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Review: Rogue by Rachel Vincent

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Reading | Posted on 08-09-2008

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Rogue Rogue by Rachel Vin­cent

My review

rat­ing: 2 of 5 stars
I am offi­cial­ly annoyed. I want some kind of law, or at least an indus­try stan­dard, that requires pub­lish­ers to label any nov­el that doesn’t tie up all its lit­tle plot threads in ONE vol­ume. This is one that would def­i­nite­ly have that label, as we’re left wait­ing Impor­tant Things on the very last page. Blech.

It takes a lot of tal­ent to write good poet­ry, to com­press mean­ing into those few, per­fect words. Writ­ing short sto­ries is, again, some­thing that requires skill, tal­ent, and dis­ci­pline. Nov­els give the author more lee­way, and the best, in my opin­ion, are those that are pared down to the essen­tials. More and more, I see the ser­i­al nov­el as the mark of a very undis­ci­plined writer. I like series, certainly—as long as each vol­ume can stand on its own mer­its, enjoy­able with­out hav­ing to read sev­er­al oth­er books. Ms. Vin­cent is nowhere near that lev­el of pro­fes­sion­al­ism.

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Time Sinks

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Reading | Posted on 07-09-2008

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Thanks to an LJ friend, I spent a whole lot of the last few days read­ing The Law Dog Files. The man real­ly does need to put togeth­er a book of his sto­ries, or maybe a few books, because he is hilar­i­ous. I don’t entire­ly agree with his pol­i­tics, but I don’t entire­ly dis­agree, either. His sto­ries are more than worth bypass­ing a few things that might oth­er­wise annoy me. I high­ly rec­om­mend perus­ing the archives any time you’re in need of a laugh.

Thanks to Law Dog, I’ve also been read­ing a bit at The Cor­nered Cat, which is an emi­nent­ly prac­ti­cal site about guns, writ­ten by a woman and includ­ing far more infor­ma­tion about deal­ing with fem­i­nine cloth­ing and con­cealed car­ry than I’ve ever found before. I’ll be spend­ing more time over there.

I read Night Life by Caitlin Kit­tredge, and am hop­ing that the library will come through with a copy of Pure Blood soon.

Since I don’t have Pure Blood here right now, I went on to Rachel Vincent’s Stray, and went on to Rogue. It’s nice to read about were­cats instead of were­wolves for a change. I am occa­sion­al­ly annoyed by the main char­ac­ter mak­ing the same mis­takes over and over again, but I haven’t felt it nec­es­sary to toss the books across the house, so it’s bear­able. So far.

Nerd Joy!

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Geekery | Posted on 06-09-2008

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We’ve been scan­ner-deprived for many months now, because the mul­ti­func­tion print­er gave up the ghost. We acquired an old­er mod­el HP scan­ner via Freecy­cle a while back, but it wouldn’t work. The mov­ing bit inside had been locked down for trans­port, and just wouldn’t unlock. It is nev­er a good thing when you get a burn­ing smell out of a piece of com­put­er equip­ment.

But Sam attacked it with screw­drivers and pli­ers and brute force tonight, and made it work! Squee!

Methinks I Need to Safeword

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Family, Reading | Posted on 05-09-2008

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I’m about 34 of the way through The Devil’s Right Hand by Lilith Saint­crow — 3rd of 5 or 6 books in the Dante Valen­tine series — and I don’t think I can take any more.

I want to know how the sto­ry ends. I real­ly like some of the char­ac­ters. I just can’t stand the main char­ac­ter! She’s a total har­ri­dan. I’m start­ing to think that Saint­crow is inca­pable of writ­ing a female pro­tag­o­nist who isn’t set to the high­est bitch lev­els at all times, espe­cial­ly with any­one who is nice to her. What are this woman’s per­son­al rela­tion­ships like, I won­der?

When I was in 10th grade, a new girl moved to my neigh­bor­hood. We quick­ly became close friends. A few months into our friend­ship, I remem­ber her say­ing some­thing about me and my friends being “so pas­sive.” What? That is not an adjec­tive I had ever imag­ined any­body had ever used in ref­er­ence to me or the peo­ple I hung out with. We were all pret­ty opin­ion­at­ed, intel­li­gent, tal­ent­ed, and most of us were some­what prick­ly in one way or anoth­er. Not door­mats, pushovers, or “pas­sive” peo­ple.

We didn’t fight, which, to her, meant pas­siv­i­ty. I tried to explain that we could dis­agree with­out fight­ing, and knew the dif­fer­ence between debates and argu­ments, but we nev­er did see eye to eye on that issue. I’m sure that a major dif­fer­ence in our fam­i­ly back­grounds had a lot to do with her per­cep­tions. In her fam­i­ly, scream­ing was a dai­ly occur­rence, after which the air was cleared and all was well. In mine, raised voic­es meant phys­i­cal vio­lence. If some­one raised his voice any­where near me, I expect­ed vio­lence, and the whole fight-or-flight thing start­ed. I nev­er con­sid­ered wast­ing ener­gy by yelling back. If she heard yelling, she’d wade right in and yell back fear­less­ly. (I’m pret­ty sure that she wasn’t ever hit in anger, prob­a­bly not ever hit at all by a fam­i­ly mem­ber.)

I’m not going to be friends with some­one who is con­stant­ly pick­ing fights with me or any­one else. I have zero inter­est in argu­ment for the sake of argu­ment. What’s the point? I val­ue my peace too much for that, so com­bat­ive, aggres­sive peo­ple quick­ly get an invi­ta­tion to the world when I encounter them.

I think that friend might relate to Saintcrow’s female char­ac­ters. Valen­tine sure as hell isn’t pas­sive. She can’t man­age assertive, either, though — she’s unhealth­ily aggres­sive.

Blah — Spammers Are Scum

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Blogging, Family | Posted on 04-09-2008

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Not that it’s news to any­one, I know. But Defen­sio was down this evening (because of an Ama­zon serv­er fail­ure), which meant that all of our sites have been slammed with com­ment spam. They all get hit con­stant­ly, but it’s usu­al­ly a non-issue because Defen­sio fil­ters almost 100% of the crap before we see it. These out­ages serve to remind us of how great the ser­vice is.

I notice that my old­er posts are the ones that get the most spam com­ments. I’ve looked for some sort of plu­g­in to auto­mat­i­cal­ly dis­able com­ments on posts after a week or so, but I haven’t found one so far. I final­ly gave in today and start­ed back with the very first post on this blog, dis­abling com­ments. It is a tedious process! I’m sure that some­one could write a script that would do the same thing in the MySQL data­base much faster, but I’m not that some­one.

Sam has to go back to work tomor­row. Pout. I’ve real­ly enjoyed hav­ing him home.

TotD: Ray Kurzweil on Change

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Thought of the Day | Posted on 03-09-2008

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Ray Kurzweil, The Sin­gu­lar­i­ty is Near: When Humans Tran­scend Biol­o­gy

Cen­turies ago peo­ple didn’t think that the world was chang­ing at all. Their grand­par­ents had the same lives that they did, and they expect­ed their grand­chil­dren would do the same, and that expec­ta­tion was large­ly ful­filled.

Today it’s an axiom that life is chang­ing and that tech­nol­o­gy is affect­ing the nature of soci­ety. What’s not ful­ly under­stood is that the pace of change is itself accel­er­at­ing, and the last 20 years are not a good guide to the next 20 years. We’re dou­bling the par­a­digm shift rate, the rate of progress, every decade.

The whole 20th cen­tu­ry was like 25 years of change at today’s rate of change. In the next 25 years we’ll make four times the progress you saw in the 20th cen­tu­ry. And we’ll make 20,000 years of progress in the 21st cen­tu­ry, which is almost a thou­sand times more tech­ni­cal change than we saw in the 20th cen­tu­ry.

Review: Spectre by Phaedra Weldon

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Book Reviews, Reading | Posted on 02-09-2008

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Spectre (Zoe Martinique, Book 2) Spec­tre by Phae­dra Wel­don

My review

rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars
Hmm. Spec­tre feels less like a sequel to Wraith than a chap­ter two, if that makes any sense. Both books are full-sized nov­els, but they’re so close­ly relat­ed that book two wouldn’t make any sense with­out hav­ing read book 1 (and the novel­la in between). Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Spec­tre ends on a cliff-hang­er. I hate that.

At least I know (from her blog) that Wel­don is work­ing on the third book. I can only hope that it comes out soon and wraps up all the loose threads with­out intro­duc­ing new ones that aren’t left hang­ing again.

I do have to agree with anoth­er GR review­er who men­tioned that the main char­ac­ter car­ries on more like a 13-year-old kid than a 28-year-old woman. I have to agree. I under­stand that los­ing one par­ent ear­ly might, for some peo­ple, lead to a clos­er rela­tion­ship with the sur­viv­ing parent—but give me a break! Zoë appar­ent­ly needs to move across the coun­try to learn to live with­out Mom­my. Or maybe Mom­my should move?

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SBQ: Overdyed Floss or Hand-dyed Fabric?

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Needlework | Posted on 01-09-2008

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I’m quite late with the cur­rent Stitch­ing Blogger’s Ques­tion, which is:
If you had to choose, would you rather spend mon­ey on overdyed floss
or hand-dyed fab­ric?

Overdyed floss, cer­tain­ly. I’ve only pur­chased one piece of hand-dyed fab­ric, and nobody is like­ly to go, “Oh, wow!” about the effect in the fin­ished piece (although I’m hap­py, because I couldn’t find any oth­er fab­ric that was exact­ly right). I seri­ous­ly doubt that any­one but anoth­er devot­ed stitch­er would ever know that the fab­ric is hand-dyed.

The overdyed floss­es I’ve used, though, fre­quent­ly lead to incred­i­ble effects that are appar­ent to any­one who views the pieces. They’re usu­al­ly a joy to work with, as well.

Scattered

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Family, Fun, Reading | Posted on 31-08-2008

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Any­body else using Live­Mocha? Espe­cial­ly to learn French? I just joined (as Tech­noMom, of course) and would like to have “friends” there. I start­ed with the begin­ner lev­el, les­son one, and actu­al­ly learned a few new vocab­u­lary words. (My wee bit of for­eign lan­guage instruc­tion in high school sucked, to put it mild­ly.) You’re sup­posed to ask your “friends” for feed­back on your lessons, but I don’t have any and don’t real­ly want to ask total strangers about how bad­ly I did.

Sam and Katie have been at Dragon*Con for the past few days. We had a house guest, David, but I didn’t real­ly “meet” him because of the late con hours and hav­ing a real­ly bad pain flare. Sor­ry David! He went home this after­noon. I’m glad Sam has the day off tomor­row to recov­er. I’m glad Hope got to come to D*C, but pout­ing because I won’t get to see her while she’s in town. I know that she has bright­ened Sam’s week­end.

I fin­ished read­ing The Jen­nifer Morgue by Charles Stross last night, and start­ed Phae­dra Weldon’s Wraith. I liked Morgue, but it wasn’t quite as strong as The Atroc­i­ty Archives. The short sto­ry at the end of the book, “Pimpf,” didn’t do too much for me, but I’m not a video gamer so that prob­a­bly has a lot to do with it.

I’m real­ly lik­ing Wraith. A lot. The fact that it’s set in Atlanta is nice, because I can fol­low along the geog­ra­phy as the char­ac­ters move around. (Usu­al­ly, such things go right past me, even if there’s a map.) Thanks to Good Reads, I know that there’s a novel­la, “Out of the Dark,” on Weldon’s site that takes place between this book and Spec­tre.

I’ve also been brows­ing through the archives at Two Lumps, thanks to a link from . I had a pair of Russ­ian Blues who were entire­ly too much like Ebenez­er and Snooch! If you’re a vet­er­an of cat cohab­i­ta­tion, be care­ful when read­ing. I rec­om­mend not hav­ing a drink in hand (or in mouth) and being care­ful to emp­ty your blad­der before you start read­ing.

Kyoshi is busy telling me that he still doesn’t want to cud­dle with any­body but Katie, but he wants her home NOW! RIGHT NOW! And that we real­ly have to stop let­ting the kit­ten out of the house with­out his per­son­al super­vi­sion.

Review: Maria V. Snyder’s Study Series

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Reading | Posted on 30-08-2008

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Fire Study (Study, Book 3) Fire Study by Maria V. Sny­der

My review

rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars
I strong­ly rec­om­mend read­ing Poi­son Study, Assas­sin Study, Mag­ic Study, and Pow­er Study all at a go. The two novel­las are option­al, but canon­i­cal and fun.

Snyder’s world seems to be made up of just two coun­tries: Ixia and Sitia. Ixia has been ruled by Com­man­der Ambrose and his gen­er­als for about a decade when Poi­son Study starts, after a mil­i­tary coup over­threw the old monar­chy. There are no beg­gars, every child is enti­tled to an edu­ca­tion, nobody has to go hun­gry or home­less, and pro­mo­tions are based sole­ly on skill, with no gen­der or racial discrimination—but every cit­i­zen also has to wear a uni­form declar­ing his or her prop­er loca­tion and job func­tion, gov­ern­ment approval is required for mar­ry­ing, mov­ing to a new home, or chang­ing jobs, and any­body iden­ti­fied as hav­ing mag­ic tal­ent is killed imme­di­ate­ly. Every­one is sub­ject to the Code of Behav­ior, and there are no excep­tions for any kind of exten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stances. If you kill some­one, you are sen­tenced to death, even if you were defend­ing your­self or anoth­er.

Yele­na has been in the Commander’s dun­geon for most of a year after killing the son of Gen­er­al Brazell. Valek, Ambrose’s spy­mas­ter, gives her a choice: go to the gal­lows, or become the Commander’s food taster. The job doesn’t have a long life expectan­cy, as poi­son­ing attempts are fair­ly com­mon, but Yele­na sees a chance at life bet­ter than imme­di­ate death, and takes the job.

Yele­na man­ages to sur­vive sev­er­al attempts to mur­der her. The fact that Brazell wants her dead is under­stand­able, but the oth­er attempts are mys­te­ri­ous. Why would a Sit­ian mas­ter magi­cian try to kill her? Who would slip poi­son into her wine?

Mag­ic Study finds Yele­na in Sitia, learn­ing to cope with a very dif­fer­ent way of life. Mag­ic is almost tak­en for grant­ed, and a strong family/​clan struc­ture forms the back­bone of the gov­ern­ment. But why are there beg­gars in the streets, and why is it that only those who can afford it are edu­cat­ed? Every­one in Sitia believes that life in Ixia must be hor­rif­ic, but look­ing around her, Yele­na sees that Ambrose’s rule does have its ben­e­fits.

Fire Study moves between Sitia and Ixia, involv­ing the lead­ers of both nations and intriguers who want to bring both of them down by pitch­ing them against each oth­er. Yele­na and her friends are try­ing to pre­vent a war and reveal the trai­tors, but they’ve been declared out­law and have to sneak around try­ing to fig­ure out what’s going on.

Anoth­er review­er found Yele­na too tal­ent­ed for belief, but I found her fair­ly real­is­tic. She cer­tain­ly isn’t good at everything—she could use a lot of help in terms of social skills!—and the skills that she begins with and gains over the course of the tril­o­gy do make sense. She trained as an acro­bat when she was a child, so it does make sense that she is able to learn some types of self-defense with­out too much trou­ble. Some of her apti­tudes make more sense after she learns more about her fam­i­ly back­ground. She does find that she has mag­i­cal abil­i­ties, but she isn’t good at every­thing, and indeed, can­not seem to mas­ter some tasks that oth­er magi­cians con­sid­er rudi­men­ta­ry.

I did find some of the betray­als to be dif­fi­cult to com­pre­hend, as some of the trai­tors would have no defense against men­tal scans. There’s a Sit­ian Eth­i­cal Code of Con­duct that pro­hibits non-con­sen­su­al scans, but it doesn’t apply to crim­i­nals, and in a war sit­u­a­tion, I found it hard to believe that nobody ever did a lit­tle tele­path­ic peek­ing at the peo­ple around them.

These were fun books, and they could be use­ful in look­ing at the pros and cons of dif­fer­ent types of gov­ern­ments with teens. There’s some sex in the books, but noth­ing ter­ri­bly explic­it. The vio­lence is more trou­ble­some, but the author nev­er dwells on it.

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