book list

Well, since I didn’t keep up with my reading list in 2009 (because I didn’t keep up with the blog, see), now I must attempt to reconstruct the entire list from memory and stacks of books sitting on the chest of drawers and the help of Library Elf. Here goes! This will be an abbreviated version, and maybe my new widget (see the lovely sidebar) will take care of keeping track of the books I read in the future, obviating this endless list. The ordering is roughly chronological, but nowhere near exact. List is numeric for the purposes of telling me how many.

  1. Evil Guest by Gene Wolfe
  2. Hikaru No Go, Volume 1 by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata
  3. Hikaru No Go, Volume 2 by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata
  4. Hikaru No Go, Volume 3 by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata
  5. Hikaru No Go, Volume 4 by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata
  6. Hikaru No Go, Volume 5 by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata
  7. Hikaru No Go, Volume 6 by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata
  8. Hikaru No Go, Volume 7 by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata
  9. Hikaru No Go, Volume 8 by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata
  10. Unbinding The Gospel by Martha Grace Reese
  11. Shadows Over Baker Street edited by Michael Reeves and John Pelan
  12. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  13. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
  14. Knights of the Kitchen Table Time Warp Trio Book 1 by Jon Sciezka
  15. The story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wrobleski
  16. The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia
  17. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson
  18. The Shambhala guide to yoga by Georg Feuerstein.
  19. Into the woods by Lyn Gardner, pictures by Mini Grey
  20. Howl’s moving castle by Diana Wynne Jones
  21. Peeps by Scott Westerfield
  22. Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe, Volume 5 by Bryan Lee O’Malley
  23. Hikaru No Go, Volume 9 by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata
  24. Hikaru No Go, Volume 10 by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata
  25. Hikaru No Go, Volume 11 by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata
  26. Hikaru No Go, Volume 12 by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata
  27. Hikaru No Go, Volume 13 by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata
  28. Queen and Country Definitive Edition, Volume 1 by Greg Rucka
  29. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
  30. The Austere Academy Volume 5 of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
  31. Mixed Magics by Dianna Wynne Jones
  32. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
  33. Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
  34. Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
  35. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
  36. Dead To The World by Charlaine Harris
  37. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
  38. Dead As A Doornail by Charlaine Harris
  39. Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris
  40. All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
  41. From Dead To Worse by Charlaine Harris
  42. Four and Twenty Blackbirds by Cherie Priest
  43. Shakespeare’s Landlord by Charlaine Harris
  44. Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris
  45. Finding God in a Tangled World: Thoughts and Parables by Juris Rubenis and Maris Subacs
  46. Farthing by Jo Walton
  47. Mistborn by Brian Sanderson
  48. Frindle by Ander Clements, illustrated by Brian Selnick
  49. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
  50. Dead and gone by Charlaine Harris
  51. Naamah’s kiss by Jacqueline Carey
  52. The green glass sea by Ellen Klages
  53. Yotsuba&! Volume 1 by Kiyohiko Azuma
  54. Yotsuba&! Volume 2 by Kiyohiko Azuma
  55. Crazy in Love by Lani Diane Rich
  56. The Red Tree by Caitlín R. Kiernan

It’s nice to have reviewed the list all in one gulp, even though it was kind of a time-consuming pain to reconstruct. It was like a slide show tour of places I’d been, because I can remember where I sat reading it and what was happening during the time I read. I can feel the passage of the year, here, whether I was bundled while reading or lying in the sun; whether I was home or away; whether I was in public or private. I’d forgotten, for example, that I’d read Ekaterina Sedia’s wonderful Alchemy of Stone, very early in the year.

Additionally, I read loads and loads of short stories this year. Not in a way I can quantify, because most weren’t in anthologies, and some weren’t even published. But trust me, I read vast amounts of short stories this year. Outside of the obtuse “unpublished” comment I just made (which will be explained in due time!), I also read a good amount of short fiction online. In addition to the usual suspects: Clarkesworld and Strange Horizons, I’m also reading fiction from They’ve put out some excellent stories this year. I am still a faithful listener of Escape Pod and PodCastle, and I mean to go back to Pseudopod at some point soonish. If I were to recommend a couple of stories from the podcasts, they’d be: EP215: Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store, EP214: Sinner, Baker, Fablist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast, EP209: On the Eyeball Floor, PodCastle 79: Marsh Gods, PodCastle 77: Nine Sundays in a Row, and PodCastle 62: The Fiddler of Bayou Teche. Happy listening!

Also of note, this year I was given a Sony e-book reader for my birthday. I read three books on it: Four and Twenty Blackbirds, Farthing, and Mistborn. I really enjoyed the reading experience. It was lovely, in particular, to sit on the boat at my in-laws, reading a fat paperback that was actually the slimmest of books because it was the reader. I’m also pleased not to need physical storage for those books, because while I enjoyed them, I am not terribly likely to re-read them, and am pleased not to have deal with the dead tree versions.

This list will probably be modified before year’s end, because I expect to finish some of the books listed in the “Currently Reading” Sidebar on the right before the year’s out (my guess is the diet book and the Kiernan book will be finished). Next year, there may be no list, if I can slice the data from the library the way I want to. Also, there are books missing, probably, and I’ll add them in as I figure out what they are. My husband looked at the list and said, “No Bujold?” which seems odd to me, too.

I met the challenge again this year, though meeting the challenge is always helped by the vast number of graphic novels and YA books I read, which are faster to get through than regular books. Although, to be fair, both the M.T. Anderson books (ostensibly YA) were full-fledged door stops, so it all evens out, in the end.

Christmas goodies in book form this year included Finch by Jeff VanderMeer, which I’m very much looking forward to; The Confessions of Saint Augustine which I owned but lost to water in the basement, so it’s a replacement copy; The Very Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction which is going to be a glory of re-reading goodness and – of course – gift certificates to Amazon which will be delightfully spent shortly.

For mild accountability, because everyone knows my desiderata is out of control, here are the books I’m hoping to read this year: Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves (I read half of it in 2008), China Miéville’s new one The City and The City, Soulless by Gail Carriger (which sounds fun), Norse Code by Greg van Eekhout (squee!), and N.K. Jemisin’s One Hundred Thousand Kingdoms because N.K. Jemisin is awesome like an awesome someone (if you don’t believe me, read her incredible story “Cloud Dragon Skies“, or listen to it at Escape Pod). Other than those books, I’m looking forward to an interesting reading year in 2010, full of great stuff and surprises. Hope your 2009 had as many lovely stories as mine did, and that your 2010 gives you the reading experiences you want.

Continue reading

Reading in the Dark by Seamus Deane. (38) [litfic, book club]. I checked this book out of the library. I’d read three quarters of this book for my book club and then set it aside, but I finally finished it. Here’s the thing: it’s a really lovely book with a strong sense of poetry and it’s sad, but I hated the protag. You’re inside his head the whole way, so if you hate him the way I did, there’s not much for you. On the other hand, some of the imagery is just lovely and there’s a certain wryness to the writing that’s appealing, so it wasn’t a terrible read, by any means. Finished 09/01/08.

Kushiel’s Mercy by Jacqueline Carey. (39) [specfic, althistory]. I checked this book out of the library. I enjoyed it but it was verging on too angsty and not-enough-happensy. It certainly is the weakest of the series so far. There’s one last book out in this series, though, and this book wasn’t so bad that I won’t be checking that one out to read soon. Finished 09/07/07.

The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snickett. (40) [childrens]. I own this. I liked it. Finished 09/14/08.

Magic’s Child by Justine Larbalestier. (41) [YA, specfic]. I checked this out of the library. I have to say Larbalestier nailed the ending. I think she closed this up just right. I still have lingering misgivings about the surfacy feel of the books, but it was nice reading, and I’m glad I took the time. She does a really good five-sense-enfolding setting, which makes the world-travel aspect of the books particularly enjoyable. Finished 09/21/08.

Sly Mongoose by Tobias Buckell. (42) [specfic]. I checked this out of the library. I enjoyed this book a great deal, but everyone knows I love zombie stories. I really liked the eyeball kicks: the floating cities, the otherworldly vistas, the groundsuits, the winged zombies (ok, they’re not technically wings, but that’s how I thought of them: raggedy, rippling wings). There’s the non-stop action, action, action one expects from a Buckell book, which I was happy about. Pepper is a difficult character, and in some cases, I feel like the author stacks the deck in his favor. When Pepper says “This always happens”, the author arranges it so that he’s right, and it feels a little bit like cheating. Again, I had trouble with some of the emotional context. A lot of the external dialog is treated with subtlety and interest, but a lot of the internal dialog is strangely uncomplicated and straightforward. I guess I want a little more emotional ambiguity to color the characters’ inner world. Finished 09/24/08.

Continue reading

In: book list | Tags:

So when am I going to talk about something other than writing, you say. How about reading? Yes, indeed, step right up, it’s book report time.

When last we left my pile of unread books, the score was 4 for the year, it was six months ago, and the last thing I told you about was reading Ragamuffin, with the promise that I was going to track down Crystal Rain and read it too. In this particular case, I have kept my promise. Unfortunately, my recordkeeping during that time leaves something to be desired. I’m not convinced these are all the books I read, and some of the dates are fuzzy, and pneumonia apparently took three weeks of reading out of me back in April. However, I’m making good on the record for posterity here.

Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell. (5) [specfic]. I checked this out of the library. I liked it, though not as well as Ragamuffin. I wonder if having read it out of order affected some of my enjoyment, or whether it was the planet-bound nature of the work, or the fact that it was Buckell’s freshman effort and it kind of shows. It was still a perfectly adequate book, but I certainly recommend others read the books in order, because doing it backward sucks some of the plot momentum out of the first book. I’m still on for the ride, and the third book has come out semi-recently, so I’m going to read that when I get a chance. Finished sometime in 02/08.

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen. (6) [YA, read aloud to Sophia]. I bought this secondhand at a garage sale, because I wanted to read it and I thought Sophia might enjoy it. She liked it quite a bit, as did I. Finished sometime in 02/08.

Sunshine by Robin McKinley. (7) [specfic, vampire]. I bought this and got to it quickly, because I’ve been meaning to read it for a while and I’m so glad I did. I used to read tons of vampire lit, but then I got kind of burned out and read some really terrible books and so had basically stopped reading this genre that I love. This book is wonderful and tender and I loved it. I want more books like this, when I can find them. Finished in early 03/08…maybe?

A fistful of sky by Nina Kiriki Hoffman. (8) [specfic, YA?]. I checked this book out of the library. This was a really interesting book. I continue to really like Hoffman, and wish there were more of her to read. She seems to be a relative unknown, but she’s quite wonderful. The premise of this book was interesting, and I liked her characterization. It was interesting to watch how deftly she laid out her obviously wealthy characters without giving them the usual trappings of the evil rich, and yet making them flawed in their own quite realistic ways. This book has a lot in common with McKinley’s Sunshine. Finished in early 03/08.

Gifts by Ursula K. Le Guin. (9) [specfic, YA]. I checked this book out of the library. Ursula K. Le Guin is a genius (still). I loved this book. Her poetic economy of language is beautiful and stirring. There’s a couple more books in this series, and I intend to read them. Thematically, this book really appealed to me. There’s a lot here about costs. Finished in early 03/08.

Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness by Bryan Lee O’Malley. (10) [graphic novel, reading vacation]. I own this. Read it on the plane to Florida. Enjoy it for what it is, though in my mind Scott Pilgrim falls into the fluff category of reading. Nothing wrong with fluff, except there’s not much to say about it. Perfect for interruptions and plane rides. Finished 03/15/08.

Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together by Bryan Lee O’Malley. (11) [graphic novel, reading vacation]. Ditto. Finished on 03/15/08.

The Living Blood by Tananarive Due. (12) [specfic, reading vacation]. I checked this book out of the library. I had been interested in reading Due for a while now, as a prominent specfic POC author whom I’ve heard interviewed and cited often. I liked this book. It had thriller pacing and plot, although there were places where I thought it strained toward epic and didn’t quite make it. Overall it was skillfully done, but I kept reading the subtext and the symbolism as too overt and obvious, and kept wishing in parts it was a little subtler. She looked away at the ending, erasing some cost for the sake of happy and I didn’t care for that, although her characters do pay prices and it wasn’t total wish-fulfillment. I’m not sure whether I’ll read another book of hers or not. It didn’t set me on fire for her work, though there’s nothing specific that turned me off about it (as with Sarah Monette, frex). If my list of books to read weren’t so long, maybe I’d pursue reading more of her work, though I prefer to read stuff that’s just going to blow me away or that I’m going to enjoy immensely. Finished on 03/19/08.

Spirits that Walk in Shadow by Nina Kiriki Hoffman. (13) [specfic, reading vacation]. I checked this book out of the library. I inhaled this really lovely book. It had a bunch of magic concepts in it that I had encountered elsewhere, but that I thought were really well explained here, predominantly the little gods or household gods concept. I finally saw ways in which to use that, concreteness I hadn’t really grasped before. And even though the artist as protag has the potential to be so cliché, I thought Hoffman pulled it off with panache here. She continues to impress me with her writing. Finished on 03/22/08.

Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones. (14) [specfic, reading vacation]. I checked this out of the library. This is probably the first Jones book I’ve ever read that I wouldn’t bother recommending to anyone. It was like all her other books but less somehow. Perhaps it was the whole ‘oh aren’t cons cool and con people so wonderful’ vibe that had me rolling my eyes a little. Maybe it’s written for the con going fannish tribe, of which I’m not a member. I don’t know. It was fine. From anyone else I would have thought it fine. From Jones I thought it fine. But I didn’t love it. And I’ll never pick it up for a re-read, I don’t think. Finished on 03/23/08.

Carnival by Elizabeth Bear. (15) [specfic, must own]. This is a wonderful book. I love it. I think it’s probably my second favorite of Bear’s books, after the New Amsterdam mysteries. The worldbuilding was fabulous and she plays the ensemble cast to great effect. It’s a book about healing rifts, and all the character journeys dovetail thematically. Also there’s spies and intrigue and keep you on your toes betrayals which make all the pretty theme stuff just sing as descant to the thundering plot. Oh, and also cool SF ideas. I mean really, what’s not to love? Read this today! Finished in late 03/08, before pneumonia.

Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer. (16) [specfic, YA, re-read]. I own this. I re-read it because my husband had recently read it to my daughter and she wanted me to. I own the fourth book of the series, too, so I also re-read this third one to re-orient myself in the world. I thought the first book of the series was incredible, and the second one was pretty good. This was were I had started to lose interest the first time around. Finished sometime in late 03/08 or early 04/08. A pneumonia read.

Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold. (17) [specfic]. I own this. Exactly what I needed to ease back into reading after I had pneumonia. I love Bujold. This book was reliably engaging, and yet with room for thought amid the plot and romance. Finished this during 04/08.

You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men In Conversation by Deborah Tannen. (18) [nonfiction, linguistics, book club]. I checked this book out of the library. My copy was full of notes penciled in cramped cursive. It was several chapters before I realized they were translations of words and concepts for a non-English speaking reader who’d had the book before me. This book had some interesting points, though I felt it was clearly outdated in certain respects. Was glad I read it, and wouldn’t have done it on my own. Finished on 05/16/08.

Laika by Nick Abadzis. (19) [graphic novel] What a beautiful, sad story. I’m so glad I read this even if it did make me cry! Finished on 05/18/08.

Blindsight by Peter Watts. (20) [specfic, re-read, book club]. I own this. I recommended this to book club. This book gave me so much to think about that I really wanted to discuss it with people. So far I haven’t found anyone to truly discuss the thing with in depth, and my book club mostly hated it. Still, I was glad for the opportunity to read it again. It’s remains a startling and amazing book full of revolutionary ideas. Finished on 06/18/08.

The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket. (21) [childrens]. I own this. I read it at the behest of my daughter. I dig these books, but I don’t believe I have much to say about them. Finished sometime 06/08.

Mouse Guard Fall 1152 by David Petersen. (22) [graphic novel]. I’d had my eye on this for a while and I finally bought it and read it. I liked it fine, but I was hoping for more than I got and ended up on the disappointed side. The pictures are pretty, but the story was a little bit weak and I didn’t think it needed to be. The elements were all there, they just weren’t played out quite in concert. Finished in early 07/08.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. (23) [YA, specfic]. Was loaned an ARC (thanks, Dave!). I loved this book. I thought it lived up to the hype, and if I get my act together I want to write a full-fledged review. Finished in 07/08.

Past the Size of Dreaming by Nina Kiriki Hoffman. (24) [specfic, YA, reading vacation]. So, I suppose it had to happen eventually. I hit a weak Hoffman book. It wasn’t terrible, but it was a follow up (possibly a third follow up?) on a stir of bones which was truly excellent. This one felt a little like a sequel done for the sake of revisiting with all the characters. They were all treated so gently. I never believed any of them was in a shred of danger and the menace just wasn’t there. Meh. Finished on 07/05/08.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. (25) [specfic, YA, reading vacation]. This is an acclaimed YA book that I’d heard a lot about. It’s a story about stories book. I did like it but I regret to say that it was a little too straightforward. There wasn’t enough layers. Needed to be more like ogres, I guess. The protag is likable but a little too stereotypically spunky and valorous. I enjoyed it, but I don’t think I’ll be pushing it and whether I’ll read the followup remains a question. Finished on 07/06/08.

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. (26) [specfic, horror]. I checked this book out of the library. Wow, this guy can write. This is great horror. I loved it. Can’t wait for his next book. Finished on 07/10/08.

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey. (27) [specfic, desiderata]. I checked this out of the library, and I stayed up late late to finish it. I liked it but there was way too much denouement. It was like the Return of the Kings movie that way, you think you’re finished with everything but there’s more. The world was rich and textured though, and the plot fast-paced and engaging. Finished on 07/20/08.

The Passage by Louis McMaster Bujold. (28) [specfic]. I checked this out of the library. It was standard Bujold and I quite liked it, and I raced through it, but I admit to feeling like it’s an in-betweeny book that didn’t forward the overarching plot nearly enough for my liking. Still she has a way with characterization, letting people represent their type but with depth and individuality. And some of the plot was quite unexpected, at least for me. I’m still on board for the next book, but I hope she doesn’t Robert Jordan on me, because I’ll step off the train if she does. Also, don’t like this world as much as I like the fivefold gods world. Just saying. Finished in latter 07/08.

Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey. (29) [specfic, althistory]. I checked this out of the library. I plowed through it just like the previous one. Carey can really hold my attention. She’s good with stakes too. I figured there wasn’t much to follow up the epic tone of the first one, but she pulled out stops that I hadn’t expected. Satisfying ending. Her narrator voice is well developed and sympathetic. Reading her stuff is long overdue for me, and a simple, unalloyed pleasure. Immersive. I’m glad to have started on these books. Finished late 07/08.

Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey. (30) [specfic, althistory]. I checked this out of the library. More of the same, and much enjoyment for me. Finished early 08/08.

The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones. (31) [specfic, must own]. I checked this out of the library. You remember when I told you I read the Crown of Dalemark last year and I was so confused because of the griffins and I couldn’t see how the whole thing tied together? That’s because I’m a moron, and when I thought I read the Crown of Dalemark I was reading the Dark Lord of Derkholm. Yeah, don’t ask. ANYWAY, I finally read the Crown of Dalemark and it tied everything together nicely thank you very much. An excellent ending to the series. Huzzah for Diana Wynne Jones. Finished early 08/08.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. (32) [litfic, book group]. I checked this out of the library. I was glad to have read it, though I never would have picked it up on my own, which is what I was hoping to get out of my book club: a more varied approach than I would normally have. So far it’s working great. This book had fascinating worldbuilding, and careful details and was a pleasure to read even if the ending was a little wish-fulfillment and made me roll my eyes a little. Finished on 08/12/08.

20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill. (33) [horror, specfic, desiderata, must own]. I checked this book out of the library. This is a terrific book. Really intensely, wonderfully, exhiliratingly good. I love how some of these horror stories have happy endings, how other ostensibly not horror stories have terrifying ones. Hill is the master of the nuanced and mixed emotion. And he wears so many hats in this one! The Bradbury homage was gorgeous. There’s almost no story in this one that wasn’t worth reading (and I only say almost because I may have forgotten about one, and so must hedge, I honestly think they were all awesome). I heart Joe Hill and hopes he writes another dozen books, both novels and short stories. He and Caitlin R. Kiernan are probably my favorite currently working horror writers. Though I’m also pretty partial to Laird Barron, only I haven’t read enough of him to put him in the favored group. Finished 08/17/08.

Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier. (34) [YA, specfic, desiderata]. I’ve heard a lot about how great this book is and was looking forward to reading it. This book is frenetically paced and relentlessly plotted. The characters are well drawn and everyone who gets POV is believable and engaging. It was easy to read and I had a vested interest in the characters. Even though I enjoyed it a great deal and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to a teen reader, I felt it ultimately lacked something and I can’t see myself recommending it to any adults. I’m not sure what was lacking, I’m still working through it, trying to figure it out. It felt flat in places. Emotional reactions were overexplained for my taste. The central conceit is compelling, as was the outsider take, and I really liked the mathy stuff. It was good, and interesting, but it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. I’m a little bummed about that. Finished on 08/21/08.

The Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones. (35) [YA, specfic]. I checked this out of the library. I enjoyed it. It’s a followup to the Dark Lord of Derkholm. Finished on 08/26/08.

Kushiel’s Scion by Jacqueline Carey. (36) [specfic, althistory]. I checked this out of the library. I was a little hesitant about the shift in narrative voice, and I think my reservations are somewhat justified, as the character didn’t sound his age as often as I thought he should. However, there’s plenty to commend the book. The plotting is still great, I read it as compulsively as usual, and now there’s a secret cabal thing that’s just been uncovered, and I guess I’ll follow on at least as far as the next two books. I finished it on 08/27/08.

Magic Lessons by Justine Larbalestier. (37) [YA, specfic]. I checked this out of the library. I’m still of mixed mind about the trilogy, though I am likely to finish it out at this point. I like the storyline, I like the characters, I like the world, and the setting contrasts between New York and Australia, but it still feels shallow and surfacebound. Wish there was some depth I could hang on to. Maybe I just can’t see it? Finished on 08/30/08.

Just as a curiosity, things I started this year but set aside in favor of something (nearly anything) else: Kavalier & Clay, The Lies of Locke Lamora, Reading in the Dark, The Stars My Destination and The Thackery T. Lambshead Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases. I intend to finish all of those at some point. Apparently, that point isn’t right now. This is interesting because putting books aside is something I didn’t used to let myself do. Right now I want to read for pleasure too much to insist with things that aren’t keeping me engaged. This too will pass, I’m sure.

Continue reading

In: book list | Tags:

Vellum: The Book of All Hours by Hal Duncan. (1) [specfic]. I checked this out of the library. I thought it was interesting, but it took me forever to read it. I’m not sure I’m up to the second book of the duology. I don’t care enough to find out what happens next. My central problem with the book is that it’s not a story in the conventional sense. There’s no narrative drive. For all the journeying of the various characters, we’re not really going anywhere. I found it hard to keep reading because of this. It’s extremely beautifully written, the prose level is top notch, but it also came across (to me) as kind of shallow, so the excellence of the prose seemed like dressing up a corpse. Unfortunately, I think this is the result of writing people as mythic incarnations instead of as characters, so there’s no way I can see to solve this and still keep to what Duncan wants to tell about. I had a hard time getting emotionally involved with anyone, especially with Carter and Pechorin, since they are presented in such radically different ways and I don’t think I ever figured out why they were quite so malleable. I think I’m meant to care about the characters because of some of the heartbreaking situations rendered, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to it. Much of what happened to the characters didn’t quite seem real, especially the big tragic moments. The small moments seemed more real: the three guys sitting together on the quad, Jack and Guy lying together in the cold house at Evenfall, Phreedom sharing a beer with Finnan, Phreedom stepping into the tattoo parlor for the first time, Puck painting things purple in the book as they travel along the Vellum. Eh, maybe that was one of Duncan’s points: small is real, big is only archetype. If so, it makes for a strangely unsatisfying reading experience. I also had what I usually call a Miéville issue with this work: whenever anything I was desperately interested in showed up, it turned out to be scene setting and not something I was going to get to find out more about or follow. Meanwhile, stuff I couldn’t have cared less about was treated in excruciating detail for pages and pages. Also. Points off for horribly translated Spanish. Guh. My brother, if you’re going to set things in the Spanish Civil War, make the Spaniards talk right. It was frustratingly anticlimatic to be yelling at the page when supposed death sentences were being pronounced. That’s pretty much cause for a complete breakdown of my suspension of disbelief lately and I think I may put bad Spanish on my list of dealbreakers from now on. There’s no excuse for it, really. It’s not like Spanish is an obscure language. Bonus points for nice scenery, though. And for a gripping opening. I did like the vastness of the times and spaces of the real world we explored (often more than I liked the fantastical bits), and part of the reason I’m so pissed off about the bad Spanish is because it took the air out of scenes I would otherwise have been really interested in. Some of the archetypal linking was a little…blurry. Sometimes when he linked things (usually by name transformations) I said “oh, ok, what a cool connection” but many other times I was like “that’s a bit of a stretch there, isn’t it?”. In rendering down all the different incarnations as aspects of the same archetypes I thought sometimes valuable individual pieces of story were lost. Maybe that’s one of his points too, but I didn’t care for it. Anyway, it gave me some stuff to think about on a meta level, and it was pretty, but it didn’t really get hooks into me, transport me or give me any kind of catharsis or deep satisfaction on completion. In fact, it felt essentially unfinished. Maybe that would all be nicely wrapped up in the second half, but I’m not sure I trust Duncan to pull it off. Finished on 01/12/08.

A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear. (2) [specfic]. I checked this out of the library. This was a quick read, which I definitely needed after the slog through Vellum. There were some things I really liked about this book a lot. The main character was quite sympathetic, as was the benevolent helpful elf, and (of course) all the wolves. I found the sex scenes neither overly squicky nor hot, hot, hot. They didn’t detract or anything, they were just kind of there. OTOH, I found the main character’s constant passing out and withdrawing inward as a coping mechanism for dealing with trauma too reminiscent of Felix in Melusine and it kind of made my eyes roll, but for all I know that was Bear’s work and not Monette’s. With the exception of long passages that either exclusively used the word ‘estrus’ or ‘heat’, the writing was seamless, afaic. I couldn’t tell which words were whose. The story moved well and the stakes were high and there were hard choices with consequences and fulfilling character arcs – you know, all of those things I expect when I read Bear. I’m not sure I’d read something else set in the same world, necessarily, but I’m not at all sorry I read this. Finished on 01/16/08.

Origami Boxes by Tomoko Fuse. (3) [crafts]. I got this book for Christmas and am delighted to own it. When I say I read it, I mean I made all the boxes, because there’s very little text. However, this is the first of my origami books for which I have made (or attempted) every design within, so I’m pretty pleased. I love this book. There was only box I couldn’t follow the instructions for, though the hexagon box was right to the limit of my folding ability and did not come out very well. I am especially pleased with the triangle boxes. They are easy and gorgeous and I’m going to try to make lots of those in the future. In the middle of this book I embarked on an organizing project of my origami paper (which is not yet finished, but which I have a much better handle on now). Below is a picture of all the boxes I made during the course of “reading” this book. Finished on 01/19/08.
Origami Boxes I made

Ragamuffin by Tobias S. Buckell. (4) [specfic]. I checked this out of the library. Another quick read. This is what I call swashbuckling fun! I love the universe, I liked the characters, the action was non-stop, there were casualties all over the place and the train kept moving. I hope I didn’t ruin anything by reading Ragamuffin before Crystal Rain because after this ride I’m definitely going back to read the first one. There was lots to love here, but I still saw some shortcomings. One was a sort of superficiality to the feelings the characters were purportedly experiencing. Too much of the emotional tenor was overtly declaimed, and not as much as I would have liked subtly telegraphed. It’s as though Buckell is in too much of a hurry with more plot, plot, plot to let me see the characters’ inner worlds. The best I get is told how they’re feeling (usually in sentences that literally start “He felt” and “She felt”). The second major letdown was the terrible proofreading job that was done with this work. Straight characters sometimes spoke in Raga dialect, sentences ended in conjunctions, typos a spellchecker would have caught all over the place (“He swalled” for “He swallowed” frex) and more. This added to the feeling that the work had been rushed, and not received the polish it should have. Still, while I have a word focused eye and sloppy proofing throws me out of the story like a body slam, I still managed to enjoy the thing and sympathize with the broad brush stroke characters. Finished on 01/21/08.

Continue reading

12 Jan 2008, by

Reading Rainbow

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the year, Volume 1 by Jonathan Strahan. (40) [specfic, anthology]. I checked a raft of anthologies out from the library and they’ve slowed my reading speed down considerably. I didn’t read Gaiman’s “How To Talk to Girls At Parties” because I’d read it so recently, but otherwise I read everything else in there. This volume started out strong and ended weak. I loved, loved, loved the Cory Doctorow story “I, Rowboat”. So clever and funny and even kind of heartbreaking. Just wonderful. I loved the term “uplifted” for sentient ais, with all its spiritual resonance. Great stuff. I really liked the Beagle story too, even though it was a little treacly. Very nicely done treacle, mind you. I also loved Klages’ “In The House Of The Seven Librarians” but I’m sure this surprises no one. A story about libraries? Sign me up! I liked the Christopher Rowe story, but. But my standards are too high, I guess. It wasn’t nearly as emotionally involving as “The Voluntary State” which I love to pieces and unfortunately for Rowe is my measure for him. So yeah, from anyone else that might have been a good story but I demand more, better from Rowe. I liked the Margo Lanagan story, and it had a hard row to hoe because usually stories about the afterlife make my eyes roll like a roly poly on a slide. “Incarnation Day” was awesome, and Walter Jon Williams isn’t a name that I associate with any other stories so he’ll go in my list of authors to keep my eyes peeled for. Benjamin Rosenbaum was twice represented in this volume, and I have loved several stories by him (most notably “Start The Clock” which is crammed full of cool), and I really liked “A Siege of Cranes” but “The House Beyond Your Sky” was just ok (I re-read it, even though I’d recently heard it on Escape Pod, because I wanted to see the words). Also, I will admit to being dissatisfied with the neatness of the final plot resolution in “A Siege of Cranes” but the rest of the world-building more than compensates. Still digging Jeffrey Ford’s style. He really works around my prejudices. I always start one of his stories thinking, “I won’t like this”, and always end up amazed at what he’s done. He’s a truly gifted storyteller, reminds me of R.A. Lafferty. “Cartesian Theater” by Robert Charles Wilson was very nice thank you more of this, please. Also acceptable were “Halfway House”, “Yellow Card Man” and “PolPot’s Beautiful Daughter (Fantasy)”. I have a confession to make about Jay Lake, though. I want to love his stories, and I only just like them ok. I haven’t found the Jay Lake story that has totally blown me away, pried open my head and turned it around. I think I want to like his stuff so much because he addresses politics, which I very much admire, but although I tap my foot to the rhythm of the story he’s never made me get up and dance. I read “Eight Episodes” again (even though I’d heard it on Escape Pod) and I didn’t like it any better the second time around. “Journey Into The Kingdom” had really good atmosphere (Rickert almost always conveys great atmospheres) but the story itself left me cold. Elizabeth Hand is still not working for me. There’s something fundamental about her short stories that comes off as distant and uninvolved and I can’t work around it. I always read her stuff, thinking “This will be the one that speaks to me”, but I haven’t yet found the one that does. It probably goes without saying that I loved the Kelly Link story, though I was seriously trouble by the word “Perfil”. I kept auto-translating it, and then telling myself it was probably meant to be accented on the first syllable in English, and saying it twenty different ways in my head. At every instance. Reader flaw, I’m sure. Loved the Connie Willis story to pieces, and surprised myself for loving it. Really fun reading. “Femaville 29”, “Sob in the Silence”, “The House Beyond Your Sky” and “The Djinn’s Wife” were the four closing stories, and – to me – they were all disappointments. Especially disappointing was the Gene Wolfe story, because I’m such a Gene Wolfe fangirl. Read in October 2007.

The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster Bujold. (41) [specfic]. From the library you came, to the library you returned. I love Bujold. I scarfed this one down over a couple of days. Such fun reading. And there’s an opening for more in the same world. Read in October 2007.

Year’s Best Fantasy 7 edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer. (42) [specfic, anthology]. From the library. The best story in this collection was, hands down, Laird Barron’s “Hallucigenia”. Man. That story has teeth, I tell you. Other very good selections were “The Osteomancer’s Son”, “Sea Air”, and “I’ll Give You My Word”. Somewhat uncertain of what it’s trying to tell me were “Yours, etc”, “Bea and her Bird Brother”, and “Christmas Witch”, though there was something to like in all of those and they were all well-executed. “Christmas Witch” in particular is a story I might like to re-read, and which has engaged me on a deeper level than some of Rickert’s other work. Utterly forgettable were “Four Fables”, the Moorcock story (was he this bad when I read him in high school and I just didn’t notice? I thought Elric was so cool.), and “Show Me Yours”. As to “Thin On the Ground” I want a moratorium on stories in which bad Spanish appears, especially in the mouths of supposedly native, spanish-speaking characters. I forgive Bradbury when he does it because we go way back, but no one else gets a pass. Poorly translated Spanish makes Anarkey cry, and no one wants a tearful Anarkey. Also in this volume, the award for story I was rewriting sentence by sentence as I read it goes to Sharon Shinn, whose “The Double-Edged Sword” had me wincing more often than engaged. “Ghost Mission” was superficially enjoyable if a little too heavily reliant on trope and stereotype to truly qualify as a “year’s best”. Stories that had moments but didn’t totally win me over: “The Lepidopterist”, “Build-a-Bear”, and “The Bonny Boy”. Finished in either late October or early November.

Jumper by Steven Gould. (43) [specfic, YA]. I acquired this secondhand. I have been meaning to read this book since I went to VP in 2005. I’m kind of glad I didn’t read it before I went. It’s got a driving and interesting plot, and the gimmick is cool enough (they’re making a movie about it now) but it tends a little toward wish-fulfillment for my tastes. I also thought the sentence level work left a lot to be desired. I’m on the fence about reading the sequel. Finished on 11/09/07.

Freedom’s Apprentice by Naomi Kritzer. (44) [specfic]. Just because you can see how the blocks are stacked, doesn’t mean it’s not fun when the tower tips over. This was engaging reading. I really liked how the series got more woman-centered as it progressed, too. Finished on 11/20/07.

Freedom’s Sisters by Naomi Kritzer. (45) [specfic]. Raced through this one. Lots of action. Satisfying conclusions. Possibly not high art, but definitely a good time. Finished on 11/21/07.

The October Country by Ray Bradbury. (46) [specfic, re-read]. I own a battered copy of this book which I bought secondhand. This took me forever to read, because I couldn’t remember all the stories, and there were some that were just dreadful. This time, I marked the TOC, so the next time I go through it I know which ones to skip (looking at you “The Next in Line” and “The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse” which only has title going for it). Yes, I’m finally over the don’t mark up books thing, I think. Finished on 11/22/07.

Babel-17 by Samuel Delany. (47) [specfic]. I own this book, bought it secondhand one day when I was trying to find Dhalgren in a used bookstore. Great deal of fun, but some of the plot seemed a little strange to me, like it didn’t quite hold together as much as it should have, especially the relationship aspect. A little literalist on the interpretation of Sapir-Whorf too, but that part was an interesting gedanken experiment. Finished late November or early December of 2007.

Planetes (all five volumes) by Makoto Yukimura. (48-52) [graphic novel, specfic]. We own these. I finally, finally got around to reading the whole Planetes series. I started off by re-reading the first book. This was a really good set of books with some wonderful moments and really interesting nitty gritty space travel stuff. Unfortunately, the work didn’t hold together for me as a whole, just in flashes and moments. The characters I was most interested in were less-developed than the characters that really bugged me and I had trouble with that. Still, definitely worth reading. Finished on 12/30/07

And that’s my booklist for 2007. I made it! 52 books this year! Although, to be fair, I panicked in the last week, and realized that Vellum was becoming a real slog for me, so I paused it and went for something I knew I could get through rather quickly. I wanted to make the goal. Was it cheating? Maybe, but I count it a win anyway.

I really thought, at one point, that I was going to be well above 52, but I blame my end of the year slowdown primarily on the anthologies. I read half of Dozois’ Year’s Best and that always takes me several weeks and then had to return it before I could finish it and count it on the list. Still, I’m halfway there for when I check it out again, so I gave myself a leg up this year. I also spent a lot of time reading online fiction for a couple weeks there, following up on recommendations I found in this thread about great short fiction. Sadly, most of what I tracked down to read wasn’t as great as I had hoped, or I had already read it. One standout gem from that list was Paul Tremblay’s “The Teacher“. The result of the conversation on that thread led me to the conclusion that this business of greatness overlaps a great deal with personal taste.

I’ve finished my first book of 2008, and it’s the aforementioned Vellum, but I think I’ll give it its own post a little later…and maybe even a mini-review. We shall see. That makes me already behind for 2008, since we’re in the second week, and I’ve only read one book so far.

Continue reading

New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear. (24) [specfic]. I checked this book out of the library. I LOVE this book. It may be my favorite Bear thus far. I may have to buy it. More of this, please! Maybe I’ll review it, full-fledged, later (I seem to be doing that less now that I do these mini book reports). Finished 06/26/07.

Catalyst by Nina Kirki Hoffman. (25) [YA, specfic]. I checked this book out of the library. It was very good, Kiriki Hoffman is one of my favorite writers. I wasn’t completely comfortable with the sexual nature of it, but it was well within tone, and not gratuitous at all, just a little unsettling. Finished 06/28/07.

The 60 second organizer by Jeff Davidson. (26) [non-fiction]. Checked this out of the library. Summer reading vacation 07. This was the worst book I’ve read in a long, long time. If I can just keep one other human being from reading this book, I will consider it a good deed accomplished. Among the tidbits of wisdom the author offers are shameless plugs for his other books, and buying (and presumably carrying around) a pocket scanner so you can scan anything you need to keep at any moment. Not only is much of the advice pointless or counter-productive, a lot of it is uselessly vague: “make profound choices” and “‘work smarter’ for real”. He actually recommends using GANTT charts in your personal organizing! Oh, and get this, the entire book is phrased in first or second person, except for one little part. The part about cleaning house, when we suddenly get a third person female named Rhonda for our example. Right….because the ‘you’ of the rest of the book must be a man…or maybe the only people who clean house are women…or…I don’t know, pick your own offensive stereotype. Yes, the cleaning house section comes with this little gem of advice:”Thereafter, only a few maintenance activities are necessary, and with enough nagging, she can get her husband to do those.” Organizational professionals upping the ante in gender stereotyping and degrading male/female relationships everywhere. Give this one a miss, if you’re thinking of reading it. Finished 06/30/07

Little Big by John Crowley. (27) [specfic]. I bought this book secondhand, basically on Elaine’s endorsement. Summer reading vacation 07. I enjoyed it, which is no surprise. Any book that steeped in Alice in Wonderland is bound to give me moments of joy. I didn’t feel it was quite as epic and earth-shattering as maybe it should have been, but it was intelligent and interesting, which is enough. I return to thinking about it periodically and may read it again someday. Finished 07/02/07.

The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones. (28) [specfic, YA]. Got this book as a gift, I think for my birthday last year. Summer reading vacation 07. Man, I love Diana Wynne Jones. No exception here. The Welsh grandfather was the bomb. Finished 07/03/07.

Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold. (29) [specfic]. I bought this specifically for reading vacation, because it never hurts to have some Bujold in your reading vacation. Summer reading vacation 07. Loved the characterization in this one. Finished 07/05/07.

Violet Eyes by Nicole Luiken. (30) [specfic, YA]. This was the intruder book, the one I was told to read by someone else (Marlee). Summer reading vacation 07. The pacing in this book was relentless and drew you on well, but this book followed on some stereotypes that really bothered me, beginning with the appearance worship and following onto the big bad guy being fat. Ugh. Still, glad I read it. Also, wtf, pseudo-1986 without a Cold War? I mean I realize it’s Canada, but still! Finished 07/06/07.

The Watchman by Robert Crais. (31) [thriller]. Second of the intruder books, loaned to me by Doug MacLean. Summer reading vacation 07. An interesting read, not my sort of thing, but it does me enormous good to read books with implacable pacing, since I’m more of meanderer. Finished 07/07/07.

A Farewell to Summer by Ray Bradbury. (32) [specfic]. Checked this out of the new arrivals section of the library (along with Catalyst and New Amsterdam, both of which are better books…I’m a danger to myself and others in the new arrivals section of the library, apparently). Summer reading vacation 07. I really didn’t care for it at all. Some sentences were gorgeous, some ideas made me pause but overall a gigantic meh. So sad. At least it was brief, and a quick read. Finished 07/07/07.

Drowned Ammet by Diana Wynne Jones. (33) [specfic, YA]. I own this. I bought it secondhand when I realized I had the first and fourth of the series but not two and three. I enjoyed this book, but I didn’t like it nearly as much as I liked Cart & Cwidder or the Spellcoats. I guess thematically, it meant more to me when it was tied to music and than when it was tied to sailing and the water. Possibly a strictly personal feeling. Finished on 07/18//07.

Spellcoats by Diana Wynne Jones. (34) [specfic, YA]. I own this, bought secondhand. I really liked this book. The rugcoats were awesome. Finished around 07/20/07.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling. (35) [specfic, YA]. I borrowed this from Kate Grumke. Rowling didn’t botch the ending, which is admirable, considering how much momentum and how much weight the whole thing needed to really satisfy. I’m impressed, and I enjoyed it. Finished on 07/24/07.

The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones. (36) [specfic, YA]. I own this. I think I was given it. I was kind of annoyed that this book was almost exactly like a fictionalized version of the “Tough Guide” (which I was also reading, but returned to the library unfinished because I didn’t want to read the same book twice at the same time). I also was put off by the tone shift between the more serious, earlier books and this book. Except for that while it started funny, it ended pretty serious. And there were lots of little things about it I liked (the whole griffin children thread was just beautiful) and so finally it won me over. Finished late 07/07.

The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones. (37) [specfic, YA]. I checked this out of the library, but oh, I want to own it. I love the Chrestomanci universe. It’s my favorite place DWJ plays. I hope she writes more books there. Finished at the first of August, before the 11th (08/07).

Whiskey and Water by Elizabeth Bear. (38) [specfic]. Checked this out of the library (new arrivals section, still trawling where I shouldn’t) I was happier with costs in this one than I was in Blood & Iron and there were some really cool things about the world (the competing hells concept was really intriguing, for example) and how it continues to unfold, but overall I’m a little meh about the trilogy so far. I love Arthuriana, so it should really be hitting my interests, but I like all the stuff in it better than I like any of the people (maybe except Ian and his father and the kelpie…surely, everyone loves the kelpie?) and I was like omg, Marlowe AGAIN? How often in Bear’s work am I going to have to put up with him? OTOH, I read her blog while she wrote this, and she complained bitterly about the omniscient point of view and how difficult it was to write and how nobody would like it and so on and so forth and that part of it is just perfect. Loved the POV stuff. Finished on 08/21/07.

Dark Reflections by Samuel Delany. (39) [fiction]. I checked this out of the library. Man, this guy can seriously write. If you had given me a synopsis of the book I would have passed it up, but I was interested, engaged and blown away by how beautifully it is all stitched together. Can I use the word poignant? Or is that too twee? I was drawn inside the world, I was captivated, I was moved. That is all. I seriously have to get off my lazy behind and read Dhalgren. Seriously. Finished on 08/27/07

So wow, only the first of September and I’ve read 40 books (ok, 39, but close enough). Looks like I may make 52 this year, because this is only week 35. I’m 4 books ahead, woohoo!

Continue reading

Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine. (22) [non-fiction, memoir]. I checked this out of the library, after having heard Levine interviewed on NPR (twice?). I was fascinated by the whole concept, and I loved the book which was engaging, well-written and funny. Still, I wished it had been less about the emotional trauma of alienation from consumer culture (I’m much less conflicted about not buying things from an identity viewpoint than most people, I guess) and more about the nuts and bolts of accomplishing it. In particular, she was fuzzy on the rules they followed. Only “necessities”, but those were vague and seemed to shift. The election derail, in particular, was irritating (giving money to Move On was a necessity? WTF?). Some fascinating stuff, though. Glad I read it. This would probably be impossible to do with kids, unless you could sew, and were willing to make clothes for them out of your own clothes. Oh, and were a cobbler. But then your kids would be barefoot, right? Don’t the cobbler’s kids…? Never mind. Finished 06/21/07.

Orsinian Tales by Ursula K. Le Guin. (23) [mainstream fiction]. Borrowed from Chris Goodwin. Did you know this was mainstream fiction? Man, I was totally fooled by the Earthsea-like cover, though it tells you right there on the back that it’s not spec fic. This book was hard to get sucked into, but it had some amazing moments and was well worth reading. She writes so beautifully. I want to be Ursula K. Le Guin when I grow up. The tone, that sort of Dostoevsky hopelesness and hardship and beauty Eastern European tone, was perfect. I was blown away by that, by how she could duplicate that tone, even without being a native. It didn’t ever feel like appropriation when she did it. Finished 06/22/07.

Continue reading

Cart and Cwidder by Diana Wynne Jones. (8) [YA]. I own this. I liked it a lot, no surprise there. Read it on the way to Argentina (yes, I’m that far behind on reporting). Argentina was the voyage of series, as everything I took to read seemed to be a first part of a trilogy or tetralogy. I’ll definitely be reading the next one of these, soon as I get through the impulse book checking out I did at the library. Finished 03/22/07.

Getting Things Done by David Allen. (9) [non-fiction, self-improvement]. I am getting things done! If I can ever go through my backlog, I’ll be an amazing, productive, organized me! Also, paper may cease to be the bane of my existence. This book is really useful. I borrowed it from Stan, then bought my own copy when I got back from Argentina. So I didn’t own it when I read it, but I do now. I didn’t get through the other Allen book that Stan had me take down for him, so I don’t know whether it’s worth my time. Finished 03/24/07.

Frommer’s Buenos Aires by Michael Luongo. (10) [non-fiction, guidebook]. I bought this for the trip (and when we returned found the guidebook I’d bought last time around but couldn’t find before we left). This was a good guide, and had some things I didn’t know about, and the recommendations helped me choose to take Sophia to the children’s museum in the Abasto, which was amazing. Sophia loved it. I was a bit perplexed by its warning against going anywhere that subways didn’t go, because it’s not like the bus system is all that complicated, but I guess it can scare people.

Freedom’s Gate by Naomi Kritzer. (11) [specfic]. I own this. This was a real eye-opener for me, because it’s the first time I’ve ever read a book and could see the plot structure so plainly. It’s like all that thinking about plot has finally had an effect! I was like oh, here’s raise the stakes, look there’s reversal…and it all followed totally straightforwardly. It didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the book any, because I really liked the world, but never has a plot seemed so obvious to me before, on a structural level…the reason why things happened as they did and what they were setting up. Finished on either 03/27/07 or 03/28/07.

You Got Nothing Coming by Jimmy Lerner. (12) [memoir]. This was the infiltrator book, the one that was loaned to me (by my brother) and that I hadn’t planned on reading. It’s a man’s recollection of his time in prison. It was really, really immersive and interesting. I finished it on 03/30/07.

Blood and Iron: A Novel of the Promethean Age by Elizabeth Bear. (13) [specfic] I own this. I liked this a lot, though I have (as always) my quibbles. I’m less certain of Bear’s willingness to kill people off at the end of this, and I put great stock by what I believed to be her willingness to have characters pay a cost. I also felt like people were told to stand in their places until they were called on to make plot, resulting in some character actions that felt contradictory or at least needed a why now? explanation that was never given (or I didn’t pick up on it, perhaps). I got real tired of hearing about people’s heels clicking and their boots tapping and them turning on their heels and/or toes. The boot thing was definitely the author tic for this book (though hopefully not for the whole series). Still, for Arthuriana, it’s better than a lot of the places tread by such revisits. Finished on 04/03/07.

Girls will be girls by JoaAnn Deak. (14) [non-fiction, child-rearing]. I own this. I’m very glad I read this book, and in some ways, I wish I’d read it sooner. Valuable advice, especially in the area of the niceness pressure. Finished before 04/10/07.

La Primera Entrada by Alejandro Bedrossian. (15) [specfic, spanish]. I own this, it was a gift from the author. It’s sort of a Faust retelling. It was a good read, though slow in places, the way stories in Spanish are usually slow, by being somewhat indirect and circuituous. I was fascinated by the difference between the show/tell balance in this versus that in most English novels I read. Tell is much more acceptable in Spanish novels, for some reason. Finished sometime 04/07.

Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress. (16) [specfic]. I checked this out of the library. I really liked it a lot. Fascinating. Believe the hype, as they say. I know a book is good when I instantly start talking about it to people and trying to get them to read it. I’ve gotten at least one person to read this. I liked this much better than the short stories I’ve read/heard by her (2 on Escape Pod and one, “Shiva’s Shadow”, in a Year’s Best), though I didn’t hate those, they just didn’t fire me up and make me marvel quite the same way this novel did. This novel rocks. Finished sometime in 05/07.

Guilty Pleasures: Indulgences, Addictions, Obsessions by Susan K. Caba, Jane Holwerda, Cathy Luh, and Holly Silva. (17) [non-fiction, essays]. I was given this, but I’m going to offload it as soon as I can, as I know I don’t want to read it more than once. It’s a St. Louis writer’s group set of essays. Some of the essays were really good, but they varied wildly in quality and some were really lame. None of them told me anything I didn’t already know. Finished sometime 05/07.

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman. (18) [specfic, anthology]. I got this book out of the library. I liked most of the stories, though I spared myself a re-read of “The Problem of Susan” since we already know I don’t like that one. I enjoyed most of the re-reads (the Sunbird one, and “October in the Chair” particularly). My favorite one was probably the Cthulhu Lovecraft one, which I own, since I have (but have not yet read) Shadows Over Baker Street. Finished on 06/06/08.

Conrad’s Fate by Diana Wynne Jones. (19) [specfic, YA]. I got this book out of the library, though it’s clear I’m going to have to own it. Jones is a geeeeeeenius. I don’t know why she’s not more widely read. So we revisit the wonderful world(s) of the Chrestomanci books, this time seeing Christopher Chant as an adolescent. You know it’s a Diana Wynne Jones book if there’s an evil uncle, don’t you? This one has two. An ongoing theme in her books, a theme which interests me, is children full of magical power who are ignorant of what they can do, because they have no training and no practice. This usually results in their powers being used against them. Finished 06/08/07.

Blindsight by Peter Watts. (20) [specfic]. I got this book out of the library. Vampires in space + first contact! It was really, really good, and I’m currently campaigning to make my husband read this (and I also tried to convince A whole can of plot to look at it). Interesting dealing of the free-will question which continues to make me ponder. I was surprised by how much I liked it and how much it has made me think. Finished 06/13/07

From the mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. (21) [YA]. I checked this book out of the library. Elaine recommended it to me sometime back. It was wonderful, I loved it. It’s the story of a girl who runs away from home, takes her most frugal (and most wealthy) brother with her, and lives for a week at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Finished 06/15/07.

I seem to have somehow slipped into reading multiple books at once, which I don’t usually do. Then again, I just deleted seven books and two short stories from my written desiderata, so that’s progress (though there’s over a hundred books on there still, not to mention my physical to read bookshelf which has another hundred).

Continue reading

Powered by WordPress