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MichaelKwan

MichaelKwan

Joined November 2016

Books, Roller Derby. Things I like.
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MichaelKwan
Fuzzy Nation | John Scalzi
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Doing a reread. Actually a comparative reread. I reread H. Beam Piper's LITTLE FUZZY yesterday and now will read John Scalzi's update/reboot/redo of the story. Piper's version is a little rickety since it was written in 1962, but it holds up better than some science fiction from that time.

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MichaelKwan
Halloween Party | Agatha Christie
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Mehso-so

Not Agatha Christie's best. But familiar and reassuring territory for a Poirot fan like me.

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MichaelKwan
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"Possibly I was overthinking this. I do that; it's the anxiety that comes with being a part-organic murderbot. The upside was paranoid attention to detail. The downside was also paranoid attention to detail."

MURDERBOT IS BACK! Time for the final part of their story!

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MichaelKwan
The Accidental War: A Novel | Walter Jon Williams
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Pickpick

Sadly, it's been a while since I've been able to read a novel in a day. But today was release day for a new novel set in my favorite space opera setting and I am unsurprised I sped through it. This is the start of what's undoubtedly a new trilogy set in Walter Jon Williams' Praxis universe. It's a solid successor to the original books. But reading the first trilogy and the two novellas is recommended.

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MichaelKwan
Deathless | Catherynne M. Valente
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I have been playing with some of my new fountain pens by posting book quotes elsewhere. One of my favorites from this book.

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MichaelKwan
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Pickpick

This was a long, dense read for me. David Coventry writes from the point of view of a (unnamed, fictional) competitor on the first English-speaking team to compete in the Tour de France. That a mixed team of Australians and New Zealanders competed in 1928 is fact. But the dense, impressionistic prose here covers a lot more of life and memory than just the race. Worth the effort, but it takes an effort.

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MichaelKwan
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Pickpick

(From an early review copy.) Big recommend for fantasy fans. Seanan McGuire returns to the ghostroads of America in a novel-length story of Rose Marshall, the Phantom Prom Date. It's a well-plotted return to her Sparrow Hill Road territory. Rose, the dead girl, has a problem. Her enemy has brought her back to life and now she has to figure out how to return to her unlife and get back to her friends and allies before meeting a worse second death.

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MichaelKwan
Strange Weather in Tokyo | Hiromi Kawakami
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Pickpick

I think this is a book and story I had been looking for for a while. Kawakami writes a quiet story about the growing relationship between a middle-aged office worker and a much older man. It's well written, humorous, and touching.

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MichaelKwan
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Pickpick

I found a romance novel set in my world, women's flat-track roller derby. In the wake of her mother's death, Lucy finds a man, follows him to derby, and decides to join to challenge herself. To be glib, I could say, "... and in the process learns a special lesson about herself and about love." Except, Elicia Hyder, a former derby skater, gets the game and the culture right. In my seven years in derby, I've seen the Lucys save themselves. Read it.

BethM So good! And Elicia is just a fantastic human!! 2y
2 likes1 comment
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MichaelKwan
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With the movie adaptation of "Crazy Rich Asians" on the way, I've been looking forward to more Asian representation. I stumbled on this today and it's what I've been wanting. An Asian-American centered adventure story that respects the characters and culture. It's not just Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Asian features. It's a thoughtful modern extension of the Monkey King stories that are an important part of the Chinese mythos. Really enjoying.

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MichaelKwan
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Pickpick

I highly recommend this novella. Aliette de Bodard has created a science fiction universe based on her own Vietnamese culture. It's a well-crafted, detailed world. This story perfectly balances the setting and the investigation story and is a great entry to this world.

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MichaelKwan
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The other book prize won by one of the trainees at Angel City Derby's Officials training weekend back in February. I wish I had thought to get it signed. Kasey Bomber is one of Angel City's regular announcers.

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MichaelKwan
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Our roller derby league had an Officials Training weekend and I was able to cull my library a little and pass some treasured books along to new trainees as prizes. Nice to pass on books and knowledge. The author of this one is Margot EM DASH Atwell and the publisher is Gutpunch Press.

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MichaelKwan
Beneath the Sugar Sky | Seanan McGuire
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And to play a bit of catch up, the third book in Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children series was a solid follower to the first two books.

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MichaelKwan
Tricks for Free | Seanan McGuire
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So, ever had a simple six word dedication get you all choked up? It might happen when you don't know a friend is dedicating her next novel to you and your spouse and you find out after you get a copy at Barnes & Noble and open the book to start to read it. #yeahthathappened

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MichaelKwan
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Pickpick

The short summary is: After his grandfather's death, a young man looks to solve the mystery of his parents' deaths in a quest that takes him from a small farm in Norway to the storm-wracked Shetland islands to the battlefields of the Somme. It's that and so much more. Beautifully written and translated. Very possibly the best book I have read this entire year.

3 likes1 stack add
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MichaelKwan
The Misfit's Manifesto | Lidia Yuknavitch
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Just picked up today. Debating setting aside my current book and pushing this to the front of the line.

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MichaelKwan
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Pickpick

An informative, easily read book on an integral part of Norwegian culture and life. I learned of the author, Lars Mytting, while watching the NRK's National Firewood Evening program on Netflix. Why watch a whole evening of television devoted to all stages of firewood? Because it's informative and thoughtful and more than a bit relaxing. Like the book. Mytting gets to the core cultural importance of the wood fire to Norwegians.

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MichaelKwan
A Man Called Ove: A Novel | Fredrik Backman
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Pickpick

Why did none of you warn me about this? It overly sentimental and tugs at the heart. Emotionally manipulative in a good way, I think. The story is a bit too perfect. The characters too precisely drawn to serve their purpose. But, I don't care. I enjoyed it enough to read in two days. No pictures of the book cover. Have a picture of my own Cat Annoyance.

CatLass007 Kitty!! 2y
4 likes1 comment
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MichaelKwan
Fever at Dawn | Pter Grdos
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Mehso-so

Getting back to one I had set aside when other books came in. Péter Gárdos' novel is a fictionalized retelling of his parents story. Miklós and Lili, both Hungarian Jews, are two survivors of the extermination famous. Transported to Sweden to recover, they are in separate hospitals in a strange land. This story tells how they met, and fell in love. The writing is good, but the way Gárdos tells the story lessens the emotional weight.

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MichaelKwan
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Pickpick

Recommended. Like all autobiography or memoir, you have to retain some skepticism for what the author says about himself. But the feeling you get for the times in which he lived is evocative. His scathing descriptions of the "mass-men" who led to the rise of the Nazi Part and who supported it are so very well-written and observed. Reck is a great, witty, and articulate storyteller.

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MichaelKwan
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This came in today's mail! Friedrich Reck was a Prussian aristocrat. To him, democracy was a farce and the citizenry. But he left a journal of the years the Nazis were in power. A period when a demagogue manipulated the people's need for economic security, when he appealed to racism and enlisted the the worst impulses of patriotic fervor to support his regime. A time when... Excuse me, I need to go purchase a journal and start writing.

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MichaelKwan
In Other Lands | Sarah Rees Brennan
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Pickpick

We've seen a number of very good portal fantasy novels lately. The type where a young person discovers a way to enter the fantasy world adjacent to ours enters a new life. Elliott Shafer is not the heroic child usual in these stories. He barely wants to be there. He's a pacifist who doesn't want to take up the sword and lead a heroic life. Definitely recommend. Especially for positive bisexual and pansexual representation. Solid, witty writing.

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MichaelKwan
Deathless | Catherynne M. Valente
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So many good quotes in this book. Valente's writing is so good, her words almost mythic at times.

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MichaelKwan
Deathless | Catherynne M. Valente
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Pickpick

Really masterful. Such a deep concentration of Russian history and mythology. I had set this aside for a bit, but decided to bring it on a road trip and quickly finished it off (while my spouse was driving) as if I had never put it down.

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MichaelKwan
Penny Post (Revised) | Frank Staff
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Pickpick

A short little history on a small, obscure subject. You wouldn't normally consider the establishment of uniform, inexpensive postal rates as an interesting subject. And, by itself, it probably isn't. But, this small book is a nice look at a number of lives dedicated to making communications easier between people. It is the deep look into the people and their hopes and efforts that make me recommend this book.

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MichaelKwan
Meddling Kids | Edgar Cantero
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Pickpick

I've been in a reading slump the last month or so. Finishing this off may have broken me out of it. Yes. It's a fun book. The characters are well-written and far enough away from the inspirations not to veer off into parody. As importantly, they're deeply likeable.

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MichaelKwan
Meddling Kids | Edgar Cantero

"... And the Necromonicon was written in Arabic, I think, with handwritten notations in English around it, like a pronunciation guide, and I started to read it ... I might have read it aloud."
"Way to fucking go, Nate."
- From "Meddling Kids" by Edgar Cantero, possibly the best book I will read all summer.

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MichaelKwan
The Nakano Thrift Shop | Hiromi Kawakami
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Pickpick

Also finished this off today. It's a little study of the owner and employees of a local secondhand store in Japan. The characters are well drawn and interesting. The events of the story are normal, slice of life events. There are no great ups or downs, no huge upsets or disasters. But you become invested in the characters' lives as if you're watching friends. Probably best describes as a pleasant book.

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MichaelKwan
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Pickpick

Outstanding. Seanan McGuire has written a worthy origin story for last year's EVERY HEART A DOORWAY. Jacqueline and Jillian are forced to live their parents' expectations of them, until they find a doorway leading to The Moors, a dark world of fantasy horror, where they learn who they truly are. Yeah, that sounds ominous and dire. But McGuire's writing creates an imaginative of sisters and an imaginative world.

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MichaelKwan
The Refrigerator Monologues | Catherynne M. Valente
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Pickpick

I have been anticipating this book since I first saw it listed. It was even better than I had hoped. Cat Valente has created a whole superhero world, just to tell us the stories of the characters who are usually just props or motivations for the heroes. Highly, highly recommended. (The pic is the last story in the collection and hugely powerful.)

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MichaelKwan
The Refrigerator Monologues | Catherynne M. Valente
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Pushed to the very top of the reading list and in progress now.

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MichaelKwan
The Thin Man | Dashiell Hammett
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Pickpick

Finally got around to reading this. Nice. Much lighter than The Maltese Falcon. But The Thin Man has a wider range of characters.

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MichaelKwan
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Pickpick

I think this is my most-read Agatha Christie mystery. The history of the book speaks for itself. It's a nearly perfect Poirot mystery.

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MichaelKwan
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Pickpick

Overall good. Like all anthologies, some pieces are better than others and which are the better ones will be a larger of taste. But nearly all capture a feeling of science fiction adventure. Now that summer blockbuster season is here, this world be a good choice for a science fiction fan.

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MichaelKwan
River of Teeth | Sarah Gailey
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Pickpick

tl;dr - Do yourself a favor and add this to your summer reading list.

The short description is alternative history, hippo Western. Just suspend your disbelief and enjoy Sarah Gailey's adventure about an alternative US that imported hippos to be ranched as a source of meet for a hungry nation. Her story has an imaginative group of gallant and not-so gallant heroes taking on a villain who feeds his enemies to feral hippos. Enjoy

TobeyTheScavengerMonk Oh it is totally already on there. 3y
5 likes1 comment
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MichaelKwan
Men Without Women | Haruki Murakami
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Pickpick

I already loaned my copy to another Murakami fan, so no artfully arranged picture of the book. The gist is this. These are good, well written Murakami short stories. You can see his hand and no one else could have written this. Murakami fans will want these stories and will want to add this book to their collection.

Having said that, though, new readers would be better off starting with Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman if they want short stories.

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MichaelKwan
Men Without Women | Haruki Murakami
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Yeah, this combination works. Now, if only I had some jazz music. Maybe a talking cat too.

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MichaelKwan
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Pickpick

This is one I set aside for a while and came back to. The life and times of Frida Kahlo are fascinating, as are the social arenas she and husband Diego Rivera lived in. The book is a fiction biography (biographical fiction?) framed by the (fictional?) secret journal and cooking notes of Frida herself. It's a nice, warm book and appreciative of the artist and the woman.

4 likes1 stack add
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MichaelKwan
Spill Zone | Scott Westerfeld
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Pickpick

I have decided. I hate Scott Westerfeld for this. This is so good. The characters, the story, the artwork that just fits. WHY DID IT HAVE TO END? Yes, this is the first volume and hopefully more is to come. But I don't want to wait to read more of Addison's story. I want it now. So, yes. Get this. Join me in disgruntled waiting for the next volumes.

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MichaelKwan
Spill Zone | Scott Westerfeld
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Made a quick run to Vromans Bookstore in Pasadena. Coco is displeased with my choice of display arrangements.

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MichaelKwan
Revenger | Alastair Reynolds
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Pickpick

Picture a blend of far future science fiction and Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island in its book and movie forms. Then you'll be close to Revenger. It's not deep, big idea science fiction, but it's a well-crafted adventure story. With space pirates.

7 likes1 stack add
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MichaelKwan
Walkaway | Cory Doctorow
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Pickpick

Finished in three days. It's a fast, exciting novel interweaving a lot of ideas and discussion of ideas. Big ideas like what does it mean to live in a world that's on the edge of being beyond scarcity while extrapolating what the effect will be of the worst aspects of the economic structure of our society.

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MichaelKwan
Deathless | Catherynne M. Valente
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Got a new toy in yesterday's mail. It was on sale. I have been wanting a e-ink reader to experiment with for a bit. I think it will be better than reading ebooks on this, in comparison to reading them on my phone. We'll see.

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MichaelKwan
Mikhail and Margarita | Julie Lekstrom Himes
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I suppose I should be drinking vodka to accompany a novel set in Stalin's Russia. But this is a nice whiskey for drinking on the front porch.

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MichaelKwan
Baba Dunja's Last Love | Alina Bronsky
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Pickpick

Yeah. The story of Baba Dunja is a quick read. 135 pages of good characters and good description. Baba Dunja's reminiscences of her life and of her present life in the village of Tschernowo is a plain story, well told.

4 likes1 stack add
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MichaelKwan
Baba Dunja's Last Love | Alina Bronsky
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Current read. Just arrived in the mail yesterday. Short, quick reading. Warm and funny. So far.

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MichaelKwan
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Pickpick

A good solid history of the origin, making of, success of, and continuing life of one of the best Hollywood movies. Isenberg is especially good when describing the lives of the European refugees who played in the film and made it's atmosphere more real. Too narrow in scope for a reader looking for history of studio-era Hollywood. But a good book for a fan of the movie.

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MichaelKwan
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Released today. Purchased today. Started reading today.

5 likes1 stack add
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MichaelKwan
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Pickpick

Finished today as well. I started just liking it and finished living the novella. Kij Johnson has written more than a Lovecraft pastiche. She treats his Dreamlands with full respect while bringing a missing perspective to the setting. A perspective that I doubt Lovecraft would have recognized was missing. Love Kij Johnson's voice here.