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Book Wrap-Up 2011

I didn't quite make it to 100 this year, but it was a busy year!

90. A Shadow in Summer (Daniel Abraham)
It is a testament to how much I enjoyed this book that I immediately put the remaining three books in the series on hold at the library. The characters are sympathetic, the world-building is convincing, and the magic system is distinctly different from anything I'm used to seeing in fantasy. There are no real heroes, and no real villains -- just people with different agendas doing their best in imperfect circumstances. And even when that means doing really horrible things, it's hard to hate them. *****

91. Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque (Joyce Carol Oates)
As with all short story collections, some of these were better than others. They're all unsettling, though, dealing with dark places in the human psyche. The stories aren't speculative, but they're all more or less ghost stories -- except that the ghost is always (probably) something repressed in the characters themselves (usually something sexual). ***

92. The Kingdom of Gods (N.K. Jemisin)
The conclusion of Jemisin's Inheritance trilogy deals further with the implications of the major upheval that happened in the first book, but primarily it deals with the nature of Gods and Godlings. It occurs to me that it's actually fairly unusual for fantasy to deal directly with gods these days -- even in worlds where the gods are shown to be real, and really acting on human lives, we almost never have any glimpse of the gods' perspectives or motivations. But Jemisin has written an entire trilogy that, for all of the impact its events have on the human world, is mostly about the gods' interactions and dealings. ****

93. Desolation Island (Patrick O'Brian)
Oh, wow. This one was really good. I have enjoyed and been caught up in the previous volumes, mostly because there's something really appealing about O'Brian's voice, but this one... wow. The action scenes are incredibly compelling, and I definitely didn't want it to end. And now I have to wait for the next one. Sigh. *****

94. Shadowmarch (Tad Williams)
There's something a bit off about the pacing of this book -- specifically, it feels really slow. It's entirely possible to have a Big Fat Fantasy novel that moves quickly, but this one seems to spend pages and pages dealing with characters' angst while they debate what to do without ever actually doing any of it. There's a lot going on, but much more time is spent stuck in characters' heads with their self-doubt. And Barrick's head is a really unpleasant place to be, since I've outgrown most of my own teenage angst. The other viewpoint characters -- Briony and Chert, mostly -- are more appealing, but they still spend a silly amount of time agonizing about everything. I think this book is probably mostly meant to be slow build, but I do hope the next volume moves a little bit more quickly. **




1. Northanger Abbey (Jane Austen) ****
2. The Kingdom Beyond the Waves (Stephen Hunt) ****
3. The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde) ****
4. The Last Unicorn: the Lost Version (Peter S. Beagle)
5. The Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis) ****
6. Maelstrom (Peter Watts) ***
7. Secret Daughter (Shilpi Somaya Gowda) **
8. Cloud's Rider (C.J. Cherryh) ****
9. Among Others (Jo Walton) *****
10. The Great Divorce: A Dream (C.S. Lewis) ****
11. Delusions of Gender (Cordelia Fine) *****
12. Behemoth: B-Max (Peter Watts)
13. Behemoth: Seppuku (Peter Watts) ****
14. Her Fearful Symmetry (Audrey Niffenegger) ***
15. The Rise of the Iron Moon (Stephen Hunt) ****
16. The Unwritten, vol. 2: Inside Man ****
17. I Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith) *****
18. Death Note, vol. 5: Whiteout (Tsugumi Oba) ***
19. Preacher, vol. 4: Ancient History (Garth Ennis et al) **
20. To Write Like a Woman (Joanna Russ) ****
21. Master and Commander (Patrick O'Brian) ****
22. Grail (Elizabeth Bear) *****
23. The Secret Feminist Cabal: A Cultural History of Science Fiction Feminisms (Helen Merrick) ***
24. How to Suppress Women's Writing (Joanna Russ) *****
25. Thief of Souls (Ann Benson) **
26. Redwall (Brian Jacques) ***
27. The Sea Thy Mistress (Elizabeth Bear) ****
28. Les Guerillères (Monique Wittig) ***
29. Secrets of the Fire Sea (Stephen Hunt) ****
30. Aliens and Others (Jenny Wolmark) ****
31. The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction (Justine Larbaleister) ***
32. Tea from an Empty Cup (Pat Cadigan) ***
33. Barney's Version (Mordecai Richler) ****
34. Baba Yaga Laid an Egg (Drubravka Ugresic) ****
35. The Drowning City (Amanda Downum) ****
36. Nine Tailors (Dorothy L. Sayers) *****
37. Health at Every Size (Linda Bacon) ***
38. Fables vol. 10: War and Pieces (Bill Willingham et al) ****
39. The Mermaids Singing (Val McDermid) ****
40 + 41. Blackout, All Clear (Connie Willis) ***
42. The Curse of Chalion (Lois McMaster Bujold) *****
43. The Wire in the Blood (Val McDermid) ****
44. A People's History of Science: Miners, Midwives, and "low mechanicks" (Clifford D. Conner) ***
45. Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell) ***
46. Contact (Carl Sagan) ***
47, 48. Cordelia's Honor: Shards of Honor + Barrayar (Lois McMaster Bujold) *****
49. The Paladin of Souls (Lois McMaster Bujold) *****
50. The Last Temptation (Val McDermid) ****
51. Runaways, vol. 1: Pride and Joy (Brian K. Vaghan et al) *****
52. Runaways, vol. 2: Teenage Wasteland (Brian K. Vaughan et al) ****
53. The Memory Keeper's Daughter (Kim Edwards) ***
54. Lady Chatterly's Lover (D.H. Lawrence) *
55. Wolf Hall (Hilary Mantel) ****
56, 57. Young Miles: The Warrior's Apprentice + The Vor Game (Lois McMaster Bujold) ****
58. To Say Nothing of the Dog (Connie Willis) *****
59. The Swan Thieves (Elizabeth Kostova) *
60. The Forever King (Molly Cochran and Warren Murphy)**
61. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett) ***
62. The Habitation of the Blessed (Catherynne M. Valente) *****
63. The Unwritten, vol. 3: Dead Man's Knock (Brian K. Vaughan et al) ****
64. Cetaganda (Lois McMaster Bujold) ***
65. The Bone Palace (Amanda Downum) ****
66. Come Twilight (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro) ***
67. Runaways vol. 3: the Good Die Young (Brian K. Vaughan et al) ****
68. Runaways vol. 4: True Believers (Brian K. Vaughan et al) ****
69. Collected Fictions (Jorge Luis Borges) *****
70. Whose Body? (Dorothy L. Sayers) ****
71. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Catherynne M. Valente) *****
72. Tiassa (Steven Brust) ****
73. Deathless (Catherynne M. Valente) ****
74. Ethan of Athos (Lois McMaster Bujold) *****
75. Post Captain (Patrick O'Brien) ***
76. Clouds of Witness (Dorothy L. Sayers) ***
77. Shades of Milk and Honey (Mary Robinette Kowal) ***
78. We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Shirley Jackson) *****
79. Who Fears Death (Nnedi Okorafor) ****
80. Water for Elephants **
81. H.M.S. Surprise (Patrick O'Brian) ****
82. Bone (Jeff Smith) *****
83. The Owl Service (Alan Garner) ****
84. Unnatural Death (Dorothy L. Sayers) ***
85. The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (Dorothy L. Sayers) ****
86. Brothers in Arms (Lois McMaster Bujold) ***
87. Mirror Dance (Lois McMaster Bujold) *****

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