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Nameless Offences: Homosexual Desire in the 19th Century
H.G. Cocks

The City's Son (Skyscraper Throne Series #1)

The City's Son - Tom Pollock I love stories about the underbelly of London--not a criminal underbelly but the weird side, the supernatural side, the dark and hidden secret things and places that exist parallel our known world. (I would love stories about the underbellies of other cities too, but somehow it's usually London.) This one is very reminiscent of Miéville, though a little less weird and with its own distinctive voice (in some places more than others).There's something about it that didn't quite sweep me along, and I didn't always buy the character interactions, but at the same time there were a lot of compelling moments and I was really captured by the ending. So definitely a win overall.

Spin the Sky

Spin the Sky - Katy Stauber I liked this book okay. Certainly there was nothing that made me want to put it down (well, maybe the ending, but by that point I was already finished). But I also have the disappointed feeling that it was only half realised. There are so many interesting ideas and people and places, but they feel unfinished or unexplored, and as much head hopping as we do (too much, for me, which might be an unfortunate side effect of the premise) we never seem to be following the right people or the most interesting stories. The Odyssey in Space seems like the best idea ever to me (and the reason I picked this up) but it's never quite what I want it to be. Now give me a book about Calypso and Spider House, and I'll be all over that.

Scheherazade's Facade: Fantastical Tales of Gender Bending, Cross-dressing, and Transformation

Scheherazade's Facade: Fantastical Tales of Gender Bending, Cross-Dressing, and Transformation - Michael M. Jones, Alma Alexander, Shanna Germain, Sarah Rees Brennan, David  Sklar, C.S. MacCath, Paolo Chikiamco, Tiffany Trent, Melissa Mead, Tanith Lee, Aliette de Bodard, Lyn C.A. Gardner, Sunny Moraine I love the premise of this collection, and was surprised to discover I was drawn most to the darker and more morally complex stories within.

vN

vN (The Machine Dynasty #1) - Madeline Ashby I've owned this book for several months and now after finishing it I'm left wondering--why did it take me so long to get around to reading it? It's actually a 4+ for me, really. There were so many things I found fascinating about the world and about the society and especially about families, all kinds of families; while it follows Asimov's laws of robotics, it takes those ideas in directions and to conclusions that are new to me. This is an adventure and there is plenty of peril and action and cannibalism, but still it essentially comes down to the families, the things we do for them or to them and the things we carry with us.

The Best of All Possible Worlds

The Best of All Possible Worlds - Karen Lord Everyone said this was completely different from Karen Lord's previous book (which I loved), and it is in terms of setting and genre and language, but there is an overt storytelling aspect to both books which I find interesting and appealing. And of course they are both written so well it seems effortless.The is in many ways a quiet story, focusing on the complexities of human evolution and human relationships and human socities (human, not Terran, which is of primary importance in the novel). In a lot of ways it's very subtle, and there are moments of insight that I found really striking and challenging (in a positive, thinky way). I think this maybe will not be for everyone, but it's the sort of thing that really sticks with me.

Poltergeeks

Poltergeeks - Sean Cummings I wish I was the sensible sort of person who could easily give up on a book, because I knew from very early on that this one wasn't really working for me, but once I start something I have this compulsion to finish it. And I wanted to like this one, because it sounded interesting and I love finding things unapologetically set in Canada. (But then, when don't I want to like a book that I pick up to read?)Fundamentally, the problem for me was with voice, which struck me as uneven throughout. It often read like some of the asides and turns of phrase in the narrative were thrown in as an afterthought. (Julie's actions, however, were very apt for a teenager--frustrating and annoying, but authentic.) There were other problems with the writing too, though--there are a lot of cliché descriptions on top of a lot of infodump up front in the book, among other (predominantly style) issues. While I appreciated the realistic mother-daughter relationship (and wish we'd seen more of it), it could've done without the bit that assumed all female friendships inevitably ended in catfights. Classy.Maybe I'm being too hard on it, because there were bits and pieces that I liked (such as the tension between Julie and Marla in Julie's mom's hospital room) and I think there's a good premise here, but it just didn't come together in the execution.

A Book of Tongues, Volume 1 of the Hexslinger Series

A Book of Tongues Volume 1 (The Hexslinger Series) - Gemma Files I really wanted to love this. I did. I tried. But I just didn't connect with it. The writing is solid, the premise and worldbuilding great, and it's exactly the sort of thing that I should have adored, on every level--from the setting to the system of magic to the central relationship--but it just left me cold. It's difficult to pinpoint just what didn't work for me, but I think it just had too much of some things (dialect, sex) and not enough of others (connective tissue, general flow), and I wasn't particularly drawn to any of the characters (thus far, as this is the first of a series and there is a lot of story left to tell). It worked for a lot of other people whose opinions I respect, but I guess it just wasn't a good fit for me.

Adaptation

Adaptation - Malinda Lo SUCH mixed feelings about this one. In some ways it felt like completely different genres smashed up into one another, and the characters and relationships seemed fairly shallow. I was really uncomfortable with the assaults, and in general I wasn't sure I liked the story all that much. But at the same time, I burned right through it, so obviously something about it appealed to me. And I've been thinking lately that I really miss aliens and conspiracy theories. The 90s really were my time.

Rasputin's Bastards

Rasputin's Bastards - David Nickle This book was certainly well-structured, well-written and well-paced, and for fans of thrillers and cold war espionage with added speculative elements it will probably be just their thing, but it kept me at a distance and I never really connected with the characters. Good book, just not to my taste.

The Assassin's Curse

The Assassin's Curse (The Assassin's Curse #1) - Cassandra Rose Clarke While I really did enjoy this book, I would have been a lot more satisfied if I'd realised from the start that it was only half a book. It's not just that it's the first of a series (which also wasn't clear when I picked it up, but isn't that surprising) but that it doesn't really possess a climax and ending of its own. It felt like it just ended in the middle.That said, I liked the worldbuilding and the main characters and would eagerly read more.

Food In Early Modern Europe

Food in Early Modern Europe (Food through History) - Ken Albala I quibbled with myself a lot about what to rate this, but I finally came down in the middle because there were a lot of bits I found enjoyable and informative, even when there were a lot of others that didn't really work for me.The problem is that the book is quite uneven. The earlier parts, particularly when he talks about ingredients, read like lists upon lists--it didn't really work as a narrative, but it also didn't function as a reference because of the lack of consistency in the information (one entry might have a history of the item, one a legend, and only one of the three information on what it actually was and tasted like). I also felt like there were other gaps in the research, and while the plates from era food manuals were interesting, the book could have used more visual information, particularly when talking about things that would have been unfamiliar to the modern reader.The book also made intermittent cultural assumptions that I found somewhat uncomfortable--it assumed not only a modern American audience, but also one from a limited cultural background. Now I'm sure that the bulk of the audience for the book was that, but using terms like "we" and "us" were alienating, and making presumptions about what the reader would and would not find "revolting" and "disgusting" was culturally insensitive (the admonishment that most of the world would disagree just served to reinforce the feeling of "us" and "them" and just who was a member of the "us").That said, there was a lot of interesting information packed in here. I was particularly interested in the information on food and religion (and wished there had been more of it, but perhaps that's a topic I should seek another book on). The book covers a lot of years and a lot of territory, so it was never intended to be an exhaustive resource, but it does well when it marries the food information to the historical background, the wheres and whys and hows of cuisine during this era.
Alternative Alamat: Stories Inspired by Philippine Mythology - Paolo Chikiamco,  Timothy James Dimacali,  Mo Francisco,  Raissa Rivera Falgui,  David Hontiveros,  Celestine Trinidad,  Dean Francis Alfar,  Andrei Tupaz,  Eliza Victoria,  Rochita Loenen-Ruiz,  Budjette Tan,  Raymond G. Falgui I am always a fan of stories based on myths and folklore, especially folklore that has been little explored in recent fiction like that of the Philippines. When I was eighteen years old I lived on Mindanao for a year, which was when I first encountered some of the original tales a few of these stories were based on, making them especially interesting to me. The anthology was at its best, I think, in the more modern retellings and adaptations, but there really wasn't a dud in the bunch.

Harbinger

Harbinger - Jack Skillingstead I only meant to read a few pages and I sat down and I read the whole thing. That's how completely engaged I was, right from the start. I'm not entirely sure I got the whole thing, but I sure enjoyed the ride and I'm pretty sure a lot of the ideas and the people and the imagery are going to stick with me for a long while.

The Faceless Ones (Skulduggery Pleasant Series #3)

Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones - Derek Landy I can see, in an objective sort of a way, that this is a decent enough series. But even now, three books in, I haven't managed to really connect with any of the characters. I don't feel much of an investment in their successes or failures and, really, don't feel like I know them very well at all.The most interesting thing about this particular installment to me was the thread throughout it that it is not okay for a fourteen-year-old girl to be living her life like this. Not that Valkyrie is a convincing teenager, but it's interesting to have that aspect of her chosen life laid out so explicitly. Because it is quite, quite ridiculous and foolhardy and I'm interested to see where they go with that, at least.
Jagannath - Karin Tidbeck I could easily have read this book in one sitting--it's short, it's punchy and it's completely captivating. But I didn't let myself. Partly because I wanted to make it last as long as I possibly could and partly, like Lovecraft, because I felt a little bit like if I read all of the stories in one go I might go just the tiniest bit mad.I don't think I've utterly loved every single story in a collection before, and certainly never as unreservedly as this.

Kings War (Knights of Breton Court Series #3)

King's War (Knights of Breton Court #3) - Maurice Broaddus I think I enjoyed this more than I enjoyed the second book (the first is still my favourite), but I felt a little bit like I got the abridged version. I would have liked more of it, especially the bits with the holy grail. Still, now that I've finished them all, I have a tremendous appreciation for this series as a whole; it's both imaginative and grounded, and I think the legend translates astonishingly well.