Honeymoon reading

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This morning I set out to New Mexico with John! There will be plenty of downtime and hanging out at cafes, just letting our brains unknot for a week. I’ll do plenty of reading, I’m sure. Here are some books that I’m thinking of getting to:

  • Aliens in the Barn by Kyndra Hatch. I’m partway through this, and I haven’t met such unique aliens in a long time.
  • Deep Indigo by Cathryn Cade. I’ve read the others in this series and enjoyed them, so why leave that incomplete?
  • Mission: Improper by Bec McMaster. The spinoff to London Steampunk.
  • Hell Squad: Cruz and Gabe by Anna Hackett, because I’ve read the later books and want to be able to fill in a few references.
  • Trapped with the Cyborg by Cara Bristol because I will read most any books with female cyborgs in them.
  • Seth by Eve Langlais because see above.
  • Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. I’ve tried to read this a decade ago but had some trouble with it. I think it’s important for me to read more about hypercapitalism and classics of cyberpunk.
  • You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty by Dave Barry. Dave Barry was the first humor writer I read as a teenager and I appreciate his talent for the absurd.
  • Devil’s Kiss by Zoe Archer. I love her adventure stories. This is a historical with some supernatural elements I borrowed from the library.

I said recently that I’m not great at “just being” and reading is a good balance between doing and being. Do you have any summer vacation reading plans?

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Book review: Crash and Burn by Cynthia Sax

Crash and Burn cover image

Book Review

The time and place

Unknown time, presumably the future. As in Breathing Vapor, the story takes place aboard various ships and on the planet Tau Ceti, a world colonized by the Humanoid Alliance.

The suspension of disbelief

Space travel exists and humans have colonized it. You can stick chips in your head for communication (at a cost). People built cyborgs as war machines: soldiers with machine frames, wifi links in their heads, and nanomachines.

The quick summary

Safyre, a crack pilot, is on a suicide mission to save her friend. A rogue cyborg who’ve been receiving her transmissions gets in her way, because he knows the place she’s going is at risk and he’s grown to care for her through their voice communications. Can he let her fulfill her promise and still keep her alive?

My squees

I adore Safyre. She’s loyal, stubborn, clever, and skilled, willing to put people ahead of herself. Her friendship is an amazing valuable, and she cares fiercely for people. She’s into being restrained during sex, and I like how it’s presented and integrated into the love scenes. There’s nothing fussy about it, and sometimes one partner has a kink that the other doesn’t have themselves but is cool with going along with. That feels authentic.

Crash is a sweetheart, and the way he treasures Safyre and respects her abilities, letting her take part in her most important mission, is well-navigated. It’s also nice to see a war machine who questions his own purposes and makes his own life. He chooses not to kill, and when he has to look at that resolution and reevaluate it, his dilemma is compelling. I like a bit of existential angst in characters.

My grumbles

Terminology: use of the term being instead of human or person. Sometimes instead of “anyone”, Sax writes “any being”. That felt a bit jarring. Similarly, the almost exclusive use of “my female” and “my male” as terms of endearment. I don’t think being female is Safyre’s most important or prominent characteristic, but others may disagree. It feels primitive in a way that may appeal to some.

The genetic compatibility (fated mate) trope. I’ve never been a fan of it, and I think Safyre and Crash would work just fine without it.

Read if you

  • Can’t get enough of fellows with Brain Computer Interfaces
  • Would risk your life for your best friend
  • Think people with black sclera are hot, too

Skip if you

  • Prefer fluffy happy books where nobody cool has horrible things happen to them
  • Want detailed engineering explanations of how all the cybernetics, space travel, and weaponry work
  • Dislike crude language with your explicit sex

Final Thoughts

Something very dark happens late in the story to people you’ve grown to care for. It’s a haymaker and I thought it gave the story extra emotional depth and resonance, but if you want a light or optimistic book you won’t get that. This is a story that takes place during military struggle, and it’s got some gritty parts.

I look forward to reading Defying Death.

Author site: A Taste of Cyn

Resources: Goodreads / Amazon / Kobo / ARe

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A lull, but exciting adventures coming up!

Writing

The post-wedding recovery has begun, and I’ve been taking it slow, playing Tokyo Mirage Sessions, Pokemon Go, and Xenoblade Chronicles X. Taking walks with my mom in the Woodland Park Zoo, reading, and zoning out. I started to write a bit again, and now I have climactic conflict scenes to do. While I’d love to finish by the end of August, I don’t know how feasible that is, so I’ll shoot for the autumnal equinox. I can’t do NaNo this year, as I’ll be traveling through Asia.

I love having my mom around, even if I get grief about being a bad housewife (housecleaning and keeping the plants watered are not my forte). I guess this is why I have a day job? Even if I went part-time I wouldn’t be good at doing housework. Mom thinks I’m getting the better end of the bargain here…

At work I started a new project that involves streamlining a hiring process. It’s all done by paper and random emails now, and I’m going to put it into a database so things can easily be viewed side-by-side and HR doesn’t have to organize everything by hand.

In a month is the honeymoon, which is a vacation in New Mexico, Land of Enchantment! I found myself fascinated by Albuquerque and Santa Fe last time we went. This time, John and I are going to the opera. We also anticipate seeing a really large Moon, desert air, and afternoon thunderstorms!

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Giveaway winners and wedding reading

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The winners of my blog hop prizes are Jo Jones and Kathleen M. Thank you to everybody who participated! I’ll be doing more giveaways in the months to come, celebrating reading and my wedding.

There’s almost no prep to do for my wedding in four days, but I do intend to distract myself with reading (maybe some writing or reviewing, but I won’t count on it). I just finished up two books yesterday, but that “unread” list of books on my ereader is still more than 110.

I tend to cry at weddings. Family and community events make me all schmoopy. Right now I’m trying to think of my favorite fictional wedding scene in a book. I read a lot of romance, so you’d think this may be easy, but it’s all a blur. How about you? What are your favorite wedding scenes in books?

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Other worlds blog hop

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Other Worlds Blog Hop

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My work-in-progress takes place in what is currently Portland, Maine, several hundred years from now. When the United States fragmented, the Portland area, most of modern-day Maine, and parts of Vermont and New Hampshire consolidated into a city-state of the same name. Jet fuel is scarce, so most valuable trade is done via ships, and Portland’s primary industry is shipbuilding. Three mega-corporations (Corps) control Portland along with the municipal government: Harbor Securities, Michaud Dynamics, and Fairchild.

Picture of Portland's Old Port area
The Old Port in the modern era

Portland, Maine was named after the English Isle of Portland by English settlers. Before that, the Algonquian people who lived there called the peninsula Machigonne. Portland, Oregon was named for Portland, Maine when pioneer Francis Pettygrove won the right to name the town he and Asa Lovejoy founded on the Columbia River when he won a coin toss.

Why set a cyberpunk novel there? One of my assumptions when considering a future was that several large nations would fragment because governing that many people is very difficult to do with any nominally democratic process. I’ve been to Portland a handful of times and developed affection for the city: it was enough unlike Boston (where I lived in and around for almost ten years) that I thought it deserved its own place in my fictional future. A city, but not the Big City.

To celebrate summer and the blog hop, I’m giving away some SFR books:

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And don’t forget the Grand Prize on the blog hop if you haven’t entered already!
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