Update Schedule

There was once an update schedule. It lived a good life, a peaceful life. A quiet life. But then... things began to change. It became more and more erratic, sometimes completely disobeying its very reason for existance. And at last, the update schedule could take no more. It cast off its chains and went free, seeking new lands where it would be appreciated. This message it left where once it had lived, to warn other schedules of the peril.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Review: Blue Moon Rising

Blue Moon Rising Blue Moon Rising by Simon R. Green
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The characters acted so strangely. I wouldn't want to live in a world populated by such horrible people, that's all I can say.

And poor, abused unicorn. I hope it ran away and found its family.

Usual pet peeve with the losing an eye- if I can manage with one, so can a book character.

Not a great ending, but what I was expecting.

In general, your typical 90's fantasy book. Slightly better than most. A fine book to spend a weekend on.

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015

Review: A Thousand Nights

A Thousand Nights A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Odd, odd book. I don't like books with a "it just sort of happened" attitude toward magic, and this one was... not exactly that, but made me a little uncomfortable since I wasn't sure what to think. I did love the lack of names, I thought that was very well done. The very end baffled me- this seems to happen a lot with YA books lately for some reason.

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Review: Willful Machines

Willful Machines Willful Machines by Tim Floreen
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Fine book. Nice writing, amusingly absurd plot, honorable mention for attempt at a twist. However, this book takes place over the course of like three days. That's too much insta-love even for me.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Review: The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Volume One: At the Edge of Empire

The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Volume One: At the Edge of Empire The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Volume One: At the Edge of Empire by Daniel Kraus
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What a strange book. I enjoyed it- it was well written and entertaining- but so depressing. I'm normally not a fan of zombies but Zebulon was okay. The cliffhanger was good enough that I think I'll read the next one.

One thing- the word tilted was consistently replaced with "titled". I'm guessing a find and replace gone wrong? It was weird.

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Just A Thought


This morning my little brother walked up to me and asked if I "was usually this black".
I had the same moment of horror the rest of you undoubtedly just did. But you know what? I was wearing all black. And I am completely sure that he would have said exactly the same thing to any person of any race without ever considering the wider implications.
Isn't that what we want? For race not to matter? When did we lose track of that and decide to be hypersensitive instead? Why do we cling to old separations instead of embracing the possibility of true equal treatment?
Personally, I want a world where children would never even consider that race might be a factor.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Monday, November 2, 2015

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Review: Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel

Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel by Megan Morrison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cute. I didn't like the frog- it didn't really seem to have a purpose. But other than that and a few other minor annoyances I can't now remember, excellent book.

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Review: Alex As Well

Alex As Well Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Had Alex been sixteen, this would have been an excellent book. As it was, she was a whiny brat who somehow managed to do things it should be much more difficult (not to mention illegal) for a kid her age to do. I felt bad for her, but I felt worse for her parents. Why couldn't she see that they were right? The mom was pretty crazy (although if Alex had developed some empathy maybe she would have been all right), but the dad was a good guy whose kid was being horrible. Sure, she has identity issues- but they were trying. She made sudden, impulsive decisions and expected her parents to act like this had been normality for years. She randomly decides to go into foster care without once trying to have a proper discussion of her issues. By the end of the book she's proven herself to be a selfish jerk more times than I can count, and she never once gives a thought to anyone else's feelings.
Also, interesting way of putting it, but... we're supposed to hate the mom for losing it when the main character has MPD?
And the fourth-wall breaking was awful. Thankfully limited, but terrible.
Also, I only forgive false endings in Alcatraz. Don't do that to people. Or if you do, no more than a paragraph or two. It's difficult to trust a book once its lied to you (and I knew it was lying).

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Review: Shadows of Self

Shadows of Self Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Let me begin this by saying that I think this would have been a full three stars had I read Alloy of Law more recently. And all the other Mistborns. And maybe Elantris.
As it is, references to the last book baffled me. Writing was sometimes awesome but usually just okay. The big plot twist had me rolling my eyes because it had been so obvious. The secondary one less so, although I'd guessed that one too.
The plot of this one didn't really interest me. Wax seemed like an arrogant jerk and Wayne was a bumbling fool with occasional and odd moments of wisdom. Hoid's brief appearance was unsatisfactory (why was he there and why didn't he involve himself more?) I didn't feel that the religious questioning added anything (as a religious person myself, I appreciate his attempt to answer those questions... but I'd rather he wrote an essay instead of cramming it into a Western fantasy book).
In general, it was just okay. I'm not hugely excited for the third, and I'm questioning the $30 I spent on this book (I bought it from a bookstore to get it signed... meeting Brandon Sanderson was worth the money). I'll keep reading the series but my love for it is wearing off.

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Review: Dune

Dune Dune by Frank Herbert
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I don't know. For the LoTR of science fiction I expected more science. And the Fremen drove me crazy. As did a variety of other things. I think I'd best return to my policy of not reading hard sci-fi. This would have been so much better if he'd given in and written it as a fantasy book.
Excellent third-person omniscient, though. I learned a lot from that.

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Review: Crown Duel

Crown Duel Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Really good. I got really into the love thing, which I never do. Less politics and more unimportant parties than I would have liked (the ending in particular wasn't anything special; I'd have preferred the magic to stay on the sidelines), but once I got to know Mel's character it was obvious that there wouldn't be any delicate politics.

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Review: The Jewel

The Jewel The Jewel by Amy Ewing
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Utterly forgettable. Something about it bugged me, but I can't remember what.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review: We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story

We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story by Josh Sundquist
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cute. Especially since I knew how it ended (in real life, not in the book). I was disappointed by a few of the non-climactic endings (I wish he'd been able to work Francesca's letter in) but it was deep, meaningful, sweet, and well-written.

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Review: Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Okay. I don't like how the main character was constantly insulting and objectifying women- just because girls don't want to dress revealingly doesn't mean their dresses are ugly and you need to write a several page rant about it. Also, he's sixteen and she's fifteen- yep, true love right there, clearly. Definitely time to worry about whether they can get married! And the fact that he's constantly saying he couldn't bear not to touch her... creep. How about you would die if you couldn't TALK to her, or something else actually romantic and showing that you care about her (especially considering that he not only could but DOES die when he kisses her). The ending sucked.
This book was also impaired by being written by two authors. There were several times when two scenes just didn't mesh. Better editing could have fixed it, though.

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Review: A Rogue by Any Other Name

A Rogue by Any Other Name A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Meh.

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Review: Shopaholic to the Stars

Shopaholic to the Stars Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Can't wait for the next one!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Review: Reawakened

Reawakened Reawakened by Colleen Houck
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I was going to write a long rant about how inaccurate the Egyptian bits are, but the truth is a lot of other people already have and I don't feel like doing the research, so let me recommend some of the other reviews on this book if you're interested.

As I said to a friend, this book seems to have been written while drunk and reading the Kane Chronicles, after an overdose of the worse parts of Twilight and far too many Magic Tree House books. No one cares, Mrs. Houck. We've seen it before, and they did it better. Also, your poetry sucks (I read it, unlike everyone else. They made the smart decision.)

The book goes like this:
Lilliana is rich. Very rich. Also, she lives in a hotel in Manhattan, but she doesn't think that residence is really home. She's too rich to deal with all the problems that come with being rich. Like getting into all the colleges she applied to and getting to go to whichever one she pleases- too much effort to decide. So she goes to the Met, where she can relax into her natural element of ordering around museum guards who can't say no because her parents are too rich.
After bullying some museum guards (and stalking a few people before reporting them to the museum guards for getting quietly teary about the beauty of the art), Lilliana gets permission to go into a closed off wing. Ignoring the priceless relics around her, she gets down to important business- deciding which college is fanciest and therefore most desirable based on their pamphlets. Unfortunately, there are a few minor distractions and she can't concentrate.
Luckily, it turns out to be a mostly naked hot guy (rather than a squirrel as Lilliana so cleverly assumed; it's a well-known fact that the two species are closely related.) He doesn't speak English, which just makes him hotter. And he's bald, which is a big plus. Lilliana decides immediately that he's a mentally ill homeless person and reacts appropriately by pepper-spraying him and going out to lunch without telling the guards about him.
During lunch, Lilliana is unfortunately interrupted from insulting some perfectly nice girls she's made no attempt to get to know by said bald hot guy getting hit by a car. In an act that could almost be misconstrued as that of a decent human being, she rushes out to help. Luckily, bald hot guy heals himself magically and proceeds to hypnotize and stalk her.
Quite a bit of abuse later, bald hot guy kidnaps her and takes her to Egypt. He then proceeds to stuff pastries down her throat (especially whenever she tries to eat a balanced, healthy meal) when not distracted by legions of attractive women throwing themselves at his feet. Hot guy (he's grown some hair) then goes on a boring quest involving several badly thought out booby traps and a grand vizier (who's not Jafar and so no one cares). He also spends some time adding highlights to Lilliana's hair, and they- well, she- decide(s) that they're in love.
Lots more boring stuff happens. Hot guy has two (bald and then not) hot brothers. They all turn into birds, which apparently have magically strengthened spines because they can carry two passengers without a problem. Moby Worm makes a far-too-long cameo. Anubis is the only person to have any common sense. The ending, however, ruins it.
Everyone reading the book throws it down in disgust and decides they don't even care what just happened.
The end.

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Review: The Gunslinger

The Gunslinger The Gunslinger by Stephen King
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Meh. I think Stephen King- much as he loves to deny it- would really have benefited from an outline here.
Also, I know he did finish the series, but his afterword basically says "no, I don't know what just happened either, I probably won't finish this, and I don't really care." Not inspiring me to read the next one, especially since I've heard that the series' ending is bad.
I really liked 'Salem's Lot, but I think I should have left my Stephen King reading at that.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Review: Proxy

Proxy Proxy by Alex London
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not bad writing. Absurd plot. Weird characters. Predictable ending. Also, I don't know why everyone's recommending this for gay people... so the main character's a black gay guy. That doesn't actually matter in the book.

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Review: The Young Elites

The Young Elites The Young Elites by Marie Lu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Too many POVs, but the ending was really good.
I also like Teren; he was a well-done character. I hope he gets more screentime in the sequel.

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Review: Peace Like a River

Peace Like a River Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars



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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Review: The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Why does Douglas Adams always lure me in with a great first book and then the second isn't quite as good with a lot more swearing? This was okay. Not as funny as the first, and weirdly serious (something I never thought to see from Douglas Adams) toward the end.

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Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really liked it in the beginning, but by the end of the book it was more of a meh. Somewhere along the way it just lost something.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Review: A School for Unusual Girls

A School for Unusual Girls A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Much fun. I'm not a big fan of alternate history so this is where this series and I part, but although we shan't meet again it was nice to spend a few hours together.

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Review: Immortal City

Immortal City Immortal City by Scott Speer
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So ridiculous that I'm not even sure it's worth insulting it. The plot isn't even worth mentioning.
The author can't really write, which was an issue, but I got used to it after a bit. The love story was sort of adorable if not looked at too closely (then it was just absurd.) It shares an issue common to YA books- the immediate problems are solved like magic, but the bigger overarching issues of social justice and whatnot are completely ignored. Most of this book was just meh or kind of cute in its absurdity, but at the end... everything was the same as it had been, but the author treated it as some kind of grand solution. The copout was of course awful- they always are- but for some reason with this book it bothered me more than it usually does.

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Review: Who Could That Be at This Hour?

Who Could That Be at This Hour? Who Could That Be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very fun. It's cool how you can completely see this as being true- you can see how Theodora's affected his later writing, for example. I'm not sure I'll continue the series, but it was nice to go back to Lemony Snicket. And curiosity may keep me going- I just wish he'd answered a few more questions in this book.

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not a huge fan of the ending, but another wonderful book from Douglas Adams. It was like returning to the world of Hitchhiker's (the good bits). I can't wait to read the second one.

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Review: Half a King

Half a King Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very, very rarely I read a book and I feel lost. This usually happens when reading books from the 1700's, which are full of deceptively solid sentences with secret comma marshes beneath the thin veneer of sense. This keeps me almost humble when it comes to my ability to predict book endings (I predicted the ending to LOTR at age eight... that killed any chance of real humility.)
This was not that sort of book. From page one I knew that I was on solid, familiar ground that was unlikely to bend, let alone give. Every character had their usual fantasy-novel place, each moment foreshadowed its proper bit in the ending, and nothing at all took me by surprise. It was just a fantasy novel, and it was a well-written and developed one. Nothing fancy here, no attempts at plot twists or morals or any silly things like that. It was fantasy through and through, and while I can't believe it was ever published I'm glad it was.
My one quibble is the whole "Breaking of the World" thing. That's Robert Jordan's. Don't steal from other authors when your own imagination is clearly in fine working order.
Anyway, this book is about a guy named Yarvi who has a crippled left hand. He becomes king. Shockingly, it turns out that someone he trusted actually wants to kill him. So he goes off and becomes a slave, makes some friends, takes revenge, etc. There are a few easily guessable attempts at plot twists. Then the book all nicely and neatly, no sequel attempt in sight, and you're left wondering why you ever wanted originality.
Now, here's the thing: Yarvi's a complete jerk. He has no moral qualms whatsoever. He's sickened by the sight of dead bodies, but that doesn't mean he minds murder- he'd just prefer not to look at the results. A few months as a slave gives him not pause at all when he's looking down and slaves in the same position a few months later (he in fact urges further abuse). And it's incredibly refreshing. Yarvi is exactly what you'd expect him to be from the outlined society. There's no happy ending where everyone realizes that hey, maybe might isn't right and a cripple could be a good king! He doesn't have any thought of ending slavery. Heck, the guy invites a rival king in to slaughter his subjects without a second thought!
So would I want to read similar books? No, they'd be boring and overdone. Am I happy to have read this one? Yes. As always, the well-done overdone cliche I haven't seen in a while beats poorly executed originality. Congratulations, Joe Abercrombie, you can take the prize in "normal predictable fantasy."

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Review: Kosher Chinese: Living, Teaching, and Eating with China's Other Billion

Kosher Chinese: Living, Teaching, and Eating with China's Other Billion Kosher Chinese: Living, Teaching, and Eating with China's Other Billion by Michael Levy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting. I feel like I know a lot more about Chinese culture now. It's very well-written although I think some things should have been taken out because they were never resolved (and most likely never were in real life) and so didn't add anything to the book.

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Review: Vampire Academy

Vampire Academy Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'm going to preface this review by saying that this book has some memories associated with it through no fault of its own, and therefore my feelings toward it might not be entirely rational.

"There are two sorts of vampires, living and dead.
-Emily Gerard
That's about where this book's similarities to any legendary vampires end. Which is okay. Most books don't even get that far. To be honest, the vampire bits of this book weren't really interesting or important. I don't know why the Strigoi are evil or the other ones aren't. I have no idea why the Dhampirs have been putting up with the vampire's abuse for centuries. I kind of wish the author had left out all of the vampire parts, honestly, since they just raise a lot of very annoying questions.
Aside from the vampires, this book was surprisingly okay. It was stupid, but sometimes that's a good thing. Rose is a very controlling friend, and I wish the author had dealt more with that, but Lyssa seems able to hold her own. The depression was handled okay, although I wonder why it's accompanied with weird fits of insane anger. The whole magical powers bit seemed rather contrived, but then again it always does.
Basically, this is a silly teenage girl book with absolutely nothing darker to offer, which can be an excellent thing indeed. I can't really recommend it, but if you want something light that isn't fluff (because fluff this is not, much as it tries to be), this will do perfectly.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Review: Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell

Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dob is Hoid. Brandon Sanderson can't fool me. (Too long spent away from Hoid-hunting may have made me just slightly desperate.)
I'm not exactly certain how I ended up with the ebook, but I did, so I read it. The introduction made me pretty sure I wouldn't like it- no Hoid? Weird rules based on Judaism?- but I was pleasantly surprised. I do wish he'd left out the Judaism bit; his rules really had nothing to do with ours. Mostly it was laughable when you considered his source. But in general, this book was pretty good. It ended too happily, but all Brandon Sanderson books do. I'm not sure it added anything to the Cosmere, but considering it by itself it was fine. Very well-written, which was reassuring after Firefight.
A pleasant break from Varney. Very quick read.

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Review: Frankenstein

Frankenstein Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was surprisingly sad. I'm not quite sure why it's supposed to be horror (although, having read Byron's submission, I can see why it won the contest). I also have no idea where we got any of our modern impressions of the monster- maybe Mary Shelley gives more detail in the later version?
Frankenstein is really quite insane- and not in the evil cackling method I'd expected. He breaks down into tears and loses several months at the slightest provocation. He claims he was just fine before he created the monster (why doesn't it name itself?), but I'm inclined to doubt it. He's constantly depressed and/ or rambling, and he gets scarily obsessed with things.
The monster is... odd. We never really get much of a description for it, just continual complaints that it's ugly. It gives lots of long, eloquent speeches which seems rather strange, but the ones at the end were rather beautiful so I won't complain. I felt bad for it, but it was nearly as unstable as its creator.
The guy telling the story is just boring. He's a random explorer who never even makes it where he's going. I guess he's necessary for the ending, but I think too much time is spent on his letters in the beginning.
This book was much more interesting ethically than I expected it to be. I'm still not sure whether Frankenstein made the right decision, or what else the monster could have done. The writing did drag on at bits- Frankenstein is way too obsessed with describing mountains- but mostly it was really engaging, with very pretty dialogue. It was far more engaging than I thought it would be. I might even read Mary Shelley's other books.

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Review: Ruthless

Ruthless Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Nothing special. Far too many bits where she should have died but magical ghost-hallucinations saved her.

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Review: Fevre Dream

Fevre Dream Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Completely historically inaccurate in terms of vampire lore... sigh.
Not badly written but a bit of a copout ending. I liked the timespan; that was unusual. Much better writing and general taste from GRRM than I expected, too. Not a great vampire novel, though, which was a pity. It provided many examples for my research paper, which was why I read it, so that was good.

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Read this before upgrading (Windows 10)


Yes, I know, I'm supposed to be reviewing books, not endlessly reading Windows 10 feedback. I swear, I'm reading books too. Just...more slowly and with lots of feedback in between.

Just a few notes:
I am not in any way connected to Microsoft. I have sent them a link to let them know that these are why I wouldn't necessarily recommend Windows 10, but I have zero expectation that they'll read it. This is for people who aren't sure whether to upgrade, so that they know the truth. There are a lot of excellent reasons to upgrade to Windows 10- here are the cons.
The bottom list is unlikely to get much longer than the one item it already is... but it's a common issue and I thought I'd post the solution somewhere because really, it's not a big deal.
And now onto the list. I don't pretend it's complete, but you should know what you're getting into and I haven't seen a more complete one.

Real problems you should upvote instead of repost, and consider before upgrading:
1. Combined mail option doesn't exist, and there's no delete all button.
2. No dark theme (in a lot of apps).
3. The tops of windows should be colored and/or transparent like they were in Windows 7 (right now they're plain white, and it's a weird contrast to your themed taskbar and start menu).
4. The new calculator is awful (useable, but ugly).
5. Cortana uses Bing with no option to switch, can't tell you who the president is, searches automatically and in the most irritating way possible, and is basically not very functional.
6. Touchpad drivers across the board are messed up with no way of reverting to an old one. (Some computers, particularly Lenovo ones, lose scrolling- I did with my Acer, but a restart fixed it. Anything more complicated than two-finger scrolling is likely not to work in Windows 10.)
7. Edge doesn't support adblockers (or any other extensions) or Google.
8. Notifications are iffy at best (don't show up, are unclear, vanish randomly).
9. Live tiles don't work right, especially the mail one.
10. The new OneNote doesn't sync and lacks most of its options (no font changing, rotary wheel is gone).
11. Google Calendar doesn't sync shared calendars in the calendar app.
12. Settings and control panel still aren't integrated.
13. You can only revert to your old OS for a month- so keep this in mind if you're just trying it out and might want to switch back.

Solutions to common "problems" on Windows 10:
1. No insider hub. This one baffles me, since our good friend Gabe Aul emailed us all the solution... then again, I don't usually read his emails either. But regardless, here's how you get the insider hub in Windows 10 (taken from here):

  1. Go to Start Windows Start icon, enter the word Settings, then select Settings.
  2. Select System > Apps & features.
  3. Select Manage optional features > Add a feature.
  4. Scroll down the alphabetical list and select Insider Hub, and then select Install
2. How to import your stuff from another browser to Edge:
Open Edge. Go to settings. Click "import favorites from another browser". It's actually incredibly quick and (for me, at least) works perfectly. Note: this only works with IE and Chrome... not good for Firefox users.



Please comment if you have a question or something to be added. 
To be updated...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: Salem's Lot

Salem's Lot Salem's Lot by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I tried reading Under the Dome last year. I found it to be poorly written and full of gore rather than plot. I gave up around 200 pages in.
I had no plans to try Stephen King again, until last week, when I discovered a reference to this book in an article I was reading for a paper I should be writing instead of this review. I decided to read at least the scene that was mentioned because it sounded relevant.
A few days later, I had the book in my hands and I settled down to read it, not looking forward to it and hoping that the scene I wanted would come soon. The poems at the beginning did little to alleviate my doubts. Neither did the prologue which, although well-written, did not seem to me to bode well for the coming novel.
Fifteen minutes later, I was remarking to everyone I met that Stephen King could actually write. I only stopped because I wanted to keep reading the book and I had limited time. I didn't read it one sitting, but it only took two or three. The book is remarkably well-written, and it's exactly the sort of writing I like (except for the unnecessary stuff put in only to make it an adult book so it'll sell, but it wasn't hard to ignore). The setting was done beautifully, although the metaphors were sometimes a little too vague. The characters were well set up, and narrowly avoided going over the line from the perfect amount to far too many, which when it works is a good thing.
This book wasn't particularly scary, especially once the vampires actually showed up, but that was okay with me. It was suspenseful and interesting, and I didn't need it to be anything else.
It was more religious than I'd expected, which was a little weird at times since I wasn't expecting it.
The characters were well done, although a few were killed off for no particular reason (I thought Jimmy would serve a purpose since he was the only one Barlow didn't mention in the letter... apparently not). I didn't particularly like any of them, but I almost never like book characters. Matt's Van Helsing impersonation annoyed me, but at least it was conscious. I do wish Father Callahan's ending hadn't been so sad and vague, but oh well.
And, of course, the best part: evil vampires taken straight out of Dracula (well, sort of, Dracula walked in the day). The retroactive invitation bit was cool; I don't think I've ever seen that before (speaking of which, does anyone know where the invitations come from in the first place? No one seems to have any idea). He didn't go with the OCD myths (yes, Count Von Count is a real vampire after all), which was a little disappointing since no one ever does... but then again, no one ever does. The vampires were also modernly pale, rather than ruddy like in all the legends, but again, no one ever does.
Okay, this has gone on way too long and I really do need to write my paper. Basically, this book was surprisingly good and I plan to give Stephen King a second chance.

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Review: The Crystal Shard

The Crystal Shard The Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I didn't really like it, sadly. R.A. Salvatore's writing definitely improved between this series and the next. This book was rather dull and cliched, and skipped over all of the parts I actually wanted to read about. Drizzt wasn't likeable at all; I'm not sure why everyone liked him enough for the rest of the serieses (like hobbsitses, that's a word). He was just better than Wulfgar. I was going to read all of the Legend of Drizzt, but this may be the end. The later books are probably better, and I doubt these matter, but I've just lost my enthusiasm.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review: I Am Number Four

I Am Number Four I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wanted this to be good.
I really, really did.
Unfortunately, it was nothing special. It wasn't even interesting. And the cliffhanger at the end was so contrived that I don't even feel particularly bad for not caring what happens next.
Let's start with my main problem: the main character. Yep, that's right, he hasn't got a name. I don't know why none of the children are named, but they're not. Henri does have a name, which we find out about two pages from the end. Not sure why it was delayed that long... also, Brandon is a completely normal Earth name. It even sounds sort of French. Why did he change it?
Next, on to Lorien. I shall write a short script detailing the problems:
Me: So... your planet is dead?
MC: Yeah, but it's pulsing in my magic crystal. I have lots of those that show up at various times with no explanation, by the way. Like my magic healing crystal and my magic caffeine crystal. And my magic fire-imperviousness crystal. I have lots more, but Henri won't let me look at them for unexplained reasons.
Me: ...cool. So you came here to survive?
MC: But we're going to go back and repopulate it.
Me: Your dead planet?
MC: Yes.
Me: You do know it can't support life?
MC: *Nods happily*
Me: I see. And these magical powers?
MC: Are very magical.
Me: Yes, but why?
MC: *Looks confused* What do you mean, why? We have magical powers. And charms. It's magical. We're aliens. It works.
Yes, this is actually the book's attitude toward this. There is no explanation at all. But my main issue was actually with Lorien's culture.
There are two classes: magical people and non-magical people. The non-magical people (with no choice in the matter) are in charge of taking care of magical people's children and training them. They don't seem to mind this. The MC routinely abuses his (Henri), and Henri hugs him and tells him how proud he is. They're all brainwashed, in my opinion. And the author carefully tiptoes around any suggestion that they might be servants or slaves.
Next, their supposed intelligence. The MC is a complete idiot. Despite being warned that morning, he fails to notice his Legacy appearing despite it being painfully obvious. Also, he doesn't notice his other painfully obvious Legacy until the very end. And- surprise!- all of them have telekinesis. So that's handy. His Legacies developed out of order, but that's okay. Probably due to the planet-magic not being quite plot convenient enough. Also, he tells everyone he can find that he's an alien. How are they not dead before the book starts?
And finally, the love story (the characters are so painfully flat that I'm going to skip them). Okay, maybe the MC's an alien. He might work differently. He can fall in love deeply and forever at age fifteen if he must (although Henri's advice that he basically play around with Sarah until his real soulmate comes along is disgusting). But Sarah? She can't be more than sixteen or seventeen. She shouldn't be dating a fifteen year old in the first place, but even if she is, she shouldn't be promising eternal love to someone she'll almost certainly never see again and has been lying to her for pretty much the entire time he's known her. Not to mention nearly gets her killed multiple times. She should go date what's-his-name the much maligned football player instead. Much safer.
Basically, the only thing I disliked about this book more than the book was the movie trailer. The more I think about the book, the less I like it. I'm going to stop before I give in to the urge to give it one start, which would probably be unfair.

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Review: The Dark Elf Trilogy Collector's Edition

The Dark Elf Trilogy Collector's Edition The Dark Elf Trilogy Collector's Edition by R.A. Salvatore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We've already been through the long boring backstory of how I found this book, so I'll skip it and you can read my review for the first one if you're curious.
I never considered myself the sort of person who would go anywhere near a D&D novel, and had I known what they were before I read them I probably wouldn't have. Luckily, I didn't figure it out until afterward, when I read the author's note (can I just say, Drizzt Do'Urden is a pretty awesome name to make up on the spot) and I read these.
The third book was by far my favorite (and so I'll mostly be talking about it). The first I liked but it was a bit awkward at times. The second... it was fun, but it felt a lot like filler. A lot of it is just Drizzt running around being awesome, which is of course great but didn't do much overall for the character. The only major complaint I have in the third is that I felt Drizzt kept losing and gaining swordsmanship points (no, I have no idea if that's a real thing) and while he was at some points epic as always sometimes he was beaten very easily. I guess it was more realistic than the first two books, but the precedent had already been established.
I'm not sure that I like Drizzt (there aren't really any other important recurring characters other than the cat if you read them all at once, which I actually didn't realize until now)- he's a bit too violent and tortured for my taste, but I understand and respect him, which I think is more important in a character. He spends just a little more time than is normal hugging his cat, but I guess even Dark Elves can be crazy cat ladies if they want. I liked that he didn't know what happened to his family in the end- maybe he didn't have to leave the Underdark, but he doesn't know that and I doubt he ever will. That was kind of sad.
His coming to the surface I thought wasn't handled awesomely- there are a few moments where the author deals brilliantly with his lack of knowledge ("Bring me a...limb!"), and the eye thing is consistent, but I think it could have been better. Of course, then it might have been tedious.
I'm sure by now anyone who's spent five minutes anywhere near me or anything I've written knows where I stand on the idea that GRRM kills too many characters... well, I think he could take a few lessons from this book. The characters who die are all fully-formed characters who I thought would become major characters, and then they were killed for no real purpose. Usually horribly (poor little sprite thing). I think a lot of it is that these are prequels, so any character in danger of needing to recur has to go, but since I haven't read the original three yet that's just speculation.
Anyway, in general, I found these very enjoyable, from the evils of Menzoberranzan (I don't think I spelled that right...) to weird svirfneblin (couldn't make it up if I trired) who thankfully were left behind at the end adorable small children saying "drizzit" (way to take out your aggravation with people mispronouncing his name, R.A. Salvatore...) to the weirdness of the ending (poor dog). And now that I've overloaded on parentheses, I think it's time to wrap up. Yay for fantasy novels I could stop laughing at long enough to like. I hope the next twelve are as good. :)

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Hello all,
Good news. Today I got an email from Goodreads claiming that my automatic posting should be back up. I don't know why they didn't email me when it went down, but I guess if it works now I'll forgive them.
I'm currently trying to write a 10 page paper and finish another year's worth of math in a month, so I'm not sure how many books I'll get the opportunity to read, but at least the reviews should come consistently now. And I have two books (technically four) that I've been putting off, so those should come through soon.
And I'm going to try to be better about writing long reviews. And that's about all. Thank you to anyone still reading this.

Edit: Okay, so it's posting but the paragraphing isn't coming through. I'll edit them by hand for now.
Also, look how long they are! :)

-HH

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Review of A Brother's Price


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That's Jerin, in case you were wondering. The wimpy one with long hair being carried (that other one is his sister- her hair's actually longer than it should be- not sure which one, as this scene does not actually appear, but since it can be presumed to have happened I'll let it pass).

2.8/3
I love the premise of this book, and I think that it was carried through pretty well. The author had a little too much fun at times, but with this sort of book you have to expect that. It was much darker than I thought, with a lot of... well, Jerin insists it's not rape, but it's definitely sexual harassment even if no actual sex technically occurs.
I also didn't realize how young everyone was. Jerin is FIFTEEN and he sleeps with at least... 1...2...3...4...plus that creepy lady... and those others... see that problem? He's adorably innocent until it comes to actually sleeping with someone, and then he's good. It's a bit odd.
I did like that this book wasn't about Jerin overthrowing the oppressive society or anything silly like that. It's a love story within the boundaries the author set up, and although Jerin's a bit more adventurous than most males, it's not by his choice.
What I didn't like was that having multiple wives meant he could be as unfaithful as he pleased, and luckily it would turn out to have been another one of his wives and so he's okay. He literally feels guilty right up until it's revealed to be yet another wife, and then he's fine with it. It never occurs to him that maybe it's still wrong since he didn't know about it.
The girls were also all strong characters. My major issue with this book is that while Jerin's always going on about abusive wives and sisters, all the sisters we see are perfectly loving and sweet (to their own families, at least) with the possible exception of the Brindles, who never actually appear. On the other hand, we're bombarded with the story of the possibly only abusive husband in the entire country.
But all in all, it was fun. Kind of a cute love story, if disturbing (that last sentence... ew. Don't think of the three-year-olds that way, Jerin.) I did like how much time was spent on Jerin's clothing and other people saying he was pretty while he blushed and giggled.
Of course, the entire book existed to mock the genre. So in terms of literature... meh. But it was funny, and not a bad book in its own right.
I was disappointed by the fact that no advantage was taken of their being two Eldest Whistlers at the same time. Actually, no one even mentions it. I'm just assuming the other one was there. Such a missed opportunity.

^Look! A long review! I hope someone read that.
Now, back to Drizzt... (oh. Right. I mean, back to trig.)

-HH

Friday, July 17, 2015

Some more books


Another long list of short review, sorry. I'm busy. And no one's reading this. I should possibly give up.

The Last Leaves falling, by Sarah Benwell
2.5/3
Actually, I will post the cover, because it may not look great but in the context of the book it's a great concept:
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I knew what this book was when I picked it up. I should have put it back down.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Ugly cover, not going to bother to find it and copy it. Boring, nothing new or original or good. Not sure why I read it. 2/3

Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen
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3/3
Interesting. It got very dark at the end, which I wasn't expecting. I didn't fully understand the curses, but I think that's because the jacket description was wrong and it confused me because I was trying to fit it in. A bit too many metaphors for my taste- they weren't integrated terribly well- but it wasn't badly written.

Crewel by Gennifer Albin
Ugly cover, won't make you all suffer by posting it.
2.4/3
Meh.
Actually, I'm going to rant:
Why is that kisses are absolutely meaningless in YA novels? Girls run around kissing whoever they want, and the guy is portrayed as a jerk and overly sensitive for mistakenly assuming that this meant the girl cared about them. Meanwhile, the girl runs off and sleeps with someone else. And that's okay! Silly guy who thought that maybe someone loved him. He's clearly evil.
I guess the book had a vaguely interesting premise. But it was exactly like every other YA novel in the universe. Premise isn't everything. I want PLOT. Not the same story with names and setting changed.
Also, the beginning of this book was pretty much an exact copy of The Giver...

And A Brother's Price, which was actually interesting and cool and I'll give its own review (I bought it/ had my sister buy it and everything. True dedication.)