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Books #5-6

Book #5 was "Heap House," the first in the Iremonger trilogy by Edward Carey. This is a fun, illustrated YA novel set in an alternative reality/fantasy London. The Iremonger family lives in Heap House, a mansion made of refuse and surrounded by monstrous "Heaps" of trash from London. Each Iremonger is given a "birth object," ranging from a button to a bathtub plug to a lady's shoe. Lucy Pennant arrives at the house as a new servant and encounters Clod, an Iremonger who can hear the voices of the objects. Together, they begin to unravel the dark secrets of Heap House and the Iremonger family. The book was a lot of fun but I'll warn others that it does end on a cliff-hanger, so you're likely not going to be satisfied unless you read the whole trilogy. I found this to be quirky and fun, and the illustrations definitely add a lot to the kooky-but-menacing atmosphere the novel creates.

Book #6 was "Air" by Geoff Ryman. I've read two of Ryman's previous novels ("Was" and "The Child Garden") and loved them, and this one was also excellent. Mae lives in a remote village in a fictional Asian country in the near future when it's announced that a new technology called "Air" will be made available to the whole world, and will start with a test that basically broadcasts the internet into everyone's head. The test goes disastrously wrong and people end up hurt or dead. Mae is nearly driven crazy by it, but eventually she figures out that she has to prepare her village for this new technology. She has to fight both the country's bureaucracy and the superstition and suspicion of her fellow villagers to show them how the new technology will destroy their old way of living but might also possibly bring good, new things into their lives. There's one bit of biological absurdity in the book that made it hard for me to suspend disbelief throughout, but luckily it didn't detract from the overall loveliness of the book. You'll be rooting for Mae to succeed despite adversity. Highly recommended.

1. Death's End (third and final installment in the "Three-Body Problem" trilogy) [fiction]- Cixin Liu (translation by Ken Liu)
2. Brat Farrar [fiction]- Josephine Tey
3. Notorious Victoria: The Life of Victoria Woodhull, Uncensored [nonfiction]- Mary Gabriel
4. Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home [fiction]-  Sheri Booker

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