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My first book for the year was the third and final installment in Cixin Liu's "Three-Body Problem" trilogy, "Death's End." I enjoyed all three books in the series, but this was probably the weakeast of the three. Fortunately, it was still an interesting read, and some of the weakness derived from Liu's ambition to write a truly epic series that spans the universe and all of time to boot! I'll take an ambitious novel with some weak spots over a slick novel that doesn't take any chances. In this third book in the series, the Trisolarans have the upper hand and humanity is in deep trouble. The story follows Cheng Xin, a rocket scientist from our era, who is revived from artificial hibernation half a century in the future and who becomes a major player in several incidents between humans and Trisolarans. A special project of the government dreamed up shortly after the Trisolaran threat was first discovered has been forgotten but comes into play in the near future. It's hard to sum up the plot without giving away major spoilers, so I'll just say that I appreciated Liu's attempt to tackle a story on this grand a scale even when I feel he doesn't always succeed. This trilogy is well worth reading as a look into how other cultures "do" science fiction.

Book #2 was "Brat Farrar" by Josephine Tey. I've read two of Tey's other novels ("The Franchise Affair" and "The Daughter of Time") and really liked them. Her writing is deceptively simple but dazzling in that simplicity, and she doesn't give two figs about the normal conventions of mystery writing, which make her novels awfully fun. In this novel, an orphan named "Brat" Farrar runs into a man who mistakes him for Simon Ashby. When the stranger realizes that Brat is the doppleganger of Simon, a young man who is shortly to inherit a fortune, he talks Brat into pretending to be Simon's brother Patrick. Patrick was presumed a suicide at age 13 after the children's parents died, but his body was never found. In return for being coached in Patrick's mannerisms and family history, Brat will give the stranger a cut of the inheritance. Brat decides to give the deception a go less for the money and more for the challenge of trying to pull it off, but develops deeply mixed feelings after he is treated warmly and kindly by all the Ashbys except Simon, who is the only one still suspicious of Brat's claim to be the long-lost brother. I really enjoyed this book a great deal and will be reading more by Tey.

My goals for 2017 are:
-Read at least 50 books
-Read at least 4 books from a list of "classics" that's culled from The Lifetime Reading Plan
-Make nonfiction at least 30 percent of books read this year
-Read at least 12 books by non-white authors
-Read at least 2 books by disabled authors
-Read at least 4 books by LGBT authors
-Keep my gender ratio of authors close to 50/50
-Investigate some reading challenges and use them to add books to my "to read" list



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April 2018


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