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« January, 2015 »

Really enjoyed this sort of meta look at the disposable ensigns and the like who always seem to eat it in sci fi shows (most notably Star Trek where they are often wearing a red shirt). Scalzi takes this idea and really explores it. What’s it like to be one of these people? How could you fix this situation if you found that you were inside of it? Why are some of these shows so poorly written? Serious fans of Star Trek will enjoy this even more than the casual reader, but I enjoyed both the story and the little chunk of “codas” at the end of it which gave a few more little vignette’s that fleshed out the overall theme.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory

Got this book from the library. In the back there is a little review form that other people can leave mini-reviews on. This one rated the book 2 out of 5 (for “limited audience") and then added "But interesting” I am this book’s limited audience. Doughty is a woman who grew up in Hawai’i and always had a fascination with death. Not just death itself but the way society deals with it. She decided when she got older that she would try to get a job in the “death industry” and starts working for a creamtory in Oakland and then eventually towards the end of the book goes to mortuary school. This book talks about all of that and does not pull any punches. However at the same time, she doesn’t make light of everything and it doesn’t have the jokey-jokey feel of Mary Roach’s Stiff which I really disliked. Caitlin is thoughtful and reflective about her choices and the choices of others even when she’s dealing with people who are difficult or who she disagrees with. I was very happy to get to read along with her journey here and it’s well stated.

Birds in Fall

Part book about birds, part book about plane crashes (and grief and loss and moving on) this book was a little tough for the first few chapters (Spoiler: everyone dies in the first chapter) but improved after that. Great Canadian setting, great bird stories, real feeling interplay between characters. I liked it. It was long enough. It was not too long.

Refresh Refresh

Depressing but poignant story about a bunch of kids in rural Oregon growing into their teenage years without their dads who are off fighting the war in Iraq. Hard to read but very worthwhile.

This One Summer

A coming of age type of graphic novel where the main character goes to the summer place she’s always gone to and does the same things, sort of. Lots of depth and nuance in this vacationers vs townies, kids vs. teenagers vs. adults. I felt a lot of the emotional atmosphere of this story rang very true.

Broken Window

I don’t know when I got off the Jeffrey Deaver train but I just decided I didn’t trust him to not have super creepy stories where the principals were tortured. But I do like Lincoln Rhyme, the disabled brilliant forensic scientist so I tried this one out when I saw it on the free shelf of the laundromat. It was worth it. Interesting and not too creepy. Talked about the world of data/information brokers and all the potential ways they could destroy someone’s life. I don’t think I’ll start up again with these books but glad I gave them another go.

Contemporary Vermont Fiction: An Anthology

An amazing arrangement of stories from people who you’ve heard of that all have Vermont as one of the extra characters. So great. Perfect for underblanket winter reading.

Girl Walks into a Bar . . .: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle

I finished my last book of 2014 right after midnight and this is what was on my Kindle. It was okay. I like Rachel Dratch and her brand of humor. She’s also about my age and grew up right up the road from me in Lexington MA and also went to school in New England. However I think I was hoping this book would be ... funnier or otherwise a bit more enlightening? Dratch talks about her life and especially what’s been happening post-SNL where she’s offered a bunch of lousy roles that are all some variant on obese lesbians. She’s at her funniest when talking about this. However it seems like the sort of story that’s going to go somewhere and instead Dratch gets accidentally pregnant and now I guess she is a mom? She’s super thoughtful about her own situation and I like reading about people’s non-traditional parenting choices. At the same time, this particular story grabbed me in some places and didn’t really pique my interest in others. A middling start to 2014 reading.

The Wheelman

Read this book a while back and forgot totally about it. It was a great thriller, one of those ones that sticks with you even after you’ve put it down (as opposed to all those others where you can’t really remember the name of it anymore). A lead character who you like despite him being sort of an asshole and a lot of weird “you think the guy is dead and he turns out not to be” stuff going on. Engaging.