Monday, January 1, 2024

REVIEW: System Collapse (book) by Martha Wells

System Collapse is science fiction, part of Wells' Murderbot Diaries series. I bought my copy new.


This takes place immediately following the events in Network Effect - as others have said, I highly recommend reading or rereading Network Effect just before digging into this book, because there's a lot that probably won't make sense otherwise. In a way, System Collapse feels like bonus content for Network Effect.

Murderbot, ART's crew, and the Preservation humans are still on the planet and having to deal with occasional "alien contamination" complications, but everyone's biggest concern is making sure that the colonists have the knowledge and opportunity to decide for themselves what their next steps are. This means somehow keeping the Barish-Estranza folks from convincing them to sign their rights away and become indentured slaves. 

REVIEW: Artemis (book) by Andy Weir

Artemis is science fiction. I bought my copy new.


I read this way back in May 2023, so my memories are fuzzy. Thankfully, I was still taking notes on my reading back then, so that can help flesh out my memory a bit.

Jazz is a small-time smuggler/delivery girl on Artemis, humanity's first and only lunar colony. She's barely scraping by and needs to get a large amount of money soon for reasons I can't recall, so she agrees to pull off a job sabotaging an aluminum company's harvesters for a rich client. However, things go wrong, people end up dead, and suddenly the fate of Artemis depends on Jazz somehow completing her original sabotage plan.

REVIEW: Hidden Systems: Water, Electricity, the Internet, and the Secrets Behind the Systems We Use Every Day (nonfiction graphic novel) by Dan Nott

Hidden Systems is a nonfiction graphic novel. I bought my copy new.


This was a fascinating read, although it became more focused on the historical context of the systems and less on how they function as the book progressed. If you're most interested in how things function, the internet section was the best.

There were times I would have liked to know more about how the systems functioned, but I did appreciate the way Nott highlighted the effects of the systems we've set up and the ways they prioritize some people over others.

There are brief mentions of examples of infrastructure failures - Nott calls out PG&E, and I believe the Texas power grid comes up (I may be misremembering that - goodness knows I thought about the February 2021 big freeze and the Texas power grid failure a lot during the power grid section) - but it would have been nice to see more of that. I suppose that could have made the book too dated too quickly, though.

There were excellent notes at the end, with bibliographical info. Unfortunately, the notes didn't include page numbers - they only pointed to the chapter and first words of the text they were referring to. Page numbers would have been really useful.

REVIEW: Double Happiness (novella) by Jen Trinh

Double Happiness is a contemporary romance novella. I bought my copy new.


Winnie is convinced that her sister Nancy is about to marry the wrong guy. While Bradley is just some jock with a megawatt smile, Steven is Nancy's childhood sweetheart. Nancy and Steven are clearly perfect for each other, and Winnie is convinced that all she needs to do put them near each other and Nancy will realize he's her soulmate. Plus, as Nancy's Maid of Honor, Winnie also has the power to do a little bit of pre-wedding meddling designed to highlight the ways in which Bradley is a bad match for Nancy. What could possibly go wrong? What Winnie fails to realize is that Steven is actually in love with her, and her meddling might ruin her relationships with both him and her sister.

REVIEW: Touch My Brother and You Die, Vol. 1 (book) by Morpho

Touch My Brother and You Die is a fantasy light novel, or whatever the Korean version happens to be called. I bought my copy new.


I finished this back in October 2023 and should have reviewed it closer to that time. Here's what I can recall: the heroine, Rosalite, suddenly comes to the realization that she's a minor character in a BL novel starring her brother, Asterion (Rion). His story is a tragic one and ends with him being killed or committing suicide, which automatically resets Rosalite's life to age 16. She's tired of this and just wants to live her life and study magic in peace, except Rion keeps dying. She learns that, in order to break the cycle, she must fulfill Rion's wish, whatever that is.

REVIEW: Thanatos (book) by Eva Pohler

Thanatos is the first book in Pohler's Underworld Saga series. It's YA fantasy. I bought my copy new.


I finished this way back in July 2023 and should have reviewed it closer to that time. I've forgotten a lot of the details of the plot of this book, but basically seventeen-year-old Therese ends up in a coma after the car accident that kills both her parents. While in her coma, she meets the sons of Hades, Hypnos and Thanatos, and kisses Thanatos in what she thinks is just a dream. Than, of course, falls in love with her and makes a deal with his father to go find her and try to win her heart. Meanwhile, Than's sisters investigate Therese's parents' death, which was not just an accident.

REVIEW: Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers (book) by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers is probably best classified as a cozy mystery. I bought my copy new.


Vera Wong is a lonely widow with an adult son who doesn't talk to her nearly as much as she'd like. She lives above her tea shop in Chinatown, and although she's confident that her tea is the best in the world, her shop has seen better days and now only has one regular customer. Her life doesn't exactly have a lot of excitement in it, so it's a shock when she goes downstairs one day and discovers a dead man in the middle of her shop. 

Vera is convinced it was murder. The police are less sure, which convinces Vera that she is the best possible person to investigate was really happened. And so she does, and comes up with lots of suspects right away. They're all nice young people: Julia, wife of the deceased and now a single mother; Sana, who says she's doing research for her true crime podcast; Riki, who says he's a reporter; and Oliver, the twin brother of the deceased. They're all good company (you do not say no when Vera Wong offers you food), so it's a shame that one of them must be a murderer.