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Joined 1 year, 4 months ago

Science fiction and fantasy. Astronomical Data Scientist at STScI/MAST in Baltimore. Opinions are my own. Follow me on Mastodon at Longer reviews on my blog:

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Strakul's books

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The Return of Fitzroy Angursell (Paperback, 2021, Underhill Books) 4 stars

Review of 'The Return of Fitzroy Angursell' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

This was a pretty fun book. While not as impactful as The Hands of the Emperor it was still enjoyable. Fitzroy is a particularly chaotic character, in sharp contrast with the meticulous and orderly Kip. It was clear even to me that Fitzroy has changed a lot, compared to all the legends alluded to in this book and the prior. The reconciliation of his past, present, and future is a bit of a theme and plays out with his interactions with old and new friends. Goddard's knack for powerful emotional encounters is a key driver to the plot. I look forward to her upcoming book, At the Feet of the Sun, for even more adventures!

For a full review, check out my blog:

The Hands of the Emperor (Hardcover, 2018, Underhill Books) 5 stars

An impulsive word can start a war. A timely word can stop one. A simple …

Review of 'The Hands of the Emperor' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This book was absolutely incredible. I had a hard time putting it down and kept messaging my friend as I reached certain points in the story. This was a powerful, wholesome story full of vibrant characters and subtle magic. I want to see where the story takes Kip, the Emperor, and their friends next. The characters, their growth, their relationships, and their place in the world is really what drives this story. The setting is also very intriguing with a mix of island culture and a splash of high fantasy.

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Elantris (2006) 4 stars

In 2005, Brandon Sanderson debuted with Elantris, an epic fantasy unlike any other then on …

Review of 'Elantris' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

This is a very nice, fun read. Compared to his later works, it's clear that Sanderson has grown a lot. The characters here are good, the plot decent, and the setting great, but over the years Sanderson has matured his style a lot and perfected his art. This is still nevertheless, a great read for those looking for a short dive into a fantastical world and are willing to forgive a few rough parts here and there.

For a full review, check out my blog:

The Shadow Rising (Paperback, 2012, Tor Books) 5 stars

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. …

Review of 'The Shadow Rising' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This is a great book in The Wheel of Time series. It picks up where The Dragon Reborn left off and sets the stage for a lot of cool things to happen with the various characters. It has a little bit of everything without focusing too much on a single group of characters, which will become increasingly hard as the cast of characters continues to grow.

Check out my full review at my blog:

Cytonic (2021, Orion Publishing Group, Limited) 4 stars

From the number one New York Times best-selling author of the Reckoners series, the Mistborn …

Review of 'Cytonic' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

This was a good continuation to the series. It's not as strong as the prior novels, but the secrets revealed push it up there. If you've been reading the Skyward novels then this one is a must as you get a better understanding of cytonics and learn what delvers actually are.

Check out my full review at my blog:

The Wheel of Time, Boxed Set I, Books 1-3: The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn (1993) 4 stars

The Eye of the World is a fantasy novel by American writer Robert Jordan, the …

Review of 'The Wheel of Time, Boxed Set I, Books 1-3: The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Another great stepping stone in the saga of The Wheel of Time. A plot that starts slow but by the end has you breathless; characters that continue to evolve as they embrace, or try to run from, their destiny; and a setting that grows clearer and more complex, this book has it all. This was a great addition to the series and, in my mind, a sort of capstone book that wraps up the first arc of The Wheel of Time. With the Dragon Reborn fully declared, the series takes on a new direction as the enemies become clearer and the stakes higher.

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The Great Hunt (The Wheel of Time, Book 2) (Paperback, 1991, Tor Fantasy) 5 stars

Review of 'The Great Hunt (The Wheel of Time, Book 2)' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Overall, this was a good book. It's not as strong as The Eye of the World, but does a good job of continuing the story and setting up some interesting threads that we will want to see resolved in the series. The reluctant hero is a big part of this particular book, but we see some payoffs with epic scenes near the end that cement their role in the story. It is a must read for fans of The Wheel of Time as it sets the stage for more to come.

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The Eye of the World (1990, Tom Doherty Associates) 5 stars

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. …

Review of 'The Eye of the World' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This book is where it all starts. Even at the onset, you can tell it's going to be a long ride. This book has it all, a fast-paced engaging plot that hints at a grander adventure to come; a unique cast of characters that grow and develop within the book, and for the rest of the series, too; and a setting that captures the imagination, whether it is of the magic, the cultures, or the legends of thousands of years past.

For a full review, check out my blog:

Second Foundation (2004, Bantam Books) 3 stars

Second Foundation is the third novel published of the Foundation Series by American writer Isaac …

Review of 'Second Foundation' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Overall, this was a fun book. I don't think it's as good as the first of the Foundation novels, but it still is pretty decent in continuing the story in that universe. It gives up some of the large time spans and grandiose scale to focus instead on a bit of a mystery which gives it a fresh take compared to the others. The Second Foundation itself is quite intriguing and makes you wonder how far along their plans will actually take them.

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Foundation and Empire (2004, Bantam Books) 4 stars

Led by its founding father, the great psychohistorian Hari Seldon, and taking advantage of its …

Review of 'Foundation and Empire' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

This is a great book if you're already in the Foundation story and it really sets the stage for the series. The two parts feel a bit disjointed, but that is only superficial. The whole premise is whether psychohistory can be changed by individual action. The first part suggests no, the second suggests yes. In addition to the interesting premise, the story is strengthened by better characters that grow and act for much longer than in the prior novel. And now the stage is set for a race to see who will reach the Second Foundation.

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Foundation (2004, Bantam Books) 4 stars

One of the great masterworks of science fiction, the Foundation novels of Isaac Asimov are …

Review of 'Foundation' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

I enjoyed re-reading Foundation and plan to continue to read the others in the series. As I've grown older I've become more appreciative of history and how it has shaped our lives, so reading about a science fiction setting where people effectively write the history they want to have is just fun.

The principles of psychohistory, the statistical study of masses of humans to predict their behavior, was fascinating and today's real-world applications of data science scratch at similar concepts. Of course, this is a science fiction book, but it nonetheless explores the what-if: what-if this psychohistory were real and could be applied on human civilization at large?

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Rogue Protocol (2018) 4 stars

"Sci-Fi's favorite antisocial AI is back on a mission. The case against the too-big-to-fail GrayChris …

Review of 'Rogue Protocol' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

The third of the Murderbot Diaries books. This was also quite interesting with some neat new characters, particularly Miki. Though it didnt feel as good as ART, it was still a curious bot that helped grow Murderbot. Overall the story was fun, but lacked some of the clarity and intrigue of Artificial Condition. However, it does set the stage for future novels.

Artificial Condition (2018) 5 stars

Review of 'Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries, #2)' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This is the second book of The Murderbot Diaries and I enjoyed it a lot more than the first one. It had a bit of a detective novel feel to it, even though it isn't anything like that. Plus I really enjoyed that there was another AI for Murderbot to talk to. I hope ART comes back in the future! Looking forward to reading more of these fun, short books.

River of stars (2013) 5 stars

Ren Daiyan was still just a boy when he took the lives of seven men …

Review of 'River of stars' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Like most of Guy Gavriel Kay's work, this book keeps you thinking deep thoughts. In this case, I wonder at the nature of history and legends and how individuals make ripples that bring lasting change to countless others. It is a beautiful book, tinged with sadness and regret. This book is about the Kitai Empire, modeled after China during its Song Dynasty, with its decadent lifestyle and the troubles that befall it. While the characters are decent, they are overshadowed by the idea of Kitai and end up like pawns in a great game whose actions are drops in the coming waterfall. Regardless, I enjoyed reading of their lives and cheered them on as they faced insurmountable odds.

For my full review, check out my blog: