Monday, January 25, 2016

read: Shadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses Anthology (4 stars)

Shadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses AnthologyShadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses Anthology by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These are some pretty good stories. Be aware, though, that there are only four of them. The bulk of the book is for writers - first drafts, transcripts or brainstorming and critique and the like.

I haven't yet read through the supplementary material, though I've listened to a bunch of it on the Writing Excuses Podcast. Good stuff.

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Saturday, January 16, 2016

read: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore (5 stars)

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour BookstoreMr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm giving this book 5 stars, not because it's so perfect, but just because it's so fun. Also, the audio book voice performance is sensational. The story follows the misadventures of down-on-his-luck, recently laid off tech-drone Clay, who finds a job to tide him over at an odd little bookstore in San Francisco.

He doesn't understand any of the owner's weird rules for 'selling' books, nor the few odd customers that occasionally appear during his graveyard shift (and they are about the only customers). And how does the store even stay in business? Then things get mysterious and weirder and some sort of secret society is involved. Clay is thankful that he at least finally meets a girl and she's relatively sane, despite working for Google. What follows is an suspenseful adventure exploring the collision of the old knowledge of the printed word and the new digitized world and a search for balance between the two.

If you like books and stories and mysteries, you should find this one utterly charming.

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Monday, January 4, 2016

read: Last of the Independents (4 stars)

Last of the Independents (Vancouver Noir)Last of the Independents by Sam Wiebe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very solid, very hardboiled, modern detective story told in classic first-person. The author does a fine job of laying out a couple of compelling mysteries and showing the dogged determination and sometimes inventiveness of a young private eye in solving them. The detective does come across as a little too experienced and world-weary for his stated age and background. But I just visualized him as older. This is one of several rough edges exhibited by this first novel, but none detracted from the story. Very enjoyable, if you like your stories dark and gritty and your detectives morally ambiguous.

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