Tarot Cafe vol. 1 by Sang-Sun Park
Violin Dreams by Arnold Steinhardt
Childe Morgan by Katherine Kurtz
Dark Moon Defender by Sharon Shinn
Virgin Earth by Philippa Gregory
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Earthly Joys by Philippa Gregory
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
The Druidry Handbook by John Michael Greer
Dust by Elizabeth Bear
Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli
Beatrix Potter: A Life In Nature by Linda Lear
You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop by John Scalzi
The Cipher by Diana Pharaoh Francis
Notes for Posterity:
Beatrix Potter: A Life In Nature by Linda Lear: I wax rhapsodic over this book! Lovely! Even the two chapters on mycology, which gave me more general knowledge and detail about fungus than I ever wanted to know! Potter is one of my heroes, so this three-inch-thick hardcover was such a joy to read. An excellent, well-balanced biography.
Dust by Elizabeth Bear: I enjoyed this so darn much. I’m mildly curious as to why I enjoyed it more than Bear’s Promethean Age books, for as a general rule I prefer reading stories with Elizabethan poets, faerie, and ceremonial magic in them to space opera/generation ship sagas. The characters were just so well-crafted, though, and I liked how a lot of the story was implied but not actually told, leaving the reader to be a really active participant in constructing the narrative. Also, it features really cool concepts of deity and of how lore gets encoded in day to day life over millennia within a closed system. And somehow, while Bear implies a lot, she still manages to convey a remarkably rich atmosphere. I’m in awe of how Bear can leap from genre to genre and write so well in all of them.
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor: Another book where I chose a bad place to stop, early on in the book. When I eventually picked it up and read past that point, it was excellent. I should buy the second one.
Violin Dreams by Arnold Steinhardt: I read this in a hour and a half, and was left feeling as if there was three-quarters of the book missing. Now, I understand that the book is deliberately impressionist in that it’s a narrative that traces the different instruments Steinhardt has owned and one particular piece of music he has a special relationship with, but there was just enough context given that I felt there were gaping autobiographical lacunae. There was a lot of time devoted to covering certain events, and others glossed over or left out and yet still referred to later.
Childe Morgan by Katherine Kurtz: Thanks to my fibro-fog I bought this thinking it was a stand-alone or first in a trilogy, then read it and realized that it was a second volume in a trilogy. And what is referred to as having happened in the first volume was vaguely recognizable, but I can’t find the book on my shelves, and now I don’t know if I actually read it at some point or if my brain is obligingly filling in the gaps with trowelfuls of imagination. (Checking my Past Read list, I see that I did in fact read it exactly two years ago, so why I can’t find the book is a mystery.)
Tarot Cafe by Sang-Sun Park: This was a ‘hey, whatever’ buy through a remainder shop, purchased because buying three books there was equivalent to buying one new, and I’d read a decent review of it somewhere. If I was into emo stories told with Bambi-eyed characters (all of them — every single one) I would have enjoyed it a lot more. As it was I was left wishing the whole thing was a lot grittier and less pretty. The concept is great — gifted Goth tarot reader reads the stories of her clients, who are all otherwordly in some way — but the prettiness is cloying. I’d like to see what Neil Gaiman would do with the concept.
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr: A solid YA retelling of the Winter/Summer kings/queens in faerie theme. Not derivative, thank goodness, and has some very well-drawn characters whose actions are believable. I’ll look for the second one when it’s released.