Aurelien’s December reading wrap-up

Did you get a lot of reading done in December? It’s usually one of my best months, because there’s so much built-in relaxation time! Here’s what I read for fun in the last month of 2019.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

How do you ask someone about their hobbies after your magically induced make-out session is interrupted by a future frat bro?

This was especially fun to pick up at the library because I so rarely read “new” (current year) books! I saw it on Instagram and was, of course, intrigued. The Goodreads description is a bit long, so I’d say: lesbian teen witches in Salem who have to deal with magical parents, exes, and a potential Blood Witch out to get them.

I gave it 3 stars because it’s cute, new, and the characters are pretty convincing. But I’m not generally a fan of in-world jargon, so mentions of “Regs” (non-witches), for example, took me out of the story at times. That said, it looks like the start of a series and I’ll probably check out the next one!

Prey by Michael Crichton

In the Nevada desert, an experiment has gone horribly wrong. A cloud of nanoparticles — micro-robots — has escaped from the laboratory. This cloud is self-sustaining and self-reproducing. It is intelligent and learns from experience. For all practical purposes, it is alive.

This was a comforting reread for me. I’m a big fan of Michael Crichton thrillers and I enjoy reading them over and over. Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Congo, Sphere… I love them! The formula of science-ish, modern tech, human fallibility, and terror is there in Prey as well.

Most “AI” today is not, really, autonomous, learning intelligence in the way we imagine. But we’ll get there, eventually, and this book illustrates so many of the very real challenges with creating artificial intelligence – and what it means to even attempt control. Don’t get me wrong: this story is not going to happen in real life, as Crichton always added a dash of sensationalism to make the stories work, but it’s a thrilling, pop-sci cautionary tale.

What are you planning to read in 2020? What authors do you go back and reread over and over?

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