riontel: (Default)
[personal profile] riontel
Ratings are based on the Goodreads scale of 5 stars.

1. Sundiver (The Uplift Saga #1), David Brin (2/5)
Firstly, the writing was atrocious, choppy and disjointed, with long-winded repetitive and redundant descriptions of things that didn't need to be described at all. Secondly, it was internally inconsistent, with people's (and aliens') motivations and behaviors akin to those of dimwitted kindergarteners. Thirdly, the hierarchical structure of the galaxy and humans' position in it made no sense whatsoever. And don't even start me on the lame love story.

2. Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, #2), Jim Butcher (2/5)
My second and likely last attempt at the Dresden Files. Too many cliches piled on top of each other and Dresden himself is just too irritatingly self-righteous, self-pitying, tragically misunderstood and plain dumb.

3. A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time, #14), Robert Jordan, Brendon Sanderson (5/5)
Conclusion to the longest series I've ever gotten into, I remember reading it while in school, in the 90s! It's a good final book and I am glad and grateful that the series is finally finished, it did manage to tie up most of the loose ends, most, but not all. The ending itself complete with the monumental battle and the whole world involved was impactful… Yet, I felt that something was lacking. It wasn't as tight as I would have liked. I missed the "where are they now" type of epilogue. I didn't like the way Rand ended up, what's up with switching bodies, isn't that the providence of the Dark One? I didn't like that Seanchan were the ones to basically save the day at the Field of Merrilor, why would Mat let the rest of the world take the brunt of the loses, it doesn't make sense. The description of the last battle lacked the uplift of Lan's stand at the Gap, when the other Borderland armies joined his "last" assault. A bit less of the minutiae of the individual battle of minor characters and more concentration on the major characters would be nice. I am somewhat nitpicking and the lack of a satisfying epilogue is the only really truly major complaint I have. I want to know how they all ended up explicitly.
On a plot unrelated note, I am not usually a stickler for stylistic purity but homogeneous (!), really?

4. The Last Guardian (Artemis Fowl, #8), Eoin Colfer (3/5)
It better be the last book in the series. Boundaries of plausibility have been stretched to tearing point, the world has been destroyed and it's about time Artemis rode into the sunset.

5. Two Brothers, Ben Elton (5/5)
Reviewed here.

6. Irregulars, Anthology

7. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn (3/5)
Psychological suspense. First part was a bit slow but that was part of the grand plan. It's well written, though I personally didn't enjoy it much, even a possibility of existence of such people gives me the creeps.

8. Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet, Andrew Blum (3/5)
Reviewed here.

9. Pattern Recognition (Blue Ant, #1), William Gibson (4/5)
This is not Neuromancer. Gibson departs quite a ways from his cyberpunk origins to explore yet another subculture of his invention. It's not a complete stretch, we already have viral advertising and it's easy to imagine how large agencies exploit and create popular trends out of obscure hidden sources. It's not a straight out sci-fi but has a slightly futuristic feel to it. Continued in Spook Country and Zero History.

10. Ready Player One, Ernest Cline (4/5)
Reviewed here.

11. Spook Country (Blue Ant, #2), William Gibson (3/5)
I like the style of telling multiple disparate stories that gradually converge to reveal the full shape of a story but this one produced too little payoff. Too much focus on insignificant details, or details whose significance escaped me, with not enough action. Perhaps the last book in the series will add a missing dimension.

12. Zero History (Blue Ant, #3), William Gibson (3/5)
More weird marketing/advertising related adventures. Too much intrigue for a pair of jeans, in my opinion. Just not worth the payoff.

13. The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography, Simon Singh (4/5)
According to both N. and [ profile] a_lazy_legend we had to read this for one of our courses in school, but since I was a slacker through all my school years I never bothered to. It's actually a very good and well written summary of cryptography through the ages, including famous Enigma, Rosetta Stone, and Linear B stories.

14. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak (4/5)
Somehow this year I ended up reading three very different books which touched on the subject of WWII and Holocaust each in its own unique way. This one tells the story of an orphan German girl living with her foster parents just before and all through the war, told from an unexpected point of view of understandably morbid and often sardonic Death. It's very intricately written. My only complaint was all the "foreshadowing" which I dislike and usually find to be an unnecessary and trite literary tool. This is such an unusual and compelling book, though, that I forgive it its internal spoilers even if I still think it could have done without them. There is a movie now as well, but I haven't seen it.

15. Космобиолухи, Ольга Громыко, Андрей Уланов (2/5)
Unfavorably reviewed here.

16. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, David Mitchell (4/5)
Reviewed here.

17. Revelation Space (Revelation Space #1), Alastair Reynolds (4/5)
Involved and complex sci-fi. Space opera with creative world building and multidimensional characters. Not any sort of light reading but worth the mental effort required.

18. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (4/5)
Heartbreaking. Very well written. Not anything like his better known Jews on Alaska (The Yiddish Policemen's Union) but more interesting and unusual, in my opinion.

19-22. The Ware Tetralogy (Software, Wetware, Freeware, Realware), Rudy Rucker (3/5)
Reviewed here.

23. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan (4/5)
Reviewed here.

24. The Ghost Brigades (Old Man's War #2), John Scalzi (4/5)
Sci-fi. Super soldiers, space wars, aliens, technologies of the bleeding edge. Great rollicking fun, until somebody loses, well, his memories. Follow up to the Old Man's War, and just as good, so if you liked that one (and if you haven't read it, definitely start there), you should like The Ghost Brigades.

25. Without a Summer (Glamourist Histories #3), Mary Robinette Kowal (3/5)
Third in the Regency fantasy world of glamours and intrigue. Easy light fun read, though plots are getting somewhat too convoluted and improbable.

26-30. Parasol Protectorate (Soulless, Changeless, Blameless, Heartless, Timeless), Gail Carriger (3-4/5)
Reviewed here.

31. Dream Boy, Jim Grimsley
Weird and not in any good way.

32. The Boys on the Rock, John Fox

33. A Single Man, Christopher Isherwood (4/5)
Has a very good movie to go with it, if you prefer visuals. The book is melancholy and sad, with that atmosphere that makes you feel like you are drowning in the words and losing yourself in the world they evoke. The ending is a bit less definitive than the movie.

34. Etiquette and Espionage (Finishing School #1), Gail Carriger (4/5)
Sort of a prequel to Parasol Protectorate books. Set in the same steampunk universe. Great fun.

35. Hero, Perry Moore

36. Boy Meets Boy, David Levithan
Way too campy for my tastes. Hate camp.

37. The Berlin Stories: The Last of Mr. Norris & Goodbye to Berlin, Christopher Isherwood (4/5)
Isherwood created (or described?) such a panopticon of revoltingly vile characters in his stories that one wonders why he bothered to stay in Berlin for as long as he did. Then again, there is no accounting for taste and he might have enjoyed the experience.

38. The Convenient Marriage, Georgette Heyer (3/5)
Regency romance. Not the best of Heyer. I found it difficult to believe that even in that day and age somebody so brainlessly naive could have existed.

39. What Angels Fear (A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery #1), C. S. Harris (3/5)
Reviewed here.

40. The Custom of the Army, A Plague of Zombies, Hellfire (Lord John Series), Diana Gabaldon (3/5)
Three short novelettes/stories from Outlander universe featuring Lord John Grey and originally written for various anthologies. These feel in the lacunas left in the timelines by the larger novels. I liked The Custom of the Army the best, the other two seemed too far fetched and a bit more abrupt than even the format of a short story would warrant.

41-47. A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery #2 - 8 (When Gods Die, Why Mermaids Sing, Where Serpents Sleep, What Remains of Heaven, Where Shadows Dance, When Maidens Mourn, What Darkness Brings), C. S. Harris (4/5)
Reviewed here.

48-49. Julian Kestrel Mysteries #1 - 2 (Cut to the Quick, A Broken Vessel), Kate Ross (3/5)
Read while still on a kick of Regency Murder Mysteries. Had to stop after the first two books, firstly, because these weren't as good as Harris's series and, secondly, because I got a bit tired of the genre.

50. The Voyage of the Sable Keech (Spatterjay #2), Neal Asher (3/5)
Set in Polity universe, we are back to planet Spatterjay of The Skinner. Same characters and a lot more of Spatterjay's weird fauna. Very detailed and complex world building but the only characters I found compelling enough in a world of immortals and undead were one very clever Sail and one very droll Drone.

51-52. Dr. Laszlo Kreizler Mysteries (The Alienist, The Angel of Darkness), Caleb Carr (3/5)
Historical murder mysteries. Reviewed here.

53. The Book of All Hours (Vellum), Hal Duncan (3/5)
Fantasy. Angels vs. demons, but not good vs. evil, because angels are not any better than demons in their methods. Lots of Babilonian and Accadian mythology. Weird and convoluted in that "modern" non-linear looped back on itself kind of way, which to me came across as forced and contorted. There is a sequel, Ink, which I tried to get through but just couldn't.

54. Sh*t My Dad Says, Justin Halpern (3/5)
Variously amusing collection of the author father's pithy comments (as you can probably guess from the title). Originated as a blog and was good to entertain me on a long flight.

55. The Hanover Square Affair (Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries #1), Ashley Gardner (3/5)
Boring, formulaic and cliched.

56. The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri (4/5)
Story of a Bengali family settled in Boston, well written culture and generations clash which should be close to the heart of any immigrant, regardless of the country of origin. Very well written. I got an extra kick out of it thanks to N. and his folks.

57. Harvard Square, André Aciman (3/5)
An unlikely story of an insecure, self-doubting, trying to assimilate to his new surrounding Egyptian Jew, Harvard graduate student, befriending an abrasive, expansive, womanizing Tunisian Arab cab driver. It would have been more compelling if I could bring myself to care about any of the characters or their actions, or, at least, if their actions made any sense to me. The prose is good but the story it tells is flat.

58. The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton (4/5)
A mystery spanning generations and continents. Nicely interwoven stories of three women, their connection to each other and to the one center mystery that started it all. I wasn't happy with the notion of somebody believing their whole concept of self is fully dependent on where they come from, finding out you are adapted should not completely disintegrate your identity unless you didn't possess your own identity to begin with. But once I got past that, the book was lovely and well written.

59. Curtsies and Conspiracies (Finishing School #2), Gail Carriger (4/5)
Sophronia's adventures at the Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality continue in the steampunky werewolf and vampire infested world of high flying intrigue and good manners.

60. Killing Floor (Jack Reacher #1), Lee Child (3/5)
Reviewed here.

61. My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park, Steve Kluger (4/5)
I like Steve Kluger. He is so refreshingly and effervescently upbeat and optimistic, bordering on schmaltzy, really, but in such an endearingly open and genuine manner that you can't help but go along with it, even when you are a misanthropic and dour individual such as myself. I like the format of his books as well, letters, essays, diary entries, etc. that combine into a more or less plausible story. His children are always precocious, his adults are reasonable and understanding, and life, while not always rosy, is still meaningful and rewarding. Think of it as a modern day fairy tale with a healthy dollop of baseball.

62. The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion, Fannie Flagg (3/5)
Doesn't live up to the Fried Green Tomatoes and I would have given it 3.5 if Goodreads allowed fractions. Touches on the same subject as The Forgotten Garden of not knowing who you are when you suddenly find out your origins were not what you've been told, but in this case with a lot more reason for the confusion and uncertainty. The way this confusion and uncertainty is portrayed, goofy and slapsticky, is what I didn't much care for. It's meant to be a blend of drama and comedy, I just wish it went lighter on the comedy, that would have made it a lot more compelling. I do recommend it, though, for the story of Jurdabralinski family and the history of WWII WASPs.

63. The Lost Language of Cranes, David Leavitt (2/5)
I just found the writing too pretentious and the characters boring, couldn't care about any of it.

64. Life Lessons, Kaje Harper (3/5)
Murder mystery.

65. Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett (5/5)
Read it after seeing a production with Partic Stewart and Ian McKellen. Went to see it because of Steward and McKellen but the play itself turned out to be brilliant. That rare case, for me, when I can actually appreciate something that's considered a classic. Usually I just don't get what all the hoopla is about. But Beckett's play was a revelation and a find of the year for me. And if you haven't seen the play yet, absolutely do, it's amazing.

66. Like Coffee and Doughnuts (Dino Martini Mysteries, #1), Elle Parker (2/5)
A rather simplistic murder mystery.

67. The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastard, #3), Scott Lynch (3/5)
According to Goodreads there are many more of these planned but while this installment wasn't bad at all it's probably going to be the last one I will pick up. It's getting too convoluted and the charm of this particular clever, devious but lovable scoundrels is quickly fading for me.

68. Breakfast at Tiffany's, Truman Capote (4/5)
Since Waiting for Godot worked out so well for me I decided to tackle another classic. Not that I am comparing Capote and Beckett, mind you. It turned out to be one of the cases when classic label is a mystery. It's not a bad book, don't get me wrong, I liked it just fine, but I don't understand what made it so famous other than Audrey Hepburn, who, I read, Capote didn't even approve of. Maybe you had to be at the right time and at the right place to truly appreciate it? I am probably missing something but I didn't think either the writing or the story were extraordinary. Good but not great.

69. 84, Charing Cross Road, Helene Hanff (4/5)
Reviewed here.

70. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace (5/5)
Now, here is an extraordinary book. Thanks to [ profile] ingwall's friend for mentioning it at his party, it's not something I was likely to have picked up on my own. The richness and complexity of the plot, characters, language, the importance and intricacy of details were just staggering. It's not a book that can be compared to any other, at least as far as anything I've ever read. It's uniquely layered, brutal, and certainly not for the faint of heart.

71. Richard III, William Shakespeare
Read this before attending the play, just to make sure I could follow the action on stage. Have to note that this is normally performed abridged, so the original has some characters and scenes that are usually not present in live productions. Shakespeare's Richard sure is a vile character but without that where would be the drama? And there is way too much prophesying and cursing going on, no wonder some of it gets cut out. It's what you expect from Shakespeare and one of his more famous plays, intrigue, murder, drama and everybody dies at the end, though it's somewhat lacking in the more impactful soliloquy department, something on the level with Hamlet, Macbeth or even Julius Caesar.

72. Blind Justice (Sir John Fielding #1), Bruce Alexander (3/5)
Historical murder mystery. A bit old fashioned in plot and writing but an interesting setting and based on the historical John Fielding, London magistrate of the 18th century, who along with his brother founded the famous Bow Street Runners.

Date: 2014-01-02 01:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'll have to come back to this list once I am done with the Magic Shit Cycle (tm) I am re-reading currently. :)

Re: the Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries - is there a significant arc to the series? Does he end up with the progressive-emancipated-kinda-bi-hate-at-first-sight girl? :) I started the fourth book and kinda got distracted.

Date: 2014-01-02 03:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeh, they do end up together, as if there was any doubt they would, but there was a twist as to why or how. Sometimes I wish people would stop sticking love stories into everything, like, say, murder mysteries.


riontel: (Default)

December 2016

1819202122 2324

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Oct. 23rd, 2017 07:49 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios