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reviewed The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi (Old Man's War, #2)

John Scalzi: The Ghost Brigades (EBook, 2007, Tor) 4 stars

The Ghost Brigades are the Special Forces of the Colonial Defense Forces, elite troops created …

Where's John Perry?

3 stars

Found as EN "boxed set" and read the trilogy (with Old Man's War & The Last Colony) in less than a week (nights mainly). Less entertaining than #1 IMHO, but "needed" to jump into #3

reviewed Small Town Heroes by Marion G. Harmon (Wearing the Cape, #4)

Marion G. Harmon: Small Town Heroes (Paperback) 3 stars

Astra has become one of the most popular Sentinels in Chicago, past scandals notwithstanding, and …

Not really part #4

2 stars

This is book #4 in the series, but it's not the fourth part. Apparently there's a short story, "Omega Night", and it contained both plot and character developments that significantly impact this book. However, even on the official author's website it's not listed between books 3 and 4. It's listed after the final book, among other "related works".

And the author doesn't really do a good job of recapping what happened, it's just an abrupt jump, and now Hope/Astra's angsting over a new crush that started during that book, freaking out over a danger to one of her friends that's due to events in that book, and a number of other sudden changes.

And these changes continue to casually come up over the course of the entire book, so that put a serious damper on my enjoyment of it.

Beyond that, the premise/setting was unique and somewhat interesting, but a …

Jonathan Haidt: The Righteous Mind (Paperback, 2013, Penguin Books) 4 stars

Why can it sometimes feel as though half the population is living in a different …

Among the reasons I hated this book:

  • Haidt pretends that he's going to argue for some position X, sets us up for an argument for X by explaining what he hopes to prove, and then jumps immediately to "and now I think I've shown that X" without actually making the argument. (In his section on "group selection", for example, he mentions in passing an important reason why group selection is typically considered a poor explanation for natural selection in animals like us, then promises to refute that reason and defend group selection, then he completely bypasses that reason entirely to tell us why group selection just feels right to him, then insists that he's saved group selection from its detractors.)

  • He's utterly cynical about ethics and moral reasoning. "Glaucon [is] the guy who got it right," he says. "We are all self-righteous hypocrites." I mean, you can do that, sure. …

finished reading Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton (Famous Five #1)

Enid Blyton: Five on a Treasure Island (Paperback, 1997, Hodder Children's Books) 4 stars

Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog find excitement and adventure wherever they go …

By chance I spotted this in a book-swap telephone box in Gnosall, thinking it was Five Go to Smuggler's Top which I remember reading about 40 years ago. It didn't take me long to realise this was Famous Five #1 as the three siblings Julian, Dick, and Anne are introduced as visiting their cousin Georgina/George for the first time. This edition of the book from 1997 (55 years after original publication) doesn't mention the other stories in the series, nor any kind of bibliography for Blyton - a missed marketing opportunity!

As expected the style of writing is quite simplistic and now terribly dated. The style reminds me of a radio play - just enough description for one's imagination to conjure up filler for the gaps. For a story written in 1942 there is a curious lack of mention of the then on-going war. Geography is kept vague too - …

Bernard Jan: Postcards From Beyond Reality (EBook, Bernard Jan) 4 stars

His life has been a cocktail of melancholy, sorrow, and desire. When a skateboarder dips …

Intriguing poetic portrait

4 stars

I will admit that, when I was first offered a review copy of Postcards From Beyond Reality, I wasn't sure how well the project would work out. I knew how convincingly Bernard Jan had managed to inhabit Michael Daniels' personality within the novel Cruel Summer, but to repeat the feat for a whole poetry collection did seem ambitious to say the least. I should have had more faith!

I loved being given deeper insights into Michael's character through his poetry. It often felt as though I was surreptitiously reading his journal or diary instead. The work is so personal yet also addresses universal themes, particularly those that are important to young people. On remembering how the events of Cruel Summer affected Michael, I could see echoes within the poems however I don't think it is necessary to have already read the novel in order to appreciate Postcards From Beyond Reality. …

reviewed Winter's Heart by Robert Jordan (The Wheel of Time, #9)

Robert Jordan: Winter's Heart (Paperback, 2002, Tor Books) 4 stars

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. …

Picking up speed

5 stars

I feel like the series really gets much better again with Winter's Heart. Yes, there's still repetitive stuff, when things get described, that have been described every book since #1. That's probably worse if you read the whole lot in one go as I do now.

But thanks to massive story beats around Mat, Elayne and Rand here, arcs get resolved that have been hanging in mid-air for whole books. And it's good, trust me. At least, when seen in the context of the whole series, of course.