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« December, 2015 »

It’s really hard to follow Ready Player One and I’m happy Cline finally did that. This book has a lot of the things that made RP1 terrific but a few downsides that made it not quite so much of a romp. It may be a character flaw with me, but I find endless battle scenes in text really difficult to follow. There were a few of these, one notable one early on and I was concerned for a big chunk of the book that the book was going to end in some epic fifty page battle. It doesn’t. The characters in this book are neat, the plot moves along and I mostly liked it but it took a while to get going and didn’t have quite the “Wheeee!” feeling of the first book.

Hark A Vagrant

This was fun! I enjoy her online comic and looked forward to this book. Mostly enjoyable, a little bit of repetitive stuff like “Imagine this story from the book cover” which may have gone on for too many book covers but all in all a delightful read.

A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting

Sort of funny? I feel like this might be more amusing to people who didn’t have neglectful parents. I’m sure a lot of it will “ring true” to people in any case and I enjoyed the illustrations and the setup but some of the punch lines just seemed cruel and unfun to me.

The City & The City

Felt similarly about this book as I did about Mieville’s other book. I enjoyed it, it was clearly well thought out, but it didn’t have as much forward momentum as I was hoping for (and I finished it despite that). The premise of this book is fascinating and meted out over time. There are two cities, they occupy nearly similar geographic spaces and yet for “reasons” which we don’t totally know, they are different and people in each city assiduously stick to their own city going so far as to “unsee” things in their own cities. This has, as you can imagine, some interesting consequences for how to deal with crime, new faces and other issues.

The copy of this book that I had also had some Q & A with Mieville at the end of the whole thing which I found really useful because I was curious to know why he made some of the choices he made and it was great to get some extra information about this slightly cryptic title.

SuperMutant Magic Academy

Liked it. A book by the same author as This One Summer. I was the first person to check it out of my library. It’s a collection of small comics that, combined, tell the story of a school full of mutants who are also teenagers. You learn some things, you wonder about some things, you never figure some things out. Really interesting and well put together.

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship

This is a story about the second pirate ship ever definitively found in the world. Kurson takes us along with the search by two well known divers and wreck surveyors outlining how they (spoilers!) found the wreck of the Golden Fleece. This book is sometimes too long with extraneous detail like pages of “How fire a cannon” and sometimes too short with throwaway lines like “After this there was a business dispute and two of the men sued each other...” but the bulk of it is solidly interesting discussion of how you find a ship on the bottom of the ocean and the changing face of treasure hunting in today’s world.

El Deafo

Heard great things about this for a while. Happy I finally got to read it. This is a graphic novel about the slightly fictionalized childhood of Cece Bell who has an auditory disability. It talks about her going to school and being self conscious about her hearing aids and interacting with some of the other kids. Really well done with a sensitive afterword by Bell who discusses how her choices and decisions are just one of many in the Deaf community. Very enjoyable.

Whatever Happened to the Metric System?

It’s rare that a book makes me want to go look up and read so many other books (not by the same author) but htis is that book. Marciano knows so many neat things about not just the US conversion (or lack) into metric measures but also historical measurement standardizers that may or may not have worked. He looks at the people, he looks at the policy and he looks at the geniuses as well as the kooks. Took me a long time to get through because it doesn’t always move forward speedily but mostly because I keep writing down other things I want to learn about: Metric Martyrs, Standard (and Detroit) time, a lot of other random things. Very good and very worth reading.

Book of Speculation

I really may need to reconsider whether I hate ALL books with multiple storylines in alternate chapters or just most of them because I loved this book and it does that thing. I think part of it is that usually I find one of the stories so much more compelling than the other one (looking at you Diamond Age) that it’s like reading one bad story and one good one. Not for this book. It’s a great tale with a librarian at the center and the two stories involve past and current generations of circus performers--a traveling circus in the late 1700s and the descendants of a circus mermaid in the current day. Enter a falling down house left to the kids by their weird dad and I was hooked. So good.