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Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders
Samuel R. Delany
The Aether Age: Helios
Christopher Fletcher, Brandon H. Bell
52 Stitches, Vol. 2
Cate Gardner;Kurt Newton;Mercedes M. Yardley;Alan Baxter;Michael Stone;K. Allen Wood
Dead in the Family: A True Blood Novel
Harris Charlaine
Little House by Boston Bay
Melissa Wiley, Melissa Peterson
Sutherland's Rules
Dario Ciriello
The Accursed
Joyce Carol Oates
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There
Ana Juan, Catherynne M. Valente
Geek Mom: Projects, Tips, and Adventures for Moms and Their 21st-Century Families
Kathy Ceceri, Editors of Geekmom Com
James Maxey

The Infernal Desire Machines of Angela Carter

The Infernal Desire Machines of Angela Carter - Jeff VanderMeer As a reader a generation behind I've bemoaned the huge huge list of all the authors I haven't caught up on yet (Moorcock, Vance, Ellison, Bradbury, ...); this essay definitely convinces me to go back and read several of Carter's books and stories. VanderMeer's enthusiasm for Carter's fictions is well balanced by honest criticism of the faults in her earlier work, and this is a very welcome level of detail for her work in one sitting.

The Legions of Fire (The Books of the Elements)

The Legions of Fire - David Drake In brief: Drake creates a fantastic world of feel-it-in-your-bones magic, a great, great sphinx duel, and some quite interesting characters atop a richly layered, well-researched, might as well be speaking Latin it's so authentic ancient "not Rome". First in a series; fantastic cover artwork of Trajan's column (plus... bonus surprises).

Geek Mom: Projects, Tips, and Adventures for Moms and Their 21st-Century Families

Geek Mom: Projects, Tips, and Adventures for Moms and Their 21st-Century Families - Kathy Ceceri, Editors of Geekmom Com I'm a dude, and previously have enjoyed the Geek Dad project books very much. The Geek Mom book is another animal, with a different approach and contents, but one that ultimately I think even more highly of. The Geek Dad books are almost entirely project-focused: a few pages of a project, followed by another project, on and on. There are some good projects and recipes in the Geek Mom book, but the book also adds more than this, it helps inspire both in its adult reader (of either gender, I must add!) and the kids (or students, etc.) involved with the projects and recipes to *think* beyond the surface level of "Cool Project! OK what's the next project..." to approaching life as an experiment, as an experience of joy whether it's "build this gizmo" or noticing something odd about the vines snaking around a tree on a hike. It's about getting *out there* into life, a self-kick-starter package of "there's more to being human and especially being a parent than making sure the kid's 100% safe all the time, let's go ADVENTURING and take something apart". While the projects etc. are certainly suitable for all ages and genders, it is especially awesome that this book will (hopefully!) be enjoyed by lots of girls who can grow up to tinker and make and ask questions. Recommended highly for parents and teachers, and hopefully there'll be a book 2 with even more projects and such before too long.

Who Fears Death

Who Fears Death - Nnedi Okorafor (Refers to the audiobook.)"A journey."This book is a journey, and it is at times an intentionally uncomfortable one. Set in a (far?) future subsaharan Africa, racially-based genocides continue between the Nuru and the Okeke. An "Ewu" girl (the result of the rape of an Okeke by a Nuru man) is given the name Onyesonwu -- "Who Fears Death". This book has magic -- in particular: shape-shifting, and traveling to The Wilderness, the space where spirits go after life -- and sand, and violence -- though this is not a book "about" magic, or sand -- and scenes which are both unsettling and gripping. The narration from Anne Flosnik here is quite primal; we feel the pain and, as often, anger of Onyesonwu and her companions and adversaries. Okorafor's world is one where some technology remains -- portable computers with maps, water collection devices -- but this is not at all a book about technology. It is about people, and in particular the roles of women (and men) in a highly tribal culture. There are ruins -- old, paved roads -- but this is not a book about the past. It is also not a book about the future. It is a book which is quite present, and is highly recommended to readers with an interest in something beyond the beaten path, whether coming from an interest in fantasy or more mainstream fiction, and the willingness to travel on unfamiliar and rocky ground.

The Windup Girl

The Windup Girl - Paolo Bacigalupi (refers to audiobook)Narrated masterfully by Jonathan Davis, Paolo Bacigalupi's "The Windup Girl" is stunning and sweeping, with a vocabulary that sticks (particularly thinking in economic terms of "expansion" and "contraction" vs. "recession" etc.), and a story that is engaging at several levels, from character, to setting, to plot.


Leviathan - Scott Westerfeld, Keith Thompson (refers to audiobook)From time to time I do enjoy a "young adult" listen (particularly the excellent City of Ember series, as well as His Dark Materials) but generally I don't expect too much in terms of story, setting, and character. Here is another fine exception to that expectation. "Leviathan" was amazingly brought to life here by Alan Cumming, as we follow the stories of Alek (a prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, on the run for his life) and Deryn (daughter to a ballooner, she enlists in the British Air Services as a boy in disguise) at the outbreak of The Great War as set in a wonderfully detailed and re-imagined alternate history, where "Clankers" (steam-powered mechs) power the German forces, and crossbred animals (tiger-wolf hybrids to pull carriages, amazing engineered jellyfish and whale airships) are the basis of the "Darwinist" forces of England. All in all a thoroughly satisfying listen which I enjoyed immensely.

The Magicians: A Novel

The Magicians - Lev Grossman (refers to the audiobook.)"Amazing. Wonderfully narrated."Brahmall's narration is spot-on in this absolute masterpiece of modern, literate fantasy. Comparisons to "Harry Potter for adults" don't begin to capture the depth and reality of this book. It owes more to The Once and Future King and acts more as a discomplement of Narnia than it alludes to Harry Potter, though indeed the book occurs in our present world, a world where all of these books exist. Quentin is an honestly voiced character throughout, growing though a middle class high-performance student upbringing, to bit by bit coming to terms with his adulthood, his powers, his mistakes, and himself. This is a book about finally growing up, about self-realization, about love and loss and longing, and yes, about magic. And Grossman's prose is wonderful, the story true, never saccharine, and, again, Brahmall's appropriately at-times dry, at-times tender, well-characterized narration is a delight, capturing the tone and spirit of the book and its characters. I can't really recommend this book enough; definitely one of the top 10 genre novels of the 2000s, perhaps the very best in its subgenre, facing competition only from Perdido Street Station, Finch, and American Gods. (For more taste comparisons, my other picks from the decade in other subgenres are: R. Scott Bakker's The Darkness That Comes Before, Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl, etc.) If you haven't read the book, or perhaps even if you have, enjoy these 17 and a half hours, and join the wait for the sequel in 2011.

Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)

Twilight - Stephenie Meyer It was not the worst book ever. Considering that it is the first-person narrative of a naive, foolish high school girl, I found the narrative and descriptions -- the overuse of flawless, for example -- not out of place. The audiobook was well-cast and well-performed. I did not read any more of the series.

Boneshaker (Sci Fi Essential Books)

Boneshaker - Cherie Priest (Refers to the audiobook.)"A boneshakingly good listen"Cherie Priest's BONESHAKER is a romp through an alternate Civil War era Seattle, torn apart by Leviticus Blue's Boneshaking Drill -- a Russian-funded experimental drilling engine designed to tunnel under the Alaskan ice, looking for gold. But something goes wrong when Blue tests the machine, and gas which would become known as "the Blight" begins to seep out of the ground, killing those who breathe it. And worse. So a large section of the city is walled off, Blue has disappeared, and his widow, Briar Wilkes, is left to raise the son she didn't know she carried when the calamity struck. She and her son, Ezekiel, are treated with disdain and open contempt by the remaining townsfolk, believing she must have known what Blue was up to, and so blaming her in part for the new way of life on the "Outskirts" around Seattle. Ezekiel, longing to clear the family name, heads into the city for answers, and Briar soon follows. Only then do they start to truly understand what has become of those who have been claimed by the Blight -- the "rotters" -- zombies whose appearance in the book is truly suspenseful and riveting. Add goggles and gasmasks (to protect against the Blight) and gadgets dreamed up to sustain human settlements within the ruins of the city, Civil War era airships, and a great cast of supporting characters, and it's no wonder that BONESHAKER has had the praise heaped upon it that it has. It's great fun and well-imagined. Here, Kate Reading gives a great deadpan Briar Wilkes, capturing the frustration and urgency of a tired, bitter mother looking for her son, and putting a great voice behind Jeremiah Swakhammer, the big, armor-plated -- well, I don't want to give too much away. And Wil Wheaton helps bring Zeke and the characters he meets to life, particularly taking the day with his performances as Zeke, a certain Princess (this one is great!), and the mysterious "Dr. Minnericht."
Masquerade at the Wells - Lorna Hill It was not the worst book ever. Considering that it is the first-person narrative of a naive, foolish high school girl, I found the narrative and descriptions -- the overuse of flawless, for example -- not out of place. The audiobook was well-cast and well-performed. I did not read any more of the series.

Old Man's War

Old Man's War - John Scalzi (refers to audiobook)"A pulpy, well-characterized and written story"While it might be confusing to compare his book to "Starship Troopers" I do think that John Scalzi's "Old Man's War" owes much to Heinlein's story. Not so much in terms of politics or satire, but in charting an enjoyable course straddling hard/military SF and a more pulpy romp approach. Scalzi does a great job of bringing John Perry to life, creating the eponymous "old man" and, while not really giving the character a background which makes his later military exploits fully believable, giving Perry a rich history and populating his star-spanning world with well-detailed friends and comrades. Scalzi comes up with several distinct alien races, really driving home the differences in motivation that some (the Consu in chief) bring to the table which escape human understanding. One fault I might raise with the story is that while the human characters all have some depth to them (even Perry's drill sergeant at basic training has a fairly rich personal history) no alien characters receive this treatment. The closest comes in the form of a disgraced Consu negotiator, and perhaps this lack of insight into alien personality and personal history is more than forgivable as the story takes place from Perry's consistent point of view. For the most part, from skip drives to tachyon detectors, the tech livens the story, not dragging it down to detract from the main event: Perry's tale. Some scenes, as some of Perry's comrades lose their lives in mundane or bizarre ways, were heartbreaking. The ending left me wanting a little more, but I suppose it can be forgiven as sequels, both in the universe and for Perry's story, exist.

Fade to Black (A Rojan Dizon Novel)

Fade to Black - Francis Knight I was torn between a 4 and a 5, as it's a 4.5 give or take. But I'll give a bit of round-up error to a debut, and for a fantasy which along its stratified and satisfying worldbuilding and entertaining first person narrative voice and "what's going to happen next?" story touches up against some real ethical and moral questions about energy, pollution, classes, etc. Definitely recommended, certainly expect to see this on the Locus ballot for first novels, if not the fantasy ballot outright, though the year is indeed young. Not without some slight missteps, some browbeating of internal conflict and repetition of temptation, but again, very enjoyable and well told, with some eye-opening reveals along the way. (And for the audiobook, very well narrated and produced as well.)

Stellarnet Prince

Stellarnet Prince - J.L. Hilton Don't be fooled by the cover. This is a fully fledged sf novel, not a cookie-cutter bodice ripper "set" in a pastiche sf world.

The Age of Miracles

The Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson Walker A bit uneven in terms of the narrator (age 11 vs. ability and such) but lots of interesting things. I would expect that our fragmented society would collapse into chaos much more quickly and deeply than depicted here, but again, some interesting things. Well cast for narrator Emily Janice Card. Solid ending line, though the ending did feel rushed a bit. Nice outtro music, too.

Alif the Unseen

Alif the Unseen - G. Willow Wilson A couple of times I wondered why the State didn't have helicopters, but overall this one really impressed me, bringing together hacking and djinn magic in a most interesting combination. Will expand on this review later, but in brief, the narrator was amazing with accents, genders, just wonderfully narrated.

The Situation

The Situation - Jeff VanderMeer, Scott Eagle So, yeah, having worked in the corporate world for 12 years, and 3 years working in IT for academia... that was pretty brilliant.