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Books 39-51 - Chronicles of a Hereditary Geek [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Darth Paradox

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Books 39-51 [Dec. 18th, 2011|12:25 am]
Darth Paradox
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39. Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
40. I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells
41-42. The Unwritten, vols. 1-2 by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
43. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
44. Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
45. Hexaflexagons and Other Mathematical Diversions by Martin Gardner
46. Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time by Clark Blaise
47. Castle Waiting by Linda Medley
48. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
49-51. Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, and Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Made it to 50 books! Hooray. Quick reviews follow.

Packing for Mars: a fun and irreverent look at what it takes to keep humans alive and well in space. So much of our biology comes with the default assumption of standard gravity, and with that out the window, the effort we've exerted as a species to figure out how to handle that is pretty awesome.

I Am Not A Serial Killer is about a teenaged boy trying very, very hard not to be a serial killer, and then murders start happening... It's a remarkable look at some very dark psychology. I really enjoyed it, and then felt a little uncomfortable for doing so - which makes me suspect that the author did exactly what he wanted to.

The Unwritten is the best comic book about the power of storytelling that I've read since Sandman. Part Harry Potter pastiche, part terrifying story about fiction let loose into the real world...

Warbreaker was pretty decent. The magic system was a little bit too "Hey, I just thought of a fascinating magic system!" - the world was clearly built to justify it, and while it did okay, it felt a little on the contrived side. The theological aspects of it were quite entertaining, though. (I'm also getting the sense that Sanderson has certain character archetypes he really enjoys writing; the mysterious male quasi-protagonist felt like Kelsier from Mistborn dropped into a different world.)

Kushiel's Dart was an amazing work. Epic in scope and deeply personal in narration. The political intrigue was intricately plotted and fun as hell, and the sex was erotic and sensual without feeling pornographic or cheap. The characters were fantastic. I'm really looking forward to the rest of this series.

Hexaflexagons was a fun diversion. 50-60 years later, some of the columns feel a little dated, but others are still entertaining.

Time Lord started out strong, but wandered for a while. Ironically, the narration failed to keep any sort of consistent chronology. The author launched into chapters-long digressions about other aspects of Victorian culture, stretching mightily to try to fit them into his main thesis. I'm sort of glad I stuck with it, though, because the actual description of the Prime Meridian Conference was fascinating. It's a shame it was only 10-15 pages out of hundreds.

Castle Waiting is a beautifully drawn, quirkily told set of fantasy comic stories interwoven into a frame narrative of a woman seeking shelter at a castle formerly inhabited by Sleeping Beauty, who ran off with the prince who rescued her, leaving the castle empty. The stories are a little meandering, but the characters make it worth it.

The Magicians is about a kid who discovers magic is real when he gets invited to a school for magicians that mundane people don't know exist and can't even detect. And given that premise, it's about as far away from Harry Potter as it's possible to be. Magic won't solve your problems, it will just replace them with different ones. Ditto for escapism.

Finally, I've been reading the Enchanted Forest Chronicles to Sora and Alpha over the past few months. It's an excellent way to get the baby used to my voice, and I've been experimenting with vocal styles, different voices, etc. It's interesting! I think I've been doing a good job of voicing female characters in ways that don't involve an irritating falsetto.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: taliabear
2011-12-18 11:37 am (UTC)
No reviews on the dragons? I've heard Patricia C. Wrede is good...
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[User Picture]From: firebluespinel
2011-12-19 01:48 am (UTC)
She is. The Dragons series was one of my favorites as a young reader, and I'd love to find them again as an adult. XD
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[User Picture]From: nightsinger
2011-12-19 05:27 am (UTC)
"The Enchanted Forest Chronicles" is the name of the Dragons quartet by Wrede. :) It's a fantastic book series (one of my long-time favourites), and I highly recommend it if you're looking for a very young adult/children's book series that isn't trite or overdone.
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2011-12-19 06:02 am (UTC)
I don't know how I forgot to actually review the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. I've been enjoying them greatly, and I'm hoping Cimorene will be up there with Agatha Heterodyne as kickass female role models for our children. I'm a big fan of the theme of "don't let anyone else tell you that you can't be what you want to be" running through the whole series.
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[User Picture]From: firebluespinel
2011-12-19 01:59 am (UTC)
If The Magicians is what I think I remember it to be (which I admit I'm not 100% sure I do), I have to say I found it unsatisfying. Like, I kept waiting for it to be something other than a summer camp novel with magic, and it never really got there.

Kushiel's Dart and its sequels comprise one of my favorite series. They are just that well done, in pretty much every way possible. Glad you found them.

If you haven't yet, I'd recommend checking out Feed and its sequel Deadline by Mira Grant. If you like zombiepocalypse novels, they're the best I've read--and if you don't like them, they are still absolutely worth reading.

Hope you guys are well! (And thanks for the Lannister t-shirt pic!)
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2011-12-19 06:06 am (UTC)
It's less "summer camp" than "private college", but yes. I was a little irritated with Quentin's bullshit, but then I was never a disaffected twenty-year-old. And his character arc, growing as a person throughout the book (even if that just meant changing what types of mistakes he made for most of it) was fun to read.

Feed I believe I reviewed briefly earlier in the summer - I read it as one of the Hugo nominees. I believe I actually gave it my top vote. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy. (Also, Mira Grant - i.e. Seanan McGuire - is fantastically entertaining in person. We met her at Worldcon; she's highly nifty.)
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[User Picture]From: firebluespinel
2011-12-29 05:49 am (UTC)
Okay, I realize now that it's not what I'm thinking of, lol, but I'm definitely glad to hear your perspective on it.

And I remember your post on Feed now. Have you had a chance to look at its sequel, Deadline, yet? It's not quite as good as Feed (first sequels rarely are), but it's still quite awesome.

Oh, and I am SO FREAKING JEALOUS that you got to meet Seanan/Mira. I'm friends with her on LJ, but I haven't had any opportunity to be in the same place as her yet. It's on my list.
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[User Picture]From: kreeblah
2011-12-21 06:07 am (UTC)
I'm also getting the sense that Sanderson has certain character archetypes he really enjoys writing

This is very much the case. "Sassy noblewoman" is another that I can think of off the top of my head and I think he might have a few more. Personally, I don't mind since I like his archetypes, but they do start sticking out a bit after reading a few of his books.
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[User Picture]From: kreeblah
2011-12-21 06:10 am (UTC)
Oh, and I guess I missed that the Magicians was in this list, but that was . . . an interesting book. I'm still not sure how I feel about it honestly, or even whether I liked it, but the second one's a little less odd and I can actually say I enjoyed that one.
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