Sunshine Blogger Award

I was awarded the Sunshine Blogger Award by My Library Card Wore Out, and yes, I did get a little bit of a giggle out it. But I guess even the sun has a little dab of darkness here and there whenever it farts a bit of pent up energy into the universe.

As it goes with these fun little awards, there are rules – which I don’t always adhere to, but I expect most people do these things for fun.

  • Name drop and link to the blog of the person who nominated you.

  • Answer the eleven questions from the blogger who nominated you.

  • Nominate up to eleven wonderful bloggers and write (or borrow/steal) eleven questions for them to answer.

  • Bend said rules

And here are the questions from My Library Card Wore Out, along with my answers.

What are you currently reading and why did you choose that book?

I’m always in the middle of a few books. I’m currently listening to my very first Star Wars book, Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne. I’ve really enjoyed Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles and then a blogger friend gifted me his Star Wars book. I’m only 1 disc into it so far, but it’s a lot of fun and makes me want to rewatch the Star Wars movies. Then I’m also listening to Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest by Keira Gillett. It’s a great kid’s book that takes place in Norway and had all this mythology stuff thrown in. Trolls and the Wild Hunt! Then on the Kindle I’m also listening to Starship Grifters by Robert Kroese. The humor reminds me a little of Douglas Adams but not so over the top all the time. I’m quite enjoying that as well. Then I’m trying to eyeball read Bad Apples 2: Six Slices of Halloween Horror and The Golden Valley: The Untold Story of the Other Cultural Center of Tibet. I’ve been dealing with a lengthy illness and it leaves me greatly fatigued so my text reading is very slow.

When you were a teenager, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A biologist of one flavor or another. For awhile, it was a marine biologist. Then I was into bugs. Reptiles are cool too. Pandas – so adorable and so horribly inefficient at surviving!

There’s a massive asteroid heading your way and it is about to destroy planet Earth and you have 24 hours to live. What would you do for your last 24 hours?

Well, first I call those that I want along for the ride and tell them to get their butts over here. Then I start packing my rocketship. I’ll need food, bedding, entertainment, toilet paper, pet food, and seeds to get the grow vats started. Then the last 6 hours will probably be spent convincing people and pets to get their asses on the ship, doing the final checks and warm up, and then actually getting off the planet.

Tea or coffee?

Tea. Black orange tea is one of my favorites. Last year I tried to become a coffee person, but it tears up my stomach when I drink it straight, and so I really only like it if it’s totally froofrooed up, and then it’s not really coffee anymore, is it?

Book or movie?

Usually a book, though I do like action movies with lots of special effects on the big screen. The age of the Super Hero movie is a great thing to alive for!

You can only watch one movie for the rest of your life. What will it be and why?

That’s a tough one. I’m tempted to cheat and say The Lord of the Rings trilogy or the Firefly series including the movie Serenity. Lady in the Water is a top pick as well. Or perhaps Brick. Or Pitch Black.

You find a genie and he says that he can transport you into your favorite book. Forever. What book would it be and why?

The Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey. It’s a great mix of historical fiction and fantasy, with no small amount of quality sex thrown in.

What’s your favorite website (any subject)?

The giant panda cam at the national zoo. It feels a little voyeuristic but, hey, it’s pandas!

If you could meet any celebrity, who would you meet and why?

I think it would be great to meet Alan Dean Foster. I grew reading his scifi books and I especially love his Pip & Flinx series. From his website, it looks like he travels a lot as well, so I bet he would have lots of great stories to tell over drinks.

You can also meet any person from history, who would you choose to meet and for what reason?

Queen Elizabeth I of England. She was a ruler, and a fairly successful one, at a time when women weren’t rulers. She was also a bit more tolerant than other nations in regards to religious practices. Tho she did have a temper, so things would never be boring in her court.

You can only study one thing for the rest of your life. What would you choose to study?

Women in history. Since it has been overlooked for so long, there’s always more coming to light, so I think it will be decades, perhaps centuries before that chunk of history runs out of surprises for us.

As usual, I like to leave these things as an open mic. If you enjoy answering random questions, please join in – either in the comments or via a blog post. With that said, I will mention some blogs I enjoy following. I spend time over at The Audio Book Reviewer, where they have not only reviews but also giveaways and narrator and author interviews. Musings on Fantasia is a great place for not just chatting about books but for also writing tips/shares and such. It’s run by the author Liesel Hill, whose short story The Hatching is one of my favorites. I’m fairly new to following X+1, who has been hosting a read along of The Gentlemen Bastards series by Scott Lynch, but there’s other good stuff there too. I’ve read several of Edward Lorn’s books and I like to follow his blog as well – book reviews, darkly humorous fun stuff, sometimes commentary on current events. Fangs, Wands, & Fairy Dust is rather eclectic in book reviews, some commentary, and cool giveaways. I enjoy catching the weekly Buzz Worthy news over at Cuddlebuggery. Under My Apple Tree is also an eclectic reader/reviewer and posts pics of birds and flowers as well. For more audiobook fun check out the AudioGals and The Guilded Earlobe.

Here are my 11 questions for folks who want to play to answer: 

  1. Do you have any phobias
  2. If you were to create your own special ice cream, what would it be?
  3. Who are your favorite hero duos?
  4. What was the last thing to keep you in suspense?
  5. Do spoilers ruin the experience for you?
  6. Who is your favorite comedian?
  7. You’re about to be tossed into a post-apocalyptic world –  pick the world.
  8. If you could be a super villain, what would be your super villain name?
  9. You’re arranging a family dinner out – fancy place where you have to dress up or comfy clothes and comfort food?
  10. What are your current top 5 favorite reads?
  11. What is your favorite format (paperbook, ebook, audiobook) of reading material?

Bloggity Award and Other Stuff

Lynn over at Books & Travelling with Lynn blog recently nominated me for the Real Neat Blog award. I tend to enjoy blog awards because it forces me to be a little more personable and chatty. Plus, we all get to talk about books.

The Rules:

    • Thank and link the blogger that nominated you.
    • Answer the 7 questions that the nomination has provided you.
    • Create 7 questions for your nominees.
    • Nominate 7 other bloggers.
    • Bend said rules

1. If you could meet any author, from any time (past and present), who would that be and what would be your most pressing question?

That’s a tough one. Andre Norton (Forerunner Foray, Timetraders, etc.), Alan Dean Foster (for his Pip & Flynx series), Isaac Asimov (for his Lucky Starr series), and Anne McCaffrey (for her Dragonriders of Pern series) all an impact on me as a kid and it would be cool to get a drink with them and find out what books, authors, or artists had an impact on them.

2. Who is your absolute favorite character, ever. I know you’re probably groaning and rolling your eyes but there must be one character that springs to mind immediately – probably followed by a host of others – but, I want that first knee jerk reaction please and why!

I find that if you ask me this today, you’ll get one answer and if you ask 6 months from now, you’ll get another. I’m easily swayed by whatever I’m reading and thoroughly enjoying at the moment. Let’s go with Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only practicing wizard PI. I like how he can think out side of the box and come up with crazy polka powered T-rex zombie type solutions to messed up situations.

3. What is your favorite series out of all the books you’ve read?  The series you would recommend without hesitation.

I will always adore Jacqueline Carey’s Terre D’Ange Cycle. The epic fantasy, the alternate history, breaking so many standard tropes! However, I’m not sure I would recommend it to everyone because of the sex. I love the sex, and that’s part of what breaks so many dated, sexist standards in fantasy fiction, but is everyone ready for it? Personally, 9/10 people I recommend this series to, has enjoyed it.

4. What’s your preferred reading format, book or e-reader?

These days I do a lot of audiobooks. I dabble in other formats, but find that my deep fatigue from illness makes concentration an issue. Audiobooks are great for me because I don’t get hung up on typos, grammatical errors, large words that I once knew but now find difficult to connect meanings to, etc. The story continues with an audiobook no matter what issues the book may or may not have.

5. The book you were most looking forward to but ended up being really disappointed with?

Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel. Wow! This book was a bit of a snoozer for me. The main character that ties it all together, that everyone knows or is tied to in some manner, is pretty darn boring. I kept on with it to the end hoping it would get better. There’s plenty of interesting side characters and I liked the slower pacing than usual for the fall of modern society story. But instead the book really is about this one guy who is pretty bland.

6. Blogging – what do you love/not love – any embarrassing moments?

I love that I don’t have a schedule. I blog when I feel like it (or when I feel up to it) and can take a break from it when I don’t. I like that I have kept it small and just blog what I want to blog about and don’t try to force myself into being glitzy, trendy, or the first to post a review on the latest hot ARC. There’s plenty of blogs that do focus on those things, and I’m glad they’re out there because I read them.

So far, I haven’t done anything too embarrassing. I know my typos and such have gone up this past year while I have been sick. But in the big scheme of things, that’s rather small.

7. Most anticipated book for the remainder of 2016?

Kevin Hearne is coming out with his first epic fantasy, I think. Hooray! I really enjoy his Iron Druid Chronicles (urban fantasy). Scott Lynch may be releasing his next Gentleman Bastards book (hooray!). As far as I know, there’s no release date yet for Peace Talks by Jim Butcher. Henry Hertz & his two sons have at least 2 more kids books coming out this year – they’re always so well illustrated! Of course, the next A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin. I always look forward to something new from Jim Bernheimer. I’m hoping Domino Finn does another Sycamore Moon book. I’ve really enjoyed the first 3 Jonathan Shade urban fantasy books by Gary Jonas and I’m hoping he puts more of the series out as audiobooks. Joe Hempel does a great job narrating them.

Here’s my 7 questions:

If you could be an extra on a period piece (Outlander, Spartacus, etc.) what would it be and what would you be doing?

What makes you cringe?

What’s the most interesting gross fact you know?

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

Bonus Question: If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class about your favorite genre, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

While I will mention some favorite blogs below, I’m going to leave this open mic. If you find the questions (or my answers) amusing, feel free to chime in down in the comments or create your own blog post answering them – if you let me know you did so, I’ll swing by and check it out.

I like to visit author David Lee Summers blog for the steampunk – most definitely for the steampunk. Viviana, Enchanstress of Books is doing a lot of cool audiobook stuff this month. Broken Teepee has a fun mix of home gardening, book reviews, and info on home brewing kits and such. I’ve found Home Cooked Books by narrator Karen White to be a fun place with lots of interesting bits on what it’s like to make an audiobook. Violin in a Void is constantly expanding my world of books, and I like her focus on African authors and book blogs. Mike Powell is a photographer and he focuses on nature. I especially love his photos of herons. Evelyn Aster, who writes mostly contemporary romance (which, admittedly, is a bit outside my favorite genres), regularly posts pics of her fancy nails and her fancy drinks.

On a personal note, I haven’t been as involved as I normally am due to chronic illness. 2015 was one of the toughest years of my life and 2016 is shaping up to be as well. However, just last month I finally got a diagnosis! Hooray! Turns out I have many, many tiny blood clots throughout my lungs. Because the blood clots have been tiny, the condition didn’t present with the normal sharp pains to the chest, etc. Various scans and doctors missed it, and I was often misdiagnosed as having an asthma exacerbation. Now my doctors suspect the blood clots could have been going on as long as 2 years, with my lungs absorbing at least some of them. Because it went on so long, I have a moderately high case of pulmonary hypertension, which in turn has enlarged my heart. So, I have lots of work to do to get better and it will take many months. I’ve been on 24/7 oxygen since January and will be for at least a few more months, perhaps longer.

So, if you pinged me about something and I haven’t responded, feel free to ping me again. I’ve been hypoxic for probably about 12 months now and when your brain doesn’t have it’s regular stream of healthy oxygen, you get stupid, tired, and forgetful.

Science Fiction Villains

BernheimerConfessionsOfDListSupervillainSo today I came across this post from Two Dudes in an Attic that talks about SF villains. I just couldn’t resist making a list of my own and playing along. You should pop over to Two Dudes and see who made their list.

The Meliorare Society from Alan Dean Foster’s Flinx & Pip series – I started reading this series as a kid, probably 10 or 12. And the Meliorare Society scared me silent. They do gene splicing, experimenting on humans, etc. And when one of their pet projects gets away, they won’t stop at much in order to get their specially spliced and baked human back.

The Cylons from the 2004 Battlestar Galactica reboot – In the reboot, they look human. Not only that, they get more and more human as the series progresses, making for a complicated storyline. Still, you think you’re sleeping with a regular human, and suddenly he or she can simply give your head a good squeeze and get brain jelly for their efforts.

FahyFragmentBrain bugs from Jim Bernheimer’s Confessions of a D-List Supervillain – OK, from this title you might think the Supervillain is the one I worried about. Nope, it was the brain bugs. They fly around, attach to your neck, and then make you very susceptible to orders from whoever controls the bugs. I would hate for it to be that easy for someone to take over my life.

The Old Man of Phoenix Island, by John Dixon – He believes, truly, with the depths of his heart that he is doing the right thing. He experiments on kids who are court-ordered to his island, splicing and modifying, adding drugs, a few electronics. His certainty that he is doing it for the better of mankind left me chilled.

The Reavers from the TV series Firefly – They don’t simply kill. No, they torture, they eat, then they kill. It’s messed up.

Nearly all of the life forms found on Hender’s Isle in Warren Fahy’s Fragment – While fascinating, they all evolved to kill and eat. Yep. The island has been isolated for hundreds of thousands of years, or more. The creatures who evolved on this little speck of land have no respect for humans and their tech. Nope, they just want to paralyze, dissolve, or eat them. This was a great, chilling romp through island monsters.

MunteanuOuterDiverseThe Taurans from Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War – We never really see the Taurans, just their effects on humans. Humans have had to throw everything they have into this war for survival – mech suits, space travel, etc. The Taurans have this huge impact on human society (everything from politics to science to industry to what is for dinner) and that strikes me as a little scary.

The Vos from Nina Munteanu’s Outer Diverse – Here we have another alien race, rarely seen, that threatens genocide to the entire human race. And they have nearly accomplished it. Indeed, the few humans that are still around are spread through out a galaxy that is run by other aliens. Humans aren’t in force, they don’t rule worlds, they aren’t main contenders for anything. In fact, they are kind of the bottom of the barrel.

The Gitai from Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s All You Need Is Kill – This alien race closely resemble frogs, and they want all humans dead. While it isn’t in the book, I kept on picturing how frogs eat, essentially swallowing their meals whole. Blech! I don’t want to be defeated in battle to be swallowed, possibly still alive, by a frog.

So, what are some of your favorite villains of science fiction? Do they make you tremble? Do they make you avoid certain movies on dark and stormy nights?

 

My Book Loves of 2013

GaimanStardustHere is a post in which I gush about my favorite books of 2013. Out of the roughly 133 books I read this year, these are the ones that really stand out on reflection for one reason or another. Feel free to scroll until you see something interesting.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

A reread, and a read along. I love this book and the movie. Fantasy, a quest, coming of age. Loads of fun and happy ending.

MathesonIAmLegendI Am Legend by Richard Matheson

New-to-me author. Vampire/zombie book, but starts off 1970s California, a simple virus. Loved the science, the survivalism, the societal twist at the end.

Squatch with Turning Point
Squatch with Turning Point

Turning Point by Robert P. Snow

Murder mystery set in northern NM. Lots of fun, recognize lots of the places in the book.

CooperGhostHawkGhost Hawk by Susan Cooper

New-to-me author. A historical fiction about the early settling of America told through a Native American’s eyes. Done really well, fully engaging.

HaldemanForeverPeaceThe Forever War & Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman

New-to-me author. Great military SF. Awesome characters.

BearUndertowUndertow by Elizabeth Bear

Amphibious alien natives used as a workforce. Plus assassins. You can’t go wrong with that combination.

FremantleQueensGambitQueen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle

New-to-me author. Tudor historical fiction told from Katherine Parr’s point of view.

WatersPayingPiperPaying Piper by Ilana Waters

A children’s book, beautiful illustrations, excellent story.

Pico consented to pose with my book.
Pico consented to pose with my book.

The Shadow of the Sun by Barbara Friend Ish

This was a reread for me, and a read along. Still a damn good book even the 2nd time through, and dissecting it. High fantasy, swords & sorcery.

Smudge Cat as a book stand!
Smudge Cat as a book stand!

Shadow Chaser by Alexey Pehov

Book 2 int he series. Thieves, elves (black pointy teeth!), dwarves, gnomes, a quest.

FahyFragmentFragment by Warren Fahy

New-to-me author. A fun, modern-day beastie flick. The biologist in me loved this book.

Pico resting before dinner.
Pico resting before dinner.

The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham

New-to-me author. Epic fantasy that is different, heavy on the economics, various humanoid races.

SakurazakaAllYouNeedIsKillAll You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

New-to-me author. A short, excellent military SF with a twist.

HassonEmoticonGenerationCoverThe Emoticon Generation by Guy Hasson

New-to-me author. A fun collection of Hasson’s short stories. Some humorous, some creepy. All interesting.

ReichsBonesOfLostBones of the Lost by Kathy Reichs

New-to-me author. A later book in the series following the forensic anthropologist. Addictive.

CollingsBillyMessengerOfPowersBilly: Messenger of Powers by Michaelbrent Collings

New-to-me author. A kid’s book, but a good one. Adventure, magic, a quest. Lots of fun.

HearneHuntedHunted by Kevin Hearne

I love the whole Iron Druid series. I think I am all caught upon this series. Luke Daniels does an incredible job of narrating the books.

Pico was chasing the little green got my camera flash makes.
Pico was chasing the little green got my camera flash makes.

The Reason for Dragons by Chris Northrop and Jeff Stokely

New-to-me author. A graphic novel, modern-day, a nod to Don Quixote.

Claudie is an old, dilapidated kitty.
Claudie is an old, dilapidated kitty.

The Hero and the Crown & Sunshine by Robin McKinley

While Sunshine was a reread, The Hero and the Crown was my first read through. Both are excellent. Female leads, magic, companion war horse, and Death by Bitter Chocolate.

LynchRepublicOfThievesThe Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

The 3rd book in the Gentlemen Bastard series does not disappoint. Read this as part of a read along. Great series.

GabaldonOutlanderOutlander by Diana Gabaldon

A reread, but it had been nearly 2 decades. Excellent historical fiction with sex. Yep. Not just silly, light kissing.

Chilly day = Cat Nest (Pico, Heldig, Waffles, Smudge)
Chilly day = Cat Nest (Pico, Heldig, Waffles, Smudge)

Goblin Secrets by William Alexander

New-to-me author. This was an excellent audiobook. Kid’s book. Adventure, masks, goblins, theater.

CoorlimSkyPiratesOverLondonSky Pirates Over London by Micheal Coorlim

New-to-me author. These are fun, short stories set in a steampunk England. I’ve read 4 of the books so far and enjoyed this one the most.

ShowalterAwakenMeDarklyAwaken Me Darkly by Gena Showalter

New-to-me author. This is one of my naughty book secrets. Simple plots, fun characters, erotica element. Aliens, assassins.

Stout snuggling with the Nac Mac Feegle.
Stout snuggling with the Nac Mac Feegle.

Tiffany Aching books by Terry Pratchett (The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky)

All four were read this year as part of a read along, rereads for me. I love these books. They are my favorite Terry Pratchett novels, having a more serious bent than other Discworld books I have read.

BowmanTornFromTroyTorn from Troy by Patrick Bowman

New-to-me author. Another kid’s book and a great one for exploring Ancient Greece.

CoreyLeviathanWakesLeviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

New-to-me author. Well, I had read Daniel Abraham before this book, but Abraham writes this series with Ty Franck under the James SA Corey pen-name. Epic science fiction has never been better.

SchoonZennScarlettZenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon

New-to-me author. My inner biologist geeked out the entire time reading this YA SF.

HillTheHatchingThe Hatching by Liesel K. Hill

I know it’s a short story, but it was one of the best I read all year. Dragons. I won’t spoil it for you. Go read it.

Pico & Chupa
Pico & Chupa

Makers by Corey Doctorow

New-to-me author. Quirky, insightful, and fun. It follows these two tinkers for a few decades. Cutting-edge SF.

BensonBlackStilettoThe Black Stiletto books by Raymond Benson (The Black Stiletto, Black & White, Stars & Stripes)

New-to-me author. Addictive. 1950s superheroine, New York. Need I say more?

LornHopeForWickedHope for the Wicked by Edward Lorn

New-to-me author. I also read his Life After Dane, but I like the Larry Laughlin character quite a bit. Horror. Illegal substance level addictive.

BracewellShadowOnCrownShadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell

New-to-me author. 1001 AD Normandy, royal families. Excellent, excellent historical fiction.

Heldig will steal anyone's body heat...if they'll hold still for it.
Heldig will steal anyone’s body heat…if they’ll hold still for it.

The Wild Life of Our Bodies by Rob Dunn

New-to-me author. This nonfiction was incredibly fun. The odd, slightly embarrassing things I learned from it to sprinkle party conversations with…..

MimsHidingGladysHiding Gladys by Lee Mims

New-to-me author. A cozy murder mystery that I didn’t want to put down.

Tofu being used as a bookstand.
Tofu being used as a bookstand.

The Human Blend by Alan Dean Foster

More SF modifications for my inner biologist to geek out about. Excellent mystery, excellent SF, excellent characters.

Heldig & Tofu
Heldig & Tofu

Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan

Book 6 in the Wheel of Time series, and part of the massive read along of the series. Incredible ending to this particular book. Robert Jordan gets better with each book.

Waffles is always bathing. A very clean cat.
Waffles is always bathing. A very clean cat.

The Mongoliad by Neal Stephenson & crew

A very fun historical fiction set in the time of Genghis Khan. Luke Daniels was amazing as the narrator.

ScalziRedshirtsRedshirts by John Scalzi

Haha! A fun Star Trek parody. Wil Wheaton as the narrator was perfect!

Typical morning cat cuddle pile on the bed.
Typical morning cat cuddle pile on the bed.

The Legend of Broken by Caleb Carr

Another awesome historical fiction. Sorcerers, hunters, midgets, a pox, and a crazed ruler who needs to be taken down.

This is Heldig's 'nice kitty' face.
This is Heldig’s ‘nice kitty’ face.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

New-to-me author. This is Book 1 in the trilogy, and my favorite of the series. Steampunk, Austria, airships, a woman in disguise and in service to the crown.

I didn't catch Pico in a good mood.
I didn’t catch Pico in a good mood.

The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls

Only Jeannette Walls can pull on my emotions as she does. Modern-day tale of two sisters trying to find some stability.

Chupa and Streak with a good book makes a decent cat pile.
Chupa and Streak with a good book makes a decent cat pile.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

New-to-me author. WWII female pilots and spies. One of the best WWII books I have ever read.

IgguldenBloodOfGodsThe Blood of Gods by Conn Iggulden

The 4th book in Emperor series tells what happens after Julius Caesar fell. Excellent series.

BernheimerPrimeSuspectsJim Bernheimer books (Confessions of a D-List Supervillain, Prime Suspects, Horror, Humor, and Heroes)

New-to-me author. Uh, yeah. You might of noticed that I listened to 3 of Bernheimer’s books in ~2 weeks. Yeah, addictive. Mostly SF. Go, read, enjoy.

I meant for this to be a more dignified pic, as I so enjoyed this book, but Pico refused to put his bath on hold.
I meant for this to be a more dignified pic, as I so enjoyed this book, but Pico refused to put his bath on hold.

A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

I really should read beyond Book 2. Both Books 1 & 2 were excellent. Historical fantasy, or just straight up epic fantasy.

SilvermanGardensOfAmpheiaGardens of Ampheia by Joshua Silverman

A novella set in his Legends of Amun Ra series. Think Ancient Greece set on an alien world. Magic, armor, SF.

MunteanuOuterDiverseOuter Diverse by Nina Munteanu

New-to-me author. SF detective story. Lots of fun.

Stout wouldn't hold still for a pic!
Stout wouldn’t hold still for a pic!

The Aylesford Skull by James P. Blaylock

New-to-me author. Magic, steampunky, England, detective. Intrigued?

Toothless Waffles being used as a bookstand...again.
Toothless Waffles being used as a bookstand…again.

The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

Historical fiction, Elizabeth of York, the War of the Roses. Very good, easy to get into.

WillisBlackoutBlackout by Connie Willis

New-to-me author. Excellent time travel, WWII SF-Historical Fiction. Great characters, great plot.

AcevedoNymphosRockyFlatsThe Nymphos of Rocky Flats by Mario Acevedo

Vampire detective, nuclear weapons mill, and nymphos. Intrigued?

PoznanskyTwistedTwisted by Uvi Poznansky

A collection of her short fictions. Offers a darker twist to such things as the story of Job, working with clay, and elderly cats.

The Human Blend by Alan Dean Foster

Tofu being used as a bookstand.
Tofu being used as a bookstand.

Why I Read It: Love ADF’s work, so had to check it out.

Where I Got It: The library.

Who I Recommend This To: SF mystery buffs would have fun with this. Also, those into body mods.

Narrator: David Colacci

Publisher: Tantor Media (2010)

Length: 10 hours

Series: Book 1 Tipping Point

Author’s Page

In a world filled with body mods, things are interesting. Whispr and his buddy aren’t above a little mugging. Unfortunately, the mugging goes awry, though they did get the prosthetic hand they wanted in the first place. However, they end up chased and injured, and Whispr is separated from his buddy and on his own. Being the opportunist he is, he also took a very small metal thread off the mark. Who knows what info it holds, if anything at all.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ingrid Seastrom, so far unmodded, helps the modded and unmodded, the wealthy and the poor, the clean and the questionable alike. While paying a house call on a teen with decorative, yet infected, feathers melded to the back of her head, Seastrom finds something unusual on a scan. Easy enough to remove, she does so and takes it back to her work lab for analysis; a tiny metal thread with an indeterminate purpose.

This was a great book. The mystery was well plotted, the main characters nicely fleshed out, and the world so weird and full of life and beyond what I expected when I picked up the book. The melds were great – biotech allowing humans to meld their DNA with other critters to create temporary decorative fetishes, or full body changes like Whispr’s friend the alligator man. Of course, with any well established tech, you get those who aren’t licensed and can sell or create what you need on the street for fast cash. So there’s all sorts of crazy characters in this book. It was never a dull moment listening to this novel.

For much of the book, we follow Whispr, a once fat kid who became a fat adult, who decided he wanted to be rail thin for the rest of his life. So he made it happen with the right blend of DNA and a melder. Living on the edge of society, taking the odd job here and there, stealing and/or mugging to make ends meet, he probably isn’t the standard role model hero. But I got to know him, watched him struggle, treat his few friends decently. So I was already attached to him before we really got quality time with Dr. Seastrom, a very upstanding citizen. She’s OK too, and it was fun to watch her struggle with her own prejudices and moral quandaries of joining forces with Whispr to unravel the mystery of the metallic threads.

Set in a swampy, humid Savannah for much of the book, the world has learned to deal with a changing ecosystem. The world has heated up and plants and animals have easily moved into the expanding muggy, humid ecosystems. Many locals opt to have gills melded in or water proof skin for feet to aid in fishing or other jobs that require a long slog in the swamps on a daily basis. I really appreciated how Foster created this environment and then through in the bio tech, and that all of this influences the characters and bears upon the plot. Masterful!

The Narration: David Colacci did quite well. I enjoyed his range of male and female voices and his accents. I could definitely listen to him again.

What I Liked: Damn near everything; the tech; the environment; the modified beasties; the modified people; the mystery; at the end, I am still not sure what to make of Whispr – he’s got good and bad qualities.

What I Disliked: The ending was just a teensy abrupt. But this is easily solved by heading down to the local library to check out Book 2.

2014SFExperienceI’m participating in the awesome SF Experience hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings. Make sure to swing by and see other SF reviews and discussions.

What Others Think:

SF Site

Functional Nerds

Bill’s Book Reviews

SF Crows Nest