2012 in Books

JANUARY

Charitable Getting, Sam Starbuck
My first book of 2012!

“Charitable Getting” is the first non-fanfic fiction I’ve read from Sam, and I really enjoyed it! Sam has a gift for writing complex, likeable characters.

I suspect anyone with passing familiarity with Sam’s blog will have no difficulty sussing out the big reveal from the first mention of the mystery, but I nevertheless enjoyed the chase. I look forward to reading more from him.
— Contemporary Fiction. E-book on Kindle.

Agent to the Stars, John Scalzi
Purely entertaining! This is much lighter than Scalzi’s later, more mature fare, and solutions to big problems tend to fall into the protagonist’s lap, but I found the book irresistible nonetheless.
— Contemporary Sci-Fi. Audiobook.

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
This book was pure fun. Certain elements required a massive suspension of disbelief, and the supporting characters were a little flat, but I didn’t mind. It’s a lighthearted love letter to 80s pop culture, sci-fi/fantasy nerdery, and video games, and it features a massive robot fight–it’s not aspiring to be high literature.

I probably would have gotten greater enjoyment out of the book if I’d been a teen or a twentysomething during the 80s (I was born in 1984), but I could appreciate the references for what they were, and the references I did get were a delight!

One thing that bugged me about the book, however, was that the book took place in 2044, but there were almost no references (I assume) to pop culture produced after present day. It’s as if everyone stopped creating any new movies, TV, or books that were worthy of being remembered after Firefly and the Lord of the Rings movies. There’s some uninspired reality TV and propaganda and yes, a handful of computer games and educational software produced decades before the story begins, but virtually all creative storytelling effort seems to have been subsumed by endless rehashing of what has come before. In The Oasis, the population of Earth is living out eternal fanfic. Why not make passing reference to some sitcom produced in 2031, or a sci-fi trilogy masterpiece from 2028?

Meh. I still quite enjoyed the book, even more so with Wil Wheaton’s pitch-perfect audiobook performance.
–Cyberpunk YA Nostalgiagasm. Audiobook. Disclaimer: The author gave me a free ARC at Comic Con, though I ended up buying it again in audio format. The author is a super cool dude.

The Mists of Avalon #1: Mistress of Magic, Marion Zimmer Bradley
I’ve been hungry for some Bechdel-tastic media lately, and this was exactly what I needed. Marion Zimmer Bradley took an overwhelmingly male-dominant story and breathed life, personality, and agency into the female characters, giving them just as much influence over the course of history as the great heroes of Arthurian legend.

I know most fantasy readers discover this book much earlier than I did (I’m 27). Indeed, my high school librarian recommended it to me, but I read Bradley’s “The Firebrand” instead. I’m glad finally to have read it!

Davina Porter’s performance of the text was utterly spellbinding.
–Historical/Folklore-Flavored Fantasy. Audiobook.

FEBRUARY

Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed
I’m so honored to be a part of this series. The characters are an absolute delight, and the world Saladin constructed is entrancing, fresh, and grounded. Plus, all the descriptions of food make me HUNGRY. If you’re jonesing for some awesome non-European-inspired fantasy, look no further!
— Arabian-flavored Swords-and-Horses-and-Magic Fantasy. Audiobook. Disclaimer: I MADE ANOTHER MAP YOU GUYS. The hardcover edition was given to me for free, but I bought the audiobook, because that’s how I roll.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Mindy Kaling
Charming and delightful, but it suffers by not being as spectacular as “Bossypants.”
— Humorous Memoir. Audiobook.

MARCH

Shadow Ops: Control Point, Myke Cole
I met Myke Cole at NYCC 2011 and was somehow swept out to lunch with him and a bunch of friends. He has a magnetic personality, and I promptly vowed to read the heck out of his book. I did. It was awesome. Later, in a fit of the vapors, he asked me to illustrate a map for his second book, Fortress Frontier. I agreed before he could come to his senses. I’m so thrilled to be a part of this series! Myke is Good People, and Control Point is a riveting debut. Expect great things, people.
— Military Fantasy. ARC. Disclaimer: MAP #3 IN THE SEQUEL WHAT. The arc was given to me for free, but I bought the audiobook.

Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
I can’t believe it took me so long to read this book. My boyfriend at the time gave it to me for my 20th birthday, and it took me seven-plus years to get around to it. My “To Read” list is kind of a monster. :D

Anyway, he was right. I adored it. The opening sequence was a gloriously kinetic festival of cyberpunk invention, and the world continued exploding outward and upward from there. The conflation of religion, viruses, and drugs was a fascinating thought exercise, and I loved the radical technological reinterpretation of Sumerian mythology and the Tower of Babel. I now find myself itching to devour more of Stephenson’s works. Highly recommended!
— Cyberpunk. Audiobook.

APRIL

Womanthology: Heroic, every female in comicdom
I love what this anthology represents, and I’m delighted to have supported the Kickstarter! It’s a thrill to see so many talented, creative women getting visibility in such a male-dominated medium. However, I didn’t get much enjoyment out of reading it. The quality of work varied wildly, and the stories were too brief to really resonate. I got halfway through, then didn’t feel compelled to read more.
— Comic Book hodgepodge. Hardcover.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz
A fascinating blend of nerdishness, Dominican culture/history/folklore, and pure heart.
— Magical Realism. Audiobook.

MAY

Angelmaker, Nick Harkaway
After I fell head over heels for Harkaway’s spectacular “The Gone-Away World,” “Angelmaker” became my most anticipated book of 2012. My patience was well rewarded! With scintillating wit and seemingly effortless style, Harkaway delivered another absurd and glorious adventure, introducing vibrant, complex characters and a frenetic, magnificently layered world for them to inhabit.

Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookseller and get yourself a copy. Or buy the audiobook, as I did! (Okay, I bought it in both print and audio, because I knew I’d want a lending copy. Don’t judge me.) Daniel Weyman, the audiobook reader, gives one of the most animated, engaging performances I’ve experienced, so if audio is your preference, you’re in great hands!

And now I want to reread “The Gone-Away World.”
— Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Mystery/Humor with an Octogenarian Superspy. Audiobook.

Blackout, Mira Grant
An explosive, riveting end to a spectacular, heart-pounding trilogy! I love everything about this series, from its meticulously researched science to its compelling characters to its nuanced exploration of journalistic responsibility to its… y’know. Shooting zombies in the face and running like hell. McGuire’s storytelling challenges the mind and wrenches the heart–it’s a joy to read!

The mad science is quite a bit madder here than in the first two books, which pulled me a little out of the story at times, but I dove back in with gusto. There’s enough scientific grounding and logic underpinning the more fantastic moments that I always felt I was in good hands. I couldn’t put the book down!

Thanks, Seanan, for letting us join your intrepid team of bloggers on the ride of their lives!
— Zombie Apocalyptic Horror. Paperback. Disclaimer: I kinda beta for Seanan. I didn’t beta this, even though I think she credits me in it. Silly grad school, preventing me from betaing for anyone!

Midnight Blue Light Special, Seanan McGuire
This series is a freaking joy.
— Urban Fantasy Cryptozoology with some kissing and lots of intelligent hyper-religious mice.  Beta draft. Disclaimer: Beta!


JUNE

The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson
I’m having a very difficult time deciding whether to give this book four stars or five. Neal Stephenson writes insightful, complex, gripping stories with extraordinary imagination, particularly in their approach to technology and culture, and if I were only judging this book based on the first 90%, I’d be wondering how to trick Goodreads into letting me give this book six stars. However, the ending was a total mess. Maybe that was the portion Miranda didn’t read to me. :D

I listened to this book on audio, and Jennifer Witsie’s performance was a delight!
— Sci-Fi. Audiobook.

Redshirts, John Scalzi
I laughed so hard I startled the dog. It’s kinda meta and self-indulgent (okay, EXTREMELY meta), but it’s so enjoyably and cleverly executed that I didn’t care. The meta-ness is part of its charm! Also, the glorious fusion of Scalzi’s words and Wil Wheaton’s audiobook performance is proof god loves us and wants us to be happy.
— Sci-Fi/Humor. Audiobook.

Blackbirds, Chuck Wendig
With her foul-mouthed, chain-smoking, lurid, deliberately off-putting demeanor, Miriam Black is one of the most unique protagonists in urban fantasy. BLACKBIRDS’ level of obscenity and barbarism go far beyond what many readers expect when they hear the word “gritty,” and I suspect readers will either love this book or hate it. I fell into the former category!

Wendig delivers an original take on a familiar concept: the ability to see the circumstances of others’ deaths, and I recommend it to anyone with a sufficiently strong stomach. Also, the cover is staggeringly beautiful. Props to Joey Hi-Fi!

Looking forward to Mockingbird!
— Urban Fantasy/Horror. Paperback.

SHORT STORIES:

8, Dustin Lance Black
This all-star production dramatized the actual court transcripts from the trial to overturn Prop 8 in California. While the structure was occasionally disorienting, I found the actual contents of the play to be fascinating. I wish it had been longer–the play itself only comprises the first hour or so of the recording. The other half are interview with the cast, production team, and the lawyers for the prosecution.
— Political Non-Fiction. GLBTQQ Interest. Audiobook.

Don’t Read This Book, ed. Chuck Wendig
This anthology was AWESOME. Each author’s voyage into the nightmarish derangement of the Mad City was extraordinarily imaginative. I had high hopes for this anthology, because I hold so many of the contributors in high regard, and it wildly exceeded my expectations!

My favorite stories, in order of appearance:
“Don’t Lose Your Patients,” Stephen Blackmoore
“Don’t Toot Your Horn,” Laura Anne Gilman
“Don’t Bleach Your Memories,” Mur Lafferty (ooh, isn’t she nominated for the Campbell this year? I think I know who just became front-runner for my vote.)
“Don’t Chew Your Food,” Harry Connolly
— Urban Fantasy/Horror Short Story Anthology. E-Book. Disclaimer: I was given a free copy, because Fred Hicks is good people, but I bought it anyway, because Fred Hicks is good people.

Edie Investigates, Nick Harkaway
I need to reread this.  I don’t think I was in the right frame of mind the first time, as I had difficulty getting into the story.
— Mystery. Ebook.


Stingers and Strangers, Seanan McGuire
I need to reread this.  I don’t think I was in the right frame of mind the first time, as I had difficulty getting into the story.
— Cryptozoology FTW. Beta draft.



JULY

ALL SHORT STORIES, APPARENTLY: 

Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box, Mira Grant
Short, sweet, and full of impeccably researched atrocities of science! Exactly what I wanted from a Mira Grant story!
— Mad Science/Horror. Audiobook.

San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats, Mira Grant
“The Last Stand of the California Browncoats” is equal parts zombie apocalypse story and love letter to San Diego Comic Con, equal parts humorous and moving. I think the opening to “Feed” serves as a better hook for new readers, but fans of the Newsflesh trilogy will eat this novella up!

I like to think my tuckerized character’s dying words were “You can’t stop the signal.” :D
— Sci-Fi. Short Story. Ebook. Disclaimer: I have been Seanan’s roommate at SDCC. We were not eaten by zombies. Yet.

Movement: A Short Story, Nancy Fulda
I didn’t write a review at the time. I just gave it 4 starts out of 5.
— Sci-Fi. Ebook. Disclaimer: From Hugo voter packet.

The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees, E. Lily Yu
I was kind of meh about this story. 3 stars out of 5.
— Fantasy. Ebook. Disclaimer: From Hugo voter packet.

The Homecoming, Mike Resnick
3 stars of 5.
— Sci-Fi. Short Story. Ebook.

The Paper Menagerie, Ken Liu
My vote for the Best Short Story Hugo!
— Fantasy. Ebook. Disclaimer: From Hugo voter packet.

The Shadow War of the Night Dragons, Book One: The Dead City. Prologue, John Scalzi
Absolutely freaking hilarious, particular the opening sentence/paragraph, but it lost steam as the story went on.
— Humorous Fantasy. Ebook. Disclaimer: From Hugo voter packet.

AUGUST

Cold Days, Jim Butcher
Months later, I’m still reeling. Ye gods, this book packs a wallop!
— Urban Fantasy. Beta Text. Disclaimer: I’m a beta.

SEPTEMBER

Among Others, Jo Walton
While the treatment of magic and fairies was interesting, I wasn’t as captivated by this story as the rest of the world seems to be. Total Hugo bait. I suspect 80% of my enjoyment came from listening to the spectacular audiobook reader, whose accent was positively delicious.
— Fantast. Audiobook.

OCTOBER

Dodger, Terry Pratchett
To give a Pratchett book any fewer than four stars would be a hideous disservice, because it’s a Terry Pratchett book, but “Dodger” didn’t quite resonate with me the way Sir Terry’s books usually do. Perhaps it’s because I kept wanting the book to not be historical fiction. I kept waiting for Vimes and William de Worde and the Patrician to appear, not Robert Peel, Charles Dickens, and Queen Victoria. I enjoyed all the original characters tremendously, but whenever a historical figure showed up, it pulled me out of the story.
— Kinda Historical Fantasy? Audiobook.

All About Eve: A Screenplay, Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Awesome.
— Drama. Screenplay. Paperback.

SHORT STORIES & NOVELLAS:

Legion, Brandon Sanderson
The concept is a fascinating one, and the characters are well realized, but I wish the story were longer. The plot was interesting, but it didn’t seem worthy of the huge potential of Leeds’ character and the fantastical camera. Five stars nonetheless!
— Fantasy. Audiobook.

Click-Clack the Rattlebag, Neil Gaiman
Delightfully creepy! Neil’s reading of this spooky short story is not to be missed.
— Spooky Story. Audiobook.

NOVEMBER

Action! Acting for Film and Television, Robert Benedetti
Assigned for my “Fundamentals of Directing” class. Some of the chapters were brain-thuddingly obvious, but others were insightful.
— Nonfiction: Acting/Filmmaking. Paperback.

Chinatown: A Screenplay, Robert Towne
Awesome awesome.
— Noir. Screenplay. Paperback.

Voice & Vision: A Creative Approach to Narrative Film and DV Production, Mick Hurbis-Cherrier
Read for classes. Good stuff.
— Nonfiction: Filmmaking. Paperback.

Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Lois McMaster Bujold
A delight! Bujold is brilliant at creating chain reactions of chaos.
— Sci-Fi/Romance. Audiobook.

NOVELLAS:

The Emperor’s Soul, Brandon Sanderson
This is easily my favorite of Sanderson’s novellas. “The Alloy of Law” and “Legion” didn’t quite feel like they were the right “size” for the story and concepts therein, but “The Emperor’s Soul” was pure Goldlilocks. I loved the psychology and sense of history inherent in this book’s magic system. As with all Sanderson stuff, the worldbuilding is top-notch. The characters, too, are fabulous, as is the somewhat meta analysis of writing and constructing characters.

Sanderson has stated that this novella takes place in the same universe as Elantris, but don’t feel you have to read that first. There are no spoilers. Any connections between the two works are of the “blink and you’ll miss it” variety.

I listened to the audiobook, and Angela Lin’s performance was pitch-perfect for the character and tone.  Check it out!
— Fantasy. Audiobook.

DECEMBER

Cold Days, Jim Butcher
I had to get the audiobook and reread it! So glad to have Marsters back. His performance was a credit to Jim’s fantastic story. My only beef was Marsters’ blatantly manipulated voice for a certain new character. It took me out of the story. Fortunately, Jim quickly reeled me back in!
— Urban Fantasy. Audiobook.

SHORT STORIES:

A Christmas Card from the Middleman, Javier Grillo-Marxuach
I love this man.
— Sci-Fi/Humor. E-text.

Stats

Books I read in:
Hardcover – 1 (seriously?  I bought so many!)
Paperback – 4, plus 2 screenplays
Audiobook – 13, plus 2 novellas, 2 short stories, and 1 audio play
Ebook – 1 novel, 1 short story anthology, and 8 other short stories
Beta – 2 novels, 1 short story
Total – 21 books, 1 short story anthology, 2 screenplays, 2 novellas, 12 short stories, 1 audio play

Male/Female Author ratio: 28.5:12:5.  Yikes!
Nonfiction: 3 books, 1 audio play
Written By and/or Starring a person of color: 7 books, 2 short stories, 1 novella (mixed authorship and lead ethnicities in Womanthology and mixed lead ethnicities in Don’t Read This Book; each counted as a half)
Books written before my birth: 1 novel, 2 screenplays — Mistress of Avalon (1983), All About Eve (1950), Chinatown (1974)

Priscilla in Publishing:

  • My second fantasy map was published!  Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon, first in the Crescent Moon Trilogy, hit stores in February and won spots on a substantial number of Best SFF of 2012 lists.  
  • Also, my third fantasy map was illustrated and published!  Kevin Hearne’s Trapped came out in November.
  • I illustrated my fourth fantasy map for Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops 2: Fortress Frontier.  It’ll be published later this month.
  • I modeled for Lee Moyer and Pat Rothfuss’ fantasy literature pin-up calendar!  I portrayed Jim Butcher’s character Molly Carpenter for “April.”  Pin-up shoots make a fantastic fitness goal!
2012 in Review:  Wow, I sucked.  My reading resolution was to read more nonfiction and non-fantasy fiction, more stuff written before my birth, and more stuff by POC authors.  Not a very impressive result.  Also, due to grad school, I got WAY behind in betaing.  Obviously, grad school is a much higher priority, so I stand by that decision, but I wish there was enough time in the world to do it all!

My Reading Goal for 2013:  More screenplays, more nonfiction, and more stuff written by women and POC authors.  Let’s see if I can’t bump up my page count this year, too.  I’ll read all the short stories nominated for the Hugos and endeavor to read all the novellas and novels.

Books I started in 2012 but haven’t finished yet:

  • The Kingdom of Gods, N.K Jemisin
  • Ashes of Honor, Seanan McGuire
  • Dinocalypse, Chuck Wendig
  • The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron
  • Fated, Benedict Jacka
  • On Filmmaking, Alexander McKendrick

Books I most intended to read in 2012 that I didn’t:

  • Glamour in Glass, Mary Robinette Kowal
  • The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun, N.K. Jemisin
  • Shotgun Gravy and Bait Dog, Chuck Wendig
  • The Long Earth, Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
Books I’m looking forward to in 2013:
  • 01/29: Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier, Myke Cole (featuring my map!)
  • 01/31: Six-Gun Snow White, Catherynne M. Valente
  • 04/02: Without a Summer, Mary Robinette Kowal
  • 04/19: The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, anthology ed. John Joseph Adams
  • 05/07: Gods and Monsters: Unclean Spirits, Chuck Wendig
  • 05/14: The Rithmatist, Brandon Sanderson
  • 06/18: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman
  • 07/23: The Long War, Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
  • 09/06: The Chimes at Midnight, Seanan McGuire
  • 09/24: Steelheart, Brandon Sanderson
  • Cinder Spires #1: The Aeronaut’s Windlass (working title), Jim Butcher
  • Skin Game, Jim Butcher (50/50 chance of being released in 2013)
  • Half-Off Ragnarok, Seanan McGuire
  • Stormlight Archive #2, Brandon Sanderson (estimated late 2013)
And whenever they come out:
  • Stormlight #2: Highprince of War, Brandon Sanderson
  • Locke Lamora #3: The Republic of Thieves, Scott Lynch
  • Kingkiller Chronicle #3: The Doors of Stone, Pat Rothfuss
  • Shades of Grey sequel, Jasper Fforde
  • Raising Taxes/Scouting For Trolls/the Next Discworld Novel, Terry Pratchett
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