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Joined 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Primarily a horror reader, but always down for some historical fiction and gay stuff.

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mikerickson's books

Naomi Salman: Nothing but the Rain (2023, Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom, 4 stars


4 stars

Sometimes novellas are just a touch too short and suffer for their brevity when I wish they would run a little longer. Others are so brief as to not really have anything to say at all. This one manages to avoid both pitfalls.

The book is posited as a journal of an older divorcée (maybe widow?) who dislikes people despite being a doctor in a former life. I'm always a sucker for epistolary, but there's an urgency to these extremely short passages that made me sit up and pay attention. Laverne's town has been under a constant rainstorm for an unknown length of time where the water literally wipes away your most recent memories. She's writing everything down in an attempt to stave off losing more memories and her very sense of self.

I enjoy speculative "what if this happened?" fiction when it presents a situation but doesn't overexplain it, …

KC Jones: Black Tide (2022) 4 stars


5 stars

This book s t r e s s e d me the fuck out, or: Worst Beach Day Ever!

Yes yes, female empowerment and strong leading women in media, but I also respect when a book gives us just an absolute fuckup of a person who knows and even describes herself as a human car wreck as a protagonist. Beth somehow manages to land a house- and dog-sitting gig for a super rich couple on an isolate stretch of the Oregon Coast, and she's just waiting for things to go south because they always do. After ~accidentally~ hooking up with the pathetic next-door neighbor who's clearly Going Through It™ and waking up to literal monsters slicing and dicing up everyone who comes across them, that's exactly what happens.

This is a tight plot that knows what kind of story it wants to tell and sticks to it. Both of …

Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray (2011) 4 stars

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a Gothic and philosophical novel by Oscar Wilde, first …


4 stars

Granted I'm sitting on a pretty small sample size, but what few ~Classics~ from Victorian England that I have read, I have enjoyed, and this was largely more of the same with an every so slight paranormal twist. Which is to say I got exactly what I wanted out of this book.

This was a book club read and two of us (including me) read the normal version with 20 chapters, whereas the other two read the Uncensored version which came out a year earlier and was much shorter. It was interesting comparing the differences in real time and the discussion added to my reading experience. Also the particular printing that I read had plenty of helpful footnotes explaining specific references Wilde was making and pointing out individual sentences or paragraphs that were revised/edited from the original uncensored version that also made the read more enjoyable for me; I don't …

Sasha Issenberg: Lie Detectives (2024, Columbia Global Reports) 4 stars


4 stars

The author dedicates this book to his daughter, with the tagline, "may you live in less interesting times." Seems apt, considering how this book highlights a nascent industry of counter-disinformation firms that have sprung up in what feels like the very recent past. Within the past eight years our electoral systems went through a more significant change than appears on the surface.

This is more of a recap of events that have already happened rather than a set of guidelines to follow or a prognostication of things to come. Approach it more as a postmortem of the post-2016 environment, where Democratic and liberal electioneers were just trying every strategy to see what stuck. Turns out, quite a few different approaches worked, and the chapter detailing the 2017 Alabama special election to fill Senator Jeff Sessions' vacancy was particularly interesting.

Society may seem divided at the moment (and this isn't a …

Anna Pitoniak: The Helsinki Affair (EBook, 2023, Simon & Schuster) 3 stars



3 stars

I haven't read many spy thrillers specifically which feels like it's own distinct little niche, but this did feel similar to the ones that I have: a daring inciting incident followed by a lot of very careful plotting and scheming. Every scenario has to be gamed out in its entirety before any action can be taken... which means that by definition there isn't going to be a lot of action.

It mostly worked here though. This was helped by the fact that the plot kept jumping between the present and the late 80's, following both a woman whose intelligence career is on an upward trajectory faster than even she anticipated and her father who was also a spy with plenty of skeletons in his closet. They felt completely distinct from each other, and had their own ways of interacting with the overall theme of guilt.

The scenes where agents were …