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review 2018-10-23 09:30
Oceanspace - Allen Steele

My Kindle edition of Oceanspace is a 2015 reprint of a 2000 novel set in 2011 that stole all its tropes from the 1960’s-70’s. From the description:


Treachery, greed, and a gargantuan sea monster threaten the inhabitants of a high-tech, deep-water research station in this thrilling undersea science fiction adventure


I beg to differ, sir! A more accurate description would be:


More sexist and racist tropes than you can slap with a fish threaten the peaceful existence of a gargantuan sea monster in this mildly interesting treatise on underwater exploration


Not as catchy, I know, but I’m big on truth in advertising.


Basically, Oceanspace is as cringingly racist and sexist as a Dirk Pitt novel without any of the hilarious cheesiness to make reading it worthwhile. The stuff about undersea habitats and submersibles and oceanic exploration was quite interesting, but the awful troperrific characters drag the story below crush depth.


I read this for the Halloween Bingo 2018 Fear the Drowning Deep square.


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review 2018-10-22 02:47
The Witches of Lychford
Witches of Lychford - Paul Cornell

This is a fun novella that claims to be 144 pages long but feels much shorter due to the story ending at the 86% mark on my Kindle edition. And the fact that I devoured it between breakfast and lunch. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a story about a crotchety village witch taking on a supermarket chain to stop all hell from literally breaking loose, but I needn’t have worried. The former Doctor Who writers are knocking it out of the park lately.


There is a lot going on for such a short novella. The themes explored aren’t the ones I expected, and that’s a good thing. There’s a nicely balanced blend of humor and seriousness, and while the characters seem like clichés on the surface, they actually get fleshed out pretty well. Overall, it’s a good lead-in to a series (but also works as a stand-alone), and I’d love to see it adapted for television.


I read this for the Halloween Bingo 2018 Spellbound square.


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review 2018-10-21 22:17
The Lair of the White Worm
The Lair of the White Worm - Bram Stoker

I usually avoid abridged books like the plague, but I think I nonetheless ended up with an abridged version of Lair of the White Worm. Which is unfortunate. Or maybe not. It’s hard to tell whether this story would be made better or worse by expounding upon it.


It starts with long-lost relatives meeting, then moves on to men talking of local legends, men talking during walks, men talking in studies, men talking at breakfast, chapter after chapter of men talking. Also featured are misadventures with snakes and women and mongooses, fatal staring contests in proper English sitting rooms, a horribly racist caricature of a black man, one man’s obsession with his giant bird-shaped kite, and other such WTFery. Soooo much WTFery. Apparently Stoker was terribly ill when he wrote it. And terribly racist. And terribly misogynistic. Maybe just plain terrible.


I thought Dracula was so good that I’d try more of Stoker’s work.


I should have stopped at Dracula.


OMG, I should have stopped.


I read this for the Halloween Bingo 2018 Genre: Horror square, and boy was it ever horrifying, though not in the way Stoker intended.


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review 2018-10-07 12:54
Ghosts of Tsavo
Ghosts of Tsavo (Society for Paranormals Book 1) - Vered Ehsani

Meh. For a book called Ghosts of Tsavo, Beatrice (the narrator) didn’t spend much time investigating the titular beasts. And more’s the pity, because what I got instead was a bunch of scrambled, incomplete backstory, anachronisms, boring domestic scenes, a whole lot of set-up for subsequent books – and a teeny tiny bit of paranormal research. Also, I really didn’t like Bee. I adore a snarky protagonist, but more often than not the humor misses and she just comes across as bitchy. The editing was subpar. I’m guessing this is a product of self-pub. The beginning is a disjointed mess and a more thorough copy edit would have done wonders for the whole thing. I’ve got the next two books so I might as well give them a shot. If they’re just as meh, at least they’re short and I only paid $0.99 for all three. There’s at least $0.99 worth of entertainment here.


I read this for the Halloween Bingo 2018 Ghost Stories square.


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review 2018-09-30 07:49
First Hit of the Season
First Hit of the Season - Jane Dentinger

This was a decent follow-up to Murder On Cue. It fast-forwards a bit to a point where Jocelyn and Phillip have been dating for some nebulous period of time (a year? more?), and while I was disappointed to miss out on all their awkward firsts, I did like the way Dentinger played on the personal repercussions of Jocelyn helping her detective boyfriend snoop on her theater friends. In the first book she was clearing her own name, but without that motivation she entered a vastly uncomfortable moral grey area that impacted her relationships with all involved. That part was well done.


The editing, on the other hand, took a nose dive. The first book had a few typos and a stylistic choice or two that I didn’t agree with (“alright” instead of “all right” and sudden POV skews in the third person close narrative), but nothing I couldn’t shrug off and plow through. The proof reader must’ve been asleep for this one, though, because in addition to the alrights and POV skews, my Kindle version is rife with missing punctuation, missing/wrong words, and more than one instance of Phillip’s last name being misspelled. And, my personal favorite, the woman who drinks wine with her fingers:


“We were going to be married in the spring, did you know that?” Courtney asked dreamily, as a long-fingered hand picked up the glass of wine and drained half of it.


Courtney’s anatomy must be FASCINATING. I’ll keep going with the series, but my inner pedant is going to get ranty if the quality issues continue.


I read this for the Halloween Bingo 2018 Murder Most Foul square.


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