Books read in the last half of August:
Jim Butcher, Summer Knight. Fourth in this series, definitely a middle book, but with a plot arc of its own. I don't recommend starting this series in the middle, but the middle is worthwhile so far. Harry Dresden grows as a person, and sometimes he screws up royally, and I like how it's all handled. (And I really like Murphy.)
Charles de Lint, Widdershins. I don't know whether to be happy or annoyed about liking this book as much as I did. As many of you know, I've been frustrated with de Lint books lately. They've felt like same-old same-old. This didn't. He begins it talking about how he wanted to write with new characters but people kept asking for Jilly and Geordie's continued story, and frankly I think this is part of what worked for me. It wasn't "yet another de Lint fiddler, yet another de Lint painter" -- it was the same ones from before, doing other things. That was good.
We can go two ways from here: he can write more books I enjoy again. Or he can do more same-old, and I will groan, "Why am I still reading this?" And then I will look at Widdershins and know why: because even when he slips for a book or two, he's still got it. He just has to find it again from time to time. And I can sympathize with that.
Shannon Hale, Princess Academy. I liked the ending of this book in some ways, but I wasn't overwhelmed with it in general. If you're going to subvert tropes, it's best to be careful of what you're replacing them with.
Frederick P. Hitz, The Great Game: the Myth and Reality of Espionage. Okay, people? Can we refer to something besides Kim in a book title about espionage, Central Asia, or empire-building? Thanks so much. Also, on an unrelated note while I'm asking for favors, can we please stop using the suffix "-gate" to indicate anything even mildly scandalous? I don't hold out much hope for this, but maybe once a year for my birthday? ANYway, this was more the kind of book that makes you scribble down the titles of other interesting books to read than the kind of book that's interesting much in itself. Or maybe I am jaded on this subject.
Scott Lynch (scott_lynch), The Lies of Locke Lamora. My favorite line: "My name's Jean Tannen. I'm the ambush." This is not coincidental; Jean was my favorite character. It felt like the parts of this story that most interested me were the ones that this book didn't get to. This is a fixable problem.
John D. MacDonald, The Dreadful Lemon Sky. Yikes, the rule of having color-words in each title is really biting him in the butt by now. Anyway, this was a McGee book like the other McGee books. It didn't make my flesh crawl like some of them. I expect that it will mostly blend in with the rest in my head. If this was a bad thing, I wouldn't continue reading them.
Tim Powers, Three Days to Never. Mossad, Einstein, Charlie Chaplin, time travel, ghosts, everybody sing! Not in the rarefied upper eschelon of Tim Powers books, but worth reading if you like that sort of thing. timprov commented that he hasn't read Powers because I've gone on and on about the Eye Thing in The Last Call, and okay, yes, the Eye Thing freaked me out rather permanently. But this book contained no Eye Thing. Some other nastiness. But no Eye Thing and no real new equivalent -- well, maybe the Throat Thing. Um.
Geoff Ryman, Air. Oh, I really liked this. Middle-Asian peasant futures. I was immediately interested in Mae's life and the SFnal conceit's effects thereon. This is a book that actually does what people theorize SF does. I have a couple more Rymans on my pile, and I'm glad.
Rex Stout, And Be a Villain and Too Many Women. Nero Wolfe is -- surprise! -- Nero Wolfe. He has hit a stride here, I think, and has not run into too many weird time dilation effects yet.
Jack Turner, Spice: the History of a Temptation. Mostly about European cultures' use of spices. Not as juicy and specific as I would like, interesting in spots and quite wrong in a few details.
Jo Walton (papersky), Farthing. There are two reasons to say, "Oh, no, no," at the end of a book. One is because the author has done something unpleasant to the story to make it go the way she wanted it to, and ruined the rest thereby. The other is because the world -- the one we live in, I mean -- is wrong, and the only right ending possible, the only one true to the story, makes you want to put your head down and howl, and the author has not flinched away from that right ending. This was the latter. I was quiet inside for days after reading this book. I was already convinced I would want to read whatever Jo wanted to write after her reading at Minicon in '04. This book made that conviction stronger.
Kate Wilhelm, The Price of Silence. For once, the character relationships didn't grab me. Since that's why I read Kate Wilhelm, this was a problem. But Kate Wilhelm -- like Charles de Lint -- has enough of a track record with me that I will still go read her next one. If you're not a Kate Wilhelm completist, though, you can probably skip it.
I'm also a little ways into a big thumpy brick called The Deceivers: Allied Military Deception in the Second World War. It's not at all comfortable to read, physically I mean, so it'll take me awhile. I was caught up on periodicals for a day, and then I got two more in the mail. Magazine subscriptions: the to-do list that refreshes itself.