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Not so much a blog; just lots of books

Currently reading

Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World
Joseph E. Meany, Les Johnson
Progress: 85/245pages
Good Omens
Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Martin Jarvis
The Poppy War
R. F Kuang
Engineering Animals: How Life Works
Alan Mcfadzean, Mark Denny
Progress: 125/314pages
The Rise of Yeast: How the Sugar Fungus Shaped Civilization
Nicholas P. Money
Conservation of Shadows
Yoon Ha Lee
Progress: 22%
Le premier jour
Marc Levy
Progress: 180/496pages
Moby-Dick: or, The Whale (Penguin Classics)
Herman Melville
Manifold: Time
Stephen Baxter, Chris Schluep
Progress: 99/480pages
The Long War
Stephen Baxter, Terry Pratchett
Progress: 68/501pages

Reading progress update: I've read 85 out of 245 pages.

Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World  - Joseph E. Meany, Les  Johnson

"Creating an electric field using the silicon wafer as a transistor gate with the two wires become a sources and drain across the graphite flake. This bears some explanation."


Phew. I was worried for a second there that I wouldn't be able to recommend this book because they didn't explain transistors. Of course, I'm not sure how comprehensible the explanation is to someone who doesn't know what the authors are talking about, but still.

Reading progress update: I've read 38 out of 245 pages.

Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World  - Joseph E. Meany, Les  Johnson

"In fact, you can even try this yourself at home. Take a pencil, cut away the eraser, and sharpen both ends. If you connect a multimeter or voltage tester across the pencil, you can measure the inherent electrical properties of particular pencil. You can even make a functioning graphite circuit on a piece of paper simply by drawing dark lines on the paper with a pencil and connecting a batter. If you attach a light-emitting diode (LED) to the circuit, the LED will light up!"


So far I'm enjoying this book far more than The Disappearing Spoon and the authors did a far better job of describing the basics of the periodic table. Perhaps it's easier when you focus mainly on carbon.


There are a few asides, but they're probably justifiable, like the one that added extra info on the first woman to be nominated as a Fellow of the Royal Society even though she wasn't related to the main text. Possibly that should have been a footnote though.


Why can't Flat Books nominate books like these? I suppose it could go downhill from here, but still...

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett (audiobook)

Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett, Celia Imrie

Series: Discworld #3


I'm sticking to my original rating because although the book is somewhat entertaining and there are definitely Prachettisms peppered throughout, it's basically the appendix of the Discworld. It's a mostly forgotten appendage to the Discworld cannon that only ever gets referenced via Granny Weatherwax having been to Ankh-Morpork previously. I also have trouble relating to both Granny Weatherwax and Esk in this story, which doesn't help.


I wasn't a fan of Celia Imrie's performance here. I liked her narration of other Discworld books but Simon's constantly congested voice and her weird "ooks" for the Librarian got on my nerves.


Previous updates:

71 %

19 %

3 %

Reading progress update: I've listened 328 out of 463 minutes.

Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett, Celia Imrie

"For Simon, the pollen count always went to infinity."


Snicker. Poor Simon.

Reading progress update: I've listened 89 out of 463 minutes.

Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett, Celia Imrie

She patted Esk’s hand as nicely as possible. ‘You’re a bit young for this,’ she said, ‘but as you grow older you’ll find most people don’t set foot outside their own heads much. You too,’ she added gnomically.

Granny may mean this literally, but it works figuratively too.

Reading progress update: I've listened 12 out of 463 minutes.

Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett, Celia Imrie

Six minutes seems to have been cutting it pretty close, Drum Billet. Just saying.


I started this last night but haven't gotten around to posting till now.

The Dead Shall Not Rest by Tessa Harris (audiobook)

The Dead Shall Not Rest (Audio) - Tessa Harris, K.W. Jeter

Series: Dr Thomas Silkstone Mystery #2


I eagerly dove into this next book because I found the first one so interesting. I didn't find this one nearly so engaging, however, for a variety of reasons. Some of them had to do with the plot being a little too easy to be untangled (the Carrington and Hunter thing) coupled with scenes that didn't entirely make sense when later revelations were made because they were put there just to mislead. Since I listened to the audio version, I couldn't very easily go back and check previous scenes so I may be judging too harshly, but that was my impression, anyway.


There were also revelations about Lydia's past that I just found uninteresting and didn't seem to fit with her previous character and my impression of the times, but again, that's my own judgement. It also required a looser interpretation of statements from the first book.


I'll probably try the third just to see if the novels pick up again but otherwise this is just another promising series that petered out after the first book.

The Anatomist's Apprentice by Tessa Harris (audiobook)

The Anatomist's Apprentice (A Dr. Thomas Silkstone Mystery, #1) - Tessa Harris, Simon Vance

Series: Dr Thomas Silkstone Mystery #1


Very mild spoilers.



This was a fairly intricately plotted historical fiction mystery that I quite enjoyed despite the apparently mandatory love interest along with love at first sight (at least on his part). It was also refreshing because it takes place in an even earlier era for forensics, 1780. There was a tendency to throw a bit too much into the actual chase scene at the end (i.e. let's kill all the inconvenient characters) but it still left me wanting to dive into the next one sooner rather than later. All in all, a promising start to a series.

January 2019 Wrap Up

Total Books: 12

Audiobooks: 9

Non-Audiobooks: 3

Average Rating: 3.4


That's better than some of my recent months, but not all that great either. I'm also heavily dependent on audiobooks, far more than I used to be.


4 stars:

Excession - Iain M. Banks,Peter Kenny A Christmas Party - Georgette Heyer Jane Steele - Lyndsay Faye,Susie Riddell  The Furthest Station - Ben Aaronovitch,Kobna Holdbrook-Smith  The Hanging Tree - Ben Aaronovitch,Kobna Holdbrook-SmithChasing New Horizons - David Alan Stern    


3.5 stars:

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life - Ed Yong,Charlie Anson 


3 stars:

The Magicians (The Magicians, #1) - Mark Bramhall,Lev Grossman A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent - Kate Reading,Marie Brennan 


2.5 stars:

The Poisoned Chocolates Case (Golden Age Classics) - Anthony Berkeley Death Without Tenure (A Karen Pelletier Mystery #6) - Christine Williams,Joanne Dobson 


DNFs (books I declared abandoned for one reason or another:

The Rule of Luck - Catherine Cerveny  Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture - Roxane Azimi  The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements - Sam Kean


Now for some pretty graphs...




And finally, the losing battle of Mount TBR (a non-exhaustive list of all the books I meant to read at some point):

The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman (audiobook)

The Magician's Land - Mark Bramhall, Lev Grossman

Series: The Magicians #3


And the story arc is finally over.  I must say that I did like Jane Chatwin's little dig when she said that "Quests were for children." It sums up a lot of these books. There's less of Quentin stupidly looking for a quest in this one though, so I rated it a bit higher.

A Short History of Drunkenness by Mark Forsyth

A Short History of Drunkenness - Mark Forsyth

This was a fun albeit superficial overview of drinking habits of various cultures at different time periods. The humour mostly worked for me and the book was interesting, but the tone probably wouldn't work for a lot of people. Probably the most interesting portion for me was the description of start of the gin craze in Britain in the 18th century and the argument that prohibition in the US was successful because it basically abolished the old-style saloons.

I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong (audiobook)

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life - Ed Yong, Charlie Anson

This book was an interesting look at micro-organisms and although there is a lot of speculation and the author can't quite get out of the magazine article style that makes him physically describe at least some of the people he interviews, I can't help feel that this is what Gulp by Mary Roach should have been. I mean, he actually explains the whys and hows of fecal transplants instead of just pointing at this "gross" thing and saying it helps some people.


The narrator (Charlie Anson) wasn't bad either, although I did sometimes have to rewind a bit because I'd caught myself not paying enough attention. But that's more the subject matter than any narration failings.


The Rule of Luck by Catherine Cerveny (Abandoned @ 46%)

The Rule of Luck - Catherine Cerveny

Series: Felicia Sevigny #1


This was one of my random library in-person picks because I'm apparently incapable of walking through the library without picking up more books. I tried, but I hadn't realized how much of a romance angle this novel had when I picked it up and by page 158 I discovered that all my interest in discovering more about what Felicia's mother might have done to her and in her mother's research in general had evaporated. 


Felicia is a successful tarot card reader in a futuristic Nairobi where calamitous climate change has affected the planet but regular people still flit about in flying vehicles and despite Felicia's occasional grumblings about the inefficacy of the system, we never really see it. So there's this psychic angle in a science fiction story, but then it's ruined by her meeting with Petriv, basically a Russian organized crime lord (sort of), and he sexually assaults her (after a business meeting where he asks her to do something for him) but it's ok because she's attracted to him. But she's fighting her attraction and trying to remember why she was initially attracted to her milquetoast boyfriend Roy when she discovers that really Roy is married and was only sent to keep an eye on her by her mother.


And then she discovers that the apartment that she lived in with Roy has been cleaned out so she's invited to go live with Petriv for a while and I was just...done with it. I don't care anymore, and I don't want to read about any steaminess with a domineering jerk like Petriv. It reads too much like assault and harassment and yet it's treated like it's not.

Chasing New Horizons by Alan Stern and David Grinspoon

Chasing New Horizons - David Alan Stern

All you ever wanted to know about Pluto.


Actually, it covers the history of Pluto including its discovery by Clyde Tombaugh, then the early attempts to get NASA to fund a mission to Pluto, the struggles the New Horizons mission went through, and wraps up with some of the more important discoveries made at Pluto. And you know what? It does all that with minimal physical descriptions of the people involved, although some photographs were included.


This book comes down hard on the side of the line supposedly favoured by planetary scientists, that dwarf planets are planets, so if you were disappointed with Pluto's demotion, take heart, and dive in for some NASA politicking.


I only had one nitpick, and that was that the book assumes that its readers are more familiar with miles than kilometres, despite the team presumably working largely with kilometres. So it has some weird transitions, like where it's discussing the range of possible Pluto approaches in km and then switching to miles when relaying its final choice. For the most part, I don't care whether a book about astronomy talks about km or miles since neither unit is particularly useful in that domain; it's only when you start talking about terrestrial distances where I feel it matters. I mean, in astronomical matters numbers in both units can basically be translated as "lots". A better illustration of the distances and speeds involved is to say that it took New Horizons thirteen months to get to Jupiter and another eight years to get to Pluto. (!)


Anyway, if you want to learn more about the background of the New Horizons mission to Pluto as well as some of the trade offs that were made both prior to and during the mission, I'd recommend you pick this up.

The Magician King by Lev Grossman (audiobook)

The Magician King (The Magicians #2) - Mark Bramhall, Lev Grossman

Series: The Magicians #2


What can I say? This is basically Julia's backstory coupled with Quentin being really stupid about looking for quests.

Not That Bad by Roxane Gay (abandoned)

Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture - Roxane Azimi

The essays that I read were excellent, but this is just too hard to read at the moment.


Previous updates:

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