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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.