Monday, February 28, 2011

Book Review: Bloodshot

(This review contains no significant spoilers.)

The Setup

Bloodshot is Cherie Priest's latest novel to be published. It's not a member of any of her previous series, such as the Clockwork Century. I reviewed those stories stories here, here, here, and here. Instead, this urban fantasy story follows paranoid-but-reckless vampire thief Raylene Pendle's investigation of a secret government program, encounter with a Cuban drag queen, and interactions with not-so-adorable street urchins.

What I Liked

  • The writing style is much more in keeping with what Priest posts to her blog than with what she has used in the Clockwork Century stories. The casual and funny style in this book is much more appropriate for the contemporary setting and subject matter than the somewhat Victorian style of her steampunk stories.
  • The main character is likable and funny, and her various personality quirks and---some would say--flaws make her interesting.
  • The plot includes a number of twists and turns that keep the reader from becoming bored.
  • The pacing is very good. From just a few pages in, the story moves along sharply.
  • The book is an easy, fast read. I don't mean that it's written at a grade-school level. Rather, the fast-moving story and casual writing style make the pages just fly by.

What I Disliked

  • The setup is a little trite. It seems like vampires appear in 50% of the books, TV shows, and movies produced in the past four years. In particular, I feel like I've seen a vampire thief somewhere before. I may be thinking of the Angel, who is actually a vampire detective, which isn't too different. Still, as I said, Priest certainly makes the character interesting and the plot engaging.

The Bottom Line

Overall, I give Bloodshot 8.0 out of 10. It's not a challenging, thought-provoking novel, but it is a very fun read. Like all of Priest's books, as soon as I put this one down, I wanted to know when her next book was due. Fortunately for me, she's a prolific author. Ganymede, the next Clockwork Century novel, is due out later this year, as is Hellbent, the sequel to Bloodshot. Priest is currently working on Inexplicables, another story from the Clockwork Century, as well as some secret project. Ms Priest can count on me to read them all.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Lessons Newton Taught Us: Pants

Another valuable piece of information we would never have gained without our pup:
Whenever your human puts on pants, you must go smell them. Thoroughly.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I believe I posted a new gym record for the hero WOD known as JT today: 8:59. That's not a personal record, since I don't believe I've done this workout before.

Firefly Returns to TV

But not the way you've hoped. The original show will be broadcast in the originally intend order, in high definition, and with interstitial "bonus" material on the Science Channel beginning in March. That's good news, I suppose, but my favorite part of this story is when Nathan Fillion tells what he would do if he won the lottery.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Audiobook Review: The Half-Made World

(This review contains no significant spoilers.)

The Setup

Felix Gilman's The Half-Made World could be described as steampunk, but instead of taking place in an alternate history with advanced steam- and clockwork-powered technology, it takes place in an alternate reality, where supernatural forces are prominent and steampunk-like technology also exists. The story is set on a continent, which I think of as an alternate North America, that is slowly being created along its westward edge. Civilized nations lie along the east coast, especially in the northeast. On the west coast, the laws of nature have not quite settled down, that the distinctions between plant and animal, the phases of matter, natural and supernatural, are not strict. Between the coasts is a vast frontier that serves as the setting for a 400-year-long war between the forces of Gun and Line.

The Line is a mechanized, industrial society ruled by a few dozen Engines, each of which is inhabited by an immortal demon. The Gun are also immortal demons of similar numbers, but they choose to inhabit pistols and rifles. Each Gun is carried by an Agent, whose speed, strength, senses, and healing are all enhanced by their masters' influence. The Line's forces number perhaps in the hundreds of thousands, while there are only as many Agents as there are Guns. The Line represents order, the Gun, chaos. But it's not that simple.

Also present on this continent are the aboriginal First Folk, supernatural not-quite-humanoids with access to their own demonic powers. The Red Valley Republic, which attempted to carve out an independent existence, was destroyed decades ago, but its presence is still felt on the continent.

The story follows John Creedmoor, Doctor Liv Alverhyusen, and---best title ever---Sub-Invigilator (Third Class) Lowry as they each set out on a mission of their own or their masters' choosing.

What I Liked
  • The universe Gilman created for this story is very interesting. The nature of the demonic forces and the unfinished state of the western edge of the continent are particularly intriguing.
  • The story itself is both interesting and exciting. It rarely drags.
  • The writing style seems very appropriate for the subject matter.
  • The characters are interesting and distinct from each other. In particular, Creedmoor is a lot more than the by-the-numbers charming rogue he could have been.
  • The narrator, Tamara Marston, does an excellent job of giving the characters distinct voices and deliveries. In particular, her rendition or Marmion is enjoyable.

What I Disliked
  • The pace does slow down more than I'd like sometimes, but that's usually only for a short time.

The Bottom Line

Overall, I give The Half-Made World 8.5 out of 10. It's imaginative, fast-paced, and satisfying. I highly recommend it. In particular, it seems like exactly the kind of story Alison would enjoy.

Friday, February 04, 2011

PR 10-km Row

Tonight I set a new personal record for "traveling" 10 km on my rower: 46:28.2. That's at 20-second improvement over my previous best, so I'm happy with it.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

PR: Snatch

Tonight I set a new personal record for the snatch: 122.5 lb. I realize that's a laughably light weight, but the snatch is very technique-intensive and very challenging for me. So, I'm happy with that result.