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« July, 2022 »
Tundra Kill

I have just been plowing through these Alaskan cop procedurals. This one also includes a dippy female Alaska governor who seems vaguely recognizable from former news cycles. There’s less bush piloting, more snowmobiling, and a lot more crossing and double-crossing. I liked how it wove this particular story with all of its complex parts.

How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler

A super fun book about what you would need to know if your time machine crashed in the distant past before most stuff was invented. It’s flow-chartish covering topics like metallurgy and agriculture with a bunch of fun appendices about how to do specific things. The whole tone is a very wry “Whoops, sorry you got stranded. Well here’s what you’ll need to do to stay alive and.or make inventions from scratch” and is delightful to read.

Village of the Ghost Bears

If you like stories of bush piloting, this Alaskan mystery is for you. A lot of remote village travel and nitpicky details about what it takes to make a successful (or not successful) flight. This one is messy with a high body count. The mystery in this story is almost secondary to the vivid descriptions of Alaskan life and travel.

Frozen Sun

Another Alaskan mystery, this one was maybe a bit harder to take. It was less good to read, because it deals with possible sex work, mental illness and complicated and failing relationships. It sets the groundwork for a few of the later books, but that’s very unclear at the time. It was still a good read, but not as coherent as the other ones.

You Know, Sex

My library has this book & it’s just so good. It’s very inclusive of all genders (never uses the words male/female except when it’s specifically discussing gender identity) and choices about body autonomy and sexual preferences. There are large sections on safety, consent, porn, pregnancy and peer pressure. The book comes with great illustrations by Fiona Smyth in a variety of colors (none of which seem like what we’re used to as “skin tones” which is a smart choice for this book). The slogan is “There is no right or wrong way to have a body” and it’s a great healthy message.

Shaman Pass

Another pretty interesting multilayered Alaskan mystery story, this one having to do with based-on-true-characters early Alaskan contact with white Christian colonizers, centering Native experiences. It went a lot of interesting places and I felt like I learned some things. Happy that there’s a whole bunch more of these.

White Sky, Black Ice

Another little free bookshelf book about a Native (raised by White people, so they call him nalauqmiiyaaq for "half white") Alaskan State Trooper trying to make sense of what seem to be unrelated suicides that may involve the big multinational mining concern in the small town. Lots of good Alaska atmosphere and great to read during a Vermont heat wave. The author is not Native but does go out of his way to explain the terminology he uses and I’d be very interested to learn what the taks on this series are from Native readers.

The Lost Glass Plates of Wilfred Eng

A random find in a little free bookshelf, this was a surprisingly interesting novel about the discovery of some old negatives and a bunch of lessons about how things aren’t exactly what they seem, set in 1990s Seattle which was a place I used to live so I liked it more than I might have otherwise. Some extraneous bits but ultimately a story of trying to figure something out. Not quite a mystery, not quite not.

We Had To Remove This Post

A fantastically strange novella about being a content moderator for a large social media platform (which reminas nameless) and how it changes you. Goes in a bunch of directions you might not expect as the moderators befriend one another and get into and out of relationships, and has a hell of an ending. As someone who has worked in the moderator space somewhat I devoured it.

Dog Biscuits

A graphic novel about grappling with the early days of Covid, police brutality, and navigating complicated relationships. Originally released as a series of panels on Instagram and there’s a big afterword talking about its reception there. Not quite my jam, really uneven and I didn’t like the illustration style, but I hope it finds its audience.

Enchanted Islands

A really interesting mood piece about a woman with a difficult past and one (difficult) best friend who winds up married to a probably-gay man and living a nearly self-sufficient life in the Galapagos in the 1930s and 1940s. It’s got odd pacing but is good reading. The afterword which talks about how the author came up with the idea is, itself, fascinating.


What an unusual and interesting book. It’s a single story, sort of, told four different ways, but it takes you til about a third of the way through the book to figure out exactly what’s going on, but somehow you don’t mind at all. Lots of female characters and a writing style that is evocative but not too flowery. I loved it.

Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History

I love sugar but this book was a bit of a slog. It was interesting to look at the history of sugar and plantations and slavery and the increasing demand for sugar. It was a lot less interesting to read long pull quotes from ancient texts supporting the general thesis as well as recitations of various references that backed up the assertions of the author. For a book written in the 1980s it dealt with the issue of enslaved people and what their lives were like with more sensitivity than I expected.

True Biz

This book is about the interweaving lives of two-maybe-three people with differing relationships to Deaf culture (CODA, multigenerational Deaf, raised oralist w/ cochlear implant). It’s set against the backdrop of a Deaf school in danger of closing. There are lots of Deaf culture and ASL lessons tucked in-between chapters which will be interesting for people who would like to know more about Deaf culture (I knew many of these points so they felt a little bolted-on to me). There’s a lot going on here and there’s enough young person angst that it reads like a YA novel but also some more mature themes that make it not really read like a YA novel. I had some trouble getting a read on exactly what it was trying to say at times. Very good.


I had said back in 2018 that I was going to go back and read all of Brown’s other books. And then I forgot and noticed this one on the New shelf at the library. It’s got two intertwining stories, one with William Faulkner and one about the two barnstormers he maybe met once in the 1930s. It’s well-written but there’s a lot of drunken nonsense and not enough women who are actual characters. If you really love Faulkner and his history, you might enjoy this book’s exploration of parts of it. If you don’t much care about him you might be confused why this character takes up so much of this novel

The Patron Saint of Second Chances

A very small town in Italy needs to raise some money to fix their municipal water. One man, possibly the mayor as well as a hotelier as well as the local vacuum repairman, launches a scheme which unfolds with amusing, if predictable, mishaps. You get to meet all the characters, you worry it’s all going to fall apart. It does fall apart and it gets put back together. Funny as well as heartwarming.

An Eternal Lei

I liked Hirahara’s last book with this cast, the first in a series, but this one was more uneven. You could see how the plot outline was set up, and then it was filled in irregularly. Some parts of the story felt fleshed out and others felt unfinished. I appreciated the Hawaiian setting and really diverse cast and discussion of the some of the cultural issues. Still got hung up on what felt like confusing pidgin and I’m really not sure if it’s me or the author who has it somewhat wrong.