Read in 2008
List of the books I’ve read in 2009
- December 2008—Le génie des alpages 8: Dans les nuages from F’murr.
I go on with my discovery of the stories of the most delirious flock of sheep in the mountain pastures.
As usual, this is crazy and very funny. There’s even a gag for freediving hunters, with sheep in it!
- December 2008—Shaolin Moussaka 3 : À Mollywood !! from Chauvel, Pedrosa and Araldi.
Miss Moussaka’s adventures go on, this time the rocket lands in Mollywood, in the midst of a porn movie shooting.
This follow-up is a little disappointing, I find the graphics less pleasant and, although there are funny gags, this book doesn’t include memorable moments like the first two episodes did.
- December 2008—Le retour à la terre 5: Les révolutions (The return to earth book 5) from Jean-Yves Ferri and Manu Larcenet.
The next installment of Manu’s adventures in the country, with a family. This time local politics are involved.
After 5 books, it’s always very pleasant to go back to this series, which evolves without losing its personality, funny and touching. I’ll wait for the next book!
- December 2008—Terremer (A wizard of Earthsea) from Ursula Le Guin.
On Earthsea, an archipelago planet, the story of Ged’s life, born as a goats herder gifted with sorcery, who will become a great mage after many adventures.
This book includes 3 stories, the first two (Ged’s initiation and the Erreth-Akbe ring quest) are really good, I had more trouble with the third (the disappearance of magic), which is slower with less interesting characters.
- November 2008—La Hulotte #91.
The most popular magazine in burrows focuses on the griffon vulture.
It’s very interesting, it’s funny, you learn lots of things, and the illustrations are superb. As usual with La Hulotte.
- November 2008—Le cri de la baleine (Grayson) from Lynne Cox.
The tale of an open water swimming champion on a morning training session, where she meets a grey whale calf.
The book is a tad too didactic, with the introduction of all the marine species you can meet while swimming in California, but the tale is beautiful and quite magic.
- November 2008—Réalité partagée (Probability moon) from Nancy Kress.
A team of human scientists lands to study a planet inhabited by a species which shares a unique reality: individuals can’t diverge from the shared reality without physical pain. These scientists are only an alibi for the military, who is interested in something completely different about this planet.
Starting from a strange idea, the world is built in a very consistant way, and the relationship between humans and worlders evolves in a very interesting manner. This book made me want to go on reading the trilogy.
- November 2008—La théorie du grain de sable 2 from Schuiten & Peeters.
To understand the Brüsel anomalies (which are getting worse), you have to link them and explore the bugti country.
The second book has a faster pace and more diversity than the first, both books make for a story both interesting to read and a pleasure to look at.
- November 2008—La théorie du grain de sable 1 from Schuiten & Peeters.
In Brüsel, an enigmatic bugti warrior loans a jewel to an antiques dealer who wants to copy it, but the warrior dies in a accident shortly afterwards. Strange phenomenon start occurring.
The story takes a little while to get started, but there is a nice graphic play of greyscale drawings and pure white of anomalies, I really like the cook who gets lighter.
- October 2008—Skeleton Man from Tony Hillerman.
The investigator Joe Leaphorn is pulled out of retirement to help with an enquiry about diamonds, which were lost in a plane crash in the 50s, and are resurfacing years later.
The details about indian culture, the descriptions of the grand canyon landscape, and the characters of Jim Chee and Bernie make this book even more interesting than the hunt for diamonds.
- October 2008—Spook Country from William Gibson.
Hollis Henry was once famous as the singer of a band, now she has found a job as a journalist investigating augmented reality art.
William Gibson is really among my favourite authors, and I loved this book. The characters are engaging, augmented reality is something I’ve been interested in for a long time, and the suspense spices it up.
- October 2008—Astérix aux jeux Olympiques (Astérix at the Olympic Games) from A. Uderzo & R. Goscinny.
The gaul village takes part in the Olympic Games, mainly to annoy the romans.
It’s always funny to rediscover the old Astérix books, this one has a pretty up-to-date look on competitive sports and the doping that comes with them.
- October 2008—The curious case of Benjamin Button from F. Scott Fitzgerald, adapted by Nunzio DeFilipis & Christina Weir, illustrated by Kevin Cornell.
A graphic novel based on the story of Benjamin Button, who was 70 years old at his birth, and is getting younger as years go by.
An extravagant tale which will soon be made into a movie (but the movie will transpose it). The illustrations are superb and translate perfectly the slightly stiff 19th century mood.
- September 2008—Les plus beaux contes zen from Henri Brunel.
A collection of short zen tales, mainly of Japanese origin.
A good book to get a feeling of zen philosophy, the tales have variety and are interesting, they lead you nicely to introspection. The book is illustrated with nice Japanese engravings.
- September 2008—Flora Secunda, Being the magickal mishaps of a girl of spirit, her glass-gazing sidekick, two ominous butlers (one blue), a house with eleven thousand rooms, and a red dog from Ysabeau S. Wilce.
Flora Secunda is 13 years old, lives in Califa in her 11 000-rooms family house, which used to function thanks to a magickal butler. Flora’s mother, the Commanding General of the Army, has banished the butler, so the house is now mostly uninhabitable.
I liked this book a lot, it has strong characters, be they female, male or magickal, and describes a well-crafted universe. The pace is fast, the language interesting, and family issues are well integrated into the plot. I’ll definitely get the second book of the series!
- September 2008—The Masterharper of Pern from Anne McCaffrey.
A book of the Pern cycle telling, after reader’s requests, the story of the Masterharper Robinton.
I had not read a Pern novel for a while, and this one is as usual interesting, I went through it fast. I will soon have read all the novels and it made me want to re-read them, this time in a chronological order rather than following book publication dates.
- September 2008—Western circus from Morris & R. Goscinny.
Lucky Luke encounters a circus getting lost in the far west, close to a city completely controlled by Mr Zilch, who also organises the local rodeo.
Like in À l’ombre des derricks, a single man controls a little city… There are indians, Jolly Jumper gets a somewhat important place in the show, and the ending heralds the european circuit of the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show.
- September 2008—L’habitat bio-économique (Bio-economic habitat) from Pierre-Gilles Bellin.
A technical yet accessible on insulation, heating, electricity and water, aiming at maximizing savings.
The saving angle leads to individual and autarchic houses which might not always be the only solution, but lots of information can be adapted to other situations, and the case studies exemplify the recommendations very well.
- September 2008—Astérix chez les Bretons (Asterix in Britain) from A. Uderzo & R. Goscinny.
The aventures of the two gaul heroes in Great-Britain, not Brittany.
Very funny delivery of magical potion to the English cousins, sometimes trying to avoid the romans, but mainly hitting them a lot, with the culture shock of the british traditions to boost.
- September 2008—A sultan in Palermo from Tariq Ali.
A book about the cartographer al-Idrisi, taking place during the end of the reign of the norman king Roger of Sicily, at the end of the 11th century.
This book allowed me to discover the period during which Sicily experienced a cohabitation of catholic norman “sultans” (coming from Coutances) and muslim populations. Unfortunately the end of the rule and the succession went rather badly, but the description of this regime which offered sponsorship to one of the first great cartographers is very interesting.
- August 2008—The machine’s child from Kage Baker.
The next story of Dr. Zeuss Company, where the three-personalities lover(s) of Mendoza look(s) for her and plot(s) his(their) revenge.
The to and fro between future, past and present make for a convoluted yet interesting story. I was wondering if Alec’s three personalities wouldn’t become tiresome, but they are handled well. I would like to see Mendoza to take the lead, I feel the female character is basically going along for the ride, cast as the damsel in distress and being used. We’ll see in the next book.
- August 2008—Je suis un chat (吾輩は猫である) from Natsume Sōseki.
A Japanese novel from 1905, where the narrator is a cat, keen observer of the changes of the Meiji era.
A strange novel, part autobiography as the cat seems to be observing life in Sōseki’s house. The characters and situations are often far-fetched, the cat judges humans in an often merciless way (he’s not wrong), it’s a little uneven but very interesting. This is a book produced by one of the heroes of the series “Au temps de Botchan” from Sekikawa and Taniguchi (see below).
- August 2008—Poseidon’s gold from Lindsey Davis.
A new book in the adventures of Marcus Didius Falco, who must manage the shady businesses left behind by his brother when he died as a hero in Judea.
Again a very good novel, where you discover more about the family of the detective; the exploration of the tangled (and dangerous) maze of the greek statuary sting is very interesting.
- July 2008—Maliki 2: Une rose à l’amer from Maliki.
The follow-up to Maliki’s adventures, on holiday on the shore, but also at home with her cats, and with new characters.
As good as the first book, the cats are again excellent story subjects, while other animals and new characters add variety.
- July 2008—Learning the world from Ken MacLeod.
The story of a terrestrial colony vessel ending its travels towards a solar system it believes is uninhabited.
The unplanned encounter of two civilizations is interesting, and I couldn’t help comparing this to books from Iain M. Banks about the Culture. Where the Culture is a more than perfect civilization, MacLeod’s colonists are refreshingly imperfect, and more realistic with their internal dissensions. The aliens are also interesting and believable.
- July 2008—À l’ombre des derricks from Morris & Goscinny.
A Lucky Luke adventure in Titusville, quiet town from Pennsylvania which is going to be hit by a black gold rush.
Very funny and delirious interpretation of rushes for gold (black or not), with a whole city absenting itself, busy digging everywhere.
- June 2008—Shinjū from Laura Joh Rowland.
A detective story from the series of Sano Ichirō’s investigations. An artist and a rich young lady are discovered drowned, which certainly is a case of double love suicide, or shinjū.
As in all good “ethnic” detective stories, a good balance of suspense and details about Japan and Edo in the 17th century. Ichirō’s character is interesting, and makes me want to read more about his adventures. Thanks to Liz for talking to me about this book.
- May 2008—Future shock from Alvin Toffler.
A book about post-industrialist societies, their evolution and the issues created by quick change, published in 1970.
A very interesting book, with lots of spot on views, but it’s a little depressing that some ideas have not been applied. I think Alvin Toffler assumes humans have a collective intelligence that I don’t think has ever been displayed.
- May 2008—Sourires de loup (White teeth) from Zadie Smith.
The lives of two migrant families in the United-Kingdom, one of Bangladeshi origins, the other a Jamaican-English couple.
I like the colourful and energetic tone of the book, it’s very interesting to follow these characters, and contemporary issues are added to the mix without heavy-handedness.
- April 2008—Le combat ordinaire 4: Planter des clous (Ordinary victories book 4) from Manu Larcenet.
The fourth book of Marco’s adventures, more calm on the family front, width more tensions on the social one.
I like where this comic series goes, how it shows factories closing and the mood of a certain election night.
- April 2008—Onmyôji 2 : Le moineau vermillon from Okano Reiko & Yumemakura Baku.
Abe-no-Seimei must take care of an avenging woman who appears in her chariot every night, each night one street closer to the imperial palace.
As beautiful as the first, the costumes are superb, there’s humour when Seimei has fun at the expense of his friend Hiromasa, and lots of details about the capital of the Heian period.
- April 2008—Slaughterhouse-five from Kurt Vonnegut.
A young soldier from the United-States is plunged into the second world war, and arrives in Dresden just before the fire-bombing.
Kurt Vonnegut, who lived through this bombing, describes the war, its senselessness and horrors with a piercing humour. A memorable book, built in an interesting manner, the hero is observed by aliens in the same way he observed the war.
- March 2008—Meet the laugh-out-loud cats from A. Koford.
The book version of the Laugh-out-loud cats comics.
I like the combination of old-looking hobo cats from the great depression and contemporary jokes and expressions.
- March 2008—The Wippins Campaign from Kevin Cornell.
The story of a graphic designer who receives an order from a client like no other, the Dark Queen.
Maybe it’s rather specialized humour, but the combination of the daily problems of the designer and the medieval and cruel customer is very funny.
- March 2008—Sixty days and counting from Kim Stanley Robinson.
The end of the trilogy about climate change, with the first actions of a president of the United-States who wants to change things.
A rather optimistic ending, very confident in humans, science and technology, which simplifies a lot of issues. But then, it’s science-fiction.
- March 2008—Maliki: Broie la vie en rose from Maliki.
The book version of the comic strips from Maliki, both the author and pink–haired star of the stories.
It’s very pleasant to be able to read the stories again, discover some that I hadn’t read, I especially love the stories about cats, and the dark humor (quite a feat to mix it with pink as a main colour).
- March 2008—Au temps de Botchan 5: La mauvaise humeur de Soseki (『坊ちゃん』の時代) from Sekikawa, Natsuo and Taniguchi, Jirō.
The end of the series, with the account of Soseki’s illness, which almost took his life.
An episode about illness, death and the end of an era, with the repression of the social troubles and the beginning of a nationalist era bringing the Meiji period to an end.
- March 2008—Cathédrale des trolls (Trolls’ cathedral ) from Ólafur Gunnarsson.
Set in Iceland in the 50s, the story of an architect who wants to build the first mall in Reykjavík.
It’s interesting to discover how Iceland was at that period, but I had trouble getting interested in the characters, for which everything must be immense and tragic.
- February 2008—De la Françafrique à la Mafiafrique from François-Xavier Verschave.
A very short book summing up the story of Françafrique, the way France has handled its former African colonies.
A must-read for all, in order to understand the current situation, and have a hint of all the dirt hidden behind the nice “cooperation” words. This book made me want to check the more detailed books produced by this author.
- February 2008—Sillage 9: Infiltrations from Morvan and Buchet.
Nävis works undercover among a rebel group targeting Sillage.
This episode is quite dark and pessimistic, showing darker sides of the “perfect” Sillage.
- January 2008—Le génie des alpages 7: Tonnerre et mille sabots from F’murr.
More ovine madness, starting with a looping river cascade.
In this one there’s also juggling with sheep, mountain-sized remote-controlled Christmas displays, classic tragedy played by sheep in a forgotten language, and 3-masts sails rigged between mountains.
- January 2008—The amber spyglass from Philip Pullman.
The last book of the “His dark materials” trilogy, the big rush towards a big battle, with assassins trying to kill the characters before they accomplish their destiny, and more weird worlds to go through.
A fitting end to the series, with again lots of action and suspense, interesting worlds including one with “motorcycle creatures”, it was a very quick read.
List of the books I’ve read in 2007