May 16th, 2015

_Priceless_, Shannon Mayer SPOILERS

Published by Hijinks Ink Publishing, which _looks_ like it may be a single-author press, but they've got an anthology out with a bunch of authors so it's hard to be sure.

Whether you consider this a small indie publisher, or a layer concealing self-publication, the important point is that there are approximately the same amount of grammar awkwardness, wrong word (typically homophone, but not always) and so forth that I have grown to expect from Big Publishing Houses in the post cheap spell check error. So the editing is competent.

The writing is not anything amazing, but it isn't distractingly bad. Again, competent.

I think the biggest problem I had was in the North Dakota setting. There are a number of scenes in Bismarck, and some driving between Bismarck and her home (an aging farmhouse), a few hours drive away. North Dakota is described, early on as: "North Dakota is known for its farming, badlands, and good people." No mention of oil. No mention of the last several years boom. No "Bakken Formation". Also, no Minuteman Missiles. No Minot AFB. So there was a little cognitive dissonance, between the list of things _I_ think of when I think of North Dakota (I've removed from my list a bunch of other stuff, that I only know because an ex-boyfriend's parents were from Minot, and only including what I immediately thought of otherwise), and what was in that list and depicted as the background of the book. Oh, and trains.

Imminent SPOILERS Run away or that Harpy will Get You!!! Also, some possible triggery stuff about torture. Among other things.

Anyway. Rylee Adamson is a Tracker. Her sister (this isn't a spoiler, it is backstory) was Snatched by vampire(s) when Rylee was watching her at Deerborn Park at dusk. Rylee (adopted) was blamed for Berget (bio)'s disappearance by their parents and kicked out. An FBI agent named Liam O'Shea has been more or less chasing Rylee around ever since. Rylee has made a decade long career or Tracking other kids Snatched by supes, after bonding with Milly, a witch, and trained by Giselle (some sort of seer, increasingly nutty). This first entry in the series starts with Milly being accepted into a Coven and being required to cut all ties with everyone non-witchy. Obvs, that's a culty sort of thing to do and you, the reader, recognize that and know it won't turn out well. Rylee gets a job, worries about Giselle, and is tracked down by her pet werewolf (he left the house and hitched a ride on a semi because his Pack is trying to hunt him down and kill him). Then things get exciting. She gets warning messages on her bathroom mirror. A bunch of witches attack her at her house. O'Shea runs smack into a bunch of supernatural stuff, including a spell. And here we encounter the next problem in the story.

Protagonists can't be _too_ awful right off the bat. Once the reader has bonded with the protagonist, the protagonist can go off and do really awful, awful stuff, and, up to whatever our limit is, we'll justify it. Adamson walking away from the bespelled O'shea is a little iffy. Not too iffy, because she doesn't actually know what happened to him. But he went to a fair amount of trouble to save her, and she just walks away. (Extenuating circumstances, so this didn't trouble me too much.)

Adamson next does a series of things that walk right up to the TSTL line and then pee on it. She drives to New Mexico to see a Shaman she knows. The Shaman she knows is Gone, and replacement Shaman somehow cons her into giving him some of her blood (this really does not seem wise. At all), and she overdoes it and nearly passes out. Peeing on the TSTL line, for sure.

Anyway. Antics ensue. The Arcane Division of the FBI starts actually intruding on the action, as opposed to being repeatedly almost in the action. (Also, it sort of bugged me that Adamson went to all the bother to spend 2 hours at the hacker house printing out files on the Arcane Division, but never did get to read them. One way to avoid the infodump, I guess) Harpies show up, and that gives Adamson yet another child to rescue. There's an enormous showdown involving an insectoid demon, the coven of Bad Witches, a rep from the coven of Good Witches that makes the Bad Witches look like Decent People and I forget.

Fortunately, that really awful rep from the Coven's behavior finally convinces Milly that, in fact, joining the Coven is not the beautiful, wonderful experience she had hoped it would be. The team is back together, a couple kids have been saved and Rylee gets a job offer. There are a lot more books in the series if you want to find out what happens next AND there is at least one spinoff series.

Alas, I'm not sure I want to participate. True, the Bad Witches are pretty awful people, however, Rylee poking around in the internal organs of the Bad Witch to torture information out of her made me go, seriously? She's gonna die before you get anything useful out of her. What is that all about? It was the worst torture scene ever. On the one hand, Rylee _is_ definitely an action heroine who can really dish it out. On the other hand, her eating habits are terrible and would in no way support the amount of action she is engaging in. On the third hand, really awful torture scene. I'm pretty sure I can find something else to read that will be more satisfying; if I decide otherwise, I'll pick up book #2 (also .99 on Amazon, so, hey, cheap!) and review it if I finish it.

(I've edited the spelling of the park where Berget was snatched to Dearborn and then back again. Hmmm. I should just quit now, altho it is a question I had all through the book where that park even was.)

_Leviathan_, Jack Campbell SPOILERS

Actual title: _The Lost Fleeet: Beyond the Frontier: Leviathan_

SPOILERS! The Black Fleet is Coming to Git Ya!

Executive summary: don't start the series here! Jack Geary and what's left of his fleet after parts are carved off to protect the government jump to Super Sekrit Binary Star System to deal with the Black Fleet (AI base and fleet). They are successful (sort of).

Long form: After tangling with some weird, stealth ships that seem to have been built by his own team, Geary concludes that there must really be an alternate home base somewhere (Unity Alternate), and that's where the Black Fleet is based. Step 1: distribute software patches that will enable the Good Guys to "see" the Black Fleet (officially distributed software is blinded to the ships. And, it turns out, a lot of other stuff, too.). Step 2: disrupt civilian government efforts to cover up the existence of the Black Fleet/return to status quo. Step 3: fund repairs to the Fleet. Step 4: figure out where the Black Fleet/Unity Alternate is. Step 5: Go there and try not to die while Step 6: destroying Black Fleet and its ability to rebuild.

The expected supporting plot is ably presented: where could it possibly be hiding! Oh, at a binary star. _That's_ what the Dancers were talking about (important preceding step -- improve communications with the Dancers. Of course, in haiku!) But then how can you get there? Via a Super Sekrit Hypernet Gate. So then they have to convince someone In the Know to turn over access credentials.

Rione gets her husband back, but there's not much left there, so she gets one of the Best Deaths Ever pulling the plug on the Hypernet Gate to destroy everything at Unity Alternate that isn't hiding behind ... the other star of the binary system.

I keep wondering if Campbell is gonna be able to pull another convincing Bad Guy out of his hat for Geary to fight. And yet, he keeps coming up with more. This was a good one, altho Out Of Control AI That Is Nonetheless Kinda Boneheaded is a little overdone. But that's okay. Campbell isn't trying to do new stuff; he's reworking old material in a new context and it's always a pleasure (for me, anyway) to read. (Well, okay, the duct tape jokes a few books back when we first met the Dancers were a little lame.)

getting names right

Well, it is certainly easy to make mistakes with names!

But I'm trying to read Laloux's _Reinventing Organizations_, and I've skipped the foreword, because I'd hate to ditch Laloux because he got somebody foolish to write an intro that included "leading edge type" as part of a description. But I'm only a few pages in and several worrisome things have already happened.

(1) I'm all over making fun of Aristotle. Truly! He was an idiot. But in this case, his claim that women have fewer teeth than men is presented as, hey, nobody counted and if they had counted they would have discovered that women had the same number of teeth as men. Well, in a world of modern dentistry, where we have a lot of our teeth even as adults, that works. But just going around and counting women's teeth 2000 years ago and comparing them to men's teeth, alas, probably would have supported Aristotle's assertion.

(2) R. Buckminster Fuller is quoted at the beginning. Only he is listed as Richard Buckminster Fuller. This is right up there with writing E.E. Cummings, instead of e.e. cummings. It's not wrong, but it's sure not right.

(3) Finally, and what prompted this post, Michael Gershon is mentioned as Michael Gerson. Oops.