Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Books Read: February 2015

February marks my first month back at work after the birth of my son, and I'm fairly pleased with my ability to keep reading.  I'm sure as he gets a bit older and more active, this will change a little bit and my 10+ books per month will drop to 5-7.  February also marks the first month I have read more books electronically than in paper copy.  I love holding books in my hand, but if my son is sleeping in my arms it is far easier to read on my nook than it is to try to hold a book in my hands - even more so if it is a hardback like Promise of Blood was.

Below are the eleven books I read during the month of February.  As has been the case recently, there are no reviews to link to.  

1. My Life as a White Trash Zombie, by Diana Rowland
2. Yesterday's Kin, by Nancy Kress
3. The Three, by Sarah Lotz
4. The Litigators, by John Grisham
5. The Complete Peanuts: 1993-1994, by Charles M. Schulz
6. Promise of Blood, by Brian McClellan
7. Fortune's Pawn, by Rachel Bach
8. Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues, by Diana Rowland
9. Time of the Dark, by Barbara Hambly
10. Redeployment, by Phil Klay
11. We Are All Completely Fine, by Daryl Gregory

Best Book of the Month: Phil Klay's collection Redeployment may one day hit the essential reading list much as Tim O'Brien's The Things We Carried did for the Vietnam War, though it is difficult to truly say what will resonate of the years and generations and what will just fade away despite the acclaim. Regardless, it is powerful fiction.  

Disappointment of the Month: I'm not sure this is a disappointment, per se, but I guess I expected more out of Time of the Dark. I've previously read her two Star Wars novels, but I also read one of her books when I was a teenager. I want to tell you it was Dragonsbane, but I really couldn't say if it was that or The Silent Tower or The Walls of Air being read out of sequence. I remember nothing, except that I enjoyed it enough I wanted to read something else by her and then didn't for over twenty years.  Time of the Dark was fine, it just didn't grip me.  Also, I'm not sure how interested I still am in the concept of people from our world crossing over to a fantasy world. There's a term for this, I just can't remember it. Portal fantasy?  I've enjoyed some of it in the past (Christopher Stasheff's Her Majesty's Wizard, others) and hated some of it (Lord Foul's Bane).  But do I still want to read much more of it?  I don't know.  

Discovery of the Month: I have a bias which I seldom examine. Well, I probably have many biases, but the one in particular is against the modern idea of "urban fantasy", which I often think of as "paranormal romance" with werewolves and vampires.  The bias is bullshit, of course. Years ago I won the first two Kitty Norville novels written by Carrie Vaughn in a contest that I don't think I meant to enter because look at those covers, man. They're clearly not for me. Except that I love the Kitty Norville novels and have been reading them faithfully ever since.  I've read the Sookie Stackhouse books, intrigued at first by their popularity and then by how enjoyable most of them were to read (except the last one).  But then I rationalized it by saying that I still don't like modern urban fantasy / paranormal romance, I just liked those books.  They're "better".  But that's bullshit, because it's exactly the same as saying that you don't like science fiction and fantasy but you really like Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood and The Time Traveler's Wife, but those aren't really SFF, they rise above genre.  Bullshit, right?  I was doing the same damn thing, so I picked up one of the more intriguing covers for a book that had been getting some good press.  Surprise - I thought it was fantastic and immediately wanted to read more.

My discovery of the month is the White Trash Zombie series from Diana Rowland. It's fantastic. Period. I'm near the end of the third book. I might write a bit more about the White Trash Zombie series in a separate article because it's worth unpacking my thoughts on the books and what is wrong my thinking. 

Worth Noting: I loved Promise of Blood from Brian McClellan. It's one of the first pieces of "flintlock fantasy" I'm conscious of reading, which is a fancy and concise way of saying that it is during the era of gunpowder rifles combined with magic and a fantasy setting. It's a change of setting that is nice, though I''m not at all claiming it was the first piece of that sort of fantasy written by a long shot. Also, I don't want to work too much with "flintlock fantasy" lest I start ghettoizing that, too.  But it's good. Lots of action and kick-assery. I'm going to read more from McClellan.

Gender Breakdown: This month 6 out of the 11 books I read were written by women. This brings me to 14 out of 24 on the year.  One of my reading goals for the year is to read more books written by women than by men.  As much as I have been focusing on this over the years, it is taking a very conscious choice to accomplish.  I'll have more to say about that in an article I still plan to write when I evaluate what I read last year. 

Previous Months:

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