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REVIEW: Quantum Night by Robert J. Sawyer

So I mentioned reading it yesterday, but just finished so I thought I’d share my review as posted on GoodReads. They have a FABULOUS new (well, teehee, new to me!) feature – they can auto-create a blog post for me out of my GR reviews. This is great news because it means I won’t forget to move my reviews onto here! They aren’t usually the lengthy things that I used to write as blog posts, but at least it’s some thoughts on what I read. They’ll start auto-creating with the next book – I didn’t know it was available until after I started this post. But hopefully it’ll mean more coming from me on a regular basis… Two caveats: first, I don’t do plot reviews typically – to me, a review isn’t a summary or book report, it’s what I liked or didn’t and why. So if you’re looking for a plot summary, I’m not your best source – although if you have direct plot questions, I’m happy to try to answer them if you leave a comment. And second, I don’t review everything I read and I sometimes comment on things I don’t read, because (a) I like knowing what people didn’t like as well as what they did and (b) I forget what books I’ve started and discarded, teehee, so need notes to remind myself! Happy reading…

Quantum Night
by Robert J. Sawyer

NB: There’s been some controversy over this one in the reviews/comments I’ve seen, but here are my two cents.

I don’t know that Quantum Nightis so much a book you “like” – there’s zero sense of “gee, cool, I feel great after reading that, how pleasant that story was!” – so much as a book you find thought provoking and conversational or not. It was the most violent and disturbing of his that I’ve read so far, although given subject matter that’s de rigeur I guess. But still, I do always enjoy his writing style and the way he makes scientific concepts more accessible – even if, as with this one, I find his conclusions disconcerting and uncomfortable… This confirmed for me that he’s an excellent storyteller though, because I did find it hard to put down even when I was uncomfortable. He finds ways to share his theories of what the world is vs. what it could be through fiction, and while I’m always aware of what he’s doing and what his overall sociopolitical philosophy is, whether I agree with it or not, I always find myself thinking about things a bit more after reading him – and I still always manage to get lost in the story. To my mind, that’s an impressive accomplishment for any author…

Incidentally, if you like Robert J. Sawyer or thoughtful sci-fi, a few of my other favorites of his are reviewed here.

Jill Elizabeth

A Random Homage to Greatness. Or a Great Homage to Randomness. Or Maybe Just Randomness.

So I’m trying to get back into writing these regularly, I really am – as a part of that, I’m making myself write even when I’m not sure what to write about. As I understand it, this is pretty much what writers do all the time (teehee), so I’m in good company. That’s comforting to say the very least. But while an author working on a book/story may not know what to write about in any given day, he has the luxury of never showing anyone the words he wrote on said given day. A blog, by definition, gets posted – which means when I don’t know what to say, you all (however small that number may be!) get to bear witness. Lucky me. And lucky you, teehee, since you’re stuck with whatever randomness happens to be in my head the same way I am as a result…

Today my headspace is full of a bunch of exceedingly random things – as usual. Featured headliners:

  • sick Step-Daughter (strep, eek),
  • a pending third-birthday party for Toddler Daughter and her myriad changing interests (at the moment she has no less than five FAVORITEST things, all of which she wants represented in copious and impossible quantities: a light up Barbie Mermaid, Play-Doh “cooker” things, Blaze and the Monster Machines, “fixer” tools, and Ben and Holly and the Wise Old Elf),
  • whether Crock-Pot will *ever* have my replacement stoneware potin stock,
  • why I routinely fall for Groupons - you know what I mean, the deal is great, la la la, UNTIL you go to redeem it and discover the previously unmentioned $25 minimum/$15 shipping/not redeemable on the day you want to go caveat,
  • the re-release of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods with TWELVE THOUSAND extra words (“hooray!!” and “how in the name of creation does he do it?!” simultaneously),
  • why in the name of all that is holy children’s television people announce a new episode TEN FREAKING DAYS before they air it (have they never MET a toddler?? “Mommy is it on yet?” is not exactly a soothing question when utter in a high-pitched child-whine on a perma-loop for over a week), and
  • why – DESPITE my presence on the DoNotCall list – I continue to receive an unconscionable number of calls asking for money.

And that’s just the top-of-list list.  There are a zillion more lurkers, trust me.  My headspace is like the bulletin board at the supermarket – full of layer upon layer of local business cards, lost dog flyers, and unredeemable coupons…

I’m going to focus on the Neil Gaiman bit today though. I know, I know – you were DYING to hear more about my gripes with Crock-Pot and Groupon, teehee, but you’ll have to wait until later to hear about those.  Just like The Husband.  Still, the amazing Mr. Gaiman wins out.

I got an email from GoodReads today announcing a new ebook deal on the re-release of American Gods.  Have I mentioned lately how much I love GoodReads??  Because I do. I have kept track of my own reading for years and years, using unwieldy (for me) Excel spreadsheets (I’m no computer wizard, teehee).  Then whiz-bang, GR comes along – they keep track for me, allow easy searches across years, let me keep track of what I’ve read and when… It’s amazing.  On top of that, it lets you link to other readers and their recommendations/thoughts on what you are reading/should read.  It’s like having an untold number of like-minded readers browsing with you.  And as if that wasn’t enough, they do giveaways and notifications when authors you like have new books or new deals.  I think it’s brilliant.  I even applied for a job there a while ago – they sent around an email that they were looking for people to join their company, for the express purpose of answering questions about books.  SERIOUSLY.  My dream job much?!  It was right after Toddler Daughter was born though, and I couldn’t commit to full-time, off-hours, from-home work with a one-month-old.  I know people do it every day, but it wouldn’t have worked for me at the time, trust me.  I wanted it to, but the fit wasn’t there, and unfortunately I’ve never seen the opening again… (Sidebar: If you’re from GoodReads, pleasepleaseplease feel free to call/write!)

Anyway, the email came.  (See what happened there?  I got sidetracked.  Happens on a scarily frequent basis.  Sorry…but don’t be surprised to see it time and again.)  I followed the link and read the new intro and note on the text from the author.  It was there that I saw that this edition has twelve thousand more words than the paperback I’ve been toting around for years, and that he considers this longer version the *true* version.  So of course I promptly ordered it. I can’t wait to read it, la la la.

My point isn’t that he’s great because I got a new, longer version of a book I love.  It’s that this man, this amazing and prolific and incredibly bizarrely uniquely talented writer (note the abundance of adverbs – perhaps THIS is why I’m not Gaimanesque…), has not only written an amazing story – he’s written two freaking versions that are thousands and thousands of words different and yet both fantastic.  How does he do that??  He comes out with new stuff all the time, writes a GREAT blog, travels and works on tie-ins and public/conference speaks…  I can’t manage BLOG POSTS a couple of times a week; he says so many widely disparate yet interesting things to say that he finds multiple ways to say them thousands of words apart!  I’ve got so much respect for that.  It’s like Jonathan Carroll, or Robert J. Sawyer – other major favorites.  Speaking of which – have you seen the newest RJS, Quantum Night??  Here’s a guy who makes quantum freaking physics accessible.  And not only accessible – exciting and interesting and terrifying and uplifting.  This new one has way  more violence than I’ve come to expect – although given the topic is psychopathy, I guess that’s de rigeur – but is still A-Mazing.  And Jonathan Carroll – like the others, he’s been writing for decade upon decade and the oldest books (like The Land of Laughs – holy incredible story telling with an unbelievable ending!) are some of the most relevant feeling…

How do these guys (and it’s not just guys, they just happen to be top of mind because I’m currently reading/have read them all recently).  I have stories in my head, but can’t seem to translate them without major effort – frequently of the “too much to deal with at the moment, let’s break for a House of Cards binge!” kind.  Yet these guys have staying power and longevity and write copious quantities of words without ever feeling like they’re repeating themselves.  It’s a gift, truly, and a sign of greatness.  Thank you to all of them , and to all the others who manage to take their crazy-ass headspace and translate (transcribe?) it for the rest of us – there are, after all, there are only so many episodes of House of Cards… ;)

Jill Elizabeth

Wow, am I Bad at This…

I was “back but not back” in JULY OF FREAKING 2015. That’s perilously close to a full year ago. I am lame. Seriously. I don’t mean to be, but it’s hard to gin up enthusiasm for something you don’t get paid to do when you ALREADY DON’T GET PAID TO DO ANYTHING. (teehee)

Honestly, in my lawyer days I performed legitimate work in exchange for legitimate pay. It was a simple, straightforward transaction. And since I lived alone, that was the entirety of my work. I had a title, an office, an expense account, and a regular paycheck. When I came home from said office, I took care of myself – but it could hardly be called work because I did what I wanted, when I wanted – even the things I didn’t particularly like doing (see e.g., #laundry, #grocery shopping, #tidying – the actual #cleaning being accompliaed by a fabulous #CleaningService) couldn’t really be considered “work” because they were done on my timeframe (sometimes with ridiculously long spans of time in between, hence my ginormous drawer of underwear and equally ginormous dry cleaning bills to avoid said #laundry).

Then I “retired” (translation: got paid to stop working – a VERY nice bit of work if you can get it!) and NOTHING I did was work. For a full-on year, I literally did nothing I didn’t want to do – it was #glorious.

Then I met the man who became The Husband, which led to The Marriage, The Step-Kids, and eventually The Toddler. Now it seems like all I do is work – with no title (beyond Mommy – and if ever a title was dubiously granted, that is the one), no office (I share that space with The Husband AND the school supply closet AND my myriad crap that has no other home), no expense account (beyond the one for sneakers that are constantly outgrown, fruit snacks, and K-cups to fuel the caffeine habits of myself, The Husband, and The Teenage Step-Daughter), and most definitely no paychecks of my own. DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND – I love my family, thank the universe for them everyday, and also thank it for the First World Problems associated with being lucky enough to stay at home and raise said kids. THAT BEING SAID (#caveat), I spend my days and nights working. Laundry, cooking, driving, tidying, cleaning, making lunches, solving problems, playing (YES – with a toddler this constitutes work)… It’s not bad work (#MommyOptimism), but it’s unpaid, unending, generally unacknowledged, and often under-appreciated – or at least it feels that way.

Which brings us full circle back to our beginning – it’s hard to gin up enthusiasm for MORE work that is unpaid, unending, generally unacknowledged, and often under-appreciated like blogging/reviewing…
Still, if I did it properly, it wouldn’t necessarily BE those things (unlike #MommyWork, notably and irritatingly) – so I am going to try to give it a legitimate go this round. It’s not going to look like it used to. You’re highly unlikely to get daily posts out of me, unless you want to hear me bitch and moan (and BELIEVE ME, no one does – just ask The Aforementioned Husband). It’s also not going to be the purist “only writing/reading” that it used to be – at least for a while. My life is not about writing/reading like it used to be in any way, shape or form. I still get to read, probably more than the realities of my life should dictate – and I have The Again Aforementioned Husband as well as The Aforementioned Toddler to thank for that (because they are both surprisingly amenable to seeing me sane and at least modestly cheerful as much as anything else, teehee again), so there’s likely going to be a fair amount of reviews/references to reading on here. There will probably be a fair amount of mommy-related stuff too – which I swore I’d not do, but can’t really avoid since the reality of my daily life is that it centers around being a mommy. It’ll be a work in progress, and I hope you’ll bear with me and offer comments, both positive and negative when necessary. I’m anticipating losing some of the old crowd (if anyone is still actually around teehee) as a result, but there’s naught to be done for that – hopefully I’ll pick up a few new like-minded (or at least like-situated) people as a result. Either way, it is what it is – both my life and this blog, teehee – and will be what it will be. #OverplayedCliche

BTW, are you impressed with the hashtag crap?? I don’t use social media beyond this blog and the occasional tweet or FB post to get free things, teehee, but I’m desperately trying to seem like I’m not the Luddite Dinosaur I really am in the hope that it’ll pay off in free stuff somehow… ;)

Thoughts/comments are always welcome. It takes a surprising amount not only of effort but also of shameless ego to blog – you have to assume that people are actually interested enough in your life/mind/thoughts to read regularly… I guess I have as healthy an ego as the next girl, but please feel free to poke it whenever you think I need it. Cheers and hopefully this will actually take this time!


Jill Elizabeth

Ok, I’m Not Sure I’m Back-Back, but I’m Back Today! :)

I just won a book on GoodReads, through their First Reads program, and wrote a review and thought I’d post it here too. I’m not really “reviewing” books again, as far as unsolicited donations, but when I do review something either on my own or as a result of being provided with a review copy, I will try to get them up here just to see if anyone out there remembers who I am… :)

Take care!

Wicked Charms (Lizzy & Diesel, #3)Wicked Charms by Janet Evanovich

My rating of the latest Lizzy & Diesel book, Wicked Charms: A Lizzy and Diesel Novel (Lizzy & Diesel)
: 4 of 5 stars

Predictable? You bet.
Formulaic? Indeed.
Did I mind at all? Not a bit…

I find this series to be fun. Pure, simple, unadulterated fun. The books follow a formula. The characters always act, well, in character. There aren’t a lot of surprises. But I don’t mind, because they are just plain fun to read.

If you like your books with hi-jinks ala Lucy and Ethel and sexual tension of the early Moonlighting, Bruce Willis/Cybill Shepherd variety, then these are up your alley. My one series wish is that Lizzy is a bit, well, wimpy – I keep wanting her to amp it up a little, be a little more Stephanie Plum and a little less Miss DePesto (sorry, another Moonlighting reference, and frankly most of you are probably to young to truly appreciate them, but I felt compelled to add them anyway!). But she is who she is, and that’s all good. And my one book complaint this time around is that there wasn’t as much Wulf as I like – he’s too bad to be truly good and too good to be truly bad and I think he adds the one bit of mystery/complexity that keeps the books from being too traditional beach-read romance. Still, as I said, they’re fun books and fun to read once a year when the latest iteration comes out. So check this one out if you haven’t!

Oh, and this was my first ever First Reads win – I never win anything, so thank you – so my copy was generously provided by the publisher, Ballantine.

View all my reviews

Jill Elizabeth

Sorry but I’m NOT Reviewing Right Now…

Just to be clear (and I’m sorry if this is a disappointment) – I am NOT taking on regular review requests at this time. I’m sorry, but there just isn’t any time… I know I posted one recently and made a big (for me) splash talking about getting back into the swing of things, but it’s just not working out and I keep getting review requests from very nice people about very interesting books, but unfortunately I simply can’t make any commitments to read/review things by request right now…

I do hope to get back on here and back into reviewing/writing, but I honestly don’t know when I will be able to do that with any regularity so in the interim PLEASE don’t request a review. When I am able to commit again, I promise to let you know – it will be posted on here and elsewhere. I feel bad constantly telling people no and it would save both you and me time and bad feelings if we could avoid that conversation altogether… :)

Thanks and good luck with your books – I do want to read them one of these days!!

Jill Elizabeth

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