#balisebooks – January 2019

Ce post est traduit en français ici : #balisebooks – Janvier 2019

Let’s try a new format where I try to write a #balisebooks a month (and to write it as I go so that I can publish it on the last day of the month 🙂 ).

Un Cowboy à Paris – Achdé and Jul (in English: A Cowboy in Paris) – the latest Lucky Luke album, where Luke meets Bartholdi and Eiffel (and, indeed, travels to Paris). A very entertaining read: I laughed out loud more than a couple of times 🙂

Glamour in Glass – Mary Robinette Kowal – second book of the Glamourist series. It’s in the direct continuity of the first one, so the general mood and characters are the same. I liked it more than the first one: there’s more exciting stuff happening around the magic system, there’s more action, there’s less “will they/won’t they”. And there’s a couple of tough decisions and tough situations that are, in my opinion, very well handled.

Factfulness – Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund – I wanted to start 2019 with an optimistic read, so I picked Factfulness just after midnight on January 1st. I had put Factfulness on my “to-read” list after reading Bill Gates writing about it (Why I want to stop talking about the “developing” world) – did I already mention that I quite enjoy Bill Gates book reviews? Factfulness is a nice, short read about “facts about the world you probably have wrong”. The main thesis of the book is “the world is actually getting better; it’s also been getting better for a while, and in particular since you’ve been taught about it in school.” Rosling is very careful to not say that things are not bad, but as he mentions several times, “being bad and getting better are not contradictory”. He also explains a number of biases and ways people react to things that can make them see the world as worse than it is, and getting worse. I did like that book, and it fulfilled its goal of “starting 2019 on an optimistic note”; it’s however probably a fairly short-lived book, because the data and facts that it relies on are probably getting old fairly quickly as well.

Caliban’s War – James S.A. Corey – the second book of the Expanse series. I watched the first season on Netflix, I read the first book, I watched the second season a while ago, I read the second book… and I started the third one just after that (note: this typically doesn’t happen, I usually like a small break between two books of a series, if only as a palate cleanser). The Expanse is a series of books that take place in a few hundreds of years: humanity has conquered the solar system and put bases in a fair amount of places. There’s basically three “factions”: Earth, Mars, and the Belters – who, for the most part, were born in low-gravity and can’t really expect to ever go planet-side. In that universe, we follow among others a team of people led by Jim Holden, idealistic to the point of clumsiness, who ends up at the core of a number of large-scale incidents involving events way beyond his pay grade. In Caliban’s War, he’s mostly busy with finding the kid daughter of a scientist, who disappeared during one of those large-scale incidents. I really, really liked Caliban’s War – for me it’s just the sweet spot between world building, politics and action; the writing is very engaging, and I like the multiple point-of-views structure. Highly recommended (but start with the first one – Leviathan Wakes).

Abaddon’s Gate – James S.A. Corey – the third book of the Expanse series. It starts a few months after the end of the second one, and a mysterious ring appeared somewhere on the orbit of Uranus. And circumstances conspire such that the Rocinante and its crew end up being part of a flotilla of ships that go study it – and get into unforeseen problems. This was still good, but I liked it somewhat less than the previous one. I liked the newly introduced characters, but I missed a few from the previous books. The plot rhythm stayed on par with the previous one, even if the plot itself was less to my liking – I was bothered by the “mysticism” that shrouded parts of the plot, and I literally flinched at some unpleasant parts of the it. The latest chapters did make me raise an interested eyebrow and I’m looking forward to the fourth book (I’ll have a break before I start with the fourth one, though 🙂 ).

Harry’s Trees – Jon Cohen – Harry is an employee of the US Forest Service – a job that, to his deep regret, doesn’t have much to do with trees. And his wife dies in a very sad freak accident. Amanda is a nurse who lives in a forest house – and her husband dies with a very sad aneurysm. Her daughter, Oriana, is still hoping that her dad will come back, and retreats in a world of fairy tales. Until Harry and Oriana meet – and the fairy tale becomes a little more real. This was such a beautiful book – I loved it. First, it has a lot of trees, and a lot of love for trees, and I like trees. Then, it has just enough magic to be magic enough without being completely unrealistic. And there are books, and a library (and its librarian), and fairy tales… and more trees.

And if you were to read only one of these… Harry’s Trees.

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