I didn't get around to posting books-read at the end of June, so I'm just doing it now with books from mid-June until the present moment, and I'll do now through the end of July later.
Christianna Brand, The Spotted Cat and Other Mysteries from Inspector Cockrill's Casebook. We picked this up for markgritter's mom only to find that she already had a copy, so we kept it and bought her something different for her birthday. It was...fine-ish, I guess. It had many of the same problems I find with mystery short stories elsewhere: either the build-up is unsatisfying or the resolution is. This is not, of course, universal, but it seems to happen a lot. Rex Stout's novellas seem to be long enough for the way he structures a mystery, but much shorter than that and I mostly wind up disappointed. Still, I wouldn't be averse to trying Brand at novel length and seeing how it goes.
C.J. Cherryh, Deliverer. I love the atevi books. I had fun with this one. It does not, however -- is this just me? -- feel like the last book in this series. It feels from here as though she could do another trilogy, although twelve books would be even and therefore infelicitous in context. Oh dear. So maybe another two trilogies? Mathy aliens do tend to complicate things.
Kate Elliott, Jaran. It was not fair to read Deliverer right after this one, but I did anyway. I wanted to like this book. I really did. But first, the author seemed a great deal more interested in the romantic relationship where I was a great deal more interested in the aliens, and second, the romantic relationship itself read to me as though her writing group had dared her to see how many romance clichés she could string together into one relationship. When the main characters Had To Take Shelter From A Storm Alone Together And Huddle For Warmth, I'm surprised you didn't all hear my howls. So no more Jaran books for me. I like relationship-centered fiction, but not as a string of set pieces so much.
Eugene Fodor, Lawrence R. Devlin, and Frederic R.G. Sanborn (editors), Scandinavia in 1952 with Finland and the Olympic Games. Head eaten. Do you know what I did after I read this? I went and wrote a synopsis for a book to write later. I wrote a synopsis when I didn't absolutely have to. Yikes. (This one's staying pretty close to hand. Just in case.)
C.S. Friedman, This Alien Shore. I had fun with the different mutations and all that, but the middle sagged, and the ending was a little weird. But as I said, fun, and I would go read another of Friedman's if I was in the mood for a big fat SF novel. An interesting one to read in proximity to Blindsight; much lighter and bubblier and less well-structured. ksumnersmith recommended this to me at least four years ago, because it was when we lived in California, so if you recommended something to me and I didn't get to it right away, it's not you, really.
Mary Gentle, Ilario: the Lion's Eye. It is not nice to thief people's birthday presents before they have a chance to read them. But I did. This is an Ash-universe book, but smaller and more intimate than the Ash books, and it's divided into volumes for the American audience so I don't actually know how the story ends yet. Sigh. They know marketing better than I do, I hope.
David Marusek, Getting to Know You. This was a random library find that made up for other random library finds I had to discard in disgust. I fell into several of the stories whole-heartedly, and I bumped his novel up my priority queue because of it. Immersive sort of prose, I thought. Good good.
Ian McDonald, Brasyl. For the first half of this book, I kept thinking, "This just isn't as good as his other stuff." Then we got to the middle and it sort of fell together with a crash, and then I remembered that River of Gods had done exactly the same thing. Still not my favorite McDonald book -- I still like King of Morning, Queen of Day best of the ones I've read so far -- but worth the time, definitely. The jacket copy seemed to be leaning heavily on the fact that it was a setting outside North America or Europe, and that's fun, but I don't think it would be enough to carry a book. Luckily, it's not all that's here, either.
Charles Sheffield, Space Suits. Now this was a disappointment. I really, really liked Georgia on My Mind and Other Places, and so I was prepared to like another collection of Charles Sheffield short stories. But this was...how do I put this nicely...the eeeevil side of Charles Sheffield's short fiction. It was [cue ominous tones] Humorous SF. [/ominous tones] I like humorous SF. It's Humorous SF I have trouble with. Humorous SF seems to rely heavily on shaggy dog stories, "silly" names like Norbert, and rather juvenile scenarios: Look! It's a fat man waist-deep in sewage! Hahahaha! This is one of those things like "famous" and "attractive": people who are funny do not have to tell you they're funny. They just are. This wasn't. It was, however, short.
Mark Urban, The Man Who Broke Napoleon's Codes. When I was reading this, I mentioned it in e-mail by saying, "It's about the...um, man...who, um...yah." And it was, sort of, except not quite enough: there wasn't enough biography of a very interesting figure, too much general Napoleonic Wars stuff. Also in some ways not enough general Napoleonic Wars stuff: the author was assuming a very weird set of knowledge and ignorance. He footnoted "hauteur" and similar words for definition (???) but assumed a certain degree of knowledge about the progress of the French political/military situation at the time that is not at all universal. Also, the author bio said that he had worked in TV journalism, and it became very apparent in the transitions between sections: they were not very good. At all. But all that aside, there was a whole bunch of material about early code-breaking and the sort of people who were called upon to do it, and if the subject matter interests you, it's definitely worth a few of the book's little weirdnesses.
Peter Watts, Blindsight. Did I enjoy this book? I don't think so, no. It was incredibly well-done, and I'm very glad I read it; I think it was leaps and bounds above Starfish, and I think it's a very important book for people who are interested in working in SF to read. But enjoy, no, enjoy is not really the verb here. It smelled like the shape its alien ship was. (Yes, look, we've found the synaesthetic reading reaction for this time period. Surprise, surprise.)