Books

Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh

F8BD0F23-C36A-4904-887C-F822A56E2F7DSeth, the man behind the Hugos There Podcast, emailed me awhile ago to invite me onto his podcast. While I appear on a number of podcasts (and have one of my own!) I am rarely asked to appear on other people’s podcast (I can only assume because most people don’t want to talk to me, which I understand). Seth said, pick a Hugo award winning novel and we’ll chat about it.

Sounds like fun to me! I’ve read a number of the Hugo winners but I didn’t want to re-read something, so I decided to pick “Cyteen” by C.J. Cherryh. A book I knew nothing about, but an author who I had been meaning to read but had, as of yet, not gotten around to.

After I shot an email to Seth with my choice I realized two things: this book is very long (680 pages) and it isn‘t available in ebook (plus it appears to be out of print).

I ordered a used copy and then found out that while 680 pages isn’t generally that many pages… these pages are very big.

I felt bad for making Seth read this giant tome, but really isn’t it his fault for inviting me onto his podcast? Also, I suddenly realize why people don’t invite me onto their podcasts.

The book itself was good, though I‘m not sure I’d recommend anyone read it. It is chock full of big ideas, and the writing is good. But the first 100 pages or so were a bit of a chore to get through.

It did trick me into thinking that the story would be one thing and then completly change tacts not once but twice, and I liked that.

Overall, I’m glad I read it and you can hear me chat with Seth about it if you like.

Who should read it: Someone who is trying to read all the Hugo winners, C.J.Cherryh completists, 80‘s scifi fans.

Would I read it again: Once was enough, though I am going to read more Cherryh.

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's | WorldCat


Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions

C835C473-90CB-4CAE-B4C8-037EEE584FE0I’ve been slacking on my book reviews, but I haven’t been slacking on my reading!

Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions is the 3rd in the Kopp Sisters series which follows the exploits of the first woman to be a deputy sheriff (Constance Kopp).

The first book was great! This one was… less great though an interesting book to read right after “Lean In” since the plot involves young woman going to jail just for having the nerve to leave their parent’s home and pursue a career.

The Kopp sisters are fun characters, but this book didn’t do much for me. It is well written, but lacks a compelling plot.

Who should read it: Just read the first one.

Would I read it again: Nope!

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's | WorldCat


Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

51FD3B49-2C27-4F07-A12E-61A9A9A00C10Readers of this blog might assume that I earn a living being almost Internet famous, what with my podcast, my several tech books, and this website. Sorry to burst that bubble, but I do have a day job (which I like!).

For the longest time I avoided managing people because, well, I didn’t think I’d be any good at it. However, since I’m in technology I had to decide if I wanted to go down the route of being super technical or managing people. I opted for people management, and now I manage a group of 10 people. That’s not to say I’m GOOD at it, just that I do it. And get paid for it.

Interestingly, I"m the only man on my team, which leads me to why I read “Lean In.” I was in a one on one meeting with someone who reports to me and she suggested I read this book because it could give me some insights into what women have to deal with at work.

And so I read the book. And I must say I liked it! Though I suppose I don’t like that it had to be written, I’m glad Sheryl Sandberg wrote it.

I am glad that she points out at the very start of the book that she has tremendous resources that most women don’t. Even with that setup, though, from time to time I would remember that she is a billionaire (like when she told a story about jetting off to some meeting with other CEOs, or how she got parking for pregnant women at Google by marching into the co-founders’ office).

The take away could be, well she’s so wealthy she doesn’t really get it. But as a white man reading it I took something else away from it: one should always use their privilege to help others.

I know some people don’t think that white privilege is a thing, but it is. And I benefit from it. Plus I’m a white guy, so I benefit even more! I’m not saying that everything is easy for me but I certainly have an easier time in life than most women or people of other colors (for example, I never think twice about speaking in meetings, and if I saw a police officer approaching me I would assume he was either looking for someone else or trying to offer me assistance).

Reading this book underlined something things that I already knew, and made me hope that I’m not doing all the typical male at work things she mentions

Who should read it: If you are a man who manages women you should read this book, or a book like it. Women don’t need me telling them what to read!

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's | WorldCat


Sourdough by Robin Sloan

1E6013BE-4D86-4A31-BDE8-D50790338BF5Robin Sloan’s work (his previous book was Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore) tends to teeter on the edge of twee. Though his is a very modern twee set, generally, in a version of San Francisco that is both recognizable and slightly off kilter from reality.

In fact, I found myself in San Franciso a few weeks ago so reading a book set in that city (though this book is “of” San Francisco the city itself doesn’t play a huge part in the narrative) was a nice reminder of my time there.

As you might expect, soudough bread plays a rather important role in this novel. Actually, the sourdough starter is far more important. The story revolves around a programmer working at a robotic arm company who ends up in possession of a mysterious sourdough starter which leads to her becoming part of a mysterious farmers’ market, and changes her life.

A story that you’ve heard a million times!

At first I was skeptical since Sloan’s first book followed a very simliar plot (though in that story a former programmer stumbles across a mysterious bookstore that changes his life), but in the end the charm and wit of the writing won me over. As did the inclusion of Silicon Valley types sucking down packets of a food subsitute called “Slurry.”

Who should read it: Foodies or techies (or techie foodies) will eat this book up. See what I did there? Eh?

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's | WorldCat


Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton

6DA848D6-0E2E-4A4E-AE03-3F852EA03F9DRight after I finished Dead Woman Walking I wanted more from Sharon Bolton. Luckily she has written a bunch of books, though most of them are in a series. I didn’t want to jump into a series, so I bought myself a copy of “Daisy in Chains,” despite the fact that I have something like 1,000 ebooks on my Kindle and probably another 1,000 or so physical books just waiting for me to read them (in fact the next 3 books I plan on reading come from the library).

This book is more of a character study than anything else, and it does include a few shocking twists (though I did guess one of the twists).

There are murders, blue hair, gypsies, and a creepy amusement park visit during a winter’s night. What’s not to like?

Once again Bolton deploys short chapters that keep you guessing. I didn’t want to put this book down, and I gobbled it up from start to finish. I was even tempted to just jump right into Bolton’s series… but then my book debt guilt kicked in so I decided to read the books I had picked up from the library. I will be reading more Bolton soon!

Who should read it: If you like thrillers and serial killers this book is for you!

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's | WorldCat


Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton

91B9BE4E-81E0-44B0-843F-2E4E801CE0EEI suppose this is more of a thriller than a mystery, though there are some mysterious elements to it. You know who the bad guys are (for the most part), but it is unclear why each of the characters are mixed up in this story. And like any good thriller this book has some unexpected twists and turns (which I won’t ruin for anyone!).

The setup for this novel is brilliant: 13 people are in a hot air balloon and witness an act of violence. And then they all die in a crash… all expect for one person.

I read this book over the course of 24 hours because of Bolton’s effective use of very short chapters and an intricate weaving of a few stories spread over the course of a decade or so.

It is well written and compulsively readable. My only quibble is that it does seem remarkable that these particular characters would end up so well placed in relation to the story. However, I don’t think realism was the point of this book!

I will say that I’d never heard of Sharon Bolton before reading this book, but I plan on reading another one of her books soon!

Who should read it: If you don’t mind horrible people doing horrible things, this book is for you!

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's | WorldCat


Ruin of Angels by Max Gladstone

458630B6-2599-4CB7-9720-F3429B8EC020Recommending a book that is the 6th in a series isn’t something one should do, however, the Craft Sequence isn’t a normal series. If you read the series in publication order, as I have, you’re actually reading them out of chronological order. This might seem strange, but the upshot is you can pretty much start the series at any of the books. And you should.

I’m not a huge fan of urban fantasy, which is why I was so surprised when I read a review of “Ruin of Angels” describing it as such. Upon further reflection it does make sense: this is a world where lines of contracts power magic, ever living skeletons run corporations, and gods trade faith for power.

Ruin of Angels is a good jumping on point, and for $3 (ebook) it is a great deal. If you’ve read any of the other books in the series you’ll recognize some of the characters featured.

I suppose I should point out that all the main characters are women, which I guess is either a plus or minus depending on your point of view.

Who should read it: Anyone who has read any of the Craft Sequence, or if you’ve ever wondered what a space program powered by magic might look like.

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's | WorldCat


Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea by Adam Roberts

A3D80DA6-4ECE-4E8C-9C0F-2DEBA535F133-950-00000172776FA044Adam Roberts is one of those authors who writes whatever they want, and damn the marketability. Generally I enjoy his work, and he is a very talented writer. This book wasn't his best work, though I did think it was quite interesting and I almost enjoyed just as a physical object.

Almost.

The cover is gorgeous, and the illustrations are generally very good but… the copy editing is just bad. I usually don't even notice the odd mistake here and there, but this book was littered with them. It was distracting (and not the author's fault, but it didn't do him any favors).

The story is heavily influenced/extends 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A French experimental submarine goes off on a test run and dives. And dives. And dives deeper than the ocean should allow a submarine to dive.

And then things get crazy, and none of it is good for the crew.

I would say this book ends up being interesting rather than good.

Who should read it: Big fans of Jules Verne and French people, I guess?

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's | WorldCat


The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

IMG_0395Trilogies can be tough. The first book is exciting because you're discovering a whole new world populated with interesting characters (at least in good ones!), the second book generally moves the story along and not much more, and the third book… the pressure is on to stick the landing. If you have a bad conclusion it can have the power to sour people on the previous two books, plus who is going to recommend a trilogy with a bad final book?

I'm happy to report that The Stone Sky, the final volume in the fantastic The Broken Earth trilogy, does not disappoint. It is a well written and satisfying conclusion to a very good trilogy. Seriously, if you haven't read any of these books you should totally do it.

My one complaint is an odd one: I almost feel like the third book explained too much of how the world got to be the way it is in the trilogy. Now, I know that lots of people will be very happy to find out the details, but I think I would have preferred a little more ambiguity. That's just me, though, since I tend to enjoy books where I have little idea what is going on (which was pretty much the case in the first two books of this series).

I won't bother to try and recap what this book is about, but I will say it is a very interesting mix of fantasy and science fiction.

Who should read it: If you're read the first two books you'll need to read this one. And you should read the first two.

Would I read it again: I can imagine myself re-reading this trilogy again at some point (much like the Foundation trilogy, which is probably my favorite trilogy of all time).

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's | WorldCat


Plaid and Plagiarism by Molly MacRae

7A185B08-1BF4-40DE-B3DC-462D5C85D140-970-000000F70BE47711The world is anything but cozy at the moment what with severe weather, missile launching madmen, and more than one Trump in the White House (I know, some of you are happy about that… though I have no idea how you could STILL be happy about it. I get voting for him… kind of… but it is pretty clear he's not suited for the job) and so I turn to books that'll transport me to a nice, gentle place. Oh, and include a murder.

That's right, I read the cozy mystery “Plaid And Plagiarism,” and I gosh darn enjoyed it. It isn't a heartbreaking work of literature, or a particularly good mystery, but it is like slipping into a warm woolen sweater. Plus it features a number of women characters, which is always nice. And I didn't even mean to read it! Marisa picked it up at the library and I saw it laying on the table… and read it.

The high number of women in the book isn't a surprise given the story centers around four women who buy a bookstore in Scotland, and end up involved in a murder of a local. The two main characters (the older of the four) were a little hard to tell apart at the start of the book, but soon developed unique characteristics that helped me remember who was who.

The central murder isn't dwelled upon, and it seems to not trouble the townsfolk as much as I think it would (even if the victim wasn't the most popular person). Oh, and the title does sort of gives a plot point away, which is a shame but I understand the allure of alliteration.

This is clearly the start of a series, and while I won't excitedly be looking for the next installment I'd certainly pick it up and read it if I found it laying around the house. Ok, so that doesn't sound like a glowing recommendation but really it is a fun little book.

Who should read it: If you like a quick read with a gentle murder set amongst book lovers I think you'd like this.

Would I read it again: I should probably get rid of this section since I almost always say, “No.” Which is a long way of saying, no.

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's | WorldCat


Arrowood by Mick Finlay

A IMG_0378 good hook is important for any book, but I feel like it is doubly important for mysteries. There are thousands and thousands of them, and to stand out you need to come up with something unique. “Arrowood” takes the reader to well trodden territory: Sherlock Holmes' England. The hook? Sherlock exists, but not everyone can afford him. When you need someone to help but you can't afford Holmes (or he isn't interested in your case) you turn to Arrowood.

Clever, right?

Holmes is a big presence in this book, but he never appears. Arrowood is an investigator, just like Holmes. He has a plucky assistant, just like Holmes. He has an erudite air about him though isn't rich, just like Holmes.

And many characters in the book bring up these similarities much to Arrowood's chagrin. He isn't a Sherlock fan, thinking that Sherlock is mostly lucky (everyone is sure Sherlock is a genius. I assume the two will interact with one another at some point in the future if there are more Arrowood books).

I though the setup of the book was very interest, and the mystery was complex enough. However, the overall execution of this great idea was… well… fine. It wasn't amazing, nor was it bad. It was fine.

Who should read it: This would be a good beach read, I think. If you like to read about darkish mysteries on the beach, that is.

Would I read it again: Nope but I will keep an eye out for the sequel.

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's | WorldCat


Sputnik's Children by Terri Favro

587186E6-1C5E-4DC0-8879-9914CC1D4A8C-953-000000FE4E95B1D4I have something like 1,000 books (both electronic and physical) that I haven't read as of yet, but I still find myself at the library once or twice a month. Usually I'm there to pick up a book I've placed on reserve, but while I'm there I check out the books on display.

And that's how I come across books from authors I've never heard of, and probably would never hear of during my normal travels about town. This time I picked up “Sputnik's Children” by a Canadian author (Terri Favro) on a whim.

This book combines a few things that I enjoy: super heroes, time travel, parallel universes, and a slightly unreliable narrator. My favorite part of the book? Some details make me think it is entirely possible that this entire story happens only in the mind of the main character (either version of the main character at that!).

The stories follows a comic book creator whose creation, the girl without a past, is based on her life story. The twist? She isn't from around here… she's from an alternate timeline. Or is she?

Once again I don't want to get into the story too much, but it is interesting and well written to boot!

Who should read it: If you like comic books, time travel, or pending nuclear doom this book is for you.

Would I read it again: As usual, I probably won't re-read this book, but I will read Favro's next book.

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's | WorldCat


Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner

52F77A35-623C-4E2F-BB95-126F075ABB6D-3580-0000064962D30F21The follow up to “Missing, Presumed” does not disappoint. You know you're reading a good mystery when you say, “Oh no!” out loud at the end of a chapter.

This installment finds Manon Bradshaw back where she started with an adopted son in tow. Oh, and she's pregnant (the identity of the father isn't revealed early on which lends a bit of tension if you've read the prior books).

It is interesting that the main character, Manon, isn't really involved in the central mystery as an investigator. I don't want to say too much more because I don't want to give anything away.

My only issue with the book comes in the form of the character “Birdie.” The author makes a pretty big deal about the fact that Birdie is fat, and I just got the feeling that this was a thin person writing what they think a fat person should act like. Just one fat guy's opinion.

That's a very minor quibble, though, in an otherwise gripping read.

Who should read it: Anyone who enjoyed the first one.

Would I read it again: I want to read the next one right now!

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powells | WorldCat


Very Important Corpses by Simon R. Green

31538E8F-A0CF-432F-81C3-555F02676C0C-2634-000004E3DBA6C809Another book by Simon R. Green! I borrowed this one from the library and read it in a day (it is both a quick read and a short book).

Ishmael Jones, the hero of this Green series, is an interesting character even if he talks pretty much like every other Green character. He's an alien that crashed landed onto earth in the 60's and who's ship recoded his body to be human. Though in the process he lost his memory, so he's been working for a variety of secret organizations (which is what all of Simon R. Green's characters do). They get his services, and he gets to move around and lay low even though he seemingly never ages.

Green takes this interesting character and throws him into mysteries that have a dash of the supernatural. This novel finds Jones, and his lady friend, on the shore of Loch Ness in a great house with a sorted history that is playing host to a secret cabal's annual meeting. Someone, or something, is killing people and Jones needs to find out who!

It is pretty obvious who is doing the killing, but it was an enjoyable tale (and much better than the last Green book I read. I do find it amusing that Jones isn't a fan of the ghost hunting organization that makes up the main cast of the series of which I am not much of a fan).

Overall, this did what I expect of a Green novel: took a few hours to read, made me chuckle a couple of times, and was generally pleasant despite the amount of gore.

Who should read it: If you like supernatural mysteries and manor houses you could do worse than this book.

Would I read it again: Nope, but I'll read the next in the series (I won't buy it, of course!).

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's | WorldCat


The Gunslinger by Stephen King

DD8AB116-959C-48B5-940B-37C5F0E04F49-2541-0000046AA4EB3BCDI am a master of timing, I tells ya.

Fellow Incomparable folks have been singing the praises of the Dark Tower series by Stephen King for a very long time and yet I've been resistant to start reading it. I think mostly because I have boxed away King in my head as a horror writer and I am not so into horror as a genre.

I know this is unfair to the very talented Mr. King, and so with the advent of the movie based on the Dark Tower series I figured now was a great time to try and borrow the book from the library. You know, when everyone else had the same exact idea:

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I was content to wait my turn when from the North came a Bookslinger who ended my wait by shooting the ebook onto my Kindle:

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(Thanks again, John!).

Now I really had to read it! Though I was concerned that I wouldn't like it and disappoint some people I jumped into it.

The first thing I realized when I started reading was that I really knew nothing about the Dark Tower series (I assumed a tower was somehow involved). This ignorance was cleared up by not one but TWO forewords by the author in the edition I read. It was interesting to read the two and notice how his writing style has evolved over time, plus I found out this was King's attempt to write an Arthurian legend set in the Old West.

That was a bit of a red flag for me: I'm not big into westerns but while The Gunslinger is certainly informed by westerns (and people in it love to palaver) it is really something else entirely.

The book does a good job of setting up Roland and the Man in Black as opposing forces in the quest for the Tower. Really, the whole book is one long case scene intercut with some world building (that train station!) and flashbacks to Roland's life. It was well structured and a quick read.

It does suffer from what some first books can suffer from: a lot of setting up the pieces on the board but not much actually happens. There are some encounters with mutants, some death, and eating some rabbits but mostly this book is about one dude following another one across a desert, over the mountains, and then camping with him for a little bit.

The real question is: was it good enough to make me want to read the next book in the series? Yes, it was. I've already but a hold on it at the library. Now I just have to wait for 50 people to read it ahead of me.

Who should read it: I assume if you're a fan of Stephen King you've already read it, but if you are and you haven't… you should!

Would I read it again: Nah, but I will read the next one.

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powells | WorldCat


Empire of Time by Daniel Godfrey

0DF0DF98-E82F-4E5F-8F22-9514A2820756-1665-0000030E1215A08F

A few years ago we were vacationing in the Hudson Valley. I found myself at a bookstore and I picked up a copy of “New Pompeii” on a whim (and based on the subject matter + the cover). It was entertaining, so when I realized a sequel had been published I bought myself a copy.

Empire of Time jumps ahead 15 years and shows us what has been happening in New Pompeii. Oh yeah, you need to know that there's a time machine in these books capable of plucking things out of the past and bringing them forward in time (but it only works 30 years distant and beyond… or does it?!). A company that created this machine plucked people from Pompeii right before the eruption and settled them into an exact replica of Pompeii (minus the water in the harbor, which was a big tip off to the Romans that they weren't in Kansas anymore).

Things go off the rails in the first book, and 15 years later things seem to have settled down in New Pompeii, though the outside world is falling apart. The main character, Nick, is a modern day man who functions as New Pompeii's ambassador. The world isn't too big on New Pompeii since the Romans continue to have slaves, but the world can't get enough of the garum and knockoff frescos New Pompeii produces so people overlook the slaves.

I don't want to get into too much detail, but this is a very satisfying conclusion to the story (though I don't know if there will be another entry in the series, there certainly could be but you aren't left hanging at the end of this book). To enjoy this book, though, you do need to read the first one.

Who should read it: Anyone who read the first one! And if you like Roman history, you should read the first one.

Would I read it again: I think I would read the series again at some point in the distant future.

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powell's | WorldCat


Final Books of Vacation

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The final bookstore stop during our trip to Oregon was Powell's Books on Hawthorne. This is one of the “smaller” Powell's at only 10,000 square feet.

I, of course, bought some books:


More Goodwill Books

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When you vacation with Marisa chances are good you'll be visiting a thrift store or 4. While we were in Portland we headed on down to the Goodwill where Marisa found herself some fancy, expensive shoes for a steal (though she wasn't as thrilled with my reaction when she excitedly told me. I was all like, “That's good!” She texted her sister to get the correct reaction).

Goodwills usually have a selection of used books, which I enjoy browsing through. Now, I should say that since the books at Goodwill are so cheap I tend to err on the side of buying a book I'm even slightly interested in.

That's how I ended up finding three books in less than 5 minutes to purchase:

  • Terror On Tuesday by Ann Purser
  • Basilica by William Montalbano
  • Strange Images of Death by Barbara Cleverly

Phantom Pains by Mishell Baker

D6EA9F41-2AB5-4A2E-8059-1D5FEE9103F3-330-0000006CFA85F506Urban fantasy is not my cup of tea. An urban fantasy book with a blurb by Seanan McGuire is a great way to get me not to read a book.

And yet.

Mishell Baker's Arcadia Project series is the exception that proves the rule. I had to read the first one, “Borderline,” for a podcast and I really, really liked it.

So much so that I bought the second one as soon as it came out. And then I didn't read it for awhile because, life, ya know?

I stayed up late last night to finish this book because I was enjoying it so. The main character has a raft of issues, and yet she uses what many would consider weaknesses to her advantage. She's great, and she reacts to supernatural situations in a pretty believable way (well, as believable as possible!).

I will say that I thought the final climactic scene was… well not really climactic or exciting. It sort of fizzles away, which in the story makes sense… but it left me unsatisfied. Luckily, the actual ending of the book won me back.

Who should read it: Anyone who has read the first book (and you should read it if you haven't!).

Would I read it again: You're probably picking up by now that I rarely re-read books, and this book isn't good enough to be an exception to that rule. It is quite good, don't get me wrong.

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powells | WorldCat


Powell's Haul #1

Editorial Preview

Any book lover who visits Portland, OR has got to go to at least one Powell's. I went to two whilst I was in Portland, because why not?

The City of Books is their biggest store right in the middle of downtown Portland. It is billed as the largest independent bookstore in the world, and I believe it! They carry something like a million titles. Displaying admirable restraint I purchased 6 books:

Powell's Haul (main store)

One of the things I love about Powell's is the fact they shelve new and used books together. That just makes me happy… and did I mention the mind boggling amount of books they have in that store? It is crazy!

Powell's, like any successful bookstore, also carries a bunch of other things. I picked up this super cool robot pin (though I have no idea where I'm going to put it):

Powell's Fashion Pin

And given who I am, I had to buy this:

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Stay tuned to see what I purchased at the other Powell's I visited. Can you contain your excitement?


All Systems Red by Martha Wells

24CE98FF-BD21-4FF9-B36D-2E140BD662D8-3012-000003B2DE6AA3D5Tor.com has always been a favorite of mine, and when they started publishing novellas I bought a few. I didn't read any, since I'm a very busy man and all, but I bought them and that has got to count for something!

I finally decided to read All Systems Red, and on one hand I wish I had read it sooner but then again if I had the wait for the second novella would be even longer.

The main character calls itself Murderbot, but I don't want to talk too much about it since that might give away some things that are better off discovered while reading. I will say that Wells manages to paint a very comprehensive world in less than 200 pages. I know there's lots more to discover in this universe and I hope that she is working on a full raft of books!

The ebook is super cheap, and it isn't a big commitment of time so just read it already.

Who should read it: If you like introspective robots, this is the book for you!

Would I read it again: Sure! Though I'd rather read the next one.

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powells | WorldCat


Ghost of a Dream by Simon R. Green

B4B96E36-D60B-42A8-8411-A792705C4A96-2868-000003669024383CSimon R. Green writes several series and Ghost Finders is my least favorite. I only pick them up if I find them for cheap in used bookstores which is why I just read “Ghost of a Dream.” I paid $2. That might have been too much.

This isn't a good book, though it is a quick read. Why isn't it good? Well, in it we follow the adventures of a ghost finding team. The one thing, we are told, these people are very good at is knowing if something is a ghost or not. In the first part of the novel, which is totally unrelated to the rest of the book, the characters meet someone who turns out to be a ghost, but hid it from them. This is treated as a big deal since it can't ever happen. Then it proceeds to happen at least two more times in the book. Ug. And that's just one example of why you shouldn't read this book.

Plus, in the book one of the characters always wears a white suit and sunglasses. The cover features three people, who I can only assume are the three ghost finders we follow in the book, and none of them are wearing a white suit OR sunglasses. Sheesh.

Who should read it: No one.

Would I read it again: No.

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powells | WorldCat


Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

IMG_0204Vacations are for reading mysteries!

Missing, Presumed is a modern day (well, set in 2011) police procedural; a genre that I typically eschew. I generally look for reading material that takes me away from the real world, not stories which highlight real world problems (I get enough of that watching the news, am I right?).

That being said, this book is set in England which is far enough removed from my daily existence that I could enjoy it (you won't find me reading any of the many, many NY/LA based police mysteries!).

Manon Bradshaw, the main character, is a 39 year old woman working for the Cambridgeshire police force and assigned to a high profile missing person case. It looks like foul play was involved, and to make things even more complicated the missing person is the scion of a physician to the Royal Family. Add in a motley assortment of characters, a handsome boyfriend, and a corpse and you've got yourself a fine mystery.

Each chapter of the book switches from character to character, which works well to paint the complicated picture of the case and Manon's life. That's what makes this book so interesting to me: the mystery is a good hook but I really wanted to learn more about Manon and her life. Good thing this is the first in a series! I'll certainly be reading the next book (I almost bought it the other day, but it is only about 300 pages and the hardcover cost $27. I'll probably get it the from library and then write about it!).

Who should read it: Fans complex characters trying to do their jobs.

Would I read it again: I'll read the next one!

Get it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powells | WorldCat


Third book of vacation

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Seaside, Oregon isn't my favorite Oregon coast town. It feels to me what I imagine the Jersey Shore feels like, though to be fair I've never “gone down the shore,” as they say in Philadelphia.

It is a town populated with arcades, souvenir shops, and family friendly restaurants. Not really a place I would opt to go on my own, but Marisa has spent many a happy hour at Seaside with her family so there we stopped. Plus my nephews had fun at the arcade, so who am I to judge?

Luckily for me, there's a bookstore called Beach Books and I was able to spend a few minutes, and dollars, there. The bookstore itself is yet another typical beach bookstore: lots of fiction (with an emphasis on mysteries) and not too much else (Marisa found their cookbook section to be lacking).

I did pick up “The Crossing Places” by Elly Griffiths. I read “The Zig Zag Girl” by the same author last year on a lark without knowing she had written a long lived series. Based on my enjoyment of the book of hers I had read I bought this one, which is the first in her series (and was recommended by an employee at the book shop).


Second Book from vacation

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The second book purchased on vacation is a brand new copy of “Blueprints of the Afterlife” by Ryan Boudinot (the cover of which assures you that is it, in fact, a novel). Why this book? Well, I've looked at it countless times and I thought I should give it a whirl.

I picked this up from the Cloud & Leaf Bookstore in Manzanita, Oregon which is a lovely little beach town bookstore. Not much science fiction (boo), but lots of non-fiction, mysteries, and things that you'd read on the beach.

Oh, and if you're in Manzanita and are craving Mexican food I can highly recommend El Trio Loco 2.