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Intensely Focused

I'm not obsessed, I'm just intensely focued.

Currently reading

Home Improvement: Undead Edition
Charlaine Harris, Toni L.P. Kelner
Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories, Volume I
Arthur Conan Doyle
Home Improvement: Undead Edition - Charlaine Harris, Toni L.P. Kelner

A decent if not particularly memorable anthology.

Magic Rises -  Ilona Andrews

Enjoyable fluff.  

Life in a Silo

Wool  - Hugh Howey

Every time I read about a post-apocalyptic world where people live in seclusion I'm reminded of Fallout.


liked the way the society was set up. The history and structure were well thought out, as were the "pressure valves."

Play Ball!

Murder at Wrigley Field: A Mickey Rawlings Baseball Mystery - Troy Soos

I downloaded an excerpt of the first book in the series and I could have sworn the protagonist was African-American but apparently I was wrong about that.


Anyway. I thought this was a really interesting book. If you're at all interested in baseball history I'd recommend this book. It's very well researched and the plot revolves around baseball politics of the time.

Amped - Daniel H. Wilson

I really couldn't get into it. I had to force myself to finish.


I'm not sure what the problem was. It may be that the character I liked the most didn't last beyond the first few pages.


The protagonist wasn't particularly interesting and I didn't care about his problems.

It might have been more interesting if it had been a nuanced view but everything was pretty black and white.

Frost Burned - Patricia Briggs

It was well done. Characters are continuing to grow.


Ashfall - Mike Mullin

I was really impressed by the amount of detail about what would happen should the supervolcano under Yellowstone erupt. I thought it was much better than Supervolcano: Eruption.


Not only are pyroclastic bombs ejected incredible distances, but Mullin also covers the awful sound of the eruption which goes on for days. Later on he covers Silicosis and begins to cover some of the food supply problems.


I do have one minor quibble in that I think more of the roofs would have collapsed, especially if there was rain.


But generally speaking I think it was very well done.


Apparently no one has really realized yet that government help will slow in coming if it ever comes at all.


Remember all the trouble when Eyjafjallajökull erupted? Yellowstone erupting would make that look like a very minor inconvenience.


I also liked the characters and I thought the plot was believable.


It's Not What You Know, it's Who You Know

You - Austin Grossman

I think Grossman attempts to address the "as you know, Bob" problem by making his protagonist almost completely ignorant of the gaming industry. But he's out of work, it turns out he doesn't like law or couldn't cut it, I don't remember. And the friends he took a programming class with once almost a decade ago are now the heads of a major gaming company so he asks them for a job and they give him one even though he's ignorant of the industry (He either hasn't programmed or hasn't played a video game in 9 years)and was a mediocre programmer at best. It was a low level job so it's irritating but I could deal with that.


Each of the department heads gives an explanation of what it is they actually do (as you know, Bob). I agree that readers probably need some of that information, but I think the exposition could have been handled much better. Especially if Russell already knew some of it and, say, thought about what department x did. Clumsy, yes, but it wouldn't make him seem completely incompetent.


Then some of the major players leave the company and this new guy is made head of the department even though he hasn't been there very long and still has to ask everybody incredibly basic questions about how to do his job. Which is why I spent the rest of the book resenting the hell out of him and wondering why everyone in the department who had been there for any real length of time didn't immediately quit when incompetent friend of the heads of the company was promoted over them. For example, this is a man who works in the video game industry and has never heard of E3 (granted, E3 hadn't been around nearly as long when the book takes place).

Then again, it appears he's not the only incompetent one. Everyone else at E3 apparently went big and flashy which came as a total surprise to the studio. I don't know if the studio or their corporate overlords were responsible for that one but somebody in marketing dropped the ball.


The video game franchise itself sounds like a really interesting concept. The same four characters span a large number of games that go from fantasy to far out in outer space. I do see a couple problems though. One is that I think the games would have to be released in chronological order. Russell plays them in chronological order but that's after they've been released for years. Because what happens in one game affects what happens in another I think any player would have to always play a later game than the one before or else you'd create a contradictory timeline.


My other irritation are that the classes are warrior, wizard (mage), thief (rogue) and princess. One of these things is not like the others. To be fair, at the time the first game was released having a female playable character at all would have been very progressive.


Unfortunately, the four video game characters were not interesting nor was the plot itself which essentially boiled down to hunting for a bug in the code.


The realization/moral at the end is that you can't really have total immersion in a game because you're still you and you bring your own problems/prejudices/preferences along when you play a game. Which...yes. Because to do otherwise would require you to become the character and no longer be able to distinguish fantasy from reality and generally that's considered a bad thing.

A Fantasy Medley 2 - Tanya Huff, Jasper Kent, Seanan McGuire, Yanni Kuznia, Amanda Downum

I enjoyed this book. The only series in this anthology that I follow is Seanan McGuire's October Daye and I picked it up to read Tybalt's stand alone story which I thought was well done.

I liked the idea of having to choose a new name when he became king although since that was made clear until the end I kept wondering why he was called Rand.

I'd also like to know how his court moved so far. There's a story there, I'm sure.

The Demi-Monde: Winter (The Demi-Monde Saga, #) - Rod Rees I read about 50 pages and just couldn't get into it.

I usually like books that take place half in the real world and half in some kind of VR but this one didn't work for me. It may have just been too cute. It's not the Third Reich it's something that sounds very similar. (The Fourth something or other that sounds like Reich). There's random capitalization of letters within words and I think too many different concepts trying to fit into one world. Let's take notorious people from history and elements of WWII and various philosophies and mash the up. I think a straight up fusion with retention of the actual names for things might have kept me reading instead of a slightly off mishmash of things with RaNDom NamES and spEllInGs. Certainly it would be less confusing for people who know history. And maybe narrow the focus a bit.

I had it from the library and never opened it but picked it up when it was the free Friday book on B&N's site.
Sherlock Holmes: A Double Barreled Detective Story - Mark Twain

Mark Twain does Sherlock Holmes (kind of).

I was interested in the character that opened the story and for a while I wondered if the kid was going to turn out to be Sherlock Holmes. I felt sorry for the kid whose mother tried to poison him to hate.

The Holmes part of the premise certainly isn't original now and I doubt was original when Twain wrote it but it was still worth reading.

The Blue Girl - Alex Grecian The crime is interesting and I liked the references to various wedding customs/superstitions.

It might have been interesting to read a story from Pringle's point of view if we'd been given any new insight into his character or if he'd shown any depth or complexity of character. But with Pringle what you see is exactly what you get so I'm not sure why Grecian chose to make him the point of view character. It might have made sense if the point was to focus more on the victim of the crime or the crime itself but I didn't have that impression.
Chimes at Midnight - Seanan McGuire

A strong entry in the series.

We get to visit with all our favorite characters, at least briefly and I'm always a fan of political intrigue.

I am curious how things will progress in the new political landscape.

I'm also curious about Toby's relationship with her Squire. I can see neither of them wanting it to change but I'd think it might be nearly impossible for it not to.

The Compound - S.A. Bodeen

It was an interesting premise but the "surprise twist" was telegraphed well in advance at least for anyone who bothers to think about it at all.

If you're trying to repopulate the world then you don't just save your family, that's far too limited a gene pool. Even a basic knowledge of science would tell you that.

And kids as food never made any sense. Quite apart from the moral/ethical objections, it doesn't make any practical sense. For one thing they'd require food to stay alive. A lot of food. More than they could possibly provide.

There are just so many basic logic problems that the story doesn't hold up to even a cursory examination.

It's too bad because I think the premise was promising. I'd thought it might be a taken on a Fallout vault type of situation. I was hoping for a well thought out look at what it might be like to live trapped in close quarters with a small number of people for years and how that would affect people psychologically but unfortunately that was not this book.

In Sea-Salt Tears (October Daye, #5.1) - Seanan McGuire

4.5 stars.

I really liked this story.

It was wonderful to learn more about "Annie" and I really hope that her past with Elizabeth comes up with Toby at some point. I'd really like Toby and Co. to know that side of her.

I think it worked well as a short story but a part of me does wish that it would be expanded into a full novel. There's a short section on how alienated Elizabeth feels as she gets older and Annie stays the same age and I think to really feel her pain, sense that she doesn't belong in any community requires a longer piece. She sort of fits with the Selkies (which you don't see/read about) until as she gets older and she doesn't have a skin, she can probably pass for human and appear to fit in for a while while she and Annie are roughly the same age (though given the time period there would obviously be problems with that since she's part of a same-sex couple). Eventually she'd be ostracized by that community to as she appears to be increasingly older than her lover. And the fae community has never really accepted her because she's a Selkie without a skin. So by the time she's offered a skin it's not just a skin but a chance to belong somewhere again. Belong to a people/group rather than feeling like she only belongs with one person but is alienated from everyone else around her. I would have liked to see more of that, and maybe more recognition from Annie that it was a problem in the first place and the role it might have played in her decision making. Not that it ultimately would have made a difference, understandably.

I think at one point I'd known the origin of the Selkies in McGuire's world but I'd forgotten it until reading this short story.

McGuire already has a large number of irons in the fire or I'd think more about wondering if the idea of a novel version appeals to her.

I like Elizabeth a lot and I liked seeing Annie through someone else's eyes. Someone who loves her and isn't afraid of her. Though I did wonder why Annie didn't bother to make herself look a older when they were out among the mundane population if it would help Elizabeth's feeling of alienation.

And I'd also have to give some thought to how well Elizabeth knows Annie when she doesn't know who she really is. And even if she loves Annie would she love the whole person if she were allowed to know the whole person rather than this fraction she's allowed to see/person Annie's constructed? There's a whole new level of complexity to explore.

I'd definitely be interested in reading more non-Toby stories about "Annie." (Not that I don't love the Toby stories).

The Executioner's Heart (Newbury & Hobbes Investigations) - George Mann I felt this was another strong addition to the series.

I was more than a little annoyed to see Newberry's smoking Opium again. It's for a good reason, I suppose, but what was the point of cleaning him up in the last book if he's immediately going to become addicted again?

I liked the antagonist. I would have liked to see more of her, actually. I though the sections from her point of view were interesting.

I'd also like to have a case that doesn't involve the queen or a plot against the queen just for a change of pace