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Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.

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The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die."

The Call of Cthulhu is a feast of creepiness told in colorful language, which is only flawed by Lovecraft's primitive obsession with physiognomy and base racism. I view it as funny, because they are (to quote HP himself) "obsolete and ridiculous," but I sympathize with people of color who read this and have to deal with dismissive references to such things as Negro fetishism. The story itself is almost without a plot, just a report of a horror of the odious being that the sailors rouse from its sleep. The prose is circuitous and leisurely, but Lovecraft's imagination is perturbing and vision resolves clear in the end, and it's scary. Really scary.

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Pornland is Informative But Also As Boring As Porn

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Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality by Gail Dines
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Dines's book is an excursion into the destructive nature of pornography on our society. It hits some of the problem on the head, especially the violence of the gonzo olympics. However, the book is flawed in that Dines enters the discussion with a set of beliefs about what is normal/anormal, right/wrong, and acceptable/unacceptable. Sex is fuzzy and illogical, and there is no one qualified to set moral standards. Also, part of the problem is how society treats people that pass through the mill, and, honestly, this book doesn't help. I would prefer the judgmental aspects about which acts are barbaric or not to have been left out, because it gets preachy fast, and who am I (and who is Gail Dines?) to tell someone about their sexuality? When the book discusses the violence, the exploitation, and the capitalistic drive of the industry, it does a lot better.

I took a full star away, because after such…

Leviathan Wakes (First story of The Expanse)

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Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A good story set against a brilliant vision of the future solar system. I love the setting so much, especially all the political interplay. The characters were a bit of a reach for me at first, especially Miller's obsession with the dead girl. I get the career cop angle, the need to solve the case, but sometimes it got a little creepy, especially because Miller was so damaged.

By the middle of the story, after the arcs come together in a moment of delicious pov storytelling (master stroke!), the focus resolves better, and Miller ascends. Holden's crew is great too, and I like Fred & Julie too. Suddenly I'm really enjoying the story (with all the political machinations and interplanetary stratagems) because of the characters and their motivations.

The story takes off at this point, and you must grip tight. It's really impossible to put down, and I am so excited, because... there are so many more stories in th…

NaNoWriMo - 2019 (updated 11/18/2019)

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My Favorite Story of 2019 (so far)

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Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Moreno-Garcia dipped into the inkwell of mortality to write a modern fairy tale about love, both romantic and fraternal, featuring Gods and a plucky character shaped by the world to be a reluctant hero. The world-building is brilliant, drawing from the lush background of Mayan cultural myths. Xibalba especially resolved itself in my mind's eye. Her characters reveal so many layers of complexity, especially Casiopea, she of the bad stars, a hero in every sense of the word.

Note: Some of the Mayan terms may be unfamiliar (like any fantasy story), but Moreno-Garcia actually provides a glossary at the end of the book. I found this out at the end of the book--LOL!--but it is helpful to know before.


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An Endearing and Instructive Immigration Story Told With Wit and Aplomb

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Funny In Farsi: A Memoir Of Growing Up Iranian In America by Firoozeh Dumas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A refreshing memoir by a talented, entertaining author who speaks in clear direct language and tells great stories, especially about her extended family. This valuable book illuminates the life of an immigrant and narrates the American dream in humorous and ever optimistic language. It's an especially important book at a time when the value of immigration is questioned by self-proclaimed patriots who would have us stick our heads in the sand. The lesson I learned from Dumas's story is how worthy she and her family are, not just to be in America, but to represent the ideal of American life.

I would have given four stars but I felt she could have elaborated on the aftermath of the revolution in Iran more, especially the plight of its people. In any case, I liked it quite a lot. It is a very good and informative read! Time well spent!



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