January Reading Log

9 books read this month, although I’ll be lumping 3 of them together, one more’s a short short book, and one’s a short story, so it’s really more like 6 this month. Still, books read are books read.

The Worst End User – Sam Swicegood
This was an also bought on Amazon for the IT Newbie, which I read and reviewed in December. I was glad this was on Kindle Umlimited, as I really didn’t want to pay nearly $7 for 44 pages. It was definitely worth part of my KU money though, as while it’s short, it’s entertaining.

A series of short stories about work tech support, there’s a reoccuring problem user: Jack. Thanks to nepotism, he has a job where the author works, and has managed to weasel his way into a position that lets him take the author’s laptop to surf the web, and not have to do work. The author finally gets revenge on Jack. I would have liked to read more about those two interacting, but I don’t think the author could have handled any more Jack.

Encylopaedia Moronica: Volume 1, Volume 2, and Century – G Ambatte
Again, recommended as an also bought on Amazon. Volumes 1 and 2 were pretty short, and weirdly formatted. They had 26 stories, all related to the alphabet, which is a fun way of doing it. However, the stories weren’t in a specific order to Ambatte’s jobs, or in any sequence. So, the author would helpfully point out that the story you’re reading comes after story T, and before story C, and provides links to those stories, but that’s not very helpful when you’re reading story J. Or worse, I’m on S, and it references the story that comes exactly after I’m done reading. I didn’t want to flip around and read out of order, for fear of missing a story.

Century was 100 stories, and better laid out, with less jumping around. I didn’t understand all the stories, as I’m not used to working with wave generators and things like that (it’s been a long time since college), but they were a fun enough read.

Ajax Penumbra 1969 – Robin Sloan
I enjoyed Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore back when I read it, and always wanted to read this short story. I was given a gift card to Amazon, so I checked it out.
I’d forgotten a lot of the book over time, but it came back to me as I read. The Festina Lente as a password, Corvina, even the San Francisco bookstore, all of it rendered as it would be been back then. Ajax Penumbra is a fun character, and I enjoyed reading of his beginnings.

The Gender Game – Bella Forrest
I’ve read a Shade of Vampire by the author before, and I saw a lot of fanfare associated with The Gender Game when it was released. I grabbed it on KU, and finally got around to reading it. I wasn’t too impressed.

It just feels like the book takes too long to get going. Violet has been deemed a delinquent by her home country of Matrus, where women rule. After her latest problem while being supervised, she’d given an option: go to Patrus and steal back a silver egg. To do so, she must go to Patrus and wed a man there, posing as his wife. While there, she must befriend a guard, so they can better pin the theft on him.

And, you can imagine where it goes from there. Violet feels no connection to her forced husband, falls for the guard, and then begins to doubt the plan. Like most Forrest books, it ends on a cliffhanger, without a lot of resolution. That’s one of my biggest peeves, there’s no resolution, just more problems. My other problem? The book takes FOREVER to get going, and it feels like not much is done in the entire thing.

Point of Impact – Marko Kloos
The Frontlines series was my second favorite new author discovery last year. I was anxiously awaiting this installment, and tore through the audiobook as quickly as I could. In the end, I felt disappointed. It felt like a lot of the book was filler.

Kloos spends most of the book going on and on about the ship Andrew is on, and the shakedown cruise. It’s only the last few hours of a 9 hour book that they have to go fight Lankies, and things happen. I just kept wondering when things would happen.

This book starts 3 years after the last book, without a lot of discussion of what happened in the previous 3 years. Book 5 ended with him thinking Halley was dead, but we never find out why she took a week to contact him to tell him she was okay. He has PTSD from his 18 months with the Lazarus Brigade, and doesn’t want to talk about it. That I get. But then he and Halley talk about kids, and reference the last time they saw her parents, which by the book timeline was 4 years before. But they act like it was the previous year. There just feels like there are a lot of gaps.

Red Sparrow – Jason Matthews
I saw the trailer for the Jennifer Lawrence film, and when I discovered it was a book, I jumped on reading it. Well, audiobooking it. I was not disappointed in the book, although the recipes are a little weird.

Thanks to her uncle taking advantage of her, Dominika Egorova ends up becoming a Russian Intelligence officer, and a Sparrow. Sparrows are trained in the art of seduction, to set a honey trap for their targets. Dominika hates being trained as a Sparrow, but she does it because she has no choice. She’s set up to recruit Nathaniel Nash, a CIA agent who handles Marble, the most sough after Russian mole. She ends up becoming a double agent herself, and working with Nash to keep Marble safe, and take down the worst members of Russian Intelligence.

The book is a little slow to get going. There are a few scenes of interest, such as Nash’s meeting with Marble, Dominika’s favor to her uncle, etc, but it’s a slower book. By the 2/3 point though, it’s picked up and is moving along nicely.

One thing that’s a bit odd is the inclusion of recipes at the end of almost every chapter. Food is eaten in every chapter, and the recipe for one item is at the end. The first chapter is beet soup. One chapter is a vinaigrette. The recipes sound delicious, but pulled me out of the book, as I found that I was either looking forward to the recipe, and wanted the chapter to end, or I forgot there’d be a recipe, and wasn’t expecting it.

Palace of Treason – Jason Matthews
The second of the trilogy, this one had more action than Red Sparrow. I think since the stage is set, it’s easier to jump into it. Dominika is higher up in the ranks of the Russian SVR, having been the one to unmask Marble to the SVR, as well as other corruption. Nathaniel Nash is wiser now, with more seasoning to him.

A year after Rew Sparrow, Dominika is ready to return to being a double agent for the CIA. However, the stakes are higher, more people are going to get hurt, and she runs a very real risk of being killed if she’s not careful. There are people convinced she’s a problem, or a mole, and want her out of the way, while at the same time she’s attracted the eye of Putin.

Again, lots of recipes, although the last 2 chapters don’t have them. I really want to make these recipes, they sounds sooo good.

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