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January 2009

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November-December Books


The Wrecking Crew by Thomas Frank. I did a very thorough review here, so I’ll let you read it there. Definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year.


The Nanny Diaries: A Novel, by Emma Mclaughlin, Nicola Kraus. Bought at a thrift shop in Albuquerque for 50 cents and read it in an evening.


Duma Key: A Novel, by Stephen King. Haunting. Brilliant, as usual. I listened to the unabridged audiobook and it took me more than a week to finish, simply because I was enjoying it so much, I would set it aside and think about the book every so often, then go back to it.

#63:Tangled Reins (Historical Series No. 3), by Stephanie Laurens, a Regency romance. This wasn’t my favorite Laurens novel. She’s usually much more witty– this one had a great deal of describing how the heroine spoke, without actually putting the witty words into her mouth.


Maiden head by Bianca D’Arc was a freebie Kindle download from Samhain publishing. It was…. um… odd? OK, imagine if the Pern dragonriders were a bit more pervy, and there were no female dragonriders, and none of the riders were gay. And basically, insert a shortage of women who can speak to dragons. And only women who can talk to dragons can marry a dragon rider (a knight). And now, the kicker: When a dragon’s knight marries, the rider of the dragon’s mate marries her, too…. so it’s like, the ultimate dragon-psychic kinktastic threesome.

Oh, and then add in very few euphamisms for the sex, and a startlingly fast acceptance on the part of the formerly virginal heroine. I think at one point, when confronted with “and here’s Lars, he’ll be your partner, too, because his dragon and my dragon are in lurve” she says “Um, this is all a little weird and I need time to think, I mean, yesterday morning I was a virgin, you know.” By sunset, they’re having a threesome.

It’s like you can’t decide if he’s a manipulative ass or really, really in love. Anyway, this is almost PWP (porn without plot), except there’s almost an entertaining plot to go along with it. And the sex scenes, though a little more “modern” than I would expect in a fantasy novel, are at least hot hot hot.


Talking With The Dead, by Shiloh Walker is another Samhain publication. It’s a supernatural mystery– the hero hears the voices of ghosts and uses that information to solve murders. The heroine is a small-town cop with a series of murders to investigate (it’s like a hole looking for a… oh, never mind). They solve crimes and have sex with hilarious results. OK, that last bit’s my own invention. What’s cool about this novel is that it doesn’t suck. Unlike Maidenflight, which has really uneven characters, Talking with the Dead is remarkably consistent in character, plot, and pace. And the sex scenes don’t disappoint.

#66:Fair Juno (Historical), by Stephanie Laurens. Another Regency from Laurens. I’ve figured out what’s wrong with this one and Tangled Reins. I’m reading them in an omnibus edition, and both novels have had about 50 pages cut, which explains why they both seem to have a great deal of storyline missing. So, if you’re thinking of reading either of these, I encourage you to read them in original single editions.


Faithless, by Karin Slaughter. Not one of my favorite books this year. It lacked something. Every female character was the “walking wounded,” a person of intense emotional baggage and pain and extremely vulnerable, particularly to the men around her (men who fit Gavin de Becker’s profile of stalker/bad guys– even the good guys do!) I know this is the latest in a long series featuring the same characters, which is probably why the damage and pathos of the various characters didn’t really ring true for me. Instead, I get the impression that living in this small town in Georgia is very hazardous to one’s health, and that is particularly true if you personally know the detective or the town’s coroner.
#69:The Gift of Fear, by Gavin De Becker. Probably one of the most important books I’ve read this year. This book is a must-read for every woman in America. It talks about the use of real, genuine fear in protecting ourselves from violence and abuse, and how to identify and act on early warning signals that a person is going to become violent. It also talks at some length about how to prevent children from turning into violent people (tip: Be a loving parent. That’s all it takes. Love and attention. Amazing, no?) And repeatedly, there is the theme that the media is severely letting down the public by turning news reports into advertisements for violence-as-attention-getting, and by continuing to claim that “no one could have predicted this shocking tragedy” when, in reality, most of the time the tragedy was foreshadowed by violent behavior, expressions of violent or suicidal thoughts, and a fascination with weapons and other tools of violence. Really an amazing book and well worth the read. De Becker also talks about how to identify in the first meeting when you’re encountering someone who is a “bad guy” (and he’s not terribly apologetic about the male pronouns, here– de Becker rightly points out that the vast majority of violence is perpetrated by men, and the vast majority of victims are women and children).

Buffy Wolves at the Gate. The 3rd trade paperback in Season Eight. Good, but the pacing seemed off and… there were two rather important (not going to spoil it) character events that didn’t jive with what I think of as the Buffyverse.

That’s it. For 2008, my total was 70 books read. I also read a number of partial books and Kindle samples, though I didn’t read nearly as many magazines this year as I should have (I have about 6 subscriptions to knitting and spinning magazines, the NYT daily review on and a couple of Kindle subscriptions for Analog and Asimov’s).

Last year, I read 101 books, the most I’ve read in a single year outside of college. At the end of last year I said: Next year, I will just stick to a nice goal of 50 books, and will try to add in some more broccoli.”

This year, my “broccoli” books included several political books, including The Audacity of Hope, The Wrecking Crew, and All the President’s Men. About 80% of my books were fiction. About 10% of them were work-related. This was also the year I started reading ebooks more seriously and with greater dedication.

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