Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Books Read: December 2016

Tuesday, January 03, 2017 0
Now that another month has come and gone, let's take a look at the books I read last month.

1. The Rise of Io, by Wesley Chu
2. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead
3. Everything Belongs to the Future, by Laurie Penny
4.The Four Thousand, The Eight Hundred, by Greg Egan
5. News of the World, by Paulette Jiles
6. You'll Grow Out of It, by Jessie Klein
7. Barkskins, by Annie Proulx
8. Three Parts Dead, by Max Gladstone
9. Cold-Forged Flame, by Maria Brennan
10. Talking As Fast as I Can, by Lauren Graham
11. Today Will Be Different, by Maria Semple
12. After the Crown, by K.B. Wagers
13. Swing Time, by Zadie Smith
14. The Mothers, by Brit Bennett

Best Book of the Month: The Mothers is excellent. You probably come here for genre recommendations, but go read The Mothers. So good.

Disappointment of the Month: None, really.

Discovery of the Month: Whhhhhyyyyy have I never read Max Gladstone before. Three Parts Dead is his debut novel and it's fantastic. I love the setting, I love the characaters, I love how smart it is, and I can't wait to see how he grows as a writer.

Worth Noting: If you were concerned about how Wesley Chu would pull off a Tao-verse novel without actually featuring Tao and a Tan, rest assured that The Rise of Io is excellent.

Gender Breakdown: 10 out of the 14 books I read in December were written by women. This brings my final total for 2016 to 95 out of 169, or 56.21%. This is the second consecutive (and possibly second ever) year with at least half of the books I've read written by women.

Previous Reads

Monday, December 12, 2016

Books Read: November 2016

Monday, December 12, 2016 0
Now that another month has come and gone, let's take a look at the books I read last month.

1. City of Wolves, by Willow Palacek
2. Nightshades, by Melissa F. Olson
3. The Association of Small Bombs, by Karan Mahajan
4. Winter Tide, by Ruthanna Emrys
5. Ceteganda, by Lois McMaster Bujold
6. The Ghoul King, by Guy Haley
7. A City Dreaming, by Daniel Polansky
8. Passing Strange, by Ellen Klages
9. Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor
10. The Fortress at the End of Time, by Joe M. McDermott
11. Elysium, by Jennifer Marie Brissett
12. Hammers on Bone, by Cassandra Khaw
13. Cold Counsel, by Chris Sharp
14. Another Brooklyn, by Jaqueline Woodson
15. Ethan of Athos, by Lois McMaster Bujold
16. Babylon's Ashes, by James S.A. Corey
17. Idle Ingredients, by Matt Wallace
18. Heroes of the Frontier, by Dave Eggers

Best Book of the Month: Any month I can read a Matt Wallace novella is a good month. I love his Sin du Jour and Wallace's forthcoming Idle Ingredients is one to wait for.

Disappointment of the Month: As much as I loved Daniel Polansky's novella The Builders, I hated his novel A City Dreaming. It was so disjointed and reminiscent in some ways of A Confederacy of Dunces - which many people would think is a complement, but I HATE A Confederacy of Dunces.

Discovery of the Month: So, I'm not a Lovecraft reader and generally don't care about anything that touches on Lovecraftian mythos - but Ruthanna Emrys' Winter Tide is a beautiful and wonderful and fantastic novel. Check it out this coming March.

Worth Noting: November was a very heavy month on Tor.com novellas. I don't know how many more months I expect to get through 18 books.

Gender Breakdown: 10 of the 18 books I read in November were written by women. This brings my total to 85 out of 155 and sneaks the percentage up to 54.83%. With one month left in the year I expect to end a second year with at least half the books I've read written by women.

Previous Reads

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Books Read: October 2016

Wednesday, November 02, 2016 0
Now that another month has come and gone, let's take a look at the books I read last month.

1. Heartless, by Gail Carriger
2. The Jewel and Her Lapidary, by Fran Wilde
3. Lions, by Bonnie Nadzam
4. The Maze Runner, by James Dashner
5. Girls of Fire, by Robin Wasserman
6. The Wolf Road, by Beth Lewis
7. The Vegetarian, by Han Kang
8. The Vor Game, by Lois McMaster Bujold
9. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin
10. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
11. A Thousand Words for Stranger, by Julie Czerneda
12. Infomocracy, by Malka Older
13. Spiderlight, by Adrian Tchaikovsky
14. Signs Preceding the End of the World, by Yuri Herrera

Best Book of the Month: One of my most anticipated novels of the year was Malka Older's Infomocracy and I am happy to report that it did not disappoint. I don't think it was quite was I expected, not that I'm at all sure what I did expect, but I couldn't stop thinking about Infomocracy any time I had to put the book down. It's also interesting reading the book during the closing days of this election cycle in the United States, but Older's look at how information and elections are traded at manipulated at both a global and a micro scale is friggin fascinating and intense. More, please.

Disappointment of the Month: Having heard such good things about Fran Wilde's Updraft, I was looking forward to reading this novella of hers - and somehow, I didn't care. I don't know that there was anything particularly wrong with it, but somehow it didn't grab me. I've noticed that other people who loved Updraft didn't connect with the Jewel and her Lapidary, so I'll still give Updraft a shot one day. It's just farther down my to-read list now.

Discovery of the Month: I've somehow never read Adrian Tchaivosky before despite having a few of his novels (Shadows of the Apt) on my bookshelf for years as review copies. Tor.com Publishing's release of Spiderlight was a more bite sized opportunity to jump into a standalone and - it's compelling with a cast of really distasteful characters, the heroes I mean. It's very Tolkien-esque / standard epic fantasy feeling as the core of the novel, with heroes of the Light questing out to serve a prophecy and defeat the Dark Lord - except the heroes are collectively all assholes and not in the charming asshole sort of way. They're pretty shitty people. Despite that, Thchaivoksy's storytelling is compelling.

Worth Noting: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry was a complete charmer. My wife read it, immediately handed it to me and I read the first chapter. I didn't want to put the book down. I'm not sure what, specifically, I loved about it so much that I could put into words, but it was a friggin delightful book.

Gender Breakdown: 11 of the 14 books I read in October were written by women, which is likely my strongest month of the year. This brings my total to 75 out of 137 and increases the percentage to 54.74%. With two months left in the year, I feel good about ending the year with at least half the books I've read being written by women.

Previous Reads

Monday, October 03, 2016

Books Read: September 2016

Monday, October 03, 2016 2
Now that another month has come and gone (and we're halfway through yet another), let's take a look at the books I read last month.

1. Everything's Eventual, by Stephen King
2. The Best Team Money Can Buy, by Molly Knight
3. The Lost Child of Lychford, by Paul Cornell
4. Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day, by Seanan McGuire
5. Tripwire, by Lee Child
6. Behind the Throne, by K.B. Wagers
7. The Girls, by Emma Cline
8. Poisoned Blade, by Kate Elliott
9. Sweetbitter, by Stephanie Danler
10. The Obelisk Gate, by N.K. Jemisin
11. War Porn, by Roy Scranton
12. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
13. Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch
14. Pieces of Hate, by Tim Lebbon
15. The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy

Best Book of the Month: The review is pending, but The Obelisk Gate is the best book I've read so far this year, let alone this month.

Disappointment of the Month: Depends how you want to look at this. As a whole, I've thoroughly enjoyed the Tor.com Novella line, so finding even one that doesn't quite hit is a disappointment (most recently Pieces of Hate), but I think the real disappointment has to be Roy Scranton's War Porn - a novel which was very well received on publication and I found it too disjointed to actually tell a coherent story. As three discrete novellas, I think I would have appreciated the novel far more. Perhaps the overlap of the stories was meant to be more to show the shape of the war and how people back home / soldiers / Iraqis interacted and dealt with the war, but Scranton's novel never quite came together for me.

Discovery of the Month: I expect to read much more from K.B. Wagers. I didn't review Behind the Throne because one of our other Nerds of a Feather reviewers already took the novel on. I found that I would have given the same exact score (7/10), but the review would have read much more positively. I thought Behind the Throne was delightful and fast paced and an overall kick ass novel. Loved the setting, loved the voice, loved Hail as a lead character and a source of introduction to that world - I want to see more. Good thing, there's going to be at least one more book.

Worth Noting: It won't be published until January, but keep an eye out for Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day from Seanan McGuire. It's really friggin good.

Gender Breakdown: 9 of the 15 books I read in August were written by women, which brings my total to 64 out of 123. The percentage continues to climb back to 52.03% through nine months.

Previous Reads

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Books Read: August 2016

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 0
Now that another month has come and gone (and we're halfway through yet another), let's take a look at the books I read last month.

1. Pride's Spell, by Matt Wallace
2. Borderline, by Mishell Baker
3. Hamilton: A Revolution, by Lin Manuel Miranda & Jeremy McCarter
4. The Heart, by Maylis de Kerangal
5. Deep South, by Nevada Barr
6. The Core of the Sun, by Johanna Sinisalo
7. A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab
8. A Taste of Honey, by Kai Ashante Wilson
9. The Race, by Nina Allan
10. The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, by Amy Schumer

Best Book of the Month: I don't know how to write about this novel featuring chili peppers as a controlled narcotic in a intensely policed Sweden, but The Core of the Sun was amazing.

Disappointment of the Month: None.

Discovery of the Month: After not really appreciating Kai Ashante Wilson's Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, I very much enjoyed his A Taste of Honey, a story which is so much more a tighter romance than the swords and sorcery of the previous novella.

Worth Noting: You're all reading Matt Wallace's Sin du Jour novellas from Tor.com, right? They are so freaking good and Pride's Spell is no exception.

Gender Breakdown: 7 of the 10 books I read in August were written by women, which brings my total to 55 out of 108 for the year. The percentage has now pushed back over 50% to 50.92% through eight months.

Previous Reads

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Books Read: July 2016

Thursday, August 25, 2016 0
Wow, folks, I'm really late on this. But - Now that another month has come and gone, let's take a look at the books I read last month.

1. The Complete Peanuts: 1999-2000, by Charles M. Schulz
2. Flesh and Wires, by Jackie Hatton
3. Consequence, by Eric Fair
4. A Time of Exile, by Katharine Kerr
5. The Sorcerer's Daughter, by Terry Brooks
6. Red Rising, by Pierce Brown
7. Hit, by Delilah S. Dawson
8. Blameless, by Gail Carriger
9. The Operators, by Michael Hastings
10. Dark Run, by Mike Brooks
11. Storm Front, by Jim Butcher
12. Roses and Rot, by Kat Howard

Best Book of the Month: Flesh and Wires. I could read another hundred pages of this and only hope that Jackie Hatton plans to write more - whether in this particular setting or elsewhere.

Disappointment of the Month: None

Discovery of the Month: The only previous Dresden Files novel I had read was last year's Hugo nominated Skin Job. Since I enjoyed that book, I decided to go back and start the series from the beginning. I had heard the first several novels were noticeably weaker, but I did very much enjoy Storm Front, though there was a bit of an odd quiet sexism running through Harry Dresden that I didn't remember from book 15 in the series.

Worth Noting: I don't remember a time in my life when I wasn't reading Charles Schulz's Peanuts comic strips. Fantagraphics have collected the full 50 year run of Peanuts and have been releasing them in volumes collecting two years at a time, two volumes per year. So, I've been re-reading (and discovering strips I had never seen before) these collections for the last 13 years. And now...I'm done. Charles Schulz passed away in early 2000, so there haven't been any new strips for the last 16 years, but now there is also no more new Peanuts for me to discover either. Once again, I am sad.

Gender Breakdown: 5 of the 12 books I read in July were written by women, which brings my total to 48 out of 98 for the year. That's 48.98% and is down from the perfect 50% the first six months of the year brought me. If I keep bouncing on either side of the 50/50 line, I'll be content, but I'll be happiest if I land on the 50%+ side.

Previous Reads

Monday, August 01, 2016

Hugo Awards 2016: My Final Ballot

Monday, August 01, 2016 0
Now that the deadline has passed and I have done all the Hugo reading and consuming that I am going to do this year, the final ballot I submitted is below.  The full list of nominees can be found here.

Best Novel (my thoughts)
1. The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin
2. Uprooted, by Naomi Novik
3. Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie
4. Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson
5. The Aeronaut's Windlass, by Jim Butcher

Best Novella (my thoughts)
1. Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor
2. The Builders, by Daniel Polansky
3. Penric's Demon, by Lois McMaster Bujold
4. Slow Bullets, by Alastair Reynolds
5. Perfect State, by Brandon Sanderson

Best Novelette (my thoughts)
1. "Obits", by Stephen King
2. "And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of the Dead", by Brooke Bolander
3. "Folding Beijing", by Hao Jingfang
4. "Flashpoint: Titan", by Cheah Kai Wai
5. "What Price Humanity?", by David VanDyke

Best Short Story (my thoughts)
1. "Cat Pictures Please", by Naomi Kritzer
2. "Seven Kill Tiger", by Charles Shao
3. "Asymmetrical Warefare", by S.R. Algernon
4. No Award

Best Related Work
No Vote

Best Graphic Story (my thoughts)
1. Invisible Republic: Vol 1
2. Erin Dies Alone
3. The Divine
4. Sandman: Overture
5. No Award

Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form (my thoughts)
1. The Martian
2. Mad Max: Fury Road
3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
4. Ex Machina
5. Avengers: Age of Ultron

Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form
No Vote

Best Editor: Short Form
1. Neil Clarke
2. John Joseph Adams
3. Ellen Datlow
4. Sheila Williams
5. Jerry Pournelle

Best Editor: Long Form
1. Liz Gorinksky
2. Sheila Gilbert
3. Toni Weisskopf
4. No Award

Best Professional Artist
1. Abigail Larson
2. Michal Karcz
3. Larry Rostant
4. Larry Elmore
5. No Award

Best Semiprozine
1. Uncanny Magazine
2. Beneath Ceaseless Skies
3. Strange Horizons
4. Daily Science Fiction
5. Sci Phi Journal

Best Fanzine (my thoughts)
1. Lady Business
2. File 770
3. Subversive SF
4. Castalia House Blog
5. Tangent Online

Best Fancast (my thoughts)
1. Cane and Rinse
2. HelloGreedo
3. The Rageaholic
4. 8-4 Play
5. Tales to Terrify

Best Fan Writer
No Vote

Best Fan Artist
1. Matthew Callahan
2. disse86
3. Christian Quinot
4. No Award

John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer
1. Andy Weir
2. Alyssa Wong
3. Pierce Brown
4. Sebastiel de Castell
5. Brian Neiemeier
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