I vaguely recall reading a few of these "Death in..." books a while ago. Mostly romantic suspense. This one was entertaining enough, but while MirandaI vaguely recall reading a few of these "Death in..." books a while ago. Mostly romantic suspense. This one was entertaining enough, but while Miranda is semi-redoubtable, she's one of those people who have a lot of things happen to them, but never jump to any logical conclusions, or do anything particularly proactive.
Also very much of-its-era in terms of racial attitudes....more
Enjoyable slice-of-life about a girl who knocks out her two front teeth. (view spoiler)[Very glad she ditched those friends. They weren't necessarilyEnjoyable slice-of-life about a girl who knocks out her two front teeth. (view spoiler)[Very glad she ditched those friends. They weren't necessarily evil friends, but it looked like Raina was the designated lowest-on-the-totem-pole of the group, and that's a bad place to be. While the theme of the story is about focusing on what you care about rather than caring about how people see you, I think a LARGE part of Raina's transition here was nothing about her teeth, or how she behaved, but instead moving to a different group of people who did not see her as the one to be picked upon. (hide spoiler)]...more
This is a rough book to start, opening in the midst of a battle that serves to establish the conditions of the Empire our POV character Cheris serves.This is a rough book to start, opening in the midst of a battle that serves to establish the conditions of the Empire our POV character Cheris serves. The army runs on conditioning that makes orders almost impossible to disobey, and the Empire is ruled by a hive mind that throws lives away almost casually, its rule and weapons powered by a combination of mathematics, symbolism, and religious adherence to the Calendar. There's a LOT being thrown at the reader during this opening battle, but it does serve to establish how outright horrible battles are in this universe (where reality-twisting storms braid the soldiers into unlovely corpses), and also that Cheris is excellent at maths-on-the-go, and a little more able to step outside strict adherence to the Calendar to use 'heretical' forms.
She's a useful, adaptive mind, in other words, for all she's conditioned to absolute obedience, and the political game-players think she's just what they need to crack the seemingly unsolvable problem of an impenetrable rebelling fortress. Cheris' proposed solution - to pull a homicidal general out of virtual cold storage - shifts the focus to the relationship between obedient mind and murderous mind, and thoroughly kept my attention right to the end.
It's a good, strong book. I'll be interested to see where the next story goes....more
A corporate-funded attempt to settle Mars gets defunded after the settlers arrive, and the company isn't interested in spending the money it would takA corporate-funded attempt to settle Mars gets defunded after the settlers arrive, and the company isn't interested in spending the money it would take to get them back to Earth. Mary, once a company biologist with an interest in lichen, starts a pub and makes the best of things.
This is a fairly light-hearted, mildly humorous novel. It took me a while to figure out what it reminded me of, which is Pratchett's Discworld stories: a cast of broadly-drawn characters, with the book taking diversions into their background, while we follow a story of historical progress. It doesn't have Pratchett's wit or way with words, but it's likeable enough and kept my attention (except for a bit of middle-story drearies).
On the down side, there were a few things that hit my regular dislikes. Mary is relatively active and one of the stubborn-determined style of female character - but there are always men around her who know more about what's going on than she does. Her daughters are...well, I don't see them having much in the way of interests or ambitions and intellectual life, and their plots are more about being sulky or uncertain or angry while the men they marry actually do things.
I may try another Baker some time in the future, but this doesn't have me rushing to grab more....more
Polar City Blues holds up very well for SF first published in 1990. Of course, I'm inclined to like tales mixing psychics, aliens, and murder mysteriePolar City Blues holds up very well for SF first published in 1990. Of course, I'm inclined to like tales mixing psychics, aliens, and murder mysteries. Kerr has built a universe which deliberately 'others' Caucasians, which succeeds reasonably well.
If I had a negative, it would be the use of 'crazies' as one of the obstacles. Oh, and the multiple links to old Earth culture in this far future. There's no reason sports like baseball wouldn't survive interplanetary dispersal, but that in particular makes this feel like a very American future.
It's always fascinating to see what people envisage future tech to be like in books written before smartphones. There's a few places where difficulties could be overcome if people could just text and email each other, but otherwise the belt-comm was pretty good.
(view spoiler)[I also thought the strong military woman who decided she would enjoy having a young man around to spoil and protect was rather fun. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Waking up from cryosleep on a semi-abandoned ship, and trying to work out what the heck is going on is a situation fraught with potential. When you haWaking up from cryosleep on a semi-abandoned ship, and trying to work out what the heck is going on is a situation fraught with potential. When you have three new military graduates and a highly suspicious admiral who might or might not be a spy, you definitely have a plot with lots of hooks.
'Admiral' starts out very strong, although it sadly peters out into a mainly action-focused conclusion. Not uninteresting at the very end, but not a story that lives up to, say, a Vorkosigan novel. The characters also weren't very imaginative (view spoiler)[and plainly had never seen the old Earth movie Aliens - which I'm presuming this story was a deliberate homage to, since it was just full of paralells - up to and including all the colonists off having a town meeting. (hide spoiler)].
Not bad with the female characters, although there's a definite impression that the one person who matters to the story is our nameless POV, and the rest are just transients to his larger tale.
Will consider picking at the next in the series, but not an absolute must.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A vampire bookstore owner. That sounded like a book for me! And it was...okay.
You know, I think I would have preferred a slice of life vampire bookstoA vampire bookstore owner. That sounded like a book for me! And it was...okay.
You know, I think I would have preferred a slice of life vampire bookstore owner, rather than an ex-Hunter dealing with all the trouble that turned up in town.
There were none of the obnoxious things that usually turn me off urban fantasy/paranormal, but at the same time...the story has two main female POV's. One's the vampire/ex-Hunter, and the other's a teen who has been raised as a monster hunter. Pretty bad-ass, you'd think, the pair of them. And yet there was a lot of being off-foot, apologetic, less knowledgeable than that guy over there kind of thing going on.
Nothing wrong with the book - I think a lot of people would like it - just wasn't what I was hoping for, I guess....more
A short story that sets out some of the terms and expectations of Russell's marriage, along with giving us a glimpse into the Holmes family backgroundA short story that sets out some of the terms and expectations of Russell's marriage, along with giving us a glimpse into the Holmes family background....more
A series of short stories about Lady Hardcastle and her maid Flo, who have taken to country life in part to avoid an assassin. They basically play atA series of short stories about Lady Hardcastle and her maid Flo, who have taken to country life in part to avoid an assassin. They basically play at being detective.
The first three stories were okay, although didn't quite feel 'true' to the period (almost everyone they meet is very accepting of their informality - along with tremendously admiring of almost everything they do).
The first two stories also made me wonder if there were any competent likeable women in the world who weren't the two main characters, but it got a little better after that.
The final story got more into the espionage side, and was a bit peppier and faster-moving than the previous three. Will possibly go on with the series, but not really captured by it....more
I hadn't tried any Seanan McGuire before, so picked this up when it came up as an audiobook special. The story is relatively light in tone, even as itI hadn't tried any Seanan McGuire before, so picked this up when it came up as an audiobook special. The story is relatively light in tone, even as it emphasises the darkness of the fairytales that are the core of this world.
The story revolves around a government agency dedicated to preventing the driving narrative of fairytales from attaching itself to people and forcing them into the roles and plot events of the story. So random people are forever in danger of becoming Sleeping Beauty, or the Big Bad Wolf, or whatever tale matches their circumstances the best.
I found Indexing an entertaining story, a bit episodic, amusing in parts (sometimes in a way that encourages the reader to squee over some cool bit of darkness), with a likable enough main character in Henrietta.
Most of the characters are larger-than-life - in part a consequence of them slotting into fairytale roles. There's a bland romance, and a much more interesting relationship between Henrietta and Sloane, a suppressed evil step-sister.
There were a few minor negatives - tedious time spent on restricting protocols and the characters justifying actions to the agent-in-charge, which simply didn't make sense given the high threat alert - and my credulity snapped at the idea of anyone working for this agency for more than a week not knowing what the monomyth is. There also seemed to be (and it was hard to be sure since I was listening to an audiobook and couldn't flip back to check) quite a few minor continuity errors - mainly about the rules of the agency and minor character notes.
So, fun enough, kept me interested. Would listen to another if I fell across it and was short of other options, but not so compelled to rush out and look for more....more
The beginning of a series set in the 'nameless city' - a place that sits at a crucial trading bottleneck, and thus is constantly conquered and reconquThe beginning of a series set in the 'nameless city' - a place that sits at a crucial trading bottleneck, and thus is constantly conquered and reconquered by the three large surrounding civilisations. Told from the viewpoint of a young boy belonging to the current ruling conquerors, it offers a brief introduction into the tensions between the rulers and those whose city is constantly changing hands.
Kei and Rat are two youngsters forming an association across the divide, but it's the stoic female bodyguard I found way more interesting. But this is, as noted, an 'introduction' and so the story feels over almost before it's begun. So, enjoyable but brief. The story is also very short on female characters - Rat and the bodyguard and Kei's mother and that's it....more
This is another of the espionage-type very cheap audiobooks I picked up a while back - I'd seen the book about as a constant feature at the top of AmaThis is another of the espionage-type very cheap audiobooks I picked up a while back - I'd seen the book about as a constant feature at the top of Amazon bestselling lists, and figured I'd check it out and see why it was so popular.
Unlike the last espionage book I listened to, I at least made it to the end of the story (150 tiny chapters!). High pace, and enough to keep the interest, though still heavy on cliches and women who are there to be rescued or have sex with or refuse to be left behind. It's also a bit iffy on racial depictions, with only minor role non-white characters who fall into common stereotypes (corrupt Asian man, mystical monk, dirt-poor villagers).
It's one of those series that ends on a cliff-hanger to make you pick up the next book, but although moderately entertained I didn't care enough about the people or events to carry on. Still, if you're looking for something that's a bit Indiana Jones without much of the charm, you might enjoy this....more
One day, when I have enormous amounts of spare money, I will think very hard about commissioning the middle story of this set of 3 into a graphic novel. It's very visual and a little Alice in Wonderland.
(Readers of my SF will note some world-building parallels with And All the Stars.)...more
This is a thriller rather than a zombie novel. I picked it up on a super-cheap sale at Audible, and it was a handy reminder of why I usually don't reaThis is a thriller rather than a zombie novel. I picked it up on a super-cheap sale at Audible, and it was a handy reminder of why I usually don't read thrillers.
The story started out by establishing Ledger, our main character, as a bad-ass wise-cracker, and that was tolerable (even though the only women appearing were 'bikinis'). But I quickly stopped caring, and flipped to the end of of the 126 (!) chapters.
The main theme seems to be that people were being 'marked' by events - immensely and irretrievably changed - and people who are born warriors.
I tuned out around the point that we were introduced to the villains. Bond-villainish guy full of contempt for the terrorist he is using, and complicated tremendously beautiful villain lady married to terrorist and really working for Bond-villain guy while she cooks up zombie plagues.
Other than villain lady there is inevitable love interest on Ledger's side, women to be rescued, blah blah blah. Basically a not-for-me book....more
Action-packed military SF that took me two months to get through. There's nothing particularly bad in this story, but I kept picking it up less and leAction-packed military SF that took me two months to get through. There's nothing particularly bad in this story, but I kept picking it up less and less and then went into a two-month non-reading stint (busy writing) until I finally finished it.
It's a very Heinlein-esque story, but lacks any kind of layer. The POV character has minimal-to-no inner life and so "Terms of Enlistment" simply reads as a detailed description of military training, some combat, until a 'series plot' starts up in the last five chapters.
The Earth in this story is basically a dystopia. Earth and (up to a hundred) human colonies are divided between a US-centric side and a Russian/Chinese side (no explanation for why). There appears to be frequent fighting between the two, but the US-centric side seems to control Earth and indulges in punitive put-down-the-natives actions. The US is also dominated by ghettos, and our POV character is basically clawing his way out of a ghetto via a military career.
One of the things that really stood out to me is that the protagonist tells us all this, but never reflects on any of it (beyond some self-justification about him being okay killing people). (view spoiler)[Even when there's a conspiracy-rich situation where his squad is ambushed by clearly prepared and oddly well-armed civilians having themselves a riot, he notes the oddness of this...and then the story never revisits that point. (hide spoiler)]
In other words, as a "this happened next" story, it's a reasonable story, and it's good on convincing military detail. But don't read it if you're looking for any thought, or emotion, theme or philosophy. If it's there, I didn't spot it.
[Reasonable representation of women, but note that none of the 'big bosses' were female.]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I checked this out to see if there were any interesting extra tidbits to the movie.
The novelisation itself is florid and not very interestinHilaribad.
I checked this out to see if there were any interesting extra tidbits to the movie.
The novelisation itself is florid and not very interestingly written. Foster is padding out the script without adding anything much of interest. There isn't a great deal of extra meat to the actual events - mainly some added sexual threat to Rey's dealings with the merchant on Jakku (and some fat hatred), and Ren does say: "It is her" when Rey shows up (view spoiler)[being force-strong on the not-the-deathstar, which more strongly hints that Rey is someone he has encountered before/knows about in some way. (hide spoiler)]. Rey is also rather constantly referred to as "a girl", "that girl" in a way that is underlining _OMG a GIRL doing STUFF_ which I think the movie mostly avoided.
The audiobook narrator takes the purple prose, and adds William Shatner-esque pauses and over-the-top drama. Totes hilarious. Sadly, the narrator also manages to make both Leia and Rey come across as much wimpier than they appear on screen.
[The audiobook also includes audioclips direct from the film for some of the voices, such as Phasma, and there's a fair bit of sound effects and music, which I found interesting.]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more