Random (but not really)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Year in Reading: Comics, Mystery, and History

I was going to make a single post about some of my favorite books I read this year, but realized I read so much I’d be better served breaking this up into multiple posts. I’m going to have one post for supernatural fantasy, one post for general fantasy, and this post is for everything else. These books are ones I rated an 8 or higher when I read/reviewed them.


Several of these I mentioned in my post on books from 2011, so I’ll just list them here.

Edie Ernst – USO Singer: Allied Spy (9 Chickweed Lane) Brooke McElowney

Fables Vol 15: Rose Red (Fables) Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Inaki Miranda, Andrew Pepoy, Dan Green

Girl Genius Vol 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse(Girl Genius) Phil & Kaja Foglio

Madame Xanadu Vol 4: Extra-Sensory(Madame Xanadu) Matt Wagner, Marley Zarcone, Laurenn McCubbin, Chrissie Zullo, Celia Calle, Marian Churchland

The Rabbi’s Cat (2005) by Joann Sfar Review

    When a Rabbi’s cat eat his parrot, the cat gains the power of speech, and then goes on to question everything and everyone. This is a philosophical work, but it’s also hilarious. Take the following exchange between the cat and the Rabbi:

And then he tells me that the Greeks believed the dog to be the epitome of the philosophical animal. The dog, not the cat.

I reply that the Greeks destroyed the Temple of Jerusalem and if a rabbi ends up calling on them for help, it means he’s run out of arguments.

If you find that passage at all amusing, I recommend you check out The Rabbi’s Cat. It is an absolutely wonderful book.


Folk Tales from the Russian (1903) collected by Verra Xenophontovna Kalamatiano de Blumenthal

I love folktales, but didn’t have particularly high expectations for this freebie collection for the Kindle. I was very pleasantly surprised.

In addition to the stories, there are notes on the terms, that (since this is an ebook) are accessible with a click. So I quite enjoyed learning about ‘boyars’ and ‘moujiks’.

Is this for everyone? Probably not, but if you love folktales the way I do, it’s hard to turn down a good collection that is also FREE!

Under Her Skin (2009) Ilona Andrews, Jeaniene Frost, Meljean Brook

    This is an anthology of three paranormal romance short stories about shapeshifters. Neither Ilona Andrews nor Jeaniene Frost’s stories are set in their existing world with existing characters. As I expect with the authors, the stories feature strong female characters who work to save themselves. It was only $3 for the collection; a buck a story doesn’t seem too much to support some favorite authors.


David McCullough

The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge (1972) Review

I tend to read non-fiction before bed, because I can’t go to sleep without reading, but fiction tends to draw me into the story too deeply. I find history work well, not because it’s boring (it isn’t) but because I generally know what’s going to happen, so it doesn’t keep me awake.

This was an absolutely fascinating book. Bridges are interesting, but I had never previously considered the engineering required to make one–especially when one is overcoming unique difficulties. But this book also talks of the social and political intrigues of the time in addition to the engineering feats, as all these things were integral to the construction of the bridge.

Plus, I learned the “the bends” was first called “Cassion disease” and discovered during bridge building. I love learning tidbits like that.


I’m relatively new to reading romance, as I’ve never been fond of kissing books. But I discovered that there are some fabulous stories out there that happen to have HEAs as part of the tale. As long as I know going in I’m going to be reading a kissing book, I discovered I’m OK with it.

Lucia St. Clair Robson

The Tokaido Road (1991) Review

I came across this book on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and loved the cover so much I decided to see if the book was something I’d like reading.

OMG yes.

Kat’s father was forced to kill himself as a result of political intrigue, so to support her mother, and to give herself time to plan her vengeance against Kira, the man who caused her father’s downfall, Kat goes to work in a pleasure house.

First and foremost, although this is a romance, Kat continually rescues herself. Secondly, the research and historical facts are amazing. I loved reading all the little details about what life was like, and the little quirks that you might not think of from a modern vantage (no shocks in palanquins).

This is a fabulous story that I highly recommend.

Sharon Shinn

Quatrain (2009) Review

Quatrain is four separate romance novellas set in four of Sharon Shinn’s fantasy worlds. If you have not read anything by Sharon Shinn before, this book would be a good introduction to her writing, and the variety of worlds and characters she creates.

Although these are romances, for me, the romance takes a back seat to the incredible world building, story telling, and characters.


Robert Crais

The First Rule (2010) (Elvis Cole) Review

I started reading Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole mysteries last summer when I broke my ankle, and quickly read through the series. The First Rule came out this year in paperback, so I snatched it up once it was available.

Although Elvis makes an appearance, this is a Joe Pike story, which means the feel of the story is very different, since Pike is such a dark and conflicted character. Interestingly, although we learn more about Joe’s past in this story, he remains an enigma, and although he tries to do good, one never gets the feeling his a good guy.

Ian Rankin

Let it Bleed (1996) Review
Black and Blue (1997) Review
The Hanging Garden (1998) Review
The Falls (2000) Review
Resurrection Men (2002) Review
The Naming of the Dead (2006) Review

I read a lot of Ian Rankin this year.

John Rebus is a Detective Inspector in the Edinburgh police force, and although he is a very good cop, he is not necessarily a very good person. And he is really bad about getting along with his superiors and doing what is political instead of doing what is right. Also, you’d totally never want him to date one of your friends. Rebus smokes. He’s an alcoholic. He’s a lousy father. He walks a very fine line sometimes when it comes to what is legal. But he always does what he believes is right.

I have one Inspector Rebus mystery left to read, and I keep putting it off, because once I read it, the series is over. Done. No more Rebus. And I don’t WANT that. So the book sits on my shelf, waiting.

The Year in Reading: Fantasy
The Year in Reading: Supernatural Fantasy
The Year in Reading: Comics, Mystery, and History
The Year in Reading: Books Published in 2011

Powered by WordPress

This is text at the bottom of the page.

Discover more from Random (but not really)

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading