in an average life. The only interesting thing about it was that it was written in and set in the 80s, so things were interestingly dated. (Though, since 1980 was only a few years back, I'm not sure how things from them became dated. I need to write a letter of complaint about that...) Anyway, the teenage boy was a hacker, so it was an interesting view of things. For example, I had forgotten that they used to not be called "computers", apparently everyone called them "IBM PCs".

Through the powers of biofeedback, the kid leaned how to fly. (Remember how popular biofeedback had been back then?) I hadn't liked that twist, but was willing to go along with it to see how the story went.

Problem was, the kid was able to teach other people how to fly in just a few minutes. Using the powers of biofeedback. His girlfriend was upset that he was keeping secrets from her, so he taught her how to fly.

And that's where my issues with this story really started. The whole second half of the book was about the two of them arguing about releasing this secret to the public or not. She was pro, he was against. The whole second half of the book was them disagreeing over it.

[Spoilers from here on, so I'll cut it.]

The story's climax was at a football game (So Much Football in this book). At the end of the game the girlfriend flies in with a bunch of other people she taught to fly without boyfriend knowing about it, and the flyers do cheerleading stuff over the stands.

And as the book ends, the boyfriend stands there watching them give away the secret he had discovered... and he's perfectly fine with it. 100% fine. Not a single bad thought about them. He's just all "Oh well, I guess it was good to tell people". It's like the whole second half of the book was a complete waste of time.

What a frustrating book. I have no idea why I finished it.

Currently reading: Tooth and Claw, a pretty darned good animal POV story.
The Soul Keepers by Devon Taylor
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

What an interesting, unique book this was! The first thing that happens in the story is the main character, Rhett, dies. Souls exist in the books's reality, and some special ones become syllektors (those meant to collect other souls and see them safely off). Rhett is one of those special ones, and most of the book is about him learning to become a syllektor, learning about his new home (a ship, sort of, named The Harbinger), and getting to know his fellow syllektors. To me, that was the best part of the book -- the worldbuilding and training. Once we reached the story's conflict/climax, my interest waned a little. But all in all, I completely enjoyed the story. Original and well written.

Free Space by Sean Danke
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Free Space is the second book in the Admiral series. It starts a couple weeks after the first book ended, with the Admiral character dodging security forces trying to kill him.

Like the first book, the whole of this one takes place over the space of just a couple days. I stopped reading at the 51% point, and only one day had passed in the story. That's quite an interesting thing, I don't think I've read a book based on such a short period of time before.

If I had had nothing else to read, I would have finished this book. It wasn't bad, it just didn't hook me anywhere near as much as the first book had.

Partial book credits:
Point reached in this book: 51%
Previous abandoned book total: 1,162%
New total: 1,213%

Book #25 of 2018: Admiral

Admiral by Sean Danker
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

I loved this book... but it also took me forever to read it. While the story had completely hooked me, I was so distracted by non-reading stuff through the last quarter of it.

Four people wake up out of stasis pods on a spaceship. They're alone, just the four of them. Three cadet and one man who had been in a pod marked as the ship's admiral's. But is he really one?

The group has little time to try to figure that out. Their ship crash landed on an uncharted planet. A hostile one.

Bad things kept happening nonstop in the story (it was action-packed, if I wanted to be cliche about phrasing it), but the did so in a holistic way. Sometimes it feels like an author has a checklist or outline of things they want to happen, but this felt completely realistic and natural.

I loved the whole book, and I already have the next two in the series on my Kindle.
While I missed the exact day, my LJ turned 16 last week.

First post ever: August 15th, 2002 at 5:35 PM

Isn't that kind of scary? My blog here is old enough to almost be considered an adult.

While I don't post much non-book review stuff anymore (my life is so boring!), I do read my entire friends list. For a while I was doing it only once a week, but I've gotten better about that and now read it a few times a week. I feel a lot more connected with people that way.

Happily the LJ Archive tool still works for me (not everyone is that lucky), so I have an offline backup, as well as an out-of-date online backup at thistlechaser.dreamwidth.org.

Elsewhere you can find me very active on Tumblr (mikhasunthistle.tumblr.com), but that's 100% gaming stuff, nothing RL at all.


I'm so tired of dishonest authors. Two out of these three books are self-published, but as is the trend in self-publishing, they do what they can to hide that fact. The author of one of the books, the Sidekick one, actually wrote: "In an attempt to ... look more professional, I created an entirely fictitious publishing imprint."

On to the reviews...

Song and Signal by M. E. Patterson
Traditional or self-published: Self-published
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

I enjoyed the beginning of this book. An orphaned boy being raised by an alien in some mining colony. The human race on its way to extinction. Most humans left doing grunt work, like mining, basically slaves to the other races. But this boy was different -- having been raised by the alien, he knew a lot more about the "Internet" of the universe.

Then the story went all over the place. An Evil Evil McEvil company. Some kind of assassin with nanotech added into his DNA.

If the book had focused just on the kid, I might have stuck with it to the end, but the other parts (especially the black/white E-V-I-L company) were too much for me and I stopped reading at the 50% point.

The Rule of Three by Eric Walters
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

This book should have been a good match for me, but instead somehow was a complete miss.

Set in current times, something happens to make all computers stop working. Every computer. Computers in cars, phones, everything. A teenage boy, the former spy who lives next door, and his somehow completely useless police chief mother have to cope.

My biggest issues with this book were the mother character and the ex-spy character. The mother, the city's police chief, somehow was completely useless and ineffective. The former spy, a man, continually stepped in to tell her what to do, correct her when she was wrong, etc. He was kind about it, they were friends in the story, but she's a chief of police, she should be able to handle these things without a man's guiding hand.

It might just be because I just finished marathoning both seasons of Handmaid's Tale, but I cannot cope with that kind of thing right now. Stopped reading at 15%.

The Sidekicks Initiative: A Comedy Superhero Adventure by Barry J. Hutchison
Traditional or self-published: Self-published
Rating: Hated (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

When a book is subtitled "A Comedy Superhero Adventure", if it's humor doesn't work for you, there are problems. Nothing in this book was funny to me. Every "joke" in it annoyed me because it was the opposite of funny. The non-humor parts of the story worked for me no better than the jokes. Stopped reading at 8%.

Partial book credits:
Point reached in these books: 50% + 15% + 8%= 73%
Previous abandoned book total: 1,089%
New total: 1,162%

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