Noisy Deadlines

Books

  1. The Quantum Magician by Derek Künsken, 478p: It was an interesting premise overall, with posthumanism discussions and creepy religions. Lots going on here: complex worldbuilding. creative and unusual hard sci-fi concepts and bioengineering of specialized human sub-species. There are different post-human beings that were heavily genetically modified, like Homo Quantus, who are able to make astounding leaps of intellectual analysis by stepping away from their individuality, Homo eridanus (The Mongrels): engineered people adapted to live on the deep-sea floor and the creepiest of all, Homo pupa (The Puppets): a type of slave species who were genetically modified to experience awe under pheromonal cues of their masters. I gotta say some of the quantum philosophical passages about faith, existence, and quantum calculations were boring to me. The part about Homo pupa and their blind worshipping was super disturbing, exploring the worst part of blind faith fanaticism.

  2. Midnight Riot (Rivers of London #1) by Ben Aaronovitch, 298p: Cool urban fantasy set up in London. It's got the Dresden Files vibe. It's full of British slang, which was not familiar to me. I'm not knowledgeable in London geography so I must have missed tons of references. It was still a nice read for me, but I guess I was discouraged to go on with the series because it seemed very niche and more interesting for people who know London culture.

  3. Stuck with You (The STEMinist Novellas, #2) by Ali Hazelwood, 127p: A quick and fun enemy to lovers trope, but with engineers!

  4. Timeless (Parasol Protectorate, #5) by Gail Carriger, 407p: This was probably my favorite book of the series, with a satisfactory ending. I love the writing style of these books, there is a lightness to it that makes me smile all the time. This one has dirigibles, a boat trip, balloon trips, a cute metanatural baby (Prudence), children traveling with their parents, Egypt ancient mysteries, and adorable supernatural beings. (vampires and werewolves). It's witty and sensible and classy. It was a true feel-good read. And I felt compelled to continue reading the next series (The Custard Protocol) that focuses on Prudence as a grown-up lady.

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

  1. The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall, 340p: I enjoyed this Sherlock Holmes fantasy twist. I loved when the narrator breaks the fourth wall to apologize and tries to conceal the offending language spoken by some characters. It's a crazy world, different dimensions exist, time travel is possible, there are transgender and pansexual characters, humor, and hints of Lovecraftian/Gothic/Vampire-ish atmospheres.

  2. War Master's Gate by Adrian Tchaikovsky, 737p: This was a long book, I have to say the first half dragged a little. It's a plot-heavy book, with high stakes, several characters die because of the war. There were some powerful scenes related to war decisions that seemed uncomfortably to reality. I was more interested in what was going on in the forest with Che and Seda, the major mystery of this whole series. It ends in a cliffhanger to the last book of the series.

  3. Heartless by Gail Carriger, 400p: This series is so much fun, I'm glad I got back to it. Delightful language, lots of action and tea drinking, a giant mechanical octopus, zombie porcupines mixed with vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and a mystery. Also, a pregnant protagonist is not really common in steampunk/paranormal novels. It's classy and fun! I will read the next one in the series.

  4. Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman, 224p: Down-to-earth productivity discussion, made me think about my limited existence and ponder what's really essential in our lives. There's a lot about acceptance and being patient. The overall message is to take it slow and enjoy the ride. Good reflections.

  5. The Acid Watcher Diet by Jonathan E. Aviv, 293p: I liked the diet approach of this book. I've had acid reflux for years and have adopted lifestyle changes and tweaks to my diet to counteract it. It never worked 100%, and this book was eye-opening in terms of suggesting additional changes to my diet and eating habits that are truly beneficial. I'm still in the first 28-day healing phase (the most restrictive diet) and I'm seeing improvement in my symptoms. The book is very accessible, there are recipes, comprehensive meal plan suggestions, and lists of foods that are recommended so we can come up with our meal plan as well. The recipes are easy to follow and they matched my diet preferences. It has very good advice not only for acid reflux but for lifelong health.

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

It’s summer, so I focused on some light reads that were on my TBR pile. The Starlight's Shadow series was my favorite. I was a bit disappointed with “A Discovery of Witches” and “Architects of Memory”. And “Strange Love” was not exactly what I expected, but at least it had some originality.

  1. A Discovery of Witches (All Souls #1) by Deborah Harkness, 579p: It started well, but then it seemed the story dragged on and on and on... I liked the yoga class with witches, vampires, and demons. There was a lot of world-building info dump that threw me off the plot. Some characters are vampires who lived for centuries, so there was too much background story delivered all at once. I can see it was well researched, mentioning old editions of Bibles, the works of Galileo, Isaac Newton and Darwin, for example. The writing just didn't flow well for me, I wasn't invested enough in the characters to want to follow them through the next two books.

  2. Architects of Memory (The Memory War #1) by Karen Osborne, 336p: It started okay but then some ideas felt underdeveloped and it was not clear how the alien technology worked and what was really going on with the characters' hallucinations. The writing style didn't attract me too much and I thought there was the overuse of metaphors to describe things. I was confused by some terms used to name objects, sometimes I found there was not enough context to understand what that object was. The ending was very abrupt and to be honest, I still quite didn't get it. I don't feel compelled to continue reading the next book.

  3. Hunt the Stars (Starlight's Shadow #1) by Jessie Mihalik, 419p: Romancy sci-fi (enemies to lovers trope) with nice world-building and engaging characters: a perfect summer read. Humans and Valoffs (old-time enemies) managing to work together in a spaceship, sharing meals, watching TV series, cooking, cleaning and trying to be nice to each other. Valoffs are human-like aliens with telepathy and telekinesis powers. Truly enjoyed the ride, and I jumped to the next book of the series right away.

  4. Eclipse the Moon (Starlight's Shadow #2) by Jessie Mihalik, 440p: The story continues with a different POV, focusing on the hacker Kee and the weapons specialist Varro, who is super powerful. They are on an espionage mission on a space station, so lots of hacking security cameras and stealth are happening. I had fun, another light summer read.

  5. Strange Love (Galactic Love #1) by Ann Aguirre, 306p: “Strange” is the best word to describe this book. It’s light in tone, there’s a talking dog, and the male character is gentle and kind with none of the possessive alpha male behavior common to the alien-in-search-of-a-mate romance trope. The plot revolves around this alien competition or contest (“The Hunger Games” style), in which people participate to win the right to mate in this alien world. A human female is accidentally “abducted” from Earth and ends up on a different planet where this contest is starting. Warning: sexy times were a lit bit cringy because the alien had totally different anatomy, so, yeah, very weird.

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

  1. Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files # 8) by Jim Butcher, 496p: We get to know a lot more about Molly, Charity, and Murphy, who are all strong and bad-ass female characters and are given more space in this book. I thought this one was a little bit more self-contained with less overwhelming magic battles, and more character development, which was good. And Dresden apparently gets an apprentice, cool!

  2. Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention- and How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari, 368p: There is so much information in this book! The author explores various sides of the topics covered, citing scientific research and interviews. Some topics discussed: the importance of mind wandering, how slowness and mindfulness activities nurture attention, that reading a book is the simplest form of experiencing the flow state, and how the Internet is training us to read information by skipping and jumping from one thing to another, instead of reading in a linear and focused fashion. He also covers some of the debates and controversies around the increase in ADHD diagnoses, what is going on with social media, the importance of sleep, the idea of perpetual economic growth and how it affects our worldview, and some ideas on why we can't focus enough on the climate crisis challenges today. Excellent read, it doesn't try to find a single magical solution. Our ability to focus is complex and it is entangled with technology, mental health, our environment, our economy and our culture.

  3. The Getting Things Done Workbook: 10 Moves to Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen, 224p [RE-READ]

  4. The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood, 356p: I didn't know I liked contemporary romcom novels about women in STEM and academia, and yeap, I do! This was fun and light-hearted! Just what I needed to get out of a sudden book slump at the end of the month. I empathized with the characters, their academic struggles, and their self-doubts. The romance was adorable, I just wanted a happy ending for all the characters!

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

One thing I’m learning is that it is OKAY to stop reading a book. I can just abandon it and move on with no guilty feelings.

I did just that today. I usually try my best to finish a book even when I’m not enjoying it too much because I have hope it will get better eventually or I’ll learn something by the end of it. A book can have ups and downs and that’s okay.

I’m finding that if after reading 20-30% of the book and it is not grabbing me, it’s time to let go. I’ve always found it hard to give up on a book, after all, I’ve invested hours into it, and giving up seems weak.

Now I have more awareness of the signs showing me it’s time to let go:

  • I’m not reaching for the book at every given opportunity. When I’m into a book, I’ll read it during lunch break, breakfast, before bed, while waiting in line, or during any downtime when I’m not working. If reading the book feels like a chore, then it’s best to let go.
  • I can’t relate to the characters and their motivations. I like to have enjoyable characters, even if they are villains. This is subjective. Sometimes I don’t care about the main character because of “reasons”. It’s like a gut instinct, if they don’t click with me, I’m not engaged.
  • I’m not enjoying the tone/theme. I’m getting more sensitive about some themes in fiction. Too much gore and violence can throw me off. Some trigger warnings for me: child abuse, gore, body horror, sexism, racism, and physical abuse.
  • I give the book a chance (read at least 20-30%) and I feel it’s not the right time to read it. If after a few chapters I still do not feel like I’m in the right place emotionally or mentally to finish it, it’s time to stop reading it.

The book in question today is Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. I read 20% of it, roughly 8 chapters in total. It is a pick for my local Book Club and I’ve heard great things about it. It is a fantasy set in an alt pre-Columbian American world with magic and old prophecies. The setting is dark from what I could gather and the very first chapter threw me off with a brutal scene involving a child. I couldn’t get past that. Later on, we are introduced to a great character, a strong female ship captain whom I loved! But the story is told from 4 different characters’ viewpoints, and I didn’t enjoy the other three POVs.

Anyway, it’s time to move on. Maybe I’ll pick it up later, but there are so many other books I want to read that I’ve decided to put Black Sun on the back burner. Deep inside I still feel bad about it, it’s one of those situations where “I wanted to have enjoyed it”. Well, I’m sorry, it didn’t work out this time.

In Bookwyrm there’s a shelf for “Stopped Reading” and I added a comment so that in the future I know why I stopped reading it.

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

  1. A big ship at the edge of the universe (The Salvagers #1) by Alex White, 473p: It is fantasy in a sci-fi setting which I found was unusual and cool. I liked the diverse group of characters in a “found-family” kind of setting. I missed having more information about the villains, they seemed underdeveloped. Some action scenes where magic, space battles, or spacewalking were being described seemed a bit confusing to me, it was hard to understand exactly what was going on. It is a light read, with lots of action scenes and I tried not to overthink the magic to enjoy it. I don't think I will continue reading the series, but the book builds nicely for the sequel without ending in a cliffhanger.

  2. The Air War (Shadows of the Apt #8) by Adrian Tchaikovsky, 646p: This book escalated way more than I thought it would. I don't know why I wasn't expecting so much war in a book with “war” in the title. So, it's heartbreaking while both the Wasps and the Beetles are developing new weapon technologies. It focuses on the development of fixed wings airplane fighters and a more efficient way to drop bombs from them. The parallels with the Second World War are inevitable. Taki, the Fly-kinden pilot shines on this one. This series continues to be very entertaining.

  3. Exhalation by Ted Chiang, 352p: I don't usually read short stories but this one was recommended to me. Maybe I had too high expectations? Anyway, I enjoyed the first stories “The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate”, “Exhalation” and the “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” and “Dacey's Patent Automatic Nanny”. But I had a hard time engaging with all the other stories. I didn't find the ideas that interesting and for the most part, I didn't care at all about the characters/narrator of the story. Most of the stories were disturbingly weird to me. I was a little bit disappointed overall.

  4. Selfish, shallow, and self-absorbed: Sixteen Writers on The Decision Not To Have Kids by Meghan Daum and others, 288p: It was nice to read thoughts on the topic from people of various ages and sexual preferences, males and females. I find it’s hard to have an open conversation about this topic nowadays. The essays are very personal and honest bringing diverse perspectives. I'm glad these voices are out there debunking the prejudice that childless people (especially women) are selfish or that there is something wrong with them. Being a woman who decided at an early age to not pursue motherhood, this was a refreshing read for me.

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

Since Goodreads was bought by Amazon I’ve been trying to find a replacement for my book tracking. Last year I moved over from Goodreads to The Storygraph.

And then I decided to explore the Fediverse using Mastodon and heard about BookWyrm: a federated social network for book lovers. When I knew that I could import my data using a CVS file, I gave it a try. And I’m loving BookWyrm!

Here are the steps I took to make the move:

Choosing an instance and signing up

There is this neat landing page that can help us see the list of available instances and choose one to join. I chose the flagship (the biggest) instance and joined bookwyrm.social. After my request to join was approved I got a message to confirm my email and logged in.

Read more...

  1. Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) by Brandon Sanderson, 656p: This was my first time reading Sanderson and it’s clear he is a great storyteller. It felt a little YA to me, which is not a bad thing, but sometimes it seemed like the book didn't know if it was going to be an adult or a YA story. Nice world-building: the author really takes time to develop the world and bring it to life, without making it boring. The high point of this book was the Magic System based on colors and Breaths. It's intricate and interesting. I like it when magic has rules, restrictions, and costs to the user. There are some good plot twists that caught me totally by surprise.

  2. 100 Things We've Lost to the Internet by Pamela Paul, 288p: I listened to the audiobook and it’s basically a journey through things we used to do before the Internet. It’s funny and light. But I felt it got a little repetitive towards the end.

  3. The Consuming Fire (The Interdependency #2) by John Scalzi, 320p: The second book of the series and very enjoyable, like all Scalzi’s books. We learn lots of secrets about how The Interdependency was created and the Memory Room. There are cool AIs, conspirators, palace intrigues, plot twists, and people getting arrested. It ends in a cliffhanger so I had to jump to the third book right away.

  4. The Last Emperox (The Interdependency #3) John Scalzi, 336p: I thought it was a satisfying end to the trilogy. Discoveries are made, very important people get killed, and more plot twists making the story super engaging. I loved the characters in this series, and also the sci-fi ideas: with star systems risking being disconnected from the rest of the world, how to save everybody? How to save millions of people from a natural disaster? How to avoid the ones in power from being selfish and only saving themselves? I had lots of fun with this series.

  5. The 5th Gender (Tinkered Stars) by G.L. Carriger, 222p: A cozy murder mystery in a spaceship with humans trying to understand aliens and vice-versa. And a romance between a queer detective and a lavender alien with hair tentacles. It plays with the idea of gender and sexual diversity. It’s cute and light-hearted. Warning: It has explicit sexual content.

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

  1. The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull, 286p: I wanted to have enjoyed this book more, but there was something about it that threw me off. It is unique because the story takes place on St. Thomas Island in our current time. An alien ship lands on the island in 2019. But we don't get to know much about them, only that they want to do some research on the island, they live among the humans peacefully but can become extremely violent if someone annoys them in any way. The aliens are used as an allegory of colonialism, racism, and slavery. And it is all portrayed through the lens of characters, with their personal struggles and thoughts. This book had an eerie feel to it, where I couldn't trust the character’s points of view, it all seemed too surreal to me sometimes. So, I was hoping for more sci-fi alien explorations and this is more like a social commentary on power and occupied territory.

  2. The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes (The Sandman #1) by Neil Gaiman, 192p: I've heard a lot about this series over the years, but I’ve never actually read it. I gave it a try, and it didn't really catch me. It's probably too dark for my taste as it clearly has horror elements. I didn't like seeing people suffering because of the cruelty of deities, it's not really my thing. The art is beautiful, though.

  3. Heirs of the Blade (Shadows of the Apt #7) by Adrian Tchaikovsky, 622p: In this book, we go to the Commonweal, the land of the Dragonfly-kinden. It is a vast far-away land with mostly inapt inhabitants, and they were partially conquered by the Wasp Empire, but still somewhat kept their ways creating an interesting mix of small Monarchies (Principalities) and Wasp-occupied provinces. There is an epic Weaponmaster duel, featuring Tynisa, the Spider. The first half of the book focuses on Tynisa's explorations in the Commonweal. Through her experience, we can see the duality of the Apt and Inapt worlds, and manifestations of arcane magic. This whole series is an exploration of this duality: the arcane versus technology/science. It seems the Wasp Empire wants to rule with both magic and technology, combining them into a powerful weapon to take over the world. We'll see how that goes.

  4. How to Break Up with Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life by Catherine Price, 192p: Very practical, it presents daily exercises to be done in 30 days, so the chapters are grouped by week, with one activity per day. I enjoyed the activities and they really gave me another level of awareness of my relationship with my phone. Sometimes the exercises were just a few questions that made me reflect on my feelings and physical reactions when I use my phone. It was very interesting. The final exercise is to spend 24 hours without a phone and that was also very enriching. I wrote about some of my takeaways here.

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

This month I tried some magical realism, continued on the Dresden Files series (it only gets better), read a short urban fantasy and some light non-fiction. I realized books about minimalism aren’t that interesting to me anymore because I already read a lot of them (so I’ll keep that in mind).

  1. The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo, 468p: I was curious to explore some magical realism, and it's probably not my cup of tea. It was very slow and too “dreamy” for me.  The premise is intriguing and what kept me going was the mystery about the lost finger and the weretigers. Lots of people losing fingers on this one. It brings interesting cultural elements, with references to mythology and folklore of Malaysia. I feel Magical realism is not my thing. Everything happens in the real world (1930s colonial Malaysia), real places, real cultural references, but at the same time there is this uncanny mysticism and I don’t trust any of the characters. I think my suspension of disbelief doesn’t work well while reading this genre.

  2. Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles #1) by Ilona Andrews, 225p: A fun quick read. I liked the idea of a Victorian Bed and Breakfast being a cosmic outpost with its own powers. It's a good urban fantasy mixing up space vampires, werewolves, and a badass protagonist (Dina) who is this powerful Innkeeper trying to look normal.

  3. Dead Beat (The Dresden Files #7) by Jim Butcher, 517p: Have I mentioned that I love the titles of this book series? This one has necromancers who want to put their hands on an old lost book that contains forbidden magic powers, so, lots of zombies. Also, vampires because, why not? Harry Dresden finally gets a job with the White Council and starts getting regular income. I hope he is not broke all the time anymore, he deserves it, he's a good guy. Oh, and did I mention zombie dinosaurs?

  4. The Art of Taking It Easy: How to Cope with Bears, Traffic, and the Rest of Life's Stressors by Brian King, 256p: Light and fun read about stress management with touches of personal memoir. The author uses some simplified explanations of how our brain works under stress, as the  “bears vs traffic” argument. I got the analogy, but sometimes traffic is not as harmless as he describes (I think he never had to drive during heavy snowstorm or freezing rain conditions). I had fun, it is humorous and not intended to be an in-depth guide to fight depression or anxiety.

  5. Love People Use Things: Because the Opposite Never Works by Ryan Nicodemus, Joshua Fields Millburn, 320p: I didn't enjoy this book as much as their previous books. Maybe it's because this one didn't bring anything new to me. It has some more personal anecdotes and even childhood pictures from Joshua Millburn. It tries to focus more on relationships and at the end of the chapters, there are some suggested exercises for the reader. And again, since I'm familiar with their work there was nothing fresh for me. But I think it's a good read for people who aren't familiar with minimalism.

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.