I quit more than half of the books I started this fortnight. I think that's unrelated to being behind on everything. I think those books were just either bad or not right for me. But still, it's a lot of books to send back to the library unfinished. I'm hoping my hit rate is better this fortnight and next, when I won't even be trying to deal with the library most of the time.
Boris Akunin, Murder on the Leviathan. This is the third in the series in which Akunin is attempting to set himself the challenge of writing one of each "kind" of mystery. Interesting to see where he goes with each one. This was a shipboard setting, closing off the list of suspects. I was also interested in how he made use of point of view to indicate the prejudices of various characters, throwing suspicion on their suspicions. Quick, fun read.
Lois McMaster Bujold, Captain Vorpatril's Alliance. And speaking of quick, fun reads, I tore through this like mad. It was amazing I could still manage to fulfill any of my personal responsibilities once I had started this book. The first chapter or so was a little slow for my taste and leaned pretty heavily on the conventions of setting up a romance, but once I was through that, I just tore into the rest. Barrayar! The Cetagandan Occupation! This was like catnip to me. I like it best of all the recent things Lois has written.
Felix Gilman, The Rise of Ransom City. Discussed elsewhere.
Ken MacLeod, The Restoration Game. This...was a weird one for me. Because the framing device totally telegraphed what would be a plot twist in many books. And that's good! Plot twists are overrated! But then I felt like it was structured mostly like a book with a plot twist, so it felt sort of...flat. Still quite readable! Just missing a certain je ne sais quoi.
Robert Massie, The Romanovs: The Final Chapter. Kindle. This was not what I expected really. It was mostly about the bones of the last tsar and his family, rather than anything they did when they were still alive. There were some bits of that, but mostly it was about sorting out who was who and where and why, once they were all dead, and also talking about the non-reigning Romanovs a bit. It went quickly, but if you don't have a particular interest in the subject matter, I can't recommend it as transcending interest in the subject matter unless you just like random nonfiction. (Which I know some of you do, and I do. But some more than others.) I was also startled by the arrival in my inbox that this book was available from the library, because I had requested it in late July. It was supposed to be one of the things I loaded on my Kindle to take to Montreal with me. And...yeah. Not so much it turns out. Ah well, library, what're ya gonna do.
Hilary McKay, Caddy's World. I love the Casson Family books. Love love love love. This is a very good example of them. I think it would work all right to start here, because it's a prequel, but I can testify that it definitely works well if you know all the bits of the family story that are coming later or have been explained elsewhere in the series. I laughed quite a bit. And I loved Caddy's friends. So much love for Caddy's friends. I was part of a gaggle of girls at about that age in a way that I never was before or since, so I am a sucker for stories of friendship at that age. This is funny and sharp and tender and good. Go read Saffy's Angel, or this. Read them all. They are so very right.
Deb Perelman, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I have been enjoying recipes from Smitten Kitchen for the last few years, so when this was coming out, I knew I would want to look through the whole thing and mark it up for ideas. I was not disappointed. There's a cauliflower pasta thing I want to try next time markgritter and I are dining without timprov, and there's a blueberry cornmeal butter cake, and...oh, oh. There is a recipe with fresh apricots. It makes me so very futilely hungry for fresh apricots. I use dried apricots all winter, but--real fresh apricots. I pine. But in a good way.
Edith Simon, The Making of Frederick the Great. This is an oldish book, and the main takeaway message I got from it was: try not to be the kid of Frederick William, sheesh. That guy was a total jerk to his offspring. In even more outstanding ways than the average for 18th century potentates. Still, I have this deep conviction that I am ignorant about German history, I think because there is so much mess there for so many centuries, and this filled in some of it.
Charles A. Tan, Lauriat: A Filipino-Chinese Speculative Fiction Anthology. A lauriat is apparently a multi-course feast, and this was designed to be one. It was more horror-y than my tastes generally go, but the stories were better-written than the average of most anthologies--I didn't find myself skipping or skimming even when I was not thrilled with the subject matter. It's one in the eye for people who whine that the only good stories are being written by middle-aged white dudes and they couldn't possibly find even one non-white person to include in their invitational anthology: Charles Tan could find an entire book worth, without even branching out to ask people who are from or immersed in non-white cultures other than Filipino-Chinese ones. So quit whining and read up.