Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Change AgentChange Agent by Daniel Suarez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have no problems raving about this book!

It has everything I'd ever want in a rip-roaring Hard-SF Thriller: a huge amount of genetic modifications and therapies gone wild and under the power of gangsters and the law, alike.

Ah! But this isn't just another cat and mouse hunt for wrongdoers. This is Daniel Suarez.

That means a lot of great tech and implications of tech and what's even greater? Great locations to get lost in, from Singapore to Thailand to Burmese jungles and even more.

Biotech has taken off in a really big way. Between automatic cabs made of shrimp shells to a flock of young Scarlett Johansens, Suarez keeps us on our toes and if you're not reading carefully, you'll miss a ton of these brilliant additions scattered throughout the ostensibly Thriller-esque text.

Who are you to completely edit my genetic code into a super-baddie? lol I want my desk job BACK! :)

Honestly, this is a fantastic hard-sf novel, people. It's perfectly engineered to feel like a police procedural turned nearly revenge-esque with a burly man with chameleon tattoos and a dwarf, both traveling through high-tech and squalor through countries much changed from our current ones, feeling a lot like Babylon Babies and The Minority Report the entire time.

Virtual realities that are beamed right into logical light structures for programming? Hell yeah. Laws and implications for such? Hell yeah. That's on top of the main genetic plot.

This is a rich idea novel as well as a fun-as-hell adventure. :)

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Just Add WaterJust Add Water by Hunter Shea
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OMG this was some hellishly wicked fun horror, like straight out of 1980's B-Movies with kids as protagonists and creepy crawlies ALL OVER SUBURBIA eating EVERYONE.

I mean, seriously, back in the day, I'd have gone NUTS over this if I'd watched this movie. So much blood and guts and sly humor and light commentary, this is pretty much a CLASSIC that brings me back to the goriest of all the cheese of my youth.

Classic, I say. :)

It's short and sweet and I'd go total cult-classic all over this if it had been made into a flick. Seriously. :)

For all you people who wanted something kinda like Stranger Things only turned into a straight alligator in the sewer story that eats practically everyone, STOP LOOKING. It's here! Have fun! :) :)

Thanks to Netgalley for this ARC!

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An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a ScientistAn Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist by Richard Dawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is pretty much entirely an autobiography, giving us all the stray bits of Richard Dawkin's childhood through college and, later, his pet projects and his interest in programming before later publishing The Selfish Gene.

As a writer, he's always good.

He seemed to have a rather interesting childhood in Africa with loving parents, becoming a rather bullied child in school, getting heavily into religion among other things, including a rather unfortunate sexual event. At least it didn't seem to scar him.

He also took a rather indirect path to his studies, too, but I suppose this is also rather normal, being pushed one way or another by faculty and opportunity, but at least he eventually got into the mode, thanks to the theories that naturally dovetailed between programming and biology, to write his most famous book.

Pretty fascinating. I wouldn't say it's extremely so, but it was certainly edifying.

The first half of the book is his life, of course, but the later sections DO give you a pretty concise summary of the thought experiments and science that led up to the book, so be prepared for at least SOME rather intense science, even if most of the rest of the book is more personable.

Funny story: I read this without reading the blurb. And I thought it was just going to be another science book! Not an autobiography! I felt duped! :) lol live and learn, live and learn... :)

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And the Rest is History (The Chronicles of St Mary’s, #8)And the Rest is History by Jodi Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a nightmare of a book. Truly.

I mean first you're already so heavily invested in these characters and then Jodi Taylor puts you through hell: the panini press, the cheese grater, and sets the oven at a temperature way too high for the meal at hand.

For all the laughs the author pulled off, and they were really quite great, and the really awesome history bits (because these ARE time-travelling historians seeing the real stuff up close), Taylor also has a knack with DESTROYING US, THE READERS.

I cried. It was horrible. Ugly. And it had nothing to do with an ornamental snake or tossed pets, either. It was ugly and sad and mind-numbing and made me walk around like a zombie for far too long, just throwing myself into the rest of the tale and the job, the job, the job, because I was right there with Max the entire time, just putting one foot in front of the other.

But for all that, (view spoiler)

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Heir of Novron (The Riyria Revelations, #3)Heir of Novron by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes it feels like a very daunting task to judge the last two books in a six book series. The temptation is to say, "But look at the weight of the rest of the series!" And have myself say, "It must be judged in context to the REST of the story."

That's not really necessary in this case.

I'll admit something. Books one and two felt kinda boilerplate and nothing that special after having read a lot of similar buddy novels with rogues as main characters. The additions of the elves were only improved for me because I had read the prequel before starting this series. Books three and four were slightly better because of the slow burn of the two main characters, but sitting for a while before picking up the last two books seemed make the whole story fade from my mind in a whimpery way, alas, and it took some prodding from others to get me to pick up the remaining story.

The fact that the story actually ENDS and doesn't continue on as another neverending epic fantasy is a point in its favor, too, and so I picked these last two up and gave it a chance.

What can I say? Book five was a lot more fun than I expected. I really enjoyed the court intrigue, the funny setup that made nobility feel like imprisonment, and especially the end of the fifth book when old plot threads finally wrap back around and bring in the feels and the tragedy that I had been expecting from day one.

Five was a solid book. I really enjoyed it. It also helps to see the oncoming hoard and danger of everything unravelling.

Book six is more of an epic quest with magical items and dangerous locations all to boil down to a chivalric one-on-one battle. Honestly, it dragged a bit, returning to the old tropes with a vengeance, and while parts of it were rather great, such as the straight character-development bits, it didn't really grab me until rather late when all things were coming to a head.

That, and the dwarf, of course.

For a group of novels who's strengths were all in their characters, it sure took a long time for me to really get into the characters, but I'm very happy to say that I was by the end. :) It could have been better with the plot stuff, more interesting, less trope-y, but the final verdict makes me say that I'm glad I stuck it out and got through the end. It was satisfying.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Twelve DaysTwelve Days by Steven Barnes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!

I admit that I've been a fan of Stephen Barnes for years, but I also admit that it's mainly been because of his co-authored works with Larry Niven. I think that's going to change after this!

This novel reads like a modern bestselling thriller that SHOULD be a modern bestselling thriller. It also has supernatural elements that are all tied to the dark side of the Kundalini and Hindu Yogis thrust upon the world stage as evil people and world leaders are murdered in gruesome ways.

Specifically, however, this is a character and plot-driven novel in the very best sense. It's fast-paced and exciting, full of surprises and depth. But mostly, I'm impressed by the depth of knowledge Barnes has about fighting styles, esoteric meditations, and traditions.

Regardless, the craft in this novel is fantastic and fast and pretty damn gorgeous. It's more of a modern thriller, through and through, but that didn't bother me. This should be a huge crowd pleaser. If it isn't, then I'll be very surprised and rather sad.

This really should be a bestseller!

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The End of the DayThe End of the Day by Claire North
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm a fan of all kinds of literature, so this one struck me right off the bat as more of a literary fiction fare with a supernatural element than a straight SF or F like I'm used to with Claire North.

That being said, I would completely recommend this for anyone who's a fan of Terry Pratchett's Death and anyone who loves to glide across a very variable surface stretching across all continents and walks of life as Charlie The Harbinger, the One Who Comes Before (Death), hops from plane to plane, car to car, travel voucher to travel voucher, as he serves as a warning or a blessing to all kinds of people from all walks of life.

It's a courtesy, after all. One should always be polite about all these things.

We also get to see the modern helpers for the other three horsemen, too, but mostly, this aspect is not the most important in the novel. To me, I think the best part of this novel is the Life.

Charlie is the bridge, a normal human who took the job out of college, whose main qualification is his enjoyment of life. Isn't that cool? He looks forward. The fact that there are as many reactions to death as there are people doesn't bother him... much... except in fairly extreme circumstances, and there are a few of those.

This is foremost a character novel, not a plot-driven one. It's subtle and wide-ranging and surprisingly deep. It's a novel that dives into the human condition and keeps digging and digging and digging along this single path, always vacillating between joy and despair, purpose and meaninglessness, love and hate.

I honestly can see a lot of people not liking it because it isn't a streamlined "normal" expectation of a novel, but it *IS* a good one. It's one that brought me to tears. It jerked me about and sat on me and beat me up.

It also has Claire North's particular flavor, through and through. Clear, wide-ranging, brilliant, and glorious to behold.

I won't say this is exactly like her other novels or that it belongs to everyone, but it is a novel that touched me pretty deeply, and that's how I'm presenting my love. With respect and courtesy. :)

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