Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen
mrissa

Books read, late March

Every time I get an e-mail advertising a certain drug, with a misspelling to get through my spam filters, I think, "No, you idiots, that's spelled Kahless."

That is my genuine bit of actual-mistake foolery for the day. I don't much care for the "I have cancer, ha ha just kidding" version of April Fool jokes, so I hope I don't run into too many of those today. I will try not to be cranky, but "HA, you had sympathy for a fellow human being, how funny!" is not really my thing, mostly.

Books read, late March:

Sir Dunbar Plunkett Barton, The Amazing Career of Bernadotte, 1763 to 1844. This is an unedited reprint of a 1929 British biography. For those of you who are not up on either Napoleonic France or Swedish history, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte was one of Napoleon's generals, and he was invited to become king of Sweden, Charles XIV (Karl Johan). Hagiolatry was a good deal more acceptable in early 20th century biography, apparently, because this was definitely a pro-Bernadotte tract. Which is fine: some of the anti-Bernadotte stuff needed countering at the time, apparently. Mostly this was for personal interest, but there was yet another piece of the Finnish secret history puzzle that got stuck in my notes for later use.

Jim Butcher, Proven Guilty. This is definitely into the part of this series where you really should start at the beginning, or at least earlier than here. Some series are meant to be stand-alones, episodic. This isn't one of them. I liked a lot of what he was doing with the larger plot arc, closing off some avenues and opening some new ones in about the right proportions. Will be interested to see the next. (Have not been watching the TV show, though.)

Gwyneth Jones, Divine Endurance. I bought this to serve as methadone once I finished the series that starts with Bold as Love, and...it doesn't, really. The post-apocalyptic part of that series is not what pushes my buttons, and that's the part it shared with Divine Endurance. It was otherwise a fine enough short post-apocalyptic novel. Just...sigh. That other series is over. It ended well. I need to move on.

Megan Lindholm, Harpy's Flight. Like many of Lindholm/Hobb's books, this had some prose clunkers, and the structure was transparently hooky ("Look! Now I will catch your attention with the dramatic opening scene! Look! Now I will flashback!"). And as with many of her books, I found I still cared what happened next and how. Some of the writergeeks on my friendslist talk a lot about books they wanted to like and just couldn't. This was a book I didn't really want to like, after the first three chapters, but it won me over anyway.

Virginia Nicholson, Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900-1939. This is about a very specific subset of the early-20th century British bohemian community. I use the lowercase on the term "bohemian" because Nicholson sometimes veered too much into treating Bohemia as a strictly notional place, which it...um...isn't. Sure, I can see the temptation -- these people call themselves Bohemians, or are called Bohemians, so their milieu must be Bohemia. Except that we already have one of those, so some of the sentences ended up pretty droll. This book treated its subject matter in sub-topics rather than chronologically, which made sense except when it didn't: forty years in a period with one major war, leading up to another, not to mention a whole lot of technological change, is a long time. It's an especially long time for a social experiment or set of social experiments, and treating it mostly as a single thing didn't always help. But there were interesting tidbits and some hilarious ones. It was just another volume of nonfiction that made me want to read more on the subject rather than feeling I had a good handle on it when I finished.

Rex Stout, Double for Death. This is a Tecumseh Fox mystery. I didn't much care about Tecumseh Fox. Maybe if there was a whole long string of them and people assured me they were worth reading later, I'd have incentive to get into them. But there are only a few, and I just couldn't interest myself in Fox or any of the other characters. The mystery was fine but not particularly compelling. That other series is over. I need to move on.

Sarah Zettel, Fool's War. Reread. When this first came out, it bowled me over, and I wanted to see if it still would. And the answer is, not so much. I still like it. I still thought it was worth reading. But I am a more jaded reader, much harder to wow, and the plot hinges on a surprise element that turned out to be more important to my superlative enjoyment of the book than I expected it to be. This is going to be an interesting example for the sell-by date panel, though, because Zettel's timing on writing about Muslims in space and the future history involved therewith was pretty impeccable, in my opinion. She handled it well, I say from some rather major hindsight.
Tags: bookses precious
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