Kylie Chan, Earth to Hell. When I was reading this, I told some friends in e-mail that it should be called Mary Sue Goes To Hell: Is Not So Bad Akshully. It's the beginning of a trilogy that continues the story begun in another trilogy. I fear it's an entire trilogy with middle-book-itis. In any case I had a great deal less fun with it than I did with the ones that preceded it, which were less good than cracktastic, and I'm not sure I'm going to keep going from here. It makes me sympathetic to the idea that the first thing people sell should stand alone, because if you sell the first volume of a series, and that first volume doesn't really have an ending, you don't actually know that the author can write endings at all. And endings are hard. Middles are hard, even. And the first trilogy was more or less 900+ pages of beginning. So.
Carlo Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms: the Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller. This was the charming heresy stuff I was talking about on my birthday. It explored the interplay between literate and non-literate culture in the period in question, and how we know things about each, and was very chewy and much fun. Recommended for those interested in this period.
Mary Robinette Kowal, Scenting of the Dark and Other Stories. I enjoyed all the stories in this collection except the title story, which I respected but did not enjoy: too many scent-triggers, and I am extremely scent-suggestible. I just wished there had been more here, because it was more a chapbook than a collection--but a very solid chapbook for sure.
Justine Larbalestier, How to Ditch Your Fairy. I'm trying to decide how I feel about this book. On the one hand, I like that not everything was tied up with tidy little bows. On the other hand, there were several elements of the speculative part of the book that felt sort of loose to me, like there were things that just didn't quite wrap as far as they could have. The main characters didn't have standard-issue obsessions, the setting was not out of a box, the slang was very YA/teen slang, and I think my young teen friends would probably enjoy it. I'm just not quite sure about the speculative element of the plot. Would like to hear whether others who've read it found it satisfying.
Nevil Shute, Pastoral. A wartime love story of sorts. If this had been my first Shute, I think I would have thought I knew what ending was coming, but since I know I don't always know what he's doing, I just took it as it came. And it was indeed what the title said. And for its era, it took women's work as seriously--well, as seriously as its era really did take women's wartime work, and not as seriously as the time after the war tried to revise itself into taking women's work. So that was very interesting indeed.
Charles Stross, The Fuller Memorandum. Anthony Price, Mike Ford, Arthur Ransome, all in autopope's Lovecraftian geek books. Everybody sing! This is more or less exactly the book I wanted it to be, I think. This is my favorite of his series.
Walter Jon Williams, Voice of the Whirlwind. The problem with having found the one WJW book that makes me go, "Ooh, must find all his others!" is that the others aren't really quite as good. And that was the case here: this was fun, it was an entertaining read, but it did not wow me. Clone pursues original's story through space. Okay then.