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« August, 2021 »
The Art Thief

One of those books I grabbed right off the shelf at the library because it looked like it would be interesting. A super-quirky interestingly complex tale of interwoven art crimes and the ten or so people involved in perpetrating and solving them. Odd writing style (a lot of one-sided expository convos which felt super weird) but easy to not mind. The author is a noted expert in this topic and kind of a polymath so a lot of that seemed to come out in the writing of this novel.

The Coldest Case

One of the better Bruno books of the recent ones. This one was about solving a case of a mystery skull found the woods 30 years ago using fancy facial reconstruction techniques. That intersected with obvious excuses for Bruno to cook fancy dinners and some international geopolitics & a forest fire. No huge tactical shootouts for the most part and there was a lot more of the town involved in this particular book.

The Unlikely Thru-Hiker

An excellent first book by Lugo, a Black man from NYC, who has never really been hiking or camping before but decides to hike the AT from Georgia to Maine. Learns stuff, meets people, has adventures, relates it all with a sense of humor & warmth. I really enjoyed learning things along with him and appreciated his good attitude especially when facing challenges that were particularly difficult for him.

The Outside

A really good spooky “AI drawn to its logical conclusion” story with a queer female autistic protagonist and a robust story line. Stands alone as a great scifi novel but also has a sequel which I’m excited to read. There’s a lot going on here between AI that has evolved to be indistinguishable from gods and the “religion” that comes as a result of that. A few people manage to find/create some chinks in that armor. Complex and nuanced and a really good read.

Imagine Wanting Only This

My initial review of this was “A melancholy reflection about falling down buildings, health and family issues, and thinking a lot about what it would take to feel "at home.” Gorgeously drawn, doesn’t really go anywhere, even though geographically you’re in a lot of places." The graphic novel rubbed me kind of the wrong way but I couldn’t really put a finger on why. Just mopey white girl ennui I felt like. Then I read this review on Goodreads.

In short, that review is by the mother of the young man whose photos Radtke basically appropriated for a lot of the content in her book. And I think I got a bit clearer of an idea of why I hadn’t liked it. The story seemed to use the emotional content of a lot of people--her boyfriend, this young man, a lot of the people in her life--without being clear that’s what she was doing. And those people were treated badly by her. She starts out kind of obsessed with the pictures of this young man, carries them with her everywhere but then just... loses them somewhere on a trip to Europe. Ick.

Strange Beasts of China

I’ve been trying to find more Chinese scifi that I liked (after reading a few that weren’t my thing) and this book is great. Part cryptozoology exploration, part meta-story of loss and belonging. Spooky and masterful. Each essay starts by giving you some facts about the various odd beasts that live in this one weird town and by the end of each essay it’s revealed that there is much more to each beast’s story. There’s a meta-narrative that ties it all together.

Class Act

A look at one of the other kids from New Kid, this is another Jerry Craft high school story looking at issues of race, class and self-identity by watching a group of friends struggle with (new) feelings and their old lives. It’s really well done and it’s nice to see the kid from the last book doing okay, while a lot of the other kids grapple with issues and the ups and downs of their relative social strata which are somewhat transparent but becoming visible to them.

How To Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America.

Picked this off the new shelf at my library because it looked interesting. Have already told three people to read it. Serious essays with a throughline of humor that talk about being Black in Mississippi, in academia, in the world. Reverent and irreverent, this is a book of essays that was initially published when Laymon was newer in his career. He’s added to it since and it’s just a very evocative and well-crafted bunch of essays.

Satchel Paige, Striking Out Jim Crow

Big fan of Sturm and this is a good graphic novel, but it’s mostly NOT about Paige but rather racism in the Jim Crow South. Worthwhile topic! But not what I was expecting. I was really looking for more of a baseball book and this was definitely not it. I had questions about the appropriateness of the AAVE dialog that were not really answered by me reading more about the book.

The Paris Library

I usually have a No Nazis rule but made an exception because this was a book about libraries and I figured how bad could the Nazis be? Well turns out there were a LOT of them in this book and some of it got pretty brutal. This was a historical fiction story of the American Library in Paris during WWII as seen through the eyes of a young librarian & also about her life later when she lives in the US. A lot of questions about how she got from Point A to Point B. A book about forgiveness. Good but very uneven.


A fairly chilling graphic novel about the Canadian graphic novelist’s trip to North Korea to briefly help out in an animation studio there. While he has a relatively straightforward role there, he notices that the people around him are all kind of bending over backwards to pretend that what is going on there maybe isn’t really going on. Delisle is always watched, always followed, frequently lied to while believing that many people there are also lying to themselves.

Apocalypse Seven

This was an interesting take on various “surviving the apocalypse” scenarios. A “something happened, now there are only seven people alive in the world... maybe” story. I enjoyed this more than I might have otherwise because it takes place in Boston/Cambridge. Well-written characters, somewhat unsatisfying when you learn what the something is that happened. I liked the problem-solving nature of the early parts of this book a lot and have now gone on to read a few more of his books.