edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
It's time for the continuing adventures of Liz and her reading list! These are the books I read in December 2007. (And yes, I'm going to continue at least through 2008, whether anyone cares or not. I like keeping this list -- it's not the world's most practical use of my time, but it makes me feel organized and productive, and that's always nice.)

New: 10
---Here If You Need Me: A True Story, Kate Braestrup (nonfiction: Braestrup's husband, a Maine state trooper, was killed in a car accident. After that, she became a Unitarian Universalist minister and began serving as chaplain to the Maine game wardens. This is part autobiography, part introduction to what Maine game wardens do, and part theological musing. Beautiful and uplifting. Also, hey look, my religion is so a real religion! This is documentary proof!)
---Dragon's Eye, James Hetley (fantasy: two magical families on the Maine coast confront a South American sorcerer out to take one family's hereditary source of power. Interesting, especially for the small-town details, but somewhat scattered, and I never bought the emotional reality of the town cop's conflict with her daughter.)
---Empire, Orson Scott Card (thriller: the current hyper-partisan atmosphere in America tips over into outright civil war. This book makes me really damn twitchy, for three reasons. First, I do not agree with some of Card's underlying assumptions about what centrism really is, and would like to shout at him until he realizes he's being a prejudiced idiot. Second, the book is somehow related to a computer game, and as such, some of the details of the rebellion are beyond reasonable suspension of disbelief. [Tripod mechs and hovercycles, my left foot.] But third, Card is right that we're very reluctant to examine our beliefs, see if they make any systematic sense, and listen to opposing evidence with an open mind... so my twitchiness is a sign that he's making his point. I will not reread this, but I am glad I read it once.)
---Breath and Bone, Carol Berg (fantasy: sequel to Flesh and Spirit; the two books are really halves of one continuous story. Here Valen discovers new twists to the mess afflicting the land of Navronne, and also discovers secrets relating to his own heritage. I like the way Berg takes a fairly standard 'fair folk' trope and turns them into kind of mystical, shape-shifting ballet dancers. *grin*)
---The Perfect Heresy: The Revolutionary Life and Death of the Medieval Cathars, Stephen O'Shea (nonfiction: this is actually less about the Cathars specifically and more about the Albigensian crusade and its aftermath in general -- consider it a history of the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries in Languedoc. Very interesting, albeit somewhat depressing, and gives a breathtaking sense of how far from inevitable history can be.)
---Marvels, Kurt Busiek, Alex Ross, et al (comics: meant to be an ordinary person's view of the Marvel universe, or some-such. Apparently this won a lot of awards. I don't see why; the storyline is trite and heavy-handed, and Ross's artwork always feels very static to me, rather than conveying the sense of motion so crucial to action-oriented comics genres.)
---Godchild vol. 7, Kaori Yuki (manga: a young English nobleman and his manservant in Victorian/Edwardian times, with poison, murder, and random supernatural elements. Creepy gothic weirdness, moral ambiguity, and very pretty art. In this volume, Cain gets very monomaniacal about his father and Riff. Considering how scarily obsessive he already was, that's saying something.)
---Fruits Basket vol. 17, Natsuki Takaya (manga: the story of a girl and the very strange family she becomes involved with and tries to heal. In this volume, a lot of secrets are revealed. Kureno, Akito, and Shigure... wow, that's a tangled mess. I always suspected there was something going on between Shigure and Akito, and I knew Shigure was hiding some significant depths, but this is a lot more than I ventured to imagine!)
---Tokyo Babylon vol. 1, CLAMP (manga: in which we meet Subaru, Hokuto, and Seishirou. This is an interesting introductory volume, since it seems entirely cute and harmless until the end, and then... well, of course, I already knew the secret, having read the rest of the series and X/1999 as well, but I think it would be very interesting to know how people reacted on reading that cold, in the right order.)
---X/1999 vol. 18, CLAMP (manga: which seems to me to thoroughly refute any interpretations of Fuuma as a heartless evil monster. He's hurting too, I think -- or at least wishing for something -- and the question is whether Kamui will figure it out soon enough to do any good. Also, Subaru seems much more together than I've seen a lot of people portray him post-Rainbow Bridge. He's clearly damaged, but it seems more like near total apathy and depression than outright madness.)


Old: 12
---Jinian Star-Eye, Sheri S. Tepper (fantasy/sci-fi: the 9th and final volume of the True Game series; someday I will track down the three volumes I haven't read, as well as the one I foolishly gave to a garage sale several years ago. Tepper is an interesting writer, since she so clearly has ideological axes to grind, but while I tend to reject a lot of her ideas -- or at least the painful lengths to which she takes them -- it's good to stop and think now and then.)
---Moon of Three Rings, Andre Norton (sci-fi/fantasy: Krip Vorlund, a Free Trader, gets caught up in local politics on the world of Yiktor, and finds his fate tangled with Maelen, a Moonsinger of the Thassa. I have no objectivity about this book -- it's a treasured part of my childhood -- though I think, in retrospect, that it rambles somewhat and Norton fudges the Thassa's abilities a little too far toward magic.)
---Exiles of the Stars, Andre Norton (sci-fi/fantasy: the continuing adventures of Krip and Maelen. Again, the plot rambles somewhat, but since the focus is more on Krip's growing awkwardness with his shipmates, and on his and Maelen's deepening partnership, that's okay. I also like the utterly random appearance of old Egyptian deities on an alien planet -- so random that even the characters remark on its oddness!)
---Psychoshop, Alfred Bester and Roger Zelazny (science fiction: weird, but in a cool way. Its approach to science is characteristic of space opera, but since it's set mostly on Earth and mostly during the twentieth century, I hesitate to use that term. Read this -- it's fast, snappy, and a lot of fun... even the destruction of the universe. *grin*)
---A Civil Campaign, Lois McMaster Bujold (science fiction: Regency romance in space, via Miles Vorkosigan and Barrayar. This book is like crack -- I only meant to read one small scene, and somehow I ended up reading the whole thing. Again. *marvels at Bujold's skill*)
---White Night, Jim Butcher (fantasy: Dresden Files, book 9, in which someone is killing women with minor magical talents, and Thomas seems to be one of the prime suspects.)
---For Love of Evil, Piers Anthony (fantasy: vol. 6 in his Incarnations of Immortality series, this one dealing with Satan. I started rereading this because I had a vague memory that it used the Albigensian crusade as a plot point early on. I was right, though Anthony barely glances over the real issues, writes as if the various nobles and cities of Languedoc were firmly under the thumb of the French kings, and treats France like a modern nation-state in the early twelfth century. But whatever; historical accuracy is not the game he's playing. The book is entertaining enough, though I was vividly reminded of why I got disgusted by Anthony's writing as I got older and actually understood how skeevy his portrayal of sexuality is.)
---Ultimate Spider-Man vols. 10-11, Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley, et al (comics: Hollywood and Carnage, in which Gwen Stacy discovers Peter's secret and then is brutally murdered for being an innocent bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time. I love the resolution chapters of each volume, for opposite reasons -- the first is so goofy, and the second is a beautiful portrait of a teenage boy trying to come to grips with the visceral, personal knowledge that the world is never going to play fair or cut anyone a break. Plus, y'know, there's superpowers and fights and stuff. *grin*)
---Lucifer vols. 10-11, Mike Carey, Peter Gross, et al (comics: Morningstar and Evensong, the climax and denouement of the story. First the battle for the Silver City -- and, by extension, all of creation -- and then Lucifer's departure.)
---Fruits Basket vol. 16, Natsuki Takaya (manga: Kyo thinks about Tohru's parents, more of Yuki's misadventures with the student council, and a glimpse at New Year both at the Sohma compound and at Kazuma's dojo.)


December Total: 22 books (plus several magazines, a few newspapers, and a lot of fanfiction)

2007 Total: 370 books (209 new, 161 old)


I should mention, for clarity's sake, that what I'm counting is not discrete items read, but times I sat down and read a book cover to cover. This means that some books got counted more than once per month or year, because I reread them. Also, if I read a book more than twice in the same month, it only got counted once -- it's an unavoidable peculiarity of my system.
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
It's time for the continuing adventures of Liz and her reading list! These are the books I read in December 2007. (And yes, I'm going to continue at least through 2008, whether anyone cares or not. I like keeping this list -- it's not the world's most practical use of my time, but it makes me feel organized and productive, and that's always nice.)

New: 10
---Here If You Need Me: A True Story, Kate Braestrup (nonfiction: Braestrup's husband, a Maine state trooper, was killed in a car accident. After that, she became a Unitarian Universalist minister and began serving as chaplain to the Maine game wardens. This is part autobiography, part introduction to what Maine game wardens do, and part theological musing. Beautiful and uplifting. Also, hey look, my religion is so a real religion! This is documentary proof!)
---Dragon's Eye, James Hetley (fantasy: two magical families on the Maine coast confront a South American sorcerer out to take one family's hereditary source of power. Interesting, especially for the small-town details, but somewhat scattered, and I never bought the emotional reality of the town cop's conflict with her daughter.)
---Empire, Orson Scott Card (thriller: the current hyper-partisan atmosphere in America tips over into outright civil war. This book makes me really damn twitchy, for three reasons. First, I do not agree with some of Card's underlying assumptions about what centrism really is, and would like to shout at him until he realizes he's being a prejudiced idiot. Second, the book is somehow related to a computer game, and as such, some of the details of the rebellion are beyond reasonable suspension of disbelief. [Tripod mechs and hovercycles, my left foot.] But third, Card is right that we're very reluctant to examine our beliefs, see if they make any systematic sense, and listen to opposing evidence with an open mind... so my twitchiness is a sign that he's making his point. I will not reread this, but I am glad I read it once.)
---Breath and Bone, Carol Berg (fantasy: sequel to Flesh and Spirit; the two books are really halves of one continuous story. Here Valen discovers new twists to the mess afflicting the land of Navronne, and also discovers secrets relating to his own heritage. I like the way Berg takes a fairly standard 'fair folk' trope and turns them into kind of mystical, shape-shifting ballet dancers. *grin*)
---The Perfect Heresy: The Revolutionary Life and Death of the Medieval Cathars, Stephen O'Shea (nonfiction: this is actually less about the Cathars specifically and more about the Albigensian crusade and its aftermath in general -- consider it a history of the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries in Languedoc. Very interesting, albeit somewhat depressing, and gives a breathtaking sense of how far from inevitable history can be.)
---Marvels, Kurt Busiek, Alex Ross, et al (comics: meant to be an ordinary person's view of the Marvel universe, or some-such. Apparently this won a lot of awards. I don't see why; the storyline is trite and heavy-handed, and Ross's artwork always feels very static to me, rather than conveying the sense of motion so crucial to action-oriented comics genres.)
---Godchild vol. 7, Kaori Yuki (manga: a young English nobleman and his manservant in Victorian/Edwardian times, with poison, murder, and random supernatural elements. Creepy gothic weirdness, moral ambiguity, and very pretty art. In this volume, Cain gets very monomaniacal about his father and Riff. Considering how scarily obsessive he already was, that's saying something.)
---Fruits Basket vol. 17, Natsuki Takaya (manga: the story of a girl and the very strange family she becomes involved with and tries to heal. In this volume, a lot of secrets are revealed. Kureno, Akito, and Shigure... wow, that's a tangled mess. I always suspected there was something going on between Shigure and Akito, and I knew Shigure was hiding some significant depths, but this is a lot more than I ventured to imagine!)
---Tokyo Babylon vol. 1, CLAMP (manga: in which we meet Subaru, Hokuto, and Seishirou. This is an interesting introductory volume, since it seems entirely cute and harmless until the end, and then... well, of course, I already knew the secret, having read the rest of the series and X/1999 as well, but I think it would be very interesting to know how people reacted on reading that cold, in the right order.)
---X/1999 vol. 18, CLAMP (manga: which seems to me to thoroughly refute any interpretations of Fuuma as a heartless evil monster. He's hurting too, I think -- or at least wishing for something -- and the question is whether Kamui will figure it out soon enough to do any good. Also, Subaru seems much more together than I've seen a lot of people portray him post-Rainbow Bridge. He's clearly damaged, but it seems more like near total apathy and depression than outright madness.)


Old: 12
---Jinian Star-Eye, Sheri S. Tepper (fantasy/sci-fi: the 9th and final volume of the True Game series; someday I will track down the three volumes I haven't read, as well as the one I foolishly gave to a garage sale several years ago. Tepper is an interesting writer, since she so clearly has ideological axes to grind, but while I tend to reject a lot of her ideas -- or at least the painful lengths to which she takes them -- it's good to stop and think now and then.)
---Moon of Three Rings, Andre Norton (sci-fi/fantasy: Krip Vorlund, a Free Trader, gets caught up in local politics on the world of Yiktor, and finds his fate tangled with Maelen, a Moonsinger of the Thassa. I have no objectivity about this book -- it's a treasured part of my childhood -- though I think, in retrospect, that it rambles somewhat and Norton fudges the Thassa's abilities a little too far toward magic.)
---Exiles of the Stars, Andre Norton (sci-fi/fantasy: the continuing adventures of Krip and Maelen. Again, the plot rambles somewhat, but since the focus is more on Krip's growing awkwardness with his shipmates, and on his and Maelen's deepening partnership, that's okay. I also like the utterly random appearance of old Egyptian deities on an alien planet -- so random that even the characters remark on its oddness!)
---Psychoshop, Alfred Bester and Roger Zelazny (science fiction: weird, but in a cool way. Its approach to science is characteristic of space opera, but since it's set mostly on Earth and mostly during the twentieth century, I hesitate to use that term. Read this -- it's fast, snappy, and a lot of fun... even the destruction of the universe. *grin*)
---A Civil Campaign, Lois McMaster Bujold (science fiction: Regency romance in space, via Miles Vorkosigan and Barrayar. This book is like crack -- I only meant to read one small scene, and somehow I ended up reading the whole thing. Again. *marvels at Bujold's skill*)
---White Night, Jim Butcher (fantasy: Dresden Files, book 9, in which someone is killing women with minor magical talents, and Thomas seems to be one of the prime suspects.)
---For Love of Evil, Piers Anthony (fantasy: vol. 6 in his Incarnations of Immortality series, this one dealing with Satan. I started rereading this because I had a vague memory that it used the Albigensian crusade as a plot point early on. I was right, though Anthony barely glances over the real issues, writes as if the various nobles and cities of Languedoc were firmly under the thumb of the French kings, and treats France like a modern nation-state in the early twelfth century. But whatever; historical accuracy is not the game he's playing. The book is entertaining enough, though I was vividly reminded of why I got disgusted by Anthony's writing as I got older and actually understood how skeevy his portrayal of sexuality is.)
---Ultimate Spider-Man vols. 10-11, Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley, et al (comics: Hollywood and Carnage, in which Gwen Stacy discovers Peter's secret and then is brutally murdered for being an innocent bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time. I love the resolution chapters of each volume, for opposite reasons -- the first is so goofy, and the second is a beautiful portrait of a teenage boy trying to come to grips with the visceral, personal knowledge that the world is never going to play fair or cut anyone a break. Plus, y'know, there's superpowers and fights and stuff. *grin*)
---Lucifer vols. 10-11, Mike Carey, Peter Gross, et al (comics: Morningstar and Evensong, the climax and denouement of the story. First the battle for the Silver City -- and, by extension, all of creation -- and then Lucifer's departure.)
---Fruits Basket vol. 16, Natsuki Takaya (manga: Kyo thinks about Tohru's parents, more of Yuki's misadventures with the student council, and a glimpse at New Year both at the Sohma compound and at Kazuma's dojo.)


December Total: 22 books (plus several magazines, a few newspapers, and a lot of fanfiction)

2007 Total: 370 books (209 new, 161 old)


I should mention, for clarity's sake, that what I'm counting is not discrete items read, but times I sat down and read a book cover to cover. This means that some books got counted more than once per month or year, because I reread them. Also, if I read a book more than twice in the same month, it only got counted once -- it's an unavoidable peculiarity of my system.
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
It's time for the continuing adventures of Liz and her reading list! These are the books I read in November 2007.

New: 8
---Gun Show Nation: Gun Culture and American Democracy, Joan Burbick (nonfiction: an exploration of guns and America, starting around the Civil War and continuing to the present. I was fascinated at how the whole Second Amendment issue is quite recent and was drummed up as part of the conservative response to the liberal movement of the sixties. I'm not sure I agree with all of Burbick's conclusions -- to be honest, while I see no reason to ever own a gun, and probably never will own or use a gun, I find them kind of sexy -- but it's an interesting and educational read.)
---Slave to Sensation, Nalini Singh (romance: deals with Sasha, an empath, and Lucas, a were-leopard. First in Singh's Psy-Changeling series -- 'series,' in romance novel terms, still means a set of books written in the same created world, rather than a single story told over multiple volumes. Workmanlike.)
---Visions of Heat, Nalini Singh (romance: Faith, a seer, and Vaughn, a were-jaguar. Second in the Psy-Changeling series. You can see Singh getting better as a writer.)
---Dog Days, John Levitt (fantasy: one of those modern 'magic is hidden among us' urban fantasy things. Don't bother reading this one; the prose is fine, but the plot meanders to hell and back, and the narrator, Mason, is so disconnected from his life that I found it impossible to care about anything that happened to him. He glances over the surface of everything, never particularly caring, and Levitt either thinks this is okay or doesn't succeed in showing how troubled Mason actually is.)
---Trey of Swords, Andre Norton (fantasy: a Witch World novel. This feels like either two thirds of a full book, or one very short book with an ancillary short story tacked on for length requirements. Yonan's story is resolved, and so is Crytha's, but because they sort of overlap, I was left very frustrated that their almost-but-not-quite romantic subplot never materialized or was satisfactorily resolved. Even if they didn't get together, I would've liked to see them meet at the end, realize how their respective quests overlapped, and maybe for Yonan to become her sworn guard or something. *pouts*)
---Transformers, Alan Dean Foster (film novelization: I don't usually watch movies. It's not that I don't like them; I just forget to find time to go to the theater. So I read novelizations while I'm closing the store. This one is somewhat overwritten, though I think the floridity may just be Foster's natural style. Also, Foster seems to rely on people having already seen the movie; there's a lack of concrete visual description that hit me halfway through, when I realized that I had no idea what these people or machines looked like.)
---Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle vols. 13-14, CLAMP (manga: the resolution of the Dragonfly race plotline, plus Kurogane's backstory, ominous hints about Syaoran, and the revelation that Fai hasn't renounced magic quite as much as he'd like people to think. I love this story!)


Old: 12
---Witch World, Andre Norton (fantasy: in which Simon Tregarth uses the Siege Perilous to escape his enemies, and finds himself in a strange country ruled by witches and threatened by a strange, relentless enemy.)
---Web of the Witch World, Andre Norton (fantasy: direct sequel to Witch World, in which Simon and Jaelithe continue the fight against the Kolder and find their marriage tested by various trials, both within and without.)
---The Crystal Gryphon, Andre Norton (fantasy: a Witch World novel, in the Dales of High Hallack, where we see some of the side effects of Kolder's presence in the world. Kerovan, the heir of Ulmsdale, is born with marks of nonhuman heritage. Joisan, his betrothed, is left in charge of refugees from Ithdale after her home falls to invaders from Alizon. Their paths cross, though only Kerovan knows this -- Joisan has never seen his picture -- and then Kerovan's evil relatives complicate things by kidnapping Joisan.)
---Gryphon in Glory, Andre Norton (fantasy: in which Kerovan is an idiot and attempts to leave Joisan for her own good. He travels into the Waste to enlist help against the invaders. Joisan follows him, and they get caught up in an ancient conflict between the Light and Dark.)
---Year of the Unicorn, Andre Norton (fantasy: in which the Wereriders, who fought in service to the Dalesmen, claim their price -- thirteen brides -- and return to their homeland of Arvon. Gillan, one of the brides, causes problems.)
---Gryphon's Eyrie, Andre Norton and A. C. Crispin (fantasy: in which Kerovan is still being an idiot and trying to protect Joisan from himself and his heritage. Because she loves him, she sticks around and keeps trying to show him the error of his ways. Finally, finally, she gets through. Go Joisan!)
---The Jargoon Pard, Andre Norton (fantasy: an indirect sequel to Year of the Unicorn, which deals with Kethan, the heir of Car Do Prawn, and his troubles with his family, a witch, and a magical belt.)
---Dzur, Steven Brust (fantasy: a Vlad Taltos novel, in which Vlad returns -- briefly -- to Adrilankha and attempts to fix one of the problems he created when he left abruptly several years ago.)
---Winter of Magic's Return, Pamela F. Service (fantasy: in which, several hundred years after nuclear war devastates the earth, three schoolchildren in Britain go on a quest to bring King Arthur back from Avalon.)
---Tomorrow's Magic, Pamela F. Service (fantasy: sequel to Winter of Magic's Return. In which Arthur's new kingdom is growing, but Morgan Le Fay is consolidating her strength near the ruins of London, and Merlin is having trouble making his magic work in the new world.)
---Weirdos of the Universe, Unite!, Pamela F. Service (fantasy/sci-fi: in which two kids, Coyote, Siegfried, a Chinese dragon princess, Baba Yaga, the Horned King, and a tribble attempt to save the earth from invading aliens. This is a kids' book, and it reads like one -- don't look for great depth or resonance -- but it's so much fun that I don't care!)
---Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, CLAMP (manga: the Dragonfly race continues)


November Total: 20 books (plus several magazines, a few newspapers, and a lot of fanfiction)

Year to Date: 348 books (199 new, 149 old)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
It's time for the continuing adventures of Liz and her reading list! These are the books I read in November 2007.

New: 8
---Gun Show Nation: Gun Culture and American Democracy, Joan Burbick (nonfiction: an exploration of guns and America, starting around the Civil War and continuing to the present. I was fascinated at how the whole Second Amendment issue is quite recent and was drummed up as part of the conservative response to the liberal movement of the sixties. I'm not sure I agree with all of Burbick's conclusions -- to be honest, while I see no reason to ever own a gun, and probably never will own or use a gun, I find them kind of sexy -- but it's an interesting and educational read.)
---Slave to Sensation, Nalini Singh (romance: deals with Sasha, an empath, and Lucas, a were-leopard. First in Singh's Psy-Changeling series -- 'series,' in romance novel terms, still means a set of books written in the same created world, rather than a single story told over multiple volumes. Workmanlike.)
---Visions of Heat, Nalini Singh (romance: Faith, a seer, and Vaughn, a were-jaguar. Second in the Psy-Changeling series. You can see Singh getting better as a writer.)
---Dog Days, John Levitt (fantasy: one of those modern 'magic is hidden among us' urban fantasy things. Don't bother reading this one; the prose is fine, but the plot meanders to hell and back, and the narrator, Mason, is so disconnected from his life that I found it impossible to care about anything that happened to him. He glances over the surface of everything, never particularly caring, and Levitt either thinks this is okay or doesn't succeed in showing how troubled Mason actually is.)
---Trey of Swords, Andre Norton (fantasy: a Witch World novel. This feels like either two thirds of a full book, or one very short book with an ancillary short story tacked on for length requirements. Yonan's story is resolved, and so is Crytha's, but because they sort of overlap, I was left very frustrated that their almost-but-not-quite romantic subplot never materialized or was satisfactorily resolved. Even if they didn't get together, I would've liked to see them meet at the end, realize how their respective quests overlapped, and maybe for Yonan to become her sworn guard or something. *pouts*)
---Transformers, Alan Dean Foster (film novelization: I don't usually watch movies. It's not that I don't like them; I just forget to find time to go to the theater. So I read novelizations while I'm closing the store. This one is somewhat overwritten, though I think the floridity may just be Foster's natural style. Also, Foster seems to rely on people having already seen the movie; there's a lack of concrete visual description that hit me halfway through, when I realized that I had no idea what these people or machines looked like.)
---Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle vols. 13-14, CLAMP (manga: the resolution of the Dragonfly race plotline, plus Kurogane's backstory, ominous hints about Syaoran, and the revelation that Fai hasn't renounced magic quite as much as he'd like people to think. I love this story!)


Old: 12
---Witch World, Andre Norton (fantasy: in which Simon Tregarth uses the Siege Perilous to escape his enemies, and finds himself in a strange country ruled by witches and threatened by a strange, relentless enemy.)
---Web of the Witch World, Andre Norton (fantasy: direct sequel to Witch World, in which Simon and Jaelithe continue the fight against the Kolder and find their marriage tested by various trials, both within and without.)
---The Crystal Gryphon, Andre Norton (fantasy: a Witch World novel, in the Dales of High Hallack, where we see some of the side effects of Kolder's presence in the world. Kerovan, the heir of Ulmsdale, is born with marks of nonhuman heritage. Joisan, his betrothed, is left in charge of refugees from Ithdale after her home falls to invaders from Alizon. Their paths cross, though only Kerovan knows this -- Joisan has never seen his picture -- and then Kerovan's evil relatives complicate things by kidnapping Joisan.)
---Gryphon in Glory, Andre Norton (fantasy: in which Kerovan is an idiot and attempts to leave Joisan for her own good. He travels into the Waste to enlist help against the invaders. Joisan follows him, and they get caught up in an ancient conflict between the Light and Dark.)
---Year of the Unicorn, Andre Norton (fantasy: in which the Wereriders, who fought in service to the Dalesmen, claim their price -- thirteen brides -- and return to their homeland of Arvon. Gillan, one of the brides, causes problems.)
---Gryphon's Eyrie, Andre Norton and A. C. Crispin (fantasy: in which Kerovan is still being an idiot and trying to protect Joisan from himself and his heritage. Because she loves him, she sticks around and keeps trying to show him the error of his ways. Finally, finally, she gets through. Go Joisan!)
---The Jargoon Pard, Andre Norton (fantasy: an indirect sequel to Year of the Unicorn, which deals with Kethan, the heir of Car Do Prawn, and his troubles with his family, a witch, and a magical belt.)
---Dzur, Steven Brust (fantasy: a Vlad Taltos novel, in which Vlad returns -- briefly -- to Adrilankha and attempts to fix one of the problems he created when he left abruptly several years ago.)
---Winter of Magic's Return, Pamela F. Service (fantasy: in which, several hundred years after nuclear war devastates the earth, three schoolchildren in Britain go on a quest to bring King Arthur back from Avalon.)
---Tomorrow's Magic, Pamela F. Service (fantasy: sequel to Winter of Magic's Return. In which Arthur's new kingdom is growing, but Morgan Le Fay is consolidating her strength near the ruins of London, and Merlin is having trouble making his magic work in the new world.)
---Weirdos of the Universe, Unite!, Pamela F. Service (fantasy/sci-fi: in which two kids, Coyote, Siegfried, a Chinese dragon princess, Baba Yaga, the Horned King, and a tribble attempt to save the earth from invading aliens. This is a kids' book, and it reads like one -- don't look for great depth or resonance -- but it's so much fun that I don't care!)
---Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, CLAMP (manga: the Dragonfly race continues)


November Total: 20 books (plus several magazines, a few newspapers, and a lot of fanfiction)

Year to Date: 348 books (199 new, 149 old)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
It's time for the continuing adventures of Liz and her reading list! These are the books I read in October 2007.

New: 15
---Inventing Shaka: Using History in the Construction of Zulu Nationalism, Daphna Golan (nonfiction: what the title says. Golan assumes her readers have some prior knowledge of Zulu history -- though she proceeds to show how that knowledge is most likely flawed or slanted at best -- but if you have a basic familiarity with the names and dates she mentions, this is a fascinating look at how history comes to be written, codified, and worked into the fabric of a society.)
---Be the Pack Leader: Use Cesar's Way To Transform Your Dog... and Your Life, Cesar Milan and Melissa Jo Peltier (nonfiction: how to deal with problem dogs, and how learning to 'control your energy,' as Milan puts it, can help you deal with other problems in your life as well.)
---Star Wars on Trial: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Debate the Most Popular Science Fiction Films of All Time, David Brin, Matthew Woodring Stover, et al (nonfiction: a collection of essays attacking and defending Star Wars on a variety of charges. Hysterically funny, even while making you think. And I think the prosecution is right about the weakness of women characters in the films... though, you know, that charge could be leveled at something like 3/4 of pop culture, which is a sad commentary on the slowness of social change.)
---Belladonna, Anne Bishop (fantasy: sequel to Sebastian, in which the fight against the Eater of the World continues. Pretty blah.)
---Empire of Ivory, Naomi Novik (fantasy/historical: 4th in the Temeraire series, which is the Napoleonic Wars with dragons. In this volume, Lawrence and Temeraire go to South Africa in search of a cure for a mysterious disease that has struck the dragons of Great Britain. I like the way each book widens our view of this world and shows how the existence of dragons has made it different from ours.)
---The Fairy Godmother, Mercedes Lackey (fantasy/romance: a 500 Kingdoms story. Elena, a woman who was meant to live an iteration of the Cinderella story, is unable to fulfill her destiny, and ends up being a guardian of stories instead. Cute.)
---Fortune's Fool, Mercedes Lackey (fantasy/romance: a 500 Kingdoms story. The daughter of the Sea King and the seventh son of the king of Led Belarus fall in love and fight an evil djinn. Also cute.)
---The First Betrayal, Patricia Bray (fantasy: conspirators use forbidden magic to place the soul of a dying monk into the body of a rebellious prince, but neither monk nor prince is interested in being a puppet ruler.)
---Devlin's Luck, Patricia Bray (fantasy: after his family's deaths, Devlin of Duncaer takes service as the Chosen One of Jorsk, intending to die. Except he keeps on surviving... perhaps he really is chosen by the gods? Workmanlike.)
---Devlin's Honor, Patricia Bray (fantasy: sequel to Devlin's Luck, in which Devlin returns to his conquered homeland in search of the missing Sword of Light.)
---Making Money, Terry Pratchett (fantasy: a Discworld novel. Moist von Lipwig has turned the post office and the clacks into successes. This leaves him with no adventure in his life, and a bored Moist is a dangerous thing. Fortunately, Lord Vetinari has a solution, and so Moist finds himself in charge of the Royal Mint. Also includes golems, clowns, and a pneumatic model of the economy of Ankh-Morpork. *grin* I love Discworld.)
---The Alton Gift, Deborah J. Ross and Marion Zimmer Bradley (sci-fi/fantasy: a sequel to Traitor's Sun, describing how Darkover copes with the Terrans' departure. Whatever spark Bradley had as a storyteller, Ross does not have. This is a very blah book, and hews annoyingly close to the genre romance clichés that Bradley usually managed to avoid in her own love stories.)
---A War of Gifts, Orson Scott Card (science fiction: a novella set in Battle School, dealing with family, religion, and homesickness)
---Flesh and Spirit, Carol Berg (fantasy: the land of Navronne is dying, beset by war, famine, flood, frost, and religious madness, ever since the death of King Eodward. Valen, a renegade pureblood magician, stumbles into grand events when seeking sanctuary at a monastery. Interesting, though maybe a bit slow-paced. This is clearly only part of a story, and cuts off in an annoying place, but the sequel should be out in January.)
---One Piece vol. 7, Eiichiro Oda (manga: pirate adventure on crack. The continuation of the battle for the Barrattie, and Sanji's backstory with Zeff.)


Old: 10
---A History of the End of the World: How the Most Controversial Book in the Bible Change the Course of Western Civilization, Jonathan Kirsch (nonfiction: everything you ever wondered about the Book of Revelation, and then twice as much stuff you'd never even thought to ask about. The subtitle is just a marketing hook, though.)
---Caressed by Ice, Nalini Singh (romance: within the genre boundaries, this is very well written, and Singh is less irritating than many in her use of clichés. I reread this as research for NaNoWriMo.)
---Brightly Burning, Mercedes Lackey (fantasy: a Valdemar story, about Lan Firestorm, one of the more notorious Heralds in that country's history. This is a tragedy rather than a happy ending, and I like that, though Lackey rushes the end of the book.)
---The Sea Change, Patricia Bray (fantasy: sequel to The First Betrayal, in which Lucius and Josan find themselves playing puppet emperor.)
---Going Postal, Terry Pratchett (fantasy: a Discworld novel. Moist von Lipwig, a confidence trickster, is hanged to within an inch of his life and then offered a choice between certain death (a short step off a deep cliff) and uncertain death (reviving the defunct Ankh-Morpork post office). He takes the second choice.)
---Issola, Steven Brust (fantasy: in which Lady Teldra finally gets some characterization, and Vlad saves the world... or, more accurately, kind of helps other people save the world while wishing he were somewhere else and didn't have friends who routinely get involved in stuff like that.)
---Jhereg, Steven Brust (fantasy: in which Vlad Taltos and friends foil a plan to start a war between the House of the Jhereg and the House of the Dragon)
---Brokedown Palace, Steven Brust (fantasy: a story in the world of the Dragaeran Empire, though set in the human lands to the east. The country of Fenario is strained by quarrels among the four princes, the royal palace is falling apart, and the gods themselves seem to be meddling in human affairs.)
---The Lions of Al-Rassan, Guy Gavriel Kay (fantasy: a jazz riff on the Spanish Reconquista. Kay plays on the themes of beauty and art as bulwarks against the darkness, and the fragility of all that humans make, and the inevitability of loss and defeat. He's trying to break your heart. He broke mine. A beautiful, beautiful book.)
---Wild Adapter vol. 3, Kazuya Minekura (manga: two young men, a strange drug case, and various underworld machinations in greater metropolitan Tokyo. Film noir, horror, and science fiction run together through a blender, with generous subtext.)


October Total: 25 books (plus several magazines, a few newspapers, and a lot of fanfiction)

Year to Date: 328 books (191 new, 137 old)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
It's time for the continuing adventures of Liz and her reading list! These are the books I read in October 2007.

New: 15
---Inventing Shaka: Using History in the Construction of Zulu Nationalism, Daphna Golan (nonfiction: what the title says. Golan assumes her readers have some prior knowledge of Zulu history -- though she proceeds to show how that knowledge is most likely flawed or slanted at best -- but if you have a basic familiarity with the names and dates she mentions, this is a fascinating look at how history comes to be written, codified, and worked into the fabric of a society.)
---Be the Pack Leader: Use Cesar's Way To Transform Your Dog... and Your Life, Cesar Milan and Melissa Jo Peltier (nonfiction: how to deal with problem dogs, and how learning to 'control your energy,' as Milan puts it, can help you deal with other problems in your life as well.)
---Star Wars on Trial: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Debate the Most Popular Science Fiction Films of All Time, David Brin, Matthew Woodring Stover, et al (nonfiction: a collection of essays attacking and defending Star Wars on a variety of charges. Hysterically funny, even while making you think. And I think the prosecution is right about the weakness of women characters in the films... though, you know, that charge could be leveled at something like 3/4 of pop culture, which is a sad commentary on the slowness of social change.)
---Belladonna, Anne Bishop (fantasy: sequel to Sebastian, in which the fight against the Eater of the World continues. Pretty blah.)
---Empire of Ivory, Naomi Novik (fantasy/historical: 4th in the Temeraire series, which is the Napoleonic Wars with dragons. In this volume, Lawrence and Temeraire go to South Africa in search of a cure for a mysterious disease that has struck the dragons of Great Britain. I like the way each book widens our view of this world and shows how the existence of dragons has made it different from ours.)
---The Fairy Godmother, Mercedes Lackey (fantasy/romance: a 500 Kingdoms story. Elena, a woman who was meant to live an iteration of the Cinderella story, is unable to fulfill her destiny, and ends up being a guardian of stories instead. Cute.)
---Fortune's Fool, Mercedes Lackey (fantasy/romance: a 500 Kingdoms story. The daughter of the Sea King and the seventh son of the king of Led Belarus fall in love and fight an evil djinn. Also cute.)
---The First Betrayal, Patricia Bray (fantasy: conspirators use forbidden magic to place the soul of a dying monk into the body of a rebellious prince, but neither monk nor prince is interested in being a puppet ruler.)
---Devlin's Luck, Patricia Bray (fantasy: after his family's deaths, Devlin of Duncaer takes service as the Chosen One of Jorsk, intending to die. Except he keeps on surviving... perhaps he really is chosen by the gods? Workmanlike.)
---Devlin's Honor, Patricia Bray (fantasy: sequel to Devlin's Luck, in which Devlin returns to his conquered homeland in search of the missing Sword of Light.)
---Making Money, Terry Pratchett (fantasy: a Discworld novel. Moist von Lipwig has turned the post office and the clacks into successes. This leaves him with no adventure in his life, and a bored Moist is a dangerous thing. Fortunately, Lord Vetinari has a solution, and so Moist finds himself in charge of the Royal Mint. Also includes golems, clowns, and a pneumatic model of the economy of Ankh-Morpork. *grin* I love Discworld.)
---The Alton Gift, Deborah J. Ross and Marion Zimmer Bradley (sci-fi/fantasy: a sequel to Traitor's Sun, describing how Darkover copes with the Terrans' departure. Whatever spark Bradley had as a storyteller, Ross does not have. This is a very blah book, and hews annoyingly close to the genre romance clichés that Bradley usually managed to avoid in her own love stories.)
---A War of Gifts, Orson Scott Card (science fiction: a novella set in Battle School, dealing with family, religion, and homesickness)
---Flesh and Spirit, Carol Berg (fantasy: the land of Navronne is dying, beset by war, famine, flood, frost, and religious madness, ever since the death of King Eodward. Valen, a renegade pureblood magician, stumbles into grand events when seeking sanctuary at a monastery. Interesting, though maybe a bit slow-paced. This is clearly only part of a story, and cuts off in an annoying place, but the sequel should be out in January.)
---One Piece vol. 7, Eiichiro Oda (manga: pirate adventure on crack. The continuation of the battle for the Barrattie, and Sanji's backstory with Zeff.)


Old: 10
---A History of the End of the World: How the Most Controversial Book in the Bible Change the Course of Western Civilization, Jonathan Kirsch (nonfiction: everything you ever wondered about the Book of Revelation, and then twice as much stuff you'd never even thought to ask about. The subtitle is just a marketing hook, though.)
---Caressed by Ice, Nalini Singh (romance: within the genre boundaries, this is very well written, and Singh is less irritating than many in her use of clichés. I reread this as research for NaNoWriMo.)
---Brightly Burning, Mercedes Lackey (fantasy: a Valdemar story, about Lan Firestorm, one of the more notorious Heralds in that country's history. This is a tragedy rather than a happy ending, and I like that, though Lackey rushes the end of the book.)
---The Sea Change, Patricia Bray (fantasy: sequel to The First Betrayal, in which Lucius and Josan find themselves playing puppet emperor.)
---Going Postal, Terry Pratchett (fantasy: a Discworld novel. Moist von Lipwig, a confidence trickster, is hanged to within an inch of his life and then offered a choice between certain death (a short step off a deep cliff) and uncertain death (reviving the defunct Ankh-Morpork post office). He takes the second choice.)
---Issola, Steven Brust (fantasy: in which Lady Teldra finally gets some characterization, and Vlad saves the world... or, more accurately, kind of helps other people save the world while wishing he were somewhere else and didn't have friends who routinely get involved in stuff like that.)
---Jhereg, Steven Brust (fantasy: in which Vlad Taltos and friends foil a plan to start a war between the House of the Jhereg and the House of the Dragon)
---Brokedown Palace, Steven Brust (fantasy: a story in the world of the Dragaeran Empire, though set in the human lands to the east. The country of Fenario is strained by quarrels among the four princes, the royal palace is falling apart, and the gods themselves seem to be meddling in human affairs.)
---The Lions of Al-Rassan, Guy Gavriel Kay (fantasy: a jazz riff on the Spanish Reconquista. Kay plays on the themes of beauty and art as bulwarks against the darkness, and the fragility of all that humans make, and the inevitability of loss and defeat. He's trying to break your heart. He broke mine. A beautiful, beautiful book.)
---Wild Adapter vol. 3, Kazuya Minekura (manga: two young men, a strange drug case, and various underworld machinations in greater metropolitan Tokyo. Film noir, horror, and science fiction run together through a blender, with generous subtext.)


October Total: 25 books (plus several magazines, a few newspapers, and a lot of fanfiction)

Year to Date: 328 books (191 new, 137 old)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
It's time for the continuing adventures of Liz and her reading list! These are the books I read in September 2007.

New: 25
---Volcanoes in Human History: The Far-Reaching Effects of Major Eruptions, Jelle Zeilinga de Boer and Donald Theodore Sanders (nonfiction: pretty much what the title says. Very interesting, and smoothly written)
---Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes, Mark J. Penn and E. Kinney Zalesne (nonfiction: Penn's theory is that once a trend hits 1% of the population, it becomes important in its effects. He then lists 75 small trends that he finds interesting. Because the book is mostly a list elaborated on a grand scale, it's easy to skim any of the mini-chapters you may find boring or unconvincing, but many of Penn's observations are counterintuitively fascinating. The campaigning for Hillary Clinton does get a bit annoying, though.)
---Caressed by Ice, Nalini Singh (romance: within the genre boundaries, this is very well written, and Singh is less irritating than many in her use of clichés. Her science fiction still falls somewhat flat, though.)
---The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss (fantasy: in a world with a clear sense that something has gone badly wrong, a former hero tells his story to a wandering scribe. This is a marvelous coming-of-age story, the details of the world and its magical system are fascinating, I love the use of folktales and children's rhymes, and I particularly like that the hero and the heroine don't get together or have sex. And I would, quite literally, sacrifice a chicken if I thought that would get the sequel published sooner.)
---Summer Knight, Jim Butcher (fantasy: Dresden Files, book 4, in which Harry agrees to do three favors for Mab, the Winter Queen. The first one is investigating the death of the Summer Knight and hopefully stopping a war between Winter and Summer that might destroy the world's environment as a side effect.)
---Death Masks, Jim Butcher (fantasy: Dresden Files, book 5, in which Harry is hired to retrieve the stolen Shroud of Turin, and in which several very nasty fallen angels try to stop him.)
---Blood Rites, Jim Butcher (fantasy: Dresden Files, book 6, in which Thomas Raith, a White Court vampire, asks Harry to investigate a series of mysterious deaths surrounding a porn director.)
---Dead Beat, Jim Butcher (fantasy: Dresden Files, book 7, in which necromancers come to town, intent on finding their dead master's final book and carrying out a dark ritual to make one of them into a god.)
---Proven Guilty, Jim Butcher (fantasy: Dresden Files, book 8, in which Harry and Murphy look into attacks at a local horror convention, and discover that things are not right in the Nevernever.)
---White Night, Jim Butcher (fantasy: Dresden Files, book 9, in which someone is killing women with minor magical talents, and Thomas seems to be one of the prime suspects.)
---Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Jeff Lindsay (horror: the book they based the TV series on. The narration is really overwritten, but I got used to that after a few pages -- it's just Dexter's voice -- and while things sort of skim along the surface, that makes sense given his lack of true emotions. Fun and a little creepy.)
---Dearly Devoted Dexter, Jeff Lindsay (horror: in which a serial mutilator comes to Miami, and Dexter is dragged into the investigation somewhat despite himself, when all he really wants is to avoid Sergeant Doakes's suspicions and get back to his deadly hobby.)
---Dexter in the Dark, Jeff Lindsay (horror: in which Lindsay tips the books straight over into the supernatural. It works within the context of the story, but I liked the first two books better, probably because I already read so much paranormal stuff that it was nice to read stories that at least pretended to realism.)
---Athyra, Steven Brust (fantasy: in which Vlad Taltos discovers one of his old enemies is not as dead as people had thought, and inadvertently screws up the life of a young Teckla peasant boy.)
---Ultimate Spider-Man vols. 3-8, 10, 12-13, 15-16, Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley, et al (comics: I'm always going to have a weak spot for Spider-Man, no matter how badly written or drawn. The first comic book I ever remember reading was a Spider-Man comic from the late 80s or early 90s, which Cat loaned to me one day. One of the first non-PBS TV shows I remember watching was the Spider-Man cartoon that ran in the mid-to-late 90s. So my judgment is extremely suspect here... but still, these are really good superhero comics. There are a few moments where it helps to know how the events played out in the 616 Marvel universe, because Bendis occasionally resorts to fanfic-style shorthand, but overall this is clearly written, clearly drawn, and just really, really likeable. This Peter Parker is still a teenager, and Bendis uses that to great effect, confronting his idealism with a deadly, amoral world. In this one instance, the cynical bent of the Ultimate Marvel universe actually works.)


Old: 7
---Creatures of Light and Darkness, Roger Zelazny (science fiction/fantasy: one of Zelazny's mythological stories, this one based on some Ancient Egyptian deities.)
---Orca, Steven Brust (fantasy: in which Vlad attempts to repay his debt to the boy who saved his life, and stumbles across a financial scandal far bigger than he's prepared to deal with)
---Finder: Sin-Eater vols. 1-2, Carla Speed McNeil (comics: um... how to describe this... Jaeger Ayers, a congenital wanderer, returns to the domed city of Anvard and gets tangled up in the troubles of the dysfunctional Grossvenor family. This story is flat-out weird, and McNeil rarely stops to explain things, but the world and the people feel real and three-dimensional, as if they stretch back and forward beyond the book's plotline. And there are footnotes at the back for anyone who gets lost.)
---Finder: King of the Cats, Carla Speed McNeil (comics: in which one Nyima tribe and several Ascian tribes attempt to make peace, but get stalled by the Nyima king's death and the demands of their hosts. Then Jaeger stumbles into the mess.)
---Finder: Talisman, Carla Speed McNeil (comics: in which we learn what happened to Marcie Grossvenor after Sin-Eater. A meditation on stories and writing and the pull of unfulfilled dreams.)
---Finder: Dream Sequence, Carla Speed McNeil (comics: in which Magri White, a man who creates imaginary worlds in his head and earns money by letting other people visit and explore them, finds his subconscious invaded by a monster. Except it's a lot more complicated than that, of course.)


September Total: 32 books (plus several magazines, a few newspapers, and a lot of fanfiction)

Year to Date: 303 books (176 new, 127 old)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
It's time for the continuing adventures of Liz and her reading list! These are the books I read in September 2007.

New: 25
---Volcanoes in Human History: The Far-Reaching Effects of Major Eruptions, Jelle Zeilinga de Boer and Donald Theodore Sanders (nonfiction: pretty much what the title says. Very interesting, and smoothly written)
---Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes, Mark J. Penn and E. Kinney Zalesne (nonfiction: Penn's theory is that once a trend hits 1% of the population, it becomes important in its effects. He then lists 75 small trends that he finds interesting. Because the book is mostly a list elaborated on a grand scale, it's easy to skim any of the mini-chapters you may find boring or unconvincing, but many of Penn's observations are counterintuitively fascinating. The campaigning for Hillary Clinton does get a bit annoying, though.)
---Caressed by Ice, Nalini Singh (romance: within the genre boundaries, this is very well written, and Singh is less irritating than many in her use of clichés. Her science fiction still falls somewhat flat, though.)
---The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss (fantasy: in a world with a clear sense that something has gone badly wrong, a former hero tells his story to a wandering scribe. This is a marvelous coming-of-age story, the details of the world and its magical system are fascinating, I love the use of folktales and children's rhymes, and I particularly like that the hero and the heroine don't get together or have sex. And I would, quite literally, sacrifice a chicken if I thought that would get the sequel published sooner.)
---Summer Knight, Jim Butcher (fantasy: Dresden Files, book 4, in which Harry agrees to do three favors for Mab, the Winter Queen. The first one is investigating the death of the Summer Knight and hopefully stopping a war between Winter and Summer that might destroy the world's environment as a side effect.)
---Death Masks, Jim Butcher (fantasy: Dresden Files, book 5, in which Harry is hired to retrieve the stolen Shroud of Turin, and in which several very nasty fallen angels try to stop him.)
---Blood Rites, Jim Butcher (fantasy: Dresden Files, book 6, in which Thomas Raith, a White Court vampire, asks Harry to investigate a series of mysterious deaths surrounding a porn director.)
---Dead Beat, Jim Butcher (fantasy: Dresden Files, book 7, in which necromancers come to town, intent on finding their dead master's final book and carrying out a dark ritual to make one of them into a god.)
---Proven Guilty, Jim Butcher (fantasy: Dresden Files, book 8, in which Harry and Murphy look into attacks at a local horror convention, and discover that things are not right in the Nevernever.)
---White Night, Jim Butcher (fantasy: Dresden Files, book 9, in which someone is killing women with minor magical talents, and Thomas seems to be one of the prime suspects.)
---Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Jeff Lindsay (horror: the book they based the TV series on. The narration is really overwritten, but I got used to that after a few pages -- it's just Dexter's voice -- and while things sort of skim along the surface, that makes sense given his lack of true emotions. Fun and a little creepy.)
---Dearly Devoted Dexter, Jeff Lindsay (horror: in which a serial mutilator comes to Miami, and Dexter is dragged into the investigation somewhat despite himself, when all he really wants is to avoid Sergeant Doakes's suspicions and get back to his deadly hobby.)
---Dexter in the Dark, Jeff Lindsay (horror: in which Lindsay tips the books straight over into the supernatural. It works within the context of the story, but I liked the first two books better, probably because I already read so much paranormal stuff that it was nice to read stories that at least pretended to realism.)
---Athyra, Steven Brust (fantasy: in which Vlad Taltos discovers one of his old enemies is not as dead as people had thought, and inadvertently screws up the life of a young Teckla peasant boy.)
---Ultimate Spider-Man vols. 3-8, 10, 12-13, 15-16, Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley, et al (comics: I'm always going to have a weak spot for Spider-Man, no matter how badly written or drawn. The first comic book I ever remember reading was a Spider-Man comic from the late 80s or early 90s, which Cat loaned to me one day. One of the first non-PBS TV shows I remember watching was the Spider-Man cartoon that ran in the mid-to-late 90s. So my judgment is extremely suspect here... but still, these are really good superhero comics. There are a few moments where it helps to know how the events played out in the 616 Marvel universe, because Bendis occasionally resorts to fanfic-style shorthand, but overall this is clearly written, clearly drawn, and just really, really likeable. This Peter Parker is still a teenager, and Bendis uses that to great effect, confronting his idealism with a deadly, amoral world. In this one instance, the cynical bent of the Ultimate Marvel universe actually works.)


Old: 7
---Creatures of Light and Darkness, Roger Zelazny (science fiction/fantasy: one of Zelazny's mythological stories, this one based on some Ancient Egyptian deities.)
---Orca, Steven Brust (fantasy: in which Vlad attempts to repay his debt to the boy who saved his life, and stumbles across a financial scandal far bigger than he's prepared to deal with)
---Finder: Sin-Eater vols. 1-2, Carla Speed McNeil (comics: um... how to describe this... Jaeger Ayers, a congenital wanderer, returns to the domed city of Anvard and gets tangled up in the troubles of the dysfunctional Grossvenor family. This story is flat-out weird, and McNeil rarely stops to explain things, but the world and the people feel real and three-dimensional, as if they stretch back and forward beyond the book's plotline. And there are footnotes at the back for anyone who gets lost.)
---Finder: King of the Cats, Carla Speed McNeil (comics: in which one Nyima tribe and several Ascian tribes attempt to make peace, but get stalled by the Nyima king's death and the demands of their hosts. Then Jaeger stumbles into the mess.)
---Finder: Talisman, Carla Speed McNeil (comics: in which we learn what happened to Marcie Grossvenor after Sin-Eater. A meditation on stories and writing and the pull of unfulfilled dreams.)
---Finder: Dream Sequence, Carla Speed McNeil (comics: in which Magri White, a man who creates imaginary worlds in his head and earns money by letting other people visit and explore them, finds his subconscious invaded by a monster. Except it's a lot more complicated than that, of course.)


September Total: 32 books (plus several magazines, a few newspapers, and a lot of fanfiction)

Year to Date: 303 books (176 new, 127 old)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
It's time for the continuing adventures of Liz and her reading list! These are the books I read in August 2007. I got kind of long-winded in my summaries and reactions this month. Sorry about that.

New: 16
---Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë (fiction: Heathcliff is obsessed with Catherine Earnshaw, and manages, over the course of two generations, to nearly ruin both the Earnshaw and Linton families, only to be thwarted in the end by either madness or Catherine's ghost. This is not a romance. It's a sociological study of how the social isolation of the countryside could drive the propertied classes in England completely crazy, and an illustration of the problem of evil. The novel is told in frame stories, which I find interesting because nobody ever mentions it.)
---Red Seas Under Red Skies, Scott Lynch (fantasy: sequel to The Lies of Locke Lamora, in which we learn what Locke and Jean have been up to in the two years since they fled Camorr. Lynch throws a lot of plot threads into the air, and though he does manages to catch most of them and weave them back together, the book lacks the overwhelming narrative drive of its predecessor. Also, the romance subplot failed to convince me. Still, it's a good book!)
---Logan's Run, William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson (science fiction: stupid, stupid, stupid. The sociological projections are absurd, the world-building makes no sense, the writers attempt to pass off the conclusion of a bad romance plot arc as the conclusion of a bad action/adventure plot arc, and even Logan's characterization is this close to nonexistent. I especially dislike the persistent objectification of women.)
---The Sea Change, Patricia Bray (fantasy: middle book of a trilogy, in which the soul of a dying monk was shoved into the body of a rebellious prince in an attempt to turn the prince into a puppet ruler... except both prince and monk have other ideas. Workmanlike.)
---Jack Knife, Virginia Baker (science fiction: in which one man goes back to Victorian London and two other people are sent back to stop him from changing history. Unfortunately, they arrive four years too late, during the height of the Ripper killings. You can tell this is Baker's first novel -- there's some awkwardness in the structure, the villain failed to convince me, and I think the romance subplot was unnecessary -- but it held my attention.)
---Tanner's Scheme, Lora Leigh (romance: pornography, pure and simple, and not even good pornography. Why is it that romance writers who have interesting ideas -- I love the notion of genetically modified humans raised as assassins, who then escape and campaign for their civil rights -- just use them as throwaway background for badly-written sex scenes? There's almost more sex in this book than story! And the characterization stinks.)
---How to Lose an Extraterrestrial in 10 Days, Susan Grant (romance: I laughed myself sick at the poor, abused trappings of space opera that Grant attempts to drape over her romance plot. This book suffers from 'all planets are monocultures' syndrome, from 'all interstellar societies must be monarchial/autocratic' syndrome, and especially from 'aliens can do psychologically implausible things with no justification because they're aliens... even though they're human enough to love and have kids with humans' syndrome. We also have 'shoehorn a socially relevant charitable cause in as one of the main character's interests!' syndrome, though that's more a romance cliché than a bad space opera cliché.)
---Silver Master, Jayne Castle [pseud. of Jayne Ann Krentz] (romance: another attempt to spice up a trite romance plot with sci-fi trappings. This one's not quite as laughable as Grant's, probably because Krentz has her planet populated by stranded Terran colonists rather than aliens, but otherwise... yeah. Trite. It's cute, though, and the sex is fairly restrained.)
---Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter, Steven Johnson (nonfiction: Johnson argues that the human brain loves to figure things out, and seeks stimuli that require us to work rather than vegetate passively. Therefore, while the content of pop culture may be a lowest-common-denominator situation, the form of pop culture has become more and more demanding over time, especially since the development of recording technology that allows us to watch TV episodes more than once. Fascinating and engagingly written, though perhaps somewhat superficial.)
---Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling, Chris Crawford (nonfiction: a guy who used to design computer games and who now designs interactive story worlds talks about his field. Interesting, but I'm not interested in his level of interactivity; I'm a storyteller, not a story facilitator. I'm also not a computer programmer, but if you can do basic algebra, nothing in this book should be beyond you.)
---The Atoms of Language: The Mind's Hidden Rules of Grammar, Mark C. Baker (nonfiction: Baker argues that languages can be categorized according to very fundamental rules of grammar, and that small differences in the 'recipe' of a language lead to great differences in the 'cake' form of that language. This, he says, explains both how languages can be incomprehensible to non-speakers, and how children can learn wildly different languages with equal ease. I'm not sure I agree with all his arguments, and the 'periodic table of languages' analogy is clearly just a publishing hook, but I learned a lot from reading this. Basically comprehensible even without any proper background in linguistics.)
---Nana vol. 6, Ai Yazawa (manga: young adults in Tokyo; love, sex, and rock. Not my usual thing, but it's well done, and the sense of searching, of not knowing where you want to be nor how to get to there, resonates with me and pulls me past Nana K's obsession with romance and fashion. The art's quirky, but it grows on you.)
---YuYu Hakusho vol. 12, Yoshihiro Togashi (manga: "like caffeinated crack," still more of the Dark Tournament arc)
---Godchild vol. 6, Kaori Yuki (manga: a young English nobleman and his manservant in Victorian/Edwardian times, with poison, murder, and random supernatural elements. Creepy gothic weirdness, moral ambiguity, and very pretty art.)
---Ultimate Spider-Man vol. 11 [Carnage], Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley, et al (comics: Oh. My. God. I suspect this would have more impact if I'd read vols. 3-10, but still. Oh, Peter. Oh, Gwen. I am going to wibble quietly in the corner for a bit now.)
---Ultimate X-Men vol. 8 [New Mutants], Brian Michael Bendis, David Finch, et al (comics: people are suspicious of Xavier but supportive of civil rights, so they attempt to throw a different group of mutants into the spotlight. Then hardline human supremacists send in the Sentinels. Eh, whatever. Honestly, I don't give a damn about any part of the Ultimate Marvel universe except Spider-Man, even when Bendis is writing said other parts; the worldview is too pretentiously edgy and cynical. [Also, Mark Millar is a hack, and Ult. X-Men is hobbled by his legacy.])


Old: 9
---Rose Daughter, Robin McKinley (fantasy: a retelling of "Beauty and the Beast," quieter and more equivocal than her first such retelling. I especially like the ending, which solves one of the problems I began to have with the traditional ending as I got older.)
---Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke (fantasy: see my reaction from 2005)
---Watership Down, Richard Adams (fiction/fantasy: one of my favorite books. A small group of rabbits leave their doomed warren and set out on a quest for a new home. A beautiful story, and a relatively unsentimental and believable attempt to anthropomorphize animals.)
---The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger (fiction/fantasy: I cried the first time I read this. On rereading, I am surprised at how normal Clare and Henry's story is, all things considered. This is a 'one impossible element' type of fantasy, and the rest of the world remains resolutely down to earth.)
---The Bourne Identity, Robert Ludlum (fiction: in which a man with amnesia attempts to find his life, while fleeing enemies both in the criminal world and the American intelligence service. This is really a love story; the thriller stuff is just the trappings. Apropos of nothing in particular, there's one throwaway line that cracks me up every time I read it. After a secret meeting of Treadstone 71, Gordon Webb says that he's heading to a private airfield in Madison, NJ. Well, I grew up in Madison, NJ. The first time I read that line, I had to call my dad and say, "Hey, there aren't any secret airfields in town that I somehow never knew about, right?" We're pretty sure Ludlum just made it up. *grin*)
---The Bourne Supremacy, Robert Ludlum (fiction: in which someone calling himself Jason Bourne begins a series of assassinations in Asia, and the US government resorts to kidnapping the real Bourne's wife in order to make him hunt the killer. This turns out to be a really stupid mistake...)
---Lord Demon, Roger Zelazny and Jane Lindskold (fantasy: in which Kai Wren, a noted bottle-maker and former warrior, gets caught up in political machinations against his will, and eventually must fight to determine the future of his entire race. Not bad, but the ending is a cop-out, and I can't help thinking Zelazny would have fixed that if he'd lived to finish the novel himself.)
---Ultimate Spider-Man vols. 1-2 [Power and Responsibility; Learning Curve], Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley, et al (comics: in which Bendis decompresses Peter's origin story, and then sets an inexperienced, idealistic kid against the man who heads an organized crime empire. I'd forgotten how much I like this series. I read the first 15 issues or so back in '01-'02, when Marvel was putting up whole issues on the web. They had a viewing program that showed a whole page at 1/4-1/3 size, and then enlarged individual panels as you clicked on them, which was visually very interesting. Anyway, by mid to late 2002 I lost interest due to my depression, Marvel yanked everything down, and money troubles kept me from buying the trades. *sigh*)


Month Total: 25 books (plus several magazines, a few newspapers, and a lot of fanfiction)

Year to Date: 271 books (151 new, 120 old)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
It's time for the continuing adventures of Liz and her reading list! These are the books I read in August 2007. I got kind of long-winded in my summaries and reactions this month. Sorry about that.

New: 16
---Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë (fiction: Heathcliff is obsessed with Catherine Earnshaw, and manages, over the course of two generations, to nearly ruin both the Earnshaw and Linton families, only to be thwarted in the end by either madness or Catherine's ghost. This is not a romance. It's a sociological study of how the social isolation of the countryside could drive the propertied classes in England completely crazy, and an illustration of the problem of evil. The novel is told in frame stories, which I find interesting because nobody ever mentions it.)
---Red Seas Under Red Skies, Scott Lynch (fantasy: sequel to The Lies of Locke Lamora, in which we learn what Locke and Jean have been up to in the two years since they fled Camorr. Lynch throws a lot of plot threads into the air, and though he does manages to catch most of them and weave them back together, the book lacks the overwhelming narrative drive of its predecessor. Also, the romance subplot failed to convince me. Still, it's a good book!)
---Logan's Run, William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson (science fiction: stupid, stupid, stupid. The sociological projections are absurd, the world-building makes no sense, the writers attempt to pass off the conclusion of a bad romance plot arc as the conclusion of a bad action/adventure plot arc, and even Logan's characterization is this close to nonexistent. I especially dislike the persistent objectification of women.)
---The Sea Change, Patricia Bray (fantasy: middle book of a trilogy, in which the soul of a dying monk was shoved into the body of a rebellious prince in an attempt to turn the prince into a puppet ruler... except both prince and monk have other ideas. Workmanlike.)
---Jack Knife, Virginia Baker (science fiction: in which one man goes back to Victorian London and two other people are sent back to stop him from changing history. Unfortunately, they arrive four years too late, during the height of the Ripper killings. You can tell this is Baker's first novel -- there's some awkwardness in the structure, the villain failed to convince me, and I think the romance subplot was unnecessary -- but it held my attention.)
---Tanner's Scheme, Lora Leigh (romance: pornography, pure and simple, and not even good pornography. Why is it that romance writers who have interesting ideas -- I love the notion of genetically modified humans raised as assassins, who then escape and campaign for their civil rights -- just use them as throwaway background for badly-written sex scenes? There's almost more sex in this book than story! And the characterization stinks.)
---How to Lose an Extraterrestrial in 10 Days, Susan Grant (romance: I laughed myself sick at the poor, abused trappings of space opera that Grant attempts to drape over her romance plot. This book suffers from 'all planets are monocultures' syndrome, from 'all interstellar societies must be monarchial/autocratic' syndrome, and especially from 'aliens can do psychologically implausible things with no justification because they're aliens... even though they're human enough to love and have kids with humans' syndrome. We also have 'shoehorn a socially relevant charitable cause in as one of the main character's interests!' syndrome, though that's more a romance cliché than a bad space opera cliché.)
---Silver Master, Jayne Castle [pseud. of Jayne Ann Krentz] (romance: another attempt to spice up a trite romance plot with sci-fi trappings. This one's not quite as laughable as Grant's, probably because Krentz has her planet populated by stranded Terran colonists rather than aliens, but otherwise... yeah. Trite. It's cute, though, and the sex is fairly restrained.)
---Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter, Steven Johnson (nonfiction: Johnson argues that the human brain loves to figure things out, and seeks stimuli that require us to work rather than vegetate passively. Therefore, while the content of pop culture may be a lowest-common-denominator situation, the form of pop culture has become more and more demanding over time, especially since the development of recording technology that allows us to watch TV episodes more than once. Fascinating and engagingly written, though perhaps somewhat superficial.)
---Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling, Chris Crawford (nonfiction: a guy who used to design computer games and who now designs interactive story worlds talks about his field. Interesting, but I'm not interested in his level of interactivity; I'm a storyteller, not a story facilitator. I'm also not a computer programmer, but if you can do basic algebra, nothing in this book should be beyond you.)
---The Atoms of Language: The Mind's Hidden Rules of Grammar, Mark C. Baker (nonfiction: Baker argues that languages can be categorized according to very fundamental rules of grammar, and that small differences in the 'recipe' of a language lead to great differences in the 'cake' form of that language. This, he says, explains both how languages can be incomprehensible to non-speakers, and how children can learn wildly different languages with equal ease. I'm not sure I agree with all his arguments, and the 'periodic table of languages' analogy is clearly just a publishing hook, but I learned a lot from reading this. Basically comprehensible even without any proper background in linguistics.)
---Nana vol. 6, Ai Yazawa (manga: young adults in Tokyo; love, sex, and rock. Not my usual thing, but it's well done, and the sense of searching, of not knowing where you want to be nor how to get to there, resonates with me and pulls me past Nana K's obsession with romance and fashion. The art's quirky, but it grows on you.)
---YuYu Hakusho vol. 12, Yoshihiro Togashi (manga: "like caffeinated crack," still more of the Dark Tournament arc)
---Godchild vol. 6, Kaori Yuki (manga: a young English nobleman and his manservant in Victorian/Edwardian times, with poison, murder, and random supernatural elements. Creepy gothic weirdness, moral ambiguity, and very pretty art.)
---Ultimate Spider-Man vol. 11 [Carnage], Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley, et al (comics: Oh. My. God. I suspect this would have more impact if I'd read vols. 3-10, but still. Oh, Peter. Oh, Gwen. I am going to wibble quietly in the corner for a bit now.)
---Ultimate X-Men vol. 8 [New Mutants], Brian Michael Bendis, David Finch, et al (comics: people are suspicious of Xavier but supportive of civil rights, so they attempt to throw a different group of mutants into the spotlight. Then hardline human supremacists send in the Sentinels. Eh, whatever. Honestly, I don't give a damn about any part of the Ultimate Marvel universe except Spider-Man, even when Bendis is writing said other parts; the worldview is too pretentiously edgy and cynical. [Also, Mark Millar is a hack, and Ult. X-Men is hobbled by his legacy.])


Old: 9
---Rose Daughter, Robin McKinley (fantasy: a retelling of "Beauty and the Beast," quieter and more equivocal than her first such retelling. I especially like the ending, which solves one of the problems I began to have with the traditional ending as I got older.)
---Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke (fantasy: see my reaction from 2005)
---Watership Down, Richard Adams (fiction/fantasy: one of my favorite books. A small group of rabbits leave their doomed warren and set out on a quest for a new home. A beautiful story, and a relatively unsentimental and believable attempt to anthropomorphize animals.)
---The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger (fiction/fantasy: I cried the first time I read this. On rereading, I am surprised at how normal Clare and Henry's story is, all things considered. This is a 'one impossible element' type of fantasy, and the rest of the world remains resolutely down to earth.)
---The Bourne Identity, Robert Ludlum (fiction: in which a man with amnesia attempts to find his life, while fleeing enemies both in the criminal world and the American intelligence service. This is really a love story; the thriller stuff is just the trappings. Apropos of nothing in particular, there's one throwaway line that cracks me up every time I read it. After a secret meeting of Treadstone 71, Gordon Webb says that he's heading to a private airfield in Madison, NJ. Well, I grew up in Madison, NJ. The first time I read that line, I had to call my dad and say, "Hey, there aren't any secret airfields in town that I somehow never knew about, right?" We're pretty sure Ludlum just made it up. *grin*)
---The Bourne Supremacy, Robert Ludlum (fiction: in which someone calling himself Jason Bourne begins a series of assassinations in Asia, and the US government resorts to kidnapping the real Bourne's wife in order to make him hunt the killer. This turns out to be a really stupid mistake...)
---Lord Demon, Roger Zelazny and Jane Lindskold (fantasy: in which Kai Wren, a noted bottle-maker and former warrior, gets caught up in political machinations against his will, and eventually must fight to determine the future of his entire race. Not bad, but the ending is a cop-out, and I can't help thinking Zelazny would have fixed that if he'd lived to finish the novel himself.)
---Ultimate Spider-Man vols. 1-2 [Power and Responsibility; Learning Curve], Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley, et al (comics: in which Bendis decompresses Peter's origin story, and then sets an inexperienced, idealistic kid against the man who heads an organized crime empire. I'd forgotten how much I like this series. I read the first 15 issues or so back in '01-'02, when Marvel was putting up whole issues on the web. They had a viewing program that showed a whole page at 1/4-1/3 size, and then enlarged individual panels as you clicked on them, which was visually very interesting. Anyway, by mid to late 2002 I lost interest due to my depression, Marvel yanked everything down, and money troubles kept me from buying the trades. *sigh*)


Month Total: 25 books (plus several magazines, a few newspapers, and a lot of fanfiction)

Year to Date: 271 books (151 new, 120 old)

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Elizabeth Culmer

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