This was an entertaining romance novel set in urban fantasy clothing: a love story between a witch and a vampire in a world where they're not supposed to mix. There's a detective story plot in the background which ultimately doesn't work because the story is resolved more as a gift from the gods than as a detective novel, but the book's excellent atmosphere, combined with the romance, keep it entertaining. My real complaint with the book: it's clearly a setup for a sequel, even though it doesn't say so.
A mildly interesting detective story set in a near-future right wing nightmareland where the US has collapsed and is effectively a satrapy of Japan, China has collapsed into anarchy, the "Global Caliphate" has overrun most of the world ... all of which is clearly laid out as being the result of the 2008 presidential election. The book is less a science fiction story and more a right wing rant; it's a sad descent from the author of Hyperion.
Adams Vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800:
An unusually sympathetic portrayal of John Adams which portrays him as, in essence, a moderate trapped by the extremists in his party and somewhat unsuited for the role of President as a result of his discomfort with the public and the dififculty he had asserting himself against the holdovers in Washington’s cabinet. It had the added bonus of being an exceptionally well written history book. :)
Very well crafted dark fantasy novel which did a fantastic job at unveiling a complicated backstory while advancing the plot in the present. It’s a setup for a sequel, as most first fantasy novels seem to be, but I’m not convinced the sequel will be worth it; so much of the charm and the character of the book depends on the reveal of the complicated backstory that I’m not sure how well the author would carry off a straightforward tail.
The Arabs: A History:
I haven’t actually finished this book (and haven’t popped it back onto my Kindle replacement because I’m terrified that I’ll have lost my place), but what I have read shows it to be a fascinating detailed overview of late Ottoman and modern Arab history as viewed by Arab liberals. It’s a book where remembering the bias of the authors is particularly important; but the part of the world it covers is one where westerners (myself included) are prone to simply accept the narrative of history as told by western historians, and listening to even biased voices explaining how they see their history is an essential step towards understanding how different views of the recent past influence today’s actors.
The book is fantastic for that.
This book is a report of new statistical sexual research which involved analyzing web searches. The conclusions the authors draw from the research can basically all be found in the product description on the Amazon page, which (unfortunately) means that if you read the product description you more or less don’t need to read the book.
The latest Anita Blake novel should satisfy almost nobody. The fans who haven’t liked anything since Blue Moon won’t like this any better; the fans who like the most recent novels will feel keenly the absence of most of the characters. My main problem with the book was that it resolved the great impending threat of the last several books in a way which was utterly unsatisfying. The anticlimax is so shattering that it retroactively anticlimaxes several books in one fell swoop.
The Broken Kingdoms, the sequel to 100K Kingdoms:
A very well executed sequel which I enjoyed immensely (but read long enough ago now, as I got it when it came out two months ago, that I’ve basically forgotten all about it and will need to reread it before the third book comes out next month).
A Brief History of the Spanish Language:
An OK history of the Spanish language. Nothing to write home about.
The Man Who Believed He Was King Of France: A True Medieval Tale:
A fascinating and amusing tale of an Italian merchant who claimed, and appeared to have believed, that he was the rightful King of France, having been switched with the false (but publically recognized) King at birth. The tale doesn’t end well, as you would expect, but it went on for a surprisingly long time. A very well done book. :)
Chocolate Fortunes: The Battle for the Hearts, Minds, and Wallets of China’s Consumers:
Chocolate was a western luxury with basically no market in China when the country started to open up in the 1980s, in part because the lack fo air conditioning and refrigeration meant that chocolate bars would melt into obliviion when in stores during the Chinese summer.
This book was a well done, fascinating exploration of the efforts of four firms - Ferrero, Hershey, Nestle, and Mars - to gain market dominance in the Chinese chocolate market. It explores one of Nestle’s biggest failures (driven, in part, by a bad source of milk which ruined the flavor), Hershey’s sudden success followed by self-inflicted catastrophe, and the overwhelming (and surprising) success of Mars. If you’re at all interested in corporate history, this is a fascinating book.
Salt: A World History: another very good history of a specific product. :)
Dust, Chill, and Grail:
Very well done trilogy about a generation ship. I liked the first book so much that I read the entire trilogy in the course of about two days. The ending was a minor letdown, but the trilogoy as a whole was still unusually good. :)
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