|Books read, late October
||[Nov. 1st, 2010|02:34 pm]
Elizabeth Bear (matociquala), Chill. Baby mammoth in a generation ship! Okay, so sometimes I'm a bit shallow. Families and betrayal and Zelazny! In! Space! and what do I latch onto? Baby mammoth! Baaaaaby mammoth! I mean, not that I don't like families and betrayals and swords and turning around the face-in portraits and like that. But.
Elizabeth Bear (still matociquala), The Sea Thy Mistress. Discussed elsewhere.
Lois McMaster Bujold, Cryoburn. Finally finally the new Miles book, and while it won't be my favorite in the series, I don't think, it was a reasonably fun one, and I have hopes that it's the one she needed to write to move forward in all sorts of interesting directions. Also, while I am trying to avoid major series-level spoilers, the major series-level spoilers I am trying to avoid are not the ones I thought I would be trying to avoid. If that makes sense. You should feel free to e-mail me if you want to know what I thought was going to happen at the end of this book instead of what did happen at the end of this book; I'm glad to discuss it. It's just that this is a new enough one that I don't want to mess up this particular experience for readers for whom it's important. (And note: my e-mail is on my lj info page. So is timprov's. Several people have written to me this year to ask for his e-mail. It's right there on his user info page.)
Bruce Catton, The Army of the Potomac: A Stillness at Appomattox. Grandpa's. The culmination of the three-volume history of the Army of the Potomac (and, more to the point, its generals' interactions with it). Satisfyingly doing what it was doing. I'm not sure I would have sought this out on my own, but having it from Grandpa was definitely good for my knowledge base, and it was a fast, smooth read. There are some ways in which it's dated, but that's to be expected from its age. The assumption that "men" means "white men" is one of them, but it goes into some detail about the treatment of "colored" and former slave troops and what assumptions they had about themselves and what assumptions white Union and Confederate soldiers had about them. There are almost certainly more interesting and more detailed accounts of that in more recent literature, but for its time it was probably pretty sensitively handled.
Helen Cresswell, Ordinary Jack. Reread of the first volume of an old favorite series, the Bagthorpe series. British children's books that are funny in a way that's--well, it's easy to read out one or two bits that are funny, but it's mostly not that they're funny in bits, it's that they're funny cumulatively. It's about a family. It has less Grandpa than I remembered. I'll have to keep going in the series. There's more of Jack and Grandpa later. I had been simultaneously wanting to read it and shying away from reading it for, oh, year and a half now. Because of Jack and Grandpa.
Cory Doctorow, Makers. Discussed elsewhere.
Harry Eckstein, Division and Cohesion in Democracy: A Study of Norway. This was published in 1960, and the author was trying to make sense of Norwegian politics apparently without reference to climate/weather, geography, or history before about 1800. So that worked out about as well as you'd expect. He spent a great deal of the time very, very confused. "Somehow" was one of his favorite words. The discussion of Khrushchev's visit to Norway was particularly amusing, though, and while he didn't entirely understand how avoidance as a social mechanism worked in Norway, he saw that it worked at least somewhat. So that was interesting in its limited way.
C. C. Finlay (ccfinlay), A Spell for the Revolution. The middle book in a fantasy trilogy set during the American Revolution. There were some cool elements here--evil scarecrows that did not make me roll my eyes!--but I felt like the main character, Proctor, was walking a fine line between maintaining a certain degree of innocence as a character trait and failing to learn from his experience. There were a couple of assumptions he made that made me tear my hair and gnash my teeth. On the other hand, I was invested enough in the book to be tearing my hair and gnashing my teeth and shouting, "Look behind you! LOOK BEHIND YOU!" rather than putting it down and walking away. Well. Only metaphorically shouting. Much to the relief of the other people on the plane, I'm sure.
Jeff Lindsay, Dexter By Design. I got this book because my cousin Sandi picked it up as airport reading and bounced off it hard; I hadn't seen Sandi in years and could have told her it would not be her sort of thing, but I don't think she was familiar with the TV show Dexter, which is based on this series of books. Anyway, I was curious about how the narrative voice affected the conceit, and also I knew I could find a good home for it when I was done, so I brought it home with me when Sandi said she certainly wasn't taking it home with her. I think this book may be unique in the history of literature in that somebody wished he got to go in disguise as a Presbyterian pastor for the improvement in sartorial elegance. I'm not going to become a big Dexter fan, I don't think; while I found the written voice less eye-rolling than the TV actor, it's not particularly my thing.
David Liss, A Conspiracy of Paper. What is my thing? Historical finance mysteries set in 1719 London with Jewish ex-boxer main characters, apparently. I liked this a lot and will be looking for the sequel. The setting was a period that's underused, in a type of approach that's underused, and it was witty and funny and fun. Definitely looking for more.
Daniel Okrent, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. Oh, Prohibition. Oh, temperance movement. Oh, late 19th and early 20th century American politics. Uff da. This is the kind of book that had me reading bits of it out to whoever was around to hear, sometimes groaning loudly before I could manage to do so. There were so very many threads of American politics tangled up in Prohibition, legalization, and the temperance movement. Suffrage, racism, immigration, income tax, it's all here. I think one of my favorite bits was finding out that Carry Nation published her editorials to show the world she wasn't crazy. That worked...about as well as you'd think, really. Oh, the self-awareness fairy, such a rare visitor.
Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight. Latest Tiffany Aching book. The very end of it was, I felt, a little weaker than some of the other Tiffany Aching stuff, but it had some truly lovely bits. I am very fond of the Tiffany Aching books, and this is still a cut above a lot of Discworld. It's just that Wintersmith is a very tough act to follow for me, given that it more or less says on the cover "Dear mrissa here is your book love Pterry who has never met you for more than five seconds but whatever still it's your book." Some books are like that. Not all of them can be.
Scott Westerfeld, Behemoth. Sequel to his previous YA steampunk WWI thing. Still a beautiful physical object. Still kind of fun with the engineered beasts vs. the mechanical objects. Still not much more than "kind of fun" for me.