Vessel by Lisa A. Nichols: A woman astronaut temporarily lost in space during a mission comes back to Earth 10 years later and weird things happen. It's loose on sci-fi, NASA makes unlikely decisions and I'm not sure I bought into the reason why the astronaut was having these mysterious experiences.
Saga, Vol. 4 by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer), Fiona Staples (Artist): I'm hooked! Will read the entire series.
Saga, Vol. 5 by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer), Fiona Staples (Artist): Best quote from this one: “Together, my parents had learned to be much more than “the sum of their parts”, whatever that means. Separately, they were kind of just a mess.” I already got Vols. 6 and 7 lined up!
Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries #4) by Martha Wells: The bot that hacked it's governor module becomes more independent and becomes more human-like, without even wanting to, I'd say. It's so familiar to know that all that Murderbot wants in life is to watch more media. But at the same time, Murderbot can't stay away from its ex-owner problems and goes into a complicated rescue mission.
BrainChains: Discover your brain, to unleash its full potential in a hyperconnected, multitasking world by Theo Compernolle: It's full of scientific research reference and it can get repetitive. It talks a lot about the disadvantages of using e-mail, stress, multitasking, texting while driving and the importance of rest. Good message but I think the book could be shorter.
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari: Made me wonder about tomorrow but question if I really want to be transformed into a stream of data to live forever.
Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made by Jason Schreier: This book gave me a new perspective on gaming and how passionate people dedicate endless hours on creating a game. Fascinating, specially if you play video games.
Tigana was written by the Canadian author Guy Gavriel Kay in 1990. It was the first time I read one of his books. Kay is known for his fantasy fiction that resembles real historic places and even historical events, but transformed into fantasy. It seems like alternate history with fantasy elements in it. Tigana has lots of fantasy elements but I read that Kay's earlier books gravitate more towards alternate history.
Tigana is a stand alone fantasy novel which is extremely rare these days. It tells the tale of a people that lost their identity since their kingdom was conquered by two powerful tyrant Wizards. It's a story about lost names and culture and how a group of brave rebels prepared themselves over years to overthrow the tyrants and reclaim their homeland. The two tyrants split the kingdom into two and one of the provinces was put under a spell to basically transform it into another place and make its past forgotten.
It's a slow burn story that develops leisurely and in an almost dream like state. The writing is poetic, almost to the point where it is too flowery, but then it isn't. Some chapters are a deep dive into the characters memories and emotions that later helps us understand their motivations and their actions. The characters are not good nor bad. There is ambiguity in their actions. Even the tyrant wizard Brandin is portrayed as a conflicted villain and at times he seems unsure about his decisions. But for me, he is evil.
There is a lot of world building and it almost feels like the world he created could exist on its own and many other tales could be told about it. The newest editions of the book have a foreword in which the author explains his Italian inspiration for the Peninsula of the Palm. The author was inspired by the Italian Renaissance history. The powerful wizard Brandin of Ygrath was inspired by a proud and arrogant Borgia or Medici of the 1500's.
Best and worst characters:
Best character: I loved Catriana, the red head woman who is brave and basically makes the story less boring.
Second best character: Devin, the bard/singer.
Worst character: Dianora, who lived in the saishan (kind of a harem) with the wizard Brandon. She wanted to defeat him but Stockholm's Syndrome got her and she just couldn't do anything against him.
I enjoyed it but it's not on my “best books of the year list”. I thought the pace was too slow. Until 40% of the book we just get background story and not much action. Not really my cup of tea. But the writing is beautiful. Not sure if I'm going to read another book from this author.
1) Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries, #3) by Martha Wells
* Another adventure with the anti-social murder bot. It is full of action inside enclosed spaces and lots of hearing other people's feeds. An enjoyable read, as always.
2) The Armored Saint (The Sacred Throne, #1) by Myke Cole
* This was a dark-grim book! Darker than I expected.
The horror is raw and gory. It's a harsh world with a religious fanatic Order, tyranny and dominated people. I was expecting lighter moments throughout the story but I would definitely consider it dark fantasy. Not really my cup of tea.
3) Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski, Amelia Nagoski
* I loved the idea of “ending the stress cycle” and learning the differences between the stressors and the stress itself. Exercise (aka moving our bodies) is one of the best ways to discharge and close the stress cycle. With this book I realized how and why exercise is essential to my well-being. I always knew but I've never linked it directly to the stress cycle.
4) Saga, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer), Fiona Staples (Artist)
* There's no way you can't love the characters. It's just mindbogglingly full of creativity, emotion and authenticity. I read volumes 1 & 2 for a Bookclub meeting, which was awesome! I will continue reading the series for sure.
“I sometimes feel like my head is a computer with too many windows open. Too much clutter on the desktop. There is a metaphorical spinning rainbow wheel inside me. Disabling me. And if only I could find a way to switch off some of the frames, if only I could drag some of the clutter into the trash, then I would be fine. But which frame would I choose, when they all seem so essential? How can I stop my mind being overloaded when the world is overloaded? We can think about anything. And so it makes sense that we end up thinking about everything. We might have to, sometimes, be brave enough to switch the screens off in order to switch ourselves back on. To disconnect in order to reconnect.”
― Matt Haig, Notes on a Nervous Planet
I heard about this book on Sam Harris' “Making Sense” podcast. The topic interested me so I picked this one up. I did not love it. It was okay to a certain point but then I felt that the chapters were getting a little bit repetitive.
This one was fun and comforting. Also it was my first time listening to a fiction book. It has the old Dungeons & Dragons feeling: cool characters, adventures and lots of talk about swords. It is not a dark fantasy and at some points the story is predictable because it contains some classic fantasy tropes: good vs evil, chaotic-neutral thieves, elves and dwarves, a really old and powerful mage, a prophecy. But that doesn't spoil it. A good book to read under a blanket.
I did not like this book. Maybe it just wasn't for me. When you get into the details of being a werewolf, the pain, the tearing of clothing and the wild hunger, it just puts me off. Maybe I don't like shapeshifters at all.
This book is way more action packed than the first one. It feels more sci-fy-ish with a great deal of ordinary human life details. And that makes the story and the characters feel alive. Diversity, racism and human rights discussions are intertwined with the story. There is even a Brazilian astronaut that curses in Portuguese. Anyway, highly recommended as an entertaining and exciting soft sci-fi read!
A short story about older Elma and Nathaniel living in Mars. It happens 30 years after Elma joined the expedition to Mars. It's sad and hopeful at the same time. Will Elma go on another space travel exploration or will she stay and watch her husband die? I read it in one sitting.
An evolutionary perspective with science mixing up with anthropology, politics, culture, religion, biology, economics, history.
It's a fascinating read and it made me think about many things and change my world view. It gives us a higher perspective on how we got here and leaves an open question as to why we are here.
A fun read, as always. But something about werewolves started to bother me. And all the fictional “aether” and “soul” content theories that governs this world. It's extremely well built but my suspension of disbelief was not so strong while I was reading this book. Overall it's a great steampunk fantasy, with lots of Victorian humor!
Reading plans for April:
Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff
Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan
Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries, #3) by Martha Wells
Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries, #4) by Martha Wells
This was a surprisingly weird book. It's a mix of urban fantasy, light science fiction, nonsense and disastrous near futures. There's an AI, witches and mad scientists (sort of...). There is romance. Childhood adventures. Nerdy hipsters. Birds and trees talking. There are philosophical discussions about life, universe and everything. A clash of magic and science.
It's one of those books that can't really fit in one genre box. It's multi-genre (if such a classification exists).
I enjoyed reading it mostly because of the unusual dialogues and crazy ideas. It reminded me a little bit of Douglas Adams's style (like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy).
The AI Peregrine was my favorite character. And in my head I was sure the AI was a female. But then later in the story I realized they actually called her with a masculine noun. Anyway, the genre doesn't matter at all, the AI was cool. I thought the best portions of the story were when Patricia and Laurence were having some existential discussion, like the end of the world.
At around 70% I thought the story dragged a little bit and it became a little depressing. But then the story picks up and extraordinary things happen.
It's an interesting mixed bag of magic and “sciency” near future story.
I challenged myself to read 52 books this year.
And I have a plan... 🧐
...Read more “Hell, Yeah!” books.
The past few years I was experimenting a lot and reading books I would not really pick up at first glance. And looking back I saw that my average rating for all the books I read was 3.9. I think that's low. That means I didn't read enough books that I thought were really exciting. I read lots of “meh” books.
You can see a list of all my read books here.
This year I want to read books that have been on my “to be read list” for some time because they are sequels to stories I already love.
Also, I was inspired by the Reading Glasses challenge (great podcast about Book Culture, BTW) and borrowed some of their ideas to my Reader Goals:
Read a graphic novel (or two...)
Read more of authors I already know and love
Read a book by a trans author
Listen to 1 audiobook per month (non-fiction)
Listen to 1 fiction audiobook [never tried it before!]
Read sequels of the Series I already love:
The Expanse by James S. A. Corey (#4 to #7)
Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells (#3)
Old Man's War by John Scalzi (#2 to #6)
Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger (#2 to #5)
The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski
Start Reading The Dresden Files Series by Jim Butcher [never read it before! Wanna try!]
Read books I've already have purchased/pre-ordered:
The Armored Saint by Myke Cole
Paladin of Souls (World of the Five Gods #2) by Lois McMaster Bujold
Changeless (Parasol Protectorate #2) by Gail Carriger
Enough by Patrick Rhone (Kindle Unlimited)
Drive by Daniel H. Pink
Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport [pre-ordered]
Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff [pre-ordered]
Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made by Jason Schreier
I decided to try Audible for 90 days. I never understood the appeal of listening to a book. For me, reading is a calming experience and depending on the book I will slow down or speed up my reading. I will stop and just look at the world around me when a phrase inspires me. I highlight and take notes (yes, we can do that with an e-reader). Could I do that with an audiobook?
I am used to Podcasts. I normally listen to them when I am walking towards an errand, doing the dishes, running at the gym or, occasionally, driving.
When I am listening to a Podcast I sometimes catch myself wondering about my to-do list or remembering a past event. Then I realized I've been distracted and I come back to the listening. But that's okay because it's not a book, I don't need to follow every sentence to understand the message. When I get lost I just move on.
Now, books... I like to pay attention to every sentence. It's a contemplative experience to me. And that's why I always thought that “listening” to a book would ruin the introspection.
This article from the New York times got me thinking about the differences between reading and listening to a book: