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« August, 2014 »

Friends with Boys   book icon  
by Faith Erin Hicks (2012)

read: 31 August 2014
rating: [+]
categories: fiction, graphic novel

I first became aware of Faith Erin Hicks when I read the graphic novel that she illustrated, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong. This story about a homeschooled girl’s transition to a regular high school while dealing with the absence of her mom is written and illustrated by Hicks. It’s a great story that looks at a lot of various gender roles and expectations without bogging you down in a politicky story. The high school felt real, the story felt realistic and not preachy. Very well done.

Life Inside a Shell   book icon  
by Donald Jackson (2013)

read: 30 August 2014
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

I admit, I bought this book because I had some credit at Harvard University Press and this had a great cover. Plus, I like turtles. What I did not know is how interesting turtles are from a physiological perspective. They can go without air for months. Months! They also have a funny way of breathing because they don’t have a conventional ribcage. And they make use of nutrients stored in their shells during the long hibernating period that they have. And their hearts work in a weird way and they have metabolism that’s all over the map from one speed to 10000x that speed (in contrast, the human metabolism ranges from about one speed to 4x that speed). Jackson looks into many of this interesting facts and describes the research that allowed him to discover or support these assertions. It’s a short well-written book for people who enjoy biological sciences.

Borderliners   book icon  
by Peter Høeg (1994)

read: 27 August 2014
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I think I am nearing the end of my patience with books that gradually mete out little bits of the story over time. This book is great, really terrific and Hoeg is wonderful. At the same time the combination of unreliable juvenile narrator, the jumping around of the timeline, and the “What is actually going on here?” aspect to the whole thing made this a bit less enjoyable than it might have been. Sometimes I think that this entire book list should be called “Books that were almost perfect except...” because there’s always a thing. In this book it was the above issues but also the ending which had pages and pages which were talking about the importance or relative issues concerning Time. Which were interesting but I was still struggling to pick up the plot line and it felt like a different essay by Hoeg that was tossed in here for reasons unknown. A good book. I read it in one sitting. I don’t really recommend that.

The Windup Girl   book icon  
by Paolo Bacigalupi (2010)

read: 25 August 2014
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Remember how you saw that episode of Star Wars that you were really excited about and it turned out the thing that got everyone all out and fighting with each other was ... a trade war? This book is sort of like that. The textures of a post-collapse society where the world is run by calorie men and the mastodon union and generippers is really great but the plot inside the texture is a little.... slow? It’s all deal-making and deal-breaking and the “what actually HAPPENED here” story gets dribbled out over time. I enjoyed this book but there was a lot of blablabla dealmaking stuff about high level government stuff which just didn’t push my particular buttons.

Odds Against Tomorrow   book icon  
by Nathaniel Rich (2013)

read: 16 August 2014
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I could not, for the life of me, remember the name of this book as I was reading it. It was suggested to me by people who had liked the other books I’d recently read and I liked it but did not love it. It didn’t cohere. The main character wasn’t particularly sympathetic. It seemed to end in the middle. The general topic--disaster prognosticators and insurers and what happens when NYC is well and truly underwater--is fascinating but then the story is populated with Gibson-like nearly cyberpunk cool characters who I didn’t really understand. Book was at its best talking about drowned NYC, at its worst when trying to move the story along with character development.

Lexicon   book icon  
by Max Barry (2014)

read: 12 August 2014
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Loved this book but it was really dark. Someone suggested it to me as an intelligent and rapid specfic thriller. I’d really enjoyed other books especially Suarez’s Daemon and a few others and I tore into this right after reading Brilliance. And it was good, the two books have a very very similar format (fast paced chapters interspersed with pop culture types of references) and plot (big changes in the world and totalitarian type government secretly trying to gain more power) but other than that, they’re different. This one starts off for a long time with you pretty unclear as to what’s going on and it jumps around a lot in time. I usually hate this as a device but it worked really well in this one. I’m going to go and find more stuff that Max Barry has done.

A Better World   book icon  
by Marcus Sakey (2014)

read: 12 August 2014
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Saying this is not as quite as good as the first book is only a small negative since I liked the first book SO MUCH and this one was a little less interesting and a little more high-body-count. Still good. Still keeping me flipping the pages and wondering what happens next.

Brilliance   book icon  
by Marcus Sakey (2012)

read: 10 August 2014
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Suggested to me by a friend, this dystopian book is a bit like Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear. Suddenly for no particular reason people are being born smarter... a lot smarter. And what happens? The government implements a crackdown to keep these people under control. Which, as you might guess, backfires somewhat. A really good social type of thriller.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)   book icon  
by Mindy Kaling (2012)

read: 4 August 2014
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

I don’t know much about Kaling. I’ve always sort of randomly liked her but mostly only knew her from The Office. So I was looking forward to getting to know more about her. And this book of essays is sometimes funny and sometimes annoying but it’s one of those books that has the feeling of a “let me tell you my secrets” thing but at the end of it, I still didn’t know why she has a different last name from her parents. I mean I think I know and I could check Wikipedia, but I am not sure. In any case, fun book, funny read.

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