triadruid: Apollo and the Raven, c. 480 BC , Pistoxenus Painter  (Default)
[personal profile] triadruid
A bit late this time but I think last year's list is complete.

Legend: bold means I've read it already, Italics means I'm working on it, and normal text means it's a potential. * means I've read it before. Previously read books/reviews are in the 'read lists' tag.
  1. Mike Carey and Vertigo Comics, Lucifer: Evensong (7, I'm not really certain what I just read...things get very abstracted here in the coda to the Lucifer series)
  2. Michael Pollan, Cooked (8.5, rambling and occasionally polemical, Pollan nevertheless takes you on a fascinating and fascinated tour of different cooking styles, chemistry/biology, food history, and his own family)
  3. Various, Naked City (4 to 8, these 'urban fantasy' stories vary wildly in quality and subject matter, but there's some charming ones here. Standouts include Peter S. Beagle taking a dark turn, and a piece about desert destruction deities falling in love.
  4. Norman Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland, Volume 2: 1795 to Present (8, still a very solid overview but his Polonophile tendencies come out very strongly at the end, which is of course set in 1982, still before the fall of the Iron Curtain. Overall very worth it though)
  5. Stephen King, 11/22/63 (8.5, this might be my favorite King since Dark Tower, he's actually written a good ending here and the entire book moves at a loving but dedicated clip, without being obvious where he's going)
  6. William Ouseley, Mobsters in Our Midst (8, quite thorough investigation of the Kansas City Outfit, covering even more time than I expected, pretty much until the present day, or at least when the author retired)
  7. Alfred Bester, The Demolished Man (8, taking it for its time period it's quite good, although the ending is a little left-field; once again it's hard to appreciate how groundbreaking a classic was when it came out)
  8. Jim Butcher, Skin Game (8, overall this is very solid but there were some moments in which it felt like this whole book was just a setup for what comes next; still a very good ride)
  9. Octavia Butler, Lilith's Brood (7, ah, intersectionality. Butler does such a good job with deconstructing racism that it is doubly jarring when she turns out to be a gender essentialist of the first order. aside from that, I think most of the 'awful' in this is intentionally trying to make you squicky, like aliens not comprehending 'consent'...)
  10. Shane Harris, The Watchers: The Rise of America's Surveillance State (9, at first this book made me want to revise our privacy laws to keep up with the times... later it makes a good case for what actually can and cannot be done currently with tech and "creative" interpretation of the law. That actually works in its favor, as it mostly avoids histrionics and presents both sides of the coin)
  11. Steve Alten, The Omega Project (5, lord save us from White Saviour Syndrome... scientific AND religious mumbo jumbo, plot salad, and an astonishingly level of sexism. I could try to describe what this is about, but it wouldn't be worth the effort)
  12. Boom Comics, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep: Dust to Dust (Vol. 1) (8, somehow this comic-book prequel manages to make a weird kind of sense both in the world of the book and of the Blade Runner movie; unfortunately it is only the start of a six-volume series)
  13. Sally Gardner, Maggot Moon (7, cute little YA book about an alternate reality in which the Nazis win and attempt a moon landing. It's kind of charmingly incoherent, since the protagonist is a severely dyslexic boy with a tenuous grasp on reality)
  14. Ted Kosmatka, The Games (8, astonishingly rapid pacing and video-game-plausible science combine for a ripping yarn about genetic engineering gone horrifically wrong - end is a little sudden and the monster really ought to have won, but otherwise few complaints)
  15. Paul Cornell, London Falling (8, pretty solid little urban fantasy/police procedural that is very cinematic and well-balanced among its diverse characters)
  16. Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea (9, wheeeeee! a classic that I actually like! I love the way he 'works' science into the story, reminds me of H.G. Wells too)
  17. Frank Herbert and Brian Herbert, Man of Two Worlds (4, an interesting idea given a very poor execution; this was written in the last year of Herbert Sr.'s life and I have no idea how much of it was his; I would hope one of the viewpoints was his and the other Brian's, but to be honest I can't tell or care. Everyone is incompetent and/or horrible and/or bizarre, and not in particularly interesting ways)
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings* (8, rereading the classic for the first time in 10+ years is interesting... the scope was all there, but several scenes had disappeared from memory; also it's been interesting to play hide-and-seek with the references Robert Jordan worked into TEOTW; I still think his pacing is too slow, though I understand it was appropriate for the time. the dialogue can also be cringeworthy in its pseudohistoricity, though likewise it was deliberate in a lot of cases according to the Appendices)
  19. Jeff VanDerMeer, The Third Bear (5-9, short story collection of weirdness and meta; as always with short fiction, some are greater than others, but overall it definitely added a new author to my New Weird roster)
  20. Brian Michael Bendis et al, Powers: Who Killed Retro Girl? (7, police procedural about superheroes; not sure whether we're going to be daring and innovative or trite and predictable yet...I'll keep reading for a minute)
  21. H. Rider Haggard, She (7, I must be on a classics jag this year... anyway there's definitely some compelling story ideas in here, with the requisite sexist and racist undertones. You can definitely see where a lot of other stories get their ideas from, as Margaret Atwood mentions in the foreword)
  22. Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (8, a classic and a children's story; I am honestly not sure if I've read this all the way through before. Liked it though)
  23. Jeff VanDerMeer, Annihilation (8.5, delightfully bizarre venture into mysteriously transformed territory; VanDerMeer has an eye for the bizarre and unsettling, but delivers it in a beautifully engaging way)
  24. Jeff VanDerMeer, Authority (8, differently weird novel from the 'other side of the story', talking about the concomitant disintegration back at base camp)
  25. Larry Niven and Matthew Joseph Harrington, The Goliath Stone (6.5, two decent stories about nanotech and Planet Killer rocks, mashed together into one big sexist mess by one of the 'old white men' of SF. Sigh.)
  26. Jeff VanDerMeer, Acceptance (7.5, what in the hell did I just read? VanDerMeer continues to be engagingly bizarre and a wizard at constructing mental landscapes, but there really isn't a 'conclusion' to this book/series, just a poetic coda... this one's also about as long as the first two combined, but you don't mind because he just keeps pulling you deeper down the rabbit hole topographical anomaly)

Date: 2015-02-18 01:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I really like Michael Pollan's writing style. Very conversational.

Classics are awesome.

LOTR -- the unabridged audio books (Rob Inglis narration) make the dialogue much more tolerable. And you get to hear all the songs. Tom Bombadil remains my favorite character despite being left out of the Jackson movie. I love that he actually picks up the One Ring and hands it back to Frodo, completely unaffected, because, what does nature care about the world of men? And I love the barrow wight bit...

Date: 2015-02-18 08:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Last year you didn't like any books. Now you like all the books. Improved reading list or improved attitude?

I can't remember if I read Naked City or not. If I haven't, I'd probably like to. What's in it?
Edited Date: 2015-02-18 08:13 pm (UTC)

Date: 2015-02-19 03:42 am (UTC)
ext_3038: Red Panda with the captain "Oh Hai!" (Default)
From: [identity profile]
Better list, I think; you'll note that most of my dislikes this year seem to be from Older White Dudes (not all White Dude fiction is bad, but...).

Naked City was the one that included Harry Dresden and the Chicago Cubs Curse. It also had the story about rock monsters... it was a library pick but I thought I lent it to you before returning. You might have been engrossed in something else though.
Edited Date: 2015-02-19 03:43 am (UTC)

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