What I’ve Been Reading Lately (March, 2023)

I’ve been reading a lot of good books lately, some quite varied…although you could sum a surprising amount of it up just by saying “Martha Wells” – who, even though it’s only March, is a serious contender this year for new addition to my favorite authors!

My recent reads have included no less than three Martha Wells books, all strikingly different – although I think I finally clued into the through-line between them.  First I read Emilie and the Hollow World, a YA novel that feels like a homage to classic sci fi, which centers on Emilie who stows away on a rather steampunk ship and finds herself accidentally on a mission to another world inside the – well, I don’t think it’s Earth, so let’s just say planet.  Then I read The Siren Depths, Book 3 of the Raksura series, and possibly my new favorite – more for the character drama than the action, though that was pretty good too.  And then I caught up on the Murderbot Diaries with Fugitive Telemetry, one of the best of the series I think, with the main character fully realized by this point, and easier to follow than some as a pretty tightly-plotted murder mystery.

So, two very different fantasy worlds and a sci fi novella, totally different styles in each book and yet – every series has a strong element of found family in them.  It’s clearest in the Raksura books, but present in all of them, and that may be why I’m enjoying Martha Wells so much.  I mean, that and just good writing throughout!

I also read a couple of nonfiction books.  First, Hit Makers by Derek Thompson with some very good insights on how ideas or media become hits (and why nothing actually “goes viral”).  Second, How to Raise an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman, which had good insights but felt a little dated.  In a way it’s a compliment to him – what feels most dated is how hard he tries to convince the reader of parenting theories that have become much more mainstream in the last 25 years.

I read another fiction book as well, The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry, author of Book Lovers.  This was not bad, but…it was also no Book Lovers!  The premise centered around two parallel worlds, with the two love interests living in separate ones but moving between them.  Which sounds brilliant, but it took a surprising lot of the book to really get to that place, and the whole thing was badly hampered by how terrible my initial impression of the hero was.  I also didn’t have a lot of patience for the extremely stereotypical drinking/partying teenagers.  I can’t entirely blame Henry since it’s a pretty ubiquitous way of portraying teenagers, but it’s one I don’t care for, and I don’t think it’s either accurate or helpful to teenage readers.  So!

One so-so book in the midst of good ones is not bad for a month though – and I’m picking up the next Raksura book from the library so expect more Martha Wells in my next update!

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