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.

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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