Recent Reads, November 2023

Reading time: about 3 min.
reading  books  science-fiction  fantasy  reviews 

I spent a lot of November reading. We had a rest week at work, which definitely helped, but I also just felt like reading a lot. So I present, with short opinions and in no particular order, stuff I done read last month.

  • Chaos Terminal, Mur Lafferty. I only caught the series name at the end and I laughed myself silly. This is a fun murder mystery in space once again featuring Mallory Viridian and the murder that surround her. This time, people from her past have come to the station, creating unwitting–or witting–chaos, as needs demand.
  • Power Unbound, Freya Marske. The final book in the Last Binding trilogy provides a satisfying end to the series. I wish there had been more exploration of the power dynamic between Jack and Alan and if you’re used to fade to black sex scenes, this is not a series for you. I very much liked the resolution of the central conundrum, but boy howdy, there were a lot of coincidences.
  • Kaiju Preservation Society, John Scalzi. This is a very Scalzi book and if you like his writing, you’ll like this one. This is definitely one of his lighter books, more along the lines of Red Shirts than, say, Zoe’s Tale (still mad about Enzo, bruh) and it skewers the shit out of megalomaniacal corporate dipshits which is very much up my alley these days.
  • System Collapse, Martha Wells. Murderbot doing things like protecting squishy humans instead of watching Sanctuary Moon. ART’s also a strong presence, and Murderbot starts to think about the implications of being able to fry a governor module. Enjoyed quite a bit.
  • I Never Liked You Anyway, Jordan Kurella. This novella is a retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice in which Eurydice is a music student and Orpheus is technically a music student but is more of a That Guy. I don’t know if people who didn’t go to college in the 90s are familiar with the That Guy phenomenon, but there is invariably some dude who is pretentious as hell, doesn’t shower, and complains that the musical Cats doesn’t have a plot (ok, maybe that was just Western’s Honors College That Guy). Anyhow, That Guy gets his comeuppance and Eurydice learns that what she thought were failings on her part are actually great strengths.
  • Bookshops and Bonedust, Travis Baldree. This is a prequel to the first book and is, honestly, about as memorable. It’s cozy, but it’s not great writing, but it was a good way to spend a few hours reading and not thinking too hard.
  • Illusion of a Boar, Celia Lake. This is the latest installment of Celia’s long-running Albion series, which posits a magical England hidden amongst regular England but without racism, slavery, or TERFiness. And with actual worldbuilding and not just leaning on creaky tropes from boarding school books. I love these books and find them comforting to read, and can’t recommend them highly enough.
  • Pure, Linda Kay Klein. This is about Christian evangelical purity culture and the damage it does, especially to young women. Klein admits that her sample size is small when it comes to her interviews, but there are lots of footnotes. She also feature the story of a trans man and his journey through purity culture. There’s also a lot of autobiography in here, which I didn’t mind, but this isn’t a scholarly thesis, this is a book of non-fiction that’s accessible to anyone. I appreciated that Klein was open about her sample size of interviewees and the limitations therein and did not try to extrapolate to wider groups of people For instance, most of the people she talks to are white and she acknowledges that Black women enmeshed in purity culture probably have very different experiences. So a good starting place, but not the whole story.

I’m currently reading Naomi Kritzer’s Liberty’s Daughter and Alix E. Harrows’s Starling House but my up next list is pretty epic:

  • Paladin’s Faith, T. Kingfisher. Not gonna lie, this might get currently read tonight.
  • Ember of a New World, Ishtar Watson
  • Consort of Fire, Kit Rocha
  • Starter Villain, John Scalzi
  • Babel, R.F. Kuang
  • The Green Man’s Heir, Juliet E. McKenna
  • The Saint of Bright Doors, Vajra Chandrasekera
  • …and anything else that I’ve pre-ordered