Striking thing about the last fortnight: I bounced off zero books. Zero. That basically never happens. I think in part it was that I read somewhat fewer library books going into a week of travel–I don’t like to travel with library books, it makes me nervous–and so it was a higher percentage of stuff I was pretty sure I wanted in the first place. But even so I often bounced off things on my Kindle when traveling these days. Who knows.
Ann Aguirre, Grimspace. If you’re looking for something incredibly fast-paced, this is it. I read it on an airplane, so I didn’t really have any reason to come up for air, and neither did the characters, so things! and then more things! thingsthingsthingswheeeeezoooom! I tend to prefer a bit more introspection, but this kind of pacing is a rare skill and should be appreciated in its context. Also it had aliens I wanted to know more about, which is also not as common as I would like in the current market.
Joan Aiken, Bridle the Wind. Kindle. Another early 19th century swashbuckling Spanish thing. One of the central plot twists was obvious to the meanest intellect, I mean seriously, seriously, if you have ever read a book before, you will see this one in neon letters. Nor is it the most deftly I have ever seen this trope handled. However, there is still swashing and buckling, on which I am mightily short in my life, and so I will still read the conclusion to the trilogy.
Steven Brust and Skyler White, The Incrementalists. Discussed elsewhere.
Nina Burleigh, Mirage: Napoleon’s Scientists and the Unveiling of Egypt. Indifferently written and almost completely not about Egyptians. While the naturalists and proto-archaeologists of the Napoleonic era are moderately interesting, this set was actually less colorful than the period average (which is admittedly quite colorful). Only recommended to those who are particularly interested in the topic.
Ally Carter, United We Spy. Last in her YA spy series. Frothy fun.
John M. Ford, TimesSteps+. I have no idea where this came from. It’s a set of Mike’s poems, and it’s so lovely. I have several of them in other formats, but I’m still glad to have this one. The last poem in the volume is the sort of thing that makes you catch your breath, but Mike left us all sorts of things for after his death, so…this is one of them. Yes.
David Quammen, Spillover. About zoonosis and epidemics. The sort of thing I find comforting and cheerful while I’m finishing a book. Informative, colorfully written, recommended to those who have a strong stomach for plagues and their symptoms. (Since I have just written the line, “‘We don’t know, but it’s hemorrhagic,’ he said grimly,” I am firmly in this camp.)
Graham Robb, The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography. Highly recommended. Much detail on the development of French language, culture, and national sense. Many maps of great utility. (The one of “percent of parish given saint names,” for example, was illuminating.) Much anecdote and also data.
Greg Rucka, Walking Dead. Not about zombies. It’s a metaphor, kids. Seriously, it’s the last Atticus Kodiak book, and I’ve watched Greg Rucka end a series before. He must be one of those people who have an easy time getting little children convinced that the horsey rides are at an end for the afternoon. Aaaaanyway. I do not recommend this unless you’ve read the rest of the series, but it is no less fun than the others and a great deal more fun than, for example, Shooting at Midnight, my land.
Mark S. Weiner, The Rule of the Clan: What an Ancient Form of Social Organization Reveals About the Future of Individual Freedom. Answer to the subtitle: bugger all. Or if it does, this is not the man to reveal it to you. He has started with a premise, and all evidence will by God fit it. I spotted holes in this when it came to medieval Iceland, which makes me suspicious of the places where I know less. Political scientists: can’t live with ‘em, and you have to use their tricks in order to be allowed to dispose of them.
Django Wexler, The Thousand Names. Colonialism fantasy. Not of the fluffy sky-colored colonialist fantasy, either. Obvious tropes recognized as obvious up-front and not kept horribly secret; much better than the Aiken in that regard. Bureaucracy and its paperwork join violence in portrayal of a colonialist army. And also there’s rather nasty magic at work. I am glad to have this series.
P. G. Wodehouse, A Wodehouse Miscellany. Kindle. Essays, poetry, short stories. Wodehouse. You’ve probably heard of him. He’s rather funny on, for example, librettists and their woes. Also it’s a very fast read.