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Showing posts from June, 2014

[Book Review] Duty Bound

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Duty Bound / Sidney Bristol
She’s the woman he sent away.
Lisette wouldn’t be back in New Orleans if she didn’t need protection—and who better to turn to than her ex-boyfriend turned Detective? She’s got a closet full of secrets that include a stalker ex and a kinky past. She vows to not dream about Mathieu…much. If only he were a Dominant, one who would not just flog her into bliss, but love her as well. A girl can dream, can’t she?

He was her first love.

Mathieu wants nothing to do with another damsel in distress, but he can’t say no when the little blonde woman walks back into his life with proof her ex is big trouble. He’ll give her a place to sleep, but nothing more. His heart is locked up tight. Except, Lisette uncovers his past in the BDSM world and she’s never backed down from a challenge. He can handle her, can’t he?

Lisette and Mathieu embark on a relationship that is strictly about sexual gratification, but evolves into more. When the bodies align, the hearts entwine. Excep…

[Book Review] The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter

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The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter / Rod Duncan (Powell's Books)

Elizabeth Barnabus could be mistaken for a proper lady doing the best with limited means, especially with her brother working so hard at nights as a private detective.  The thing is, she doesn't have a brother.  Instead, with some level of misdirection, disguise, and intelligence, she plays a man's game with cunning and guile.  Fortunately, she has this a plenty, for although the pretence of having a brother has kept her safe, her 'brother' is a wanted man.

I like what Mr. Duncan has done in this story.  The world of The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter is something of an steampunk-esque alternative-history that doesn't feel cliche.  Perhaps, most interestingly, the true villain of the story remains largely a specter, a real threat to Elizabeth's freedom and well-being, but it is the normal people, not necessarily of ill-intent, that she must work with and against to achieve her goals.

In light of…

[Book Review] In Bed with a Rogue

In Bed with a Rogue / Samantha Grace
He’s the Talk of the Town
The whole town is tittering about Baron Sebastian Thorne having been jilted at the altar. Every move he makes ends up in the gossip columns. Tired of being the butt of everyone’s jokes, Sebastian vows to restore his family’s reputation no matter what it takes.

She’s the Toast of the Ton
Feted by the crème of society, the beautiful widow Lady Prestwick is a vision of all that is proper. But Helena is no angel, and when Sebastian uncovers her dark secret, he’s quick to press his advantage. In order to keep her hard-won good name, Helen will have to make a deal with the devil. But she’s got some tricks up her sleeves to keep this notorious rogue on his toes… This was actually a rather sweet historical romance.  I'm not quite sure why the teaser paints Baron Thorne as scoundrel pressing his advantage with a lady in a difficult situation.  While Lady Prestwick is in a tight spot, he actually provides her with the r…

[Book Review] Mappa Mundi

Mappa Mundi / Justina Robson

Natalie Armstrong sees the world, and the mind, differently.  She's on the cutting edge of innovation using technology to repair and bridge neural pathways.  But what can heal can also hurt, and her technology is leaked to the less scrupulous and less patient.  So starts a game of cat and mouse with ethics, identity, and humanity and its center.

Mappa Mundi is a brilliant science fiction novel that asks questions about mind and matter as we know it.  It was the May pick for the Virtual Speculation bookclub and a book I highly recommend reading.

Discussion Fodder:
How do our fears and insecurities shape our beliefs as children?  Do the stories and beliefs we tell each other to keep terror at bay count as a type of magic?  How do we use non-belief in handling our fears?"To put it another way, the development of Mappa Mundi, as all such developments, was a necessary result of our own nature, as irresistible as evolution itself.  What we can change, w…

The importance of programming

I am something of a perpetual student, and to that end I'm generally enrolled in several MOOCs at any give time.  One of my latest endeavors was again attempting to learn how to program.  I say again because while I've taken classes I generally get lost when the bottom drops out a few weeks in, and it's even worse when dealing with a completely online class.  I get the basics, but I have historically had trouble building on the basics.  Programming for Everyone (Python) looked like a class I might be able keep up with, and I was familiar with the professor's teaching style from his Internet, History, Technology and Security class.

As someone who has struggled with programming I really appreciated this class.  I think it is incredibly useful to understand programming, even if one lacks the skills to build complex programs.  Perhaps it is only appropriate then that we had an option to talk about the importance of programming in an essay assignment.  My essay perhaps is n…

[Book Review] Dragon Knight's Sword

Dragon Knight's Sword / Mary Morgan
"Duncan Mackay will do anything to lift the curse from his family — even forfeit his own life. But his plans change when he encounters the woman from his dreams, literally. She is from the future, somehow has his lost sword, and can talk to the Dragon that is able to lift his family’s curse. Brigid O'Neill has spent her life listening to the mythological legends from Ireland and Scotland. So, when an ancient sword lands at her doorstep and she starts dreaming of a rugged Highlander, she drops everything and takes on a quest that will alter everything she believes.

Before their journey ends, not only will Duncan and Brigid battle an ancient curse, they must also find the courage to believe in the destiny that brought them together."Dragon Knight's Sword is pretty much what you might expect.  A tormented brooding temptuous man of large proportion, a woman who is stunningly beautiful but never realized it, a sword (I me…

[Book Review] Half a King

Half a King / Joe Abercrombie

Yarvi was never intended to take his father's throne.  Crippled from birth he is disdained by family and society, for how can one without two good hands to hold shield and axe be a true man, let alone a king?  Instead he finds his calling in wisdom and the ministry, at least until his father and brothers are killed at war leaving him to ascend the throne under his uncle's guidance.  But betrayal lies in store for Yarvi, starting a chain of hardships honing Yarvi into a man who could be king, and a man for whom hard decisions will rest on his shoulders.

There are no magical princesses or gifts of good fortune in the gritty world of Half a King.  There is desperation, betrayal, and more determination than anything resembling hope.  You will also find plotting, ambition, cruelty, and kindness.

The story is incredibly engaging and always keeps a few cards close to the chest.  Half a King is not light reading but engrossing and enjoyable.

Advanced Reade…

If this applies to you, please answer:

Why is my blog getting so many hits from bitcoin discussion boards/channels?  This has been puzzling me for the past few weeks.

[Book Review] The Girl with All the Gifts

The Girl with All the Gifts / M. R. Carey
"Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her "our little genius."

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is a sensational thriller, perfect for fans of Stephen King, Justin Cronin and Neil Gaiman." When I requested this book I didn't know what to expect.  I was intrigued but cautious.  I love Gaiman, don't tend to read Stephen King as I'm not big into horror,…

[Book Review] Bloodshifted

Bloodshifted / Cassie Alexander

Trouble just seems to find Edie Spence, and once it does she's not so good at backing away.  Though to be honest, her current situation as bonded day-timer to the vampire Raven was not exactly of her doing (and is the only reason she is still alive).  Now she has to stay alive, and in one piece, in the dog-eat-dog world of Raven's lair.  Raven saved her as a political favor, but has his own deadly game in play.  And Edie not only has to worry about her own life, she's carrying one with her as well.


I like the world of Edie Spence that I first met in Nightshifted.  Up until now she's largely been basically a normal person with bad luck, an over developed need to care for people, and just happens to work as a nurse for the paranormal.  She doesn't always make the right choices, and her judgement at times is certainly suspect, but people are like that. 

Unfortunately, in this go-around I just didn't really enjoy the novel as much as…

[Book Review] Better Homes and Hauntings

Better Homes and Hauntings / Molly Harper

Nina Linden has the chance to rebuild her business after the physical and financial sabotage of her ex.  She lands the job of a lifetime in landscaping the private island estate of software wizard Deacon Whitney.  But the historic mansion has a dark history, and maybe all of those scary stories are more than simply speculation and myth.  Growing friendships with the other members of the project, and Mr. Whitney himself, help Nina recover from her own haunting past, and it will take a combined effort to unravel the secrets of this house.


I'd say that Molly Harper's writing is one of my guilty pleasures, but that would indicate that I felt any guilt about reading her books.  Yes, the romance is easy to predict and the villains obviously villains, but sometimes that's exactly what you want.

Better Homes and Hauntings makes for delightful light fare.  It is written with the seasoning of sass that I've come to expect and love from Ha…

Updating OverDrive Media Console Tip

Working from home today I decided to grab an audio book from my library's OverDrive collection.  Generally when using OverDrive audiobooks I limit myself to mp3 so that I can load the files onto my tablet and listen to in the car.  Since I'm on my home computer, a wma wouldn't be an issue.

So when I go to actually use OverDrive Media Console I find out there's an update available (3.2 to 3.0).  And things didn't work quite as planned.

Issue One - choosing the option to update just opens a new browser window to my homepage.

Solution - go directly to http://omc.overdrive.com/ and choose the correct version

Issue Two - something went wrong during the install involving a .dll and other sundry.  Retrying the install doesn't work, continuing the install doesn't work, and canceling the install leaves you with a broken install of ODMC 3.2

Solution - uninstall ODMC, then rerun the install package.  If you are not familiar with uninstalling software (for Windows 7 users)…

[Book Review] Reach for Infinity

Reach for Infinity / Jonathan Strahan (ed)
"An original collection of new short science fiction from the biggest and most exciting names in the genre. The latest in the Infinities collections edited and comissioned by multiple award-winning anthologist Jonathan Strahan.

What happens when humanity reaches out into the vastness of space? The brightest names in SF contribute new orginal fiction to this amazing anothology from master editor Jonathan Strahan. Including new work by Alastair Reynolds,Greg Egan,Ian McDonald, Ken Macleod, Pat Cadigan, Karl Schroeder, Hannu Rajaniemi, Karen Lord, Adam Roberts, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Aliette de Bodard Peter Watts, and others!" This may be the best collections of science fiction stories I have read.  Incredibly well crafted across the board, and often unexpected. I was taken off guard by the storytelling and narrative forms.  I highly recommend this read to fans of literary science fiction.

Advanced Reader Copy copy cou…

Link Smorgasbord, May 2014

Help EFF Test Privacy Badger, Our New Tool to Stop Creepy Online Tracking
A new tool to help block tracking from third party sites, in testing so they're looking for people to use it and look for issues.

My Experiment Opting Out of Big Data Made Me Look Like a Criminal
On how absurd the efforts and limitations that someone must take are simply to avoid data harvesting..
It was no joke that taken together, the things I had to do to evade marketing detection looked suspiciously like illicit activities. All I was trying to do was to fight for the right for a transaction to be just a transaction, not an excuse for a thousand little trackers to follow me around. But avoiding the big data dragnet meant that I not only looked like a rude family member or an inconsiderate friend, I also looked like a bad citizen.

The myth that users will “vote with their feet” is simply wrong if opting out comes at such a high price. With social, financial and even potentially legal repercussions in…

Wait, what's that referring URL?

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I like to look at my blog stats periodically.  I'm going to assume this is at least somewhat common.  It's interesting to see what posts are of most interest and how people end up at my page.

And every now and then I find something that makes me squee.


That's not a web crawler referring URL.  I recognize the domain because Ramez Naam is the author of two books I really like (Nexus and it's sequel, Crux).

Turns out that my review was brought to his attention (likely through the publisher thanks to NetGalley), and was quoted on his website.


Currently I'm slightly embarrassed by my overuse of the word "and" in the first clause of that sentence, but also extremely happy that my review is featured here.

[Book Review] The Camelot Code

The Camelot Code / Mari Mancusi

When Sophie uses a secret code for her favorite game, an Arthurian legend MMO, she never expected to be sent back in time and meet the yet-to-be-crowned Arthur and the wizard Merlin.  Then when Arthur ends up in her time there's no time to find him, bringing Sophie's best friend Stuart in to act as a double until she can bring Arthur home.

Only, Arthur might just find he's far happier in the modern world, perhaps fitting in with others for the first time of his life.  Can Sophie and Stu manage to fill his shoes in the past so that the present isn't lost forever?  Can they bring Arthur back to his kingdom?  It'll take medieval magic and 20th century magic for them to stay atop this challenge.


As it turns out, this book just wasn't my bag.  That being said, I can definitely see this book being enjoyed by its intended audience.  I just apparently am not one to really enjoy a romance story aimed at elementary school kids.

The story i…