Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Review: Head On

Head On Head On by John Scalzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second Lock In novel I've read and I enjoyed it immensely. The combination of police procedural and near-future SF worked very well, and the snappy dialogue and sharp writing made it all a great weekend read.

In Lock In we were introduced to the Hadens. Victims of an illness that leaves them fully conscious yet "locked in", unable to move independently, technology has offered a solution of sorts with the Threeps, mechanical bots the Hadens can rent or own and transfer their consciousness into the machine.

Chris Shane (and we still don't know Chris' gender...which is fabulous!) is partnered with the non-Haden but delightfully snarky Leslie Vann in the Haden Affairs division of the FBI. They're investigating the death of an athlete during a Hilketa match, a violent game only played by mechanically outfitted Hadens. As Hadens lose some of their federal benefits and protected status there's money to be made in expanding or exploiting their options, and this can result in theft, fraud...or murder.

While this is billed as a stand-alone novel, I highly recommend reading Lock In #1 first to get the full flavor of how master storyteller Scalzi spins a SF tale that's exciting, funny, and all too real.

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Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day

When I was a child, #MemorialDay meant the start of summer. Now I'm an adult and it means so much more to me because I know people who died in service to our country, fighting to protect our nation. Take a moment this weekend to reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day. Remember that the freedoms we enjoy this weekend, and all year long, to swim, to gather, to have outdoor concerts, to hike in the national parks, came at a cost. At the start of summer we should always recall those who gave their lives, the "last full measure of devotion" to keep us free.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Review: Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Our library has a program called "Sizzlers" where they take selected bestsellers and put them at the front of the circulation desk. They have a short check-out period and the idea is you can get lucky if you've been on a waiting list, or see a book you heard about.

It was the latter for me. I've seen this one on the bestseller lists for a while, as well as bookclub lists and was intrigued. Once I started reading this tale of a family torn apart--based on real events--I couldn't take my eyes away.

In the early 20th century, babies, toddlers and young children were stolen from their families in the South and resold through adoption scams. It only worked because the families they were taken from were poor, uneducated, and fighting well-bribed officials.

The novel is wrenching in its depiction of child abuse and the horrors of a criminal syndicate of kidnapping and murder targeting the most vulnerable. There's also a modern day tale of loving families as a framework, and the issues of an aging and also vulnerable population ravaged by dementia and neglect. The romance aspect almost detracts from the overall tale, and may not have been a necessary plot device, but it's handled well. I can see why this novel remains a Sizzler and a bestseller.

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Review: Frankenstein

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

This is one of those classics I've always meant to read, and finally did. It's no wonder it's been around for 200 years and is still enjoyed. Some early 19th c. novels suffer from too much exposition and not enough action, but Frankenstein delivers a philosophical polemic on what it means to be human and the dangers of science divorced from ethics, with a healthy dose of horror and gore.

Mary Shelley deserves the title Mother of Science Fiction.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Writers Alliance of Gainesville gets some TV time

The Writers Alliance of Gainesville was featured on the Ilene Silverman show, a local production that's also available on YouTube. My segment begins at 9:20, and I was darned glad I'd gotten a haircut earlier that day. Also glad I didn't have spinach in my teeth.

Anyway, check it out and discover what the North Central Florida writing community is up to these days.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Review: Someone to Care

Someone to Care Someone to Care by Mary Balogh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*Le sigh* There is no feeling quite the same as closing a book and realizing there's a happy smile on your face because you enjoyed it so much, but hated to see it end.

We need a word for it.

Mary Balogh is always one of my favorite authors, but with this fourth Westcott tale she brought me catnip: Older protagonists, second chance at love, adults with real adult problems who deal with these problems as adults do, Regency era, and interesting secondary characters.

Viola Kingsley was once known as Lady Westcott, Countess of Riverdale, until she learned her lying, dead scum of a supposed spouse was already married (See Westcott #1, Someone to Love). Now plain Miss Kingsley with three illegitimate children, and grandchildren, Viola has been trying to hold it together and rebuild her life. She thinks she's doing OK until a man from her past--Marcel Lamarr, Marquess of Dorchester--sees her alone in a country inn. Incidentally, I loved how Marcel is described as "fearfully handsome" and it becomes a running gag through the novel.

If you're not already a fan of Mary Balogh there's an extensive backlist of good series and stand-alone books to begin your journey into her writing. With Someone to Care she continues her reign as one of the top Regency writers today.

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Monday, May 07, 2018

Review: The Midnight Line

The Midnight Line The Midnight Line by Lee Child
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A classic Reacher tale, which is always a treat. There's not much more to say by Book #22. Either you're a Reacher fan, or you're not.

If you've never experienced the Jack Reacher books (and for the love of heaven, please don't think those Tom Cruise films give you the full story!!!) start with book 1 and work your way through them.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Review: Lady Of The Glen: A Novel of 17Th-Century Scotland and the Massacre of Glencoe

Lady Of The Glen: A Novel of 17Th-Century Scotland and the Massacre of Glencoe Lady Of The Glen: A Novel of 17Th-Century Scotland and the Massacre of Glencoe by Jennifer Roberson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A "Romeo and Juliet" style telling of the events leading to the massacre at Glencoe at the end of the 17th century. It's of particular interest to readers who want to know more about the Jacobite Rebellion and events that led up to the defeat at Culloden.

I read this when it was first published, and the re-read was in anticipation of a trip to the Highlands this summer, including a trek to Glencoe. Roberson does an excellent job of bringing the land and its inhabitants to life.

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