Calendar Girl (kirilaw) wrote,
Calendar Girl

  • Mood:

More books

11. Delusions of Gender (Cordelia Fine)
This is a great read, at least if you like a little snark with your science. Fine takes on the gender essentialism that makes up so much social science (especially pop social science). You know the kind of thing: "I always thought boys and girls were just alike except for socialization, but then I had kids and realized that boys are biologically wired to like guns and girls just have an evolutionary preference for pink". Fine demolishes the arguments, quite convincingly, although I will admit that she was singing to the choir where I am concerned. I think it's a good read regardless: not too dense, but definitely thorough and convincing. *****

12. Behemoth: B-Max (Peter Watts)
13. Behemoth: Seppuku (Peter Watts)
Well, if you are at all squeamish, why are you reading Peter Watts in the first place? These are good books, put they don't pull any punches, and they're not anything you could remotely describe as "optimistic". I'm impressed with his ability to make really nasty people sympathetic, even if it does make me very uncomfortable. Maybe because it does. ****

14. Her Fearful Symmetry (Audrey Niffenegger)
This is a very strange book. It's a ghost story, and it tackles a genre trope with a literary sensibility in much the same way that The Time Traveller's Wife did, although that's where the similarities end. The back of the book leads one to believe that there's some question as to the existence of the ghost, but (I don't think this is much of a spoiler, it's evident quite early on) there really isn't -- the ghost is there, she's a character, and it's her motivations that are in question more than anything else. I will admit that I found the supporting cast more appealing than the twins, but that may just be because some of the supporting cast is just so darn engaging. The ending is just plain weird, and now I find I want to discuss it with someone. This is a good book, and I actually think it's a good thing that Niffenegger isn't trying to replicate her previous success, but it doesn't quite work, I don't think. I'm still interested to see what she does next. ***

15. The Rise of the Iron Moon (Stephen Hunt)
This is the most science-fictional of Hunt's books that I have yet read -- not only do we have travel to another planet, but there are also some pretty science-fictional concepts at the heart of the plot that I can't talk about because they're spoilery. This is the clearest evidence we have so far that this is a very very far-future Earth (or something very like it) that we're dealing with, and not an alternate steampunkish universe. It also does an excellent job of raising questions about humanity. I think this may be my favourite of the books so far. ****

16. The Unwritten, vol. 2: Inside Man
In this second volume, things get weirder, and we get a bit of a clearer idea of what the grand quest is going to be about. In some ways, I liked the vague "oddness" of the first volume better, but with this volume, it does become clear that Carey has a story in mind (not that I doubted him specifically, but I am inclined to be a little wary when reading a new comic series). It's worth noting that there are some bits that are exceedingly upsetting. I am curious to see what comes next -- just how big and "epic" is this going to get? ****

17. I Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith)
This book works pretty much entirely because of the strength of the narrative voice. And it's a captivating, sympathetic voice. It's also interesting because it reads as a much more modern novel than it actually is. I could imagine something very like this coming out within the last ten years, but it's actually from 1949. You do occasionally want to smack the characters upside the head because they're being so silly, but you do it with love. *****

18. Death Note, vol. 5: Whiteout (Tsugumi Oba)
So what exactly is Light's moral status if he's made himself forget about his multiple vigilante murders? We're clearly meant to contrast his "intentions" with those of the "new" Kira, who's killing to ensure corporate profits... but I am still unconvinced that this makes Light any kind of good guy. Also, in what universe can you just lock people up for months on end (with or without their consent!) without anybody -- like, say, the previously-established family? -- noticing or commenting that they're gone? Hmmm.... ***

19. Preacher, vol. 4: Ancient History (Garth Ennis et al)
This volume is a collection of shorter pieces establishing back stories for some of the series' antagonists. To be totally honest, I didn't find the stories that interesting or creative, and they didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know. They also, despite trying to create sympathy for the antagonists, mostly just annoyed me. **

20. To Write Like a Woman (Joanna Russ)
This is a collection of several of Russ' essays, many from early in her career. Russ is a smart lady, and she often has smart things to say. I find her very readable and these essays are no exception. ****

21. Master and Commander (Patrick O'Brian)
I am not usually the sort of person who goes in for naval adventure, but O'Brian's books have been raved about by many people who otherwise share my tastes (Jo Walton, ahem), so I thought I'd give this a try. I don't know if it's my favourite book ever, but it is surprisingly readable, even with all the technical details about ships and naval battles. The characters are interesting and appealing, although flawed. The plotting is a little peculiar -- it doesn't follow a conventional story arc, and there are times when big chunks of time seems to be skipped for no very clear reason, and other times when every passing moment is described. Anyway, enjoyable enough that I'll start working my way through the rest of the books, I think. ****

22. Grail (Elizabeth Bear)
The third and final volume of the Jacob's Ladder series wraps everything up in style. I particularly liked Danilaw as a character, and it was wonderful to get an outside view of the world and the people we've gotten to know from the "inside" over the previous two books. I'm not sure the resolution to the "sharing the planet" problem that they came up with is going to actually work, long-term -- it certainly isn't what the folks living on Fortune were bargaining for -- but it is a solution that fits with the Jacobeans' general mind-set. Also, I love love love the line "We get along with carnivorous plants and talking screwdrivers. I don't know what should be so hard about getting along with you." *****

23. The Secret Feminist Cabal: A Cultural History of Science Fiction Feminisms (Helen Merrick)
This is a very interesting book, but I think it takes on more than it can chew. Merrick is trying to describe SF Feminisms both in fandom and academia, and I almost think those should have been two different books. The fandom parts are fascinating and I would have loved to see more details on that front, while the academic sections seemed simultaneously bogged down in jargon and skimming the surface of academic arguments. ***

24. How to Suppress Women's Writing (Joanna Russ)
I have such a crush on Joanna Russ. This is a very readable little book, full of anger and passion, but also very funny. It holds up very well, too -- it doesn't really feel dated at all, which probably says something about how we're doing societally. I liked, too, that Russ made a point of saying that similar tactics are applied to other marginalized groups, showing an awareness of racial issues, for example, without claiming to speak for those groups. *****

25. Thief of Souls (Ann Benson)
This was a random selection from the library, and I'm sorry to say it didn't live up to its jacket copy. It's two stories woven together, of a series of child disappearances in Medieval France and modern LA, but eerily similar crimes notwithstanding, there isn't much to tie the two stories together, leaving me wonder what was accomplished by the juxtaposition. Also, it started out as something like a mystery or maybe a procedural, but there really wasn't any mystery -- the perpetrators' identities weren't well-concealed -- and it wasn't "tense" enough at any point to be called a thriller. I think it was meant to be a psychological something-or-other, but I didn't feel attracted enough by either of the protagonists to be particularly drawn in to their psychological issues. The prose itself was very readable, but as a whole the book just didn't work for me. **

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) **** 
Tags: books

  • Some thoughts on Deep Breath

    So, we went to see Deep Breath at the theatre last night -- a little silly, to pay money to watch a show that we could have seen online two days…

  • Canadian Winter

    I'm something of a conflicted Canadian, and nothing brings it out more than the depths of winter. I grumble a lot about how much I hate winter,…

  • Last books of 2013

    Since this is basically all I blog these days, you'd think I could get the reviews posted in a timely fashion. Turns out... nah. 78. The Second…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.