just a bear whose intentions are good (two_star) wrote,
just a bear whose intentions are good

Books read in 2012, part 1

I was inspired by some people's end of the year books read posts, so I started taking notes on my own books read. A bunch of non-fiction I read didn't make it onto this list because I skim around a lot when I read non-fiction, so a lot of times I end up reading 3/4 of a book and not feeling comfortable about saying that I've read the whole thing. Likewise, I tend not to read complete anthologies and short story collections, although this time I have Egan and Chiang collections as exceptions to the rule. This posts covers my readings roughly through the end of June. I'll try to keep doing these about every six months.

Carla Speed McNeil — Finder: Voice
The first volume in the Grosvenor family arc since Talisman. (I'd suggest reading this arc starting with Talisman, then continuing with Sin Eater and Voice. The other Finder volumes are all stand-alones, and can be read in any order.) Finder is an excellent, thoughtful science fiction graphic novel series. If there are any others out there, I'd like to know.

Mercedes Lackey — Changes
It's not a good sign when my strongest feeling coming out of a book is disappointment that the series isn't over. I don't know why I keep reading these.

Jo Walton — Ha'penny
I think it had to be hard to follow up on Farthing. Farthing took the forms of the cozy upper-class British mystery as its starting point, and then upended them. After that, it's hard to be as surprised again. This was still good, but I won't make you read it. I will make you read Farthing though.

The Accidental President of Brazil — Fernando Henrique Cardoso with Brian Winter
I've been negligent when it comes to reading up on modern Latin American history, which is something I really need to do something about, seeing as how I'm a product of it, having been born in Brazil with a Cuban father. If there's a moral here in the story of modern Brazil, it's that democracy isn't something you can take for granted. It can be taken away by those who would prey on people's fears. But by the same token, it can be restored if people are willing to work and fight for it. It seems to me that this is a moral that is quite applicable to the United States in 2012.

Kate Elliott — Shadow Gate
Kate Elliott — Traitors' Gate

The conclusion to the best fantasy trilogy I've read in a long time. (Possibly ever; I can think of better individual fantasy novels, but no series that holds to such a high standard for exactly three consecutive volumes. Rothfuss will probably beat this out once volume 3 of the Kingkiller Chronicle is released.)

David Graeber — Debt: The First 5000 Years
A wide spanning history of the nexus of debt, coercion, slavery, violence and morality. Sometimes it gets away from its anthropological and historical grounding and makes generalizations that are slightly questionable, but this is nevertheless essential reading for its look into where debt and the moral systems around it come from.

Lois McMaster Bujold — The Curse of Chalion
I read and loved her Miles Vorkosigan space opera novels. But I was out of those and wanted some more Bujold, and hey, there's her fantasy oeuvre. And it's good too!

Brandon Sanderson — Mistborn
The action sequences felt a bit videogamey. And the setup that one person in a million randomly gets all of the special powers is an invitation to Mary Sue-ish character building. Otherwise, I liked it.

James Gleick — The Information
If nothing else, read the bit near the beginning about the talking drums.

Kate Elliott — The King's Dragon
There are 6 more of these. This was good enough that I would gladly have signed up for two more. But 6 more? Nah, I think I'll stop here.

Seanan McGuire — Discount Armageddon
I think I'm going to like this series better than her October Daye books. There's a real sense that this was as much fun for the author as it is for the reader, which is nice to see in an urban fantasy.

Adam Troy-Castro — Emissaries from the Dead
A very good science fiction mystery.

Greg Egan — Dark Integers
Mathy SF stories.

Greg Rucka — Queen and Country Definitive Edition, Volume 3
Graphic novels about a more realistic, female James Bond. My only complaint is that every individual graphic novel (these volumes each collect two or three) has a new artist with a sufficiently individual style that I have trouble recognizing the characters from one novel to the next.

Lois McMaster Bujold — Brothers in Arms (reread)
I've been rereading the Miles Vorkosigan series on my Kindle, since you can get most of it for free.

Jane Austen — Pride and Prejudice (reread)
Jane Austen — Persuasion
There's a reason P&P is the famous one.

K. J. Parker — The Company
... I ... I can't say I wasn't warned about K. J. Parker. So now let me warn you: don't read K. J. Parker if you don't want horrible things to happen to characters.

Naomi Novik — Tongues of Serpents
Temeraire volume 6. This one got panned for not having enough happen. And I can see that, but personally, I can accept having a smaller story between the big world-changing ones. It helps that I got this one from the library instead of paying for it.

Ted Chiang — Stories of Your Life and Others
Even when Ted Chiang is doing fantasy, he's doing SF, in terms of rigorous extrapolation from a big central idea. And even when he's doing SF, it has a fantasy feel, in terms of the story serving its emotional core rather than displaying an idea for its own sake. There's a combination of poignant character moments and cool narrative distance. And occasionally, a touch of Borges.

Greg Egan: The Clockwork Rocket
More Mathy SF, in a universe with an alternate form of relativity. This is a weird book. Sometimes it feels like Egan doesn't so much even try to write believable characters as work out from first principles what sentient beings other than himself must be like. This is not as terrible as it might seem in a story about beings with biologies very different from our own.

K. J. Parker — Purple and Black
K. J. Parker does this weird thing where we're in a fantasy-historical setting (in this case alt-Byzantium) but everybody talks in modern slang, which takes some getting used to, since that's not the typical register in fantasy-historical fiction.
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Have only read Farthing for Jo Walton so far; she was GOH at local convention last year, or I wouldn't have gotten around to that yet.

Have you seen me post about my Vorkosigan saga reread blog (vorkosiread.wordpress.com)? I'm almost up to Brothers In Arms...

I've only read Jaran and the next book in that series for Kate Elliott (and, I suppose, the Golden Key three-way collaboration, which wasn't great), and I don't think I even have any of her fantasy yet. Maybe I'll have to change that.

I haven't read any Seanan McGuire yet, though my wife does keep nagging me. I'm in the middle of about twelve other urban fantasy series right now...