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The Inheritance & Other Stories
Robin Hobb, Megan Lindholm
Progress: 82/400 pages
Cherie Priest
Progress: 109/416 pages
Hope Mirrlees, Neil Gaiman, Douglas A. Anderson
Progress: 146/236 pages
The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories
Don DeLillo
Progress: 34/224 pages
Sane New World: Taming the Mind
Ruby Wax
Progress: 16/256 pages
Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life
'John Townsend', 'Henry Cloud'
Progress: 69/320 pages
Lot Beta - Tom Merritt, CJ  Harrison, Scott Johnson

I came across this book because Tom Merritt is one of the presenters of the Sword and Laser podcast to which I subscribe. More specifically I also follow the S&L group on Goodreads and it was there he posted a link to a book trailer video. I followed the link, was curious... and here we are.


The story of Lot Beta is a space opera set in a part of the universe controlled by a vast mining corporation. The hierarchy of the corporation is interesting in that it is, for the most part, hereditary, especially the senior positions. This is supposed to be because of the way the colonization process took place with people leaving behind their home planets on generation ships. I think there’s another reason as well but maybe I’ll come back to that.


Anyway a senior position opens up on “Sat A” by the death of the previous head of this unit*. Normally of course he would be succeeded by his child but this particular COO did not have one. Or did he?


And so begins a tale of a boy with a hidden past who is suddenly thrust into a position of power by a birth right he didn’t even know he had.


He says in the front matter that this was a NaNoWriMo book. I think that this shows, and not necessarily in a bad way. It’s short and has a big central idea but a lot of the avenues it could have taken aren’t expanded on, especially toward the end. Whether that was because the author was “pulling to the finish line” or simply he didn’t want to major on those parts of the book I’m not sure. What I do know is that a lot of the first half of the book is full of corporate politics and bureaucratic wrangling and power plays. Which may appeal to some but I found I was over it relatively quickly. It was well done I think just not really my thing. How our main character uses the vagaries of the supply trade agreements to assert himself over central control was cleverly worked out but for me, not as interesting as some of the later passages about space battles, mining settlement trouble-shooting and dealing with smuggling issues. In other words the action-heavy versus the talky-heavy sections of the plot were not evenly distributed.


At this point it’s probably appropriate to point out something important about the structure of the book. Which is that it’s based on a well-known myth but set in space. The author himself has mentioned this elsewhere on Goodreads but not in the book description so I feel I’d be spoiling to point out exactly which myth it is. I can see how this idea would be the sort of thing one might come up with for NaNoWriMo. It gives you a ready made plot outline to work to. It did make me think at times though, once I realised just how closely to the source he was sticking, whether he would have done certain things if he hadn’t been following this pattern. A couple of the analogues he found were quite clever

I particularly like the ‘dragon slaying’

(show spoiler)

but then there were sections I think don’t make sense at all unless you realise what it’s based on

the missile attack in the prologue

(show spoiler)


It was fairly enjoyable overall. Short and readable.


The legend of ... in space!


Oh nearly forgot. The title alludes to something in the book which is a set up for a truly awful pun.

There are three stations of interest called ‘lots’, alpha, beta and gamma. So we pretty soon get references to ‘Gamma Lot’. groan. ;)

(show spoiler)



(*I was never 100% sure whether a “sat” was an artificial satellite like a space station or a natural one like an asteroid. Plus I think there were planets but whether they had a different designation and how they fit into the corporate structure was unclear, or I simply missed it.)



The Never List

The Never List - Koethi Zan

Not a bad thriller.

If you've read books like Straw Men by Michael Marshall then I suppose there are similarities.

The difference I suppose is that there are really two timelines in this book. The main character, Sarah, was abducted and kept captive thirteen years ago. Now, her captor is up for parole and in order to make sure he doesn't get released she needs to contact her fellow victims. So we have a kind of investigative story set in the present and an unfolding of what actually happened years before.

I enjoyed it although there were some points where I wondered about plausibility.

Would an FBI agent, even a very sympathetic one, give over information so easily? Would they allow them to leave after the release of the women from the van?

It was interesting that Jack is always in the background but he never really gets an active role. Definitely not in the present and even in the past the action is all through the women's eyes. I don't think there was any dialogue from him. The letters I suppose.

A Study in Scarlet (Wordsworth Classics)

A Study in Scarlet & The Sign of the Four -  Arthur Conan Doyle A short read. Not bad but not amazing (for my tastes).

I wonder how much I would I have enjoyed it more if I hadn't watched the modern Sherlock episode that's loosely based on it. It was very loose but enough was similar that some key points were "spoiled".

The structure is odd by modern day standards I think. A book of two halves. The first contains the crime and the chase and capture of the perpetrator. The second contains mainly back-story and then a double denouement - the perp telling us why/how he did it and Holmes how he figured it out. These days that would be one narrative. Also to wait half a book from "we got him" to that explanation of what happened, I don't think would be done now.

Well at least I can say I've read some Sherlock Holmes now, but I don't feel the need to read any more.

Tidying to Do

So the import's finished.


I'm impressed that it's loaded all my reviews. I'm less impressed that some of my books are without covers, and some have loaded as completely different books.


I guess I never expected it to be 100%, but that means I've got some checking/tidying to do.

So Here I Am...

So I joined this site because it was highlighted as one of the places for Goodreads refugees to go. I'm not sure that's me. I'm happy to wait and see how Goodreads turns out under Amazon.


I'm not even here to keep my options open as some are doing (i.e. staying on GR but creating a login elsewhere just in case...)


So why am I here?


Because I checked it out out of curiosity and it looks good.


I like books and I like reviewing and discussing them - so this seems like a good site.

The World of Ptavvs (Tales of Known Space)

World of Ptavvs - Larry Niven The World of Ptavvs concerns the re-awakening from stasis of an ancient alien who has the power of mind control, so when a human psychic tries to use a mind-to-mind contact machine to communicate it all goes a bit wrong. The alien escapes from stasis and goes on a chase across the solar system looking for something he left in his other stasis suit. That something, if he finds it, would spell enslavement for the population of earth.Early Niven like this is big on ideas, big on science, full of plot and not so great with characters or the "human" side of the story. I think you either forgive the later because of the former or it bugs you. Fortunately I'm in the first camp and able to enjoy it.

The Wee Free Men: (Discworld Novel 30) (Discworld Novels)

The Wee Free Men (Discworld, #30) - Terry Pratchett This is another Discworld YA novel and it's fair to say I only read it because it was next on the list and I wanted to have read them all. Which is not to say it's bad but it's aimed at a younger audience and probably a female one. The protagonist is Tiffany Aching, a 9-year-old girl from The Chalk which is a part of the Disc where there are lots of sheep and not much else. A collision with another world is coming, a world where dreams and reality intermingle, and just because what you see and feel may not be real doesn't mean the danger isn't. Anyway someone needs to do something and Tiffany decides that someone is going to be her. Armed with only a frying pan and her wits... oh and some little blue friends.I liked Tiffany and I especially liked her grandmother who was a sort of more taciturn, more sheep-obsessed version of Granny Weatherwax. I was less keen on the whole dreamworld aspect and the Nac Mac Feegle (the titular Wee Free Men) make me smile a little but they're not really that funny for me. Nonetheless plenty to enjoy.

Bad Things

Bad Things - Michael Marshall I read this book because I had read and enjoyed [b:We Are Here|17228158|We Are Here|Michael Marshall|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1357684988s/17228158.jpg|18159871] and this book introduces some of the characters that appear in that book. However I think it's OK to read them in either order, it's probably better to read this first.I did enjoy this but it was darker and more horror than supernatural thriller. I think if you like Stephen King you'll enjoy this. It has that same sense of some dark and powerful brooding menace out in the woods.

Bad Things

Bad Things - Michael Marshall

I read this book because I had read and enjoyed We Are Here and this book introduces some of the characters that appear in that book. However I think it's OK to read them in either order, it's probably better to read this first.I did enjoy this but it was darker and more horror than supernatural thriller. I think if you like Stephen King you'll enjoy this. It has that same sense of some dark and powerful brooding menace out in the woods.

We Are Here

We Are Here - Michael Marshall This is a hard book to review because it'd be so easy to spoil it and I don't want to do that. I also don't want to hide most of my review behind spoiler tags so...The book mostly centres around two couples. David and Dawn are a writer and his teacher wife who go into New York for the lunch that seals his first book deal. It's a big day for them but on the way home David accidentally bumps into someone in the street. Someone who then follows him to the station and asks him to "Remember me".The other couple are John and Kristina. A waiter and bar-maid at an Italian restaurant who've been together about 6 months and are at the stage where they are about to either get more committed or possibly split up. Kristina's new friend from her book club has seemingly acquired a stalker and asks John and Kris for help.Both these stories concern people who live in a kind of parallel world. They are there in the background of our lives but often go unseen or unnoticed. But something is changing. They are coming out of the shadows...I could talk more - vaguely and circuitously so as not to spoil - about the plot but I won't. Let me talk instead about tone and themes. This is a book about regret, about loss of friendship and the way we forget people. It's also about what it means to really live in a place and be part of someone's life. In that sense it deals with some universal and weighty themes and does so well I think. However it's not a ponderous literary novel. It's a thriller. It reminded me of Stephen King in places, which is a compliment. I enjoyed several of the characters. The author writes a middle-aged lady with nine cats who lives in a trailer - and he manages to make me really like her :)It's not perfect. I think it could have been shorter. Particularly in the middle section where dramatic irony is stretched to the breaking point. Also, I was going to complain that there was an un-fired Chekov's Gun in the form of very significant events from one character's past which are mentioned more or less in passing but never really dealt with. However it turns out that this character, and these events, are from a previous book. Also they are mentioned because they affect who this person sees and interprets events in this story, so the gun is fired - it just has a quieter bang than you might think.Anyway it all comes together in the final part of the book and we get a dramatic action-y ending. It left me feeling I'd enjoyed the ride.

Fool Moon: The Dresden Files Book Two (Dresden Case Files)

Fool Moon  - Jim Butcher Werewolves!I'm not normally a huge fan of stories about werewolves. The ones I've seen on TV or film often look silly. However despite all that I definitely enjoyed this book. Harry's back and he's still a lot of fun and a punching bag for the author. A little more detail about his past, developed some of his key relationships. Bit of a weird dream sequence that I'm not sure I cared for and an honest-to-goodness sex scene! Not that I minded - pretty tame and tastefully done - but I'd figured Harry for someone who almost gets laid a lot. I think I preferred Storm Front but this was still pretty good, I considered giving it a 3 to distinguish it but that would be unfair.

So Much Blood

So Much Blood - Simon Brett This is the second of the umpteen Charles Paris books. Like the first it works really well as a mystery and if all you want out of a whodunnit book is some interesting situations, enough characters and possibilities to keep you guessing then this has all that. Personally I like the character of Paris, and I appreciate how it doesn't out-stay its welcome but I'd like a little more from it. Also feels a bit dated now.

Storm Front: The Dresden Files Book One

Storm Front  - Jim Butcher I started off sceptical about this book (this franchise tbh) but I have to say it own me over. I really enjoyed it and that's down to two things:1) Pace and structure. The story builds really well. It's not slow to begin with but there are definite gear-shifts where the pace quickens so that by the end it's page-turning stuff.2) The character of Harry Dresden. Superficially he's every hard-bitten P.I. you've ever read - albeit with magical powers (Marlowe as Mage?) but we get the internal monologue which means we see the vulnerabilities, the complexity, the past. And the fact that he gets beaten down but doesn't knuckle under, always an endearing trait, doesn't appear as arrogant bad-ass-ery, but a real part of who he is.

Downbelow Station

Downbelow Station - C. J. Cherryh Downbelow Station takes place in 2352/3 in a future history where space has been colonized but mostly through space stations. Downbelow Station, orbiting the world of Pell, is one of the few attached to a life-supporting world. Most of the action centres around Pell/Downbelow (the terms are used interchangeably for both the station and the planet) but also takes place in space. The main players are the Earth Company – which is the company that initially began exploration and colonization and is involved in trade, the Company Fleet who are now acting somewhat independently of the Company itself, the Union Alliance – a break-away group of colonies at war with the Fleet (and to a lesser extent the Company) and then a motley group of merchanters who just want to trade and make money with whomever will deal with them. Oh and Pell station itself who is attempting to be independent but as the book begins, and the boundaries between Earth and Union space are being re-drawn, finds itself at the strategic centre of pretty much everyone’s plans.I want to say I enjoyed this more than I did because it has some very good elements. If you enjoyed the kind of complex SciFi story, where different factions are presented with their pros and cons and there’s not necessarily clear lines between heroes and villains, something that deals with the gritty realities of space war and the mundane, as well as the macro level politics and economics of it – something a lot like say the rebooted Battlestar Galactica say, then there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this. It has all those elements and Cherryh wields them well into a compelling story.But. There had to be a but. There’s something about her writing style, her sentence construction, that threw me off. I can tell you because I measured it (yep the spreadsheet is back with a vengeance) that my reading speed halved from its normal level during the reading of this book. In fact I took a decision early on to “power through” and pretty much read it in a couple of days last weekend, partly because I was worried that if I put it down for any length of time I wouldn’t pick it up again.Now not everyone will feel this way. Some will enjoy her prose no doubt, but I do know from the S&L Goodreads group that I’m far from the only one with this problem. Which is a shame because I think there’s a great story there but for me it was like wading through treacle to get to it.

The Magicians' Guild: Number 1 in series: Black Magician Trilogy, Book 1

The Magicians' Guild - Trudi Canavan (3 1/2 stars)Very much the first part of a trilogy, whilst a book in its own right it definitely feels like part of a much longer story and for that reason, for me, felt a little slow. Picked up towards the end and there was enough intriguing questions that I'll probably read the other two.

Gates of Eden

Gates Of Eden - Ethan Coen I bought this back in around 2000 but never got far through it until recently.It's a strange mixed bad of stories, some in the form of screenplays. Many of them are in the voice of a narrator, or are being spoken to you, or are composed largely of dialogue - and I think that's the strongest thing about them, creating interesting and unique voices. If you've seen any Coen brothers movies then the themes won't be unfamiliar - there's a lot of down-at-heel smalltime crooks and so on. However unlike the movies some of the stories don't go anywhere so unless you simply like wallowing in the atmosphere they create they can be harder to enjoy.Still they have their moments and if you have the right sense of humour they're amusing too.