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Books read, late February - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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Books read, late February [Mar. 2nd, 2010|11:30 am]
Marissa Lingen
Not a good half-month for books: I had less reading time than usual, and more of it was given over to trying things I didn't like and ultimately discarded unfinished. So there's just:

Elizabeth Bunce, A Curse Dark as Gold. A Rumplestiltskin retelling set when English cloth mills were changing substantially. I would particularly recommend this to that subset of fantasy fans who are also Georgette Heyer fans (or vice versa, I suppose: the interesection of the two really). That thing I've talked about where modern writers are reluctant to make debt and money a concern: that is not at all the case here, and it's handled in a very period-appropriate way. Also I liked the characters, and the mill town, and...I just thought this was well-done. I also think that the non-standard sister was picked to be the heroine, in personality terms, and I liked that, too.

Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. Gawande's two previous books were very engagingly written, and so is this one. The difference is that this time he's selling something. I don't mean that he's selling it for money, aside from the money from the sales of his book, but Gawande is pretty clearly very enthusiastic about what checklists can do to reduce errors in complex jobs, and he really really wants the reader to see the advantages. As a result, there's a certain, "Who are you going to call?" tone to The Checklist Manifesto. (Um. Possibly not everybody has a Ghostbusters reference in their head for that.) And the thing is, I don't think he's wrong. The numbers do look really good on this. I'm just not sure this book's mode of selling it is going to have the results he's looking for.

Reginald Hill, A Killing Kindness. This...is the last Dalziel/Pascoe mystery I haven't read and have readily available to me. Sigh. I'll be scouring used bookstores for the others, although Felony & Mayhem is putting out the early ones, so maybe just patience will do, since most of what I'm missing is mid-series. Anyway, there was a lot more Wield in this one than in other early ones, and I like Wield lots.

Charles Stross (autopope), Wireless. I'd already read some of the stories in this collection, but that's to be expected: if I like an author enough to read their collection, I almost always like them enough to seek out stories elsewhere. Good mix of stuff, and I agree with markgritter's reaction that Charlie's Time Patrol story out-Time Patrolled Poul Anderson.

Ursula Vernon, Dragonbreath: Attack of the Ninja Frogs. My godson was absolutely sure we needed to share this experience with him. It's the second in its series of children's books with illustrations that are more integrated with the text than the standard for an illustrated children's book and less than the standard for graphic novels. Good fun, and I think a good way to transition kids into reading bigger blocks of text if they're balking.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: shana
2010-03-02 05:34 pm (UTC)
I just put the Bunce on hold at the library, since I seem to fall squarely into the target group. Thanks.
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[User Picture]From: buymeaclue
2010-03-02 06:00 pm (UTC)
Dragonbreath: Attack of the Ninja Frogs

That is the best title I've seen since Kid vs. Squid. Not better than Kid vs. Squid, but nearly as good as.
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2010-03-02 06:11 pm (UTC)
Ursula Vernon is consistently wonderful; she LiveJournals as ursulav. (Oh, right, everyone knew that. Sorry. I'd hate people to miss out).
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From: swan_tower
2010-03-02 06:48 pm (UTC)
That thing I've talked about where modern writers are reluctant to make debt and money a concern:

I laughed a bit when I read this, because my instinct is to say I am one of those writers. I had an extremely bad experience studying economics in high school, which kind of poisoned me on the entire subject, far beyond what you might consider reasonable.

. . . and yet, debt and money has cropped up in all three Onyx Court books so far, with high probability of doing so in the fourth. All I can figure is that it's impossible to read about English history without the issue being raised, and so it got into my brain by osmosis. Given that Bunce's book is historically set, this theory seems sound to me.

(How bad do I twitch over economics? Bad enough that it makes me semi-disinclined to read A Curse as Dark as Gold, even though in all other respects I bet I would like it a lot.)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-03-02 09:55 pm (UTC)
I twitched over some of the debt stuff myself, but it was worth the twitching. For me it's not that I had a bad high school experience, it's that I know far too many people with money problems.
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From: swan_tower
2010-03-02 09:58 pm (UTC)
That too, on the personal-finance end; my twitchiness runs all the way up from that to national macroeconomics. I am an equal-opportunity twitcher. :-)
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[User Picture]From: skwirly
2010-03-02 07:27 pm (UTC)
I am in this Venn diagram! Going to go hunt down the Bunce right now. I'm always looking for recommendations for books that hit that particular intersection.
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[User Picture]From: mamculuna
2010-03-02 08:21 pm (UTC)
Have you read Ursula Vernon's online (but also published)graphic novel Digger? and you know that she's on LJ as ursulav? She writes a good LJ, too.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-03-02 09:55 pm (UTC)
Yes, and yes! Mostly I put people's lj names in if they're on my friendslist, but I should do it for anyone whose lj name I know, probably.
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[User Picture]From: wldhrsjen3
2010-03-02 09:56 pm (UTC)
A Curse Dark as Gold is one of my all-time favorite books. I know some people found it too slow, but I adored it. I also loved the fact that marriage wasn't presented as The Magic Solution or The Happily Ever After. :)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-03-03 12:13 am (UTC)
And marriage wasn't a horrible awful trap, either. It was...a relationship in life that requires love, trust, honesty, and work. Go figure.
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[User Picture]From: wldhrsjen3
2010-03-04 12:30 am (UTC)
*exactly*

:)
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[User Picture]From: jenett
2010-03-06 04:45 pm (UTC)
I just finished Curse As Dark As Gold, and liked it quite a lot - I agree with you that it's nice to see the money issues actually dealt with - and I really loved the marriage too.

For folks trying to decide whether to read it: it helped me (as someone who is finally digging out of money issues) that the money issues the main characters have aren't their fault as much as a combination of really lousy circumstances. (There's some stuff they could have figured out sooner, maybe, about those circumstances, but they're trying to do the best they can, and do the best they can for the employees who count on them.)
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