December saw me trying to cram in all the books I've been meaning to read this year. It turned out to be a very good month with hardly any disappointments. And I also managed to read 125 books during the course of the year. This includes so novellas and graphic novels, but not every little thing I read. Still I'm quite happy with that number, but very unsure if I'll even come close to it in 2012. 2012 is setting up to be a very busy year for me personally since I'm trying to sell my house and move along with a lot of travel. Travel does generally mean catching up on reading though, but we'll see. Anyway here is what I read in December.
114. Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon - This is a story that plays with connections, expectations, and can severely screw with your head. It is undoubtedly beautifully told, but the ending left me wanting. But maybe that is just what Chaon wanted? Recommended.
115. Never Knew Another by J.M. McDermott - Perspective is key in McDermott's opener to the medieval set Dogsland Trilogy. We view the story from someone with the ability to absorb someone's memories for them to see and experience most of what that person did. The absorber is a Demon Hunter out to destroy those with demon blood. It is very introspective and looks at what it means to be an outsider from many different POVs. McDermott is pushing the boundaries of Fantasy and they are a vision to behold. Never Knew Another is currently free if you've an e-reader and if you are the type looking for something new and unusual in your Fantasy McDermott delivers. Recommended and I'll certainly be reading the sequel When We Were Executioners at some point (out this February).
117. Giant Thief by David Tallerman - A debut that is all about pushing the story forward as a low-life thief takes-off with a giant. This isn't one of those thief with a heart of gold stories. If Easie, the thief, had a heart of gold he would have dug it out and sold it years ago. Recommended for classic Fantasy fans. Be sure to check out my interview with Tallerman.
118. Alien Contact edited by Marty Halpern - Ranging from first contact and last contact to vacationers visiting an alien's home world and being, typically, obnoxious guests Alien Contact compiles one of the most diverse collections of modern stories concerning the "other." Highly recommended. I would have liked to seen some more classic examples, but there have been many anthologies now decades old that have already done so.
119. The Bride Wore Black by Simon R. Green - After finishing Alien Contact I had a case of reader indecision, which was quickly cured when the final Nightside book showed up at my door. Despite the repetitiveness being at an all time high for the series, this was a nice farewell to the denizens of the Nightside and John Taylor. But when are we going to get a Razor Eddie novel?
120. Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges - A classic collection of Borges best known work, including my personal favorite "The Library of Babel." which has become an iconic work. Nearly every story is a gem showcasing Borges scalpel-assured skills of style, wit, and philosophy. This is a collection I've re-read many times over the years and will do so for many more. Simply a classic that belongs on everyone's shelves.
121. Abhorsen by Garth Nix - Nix's Abhorsen trilogy is something I've been slowly savoring and considering I read the first Sabriel, last Christmas I thought it appropriate to read the last this Christmas. The world is so well developed, but Nix has an unbelievable knack for developing reader ties with characters you never want to let them go. Highly recommended.
122. The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht - Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and touching novels I've read this year. Obreht has a bright, bright future ahead of her. We travel with a young female doctor in the Balkans coping with the loss of her grandfather. The story switches between the grandfather's past and his granddaughter's search for closure. I'm not sure Magical Realism would be appropriate for the story as those aspects are hardly the point, but the story of the deathless man and tiger's wife definitely give you reason to push forward if the emotional story wasn't enough for you. Highly recommended.
123. The Magician King by Lev Grossman - The sequel to one of my favorite books of 2009 is now one of my favorite books of 2011. This time around the Grossman successfully attempts to subvert the quest story (especially Voyage of the Dawn Treader) and does so with verve, aplomb, and a lot of geekdom jokes showcasing just how much the author loves genre. Highly recommended, very much a worthy sequel.
124.* Hounded by Kevin Hearne - Looking over my reading log I couldn't find this on the list despite knowing I read it so I add it here for completion sake. I certainly liked it well enough to do a interview with the starring character Atticus earlier this year.
125. Empire State by Adam Christopher - A very interesting yet somewhat uneven debut. I liked the Noir aspects melding with other genres (Superheros, Sci-Fi, Pocket Universes), and divergent characters created but felt the beginning set things off to a rocky start. Fuller review likely to come.
Given that my year end awards The Hatties have already been announced it is probably not hard to tell which my favorites of December were, but in case it isn't clear The Magician King, The Tiger's Wife, and Never Knew Another. And if you haven't read Borges yet please go sit in the corner until you've done so. It has been quite a year for reading filled with many long awaited books and so many quality debuts I couldn't even get to them all. And 2012 is off to a good start, but more on that later.
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INTERVIEW | Lev Grossman author of The Magicians
INTERVIEW | David Tallerman author of Giant Thief
REVIEW | Is There Anybody Out There? Edited by Nick Givers and Marty Halpern
The 2011 Hattie Awards!!! Or the Best Books of 2011 (That I've Read)