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It's about a psychic war between good and evil immortals, but nobody wants to use the "f" word.


The Bone Clocks

Random House, 2014, 624 pages



Following a scalding row with her mother, 15-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: A sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as "the radio people", Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life. For Holly has caught the attention of a cabal of dangerous mystics - and their enemies. But her lost weekend is merely the prelude to a shocking disappearance that leaves her family irrevocably scarred. This unsolved mystery will echo through every decade of Holly's life, affecting all the people Holly loves - even the ones who are not yet born. A Cambridge scholarship boy grooming himself for wealth and influence, a conflicted father who feels alive only while reporting from occupied Iraq, a middle-aged writer mourning his exile from the bestseller list - all have a part to play in this surreal, invisible war on the margins of our world.

From the medieval Swiss Alps to the 19th-century Australian bush, from a hotel in Shanghai to a Manhattan townhouse in the near future, their stories come together in moments of everyday grace and extraordinary wonder. Rich with character and realms of possibility, The Bone Clocks is a kaleidoscopic novel that begs to be taken apart and put back together.


Maybe being too fantastical kept this one off the Man Booker shortlist.Collapse )

Also by David Mitchell: My reviews of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and Cloud Atlas.




My complete list of book reviews.
An actor impersonates a politician and becomes an interplanetary leader.


Double Star

Doubleday, 1956, 186 pages



Every stand-in dreamed of the starring role - but what actor would risk his life for the chance?

One minute, down-and-out actor Lorenzo Smythe is, as usual, in a bar, drinking away his troubles while watching his career circle the drain. Then a space pilot buys him a drink, and the next thing Smythe knows, he's shanghaied to Mars. Smythe suddenly finds himself agreeing to the most difficult role of his career: impersonating an important politician who has been kidnapped. Peace with the Martians is at stake, and failure to pull off the act could result in interplanetary war.

Smythe knows nothing of the issues concerning free interplanetary trade and equal rights for aliens and cares even less, but the handsome compensation is impossible to refuse. He soon realizes, however, that he faces a lifetime masquerade if the real politician never shows up.


He"s the politician they needed, not the politician they wanted.Collapse )

Verdict: Double Star is not Heinlein's most exciting or imaginative work, but it is a good showcase of his early style, and his talents as a writer, and is still entertaining today, less dated than some of his other early SF novels. 7/10.

Also by Robert A. Heinlein: My reviews of Have Space Suit, Will Travel, Starman Jones, I Will Fear No Evil, Farnham's Freehold, and Orphans of the Sky.




My complete list of book reviews.

Book Review: The Croning, by Laird Barron

The Children of Old Leech love us... like sweet buttery toffee.


The Croning

Night Shade Books, 2012, 320 pages



Strange things exist on the periphery of our existence, haunting us from the darkness looming beyond our firelight. Black magic, weird cults and worse things loom in the shadows. The Children of Old Leech have been with us from time immemorial. And they love us...

Donald Miller, geologist and academic, has walked along the edge of a chasm for most of his nearly eighty years, leading a charmed life between endearing absent-mindedness and sanity-shattering realization. Now, all things must converge. Donald will discover the dark secrets along the edges, unearthing savage truths about his wife Michelle, their adult twins, and all he knows and trusts. For Donald is about to stumble on the secret...

...of The Croning.


Grim and gruesome horror from a talented author.Collapse )

Also by Laird Barron: My review of The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All.




My complete list of book reviews.
A memoir by someone raised within the Church of Scientology, and how she eventually Blew.


Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape

Harper Collins, 2013, 402 pages



Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, was raised as a Scientologist but left the controversial religion in 2005. In Beyond Belief, she shares her true story of life inside the upper ranks of the sect, details her experiences as a member Sea Org - the church's highest ministry - speaks of her "disconnection" from family outside of the organization, and tells the story of her ultimate escape.

In this tell-all memoir, Jenna Miscavige Hill, a prominent critic of Scientology who now helps others leave the organization, offers an insider's profile of the beliefs, rituals, and secrets of the religion that has captured the fascination of millions, including some of Hollywood's brightest stars such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.


When you"re raised in a bubble, you don"t know what "normal" looks like.Collapse )

Verdict: Beyond Belief is an interesting inside look at a cult that still manages to exist, largely funded by rich celebrities like Tom Cruise. Jenna Miscavige Hill's story is not really very compelling beyond that inside look, but I'm glad she was able to tell it. For a more in-depth look at Scientology, I recommend Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion. 7/10.




My complete list of book reviews.
Humanity is fleeing Earth's solar system, and the Belters don't like it.


Nemesis Games

Orbit, 2015, 544 pages



A thousand worlds have opened, and the greatest land-rush in human history has begun. As wave after wave of colonists leave, the power structures of the old solar system begin to buckle.

Ships are disappearing without a trace. Private armies are being secretly formed. The sole remaining protomolecule sample is stolen. Terrorist attacks previously considered impossible bring the inner planets to their knees. The sins of the past are returning to exact a terrible price.

And as a new human order is struggling to be born in blood and fire, James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante must struggle to survive and get back to the only home they have left.


Book five of the Expanse series continues upping the ante.Collapse )

Verdict: Nemesis Games is very much part of a series — you need to know what went before, and not much is tied up in this book so you'll need to read on to follow what happens next. I am still enjoying the Expanse series and following it faithfully. This wasn't my favorite book of the series, but it wasn't a let-down either. 7/10.

Also by James S.A. Corey: My reviews of Leviathan Wakes, Caliban's War, Abaddon's Gate, and Cibola Burn.




My complete list of book reviews.
A victim of bullies makes friends with a vampire. People gonna die.


Let the Right One In

Thomas Dunne Books, 2004, 472 pages



Set in 1983, Let Me In is the horrific tale of Oskar and Eli. It begins with the grizzly discovery of the body of a teenage boy, emptied of blood. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last - revenge for all the bad things the bullies at school do to him, day after day.

While Oskar is fascinated by the murder, it is not the most important thing in his life. A new girl has moved in next door - a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s cube before, but who can solve it at once. They become friends. Then something more. But there is something wrong with her, something odd. And she only comes out at night....


Gory, icky, sleazy, and atmospheric.Collapse )

Verdict: A very good vampire story that can hold its own with the best of Stephen King, Let the Right One In is distinctly Swedish, yet doesn't lose much in the Americanized film version. Recommended if you like vampires who are a little ambiguous, but still quite dark, and you can handle a high gore quotient. The book and both of the movies deserve to be horror classics. 9/10.




My complete list of book reviews.

Book Review: Killer Within, by Jeff Gunhus

A hot FBI agent plays cat and mouse with a serial killer.


Killer Within

Thomas & Mercer, 2014, 272 pages



Serial killer Arnie Milhouse may be ready to end his thirteen-year killing spree, but he wants one last victim before leaving Annapolis - and the sexy new photographer in town promises to be his most satisfying score yet. He develops plans to seduce the mysterious Allison by luring her out to sea aboard his luxury catamaran for a secluded weekend he won't forget...and one she won't survive.

But Arnie's latest mark is more than just another pretty face. Allison McNeil has her own secret agenda, and enough insider information to connect Arnie's long string of seemingly unrelated murders. But hunting down serial killers is more than just a hobby for Allison: she's ready to face down her personal demons and take down this vicious predator once and for all.


Decent thriller with an unconvincing villain.Collapse )

Verdict: Killer Within is a decent beach or airplane read, with mediocre writing and a few overly-worn cliches. 6/10.




My complete list of book reviews.

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A very proper English butler reminisces, belatedly.


The Remains of the Day

Faber & Faber, 1988, 245 pages



The Remains of the Day is a profoundly compelling portrait of the perfect English butler and of his fading, insular world in postwar England. At the end of his three decades of service at Darlington Hall, Stevens embarks on a country drive, during which he looks back over his career to reassure himself that he has served humanity by serving "a great gentleman". But lurking in his memory are doubts about the true nature of Lord Darlington's "greatness" and graver doubts about his own faith in the man he served.


He is the very model of a modern majordomo.Collapse )

Verdict: Exquisitely written and as English as English can be, Remains of the Day won the Man Booker Prize in 1989. Beneath the surface of this polite little period piece about a fading world of English manor houses is a complex character drama and a moral fable. 9/10.


Also by Kazuo Ishiguro: My review of Never Let Me Go.




My complete list of book reviews.
Okay, here's the thing: I have not been writing lately.

There are reasons, but my non-writing life is not public, and anyway, it doesn't matter.

Finishing a fan fiction novel is not what most people might call a major life goal, but I really do want to write again, and moreover, I do feel an obligation to deliver what I promised. Of all the things that have been slipping by the wayside lately, AQ is the one that bothers me most.

I am - trying - to make some adjustments that will make writing happen again. I swear that AQATWA is not dead, that I will finish it. You all are amazingly patient, and I'm really not fishing for reassurances. But I just want you to know that while things aren't going well on the writing front right now, it's not because I have given up or lost interest.

In the meantime, people are still creating AQ fan art, which makes me both happy and guilty.

From KadinD at DeviantArt:





And another portrait by cactusfantastico: "Flagration."

Flagration
The first settlement on another planet turns into a frontier war between squatters and a big company.


Cibola Burn

Orbit, 2014, 583 pages



Enter a new frontier.

An empty apartment, a missing family, that's creepy. But this is like finding a military base with no one on it. Fighters and tanks idling on the runway with no drivers. This is bad juju. Something wrong happened here. What you should do is tell everyone to leave.

The gates have opened the way to a thousand new worlds and the rush to colonize has begun. Settlers looking for a new life stream out from humanity's home planets. Ilus, the first human colony on this vast new frontier, is being born in blood and fire.

Independent settlers stand against the overwhelming power of a corporate colony ship with only their determination, courage, and the skills learned in the long wars of home. Innocent scientists are slaughtered as they try to survey a new and alien world. The struggle on Ilus threatens to spread all the way back to Earth.

James Holden and the crew of his one small ship are sent to make peace in the midst of war and sense in the midst of chaos. But the more he looks at it, the more Holden thinks the mission was meant to fail.

And the whispers of a dead man remind him that the great galactic civilization that once stood on this land is gone. And that something killed it.


James Holden is back, still trying to do the right thing in a shitty universe.Collapse )

Also by James S.A. Corey: My reviews of Leviathan Wakes, Caliban's War, and Abaddon's Gate.




My complete list of book reviews.

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