Doing any recreational reading? v.5.8

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user Stupid cockwomble
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Started reading The Magicians because I was watching the SYFY show.

Looks like to make the show they took the book and stuffed it into a salad shooter.
Neither is particularly bad. Think I like the books better.
<sigh> My penalty for being an early adopter, I guess. My second book in as many months for which I already have and read in dead-tree form.

The March 2019 Tor.com's free ebook of the month is Walkaway by Cory Doctorow. I wrote an enthusiastic review which you can read here. The usual restrictions and limitations apply. Available for downloading until 11:59 EDT on April 19th.
Time for the May edition of the Tor Books free (for the cost of signing up for their newsletter) e-book: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz. The usual restrictions and limitations apply. Available for download until 11:59 pm EDT on Friday, May 17th.
https://www.goodreads.com/series/42152-alex-benedict

I like this series. It's set thousands of years in the future and is ilke Agatha Christie wrote the screenplay for National Treasure.
An out-of-schedule free e-book offer from Tor Books, and one which does not require signing up for their newsletter: "Download Tor.com Publishing’s 2019 Debut Sampler for Free!"

This is a collection of sampler chapters from recent books by new authors. It is available through links at the above link via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books and Indie Bound (though I just tried each of them: the Barnes & Noble and Indie Bound links are not yet working). There appears to be no time limit on this deal (yet).

Personally I am not inclined to pick up any such samplers mostly because all too often I have read either chapters or short stories by some authors that I simply didn't like for whatever reasons, but I post this here for anyone who is so inclined to give this a try.
Two-fer bundles of LGBTQ+ e-books for June, one from Tor Books and another from StoryBundle:

The Tor Books collection is In Our Own Worlds, a set of novellas by four authors, specifically:

The Lamb Will Slaughter The Lion by Margaret Killjoy
Passing Strange by Ellen Klages
A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson
The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang

The usual restrictions and limitations apply: available for download in epub (Apple) and mobi (Kindle) formats only in the US and Canada; free to people who have or will sign up for the Tor Books monthly newsletter; must be downloaded by 11:59 EDT on June 7th; may be withdrawn at any time.

-----

The "LGBT+ Fantasy Bundle" was assembled by Melissa Scott for StoryBundle. As usual this is a two-tiered offer: for a minimum of $5 you can get a base set of 4 specific books on this theme, but for a minimum offer of $15 you can get a total of 9 books (oddly the linked page has different numbers of books at two places, but I believe my numbers are correct). At the link you can click on a book cover to get a note about the book by Melissa Scott, some reviews and an excerpt from the text. Available in epub (Apple) and mobi (Kindle) formats.

This offer can be downloaded after purchase through 12:59 am EDT on June 28th.
A SECOND free e-book from Tor Books for June: The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson. This is the first book in a to-be-series because the second book in the series, The Survival of Molly Southbourne, is set to be released on July 9th.

The usual restrictions and limitations apply. Downloads must be completed by 11:59 EDT on June 28th though this offer may be withdrawn at any time.

I have not read anything by Tade Thompson mostly because he is a relatively new writer than anything else.
Time for July's Tor Books free e-book: The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley. Unlike most other offers this is NOT the first book in a series, to-be or otherwise. The usual restrictions and limitations apply, with this book available for download which must be completed by 11:59 pm EDT on July 19th.

As far as I can recall I have not read anything by Staveley.
justine Elitist Beer Lover
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I'm trying to find the time to read Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan.
The Labyrinth Index by Charles Stross (2018).

This is the latest and ninth book in Stross' series "The Laundry Files". As such, I cannot recommend reading this novel by itself as it is highly dependent upon details from the previous novels in the series.

Wow. Just wow.

Mind you: this is the novel which Stross had started but then Brexit happened which caused him to toss out much of what he had written, AND THEN he did that again when Trump was elected president in 2016. Presumably because the earlier forms of "The Labyrinth Index" weren't weird enough compared to how the world now stood.

Well, with the current text Stross has achieved THAT. I do wonder if at sometime in the future Stross might release the those previous incantations just so that his readers might see how Brexit and Trump had caused him to drastically revise the novel.

The primary narrator of this somewhat Lovecraft-based novel is Mhari Murphy who had appeared in previous novels (the original series narrator, Bob Howard, makes only a short appearance). It is difficult to fully explain what Mhari is without having replicate the whole series, so let me summarize by explaining that Mhari had contracted (through mathematics) PHANG syndrome, i.e., she is a vampire, although it should be noted that Stross' vampires in the The Laundry Files differ from the usual depictions. Just a small example of the differences: vampires here cannot see only him-/herself in the mirror thus making this a mental aberration rather than any sort of violation of physical laws. Thus there is a scene where Mhari complains to the reader how this limitation means that she MUST use her smartphone in video mode in order to apply her make-up.

Mhari assignment from the British Prime Minister: rescue the president of the United States. There are complications, not the least of which is what fate Mhari will have by rescuing him, she being only a tiny piece through which the fate of the wide multiverse hangs NOT in balance.

Highly recommended though with that caution that a reader should read the rest of The Laundry series before starting this novel.
It is past time for Tor Books' month free e-book: The Necessary Beggar by Susan Palwick.

Sorry, but I had neglected to check my GMail account for a few days which is the reason why the time remaining for this book's availability is so short.

The usual restrictions and limitations apply. The download must be completed by 11:59 pm EDT on August 16th. As far as I can tell this is NOT any book in a continuing series (although it CAN be the first one).

As far as I can recall I have not read anything by Palwick.
maurvir Steamed meat popsicle
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I finally got around to reading "The Murders of Molly Southbourne", and I was pleasantly surprised. It is a short, fast, read, but very well done IMO. I will cop to figuring out the ending by the middle of the second chapter, but it definitely didn't take anything away from the book. There were plenty of surprises left to go. I was also particularly pleased by the fact that the book mixes what feels, at times, like supernatural and sci-fi themes so seamlessly.

I hope the author continues to write this well. I would like to read more like this. :up:
TOS
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fall and rise: the story of 9/11

a very detailed retelling of the events of that day, focusing on the human stories -- he doesn't just give someone's name and describe what happened to them, he tells you about who they were and what their lives were like before the attack

needless to say, it's a fairly intense read

(i'm only halfway through ... the south tower just collapsed)
The Necessary Beggar by Susan Palwick (2007).

TL;DR: a pleasant read, although perhaps not recommended for anyone who is troubled by our current times.

"Beggar" is superficially about parallel universes where there are humans in both. It begins in Lémabantunk, the "Glorious City" where life in general seems to be roughly parallel to a Mid-Eastern city at the height of the Moslem expansion but without (much of?) the poverty that must have existed there and then. Zamatryna is a 7-year-old girl in a family whose business is the selling of handmade carpets, but then her uncle Darroti is accused of murdering a highborn woman who had been serving her year as a mendicant. He offers no defense to the accusation, so his FAMILY is to be sent through a "blue door" which is a standard punishment for such an egregious crime. There is no explanation of how or why these blue doors exist. The only guarantee that anyone making such a transit has is that the world on the other side of the blue door is hospitable to life AND that there is no return.

Zamatryna's family goes through their blue door...to a version of America which is close to but not quite our world. There America has suffered a recent traumatic incident similar to our 9/11, but that event is so commonly known that no one ever discusses it. Zamatryna and family find themselves in the common detention yard of refugee camp stuck out in the Nevada desert somewhat close to Reno, so somewhat fortunate for them there are many families there who do not speak any English. They are processed being entered into the camp, but lacking any papers and even any comprehensible language it is assumed by the camp's staff that Zamatryna's family had been picked up by their version of ICE but their paperwork had gotten lost in the administrative shuffle, and that the camp simply did not have anyone who spoke their obscure language assumed to be from some remote corner of Afghanistan. It is up to Zamatryna and her cousins (she is the eldest of the four) to more quickly pick up English and serve as translators for the family.

Thereafter follows the story of how the family is treated in the camp, how they escape (with the aid of a camp volunteer) to the outside world of Reno, and their PARTIAL integration into American society and culture.
Finally got around to reading The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu. It's definitely a headthink, with the concept of a future alien invasion written from a perspective I haven't really seen before.
Time for Tor Books' free e-book for September. This time it is New Spring by Robert Jordan. This is a prequel to Jordan's 15-book "Wheel of Time" series. "New Spring" was originally published in 2004, almost a decade-and-a-half after "The Eye of the World"--the first book of "Wheel of Time"--was originally published in 1990. In terms of publication date "New Spring" falls in between Crossroads of Twilight (book 10 of the series published in 2003) and Knife of Dreams (book 11 published in 2005).

Tor Books also used the free e-book announcement to note that Robert Jordan will be publishing through them "Warrior of the Altaii"--a NEW book (I think) NOT part of "Wheel of Time"--to be released on October 8th.

As it happens I am in the middle of reading "The Eye of the World" so I may not be able to say how in(ter)dependent "New Spring" will be from reading the other books in the series. I had picked up "Eye" because it had been a previous free Tor Books e-book. I am tempted to start into "New Spring" as soon as I finish "Eye".

The usual limitations and restrictions apply. Downloading this book must be completed before 11:59 pm EDT on September 19th.
I did check around into "New Spring" but there is NO forward or preface suggesting when it would be appropriate for a reader to read this book since it is a prequel to the entire "Wheel of Time" series.

Given the above, presumably one could actually begin reading with "New Spring" (called "Book 0" for "Wheel of Time" in some lists for that series).
maurvir Steamed meat popsicle
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I decided to catch up on some of the previous books that I've downloaded from Tor, but never got around to actually reading. Over the last couple of days, I have read the first two novellas in the short anthology "In Their Worlds" (where the conceit is that every story is queer in some way). I have found the stories so far to be mildly frustrating in an almost standard way. The authors let the spirit of "southern baptist preacher" get riled up, and the lose some of the subtlety that is displayed elsewhere. It's not quite Ayn Rand levels of repeating the same crap over, and over, and over, and over, and over (ad nauseum), but it does feel like the political hammer gets dropped repeatedly and not terribly gracefully.

The first book, "The Lamb will Slaughter the Lion", is actually a great read. If you read between the lines, you get the feeling the author was once a proponent of anarchy, but has refined (or even changed) their thinking on the subject. The book seems like an apologia for anarchism until you realize that the only thing holding things together is, literally, a deus ex machina that acts as the backstop for human nature. I actually really liked this book, even if I winced at a few of the early lines - especially when, later on, the author very deftly, and very subtly, reveals things about the characters in such a way as to almost create a plot twist. It was still a great read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite the previous comments.

The second book, "Passing Strange", has a similar problem. The author does a superb job of setting the tone and helping you visualize San Francisco. The same care is given to the characters, and by the end of the book, I had a feeling for their individual personalities and quirks. I was emotionally attached to the troubled couple, and to my surprise, what I assumed would happen wasn't even close. It was, IMO, a brilliant ending. However, once again, the author can't seem to stop from bringing in a very heavy political sledge hammer. I don't have an issue with the fact that San Francisco's vice laws from the 1920's was a thing, but the way the author brought it up felt almost out of place - as if the characters had to stop what they were doing to break the fourth wall and explain these things. It was especially galling because, in the background, the author makes the emotional hit anyway, in the side story of a character named Jack. The injustice visited to her very nicely did what all the (IMO) unnecessary exposition was intended to do, except it kept it in-story. That said, I enjoyed the second book as well. Ignoring the heavy political overtones, it was a well done romance with a great twist ending. I also like the low-key supernatural element in the book. While I did feel like there was a bit of a jump where this was concerned, the thread was ever-present and made the final conclusion less jarring than it might have otherwise.
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Doing any recreational reading? v.5.8

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