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The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

If you're looking for the Scalzi light humor, this book isn't going to bring it. This is not to say there aren't funny moments, there are, but this book is much more space opera, much less humor, than Scalzi sometimes is.

It's an interesting concept all the way around and it's obvious that there could be follow-up books after this one, which I would read. Overall not my favorite Scalzi but a good book nonetheless.

Rating: 8 of 10
This is a compendium of the first three books of the Awake in the Dark series (Fade to Black, Bled White, and Red on the Inside) which someone recommended to me (can't recall who). On the one hand, I'm glad I bought the box set because I doubt I would have read past book 1 if I hadn't. On the other hand, I've now read three books into a series that I don't find hugely compelling or engaging.

So there's that.

The good:
The fact that Grobnagger suffers from what appears to be a combo of anxiety and depression is interesting. The world McBain and Vargus create is engaging enough that I went ahead and finished the box set.

The bad:
None of the characters ever make it to "fully realized" for me. The plot doesn't really go anywhere...and three books is a long time for that. If I had purchased each book singly I'd be PISSED because they don't seem to end so much as just stop, and that includes the last book. It has more of an ending than the previous two but, well, yeah...they all just kind of stop and leave you there.

Overall I found myself feeling pretty "meh" about the whole experience. It was OK. I doubt I would recommend this series to anyone.

Rating: 6 of 10

Invisible Planets translated by Ken Liu

I bought this book on a total whim on Independent Book Sellers Day after taking a friend into Carmichael's (not knowing it was IBSD). Not sure what even drew me to the shelf it was on, but I'm glad I picked it up. Chinese SF (interestingly, this editor/translator uses SF to cover the wide bands of both Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction) isn't something with which I have a great deal of experience but the little I am familiar with (mostly through the Drabblecast) has been stuff I've quite liked.

This collection of stories was no exception to my other limited experiences. A few stories were true stand outs for me ("The Fish of Lijiang," "The City of Silence," and "Invisible Planets" were my top three) and, as with any collection, there was one that I truly didn't enjoy ("The Circle" - I think I need to be "mathier" for that one to speak to me) but the collection as a whole is well curated, well translated, and an enjoyable read all the way around. Plus, it's really good to get exposure to a broader world of writing, culturally as well as just because good reading is good.

Rating: 9 of 10

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Well. It isn't Station Eleven. Neither is is a great thing to read when you're leaning toward the sad end of the spectrum. Merely OK.

Rating: 6 of 10

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

This was a strange read for me - I wavered between engaged and distracted while reading it, the writing felt somehow "uneven" to me. There were thick patches of backstory thrust into moments of action. That said, the ideas were interesting, the complications were engaging, and I liked the characters. I never can figure out if I like Robin McKinley or not, not that I've read a lot of McKinley's stuff. I guess I still haven't figured it out.

Rating: 7 of 10
Nice little story.

Rating: 8 of 10
My sister gave me this book for my birthday because we'd had a long talk about reincarnation a few weeks prior and this book came up. She was spot-on that this book is a quick read and interesting to think about. I think both of us, too, shared some questioning of the book as a whole, however.

For me there was a lot of good food for thought, but Weiss's absolute "I drank the Kool-Aid on day 1.5" approach sat funny with me. He spends a lot of time explaining how well-educated and important he is as a scientist, he gives major lip-service to the scientific method and how it MUST be used in relationship to studying past-life regression, but then he has, what, ONE session? Maybe two? with this woman and he's like: IT IS OBVIOUSLY TRUE, EVEN A MORON COULD SEE THAT, YOU AREN'T A MORON, ARE YOU?! Which felt weird to me.

I also had a few quirky issues, like the idea that anyone Weiss engaged with through Catherine who wasn't one of her past lives was definitely male. That may just be a "me" issue, I'm willing to concede.

Anyway, it's a bit of a seminal piece and Weiss does name off other psychiatrists who have repeated his work. I haven't done a lot of external homework on where this field of study stands today, I don't know if it I will. Overall it was a fast, engaging read that has left me with some interesting things to ponder and see what I keep and what I let go. Worth reading, for sure.

Rating: 7 of 10
I kind of wish I had read this before starting on Jemisin's Broken Earth books. This is a good book, I'm ready to read the rest of the series, but it's so clear that Jemisin has truly hit her stride with Broken Earth and this book reads as an earlier work.

However, it was a good read, engaging and with some things I didn't expect, interesting characters. Worth the read.

Rating: 8 of 10

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin

Yep, liked this one as much as The Fifth Season. I'm intrigued by a few things, I have to admit I was a touch surprised to see where Jemisin went with the "silver" origin, and I can't wait to see how it all wraps up in book 3. Sadly, I don't have book 3. SOON! LOL!

Rating: 9 of 10

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

I really loved this book. Lucky me, I have the second one in-hand and the third is about to be published. Great author, great writing, great characters, great world. Really enjoyable. I love each new thing that you figure out while you read, too. Great experience.

Rating: 10 of 10

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