Review: How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital AgeHow to Win Friends and Influ­ence Peo­ple in the Dig­i­tal Age by Dale Carnegie
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

I was a teenager when my father rec­om­mend­ed Mr. Carnegie’s orig­i­nal book to me, and at 48 I final­ly got around to read­ing this ver­sion. I’m glad that I did, as it was well worth the time. I would rec­om­mend this book to absolute­ly any­one who deals with oth­er humans in any capac­i­ty at all. And yes, I’ll be sug­gest­ing it to my own daugh­ter right away.

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Review: Attack the Geek by Michael R. Underwood

Attack the Geek (Ree Reyes, #2.5)Attack the Geek by Michael R. Under­wood
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

Excuse me, but SQUEE! More Ree Reyes! More Drake! More East­wood and Grog­nard! Yes, more Geeko­man­cy!

Michael Under­wood is back with a delight­ful novel­la and if I have ANY com­plaints, it’s that this is a novel­la instead of a nov­el. That’s just because I am a greedy fan­girl read­er. The sto­ry itself is ful­ly devel­oped, and the novel­la is exact­ly the right for­mat for it. 

Attack the Geek def­i­nite­ly isn’t the place to start in the series, as it relies on pre­vi­ous knowl­edge of the char­ac­ters and the uni­verse, but if you’ve read the pre­vi­ous nov­els, you will NOT want to miss this install­ment when it is released on April 9.

Now I’m left hun­gry for Ree Reyes #3, though!

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Review: Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and SexBonk: The Curi­ous Cou­pling of Sci­ence and Sex by Mary Roach
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

Fas­ci­nat­ing stuff! Vast amounts of sheer geek­ery about sex, sci­ence, and the inter­sec­tion there­of. If you’re look­ing for sex tips or sala­cious read­ing, look else­where. If you’re look­ing to howl with laugh­ter with­out being able to explain WHY to most peo­ple, this is your book.

Okay, one might glean the occa­sion­al sex tip, but I don’t think they’re any­thing that com­mon sense couldn’t tell you. And you’ll have to wait for the very last chap­ter for the best bit.

I’ll be adding more of Roach’s diverse works to my to-be-read stack soon!

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Review: Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino

Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open RelationshipsOpen­ing Up: A Guide to Cre­at­ing and Sus­tain­ing Open Rela­tion­ships by Tris­tan Taormi­no
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

I have to be hon­est. When I ini­tial­ly heard about Open­ing Up by Tris­tan Taormi­no, it was in asso­ci­a­tion with some­one I can’t stand, and I child­ish­ly let that asso­ci­a­tion col­or my impres­sion of the book. I didn’t real­ly con­sid­er read­ing it. I final­ly got around to read­ing (okay, lis­ten­ing to) it this past week, and I’m sor­ry I didn’t do so soon­er. It’s so good that I’m con­sid­er­ing pur­chas­ing a print copy to have on hand in my lend­ing library, and may­be even an ebook copy so that I might eas­i­ly ref­er­ence pas­sages from time to time. 

None of the infor­ma­tion is new to me, exact­ly, but it is put togeth­er very well. The sec­tions on issues to consider/​issues that might arise in each style of respon­si­ble non-monogamy were espe­cial­ly appre­ci­at­ed. I was dis­ap­point­ed that there isn’t a sec­tion in her web site for read­ers, but per­haps the print copy has repro­ducible check­lists.

The chap­ter on STIs was very good, although I think that a list of speci­fic STIs for which non-monog­a­mous peo­ple should request test­ing would have been help­ful.

In any case, I do rec­om­mend this book. It’s replac­ing Love With­out Lim­its as my go-to rec­om­men­da­tion for new poly­folk to read.

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Review: Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo by Vanessa Woods

Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the CongoBonobo Hand­shake: A Mem­oir of Love and Adven­ture in the Con­go by Vanes­sa Woods
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

I near­ly put this book down after the first chap­ter, because I want­ed to learn about Bono­bos, not atroc­i­ties in the Con­go. I stuck with it because it was the most inter­est­ing of the audio­books that were already on my phone when I was mak­ing a long dri­ve, and I got halfway through it dur­ing that dri­ve. I was hooked by then, and need­ed to know what hap­pened to the­se par­tic­u­lar Bono­bos and the humans around them. 

Now, I still don’t feel that I need­ed the explic­it descrip­tions of vio­lence. I could have under­stood what was going on with­out that. But then, I’m par­tic­u­lar­ly sen­si­tive to such things, and I did already have a pret­ty good idea of what was going on in that part of the world. I sup­pose some read­ers may have need­ed those descrip­tions to “get it.”

I real­ly loved the rela­tion­ships that devel­oped between Woods and the var­i­ous Bono­bos, and how her net­work of friends and fam­i­ly grew over time. I am envi­ous of the con­nec­tion she has with her hus­band, Bri­an Hare. The infor­ma­tion shared about the exper­i­ments is tru­ly fas­ci­nat­ing, and the competition/coöperation the­me that runs through the book is vital to under­stand­ing not just chim­panzees and Bono­bos, but humans.

I was lis­ten­ing to the book in the car the oth­er day, and heard the fol­low­ing at the end of chap­ter 34. It caused me to cry.
“If there are those you love, who­ev­er or wherever you are, hold them. Find them and hold them as tight­ly as you can. Resist their squirm­ing and impa­tience and uncom­fort­able laugh­ter, and just feel their heart throb­bing again­st yours. Give thanks that for this moment, for this one pre­cious moment, they are here, they are with you, and they know they are utter­ly, com­plete­ly, entire­ly loved.”

All in all, yes, I rec­om­mend the book. Just be warned about those descrip­tions, and if you choose the audio­book ver­sion, don’t lis­ten with lit­tle ones around.

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Belated Windows 8 Review

I’ve told a few peo­ple that I don’t real­ly see any advan­tage to Win­dows 8 over Win­dows 7. I have to eat my words now.

Before I put Win­dows 8 on my four-year-old HP lap­top, I checked with HP to make sure that it was 8-com­pat­i­ble, and they said it was. AFTER I did the upgrade, I learned that they aren’t putting any Win­dows 8 dri­vers out for it! So some of the hard­ware func­tions don’t work prop­er­ly. The hard­ware man­u­fac­tur­ers say, “We only deal with HP, go to them.” Now, I was dual boot­ing with 7 any­way, but hadn’t actu­al­ly boot­ed into 7 on the sys­tem until this week. And dang, it’s slow in com­par­ison, even with the prop­er dri­vers. I thought that may­be dual boot­ing was part­ly to blame — not like­ly, but may­be.

Because of issues with my employer’s soft­ware, I’ve decid­ed to ded­i­cate the lap­top as a work-only com­put­er, and that means it has to run Win­dows 7. I’m fin­ish­ing up a clean install of 7, then I’ll image it, and every time the work stuff caus­es a prob­lem, I can recov­er and move on quick­ly. Any­way — I was right. Before I blew away the 8 par­ti­tion (recent­ly upgrad­ed to 8.1), I timed how long it took to boot. And I just timed the boot on the clean 7 install. Even though I had been using 8 for may­be six months, with­out all the prop­er dri­vers, it boots three times as quick­ly as 7. (Both OSs are Pro-64 bit ver­sions.) For what it’s worth, I am boot­ing from an SSD with both — that, of course, makes more of a dif­fer­ence than ANY oth­er upgrade.

So yes, Win­dows 8 IS a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence on a sys­tem that can han­dle it. I haven’t found any­thing that I can’t do com­pared to Win­dows 7 (except access my employer’s VPN, and that’s due to their restric­tions). I do find the lack of the start menu to be a nui­sance, but it’s eas­i­ly fixed with the addi­tion of Clas­sic Shell or one of the many oth­er util­i­ties designed to fix that prob­lem. I am told that 8 does not play well with vir­tu­al machi­nes, if that’s impor­tant to you.

I don’t have a touch screen and haven’t missed it. I nev­er use the Metro inter­face for any­thing, and I’m whol­ly unim­pressed with the native Win8 appli­ca­tions. I don’t like the app store. I don’t need my com­put­er to be like a phone or tablet, but it seems that’s where things are con­verg­ing.

Big Surprise — Rich Guys Say Rich People Are All-Around Better Than Poor People!

A friend, Kather­ine Shec­o­ra, post­ed a link to an arti­cle on Dave Ramsay’s site about 20 Things the Rich Do Every Day along with her own excel­lent com­men­tary. I start­ed to com­ment on her post, but my remarks got so long that Face­book wouldn’t let me post the com­ment. Then I was going to write my own Face­book post, but as I was doing it, I real­ize that it has been far too long since I post­ed any­thing to my own blog, and this would real­ly be bet­ter here any­way.

Let me just say right up front that I’ve nev­er liked Dave Ram­say. I think he’s a self-right­eous ass­hat. I know that lots of peo­ple swear by him, but I think his meth­ods are too sim­plis­tic and dis­miss many of the bar­ri­ers to suc­cess that peo­ple who are tru­ly poor or in abu­sive sit­u­a­tions have to deal with, not to men­tion those with chron­ic ill­ness­es and oth­er issues.

So — on with the­se sup­posed habits of the rich. I have some ques­tions regard­ing Ramsay’s claims. Where did he get the­se fig­ures? What sort of method­ol­o­gy was used? How many peo­ple were sur­veyed, by whom, and what are the cre­den­tials of the peo­ple doing the study? What is con­sid­ered “wealthy” and “poor” for the pur­pos­es of this study? Where is this study pub­lished? Is it peer-reviewed?

Ah — Ram­say got his infor­ma­tion from anoth­er “guru” mak­ing a liv­ing sell­ing advice on how to get rich, Tom Cor­ley. I didn’t find wherever it is that Cor­ley makes all the claims that Ram­say cites, but I found SOME of them, thanks to some­one else’s blog post. It’s pos­si­ble that the rest of the claims are in Corley’s book, and I’m cer­tain­ly not about to buy it to find out. Cor­ley talks about “sta­tis­ti­cal data” and says, ” I spent five years study­ing the dai­ly habits of over 200 wealthy peo­ple and over 100 poor peo­ple. I tracked over 200 activ­i­ties that sep­a­rate the wealthy from the poor.” The study sup­pos­ed­ly result­ed in his book, Rich Habits — The Dai­ly Suc­cess Habits of Wealthy Indi­vid­u­als.

So no, there’s no peer-reviewed data here. And he isn’t a sci­en­tist of any sort, nor does he have any train­ing in doing soci­o­log­i­cal research. He’s a CPA. He doesn’t give any infor­ma­tion that I could find on his method­ol­o­gy or def­i­n­i­tions. Very slop­py. There were a total of approx­i­mate­ly 300 peo­ple involved in the study, but it doesn’t say that they were all involved for five years — just that he was doing his “research” (I use that term loose­ly) for five years.

So, let’s get on with the­se habits that sup­pos­ed­ly set the rich apart from the poor!

  1. “70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calo­ries per day. 97% of poor peo­ple eat more than 300 junk food calo­ries per day. 23% of wealthy gam­ble. 52% of poor peo­ple gam­ble.”
    How is “junk food” defined here? Con­ve­nience foods? Fast food? Any­thing oth­er than the sort of organ­ic, gluten-free, free range, non-GMO stuff you have to go to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s to buy for mucho dinero, then have the knowl­edge, resources, and time to pre­pare? (That’s assum­ing you can GET to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, since they aren’t in poor neigh­bor­hoods.) If you haven’t already done so, please go read Lin­da Tirado’s won­der­ful arti­cle, This Is Why Poor People’s Bad Deci­sions Make Per­fect Sense. And let’s be hon­est here — by “gam­bling” we’re talk­ing “buy­ing lot­tery tick­ets” right? The only peo­ple I know who buy those reg­u­lar­ly are at least mid­dle class, but I don’t go around ask­ing peo­ple about their gam­bling habits, to be hon­est. The one per­son I know who had an online gam­bling addic­tion would have been upper mid­dle class. Poor peo­ple don’t usu­al­ly have com­put­ers and inter­net access, and there aren’t that many legal ways to gam­ble in most of the coun­try.
  2. “80% of wealthy are focused on accom­plish­ing some sin­gle goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.”
    What con­sti­tutes a “sin­gle goal” here? Sur­vival, as Kather­ine point­ed out? Get­ting your kids raised safe­ly? How about keep­ing a roof over your head, or keep­ing your job so you can do that? I guess the only things that count as “goals” by the­se guys’ stan­dards are things like “make part­ner with­in X years” or “buy a vaca­tion home”?
  3. “76% of wealthy exer­cise aer­o­bi­cal­ly four days a week. 23% of poor do this.”
    The tru­ly “wealthy” don’t have to work, so of course they have time to do aer­o­bic exer­cise four times a week! They can afford per­son­al train­ers, too, not to men­tion gym mem­ber­ships. Far more of the “poor” have phys­i­cal­ly demand­ing jobs, have to spend extra time get­ting to and from work because they don’t own their own vehi­cles, work more than one job, can’t afford ANY extra child­care in order to spend time at a gym IF they could afford a gym mem­ber­ship, and cer­tain­ly can’t afford per­son­al train­ers!
  4. “63% of wealthy lis­ten to audio books dur­ing com­mute to work vs. 5% of poor peo­ple.”
    Audi­ble is great! But how many of the poor can afford audio­books? Bor­row them from the library, you say. Well, more and more library branch­es are being closed every­where — it isn’t as if libraries were the high­est pri­or­i­ty in most coun­ty bud­gets in the first place. Branch­es in poor areas are often closed first. Even when they aren’t closed out­right, their acqui­si­tion bud­gets are sliced to rib­bons. But let’s say our poor peo­ple are able to get access to a library that has audio­books avail­able. Okay, SOME of them have smart­phones on which they could lis­ten to audio­books, if the books are the right kind — I don’t know about your library, but mine has a lot more of the old­er books on CD than Over­drive audio­books that you can down­load to a smart­phone. If you don’t have your own car, you can’t lis­ten to those so eas­i­ly. If you don’t have your own com­put­er and tech­ni­cal know-how, you can’t rip them for lis­ten­ing on your phone (of course, doing that is of ques­tion­able legal­i­ty any­way). That’s assum­ing you have a smart­phone or oth­er mobile device on which you can lis­ten dur­ing a com­mute. Some peo­ple don’t have them, par­tic­u­lar­ly poor peo­ple.
  5. “81% of wealthy main­tain a to-do list vs. 19% of poor.”
    I call bull­shit on this one. Seri­ous­ly? I’m just not believ­ing it. To-do lists, gro­cery lists, chore lists, you name it — I know plen­ty of peo­ple who cer­tain­ly aren’t WEALTHY who make lists ALL the time. Does it only count if they’re on dead trees or some­thing?
  6. “63% of wealthy par­ents make their chil­dren read two or more non-fic­tion books a mon­th vs. 3% of poor.”
    See above regard­ing libraries. Also — HA! I want to see proof that the­se rich kids actu­al­ly READ two non-fic­tion books a mon­th. Is this stuff actu­al­ly required by their pri­vate schools? I am a BIG fan of read­ing, and the encour­ag­ing there­of, but I don’t think any­body can effec­tive­ly “make” kids read any­thing and have it do any good.
  7. “70% of wealthy par­ents make their chil­dren vol­un­teer 10 hours or more a mon­th vs. 3% of poor.”
    I’m call­ing bull­shit again. Was there any proof of this sup­posed vol­un­teer work? Was it time spent at church, or some sort of actu­al ser­vice to the com­mu­ni­ty? I can tell you how I was spend­ing my hours as a child/​teen — being forced to go to church every time the doors opened. Tak­ing care of sib­lings. House­work. Going to my own jobs (mul­ti­ple). How many of the rich kids have to work, or take care of younger sib­lings, or clean house?
  8. “80% of wealthy make Hap­py Birth­day calls vs. 11% of poor.”
    Birth­day calls, real­ly? Did they count oth­er forms of con­tact, or only phone calls — are those some­how mag­i­cal? Did any­body con­sid­er that some of the poor DON’T HAVE PHONES??? Or that they might need to use asyn­chro­nous com­mu­ni­ca­tion due to the dif­fi­cul­ty of mak­ing con­tact due to their work sched­ules?
  9. “67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% of poor.”
    How can the wealthy write down their goals, mul­ti­ple, when item two says that 80% of them are work­ing towards a SINGLE goal? Does writ­ing a goal down invoke some kind of mag­ic?
  10. “88% of wealthy read 30 min­utes or more each day for edu­ca­tion or career rea­sons vs. 2% of poor.”
    It’s a lot eas­ier to find time to read if you have leisure time in which to do it, and access to relevant/​interesting read­ing mate­ri­al! So we have the library/​money issue again, in addi­tion to the time issue. How many of those “wealthy” peo­ple are just spend­ing time online, any­way — are they actu­al­ly read­ing in a direct­ed man­ner, or just surf­ing, like most peo­ple do? (Most of the poor don’t HAVE inter­net access.)
  11. “6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% of poor.”
    This is one of the things that make me say “HA!” I just don’t believe it was a ques­tion on a sur­vey. The wealth­i­est peo­ple I’ve known were VERY out­spo­ken! The poorest were far more afraid to speak up! I think this item is sup­posed to imply that poor peo­ple are poor because they don’t know when to shut up, or when it’s appro­pri­ate to be out­spo­ken, or how to use tact.
  12. “79% of wealthy net­work five hours or more each mon­th vs. 16% of poor.”
    Again, the wealthy have far more time to devote to such things than the poor do — and they are gen­er­al­ly in pro­fes­sions that ben­e­fit far more from doing so. If you’re doing menial work, net­work­ing doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot. You don’t improve your work at the fast food joint by net­work­ing with oth­er burg­er flip­pers or cashiers.
  13. “67% of wealthy watch one hour or less of TV every day vs. 23% of poor.”
    I bet they spend every bit as much or more screen time, though. The poor are just less like­ly to have com­put­ers and inter­net access.
  14. “6% of wealthy watch real­i­ty TV vs. 78% of poor.”
    The wealthy have access to a greater vari­ety of enter­tain­ment, so they aren’t stuck with the crap that’s broad­cast. What per­cent­age of what’s on broad­cast tele­vi­sion any more IS real­i­ty TV, any­way? The few times that I’m exposed to it, it all seems like real­i­ty shows. How much time are the wealthy spend­ing using smart­phones, tablets, com­put­ers, and oth­er devices? How much time do they spend watch­ing oth­er things on tele­vi­sion?
  15. “44% of wealthy wake up three hours before work starts vs. 3% of poor.”
    How many jobs are the poor work­ing? How many hours of sleep are they actu­al­ly get­ting? Again, I refer to Lin­da Tirado’s arti­cle, in which she said, “Rest is a lux­u­ry for the rich.”
  16. “74% of wealthy teach good dai­ly suc­cess habits to their chil­dren vs. 1% of poor.”
    What kind of “good dai­ly suc­cess habits” are we talk­ing about here? How to make it to payday/​the end of the mon­th when there isn’t enough to eat? How to fix all the things that don’t work in the crap­py place you can afford to live in, because the land­lord sure as hell won’t do it? How to reduce your chances of being a vic­tim of crime in the shit­ty neigh­bor­hood you have to live in? How to read tran­sit maps and fig­ure out how to get to school/​work/​the store/​the clin­ic? How to take care of fam­i­ly mem­bers rang­ing in age from infan­cy to old age? How to do the bud­get dance to try to keep all the util­i­ties turned on?
  17. “84% of wealthy believe good habits cre­ate oppor­tu­ni­ty luck vs. 4% of poor.”
    That isn’t even a sen­tence. I don’t know what they’re try­ing to say. They think their good habits cre­at­ed their opportunities/“luck” ? I think that in most cas­es, they inherit­ed cap­i­tal, or at least got a solid start and good edu­ca­tion, that gave them those oppor­tu­ni­ties and “luck.” Yes, good habits can help — but nobody does it alone.
  18. “76% of wealthy believe bad habits cre­ate detri­men­tal luck vs. 9% of poor.”
    See above.
  19. “86% of wealthy believe in life­long edu­ca­tion­al self-improve­ment vs. 5% of poor.”
    How many of the poor had a decent edu­ca­tion to start with? How many of them were given any rea­son to think that edu­ca­tion had ANY val­ue? How many of them have had any real oppor­tu­ni­ty to get a good edu­ca­tion? How many edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties are avail­able to the poor? They cer­tain­ly have far less time than the wealthy do to spend in self-improve­ment, and a hell of a lot less mon­ey to spend on it.
  20. “86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% of poor.”
    I won­der how many of those poor are tru­ly lit­er­ate? I won­der what we would see if we com­pared the schools in which they were edu­cat­ed to the schools in which the wealthy were edu­cat­ed? I know, per­son­al­ly, that you CAN get a decent edu­ca­tion in a shit­ty school — but you have to work at it hard­er, and you need SOME sort of sup­port, some­where. You also need some kind of encour­age­ment to devel­op a love of read­ing. You need access to read­ing mate­ri­al at some point. You do real­ize, don’t you, that some schools don’t have libraries — things that many peo­ple take for grant­ed in their schools? (I attend­ed one of them.) How are the kids in those schools sup­posed to devel­op a love of read­ing with NOTHING TO READ? I’m also won­der­ing how many of the­se peo­ple report that they “love to read” but haven’t actu­al­ly picked up a book for leisure read­ing in years, or couldn’t dis­cuss a book to save their lives (I find that’s often the case with peo­ple who claim that they “love to read”).

Over­all, NO. Just no. The entire thing reeks of self-right­eous bull­shit, and a poor­ly-designed set of ques­tions that doesn’t prove any­thing oth­er than that the per­son who came up with this stuff doesn’t under­stand a bloody thing about sci­ence or sta­tis­tics. But it cer­tain­ly gives the peo­ple who want to do so lots of excus­es to sprain a mus­cle while pat­ting them­selves on the back.

Review: Bleeding Out by Jes Battis

Bleeding Out (OSI, #5)Bleed­ing Out by Jes Bat­tis
My rat­ing: 2 of 5 stars

Woof, I made it. I wasn’t sure that I would, as this nov­el start­ed out nor­mal­ly and devolved into a stream-of-con­scious­ness mess. I was seri­ous­ly moti­vat­ed to keep going, though, because I read the rest of the series and this is the last book in it. 

So I pushed on through, got to a bit of light in the tun­nel, and then there was more muck. Real­ly, Mr. Bat­tis — this is a pop­u­lar work! Or did you just feel like, “Hey, this is the end of my con­tract, I can do what­ev­er I want…” That’s the feel­ing I got, hon­est­ly. It doesn’t moti­vate me to pick up what­ev­er Bat­tis pub­lish­es in the future.

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Review: Endgame by Ann Aguirre

Endgame (Sirantha Jax, #6)Endgame by Ann Aguir­re
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

Endgame is the final book in the Sir­an­tha Jax series, accord­ing to Aguir­re, and it def­i­nite­ly shows. Every­thing gets wrapped up very sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly. Noth­ing new is intro­duced. Jax’s rela­tion­ships with March and Vel are both expand­ed in a delight­ful man­ner, and I love the way that works out. She also gets to devel­op a not-quite-moth­er­ly rela­tion­ship with Sasha, March’s adopt­ed son.

The entire vol­ume takes place on Laheng, home of the Lahen­grin. We’ve only met the race through Loras so far in the series, but their sto­ry is touch­ing. This is Loras’ sto­ry as much as any­thing, the sto­ry of the fight to free the Lahen­grin from the Nicuans and from the need to be owned (or “pro­tect­ed” as it is called). The action is bru­tal — Aguir­re doesn’t hide the real­i­ties of war. She doesn’t dwell on it in an obscene man­ner, though, so the book is read­able.

Read­ing the end­ing of a won­der­ful series is also bit­ter­sweet, but at least Aguir­re has stat­ed that she’ll revis­it this uni­verse.

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Review: Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels World, #1)Gun­metal Mag­ic by Ilona Andrews
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

I’m fair­ly sure that I missed a Kate Daniels book, because I don’t recall some of the events referred to in this book. That annoys me, and I’ll have to go back and read what­ev­er the last one was out of order now. It’ll be worth it, though, because Ilona Andrews’ writ­ing is always fun. Gun­metal Mag­ic is no excep­tion.

This is the first nov­el to focus on Andrea Nash, Kate Daniels’ best friend. Exposed as a shapeshifter, she’s been kicked out of the Order. She had just cho­sen to obey orders from a supe­ri­or offi­cer instead of fight­ing with the Pack, which led to a breakup with her lover Raphael. Now she has to rebuild her life from a shat­tered ruin.

Andrea is a fas­ci­nat­ing char­ac­ter, abused repeat­ed­ly in her ter­ri­ble child­hood and raised to be ashamed of and hide her shapeshift­ing nature. Her rela­tion­ship with Raphael is informed by their bouda nature, but her human side isn’t left out by any means.

I par­tic­u­lar­ly enjoy the part that Atlanta plays in Andrews’ books, but as a near-native Atlanta I’m bound to be biased in that respect.

This vol­ume and the bonus novel­la “Mag­ic Gifts” are def­i­nite­ly worth­while read­ing for any fan of the Kate Daniels series. 

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