Friday, November 28, 2014

What I read this year (March)

This is the month that I started slowing down.

16. Beautiful Chaos, by Gary Russell (March 8). The Tenth Doctor book in the anniversary set, in which the Doctor brings Donna Noble home to visit her family just in time to help her grandfather Wilf figure out what's really going on with that new star in the sky. I was incredibly tickled when I figured out what the monster was in this one.

17. Doctor Who: The Vault, by Marcus Hearn (March 8). As a confirmed Doctor Who geek of long standing, I also enjoy reading nonfiction works about the show. This had a lot of historical trivia that I wasn't previously aware of, so I had a great time with this.

18. Worthy Brown's Daughter, by Philip Margolin (March 16). In which a lawyer in frontier Oregon helps a former slave sue for the freedom of his daughter. The first book by this author that I'd read. I found it engrossing, as I said at the time.

19. Broken Homes, by Ben Aaronovitch (March 23). Fourth in the uniformly excellent Rivers of London series, in which PCs Grant and May follow the Faceless Man into a dilapidated council estate that may have been designed more for magical than mundane purposes. It was a long wait for this one, as the author changed publishers just in time to introduce a six-month gap between the UK and US publication dates, but definitely worth the wait in spite of the cliffhanger at the end.

20. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach (March 24). In which the insatiably curious author investigates all the things than can happen to our remains. Another selection for my eclectic literary book club. This author was my suggestion, but I was kind of hoping to go with one of her other books.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What I read this year (February)

Continuing the minor nostalgia parade, here are the books I read in February.

8. The Men Who United the States, by Simon Winchester (finished February 1). I really like this author, and I found his organizing conceit for this book interesting: not chronological, but thematic, and the theme was the Asian five classical elements of wood, earth, water, fire and metal.

9. Earthworld, by Jacqueline Rayner (February 5). The Eighth Doctor book in the anniversary set, in which the Doctor, with Fitz and Anji in tow, finds himself in a far future theme park with some incomplete knowledge of what Earth was really like. This is the Doctor whose only screen appearance to date was the single TV movie back in 1996, which I had seen at the time and hadn't watched again in 17 years. The character went on to have a ton of adventures in original novels and audio dramas, none of which I was familiar with, so it was odd for me to read one of them with no idea where it fit in the larger scheme of things. It was evidently an early work of the author's, and her foreword to this edition made it clear that to her, it's cringe-worthy juvenilia; but I enjoyed it all the same.

10. Only Human, by Gareth Roberts (February 9). The Ninth Doctor book in the anniversary set, in which the Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack discover a Neanderthal man wandering around early 21st-century Bromley. I was familiar with Roberts' work from the lovely novelization of Douglas Adams' Shada, and saw a lot of the same humor (and weirdness) at work in this one.

11. Shadows, by Robin McKinley (February 13). In which the already complicated situation of Maggie's widowed mother getting married again is complicated further by the moving shadows Maggie begins to see around the man. Really interesting world building in this one, with an Oldworld where magic is common and a Newworld where it is very strongly frowned upon, and the very appealing narrator dragged me along until I could start to make sense of it all.

12. To Davy Jones Below, by Carola Dunn (February 16). Ninth in the Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher series, Daisy and her beau Alec having gotten married offscreen, between books.  Alec does some excellent detecting on their trans-Atlantic crossing.

13. Faust Eric, by Terry Pratchett (February 17). In which a teenage demonologist attempts to summon a demon to give him three wishes, and gets Rincewind the Wizzard instead. I have to be in the right mood to read Pratchett; this was just the right book for a doctor's waiting room.

14. The Case of the Murdered Muckraker, by Carola Dunn (February 23). Tenth in the Daisy Fletcher series, in which Daisy actually witnesses the murder of a man she had just overheard arguing with a neighbor at the Chelsea Hotel in New York. You can wait a while for the crime in some of these, but not this time: the unpleasant victim is bumped off within the first thirty pages.

15. Stella Bain, by Anita Shreve (February 26). In which an amnesiac nurse and ambulance driver in World War I searches for her missing memories. Read for my ambitiously literary book club; Shreve tends to be our fallback author when we can't decide on a book. Not my usual taste, but I can usually get through them; our last two selections were both ponderous and unreadable to me, so I was glad this one was fast-moving.

Friday, November 21, 2014

What I read this year (January)

Anybody browsing my blog would think that I only look forward to reading, and never actually read anything; it seems like all I post any more is Waiting on Wednesday, and I've missed that the last couple of weeks on account of my arbitrary cutoff of only posting those about books that are coming out in the same calendar year. (Watch this space: I'm already queuing up January releases.)

Since I've run out of anticipatory posts for this year I thought I might switch to a retrospective. Here's what I read in January 2014:
1. Remembrance of the Daleks, by Ben Aaronovitch (finished January 2). This is, of course, a Doctor Who novel, in which the seventh Doctor and Ace return to 1963 London to find two opposing factions of Daleks fighting over a Time Lord device the Doctor had left there six regenerations ago. In honor of the 50th anniversary last year, the BBC reissued a set of eleven novels, one for each Doctor we knew about at the time, and of course being the geek that I am I bought them all...except for the four my husband gave me as a Valentine's Day present, him being the geek that he is. This is the only novelization of a televised serial included in the anniversary set, adapted and expanded by the original scriptwriter, who I already loved for his other work.

2. Rattle His Bones, by Carola Dunn (January 5). Eighth in the Daisy Dalrymple series of cozy historical mysteries, which I always enjoy when I'm in the mood for some fluff. Daisy manages some excellent deduction in this one, when she is first on the scene for a murder at the Museum of Natural History.

3. Fairest, vol. 2: The Hidden Kingdom (January 10). In which Rapunzel follows up a message about her missing children. I didn't make a note of the actual writer of this one, though of course the series creator is the inimitable Bill Willingham. To be honest, the darkness of this particular storyline made me a little reluctant to carry on with the series.

4. The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood, by Susan Wittig Albert (January 12). Third in the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter series of historical mysteries, in which Miss Potter advertises for cats, helps the local children look for fairies, and uncovers a fraud or two. I was interested that there's no murder in this one; it's always nice when mystery writers remember that there are other crimes.

5. Farthing, by Jo Walton (January 15). In which a Scotland Yard inspector investigates a murder at a house party, and the daughter of the house tries to prevent the blame from being fixed on her innocent--but Jewish--husband. Absolutely fascinating semi-historical murder mystery, with very strong overtones of Sayers and Tey, but set in an alternative England that made peace with Hitler in 1941 and is being overcome by a creeping fascism a decade or so later.

6. Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell (January 19). In which college is more complicated than Cath expects. Entertaining, authentic and funny, as I said at the time.

7. Astonishing X-Men, by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday (January 20). In which Cyclops puts together a hand-picked team to be the new faces of the X-Men, and to start acting like superheros. I stopped reading X-Men comics a long time ago, but I mean: written by Joss Whedon and drawn by John Cassaday? Not skipping that one. I'd actually read the first of these two volumes a long time ago, but it was fun to catch up with the rest in spite of what they did to Kitty Pryde.
If I'd kept up that pace I'd be a lot closer to reading 100 books in the calendar year again, even though I didn't sign up for my library's challenge this year.