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« November, 2018 »
Firefly - Big Damn Hero

I missed these characters. It’s funny reading a book about characfers you only know about from TV/Movies. I enjoyed the Firefly series quite a lot and was happy to learn there was a book out. The book is mostly good. Interesting story, some neat character backstory but also a little bit of dumb fight sequencing (like overly blabity bla) and some boring parts in case you didn’t know who the people were. I will read some more of these (presuming there are any) and I hope they improve a little.

Home After Dark

I should have thought more closely about whether I wanted to read a “haunting coming of age story” right before bed (answer: no) but this book is both amazing and evocative but also tough to read for anyone who had their own difficult childhood and maybe has a hard time with images and stories of child neglect. So good but also so difficult.

The Calculating Stars

I had this suggested by an online simlar-reader and it took me a while to track it down since there was one (1!) hard copy of it in Vermont and the ebook was going to take a while (thanks TOR). Anyhow, I loved it, Having a lead character who is not just female but also Jewish felt like it had been a long time coming in any book not about the Holocaust or Nazis. And this book is about another sort of terrible mess. I love post-apocalyptic fiction but this book has more of the slow burn of climate change (thanks to a meteorite) and less of a sudden “Half of everyone dies” situation. I was hoping for a bit more “this is how we cope” but as it was I mostly enjoyed this look at Dr. York’s attempt to become to first woman in space in a slightly alternate future where Dewey really does defeat Truman.

Herding Cats

Every time i find one of these I haven’t read yet I find myself wishing there were a lot more of them. Sarah Andersen does a great job talking about the work she does, the pets she loves and the anxieties she lives with, in ways that are funny and very very relateable.

Gods of Howl Mountain

Such a poignant look at post war Appalachia and the people who live there and have to make do the best way they can. Some have jobs in the mills. Some run moonshine. Some make moonshine, some are cops. Some are robbers. It’s a great look at one family and the way they deal with what the future has to bear as well as some demons from the past. I loved this book and am going to go read all of Brown’s other ones.

The Pharoah Key

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.