Reading is one of my favorite hobbies. This page lists all the books that I have finished reading in 2020.
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Cibola Burn (The Expanse, #4) cover
Currently Reading
Cibola Burn (The Expanse, #4)

by James S.A. Corey (2014)
Publisher review: The fourth novel in James S.A. Corey’s New York Times bestselling Expanse series The gates have opened the way to thousands of habitable planets, and the land rush has begun. Settlers stream out from humanity's home planets in a vast, poorly controlled flood, landing on a new world. Among them, the Rocinante, haunted by the vast, posthuman network of the protomolecule as they investigate what destroyed the great intergalactic society that built the gates and the protomolecule. But Holden and his crew must also contend with the growing tensions between the settlers and the company which owns the official claim to the planet. Both sides will stop at nothing to defend what's theirs, but soon a terrible disease strikes and only Holden - with help from the ghostly Detective Miller - can find the cure.
Started: Mar 21 2020
The Stand cover
Currently Reading
The Stand

by Stephen King (2008)
Publisher review: This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death. And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the Dark Man.
Started: Mar 16 2020
The Churn (Expanse, #0.2) cover
The Churn (Expanse, #0.2)
by James S.A. Corey (2014)
My review: I enjoyed the books of the expanse series so far, and I was looking forward reading more of it. The Churn is set on Earth, in Baltimore, now a slum. Most citizens live on basic government assistance, but some have used criminal enterprise to rise above that level of existence. In the shady underbelly of organized crime, a young man named Timmy takes a job with a boss named Burton. He may have a future in the family, but he might not have what it takes to follow the most unpleasant of orders...
The Churn give a glimpse of what life on The Expanse's Earth is. A nice touch of word building and interesting back story. (★★★★)
Started: Mar 17 2020 Finished: Mar 20 2020
Lightspeed Magazine, June 2014: Women Destroy Science Fiction! Special Issue cover
Lightspeed Magazine, June 2014: Women Destroy Science Fiction! Special Issue
by Christie Yant (2014)
My review: Lightspeed is a very well-known science fiction and fantasy magazine. Even in science fiction, 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 sci-fi and women. While sci-fi is considered by many the more open of the literary genres, heterosexual men are considered the default, to the extent that everything else is "deviation," and must be eyed with suspicion. But all science fiction is real science fiction. Science fiction is vast, and incredible fascinating in all its facets. It is inclusive. Science fiction is about people, and women are part of the genre. They always have been. It could even be said that women invented science fiction; after all, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is considered by many to be the first science fiction novel. Yet some readers seem to have this funny idea that women don't, or can't, write science fiction. Some have even gone so far as to accuse women of destroying science fiction with their girl cooties. So to help prove how silly that notion is, Women Destroy Science Fiction! showcase the richness and variety of women science fiction writers contributions. The issue features original fiction by Seanan McGuire, Charlie Jane Anders, N.K. Jemisin, Carrie Vaughn, Maria Dahvana Headley, Amal El-Mohtar, and many more. All together there's more than 180,000 words of material, including: 11 original short stories, 15 original flash fiction stories, 4 short story reprints and a novella reprint, 7 nonfiction articles, and 28 personal essays by women about their experiences reading and writing science fiction. They are just sometimes harder to see.
This is a great and important initiative, a very enjoyable and interesting read. I am looking forward reading the next "destroy" issue! (★★★★★)
Started: Feb 07 2020 Finished: Mar 15 2020
Tarkin: Star Wars cover
Tarkin: Star Wars
by James Luceno (2015)
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. The quality is not always great, but they are usually at least enjoyable.
I had previously read another Star Wars books by the same author (Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel) and I did not like it at all. Because of it, I was hesitant to read this one, that turned out to be quite enjoyable instead.
The book focuses on one of the most intriguing figures of the original trilogy: Moth Tarkin. Tarkin, the scion of an honorable and revered family, a dedicated soldier and distinguished legislator, is a loyal proponent of the Republic and trusted ally of the Jedi Order. Groomed by the ruthless politician and Sith Lord who would be Emperor, Governor Wilhuff Tarkin rises through the Imperial ranks, enforcing his authority ever more mercilessly... and zealously pursuing his destiny as the architect of absolute dominion.
Rule through the fear of force rather than force itself, he advises his Emperor. Under Tarkin's guidance, an ultimate weapon of unparalleled destruction moves ever closer to becoming a terrifying reality. When the so called Death Star is completed, Tarkin is confident that the galaxy's lingering pockets of Separatist rebellion will be brought to heel by intimidation . . . or annihilation.
Until then, however, insurgency remains a genuine threat. Escalating guerrilla attacks by resistance forces and newfound evidence of a growing Separatist conspiracy are an immediate danger the Empire must meet with swift and brutal action. And to bring down a band of elusive freedom fighters, the Emperor turns to his most formidable agents: Darth Vader, the fearsome new Sith enforcer as remorseless as he is mysterious; and Tarkin, whose tactical cunning and cold-blooded efficiency will pave the way for the Empire’s supremacy... and its enemies' extinction. (★★★)
Started: Feb 20 2020 Finished: Mar 15 2020
Phasma (Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, #2) cover
Phasma (Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, #2)
by Delilah S. Dawson (2017)
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. The quality is not always great, but they are usually at least enjoyable.
I had previously read and enjoyed other Star Wars books by the same author that I liked, including Black Spire that is the sequel of this book (I did not realize at the time it was not a stand alone book). I enjoyed it enough to decide to read the Phasma afterwards (even if Black Spire spoiled part of it). And what a treat! Phasma is one of the best Star Wars books I have read so far. It is not only entertaining, it also has a original narrative structure (two different narrative threads woven within each other, one set to the present, and one in the past, slowly converging in the final chapter).
One of the most cunning and merciless officers of the First Order, Captain Phasma commands the favor of her superiors, the respect of her peers, and the terror of her enemies. But for all her renown, Phasma remains as virtually unknown as the impassive expression on her gleaming chrome helmet. Now, an adversary is bent on unearthing her mysterious origins, and exposing a secret she guards as zealously and ruthlessly as she serves her masters.
Started: Jan 31 2020 Finished: Feb 19 2020
The Orphans of Raspay (Penric and Desdemona, #7) cover
The Orphans of Raspay (Penric and Desdemona, #7)
by Lois McMaster Bujold
My review: I have grown fond of the Penric and Desdemona series, and I particularly liked Nikys' story arc started in Penric’s Mission. I was looking forward reading this latest installment. The story is definitely entertaining, but not one of the best in the series. It was strange to realize how Penric has grown and aged from the first novella to the latest one... somehow making it feel more real.
In The orphans of Raspay Temple sorcerer Penric and his resident demon Desdemona are captured by Carpagamon island raiders while traveling by boat. They find their life complicated by two young orphans, Lencia and Seuka Corva, far from home and searching for their missing father. Pen and Des will need all their combined talents of mind and magic to unravel the mysteries of the sisters and escape from the pirate stronghold. (★★★)
Started: Feb 01 2020 Finished: Feb 06 2020
Clarkesworld Magazine Issue 160 cover
Clarkesworld Magazine Issue 160
by Neil Clarke
My review: I have a small group of friends that share similar taste in books. We often discuss books and once in a while, when one of us discover a great book, we share recommendations with each others. Last month one of them sent a link to this story, telling us how good it was. I was very busy with work and I could not jump on it right away, but one after the other, each friend that read it started commenting how good it was. I confess I initially recoiled when I saw the title (that employs a common transphobic meme), but I was reassured that the author actually own the meme and turned it on its head. This said a big controversy erupted around this story: some people read it as transphobic trolling, while other read it as an attempt to reclaim and own a transphobic meme on its head. It may sound strange, but I do see how people can perceive the same story in such opposite ways, since the author is subtle in messaging the moral of the story. I am really sorry that after working so hard, the author ended up requesting the story to be unpublished, and I am really sorry that people got hurt by the discussion around this story. I hope the controversy did not scared her away from writing, because Isabel is incredibly talented, and I really hope to read more from her. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 18 2020 Finished: Feb 01 2020
Lincoln in the Bardo cover
Lincoln in the Bardo
by George Saunders (2017)
My review: I read many good reviews of this book, and I have been wanting to read it for a while, and I was quite happy when my book club selected it. It was definitely different from what I expected, definitely groundbreaking in its unusual narrative style, but definitely a pleasure to read and very interesting.
The story unfolds in a graveyard over the course of a single night, narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices, Lincoln in the Bardo is a literary experience unlike any other. It's February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln's beloved eleven year old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. "My poor boy, he was too good for this earth", the president says at the time. "God has called him home". Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returned to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy's body. From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a thrilling, supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory, where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state (called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo) a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie's soul. Lincoln in the Bardo is an astonishing feat of imagination and a bold step forward from one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Formally daring, generous in spirit, deeply concerned with matters of the heart, it is a testament to fiction's ability to speak honestly and powerfully to the things that really matter to us. Saunders has invented a thrilling new form that deploys a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices, living and dead, historical and invented, to ask a timeless, profound question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end? (★★★★)
Started: Jan 21 2020 Finished: Jan 31 2020
The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography cover
The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography
by Simon Singh (2000)
My review: I am apparently one of the few computer scientist / math and science enthusiast that had not heard of this book before. My book club was reading it, and I was expecting a quite boring treatise on cryptography. Cryptography is a field that I enjoyed as a kid and then as a formal field of study in college, but I expected a quite heavy textbook like tome... how I was wrong! This is a (surprisingly) very entertaining and hard to put down book, explaining the role of cryptography in history and explaining the most complex and convoluted ciphers in a easy to understand way. I am glad to have read it, and I am considering looking into the other books by this author.
In this book Simon Singh offers the first sweeping history of encryption, tracing its evolution and revealing the dramatic effects codes have had on wars, nations, and individual lives. From Mary, Queen of Scots, trapped by her own code, to the Navajo Code Talkers who helped the Allies win World War II, to the incredible (and incredibly simple) logistical breakthrough that made Internet commerce secure, The Code Book tells the story of the most powerful intellectual weapon ever known: secrecy. Throughout the text are clear technical and mathematical explanations, and portraits of the remarkable personalities who wrote and broke the world’s most difficult codes. Accessible, compelling, and remarkably far-reaching, this book will forever alter your view of history and what drives it. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 14 2020 Finished: Jan 30 2020
Black Spire (Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, #2) cover
Black Spire (Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, #2)
by Delilah S. Dawson (2019)
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. The quality is not always that great, but they are almost always enjoyable.
I had previously read and enjoyed another Star Wars book by the same author (The Perfect Weapon), hence I was looking forward reading this one. I was not disappointed, I just wished it was made clear to me that this is a sequel of Phasma: I would have loved to have read that book before.
This book is set after the Last Jedi: after devastating losses at the hands of the First Order, General Leia Organa has dispatched her agents across the galaxy in search of allies, sanctuary, and firepower and her top spy, Vi Moradi, may have just found all three, on a secluded world at the galaxy's edge. A planet of lush forests, precarious mountains, and towering, petrified trees, Batuu is on the furthest possible frontier of the galactic map, the last settled world before the mysterious expanse of Wild Space. The rogues, smugglers, and adventurers who eke out a living on the largest settlement on the planet, Black Spire Outpost, are here to avoid prying eyes and unnecessary complications. Vi, a Resistance spy on the run from the First Order, is hardly a welcome guest. And when a shuttle full of stormtroopers lands in her wake, determined to root her out, she has no idea where to find help. To survive, Vi will have to seek out the good-hearted heroes hiding in a world that redefines scum and villainy. With the help of a traitorous trooper and her acerbic droid, she begins to gather a colorful band of outcasts and misfits, and embarks on a mission to spark the fire of resistance on Batuu... before the First Order snuffs it out entirely. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 28 2019 Finished: Jan 20 2020
The Green Glass Sea cover
The Green Glass Sea
by Ellen Klages (2008)
My review: Ellen Klages is the author of one of my favorite books, Passing Strange, so I was quite excited to learn she was going to speak at a local bookstore. It was very fascinating to learn about all the historical research the author did to write the book. While there I decided to also buy another one of her book with similar historical grounding. I finally got to read it... and what a treat it was!
The book is set in 1943. An eleven-year-old Dewey Kerrigan is en route to New Mexico to live with her mathematician father. Soon she arrives at a town that, officially, doesn't exist. It is called Los Alamos, and it is abuzz with activity, as scientists and mathematicians from all over America and Europe work on the biggest secret of all... "the gadget." None of them, not J. Robert Oppenheimer, the director of the Manhattan Project; not the mathematicians and scientists; and least of all, Dewey, know how much "the gadget" is about to change their lives.
A fascinating YA novel exploring the life of the young kids living in the Los Alamos secret facility where the Nuclear Bomb was invented. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 30 2019 Finished: Jan 14 2020