September Books

1 D (A Tale of Two Worlds): When all of the letter Ds suddenly disappear from both printed and spoken English, and things that start with d (dog, dentist, daffodil) start to go as well, Dhikilo winds up on a journey to a strange land to try to get them back. This is a single-afternoon read, but still somehow I quite enjoyed it at the start but by the end was kinda “eh yeah whatever”? The whole backstory of her being adopted from Somaliland seems pointless, with just a vague hint that her dad might be in that other world (or else she dreamed it?) that isn’t followed up on. Cute, but idk. 3 stars

2 Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age: An author from whom I’d only read scifi now spends some years going to archaeological digs of ancient cities and writing about both daily life in those cities (as much as we can tell) and how those cities eventually declined. I learned things I hadn’t previously known, but I’m kinda unclear what her underlying point was? 3.5 stars

3 Like a Mighty Army: The next Safehold book. More people coming into the ‘inner circle’ knowing about the truth of Safehold’s founding, a second robo-body version of the one human remaining in existence from before Safehold, politics, assassination attempts, and extensive land battles. Definitely not the most memorable one. 2.5 stars

4 The Finisher: Vega Jane lives in some shitty small community where everything’s miserable, although there are hidden signs of a lost higher technology or magic. Everyone’s always known that there’s nothing outside the community except a mist full of creatures that will kill anyone who enters within minutes. A sequence of weird events point Vega to the idea that things may not be what they seem, while also getting her in trouble with the community’s Council. I’m vaguely interested in what happens in future books, but not enough to request them from the library. The language used was super annoying, an…yeah, just don’t care enough? 2.5 stars

5 Hell’s Foundations Quiver: The next next Safehold book. Again, more people coming into the ‘inner circle,’ more and more land battles, this time with the Church’s side finally making some technological advances on their side as well, and cracks widening between the leaders of the Church. Most of 800 pages, which it doesn’t have to be. 3 stars

6 The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook: Recipes from tons of different authors. Wide range of food types, nothing mega complex to cook but some tasty things. Wish there were a few more photos. Little blurbs written by each author before their recipe which may be about where the recipe came from, or how it ties to one of their books or character. 4 stars

7 The Forensic Records Society: Two friends who are obsessive about listening to records start a small club where people (men) come and listen to records. Eventually the group splits into multiple groups because of disagreements in how to listen. Reviews assure me that this is deadpan absurdist satire re: Christianity, but it was just…weird? 2 stars max

8 Dark Matter: 15 years ago, Jason and his wife (then-girlfriend) Daniela had very promising careers, him as a research physicist, her as an artist. When she got pregnant, and the baby had a rough first year, their career trajectories altered to less exciting, but still satisfying. Now, after a terrifying kidnapping, Jason’s been somehow thrown into a world where he broke up with Daniela, she didn’t keep the baby, he won prestigious science prizes, and she is a successful artist. As he struggles to get home, he seems both how much better and worse it could’ve been. This was actually really cool, and there was another twist I won’t spoil that made it a lot weirder at the end, in a good way. 5 stars

9 The Clockwork Rocket: Yalda is a young female from a weird lumpy species in a universe where physics work differently. I generally like hard sci-fi, but this one was getting into graphs explaining math and physics and I wasn’t into it, and then I saw that there’s a third book to the series that my library doesn’t even have, so I’ll just be returning book 2 unopened. Not for me. 1.5 stars

10 At the Sign of Triumph: 9th Safehold book. More battles, taking down a rebellion, and then finally winning the holy war. I…assume somehow there will still be battles in the next book? 3.5 stars

11 Shadowmarch: Quite a lengthy one, took a while but I enjoyed it. Briony and Barrick are young twins who wind up in charge of their kingdom at the same time that long-quiet enemies, the Qar (basically evil elves) come to take back the kingdom for themselves. That part feels super familiar, but there are some other plot lines, a priestess taken to be one of hundreds of wives of a terrible ruler and some good non-human folk who find a boy dumped by the Qar and take him to their home. Excessively long but I’m interested in the rest of the series. 4 stars

12 The Forgotten Beasts of Eld: A fantasy about a wizard, herself the daughter and granddaughter of wizards, who can call fantastical beasts of legend. When a stranger brings her an infant, she slowly gets caught up in the drama of men outside her mountain home. Pretty, but not at WOWMAZING to me as reviews mostly expect. 3 stars

13 Player Piano: Computers, still of the punch card variety, have taken over society, determining how much of what we need and who will make it. The vast majority of jobs are done away with, mechanized, leaving most folk to either join the army (no real guns until safely abroad) or a sort of CCC fixing potholes n such. A handful of engineers become the only ones still with jobs, and thus their own social class, with their own justifications for why this is the right and important way for things to be. Paul Proteus is the son of the now-deceased former head of the society, and himself is en route to a successful career, before a bit too much compassion for the dispossessed gets him caught up with something bigger than himself. Good idea, took maybe a bit long to get where it was going. 3.5 stars

14 Project Hail Mary: Ryland Grace wakes up and doesn’t remember anything, not even his name. Over the course of the book his memories gradually come back, while he works out where he is and what he’s supposed to be doing – space, and saving the sun and thus Earth. A weird sort of plankton-like creature that lives in space is eating enough of the sun’s energy to create catastrophic climate change, and Ryland (and the two now-corpses in his ship) have been sent on a one-way mission to another star to try to learn why this star hasn’t been destroyed and send that information back to Earth. It’s the same author as The Martian, so lots of science, sarcasm, and scrambling to survive ensue. I actually started this one in the afternoon and ended up staying up late to finish the same day. 5 stars

15 Through Fiery Trials: The most recent Safehold book, and by far the most skippable one. Now that the holy war is over, some countries we haven’t focused on much are effed up and we spend far far too long talking about how to turn them around financially. Extremely don’t care about your investing in canals. Meanwhile, back in ‘our’ country, everyone’s spitting out babies like watermelon seeds from an especially seedy melon. The only actual plot-movement in the whole book is in the last chapter, which is a cliffhanger for some of the action we’ve now been waiting 10 MASSIVE books for. His editor’s asleep at the wheel. 1.5 stars

16 Pines: Ethan Burke is a Secret Service agent traveling to a tiny town on the trail of two other agents who have gone missing. His partner is killed in a crash getting to town, and he wakes up in the hospital without his wallet, phone, or anything else useful, and with the people in town mostly remarkably unhelpful. As he tries to get in contact with his work/family and eventually just to get the hell out of town, he eventually learns what dark secret the town is hiding. Good twist at the end, but…just somehow not as good as the other books I’ve ready by this guy, and WOW this main character can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’. 3 stars

17 Look to Windward: Somehow I didn’t realize that this is book 6 of 9 of a series I haven’t read any of, which explains why I felt like everything was VERY COMPLEX and it seemed like I was assumed to already know so much. Sorta unfair to rate this one, because I’d be very harsh, so…maybe I’ll start with book 1 and see how it goes.

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