2008 in books, part two

Part one here.

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb. I can’t quite decide if I liked this book or not but it certainly stuck with me. And the writing was excellent. Some adultish content.

The Other Wind, Tales From Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin. Two new books about Earthsea. Both of them are very worthy additions to the series. And Tales from Earthsea is worth reading just for the introduction.

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. My first Neil Gaiman. I enjoyed it a lot—more than either Fragile Things or American Gods (which I didn’t finish). Definitely some adult content.

Larklight by Philip Reeve. A wild, wonderful book which includes giant spiders in space, a house named Larklight, and space pirates. All set in an alternate Victorian universe. Great fun. I need to get a copy of the sequel, Starcross.

The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages. A beautiful, thoughtful YA novel about the community of scientists at Los Alamos during World War II. Told from the point of view of two young girls, it brings up big, serious questions without ever feeling preachy or impossible.

A Tiny Step Away from Deepest Faith by Marjorie Corbman. The journey of a teenager from a sort of pantheism into Orthodoxy. Simply but very well told.

Farthing by Jo Walton. Set in an alternate universe where Britain made peace with Hitler’s Germany. Jews are mildly persecuted. It combines the atmosphere of a good 1940’s-50’s murder mystery with a chilling depiction of what might have happened. Really wonderful book, with some adult content.

The Doors of the Sea by David Bentley Hart. An examination of the problem of evil in the world from an Orthodox perspective. I found it very persuasive. Personally, I would like to see a few more citations from the early Fathers, to round out the picture from an Orthodox point of view. But overall, an excellent explanation.

Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card. These were all amazing. I started Xenocide, the third in the Ender series and found it much less so. Of course, it was also finals week. At any rate, these three books are all fascinating and complex and beautiful.

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall. A children’s book which reminded me of the Melendy series by Elizabeth Enright and the Bastable series by E. Nesbit. Excellent, even more so than the first book (The Penderwicks).

Chalice by Robin McKinley. I loved this book, which I think you probably already know. Of course, it’s by Robin McKinley, who is right up there on my grand list of Favorite Authors. But it’s also a lovely story of hope and struggle in the face of overwhelming odds. And it has bees. Several people have complained that it ended a little quickly, and I can see that. But I loved it so much overall that I didn’t mind that as much.

Patricia McKillip. One of my new discoveries. She kept getting recommended so I thought I should check out her books. And lo, they are many and wonderful. She often has this extreme dream-like quality to her writing and stories which I really love. I could easily see this turning some people off, however, so she probably isn’t for everyone. My favorites follow:

The Changeling Sea
Alphabet of Thorn
The Book of Atrix Wolfe
Harrowing the Dragon
The Riddle-master of Hed, Heir of Sea and Fire, Harpist in the Wind
Ombria in Shadow
Winter Rose

Dragonfield by Jane Yolen. Short stories by Jane Yolen. I don’t think I’ve read anything by her since middle school, but I got this book semi-accidentally during my read-through of Patricia McKillip because she (Patricia McKillip, that is) wrote the introduction. A good short story collection is a wonderful thing, and that’s exactly what this one is.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Well, technically I didn’t read this. But I listened to Neil Gaiman read it, and that was just as good, if not better. I loved lots of things about it, one being that Silas’ full identity is never revealed. I mean, you’re given lots of hints, but Gaiman never actually comes out and says it. If you know that particular mythology you’ll pick up on it; if you don’t, you won’t lose anything. Definitely fantasy, slightly dark, entirely wonderful.

At the Corner of East and Now by Frederica Mathewes-Green. One of my new favorite books about Orthodoxy. As I said in my original review, you can read this as someone with a vague interest in Orthodoxy or you can read it as someone who’s grown up Orthodox and either way you can find something interesting and helpful in it.

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene. This is one of those embarrassing “I had to read it for school but I still loved it” books. There are lots of those in my past. At any rate, I thought this was beautiful. It wouldn’t be for everyone—it definitely deals with an adult situation—but it will go on my list of Excellent Books.

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