Category Archives: book reviews

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow book cover.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin is a touching story about two socially awkward people and how their lives came to be entangled.

At its core, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a story about love, friendship, and belonging. Our main characters, Sam and Sadie, seek belonging and companionship; apart from each other, they have trouble finding it. And even together, they find it only occasionally and often imperfectly.

The story spans more than 30 years. Sam and Sadie meet as children, drift apart, and reconnect later in life. They spent their lives immersed in the video game world, and I found this aspect of the story the most interesting. Having grown up in the same era as Sam and Sadie, I recognized many of the mentioned games. I also identified with Sadie’s feelings about being a woman in a man’s world.

While I did enjoy this more than Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, I can’t say I loved it. It felt superficial at times, none of the characters were particularly likable, and in the end, I didn’t care what happened to them. I just wanted them to get over themselves and stop always doing whatever was absolutely in their worst interests.

Ironically, when I finished it, I rated it five stars. I’m not quite sure why. Perhaps the end got to me?

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Talking to Strangers book cover

Talking to Strangers

I recently listened to Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell on Audible. Unfortunately, this is my least favorite Gladwell book so far. And actually, I don’t think I care for Gladwell that much. His work feels highly overrated, and his application of research to his chosen topics seems forced and on thin ground in some places.

Talking to Strangers is a weird mix of scientific research and experiments laid over sensational news headlines to explain how/why everyone “got it wrong.” Gladwell covers Jerry Sandusky, Larry Nassar, Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM), Brock Turner, and others. Then, he uses these to tie together a theory about police and what happened with Sandra Bland.

This book should come with some trigger warnings. Gladwell goes into graphic details of sexual assault, including cases involving children. These are mainly related to Sandusky and Nassar. I wasn’t expecting so much about sexual assault and abuse, and this came as an unwelcome surprise to me.

Here are the bits that stood out to me as interesting and that I would have enjoyed in a 30-minute TED Talk:

  • Humans are adapted to default to truth. This means we generally believe we are being told the truth, and it takes a lot to tip the balance. This behavior is essential for a functioning society but comes with a cost when people are untruthful.
  • Kansas City Police and their model of preventive patrol does work–but only when police officers are aggressively looking for crimes, physically present, and do not default to truth. This may be what has led to current police situations we’ve seen occurring all too often lately.
  • Suicide is often a coupled behavior, meaning it is tied to a method or location. Removal of access to the coupled method can prevent suicides. (He cites some research on suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning and the reduction in deaths when British “town gas” was replaced with natural gas, containing far less carbon monoxide.

And that’s it. I would probably not recommend this book to anyone.

Rating: 2 out of 5.
In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune book cover, featuring art showing a cabin and treehouses.

In the Lives of Puppets

I was so excited when NetGalley sent me an ARC of In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune. I have enjoyed everything I have read by TJ Klune, and was eager to read this.

I know I mention this in many of my reviews, but discussing this novel without giving away too much of the plot is a challenge. I don’t want to spoil it for y’all!

[Pausing to go read the official book description.]

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised; They reveal almost everything in the blurb, which is why I usually avoid reading them. I guess that means I can continue without worrying about spoilers, as I won’t mention anything they haven’t already spoiled.

Our protagonist, Victor, lives in a world filled with robots. Some are humanoid, while others, like Rambo, are not—Rambo is obvi a modified Roomba. It’s very Swiss Family Robinson meets Wall•E. Pinocchio’s influence is also evident, especially given the epigraphs.

I absolutely love the world this story is set in—the freaky robots-rule-the-world-post-apocalypse future that we’ve all been afraid of since learning about Skynet from The Terminator. I wish there were more about how this world came to be, the (other) robots, and the City of Electric Dreams (which must be Las Vegas, right?).

Who would have imagined a sarcastic semi-psychotic nurse robot (Registered Automaton To Care, Heal, Educate and Drill—Nurse Ratched for short) and a dim-witted but loyal and loving Roomba as the ultimate family and adventure companions? Each character has unique quirks and personalities, drawing us into their world.

As we delve into Victor’s life amid a world of robots, we’re forced to reconsider our understanding of what it means to be human and reflect on the potential for artificial intelligence to experience genuine emotions and self-awareness. Can a robot truly experience emotions? Possess free will and its own unique desires? What does having a heart mean for a machine?

In conclusion, In the Lives of Puppets masterfully balances this introspection with humor, adventure, and the occasional heartstring tug, making it an engaging and thought-provoking read. This novel is a must-read for fans of TJ Klune and anyone who enjoys a unique, thought-provoking, and entertaining story. And after finishing it, you’ll be crossing your fingers and hoping for more featuring these characters and their world, just like me.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Publishing Group for an advance copy in exchange for sharing my opinions. All opinions in this review are my own.

Book cover showing a woman in a ring of fire.

The Secret Within

The Secret Within by Sean Platt and David Wright is an urban fantasy novel about a psychic detective, Delaney West. Delaney has been hired to find a missing person, and his girlfriend, Anika, might be the only one with answers.

This novel started well and was exciting and engaging. I was into the mystery, and I liked the premise of the psychic detective. However, I feel like it failed to develop Delaney’s character’s supernatural aspects to sufficient depth early in the novel.

Also, it takes a wildly unexpected twist at the end, which felt very Deus Ex Machina / WTF. It reminded me of how I felt watching the end of Annihilation. Angry, disappointed, and overall unsatisfied.

Unfortunately, it went off the rails for me, and I would not recommend this book.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Thanks to NetGalley and Sterling & Stone for an advance copy in exchange for sharing my opinions. All opinions in this review are my own.