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    The Books I Read: September – October 2023

    Red Rising by Pierce Brown This has been out for a while, but it didn’t really get on my radar until Justin McElroy recommended it on The Besties. At first, I was dubious because I thought “eugh, another dystopian novel where people are separated into castes? And by color this time? Sounds so heavy-handed. Like I read this already in Shades of Grey. Or every other YA novel in the past ten years where teen girls get sorted by some arbitrary trait and enter a love triangle.” That happens, but it’s way better than you think. It’s like Hunger Games, Uglies, Harry Potter, and Leviathan Wakes all mixed together and…

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    The Books I Read: March – April 2022

    Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots If you’re looking for some superhero fiction, this would be an excellent place to start. This is about a henchwoman who becomes chief assistant to a supervillain because she figures out a way to really defeat heroes–in the court of public opinion. It’s all a matter of perspective–if you account for all the collateral damage they do, they end up doing more harm than good. There’s a little bit of John Scalzi’s Redshirts in here combined with Austin Grossman’s Soon I Will Be Invincible. But more to the fact, it’s “My Fair Lady”. The main woman starts at the bottom and becomes a super-villain in…

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    The Books I Read: September – October 2020

    The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal A true sequel to the first–it’s a race against time to keep humanity alive after a meteor has crashed on Earth, giving it a much closer expiration date. The only solution is to travel to space. All of this was all in the first book. Now that the space program’s been established, it’s time to put a colony on Mars. And our hero protagonist is part of the team making the year-long journey to the future with 1960’s technology. It’s not a complicated plot, but it’s still very good. Better than the first. Since the majority of the book takes place on the…

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    The Books I Read: May – June 2020

    Scarlet by Marissa Meyer(unfinished) It’s like the last book, I guess. It’s YA, has a strong female lead, takes place in a romanticized non-American country (France in this case). But I stopped at 40% because I just didn’t care about the characters. It’s half spin-off and half sequel. The new main is a “strong female character” who’s mean and angry just so she can appear tough. But in reality, she’s a screw-up who doesn’t know she’s a screw-up and then wonders why there are consequences for her actions. Her main goal is to find her grandma, who went missing two weeks ago. But the government’s not doing anything about it,…

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    The Books I Read: November – December 2018

    The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi So, like all second books in a series, I’m not sure why you’re reading this. If you haven’t read the first one, what’s this going to do. If you have read the first one, you already know if you want to read the second. Nonetheless, here are my thoughts. There is plenty here to sing praises about. The new world-building is fun and classic at the same time. It evokes the more sophisticated “low concept” stories of Heinlein and Asimov, using thick allegory and hard science to tell a story. One that’s not necessarily a happily ever after. It’s hard to tell he wrote…

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    The Books I Read: July – August 2018

    Firestarter by Stephen King(unfinished) I started it, but didn’t take long to decide not to continue. I’ve seen the movie, so there was nothing here for me but King’s overwriting and quaint New England phraseology. It’s written as an unfolding thriller, but there’s no thrill when you know how it ends. There’s no “this scene was in the book, but not the movie” to add value because it’s a pretty strict adaptation. And it’s antiquated–Vietnam vets and the energy crisis are so far removed from pop culture he might as well be talking about the World War I flu epidemic. I’ve decided I don’t slog though any of King’s early…

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    The Books I Read: March – April 2018

    Out of My Mind by Sharon R. Draper It’s very good. I was invested right away and I didn’t expect to be. It’s like Wonder in that the kid has a disability, but in this case, it’s cerebral palsy. The mind works fine, but the body doesn’t. And thus we get a nice look at the terrible way schools lump all the “special ed” kids in a single room, whereas Wonder was about bullying and prejudice and superficiality. It dragged in the middle, but it’s not a scmaltzy ending like Wonder. (I mean, Wonder by Natalie Merchant for the movie trailer? Really?) As one would expect, it’s inspirational, but not…

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    The Books I Read: March – April 2017

    I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga(unfinished) I love Barry Lyga, but I had to stop after twenty-five percent. There was too much telling and not enough showing. The story’s about a teenager who knows all the serial killer tricks because his father was one. So there’s analysis, backstory, and thinking, but not much action. Too much of the text is setup for the ongoing series, not the current story. I wanted to know what’s happening with the murder now, not ten years ago. It would have been better if the text was presented in flashbacks so there was more immediacy, instead of recall. The narrator is just not interesting enough…

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    The Books I Read: July – August 2015

    The Complete Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson Every Calvin and Hobbes strip, beginning to end. It’s the likability of Peanuts with the humor of Dennis the Menace. I’ll never know how Bill Watterson came up with so many unique strips using only four characters — one of which is imaginary (or is he?). Peanuts added and dropped new faces all the time and Dennis the Menace was only one panel. When I was younger, I got my fix of C & H collections in the library, but reading them in chronological order, you can see the scatters and misfires in the beginning, the peaks in the middle, and the…

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    NerdCon: Stories (Minneapolis Oct 9-10 2015)

    So here’s my write-up on attending NerdCon: Stories. To summarize, I’m not sure how much I learned, but I was definitely entertained. There wasn’t anything about the publishing industry or how to get an agent, but that was all right. That wasn’t what I was expecting. This con was focused on the fundamentals behind the story: why they matter, what effect they can have. The medium didn’t matter. Novel, movie, or song. Horror, erotica, or adventure. Stories are what makes us human. Let’s go to the rundown. Unlike Convergence, there was a lot more “everybody goes to this” events scheduled. The only thing scheduled in the morning was mainstage entertainment.…