April 4th, 2011


Books read, March 2011

41. A Civil Campaign (1999) by Lois McMaster Bujold -- Courtship and romance, Vorkosigan style. Featuring pretty much every character in the series who isn't a mercenary. A delightful whirlwind of whoops, and post-whoops salvage. Plus some Barrayaran politics. The butter bug subplot was a bit on the goofy side, but everything else was great fun. [Amazon]

40. Komarr (1998) by Lois McMaster Bujold -- Another enjoyable Vorkosigan novel -- though not as good as the Barrayar, Mirror Dance, Memory trifecta -- features some satisfactory, but not excellent, detective work, but more importantly introduces the love of Miles' life, and establishes her as an actual character rather than just the object of Miles' lust. Also, Bujold's thematic concerns seem to have shifted from identity to personal growth. [Amazon]

39. Dreamweaver's Dilemma: Short Stories and Essays (1996) by Lois McMaster Bujold -- This book collects all of Bujold's published short stories, which are generally, um, kinda cute but not that good, plus a couple even earlier unpublished novelettes, one a Sherlock Holmes pastiche, the other an early Vorkosigan-verse piece, and the popular Miles novella "The Mountains of Mourning". Also a few interviews and essays, better than the stories for their insights into why and how Bujold writes. One of those for-completists-only sorts of things. [Amazon]

38. The Hunger Games (2008) by Suzanne Collins -- A fun, fast read. Some wrenching scenes. Didn't blow me away as I'd expected it to, given all the acclaim from, well, everyone ever, it sometimes seems. I'm going to wait to discuss this one until I've finished the trilogy. [Amazon]

37. A Companion to Wolves (2007) by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear -- This is a book I've been meaning to read since it came out, but, well, I kept judging it by its cover, which does nothing to make me want to see what's behind it. I'm glad I finally pulled it off the shelf, though, because it's great fun. I understand that it's meant to subvert animal companion tropes, but as I'm quite unfamiliar with the telepathic animal subgenre that level was essentially lost on me. Fortunately, it stands on its own aside from that, with fun characters, fine worldbuilding, and a thoughtful story. I've seen some reviewers complain about the number of characters and the difficulty of the names; I hope none of those people ever becomes a teacher. Anyway. Recommended. And I can't wait to read the sequel later this year. [Amazon]

36. A Game of Thrones (Book One of A Song of Ice and Fire) (1996) by George R. R. Martin -- I don't think I've read any of these novels since Book Three came out about a decade ago, though I'd read this one at least twice before then. I was surprised at how many scenes I remembered, some of them almost verbatim. (Maybe it was more than twice?) I was also surprised at how addictive I found the novel; my tastes have drifted away from the fat fantasies I so enjoyed in high school, so I wasn't sure I'd still enjoy this now, but Martin does a masterful job moving the story forward between multiple characters, rather than getting bogged down with POV characters as some authors have done. Anyway. I tore through this in two days. No longer as mind-blowingly awesome as it once was, but still very readable. [Amazon]

35. The Hedge Knight II: Sworn Sword (2007-2008) adapted by Ben Avery (script) and Mike S. Miller (pencils) from "The Sworn Sword" (2003) by George R. R. Martin -- Better than its predecessor. Fewer characters to keep track of, and better adapted to comics. Enjoyable. [Amazon]

34. The Hedge Knight (2003-2004) adapted by Ben Avery (script) and Mike S. Miller (pencils) from the "The Hedge Knight" (1998) by George R. R. Martin -- I remember enjoying the novella on which this comic is based, but, despite some beautiful art, this didn't really work for me. I haven't read any of Martin's novels in a decade or so, so the parade of names and characters was a bit overwhelming, and the Avery could have done a better job letting the artist carry the story instead of giving us non-stop text boxes. Not bad, but not too impressive, either. [Amazon]

33. The Brains of Rats (1990) by Michael Blumlein -- A powerful collection of stories. Several of them are cold, hard masterpieces. A few others have, um, not aged very well. Blumlein's got a distinctive, precise voice, and he carves away at the frozen sea with a scalpel, not an ax. I look forward to finding more of his stories. [Amazon]

32. Memory (1996) by Lois McMaster Bujold -- And Bujold tops Mirror Dance, making this her best book yet. Plus someone deals with trauma without developing multiple personalities! I think I prefer the Miles mysteries to the Miles space operas, though it's hard to say whether that's a function of the genre or of Bujold growing as a writer. [Amazon]

31. Cetaganda (1995) by Lois McMaster Bujold -- Originally serialized in Analog. A young Miles mystery. Fun read, good worldbuilding -- it's nice that the Cetagandans aren't just vague villains anymore -- but pretty lightweight compared to the last couple Vorkosigan novels. [Amazon]

30. Mirror Dance (1994) by Lois McMaster Bujold -- Back to Bujold after a month away. I was a little wary of this book, as I didn't love Brothers in Arms or the character of Mark, but I was wrong to doubt. Bujold's just keeps getting better. While her continued exploration of themes of identity through often literally fragmented and partitioned minds sometimes doesn't feel quite right to me, her stories remain fun, fast and almost impossible to put down, and her command of them keeps improving. [Amazon]

29. Bet Me (2004) by Jennifer Crusie -- I'd never read a romance novel. I was curious. I've seen this book recommended several times in different places -- even more often than Georgette Heyer's Venetia -- so I gave it a try. It was a cute, fast read. Occasionally obnoxious, occasionally charming. Didn't leave much of an impression. May check out Heyer before checking out of this genre. [Amazon]

Books read, January-February 2011Collapse )