winterbadger: (pooh tao)
It seems hard to believe that I haven't updated this list since October. I'm fairly sure I'll have missed out some titles as a result. But it also seems likely that I've not come close to matching last year's total of 48, let alone my goal of 50. But looking back over the years since I started keeping track here (in 2008), I've only once hit 50 and many years not reached 40, so 42 or so seems adequate. I don't know whether it's because I pick long books, or read slowly, or what. I certainly have a lamentably short attention span, so I flit back and forth between things.

The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon by John Ferling (36) This really deserves an entry of its own. Let's just say that Ferling does a great job of pulling off the heaps of laurel and waving off the clouds of incense and letting the very human Washington stand out.

John Macnab by James Buchan (37) An adventure tale by an accomplished tale-spinner, this story of three "gents" roughing it to play a prank on landlords in the Highlands is entertaining for its story, for its loving view of the geography of the Highlands, and for its portrayal of Scots and English (and some dreadful American) 'types' seen through the eyes of a Scots minister's son who rocketed upwards through Oxford and the diplomatic service to the governor-generalship of Canada.

Dodger (38) and The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett (39) One non-Discworld and one (final) Discworld volume by the master. Entertaining and educational in equal measure.

The Complete Rainbow Orchid by Garen Ewing (40): A graphic novel of pulp adventure in the style (artistically and literarily) of Herge's Tintin. I'd read sections for free online and eventually treated myself to a hard copy of the entire book. It's very fun if you don't take it seriously.

The California Voodoo Game by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes (41) A re-reading, and another of those where one sees the imperfections of a book one loved blindly at the time. Niven and Barnes sexism is off-putting, almost repellent, in a way that is clearly still popular among the Gamergate/Sad Puppy crowd. That said, it's an entertaining story combining RPG, sci-fi, and detective genres.

Penric's Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold (42) An entertaining tale (really a novella) of a young man in a medievalesque fantasy setting. I'll certainly read the others of its ilk.

Still in progress:

With Zeal and Bayonets Only by Matthew Spring
The Philadelphia Campaign: Brandywine and the Fall of Philadelphia by Thomas J. McGuire
Queen Victoria's Book of Spells Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran by Michael Axworthy
Little, Big by John Crowley
Eastward to Tartary by Robert B. Kaplan
Boderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine by Anna Reid
Love and War in the Apennines by Eric Newby
winterbadger: (pooh tao)
The Far Side of the World and The Reverse of the Medal by Patrick O'Brian (32, 33) I do love O'Brian's novels, and I've managed to read and re-read about half of them and left the other half deiciously undiscovered. The Reverse of the Medal marks my first step into that undiscovered country.

The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (34) I keep doling these out sparingly to myself because they're so wonderful, and I can read each of them for the first time only once. This came with a lovely prequel short story that was full of character and charm despite it's brevity. The novel itself was worthy of Dunnett in its complexity and "headology". And, like Dunnett's books, I love some of these characters and appreciate others without liking them, but I find all of them fascinating.

A Sort of Samurai by James Melville (35) A re-read, a case early in the reader's acquaintance with Inspector Tetsuo Otani of the Hyogo Prefectural Police. I wish more of Melville's enjoyable Otani novels were available as e-books; at the moment, only the first three are.

In process:
With Zeal and Bayonets Only by Matthew Spring
The Philadelphia Campaign: Brandywine and the Fall of Philadelphia by Thomas J. McGuire
Queen Victoria's Book of Spells Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran by Michael Axworthy
The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon by John Ferling
John Macnab by James Buchan
Dodger by Terry Pratchett
Little, Big by John Crowley
winterbadger: (books)
ISIS: The State of Terror by Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger (27) I would recommend this as a good starter in understanding what ISIL (and Salafist terrorism in general) is, where it came from, and where it's heading.
The Ionian Mission and Treason's Harbour by Patrick O'Brian (28, 29) More intelligence operations and Mediterranean travelogue than brillian ship-to-ship action, but entertaining and characterful.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman (30) The graphic-novel version of this creepy tale.
InterWorld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves (31) Entertaining young adult fiction from Gaiman and a collaborator.

In process:
With Zeal and Bayonets Only by Matthew Spring
The Philadelphia Campaign: Brandywine and the Fall of Philadelphia by Thomas J. McGuire
The Far Side of the World by Patrick O'Brian
Queen Victoria's Book of Spells Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran by Michael Axworthy
winterbadger: (bed)
Recently read:

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman (24) More of Gaiman's excellent short fiction and poetry. Some striking horror, comedy, and of course comedic horror in this collection of short tales from the inimitable tale-spinner.

Lincoln's Spymaster: Thomas Haines Dudley and the Liverpool Network by David Hepburn Milton (25) A counterpoint to Our Man in Chalreston, an account of the Quaker lawyer from New Jersey who served for ten years as US consul in Liverpool, documenting and trying to thwart the Confederate use of the neutral UK as a base for building and equipping its small by very modern fleet of commerce raiders. This book, among other things, provides clear evidence of how heavily some factions in the UK supported the Confederate states, to Britain's eternal shame.

The Surgeon's Mate by Patrick O'Brian (26) More sailing war stories, glimpses of Regency domestic life and finances, and intelligence web-spinning, as Lucky Jack Aubrey and Dr Stephen Maturin travel from Nova Scotia to Britain, to the Baltic, to Paris, and all the stormy seas in between.


In process:
ISIS: The State of Terror
by Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger
The Ionian Mission by Patrick O'Brian
With Zeal and Bayonets Only by Matthew Spring
Queen Victoria's Book of Spells Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran by Michael Axworthy
winterbadger: (coffee cup)
The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 by Alistair Horne (19)
Brilliance of the Moon by Lian Hearn (20)
Blood of Victory by Alan Furst (21)
The Thief and The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (22 and 23)

I want to record these before I forget to do so, but they need more time to properly review than I have right now.

In Progress:
With Zeal and Bayonets Only by Matthew Spring
Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
Queen Victoria's Book of Spells Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran by Michael Axworthy
winterbadger: (coffee cup)
Our Man in Charleston: Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War South by Christopher Dickey (15) I quite enjopyed this book, despite not being generally that interested in 19th century American history, to include that of the Civil War. This book describes the person and activities of Robert Bunch while he held the position of British Consul in the city of Charleston, South Carolina, from 1853 to 1864. It's quite a fascinating read, the story of a man with ardent anti-slavery beliefs forced to live and cultivate relationships with soime of the most ferocious advocates of slavery in the American South. At one point I hoped to have a career as a foreign service officer, so I find accounts of the realities of the diplomatic life provide an interesting glimspe of a world I trained to live in but missed out on. Bunch took many risks in his role--somewhere between a proper diplomat, an intelligence officer, and a commercial representative of the Crown. He forged unique relationships with some highly placed mambers of Britain's foreign policy elite The book also gives us insights into the background of the issues and contorversies Bunch was responsible for reporting on, including the attempts to subvert and then defy the US government's committment to end the slave trade. Some characters that pass through these pages are familiar from other books I've read (which seem to have fallen between the cracks of my reporting)--including Sen. Charles Sumner from The Greater Journey and Charleston Harbor itself from War on the Waters.

One Christmas in Washington by David J. Bercuson and Holger H. Herwig (16) A rather mediocre history of the Arcadia Conference (the first meeting between FDR and Churchill and their staffs to plan war strategy after America's entry into World War II), this book may have suffred from having two authors. I don't know what their work process was, but if they wrote separate portions and then tried to knit them together, it might help explain some of the work's idiosyncracies, like revisiting a topic already described as if it were being raised for the first time. Other problems are more mysterious, like describing events completely out of their correct time (at one point during the narrative, the fall of Signapore is discuseed as if it happened during Churchill's trip to Washington, even though it took place a month later). Some of the authors' descriptions of the relevant characters are thorough and well put together. Others are mere caricatures, lacking depth or understanding of their subjects. In particular, their focus on making Eleanor Roosevelt out to be a petty, catty housewife, more concerned with scoring personal snubs than policy or principle is nothing short of regrettable. They seem overly attached to describing Churchill's eccentricities, instead of getting a closer look at his personality. And it is only fitfully that one glimpses FDR's personality and strategy through the constant barrage anecdotes about his dog and his propensity for making cocktails. While it seems to provide the basic facts of the conference, this rather scattershot and ditzy account of Arcadia could surely be improved upon. One cause for celebration: I notice that the overblown and inaccurate subtitle of the recorded edition--"the secret meeting between Roosevelt and Churchill that changed the world"--appears to have been replaced with a less grandiose and more accurate one--"Churchill and Roosevelt Forge the Grand Alliance"--in subsequent editions.

Snuff by Terry Pratchett (17) Another excellent adventure for Sam Grimes, his family, the police force of Ankh-Morpork, and a host of new and familiar Discworld characters. Pratcheet at his best, combining well developed characters with exciting stories and thoughtful moral commentary.

I seem to have forgotten to report on

War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies, 1861-1865 by James M. McPherson (18?) and
The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough (19?)

both excellent books that I greatly enjoyed (though I hear only an abridged version of the latter). I've got to figure out where my reviews of them went to, and if I missed any others.

In Progress:

The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 by Alistair Horne
Brilliance of the Moon by Lian Hearn
With Zeal and Bayonets Only by Matthew Spring
Blood of Victory by Alan Furst
Queen Victoria's Book of Spells Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran by Michael Axworthy

Also waiting are a whole slew of new books on the American Revolutiuon, especially a coupel of books on the campaign of 1777 in Pennsylvania and environs.
winterbadger: (pooh tao)
I finally finished Dunkirk: Retreat to Victory by Julian Thompson (13) I found it both interesting (the detailed accounts of the fighting that the BEF engaged in) and frustrating (the paucity of maps)> The introduction promised to explain in detail the author's perspective that the British forces, far from being crushed by their rapid and chaotic defeat and loss of most of their materiel

Sourcery by Terry Pratchett (14) This struck me as being of the part of Pratchett's oeuvre tastes of which always made me reluctant to read his work. There is a lot of rather feeble joking and a large handful of the recurring characters which I'm sure delight Pratchett fans just by appearing. What it's missing is the thoughfulness that went into his later books, the well developed characters, and a plot amounting to more than "something turns up with no warning that proceeds to nearly destroy the world, and then doesn't". C-

In progress:

Brilliance of the Moon by Lian Hearn
With Zeal and Bayonets Only by Matthew Spring
The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 by Alistair Horne
Blood of Victory by Alan Furst
Queen Victoria's Book of Spells Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
winterbadger: (DCUme)
Since I haven't managed to decide between GoodReads and LibraryThing yet, I'll stach another list of books read here for the moment.

Read:
A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett (1)
Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett (2)
Holes by Louis Sachar (3)
Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett (4)
Night Watch by Terry Pratchett (5)
Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett (6)
Going Postal by Terry Pratchett (7)
Making Money by Terry Pratchett (8)
Thud! by Terry Pratchett (9)
The Philadelphia Campaign: June 1777-July 1778 by David G. Martin (10)
Storm Front by Jim Butcher (11)
Fool Moon by Jim Butcher (12)

In progress:

With Zeal and Bayonets Only by Matthew Spring
The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 by Alistair Horne
Dunkirk: Retreat to Victory by Julian Thompson
Queen Victoria's Book of Spells Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Profile

winterbadger: (Default)
winterbadger

April 2017

S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
910111213 1415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30      

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 26th, 2017 02:44 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios