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Home for Wayward Thoughts
Not really _books_ per se, but there's enough text in them that I want to mention that I'm reading them too.

Everlasting Summer: Free on Steam, it was originally in Russian, and translated into English. (This occasionally shows in the roughness of some of the writing, but not enough to fret over.) It's about an achronistic Soviet-era Pioneer camp, and the people (girls) that you meet there. The writing's a bit rough, and I found myself yelling at the protagonist's ennui and self-absorbtion at times, but I really got into it, especially over multiple play-throughs as some of the mysteries were revealed or explained. Also, the bad ends are quite bad; I found myself using a walkthrough after hitting two of them, because I just didn't want to keep feeling responsible for bad things happening to everyone.

Go! Go! Nippon!: This was a cute travelogue in modern Japan. It sort of makes me wish I knew any Japanese to try it with the Japanese text option turned on; it seems like it was probably designed to help with learning the language. Also, no bad ends!

Sakura Spirit: This was... not much there. Martial artist transported into magical feudal Japan, but despite introducing a few characters, there's no choices (well, one) along the way, and it really feels like the opening chapter to something rather than a complete story.

Katawa Shoujo: The most eroge game that I've been playing recently, it's about a school for the disabled where you end up choosing to romance one of a number of girls. It's also extremely moving and sensitive, and I'm loving it to pieces. I'm only part of the way through this one; I've done Emi's route, whom I adored, and Shizune, about whom I'm more conflicted. I'm attracted to a combative personality, but don't do well with conflict -- this is problematic. :) I'm looking forward to playing the rest; there's apparently a bonus feature for 100%-ing the game, but I don't really want to get it, because I don't want to let down any of the girls with their bad end. (I did get the protagonist's bad end once; I feel less guilty about that than I perhaps should, probably because it comes while he's still so self-pitying in Act 1.)

Current Mood: dorky dorky

Book 90: Where the Hell Were Your Parents? by Nathan Weathington. Short humorous annecdotes about an adventuresome, unsupervised boyhood in rural Georgia. Fairly funny.

Book 91: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? vol 1, by Fujino Omori. A translated Japanese light novel (with occasional illustration) about a hapless newbie adventurer. It doesn't yet appear to be an actual dating sim/visual novel, but would serve as the outline for one, down to the stat block. (This isn't a strength -- it just makes me wish I was playing it, so that I could try making different decisions.)

Book 92: Love at Fourteen, vol 1, by Fuka Mizutani. This is a great manga, about a school romance. I was going to write 'budding' there, but the tension isn't in the will they-won't they, but in the navigating the social boundries of a romantic relationship at an age where love is far more theoretical and an object of teasing among peers than a state to be desired. Also, the characters are just so cute together! I'm definitely reading the next volume when it gets here.

Book 93: The Given Sacrifice, by S. M. Stirling. Remember the Monty Python bit about the violence inherent in the system? Those are pretty much my thoughts on this book.

Book 94: Darkborn, by Alison Sinclair. This book is still great.

Book 95: How Lovely Are Thy Branches, by Diane Duane. A Young Wizards novella about a wizard tree with an oxidation kink. Also, Christmas. Certainly not a jumping-on point for the series, but I stayed up late last night to read this, enraptured the whole time. (Well, except for the bit where I was scared for Filif, but even then, I wasn't going to stop reading...)

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Book 84: Milkway Hitchhiking, Vol 1, by Sirial. A very pretty manga, almost watercolor-esque; it's a collection of stories about cats and their people.

Book 85: Masks, by E. C. Blake. Meh. I liked the idea of a magical panopticon society (well, as a setting), but the protagonist was expelled so soon that we didn't get to really see much of it, and the rest was a standard teen-ish dystopia, down to the introduction of a love triangle near the end of this volume.

Book 86: Heritage of Cyador, by L. E. Modesitt Jr. This was good. It was also very much more of the Recluse books, so it didn't grab me as much because I felt like I'd seen it before. Has he written a Recluse book with a female protagonist? That'd be interesting to see the other side of things. (Looking back, I'd forgotten 'Arms-Commander.' I'd take another of those, please.)

Book 87: Assassination Classroom, Vol 1, by Yusei Matsui. An odd little classroom teaching manga.

Books 88, 89: xxxHolic: Rei, vol 1 and 2, by Clamp. I really loved the wierd magicshop of xxxHolic, and so I've been quite enjoying the return in this manga. Not sure where it's going yet, but I'll be along for the ride.

Current Mood: tired tired

Book 77: The Dark Defiles, by Richard Morgan. An excellent conclusion to this trilogy, and some very nice reveals to go with it.

Book 78: Toad Words and Other Stories, by T. Kingfisher. A collection of short, pointed and poetic fairy tales. Excellent. (Also, a pen-name for the Hugo award-winning Ursula Vernon.)

Book 79: The Slow Regard of Silent Things, by Patrick Rothfuss. Very different from his other books, but still good. Also very sad.

Book 80: Political Order and Political Decay, by Francis Fukuyama. I didn't get as much out of this as the first book, but lots of good stuff anyway; it's a thorough examination of modern political systems that reads very well even for someone who doesn't have a lot of in-depth knowledge to begin with.

Book 81: Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie. Interesting; smaller in scope than the first novel, but still pretty good.

Book 82: Wise Man's Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss. Reread.

Book 83: Three-Body Problem, by Liu Cixin. I didn't like this one. Not sure if it's a problem of translation and unfamiliarity with Chinese literary traditions (it felt very stilted or choppy in the writing at times) or just because the Cultural Revolution didn't resonate with me the way it might for other readers. There were just a bunch of places were I didn't really enjoy the book for one reason or another. (Gravity doesn't work that way!) It's probably worth taking a look at as an example of non-US SF, but it's hard for me to actually recommend.

Current Mood: tired tired

Book 75: The Scarlet Tides, by David Hair. This turned out to be easier to get in to than I'd worried; not only did he do a good job of reintroducing everything, the characters are all very over-the-top which made it easy to tell them all apart again. I did enjoy reading this one too, and I'll be looking forward to the sequel to find out what's going to happen next to everyone. (I kind of wish there was less mcguffin, because it'd be cool if it could actually be used... but that'd also sort of break the story that he seems to be trying to tell, so I'd rather have it less an actual presence in the world.)

Book 76: Hawk, by Steven Brust. I was so excited to discover this book had come out; I've been reading Brust since high school, and loving most everything he's done. This is the latest Vlad Taltos novel, part of a series that features assassinations, romance, high magic, grand battles, revolutions, political intrigue... basically everything to love about fantasy novels. Basically, what I'm saying is that if you haven't read these books, you really, really should -- there's omnibus collections of the earlier parts of the series, too, so that you can catch up easier. This book is a big-con novel, as much as anything else; it's maybe not the best place to start, but it is (like pretty much all of these books) fairly self contained, so you could if you wanted to.

(Also, I remember complaining at one point about why hadn't anyone told me that Scott Lynch was writing awesome heist novels. This is me telling you that Steven Brust writes awesome heist novels.)


Related to my last entry, this fall it feels like there's several books I'm looking forward to because I know I enjoyed the first one, but now that they're out, I'm not sure I remember enough to actually read the next. This isn't just me, right? I've got David Hair's "Scarlet Tides" ready to read, and I'm looking at it thinking that I know I read 600 pages previously in this world, and hoping enough of it comes back that I can follow along. I've got the same feeling about several other books I've been looking at too, and just wishing I had more time to read things... Or some sort of temporally unfocused library. That'd be nice too.


Book 71: Constellation Games, by Leonard Richardson. Reread. Wanted something lighter in tone, and this was a good choice.

Book 72: Shotgun Arcana, by R. S. Belcher. This didn't grab me as much as the first book did, I think because everyone was a lot more blase about the supernatural and the wierd in this one. It felt less like a dark mystery, and more like the little family secret that no one wanted to talk about. Decent enough, but I'd hoped for better.

Book 73: Kitty and the Midnight Hour, by Carrie Vaughn. Reread; I'd wanted to catch up on later parts of the series, and wanted to be sure I'd remembered things.

Book 74: The Mirror Empire, by Kameron Hurley. This was interesting; I wish I'd liked it more. It seems like there might be some interesting politicking there, and the idea of an invasion of alternate selves could be pretty good -- but I had a combination of "don't care" and "can't remember" that meant I couldn't get into it. (Eg; I couldn't tell you a single character's name because they were all very fantasy and with very few exceptions, too hard to tell apart to retain once I'd reached the next chapter, let along after I finished the book.) The book does interesting things with gender roles, but it wasn't until the last quarter of the book that I could even tell you what happened, and I don't know if I'll have retained enough to follow what's going on when the next book comes out. This might be a series I'll have to check out once it's all finished and I can read it as a whole.



At work recently, Corporate has started doing a monthly survey for employees, of a rather random nature. I think it's because they don't understand how 'employee engagement' is supposed to work, but that's another topic.... These aren't particularly work-related questions, but just supposed to be little diversions where we pick from four provided answers. This month, the question was along the lines of 'Which minor power would you like to have?' and the most popular choice has been 'Eidetic memory' (at about 40%), which is sort of understandable. What I don't understand, though, is why there's no love for my choice, 'Never get tired.' It's barely gotten 10% of the vote, despite being, in my opinion, immensely more practically useful. (I can't even remember the other two, which says something about how interesting those choices were.)

I mean, my memory isn't exactly great, but it's functional enough, and beyond a minimum level, a better memory just doesn't do that much for you, does it? (As opposed to a pocket full of sticky notes, which seems to be my solution... *grins*) Whereas not getting tired... Granted, part of my enthusiasm for this is because depression sucks, but even apart from that, it would mean extra hours literally every day to get stuff done, of whatever stuff you had to do. Even if you still had to sleep, the additional control over the timing of your days would seem incredibly useful.

I don't know, what do you think? Why isn't this getting more love?

Current Mood: tired tired

Books 69, 70: The Siren Depths, and Stories of the Raksura, by Martha Wells. I have Crystal to thank for recently letting me know that Martha Wells had a new Raksura book out (and also reminding me that I hadn't yet read the third one somehow) so I was quite happy to pick them up, having very much enjoyed the first two. (For those who didn't read the previous books yet; shape-shifting flying humanoids and their court/clan politics, against an insidious invasive threat.) The Siren Depths was great, and it was good to see what the characters were coming up to next. I also appreciated seeing the main character continue to deal with his own personal issues, and the way they continued to color his thoughts even when he knew things were different.

I was really pleased with the Stories as well, especially because they were several novellas fleshing out a bunch of the backstory of the world. Getting a different perspective on things was great, especially The Tale of Indigo and Cloud, which while most obviously about an elaborate and rocky courtship, also made pretty clear that the Arbora (the flightless "worker" caste) were as much in charge of things as any of the flying Ariaet, just more focused on practical matters.

Anyway, if you can't tell, I'm recommending that you go out and pick up the books right away -- there's another volume of stories coming next spring, and I'm sure it'll be as much fun as the previous ones.

Current Mood: accomplished accomplished


Book 63: The Godless, by Ben Peek. Perhaps I waited a bit too long, but I didn't have much memory of this book. It's an interesting setup in world of dead gods, but it does feel very much like a setup to a longer series rather than a complete story itself. Also, I'm not sure it was gripping enough; there was only really one character that I cared much to see what happens to her, and there was't much promise of the world revealing secrets, so this is pretty much a 'meh' from me.

Book 64: The Broken Eye, by Brent Weeks. This was a very good book, as expected, but the first thing I saw on opening it was a list of books on the title page that revealed the existence of a fourth book in the series. I _really_ wanted things to wrap up here; it was a lot of fun, and as always he's got interesting tricks and turns up his sleeve for the plot to reveal. I'd gladly read a follow-up trilogy in this world, and I can't complain about this actual story at all -- I just want to meta-gripe about series bloat, I guess.

Book 65: What If?, by Randall Munroe. This was light fun; I'd already read the ones on his What If blog, but there was plenty of other interesting new questions that he played with here, and overall something I'd really recommend.

Book 66: The Winter Long, by Seanan McGuire. This is a great addition and stepping stone in the October Daye series, and gets a good payoff out of quite a few details from previous books. It's also great to see the changes (also in the last book) that are keeping things from being 'Yet another of October's adventures' that long-running series can eventually turn in to. You shouldn't start here, but it's a great reason to recommend that you start the series if you were cautious about it.

Book 67: The Grass King's Concubine, by Kari Sperring. Rereading this; it's still slow to begin, but she does a wonderful job of having things build up until I can't put it down.

Book 68: City of Stairs, by Robert Bennett. I've been seeing this recommended a lot, and I'd have to say it lives up to the hype. I don't know if I'd call it a spy story, but it's certainly got a lot of that feel to it, too.

Current Mood: pensive pensive

Ben T-Gaidin
Name: Ben T-Gaidin
Back December 2014