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.

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