Bigass Catch-Up Round

I have been extremely lazy about blogging and book reviews lately. I am not sure why, but I am going to try to be better. My goal has always been to do a review for every book I read even if not one person reads my blog, so I’ve clearly failed at that recently. But I am also way too lazy to do a full review for… let me count… 19 different books. So I’mma rush through! Yay, slipshod blogging!

Dreamsnake by Vonda McIntyre

Genre: fantasy

Length: 9:41:00

Her Grace’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

A fantasy set on a ruined Earth, Snake is a healer who, through the ignorance of others, loses one of her most effective and rare instruments of healing. This is the story of her quest to find another. The narrator was a little meh for me but despite that, this ended up on my “top books of 2022” list. 

The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz

Genre: sci-fi

Length: 112 pp

Her Grace’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Restless wanderer meets outdated but sentient robot and the two strike up an unlikely friendship. Lots of themes to unpack, including LGBT/ace relationships, hate crimes, and what it means to be human.

Children of Men by PD James

Genre: sci-fi

Length: 241 pp

Her Grace’s rating: 2 out of 5 stars

The youngest person on the planet is now in their 20s because no one can have babies anymore. Aside from the idea that not having so many freaking babies would be a good idea right now, this was one of the most boring books I ever actually completed. 

Akata Woman by Nnedi Okorafor

Genre: fantasy

Length: 404 pp

Her Grace’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I thought this was the conclusion of the Akata Witch books but I was happily incorrect! In this installation, Sunny and her friends come into their full power as Leopard People, Nigerian witches. The resulting quest they must complete to retrieve a magical object will leave them changed forever. One of my favorite YA series!

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Genre: memoir/nature writing

Length: 9:44:00

Her Grace’s rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Bryson turns his typical humor to his experience hiking the Appalachian Trail. Some kind of adventure ensues. I honestly don’t know why anyone thinks hiking the AT (or anything else that requires weeks on end of camping) sounds like a fun activity. It sounds like a miserable experience from start to finish.

The Past is Red by Catherynne Valente 

Genre: fantasy

Length: 150 pp

Her Grace’s rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Humans are the worst, and as proof, Valente sets her story on Garbagetown, a floating pile of trash upon which humans now live. It’s like Waterworld but even worse. This is the story of Tetley, how she got her name, ended up a pariah, and ultimately redeemed herself.

Salvaged by Madeleine Roux 

Genre: sci-fi

Length: 12:03:00

Her Grace’s rating: 2 out of 5 stars

A woman who is essentially a trauma cleaner takes a job on a spaceship out to clean up after a far-flung spaceship loses its crew. Only they were lost, they were changed. This should have been right up my alley – spaceships, alien spores, awesome female leads – but it was a drag for me. I just didn’t care about any of the characters and I thought it was fairly predictable.

The Removed by Brandon Hobson

Genre: contemporary fiction

Length: 272 pp

Her Grace’s rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The Echote family’s annual bonfire celebration is approaching and they’re making plans. It is the first time in 15 years that they have begun to address the pain caused by the death of Ray-Ray, the oldest son, and the impact it had on each of them. I loved how Cherokee myth was woven throughout the whole heartbreaking story. 

Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian 

Genre: fantasy

Length: 434 pp

Her Grace’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This is a feminist retelling of “The Lady of Shallott.” I tend to give higher ratings to Arthurian stories because I love them so, which is probably why I gave this one 3.5. It wasn’t actually all that feminist or even very original. Elaine of Shallott, Lancelot, Guinevere, Arthur, and Morgan all grow up together on Avalon, the only place where magic is allowed. Then Arthur becomes king and everything unravels. There wasn’t a whole lot of interesting or unique elements to this one.

Stolen Focus by Johann Hari 

Genre: nonfiction

Length: 345 pp

Her Grace’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Another book for my top reads of 2022. This book covered the many reasons why our collective attention span is evaporating. It’s not all just because of mobile phones and social media, either, though those don’t help at all. Fascinating read.

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone 

Genre: sci-fi

Length: 4:16:00

Her Grace’s rating: 2 out of 5 stars

At least it was short. I honestly have no fucking clue what was going on in this story. Maybe it’s one I need to eyeball read instead of listen to. It has a fascinating premise, but it just wasn’t one for me, perhaps.

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi 

Genre: sci-fi

Length: 8:02:00

Her Grace’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I love John Scalzi, and Wil Wheaton is one of my all-time favorite narrators. This book, though, was not one of my fave Scalzi creations. It was fine, which IMO for a Scalzi book is better than most of what is out there. But I thought it was a bit boring, maybe because at least part of it was based on decisions characters made with regard to Covid. I’m fucking sick of Covid. We’re living it; I do not want my entertainment to be about it. That said, it was a fun story about a delivery guy who gets sacked, delivers to the right place at the right time, and ends up with a sweet new job of lifting things in an alternate Greenland where dinosaur-like things called kaiju are actively trying to kill everyone.

Longbourn by Jo Baker 

Genre: historical fiction

Length: 13:31:00

Her Grace’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Pride and Prejudice but from the perspective of the downstairs. Delightful, and another top book of 2022 for me. 

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson 

Genre: sci-fi

Length: 468 pp

Her Grace’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I’ve read it before and it was as much fun this time as it was the first time. Only this time, I confess, instead of being absolutely blown away by the bleeding edge high tech stuff it described, I heard the beep boop boing sound of an old modem connecting slowly to the web. LOL. Still, one of my favorites and always a highly recommended book to read for any sci-fi lover.

The Lamplighters by Vonda McIntyre 

Genre: mystery

Length: 8:34:00

Her Grace’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A dual timeline story about three lighthouse keepers in the early 1970s and a reporter in the early 1990s trying to solve the mystery of what happened to them when they disappeared. Based on the true story of the keepers at the Maiden Rock lighthouse, who really did disappear and whose story really is a mystery.

Matrix by Lauren Groff 

Genre: historical fiction

Length: 257 pp

Her Grace’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Lais of Marie de France were a very popular collection of fables written by a woman in the 12th century. The true identity of Marie de France is not, however, known. This story takes one theory of her identity – that she was Abbess Mary at the convent in Reading – and breathes life into it. This book is pretty short but it took me ages to read because I kept going back to reread a beautiful line here and there. They were almost ALL beautiful lines, hence the time it took me to read it. My very favorite read of 2022 so far. 

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell 

Genre: historical fiction

Length: 12:42:00

Her Grace’s rating: 3 out of 5 stars

A fictionalized account of Shakespeare’s life, wife, and children, including his son Hamnet who died when he was 11. A lovely, quiet book.

A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight 

Genre: mystery/contemporary fiction

Length: 390 pp

Her Grace’s rating: 3 out of 5 stars

A pretty standard mystery – who killed this housewife, why, and who really was she – set in a snobbish wealthy neighborhood of Brooklyn. It was a fun and fast read but entirely forgettable once you finish.

anxiouspeople

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (trans. by Neil Smith) 

Genre: contemporary fiction

Length: 336 pp

Her Grace’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

A bank robber tries to rob a cashless bank and then, in a panic, runs into an apartment in the middle of a viewing, accidentally taking all the people inside hostage. Let the stranger bonding commence. But not in a Stockholm Syndrome way, in a genuine let’s-make-friends way.

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