Blood Lines by Eileen Wilks

Read  April 2018
Recommended for fans of urban fantasy, Kate Daniels
★    ★   ★   ★   

I can’t imagine why I dropped this series. Actually, I can: while I waiting for Wilks to write the next book, I broke up with urban fantasy. But we’re back together now, and spurred on by friends Mimi and Milda, I’ve restarted this series.

This book went down like a yummy dessert. Packed with flavor, it deals with demon attacks and the outfall, particularly with a local Washington D.C. wolfpack. Lily and Rule are in D.C., Lily as she goes through mandatory FBI training, and Rule as he continues working for the passage of a lupi citizenship bill. One night as they are leaving a choir concert, Rule is attacked by a demon. At the same time, Cynna the magic Finder becomes aware of a surge of magical energy. Lupi and sorcerer Cullen is off looking for dragons, but ends up fighting off his own demon attack. Viewpoint jumps around the four of them, but I’d say primarily Cynna and Lily.

I didn’t really mean to finish in one afternoon, but that’s certainly what happened. particularly as the midwest was in a late-spring snow blip (what climate change?). The action was interesting and purposeful, accompanied by world-building and problem solving. Relationship insecurities between Lily and Rule have improved, but were unfortunately transferred over to Cynna and Cullen. There were, perhaps, a couple of problems, namely with the ultimate purpose/goal of the demons, but I thought I understood what Wilks was trying to do, even as I might have suggested some tweaks. I was also a little displeased by her chosen direction for Cynna, particularly given her magical experience/expertise (her refusal to acknowledge a couple of magical situations).

I think people who enjoy Ilona Andrews might very well enjoy this series. Oh, they are, of course, seemingly different on the surface. Kate Daniels lives in a post-semi-apocalyptic Atlanta that is only partly recognizable, as it is influenced by magic. The world in ‘The World of the Lupi’ is more like Anita Blake’s world–shapeshifters have come out of the closet and are in the process of gaining full citizenship, Wiccan covens are a magical thing, and the FBI employs people who can tell what your magic is with a touch. Kate Daniels is the narrator and main focus of her books, and off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other viewpoints in the main novels. In Wilk’s series, the narrative is third person, but is shared between different characters of the book, an ensemble cast view.

But they are similar where it counts: competent, strong heroines that do not resort to emotional manipulation to get their way and who have a strong streak of independence. A clearly well-thought out world, with the sense that stranger things are always around the corner. Plots that do not rely on the main characters hiding something or forgetting to share something. Steady action, both magical and physical. An affection for cats.

At the moment, I think I’m skipping the next, taking place as it does in Faerie. That’s just me, though, and my reaction to the ‘parallel worlds’ construction–I read way too much fantasy in the 80s that relied on it.

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Mortal Danger by Eileen Wilks

Read  April 2018
Recommended for fans of urban fantasy
★    ★   ★   1/2

I’m going to shamelessly borrow a technique from my friend and buddy-reader, Mimi, and shorthand this as:

‘The one where Lily becomes two people, visits Dis with Rule and an annoying demon, and meets Cynna. Also, dragons.’

First read in somewhen between published date of 2005 and 2010, when I entered a trial break-up with urban fantasy. There was much that I didn’t remember, but I did recall the journey to another realm and dragons. Interestingly, the part about dragons that I thought I remembered, however, is probably in the next book. My memory for these things is so non-specific. At any rate, Mortal Danger is faster paced, having relied on the initial book, Tempting Danger, for most of the political world-building. Never fear, however–there’s more to learn for all of us, including the main characters.

It opens with Lily at her sister’s infamous wedding, where Lily is discovered unconscious in the bathroom, likely as the result of some kind of demon contact. Rule and Lily meet up with the witch from the FBI Special Ops and are introduced to Cynna, a ‘Finder,’ who just happens to have had a fling with Rule a few years back. This is also when Lily realizes Rule is much older than her, the lupi having longer lifespans. Relationship drama is a touch-and-go plot device for me, heavy on the ‘go,’ so it’s almost a relief when the team confronts the staff and staff-holder and Rule disappears.

“But she wasn’t asking questions. Questions were Lily’s way of sorting the world into shapes she could deal with, and she’d been tossed some pretty odd curves in the past few hours.”

It gets a little odd at that point, and safe to say that it’s definitely not your average paranormal at that point. In fact, this one barely qualifies as ‘paranormal’ in my book, primarily only because the relationship between Lily and Rule is quite central to the plot(s). I did enjoy the dragons, but I felt Wilks was a bit weak in her plotting of external events happening over in Dis. Specifically (general spoilers),<spoiler> the demon-dragon politics and the intention of the dragons are with the little refuge group, especially when it seems there is dissension in the dragon ranks.</spoiler> This book ends up giving a solid and needful push forward in Lily and Rule’s relationship that should help minimize some of the basic insecurity and independence issues Lily has. That’s what I hope, at least.

“As gracefully as dandelion fluff, that great body drifted to the ground near the cliff ’s edge.”

I thought the writing quite good, with rarely a phrasing or process that tripped me up mentally. In fact, I’d say there were moments that shone. Verdict? If you still enjoy reading urban fantasy with an ‘out’ supernatural approach and paranormal elements, you could do far worse than this series. Yes, the next one is on the way from the library.


Thanks to Mimi for the kick-in-the-pants buddy read.  My vague memories might have won out otherwise 🙂

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Apocalypse Nyx by Kameron Hurley

Read  April 2018
Recommended for fans of Bel Dame, unusual fantasy
★    ★   ★   ★

 Apocalypse Nyx is a group of five shorter works about Nyx and her team of misfits from Hurley’s Bel Dame series that begins with God’s War. ‘The Body Project’ and ‘The Heart is Eaten Last” seem novella length (my ARC does not do word count) accounting for 57% of the book, and as such, provide the most detail about the Bel Dame universe.

It’s a complicated, fascinating place, made up of insect technology, semi-mystical body part repair and replacement, and shapeshifters. The state Nyx is from, Nasheen, is matriarchal although at least one of the neighboring states is not. The culture is heavily influenced by the war between Nasheen and the neighboring state of Chenja, which has been going on for decades and impacts every facet of Nasheen life. I suspect Hurley of using it to explore themes of loss, anger, post-traumatic stress disorder and the resulting dysfunction. Nyx is the protagonist of the series, but is painfully hard to like. The Chenjan magician, Rhys, acts as a moral and ethical compass, but would be easier to listen to if Nyx didn’t have such a talent for pulling success out of disaster.

“The Body Project”

Nyx and Rhys are on a bounty hunt when they find a headless body on the street, the head magically swinging six stories above. It turns out she recognizes him, a man who used to be with her squad when she was at the war front.

“We’re here for a parole violator, not a deserter,” Rhys said, paging through the slick green papers of his little book of bounty contracts. “Should I update Taite on the delay?” “Not yet,” she said… she wasn’t sure how deep this was going to get yet, and didn’t want to involve any more people than she had to until she understood why a good man who died a thousand miles from here lay mutilated on the streets of Bahora.”

“The Heart is Eaten Last”

It has been two years since Rhys joined the team and Nyx finds herself taking a job for a lovely woman whose family’s weapon plants are being sabotaged. The woman fears it may be a bel dame behind it. The team needs to work with a shifter and finds Khos.

“He hated her, so why did it hurt to see her get what she deserved? This was the life she’d chosen. And she would keep choosing it. She would come home every day bloody and drunk and spouting nonsense. Resigning was the only way to be free of her. Distance was the only way he could get himself to stop caring.”


The team is looking for some technology that seems to be hidden in dead bodies when they meet Abdiel, a mechanic, who is researching the location of the soul. Their search takes them to the war front.

“Crossroads at Jannah”

This job is finding some bugs used to store data that have been disposed of in an acid lake. A quick little story, it epitomizes the approach Nyx has to her jobs and her team.

“Paint Red”

Everyone gets a day off, even Nyx. Too bad her day off repaying an old favor turns out even worse than a day with her normal team. The job is finding some tech at a parrot temple. Another harsh slice of Nasheenian reality.


Nyx is hard to like, but a interesting character in a complex world. Those looking for sympathetic mains would be better off looking elsewhere. These are definitely of the dark fantasy variety. I suspect these stories would work best for those who are already familiar with the Bel Dame universe and the complexities of the team’s relationships.



In full disclosure, I had read two of these stories earlier as part of Hurley’s Patreon rewards.

Many thanks, as always, to Tachyon Publications and NetGalley.


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The Sentry by Robert Crais

Read  April 2018
Recommended for thrills
★    ★   ★   ★

“Button’s face was blank as Pike approached, but a deep line cut Futardo’s brow. Pike wondered what she was thinking. Button’s jacket was already off in anticipation of the coming heat, and his hands were in his pockets. He didn’t take them out to shake. Instead, he nodded toward the canal. “There you go.” Pike looked, and in that moment he realized all his assumptions were wrong.”

I think this could be my favorite Joe Pike yet. It begins with a torture scene as Hurricane Katrina rages, and it’s clear within a couple of pages that the torturer is in an actively schizophrenic phase. For me, it was a truly awful way to begin a book, and I only managed to make it another chapter before setting it down with serious doubts about continuing. Once again, let this be a lesson: though Crais may write at the borders of mystery and thriller, he is still able to avoid many of the crutches that irritate me so about the genre. I came back to it a couple weeks later and finished in two days, really enjoying the pace and the twists in the story.

Joe stops for gas and witnesses some homies purposefully walking down a street into a po’boy sandwich shop. Joe assists, and in the process meets the owner’s niece, Dru. Joe is quite taken with her “smart eyes,” (which was adorable) and offers his help. There’s plenty of action, but almost as much problem solving, which made a nice plot balance.

“Pike stepped into the first bay and spotted the man from the Monte Carlo in an office at the rear of the building. He was in front of a television with his back to the door. The Dodgers were playing a day game. Pike checked to see that the other two men were still struggling with the fender, then slipped toward the office as silently as a fish gliding through water.”

Crais has moved away from some of the staccato style that characterized the first Pike book and let himself lapse back into his more sophisticated writing to describe Pike’s thoughts and actions. We still don’t know very much about how Pike feels, but I’d argue that’s because Pike doesn’t know either. There’s a little more complexity in the relationships, and Crais doesn’t go to the easy narrative places that he’s been before in the series, such as when Pike is briefly under suspicion by the police, or when he is talking with a community activist. I appreciate that. Overall, an extremely solid book for #14 in a series (and #3 in the Pike sub-series).

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The Black Parade by Kyoko M.

Read  April 2018
Recommended for fans of paranormal and angels
★    ★  

carol.’s guideline for identifying sub-optimal YA books:

1) Everyone is supermodel attractive, even the villains.
2) They all ‘smirk.’ (I believe there’s over 20 instances in this one).


I don’t really like to leave a less than raving review on a new author’s work, but since there isn’t much out there, I’ll share my thoughts. Though this does fall into paranormal territory, I picked it up because Ilona Andrews raved about it on a blog post. Of course, Andrews also recommends her BFF Jeanie Frost, who wrote Halfway to the Grave, so I knew there was potential for suck. But the free didn’t hurt, either.

Divided into three parts, I found myself experiencing diminishing returns. First section was very good, the second decent, and the third pretty much resulted in skimming. It follows a woman working as a waitress as she frees ghosts from the issues anchoring them to the earth. One night she runs into a ghost that has a more solid presence but still suffers from typical ghost amnesia. It turns out he and her angel chaperone recognize each other, which ends up being the basis for the first section.

Overall, the book was decent but still notable for genre tropes. Hot men everywhere. A female BFF that is largely in the background. Speshul powers. Insta-attraction that can’t be consummated. The first book is interesting enough to mitigate some of those issues, but by the time the battle in the third comes around, I had lost interest. TSTL mistakes in the second and third sections moved it into ‘vaguely annoying’ territory. Regarding world-building, it bothered me that (view spoiler)

For me, the story leading up to the start of the book has the potential to be the most interesting: how did she escort almost 200 souls on to their final destination? I certainly wouldn’t rule Kyoko out in the future, but as it is, parnormal is just not my genre. In that sense, Ilona is right: Kyoko probably would have hit it big had it been written 7 years ago when paranormal was at a height.

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The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

Read  March 2018
Recommended for mystery fans
★    ★   ★   ★


Both unusual and familiar, The Devotion of Suspect X is an unassuming mystery with an astonishing approach.

It is a book that will toy with the very definition of the concept of ‘spoilers:’ it begins with a few hours in our main characters’ daily routines, then quickly jumps into an emotional scene that results in murder. I admit that I was doubtful; how was I to stay interested in a mystery where I already knew the answers to the ‘who-what-where-why-when?’ But Hiashino is quite masterful, drawing a veil over the disposition of the body. The reader is left in a unique position of knowing more than the police about where the investigation should end, but discovering clues with the police as they work backwards.

The narrative follows both the police investigation and the viewpoint of the perpetrator(s), leaving me marveling at the chess game. Something in it puts me in mind of Agatha Christie, although it could be that she’s just the one I always think of when it comes to non-gory murder and a more nuanced form of suspense. It is a book that is as much about characters and social protocols as much as mystery, but don’t let that frighten you away. There’s a distinct whiff of literary-fiction about this as well, a story that is also about the everyday lives and the future dreams of the characters.

My complaints are very small; there was a preponderance of characters whose names began with ‘K,’ and I believe at least two had first and last names with ‘K.’ A switch from first to last name use depending on who was talking proved initially confusing and left me glad I could flip back a few pages. The ending… sigh. Appropriate, but leaving me ambivalent. The air of melancholy is too strong for me to want to add this to my library, thus the less than 5 stars.

The fact that this was a best-seller in Japan left me bemused. According to the author’s GR page, The Devotion of Suspect X was the second highest selling book in all of Japan— fiction or nonfiction—the year it was published, with over 800,000 copies sold.” I find this especially interesting when I think of the mysteries thrillers that routinely top American best-seller lists. This is almost the exact opposite kind of story, and for me, a far more fulfilling one. It leaves me curious to check out Higashino’s other works.

Four and a half bento boxes.

Thanks to the Carols and Vivian for having left such thoughtful reviews that intrigued me enough to request it!

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Indexing by Seanan McGuire

Read  March 2018
Recommended for: not me
★    ★  

At the end of the day, McGuire needs to stop turning in first drafts. Either that, or hire a new editor, because the one she has is about as rigorous as a kindergarten teacher (I hesitate to say first grade, because I know how Mrs. Bauman was about penmanship back in the day).

It could also be that I like my lines neatly drawn; a book is a novel, and a serial story is something read in short installments, allowing time and life to fuzz details between episodes. Books are not tv series, and tv tells mini-stories within each week while keeping in mind an overall direction (barring cancellation, so never plan too far ahead). I realized format incompatibility when I read Bookburners: The Complete Season 1, and Indexing is even less effective. That said, I enjoyed Ilona Andrews’ serial, Clean Sweep, so it just goes to show you that there are exceptions (then again, the Andrews reworked it before releasing as a book). Indexing tries to make allowances for people joining the series at different points, providing a bit of exposition in every installment. It’s usually, and dismayingly, the same exposition, such as “Jeff was a type XX, a shoemaker, who makes the best footwear” and “Sloane was almost wicked and couldn’t be trusted to go on cases by herself.”

Snow White–I mean, Henrietta–and her team of almost fairy-tale types, excepting former journalist Andy, investigate fairy-tales-in-the-making. The ‘narrative’ can hijack certain situations and force almost-fairy-tale types to act in ways they normally wouldn’t as the ‘narrative’ plays out an archtype, more or less. It’s a great premise that would be entertaining with better writing. The first section is a Sleeping Beauty variant, then a Goldilocks and a Cinderella. McGuire does eventually weave in a larger plot that helps hold the overall narrative together, sort of. Mostly. There’s a lot of narrative fuzzy area, and I suspect a bit of ret-conning (early on Henri is described as literally ‘white,’ while later she is thankful she didn’t entirely lose all melanin), along with items that May Be Foreshadowing but end up not (useful when not being entirely sure where one would like to go or for how long, I imagine).

To make it sound vaguely X-Files-like, fairy stories are given a number and then all the types are kept together in an Index. This is a totally pointless device, since the reader has no actual index, and McGuire has to have her characters say awkward things to each other like, “You think she’s a four-fifty?’ Henri asked sharply. ‘No, I don’t think she’s Cinderella because we don’t have the step-sisters.” (I totally made that dialogue up but that’s almost exactly how it goes).

The challenge with working with character archetypes is, you know, archetypes. As in, these characters are supposed to think and perform along a particular trope when the narrative forces them. While we should know it as the reader, Henri also constantly reminds us, usually right after Sloan says something mean. But it also means characterization for everyone by Henri and Sloan is generally weak, existing only enough to (surprise!) perform a needed story function (information! Tension! Villain!)

Honestly, I should probably give up on McGuire, because her habit of telling over showing drives me bonkers, except four years or so, she’ll come out with a home run for me. There are absolutely great kernels of fun in here. I liked Andy dealing with the talking frog who offers to get a lost object, the description of Mr. Reynard’s den, and the smell of apples being a trigger for knowing Henri is near a dead person. When McGuire describes a storybook scene, it’s fabulous. So there’s that. My attention wandered when trying to read; I think me pacing reading like a novel just doesn’t work. But then, I’m not a tv watcher, either.

But, yay, me. Another one off the TBR list. In the spirit of McGuire, I’ll just turn in my first second draft.


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The Bone Doll’s Twin by Lynn Flewelling

Read  March 2018
Recommended for those who enjoy Way of Kings, hella long fantasy
★    ★   ★  

This is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting books I’ve read where almost nothing happens. It is the fantasy equivalent of Something Happened, by Joseph Heller, when almost assuredly, very little does. Honestly, I’m a little surprised I haven’t heard fans of Way of Kings raving about this, the three-dimensional statue to Sanderson’s bas-relief; though there is a solid sense of world-building, the focus here is thorough character development. And that is, perhaps, why I couldn’t ultimately throw this on the DNF pile (besides Cillian’s threat of terrorizing me with nitrite-filled intestinal casings), and why a part of me is considering continuing the series.

The writing is, quite honestly, some of the most solid I’ve read in epic fantasy in a long while. Descriptive and evocative; Flewelling does atmosphere very well. Which is fortunate, as a ghost is a critical character.

The blurb, as almost always, gets it wrong. This is about the kingdom Skala in the microcosm of the king’s sister and her child. It begins with the well-known foretelling, “so long as a daughter of Thelatimos’ line defends and rules, Skala shall never be subjugated,” the Oracle whispered.” A sympathetic advisor offers the king another explanation and female relatives to the throne begin meeting mysterious accidents. An elderly female wizard, Iya, and her protégé receive a vision from their god about how to save the kingdom from invaders. They develop an awful plan to protect the king’s sister’s unborn child. The king’s sister is due with twins, and the night they are born, some truly awful magic is done. Tobin, of course, knows none of this growing up, only that he has a ghostly brother haunting him and his mother. His mother has gone mad and doesn’t seem to notice the ghost, at least not in the same way. From there, the narrative follows Tobin through the next few years of his life.

“The princess sat by the fire, sewing away as madly as ever. For the first time since the birth, she had changed her nightdress for a loose gown and put on her rings again. The hem was wet and streaked with mud. Ariani’s long hair hung in damp strands around her face. The window was shut tight as always, but Nari could smell the night air on her, and the hint of something else besides. Nari wrinkled her nose, trying to place the raw, unpleasant odor.”

Although Flewelling plays a bit with the early narrative–the first couple of chapters from the point of view of the wizards, Iya and Arkoniel; the third from a hill-witch, Lhel; and the fourth from Nani, the witness to the birth and wetnurse–the majority of the remaining story is from Tobin’s, with occasional forays into Arkoniel’s thoughts as he works to protect Tobin, the future queen.

It’s a great premise, and quite honestly, I think I picked it up partly to see how a fantasy book would deal with gender identity/assignment. Alas that this part of the trilogy is very straightforward (ha-ha); young Tobin is convinced he is male, although he has moments of feeling troubled by wanting a doll when very young. I’m almost tempted to pick up the next book for the psychology of the issue; it’s a very cruel thing that Iya, Arkoniel, Lhel and Tobin’s father have done. You see, Tobin is not gender dysmorphic–his belief in his gender matches his appearance–but will have to be told, eventually, that (s)he is not what (s)he thinks.

What I ended up with instead of an exploration of gender is Tobin learning to deal with the ghost/poltergeist Brother and his efforts to find his place in the household. It is an immersive story; when I read, I could see it happening very clearly in my mind’s eye and was engrossed in the detail of the story. But–and this is a big one–when I set it down, it was without deep regret, and there was no particular impetus to pick it up again. I don’t know what to make of that; the combination of absorbing without addicting is very rare in the books I read. Had I felt like being unkind, I might point out how each chapter has a semi-significant event. For instance, in chapter 16, Arkoniel comes to visit Tobin and becomes his tutor; in chapter 18, Arkoniel suggests to Tobin’s father, the prince, that they find him a young companion, and in chapter 23, Tobin gets his own squire. This is, perhaps, The Belgariad at quarter speed (with better writing).

Would I read it again? Hell, no. Would I read the next? Possibly. It depends on what threats incentives Cillian offers me.


As an aside, this has been on my TBR list since 2011. I’m not quite sure what that says, but it seems appropriate.

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Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

Read  March 2018
Recommended for those with a passing familiarity with academia
★    ★   ★   ★


Dear Fellow Readers:

I am pleased to endorse to you the short little epistolary novel, “Dear Committee Members.” This book will most likely be hilarious if you are familiar with the onuses and whims of bureaucratic academia, as the narrator, Mr. Jason Fitger, is one of the (few) tenured members of the English Department in a small, midwestern college. However, it would also be enjoyable for people who enjoy acerbic wit. Undoubtedly, whatever your persuasion, you will find this work a quick, diverting read.

Mr. Fitger is often hilarious in his carefully worded but politically insensate language. For instance, in describing the English Department to the new department chair, he notes a third of the staff are ineligible for the position, and “the remaining two-thirds of the faculty, bearing the scars of disenfranchisement and long-term abuse, are busy tending to personal grudges like scraps of carrion on which they gnaw in the gloom of their offices.”

The remarkable thing about Mr. Fitger, of course, is the strange double think he operates under. In one letter, for instance, he requests his literary agent take a look at the initial chapters of a protege’s book. A few sentences later, he apologizes then adds, “Well, never mind. Water under the bridge and all that; I’m sure the twelve-year-old you assigned the task of evaluating my work did her utmost.” He is what you get when you remove impulse control from a highly literate writer.

If you will permit me a minor digression, I recently had a conversation with a notable person, shall we say, a student of the mind, who suggested that as individuals, we tell ourselves stories about what others around us are thinking. These stories often represent or reaffirm our own world view rather than true curiosity of another’s experience. So if I would note that Jason seems somewhat disenfranchised from his own life and somewhat socially inept, am I just reaffirming a preferred story? However, there was a point two-thirds through the book when I realized the narrator was a bit of an ass. It’s not my preferred way of interpreting the world, but how else can you explain a recommendation letter for a colleague applying for an associate dean position in which he answers the question, “Context of My Acquaintanceship” by saying, “Carole and I slept together–without cohabiting or making promises we would be unable to honor–for almost three years.”

That said, the end seemed a bit forced in the direction of a mostly happy ending, consisting as it did of a significant amount of personal growth. Personally, I remain disbelieving, but I suppose all things are possible. However, as I found the overall story clever and engaging, I would not hesitate to recommend “Dear Committee Members.”

In solidarity for reading amusement,


P.S. Emma Deplores GR Censorship nails the analysis of the book (here)



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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Almost ready.

Listened October 2012
Recommended for fans of the 80s
★    ★   ★    –audio version

Interesting. As a child of the 80s, part of Ready Player One speaks to me. Then there’s the part that loves a great story. The book spoke to that part too, but it mostly said, “go away, loser.”

My review is heavily influenced by the experience of the audio book, read by Wil Wheaton (of Star Trek: The Next Generation Fame, for those of you who should probably not be reading this). The story had a disjointed narrative. Like numerous ‘coming-of-age’ stories, this one has a period where we suddenly go from relatively little skill to relatively great skill. Not that I mind, because in this case, it has a parallel to video game levels. But it was worth noting.

The audio:

One of my first audio books while not engaged in cross-country driving. I have to say I’ve been enjoying Wil Wheaton’s reading–he imparts a lot of emotion to general descriptive text, and modifies his voice nicely when reading dialogue. He does a nice job with the ironic tone, too.

Writing doesn’t best correspond with audio–but perhaps it would be worse listening. There’s several sections with lists, including 80s movies and tv shows, and the top 10 scorers and their scores that is somewhat unsatisfying when read aloud. The text chat between the main character and Artemis was awkward as well, though I could tell Wil was doing his best: “Artemis: blah-blah,” “Percival: blah, blah.” Again, somewhat unsatisfying, and which makes me think about inexperienced writers.


I’ve discovered a couple problems in my listening, and I welcome advice. One, while I can listen while I do things around the house (cook, clean) or physical but not strenuous (walk dogs, rake, bike), after about a hour, my mind starts to wander, and I realize I didn’t hear or process anything that was just said. I think I tend to turn it into “background music” after enough time passes.

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