Books read, December 2012

I’ve been scarce around here, I know; that will likely continue through January, owing to promotion for A Natural History of Dragons + crunch time on the sequel. (Alternatively, working on those things will drive me stir-crazy, and I’ll start posting here every two hours. We’ll see.)

The Tempering of Men, Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette. RARRRRRR GERMANIC FANTASY. Which is exactly why I picked it up; I needed a dose of RARRRRRR GERMANIC FANTASY to get me in the right headspace for a project I was working on. This is the second of the Iskryne series, and it is extremely middle book-y, spending part of its time on aftermath of the first book and then the rest on setup for the third book. But it was interesting to see more of the world, and to get outside perspectives on Isolfr and what he did in the first book.

How We’d Talk If the English Had Won in 1066, D. Cowley. Not the sort of thing one reads cover to cover, and in fact I did not. But I read through enough of it to count it, if only because I wanted to talk about this here. It’s a primer on writing in Anglish, i.e. English with only Germanic-derived words (you may notice a connection between this and the book above). Cowley has some good ideas . . . but unfortunately, he also has a tin ear. Not only does he slap “-ly” and “-ness” onto adjectives willy-nilly in his quest to make them adverbs and nouns, he fails to notice when that isn’t even necessary. We have the word “careful;” do we need “carefulness” for a noun? No, we do not, because we already have the word “care.” And while those are not quite the same thing, Cowley seems to be unaware of the existence of “care” at all, slapping in “carefulness” where the other would be better. Gahhhhhhhh.

So, um. If you are trying to write a story in Anglish, this may be of use to you, but you may also wish to look for something better.

The Jews of Poland in Tale and Legend. Another “local folklore” book picked up in Poland, written by the same guy as the last one. As with the other, it’s interesting but not amazing.

The Dot and the Line, Norman Juster. The author, of course, is better known for The Phantom Tollboth; this one might be called “Juster Writes Flatland.” It isn’t quite the same thing as that book, of course, but it’s a very similar kind of thing. It is the story of a straight line hopelessly in love with a dot, and what he does to try and win her attention.

The Daughter of Time, Josephine Tey. I don’t remember why this ended up on my wishlist, but. Um. You know how I was sick over Christmas? I stayed up late to finish this book. Even though it amounts to the story of a detective laid up in a hospital thinking about a mystery hundreds of years old. Tey’s analysis of Richard III and the Princes in the Tower may be suspect — among other things, the starting point of “this portrait of Richard doesn’t look like a villain; ergo I don’t think he’s guilty” is extremely dubious — but her characterization and dialogue is just fabulous.

Moonshifted, Cassie Alexander. Second of the Edie Spence books. I continue to love the way these are deeply embedded in Actual Nurse Work, rather than vaguely handwaving or ignoring the heroine’s job the way so much recent urban fantasy does. I also continue to be stressed by how Edie’s life careens from one near-disaster to another, but that’s the genre for you.

And finally, a metric ton of Yuletide fic. I’ll have a recs post for that eventually, but it’s taking a while. Suffice it to say that there is a lot of really good material in the collection.

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0 Responses to “Books read, December 2012”

  1. kitrinlu

    Ooh, thanks for that last one! My sister’s studying to be a nurse, and the series sounds right up her alley 🙂

    • Marie Brennan

      Cassie (who, full disclosure, is a friend of mine) is a professional nurse herself, so all those details are very much drawn from life. 🙂

  2. ashnistrike

    I don’t remember why this ended up on my wishlist, but. Um.

    Possibly because Jo Walton recommended it as pre-reading for Ford’s The Dragon Waiting? That’s how I ended up reading it–good stuff.

  3. Anonymous

    Yay! I had way too much fun writing it. 🙂

  4. Anonymous


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