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swynn

swynn

Joined March 2018

Librarian - sf/fantasy addict - runner - germanophile - he/him or they/them
review
swynn
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Pickpick

(2021) Ten-year old Ant Joplin comes from a family of hard-core spades players, and he wants to defend the family reputation in an annual local tournament. But he's dealing with a lot at school and home. The plot touches on loyalty, responsibility, family, and addiction, with a generous helping of humor. I listened to this one on audiobook with Mrs. swynn, who has played spades since she was younger than Ant, and it gets thumbs-up from both of us.

26 likes1 stack add
review
swynn
Fireheart Tiger | Aliette de Bodard
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(2021) It's a fantasy novella with a setting inspired by precolonial Vietnam. It's only ninety-something pages, which it turns out is enough for a satisfying story about political intrigue, romance, magic, generational conflict, and growing up. I would read more in this world.

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swynn
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Mehso-so

"Flames Over Badun" (1965)

Rebels rescue Perry and friends from the Plophosers; but instead of returning the Terrans to Terra, the rebels smuggle them to a base in Badun, where they are ordered to work for the rebels or die. Meanwhile, the Plophosers are hotter on their trail than the rebels suspect. Although it ends with explosions, this one is short on action and credibility.

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swynn
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Aragorn sped on up the hill.

#FirstLineFridays
@ShyBookOwl

ShyBookOwl I still can't believe I've read no Tolkien 5d
28 likes1 comment
review
swynn
Wholehearted Faith | Rachel Held Evans, Jeff Chu
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(2021) I picked this up for a shared "exvangelical" / "deconstructing" group read. I agree with Evans's view of god as radically welcoming; of god indulging questions and doubt; and of god as challenging us to be as open to others as it is of us. Some of the religious language does not speak to me in the way it once would have done, and I wish I'd encountered it or something like it thirty years ago.

review
swynn
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Pickpick

(2021) It's a thriller about an artist whose husband disappears when the start-up he works for melts down in a financial scandal. The husband leaves a message, telling her to protect his daughter. It's an engaging premise, and the execution is rapid-fire. It does what a thriller is supposed to.

BeaG I just finished this one. It was good. 2w
swynn @BeaG So much love for this one! The day before I started it, I saw @CBee give it a thumbs-up too. I also just saw that AppleTV is working on an adaptation with Jennifer Garner. I hope they do it justice! 1w
CBee @swynn I think Jennifer Garner will be great! I‘m glad you liked this book too 😊 1w
BeaG @swynn I hadn‘t heard about the AppleTV adaptation, good to hear! I hope they hit it out the park. 1w
34 likes3 stack adds4 comments
review
swynn
Kar Kaballa | George Henry Smith
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(1969) First in a series set in Annwn, a parallel Earth with late-19th century technology and magic, connected to our Earth by magical gates. In this one, parallel-England is invaded by a barbarian horde serving a soul-consuming god. Series hero Dylan MacBride teams up with a Celtic priestess and an arms dealer from Earth who offers a game-changing invention: the Gatling gun. It's fun, and I'm ready now for vol.2.

review
swynn
Tower of the Medusa | Lin Carter
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Mehso-so

(1969) An interstellar jewel thief is hired to steal a stone that can maybe rule the universe, but first he has to avoid assassination by Death Dwarves, escape a space temptress, battle science wizards, and meet a cosmic god who has been sleeping for millennia.

It's less fun than it sounds. Or maybe I just wasn't in the mood for its random plot and misogyny. More Death Dwarves would have helped maybe.

RamsFan1963 Cool cover though 2w
swynn @RamsFan1963 Agreed! It's by Kelly Freas. 2w
30 likes2 comments
blurb
swynn
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And here's my #BookSpinBingo card for May. Feeling good about this one ...

Thanks again, @TheAromaofBooks !

TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!!! Looks great!!! 2w
24 likes1 comment
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swynn
Mosquitoes | William Faulkner
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#BookSpin and #DoubleSpin for May. The first is the next in the "Banned in Boston" project, though I hadn't yet decided whether to reread it because it's my very least favorite of the Faulkner oeuvre. I guess this settles it. TTI, on the other hand, are always worth a visit.

Thanks @TheAromaofBooks

TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!!! 2w
22 likes1 comment
review
swynn
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Pickpick

(1965) I was in the fifth grade when a teacher put her own copy in my hands. And y'all, I was a reader before but this has been foundational to my taste and interests (for good and bad) ever since. I shouldn't have let thirty years pass between re-readings, but one advantage in delay is that it felt as fresh again as it did familiar. I loved this book and love it still. There are a couple more (you may have heard) and I'll get to them very soon.

SRWCF As always, fantastic cover art! This one is on my TBR list. 😊 2w
swynn @SRWCF Doesn't it just suit the book so well? And for good reason: it's an illustration by Tolkien himself of "Hobbiton-Across-the-Water" 2w
SRWCF @swynn Oh! That makes it extra special! 2w
bthegood “it felt as fresh again as it did familiar“ - love this review - thank you. 2w
28 likes1 stack add4 comments
blurb
swynn
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There's my #BookSpinBingo card for April.

Four scores! One of my better months. Thanks for organizing this again. @TheAromaofBooks ! I look forward to seeing how the May card sorts out.

TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!!! Fabulous month!!! 2w
28 likes1 comment
review
swynn
Infinity Courts | Akemi Dawn Bowman
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Mehso-so

(2021) It's a YA fantasy about a girl who dies and discovers that the afterlife has been colonized by Alexa-like AI assistant software. I really want this premise to be a satire, but it's not: it's YA with the usual Very Special Heroine, love interests, regimented worldbuilding, and angsty first person narration.

It didn't work for me but I'm not the target audience, so take that for what it's worth.

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swynn
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When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.

#FirstLineFridays
@ShyBookOwl

AmandaBlaze I'm thinking of rereading these as part of #WyrdAndWonder in May. 3w
swynn @AmandaBlaze Hope you enjoy the reread as much as I am! For me, the impetus was The Silmarilion, which I have never yet read, but which is coming up soon in another reading project. I should have reread these books much sooner and more often. 3w
26 likes2 comments
review
swynn
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Mehso-so

(1965) "Gucky and the Blue Guard"

Perry Rhodan is still missing, but Terran authorities now (since ep. 182) know that he is still alive somewhere. The Mutant Corps, led by Gucky the mouse-beaver, travels to Plophos to learn Perry's whereabouts by any means necessary. They do not realize that Plophos's autocratic leader is expecting them...

It's fine, and gets its characters to where they need to be. But it still feels more like filler than story

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swynn
Trinity | Leon Uris
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swynn
Political Resistance in the Current Age | Duchess Harris, Myra Faye Turner
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(2021) Last one (today) I promise. Here's another from the list that Matt Krause wants banned from libraries. It's a notably even-handed discussion of recent political resistance movements, for an elementary-school audience. By "even-handed" I mean it includes impartial background on protests across the political spectrum, from the Women's March and protests against the Iraq War, to the Tea Party and protests against the ACA.

Read #BannedBooks

Readergrrl I‘d like to say that I‘m astonished by this, but I‘m not. I fear deeply for the next generation. 3w
32 likes1 comment
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swynn
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Pickpick

Here's another from the Krause list of books too dangerous for libraries. It has two parts: first, a message with bold layout explaining that there exist black authors, artists, athletes, and more, and that their lives have mattered and continue to matter; then, a collection of biographical sketches of 116 black historical figures. Dangerous stuff.

Just saying: Read #BannedBooks

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swynn
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Pickpick

(2021) I'm not in the target audience, but I picked it up because it's on the list of books that Texas legislator Matt Krause wants to remove from libraries. What's so offensive about it? Well, there's ....

I mean, read #BannedBooks, y'all.

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swynn
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Pickpick

(2020) James Strang was an American con artist, prophet, state senator, and self-coronated king in the early 1800s. He surrounded himself with collaborators just as colorful. This is an entertaining account of his career.

29 likes2 stack adds
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swynn
The Sword Is Drawn | Andre Norton
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Mehso-so

(1944) It's a juvenile WWII thriller, written during the war, after Pearl Harbor but before D-Day. It follows the adventures of Lorens van Norrys, heir to a Dutch jewel merchant's fortune, who flees the Netherlands when Nazis invade, then hops around the world while he works out his place in the war effort. It's an early work, with uneven pacing and a mild case of Mary Sue, but it kept me engaged and I'm looking forward to the next in the series.

Leftcoastzen Still, that‘s a pretty awesome looking old Norton! 4w
41 likes1 comment
blurb
swynn
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1. The King of Confidence by Miles Harvey
Black Water Sister by Zen Chi
The Sword is Drawn by Andre Norton

2. Yes please whatever is convenient

3. Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire

#WeekendReads
@rachelsbrittain

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swynn
Elric of Melnibone | Michael Moorcock
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(1972) First (in the sense of series chronology, not the first written) in the author's series about Elric, the world-weary reluctant emperor of a dying civilization who would rather brood over his books than lead a nation. (Mm, one sympathizes.) In this one, Elric deals with a usurper, rescues his love, and acquires the cursed sword Stormbringer. I tried this series when I was in high school, but bounced off. This time, no bounce: more please.

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swynn
Elric of Melnibone | Michael Moorcock
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It is the color of a bleached skull, his flesh; and the long hair which flows below his shoulders is milk-white.

#FirstLineFridays
@ShyBookOwl

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swynn
From Man to Man | Olive Schreiner
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(1927) Two sisters come of age on a South African farm, then deal with betrayals by men they trust, and navigate social expectations and condemnation. It is of its time and sometimes too polemical. It was also unfinished when the author died so we don't get an ending. But what we do have is remarkable for its rhetoric which is rationalist, feminist, antiracist, and deeply humane. It's also a pretty good story, so rats on the ending.

swynn Also: back in its day, this was "banned in Boston" by the self-appointed censors of a few generations ago. I'm not sure the complaint, but guess that it has to do with mentions of divorce or atheism, or both. Read #BannedBooks ! 4w
Ruthiella I read her The Story of an African Farm 100 years ago. I didn‘t realize she‘d wrote more. 4w
swynn @Ruthiella I picked this up because it's on a "Banned in Boston" list. I knew about but haven't read Story of an African Farm, and I'm more inclined now to seek it out. All I know about the rest of her work is what Wikipedia tells me. 4w
30 likes3 comments
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swynn
A Song for Quiet | Cassandra Khaw
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(2017) Here's a good one, y'all. It's a novella about a bluesman with a deep blue soul that something from beyond mistakes for empty when it gives him a song with monsters in it. It's about justice and loss and the blues and the kind of weird dread that "Disciples of Cthulhu" should have been full of and wasn't. Second in Khaw's "Persons Non Grata" series, but it stands well on its own.

32 likes1 stack add
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swynn
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Mehso-so

(2021) Wallace Price was a self-centered acquisitive little turd. Then he died. Then he came to a place where he learned how to live. It's excessively sentimental for my taste, but that's not really a criticism, just an aesthetic mismatch. What Klune is trying to do here I think he does really well.

31 likes1 stack add
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swynn
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Pickpick

(1965) "The Jungle Army"

Perry Rhodan and a handful of friends are held captive by Plophosers on the jungle-planet Greendoor. Back in episode 181, they attempted an escape into the jungle, but were quickly caught ... all except for one, Melbar Kasom, assumed dead. But Kasom is not dead. Instead, he makes contact with a resistance movement who soon realize what Perry Rhodan could mean for their cause. A daring rescue ensues.

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swynn
The Disciples of Cthulhu | Edward P. Berglund
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Mehso-so

(1976) It's a collection of nine stories by different authors, inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's weird stories about ancient gods and monsters. It's a bit of a disappointment: a few stories are duds, and even the ones I liked suffer from mannered prose that I assume was intended to imitate Lovecraft's. Still the stories by Brian Lumley, Ramsey Campbell, and Walter DeBill made it worthwhile.

This was my #BookSpin for April.
@TheAromaofBooks

charl08 Those look well read! 1mo
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! 1mo
swynn @charl08 They're mostly harvested from used bookstores. I ain't picky. 😁 1mo
27 likes1 stack add3 comments
review
swynn
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Mehso-so

(2021) Scharf offers some provocative ideas about the "dataome": all of the information that humans have encoded (and are encoding) into our environment, and which, considered as an entity, has curious properties -- and maybe apocalyptic consequences. I love the sense of wonder here, and am intrigued about possible research, but too many arguments seem to me to rely on fuzzy definitions, shaky metaphors, and false equivalencies.

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swynn
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Mehso-so

"Three from the Galactic Defense" (1965)

Perry Rhodan has disappeared, likely killed in a spaceship crash. Terran authorities suspect the involvement of bad actors from the colony world Plophos, so they activate Art Konstantin, a deep-cover secret agent acting as a chief of police on Plophos. Konstantin launches a high-risk operation to learn what he can about Perry's fate. Plot is okay, but also features some cringey misogyny.

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swynn
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Pickpick

(2018) Mason Burke is a middle schooler with learning disabilities dealing with bullies, grief, and the cop who suspects Mason is responsible for the death of his own best friend. He is also utterly charming. Extra points for (spoiler!) a dog of my favorite literary breed: the Dog-that-survives-the-entire-book-hound. It's a rare breed but (attention authors!) the *best*

Thanks @mandarchy for recommending this one!

Texreader I ❤️ your description of the dog! 1mo
mandarchy I'm glad you liked it. Such a great author! I love the name of this dog breed. We need more of these 🐕 🐶 dogs ❤️ 1mo
29 likes1 stack add2 comments
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swynn
Untitled | Unknown
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(2021) This is a collection of four slasher novellas. (Not yet in Litsy ☹️.) The standout is Jeff Strand's Stoker-nominated story, "Twentieth Anniversary Screening," about a low-budget '90s slasher movie that inspired a copycat killer during its original release. 20 years later, a desperate theater owner books the film for an anniversary screening because *that* seems like a good idea. It's a delicious mix of morbid, funny, and over-the-top.

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swynn
Hobbit | Tolkien J R R
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It's been about forty years since I read this last. And yeah, that's too long. The Recorded Books version is narrated by Rob Inglis, who does a lovely job of it.

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swynn
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(1965) "Captured in Central-City"

Captured by Plophosers, Perry & friends are taken to Greendoor, a jungle planet crawling with predatory flora like the drenhols, quasi(?)-intelligent mobile trees. Even if the Terrans can shake the guards, they'll be trapped in Greendoor's single human city because escape to the jungle would be suicide. Of course, Perry & friends attempt escape. The adventure delivers, but I especially like this episode's cover.

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swynn
Brothers of Earth | C. J. Cherryh
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(1976) The sole survivor of a devastating space battle is stranded on an unknown planet, from which he can expect no rescue. He sets out to learn local customs and make a life for himself, but cannot avoid political and military conflicts. It's an early novel and Cherryh gets much better than this (it's only her second book, and first in the Alliance-Union series) but her talents for world-building and cultural conflict are already there to enjoy.

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swynn
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"In this instant, a precious one-second span out of the four and a half billion years Earth has existed as a bejeweled sphere of complexity and dynamism, I am gripped by one puzzle only: Can those really be tears glistening in the eyes of the museum guide standing in front of me?"

In other words, I might as well settle in because for the next 300 pages, word economy is out the window.

#FirstLineFridays
@ShyBookOwl

YasmiNova 😆 1mo
The_Penniless_Author I'm surprised they kept it to just 300 pages if every sentence is like that 😂 1mo
27 likes2 comments
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swynn
Ragtime: A Novel | E.L. Doctorow
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(1974) This was the bestselling novel in the US in 1975. It's a historical novel following events connected to a New York fireworks family in the early (prewar) twentieth century. Its loose plot covers the E. Nesbit sex-and-murder scandal and an invented scandal about the racist humiliation of a ragtime pianist and his revenge.

This kind of loose plot usually annoys me, but Doctorow's direct prose and layered narrative won me over. I loved it

Leftcoastzen I‘m glad you liked it ! A favorite of mine. 1mo
DrexEdit I have never read the book, but I've seen the movie three or four times. 1mo
swynn @Leftcoastzen It deserves a place among favorites! And I must read more Doctorow .... 1mo
See All 13 Comments
swynn @DrexEdit I hadn't been aware of the movie, and now must find it. 1mo
swynn Also: this was my #DoubleSpin read for April. @TheAromaofBooks 1mo
Suet624 I like his writing a lot. 1mo
Leftcoastzen The film is wonderful, it‘s fun to see Norman Mailer as Stanford White, James Cagney in his last role I believe as the police commissioner.Elizabeth McGovern plays Nesbit so well. Beautiful soundtrack.I‘ll be quiet now!😃 1mo
swynn @Suet624 I need to read more of it! What are your favorites besides Ragtime? 1mo
swynn @Leftcoastzen Now I really must see it. 1mo
Suet624 Well, Ragtime was the best in my opinion, but the one that had the most impact on me was The Book of Daniel. It was told from the perspective of the son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. I have always been fascinated by that case and the two sons of the couple, so it carried extra weight for me. I thought he did a great job with the book. 1mo
TheAromaofBooks Great progress!!! 1mo
swynn @Suet624 The Book of Daniel is (I think) also ELD's first book, so the one I was inclined to read next. That confirms my choice. Thanks for the rec! 1mo
Suet624 Crossing my fingers the book still holds up. I read it years ago. 💕 1mo
31 likes13 comments
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swynn
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"The Merciless Foe" (1965)

Perry's ship is attacked and forced to make an emergency landing on an unknown planet. Their attackers are descendants of a Terran colony on planet Plophos, who wish to break the power of the Terran-Arkonide empire. And capturing or killing Perry Rhodan would do much to achieve that goal. The manhunt ensues.

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swynn
The Women in the Walls | Amy Lukavics
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Mehso-so

(2016) Lucy lives with her father and aunt in a historic mansion, where the family's livelihood consists of hosting rich-people parties. Then the cook dies, the aunt disappears, and Lucy's cousin starts hearing voices in the walls ...

It's a YA haunted house story with an ambiguous setting: clues about the story's location in space and time are so mixed that I expected it to end as Just A Dream. But it has its moments, and the ending delivers

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swynn
On the Come Up | Angie Thomas
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(2019) This was author Thomas's follow-up to the terrific "The Hate U Give"; it riffs on similar themes, but focuses on a talented teenager trying to shape her own identity and relationships while also dealing with social pressures and prejudices, and trying to break into a predatory music industry. I found it powerful.

Also, if any audiobook publishers happen to be dropping by: keep hiring Bahni Turpin please and thank you.

ChaoticMissAdventures Bahni Turpin is one of my favorite narrators ❤️ 1mo
38 likes1 stack add1 comment
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swynn
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Pickpick

(1976) First in Stableford's "Daedalus" series, featuring a ship whose mission is to visit colony worlds after a crisis on Earth cut off contact for generations. In this one they visit a planet which at first seems to be a paradise. But the Daedalus crew soon discover environmental and political crises in the making. The pace suffers from too much expository dialog but the ideas are intriguing and engaged me throughout

review
swynn
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Pickpick

(2021) It's about how cults use manipulative language -- and how the same techniques are used by groups that you might not think of as cults, like Amway or CrossFit. It's an enlightening look at cult-ish group behavior, and Montell's snarky, cynical voice is a pleasure.

29 likes1 stack add
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swynn
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And there's my ,#BookSpinBingo card for April. Thanks again @TheAromaofBooks !

IndoorDame Under the Whispering Door is on my list this month too! 2mo
swynn @IndoorDame Book buddy! I hope we both like it. 2mo
IndoorDame @swynn me too !😁I loved his first so I have high hopes! 2mo
See All 9 Comments
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!!! Looks great!!! 2mo
SRWCF So many awesome covers! 2mo
MegaWhoppingCosmicBookwyrm I spy Cthulhu! 😍🐙❤️ Is that a Lovecraft book cover or something new that I need to add to my TBR? 😅 2mo
swynn @MegaWhoppingCosmicBookwyrm ? It's "Disciples of Cthulhu", a collection of mine Lovecraft-mythos stories by various authors like Fritz Leiber, Brian Lumley, and Ramsey Campbell. 2mo
MegaWhoppingCosmicBookwyrm @swynn Oooh, thank you! I‘ll run off and add it now! 😅 2mo
swynn @MegaWhoppingCosmicBookwyrm Hope we both like it! 2mo
31 likes9 comments
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swynn
The Disciples of Cthulhu | Edward P. Berglund
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Well, it's another #BookSpin and #DoubleSpin and another pairing of two very different books. I'm not sure what a mashup would look like, but I wouldn't be surprised if Tim Powers already had a treatment sitting in a notebook somewhere.

Thanks for doing this again, @TheAromaofBooks

TheAromaofBooks Yay!! Good luck!! 2mo
MegaWhoppingCosmicBookwyrm Lol, I guess if I had just checked your feed I wouldn‘t have had to ask the question on your other post. 🤦‍♀️🤣 2mo
swynn @MegaWhoppingCosmicBookwyrm No worries. Nice to know others are watching! 😄 2mo
26 likes1 stack add3 comments
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swynn
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It started with a prayer.

#FirstLineFridays
@ShyBookOwl

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swynn
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I expected to score a couple more, but at least I got one #BookSpinBingo in March. Feeling good about April ...

@TheAromaofBooks

TheAromaofBooks Yay!!! Fantastic month!! 2mo
29 likes1 comment
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swynn
Comfort Me With Apples | Catherynne M. Valente
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(2021)

Well dang Cat Valente can I have my gut back now please?

ChaoticMissAdventures This one keeps cropping up around me, must get to it! 2mo
swynn @ChaoticMissAdventures The peer pressure is right on this one. Hope you like it as well as I did 2mo
34 likes1 stack add2 comments
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swynn
A Complicated Love Story Set in Space | Shaun David Hutchinson
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(2021) Three teenagers wake up in and around a damaged spaceship, not knowing how they got there or why. Adventures and romance ensue. It's light (mostly) and moves fast (always) and I enjoyed it.

It's also another from the list of books that Texas lawmaker Matt Krause wants to remove from libraries. So thanks Matt for the rec and bless your little heart.

Read #BannedBooks , y'all!

Suet624 Oh brother. These people. 😳😩 2mo
34 likes2 stack adds1 comment
review
swynn
Mage of Fools | Eugen Bacon
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(2022) Here's a good one, set in an African kingdom with a toxic government, where stories are outlawed and men are disappearing, and near the seat of power lurks a mad scientist who may not exactly be human. And oh reader the lovely vivid expressive prose. Must read more Eugen Bacon.

34 likes1 stack add