November book list

The Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip: A reread of a favorite McKillip. Love Nepenthe and her library.

A Scholar of Magics by Caroline Stevermer: A reread. I expected to enjoy it a lot, as I did the first time I read it. Apparently, though, my opinions have switched as this time I liked A College of Magics considerably more!

Icefall by Matthew Kirby: A pleasant read. More here.

Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer: Not one of my favorites, but I was in a Heyer mood.

London Under by Peter Ackroyd: This had a fascinating premise: an exploration of the history under London. Unfortunately, the author’s style drove me crazy–a lot of half-baked philosophical ramblings and a lack of cohesive narrative to the book. Huge disappointment.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: Beautiful, lyrical, and haunting. More here.

The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson: I really liked the first book, which I found both believable and moving. I was less enamored of this one, partly because it takes place further in the future and so it loses that edge of almost-reality.

White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick: Creepy and well-written, but not something I exactly enjoyed.

Chime by Franny Billingsley: *happy sigh* I’m so glad this book held up to rereading! I worry about that sometimes, when I really loved a book the first time.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness: I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about this one, and I know of a number of people who have been genuinely moved by it. I don’t know if I read it on the wrong day, or what. I found it well written, and loved the way the text and illustrations tied together. But the ending seemed so obvious from the beginning that I never let myself go fully into the story.

Night Train to Memphis by Elizabeth Peters: I like rereading Vicky occasionally, and this one is definitely my favorite. Peters manages to turn several of her tropes from the previous books on their heads, in a very satisfying way.

The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge: Another one that held up to rereading–and not only that, deepened. I love Hathin and her story, and Hardinge’s beautiful writing, and the way that she talks about colonialism and race and growing up deftly and surely.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin: A classic children’s mystery. I didn’t really remember the solution, but enjoyed the whole thing a lot. It strikes me as interesting, in the midst of this raging debate about age and the Newbery, how adult both this and Mixed Up Files are–not in content so much as attitude.

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi: After having read and enjoyed Zoe’s Tale, I thought I would try the first book in the series proper (Zoe’s Tale works well as a standalone, though some things from the series will be spoiled). It had a nice classic scifi-y feel to it, which I liked.

The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer: I like this one a lot, but don’t read it very often.

Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming: This gets my vote for best nonfiction book of the year. Seriously. Fleming manages to take a story which everyone knows and make it not only interesting, but sit on the edge of your seat gripping. A fascinating look in to Earhart’s life, her flaws, and her influence on the world at large.

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton: I’m sort of a lazy fan of Kate Beaton, which is to say that when I remember I go look at her new comics, but I don’t have the site in my Google Reader (which is my favorite Google feature, by the way). Still, when I saw this sitting on the new nonfiction shelf at work, I grabbed it immediately, and giggled a lot.

Steampunk! ed. by Kelly Link: I have sort of a mixed history with both anthologies and steampunk. I WANT to like them! But with anthologies, so often they are uneven, and with steampunk so often I am annoyed by the ahistoricalness of it. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this anthology! Not only did it seem cohesive and remarkably even, it had a wide range of styles and settings which helped to keep the stories from melting together. I had favorites, but overall, I was happy with the result.

Enthralled ed. by Melissa Marr: A YA anthology, which I read mostly for Sarah Rees Brennan’s vampire boyband story. Ah, I giggled, but I was also touched. And…I know I read the rest of the book, but I don’t remember any of the stories!

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear: A former nurse in WWI turns detective. I liked it and found the characters compelling, but was bothered by a touch of modernity at times. I know that after the war was when all kinds of things changed, but I wasn’t quite convinced by the period-ness of it.

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper: EEEEE! So much love! More here.

The Murders of Richard III by Elizabeth Peters: A classic British house party mystery about a bunch of Ricardians! By Elizabeth Peters! How could I possibly resist? Lovely, though Daughter of Time remains my favorite Richard anything ever.

Sylvester by Georgette Heyer: A definite favorite, for the lovely characters, as well as the description of the trials of a young author. Mostly, though, I just like Phoebe and Sylvester, who fall into my favorite categories of Heyer heroes and heroines.

Hunting the Five by Maria Violante: Not quite my cup of tea. More here.

Thornyhold by Mary Stewart: I was much more caught by this than I generally am by Stewart. I think the touch of magic added a sense of wonder that deepened the whole thing. Also, I did not completely disbelieve the whole romance. So, you know, that helped.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland by Catherynne Valente: I read this before it was a physical book, and I wanted to see what I thought of the codex version. I liked it, because I love Valente’s work. But I have to say, I missed the excitement of reading the story on my computer screen and realizing it was really good. And, *hides* I’m not such a huge fan of the illustrations. I know a lot of people love them, but they weren’t how I pictured the world of the characters.

The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie by Tanya Lee Stone: An interesting examination of the history of the doll and the culture surrounding her, both supportive and reactive. I felt more like it was an academic paper trying to be a nonfiction book, though. And Stone never seemed to quite clarify her position. I realize she was trying to be clear to both sides, but it just came across as a bit muddled.

The FitzOsbornes in Exile by Michelle Cooper: And I loved this one too! More here

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall: Third Penderwicks book, in which they go off to Maine without Rosalind. But Jeffrey is there, and it’s actually his story that really takes center stage. I appreciated the way Birdsall worked with what could have been a difficult storyline.

Bloodline by Katy Moran: I enjoyed Bloodline Rising so much, I thought I should try this one. It gave some good background, and Essa’s story is great in its own right. But in a way, I’m glad I read them in reverse order–Cai would have come across as a bit brattier if my sympathies had been with Essa. Also, I think BR is the better book. Not that Bloodline is bad at all, but Moran’s growth as a writer is clearly evident.

Liar’s Moon by Elizabeth C. Bunce: EEEEEEE! Elizabeth Bunce delivers again! Not only does she deepen the world she created in StarCrossed, she makes Werne one of the most interesting villains I can think of. PLUS AND AlSO this is a YA fantasy murder mystery. And Digger is awesome. HOWEVER, dear Elizabeth Bunce! ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME? Third book now, please?

Inside Job by Connie Willis: Willis is a great writer (well, we knew that), but I had fundamental problems with this book. I simply don’t agree with the assumption that science and rationality and logic are the basis by which everything should be judged. I mean, I wasn’t bothered by it, but when you disagree with a book’s premise as thoroughly as I do, it’s hard to really like it.

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9 Comments

Filed under bookish posts, monthly book list, reviews

9 responses to “November book list

  1. The Baronness

    In defense of Maisie Dobbs…the first book is basically backstory for the rest of the series. You don’t really get a feel for her until Birds of a Feather. I wasn’t wild about the series after book one, but I was reading them like literary crack by the time I got to Messenger of Truth. I think that choices Maisie makes in later volumes (especially regarding relationships) are handled in a historically sensitive way.

    That said, I’m also WAY more tolerant of modernity in my historical fiction than many people. To be fair, however, I read Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived Without Men after WWI (about the “surplus” women after the Great War killed a substantial portion of England’s young men) and found that many of her experiences are true-to-life.

    There’s also a fair amount of theoretically-accurate-but-realistically-far-fetched stuff in them as well. But that’s how I tend to like my fiction.

    • Maureen E

      I definitely liked it enough to keep reading the series–haven’t picked up the 2nd book because work doesn’t have it, but I’m planning to.

      I think what I was noticing was less out-and-out anachronisms or goofs and more subtle attitudes about people and situations that seemed more modern than historical. It’s a difficult road to walk, and I didn’t ever feel that Maisie was just a modern woman in period clothes. And she does have some reasons to view society differently than others. On the other hand, I always feel that that attitude only takes you so far. (Part of why I’m annoyed by most of the so-called historical/paranormal books at the moment–I’m not interested in Girl who Rejects Society. I’m interested in girls like Saundra Mitchell’s main character in Vespertine, or Violet in Haunting Violet: those who are outside society and who want to find a way in. SO much more interesting, and so much less stereotypical.)

      I just read A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd, which is a mystery taking place during the war and liked it a lot. It’ll be interesting to see how the two series unfold.

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  8. Mir geht es genauso. Mich lassen die neuen Songs vollkommen kalt und würde ohne euch DÄFC Leute auch keine Neuigkeiten mitbekommen. Die Band, wie man sie mal liebte, gibt es nicht mehr. Schade. Ich weiß nicht mal, ob ich zu den Waldbühne Konzerten soll.
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