Status Updates

Status Updates

Main Focus: Foul Mouth 5 First Draft = 56% (100k estimate)

Side Focus: Gush (Fantasy YA) Novel, First Draft = 7% (100k estimate)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Real Review: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Link:  Steve Jobs

When looking at a biography I have a single yardstick to decide its success: did I get inside the subject's head?

Very simple.

Very hard to do perfectly.

A lot like an Apple product some would say...

Isaacson managed to do this with his "Einstein". You were with him in those pages, you could feel his playfulness, his genius, and his beliefs all in turn, be it in a Unified Theory or in pacifism--only to have those beliefs challenged by quantum and WW2. You felt Einstein, you were beside him, you understood him.

I don't think Isaacson has managed this here.

There are moments of Steve Jobs but for most of it we're left with an enigma. Indeed, for a work that had access to the subject in interview it's rather amazing that the majority of it does not rest with Jobs' view of the world but instead was stories told of others about Jobs. Why is Jobs the way he is? This question is never really answered.

There are bursts of insight and guesses directly from Isaacson about simplicity and abandonment but we never dig deep in these pages.

Besides this huge problem, there were other smaller ones. Along with not focusing on Jobs' point-of-view, the book often strayed to the story of those around him and became sidetracked by the creation of Apple products from the Mac to the iPad. Usually this is a technique to help explain the subject but here it only feels as if Isaacson was trying to fill out pages. He also does this through repetition of stories and facts (and crying and screaming galore), which gets annoying for the reader and makes one wonder if this novel was rushed through the editing phase.

Reading this, I can say I now know Apple, but I can't say I know Steve Jobs. Linked as they are, they aren't one and the same.

Not as dry as "Benjamin Franklin" yet not as impactful as "Einstein", three and a half stars.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Real Review: Infidel by Kameron Hurley



Link:  Infidel

It got better.

All the world-building and morally grey characters I loved in the first novel are just as good as before and all the problems I had with the plot are...GONE. Without having to dish out epic size awesome amounts of world-building Hurley gets to instead spend more time on fine tuning pace and plot and there's tons of pay off here. A quick, engaging, twisting read.

But don't think the world-building just went away. No, we get a whole new ride in our amusement park. Tirhan is kind of the Jerry Springer of our Bugpunkian world; it's polite, it wears a suit, and when it seems like things are getting boring in the war department it throws in a chair to spice things up. Add in some familiar refugees, some new shifter tricks, EVAL sand, and a group of rogue bel dames for plot stewing. The chair isn't even really needed for plot purposes, but it does prove Nyx can kill people with just about anything.

There are some brutal, Wow Out Loud moments in "Infidel". Go check out "God's War" if you haven't and get this one at the same time. This series is only getting better.

Four and half stars.

Real Review: Infinity Blade: Awakening by Brandon Sanderson


Don't buy this. Don't read this.

Not something you usually say atop a four star review but it's the truth. It's for your health. What we have here is a novella set between two video games and if you do read it you might get a case of what literature doctors call Acute Blue Ball-itis. It's a technical term.

Until Brandon Sanderson decides he's going to write a full novel on how the story ends, don't read it. This is the single reason I've marked it as four stars and not five stars. Other than that...it's great. I read up on the video game and all I can think is: how do you turn such a simple video game into such a deep well-developed fantasy world?

Brandon--Aww Shucks--Sanderson, that's how.

Four stars...cuz of the technical term...

Real Review: God's War by Kameron Hurley



Link:  God's War

Are you tired of farmboys?

Do you feel like if you read about another Great Evil that you might do yourself bodily harm?

Tired of swords and horsies, are you?

Good! Welcome to "God's War". There are bugs and holy wars and untypical characters inside its pages. The world Kameron Hurley creates is definitely New Weird and also in that wonderful gooey center where you can't decide if it should be called Sci-Fi or Fantasy. It has the best worldbuilding of any debut that I've read this year.

This world of bugpunk magic and boxing, of sands and war-torn wastelands, of matriarchal and patriarchal societies, of the different ways religion can turn based on the same text....of, of, of...this world held me from beginning to end. There's lots of `ofs'. There's a lot here to sink your teeth into.

The only reason I'm not giving it Five Stars and screaming "Debut of the Year" from the top of my surgically implanted lungs is that the plot was very unsure for the first hundred pages and then very all-over-the-place in the last fifty.

Still...I really liked it. I'm looking forward to the next novel in the series. Sadly I don't get to say that enough with new Spec-Fic writers. Check it out!

Four stars.

Real Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Link:  Ready Player One

I don't know if I have much to add that hasn't been said by the bijillion reviews this book has gotten. I'll just agree that I come down on the side of those who very much enjoyed the read for the great nostalgia popcorn that it was. "Ready Player One" is "Night at the Museum" for geeks, especially 80s geeks. I myself am more of a 90s geek but the five-year-old in me remembers some of the other awesomeness that happened to him. Though I must admit the novel lacked in shoulderpads and some of the other...bad parts...of the 80s.

Writing wise...you aren't going to be wowed. It's extremely didactic, the characters and plot go as you expect them to. "Ready Player One" lightly touches on some issues like over-population, corporation control, and internet alter-egos, but all of it is only the merest touch before we get back to all the "War Games" and "Monty Python" quotes. Boy might also get girl...or maybe boy might also get 40-year-old guy living in mother's basement as the joke is told and retold.

Don't expect high art; read fast and don't look behind you, Don't Panic, and you'll probably have a good time with this one.

Three and a half stars.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Real Review: One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire



Link:  One Salt Sea

There comes a point in every series where so many things have happened to get us here that the author just needs to trust the reader to remember or know some little fact without the info-dump. I'm pretty sure we've reached it with the October Daye books.

This could have been a good novel in the series...but there was just way too much info-dumping. Info-dumping about previous plots, info-dumping about character relations, info-dumping about magic, and info-dumping about the different types of fae. That's some serious dump...

Take away that big dumpy problem and "One Salt Sea" is good if not the best we've seen from the series. The plot was interesting, I liked it. A war...a new bunch of fae and kingdoms to check out. Saltmist has potential going forward... Characters? Kind of blah. I mean...same good stuff as we've seen before: Toby visiting the same places, calling the same people. But she's Toby and you got to love her gumption. I don't like Conner, never have liked Conner, and think he's probably 99.999% responsible for the blah.

A good outing dragged down by info-dumps, below the highpoint of "Late Eclipses".

Three stars.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

FYI, Little King Henry is Free On Amazon

"Little King Henry" joins "Prime Pickings" to be free on Amazon.  Generally these things run for about a month from what I understand, so get them while you can.  "Prime Pickings" should just about be up.

Little King Henry by Richard Raley on Amazon
Prime Pickings by Richard Raley on Amazon

Real Review: Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence




Here we have another "Debut of the Year". Fantasy publishers...please stop with that promotional tactic; I'll speak for the whole fanbase: we're sick of it. We don't believe you anymore. Too many of them have turned out disappointing or just outright bad. How about you let us decide what novel is the "Debut of the Year" and stop telling us?

/off of soapbox.

Is "Prince of Thorns" thee one? The "Debut of the Year"? Does Mark Lawrence get a cookie?

No...

Is "Prince of Thorns" good?

Yeah, kind of...

It had some things I didn't like: the age of the main character just isn't believable and seemed like it was there for cheap shock value. It believes that GRITTY IS GOOD, but gritty is neither good nor bad, it's only gritty. As always with a novel using two stories at two different times you have to be sure that both of them are equally good or else the reader will skim...I skimmed the flashbacks here.

It had some things I liked: the world was a future Earth screwed back into a medieval world by catastrophe. I'm always a sucker for those tales and some of the stuff here was pretty good.

It had some things I didn't like about the things I liked: the priests speaking Latin of all languages...the world being so easily medieval instead of even more of a mix than Lawrence showed us.

It had some things I liked about the things I didn't like: despite the age thing I routed for Jorg because as awful as he is...the antagonists are worse.

So no, not DOTY, but not bad.

3 stars.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Real Review: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

Link:  Ghost Story


I'm going to admit something most Dresden fans will disagree with.

I didn't really enjoy "Changes".

Wait, wait...stop sharpening the pitchforks, put up your tar, unpluck your chicken's feathers. There was just TOO much action. There was no moment for a break, no moment for the characters to think or grow or talk about anything. Action scene after action scene after action scene. There have been some good ones over the years, but they aren't my favorite part of Dresden.

What makes Dresden so good isn't the Five Goblin fights, it's the character moments. Which is why most of "Ghost Story" was such a nice change of pace for me. We finally got to see the effects of the "Changes"; we finally got to have a breath...to relax, to let the characters have a moment to reposition themselves in relation to each other. I won't spoiler, but I liked some of the new combos and directions the characters are taking.

This doesn't make "Ghost Story" perfect, in fact I was pretty bummed when it moved from breathing into full on fight mode as a climax to the novel's villain. The end of "Ghost Story" has to have two of the more corny scenes in the entire series. I think I could have done without the whole world-under-threat storyline. It felt like a side problem to Harry's life.

Three and half stars and give the curve...because as always: I want to read the next one.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Asylum Map

I don't feel like it's really needed but some asked for it and here is a ultra quick paint.net created map of the Asylum grounds.  Not to scale or anything, but you get the idea where the buildings/areas are at.

Click to Enlarge