What I read on my summer vacation…

I didn’t post a weekly inbox/outbox recap on Sunday because I was offline and on vacation! I didn’t acquire any books last week (because I was offline), but I read so many books while on vacation that I decided I would do a “catch-up” post to tell you about them. Then we’ll be back on track for inbox/outbox this Sunday.

What I read:

  • On the Steel Breeze by Alastair Reynolds (Kindle) — This is the second book in a space opera trilogy that I am loving. It has elephants in it. I mean, it’s one thing to make a space opera with just humans in it, but if your space opera also has intelligent humanoid machines and humanity has taken the elephants with them to the stars (for reasons…), well… bonus points, really. It’s not just the elephants, though. I really like how the author is crafting this as part adventure, part mystery, and at the same time incorporating a whole lot of social dynamics and politics and moral issues. Book three is already out in the UK, but Amazon wants me to wait until February before I can buy it on Kindle in the US. Which makes no sense. Publishing. Sigh.
  • The New and Improved Romie Futch by Julia Elliott (paperback, ARC) — I got this in my last Powell’s Indiespensible box and I read it and passed it on over vacation. I don’t even know what to say about this book. It was… interesting? It’s about a sad sack guy whose wife left him and who is running his taxidermy business into the ground. To get some cash he gets a brain upgrade via some science experiment that takes a group of loser dudes (only dudes, but “diverse” dudes…) and makes them all Humanities Geeks and Renaissance Men. It was good, but not really my thing. If you liked The Circle, you’ll probably also like this book (somewhere Dave Eggers’ head is exploding because I just linked his book to an Amazon Kindle version instead of a hardcover edition sold by some highly pretentious independent bookstore… oooh! maybe I should have linked to Google Play instead… that would have been better…).
  • All Mortal Flesh by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Kindle) — For the last few years I’ve been reading this mystery series that takes place in the Adirondacks whenever I visit my friends’ family Camp. They are pulpy, fast reads, but they feature an interesting cast of characters and do a good job evoking a sense of place and the feel/culture of the area. I don’t ever expect much except a “who done it” puzzle from these books. But I think this one is my least favorite of the series so far. I really don’t like what the author did with Russ’s wife in this book. I have lots of opinions here, but they are all spoilery and I don’t want to give anything away.
  • Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed (Kindle, library) — This is a *really* fast read, and also a slightly disturbing read. It’s about arranged marriage, and not in a good way. This isn’t so much “arranged” as it is “forced” and it was really hard for me to understand why anyone would do what this family does to their daughter. It wraps up really fast, almost too fast for me because all of a sudden it seems like everyone is acting out of character at the end. Overall, I thought it was an interesting look into a different culture, with a good story and richly imagined characters, but I think the story-telling could have been a little better executed.
  • Vicious by V.E. Schwab (Kindle) — I’ve mentioned before that I have been wanting to read this forever. I thought this was the first in a series, but now I am pretty sure it’s a stand alone novel (right? or will there be more?). I loved this book. It met and even exceeded my (already pretty high) expectations. It’s the kind of book I wish I’d written. The characters are complicated and there really aren’t any “good guys,” just many shades of “grey” and a lot of moral ambiguity. It’s dark, but witty, and imaginative while still feeling only just slightly beyond realistic. It kind of reminds me of how I felt after reading American Gods (which I also loved). Only it’s less fantastical and slightly more gritty than anything by Gaiman. Did I mention that I loved this book?

And that’s what I read on my summer vacation. See you on Sunday when I tell you all about the books I’ve acquired (three already so far this week!) and what I’m reading now…