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The Editors

If you would like to read a dramatized story about some editor feuds on a very Wikipedia-like online encyclopedia (I did!) then this book is for you. There’s a teen admin, a Chinese American paid editor, a Uyghur young man, a journalist trying to live up to her dad’s legacy, and a social justice-motivated librarian. Oh and a crank who tried to take it all down, motivated by his own personal backstory. And a billionaire (of course) and the well-meaning doofus who set the whole thing up. You might know the author, he’s a journalist who has written a newsletter about Wikipedia stuff for a while. He sent this to me after asking me to read a sample chapter a while ago. The final product was even better than the chapter. I’m not sure how this book would read to people who aren’t fairly deep-in Wikipedia culture nerds, but I enjoyed it a lot.

Escape Velocity

I need to get better at reading the CWs before diving in to books. It’s hard to talk about this story--in the luxury space hotel subgenre, usually my jam--without giving too much of it away. It’s one of those gradual-reveal plots that takes place in a nearish future where the world is burning and billionaires make deals and plans about who is worthy enough to move to the Mars Colonies. And there’s a strong Upstairs Downstairs vibe with the majority-Filipino hotel staff who oversee everything their rich clients are doing and talking about. There’s a weird orgy in the middle seemingly for no reason. There’s a theme running through it about people suffering abuse as young people and the roles they start to inhabit as grown-ups.


A very straightforward YA graphic novel about a small town in Oklahoma that is dealing with some parents who want the popular fantasy series banned because it promotes witchcraft and is “obscene.” Spoiler alert: the book is not obscene. Even though the small town is not great for our protagonist, he finds some fellow travelers at the library and in places he doesn’t expect. I enjoyed it, a quick read. It really seemed like it could have been written just this year but in fact is over a decade old.


A graphic memoir from Ai Weiwei which uses the structure of the Chinese zodiac to tell stories from the life of Ai Weiwei. If I did not already know about Ai, I am not sure this book would have helped me learn the facts about his life (though there are some) but it does really give you a sense of, for lack of a better word, why he has the vibes that he does. Gorgeously illustrated with fairly prosaic text, I still would have read this if it were 10x as long.

Fight Me

It seems petty and a bit naive for me to say that this book had a few too many fight scenes. I loved Grossman’s book Soon I Will Be Invincible and I very much liked this one but it felt a little tropey and norm-y and I’m used to more diverse stories nowadays. The one person of color who has any real role to play is referred to as “the black girl” a few times and all the characters seem very cishet. Nothing wrong with that, it’s certainly a choice one can make, it just sees very old fashioned.This was a fun superhero origin tale--here’s when they’re young and cool, here’s where they’re older and jaded--that hewed more towards more traditional superhero types of things.

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

Janzen grew up Mennonite. She left the church about the time she went to college, got a higher ed degree and got married. Then it turned out her husband was a jerk with mental health issues who left her for “Bob from Gay.com.” As part of putting her life back together, she moves back in with her family and re-immerses herself in the Mennonite world only this time as an outsider, somewhat. It’s a gentle story, at times a bit funny and even as she’s describing some of the odder statements or practices of her family, she does so with love.

Alien Clay

If you like Tchaikovsky, or Van DerMeer, you’ll like this. Yet another novel including hte phrase “fruiting bodies” which I always took as a Van DerMeer thing. This story takes place on a prison planet, it’s an exploration of a whole new ecosystem where what we’ve come to know as “organisms” are true symbiotic colonies. Lots of ruminations about individuality vs. the whole and the concept of sell outs, takeover, and ultimately, revolution in the face of extreme resistance. A somewhat brutal book (it’s a prison planet) but I liked the protagonist and enjoyed thinking about the science

Indian Burial Ground

This is a Native vampire tale. Sort of. It’s about multiple generations of people in a small community--dealing with suicide and alcohol use disorder and all manner of bad things--who work on a way forward while bad an inexplicable things happen all around them. Medina is a member of the Tunica Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana. This story takes place in a fictional Louisiana tribe. I usually have a hard time with stories that have too much trauma in them but this one kept me reading. Mind the CW at the beginning, it’s no joke.

The Ministry of Time

This was not so much a time travel novel as a novel of what it means to be out of place, not where you’re meant to be, among your people. This is a stirringly poignant novel that hovered just on the edge of “too much” for me. The main protagonist spends a lot of time in an anxious tension about their relationship. It’s got a lot of funny bits, can be a bit uneven, but overall just a well-done story about a near-future earth where we can kidnap people from the past to try to solve current problems. Kind of. I’m not usually a fan of “ripped form the headlines” fiction that only dabbles in historical accuracy but this one has some pretty well-interwoven Franklin Expedition trivia in it too.

Ocean’s Godori

I enjoy a good sci-fi space romp that doesn’t get bogged down in too many “But how does the spaceship take off/land exactly?” physics details and this is a good one of those. The Alliance is a big Korean spacefaring concern. A ship takes off with a quirky assortment of misfits with different backstories. There is some drama, a lot of interesting personalities interact, the main character is female and charismatic in an odd way that is hard to pin down. The story seems to end somewhat in the middle, so hoping there’s a sequel.


I did not like this author’s first memoir so it’s on me that I thought “Oh I wonder if this is about the synthesizer guy?” (yes, and also no) and still read it. It’s a memoir about the nature of memory and what we know about someone who is no longer with us, and some looking into family history. Kurzweil’s dad is a transhumanist who, among other things, wrote a chatbot to talk to his own late dad. Many pages are just not that interesting (for someone not part of the family - I’m sure they’re interesting to them), and appear to be transcribed verbatim from interviews. Despite the cover: it’s not really a love story. Definitely not my jam.

The Mighty Bite

I somehow picked this up thinking I might learn a bit about trilobites but this was actually a more standard kid graphic novel adventure story about a trilobite and his friend the walking whale as they try to... win a video contest? There is some good trilobite content at the end. It was a fun and well-illustrated read. I may be one of the few people who was not super familiar with Hale before this. Fun book.

Welcome to Forever

This is a pretty ambitious book that mostly worked (for me). It’s a story about memory in a near future where memory editing and storage is possible. At the center of it is a gay love story and some pretty deep thoughts about what it means to share a life with someone, and how much of that is your memories. Since the book is a lot about the life of the mind, there’s a lot of thinky “in your head” stuff about longing and loss. There are some inception-like “Is this real or is it a simulation? Or a simulation inside a simulation?” bits so if those are dealbreakers, this is not the book for you. Got murky occasionally, mostly great.

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

This is the second (and last) book in a series where I adored the first book. But where the first book had a decent amount of whimsy & things that are cool to look at and learn about, this book felt like one large slow-motion trolley problem with a pretty high degree of suffering and trauma throughout. I’m the first to admit that this is a me thing, but as much as I love Pulley and her writing, I felt like this book was almost something to be endured. There was a deepening, sort of, about the relationship but the entire thing is making one person anxious and the other person doing a lot of machinations behind the scenes but also being vague and weird a lot of the time. Loved the descriptions of Japan, disliked that it was one long suffering exercise.

What It’s Like To Be a Bird

Sibley is a huge name in birding and this attractive book is a compendium of interesting bird facts as well as some details about various species. One of my favorite things about it besides the gorgeous illustrations is how much Sibley lets you know what the science says about birds and their behavior including some of the things we don’t know (why some birds do dust bathing) or can only guess at. You can either read the facts straight through in the front, or read them alongside lovely illustrations of birds that they reference. A great book for people who like bird facts.

Marie Blythe

I’ve liked Mosher’s other books and this one I had mixed feelings about. I loved the natural world descriptions of a place not far from where I live, I even liked some of the “just so stories” about how things (maybe) used to work in Vermont. I only sort of believed in the female character he created--Mosher only mentions what she’s wearing when it’s important to the plot, she just didn’t seem female somehow to me--and I definitely didn’t appreciate some of the casual racism in the book (anti-Roma in particular) which was just totally unnecessary and weird that it was included. I know the 80s were another time but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to read the book through modern sensibilities


. Probably an interesting story, told in a weird way. There are many popular history books out there where you can tell by reading them what references the author used to assemble their narrative. Long recitations of menu items is a tip-off. In this case there was a fancy well-documented 50th anniversary party feting the guy who created the color mauve. And I assume Garfield read that and did the rest of the digging himself. A lot of long quotes from letters. A somewhat dry story after the initial discovery. The book explains why it was a big deal but a lot of it is about the history of colors and dyes and him being forgotten by history

The Book That Wouldn’t Burn

I try to read most books that I notice which take place in a library. I got about a fifth of the way into this book and just could not handle the relentless struggle and fear and pain that the main characters (who were also all young people, late teens or even younger in flashbacks) had to endure. I’m sure there is a great plot in there, and I’m not against ups and downs, but this was too much for me.

Floating Hotel

You hit a certain age, you’ve read a lot of books and you can say “Another book in the luxury space hotel mystery genre.” Turns out I like that genre quite a bit and this was a good example of it. People wind up on the floating hotel because they’re escaping life circumstances in a dystopia where there’s been one Emperor for 500 years and you’re not allowed to even mention aliens. But... someone’s speaking truth to power. And are they in the floating hotel? And how do you find them?


Reminiscent of Rabbits and another book I can’t remember that used travel-through-mirrors (Rajaniemi?) as a device. This tale is told mainly through the eyes of an unreliable narrator about what might be the end of the world but might also just be a video game or a social media jape. I enjoyed where this book took me and liked the way the tale was told, gradually revealing what is going on. A lot of themes of parenthood and making your own determinations of how to keep people safe. People who don’t want a plot that has aspects of suicide cults, steer super clear of this one.

Marooned in Realtime

The book that was suggested to me that the previous book was the sequel to (and I missed a novella in-between them). I liked the concept, that there are these stasis bubbles you can be in where the world ages around you but you remain the same age. People bop around “through” time by letting it pass on outside the bubbles, strategically. So they might advance to millennia in the future to avoid global cataclysms, but they can never go backwards. This is more of a cop story than the last one which was more post-apocalyptic in some ways. The cop (who showed up in the novella I did not read) was trying to figure out how someone had gotten, as the title says, marooned in the past. I liked it in some places, it dragged in others.

The Peace War

I had to go back and read this one so that I could read the second one (which I started before noticing it was part of a series). This is a classic novel from my high school years which has that adorable almost-there social sensibility (i.e. talks about racism but still employs things that are clearly now racist tropes, similar with sexism) surrounding a tale about what is essentially peace-through-facism and the ones who fought it. A little sleepy but a good read.

The Stars Turned Inside Out

It’s hard to talk about this book without discussing where it does or does not go but I will say I was expecting it to be one sort of book and it turned out to be another. This story of a dead scientist found in the LHC tunnels had a great plot and super uneven pacing. It also had some expository devices which I didn’t really enjoy (i.e. some of the plot reveal takes place in a holiday play sort of format and I felt like I was in some sort of Shakespeare situation) but maybe they’re right for a different type of person. It nearly entirely takes place at CERN and there’s a lot of fun Swiss stuff and science-y stuff in it but ultimately it didn’t work for me as a novel, I was left at the end not sure if I had understood the plot or not.

The Perfect Vehicle

I got this book from a local Little Free Bookshelf and it reminded me pleasantly of the brief period of time when I had a motorcycle and also of the positive and negative aspects of motorcycle ownership especially for a woman. I also did not know that the author had been married to an acquaintance of mine, so that was an odd little surprise. A lot of fun motorcycle stories, a little bit floridly told. If you like Moto Guzzis, this is the book for you.

The Mars House

There was so much going on in this book! I picked it up because I liked her other book on a different topic and this one is new. A man who is a ballet dancer immigrates to Mars as the Earth becomes uninhabitable. That’s a whole thing! He learns that people who are “Earthstrong” (i.e. born on Earth with more muscle mass and adapted to more gravity) are in a weird class of “dangerous” people and treated accordingly. Mars natives live in a genderless society where they’ve been genetically adapted to a planet that is dusty and cold. They are tall. They have musculature developed to the gravity. Then there is some palace-intrigue type stuff which is maybe the bulk of the book and I liked it. I figured out some of the conceits and not others. Also there are mammoths but not in a way that was goofy or felt out of place and shoehorned in. Quite good.

Those Beyond the Wall

I could not remember as much of the previous book as I’d thought I had, but that was fine. This is a “some years later” version of the same world with much less multiversing and much more (by the author’s own admission, in the foreword) rage. It’s a poetic look at intense inequality as seen through the eyes of those who have less, as they interact (or remember, or try to make deals with) those who are more privileged and who have, perhaps, even less of a code of honor.

The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles

This is the second in a series. Two woman, a detective and a scholar, wind up solving mysteries that take place on a gas giant planet which has a lot of fascinating world building as you might expect. So there’s some really interesting description of how it all works, which is lovely, and a lot of tasty foods, but then one character is often anxiously ruminating about "defining the relationship"which is less fun to read but maybe good for some? I found the discussion of their relationship somewhat distracting but that may be because I related much more strongly with one of the two characters.

Danger and Other Unknown Risks

This is illustrated by Erica Henderson who did a terrific job with it and helped make it delightful. A fun romp through adventure and friendship after the (sort of) end of the world. A adorable talking dog, some nice nostalgia trips, and a story that keeps on going in plausible but not terrible complicated ways. Definitely for the younger crowd, it’s just complex enough without being mystifying.

The Crossing Places

I heard people discussing this author when I was working at the library and took this book home on the strength of their enthusiasm. It’s basically a Vera-like character. It’s so close, in fact, that I had to check to make sure Griffiths didn’t write those. This woman is an archaeologist not a cop and it’s the EAST of England and not the North but I liked it enough to probably try the second one. There are some dead children in this book which I should point out just in case people find that sort of topic to upsetting. Some interesting archaeology history and not too gory or gruesome.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

A great story about the quest for a bombmaker in 1880’s London, one who may have been a fancy watchmaker. And there are a few fancy watchmakers in town, one of whom is from a royal family in Japan and has some odd characteristics. Oh and Gilbert and Sullivan are nearby, and there is a clockwork octopus who steals socks. I’m not 100% sure I understood what was happening during this novel, but I enjoyed trying to figure it out. There’s a lot of great description, a bunch of characters who are flawed but compelling and a few women trying to do what is hard to do in old-time London. Ever so slightly magically realist in a way that I enjoyed.

A Crack in the Wall

An Argentine crime novel about a frustrated architect who is working in a dead end job with a few other co-workers. Over the course of the novel you realize they are bound together by a crime. I had thought the fact that this was a “crime novel” meant it was a mystery/cop story and this is not that. Ultimately I disliked the main character and the way he was objectifying the women around him. You’re supposed to, but it still didn’t work for me. This book was also read in translation and I kept feeling that some of the verbal tics of the characters were supposed to be more meaningful but I wasn’t sure how.


When Logan subtitles this book “the ecstatic skin of the earth” he means it in more of a reverential way. He’s an arborist and nature writer who wrote this gentle collection of essays reflecting on what we know about the soil we stand on, farm in, and walk through. Some of it contains lessons in history, some is more straightforward soil science, all of it is interesting to read and will make you look more at the world around you when you’re outdoors.

The Hunter

This is good like I thought it would be, the second in the Cal Hooper series about a retired American cop who moves to a small town in Ireland and learns about the ups and downs in a community of people who have all known each other forever. I didn’t know there was going to be a second one and was happy to see familiar faces when I started reading. The last one began with a secret. This one starts out with a scam. Figuring out exactly what the scam is, and then what to do about it, as Cal’s connection to the people and the land grows, is the trick. Oh, and it’s really hot out. This story is both timely and timeless and if you like French you’ll love this.


This is a graphic novel about three young women from Canada who visit New York City. They are all sort of friends in different ways but not all three friends together. Two of them hook up, causing a bunch of weird feelings. Lessons get learned, maybe. The Tamakis, as always, do wonderful graphic novels. The illustrations of this one are gorgeous, really lush and interesting. At the same time, the vagaries of young people still figuring it out and being kind of shitty to one another can be a hard story to tell and also to read.

Big Time

I’ve liked Winters' other books but this one (where all the narrative characters are female or non-binary) just fell flat for me. Great plot, interesting concept but the women just didn’t feel like women, they felt like television’s idea of women. Like, if you have a character who is a domestic abuse survivor and then she gets killed in an unrelated (and ugly) way, you’ve decided she is a plot device and that’s a very specific authorial choice. It seemed strange and all the female characters seemed two dimensional. The non-binary character also turned out to be a plucky smartie but also they were treated in a not-particularly-interesting way. I loved the plot of this book, it was inventive and different, but the way it was handled I just couldn’t get behind.

The Last Taxi Ride

Ranjit Singh is a taxi driver, a Sikh former Indian Army captain now working in New York City. He hopes to have his teenage daughter stay (and maybe live) with him. Then he gets wrapped in some shit with the boss from his other job, the hair importer. It has to do with a woman who was a Bollywood star and now lives in NY doing... something. He has to clear his name and make it all work out. Been trying to branch out in my crime-solver reading and this was a great one, though I was sorry to find out that it was the second (and, I guess, last) in the series because now I know too much about how the first book goes but I do like the characters.

Freshman Year

I grabbed this despite knowing I do not really enjoy the memoirs of awkward young women. This was on me. This is a well done rendition of an awkward young woman talking about her freshman year of college, a year in which nothing momentous really happens (by her own admission, in the afterword) and she talks about how it felt to her. If that is a thing you think you’d enjoy reading about, then you might like this. I thought it was going to be a somewhat different sort of book.

The Book of Doors

. What if any door were every door? A compelling story about a world mostly like ours except there is a set of magical books that have special powers for those who have them. The Book of Pain, the Book of Joy, the Book of Memories and so forth. Cassie gets given the Book of Doors and discovers that there is a huge shady underworld of people who want these books and will spare no expense to get them. And of course there is a hidden library. There are some pretty evil evil people and that was a difficult part of this, for me. Just the right amount of sentiment and an interesting story.

The Third Person

This is a HUGE (900+ page) graphic novel about the author’s experience getting therapy in anticipation of gender affirming treatment. During the course of therapy she found she had dissociative identity disorder and so her therapist postponed treatment while they worked that out. Her main therapist comes off pretty bad in this retelling (some pretty unethical stuff sometimes it’s not entirely clear what’s happening) and while things work out okay in the end, it’s tough sledding as a read, though well told.

Exit Black

A “back on my bullshit” kind of book, a space thriller about a luxury hotel on a space station and things that go terribly wrong. Mainly taking place during a very tense 24 hours. I really liked the ideas in it. However, a lot of the explication was predicated on the idea of you understanding the layout of this place. Despite the book’s map, it never really clicked for me so it was confusing and also stressful. The narrative always felt macho despite the female lead, a lot of gratuitous violence that seemed less and less explicable as the book went on. Maybe a good book for someone else?

Summer of the Big Bachi

Picked this up because I like Hirahara’s other books and there’s one in this series that involves a Japanese baseball player who plays for a California team. This is the first in that series. Mas Arai is a Japanese American Hiroshima survivor who, no surprise, has seen some shit. He’s settled into a quietish life as a gardener in Altadena with a set of friends and clients. It’s a nice life but trouble finds him and he needs to sort it out. There are some confusing parts (for me) involving people from his previous life who may or may not be becoming a problem in his current life. I liked the Ara character and will definitely read the next one of these.

Welcome to St. Hell

This graphic novel discusses the author’s journey for both himself and the people around him as he works through his feelings and takes the steps to get gender affirming care as a young adult in the UK. Everyone winds up being supportive, but it took a while for some. Those folks are shown in before/after ways where you know they will come around so it makes it a little more okay to see them being non-supportive (or mainly just confused) earlier on. Some of the steps will be familiar (thoughts of “maybe I’m just a butch lesbian?” for example) and some are uniquely his. Really well drawn and well-told.

Moon of the Turning Leaves

This is a decade-later sequel to Moon of the Crusted Snow, an exploration into what happened to a small Anishinaabe community in Northern Ontario when... the lights go out. Now it’s ten years later, our crew have been hanging in there, but resources are getting scarcer and a few community members take a long journey to try to find an ancestral homeland they’ve never actually seen. A gentle story with a few terrifying moments. It takes a long time to get going and I didn’t mind the pace but it wasn’t entirely what I was expecting. So happy there was a sequel.

Two Cheers for Anarchism

A book I found in a little free library. I did not need to be convinced about some of the positive “ways of seeing” when you look at things through an anarchistic lens (mutual aid, direct action, skepticism of hierarchy) but it’s fun to hear someone from Yale saying it. This book is a series of informal chapters using examples as a jumping off point. It’s more about the negative qualities of the state than the positive qualities of anarchism, and I certainly didn’t need to be convinced, but I’ll take it.

Lunar New Year Love Story

This book was illustrated by LeUyen Pham. I’m a Yang completionist so I picked this up from my library shelf. It’s a sweet story about a young Vietnamese woman who is trying to figure out her destiny in terms of love as she also puzzles out the complicated history of her parents' relationship (having grown up without a mother). Along the way she grows up, learns to lion dance (in both Chinese and Korean styles) and figures out who she is and what she wants. Well told, lovely book.

The Mimicking of Known Successes

A mystery/cop procedural novel, sort of, which takes place on a gas giant planet that has been loosely colonized. There’s a lot of world building and a cop and a scholar who must combine forces to figure out how a person disappeared from a transportation platform at the end of the world. But they have some history which also needs to maybe be resolved and by the end of this (the beginning of a series) that starts to happen. I had a hard time visualizing some of this. It was clear the author had a pretty good idea of what it all looked like but never did. However, I really enjoyed the story and I’ll read the next one.

No One Can Pronounce My Name

I picked this book up because of the riot of my favorite colors on the cover. It was a really well-done story about a few different Indian Americans, centered in Cleveland, and thinking about Indian American culture versus American culture and how people relate to one another and their own senses of self-identity both within cishet marriages and within gay culture. Starts off in a complex and conflicted place and smooths out over the course of the book. Ultimately a story about friendship(s) and how they work with a lot of different sorts of people.

Do You Remember Being Born

If you’d like to read a novel about a human poet writing important poetry with a poetry-writing AI, this is probably a great novel to read. I had mixed feelings about it--it was extremely well written and the human poet was a great character with a story that was both quirky and felt real--because I just find “An AI wrote this!” aspects of our real world neither interesting nor cool (yet). There’s a sense, in this story, of this poem, the one which is the center of this novel, being incredibly momentous in some way and yet, the final reveal seemed a weird after-effect and not really a big deal. It was weird. Good but weird. I’ll search out the author’s other books.

This Country

A poignant graphic novel about a young couple’s move to a tiny house in Central Idaho. They run a local movie house. They garden a lot. They learn about birds and trees and nature. They meet their neighbors. Then they decide to have a baby and have a soul search about how while they are *visiting* this culture, their child will grow up with it being *their* culture. And they leave. As someone who was that kid, and whose parents didn’t leave, I read it with fascination.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

This book starts out dark and gradually gets less dark. It’s about a woman who witnesses a crime involving a family member and winds up stuck in a series of backwards time loops trying to figure out how to stop it from happening. Each step helps her figure out a bit more. I don’t want to give a lot away but it’s very well laid out. It’s a roller coaster of a novel. I didn’t really know where it was going to wind up until it was almost there. Very well done.

The Art Thief

I have a few categories of books which I love and “Someone tells me more about art theft” is one of them. Finkel also wrote a really good book about the North Pond Hermit which was interesting while also not being tawdry or sensational. This book is about an audacious European art thief who lived in an attic at his mom’s place surrounded by dozens of valuable artworks that he brazenly stole over the course of years. It’s really convoluted and I enjoyed the “how I got these details” recounting at the end almost as much as I liked the book. A lot of good research leads to this tale well-told.

A Quantum Love Story

Don’t remember how I found this book but I had enjoyed Chen’s earlier book about superheroes, We Could Be Heroes (Chen loves Bowie which also shows up in this book a tiny bit). This one is a “How do we get out of the time loop, but also we’ve grown closer while caught in the time loop....” sort of book. More romance than science, and plausible romance at that, but not really a romance novel per se. I really enjoyed reading this though I wish there was a little more wrap-up to the ending. As it was, I’m not entirely sure what happened.

Liberty’s Daughter

From what I gather, this is one book which is assembled from a few short stories that take place in the same general place. It’s a really engaging YA-ish novel about a young woman who grows up on a “seastead” an area in international waters off of the coast of California that a bunch of libertarian types have grown their own societies in. It highlights a lot of the pitfalls of this sort of no-government-with-technology setup. You get a lot of what is essentially slavery along with gross things like skin farms and extreme class divides. Interesting without being too didactic. The image on the cover didn’t seem to be something actually in the book

The Tusks of Extinction

This novella by Ray Nayler will be hugely appreciated by folks who liked The Mountain in the Sea. That one looked at octopus consciousness, this one looks at (potential, possible?) mammoth consciousness and goes a bit into some of those “We’re going to bring back mammoths from their old DNA” stories that have been shuttling around. But with a twist you both don’t expect and also don’t entirely understand at first. Started off a bit confusing but went a bunch of places I enjoyed.

The Undertaking

This is one of those lesser-known books about people who work in mortuary/funeral services. This one is by a guy who worked in the family funeral services growing up and now runs his own business in rural Michigan. He is also a poet, so it’s a little more ornately written than others. I sent the guy an email about a typo on his website (and to say I liked the book) and got a charming email back from him. You’d probably like this if you like the genre generally.


This was a book with a very interesting premise--aliens dispassionately walk among us trying to accomplish their own goals and one of them has to do with radio waves--which gets hampered by too many real-world analogues to things like Scientology and Art Bell’s radio show. I enjoyed the book for what it was, I just felt it didn’t need to hew so closely to things that already exist in the real world. A lot of cool dog characters, if that sort of thing is your thing.

Long Past Dues

A sequel to another book from a magic-adjacent world where people’s jobs are to oversee that the magic doesn’t get too out of control. Grimshaw Griswald Grimsby (that name!) is a new member of this Auditor group, keeping things stable in Boston’s Department of Unorthodox Affairs. A bunch of stuff goes wrong. There’s a fair amount of ‘Our exhausted protagonist tries to hold on just a bit longer so that things don’t go totally wrong.’ Liked, did not love.


A YA graphic novel about two sisters who fence, and whose dad has died, and who are dealing with some complicated feelings that result in them having a fencing duel. A sweet story and I learned a lot about fencing. Well told, well-illustrated, and a lot fun to read.

Some Desperate Glory

This scifi book touches on some pretty dark topics like child soldiers, fascism, and eugenics. It has an interesting throughline story and framework that, combined with a lack of gory detail, make it a great way to engage with these topics, for me at least. It mostly takes place on a rebel microplanet as one group of teen soldiers graduates and receives their adult assignments continuing to fight for what amounts to human supremacy. But things don’t go as planned.

Empire of Deception

We all know about Ponzi. Fewer know about Leo Koretz, who maintained a decades-long Ponzi-like scheme from Chicago, selling shares in a non-existent real estate and oil venture supposedly in Panama. He swindled his family, he swindled his friends. He died in prison. I enjoyed this book, the author clearly did a lot of research. It suffers a bit from extensive quoting so it feels like every third sentence is in the voice of a different newspaper. Some of the details feel extraneous-but-true like what people were eating at a certain dinner or who was in attendance at various functions. Jobb does a good job at contextualizing what was happening within the other news at the time, so you hear a bit about Al Capone, Chicago mayors and the Leopold and Loeb trial.


My library had two copies of this and I got one. It is both an amazing piece of writing and a painful read. We follow the story (of post-mortem plagiarism, and the snowballing mess it creates) from the inside of the head of an unlikable character who is just self-aware enough to know what she is doing is wrong but not wise enough to stop digging. And she’s a white lady so it’s wincey watching more things work out for her than they should, the support network of awfulness that helps her maintain her weird and bad takes on things.


I pretty much know what I am getting into with KSR novels. This one was about a massive generation ship and the issues they face seven generations in when it turns out the planetary system they are aiming for isn’t what they’d hoped. I guess for people who are more familiar with it, they see it as a long novel about why generation ships as a concept won’t work. This book is basically three novels in one. To my read, they don’t cohere so well and the one in the middle is mostly a stream-of-consciousness from an AI which I could have done without. The book has an odd ending, not really where you think it will go, but it’s still good reading.

The Talk

Bell grew up with a White mom who was always getting mad at people who were racist to her son, storming in to the school to yell at people, for example. His folks were divorced and Bell also had a Black dad who didn’t really talk to him about racism. He experienced a lot of shitty treatment from classmates, cops, and authority figures and discusses how he grew up learning to stick up for himself but also trying to determine what the “right” way was to deal with racism and awful people, how that affected his professional and personal life, and how he talked to his own kids.


The sequel to Angelology, taking us a little further in to that story. However, it was more of a thriller and maybe trying to do too much? We didn’t get to know any of the characters much better and while the plot was complex and fascinating, a lot of it was told with one of the characters monologuing to the other characters who are often injured or tired or in a hurry. And there were a bunch ofdisparate threads which I felt didn’t resolve well. I liked it but was not surprised it didn’t have a sequel despite an ending that implied one was coming.

Reading the Forested Landscape

I am not great at tree identification. I mentioned this to a friend. She suggested this book which is so much more than just tree id-ing, it’s more like “Can you tell what went on in this forest before you got here?” puzzles which come with a lot of explanations about forest ecology. You see a picture of a part of a forest and then that chapter is about what you can learn from the picture. You learn about things like blowdowns and pest invasions, fire damage and beaver signs. I’m not sure my tree ID will be any better but I feel like I know the forest better.

Off to Be the Wizard

A cute, fun romp predicated on the idea “What if all the parameters that run our lives are in a big shell script somewhere and could be adjusted?” This includes things like not only where you are, but when. You can probably see where this is going. It’s a fun doesn’t-take-itself-too-seriously story about wizardry and Medieval England. Despite almost no female characters (the one that is prominent is badass) I really enjoyed this. Fun and funny.

The Suitcase Clone

This was a slender book which I finished late at night, more of a long short story really. It’s a fun short romp that readers of Sourdough will likely enjoy. I picked it up because someone said they’d enjoyed “Sloan’s latest” and I think maybe this wasn’t it but I was glad I read it anyhow.

Broken Homes

Another book in the Rivers of London series, this one had to do with a large council high rise and some weird goings on with some of the earlier characters you’ve grown to like. There is a lot, like more than the usual amount, of destruction and chaos. A little less “hanging out in the Folly making fun of Molly’s food.” The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger which I did not mind since I am enjoying this series. Am curious to see how, or if, they resolve it.

How Infrastructure Works

Deb doesn’t just understand infrastructure--how it works, how it got built, what it needs, why it’s important--but she has VISION. This not only a book about what we have, it’s a book about where, if we care about a more just world for everyone, we can go. She positions herself as both an engineering professor but also a woman of color, living in a world where many people don’t have her level of privilege and access. It’s a surprisingly hopeful take. Read it.

System Collapse

I’d been eagerly awaiting this book. I enjoyed it but it wasn’t quite the Murderbot book I was expecting. May have been a me problem, it was a long time since I’d read the last one and I had to re-learn who the characters were and this novel seemed short on “get to know the characters” stuff. I did talk to other Murderbot fans who has the same general issue, this book felt more like the second half to the last book and not a standalone novel. A lot of Murderbot’s inner mind, some of their relationship with ART, the usual clusterfuck on a remote planet.