Spring 2019 reading list

I Contain Multitudes – Ed Yong
This was fascinating and I hope he writes more on the subject and for that matter I should look and see what other books Ed Yong has written because he’s an excellent science writer.

Vorkosigan Saga: The Warrior’s Apprentice, Border of Infinity (collection of 3 novellas), Cetaganda, Ethan of Athos, Brothers in Arms, Mirror Dance, Memory, Komarr, A Civil Campaign, Diplomatic Immunity – Lois McMaster Bujold

After actually laughing out loud at a random comment by Ivan Vorpatril of the Vorkosigan books and realizing that I had essentially become friends with all the characters to the detriment of an actual social life and I forced myself to stop reading the series for at least a week or so.

Collected Novellas – Ursula K LeGuin
Particularly beautiful pieces in this. Her writing often strikes me as sad, I wonder how much of that is me and how much is from the work itself.

The Absolute Sandman Vol. 1 – Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth (Illustrator), Mike Dringenberg (Illustrator), Charles Vess (Illustrator), Michael Zulli (Illustrator), Kelley Jones (Illustrator), Chris Bachalo (Illustrator), Malcolm Jones (Illustrator), Danny Vozzo (Illustrator), Colleen Doran (Illustrator)  (reread)

The Wheel of the Infinite – Martha Wells
I read this book right at the time I did just to force myself to take a break from the Vorkosigan books and it suffered for that. I didn’t really want to be reading it, I wanted to be reading something else. I’ll need to reread it sometime after a long break so I don’t remember it as well.

Distrust that Particular Flavor – William Gibson
An interesting thing to read if you are a huge fan of William Gibson (I am) but probably not so much if you aren’t. Interesting to me just to have any peek into the actual life of an author who creates such vibrant fiction.

I might have read more or something else but it’s September now so I should just post this and write up summer’s reading list 😛

Visiting the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

In April 2019 having lived in the Los Angeles area for over a decade I finally made the drive to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. We had a ‘superbloom’ in the spring of 2019 so there were photos all over the news & social media.

Seeing it in person was an entirely different thing. the poppy fields in bloom are a landscape like nothing else I have ever seen.

The wild poppies really are that orange. Brilliant, glowing, orange. I grow some in my front yard, having a partially native CA garden. They are very nice but they are pale in comparison to the wild ones at the preserve.

I’ll probably edit this entry & lay these out with a gallery plugin of some kind so they’re easier to look at but this is much easier to just get them online for now.

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Fall & Winter reading list

The Fall of Ile-Rien Trilogy: The Wizard Hunters, The Ships of Air, The Gate of Gods
Between Worlds: the Collected Ile-Rien and Cineth Stories – Martha Wells

The Incrementalists – Steven Brust and Skyler White (reread)
The Skill of our Hands: A Novel – Steven Brust and Skyler White.
I found Skill of our Hands kind of heavy handed and awkward in places, it felt like pet issues of one of both authors were shoehorned in here and there. I didn’t entirely enjoy it as a result but did find myself mulling it over at some length and then abruptly had a realization (possibly entirely inaccurate but whatever): I think they didn’t intend to write a novel. They were looking for a way to present an idea in a way that wouldn’t be awkward and lecturing. So we have a novel of the really-real world except there’s this society of semi-immortal reincarnated souls who act to influence the rest of us through subtle but entirely real triggers to our emotions. How great would it be if there were people who could reach out and touch people in positions to change things for the better, even in small ways. And there are, in all of us, since we all know somebody somewhere, and maybe instead of escaping into a fantasy where a secret society exists who could touch the soul of your racist family member who makes Thanksgiving suck, maybe it’s on all of us to try and reach those people ourselves. Who else knows how to do that better than family? It should be on us. And I think that’s what they were writing about. Be the change you want to see. Because nobody else will. Nobody else can.

The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine – Lindsey Fitzharris
I do occasionally read non-fiction. Since I seem to be reading so much more now, I’m trying to read more, and not just using reading as an escape from reality.

Rolling in the Deep (reread) and Into the Drowning Deep – Mira Grant

The Wolves of Midwinter – Anne Rice (ugh)
This book was so bad I found myself wondering if Anne Rice was always bad and if I re-read the books from the Vampire Chronicles that I actually enjoyed the first time, would they hold up? She’s created a main character here who is so bland and pointless that even the fact that he’s a werewolf vigilante doesn’t make him interesting. The supernatural in this book feels entirely like a prop for a story that goes nowhere, accomplishes nothing. The drug dealer subplot comes off like an afterschool special, it’s so ham-fisted. This book is full of just lists of decadent shit, as opposed to the lush descriptions that I thought Rice was known for. Totally *untitillating* sex, as opposed to the lust she brought to her sexless vampires. I was hate-reading this book by the end. I think my Kindle version has notes in it where I just wrote ‘bllllllbbbhhhhh booooooring’ and things like that.

Owl: A Year in the Lives of North American Owls – Paul Bannick
I learned about this book because I follow the author & photographer on Instagram. It is beautiful and so informative. The kind of science I sort of dreamed of doing once upon a time, where you just go out into nature and observe an animal and over the course of a year or years you learn more about it than anybody has ever known. I didn’t end up pursuing anything like that as a career. I’m not sure why I didn’t, other than I didn’t see how one did that and made a living at it. That and I always felt discouraged to actually seriously look into anything in science, because science = math and I was bad at math. Er, so I ended up in accounting? How the fuck does that make sense…at least with science I might have been adding up #s about something I cared about. Anyway…

Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation’s Capital – Mark Anderson and Mark Jenkins
Another music related book borrowed from Nate. Very interesting to read as somebody from the DC area but totally unaware that any of this was going on at the time. I was too young for much of it and by the time I was going into DC it was fading away.

The Phoenix Guards, Five Hundred Years After
Taltos, Yendi, Jhereg, Teckla, Tiassa, Phoenix – Steven Brust (rereads)
While reading nonfiction I’m usually reading some fiction book as well and it’s easier to read things I’ve read before, so this happened. I have now lost track of how many times I’ve read these. I am now forcing myself to take a long break from Steven Brust so I don’t get sick of his style or his characters.

The Murderbot Diaries: Rogue Protocol, Artificial Condition, Exit Strategy – Martha Wells
These are short and just good fun. I hope there are more of them.

Vorkosian Saga: Falling Free, Shards of Honor, Barrayar – Lois McMaster Bujold
I was reluctant to start this series because I saw it had something like 15 books in it and I’ve found that reading the 1st book in a series and then reading the 2nd a year later is a good way to forget things.

I think that might be everything and I should probably post this before it’s anymore delayed. So that’s everything I read from Fall/Winter 2018-Winter 2019. I read a lot. I get eye fatigue looking at computer screens for to long and I look at a computer all day at work, so I spend less time mindlessly poking around on the internet in the evenings than I once did.

Author/related websites:
http://www.dendarii.com/ (Lois McMaster Bujold)
http://dreamcafe.com/ (Steven Brust)
https://www.npr.org/2017/10/21/557192408/no-ones-hands-are-clean-in-the-butchering-art (review of The Butchering Art)

I’m not linking to Anne Rice, that’s how bad the werewolf books are.

Spring list will be next.

I’m bad at blogging.

WordPress has updated in the months since I’ve used it and I don’t know what they did but it’s terrible, I just wanted to cut and paste something I already wrote and I can’t. It turns every sentence into a ‘block’ and won’t let me space things normally. It’s just awful and entirely unusable.

Summer reading list, 2018

Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy

DragonRiders of Pern Trilogy: Dragonflight, Dragonquest, The White Dragon
All the Weyrs of Pern – Anne McCaffrey (reread)
The original trilogy has not aged well but nostalgia let me enjoy them again, more than 20 years since I first read them. And they are such fanciful fantasy, it was a nice palette cleanser after the bleak nihilism of Blood Meridian, ugh.

Akata Witch
Akata Warrior – Nnedi Okorafor
I think these books and maybe the Binti books as well might be categorized as ‘young adult’. And that’s OK, since I remember finding authors I grew to love just because I found something of theirs in that section of the library as a middle school aged kid. Hopefully it doesn’t keep actual adults from reading them. They are short, novella length I guess, and they are all about young people, but they aren’t childish.

Spray Paint the Walls: The Story of Black Flag – Stevie Chick
I might have to reread this book one day. My impression on one reading was that it was really unflattering of most everybody involved despite trying NOT to be unflattering. I don’t think I’d recommend it to anybody that didn’t like Black Flag, because if you don’t even like their music they’re really going to seem like a bunch of horrible garbage people. Except for Kira – I sympathized with her.

The Sword Interval (webcomic) – Ben Fleuter
I think the whole urban fantasy genre is dominated by comics, in that the comics that would fit in that category are just better than any series of books. I like the Mercy Thompson books OK, but the dialog is bad and the outdated/inaccurate hierarchy of the werewolf packs is annoying. Harry Dresden is such a whiner I can’t deal with him. Anita Blake is generic and dull. I should try more of the Iron Druid series, that had a neat angle. It’s not like this comic is the best thing ever but it’s solid and good. I like the characters even when I don’t, and I like the art as well, which is important with comics…see below…

Daughter of the Lilies – Meg Syverud & Jessica Weaver
The story here is alright but there is a cartoonish quality to the artwork that is incongruous and annoying. I can enjoy comics when I don’t like the art (Girl Genius is the best example) but I have to REALLY like the story and be invested in what happens to the characters. I don’t think I will stick with this one, too often I’m wishing I could go in with an eraser and fix things.

The Element of Fire
The Death of the Necromancer – Martha Wells
Everything I’ve read by Martha Wells has resulted in my buying more books by her.

Spring reading

Spring reading list:

Ninefox Gambit – Yoon Ha Lee

Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

The Chanur Saga: The Pride of Chanur, Chanur’s Venture, The Kif Strike Back – C. J. Cherryh (reread)

Chanur’s Homecoming – C. J. Cherryh (reread)

This Music Leaves Stains: A Complete History of the Misfits – James Greene Jr.

Chanur’s Legacy – C. J. Cherryh (reread)

I’m not sure why the Chanur books were arranged as they were, at least when my old paperbacks were printed. The first 3 are in an Omnibus edition, but they aren’t a stand alone trilogy, the 4th continues the story from the 3rd.

You could read the Pride of Chanur as a stand alone novel, but if you get into the 2nd you have to read through Homecoming to reach the end of that story arc. Legacy also stands apart – while it refers back to characters and events in the other books, you might still be able to read it and enjoy the story without having read them.


I was on vacation and now I’m back. Visited my aunt and uncle in Hawaii. We tried to see the volcano but weren’t allowed. Did go snorkeling and explored the island as much as one can with limited time and an active volcano putting a bunch of it off limits and catching a cold half way through a short trip.  It was still great.

Lots of work here

I really don’t know how to use WordPress yet so if you’re checking on this blog it’s probably going to look different every time. I’ve changed the theme several times. I don’t know what menus are. I don’t know what widgets are. I’m not clear on why the few images of my own I’ve uploaded keep disappearing  or why they look so shitty when I try to use them as backgrounds or headers.

It’s easy to see why people use social media instead of making their own blog. It’s not really amateur friendly.

Winter reading list

Summer of Night – Dan Simmons

The Cloud Roads, The Serpent Sea, The Siren Depths, Edge of Worlds, The Harbors of the Sun and Stories of the Raksura: Vol. 1 – Martha Wells

San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats – Mira Grant

Binti: The Night Masquerade – Nnedi Okorafor

A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, Tehanu (rereads) – Ursula K. LeGuin


Since reading the Raksura series I’ve bought several more books by Martha Wells. Very happy to have found another author to follow. (http://www.marthawells.com/)