#balisebooks – March 2019

(Version française ici : #balisebooks – Mars 2019)

Wicked Sweet – Chelsea M. Cameron

Dove is a student in business school, and she has A Plan for what happens next – she works at developing her own personal brand, and she works as a media consultant to pay her bills. And then one day, her high school arch-nemesis, Seven, appears in the same college, and they end up needing to cooperate on a school project. Seven also has A Plan: she eventually wants to open a goth-themed bakery, and she needs a bit of help testing her creations. Wicked Sweet is a super cute romance book and I really enjoyed it – it may lack a bit in the “plot” and “tension” department, but I really liked the characters 🙂

Happiness for Humans – P.Z. Reizin

Jen works for a software company: she talks to their star AI, Aiden, to teach it (or him) how to interact with people. Tom is a writer, and he also gets the attention of Aiden. Eventually, they both receive a e-mail from a mysterious “common friend” suggesting they should meet. The whole concept of a rom-com where AIs play a large role is pretty fun, and it’s mostly well-implemented in Happiness for Humans. But I was very disappointed by a couple of clichĂ©s that annoyed me to no end (specifically, the fact that software engineers are considered as “not entirely humans”, and referring to women as “the opposite species”… ugh.), making my reading of the book far less enjoyable than it could have been.

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t – Nate Silver

I didn’t finish this one – mostly because I needed to look forward to my commute reading at that time, and I wasn’t looking forward to continue reading this, because it felt fairly dry and the chapters were longer than my attention span. I think this is mostly a timing issue for me.

Nine Perfect Strangers – Liane Moriarty

A story that starts with nine people gathering in a luxury health resort, all with their history and their hope for transformation and a better life. The owner of the health resort is convinced to be able to help them – as long as the customers follow her lead. I liked the setting and most characters (although I had a hard time not conflating a couple of them because I messed up the name/character associations in my head), some parts made me chuckle, and some parts got a tear. I’m not necessarily convinced by the major plot point, but generally speaking it was a very pleasant read, and probably exactly what I needed then. Also: I actually missed my train stop the other day because I was distracted by my reading, which is probably a good sign for the book.

Nemesis Games – James S.A. Corey

Fifth book of The Expanse, the series that keeps delivering, even after 2800+ pages. The book starts with the Rocinante crew all getting on their merry way for various (temporary) reasons, and all ending up getting involved in various adventures and catastrophes. Nemesis Games is more centered on the “original cast” than the previous book, which I liked, because it was nice to have a bit more familiarity with the characters considering the large dramatic scale of the plot. To me, this series of books stays very solid; not necessarily very original or mind-blowing, but consistently good and worth reading, which is a feat in itself.

Geek Girl – Holly Smale

Harriet is a (very) geeky/nerdy highschooler who gets unexpectedly hired to be a fashion model. This is not the kind of premise where you expect a very believable book – and even under this assumption, I found myself requiring a higher effort than usual at suspension of disbelief. It was still pretty fun, and there were a few funny moments and a few touching moments, but there was definitely too much eye-rolling from my side to consider reading the second one any time soon.

La Papeterie Tsubaki – Ito Ogawa

This one is a Japanese book, that I read in French translation (there’s no English translation that I know of). The narrator, Hatoko, is a young woman who runs a stationary shop and who works as a public writer/calligrapher for people who have a hard time expressing what they want to say on paper. Most of the book, over the span of a year, is about the encounters between Hatoko and her customers, and the relationship of Hatoko with her trade – how she chooses her paper, ink, writing style to make the written word come to life. It’s a very contemplative and slow book, and it’s quiet and soothing. On a slightly negative standpoint, I was surprised by a few turns of sentences and choices of words, and dialogues sometimes felt weird. But generally speaking I really, really loved this book.