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review 2018-01-17 22:05
Two Boys Kissing / David Levithan
Two Boys Kissing - David Levithan

New York Times  bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS.

While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.

 

A very moving book, one that I would recommend that you buy for any young person in your life, regardless of their sexuality. But I doubly recommend that you buy it for any youth that you know who identifies as gay, lesbian or transgender. And I triply recommend it for any young person who is intolerant of sexual diversity. Remember to let them know that you love them and want the best life for them.

I would also say that if you know a parent, aunt, uncle, cousin, friend, sibling, etc. who is uncomfortable with the sexuality of a child, this would be an excellent way to open their hearts to the reality of the way that people are. We don’t all fit into neatly labelled boxes nor should we have to.

I’m of the generation that remembers when AIDS wasn’t spoken about. Back when governments and society tried to shove it under the rug. The many, many people who died before the disease was taken seriously. How it took the deaths of people like Rock Hudson to get the general population to care. As a result, I loved the “chorus” of those who have passed on, but remain to witness. Very much like a Greek chorus, commenting on what is happening in the book.

A quick but satisfying read.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-01-17 07:36
War Robot-Manning Persons, Fighting Dukes, and Bioengineered Religious Soldiers — A Review of The Warriors Anthology Edited by G. R. R. Martin
Warriors - George R. R. Martin (Editor), Gardner Dozois (Editor)

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on January 17, 2018.

 

The King of Norway by Cecelia Holland

 

3 Stars

A Viking adventure with all the gore and blood that you could ask for. If only I could have been made to care for the characters…

 

Forever Bound by Joe Haldeman

 

3 Stars

Soldiers learning to maneuver robots in the war have to do as part of a hive mind. Pretty soon, real life cannot compare with the virtual one that they lead with the other members of the hive.

 

The Triumph by Megan Lindholm/Robin Hobb

 

 

4 Stars

A retelling of the myth of Marcus Atilius Regulus, a Roman Consul. In the story, he is tortured by Carthaginians before his death. Everything in the story is actually setting up the reader for the way he dies.

 

Clean Slate by Lawrence Block

 

3 Stars

An abused child grows up into a sociopath. You can guess what happens next!

 

And Ministers of Grace by Tad Williams

 

3 Stars

It isn’t that bioengineered soldiers haven’t been done before. Here though the author makes it all about religion.

 

Soldierin’ by Joe R. Lansdale

 

4 Stars

A black man joins the army in the eradication of Native Americans. The story remains localized and makes no claims about the big picture.

 

Dirae by Peter S. Beagle

 

3 Stars

A coma patient becomes an avenging spirit with a special soft place in her heart for kids.

 

The Custom of the Army by Diana Gabaldon

 

4 Stars

I have been wondering if I would like Gabaldon’s writing and I wonder no more. This story is based on a skirmish between the French and English soldiers on Canadian soil.

 

Seven Years from Home by Naomi Novik

 

4 Stars

Nature and “people” come together in this story to save the land. I liked this one because plants featured in it.

 

The Eagle and the Rabbit by Steven Saylor

 

3 Stars

POVs change as we see Carthage fall and a Roman general plays mind games with the Carthaginians he will be selling off to slavery.

 

The Pit by James Clemens/James Rollins

 

4 Stars

Canine gladiators and sibling love made this story one of my faves!

 

Out of the Dark by David Weber

 

4 Stars

An alien race tries to take over the planet and humans band together to stop that from happening. They also have help from the unlikeliest of sources.

 

 

The Girls from Avenger by Carrie Vaughn

 

3 Stars

Women have faced discrimination whenever they have dared to step into a profession. Flying planes during a war isn’t any different.

 

Ancient Ways by S. M. Stirling

 

 

4 Stars

A mercenary is hired to rescue a princess who didn’t really need to be rescued. The princess was a pleasant surprise.

 

Ninieslando by Howard Waldrop

 

3 Stars

A utopian dream to unite the world while a war goes on outside. Didn’t take too long for it to unravel.

 

Recidivist by Gardner Dozois

 

4 Stars

AIs rule the world. Humans don’t stand a chance against them yet they won’t give up fighting back or remembering how life used to be.

 

 

My Name is Legion by David Morrell

 

3 Stars

Sometimes, the enemy on the other side of the border is your friend. In this story, soldiers who trained together are forced to fight against each other when France daren’t go against Germany.

 

Defenders of the Frontier by Robert Silverberg

 

3 Stars

Soldiers have been manning an entry point into their empire for years now. No reinforcements have arrived for some time. The absence of enemies starts to make them think. Does the empire they have been defending even exist anymore?

 

The Scroll by David Ball

 

3 Stars

A bully of an emperor keeps an architect alive just to torture him. The ending was a letdown.

 

The Mystery Knight: A Tale of the Seven Kingdoms by George R. R. Martin

 

3 Stars

A tale of Egg, the squire who isn’t a squire, and the knight he serves.

 

I’d say, you won’t be missing much if you didn’t read this anthology. But that’s just me…

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review 2018-01-16 19:49
In the Land of Invented Languages / Arika Okrent
In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build a Perfect Language - Arika Okrent

Here is the captivating story of humankind’s enduring quest to build a better language—and overcome the curse of Babel. Just about everyone has heard of Esperanto, which was nothing less than one man’s attempt to bring about world peace by means of linguistic solidarity. And every Star Trek fan knows about Klingon. But few people have heard of Babm, Blissymbolics, Loglan (not to be confused with Lojban), and the nearly nine hundred other invented languages that represent the hard work, high hopes, and full-blown delusions of so many misguided souls over the centuries. With intelligence and humor, Arika Okrent has written a truly original and enlightening book for all word freaks, grammar geeks, and plain old language lovers.

 

  I think I would really enjoy sitting down for a cup of coffee and a discussion with this author! She is a linguist and linguistics is a favourite subject of mine. She knows a thing or two about the Library of Congress classification schedules too (or at least the P section of them, linguistics & languages), which appeals to my inner cataloguing nerd. Plus, she is just interested in words and their history and in the psychology of people who strive to build better languages.

I was absolutely gobsmacked at how many artificial languages are lurking out there and how often that particular bee seems to get into someone’s bonnet! Mostly, the creators seems to be altruists—Esperanto was going to be the language that allowed us all to understand one another and prevent future wars. Many of these language developers were hoping to express “pure” concepts and keep prejudice and politics out of things. Unfortunately for them, language just doesn’t work that way! One of the best uses of language is politicking! Also unfortunate is the tendency of these men (and I think we can say that it’s mostly men who attempt this) to be unable to let go and let their languages run free, to change during regular use. Their rigid attempts to control the people using their languages seemed to negate any positive uses for their creations.

I was amused as the author’s type-A, gung-ho attempt to learn Klingon. If I had been at that particular conference, I would have been right at her side competing to my heart’s content! I loved that in her author note at the end of the volume, she listed both PhDs and her Klingon 1st level pin as her accomplishments.

What I found a bit freaky: I returned to work on Monday (having read the book on the weekend) and the very first volume that I picked up to catalogue was written in Esperanto! (I’ve been working on a big collection of materials by and about H.G. Wells and am busy with translations right now.) That little piece of synchronicity was amusing.

 

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review 2018-01-16 19:47
Tales of Ancient Egypt / Roger Lancelyn Green
Tales of Ancient Egypt (Puffin Classics) - Heather Copley,Roger Lancelyn Green

These stories include the great myths - of Amen-Ra, who created all the creatures in the world; of Isis, seaching the waters for her dead husband Osiris; of the Bennu Bird and the Book of Thoth. But there are also tales told for pleasure about magic, treasure and adventure - even the first ever Cinderella story.

 

  If I have ever read a book of Egyptian myths before, I don’t remember it. This little volume was a very pleasant introduction to the Egyptian mythos—something that I’ve learned by osmosis while reading books about the land’s history and art and reading fiction set in Ancient Egypt. As in most mythologies, there are unexpected treasures.

The man who polished these little tales was a friend of C.S. Lewis and seems to have made his reputation on rewriting myths and legends for the children’s market. I realize now that the vocabulary of this volume was probably suitable for children, but it did not detract from my enjoyment as an adult reader. He blends history and myth to make both clearer for the reader.

I have always found the Ancient Egyptians to be fascinating—this volume merely reinforced my obsession.

 

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review 2018-01-15 15:35
Very Brief Thoughts: Snowbound with the Notorious Rake
Snowbound with the Notorious Rake - Sarah Mallory

Snowbound with the Notorious Rake
by Sarah Mallory

 

 

One wicked Christmas night…

Trapped by a blizzard, the sight of notorious rogue Sir Lawrence Daunton almost makes schoolteacher Rose Westerhill turn back into the snow!  When it becomes apparent she has nowhere else to go Rose accepts his offer of shelter, vowing to remain indifferent to his practiced charm.

But as the temperature outside drops, she finds the wicked rake's sizzling seduction impossible to resist.  For one stolen night Rose abandons her principles—and her body!—to his expert ministrations.  Christmas with the rakish Lawrence promises to be a thoroughly improper yuletide celebration….



This historical romance by Sarah Mallory was written really well, but the actual story and the characters were quite frustrating.  On top of that, I was a little disappointed that the entire "snowbound" scenario really only lasted a couple chapters, then the rest of the book was just a typical romance with a reformed rake and the prudish schoolteacher.  I may or may not have started drifting off, or setting the book aside due to boredom.

As for our couple, they were pretty standard.  I didn't find Sir Lawrence to stand out much, but he was a neutral, good man.  Rose was more likable during the snowbound duration, but afterwards, I feel like she was a bit over-extreme in her prejudice against Sir Lawrence.  I understand that she has a history and can see why she's so cautious, but she went to the point of simply wanting to always believe the worst of Sir Lawrence no matter that he'd been nothing but honorable towards her from the beginning.

In contrast, I found it kind of hard to believe that she would take the word of her fiance, Magnus, and her future sister-in-law, Althea, without really giving it more thought.  She's been around Magnus and Althea enough that you'd think she wouldn't place so much credence in their words or actions.  So it came across as her trying to find any reason possible to discredit Sir Lawrence, even if it hadn't been warranted.

The romance was super frustrating, and I'm not sure there were even any characters I liked.

The background mystery about the sunken ship, and the investigation of it seemed kind of blah.

I may try another Sarah Mallory book, but I DO hope that this one was just a fluke.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/01/very-brief-thoughts-snowbound-with.html
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