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Seven Good Books - Qualified Perceptions
Seven Good Books
Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story (by Leonie Swann)
A flock of sheep investigates what happened to their shepherd. I found this adorable. The sheep seem about as sheepy as they can be made without being incomprehensible, which probably makes them poor sheep but very amusing protagonists, worrying about acting naturally near the shepherd's body, eating geraniums to see in windows, discussing herbs of the abyss and how to turn into a cloud sheep. (A Christmas present; I read it on the flight home!) Four and a half stars.

Camouflage (by Joe Haldeman)
A thought experiment on what it means to be human, or pretend to be human, but not really a very profound one. The Bataan Death March felt out of place in what was otherwise a fine fluffy book. Three stars.

Sun of Suns (by Karl Schroeder)
A fun romp (book one of a trilogy) set in a small-planet-sized sphere full of air - so zero-gravity, but with air. Bicycle-copters. Space boats. Sargassos of burnt forests and miniature fusion suns surrounded by clouds. I am not convinced it's plausible, but very entertaining. My biggest complaint is that there are bits that make it seem like a sequel, or, at least, there are characters wandering through who feel like veteran characters with at least one previous novel under their belt. I can find no evidence of it, though, so it's presumaby just Mysterious Backstory. Four stars.

Liar (by Justine Larbalestier)
I ran across a mention of this book due to the fuss about its cover (since updated). It's a YA book with a seriously unreliable narrator, leading to several plot twists, which is what makes it interesting. I found it kind of slow-moving, possibly due to listening to it as an audibook and thus being unable to skim the repetitive angsty bits, but the various layerings of "Okay, all that about X was a lie. Here's how it really was" made for a thought-provoking story. There are still a few things I haven't made up my mind about, and I do keep thinking about it afterwards; it would make for a good discussion book. Three and a half confusing stars as an audiobook; it would probably be closer to four stars as a book.

Soulless (by Gail Carriger)
An entertaining, amusing though predictable Victorian urban fantasy, which is kind of a charming genre. The Victorian isn't quite perfect ("Gee" seems Insufficiently Period for me, though apparently it dates back to 1895...). I'll probably pick up the next one some time. Three and a half stars.

Good Omens (by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett)
Another audiobook - I have a tendency to get audiobooks that I've read already a long time ago and I know I love, because there's nothing more frustrating than an audiobook you hate. Anyway, I still love it. Five stars.

The Warded Man (by Peter V Brett)
In a world... where elemental demons rise to prey on humanity every night. (Can't you just hear that Voice Guy?) This is something like the origin story for what will be a series. Life is nasty, brutish, and short, and the people are made to fit. The main characters are (generally) idealists but still pretty flawed; the supporting cast tends to be more flawed, but generally still human. There are cowards (demons are *scary*!), and xenophobes, and rapists of both the charming smarmy kind and the bandit thug kind... it's not a pleasant world, but it does feel more like a place with many people originally decent, made hard and painful by terrible violent pressure; not like a place populated with implausibly awful people because the author is a misanthrope. Four and a half stars, but warning: first book, rest of series yet to come.


7 comments or Leave a comment
ckd From: ckd Date: January 30th, 2010 07:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Can't you just hear that Voice Guy?

Have you seen 5 Guys in a Limo?
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: January 30th, 2010 09:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Someone mentioned that to me recently, but I had not, and couldn't remember the title later. Thank you!
visage From: visage Date: January 30th, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
My biggest complaint is that there are bits that make it seem like a sequel, or, at least, there are characters wandering through who feel like veteran characters with at least one previous novel under their belt.

Interesting. Have you read Martha Wells? One of the things I like about the novels of hers I've read is that they all seem to feel like that. "These are characters who've actually done interesting things in the past and have had complex interactions previously. The world did not come into existence at the start of the book, but was just as interesting before the story as during."
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: January 30th, 2010 09:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Death of the Necromancer is one of my most-reread books ever; Wizard Hunters didn't grab me as strongly, but I liked most of her others that I have. Yeah, I do appreciate backstory that's interesting, but Robin Hobb scarred me by sneaking a character between the Assassin series and the Liveship Traders series, so now I'm particularly suspicious of Mysterious Travellers From Elsewhere With Hinted-At Pasts, who make me think that I'm reading the books in the wrong order. :)
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 30th, 2010 07:49 pm (UTC) (Link)

other books

I got my genre-averse book club to read Three Bags Full, and I thought it was cute. Have you read the Benjamin Weaver books by David Liss? The first is A Conspiracy of Paper; they're kind of historical/detective novels set in 18th-century London, with contemporary economic and political crises folded in.

I also recently enjoyed Graceling and its slightly related prequel Fire by Kristin Cashore (both young adult). I wish these had been around back in the day when I was reading Tamora Pierce.

firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: January 30th, 2010 09:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: other books

I haven't read the David Liss books, but that does sound interesting - I have just asked paperbackswap to send me Conspiracy of Paper, whee!

I do feel like YA has exploded in recent years; I don't know how much it's that it actually has (possibly since Harry Potter demonstrated there was more money in it), or how much it's that I've just noticed it more.
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: February 2nd, 2010 09:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
In a world....with no rules....one man....broke them all.
7 comments or Leave a comment