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Only three this time.

Books 2014: 133-135

133. Courtney Milan, The Suffragette Scandal. 2014. Kobo ebook.

Another excellent historical romance, this time set in the 1870s, from Courtney Milan. One of her best to date, I suspect.

134. Sarah McCarry, All Our Pretty Songs. St. Martin's Griffin, 2013.

Read for inclusion in the column. Debut, lyrically written, very decent book.

135. Erika Johansen, The Queen of the Tearling. Bantam Press, 2014.

Read for inclusion in the column. I have conflicted feelings about this novel. On the one hand, I enjoyed the story, and the characters, and on the whole it cheered me up on a day where I was feeling rather gloomy about reading anything. But once I'd finished it, I realised the story took place in a very white, straight, cisgender world - and that made me sad all over again.

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Books 2014: 128-132

128. Melissa Scott, Fairs' Point. Lethe Press, 2014.

The long-awaited new novel of Astreiant. An absolutely excellent book, with brilliant worldbuilding, characterisation, great writing, a solid mystery plot, and terrier-racing. Everyone should read this series. It is really good.

129. William C. Dietz, Legion of the Damned. Titan Books, 2014. Originally published 1993. Copy courtesy of Titan Books.

I believe this was Dietz's first novel. Heaven help him, it's terrible. Not just full of shitty male gaze shit, but boring too. Fortunately, he's improved at least some since then, as witness his Andromeda novels, which have been fun so far - but this one? Seriously not worth it.

130. Lilith Saintcrow, The Ripper Affair. Orbit, 2014. ARC courtesy of Orbit US.

Read for review for The third in Saintcrow's "Bannon and Clare" series, it marks a fun entry in her quasi-Victorian magical steampunk not-England series of mysteries.

131. Sarah J. Maas, Heir of Fire. Bloomsbury Young Adult, 2014. ARC via

Read for review for The kind of book I love to hate.


132. Emma Christopher, A Merciless Place: The Lost Story of Britain's Convict Disaster in Africa. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2011. First published in Australia by Allen & Unwin in 2010.

Christopher writes a solid and engaging history of the British experiment with sending convicts to act as soldiers in Africa between the American Revolutionary War and the founding of the penal colony at Botany Bay in Australia. It is not entirely comprehensive: it could use more background about the Company of Merchants Trading To Africa and their relations with the Dutch and the indigenous peoples, and Christopher is too willing not to tie off threads in her narrative once they pass away from the African coast - what did become of Ensign John Montagu Clarke, accused of mutiny? - but on the whole, it's an interesting and readable examination of an overlooked piece of British penal history.

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Books 2014: 118-127

118-119. Richelle Mead, Gameboard of the Gods and The Immortal Crown. Penguin, 2013 and 2014.

Bah. These started out promising and rapidly descended into annoying - and in The Immortal Crown, nasty evil-religion kidnapping-and-selling-pubescent-girl-children-into-life-of-abuse because... religion? I dunno, mate, I just work here. Also Odin and Loki show up - how do you make the Norse gods boring? People seem to be managing it left and right these days - and oh, yeah, I almost forgot, there is rape by deception.

120-121. William C. Dietz, Andromeda's Fall and Andromeda's Choice. Titan, 2014. Second book: review copy via publisher.

I want to talk some more about these books - remind me to talk some more about these books - about what parts of them work really well and what parts of them don't work at all. But I largely concur with the Book Smugglers' review of Andromeda's Fall - it's not a very clever book, but it is a fun one.

122. Michelle Sagara, Cast in Flame. Mira, 2014. Review copy via author.

Read for column. Good, fun next installment in series. If you like the series, read this book! It is a return to the city of Elantra, and lots of things go boom.

123. Django Wexler, The Shadow Throne. Ace, 2014. ARC via

Review here at Very fun book!

124. Mike Shepherd, Vicky Peterwald: Target. Ace, 2014.

Awful horrible sexist problematic WTF BOOK. Read for review for, though heaven knows if they'll publish my expletive-laden review.

125. Marianne De Pierres, Peacemaker. Angry Robot, 2014.

A fun book that mixes science fiction and the fantastic. Not entirely tightly plotted, though.

126. Ilona Andrews, Magic Breaks. Ace, 2014. ARC via

Latest series installment. Read for review for Fun.

127. Eleanor Arnason, Big Mama Stories. Aqueduct Press, 2014.

Read to talk about in a column. Interesting collection.

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Books 2014:106-111

106. Patricia Briggs, Shifting Sands. Ace, 2014. ARC.

Read for review for A collection of short fiction set in Briggs' urban fantasy world. Entertaining, but nothing particularly special.

107. Antoine Rouaud, The Path of Anger. Gollancz, 2013. Translated from the French by Tom Clegg. Copy courtesy of the publisher.

Read for review for Ambitious and not entirely successful epic-style fantasy novel. Lacks decent female characters. Mixed feelings overall. Jared Shurin has a good comprehensive review of it at Pornokitsch.

108. Nicola Griffith, Slow River. Gollancz, 2013 (1995).

An excellent meditative book about identity and growth and never being the same person you were before. Brilliant. Highly recommended.

109. Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Djinni. Harper, 2013.

Read for the column. A fable about immigration and loneliness. Not without its problems, but overall a gorgeous, accomplished debut. Recommended.


110-111. Anthony Reid, Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce 1450-1680, two vols. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1988-1993.

I believe I heard of these books when Kate Elliott mentioned them on Twitter: they are exactly what they say in the title, and very interesting the history of that time and place is, too. It does bring home to me how little I know about Southeast Asian history in general: I'll be skimming the bibliography for available titles to add to my store of knowledge, I think.

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02 June 2014 @ 02:37 pm
I'm pretty sure I can't remember everything I've read while under the influence of tooth extraction and cold meds, so let's go with the ones I do.

Books 2014:99-105

99. Tobias S. Buckell, Arctic Rising. Tor, 2012.

This is an excellently constructed near-future thriller, starring Anika Duncan, an airship pilot for the United Nations Polar Guard, who gets caught up in a tangle of conspiracies when she uncovers a nuclear weapon being smuggled into the Arctic Circle. It doesn't untangle its conclusion well enough to be entirely successful, but it is really good - and with an appropriately diverse cast.

100. Mike Shepherd, Kris Longknife: Defender. Ace, 2013.

Kris Longknife versus the giant alien fleet. Plus friendly aliens and a long-lost human colony. The unexamined neocolonial assumptions in this series annoy me more the longer it goes on, but the boom is still fun enough to make it worth ignoring - for me, at least.

101. Sandy Mitchell, Warhammer 40K: The Greater Good. The Black Library, 2013.

The latest Ciaphas Cain novel, which is the only Warhammer 40K series I actually really like, for the most part. Despite the constant war and grimness of the Warhammer 40K universe, the Cain novels are always fun romps through a combination of military, exploration, and espionage adventures. BOOM LIKE THAT. Yep. I enjoy these books - even if this one is rather lacking in the "features female characters" department.

102. Marjorie Liu with artist Daniel Acuňa, Black Widow: The Name of the Rose. Marvel, 2011.

An interesting, dark graphic novel - but one that relies on familiarity with the rest of the continuity for its impact. And I've read three other Black Widow collections and none of the rest of Marvel's superhero universe, so.

Still. Fun.

103-105. Kim Harrison, Pale Demon, A Perfect Blood, and Ever After. Orbit/Ace, 2011-2013.

I realised after reading Pale Demon that, although I enjoy the novels while I'm reading them, I won't actually reread them. And I don't feel very pushed about reading subsequent volumes. But I'd Pale Demon on my shelves for a while, and I borrowed the other two, and these installments in the Rachel Morgan series make rather fine reading for the drugged-up-on-cold-meds sort of person. Entertaining urban fantasy, even if it seems that lots of competent people like Rachel Morgan and keep bailing her out for very little reason that I can discern.

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Books 2014: 81 -99

81. Elizabeth Moon, Crown of Renewal. Orbit, 2014. Review copy courtesy of Orbit UK.

Concluding volume to Moon's Paladin's Legacy series. Read for inclusion in the column. Ends more with a whimper than a grand boom.

82. Gaie Sebold, Shanghai Sparrow. Solaris, 2014.

Entertaining steampunk/magic adventure that mixes caper and school stories in the seamy underbelly of the late 19th century Great Game and has some pretty dark points. Recommended.

83. Faith Hunter, Black Arts. Roc, 2014.

Latest installment in Hunter's "Jane Yellowrock" urban fantasy series. Fun, diverting, not too serious.

84-90. Timothy Zahn, Cobra, Cobra Strike, Cobra Bargain, Cobra Alliance, Cobra War, Cobra Guardian, and Cobra Slave. Baen, various dates.

The first Cobra trilogy was originally published between 1985 and 1987, and it's a little elderly now. But Zahn can always be relied on for an entertaining story, and I inhaled the trilogy omnibus and its sequels over the course of two days. Good fun, those books, if a little odd.

91-93. Mike Moscoe (aka Mike Shepherd), The First Casualty, The Price of Peace, and They Also Serve. Ace, 1999-2001.

Entertaining military science fiction novels, albeit annoyingly "USA-in-space" in their assumptions and set-up.

94-97. Mike Shepherd, Kris Longknife: Undaunted, Kris Longknife: Redoubtable, Kris Longknife: Daring and Kris Longknife: Furious. Ace, 2009-2012.

See above, except with more descriptions of breasts.

98. E.C. Blake, Masks. DAW, 2013. Review copy courtesy of DAW Books.

Masks is the first novel in a series. In the Autarchy of Aygrima, everyone wears a mask. The mask's magic tells the Watchers if a person has broken a law, or if they are disloyal to the Autarch. Not wearing a mask is punishable by death.

Mara is the daughter of the master mask-maker. But at her coming-of-age at fifteen, at her masking ceremony, her mask rejects her. Sentenced to labour in the Autarch's mines, she's rescued by a small band of rebels - before falling into the hands of the Autarch's enforcers once more. She discovers that the magic she has is powerful enough to kill, and one way or another, people want to make her into their tool.

The tone and style of this book seem to aim it at the Young Adult audience, but it doesn't turn up the emotional pitch the way most good YA does. This may, in part, be due to how much time Mara spends following other people's leads. At no point does she ever choose a direction that someone else hasn't pointed her in: she never tries to escape anywhere on her own, nor is she intelligent about using the leverage she does have. This makes for an unevenly paced and somewhat disappointing novel. On the other hand, things blow up, it's easy to read, and sufficiently entertaining to finish: perhaps the forthcoming sequel will have more of Mara doing things, rather than being done unto.

Warning for offscreen sexual violence, not done to our protagonists, but not treated with any particular depth.


99. Justine Larbalestier, The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction. Wesleyan University Press, 2002.

Larbalestier has gone on to be better known as a novelist than an academic, but this book, based on her doctoral thesis at the University of Sydney, is an extremely interesting survey and analysis of the presence and representation of women in science fiction between the late 1920s and the 1970s, with a further discussion of James Tiptree Jr., Tiptree/Sheldon's influence, and the role of the Tiptree Award from its creation in the early 1990s.

It's a really enjoyable piece of academic writing, and one I'm glad to have read.

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So I took four days off in a row, and it looks like today might be number five. I haven't done anything useful, not even housework, and there are important library books waiting for me in the library - including an ILL request that I have to get to and read by the 25th and an early printed book whose handlers will be annoyed at me if I don't come and see it by the beginning of next week - and somehow, I just can't make myself care.

I've been hiding from all human contact.

It probably doesn't help that today is the second day of the menstrual period and all I want to do is sleep and consume fluids. But I'm starting to be a little worried about how little I care about doing work right now.

Books 2014: 72-80

72-74. Zoë Ferraris, Night of the Mi'raj, City of Veils, and Kingdom of Strangers. Little, Brown & Co. 2008, 2010, 2012. Library books.

A series of mysteries set in Saudi Arabia. The protagonist of the first novel is a young devout Palestinian called Nayir; in the following two, more of the protagonist duties are taken over by Katya Hijazi, one of the few female lab technicians with the Saudi police.

I heard of these via first mrissa and then swan_tower. They're really enjoyable books, although the mystery element is not always entirely well developed: the interest and the tension is in how the cultural norms and laws of the kingdom constrain the characters' behaviour. It is rather difficult to investigate a crime when women and men are not supposed to speak to each other unless they're related, and Katya could lose her job at any time for any perceived violations of the virtue policy of her employers. But the characterisation is excellent, and both Saudi Arabia and Islam are treated with a depth and a respect I haven't often seen in fiction.


75. Kelley Armstrong, Sea of Shadows. 2014. ARC.

Read for review for

76. Douglas Hulick, Sworn in Steel. Tor (UK) and Roc (US), 2014. Review copy.

Read for review for

77. Stephanie Saulter, Binary. JFB, 2014. Review copy.

Read for review for Strange Horizons. Interesting sequel.


78. Paul Roberts, Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum Oxford University Press in conjunction with The British Museum Press. 2013.

Discussed previously.

79. Sun-Tzu, The Art of War (with a selection from the Chinese commentaries. Penguin, 2009 (2002). Edited and translated by John Minford.

An interesting and very readable translation. Minford has chosen to use short lines and line breaks after phrases, giving a feeling of aphoristic poetry to Master Sun's work. I enjoyed reading it.

80. John H. Langbein, Torture and the Law of Proof: Europe and England in the Ancien Régime. University of Chicago Press, 2006 (1976).

A brief history of torture as a legal instrument in Europe prior to the 19th century. It could have done with a little more explanation of the difference between the Roman law systems of Europe and the law system of England, but it explains very well why those two systems had different approaches to torture as a legal instrument, and how changes in the standard of proof required for punishment led to a reduction in the use of torture to coerce confessions.

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Books 2014: 66-71

66. Patrick Weekes, Dragon Age: The Masked Empire. Tor, 2014. ARC from

Read for review at

67. Seanan McGuire, Sparrow Hill Road. DAW, 2014. ARC from

Read for review at

68. R.S.A. Garcia, Lex Talionis. Dragonwell Publishing, 2014. ARC via a friend who is a friend of the author.

This is an interesting debut effort that shows promise, but structurally the execution lacks coherence and suffers from a case of and also the kitchen sink in terms of what kind of story it is trying to be. (It is also in many respects setting itself up as the first novel in a series: it is not satisfactorily complete in itself in my view.) It is an enjoyable novel if you can live with its structural problems.

69. Max Gladstone, Two Serpents Rise. Tor, 2013.

Gladstone's second novel is one that I found difficult to get into at first. In fact, it took reading his third novel for me to go back and get past the bit I was sticking on. But once past the hump (past page fifty or so) it turns into something tense and great: not quite as good for me as Three Parts Dead or Full Fathom Five, but still an excellent entry by a writer who's shaping up to be one of the field's best new voices.

70. Max Gladstone, Full Fathom Five. Tor, 2014. ARC from

Read for review at A novel I really enjoyed.


71. Sahar Amer, Crossing Borders: Love Between Women in Medieval French and Arabic Literatures. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2008.

This is an interesting, illuminating analysis of literary connections between medieval French and Arabic literature in the area of love between women. Amer's arguments for reading the presence of silent "lesbian" or "lesbian-like" relations in some medieval French poetry are not always convincing, but her arguments about the limited nature of only seeing intertextuality in direct textual influence are persuasive. Too, this is perhaps the first book I have read that incorporates an accessible English-language introductory summary of same-sex and particularly lesbian love in medieval Arabic literature. I've added several titles to my list of "medieval Arabic texts in translation I want to read," even if some of them are in French. (One day I will have the leisure to learn classical Arabic. And German.)

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I'm not counting the books I read mostly all the way through for research. Writing them up would take more effort than I have left right now.

Books 2014: 53-65

53. Jaime Lee Moyer, A Barricade in Hell. Tor, 2014. ARC courtesy of publisher.

Read for review for An improvement on the previous novel. Interesting-if-flawed ghost story/murder mystery set in San Francisco during WWI.

54. Glenda Larke, The Lascar's Dagger. Orbit, 2014. Copy courtesy of publisher.

Read for inclusion in SWM column. Interesting fantasy clearly influenced by the mercantile 16th and 17th centuries. Pacing sags in the middle, much like Larke's other books. Will discuss elsewhere.

55. P.C. Hodgell, The Sea of Time. Baen, 2014. Ebook. ARC courtesy of publisher.

Read for review. The latest P.C. Hodgell novel, which I've been gasping for. It is, alas, something of a middle book. But still full of Jame apologetically breaking things.

56-59. Joanna Bourne, The Spymaster's Lady, My Lord and Spymaster, The Forbidden Rose and The Black Hawk. Ebooks, 2008-2013.

Romance novels set during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. Heard of via Marie Brennan. I have a serious weakness for spies. There is not enough entertainment with spies in.

60-65. Meredith Duran, Wicked Becomes You, Your Wicked Heart, That Scandalous Summer, Bound By Your Touch, Fool Me Twice, Written On Your Skin. Ebooks, 2009-2014.

Historical romance novels. I probably shouldn't have bought them all, but I was at the point in the scrabbling anxiety cycle where I needed to read something - compulsively - and romance novels were safe. Duran is good at her chosen genre.

Failed to get very far into: A.M. Dellamonica, Child of a Hidden Sea. Tor, 2014. ARC courtesy of the publisher. There's nothing wrong with this book, but it's a sort of portal fantasy and the tone and approach hasn't grabbed me.

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Books 2014: 46-52

46. S.L. Huang, Zero Sum Game. Ebook, 2014. Forthcoming. Copy courtesy of author.

This is a very fun book, in a subgenre-crossing way. Set in LA, it strikes me as tonally urban fantasy but with a science fiction explanation. And maybe a little superhero genre thrown in.

47. Nnedi Okorafor, Lagoon. Hodder & Stoughton, 2014. Forthcoming. Copy courtesy of publisher.

I've talked about this elsewhere. A really interesting book.

48. Kate Elliott, The Law of Becoming. Ebook, date that I should look up but won't. (1994?)

Final Jaran book. Will mention in column. Interesting, if one has read the previous books. Sprawling. Surprising. Enjoyed it.

49. Sophia McDougall, Mars Evacuees. Egmont, 2014. Forthcoming. Copy courtesy of author.

Very fun science fiction story aimed at 9-12s. Have mentioned elsewhere, will mention in column.

50. Django Wexler, The Forbidden Library. Doubleday, 2014. Forthcoming. Copy courtesy of publisher.

Very fun fantasy story aimed at 9-12s. Have mentioned elsewhere.

51. Karen Healey, While We Run. Little, Brown & Co., 2014. Forthcoming. Copy courtesy of publisher.

Really good science fiction. Read for review for Highly recommended.

52. Greg van Eekhout, California Bones. Tor, 2014. Forthcoming. Copy courtesy of

Read for review for This is a really good heist novel with some deeply interesting worldbuilding. Highly recommended.

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Books 2014: 34-45

34-36. Kate Elliott, Jaran, An Earthly Crown, and His Conquering Sword. Ebooks, Open Road Media, first published 1992-1993.

Read to cover in a later SWM column. It's odd, sometimes, to come to a writer's earlier work after their more mature stuff, and see the outlines of similar thematic concerns: much here is familiar, if in very different form, from the Crossroads trilogy. The through-line is more scattered, less developed, less well-defined - less, in all those respects that define a writer's craft, mature - but these are still interesting novels, combining SFnal and fantastic scopes.

37. Ankaret Wells, Heavy Ice. Ebook, 2014, copy courtesy of the author.

Will be mentioned in future SWM column. A lot of fun, set in the same universe (but many generations later) as The Maker's Mask and The Hawkwood War. As with my previous experience of Wells' books, the first half is very good and then the conclusion rather less good at pulling all the narrative threads together than one might wish.

But still, very fun. I want to read more like this.

38. Barbara Ann Wright, A Kingdom Lost. Ebook, Bold Strokes Books, 2014. Copy courtesy of publisher.

Third in series, after Pyramid Waltz and For Want of a Fiend. Wright has not developed any further as a prose stylist, but her grasp of narrative and tension, already solid, has here improved. I am decidedly pro Epic Fantasy With Lesbians, so I was already inclined to look favourably upon this novel - unfortunately, Wright and her publishers have chosen to hang a cliffhanger right in the middle of the climactic fight/chase sequence, which is a bit Bad Show, Chaps in my books.

I'm still looking forward to the next installment, though.

39. Jeannie Lin, The Jade Temptress. Ebook, Harlequin, 2014.

Romance set in Tang dynasty China. Rather weaker, I think, than Lin's previous books.

40-41. Deborah J. Ross, The Seven-Petaled Shield and Shanivar. DAW, 2013. Copy courtesy of the publisher.

Will be mentioned in future SWM column. I am a bit "meh" on these: they're the first two novels in what seems like a not-particularly-imaginative epic fantasy series (trilogy?) but I can see how they might be more some other, less jaded reader's cup of tea. However, I read three separate series in short order that featured clearly Mongol-inspired steppe nomads, and of these Ross's are the least convincing/interesting.

42. Brian Staveley, The Emperor's Blades. Tor, 2014. Copy courtesy

A review of this will go up elseweb tomorrow. Short version: I was not very impressed.

43. Elizabeth Bear, Steles of the Sky. Tor, 2014. Copy courtesy of the publisher.

Will be mentioned in future SWM column. WOW. Masterpiece conclusion to an amazing trilogy. Bear's books have only been in front of the public for about ten years: this may not mark the height of her potential powers. But wow. If she improves on this, if fate spares her to us for long enough? Forty years down the line, we may be talking of her as we talk today of Ursula LeGuin.


44. Peter Temin, The Roman Market Economy. Princeton University Press, Princeton & Oxford, 2013.

I will confess that after I started reading this, it became the thing I read when I wanted something to help bore me to sleep. Temin is an economist, and despite his best efforts to make himself comprehensible to non-economists, the economist-specific jargon and calculations are impenetrable where they aren't tedious. In many respects it is a useful examination/elucidation of Roman markets and the operation of a Roman business economy: in other respects, Temin falls prey to the perennial problem of economists, and stops seeing people as people. His background as an economist of the 20th century obtrudes itself noticeably at times, when he makes certain statements about society in antiquity that feel rather strange to me. It feels as though he isn't using a wide enough variety of kinds of evidence to support his statements - the quantitative evidence is scanty, yes, but there is more contextual evidence that could be brought into play to illuminate his arguments.

But ultimately, for its discussion of trade, the Roman labour market, and of the constraints of Malthusian population theory versus economic growth, it is interesting and useful in sum, even if I decline to try to follow its mathematics.

45. David Constantine, In The Footsteps of the Gods: Travelers to Greece and the Quest for the Hellenic Ideal. I.B. Tauris, London, 2011. First published 1984.

This is a book about the image of Greece in the writing of French, English and German travelers to the Ottoman lands during the 1700s. Constantine's background as a scholar of German literature is clear in his particular focuses. He deals with Winckelmann and Riedesel, Guys and Wood, Spon and Wheler, Chiseul and Tournefort, Robert Chandler, the reflection of Hellenism in the German literature of the late 18th century - but this is not the book I hoped to read. Its focus is literary, rather than technical and historical, and it does not ever give a Greek or even Ottoman perspective on all these interfering northern Europeans. Still an interesting book, but unsatisfying to the archaeologist.

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Books 2014: 20-33

20. Heather Rose Jones, Daughter of Mystery, Bella Books, 2014.

Written about this one elsewhere. Pretty good stuff.

21. Marie Rutkoski, The Winner's Curse, FSG, 2014.

Written about this one elsewhere, too. A lot of fun, but flawed.

22-25. Carsen Taite, Beyond Innocence, Rush, Slingshot, and Battle Axe. Bold Strokes Books, electronic, various.

Lesbian romance. Not SFF, and I was deceived to the extent of the role played by mysteries. The latter two have more better mysteries, and are more enjoyable. Not particularly great quality, but not notably terrible either.

26. Tessa Dare, Romancing the Duke, electronic, 2014.

Regency romance. Slight, but entertaining. Also, fandom jokes. Recommendation came via Tansy Rayner Roberts.

27. Rjurik Davidson, Unwrapped Sky. Tor, 2014.

Reviewed on Did not enjoy.

28. Joanne M. Harris, The Gospel of Loki. Gollancz, 2014.

For review for SH. Breezy but slight.

29. Jacqueline Carey, Santa Olivia. Grand Central, 2009.

I hear a lot of people referring to this as YA. It doesn't feel like YA to me at all. But it is really good. All about oppression and life and comings of age in multiple directions. Also boxing. It is big on the boxing. Recommended.

30. Andrzej Sapkowski, Blood of Elves. Gollancz, 2008. Translated by Danusia Stok.

Interesting. I'm not sure I'd stick with the series if I hadn't played the videogame. It seems fairly so-so, a little bit too clearly pulling from RPG roots. And not great at its female characters. On the other hand, it does have a certain something...


31. Robert R. Desjarlais, Body and Emotion: The Aesthetics of Illness and Healing in the Nepal Himalayas. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1992.

Some really good, really readable, immensely interesting anthropology. Desjarlais does the difficult thing of trying to portray a cultural practice from inside and outside perspectives at once, while keeping his own position in the narrative, and the impossibility of outsiders ever achieving true inside perspectives, perfectly clear.

Also he has a really interesting angle.

32. Robert Knapp, Invisible Romans: Prostitutes, Outlaws, Slaves, Gladiators, Ordinary Men and Women... The Romans That History Forgot. Profile Books, London and New York, 2013.

A decent enough introduction, I suppose, but Knapp limits himself by concentrating solely on inscriptions, literature, and - mainly Pompeian - iconography, failing to make a remotely adequate use of archaeological evidence and research. He also generalises and simplifies in ways that are I suppose unavoidable in a general survey, but where this general survey has another point of failure is in its unwillingness to point the reader clearly to where work has been done in greater depth. It also neglects to point out that there are differences in the Roman experience from one end of the Roman empire to the other.

I'm not satisfied with it in the least. But I suppose it's a decent enough introduction to some aspects of social history.

33. Wilfrid Priest, William Blackstone: Law and Letters in the Eighteenth Century. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2012.

A biography of William Blackstone, most famous for his four-volume commentary on the English common law. An Oxford fellow, an MP, a judge, something of an academic reformer, his biography makes for interesting reading - and now I want to read more about English 18th-century law, too.

History! It's fun! Recommended if you like the 18th century.

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11 February 2014 @ 11:38 pm
...because I needed to get some bread and milk. And eat them.

I am still not counting books half- or mostly- read for research. Only cover-to-cover counts!

Books 2014: 13-19

13. Anna Kashina, Blades of the Old Empire. Angry Robot Books, 2014.

WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN. Review forthcoming (I hope) at

Yeah. So that happened.

14. Deborah Coates, Strange Country. Tor, 2014.

Review copy from Tor. I hope I'll get to talk about this in my column. It's an interesting entry in Coates' rural-contemporary fantasy-with-ghosts. I don't like it as much as the excellent Wide Open or its immediate predecessor Deep Down, but it's still a very solid book.

15. Seanan McGuire, Half-Off Ragnarok. DAW, 2014.

Review copy from DAW. I also want to talk about this in the column. It's a great deal of fun, although not quite as entertaining, for me, as the Verity Price installments: it's also interesting to see McGuire's narrative pattern at work.

16. Peter Higgins, Truth and Fear. Orbit, 2014.

Review copy from Orbit. Review forthcoming from Higgins has an excellent turn of with prose, and Truth and Fear pulls off its climax with rather more verve and, well, climax than its immediate predecessor, but it is more the second part of a novel-in-three-parts than a book that stands well on its own, and we have yet to see proof that Higgins can bring a narrative to an ultimately satisfactory conclusion.

17. Carrie Vaughn, After the Golden Age. Tor, 2011.

Copy courtesy of I want to talk about this, and its sequel, in the column too. It is a very interesting take on superhero stories, and one of the few superhero stories I've read that's appealed to me on any bar the most superficial levels. It is doing interesting things with family and privilege, I think, although I'd like to think about it more.

18. Carrie Vaughn, Dreams of the Golden Age. Tor, 2014.

Copy courtesy of Sequel of sorts (the next generation) to the aforementioned After the Golden Age, and a little bit more straightforwardly a superhero story - and thus less appealing to me. Feels somewhat as though it might appeal to a YA agegroup, but on the other hand maybe not. Interesting and entertaining, on the whole.


19. Robert Darnton, The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France. WW Norton, London & New York, 1996.

This is a book with a very tight focus: the illegal book trade in France in the couple of decades before the Revolution. A little under two-thirds of it is history, well-written, well-sourced, and not infrequently entertaining (although I should recommend having read at least a summary of the period in question before diving it); the remainder is devoted to significant extracts in translation from three of the most popular illegal books with which Darnton is concerned.

Pornography and philosophy were close kindred in 18th century France, it seems, and both were equally dangerous for the people who traded in them. Indeed, one of the most popular novels of the period is a philosophical tract with pornographic interludes, or a pornographic tract with philosophical interludes - they were, at any rate, close bedfellows, and booksellers asked their suppliers to provide them with works in the "philosophical" line when they meant illegal books of any flavour.

It is a very interesting read, although now I want to read more about illegal literature and censorship in Europe as a whole in the 18th century.

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I'm halfway to completely burned out, and my trip to a counseling appointment yesterday afternoon left me feeling sick vulnerable and judged and misunderstood. (Which lead to live-tweeting a terrible book to distract myself, which led to hilarious giggling and insomnia and vague feelings of guilt that someone let that book out into the world... but that's another story.)

So, books! I've probably lost track of one or two at this point.

Books 2014: 10-12

10. Greg Rucka, Whiteout. Oni Press, 2007. Illustrated by Steve Lieber.

Very different to the film of the same name. Rather better.

11. Martha Wells, Emilie and the Sky World. Strange Chemistry, 2014.

Reviewed for Fun book! Go read it!

12. Katherine Addison, The Goblin Emperor. Tor, 2014.

Review copy from Tor. I am to review it for This is an amazing book. I mean seriously bloody wonderful: excellent politics, nice quiet interpersonal stuff, such a wonderful compelling protagonist. GO PREORDER IT NOW.

Katherine Addison is the new pen-name for Sarah Monette. For those of us familiar with Monette's other writing, I feel I should add that The Goblin Emperor's protagonist is much more likeable than many of the characters in The Doctrine of Labyrinths, and while the world-building is just as marvellously baroque the overall tone is much less noirish, much more optimistic.


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17 January 2014 @ 10:11 pm
...doesn't mean it isn't work. And consequently wearying.

I'm not going to count half-books read for research. But they'd bring the total up.

Books 2014: 7-9

7. Patricia Briggs, Night Broken. Ace, 2014.

Review forthcoming at Another installment in the Mercy Thompson series, continuing the pattern established in previous installments.


8. Carl von Clauswitz, On War. Everyman's Library. New York/London/Toronto, 1993. Translated from the German.

Why, you might ask, did I read On War? It is seven hundred and seventy-one pages (excluding the modern commentary) in this edition, and the print is not noticeably large.

Well, why not?

Clauswitz is one of those intellectual figures who's frequently quoted - "War is simply a continuation of political intercourse, with the addition of other means," and, "War is an instrument of policy," among the most famous quotes - but seldom read, and that's a shame. Because Clauswitz is surprisingly readable for a theorist of 19th-century warfare, and many of his points remain valid for today. Especially the first chapter of the first book of On War, entitled "What Is War?" - it should be required reading for everyone with a passing interest in politics and international diplomacy. (The second chapter, "Purpose and Means in War," and the seventh, "Friction in War," are likewise particularly illuminating reading.)

On War was unfinished at the time of Clauzwitz's death, and the complete rewrite that he indicates he intended was never completed. But it's still an immensely interesting look at war as phenomenon, in its context.

9. David Cressy, Dangerous Talk: Scandalous, Seditious, and Treasonable Speech in Pre-Modern England. Oxford University Press. Oxford, 2012. First published 2010.

I read unrelated-to-my-research history books for ongoing relaxation. Often it takes me some weeks, even months, to finish one. Cressy's, though, I finished inside a week: it is an interesting, engaging look at speech crime in England from the late medieval period to the 19th century.

Not at all crimes of speech, mind you. Just speech which went contrary to the established order. Scandalous speech, which affected the reputation of notables and nobles; seditious speech, an amorphous category, which touched slightingly upon matters of state and the royal person; and treasonable speech, which "compassed or imagined the death of the king," and for which people could at various times be executed - rather than the more usual mutilation, branding, fines, whipping, and imprisonment that applied to lesser speech crimes. (Depending on the type of speech, and the contemporary zeitgeist, of course.) The reigns of Henry VIII, Mary, and Elizabeth I were especially perilous times in which to grumble about the status quo.

Cressy reconstructs the speech crimes mostly from magistrates' records, records of judicial proceedings, and Star Chamber records. The spoken word is ephemeral, but when reported as a crime it could enter the record, bringing with it some fragment of how lower class people, whose words are not generally preserved, viewed the political issues of their day - and what kind of talk went on in alehouses, taverns, and the occasional gentry dinner gathering. (A common excuse for seditious speech was, it seems, to plead I was so drunk I didn't know what I was saying! I didn't mean it!)

All told, a really interesting book.

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Books 2014: 1-6

1. Amalie Howard, The Almost Girl. Strange Chemistry, 2014. ARC.

Reviewed at I fear I may have been rather unkind to the poor thing.

2. David Weber, Like A Mighty Army. Tor, 2014. ARC.

Review forthcoming at Very much following the tone of previous Safehold books: more wargaming than character development.

3. Marie Brennan, The Tropic of Serpents. Tor, 2014. ARC.

Review forthcoming at Sequel to A Natural History of Dragons. I like it. Lots.

4. David Drake, The Sea Without A Shore. Baen, 2014. Electronic ARC.

Next in Drake's entertaining RCN space opera series. And, in the way of that series, very enjoyable.

5. David Weber and Timothy Zahn, A Call to Duty. Baen, 2014. Electronic ARC.

Set in the early days of the Star Kingdom of Manticore, the setting might be David Weber, but the style, energy, verve, and attention to character is all Zahn. I like Zahn's work: I tend to like it best when he's playing with other people's toys, and whatever one may say about Weber's latest works, he has an impressive toybox when it comes to Manticore and its navy - and its navy's history. I liked it a lot, and I'm delighted to hear that it's only the first in a contracted trilogy.

6. Courtney Milan, The Countess Conspiracy. Ebook, gift.

Excellent historical romance involving science. I like science.

I keep thinking I'm forgetting something. Probably I am.

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07 January 2014 @ 06:09 pm
Although, to be perfectly honest, I don't entirely remember everything from December. I re-read David Drake's entire RCN series, and probably some other things, but that does not quite count for the purpose of keeping count.

Books 197-201

197. Faith Hunter, Death's Rival. Roc, 2012.

Fun violent urban fantasy.

198-199. Sharon Shinn, The Shape of Desire and Still Life With Shapeshifter. Ace, 2013.

Not exactly interesting romance with minimal point to the fantastic content.

200. Libby McGugan, Eidolon. Solaris, 2013.

Reviewed for Vector. Oy, how boring and irritating was this book.

201. Michelle Sagara, Touch. DAW, 2014. ARC courtesy of DAW.

An excellent sequel to the excellent Silence. I should be reviewing it for shortly.

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20 November 2013 @ 09:10 pm
Books 2013: 192-196

192. Nicola Griffith, Hild. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013.

HILD HILD HILD HILD. This is the best book. The best book. I am incoherent with praise, wordless with delighted satisfaction. Read this book.

193. Josephine Tey, A Shilling for Candles. Arrow reprint, originally published 1936.

Nice mystery. Lovely prose at points. Horrible anti-Semitism and racism. Just nasty shit.

194. Laurell K. Hamilton, Affliction.

These books are still a trainwreck. Sometimes it is entertaining to read a trainwreck, as long as one doesn't have to pay money for the privilege.

195. Sharon Shinn, Royal Airs. Ace, 2013.

Light, fluffy, pretty fun.


196. Susan P. Mattern, The Prince of Medicine: Galen in the Roman Empire. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013.

An excellent biography, revealing both about its subject and about the Roman world.

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Books 2013: 181-191

181. Judith Tarr, Alamut. Ebook.

I don't think I remembered to include this in the last couple of lists. Medieval Outremer high romance, with fantasy. Interesting, but it did not incline me strongly towards picking up the sequel.

182. Barbara Hambly, The Kindred of Darkness. eARC, Severn House, forthcoming 2014.

Another excellent Hambly vampire novel. I will review this at length elsewhere.

183. Sharon Lee, Carousel Sun. eARC, Baen, forthcoming 2014.

Urban fantasy. Not as tight a novel as its predecessor, the first book in the series, Carousel Tides - a little bit fragmentary and episodic - but an entertaining read.

184. Sharon Shinn, Troubled Waters. Ace, 2011.

A solid, compelling fantasy with interesting, believable characters and a well-done central romance. GIVE ME NEXT BOOK PLEASE.

185. Mark Charan Newton, Drakenfeld. Tor, 2013.

Locked-room murder mystery in a fantasy world. Mostly solid; characterisation and prose a bit flat, but I like mysteries, and I also like fantasy novels where not everyone is particularly good at or enthusiastic about violence. I will be looking out for sequels.

186. Josephine Tey, The Man In The Queue. Arrow reprint, originally published 1929.

That could have been more racist. Lovely prose, interesting mystery, but OY RACISM. Like being slapped about the face with a wet and rotting fish in the middle of a nice dinner.

187. Katharine Kerr, License to Ensorcell. DAW, 2011.

What does one call a guy who bullies a woman about her eating habits, insists on staying in her apartment to "protect" her, gets his own keys cut from her keys without permission, and assumes she's going to move countries to live with him after they've had sex once?

This might have been an entertaining urban fantasy, save that the Israeli Interpol agent positioned as the partner/love interest type was CONTROLLING ASSHOLE RED FLAG RED FLAG GIANT WARNING, and the text treating his boundary-crossing behaviour as an irritating but slightly endearing personality quirk I mean really WTF?

188. Stephanie Saulter, Gemsigns. Jo Fletcher Books, 2013.

Reviewed at Strange Horizons. Good stuff.

189. Greer Gilman, Cry Murder! In A Small Voice. Small Beer Press, 2013.

Review forthcoming at Strange Horizons. Very shiny novella.

190-191. Faith Hunter, Mercy Blade and Raven Cursed. Ace, 2011-2012.

Solidly entertaining urban fantasy novels with vampires and werecreatures and witches and things going BOOM in interesting configurations.

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Books 2013: 161-180

161. Glenda Larke, The Last Stormlord. Orbit, 2009.

Epic fantasy. Interesting world-building, but the characterisation is inconsistent or occasionally odd, and the narrative drive and tension are not driving enough to make up for it. It isn't doing enough with the space it has, which makes it feel slack and rather aimless at times.

162-165. Jeannie Lin, The Dragon and the Pearl, The Lotus Palace, Butterfly Swords and My Fair Concubine. Ebooks, various recent years.

These are entertaining romances set mostly in Tang dynasty China. Fun, really good incluing technique - as necessary in historical work as the genres of the fantastic - and the romance did not make me want to stab anyone in the face. Rather the opposite, in fact.

166-167. Sophia Kell Hagin, Whatever Gods May Be and Shadows of Something Real. Ebooks, various recent years.

Near-future stories starring a lesbian main character. The first is a war story, and the second less easily categorised. They're surprisingly good, with real confidence in the prose.

168. C.S. Friedman, In Conquest Born. DAW, 1986, 2001 reprint.

Science fiction. Empires. Psychics. Space battles. Disturbing, unpleasant; depiction of a culture where male-on-female rape is normal, practically a requirement; characters all on the antihero end of the spectrum. Not My Cup Of Tea At All.

169-170. Jacqueline Carey, Dark Currents and Autumn Bones. Roc, 2012 and 2013.

Delightful, entertaining, interesting urban fantasy set in a small American town. More like this, please.

171. Tamora Pierce, Battle Magic. Scholastic, 2013.

Once again Pierce delivers a grand adventure involving young people. Although her not-Tibet and not-China has me side-eyeing a bit: the strokes are a little too broad, and the war is a little too easily won.

172-173. Lesley Davis, Dark Wings Descending and Pale Wings Protecting. Ebooks, recent dates.

Bad lesbian romance, with a side-order of cops and angels and demons.

174. Mira Grant, Parasite. Orbit, 2013.

Seanan McGuire really likes mad science, biological apocalypses, conspiracies, and simple organisms. I mean, really really really likes.

I'm going to need some time to think about this novel, really. There is a shit-tonne of info-dumping (through various methods, but a lot through excerpts from news sources and autobiographies), and the voice doesn't seem particularly distinct from the rest of McGuire's oeuvre, Discount Armageddon and sequel aside. On the other hand, I rather like the soft apocalypse conceit.

It's not mind-blowing. It's rather like John Scalzi's novels - moderately interesting concepts, middle-of-the-road execution - which clearly isn't exactly a niche market. I would like it to excite me more than it does. But it's also very... American? It nests itself within - or perhaps it nests within itself - so many assumptions about how the world works, and how central America is to the world, that it creates in me a sense of disconnect and alienation.


175. Gail Simone, Batgirl Vol. 1. DC, 2013.

So I am converted to the idea of comics as an interesting medium now. Also Gail Simone is awesome.

176-177. Greg Rucka, Private Wars and The Last Run. Bantam, 2005 and 2010.

Rucka writes the best spy thrillers. No, really. The best. And I'm not just saying that because I would kill to see his Queen and Country stuff made into a good television series.

178-180. Greg Rucka and various artists, Queen and Country, collected volumes one through three. Oni Press.

I am extra converted to the idea of comics as an interesting medium. Rucka's facility with writing flawed, ethically compromised, yet immensely compelling characters is brilliantly on display. Fantastic work.

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02 October 2013 @ 02:51 pm
I just know I will have forgotten some.

Books 2013: 139-160

139. Timothy Zahn, Star Wars: Scoundrels. Del Rey, 2013.

I have always loved Zahn's Star Wars novels. Scoundrel is Star Wars meets Ocean's 11, with Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian the only original trilogy characters really appearing - and with Han in the role of the man organising the Grand Heist. It takes place some time before the Battle for Hoth, between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back.

(A couple of my favourite extended universe characters - Kell and Winter - also appear here.)

It is a really well done heist narrative, with complications and recomplications, although I think one of the withholding-information tricks Zahn used in order to work another familiar character in did not, in final analysis, actually pay off.

Still really fun.

140. Martha Wells, Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion: Razor's Edge. Del Rey, 2013.

Another novel set after A New Hope and before Empire Strikes Back. Wells is an excellent writer and tells a good story - but for a novel purporting to focus on Leia, her character carries nearly none of the story's emotional freight. So that was a little disappointing.

Not disappointing at all, however, is how filled with interesting female characters Wells' vision of Star Wars is.

141. Nalo Hopkinson, Sister Mine. Grand Central, 2013.

A delightful urban fantasy with weird gods and weirder family dynamics set in Toronto. Well recommended.

142. D.B. Jackson, Thieves' Quarry. Tor, 2013.

Urban fantasy set in Boston in the 1770s. Entertaining, but not especially my cup of tea. Characters felt a bit flat, and the central mystery felt more People Running Around At Cross Purposes than actively compelling.

143. Diane Duane, Star Trek: The Wounded Sky. Titan, 1989.

Duane's Star Trek novels are always interesting space opera.

144. Kelly McCullough, Blade Reforged. Ace, 2013.

Entertaining second-world urban fantasy with assassins and a coup and Deeply Laid Plots. Fourth in series. Recommended.

145. Jeanne Lin, The Sword Dancer. Ebook.

Romance set in historic China. A bit odd (but that is a function of it being a romance), at points a bit slow, but entertaining.

146-147. Helen Lowe, The Heir of Night and The Gathering of the Lost. Orbit, 2010-2012.

Oh dear sweet overblown Grand Epic Fantasy. These books have serious structural problems and occasional line of direction fail. And yet. I would have loved these when I was thirteen, and they still curled into the Fond Of Overblown Destiny and COOL SHIT corner of my heart.

148. Madeleine E. Robins, Sold For Endless Rue. Forge, 2013.

Historical novel based on the bones of a Rapunzel story. I am a sucker for female doctors and Salerno, but I don't think the structure worked as well as it might have. Still, very good book.

149-150. Alex Bledsoe, The Hum and the Shiver and Wisp of a Thing. Tor, 2011-2013.

One of these is a very good book: The Hum and the Shiver is an excellent work of small-town fantasy, playing up its liminality and strangeness. It does not resolve all its threads, but it resolves many...

Wisp of a Thing, on the other hand, is full of manpain, has some dodgy SPECIALNESS, and resolves with an extra dodgy nod at a happy ending which SKEEVED ME THE FUCK OUT, okay. Thanks for ruining The Hum and the Shiver for me, Wisp of a Thing.

151-153. Andi Marquette, Friends in High Places, A Matter of Blood, and Edge of Rebellion. Ebooks.

Fun, pulpy, not excessively well-written (but on the other hand far from terrible) space opera. With lesbians. That is not a lesbian romance in terms of its focus. With a feel somewhere between Star Wars and Firefly.

154-155. Gaie Sebold, Babylon Steel and Dangerous Gifts. Solaris, 2011-2012.

I do not know how to talk about these books. I love them a lot: they are like a cross between noir and sword-and-sorcery in the Conan mould - except centering women. It is sword-and-sorcery for the girl who wanted to grow up to be Conan (except better), and I'm very happy with that.

156. Elizabeth Bear, Book of Iron. Subterranean Press, 2013.

A brilliant standalone novella in the same world as Bear's Range of Ghosts and Bone and Jewel Creatures. Read it.

157. Robert Graves, The White Goddess. Review copy, 2013 reprint.

I want those hours of my life back.


158. Charlotte Delbo, Auschwitz and After.

Which I spoke of here.

159. Pál Engel, The Realm of St. Stephen: A History of Medieval Hungary 895-1526. English translation by Andrew Ayton. I.B. Tauris, 2005.

Which I spoke of here.

160. Daniela Dueck, Hugh Lindsay, and Sarah Pothecary, Strabo's Cultural Geography: the making of a kolossourgia. Cambridge University Press, 2005.

An interesting collection of papers on Strabo's work.

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25 August 2013 @ 11:11 pm
I will be forgetting books, probably. Because I haven't updated in a month.

Books 2013: 118-138

118-119. Roberta Gellis, Bone of Contention and Chains of Folly.

Medieval murder mysteries. Not half bad.

120. Rae Carson, The Bitter Kingdom. Greenwillow, 2013., surprisingly, hasn't published the review I sent in. I should follow that up. Good conclusion to the trilogy.

121. Mary Renault, The King Must Die. Arrow, first 1958.

Already wrote this one up.

122. Carrie Vaughn, Kitty Rocks The House. Tor, 2013.

Not Kitty's best outing. But moderately entertaining nonetheless.

123. Julian Griffith, Love Continuance and Increasing. Ebook. 2013.

Historical poly romance. Pretty good, actually.

124-125. Lilith Saintcrow, The Iron Wyrm Affair and The Red Plague Affair. Orbit, 2012-2013.

Steampunk weird history that is perhaps a little too concerned with rushing through the plot than filling out the hints and implications of its characterisation and asides. Entertaining nonetheless.

126. Maureen Johnson, Devilish. Gift of jennygadget.

Demonic bargains in a US Catholic girls' school. Not actually as interesting as that makes it sound, but still entertaining.

127. Jean Johnson, Hellfire. Roc, 2013.

Third in series. Johnson hasn't quite got the hang of making her narrative an arc with actual development: I'm okay with training montage, which the first two books had a lot of. They also had climax, a bit. But here the narrative is far too bitty and episodic, as if Johnson had a checklist she was determined to knock off rather than make an organic whole.

128. Cat Hellisen, When The Sea Is Rising Red. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013.

Pretty good fantasy that fails to stick its dismount. Still, an excellent debut.

129. Django Wexler, The Thousand Names. Ace, 2013.

Excellent gunpowder/military fantasy with a whole bunch of women in. Do recommend. GIVE ME NEXT ONE NOW.

130. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Trade Secret. Baen, ARC, 2013.

Good next installment. Safe book. Very much a series book. May discuss in column eventually.

131-132. Nahoko Uehashi, Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit and Moribito: Guardian of the Darkness. Scholastic, 2008-2009.

Why have the rest of this series not been translated already? WHY? Excellent if YA-ish Japanese fantasy series. The anime Moribito is based on the first book.

133. Jim C. Hines, Codex Born. DAW, 2013.

Not as good as the first book but still pretty damn fun.

134. Roz Kaveney, Rituals: Rhapsody of Blood. Plus One Press, 2012.

This book is AMAZEBALLS and you all should read it now. It is awesome and full of BOOM and LESBIANS and QUEERNESS and MAGIC and ANCIENT GODS and WOMEN and QUEERNESS and BOOM. Also, someone should snap up the television rights and make a series. Because AMAZEBALLS. It is CRACK FOR LIZES.


135. Daniella Dueck, Geography in Classical Antiquity. Cambridge, 2012.

Part of the Key Themes in Ancient History series. General overview of ancient geography as a discipline. Short and sweet.

136. Michael Scott, Space and Society in the Greek and Roman Worlds. Cambridge, 2013.

Part of the Key Themes in Ancient History series. Overview. What it says on the tin. Brief and not entirely comprehensive, but useful.

137. Lisa C. Nevett, Domestic Space in Classical Antiquity. Cambridge, 2010. 2011 reprint.

As above.

138. Peter Garnsey, Food and Society in Classical Antiquity. Cambridge, 1999. 2002 reprint.

As above. Really interesting.

If there is anything else, I have forgotten it.

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22 July 2013 @ 04:00 pm
Books 2013: 86 - 117

86-91. Katherine V. Forrest, The Beverly Malibu (Naiad Press, US, 1989/1994); Murder By Tradition (Naiad Press, US, 1991/1998); Liberty Square (Berkeley Prime Crime, US, 1996/2000); Apparition Alley (Berkeley Prime Crime, US, 1997/2000); Sleeping Bones (Berkeley Prime Crime, US, 1999); and Hancock Park (Berkeley Prime Crime, US, 2004).

Murder mysteries starring a lesbian cop. Some good, some very good.

92-100. Greg Rucka, Keeper (Bantam, US, 1996); Finder (Bantam, US, 1997/1998); Smoker (Bantam, US, 1998/1999); Shooting at Midnight (Bantam, US, 1999); Critical Space (Bantam, US, 2001/2003); Patriot Acts (Bantam, US, 2007/2008); Walking Dead (Bantam, US, 2009/2010); A Gentleman's Game (Bantam, US, 2004/2005).

Really good thrillers.

101. Charles Stross, Neptune's Brood. Ace, 2013.

Solid SFnal thriller. Reviewed at

102-106. Roberta Gellis, The Kent Heiress; Fortune's Bride; A Woman's Estate; Fires of Winter; and The Rope Dancer. Ebooks

Romances. Not terrible.

107-108. Roberta Gellis, A Mortal Bane and A Personal Devil. Ebooks.

Medieval murder mysteries. Pretty entertaining.

109. Courtney Milan, The Heiress Effect. Ebooks.

Romance. A lot of fun.

110-112. Mercedes Lackey, The Wizard of London; Steadfast; and Home from the Sea. DAW. Ebooks.

Pah. Why did I read these again? Special, special angst.

113. Jaime Lee Moyer, Delia's Shadow. Tor, 2013. Forthcoming.

Review forthcoming from Ideomancer.

114. Beth Bernobich, Allegiance. Tor, 2013. Forthcoming.

Review forthcoming from Ideomancer.

115. Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice. Orbit, 2013. Forthcoming.

THIS BOOK. I make noises about it. READ THIS BOOK.

(I will talk more about it in future.)


116. Robin Osborne, The History Written On The Classical Greek Body. Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Interesting, but not saying anything especially groundbreaking.

117. G.W. Bowersock, Throne of Adulis: Red Sea Wars on the Eve of Islam. Oxford University Press, 2013.

Disappointing. Will talk more about it later.

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Books 2013: 78-85

78. Seanan McGuire, Ashes of Honor. DAW, 2012. Copy courtesy of DAW.

It's a fun series, but HELL PEOPLE. I'm getting really really tired of "Irish" being shorthand for "sensitive to weird-ass made-up mythological shit." (Also, I have never in my life heard of "Bess" being a nickname for Bridget. Really? 'Cause I've always thought of Bess as a peculiarly English shorthand for Elizabeth.) Seriously. Any more of this "Irish" - ahem - bullshit is really going to ruin my generally happy feelings about this series.

79. Ilona Andrews, Magic Rises. Ace, 2013. ARC via

Review to appear on Perfectly cromulent series installment, no real surprises.

80-82. Roberta Gellis, The English Heiress, The Cornish Heiress and Siren Song. Ebooks.

Historic romance from an elder generation - although one would probably be more correct to call them romantic family sagas. Entertaining.

83-85. Ali Vali, The Devil Inside, The Devil Unleashed, and Deal With the Devil. Ebooks.

Lesbian mobsters. Yes, I will read almost anything.

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20 May 2013 @ 05:51 pm
Books 2013: 66-77

Reading has been decidedly difficult for me lately: I lack some level of emotional energy necessary to involve myself in demanding texts at the same rate as heretofore.


66. Melissa Scott, Star Trek DS9: Proud Helios. Ebook.

67. Jean Lorrah, Star Trek Next Generation: Survivors. Ebook.

68. Diane Duane, Star Trek: Sand and Stars. Ebook.

So, these are all actually pretty good light entertainment, although Lorrah's is a bit squicky and problematic.

69-70. Katherine V. Forrest, Amateur City and Murder at the Nightwood Bar. Ebooks.

Murder mysteries from the 1980s, starring a lesbian detective with the LAPD. Pretty excellent stuff, actually: I'd really like to get my hands on the other books in the series. I MEAN IT. THESE BOOKS ARE AWESOME. ACE. GIVE THEM TO ME I NEED THEM.

(I know their names, even if I don't know what order they go in or WHERE TO GET HOLD OF THEM. Liberty Square. The Beverly Malibu. Apparition Alley. Sleeping Bones. Hancock Park. Murder By Tradition. GIVE ME THEM! LET ME FIND EBOOK (non-Amazon) EDITIONS OR SOMETHING.)

Ahem. This is because of a certain someone Who Knows Who She Is. Who sent me a box of delightful books (which I am slowly working my way through), but among them was Daughters of a Coral Dawn, which reminded me that Forrest had written murder mysteries, which led me to the discovery I could get the first two as ebooks.


71-72. Claire McNab, Death by Death and Murder at Random. Gifts.

Lesbians. Spies. Whee? Whee!

(Everything's better with lesbians.)

73. Ali Vali, Blues Skies. Ebook.

Lesbian fighter pilots. Rah military is boring. But everything is better with lesbians.

74. Sara Marx, Decoded. Ebook.

Serial killer thrillers are usually boring. But everything is better with lesbians.

75. Kim Baldwin and Xenia Alexiou, The Gemini Deception. Ebook.

Lesbian romance with espionage/thriller entanglements. Unbelievable setup! But - sing it with me now - EVERYTHING IS BETTER WITH LESBIANS.

76. Lauren Beukes, The Shining Girls. ARC.

Reviewed for I did not like it.

77. China Miéville, Railsea. Review copy.

Reviewed for Vector. I LOVED IT.

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