Books read in early January:
Elizabeth Bear (matociquala), Carnival. It took me awhile to get into this one, but then it clicked along all actiony-like, some of the best stuff to read while working out since I finished the Modesty Blaise books.
Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Catalyst. I expected this book to be a great deal more indecent than it was, from the reviews I'd been hearing. I thought the sex was contextually appropriate and quite reasonable, not a role model book in that direction but plenty clear on that point. More YAs should be like this. I recognize that this may make me a perv and a bad influence to the young.
Arnaldur Indridason, Jar City. Icelandic crime novel. Yum. I want the next one in the series. I'm not sure it's good for the grim sense of humor to be fed with this kind of book, but I'm still going to get the next one. And the lovely thing about Scandinavian crime novels is that the grimness makes sense. It's not like in things like Sigrid Undset's books, or God forbid A Stranger Came to the Farm, where the dour and depressing ending could be something like "and then she married her love, oh wailie woe alack."
Gwyneth Jones, Band of Gypsys. The fourth in this series. I was going to wait until I had the fifth in my grubby little hands, but I couldn't wait that long. This is one of those books where I honestly can't tell you how good it is because it presses enough of my specific buttons to bypass that sort of thing.
Stephan Koja, Nordic Dawn: Modernism's Awakening in Finland, 1890-1920. This was a big book full of pictures. It was early Modernism, mostly, and painters, mostly. It turns out I already know a fair amount about early Finnish Modernist painters. More or less by osmosis, I guess.
Michael Korda, Journey to a Revolution: A Personal Memoir and History of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. I was disappointed in this book. I think that Michael Korda thinks a great deal more of himself than I think of him. I didn't think the memoir ended up being all that informative about the '56 revolution, and the history parts were pretty basic, too -- where they were correct. Basing analysis on Hungary and West Germany sharing a border: just plain wrong.
James A. Owen (coppervale), Here, There Be Dragons. This book could so easily have been precious. The premise was one of those that intrigued but also frightened me: the Inklings as young men, dealing with a magical world that touches ours? Umm. And what if there was too much Charles Williams? In fact, before reading this book, I suspected that any Charles Williams might be too much Charles Williams. Certainly that was my previous experience. But in fact there was a quite tolerable amount of Charles Williams, and I'm eager to get the next book.
Jennifer Stevenson, Trash Sex Magic. Saddening some of you, I am not madly in love with this book. I liked it. I did not madly love it. It did not complete me. I do not desire to bear its young. Worth reading, though.
Rex Stout, A Right to Die, Gambit, and The Mother Hunt. More Nero Wolfe. Showing his dangerous radical tendencies to treat black people and women like human beings, from an authorial standpoint. (The characters' views, of course, are another story.) I think that one of the things I'm noticing as I plow through this series is that only Archie and Nero are allowed to patronize other people. Or perhaps more broadly, people are only allowed to be patronizing on the grounds of ability, never on the grounds of birth, whether that birth refers to family position or money or to gender or racial/ethnic background. Someone who has read all of them may be able to provide counterexamples to this trend, but it looks to me like anyone else who gets uppity, other than the constantly uppity narrator and his boss, gets their commupance.
Cecilia Wideheim, Utopia and Reality: Modernity in Sweden 1900-1960. This is a very different view of Modernism than one that covers the years from 1890 to 1920, so that part was interesting by proximity. And this book covered more than painting -- sculpture, architecture, film, design. Good stuff to have around, but no moments of epiphany for fiction work. That's all right; one invites but can't plan those.