Book review: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Buried Giant is a book I picked up based more on complaints than on praise, having seen a number of reviewers say this was nothing at all like Ishiguro’s other works. I have not read anything else by the author, but I do not consider a change in style to be a bad thing. I thought perhaps I might start here and later on read more books to form a basis for comparison.

Coming into this story, it begins somewhat ambiguous and hazy, and as I read on, I found that every single last character is an unreliable narrator. Part of this is explained in the story itself as part of the over-arcing plot. Part of it has to do with the roles two of the characters have to fulfill even as they speak to each other like allies and friends. Ultimately, this ambiguity and unreliable narration make for a slow and sometimes irritating read, because even as the characters confess that this time, they’re really telling the truth, you can’t be sure, and yes, it’s revealed that they’re lying once again. The ending is equally ambiguous and feels like just another lie, and so what seemed at first like a triumphant victory is instead a dreary opening to more and more tragedies.

This is not to say I did not enjoy the journey. All of the characters are interesting, and the setting in the times after the death of King Arthur is a welcome change of pace from my usual modern reading fare. But the hope I invested in the characters feels wasted by the ending, in which every good deed is done not to ensure peace, but to bring about more hatred and animosity between all people. And this elderly couple I’ve followed with some hope of resolution to their past is instead denied, their fates are left in the hands of yet another unreliable narrator.

“But the ending is ambiguous,” one might say. “It is open to interpretation.” No, it isn’t. The very early chapters establish the working routines of certain characters, and knowing their methods, it becomes quite clear the last narrator is lying not only to the characters, but to the reader as well. Thus, a story that begins in hope of redemption ends in destruction, death, and isolation.

Not every story has to end happily ever after, and I did enjoy the story, even if the ending left me feeling cheated. So I’ll give The Buried Giant 4 stars, and I can say for certain that this will not be the last book I’ll read from Kazuo Ishiguro.

Book review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

I need to begin this review with a warning that it contains spoilers for most of the book. Normally I hate to do this, but to talk about the parts that bugged me, I have to “go there” and cover the major plot points. So this is your only warning to skip this review if you want to go into this book and be surprised.

With that out of the way, last week, hubby and I went to meet a friend downtown, and he said he needed a travel book. So I suggested we go to the local Feltrinelli, which has a rather huge selection of books in English. While hunting for a new book, I saw More Than This, and even before I saw the title or the author, I read a blurb from John Green: “Just read it.” I do like John Green’s books, and I thought maybe he wouldn’t steer me wrong. So I bought the book, and I started reading while walking behind my husband and his friend. I spent the entire trip downtown reading, and when I got home, I dropped the other books I was reading for “just one more chapter.”

The first hundred and forty pages really sucked me into this story because after the main character Seth Wearing drowns, it seems like he somehow wakes up in hell. Each time he sleeps, he has flashbacks to his old life, and all of the characters in these flashbacks are interesting and helped keep my attention. Continue reading

Game review: Galak-Z for PS4

Galak-Z is a game I’ve been wanting to get from the first time I saw footage of the early alpha version, and I got even more excited when it was changed to a procedurally generated game, something that’s becoming one of my favorite buzz terms in gaming. So yes, this was a day one purchase for me, and…I want to like this game, even to love it, but my feelings are decidedly negative for a number of reasons.

First, I should cover what I like, and there is a lot to cover. Obviously, the graphics are fantastic, with the backgrounds being so pretty, I had to stop and stare at them on many levels. The ship’s design is also great, and all the enemy designs and the levels themselves are worthy of praise. There’s environmental hazards that can harm or hinder you, but that can also be used to trap or kill enemies.

The combat is gleefully varied, and there’s no one right way to approach fights. This is especially true after you get to the second season and unlock the mech transformation. Then you can choose to dogfight up close, take potshots from a distance while flying backwards and using juke to fly over the enemy’s bullets, use the robot’s grappling hand to grab enemies and slash them with a sword, use the same hand to throw explosive objects, or use the mech’s shield and sword to hack an enemy up close and personal-like. There may be many more methods to dispatching enemies that I don’t even know about, but those are the options I went with depending on the type of enemy I was facing and the number of enemies onscreen. It’s even possible to not fight at all and go all stealth on missions. There’s no one right way to play the game, just the way that feels right to you. That’s awesome. Continue reading

Game review: Diablo III: Reaper of Souls -Ultimate Evil Edition for PS4

Diablo II was one of my favorite games, and long after it came out, I was willing to come back and sink another couple hundred hours into playing through the various acts. I got even worse once I discovered character editors that would allow me to build the ultimate badass without having to grind for the right equipment.

But when Diablo III first came out, I downloaded the demo and walked away feeling dissatisfied with the changes made to it. When the game was released on PS4 under the extremely long title Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition, several reviewers said that this was the version to get, with further claims that the game felt completely different from its initial release. I was tempted by the fact that the console version didn’t have to always be online, and I found it on sale on the PSN store for almost half off.

I initially planned to wait to review this until after I had tried all the modes and difficulties. But after completing the full five acts with two characters and making several more runs with the other classes, I’ve reached a point where I can’t make myself play it anymore. It’s not a bad game, I suppose, but to me, it’s boring even on higher difficulty settings. Continue reading

Book review: Ghost Town by Rachel Caine

Yes, it’s another Morganville Vampires book review. For me these things are like text crack for so many reasons, but chief among them is that the series creates a world where vampires are well aware of their outnumbered position and are cautious to avoid being hunted to extinction. One thing that’s been a pet peeve of mine with the stereotypical vampire story is their indiscriminate killing sprees combined with the “What is this thing?!” trope. If a vampire left half as many drained, fang-pocked bodies lying around, there’s no way vampires could be a well kept secret, is there? And yet, the tired trope plays out over and over in horror.

But not in Morganville. Instead, the vampires have created a town where they rule silently over a population of humans who can’t leave thanks to a barrier created by a computer system augmented with a vampire’s brain. Or rather, that’s been the case for a long time, and in the last two books, the vampire brain who ran things went crazy and tried to expose the town with the help of an overly ambitious human. Ada, the vampire running the barrier, was rebooted, but ended up killing herself, leaving the town exposed.

So at the start of Ghost town, Claire is tasked with the impossible, creating a barrier to protect the town without using a brain. Myrnin, her vampire boss, helps her to craft a new system, but soon after it goes active, people begin going crazy. The machine affects both humans and vampires, and soon everyone is losing their minds, even elder vampires like Amelie. Claire must find a way to shut down the machine, a task made even more difficult because Myrnin has also lost his memories and has reverted into his former maddened state. Continue reading

Open call for beta readers

Last night I completed edits of my next release, a pair of sci-fi novellas titled Sex Doll Divorce and Family Planning and Sex Doll Therapy and Rehabilitation, and I am now ready to look for beta readers.

These are sequels to the two novellas I released in 2011 under the combined title The Life and Death of a Sex Doll. The first two books followed the development of Ashley Braun, a Sensu-Doll modified to act as a daughter to a lonely stock broker, Kelly Braun. Being raised as a family member made Ashley a unique entity, a cybernetic companion given more independence than most of her factory built “relatives.” The first two books offered an often humorous and almost utopian view of the future, with several critics calling the ending of the second novella a bit too sweet and perfect. Continue reading

Visual art: Alexander Jansson

Here’s yet another artist I’ve found on Facebook, which is becoming my site for finding pretty/weird things to admire. (And you thought it was just for cat pictures.) This particular artist’s site also brought me an update I didn’t expect in the form of a book cover for the next John A. Lindqvist novel. (SQEEEEEEEE!) It’s called Himmelstrand, and from little news I can find online, the English title should be We the Infected. Definitely looking forward to getting my hands on that whenever it comes out.

You can check out his portfolio and bio at

In other news, yes, I know my updates are real slow these days. I’m trying to stick to editing during my waking hours. I’ve just finished editing In the Mouth of the Wolf (Alice the Wolf book 3) and have sent it off to my beta reader. I still have to work my way through books 4 and 5, and then I have to get the last Sex Doll novella edited and emailed to the beta reader.

I am currently playing Witcher 3 and Diablo 3, but I don’t expect to have a review for either for quite some time. Sorry about that. But there should be another book review in a week or so. (Another Morganville Vampires book, big shock.) Eventually, I hope to get to more frequent updates, so I hope you’ll bear with me during this slow update period.

Book review: Kiss of Death by Rachel Caine

You had to know my next review was going to be for another Morganville Vampires book, and you probably shouldn’t be surprised that the next will be another. As a series, this has to be one of my favorites of all time, with vampires tat are morally ambiguous yet still committed to their methods of staying hidden from most humans. But Kiss of Death may be my least favorite book of the series for what I consider to be a couple of missteps. I’ll get to that soon.

This book opens with Claire and her friends being given passes to leave town and travel to Dallas, where Michael is scheduled to record tracks with a big-time studio. There’s a catch to this gift, not surprisingly, and the group must travel with Oliver acting as their escort. Oliver is riding along for other reasons, and soon everyone else is pulled into his plans when they all go horribly wrong.

What bothered me was what happens when Claire, Eve, Shane, and Michael roll into a little town looking for a place to eat. They are instantly set upon by the locals in what vaguely reminds me of a rehash of Deliverance. Continue reading

Book review: Fade Out by Rachel Caine

Last year I read the first six books in the Morganville Vampires series back to back, and this caused me to avoid reading book 7, Fade Out, for quite some time. Why? Because I got nothing else done during that six day period. I was even forgetting to eat. I wanted to hold off on reading the next until I had some free time and I was sure I didn’t have any other obligations. These precautions were perhaps a bit too overzealous because Fade Out is the first book in the series with some breathing room built in. This is not to say that nothing happens, but compared to the previous books, the pace here is practically a mosey.

After the conclusion of the war, the town is slowly recovering and rebuilding. Amalie is still in mourning, and she’s letting some vampires and humans get away with serious violations of the town’s rules without doing anything about it. Claire and Myrnin are being increasingly attacked by the computer Ada, but Myrnin is in denial about how far corrupted Ada’s personality is, and keeps assuring Claire that the situation is under control. This is a shared theme with both Amalie and Myrnin, as neither seems willing to admit they’re letting things slide that maybe they shouldn’t. Continue reading

Book excerpt: A Wolf In Girl’s Clothing, Chapter 31

Here’s the third and final excerpt from A Wolf In Girl’s Clothing, this time from chapter 31:

A grey Audi pulls into our driveway, and my cousin Evan Saunders opens the rear door on the driver’s side. I haven’t seen him in ages, but that’s because his parents blamed me for us becoming play cousins. I wasn’t solely responsible, though. It was a mutual agreement to be bad.

Age hasn’t changed him much, maybe adding some extra flare to his jaw. But he’s still got the same narrow chin, slim nose, and thin lips. Something about the shape of his round brown eyes is different, though I can’t say what it is. He’s let his brown hair grow out long and wavy, covering his ears, forehead, and most of his neck. He’s also growing some facial hair, but the wispy fluff on his upper lip and chin don’t qualify as a proper moustache and goatee.

Evan looks a lot taller, but he’s got the family’s thin frame. If his folks had enrolled him at Uncle John’s gym, he would have fit in. He’s got to be in some kind of sport, because his thighs stretch out the legs of his jeans. But his black T-shirt, emblazoned with a logo for Metallica, is baggy and makes it harder to assess his upper body.

I jump up and start across the yard. “Evan!” Continue reading