Showing posts from February, 2016


Americanah Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2013 Challenge Book! Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 - Read a book over 500 pages long Premise: Ifemelu grew up in Nigeria, began attending college there, met her lover Obinze there. The desire to travel and study abroad impacts every one of her family and friends through upheaval in their country. After she decides to return home after spending years in America, she reflects on her life and how it has changed. This is a lovely book. I don’t always like literary fiction, but this is beautifully written and I found the story deeply interesting. Much of it is told in flashback, exploring Ifemelu and Obinze’s intertwining stories. Their lives are present, tangible and real. A lot of the book centers on culture and race. Ifemelu comes to America and immediately is assumed by many to share a specific experience/attitudes common to African-Americans. But she isn’t American, and finds ‘black American culture’ extremely confusing. Excerpt

The Confidence Game

The Confidence Game Maria Konnikova, 2015 New release! I received a copy of this book from Netgalley for review. Premise: Explores the art of the con - every part illustrated with cautionary true stories and explained with findings from cognitive and/or social science. I looked for this book after reading an adapted excerpt online , and at first I was disappointed. The first few chapters are somewhat repetitive both internally and with each other and the stories weren’t that interesting. The structure lends itself to this problem, though, as the research that explains who is likely to become a con artist or a mark isn’t that different from the research that explains why people fall for the preliminary set-up and story parts of a detailed con. Breaking the con into “phases” felt overly artificial through the first few chapters. Happily, after that it picked up. The true stories became more detailed and more connected to the chapter subjects and the science more current

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen Lois McMaster Bujold, 2015 Premise: Three years after the end of Cryoburn , Cordelia Vorkosigan takes a long look at her life up to this point, and what she wants going forward. I agree with many reviewers that this is a polarizing book. Whether you like it will really depend on what you enjoy the Vorkosigan series for. If you only like the adventure and excitement, this is not the book for you. If you more deeply value the complexity of the characters that Bujold has carefully constructed over the series, if your favorite parts are those of reflection and emotion, than you might find a real winner here. I loved it. I’m going to try not to say too much about the central conceit/reveal of this book, although it comes up early. I will say that while I understand to a point those fans who were unable to get behind it, for me it clicked immediately. It fit with everything that had gone before, but cast many things in a new light. (Yes, I d

In the After

In the After Demitria Lunetta, 2013 Challenge Book! Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 -  Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel (actually this is both!) Premise: Amy is one of the only survivors of the invasion. She struggles to survive and protect a little girl she finds (“Baby”), until black ships bring a series of unbelievable changes. On paper, this has a lot of elements that I like. Survivalist narrative, alien invasion, post-apocalyptic society. But in practice, it all sort of fell apart. Some spoilers are necessary to discuss this book, FYI. The first section, which covers Amy and Baby's day-to-day survival and flashbacks to the apocalypse, didn’t really grab me. I didn’t connect with Amy, she felt flat and uninteresting. The story perked up when the arrival of Amber and other survivors complicated their situation, but it still never really took off for me. The ‘aliens’ were described as instant death, but weren’t often scary in any visceral way. I di

Nice Dragons Finish Last and One Good Dragon Deserves Another (Heartstrikers, Books One and Two)

Nice Dragons Finish Las t and One Good Dragon Deserves Another (Heartstrikers, Books One and Two) Rachel Aaron, 2014, 2015 Premise: Julius is the most insignificant dragon in the Heartstriker clan, and he’s spent his short life happily unnoticed by his more powerful kin, until now. This is a fast-paced, fun fantasy with just enough bite. (I think the only time I paused in reading through both books was at one point when I was convinced a scene was going to end in the death of one of two great characters.) It’s set in the near future on an Earth where magic has returned and influenced society. Rachel Aaron is also known as Rachel Bach, under which name she wrote the Paradox series (sci-fi fabulousness) that I devoured in 2014, so I had been meaning to try some of her fantasy for some time. The main characters are Julius and Marci, a young human mage. I like how her magic is completely different from dragon magic, and humans are still rebuilding their knowledge of magic a