Sign up for the Tungsten Hippo Weekly Digest to get our recommendations in your inbox - and a free short ebook.

The Drowning Eyes

The Drowning Eyes book cover

This is a thoroughly enjoyable novella about a young woman who buys passage on a small fishing boat with a rag-tag crew, and sets off on a quest we come to understand is incredibly important and dangerous. The characters are delightful, and the world is interesting and believable. It is not fully described, but that feels more like room for future exploration than an absence in this story. The plot is perhaps not up to the level of the rest of the writing, but it is not ridiculous, either, and overall this book is well worth your time.

Author: 

Emily Foster

In the Greece of the East

In the Greece of the East book cover

The author of this fascinating book is a German who travels to Lviv, in Ukraine, to try to understand its history, and specifically how World War II changed it and by extension the rest of the region. He makes his trip with a copy of the writing of an earlier German visitor to the city, then called Lemberg. The result is part travelogue, part history, and part personal meditation. It is well-written and an enjoyable read.

Author: 

Stefan Weidner

Charlotte Collins (translator)

Archibald Lawless, Anarchist at Large: Walking the Line

Archibald Lawless, Anarchist at Large cover image

This is a fun, quick read with interesting characters and a fast-paced plot. It is a noirish story that could be called a detective story, but that doesn't really do the originality of its premise justice. Rather than try to categorize it, just read it and enjoy.

Author: 

Walter Mosley

Engraved on the Eye

This is a collection of fantasy short stories, all of which contain some element of Islam or the Middle East. Beyond that one unifying aspect, though, the stories are wide-ranging, encompassing a cowboy story, a story set in modern LA, a story set in the far future, and stories set in fantasy worlds. All of the stories are well told, inventive, and entertaining, and while some are stronger than others, even the weakest story is fun to read.

Author/Editor: 

Saladin Ahmed

A Review of Reviews

When Deb Atwood contacted me offering me a review copy of her book 31 Ghost Novels to Read before You Die, I accepted it because it sounded like an interesting concept. (You can read her introduction to the book in an earlier post.)

I didn’t stop to think about how meta it would be to recommend a book full of recommendations for other books… But wow, is it meta. This is why I haven’t made the book one of my weekly recommendations. It turns out, it was just a little too meta for me.

Crossroads

This is a collection of essays by Ugandan women, writing about their lives and finding their way in their changing country. The essays are presented directly, with no context or clarification for the reader unfamiliar with Uganda. This may lead you to do the occasional web search in search of context, but that is more than compensated for by the chance to read about these women's lives in their own words, without a mediator trying to tell you what it all means. The essays are wide-ranging and reflect a diverse set of experiences. Some are harrowing and some are light-hearted.

Author/Editor: 

Christopher Conte

Decatur's Wake

Decatur's Wake book cover

This is a well-executed example of a genre I have come to love: the short history. This book covers a bit of US history that I suspect most Americans have forgotten (if they ever learned it): the Barbary Wars of the early 1800s. It frames this history within the context of the rise of the US Navy and a rivalry between two of the leading naval officers of the day, Stephen Decatur and William Bainbridge. It is a fast-paced and well-written book, which cites historical evidence to back its points. My only quibble is that it is very much an American history.

Author: 

Daniel Wattenberg

Your Orisons May Be Recorded

Your Orisons May Be Recorded

What if your prayers were answered by a call center staffed with angels and demons? That is the premise of this charming short story. It is at times funny, at times achingly true about the human condition, and at times both at once. I can't tell you much about the plot without giving away part of the charm of the story, but it is short and just $0.99, so you can just buy it and see for yourself. Note that there is some strong language, sex, and other adult themes. It has a light-hearted tone, but is not really a light-hearted story.

Author: 

Laurie Penny

It's Alive! The Science of B-Movie Monsters

It's Alive! book cover

This is a solid piece of science writing masquerading as movie reviews. It is a lot of fun to read, and you'll learn some biomechanics along the way. However, you may never look at movie monsters in quite the same way again.

Author: 

Michael LaBarbera

The Lilies of Dawn

The Lilies of Dawn book cover

This is the story of a young woman who has to find strength she didn't know she had to save her village and her people. Kai's village relies on the yearly harvest of dawn lilies, but that harvest is being decimated by mysterious cranes. Kai would normally turn to her mother, the Dawn Priestess for advice and leadership, but her mother is in the grips of an illness that only the dawn lily harvest can cure, so Kai must find her way on her own. It is a beautifully written and well-paced novelette that is a true joy to read.

Author: 

Vanessa Fogg

Subscribe to Tungsten Hippo RSS