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review 2019-03-25 14:20
The Callahan Touch / Spider Robinson
The Callahan Touch - Spider Robinson

Opening Night at Mary's Place is the hottest ticket in the galaxy - a brand-new bar with some old familiar faces. Jake's back, along with Doc, Fast Eddie, and the rest of the Callahan's gang. And just when things couldn't get crazier, guess who shows up in the Mick of Time to make sure they do...


Once again, I find myself wishing that I liked the Callahan’s books more than I do. Robinson tries for a much more obviously optimistic view of the world than most other authors and he obviously holds dear the concepts of acceptance of those who differ from ourselves, true friendship, and solid romantic relationships. I can appreciate those aspects of his writing.

He’s obviously a socially progressive guy—but he really hits the reader over the head with it in this book. Jake, our narrator, is a stand-in for Robinson himself. And Jake is really busy showing us how un-prejudiced and liberal-minded he is, while also espousing a very right-wing Libertarian outlook. In these characteristics, he very obviously follows in the footsteps of Robert A. Heinlein and John Varley, both of whom receive mention in this volume.

Of course, the punning continues and I’ve almost (almost) become inured to it, but it’s become the sand in the unappealing sandwich. You know what you’re going to get when you pick up one of the Callahan’s books and it has been repetitive for some time now.

Book number 314 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.

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text 2019-03-25 02:32
BookLikes Snakes and Ladders | Dice Roll #11

So there was more socializing had with my Dad's birthday and my brother driving into town to be here for it.  But really, the socializing is a bit more minimal compared to socializing with friends (last weekend), since my brothers and I are people of few words.  Nonetheless, that means that I, once again, took my sweet time reading a book that shouldn't have taken that much time to read.

No matter, though!  Once I got into it, it was a breeze through and now we're onto the next roll.




BookLikes Snakes and Ladders

Dice Roll #11 got me a simple 3, which took me to Square #69: 'Something related to travel on the cover.'


In keeping with my Historical fiction requirements, this particular square's prompt took a bit of research, as I had to round up a bunch of books on several lists, look for anything historical, and then decide whether or not the cover felt like it pertained to travel.  The unfortunate news is that I had little luck, really only finding about three books that would fit the bill.  Mind you, this was also a filtered list of books I was personally interested in as well.  (This also doesn't include books I'd originally planned on reading for Reading Assignment this month, but I'm flexible and now plans are changing...)

On the amusingly positive side of things, in doing my search, I ended up adding about a million more historical mystery series to my TBR...


I finally decided on A Most Extraordinary Pursuit by Juliana Gray.  The other books I'd considered were This Side of Murder by Anna Lee Huber, and Murder on the Lusitania by Conrad Allen, one of which was not immediately accessible to me.  Like A Most Extraordinary Pursuit, the cover for This Side of Murder features a woman with a suitcase, looking as if she's waiting on a ship or something... at least that's how I'm seeing it.  And Murder on the Lusitania is pretty self-explanatory (not that the other two aren't), what with it's bit ship and all.  It's just a little harder to see the suitcase in Huber's book's cover.  Oh yes, but all three book covers have ships, which are pretty much a travel thing.

Anyway, it is entirely possible that I may end up reading Huber's book, though, as I already know I like her writing style... and also because there is a prequel novella that precedes A Most Extraordinary Pursuit (chronologically and by publication date), and I'm loathe to read books out of order (even novellas).  Although, on the other hand, as a novella, I may give it a pass until I can get a hold of it, since it is also a book not readily accessible to me.  It wouldn't be the first time I'd done so, and according to sources, the prequel novella doesn't really contribute to this first book in the series.

Decisions, decisions...



Currently Reading




Books Read Pending Square Selection

Nothing here!



My Progress

Dates for each dice roll corresponds with respective update post.
Book titles link to reviews if written.
Completed books' covers (read and used for squares) following table.


Date Dice Roll Square/Prompt Book Title / Author Fits Square?
1.  Author is a woman Sweet Release by Pamela Clare Yes
02/22 (#1)
(2 + 4)
7.  Author's last name begins with the letters A, B, C, or D. Carnal Gift by Pamela Clare Yes
02/24 (#2)
(2 + 3)
12.  Author's last name begins with the letters T, U, V, W, X, Y, or Z. SEAL for Her Protection by Paige Tyler Yes
02/27 (#3)
(2 + 4)
18.  Set in a school Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger Yes
03/09 (#4)
(4 + 5)
27.  Set during WWI or WWII Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld Yes
03/12 (#5)
(5 + 6)
38.  Newest release by a favorite author Untouchable by Jayne Ann Krentz Yes
03/12 (#6) (3 + 5)
46.  A book that has been on your tbr for more than two years Slightly Shady by Amanda Quick Yes
03/16 (#7)
(5 + 6)
57.  Was published more than 50 years ago Thunder on the Right by Mary Stewart Yes
03/16 (#8)
(4 + 4)
65. Snake - go back to 52 n/a n/a
52.  Has a tree or flower on the cover The Dragon and the Pearl by Jeannie Lin Yes
03/19 (#9)
(2 + 5)
59.  Was published more than 10 years ago Ride the Fire by Pamela Clare Yes
03/19 (#10)
(2 + 5)
66.  Part of a series that is more than 10 books long Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson Yes
03/24 (#11)
(1 + 2)
69.  Something related to travel on the cover A Most Extraordinary Pursuit by Julana Gray Yes




Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/03/booklikes-snakes-and-ladders-dice-roll_24.html
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review 2019-03-25 00:14
Sky Without Stars, System Divine #1 by Joanne Rendell & Jessica Brody
Sky Without Stars - Joanne Rendell,Jessica Brody

If you read just one dystopian teen novel based on 'Les Misérables' make sure it's this one. No, but really, this turned out much better than I expected it to. The authors reinvent the core narrative of Hugo's novel into the tribulated teen romance genre and launches what could be a very interesting new series.


The planet Laterre is part of the System Divine, a three-sun solar system surrounded by 12 inhabitable planets. It was discovered and settled by ships that had fled from the First World which had been, or was about to be, made inhabitable. The ships carried with them colonists, technology, supplies and many backwards ideas of how to settle a new planet. Laterre holds the descendants of the French whose leadership set up an Ancien Régime similar to that of France before the Revolution. The First Estate is headed by the Patriarch and his family and live in a grand palace, the Second Estate is made up of fortunate families who live in comfort and ease and support the system by policing or running factories, or exploits. They make up about 5% of the population. The rest, the Third Estate, are downtrodden and forced to live in squalid poverty held in check by the oppressive regime, the hope of their being selected to join the Second estate by lottery, and, of course, the criminal acts of their peers. They don't have any housing at all, the best they can hope for is living in the old berths, staterooms and holds of the rusting freighters that brought their ancestors to the planet 500 years ago.


We hear from three perspectives - Chatine, the daughter of a gangster in the Third Estate who has taken it upon herself to con her way to getting a ticket off-planet, Marcellus, the grandson of the ranking member of the Second Estate and an officer in the regime, and Alouette, a young girl raised in a secret refuge that protects the history of the First World and the chronicles of Laterre. In the centuries since the founding of Laterre, people became so reliant on technology that they forgot how to read. Even the upper classes. Which, OK, sure.


The authors are effective world-builders, and the various elements of their source material are integrated in a plot that keeps up its pace over almost 600 pages. Of course, it's not the whole plot - there will be a sequel. What I'm most interested in though is what classic works they might use to build up the other planets of the system. Hints of the others include a English planet ruled by a mad queen, a German empire and a Frank Lloyd Wright reference (Usonia)? Probably American. I'm hoping for an American planet to involve a gay teen odd-couple signing on to a space-boat where the captain is obsessed with hunting the space-whale that took his leg. 


System Divine


Next: ?

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review 2019-03-24 18:24
An Armenian Sketchbook by Vasily Grossman
An Armenian Sketchbook - Vasily Grossman

This is a vivid little book, as much a platform for the author’s musings on a variety of subjects as it is a travelogue. Grossman was a Jewish writer in the Soviet Union who had just had his masterwork confiscated by the authorities, when he traveled to Armenia to work on a “translation” of an Armenian novel. (He was actually cleaning up a literal translation into literary Russian, and did not in fact speak Armenian at all.) This short book is more essay collection than straight travel narrative; Grossman reflects on the landscape, on various people he meets and experiences he has, and on aspects of life in general that interest him.

At the beginning I enjoyed this book, appreciating the immediacy of Grossman’s writing and the thought-provoking subjects he touches on, but I found myself losing patience as I went on, and ultimately this book fell on the back burner.

Here’s an example of one of the passages that struck me, from a section in which Grossman wonders why the view of a beautiful lake doesn’t strike a chord of wonder within him:

For a particular scene to enter into a person and become part of their soul, it is evidently not enough that the scene be beautiful. The person also has to have something clear and beautiful present inside them. It is like a moment of shared love, of communion, of true meeting between a human being and the outer world.

The world was beautiful on that day. And Lake Sevan is one of the most beautiful places on earth. But there was nothing clear or good about me – and I had heard too many stories about the Minutka restaurant. After listening to the story of the lovesick princess, I asked, “But where’s the restaurant?”

. . . .

Or was it the thousands of paintings I had seen? Were they what poisoned my encounter with the high-altitude lake? We always think of the artist’s role as entirely positive; we think that a work of art, if it is anything more than a hack job, brings us closer to nature, that it deepens and enriches our being. We think that a work of art is some kind of key. But perhaps it is not? Perhaps, having already seen a hundred images of Lake Sevan, I thought that this hundred-and-first image was just one more routine product from a member of the Artists’ Union.

And here’s a passage that made me want to roll my eyes, thinking that the author puts altogether too much faith in his own feelings and perceptions:

But I repeat: there are many ways through which one can recognize that someone believes in God. It is not just a matter of words, but also of tones of voice, of the construction of sentences, of the look in a person’s eyes, in their gait, in their manner of eating and drinking. Believers can be sensed – and I did not sense any in Armenia.

What I did see were people carrying out rites. I saw pagans in whose good and kind hearts lived a god of kindness.

Why Grossman would think he could recognize Christianity from a person’s gait and syntax, of all things, especially cross-culturally, and why he is so confident in this ability that he can declare a country devoid of real Christians, I have no idea.

At any rate, this is a well-written little book that ranges over a wide variety of topics. Ultimately, I’d have liked it better if it had contained more about Armenia and less of the author’s pontification. But I did learn more about the country than I knew before, which was not much. (Judging from the selection of books shelved on Goodreads as “Armenia” – almost none of which are set there – I had the vague impression that the country had come into being only after the Armenian genocide. As it turns out, it is an ancient country with a long history and unique language.)

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text 2019-03-24 02:31
New books added - HarperCollins and William Morrow

DONE - As BT said in a comment, Elentarri is on fire and did these too!  Thanks!


Batch #1:

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Batch #6:

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Batch #8:

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