Booklist 2008

One time I was dissing that badly written book Eragon and was challenged with “Don’t you ever read trash?” No, never, I read nothing but fine literature. Also I have a bridge for sale, cheap.

I figure reading is reading— if I’m getting something out of a book, whether knowledge or provoked thoughts or merely entertainment, that’s good. The more serious ones just take me longer, with breaks to lighten up by reading some trash.

The 2008 goal is 100 books.

  1. 01-03-08 Carousel of Hearts by Mary Jo Putney. Started out the year with fluff, another Regency romance. Here we have a stunningly beautiful heiress and her lovely young widow companion, joined by the heiress’ attractive adopted cousin and his stunningly handsome best friend. Should stunning match up with stunning and second-best attractive with attractive; or should looks be ignored and soulmate join with soulmate? Hmmm, bet you can figure that one out. As always Putney writes fluff well.
  2. 01-06-08 1212 — Year of the Journey by Kathleen McDonnell. Borrowed from the library, this book tells the story of the Children’s Crusade from France to Jerusalem. There are three main characters, Étienne, the shepherd who receives a visit and vision from Saint Nicholas, sparking and leading the motley group; Abel, a young Jewish scholar from Troyes who conceals his religion to befriend and accompany Étienne; and Blanche, one of the few survivors of the massacre of Béziers during the Albigensian suppression. All three are in their early teens and their interactions and changes in personality are the crux of the tale set against the historic facts of their march to promote peace. Some info about the supposed real incident.

  3. 01-09-08 The Stones are Hatching by Geraldine McCaughrean. Another library book. It’s just past World War I. 11-year-old Phelim, a British boy, does not have a particularly easy or happy home life but it’s okay — until, that is, all sorts of magical critters start popping up from behind his stove and out of the garden and in the woods. Half tell him he’s the legendary Jack o’ the Green, fated to save the British Isles from the inconceivably large Stoor Worm, roused by the explosions of shells falling in France during the battles. The other half are determined to stop him, whether as a giant black dog trying to bite off his face or Corn Witches attempting to chop off his head. Helped by a symbolic Maiden, Madman and Horse, poor Phelim is stuck journeying to the head of the Worm to attempt to kill it and its monstrous children hatching from the very rocks.

    This was an interesting books, fantastical as you can see from the brief synopsis but well written. Sometimes these folklore novels lay it on way too thick with the weirdness but the way the author constructed this made me think more than once “Okay, I’m going to keep reading and everything will make sense in the end.” There were some twists that were unexpected, and sad/happy and one happy/sad. I’m not sorry I borrowed this from the library based only on the inside-cover blurb.

    Celtic legend of the Stoor Worm.

  4. 01-13-08 Usagi Yojimbo — Book Three by Stan Sakai. Taking a little break from the long book I’m reading to indulge in a (not so secret) pleasure, another new-to-me UY book. Yay interlibrary loans!

    There’s no theme to this book, and in fact the stories are less complicated than later volumes — not a surprise because there is little backstory at this point in the series. It does hold the first meeting of the rabbit ronin and Jei, a recurring character who is highly deadly and very creepy. I guess our hero has no evil in his soul because he lives through the night.

    There are additional stories with a blind swordspig, Gen, Tomoe, and a lizard creature called a tokage named Spot, as well as a little throwaway crossover with one of the Mutant Ninja Turtles. All in all a fun group of tales in medieval Japan.

  5. 01-15-08 Refining Felicity by Marion Chesney. I swear that I’m reading a “real” book right now but keep on interrupting it to hit some quick snack types of reading. This is one of another Regency series from the library, the overall theme of which is two maiden sisters who take on difficult young misses to introduce them to Society and get them married off. In this, the first book, Effy and Amy are faced with a young woman who has spent her life trying to be the son her father never had with rowdy and disastrous results. As one would expect she meets the man of her dreams who is initially repulsed by her manner. Trials and tribulations ensue and surprise surprise! a happy ending!
  6. 01-16-08 Space Usagi by Stan Sakai. This is the only Usagi Yojimbo compilation which is not set in medieval Japan although the stories and themes are very similar to the other volumes I have read. Miyamoto is the bodyguard (aka “Yojimbo”) to the scion of an imperial family. Their home (drawn as a traditional castle on top of a planetoid) has been invaded by a rival family and the book revolves around attempts to infiltrate, use secret computer codes to shut down the killer systems, and expel the interlopers. There is a dead psychic woman who mentally sent codes to her prepubescent daughter right before her death, a toady sneaking about, a rhino sidekick (finally explaining how this version of Gen got his horn cut off), and a lovely intrepid female samurai, Tomoe. In this set of tales she and Usagi finally declare the love and passion they feel for each other only to have disaster separate them. Damn. The final story is a fun little crossover with 14th century Usagi suddenly appearing in 20xth century Usagi’s time and being sent back with a very useful piece of technology. It was a good way to close out a set of tales which alternated between sacrifice, success, and sadness.
  7. 01-19-08 Perfecting Fiona by Marion Chesney. Yes, I’m reading escapist crap. It’s 13 below right now, I have a hate-on for being here, give me a break.
  8. 01-20-08 Strange Itineraries by Tim Powers. One of my all-time favorite books was written by this author. Some of his other books are sort of weird. This collection of short stories tends toward the latter. “The Way Down the Hill” was the best story in the collection in my opinion.
  9. 01-20-08 Usagi Yoijimbo — The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy by Stan Sakai. Tomoe doesn’t die. Spot does. Ino finds peace.
  10. 01-20-08 Home from the Vinyl Cafe — A Year of Stories by Stuart McLean. I love his writing. My favorite from this collection is “Emil”.
  11. 01-21-08 Stardust by Neil Gaiman. What? I read it again?!? Well, kinda sorta, finished reading it out loud to my daughters (started before Christmas) so counting it on this list.
  12. 01-23-08 Finessing Clarissa by Marion Chesney. Book 4. Clarissa is tall and coltish in a society that prefers dainty. This presents a challenge to the Tribble sisters because every time she feels uncertain things start falling and curtains start burning. Luckily a certain peer of the realm comes to her rescue during an attempted highway robbery and finds this beauty much more interesting than the Dresden sculpture maidens angling for his hand in marriage.

    I should mention here that book 3 of this set was not available at the library but since these are so fluffy it was like missing one single potato chip out of a bag — the nibbling was just as tasty without it.

  13. 01-25-08 The Elder Gods — Book 1 of the Dreamers by David and Leigh Eddings. I have enjoyed Eddings’ Belgariad and Mallorean books but damn, this is such a pale rehash that it took me forever to finish. Age old enemy versus four sibling adult gods, each of whom is raising his or her replacement child god. Various tribes of humanity, formerly conflicted and now grudgingly united against the Black Hat. “Cute” sexist comments, princess person in disguise, yadda yadda yadda. The only thing this book is missing is the wise bearded wizard (thank the FSM.) I do not believe I will be cracking the second and third volumes of this series.
  14. 01-29-08 World War Z by Max Brooks. I had heard about this book for quite a while so was glad when my turn came up in the library queue. It’s an oral history of the Zombie war, a worldwide conflict arising out of China that saw the undead infection threatening all of humanity.

    I liked the book a lot. It is arranged much like one of Studs Terkel’s oral compilations (”The Good War” comes immediately to mind) and assumes that the reader has lived through the experience. By not attempting to fill in every blank a lot of left to deduction and so amplifies the horror of the unreal becoming real. Some of the tableaux are very chilling, for example people swimming out to a rescue ship suddenly being pulled down glug glug glug by zombies wandering the ocean floor. The matter-of-factness of certain facts that emerge — Iceland remains totally overrun by zombies even though much of the rest of the world has been somewhat retaken by the living — created a sense of that this tale could be true. I also found the military sections interesting, particularly that Napoleonic warfare techniques become the most effective against beings that cannot conceive of strategy. The description of the zombies as the ultimate warriors, unable to feel fear and taking a licking and keeping on ticking was chilling.

  15. 01-30-08 Animating Maria by Marion Chesney. Book 5. Maria tends to escape her somewhat abusive life by living in a dreamworld which presents a challenge to her guardians in getting her married off. She’s sent to the Tribble sisters, encountering the Duke of Berham on the way. He falls for the beauty only to be totally putoff by her vulgar parents. Who needs the schooling, the daughter or the mother and daughter?
  16. 02-01-08 Marrying Harriet by Marion Chesney. The 6th and final volume of this “The School for Manners” series. The Tribble sisters take in their final charge, Harriet, the orphaned daughter of a Methodist minister. Can she find a husband who is not a rake? Will Effy and Amy finally find get their aging nabob boyfriends to step up to the plate?
  17. 02-03-08 Usagi Yoijimbo — Book 5 by Stan Sakai.
  18. 02-04-08 Usagi Yoijimbo — Book 7 by Stan Sakai.
  19. 02-09-08 The Plague Tales by Ann Benson.
  20. 02-12-08 Ammie, Come Home by Barbara Michaels.
  21. 02-20-08 Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.
  22. 02-21-08 Life During the Black Death by John M. Dunn.
  23. 02-23-08 Epidemic by Brian Ward.
  24. 02-26-08 The Cure by Sonia Levitin.
  25. 02-28-08 The Black Death by Phyllis Corzine.
  26. 03-05-08 Homecoming — When the Soldiers Returned from Vietnam by Bob Greene.
  27. 03-09-08 Burning Road by Ann Benson.
  28. Maybe soon I’ll come in and flesh out these books read with comments. In the meanwhile, I’m off the Plague jag with…

  29. 03-16-08 Wishing Season by Esther Friesner.
  30. 03-20-08 New York by Knight by Esther Friesner.
  31. 03-24-08 Mustafa and his Wise Dog by Esther Friesner.
  32. 19 Apr Note: I have been reading over the past three weeks but am just not in the mood to write synopses or reviews or whatever you’d call these snippets. I realized today that after I read a book it gets put in one of the “you own too much stuff, fool, sell or give this away” bags sitting around the apartment which is a little discouraging in some minor way. However, to keep myself disciplined in a tiny way I will keep up this list though.

  33. 03-29-08 Spells of Mortal Weaving by Esther Friesner.
  34. 04-06-08 The Witchwood Cradle by Esther Friesner.
  35. 04-12-08 The Water King’s Laughter by Esther Friesner.
  36. 04-19-08 If I Die in the Combat Zone by Tim O’Brien.
  37. 04-22-08 With Friends Like These… by Alan Dean Foster.
  38. 04-25-08 …Who Needs Enemies? by Alan Dean Foster.
  39. 04-29-08 The Abyss by Orson Scott Card.
  40. 05-02-08 Kinderlager by Milton J. Nieuwsma.
  41. 05-03-08 Liberation by E. Tina Tito.
  42. 05-03-08 Sin City — Booze, Broads and Bullets by Frank Miller.
  43. 05-04-08 Sin City — That Yellow Bastard by Frank Miller.
  44. 05-06-08 The House on Hound Hill by Maggie Prince.
  45. 05-08-08 Eifelheim by Michael Flynn.
  46. 05-13-08 The Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko.
  47. 05-14-08 Sin City by Frank Miller.
  48. 05-15-08 300 by Frank Miller & Lynn Varley.
  49. 05-15-08 Far From Sarajevo by Joe Kubert.
  50. 05-15-08 Strange Stories for Strange Kids by Art Spiegelman & Francoise Mouly.
  51. 05-16-08 The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope.
  52. 05-18-08 Sin City — Family Matters by Frank Miller.
  53. 05-20-08 Sin City — Hell and Back by Frank Miller.
  54. 05-21-08 Sin City — The Big Fat Kill by Frank Miller.
  55. 05-23-08 Mirabilis by Susann Cokal.
  56. 05-27-08 Down Here by Andrew Vachss.
  57. 06-01-08 Canterbury Papers by Judith Koll Healey.
  58. 06-09-08 Baltimore, of, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden. I got this out of the library since I seem to be fascinated with graphic novels recently (see all the Sin City books above) and Mike Mignola is the creator of Hellboy. The story is written in a very gothic style, a classic “three strangers meet in a bar, all called together by the fourth man, and tell stories while they wait” tale. The premise is that Lord Baltimore wounded and angered the chief vampire during a World War I battle and so unknowingly unleashed a plague onto humankind. I likes this book quite a bit — the stories were fairly spooky and the way they tied together was interesting. It wasn’t a great book but well worth reading.
  59. 06-15-08 The Briar King by Greg Keyes.
  60. 06-19-08 The Charnel Prince by Greg Keyes.
  61. 06-26-08 The Blood Knight by Greg Keyes.
  62. 07-05-08 The Born Queen by Greg Keyes.
  63. 07-06-08 Sin City — A Dame to Kill For by Frank Miller.
  64. 07-11-08 The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex.
  65. 07-14-08 The Living Forest by Rien Poortvliet.
  66. 07-19-08 The Girl who Loved Animals and Other Stories by Bruce McAllister.
  67. 07-22-08 Shattered — Stories of Children and War edited by Jennifer Armstrong.
  68. 07-25-08 The Good Master by Kate Seredy.
  69. 07-28-08 Maid Marian by Elsa Watson.
  70. 07-30-08 Emily Goes to Exeter by Marion Chesney.
  71. 08-01-08 Belinda Goes to Bath by Marion Chesney.
  72. 08-02-08 The Farm Book by Rien Poortvliet.
  73. 08-04-08 Penelope Goes to Portsmouth by Marion Chesney.
  74. 08-06-08 At the Sign of the Golden Pineapple by Marion Chesney.
  75. 08-08-08 Beatrice Goes to Brighton by Marion Chesney.
  76. 08-09-08 Deborah Goes to Dover by Marion Chesney.
  77. 08-09-08 The Luttrell Village — Country Life in the Middle Ages by Sheila Sancha.
  78. 08-13-08 Strega by Andrew Vachss.
  79. 08-14-08 Yvonne Goes to York by Marion Chesney.
  80. 08-21-08 An Elegant Madness — High Society in Regency England by Venetia Murray.
  81. 08-23-08 Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
  82. 08-23-08 Fairest by Gail Carson Levine.
  83. 08-26-08 Life in Victorian England by Duane C. Damon.
  84. 08-31-08 Arts & Crafts by Judith Miller.
  85. 09-01-08 Regency Christmas Spirits edited by Nancy Butler.
  86. 09-05-08 Life on an Everest Expedition by Patricia D. Netzley.
  87. 09-06-08 Fabric of Society — A Century of People and their Clothes 1770-1870 by Jane Tozer and Sarah Levitt.
  88. 09-07-08 Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi.
  89. 09-10-08 Great Tales from English History, Volume 1 by Robert Lacey.
  90. 09-20-08 Our Tempestuous Day — A History of Regency England by Carolly Erickson.
  91. 09-21-08 Life on a Medieval Pilgrimage by Don Nardo.
  92. 09-26-08 Old Man’s War by John Scalzi..
  93. 09-29-08 Beastly by Alex Flinn.
  94. 09-30-08 Life During the Spanish Inquisition by Gail B. Stewart.
  95. 10-09-08 May Bird and the Ever After by Jodi Lynn Anderson.
  96. 10-11-08 Emperor (Time’s Tapestry Book 1) by Stephen Baxter.
  97. 10-20-08 Conqueror (Time’s Tapestry Book 2) by Stephen Baxter.
  98. 10-27-08 May Bird Among the Stars by Jodi Lynn Anderson.
  99. 10-28-08 Navigator (Time’s Tapestry Book 3) by Stephen Baxter.
  100. 10-30-08 May Bird, Warrior Princess by Jodi Lynn Anderson.
  101. 11-14-08 Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley.
  102. 11-24-08 The River Horses by Allen Steele.
  103. 11-28-08 Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison.
  104. 12-03-08 Galaxy Blues by Allen Steele.
  105. 12-08-08 Contact by Carl Sagan.
  106. 12-11-08 The Survivors by Eleanor H. Ayer.
  107. 12-14-08 The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison.
  108. 12-16-08 It’s a Cinch, Private Finch by Sgts Ralph Stein and Harry Brown.
  109. 12-22-08 Mira, Mirror by Mette Ivie Harrison.
  110. 12-25-08 World War Z by Max Brooks.
  111. 12-31-08 Through the Eyes of Innocents — Children Witness World War II by Emmy E. Werner.