2009 book list

1. Ex Mechana 3 Er, it’s been 3 months since I read this. I recall it was fairly enjoyable, though maybe not as good as book one and two.
2. Rogue Angel Destiny Alex Archer Interesting adventure story. Main character seems to have a bit much of the super human thing going on even before she gets the sword. Second, possibly third time in a short while that La Bete has featured in a book I’ve read.
3. Terrier Tamora Pierce Well, this is another book by Tamora Pierce. I’m hoping for another story with this character. *edit March 17* Whoo there is another one on the way!
4. Peeps Scott Westerfeld Wonderful. I ran into Westerfeld’s work in his adult stuff. Nice solid SF. His YA is brilliant. Parasite driven vampirism. Beautiful essays on parasites every other chapter. Happyness.
5. The Eternals Neil Gaiman Writing is strong, don’t care about the characters. I’m not really a Marvel or DC person. I’ve got characters I like to read, but they weren’t here.
6. Undertow Elizabeth Bear Not my favorite Elizabeth Bear, but Elizabeth Bear, so better than my favorite books by any number of other artists.
7. Eve Proto Mecha Lusen, Lichtner, and Garza Decent graphic novel/comic book. I hope to hunt down the rest of the story eventually. The title character is massively malformed has a pretty standard comic book female’s proportions. She’s a robot, so the fact that this doesn’t mean that she is inherently non-functional like biological versions of the body type would be is cancelled out by the fact that there is no good reason for the old guy who built her to make her that way. Like the story, other than my gripe about EVE herself, I like the artwork. Oh gods, I just went to check on the other female characters (reasonable physiques) and noticed that in several pictures, EVE’s breasts appear to have been stuck on as an afterthought. Not Youngbloods or Gen 13 bad, but bad.
8. Eternal War A series of space marine themed warhammer 40k comics. *Shrugs* They get the feel of the setting at least.
9. The Last Days Scott Westerfeld I return to my burgeoning love of Mr. Westerfeld’s YA work. It doesn’t use the parasitology lecture framing device I liked so much in Peeps, but it is a fine addition to his body of work in the Peeps world, even if it does
10. The Book of Night With Moon Diane Duane This is an auxiliary book in the Young Wizards series. It has brief appearances by the main series protagonists, but it focuses on the cats who maintain the world gates. An interesting look at some of the non-human wizards and the shape of the Choice of some of the other creatures. (Not my favorite of the Choices, but still neat.)
11. Jennifer Government Max Barry I’ve been meaning to read this one for a while, and almost decided that it wasn’t worth the hype when Mr. Barry brought my main gripe to the front and center. Part way through the book, he has one of the characters reading The Space Merchants and commenting on it. If he hadn’t done that, I think I would have had a hard time breaking away from the parallels between the two books. All in all it is a competent to good near future story in the low chrome cyberpunk tradition.
12. Sing the Four Quarters Tanya Huff. First of the Quarters novels, with a realistic teen to young adult protagonist. (Meaning I wanted to strangle her more than occasionally.) Next book in the set is set elsewhere with different people, which isn’t best in life, but what are you going to do? Not every day can be pillaging and such.
13. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Comics Pale Reflections, Crash Test Demons, and Bad Blood Sort of in the middle of a story here, but it is set before the parts of Buffy I’ve watched at this point.
14. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Comics Willow and Tara Amber Benson et al. I liked this set better than the more standard Buffy comics, but then I’m pretty sure that Willow and Tara are my favorite characters in the setting.
15 Megatokyo Volume 5 Fred Gallagher I’ve been reading Megatokyo since the middle of college. No surprises here. I think I’ve said this before, but MT works much better as a manga than as a web comic. (Which makes sense, as Fred wanted to make a manga.)
16. Forge of the Mindslayers Tim Waggoner Second book of the Blade of the Flame series, quite possibly my favorite Eberron material. This one delved further into Diran and Ghagi’s pasts and demonstrated the sort of special project that got spun and abandoned during the Last War.
17. The Sea of Death Tim Waggoner 3rd book of the blade of the Flame series. Vol’s running a Xanatos Gambit edging into Xanatos Roulette here. I’m really hoping for more Dirian and Ghagi books.
18. The Sagittarius Command R.M. Meluch This is the third Merrimack book. I’m pretty sure I assumed that Meluch was a guy in my first writeup of her work. Why? Not because she writes space combat, but because I internalized Asimov’s rant about women hiding their names as initials and assumed that everyone else did too, and because the ending used a plot device that annoys me a lot, one that I associate with male writers because it was developed and made badly stale by male writers at least 40 years before I was born. Oh yeah, I like this book a lot (I liked the first book except for the last 20 pages or less.)
19. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight 1-12 Assorted authors. I’m enjoying this series. So far it has been hit or miss for the tone of the best of Buffy. Book 12 has the most perfect reveal scene in the series so far, though the early scene with Buffy monologuing at Dawn is close, and Willow’s first appearance is awesome. (I so want to quote it, but that would spoil one of the better scenes in the early series.) Even if I’m not sure that she or Buffy deserves all of her lines later on. There is some big time healing that needs to happen to make their relationship make sense. Same as the end of Season 7.)
20. Midnighters: The Secret Hour Scott Westerfeld I’m not as enthralled with this one as with the Peeps universe. Still, good solid YA writing. I’ll give the whole series a chance.
21. Reader and Raelynx Sharon Shinn Another 12 houses book with the requsite fated romance story. This one focuses on the last core member of the party, and the Princess he just spent a year escorting across the country. The war that the series has been building toward happens, the bad guys die, and Sennith once again hijacks the end of the book. *sigh* I like her character. I just wish that when it isn’t her book, the last chapter wouldn’t be all about her.
22. Queen of the Slayers Nancy Holder Ugh. A few major slips in characterization. Major annoying style issues. Whenever she refers to Buffy outside of dialogue it is “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Seriously? Ugh. If she had called her Buffy? We would have known just who it was. Including a main character’s title in every reference doesn’t work. It is a distancing tool you use for secondary characters and even then you drop it if they are emotionally close to the protagonist, unless it is a major issue for the protags. (See the Honor Harrington books. Honor uses titles with her closest friends until she starts growing up Very few exceptions. The narrator? Only when they are on their own, and even then only if they are briefly in view. The titles game is played fairly well to show how Honor (and often we) are supposed to feel about a character. Watch the narrator’s naming of White Haven and Hemphill through the series. (Also? Wikipedia totally screws Hemphill. She’s an important antagonist for the first 3/4ths of the series, and an important ally in the rest.) Also? Nothing happened before Xander’s eyes. He doesn’t have eyes. He has eye. Find a different non-incongruous turn of phrase.)
23. Seven Seasons of Buffy Glenn Yeffeth (ed) A series of essays by SF and F writers on Buffy the Vampire slayer. Fairly enjoyable literary analysis, even if occasionally an author would ignore all of the points that contradicted their thesis.
24. To Visit the Queen Diane Duane As much as I like the young wizards books, there is something particularly neat about reading Rhiow’s viewpoint. Even though she isn’t human, she has a more adult worldview, and seeing how she deals with the Lone Power’s more subtle attacks throughout this book is nice. I’d like to have had a little more resolution of what went on with her human, though I suspect that the next book (which I’m not sure got published. I know back before I was reading her material, there was a push to get it funded without going through her publisher, but it was sort of peripheral to my awareness at the time, with not recognizing the name (even though I’d read her work before.) The two youngest cats could have had another five thousand words to work through their issues as well. That probably would have strengthened that plot for me. All in all, a good book though.
25 Comic Party Book 2 Sekihiko Inui I bought the first book in this series on deep discount several years ago. I’d not bad, but if the library hadn’t had book two I’d probably not have bothered with it.
26. Chobits Book 1 Clamp Hurm... Pretty goy gets female android servant manga so far. Reasonably nice artwork, nothing particularly special. Both this and Comic party use a visual vocabulary that doesn’t quite click with me.
27. Class Dis-Mythed Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye These new Myth books are, in my opinion, not as strong as the best of the earlier books. That said, I am enjoying the Skeeve books in the new set. Skeeve as teacher is neat, and I’m really looking forward to the upcoming book that brings the characters back together. I do wish that these books did the traditional checking back in that the earlier books did whenever we were following only one portion of the cast. Also? The Bunny/Skeeve thing needs to be resolved between them (it has been resolved between all of the other characters, she needs to sit the boy down and give him a good talking to.)
28. Myth-Gotten Gains Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye An Aahz book. I think that Aahz has grown more as a character since the lead up to the dissolution of Myth-inc. I’m not as fond of his stories, even though they do a lot more character building than the Skeeve stories do. This book felt very much like it was there solely to demonstrate Aahz’s new personality.
29. Night Life Catlin Kettredge Supernatural Urban Fantasy. (Not necessarily in the genre romance category by the same name. Not sure yet.) Werewolf Cop in a world where Werewolves are known, if somewhat of an underclass. I like the main character, the setting, and the story. I wasn’t particularly convinced by the love interest, or at least he’s not the sort of guy I understand girls being into. Not a Harry Dresden book, but a very solid first novel. Ketteredge is definitely an author to be watching out for. (I’m pretty sure I heard about this one on Scalzi’s Big Idea posts.)
30. Small Favors Jim Butcher Newest Harry Dresden. Harry’s definitely come into his own as of this book. I hate how long it is going to be before the next one.
31. Shalom Japan Shifra Horn This book was a great experience. Essentially every book on Japanese culture and society that I’ve ever read was written by an American or a Brit. This book was written by an Israeli woman. The cultural divide between the US and Britain is something I’m familiar with. It was neat getting the occasional sense of “oh that’s something odd to notice” response from the book. I enjoyed the hell out of the book.
32. Rogue Angel: Solomon’s Jar Alex Archer First book in the series. Pretty good. Basic action adventure, holy sword. Written by a group, no real character development allowed. This is no problem in book one. The fact that no events carry over to the other books got me to stop reading the series several books later.
33. Good as Lily Derek Kirk Kim and Jesse Hamm Well, this is from DC’s Minx imprint, part of the attempt to bring more girls to comics by writing things that aren’t primarily male warrior fantasies and deformed women in very small amounts of spandex. A revitalization of the non-superhero comic world. I happened to like Grace’s attempts to deal with her younger and older selves, but the copy I read had a serious misprint. Pages 97-128 were missing, replaced with 65-96. Unfortunately, this covered a lot of the character growth that lead to the story’s resolutions.
34. Rogue Angel: The Chosen Alex Archer
35. Rogue Angel: The Spider Stone Alex Archer
36. Rogue Angel: Forbidden City Alex Archer
37. Going Postal Terry Pratchett One of the Industrial revolution books in the Diskworld series. Pretty much by definition, awesome.
38. Hogfather Terry Pratchett
39. Night Watch Terry Pratchett
40. Little Brother Cory Doctrow Hum. It is one AM and I am up reading the review copy of Little Brother that came with the UPS truck today. This isn't particularly non-standard behavior for me, what with the 1:30 AM average bed time. I'm going to post sometime soon about my thoughts about accepting a book that I want in exchange for agreeing to read the book (oh no, not the briar patch!) and talking about it either online or in the physical world. Unfortunately, I'm still figuring out my thoughts on the subject. I think they'll mostly be shaped like "I'm fine with it, but I do wonder if how much my perceptions are being shifted by the fact that I was given a shiny object that I wanted very much right before I started reading the book. And by the standard "wanting to do things that please the people doing the study/promotion/what have you" response that almost every human gets when they are asked questions or given things.

Now I'm going to play with metaphor.

So far (138 pages in) this book is reading like very good Neil Stephenson. (Cory Doctrow writes like the better parts of Stephenson's work in general. So I could have said "this reads like Cory Doctorow" but since this is a Cory Doctrow book, that would be less than useful.) Take Cryptonomicon. Make it more accessable. Double the amount of Civil Liberties stuff in the book. Make the character a particularly un-annoying 17 year old. He's brash and arrogant, he's a smart 17 year old after all, but he's a lot less annoying than most of the smart 17 year olds I've met recently. Update the pop culture references to today. Update the tech to today. Make it a shorter book, one short enough not to suffer wrist damage while reading it. (Cryptonomicon is one of the strongest arguments for e-paper. Gah that is a monster.) Up the fun by a bit. You have Little Brother.

I keep seeing reviews from people who use words on paper as a professional medium that say this is one of the most important books they've read. Usually folks who aren't neophobes. I think they might be right. The message is definitely incredibly important. There are some other books in the genre, including some that were published before the inception of the DHS, that say the same things this book is saying (as of 1/3rd of the way through.) This book is saying them though, in a manner that may well get them read. Concrete example. I think that Crypnomicon had the message and the information, but it lacked the accessibility to bring this to the people who need it. I was pretty much exactly the right audience for Stephenson's Book. Anyone who had a little more trouble following the plots, was a little less interested in any one of the stories, found the explanations a little harder to follow, thought the book needed to be a little shorter, or had less tolerence for a multiple page discussion of how to eat a perfect bowl of Captain Crunch probably didn't finish the book. That limits the audience, especially the young audience, to a particular set of subsets of nerdy geeks. Crypto geeks, WW2 Espionage Geeks, Geek Culture Geeks, and Hardware Geeks are all likely to finish Cryptonimicon with smiles on their faces. Broadway Musical Geeks with short fingers? They'll probably hurl the book against the wall out of sheer boredom and hand cramps after 50 pages. On the other hand, I have it on good authority that they readily and rapidly devour Little Brother. Additional Jokes Temporarily Suspended

Ooh! I'm a big fan of how the world and how the tech works exposition if done well. Stephenson, Lynch, and Heinlein come up as my first thoughts of examples of people who can do it right. Doctorow does it almost flawlessly throughout the book. All other lesser writers? I want to point out something that these people almost never do that you do and need to stop doing. Some asshole writing teacher sometime in the past told people never to put exposition in the text. Make it part of dialog. That can work. Except when you are explaining basic pieces of the setting by having two people talk. The "As you know" monster will come and beat you in the night with a rock if you do that. If you have to choose between An as you know style passage and just having the narrator have a half page or page segue, well the segue is much better. I am now typing with my eyes shut. I am done. Good Night.
I finished reading the book yesterday, and I've been rereading particular passages since then.
I compared it to Cryptonomicon the other day, and it turns out that Cryptonomicon is in the acknowledgments. I think that little brother was more tightly written, possibly a better book, but since the comparison came up while reading it, I ended up missing the more nonsensical asides from Stephenson's work. (There were big old exposition dumps in Little Brother, but they all had to do with explaining important parts of the world. Cryptonomicon had a multiple page digression about the perfect bowl of captain crunch cereal.

One thing that I wish the book had had was a 10 years later section. I wanted to see what happened to the characters. Of course, that would have changed the book from a story about a 17 year old protagonist to a story about the protagonist when he was 17, and while that would have been great for me, it probably isn't quite what the target audience wants.

Ooh, also? Shortly after publication, this book should be available on www.craphound.com for download under one of the CC licenses. (The rest of Cory's work is there already.)

All in all? A good book. I'm going to have to buy a hard copy of it eventually.

41. Clubbing Andi Watson, Josh Howard Sadly, I read this one quite a while ago and have mostly forgotten what it is about. Something about a wealthy city goth kid being exiled to a countryside golf course. And maybe demons.

42. Dragonmarked Keith Baker Michelle Lyons, C.A. Suleiman Well, I do have a bit of a thing for most things Eberron, but this book was quite useful for looking at what one of the major shaping powers in the setting (the 13 houses) were like. Also, the house Orien prestiege class? Very awesome.
43. The Artemis Fowl Files Eoin Colfer An Artemis Fowl Short story of some virtue is included here.
44. Fun Home Alison Bechdel I’ve not read Dykes to Watch Out For, but I did like this autoiographical comic. (I don’t actually like autobiography, but I’m a sucker for it when I do actually read it.)
45. Victory Conditions Elizabeth Moon I’m certain I liked it. It’s part of the Trading in Danger series. I just don’t recall much about it. I think this was the “and now the payoff for our setup” book in the series.
46. Captain’s Fury Jim Butcher Pokemon Meets the Roman Legion, concieved on a dare if I recall. I would have preferred another Dresden book, but lacking that, I’ll read thiese. Not bad, but no Harry Dresden.
47. Dust Elizabeth Bear Well, I’m an unabashed EB fan, even if I’ve not read all of her stuff. That said, I’d be hard pressed to choose between a sequel to this and a sequel to the Modern Era Promethian books for “book I most want to read by Bear.” Not to trivialize, it is Universe/Amber cross fiction by an awesome author. (It really isn’t, but it takes some of the setting and themes from the first and some of the characters and themses from the second. And there is “not Benedict” and full of awesome. And there is another one coming out eventually.
48. Song in the Silence Elizabeth Kerner A series of adventure/dragon romance novels without once straying into “Venom Cock” territory. You know, that is faint praise. They were really actually quite good books.
49. The Lesser Kindred Elizabeth Kerner
50. Redeeming the Lost Elizabeth Kerner
51. Maus Art Speigleman I get what all of the noise was about. This was a great book, and I love the Meta in the later comics.
52. Undertown 1 Jim Pascoe and Jake Myler No real clue. Maybe a manga with a teddy bear.
53. .hack Rei Izumi and Tatsuya Hamazaki It was okay, but didn’t really grab my attention.
54. Inverloch Sarah Ellerton A most excellent comic that I’m happy to have found. I would have liked the ending to have been a little less compressed though.
55. Rolling Thunder John Varley The third book in the Red Lightning/Red Thunder/Rolling Thunder series of tributes to the Heinlein Juvies. There was a lot of stuff for the encyclopedic Heinlein fan to key onto. It stands alone well (which I know because I read it first.) Pretty excellent. I do wonder about some of the physics issues from the major plot token in the series.
56. First Truth Dawn Cook Sadly, I can’t go into detail on this series. Wizardry and dragons and some modern science hidden in odd wordings and some social engineering not the hacking term.
57. Hidden Truth Dawn Cook
58. Forgotten Truth Dawn Cook
59. Lost Truth Dawn Cook
60. Human Resources I picked this up expecting a dectective novel set on the moon. Instead it was about a somewhat amoral corporate guy who has a mystery to solve.
61. Kris Longknife Mutineer Mike Shepherd Military SF. I enjoyed them. I should have written them up earlier. They shift to diplomacy/espionage stories as the series goes on.
62. Gear School Gallardo et al.Comic, future military of some sort. Possibly mecha
63. Kris Longknife Deserter Mike Shepherd
64. Kris Longknife Defiant Mike Shepherd
65. Kris Longknife Resokute Mike Shepherd
66. Kris Longknife Audacious Mike Shepherd
67. Jhereg Steven Brust I like the Vlad Taltos books.
68. Yendi Steven Brust
69. Teckla Steven Brust
70. Onegai Teacher Shizuru Hayashiya
71 Saturn’s Children Charlie Stross
72 Top 10 1,2, 49ers
73 Runaways Pride and Joy through book 7
74. Taltos Steven Brust
75. Phoenix Steven Brust
76. Death: At Death’s Door Jill Thompson
77. Athyra Steven Brust
78. Orca Steven Brust
79. Dragon Steven Brust
80 Hellsing 1 Kohta Hirano
81. A Victory of Eagles Naomi Novic
82. The Duke of Uranium John Barnes
83. A Princess of the Aerie John Barnes.
84. Common Grounds Troy Hickman
85. The Lost Fleet: Valiant Jack Campbell
86. The Pheonix Guard Stephen Brust
87. Galactic Empires Vol 1 Brian Aldiss ed.
88. Boneyard 1-3 Richard Moore
89. Red Lightning John Varley
90, Red Thunder John Varley
91. Webmage Kelly McCullough
92. Cybermancy Kelly McCullough
93. Codespell Kelly McCullough
94. All the Windwracked Stars Elizabeth Bear. Falls short of Dust in my personal index of awesomeness, but only barely. eBear is one of the masters of the craft in her generation of SF. (eBear, Stross, Novick, Doctrow, maybe a few others.)
95. Working for the Devil Lilith Saintcrow
96. Dead Man Rising Lilith Saintcrow
97. The Devil’s Right Hand Lilith Saintcrow
98. Saint City Sinners Lilith Saintcrow
99. To Hell and Back Lilith Saintcrow
100. Starship: Mercenary Mike Resnick Every time I read one of Resnick’s books I come to like his work a little bit more. This series of books is playing with the same sort of myth making as the Return of Santiago.
101. Deus Ex: Ex Cathedra Brian Vaughn
102. Moon Called Patricia Briggs
103 Welcome to the Jungle Jim Butcher
104 Princep's Fury Jim Butcher

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