Calendar Girl (kirilaw) wrote,
Calendar Girl

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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 Mango (Shira Glassman
A book by someone I know! (Online, but still) That's just nifty. It's also a really sweet book, and I really enjoyed it. Yay!

79. Ancillary Justice (Ann Leckie)
Everyone has been recommending this one, and I absolutely see why. It's doing really interesting things with identity and gender (the protagonist comes from a society where gender isn't marked in language, and so has a hard time telling people's genders and refers to everyone as "she"). The setting and background might actually be more interesting than the plot -- which is not a complaint! It's a fascinating background. ****

80. Chrysanthe (Yves Ménard)
I really enjoyed this book, at least in part because every time I thought I knew where it was going, it ended up going somewhere completely different. We start with a kidnapped princess who has been raised in ignorance of her origins in another world... so far, so ordinary, right? And it does contain much of what you would expect such a story to include -- the evil sorcerer, the heroic knight, and so on. But it also constantly undermines those expectations. If I have a complaint, it's that the way the story shifts emphasis leaves me unsure who the protagonist really is -- Christine, our kidnapped princess, becomes largely irrelevant to the latter half of the book, for example. As a result, the shape of the plot is a little different from what you'd usually expect. But it's still absorbing and interesting and gracefully written. ****

81. Mending the Moon (Susan Palwick)
This book is beautiful, and awfully sad. It's about grief, and tragedy, and moving on, and I find I don't want to say too much about it except that it's lovely and hard. *****

82. Sarum (Edward Rutherfurd)
When you need a big thick book to keep you occupied on flights, this fills the bill. I think it's best described as uneven -- some of the vignettes make quite good stories, with quite good characters that I was interested in and cared about. Others... Don't work so well. And there are several vignettes that start strong, but then jump ahead inexplicably and end up committing that great sin of telling rather than showing. ***

83. Sword at Sunset (Rosemary Sutcliff)
There was a time when roughly every other book I read was a reinterpretation of the Arthurian mythos. That hasn't been the case for years, but there's still something really appealing to me about a good Arthur story. This one is set in a realistic post-Roman Britain, and tells a version of the story without any magic... and it largely works. It does a good job of fitting all the traditional mythological elements into a real-world framework, and it paints a picture of post-Roman Britain that's rather different from the usual version. The way it deals with the burden of kingship is effective, too. ****

84. Spindle's End (Patricia McKillip)
Although this story is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, it's actually much more than that, and it very effectively stands on its own as a fantasy story in its own right. The characters are wonderful and loveable, and make you care about them; the world-building works and makes sense. And of course the writing is lovely. *****

85. Chimes at Midnight (Seanan Maguire)
Wow, Toby really has come a long way from the first books of the series! From a dingy private investigation business to schemes involving the fate of kingdoms... As always, I read this in one big gulp and enjoyed every minute of it. I loved the way the levelling-up of Toby's power became a liability, and the thing with the blood....eesh. Oh, and I was right when I guessed a character's secret identity a few books back! I love feeling smart. ****

86. If on a Winter's Night a Traveller (Italo Calvino)
This is really best described as meta-fiction... it's about fiction, and the reading experience. It's a weird book. I enjoyed a lot of it, but it's also profoundly frustrating, partly on purpose. I also want to complain about the gender issues, and the way the second-person sections assume a male reader (yes, even though there's a later attempt to make the "you" into the female character, it's still very much an afterthought and a "also") -- but a proper examination would take an essay, and I'm late enough with this as it is. So I'll just say I can see why people love this, but I can't quite love it myself. ***

87-96. Jack of Fables, vol. 1-9, The Great Fables Crossover
It had been long enough since I read the earlier volumes of the series that I had to go back and re-read them so that everything was clear(ish) in my head. This is such an odd series. At time it's a delightfully self-aware meta-story about stories; then it seems to get bored with that and becomes a relatively straightforward swashbuckling hero story. And then, when it gets to the end of its run (spoiler alert!), it turns into, effectively, "rocks fall, everybody dies". We jump a year or two into the future, find out about a variety of peculiar out-of-character things that have happened to various characters, and... there's a pointless climactic battle that kills everyone off? Huh? Why? What a disappointing end to an uneven but generally enjoyable series. **

And the rest of the epic list for the year!

1. The Door Into Shadow (Diane Duane) ****
2. Murder of Angels (Caitlín R. Kiernan) ****
3. An Artificial Night (Seanan McGuire) ****
4. It (Stephen King) ****
5. Bring Up the Bodies (Hilary Mantel) ****
6. A Slight Trick of the Mind (Mitch Cullen) *
7. Late Eclipses (Seanan McGuire) ****
8. Busman's Honeymoon (Dorothy L. Sayers) *****
9. One Salt Sea (Seanan McGuire) ***
10. Ashes of Honor (Seanan McGuire) ***
11. Joseph Anton (Salman Rushdie) ***
12. Ash: A Secret History (Mary Gentle) ***
13. The Strain (Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan) ***
14. The Satanic Verses (Salman Rushdie) ***
15. The Book of Negroes (Lawrence Hill) ****
16. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Haruki Murakami) ***
17. The Killing Moon (N.K. Jemisen) *****
18. In Great Waters (Kit Whitfield) ****
19. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (Lois McMaster Bujold) ***
20. Divergent (Veronica Roth) ***
21. A Civil Contract (Georgette Heyer) **
22. Jack Cloudie (Stephen Hunt) ****
23. Insurgent (Veronica Roth) ***
24. The Fall (Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan) **
25. The Age of Innocence (Edith Wharton) *
26. The Shadowed Sun (N. K. Jemisen) ****
27. Shattered Pillars (Elizabeth Bear) ****
28. From the Deep of the Dark (Stephen Hunt) ****
29. The Night Eternal (Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan) *
30. Zoo City (Lauren Beukes) ***
31. Cold Magic (Kate Elliott) ****
32. Finch (Jeff Vandermeer) ****
33. Lean In (Sheryl Sandberg) **
34. City of Saints and Madmen (Jeff Vandermeer) ****
35. Cold Fire (Kate Elliott) *****
36. The Windup Girl (Paolo Bacigalupi) ****
37. The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Neil Gaiman) *****
38. Soft Apocalypse (Will McIntosh) *****
39. Shriek: An Afterword (Jeff Vandermeer) ****
40. Gilgamesh (Stephen Mitchell)
41. Cold Steel (Kate Elliott) *****
42. The Best Laid Plans (Terry Fallis) ***
43. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Catherynne M. Valente) *****
44. God's War (Kameron Hurley) ****
45. Lucifer, vol. 8: The Wolf Beneath the Tree (Mike Carey et. al.)
46. Lucifer, vol. 9: Crux (Mike Carey et. al.)
47. Lucifer, vol. 10: Morningstar (Mike Carey et. al.)
48. Lucifer, vol. 11: Evensong (Mike Carey et. al.) ****
49. Embassytown (China Mieville)*****
50. The Door Into Sunset (Diane Duane) *****
51. The Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion) ***
52. God's War: A New History of the Crusades (Christopher Tyerman) ****
53. Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. (Susan Cain) ****
54. The Half-Made World (Felix Gilman)  ***
55. The Blue Sword (Robin McKinley) *****
56. The Hero and the Crown (Robin McKinley) *****
57-69. A Series of Unfortunate Events (Lemony Snicket): The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, The Wide Window, The Miserable Mill, The Austere Academy, The Ersatz Elevator, The Vile Village, The Hostile Hospital, The Carnivorous Carnival, The Slippery Slope, The Grim Grotto, The Penultimate Peril, The End ****
70. Code Name Verity (Elizabeth Wein) *****
71. River of Stars (Guy Gavriel Kay) ***
72. Redshirts (John Scalzi) ***
73. Discount Armageddon (Seanan McGuire) ***
74. A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent (Marie Brennan) ****
75. Le Ton Beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language (Douglas R. Hofstadter) **
76. Midnight Blue-Light Special (Seanan McGuire) ***
77. The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature (Steven Pinker) ****
Tags: books

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