Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid [Kindle, $13.99]
I made a note of this book after seeing an interview with Kiley Reid by Trevor Noah. Trevor endorsed her book, and I figure he knows good books.
Interestingly, it’s centers around a black babysitter taking care of a white child in a supermarket, where she is accosted by store security on suspician of kidnapping.
i started reading it before the most recent momentum from the Black Lives Matter movement kicked in; it turned out to be serendipitious reading material.
And interesting, and entertaining. Trevor didn’t let me down.
Everything Scrabble by Edley, Joe, Williams, John, Gallery Books
At the beginning of the pandemic, I tried playing Scrabble online with folks. I got stomped. Just crushed.
I’m not a Scrabble officianado. I enjoy the game, but I haven’t played in decades, and I had no idea what a “bingo” was.
So I read up, started practicing, and now I can confidently say I am no better, but now I know what a “bingo” is.
The Glass Hotel By Emily St. John Mandel
By the author of Station 11, which was fantastic.
This was a fine read. It had a story, but felt more like a collection of character sketches. I don’t mean that in necessarily a bad way, I stayed engaged throughout. The ending got a bit supernatural for my taste, in what was otherwise a very grounded novel.
The plot involves a Madoff-like Ponzi scheme and an isolated hotel, and the characters that inhabit both.
Worth a read, but try Station 11 first.
I liked it well enough to try some of her other works.
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe: A Novel by Charles Yu
This is fine.
Definitely melancholic, and there’s interesting worldbuilding with a blur between time travel and inhabiting fictional universes, but father issues aren’t my topic of choice.
Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman [Kindle, $8.99]
Great book of short stories, I guess you would call them, each describing a potential afterlife. A writer friend recommended this, and it did not disappoint.
Funny, interesting, thought-provoking. 10/10, would read again.
The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia: A Novel by Mary Helen Stefaniak [Kindle, $9.99]
Loved this novel.
I came across it because I was taking an SAT practice test with my son, and one of the questions had an excerpt from this novel. The excerpt was probably the most amusing bit of writing I’ve ever seen in a standardized test so I needed to get the rest of it.
There’s some fun literary fugues going on in this book… a person tells a story about someone who then tells a story about someone who then tells a story and so on about 7 layers down. And then, when you’ve finished the book, you can visit the Baghdad, Georgia website, and go one level up from the novel. There are layers, people.
All in all, this is a rollicking, amusing, touching and well-written novel, probably my favorite this year.
I picked up the other couple works by Stefanick, and they did not disappoint either.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers Book 1) by Becky Chambers [Kindle, $6.99]
This was an alternative family sci-fi story, like Firefly. Put a bunch of different personalities in a small ship and watch them bond. There’s some decent world building going on here, but not enough that I needed to look for Book 2.
There is a decent message here about accepting different cultures, sexualities, etc.
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson [Kindle, $12.99]
An odd and interesting tale of children who spontaneously catch fire, and the nanny hired to take care of them.
I’m not sure what the author is trying to say with this story. Something about class, and wealth, maybe?
At any rate, a very engaging tale.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North [Kindle]
Loved this book.
Claire North takes a cool premise and explores it wonderfully, with an engaging plot.
The premise: Some people live their life over and over. After they die, they restart at the beginning, remembering their previous loops at age 3 or 4. It gives a time-traveler-esque feel to the story line, and the conceit is well executed.
The butterfly effect is handled ok, but there remains the Grandfather’s Sperm Paradox* which, if considered closely, unravels some of the plot.
But, there is so much awesomeness in this one, I don’t mind a little hand waving.
*The Grandfather’s Paradox states you wink out of existence if you go back in time and kill your grandfather, but really all you need to do is bump him a little.
The only portrayal I’ve seen of this is in the very enjoyable movie “About Time”, where a man learns he can travel back along his own timeline and change his history. He discovers if he travels back further than the conception of his child, he ends up with a different child in the present.
Out of Spite, Out of Mind (Magic 2.0 Book 5) by Scott Meyer (Kindle)
Decent mind candy as usual. He takes a fun premise (a secret computer file that contains reality, and can be edited, so some people find it and make themselves magicians) and plays with it in amusing ways.
I’m hoping at some point that he starts cracking into the mystery of the file. But maybe he’s going to milk this for as many books as he can before a Big Reveal. Or maybe he hasn’t thought of the Big Reveal.
At any rate, if you like the first 4, you’ll like this one just fine.