SarahMichigan (sarahmichigan) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books #15-16

Book #15 was "Ancillary Justice" by Ann Leckie. I'd heard good things about this book and it has won awards, so it was on my "to read" list. Then I found out Leckie is guest of honor at an upcoming con, so I I bumped it up the list, and I'm so glad I read it! This story takes place in the future where the Radch have taken over huge swaths of the universe, trying their best (in their own minds, anyway) to be humane and fair with the people they conquer, turning the cooperative ones into full citizens. The book follows the story of an AI that used to inahbit a whole ship plus had its consciousness spread out among the bodies of formerly dead and frozen conquered people, called "ancillaries." The AI has been mostly destroyed and only inhabits one human body. She has parts of her memory erased, but the parts she remember are disturbing, and she's looking for answers and revenge. The book is space opera, but because the first-person narrative by Breq is so engaging, it really pulls you in. I loved it and can't wait to read the next two in the series and to (I hope) meet the author soon.

Book #16 was "Beauty Queens" by Libba Bray, as an audibook. I can't even remember how I came to get this from the library - I might have just been looking at YA audiobooks and found the premise amusing: a plane full of beauty queens goes down on a deserted island. What happens next? What happens next is a hilarious satire of the beauty industry and consumer culture, as well as a deconstruction of societal notions about gender. Bray walked the line of making it so ridiculous that it borders on camp, but she does end up fleshing out the characters with back stories, hopes and dreams, so they are more than just stereotypes. I had a few criticisms of how she handled point of view in the book, but I really had fun with it and recommend it, especially as an audiobook read by the author, with a short Q&A with Bray at the end.
1. Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time" [nonfiction]- David Oliver Relin and Greg Mortenson (unabridged audiobook)
2. The Detroit Electric Scheme [fiction]- D.E. Johnson
3. Classic Philip Jose Farmer 1964-1973 (Volume 5  in the Classics of Modern Science Fiction series) [fiction/short stories]- PJ Farmer
4. "The Aspern Papers" and "The Turn of the Screw" (omnibus volume with notes and commentary) [fiction]- Henry James
5. Ever After (11th in "The Hollows" series) [fiction]- Kim Harrison (unabridged audiobook)
6. On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family [nonfiction]- Lisa See
7. Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama [nonfiction/ graphic memoir]- written and illustrated by Alison Bechdel
8. My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir [nonfiction/memoir]- Noelle Hancock
9. House of Leaves [fiction]- Mark Z. Danielewski
10. Ready Player One [fiction]- Ernest Cline (unabridged audiobook)
11. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America [nonfiction]- Barbara Ehrenreich
12. Too Late to Die Young: Nearly True Tales from a Life [nonfiction/memoir]- Harriet McBryde Johnson
13. The Blood of Olympus (Heroes of Olympus series) [fiction]- Rick Riordan (unabridged audiobook)
14. Ivanhoe [fiction]- Sir Walter Scott

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