April 11th, 2015



The school of Tom Clancy continues to turn out thick page-turners featuring the work of the standard cast of intelligence officers operating as a quasi-public, for-profit corporation.  (See also Locked On, Threat Vector, and Support and Defend.)  We'll look at Full Force and Effect, also by Mark Greaney, for Book Review No. 6.  Let's keep the story-line vague for those who are contemplating buying the book.  Doing clandestine work for profit is not just for Loyal Patriotic Americans, and pariah nations (yes, meet the old Axis of Evil) have commercial interests, and there's expertise to be hired from among drug-runners.  The rest follows from there.  How boring would a world where everyone buys into The Brotherhood of Man be?

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)


Book 36: The Sixth Man by David Baldacci

Book 36: The Sixth Man (King and Maxwell #5).
Author: David Baldacci, 2011.
Genre: Crime Fiction. Political Thriller.
Other Details: ebook. 416 pages.

When alleged serial killer Edgar Roy is locked away in Cutter's Rock psychiatric unit, private investigators Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are called in by Roy's lawyer, Ted Bergin, to examine the case further. But the investigation is derailed before it begins when Bergin is found murdered in his car on the highway.

A sinister trail of terrifying events begins to unfold as King and Maxwell attempt to determine Roy's guilt or innocence. When the FBI becomes involved, it fast becomes apparent that there's much more to this case than meets the eye. As they dig deeper into Roy's past and learn about his phenomenal ability, they are bombarded with obstacles, half-truths, and dead ends which make filtering the facts all the more difficult. As each new theory brings a new revelation, King and Maxwell are pushed to the limit. Could this be the case which leaves the duo permanently parted?
- synopsis from UK publisher's website.

This proved to be another highly engaging, intricacy plotted thriller featuring the ex-Secret Service agents turned a P.I.s. Baldacci certainly provides a number of twists and turns that kept me guessing. Still I was pleased to have spotted one plot twist long before its ultimate reveal.

Again this is a series that while each novel does stand on its own it is more rewarding to read in order to chart the changes in the relationship between the partners. According to the publisher's website this is the penultimate book in the series. Still I expect that I will read more of his novels after I finish the sixth book.
desert sea

Beginning Underground; Empress of the Sun; Waiting Rules

The Underground Girls of Kabul, by Jenny Nordberg
This is a book about the bacha poch in Afghanistan - girls who through familial decisions and/or their own inclinations pass as boys for some portion of their childhoods. REALLY interesting. I think the author would've been better served by not getting into the theoretical aspects of gender, since her treatment of it wasn't really in-depth enough for it to add to the book, but that was a minor minor minor quibble. The author brings these children, and their lives, into sharp relief, with warmth, and humor. You get a real sense that she is doing her best to get out of the way and let them share their lives. <3.

To Dance the Beginning of the World, by Steven Hayward
I don't often enjoy short stories, but when I do enjoy them, more often than not I inhale them. As I did with these.

Empress of the World, and The Rules for Hearts by Sara Ryan
I needed these books when I was about 14. There are not a lot of lesbian and/or bisexual YA protagonists, even today, and there were many fewer back then. Sadly, these weren't pubilshed until I was in my twenties. But I still very much enjoyed them now, even though I am almost 38. Not as good as Garret Freymann-Weyr's novels about teenagers figuring out who they are (few books are!), but in the same vein.
(75, 83)

Kingdom of the Sun and Moon, by Lowell Press
So I wanted to read this book because I have a fondness for anthropomorphic fiction when done well, and because I was in the mood for something relatively cute or cosy. Turns out this is MILITARY anthropomorphic fiction, whoops! Not cosy at all. But quite solid.

Wisdom in the Waiting, by Phyllis Tickle
I grew up Catholic (with frequent visits to the Anglican side of the ballpark), and reading my aunties' Guideposts magazines when we visited a few times a week, so sometimes I really want to steep myself in religious writing as a comfort mechanism. It's very important that the authors I select for this exercise write intelligently and from a place of personal insight, without getting too analytical or bossy. Tickle fit those requirements to a tee.
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Shadow Magazine; Fall of Rutabaga; Shambling Ghost Bernadette

Shadow Scale, by Rachel Hartman
I loved everything about this sequel to Seraphina - but you really should start with Seraphina, rather than this one. That said, I loved how the already-rich world Hartman had shown us became richer and more interesting, and a lot of the world-building in this one resulted in "OH THAT *IS* WHY THAT WORKS THAT WAY" from me. Plus the characters also evolve, in a similar fashion. Really enjoyable. I'd read a Rachel Hartman novel every week, in some alternate universe where that could be possible.

The Last Magazine, by Michael Hastings
Oogh, this was a complicated messy book. There is a lot of hilarious, uncomfortable, charming, fascinating stuff about the news magazine world as it existed 10 years ago, which delighted me - and a lot of uncomfortable, fascinating, sometimes hilarious stuff about sex and porn and being both highly sexual and highly dissociated, which felt awkward and like it didn't belong in THIS novel, even though the thematic parallels were fairly clear, and which I didn't particularly want to read, but didn't want to just skim over either. The book definitely suffered from having been pulled off a laptop after the author died. Not sure if I'll go on to read his other non-posthumous works.

The Fall of Arthur, by J. R. R. Tolkien, edited with commentaries by Christopher Tolkien
The poem itself was lovely - I do so appreciate any chance to declaim Tolkien's version of alliterative verse out loud, and that it was new to me, AND stoked my Arthur enthusiasms, were bonuses. I found that I'm a lot more willing, now, to slog through Christopher Tolkien's explications and commentaries than I was as a kid, which makes me wonder whether I'm ready to go back and dig through all the volumes of Lost Tales, etc, that I didn't much care for back then.

Rutabaga the Adventure Chef, volume 1, by Eric Colossal
This comic book about a goofy but self-confident kid who is a cooking wizard, and his combat-ready questing friends, grew on me a lot. At first it was just ok, but by the end I was grinning ear to ear! Very adorable, reminded me of the good shows on the Cartoon Network.
(81, O31)

The Shambling Guide to New York City and Ghost Train to New Orleans, by Mur Lafferty
These urban fantasy novels about a travel writer who starts working for a supernatural publishing company are occasionally awkward, but mostly they are awesome. Sensible but wonderfully over-adventurous protagonist, lots of geekery, fun plots, interesting characters that are jussst archetypal enough without becoming cliches.
(82, 88)

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple
Oh my goodness, I adore this book! It's a satire of upper-middle-class PNW families, in a way - but that isn't very important, other than because it added "Yay, Seattle setting!" to my experience of the book. What is important is the writing, which sparkles and dances and zips around like a firefly. And the heart the book possesses, without which it wouldn't glow nearly so brightly. I had to force myself to put it down, every time, and I was late coming back from lunch twice. Love love love.
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Poseidon's Time Bucket

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?, by Carol McCloud
Ugh. I recently read a couple of kid's self-help books that really spoke to my inner kidlet, and I was hoping this one would be the same. NO. Every bit of me thought it was dumb, obvious, and annoying. Also way too narrow an implied view of what kids' experiences / families are like. Sigh.

The Time It Never Rained, by Elmer Kelton
A very powerful and moving novel about 1950s Western Texas, during the drought, and one man's experiences trying to hold his ranch together. There were parts that bothered me - the author was very realistic in his depictions of racial tensions, and the pov character held beliefs that made me uncomfortable (even though they changed over the course of the novel, and it was clear the narrator didn't agree with them). But I think that was a useful being-bothered, and the characters really stuck with me as people. Also, as libertarian arguments go, it is WAY more well-written (and also more balanced) than Ayn Rand. So there's that. I'll definitely be reading some more Kelton.

Poseidon's Steed, by Helen Scales
A whole book about seahorses!! So cool. History, myth, biology, present-day human interest in them, etc etc etc. The author is really geeked-out on the topic, and very emphatic about conservation issues, and also quite conversational and easy to understand. I wish there had been lots more shiny pictures (it's quite a small book, with only a few pages of black-and-white plates), but I still enjoyed the heck out of this one.
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