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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-11-03 21:41
Reading Anniversaries & First-in-a-Series — July Edition

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on November 3, 2018.

 

2017

20898019

 

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

 

This was my first encounter with Kamala Khan and boy did I love what I read! What made her an authentic character were her lifelike issues, including those of being a teenager, a superhero coming into her powers, of trying to find her place in the world, and of being a Muslim American girl. She wanted to eat bacon, for instance, but couldn't because of her religious beliefs. She wanted to be able to just worry about her school, but she couldn't because she was a superhero with a job to do. So far, the series has stayed true to what makes it unique. I hope it does that in the future too.

 

Read my reviews of other volumes here and here.

 

180995

 

Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart, Daniel Klein

 

If there is one subject that I have always found boring, it is philosophy. That remained the case no matter how hard I tried until, i.e., I found this book. Hilarious and light, it walks you through complicated philosophical concepts like you are out for a walk in the park...or a bar!

 

Complete review here.

 

2015

 

18748058

 

Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna

 

I hadn't started reading many comics and graphic novels back when I read this series. To my surprise, not only did I like it, but I also connected with the characters. Like most awesome literature, this one is based in a dystopian world. I binged through the whole series before I could pace myself. Hope others will give it a chance too.

 

2014

 

6931246

 

Kraken by China Miéville

 

It isn't that China Miéville's books are full of action or just really good stories. Well, they might be all that too. But if I remember correctly, this one was a collection of very random situations that somehow came together to give us a conclusion. Yet, I didn't want to put the book down even once. It was that good!

 

13480659

 

Helens of Troy by Janine MsCaw

 

** spoiler alert **


What I liked: T
he book was fun- the ladies (all three of them) were crazy and stubborn but they delivered when the occasion called for it. That there were more secrets to unveil- a sequel would be awesome.


What I didn't like: T
he rest of the characters were as fun to read about- Tom, Ryan, poor Stan, and Jacey.

Would have liked a bit more about Jacey's baby- whether the vampire was bluffing and how did he found out about the kid, anyway.

there wasn't any information about how the wraith brothers teamed up with the vampire in the first place. Really fun read- demon nannies, vampire godsons, exorcizing runaway husbands, berserker football players, and ghost dads; the book has it all- & I would love to meet the grandmother-I'm sure she kicks ass too. She won't be on the Devil's hit list otherwise!

17235026

 

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

 

** spoiler alert ** 


This is the book to read if you like a little science in your zombie fiction. The author uses a fungal agent as the cause of zombieism. The fungus, ophiocordyceps unilateralis, is real. It infects and zombifies certain ants. 
It even has favorites among the same types of ants!


Not only did I love the sciencey bits, I remember starting that book cold. I hadn’t read any reviews and as a result, the moment when I realized who the little girl could be was delicious! Read this book, if you don’t read any other zombie fiction!

 

2013

 

41804

 

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

 

I dunno what I can say about this book that hasn't been said about it already. Asimov wrote a definitive book that all future sci-fi robot-based books are inspired by. What do you say about such work?

More reviews of Asimov books here.

 

 

13239822

 

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

 

I don't remember much about this book, except that I really liked it. Some of the scenes read like they were from The Exorcist but with a decidedly Mediterranean flavor. Others were simply Aladdin-ish. In short, the book was a lot of fun.

 

 

8442457

 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

 

Okay, I hate reading popular books at their height of popularity. Dunno why I made an exception for this one, but I am so glad I did! The twist was beautifully done. Ooh, and I loved the movie too.

 

2213661

 

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

 

I don't like everything that I read by Neil Gaiman. But this book is one of my absolute favorites. Whether it was the callousness of the villains who'd harm a baby or the open-heartedness of the people whose hearts had stopped beating, I loved every bit. Weirdly, I found this book to be less dark than Coraline and that one was aimed at kids!

 

Another review here.

 

 

11

 

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

 

Funny as heck and quite spontaneous. Most books in this series seem to be following no discernible plot. That becomes a turn off as you continue with the series. But the humor is good in this one and as long as I didn't binge, it made for an enjoyable read. Funnily enough, I have yet to meet someone who liked both the first book and the movie like I did.

 

5470

 

1984 by George Orwell

 

Another classic. I loved how authentic it felt and how dangerously close the real world teeters to becoming Orwellian. For a slim book, it takes some time to finish because it becomes a bit boring at certain times. My favorite parts were about the new dictionary that was being prepared. To a writer, no word is redundant because they all mean different things — even synonyms. Red isn't scarlet and neither is crimson. Reading about words just being unmade hurt the writer in me. But it has only made me appreciate my vocabulary. So, I am really glad that I read this one.

 

2012

 

13627273

 

Wastes of Space by Darcy Town

 

Wow!
This book had me laughing out loud!
The humor kinda reminded me of the book, Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi.
I enjoyed every second I spent reading this book.
I wanted to hit Danny over the head for being so stubborn and getting Theo killed-nope, didn’t feel sorry for Keto even once!
I started to feel weird and grossed out when I first started liking the Hunters but they came through in the end.
Rake was..clean Rake was almost too much to take and I kept thinking, Poor Ravail, what have you gotten yourself into!
Ravail came a long way from being a scared kid to a woman who could mouth off to Rake!
The last scenes were hilarious– everybody ended up in space.
Can’t wait to read the next book!

 

 

155421

 

Something from the Nightside by Simon R. Green

 

I love the Nightside novels now but back when I just started reading it, it reminded me too much of Harry Dresden books. Almost gave up on them too, but thankfully, I developed this craving to read the next one in the series. These days, I prefer the Nightside to Dresdenverse!

 

More reviews here and here.

 

 

8390526

 

Akhet by H.L. Reasby

 

** spoiler alert ** I received this book from Making Connections for free, in exchange of, an honest review. Get your copy here.

 

I really enjoyed this book for various reasons:
anything that has to do with mythology always attracts me and the author incorporated Egyptian mythology into this story beautifully.
the action begins with the first page and keeps going!
the story kept me interested throughout and it was the right length.
I liked how Nur/Nicole knew some things instinctively while she had to work to get better at others.
Another thing I liked about this book was that it can be read as a stand alone.
Looking forward to reading the next in the series.

 

13538873

 

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

 

A cute book about books. Read it for a bookish challenge and found out that it is a good book to relax with on a lazy day. I'll just say that it bogged down just a bit before the end. But it picked up its pace again quickly.

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review 2018-09-11 21:50
Beggars in Spain / Nancy Kress
Beggars in Spain - Nancy Kress

In this future, some people need no sleep at all. Leisha Camden was genetically modified at birth to require no sleep, and her normal twin Alice is the control. Problems and envy between the sisters mirror those in the larger world, as society struggles to adjust to a growing pool of people who not only have 30 percent more time to work and study than normal humans, but are also highly intelligent and in perfect health.

The Sleepless gradually outgrow their welcome on Earth, and their children escape to an orbiting space station to set up their own society. But Leisha and a few others remain behind, preaching acceptance for all humans, Sleepless and Sleeper alike. With the conspiracy and revenge that unwinds, the world needs a little preaching on tolerance.

 

I read this original short story version of this title in July of this year. I was sufficiently impressed that I ordered the novelized version through interlibrary loan and I’m glad that I read both versions. Ms. Kress really managed to flesh out the ideas better when she had a bit more elbow room.

Now, I love to sleep. It is one of the basic human pleasures and when I have occasional bouts of wakefulness during the night I am pretty cranky the next day. I have never, ever wished to do without sleep (although sometimes, during particularly exciting periods of my life, I’ve declared that I’ll sleep when I’m dead). I once had a coworker who just hated the idea of sleep—like Roger Camden, father of our main character Leisha in this novel, she thought sleep was a complete waste of time. Each night, she would try to shave off minutes of sleep, working her way towards eliminating it. And she completely failed because sleep is really, really important to our health. (See Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams for an excellent discussion of these ideas). It really is the basis for avoiding illness and being able to reason and make sensible decisions.

The one thing that bothered me about the assumptions in this work was the conflation of not needing sleep with increased intelligence. It was my understanding that parents in the book could choose either/or for their genetically modified offspring. Just because a child was one of the Sleepless didn’t necessarily mean that they would be super smart or would have driving ambition. I guess those options were almost always chosen together? And much longer life was an accidental genetic change, much more likely to cause envy, in my opinion.

One other assumption annoyed me—why would being extremely smart curtail a person’s compassion? This whole idea that the rest of humanity consisted of beggars, not only not pulling their own weight, but relying on others for their support. Leisha, although she appears to be emotionally stunted, maintains that everyone has their place in the economic ecosystem, as people actually do in our world. I am left to suppose that the genes for sleep (or lack of the need for it) and/or intelligence would somehow also affect the genes for feeling emotion, not a proposition that I accept.

Despite these misgivings, I found the book to be an interesting exploration of intolerance, including taking it to the extremes to see what could happen. There is, of course, the old warning against messing around with genetics without fully realizing the consequences and then our new demographic group goes on to repeat the pattern. That particular ‘message’ is becoming a bit boring, honestly, but I still enjoy a book in which it is approached with a new twist, such as this one.

Book number 294 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Project.

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text 2018-09-11 15:51
Reading progress update: I've read 340 out of 438 pages.
Beggars in Spain - Nancy Kress

 

Wow, I'm glad that I decided to find the full novel.  The short story was very good, but I like what she's done with more elbow room.

 

Lots to think about, for sure.

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text 2018-09-10 18:21
Reading progress update: I've read 110 out of 438 pages.
Beggars in Spain - Nancy Kress

 

7 Days until this is due at the library.  It's an interlibrary loan, so I can't renew.

 

I think my mission for this evening is clear:  Make a dent this volume (after I clean the bathroom, a task which I shirked over the weekend).

 

Dinner is leftovers.  Yay!  Soup made with Italian sausages, tomatoes, chicken broth, navy beans & veggies.  Plus the last remaining cornmeal muffin.

 

 

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text 2018-09-07 21:17
Reading progress update: I've read 80 out of 438 pages.
Beggars in Spain - Nancy Kress

Does the hatred that we have seen flower so fully over the past few months really grow, as many claim, from the "unfair advantage" the Sleepless have over the rest of us in securing jobs, promotions, money, and success? Or does it come from something more pernicious, rooted in our tradition of shoot-from-the-hip American action: hatred of the logical, the calm, the considered? Hatred in fact of the superior mind.

 

Or, as Isaac Asimov said, “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”  

 

 

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