My Cultural Diet

Quick reviews of movies, TV shows, books, restaurants, etc., as I enjoy them. My own private Goodreads, Letterboxd, and Yelp all rolled into one (more info here). Ratings are 100% subjective, non-scientific, and subject to change. May contain affiliate links. 

Always interesting to compare these books to the TV series, especially re. character changes. Perhaps the best example is Michio Pa, who’s the basis for TV’s Camina Drummer. Also, Marco Inaros is just one of those characters that you love to hate. I’m consistently impressed with Corey’s ability to balance the horrors of war with an underlying optimism.
Nemesis Games by James S. A. Corey (The Expanse, Book Five)
This Expanse novel takes a break from the vast space opera/alien stuff to focus on individual stories for each of the Rocinante’s crew. Amos Burton is one of my favorite Expanse characters and I liked his story the best.
Pretty much what I’ve come to expect from Scalzi: nothing earth-shattering, but light, clever, and very entertaining nevertheless. (I finished it in less than two days.) He likens the novel to a fun pop song, which is pretty accurate.
I liked this better than Black Helicopters, but I still think Agents of Dreamland is the best of the trilogy.
Black Helicopters by Caitlín R Kiernan
I didn’t enjoy this nearly as much as Agents of Dreamland. Lots of interesting ideas and striking prose, but the disjointed and meandering narrative made it a slog.
Excellent Lovecraft-inspired fiction. Reads like the trippiest X-Files episode never made.
Inside UFO 54-40 by Edward Packard (Choose Your Own Adventure, #12)
Packard has more fun toying with the CYOA format, though this isn’t as trippy as Hyperspace.
Cibola Burn by James S. A. Corey (The Expanse, Book Four)
My least favorite Expanse novel to date. But even a “bad” Expanse novel is still pretty good.
Dark Horse by Gregg Hurwitz (Orphan X, Book Seven)
Read this in under 24 hours. Hurwitz knows how to write a pageturner, but it’s 100% style over substance. I appreciated the effort to make more nuanced and thoughtful bad guys, but I would’ve liked more mindless action and less existential philosophizing re. marriage, parenting, etc.
Hyperspace by Edward Packard (Choose Your Own Adventure, #21)
For a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book geared towards grade schoolers, Hyperspace is pretty trippy and meta.
Space Patrol by Julius Goodman (Choose Your Own Adventure, #22)
Your Code Name Is Jonah by Edward Packard (Choose Your Own Adventure, #6)
Loved the Cold War, 007-esque espionage angle on this one.
Space and Beyond by R. A. Montgomery (Choose Your Own Adventure, #4)
The Cave of Time by Edward Packard (Choose Your Own Adventure, #1)
I was a big fan of The Martian, and this feels very much of a piece. One of those sci-fi novels that makes you feel smarter while you read it. And yes, I’ll totally watch the (inevitable) movie.
Reading this, I can’t help but hear the actors’ voices from the TV series. They really did a marvelous job capturing the spirit of this book.
I’m pretty sure this novel about the world’s greatest assassin (and lover) is supposed to be a parody of the genre, but I found it tedious and pretentious. Did not finish.
I thought this would be right up my alley, but it never clicked for me. Did not finish.