Saturday Miscellany — 3/29/14

No, I haven’t abandoned blog. Things are a little busy at Irresponsible HQ, I’m juggling a little more than usual lately, and sadly, the ball that keeps getting dropped is this one. I’m working on it. I do have a handful of things I wanted to post here, but no time. But this link, this story? Had to take a moment and do my part to boost the signal. (not that my bit is needed or will be noticed)

Monday Miscellany – 3/17/14

The end of last week rolled away from me before I could assemble this for Saturday. So, rather than dusting something off, I figured I’d throw up the odds ‘n ends from last week about books and reading that caught. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

    There Was One Release Last Week that I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon:

  • Night Broken by Patricia Briggs — a new Mercy Thompson! Know nothing about it, but that it’s sitting on my desk waiting to be taken on a road trip with me this week.

Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich

What?! A second post? Yeah, trying to make up for yesterday.

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Notorious NineteenNotorious Nineteen

by Janet Evanovich
Mass Market Paperback, 302 pg.
Bantam, 2013
Read: Dec. 24 – 25, 2013

When this one gets serious and creepifying…it gets really serious and creepy. Even better, Evanovich restrains the goofiness. Leaving this a moderately suspenseful, witty and charming book. Even Grandma — who has a significant role here — isn’t as cartoonish as she often is.

There are two major cases that Stephanie has to deal with — the Ranger case is pretty fun, if a little lean. The major case, dealing with the missing embezzler, is more intricate than usual. I don’t know that I was convinced by Stephanie’s methods to solving it, but I applaud the complexity of the case and hope that Evanovich is willing to stretch like that again.

Not much else to say at this point — it’s a Stephanie Plum book, and a pretty good one. That’s pretty much all that a Plum-head (Plumb-er?) should need.

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3 Stars

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, #1)Red Rising

by Pierce Brown
Hardcover, 382 pg.
Del Rey, 2014
Read: Feb 26 – Mar 6, 2014

I’m having a hard time deciding what to say about this one. To really talk about it would require me spoiling every plot point that I loved (most of which I didn’t see coming). So I won’t. I’ll just say that I really, really dug this book.

I don’t want to just compare this to The Hunger Games, as much as reviews/blurbs/etc. make a guy want to. There are some surface-level similarities, yeah. And you could make the case (as I did when just starting the book) that Brown’s Mars was just the place for people who thought Collins’ Panem was a bit easy. In fact several parts of this feel like >The Hunger Games dialed up to 11. The working/living conditions for Darrow and his family are more severe, what Darrow has done to him to prepare him for what’s to come makes what Cinna et al. do to Katniss look like child dress-up, Darrow plays a deadly game on a larger scale than Katniss, and so on. But Darrow’s motivation is different than Katniss’ — she’s trying to survive, he’s trying to do far more (and much of the time, survival’s pretty low on his list) — the stakes he’s playing for are greater, and he will go to lengths that Ms. Everdeen doesn’t have to.

There are a few moments when things seem too slow, or meandering, or even redundant — but each time, I was wrong, and Brown made it all pay off. Visceral was the word that kept coming back to me as I read the book. I had almost visceral reactions to some of the horrors depicted, I could feel the grime and muck (literal and metaphorical) that Darrow crawled around in.

This shows every indication of leading to something epic in the next volume, leaving Mars behind and moving to other planets and/or the space between. As well as seeing if Darrow can retain his self and purpose — and how far will he be willing to go to carry it out.

There is a classic SF reference in Part IV that made me giggle with delight (in the middle of a pretty grim part of a fairly grim book, so I appreciated the placement). I won’t spoil it, but Pierce Brown has bought a lot of loyalty from me with two simple words.

Go grab this one.

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5 Stars

Dusted Off: Blue Diablo

Blue Diablo (Corine Solomon, #1)Blue Diablo

by Ann Aguirre
Mass-Market Paperback, 336 pg.
Roc, 2009
Read: June 3-5, 2012

Ann Aguirre starts the 4th (or so) chapter by quoting the show, Coupling, which I’m pretty sure means I have to buy every book she’s written/will write. Doesn’t hurt that her heroine, Corine Solomon, has the same power as Anton Strout‘s Simon Canderous–psychometry (just a grittier version than Simon’s).

The book starts off in a nice, homey setting–but it’s clear that Corine has a dark backstory. It’s not too long before we meet a shadowy guy from her past and we’re off and running through a murky mix of various types of magic/magic-users, human trafficking, drugs, and other types of depravity. The plot takes some darker turns than I’d expected (and one or two pretty sillier ones). Corine meets plenty of new people along the way–most of whom are the kind of characters you grow to like and/or are interesting enough that you want to spend more time with.

Overall, a strong start to what should prove to be a very satisfying series.

I really could live without the Guy A or Guy B or Guy Neither storyline (but if push comes to shove, consider me Team Jesse), I did appreciate what Aguirre did with it this time–just not looking forward to more of it).

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3 Stars

Dusted Off: Grimspace by Ann Aguirre

Grimspace (Sirantha Jax, #1)Grimspace

by Ann Aguirre
Mass-Market Paperback, 312 pg.
Penguin Group, 2008
Read: June 19-20, 2012

Action-packed, complexly-plotted, character-driven. Grimspace is a heckuva first book (would’ve been a heckuva 3rd, book, too). Not perfect, but so good that you put up with the short-comings.

This is more Ronald D. Moore/Joss Whedon-y S.F. than a Roddenberry/Lucas SF. The characters are people: flawed, self-deceived, selfish, scared… You grow to care about them, not just what happens (which would be interesting enough on its own, actually).

Actually, now that I’ve said it above, I’m more and more convinced this is Firefly without the livestock or distinctive dialogue. Can’t wait til I get my hands on the sequel. 4 Stars

The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of Christ by Bruce A. Ware

The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of ChristThe Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of Christ

by Bruce A. Ware
Kindle Edition, 160 pg.
Crossway, 2012
Read: March 9, 2014

One of Ware’s presuppositions — repeated throughout this book — is that evangelical Christians today have a good understanding of and embrace the doctrine of the Divinity of Christ, but their understanding of his humanity is wanting — enter this book. Without dipping a toe into Nestorianism, Ware wants his readers to understand the humanity of Jesus. He explains this so with a constant eye to His divinity — and how that divinity is expressed in the life of the God-man.

One of his main interests is for his readers to understand the dependency of Jesus on the Spirit — His indwelling, guidance and empowering. Without that indwelling, it would be impossible for Jesus to carry out His father’s will. If we grasp that, we see the limitations of the divine nature of Christ to his earthly work, which may seem paradoxical, but isn’t as Ware will explain.

The application portions to every chapter keep this book from being merely theoretical (however great that theory is) to helping readers put shoe leather to this teaching — as every teaching ought. It’s just easier when the author goes out of his way to help us start that on our own.

I really appreciated the chapter “Resisting Temptation,” Ware’s reflections on Hebrews 4:15 and the idea of Jesus being tempted to sin in general. He surveys some of the leading theories before suggesting his own idea how the idea of the impeccable theanthropos being tempted without sinning. He put into words an idea or two that had been floating around in my own head for a few years, and

I was surprised that Ware had to devote an entire chapter defending the masculinity of the God-man, although I shouldn’t have been. Sadly, this was a pretty boring chapter. Ware really beat this horse far beyond the point of its flatline. Sadly, he probably needed to be as through given today’s thinking.

Deep enough to discourage a casual read, but friendly enough that this should be able to be read by thoughtful laity.

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4 Stars