Friday, January 14, 2000

2016 Book Reviews

Once again, I set out to review at least some of what I read.  We'll see how it goes.

71.  Crosstalk by Connie Willis
This was mildly entertaining but very slight.  Connie Willis has a habit of writing characters who see the world as a hopeless muddle, in which they are helpless to resist events.  This worked brilliantly in To Say Nothing of the Dog, which blended screwball comedy with deeper themes.  This book mostly fails to deal with the more serious issues, the conflicts are contrived, and the resolution is a deus ex machina.  Die-hard Willis fans will probably like it anyway.  More critical readers will find it disappointing.  I enjoyed it on a popcorn level, but wished that it tackled more challenging questions.

70.  All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris

69.  The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future by Gretchen Bakke-
An anthropologist looks at the state of the modern American electrical system, how we got here, what's wrong with it, and what may happen next.  She gives a good explanation of the technical, regulatory and business issues, and along the way explains a lot of the not-very-well-known quirks of our system.  A good read for anyone interested in knowing how things work, as well as gaining more insight into a system in the throes of change.

68.  Best Laid Plans by Allison Brennan

67.  Heat Wave by Allison Brennan

66.  Cold Snap by Allison Brennan

65.  Space Case by Stuart Gibbs

64.  Stolen by Allison Brennan

63.  The Hunt by Allison Brennan

62.  Bullseye by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

61.  Stalked by Allison Brennan

60.  Timeless by Gail Carriger

59.  Silenced by Allison Brennan

58.  The Three Monarchs by Anthony Horowitz (short story)

57.  Savage Run by C.J. Box

56.  Murder in Containment by Anne Cleeland

55. Fluid by Alex Hughes
54. Temper by Alex Hughes
53.  Payoff by Alex Hughes
52.  Rabbit Trick by Alex Hughes
Short fiction in the Mindspace Investigations SF mystery series.  Start with "Clean".

51.  Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance by Jane Gleeson-White

50.  Open Season by C.J. Box

49.  If I Should Die by Allison Brennan

48.  Kiss Me, Kill Me by Allison Brennan

47.  Love is Murder by Allison Brennan

46.  Love Me to Death by Allison Brennan

45.  A Cold White Sun by Vicky Delany

44.  Apprentice in Death by J.D. Robb

43.  The Magicians by Lev Grossman

42.  Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen by Vicky Delany

41.  Dead Wake by Erik Larsen

40.  Mark of the Cat by Andre Norton

39.  The Nightmare Stacks by Charles Stross

38.  Alliance of Equals by Steve Miller and Sharon Lee

37.  A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

36.  The Art Whisperer by Charlotte and Aaron Elkins

35.  A Cruise to Die For by Charlotte and Aaron Elkins

34.  Switcheroo by Aaron Elkins

33.  Heartless by Gail Carriger

32.  Night Road by Brendan Dubois
I found it very hard to identify with the characters in this one- they were in general paranoid and anti-government and engaged in criminal activities which they justified by blaming the government for not making the world better for them.  The book was itself well written and plotted- even if I couldn't really buy the less-bad group of criminals as heroic.  I expect people who sympathize with the politics would like it better than I did.

31.  The Pawn by Steven James

30.  Private: LA by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan (audiobook)

29.  A Deeper Darkness by J.T. Ellison

28.  Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

27.  Burned by Benedict Jacka

26.  The Obsession by Nora Roberts
This one suffered by taking half the book for the villain to show up.  But pleasant characters and a very cool house were mildly enjoyable.

25.  Antarctica, an Intimate Portrait of a Mysterious Continent by Gabrielle Walker
The author traveled around the continent, visiting a number of the different research stations and talking to residents about life and doing science in Antarctica.    She touches on the history for context, but the focus is on what we're learning about Antarctica today.  Interesting, though the date of publication (2013) and length of time it took to write mean that some of the science is old news.  But still very interesting, and plenty of it new to me.  Toward the end, I felt like there was more filler- I could have done with less emoting on the vastness of it all, and more science.  But still, overall a fascinating read about a part of the world I am unlikely to ever visit.

24.  Silence by Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin-
I found the plot thin and the characters flat.  When I approach the climax and question whether I should bother finishing the book?  Not a good sign.

23.  Crewel World by Monica Ferris

22.  False Positive by Andrew Grant
Fast paced and plotty but skeletal- if only I could have crossed it with the last book, they might both have been more satisfying.

21.  Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold
As a longtime fan of the series, I was very disappointed by the latest entry.   Background, conversation and reminiscences litter the Sergyaran landscape in gelatinous invertebrate disarray, dying for want to a plot to hang them on.   From time to time the author teases us- the city by the volcano! Undiscovered species on a new world!  Cetagandans!  Crooked contractors!  Discontented civic leaders!  Teenagers with poor judgment! - and yet none of these ever turns into a conflict that might have made this book something more than a protracted epilogue to the Vorkosigan saga.

20.  Bloodline by Felix Francis
The best of Felix's work that I've read to date, this is a workmanlike effort, with much of the feel of his father's novels.  Although the character was only moderately appealing, the race-calling background was interesting and relevant, and the plot moved along briskly.

19.  Uprooted by Naomi Novik

18. Private Down Under by James Patterson and Michael White (audiobook)

17. Unrelenting by Mike Shephert

16. Tenacious by Mike Shepherd

15.  A Call to Arms by David Weber, Timothy Zahn with Thomas Pope.

14.  NYPD Red 3 by James Patterson and Marshall Karp

13.  Drawing Conclusions by Deirdre Verne

12.  The Aztec Code by Stephen Cole

11.  Lord of the Wings by Donna Andrews
Another charming entry in the Meg Langslow mystery series.

10.  Touch by David J. Linden
A fascinating non-fiction book on our sense of touch, which turns out to be way more complex and less well understood than I had dreamed.   The author presents complex phenomena without dumbing it down.  Non-biologists like myself will have to work to follow the more technical bits, but I don't consider that a bad thing.   And there is plenty here even for the people who are not inclined to try and understand the biochemistry.

9.  Alone in the Dark by Karen Rose

8.  Brotherhood in Death by J.D. Robb
Another enjoyable procedural.

7.  When Shadows Fall by J.T. Ellison

6.  The End Game by Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison
Another over-the-top thriller.  Fun but the technical implausibility of the McGuffin tended to throw me out of the story.

5.  Winter of Secrets by Vicki Delany
4.  Valley of the Lost by Vicki Delany
3.  In the Shadow of the Glacier by Vicki Delany

2.  Migritude by Shailja Patel

1.  Waking the Dead by Kylie Brant
A mostly undistinguished thriller, though it does have the virtue of a heroine who doesn't need to be rescued.

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