Discussion in 'Discussions' started by Createx, Jul 4, 2012.

  1. Jacq

    Jacq Member

    Honestly I can't get over the fact he brews wizard roofies in his basement. Or that the girl who drank his wizard roofies agreed to go on a second date with him. Those things certainly were thought-provoking to me. The thoughts were very unkind though.
    Another friend told me that the situation between those two characters gets resolved eventually, and so I think I keep reading them because I want closure (silly for fictional characters I guess. Ah well.) It's just, I dunno, the stories (and the technical ability of Butcher) haven't won me over yet.

    During the school year, I try to limit my casual reading only to fluff. If I don't my eyes go funny :rolleyes:
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  2. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    I really am going to have to go back and reread those early books, because for the life of me, I can't remember what you described. That said, the character is different now. He's no longer a Private Eye. He's more mature, he has responsibilities and family and friends that he's always loyal to. He also is his own biggest critic.
    He's spent time as a Warden, and he used to hate and fear the Wardens. And unfortunately, he's also 'The Winter Knight' now, which kinda means that he's bound to obey a crazy woman, better known as "The Winter Queen".
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  3. Jacq

    Jacq Member

    It's like a major plot point in the first book that
    He brews a love/lust potion. Susan drinks the love potion accidentally during the fight with the demon, and they're stuck in a circle while she's all jacked up on in. Later in the book, they continue to date, without any conversation about it. It just says
    "I used the sympathy factor to badger another date out of her, and she didn’t seem to mind too much.

    That time, we were not interrupted by a demon. And I didn’t need any of Bob’s love potions or advice, thank you very much."
    Does that joke your memory? Even with all the extenuating circumstances, I'm hard-pressed to believe a female character would continue to date someone knowing they're capable of creating something like that and have done so. Certainly I think it warrants a serious conversation and not be handwaved away as a nonissue.

    I dunno, I'm okay with people liking things I don't like. I just find it surprising that a lot of people I've talked to who love the series either don't remember that part or think it's okay because it's "magic" instead of "drugs".
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  4. OmniaNigrum

    OmniaNigrum Member

    All drugs are magic. :)

    And I mean that in the most general terms. I take Insulin injections daily. They are nothing like a recreational substance, but without them I would have died more than two decades ago.

    But some people may have very different ideas of right and wrong. In the situation you described, it sounds like there may have been intent to use it in a way that is plainly offensive, but it actually happened in an unintentional way.

    And people can be really foolish at times. Regardless of gender, some people disregard the offenses of those they like, even when they really should walk away and find someone better for them.
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  5. LionsDen

    LionsDen Member

    If I remember correctly, Dresden brewed the love potion as part of a deal with Bob for information/help with a problem. Bob is a really lustful pervert and Dresden never made the love potion to be actually used. So he wasn't making roofies for himself or anyone else, it was all an accident that happened because of Bob being who he is.
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  6. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    Bob is kind of a spirit of an old powerful, totally unscrupulous wizard who's been trapped in a skull, and cursed to serve whoever holds that skull. Dresden keeps the skull, not only because Bob is a genius when it comes to magic and the arcane in general, but because Dresden would not trust anyone else to not use Bob for totally nefarious reasons. And Dresden pretty much has to humor Bob in order to get his cooperation. Essentially, as he's a disembodied spirit, he hasn't had sexual relations in a VERY long time, and he really misses it. He's played as kind of a dirty old man, mostly for laughs. So Dresden humors him with dirty books, and so on.

    But yeah, I don't remember that scene, but I wouldn't expect to. My memory isn't that great nowadays anyway. And I probably read it back in 2007 or so, which is when "The Dresden Files" TV show was on the air. My memory of books I haven't read REAL recently tend to be the broad strokes, and a few of the highlights. AS I said, it's a popcorn book, which means that it's not meant to be memorable, so much as exciting and escapist. I've never been the kind or person who can (at least for most books) rattle off details and trivia, except for a few rare exceptions. (egs. "Dr. No", "Catch 22", "Crime and Punishment", "Mother Night", etc.)
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  7. LionsDen

    LionsDen Member

    Yeah, I have a really bad memory as well. Usually within years I have forgotten much of a book that I liked except that I enjoyed it and the main plot points. So I am able to go and reread the book and enjoy it a second time. :) But when I saw Jacq mentioning that scene a bit of it came back to me and I think I remember correctly that Bob wanted the love potion in return for some help with a problem.
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  8. Jacq

    Jacq Member

    I guess I'm taking it from the POV of Susan. She doesn't know about Bob, she doesn't know the circumstances. From what we're told in-book by the author, she has this experience on their first date, and then agrees to a second date, without Harry having explained any of those circumstances to her. Either that means she doesn't remember being 'potioned' (ewwww skeevy behavior on Harry's part), or the author felt it wasn't important enough to discuss and Susan's okay with it (in which case, very poor writing/characterization/skeevy behavior on the part of the author).

    I don't mean to beat a dead horse. It's just one example of really uh, I hesitate to say 'misogynistic', so I'll just say 'poor' writing.
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  9. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    BTW, a post about DoD's Monofilament Sword had me thinking about Larry Niven's "Known Space" series. Let me start by giving you a suggested reading order, since the books were published in one order, but chronologically take place in a completely different order. The reason for the suggested order is that secrets relevant to the early books are given away in later books and you shouldn't spoil the stories by knowing more than you really should when reading them. Order

    Among my favorites of the series are:
    Tales of Known Space (an anthology of short stories)
    Neutron Star (another anthology)
    Protector (I can't explain why, but I have always loved this book).
    Ringworld -- one of the best SF novels ever written (btw, the anthologies include a couple of the best SF short stories ever written).

    I've only read a little bit of the "Man-Kzin Wars" shared universe stories. These are stories set in the same universe, but written by a variety of other authors, and concern time periods in the "Known Space" timeline that Niven himself never wrote much in detail about, so that made it fertile ground for other authors to come 'play in it'. I was not impressed by the first book in the series, so I kind of stopped reading it. But others may disagree (I'm not as interested in space battles as some people are).

    /edit BTW, I just reviewed the suggested reading order I linked, and I think it's rubbish lol. I would move Ringworld to just prior to Ringworld Engineers. Just my opinion. After all, that's closer to the actual publication order, and it's part of the fun of figuring out just the heck what's going on in Ringworld (you get some clues in the earlier books). Plus most of the stories actually take place earlier than Ringworld.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2014
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  10. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    I just finished Exiles at the Well of Souls, the second book in Jack L. Chalker's Well World series. I really enjoyed it. You really don't have to read the first book to understand it (although there are a couple of characters that appear in both of the first two novels, the main characters are all new). Unfortunately, I made 2 discoveries (which I'll get to) which dulled my experience a bit. The first has nothing directly to do with Mr. Chalker's writing. The second does, and I'll get to that.

    The story starts out several years after the events of the first book. A scientist named Gilgram Zinder has rediscovered the science that Markovian scientists had discovered many centuries earlier. That science had enabled the Markovians to totally control the nature of the universe, and for all practical purposes, made them into 'Gods'. A seriously bad guy -- a drug dealer and corrupt politician -- Anton Trelig decides that he must be the only one to control that knowledge, so he kidnaps Gilgram Zinder's daughter to force him to work for him.

    Mavra Chang, a kind of roguish pirate/thief/mercenary-for-hire is hired to infiltrate Trelig's organization and attempt to rescue Zinder's daughter and if at all possible, Zinder as well, in order to stop Trelig from achieving his goals. But while she's on the mission, the computer that Zinder has designed to control his Markovian machine manages to get into contact with the main Well World computer, and consequently, (for reasons explained in the story) everyone eventually gets transported to the Well World (that's about half the story, so I'm not going to explain it). Their arrival triggers the first major war in centuries to take place on the Well World, essentially a war to control the universe itself.

    Now I said that there were 2 discoveries that I made, and the first is that Exiles at the Well of Souls is NOT a complete novel. The story is actually a 2-parter, and the second part takes place in Quest for the Well of Souls. Now that's not really the bad part. The bad part is that the second half of the story is NOT currently available for Kindle. Darn!

    One other negative that has more to do with the Kindle edition than the book itself. The book itself includes maps of the parts of Well World where the action takes place, and an appendix in the back discusses the alien races of the Well World. Neither of those sections are really adapted well to the Kindle format (the map has too small a typeface, the appendix has too wide a view and is not easy to navigate to read the entire text of it. I've previously described my experiences with reading graphic novels on the Kindle, but in those cases, the adaptation is usually done well -- here it's just terrible.

    The second discovery is a bit more problematic. The climax of Exiles (what I thought was the end of the story until I saw 'to be continued') is kind of a Deus ex Machina -- a literary cheat on Chalker's part. But since it's NOT the actual conclusion, I'm not sure I can legitimately call it that. It's something that brings a temporary end to the story (the next novel picks up 11 years later). The intimation is that those 11 years are an intermission in the war, which will pick up with all the relevant characters in the next novel. I still do want to read the next book, but I'll either have to be patient, or I'll have to go for a physical copy.

    Anyway, when I discovered that I could not buy the next book on my Kindle, I decided to start reading Prince LeStat by Anne Rice. I was concerned that maybe I'd have to go back and reread the previous books, but it doesn't appear like I really have to. The book actually starts out with a kind of summary of the relevant highlights of vampire history and the LeStat books in general In fact, it seems like what happens in the books after Memnoch The Devil is not really relevant so it's not covered (so I don't feel bad about skipping those later books). It also gives a bit of a brush-up on terminology and so on. I'll let you know more when I'm done with it.
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  11. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    It took me a while (for a variety of reasons, none having to do with the quality of the book), but I finally finished reading Prince Lestat by Anne Rice. I have to say that if you are at all a fan of her previous books about Lestat, then you should definitely read this book. The quality of the writing alone should make you want to read this. The way that Ms. Rice uses language can be quite poetic and beautiful at times.

    The story itself is certainly a bit slow to get to the point, especially early on. It picks up pretty close to the present date, with Lestat in hiding, a self-imposed exile. For reasons apparent in the previous books, especially Queen of the Damned, Lestat is a bit of a vampire celebrity, and everyone is wondering whatever happened to him. A young vampire living in NYC, has a radio show that only vampires can hear, where vampires call. And every night he asks for Lestat to come to NYC, and take over the now leaderless, and consequently anarchic Vampire society, to bring order, and put a stop to vampires scrabbling for territory and killilng off other vampires, and so on.

    Enter 'The Voice'. Lestat starts hearing a voice in his head of unknown origin. When the voice 'comes to him' it tells him that it loves him. It shows him a vision of itself when he looks in the mirror, a vision that looks like Lestat himself. The voice urges him to kill younger vampires, to destroy the 'riff raff' of vampire society, but Lestat just ignores it.

    Pretty soon, violence against young vampire covens starts up. Entire covens are burnt to the ground all over the world. It's like a plague of violence. And it's apparent that "The Voice" is behind it. Perhaps vampires of lesser will are succumbing to the Voice's influence.

    Anyway, the book has a cast of characters that is like a "Who's Who" of the Vampire Chronicles, plus introduces a whole new cast of characters, including Seth and Fareed, a pair of Vampire researchers who want to understand all there is to know about their kind. We learn more about the Talamasca, and about Vampire history. We even meet characters from the past that you'd probably never expect to see again.

    Anyway, it's not a perfect book (as I said, it can be slow going in the beginning), but because of the richness of the writing and the fact that all of the detail that Ms. Rice includes in the story is actually fascinating at times, it's really not so much of a fault. The ending of the book makes perfect sense, although I will say, without giving away any spoilers, that not everyone gets what they deserve in the end.

    Some more good news is that Anne Rice has announced that she's already started working on a sequel -- the reported title for this sequel is Blood Paradise. If it's as good as this book, I look forward to reading it.
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  12. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    This morning, I finished reading The Martian by Andy Weir, a near-future hard science fiction novel about an astronaut who gets himself stranded on Mars. The story is quite good and intelligent. I think that the best way to describe it is "Apollo 13" on Mars. I hadn't read anything else by this author, but it was one of Amazon's books of the month, and I'm happy I bought it. BTW, this was Andy Weir's very first novel -- I think he's an author to keep an eye on for the future.

    Honestly, I can't tell you if Andy Weir made any significant technical errors, but he seems to have done a ton of research about Mars, NASA, Biology, Engineering, and space travel in general. There's a lot of problem solving done on the pages, and a bit of math (figuring out how much/many calories, water, oxygen, heat, power, etc. an astronaut would need to survive and for how long, But you don't really need to follow the math -- as I did, you can just take the author's word for it. But if you insist on it, I'm reasonably assured that you'll be a happy camper verifying his numbers. Anyway, it's really very good. And the the main character is actually quite likable, and you'll be rooting for him to survive.
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  13. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    I stumbled upon this a minute ago -- it's a dramatic reading from the first Wild Cards book (which I've praised many times in this thread)

    It includes the following chapters:
    "Prologue" - George R.R. Martin
    "Thirty Minutes over Broadway!" - Howard Waldrop
    "The Sleeper" - Roger Zelazny
    "Witness" - Walter Jon Williams
    "Degradation Rites" - Melinda M. Snodgrass
    "Interlude 1" - George R.R. Martin

    "Prologue" -- in which Doctor Tachyon comes to earth and no one believes what he has to say
    "Thirty Minutes over Broadway" is the story of Jetboy trying to stop the release of the Wildcard Virus
    "The Sleeper" tells the story of one of my personal favorite characters (as well as a fan favorite), Croyd Crenson.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2015
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  14. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    Here's part 2
    IT includes the following chapters:
    "Captain Cathode and the Secret Ace" - Michael Cassutt
    "Powers" - David D. Levine
    "Shell Games" - George R.R. Martin
    "Interlude 2" - George R.R. Martin
    "The Long, Dark Night of Fortunato" - Lewis Shiner
    "Transfigurations" - Victor Milan
    "Interlude 3" - George R.R. Martin

    "Shell Games" is the story of The Great and Powerful Turtle, another of my favorite characters
    "The Long, Dark Night of Fortunato" is the story of (of course) Fortunato, another favorite, and probably the most unusual superhero (or anti-hero) that anyone has every invented.

    The whole first book is excellent. Heck, all three of the first books are excellent.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2015
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  15. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    I'm 3 and a half hours into the first video. OK, the voices and accents are nothing like what I imagined when I read the book, but it's still pretty good, imho.

    BTW, some more details are coming to mind:
    "Witness" == this is the story of Jack Braun, aka 'Golden Boy', aka 'the Judas Ace', and the 4 Aces, and the alternate history version of the McCarthy era congressional witchhunts.
    "Degradation Rites" == Doctor Tachyon suffers (some people have accused Melinda Snodgrass of torturing her characters -- this is actually a rather modest example of what they are talking about).

    Also, here's part 3:

    "Down Deep" - Edward Bryant / Leanne C. Harper
    "Interlude 4" - George R.R. Martin
    "Strings" - Stephen Leigh
    "Interlude 5" - George R.R. Martin
    "Ghost Girl Takes Manhattan" - Carrie Vaughn
    "Comes a Hunter" - John J. Miller
    "Epilogue: Third Generation" - Lewis Shiner
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2015
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  16. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    I finished reading another fun book. This time it was The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross. I know I've read some shorter works by Mr. Stross, way back when I would occasionally read some SF magazines, but for the life of me, I could not name you a single short story or novella. But I will say that I found this book to be quite fun.

    I've been on an Urban Fantasy binge for the past few years, on and off. This book is the start of yet another Urban Fantasy series, in this case, Stross's "Laundry" series. The Laundry is the nickname that Stross gives to a British secret organization, kind of like MI6, only tasked with dealing with supernatural and related threats. It's kind of a cross between Ian Fleming, and H.P. Lovecraft, with a quite a bit of humor thrown in.

    The book contains the short novel of the same title, and a novella (aka a novel-length short story) entitled "The Concrete Jungle". Both stories feature a computer geek and expert on the supernatural named Robert Howard. The first deals with Robert's initiation into the world of field work. He's tasked with recruiting a British national named Mo, living in California. This simple task turns out to be much more complicated than it seemed at first glance, and may involve terrorism, Nazis, and/or a demon from another dimension. The second may involve a gorgon... Or maybe not. But that's the thing about these stories -- they are not always about what they seem to be about, and that's kind of what's cool about them. Furthermore, everything is told from Bob Howard's sarcastic nerdy viewpoint, which adds a whole lot of humor to the mix.

    In any case, I definitely recommend it. Immediately after completion, I ordered the sequel.

    And btw, FINALLY book 4 in George R. R. Martin's Wildcard series is back in print, and available on the Kindle. IT's called Aces Abroad. As soon as I discovered it had been released earlier this month, I picked it up, and I immediatley started reading it when I finished the above book.

    Note that like the reissue of Wildcards 1, Aces Abroad contains a couple of all new short stories written specifically for the re-release. The novel is the start of the second trilogy (well technically, it's a 4-book trilogy -- I mean really it is, because it was supposed to originally be 3 books). Like Wildcards 1, it's a collection of interconnected short stories. This particular collection deals PRIMARILY with stories set all over the world, during a tour set up by the U.N. and the W.H.O. to investigate the condition of Jokers living in other countries (Jokers are the disfigured survivors of the Wildcard virus).

    While it's not one of the better books in the series, it is the start of one of my favorite storylines, involving the villain nicknamed Puppetman.
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  17. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

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  18. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    I finished reading Aces Abroad a couple of days ago. It's a decent, if not great book in the Wild Cards series, even when looking at the two newest stories added for this new edition. Because it introduces some new characters that will become more important in subsequent books, if you are going to read more in the series, you are probably going to want to read this book.

    The premise is that it is 1986. Democratic Senator, and future presidential hopeful, Greg Hartman
    aka Puppetman
    , is leading a W.H.O. world tour to evaluate the state of wild card victims in other countries. Along on the trip are Hartman's staff, some reporters, a few other politicians, Xavier Desmond, the honorary mayor of 'Jokertown' (the NYC slum where most Jokers live), Doctor Tachyon, Peregrine, "Golden Boy" (aka Jack Braun), Chrysalis, Troll,, Carnifex, Mistral, and many others, both named and unnamed, jokers, aces, and nats.

    The stories involve a revolution in Central America led by a pair of poor native 'twin' Aces, a meeting with a middle-eastern fundamentalist leader/jihadist and his retinue that doesn't go quite as planned, a couple of kidnappings (including one of Hartman himself), a story involving an Australian aboriginal ace and his ability to travel through the dreamlands, and so on.

    The stories give us a lot more insight into Senator Hartman's motives, secrets, and personality, surprises us with more of Doctor Tachyon's history when he was living in exile in Europe (after Jack Braun's betrayal at the senate hearings), and very importantly, we find out that Tach has a quarter-Takisian grandson named Blaise Andrieux. Also, we briefly are introduced to a few other characters who will have a larger roll in future stories, such as Mackie Messer (aka Mackheath, aka Mac the Knife), and Ti Malice. And we see the passing of other characters -- Xavier Desmond, not surprisingly, since he's dying of cancer, and Fortunato, who went into retirement after he burnt out his powers fighting the Astronomer at the end of the previous trilogy, but who makes a brief appearance in the book. Much to many fan's chagrine, he goes back into permanent retirement at the end. That said, he does leave a legacy:
    Peregrine is pregnant with his son, the future 'John Fortune'

    Anyway, I still recommend it. It's a decent, if uneven book. One of the new stories involves Troll, who is mostly known as a Joker security guard working at Dr. Tachyon's clinic in Manhattan. Troll makes many appearances in the Wild Cards books, but mostly as a side character, someone who is there, but not as an important character. A new story written for this edition has Troll featured as a main character, helping Fantasy (a professional dancer and ace on the tour) to rescue a kidnapped child... who apparently doesn't want to be rescued. It's the better of the two new stories. Too bad, Troll doesn't make an all that interesting hero. His personality is just a little flat, compared with all of the other characters in the book.

    After finishing it, I immediately started reading book two in the Laundry series, The Jennifer Morgue. It starts out with a prologue in which the US navy recovering a sunken Soviet sub a couple of decades or so earlier, and some underwater beastie apparently trying to prevent that recovery. I'm not sure where it's heading, but so far I'm hooked.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2015
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  19. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    Charles Stross's The Jennifer Morgue was absolutely terrific, better than the first book in the series. I mentioned when i reviewed the first book in the series, The Atrocity Archives, that it resembled a cross between James Bond and H.P. Lovecraft.... Well this book not only resembles that, but is overtly conscious of that resemblence, to the point that the evil plot actually relies on the whole James Bond mythos, and the characters comment on it all the time. There are scenes reminiscent of Thunderball, Casino Royale, and so on. The 'evil villain' even resembles Ernst Stavro Blofeld, right down to the white cat (in this case, his familiar). The novel is so much fun, a lot of it is tongue-in-cheek, and like the previous novel, is commented on by the Bob Howard, the main character, a self-identified technogeek/nerd.

    And like the first book, the second contains not only a novel of the same title as the book, but a shorter work at the end called "PIMPF", which is also quite entertaining. The Laundry's H.R. department has assigned Bob a young intern, and you just know from the start that whenever H.R. is mentioned in the series, that this means trouble.

    Anyway, these are books that don't take themselves too seriously -- they have action, adventure, the supernatural combined with high-tech gadgets, lots of geeky references, and a hero who always seems clueless, as he's always being kept in the dark by his own bosses. And it's not just James Bond meets Cthulhu -- that description is apt, but is missing a whole lot of Dilbert, because Dilbert is there in spades.
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  20. Haldurson

    Haldurson Member

    I finished reading Wearing the Cape by Marion G. Harmon a couple of days ago. It's a decent enough novel, set in a world where superheroes and supervillains are relatively common. A never-explained incident took place years in the past, and since then, semi-randomly people, when placed in traumatic situations, have discovered that they have superhuman abilities. There are numerous superhuman organizations, many of which are run by the government (state or federal) that are tasked to assist as emergency first-responders, as well as to assist law enforcement when supervillains are involved.

    The story involves a young woman named Hope who while driving gets caught in a supervillain terrorist attack on the highway, and discovers that she herself is a 'super' and manages to dig herself out from the rubble from a destroyed overpass that falls on the highway. She not only digs herself out, but manages to make the news when she's spotted on camera digging out fellow drivers who also were buried under the rubble. Eventually she joins "The Sentinels", a Chicago-based superhero organization, and gets caught up in a variety of 'adventures' and events, dealing with an earthquake, riots, and supervillains. In particular, she gets caught up in a plot involving time travel.

    The book is fine for what it is -- largely wish-fulfillment fantasy, but the main character, Hope, is not particularly interesting. Even worse, the most potentially interesting characters in the book are set up more like cardboard cutouts with little to make them more than stereotypes. Furhtermore, there's some poorly thought-out plot devices, and because of the lack of characterization, events that happen in the book that aren't quite believable. Maybe with further fleshing out in the story, some of the events (like a romance) would make more sense.

    It's not a bad book, but it's not a particularly good one either. I think it might appeal more to teenage women than to an adult male, in any case. It gets no more than a lukewarm recommendation from me. It has a couple of other related books set in the same universe, but I'm not sure I'll be reading any more by this author.

    Upon completing it, I returned to Charles Stross' Laundry series. I'm now reading book 3, The Fuller Memorandum. It's probably what I should have been reading instead, anyway. Stross is just so good.
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