Category: Books

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Book Review: Affliction by Laurell K. Hamilton

This review contains spoilers for the first 21 Anita Blake novels.

You’d think after 22 books, most of which made the New York Times bestseller list, that editors would swoop in and get a very popular author to fix some of the stuff that’s… let’s say “not optimal”… about her writing.

You’d be wrong.

I just recently finished Affliction, the latest Anita Blake novel by Laurell K. Hamilton, and while it had a lot of really good action sequences, some of the problems that plague the other tales are just as evident in this one.

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Book Review: Dodger by Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett is well-known in the world of genre writing mostly for his Discworld series. However, in the decades he’s been active, Pratchett has written several different stories outside of the Discworld. The latest is Dodger, a historical fantasy with all the charm of Discworld and none of the thousands of pages of background a new Discworld reader might need.

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Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman’s new novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane is ostensibly his first novel for adults in eight years. Though, to my mind, I don’t classify it strictly as such. I think the point of view was the issue — told through the eyes of a man remembering what life was like when he was a seven-year-old boy. Never let it be said that Gaiman makes things easy for his readers. (And that’s a good thing.)

It was a good book. Just, hard to explain in one short teaser paragraph. Here — read on.

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Book Review: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

In this age of smartphones, tablets, personal electronic devices, and connected TV, it’s nice to see children reading a book or two every now and then. Maybe the book is on an electronic device, but at least it’s a book, right?

My daughter is six. She’s very bright. I determined that she was old enough for me to read her one of my very favorite books growing up, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. We finally finished it last week.

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Book Review: Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

The very first superhero fiction I ever saw was the old Lynda Carter Wonder Woman show. The very first superhero fiction I ever read was a four-book series of Superman’s origins, written for kids*. I’ve been consuming superhero media for pretty much my entire life, and I’m always interested in how creators address the various superhero topics. I’ve even written a superhero novel of my own (it’s not published yet, but I’m working on that).

So, as a fan of superhero stuff, I’ve been aware of Austin Grossman’s Soon I Will Be Invincible for quite some time. I got an electronic copy of it about a year ago and really wanted to read it, but I’ve been busy. Lots of books to read.

Until now.

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Book Review: The Mirage by Matt Ruff

Alternate history, by its very nature, is one of the most easily-ploughable fields in genre fiction because literally all one must do is change a single historical event and then logically extrapolate the repercussions. Harry Turtledove has made a career out of doing this.

Sometimes, though, alternate history doesn’t require telling the reader what the crisis point was that got changed. Sometimes, the reader just needs to know things are different. And that’s where The Mirage by Matt Ruff begins.

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Book Review: This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It by David Wong

Warning: this review contains spoilers for both the book and filmed versions of John Dies at the End. And, I mean, like in the first paragraph. So, be warned.

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While the character of John does indeed die in David Wong’s first book, John Dies at the End, when I got to the final page of the book I was rather surprised to learn that he survived the entire novel. Good thing, too, because without John, Dave and Amy and the rest of the town of Undisclosed certainly wouldn’t have survived the events of Wong’s second novel, This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It.

No, really. That’s the title. And it’s an accurate one at that.

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Book Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is an author who needs no introduction. From his graphic novel work with Sandman to his screenplays, from his amazing American Gods to his also-amazing but perhaps less-known-about (by American audiences) Neverwhere, Gaiman is known throughout the spec-fic world as a prolific author and a pretty nice guy to meet.

I was going to say something like “but not everyone knows Gaiman’s work as a children’s and young-adult author”, but that wouldn’t be accurate. So instead I’ll cut this intro short and just tell you I’m reviewing Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.

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Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Every now and then, a book comes along with a great premise and solid execution that a lot of people like and recommend with great gusto. Ready Player One by Ernest Kline is such a book. And it is good — very good — except for the places where it can’t get out of its own way fast enough.

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Book Review: John Dies at the End by David Wong

When I was a kid, I used to read Mad Magazine. My local grocery store carried it. I also noticed there was a competitor to Mad called Cracked, and I started buying that as well. The age of magazines eventually passed into relative obscurity, and the magazines themselves had to change or die. I don’t see much from Mad anymore, but Cracked seems to have survived the digital transition to become a website that lives in my RSS feeds and that makes me laugh every day.

So when Cracked.com senior editor David Wong released a novel called John Dies at the End, I knew it was fairly likely that I’d enjoy reading it. Thing is, I never got around to it, not until the filmed version was available on demand. I decided it would be best to read the book first.

And then I spent four days trying to figure out how to write the review.

(Warning: this review contains mature language.)