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01 January 2015 @ 03:32 pm
2014 was a pretty decent year for books.  It had some duds, but also some very fine reads.  For those not already aware, I re-booted my book blog, The Deckled Edge, this year.  We'll see how long it lasts this time.  I think this time around I will only do full reviews for the books I really feel like doing.  Otherwise, I'll just do a very short review and call it a day.

I've bold the exceptional reads, and italicized the boring and disappointing ones. 

I should also note that I have a few stories by Benjanun Sriduangkaew on my list, but this was before I found out she is supposedly a notorious hate blogger.

Zealot, Reza Aslan
The Vanished Library, Luciano Canfora
Herculaneum: Past and Future, Andrew Wallace-Hadrill

Return, Peter S. Beagle
Messenger’s Legacy, Peter V. Brett
The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate, Ted Chiang (re-read)
The Madonna and the Starship, James Morrow
The Slow Regard of Silent Things, Patrick Rothfuss
Scale Bright, Benjanun Sriduangkaew
Dream Houses, Genevieve Valentine

Upgraded, Neil Clarke
Midnight and Moonshine, Lisa L. Hannett and Angela Slatter
Twenty-First Century Science Fiction, David G. Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Conservation of Shadows, Yoon Ha Lee
Lowball, George R.R. Martin and Melinda M. Snodgrass
Dangerous Women, George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
Rogues, George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
Forever in the Memory of God, Peadar O’Guilin
The Sword of Destiny, Andrzej Sapkowski
Reach for Infinity, Jonathon Strahan
Lights in the Deep, Brad Torgersen
Beyond the Rift, Peter Watts

Foxglove Summer, Ben Aaronovitch
Half a King, Joe Abercrombie
The Widow’s House, Daniel Abraham
Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
vN, Madeline Ashby
Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood
Ruin and Rising, Leigh Bardugo
Lexicon, Max Barry
Turbulence, Samit Basu
Resistance, Samit Basu
A Fine and Private Place, Peter S. Beagle
The Innkeeper’s Song, Peter S. Beagle
The Tropic of Serpents, Marie Brennan
Existence, David Brin
Red Rising, Pierce Brown
Hurricane Fever, Tobias S. Buckell
Skin Game, Jim Butcher
A Darkling Sea, James L. Cambias
Cibola Burn, James S.A. Corey
Unwrapped Sky, Rjurik Davidson
Enemies at Home, Lindsey Davis
Terra Incognita, Ruth Downie
Food for the Gods, Karen Dudley
Kraken Bake, Karen Dudley
Zadayi Red, Caleb Fox
Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman
Full Fathom Five, Max Gladstone
Hild, Nicola Griffith
The Volunteer, Peadar O’ Guilin
The Gospel of Loki, Joanne M. Harris
The Secret of Abdu el Yezdi, Mark Hodder
The Mirror Empire, Kameron Hurley
The Memory of Water, Emma Itäranta
The Leopard, K.V. Johansen
The Way to Babylon, Paul Kearney
Riding the Unicorn, Paul Kearney
The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin
Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie
The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu
A Taste fur Murder, Dixie Lyle
The World of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin, Elio M. Garcia Jr., and Linda Antonsson
Travel Light, Naomi Mitchison
All Those Vanished Engines, Paul Park
The Bees, Laline Paull
Feet of Clay, Terry Pratchett
Hogfather, Terry Pratchett
The Causal Angel, Hannu Rajaniemi
Swamplandia!, Karen Russell
Blood Song, Anthony Ryan
Tower Lord, Anthony Ryan
Veil of the Deserters, Jeff Salyards
Words of Radiance, Brandon Sanderson
The Last Wish, Andrzej Sapkowski (re-read)
Blood of Elves, Andrzej Sapkowski (re-read)
Time of Contempt, Andrzej Sapkowski
Baptism of Fire, Andrzej Sapkowski
Wild Cards X: Double Solitaire Melinda M. Snodgrass
The Septembers of Shiraz, Dalia Sofer
Something More Than Night, Ian Tregillis
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, Genevieve Valentine
Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer
Echopraxia, Peter Watts
The Great Glass Sea, Josh Weil
The Martian, Andy Weir
Three Princes, Ramona Wheeler
Benighted, Kit Whitfield
The People in the Trees, Hanya Yanagihara
Land of Love and Drowning, Tiphanie Yanique

Total: 90

Some Stats:
Science Fiction – 33                36.7%
Fantasy – 45                            50%
Fiction – 15                             16.7%
Anthologies – 12                     13.4%
2014 Releases – 46                 51.2%
Debut Novels – 20                  22.3%
New Authors – 32                  35.6%
Women Authors – 35               38.9%

Compared to last year I read a few less science fiction, fiction/literature, and anthologies/collections.  Debuts and new authors held steady.  Books I read more of include fantasy, new releases, and women authors.

Short Stories
“Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy”, Saladin Ahmed
“Little Knife”, Leigh Bardugo
“Gordon, the Self-made Cat”, Peter S. Beagle
“Exhalation”, Ted Chiang
“The Water that Falls on You from Nowhere”, John Chu
“The Weight of a Blessing”, Aliette de Bodard
“Ship’s Brother”, Aliette de Bodard
“In the Age of Iron and Ashes”, Aliette de Bodard
“Wakulla Springs”, Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages
“La Santisima”, Teresa Frohock
“The Angelus Guns”, Max Gladstone
“The Astronomer Who Met the North Wind”, Kate Hall
“The Ink Readers of Doi Salet”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt
“The Ninety-Ninth Bride”, Catherine F. King
“The Lady Astronaut of Mars”, Mary Robinette Kowal
“Mountain Ways”, Ursula Le Guin
“The Pirate Captain’s Daughter”, Yoon Ha Lee
“Architectural Constraints”, Yoon Ha Lee
“Wine”, Yoon Ha Lee
“The Contemporary Foxwife”, Yoon Ha Lee
“The Bonedrake’s Penance”, Yoon Ha Lee
“The Plague”, Ken Liu
“Build-a-Dolly”, Ken Liu
“The Silk Merchant”, Ken Liu
“The Litigation Master and the Monkey King”, Ken Liu
“The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species”, Ken Liu
“A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel”, Ken Liu
“The Clockwork Soldier”, Ken Liu
“Reborn”, Ken Liu
“The Long Haul From the ANNALS OF TRANSPORTATION, The Pacific Monthly, May 2009”, Ken Liu
“Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon”, Ken Liu
“Driftings”, Ian McDonald
“Observations About Eggs from the Man Sitting Next to Me on a Flight from Chicago, Illinois to Cedar Rapids, Iowa”, Carmen Maria Machado
“‘Possum Trot”, J. Harley McIlrath
“The Lost Sepulcher of Huascar Capac”, Paul Park
“I Met a Man Who Wasn’t There”, K.J. Parker
“The Things We Do For Love”, K.J. Parker
“Heaven Thunders the Truth”, K.J. Parker
“Safe House”, K.J. Parker
“The Last Log of the Lachrimosa”, Alastair Reynolds
“Dawn and the Maiden”, Sofia Samatar
“Selkie Stories Are for Losers”, Sofia Samatar
“Wake-Rider”, Vandana Singh
“Woman of the Sun, Woman of the Moon”, Benjanun Sriduangkaew
“Chang’e Dashes from the Moon”, Benjanun Sriduangkaew
“Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade”, Benjanun Sriduangkaew
“If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, Rachel Swirsky
“Sing”, Karin Tidbeck
“86,87,88,89”, Genevieve Valentine
“Six-Gun Snow White”, Catherynne M. Valente
“Salvage”, Carrie Vaughn
“The Colonel”, Peter Watts
“Daedalum, the Devil’s Wheel”, E. Lily Yu
“The Urashima Effect”, E. Lily Yu
04 January 2014 @ 04:01 pm
I realized I didn't read as many shorts as I thought so now I feel silly making a separate post.  Oh well.  Again, I bolded the really good ones and italicized the boring ones.

The Too-Clever Fox, Leigh Bardugo
Backscatter, Gregory Benford
As the Wheel Turns, Aliette de Bodard
Immersion, Aliette de Bodard
On a Red Station, Drifting, Aliette de Bodard
The Waiting Stars, Aliette de Bodard
The Seafarer, Tobias Buckell
The Girl Who Went Out for Sushi, Pat Cadigan
The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling, Ted Chiang
The Elephant in the Room, Paul Cornell
Drona’s Death, Max Gladstone
The Dowry, Peadar O’Guilin
The Boy Who Cast No Shadow, Thomas Olde Heuvelt
After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, Nancy Kress
Mono No Aware, Ken Liu
In Sea-Salt Tears, Seanan McGuire
Rat Catcher, Seanan McGuire

The Sun and I, K.J. Parker
Illuminated, K.J. Parker
The Fish of Lijiang, Chen Qiufan
The Emperor’s Soul, Brandon Sanderson
The Dala Horse, Michael Swanwick
The Mongolian Wizard, Michael Swanwick
Terrain, Genevieve Valentine
The Best We Can, Carrie Vaughn

Of the shorts, the best one hands down was Parker's "The Sun and I". 
02 January 2014 @ 04:41 pm
It was a much better year than last year.  At the end of 2012 I was rather disappointed, but I avoided that this year, partially by getting some more variety I think.  I'll follow Isis' example and bold the outstanding reads and italicize the boring.  I kept track of my short story reading for the first time, but it ended up being a bigger list than I thought.  I might make a separate post for that.

What If the Earth Had Two Moons?, Neil Comins

The Great Bridge, David McCullough

The Incident of the Harrowmoor Dogs, Daniel Abraham

I Travel By Night, Robert McCammon
The Skin Trade, George R.R. Martin (re-read)
The Emperor’s Soul, Brandon Sanderson
Firstborn/Defending Elysium, Brandon Sanderson

I, Robot, Isaac Asimov

Mitigated Futures, Tobias Buckell
Geodesic Dreams, Gardner Dozois
Wild Cards VIII, George R.R. Martin et al
Wild Cards IX, George R.R. Martin et al
Old Mars, George R.R. Martin, Gardner Dozois
Vampires in the Lemon Grove, Karen Russell
Fearsome Journeys, Jonathon Strahan et al
Jagannath, Karin Tidbeck
The Silmarillion, JRR Tolkien
Strange Monsters of the Recent Past, Howard Waldrop
Going Home Again, Howard Waldrop
Dream Factories and Radio Pictures, Howard Waldrop
Horse of a Different Color, Howard Waldrop

Broken Homes, Ben Aaronovitch

The Tyrant’s Law, Daniel Abraham
Grimspace, Ann Aguirre
The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
Use of Weapons, Iain M. Banks
Siege and Storm, Leigh Bardugo
Babayaga, Toby Barlow
Proxima, Stephen Baxter
The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes
The Days of the Deer, Liliana Bodoc
A Natural History of Dragons, Marie Brennan
The Daylight War, Peter V. Brett
Abaddon’s Gate, James S.A. Corey
The Ides of April, Lindsey Davis
The King of the Crags, Stephen Deas
The Order of the Scales, Stephen Deas
Medicus, Ruth Downie
Strangers, Gardner Dozois
The Last Werewolf, Glen Duncan
Spirit Gate, Kate Elliot
American Gods, Neil Gaiman
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman
Twilight, William Gay
Three Parts Dead, Max Gladstone
Two Serpents Rise, Max Gladstone
Trafalgar, Angelica Gorodischer
Winter’s Tale, Mark Helprin
Wool, Hugh Howey
Fudoki, Kij Johnson
The Bones of the Old Ones, Howard Andrew Jones
River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie
Up Against It, M.J. Locke
The Republic of Thieves, Scott Lynch
Promise of Blood, Brian McClellan
A Dance with Dragons, George R.R. Martin (re-read)
Wild Cards VII, George R.R. Martin, John J. Miller
John Saturnall’s Feast, Lawrence Norfolk
Rustication, Charles Palliser
Yamada Monogatari: Demon Hunter, Richard Parks
Interesting Times, Terry Pratchett
Maskerade, Terry Pratchett
The Adjacent, Christopher Priest
The Fractal Prince, Hannu Rajaniemi
Icehenge, Kim Stanley Robinson
Shaman, Kim Stanley Robinson
The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell
Children of God, Mary Doria Russell
A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar
The Human Division, John Scalzi
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan
The Texas-Israeli War, Howard Waldrop, Jake Saunders
Communion Town, Sam Thompson
Necessary Evil, Ian Tregillis
Mechanique, Genevieve Valentine
The Blue World, Jack Vance
Kitty Rocks the House, Carrie Vaughn
The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker
The Ace of Skulls, Chris Wooding


Science Fiction –                     34 (41.5%)
Fantasy –                                 35 (42.7%)
Fiction –                                  15 (18.3%)
Nonfiction –                            2 (2.4%)
Anthologies –                          14 (17%)
2013 Releases –                      35 (42.7%)
Debut Novels –                       14 (23%)
New Authors –                       29 (35.4%)
Female Authors –                    23 (28%)
02 January 2013 @ 04:41 pm
2012 was a slightly disappointing year of reads for me.  Plenty were good, but very few books really blew my socks off.  For 2013 I'm going to make an effort to read more non-SFF.  We'll see if that helps.

2012 BooksCollapse )
21 July 2012 @ 03:52 pm
The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson.

The first half of this book is quite good.  It follows the life of an orphan master's son as he grows up in North Korea.  How he comes to work in intelligence, his rise in the ranks, then his eventual fall into the grinding machine of the regime.  It's a very bleak and realistic look inside the reclusive country. 

*sleight spoiler alert*  The second half is rather odd.  The main character escapes from a labor camp and literally assumes the identity of one of the most famous people in the country.  There is also the addition of another narrative voice, an interrogator, as well as several chronological jumps before and after the disappearance of the North Korea's most famous actress and her children.  The whole second half of the book thus felt like a far-fetched and overly dramatic movie. 

7.5 out of 10.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.

After the odd story of Orphan Master's Son, Shadow and Bone was a breath of fresh air.  I found the writing to be very strong for a debut novel.  Characterization was also very good with a good deal of complexity, even for the villain.  And thankfully the romance wasn't overdone.  I do hope we get more detail on the world-building and magic system in the next book, though overall everything was very enjoyable.  Can't wait for more!

9 out of 10.

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruis Zafon.

The Prisoner of Heaven is a good sequel to The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game.  Prisoner is the shortest book so far in the loosely connected quartet, and gives quite a bit of background on Fermin.  It is very much a sequel book, tying the two previous books together into a larger narrative, while also setting up the story for the next book.  The main drawback is that the book cannot stand on it's own.  You wouldn't read this without reading either Shadow or Angel's Game.

8 out of 10.
07 July 2012 @ 03:43 pm
Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch.

I sincerely hope most of you are already reading the Peter Grant series.  If not, for shame!  :P

I found the third book in the series to just as good and engrossing as the first two.  Characters and setting were all as compelling as before.  In some ways, the book was much tighter and constrained than Rivers of London or Moon Over Soho.  It was limited to a single week before Christmas so with such a tight plotline it didn't sprawl as much.  The downside to this is that the book almost has too much plot, sometimes at the expense of the characters.  That was really my only complaint though.  Can't wait to read the next one1

9 out of 10.

Kop Killer by Warren Hammond.

Kop Killer is another third book, this time in a loosely connected series by Warren Hammond  For those who haven't read them, the Kop books are gritty, scifi noir set on a backwater planet a few hundred years in the future.  The economy collapsed long ago and the whole planet basically runs on offworld money and corruption.  The main character is himself a dirty cop.  In many ways, they're pretty similar to the Takeshi Kovacs books, but to be honest I gave up on Richard Morgan after Broken Angels (heresy I know). 

The first two books were very good, and I gave them both 9 out of 10s.  I didn't enjoy this one quite as much.  Felt like the story was backsliding a little with a plotline that pretty similar to what had happened before.  Very enjoyable though and I would heartily recommend the series.

8 out of 10.

Custer's Last Jump and Other Collaborations by Howard Waldrop et al.

I think this is the fourth book of my growing library of Howard Waldrop short fiction.  This time it's a collection of Waldrop's collaborations with other authors.  I've always enjoyed this author, though I didn't enjoy it quite as much as some of his other work.  Perhaps because, being collaborations, the stories don't really showcase Waldrop's singular writing talent.  Still quite enjoyable though.

8.5 out of 10.
2012 is turning out to be a somewhat disappointing year for books.  Either the books are merely "okay", or I actively don't like them and struggle to finish.  A few of the low points:

The Audran Sequence by George Alec Effinger.

The Audran Sequence seemed so promising with an interesting world in which many nation-states have fractured and the story is set in a city somewhere in Arabia. However, much of it fell flat for me.

Part of the problem is that the series bills itself as cyberpunk noir, while it never really falls into either category. The only cyberpunk is basically technology modules that can implanted into a wired brain to grant specialized information or change your entire personality. The noir is supposedly inspired by detective stories, but is truly only about a poor, mixed-race man who rises to power and influence.

The biggest problem though is that the whole trilogy feels extremely convenient. The main character's successes, failures, friendships, etc all plays out exactly as the author wants rather than it feels like it should be. Morality questions are raised, but are avoided instead of answered. Characters and plot act at the author's whim so the story never feels right. Frankly, the whole thing is self-indulgent.

I'm giving this series 6.5 stars because, despite the flaws, the world-building and writing in and of themselves weren't too bad and I think others might enjoy it more than I did.

Redshirts by John Scalzi.

The novel starts off well enough with a satire on the "Redshirt" plot device from Star Trek.  The problem is that the book lacks Scalzi's customary wit, humor, and drama. It really doesn't feel much like Scalzi at all.  Part of that might be that the book gets quite a bit meta with characters realizing they're fictional, time travel back to the "real world" present, etc to the point it was mind-numbingly ridiculous. I've always enjoyed the author's work, but I just couldn't get into this one. It just wasn't funny or anything at all. I think it would have worked better if Scalzi hadn't tried to be so creative and had just done a riff on the trope.

5 out 10. 

Alexander Outland: Space Pirate by GJ Koch.

This book read like a comic offspring of the Ketty Jay books and Firefly, albeit nowhere near as well written. There's a lot of action, snappy dialogue, plays on tropes, and genuinely funny moments. However, most of it gets recycled and overdone to the point that I wanted to be put out of my misery. I liked the idea, but the execution not so much.

I still gave the book a decent rating of 6.5 because I know there are others who would might enjoy this quite a bit.

Despite what you may think, there are a few books I have liked and I'll post more on them next time.
02 January 2012 @ 08:50 pm

List of 2011 booksCollapse )
26 December 2011 @ 11:01 am
Brought Dad home for good today.  The therapists thought he'd gone as far as he could at the nursing facility so now we'll try PT from home.  He's happy to be home to say the least.  Should be a good Christmas then. 

Merry Christmas everyone!  :)
01 April 2011 @ 05:14 pm
It's been a month and a half since I got the implant processors and I owe you all an update.  The background noise that was so loud at first is now fading so that I'm now hearing other sounds including voices.  Noises still don't sound like they used to, but I think I'm getting used to that.  I went back to the hospital last week for another meeting with the implant technician.  Every time I've gone in, the technician has modified and increased the sound levels.  When she did it this time and turned it on, it felt a lot like when I still had my hearing aid.  She then gave me a test where she covered her mouth, said several words and had me repeat them back.  I got two out of six, which I think is pretty good.  So things are definitely going well and are actually better than I had expected.  I think I'm already starting to get more out of conversations as I'm not asking people to repeat themselves as much.  So onwards!  :)

I also had two strange dreams the last couple of nights.  In the first one, I was babysitting for mashiara13 and dalthor .  I have no idea where those two were so I was handling two little tots by myself.  Presumably, I got paid for this.  :P  As for my second dream, I got a new job as a plumber for a factory.  Like, WTF???