I'm a geek-of-all-trades. Basically this means, I have at least a cursory knowledge of almost any geeky subject, and more often than not an extremely in depth knowledge of said subject. I do a lot of vlogging these days, sometimes about books, mostly about other things. If you're interested, check out my channel: http://youtube.com/jalestro I am also on the twitters: http://twitter.com/jalestro


Intrusion - Ken MacLeod I have a hard time rating this book. I found the narrative generally slow and a bit boring. It didn't keep my interest for more than a page or two at a time.That said, the ideas that the book deals with are well illustrated and engaging. I don't know if the slow, often boring plot was a necessary side effect of the in-depth analysis and rich world building that help paint a very scary, and extremely plausible view of the future. The dystopian utopia that the characters live in and how it is contrasted with the other side of their "Warm War" shows a lot of things that are on the way to very wrong in our society.This is, of course, the goal of great sci-fi: paint a picture of a world gone wrong to throw our current world in stark relief and highlight the things that are wrong or going wrong today.Intrusion does that very well. It's just not that engaging to read (until the last 50 pages).If you have the time, read it for the ideas, themes and analysis, but don't expect much from the plot.

Rule 34

Rule 34 - Charles Stross This book ends with one of those "Oh, that makes so much sense!" twists. It may not be as exciting as a "OMG WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?" twist, but arguably as satisfying. The 2nd person narration takes a lot of getting used to and made me feel like I was playing a tabletop RPG... one in which I had no control over the characters. It was jarring for the first ~30% of the book, but was effective for the story in the end.

To Say Nothing of the Dog

To Say Nothing of the Dog - Connie Willis The time travel system in this book is amazing. I have so many thoughts on it I don't want to spoil anything in this review. All I will say is that it's well written, very engaging and often very funny. Not to mention raising very interesting issues about chaos theory and time travel and free will. tl;dr read this book


Jam - Yahtzee Croshaw This is a fun, quite ridiculous, apocalypse story. As you can expect from Yahtzee, if you've seen his videos, the writing is very clever and engaging.Definitely worth the read.

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green F**k. This book is devastatingly brilliant. Read it.

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe: A Novel (Vintage)

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe - Charles Yu Most meta book I've ever read but also one of the best. Even half way through I was starting to recommend it to anyone who would listen.

A Liar's Autobiography: Volume VI

A Liar's Autobiography Volume VII - Douglas Adams, Graham  Chapman I have absolutely no idea if any of this book is true (it is called a "Liar's Autobiography after all). I find that I didn't care in the least while reading it and enjoyed it immensely.

Angel & Faith Volume 1: Live Through This

Angel & Faith: Live Through This - Christos Gage, Rebekah Isaacs, Phil Noto, Joss Whedon This book started out amazing and heartwrenching but kind of fizzled as it went. I was hovering between 3 and 4 stars on this review. The first issue pulled it up to a 4 - classic Joss Whedon style storytelling at its finest. The rest was... meh. I'll keep reading the series because it's BtVS Universe and hopefully it'll pick up again.

Something Rotten (Thursday Next 4)

Something Rotten  - Jasper Fforde This entire series is fantastic. After a bit of a slump in book 3, Fforde really stepped it up again in this one and was back at the quality level I expected after books 1 and 2. I'm looking forward to books 5 (First Among Sequels) & 6 (One of Our Thursdays Is Missing) as well as his other books The Big Over Easy, The Fourth Bear and Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron all sitting on my shelf waiting to be read.

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town - Cory Doctorow I loved this book for 2 reasons.1) It was a ridiculous and fun story. Easy to read, and never a dull moment. The character of Alan/Arthur/Antoine/etc is quirky (as expected being the son of a Mountain and a Washing Machine) and the development of his family dynamic through the story is really compelling.2) As it was originally released in 2005 and deals with contemporary technology (somewhat bleeding edge at the time) it is really interesting to see, 7 years later, how drastically different the technological landscape is today. In 2005, it was rare for a laptop to have a built-in wifi card. Hell, it was rare for people to have a laptop. The Blackberry was the closest thing to what we now consider a smartphone and it was hardly that. PDAs & Palm Pilots were still a big deal. A plan to blanket Toronto in free Wifi was revolutionary. It feels almost archaic reading about this world again and remembering back to 2005 and how things were then.As with any Cory Doctorow book, his personal politics bleed through a little bit, but he has some really good points on freedom of speech and free access to information that never get in the way of the story. (If anything, they add to it and make you think about how these ideas could apply today in the age of smartphones and apps).Finally, if I've convinced you to read this book (and you should), Cory is not one to make a claim and not back it up with his own material. By which I mean, you can download it for free (completely legally) from his website, in PDF, txt, html or any e-book reader format you want. A wild book appears!

Shadow & Claw: The First Half of 'The Book of the New Sun'

Shadow and Claw - Gene Wolfe The world built in this first half of the story is fantastic. The 1st person narrative written as a memoir is compelling and well implemented. The main character is quite sexist, but having been raised in an all-male society of torturers, this is not surprising, and anything else would feel forced.Overall, I highly recommend this series to anyone who likes intricate and beautifully built worlds with a good dose of intrigue and mystery. Not to mention some truly strange goings-on.

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, Book 3)

Mockingjay - Suzanne  Collins This one was as predictable and shallow as the other 2 but I found it boring to boot. Where the others were at least compelling at parts (usually the action sequences) this one plodded along through useless exposition that felt a lot like "and then we ate dinner and it was bland, but then we went hunting so the food was better".Overall, the series was ok, but didn't at all live up to the hype.

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, Book 2)

Catching Fire - Suzanne  Collins Characters are aggravatingly think and stupid for most of the story, and the plot is slow and boring. The action sequences are fun though, and I'm interested enough to read the last one.

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games  - Suzanne  Collins Nothing spectacular, I needed something mindless and escapist and this worked perfectly, making up for my lack of cable TV.

Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die

Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die - Randall Munroe, James Foreman, K. Sekelsky, Camron Miller, John Chernega, David Michael Wharton, K.M. Lawrence, Jeffrey C. Wells, Vera Brosgol, Kit Yona, J. Jack Unrau, Jeff Stautz, Aaron Diaz, Matthew Bennardo, Yahtzee Croshaw, Douglas J. Lane, Brian Quinlan, Kate Beaton Awesome concept, some great stories, some not so great. Overall worth the read.

Night of the Living Trekkies (Quirk Fiction)

Night of the Living Trekkies (Quirk Fiction) - Kevin David Anderson, Sam Stall Fantastic, super geeky very quick read. I literally couldn't put it down, even to do homework or eat. It's now 5 am and I just finished reading the entire book in a single day. If that's not a glowing recommendation, I don't know what is.Did I mention there's a Star Wars-quoting Princess Leia?

Currently reading

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores
Jen Campbell
Dinosaur Comics, fig. e: Everybody Knows Failure Is Just Success Rounded Down
Ryan North, Andrew Hussie
One of Our Thursdays Is Missing: A Thursday Next Novel
Jasper Fforde
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Arthur Conan Doyle
The Alloy of Law
Brandon Sanderson