Reading is one of my favorite hobbies. This page lists all the books that I have finished reading in 2023.
This page is built leveraging the goodreads API.
My Brother's Husband, Volume 2 (Otouto no Otto, #3-4) cover
My Brother's Husband, Volume 2 (Otouto no Otto, #3-4)
by Gengoroh Tagame
My review: This book was strongly recommended by multiple friends, and I finally got some time to read it. It's very moving and well written. I strongly recommend it to everyone.
This is concluding volume in the story of Yaichi, his daughter Kana, and how their meeting Mike Flanagan--Yaichi's brother-in-law--changes their lives and perceptions of acceptance of homosexuality in their contemporary Japanese culture.
As Mike continues his journey of discovery concerning Ryoji's past, Yaichi gradually comes to understand that being gay is just another way of being human. And that, in many ways, remains a radical concept in Japan even today. In the meantime, the bond between Mike and young Kana grows ever stronger, and yet he is going to have to return to Canada soon--a fact that fills them both with impending heartbreak. But not before more than a few revelations come to light. (★★★★★)
Started: Dec 29 2023 Finished: Dec 30 2023
My Brother's Husband, Volume 1 (Otouto no Otto, #1-2) cover
My Brother's Husband, Volume 1 (Otouto no Otto, #1-2)
by Gengoroh Tagame
My review: Many friends recommended this book, but I never got around reading it. The story is moving and touching, and I strongly recommend it to everyone.
Yaichi is a work-at-home suburban dad in contemporary Tokyo; formerly married to Natsuki, father to their young daughter, Kana. Their lives suddenly change with the arrival at their doorstep of a hulking, affable Canadian named Mike Flanagan, who declares himself the widower of Yaichi's estranged gay twin, Ryoji. Mike is on a quest to explore Ryoji's past, and the family reluctantly but dutifully takes him in. What follows is an unprecedented and heartbreaking look at the state of a largely still-closeted Japanese gay culture: how it's been affected by the West, and how the next generation can change the preconceptions about it and prejudices against it. (★★★★★)
Started: Dec 25 2023 Finished: Dec 25 2023
Slow Time Between the Stars (The Far Reaches, #6) cover
Slow Time Between the Stars (The Far Reaches, #6)
by John Scalzi
My review: I am a fan of Scalzi and I was looking forward to read this novelette.
In this book, an artificial intelligence on a star-spanning mission explores the farthest horizons of human potential, and its own purpose. Equipped with the entirety of human knowledge, a sentient ship is launched on a last-ditch journey to find a new home for civilization. Trillions of miles. Tens of thousands of years. In the space between, the AI has plenty of time to think about life, the vastness of the universe, everything it was meant to do, and with a perspective created but not limited by humans, what it should do.
Despite its short length, this story is surprisingly good. I recommend it to everyone. (★★★★★)
Started: Dec 17 2023 Finished: Dec 20 2023
Mammoths at the Gates (The Singing Hills Cycle, #4) cover
Mammoths at the Gates (The Singing Hills Cycle, #4)
by Nghi Vo (2023)
My review: I have read an enjoyed the previous instalment of the series, and I was looking forward reading this latest instalment.
In Mammoth at the Gates the wandering Cleric Chih returns home to the Singing Hills Abbey for the first time in almost three years, to be met with both joy and sorrow. Their mentor, Cleric Thien, has died, and rests among the archivists and storytellers of the storied abbey. But not everyone is prepared to leave them to their rest. Because Cleric Thien was once the patriarch of Coh clan of Northern Bell Pass--and now their granddaughters have arrived on the backs of royal mammoths, demanding their grandfather’s body for burial. Chih must somehow balance honoring their mentor’s chosen life while keeping the sisters from the north from storming the gates and destroying the history the clerics have worked so hard to preserve. But as Chih and their neixin Almost Brilliant navigate the looming crisis, Myriad Virtues, Cleric Thien’s own beloved hoopoe companion, grieves her loss as only a being with perfect memory can, and her sorrow may be more powerful than anyone could anticipate.
I really enjoyed the book, and I believe it to be among the best in the series. While the book blurb claims the book can be read in any order, I would not do that, I believe some background knowledge offered in the previous ones makes this one more enjoyable. (★★★★)
Started: Nov 18 2023 Finished: Dec 17 2023
The Spare Man cover
The Spare Man
by Mary Robinette Kowal (2022)
My review: Every year I read all the finalists of the most prestigious science fiction awards (at least in the English speaking world): the Hugo awards. This story is a finalist in the Novel category. I had previously read and loved many books and short stories by this author, and I was eager to read more.
This is the story of Tesla Crane, a brilliant inventor and an heiress, on her honeymoon on an interplanetary space liner, cruising between the Moon and Mars. She’s traveling incognito and is reveling in her anonymity. Then someone is murdered and the festering chowderheads who run security have the audacity to arrest her spouse. Armed with banter, martinis and her small service dog, Tesla is determined to solve the crime so that the newlyweds can get back to canoodling—and keep the real killer from striking again.
I am not crazy about detective stories, those are usually not my cup of tea, but despite that I really enjoyed the book. It was quite witty and funny, and the style reminded me the one of the most recent Scalzi's books (the two authors are friends, so they may be influencing each other a little).
It is a good solid book, entertaining and enjoyable, but if you never read anything by this author, I would start with the Lady's astronaut series first. (★★★★)
Started: Oct 23 2023 Finished: Nov 22 2023
Just Out of Jupiter's Reach (The Far Reaches, #5) cover
Just Out of Jupiter's Reach (The Far Reaches, #5)
by Nnedi Okorafor
My review: I previously read and loved a few books by this author, hence I was eager to read more.
This is the story of Tornado Onwubiko, one of seven people on Earth paired with sentient ships to explore and research the cosmos for twenty million euros. A decade of solitary life for a lifetime of wealth. Five years into the ten-year mission of total isolation comes a a temporary meetup among fellow travelers. A lot can happen in a week. For Tornado, who left a normal life behind, a little company can be life-changing.
A beautiful story that makes me want to read more by this autor. (★★★★)
Started: Nov 13 2023 Finished: Nov 18 2023
Void (The Far Reaches, #2) cover
Void (The Far Reaches, #2)
by Veronica Roth
My review: Veronica Roth wrote some popular book series, and I was intrigued to see what this short story was about.
The story is set on an intergalactic luxury cruise traveling to a distant port. The ship is a world unto itself. Traveling faster than light, the transport ship Redundancy is cut off from communication as effectively as an ancient ocean liner. The isolation suits crew member Ace Vance just fine, she’s got nowhere else to be. But when a wealthy passenger turns up dead during a routine voyage, Ace will have to connect with the passengers and crew to uncover the truth. Tragedy will strike again... it’s only a matter of time.
It's an enjoyable read, with some nice moments. (★★★)
Started: Nov 10 2023 Finished: Nov 13 2023
Acceptance cover
Acceptance
by Jeff VanderMeer
My review: I had read the previous instalments of the series and while I was not blown away by them, I wanted to understand what was happening, to get an answer for the many questions I had. I got some half answers, some it is left to the imagination. The author excel in creating an hunted atmosphere and on character development... but there is a little bit too little of a plot for three books. It's not a bad book, a lot of people loved it, it is probably just not my cup of tea.
In Acceptance it is winter in Area X, the mysterious wilderness that has defied explanation for thirty years, rebuffing expedition after expedition, refusing to reveal its secrets. As Area X expands, the agency tasked with investigating and overseeing it—the Southern Reach—has collapsed on itself in confusion. Now one last, desperate team crosses the border, determined to reach a remote island that may hold the answers they've been seeking. If they fail, the outer world is in peril. Meanwhile, Acceptance tunnels ever deeper into the circumstances surrounding the creation of Area X—what initiated this unnatural upheaval? Among the many who have tried, who has gotten close to understanding Area X—and who may have been corrupted by it? (★★★)
Started: Oct 19 2023 Finished: Nov 09 2023
All Boys Aren't Blue cover
All Boys Aren't Blue
by George M. Johnson
My review: I read this book as part of Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It brings together the entire book community (librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types) in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.
All Boys Aren't Blue is a series of personal essays by prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson, that explore the author's childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black Queer boys.
Representation matter, and there are not many books out there that focus on growing up at while belonging to the intersection of two minority. This makes the existence of this book more important, and it saddens me that it is being targeted for censorship and removed from libraries. (★★★★)
Started: Oct 04 2023 Finished: Oct 22 2023
Falling Bodies (The Far Reaches, #3) cover
Falling Bodies (The Far Reaches, #3)
by Rebecca Roanhorse
My review: I love the work of this author, and I was thrilled to discover a new novelette by her I have not read before!
This is the story of a young man caught between two disparate worlds that searches for his place. Light-years from home, it’s Ira’s second chance. Just another anonymous student at a space station university. Not the orphan whose Earther heritage was erased. Not some social experiment put on display by his adoptive father. Not the criminal recruited by the human rebels. But when Ira’s loyalties clash once again, two wars break one on the ground and one within himself. Which will Ira stand with? Which will take him down?
Of course the story echoes some real events of the past: in the decades after World War II hundreds of Native American children in the US were taken from their communities and given to white families through adoption or foster care. A very interesting story, hard to put down, and deep. (★★★★★)
Started: Oct 08 2023 Finished: Oct 18 2023
Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower, #4) cover
Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower, #4)
by Stephen King (2003)
My review: Stephen King has written quite a lot, including some remarkable books and some less great ones. Years ago I decided to read his magnus opus, the extended Dark Tower series, and I have been slowly working my way through it. So far I had not been too impressed I have to say, and I was hesitant to jump into this book, but it was actually not bad, and much better than the majority of the previous instalments.
In Wizard and the Glass Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Jake’s pet bumbler survive Blaine the Mono’s final crash, only to find themselves stranded in an alternate version of Topeka, Kansas, one that has been ravaged by the superflu virus (does it sounds familiar? If you read The Stand it should). While following the deserted I-70 toward a distant glass palace, they hear the atonal squalling of a thinny, a place where the fabric of existence has almost entirely worn away. While camping near the edge of the thinny, Roland tells his ka-tet a story about another thinny, one that he encountered when he was little more than a boy. Over the course of one long magical night, Roland transports us to the Mid-World of long-ago and a seaside town called Hambry, where Roland fell in love with a girl named Susan Delgado, and where he and his old tet-mates Alain and Cuthbert battled the forces of John Farson, the harrier who—with a little help from a seeing sphere called Maerlyn’s Grapefruit—ignited Mid-World’s final war.
(★★★)
Started: Apr 27 2023 Finished: Oct 14 2023
Poverty, by America cover
Poverty, by America
by Matthew Desmond
My review: I read this book for the book club that I help running at work, and I am quite thrilled to have had a chance to read it. Despite his many awards (including the prestigious Pulitzer Prize) and accomplishments, I have never read anything by this author, and after reading this book, I regret not having done it.
The book focuses on poverty in the United States, and it makes a new and bracing argument about why it persists in America: because the rest of us benefit from it.
The United States, the richest country on earth, has more poverty than any other advanced democracy. Why? Why does this land of plenty allow one in every eight of its children to go without basic necessities, permit scores of its citizens to live and die on the streets, and authorize its corporations to pay poverty wages? In this book, sociologist Matthew Desmond draws on history, research, and original reporting to show how affluent Americans knowingly and unknowingly keep poor people poor. Those of us who are financially secure exploit the poor, driving down their wages while forcing them to overpay for housing and access to cash and credit. We prioritize the subsidization of our wealth over the alleviation of poverty, designing a welfare state that gives the most to those who need the least. And we stockpile opportunity in exclusive communities, creating zones of concentrated riches alongside those of concentrated despair. Some lives are made small so that others may grow. Elegantly written and fiercely argued, this compassionate book gives us new ways of thinking about a morally urgent problem. It also helps us imagine solutions. Desmond builds a startlingly original and ambitious case for ending poverty. He calls on us all to become poverty abolitionists, engaged in a politics of collective belonging to usher in a new age of shared prosperity and, at last, true freedom. (★★★★★)
Started: Sep 26 2023 Finished: Oct 08 2023
Ogres cover
Ogres
by Adrian Tchaikovsky
My review: Every year I read all the finalists of the most prestigious science fiction awards (at least in the English speaking world): the Hugo awards. This story is a finalist in the Novella category. I had previously read a single book by this author, and I really liked it. Therefore I as looking forward reading more of his work. We should never judge a book by its cover, but I confess I would have not picked the book if I have seen it in a bookstore... it looks like the cover of a self-published book... but hey, the old saying was right and the book turns out to be amazingly good! And I liked how fantasy and science fiction elements are mixed and used as allegories to exploitation.
In this fictional world there are two sentient beings on Earth: Humans and Ogres. Ogres are bigger than you. Ogres are stronger than you. Ogres rule the world. It’s always idyllic in the village until the landlord comes to call. Because the landlord is an Ogre. And Ogres rule the world, with their size and strength and appetites. It’s always been that way. It’s the natural order of the world. And they only eat people sometimes. But when the headman’s son, Torquell, dares lift his hand against the landlord’s son, he sets himself on a path to learn the terrible truth about the Ogres, and about the dark sciences that ensured their rule. (★★★★★)
Started: Sep 16 2023 Finished: Oct 03 2023
How It Unfolds (The Far Reaches, #1) cover
How It Unfolds (The Far Reaches, #1)
by James S.A. Corey
My review: I had previously read books and short stories by "James Corey" set in the Expanse world, and I liked them quite a lot. I was looking forward reading something by the same duo set in a different fictional world. Heck, they really deliver.
Roy Court and his crew are taking the trip of a lifetime, several lifetimes in fact, duplicated and dispatched across the galaxies searching for Earthlike planets. Many possibilities for the future. Yet for Roy, no matter how many of him there are, there’s still just one painful, unchangeable past. In what world can a broken relationship be reborn? The universe is so vast, there’s always room for hope.
A great short story, that could be turned into a great movie! (★★★★)
Started: Sep 24 2023 Finished: Sep 25 2023
The Long Game (The Far Reaches, #4) cover
The Long Game (The Far Reaches, #4)
by Ann Leckie
My review: I had previously read an quite enjoyed many books and story by this author, and I was looking forward to reading this new short story. I was not disappointed!
An inquisitive life-form finds there’s more to existence than they ever dreamed. On a far-off colony, humans tower over the local species who grow the plants they need. Narr keeps the workers in line—someone has to. But when Narr learns just how short-lived their species is, the little alien embarks on a big to find out why their people die and how to stop it. Stubborn and hopeful, Narr has a plan for the locals, for humans, and for the future.
This story is an interesting reflection of colonialism, wrapped inside a quite delightful to read sci-fi adventure. (★★★★)
Started: Sep 24 2023 Finished: Sep 24 2023
Authority cover
Authority
by Jeff VanderMeer
My review: I had enjoyed the previous installment of the series, and I was hoping to learn more about the many mysteries left open... in that regards I was disappointed. I did not get many answer, and I was left instead with more questions.
After thirty years, the only human engagement with Area X—a seemingly malevolent landscape surrounded by an invisible border and mysteriously wiped clean of all signs of civilization—has been a series of expeditions overseen by a government agency so secret it has almost been forgotten: the Southern Reach. Following the tumultuous twelfth expedition chronicled in Annihilation, the agency is in complete disarray. John Rodríguez (aka "Control") is the Southern Reach's newly appointed head. Working with a distrustful but desperate team, a series of frustrating interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, Control begins to penetrate the secrets of Area X. But with each discovery he must confront disturbing truths about himself and the agency he's pledged to serve.
The author does an incredibly good job at creating an atmosphere of mystery and suspense, but often nothing really happens, and the plot keeps dragging on. At least here we did have something big happen towards the end... (★★)
Started: Jun 10 2023 Finished: Sep 23 2023
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 189, June 2022 cover
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 189, June 2022
by Neil Clarke (2022)
My review: This review is for "We Built This City" by Marie Vibbert.
Every year I read all the finalists of the most prestigious science fiction awards (at least in the English speaking world): the Hugo awards. This story is a finalist in the Novelette category. I do not remember reading anything by this author before, hence I was quite excited to read it. I was not disappointed!
The story is set in the future, on a floating colony on Venus. The young protagonist is the children of one of the people that build the colony, but has a humble construction worker job. Her job is extremely important for the city survival, yet she is underpaid, and her employer try to get more and more from her and her colleagues with less and less.
A great reflection on labor, worker rights movements, and capitalism. (★★★★)
Started: Sep 09 2023 Finished: Sep 16 2023
Legends & Lattes (Legends & Lattes, #1) cover
Legends & Lattes (Legends & Lattes, #1)
by Travis Baldree
My review: Every year I read all the finalists of the most prestigious science fiction awards (at least in the English speaking world): the Hugo awards. This story is a finalist in the Novel category. I had never read anything by this author before, and I did not know quite what to expect. We should never judge a book by its cover, but this book cover is quite enticing. It turns out, this was a remarkably good read, and I cannot wait to read more by this author.
The story may appear initially simple, yet the book is impossible to put down. I believe this is because of the amazing characters, that are so well rounded and complex.
The plot: after a lifetime of bounties and bloodshed, Viv is hanging up her sword for the last time. The battle-weary orc aims to start fresh, opening the first ever coffee shop in the city of Thune. But old and new rivals stand in the way of success—not to mention the fact that no one has the faintest idea what coffee actually is. If Viv wants to put the blade behind her and make her plans a reality, she won't be able to go it alone. But the true rewards of the uncharted path are the travelers you meet along the way. And whether drawn together by ancient magic, flaky pastry, or a freshly brewed cup, they may become partners, family, and something deeper than she ever could have dreamed.
Great book! I strongly recommend it. (★★★★★)
Started: Aug 26 2023 Finished: Sep 11 2023
Uncanny Magazine Issue 49: November/December 2022 cover
Uncanny Magazine Issue 49: November/December 2022
by Lynne M. Thomas (2022)
My review: This review is for "Rabbit Test" by Samantha Mills.
Every year I read all the finalists of the most prestigious science fiction awards (at least in the English speaking world): the Hugo awards. This story is a finalist in the Short Story category. I do not remember reading anything by this author before, I really missed out. She is an incredibly talented artist. I cannot wait to read more of her work!
The story follows Grace, a teen in 2091 whose menstrual cycle is late and her implanted med chip will be running a rabbit test aka a pregnancy test soon. Her parents will know and her life will be over. The narrative bounces back and forth from Grace trying to find a way to terminate her pregnancy where this is very illegal, and historical narratives talking about pregnancy testing, birth control, abortion and abortifacients, and the laws involved from the eyes of pregnant people throughout history.
This story is clearly written in a world facing the end of Roe, it's the most 2022 of stories and one of the most timeless of stories. A new era, a new "our grandmother's fought for this", rinse repeat.
Despite its short length, the story is extremely powerful and effective. Also you can tell that the author did tons of research on the subject.
This is currently my #1 choice for the Hugo award this year, and I strongly recommend it to everyone. (★★★★★)
Started: Sep 02 2023 Finished: Sep 05 2023
D.I.Y cover
D.I.Y
by John Wiswell (2022)
My review: Every year I read all the finalists of the most prestigious science fiction awards (at least in the English speaking world): the Hugo awards. This story is a finalist in the Short Story category. I have not read anything by this author before, and because of it I did not know what to expect. I was blown away. This story is amazing! It make me wish it was expanded into a full story.
In a world like ours, magic is real. In order to learn how to do magic, school is necessary, but it's very hard to be admitted... When the the elitist institution of Ozymandias Academy and its headmaster, Vamon Kinctuarin, can't find a solution to the city's worsening drought, 2 self-taught magicians, Noah and his partner Manny, take it upon themselves to find a solution to the crisis.
The story is a great reflection on the lack of social mobility in our modern society, how money confers tremendous power, but who holds those money do not necessarily use their power for good. This is a very interesting short shorty, with more depth than I would have expected given its length. I am looking forward to read more work by this author. (★★★★★)
Started: Aug 20 2023 Finished: Sep 02 2023
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau cover
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (2022)
My review: Every year I read all the finalists of the most prestigious science fiction awards (at least in the English speaking world): the Hugo awards. This story is a finalist in the Novel category. I heard a lot of good reviews about this author's work, but I never had a chance to read any of it. I was glad to had a chance and... I was not disappointed. This is really a good book: excellent storytelling, interesting well rounded characters, and a fascinating portrait of Yucatan in the 19th century.
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is a lavish historical drama reimagining of The Island of Doctor Moreau. The story is told from the point of view of two characters: Carlota Moreau: a young woman, growing up in a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatán peninsula. The only daughter of either a genius, or a madman; Montgomery Laughton: a melancholic overseer with a tragic past and a propensity for alcohol. An outcast who assists Dr. Moreau with his scientific experiments, which are financed by the Lizaldes, owners of magnificent haciendas and plentiful coffers. He takes care of the hybrids, the fruits of the Doctor’s labor, destined to blindly obey their creator and remain in the shadows. A motley group of part human, part animal monstrosities.
All of them living in a perfectly balanced and static world, which is jolted by the abrupt arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of Doctor Moreau’s patron, who will unwittingly begin a dangerous chain reaction. For Moreau keeps secrets, Carlota has questions, and in the sweltering heat of the jungle, passions may ignite.
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is both a dazzling historical novel and a daring science fiction journey.
A great book, that I expect will do quite well at the Hugo's this year. (★★★★★)
Started: Aug 05 2023 Finished: Aug 21 2023
Even Though I Knew the End cover
Even Though I Knew the End
by C.L. Polk
My review: Every year I read all the finalists of the most prestigious science fiction awards (at least in the English speaking world): the Hugo awards. This story is a finalist in the Novella category. I heard a lot of good reviews about this author's work, but I never had a chance to read any of it. I was glad to had a chance and... I was not disappointed. This is one of the best books I have read in a long while.
A magical detective dives into the affairs of Chicago's divine monsters to secure a future with the love of her life. This sapphic period piece will dazzle anyone looking for mystery, intrigue, romance, magic, or all of the above.
An exiled auspex who sold her soul to save her brother's life is offered one last job before serving an eternity in hell. When she turns it down, her client sweetens the pot by offering up the one payment she can't resist―the chance to have a future where she grows old with the woman she loves.
To succeed, she is given three days to track down the White City Vampire, Chicago's most notorious serial killer. If she fails, only hell and heartbreak await.
I really do hope there is going to be a sequel to this story, and in the meantime, I am planning to read everything I can find by this author! (★★★★★)
Started: Aug 09 2023 Finished: Aug 20 2023
The Kaiju Preservation Society cover
The Kaiju Preservation Society
by John Scalzi (2023)
My review: Every year I read all the finalists of the most prestigious science fiction awards (at least in the English speaking world): the Hugo awards. This story is a finalist in the Novel category. I had previously read and loved some books and stories by this author, hence I was eager to read this one. I liked it a lot!
The story is set during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. When the virus sweeps through New York City, Jamie Gray is stuck as a dead-end driver for food delivery apps. That is, until Jamie makes a delivery to an old acquaintance, Tom, who works at what he calls "an animal rights organization." Tom's team needs a last-minute grunt to handle things on their next field visit. Jamie, eager to do anything, immediately signs on. What Tom doesn't tell Jamie is that the animals his team cares for are not here on Earth. Not our Earth, at at least. In an alternate dimension, massive dinosaur-like creatures named Kaiju roam a warm and human-free world. They're the universe's largest and most dangerous panda and they're in trouble. It's not just the Kaiju Preservation Society that's found its way to the alternate world. Others have, too--and their carelessness could cause millions back on our Earth to die.
This is a fun light reading book, that I recommend to everyone. (★★★★)
Started: Jul 27 2023 Finished: Aug 06 2023
Nettle & Bone cover
Nettle & Bone
by T. Kingfisher
My review: Every year I read all the finalists of the most prestigious science fiction awards (at least in the English speaking world): the Hugo awards. This story is a finalist in the Novel category. I had previously read and loved some books and stories by this author, hence I was eager to read this one. I was not disappointed!
After years of seeing her sisters suffer at the hands of an abusive prince, Marra, the shy, convent-raised, third-born daughter, has finally realized that no one is coming to their rescue. No one, except for Marra herself. Seeking help from a powerful gravewitch, Marra is offered the tools to kill a prince... if she can complete three impossible tasks. But, as is the way in tales of princes, witches, and daughters, the impossible is only the beginning. On her quest, Marra is joined by the gravewitch, a reluctant fairy godmother, a strapping former knight, and a chicken possessed by a demon. Together, the five of them intend to be the hand that closes around the throat of the prince and frees Marra's family and their kingdom from its tyrannous ruler at last.
This turned out to be exquisitely written and hard to put down book that I recommend to everyone. (★★★★★)
Started: Jul 19 2023 Finished: Aug 05 2023
Flamer cover
Flamer
by Mike Curato (2020)
My review: I read this book as part of Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It brings together the entire book community (librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types) in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.
For the past few years I have been participating to the event reading some of the most challenged books in the previous year.
Award-winning author and artist Mike Curato draws on his own experiences in Flamer, his debut graphic novel, telling a difficult story with humor, compassion, and love. The main character of Flamer knows he is not gay. Gay boys like other boys. He hates boys. They’re mean, and scary, and they’re always destroying something or saying something dumb or both. He hatse that word. Gay. It makes him feel . . . unsafe. It's the summer between middle school and high school, and Aiden Navarro is away at camp. Everyone's going through changes—but for Aiden, the stakes feel higher. As he navigates friendships, deals with bullies, and spends time with Elias (a boy he can't stop thinking about), he finds himself on a path of self-discovery and acceptance.
The art is incredible: simple, yet stunningly beautiful and expressive. The story is very honest, easy to connect with, and touching. I strongly recommend this book to anyone. (★★★★★)
Started: Jul 31 2023 Finished: Aug 05 2023
Uncanny Magazine Issue 47: July/August 2022 cover
Uncanny Magazine Issue 47: July/August 2022
by Lynne M. Thomas (2022)
My review: This review is for "If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the Informal You" by John Chu.
Every year I read all the finalists of the most prestigious science fiction awards (at least in the English speaking world): the Hugo awards. This story is a finalist in the Novelette category. I had previously read and deeply loved a short story by this author and I was eager to read more. I was not disappointed.
The story is engaging and profound, making a superhero story that is at once very personal and also broadly suited, showing bravery in the face of racism. It is currently my favorite for the Hugo in this category. (★★★★★)
Started: Jul 17 2023 Finished: Jul 22 2023
A Dream of Electric Mothers cover
A Dream of Electric Mothers
by Wole Talabi (2023)
My review: Every year I read all the finalists of the most prestigious science fiction awards (at least in the English speaking world): the Hugo awards. This story is a finalist in the Novelette category. I had never read anything by this author, and I was quite excited to try something new.
"A Dream of Electric Mothers" is an alternate history novelette by Wole Talabi. The story is about a nation who preserve the wisdom of their ancestors in a single amalgamation of the minds of the dead, and consult them on difficult political problems. Is the ability to consult the ancestors an incredible boon, or a curse?
An incredibly interesting piece and a strong contender for the award. (★★★★★)
Started: Jul 22 2023 Finished: Jul 22 2023
What Moves the Dead (Sworn Soldier, #1) cover
What Moves the Dead (Sworn Soldier, #1)
by T. Kingfisher
My review: Every year I read all the finalists of the most prestigious science fiction awards (at least in the English speaking world): the Hugo awards. This story is a finalist in the Novella category. I had previously read and loved some books and stories by this author, hence I was eager to read this one. I was not disappointed!
What moved the dead is a gripping and atmospheric retelling of Edgar Allan Poe's classic "The Fall of the House of Usher." When Alex Easton, a retired soldier, receives word that their childhood friend Madeline Usher is dying, they race to the ancestral home of the Ushers in the remote countryside of Ruravia.
What they find there is a nightmare of fungal growths and possessed wildlife, surrounding a dark, pulsing lake. Madeline sleepwalks and speaks in strange voices at night, and her brother Roderick is consumed with a mysterious malady of the nerves.
Aided by a redoubtable British mycologist and a baffled American doctor, Alex must unravel the secret of the House of Usher before it consumes them all.
This is really a good story, much better than the Poe's story that inspired it. I cannot wait to read the sequel! (★★★★)
Started: Jul 07 2023 Finished: Jul 17 2023
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The Difference Between Love and Time
by Catherynne M. Valente (2022)
My review: This review if for Catherynne M. Valente's "The difference between love and time".
Every year I read all the finalists of the most prestigious science fiction awards (at least in the English speaking world): the Hugo awards. This story is a finalist in the Novelette category. I had previously read some books and stories by this author and really liked some of it, hence I was eager to read this one.
This story was very quirky and out there. The narrator chronicles her life through a series of relationships with the space/time continuum. The continuum takes form of various people or objects (and so does the narrator, even though in different realities, which are never deeply explored). The non-linear story jumps between years or decades, as we slowly unravel some of the more important events in the narrator’s life.
While I did enjoy it, and while it was well written, it was not exactly my cup of tea. I have a feeling this is the kind of story you either love or hate. (★★)
Started: Jul 12 2023 Finished: Jul 17 2023
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 195, December 2022 cover
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 195, December 2022
by Neil Clarke (2022)
My review: This review if for S.L. Huang's "Murder by Pixel: Crime and Responsibility in the Digital Darkness".
Every year I read all the finalists of the most prestigious science fiction awards (at least in the English speaking world): the Hugo awards. This story is a finalist in the Novelette category. I had previously read a couple of other short stories by this author, and I really liked both. Hence I was looking forward to reading this one.
This is, by far, one of the best description of what the latest generation of machine learning algorithms can offer, how they can help us, and how they can harm us. I work in that sector, and I am constantly unhappy about the quality of articles and blogposts on the topic. They seems to be written by people that do not really understand what they are talking about. It is almost hilarious that what is supposed to be a science fiction story turn out to be the most realistic and accurate description of the current state of things. The author directly quotes and paraphrase real scientific papers and reports, and wave a fictional (yet non that unrealistic) story around a solid skeleton of real events and facts.
The result is incredibly good, and I strongly recommend it to everyone.
This is, for now at least, my number one choice for the Hugo trophy. (★★★★★)
Started: Jul 10 2023 Finished: Jul 11 2023
Fantasy Magazine, Issue 58 (October 2014, Women Destroy Fantasy! Special Issue): Women Destroy Fantasy! Special Issue cover
Fantasy Magazine, Issue 58 (October 2014, Women Destroy Fantasy! Special Issue): Women Destroy Fantasy! Special Issue
by Cat Rambo
My review: Lightspeed and Fantasy are well-known science fiction and fantasy magazines that some years ago merged together. Even in fantasy, supposedly the genre of limitless possibility, where everyone is invited to the adventure, minorities are often underrepresented. Back in 2014 Lightspeed started the "destroy science fiction" series, a yearly program focusing on underrepresented minorities to give them a voice, and to see what they have to offer and to contribute to the genre. In 2014 they focused on women. While fantasy is considered by many the more open of the literary genres, heterosexual white men are often considered the default, at least in some subgenres, to the extent that everything else is "deviation," and must be eyed with suspicion. Fantasy fiction is vast, and incredible fascinating in all its facets. It is inclusive. Fantasy is about people, and women are part of the genre. They always have been. Yet some readers seem to have this funny idea that women don't, or can't, write good fantasy, or only fantasy of a particular type. Some have even gone so far as to accuse women of destroying fantasy with their girl cooties. So to help prove how silly that notion is, Women Destroy Fantasy! showcase the richness and variety of women fantasy writers contributions. The issue features original fiction by Kate Hall, H.E. Roulo, T. Kingfisher, Julia August, and many more.
This is a great and important initiative, a very enjoyable and interesting read. I am looking forward reading the more "destroy" issue! (★★★★★)
Started: Jul 01 2023 Finished: Jul 09 2023
Dragons of Deceit (Dragonlance: Destinies, #1) cover
Dragons of Deceit (Dragonlance: Destinies, #1)
by Margaret Weis (2022)
My review: I grew up reading the Dragonlance novels, and they will always have a special place in my heart. So when I heard that Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman were going to come back to Krynn for the first time in over a decade I was quite excited. The book features many of the characters from the iconic first two trilogies, Dragonlance Chronicles and Dragonlance Legends.
This is the story of Destina Rosethorn, the daughter of a plainswoman warrior and of a Solamnia's knight. [spoilers removed]
Is the book any good? It is a mix bag. The first half of the book is slow, it has a predictable and thin plot set against the events of the previous book series. It was probably intended to help new readers to come up to speed but... it's not great. The second part is way more entertaining and interesting. I did like to see a more diverse set of characters than in the previous books (finally! I was starting to wonder if on Krynn everyone was Caucasian!), but the description of Destina's mother brought this article by Nnedi Okorafor to mind.
Would I recommend this book? If you loved the original two trilogies then yes. If you never read any dragonlance book before... do not start here, follow this dragonlance reading order guide instead. (★★★★)
Started: Jun 09 2023 Finished: Jun 30 2023
Autonomous cover
Autonomous
by Annalee Newitz (2017)
My review: I previously read only non-fiction books by this author, but I heard that their sci-fi work was good, and I wanted to give it a try. It turns out that I like their fiction more then their non-fiction!
In Autonomous a rakish female pharmaceutical pirate named Jack traverses the world in her own submarine. Jack is a notorious anti-patent scientist who has styled herself as a Robin Hood heroine fighting to bring cheap drugs to the poor. Unfortunately her latest drug is leaving a trail of lethal overdoses across what used to be North America—a drug that compels people to become addicted to her work. On Jack’s trail are an unlikely pair: an emotionally shut-down military agent and his partner, Paladin, a young military robot, who fall in love against all expectations. Autonomous alternates between the activities of Jack and her co-conspirators, and Elias and Paladin, as they all race to stop a bizarre drug epidemic that is tearing apart lives, causing trains to crash, and flooding New York City.
Beside the enjoyable plot, what makes the book stand out is the reflection on the impact of the patent system to the drug market, and how some cures become out of reach to the less wealthy. I will read more by this author in the future. (★★★★)
Started: May 19 2023 Finished: Jun 09 2023
The Curse of Chalion (World of the Five Gods, #1) cover
The Curse of Chalion (World of the Five Gods, #1)
by Lois McMaster Bujold (2003)
My review: I recently finished reading the Penric and Desdemona series set in the fictional world the Five Gods. Since I liked the series, I decided to read the series that created this world, and that was nominated for a big number of prestigious awards. It was an enjoyable book, and I liked some of the characters, but I was not blown away by it.
This is the story of Cazaril, A man broken in body and spirit. He has returned to the noble household he once served as page, and is named, to his great surprise, as the secretary-tutor to the beautiful, strong-willed sister of the impetuous boy who is next in line to rule. It is an assignment Cazaril dreads, for it will ultimately lead him to the place he fears most, the royal court of Cardegoss, where the powerful enemies, who once placed him in chains, now occupy lofty positions. In addition to the traitorous intrigues of villains, Cazaril and the Royesse Iselle, are faced with a sinister curse that hangs like a sword over the entire blighted House of Chalion and all who stand in their circle. Only by employing the darkest, most forbidden of magics, can Cazaril hope to protect his royal charge—an act that will mark the loyal, damaged servant as a tool of the miraculous, and trap him, flesh and soul, in a maze of demonic paradox, damnation, and death. (★★★)
Started: Apr 24 2023 Finished: May 19 2023
Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1) cover
Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1)
by Jeff VanderMeer
My review: I saw quite a few good reviews of this book, and the author is quite popular, so I decided to give it a try. I am glad I did, I liked the settings and the unreliable narrator framing. I was a little disappointed by the ending, that was a little too open than I would have liked. Hopefuly the next instalments will shed more light on the remaining mysteries.
The story is set in a near future in what is called "Area X". Area X has been cut off from the rest of the world for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation we join the twelfth expedition. The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself. They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers... but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything. (★★★)
Started: Apr 22 2023 Finished: Apr 27 2023
Knot of Shadows (Penric and Desdemona, #11) cover
Knot of Shadows (Penric and Desdemona, #11)
by Lois McMaster Bujold (2021)
My review: I enjoyed the previous installments of the Penric and Desdemona series, and I was eager to see what will happen in Knot of Shadows.
When a corpse is found floating face-down in Vilnoc harbor that is not quite as dead as it seems, Temple sorcerer Penric and his chaos demon Desdemona are drawn into the uncanny investigation. Pen's keen questions will take him across the city of Vilnoc, and into far more profound mysteries, as his search for truths interlaces with tragedy.
This is another entertaining story set in the world of five gods. It's probably not the best one, but I enjoyed it. (★★★)
Started: Apr 16 2023 Finished: Apr 23 2023
Noor cover
Noor
by Nnedi Okorafor
My review: I loved Who Fears Death and I was looking forward reading more by this author.
This story is set in near-future Nigeria. Anwuli Okwudili prefers to be called AO. To her, these initials have always stood for Artificial Organism. AO has never really felt...natural, and that's putting it lightly. Her parents spent most of the days before she was born praying for her peaceful passing because even in-utero she was wrong. But she lived. Then came the car accident years later that disabled her even further. Yet instead of viewing her strange body the way the world views it, as freakish, unnatural, even the work of the devil, AO embraces all that she is: a woman with a ton of major and necessary body augmentations. And then one day she goes to her local market and everything goes wrong. Once on the run, she meets a Fulani herdsman named DNA and the race against time across the deserts of Northern Nigeria begins. In a world where all things are streamed, everyone is watching the reckoning of the murderess and the terrorist and the saga of the wicked woman and mad man unfold. This fast-paced, relentless journey of tribe, destiny, body, and the wonderland of technology revels in the fact that the future sometimes isn't so predictable.
This is really a great book, I am looking forward reading more by this author. (★★★★)
Started: Apr 01 2023 Finished: Apr 21 2023
Anansi Boys cover
Anansi Boys
by Neil Gaiman (2009)
My review: I did like American Gods, but not so much as to read its sequel... or so I though. I saw Anansi Boys on sale and i though "why not?". So I gave it a try. Funny enough I enjoyed it much more than the previous instalment of the series, even if its scope is much narrower.
This is the Story of Fat Charlie and Spider. When Fat Charlie's dad named something, it stuck. Like calling Fat Charlie "Fat Charlie." Even now, twenty years later, Charlie Nancy can't shake that name, one of the many embarrassing "gifts" his father bestowed -- before he dropped dead on a karaoke stage and ruined Fat Charlie's life.
Mr. Nancy left Fat Charlie things. Things like the tall, good-looking stranger who appears on Charlie's doorstep, who appears to be the brother he never knew. A brother as different from Charlie as night is from day, a brother who's going to show Charlie how to lighten up and have a little fun ... just like Dear Old Dad. And all of a sudden, life starts getting very interesting for Fat Charlie.
Because, you see, Charlie's dad wasn't just any dad. He was Anansi, a trickster god, the spider-god. Anansi is the spirit of rebellion, able to overturn the social order, create wealth out of thin air, and baffle the devil. Some said he could cheat even Death himself.
This was a very enjoyable read. I shoudl give other Neil Gaiman's books a try! (★★★★)
Started: Mar 19 2023 Finished: Apr 16 2023
Fevered Star (Between Earth and Sky, #2) cover
Fevered Star (Between Earth and Sky, #2)
by Rebecca Roanhorse (2022)
My review: I had previously read and deeply loved the previous instalment of Between Earth and Sky series, Black Sun. When I learned that the second instalment was out I was extremely eager to read it... I was not disappointed. This is one of the best series of the decade. I cannot wait to read the next book!
Fevered Star starts when Black Sun left off: the sun is held within the smothering grip of the Crow God’s eclipse, but a comet that marks the death of a ruler and heralds the rise of a new order is imminent. As sea captain Xiala is swept up in the chaos and currents of change, she finds an unexpected ally in the former Priest of Knives. For the Clan Matriarchs of Tova, tense alliances form as far-flung enemies gather and the war in the heavens is reflected upon the earth. And for Serapio and Naranpa, both now living avatars, the struggle for free will and personhood in the face of destiny rages. How will Serapio stay human when he is steeped in prophecy and surrounded by those who desire only his power? Is there a future for Naranpa in a transformed Tova without her total destruction? (★★★★★)
Started: Mar 04 2023 Finished: Mar 31 2023
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The Origin of the Flow (The Interdependency, #0.5)
by John Scalzi (2019)
My review: I had just finished reading and loved the Interdependency series when I discovered this short story set in the same universe existed. I had to read it.
It turns out it is a prequel of sort, a reference piece that the author had written for himself to give some context to himself about what he was writing. He decided to release it as part of a charity event.
In the Interdependency series, humans get around space via “The Flow”, a “metacosmological multidimensional space” that’s not of this universe but lets people get around in it at multiples of the speed of light. This is the Flow's origin story, and it covers how people discovered it.
It's cute and interesting to read, but you definitely do not need to read it to appreciate the series. The author himself describe it as "non canonical" and "fan-fiction of his own work". (★★★★)
Started: Mar 21 2023 Finished: Mar 21 2023
The Last Emperox (The Interdependency, #3) cover
The Last Emperox (The Interdependency, #3)
by John Scalzi
My review: I previously read and loved many books by this author, including the other books in The Interdependency series. While I thought that the first instalment of the series was a little rough and rushed out (the author said that he did rush to complete it before a deadline), I enjoyed the story and I was vested into completing it. The second instalment was already really good, but The Last Emperox is by far the best of the series, and I really loved and laughed out loud reading it (the author has a great sense of humor).
In this book the collapse of The Flow, the interstellar pathway between the planets of the Interdependency, has accelerated. Entire star systems and billions of people are becoming cut off from the rest of human civilization. This collapse was foretold through scientific prediction... and yet, even as the evidence is obvious and insurmountable, many still try to rationalize, delay and profit from, these final days of one of the greatest empires humanity has ever known.
Emperox Grayland II has finally wrested control of her empire from those who oppose her and who deny the reality of this collapse. But “control” is a slippery thing, and even as Grayland strives to save as many of her people form impoverished isolation, the forces opposing her rule will make a final, desperate push to topple her from her throne and power, by any means necessary. Grayland and her thinning list of allies must use every tool at their disposal to save themselves, and all of humanity. And yet it may not be enough.
A great conclusion to a great series, that I recommend to everyone. (★★★★★)
Started: Mar 03 2023 Finished: Mar 19 2023
System Design Interview – An insider's guide cover
System Design Interview – An insider's guide
by Alex Xu
My review: The system design interview is considered to be the most complex and most difficult technical job interview by many. Those questions are often intimidating, and always open-ended. This book is perfect to prepare systematically. The book provides an insider's take on what interviewers really look for and why. It describes a 4-step framework for solving any system design interview question, and goes through 16 real system design interview questions with detailed solutions.
A great book, I strongly recommend it to all software engineers. (★★★★★)
Started: Feb 01 2023 Finished: Mar 14 2023
Neom cover
Neom
by Lavie Tidhar (2022)
My review: I have previously read and enjoyed books by this author, and I was looking forward to reading this book when I heard of it.
The city known as Neom is many things to many beings, human or otherwise. Neom is a tech wonderland for the rich and beautiful; an urban sprawl along the Red Sea; and a port of call between Earth and the stars. In the desert, young orphan Saleh has joined a caravan, hoping to earn his passage off-world from Central Station. But the desert is full of mechanical artefacts, some unexplained and some unexploded. Recently, a wry, unnamed robot has unearthed one of the region’s biggest mysteries: the vestiges of a golden man. In Neom, childhood affection is rekindling between loyal shurta-officer Nasir and hardworking flower-seller Mariam. But Nasu, a deadly terrorartist, has come to the city with missing memories and unfinished business. Just one robot can change a city’s destiny with a single rose—especially when that robot is in search of lost love. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 26 2023 Finished: Mar 04 2023
Ezra's Gamble cover
Ezra's Gamble
by Ryder Windham (2014)
My review: I am fond of the Star Wars fictional universe: I have a nostalgic attachment to it, and despite some drops in quality along the way (e.g. The Phantom Menace), recent installments like Rogue One, The Force Awakens, and The Last Jedi were even better than the original series. Because of this fondness, I started reading some of Star Wars books during my commute or doing some chores. The quality is not always great, but they are usually at least enjoyable.
This is the story of fourteen year-old Ezra Bridger. He lives alone on the Outer Rim planet of Lothal. He fends for himself by picking up odd jobs and hustling unsuspecting stormtroopers. But when Arena Day arrives, an underground tournament where mighty beasts battle to the finish and all the swindlers, gamblers, and no-gooders come to make a profit, Ezra is whisked into an unlikely partnership with the fearsome bounty hunter Bossk. He find himself ensnared in a high-stakes chase against an endless fleet of troopers. Ezra isn't willing to trust anyone, but he soon learns that surviving doesn't always mean just fending for himself.
It is a cute prequel to the animated series Star Wars Rebels that I have not seen yet. I was definitely not part of its target audience, it is intended for very young readers, and that clearly limited its enjoyability. (★★)
Started: Feb 25 2023 Finished: Mar 03 2023
Remote Control cover
Remote Control
by Nnedi Okorafor (2021)
My review: I previously read and loved other books by this author, and I was looking forward reading this new novella. While it's not as good as Who Fears Death, it is quite good.
The story is set in a future Ghana and revolves around a very young orphan, Fatima.The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From hereon in she would be known as Sankofa­­, a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past.
Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks alone, except for her fox companion, searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers. But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion? (★★★★)
Started: Feb 23 2023 Finished: Feb 26 2023
Babel cover
Babel
by R.F. Kuang (2022)
My review: This book has won many awards and tons of people were recommending it hence I decided to give it a try... and I did not regret the choice. This is one of the best book I have read in a long while. The book is hard to define: it is an alternative history book, where fictional historical facts echo real historical events and help us understand them. It's fiction, yet it's also historical fiction.
Babel is set in 1828. The main character is Robin Swift, an orphan by cholera in Canton, brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation, also known as Babel. The tower and its students are the world's center for translation and, more importantly, magic. Silver-working, the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation using enchanted silver bars, has made the British unparalleled in power, as the arcane craft serves the Empire's quest for colonization.
For Robin, Oxford is a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge obeys power, and as a Chinese boy raised in Britain, Robin realizes serving Babel means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress, Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to stopping imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide: can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence?
I strongly recommend this book to everyone. (★★★★★)
Started: Jan 07 2023 Finished: Feb 24 2023
Into the Riverlands (The Singing Hills Cycle, #3) cover
Into the Riverlands (The Singing Hills Cycle, #3)
by Nghi Vo
My review: I had read and enjoyed the previous instalments of the Singing Hills series, so I was quite eager to read this.
in Into the Riverlands wandering cleric Chih of the Singing Hills travels to the riverlands to record tales of the notorious near-immortal martial artists who haunt the region. On the road to Betony Docks, they fall in with a pair of young women far from home, and an older couple who are more than they seem. As Chih runs headlong into an ancient feud, they find themselves far more entangled in the history of the riverlands than they ever expected to be. Accompanied by Almost Brilliant, a talking bird with an indelible memory, Chih confronts old legends and new dangers alike as they learn that every story, beautiful, ugly, kind, or cruel, bears more than one face.
A very enjoyable book, I am hoping there will be more. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 19 2023 Finished: Feb 22 2023
Defekt (LitenVerse, #2) cover
Defekt (LitenVerse, #2)
by Nino Cipri (2021)
My review: I have previously read the previous installment of the LitenVerse series (Finna) and while it was original, funny, and interesting, I was not sure I wanted to read more of the series... but I decided to give it a try and... I actually loved it!
Defekt can be read pretty much as a stand-alone story, set in the same universe (store) of Finna, but with a different cast of characters.
This is the story of Derek, LitenVärld's most loyal employee. He lives and breathes the job, from the moment he wakes up in a converted shipping container at the edge of the parking lot to the second he clocks out of work 18 hours later. But after taking his first ever sick day, his manager calls that loyalty into question. An excellent employee like Derek, an employee made to work at LitenVärld, shouldn't need time off. To test his commitment to the job, Derek is assigned to a special inventory shift, hunting through the store to find defective products. Toy chests with pincers and eye stalks, ambulatory sleeper sofas, killer mutant toilets, that kind of thing. Helping him is the inventory team... four strangers who look and sound almost exactly like him! Are five Dereks better than one?
This is an hilarious and witty take on capitalism and corporations... if you are looking for something to make you smile or laugh, this could be a good book for you. (★★★★★)
Started: Feb 14 2023 Finished: Feb 19 2023
Sea of Tranquility cover
Sea of Tranquility
by Emily St. John Mandel (2022)
My review: A few years ago I read Station Eleven. I liked it, but... I was not crazy about the ending. I was not planning to read more by this author but a good friend recommended Sea of Tranquillity to me, so I decided to give the author another try. I was NOT disappointed. I *really* liked this book. The narrative structure reminded me of Cloud Atlas and How High We Go in the Dark (I loved both of them), and it's very hard to put down.
This is a novel of art, time travel, love, and plague that takes the reader from Vancouver Island in 1912 to a dark colony on the moon five hundred years later, unfurling a story of humanity across centuries and space.
Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal--an experience that shocks him to his core.
Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She's traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty. Within the text of Olive's best-selling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.
When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended: The exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.
A virtuoso performance that is as human and tender as it is intellectually playful, Sea of Tranquility is a novel of time travel and metaphysics that precisely captures the reality of our current moment. (★★★★★)
Started: Feb 08 2023 Finished: Feb 13 2023
Lost in the Moment and Found (Wayward Children, #8) cover
Lost in the Moment and Found (Wayward Children, #8)
by Seanan McGuire (2023)
My review: I have read and enjoyed the previous instalments of the Wayward Children series, and I was looking forward reading this latest instalment. The latest instalment, Where the Drowned Girls Go, had set up the stage for a big final battle between the Whitethorn Institute and Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, and I as expecting this book to focus on that. Instead it is a a stand-alone novel focusing on one of the residents in the Home for Wayward Children, Antionette. Yes, in this book we learn how she ended up living with Eleanor West, but the book is NOT one of those boring "prequel" books with no interesting content that some author write to milk their successful story. This is a remarkable book in itself, more dark than average for this series, focusing on very difficult themes like grooming, gaslighting, manipulation of adult/child dynamics, etc.
The book takes us into the Shop Where the Lost Things Go. If you ever lost a sock, you’ll find it here. If you ever wondered about favorite toy from childhood... it’s probably sitting on a shelf in the back. And the headphones that you swore that this time you’d keep safe? You guessed it…
Antoinette has lost her father. Metaphorically. He’s not in the shop, and she’ll never see him again. But when Antsy finds herself lost (literally, this time), she finds that however many doors open for her, leaving the Shop for good might not be as simple as it sounds. And stepping through those doors exacts a price. Lost in the Moment and Found tells us that childhood and innocence, once lost, can never be found.
Seanan McGuire never disappoints, I am looking forward the next instalment of the series. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 30 2023 Finished: Feb 07 2023
How High We Go in the Dark cover
How High We Go in the Dark
by Sequoia Nagamatsu
My review: This book was nominated and won numerous literary awards that made me want to read the book. I propose the book to my work book club, and my coworkers were as intrigued as I was, so we ended up picking it.
The book follows a cast of intricately linked characters over hundreds of years as humanity struggles to rebuild itself in the aftermath of a climate plague. This is a daring and deeply heartfelt work of imagination from a singular new voice. Beginning in 2030, a grieving archeologist arrives in the Arctic Circle to continue the work of his recently deceased daughter at the Batagaika crater, where researchers are studying long-buried secrets now revealed in melting permafrost, including the perfectly preserved remains of a girl who appears to have died of an ancient virus. Once unleashed, the Arctic Plague will reshape life on earth for generations to come, quickly traversing the globe, forcing humanity to devise a myriad of moving and inventive ways to embrace possibility in the face of tragedy.
Each chapter focuses on a different cast, always linked in often surprising ways to the characters of the previous chapters. Some of the chapters have quite far fetched premises, but I soon realized it did not matter: the character development and exploration was so incredibly well done that you end up ignoring "death roller coasters for terminally ill children" and "talking pigs". Yes the premises will challenge your suspension of disbelief, but the experiences of this characters feels so real, so relatable, so moving.
From funerary skyscrapers to hotels for the dead to interstellar starships, Sequoia Nagamatsu takes readers on a wildly original and compassionate journey, spanning continents, centuries, and even celestial bodies to tell a story about the resiliency of the human spirit, our infinite capacity to dream, and the connective threads that tie us all together in the universe.
Reviewers compare this book to Cloud Atlas and Station Eleven. The narrative structure is similar to the former, but while in Cloud Atlas it made the book a little harder to read, in here it does not. This book is much more accessible and easier to read than Cloud Atlas. To be clear, Cloud Atlas is one of my favorite books, but it's not an easy reading. The similarities with Station Eleven are a little thinner in my opinion: the settings and the character focus is similar, but the similarities ends there.
One of the best books I read in a while. It does have its flaws, but its strengths make those flows irrelevant and hard to notice. I am definitely looking forward to reading more books by this author. (★★★★★)
Started: Jan 17 2023 Finished: Jan 30 2023
Nightcrawling cover
Nightcrawling
by Leila Mottley
My review: When the book club at work I lead selected this book I was quite curious. I have heard that it was quite good, and it is set in the town I live, so I was quite intrigued. I became even more interested when I learned that it was inspired by a true story.
Kiara and her brother, Marcus, are scraping by in an East Oakland apartment complex optimistically called the Regal-Hi. Both have dropped out of high school, their family fractured by death and prison. But while Marcus clings to his dream of rap stardom, Kiara hunts for work to pay their rent--which has more than doubled--and to keep the nine-year-old boy next door, abandoned by his mother, safe and fed. One night, what begins as a drunken misunderstanding with a stranger turns into the job Kiara never imagined wanting but now desperately needs: nightcrawling. Her world breaks open even further when her name surfaces in an investigation that exposes her as a key witness in a massive scandal within the Oakland Police Department.
The book is masterfully written and shed lights to topics and situations that are never discussed enough. I do recommend it to everyone, especially if you live in the USA. (★★★★★)
Started: Jan 01 2023 Finished: Jan 16 2023
Gender Queer cover
Gender Queer
by Maia Kobabe
My review: I read this book as part of Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It brings together the entire book community (librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types) in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.
For the past few years I have been participating to the event reading some of the most challenged books in the previous year.
In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia's intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.
I found the book to be quite enlightening, it is rare to read something written by an agender and asexual person about the way e sees the world. It is very honest, easy to connect with, and strongly recommended to anyone. (★★★★★)
Started: Jan 14 2023 Finished: Jan 15 2023
A Mirror Mended (Fractured Fables, #2) cover
A Mirror Mended (Fractured Fables, #2)
by Alix E. Harrow
My review: I previously read and liked quite a lot the previous instalment of the Fractured Fables series, A Spindle Splintered, hence I was quite eager to read its sequel. It was even better than the first one!
This is again the story of Zinnia Gray, professional fairy-tale fixer and lapsed Sleeping Beauty. After the events covered by the previous book in the series, she is over rescuing snoring princesses. Once you’ve rescued a dozen damsels and burned fifty spindles, once you’ve gotten drunk with twenty good fairies and made out with one too many members of the royal family, you start to wish some of these girls would just get a grip and try solving their own narrative issues.
Just when Zinnia’s beginning to think she can't handle one more princess, she glances into a mirror and sees another face looking back at her: the shockingly gorgeous face of evil, asking for her help. Because there’s more than one person trapped in a story they didn’t choose. Snow White's Evil Queen has found out how her story ends, and she's desperate for a better ending. She wants Zinnia to help her before it’s too late for everyone. Will Zinnia accept the Queen's poisonous request and save them both from the hot-iron shoes that wait for them, or will she try another path?
Strongly recommended to everyone (but please read A Spindle Splintered first!). (★★★★★)
Started: Jan 01 2023 Finished: Jan 06 2023