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2010 Book Review

February 1, 2011

2010 Book Review (at last)

24. Harvard’s Secret Court by William Wright

  A non-fiction account of a 1920’s hunt for homosexuals at Harvard.  Wright does an amazing job of personalizing the plight of the young men who were caught up by the Secret Court, as well as putting the culture and norms of the time into terms that are easy for the reader to understand.  Wright clearly did a lot of research looking to discover everything possible about the Secret Court, and even went so far as to interview the families of some of the young men who had been ostracized by the school officials who carried it out.  Wright also explores some of the possible motivations for homophobia in society, presenting his analysis in a thoughtful and non-judgmental manner.

25 and 26.  Changeless and Blameless by Gail Carriger

  I pick these two up as part of my honeymoon reading and started in on Changeless a couple of days before the wedding.  I should know better than to do things like that with books I like.  I wound up polishing them both off much too quickly.  One of the reasons I would like an electronic reader: The ability to pack more than two books.

  Much like Soulless, I adored both of these books for their wit, subtle commentary on Victorian social norms, and naturally, the supernatural elements.  I do find the exploration of the Soulless to be very interesting, as well as the “science” of the supernaturals.  And of course, I love any book with phrases such as “There are knees positively everywhere!”

27. The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory

  The Queen’s Fool is told from the point of view of the fictional character of Hannah, a Jewish girl who is posing as Christian in Mary Tudor’s England.  I liked the extra element of danger in this one, where Hannah is threatened no matter which Queen wins out in the plotting, being neither Catholic nor Protestant.  I found Hannah’s gift of foresight a little off putting, though.  None of Gregory’s other novels have a supernatural element, and while I can accept the addition of a fictional character into a historical novel, I’m not willing to accept that fictional character having the true gift of foretelling.  I also found Gregory’s portrayal of the Queens somewhat off-putting.  Elizabeth often came across as grasping, greedy, and deliberately malicious.  Mary often came across as weak willed, desperate, and something of a pious twit.  The history was good, and mostly accurate.  But after The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance, The Queen’s Fool is quite disappointing.

A10-20. The Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan

  Part of the reason that the physical books side of this list is a lot shorter than I anticipated upon starting this project is that I listened to the Wheel of Time audio books at every chance.  So where I would normally read books while walking to work, on my lunch break, or before bed, I instead listened to these books.  And now, after three months of nothing but Wheel of Time, they’ve kind of blurred together.  I do recall, however, that right around the end of September, whichever book I was listening to was up to EIGHT Instances of Naked, where a woman was stripped naked for torture, humiliation, punishment, or tillilation.  After that, I just stopped counting in the other books.  Listening to all of them in a row like that was very useful in that I didn’t have any difficulties following the various story lines as they jumped from character to character.  I am also probably going to piss off a lot of Robert Jordan fans with this admission, but I have to say it: I rather prefer Brandon Sanderson’s take on the world.  Gathering Storm was so much better than all of the other books.  I think that part of it is that Sanderson has his end goal and is trying to pack a hell of a lot of story into just three more books.  Jordan seemed to be intending to write forever.  Sanderson’s portrayal of women is a lot better, making me suddenly understand why everyone loves Egwene, why people respect Nynaeve despite her faults, and why people are willing to support Elaine as queen.

  Brandon Sanderson is going to be at ConDFW, by the way.  I am very tempted to go simply so I can thank him for reducing the Instances of Naked in the Wheel of Time series.

So!  That’s 2010!  I’m going to try to be better about posting 2011, though I’m not off to the greatest of starts.

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