Showing posts from October, 2016

The Murder of Mary Russell (Mary Russell, Book 14)

The Murder of Mary Russell (Mary Russell, Book 14) Laurie R. King, 2016 Premise: Mary Russell is home alone when a visitor with an old grudge comes calling. But this stranger’s issue isn’t with her, or with Holmes, but with… Mrs. Hudson? After being sometimes underwhelmed by some recent entries in this series, I put off reading this one for a while. Now that I have read it, I’d say it’s fine, but nothing outstanding. Most of the book takes place out of sequence. After a dramatic opening which sets up Russell’s possible demise, the narrative jumps into the past to tell the secret history of Mrs. Hudson, occasionally jumping briefly back to the present to follow the investigation into what happened to Russell. This series has always lived in that space between pastiche, homage, and fanwork. This volume in particular pulls more from the Holmes canon, drawing connections between various stories and slotting in an expanded dramatic backstory for a minor female character. As

The Empress Game

The Empress Game Rhonda Mason, 2015 Premise: Kayla and her brother have been hiding or on the run since their home planet was attacked by troops from the galactic empire. She’s made a new, bare-bones life by fighting in a backwater gladiatorial arena. Now she has the opportunity to get them either safety or in a lot more trouble when she’s asked to double for a princess competing to marry the heir to the empire. I remember seeing a strong recommendation for this book, so I picked it up when it was on sale. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. The book isn’t terrible. The writing is fine, and some of the world-building (the psychic society that Kayla comes from) is intriguing. But the plot is silly on the surface and doesn’t improve with execution. This highly technical galactic empire has a physical contest where prospective empresses attempt to beat one another into submission. It makes no sense, to the point that Kayla actually attempts to lampshade the situation in-worl

The Hidden Brain

The Hidden Brain Shankar Vedantam, 2010 Challenge Book! Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 - Read a nonfiction book about science Premise: “How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives.” This is a fascinating survey of research around unconscious reactions, and when they can and can’t be overridden by our conscious minds. There is a lot about bias. In some cases, no matter how tolerant and fair-minded we may be consciously, the biases we pick up from society may override our intentions. There was one particularly interesting piece of evidence that people found it easier to react without bias after having sugar. There are details about the invisible currents caused by gender biases. This section includes more detailed stories from a few prominent transgender researchers I’ve heard of before and their unique perspectives on society and privilege. There is a fascinating chapter on herd mentality, group-think, and disasters

Hamilton: The Revolution

Hamilton: The Revolution Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeremy McCarter, 2016 Challenge Book! Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 - Read a play (Yes, I'm cheating a little.) Premise: The complete annotated libretto of the smash musical Hamilton , along with short articles about the writing, production, and cast. I loved the cast album for Hamilton , but I wasn’t planning on reading this book anytime soon until it occurred to me that I could use it for the challenge. It does contain all the words spoken on stage, so I think it counts as a play. First: the style of the book is lovely. It’s full of photos, big color production shots and candid dressing room black and white snaps. The design of the book itself evokes the duality in the show. The articles - about hip-hop, about the writing of the show, about President Obama’s visit - are each introduced with a header in the style of a pamphlet or a newspaper from the 1780s. The book contains both photos of composer and star Lin-Ma


Cyteen CJ Cherryh, 1988 Hugo Winner - 1989 Premise: You live, you make enemies and friends, you work, and you die. But what happens to a child who inherits your enemies. Your friends. Your work. Especially if the child is a clone... This is a hard book to talk about, particularly because I listened to it as an audiobook. A 37-hour audiobook. It was less reading a book and more drowning in 20 years of an alternate reality. At the beginning, Ariane Emory is more than a hundred and twenty years old, councilor for the Science bureau, a political power in and out of Reseune. Reseune is an independent, highly advanced science facility on the planet Cyteen. It supplies longevity treatments and cloning. Reseune also provides “azi,” people who are heavily engineered genetically and mentally to be suited to particular purposes. No one has been able to clone a “special” (exceptionally talented person) like Ariane, not in an exact way. You would have to recreate both nature