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JLS' Books

Cataloguer. A profession for which the ideal qualification is to know everything in the universe. I'm working on it ...

Currently reading

The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton
Jefferson Morley
When the Girls Came Out to Play: The Birth of American Sportswear
Patricia Campbell Warner
Wicked Bronze Ambition
Glen Cook
The Middle Class: A History
Lawrence James
Latvian Dreams, Knitting from Weaving Charts
Lizbeth Upitis, Joyce Williams
HTML and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide (Visual QuickStart Guides)
Bruce Hyslop, Elizabeth Castro
Teach Yourself Visually HTML5 (Teach Yourself VISUALLY (Tech))
Mike Wooldridge
The Thorne Smith Reader : Nine Novels
Thorne Smith
Practical Cataloging: AACR2, RDA and MARC21
Anne Welsh, Sue Batley
The RDA Primer: A Guide For The Occasional Cataloger
Amy Hart
A Taste of Honey - Kai Ashante Wilson

Beautifully sweet and bittersweet and oh! that ending! Completely unexpected and absolutely perfect. Kai Ashante Wilson deserves a whole second set of five stars just for throwing that impressive plot curveball.

The Wrath of Satan - Rhonda Eudaly, Julia S. Mandala, Linda L. Donahue, Dusty Rainbolt

In the immortal words of Satan herself:

 

"A bunch of lab rats hopped up on drugs could do a better job than you four. Instead of spreading famine, war, plague and death, you spread moodiness, fashion-tips, sequins and coffee stains."

 

I've always found The Four Redheads books to be fun reads and this latest instalment was certainly that.

Record of a Spaceborn Few - Becky Chambers

Her first book was amazing. Her second topped that by being amazing x 2. And now she's accomplished amazing x 3. Want to re-read it immediately, which is what I did on finishing the previous two.

The Star Witness - Andy  Hamilton
(note: the Andy Hamilton who wrote this novel is NOT the person described in the author profile … is there a way for Booklikes to differentiate between multiple authors who happen to have the same name)? THIS is the Andy Hamilton who authored "The Star Witness"
 
I've been a longtime fan of Andy Hamilton via his BBC Radio shows "Old Harry's Game" and "Revolting People", plus very fond memories of catching a few episodes of "Drop the Dead Donkey" on TV long ago. So was happy to discover that he'd written a novel and was eager to read it.
And now I'm eager to read any other novel Andy Hamilton cares to write. "The Star Witness" wasn't anything like his radio shows (which are hilarious with deeply insightful serious underlayers) not that I expected that of him … the man's too versatile to just do the same thing over and over. Instead this work had the serious front and centre with moments of snark and self-deprecating and defensive humour from the main character … a quieter form of comedy interwoven into an larger fabric of a man whose going-through-the-motions life is suddenly turned upside-down and inside-out, and how this this upheaval at first flattens him into apathy and then slowly changes him for the better. We hope. There's an ambiguous at-a-crossroads ending and good on Mr. Hamilton for doing that because, really, I like books that don't spoonfeed me all the answers and instead leave things open for speculation and interpretation.
Definitely have to re-read this with knowledge of that ending because I know it's going to change a lot of my perceptions from the first in-ignorance reading.
The Oracle Year : A Novel - Charles Soule

Most fiction about the gift/curse of prophecy focus on how/why the individual can do this, what the prophecies are, and whether or not it's possible to change the future if you know it in advance. While those themes are in "The Oracle Year", most of it doesn't matter. What pulled me into this novel and kept me interested was how different individuals and groups of people reacted to the existence of the Oracle. Greed, desperation, joy, power, love, hatred, fear, curiosity, faith, trust, mistrust, and other emotions and motivations abound as everybody perceives the possibilities differently.

 

At the end a lot of questions are still unanswered for both the characters and the reader, just like in real life. And I didn't need those answers. Because what matters in this book is what people do, not what they know.

 

P.S. I read this because I've liked Soule's storytelling in comic books, so was certainly willing to give his first novel a try. I'm now looking forward to reading his second and beyond.

Bookburners : the Complete Season Three - Mur Lafferty, Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Andrea  Phillips, Brian Francis Slattery

Bookburners continues to be an enjoyable read. The characters twist and turn and grow and reveal new secrets, Grace's change of reading matter had me braced for something having gone occultishly haywire with her, and the nod to Paul Cornell's Shadow Police series in the last episode made me laugh (that team and the Vatican crew would be one heckuva crossover)

Terminal Alliance - Jim C. Hines

I confess that if I'd only had the blurb to go by I most likely never would have read this book ... the description made it sound like a lame low-budget space movie from several decades ago (and not one of the so-bad-it's-brilliant ones like "Dark Star"). But, fortunately, it was listed in the Recommended Books column in the November issue of Galaxy's Edge with enthusiasm and a far more appealing description. And Galaxy's Edge didn't lie ... there's a very good, fun novel hiding behind that less-than-appealing blurb (I don't blame the blurb writer ... it's really not a story that's easy to describe well) and I'm certainly going to be reading volume two in the series when it's published. :-)

Guess I need to cruise through my back issues of Galaxy's Edge and see if there's any other hidden gems in the Recommended Books ...
  

Vampires of Atlantis: A Love Story - Brian M. Stableford

It was interesting reading this book right after the author's "Sheena and Other Gothic Tales". Instead of the follow-up to the longish short story "Sheena" that I was expecting, this novel turned out to be an expansion of that story into a short novel. A very good expansion, I hasten to add, and well worth reading for the extra depth and detail Stableford has added to this tale.

Fresh (to me) blood ...

Sheena and Other Gothic Tales - Brian M. Stableford

I only recently discovered Brian Stableford via his six-volume Daedalus Mission series and was impressed enough by that to want to read more of his work. Now, after reading "Sheena and Other Gothic Tales) I continue to be impressed; Stableford can obviously do a first-rate storytelling job in any genre. Every tale in this book is a different flavour of gothic and all of them are delicious.

 

Especially refreshing are the three vampire tales, just because they are not tied together but are three separate and unique takes on the notion of vampirism. Any author who can come up with one new variation on the vampire thing (and write it well) is a gem; Stableford has come up with three new variations and written them exceedingly well ... and makes gems look like cheap glass by comparison.

 

His "Vampires of Atlantis" novel is now moved to the top of my to-read list ... from the title and certain things in the blurb I suspect it's connected to the third vampire story in this anthology but I'm not going to assume or expect that as I read; I'm totally open to a fourth vampire variation if that's how it goes because I know it's going to be great either way.

 

After that I need to read everything else Stableford has ever written ... I bet even his grocery lists are enthralling.

Darkness and Dawn: The Complete Dystopian Science Fiction Masterwork - George Allan England

Interesting as an early work of survivors-of-apocalyptic-event science fiction. I heeded the introduction's warnings of racism and other obsolete period attitudes and read it as an artifact of its time. Glad I did, just to know the inspiration for later, better works of this kind.
I do confess to giggling at the repeated plot point of concrete being the ultimate indestructible building material that will last for millennia (with the cracking and flaking around the edges of my merely fifty-years-old balcony in full view)

SPOILER ALERT!

It's those little quirks ...

The Widowmaker Unleashed - Mike Resnick

Have been reading, for the first time, Mike Resnick's four-volume "Widowmaker" series over the past few days. It's entertaining, basically a space western as most of it takes place in the author's vast Inner Frontier setting.

 

But volume three, "The Widowmaker Unleashed", deserves special mention for revealing an interesting quirk of the title character: along with banking much of his bounty money for his old age/retirement (a chronic health issue changes his plans and triggers the events that are the series), the man has stashes of real paper books (he doesn't like "reading pixels") stored on various planets which he plans to send for once he settles down so he can spend his time reading them (along with gardening and birdwatching). When he buys his first house, planning to live out his remaining years there, one of the priority renovations is building bookshelves in anticipation of his collection arriving. It's impossible for me not to love a fictitious character who does that. :-)

Balance of Power: Daedalus Mission, Book Five - Brian Stableford
""Annoying paranoids isn't diplomatic. Plotting against them is downright dangerous. It confirms all their nastiest feelings.""
Giants of the Lost World: Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Monsters of South America - Donald R. Prothero

Prothero-irreverence love ...

"Sloths and armadillos and their kin are the two most familiar families of the Xenartha. The third are the anteaters, which are placed in the group Vermilingua, which means "worm tongue" in Latin. (There is no known connection to the villainous Grima Wormtongue in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.)"

And the section on the mammals with evergrowing incisors is, of course, titled "Rodents of Unusual Size" ;-)

Overall a nice little book not deep or overly detailed but one of those informative, engaging (and fun) overviews that puts the general evolution of known large South American faunas, ranging from early protomammals of Gondwana to recent mammals, birds, and reptiles, in ecological and historical perspective and serves as a guide to things to find out more about (lots of critters that don't often get a mention in the more-usually-North America/Euro-centric-with-an-occasional-dash-of-Asia palaeontology books). South American dinosaurs are included, of course, but kept in perspective (and a single chapter) as they existed for only a small percentage of the timeline covered.

Now I have a strong urge to grab my copy of Conan Doyle's "The Lost World" to re-read it ...

Awakening - Lindsay Smith

A marvelous start to the second "season" of "The Witch Who Came In From The Cold". Allies-by-circumstance are now looking at each other with suspicion for a variety of reasons. One being that there appears to be a third player in the magic game, competing with both the Ice and the Flame.

Perfect winter reading

The Snowflake: Winter's Frozen Artistry - Rachel Wing DiMatteo, Kenneth Libbrecht

Fascinating and packs a lot of info into its mere 144 (heavily illustrated) pages, thus proving that concise and plain language is a far better and efficient use of one's text space than showing off with unnecessary syllables and flowery phrases. An excellent beginner's introduction to exactly how snow crystals form and then become snowflakes or one of a myriad of other forms of particles that make up snow. Also includes instructions for capturing and "fossilizing" snowflakes to prevent them melting (hint: involves glass slides and superglue) and photography tips, plus how to make synthetic snowflakes in a chest freezer.

And the photographs! Incredible, beautiful photographs! Even if you don't read a word of this book, it's worth having just for the photographs.

Authors have created Snow Crystals.com which also contains a lot of info and gorgeous photos (some from the book). You'll never be able to look at snow the same way again.