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review 2018-07-16 03:12
A Meeting at Corvallis
A Meeting at Corvallis - S.M. Stirling

I am done with this series.  

 

A Meeting at Corvallis, the third book in first Emberverse trilogy, unfortunately didn't return to the magic of the 1st in this series.  Too much battle info-dumping, not enough people behaving believably.

 

That said, I did cry

 

at the death of Mike Havel

(spoiler show)

 

 

But I'm just done.  If I want the minutia of military campaigns and what people ate, I'll go read some L.E. Modesitt Jr. At least his villains aren't such caricatures. 

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review 2018-06-17 23:42
Dark Triumph (My Fair Assassin #2)
Dark Triumph - Robin LaFevers

It's been a number of years since I read Grave Mercy, the first book in the My Fair Assassin Trilogy by Robin LaFevers.  I didn't take the time to write a review, but I rated it a 4 star book. I do remember enjoying the coming-of-age story regarding assassin nuns in a fictionalized Brittany where supernatural gods/saints interact with the real world.   

 

The second book in the trilogy Dark Triumph just didn't hold my interest. On the one hand, I couldn't put it down, on the other I found myself speed-reading/skimming just to find out what happened.  I know I missed a lot of details, but I have no interest in going back to pick up what I missed.

 

I don't know how much of my opinion is due to the specific book and how much of that is due to changes in reading taste (after a number of YA heavy years I seem to be reading more traditional SF). I do think I will eventually give the last book in the trilogy a try.

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review 2018-06-16 01:49
Before the Fall
Before the Fall - Noah Hawley

Several colleagues and I started an IRL book club at work four months ago.  We met at lunchtime on Thursday to discuss Before the Fall.  Marketed as a thriller with the hook “On a foggy summer night, eleven people—ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter—depart Martha's Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are the painter Scott Burroughs and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul's family.” The book follows Scott in the days immediately following the crash with flashbacks to the lives of the now-deceased passengers and crew.

 

Surprisingly, our opinion of the book was unanimous.  Pretty much everybody was intrigued by the concept of the book and hated the execution. The general feeling was that Before the Fall wasn’t suspenseful enough for the thriller designation and that the story stopped living up to the promise of the opening sequence as soon as Scott left the hospital.

 

As one of my colleagues said, this book is awash in red herrings, but rather than them being fat meaty fish that we could believe in, there’s this swarm of pink minnows darting around pallid characters. 

 

While you can’t really say anything about how the book ends, or “whodunit” without spoilers, we were dissatisfied with how the book ended and had some significant questions about the timing of certain things.

 

As an aside, while the consensus is that we are unlikely to read anything else by Mr. Hawley, we wish that Gil the security guard had survived the crash so that he could be the protagonist of his own book.

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text 2018-06-03 22:44
May Musings

Still haven’t been feeling the urge to review as much, so here’s another quick month-end summary. I read 4 pieces of fiction and parts of 3 non-fiction books during May.

 

Fiction:

 

A is for Alibi - Sue Grafton 

 

A is for Alibi is the first book in the long-running “Alphabet Mysteries" series. While the novel was originally contemporary, it now reads as a period piece from the days before cell-phones.  While there were some wobbles, I’ve been looking for a new mystery series and I’m curious to see what kind of writer Sue Grafton matures into.  Ms. Grafton, unfortunately, died at the end of 2017.

 

Ninefox Gambit - Yoon Ha Lee 

 

Ninefox Gambit was the winner of the 2016 Locus Award as wells as being nominated for the 2017 Hugo, Nebula And Arthur C. Clarke Awards. I read Mr. Lee's first full-length novel because the sequel was nominated for the 2018 Hugo Award.  The start of Ninefox Gambit was very confusing start as you are thrown headlong into a very inventive world.  But I very much enjoyed the story once all the players were in motion. I’m likely to re-read this since I feel like I missed a lot of the nuance.

  •  
  • All Systems Red - Martha Wells 

 

I’ve been seeing  glowing reviews of All Systems Red  on my feed for a while, and was able to download the ebook for free from Tor.com in April.  The story won the 2018 Nebula Award for Best Novella. I'm glad I spent the time with Murderbot and I hope that my local library makes the sequels available.

 

The Protector's War - S.M. Stirling 

  

Meh.  See stand-alone review of the The Protector's War  

 

 

Non-Fiction:

 

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life - Ed Yong  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot  A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie - Kathryn Harkup  

 

I finally finished I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, which was the March selection from the Flat Book Society. The story of the microbiome was interesting, but for whatever reason, I found it hard to maintain the attention needed to follow Ed Yong’s well-researched summary.  I love that, while I Contain Multitudes was clearly written for a general audience, the back 20% of the book was still footnotes and citations of primary documents.

 

My IRL book-club read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for our mid-May meeting.  I’d read it several years ago as an audiobook.  I didn’t start until a week before the meeting and had finished about the first 1/3 by our discussion.  After the meeting, I just didn’t feel like taking the time to finish, so moved on to other things.

 

I read a few chapters in A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie  by Kathryn Harkup, which was the Flat Book Society selection for May.  As a non-Christie reader, I didn't find it all that compelling and chose not to finish.

 

Happy Reading!

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photo 2018-06-01 19:46

 

Picked up some books for the #LibraryLoveChallenge.

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