Category Archives: Books

Books by others; whatever I’m reading.

Cats are keen! So is Peter Watts!

Posted on February 7, 2011 by

Once upon a time, I absorbed the following jingle from a Garfield cartoon:

Cats are keen, cats are great, cats are clean, they like your plate.

It’s not exactly Shakespeare, I know, but it can serve as an earworm if you haven’t heard any Madonna lately.

This week’s essay at Favorite Thing Ever was inspired by the memory of my dead cat Buddha, and all the other felines I have known and loved dearly. But since Canada’s true champion number one Cat Fan is the brilliant hard SF author Peter Watts, it is about him too.

Girl Who Played with Fire

Posted on January 7, 2011 by

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson was my second 2011 book. It was also my second experiment with borrowing an e-book from the BC Public Library system.

I find it hard to keep track of the titles of the Millennium trilogy books, but The Girl Who Played with Fire is the second. The first is a sophisticated literary novel and also something of a classic whodunnit, in the sense that there’s a killer, a number of suspects and a reasonable chance that the reader will work out, from the clues, the identity of the guilty party.

The Girl Who Played with Fire leans to being a straightforward thriller. There’s international cloak and dagger stuff afoot and the reader really doesn’t get enough information to put it all together on their own, before the big reveal.

Instead, Larssen plays an intricate guessing game with our emotions. As Lisbeth Salander’s various friends are forced to question who she really is and what she might be capable of, our own belief in her is subtly undermined. It’s a rather marvelous bit of sleight-of-hand, I think. Through the middle of the book I was torn between my writerly certainty that the plot would play out a certain way (and I was right) and a powerful “ARRRGH! NO!” response.

It’s a good book, an interesting one. Salander is an awesome heroine.

In related news, I’ve cobbled together a page containing all my Books Read lists since 2002. It’s long, stupidly long, but it means you can search for authors if you’re interested. Or search for yourself and give me hell for missing your last book!

Books read in 2011

Posted on January 4, 2011 by

Don’t panic! 2011 is not over; another year hasn’t whipped by so fast you actually did miss it. This is just a bit of a start on my shiny new list, with a note about how last year segued into this one.

You see, in order to facilitate my first book of 2011 being Killing Rocks, by D D Barant, my final book of 2010 was, naturally enough, the book that preceded it in the series: Death Blows.

I enjoyed both books a great deal, and will have more to say about Killing Rocks soon. In the meantime, I thought it might be nice to have the full What Alyx Reads at your fingertips:


Everything I read in 2010.
2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, and 2002. This is, apparently, as far back as I go. (Since I started blogging on LJ shortly after our Greece trip in 2001, that makes perfect sense to me.)

I picked up this habit from Kristine Kathryn Rusch, by the way… her most recent list is here.

Books read in 2010

Posted on December 31, 2010 by

Here is is, the big annual list… enjoy!


2010 Books Read List

1. UNDERTOW, by Elizabeth Bear
2. THE BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE AND NATURE WRITING, edited by Elizabeth Kolbert and Tim Folger
3. THE CHAMELEON’S SHADOW, by Minette Walters
4. NEKROPOLIS, by Maureen McHugh
5. REMNANT POPULATION by Elizabeth Moon
6. GUNPOWDER: ALCHEMY, BOMBARDS AND PYROTECHNICS: THE HISTORY OF THE EXPLOSIVE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD, by Jack Kelly
7. GALLOWS THIEF, by Bernard Cornwell
8. CORDELIA’S HONOR, by Lois McMaster Bujold
9. THE GHOST MAP–THE STORY OF LONDON’S MOST TERRIFYING EPIDEMIC AND HOW IT CHANGED SCIENCE, CITIES, AND THE MODERN WORLD by Steven Johnson
10. TAKE ME, TAKE ME WITH YOU, by Lauren Kelly
11. THE WARRIOR’S APPRENTICE, Lois McMaster Bujold
12. WE TWO: VICTORIA AND ALBERT: RULERS, PARTNERS, RIVALS by Gillian Gill
13. NIGHTINGALES: THE EXTRAORDINARY UPBRINGING AND CURIOUS LIFE OF MISS FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE, by Gillian Gill.
14. THE BLOOD-DIMMED TIDE, by Rennie Airth
15. RIVER OF DARKNESS, by Rennie Airth
16. CEMETERY LAKE, by Paul Cleave
17. SEIZE THE FIRE: Heroism, Duty and Nelson’s Battle of Trafalgar, by Adam Nicolson
18. THE BRIDGE: A JOURNEY BETWEEN ORIENT AND OCCIDENT, by Geert Mak
19. MOZART’S BLOOD, by Louise Marley
20. FAITHFUL PLACE, by Tana French
21. MISTRESS OF THE ART OF DEATH, by Ariana Franklin
22. Quarrel with the King: The Story of an English Family on the High Road to Civil War, by Adam Nicholson
23. In Triumph’s Wake: Royal Mothers, Tragic Daughters, and the Price They Paid for Glory, by Julie P. Gelardi
24. A Star Shall Fall by Marie Brennan
25. The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett (Kelly read me this on the evening of October 15th.)
26. The Best American Crime Reporting 2010, edited by Stephen J. Dubler, Otto Penzler and Thomas H. Cook
27. All Clear, by Connie Willis
28. Bloody Crimes, by James L. Swanson
29. Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne, with original color illustrations by E.H. Shepard
30. Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War, by Karl Marlantes
31. The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York, by Deborah Blum
32. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach
33. So Cold the River, by Michael Koryta
34. Grandville, by Bryan Talbot
35. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larssen
36. The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession (Vintage), by David Grann
37. The Serpent’s Tale, by Ariana Franklin
38. The Troublemakers, by Gilbert Hernandez
39. Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth, by James M. Tabor
40. Death Blows: The Bloodhound Files, by D D Barant

Rereads:
In the Woods, by Tana French

The Shape of Snakes, by Minette Walters

Need A Good Stiff Bonk?

Posted on December 15, 2010 by

The push to get a few more books read before January is an odd sort of end-year resolution, and it prompts me to wonder if any of you has a similar deadline looming December 31st… something that isn’t work related, so much. Most of us decide to embark upon Personal Improvement during the holidays, and have forgotten all about it by April, am I right? Anyway, this is my quest. And I’ve failed, so far, to plump up my numbers by striking gold in the graphic novel dept: I did like Grandville, but I didn’t love it, and have set aside a bunch of the other prospects after 2-3 pages.

Before I read So Cold the River, I read Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Roach is a rockin’ fusion of science journalist and comedian, as evidenced by the following Very Not Safe for Work TED Talk on orgasms:

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers covers bases I expected–cadaver research in a variety of contexts. It examined the ethics surrounding how donated bodies are used, stuff about Body Worlds, and lots of material on forensics, including the examination of decomposition by leaving corpses lying around outside. (You may have encountered this in procedural novels like The Body Farm). It also had plenty of things I’d never thought of: using corpses to make crash-test dummies, the cannibalistic use of bodies in medicine, for example, and a discussion of how much mercury is released into the atmosphere during your average cremation.

Intriguing, frequently guffaw-worthy and occasionally gross beyond words, Stiff
is a great read. I am planning to absorb Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife
and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex in the near future.