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The Green Brain

The Green Brain - Frank Herbert Definitely not one of his best, but good nonetheless. If you're a fan of Frank Herbert, you know what to expect. This time, the question, "Who Rules?" is given from an ecological perspective.

Fans of Dune will see familiar themes and ideas: ecological balance, adaptation, subtlety in using language, early runs at "The Voice." It's a short book that does some interesting world-building and mystery. The ending, while some people criticize as short, makes complete sense to me if you understand the answer to the question, who rules?

Students of Frank Herbert will see some lines and ideas later in books such as Destination: Void, God Emperor of Dune, and Hellstrom's Hive.

Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 1)

Dark Lover - J.R. Ward Just not my cup of tea.

The Windup Girl

The Windup Girl - Paolo Bacigalupi The most interesting storyline, which is what the title refers to, is not the focus. Bacigalupi has 4 different storylines and some characters. None of which I could connect to or find myself caring or hating. They just existed. The plot, while an interesting hook about bio-engineering in response to various bio-plagues that effect the food chain, was not as well developed in favor of political subterfuge that just left me wondering why this won the Hugo and Nebula.

Two stars because it had a big idea.

The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream

The Alchemist - Alan R. Clarke, Paulo Coelho First time that I can remember reading a book and being this conflicted in how I feel about it.

Hellstrom's Hive

Hellstrom's Hive - Frank Herbert Admittedly, I am a Frank Herbert fanboy.

The Good: Frank is always good at the big concepts and all his trademarks are here. Focus on ecological impact, genetics, evolution of the human species. What's interesting here, as opposed to say the Dune Chronicles or the Dosadi Experiment, is the breeding/forced evolution is absolutely horrifying. I would go so far as to say this is Frank's horror novel. The breeding program and evolution of society is taken along the lines of insects, likely bees I would imagine. Thus, you get specialization and that's where the horrifying begins.

The Bad: It's a mystery that kicks into high gear with approximately 100 pages left. And that's the problem, the ending feels completely rushed. It could have easily been another 75-100 pages and I wouldn't have called it excessive.

Blade of the Immortal, Vol. 1: Blood of a Thousand

Blade of the Immortal, Volume 1: Blood of a Thousand - Hiroaki Samura Amazing storytelling, it pulls no punches, is absolutely brutal, and poses interesting moral questions.


Spin - Robert Charles Wilson Interesting speculative piece based on an even that can be neither a catastrophe nor the coming of the second age. As a sociologist, the reaction of the people involved and the news stories about what happens to society, the sociopolitical structure, was interesting and plausible (if a bit unreasonable in the lack of... collapse as it were).

H. P. Lovecraft: Tales (Library of America)

Tales (Library of America #155) - H.P. Lovecraft, Peter Straub Overall, Lovecraft can start his stories with some really interesting hooks as seen in "The Statement of Randolf Carter," "The Whisperer in Darkness," "At the Mountains of Madness," "The Thing on the Doorstep," "The Shadow out of Time," and "The Haunter of the Dark." He's good at getting you interested.

His ideas can be genuinely horrifying several fronts as is the case with "The Rats in the Wall" where ritual cannibalism seems to be an inadequate description of the horrors but something within the plausibility or "The Call of Cthulu," "The Shadow over Innsmouth," and "The Colour Out of Space" which go to the realm of supernatural/cosmic horror.

The Cthulhu Mythos and the overall ideas behind the dreaded and forbidden Necronomicon puts humanity and our own arrogance in place. I guess my only issue is too many people seem to know about the Necronomicon. His ideas are genuinely horrifying and the beings that use and abuse humanity are still horrific nearly a century after he wrote many of these stories.

I guess the real downfall are two fronts: The language is archaic, even for the time he's writing, which can make it difficult. At other times, the writing is just poor but when Lovecraft is running on all cylinders, it dark and bleak. Secondly, his racism comes out. It isn't even that he hates non-whites, he hates everyone if they are not a certain kind of white or attempting to assimilate to that social construction of whiteness.

Of the 22 stories in this compilations, the best were:
"The Outsider"
"The Rats in the Wall"
"Cool Air"
"The Call of Cthulhu"
"The Case of Charles Dexter Ward"
"The Colour Out of Space"
"The Shadow Over Innsmouth"
"The Thing on the Doorstep"
"The Shadow Out of Time"

"At the Mountains of Madness" was interesting but entirely too plodding. "The Dunwich Horror" had an interesting idea about civilized society and how precarious it is. "The Haunter in the Dark" wasn't too bad as well.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré Best of the series so far.

Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré This and Prisoner of Azkaaban are, so far, the best books of the series. Harry's development and maturity as well as flaws show clearly but are clearly interrelated. This makes for a good, well-rounded character. Dolores Umbridge was the sociopathic villain that the series needed.

I do like how Rowling has kept the mystery around why Voldemort needs Harry and how it played out. I felt a great deal of pity for Snape and can absolutely understand why he hates James Potter. However, not completely. Never hold the sins of the father against the son.

What I liked most here is the limited use of Malfoy and the fact that despite Potter being in a much worse place than where he was in Book 4 (at least half the school thinking he was an attention-seeking lunatic, being banned from Quidditch, the existence of Dolores Umbridge, and his final blow in the last book) Rowling didn't go over-the-top with Malfoy twisting the knife some more.

So obviously, this means Malfoy will be heavily featured in the next me. Great...

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré Interesting, but the entire Malfoy subplot is getting tiresome at best. Given what happened, I expect the next book to prominently feature the Malfoys. Too bad, good antagonists are characters that you can understand on some level. Them being racist scum... makes them loathsome beyond interest.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré ... Okay, so I really, really enjoyed this book...

Goddess help me, I'm losing my god damn mind.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Book 1)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré Okay, so I enjoyed the book... color me shocked. It's a nice morality tale with a bit (like the tiniest hint of a class-analysis involved) and can appeal to anyone who is singled out for being different.

Now onto Book 2.

Deadline (Newsflesh, Book 2)

Deadline - Mira Grant Wait wait wait... I have to wait a fucking year now? @Michelle Costin, I hate you.

More intelligent and well written review will follow.

Feed (Newsflesh, Book 1)

Feed - Mira Grant So I'm a teaching assistant for Social Problems as I write this review. I would assign this book to my class and tell them to give me an analysis using sociological theory on this book. Most wouldn't get it but a few would.

Fear: Fear is used by the powerful to control us. As long as we let them. But we're complicit in this... we choose fear over taking action, we choose comfort over work, we choose material security because we have to in this system. But we could rise up and change it. Rise up while you can because time is ticking short.

The Inferno (Signet Classics)

The Inferno - Dante Alighieri, John Ciardi, Archibald T. MacAllister Well... lots of symbolism. Hell, you're punished symbolically for the sins you commit on Earth. He mixes some paganism with Roman Catholicism, thus adding paganism to Roman Catholicism even more so. Outside of that, a good chunk of this book is Aligheri criticizing his political enemies and rivals. He spends more writing on Circle 8 (various forms of Fraud and Deception) as opposed to Circle 9, which is freaking TREASON of some form.

I think I wrote that institutional religion is failing today because those who run these institutions cannot connect with cultures that have evolved with templates of who and who is not a hero, good vs. evil, etc. despite their religions generally providing these templates because they fail to adequately use them. This is a fairly good example. The beginning is wonderful... but then it degenerates into the author attacking his political rivals for the most part.