July Books

1 The Ministry for the Future: Very-near-future book starting with a heat wave in India that kills 20 million, leading to the creation of a government agency quickly nicknamed the Ministry for the Future, tasked with advocating for future generations and all the non-human parts of the Earth’s ecosystem that can’t fight for themselves, and also leading to the creation of eco-terrorist groups who go after both individual worst offenders and whole market sections. Told through a bunch of viewpoints but mainly the head of the MftF, over ~25 years many struggles are undertaken to turn around humanity’s impact on Earth’s climate, to ensure there’s a survivable future for humanity. Interesting, incredibly bleak, many good ideas, but maybe even in how bleak it is still too optimistic that we’ll make necessary substantial changes in time. 4 stars

2 The Face in the Frost: The only (?) adult book by someone whose children’s books I liked as a kid, this one is…odd. Two wizards, getting on a bit in years, travel across the kingdom to fight an evil that turns out to be the wizard one of them trained with as a youth. Everything gets solved, in the end, without any complex action, but the language along the way is nifty. I guess I’m not entirely sure the…point? 3 stars

3 Stormsong: Sequel to last month’s Witchmark, this one takes up shortly after that one finishes, but now instead of Miles being the main character and his sister a side character, it focuses on her, with him on the side. The whole ‘main powers behind the government are weather-witches’ thing is coming to a head, about to be revealed, and the sister, Grace, is trying to ensure that a) the government remains adequately stable, and b) the country isn’t devastated by increasingly wild weather. And that in the face of basically-fairies visiting the country in a foul mood, and her father retaining the ability to manipulate the government even from (luxury) prison. Another romance, not 100% as good as Witchmark but still quite good, and I look forward to the third. 4.5 stars (get more bikes in the 3rd and maybe we’ll be back at 5 stars, eh? 😉 )

4 The House in the Cerulean Sea: Linus is a middle-aged man with a semi-soul crushing job for the government agency in charge of orphanages for magical children. After no career advancement for 17 years, the ‘extremely higher ups’ take notice of his detailed reports and decide he is the guy for a special secret mission. He is sent for a month-long inspection visit to a secret orphanage on a tiny island, a place where the weirdest magical children have been sent – one child they don’t even know what he is, only that there’s maybe some jellyfish in his background, and also he desperately wants to grow up to be …a bellhop? As Linus gets to know the children and adults at this secret orphanage, he loses the professional detachment that’s been a point of pride his whole career, and starts to get involved. 4.5 stars

5 Word of Honor: Ben Tyson is a successful businessman with a nice small family, when, one morning commute, his neighbor is reading a book about the Vietnam war. Turns out, Tyson is mentioned by name as the commanding officer of a platoon that committed a massacre, killing 100+ people in a hospital. As the book becomes news, the army and government have to respond, and Tyson is dragged back into the army to face a court martial. Multiple different viewpoints (as well as straight up lie versions) are shared throughout the book, and the atrocities that come with war are covered in detail. Tyson himself would be a NIGHTMARE as a client for a lawyer, as he makes pride-based decisions and withholds information his lawyer wants. No thx. Decent read though. 3.5 stars

6 Artemis: By the guy that wrote The Martian – if you liked the sarcastic asshole survivalism in that one, you’ll probably be fine with this one. Here, Jazz is a sorta bike messenger (without the bike) on the moon, and a smuggler on the side. The population on the moon is still only ~2,000, plus tourists. A business (smuggling) associate convinces Jazz to expand to more dramatically illegal action, leading to the involvement of Brazilian (I think it was) mafia and a lot of heist caper type action that’s fun to read, and eventually winds up with all the lives on the moon hanging in the balance. 4.5 stars

7 All the Birds in the Sky: Two outcast middle schoolers, Laurence and Patricia, become friends of necessity. Laurence is a science nerd, and Patricia is…a witch? As they grow up, things pull them apart, but once grown they are pulled back together. Laurence’s group of science nerds and Patricia’s group of witches have incompatible plans for how to save humanity from climate change and humanity’s own fucked-up-edness, eventually leading to a battle between the two sides. Can’t avoid school-age witches or climate change these days, but this was a good combo of ’em. 5 stars

8 Off Armageddon Reef: In the distant future, humanity encounters a hostile race advanced enough to just absolutely destroy them/us. As a desperate last attempt to allow some humans to survive, colony ships are snuck to a far edge of space, to a single distant planet. A small group, who set themselves up as archangels, mind-wipe the remaining settlers and instruct them in a new culture, overseen by a very anti-tech church, with the hopes that by never advancing too far, this isolated colony will never come to the attention of the aliens. 800 years later, Nimue awakens to find that she’s actually a mind-scan of herself in a crazy advanced robo-body, set by a dissident group of ‘archangels’ to revive this intensely much later, once all the archangels would be long gone. Nimue has access to advanced tech and all of humanity’s knowledge, so sets out, now reshaped as a man called Merlin, to teach new skills to the king and prince of a worthy kingdom, without getting them immediately stamped out by the church. The concept is great, and the book is good, but holy heck it’s really long and spends SO MUCH time on naval battles, and now I’m seeing it’s the start of a 10 book series? This guy needs to work on brevity. Honestly, seeing that there are so many more books has almost convinced me to take off another half point. Yeesh. 4 stars

9 Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch: Apparently loosely based on the real life witch trial of the mother of Johannes Kepler, told through her recollections to a friend, the friend’s recollections, and snippets of trial testimony. I basically thought it was a depressing model of how half of everyone is out to make a buck at the expense of others? Everyone else seems to love it, I’m more at, say, 3 stars

10 The Ninth Metal: 5 years ago, Earth passed through the tail of a comet and was hit by lots of pieces of what were soon called omnimetal. This crazy valuable metal landed especially thickly in a dying mining town in Minnesota, which suddenly is once again the hottest place to be. Now competing mining interests fight with dirty tactics while a secret military research base tests a possible new weapon. The drama is all focused around one family, and…actually I guess I wanted to feel like there were higher stakes? 3.5 stars

11 By Schism Rent Asunder: Sequel to book 8, in this one there are fewer naval battles (and I still haven’t remembered which is a galley and which a galleon) but still tbh more detail than needed on ’em. The politics kicks up a notch, with weddings, alliances, and gross murders, and some of our key characters learn that the foundation of their religion and the history of their planet is actually false, which in the end has to be the most important thing for future books. Still not thrilled that there are 10 of them. 4 stars

12 By Heresies Distressed: Next of those^ books, the church prepares for holy war with the Empire of Charis, Charis takes secular war to some other kingdom, and a big assassination attempt is made on the empress. Again, insanely long-winded for the action the actually happened. Listened to this at 1.2/1.4 speed on the drive from Ohio to Colorado. 3 stars

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