August Books

Whoops, hit publish, not save draft, in the middle of the month. Who knew you could undo that? Anyway…


1 A Mighty Fortress: The next Safehold book has the Church finally actually declare holy war on our main country, plus arrest/torture/kill ~3,000 priests/family members for wanting some mild reform to the church. Charis’ naval power remains the best, but now does take some hits as other countries start to improve. Charis’ emperor and empress have a baby. 700 pages for what could be done in half, again, plus now I’ve learned that the 10 current books are only for this arc and they’re not even close to back to space by the end of that. YIKES. Just knowing that puts it down at like 2, 2.5 stars

2 Ancillary Justice: In the Radch Empire, large spaceships have spent thousands of years ‘annexing’ new planets. From those planets, thousands (millions?) of people are taken, their minds erased and their bodies used as additional drones for the AI that runs the ship. The leader of the Empire is somewhat-similarly spread throughout thousands of bodies, although hers are genetically all identical. When that leader is split, some bodies preferring one course of action, and some another, all hell’s going to break loose, but first out main character, an ‘ancillary’ whose home ship had been destroyed, as to get through some stuff to get ready for the next two books. I can see why many Amazon reviews gave up early, confused what the heck was going on, but if you keep reading you get it, and it’s a good story. 4.5 stars

3 Ancillary Sword: The ancillary from the previous book, now named Breq, leads her new ship to a small system, where she quickly causes a bunch of trouble by helping lower class people both on the station and the planet. Only minimally impacts the overall ’empire-ruler split mind’ situation from the previous book. 4.5 stars

4 Ancillary Mercy: With the leader of the empire (one version of her anyway) coming after Breq, it’s time for more dramatic action, plus some standing up for the rights of AIs. A conclusion keeping the people we care about safe is reached, but no overall solution to that leader and her multiple feuding factions of herself in the bigger universe is even in sight, that’s a problem for…not these books, which is odd? 4 stars

5 Designing Museum Experiences: 3rd or so time I’ve read this. He said it was ready to be printed, I…hope he wanted the still decently large list of (new) things I found to correct… Always something.

6 Doors of Sleep: Every time Zax falls asleep, he travels to a new world, in a new universe. Some worlds are pleasant, some are horrific, and all are confusing until a scientist gives him a virus that makes him good at understanding new languages. He can bring only those he’s holding as he falls asleep with him, so has little time to make friends before everyone from each world is lost to him forever. Despite that, he manages to make both allies and enemies zooming along the chain of worlds. Kind of annoyed to learn that this is the first/only published one so far of a series, but not bothered by it like with the Safehold books. 4 stars

7 A Psalm for the Wild-Built: Quick little book about a tea monk in a post-industrial society who becomes frustrated in their life and set out into the wilderness. There they found a robot trying to find out what humans need these days, for the first human-robot interaction in generations. It’s a cute little story that gets a bit into what is the purpose of being, but it’s real short and not much happens so I’m kinda…eh? 3.5 stars

8 Hold Fast Through The Fire: Sequel to the space coastguard book I read in April 2020, this one follows pretty closely on the end of that one, but it’d been so long it took me a while to remember what the heck it was all about. Space coast guard, in this case taking down a senator-lead smuggling ring, while still prepping for the inter-forces sorta space Olympics? Plus some talk about how people now just let it all go to hell/rich people are awful, and more found-family action… works for me. 4.5 stars

9 The Adventure Zone: The Crystal Kingdom: 4th book of the graphic novelization of the The Adventure Zone podcast. Overall story: already like it. Art: fun. Time investment: low. 5 stars

10 Low Fat Low Cholesterol Cooking: After all summer of my intern promoting the keto diet, this is a heck of a change of priorities! I don’t think the writer is American – calls for ingredients such as mange-touts, passata, swedes, and prawns. I only ended up saving 2 recipes from it, but it did have in-process photos which many cookbooks don’t, so…4 stars

11 Rabbits: Novel version of the Rabbits podcast. Many weird coincidences and oddities turn out to be clues to a game unofficially named Rabbits, which no one is really able to describe well. K has been obsessed with the game for years, but this round seems to be killing many of its players. I’m not sure I find the ending very satisfying, and I feel like the timescale of the rest of the book is weird/inconsistent with these people having real lives. 3 stars

12 Android Karenina: The concept (Anna Karenina but with robots) is fun, but wow I COULD NOT stop falling asleep every time I tried to get another few pages in. 2 stars

13 How Firm A Foundation: Book 5 of the Safehold series. The Charisians are still winning at ‘standard’ naval battles, but now the bad guys of the corrupt Church have finally figured out less ‘honorable’ ways to fight, and got in some hits of their own. Still WAY too wordy. Opens with like 50 pages of a captain getting his ship through a bad storm, and then that’s never relevant again, so…could it have been 5, not 50, pages? 5 paragraphs?? 2.5 stars

14 Recursion: Barry Sutton is a NYC cop in a city increasingly dealing with FMS – false memory syndrome, where otherwise normal/sane people suddenly have two conflicting sets of memories, only one of which, of course, can be true. Helena is a researcher working on memory in mice, in the hopes of eventually building a chair that would help her assist Alzheimer’s patients in retaining their ‘core’ memories. When Helena’s research is twisted by a rich funder, suddenly the chair instead is able to send a person into their own memory, but when they ‘get’ to the past, they have full control and can re-live from that time, changing the timeline as they please. Only, when the traveler gets back to the same time as they left from, suddenly everyone who experienced any difference because of the traveler’s new actions suddenly has memories of both, leading to A GIANT NUCLEAR SHITSHOW ON LOOP. Very dramatic. There was a lot more room to keep going in the story than I thought. Good work, table of librarian recommendations! 5 stars

15 Tuf Voyaging: A series of short stories about Haviland Tuf, a trader who gains control of an ecological engineering warship, an ancient ship thought long gone. He himself is humorless, bad at interacting with people, and a big fan of cats. He makes decisions that the reader likes, because they feel ‘right’, but in reality would be horrifying – ruining the ecosystem of a planet that has animals fight in pits so that there will be no more animals capable of fighting, or dosing a planet with intense human overbreeding with a spore that will make all but .1 of people capable of breeding in the future. Over the top, but fits in the story. 4 stars

16 Homestuck Book 4: Act 5 Act 1: Book 4 of the printed version of a webcomic, with author’s notes at the bottom of just about every page. This book covers the chunk where the alien species known as Trolls are introduced and do a lotta dramatic shit. This book is not for most of the people that I am aware of that read this blog… 5 stars

17 Homestuck Book 5: Act 5 Act 2 Part 1: More Homestuck, this time where the human kids and troll kids really start to work together. Again, probably don’t bother, and yet… 5 stars

18 Soulstar: Following up on Witchmark and Stormsong of a few months ago, this one focuses on a third character friends with the main characters of the first two books. After the first two books discovered the horrible reason witches were being locked up and taken advantage of and got the good prince to be king instead of his crappy mom, this book continues on to realize that even your ‘good’ prince may have a vested interest in not making TOO many changes. Overall reaches a good conclusion for a series that really upsets the foundation of a society, but this one wasn’t as fun a read to me. 3.5 stars

19 Midst Toil and Tribulation: Book 6 of the Safehold books – probably best since the first one. Finally not wasting HUGE chunks on naval battles, getting increasing little bits of scifi in it. There are a pretty wild number of characters who get one chunk of a chapter in a previous book and then you have to remember their names in this book, which…no chance, but overall more decent than the more recent ones. 4 stars

20 Bubble: The graphic novelization of a podcast of the same name. On a dangerous alien world there are literal bubbles of safety – domes containing cities that, mostly, keep the dangerous creatures out. Morgan grew up partially outside, before being brought into the city of Fairhaven, where these days she has a gig-economy side-hustle murdering invading imps when they get reported in an app. She had her friends wind up discovering that there’s more than meets the eye to Fairhaven. This version had to drop bits of the podcast, but the art is really good and brings in new jokes. 4.5 stars

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