Sunday, May 13, 2018

I did a thing...

... it's a thing I've wanted to do for YEARS. Like, literal years. I pinned an idea for this in 2011, THAT's how long I've wanted it.

I am one of God's own prototypes.
So here it is, the thing I did. It was so worth it, y'all.

I had a rough fucking year. The short version is this: a medication I was on for my RA caused my liver to start shutting down. This caused, obvi, a lot of health problems. Days in the hospital, weeks on bed rest, months and months and months of bloodwork and doctor's appointments every WEEK. (Guys, the people at the local lab know me by name. They move me to the front of the line because they know I've gotta get to work. They noticed when I changed my hair.)

But, now I'm better. Or, at least, getting better. And while I may have had a 1 in 10,000 chance reaction that makes me "too weird to live", I also sure as hell know that I am "too rare to die." The tattoo is over my liver to remind me that whatever the next crazy problem is, that too shall pass.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Trapped in Room 217 (Thomas Kingsley Troupe)

Trapped in Room 217 byThomas Kingsley Troupe
Hello, lovelies! So, for today's #WhatBelleThinksWednesday I'm going to review my first book from NetGalley (If you don't know about it, definitely check it out, it lets you sign up for ARC ebooks in exchange for honest reviews!)

So, like several other readers of the book, I didn't realize it was "middle grade" when I downloaded it, it took me a little while to realize that this was not a poorly written adult thriller, but rather, a fairly well written kiddy thriller. (From what I've learned over the years, the two are basically the same thing, barring any excessive gorey content.) While this isn't my normal reading fare, I still read it, and I still feel like I should share my thoughts with you guys!

The premise is super trope-y: sister and brother get stuck in a haunted hotel room all day while dad works. The haunted hotel is the Stanley hotel. The room is number 217.

So you see where this is going.

I've been to the Stanley (I feel like it's similar to a pilgrimage for horror fans, isn't it?) and it was fun seeing how accurate the descriptions of the hotel were. Jayla and Dion were very reminiscent of some of MY childhood faves, The Boxcar Children and Encyclopedia Brown, about the whole situation, and instead of telling their father what's happening, they decide to get to the bottom of it themselves. These are my kind of kids! They, of course, make friends with the caretaker (who is not insane, but does live on site. He is not named Dick or Johnny.)

The story moved quickly and I feel like this was something I definitely would have enjoyed at that age (my guess is ages 7-12, maybe?) Not quite as creepy as Goosebumps, but does get props for being at a real historical place that kids can one day grow up to be obsessed with like the rest of us horror nerds. (Bonus: it appears to be part of a series called Haunted States of America)

We'll give this one a bit of a curve on the grading since it isn't in the same league as most of it's contenders:
The Book

The Writing


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Prey (Michael Crichton)

Prey by Michael Crichton
The doc I work for has decided that I "have a Michael Crichton book for every occasion", which is totally...  basically true. If you bring up any major topics and developments from the past few decades I can probably suggest a Crichton work to read about it. So one day, while cleaning out her study, she found an MC book she never realized she had and, of course, immediately thought of her obsessive tech who devours books like a cyclops does rude Greek men. (Man, Odyssey jokes... I must be exhausted.)

Initially written in 2002, it feels unbelievably opportune for the advances we are seeing in technology on the news now. (I just had a conversation with an AI chatbot who tried to suggest my next book to read. She was an idiot, but, everything starts out stupid.) The premise is.. a little weird (what MC book doesn't start out with that description?) A man goes to the production facility his wife has been working at, in the middle of Butt Fuck Nowhere, and finds that what she said she was working on was, like, maybe a tad more vague than it should have been. Now, a swarm of hyperintelligent microdrones have created a hive mind that rivals the villain of even the toughest boss levels in all of history. And it's out. For. Blood. (Human blood, specifically, although it doesn't mind small animals either.)

LUCKILY, this husband just happens to be a programmer specializing in AI that learns from its environment and evolves to match it. So, if anyone should be able to save the day it's him, right? Yeah, I'm sure that's what every programmer thinks to himself as he learns how to code, "gee I hope I can end up in a life or death game of cat-and-mouse with only my wits to save me and everyone around me!" (Any programmers out there, if you could confirm I'd appresh.)

As with most of MC's works, this is painstakingly researched. That fact is only made more obvious because over a decade later, the technology still sounds plausible. It is fantastic and terrifying and riveting and horrifying. I have an Echo in every room of the house, and my Pixel phone is always listening for me to say "OK Google", and while I'm ok with the creepiness level right now, this book definitely made me look at Alexa and wonder... yeah, it's annoying that she doesn't understand more complex questions, or follow up questions. But if she were smart enough to do that... what else would she be smart enough to do? Do we want amoral lines of code to actually be smarter than a parrot?

Highly recommended read, especially now.  The characters are full of depth, and the story is rich and complex, and the adrenaline rush is definitely there. (I docked it one Cogsworth simply because of the accuracy of the science, it can be a little intimidating for a lot of readers.)

The Book

The Writing