2017 YITB Review



This is the smallest update/year in review I have ever done, and I want to take a minute to apologise to loyal readers of the blog.  It would seem that my bloggers have been in a pretty constant state of flux over the past year with lots of changes (some good, some not so good) and we’ve just let reviewing books slide by the wayside.

I am actually ashamed to say that I only managed to read about half a dozen books last year.  But this year seems better.  Things are leveling out.  I’ve made a list of the things that really matter in my life and I’m going to be doing a big push at the blog.


Thus, this year’s list is small but mighty.

The top Book in the Bag Books of 2017:

  • Go To Sleep, Little Farm – Mary Lyn Ray
  • Mix It Up – Herve Tullet
  • Owls Don’t Blink – A.A. Fair (Erle Stanley Gardner)
  • Desert Solitare – Edward Abbey
  • Lexicon – Max Barry
  • Idolators of Cthulhu – H David Blalock

Book Review – Lexicon

TITLE: Lexicon
AUTHOR: Max Barry
FORMAT: Hardback


Poets.  No, not the type that string words together into iambic pentameter.  Worse.  These poets understand words and language in ways that laypeople do not.  They can talk to somebody for ten minutes and understand what their segment is and know what words need said to end them entirely.

Wil Parke is a man on the run, and he doesn’t know why.  He’s got total amnesia.  Hell, he isn’t even sure that Wil Parke is his real name.  Oh, and a poet has gone rogue and wants him dead.  So two men kidnap him from the airport and spend much of the book just trying to keep his sorry ass alive.

The book flips between two story lines – one starts with Emily Ruff, who is recruited in California and becomes a poet.  The other story line centers around Wil.  Who is he, how can they keep him alive, and why does somebody want him?

The two stories come together in two places about as different as they can be – Broken Hill, Australia, and Washington, DC.   I know I’m not doing a good job explaining this, but really, I don’t want to give things away too much, and I’m not smart enough anyway. Max Barry was a friggin’ genius with this story.

I loved the background about the poets and that setup, and a lot of the information they were sharing about words is true. So it made the book extra realistic.

That said, I saw how the two stories were going to come together about halfway to when they did.  I didn’t mind, and I still enjoyed the book, but I could see how that might upset some readers a little bit.  Still, I thought the book was strong enough that it didn’t matter.

Max Barry is good about making you care about his characters, so even though you’re expecting xyz, you still want to see how it plays out.

Very happy with this one.  I give it 5/5.






Book Review – Machine Man

Machine Man
Max Barry

Okay, so, I love Max Barry. One of his books, Jennifer Government, spawned one of my favorite games, Nation States. He is probably the only Australian author I read (or the only one I can name, for that matter) and his stuff is a little aloof, just like I am. So when I heard (okay, okay, I realized it a bit late, but still) that there was another book out, I jumped at the chance and didn’t put it down until it was done.

And then I read this book.

In Machine Man, the main character is a research scientist who loses a leg in an accident with a large piece of equipment. He then sets out to build himself a better leg… After building himself one leg, he realizes that it is superior to his other leg, and it can’t reach its full potential unless he has a matching set.

The book then goes into the morality of building a better person. When do you stop? How far do you progress the technology? Who do you apply it to? When the company he works for starts secretly sealing his technology to make super soldiers, he gets justifiably upset and his company tries to take him out. In other words, a typical Max Barry story line – he is, after all, the king of

I liked the concept of the book. I like the main character and several of the secondary characters related to him. I liked the development of the PR people. But there’s a point in the story where the story line goes so far over the top that it gets… silly. [Side note, Iron Man 3 sort of did a few similar things…]

And the last third or so of the book sort of lost it for me.
The end was okay.

So as far as rating this book goes…
If you’ve never read Max Barry, I’d suggest starting with a different book. Jennifer Government are Company are my favorites. If you love everything he’s written and “OMG! Another Max Barry book!” then pick it up. But I really don’t suggest starting with this book. And because of that, I’m only giving it a three.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, Lexicon just came out and I’m the first person who gets to crack the cover of the library’s copy…

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