[I've been 
reading]

« January, 2021 »

The Year Without Summer: 1918   book icon  
by William Klingaman (2013)

read: 29 January 2021
rating: [0]
category: non-fiction

I probably should have read the reviews before I picked up this book. I love weird weather and knock-on effects of meteorological happenings. Unfortunately, this book was not that. It was a somewhat interesting but tediously-told story about all the effects of one volcanic eruption that ruined harvests and affected weather worldwide. Drawn to a large degree from primary source material, the book focuses on a few major historical event and then quotes liberally from primary source documents. There’s very little about the actual explosion or the effects of it on the local region. Instead, in true “News is where the reporters are” fashion, we hear a lot about Lord Byron, what’s going on in France, why so many people from Maine moved to the Midwest, and the death of Jane Austen! So many weather and crop reports! Really hard to keep reading it and while there is a bit of a decent epilogue, this is one of those books that could have been a New Yorker article.

Fatal Pursuit   book icon  
by Martin Walker (2016)

read: 26 January 2021
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I was really worried after the last book that I would no longer enjoy this series, that maybe it was ramping up to just be more and more gruesome for whatever reason. This book was significantly less gory. The story was about trying to figure out what happened to a super rare Bugatti that went missing sometime after WWII, maybe in the general area that Bruno is in. There were some other side mysteries, some local policing done well. Lots of good food descriptions, and while there are two corpses, there’s no gore.

The Causal Angel   book icon  
by Hannu Rajaniemi (2014)

read: 21 January 2021
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I read this book as the culmination of a trilogy and did not like it as much as the others. A series of big all-vs-all wars in a mostly-virtual space meaning anything goes and there are shifting rules/constraints. So there would be a few really large battles without obvious constraints like the rules of physics or what-have-you. While some plot holes from the earlier books do get filled in, ultimately, this series ended on a sour note for me. I missed the storytelling of the earlier books.

The Salvage Crew   book icon  
by Yudhanjaya Wijeratne (2020)

read: 15 January 2021
rating: [+]
category: fiction

With AI-written poetry, and dice roll-determined plot points (and weather?) this book had its formulaic aspects. I mean that stuff was all outlined in the preface so it’s not like I somehow deduced it. I liked the idea of this book but part way through it turned a little more into “How much suffering can these people take?” which is a less-favorite trope of mine. I liked the basic arc of this “gig-workers run into trouble on routine op” tale, but there’s some “pink mist” style hyperviolence that wasn’t my thing

Sourdough   book icon  
by Robin Sloan (2017)

read: 10 January 2021
rating: [+]
category: fiction

This was a fun romp through tech and bread making in places you’ll be familiar with if you’ve ever been to the Bay Area. So much of it rang so true from hipster food “makers” to tech gargoyle vampires. Female protagonist and a lot of funny Loises. Plus, there’s always a librarian in a Robin Sloan book.

Frozen in Time   book icon  
by Owen Beattie (2004)

read: 8 January 2021
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

The quest to figure out what happened to the doomed Franklin Expedition to find the Northwest Passage where they were never heard from again (spoiler: lead poisoning! cannibalism!). Written by scientists and not professional writers and it shows, but still a pretty interesting look at what can go wrong when you’re far from home in an inhospitable place.

Shaman   book icon  
by Kim Stanley Robinson (2013)

read: 7 January 2021
rating: [+]
category: fiction

A very slow-motion prehistoric story, not his usual thing. You follow a few years in the life of an early homo sapiens clan, at a time and place where they were co-existing with Neanderthals (who they called "the slow ones"). It’s a lot more survival focused than narrative in some ways, but you get little parts of learning more about these people. Felt a lot like someone who had seen some cave paintings and wanted to create a backstory for all of them. Enjoyed it in these chilly dark nights.

« top »