Reading is one of my favorite hobbies. This page lists all the books that I have finished reading in 2022.
This page is built leveraging the goodreads API.
The Boy on the Bridge (The Girl With All the Gifts, #2) cover
Currently Reading
The Boy on the Bridge (The Girl With All the Gifts, #2)

by M.R. Carey (2017)
Publisher review: Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy. The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world. To where the monsters lived.
Started: Nov 25 2022
The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World cover
Currently Reading
The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World

by David Deutsch (2011)
Publisher review: The New York Times bestseller: A provocative, imaginative exploration of the nature and progress of knowledge In this groundbreaking book, award-winning physicist David Deutsch argues that explanations have a fundamental place in the universe—and that improving them is the basic regulating principle of all successful human endeavor. Taking us on a journey through every fundamental field of science, as well as the history of civilization, art, moral values, and the theory of political institutions, Deutsch tracks how we form new explanations and drop bad ones, explaining the conditions under which progress—which he argues is potentially boundless—can and cannot happen. Hugely ambitious and highly original, The Beginning of Infinity explores and establishes deep connections between the laws of nature, the human condition, knowledge, and the possibility for progress.
Started: Oct 20 2022
Where the Drowned Girls Go (Wayward Children, #7) cover
Where the Drowned Girls Go (Wayward Children, #7)
by Seanan McGuire (2022)
Publisher review: Welcome to the Whitethorn Institute. The first step is always admitting you need help, and you've already taken that step by requesting a transfer into our company. There is another school for children who fall through doors and fall back out again. It isn't as friendly as Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children. And it isn't as safe. When Eleanor West decided to open her school, her sanctuary, her Home for Wayward Children, she knew from the beginning that there would be children she couldn't save; when Cora decides she needs a different direction, a different fate, a different prophecy, Miss West reluctantly agrees to transfer her to the other school, where things are run very differently by Whitethorn, the Headmaster. She will soon discover that not all doors are welcoming...
My rating: ★★★★
Started: Nov 19 2022 Finished: Nov 25 2022
Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World (Aristotle and Dante, #2) cover
Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World (Aristotle and Dante, #2)
by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (2021)
My review: I had previously read and loved Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, so when I learned there was a sequel... I could not resist reading it.
In the first book, two boys in a border town fell in love. Now, they must discover what it means to stay in love and build a relationship in a world that seems to challenge their very existence. Ari has spent all of high school burying who he really is, staying silent and invisible. He expected his senior year to be the same. But something in him cracked open when he fell in love with Dante, and he can’t go back. Suddenly he finds himself reaching out to new friends, standing up to bullies of all kinds, and making his voice heard. And, always, there is Dante, dreamy, witty Dante, who can get on Ari’s nerves and fill him with desire all at once. The boys are determined to forge a path for themselves in a world that doesn’t understand them. But when Ari is faced with a shocking loss, he’ll have to fight like never before to create a life that is truthfully, joyfully his own.
I really enjoyed the book, even if I found it way less interesting than the first book. The plot here is much much weaker, and big part of the enjoyment comes from meeting again the characters that we loved so much. I particularly appreciated the representation of the historical events of the time in the background, and some of the personal interactions between the various characters. (★★★★)
Started: Nov 01 2022 Finished: Nov 18 2022
The Hidden Girl and Other Stories cover
The Hidden Girl and Other Stories
by Ken Liu (2021)
My review: I had read and really liked some short stories by this author and I was quite eager to read some more.
This book collects a lot of recent fiction by this author, written between 2015 and 2021, ranging from fantasy to science fiction. Almost all the stories are stand alone, but there are a few that are interconnected, one being the sequel of the other, or set in the same or very similar fictional world.
I particularly enjoyed stories that reflect on the meaning of life and what it means to be uploaded and transcend biological life into a simulated silicon one.
It was overall a good collection, and I am looking forward reading more by this author in the future. (★★★★)
Started: Sep 06 2022 Finished: Nov 01 2022
An Unnatural Life cover
An Unnatural Life
by Erin K. Wagner (2020)
My review: I got this book for free from tor.com, a publisher with a long history of award worthy publications, hence I decided to gite it a try. I was not disappointed.
This is the story of the cybernetic organism known as 812-3. He is in prison, convicted of murdering a human worker but he claims that he did not do it. With the evidence stacked against him, his lawyer, Aiya Ritsehrer, must determine grounds for an appeal and uncover the true facts of the case. But with artificial life-forms having only recently been awarded legal rights on Earth, the military complex on Europa is resistant to the implementation of these same rights on the Jovian moon. Aiya must battle against her own prejudices and that of her new paymasters, to secure a fair trial for her charge, while navigating her own interpersonal drama, before it's too late. (★★★★)
Started: Oct 16 2022 Finished: Oct 20 2022
Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals cover
Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals
by Oliver Burkeman (2021)
My review: I was a little weary about reading what it looked like another self-help book on time management. I expected another book that promised magic techniques to accomplish more with the limited time we have each day... and that's not what this is. I am glad my book club picked it. It's a book I strongly recommend to everyone, and that I'll likely end up re-reading again in the future.
The book starts with making what should be a quite obvious point: the average human lifespan is absurdly, insultingly brief. Assuming you live to be eighty, you have just over four thousand weeks. Nobody needs telling there isn’t enough time. We’re obsessed with our lengthening to-do lists, our overfilled inboxes, work-life balance, and the ceaseless battle against distraction; and we’re deluged with advice on becoming more productive and efficient, and “life hacks” to optimize our days. But such techniques often end up making things worse. The sense of anxious hurry grows more intense, and still the most meaningful parts of life seem to lie just beyond the horizon. Still, we rarely make the connection between our daily struggles with time and the ultimate time management problem: the challenge of how best to use our four thousand weeks. Drawing on the insights of both ancient and contemporary philosophers, psychologists, and spiritual teachers, Oliver Burkeman delivers an entertaining, humorous, practical, and ultimately profound guide to time and time management. Rejecting the futile modern fixation on “getting everything done,” Four Thousand Weeks introduces readers to tools for constructing a meaningful life by embracing finitude, showing how many of the unhelpful ways we’ve come to think about time aren’t inescapable, unchanging truths, but choices we’ve made as individuals and as a society—and that we could do things differently. (★★★★★)
Started: Oct 09 2022 Finished: Oct 20 2022
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo cover
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid (2017)
My review: I had never read anything by this author and I confess that I would have never picked it up if it was not picked by my book club. I am glad it was picked because it is quite good, and very different from what I expected. I was expecting a boring and sappy love story set in highly fictionalized hollywood. Instead I got a rich and intriguing portrait of a well rounded character (the actress Evelyn Hugo) that while fictional is inspired by real actresses of the time. This is a remarkably good book.
The book premise is the following: aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career. Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways. (★★★★)
Started: Sep 19 2022 Finished: Oct 11 2022
Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold (Stephen Fry's Great Mythology, #1) cover
Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold (Stephen Fry's Great Mythology, #1)
by Stephen Fry (2017)
My review: I have never read anything by this author, so when my book club picked this I did not know what to expect. I thought I knew ancient Greek myths quite well already so I was concerned this may turn out to be boring... it turns out I was wrong: I did not know much about Greek mythos and this was quite enjoyable to read!
Mythos is a modern collection of Greek myths, stylishly retold by legendary writer, actor, and comedian Stephen Fry. Fry transforms the adventures of Zeus and the Olympians into emotionally resonant and deeply funny stories, without losing any of their original wonder. Each adventure is infused with Fry's distinctive wit, voice, and writing style. Connoisseurs of the Greek myths will appreciate this fresh-yet-reverential interpretation, while newcomers will feel welcome. Retellings brim with humor and emotion and offer rich cultural context celebrating the thrills, grandeur, and unabashed fun of the Greek myths, Mythos breathes life into ancient tales—from Pandora's box to Prometheus's fire. (★★★★)
Started: Sep 22 2022 Finished: Oct 08 2022
A Prayer for the Crown-Shy (Monk & Robot, #2) cover
A Prayer for the Crown-Shy (Monk & Robot, #2)
by Becky Chambers (2022)
My review: I really like this author, and the Wayfarers series is one of my favorite series. I did not love the previous instalment of the Monk & Robot series as much as the Wayfarers' books, but still it's Becky Chambers, so you know it will be at least good if not more.
In A Prayer for the Crown-Shy Sibling Dex (a Tea Monk of some renown) and Mosscap (a robot sent on a quest to determine what humanity really needs) after touring the rural areas of Panga, turn their attention to the villages and cities of the little moon they call home. They hope to find the answers they seek, while making new friends, learning new concepts, and experiencing the entropic nature of the universe.
Becky Chambers's new series continues to ask: in a world where people have what they want, does having more even matter? They're going to need to ask it a lot. (★★★)
Started: Sep 12 2022 Finished: Sep 18 2022
L'Esprit de L'Escalier cover
L'Esprit de L'Escalier
by Catherynne M. Valente (2021)
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 am familiar with the author and I was curious to read more by her.
This is a retelling of an Greek myth: Orpheus, the musician son of Apollo and Calliope that can move stones by the power of his music, attempt to rescue his dead wife. In the original myth, he fails. In this story he does successfully rescue his wife Eurydice from Hades after her untimely death. The story focuses on what come next... and it's not as idyllic as one may want to believe at first.
A good story, and a very interesting portrait of relationships and marriage. (★★★)
Started: Sep 09 2022 Finished: Sep 12 2022
Tangles cover
Tangles
by Seanan McGuire (2021)
My review: This review is for Tangles by Seanan McGuire.
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 previously read (and loved) many stories by this author. In particular a few years ago I read Middlegame, that I thoroughly enjoyed. As a result I was quite eager to read this piece of work... but I was disappointed. Do not get me wrong, it's not a bad story, it's just nothing special, there is nothing to set it apart or particularly remarkable. I am not clear how it ended up in the list of finalists for this year Hugo Awards. I wonder if I am missing something. I wonder if my lack of familiarity with the characters and world of Magic The Gathering this story is set in prevents me from fully understanding and enjoying the story. Either way this author is great, but do not start from here if you want to read some of her work. (★★)
Started: Sep 07 2022 Finished: Sep 08 2022
Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather cover
Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather
by Sarah Pinsker (2021)
My review: This review is for Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather by Sarah Pinsker.
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 had previously enjoyed storied by this author, so I was looking forward reading this one.
This is a very interesting work of fiction, that uses the same technique used in Sarah Gailey's STET: it is written as a very heavily annotated text, and all the real content is in the footnotes instead of the text. While in STET Gailey's annotates the text with footnotes quoting fictional papers, Pinsker uses comments from fictional internet users. The text here is a fictional and famous old ballad, the comments are fictional internet discussions that analyze it and attempt to find its origin.
This is a great piece of work, original and enjoyable. I am not surprised it won the Hugo awards for best short story. It deserves it. (★★★★★)
Started: Sep 08 2022 Finished: Sep 08 2022
Mr. Death cover
Mr. Death
by Alix E. Harrow (2021)
My review: This review is for Mr Death by Alix E. Harrow.
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 previously read (and loved) a few stories by this author, and I was eager to read more.
The story follows the life of one of the grim reapers, contracted to accompany the souls of the dead ones across the river. The 222nd soul proves to be much much harder to handle that expected.
A very cute story, but it's not my favorite by this author. (★★★)
Started: Sep 07 2022 Finished: Sep 07 2022
Nightmare Magazine 49: October 2016. People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror! Special Issue cover
Nightmare Magazine 49: October 2016. People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror! Special Issue
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
My review: Lightspeed destroy is an annual initiative focusing on the writings of traditionally underrepresented minorities. The People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror! special issue exists to relieve a brokenness in the genre that's been enabled time and time again by favoring certain voices and portrayals of particular characters. It brings forth a very diverse set of talented authors, some very well-established, and other very new from around the globe to present fantasy that explores the nuances of culture, race, and history. People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror! is 100% written and edited by people of color. It features four original, never-before-published short stories, plus four classic reprints. It also includes an array of nonfiction articles, interviews, and personal essays from people of colo(u)r discussing their experiences as readers and writers of horror.
I particularly liked Monstro by Junot Diaz (I will definitely read more of his work soon) and Wet Pain by Terence Taylor.
(★★★★)
Started: Sep 02 2022 Finished: Sep 06 2022
Proof by Induction cover
Proof by Induction
by José Pablo Iriarte (2021)
My review: This review is for Proof by Induction by José Pablo Iriarte.
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 previously read (and loved) a short story by this author, and I was eager to read more.
The story is set in a near future where doctors are able to capture the neural state of people that are passing. This is intended to take care of practical things like "who did you have a life insurance with" and "how would you like to be buried"... but Paulie, a mathematics professor on a tenure track, it becomes something more. A chance to save his tenure and possibly the relationship with his dead father.
This was a good and enjoyable story, I am looking forward reading more by this author. (★★★★)
Started: Sep 06 2022 Finished: Sep 06 2022
Fantasy Magazine, Issue 60 - Dec. 2016: People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy! Special Issue cover
Fantasy Magazine, Issue 60 - Dec. 2016: People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy! Special Issue
by Daniel José Older
My review: Lightspeed destroy is an annual initiative focusing on the writings of traditionally underrepresented minorities. The People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy special issue exists to relieve a brokenness in the genre that's been enabled time and time again by favoring certain voices and portrayals of particular characters. It brings forth a very diverse set of talented authors, some very well-established, and other very new from around the globe to present fantasy that explores the nuances of culture, race, and history. People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy! is 100% written and edited by people of color. It features four original, never-before-published short stories, plus four classic reprints. It includes work by P. Djèlí Clark, N.K. Jemisin, and many others. It also includes an array of nonfiction articles, interviews, and personal essays from people of colo(u)r discussing their experiences as readers and writers of fantasy. (★★★★)
Started: Sep 02 2022 Finished: Sep 02 2022
The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (Wayfarers, #4) cover
The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (Wayfarers, #4)
by Becky Chambers (2021)
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 read and loved the previous books in the series and other work by this author, hence I was looking forward reading this.
With no water, no air, and no native life, the planet Gora is unremarkable. The only thing it has going for it is a chance proximity to more popular worlds, making it a decent stopover for ships traveling between the wormholes that keep the Galactic Commons connected. If deep space is a highway, Gora is just your average truck stop. At the Five-Hop One-Stop, long-haul spacers can stretch their legs (if they have legs, that is), and get fuel, transit permits, and assorted supplies. The Five-Hop is run by an enterprising alien and her sometimes helpful child, who work hard to provide a little piece of home to everyone passing through. When a freak technological failure halts all traffic to and from Gora, three strangers—all different species with different aims—are thrown together at the Five-Hop. Grounded, with nothing to do but wait, the trio—an exiled artist with an appointment to keep, a cargo runner at a personal crossroads, and a mysterious individual doing her best to help those on the fringes—are compelled to confront where they’ve been, where they might go, and what they are, or could be, to each other.
While there is relatively little action, the book is hard to put down. Character building and storytelling are really good as I come to expect from the author. I am looking forward reading more by her in the future. (★★★★★)
Started: Aug 14 2022 Finished: Sep 02 2022
Bots of the Lost Ark cover
Bots of the Lost Ark
by Suzanne Palmer (2021)
My review: This review is for Bots of the Lost Ark by Suzanne Palmer.
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.
This story is set in the future, in a spacecraft where humans are in induced sleep to fly across the vast distances of the universe, and everything is left to the on-board AIs and the on-board robots to take care of things... but things do not always go as planned.
This turned out to be a fun and at times even funny story, that I really enjoyed. (★★★★)
Started: Aug 14 2022 Finished: Aug 14 2022
Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age cover
Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age
by Annalee Newitz (2021)
My review: I read this book for the book club I help organize at work. It's a good, well researched, and well written book, and the author is clearly smart and original in their contributions. Still somehow I did not loved it as much as I expected it too. It did make me want to read the fiction work by this author though.
In Four Lost Cities, Annalee Newitz takes readers on an entertaining and mind-bending adventure into the deep history of urban life. Investigating across the centuries and around the world, Newitz explores the rise and fall of four ancient cities, each the center of a sophisticated civilization: the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Central Turkey, the Roman vacation town of Pompeii on Italy’s southern coast, the medieval megacity of Angkor in Cambodia, and the indigenous metropolis Cahokia, which stood beside the Mississippi River where East St. Louis is today.
Newitz travels to all four sites and investigates the cutting-edge research in archaeology, revealing the mix of environmental changes and political turmoil that doomed these ancient settlements. Tracing the early development of urban planning, Newitz also introduces us to the often anonymous workers—slaves, women, immigrants, and manual laborers—who built these cities and created monuments that lasted millennia.
Four Lost Cities is a journey into the forgotten past, but, foreseeing a future in which the majority of people on Earth will be living in cities, it may also reveal something of our own fate. (★★★)
Started: Jul 01 2022 Finished: Aug 14 2022
She Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emperor, #1) cover
She Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emperor, #1)
by Shelley Parker-Chan (2021)
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 have never read anything by this author, and I was quite intrigued about discovering something fresh and new.
In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness… In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family's eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family's clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected. When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother's identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate. After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu uses takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother's abandoned greatness.
What an amazing book! It's refreshing to read something not set on the usual Western settings. The characters are incredibly well rounded and unique, the story intriguing, the story telling really good (is this really a debut novel? the author has already honed their craft here!). One of my personal favorite to win this year awards. (★★★★★)
Started: May 04 2022 Finished: Aug 04 2022
Unknown Number cover
Unknown Number
by Blue Neustifter (2021)
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 never read anything by this author, and I was quite intrigued about discovering something fresh and new.
And fresh and new definitely was. The story is told on twitter, as a series of screenshots of a fictional conversation over SMS. I won't say more to avoid spoiling the story but it involves parallel universes and what ifs.
A clever, novel, interesting story. One of the strongest finalist in the category for this year Hugo. I am looking forward reading more by this author. (★★★★★)
A Master of Djinn (Dead Djinn Universe, #1) cover
A Master of Djinn (Dead Djinn Universe, #1)
by P. Djèlí Clark (2021)
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 have read and deeply loved quite a lot of books by this author (including books set in the same Dead Djinn Universe) and I was super eager to read this one.
The story is set in an alternative history Cairo, 1912. Though Fatma el-Sha'arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, she's certainly not a rookie, especially after preventing the destruction of the universe last summer. So when someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case. Al-Jahiz transformed the world 50 years ago when he opened up the veil between the magical and mundane realms, before vanishing into the unknown. This murderer claims to be al-Jahiz, returned to condemn the modern age for its social oppressions. His dangerous magical abilities instigate unrest in the streets of Cairo that threaten to spill over onto the global stage. Alongside her Ministry colleagues and her clever girlfriend Siti, Agent Fatma must unravel the mystery behind this imposter to restore peace to the city - or face the possibility he could be exactly who he seems.
I loved the book and I am looking forward reading more books set in this universe! (★★★★★)
Started: Jun 30 2022 Finished: Jul 27 2022
A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk & Robot, #1) cover
A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk & Robot, #1)
by Becky Chambers (2021)
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 have read and deeply loved quite a lot of books by Becky Chambers and I was super eager to read this one.
The story is set here on earth, in the future. Centuries before, robots of Panga gained self-awareness, laid down their tools, wandered, en masse into the wilderness, never to be seen again. They faded into myth and urban legend. Now the life of the tea monk who tells this story is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of "what do people need?" is answered. But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how. They will need to ask it a lot. Chambers' series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?
The book offers an interesting worldbuilding and well rounded, interesting characters. It does read as the beginning of a longer story, a conversation just started. I am looking forward reading the next instalments. (★★★★)
Started: Jun 17 2022 Finished: Jul 01 2022
Light from Uncommon Stars cover
Light from Uncommon Stars
by Ryka Aoki (2021)
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 so I did not know what to expect. The title and the (stunningly beautiful) cover do not give much away... I was in for an incredible treat. What an incredible story! On paper, it should not work - this book is an unusual mix of Christian fantasy and sci-fi - but somehow the author not only manages to pull it off, she waves one of the most powerful and moving story I have read in years. Every single character, even minor one, are so well rounded and incredibly faceted, original, relatable. This is a book that behind a screen of simplicity has tons to say. This is a book that despite being fiction, despite featuring demons and aliens, manages to capture one of he most realistic portrait of today's California, its soul, its bile, and its heart.
Light from Uncommon Stars is set in California's San Gabriel Valley and features cursed violins, Faustian bargains, and queer alien courtship over fresh-made donuts. Shizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil: to escape damnation, she must entice seven other violin prodigies to trade their souls for success. She has already delivered six. When Katrina Nguyen, a young transgender runaway, catches Shizuka's ear with her wild talent, Shizuka can almost feel the curse lifting. She's found her final candidate. But in a donut shop off a bustling highway in the San Gabriel Valley, Shizuka meets Lan Tran, retired starship captain, interstellar refugee, and mother of four. Shizuka doesn't have time for crushes or coffee dates, what with her very soul on the line, but Lan's kind smile and eyes like stars might just redefine a soul's worth. And maybe something as small as a warm donut is powerful enough to break a curse as vast as the California coastline. As the lives of these three women become entangled by chance and fate, a story of magic, identity, curses, and hope begins, and a family worth crossing the universe for is found.
This is in my opinion the strongest contender for the Hugo award for best Novel this year. I will be following this author closely, and devour all her previous novels as I can find them. (★★★★★)
Started: May 22 2022 Finished: Jun 29 2022
O2 Arena cover
O2 Arena
by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (2021)
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 Novellette category. I had never read anything by this author before, so I did not know what expect. I was pleasantly surprised: this story is great. It's set in a dystopian near future, where breathable air is a luxury sold by big corporations to the public. The scariest part is that the future described here is not an unlikely future, but where we are headed. I already spent a few summers in California with windows closed, orange brown skies, and unbreathable air outside. The future described in O2 Arena... it's starting right now. (★★★★)
Started: Jun 14 2022 Finished: Jun 17 2022
The Past Is Red cover
The Past Is Red
by Catherynne M. Valente (2021)
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 was familiar with the author, and I had loved her Six-Gun Snow White, so I was quite eager to read this one.
This is the story of a girl who made two terrible mistakes: she told the truth and she dared to love the world. The future is blue. Endless blue... except for a few small places that float across the hot, drowned world left behind by long-gone fossil fuel-guzzlers. One of those patches is a magical place called Garbagetown. Tetley Abednego is the most beloved girl in Garbagetown, but she's the only one who knows it. She's the only one who knows a lot of things: that Garbagetown is the most wonderful place in the world, that it's full of hope, that you can love someone and 66% hate them all at the same time. But Earth is a terrible mess, hope is a fragile thing, and a lot of people are very angry with her. Then Tetley discovers a new friend, a terrible secret, and more to her world than she ever expected.
This book has a very remarkable world building, and I would love to see this turned into an anime or tv series. (★★★★)
Started: May 25 2022 Finished: Jun 14 2022
A Spindle Splintered (Fractured Fables, #1) cover
A Spindle Splintered (Fractured Fables, #1)
by Alix E. Harrow (2021)
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 read a few stories by this author, and some of them were really good, hence I was looking forward reading this one.
At first I was a little nervous: the retelling of fairy tales with a modern twist has been done quite a lot and it is becoming harder to be original and interesting. Well, I should have not worried. This turns out to be very original and incredibly good. It's in my opinion the stronger contender for the Hugo in this category this year.
This is the story of Zinnia Gray. She is turning twenty-one, which is extra-special because it's the last birthday she'll ever have. When she was young, an industrial accident left Zinnia with a rare condition. Not much is known about her illness, just that no one has lived past twenty-one.
Her best friend Charm is intent on making Zinnia's last birthday special with a full sleeping beauty experience, complete with a tower and a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, something strange and unexpected happens, and she finds herself falling through worlds, with another sleeping beauty, just as desperate to escape her fate. (★★★★★)
Started: May 19 2022 Finished: May 25 2022
The Sin of America cover
The Sin of America
by Catherynne M. Valente (2021)
My review: This review is for The Sin of America by Catherynne M. Valente.
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 had read a few stories by this author, and some of them were good, hence I was looking forward reading this one.
The story is allegorical, it is set in a world just like ours, where somebody is chosen to bear the burden of guilt of the United States of America, to allow everyone to enjoy the riches that are available while fully ignoring all the evils that enable us to access those riches. People seems to have quite a lot of different interpretations. Quite a few see Christian symbolism, but I am reminded of Ursula K. Le Guin's The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, because the victim if not willing.
It's definitely an interesting story, but it does need a few reads to really process it at its fullest. (★★★★)
Started: May 18 2022 Finished: May 21 2022
Project Hail Mary cover
Project Hail Mary
by Andy Weir (2021)
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 enjoyed The Martian by this author, and I was curious to see how this book compares with that one.
This is the story of Ryland Grace, the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission. If he fails, humanity and the Earth itself will perish. Except that right now, he doesn't know that. He can't even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it. All he knows is that he's been asleep for a very, very long time. And he's just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that's been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it's up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.
Project Hail Mary is an extremely enjoyable book, begging to be adapted to the silver screen. It is a good beach reading. (★★★★)
Started: May 04 2022 Finished: May 18 2022
Across the Green Grass Fields (Wayward Children, #6) cover
Across the Green Grass Fields (Wayward Children, #6)
by Seanan McGuire (2021)
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 read quite a few books by this author, and some of them were remarkably good, hence I was looking forward reading this one.
In this latest instalment of the Wayward Children series, a young girl discovers a portal to a land filled with centaurs and unicorns, the Hooflands. The centaurs are happy to have her, even if a human arrival means something's coming. Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late. When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to "Be Sure" before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines, a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes. But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem…
This is a great book, I strongly recommend it to everyone. (★★★★★)
Started: Apr 28 2022 Finished: May 04 2022
The Talisman (The Talisman, #1) cover
The Talisman (The Talisman, #1)
by Stephen King (2001)
My review: Stephen King has written some incredible books, but this is not one of those. I have been reading the extended Dark Tower series and this was part of it. I never heard much about this book, so I was quite curious to read it... and I was very disappointed. The story drags on and on and at times it seems to be going nowhere. I stopped reading the book a few times along the way, and I just finished because I was hoping in some redeeming ending (that I did not get).
Also, it does not help that I started realizing that the majority (all?) African American characters in King's book are the same: they speak a broken English, they are there just to help the white character, and have some sort of "primitive" magic. I did a google search to see if anyone else had something to say on the topic, and I found this great article by Nnedi Okorafor that I strongly recommend reading.
If you are new to King and you want to give his books a try, there are plenty of good books by this author, just skip this one. (★)
Started: Dec 27 2021 Finished: May 02 2022
That Story Isn’t the Story cover
That Story Isn’t the Story
by John Wiswell (2021)
My review: This review is for "That Story Isn’t the Story" by John Wiswell.
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. This author was one of the finalists last year as well, and I was curious to see how his writing skills evolved in the past year. It turns out they have improved quite a lot, this story is a very strong contender for the award this year!
In this urban fantasy novel, the world looks pretty much like ours, there are predators that take advantage of the less fortunate. In this story, some of these predators are super natural ones, and the victims are young teenagers, some of them immigrants, and some of them gay. The metaphor is not subtle, but it works out remarkably well. (★★★★★)
Started: Apr 27 2022 Finished: Apr 27 2022
Fireheart Tiger cover
Fireheart Tiger
by Aliette de Bodard (2021)
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 have heard a lot of good things about this author, but I have read only some of their shorter work. I was eager to read something longer this time.
The story is set in a pre-colonial Vietnamese-esque world. Fire burns bright and has a long memory…. Quiet, thoughtful princess Thanh was sent away as a hostage to the powerful faraway country of Ephteria as a child. Now she’s returned to her mother’s imperial court, haunted not only by memories of her first romance, but by worrying magical echoes of a fire that devastated Ephteria’s royal palace. Thanh’s new role as a diplomat places her once again in the path of her first love, the powerful and magnetic Eldris of Ephteria, who knows exactly what she wants: romance from Thanh and much more from Thanh’s home. Eldris won’t take no for an answer, on either front. But the fire that burned down one palace is tempting Thanh with the possibility of making her own dangerous decisions. Can Thanh find the freedom to shape her country’s fate... and her own? (★★★★)
Started: Apr 17 2022 Finished: Apr 25 2022
Unseelie Brothers, Ltd. cover
Unseelie Brothers, Ltd.
by Fran Wilde (2021)
My review: This review is for "Unseelie Brothers, Ltd." by Fran Wilde. 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 have read and liked other work by this author, hence I was quite happy to get to read some more of her work.
In this urban fantasy novel, the world looks pretty much like ours, but there is a mysterious shop, the Unseelie Brothers Ltd, that creates incredible dresses that can literally change the life of the debutantes wearing them. Unfortunately the store is very hard to find, and that keeps disappearing and reappearing somewhere else...
Despite not being exactly my usual cup of tea, it's a good story, and really well written. This year Hugo finalists are all quite strong, it's going to be very difficult to rank them. (★★★)
Started: Apr 16 2022 Finished: Apr 17 2022
Elder Race cover
Elder Race
by Adrian Tchaikovsky (2021)
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 never read anything by this author, but I heard a lot of great things about this and her previous book, hence I was quite excited to pick this one up.
In Elder Race a junior anthropologist on a distant planet must help the locals he has sworn to study to save a planet from an unbeatable foe. Lynesse is the lowly Fourth Daughter of the queen, and always getting in the way. But a demon is terrorizing the land, and now she’s an adult (albeit barely) and although she still gets in the way, she understands that the only way to save her people is to invoke the pact between her family and the Elder sorcerer who has inhabited the local tower for as long as her people have lived here (though none in living memory has approached it). But Elder Nyr isn’t a sorcerer, and he is forbidden to help, for his knowledge of science tells him the threat cannot possibly be a demon…
I enjoyed the story quite a bit, Hugo's finalist are always a treat to read. (★★★★★)
Started: Apr 09 2022 Finished: Apr 16 2022
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine cover
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman (2017)
My review: I did not know what the book was about when I started reading it. After a few pages I though this was a comedy, a non scientist version of big bang theory's Sheldon Cooper. But few chapters in things started changing, some hints of a very dark undercurrent start emerging. It turned out to be a much different book that the one I was expecting, it is an intriguing mix of funny moments and a sweet and full of hope story of escape from childhood trauma.
This is the story of Eleanor Oliphant. She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she is thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding unnecessary human contact, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen, the three rescue one another from the lives of isolation that they had been living. Ultimately, it is Raymond’s big heart that will help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one. If she does, she'll learn that she, too, is capable of finding friendship... and even love. (★★★★)
Started: Mar 20 2022 Finished: Apr 09 2022
Antiracist Baby cover
Antiracist Baby
by Ibram X. Kendi (2020)
My review: This kids book comes with high credentials: his author won the National Book Award, and this particular one won the Goodreads Reader Choice Award back in 2020. I decided to pick it up to learn how to approach xenophobia when talking with young kids.
Antiracist Baby introduces the youngest readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concept and power of antiracism. With bold art and thoughtful yet playful text, it does indeed provides the language necessary to begin critical conversations at the earliest age. It definitely is a good gift idea for young children and parents dedicated to forming a just society. (★★★★★)
Started: Mar 24 2022 Finished: Mar 24 2022
A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking cover
A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking
by T. Kingfisher (2020)
My review: Once in a while I do read YA books, and the title of this one intrigued me. When I saw it won the Lodestar Award (i.e. the Hugo award for YA) I decided to finally read it. It was very enjoyable!
The book follows fourteen-year-old Mona, a very young wizard. She isn’t like the wizards charged with defending the city. She can't control lightning or speak to water. Her familiar is a sourdough starter and her magic only works on bread. She has a comfortable life in her aunt's bakery making gingerbread men dance. But Mona's life is turned upside down when she finds a dead body on the bakery floor. An assassin is stalking the streets of Mona's city, preying on magic folk, and it appears that Mona is his next target. And in an embattled city suddenly bereft of wizards, the assassin may be the least of Mona's worries…
The book did not blow me away, but it was very enjoyable and funny. This is a perfect read for a beach vacation or to destress at the end of a long work day. (★★★★)
Started: Mar 02 2022 Finished: Mar 20 2022
Work: A Deep History, from the Stone Age to the Age of Robots cover
Work: A Deep History, from the Stone Age to the Age of Robots
by James Suzman (2021)
My review: This book is a history of life on Earth, and on humankind through the prism of work. Work defines who we are. It determines our status, and dictates how, where, and with whom we spend most of our time. It mediates our self-worth and molds our values. But this bring up some questions: are we hard-wired to work as hard as we do? Did our Stone Age ancestors also live to work and work to live? And what might a world where work plays a far less important role look like? To answer these questions, James Suzman charts a grand history of work from the origins of life on Earth to our ever more automated present, challenging some of our deepest assumptions about who we are. Drawing insights from anthropology, archaeology, evolutionary biology, zoology, physics, and economics, he shows that while we have evolved to find joy meaning and purpose in work, for most of human history our ancestors worked far less and thought very differently about work than we do now. He demonstrates how our contemporary culture of work has its roots in the agricultural revolution ten thousand years ago. Our sense of what it is to be human was transformed by the transition from foraging to food production, and, later, our migration to cities. Since then, our relationships with one another and with our environments, and even our sense of the passage of time, have not been the same. Arguing that we are in the midst of a similarly transformative point in history, Suzman shows how automation might revolutionize our relationship with work and in doing so usher in a more sustainable and equitable future for our world and ourselves... or not.
This was an interesting and engaging book, that reminds me a lot of Yuval Noah Harari's books. If you are a fan of Sapiens you may love this one as well. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 23 2022 Finished: Mar 10 2022
Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism cover
Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism
by Safiya Umoja Noble (2018)
My review: The book starts with a simple experiment: year ago, before this book publication, if you had run a Google search for "black girls", sexually explicit terms were likely to come up as top search terms. But, if you type in "white girls," the results are radically different. The suggested porn sites and un-moderated discussions about "why black women are so sassy" or "why black women are so angry" presents a disturbing portrait of black womanhood in modern society.
In Algorithms of Oppression, Safiya Umoja Noble challenges the idea that search engines like Google offer an equal playing field for all forms of ideas, identities, and activities. Noble argues that the combination of private interests in promoting certain sites, along with the monopoly status of a relatively small number of Internet search engines, leads to a biased set of search algorithms that privilege whiteness and discriminate against people of color, specifically women of color.
Through an analysis of textual and media searches as well as extensive research on paid online advertising, Noble exposes a culture of racism and sexism in the way discoverability is created online. As search engines and their related companies grow in importance - operating as a source for email, a major vehicle for primary and secondary school learning, and beyond - understanding and reversing these disquieting trends and discriminatory practices is of utmost importance.
Since I work at Google, I was very eager to read this book, hoping to learn more about the problem, and learn about different strategies to fight it. I found it indeed very interesting, even if the density of the book (that reads as a journal article or a textbook) does not make it an easy reading. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 12 2022 Finished: Mar 02 2022
The Assassins of Thasalon (Penric and Desdemona, #10) cover
The Assassins of Thasalon (Penric and Desdemona, #10)
by Lois McMaster Bujold (2021)
My review: I have enjoyed many of the instalments of the Penric and Desdemona Series, and I was curious to read the first full novel set in that word. I was not sure what to expect.
The story starts when Penric's brother-in-law General Arisaydia gets attacked in a novel and unusual way. Penric and his Temple demon Desdemona find themselves headlong into the snake-pit of Cedonian imperial politics. But they will not travel alone. The mission from his god brings Penric some of his strangest new allies yet, and the return of some of his most valued old ones.
It was nice to meet some old characters from previous novelette, and the story is entertaining as usual. A fun read. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 29 2022 Finished: Feb 12 2022
L'amica geniale cover
L'amica geniale
by Elena Ferrante (2018)
My review: Era parecchio che sentivo parlare di questo libro. Tutti i miei amici in America, forse per il fatto che l'autrice e' Italiana, continuavano a consigliarmelo. Quando il mio book club di lavoro l'ha selezionato, ho colto l'occasione al balzo e l'ho letto.
Questa e' la storia della intensa relazione di due donne, Lila Cerullo ed Elena Greco. Questo primo libro copre il loro primo incontro da bambine, e le segue fino alla puberta'. Sullo sfondo c'e' l'altra vera protagonista, Napoli negli anni Cinquanta del secolo scorso. L'amica geniale comincia tra le quinte di un rione miserabile della periferia napoletana, tra una folla di personaggi minori accompagnati lungo il loro percorso con attenta assiduità. L’autrice scava intanto nella natura complessa dell’amicizia tra due bambine, tra due ragazzine, tra due donne, seguendo passo passo la loro crescita individuale, il modo di influenzarsi reciprocamente, i buoni e i cattivi sentimenti che nutrono nei decenni un rapporto vero, robusto. Narra poi gli effetti dei cambiamenti che investono il rione, Napoli, l’Italia, in quegli anni del dopoguerra, trasformando le amiche e il loro legame.
Il libro e' parte di una quadrilogia, e ho l'impressione che l'autrice stia sistemando con arguzia i pezzi su una scacchiera, gli attrori sulla scena, e son curioso di sapere cosa succedera'.
Molto interessante la relazione tra Lila e Elena, molto intensa, piena di ammirazionee gelosia, odio e attrazione, tanto da farmi pensare che fosse amore. Vedremo cosa accadra' nei prossimi volumi! (★★★★)
Started: Jan 06 2022 Finished: Jan 29 2022
When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain (The Singing Hills Cycle, #2) cover
When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain (The Singing Hills Cycle, #2)
by Nghi Vo (2020)
My review: I had previously read and loved The Empress of Salt and Fortune, hence I was eager to read this second instalment of The Singing Hills Cycle. It turns out that while the world and the framing device is the same (cleric Chih wonderings researching legends and history of the Ahn empire, a fantasy world based on Chinese history and folklore), this story is not strictly a sequel. I really liked it, and I am looking forward the next instalment.
In When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain the cleric Chih finds themself and their companions at the mercy of a band of fierce tigers who ache with hunger. To stay alive until the mammoths can save them, Chih must unwind the intricate, layered story of the tiger and her scholar lover, a woman of courage, intelligence, and beauty, and discover how truth can survive becoming history. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 02 2022 Finished: Jan 05 2022
Piranesi cover
Piranesi
by Susanna Clarke (2020)
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, but I heard a lot of great things about this and her previous book, hence I was quite excited to pick this one up. I had no idea what to expect, the cover did give very little away. I got one of the most weirdly original book I got to read in a long while. I definitely want to read more by this author, and it is one of the strongest contender to the Hugo this year. It definitely left a deep impression, it got me thinking about it long after I was done reading it.
I want to mention one negative thing though: the narrator makes quite a few statement across the book that come across as homophobic. I am not the only one to be disturbed by this: another commented on tor wrote The villain’s gayness is brought up constantly, often in the same sentence as his evil. His depravity is linked to his gayness. He falls into the predatory gay man stereotype, preying on his students. All of the main characters are straight and so is Clarke. It’s not that gay characters can never be villains but the way he is handled is very homophobic. . I have to agree with the commenter I am quoting. Masterpieces can have their flaws, but I am deeply saddened by this.
This is the story of Piranesi. His house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house. There is one other person in the house, a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 30 2021 Finished: Jan 02 2022