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review 2017-10-23 16:48
Curious
Curious - Seth King

Curious indeed.  I wanted so much to love this.  And love the cover and the characters I did.  But I was mostly left a little confused.

 

Both of these guys came off to me as Gay or at least Bi...but never straight with the curiosity for something else so the MSM for me didn't really apply to these guys (although I appreciated the introduction and discussion of this "growing phenomenon").  Having both POVs for me reinforced this as well as seeing so many scenes from their beautiful friendship growing up. I think ultimately this might have worked better for me had we only gotten Nathan's POV.  Perhaps even switching to Beau's at the very end of the book.  Because it seemed their personal thoughts never really coincided with what unfolded and therefore the intended WTF moment at the end was not near as impactful as it could have been.

 

The prologue was left unresolved, so honestly I still have no idea who walked into the hotel room or why this prologue was even included.

 

The switch in POVs many times had me scratching my head as to who's head I was in, and left me having to flip back to see.  The indication of who is speaking during the dialogue at least a few times would have helped this, as this was very limited if done at all.

 

 

I love Seth's writing and there are some amazing moments in this book but ultimately this one fell short for me.  

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text 2017-10-23 00:36
The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
The Traitor Baru Cormorant - Seth Dickinson

As of page 159, I'm pretty sure I'm done with this book. I was initially interested in the idea of a fantasy book about colonialism based on economic and political domination rather than military might. And the book is neither poorly written nor boring. But it is grim and cold, and while it is hardly the darkest book I've read, nor is the protagonist's life even close to the grimmest I've encountered, it is unrelieved by either an exciting plot or interesting characters. There's no humanity to these people; the book spins us through the typical overwrought "intrigue" scenes familiar to fantasy readers, but close to halfway through the book, not a single character feels like more than his or her political motivations. Even Baru, the protagonist, feels incomplete and cold. We're meant to believe that the memory of her homeland and trio of parents is a driving motivation, but we only ever see a couple of scenes of this and they are not particularly emotional ones. And since there's not much else to her, it's very difficult to empathize.

So while I could keep reading - it's not a terrible book - this one was leaving me feeling a little down after spending time with it and lacked sufficient redeeming qualities for me to want to put up with that.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-10-16 04:51
Suspicious minds -- DNF, half star for reasons
The Semper Sonnet - Seth J. Margolis

(Note:  I originally wrote this review in December of last year, 2016.  BL was having major problems at the time, so this ended up sitting in draft mode until today, when I was organizing some of my shelves and wondered why this review had never posted.  Aha!)

 

When Stephanie at Stephanie's Book Reviews reviewed this book, I was intrigued enough to check it out on Amazon.  The Kindle edition was only 99 cents, so I splurged and bought it.

 

Disclosure:  I paid the full retail price for the Kindle edition.  I do not know the author, nor have I ever had any contact with him about this book or any other matter.  I am an author of contemporary gothic and historical romances and non-fiction.

 

This is not really a review, since I've only read a couple chapters and may or may not read any more.  But I'm so disgusted by what I found that I feel compelled to post this information.  As an author, I cannot post it on Amazon; authors are not allowed to post negative comments/reviews.

 

I know virtually nothing about the publisher of this item, Diversion Books of New York City.  They have a website that makes them look professional, and they seem to have a number of authors and titles in their catalogue.  But I personally would never recommend them to anyone, based on my reading of the opening chapters of this book.

 

Editors are supposed to fix errors.  Although editors are human and make mistakes, they shouldn't make big fat obvious ones.

 

 

Screen shot from K4PC

 

 

 

 

Copied text from later in the same chapter:

 

Lee Nicholson would not be wounded. She would not bleed.

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Location 245). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.

 

Copied text from the next chapter:

 

“You haven’t been charged with anything, Miss Nichols.”

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Location 292). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.

Copied text from later in the next chapter:

 

Where would she go?

“Miss Nichols?”

Detective Lowry was staring at her with something verging on concern.

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Locations 317-318). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.

 

 

And later:

 

“Leslie Nichols?”

She turned from her dresser to face one of the plainclothes men sifting through every item in her bedroom.

“I’m known as Lee. Lee Nichols.”

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Locations 365-367). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.

 

An error like that is pretty much unforgivable.  I caught it on a first reading late at night when I was tired as hell.

 

Names are important . They are one of the first identifiers of a character.  They can also stop a reader in her tracks if they're wrong or jarring or . . . too familiar.

 

From early in Chapter 1:

 

Her mentor at Columbia, David Eddings, had assured her that it was her looks and not her scholarship that had landed her a spot on the news.

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Locations 224-225). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.

 

David Eddings was a well-known author of several best-selling fantasy series.  Coming across an unusual name of a real person like this is a jolt that pulls a reader out of the make-believe world of the novel.  Had the name been Donald Eddings or David Geddings, I would never have noticed it.  But I did notice "David Eddings" and was immediately on alert.

 

When the main character's name changed from "Lee Nicholson" to "Lee Nichols," the importance of the other name doubled.  "Leigh Nichols" is one of the many pseudonyms of another best-selling author, Dean Koontz.

(spoiler show)

 

 

Had this been a self-published book, I probably would have stopped reading at that point and just posted a DNF review.  There were other elements of the plot that bothered me even at less than 4% into the book, but I could have overlooked those if I felt confident of the writing.  But because it was published by a third party, I decided to do a little more research.

 

The first stop was Amazon, to see what the reviews were like.  Oh man, oh man, oh man, here we go again.

 

The Semper Sonnet's dedication:

 

For Jean Naggar

Margolis, Seth. The Semper Sonnet (Kindle Location 64). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.

 

 From the Amazon page for the book:

 

 

Full transparency my ass.

 

Oh, and that 1 comment?  It's Jean Naggar's link to her own book.  Follow that up and you'll find that Ms. Naggar is a literary agent.  I'd be willing to bet she's Seth Margolis's agent.

 

Full transparency my ass.

 

So now I have a really bad taste in my mouth about this author and this book.  I regret spending even 99 cents on it and putting 35 cents in Margolis's bank account, 7 cents of which probably went to Naggar.

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review 2017-09-27 14:30
Seth (Highland Gargoyles #4) by Lisa Carlisle
Seth - Lisa Carlisle
Seth is the fourth book in the Highland Gargoyles series, and we concentrate on how the beta of the pack is feeling now that Raina has chosen someone else. Seth feels he can't stay with the pack, and one day finds himself in a situation where he can carry on forward, or turn back to the pack. As he's already spoken to Ian about his decision, he moves forward, but finds difficulties that he wasn't expecting. He is helped along the way by Hailey, who does the best she can to help him. Not only that, but being with her helps Seth to regain his equilibrium. Both Hailey and Seth have lots to learn about the other, and to figure out where they are going next.
 
This was a lovely, quick, read that had me engrossed from the very first word. The depth of Seth's feelings when he is on the Island comes across loud and clear, making the reason for his choices completely believable. Luckily for Seth, Hailey is very laid back, taking everything about him in her stride. It's a good job she didn't react like her father, or we could have had a whole new story.
 
This book was very well written, with a smooth pace, and no editing or grammatical errors that I noticed. I would recommend that you read this as part of the series, simply because you might miss out on some wonderful stories, and also I think you need a little background on what Seth's expectations were, to help understand how he was feeling.
 
A great addition to the series, and definitely recommended by me.
 
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and my comments here are my honest opinion. *
 
Merissa
Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
Source: sites.google.com/site/archaeolibrarian/merissa-reviews/sethcalumhighlandgargoyles45bylisacarlisle
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review 2017-09-21 22:11
Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are - Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

This is an engaging and informative book about the huge amount of data available online and what it tells us about society. I read it alongside Dataclysm and found Everybody Lies to be by far the better of the two, presenting a wealth of information in a cohesive fashion and making fewer unfounded assumptions. The author was a data scientist at Google, and draws in large part on the searches people make on the site, along with information from sites including Facebook and Pornhub.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff in the data, from the rate of racist searches in the rust belt predicting the rise of Donald Trump, to common body anxieties and whether they actually matter to the opposite sex, to an estimate of how many men are gay and whether that varies by geography (it appears not), to rates of self-induced abortions. This is a great book to read if you love unusual factoids, whether on sexual proclivities or how sports fans are made.

The author also writes in a compelling way about the uses of Big Data itself, and while he waxes evangelical about it (evidently preferring to spend all his time immersed in statistically significant data, he finds novels and biographies too “small and unrepresentative" and therefore uninteresting), there are certainly a lot of possibilities there. In health, for instance, compiling early searches about symptoms with later searches for how to handle a diagnosis can help doctors detect pancreatic cancer at an earlier stage, while epidemics can be tracked through symptom searches. The author is also interested in how applying data can revolutionize a field, discussing at length the data that predicted the success of the racehorse American Pharaoh. (By "at length" I mean 9 pages; this is a book that moves through a broad range of topics quickly.)

Overall, the writing is engaging and the book hangs together well, being informative while mostly resisting the urge to speculate. But the author does make a couple of assumptions worth pointing out. One is that people’s Google searches are made in earnest and for personal reasons. Certainly, you might search for “depression symptoms” out of concern that you or someone you know is depressed. But you also might want to be prepared in advance to identify warning signs, or might have encountered something in the media that sparked your interest, or you might be a student writing a paper on the topic. On the other hand, if you’re intimately familiar with depression already, you’re unlikely to google the symptoms. None of this means the author’s finding a 40% difference in rates of depression symptom searches between Chicago and Hawaii isn’t relevant, but data that’s both over- and under-inclusive serves better as a starting point for research than a definitive conclusion. It's certainly not proof that better geography is twice as effective as antidepressants, as the author suggests.

The other assumption is that everybody lies: the book insists on it, based largely on the fact that typically rosy social media posts fail to reflect all those unhappy or hateful searches. Selectively sharing information doesn’t necessarily seem to me to be lying, but the author appears invested in proving the book’s title. For instance, he discusses a particular type of tax fraud: in areas where few tax professionals or people eligible for the scheme live, 2% of people who could benefit from this lie tell it, while in areas with high concentrations of both, the rate of cheating is around 30%. The author concludes that “the key isn’t determining who is honest and who is dishonest. It is determining who knows how to cheat and who doesn’t.” This bleak view of the world fails to account for the 70% who don’t cheat even in areas with high levels of knowledge; finding that significant numbers of people cheat if they know how is a far cry from finding that everyone does.

So, like the author of Dataclysm, Stephens-Davidowitz is probably a better statistician than sociologist. But if you’re interested in Big Data, or in getting a peek at the thoughts and anxieties people ask Google about because they’re not comfortable sharing with others, this is the book I recommend. You’ll certainly get a lot of interesting tidbits from it, along with perhaps new inhibitions about typing things into Google!

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