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text 2017-03-28 17:43
2016 Year in Review
A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers) - Becky Chambers
The Obelisk Gate - N.K. Jemisin
The Countess Conspiracy - Courtney Milan
Midnight Taxi Tango - Daniel José Older
White Trash Zombie Gone Wild: A White Trash Zombie Novel by Rowland, Diana(October 6, 2015) Mass Market Paperback - Diana Rowland
The Liberation (The Alchemy Wars) - Ian ... The Liberation (The Alchemy Wars) - Ian Tregillis
Babylon's Ashes - James S.A. Corey
The Core of the Sun - Johanna Sinisalo
The Fifth Season - N.K. Jemisin
The Winged Histories: a novel - Sofia Samatar

Last year, I failed to do any summary posts about what I had read in 2015. I think I just kept putting it off until it was so late in the year that it seemed not worth the bother. Of course, I see so many "best books of the year" posts in November of the year in discussion that sometimes January seems like it is too late. So March isn't even that late, really.

 

My breakdown of the 76 "books" I finished in 2016:

anthologies: 1
collections: 0
Adult novels: 41
YA novels: 5
MG novels: 13
graphic novels: 1
art book: 0
comic omnibus: 11
magazine issues: 0
children's books: 2
nonfiction: 2

Of those 76, only 20 were published in 2016. I abandoned 3 titles without finishing. I also counted Final Formula as 1 book even though it was 2 novels and a short, and decided to consider the serial box stories an anthology instead of individual books. 
 
I did read some other miscellaneous short fiction in various magazines, but I don't shelve magazines unless I'm reviewing the issue. And I don't shelve individual stories because I am lazy.
 
Across all categories:
  Written by Women: 55 (72%, up from 2014)
  Written by POC's: 13 (17%, down from 2014)
  Written by Transgender authors: 1 (1%)
  Written by Non-binary authors: 1 (1%)
 
I'm a bit unhappy with how little of my reading was by POC's, both because it was a decrease from last time I checked, and because if I counted unique authors, I'd have even fewer. Apparently 2016 was the year I read lots of white ladies. I added 2 new demographic categories, which I know I'll need for the 2017 counts as well. I included the 1 transgender author in both that category and in the category she self identifies as. 
 
My favorite book from 2016 was A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers) - Becky Chambers, just barely edging out The Obelisk Gate - N.K. Jemisin and The Core of the Sun - Johanna Sinisalo because I needed comfort more than truth. All the novels I rated 5 stars are included in the ribbon. My favorite new-to-me writers were Noelle Stevenson and Daniel José Older, who both write awesome women.
 
I reviewed 72 titles read in 2016. That has to be a new high for me, even with the website issues here at BL.
 
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text 2017-03-21 13:31
Reading progress update: I've read 56 out of 332 pages.
A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers) - Becky Chambers

"And seriously, anybody working in a job that doesn´t let you take a nap when you need to should get a new job."

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review 2016-12-03 19:45
Review: A Closed and Common Orbit
A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers) - Becky Chambers

While this sequel to The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet doesn't continue the adventures of the crew on the Wayfarer, this follows couple of characters through as warm and wonderful a story. I loved the first book, and I love this sequel. Don't make me pick a favorite!

The narrative swaps between Sidra's present day timeline, living and working with Pepper while struggling to figure out how to adapt, and Pepper's past. While they have entirely different struggles, the physical ordeals of Pepper's youth and existential crises of Sidra's present are both treated with legitimacy and validity. I don't know if this is meant as a counter commentary to the all to common "millennials doing everything wrong" think pieces of the day, but it certainly works on that level.

These two people thrown together in a shuttle at the beginning are in entirely different places in their lives, but trying hard to get along. As the title implies, they have things in common - more as the story goes on, but I don't want to get into to many spoilers. The examples I'll list: each has a great love of trying new flavors, each has selected their own name, and each befriends an artist. These are the trivial things. Read this awesome book for the non trivial things. And for the wonderfully wild differences as well.

This is such a lovely book. A balm I needed. A warm hug.

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review 2016-11-27 15:43
[Book Review] Dark Orbit
Dark Orbit - Carolyn Ives Gilman

I'd managed to both hear a lot about Dark Orbit and yet retain nearly nothing about it going in.  It seemed like it would be a good Virtual Speculation pick, so I threw it on the list for October.

On the surface Dark Orbit is a SpecFic re-imagining of Country of the Blind (with less xenophobia).  Saraswati Callicot spends her life leaping across decades as she explores new worlds reachable only through FTL travel.  When she's sent on a new mission to secretly keep an eye on Thora Lassiter and the trouble that may seek her out, she expects little issue.  But the world they visit defies expectation or experience, and presents dangers that could never be anticipated.

In many ways this is a book about perception.  How our perceptions shape everything we encounter, and how others perceptions shape us.  For all that the story involves both a murder and a missing persons investigation as well as natural disaster, the narrative tends towards the cerebral over action yet retains some of the grandeur of a space opera.

Discussion Fodder:

  • How does the story discuss the concept of self?  How does translation and reconstitution effect the self?  What about beminding?  How does perception of the characters shape and effect the narrative?
  • Does, as Thora say, understanding destroy unfamiliarity?  What exactly does that mean?
  • What exactly is beminding?  Is it unique to the application of wending, or is it something that ties into real life?
  • In a conversation between Ashok and David we hear "That's what buzzwords are.  Tranquilizers."  "Thought suppressants, you mean."  What do you think the roles of buzzwords are?
  • How does the story handle blindness?  What did the author get right, what is wrong?  How do the characters (mis)interpret sightedness and blindenss?  What examples of assistive and adaptive technology show up?
  • The women of Orem worship Witassa, the Shameless One in secret.  What is the power of shame or of being shameless?
  • How does the narrative balance mysticism and science?
Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2016/11/book-review-dark-orbit.html
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review 2016-11-16 18:32
quick thoughts
Dark Orbit - Carolyn Ives Gilman

Neat story, with a lot of interesting thoughts included.

 

Overall a decent handling of blindness, though it does include the idea that blind people like to touch your face in greeting (something that most seem pretty disinclined to do so, and rather annoyed at it as continuing concept)... and it struck me as odd that someone seeing for the first time would have trouble with the concept of depth and dimensional (though I will accept trouble with visual interpretations of it).  Of interest is the fact that the small population that is encountered they are 'blind' due to living their lives completely without light source and therefore their brains never learn to see rather than being blind due to their eyes.  None of them have 'super hearing' - though they have better trained hearing, and I appreciate the distinction.  Their community and living environment has elements of assistive design.

 

 

It does posit that some mental illness might be manifestation of extremely rare and otherwise dismissed as imagined skill... but some of that is part of a much larger discussion relating to perception, comprehension, and how we let one shape the other.

 

More formal review with discussion questions to follow.

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