Archive for April, 2011

book notes: NOT OUT YET

Embassytown, China Mieville, May ’11: as you know, i am a great big squee’ing fangirl for this guy. and the new book is his best yet (and i’ve verified this with bookavore, so you know it must be true). space! the future! strange species! politics! linguistics! UH MAZ ING. also, he will be in NYC in June and we are presenting an event with him (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and you can buy tickets here.

You Believers, Jane Bradley, May ’11: this book was hard to read. it makes me wonder if we’re not in some kind of Season of Missing Girls (see also: Coffins of Little Hope, The Fates Will Find Their Way) — the main character is a woman who specializes in helping families with missing loved ones (she’s not a kidnapping negotiator or anything, more of a cross between a community organizer and a police consultant) and she’s called in on a case of a missing woman in her 20s. a dark and uncomfortable read, pretty well done on the whole.

Turn of Mind, Alice LaPlante, July ’11: another tough read. a woman, a brilliant hand surgeon, with early onset Alsheimer’s is suspected of murder, and even she doesn’t know if she is guilty. what makes this novel both so good and so difficult is that it’s written in journal entries from the main character. so the narrative is fragmented, twisted, and wiggly — sometimes she knows what’s going on, sometimes she doesn’t. the ending particularly, OOOF.

Feynman, Ottaviani & Myrick, Aug. ’11: this is a fun one. biography of yes, THAT Feynman, Richard Feynman, told in graphic novel form. if you’ve already read a lot of his work (i haven’t) you’ll probably recognize the materials they are drawing from, but i think you’d still enjoy this. a fun narrative structure, some very interesting work in terms of subtext in the images. there’s even some physics, if that floats your boat!

The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern, Sept ’11: i LOVED this book. i think it’s going to be the next Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell — it has that same lit-fiction/spec-fiction crossover appeal (and is about 1/4 the page count). gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. two magicians, raised specifically to combat each other, fall in love as their duel plays itself out in the grounds of a circus that masquerades as ordinary but is anything but. LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT.

book notes: READ ‘EM NOW

note: i know some of y’all don’t have access to advance copies of books, and i know myself how frustrating it is when someone raves about a book you can’t read for months and months. so! i’m going to divide book notes into “read ‘em now” and “not out yet” posts so that you can willfully ignore advance reviews at your leisure.

also: DAMN i read a lot of books since i last posted one of these. i am going to try to get on a weekly schedule, but no promises.

Magic Bites
, Ilona Andrews: it’s a good thing i found this series, because i’m all caught up with the Dresden/Butcher novels and i need more mental crack. Kate Daniels is the female Harry Dresden: crotchety, violent, and magical. WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED???

The Coffins of Little Hope, Timothy Schaffert: this was a good ‘un — narrator is an elderly alcoholic obituary writer/grandmother, there’s a book-in-the-book that is some kind of cross between Harry Potter and Lemony Snickett, and the plot goes unexpected places. small town drama, and also an interesting examination of how we fetishize the missing (see also: Hannah Pittard’s The Fates Will Find Their Way)

Prelude to a Scandal, Delilah Marvelle: Regency romance novel in which the male lead is a sex addict and the female is the daughter of a noted anthropologist (and dad has been thrown into jail for proposing that buggery be made legal in England based on his observation of chimps). FOR SERIOUS. by turns wacky, sexy, and “awwwwwwww!”

Wench, Dolen Perkins Valdez: four slave women meet at a resort for white men and their “wenches” in the free state of Ohio just before the Civil War. will they make a run for it? why/why not? moving and fascinating; based on an actual historical resort. also, paperback!

The Half-Made World, Felix Gilman: there was a lot of all-caps raving about this on twitter. YES IT IS THAT GOOD. deserves its Ursula K Le Guin blurb and more. Wild West fantasy with some slight steampunk undertones. so incredibly good that it is joining GONE-AWAY WORLD as some of my all-time favorite speculative fiction novels. YES IT IS THAT GOOD.

Revolution, Deb Olin Unferth: memoir; 18-year-old Deb and her 21-year-old boyfriend go down to Central America in the ’80s to join the revolution. and are a complete disaster. funny in the “oh my GOD, how did you live through this?” way. Unferth is a born storyteller.

The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine, Alina Bronsky: this is Europa’s 100th book, and they’re excited about it. they should be — it’s excellent. first-person narration by one of the most self-absorbed women you could ever hope to meet, trying by hook/crook to get her daughter and granddaughter out of Russia. funny, vaguely horrifying, absorbing. (NOTE: this is out at the END of April, but close enough!)

Gotham Central, Greg Rucka: what’s life like for a cop in Gotham City? a police procedural that takes you behind the scenes, with occassional cameos by Bats and his foes. gritty and dark, a good pick for Law & Order/Sin City junkies as well as caped crusade fans.

The Kitchen Daughter, Jael McHenry: a woman with undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome loses her parents and fights with her sister about what happens next in their lives. also, she accidentally discovers she can summon ghosts by cooking. affecting and well-told; plus if you are a foodie you will die of happy over the recipes involved. completely manages to avoid being gimmicky, which is a SERIOUS feat.

Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer: Foer goes from being an average forgetful schmoe to a competitor in the U.S. Memory Championships (which are a thing! who knew?). yes, he is related to JSF. i liked this — it was interesting, and also confirmed what i always suspected: memory tricks are more work than their worth.

Earl of Darkness, Alix Rickloff: Regency paranormal romance. weird magical languages! Arthurian overtones! societal constraints! sexy sex!

The Color of Earth, Dong Hwa Kim: graphic novel of life in a contemporary Korean village, centering around a single mother and her growing daughter. coming-of-age, lovely art, very subtle.

Desperate Duchesses, Eloisa James: what’s that, you ask? am i on a Regency romance kick? i have no idea what you’re talking about. this one brings the sassy.

Invincible, Vol. 1, Robert Kirkman: teenaged superheroes! it’s interesting to read Kirkman do something aside from Walking Dead, which is my only other experience with him to date. more fun, less didactic.

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