Books I’ve Read This Year So Far

I’ve been on a bit of a tear, thanks largely due to the   Livejournal group.  I’ve always read, but never to my limit.  It’s amazing how much garbage one fritters time on, and looking back I wish (and what a waste wishing is) that I had read more, turning off the television and walking away from gaming.  

Yes, I even blame gaming.  A significant part of my teens and early twenties were spent on good ol’ fashioned pen-and-paper gaming, reading rules, playing characters, trying to run games all of which, while interesting, limited my time for reading.  As I hunt through the stacks of Chapters for the latest books and crawl through Bay’s Used Books for classics, I realize how many fantastic books I’ve missed out on.  Things like Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry books and McCaffrey’s Pern series, for examples.  

I’m also making a point to read things that, till now, I have never read before.  Literary, Historicals, Romances, Mysteries, etc., things that somtimes work for me and sometimes don’t.  I’m still mostly centered on Fantasy/Science Fiction/Non-Fiction, but if it comes recommended, I’ll give it a try.  

Anyway, here’s my list, complete with incompletes reads.  

Titles in bold I really liked, and recommend.

1.     Beggers in Spain by Nancy Kress (excellent book, excellent author)
2.     Mumbo Gumbo by Jerrilyn Farmer (funky mystery series about a catering sleuth, cute)
3.     A Secret Atlas by Michael A. Stackpole (very info-dump heavy fanstay, unfortunately)
4.     Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (absolutely wonderful historical)
5.     Foundation by Isaac Asimov (classic sf but with a very dated style, idea heavy, character light)
6.     Notes to a Science Fiction Writer by Ben Bova (very no-nonsense, very encouraging)
X.     Fallen Angel by Stephanie Bedwell-Grime (I could not get into this book, very dumb, very pointless, so it does not count for my total)
7.     The Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko (Russian urban fantasy, very good, better than the movie)
8.     Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey (so good, why didn’t I read this twenty years ago?)
9.     Dialogue by Lewis Turco (not very helpful, very dry)
10.   Beginnings, Middles and Endings by Nancy Kress (brilliant – I hunted down and purchased it after borrowing it from the library)
11.   The Last Empress by Anchee Min (a reimagining of an historical woman, a sequel to another book)
12.   Description by Monica Wood (very thoughtful, whimiscal, with great examples)
13.   Dune by Frank Herbert (the P.O.V. shifts weirded me out at first, but I loved the book)
14.   Storm Front by Jim Butcher (fun, speedy read, very fun)
15.   Conan and the People of the Black Circle by Robert Howard (very visual writer, action-oriented, good, but I could get tired of Conan)
16.   The Shining by Stephen King (good, though overly long in parts, even if they were interconnected to the plot)
17.   Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong (I was a little disappointed, given the hype, and I wish the books had been more clearly labeled as part of a series so I could have started with her Vampire books first)
18.   Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur (unapologetic erotic fantasy, very quick, very … entertaining!)
19.   Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer (there were questionable bits, IMO, but overall not bad)
20.   (20, 21, 22?) The Compleat Enchanter by Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Platt (collects three novels into one, loved it)
21.   Best New Horror #17 edited by Stephen Jones (great anthology, I’ll be looking for more edited by Jones)
22.   Thirteen, a collection of YA thrillers (um, a friend lent it to me, I read it, it was old-school YA circa 1990)
24.   The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 2006 (fabulous collection, turned me on to a number of new writers)
X.     Threads of Malice by Tamara Siler Jones (stopped reading half way through, didn’t like it)
25.   Brown Girl In The Ring by Nalo Hopkinson (wow … really good, I will hunt down her other works)
26.   The Wreck of the River of Stars by Michael Flynn (heavy, hard sf that’s firmly rooted in the characters’ inner lives)
27.   Kissing Sin by Keri Arthur (another erotic fantasy, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first, repetitive)
28.   Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town by Cory Doctorow (delightful urban fairy tale)
29.   Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb (how have I managed to miss Hobb all these years?  Great book!)
30.   The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (fantastic, deserves every award he’s won)
31.   Goldfinger by Ian Flemming (good, straight forward style, some 50s racism to contend with)
32.   The Tomb and Other Stories by H.P. Lovecraft (went from the dull to the wonderous to the racist … man of his times)
33.   The King of the Castle by Victoria Holt (a 60s thriller set in a French chateau, excellent P.O.V.)
34.   Sharpe’s Rifles by Bernard Cornwell (somewhere in the middle of the Sharpe series, it was okay)
35.   Description and Setting by Ron Rozelle (good advice, though I feel his points on genre writing were lacking)
35.   Ancestor by Scott Sigler (a podiobook, I’m cheating, but very enjoyable – I think I’d prefer reading it, though – too many characters to follow by ear alone)
36.   The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay (another ‘why didn’t I read this 20 years ago?’ book, excellent!)
37.   Elements of Style by Strunk and White (classic, can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read it)

The Tamara Siler Jones book was one of those ‘stealth series’ titles – i.e., it’s not the first in the series, but the publisher does its damnest to disguise that from the potential buyer.  Not only did I get Book Two, it was aweful.  I got half way through and felt like burning it.  Not only do we have a typical vanilla fantasy world with magic, we have ‘forensic detectives’ that collect evidence in baggies at crime scenes, inexplicably find tiny clues in the pitch black of a midnight storm, who don’t use magic themselves, on the trail of a killer who rapes and tortured young boys and men to capture their souls for some darker purpose.  How much darker can you get from this?   Blarg.  Horrible little book.

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