I’ve been burning through the books this year. Figured I’d post what I’ve read to date.
The 1619 Project edited by Nikole Hannah-Jones (Non-Fiction: Social Sciences/History)
I admit to only reading a few pages at a time because these essays contain hard truths about the slavery and institutional racism that is foundational to America, and some thoughts on how we might change our way of thinking going forward. Begun in 2021.
Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth Powell (Science Fiction)
Alternate history meets near-future. Action, adventure, and a Spitfire-flying, cigar-chomping monkey. What’s not to like?
Akata Woman by Nnedi Okorafor (YA Science Fiction)
Wonderful finale(?) to this series that is basically Hogwarts in Africa with Hermoine as lead. Sunny grows up in this one, and the maturity is not just in her powers.
Allow Me to Retort by Elie Mystal (Non-Fiction: Current Events/Social Sciences)
Wondering why the Constitution doesn’t really work for everybody except the wealthy whites, and how the Right keeps weaponizing it? Elie Mystal breaks it down in easily comprehensible chapters with his trademark wit and bombast.
Atlas Six by Olivie Blake (YA Science Fiction)
I was initially quite taken with this book about a parallel magical world that works with and for normals. Six young medeians (magicians) are chosen to serve the Library of Alexandria, which a) survived and lives on in London, and b) is magic to the point of sentience. Cool premise… and then about mid-book it gets bogged down, only to resolve into a series ending in the last 20 pages. Bleh.
Book Woman’s Daughter by Kim Michele Richardson ARC (Fiction)
More enjoyable than the 1st one, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek about librarians who ride mules into remote poverty-stricken areas. My only bone to pick with it is that Honey isn’t terrified of dating a white boy with her parents sterilized and imprisoned for “miscegenation.”
Caliban’s War, The Expanse Book 2 by James Corey (Science Fiction)
A sprawling space opera set in a time when humans have populated the entire solar system, and the economics/societal problems/politics that follow suddenly confronted with some sort of alien incursion. The introduction of Avasarala (played to perfection on the TV series by Shohreh Aghdashloo) and “Gunny” Bobbie Draper just makes this series even better. Sometimes repetitive, but always cutting-edge fascinating.
The Cartographer’s Secret by Tea Cooper ARC (Fiction)
A historical fiction set in Australia in the 1800s. Seemed like a good read until the end when you realize that the whole thrust of the book was a mysterious disappearance that IS NEVER SOLVED. Disappointing.
Fan Fiction by Brent Spiner (Science Fiction)
I’m a Trekkie, so of course I was going to read this. Who is leaving strange and threatening packages for Brett Spiner? Is his FBI agent coming on to him? Often hilarious, totally bizarre, fan fiction/autobiography(?) will leave you wondering what about this was true.
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jamieson (Science Fiction)
A three-in-one perspective of a world in a constant civilization collapse cycle. Imaginative and complex. I didn’t care for the 2nd person present perspective, but that’s just me nit-picking.
The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov (Science Fiction)
I’ve read this book every few years for (mumbly decades). Obviously, a mid-1950s story is going to suffer—in this case, women are practically non-existent in the story, and when they are, frequently are portrayed as dull, vapid, or appendages who accidentally do something. Also, Asimov thought he was a mystery writer… and nope. Still, complex world-building and fascinating sweep of centuries make this a seminal book all would-be sci-fi writers should read.
Heliopause: The Questron Saga Book 1 by J. Diane Dotson (Science Fiction)
A rare DNF. I follow the author on Twitter and she seemed fun, but this book did not make the grade.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (Science Fiction)
Enjoyed this tale of a woman living centuries after making a deal with a dark force. I could have done with less of the male character, but that’s just a quibble.
The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi (Science Fiction)
The author refers to this book as the equivalent of a “pop song.” It’s certainly a romp of a book that takes the reader to an alternate world where Godzilla is an everyday occurrence – and of course, some billionaire wants to exploit them. Lots of fun.
Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki (Science Fiction)
A completely unique spin on the classic Faustian Bargain tale, while addressing transgender and queer topics. Wonderful read. Keep a Kleenex box handy.
The Measure by Nikki Erlick (ARC Fiction)
What if one day, every single adult on the planet received an accurate measure of when they would die? What does it mean to have a short string? A long one? And how will that effect the nature of love, politics, and our sense of who we are? This is very well handled. I have already recommended it.
Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice (Fiction)
The 1st part of the book is depressingly poor. Lestat the vampire of the previous books isn’t just a brat prince, he’s a whiny one. Things get more interesting in the 2nd half as he discusses with the Devil about humanity and divinity. I would place this with “The Screwtape Letters” in terms of a different take on “evil.”
The Night Circus by Erin Mortgenstern (Fiction)
I reread this book annually. It’s one of 2 books in my life I read to the end and immediately restarted it. Two magicians fight a proxy war using young people who are uncertain what the war is about or their actual part in it. Their venue? A magical circus. Brilliant writing, world-building, conflict set-up, love story. One of the few writers I can say I am jealous of – just magnificent writing.
The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah (Fiction)
I read this simply because the author has such a dedicated following & I must have sold 200 of these when I was a bookseller. The tale of 2 very different sisters, their estranged father and occupied France. Like most “women’s fiction” it manipulates the tears (yeah, I did cry). I felt the writing was uneven, the characters strangely under-developed, and many repetitive moments (it felt like the copy and paste things hadn’t been removed). It was likeable enough, but I am still not a fan.
Storm Front by Jim Butcher (Science Fiction)
The first book in the Dresden Files series. I have read some odd reader reviews of this book. Plenty of magic & detective noir. What’s not to like?
Time Enough for Love by Robert Heinlein (Science Fiction)
I re-read this every couple of years because it is so much fun—even if it is misogynistic and paternalistic. The idea of some horn-dog surviving 3000 years and somehow conning the universe to his will is irresistible to me.
Tobacco Wives by Adele Meyers ARC (Fiction)
A 15-y.-o. is dumped at her aunt’s. The aunt is a dressmaker to the top executives. Aunt gets sick, 15 y.o. sews all the party dresses AND uncovers the truth about cigarettes (it’s 1950). Not even barely believable. As Dorothy Parker said: “This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly. It should be flung across the room with great force.”
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (Fiction)
Powerful and elegantly written story about belonging, the nature of faith, grief and family. An immigrant woman struggles to understand her identity, her relationship with her parents, and her place in her adoptive country. Didn’t care for the scenes operating on mice, but I understood it was part of the levels of understanding God.
The Tree Singer by Jacci Turner Indie author (MG/YA Fantasy)
YR/YA read about a land where humans have special talents that help the entire community. When all the trees are dying, a quest is launched to see if the land can be saved. A coming-of-age novel with an ecological and communitarian POV. Lovely.
What It’s Like to Be a Bird by David Sibley (Non-Fiction: Nature)
I am a backyard bird fan, currently feeding about 200 birds (songbirds and hummingbirds), so you know I’m going to love this. Great illustrations, simple explanations of how birds fly, swim, love, nest, raise their young, and migrate.
The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (Fantasy)
Maybe I’m no longer an “epic fantasy” fan. This seemed to be a lot of walking around doing nothing in particular to get the characters to the last 40 pages when all the action happened. I am watching the series, and thinking it is better than the book (a rarity).
Winterset Hollow by Jonathan Durham (Fantasy Horror (?))
I wasn’t aware fantasy horror was even a category until I read this book. Several young people are excited to be invited to the abandoned residence of the author of their favorite childhood book (think something close to Wind in the Willows). They arrive and discover the mansion is filled with the talking characters: a rabbit, a gourmet chef frog, a hard-drinking fox, a non-verbal bear. After a wonderful meal, the killing begins… and goes on and on and on. I read this just to see what the author would do. Written in 1950s prose with an odd backstory woven in. Bleh. Avoid.
That’s it for 2022 so far.
And don’t forget my Paranormal Romance series
The Midsummer Wife (Book 1)
The Solstice Bride (Book 2)
Mistress of the Rose Moon (Book 3)
The Priestess of Camelot (prequel)