Get Your Hot Summer Book Swaps Here

Due to the Ozone Red Alert Warning for today, I’m staying inside and at home today.  This leaves me no excuse but to tackle projects I’ve neglected for weeks if not months.  Overnight I received a BookMooch request to send a book to a Californian, so it got me thinking about my physical book inventory.   Once I found the book requested for BookMooch, I packaged it and addressed it sitting in my new library.  I grabbed a stack of books I’d set aside as abandoned and started adding them to my GoodReads swap site.  And now that I own a Nook Color, I want to see less physical books on my physical book shelves to make room for the more ephemeral ebooks on my virtual shelves.

Newly Released eBook Edition of SF Classic – The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

Ridan Publishing released late last week an ebook edition of Joe Haldeman’s classic award winning science fiction novel The Forever War.   A must read for any die-hard fan of science fiction, especially the military scifi subgenre.

My review, written two years ago during the Summer of 2009, follows:

The Forever WarThe Forever War by Joe Haldeman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

If I had been born in the 50s and also been born male, I’m positive I would have loved this story. All the pain, confusion and futility of Vietnam but strung out and extrapolated over three thousand years (or about three years relatively speaking). The last fourth of the book salvaged the first three parts.

I didn’t have any trouble grasping the science, the physics or the technology. Haldeman did an excellent job conveying them without making me take a course in quantum physics or string theory.

But again, similar to The Accidental Time Machine, character development suffers, even though we spend months bored in transit. I personally didn’t care for or agree with his predictions for societal changes on Earth and elsewhere that occurred while Mandella travelled at relativistic speeds. I did agree with the morale of his story, which is similar to Ender’s Game in philosophy.

I’ve now read most of the classic (and one neo-classic) military science fiction novels. My personal favorite seems to be Old Man’s War by John Scalzi, followed closely by Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. Haldeman’s Forever War follows and the distant finisher remains Armor by John Steakley.

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And the Winner Is . . .

Honor Harrington

The poll closed Saturday midnight and, despite close voting, Honor edged out Harry.  In mid-August, Beyond Reality will commence their third series group read.  Join us in the Honorverse next month!

Read Stefan’s introductory post for more information.

Honor v. Harry (Not the Harry Your Thinking Of)


The Beyond Reality group at GoodReads posted a run-off poll this week to decide our next series group read, pitting space opera legend Honor Harrington, created by David Weber, against urban fantasy gumshoe wizard Harry Dresden (no, he’s not a graduate of Hogwarts and doesn’t have a lightning bolt scar on his forehead), created by local Kansas Citian Jim Butcher.

The Honor Harrington series barely hangs onto a narrow lead by her fingernails over the Dresden Files in this last day of voting.  Both series offer a full year’s worth of reading with a dozen novels published in each (assuming we read one book a month).

So if you’ve been looking for an excuse to read either one of these series, come join the party!  Cast your vote before the stroke of midnight tomorrow.

Beyond Reality Series Selection Poll

SERIES DISCUSSION: This run-off poll decides which series will be the topic of our third Beyond Reality Series Discussion!

Book Review: The Summer Tree by Kay (4 Stars)

The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay

4 out of 5 stars

Read in June 2011

I took quite some time to warm-up to this earliest novel of Guy Gavriel Kay. I just couldn’t get excited about five Canadian college students agreeing (with the exception of one malcontent … but there’s always got to be one rebel) to be whisked or warped or rifted or transported (take your pick) to the world of Fionavar just to attend the king’s jubilee. Thrust into a seemingly medieval setting, complete with court politics, royal succession quandaries, manipulative magicians, kingdom-wide drought and blight and an approaching storm of vengeful evil, these young men and women adapt readily and a bit unbelievably. Even the initial loss of one in the crossing barely causes a blip of concern once the remaining four become embroiled in the avalanche of events bearing down on the kingdom.

Of all the characters, both from our world and Finovar, I respected Dave the most as well as Sharra (and I hope to learn more about her in the rest of the series). Paul seemed to excel at doing the right things for all the wrong reasons. Kimberly went native almost before leaving Earth, but Kevin remains an enigma to me. I barely glimpsed Jennifer’s tribulations and fear for her fate.

I saw the influence of Celtic mythology throughout Kay’s worldbuilding and drew parallels with other epic fantasies prevalent and popular in the late 70s and early 80s (Tolkien, Lewis and to a lesser extent Brooks).

I suspect I missed reading the Fionavar Tapestry in high school and early college because I had to rely on what I saw at the grocery store book/magazine aisle, since I didn’t have access to a library or a book store and GoodReads wasn’t even a gleam on the Internet’s nascent horizon. Had I read this series then, I am confident I would have added it to my permanent re-read collection. While The Summer Tree and the rest of the Fionavar Tapestry will remain on my shelves besides Kay’s other later great novels, I doubt I’ll be tempted to re-read it. Not with Tigana or the Lions of Al-Rassan enticing me to return and relive the wonder and the glory.

For further insights, please visit the discussion threads at the GoodReads Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club held in June 2011.

The Beyond Reality group at GoodReads started reading the entire series, The Fionavar Tapestry in mid-January 2014.

Don’t Know Whether to Laugh or Cry, But Whining Will Do

As I sit here at my desk, in my still wet work clothes, I wonder why I bothered to wake up this morning.  Well, not like I had much choice, considering it all started with my cell phone . . .

4:34 a.m. ~ My cell phone wakes me up to tell me it’s battery is nearly dead and needs resuscitated.

4:35 a.m. ~ I stumble downstairs to the card table where I keep all the various and sundry charging cords and transformers coiled.

4:36 a.m. ~ I stumble back upstairs and give my cell phone its juice fix and fall back into bed.

4:52 a.m. ~ Hubby sleep walks upstairs and crawls into bed.

5:00 a.m. ~ My cell phone wakes me up again with my alarm (“I’m Okay” by Styx from the Pieces of Eight album (circa 1978).  I hit the snooze button.

5:10 a.m. ~ “I’m Okay” but not really so snooze again.

5:20 am. ~ Third time trying “I’m Okay” but still not feeling it so snoozing again.

5:24 a.m. – Ready or not, I drag myself out of bed, unplug the cell phone, grab my Nook Color and reading glasses, shoes and clothes and head downstairs.  The Rotts believe me this time and tag along at my heels.

5:30 a.m. ~ Final gasp of “I’m Okay” from my cell phone as I’m getting dressed and this time I hit the OK button to kill the alarm.

5:32 a.m. ~ Feed the Rotts and let them outside.  It’s raining … great, just great.

5:34 a.m. ~ Put paperback, reading glasses, Nook Color and Bluetooth earpiece back in purse.  Grab a reusable grocery bag for an early trip to Dillons.  Let the wet Rotts in, who promptly shake all their accumulated rainwater onto the closest absorbent surface … me.  Great, and getting greater.

5:35 a.m. ~ Grab purse, grocery bag, a set of Bonneville and Firebird keys  and opened garage door on empty bay (north side).  Firebird parked immediately outside with Bonneville behind it.  I get to do the Pontiac shuffle in the rain.

5:36 a.m. ~ Went to passenger side of Firebird to put my purse and grocery bag on the passenger seat.  My hubby had left the window partially rolled down.  Wonderful!

5:37 a.m. ~ Put purse and bag behind driver’s seat.  Went back in garage, grabbed large umbrella, opened it and took trash down down to curb.

5:38 a.m. ~ Rushed back inside to grab the recycling box.  Spent several seconds figuring out how to carry the box (which is large, but not heavy, and requires two hands) and the umbrella.  I managed, but it was touch-and-go there for a bit.

5:39 a.m. ~ Backed Bonneville to other side of Bambi Court and left keys in ignition (but engine off).  Backed Firebird to south side of driveway, noticing the fuel gauge needle was below E.  Good grief, I’d be lucky to make it the two blocks to the convenience store let alone the three miles to Dillons and Hallmark.

5:40 a.m. ~ Parked Bonneville in the garage.  Closed the garage door and ran out under the closing contraption to the Firebird.

5:41 a.m. ~ Made it across Main Street (aka US-73/K-7) to the convenience store and put $19.84 worth of premium gas in the Firebird.  My dollar amounts in gas tend to reflect my mood.

5:45 a.m. ~ Drive to Dillons and wait in the parking lot until they open (at 6:00 a.m.)

6:00 a.m. ~ First one in the door (no surprise there).

6:15 a.m. ~ Self-checkout registered about half of the items I placed in the grocery bag, probably because they were so light.  Consequently, I needed ‘assistance’ from the distracted Dillons personnel to self-checkout.

6:23 a.m. ~ Arrive at Hallmark plant parking lot but there is no van.  Send a text message to the main driver “Where’s the van? Did you already leave without me?”

6:26 a.m. ~ Receive a call from driver to reassure me that the van would arrive shortly.  Our usual van is in for repair or tires.  The backup driver arrives with the van as well as one of the other riders.

6:28 a.m. ~ The rain is coming down in sheets.  While I have my large umbrella with me, it’s behind the front seats of the Firebird, with my purse and grocery bag.  I open the door and step out and within five seconds I am completely soaked to the skin from head to foot.  I quickly grab my purse and bag and run to the passenger side rear door of the van.  It doesn’t automatically open like the usual van so I stand for another few seconds getting even more drenched.  This van has two benches, with no ready access to the rear bench, so I stand there another second or two trying to figure out how to scramble over the front bench.  I give up and crawl across to the driver’s side spot and let the other rider close the panel door.  I can feel the water dripping down my back and legs.  It’s going to be a miserable 45-50 minute ride to work.

6:58 a.m. ~ We pick up a rider in KCK.  She asks me how I’ve been, since I haven’t ridden in the van for  a week.  I reply, “I’m soaked.”

7:10 a.m. ~ At Broadway and 31st street, while waiting for the stoplight, the driver jokingly asks me if I would walk from here.  I said, “I should’ve telecommuted.”

7:20 a.m. ~ Dropped off in front of my building and it’s still raining, but at this point, what’s a bit more water?

I haven’t melted yet, so even if I feel like the Wicked Witch of the West, I’ll try to hunker down in my cube until I feel less like a wet dog and more like a dry and comfortable human being.

Happy Thursday!

Book Review: A Shot in the Dark by Stewart

A Shot in the Dark (Jesse James Dawson, #2)A Shot in the Dark by K.A. Stewart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

A Shot in the Dark continues a few months after A Devil in the Details, with Jesse James Dawson mostly recovered from his last demon death-dance and tornado tango, but still suffering from nightmares of an earlier near-fatal demon fight. His annual Colorado camping trip with his buddies should provide ample opportunity for rejuvenation and recreation… What should have been a relaxing retreat quickly turns into a siege reminiscent of the Alamo . . .

A Shot in the Dark provides a good mystery, a few thrills, a new take on zombies, MacGyver-esque innovations in demon fighting and a peek into the true identity of Jesse’s favorite demon sidekick, Axel (hint: read To Reign in Hell by Steven Brust or Milton’s Paradise Lost). This is a strong sequel to last year’s A Devil in the Details and a great summer vacation read. Just don’t forget the holy water, mirrors and swords.


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