July 18: Tone of Voice by Kaia Sønderby. The sequel in which I’m expecting closure (and a space battle) (spoiler: the battle was mostly on the ground, and the closure is only partial). Nastiness to the protagonist didn’t happen until 52% (REPORTERS!) but at 58% we had nasty aliens and human supremacists! Not as much of a Mary Sue as I’d feared from several people’s accounts, only minor irritations (is “stellar” really the only word to express high approval?) and some proofreader itches (“aromatic” is definitely not the same as “aromantic”).
Failure to Communicate by Kaia Sønderby. It’s on Goodreads so I don’t have to grumble about it only being on Amazon! Bought it and the sequel as well. And peeked at the ending to make sure that what happens to her at the end isn’t her fault and the people she cares about still like her (spoiler: absolutely). A really nasty antagonist has turned up, and I know a RL person exactly like them (except the RL person is just annoying and sometimes very unfortunate, not actively evil). Too much diplomacy, and cringey things said to the protagonist, but it’s mostly villains and other antagonists saying those — that’s part of what makes them antagonists, after all. Ends well-for-now but I think it needs the sequel for full closure.
July 15: The Blur in the Corner of your Eye by Sarah Pinsker. The first 85% or so read like a mystery story, and because it was from the Hugo packet I was waiting for the SF or fantasy, but it turned out to be horror at such a late stage that I couldn’t very well put it down easily. Gah. Well, at least it ends on an optimistic note.
Testing Pandora by Kaia Sønderby. Far-future with eugenics, which I’d normally skip, but I like the protagonist a lot. It’s the prequel to a series, and I absolutely want to read the rest as well. I don’t know where I got it: it wasn’t in the 2020 Pride Bundle (though I think the protagonist is bi). Very minor gripe: the protagonist has a couple of parrots, who she let a shipmate care for when she was on the away team, and we never see them again. Strange oversight. Also the first-contact aliens are birdlike, but she didn’t seem to use her experience with actual birds to better interact with them.
July 13: Attention Saint Patrick (get it from Gutenberg, not from one of those ad-supported “read free online” sites!) by Murray Leinster. Funny, silly space opera story.
At Bertram’s Hotel by Agatha Christie. Better than I remember, probably one of the best Miss Marples. Perhaps because Miss Marple herself doesn’t figure in it much, which is what some reviewers have against it! I wrote in 2014 “I’m pretty sure that I prefer the film” but I’d have to see the film again to be completely sure of that. (I do prefer the film of Murder at the Vicarage, because the book has an obnoxious first-person narrator.) I’d completely forgotten the unsatisfactory ending, though. Rooting for a character a whole book long to find that they turn out to be the villain (or at least a villain) in the end is not much fun.
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