Books 2013

Jan. 1st, 2014 12:50 pm
labellementeuse: a girl sits at a desk in front of a window, chewing a pencil (misc girl reading)
[personal profile] labellementeuse
First Time Reads

(These are not in order, I was slack about recording things, and I'm pretty sure I'm still missing some things.)

1-2. Mary Robinette Kowal - Shades of Milk & Honey and Glamour in Glass. These are straight-up Jane Austen pastiches with bonus magic. The first was quite charming, but the second one dragged enough that I didn't feel compelled to move on to the third. Hard to maintain the momentum when the romance plot is complete.

3. Robin Sloan - Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
I need to re-read this but what I particularly liked about this novel was a sense that it was very much written for my generation/people like me, i.e. people whose lives are well mediated by the internet. It reminded me a bit of Pattern Recognition by William Gibson - the sense of someone describing experiences that felt incredibly true to my own life in specific detail.

4-6. Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer - Sorcery & Cecelia and its two sequels
The middle one suffers from being diaries rather than letters and Sorcery & Cecilia is by far the best, but these were charming and soothing. Like Shades of Milk and Honey these are novels of manners with bonus magic; despite a dip in the second one, the third one picked up a lot of the first one's charm again.

7. Jo Walton - Among Others
Beautiful book. It reminded me a little of Diana Wynne Jones' The Merlin Conspiracy, oddly, but is probably better written. Hard to summarise in a few sentences but I loved it to pieces - it is a rural urban fantasy (if that makes sense) - I think that's what reminded me of the Merlin Conspiracy - about a young woman who gets sent away from her immediate family to attend school - but it's actually about what happened to her before that.

8-10. Ben Aaronovitch - Rivers of London, Moon Over Soho, Whispers Underground
I LOVED TO PIECES. What the Dresden Files would be if it grew up, got less sexist, five times as clever, funnier and was set in London (and really set in London, not just window-dressing).

11. Elizabeth Wein - Code Name Verity
MINDBLOWING. Possibly best book I've read in a few years. About the friendship between two young women in the war effort in World War II, one working for Britain's secret services and one a pilot.

12 & 13. Ellen Kushner - Swordspoint and Privilege of the Sword
On the whole I preferred Privilege to Swordspoint. Didn't find Alec or Richard sufficiently likeable in Swordspoint to really fall for them, although I thought they had a fascinating relationship. But Alec picking fights to find Richard people to kill really soured me. OTOH in Privilege Alec has mellowed a lot and I understood him much better, and Richard's relationship with Katherine was just sweet. I thought Privilege was profoundly brilliant around, well, privilege. The scene with Artemisia and her family after (extended plot spoiler) was incredibly disturbing and well-written. I guess I found the politics in that book a bit more directed and clear, so that when characters were nasty I felt it was in service of something. Whereas in Swordspoint I think the politics and their relationships to how the characters act were much less clear. Which made it a more complex book but, also, made me mad.

14. Emily M Danforth - The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Beautifully written, a really enjoyable YA novel, but didn't scratch my itch for just regular old gay protagonists.

15. Karen Healey - When We Wake
Really good fun, I'm looking forward to the sequel, but very YA without transcending the genre the way I thought, e.g., Code Name Verity did.

16. Ben Aaronovitch - Broken Homes
See what I said about the other Aaronovitch books above. I had a lot of complicated, spoilery thoughts about the ending that I should summarise in a post sometime.

17. Max Brooks - World War Z
This is very very good and compulsively readable, but once I started noticing that there were something like one or two women to every ten men, I couldn't stop.

18. Rainbow Rowell - Attachments
I liked it a lot - a fun modern(ish) (well, 90s) epistolary basically-romance. If you've read Meg Cabot's Boy Next Door books, a bit like those with slightly less romance.

19. Wil Wheaton - Just a Geek
Enjoyable enough, no complicated feelings.

20. Rainbow Rowell - Fangirl
Like Attachments, I liked this a lot, but I felt weirdly troubled by a gap in the experience, viz, where are all her internet friends for this entire book?

21. Tamora Pierce - Battle Magic
This felt very ... bitsy to me and a bit rushed. I didn't mind (as I was sort of expecting to) the bits where people went off on their own, but on the whole it felt like a book that could have been longer or possibly two books. I thought a lot of the supporting characters were not as well-drawn as Pierce's usually are - the God-King was perfect but the bloke and his twin sister (whose names I've already forgotten), despite getting a lot of screentime, I didn't really "get" them.

22. Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling - The Cuckoo's Calling - this was a really enjoyable modern crime novel, a bit Kate Atkinson-y, perhaps? I liked it.

23. Ian Tregilis - Bitter Seeds
This is the first book in a three-part World War II AU in which British blood magicians battle Nazis with various supernatural powers. It is well-written and compelling and I haaaaated it and will not be reading the rest because there was basically not a single character who was likeable by about a third of the way through. In the end the character I liked the most was a Nazi assassin (the only character in the entire book who had a moral qualm and tried to alter their actions, rather than having qualms, being very sad and drug-addicted about it, and then going ahead and doing the bad thing anyway). I have some very complicated feelings about the extent to which I have enjoyed British-based fiction about WWII. Unlike WWI I find it quite easy to buy into some fairly heroic narratives about the British during that time, which I know is not completely just; and I know that the Nazi atrocities are so horrendous and so well-documented that repeating them in fiction can be tasteless or revolting or just pointless. But, the thing is, if the actions of the British during that period are so monstrous that they begin to look like only somewhat an improvement over Hitler (partly in their treatment of British people but more significantly in their treatment of Europe), I feel like you're kind of doing it wrong.

However, if you like your characters to be extremely, extremely gray, this could be the series for you!

24. Jo Baker - Longbourn.
This is a book about a maid at Longbourn during the events of Pride and Prejudice. I have to say I really enjoyed it and it was a bit of a soothing balm after Bitter Seeds. Not quite as smart as Jane but very smart and thoughtful indeed; a bit like Downton Abbey if it was thoughtful and realist and not classist and hopeful.

25. Rainbow Rowell - Eleanor and Park
WONDERFUL BOOK! I cried. Really beautiful book about first love and also about small towns, poverty, abusive families.

26. Elizabeth Knox - Wake
This was the first Elizabeth Knox I've really really gotten alone with. I liked this book a whole hell of a lot. Creepy science fiction, John Wyndham-style but more horrifying/gory/graphic, set in a fictional town in Golden Bay - fourteen people are the sole survivors of a strange illness which causes people to become incredibly, obscenely violent. But when they try to leave, they find they can't get out. Anything more is spoilery, but I highly recommend it to people who like horror, science fiction, and genre books set in New Zealand.

27. Suzanne Collins - Mockingjay
I liked it, but having just seen Catching Fire I'm increasingly convinced that these books are books that were really destined to be and improved by becoming movies. It helps, of course, that the adaptations are really good. I can almost read every thought Katniss has off JLaw's face.

28. Pamela Dean - Tam Lin
I read this ages before the end of the year and forgot to write it down with my thoughts immediately that I'd finished. However, I liked it very much.

29. Scott Lynch - The Republic of Thieves
Another one I forgot to note down at the time. I was SO excited to finally get the new Locke book and, by and large, it lived up to expectations, with a very dramatic conclusion. Loved getting a look at Sabetha, loved all the flashbacks to the Camorr childhood, etc.

30. Matt Fraction/David Aja - Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon
Yeah, this is as good as everyone says it is, I'm excited to read the next trade. &Kate;;;

31. Meg Wolitzer - The Interestings
Really enjoyable litfic, quite immersive.

32. Donna Tartt - The Secret History
I thought I might have read this last year, but not according to last year's post. I liked it a lot.


1-5. Diana Wynne Jones - The Pinhoe Egg (and a shitload of other Chrestomanci)
6-7. The Lies of Locke Lamora, Red Seas under Red Skies
8-11. Tamora Pierce - the Daine quartet.
12-14. Anne McCaffrey (& Jody Lynn Nye) - the Doona trilogy.
15. John Green & David Levithan - Will Grayson, Will Grayson
16-30. Just about every Vorkosigan movel.
31-33. Garth Nix - Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen (plus Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case, which was in point of fact new to me)
34-40. Arthur Ransom - a shitload of Swallows and Amazon books for YT canon review
41-??. Terry Pratchett - FaustEric and then a whole lot more Pratchett that I couldn't be bothered counting

Upcoming to-read list
Beau Geste
Jerome K Jerome - 3 men on a boat
K S Robinson - Mars books
Seanan McGuire - Chimes at Midnight
Neil Gaiman - The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Max Gladstone - Three Parts Dead
Wen Spencer - Tinker, A Brother's Price
Top of the Rock - Warren Littlefield
Robopocalypse - Daniel H Wilson
The Girl who Fell to Earth - Sophia al-Maria
Ken Dryden - The Game
The Revolution was Televised
Jo Walton - Farthing series
Les Miserables
London Falling - Paul Cornell
The Luminaries
Henry James - What Maisie Knew
Elizabeth Gilbert - The Signature of All Things
Libba Bray - Beauty Queens
Ann Leckie - Ancillary Justice


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