A College of Magics and A Scholar of Magics (by Caroline Stevermer)
These were fun. They have been re-printed with questions and projects in the back - one could entirely get a merit badge in College of Magics by writing essays and screenplays and drawing maps and making collages, all about the book. I find myself feeling vaguely guilty that all I have bothered to do is read the thing. The first book is very much like Sorcery and Cecelia, with girlish high spirits and small mysteries and an Evil (mostly) Uncle. Interestingly, the second book is more distinct - it's set at the men's college of magic instead of the women's, and the main character is an American sharpshooter. The focus is much more on the dons and scholars, and less on the students (there's a very strong sense of Oxford to Glasscastle). It's still a pretty good book, and there's a bit more mystery to the plot, but it's surprisingly different than the first. Three and a half fluffy stars, and they'll likely wend their way off to mijven shortly if nobody else wants to borrow them.
Humans (by Donald Westlake)
Imagine Good Omens, but written by Donald Westlake instead of Pratchett and Gaiman. More gritty, a different slant of funny, and at least one burglar as a main character. The angel is trying to destroy the world and the demon to save it; but the angel is basically good and decent, while the demon is pretty nasty. On the whole, though, I think I prefer Westlake writing about burglars and Gaiman writing about angels; the arc doesn't seem to quite work, as the angel seriously outclasses the demon, and the destroy-the-world plot is far more convoluted than it needs to be (though that seems to be a question of aesthetics...). Two and a half stars.
Judas Unchained (by Peter F Hamilton)
I reread Pandora's Star, and then finally read Judas Unchained, so I can return it to marcusmarcusrc. It's obviously the second half of a big story, but it's interesting how different it is as a single book. In part due to the differences between starting a story (introductions of characters, mysteries demonstrated but not solved, messes created) and finishing it (plots tied together, bad guys unmasked, messes cleaned up). There's maybe a little too much time spent on tying plots together, and the explanation of both the Starflyer and the barrier-builders I found somehow disappointing. Several bits of the first book turned out to serve multiple uses (not only was that an introduction to these people, it showed us this place which would eventually be important...), which I found clever. (I was going to complain that the only thing that made it seem like the two books weren't written all as a whole was that "dreaming heavens" didn't get used as a Guardian phrase until Judas. But I'm mistaken; it's used four times in Pandora, according to Amazon. Dozens and dozens of times in Judas, though). Anyway, five stars, down half a star from the five and a half of the first book.
Foop! (by Chris Genoa)
Okay, the first thing I have to complain about is that it seems to be printed in 95% grey rather than black. But not using grey ink, using greyscale dithering.
Bah. The second thing I have to complain about it is that it's just not funny. Well, maybe it's a little funny. Someone says "I beg to differ. I'm a differ begger." Okay, that's a little funny. rifmeister could say something like that, and I'd laugh. But it's conversational funny, not book funny. It's insufficient to carry what is supposed to be a funny novel. Also, someone "smacking her hands on the sides of her cheeks" (in what I have to assume is a Macauley Culkin Scream-like moment) is not funny. It might be visually funny, in a movie, but visual humor is also not the right sort for a funny novel. Though I have to refund it half a point that I previously deducted: I didn't think "You sock-dologizing old man-trap!" was particularly funny either, but it turns out that it was actually John Wilkes Booth's entrance cue, not Chris Genoa's fault. Now I think it's funny. One and a half stars.