Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Books read, early August

I don't list manuscripts I read for critique purposes here, and I'm reading more books at once than is normal for me right now (three, actually), so that pulls the list funny.

Daniel Abraham, The Price of Spring. Discussed elsewhere.

Greg Brick, Subterranean Twin Cities. Mostly what this did was make me want to know more about the above-ground local history he was referring to in passing. Also: it is apparently disgusting down there. I did not have a particular desire to explore the caves and sewers before, and this book made it pretty clear that I was right in that idea. Ew, ew. Not for the weak of stomach.

John Mack Faragher, A Great and Noble Scheme: the Tragic Story of the Expulsion of the French Acadians from Their American Homeland. More filling in the interesting bits of North American history that don't always get covered formally. More colossal dumb on some parts (historical, not authorial). Oh my dear 18th century, oh dear dear dear. I love the 18th century, but 18th century dumb seems to have been some pretty high-grade dumb. And the complete disbelief on the part of some of the Acadians, the "no, they wouldn't, that's too awful, they can't possibly mean it" reaction--it wasn't even a big lie. It was a big truth that people tried to talk themselves into believing was the big lie, because when someone says, "Now I will uproot you and separate you from your families and all the people who follow your religion and speak your language, okay?", the answer has to be, "No, not really. Not really, right? Not really?"

C. C. Finlay (ccfinlay), The Patriot Witch. I had read a few people complaining about what this book was not doing: specifically, it was not providing a view that balanced Tory with Rebel, and it was not putting the dialog in the 18th century mode. Having read the above Faragher with its liberal use of quotations from the period made the latter point even more clear: this is not 18th century dialog. However. I don't think it was really trying to do either thing and failing. (I may be wrong.) I think that Charlie was aiming for that middle ground that is readable to the modern audience without being too jarring in too many spots for the rarer reader who could produce a page of 18th century New England dialog without blinking. I think the result is a very readable fantasy adventure that aimed at keeping the essentials of historical event in their proper shape while enjoying the pleasures of alternate history fantasy. I would much rather have someone go into it expecting that than looking for a different type of fantasy novel. I particularly agree with the person (was it you, akirlu?) who felt that the characters' Christian approach to magic was appropriate to the cultural mores of the time, which is one of the hardest things, I think, for alternate history fabulists. Anyway. While there is a climax in this book, it's very much the first book of its trilogy. So we'll see where the rest go.

Tony Hillerman, The Shape Shifter. The end of the series, and I think not one of the stronger volumes in many ways. On the other hand, it felt like Hillerman got to do one more Leaphorn mystery without as much Chee, and I could see why a person might want that in a long series that had developed.

Gary Larson, The PreHistory of The Far Side. Grandpa's. A bunch of outtakes, favorites, early drawings. I'd never read this, but it was very familiar anyway. Grandpa loved The Far Side.

Lisa Mantchev, Eyes Like Stars. Another book that is very much the first in a series and has a climax but not a conclusion. I enjoyed this and will read the rest, but it has joined the list of "books to recommend to particular people" in my head, because this? This is the book for the 14-year-old who became completely enthralled with Noel Streatfeild and Diana Wynne Jones at 10 or so. This book will make her gasp and go, "This is my book." And it is good to know how to find books like that for people.

Leonard Mlodinow, The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives. I think this was the wrong subtitle for this book, and the right subtitle would have been something like, "Wow, are we bad at estimating probabilities." It went into several statistical fallacies people commonly fall into. These were not new to me, but it was an interesting treatment with some entertaining examples. Quick read.

Elizabeth Moon, Remnant Population. I sincerely hope that some of the people who read this some years on are confused about what it was doing that was different from any other "colonist and aliens" novel. I sincerely hope. But right now, having an elderly woman as a protag is not very standard, and I really did enjoy the main character. And I like "colonist and aliens" stories; I'm writing a short one myself right now for papersky because she likes them and I like her, and also because it showed up in my brain and behaved nicely and got moved to the front of the queue thereby. (I was going to call it "Nursery Rhymes and Alien Lullabies," but I think it is really called "Making Faces.")

Sarah Ockler, Twenty Boy Summer. Mainstream YA that had several refreshing things about it: the main character was not revealed as irrevocably broken, nobody fixed her, and she did not get her come-uppance. Also, the adults had their own lives, both internal and external, and were not omniscient. I did wonder about a thing that may be generational, or subcultural otherwise: if I took two gregarious 16-year-old girls to a seaside resort for an extended vacation, and they were the sort of kids who wanted to meet people, I would not be the least bit surprised if the people they met included boy-people. And I would consider it weird and stupid if they were attempting to hide meeting boy-people, because...boys are there. There are some. I mean. I just sort of assume that male is not one of the sexes it is statistically rare to run into in a randomly selected population of vacationers. I would fear that this is something horrible that happens to one's brain upon becoming the parent of a daughter, except that my parents seem to have been not only not surprised, but also not unduly alarmed, when it turned out that some of the people of my acquaintance--even some of the ones who were not blood relations--happened to be male. So I don't really know what was going on there, but it was weird.

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