It was a slow reading (not so much for everything else) week last week, and it’s only in the last few days I’ve gotten some actual reading in. So let’s get right to it. The video for this post will be up late, but will be up! So as always it will be found by clicking the link in the sidebar.
I started off pretty strong with Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty. This is an absolutely fascinating look at what life working in a crematorium and faced with death everyday is like. I did not want to put this one down. I find the topic of the death industry fascinating and America’s culture of ‘if we don’t see it we don’t need to worry about it’ with death even more odd. It’s not a topic you can shy away from and Caitlin talks about that here. It’s no all serious though and she throws in funny stories, and facts to go with our dose of realism. If you think the subject of death and modern day handling of that is interesting try this one out, I promise it’s a fun one. I was telling the story about how they cremate dead babies, and the lady who melted out of the oven contraption for days after finishing it.
Next up I finished The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. That’s right. I did it, I read the single most hyped book (to me at least) that I’ve been putting off. I really, really enjoyed it too. I wouldn’t say I devoutly loved it by any stretch of the imagination but I really liked it. It follows three different perspectives to help illustrate the journey of one during a time when the earth itself is trying to kill it’s occupants. The primary perspective is of Essun, who’s son is brutally murdered by her husband before he takes off with her daughter. She’s trying to find them to save her daughter from a similar fate. I had to knock it down a star rating on Goodreads because the ‘twist’ bit towards the end I saw coming fairly early, but honestly it’s so worth picking up. The word building is simple and elegant, I loved the homo-normative culture, and you really do end up caring about these characters. It’s very visceral and definitely hits you right in the feelings a few times. A great Fantasy read overall.
I grabbed a SF after this with The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi. I was a little afraid that after the Fifth Season I’d be a little let down by Scalzi but nope, this was as fun as I’d hoped. In this word the Flow allows space ships to travel to and from words and an entire empire is built on that. Unfortunately the Flow is collapsing and this gives us the first looks at the different Houses and factions trying to establish power in the race against this collapse. If you’ve read one Scalzi you can pretty much guess the tone of this, but you’re also going to know that going in so it’s not a huge loss. The characters in this, as always with his work, are believable and fun. One particular character, Kiva Lagos, was my favorite foul mouthed woman I’d come across in a while. I even liked the world, as little of it as we got. I would have kept reading if this had been another hundred or so pages. Another solid win for the SF/F category!
My next read was less fun, but still had some interesting bits. This was Gifts of an Eagle by Kent Durden. This wasn’t ‘bad’ per say, but it was simple. Simple and short so I don’t have too much to say about it. It was published in the 1970’s when Kent’s family raised and trained a Golden Eagle. Some of the stories and little factoids he had were new to me and as such I enjoyed them. But there simply wasn’t enough of this and the writing was simple at best. Maybe a better read for a younger audience?
Finally I finished The Axeman of New Orleans: The True Story by Miriam C. Davis. This takes a look at the USA’s own version of Jack the Ripper. Except this Jack the Ripper had a much longer and seemingly successfully career. The Axeman snuck into Italian owned grocery stories late in the night and attacked mainly the men of the house for about 6 or 7 years before disappearing from the area. Miriam C. Davis looks at the two men accused of one of the crimes, why they were innocent and how they were released and addresses the common belief in another man’s guilt. She establishes, pretty believably that he wasn’t the Axeman and goes on to mention similar crimes continued up the into the states after the Axeman ‘was killed’, seeming to indicate that the murderer simply went on the move. This also gave some insight into this area and it’s history, which I knew nothing about. Top marks from me!