supercheesegirl: (books - Matisse reading lady)
The Doll's House (The Sandman #2), by Neil Gaiman: Originally read in November 2005, reread 4/3/17. I didn't remember much of this. The serial killer convention was a little much for me these days, but I did enjoy the reread.

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell: Finished 4/6/17. I started this as an audiobook on a day when I had a long drive to make by myself in the car (a thing that never happens anymore). Cath did get on my nerves, and I had some trouble understanding why these interesting people wanted to hang out with her. But the Simon Snow stuff was fun.

Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening, by Marjorie M. Liu: Finished 4/12/17. Wow. The art is amazing, and the story is unique, with so many interesting plot threads and so much rich history. All the gory death and torture was pretty disturbing for me, but I will definitely read the next one.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1), by J.K. Rowling: Finished 4/16/17. My fourth reread, and OK, fine, I read this aloud to my four year old. I figured I'd read until it got too scary, but even toward the end she was hanging in okay, so I kept going. A LOT of it was over her head, but she seemed to really enjoy it, and the big bad reveal at the end was a total surprise to her. It was really a pleasure to read it with her, and I'm looking forward to doing it again in a few years.

I Liked My Life, by Abby Fabiaschi: Finished 4/20/17. Really, really enjoyed this, even if I was anticipating the twist at the end. A quick and engaging read, in one of my favorite niche genres, “ghost love stories”.

The Lost Princess of Oz (Oz, #11), by L. Frank Baum: Finished 4/30/17. Read this aloud with my daughter at bedtime. She enjoyed the mystery of it a lot and laughed pretty much every time I said "Cayke the Cookie Cook".

The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin: First read in maybe 2002, reread 4/30/17. I was surprised how much I didn't remember: all the folk tales and anthropological bits, much of political machinations. I had remembered the book as being primarily (and endlessly) traveling over the ice, but that's really not even a third of the text (according to my friend Warren, who read it on an eReader and took note). My sci-fi book club read this on my suggestion, and it was the book that led to the most and deepest book-related conversation, so I was pretty proud.

Also, the copy my husband got out of the library had an interesting essay by Le Guin included at the end, about how she would have done things differently if she'd written the book later, and some alternate versions of chapters where she actually plays with the pronouns. This really added to my understanding and appreciation.

Genly isn't a particularly accessible character, and we know so little of his life before he came to Gethen (like, for example, why he would choose to give up everyone he'd ever known). But even without that backstory, by the end we see Genly opened. It's a sad book. I had forgotten the ending.
supercheesegirl: (books - reading addict)
The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell: Finished on 3/5/17. I loved this book. It's been six weeks since I finished it and I'm still thinking about it.


Serafina and the Black Cloak (Serafina #1), by Robert Beatty: Read 3/11/17 - 3/12/17. I really enjoyed this odd little book. The Biltmore estate was nicely evoked, Serafina was a compelling character, and the big reveal about her identity was refreshingly different. Glad to see this is the start of a series.


Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein: Finished 3/16/17. Yes, it was the first time I’d ever read it, and I only read it now because my book club insisted. I know, I know, what business do I have being a massive SF fan and only now getting around to Heinlein? Well, I hated it. I can see why it was so revolutionary and I found many of the ideas interesting, but man does the rampant sexism make it feel dated. (My book club buddy who was most interested in reading this couldn’t even finish it.) Many of the women were interesting characters, but the men were always primary - and discussed why it was good and right that they be the primary actors. Plus the treatment of the one character of color, the Muslim doctor, and the fact that he was the only character with a nickname (“Stinky”)? And the obvious discomfort with homosexuality, despite the sexual openness that characterizes the book. I can’t help wondering about (and actually hoping someone may write) what would have happened if “Valentine M. Smith” had been born a girl and how that could have totally changed the book’s dynamic.

I’m glad I read it, because I should educate myself about my genre, but reading it rarely felt like more than educating myself about SF history; it rarely sucked me in as a book should. I can appreciate that the ideas in this book may well have contributed to the social evolution that now makes it seem so old fashioned, but that doesn’t mean it’s still readable. Pass me the LeGuin, please.


The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes (The Sandman #1), by Neil Gaiman: First read in November 2005, reread 3/20/17. The first time around, I read the whole series so fast I didn’t have a sense of what happened in each volume, and I think I missed a lot. I really enjoyed the reread even though the gory bits seemed much gorier and darker to me now - more than 10 years later! Really enjoyed revisiting the beginning of Dream’s story (or, the story as Gaiman tells it, since obviously Dream’s story has no beginning or end...).


Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Finished 3/26/17. Amazing, amazing book, truly was one of the best things I've read in a very, very long time. So smart, and the narrator's perspective on America as an American African (not an African American, and therefore as an outside observer of race in this country) was new to me. I feel like I learned a lot and also have a lot to think about. The ending for me (i.e., the resolution of the love story) didn't feel as earned as the rest of the book; it felt more like the character made certain decisions because the reader had come to expect it, not because we saw that character evolve into those decisions. But it's small quibble in a book that I think is likely to be generation-defining. And to be honest I still liked the optimism of the ending, and felt glad that it could still be optimistic.
supercheesegirl: (books - petals)
I'd heard great things about this book and it's been on my To Read list for a while, which is why I persevered even though there's a mother grieving over the body of her dead child on the first page. Shortly after becoming a parent, I realized that my emotional reactions to certain stimuli had changed forever, and also that I just did not have time to waste on stuff that upsets me; I'd rather spend my limited reading and TV-watching time on things I enjoy. Thus, ordinarily, page one of this book would have been the only page I read, but I kept going. I'm glad I did, even though there was a lot that was difficult for me to read (spoiler: the kid on page one isn't the only dead or abused child in the book). Jemisin paints a world that is brutal and harsh, a people doing everything they can to cling to the essence of civilization; the first few pages make clear that we're on the edge of apocalypse, and things weren't too great before the catastrophic events began, either. But it's a fascinating world nonetheless, and not like anything I've read before. I'll definitely read the next book, but I might not get to it quickly.

Finished October 8, 2016
supercheesegirl: (goth dolly)
Full title: The Diamond Age: or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer. Finished on 9/24/16.

I'm not even sure what to say about this. Read more... )

This book gets three stars for keeping me interested for over 900 pages. It would've gotten more if it had had an actual ending. (I may come back and revise these comments after talking with my book club on Friday, we'll see.)
supercheesegirl: (books - reading addict)
Finished this May 30. Wow. So impressive. About the only thing I didn't love was that I have no clue how to pronounce "Radch" and I trip over it every time I read it. Otherwise, such an inventive book. Can't wait to read the rest.

-----
Interesting article about gendered pronoun usage
supercheesegirl: (star trek - aieee)
Wow, what a delight. Hilarious, particularly the dialogue. I laughed, I got teary at the end. At first I was annoyed by the lengthy codas but by the end I felt like it was the exact right way to complete the book. I loved how meta this book was, I loved how nerdy it was. I can't wait to talk about it with my friends.
supercheesegirl: (narnia - caspian stars)
I can't stop thinking about this series. Robinson continues the Mars trilogy with this second installment, in which the Martian colonists really make progress with growing stuff (hence, "green"). I can't recommend these books enough - Robinson really writes the Martian landscape like he's been there - and the world-building (society, politics, science, everything) is just excellent. Robinson makes some strides with characterization here as well; Sax, who was one of my least favorite characters in Red Mars (because I found him least accessible) here experiences a personal crisis and becomes incredibly sympathetic. I really enjoyed his transformation, which in some ways mirrors the transformation of Mars itself, and of humanity's perceptions of it. In summary, if you like books about other planets, this series should be on your To Read list.
supercheesegirl: (books - book head readers)
I really loved this: a strong thoughtful murder mystery set against a backdrop of innovative urban fantasy. So much complexity! So much beauty! So many good plot twists! Read more... )

(And it won a Hugo in 2010 and I didn't even realize so I got to cross off another Hugo winner too!)
supercheesegirl: (star trek - aieee)
I've been working on this on and off for probably close to a year. I've wanted to read Tiptree for a long time; she was a ground-breaking sci-fi writer and one of the few women who gained recognition in this field in the 1970s. The stories in this collection were all really... haunting. Almost every story followed me around for a few days after I finished it, which is partly why reading this took so long.

In many ways, her stories present a really hopeless future, but Tiptree's characters also keep going and striving (which is part of why they were so haunting to me; Ursula Le Guin, a favorite of mine who was much younger than Tiptree but writing at the same time, has a lot more hope in her stories - or maybe she just uses fiction to explore hopeful concepts? I could spend a long time thinking about this). In particular, Tiptree's vision of gender in the future was fascinating to me. In several of the stories presenting a future with a gender binary, the women end up as sex slaves on spaceships, but are no less interesting or competent for that; it's the men who are caricatures of macho maleness while the women are working five times as hard to succeed and servicing the men as an understood price of admission. Her stories really focus on the female characters when you look at them collected like this; it's really interesting to me that no one caught on that she was a woman for such a long time.

Overall, I'm glad I read this, since Tiptree's work is so hugely influential (so clear now looking back on other SF that I've read). I won't likely seek her out again in the near future, however, which has more to do with how sad her stories make me and nothing to do with their artistry or literary merit, of which I don't think enough can be said.

(Marking this with my "hugo" tag because this collection includes the following Hugo Award winners: 1974 novella, "The Girl Who Was Plugged In"; 1977 novella, "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?")
supercheesegirl: (books - book head readers)
I really enjoyed this. It comes across a little more dated than many other Hugo-winning novels do (for example, the protagonist spends a lot of time lugging around large computer consoles), but the overall plot is solid and makes up for any datedness. It's a very cinematic novel, very visual language. It was fun to read some real straight-up sci fi. Recommended.
supercheesegirl: (princess jasmine)
I loved this little Arabian-nights style time travel tale. Chiang does time travel properly: he outlines the rules, doesn't deviate from them, and doesn't allow for changing the past, but he's able to create layers of nuance and meaning within this framework. It's not a big story but it's one that resonated with me and that I think I'll remember. Possibly my favorite Chiang story after Story of Your Life. (Tagging with the Hugo tag because it won Best Novelette in 2008 - is there anything Chiang does that doesn't get Hugo recognition??)
supercheesegirl: (books - hugged by words)
This novella was fascinating, compelling, and difficult to put down. I knew five pages in that it would break my heart. But unlike the stories in Chiang's Stories of Your Life and Others, it didn't break my heart. That was disappointing. The ending fell flat for me, and I think Chiang could have done more.

(Tagging with the Hugo tag because it won the Hugo for best novella in 2010.)
supercheesegirl: (books - book head readers)
This book was fantastic. Ted Chiang is the best kind of science fiction writer: he explores actual science concepts in his fiction while still delivering stories that carry deep emotional impact. The reader isn't overwhelmed or frustrated by the science; you just want to know more, and read more carefully so you can better understand. (I think I just said that Ted Chiang makes me a better reader. Well, I think that's a fair thing to say.) Some of these stories completely blew my mind and shocked me; one of these stories made me sob for ten minutes. All of these stories made me think. Highly, highly recommended.

(Note: Tagging as "hugo" because one of these stories, "Hell Is the Absence of God", won a Hugo Award for best novelette. It was my least favorite story in the collection, but still. He also won a Nebula Award for "Tower of Babylon", which is one of the stories that completely blew my mind.)
supercheesegirl: (books - book head readers)
I thought this was solid, if not spectacular, science fiction. I like the way Haldeman writes the science - for example, it's a lot more believable, to me, to imagine that humans have to be strapped down in special suits to survive the incredible pressure of near-light-speed travel than to imagine that they can just walk around fine all the time on a spaceship (a la Star Trek). I thought Haldeman also did a good job reflecting on the meaning of war. However, Haldeman is also playing with the concept of time travel: when traveling long distances at high speeds, the traveler barely ages while hundreds of years passes back home. And I have to say that other people do a more compelling job with that (notably Ursula K. LeGuin). Haldeman's book is still a good read, and I'm glad to have read it, but I wouldn't classify it as one of the best Hugo winners I've read.
supercheesegirl: (doctor who - inspector spacetime)
This year's Hugo nominees are posted: http://www.thehugoawards.org/hugo-history/2012-hugo-awards/. I haven't read any of the novels, but I am completely in love with the fact that Community is up for a Hugo for the fantastic episode "Remedial Chaos Theory". Neil Gaiman will get it for "The Doctor's Wife", and rightly so, but just the fact that Community was nominated makes me squee.
supercheesegirl: (star trek - aieee)
Another Hugo winner! This book took me forever to read. It's a complex tapestry of events and characters. Also, there are space battles. I felt like a few threads got dropped (Kressich?) but overall, excellent. I like the Downers.
supercheesegirl: (star trek - aieee)
This short story collection is excellent! It includes five stories by Butler, who considers herself much more a novelist than a short story writer. The stories are all terrific: "Speech Sounds" won the Hugo for best short story in 1984, and "Bloodchild" won for best novelette in 1985, so that's pretty awesome. (I love crossing things off the Hugo list.) It also includes Butler's first published story, "Crossover".

The collection also includes two short essays at the end about writing and about how Butler became a writer. They're fun and very accessible, and someday I might like to photocopy them and give them to a class.

Another neat thing about this collection is that Butler writes a brief Afterword for each piece, in which she talks a bit about what inspired her to write it, what she likes about it, what she thinks is going on. That was really interesting too, to get a glimpse into Butler's own take on these works.

Overall, I was really reminded of Ursula K. Le Guin, and in my opinion that is rarely a bad thing. Like Le Guin's, Butler's stories are science fiction but are far more character driven than "hey cool a robot" driven. She uses the conventions of science fiction to explore what a human character would do or say in that setting. Also, I've read some of Le Guin's commentary on her own work and really enjoyed it, too. Butler and Le Guin were of roughly the same writing generation (at least from my perspective)--Le Guin is 20 years older, but they were both writing at a time when it was difficult for women to be writing science fiction. Butler, however, is one of the few black women to make a significant contribution in the field, which makes her work interesting and unique.

Overall, this little collection was an excellent introduction to Octavia Butler's works. I now feel inspired to read more!

Only downside: I got this book used, and the previous owner made lots of marginal notations and messy underlinings, in pen. If I ever do want to photocopy anything for a class, I'm going to have to buy a new copy, as I wouldn't want my students thinking *I'm* the idiot that marked up a book like that.
supercheesegirl: (star trek - aieee)
I found an old paperback copy in Baskets Bookstore in Brattleboro, VT. I've been looking for this for a while, and Baskets is just the kind of wonderful used bookstore where I could dig around and find it. I picked up some Le Guin and Asimov there, too.

In any case. This is a Hugo Award winner, and I thought it was great. The novel describes the collapse of human civilization, and the efforts of an isolated group to save humanity through cloning--but the clones are different in key ways from naturally conceived humans. An excellent read, highly recommended.
supercheesegirl: (sandman - delirium)
I absolutely loved this book. It was delightful. It was spooky and excellent. I loved the characters, and the graveyard, and the stories. It's the perfect Halloweenish book. Neil Gaiman is the best.
supercheesegirl: (star trek - aieee)
This book was awesome! Just on the edge of being almost too sciencey for me, but I still got the gist of the physics they were talking about. The aliens were so creative and interesting! And the problem(s) set out in the book were really unique. I know, when does Asimov ever disappoint, but still, this was really excellent.

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