- the magic of books -

Reading is magical to me...I'd rather read than do almost anything else.  Well, ok, there are a few things I'd rather do, but ... you get the picture.


I read mostly genre fiction - currently fantasy, thrillers, sic-fi and my newest craze, urban fantasy.


I'm a reader - not an author - as you can most likely tell by my love of ellipsis, my inappropriate use of commas, and my current infatuation with en dashes.

Cas is back!

Half Life (Russell's Attic Book 2) - SL Huang

Cas is back! Still frighteningly smart. Still capable of factoring all sorts of trajectories and vectors in split-second timing to dodge almost anything. And now, she's added a few more items to her repertoire - ethics and friends! Yes, Cas is struggling with the concepts, but what is fascinating is that we get to be inside her head and watch her slowly evolve and mature. The great thing about Cas is that she doesn't always make the right decision, but has enough self-awareness to acknowledge that and does try to fix things when she can.The cast of characters in the story has expanded a bit in a very realistic and organic way, and the characters themselves are faceted and well written.

The main plotline (there are a couple of side plots too) involves saving an AI 'robot' in the form of a 5-year old girl (Liliana) from the clutches of an evil corporation, but as in the first book of the series, "Zero Sum Game", there are shades of grey in almost every player in this book. And, no matter how endearing and human the emotions portrayed by the AI construct, the emotions are still only programmed, right? They may tug at our heartstrings, but it's only software, right? Yet ... I dunno. I love it when book makes one reconsider some previously held opinions.

This is a fast-paced book with wonderful characters, and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. The writing was tight and clean, with great touches of humor. There was a glimpse of Rio, and it also touched on events from the first book, including more hints of what might have happened to Cas in the past. I believe the 3rd book in the series is due towards the end of this year, and a new short story featuring Rio is due soon. I can't wait for either.

Well...um...sorry about the littering!

I decided to update/correlate my ebook orders with my Booklike account, so industriously went through recent orders, used the "Shelve It" app, and shelved my recent buys.


It wasn't until I took a break and came back to my dashboard that I realized I just dumped a bunch of posts to everyone following.  I mean, I've seen it before, but for some reason I didn't realize just how cluttered it looks, so ... I'm sorry!


I'm done for now, and will be more aware and judicious in the future.


What ended up being sorta neat is that because I have others on my Amazon account, I have a bunch of books I hadn't realized were part of my kindle library, so expanded my TBR pile considerably.  They do mention/ask when purchasing books or series, but because my mind can be like a sieve at times, I forget those books until I dig around in my account.


Soooo ... apologies again, and happy reading to ya'll!



Zero Sum Game

Zero Sum Game (Russell's Attic) - SL Huang

If all self published books were as tightly written and edited as Zero Sum Game, I’d fill my kindle with SPAs.


This was a great thriller with some very interesting characters.  The main protagonist, Cas Russell, is a mathematical genius in her 20s with some definite character flaws. Not cute flaws, but serious ones - an inability to understand or connect with most people and a very hyper sense of survival with ‘kill ‘em all’ being her first defense against anyone threatening her. 


Oh - that math genius bit? Very useful because she can see and factor vectors/trajectories/consequences of anything around her in a split second, and can use that knowledge to dodge or manipulate objects to avoid or mitigate the effects of, well, even bullets at time. Is it realistic? I have no idea, but it sounded reasonable, and since I totally suck at spatial anything, I bought it.  Seriously, any type of fight scene I mostly glaze over, whether swordplay, battles, space fighters, because I’m clueless when it comes to that sort of thing, so I just enjoyed the idea of someone able to factor all that intricate math to their advantage.

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Argh! Cliffhanger? Really?

The Counterfeit Agent - Alex Berenson

Ok, I've enjoyed this series so far.  In a sense it's fairly predictable, but I've found the character of John Wells interesting, and I did somewhat enjoy this book until I closer and closer to the 100% mark and realized that there just wasn't room to tidy everything up.  I mean, there was closure to some plots, but the main one is still in limbo. The thing that was so annoying is that this book did feel like it was meandering along, and wasn't a tightly woven as the earlier books were, but I put that down to the author getting weary of the series. Now I get it. It was meant to be a lot of filler to stretch this out over 2 books.


I really hate cliffhangers. Will I read the next one? Right now I feel a bit duped and probably will give any forthcoming books a miss.





Nexus - Ramez Naam

I was so impressed with the book Three, that I went cruising over to the publisher's site and found this one.  The publisher, Angry Robot Books, specializes in contemporary sci-fi, with a crossover twist, if possible.  I'm not a huge fan of traditional straightforward sci-fi with other worlds 'n spaceships, but I do love this style of speculative fiction.


Nexus delivered.  I'm going to copy the blurb because they do a much better job of it than I can!


"In the near future, the experimental nano-drug Nexus can link human together, mind to mind. There are some who want to improve it. There are some who want to eradicate it. And there are others who just want to exploit it.


When a young scientist is caught improving Nexus, he’s thrust over his head into a world of danger and international espionage – for there is far more at stake than anyone realizes."


Here's what was so amazing to me.  That idea - linking mind to mind - is abhorrent to me. I mean, I laughingly call Google 'n Facebook "the devil" because I just hate the idea of loss of privacy, of having a Big Brother type entity tracking me.  Yuck.


So, I started reading this and mentally screaming at all these incredibly naive people wanting everyone to be linked in a kumbayah-ish type of hippie awareness.  Been there, got the t-shirt, m'kay? (To clarify - I spent part of my childhood in a religious cult-like community, so I'm very leery of anything resembling mind control). Yet, as the book progressed, I was drawn to the characters, recognizing their naiveté and still understanding their motivations, their deep down desire to do what's good. I kept thinking what if that technology is already out there - how do we react?  How can you keep something like that out of the hands of the baddies?  That was the struggle in this book - what would you do?  Of course, by the time of the events in this book, nano technology, gene enhancements, cyber warfare has already become commonplace so the average person has been somewhat acclimatized to this.


This could be characterized as a thriller, and I love thrillers, but what I really found appealing was the journey towards the book's denouement, and the philosophical questions raised and explored. Oddly enough, by the book's end 

I was rooting for "dude, open source it!" 

(show spoiler)






Three (Book 1 of the Dustwalkers Cycle)

Three - Jay Posey

Once again, a great find found from the blog of another BookLiker - BookStooge's review intrigued me enough to buy this and yes - he was right on the money.  Three is a deftly written story set in a dystopian future with nicely drawn characters and felt 'just right'.  There is a romantic element, but it felt natural and just enough to flesh out the characters.  There is a sort of hero's journey, but told with just the right amount of pacing that it never feels forced or trope-ish.  The society is broken, but not to the point where all hope is gone.  There are no zombies!  There are the Weir, however, who appear to be cyber enhanced humans (or former humans?).  This brings me to what I found was the most interesting part of this novel.


We don't know how society fell apart.  We don't know the causes.  We don't know exactly what the Weir are.  We're not told a lot about this world and situation, and yet, somehow, that doesn't matter because this is about the characters - about Three, a lone gunman.  About Wren, an endearing kid with some pretty marvelous, but uncontrolled, powers.  About Cass, Wren's mom, who is struggling to save her child, and to redeem herself.


Bits of everyone's backstory is revealed throughout the book, but not everything. And I loved it.


I was so impressed with this book and author, that I have the second in the cycle on preorder. I also went to the publisher's website, Angry Robots, bookmarked it, and bought another excellent book from them (Nexus).  

Half-Off Ragnarok

Half-Off Ragnarok - Seanan McGuire

I love Seanan McGuire!  I love the In-Cryptid series.  I really liked this book, but I think my expectations were too high.  This was good, no doubt about it, but I missed Verity. This focused on Verity's brother, Alex, who is also a cryptozooligist, only out in the fields rather than in a more urban setting. 


In a weird way, the first third of the book almost felt very Verity-ish, except she was a he. It was written in that same breezy, slightly snarky and very offhand style that I love but it just didn't ring true for Alex.  I will say as the book progressed, either the style became more muted or I got over my expectations, and I did end up enjoying it. One thing I really enjoy about McGuire's books is the way she works in any romance - it's believable, not angsty, and it never takes over the story.  She did it again here-yay!

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Words of Radiance musings

Words of Radiance - Brandon Sanderson

I really loved Way of Kings, and was very excited to dive into this behemoth.  I mean, it’s Brandon Sanderson - the guy who really knows how to tell a story.  


This was, dare I say, better than the first.  Although the majority of the book takes place in same sections of the world as the first, there is a lot more backstory here, and Rosher feels much more fleshed out.  There was so much that happened here, but it never felt rushed or dragged out.  The interludes were wonderful - they give you a glimpse of things happening offstage, but still tying in.  Everything about this book was just … right. It’s densely plotted, has conflicted characters, and while it’s not gritty-dark like GRRM or Cook, it has heroes, dammit!  


I really suck at laying out plot details of a book, so I’ll leave that to other reviewers.  What I can say, though, is that there are plots within plots, and while bringing an end to the Voidbringers seems to be almost  everyone’s goal, the way various people want to achieve it makes for some very interesting altercations.


In the first book, I was strongly ‘meh’ about Shallin - I found her tedious and while I suspected some of her backstory, I didn’t really care about her enough to feel … anything.  Well, there’s a whole new Shallin here - she came vibrantly alive in this book, and this time around I felt much more emotionally invested in her (expanded) backstory.  She ended up to be one of my favorite characters in this saga. On the other hand, towards the end I did want to smack Kaladin upside the head for his constant “lighteyes are bad ’n untrustworthy ’n such” angsty emofest, but managed to find it within myself to hold back. 


This is a book 2 of a series of 10 projected books and if these two are any indication, I would venture to say the Stormlight Archive might be one of the premier series in fantasy. I'll definitely be reading this again, soon, like, this year soon because it is that good.

Reading progress update: I've read 82%.

Words of Radiance - Brandon Sanderson

I am heartsick ... I wasn't expecting this



And I have to sleep, dammit




Reading progress update: I've read 14%.

Words of Radiance - Brandon Sanderson

My respect for Sanderson's storytelling is steadily increasing.  There already was one big shock and couple of smaller ones...but the big one took me completely by surprise (ok - that's not as difficult as it sounds because I do tend to be quite clueless when it comes to 'what happens next' in books unless it's REALLY obvious), but still ... this is gooood!

Reading progress update: I've read 6%.

Words of Radiance - Brandon Sanderson

Ok - I like Shallan - I really do!


This picks up right where The Way of Kings ended and...and I hate to leave it, but I really gotta head off to bed. Yet, learning about spren, and Shademar 'n such are important too!


Maybe one more chapter ...



The Way of Kings

The Way of Kings - Brandon Sanderson

This isn’t so much a review as more of a musing on this book and what I’m looking for in the series.


I just finished my 2nd re-read of this book in eager anticipation for tomorrow’s release of the next book.


I do love the more nuanced darker fantasy that is more common today, but sometimes I just love me some heroes.


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Setting this one aside ...

The Greyfriar  - Clay Griffith, Susan Griffith

I've tried reading this a couple of times now, and I finally realized I didn't have to read it!  There are so many other books I can read and it's really OK to tuck this into my "maybe as a last resort" and "meh" shelves. The concept was neat - steampunk and vampires - but the characters not-so-much.  The princess felt very Mary Sue-ish (she's a teenager and managed to decapitate a taller and stronger vampire with a single stroke of a sword in a melee). I just felt very disconnected to the plot, the characters and the writing. I was really hoping to get caught up in a good series, but oh, well ...


Reading progress update: I've read 35%.

The Paladins - David Dalglish

I just can't into this - I'm partway through the 2nd book and I keep putting it down and reading something else, so ... it's going back to my Planning to Read pile until I'm more in the mood. It's not bad, just not compelling enough for me right now :(

Looking forward to ...


I was cruising around my account at Amazon and found my list of pre-ordered books; I got really excited because I had forgotten about a few of them and realized I still need to read some of the previous books of a few of these! I also have a habit of re-reading all the series when a new release comes up - I might have to revisit that habit, though - there’s a lot of new ones in the pipeline.  Here’s my list (for now) of the releases I’m eagerly awaiting.  (All the links are to the kindle version on Amazon)

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O.M.G! I have to read two actual books

Old Tin Sorrows (Garrett, P.I., #4) - Glen Cook Red Iron Nights - Glen Cook

The convenience of ebooks has spoiled me, I tell ya, completely spoiled me.


First, I'm a total ebook reader - I don't think I've read a regular printed book since I purchased my first kindle ereader in 2009. 


Second, I've become addicted to book series, especially urban fantasy and I'm starting to run out of really good series to read.


Third, I'm rather OCD about reading a series straight through and as I finish one book I immediately purchase and download the next. 


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Currently reading

Downfall: A Cal Leandros Novel (Cal and Niko)
Rob Thurman
The God Stalker Chronicles (Kencyrath, #1-2)
P.C. Hodgell