Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What I read this year (December)

I've been keeping a book diary since mid-1998, and in all that time I have never finished a book on December 6. Not this year either.

59. American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare; The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee, by Karen Abbott (finished December 1). In which we follow the development of burlesque as a theatrical form, with special attention to the contributions of the Minsky brothers, and also the life and career of Rose Louise Hovick, better known as Gypsy Rose Lee. I knew the basic outline of the story from the musical Gypsy, based on her memoir--I first saw the TV version with Bette Midler as Mama Rose, who is such a larger than life character that she generally completely overshadows whoever's unfortunate enough to be playing Gypsy. Turns out she was toned down a lot from real life.

60. The Affinity Bridge, by George Mann (December 11). In which Sir Maurice Newbury, investigator for the Crown, and his new assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes, are assigned by Queen Victoria to look into the crash of an airship on which, it turns out, all the passengers were tied to their seats. Revenants and automata are also involved: great fun.

61. Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans, by Gary Krist (December 15). In which the author pulls together the birth of jazz, the short but colorful existence of the semi-legal vice district of Storyville, and the still-unsolved murders committed by the Axman. Fascinating, especially the parts about jazz.

62. Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, by Stephanie Barron (December 21). In which Jane Austen, visiting friends at Christmas, gets involved in solving the murder of a naval courier and the theft of the treaty he was carrying. I love these mysteries, and I still think they capture the spirit of Jane Austen's own novels a good deal better than 98% of the unofficial sequels that keep coming out. 

63. The King's Deryni, by Katherine Kurtz (December 29). In which Alaric Morgan manages to avoid all the pitfalls inherent in being publicly known as a member of a feared and oppressed race of sorcerers, and grows up enough to be useful to his king. I've been waiting a long, long time for this one, and there's no way it could ever have been good enough to support the weight of expectation, but I enjoyed it well enough.

64. Astro City: Through Open Doors, by Kurt Busiek (December 30). In which we continue to explore what the existence of superheros might mean for the rest of us. I'm a big fan of Astro City, and glad to see it returning.

And that's it for this year! Shelfari says I read five more books than this, but I think those are probably graphic novels that I skipped over in my book journal, so I'll stop here.

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