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« April, 2017 »

Journey to Munich   book icon  
by Jacqueline Winspear (2016)

read: 27 April 2017
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Really did not like the last book. Glad I stuck it out for this one. Winspear’s books about her intrepid female detective have been weirdly uneven of late. This one gets back on the more traditional track. Not as much dwelling on backstory and Dobbs' somewhat confusing emotional issues. More plot-based and some really interesting looks into pre-war Germany in the 30s at the time of the rise of Hitler. Enjoyable and at the end we’re looking at her doing more detecting.

Coin-Operated Americans: Rebooting Boyhood at the Video Game Arcade   book icon  
by Carly Kocurek (2015)

read: 24 April 2017
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

Mixed feelings about this book which I enjoyed but wasn’t totally sure where it was coming from. It reads like a set of disparate essays sort of grasping for a way to all be put together into someone’s dissertation. I recognized myself in the era she describes, as someone who frequented arcades before the crash (in fact I just got back from Funspot last week) but otherwise found some of her discussion a little too academic. This book was strongest when it was referring to things I had a connection to (the iconic Life photo of the gamers, the Gamer Gate stuff of modern day, books I’d read) and less when it’s just sort of waxing poetic about ideas of masculinity that don’t really seem rooted in theory as much as idle musings. Enjoyed but was not enthusiastic about.

Harvey   book icon  
by Herve Bouchard (2010)

read: 24 April 2017
rating: [+]
category: graphic novel

A short and beautiful graphic novel about a small French community and a young boy within it whose father suddenly dies. I picked this up from a library book sale pile and was impressed by the really interesting illustrations and the way the author seemed to have a handle on how to world of adults looks to children particularly at a difficult time.

All Rights Reserved   book icon  
by Gregory Katsoulis (2017)

read: 24 April 2017
rating: [+]
categories: fiction, ya

A college friend wrote this book! It’s a dystopian YA novel about a future world where everything is copyrighted, even the words you say out loud. It’s an interesting premise and the lead character opts out by refusing to say anything. Chaos ensues. Sort of. I liked a lot of the specific bits of social commentary in this book--food for poor people is made form 3d printers and one of the most coveted things you can get is a real orange--but I felt weird about the overall environment. I mean it’s tailored to me since there’s a climactic scene in a Very Rare Library but the whole thing was just super-bleak. If bleakness is your thing, this is a well thought out and well implemented cautionary tale about copyright and the increasing corporatization of everything.

Vortex   book icon  
by Robert Charles Wilson (2011)

read: 17 April 2017
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Enjoyed this sequel to the trilogy. Had a little more continuity than the second book in terms of seeing characters you recognized. This was true despite some of the book taking place 10000 years in the future. I thought Wilson did a good job with this huge leap and liked the way this story tied up fairly neatly.

Orfeo   book icon  
by Richard Powers (2014)

read: 14 April 2017
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Powers clearly has such passion for his subjects. I loved the Gold Bug Variations but was a little more adrift in this one because there were a lot of descriptions of musical stuff that I just couldn’t picture in my mind. Enjoyable but the main plot (guy is trying to do something hinky merging science and music and is maybe going to get in big trouble) gets interwoven with backstory enough so I really wanted to just read one linear story and not the intermerged one. This is the failure of me as a reader and not Powers but it made this book less awesome than it could have been.

A Dangerous Place   book icon  
by Jacqueline Winspear (2015)

read: 14 April 2017
rating: [0]
category: fiction

I would be stopping reading the Dobbs novels at this point except that I have been told they improve. This book is a radical departure from the previous books in a few notable ways 1. many of the major plot points happen before the book (the main character has many HUGE life events that happen before the novel takes place, this is weird 2. Maisie is sort of a jerk to the people who care about her. This wraps up by the end but it’s weird seeing the character be a jerk 3. there is a lot of expository “Let me tell you what I think happened...” sort of lazy writing that I’m not used to in the other books. So, not terrible but not great either. I’ll check out the next one and see if it improves.

The Housekeeper and the Professor   book icon  
by Yoko Ogawa (2009)

read: 6 April 2017
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Really enjoyed this short poignant story about a lower class woman who takes care of an older man with a serious memory problem--he can only remember the last 80 minutes of his life, and things that happened before 1975. The older man is also, was also, a mathematics professor and his mind still engages with math problems even as he has to keep slips of paper attached to himself to remember who his housekeeper is. Lots of levels to this book including baseball and, of course, math.

Thank you and OK   book icon  
by David Chadwick (1994)

read: 3 April 2017
rating: [0]
categories: non-fiction, unfinished

Could not finish this book. Tried for a long time. Its a story about a guy who basically is having a hard time sorting out his life and winds up, through a series of sort of vague non-intention, in Japan at a monastery. Which ... ok. I guess I couldn’t really identify with him and identified a lot more with all the people around him who were put out by his vaguing around. Maybe a good book for someone else, not so much for me,

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley   book icon  
by Hannah Tinti (2017)

read: 3 April 2017
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I got this book as an ARC from a library when I was desperate for something to read on the way home from a trip. I read it quickly, enjoyed it a lot and didn’t learn that it was loosely based on the story of Hercules until reading reviews after the fact. This is one of those “weird girl” stories which I usually like unless they are super scary or sketchy and this is not one of those. A weird dad with few choices (or so he feels) winds up raising a daughter with his limited toolkit. They live in coastal Massachusetts. Good read, more of that “quirky seashore” set of books I was reading earlier.

The Book of Vice: Very Naughty Things (and How to Do Them)   book icon  
by Peter Sagal (2007)

read: 1 April 2017
rating: [0]
categories: non-fiction, unfinished

Gave up on this. Listening to a slightly jokey-joke NPR commentator talk about things like swinger’s parties and gigantic feasts was really not for me If you align yourself more with Sagal’s way of looking at the world, you might really enjoy this. I did not.

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