Ok. I can do this. 25 actual books, without "well, this one was basically two books, so there" coming into play.

Lightspeed Magazine, July 2014
I really really loved "The Panda Coin" and the Harry and Marlowe story. Some of the other stories, I absolutely hated. But that's the point of anthologies :-) And I always knew I was leaning more towards the F part of SF/F anyways. Now I know more SF authors that I will actually like.

English as a Second Fucking Language by Sterling Johnson
I think I was expecting more from this than what I got - I wanted it to be a true grammar and vocab book, not just a random listing of more or less useful swear words ("ass eyes," really?). Frankly, I learned more vocabulary from spending a night in an Irish pub during the World Cup and more grammar from watching Boondock Saints than I did from this book. Disappointing, and not even that funny.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Primary Phase by Douglas Adams
I didn't realize this audio came with an extra documentary on the making of the series. It was a little freaky hearing Douglas Adams talk to me from beyond the grave, to be honest. But the production itself is fantastic. Funny as expected, with great voice actors, and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop at the top of their game.

The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell
Severed Streets
Any questions? And yes, that was indeed retweeted by Paul Cornell :-D

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
I really like the world of these books (this is part 2 of the Old Man's War series), in a twisted, not-quite-dystopian-but-almost kind of way. Knowing how the series continues (I asked for it, not like I can ask an author at a reading not to spoil books written years ago), this is a really nice set-up for what I know of future books, and on its own, it's just an intriguing story. Who are we? What makes us who we are? What happens when that self-image goes catastrophically haywire? So much thinking to do. As a sidenote, I do have some small issues with Scalzi's writing, but they're much less noticeable on paper than in audiobook form. Sorry Wil Wheaton.

Neverwhere: The Radio Play by Neil Gaiman
I've loved this book since I first read it, but the audioplay from BBC Radio 4 is a whole 'nother story. The casting is PERFECT. The story comes alive in an amazing way. And the whole thing is just so much fun.

W Is For Wasted by Sue Grafton
This book is 50% description of people making sandwiches and filing papers, 50% awesome crime story about medical malpractice and illegal experimentation. Too bad 40% of the sandwich-making happens in the beginning of the book, before you ever get to the actual crime story. The last third is great, and exciting, and fast-paced. The whole thing just really needed a stronger editor.

Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie
I just adore Christie novels. They're so calm, and quaint, and subtle, yet still so thrilling. I mean, they're full of the times, and prejudice, and irritating social norms, but I can deal with that. They're just such a fun vacation read.

Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
Wil Wheaton reading this audiobook made me cry. In a good way. Such a beautiful story, even if it's totally stereotypical. It was fun, and touching, and environmental commentary in the least annoyingly obvious way possible. Plus, Karl is fantastic, and I quite like the rest of the cast as well. Plus, snark. I love snarky books.

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
I picked this up based on the "read fewer white male authors" challenge that went around social media earlier this year, and I did not regret it for one minute. The story is well written, the characters are interesting and diverse, the book's world would be gorgeous in a miniseries, and there's going to be a sequel. Approved at all levels.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Apparently this was the year of Ernest Cline or something (probably had something to do with the movie deal). I finally read this (Armada is sitting on my shelf as well, for later), and quite enjoyed it. It definitely is 80s fanboy fanfiction, and I have a feeling Armada will be too much of the same thing, but on the first time around, it's quite entertaining.

Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
Oh Harry. Poor, no longer dead Harry. At least some of these stories were from before that time, so there was less... drama, in the "oh dramaz" kind of way. Some fun ideas, some definitely not fleshed out as much as they could have been, but overall a really good, easy read. Exactly what I wanted at the time.

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents: The Play by Terry Pratchett, Stephen Briggs
I love this book. I love this audio play. The cast is amazing, and the whole thing is just so enjoyable. Love.

The Last Colony by John Scalzi
Have I mentioned I adore this universe? Yes, I think I have. So much fun. So much snark. I just really like the characters and how they interact. The plot becomes sort of secondary, although this is definitely a good one. And a fun little (big) twist at the end.

Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi
I read this right after The Last Colony and was a little worried about it being repetitive, but Scalzi does a good job of not repeating everything you just heard from the adults from the point of view of a teenager. And Zoe is the kind of teenager I love - smart, snarky (see a pattern?), but goodhearted and willing to do the right thing. This book was just fun.

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
I... may be growing tired of Neil Gaiman short stories. Which is SO SAD. But half of these were just odd, or I didn't get them, or something. The other half were beautiful and scary, and totally worth the cost of the book, but the rest were too... artsy? Literary? Something like that. I much prefer "true fiction" like Neverwhere and Stardust, apparently.

Lock In by John Scalzi
I really enjoyed this book. Yes, I know, Scalzi can be a bit sloppy about writing, but you know what? I'm ok with that. The plot is intriguing, the concept of Lock In and threeps intrigues me a lot, and I like crime stories that I don't immediately figure out in some way. Plus, Chris and Tony are hilarious, and I need more of those housemates in my life. And it says Lock In #1 on Goodreads, so I'll get more eventually :-)

Locke & Key Slipcase Set by Joe Hill
I'd never have read this, because for some reason I can't read comics, but this was good. Not awesome, but a captivating story, and the audiobook set I got for free somehow was quite well done.

The Martian by Andy Weir
In short: the movie was better. Seriously, this was terrible. The concept is so good, and it could have been such a fun book, and then it's ruined with boob jokes and half-pages entirely dedicated to setting up gay jokes, and... gah. Guess I really don't like books where the main character is kind of a dick.

Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman
I love new takes on fairytales (see also: my Pratchett obsession) and this one is SO CREEPY. Love it, especially as an audio story.

Murder Mysteries by Neil Gaiman
I never totally get this story... is the narrator an angel? Did he kill those people? Is he going to hell? I have no idea. But as usual, Lucifer is fascinating. That probably says terrible things about me, doesn't it...

Companion Piece: Women Celebrate the Humans, Aliens and Tin Dogs of Doctor Who by L.M. Myles
These are the people who can't ever tell me too much about Doctor Who. They're just the best, in general and at pointing out interesting things about one of my favorite shows. Plus, short essays. So much easier to read in pieces than full-length academia-type books.

Final Result: 22. I totally cannot do this. Silly knitting keeping me from reading All The Books. Maybe next year I'll do a TV show challenge instead. I'm really good at those :-P
Another year, another attempt at 25 books. Also, another fail at 25 books. It would really help if two of these hadn't been 800 and 1200 pages each. Otherwise I would have actually been able to make it to 25.

Redshirts by John Scalzi
It's interesting... The first part was nice, but not OMG amazing. The second part? Hilarious. Could have something to do with Wil Wheaton reading the audiobook, especially that part, but generally, I like writing like that. Definitely enjoyed it overall, even if it was a little excessively meta in the beginning, but really, that's the point of the book, isn't it? And then the ending killed me. *sniffle*

Spillover by David Quammen
Bats are eventually going to kill us all, in really interesting ways.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Victor is an idiot. There, I said it. But in all seriousness, this is great as an audiobook, especially the Creature's parts. It's great writing, an interesting story that weirdly still resonates (hello, genetic engineering), and at least one character you really do end up caring about. So yeah, I liked it. However, dear Hollywood: THE CREATURE'S NAME IS NOT FRANKENSTEIN. Argh. (I admit, I used to do that. But that was when I was, like, twelve. People who write screenplays about this book should know better.)

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
What. The actual. Fuck. This story is messed up, and I can't tell if I mean that in a good way. That ending is just so wrong. No, scratch that, the whole thing is just so wrong. Reading it is a little like watching a car wreck: you don't really want to, but you can't look away because you may miss something even more freakishly messed up. So. Weird.

London Falling by Paul Cornell
I loved it. Unabashedly, unreservedly, completely. I thought it was going to be Dresden Files set in London, but it's actually quite different while maintaining all the local-lore bits I love about Dresden Files. And one of the reveals literally had me whisper "holy shit" while on a plane (good thing my seat neighbor was wearing headphones). Plus, I got to tell Paul Cornell just how much I loved it at Gally - and got the ribbons to prove it :-)

Gallifrey One 2014

The Doctor Who Story Book 2007
It's only been ages since Claire gave this to me... but it's quite fun. Little stories, easy to read one by one before bed, but nicely illustrated and mostly well-written. Nothing amazing, but really enjoyable.

Bonk by Mary Roach
I enjoy her writing, and this was a fun read, but I agree with some other reviews that this could have used a better editor. Yes, some of the snarky asides are really funny, but others just seem out of place, and don't really add anything, or even detract from the actual good writing. It's almost like, while Roach makes a comment about sex research not being taken seriously and that being a bad thing, she wasn't quite able to get over that "prudish" need to make nervous jokes about it while writing the book. It's odd.

Logbuch Polarstern: Expedition Ins Antarktische Packeis by Ingo Arndt & Claus-Peter Lieckfeld
Good science writing, gorgeous photos.

A Dance With Dragons by George RR Martin
You know what's a terrible idea? Including a 1200-page book in a reading challenge that is based on the number of books you read in a year :-)
Seriously though, I do love this series, despite all of the issues it can have. It's well-written, it's a huge world, and not all of my favorite characters are dead yet :-P This one also expands on the world more, since King's Landing is no longer the setting for every other chapter. In fact, most of the action is not in King's Landing. I kind of appreciated that, though I spent a long time wondering when we'd actually get to see some of the characters from previous books. I think the "problem" is that book 4 was all about some characters, and while book 5 covers some of the same timeline, it's all about some other characters, so it feels very... separate. But: see previous "huge world" comment. I just hope we get book 6 soon.

Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn by Carol Sulcoski
What? If I read all the introductory stuff and knit most of the patterns, it means I read the book :-)
I do like this, both as a general "this is how you work with crazy yarns" book, and as a pattern book. Although I would have liked to see more patterns for "wild multis" that did not involve colorwork. Like, I get that it's one way to deal with, say, something wildly flame-colored, but I rarely have solid yarn to pair with the crazy yarn I want to work with. And frankly, "mostly solid multis" is not a section that should be in this book. Kettle-dyed yarn in mostly one color is not the reason one buys this. But the patterns they do give you are mostly very nice, so take that as you would like.

The Amazing Thing About the Way It Goes: Stories of Tidiness, Self-Esteem and Other Things I Gave Up On by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
I feel sad saying this, but I think I may be over her books. This one is cute, just like all the other ones, and it's not like I've read the stories on the blog before, mostly, and they're funny stories (because how could they not be), but I vaguely feel like, in buying the book, I pay for what I can get for free on the blog. Which is a terrible thing to say. So don't be me. Buy this book :-) (To be fair, I will continue to buy her books. And probably continue to feel this way. But that's ok. She's worth it.)

Horns by Joe Hill
I picked this up at the Book Loft because I had seen the author on Twitter, and because it was a cheap copy due to some minor spine damage. Meh. The concept is good, but this is such a... guy book. Swearing and sex and homophobic jokes (I know it's part of the story, but really), and trying to be gritty when it's really just annoying. I guess it was worth a try, but ugh. Maybe the movie will be better.

Eleven Doctors, Eleven Stories
Predictably, my favorite stories coincided with my favorite Doctors, with Nine and Eleven having the best stories. Eleven was written by Neil Gaiman, so obviously that was delightfully nightmare-ish. And Charlie Higson, who wrote the Nine story, had a delightful style of only revealing the things that were the most important at the time of the plot. And then I kept thinking "whoa... that's where we're going?" Just awesome.

Lightspeed Magazine, April 2014
One of my rewards for backing Women Destroy Science Fiction on Kickstarter. Great varied anthology of sci-fi and fantasy, plus a long list of new authors to check out. I love it.

Lightspeed Magazine, May 2014
"Selfie" is the weirdest, most intriguing story I've read in a long time. Still thinking about it, obviously. And the rest is pretty awesome too... aside from the Joseph story. That was just weird. But hey, it happens with anthologies. The rest was really quite fun.

Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome by John Scalzi
I like it. Intriguing idea for an overall plot, good way of advertising the book without being too obvious about it, and a writing technique that's just different enough to be interesting without being gimmick-y. Works for me. I'm definitely going to pick up Lock In eventually.

Shakespeare's Champion by Charlaine Harris
Meh. This is brain candy, but nothing more, as shown by the fact that I'm reading another one of these in basically a day. Not much to the story, I admit some of the racism made me twitchy, and frankly, these are the most boring sex scenes ever.

Shakespeare's Landlord by Charlaine Harris
I'm pretty sure I've read this before. Except I totally did not remember anything about it. I... guess that says something about the quality of this book. It's not bad, exactly, just nothing special. Fun brain candy, I guess. And yes, I did re-read 2 before 1. It was the order in which they were on my Kindle list.

Dining With The Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook by Chris-Rachael Oseland
This was fun... I mean, half of it is an instruction book on how to carve daleks out of the weirdest materials you can find in your kitchen (and bathroom), and there's just a little too much food coloring involved everywhere, but the actual recipes actually sound pretty good. And I do enjoy the writing - so many puns, so little time :-)

Lightspeed Magazine, June 2014: Women Destroy Science Fiction!
Aside from Seanan McGuire's mermaid story (MOAR PLEASE), I think my favorite part were actually the flash fiction pieces, simply for the potential of each story being expanded later on. I do hope that happens at some point. I admit I bookmarked fewer authors here than I did in previous issues, but hey, it happens. There's still loads of good stuff in here, and someone who prefers more "hard" science fiction (as compared to me, who sways more towards the second F in SFF) would probably adore this entire collection.

Dracula by Bram Stoker
Another "I couldn't read this, but it's a great audiobook" example. It was free on Audible, which means it probably still is, and it's really nice to finally hear the story every single other vampire story ever wants to be based on. Plus, Alan Cumming and Tim Curry reading parts of the book. What else would I ask for, really.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
I never realized how short this story is. But it's still lots of fun. I quite enjoyed the way the people in the story were described - obviously there was hyperbole involved, but it was just so enjoyable to imagine Ichabod based on the text. Plus, I got the audio version read by Tom Mison. So. Good.

Good Omens: The BBC Radio 4 dramatisation by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
So. Good. I mean, I love the book, but the audioplay is incredibly perfect.
Goodreads has a Reading Challenge every year, asking people to state how many books they want to read that year. 25 sounded like a good number, and I almost made it.

Agatha H and the Airship City by Phil Foglio
This is based on the Girl Genius comics by the same writer, and while you could sort of tell that he (and his wife, who I think co-wrote) isn't used to writing longform, it's quite an entertaining book. And I love Agatha as a heroine. I want to be friends with Agatha.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
I picked this up for maybe $2 at Dark Star Books in Yellow Springs, because I was in a serious Warehouse 13 phase, so H.G. Wells. It was interesting, in the way that classic literature is interesting - kind of hard to read, but when you get into it, and you can imagine what's going on, it's actually pretty fun. And has nothing to do with that horrifying movie they made a few years ago.

Click-Clack the Rattlebag by Neil Gaiman
This was a free Audible recording for Halloween, and boy is it creepy. I love it. (It's also one of my "cheat books" - a 12-minute audio short story.)

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1) by Gail Carriger
I picked this up based on recommendations, and I admit I wasn't disappointed. It's not a great start to the series, but it's entertaining, and amusing, and Alexia is pretty badass for someone forced to wear dresses that probably had bustles. I have the rest of the series on my Amazon wishlist, and will definitely keep reading.

Ghost Story (The Dresden Files, #13) by Jim Butcher
Oh Harry. Poor, dead Harry. I'd hug you if you weren't non-corporeal.

Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel by Michio Kaku
This made my head hurt. But then it has physics in the title, so what did I expect. When I had the brainpower to pay attention, it actually sort of made sense though. In that "I get it until I walk away, and then I forget everything I just read" kind of way common to the combination of me and physics.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
Wow. I am officially in love with Mary Roach as a writer. Funny, interesting, educational... and it starts off so disgusting that I couldn't read it before bed, where I do most of my reading. Everything good science writing should be :-)

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Another cheat book - free audiobook from Audible, read by Kenneth Branagh. Exactly what I expected: "manly" literature. So tortured and boring.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
I read this in one day, in Ann Arbor, before and after a Neil Gaiman reading. By the time I got to get into the signing line, I was done. It's a fantastic book. Dark and creepy and cozy and nostalgic all at the same time. I'll have to re-read it a few times - there's definitely subtleties I missed by the end, because I was exhausted.

The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity by Wm. Paul Young
No pun intended, but good god. Whoever decided this needed to be published needs to be taken out back and shot. Flat characters, boring storyline, proselytizing writing... this book made me hate religion more than any crappy religious education class ever did in middle school. The author's conclusion: God is great, we just don't understand his purpose. My conclusion: God is a dick, and apparently we're supposed to be grateful for it.

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach
More Mary Roach, because yay! Of course, you'll never think about food or your body the same way again when you're done with the book...

Shoggoth's Old Peculiar by Neil Gaiman
Another cheat of an audio short story. But it's so cute :-) Cthulhu returning and all.

Old Man's War (Old Man's War, #1) by John Scalzi
My first Scalzi. I like it. It's a little meta (Ensign Gaiman, I'm looking at you), but really, who doesn't like a little fanfic in their writing. And the concept of the book is pretty awesome. I'm looking forward to the next one.

The Mirror Crack'd by Agatha Christie
I thought I should actually read some Miss Marple, since I love the old movies so much. And really, the books are just as good. And as usual, I have no clue who the killer is until five seconds before I'm told. Love it.

Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century, #1) by Cherie Priest
I'm conflicted about this one. I really liked it, and will read the other two books in the series, but thinking back, I'm not sure there was a lot of plot going on. It's odd. But it's a great steampunk-y horror world, so hey, I can at least give the next book a shot.

They Do It with Mirrors (Miss Marple, #6) by Agatha Christie
I really liked this one. Such a random motive for murder, but it works so well when you think about it. Agatha Christie is awesome yet again.

Cold Days (The Dresden Files, #14) by Jim Butcher
I hate Harry Dresden. I feel terrible for Harry Dresden. But Harry Dresden is a jerk... argh! Thanks Jim. Way to play the fiddle on my heartstrings. Bravo.

Empire of Ivory (Temeraire, #4) by Naomi Novik
Temeraire :-) So adorable.

A Tale of Two Cities (Librivox Audiobook) by Charles Dickens
The only way I'll ever actually hear that story in any way :-) Another literature thing where the story is good, the characters are excellent, but the language takes too much focus. I like it in audio form though, especially with some really good readers in this edition.

The Rope by Nevada Barr
Holy crap. That was creepy. I actually had nightmares about this story, and that never happens. I love it.

Chicks Unravel Time: Women Journey Through Every Season of Doctor Who by Deborah Stanish
Half the fun of this book is thinking "hey, I've met that author!" for half of the chapters. The other half is learning about Who stories I haven't seen yet and looking forward to them, and to see different angles of Who stories I may or may not have liked before. It was a little weird to read because the stories don't go in chronological order, but reading a chapter a night was really helpful with that. And you can read them in order if you want to, they're marked with the season they're about.

Victory of Eagles (Temeraire, #5) by Naomi Novik
More Temeraire :-) With bonus all-out Napoleonic war. And more snarky dragons.

Tristan and Iseult by Joseph Bédier
Hooray for audiobooks. Also technically more of a short story. But still. I at least know the basics of Tristan and Ysolde now.

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
I forgot how much I liked this story. Honor and love and duty and fighting and intrigue. And so much easier to get into when it's being read to you :-)

I would have finished 25 titles, at least with the cheating, but apparently I'm a book slut. Right now I'm listening to Frankenstein and Redshirts, and reading Spillover. I guess that counts as another book for this year :-) And this way I'll have a head start on 2014.



January 2017



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