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review 2014-05-06 20:41
Almost Perfect Read: Star Trek Cross Stitch Book
Star Trek Cross-Stitch: Explore Strange New Worlds of Crafting - John Lohman

It was cute, well designed (using quotes and photographs from the show to highlight the designs themselves), and very informative.   It goes over why to start from the middle, which is pretty much always the suggestions, where exactly to start from, and what colors to start with and the other colors to move onto next.  It describes the materials you need, explains what they are, and tells you exactly what color thread you'll need to use, how long to cut the thread, and how many strands to use. 


It tells you how to get cross stitch on a onsie, which may not seem to work at first.   (I was wondering, and know I know!)


I don't know why this is a four star instead of a five star.   Or I do.   It just wasn't that great of a read for me.   There was something missing that could have elevated it into a five star read: since the writing and instructions were fantastic, I don't think it was technical.   It was also quite funny, and spoke to the Star Trek fans, the niche market for this book.   I guess I didn't have that much of an emotional attachment to this book, but it wasn't really meant for that.   It didn't have the buildup, the character development, that usually cause emotional attachment for me in fiction, or didn't say anything about humanity like so much non-fiction does. 


It was, however, an enjoyable and quick read.   It was quite good at what it was trying to do - which was telling you how to cross stitch some damn fine nerdery.   I was most impressed by the Picard and Kirk portraits, which were detailed and, quite frankly, intense.   Can't say I'd buy this (it was a library read), nor that I'd take it out again, but it was fun for the short time it lasted.   


Highly suggested if you want to cross stitch something nerdy and fun for a friend or family member, especially if they're into all things Trek.  (They have Deep Space Nine, TNG and TOS covered in this book.)



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text 2014-04-15 07:15
Strange Worlds Sci-fi Book Club Reading List 2014-15
The Beautiful Land - Alan Averill
The Shining Girls - Lauren Beukes
Raising Stony Mayhall - Daryl Gregory
The Martian - Andy Weir
Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie

It's so funny to already be thinking about book club selections for summer of 2015, but it's that time again. My group picked their list for the coming year and I couldn't be more excited. So many goodies to look forward to. This past year we focused a lot on setting and world building, and next year we plan to focus on character. Heroes, Villians, & Monsters is our official theme. Did I mention I'm excited? I really really am.


Here's our list for the next 15 months, mostly for my own reference:


May:   Jack Glass by Adam Roberts
Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis
The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells 
August: Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi
September:  The Beautiful Land by Alan Averill
October:  Annihilation:  Book 1 of the Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer
November:  The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
December:  Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory
January:  A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
February: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
March: Ammonite by Nicola Griffith
April:  Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
May: The Martian by Andy Weir
June: Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
July: Vicious by V.E. Schwab


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review 2014-04-11 07:03
China Mountain Zhang: Or... What if China ruled the world?
China Mountain Zhang - Maureen F. McHugh

First thing is first: this is a book more focused on setting and character than plot. If you go into it with that expectation (or no expectation, as I did) I think this book will be a worthwhile journey. However, if you're looking for something fast-paced, or that all ties together in a neat bow, you might want to look elsewhere. Each chapter is its own somewhat self-contained glimpse into a future where China has become the predominant world superpower. Some of the chapters tie together more than others, and half of them follow the same main character. They build together not so much to tell a story (though they do) but mostly to form well drawn character sketches and a fleshed out world. Many of the stories made me sad, but almost all of them kept me intrigued. My greatest trepidation with this book was that I wanted more, especially concerning a few of the side characters. But if my #1 gripe was that I was left wanting more I suppose that only speaks to the quality of McHugh's writing skills.

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review 2014-03-18 09:13
The Killing Moon: aka meditations on dreams and dying
The Killing Moon - N.K. Jemisin

I have a complicated relationship with this book. It's the first book I've read after losing my mother to a rather horrible and drawn out death process. That alone would make my interactions with this book unique. Now add in that a large part of this book centers on death, ideas about dying, and the philosophical arguments around euthanasia, and...like I said: complicated. That makes it hard for me to objectively rate or review this one. I'll give it a try and do my best.


The first thing I should say is that the world building and writing were exceptionally rich. Jemisin has a way of fleshing out her book's culture and world with a few well chosen words rather than long exposition. The pacing didn't suffer or lag even though much of this book is somewhat lacking in traditional action. It is lush rather than flashy. On the flip side I found the characters, though refreshingly believable, fairly one dimensional. Even by the end of the book I didn't feel any real emotional connection to them. Part of that is due to the fact that most of the main characters are trying so hard to reign themselves in that their responses become practiced rather than genuine. They are more like representations of roles rather than individuals. All in all I'd recommend this to people who want to try a fantasy that is focused on mythology (especially if Egyptian myths are of interest), politics, and morality. It's a nice departure from the more traditional swords and sorcery that dominate much of the genre.

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review 2014-01-19 05:47
Snow Crash: Or Cyberpunk Fun with a Side of Linguistics Research
Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson

This book is really difficult for me to rate and review. It felt so much like two distinct and separate books crammed into one. I loved one of those books. The other, not so much.

First and foremost I have to start off by saying that this book probably has my favorite first chapter of any book. Period. It's amazing. And had the rest of the book followed along that track it would easily be a 5 star read for me. That, however, sadly isn't the case. The cyberpunk geek in me fell in love with the world, and even Hiro for all his flaws. (YT less so. Mostly for gender issues.) The portions of the story that revolved around Hiro's adventures both in the real world and online were fast paced and fun. I was also intrigued by Juanita (and grossly disappointed by the trajectory her character takes in the second half of the book). The idea of information being viral is something that I found intriguing and and drew me in.

All in all an excellent start. And then you get about a third of the way into the book and run straight into one of the lengthiest and most inelegant info-dumps I have ever read. The focus of the book shifts to linguistics research, and ancient cultures. Now, this might be somewhat forgivable, except that all the information you are bombarded with isn't really that vital, and it is (damningly) rehashed later and summarized in about 5 pages. And that's really the core issue. It feels like someone stuffed a grad thesis in the middle of a cyberpunk adventure book. It clashes in the worst way, and obliterates the flow to the point where it was very difficult for me to get back into the book once the action started to ramp back up. Hence, very conflicting feeling on the book as a whole. All in all I enjoyed the book, but it does make me hesitant to try some of Stephenson's other works.

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