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The Kaiju Preservation Society (EBook, 2022, Tom Doherty Associates) 4 stars

Jamie’s dream was to hit the big time at a New York tech start-up. Jamie’s …

Popcorn, but good popcorn

3 stars

As Scalzi says in his afterword, this is a three-minute pop song of a novel, not a complex symphony. However, even the lightest of pop songs needs effort to make it work, and this does work on its own terms. It's a fun book that rattles along at a good pace, throwing enough big ideas into the mix to keep you reading and not asking too many questions about whether it all makes sense. Spends a lot of time setting up for not much plot, and relies a lot on coincidences to give the ending a personal stake for the protagonist, but does what it says on the tin and people who like this sort of thing will like this.

Debatable Land (2019, Norton & Company, Incorporated, W. W.) 3 stars

When Graham Robb moved to a lonely house on the very edge of England, he …

Review of 'Debatable Land' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

There's four or more different books going on here: a history of Liddesdale and the Borders, a memoir/travelogue of moving to and exploring this area, a treatise on interpretation of Ptolemy's geography, and a speculation on the possible historic basis of some Arthurian history.
The problem is that they don't come together into a coherent whole, so the book is more a series of digressions. Just when something is getting interesting, it ends for something else to come in instead.
It's a shame because the section at the heart of the book with tales of the reiver families of the border is interesting and I wanted more of it.

Red Scholar (2022, Orion Publishing Group, Limited) 4 stars

Xich Si: bot maker, data analyst, mother, scavenger. But those days are over now-her ship …

Review of 'Red Scholar' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Enjoyed this. The characters were interesting and in a story with a familiar romantic shape but a very different setting. I've not read any stories in this universe before so there was a lot to get used yo, but it was presented well through the characters. Felt a bit hurried at some points and occasional clumsy jumps between characters that had me backtracking to see who was ssying what, but makes me want to see more of this world.

Walking (Paperback, 2015, University of Chicago Press) 3 stars

Review of 'Walking' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Picked this up because of the title and a quote I'd seen elsewhere, but it turned out to be not my cup of tea. There are some interesting points in there, but you have to get through a lot of repetition to get to them, and then get to them again and again. Interesting at Novella length because there's an experimentation in there and a challenge that would tire out if it was tried at a longer length, but it's ultimately quite nihilistic. Some people will love this, but it wasn't for me.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (2010, Orbit) 4 stars

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under …

Review of 'The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Really interesting story in a fascinating world. Perhaps a bit too much going on at times as it's a world where everything is so strange and different it can be hard to keep up with what's happening and why. It's also solely told amongst the elite, and that leaves open a lot of questions about how this world works on the ground, but maybe the rest of the trilogy will cover that.

Station Eleven (2014) 4 stars

Station Eleven is a novel by the Canadian writer Emily St. John Mandel. It takes …

Review of 'Station Eleven' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

There was a lot in this I really enjoyed. Interesting characters and a fascinating set of situations, all very tightly plotted and woven together in a system that slowly became visible throughout the novel. The structure and style of it has a lot of similarities to The Passage - something the book slyly acknowledges at one point.
However, I can only give this four and not five stars because the ending - or, more accurately, the climactic point of the narrative - feels too short and brief, almost perfunctory in the way it happens. When I was getting towards the end, I was thinking that I'd missed something in the blurb and this was just the first book of a pair or a series. There was enough going on and being built up I couldn't see how it could be resolved in that space - and I'm not sure it …

This Is How You Lose the Time War (Hardcover, 2019, Simon and Schuster) 4 stars

Two time-traveling agents from warring futures, working their way through the past, begin to exchange …

Review of 'This Is How You Lose the Time War' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

I've had this sitting on my Kindle for a while, but I'm glad I waited in a way as it was the perfect choice for my last book of the year. Somewhere between a simple love story (but see Blue's thoughts on Romeo and Juliet) and the saving of the entire universe, it fits so much in such a small space and creates so many thoughts and images. A wonderful book, heartily recommended.

In the Dream House (Hardcover, 2019, Graywolf Press) 5 stars

For years Carmen Maria Machado has struggled to articulate her experiences in an abusive same-sex …

Review of 'In the Dream House' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This is not an easy read, but it's a brilliant one. Machado's fragmentary style is a fascinating way of showing the effects of an abusive relationship on her psyche and her life, how 'the woman in the dream house' became part of her life and then broke it apart. It moves in to the very small, with detailed examination of events in her relationship, and also moves out to the wider issue of abusive relationships in the queer community.

The Electricity of Every Living Thing (Hardcover, Trapeze) 4 stars

A life-affirming and perspective-shifting memoir of one woman's walk in the wilds as she comes …

Review of 'The Electricity of Every Living Thing' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

I liked this book, but it feels somewhat incomplete. May has a wonderful ability to describe her feelings and the pressures of the world upon her and there are some great descriptive passages in this. However, there's a lot of tension, resentment and misunderstanding in the section about her life and ASD diagnosis which doesn't really get resolved. Like her plan to walk the South West Coast Path, I ended up feeling frustrated at things not being resolved by the end, despite the quality of the writing.

All Systems Red (EBook, 2017, 4 stars

"As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure."

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, …

Review of 'All systems red' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

It's good fun. Was a bit shorter than I expected so the ending felt a bit abrupt (reading it as part of a Tor ebook collection so couldn't see how long was left). Murderbot's an interesting character, and the story from their point of view is interesting, especially when there are so many hours of Sanctuary Moon left to be watched. The problem of that perspective is it makes it hard to distinguish the other characters from each other, but overall it's an enjoyable read.