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December 28th, 2009

Books 2009

(on the other blog:
not a review at all
, but an observation about how Avatar has influenced our family. My personal impressions will come, I promise)

I don't know that I will be able to finish more books this year. If so, they'll go into next year's list. These are books I've read this year. There aren't all that many, but in general I only read in weekends, so considering that, I haven't been doing too badly.

1. Cyteen - C.J. Cherryh
2. The spy who came in from the cold - John LeCarre
3. The constant gardener - John LeCarre
4. Ender's Game - Scott Orson Card
5. Reach for tomorrow anthology - Arthur C. Clarke
6. K-PAX - Gene Brewer
7. Excession - Iain M. Banks
8. Moving Mars - Greg Bear
9. Young Miles - Lois McMaster Bujold
10. Old Man's War - John Scalzi
11. Cordelia's Honor - Lois McMaster Bujold
12. Barrayar - Lois McMaster Bujold
13. Dirt Magic Anthology - Sean Williams
14. Miles, Mystery & Mayhem - Lois McMaster Bujold
15. The edge of the world - Kevin Anderson
16. The Mad Ship - Robin Hobb
17. Ship of Destiny - Robin Hobb
18. Dragon Keeper - Robin Hobb
19. The Last Stormlord - Glenda Larke
20. Chaos Space - Marianne de Pierres
21. The shodow of Malabron - Thomas Walton (MG)
22. Memory - Lois McMaster Bujold
23. The redemption of Athalus - David Eddings
24. The eye of the world - Robert Jordan
25. Flash Forward - Robert Sawyer
26. The Grand Conjuncton - Sean Williams
27. The Gene Thieves - Maria Quinn
28. Graceling - Kristin Cashore (YA)
29. Hunger Games - Susan Collins (YA)
30. The Immortal Prince - Jennifer Fallon
31. The Pauper's Prize - Mark Alders
32. The Gods of Amyrantha - Jennifer Fallon
33. The Whale's Tale - Edwina Harvey (MG)
34. Hyperion - Dan Simmons
35. Monster Republic - Ben Horton (MG)
36. Ghost Brigades - John Scalzi

Hmm. That's a strange list, actually. Some of these books I read because I was given them, or because I agreed to review them. Some I read because they're my favourite authors. This year was a bit of a McMaster Bujold year, since I've read all SF by C.J. Cherryh that's available in Australia. Some were books I read because my daughter happened to have them, and some I read because they were written by writing buddies.

Out of these, there were some books I really enjoyed while not having expectations. I mean - I knew I'd enjoy Cyteen, because I like the author. I knew I liked Miles Vorkorsigan, but found the stories amusing-but-bland, until I hit Memory, which is a really wonderful piece. In one of the collected works by the same author, I also enjoyed the novella Ethan of Athos about a world that has no women.

In a similar fashion, I also enjoyed The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke. I didn't really not enjoy her previous trilogy, but felt a bit 'meh' towards it. This book, though, surprised me in a good way.

I won the Robin Hobb books in a competition. I'd read the first book in the liveships trilogy and felt yeah-but-yeah about it. Book 2 and 3, though I enjoyed much more. The Dragon Keeper not quite so much. It felt much more staged.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the Scalzi books. While this could probably be called military SF, I think the strength of his writing lies in the dialogue. For this type of SF, characterisation works really well. I actually enjoyed Ghost Brigades even more.

I like to be surprised by liking a book more than I expect to like it. I hope I'll find more of this type of book next year.


snippet alert!


I've started the second book of Hearts.

This is (roughly) how it starts:

The engine puffed and chugged and thumped. Goats bleated, jostled each other and nosed around in the feed trough. .
Hoses vibrated. The pipe spewed sloshes of milk into the vat. First a gush, then a steady stream, which slowed to a mere trickle.
There. The next lot done.
Milleus pulled the release. A hiss of steam escaped the vent on top of the compressor. Suction pads disengaged from udders and flung back to their positions under the arm of the milking machine. As one, the goats lifted their heads from the feeding trough and bolted for the gate of the milking pen.
‘Mercy! Be calm, the lot of you. Just _what_ is wrong?’ Milleus straightened, squinting against the glare of sunlight, and the shimmering air. He scanned the edge of the wood up the hill, across the golden field of grain.
Only a few days ago one of his prize kids had disappeared, a female, too, born from one of his best milkers, which would have fetched a nice price at market. Milleus had found no trace of it, not even a half-eaten carcass. The goats had been nervous ever since.
A _shadow_ fell over him. Huge, dark, blotting out the sunlight. Just a heartbeat, and then it moved uphill, over the golden grain field.
A bird, no, a _bird_ circled above him, a stark silhouette against the blue sky, with powerful wings of such size as Milleus had never seen.
As fast as his old bones allowed, Milleus scrambled to the gate, pushing through the mass of jostling goats.
Over the gate, into the hot darkness of the shed, past the flickering lights of the milking machine. Up there, on the shelf. His hand closed on metal.
Thank goodness for the gun.


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