Ian Dunlop, Louis XIV. Probably the first of a number of late French monarchy books from the library. This one was disappointing: no footnotes, no endnotes, so it didn't function very well as a scholarly work. But also Dunlop had the habit of assuming that you would have an infinite number of minor French nobles and artists of the time readily in your mind, and would have a good general grasp of who had gone off and produced which children. I have already made three connections in the first five pages of a different book that were opaque and important from the Dunlop. So.
Michael Ffinch, Gilbert and Sullivan. Another bit of research reading for an upcoming project, and this one was...boring. Ffinch clearly has a great deal of fondness for Gilbert and Sullivan, but you know the guy at a party who has read something recently and found it just smashing, and he tries to convey to you that you should read it by summarizing the plot in minute detail? And then if you ever actually read it, you find that he left out some of the best bits and cut off the things he was trying to quote just before they would have become funny? Yah. Like that. The major fight that nearly broke up G&S for good: boring. Family turmoil: boring. Personal bereavement: boring. That is a writerly gift, my dears, to be able to make the interesting that boring.
Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. This book suffered from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" Syndrome for me: all the best bits had already been quoted out to me. I still laughed heartily at one bit I hadn't heard before, but mostly I liked the kinds of ideas better as part of Dark Lord of Derkholm, where there were characters and a plot and stuff.
Gwyneth Jones, Midnight Lamp. This series pushes several buttons of mine. They are good buttons. I am saving the next volume for a little while longer, at least, but I am eager to see What Next.
Ellen Klages, The Green Glass Sea. I bought this book because I had quite unexpectedly loved her story in Firebirds Rising -- the premise had looked like not my sort of thing, exactly, more my friends' sort of thing, but then it was my sort of thing, with a vengeance. This premise looked like my sort of thing: girls growing up at Los Alamos during WWII. And I liked it, I liked Dewey and Suze and their parents, and I liked the way they made things; that tribal affinity was strong for me. But I wanted to love this book, and instead I liked it, and I can't really tell you why. Klages didn't pull punches, so it's not that. I would theorize that I have a hard time really emotionally connecting with what is essentially a mainstream YA plot, but past evidence doesn't demonstrate that to be the case. I don't know what my deal was here. I still think it's worth reading, for those of you interested in historical/mainstream YAs.
Hmm. I'm still thinking here. I think the setting and the character arcs only felt peripherally connected to me. This may not be fair.
Richard D. Lewis, Finland: Cultural Lone Wolf. This book was just as precious as you might expect from the title. Some of it was hideously sexist, some of it nationalist-essentialist enough to make me cringe and wibble. Also, and more to the point, it lacked pithy anecdotes I had not run across before. A Finnophile's lot is not a happy one, not least because "Finnophile" doesn't scan in that line.
Megan Lindholm, Wolf's Brother. I don't entirely like what Lindholm is doing with the Saami here, but maybe she wouldn't entirely like what I do with them, either; hard to say. I did like some of the characters. But if this was the middle book in its series instead of the last, I'd have to think hard about whether I wanted to return to them. On the other hand, I'm not feeling less eager to read the other Lindholm on my pile.
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye. This is my least favorite Morrison so far. I just didn't feel it was as well-constructed as Sula or Beloved.
John Scalzi (scalzi), The Ghost Brigades. I picked this up because I was in the mood for some Scalzi. I'd only read one of his books at that point, so I'm not sure where the concept that I knew what a Scalzi novel in general was like came from. But apparently I was not wholly wrong, because this was exactly what I was looking for when I got it. If you liked Old Man's War, you'll probably like this, too, and for similar reasons. Now I'm curious to see whether the other two feel the same in my head or whether the series nature of the two I've already read gave me a false sense of knowing what the hell I was talking about.
Rex Stout, Champagne for One and Three for the Chair. More Nero Wolfe. Champagne for One was notable to me in its extremely liberal attitude towards unwed motherhood, considering the publication date in the late 1950s. Stout and his characters acknowledged that there would be social drawbacks to bearing a child out of wedlock, but none of the sympathetic characters seemed to think that there was any moral stigma or even any real culpable carelessness involved. Just mostly bad luck for pretty good kids. I found that interesting given the publication date.