A dystopian world. Climate change, melting ice caps, floods, torrential rains, no electrical power left, no running water, polluted rivers and lakes, collapse of society, the whole nine yards. And that is just what happens before the beginning of the book. Most people have lost the ability to dream.
“The only people still able to dream are North America’s Indigenous people, and it is their marrow that holds the cure for the rest of the world.“
French has lost his family, but finds a new one. They flee the cities and treck north through the woods, hoping to find a safe place.
That‘s pretty much it for the first half of the book. Running, hunting, minimal plot. Plus a little backstory in the shape a few origin stories of some of the members of the group. More backstory would have been nice. Slow build-up and glacial pace after the initial intro to the story and world.
This had—at least in parts—the feel of magical realism, without the magic, if that makes sense. The grimness of the schools and the marrow thieves was mostly in the off, hinted at and not really explored. This was more about the relationships of those that survived and their decisions how to live and where to go from there. If the characters and their budding relationship are the point of the story though, more character development would have been nice.
So, whilst the idea of this story was a good one, it wasn‘t really my cup of tea.
Content warning: several fairly foggy mentions of rape, one not so foggy one. Murder, genocide, medical experimentation and more.
Well, watching too much TV. I also try to keep updated with the James Webb Space Telescope. I am not having much luck with finding a decent livestream.
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has reached its deep-space destination, but it’ll be a while yet before the $10 billion observatory starts its science work.
On Monday (Jan. 24), Webb slipped into orbit around the Earth-sun Lagrange Point 2, a gravitationally stable spot in space about 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) from our planet. The arrival ended a month-long journey for the highly anticipated observatory, but there are still a lot of boxes to tick before Webb gets down to business.
“We expect the first science images from JWST to come back in about five months,” Amber Straughn, the deputy project scientist for Webb science communications, said during a webcast Webb event on Monday.
Long wait ahead of us! In the meantime I finally watched Venom. I am only slightly behind. It was ok, maybe a bit on the too silly side. If you are looking for a bit of mindless entertainment, this might hit the spot.
It goes without saying that I watched the last season of The Expanse. Another one that was just ok. It was clear that they would not be able to wrap up the remaining books and Babylon‘s Ashes was a pretty good spot in the series to “stop”. It is debatable if including the teaser that is Strange Dogs was just mean and maybe confusing for those that have not read the books. Rumour has it that there might be movies covering the remaining books. We shall see.
And no sourdough bread baking this weekend. I am wearing my lazy hat for now.
Yes, yes, I do not want to buy new books, instead I want to reduce my TBR pile of owned books. What can I say, I am weak on occasion… I rarely get to visit well-stocked bookshops, so when I do, the temptation is just too great. I am lucky I got out of there with only three new books!
The quiz champion reveals his easy way to more general knowledge. When was the Prague Defenestration? How many bits are in a byte? What is the name of the capital of Bolivia? It doesn’t matter whether it’s a job, aptitude test, job interview or conversation at a party – with good general knowledge you can score points everywhere. Sebastian Klussmann, popular hunter from the successful German quiz show “Gefragt – Gejagt” reveals how you can increase your knowledge without much effort. For example, when you go on a walk through the city and find out to whom a street name goes back to. Or explores geography through football. Or combine topics with emotions by letting grandmother show you your favorite flowers in the garden. An entertaining book that helps you to simply educate yourself – up to quiz maturity.
Translation of the German book blurb
Why did I get this book? I like the quiz show and I like him. My mum does so as well and I got this partly to share it with her.
A climate alliance – our last chance? Climate change – a catastrophe of unforeseen proportions is upon us. But then the superpowers China, Russia and the USA are taking a radical path: They are forming a climate alliance to save the earth. Their demands dramatically interfere with people’s lives, and not everyone wants to accept that. The opponentsare willing to do whatever it takes. The situation comes to a head – and suddenly the fate of us all lies in the hands of an anxious cook and an inconspicuous secret agent.
Translation of the German book blurb
Why did I get this book? Because my mum keeps mentioning it and also its sequel. So another one to read and share with her. I actually think the blurb sounds a bit silly. China, Russia and the USA form an alliance. And pigs fly. Anyway….
Inspiring equal parts wonder and wanderlust, Atlas Obscuracelebrates over 600 of the strangest and most curious places in the world. […]
Atlas Obscura revels in the weird, the unexpected, the overlooked, the hidden, and the mysterious. Every page expands our sense of how strange and marvelous the world really is. And with its compelling descriptions, hundreds of photographs, surprising charts, maps for every region of the world, it is a book you can open anywhere.
Part of the book blurb
Why did I get this book? Because it is pretty! And it shows lots of weirdly interesting places. A great coffee-table book and conversation starter. And yes, I will share it with my mum. Trivia is fun! Geography is cool!
After a very long hiatus by the authors, the story has moved on by three years as well. I was back in the world of Saga immediately, even though I haven‘t re-read any of the previous volumes. Welcome back, Saga!
Single issues are short, although this one is longer than most with 47 pages. So saying more without spoiling anything is tricky. Good so far. Looking forward to the next one in about 4 weeks.
Content warning: rating M for Mature, aka one graphic, gratuitous sex scene. Which I could have done without.
PSS: I am sure the cover art by Fiona Staples for that new Fartbox album is gorgeous… and no, I never knew that the blue text is Esperanto.
Thisweek‘s topic / January 25: New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2021
I generally read more new-to-me-authors these days than known ones. I used to read series after series, but have changed my reading habits in the last few years. I already posted my Top Ten Tuesday—the ten best books of 2021 and I will not mention those books again. Funnily enough those were mostly known-to-me-authors. Oh well.
Rosewater (The Wormwood Trilogy, #1) by Tade Thompson wasn‘t quite as good for me. An alien lands on Earth, burrows into the ground and presents as a illuminated dome. We follow Kaaro, a „sensitive“, in the employ of some shady secret agency. His life story is told in three separate timelines, set around the biodome. He is a thief, he is sexist, he felt like a clueless, self-centered, mysoginistic idiot to me. I can appreciate the inventive world building, but the rest was a slog.
Bloodchild by Octavia E. Butler — short story. A human colony living as little more than slaves, joined to an insectoid race. Love, possesiveness and self-sacrifice are themes. Butler voices her surprise in the afterword, that readers see this as a story of slavery. But are we looking at symbiosis or at a parasitic relationship? Is it really consent in a situation, where your personal rights have been curtailed and there are no equal rights? I think not.
Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1) by Octavia E. Butler — Lilith wakes up into a world of bipeds reminiscent of Cthullu with a touch of octopus biology. The world as she knows it has ended, the Onkali have rescued her and other humans. A classic. It was ok, but I won‘t continue with the series.
Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur — A queer rom-com debut with a social media astrologer. Give me a break! And Darcy, an actuary, her terrible blind date, is a total bitch (at first). Gorgeous though. Fake relationship trope! Well written, very readable. Oh, this is supposed to be a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. I didn‘t see it, to be honest, besides the first name.
Becoming by Michelle Obama — Michelle Obama‘s memoir, from her early childhood to the end of her second term as FLOTUS. Entertaining.
Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell — potential m/m romance in an SF setting, marriage of convenience, potentially a murder mystery and court intrigue, hints of space opera.
Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badge — YA. UF/magical realism, set in our place and time, with ghosts, vampires and fae added to the mix. Author and female main character are Lipan Apache. Ellie is 17 years old and has the power to call animal ghosts into being.
The Story of Human Language by John McWhorter — the author covers a vast amount of linguistic topics. The author‘s casual dismissal of places and people outside of the US was a bit irritating at times. It was interesting.
Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron — Enjoyable, humorous, not too silly and not too much drama. There is baking and sourdough starter and delicious Indian/East African food… If you are looking for a book that represents Islam and Muslim life, this is not it. If you are looking for light romance and great food though, you are bang on.
Regency romance with a touch of magic. Governess trope! False identity! Scotland! Rugged Scotsmen! Damsel in distress! Treacherous antagonist! Drama!
A young woman runs away from her English home, to find something she has lost, and goes to Scotland under a false name, pretending to be a governess. The master of the house is immensely interesting, as he is wont to be in a sweet romance of this type. The situation gets complicated, with that lie of her assumed identity hovering in the background. And what is happening to that magic?
The writing was a little rough in the first chapter. And the tiny amount of magic felt like a gimmick at first, propelling the story from pure historical romance to something a little different.
The plot didn‘t hold any big surprises for most of the book. However, when the requisite amount of drama occurred, it was well done and the expected reveals were very entertaining. Good amount of action and the above mentioned damsel in distress was not a wimp.
The characters were likable and lively. The switching points of view added a nice layer to the story telling. The characters from her other two books, Her Caprice and The Telling Touch, are related to this book and should probably be read first. The books are standalone though, it didn’t feel as if I was missing anything.
Bottomline, this was a lot of fun! I might read more by the author at some point.
Thisweek‘s topic / January 18: 2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To
I changed that “excited to read“ to „added to my want-to-read“. Excited is a strong word. Those that I was excited about I pre-ordered and read in 2021. As I am very, very stingy with adding books to my want-to-read-shelf, I ended up with just another 10 books. And here they are:
The Rain Heron by Robbie Arnott — „A gripping novel of myth, environment, adventure, and an unlikely friendship, from an award-winning Australian author“ — I have no idea why this is on my shelf. Pretty cover. Deleted.
Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley — YA mystery. Not really my thing. But my reading buddies loved it and it sounds tempting enough. I guess this part of the blurb did it: “Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman)“. Because I quite liked a book by a different author from an Anishinaabe community, Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice. Does not really make sense, I know.
We Are Satellites by Sarah Pinsker — „about one family and the technology that divides them“ — contemporary setting, about a brain implant that helps to get ahead. Not sure about this one, deleted.
The Audacity of Sara Grayson by Joani Elliott — a nice sounding piece of chicklit. Mother dies, last wish is for her daughter to finish her final book in a bestselling series. Possible shenanigans. I might keep it for now.
Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim — another YA. A retelling of The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen, one of my favourite fairytales. Or The Six Swans by the Brothers Grimm. I am actually not sure which one, they are almost the same thing. Anyway, it tempted me.
Glimmer by Marjorie B Kellogg — „This new cli-fi epic chronicles a future NYC wracked by climate change and follows the individuals who must make the most of what remains to survive.“ — or should I rather go for Kim Stanley Robinson? This one here sounds like more fun.
Noor by Nnedi Okorafor — „From Africanfuturist luminary Okorafor comes a new science fiction novel of intense action and thoughtful rumination on biotechnology, destiny, and humanity in a near-future Nigeria.“ — I still haven‘r read anything by Okorafor. Or should I rather start with Binti?
New York Times bestselling Temeraire series that started with the beloved His Majesty’s Dragon which has won fans of Napoleonic-era military history, Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels, and Patrick O’Brian’s seafaring adventures.
From the book blurb
The story picks up with Laurence, Temeraire and their crew still in China, after the events of book #2. They receive new orders and must make haste towards Istanbul, where they meet with unexpected problems. All the while Napoleon‘s war with Prussia is heating up.
I liked the plot very much. It was too much expositional writing for my taste though. I skimmed quite a bit of the denser text from the middle onwards. When there is action, it is very well written. I liked their trek to Istanbul and the last few chapters the most.
The feral dragons were precious. The dragons go through a much more interesting development than any of the human characters in this book.
I know this is based on the Napoleonic period. I still wouldn’t have minded if the author had left out the institutionalized racism.
Will I read the next book? Probably not. Books 2 & 3 were ok, not more.
Attenborough recounts the history of the natural world, „from the emergence of tiny one-celled organisms in the primeval slime more than 3,000 million years ago to apelike but upright man, equally well adapted to life in the rain forest of New Guinea and the glass canyons of a modern metropolis.“
Not what I expected—which happens when you forgo reading the blurb. Not sure what I was thinking. But I didn‘t get this audiobook for the story, I got it to listen to him. David Attenborough can tell me anything and I would listen. The man is an international treasure. I love him, probably like many other people growing up on his TV documentaries about nature. In retrospect I would probably have enjoyed this more with moving pictures on a TV screen though. As in: a re-watch of his „Life“ series!
I met some interesting critters, but the book could not completely captivate me. For me it lacked narrative tension. It felt a bit like ticking off a checklist. It needed more. Still, David Attenborough…
ebook, 16 pages, publication: January 26th 2022 by Tor Books
“An alien fungal infection has ravaged a faraway planet, turning all but six of the colonists into ravenous arinkiris. Inyama, a mycologist, is her species’ last hope. But it’s not expertise her fellow survivors want from her.“
Blurb from tor.com
SciFi-horror. When I read the title, I immediately had to think of fungi and of the zombie ant fungi. Maybe I am watching too many nature documentaries. Anyway, space ship crashing on foreign body, settlers not doing too well on the inhospitable planet and… fungi.