Not really too much about puzzles, this was a solid workmanlike thriller about the quest to figure out an ancient secret. Our protagonist is a former high school football star who became somewhat of a puzzle-solving savant after a head injury. He’s a compelling character but some of the others are less so and there’s some dull explication of plot-necessary points that I felt could have gone better. Engaging not amazing.
Another really rich and dense book by Nick Harkaway, suggested to me by someone after I said I’d liked Titanium Noir. A complex story about an island community living out their last days before a forced evacuation that keeps getting postponed. Our protagonist is a representative of the British Empire who is no longer the ruling power on the island, and there’s a shady “fleet” which stays just offshore, where all sorts of bad stuff goes on.
Let’s Talk About It. A great book about how to talk about some of the tough questions surrounding sexual health and related topics for young people. Moen and Nolan are well known as the Oh Joy Sex Toy people and if you like their work there, you’ll love it here as well. Just helpful solid advice delivered in a matter of fact manner but not dry, dull, or academic. A really diverse group of characters, so hopefully everyone can see themselves somewhere in it.
A book that looks at the infrastructure that we have for electricity, water and internet, who builds it, who benefits, who gets kind of screwed over. It’s really easy to follow and engaging. The illustrations make sense without being overly complicated. Well done, easy to understand, and informative.
A book on a shelf for a long time which I finally picked up. A look at three men (Tesla, Edison, Westinghouse) who were a big deal in early electricity in the US and the larger orbit of other men around them. Not as interesting as I had hoped. A lot of long quotes from other source material, diversions into side stories that did a lot of “scene setting” which I was not as interested in, and it did not add a lot to what I already knew about all three men profiled.
This book was about a reality show competition to be the first couple sent to Mars as part of a billionaire’s “Let’s go to a new planet since we’ve wrecked this one” plan. The woman wants to go and gives the competition her all. Her stoner agoraphobic boyfriend stays behind, tending to the pot plants they’d been growing and selling. Both of them ruminate a lot on the future of the planet, and what their relationship meant and whether they’d made the right decisions. There are a lot of complex thoughts about their families of origin The book ends in a very weird place but overall a fun read.
This was a terrific palate cleanser after The Librarianist. Written by someone who actually knows what goes on in a rare books department of a university library, it’s a story about missing books but ultimately about power and money and what “progress” looks like. Female protagonist, a lot of complicated characters, takes place in Canada but could be at nearly any large Western university. There’s a mystery at the center of it and a bunch of terrible people but also some redeeming ones.
I told a friend I was looking for a fantasy-ish book that wasn’t just “dragons fighting wizards” (no shade, just not my thing) and this book was both amazing and also terrible. Impressive world building, luxurious writing, lots of great tale-telling but long and slow slow slow and ultimately full of a lot of recursive stories without enough central plot to want to take all the little diverging paths. Few female characters and no good ones. I felt weird about not liking it because it’s so obviously a good book fro some people, just not for me.
This was a great read-it-in-an-afternoon YA novel about a future world where young people in the New Zealand of today (2090?) do “foreign” exchange with young people from the past, in this case a long time ago in the 1990s. The giant corporation in charge of it all seems to have some secrets. A wide cast of LGBTQ characters and some nice commentary about ways the world is, or could be, better in the future.
A pretty interesting Korean SFF novel which envisions a future where there is AI and a fancy space elevator but still the same old corporate fuckery and warring factions vying for power. The space elevator is attached to one island and the history of that island, and who tells it, are somewhat in play during this story. I had a little bit of trouble with keeping the names straight (a me-problem) since there are a few generations of folks in the same family being discussed, but there’s a great hard-boiled “external affairs” guy who narrates a lot of this. Very narration-heavy generally.