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Snow Crash

Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson I can see why people love this book and why it's a genre classic, because it had some truly interesting ideas about culture, language, science, and religion, but ultimately the execution failed to compel me. I was frequently bored by the many infodumps and flat, dull characters. It also didn't age very well, and feels dated now in the age of smartphones and tablet computers with its clunky 'future' technology references. Y.T. and Fido were the only things I really cared about by the end.

A Day of Fire: a novel of Pompeii

A Day of Fire: a novel of Pompeii - Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Michelle Moran Mostly the stories kept me engaged despite the impending doom. Well-drawn characters, and the interconnection of the stories was very well done, with the characters moving in and out of each others' stories naturally. As the stories progress, the time moves forward as well. As such, the first couple of stories, The Son and The Heiress, take place mostly before the eruption even begins, and are only tangentially connected to the eruption. The latter stories have their action more and more taking place during the eruption, and, well... it's kind of like watching the film Titanic; you know there is no way in which this can end well for all the parties involved, especially for those who chose to try and hide in the city rather than flee.

My favorite stories were the Senator, because I loved the back and forth between the two main characters, and the Heiress, because I liked Aemilia's voice, and her slow revelation about Sabinus being actually being a good guy who she might love; my least favorite story was the Soldier, just because I wasn't terribly engaged by the characters.

Closer to Home: Book One of Herald Spy

Closer to Home: Book One of Herald Spy - Mercedes Lackey Very typical Lackey, fluffy and easy to read. Incites all sorts of childhood nostalgia from when I basically lived and breathed this series.

The Girl With All The Gifts

The Girl With All The Gifts - M.R. Carey Woah. That ending.

Skin Game: A Novel of the Dresden Files

Skin Game: A Novel of the Dresden Files - Jim Butcher *insert incoherent ramble* So good.

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green BRB, crying on my lunch break at work.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values - Robert M. Pirsig I had to read this book in high school. It was an arduous slog, since philosophy has never really been a great interest of mine. To this day, I don't know why we read it for English class, or what I was supposed to get out of it. All I remember about it was the shock therapy.

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell My heart hurts. That's the only coherent thing I could think after closing this book for the final time. I loved this story about two teens falling in love in the year 1986, but the open ending left me broken-hearted, because I desperately wanted a happily-ever-after for these characters. Still, I guess that's what my imagination is for!

A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness, Jim Kay Ouch. Ouch in a good way, that meant I read this in a little under an hour on the bus ride home, and fought to keep from crying. Sad, painful, and very real. It reminded me a lot of the comic [b:I Kill Giants|6435893|I Kill Giants|Joe Kelly|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1356121155s/6435893.jpg|6625451] in how it deals with a difficult and painful subject.

Frost Burned

Frost Burned - Patricia Briggs Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I think it was one of the weaker entries in the series so far. It felt kind of directionless and meandering, starting with one crisis only to have that be resolved by the midpoint of the book and mutate into a completely different crisis, neither of which had the compelling feeling of danger I would have expected.

The Cuckoo's Calling

The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith This is a book that's probably not for everyone, but I enjoyed it a lot once I started getting into it, and couldn't put it down by the 2/3 mark.

The Shambling Guide to New York City

The Shambling Guide to New York City - Mur Lafferty More like 3.5 stars. I enjoyed this one a lot. Fun and creative world-building, and a nice new spin on some of the old paranormal and supernatural tropes.

I would have given this four stars outright if not for the very unnecessary bondage club scene, including some semi-non-consentual sexytimes between Zoe and the incubus she works with, John. This really did little to advance the plot or the characterization, aside from Zoe becoming more uncomfortable around John and learning more about succubi and incubi, which could have been handled in a better way, I think. The questionable consent sent it into icky territory for me. Still, I enjoyed the book a lot outside of this one scene.

Of Dice and Men

Of Dice and Men - Cameron McNary I was lucky enough to be one of those people crammed into that crowded panel room at PAX 2010 to see the world premiere of this play. To my knowledge it was the first ever world premiere of a play at a fan convention. We waited in line for a couple of hours just to get in, and there were enough people turned away at the door to fill the room a second time. And it really was something to be part of that experience. The energy in the room was amazing. Everyone was laughing at the jokes. I know I cried at the end, and looking around me I knew I wasn't the only one.

I decided to re-read this play today to see if it held up outside of the frenetic energy of the live performance, and I'm pleased to say I'm currently wiping tears from my eyes again. What really makes this story so great is that it's not a pop-culture-fest full of stereotypes to cash in on the current popularity of geek culture; nor is it something only for those in the 'secret club' of geekdom. I personally have only played a handful of tabletop games, mostly 'newbie' sessions at gaming cons, just enough to understand the game basics, and I didn't feel like I was missing anything.

While it is about the game and the D&D characters, the main focus is on relationships, both in and out of the game. The playwright also goes to great pains to emphasize that these characters are not supposed to be played up as caricatures or stereotypes of the basement-dwelling gamer geek. The characters are real people, dealing with issues such as loss, love, growing up and moving on. At its heart, this is a universal story of a group of young adults whose social circle just happens to be a D&D gaming group.

I'd love to see more local theatre troupes pick this one up.

The Iron Duke

The Iron Duke - Meljean Brook I loved the world-building, the supporting characters, and the heroine, Mina. This would have been a four-star from me if the hero, Rhys, the titular Iron Duke, wasn't so unlikable in such a big, stalkery way. I hated him so much I wanted to reach into the book and punch him.

Seriously, though... later in the book it's implied that he apparently had been sold into sexual slavery as child, but knowing that... while I'm sure that messed up him and his views about sex, it does not excuse him for being, pardon my language, a rapey asshole to Mina previously. I feel like he should have been more aware of what he was doing to Mina because of his own experiences.

Anyway, I hear the other books in the series feature less jerks, so I will probably give the author another shot.

The Well of Ascension

The Well of Ascension - Brandon Sanderson, Michael Kramer We've been listening to this in the car. Not as good as the first one, IMO, but still very enjoyable. The siege plot felt like a lot of stalling so the author could cram in all the build-up for Vin's story. I admit, I thought the random word changes in the research were bad editing at first and got me grumpy. Never more happy to be proven wrong.

Also, WTF Marsh. I love you! Stop doing bad things. :(


Angelfall - Susan Ee This book was at it's best when the author was spinning out her angel mythology. One of the things she did absolutely right was the world-building. She doesn't over explain; she just drops the reader into the middle of the world and leaves you to catch up. It's a great effect which makes the world feel more real. There's still some exposition of course, but it neatly dodges most of the giant blocks of exposition monologue you often see in first-person fantasy fiction.

That said, heroine Penryn is a little too good to be true at times, and has lots of convenient skills right when she needs them. Her mother pops in and out of the story when it's convenient also. The weakest parts of the book for me were the 'tender moments', trying to setup for Penryn's inevitable romance with Raffe. It felt more like a teenage girl crushing on a much older man who isn't interested, and she is reading too much into his gestures.

I think this series has a lot of potential to become more interesting. I just wish it wasn't so obvious the author was heading for the Penryn/Raffe romance.