[I've been
« January, 2024 »
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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.