Reviews and Comments


Joined 2 years, 6 months ago

Reading for sanity, solace, meaning, meandering.

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reviewed Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler

Octavia E. Butler: Fledgling (Paperback, 2007, Warner Books) 4 stars

Shori is a mystery. Found alone in the woods, she appears to be a little …

True to form

4 stars

Sadly this was my last Octavia Butler novel, but it did not disappoint. Her penetrating use of the supernatural to explore human power dynamics is riveting, uncomfortable, and diverse.

Jeremy Jones: The Art of Shralpinism (Paperback, Mountaineers Books) 4 stars

Makes the title seem less corny

4 stars

I was a little turned off by the title, fearing a book full of "shredder bro" lingo. There is some, but it's written from a more humble place than I expected, and is full of advice that could improve my time in the mountains on a split board. I've never been into snowboarding movies, I know Jeremy Jones mostly through his nonprofit Protect Our Winters. There's only a bit about that, though the importance of climate change is given due weight. The content feels a little jumbled up, but comes across as sincere and reflects a lot of experience that is worth passing on.

Lisa Brideau: Adrift (2023, Sourcebooks, Incorporated, Sourcebooks Landmark) 4 stars

Climate migrants and sailing with amnesia

4 stars

Starts out as an amnesia plot thriller, which can be interesting but won't hold my interest without adding something else. It then gets into the characters and climate theme which it does well and thoughtfully. There's a little sci-fi woven in but it doesn't overreach, and works to provoke thoughts about what climate migration may look like.

Michael Pollan: The botany of desire (Paperback, 2002, Random House Trade Paperbacks) 4 stars

Every schoolchild learns about the mutually beneficial dance of honeybees and flowers: The bee collects …

The dance of plant and human desires

4 stars

The conceit - are plants using us more effectively than we use them? - still works over 20 years later. The stories still feel relevant even if they have since taken some unexpected turns. An interesting contrast to Camille Dungy's "Soil", but as a non-gardener they both have my admiration.

reviewed A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin (The Earthsea Cycle Series, #1)

Ursula K. Le Guin: A Wizard of Earthsea (EBook, 2012, Clarion Books) 4 stars

Originally published in 1968, Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea marks the first …

Entertaining and interesting in historical context

4 stars

I enjoyed this story for young adults while also appreciating how Le Guin weaves some deeper themes into something that appears a little formulaic at first. Savoring how one by one the mainstream expectations are broken, especially considering what those expectations would have been in 1968, made it an appealing read.

Michelle Min Sterling: Camp Zero (2023, Atria Books) 3 stars

Interesting climate fiction

3 stars

This was better than I expected from a random impulse read. It's a pretty good mix of characters in a climate-themed story that is consistent, makes some cultural commentary, and tries some unconventional narrative devices that work pretty well. There are scientist characters, but it's not a particularly science-driven story.

Lauren Groff: The Vaster Wilds (Paperback, 2023, Random House Large Print) 4 stars

A taut and electrifying novel from celebrated bestselling author Lauren Groff, about one spirited girl …

Meditative historical fiction

4 stars

A simple story of survival in the early colonial American wilderness gracefully deepens into poetic meditations on nature, geography, guilt, death, history, and culture.

Lauren Groff: Arcadia (AudiobookFormat, 2012, Recorded Books, Inc. and Blackstone Publishing) 4 stars

Is any way of living sane when you look closely?

4 stars

I love that this story which begins on a hippy commune really wrestles with the fact that people do attempt to create lifestyles that reject some of the insanities of our mainstream culture, and probably always have, but it rarely becomes the dreamed-of utopia. And for a publish date of 2012 there is an eerily familiar pandemic event that gives even more gravitas to a very convincing story.

Carsten Jensen: We, the Drowned (2010, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) 4 stars

A charmingly strange tour of seafaring history

4 stars

For me this was an introduction to Danish history via the island town of Marstal. Though I have some seafaring ancestry in the Dutch branch of my family, that was just enough keep my curiosity perked in these stories where the sea is always present. The human characters were foreign enough to keep me guessing, and they grew to inhabit a realistic historical world. Not sure how I came across this book, but glad I did.