Reading Irresponsibly Archives

  1. Scandalous Women / Elizabeth Kerri Mahon

    Cover of Scandalous Women
    Scandalous Women might be the first non-fiction blog-to-book project I’ve read. I grabbed this at a fundraising table at WisCon in May. It’s a series of short biographies of scandalous women throughout history. Elizabeth Kerri Mahon notes in her introduction that most This Day In History bits cover men predominantly. Her stated goal with the blog and book is to reclaim history, one woman at a time. All the included women caused a scandal, a commotion, they bumped up against the status quo. The obvious thing about a patriarchal society is that pretty much any woman who did anything before recent times was bound to piss people off and cause…
  2. Revenge Of The Spellmans / Lisa Lutz

    Cover of Revenge Of The Spellmans
    If you remember my review of the previous book in this series, you’ll remember I had a eureka moment that ruined the book for me. I didn’t identify that as what was bothering me until after I’d read Revenge Of The Spellmans. I held off on reviewing this to let the sentiment pass, but I still wasn’t particularly thrilled with the book. For those who haven’t read any of the series, the Spellmans are a family of private investigators. The schtick is that they have shenanigans mostly involving loving antagonism and mutual investigations of each other. Izzy Spellman is the main character. Her parents run the business, her sister Rae…
  3. Oryx And Crake / Margaret Atwood

    Cover of Oryx And Crake
    I hold a grudge against the term sci-fi. The term came to mean bad space-ship alien stuff. Though sometimes I read that sort of thing, I prefer higher quality books. I didn’t like that my science fiction got tainted by the crap that people called sci-fi. My dander really gets up when I see people refer to books as not science fiction because they are good. So I have a little bit of sympathy for Margaret Atwood wanting to distance herself from science fiction. She claims to prefer the term speculative fiction because the stuff in her books can actually happen, they just haven’t happened yet. She also claims that…
  4. 13 Little Blue Envelopes / Maureen Johnson

    Cover of 13 Little Blue Envelopes
    I can’t seem to find books I really enjoy lately. 13 Little Blue Envelopes has an engaging main character, but one big flaw that made it tough for me to really get into it. Virginia Ginny Blackstone lives in new Jersey. She used to visit her Aunt Peg in New York City a lot. Until Aunt Peg disappeared one day, never to be seen again. A few years later, Ginny finds out that Peg has died in London, and that her aunt has designed a quest for Ginny. She gets a posthumously delivered letter with instructions to pick up a package for her at a restaurant the two used to…
  5. Eddie Signwriter / Adam Schwartzman

    Cover of Eddie Signwriter
    I picked up Eddie Signwriter because Boston Bibliophile liked it so much and I like trying things I wouldn’t otherwise. I didn’t end up seeing as much in it as Marie did. Eddie Signwriter is the main character, but he doesn’t become Eddie Signwriter until midway through the book. In the first chapter, he’s simply the boy. Nana Oforiwaa dies, and the town banishes her niece’s romantic partner (who will become Eddie). They blame him because he shameless cavorted with Oforiwaa’s charge, she couldn’t control them, and that is the cause of her death. Then we get the back story. Kwasi Edward Michael Dankwa is the youngest child of Ghanaian…
  6. Adapt / Tim Harford

    Cover of audio book edition of Adapt
    Let me re-title this book for you: Adapt: Tim Harford Makes Out With Markets. Adapt is Harford claiming markets are great because they are so effective, comparing markets and capitalism to evolution because both have use trial and error to select winners. Then Harford cherry-picks lots of examples of people rigidly not adapting in order to show … well, I think he’s trying to show that markets work because of failure. What he actually shows is that he’s good at finding interesting stories of failure. But so does failblog.org, and we don’t acclaim it to be an economic guru. Harford uses the evolutionary process and it’s results as a basis…
  7. The Mile-Long Spaceship / Kate Wilhelm

    Cover of The Mile-Long Spaceship
    Reading Kate Wilhelm’s The Mile-Long Spaceship was an attempt to broaden my classic S.F. reading beyond the standard Asimov/Heinlein axis. The book was free, and had been sitting on my shelf for a while. However, my anti-love affair with Golden Age science fiction continues. Most of the stories in the collection were less than amazing and I had to force myself to finish the book. There are eleven stories in the book. Six of them had been published previously. The Mile-Long Spaceship I had to re-read this story three times, and I’m still a little confused. Xenophobic aliens contact a human telepathically. He only communicates with them when he’s out…
  8. Star Island / Carl Hiaasen

    Cover of Star Island
    I’ve always liked Carl Hiassen’s books. However, he’s been writing these kinds of zany stories about South Florida for quite some time. This one was good, but felt like he was going through the motions particularly near the end. The target in Star Island is a pop singer that a character in the book calls a B.L.S., barely legal slut. Her manager parents are gamely trying to avoid her having a public meltdown. Sound like Britney Spears or Miley Cyrus? Hiaasen gives his singer the name Cherry Pye (real name, Cheryl Bunterman). She can barely sing, but when not too drugged up she can dance on occasion. Lots of coaching…
  9. Curse of the Spellmans / Lisa Lutz

    Cover of Curse of the Spellmans
    After dragging myself through some serious reading, I decided I wanted something light and easy to digest. Sitting on my shelf unread were the second and third books in the Spellman series. Humor is not a requirement for light reading, but it doesn’t hurt. The Spellmans have humor to spare, so I pulled both off the shelf and read them consecutively. Curse of the Spellmans reads like an extended caper. When we left Isabel Spellman in The Spellman Files, she been establishing some independence from her private investigator parents, Albert and Olivia Spellman. After a very brief fling with him, Isabel investigates the hunky man next door, John Brown. She’s…
  10. Sensation / Nick Mamatas

    Cover of Sensation
    Nick Mamatas is opinionated and an instigator on his blog. I was not so secretly hoping he would win the Hugo this year so that we’d get an interesting acceptance speech. By day he edits the output for Haikasoru, which publishes English translations of Japanese science fiction. I believe he also used to edit Clarkesworld Magazine. He also writes stories and books. Like Sensation, which I picked up at FOGCon on its day of publication. It’s an odd book and I have mixed feelings about it. Hive mind wasps and spiders are battling each other for supremacy. Julia Hernandez is bitten by wasps. They lay eggs in her, and she…