thistlechaser: (Book with cat 1)
Inspired by [ profile] 50bookchallenge, my goal is to read 50 books per year. Last year I made the goal, but this year I didn't thanks to a couple things:

1) Two very long books. The two Stormlight Archive books took me about the same amount of time reading four normal books would, so that's about eight short of where I might have been.
2) I lost six weeks in the beginning of the year and two weeks later in the year to being in the hospital (zero reading done).

I hit 41 books read for the year ("read" being "reached at least the 50% mark"). I had 8 books that I didn't reach the halfway point of.

I ranked them as to how much I liked them:
Loved: 13
Liked: 5
Okay: 5
Disliked: 14
Hated: 3
Uncounted: 1 (#2: graphic novels and unfinished)

The average was "okay" almost exactly on the nose. Last year the average was just over "liked". Each rank was assigned a number for easy averaging (loved/5, liked/4, etc).

41 books, a link to my review, and 1-2 sentences from the review. )

8 books I didn't finish, a link to my review, and 1-2 sentences from the review. )

Process-wise, I'm pretty happy with how this year went. I'm going to keep everything the same, except just use loved/liked/okay/disliked/hated as the ranking, drop the 5/4/3/2/1 number score that went with them. They're not necessary, I can just apply them when doing the year's average.

I didn't do a 'a year of books' summary post previous to 2013, but I want to add those stats to years going forward.

Total books read:
2014: 41 read, 8 unfinished, total average rating: okay.
2013: 53 read, ??? unfinished, total average rating: liked.
thistlechaser: (Book with cat: space)
Sixth of the Dusk by Brandon Sanderson
Rating: 4/liked (1-5/hated-loved)

I made a mistake when I bought this book. I love everything Brandon Sanderson writes, so when I saw he had something new just released, I grabbed it. Unfortunately it was only after I read it that I saw it was just a section taken from another book.

Sixth of Dusk is one of the four stories in Shadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses Anthology. But the stories are only part of what Shadows Beneath has to offer: With each one, the author explains not just why they wrote it, but earlier drafts of the story, how the ideas evolved, how it was edited, the whole process from first idea to final draft. Sixth of the Dusk is the final draft of Sanderson's story in Shadows Beneath.

From Amazon: For years the hosts of Writing Excuses have been offering tips on brainstorming, drafting, workshopping, and revision, and now they offer an exhaustive look at the entire process. Not only does Shadows Beneath have four beautifully illustrated fantastic works of fiction, but it also includes transcripts of brainstorming and workshopping sessions, early drafts of the stories, essays about the stories’ creation, and details of all the edits made between the first and final drafts.

Come for the stories by award-winning authors; stay for the peek behind the creative curtain.

So, yeah. I'm reading Shadows Beneath next.

But! For now, Sixth of Dusk. It's set in set the Cosmere universe (where the Mistborn, Stormlight Archive, and a bunch of his other books are set), and tells the story of a young man (a trapper) on an island full of animals who hunt by sensing thoughts, in a world where birds bestow magical powers to people. But larger than that, it's a story of post-first contact with an alien race.

Typical of Sanderson's books, Sixth did not hook me from the very first page. With every book I've read by him, I started out thinking "Oh well, guess I'm not going to like this one..." then it starts growing on me and never stops until I get to the "This is the best book ever!" level. Because this was a novella, the slow building of my love didn't have time to get to the "Best ever!" level, though I did like it a whole lot.

It's interesting that that 'quickly hooking the reader' arrow is missing from Sanderson's quiver: Every other author I love hooks me right from the first page. I think it's because of what he offers: Amazing world-building and very realistic characters -- things you can't show in the first paragraph. (Other than the Chaos Walking series, man those books had everything).

As there is less than a week left in 2014 (eeek!), this is likely my last book of the year. I'll do a summary of the year sometime next week.

Happy holiday, everyone! Thanks for reading! :)
thistlechaser: (Book with cat 5)
Thor by Wayne Smith
Rating: 3/okay (1-5/hated-loved)

One of my favorite kind of story is one told from an animal's point of view. That's a more challenging style than it might seem, because if the animal knows too much, the story becomes unbelievable, yet if the animal doesn't know enough, the story can be impossible to tell.

Based on only storytelling and believable of the dog protagonist, I'd say this was the best 'told from an animal's POV' book I ever read. However, that does not mean this was a good book.

Though published by major company, this book was full of errors and issues. On the very second page of the book, there was a major error (wrong pronoun used for a character). Peppered through the book were lots of other errors, mostly word switching, typos, and letters or words dropped (like 'do' instead of 'dog', and 'To' instead of 'Tom"). Add on top of that that, while the dog was a very believable dog, none of the human characters were realistic or believable. There were major plot holes? errors? as well (like the cop agreeing to "I'll tell you everything I know if you tell me everything you know", then the cop told him everything... then just left without getting a single bit of info from the other guy).

The plot of the book was interesting (a dog had to protect his family from a werewolf, the werewolf just happening to be the brother of the family's mother and living with the family). I enjoyed the first two-thirds of the book, but the end was really heavy-handed and contained errors related to earlier in the book, so I started skimming.

The writing was amusingly dated, even though it was published in 1992. There were multiple references to Richard Nixon. For example:

"So," Uncle Ted said, nervously tucking his shirt into his pants and sounding as innocent and nonchalant as Richard Nixon...

Would I recommend this book? Maybe. If you like stories told from animal POVs, it's entertaining enough. All in all though, probably not. It had just too many basic editing mistakes.
thistlechaser: (Book with cat: Litterbox)
Survey Ship by Marion Zimmer Bradley (Book not linked on purpose.)
Rating: 2/disliked (1-5/hated-loved)

Reading books on the Kindle, cover images are in black and white, and smaller than LJ icons. Sure once you open the book you could see the whole cover as big as your screen, but by default the book starts you on page one of the story, not on the cover. Usually I try to go back to the cover and start from there, but sometimes I don't.

This time I hadn't. I should have.

I loved the prologue so much. The story went somewhat downhill from there, but I was still generally enjoying it. So, when I had a chance, I googled to see who wrote it and if s/he had written anything else. I was unhappily shocked.

In case you hadn't encountered the news yet, Bradley sexually abused children, including her own daughter. Her daughter wrote:

"The first time she molested me, I was three. The last time, I was 12, and able to walk away … She was cruel and violent, as well as completely out of her mind sexually. I am not her only victim, nor were her only victims girls."

If that's not bad enough, "Most notably, she actively aided and abetted her husband, Walter Breen, in the sexual abuse and molestation of children.".

So, yeah. I had to decide what I was going to do about reading this book. Since I already owned it, and had mostly enjoyed it thus far, I decided to keep going with it.

That turned out to be a mistake. This story was about three things, in this order:

Teenagers thinking. (70%)
Teenagers having sex. (25%)
Teenagers in space. (5%)

All I could think about is how she might have used her abuse of children as some sort of research (purposefully or not) for all the sex in this book. It turned my stomach.

I did try to judge the book based on the story alone (thus 'disliked' instead of 'hated', since I liked the prologue so much and I did finish the whole thing). But even without the foul background of the author, the story was just pretty darned boring. Six basically perfect teenagers who spent most of the space trip thinking or having sex. So. Much. Thinking. Often thinking about sex. Page after page after page of nothing but them thinking.

Every problem was solved in, at most, a couple pages. Most of them the next page.

The author had a love affair with exclamation points. The characters! Were constantly! Talking! Like this!

The copy I had was a scan of the physical book (thankfully apparently I didn't buy it), so it was full of errors (like 1 or l in the place of an I), but there was one amusing one. One character screamed:

"They left us out here to live or Jive!"

Teenage jive contests in space. I'd read a book about that, unless it were written by this author.

Currently reading: Thor by Wayne Smith.
thistlechaser: (Book with cat 1)
What a way to spend a day off from work. Was pretty sure I had an infection in my toe (I keep getting ingrown toenails), so went to the walk in clinic. He sent me off to the podiatry department. The same toe that had the nail reduced by 50% six months ago now has another big chunk gone. There's only like 25% left of it. Since I was going through all the pain of removal anyway, I kinda wish they had taken the whole thing.

It is, quite literally, a bloody mess at the moment. I'll resist going into details beyond that.


Informatzia by Catherine Keegan ([ profile] loupnoir)
Rating: 4/liked (1-5/hated-loved)

I've been waiting for this book for so long. :) How hard is it to not bug the author when they're right there on your LJ friends list? It was really great to see all the characters again!

In a way, you could say this book series was Harry Potter fanfic with the serial numbers filed off, but that's not really the case. The Durmstrang Chronicles (written by this author and what the Informatzia trilogy was based on) was always pretty stand-alone. It had no canon Harry Potter characters (Lupin had a walk-in role in one of the stories, but that's it). The whole world was so wonderfully dark and mature. So it's more like Informatzia is two steps removed from Harry Potter.

The main character of Informatzia is an animagus werewolf, but neither that nor magic were the focus of this story. It was more a tale of spies and the Russian culture.

While I love the main character, I found myself wishing to be able to see so much more of this world. The few glimpses of the "magic cops" (special members of the FBI) made them seem so interesting! And the few mentions of Rose Jones (main character of Durmstrang Chronicles) made me itch to have her show up in the story.

Not so totally unrelated, I named one of my Flight Rising dragons Rose Jones.

Ahem! Anyway, I quite enjoyed the book! I can't wait until the third one. :)

Currently reading: Survey Ship by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I've had it on my Kindle for a while, well before all the rape/abuse stuff around her and her husband came out. I feel a little icky reading it; I hadn't even originally realized it was by her (the covers on the Kindle are so small, all I can generally see is the title).
thistlechaser: (Cat with book: Swipe)
The Flesh Cartel, "books" 16-16 by Rachel Haimowitz and Heidi Belleau
Rating: 1/hated (1-5/hated-loved)

This isn't the book I wanted to read. However, any book I read after a "Best book ever!" book suffers from "This sucks because it's not [best book ever]", so I didn't want to read the book I'm really looking forward to ([ profile] loupnoir's Informatzia). The Flesh Cartel series has previously annoyed me, and I didn't expect to enjoy its conclusion, so it seemed the perfect book to read next.

Initially, my biggest problem with The Flesh Cartel wasn't the story or the writing: It was the pricing scheme. It's released "book" (chapter) by "book", each book costing $2.99. For that $3, you got about 20-30 pages of story and 20-30 pages of nonstory (6 pages of "about the authors" crap, advertisements for other books, review of previous books, and most boggling: a multiple-page summary of what was coming in this current book/chapter). This series had 19 chapters in it, so let's look at the math:

At an average of 25 pages of story per chapter, you'd get a total of 475 pages of story.
At $3 per chapter, you'd pay $57 for the entire story.

475 pages is a fair number of pages for a book. $57 is an insane, 'gouge your readers' price. I kick myself that I paid for the first four or five chapters (know the last time I spent $12-$15 for a fiction ebook? Never!). I will never, ever give these authors another penny of my money.

I'm all for authors making a living, but there's a difference between profit and bleeding your readers dry. So, while I don't like to do it, I pirated the chapters after those first 4-5 that I paid for. (But, again, I already paid them $12-$15, way more than any ebook costs.)

Anyway, in these final chapters, I had big giant issues with the story. To backtrack/review: This series is about human slavery (the kinky/sexual kind, not realistic/historical stuff). In the first chapter, the two main characters (brothers) are captured and sold into slavery. In the book's version of reality, there's a whole sexual slavery network through the world, with actual slave-training houses and such. Most of the book is PWP (Plot? What Plot? / Porn, What Plot?), it's not until these final chapters that a plot showed up.

So let's say you write a book and market it towards sexual slavery. You release 15 chapters, the majority of them sex or sexual, about all the kink surrounding that subject. You know what you're selling your readers and your readers know what they're getting. So why, oh why, would you...
have the last four chapters be a police bust of that whole network? All the masters we got to know thrown into prison. Slaves we knew and love killing themselves because they spent their entire lives as slaves and now can't cope with being free/away from their masters? And even worse than that, a whole plotline about how one of the brother/slaves has a relationship and falls in love with the lead cop on the case (which of course leads to the god-awful plotline of "Woe, he could never love me for I am damaged goods!").

It felt like 1) the authors just wanted to keep extending the story to continue to make money, and 2) like they had no idea why people were reading to begin with. (Though it's possible that I'm the odd man out here: Maybe most readers would want that to happen? But why, if you read a book series for X, would you want there to be no X at the end of the story?)

Anyway. I'm glad to be done with that story. In the beginning I did enjoy it ('breaking and rebuilding people' is probably my most favorite story element ever), but in the end it turned out to be nothing but a disappointing conclusion and a money-grab.


I'm one of the last people to see Guardians of the Galaxy, but yesterday I finally did. The beginning was really rough. I was having an emotionally down day and was expecting the movie to be funny -- the first couple minutes (the scene with his mother) were neither what I expected or wanted, and ended up crying. However, once I got through that, I loved it so much! I had heard so many good things about it, I had worried my expectations were going to be too high, but it lived up to them and more.

Even for such a light-hearted movie, it had great emotional moments in it. Also, I was surprised at how well Rocket worked for me (originally I had thought I wouldn't even see the movie because... talking raccoon? Really?). And Groot of course. And that final pre-credits scene! :D

Rare is it that I have zero issues with a movie. Other than that first scene (which I can't really count against them -- HOW DARE THE WRITERS NOT KNOW THAT WHEN I WATCHED IT ON 11/23/14, I'D BE HAVING A BAD DAY?!), there was not one thing I'd change about it. And heck, I wouldn't even change that first scene, because it really was important.

Loved the music. Loved every single characters. So many familiar voices! (Michael Rooker/Merle from Walking Dead drove me crazy half the movie trying to remember who he was! I knew he played 'racist southern character', but couldn't remember which one.)

Just such a fun, wonderful movie. I'm glad I finally saw it.
thistlechaser: (Book with cat: hugging book)
Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
Rating: 5/loved (1-5/hated-loved)

Guys, I don't know how to review books anymore. Book one of this series was so long that it took me a month to read. Book two was even longer and took me almost a full two months to read. (That's with a lot of reading per day, I didn't leave them sitting around for days on end!) So I've written one review in the last three months, and now I'm all rusty.

Words of Radiance was longer than anything GRRM has ever written. It's longer than anything Stephen King has written. Never once, for a single moment, did I think "Man, this book needed a good editor" -- there was no extra padding, no useless stuff, nothing I for even a moment wanted to skim over. Not a single word. I've many times thought that King's books had too much fluff, and GRRM's need of a good editor is nearly meme-level known.

The series is set on a fantasy world that has been built from the ground up by the author. It has a weather pattern that drives everything on the planet, and the path evolution took on the world is so wonderfully clear. Everything from plants to insects to animals exist as they currently are because of the weather. Interestingly (oh so so so so interestingly) there are a few things from our planet (like horses, though there's a native(???) species of them as well). And humans, of course. I'm dying to know how/why there are horses there. The human population treats them as alien creatures (they don't fit in with how the rest of the wildlife on the world evolved). They have to be a giant clue as to the reality of this world, but as of now there's just no way to know more.

Unlike the first book, this one was told mostly from the POV of two characters (with a few other chapter POV characters now and then). Unfortunately I didn't like one of the two much, but that did not lessen my enjoyment of the book one single bit.

Brandon Sanderson is such a good writer. He's written thousands of pages of notes about his world, setting, background, and characters, and all of that shows in the finished story. This is one of the most real fantasy worlds I've ever read about.

The first book of the series is about $5 on Amazon, this second one is $10. You could easily add a zero to both of those figures and still get your money's worth.

This series is planned as ten books long, but he seems to be a seriously fast writer, so hopefully it won't be too long until book #3.

Between these two books, my chances of hitting 50 books this year is pretty darned low, but it was worth it. If I had only been able to read two books this whole year, these would be the two I'd pick.
thistlechaser: (Book with cat 1)
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
Rating: 5/loved (1-5/hated-loved)

Usually when I read a "best book I ever read"-level book, I know how I'm going to feel about the book from the first paragraph. With Way of Kings, that didn't happen. Oh I knew it was a good book from the start, a really good book, but my "wow this is the best book I ever read" feeling was slower to build. Where a series like Chaos Walking had the amazing idea of Noise that snagged me from the first lines, the wonder of Way of Kings built up with each new detail and world fact. And I really enjoyed that: The alienness of the world didn't slap you in the face, it kept expanding with what seemed a never-ending series of small details until their world felt just as real and fleshed-out as ours.

As I posted previously, this is one giant book. Longer than a GoT or most Stephen King books, Way of Kings took place across multiple countries, character PoV chapters, and thousands of years. He's written hundreds of thousands of words in notes about the world it's set in, and boy does that show.

As much as I liked the characters, I think I like the world/setting best of all. Set on another planet, the driving force of the plant is the Highstorms -- massive wind/rain storms that happen on a regular basis through most of the year. Everything on the planet evolved or was created based on those storms. Most creatures have thick shells or stone-like skin. Plantlife has a rock casing, can withdraw into the hard trunk, or has other adaptations to survive the Highstorms. The buildings people create are specially made to last the storms (sloping roof and windows only one one side, for example). Everything is so interesting and detailed. Everything from soil and rock to the people (so many countries, people, cultures!) to the form of money they use (so unique and cool!).

Unfortunately for those of us reading ebooks, the illustrations are hard to see. Luckily they're all online on the author's website. Look at the quality of the art in the book! )

In the book's introductory info, the author thanked his publisher for letting him publish such a different sort of book -- so much longer than most books are nowadays (about four times as long as books I usually read!) and full of pictures, maps, and chapter header illustrations. This is really one quality piece of work. The ebook version is just over $5, which is the steal of a lifetime. The second book is just over $10, which I didn't bat an eye at paying (usually I hate it when ebooks are $10).

There's so much I'd love to talk about, but I hate risking spoiling the story for anyone who wants to read it. Each little element is a new discovery. I'll talk about one more though: The Spren. I'm not certain what Spren are (the book is great about giving you information and allowing you to guess or discover things yourself instead of giving you the flat-out answer). My thought is they're spirits. There are lots of different kinds (fearspren appear when someone is afraid, creationspen when someone is making a work of art, lifespen around growing things, rainspen or firespen in puddles or fire, etc). They all look and act differently. People can sort of use them (you'd know a wound is infected when rotspen show up, for example).

The characters are so interesting. There are two main PoV characters, but even the minor PoV characters and non-PoV characters are great. I don't think there's one character I dislike (writing-wise). There are so many plot threads! The book covers such scope (time, number of characters, distances, everything).

But all this aside, the writer is just good. I've spent much of this book comparing it to the previous book I finished, Zhukov's Dogs. The writing in Way of Kings made me feel so bad for the author of Zhukov's Dogs -- you can't even say they're not in the same league, it's more like they're not even in the same profession.

Disclaimer: I've not actually finished the book yet. I'm about 70% done. I was worried I might finish it while my mother is here, then I won't be able to concentrate and write up the review it deserves. However, now that I'm thinking about it, even without the hospital/visit it would likely take me weeks more to finish this book, so maybe I'd have been safe to wait until I finished. Either way.

"Sadly" this book and the next book are going to kill my book count for the year. Each one is easily four books worth of reading, so I'll be getting credit for two books instead of eight, but know what? I'd rather not make my goal and have mega-long great books to read. They're just that worth it.

Go buy this book. There is no better use of $5.
thistlechaser: (Cat with book: Toy)
Zhukov's Dogs by Amanda Cyr (No link available.)
Rating: 2/disliked (1-5/hated-loved)
Book received free for review from Curiosity Quills Press.

Not only can you not tell a book by its cover, you can't tell it by its title either.

Based on the title, Zhukov's Dogs seemed to be a good match for me: I enjoy it when troops/people are referred to as dogs, and I've taken a liking to books about Russian characters. The brief blurb both made it sound interesting and made me wary:

On the verge of promotion, Nik is dispatched to the underground city beneath the icy Seattle tundra. What should’ve been a simple bit of recon is complicated by the underground’s dark secrets. He soon finds himself treated as an equal and swept into battles alongside the misfit revolutionaries he was sent to spy on. Their gray-eyed leader isn’t fooled by his ruse, though, and as Nik worms his way into their lives, he unknowingly breaks the number one rule within his ranks. He allows himself to feel normal. It’s a mistake he pays for dearly when he learns The Council’s true intentions for Seattle.

"Icy Seattle tundra" caught my attention. Though the book was described as "new-adult, science-fiction, action-adventure romance" (way to cover all the bases), I figured it was another dystopia YA novel, and I was right.

I've mentioned before that special eye colors are a really bad sign in books, so I was worried at the gray-eyed bit. Turned out that both of the two main characters in the romance had special eye colors: One had grey eyes and the other heterochromia (brown and blue). Bad, bad sign.

The good points of the book: Based on the summary, it seemed just another teenage romance book. Turned out it was m/m romance. It's very rare for that to happen without "warning" on the cover or in the summary, so I was quite happily surprised by that. And, for almost the first half of the book, I enjoyed the romance part of it.

The bad: I don't even know where to start. Every other character except the two in the romance were one-dimensional. The bad guys were nothing but evil -- I expected the female villain to sprout a mustache just so she could twirl it. None of the characters were believable as people other than the two in the romance.

The logic was so badly off as well. Big elements: On one page, it was mentioned that Seattle was the second biggest producer of recycled metal. A couple pages later, the Council (new government) said they were going to destroy Seattle because it wasn't producing enough recycled metal. I had to stop reading and laugh -- was I suddenly reading Game of Thrones? "You win or you die"? Be the very best at producing or be destroyed?

A couple pages later I encountered GoT again, but didn't laugh. "Grey was the last name given to bastard children fathered by the Grey Men..." Is that a common thing? Naming all bastards of one group the same last name? The only place I've seen that done is in GoT. On top of that, there's an even bigger logic issue from this: The Grey Men are geneteched, not very human anymore. Their blood is poisonous, they're really hard to kill. What in the world are they doing interbreeding with humans? If the government produced them (and it's never explained how, when most of the country is in ruin), why in the world would they be left able to reproduce with people?

More odd things:
- "His smile was far too genuine to belong to a hardened criminal.". Buh? Criminals can't smile? They're never really happy? Nothing is able to get a genuine smile out of them?
- The main character, who has been trained in military/spy stuff since he was five or so years old, was sitting in a holding cell, put there by the Council. For lord knows what reason, he starts talking out loud to himself about what he was done... then is shocked that the cell had a mic in it and his captors heard everything he said.
- The "Dogs" (normal trained people, not geneteched) could heal from a gunshot wound in one day. How? "Dogs are given daily boosts of amino acids, protein, and a half dozen vitamins". Oh, it's that easy, huh?
- One of the two teens in the romance was a pack+ a day smoker. When the nonsmoker kissed him: "his nicotine-sweet lips". Um. NO.

The first half of the book at least had the romance going for it, but by the second it turned into more of an action movie. And I mean movie. Rarely a book is written as if it were intended to be a movie instead -- the characters don't act like people, they act like movie characters. For example, in this scene Dog Teen is trying to save his Rebel boyfriend from a Grey Man. The Grey Men are programmed to obey officers. (It's been announced on TV by the government that Dog Teen is no longer part of their army, the Grey Men are combing Seattle to find and kill him.)

I pushed my bangs out of my eyes. "My name is Nikolas Zhukov," I said. "Lieutenant Colonel of the Y.I.D. and commanding field officer of Battalions Alpha, Tau, Delta, and Zeta... And you're crushing my boyfriend.

Why, when the Grey Men are hunting Dog Teen down to kill him, would they obey him? Wouldn't the people who sent the Grey Men out tell them not to listen to him? And why in the world would Dog Teen order something other than "Stop!", "Drop him!", or some other impossible-to-misinterpret command? "And you're crushing my boyfriend" only implies that they should stop. The Grey Men are described as stupid, so do you really want them to have to take the time to think that through while they're crushing your boyfriend?

I only made it through 80% of the book. There were just too many plot holes, unbelievable characters, and unexplained things (what happened to the country? Why was most of it buried in snow? why was the government gone and replaced by a council? how in the world did a nation in that state get to the level of gene technology that would allow them to produce Grey Men?). I wasn't enjoying the book at all.

It's only been 11 days since my last review, but it feels like I spent months trying to get through this book.
thistlechaser: (Book with cat 2)
No Safety In Numbers by Dayna Lorentz
Rating: 5/loved (1-5/hated-loved)

I should have written about No Safety In Numbers when I finished it, but I was in a depressed period and didn't feel like posting. I had loved it, but now I can't do it justice as to why.

The plot takes place in a mall. Saturday afternoon. Someone sets off a biological weapon and releases a deadly flu-like thing into the air. The CDC puts the whole mall under quarantine. People start quickly dying, so walls go up and windows are blocked to make sure that no one gets out -- this deadly disease can't be allowed to escape the mall.

The whole book takes place in less than a week. There were multiple main characters. Four (five?) POV characters. All teenagers, but this book made them both likeable and realistic, unlike so many other books where the teenage main character isn't someone you'd want to spend any time around, let alone read a book about.

Unlike many YA books like this, the adults were not only alive, but they were visible, realistic characters.

I enjoyed everything about No Safety In Numbers, and would highly recommend it (except to those people on my friends list who don't like stories containing the death of children -- lots of people died in this book, people of all ages).

No Easy Way Out (No Safety In Numbers: Book 2) by Dayna Lorentz
Rating: 2/disliked (1-5/hated-loved)

I should have written about No Safety In Numbers after I read it, because I disliked No Easy Way Out so much that it colored my memory of Safety.

Everything I liked about Safety was absent in No Easy. The teenagers, who had been likeable in the first book, were generally awful people in this one. The adults were either absent or there only to push teenagers' plot points along. The adult characters were also generally very unbelievable.

Heck, the teenagers were unbelievable, too. No Easy took place during the second week in the mall, and we were to believe that somewhere in the 7-14 day range, kids were willing to cold blooded murder people. Not only that, the teenagers believed that a senator (trapped in the mall with them) geneteched a whole new flu virus aimed at killing off just teenagers. I know teenagers can make bad decisions and believe out-there things, but would even they believe that a senator, someone with NO scientific background, could create a whole new virus? One that targets just teenagers?

All the things I enjoyed in the first book were absent in the second. Heck, the second was just flat out opposite of the first: The characters were unrealistic, the actions and decisions unbelievable, and there was way too much violence (violence for violence's sake, seemed like). I do not believe that a thousand or more people trapped in a mall for less than two weeks would go so bad that it would make Lord of the Flies look like a tropical beach vacation.

Though I'm curious about how the series will end, I doubt I'll read the third and final book.

Next up: Zhukov's Dogs... which apparently isn't on Amazon yet. Odd. I tried to link it, but can't. I accepted it for review almost solely based on its name. Someone *cough*[ profile] loupnoir*cough* instilled a fondness for all things Russian when it comes to books. :) I hope it will be good, but I worry a bit. The book's summary states that the main female character has gray eyes, and gray eyes are always a really bad sign in a YA book. Having them mentioned in the summary sets off every alarm I have. Oh well, fingers crossed
thistlechaser: (Book with cat: Litterbox)
Mutegi's Sweet One by Charlie Richards
Rating: 1/hated (1-5/hated-loved)

He became rock hard after just that brief kiss, and his warthog really wanted to claim the man.

I didn't expect this book to be good, but even I couldn't guess just how awful this thing was.

Quoting lines:

Ben's back and ass with his own shuddered, twice more, pleasure Ben stepped back and his brow creased.

Ben noted the other Slipping from the followed.

"But you're not," different," He glanced Ben denied.

There are some things you just have to accept, gaining his thoughts. He about.

There are more than twenty "sentences" like that. In a 72 page book that the author charges $5 for. Forget about a beta reader or a friend looking it over, I don't believe the author herself reread this damned thing before putting it up for sale.

But let's back up a step, to the plot. The author has written thirty or so "books", half of them about these shifters. One of the biggest thing that annoys me about this book is that the idea had potential, but I'd be surprised if Charlie Richards could write a check, let alone write a coherent story, so that potential is lost.

The book is set in our world, other than that there are a very few "shifters" (were-animals). The series focuses on a motorcycle gang made up of gay shifters -- they don't have a pack of their own in their species, so they came together to form this mixed-species biker gang/pack. And they're all gay. All of them being gay is a stretch, but that idea as a whole in the right hands could have work.

Charlie Richards's hands are not the right hands.

Many bigots thought it was impossible for shifters to be gay, but everyone in the gang was gay, all thirteen of them.

Why? What does the kind of sex you enjoy have anything to do with someone being a were-animal? Not to mention, no one knows shifters exist other than them and their human mates, so who are these bigots?

So the gang is riding down the road and encounter a broken down truck. Because they're kindhearted gay biker shifters, they stop to help. Would you believe that the guy in the truck is the mate of one of them?! What are the chances!!

Every shifter has a mate out there in the world somewhere, like a soulmate.

Blah blah, the two have sex because of course the human (Ben) has the hots for the warthog shifter (Mutegi) at first sight.

There's a seriously stupid subplot about a group of human bigots who want to take Ben's sister's baby away because Ben is gay. These bigots have broken the law multiple times and are trying to beat/kill them, but the law doesn't care. Because Ben is gay.

The shifter gang and the gang of bigots get into a fight. Explain this to me:

A tusk went through the man's heart and gave him a quick death.

How can a warthog (one shaped like a real warthog, not running around on two legs like a werewolf might) possibly get its tusk through a man's chest and into his heart? Wouldn't the dome of his head get in the way?

The dialogue was stupid and unrealistic. Most characters were just stereotypes. The sex was barely okay. The only thing I liked in the whole book was Mutegi's nickname for Ben (Sweet One), until we got to things like this:

He noted the three scoops of sugar Ben put in [his coffee]. Well, that explains why he tastes so sweet!

Um. I don't think that's all it takes to change the flavor of... everything ...about a man...

The writer was so bad that the only description we had of Mutegi (the main character!) for the first 95% of the book was that he was big and African. Big in all ways. It wasn't until the 96% point that we found out anything else - that he had dreads. The next page the story ended.

To sum it up, this book is everything that's wrong with the self-publishing industry. Crap quality (sorry for insulting you, crap), a $5 price tag!, and writing worse than most any fanfic. This person wrote dozens of books; apparently they're selling because she keeps writing more. You can get these same tropes and much better sex/writing from hundreds of different fanfics or original stories around on the net for free.
thistlechaser: (Book with cat: Litterbox)
Quarantine #1: The Loners by Lex Thomas
Rating: 1/hated (1-5/hated-loved)

Want to read a book about a group of awful teens doing awful things in an awful situation, yet the results of their awful acts are random? Written with awful poor writing skill? Then this book is for you!

The first problem was that I didn't buy the story's basic premise. Oh, I could roll with a genetech company being built right next to a high school, the company working on a secret biotech weapon (virus), that teenage humans are a carrier of, that is 100% fatal to adults and pre-teen kids. What I couldn't buy was the whole setup of the main character: After the death of his mother, he (football team captain/star, dating the prettiest girl in the school) withdrew a little (quit the team). His girlfriend cheated on him with the new captain of the football team. When main character found this out, seeing the new captain and his girlfriend making out, he punched the guy. For that, he became an outcast at school. Because he punched another teen. A teen who took his captainship and girlfriend.

That sort of lack in logic continued through the book. That same main character saved another character from being raped by punching someone (that someone, drunk, was knocked down by it, hit his head, and died). So now, because he was so ~evil~ as to kill someone, the whole school was trying to kill him. Nevermind people had been killed previous to this. (Which is also a plot hole. These kids have been trapped in a school for a year or more, the army drops food in weekly, how in the world are they getting drunk? If they're making it themselves, there's zero mention of it.)

Let me back up a step. The plot. So of course, you don't write a biotech company making a virus that infects teens next to a high school unless you intend one to infect the other. The virus escaped into the school, the army put a dome over the school, trapping the kids inside. The book takes place a year into that. All the kids have formed gangs based on high school cliques: The jocks, the "pretty ones", the "sluts", the geeks, whatever. That's their actual gang names. The Pretty Ones. The Sluts. (For some disturbing reason, all female characters not in the Pretty Ones are in the Sluts...)

So blah blah, ex-captain of the football team is trying to survive because he's such an ~awful person~. I got through 38% of the book before giving up. It was just too unreasonable and poorly written.

The odd thing was the first chapter was so good, almost like someone else wrote it. " she rocked her hips back and forth slower than pouring honey" is a nice image. Later in the book, not so much:

One Varsity echoed Sam. "We'll get our blood in the morning!" The chant caught on. "WE'LL GET OUR BLOOD IN THE MORNING!"

I'm sorry, but that's the worst chant ever. I could see "We'll get blood!" being chanted or "Blood in the morning!", but that whole line?

I've been out of high school for a long time, but somehow I don't think lockers were this big:

[Teenager who went through a growth spurt and works out daily] stuffed himself into the locker [with the corpse of a dead teacher], closing the door behind him.

This was the last straw. (Haha, see what I did there?) She backed up with a startled whinny. I think I've heard whinny used that way before, but man, all I can think of is a horse. It was an overweight girl.

Then an awful teenage romance subplot started and I was out of there. I didn't reach the 50% point, so I can't count this book.
thistlechaser: (Moon)
1) This video is making its rounds both through my group at work and my LJ friends list. I think it's the first time that sort of overlap has happened! (We're tech writers, so it makes sense that my work group liked it.)

It's really catchy, and I love that LJ is used as the example of blog sites!

2) Today I finally get my hands on my copy of the FFXIV catalog! Straight from Japan, it'll be on my doorstep today, just two days after its release in Japan. It's in Japanese unfortunately, but it's packed full of pictures of every item in the game, so that'll be interesting to see.

I still have (and love) my Japanese books about FFXI, so I have high hopes for this one as well.

3) The book I'm currently reading, Quarantine, is better than I expected it to be. I thought I'd be knocking another bad self-published book out of my To Read pile, like I had with Ruin. Turns out it's neither self-published nor bad. In the first chapter or two, I thought Quarantine would be another fantastic read, but it's gone a little downhill. Still good, but not OH MY GOD good.

I think I might read that were-warthog romance one next...
thistlechaser: (Cat with book: Toy)
Ruin by N.M. Martinez
Rating: 2/disliked (1-5/hated-loved)

I need to create a Bad Book Bingo or something. Signs you're reading a bad self-published book:

* The main character teenage boy's eyes are grey. This always means it's going to be a typical crap teenage awful romance book. "Oooh I love him so much, but alas I am so ugly he'll never look at me and want me!" says the beautiful main character who is lusted after by every male character in the book.

* It has no copyright page.

While not always a bad sign, Ruin was written in first person present tense. In a skilled writer's hands, that might have worked, but it did not in Ruin. In the 10% I read, I found myself frequently having to reread a sentence to figure out exactly what the writer was trying to say.

Ruin's plot? At some point in the future, someone (government?) experimented on humans and awoke Powers in some of them. Those people were banished to the Wastelands (destroyed cities of America? somewhere). The main character's mother was a member of some kind of revolution, so she (was killed?) and her daughter (who was uninvolved) was banished to the Wastelands where she met sexy/scary grey-eyed Brandon.

Like I said, I only got to the 10% point, so maybe the plot would have gotten better if I continued, but the writing was just too distracting.

This book does not count towards my 50/year goal, since I didn't get to at least the halfway point.

Hmm, this book is kind of opposite the last one I reviewed. I loved Ice's story, but hated the cover. I really like Ruin's cover, but the rest didn't work for me.
thistlechaser: (Book with cat 4)
Ice by Sarah Beth Durst
Rating: 5/loved (1-5/hated-loved)

I dislike the cover and it's big, so click here to see it. )

When Cassie was a little girl, her grandmother told her a fairy tale about her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and was swept away to the ends of the Earth. Now that Cassie is older, she knows the story was a nice way of saying that her mother had died.

This book. Man, this book. Flawless.

Cassie lived her whole life in an Alaskan research station, where her father was the director. Her whole world was about science, she wanted to study polar bears for a living when she grew up, and was well on the way to that goal when she met a talking one.

Turned out the "fairy tale" her grandmother had told her was real.

When I say this book was flawless, I mean it. I fully believed each and every character as a real person. Cassie going from a world where science was her religion to a world full of spirits and "magic" would have been a journey on its own, but that was only the very start of things. We got to experience her growing relationship with a "talking bear" (a munaqsri, a spirit who is a caretaker for one of the species on Earth, they gather souls from the dying and deliver them to newborns). There was not one thing I disagreed with, disliked, or didn't believe in this book. Not one typo or rough wording. ...okay, I didn't like the cover art, but that doesn't really count.

I loved the book's setting to death. The whole way the spirits worked. The munaqsri as "people" (believable characters). Every step of her journey alone and on foot through the arctic and Alaska.

There was another journey in the book that was just as interesting, but it's a spoiler. Please do yourself a favor and don't click here! Read the book yourself! Spoiler for a more personal journey Cassie took. )

This was one of those rare books that, as soon as I finished it, I wanted to start at the beginning again.

On top of everything else, this was one of those (sadly) rare books that is self-contained -- it doesn't end on a cliffhanger and make you wait for the rest of the trilogy. There is no more after Ice. *sniffle*


[ profile] irreparable posted an amusing video today: The Wiggles: The Last Suárez Supper. The Wiggles are a musical group for children, which makes this all the funnier. Suárez is the World Cup soccer player who bite the other player (Chiellini) on the shoulder.


Diet: I was worried about going back to work, but today was a really good day. In fact, my calorie count was so low (300 breakfast, 300 lunch) that I had to eat a "normal" dinner (I don't want to eat so few calories that my body goes into starvation mode). It was really interesting because I was barely hungry at all. Only because I was late in getting lunch (had to go grocery shopping again) did I have any hunger pains at all today.

Two days until my "official" weekly weigh-in, but I lost another pound and a half. So that puts me at 8.5 pounds in five days. I'm near the point of laughing at myself over worry at needing to lose 10-15 pounds in two months.

I want to keep losing even after I hit the goal. I haven't had any "last meals" yet, and I have two (or three or four) planned, so I want the extra weight loss to cover it. In order of MUST DO:
1) Chinese buffet. I don't go there often, but I love it so, and I'll never go again after the surgery.
2) Sweet and sour (chicken/pork/whatever). The buffet I go to doesn't have that, and it's my favorite Chinese food. It's unlikely I'll ever be able to have this again post-surgery (too sweet).
3) A beef dish from the local Hawaiian place. (Something I may or may not ever have later, some people don't like/tolerate beef after it.)
4) Fried chicken from Popeye's. (Possible to have after.)

Tomorrow will be exactly two months before surgery. (Nervous!) I bought my mother's airline tickets tonight, she'll be staying with me for two weeks to help out.
thistlechaser: (Book with cat 3)
The Flesh Cartel, "books" 10-16 by Rachel Haimowitz and Heidi Belleau
Rating: 2/disliked (1-5/hated-loved)

Before I can talk about the plot or anything else, I have to first address an issue I brought up in my review of the first eight "books" in the series: These "books" are something of a scam. They're about 50-70 pages long each, with more than 20 pages of filler (a multipage "about the author" for each of the two authors, multipage "don't pirate this" warning, multipage sections for review of what happened in each previous books and coming books, etc). So for 30-50 pages of story, you're paying $3.

That not bad enough? As of this post, there are 17 books in this series out. So if you were to buy every one, for about 675 pages of story, you're going to spend $51 (and the series isn't even finished yet).

Stephen King's The Stand has 1,153 pages and sells for $5. A more modern example? His Under the Dome has 897 pages and sells for $8.

Scammy McScam Scam, Rachel Haimowitz and Heidi Belleau?

Okay, I know it's not really a scam, they don't hide the price or the page count, but still. Their pricing scheme is wrong and unfair. I'm sorry to say that I did buy the first three or four books, but the rest I won't read unless I borrow them from someone else. I already gave the authors $9 or $12, so I feel more than covered on payment.

Anyway. The first eleven or so books in the series are basically PWP (Porn, What Plot?). Two brothers get kidnapped by modern day slavers and we see the whole slavery system through their experiences. That sounds more plotty then it is -- there was just enough framework of a story to justify all the adult stuff.

Around book twelve, everything changed. There was a whole book with nearly no sex. As much as I like plot over porn, this wasn't a good shift as the plot was not believable at all. The whole story took a left turn, one of the brothers escaped and met two ~dreamy~ people from the FBI who decided to take down the cartel because the male ~dreamy~ agent was in love with the escaped brother.

The following books, thirteen through sixteen, were all plot about planning to destroy the slavery ring. Next to no sex, and totally unbelievable plot. It felt like a bait and switch -- PWP to gen (fanfic written for general audiences) with no warning.

Worse than the plot being bad, I was annoyed that all the characters we knew were now getting their lives ruined. Some innocent ones (men who had been slaves for nearly their whole lives and were now up there in years and didn't want something else), some not so innocent (the main character slave trainer, though he was still a good guy, as much as that profession allowed.). I guess we were supposed to be happy to see them get their comeuppance, but we had spent all these books getting to know them, so I was more annoyed than anything else to see what would happen to them.

All that being said, I'll read the rest of the books once they're released, but only when I can borrow them from someone else. I'd bet money that I know how the story will end (the brother and the ~dreamy~ FBI agent are going to end up together, even though an evil slaver forced the FBI guy to rape the brother), but I want to see if I'm right and I want to see what will happen to the good guy slaver and non-main character slaves.
thistlechaser: (Book with cat 5)
Salvation by James Wymore
Rating: 2/disliked (1-5/hated-loved)
Book received free for review from Curiosity Quills Press.

I recommend clicking here for a larger image of the cover, because unfortunately the cover was the best thing about Salvation. It's striking, and even after having read the book, it still draws me in.

I wish the book had lived up to its cover. Set in a fantasy world, the humans were at war with intelligent creatures that lived in the sea. Days after a great battle on a riverbank, scavenging villagers found a lone survivor of the battle. They nursed the man back to health, and as he had lost all memory of his life before, settled down to live out his days with them. Unfortunately the undersea creatures had other ideas about that. As the story continued, he regained his memories, and thus his life took on a whole different turn.

That plot seems like it should work, but the problem is that the author's writing skills weren't up to the job. Technically, his writing was very very basic. This sort of thing (not a quote):

Elwood was cold. He got his jacket. He put his jacket on. He was thirsty. He walked to the stream. He dipped a cup in. He drank the water. The water was very cold. It felt good to drink it.

Also, there were multiple spelling issues (things a spellchecker wouldn't catch -- "the goat heard" was used multiple times), and semicolons used incorrectly.

There were a number of unbelievable things happening, like two goats pulled a sled full of four adults for an entire day without falling over, and a couple of goats pulled a sled with two grown men while being chased by the fast undersea creatures and they successfully got away. Also, while I wasn't surprised at what the main character with amnesia turned out to be, I would have liked the story a whole lot more if he hadn't been something so special and unique.

The author did an odd thing: He used "wagged his head" repeatedly instead of "shook his head". I never heard 'wag' used that way, and while a quick googling said it wasn't wrong, it was still very odd. Thinking it might be British English that I hadn't encountered before, I googled him. His About Me page didn't give me an answer on the wag thing, but it did perhaps explain the quality of writing in the book and also made me frown.

1) He said he's published three books and six short stories in a year. Perhaps if he had concentrated more on one book, the quality would have been higher. (It's possible he wrote the books over previous years and only this year published them, but that's not how the About Me page read.)

2) He has a pet wolf (named Kilgore). Wolves are not just dogs for more macho pet owners. They're wild animals, they should not be kept as pets. Hm, I wonder if he even has it legally? Colorado law says:

"Pure wolves require commercial licensing and appropriate carnivore facilities. #1101 (A).
No person shall possess, sell, acquire, purchase, broker, trade, barter or attempt to sell,
acquire, purchase, broker, trade or barter live wildlife unless he first obtains a proper license
as provided in this chapter. All species of wildlife listed on the license must be approved by the
Division; such approval shall not be granted if the proposed wildlife is deemed to be
detrimental to wild native wildlife. The Colorado Division of Wildlife does not regulate
ownership of Wolf Hybrids as they are considered domestic animals."

Anyway, wolf ownership is off the track of this review. I'm afraid I can't recommend Salvation, other than for its spiffy cover.

Edit: Ah, he's also a fan of Orson Scott Card.
thistlechaser: (Book with cat: rainbow)
BZRK by Michael Grant.
Rating: 2/disliked (1-5/hated-loved)

It pains me to give a book by Michael Grant the same rating that I gave Sheepsquatch.

The plot of BZRK (and boy do I hate that title) was about a war. Two sides, one good and one bad, though it wasn't until the end that I even knew which was which (due to the writing, not because it was grey). Hell, I didn't even know the name of the other side until the halfway point of the book.

American Fancy Gift Corporation: The bad guys. Probably the best thing about this book was this dialogue exchange about the name:

"That doesn't sound like an evil organization setting out to dominate the world," Plath said.
"That's the idea," Ophelia said. "If you try telling someone the Armstrong Fancy Gift Corporation is taking over the world, they'll think you're crazy."

BRZK: The good guys. A bunch of teenagers who work for no one, get no pay, no living expenses, no living quarters, yet have access to the highest tech in the world (and for some reason use it to do good).

I'd describe the characters, but not a single one was memorable. I couldn't give a one-sentence description of more than a couple, even after reading the whole book.

The whole war took place through nanobots/on a microscopic level within human bodies. The good guys used biological nanobots while the bad guys used mechanical ones. For some reason when a biological nanobot was killed, it tended to drive its user insane. Don't ask me why the good guys used them over mechanical ones (angst?).

The book's first chapter was great. It started with a Bill Gates-type guy and his son. They were on a plane, when suddenly the pilot crashed them into a packed sports stadium (she had been infected with the bad guys' nanobots). The father and son were killed. The guy's daughter, who had been in the stadium and saw it all happening, survived. She now owned the whole company (think bigger than Microsoft with no shareholders -- she owned 100% of it). Yet somehow, even though she was now so important, she vanished to join BZRK. Oh, not really vanished, she still walked the streets of New York City, she just... walked away from the company? I just couldn't wrap my head around it. There was no mention of anyone on the streets recognizing her, no mention of the stock market crashing, nothing. Her whole background was mostly ignored from the second chapter on.

To call the characters one-note would be generous. Most of them had a one or two word description and that's about it. "Gay, liked to party". "Mother figure." "Enforcer." "Had pimples." One of the bad guys was the only one who had somewhat more characterization, and so unsurprisingly, he was the only one I liked.

The plot was slow, confusing, and had some pretty big holes. The characters were paper cutouts. The only positive thing about this book was the writing. If nothing else, Gone is a really good writer in a technical sense. I mentioned that paragraph a couple posts ago (about how men stare at women, but women only need a glance). There were others like that:

Plath's room looked like a miserable, run-down hotel where a drunk might spend his last days. Keats's room looked not unlike his room at home, except that it could do with an England poster. The rooms were identical.

And: [Her smile] was made of respect and fear and submission.

And: [She was] from one of those other islands where they do cool things to the English language.

Unfortunately, since I (usually) like Gone's books so much, I bought the first three in this series before reading this first one. I'll be deleting them unread. Bzrk was a joyless slog to get through, there's no way I want to continue with the series.

Bonus picture! I commissioned a new icon from [ profile] hamburger. Is this not the cutest thing ever?
thistlechaser: (Moon)
Following the "three things make a post" rule:

- I slept five hours last night. While that's just a drop in the bucket after not sleeping the previous two nights, at least I'm only tired today and not 'oh my god, kill me now' level exhausted. I still hate the machine, it makes me feel like I'm being smothered. Nothing like the feeling of being smothered to help you fall asleep, huh?

It's way too early to know if this is just chance or if it's a Thing, but usually I remember at least one dream a night, and I haven't the past three nights. The first two can be explained by the lack of sleep, but I wonder about last night. To remember a dream, you need to wake up within (some number of minutes, I forget how many) of having it. If the machine makes me sleep sounder/wake up less, I guess I'll stop remembering them. That would be a really big negative side effect; I love remembering my dreams, I often spend much time the next day thinking about them. I guess we'll see.

- Still loving FFXIV. A side effect of that is how much schadenfreude I get from reading WoW news. I had been unhappy there for so long, and I wasn't looking forward to anything about the coming expansion, and I hated the graphics and so much else about the game, now I can sit here and read the news and snicker to myself that I don't have to put up with it anymore. I sure do wish I had quit sooner!

I'm so happy to be getting so much RP on FFXIV. I'm still getting it almost daily (the days I don't RP it's by my choice, not for lack of options). A new fellow just joined our FC ("guild"), and he writes long posts, like me. It's so nice to be able to flex my writing muscles and not feel like I'm making people wait for me.

- It's such a wonderful thing to read a book by a great writer after such a string of bad books. I just started reading BZRK, by Michael Grant (the same fellow who wrote the Gone series that I loved, and wrote all the Animorph books with his wife, along with tons of other YA books from that time). It's not just that his stories are great (they are), or his characters are realistic (so realistic), or he has a GRRMesque willingness to kill off his characters (*cackle*), but his skills at crafting a sentence and describing the world just blow me out of the water. I had to go back and reread this section a number of times (then continued reading the book only to keep flipping back to it).

Even though he was just seventeen, he wasn't really for girls. He was for women.

Women would look at him and let their eyes slide over his face and those shoulders, because you know, women don't stare the way men do. They just need a glance. And then, having memorized him with a glance, they would...

It wasn't until I read that that I remembered there have been studies that confirm just that -- women decide in something like two? three? seconds if they're attracted to another person, much faster than men do. Something about their general body shape (silhouette), the width of their shoulders, that sort of thing.

Unfortunately I accepted a book for review (Salvation, by James Wymore) from a publisher. Bad timing, I'm going to have to read it next instead of continuing on with the BZRK series. Oh well, hopefully Salvation will be good. It has good reviews on Amazon, for what that's worth...

Wow, this turned out to be an actual post! I worried it wouldn't be more than three sentences long. Heh.
thistlechaser: (Cat with book: Yawn)
Sheepsquatch by I. Ronik
Rating: 2/disliked (1-5/hated-loved)
(Book received free for review from Streetlight Graphics Publishing .)

You know, if a book bills itself as being bad, it should be. With a title like Sheepsquatch, I thought this book would have to be amusingly bad. It wasn't. It wasn't even plain-bad (though it wasn't good, either).

A comment on Amazon compared it to one of those bad SyFy movies, which was pretty accurate. Unfortunately, what works for a movie (not caring about the characters because they're all stupid and will be dead soon) doesn't work in a book.

There's not much plot to explain. A Sheepsquatch (or, I suppose to be more exact, a were-sheepsquatch) is loose in the woods and likes to kidnap women. The police are trying to catch it. Unfortunately the chief of police has a fatal flaw: When he saw a dead woman, he had a massive heart attack and died. The book outright said it was because he saw a dead body. (Not grossly killed or gory or anything.) How in the world does one survive as a copy long enough to become chief if he will fall over dead when he sees a dead body? (I know, I know, the book description says "it's best not taken seriously", but how can one read a book without questioning things like that?)

The subtitle was what sold the book to me. "It's ba-aaad." Sheepsquatch. Ba-aad. I'm easily amused.

The writing was surprisingly good. Not like "wow I have to stop reading to admire that sentence!" good, but no typos and no grammar issues. That was a nice change from the books I've been reading lately.

There was one odd issue: There must have been a typo in the file name(?). On the home screen of my Kindle, the book's title shows as Sleepsquatch instead of Sheep.


Speaking of sleep... This five day sleep study is going to be the death of me. I didn't sleep Sunday night, so I came into this already very short on sleep. I got about 45 minutes of sleep last night (30 minutes of that when I took off the stupid machine and tried to get a brief nap in before my alarm went off).

Forget about waterboarding, they should put the Guantanamo detainees on CPAP machines.

For those lucky enough not to know, CPAP machines force air into you while you sleep, to keep you breathing steadily. Your mouth/nose gets covered with a mask, a hose attached to the mask, and air is pushed in at wind tunnel force. I'm not exaggerating, there is real wind coming out of the hose. So yeah, you're trying to sleep with a mask on, if the mask slips at all you get WIND hitting you in the eyes, the mask is attached to a big hose, the hose to a small-ish machine (so don't turn over or it might knock the machine off your bedside stand!). Plus for these first five days I get to be wired up to a finger oxygen/pulse sensor as well.

I'm a light sleeper. Someone walking by on the sidewalk outside my apartment wakes me up. I also can't sleep with the covers even touching my chin, let alone anything covering my mouth. And I'm supposed to be able to sleep with this setup?

I have to do this for four more nights. I've gotten three hours of sleep total in the last two nights, and I doubt I'll get much more while on this damned study. I'm so exhausted now, I think I'll be a danger near the end of the week.

Why am I doing this? The third in a series of miserable sleep studies? Just another damned hoop I have to jump through to get surgery. Sigh.


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April 2017

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