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« November, 2018 »

The Pharoah Key   book icon  
by Douglas Preston (2018)

read: 13 November 2018
rating: [0]
category: fiction

Normally I don’t mind these slightly formulaic thriller type books and I sort of enjoyed the Relic series from Preston and Childs but this one was just... trite. Too much weird drama, not enough weird artifacts, a LOT of implausibility and at the end of it I didn’t feel like I’d learned anything. Not horrible and not nightmare inducing but just... eh.

A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea   book icon  
by Masaji Ishikawa (2018)

read: 13 November 2018
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

This was a super harrowing book about just how lousy it is to live in North Korea, by one man who finally escaped, but was not able to get his family out. It is grim, grim, grim, but told in a narrative fashion so you get a real idea of what the day to day life is like for both urban and rural North Koreans.

Side Life   book icon  
by Steve Toutonghi (2018)

read: 9 November 2018
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Really enjoyed this weird look at a tech guy who finds a way to interact with multiple simultaneous realities. For a while I was worried it would be one of those “Hey you started out in the present time but now you’re back in history experiencing WWII” but it was not that. At the center of this book is a vaguely likeable character who has a lot of weird things happen to him, His life veers from satisfactory to really bad and it’s hard to tell how much agency he has in the whole thing. There’s a lot of “What is really real” conversations that are not terrible. There’s a little bit of “Woo multiverse” conversations that are a little more difficult. I am not a person who really enjoys books with multiple timelines and, that said, this would usually not be a book I’d pick up, but there was enough interesting stuff going on in it that I am glad that I did.

Mark Twain’s Autobiography, 1910-2010   book icon  
by Michael Kupperman (2011)

read: 8 November 2018
rating: [-]
categories: graphic novel, unfinished

Far too clever for its own good this book just did not resonate with me, Was hoping for a graphic novel. What I got was a bunch of “What if Mark Twain were alive and had a totally different sense of humor than he actually has” Not good.

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters Vol. 1   book icon  
by Emil Ferris (2017)

read: 6 November 2018
rating: [+]
category: graphic novel

I started out with this as a morning book and then switched it to being an evening book which was a terrible idea! This book is terrifically dark and includes a lot of difficult topics--Nazis, child prostitution, poverty, gay bashing, mom-with-cancer--and it pulls no punches. I wish I had known when I started it that it was Volume one because there are a lot of questions I still have and I have to wait for the next volume. But this is SO GOOD. The illustrations are a fascinating mix of various types of drawing all on lined notebook paper. Captivating storytelling and a main character (who looks like a cute little monster which makes you think early on this won’t be quite as creepo as it turns out to be) you can totally relate to.

The Freeze-Frame Revolution   book icon  
by Peter Watts (2018)

read: 6 November 2018
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Watts swears this is a novella but it’s got enough going on in it to really seem like a full on book. In fact I sort of wanted more of this weird story about a long term (think millennia) space voyage to install wormholes where the human crew is regularly put into and out of suspended animation by the not-that-bright AI. And maybe something is wrong? And given that, how do you plan to shake things up? I liked Watts' attention to this especially because a lot of the time I find his stories a little on the dark side for me but I love his plots and so I pick up his books hoping I’ll find a thing that I can dig into. This was that thing.

History of Wolves   book icon  
by Emily Fridlund (2017)

read: 5 November 2018
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I am a sucker for these kid weirdo books. This one is much more than that, but that is the underpinning of this rural story about a girl who is fascinated by wolves but also, sort of, raised by them in a small cabin on a lake. At some point a family moves in across the lake and... long story short there is a child who dies and a lot of explanation about what happened next. Oh and a teacher who may have been a predator, or may not have. The whole story is through the eyes of the young adult girl and sometimes it’s tough to tell if she’s intended to be an unreliable narrator or not. I was really sucked into this story, every character seemed real and I could remember being that kid weirdo and my own stories that were not unlike this one.

A Curious Beginning   book icon  
by Deanna Raybourn (2015)

read: 3 November 2018
rating: [+]
category: uncategorized

I was a big fan of Raybourn’s other mystery series and thought I’d like this one as well. I enjoyed the first book just fine but don’t think I’ll be picking up the second one (though I’d probably like it just fine if I read it). This book has a plucky heroine who is raised and orphan by her two aunts and turns out to have a very interesting backstory. Along the way she befriends the dark swarthy mystery man and... I just felt it was a bit too much like the Lady Jane Grey series. Which, again, I liked, but I felt the forumla sort of heavy in this and I think I’m back to sci fi for a bit.

Corvus: A Life with Birds   book icon  
by Esther Woolfson (2010)

read: 1 November 2018
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

This was a great morning book which I would read while watching my own outside birds on the feeders. Woolfson lives in Scotland and not only keeps doves but also has a few inside birds which are not birds you would consider inside birds. Notably she has kept a magpie she calls Spike and a rook she calls Chicken. This book is about how it is to live with birds with some side derails into things like feathers and nesting and all the things that birds do. Woolfson is a charming writer without being overly sentimental and I found that her writing just clicked with me and I enjoyed getting to read along as she learned things about her avian companions.

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