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    The Books I Read: March – April 2023

    Circe by Madeline Miller This was attempt number two at reading. Not the book’s fault, it was me. At the time, I wasn’t in the headspace to read something heavy and steeped in the Classics. But now, Greek mythology is having a renaissance (or did it ever disappear?) with God of War, Hades, Lore Olympus. That, combined with my own ambition to write a book about Medusa, I felt I had to give this one a second try for research. Madeline Miller is obviously versed in classics and Greek mythology so the text is not easy. I mean, it’s not Proust or anything, but you will feel like an adult…

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    The Books I Read: July – August 2022

    Watership Down by Richard Adams (unfinished) The thing I like about this book is the world-building. It gives you a good picture of what it’s like to be a prey animal. Anyone writing a fantasy novel where there are “cannon fodder” beings like grunts, goblins, or kobolds should read at least part of this book to understand what their society is like. What is the pecking order when everyone and everything can kill you and the only thing you can have dominance over is yourselves. But I stopped when I’d been reading for about three weeks and was still less than 50% finished. It’s just too long. It’s written in…

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    The Books I Read: May – June 2022

    Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree Well, it delivers what it promises–it’s a cozy story with little danger or tension. It’s just about a female orc who builds a coffee shop from scratch. People are skeptical at first, as anyone would be when a giantess wants to start a small business instead of eat babies. But everyone loves it. She encounters troubles but they’re all minor–a complaining customer here, a gang boss who wants a cut there. But everyone falls in love with her and wins them over. Like a DCOM but without attempts at funny. It doesn’t go into much detail around the world-building–it seems very based on World…

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    The Books I Read: November – December 2021

    Truth of the Divine (Noumena #2) by Lindsay Ellis This is the second book by Lindsay Ellis, famed (now ex-)YouTube video essayist, which continues the story of Cora–a young woman who made first contact with a set of very uncommunicative aliens. One in particular (Ampersand) and she have some kind of bond that’s hard to explain but is essentially love-based-on-shared-traumatic experience. Well, in the second one, the aliens are just as uncommunicative to the point of maddening. Don’t get me wrong, the beginning is strong. Cora is experiencing some severe PTSD from the first book, having A) failed to save a baby alien B) gone through this horrific adventure of…

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    The Books I Read: May – June 2021

    Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella This is the first chick lit I’ve read in a while. The last one I think was The She-Hulk Diaries? And I only read that for a very specific giant green woman reason. The setup is quick. In the first chapter, there’s a lot of telling, not showing, about exactly the state of her life: work, family, social. Boom, boom, boom. Going right to the high concept–that being the main character sees the ghost of her 108-year-old aunt at her funeral. The problem with this book, which I was worried about (and my worries came true) are two big ghost cliches: 1) they’re assholes 2)…

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    The Books I Read: January – February 2021

    Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman(re-read) I was watching the Netflix series Ragnarök and decided I needed to catch up on my Norse gods. It’s not Marvel’s Thor, so you can’t just wing it. You have to remember who Tyr and Fenrir are and that Frost Giants aren’t just cannon fodder to be whacked around. It still holds up pretty well. I maintain the same opinion from my first review. One new problem I realized is that there is a lack of continuity between tales. One guy dies and is immediately resurrected in the next story. No explanation why (or ever). But that’s a symptom of a spotty written record. I…

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    The Books I Read: March – April 2020

    The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal I had never read Mary Robinette Kowal before. I admit, I’m a little green-eyed at her. She’s one of those people that can’t seem to fail at anything they do. She’s an art director, she’s a theater producer, she’s a puppeter working with Jim Henson Productions. One day she just decides “now I’ll be a writer” and immediately gets book deals and awards and becomes president of SFWA. Meanwhile, I’m writing novel after novel, trying to get published, throwing darts in the dark hoping I word vomit out something well-written and marketable. But I digress. This is about the book. The Calculating Stars…

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    The Books I Read: November 2019

    Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman This is an epistolary YA novel that’s meant to accurately portray the life of a young lady in 12XX. She’s not a peasant, but she’s certainly no princess in a castle. She has a nice manor and some servants, but what this girl really wants, she can’t seem to get–freedom. She’s supposed to sew, cook, and do medicine (which involved a lot of herbs), but those are only the in-between times of babymaking. There’s a lot of praying and going to church, as well as playing pranks on others (I think at one point she throws her sewing down the outhouse). Her central conflict…

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    The Books I Read: July – August 2019

    Year One by Nora Roberts This is the nicest apocalypse I’ve ever seen. It was advertised to me as a big epic story like The Stand, but with magic. It even has a mystery flu as the apocalypse-causing incident. But The Stand, this ain’t. Where’s the bleakness? Where’s the stakes? Where’s the beef? The blurbs and reviews made it out like the next best thing since Patrick Rothfuss, but really it’s just a standard novel that feels like it belongs on mass market shelves at the grocery store. I was hoping for a unique twist, but it’s underdeveloped. And all you get are a bunch of nice people doing nice…

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    The Books I Read: May – June 2019

    Titan by John Varley As I expected with “classic” science fiction, this stuff is just weird. A group of space explorers (including a set of incestuous test-tube twins) find a Dyson sphere that’s part living, part machine. Inside the sphere, our heroes find giant landscapes, geographical features akin to Avatar’s Pandora, and a war between centaurs and angels (their names for these alien beings). It reminds me of “Jitterbug Perfume” and “The Demolished Man” — critically acclaimed and difficult to understand. And like those books, there’s a lot of unnecessary sex in there. It’s really obvious, like the sex was put in there to sell the book. I’ll be honest,…