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« April, 2022 »
Braking Day

A great story of a generation ship approaching a new planet (after over 5 generations) and all the last minute stuff that occurs. Our plucky hero is in officer school (despite being from a family where that’s not the norm) has to work some shit out to both keep himself and his family from getting in trouble, but also to solve a weird mystery about why the ship isn’t behaving the way it’s supposed to. A lot of deconstruction of the various kinds of class/caste privilege and how they might shake out over a multigenerational voyage.

On Juneteenth

I knew the bare facts about this holiday but it was an entirely other thing to hear about Gordon-Reed’s experiences growing up as a black girl in Texas in a family that had been there for generations. She talks about wanting to know more about her family’s experience during the time when Texas was a weird world unto itself. Great essays about her life as a child but also where she is now as an adult.

The Wartime Sisters

This novel was outside of my usual reading, a suggestion from a friend. It’s a straightforward story of a family with some mysteries, takes place in and around the Springfield Armory during a wartime production period. Lots of bad parents, and people trying to do better. The two sisters have an almost Frozen-like split up and eventual reuniting. The mysteries get meted out slowly. I liked learning about Springfield, I found the rest of it a little higher drama than I’d prefer.

The Rabbi Who Prayed with Fire

I had heard about this book but it turned out to be somewhat hard to find. It’s kind of an intellectual successor to the Rabbi Small books, this one features Rabbi Vivian, a lesbian assistant rabbi in Providence RI. The story is engaging and entertaining with a more social justice oriented approach to the tenets of modern Judaism. The basic issue is “Hey maybe as a community we need to not just continue to focus on our own oppression but look outward and see who else could be helped by some of the power we’ve accumulated” I really appreciated that view and the author does a good job outlining a story.

No Gods, NoMonsters

Picked this up because of the title and it being on the new shelf at the library. Liked it a lot for about the first three-quarters of it. It’s a multiverse book and a monster book and I was confused how those two connected, like I felt there was something I was possibly missing. The characters are great, a wide range of types of people and the ways they interact. The discussions from within the co-op meetings felt super real. But, there was some realistic active-shooter stuff, in a long-feeling chapter, at the 3/4 mark which was too scary and too real-life horror for me to really stick with the rest of the book. I finished it but only just.

Sea of Tranquility

Usually I don’t enjoy books that jump around in time and have a many-narrative perspectives in them, but this book somehow made it work. It makes it clear where you are in time and who is doing the talking which is really all I want. This is the second book I’ve read this year about simulation theory, and another book that has a pandemic as a plot point, so if you liked this one you might enjoy The Anomaly or How High We Go In The Dark. This book covers a range from “old timey” to “distant future” and does it incredibly well. I was sad when it was over.

The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All

It’s nice to be back in the library reading print books! I plucked this one right off of the “newish” shelf. This is a great tale about the end of the lumberjack era as told through the eyes of a 99 year old man after what may be his last fight. So it’s mostly told in flashbacks but you get little snippets of what happened later. A just-barely-magical tale, maybe not even. Made me miss the PacNW something fierce. A better lumberjack story than most of the rest of them I’ve read.


This book was on my dad’s nightstand during my childhood seemingly forever. I picked it up when I was too young to get it and hated it: confusing names, nothing happens in the first 1/5, snoresville. Finally picked it up again at the suggestion of a friend of mine and didn’t hate it, even liked parts of it. It was a little long and dragged in parts but I appreciated the “palace intrigue” quality of it and a lot of the worldbuilding. Wished for more female characters because even though there was a lot of gender diversity, it felt like a very masculine book. Not going to read the other seventeen books (possibly a few, certainly not all), but might now go watch the movie.

Little Heathens

A straightforward, well-told recounting of growing up in rural Iowa in the 1930s in a big family during the depression. Kalish’s family was almost entirely self-sufficient, making their own clothes and all their own food and she recounts what a huge amount of time it was every day to feed and clothe a family of this size. The bulk of the book is about being one of the Little Kids and chores and school and whatnot, but the epilogue about what she did next fills it all out.

That Day the Rabbi Left Town

This is the last book in the series, and there’s no satisfying wrap-up since it’s the last book only because Kemelman died. A lively mystery with a snow storm at its center, and a new rabbi at the temple and this one goes jogging! There’s a lot of drama and a somewhat confusing setup with a lot of lawyer and the rabbi and his wife splitting their time between Boston and Barnard’s Crossing but this story wraps up well even if the overarching tale is left somewhat unfinished.

The Day the Rabbi Resigned

It’s a joke that the rabbi almost-resigns in each book. But now he finally does, seemingly in a good way. As this series progresses the plots get kind of complex with what can feel like too many characters and this one is definitely like that, but I enjoyed this penultimate one.

The Gift of Stones

A story told in oral storytelling fashion about a Stone Age culture right on the cusp of the Bronze Age and the day to day things they do to trade and survive. This was suggested to me from someone who saw that I liked teh KSR novel Shaman. I also enjoyed this one. Many branching tales with (perhaps) one central true thru line. Well-told.

A Sunlit Weapon

Another Maisie Dobbs novel, still in WWII. No Nazis in this one though there are some good old fashioned US white supremacists... and Eleanor Roosevelt! Maisie is in a stable domestic situation though there’s some weirdness at her adopted daughter’s school. Everyone lives through this one I believe and there are some other romances afoot. A lively novel and mystery; if you liked the other ones, you’ll like this one.

Murder on Fifth Avenue

I was away from home, misjudged books to bring on my Kindle, and had to find a book in my dad’s house that would be OK nighttime reading. I’ve read other books by this author and they are just fine: period mysteries, not too complicated, delve into a lot of “the status of women in the gaslight era of NYC.” This is a mystery where a terrible man is killed and nearly everyone has a motive. The two main characters (the actual cop at a time when cops have pretty low status, and a midwife who is unusual for being a well-to-do woman with a profession) get along in a way that is pleasant and not the kind of smoldering intrigue that the last book I read in this series seemed to have.

One Fine Day the Rabbi Bought a Cross

The rabbi goes to Israel again, gets mixed up in some nonsense, helps keep an innocent (but annoying) kid out of Israeli jail. A lot more scene-setting than actual mystery time, but it’s got a fair amount of the folks you like in it and you learn a little more about the more Orthodox style of Judaism. There’s definitely an aspect of pinning the bad stuff on the Arabs so it may be worth avoiding if that’s not the kind of thing you’d want to read.