November 2007: Book Reviews

This is an archive of my shorter book reviews and notes, which historically have been posted over at the 50 Book Challenge on LiveJournal, but which I’m starting to move over here. I’m posting them with altered date-stamps, but they might show up in my LiveJournal cross-post anyway. Bear with me, please.

Note: Many of these books also have full reviews available in the book review podcast (RSS).


I enjoyed Elantris so much, that I recently looked up Sanderson to see if he’d written anything else lately. I was pleasantly surprised and bought Mistborn when I was in Kansas City with family last month. I wouldn’t say Mistborn is as good as Elantris, but it’s a good, solid fantasy novel, with an interesting premise and a solid setting. Again, the mood is dark, but the characters stand out like bits of color.


This is the first book I’ve read by this South Dakota writer, and I rather liked it. It’s a type of cozy mystery, and the main character/sleuth is nicely unaffected in her personality (sometimes authors try to hard to give their sleuths a unique “voice” and end up with characters who aren’t sympathetic enough). I liked the book, and will probably mooch another by the same author.


I went to a bookstore on Monday in Austin, TX, with a colleague from a conference I attended this week. She’s also a fantasy novel reader, so we headed to that section first. Imagine my surprise and delight to find that Novik has another installment in the Temeraire series out! I enjoyed it very much, though I am not thrilled with the ending. Still, she’s done a terrific job of pulling me into the story and her world and carrying me along for the ride.


A self-help book by the Doctor from Star Trek: Voyager, for holograms trying to relate to the organic-based lifeforms around them, particularly in the areas of all the shortcomings one must overlook in one’s organic friends. This is a humorous book by a humorous man. I bought it at a sci fi con this summer, where Picardo was the guest of honor, and I very much enjoyed meeting him. The book itself might not seem to have much practical advice for non-holograms, but it does actually have a lot of the typical “go get ’em” self-help advice, plus quite a few tips for getting along with people you might not really like.


A series of personal essays on being a woman and growing older, by the woman who brought you most of the Meg Ryan successes. Ephron is a “woman of a certain age” who is in love with living in New York, and it shows. About half of the things she says about beauty and self image were, frankly, not terribly interesting to me, since I do none of these things, and can’t imagine living in a world where it’s important to care that much about my hair. On the other hand, she says many very poignant things, particularly about home and love and family, and each essay, no matter how humorous or lighthearted or rant-filled, ends with some poignant thought, usually expressed in a sentence of five words or less, like “The worry is forever.”

I enjoyed both of these books, in different ways. The Hologram’s Handbook was timely, as I’m writing a NaNoWriMo novel in which the protagonist is a robot, so it was timely to me to look through the eyes of a non-organic intelligent lifeform. I initially downloaded Ephron’s book because I wanted something feminine to listen to while knitting, and that’s exactly what I did while listening to it yesterday. Ephron’s is short, but it was worth the listen.