Tag Archives: dystopia

April 2012 book list

Books I’ve already talked about:
The List by Siobhan Vivian
The Springsweet by Saundra Mitchell
Black Heart by Holly Black
Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
A Coalition of Lions by Elizabeth Wein
Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers

Invisible Sisters by Jessica Handler: Elizabeth Wein recommended this in a recent blog post and we happened to have it in so I picked it up. It’s a rather haunted book, the memoir of a woman who lost her two sisters to medically opposite diseases. I thought it was beautifully written, thoughtful without being self-indulgent and honest about the way the family broke apart under the strain.

Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown by Maud Hart Lovelace: A childhood favorite. I said recently on Twitter that it’s hard to overstate the importance of Betsy Ray. This is the one with Mrs. Poppy and Uncle Keith. They’re all wonderful, of course, but it was a pure pleasure to re-read this one.

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan: I can’t say anything about this one until closer to the release date, but I can’t wait for everyone to be able to read it!

Green Boy by Susan Cooper: I described this to a co-worker as a multicultural environmental fantasy set in the Bahamas. Which is a fairly accurate description, but doesn’t capture the wonderful oddness of this. Cooper is familiar with the Bahamas which helps to ground the story and to keep it from feeling exploitative.

The Traitor in the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee: I thought there were only going to be three books in the series, but I was wrong! There’s a fourth! I can’t wait! As usual, Mary is awesome and James is swoony. I liked the personal connection to the mystery and the way Mary had to confront her own choices. In short, this is a great series. Read them, if you haven’t already!

After the Snow by S.D. Crockett: This book lies in the borderland between post-apocalyptic and dystopian, but it owes more to The Knife of Never Letting Go than it does to The Hunger Games. (I was also reminded of Blood Red Road, both because of the setting–they’re opposites!–and because of the narration.) It’s a skilful, troubling story, but I had a hard time finding an emotional connection to it.

The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope: Pope’s other book. I find it delightful and enjoy the way the past and present interweave. It’s more lighthearted than The Perilous Gard, but I also don’t find it has quite the commanding depth that TPG does. Still, it makes me wish, again, that Pope had written more than two books.

Midshipman Quinn omnibus by Showell Stytes: These are delightful! They’d be perfect for the kid who’s going to love Hornblower in a few years but hasn’t quite gotten there yet. With my Hornblower/Aubrey trained sensibilities, it was hard not to notice all the things that never would have happened, but that’s okay. They’re really just fun romps through the Napoleonic Wars, though the last one turns unexpectedly serious.

Winterling by Sarah Prineas
The Joys of Love by Madeleine L’Engle
Laughter on the Stairs by Beverley Nichols
The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie
Strange Bedpersons by Jennifer Crusie
gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson
Rapunzels’s Revenge by Shannon, Dean, and Nathan Hale
Calamity Jack by Shannon, Dean, and Nathan Hale


Filed under bookish posts, monthly book list, reviews

January 2012 book list

Books I’ve already talked about:
Elin’s Amerika by Marguerite De Angeli
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (and here and here). And it’s just as lovely on a re-read.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Lost by Jacqueline Davies
The Map of My Dead Pilots by Colleen Mondor
A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold
An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer (you guys, the image at the end of the Duke waiting for his aides to come in never fails to bring me to tears)
Among Others by Jo Walton (and here and here). And most definitely holds up to re-reading.
Cart and Cwidder by Diana Wynne Jones
Drowned Ammet by Diana Wynne Jones

The Spellcoats by Diana Wynne Jones
The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones

False Scent struck me this time as much less about the murder and much more about the characters.

Alchemy by Margaret Mahy: I’ve been trying to find copies of the Mahy books I haven’t read. So far, none of them have struck me quite as much as The Tricksters or The Changeover, though Alchemy was nice.

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare: So, it’s official. I prefer the Infernal Devices series to the Mortal Instruments books. BY FAR. (Did I ever tell the story about stopping in the middle of the fourth TMI book?) I actually LIKE the way the love triangle is set-up–neither of the boys is clearly actually the right one for Tessa at this point, and they all feel like real characters in their own right. I especially like that Will and Jem are, you know, friends. For the record Tessa/Jem, though I don’t think it will last.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion: This was billed as zombie romance for people who don’t like zombies–at least, that’s the impression I got from several reviews. It fell into the category of books that I appreciate but don’t love. For me, there was some kind of emotional disconnect that kept me from getting engrossed in it. I think I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Legend by Marie Lu: This book felt like the distillation of all the dystopia stereotypes. I was hopeful about it, because the Asian-American aspect sounded interesting, and there’s a sneaky street thief! But I didn’t believe in the characters or the plot and the political background didn’t work for me at all. In short, one I wanted to like and didn’t.

Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett: A re-telling of the Theseus myth. It’s nice in that the two narratives of Ariadne and Theseus worked well–distinct from each other without being overly gimmicky. And it created a compelling alternate narrative of the myth, in the way that good re-tellings do. I wasn’t completely wild about Ariadne’s epilogue, but it was a minor problem in a nice story.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu: I’d read conflicting reviews about this one, so I wasn’t sure how much I would like it. I found myself pleasantly surprised–there were some moments that didn’t work for me, but overall I really enjoyed it! I especially liked the fact that Ursu takes the inevitable Narnia comparison and explicitly addresses it in a way that makes her Snow Queen creepier. The only thing that really bothered me was the fact that Hazel, who knows her fairy tales, had apparently never heard of Hans Christian Andersen?

A Web of Air by Philip Reeve: I loooved Fever Crumb, so I was both excited and anxious about this book. I like the new world that Reeve builds, and the development of Fever’s character. I wasn’t quite as enamored of this one as I was of the first book, though, partly because the emotional heart of the first book was the London setting. Still, looking forward to the next one very much!

Light Raid by Connie Willis and Cynthia Felice: I wasn’t super wild about Water Witch, the other book I’ve read by these two authors. Light Raid, on the other hand, I really enjoyed! I liked the feeling of a futuristic World War II and kept thinking I was reading one of the Oxford books (minus the time travel). I also thought I had the plot called and then it totally surprised me! And the romance was nice as well.

Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart: A mystery on the Isle of Skye (anyone else grow up with the Skye Boat song?). It was quite creepy in an enjoyable way, and the descriptions are beautiful. I’m not sure what I think about the relationship aspect on this one.

The Red Keep by Allen French: A tale of chivalry and knighthood in medieval Burgundy. It’s a nice example of its type, but includes some self-aware moments that aren’t necessarily typical. Also, the heroine is not a damsel in distress, but she still feels of her time, so yay!

The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe: A medical thriller, of sorts. I never quite connected to the characters, I think because I had heard some of what was going to happen on Twitter (and granted, it’s pretty obvious from the beginning of the book), and so I didn’t let myself get too invested. It’s still worth reading, and I think could be sold to some dystopia fans looking for another option.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi: You guys, I really liked this book! In case it’s not clear, I’ve been very burnt-out with the dystopian genre, and I almost didn’t read this one. But I’d seen a few good reviews, so I decided to try anyway. And yay! It has the typical focus on the romance, but it wasn’t an Insta-Attraction thing, and I bought the characters and their journey and cheered for them. It also has some nice worldbuilding–Perry is actually from Outside, which is something we aren’t seeing a lot of at the moment. In short, I’m so glad I read it and I’m hoping for a sequel.

The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart: Set on Crete, this was not my favorite Stewart. The mystery/romance aspect is fine, but I just like the English books the best (Ivy Tree and Thornyhold are still my favorites). Also, there was one moment where I just had to laugh about an Orthodox detail, though in general she got the feel of things right.

Parsley Sage, Rosemary & Time by Jane Louise Curry: A nice old-fashioned time travel book, with an emphasis on the characters. I called one of the major twists about 20 pages before the characters did, but it was still fun, and I liked Rosemary’s journey from prim to wild.

Schoolhouse in the Woods by Rebecca Caudill: This book gives us Bonnie Fairchild’s first year at school, in the Kentucky hills in the early 1900s. It’s a sweet story with nice illustrations, and Caudill has an ear for the language. I do like her more adult books better as this one felt a bit thin at times.

Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny: My first Zelazny–I ended up liking it quite a lot. I could see echoes in Stardust–the princes fighting for the crown, I think. Also loved Corwin’s voice, which manages to be both distant and engaging. I wasn’t always wild about the way the tone went back and forth between very archaic and contemporary. I get what Zelazny was trying to do, but I’m not sure it always worked.

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whalley: This read like a typical Printz winner–a self-aware male narrator, a hint of bad things that might happen smoothed over by a happy resolution. It’s a fine book, but I wouldn’t personally have given it the award.

The Always War by Margaret Peterson Haddix
A Mind to Murder by P.D. James
They Do it With Mirrors by Agatha Christie
Unnatural Death by P.D. James
A Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James
Betrayal by Lee Nichols
The Sirens Sang of Murder by Sarah Caudwell
The Catalogue of the Universe by Margaret Mahy
The Will and the Deed by Ellis Peters
Shroud for a Nightingale by P.D. James
The Black Tower by P.D. James
The Big Crunch by Pete Hautman
The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
Lion in the Box by Marguerite De Angeli


Filed under bookish posts, monthly book list, reviews