JL's Bibliomania

Bibliomaniac. Daughter of a Bookaholic. Wife of a Bibliovore.  Mother of 2 Bibliophiles.

 

While my first love was SF and fantasy, I read widely in YA, urban fantasy, police procedurals, and non-fiction. 

 

Also occassionally on GoodReads as J L's Bibliomania:

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8830421-j-l-s-bibliomania

and Litsy @jlsbibliomania

 

 

 

 

 

Dark Triumph (My Fair Assassin #2)

Dark Triumph - Robin LaFevers

It's been a number of years since I read Grave Mercy, the first book in the My Fair Assassin Trilogy by Robin LaFevers.  I didn't take the time to write a review, but I rated it a 4 star book. I do remember enjoying the coming-of-age story regarding assassin nuns in a fictionalized Brittany where supernatural gods/saints interact with the real world.   

 

The second book in the trilogy Dark Triumph just didn't hold my interest. On the one hand, I couldn't put it down, on the other I found myself speed-reading/skimming just to find out what happened.  I know I missed a lot of details, but I have no interest in going back to pick up what I missed.

 

I don't know how much of my opinion is due to the specific book and how much of that is due to changes in reading taste (after a number of YA heavy years I seem to be reading more traditional SF). I do think I will eventually give the last book in the trilogy a try.

Incredibles 2 Strobe Effect Warning

Thank you @veron4ica and @exigetspersonal (Tumblr) for getting the word out about the strobe effects in Incredibles 2.

 

The swift response from a major movie production house and major theater chains is  heartening.

 

 

Space Opera

Space Opera - Catherynne M. Valente

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy meets Eurovision!!!  Cool concept, right?  

 

I agree that it's a cool concept, but I can't say that I found Space Opera quite as amazeballs as some of the other reviews I've seen here at BookLikes.  Like most Saturday Night Live skits, I felt like Space Opera had one good joke that it tried to milk for just too long,

 

Perhaps the trouble is partly that I read Space Opera as an audiobook, and as such found the asides on the asides on the asides just a bit hard to follow. Or perhaps it's just that Catherynne M. Valente put a lot of energy into a writing style that I don't enjoy much (I'd previously looked at The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making  but it didn't grab my interest and Six-Gun Snow White didn't quite work for me either).

 

 

Before the Fall

Before the Fall - Noah Hawley

Several colleagues and I started an IRL book club at work four months ago.  We met at lunchtime on Thursday to discuss Before the Fall.  Marketed as a thriller with the hook “On a foggy summer night, eleven people—ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter—depart Martha's Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are the painter Scott Burroughs and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul's family.” The book follows Scott in the days immediately following the crash with flashbacks to the lives of the now-deceased passengers and crew.

 

Surprisingly, our opinion of the book was unanimous.  Pretty much everybody was intrigued by the concept of the book and hated the execution. The general feeling was that Before the Fall wasn’t suspenseful enough for the thriller designation and that the story stopped living up to the promise of the opening sequence as soon as Scott left the hospital.

 

As one of my colleagues said, this book is awash in red herrings, but rather than them being fat meaty fish that we could believe in, there’s this swarm of pink minnows darting around pallid characters. 

 

While you can’t really say anything about how the book ends, or “whodunit” without spoilers, we were dissatisfied with how the book ended and had some significant questions about the timing of certain things.

 

As an aside, while the consensus is that we are unlikely to read anything else by Mr. Hawley, we wish that Gil the security guard had survived the crash so that he could be the protagonist of his own book.

Reblogged from Lora's Rants and Reviews :

For the Tolkien fans.

May Musings

Still haven’t been feeling the urge to review as much, so here’s another quick month-end summary. I read 4 pieces of fiction and parts of 3 non-fiction books during May.

 

Fiction:

 

A is for Alibi - Sue Grafton 

 

A is for Alibi is the first book in the long-running “Alphabet Mysteries" series. While the novel was originally contemporary, it now reads as a period piece from the days before cell-phones.  While there were some wobbles, I’ve been looking for a new mystery series and I’m curious to see what kind of writer Sue Grafton matures into.  Ms. Grafton, unfortunately, died at the end of 2017.

 

Ninefox Gambit - Yoon Ha Lee 

 

Ninefox Gambit was the winner of the 2016 Locus Award as wells as being nominated for the 2017 Hugo, Nebula And Arthur C. Clarke Awards. I read Mr. Lee's first full-length novel because the sequel was nominated for the 2018 Hugo Award.  The start of Ninefox Gambit was very confusing start as you are thrown headlong into a very inventive world.  But I very much enjoyed the story once all the players were in motion. I’m likely to re-read this since I feel like I missed a lot of the nuance.

  •  
  • All Systems Red - Martha Wells 

 

I’ve been seeing  glowing reviews of All Systems Red  on my feed for a while, and was able to download the ebook for free from Tor.com in April.  The story won the 2018 Nebula Award for Best Novella. I'm glad I spent the time with Murderbot and I hope that my local library makes the sequels available.

 

The Protector's War - S.M. Stirling 

  

Meh.  See stand-alone review of the The Protector's War  

 

 

Non-Fiction:

 

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life - Ed Yong  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot  A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie - Kathryn Harkup  

 

I finally finished I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, which was the March selection from the Flat Book Society. The story of the microbiome was interesting, but for whatever reason, I found it hard to maintain the attention needed to follow Ed Yong’s well-researched summary.  I love that, while I Contain Multitudes was clearly written for a general audience, the back 20% of the book was still footnotes and citations of primary documents.

 

My IRL book-club read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for our mid-May meeting.  I’d read it several years ago as an audiobook.  I didn’t start until a week before the meeting and had finished about the first 1/3 by our discussion.  After the meeting, I just didn’t feel like taking the time to finish, so moved on to other things.

 

I read a few chapters in A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie  by Kathryn Harkup, which was the Flat Book Society selection for May.  As a non-Christie reader, I didn't find it all that compelling and chose not to finish.

 

Happy Reading!

Another SF Loss

Gardiner Dozios has died.  I never met him personally, but he helped create the SF that caught my teenage fancy. 

The Protector's War

The Protector's War - S.M. Stirling

While flawed, Dies the Fire (Emberverse Book 1), is one of my favorite post-apocalyptic novels.  The same cannot be said for the the sequel.

 

The Protector's War (Emberverse Book 2) is set 8 or 9 years after The Change re-worked the laws of nature and plunged the earth back to a semi-agrarian existence.  While it was nice to spend time with Clan MacKenzie and the Bearkiller Outfit, and I like the new characters from England, the way S.M. Stirling skips back and forth through time as he bounces between the various parties is infuriating.  The individual glorious moments that are the strength of this series was outweighed by how hard the story is to follow.

 

The Protector's War ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger, and I'll probably read A Meeting at Corvallis (Emberverse #3), which finishes the original arc about the early survivors and their nemesis The Protector of Portland, but I don't expect that I'll go much further into the 14+ books in this series any time soon.

 

 

Space Opera reading progress update: I've listened 200 out of 580 minutes.

Space Opera - Catherynne M. Valente

We haven't quite made it off planet, but the same thing keeps running through my mind:

 

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy meets EUROVISION!?!

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all, especially those who find today a struggle.

 

 

Artwork by Mari Andrew

April 2018 Roundup

Lake Silence - Anne Bishop

I read 4 books and finished 1 audiobook during April.  With one exception they were all part of a series. My favorite was the book I'd saved for Dewey's Readathon and then devoured in an afternoon and evening.

 

Lake Silence returns to the wonderful world of The Others created by Anne Bishop.  Like every other review I’ve read, I’d like to acknowledge up front that Lake Silence introduces new characters and that the denizens of the Lakeside Courtyard who we grew to love are NOT featured (Well there are a few phone calls to consult with folks from the 5-book sequence that starts with Written in Red, but they are incidental and don’t really add much to the story).  Aside from the bad-guys being a bit too obviously set up to take a fall, it was an enjoyable story.  I loved being back in this world where if you’re not good you will get eaten.  I’m very curious to see if Ms. Bishop tries to sustain a multi-book arc featuring the new characters and the hamlet of Sproing, or if currently unnamed Book #7 moves to a different place and new folks.

 

 

A Local Habitation - Seanan McGuire 

 

A Local Habitation  by Seanan McGuire is the 2nd installment in the October Daye series.  It’s a solid, “fae in California” urban fantasy, but Verity and friends in Ms. McGuire’s InCryptid series are more appealing and inventive.  I am unlikely to continue the series since there are only so many pages that fit into a year. 

 

Invisible City - Julia Dahl 

 

Invisible City by Julia Dahl

 

Standalone book reaction post.  Likely to continue the series

 

Cast In Secret - Michelle Sagara 

 

Cast In Secret  by Michelle Sagara is book 3 in the Chronicles of Elantra Series.  Fantasy by the yard, but sometimes that’s what you want for a comfort read.  Love the multi-species world.  Planning to continue the series.

 

Dune - Frank Herbert 

 

Dune by Frank Herbert, audiobook read by Orlagh Cassidy, Scott Brick, Euan Morton, and others.

               

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain

 

Dune is a classic of SF.  I remember being wowed by Dune and enthralled by the Bene Gesserit when I first read it (college age I think).  However, as I mentioned previously, my worldview has changed and Dune now sounds misogynist and dated.  I remember the sequels as being horrid and don’t intend to continue rereading the series.

 

On the non-fiction front

 

 

  • I started a re-read of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks because my IRL bookclub will be discussing it in mid-May. I hope it will be a quick read because I haven't left myself a lot of time.

 

 

And that was my month. 

 

April 2018 Dewey’s Final Thoughts

Lake Silence - Anne Bishop

I went to bed at 2 am on Saturday then went straight to work on Sunday, so I didn’t get a chance to write a closing post for Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon. 

 

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

About midnight when I had to decide whether I was going to go to bed or stay up too late to finish Lake Silence (and pay for the lack of sleep on Sunday).  Needless to say with it being Readathon, I stayed up.

 

  1. Tell us ALLLLL the books you read!

I read 1 book: Lake Silence.

 

  1. Which books would you recommend to other Read-a-thoners?

I still recommend picture books as a chance of pace for Readathon.  It’s a wonderful excuse for adults to indulge in the award-winning picture books of the year.

 

  1. What’s a really rad thing we could do during the next Read-a-thon that would make you smile?

Try to figure out how to have in-person Readathon meet-ups!

 

  1. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? Would you be interested in volunteering to help organize and prep?

Yes, I’ll be reathoning again.  I meant to sponsor a prize, perhaps I'll remember to do so in October.

More SF Award nominations

The Locus Science Fiction Foundation (aka Locus Magazine) has announced the top ten finalists in each category of the 2018 Locus Awards.

Dewey’s April 2018 Starting Line

 

I'm not actually home right now, so this post is brought to you by the magic of pre-scheduling 

 

What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

 

South Jersey (near Philadelphia)

 

Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

 

I’ve been Saving Lake Silence by Anne Bishop for today. 

 

 

Which snack are you most looking forward to?

 

As I’m not trying to get anywhere near 24-hours of reading, and we always have food around, I didn’t spend any time pre-planning food and snacks. 


Tell us a little something about yourself!

 

I should be working on camp paperwork for my sons, but instead I’m reading or hanging out online with you!

 

One of my favorite quotes is “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”  I’ve seen it attributed mostly to Groucho Marx, but also occasionally to Mark Twain.  Regardless, it's a great sentiment.

 

 

If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?

 

My plan for this read-a-thon is read less, socialize more, I’ll be spending the morning listening to a visiting scholar at my synagogue and may also head over to the local Earth Day Extravaganza for part of the early afternoon.  I really get a buzz out of the energy of so many people reading together, so I plan to spend as much or more of my time cheering other readers on as reading myself (I might even be brave and turn on Twitter for a while).

Audiobook Sync 2018 starts this week!

Free Audiobooks!  

 

While nominally aimed at a teenage audience, they don't ask for your age (just an email address).

Invisible City

Invisible City - Julia Dahl

First in a series is tough. Making the jump from journalist to novelist is tricky. 

 

Invisible City is a solidly plotted murder mystery that reads more like a police procedural than a cozy (though our main girl is a journalist not an officer of the peace).   While better than many first novels, there's plenty of room for growth.  In particular, I felt like the book was a hodge-podge of thinly veiled elements from a number of recent sensational news stories rather than being fully original. 

 

Like the main character, author Julia Dahl has a Jewish mother and a Christian father.  While it's always difficult to write about insular communities without a true in, I felt like a lot of Ms. Dahl's personification of the Ultra-Orthodox characters was built on stereotypes.

 

I'm counting this as an IRL bookclub read because Julia Dahl will be speaking in my community about book #3 in the series (released about a year ago) on Sunday.  I read Invisible City because Conviction was checked out of the Library and I wanted to have read something by the author before I went to brunch.

Currently reading

Run You Down (Rebekah Roberts Novels Book 2) by Julia Dahl
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Progress: 40%