Sarah Monette (truepenny), Corambis. This, on the other hand, I read because I wanted to see how it came out, not because I spell anal-retentive with the hyphen in. So many things I like in this book. Trains! It's a fantasy novel with trains! They are not irrelevant trains! People are continuing to try to figure things out, old things and new things both! Magical machines! Bookshops that fit their time and place! Am very pleased with how it all came out. (It all came out with trains! How could I not be pleased?)
Elizabeth Moon, Hunting Party and Sporting Chance. I don't usually like to start talking about books in terms of the physical object. And I'm definitely glad that Baen makes omnibuses available so that one can get the whole story without having to be on hand when the earlier volumes come out. But look: there is a point at which the omnibus is no longer physically comfortable, and this? This is past that point. It is over a thousand pages of tall trade paperback. It took me forever to read Sporting Chance in part because it's just not very physically comfortable for me to hold the book to read; I will read the last of the trilogy pretty soon just to get the book out of my hands. The Auden I read last fortnight was more comfortable than this, and it's a thumping great Complete Works Of sort of thing. Also, the tag line on the front looks like it was selected by someone who hated the book and wished they weren't publishing it: "Space Opera is back, and Elizabeth Moon writes it!" This is what we in Minnesota use as the enthusiastic neutral: "This is very flavorful!" you say in a bright, cheerful voice, carefully avoiding the specification that the flavor it tastes strongly of is rancid goat's milk, or, "Gosh, your house is certainly pink!" "This certainly is space opera!" says the jacket copy. "We won't swear that it's any good, but it's definitely well within its sub-genre! Boy howdy!"
None of this is the fault of either book; both books deserve better. One of the things I think Moon does very well is people who are part of families growing beyond their previous roles within those families and finding new ways, seeing new dimensions in family members they had previously taken for granted. There was a very sympathetic older character injured in Sporting Chance, and I had some difficulty getting through that with family stuff this year, but that doesn't mean anything bad about the book, just the place where I am right now.
Also, I try not to draw personal conclusions about authors based on their books, but I am beginning to suspect that Ms. Moon does not think so highly of pastels. (Is okay. Neither do I.)
Pearl North, Libyrinth. Discussed elsewhere.
Tamora Pierce, Beka Cooper: Bloodhound. It took me a bit to really get into this one, and I thought the pacing was a bit slow, but on the other hand, it reversed several of the trends I was thinking I was seeing for the worse in Pierce's books, so that made me happy. I'll be interested to see where this goes: it's listed as a trilogy, but police procedurals can go on for quite a few volumes if the author gets interested in doing them that way. I guess the YA nature of these might restrict that some: Beka will at some point be a full-fledged police officer, and that may feel like the end of a YA series. But I don't feel like it would necessarily have to. Also, not enough fantasies deal with forgery. Hurrah forgery and the dealing therewith. Murder is not the only crime!
Red Stangland, Ole & Lena Jokes, Book III. Grandpa's. Grandpa loved Ole and Lena jokes. By the time you get to a third volume of them, even though each volume is more a pamphlet really, you're telling a lot of jokes with a thick fake Norsky accent and calling them Ole and Lena jokes, because the ones that actually rely on Ole and Lena being Norwegian and not Italian or Chinese got used up in the first volumes. This reminded me of Grandpa. In case you hadn't noticed yet, being reminded of Grandpa is a good thing for me.