Friday, March 12, 2010

Books Read in Early 2010

Although I've gotten used to typing 2010, I'm still not used to seeing it. It still looks a little fantastic (as in science fiction) to me. Nonetheless, here we are approaching the ides of March. So far I have read fantasy, non-fiction, and one mystery. And here's what I think of them.

Books Read in Early 2010

Serenity Found, edited by Jane Espenson
non-fiction essays about the Firefly universe
Back in 2007 I was delighted with Finding Serenity, a collection of essays about Joss Whedon's TV series Firefly. This is another collection of essays, some about the TV series, some about the subsequent movie. And again I was pleased with the effort. Some essays are more scholarly than others. Most contain a certain amount of humor. Some might even convince a non-fan to pick up the DVD's and try them out. [And if you liked Warehouse 13 on SciFi channel - OK SyFy - you can thank Jane, she's co-creator of the series.]

Poison Study, by Maria V. Snyder
I have been meaning to buy this book for years now. And last summer I finally bought it, along with a giant pile of other books to take on vacation. And somehow, it didn't make it to the top of the pile on vacation. When we got home, it stayed in the vacation bag and when I needed to travel in August, it wasn't the book I picked up. I was visiting with family and my younger brother was engrossed with Poison Study - it was keeping him up even later than usual at night. I mentioned I had been meaning to read it and when he finished it before I left, he asked if I wanted it. I gladly accepted it. Then when I got home I was embarrassed to find that I now had two copies of the book.

I started reading and was not sure at first if the book was for me. The opening scene is in a dungeon and that if followed by a chance at redemption layered with deceit. Then there are secrets inside secrets, and a dance of trust with many players. I was hooked. And now I'm waiting to read the sequels (which I will endeavor to remember I have before acquiring duplicates). And don't worry, the extra will go to the public library for their next book sale.

Afterburn, by S.L. Viehl
fantasy, sequel to Bio Rescue
I've had this book for a while, started it twice, but got no further than the first few pages. I don't know why, I liked Bio Rescue well enough, a story set on a world not unlike earth, but whose primary sentient beings are water-dwellers. A world whose land masses are wanted by settlers, refugees, and by military operators for strategic purposes. I picked this up again and pushed past the first section, in which young Burn expresses his frustration, to find a complex story that was a good read. Some characters return from the first book and there are new relationships to follow, across several species. Political maneuvering underlies much of the action, some pulling strings, others trying to react in ways that aren't against their personal ethics. I'm glad I pushed though.

Ponzi's Scheme by Mitchell Zuckoff
During the height of the Bernie Madoff publicity last year, a local man, a professor at Boston University, was interviewed about a book he wrote a few years ago. The book, Ponzi's Scheme, is a very readable biography of Charles Ponzi. I'm don't read many biographies, but this one reads like a story. Zuckoff is a journalism professor and he approached the story by gathering all the info he could, cross-checking the details of one account with another, and finally coming to understand Charles Ponzi. Through this telling of the events that led to one notable spring and very hot summer of 1920 I feel that I, too, have come to know Charles Ponzi and some of the things that motivated him. I can't say I'm sympathetic to him, but I understand how his self-deception and greed led him into a dead-end fiasco. I highly recommend this book.

Shakespeare's Champion by Charlaine Harris
A Lily Bard mystery, Book 2
This is the second Lily Bard mystery, set in the town of Shakespeare. It opens with murder intruding into Lily's life, in the gym where she regularly works out. I'm growing to like Lily, though her (understandable) thick shell often makes this a bit hard. And through Lily I'm getting to know the other residents of Shakespeare, with all their warts. And then there's the attractive and strangely-familiar stranger that keeps turning up...

Gale Force by Rachel Caine
Book 7 in the Weather Warden series
This series drives me crazy. Even with the "willing suspension of disbelief" that one must bring to any speculative fiction, this one leaps from one unimaginable improbability to another. But, having said that, at least the main character knows who she is in this book (unlike one of the previous books). And the feisty characters entertain me. And I leave each book forgiving Rachel Caine for the ride she just took me on and wondering when I should start the next one. In this one the Djinn David asks Jo to marry him, and she agrees. Then all hell breaks loose, but since that is nothing new to these characters, that is just the beginning.

Fool Moon by Jim Butchers
Book 2 of the Dresden Files
Harry Dresden, Wizard (the only one listed in the Chicago phone book), pissed off his friend the detective in the police department at the end of Book 1. That means she hasn't been hiring him to help investigate otherwise unexplainable crimes, putting a big crimp in his wallet. Then something turns up, something that the FBI wants no on else to look at. That doesn't stop the Chicago cop or Harry. There are all kinds of predator in this book. I'll be back for Book 3.


Sleepypete said...

2010 was the best of the Odyssey series :-)

Curious about Serenity Found. I'm occasionally working my way through "Sex, Drugs and Killer Muppets", which looks like something similar (series of non-fiction essays) about the Farscape series. Firefly was shortlived but was consistently as good as Farscape was at its best.

Will have to seek out this one and add it to the Amazon wish list :-) (or maybe get it for the sister so I can "borrow" it)

I'm more of a sci-fi book person though than fiction person :-)

PS I have Dresden Files on dvd, must watch them soon :-)

sister AE said...

I loved Farscape, although I missed most of the last several episodes, so at some point I need to get my hands on them. I think the "killer muppets" book sounds like fun.