A few months ago I posted a review of some children’s shows that might be fun for adults and why adults might _want_ to watch them (I’ll leave the link to the original in the comments). It’s been a little bit, so I figured I’d update the list.Continue reading “More Kids Shows!”
Review: The Scout Mindset, by Julia Galef
If you want to read this book, message me your address and I will send you a copy. If I could make every single person in the world read this book, I would.
“The Scout Mindset” is a book about how to be right more often. I don’t mean this in the sense of “how to convince people you’re right more often,” or “how to find new correct information.” There is a bunch of stuff you think right now that is straight up cookeydooks wrong, and this book is designed to help you get rid of some of those beliefs. The author argues that being right more often will probably make you a happier and more effective person, and then gives you some easy tools for doing that. It’s very readable, written in a conversational tone, interspersed with anecdotes that I got invested in. It’s short too, so it isn’t a huge time commitment. If you like the idea of being able to see the world a little more clearly, go read it.
Review: Crescent City
The moment Bryce lays eyes on Crescent City’s male lead and thinks: “I hate his guts, but at least he’s a drop dead gorgeous brooding supernatural badass,” I knew exactly where this book was going, but I didn’t expect to enjoy the ride as much as I did.Continue reading “Review: Crescent City”
When I told Andrew, my college roommate, that I was going to skip graduation because I didn’t think it would be fun he seemed puzzled. “It probably won’t be fun. Funerals aren’t fun, but I still go to those.”
For whatever reason this stuck with me. I mulled it over for weeks, like some sort of koan dispensed by zen master. I had always assumed that people participated in social rituals because of a vague autopilot; it hadn’t occurred to me yet that there might be value in a graduation ceremony. I had never examined how I felt about birthdays or Christmas or Mother’s Day, and what I was getting out of them. Or why some worked for me and others didn’t.
Let’s put aside for a second that a lot of holidays are fun. Everyone likes cake or pie or getting presents. But why have holidays at all? Why do we have cake some days and not others? Why not have cake every day?Continue reading “Rituals”
Something I wrote about Covid awhile back that might still be relevant as we crawl towards vaccination:
I’ve been talking to people about Covid recently and there’s a common theme: people don’t know if they’re worrying too much or not enough, but there is this constant nagging fear that they aren’t worrying the right amount. A few friends have told me they feel like they’re doing too much AND too little at the same time. Which I get! On the one hand, I don’t really know anyone who’s had Covid. It’s an abstract threat like nothing I’ve ever had to deal with. On the other hand we ground our entire society to a halt for it, so maybe I should freak out a little more?Continue reading “Covid Risk”
Book Review: Red Rising, by Pierce Brown
Red Rising is my 2021 book of the year. I don’t care if Naomi Novik comes out with ten more books or if there is a surprise release of Alecto the Ninth. Short of Doors of Stone miraculously appearing, I don’t think I’m going to change my mind.Continue reading “Book Review: Red Rising, by Pierce Brown”
5 Kids Shows For Adults
When people ask me what shows I’ve been watching, I never know what to say. It’s not that I haven’t watched anything good; it’s just hard to explain that all my favorite shows from this year are targeted at nine year olds.
The thing is, these shows are good, even from an adult perspective. All of the kids shows I’ve watched this year manage to pull off character arcs that put most adult dramas to shame. I’ve laughed more, teared up more, and just had more fun watching kids shows recently than I have watching anything age appropriate.Continue reading “5 Kids Shows For Adults”
Review: The Bone Shard Daughter, by Andrea Stewart
After years of reading, I’ve developed an idea of what makes a quintessential high fantasy novel. From the first page it immerses you in its own unique world. You meet a cast of damaged yet likable characters and watch them grow and learn into better people. There may be degrees of good and evil, but you can tell which is which. And you know that in the end, things are probably going to be okay. I grew up on this sort of novel.
The Bone Shard Daughter is a great example of this sort of story.
That’s not to say its derivative or boring. The characters are engaging, the world is cool. And after reading so much darker, grittier fantasy, it’s nice to come back to something that feels safe. Sure, bad things happen over the course of the book, they’d have to, but it wasn’t challenging the way some of my recent novels have been. I just sat down and enjoyed it, and I’m excited for the rest of the trilogy.
Review: Axiom’s End, by Lindsay Ellis
If this book was readable, I bet it’d be really good.Continue reading “Review: Axiom’s End, by Lindsay Ellis”
Review: A Deadly Education, by Naomi Novik
“A Deadly Education” comes very close to being my 2020 book of the year. The best slug I can come up with is “Hogwarts, if Hogwarts explicitly wanted to eat you.”Continue reading “Review: A Deadly Education, by Naomi Novik”
Review: The Locked Tomb Trilogy
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
The slug printed on the cover of this book is “Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space!” I have to point out that, as far as I can tell, there are zero lesbians. There isn’t a palace, and a vast majority of the book does not take place in space.
It’s spot on about the necromancers though.Continue reading “Review: The Locked Tomb Trilogy”
Review: Strong Towns by Charles Marohn
I don’t usually read non-fiction, but “Strong Towns” by Charles Marohn turned out to be surprisingly readable for a book about city planning. It piqued my interest because his reasoning fits so neatly into how I’ve come to see the world, but he applies it in an area I haven’t really given much thought. The conclusions he reaches are fairly dire, but I have been finding dire conclusions less and less surprising.
American cities, Charles Marohn tells us, are Ponzi schemes. Detroit’s collapse wasn’t special; it was just early.Continue reading “Review: Strong Towns by Charles Marohn”
Yo mama Turing-completes me
You’re so statistically illiterate you thought p-hacking was when you cheat on a drug test
Yo mama is so religious she thought cross validation was asking what would Jesus do
You’re so clueless you thought a standard deviation was when you’re just, like, a little bit kinky
You’re so idiotic, you ran your epochs in a public school to increase the dropout rate.Continue reading “Yo mama Turing-completes me”
Review: The Stars are Legion
By: Kameron Hurley
Genre: Science Fiction
This book was recommended to me with the nickname “the ooey gooey book” and it did not disappoint. The Stars are Legion is a science fiction novel set inside entirely organic world-ships. I don’t mean like, ‘a Star Trek spaceship but it is slightly green tinged,’ I’m talking people drinking the ceiling mucus and doing surgery on their vehicles. The writing and story were both enough to keep me engaged, but didn’t really go beyond that for me. If you’re desperately searching science fiction for novelty and like the idea of bio-ships, I’d definitely say pick this book up! Just…be ready for it to be gooey.
Review: Three Worlds Collide
Three Worlds Collide
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Available free online: https://robinhanson.typepad.com/fi…/three-worlds-collide.pdf
This short story is incredible.Continue reading “Review: Three Worlds Collide”
Am I the Asshole?
If you aren’t familiar with “Am I the Asshole?” you should check it out. It’s a subreddit where people go to, well, find out if they’re assholes or not. They post a description of their situation, and the rest of Reddit judges them. The posters can be anywhere from outrageous villains (“Am I the asshole for telling my adopted brother that he’s not entitled to my time because he’s not my real brother?”) to clear victims (“Am I the asshole for taking back the beer I bought for a party from which I was uninvited?”), and it’s up the readers to decide which is which. The most common judgements are YTA (“You’re the Asshole”) and NTA (“Not the Asshole”), with ESH (“Everyone Sucks Here”) and NAH (“No Assholes Here”) making rare appearances. Once judged, people will do anything from listening and trying to make amends to yelling at the people who called them assholes.Continue reading “Am I the Asshole?”
Review: Online Works
Friendship is Optimal (Short)
Friendship is Optimal is an interesting little short story you can find online about the potential complications one can have with a misaligned AI. If you’re not used to thinking about “what might happen if an artificial intelligence wasn’t _exactly_ aligned with our goals,” you might find it interesting. If you are familiar with the concept, you might laugh at My Little Pony take on it.Continue reading “Review: Online Works”
Review: The Freeze-Frame Revolution
Author: Peter Watts
This novella introduced me to a brand new form of existential dread.
It’s set in the far future, where a crew of humans is woken up from cryogenic sleep once every hundred thousand years to build a wormhole. They’ve had no contact with humanity for a couple of million years.Continue reading “Review: The Freeze-Frame Revolution”
Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)
Author: Lynch, Scott
I have Opinions about this book. To start with, Lies of Locke Lamora is very popular; if you look at a list of “best fantasy novels of the last few decades,” it will usually be in the top fifty or so.Continue reading “Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)”
Review: Books to Avoid
Some things that I read that I don’t like.Continue reading “Review: Books to Avoid”
Review: The Aeronaut’s Windlass
Author: Jim Butcher
This book is fun. It’s pure Jim Butcher goodness. Things blow up, there’s cool magic, the good guys are all stand up people, the bad guys are hateable. If reading N. K. Jemisin is like eating lemon roasted salmon on a bed of quinoa and then sitting and meditating for an hour, this is like eating an entire chocolate cake and then jumping in a bouncy castle. There’s a wizard who can’t handle doorknobs. There is steampunk sky ship naval combat. There are sentient cats who are at no point explained but are somehow plot critical. It is wonderful chaos.Continue reading “Review: The Aeronaut’s Windlass”
Review: The Goblin Emperor
Author: Katherine Addison
Did you know there is a genre called “Fantasy of manners”? I sure did not before reading this book. And you know what? I’m okay with it. The genre uses a typical fantasy setting, but is centered around high society and social conflict. And that sure describes the Goblin Emperor to a t. There were maybe two action scenes in this entire book, and I think the narrator fainted during one of them. I’m not even clear if there was any in the world. One of the main conflicts in the book is getting a legal body to vote on building a bridge. Not passing the vote mind you, just getting them to vote on it at all.Continue reading “Review: The Goblin Emperor”
Review: A Little Hatred
Author: Joe Abercrombie
This was a weird book. It’s high fantasy low magic, and is set in a pre-established universe. The previous books in this world, The First Law Trilogy, are pretty highly spoken of on r/fantasy. But people on r/fantasy also speak highly of Branden Sanderson so I probably shouldn’t be trusting their recommendations (fight me).Continue reading “Review: A Little Hatred”
Review: The City We Became
Author: N. K. Jemisin
Genre: Urban fantasy
If you took Neil Gaiman, distilled him into a liquid, boiled that liquid down until it was pure refined Gaiminum, and then turned that into a book that is well written yet somehow still stumblingly awkward on occasion, you’d have The City We Became.Continue reading “Review: The City We Became”
Review: Spinning Silver
Author: Naomi Novik
It’s hard to describe the thing I liked most about Spinning Silver. The best I can do is say that Naomi Novik set out to make a brand new, novel length fairytale (think old-school, not Disney) and she absolutely nailed it. It’s the kind of story I could imagine an old woman telling her village over the course of a winter’s night. Nothing about it is derivative though; it’s brand new and familiar at the same time.Continue reading “Review: Spinning Silver”
Review: The Raven Tower
Author: Ann Leckie
The Raven’s Tower is a very strange novel.Continue reading “Review: The Raven Tower”
Review: The Dresden Files
Series by Jim Butcher
Genre: Modern fantasy
Alright, today’s review is for a series that I’ve been rereading, but if you haven’t read it, you’re missing out.Continue reading “Review: The Dresden Files”
Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
Author: Hank Green
Genre: Science Fiction?
“An Absolutely Remarkable Thing,” follows April May, a walking collection of the worst millennial stereotypes, and her life after getting famous via a viral video. At some point there are also aliens, but that’s almost background to the actual story. In fact, for me the science fiction elements were the weakest part of the story. I was there to watch April May self destruct under the sauron-eque gaze of the public eye, and I was not disappointed.Continue reading “Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing”
Author: Madeline Miller
Genre: Fantasy / Mythology
It is a well documented fact that Greek gods are assholes; That idea has been thoroughly explored in modern fiction. But one thing I’ve always felt was missing was a perspective for one of the many powerless women who were run roughshod over in those myths. And Circe provides that perspective.Continue reading “Review: Circe”
Review: Terra Ignota
Series by Ada Palmer
Audiobook: The first book the audio book is subpar, but it is fantastic for the next two
When I started reading these books, I didn’t care much for them. I told Brendan that I likely wouldn’t finish the first book. That I would absolutely never recommend them to anyone. That they were weird, and he was weird for liking them.Continue reading “Review: Terra Ignota”
Review: Gone Away World
By Nick Harkaway
Audio book: Great
If Kurt Vonnugent and the guy who wrote Catch 22 had an incredibly hyperactive baby, who at the age of 7 began producing novels while eating glue sticks, it would probably write Gone Away World.Continue reading “Review: Gone Away World”
Review: The Broken Earth
Series by N.K. Jemisin
Audio book: Decent
So sometimes I go to Goodreads to make fun of one star reviews for books I like. It’s kind of a vapid way to spend time, a way of feeling superior to people you disagree with without any of the actual risk of having to engage with them. You can skim what someone wrote and go “ugh, she just doesn’t get it,” and that can sometimes be fun.
The reviews for The Broken Earth Series were different, though. The primary complaint people seemed to have was that the books were too dark. “Too much child abuse to be acceptable.” “the book is just too darkly misanthropic.” “Why did she have to have so much senseless violence?”
Because the book is about systemic oppression. Because you can’t write a book about an entire people being hated and dehumanized without children being beaten to death. Jemisin isn’t deciding to perpetrate these atrocities; Jemisin is telling the story, in her way, of things that have actually happened. And finding reviews that are either asking that she not tell these stories, or that she somehow make them more palatable, infuriated me. (One review was a woman saying she was glad the books existed, she just simply didn’t have it in her to read them; that I can understand)
The Broken Earth series is a set of three fantasy novels, following a woman named Essun after discovering her son dead. It’s a good story, with plenty of interesting background, world building, and magic. The prose is good, but isn’t perfect. The plot makes sense, but feels a bit meandering. Some of her choices, like telling the story in second person, can be a bit hit or miss. But all of that is unimportant compared to how much substance there is to this book. Few fantasy novels have made me think about the real world as much as this one did.
I’d love to say “you absolutely have to read these books,” but some of the issues I had with the writing prevent that. If you’re a fantasy reader though, I think you should definitely check them out (especially if you sometimes think “I’d really like a book with a mostly female cast”).
Review: Children of Time
If you’ve ever said to yourself, “It’d be really nice to read a series of disconnected shorts describing the path social spiders might take on their journey to civilization, and perhaps, the stars,” then this novel will do a fantastic job scratching that particular itch. Otherwise, you’re probably safe skipping Children of Time.
Review: Born a Crime
By Trevor Noah.
Audiobook: Narrated by the author. I’d prefer to listen to it.
Born a Crime is fantastic. Trevor Noah somehow manages to blend together musings about racism, a picture of South Africa under apartheid, and some truly ridiculous childhood stories into a consistently funny series of essays. I laughed a lot. I learned way more about the apartheid than I did in my U.S. public school. I cried at one point.Continue reading “Review: Born a Crime”