Finished reading Blitz by Daniel O’Malley. I didn’t think I was in the mood for the occasional bits of zaniness, but I think they lightened the story enough to keep it from collapsing in self-seriousness. Slow to start but quick to finish.

Mon., Nov. 14, 2022, 10:42:02pm PDT

Finished reading City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett, the final book of a trilogy. In a way, I wish the series hadn’t kept getting better — even though the first book was good, it’s awkward to recommend a book by saying that its sequels are even better. (This one was about regret and repentance and, eventually, making a good decision even if you haven’t always in the past. And aging, as a kind of sub-theme.)

Tue., Nov. 1, 2022, 10:56:27am PDT

Finished reading The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel, another book featuring an obsessive, helplessly-passive (up to a certain part of the book) man-child. (To be clear, I enjoyed this, as I have her other books so far, and there’s a clear progression from Last Night in Montreal through The Singer’s Gun to here.) It might be interesting to reread Station Eleven at this point, her next book in publication order, but I probably won’t.

I almost quit the book early on, as the main character’s particular form of self-destruction made me incredibly anxious, but I managed to power through.

Oct. 21, 2022, 12:56pm (edited)

I took a break to read some RPG stuff, but back to regular books! Finished reading City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett, sequel to City of Stairs that I read earlier this year. That book was good, but this was more compelling, about war and trauma and regret. (Very strange how I’m finding myself relating to older characters these days.)

Oct. 18, 2022, 10:17pm

Finished reading A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers, a novella that I made short work of. I realized, several years ago, that I should be as kind to myself as I try to be to others, something that is very hard for me. This book is, in part, about that.

Sep. 13, 2022, 11:09pm (edited)

Finished reading Permutation City by Greg Egan. Lots of things to like, e.g. digital clones living in a hacky simulation that is more than an order of magnitude slower than the real world. The special relativity section of my brain rebelled against one significant plot point (though I’m not sure I understood it correctly). Very strong Philip K. Dick vibes from the story.

Sep. 13, 2022, 4:16pm

Finished reading The Singer’s Gun by Emily St. John Mandel. I really liked this book; the protagonist started as another spineless, obsessive young man like in Last Night in Montreal, but grew up by the end, and the book’s conclusion was satisfying without tying off all loose ends.

Sep. 3, 2022, 11:39pm

Just finished rereading Blue at the Mizzen by Patrick O’Brian, the last of the 20-book Aubrey/Maturin series. Just like in the previous couple books, there were a few oddities that might have been caught by a more vigilant editor. But the story as a whole is sound, and all is forgiven for the ending, which has brought tears to my eyes each time I’ve read it.

Aug. 30, 2022, 11:38pm

Finished rereading The Hundred Days by Patrick O’Brian, book 19 of the Aubrey/Maturin series. We’re nearing the end, with a few more odd tics on O’Brian’s part, along with the sudden deaths of two secondary characters who have been in the books since the earliest days — one on-screen, the other off-. I understand why he removed at least one of them (no more new stories to tell), but both were handled in a very flat, nearly-emotionless manner.

Aug. 25, 2022, 10:26pm

Finished rereading The Yellow Admiral by Patrick O’Brian, book 18 of the Aubrey/Maturin series. This was an odd one: a couple chapters involving enclosure and boxing felt like O’Brian had just been reading about them and decided to put them in his own book, and there was a faint repetitious quality. On the other hand, it was gratifying to watch them sail past the Pointe du Raz while on the Brest blockade, and the sweet, faintly melancholy ending would have made a good finish to the series … except that Napoleon just escaped from Elba, and there are still two books remaining.

Aug. 21, 2022, 1:17am

Finished reading Duck Season by David McAninch, about the food and culture of Gascony. I’m slow at reading this kind of book, and I had other things that distracted me, but I loved the writing, and need to try cooking various Gascon dishes.

Aug. 17, 2022, 11:21pm

Finished rereading The Commodore by Patrick O’Brian, book 17 of the Aubrey/Maturin series. Features a grim description of one of the less-awful ships in the Atlantic slavery trade.

Aug. 4, 2022, 8:36am

Finished reading Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel. I enjoyed it, though I was quite tired of some of the characters by the end of the book. The story had a couple coincidental meetings that were even less plausible than some in Station Eleven — we’ll see if this is a recurring motif in her work.

Jul. 26, 2022, 11:10pm

Finished reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, a pre-COVID “most people in the world die of a plague” novel. The story starts during a performance of King Lear at the start of the plague, and then follows two people — the actor playing Lear, through the before-times to that point, and a young girl also in the production, through the after-times in a traveling company performing Shakespeare plays. I read Last One at the Party about a year ago, and think this one is so much better it’s almost unfair to compare them. If you can stomach the premise, read this.

Jun. 22, 2022, 2:19pm

Finished rereading The Wine-Dark Sea by Patrick O’Brian, book 16 of the Aubrey/Maturin series, and the fourth and final book of their circumnavigation. Neither Aubrey nor Maturin has great success in this book; oddly, this felt satisfying enough that even a deus ex machina ending wasn’t a disappointment.

Jun. 21, 2022, 10:40am