Monday, May 25, 2015

Nostalgia Review:: The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge, by Harry Harrison

Title: The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge
Author: Harry Harrison
Series: The Stainless Steel Rat, #2 (Publication Order)
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★☆

Still Good?


This series is honestly my favorite skiffy series of all time. Our intrepid hero, Slippery Jim diGriz is at it again. He's hooked up with the beautiful Angelina who is due for twins and will stop at nothing to entwine him in nuptials. Unfortunately, said nuptials put him back on the grid and the Special Forces have a new assignment for him.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Review:: Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor

Title: Akata Witch
Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Series: Akata Witch, #1
Format: eBook
Rating: ★★★★☆

Reading Akata Witch directly after Alanna makes it difficult not to compare the two of them. It doesn't help that pretty much everywhere Alanna failed, Akata Witch succeeded. Like I said... there's a many much better books marketed to young women these days. Akata Witch is one of them.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Review:: Alanna: The First Adventure, by Tamora Pierce

Title: Alanna: The First Adventure
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: Song of the Lioness, #1
Format: eBook
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Despite my friends going through a Tamora Pierce phase, I never really did. As such, this is my first time reading Alanna, and while in some ways I was pleasantly surprised, in others I was really left wanting or I was simply annoyed. I can easily see how this was a formative book for many of my peers, but I feel that YA for young women has grown to the point that we have things that are much better.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Review:: Embassytown, by China Miéville

Title: Embassytown
Author: China Miéville
Format: eBook
Rating: ★★★★★

It's no secret I like China Miéville. (Alert: I like China Miéville.) However, as much as I love his works, Embassytown was the cream of the crop. Alien aliens, a beautiful breakdown of politics (during a breakdown), some absolutely stunning linguistics-play, and even further elevated and intoxicating Miéville prose. Yum.

Just a note: this is this the book The Legendary Book Club of Habitica is currently reading. If you want in, there's still plenty of time! Join HabitRPG, the guild itself (you must be logged in to see the guild), and our Goodreads group to get involved. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Review:: 2312, by Kim Stanley Robinson

Title: 2312
Author: Kim Stanley Robinson
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★☆☆

As I read 2312, I went, "Huh, I can see why this won the Nebula and was a Tiptree nominee." Unfortunately, while there was a lot I did like about it, there was also quite a bit that just didn't work for me. The ideas and worldbuilding was fabulous, but I never felt a connection to any of the characters, the plot was slow and clunky, and the writing just didn't hold my interest.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review:: Iron Shadows, by Steven Barnes

Title: Iron Shadows
Author: Steven Barnes
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

This is, hands-down, the worst book I have ever read. The prose is awful. The plot is awful. The issues are treated in offensive and gross ways. The pacing sucks. I'm trying to think of something nice to say. ...wait for it. Nope.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review:: Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh

Title: Hyperbole and a Half
Author: Allie Brosh
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★★

Allie Brosh has a remarkable ability to make me laugh out loud, whether she's covering light topics, like her dogs, or serious topics, like depression. And the best part is, even though it's humor, she never takes the easy crack and makes things seem less important or serious than they really are.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Review:: Calculating God, by Robert J. Sawyer

Title: Calculating God
Author: Robert J. Sawyer
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★☆☆

What happens when an atheist tries to write a book that makes intelligent design make sense? Apparently a lot of fun, a well done First Contact, alien aliens who find our thoughts of what aliens must be ridiculous, and a redefinition of God. Unfortunately, Calculating God suffers from a weak ending, but otherwise, it's totally worth the ride.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Review:: Dreams and Shadows, by C. Robert Cargill

Title: Dreams and Shadows
Author: C. Robert Cargill
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★★☆

Okay. Let's be honest. Being an Austinite who's a little homesick, I might be a bit biased on this one. But it was plenty of fun, with well-built suspense, writing with just the right tone, and fantastic urban fantasy fairy tale worldbuilding. The added beastiary bits only made it better.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Review:: Doktor Glass, by Thomas Brennan

Title: Doktor Glass
Author: Thomas Brennan
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★☆☆

A steampunk tale that embraces early Victorian science, rather than entirely rewriting it, Doktor Glass is a fun read. The mystery and suspense feels genuine, the protagonist feels sincere, and while the backdrop isn't the most inventive, it feels more honest than many steampunk stories.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Review:: Tempted, by Paul Micheals

Title: Tempted
Author: Paul Micheals
Format: Kindle
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

I'm really tired of coming of age stories being obsessed with sex. I'm also really tired of plots that revolve around men being beasts that can't possibly do anything in the face of a beautiful woman. There's a lot Paul Micheals put into this story that could have been good, if it weren't for all the weird sexist microaggressions and melodrama.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Review:: In Between, by R.A. MacAvoy

Title: In Between
Author: R.A. MacAvoy
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

A completely forgettable novella with awkward writing at times, In Between didn't even leave me with a lot of thoughts. The whitening of East Asian religions did bother me, but not as much as the yawn-worthiness of the story itself.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Review:: Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie

Title: Ancillary Sword
Author: Ann Leckie
Series: Imperial Radch, #2
Format: eBook
Rating: ★★★★☆

What if Iain M. Banks' Culture series had a baby with Ursula K. LeGuin's Hainish Cycle? You'd get Ancillary Sword, an awesome book of its own right. It's uncannily savvy about some of the best things: power, oppression, gender, and self-identity. All with a nice dose of machine empathy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Review:: Resurrection Day, by Brendan DuBois

Title: Resurrection Day
Author: Brendan DuBois
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

A "what-if" alternate history, where the Cuban Missile Crisis turned into an all-out nuclear war, Resurrection Day appears to be heavily researched... but somehow misses that an all-out nuclear war would create more than a local catastrophe. Unfortunately, that's not the only issue.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Review:: Transhumanism, by Ben Bova

Title: Transhuman
Author: Ben Bova
Format: Hardback
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

When you're writing fiction, especially realistic science fiction, it's important to maintain your reader's suspension of disbelief. Unfortunately, Transhuman ruins it almost immediately out of the gates, having characters continually make implausible choices to make the mediocre plot continue forward.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Review:: Broken, by Susan Jane Bigelow

Title: Broken
Author: Susan Jane Bigelow
Format: Paperbook
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Annoying, eye-rolling dialogue paired with cardboard cut-out characters, Broken really fails to hold its own. Then the book tries to deal with issues like trauma, polyamory, and anarchism, but does so in a way that just makes the author uniformed. Oh, and the book is padded. Huge margins and text, so the publisher could make it to 300 pages.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Review:: Secrets of Selkie Bay, by Shelley Moore Thomas

Title: Secrets of Selkie Bay
Author: Shelley Moore Thomas
Format: Physical ARC
Rating: ★★★★★

I received an ARC of this book from Oakland Public Library in return for a review.

Too often, middle grade novelists oversimplify their works, leaving the age group with overtly moralistic novels that have cardboard characters and exceedingly simple prose. Secrets of Selkie Bay escapes that trap, with deceptively complex themes, characters with multiple facets, and morals without moralizing. Plus, it's magical realism with selkies.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Review:: Rapture, by Kameron Hurley

Title: Rapture
Author: Kameron Hurley
Series: Bel Dame Apocrypha, #3
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★☆


Hnnn. <3 Rapture gave me whatever ephemeral something was missing. Less of an action ride than Infidel and more confident than God's War, Rapture brings the Bel Dame Apocrypha arc to just the right end, with everyone in their respective places.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Review:: Saga, Volume 2, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Title: Saga, Volume 2
Author: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Format: Collected Comics Paperback
Rating: ★★★★☆
Previous: Volume 1
It felt like very little happened in Volume 2, but that was a-okay with me because all of that extra time that could have been used to advance the plot was instead put towards making me fall in love with the main characters. Good choice, Saga. Good choice.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Review:: Soulminder, by Timothy Zahn

Title: Soulminder
Author: Timothy Zahn
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Soulminder had a lot of potential. Potential that in some ways, it filled, but in others, it left me wanting. All-in-all, it's a pretty easy read with an entertaining plot, but the plot holes and stereotypes get to you after a while.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Review:: V for Vendetta by Alan Moore

Title: V for Vendetta
Author: Alan Moore
Artist: David Lloyd
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Every time I read one of Alan Moore's books, I have pretty much the same reaction: "Wow. This would be so good if Alan Moore weren't sexist, racist, and homophobic." And then I sigh wistfully. V for Vendetta has a phenomenal story to tell, but it would have been so much better if the female characters weren't portrayed so awfully.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Review:: The Reaper's Daughter, by K.M. Randall

Title: The Reaper's Daughter
Author: K.M. Randall
Format: eBook ARC
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

I received this ARC from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Blake just turned 18 and found out her mom's not dead—her mom's actually Death. And needs her help. Seemingly self-aware and not taking itself too seriously, The Reaper's Daughter could have been a rather good book. Unfortunately, it suffers from plot holes, cardboard characters, and writing that just kept getting on my nerves.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Review:: The Stories of Eva Luna, by Isabel Allende

Title: The Stories of Eva Luna
Author: Isabel Allende
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Isabel Allende's style works well for short stories; many of her novels feel like short stories entwined into a longer piece of fiction. In many ways, The Story of Eva Luna is Allende at her best: sensual and startling, heavy with magical realism, and handling serious issues with beauty and gravity. Unfortunately, I felt like many of the stories were fleeting, leaving me with no impact. The ones that did, though, were well worth my time.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

News and Stuff:: The Legendary Book Club of Habitica!

Some of you may be aware that I'm a moderator on a gamified productivity site called HabitRPG. If you haven't heard of it, you should really check it out. But that's not what I'm here to talk about. I'm talking about the book club I've been running there! Next up is Embassytown and if you want more info (like how to join in on the action), it'll be after the jump.

Review:: Fables: Legends in Exile, by Bill Willingham

Title: Fables: Legends in Exile
Author: Bill Willingham
Series: Fables, #1
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★☆☆

I think I read this a long time ago? Closer to when it first came out. Regardless, it was quite enjoyable, and less predictable than most plots I come across. The premise is also a fun one that allows for good morality play and tension.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Review:: Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis

Title: Doomsday Book
Author: Connie Willis
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

In some ways, I enjoyed Doomsday Book more than Blackout/All Clear. In other ways, I felt it was worse. But mostly, I had this continual feeling I was reading the same exact book, just with slightly different circumstances.