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text 2017-09-01 20:27
Thanks MR for my BL-opoly prize!


I received the book I won as my booklikes-opoly prize, Life in a Medieval Castle by Joseph Gies & Frances Gies, in the mail and since I also picked up the second book that I had ordered in the set today, I now have all three!


Yay! Now I just need to find some time to read them. Oh, and I forgot to pick up Gulp when I went to the library earlier. Perhaps I'll go back.


Thanks again MR!

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review 2017-08-12 18:21
Dragonfly Falling by Adrian Tchaikovksy
Dragonfly Falling - Adrian Tchaikovsky

Series: Shadows of the Apt #2


Adrian Tchaikovsky's earlier books aren't quite as good as his later books, but they're still entertaining. This one took me quite a while to get through for a variety of reasons, but in my defence, it's a good 700 pages.


This installment brings war to the Lowlands in the form of battles for ant cities and a siege of Collegium. Each city battle doesn't actually take all that long, so I'm not sure they quite qualify as sieges, but I'm not sure what other word would be more appropriate. The plot was interesting and the battles were handled well, but I think the sheer amount of war in this one became a bit of a grind. Part of that was the subplot with Totho, which I wasn't sure I really liked at first.


I'll admit that I was starting to doubt whether I really wanted to continue with this series partway through the book because of the aforementioned sensation of the machinery of war just grinding along, but the ending and resolution helped rekindle my interest so I'll definitely slot the next one into my reading schedule at some point. This is most definitely not a series I'd want to read all ten books of at once though.


My copy had the newer cover:



I like it better, so I'm adding it here.

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review 2017-08-02 01:09
Dies the Fire
Dies the Fire - S.M. Stirling

On March 17, 1998 there was a brilliant flash of light, and afterwards explosives (including gunpowder), internal combustion, and electricity no longer work.  Dies the Fire follows two small bands trying to stay alive during the first months immediately after The Change.  Clan MacKenzie, led by Ren Fair singer and Wiccan High Priestess Juniper MacKenzie, quickly bolts to her cabin in the foothills and settles into a communal kibbutz-like agrarian lifestyle in the Willamette Valley.  Clan Bear, led by ex-marine pilot Mike Havel with his deputies an African American horse trainer and a female live-steel sword fighting veterinarian, develop into a wandering militia as they wend their way from Idaho back to the Willamette.


Other reviewers appear to love Dies the Fire or hate it (Reviews are either 1 star or 4 stars).  I do agree that in many way’s Dies the Fire is an SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) and Renaissance Fair fan’s wet dream – folks who play Middle Ages have an advantage on the fighting and crafting skills to survive.  Similarly, the villain, the so-called Protector of Portland, is a lawful evil stereotype with medieval history background who tries to start a Feudal setup with him as kingpin and the local gangs as levies.


The writing is a bit more polished than that of S.M. Stirling’s earlier Nantucket Trilogy, but still descends into detailed inventory and infodump from time to time.  On this re-read, I’m also painfully aware of some of the odd tokenization of certain characters – Will Dutton, Mike Havel’s African American 2nd and his Mexican wife are the primary non-Caucasians except for the Nez Perce.  Is that because there just aren’t many people of color in that part of the world, or it is because Stirling is consciously trying to be diverse? He’s not quite succeeding at avoiding the magical Negro stereotype.  Juniper’s daughter, Eilir is congenitally deaf due to measles but preternaturally good at reading lips and unusually Juniper’s inner circle appear to all be fluent in sign and a potential best friend picks up signing effortlessly.  Is that because Stirling is indulging in building the world he wishes, or because he feels the need to include someone with disabilities and then doesn’t quite make it realistic? And despite these criticisms, of all the post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction I've read, Dies the Fire is the one that haunts me and that I dream about.  


The Emberverse, as this series is now known, is up to 13 volumes with the 14th, which follows the grandchildren of the original characters, expected out later in 2017. I read the first few books when they were originally released, but lost interest. I got back into the series because the audiobook is available on Hoopla from my library. Taking the time that an audiobook enforces, I’m more aware of the number of times that certain descriptions and concepts are repeated than I was the first time I read Dies the Fire.  I was talking to my husband about this and we came to the conclusion that S.M. Stirling, much like L.E. Modesitt, comes up with interesting premises and is a reasonable wordsmith but they both have favorite set pieces and conceits that they reach for just a bit too often – they can become their own cliché.


I wasn’t impressed with the Tantor Audiobook.  While Todd McLaren had a reasonably pleasant voice, the frequent mispronunciations were annoying and point to a lack of research and sloppy preparation.  (He mispronounces Chuchulian, Samhain, Lunasadh, Athame, céilidh, and ballista, among other things).


Audiobook started during #24in48.  Prorated portion of 431 of 1319* minutes or 187 of the 573 page paperback used as my last Free Friday selection for Booklikes-opoly. I finished it up while listening in the car on the way to camp to pick up my son and while sitting with Ozzie last night.


*I’d been calculating based on 1380 minutes since the downloaded file said 23 hours, but the book actually finished in 21 hours and 59 minutes

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text 2017-08-01 17:43
Thank You

I wanted to say thank you to Moonlight Reader and Osidian Blue for a fantastic few months playing booklikes-opoly. Thanks, you guys! You're both amazing. Bring on the next game.


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text 2017-08-01 05:19
Booklikes-opoly Summary

Final Bank Balance: $269

Total pages read: 15 621.

Average rating: 3.2

Total number of books read: 51

(I'm counting all books including those that I abandoned as long as I used the page count towards my bank or donated the pages to the Jail Library.)


A big thanks to MR & OB for organizing this game! It was a fun way to knock books off the TBR list. And I was pretty good at sticking to books I'd either bought or been planning on checking out of the library.


A Pint of Murder (A Madoc and Janet Rhys Mystery) - Alisa Craig,Charlotte MacLeod  The Semester of Our Discontent - Cynthia Kuhn  Under Heaven - Guy Gavriel Kay  Deepwater Black: The Complete Adventure (H SF) - Ken Catran  Rivers of London: Volume 2 - Night Witch - Ben Aaronovitch,Lee Sullivan Hill,Andrew Cartmel  Yarned and Dangerous - Sadie Hartwell  Hexed - Kevin Hearne  Use of Weapons - Iain M. Banks  Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman  Age of Myth: Book One of The Legends of the First Empire - Michael J. Sullivan  The Butterfly Garden - Dot Hutchison  Hogfather (Discworld, #20) - Terry Pratchett  Hammered (Iron Druid Chronicles, #3) - Kevin Hearne  The Game of Kings - Dorothy Dunnett  Spiderlight - Adrian Tchaikovsky  All Systems Red - Martha Wells  Jingo (Discworld, #21) - Terry Pratchett  A Fatal Grace - Louise Penny  Queens' Play - Dorothy Dunnett  Death in the Clouds - Agatha Christie  Inside Job - Connie Willis  Fortune like the Moon - Alys Clare  Three Act Tragedy (Hercule Poirot, #11) - Agatha Christie  Sky Coyote - Kage Baker  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson  The Thrall's Tale - Judith Lindbergh  Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong—and the New Research That's Rewriting the Story - Angela Saini  The Grass Crown - Colleen McCullough  Crocodile on the Sandbank - Elizabeth Peters  The Circular Staircase - Mary Roberts Rinehart  Wishful Drinking - Carrie Fisher  A Place of Execution - Val McDermid  Ghost Talkers - Mary Robinette Kowal  The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax (Mrs. Pollifax #1) - Dorothy Gilman,Barbara Rosenblat  Free-Wrench - Joseph Lallo  The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet - Neil deGrasse Tyson  Recovering Apollo 8 - Kristine Kathryn Rusch  Murder Out of Turn (The Mr. and Mrs. North Mysteries) - Richard Lockridge,Frances Lockridge  Final Girls - Mira Grant  Ashes of the Elements (Hawkenlye Mystery) - Alys Clare    The Tavern in the Morning - Alys Clare  Made to Kill: A Novel (L.A. Trilogy) - Adam Christopher  The Invisible Library - Genevieve Cogman  Murder Past Due - Miranda James  Mendoza in Hollywood: A Company Novel (The Company) - Kage Baker  The A.B.C. Murders (Hercule Poirot, #13) - Agatha Christie  The Mermaids Singing - Val McDermid  Nymphéas noirs - Michel Bussi  Tricked - Kevin Hearne  Sharpe's Fortress - Bernard Cornwell  Dragonfly Falling - Adrian Tchaikovsky


Here's a graphical summary of the squares that I landed on. Pre-shake-up rolls are golden and post-shake-up rolls are blue.


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