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Nov. 9th, 2019

The Last ConversationThe Last Conversation by Paul Tremblay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Part of Amazon’s Forward collection, an assortment of popular writers focusing on the possibilities of the future. A man awakens with no sense of who he is or what has happened when he wakes up in a small isolated room. A disembodied voice is his only connection to the outside world. Over a month, he slowly learns what has happened and who the voice belongs to and the result is a terrifying story that haunts long after the final words.



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Nov. 9th, 2019

Emergency SkinEmergency Skin by N.K. Jemisin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Part of Amazon's Forward collection, an assortment of popular writers focusing on the possibilities of the future. In this story, an explorer has a mission to obtain materials from a climate-ravaged Earth only to discover Earth is not the place he imagined. Full of ideas about the culture we live in and critical examination of what we value, this novella is highly recommended.



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Down and Out in Paris and LondonDown and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Part autobiography, part fiction, Orwell writes movingly but without sentiment about homelessness as he meets assorted down-and-out characters as he moves through Paris and Lond0n. Orwell's writing is always insightful and keenly observed, but not without humor.



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Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, and Advice for Living Your Best LifeDear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, and Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


If you've seen Ali Wong's stand-up, you know she can be raunchy and brutally honest. That holds true of this memoir, too. She writes letters to her two young daughters, explaining herself, her past, and her work, her struggles in the male-dominated comedy world. Always interesting and often laugh-out-loud funny.

[I received an advanced e-galley from Netgalley.]



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Autobiography of DeathAutobiography of Death by Kim Hyesoon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A haunting book of poetry comprised of forty-nine poems, each poem representing a single day during which the spirit roams after death before it enters the cycle of reincarnation. The poet was inspired by a 2014 ferry that capsized in South Korea and drowned 250 high school students. The poet examines what life and death mean and what it must be like on the other side. While not for everyone, this is strange and powerful poetry that deserves a strong audience.



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The InstituteThe Institute by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


An entertaining, well-paced tale about children locked up by a mysterious institute that exploits their latent supernatural abilities. There are many throwbacks to earlier King (Firestarter being the most obvious), but this story is original and the characters, particularly the children, are well realised.



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Sep. 26th, 2019

The Emperor of Water ClocksThe Emperor of Water Clocks by Yusef Komunyakaa

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The poet in this collection inhabits an array of voices to tell his stories. Erudite and full of classical myth in one, full of the dialect of jazz and blues in the next. A rich challenging collection.



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Nouns & VerbsNouns & Verbs by Campbell McGrath

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Campbell McGrath's poetry is full of images of the American landscape - from Florida coastline to august Western mountains as well as long stretches of highway, gas stations, convenience stores, diners at midnight and even the most minute, mundane detritus of everyday (e.g., a crushed beer can, a dead fly). But his poetry also considers what it all means, not just how it looks, from our obsession with money and capitalism to the place of poetry in it all. A stirring, vibrant collection surveying his career. Highly recommended.



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Thoreau's MicroscopeThoreau's Microscope by Michael Blumlein

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A short collection of short pieces by a medical doctor and science fiction author. The title piece is definitely the strongest, an essay in which the author discusses Thoreau's philosophy of science while contemplating his own mortality and battle with lung cancer. The stories focus on the idea of what it means to be alive and what defines that. The book concludes with an interview by fellow science fiction author Terry Bisson. A good introduction to a smart author whose background only strengthens his authority.



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The NeedThe Need by Helen Phillips

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


An intense novel about the fears that come with becoming a mother. When Molly is home alone with her two young children, an intruder enters the house and the intruder knows more about Molly and the kids than can be possible. Creepy and terrifying, this is a sharp, tightly written novel about a mother's worst fears for herself and her children.



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