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Ten books - Qualified Perceptions
Ten books
# are ebooks, * are audiobooks

#After the Golden Age (by Carrie Vaughn)
The protagonist is the mostly-estranged daughter of two superheroes, who herself has no superpowers. She's a forensic accountant, working for the prosecution in the supervillain equivalent of going after Al Capone for tax evasion. There's a nod to the cliches, but it doesn't stay totally by the book, which seems about right for this genre. There's a small mystery in the middle, which wasn't very complex but added a nice note of spookiness. I didn't love it quite as much as Soon I Will Be Invincible, but it was a fine read. Four stars.

Monkey (by Wu Ch'eng-en, translated by Arthur Waley)
This was presented to me by kirisutogomen; it's the classic source for Monkey, one of the more interesting cycle spirits in Dragon. So it was an odd combination of entertainment and homework. Monkey really is trouble. And there was a recurring set of encounters in the Journey to the West, where they would fight a monster only to discover afterwards that it was put there by Kuan-Xin to be helpful, if only they had introduced themselves, which reminded me oddly of Aslan showing up over and over to be helpful in Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I sort of feel like I should embed some sort of flash virus in my review just to be properly Monkey.

#Wide Open (by Deborah Coates)
This was interesting. A marine comes home to South Dakota from Afghanistan on ten days' leave for her sister's funeral, and thus has ten days to figure out her murder. Oh, and she can see ghosts (who are not in general very communicative or helpful). The amount of weird in "I can see ghosts" and the amount of weird that turned out to be in the final plot were pretty different, so I wasn't really ready for it - but neither were any of the characters, so that was interesting. The main character is hard-edged and uncommunicative, and her father is even worse, but they feel to me like a sort of real person I don't understand well, rather than paper cutouts. The suggestion is that this is how South Dakota people are, and the sense of place is very strong. Well written and evocative and nicely spooky in sections; my only real objection is that I found the bad guys' plan kind of over the top in a way that kind of broke the sense of everyone being real people, for me. Three and a half stars.

*Light (by M. John Harrison)
Neil Gaiman is producing a set of audiobooks of books he really likes, and I thought I'd try this one. It's not badly written, nor is it badly narrated, but I gave up about halfway in, when there were no sympathetic characters, and I didn't care what happened to any of them except in idle curiosity. (And, Harrison really has an amazing knack for making sex sound about as pleasant as going to the bathroom - it releases pressures and thus is necessary, but certainly isn't fun or emotionally significant.) From the reviews on Amazon, I think that if I had kept on, the stories come together at the end, which might have been interesting, but the lack of sympathy really did me in, that's one of my reading flaws.

#Railsea (by China Meiville)
I had a really hard time suspending my disbelief for the premise but beyond that, the... totally straight-faced parody of Moby Dick? ... mysterious fantasy with SF trappings? I don't even know what to call it. I do like Meiville, and I like that everything he writes is different, but this one was less for me than many of his other books; there was the suspension of disbelief trouble, and the ending switched from epically fun to weirdly dis-satisfying rather jarringly for me. I wonder whether the inspiration for this book came from "Meiville" looking so much like "Melville". Oops, except that it's actually spelled Mieville. Three stars, but lots of other people like rifmeister really liked it, so your mileage may vary.

#Shadow and Bone (by Leigh Bardugo)
This is the first of a trilogy, and it leaves quite a lot of unfinished business for the next two books. It's Russian-ish fantasy, so a slightly different feeling than the standard. I quite liked the first half; the characters were interesting, the setting was interesting. After about the middle, things started to speed up, and felt slightly rushed; there are also a lot of plot threads that get abandoned, possibly to be picked up next book. It's a first novel, and I suspect that once the trilogy is done it'll be quite good; most of the minor-flaw-ish things are I think side effects of the story being unfinished. Three and a half optimistic stars.

#Redshirts (by John Scalzi)
This really is the Galaxy Quest of Star Trek novels, which given how much I liked the movie, is pretty high praise. (It even kind of shares one joke with it). If Scalzi was a little bit more of a poetic writer, it would probably be a perfect book for me, as it is meta and funny and then more meta and a little bit touching. He's more of a word-carpenter than a word-artist, and I swear he cannot go a whole book without including a fart or poop joke, but... it's a book about redshirts, and I pretty much inhaled it in one sitting. Four stars. (Here's a video of the accompanying Jonathan Coulton song)

The Twelfth Card (by Jeffery Deaver)
The Lincoln Rhyme books are like... mind popcorn. Kind of like Agatha Christie, in the implausible complexity, but fun to read. As always, I spotted the obvious first plot twist, but was surprised by the next three or so. However, I do not like the (not really at this point) new paperback book size (5 1/8 by 9 7/8?), about as tall as a trade paperback but the width is more like a standard. Bleah.
* The Spirit Rebellion and The Spirit Eater (by Rachel Aaron)
I continue to really like this audiobook narrator (Luke Daniels). These are the next two books after The Spirit Thief which I thought was fun and light. (A fourth has just come out, but it's not on audiobook yet). They get a little more serious - in addition to the actual plot, the books get to be more about the relationship of the main characters with their super-power-enablers, and how (usually) dysfunctional it is. Josef mostly comes to terms with his most-powerful-sword-in-the-world when it (quite rightfully) chews him out for only using it as a one-shot-last-emergency tool, but Nico goes up against her demon heritage, and Eli continues to defy the (really kind of terrible and petulant) protector goddess of the world who is smitten with him. That last bit is clearly key to the unfinished arc plot, but I find it a little disconcerting. All the other bad guys or semi bad guys seem to have motives I can find somewhat sympathetic, like "I want power!" and "I want a fight that really tests me!" and "Crush evil no matter what!" but the protector-goddess seems to be something like "I'll let the world fall apart to pressure my ex into begging me to take him back" which I am not happy with. Regardless, I find the books good summer entertainment. Three and a half stars.

Current Mood: sleepy sleepy

3 comments or Leave a comment
arcanology From: arcanology Date: June 26th, 2012 12:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Scalzi is on my list of "why don't I like this? I have no idea but I just do not" authors. Which is to say I bought Redshirts and read it and I did not dislike it, but neither did I like it. Maybe it is the writing as you say...

Still in the middle of Railsea, which I am so far liking better than the last one I read (Kraken I think), but of course I haven't made it to the oh crap we have to finish the book moment.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: June 26th, 2012 01:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Something that is particularly noticeable as an audiobook is that his dialogue is often written as

"Blah blah blah", he said.
"Blah other blah blah", she said.
"Blah ti blah blah", he said.

The he said / she said stuff is nearly invisible and I gloss over it in the written text, but it's much more obvious as an audiobook. That's the sort of thing I mean - it's not ungrammatical, or wrong, it's just not very pretty either.
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: June 26th, 2012 10:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like the protagonist of After the Golden Age already from your description. :)
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