Mar. 5th, 2014 @ 11:13 am A reading post
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I haven't read a lot of books in the past few months, for some reason: my focus seems to have been doing better with either short bits on the web, or crossword puzzles. I think I'm doing a little better (books are not inherently more virtuous than other activities, but being able to concentrate long enough to read a book, rather than stretch it out a few pages at a time over months, is useful.) With minimal comments, what I've read in the last while:

Starglass, by Phoebe North: a coming of age novel, with lots of politics, set on a generation starship, with a fairly rigid society, as it approaches its destination. I read this in lots of little bits, which is more my current difficulty sitting with a book than a flaw in this one. I like the way the author uses the diary excerpts from early in the ship's history, but was not convinced by how she links the narrator's recurring dreams to the events at the end of the book.

Just One Damned Thing After Another, by Jodi Taylor. I think I got this as a freebie on the kindle, in some random way I don't remember. This is about a woman working for an organization that is using time travel as a way to study history—with all sorts of risks, eventually including very wild animals, when they go back to the Cretaceous. And the whole thing is being done almost entirely in secret, with a very small budget. I like (though am not sure I quite believe) the narrator, who self-describes as having no caution whatsoever, and stumbled into this job via a helpful teacher, from a family background that seems at best neglectful. I'll probably get the next volume of this, but haven't done so yet.

Miss Seeton Sings, by Heron Carvic. Reread of a somewhat absurd (deliberately so) mystery novel: fluff, but I needed fluff that week.

The Confessions of Arsene Lupine, by Maurice Leblanc. A very old French mystery about a very clever burglar. My note when I finished this was "fun, but I'm not sure how many of these I'll read," and indeed I stopped halfway through another on my way back from Boston last month. This is one of those things that I grabbed partly because it's old enough to be free on Project Gutenberg, meaning adding it to the kindle gives me more reading material with no extra weight.

Rebel Women, by Evelyn Sharp. A good novel about suffragettes, written when that was contemporary fiction. Recommended by mrissa. It ends abruptly.

Dragon Brother and Other Stories, by Marissa Lingen. Short children's stories, all of which I enjoyed. Ebook, available on Amazon; I paid for this one and feel as though I got my money's worth.

[I alternated the three above on my Seattle-Boston flight last month; I figured that if I had a short attention span, collections of short stories were a good idea, and I was right.]

Dealing with Dragons, by Pat Wrede. More fluff, a reread, and I enjoyed it more when Adrian read it to me in chunks than I did all at once on the flight home: being read to by someone I love is a specific pleasure, which I don't think would be replicated by audiobooks.

Kinsey and Me, by Sue Grafton. This is a two-part collection of short stories: the first half are stories she wrote a while ago about Kinsey Millhone, the heroine and narrator of her ongoing mystery series. That was good, cheerful fun, though I hadn't realized how many of her stories involve emotionally and structurally similar chase scenes until I read several this close together. She says in the introduction that she chose early in the series to age Kinsey slowly, at one year/three novels, because given the stories she's telling, she needs her detective to be relatively young and in good physical shape. But what I'd noticed most, reaeding them over time, is that it means Kinsey is doing her work without a lot of current technology: the characters don't have cell phones, and a lot is on paper that in 2013 would be at least partly electronic. The stories in the second half of the book are introspective, something like an emotional autobiography in which she comes to terms with her alcoholic mother, though the imagined details change from one to the next; I didn't read all of them, because it had a feeling of sameness, and while I see the value to her of writing them all, I don't either know her or have some other reason to want that whole landscape.

Atomic Frontier Days: Hanford and the American West, by John M. Findlay and Bruce Hevly. A detailed social history of the Tri-Cities area of eastern Washington, the Hanford Project, and their interactions. I grabbed this at random from the "recent nonfiction" table at the library; seem to have decided that 3 long chapters is enough. Well done, if it's the sort of thing you're looking for: say, if you're interested in WW II and postwar development, deliberate reinforcement of class and racial strata in that context (in this case by government order), or Washington history. Slow and chewy, heavily footnoted.

W Is for Wasted, by Sue Grafton. A mystery novel, most recent in her series (see above). Better than the previous couple, I think: the subplots hold together, and the writer just did a better job of keeping my interest. There's more on Kinsey's family and how she deals with having/knowing relatives, as an orphan raised by an eccentric aunt who acted as though they had no other family. It was a little odd having chunks of the book in a third-person voice, labeled as "$time earlier" in the otherwise first-person narrative. Usually Grafton shows us what Kinsey has some way of knowing; here, that third-omniscient goes into detail that she couldn't have, some of it stuff that nobody except a character who dies in the prologue could have.

The Well-Tempered Sentence, by Karen Elizabeth Gordon. A somewhat eccentric guide to correct punctuation: quick reread while trying to rest my hands.

Lizard Music, by Daniel Pinkwater [this one as "D. Manus Pinkwater"]. Another reread, this one a surreal YA novel, as good as I remembered.

Cross-posted from Dreamwidth (, where there are comment count unavailable comments. I welcome comments here or there (OpenID and "anonymous" are fine if you don't have a DW account).
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Date:March 6th, 2014 02:14 am (UTC)
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*notes a couple of these*