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Book Review: Blood Lite III: Aftertaste edited by Kevin J. Anderson

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 04-08-2012

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Blood Lite III: AftertasteBlood Lite III: After­taste by Kevin J. Ander­son
My rat­ing: 2 of 5 stars

This anthol­o­gy is sup­posed to be humor­ous hor­ror. I have a mes­sage for Kevin J. Ander­son: gross­ness is not near­ly enough for humor. I hope vol­ume two was fun­nier (I haven’t read it yet), but if it was as bad as this one, the series should have been a sin­gle­ton.

The entire rea­son I skipped ahead to vol­ume three is “I Was a Teenage Big­foot” by Jim Butch­er. Hap­pi­ly, it was worth read­ing. There was some humor, as is the case with all of the Dres­den Files fic­tion. It wasn’t the fun­ni­est of Butcher’s sto­ries, but the set­up was good. Still, it’s a Dres­den Files sto­ry, and that’s enough for a 4 out of 5.

I prob­a­bly would have appre­ci­at­ed “Blood Red Greens” by Joel A. Suther­land much more if I played golf. As it is, I skimmed the descrip­tion of the main char­ac­ters’ golf game on the first day of the zom­bie apoc­a­lypse and read for every­thing else. Not bad, not great. I’ll give this one a 3 out of 5, acknowl­edg­ing that I’m not the prime tar­get audi­ence.

“V Plates” by Kel­ley Arm­strong has a clich&eacuted; set­up: Noah is tired of being twit­ted about his vir­gin­i­ty and wants to “fix it,” so Nick agrees to take him to a broth­el. (I thought there were sup­posed to be prob­lems with con­trol where young were­wolves and sex were con­cerned? Maybe I’m con­fus­ing my mytholo­gies.) Any­way, of course it can’t be that easy, so there’s trou­ble. The trou­ble is unfun­ny. This from an expe­ri­enced author work­ing with estab­lished char­ac­ters who have poten­tial? No. 1 out of 5.

Christo­pher Gold­en’s “Put on a Hap­py Face” is about clowns and wish­es. I found absolute­ly noth­ing fun­ny at all in it. In fact, it was hor­rif­ic. It wasn’t bad­ly writ­ten, though, so it gets a 3 out of 5.

“Devil’s Con­tract” by E.S. Mag­ill has been done before. Maybe not in an anthol­o­gy, so I sup­pose per­haps there are non-geeks who haven’t seen it done to death. But I’ve seen vari­a­tions of it for years in var­i­ous forms. Yawn. 2 out of 5.

Eric James Stone’s “Nine Tenths of the Law” was actu­al­ly mem­o­rable enough that I didn’t have to look it up before writ­ing this review. That puts it ahead of the crowd. It wasn’t real­ly fun­ny, though. There’s an iron­ic twist, but it didn’t make me laugh and, in fact, I half expect­ed the end­ing. 2 out of 5.

“Scrump­tious Bone Bread” by Jeff Strand was also mem­o­rable, but that’s just because it was exces­sive­ly gross. It was also one of three sto­ries to make fun of red­necks or coun­try peo­ple, and I have a per­son­al stan­dard of one stereo­typed sto­ry per anthol­o­gy. 1 out of 5.

Mark Onspaugh’s “Let That Be a Les­son to You” was entire­ly for­get­table. I just read the book today, so if I can’t remem­ber it at all, that’s sad. 1 out of 5.

“Mint in Box” by Mike Baron was, on the oth­er hand, mem­o­rable. It remind­ed me of the hor­ror comics I used to bor­row from my old­er cousin, Shan­non. It was a dark, depress­ing cau­tion­ary tale  — or, at least, that’s how I read it. I didn’t see any humor at all. 2 out of 5, because of the humor fail and the exces­sive nas­ti­ness.

J.G. Faher­ty’s “The Great Zom­bie Inva­sion of 1979” was the worst of the anti-coun­try sto­ries. Of course every­body out in the boon­docks is a drunk, trig­ger-hap­py red­neck! Gross, unfun­ny, goes on too long — 1 out of 5.

Stephen Dora­to’s “Dat­ing After the Apoc­a­lypse” fared a bit bet­ter. For one thing, I remem­ber it and I’m not groan­ing. I didn’t ever laugh out loud or any­thing, but I did smile once or twice. That’s about as good as it gets in this col­lec­tion. 3 out of 5.

“Type­cast” by Jeff Ryan intro­duces us to a tru­ly nasty cast­ing direc­tor and her put-upon assis­tant as they go out for a cof­fee break while cast­ing a ser­i­al killer. The cast­ing direc­tor must ruth­less­ly “cast” every­body she sees, reveal­ing much more about her­self than any­one else. I have no trou­ble remem­ber­ing the sto­ry but I didn’t find it very fun­ny. Iron­ic, yes, but irony alone doesn’t cre­ate humor. 2 of 5.

I didn’t even notice Mike Resnick’s name before — odd. Any­way, his and Lezli Robyn’s sto­ry “Mak­ing the Cut” was a breath of fresh air. There was gen­uine, good-natured humor in it. I laughed. 5 out of 5.

“Acknowl­edg­ments” by Will Lud­wigsen is writ­ten as, well, acknowl­edg­ments for a book. It’s more enter­tain­ing than most acknowl­edge­ment sec­tions, but that isn’t say­ing much. 3 out of 5.

Heather Gra­ham’s “Man­nequin” is one I have no trou­ble remem­ber­ing. It was creepy as hell, but total­ly not fun­ny. I don’t know why it was cho­sen for this anthol­o­gy. I can’t give her bet­ter than a 3 out of 5.

“Short Term” by Daniel Pyle is, again, high­ly mem­o­rable. It’s dis­turb­ing and unfun­ny to me. Ser­i­al killers just aren’t fun­ny, even when they do have almost no short-term mem­o­ry any more. 1 out of 5.

Nina Kiri­ki Hoff­man’s “Dis­tressed Trav­el­ers” is based on a high­ly orig­i­nal con­cept. I’d love to see what she did with it in anoth­er con­text. I could actu­al­ly see the humor in this sto­ry, even if I didn’t get any big laughs. It was amus­ing. 4 out of 5.

“Bay­ou Brawl” by L.A. Banks has to take anoth­er poke at red­necks ear­ly on. It isn’t as bad as the oth­er two, at least, but I was sen­si­tized by the time I got to this sto­ry. Then it moves on and seems to be a poor excuse for set­ting up a love tri­an­gle between a human woman, a male were­wolf, and a male vam­pire. Ani­ta Blake’s been there and done that a few dozen times now, Banks — there’s no shock val­ue in it any more. There wasn’t much humor in it unless you look at it on a meta-lev­el (UFO ver­sus ter­res­tri­al spook­ies) and even though — blah. 2 out of 5.

John Alfred Tay­lor’s “The Steeple Peo­ple” gives us demons sell­ing steeples with res­i­dent imps. Okay, that’s a lit­tle bit fun­ny (to an irre­li­gious per­son, any­way). The sto­ry didn’t live up to the set­up, though. 3 out of 5.

“For Sale” by David Sak­mys­ter is couched as a real estate fly­er. I don’t think I’ve seen any­thing done quite like that before, but the prop­er­ty itself is a clicé. I’ll give Sak­mys­ter 3 out of 5 for effort and orig­i­nal­i­ty.

Nor­man Pren­tiss’s “The Man Who Could Not Be Both­ered to Die” was just gross. At least he avoid­ed World of War­craft jokes, but oth­er­wise, there wasn’t any rea­son giv­en for the main char­ac­ter to avoid dying and with­out one, I couldn’t believe it. 2 out of 5.

“The Last Demon” by Don D’Ammassa was actu­al­ly some­what cute. Oger­ak the Off-putting escapes Hell and doesn’t find the mor­tal realms incred­i­bly wel­com­ing. 4 out of 5.

Adri­an Ludens’ “Choose Your Own” is based on those “Choose Your Own…” sto­ries that were appar­ent­ly pop­u­lar at one time (I missed out on them). You don’t actu­al­ly chose your own path in the sto­ry, but the choic­es are there and it’s obvi­ous which ones the main char­ac­ter made. I didn’t find it fun­ny, but at least I cared what was hap­pen­ing, which is more than I can say for many of the sto­ries in this col­lec­tion. 3 out of 5.

“Smoke and Mir­ror­balls” by Chris Abbey is a par­o­dy of Danc­ing With the Stars, with Drac­u­la, Van Hels­ing, The Mum­my, and the like thrown in as con­tes­tants. It was mild­ly enter­tain­ing at the end, although the gra­tu­itous gore wasn’t fun­ny. 3 out of 5.

D.L. Snell’s “BRIANS!” takes a good swipe at Twi­light as well as self-pub­lished authors. It was macabre yet fun­nier than most of the rest of the book. 4 out of 5.

“Still Life” by Ken Lil­lie-Paetz had too much set-up for a failed punch­line. 1 out of 5.

Sher­ri­lyn Keny­on’s “A Day in the Life” gives us an edi­tor unre­al­is­ti­cal­ly cel­e­brat­ing the death of her biggest-sell­ing author. I don’t care how dif­fi­cult the author was, there’s just no way the edi­tor would be cel­e­brat­ing the death of the author who made her career. There wasn’t any fun­ny in it, but the failed sus­pen­sion-of-belief check ruined the sto­ry any­way. 1 out of 5.

“Old Mac­Don­ald Had an Ani­mal Farm” by Lisa Mor­ton intro­duces us to an idiot. That’s the only way I can describe the main char­ac­ter. Okay, char­ac­ters in sto­ries make mis­takes because that dri­ves the plot. But there wasn’t any humor in his mis­takes, nor in the rest of the plot. It was all dark and depress­ing. 1 out of 5.

Brad C. Hod­son’s “Two for Tran­syl­va­nia” starts off okay, with Drac­u­la and Van Hels­ing team­ing up togeth­er to scam vil­lagers. It’s a sil­ly idea, but you go with it. It would make a decent skit. 3 out of 5.

“The Four Horse­men Reunion Tour: An Apoc­u­men­tary” by Lucien Soul­ban wasn’t par­tic­u­lar­ly fun­ny or macabre or any­thing else. Of course, I find most rock­u­men­taries some­what bor­ing, and it seemed like a good send-up of them, so it has that going for it. I’ll give it a 3 out of 5 for that alone.

Over­all, I wouldn’t have read it if I weren’t deter­mined to fin­ish and review it. The things I do for you peo­ple! I cer­tain­ly won’t be read­ing it again.

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Book Review: Down These Strange Streets edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner R. Dozois

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 02-08-2012

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Down These Strange StreetsDown These Strange Streets by George R.R. Mar­tin
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

This anthol­o­gy gath­ers sto­ries from authors who nor­mal­ly write in var­i­ous gen­res. The com­mon­al­i­ty is that each sto­ry is a mys­tery, and there’s a fan­tas­tic twist to each. Martin’s intro­duc­tion calls such sto­ries the “bas­tard stepchild” of mys­tery and hor­ror.

Char­laine Har­ris’ “Death by Dahlia,” set in the Sook­ie Stack­house uni­verse, is one of a series of sto­ries about the vam­pire Dahlia Lyn­ley-Chivers. Each sto­ry stands alone, but my enjoy­ment grows greater with each addi­tion to her tales. I’d much rather see Dahlia as the main char­ac­ter of a nov­el than Sook­ie, to be hon­est. This sto­ry, set at the par­ty for the ascen­sion of a new vam­pire sher­rif, was a lit­tle gem, and a nice start to the col­lec­tion.

“The Bleed­ing Shad­ow” by Joe R. Lans­dale is grit­ti­er from start to fin­ish, set in the south of black folks in the 1950s. A beau­ti­ful woman sends her some­time-suit­or to find her broth­er, a blues musi­cian who has got­ten into music that isn’t of this world. I couldn’t be done with this one soon enough, as it gave me the willies. I have a feel­ing Lans­dale would be hap­py that it stuck with me for a while.

Simon R. Green’s “Hun­gry Heart” takes us to the Night­side, where John Tay­lor is hired by a young witch to retrieve her stolen heart. I haven’t read any of the Night­side nov­els, but this is prob­a­bly the third or fourth short sto­ry I’ve read, and for some rea­son they nev­er leave me want­i­ng more. I don’t hunger for the dark­ness, I guess. I will give Green points for cre­ativ­i­ty in evil hench­men, though.

“Styx and Stones” by Steven Say­lor takes a teenage ver­sion of his nov­el hero Gor­dianus on a world tour to see the Sev­en Won­ders of the World, and this stop is Baby­lon. Gor­dianus and his com­pan­ion, Antipa­ter, find a mur­der­ous ghost in res­i­dence near their inn in addi­tion to see­ing the Zig­gu­rat, the Gate of Ishtar, and what’s left of the Hang­ing Gar­dens.

S. M. Stir­ling’s “Pain and Suf­fer­ing” was unsat­is­fy­ing to me. It opened with an ex-soldier’s com­bat flash­back twist­ed into some­thing Oth­er, then we learn that the ex-sol­dier is a cop. He and his part­ner spend a lot of time inves­ti­gat­ing an appar­ent arson and pos­si­bly-con­nect­ed kid­nap­ping. The flash­backs repeat. There’s more, but I don’t want to spoil the sto­ry. I just felt that there was a lot of build-up for very lit­tle pay­off, and that per­haps this sto­ry was meant as a teas­er for a nov­el in which con­text it would all make far more sense.

“It’s Still the Same Old Sto­ry’ by Car­rie Vaughn fea­tures vam­pire Rick, from the Kit­ty Norville books. An old friend calls him need­ing his help, but by the time he gets to her, she’s dead. Most of the sto­ry is told in flash­back, with him remem­ber­ing when he orig­i­nal­ly met the now-old-woman, when they were lovers for a time. The mur­der is no great mys­tery for very long. The sto­ry felt more rote than any­thing else, as if per­haps Vaughn want­ed to human­ize Rick a bit by show­ing that he had cared for this woman at one time. I didn’t feel much of any­thing from it.

One of the more cre­ative pieces, “The Lady is a Scream­er” by Conn Iggulden, is told in first per­son by a con man turned ghost­buster. I didn’t like it, pre­cise­ly, and i cer­tain­ly didn’t like the nar­ra­tor. It stands alone, though, and doesn’t feel deriv­a­tive at all, so that says some­thing all by itself.

“Hell­ben­der” by Lau­rie R. King is prob­a­bly the only sto­ry that left me deter­mined to hunt down more of the author’s work. I would clas­si­fy it as near-future sci­ence fic­tion, but it cer­tain­ly fits in the noir detec­tive genre as well. I have no hes­i­ta­tion giv­ing this one sto­ry five out of five stars.

“Shad­ow Thieves” is a Gar­rett, P.I. sto­ry by Glen Cook. That’s anoth­er series I haven’t read, but I believe this is the first time I’ve read a short sto­ry set in that world. I wouldn’t mind read­ing the series if the nov­els are all light-heart­ed like this sto­ry. There was some dark­ness, obvi­ous­ly, or the piece wouldn’t be in this anthol­o­gy — but over­all, there was humor.

Melin­da M. Snod­grass’ “No Mys­tery, No Mir­a­cle” is prob­a­bly the most con­tro­ver­sial sto­ry in the book if any­body is real­ly pay­ing atten­tion. I found it intrigu­ing and well-writ­ten.

“The Dif­fer­ence Between a Puz­zle and a Mys­tery” by M.L.N. Hanover takes us a big city, where an over­worked cop is try­ing to get a con­fes­sion out of a sup­pos­ed­ly demon-pos­sessed killer. He gets help from an unusu­al min­is­ter (Uni­tar­i­an, we’re told — not some­thing that will thrill any UUs out there). I found this one of the most chill­ing sto­ries in the book. Telling you why, how­ev­er, would be a spoil­er.

I would love to see a nov­el fea­tur­ing the main char­ac­ters of Lisa Tut­tle’s “The Curi­ous Affair of the Deo­dand” — a young woman in the Wat­son role and a young man as a Sher­lock Holmes-type con­sult­ing detec­tive. The young lady is every bit as vital to resolv­ing the case as the man is, which is one of the things I enjoyed about the sto­ry. The res­o­lu­tion isn’t as sat­is­fy­ing as it could be, though, which is one of the rea­sons I’d like to see the same char­ac­ters in oth­er cir­cum­stances.

“Lord John and the Plague of Zom­bies” by Diana Gabal­don is a Lord John Grey sto­ry. This is, I believe, the first thing I’ve read by Gabal­don. It wasn’t bad and it wasn’t earth-shak­ing­ly good. It was decent­ly-plot­ted with pre­dictable char­ac­ters and a nice lit­tle twist at the end, so enjoy­able to read. I won’t avoid her work but I’m not burn­ing to read more, either.

“Beware the Snake” is an SPQR sto­ry by John Mad­dox Roberts. Once again, I’m unfa­mil­iar with the author and the series, but the sto­ry gave enough con­text for me to under­stand the set­ting and the char­ac­ters, so that was all right. It was enjoy­able, although I prob­a­bly would have twigged to a cou­ple of things more quick­ly were I more famil­iar with Roman nam­ing cus­toms.

Patri­cia Brig­gs’ “In Red, With Pearls” is set in Mer­cedes Thompson’s world but fea­tur­ing were­wolf War­ren Smith and his lover Kyle. Kyle is set upon by a zom­bie assas­sin who is thwart­ed by War­ren, but of course War­ren wants to know who sent the zom­bie, why, and who made the zom­bie. It’s a very good sto­ry, as I’ve come to expect from Brig­gs. I had a bit of a hard time keep­ing up with some of the sec­ondary char­ac­ters in the sto­ry, but then I was dis­tract­ed at the time.

“The Adakian Eagle” by Bradley Den­ton is a Dashiell Ham­mett sto­ry — as in, Ham­mett is a char­ac­ter. That was inter­est­ing alone, but the sto­ry in gen­er­al was well-told. Spare and hard, as befits one of the main char­ac­ters.

All in all this is a col­lec­tion that I can def­i­nite­ly rec­om­mend. There are very few clunk­ers are sev­er­al excel­lent sto­ries. George R.R. Mar­tin and Gard­ner R. Dozois did their jobs very well.

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Book Review: Entangled edited by Edie Ramer

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 29-07-2012

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EntangledEntan­gled by Edie Ramer
My rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this anthol­o­gy up because all pro­ceeds go to the Breast Can­cer Research Foun­da­tion, which is a won­der­ful cause. Many of the authors’ lives have been touched by can­cer in one way or anoth­er, some first-hand. The vol­ume is Hal­loween-themed, as well.

I don’t believe I’ve read any­thing but short sto­ries by any of these authors in the past except for Jen­nifer Estep, and I haven’t read the Mythos Acad­e­my series in which her sto­ry is set. I’m more like­ly to read it now than I was before.

“Hal­loween Frost” by Estep and “Ghost­ly Jus­tice” by Alli­son Bren­nan (set in her Sev­en Dead­ly Sins series) were the most pol­ished sto­ries in the anthol­o­gy. Too many of the oth­ers had plot holes, or felt like teasers to get a read­er to pur­sue more of the author’s work. A short sto­ry should be self-con­tained.

Some of the authors let the “romance” get in the way of the plot­ting. If the main char­ac­ter acts like an idiot because she’s dis­tract­ed by the bulge in a man’s pants, why make her the main char­ac­ter of a sto­ry? Espe­cial­ly if, as in “Sin­ful­ly Sweet” by Michelle Miles, you fail to resolve the major plot issue you raise?

While I admire the cause for which these ladies are writ­ing, I can’t help but think a short­er, high­er-qual­i­ty anthol­o­gy might have been a bet­ter bet.

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Book Review: Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 27-07-2012

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Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse, #11)Dead Reck­on­ing by Char­laine Har­ris
My rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars

For fluff, it’s got some real­ly dark scenes. It doesn’t have enough of a plot to be any­thing more than fluff, though. It absolute­ly does NOT stand alone, so don’t con­sid­er read­ing this book unless you’ve read all that went before it — you’ll be hope­less­ly lost.

Sook­ie has changed so much over the course of this series that she is hav­ing trou­ble rec­og­niz­ing her­self, and is trou­bled over it, with good rea­son. Hav­ing a main char­ac­ter change is good, and I’ll say that some of that change is growth, but I can’t say it’s all growth, or all to the good. (Can any of us say that, though, about the changes we go through in our lives?)

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Book Review: Tricked by Kevin Hearne

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 26-07-2012

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Tricked (Iron Druid Chronicles, #4)Tricked by Kevin Hearne
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

That was so good. Just so very good. Like the last three — well plot­ted, with good char­ac­ter devel­op­ment from a fas­ci­nat­ing cast of char­ac­ters. This time most of the mythol­o­gy is Native Amer­i­can (specif­i­cal­ly Nava­jo) instead of Norse or Celtic, but there’s a lit­tle spice from oth­er tra­di­tions thrown in as well. And as before, there are always con­se­quences get­ting involved, even in good caus­es. I think that’s one of the biggest ways this series reminds me of the Dres­den Files by Jim Butch­er.

I am absolute­ly going to be on ten­ter­hooks until Trapped is released!

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Book Review: Hammered by Kevin Hearne

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 24-07-2012

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Hammered (Iron Druid Chronicles, #3)Ham­mered by Kevin Hearne
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. This book has a non-stop pace, for rea­sons that will be obvi­ous to the read­er but can­not be explained to oth­ers with­out spoil­ers. I’ll just say “clear your cal­en­dar” because you’ll not find ANY good stop­ping places.

One of the things that tru­ly impress­es me is that Kevin Hearne doesn’t just show his char­ac­ters doing amaz­ing things, but shows them expe­ri­enc­ing the con­se­quences of their actions — some expect­ed, some total­ly unex­pect­ed. I tru­ly enjoy his views of arche­types and myth, espe­cial­ly com­ing from a char­ac­ter who walks around speak­ing to gods, hav­ing a beer with Jesus and throw­ing down with Thor.

I’m so glad that I have Tricked on hand, but I wish Trapped were out already! At least I have the extra A Test of Met­tle to read, too. I just can’t get enough of Atti­cus.

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Book Review: Places to Be, People to Kill edited by Brittiany A. Koren & Martin H. Greenberg

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 23-07-2012

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Places To Be, People To KillPlaces To Be, Peo­ple To Kill by Brit­tiany A. Koren
My rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this anthol­o­gy more than one might expect from a col­lec­tion of sto­ries about killers, but then I’ve read a cou­ple of vol­umes edit­ed by Brit­tiany A. Koren and Mar­tin H. Green­berg now, and I trust the pair. (Green­berg has turned out so many antholo­gies that I don’t assume any­thing at all when I see his name.)

I had to explain to my fam­i­ly why I kept laugh­ing while read­ing “Exact­ly” by Tanya Huff. I’m a long-time fan of her work, so was already famil­iar with sib­ling assas­sins Vree and Ban­non from Fifth Quar­ter and No Quar­ter. While all of Huff’s work includes some humor, this sto­ry is par­tic­u­lar­ly fun­ny.

“Breia’s Dia­mond” by Cat Collins was a mem­o­rable low in the book. In addi­tion to the inap­pro­pri­ate and inept use of romance clichés, it’s all too obvi­ous ear­ly on that the mer­ce­nar­ies are being paid far too much for too lit­tle work by the necro­mancer. That isn’t fore­shad­ow­ing, it’s fore­shout­ing — or just plain stu­pid­i­ty on the part of the mer­ce­nar­ies. They are mur­der­ers for hire, noth­ing else, and I’ve nev­er felt any sym­pa­thy for such. Why would I start now, sim­ply because a sto­ry is told from their point of view?

Bradley H. Sinor’s “Money’s Worth” has the feel of some­thing excerpt­ed from a larg­er work. It’s good and I enjoyed it, but I think I would have enjoyed it far more in its prop­er con­text.

The only oth­er sto­ry that is mem­o­rable enough to sin­gle out is “The Hun­dredth Kill” by John Mar­co. It is a love­ly jew­el of a sto­ry, one that stands for itself, leav­ing lit­tle to be said oth­er than “read it.” I don’t believe that I’ve read any of Marco’s nov­els, but obvi­ous­ly I’ve missed out on some­thing very good. I intend to rem­e­dy that omis­sion short­ly.

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Book Review: Hounded by Kevin Hearne

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 22-07-2012

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Hounded (Iron Druid Chronicles, #1)Hound­ed by Kevin Hearne
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

I just can’t say enough good things about this book. It’s well-plot­ted. There’s an excel­lent cast of char­ac­ters, and they devel­op in inter­est­ing ways. The world-build­ing is won­der­ful­ly rich.

I have the same incred­i­ble, bub­bly feel­ing that I did when read­ing the very first Dres­den Files nov­el by Jim Butch­er – gimme more! For­tu­nate­ly, there are already three more books avail­able in the series (Hexed, Ham­mered and Tricked) with a fifth (Trapped) on the way.

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Review: Fifty Shades of Grey

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 18-07-2012

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Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1)Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
My rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars

I didn’t intend to read this book, as I’d large­ly heard snark about it. A dear friend rec­om­mend­ed it, though, so I final­ly gave it a read.

The writ­ing def­i­nite­ly needs pol­ish and a good edi­tor – I couldn’t pos­si­bly give it more than 3 stars due to that alone. The sexy is there, though, and that’s the whole pur­pose of the book. It does fol­low most of the tra­di­tion­al romance tropes, which explains most of its accep­tance, but the addi­tion of spici­er sex seems to be what has every­one talk­ing. (I’d call it spicy more than tru­ly kinky.)

The entire plot takes place in just three weeks, which isn’t bad in the romance world. That doesn’t leave much time for char­ac­ter growth, but there is a lit­tle. That brings the book up a star from where I’d put most romance nov­els.

If you want some light, sexy sum­mer read­ing and don’t mind the fact that this is so very obvi­ous­ly a self-pub­lished first nov­el, go for it. Some peo­ple will want to read it just because of all the uproar, I imag­ine. If you’re look­ing for lit­er­a­ture or true erot­i­ca, pass this one up.

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Book Review: JavaScript in Easy Steps

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 17-07-2012

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JavaScript in Easy StepsJavaScript in Easy Steps by Mike McGrath
My rat­ing: 1 of 5 stars

This book isn’t worth the paper on which it’s print­ed, unless you’re already a devel­op­er. If you aren’t, don’t both­er. McGrath intro­duces con­cepts with lit­tle to no expla­na­tion, tells you to type some­thing in, says it should do X, then moves on to the next thing. An aver­age of two pages per con­cept, with the code descrip­tions.

He doesn’t address best prac­tices (at least, not a quar­ter of the way through the book). He always puts the scripts in the head of the doc­u­ment, which is (accord­ing to oth­ers I’ve been learn­ing from) a bad idea unless there’s a good rea­son for it.

Along with all that, there’s sup­posed to be a web site that goes with the book, where you can down­load the sam­ple code. There’s no men­tion of the fact that the site is only acces­si­ble to those in the U.K. Why do that, then mar­ket the book in North Amer­i­ca?

I think it deserves no stars, but GoodReads won’t let me do that.

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