thistlechaser: (Book with cat 5)
2017-04-07 08:59 am

2017 books: Race to Refuge, Mammoth Dawn

It's raining abandoned books! Five in two days. At least this brings the number of unread books on my Kindle down to 205...

Race to Refuge by Liz Craig
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Strike one: Zombie book. (It was in my To Read pile so long it predated my 'God no more zombie stories' rule.) Still, since I had the book, I gave it a fair chance.

Strike two: Kid watches his father be attacked, killed, and turned into a zombie, then the father attacked and killed his mother. And had NOT ONE SINGLE REACTION TO THAT. Not that he was stunned or so horrified he couldn't react, he didn't have one single thought to watching it happened. Story was told from his POV, so we know he saw it, but as soon as his mother was dying on their lawn, all he did was turn away and locked the front door so he'd be safe inside. Then he went on with his life/planning for his distant future, never once giving a thought to his parents dying and being turned into zombies...

New rule of baseball: Two strikes and you're out. Point reached before giving up: 6%

Mammoth Dawn by Kevin J Anderson and Gregory Benford
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Not an awful book, but I just didn't believe any of the characters as real people, and the story's tech didn't come off as realistically handled. Other reviewers called it a Jurassic park knockoff, and I'd agree.

Point reached before giving up: 12%

Running tally of unfinished books (the math of keeping track of this is going to doom me):
Point reached in these books: 12% + 6% = 18%
Previous abandoned book total: 67%
New total: 18% + 67% = 85% (running total of two book + 67% towards the next)

Currently reading: Swift Thoughts by George Zebrowski.
thistlechaser: (Book with cat: On stack)
2017-04-06 08:15 am

2017 books: Timebound, "The Ear, The Eye and the Arm", Shade of the Moon

I did the thing I do now and then: Since I have 200+ books on my Kindle waiting to be read, I went to the last page and picked books to read from there. If I don't force myself to pick from the oldest books, I'll never get to them since they keep getting buried. The below were the three oldest books I had waiting to be read.

Timebound by Rysa Walker
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Good YA books are enjoyable by readers of any age, but I guess you can't blame a YA book for not hooking an adult reader. There was nothing wrong with this book, it just didn't interest me at all.

Main character was a teenager with a challenging relationship with her mother. Her grandmother had a magical necklace. I just wasn't interested in the characters at all, and the magic didn't hook me.

Point read to: 3%

The Ear, The Eye and the Arm by Nancy Farmer
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



I had heard such good things about this book, but the writing didn't work for me at all and I wasn't interested in the characters. The magic system was unique, but didn't work for me. (Magic users could Praise people, listing all the positive things about them, and it drugged them? Put them into a stupor? Something like that).

Point read to: 5%

Shade of the Moon by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Book #4 in the series, but I read the others so long ago, I didn't remember them at all. The series started when something knocked the moon closer to Earth, and so there was lots of destruction and almost everyone died.

I'm not sure if the writing in this later book changed or I did, but it totally and completely didn't work for me. The characters were unpleasant and I didn't believe the situation at all.

Edit: Goodreads says it was the book, not me. The reviews there are amusingly bad -- the worst reviews I've ever seen in my time on Goodreads! A much better read than the book itself.

Point read to: 5%

Running tally of unfinished books (the math of keeping track of this is going to doom me):
Point reached in these books: 3% + 5% + 5% = 13%
Previous abandoned book total: 54%
New total: 13% + 54% = 67% (running total of two book + 67% towards the next)

Currently reading: Mammoth Dawn by Kevin J Anderson and Gregory Benford
thistlechaser: (Book with cat 1)
2017-04-05 09:01 am

Book #10 of 2017: Wind Rider

Wind Rider by Susan Williams
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



On the surface, Wind Rider looks very much like the author's other YA book, The Wolf's Boy (the last book I reviewed, here). In that one, a boy brought the first dog into his tribe, something people had never seen before. In Wind Rider, a girl tamed the first horse and showed her people how helpful that could be.

Like Wolf's Boy, Wind Rider is a YA book that worked perfectly for adult readers. The storyline was wonderful, and it never once felt like the writing was too simple. Though the main character was young, she faced mature situations (including one almost-rape, though subtle enough that younger readers wouldn't realize the exact danger she had been in).

Fern, the main character, had loved watching horses all her life, but a chance situation put her into position to tame a young one. The story took its time building trust between the horse and the girl, and their friendship was perfectly believable. (Heck, everything about the story was.)

While Wolf's Boy was about a "deformed" boy (he had a bad foot), Fern had more challenges in her world just because of her gender. She didn't want to be just a wife and a baby-maker, which made her character arc through the story one of the most satisfying examples of character growth I've read in a long, long time.

Like Wolf's Boy, I enjoyed the second half even more than the first half, and for a similar reason -- I really liked the "outsider" man and the main character's relationship to him. In Wolf's Boy, I was really curious and interested in that character (a neanderthal man), but in Wind Rider I fell in love with him (a man from a different tribe than the main character).

I strongly recommend both books by this author!
thistlechaser: (Book with cat: hugging book)
2017-03-31 10:54 am

Book #9 of 2017: The Wolf's Boy

The Wolf's Boy by Susan Williams Beckhorn
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



A couple years ago, an author of a YA book series I loved told me that the only difference between YA books and books for older readers was how long the book is. I've found that to be the truth. A good story is a good story, YA, adult, or otherwise.

The Wolf's Boy is for readers in grades 4-8 (so one step younger than YA), yet it even to adult reader-me it was one outstanding book.

Set in prehistoric times, the main character (Kai) was born with a deformed foot. In his tribe, any deformed babies were left out to die. He was, but a wolf who had just given birth found him and took care of him. A short time (days? weeks?) later his mother found him again and, since he hadn't died, was permitted to bring him back home.

He was still deformed though, and an outcast among his people. Cursed. Bad luck. He had no name (no adult name, no "real" name), and wasn't considered a man of his tribe. He was not permitted to touch weapons or have anything to do with the hunters.

By chance, he found a wolf pup and raises her. No one had ever done that before. It was such a wonderfully written story: The wolf pup was 100% believable as a wolf, the boy was perfectly human, all the other characters were so totally realistic.

And then the book got even better. In part two, we met an "ice man" -- a neanderthal. I actually liked that part of the story even better than the part about raising the wolf!

The whole book was just so perfect. The writing was outstanding, descriptive, perfectly believable. The characters, from main to minor, were great. I loved the whole story so much.

The only thing I didn't like was how short it was. YA books take me about 6 hours to read, this one took me just over 4. I wanted MORE MORE MORE. I especially wanted to know more about the ice man character.

Do not pass up on this book just because it's meant for younger readers.
thistlechaser: (tree)
2017-03-27 08:07 am

2017 books: The Zanzibar Cat, Proving Grounds, Girl at the Center of the World, Cold Moon [Book #8]

Cold Moon by Harry Quinn
Rating: Hated (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Remember the days when fanfics always started with a line "Making no money off this, please don't sue me"? Well nowadays, people are self-publishing their fanfics and selling them on Amazon. I don't mean "filed off the serial numbers" fanfic, I mean unchanged -- with the canon characters' names and everything.

I hadn't realized that this "book" was an example of that. But luckily, between the time of me getting it and writing this review, Amazon pulled it down (thus no link to it).

How was the story/writing? Awful. AWFUL. It was "Warrior cat" fanfic (based on that talking cat series of books), but every single sentence had major issues. Basic things like your/you're confusion, the charcters' names being misspelled (major character names from the series! Simple names, like Firestar, sometimes with more than one issue in a single name!).

Point reached before giving up: 1%

Growing Pains: The Proving Grounds by Wade Adrian
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



I really like "RPGlit", though in my experience thus far, it should be called MMO Lit instead of RPG. The setup of these books seem to always be the same: Someone's whole self (body, soul, whatever you want to call it) gets sucked into a MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online game, such as World of Warcraft) and can't get out.

The problem is, that's not where the similarities end. The main character (who is always, always a man) is always trapped in the game... yet happy to be there. He is always overpowered compared to everyone else in the game. He always solves the issue that even tons of other people can't fix. That just doesn't work for me... That's boring!

Why not make the main character WEAKER than others? Make his time in the game harder, more challenging? That would make it more interesting, instead of having it be a story that some teenage boy would drool over.

The writing in this one was actually good, but the story was following that same exact pattern of overpowered male main character saving the day, so I lost interest in it. Point reached before giving up: 55%

The Girl at the Center of the World by Austin Aslan
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



This was the second book in a series. I read the first one a while back, but I had LOVED it, so was looking forward to reading this one. All I could recall from the first one was that "something" had happened and everything electronic stopped working. A girl and her father were stuck on one of the small, far islands of Hawaii and had to get to one of the other ones to reunite with the rest of their family.

When I started reading this one, I was left scratching my head. It seemed like a completely different book, or maybe like this was the third book instead of second and I had missed a chunk of story somewhere.

In this book it turned out that aliens did it, and because the main character had epilepsy, she could talk to them. (Everyone who had epilepsy could talk to the aliens.)

I guess I should have gone back and read the first book first... HM. I checked through my reviews, and I can't find one for the first one. But I swear I read it and liked it a lot. Very strange... Anyway, I gave up on this one at the 17%. I liked the end of the world parts, but the whole thing with the aliens was too different from the first book(?) for me... (Could there be two 'the world ended and a father and daughter need to travel between Hawaiian islands to reach their family' YA books out there?)

The Zanzibar Cat by Joanna Russ
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



A collection of short stories, most of them published in the 1970s. Unfortunately this ebook version seemed to be an unedited scan of the paperback version, which is where all my issues with it came from.

The first story, When It Changed, was pretty darned good and I enjoyed it a lot. It was set on some other planet where humans went to colonize, then generations ago a plague killed off all the men. The women were able to survive, and through skill and technology, keep the human race going there. Then men showed up. Though written in the 1972, it felt WAY WAY WAY too current to today. It left me disturbed and sad.

Unfortunately the book went downhill from there. Not the writing, I can't comment on that, but the "editing"/scanning. Words and sentences (and paragraphs?) were dropped at random, there were tons of misspellings and "typos" (scanning issues), and sentences were littered with odd control characters.

I powered through the second story (about time travel), it seemed interesting but the missing sentences/sections made it hard to follow.

The third story had even more formatting/scanning issues, and was basically unreadable. Unfortunately I gave up on the book at that point (13%).

Running tally of unfinished books (the math of keeping track of this is going to doom me):
Point reached in these books: 1% + 55% + 17% + 13% = 86%
Previous abandoned book total: 68% (one book credit + 68% towards the next)
New total: 86% + 68% = 154% (running total of two book + 54% towards the next)
thistlechaser: (Cat with book: Toy)
2017-03-18 07:47 am

2017 book: Traitor Game, 2017 book: Slave (The Fae-Born Narratives)

Traitor Game by B.R. Collins
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Traitor Games might have been more a "wrong book at the wrong time for me" than anything else.

Set in England at some private school, the two main characters were students. Young-ish, I'd guess around fifth grade level in American school terms. One of them had been bullied badly in a previous school, the other was from a poor family. Thanks to one of the mothers pushing the two together, they became friends.

It was quite a realistic story... which was the opposite of what I was wanting to read. After the Wolf's-own series, I wanted more of the same. While one of the two main characters (the bullied one) was gay, it was more of a "please please don't let anyone find out" thing than anything else.

The writing was fine, but it just wasn't pleasant at all spending time in the bullied kid's head -- that he was the main character made that an issue.

Gave up at the 13% point.

Slave (The Fae-Born Narratives) by Ryland Thorn
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



This book, on the other hand, was less well written. The writing itself wasn't awful, but it wasn't at all good -- it danced along the border of being purple, but it never quite crossed it. The bigger issue was the black-and-whiteness of the characters. The story opened in a city where slavery was a part of life. Everyone had slaves, it was just the accepted thing. And yet the author described every single person in that city as being an awful horrible disgusting person. Every single one of them had "lust in their eyes". Is slavery bad? Yes, of course. But I just cannot believe an entire city where not one single person feels bad or even gives a single thought to the pain or fear of the slaves -- the author outright said that, not one single person in this city had even once thought about the feelings of the slaves.

Then the main character was introduced, who was as white as all the people of the city were black, and I gave up on the book at the 15% point.

Running tally of unfinished books (the math of keeping track of this is going to doom me) :
Point reached with these two books: 13% + 15% = 28%
Previous abandoned book total: 140%, so one book + 40% towards the next.
New total: 28% + 40% = 68%
thistlechaser: (Book with cat: hugging book)
2017-03-17 07:54 am

Book #7 of 2017: Koan (Wolf's-own #3), Book #8 of 2017: Incendiary (Wolf's-own #4)

Koan by Carole Cummings
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Incendiary by Carole Cummings
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Overall Wolf's-own series rating: LOVED





Before I get to the actual reviews, how cool are these titles? After I reviewed the second book (Weregild), I realized we never learned what the title meant. I thought it was some made-up, fictional word from the story. But nope! "Weregild, also known as man price, was a value placed on every being and piece of property." -- what's the value of a human? Which was a theme of the story! Same thing with Koan, at first I thought it was a word made up for the story (since there were a number of those), but nope! "A kōan is a story, dialogue, question, or statement, which is used in Zen practice to provoke the "great doubt"." -- Once more, that was so perfect for the theme of the third book!

Anyway, on to the review. I wish I had reviewed the third one after I finished it, but since I started the fourth one the same night, I never did. Bad me! Especially because now I can only say OH MY GOD I LOVED IT SO MUCH! I read all the books in a row, and the first three all ran together in my mind.

The first three were about the people, the two main characters especially. Malick, who is a supernatural [spoiler for the first book], and Fen who is... a hell of a mess. The first three books were focused on the two men, how they were slowly coming together, and the boundless issues around them. I loved every single minute of these book. I made so much extra reading time in my life so I could read more of them!

How much did I like these books? Never before in my life have I woken up in the morning and my very first waking thought was "I want to read more". I feel like I knew these characters. I loved them so dearly!

While it pains me to say, while I loved the first three books endlessly, the last one didn't work for me. This is going to sound like the most stupid reason for not liking a book, but: There was too much plot. I loved the first three books because they were about the people, the two men. The final book was all plot plot plot nonstop plot. It felt like a completely different book than the first three. This isn't a fault of the book, and going by Goodreads reviews, my opinion is very much in the minority. It's just I wanted a story more like the first three, and instead this was a giant plotty book (explaining the backstory of Fen, which was good to learn! But it felt like we learned it at the expense of a more personal story, if that makes sense).

It really, really, REALLY pains me to rate the final book a 'disliked'. I really want to bump it up to at least an 'okay', but if I'm not honest in my own reviews, what's the point? I do suspect I would have liked it more if I hadn't read all four straight through. And I strongly, STRONGLY recommend the whole series anyway, even though the end of it didn't work for me personally. I'm tempted to lock this post, because the author is active on LJ and I really hate the idea of hurting anyone's feelings, but I'm going to leave it unlocked because most of what I said is good and I want people to be able to see that and hopefully give the series a try. Please don't let me dislike of the final book put you off! It's a wonderful series! Some of the best books I've ever read!

The one small upside of the last book not working for me: Now I feel able to read something else. I was worried how I'd ever read and enjoy another book after liking this series so much, so this kind of let me down easier, makes it easier for me to move on to the next book.

The author has written a bunch of other books, and I intend to read them all, I'm just not sure if I'll jump into another of hers next or start something else. I'm suspecting some other book before returning to hers, because eventually I will run out of stories she's written and I'd like to make them last.
thistlechaser: (Book with cat: hugging book)
2017-03-05 02:06 pm

Book #6 of 2017: Weregild (Wolf's-own book #2)

Weregild (Wolf's-own book #2) by Carole Cummings
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Never have I liked the second book in a series more than the first. Never have I liked a second book even equal to the first. As much as I loved the first book in this series, the second one blew it out of the water.

Other than when I'm waiting for an appointment, I never read during the daytime. My life is sadly too busy. I read before bed and that's about it. With this book though, twice today I took breaks to read it. My first waking thought in the morning was about the story. I've lost way too much sleeping time because I stayed up late reading.

The story continued from the first book's plot. On one level, it tells the story of Malick (a not-quite-human agent of a god) and Fen (an "Untouchable" -- someone a bunch of dead gods speaks through... many gods, all at the same time, nonstop, unending. Those gods always drive their Untouchables insane because they never shut up). While the relationship of those two men was a part of the plot, in this book the whole story was so much bigger.

The fantasy world this story is set in has multiple gods, one for each of the world's moons. Each of those gods has inhuman followers, has traits/personalities of their own, etc. And the gods also plotted and schemed against each other, all while not overstepping their own laws. Mortals? Mortals were mostly just underfoot. Except when they weren't.

In addition to those two layers of plot, there were those pesky mortals, who plotted and schemed and power-grabbed for themselves. Magic exists in this world, but was supposed to be restricted to just the gods, but those dead gods that speak through Untouchables gave magic to one small race of humans, which made the larger race oppress them and use them.

But really, with all those plots going on, it was the relationships and the characters that were my favorite parts of this book. There is no rush to love in this series -- at the end of book two, and one of the two characters was just starting to be willing to accept it. That makes their relationship seem so realistic and wonderful.

And speaking of wonderful, why is it so satisfying to have a character you love being in pain? If you're a fan of hurt/comfort, you'll really enjoy this series.

The one small-ish complaint I had was my same one I had with the first book: I wish the POV would stick with one or both of the main characters. Instead it jumped from character to the next (even minor characters) as needed by the story, sometimes changing even from one paragraph to the next (though that only happened a couple times, mostly it was consistent within a chapter). For me, that really made me feel briefly less connected with the story. I'd go "Who's head are we in this time?" and only after that get lost in the story again.

This series has only four books in it, and I'm already 56% through the series as a whole. I'm dreading what will happen when I finish it and there are no more books left to read in it. D:
thistlechaser: (winter wolf)
2017-02-24 08:56 pm

Book #5 of 2017: Ghost (Wolf's-own)

Ghost (Wolf's-own) by Carole Cummings
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Usually YA books take me about 4 hours to read. Adult books take me 6-8 hours. When my Kindle told me this book would take me 32 hours I almost fell out of my chair. Turns out this isn't a book, but an omnibus. Three books and two novellas. WHEW. Each book is marked as a chapter, which at least makes it easy to know where one book ends and the next begins.

Wolf's-own is a fantasy series with a M/M romance in it. While the world/worldbuilding is interesting enough, it's the characters that make the story.

The story focuses on two main characters, one Fen (AKA Ghost, AKA Jacin-rei) and one Malick. Fen is Untouchable -- Ancestor spirits speak through him. Understandably, this tends to drive the Untouchables insane. Malick is something that would be spoilery to explain, but even without that, he's such an interesting character. The two of them together are explosive, in generally the worst ways but sometimes the best ways.

The only thing I initially disliked was that it used multiple third person POVs. I like one best, though I can usually get into two, but in the case of this book, POV jumped to whichever character would best progress the story. Which makes sense, but tended to slightly disconnect me.

If I had only the first book, I might be somewhat unhappy with the ending. It did not end on a cliffhanger, but it sure did leave a whole lot of threads unresolved. Luckily I was able to start the next book with nothing more than a slight flick of my finger.

This book did something I generally dislike: It included a glossary. I only skimmed it at the beginning, and by the end wish I had had read it more closely. Ebooks (or at least my Kindle) make it hard to go back and read something earlier without losing your place, so I never turned back to it, which left me trying to remember what the various [made up named thing]s were.

Hm, rereading this review, that sure does sound like I had a lot of complaints, huh? But I really did love it. The characters were so interesting, the story kept zipping right along, and while there was a relationship in the story, it never got close to being a romance book.
thistlechaser: (Book with cat: sickening)
2017-01-31 08:57 am

Book #4 of 2017: Video Game Plotline Tester

Video Game Plotline Tester by Michael Atamanov
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



This is probably the most poorly written book that I've ever willingly finished.

Originally written in Russian, it was translated and self-published here. I'm not sure how much of the bad writing was because of that and how much was the author's fault.

The book was broken up into two parts, interwoven with each other: Inside a game, and the real world. The plot followed a man who was hired by a gaming company to play a character in their game. (The details of why they would do that were neither believable nor important.) As with all of these litrpg books, the game was virtual reality, so the man was actually inside the game for most of the book.

The scenes inside the game were what kept me reading. I believed it as a video game, and it was as fun to read about as it would be to play.

The scenes outside of the game were awful. I did not believe a single word of the dialogue, nothing was realistic at all, and beautiful women got naked for the main character and slept with him for literally no reason. (One just happened to meet him for the first time coming out of the shower, accidentally dropped the towel she had had wrapped around her, and had NO ISSUES with just standing there naked having a conversation with a stranger.)

The whole book had that issue: Whenever there was a problem, the main character was just handed the solution. The end had a seemingly great twist, but a moment later the character was handed a solution and fixed/reset it all.

The author/translator used "literally" way too often. Like during a conversation, someone paused for "literally two minutes" to think. The other guy just continued the conversation as if the other person hadn't stared blankly for that long...

All that being said, it was still a fun story, but only because I like video games so much. While I cannot at all recommend this book, if I spot the second book around somewhere, I'd probably give it a chance.
thistlechaser: (Book with cat: sickening)
2017-01-23 08:30 am

2017 book: Lord of the Wolves [Book #3]

Before the review: I decided to further adjust what counts towards a book in my count for the year. If I'm now keeping a running tally of my partially read books, why should a book I've hit the 50% mark of count as a full book?

So, to count as a full book, I have to reach the 100% mark of it -- completely finish it.

However, as I'm keeping a running total of how far I've gotten through abandoned books, I should get an overall more fair, accurate count of my reading total for the year.

This change brought to you by the letters G, S, and the fact that I had 72 abandoned books last year and gave myself credit for only one full book for all of them.

Lord of the Wolves by James Matlack Raney
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



This was an odd book. A "talking animals" story featuring wolves, but they were basically just people/humans. I have no idea why the author decided to make them wolves.

The alphas of the pack were called lords/ladies. 'Sire' and 'my lord' were used on a regular basis.
The wolves cried (tears) when they were upset.
The wolves screamed.

Even on top of that, the story was just not all that good. A litter was born when the sun and moon were both in the sky (which the wolves said happened only once in many generations...), which meant everything about the litter was different. The first was born twice as big as any other pup, with paws the size of a one year old wolf's (ow, that poor mother wolf). One was born with open eyes, able to see/process anything from the moment he was born. One had a super-powered sense of smell. One was beautiful.

And man, talking wolves are so bad at naming their pups. The pup with his eyes open was called Watcher. The super-smeller was called Windy (because she could smell any scent on the wind). The beautiful one was called Glimmer.

I was willing to go along with the story until the bad guys were introduced. Even more unreasonable characters, completely and utterly un-wolf-like behavior. Black/white characters, not a single shade of grey. (The bad wolf pack killed every single living thing in the forest...)

The whole story felt like the author took some famous fantasy story and rewrote it (poorly) with wolves as the characters, though I can't pin down which book this feels like...

I wanted to stop reading at the 40% point, but pressed on to the 50% point so I could get credit for the whole book, which is what made me realize I really needed the rule change. So thanks for that, Lord of the Wolves!

Point reached: 50%. Previous abandoned book total: 92%. New total: 140%. One book + 40%.

Currently reading: Video Game Plotline Tester, which for a self-published book translated from Russian is very, very good.
thistlechaser: (Book with cat 2)
2017-01-19 08:46 am

2017 books: The Gold Farmer, Paint Over the Stars

The Gold Farmer - Treasure Forest by Liam Arato
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Based on the story idea alone, I would have happily finished this book and given it a top rating. Set in the near future, most jobs were gone because everything was automated. MMORPGs were the most popular form of entertainment. Since rich people could pour lots of real money into the games (to buy game items for their characters), "gold farming" (making game money to sell for RL money) was the new most common job.

The story followed a successful gold farmer as he somehow got pulled from one VR game into a different one and trapped there. What a fun, perfect idea for a book! What a great match for me!

Unfortunately the writing was so subpar, the book was nearly unreadable to me. Tense changes within a paragraph, poor/repetitive word choice, etc. Just a poorly written self-published book.

Abandoned at 12% mark.

Paint Over the Stars (This Filtered Sky Book 1) by Letitia Glade
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



First off, the Amazon page for this book credits the author and "Richard Timmerman (Photographer)". For the photograph used on the cover. Odd...

I went into this book completely blind, and at first that worked out. Story opened with a teenage boy and his mother at home, when some kind of an attack happened. Part of their home was destroyed. Other homes around them were destroyed, vanished, or changed (parts missing but the rest in place, like the second floor of a three floor home gone, but the top floor still in place).

Right away I started thinking alien attack, and I was sort of right. The mother and son raced to reach his scientist father, who had apparently working on researching their attackers for ages. The mother got killed, and the story went downhill from there. The teenage boy, who was already bratty to the point of not being pleasant to read about, got much much worse. (Understandable, but that doesn't change the fact that I didn't want to spend time with the character.)

Then we learned what the attackers were: "Quads," so called because they were from the fourth dimension...

The attackers didn't interest me, I very much disliked the main character, so I gave up at the 42% point.

Abandoned book tally towards book count: 38 + 12 + 42 = 92%

Currently reading: Lord of the Wolves. At first I thought I'd give up on it (the wolves call the alpha pair Lord/Sire and Lady, and they're "married"), but I might stick it out.
thistlechaser: (Book with cat: On stack)
2017-01-16 05:42 pm

2017 books: Iron Edge, Dominion Over All

Iron Edge by P.S. Power
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



First off, "P.S. Power" is about the most unsubtle pseudonym ever.

The idea behind this story was quite interesting. A man is pulled back and forth between our world and a fantasy world. In our world he's an Iraq War vet, in the other world, he's in training to become the bestest fighter ever.

I really didn't like the tone of the book (felt very pro war/pro military/macho... P.S. Power.). The writing was also really quite poor. Then I read the author's About Me section on Goodreads and that explained it: He writes a book or two PER MONTH.

Abandoned at 10% in.

Dominion Over All by W. Bradford Swift
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Dominion Over All had quite a nice idea, too. A boy meets a magical talking cat and has to go on a quest for her. From Amazon's summary, the quest: "He must represent the Animal Kingdom before the United Nations' Conference on Global Warming."

Unfortunately the writing was very, very simplistic. Even for a story about a magical cat, it wasn't very believable. I checked others' reviews, and they said the same. I gave up on it at the 16% point.

---

Usually in my book count for the year I give myself one book credit for all my abandoned books. However, as I had 74 abandoned books last year, I think I'm selling myself short. Maybe I should keep a running count on percent finished on abandoned books and add it to the count that way... (I'd like to track page count instead, but the vast majority of my ebooks don't offer a real page count.)

So let's try that! Abandoned books so far: Count to a Trillion (12%), Iron Edge (10%), and Dominion Over All (16%) gives me a total of 38% so far.

I'm a little skittish about crossposting my less than positive reviews to Goodreads, since it seems authors are more active there... I've been just rating and not reviewing most of the ones I don't like.
thistlechaser: (Cat with book: Toy)
2017-01-15 09:13 am

2017 book: Count to a Trillion

Count to a Trillion by John C. Wright
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



I try not to look at others' reviews until I'm done with a book -- I like forming my own opinions based only on what I read. The added bonus to that is that seeing what others thought is a fun reward for being finished with the story.

In the case of Count to a Trillion, it was such a relief to see others really disliked this book as well. In my short time on Goodreads, I've seen very few books with one star ratings. This book has many of them.

At first the story itself seemed interesting. Set in the distant future, the Earth was a mess. Some sort of plague killed off a whole bunch of people. The main character, a child, was quite interesting -- more intelligent than anyone around him, very gifted. But quickly the story became seriously muddied. We went backwards and forward in time, the dialogue was really 'off' to my ear, and this whole new ruined Earth really wasn't explained all that much (Why were lawyers gunslingers?).

I gave it two nights of reading, got to the 12% mark, before giving up.

Currently reading: Iron Edge, about a man who is being sent back and forth between two worlds without control or awareness when it will happen.
thistlechaser: (Cat with book: Toy)
2017-01-13 08:28 am

2017 book: Blood and Chocolate

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Sometimes rereading a book you loved works out, sometimes it doesn't.

I rarely reread books -- I have too many new books waiting to be read. And, in the case of Blood and Chocolate, this is my third time reading it.

The first time I read it, I loved it endlessly. However, a friend had read it based on my rec, and he hated it. Years later, I reread it to see if maybe he had been right. I still loved it. This third time reading it, it worked less well for me. I wouldn't at all call it bad, it's just the style of it no longer matched my tastes.

The story is about a teenage girl in modern times. A werewolf. Her family/pack gets driven out of their previous home, and they have to try to fit in to a new place.

She's beautiful to the point of "all men want her", thought that seems a werewolf trait from as far as I could tell by the story. The book follows her falling in love with a "meat bag" boy -- a non-werewolf, thus "not a person" to werewolf thinking.

Though it was a fast read, I stopped at the 20% point. To me, the book was a tad too heavy on romance and high school life, and not heavy enough on werewolves.

Currently reading: Count to a Trillion. I'm only a couple pages in, but loving it. The main character's voice has hooked me so hard!
thistlechaser: (tree)
2017-01-12 08:12 am

Goodreads, Book #2 of 2017: People of the Sky

Before my review, a couple Goodread things: Ugh. Only after I copied in 160 reviews did I notice their whole star system is wrong. WHY oh WHY do places weigh things towards the more positive? They have five stars, but the meanings of them are: Did not like, okay, liked, really liked, amazing. Out of five, there's only one negative! And it's as un-negative as they could make it ("did not like" instead of "disliked"). Why is it not evenly balanced on either side of the 'okay'? Not to toot my own horn, but like the system I use: Hated, disliked, okay, liked, loved. UGH.

Anyway, I'm Thistle there (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2748685-thistle) if you want to friend me.

It looks like I'm not going to get my earliest reviews copied over there. It was only mid-2013 that I started writing better ones, with ratings and not just one paragraph about the book in the middle of posts about other things. The earlier ones are generally just too messy to share there.

---

People of the Sky by Clare Bell
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



If you told me a book that included bestiality (is sex with insects still called bestiality?) and mpreg could get a 'Loved' rating from me, I would laugh at you. And yet this book did.

Set on an alien planet, a woman named Kesbe is delivering an old airplane. It crashes in a storm, and she encounters the planet's natives -- descendants of a lost Native American tribe who took to space to escape the problems of a dying Earth. Being of Hopi blood herself, she feels a kinship to these lost people, and tries to join their society.

There were so many interesting themes in this story. Accepting yourself (as a person, as a woman, as a member of a group). Love (LOVE LOVE LOVE! No matter the shape the other individual takes).

The characters were so realistic and believable. The "bad guy" (not really bad, just an interesting shade of grey) had motives that were completely realistic and believable.

The worldbuilding was jaw-droppingly amazing. The writing in all aspects was outstanding.

Rereading books I loved when I was younger is risky. Tastes change, and if I dislike the book on second reading, then that ruins my memory of it. Luckily, in this case, I think I liked it even more than when I was younger. The main character was an adult woman, and I could more easily relate to her now that I'm an adult as well.

I really, really wish I could have been rereading it for the first time though. I remembered some of the twists ahead of time, and knew how the whole thing ended. Still, this was one seriously enjoyable read.

It pains me to have to include that this book had any problems, but unfortunately it did have one: There were a couple dozen typos, misspellings, and grammar issues. That does not at all take away from my strong recommendation of this book.
thistlechaser: (Book with cat: rainbow)
2017-01-05 08:54 am

Book #1 of 2017: The Forest and the Farm | 2017 book: Saturday the Twelfth of October

The Forest and the Farm by Vance Huxley
Rating: Liked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



This was a very odd book. A YA book takes me about four hours to read, an adult one about six. This one took me 12 hours per my Kindle, yet Amazon lists it as only 488 pages... I started reading it a week before 2016 ended, and only finished it last night (and that was with more reading time than usual, because of the holiday).

So, as long as that book was, lots of stuff should have happened, right? Nope. There was oddly very, very little plot in this story, it was just a man's day to day life across years.

At first the reader has no idea where the story is set. I figured it was a generic fantasy world. On it, there are two areas: The Forest and the Farm. Areas that fall under the Farm belong to people. All others, the Forest, belong to the Wild. Humans have no tech -- bows are the highpoint of their weapons; potbelly stoves in a house is a rare sight and a sign of great wealth.

Balance that against the fact that everyone had a name that was just a little off from our real world: The main character was a man named Billi. Other names included Abbe, Edan, Eddwyn, Ellibeth, Ewward, etc. The animals of their world had the same "like ours, but a little off" patterns. Some animals had no name (like "dappled hunter" for a spotted hunting cat -- leopard?). There were Great versions of animals, too (Great Wolf, Great Stag, etc) -- those animals were a lot larger, stronger, and smarter than the non-Great version.

I love interesting worldbuilding, so that hooked me. Eventually, as the story moved along, I came to think that maybe this book was in fact set on Earth, sometime long after the world "ended" and most people died off. (That's not a spoiler, just my guess.)

The story followed Billi. In this world of such dangerous Wilds, there are Hunters and Hounds. Now and then a Hound (perhaps a Great Dog, some people thought) would come out of the Wild and choose one man. That would make the man into a Hunter -- someone able to go into the Wild to hunt. No one without a Hound dared enter the Wild, it was just too dangerous.

Billi was an unexpected Hunter as he had only one leg. The story followed him as he went from basically being a loner outcast to a full, respected, productive member of his village.

Like I said, this book was very odd. Through most of it, "nothing happened". There was no one plot through the whole story, other than Billi's evolution as a person. Rarely I got bored with it, though when I hit the last 10% of it and realized there just would be no climax (no plot = no climax) I started skimming, but otherwise I still enjoyed it.

There was one small part I had serious issue with. This story seemed to be set in a real world, there was no magic at all mentioned, ever. At one point in his life, Billi met a woman who seemed to be able to turn into a wolf and back. She arrived naked through a snowstorm, not cold or shivering at all, spent a few days having sex with him, then turned into a wolf and left him. I could almost handwave it as a dream (that somehow lasted days), but his Hound saw something as well...

All in all, this was a nice story. "Nice" really is the right word for it: Mellow, mild, unoffensive, non-exciting, yet warm and... well, nice.

Edit: I meant to mention that Billi's disability was written so believably well. Turns out the author is as well, which shows through the writing. It was so interesting to have a realistic look at something I'll hopefully never experience firsthand.

Edit 2: This book was so long, I forgot things I meant to mention! Another aspect of the book that annoyed me: Only men became Hunters. Why did Hounds only choose men? Seemed silly to me. Also, by the end of the story, every woman in the village was chasing after and flirting with Billi. While coming to that point was believable, it was kind of over the top (and also part of the reason why I skimmed the last 10%). Even if I had known those points in advance, I still would have read the book, but they were issues that should be mentioned.

Saturday the Twelfth of October by Norma Fox Mazer
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



This was actually a 2016 abandoned book, but The Forest and the Farm took me so long to read, I forgot to post about it, so missed 2016. I guess we can count it for 2017.

Being two or so weeks since I abandoned it, I'm having a little trouble remembering why. I think the usual "flat writing and dated" thing, as it was published in the 1970s.

In it a girl was sent back in time (never explained why or how in the 14% I had read). Per the Amazon summary, she's found by a tribe of humans, but I stopped reading before that happened.