Renee Babcock (renegade500) wrote,
Renee Babcock
renegade500

2013, Books 1-19

For the first 4 months of the year, I have managed to read 19 books. It's a slower pace than I normally set, but given all the chaos at the beginning of the year surrounding moving into a new (to me) house, I'm pretty happy I'm on target at least to read around 50 books. It's been a mixed bag so far, some books I loved, some I absolutely hated.

1. Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear. Continuing adventures of Maisie Dobbs, private investigator in 1930s London. These are very much comfort reads for me.

2. World's End by Mark Chadbourne. Celtic mythology comes alive in a very destructive way, and it's up to some special folks to save us all. I tried so hard to like this book, I really did. But I just hated it. I didn't care about the characters, I found them all too damned Mary Sue for my taste, and I finally just stopped reading it about 20 pages from the end, because I just didn't care and didn't feel like wasting my time on those last 20 pages. But I will say, the cover is one of my most favorite John Picacio pieces.

3. Flatland by Edwin Abbott. Had to read it for book club. Very meh about it. I enjoyed the mathematical aspect of it, but I had to keep reminding myself that the author was a Victorian gentleman, because the attitudes toward women bugged the hell out of me.

4. Jasmine Nights by Julia Gregson. A nice romantic historical. I liked this enough to be interested in reading other books by this author.

5. The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett. This book I liked very much, although the ending went on just a smidge too long, and I was able to foresee one of the big twists about halfway through the book. It's in the flavor of The Night Circus, about a vaudeville troupe who aren't what they seem on the surface, and a young man who joins the troupe, only to become the catalyst to some world-changing events.

6. The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin. This is the second book of her's I've read and like the first one, I thought this book was absolutely terrific. Her fantasy is informed by non-Western mythologies, and she's a terrific young writer. Her characters are flawed but interesting people who find themselves in situations few of us would want to be in. I recommend reading her books.

7. Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July/August 2011. I count this as a book, because the double edition was about 250 pages long, and I read it all. I don't read nearly enough short fiction these days, and I have a ton of old F/SF and Asimov's that I've never read.

8. Empire State. I picked this up in Toronto last November. It took me a while to get into this book, but I very much enjoyed it, and it kept me guessing. Takes place in two versions of New York in the 1930s, one our NY, one in a parallel pocket universe. And when the doubles all come together, mayhem ensues. I recently found the follow on to this novel, and I bought it because I so enjoyed Empire State. It's a first novel, and there were some issues for me with pacing, but the author did a great job with setting, and I do love New York.

9. Seraphina by Rachel Hartmann. YA novel that I got as a freebie in my book bag at the Toronto World Fantasy. A young court musician is trying very hard to hide a secret that could jeopardize her and her family, while the world around her falls into chaos as the anniversary of peace between humans and a kind of shape-shifting dragons is about to be celebrated in the court. Only, there is a small, but violent faction who would rather see the two sides at war. This was a terrific novel, and I know it's been getting a log of buzz. Worth seeking out.

10. Elfland by Frieda Warrington. Her first US novel, and I'd heard lots of buzz about it, but I was very much meh about it. Got it as a freebie in Toronto. There are elves who live among us, and in some cases, they are completely closed off from going back to Elfland, because of the dangers on the other side.

11. The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett. I read her collection Ship Fever years ago and absolutely loved it. And I really enjoyed this novel. It was a hard read, because it doesn't go well for so many of the characters, but it's obvious Barrett did a lot of thorough research. The Narwhal was a sip sailing out of Philadelphia into the Arctic. We're not sure if it's really meant to be a search/recovery for a missing expedition, or if there are other agendas at work. The story also focuses on the lives of the women left behind as the men go off. This novel is based on an actual expedition to the Arctic Circle, and it's at times pretty hard reading (especially since the commander of the expedition is a world class asshole). Barrett is one of those writers I think I'll be reading more of in the future.

12. The Autumn of the Patriarch, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The unthinkable happened. A Marquez novel I despised. I hated it so much I finally just stopped reading it, because I thought it was a post-modern piece of tripe with little redeeming value.

13. The Bird of the River, by Kage Baker. The last fantasy she finished before her death. Set in the same world as Anvil of the Stars. I love this world, and I can't help but think if she had lived longer, she'd have (hopefully) given us more stories in this world.

14. Mother Aegypt and Other Stories by Kage Baker. Short story collection, many of the stories in the same world as The Bird of the River. She was such a story teller. Do yourself a favor, and go buy her books.

15. Portable Childhoods, by Ellen Klages. Another writer who is a fine story teller. A collection of short stories about magical childhoods. This was nominated for a World Fantasy Award for Best Collection. I wish I could read more of these stories, I think Ellen is one of those story tellers, like Baker, who can just so easily suck me in and make me not want to leave.

16. The Alchmyst. YA, fantasy. Every now and then I see something getting a lot of buzz and I need to see for myself if it's worth it. This book drove me crazy, and I really didn't like it that much. It had potential, but needed some editing. For one thing, it just wasn't necessary to call the main character by his first name almost every time in the book he is mentioned. That drove me to distraction. It's another Mary Sue/Gary Stu kind of story with magical teenagers (twins) pre-destined to be the key to saving the world from the evil that wants to take it over. I will say the very ending of the story presented a situation that I thought had some good possibility, and maybe the writing gets better, but I don't know if I want to bother.

17. A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell. Oh, this book was hard to read. Beautifully written, well-researched, and absolutely worth reading. But extremely hard to read. Historical fiction set in North Italy during the Nazi occupation, and focuses a lot on the Italian resistance, especially the creation of a kind of underground railroad to move Jews through to safety in Southern Italy. It was so hard at the end finding out so few of the people you spent time getting to know and care for didn't make it. Just like how WWII really was.

18. The Siren Depths by Martha Wells. Her third Raksura novel, where we discover Moon's past. I loved this book, as I did the other two in the series. I'm not sure that there will be other books to come, but I wish there were.

19. Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine 30th Anniversary Anthology. As the title suggests, an anthology of stories drawn from the 30 years (at the time of the publication of the book) of Asimov's. On the whole, an excellent set of stories.
Tags: 50 book challenge
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