WeblogPoMo 2024: Books I read on vacation

Not dead, just elsewhere

Hey! How are you doing lately? I’ve been doing pretty good! I’ve been settling into my new job and hanging with the family. I bought myself a Steam Deck at the beginning of the year and played through Baldur’s Gate III, which was amaaaaazing. You should play it! I’ve mostly been ignoring this blog and my various side projects… and that’s OK, and I’m not gonna apologize for that! I’ve been enjoying myself, spending time with the people I care about, and as a result, I feel way more like a functional human than I did last year.

I do still fully intend to get back to a bunch of that stuff, but… later, ya know? I’ve decided I’m taking a well-being year :)

Anyway, it’s WeblogPoMo 2024! Given historical trends, I probably will not be posting every day this month, but in the spirit of things, I thought I’d at least try to post a little.


As of a roughly a week or so ago, my wife and I have been married for 10 years! Continuously!

To celebrate, we ditched the kid with his aunt & uncle and headed down to Cancun. We stayed at a brand-new all-inclusive resort, and I could write a whole tribute to A Supposedly Fun Thing That I’ll Never Do Again about that particular establishment, but I’m not trying to be DFW here. Despite my issues with the resort, it was overall a very successful, fun, and relaxing vacation.

Here’s a picture of a Mayan ruin:

A crumbling Mayan pyramid, surrounded by vegetation

Here’s a picture of an iguana:

A tan iguana with black/brown markings, hanging out in the sun on some sandy soil

While I was on vacation, I read the three books! Here’s what I thought about them:

System Collapse by Martha Wells

At some point last year, Martha Wells made a post on Mastodon saying something like “I’ve got 3 things coming out this year, and you can preorder them all,” and so I did! Out of the three, I only ever got around to reading Witch King last year, though; I intended to read System Collapse after that, but then I got distracted by Ninefox Gambit and was compelled to read the entire Machineries of Empire series, and by the time I had finished with that, System Collapse had disappeared somewhere into my office. Luckily, I found it the week before I left for vacation.

My favorite bits of this were the interplay between SecUnit and the central system, and the developing aro life partnership between SecUnit and ART. One day I’ll need to sit down and re-read this series from start to finish in one go; I always have a hard time remembering specifics of what happened in previous books. I also have a hard time remembering who any of the human characters are, or what differentiates them from each other, but I think at least a little bit of that is deliberate on the part of the author. I don’t read these for the humans, though.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

I didn’t think this was a YA book when I picked it up, and it doesn’t appear to be marketed as such, but it contains a lot of teenage yearning, and a plot that would be resolved much more easily if any of the characters who obviously care deeply for each other actually talked to each other about anything. The main plot has a bit of a Hunger Games vibe, with the protagonist taken captive and forced to train for and participate in a lethal tournament by a wicked and corrupt dictator, and developing friendships with her trainer and some of her competitors along the way by being one of the few not-totally-awful people in the vicinity. There’s also a “mean popular girl versus exciting new girl” subplot that seems to differ wildly in tone from the main plot, until it is tied together at the end; I expect mean girl to reemerge as a harpy queen or something later in the series.

This was pretty different from my usual fare. Romantic concerns are not usually as much of a factor in the stuff I read, and the author describes the main character’s outfits with the same care that is given to describing feasts in the Redwall books. I enjoyed it, though, and intend to continue with the series, although the blurb I read for the next book was something like “everyone keeps secrets from each other and shit hits the fan” so I will probably continue to be frustrated with the characters’ lack of communication with each other for at least one more book.

City of Bones by Martha Wells

This is an updated and revised version of one of Martha Wells’ earlier novels. The original was released long before I was aware of Martha Wells, so I can’t tell you how the revised edition compares to that, but it does compare favorably to her other work. This reminded me the most of Witch King, which makes sense because that’s the other fantasy novel of hers that I’ve read so far. The setting also reminded me a bit of Rosemary Kirstein’s Steerswoman series; I won’t spoil you on either, but the backstory of how stuff got wrecked and how it’s been going since then is similar, although the Steerswoman apocalypse is a lot further in the past than the City of Bones one.

Khat is very much a protagonist in the vein of SecUnit and Kai, severed from his people and his original “purpose in life” and using his unique abilities to help his new found family of misfits. There’s a fair amount of intrigue going on and several plot twists; the big revelation at the end was very satisfying and an excellent payoff to all of the world-building. It almost reminded me of some of William Gibson’s weirder stuff, except that Martha Wells can actually write a decent ending to a story instead of just chopping it off and calling it done.

The ending of this one was bittersweet; it was believable but I think the romantic dimension of the relationship between the two characters was undersold and brought in too late. There weren’t a lot of hints that the characters might be starting to feel that way about each other, although it made sense given what they had been through together. This is a standalone book and works well as one, but I certainly wouldn’t mind a couple more short stories set in this universe, hint hint nudge nudge.