#balisebooks – January 2021

The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and Courage – Brené Brown

A series of lectures by Brené Brown where she talks about shame, vulnerability, emotions in general, and wholeheartedness.

Brené Brown is one of these people who has been in my field of awareness for a long time, but whose work I hadn’t looked into much yet. I think it may be a good thing, because I think I was more receptive to what she had to say than I would have been a year or two ago. She’s an academic who studies shame (which is, apparently, a great way to have people react weirdly when you tell them what you do), and Power of Vulnerability is a recording of a series of lectures (I listened to it as an audiobook) on the topic and on what her research says about shame, vulnerability, and a quality she calls “wholeheartedness”. I found myself nodding furiously at numerous time, going “fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck” at numerous others, and it was the kind of text for which I kind of want to get a copy where I can highlight stuff manically.

Oddball, Sarah Andersen

The fourth collection of “Sarah’s Scribbles”.

I really like Sarah Andersen, she’s hilarious and very relatable, so I got her first three books of Sarah’s Scribbles a while ago, and completed the collection this month. It’s still very funny, and it has a sticker set 😉 I’m considering putting a couple on my laptop 😛

Rapture In Death, J.D. Robb

In the fourth book of the … in Death series, Eve Dallas investigates a series of unlikely suicides.

In Rapture in Death, three people vaguely connected to Eve Dallas die from suicide – but something doesn’t quite add up in Eve’s opinion, so she investigates. I continue enjoying this series, although this one had a pretty disturbing scene (apart from all the dead people, I mean) which kind of spoilt my enjoyment. But we got to see a bit more of Roarke, who’s shown as actually competent (on top of, you know, hot, rich as fuck, nice, and pretty snarky), which was nice; it’s also nice to have an established relationship that is a source of stability and not drama. It’s nice to know that I have a long (long) series in which I can pick the next book and find familiar ground, and still have all the books independent enough (so far) to not feel the need to read the whole series at once. I appreciate that very much.

The Echo Wife, Sarah Gailey

Book cover for The Echo Wife. It represents a mirrored diamond ring; the title is written in the middle as if it were split by the mirror too; the name of the author (Sarah Gailey) is mirrored on top and bottom of the cover.

What happens when your husband replaces you with a clone of yourself?

In The Echo Wife, Evelyn is the lead scientist in a company that makes clones. Clones are, for Evelyn, nothing more than specimens: they’re grown as adults for a specific use, prepared and primed, and discarded as biological waste when they have had said use. The book starts shortly after Evelyn divorced her husband, after having discovered that he had made a clone of her – a more “compliant” version of her. Said clone calls Evelyn one day: the husband is dead…

This was for sure a gripping read. Gailey holds the suspense until the end (which I actually found satisfying), and the ethical questions and ramifications around human cloning are a fascinating theme. I’m somewhat skeptical about the apparent absence of anyone questioning the ethics of what Evelyn does (completely in the open), but I’ll let that slip for the purposes of a good story – and it actually makes the book and the questioning just on the right side of creepy (I thought.) Note that this book definitely needs to come with a content warning about domestic abuse.

Murder by Other Means, John Scalzi

In the second book of The Dispatcher series, Tony Valdez has a few people around him dying in ways that make him more than suspicious.

Another Audiobook – and actually the sequel of the very first audiobook I listened to 🙂 In The Dispatcher’s world, people who get murdered have a 99.9% chance of, instead of dying, waking up naked back in their own home. That creates business: Tony Valdez is a dispatcher, someone paid to actively kill people just before they die with a high probability – so that, instead, they have a very high chance of surviving. Of course, there are also other, shadier reasons to call for a dispatcher – and Valdez just had a contract of this type. Following that, he runs into a bank robbery where one of the robbers is part of the 0.1% who… don’t wake up. And that’s just the beginning of things going to shit for Valdez.

This was an entertaining listen: the story was perfectly adequate, and Zachary Quinto’s narration was fantastic. A nice way to spend a few hours while walking around.

3 thoughts on “#balisebooks – January 2021

  1. Which scene in Rapture in Death is the pretty disturbing scene? the one besides Mavis’ show, or another?

    “An established relationship that is a source of stability and not drama” is a very short and precise way of describing what I like the most in this series, thanks a lot for these words. If you come across other books or series with that element, I’m very interesting in hearing from them.


    1. Precisely that scene, yeah.
      As for “low-to-no-drama established relationships” – I’ll give a shout to Mary Robinette Kowal’s series Lady Astronaut and, in a smaller measure but I think still more than average, Glamourist (disclaimer: I’m not done with Glamourist yet 🙂 ).


      1. That was indeed quite icky, but I think I was more disturbed by the new technology than by this scene, so it took me while to find a single disturbing scene.

        And thanks for the recommendations, I’ll check them out. To trade for them I’d recommend the Steerswoman (though I haven’t finished it, it can still disappoint), not for the romantic relationships, but for the nice main characters which remind me a bit of the Wayfarer crew (in a darker and more medieval setting though).


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