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« April, 2023 »
The Extractionist

Usually I don’t love books that have an extensive virtual world component, but I had heard good things about this one and like this author and was not disappointed. Often my issue is that once you get into the realm of fantasy or non-real worlds things can just turn into “Well there are no more rules” which can sometimes make for interesting stories but not ones I tend to like. This book has mostly female characters and a story about what you do when someone gets “stuck” in a virtual world, and about the highly trained specialists, one in particular, who go get them. It was an interesting take on the topic, but not so gripping or thrillery that you couldn’t read it before bed.

How to Hike the AT

Got this book from a friend and while I wasn’t expecting it to be A Walk in the Woods (Bryson) I did expect a little more in the way of personal anecdata along with all the packing lists, post office lists, flora and fauna lists, potential injury lists and planning lists. Upshot: it might be useful (though outdated) for someone making a real AT hike plan, but for me, who was just curious, it was a little too dry.

Year Zero

A goofy romp based on the premise “What if aliens had been listening to our pop music for decades, loved it, and then needed to pay us for damages under copyright law?” It’s more than that, sometimes tries to be too funny but is often funny, and is just a great “Doesn’t take itself too seriously” kind of light science fiction tale.

Almost American Girl

This is a tough memoir about a young woman with a very difficult mom who gets uprooted (told she’s going on vacation and then just... doesn’t get to go home?) from her life in Korea to live in Alabama with her mom’s new husband who she’s never met. Her mom has her reasons--even though her behavior in this country would amount to child abuse--but there’s still a lot of sobbing and misery. While it’s well done and eventually works out okay, it wasn’t a story I needed to read. There’s a lot of trauma, for the first 80% of the book and if that is not your thing, it is very much this book’s thing.

Sensory: Life on the Spectrum

This is a collection of comics about being autistic. Like any collection, it’s a bit uneven--segments range from advice for allistic folks, to journeys of self-discovery, to metaphors about the autistic experience--but also engaging and informative. I’m someone who has always had some “spectrum-ish” traits and it was interesting for me to see a lot of different autistic people’s perspectives on some of those traits. This book was originally published out of a Kickstarter campaign and then found a major publisher. I learned stuff from reading it and you probably will too.

World Running Down

A neat combination of a desert salvager dystopian novel and a trans queer romance. Valentine’s been saving money for his transition by doing a series of somewhat sketchy salvage jobs with his only-sort-of-supportive work partner but then he meets Osric (an AI which usually lives in the network, ported somehow into a human body) who gives him the option of doing one big job and maybe getting everything he wants. There are a lot of interesting analogies drawn between the AI in the “wrong” body and Valentine also being in the wrong body which I think work fairly well. There are some very sweet parts to this story which takes place in a lot of places where the characters aren’t always comfortable. It’s incredibly well done and the type of book that you don’t see many of but I hope we’ll see more of.

A Fractured Infinity

The queer multiverse love story you’ve been waiting for. Maybe. This is a great debut novel that goes in some interesting directions with multiverse ideas while not getting bogged down in the hard science aspects of it. It’s all about a scientist who invents a machine that can traverse multiverses, and another version of that same guy who is NOT a scientist, who is trying to figure out what the hell is going on. At times funny and poignant, but not too terribly confusing (sometimes a problem with multiverse books). There’s a lot of longing and nostagia in it, which are well told. I enjoyed being along for this ride.

How to Keep House While Drowning

A friend suggested this since I’ve had a tough year or so. This author’s challenges are not my challenges--she has kids, and ADHD--but it’s good for people with anything that could be considered a challenge. It’s a pretty short and supportive self-help style book that has good strategies for just what it says on the cover. How to take care of yourself without shaming yourself that maybe you’re not taking care of your house the way you’d like to. I found it useful and it helped me take some concrete steps to remove some blockers to getting my house the way I wanted it.

On Whitcomb Hill

This was a gift from a writer friend about the 1840s farmhouse he purchased with his wife and thoughts about fixing it up, and the rural landscape, the people who had built the house and farmed the land. A lot going on it it and it’s hard for me to say what I might have thought about it if I didn’t know the writer but since I DID know the writer, I enjoyed getting to go along with him on this journey.

Paper Girls: The Complete Story

have a weird complaint about this book and that is that it was too heavy so it was hard to read in bed. It’s a compilation of six other books and I can understand wanting to have them in one volume but oy. I otherwise adored this compilation of the Paper Girl stories which involve a lot of complex time travel, meeting some of your future selves, and navigating friendships and relationships. There’s a lot going on and the illustrations really reward a close look.

A First Time For Everything

This book, which takes place in 1989, had a QR code in the front so I could listen to a soundtrack that would accompany it and it was just the greatest thing. I knew most of the songs and I read this book in one sitting. It’s an autobiographical story of a nerdy awkward kid who learns some things about himself and others during a month in Europe before high school. He endured a lot of bullying and some complicated family stuff before this trip and the things that happen to him (which are almost entirely true to his real life) help him learn and grow from it. I especially appreciated the afterword where we learned more about what his life was like after.

The God of Endings

Not my usual read, a vampire-adjacent tale of the undead and what it’s like to be a quasi-vampire with a conscience and a love for art. The lead character is immortal, or almost immortal and she tries to balance her love of being alive, of service work, of trying to understand her past, with the fear that there is an ending sneaking up on her. Beautifully written and evocative. Not too scary but with a lot of moody ambience.

The Twyford Code

This book was a fun take on the “total amateur finds hidden code and spends a lot of time tracking down clues while other people think they may be losing it” genre that I enjoy. It had an odd style that might not be for everyone, a series of audio recordings, transcribed by fallible software, that tell nearly the entire tale. You have to figure out what might be an error, or a misremembering, or a mislead. It’s not necessarily a mystery you’re going to puzzle out on your own, but one that has an ending that makes sense and is interesting. This one features a librarian character and keeps you guessing right up until the very last pages.