muccamukk: Bill standing in front of the TARDIS bookshelf. (DW: Queen of Books)
[personal profile] muccamukk
What I Just Finished Reading

Still No Word by Shannon Webb-Campbell
I read this slowly and several times. I have trouble writing about poetry, but I liked the clarity and feeling here.

Chalk by Paul Cornell
Hard to know what to rate this one. I think it does what it's trying to do with great effectiveness, but I'm not really interested in what it's trying to do? The story does claustrophobic, creepy and bleak, pretty well wall to wall, which I think is very true to the author's experiences, but like with Gaiman's Ocean at the End of the Lane (with which this shared a lot of elements), I'm not that invested.

I liked a lot of the struggle for significance in the face of meaningless cruelty, and the storytelling itself was delightfully creepy (for those into horror), but it was a hard read.


The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice by Patricia Bell Scott
I knew very little about Mrs Roosevelt and nothing about Pauli Murray going in, and loved finding out about them. The book primarily focuses on Murray and her life, with the interactions with ER highlighted and context of ER's life at those times added. It doesn't shy away from their weaknesses and mistakes, which is nice in a positive bio. I felt that it gave me a strong understanding of both women, and of how their interactions with politics changed over the years. I now want to read bios of all the other amazing women they crossed paths with along the way.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, narrated by Kate Burton
I really enjoyed this. It's sort of meandering and reflective, with time jumps and backstory, but I just liked spending time living with these characters. There was a core of good intentions and kindness in most of them, even if most of them didn't always live up to that. The period setting was phenomenal.

The Quartermaster: Montgomery C. Meigs, Lincoln's General, Master Builder of the Union Army by Robert O'Harrow, narrated by Tom Perkins
Perhaps a little heavy on lauding our hero, rather than letting his achievements stand on their own, but absolutely fascinating for all that. I would have liked more on the mundane logistics of the Civil War supply system, and maybe a bit less building things before the war, though the War Department politics were very interesting.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, narrated by Bahni Turpin
I can't figure out if this book is not as clever as it thinks it is, or if I'm just not smart enough to get it. A problem I have with a lot of litfic, to be honest.

I was initially cooler on it, but reading some interviews with the author gave me a better idea of what he was doing, and that helped my appreciation of the book.

I admit that I did not find the surface narrative of Cora's escape that interesting, though I liked Cora herself, and it was kind of neat to pick out threads from various real slave narratives. The alternate history elements in the Carolinas were also pretty neat, though they didn't really tie into the railway being an actual railway, which frankly I don't get the point of.

There were themes of story telling and who gets to have a voice/tell the story of enslaved people, which I didn't really pick up on myself, but appreciated after hearing the author talk about it.

All in all I liked it, but don't really get the buzz.


Adrift on the Sea of Rains (The Apollo Quartet, #1) by Ian Sales, narrated by Jeffrey Schmidt
Competent alternate history, which is mostly enjoyable because of the massive amount of NASA nerdery. Though props to the author for starting the series with such an unlikable protagonist (the kind of man who thinks he's the best ever, but is clearly not someone who should be in charge of a gas station, let alone a moon base). The tech conceit was a bit handwavey, but it got the story where it was going, and I enjoyed how it unfolded.

The Eye With Which The Universe Beholds Itself (The Apollo Quartet, #2) by Ian Sales, narrated by Jeffrey Schmidt
Again with pleasing NASA nerdery (though stop explaining abbreviations! anyone this far down the NASA rabbit hole knows what LEO stands for, let alone USAF! I liked the conflict between civilian NASA and the Air Force space corps.

However, the hero is more or less why I don't read SF by dudes unless it's recced. His entire character is basically Sad Because His Wife Left Him. There are no significant women in the story other than the ex-wife.

I also didn't believe the central plot point, which I won't spoil, but will say was a handwave too far in terms of science. You can't just wave the word "Quantum" around and expect me to believe it. I might not have minded as much if I'd liked the hero, but here we are.

Then Will The Great Ocean Wash Deep Above (The Apollo Quartet, #3) by Ian Sales (Goodreads Author), narrated by Trina Nishimura
I mean, It's always nice to read an AU where the Mercury 13 got to go to space, even if they continued to get screwed over by NASA, but I didn't find the plot of this one very compelling. Sales clearly couldn't think of much to do with female astronauts other than have them do the same stuff all the guys had done and then cheat them out of the moon walk, so half the plot is about a male deep-sea diver who is looking for a spy satellite's cargo. I basically felt like I was reading a non-fiction book about the US spy program, with a Korean War AU on the side. Thin on both characterisation and plot. Author describes make and model of every plane, train and automobile in story. Does not need to do this.


Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan, narrated by Suzanne Toren
I know everyone read this when it came out ages ago, but I admit to having read the preface and then skipped to the bits about T.E. Lawrence, at the time, so this is my first go through.

I really appreciate the historical perspective, and how the author kept focused on the conference, but provided the background for each of the major regions and disputes. The personalities of all the diplomats were very well drawn, and I liked the heavy use of quotes and original sources. They helped keep me engaged in the storyline.

The conclusion regarding the spin out from the peace conference was very interesting, and I'll have to check out more books on the topic.


What I'm Reading Now
Theoretically a couple things, practically not much.

What I'm Reading Next

No idea.
Going on a trip starting tomorrow, so probably a lot of romance novels. *remembers to charge e-reader*
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