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Pentapod

pentapod@bookwyrm.social

Joined 4 months, 3 weeks ago

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finished reading Babel by R. F. Kuang

R. F. Kuang: Babel (Hardcover, 2022, Harper Voyager) 4 stars

From award-winning author R. F. Kuang comes Babel, a thematic response to The Secret History …

This was an amazing, brilliant book set in an alternative-history Oxford in the 1800s, an Oxford in which, in addition to the colleges that really exist, there is an additional tower called "Babel" where the translation students find pairs of matched words to create enchanted silver bars that power the British Empire. This book is one of the highly deserving novels that should have received a Hugo nomination in 2024 but was left off through prejudiced and imcompetent shenanigans on the part of the selections committee (which is a story in itself); suffice it to say, it definitely deserved the nomination and is well worth a read.

Samit Basu: The City Inside (Hardcover, 2022, Tordotcom) 4 stars

“They'd known the end times were coming but hadn’t known they’d be multiple choice.”

Joey …

Livestreamers influencing the future in India

4 stars

I enjoyed this book, which revolves around livestreamers and a dystopian Delhi not too far in the future. However, I think someone who is unfamiliar with livestreaming and TikTok culture might be a little lost reading it. The story revolves mainly around Joey, a Reality Controller (essentially a livestreamer manager/director) who has ended up managing her ex-boyfriend, and Rudra, estranged younger son of a wealthy and influential family who starts working for Joey. Everyone in the book is confronting past genocides and current political corruption and problems (growing fascism, surveillance state, vast wealth gaps). Joey and Rudra start looking for ways to influence the future of Delhi and the country. I found the ending was a bit abrupt and seemed like a bit of a sudden wrap up after the main body of the book, very much felt as if a sequel is in order here.

reviewed The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (The Folk Of The Air, #1)

Holly Black: The Cruel Prince (Paperback, Hot Key Books) 4 stars

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were …

Very YA but does show actual character growth

3 stars

Coworker convinced me to read this trilogy so I grabbed the audiobook from the local library, since the wait time was shorter than the text copy. The voice actor got a bit tedious after a while - she always sounds slightly on the verge of being whiny - but I can't hold that against the author. I read a lot of old, traditional fairy lore back as a kid so I'm aware of the dark, sinister side to the old-style fae and this book dived right into embracing that, which was fun. All the stuff about having to wear rowan berries and salt your food and mortals dancing themselves to death, has been kinda left out of more recent sparkles-and-unicorns-and-crystals type magic stuff. So, good to see the author had clearly done at least a little bit of research.

The story itself didn't grab me immediately - it's very Young …

Helen Macdonald, Sin Blaché: Prophet (2023, Grove/Atlantic, Incorporated, Grove Press) 4 stars

A real page-turner

5 stars

I have no memory of why I added this to my "to read" list but when I got to it, I had trouble putting it down again and read the entire thing in under two days. The story follows two men: Adam, a CIA agent who has brought being "unnoticeable" to the next level; and Rao, a UK civilian with an uncanny ability to detect what is true or not true. Paired up, they are brought in to investigate an unusual phenomenon: objects are appearing around a military base which appear to have been manifested through sheer nostalgia of the people nearby. From a cassette tape to a teddy bear to an entire greasy spoon diner, the objects have simply appeared with no explanation, and have a captivating effect on the people for whom they embody nostalgia. Together Adam and Rao attempt to get to the bottom of the mystery …

Nick Hornby: Funny Girl (Hardcover, 2016, Turtleback Books) 5 stars

Kind of a mockumentary novel about a women in early UK comedy

5 stars

This is a very convincing fake history of an actress from Blackpool whose one dream is to become the next Lucille Ball. The novel revolves around her move to London, and lucky break in getting signed to a BBC series called "Barbara (and Jim)", and the show's writers, producer, and co-star. It's extremely believable and convincing to the point I actually had to google the actors to make sure they weren't actually real. While this story is made up, it's nonetheless an extremely convincing portrait of the industry at the time, with captivating characters who make you care very much about their futures.

Claudia Gray: Late Mrs. Willoughby (2023, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Vintage) 4 stars

Charming continuation of what I hope will be a long series

5 stars

A second book following The Murder of Mr. Wickham, in which many of our favourite Austen characters are once again gathered together, and of course, another death occurs for our intrepid young duo to investigate. Unlike many Austen spin-offs, these novels are well written (I mean, nothing can be up to Austen standards, but they're really pretty well done) and the choice to make the two protagonists children of characters in the Austen books means that they can observe all the characters we know and love but without needing to remain perfectly true to however Austen might have written them, since they didn't exist in her novels. I also especially like the austistic coding for young Darcy and how it's portrayed in the setting of the time. I definitely recommend these for Austen fans, especially those who enjoy a good murder mystery, but do read the first book before this …

Charles Stross: Halting State (Halting State, #1) (2007) 4 stars

Halting State is a novel by Charles Stross, published in the United States on 2 …

A fully second-person novel

3 stars

This is very odd to read as it's written entirely in the second person, despite switching between a few main characters. Interesting experiment but for an entire novel it's a bit tiring. It was written in 2007 and deals with a heist involving online computer games; and while Stross evidently had some experience with computer games at the time, and while I have seen far worse mistakes made by the likes of Gibson and Stephenson, nonetheless even with the most generous suspension of disbelief I really struggled with some of the "technical details" (since I personally have worked making online computer games since 2007, and know exactly why some of these things don't, or couldn't possibly, work that way). Still, if you aren't personally bothered by those details it's a decent plot - as long as you can wrap your head around the second person. Overall it was quite a …

Stephen Fry, Stephen Fry: Mythos (AudiobookFormat, 2017, Penguin) 4 stars

Stephen Fry's rather conversational telling of the Greek myths

4 stars

I was expecting something a little more formal or traditional I suppose, but instead this is a very conversational, casual style retelling of the Greek myths by Stephen Fry. If you listen to the audiobook, he narrates it himself, which is of course enjoyable. He's clearly read and distilled a ton of sources, but then recounts the stories in an approachable, simple, and amusing way - rather as if you're just sitting in a pub with him over a pint of beer while he tells you these stories. Not heavy on details but covers all the main and many of the minor characters and events.

reviewed Paladin's Faith by T. Kingfisher (The Saint of Steel, #4)

T. Kingfisher: Paladin's Faith (Red Wombat Studio) 4 stars

Marguerite Florian has spent her life acquiring and selling information, using whatever means necessary. When …

Another satisfying book in the Saint of Steel series

5 stars

Another satisfying book in the Saint of Steel series, better than the previous one IMO. Finally we find out what happened to Marguerite, and in the process also meet some wonderful new paladins, and get another step closer to finding out what did happen to the Saint of Steel ...

reviewed System Collapse by Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries, #7)

Martha Wells: System Collapse (Hardcover, 2023, Tordotcom) 4 stars

Am I making it worse? I think I'm making it worse.

Following the events in …

Another satisfying Murderbot treat!

5 stars

This seventh Murderbot story is a direct sequel, a part 2 even, to Network Effect, which was not actually the previous book published. So if it's been a couple years since you read Network Effect, it's worth doing a quick reread before starting this one as there are a lot of references to the events in that book which will be hard to keep track of unless it's fairly fresh in your memory. Or at least read a plot summary somewhere.

That said, Network Effect did seem to leave a lot of questions unanswered at the end, so getting a part 2 is wonderful and learning a bit more about ART and the organization ART is part of were an extra treat. I ended this book wanting an entire side series about Three and where they end up. Another satisfying Murderbot treat!