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« September, 2020 »
The Languid Belly of the Beast

When your biggest complaint about a new sci-fi series is that the books in it are too short, you know you’ve found something special. Second installment of this female cargo pilot spacer. More backstory and a little bit more of soft-Inez at the same time as it’s still an action-packed adventure. A little more procedural and scheming, a little less wandering-around-injured. Fun and enjoyable. And too short!

Love Poems from Vermont

I got this book because I was a reviewer. A really nice idea, and a beautiful cover, but the poetry wasn’t particularly my taste and I would’ve enjoyed if the photography was more specific. Some pictures just say “Central Vermont” and I felt that could’ve been a little more specific. I appreciate that this was a work of the heart, so I don’t want to put it down too much, but as a work that was mixing poetry with photography, I found I wasn’t into either in this case.

The Crowded Grave

I am inherently suspicious of an author who kills the protagonist’s dog. Sorry for the spoiler, but it’s something you should know about this installment of the Bruno books. In this case, there’s a lot more diplomacy than food talk, and you learn a little (not much) about the ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna), or Basque separatist group which started out as an armed militia and wound up being disbanded some time after this book was written. Had a bit of a “ripped from headlines” feel. Still good but, man, killing the dog is not cool.

Life List, Field Notes of a Maine Birdwatcher

I got this book as a freebie because I was reviewing it for IPNE. I am so happy I did! This was an absolutely gorgeous book of bird photography from the Maine coastline. Just enough written details, lots of great well-taken photographs. It’s split into seasonal sections with small date and weather notes for each of the sightings.

American Eden

A long history about a botanist, naturalist and doctor in early New York. The guy himself was kind of interesting, had many famous friends (eventually married rich!), but this book had an excessive attention to detail that made it overlong and dry reading. It’s one of those painstakingly researched stories where even though you might have a historical record that the guy bought this and that plant at this or that plant sale, it doesn’t ALL have to be in there. Ultimately, this guy had a failed garden, did change the face of medicine and botanical medicinals somewhat, and married rich so now people have heard of him. Book was too long but glad I learned about him.

Black Diamond

I am always suspicious when a White author decides to summon the spectre of “Asian gangs” as part of their crime/mystery books. I think Archer Mayor did it badly and this one is somewhat better but still gave me the raised eyebrow. The food you learn about is truffles (appreciated it) and the drama in the background is Chinese gangs and their bullying of Vietnamese merchants in smalltown France.

The Loneliness of the Deep Space Cargoist

My only complaint is that this was too short! I’ve really developed a niche for cranky spacer in creaky ship narratives, particularly the “dragged back in for one last job” type. This is a fun and funny novella about Inez who has been through some STUFF, stuff which you gradually learn about. Now she’s on her own dealing with a bunch of dicey scenarios and dicier gigs. Would have liked it less if I didn’t know there was a sequel, because some stuff resolves and some stuff definitely does not. Inez is oddly likable and relatable despite her crotchetiness and her backstory that is jaw-dropping in its awfulness.

I appreciated how Gilson gave us a sense of Inez’s story without dragging us through a whole bunch of awful flashbacks (and even then, I could have used maybe a few sentences less of them). I liked the motley assortment of different kinds of people. I liked how Inez is kind of down on herself but also really eerily competent, more competent than she thinks she is. If you enjoy Becky Chambers, Valerie Valdes, or R. E. Stearns, you will like this.

The Dark Vineyard

The second installment of this series, a bit more lively than the last one. Good food, good wine, a vexing mystery on top of a mystery and a quaint old-fashionedness to the storytelling even though the setting is more or less modern times.

Atlas Alone

This one was a little over the line for me in a few ways. Great story line, some characters you know, but a lot of consent violation and too much time spent in in-game “mersives” for my tastes. The character, like many of Newman’s other characters, has some mental health challenges, but unlike the other ones, it doesn’t work out for her. So given the things she has to endure all through this story, it’s a tough and kind of brutal ending. A great book, clearly, but to my read a very unhappy ending. Given that this may be the end of the series, it kind of gives a bad taste to the whole overall arc.


A sweet summer romance book with a kid who isn’t sure what he wants and a handsome guy in town for the summer with his own backstory. Lots of friend dynamics stuff and some family issues slowly working their way out. Plus lots of baked goods.

Dragon Hoops

Gene Yang at a pivotal point in his life/career decides to write a book about a basketball story, despite not ever liking sports very much. He works as a math teacher and is looking for a story. And he finds one, and also kind of makes one. As a fellow non-basketball-enthusiast, I really enjoyed getting the story told to me in this way. A masterful book.

Before Mars

This series is intense & keeps improving. It’s about a small Mars colony & a woman geologist/artist who’s maybe psychotic, maybe being gaslit about what she experiences? And you’re wondering for a while there while the story unfolds wondering what is real. It has a real Reach Trilogy feel to it, with a kind of background strangeness to it. Ties together nicely w/ the other two books. Very thriller-y. Interesting family stuff.

They Called Us Enemy

George Takei (rhymes with OK) tells the story of the years he spent in an internment camp as a child. Well told, beautifully illustrated, tied in nicely with current govt. malfeasance. Tough read, good read. It doesn’t have so much graphic detail that it’s not appropriate for kids, but at the same time it’s interesting how it totally elides over Takei’s gay advocacy work even as it does casually mention his husband. A curious book, a story well told.

Bruno, Chief of Police

Kind of a small-town cozy mystery in a small village in France. Lots of eating and drinking and trying to work things out in small-town ways. Enjoyed it enough to try the second one but not so into it I’m going to get all 18 As far as cozies go, it’s really nice to read something that isn’t US or UK and Bruno’s an interesting guy with a good backstory..


My software doesn’t let me credit the illustrator and the writer of books so I’ll mention here this was written by Rainbow Rowell. It was a delight from start to finish. Could totally relate to autumn themed nonsense being about to head into it in Vermont, and also enjoyed all the snacking. A lot of fun stuff going on in the background of this one and each page is worth a longer look.