Calendar Girl (kirilaw) wrote,
Calendar Girl
kirilaw

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Massive book catch-up

Wow, I didn't think it had been that long since I updated my book list... but I have quite a pile to catch up with. Reviews will be even terser and more mini than usual -- sorry!

49. Empire of Ivory (Naomi Novik)
The Temeraire series is something of a guilty pleasure for me, but not one I'm going to apologize for. The dragons are just so much fun. In this volume (fourth in the series), Novik's dragons are finally changing the course of history -- up until now, history in our world and Temeraire's world has been on oddly parallel tracks. But now we're starting to see how sentient dragons really would affect the world. Novik is also starting to wrestle more directly with issues of race, especially around slavery, and it's nice to see these issues finally being addressed. Things are getting a little darker and, for once, the book didn't end on anything that could be called an "up note". I'm terribly interested to see what happens next. ****

50. Reading Comics (Douglas Wolk)
This is a fascinating study of comics as a medium. Wolk's focus is particularly on art comics, although he does deal with some conventional superhero works as well. Part One is a general discussion of the comics medium, and Part Two reviews specific works. Part Two gave me a number of names that I want to check out, but it was Part One that I found really interesting. ****

51. Quicksilver (Neal Stephenson)
Stephenson's a surprisingly fun, quick read, considering how large his books are. He deals, over and over, with the same themes: cryptography, information technologies, trade and the dispersion of wealth, sailing, etc. And samurai, although there aren't any samurai in this book (but see The Confusion, below). This time they're all being addressed in the Baroque period, which lets him put a new spin on his traditional hacker heroes. Of course, the characters all bear eerie resemblences to their counterparts in Stephenson's other books, which is kind of amusing. And yet, somehow he pulls it all off, and makes me want to read more. I don't know how he does that. ****

52. Blood and Iron (Elizabeth Bear)
Ooh. Wow. I want to read this again a few times. A reivew? Okay. Um. It's fantasy, and it pulls in just about every celtic myth you can imagine. And other stuff, as well. Bear's fae are dangerous and magnificent and utterly alien and oddly sympathetic. *****

53. The Alchemist's Daughter (Katharine McMahon)
My biggest complaint about this book is that I had most of it figured out before I got past the first few chapters: the beats were just a little too predictable. The ending wasn't quite what I'd predicted -- but only because it was a little more open than is traditional in books of this sort. Even the symbolism was a touch too pat for my taste. A good read, but a lightweight one. It doesn't bear too much examination. ***

54. The Powerbook (Jeanette Winterson)
This is definitely a Winterson book. It's ostensibly (according to the jacket) about relationships in the computer age, but it's really just about relationships in general, and the computer element is pretty quickly obscured. This isn't one of Winterson's best, but it's still evocative and captivating while you're in the middle of it. ****

55, 56. Promethea vol 4, vol. 5 (Alan Moore et al.)
Okay, I concede: this is not the way I would have done it. It's an impressive achievement, and beautiful to look upon, but when it comes down to it, I love story more than symbol, and symbol just completely hijacks Promethea. I know that's Moore's intention, so it seems unfair to criticize, but I just have to conclude that it's not quite to my taste. That said, it is an impressive accomplishment, and a lovely one. And if you're going to do an entire series about symbols, it's the way to do it. ****

57. Carnival (Elizabeth Bear)
I continue to have an intellectual crush on Elizabeth Bear. She is a very smart, very good writer. This isn't my favourite of her books that I've read so far, but it's still really good. The future she imagines, and the alien world she sets it one, are both vivid and astonishing and appalling, all at once. ****

58. The Mismeasure of Women (Carol Tavris)
This is a little dated, but it's still an interesting book. What I find most interesting is not Tavris' argument -- that women are evaluated in comparison to men, and that this is problematic for all kinds of reasons -- but the ways in which she herself gets caught making comparisons. Not that there's any really good way to talk about women without talking about men -- or at least not that's been discovered. A good read, though -- addresses statistical and research design questions without bogging anyone down in math or scientific details. ****

59. The Confusion (Neal Stephenson)
Ah, there's the samurai. It was just a matter of time, really. ****

60. Mélusine (Sarah Monette)
This is a dark, disturbing book. It starts with drugging and rape and then proceeds to murder and madness. One main character spends the majority of the book crazy, which made it hard to read but somehow captivating at the same time. The pacing was a bit odd, probably because this is the first book of a trilogy, and the story stretches out over the three books. I'm looking forward to reading the rest, although now I'm expecting to be unsettled (it was a surprise this time). ****

61. Whiskey and Water (Elizabeth Bear)
More, please. *****

62. The Light Fantastic (Terry Pratchett)
This is really the second half of the Colour of Magic. My review remains much the same: this is fun, and doesn't always quite make sense, but definitely entertains. I'll certainly be working my way through more Pratchett. ****


1. Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid (Douglas E. Hofstadter) ****
2. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry) ****
3. Od Magic (Patricia A. McKillip) ****
4. The Walking Boy (Lydia Kwa) *
5. The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can't Be Jammed (Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter) ****
6. The Girl Who Was Plugged In/Screwtop (James Tiptree, Jr./Vonda N. McIntyre) *****
7. Tori Amos: Piece By Piece (Tori Amos and Ann Powers) ***
8. Coldheart Canyon (Clive Barker) ***
9. The Infinite Plan (Isabel Allende) **
10. Ysabel (Guy Gavriel Kay) ****
11. Stardust (Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess) *****
12. Cryptonomicon (Neal Stephenson) ****
13.The Ladies of Grace Adieu (Susanna Clarke) *****
14. An Embarassment of Mangoes (Ann Vanderhoof) **
15. The Lions of Al-Rassan (Guy Gavriel Kay) ****
16. Shake Hands with the Devil (Romeo Dallaire) ****
17. Rollback (Robert J. Sawyer) ****
18. Singularity Sky (Charlie Stross) ****
19. The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America (Susan Faludi) *****
20. White as Snow (Tanith Lee) ***
21. Fire Upon the Deep (Vernor Vinge) *****
22. The Visitor (Sherri S. Tepper) ***
23. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life (Bryan Lee O'Malley) *****
24. Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2007: Twentieth Annual Collection (ed. Ellen Datlow, Kelley Link and Gavin J. Grant) ****
25. Madras on Rainy Days (Samina Ali) **
26. The Prestige (Christopher Priest) ****
27. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (Michael Chabon) ****
28. The Day of the Triffids (John Wyndham) ****
29. The Android's Dream (John Scalzi) ****
30. Promethea Volume 1 (Alan Moore et al.) ****
31. Starman Omnibus (James Robinson et al.) ***
32. The Book Thief (Markus Zusak) *****
33. Slipstreams (ed. Martin Greenberg) ****
34. Flat Earth: the History of an Infamous Idea (Christine Garwood) ****
35. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Bryan Lee O'Malley) *****
36. Promethea Volume 2 (Alan Moore et al) ***
37. Dust (Elizabeth Bear) *****
38. Path of Fate (Diana Pharaoh Francis) ***
39. The Lottery and Other Stories (Shirley Jackson) *****
40. The Drawing of the Dark (Tim Powers) ****
41. Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair (Laurie Perry) ****
42. Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping (Judith Levine) **
43. Understanding Comics (Scott McCloud) ****
44. Promethea vol. 3 (Alan Moore et al.) ***
45. The Colour of Magic (Terry Pratchett) ****
46. Gender Trouble (Judith Butler) ***
47, 48. Path of Honor/Path of Blood **
 

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