End of the year post! As some of you know, I don't really celebrate New Years, both due to being a social hermit and just not liking it. But, why not put up a post to finish off my book review posts as an easy-to-find bookend, and also update on other things.
First, other things. I probably should have posted this earlier, but I hope everyone's had a nice holiday season, regardless of any holidays you celebrate (and if you don't celebrate any, well, I hope you enjoyed the lights and colors of other people celebrating?). I had a fairly quiet Xmas, just my Dad, Grandmother, Stepmother, and Brother having a dinner. It was good, though.
And it goes without saying (except that I'm doing so anyway) that I wish you all a Happy New Year for 2015, even if I don't expect one for myself.
Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, on to the actual update.
Not much has been going on in the TV front other than Legend of Korra finale (Which I discussed in a separate post) and The Doctor Who XMas special (which I don't feel like discussing it at length... suffice it to say it was an episode that was constantly annoying me while it was going on because of things that didn't make sense, but then they explained all of it more or less satisfactory so... I guess I kind of half-liked it? Though it's a weird kind of like. Maybe it'll rewatch better. Also, didn't especially like the ending.
What else... well, I should probably update on the cooking front.
Since I started learning to cook, I've actually cooked, in some limited sense of the word, almost every night for the last three months. A couple "grab fast food" nights and a few family occasions (and inevitable days of leftovers), and a handful of days where my brother cooked (he's busy and stressed with work and school most of the time so I don't want to ask him to do extra... so I like helping him out).
Now, mostly, it's fairly simple stuff... packaged side-dishes where you just have to pour in a pot and follow directions, frozen vegetables, and a couple times were it's something super simple "just pop it in an oven and wait" meals like frozen pizza (though I usually add mushrooms), but a fair number of meats where I actually cook... burgers and sausages being the most common, or ground beef for hamburger helper/tacos. I've also now cooked pork chops (including seasoning, searing, and then finishing in the oven), pork roast (rubbing a seasoning on it and slicing it from a larger roast) with carrots (prepared from fresh, peeled and chopped and) cooked in the juices, bacon and eggs a few different ways, and made what (if I do say so myself) was a pretty excellent meatloaf (in addition to dicing mushrooms for the loaf mix along with other ingredients, I also left three whole mushrooms in the middle as a little surprise which seemed to give it an awesome extra moistness). So I'm glad to be learning new things. And I haven't poisoned anyone yet.
But now let's go to Book Foo. As usual, reviews are usually grabbed from my Goodreads account, and unless otherwise noted don't have what I feel are significant spoilers but may include some minor information outside of the cut (and a 'back-of-the-book' summary before the cut, so if you don't like those you should probably stop reading the entry entirely right now). Finished: Exo
, by Steven Gould (Jumper, Book 4)
Millicent ('Cent') Rice is a teenager who has inherited the otherwise unique ability to teleport from her parents. She can go anywhere she's been, or anywhere she can see clearly, in the blink of an eye, and bring anything she can carry with her. So what does a girl like that do when she wants to make her mark on the world (and also needs a project to distract her from dwelling on a recent breakup)? Why, she starts her own space program, of course.
This book continues the Jumper series, which started out focusing on her father but as of the last book, Impulse changed to Cent, but despite that, and other changes, the series remains a fun and compulsively readable adventure. ( Read more...Collapse )
I do think the above problems (or near-problems) make it possibly the weakest book in the SERIES, it's only by degrees. Ideally, I'd like a bit more of an emotional punch other than the sensawunda (which, granted, is here in spades), and a more directed plot with complications, but I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and am totally on board for more. And there's plenty of room for more ( Read more...Collapse )
Whatever happens, I'll be there.Finished: Pushing Ice
, by Alastair Reynolds
When one of Saturn's moons suddenly leaves orbit and takes off for a distant star, revealing itself to be an unfathomably ancient alien starship, a nuclear-powered ice-mining ship is the only one near enough to have a chance at getting some detailed observations before it leaves the system. As they struggle to learn all they can, they soon discover that returning home may not be as simple as they thought, and begin a journey that will take them to the depths of space and time and force them to struggle just to survive. ( Read more...Collapse )
If it wasn't for the characters, this would be one of my favorites of Reynolds' books, as it probably has the most appealing (to me) central premise. As it is, it lands somewhere squarely in the middle.Finished: Ancillary Sword
, by Ann Leckie (Imperial Radch, Book 2)
(summary cut because it's slightly spoilery for the ending of the first book)( Read more...Collapse )
The quieter, lower-stakes nature of the plot is the biggest flaw, but... it's not really all that big. If that's the worst you can say about it, it's almost like you're reaching for something to say. I liked the book, I enjoyed the characters, and even the pace was pretty good. If you liked the first book, you'll probably like this one as well, but if not, there's not a lot to change your mind, either. When the third book comes out, I'll certainly be reading that as well.Finished: Maelstrom
, by Peter Watts (Rifters, Book 2)
(again cutting summary because description is slightly spoilery for book 1) ( Read more...Collapse )
Still, on the whole it's a worthy sequel, may even be better than the first (it's a hard call, since they focus on different things and either might appeal to me more when I'm in a certain mood). Finished: Infoquake
, by Daniel Louis Edelmen
Infoquake tells the story of a ruthless businessman in the far future and his attempt to do a product launch for a new technology that's going to change the world. That about describes everything that matters, which doesn't matter a lot to me. ( Read more...Collapse )
This might be somebody's ideal book, but it's not mine. There ARE some cool ideas, but I have to wade through too much stuff I'm not interested in to get to them, and the things that do interest me, they don't really get paid off in a satisfying degree. Finished: Terminal World
, by Alastair Reynolds
Terminal World is the story of Quillon, who lives in a world divided by zones, where the laws of physics are slightly different and different levels of technology work in each zone. Some zones allow only steam and clockwork contraptions, others allow circuitry and computer networks, and still others allow far beyond what Earth has today. A few zones don't even allow life, but even those that do, are optimized for those already born to it... crossing a zone boundary is hazardous, sometimes even fatal, without medication. Spearpoint is a city built on an impossibly tall spire, which contains several zones... but Quillon has to leave. For though he comes from one of the highest-technology zones, he's been in hiding in Neon Heights for years, and the people he's hiding from want him. But that's just the start of his journey, because the zones are unstable, and the whole world is at risk.
Ever since I heard about the book, I was both interested and wary. Interested, because I love the idea of different technology zones and crossing between them. This sounded a little like Vernor Vinge's Zones of Thought universe, except all mashed onto one planet. And yet, two things worried me. ( Read more...Collapse )
I would love to see Reynolds come back to this world, maybe not as a sequel (the story could continue, but it doesn't need to, my frustrations with the ending notwithstanding), but merely a different adventure using this world, for I can see plenty of stories left to tell in it. Finished: This Alien Shore
, by C.S. Friedman
The first age of spaceflight ended abruptly when it was discovered that the faster-than-light drive had side effects, altering the genetics of those who used it, which already included millions of colonists bound for different worlds. Earth shut down all travel and left the colonies isolated to survive or fall on their own, and their variants on the human form to develop into their own standards of normal. Centuries later, one of those colonies discovered a new way to travel faster-than-light, and brought together all the human worlds once more... but held a strict and complete monopoly on such travel, forcing everyone else to follow the rules of their Guild or risk being cut off from the rest of the universe. But there's a computer virus spreading which seems to be created to try and learn their secrets, infesting people's brainware and causing more than a few deaths, and the Guild must investigate it. But that's not the only thing that's going on... a teenage girl named Jamiska is on the run and doesn't know why. The subject of an experiment at a young age, she may be another key to toppling the Guild monopoly, and that makes her very valuable to all sorts of people who might not have her personal best interests at heart. But she's on her own... except for the voices in her head.
It's a complicated premise to sum up quickly (I didn't even get into significant spoiler territory), but when reading it, it's fairly easy to grasp, and the author's created a setup for her world and characters that draw you in. ( Read more...Collapse )
I rated this a three, but it's a high three, nearly a four. I'd happily read something else in this universe. It doesn't absolutely need a sequel, but there's plenty of room in this setting to explore other stories. Finished: The Human Division
, by John Scalzi (Old Man's War universe)
The Human Division takes place in the universe of Old Man's War, after the events of that trilogy, but not focusing on the main characters. Instead, it focuses on Harry Wilson, friend of John Perry from the first books, and his adventures as science adviser on a series of missions, many of which are diplomatic in nature, while meanwhile somebody, possibly somebody in the Colonial Union, seeks to sabotage diplomatic measures.
Generally speaking, this is one of those "optional safe bet" books, at least for fans. If you liked the other books in the series, you'll probably like this... but at the same time, it's not required reading by any means. ( Read more...Collapse )
Because the book seems to suffer from this lack of depth (and the series in general is not typically deep SF), the whole thing winds up feeling a little disposable... fun, mind you, but disposable fun. Like watching one of those milestone episodes of a TV series, where instead of going for big events they let the actors just have fun doing wacky stuff, and you could skip the ep if you had to... you might miss a few plot points, but nothing major. I enjoyed it. But not as much as I did the other books in the series.Finished: Leviathan Wakes
, by James S.A. Corey (Expanse, Book 1 )
Leviathan Wakes tells the story of a spaceship crew who respond to a distress call and get way over their heads, and a cop on an asteroid colony trying to find a missing girl, who may have been on the ship giving the distress call.
This is a rollicking space adventure that combines SF, noir, action, and horror, and the first book of a series that has not only become very popular, but is also being made into a TV series. And I can see why... there's a lot of neat stuff here. And yet... I also was left, just a little, underwhelmed. ( Read more...Collapse )
I did like it, and I almost gave it four stars, there was just that niggling TV-vibe that made it feel a little shallower. But I'm almost certainly going to be checking out the sequels, at least the first two or three. I'm not yet sure it's worth committing to all nine.Started: The Martian
, by Andy WeirStarted: Behemoth
, by Peter Watts (Rifters, Book 3)Started: Burning Paradise
, by Robert Charles Wilson
That makes my total list for the year:
, by Tim Pratt( Read more...Collapse )
60. Leviathan Wakes
, by James S.A. Corey (Expanse, #1)
Some stats on what I read:
This year I read 60 books.
According to Goodreads, they totalled 26676 pages, which means I read about 3 pages every hour of the year (though of course, not read that way or I'd go insane).
(Though of course, this is slightly inaccurate as I read something like a 3000 page book of short stories slowly, some in 2013, some in 2014, but since I finished in 2014, they count it there... but, whatever, close enough)
I reread 12 books (vs 48 new to me)
Number of books recieved for free (through giveaways, contests, etc, rather than just given or available free by the author): 5
Favorite Books: Echopraxia by Peter Watts, The Causal Angel but both are parts of series I really enjoyed. For completely new finds, The Newsflesh series by Mira Grant and The Last Policeman series by Ben H. Winters were nice surprises that gripped me.