Books I read, 2009 (second half)

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Andrew Plotkin

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Jan 1, 2010, 2:32:40 PM1/1/10
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Here's what I've read in the past six months, and how I liked 'em.

If you insist on the full twelve-month list, hit up
<http://eblong.com/zarf/bookscan/rev-2009.html>.

# august 2009

Agner, Mary -- The Doors of the Body

Small-press collection of poetry by a friend. Some fairy tale themes,
some Greek history and mythology. Liked it.

Brennan, Marie -- In Ashes Lie

Followup to Elizabethan elf story. This one is way too much of a
history lesson; the author had to work in the Plague *and* the Fire
*and* Cromwell's civil war, starting and ending, all notionally tied
together with a faerie plotline. They don't fit.

Erikson, Steven -- The Lees of Laughter's End

Third Korbal Broach novella. (These have been collected into one
volume now, if you're interested.) Must not have been memorable.

Abraham, Daniel -- An Autumn War

Third book in quartet about a civilization committing suicide via
demon. I'm not sure where I got that idea, actually -- I haven't read
the fourth yet -- but everything bad that's happened so far is part of
the "long price" of holding the andat, and this book furthers that
theme, shall we say. The second book didn't engage me but this one
did: a big scheme, undertaken by the survivors of the first book's
mistakes, and oh do they multiply. Very finely written.

Wilson, F. Paul -- By the Sword

Repairman Jack sees the last few hoops come into view.

Kadrey, Richard -- Sandman Slim

Punk wizard got thrown (alive) into Hell, by being an idiot and
hanging around with other idiots. He has managed to escape. Revenge! I
recall this is being one of the better examples of "nasty but still
sympathetic noir".

Caine, Rachel -- Cape Storm (Weather Warden, book 8)

This series can end any time. This volume has a lot of entertaining
plot-bouncing but I can't remember if it advances the overall story
any.

Beukes, Lauren -- Moxyland

Near-future social if-this-goes-on-ism: megacorps, street vandalism as
social protest, ebola as a riot-control agent, soft drink companies
sponsoring medical research. This is original cyberpunk updated to the
current year, and like the original cyberpunk, it's full of people
that you don't like and the awful things that happen to all of them.
Did not enjoy.

Bellairs, John -- Magic Mirrors

Contains an obscure Bellairs satire of Catholicism (which I already
had), a charming children's story, _The Face in the Frost_ (already
had), and -- the real reason this volume exists -- the pages that
exist of _The Dolphin Cross_, which is the *sequel* to _The Face in
the Frost_. (It feels like roughly the first two-thirds of a book,
although some pages are lost from the middle as well.) Prospero -- not
the famous one -- goes wandering around England, or countries of the
English variety, in search of something very nasty. Imaginative,
varied, often funny, extremely creepy, not entirely cohesive; maybe
cohesive would have been a later draft.

Baker, Kage -- The Hotel Under the Sand

A children's story; has the air of "the story the author made up for
some actual kids", rather than an attempt to enter the Harry Potter
sweepstakes. A girl is shipwrecked and discovers a buried hotel, with
attendant ghosts, pirates, magic, etc, etc. Sweet in a (I swear)
completely unironical way. The cook was awesome.

Goto, Hiromi -- Half World

Another kids' book. Girl travels to fantasy world; but the story is
rooted in Japanese culture, rather than the usual portal-fantasy
wellspring of British folklore and history. (The author is Canadian
but was born in Japan, I believe.) Vivid; the antagonist is about as
nightmarish as I've seen, in the disgusting mode. My only complaint is
that the teenage protagonist talks a bit too much like a
life-experienced adult, particularly when observing grownups. But
that's a tiny little complaint.

Sagara, Michelle -- Cast in Silence

Police officer gets involved in... what was this one? Oh yes: the
history of the fantasy city itself, particularly the Fiefs. The series
has spent enough time working the protagonist up as a human being that
it can now explore her magical specialness without coming off as twee.
Well done.

Schroeder, Karl -- The Sunless Countries (Virga, book 4)

We learn more about the greater world of Virga -- including what's
outside it. Fun, except for the local political struggle that kicks
off (and wraps up) the plot; that comes off as cartoon villains out to
smear mud on the world.

Gilman, Greer -- Cloud & Ashes

Have not yet read this. I know, I bought it at Worldcon. I need a lot
of a particular kind of momentum before I tackle Gilman's prose.

Baker, Meguey -- A Thousand and One Nights
Underkoffler, Chad -- The Zantabulous Zorcerer of Zo

Two additions to my collection of offbeat indie RPGs. The former is a
very lightweight game, with the players all taking turns as GMs
(effectively) as their characters tell Arabian-Nightsian stories, with
a court-politics frame game. Cute; suitable for a one-afternoon game.
The latter is essentially a explication of the author's 2006
fairy-tale RPG campaign, generalized into a full setting and a
framework for other people to "do something like this". Verges on
having too much setting and not enough interesting game mechanics, but
still worth looking at.

Durham, David Anthony -- Acacia

Epic fantasy of the nations-in-conflict sort (subtype: princes and
princesses have to cope with it). I failed to like this. The various
nations, although nicely varied, all felt like thin stereotypes; their
political motivations did too. Also the prose was vaguely clunky, and
I kept losing track of which group of terrifyingly irresistable
enemies was which.

Enge, James -- Blood of Ambrose

Imagine if Merlin had stuck around England for all the centuries after
Arthur, to make sure the kingdom ran okay. It's not actually Merlin or
England (although enough names come from that tradition that I spent
way too long trying to figure out if this was alt-history-fantasy or
not). But you get the idea. Ambrosius is ancient, half-legendary, and
possessed of an infinite amount of personal baggage. His sister is
just the same, except she's not a drunk. Both of them are interested
in protecting the young prince from the palace coup that's going
down... Okay, I'll say it: this is the Belgariad done right (as if by
S. Morganstern, maybe?) Cheerfully over-the-top.

Landy, Derek -- Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones

Third book about young wizard and her skeleton detective buddy. Still
good fun. The author is making some interesting gestures at the
handwaves he used in book one to write about a teenager adventuring
without destroying her normal family life. I'm hoping the story
angles towards the protagonist growing up.

# september 2009

Barlowe, Wayne -- God's Demon

Yes, that Barlowe. (He's the artist who invented all the alien
lifeforms in the current _Avatar_ movie. Okay? Okay.) So, a while ago
Barlowe published an art-book of paintings of Hell. Then, it seems, he
decided to write a novel for which they were the art. It's not bad,
but it's not as good as his paintings. Barlowe is (unsurprisingly)
superb at describing sensory detail; Hell is vivid in all its
meat-ridden inverse-glory. The plot and characters, not so vivid.
There's a rebellion in Hell, and all the people (demons mostly) that
he painted get shoehorned in. I liked the idea of a natural ecosystem
of hell, complete with aborigines, from before the fallen angels fell
in; but not much is done with it.

Downum, Amanda -- The Drowning City

Necromancer stumbles (or leaps, since she's also a spy) into politics.
This book throws an awful lot of names at you -- people, places,
ethnic groups, political factions -- it's all well-built but it's a
lot to grab hold of. I wound up liking the sidekicks and secondary
characters more than the protagonist, who is supposed to be a badass
but isn't really an interesting or active badass.

Thurman, Rob -- Trick of the Light

Spinoff of the Cal Leandros "monsters in NYC" series. (But with new
characters -- the other series doesn't cross over, except for a phone
call to Robin Goodfellow, and a comment about why demons avoid New
York.) This book is demons in Las Vegas. Enh. The narrator is
unreliable (if you didn't guess from the title and her name being
"Trixa") and while the author sets up some nicely multilayered
sleight-of-narrative, it's at the cost of me really buying into the
story. That is to say, I didn't.

Whiteland, David -- The Knot-Shop Man

This is the one you haven't heard of (unless I commented on your blog
about it). It's a self-published quartet of fairy tales about a city
where you can go to tie down your fate -- to a person, to a goal. Is
this a good idea? The answer is ambiguous, as four different people
undertake four journeys, each under the tutelage of the proprietor of
a shop that sells knots. (Not rope, mind you.) The stories vary from a
sort of tragedy to a sort of triumph, and how you take the whole will
depend on what order you read them in -- the books quite overtly leave
this up to you. It's an interesting experiment, but the experiment is
less important than the author's deft, wry, and eminently readable
narration. Ordering this will cost you some cash (shipping costs to
the US particularly bite) but I recommend it anyhow. Get together with
three friends and you can all read it at the same time.

# october 2009

Evans, Larry -- Great Book of Lateral Logic Mazes
Evans, Larry -- A Super-Sneaky Double-Crossing Up, Down, Round & Round Maze Book
Evans, Larry -- Gorey Games

A set of puzzle books from the 1970s op-art maze master, Larry Evans.
The first two have some regular mazes and some logic mazes, such as
mazes with missing bits or visit-each-node-once rules. The Gorey book
is a general puzzle collection done with licensed Edward Gorey artwork.
(Gorey obviously had nothing to do with it aside from giving permission,
but whatever. It is what it is.)

Connolly, Harry -- Child of Fire

New urban fantasy (but not romance) series. There is magic out there;
and it's a *really* bad idea. If your power doesn't come directly from
the world-devouring extradimensional demons, it's liable to attract
their attention. Therefore, the Twenty Palaces Society go out looking
for nascent magicians -- and shut them down. Hard. They are not nice
people. The protagonist in this book is not a wizard, although he has
a couple of tricks; he's the henchman, or hench-stalking-horse, of a
shit-scary Twenty Palaces operative. She's a sociopathic goal-obsessed
magic hunter; he's a chauffeur with "expendable" tattooed on his
forehead; they fight crime^H^H^H^H^H demons! This is a great start for
a series; both the main characters and the small-town multi-sided
old-bad-blood drama they stumble into get a lot of depth, and the
demons (and other nasties) are satisfactorially awful. Yes, I'm
including the scary wizard lady in with "nasties", and yet we see
where she's coming from as well. I look forward to learning more about
the Society.

Stephenson, Neal -- Anathem

Stephenson has finally done it; he has invented an entire planetary
institution of people who spend their lives giving each other
lectures, in order to justify all the lectures he wanted to put in his
book. I enjoyed this, after being utterly bored by _Quicksilver_,
after enjoying _Cryptonomicon_. I think it's purely a question of the
subject matter. The storyline in _Anathem_ is better-constructed than
usual, with a genuine no-shit-there-it-is ending. On the other hand,
the SF gimmicks were all utterly unconvincing to me, from the
alt-matter oxygen that was only "sort of" breathable to the
quantum-consciousness theories (I hate them, every one). Overall, fun,
but it was aiming for "awesome" and missed by miles.

Banks, Iain M. -- Transition

Ten marks out of ten for the opening paragraph. The rest of the book
does not hold the pace. It's the kind of story whose fun is in holding
lots and lots of unrelated pieces in your head, and then trying to fit
them together. It does this adequately, but without any sense that I
should be rooting for any of the characters. And, weirdly, there are
no major revelations at the end (or anywhere else). I would have
thought revelations were a genre convention, in jigsaw-puzzle plots.

Pratchett, Terry -- Unseen Academicals

I wish it were possible to think about this book without thinking
about Pratchett's illness, and how it might have affected the work. I
can say that I liked this one better than _Making Money_, but not as
much as _Going Postal_ or _Thud_. Can I say that the plot felt a
little too wandery? Maybe, but then I was looking for symptoms, and
that's too easy to do when an author *hasn't* been formally diagnosed.
Anyhow. A terrific batch of new characters, an acceptably evolved
visit to the Unseen wizard crew -- some of them have actually moved on
to new things -- and no, I *don't* care that the footy-ball has never
been mentioned before in the series.

# november 2009

Bear, Elizabeth -- By the Mountain Bound

Prequel to emo Norse technofantasy series. This explains how the world
got to the apocalyptic point where _Windwracked Stars_ began. This was
decent but just a little bit pat, and I'm not sure whether that's
because it was set earlier (so I knew where it was going), or because
the author had worked over the ideas so often, or just because it's a
simpler book (both in storyline and in setting). So I think I will
shift away from my usual "always read in publication order" stance,
and say that _By the Mountain Bound_ should *not* be read second in
this trilogy. But should it be read first (chronological order) or
third (the order that the author wrote them)? I'll let you know after
I get my hands on _The Sea Thy Mistress_.

Zahn, Timothy -- Odd Girl Out

Third in ongoing series of inter(-stellar-)national intrigue
thrillers. A dame walksh into the protagonist's office, tries to hire
him, and is found dead scant hours later. Is it a plot? Yes, it is a
plot. I am starting to disbelieve that the alien menace is beatable --
it seems to be able to mobilize unlimited numbers of rich people to do
its bidding, and what can threaten a large group of corrupt rich
people? Don't try to answer that. This book brings in some interesting
other factions, anyhow.

Peters, S. M. -- Whitechapel Gods

Alien clockwork lifeforms have been sprouting in Victorian London; now
they've conquered the Whitechapel district. Falls into the New Weird
trap of having the main characters be jerks -- and also, the story
takes way too much glee in having New and Weird things *happen* to the
main characters. It's hard to stay engaged in the story when any given
viewpoint character has no better than even odds of surviving his
viewpoint chapter. Also, most of them are *psychotic* jerks.

Ronald, Margaret -- Spiral Hunt

New urban fantasy (but not romance) series, only this one is set in
Boston, which I appreciate. Once again, magic is bad for you (although
not quite so likely to destroy the world); it's cast as addiction, and
way better than _Buffy_ did. The author gives good feel for Boston
history, and ties the many currents of her magical world into that
history in a way reminiscent of Tim Powers.

McCaffrey, Anne -- Dragonflight

I didn't buy this to read; I bought it so that Elizabeth Bear could
sign it. Now I just need to get Sarah Monette to.

Leonardo da Vinci, Luca Pacioli -- Il Codice Della Divina Perfezione

Not a book, but a collection of prints of Leonardo's illustrations of
the Platonic solids. (And Archimedean solids, and some stellations
too.)

Levitt, John -- Dog Days

New urban fantasy (but not romance) series... this is a more
conventional take. The gimmick is that our hero has a magic dog. Not a
wolf, mind you, but a little mutt critter. It's cute, but the story
didn't do much to differentiate itself from its genre, and coming down
to a heavily-foreshadowed duel of magic at the end didn't score any
points.

Wilson, F. Paul -- The Touch

Re-release (presumably somewhat updated) of one of the
background-setting books for the Repairman Jack series. This one is
"current" (that is, it takes place right after _Ground Zero_) and
concerns a doctor who is abruptly possessed of a miraculous healing
touch; the price for each use is the rapid erosion of his mind. The
story unfortunately fails to develop any tension whatsoever, because
the setups are all gimmes: will the good-hearted doctor sacrifice
himself to save the cute girl on dialysis? the cute autistic boy? the
evil exploitative politician? No points for guessing right.

Wilson, F. Paul -- Reborn

This one works much better; it concerns the attempt of the big evil
avatar to get himself incarnated circa 1968. It works because the
characters are put into situations where there are genuinely no good
answers; every choice is awful. That's horror.

# december 2009

Bujold, Lois McMaster -- The Hallowed Hunt

Re-read, but I happen to have not read it since the book came out (and
that was a library copy, which is why I bought it for the revisit). I
like this one a lot. It has the right level of choice, immanence, and
revelation in a theology that we thought we knew pretty well. Also a
multitude of awesome ancilliary characters -- Jokol and Fafa, Hallana
and Oswin. However, the limits of the series become apparent when the
author has to drop in a list of all the things that *aren't* going on,
which are all the possibilities raised by the first two books. If she
ever writes a fourth, the list will only get longer.

Doyle, Debra; MacDonald, James D. -- The Confessions of Peter Crossman

Chapbook of short stories about the Templar super-secret agent (from
_The Apocalypse Door_) and his rival-or-ally, the Fun Nun With the
Gun. (I never get tired of quoting that.) The stories are each quite
simple, a bit of action and a bit of magic and then it's done. I
prefer the novel-length form, of which I hear a new one is coming out
soon.

de Pierres, Marianne -- Dark Space

Have not yet finished.

Green, Simon R. -- Just Another Judgement Day

It's time to stop buying these. I've reached the point where I can
skip half the text -- because I've read it before, or close enough to
make no never-mind. Sometimes I've read it before in the same volume.

Keck, David -- In a Time of Treason

Have not yet started.

--Z

--
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*

William Hyde

unread,
Jan 1, 2010, 3:28:18 PM1/1/10
to
On Jan 1, 2:32 pm, Andrew Plotkin <erkyr...@eblong.com> wrote:
> Here's what I've read in the past six months, and how I liked 'em.

It's turning out to be a classic year, in a sense. Zero overlap
between the books I read and your list, and zero overlap wit Jacey
Bedford's list. That's not a criticism, of course, and there are
books on the lists that I read earlier, or plan to read.

The implication, I guess, is that I'm reading a lot less SF&F than I
used to. Perhaps I too should keep a list this year, if so, entry #1
will he "Helliconia Summer", so at least it will start with some SF.

William Hyde

Konrad Gaertner

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Jan 1, 2010, 3:40:18 PM1/1/10
to
Andrew Plotkin wrote:
>
> Sagara, Michelle -- Cast in Silence
>
> Police officer gets involved in... what was this one? Oh yes: the
> history of the fantasy city itself, particularly the Fiefs.

I would have liked it a whole lot better if it hadn't added two
time-travel paradoxes to the story.

> Durham, David Anthony -- Acacia

Acacia is now the name of the trilogy, and the first book is now
_The War with the Mien_. I was bothered by the author sending mixed
messages re: hereditary nobility.

> Pratchett, Terry -- Unseen Academicals
>

> and no, I *don't* care that the footy-ball has never
> been mentioned before in the series.

I cared. He could have at least had a character comment about the
past getting changed again.

> Ronald, Margaret -- Spiral Hunt
>

> The author gives good feel for Boston
> history, and ties the many currents of her magical world into that
> history in a way reminiscent of Tim Powers.

Can you say anything about the plot and characterization? (I've
never read Powers.)

--
Konrad Gaertner - - - - - - - - - - - - email: kgae...@tx.rr.com
http://kgbooklog.livejournal.com/
"I don't mind hidden depths but I insist that there be a surface."
-- James Nicoll

David Librik

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Jan 1, 2010, 6:10:15 PM1/1/10
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Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> writes:

>Bellairs, John -- Magic Mirrors

>Contains ... the real reason this volume exists -- the pages that


>exist of _The Dolphin Cross_, which is the *sequel* to _The Face in
>the Frost_.

OMG Must Read Now! I had no idea this story existed!


>Landy, Derek -- Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones

>Third book about young wizard and her skeleton detective buddy. Still
>good fun. The author is making some interesting gestures at the
>handwaves he used in book one to write about a teenager adventuring
>without destroying her normal family life.

Also some willingness to notice just how often he resolved every
action scene in earlier books with the same "But just in the nick
of time, Skulduggery rushed in and saved the day" gimmick.

> I'm hoping the story
>angles towards the protagonist growing up.

Me too, but I think he's been annoyingly immature ever since he died.


- David Librik
lib...@panix.com

David Goldfarb

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Jan 1, 2010, 5:46:21 PM1/1/10
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In article <hhlikn$7hj$1...@reader1.panix.com>,

Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote:
>McCaffrey, Anne -- Dragonflight
>
>I didn't buy this to read; I bought it so that Elizabeth Bear could
>sign it. Now I just need to get Sarah Monette to.

Okay, I'll provide the [*] that you are clearly trolling for.

--
David Goldfarb |From the fortune cookie file:
gold...@ocf.berkeley.edu |"You have an ability to sense and know
gold...@csua.berkeley.edu | higher truth."

Jack Tingle

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Jan 1, 2010, 6:30:31 PM1/1/10
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On 1/1/2010 2:32 PM, Andrew Plotkin wrote:
> Here's what I've read in the past six months, and how I liked 'em.
...

> Baker, Kage -- The Hotel Under the Sand
>
> A children's story; has the air of "the story the author made up for
> some actual kids", rather than an attempt to enter the Harry Potter
> sweepstakes. A girl is shipwrecked and discovers a buried hotel, with
> attendant ghosts, pirates, magic, etc, etc. Sweet in a (I swear)
> completely unironical way. The cook was awesome.

I really enjoyed this one, and I agree, Baker played it straight. It's
just a child's story. No irony or post-anything needed.

Thanks for the reviews. Some of these are on my to-be-read list. A few
I've never heard of. Hmmmm.

Regards,
Jack Tingle

Default User

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Jan 1, 2010, 6:44:26 PM1/1/10
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Andrew Plotkin wrote:

> Zahn, Timothy -- Odd Girl Out
>
> Third in ongoing series of inter(-stellar-)national intrigue
> thrillers. A dame walksh into the protagonist's office, tries to hire
> him, and is found dead scant hours later. Is it a plot? Yes, it is a
> plot. I am starting to disbelieve that the alien menace is beatable --
> it seems to be able to mobilize unlimited numbers of rich people to do
> its bidding, and what can threaten a large group of corrupt rich
> people? Don't try to answer that. This book brings in some interesting
> other factions, anyhow.

I'm torn about this book, and to a certain extent the previous one. I
really enjoy the "quadrail" milieu Zahn has created. However, I'd have
been happier if Modhri had been more soundly defeated in the first
book, and the next ones devoted to some other challenges of the sort an
trouble-shooting pair could run into policing an interstellar train
system. If we had to have Modhri back, it would have been a better
story if it really was necessary to team up to defeat some third party.

Also, for all the resources Modhri can bring to bear, it keeps getting
its collective ass handed to it by Compton and Bayta. At some point,
its theory of "the devil you know" probably should swap over to, "I'll
take my chances with somebody new" and shove the pair in front of a
train.

Brian

--
Day 333 of the "no grouchy usenet posts" project

Default User

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Jan 1, 2010, 6:56:05 PM1/1/10
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Konrad Gaertner wrote:

> Andrew Plotkin wrote:

> > Pratchett, Terry -- Unseen Academicals
> >

> > and no, I don't care that the footy-ball has never


> > been mentioned before in the series.
>
> I cared. He could have at least had a character comment about the
> past getting changed again.

Actually, it had been mentioned, in Jingo. However, not much at all
like the version supposedly played in A-M prior to the UA game.

David DeLaney

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Jan 1, 2010, 5:21:56 PM1/1/10
to
Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote:
>Bellairs, John -- Magic Mirrors

<adds to List>

>Schroeder, Karl -- The Sunless Countries (Virga, book 4)

<ditto> ... book 3 apparently never made it to Waldenbooks, here.

>Durham, David Anthony -- Acacia
>
>Epic fantasy of the nations-in-conflict sort (subtype: princes and
>princesses have to cope with it). I failed to like this. The various
>nations, although nicely varied, all felt like thin stereotypes; their
>political motivations did too. Also the prose was vaguely clunky, and
>I kept losing track of which group of terrifyingly irresistable
>enemies was which.

The next book is out; I also had some issues keeping motivation to read this,
but I think I shall at least get the next one in paperback. It seems poised
to slide into Crapsack Magical World though, at which point I generally do
the equivalent of the 8DW.

>Enge, James -- Blood of Ambrose

Already on The List. :)

>Landy, Derek -- Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones
>
>Third book about young wizard and her skeleton detective buddy.

The first one is near my bed, and I haven't started it yet; it sounds like
it shall be worth my time.

>Zahn, Timothy -- Odd Girl Out

>I am starting to disbelieve that the alien menace is beatable --
>it seems to be able to mobilize unlimited numbers of rich people to do
>its bidding, and what can threaten a large group of corrupt rich people?

Um, at least one possible Answer is given in this very volume, wot? Assuming
it can get enough time to get some Leverage going.

>Levitt, John -- Dog Days
>
>New urban fantasy (but not romance) series... this is a more
>conventional take. The gimmick is that our hero has a magic dog. Not a
>wolf, mind you, but a little mutt critter. It's cute, but the story
>didn't do much to differentiate itself from its genre, and coming down
>to a heavily-foreshadowed duel of magic at the end didn't score any points.

There's three of these out now, and I enjoyed reading them. Not insta-classic
or anything, but keeps-me-reading level.

Dave
--
\/David DeLaney posting from d...@vic.com "It's not the pot that grows the flower
It's not the clock that slows the hour The definition's plain for anyone to see
Love is all it takes to make a family" - R&P. VISUALIZE HAPPYNET VRbeable<BLINK>
http://www.vic.com/~dbd/ - net.legends FAQ & Magic / I WUV you in all CAPS! --K.

Andrew Plotkin

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Jan 1, 2010, 9:42:13 PM1/1/10
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Here, Konrad Gaertner <kgae...@tx.rr.com> wrote:

> Andrew Plotkin wrote:
>
> > Ronald, Margaret -- Spiral Hunt
> >
> > The author gives good feel for Boston
> > history, and ties the many currents of her magical world into that
> > history in a way reminiscent of Tim Powers.
>
> Can you say anything about the plot and characterization? (I've
> never read Powers.)

The characterization is solid. The plot: protagonist has the Second
Smell, which is good for tracking down lost things and people. She
generally uses this for mundane jobs, since the magical world is
mostly lowlifes, magic junkies, and a mob you don't want the attention
of. Then a non-mundane job, a thought-he-was-dead ex-boyfriend, and a
tall-dark-mysterious stranger show up all on the same day. Plot gets
more tangled from there.

The comparison with Powers is in flavor and backstory detail, not plot
or characters. There's a secret history of Boston, which we learn just
a little of, but it's nicely reinforced by real historical events.

Here, David Librik <lib...@panix.com> wrote:


> Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> writes:
>
> >Bellairs, John -- Magic Mirrors
>

> >Contains ... the real reason this volume exists -- the pages that


> >exist of _The Dolphin Cross_, which is the *sequel* to _The Face in
> >the Frost_.
>

> OMG Must Read Now! I had no idea this story existed!

All praise NESFA Press.



> >Landy, Derek -- Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones
>

> > I'm hoping the story
> >angles towards the protagonist growing up.
>

> Me too, but I think he's been annoyingly immature ever since he died.

Ha! Well put.



Here, David Goldfarb <gold...@ocf.berkeley.edu> wrote:
> In article <hhlikn$7hj$1...@reader1.panix.com>,
> Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote:

> >McCaffrey, Anne -- Dragonflight
> >
> >I didn't buy this to read; I bought it so that Elizabeth Bear could
> >sign it. Now I just need to get Sarah Monette to.
>

> Okay, I'll provide the [*] that you are clearly trolling for.

Look up descriptions of Bear+Monette's _A Companion to Wolves_.
<http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/reviews/books/0-7653-1816-4.html> for
example.

Jacey Bedford

unread,
Jan 2, 2010, 7:15:16 AM1/2/10
to
In message <hhlikn$7hj$1...@reader1.panix.com>, Andrew Plotkin
<erky...@eblong.com> writes

>Connolly, Harry -- Child of Fire
>
>New urban fantasy (but not romance) series. There is magic out there;
>and it's a *really* bad idea. If your power doesn't come directly from
>the world-devouring extradimensional demons, it's liable to attract
>their attention.

I just ordered this in the strength of your writeup. Looks interesting.
Thanks.

Jacey

--
Jacey Bedford

Jacey Bedford

unread,
Jan 2, 2010, 7:11:57 AM1/2/10
to
In message
<00b7e8b8-07a0-49b1...@o28g2000yqh.googlegroups.com>,
William Hyde <wthyd...@gmail.com> writes

My reading is fairly random - with very few 'books of the moment' or
'important new releases' - so the most surprising thing would be that
there was considerable overlap between mine and anyone else's.
:-)

Jacey
>

--
Jacey Bedford

Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)

unread,
Jan 2, 2010, 8:46:38 AM1/2/10
to
I enjoyed it. Harry's on my friendslist on LJ, too.


--
Sea Wasp
/^\
;;;
Live Journal: http://seawasp.livejournal.com

David DeLaney

unread,
Jan 2, 2010, 7:46:55 AM1/2/10
to
Jacey Bedford <look...@nospam.invalid> wrote:
>Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> writes
>>Connolly, Harry -- Child of Fire
>>
>>New urban fantasy (but not romance) series. There is magic out there;
>>and it's a *really* bad idea. If your power doesn't come directly from
>>the world-devouring extradimensional demons, it's liable to attract
>>their attention.
>
>I just ordered this in the strength of your writeup. Looks interesting.
>Thanks.

I've been passing it by on the shelves for several weeks - something about
the back blurb just Did Not Appeal (grimness? grittiness?) - but I think I
shall add to cart next time also. Note that this does not necessarily mean
I'll get to READ it any time soon...

Dave "but at least it'll be where I can theoretically put my hands on it"
DeLaney

David DeLaney

unread,
Jan 2, 2010, 3:15:31 PM1/2/10
to
David DeLaney <d...@gatekeeper.vic.com> wrote:
>Jacey Bedford <look...@nospam.invalid> wrote:
>>Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> writes
>>>Connolly, Harry -- Child of Fire
>>I just ordered this in the strength of your writeup. Looks interesting.
>>Thanks.
>
>I've been passing it by on the shelves for several weeks - something about
>the back blurb just Did Not Appeal (grimness? grittiness?) - but I think I
>shall add to cart next time also. Note that this does not necessarily mean
>I'll get to READ it any time soon...

Aaaand bought it, and read it, this afternoon. Okay, that was worth reading.
COULD YOU BE MORE GRIM AND UNCOMMUNICATIVE ANNALISE? but okay. Thanks!

Dave

Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)

unread,
Jan 2, 2010, 6:45:38 PM1/2/10
to
David DeLaney wrote:
> David DeLaney <d...@gatekeeper.vic.com> wrote:
>> Jacey Bedford <look...@nospam.invalid> wrote:
>>> Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> writes
>>>> Connolly, Harry -- Child of Fire
>>> I just ordered this in the strength of your writeup. Looks interesting.
>>> Thanks.
>> I've been passing it by on the shelves for several weeks - something about
>> the back blurb just Did Not Appeal (grimness? grittiness?) - but I think I
>> shall add to cart next time also. Note that this does not necessarily mean
>> I'll get to READ it any time soon...
>
> Aaaand bought it, and read it, this afternoon. Okay, that was worth reading.
> COULD YOU BE MORE GRIM AND UNCOMMUNICATIVE ANNALISE? but okay. Thanks!

Hey, she got better, positively warm and fuzzy towards the end.

Jacey Bedford

unread,
Jan 2, 2010, 8:25:06 PM1/2/10
to
In message <hhninu$pri$2...@news.eternal-september.org>, "Sea Wasp (Ryk E.
Spoor)" <sea...@sgeinc.invalid.com> writes

>Jacey Bedford wrote:
>> In message <hhlikn$7hj$1...@reader1.panix.com>, Andrew Plotkin
>><erky...@eblong.com> writes
>>> Connolly, Harry -- Child of Fire
>>>
>>> New urban fantasy (but not romance) series. There is magic out
>>>there; and it's a *really* bad idea. If your power doesn't come
>>>directly from the world-devouring extradimensional demons, it's
>>>liable to attract their attention.
>> I just ordered this in the strength of your writeup. Looks
>>interesting. Thanks.
>
> I enjoyed it. Harry's on my friendslist on LJ, too.

I just found you on LJ and friended you. I'm 'birdsedge'

Jacey
>
>

--
Jacey Bedford

David DeLaney

unread,
Jan 3, 2010, 5:06:49 AM1/3/10
to

Warm and _crispy_, you mean.

Dave "where are the crispy mage councillors we used to have BEFORE the Reality
War?" DeLaney

Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)

unread,
Jan 3, 2010, 12:26:07 PM1/3/10
to
David DeLaney wrote:
> Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor) <sea...@sgeinc.invalid.com> wrote:
>> David DeLaney wrote:
>>> David DeLaney <d...@gatekeeper.vic.com> wrote:
>>>> Jacey Bedford <look...@nospam.invalid> wrote:
>>>>> Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> writes
>>>>>> Connolly, Harry -- Child of Fire
>>>>> I just ordered this in the strength of your writeup. Looks interesting.
>>>>> Thanks.
>>>> I've been passing it by on the shelves for several weeks - something about
>>>> the back blurb just Did Not Appeal (grimness? grittiness?) - but I think I
>>>> shall add to cart next time also. Note that this does not necessarily mean
>>>> I'll get to READ it any time soon...
>>> Aaaand bought it, and read it, this afternoon. Okay, that was worth reading.
>>> COULD YOU BE MORE GRIM AND UNCOMMUNICATIVE ANNALISE? but okay. Thanks!
>> Hey, she got better, positively warm and fuzzy towards the end.
>
> Warm and _crispy_, you mean.

Spoilers, man! Spoilers!

David DeLaney

unread,
Jan 3, 2010, 10:59:40 AM1/3/10
to

But - I didn't even MENTION the raw meat!

Dave "I definitely think the protagonist is correct in that he could be doing
a LOT more with the ramifications of that ghost knife; the first chapter of
the sequel (included at the end) does not seem to say whether he'd been
practicing with it, but I'm inclined to think not, given that he had to
retrieve it from, effectively, storage" DeLaney

Louann Miller

unread,
Jan 4, 2010, 9:47:29 AM1/4/10
to
Jacey Bedford <look...@nospam.invalid> wrote in news:yopQTStyH
$PLF...@parkhead.demon.co.uk:

>> I enjoyed it. Harry's on my friendslist on LJ, too.
>
> I just found you on LJ and friended you. I'm 'birdsedge'

the-blue-fenix here.

Re actual thread title: I keep book stats, and one thing I noticed about
2009 was a slight majority (72 versus 64) of my finished books were in e-
book format instead of on paper. I have the Palm (until recently) or iPhone
(now) with me at all times, and that makes it easier to get little reading
breaks in whenever I have a spare minute.

Chuk Goodin

unread,
Jan 8, 2010, 5:38:20 PM1/8/10
to
On Fri, 1 Jan 2010 19:32:40 +0000 (UTC), Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> wrote:
>Here's what I've read in the past six months, and how I liked 'em.

Thanks -- I like your lists because you've read enough stuff that I have
that I can get a sense of what your tastes are, and enough stuff that I
haven't to give me new ideas for what to read next (although in some cases
that just means making me aware that a new book by Author X is out. I love
Author X.)


--
chuk

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