Read in 2009
List of the books I’ve read in 2010
- December 2009—Le génie des alpages 10: Monter, descendre, ça glisse pareil from F’murr.
The coach is still floating in mid-air, and craziness happens below.
There’s a cat you can wring out when it’s wet, a political speech in front of sheep, and stag-hunting with sheep instead of dogs.
- December 2009—A dying light in Corduba from Lindsey Davis.
More Marcus Didius Falco adventures, this time in roman Spain among the rich olive oil producers.
Good suspense and nice details as always, a pleasant discovery of Spain at that time.
- November 2009—Les algues du littoral from Paulette Gayral & Joël Cosson.
A small book to learn to identify seaweed when I dive.
In addition to seaweed descriptions and photos, some information about the intertidal zone and the sometimes complex reproduction process of seaweed.
- November 2009—Megatokyo 2 from Fred Gallagher & Rodney Caston.
The follow-up to the adventures of Piro and Largo from Megatokyo website, where Largo becomes a gr34t teacher and starts killing zombies.
Quite funny, beautiful drawings with lots of bonuses added to the online version, and above all a continuity lost when following the comic as it is published.
- November 2009—La Hulotte #93.
The most popular magazine in burrows goes on studying the griffon vulture.
Shall I tell you again that it’s beautiful to look at, captivating to read, and funny? The life of griffon vultures is full of surprising details.
- November 2009—Axis from Robert Charles Wilson.
The follow-up to Spin, this book is set on the planet “given” by the Hypotheticals to humanity. A strange dust storm falls on a city.
Wilson creates believable characters and a really enigmatic alien life form, ruthless government agents and humans with extended lifespans, and all of this makes for an interesting read, weird and familiar.
- November 2009—The Accord from Keith Brooke.
The Accord is a simulation where humans are uploaded after they die. Its architect is in love with the wife of a politician, the latter kills his wife when he finds out about it, the architect commits suicide to find her again.
A good mix of suspense, reflections on environment and science-fiction, with good finds like the idea that, once dead, the act of killing someone or oneself only amounts to a “reset”, which completely changes people’s values.
- November 2009—Usagi Yojimbo 1 from Stan Sakai.
The first episode of a series about a samurai rabbit, created by a Japanese living in the United-States.
The stories are short and varied, with details about medieval Japan sprinkled along the way, a little bit of humour, sometimes follow-ups between one story and the next, it’s pleasant to read.
- October 2009—Harry Potter and the deathly hallows from J.K. Rowling.
The last instalment of the Potter saga, probably darker than ever.
The rhythm is quick, and once I got to two thirds of the book, it was impossible to put it down before getting to the end, which is on par with the rest of the series.
- October 2009—Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (Twenty thousand leagues under the sea) from Jules Verne.
The classic story of captain Nemo and his astonishing submarine, with lots of fish.
It’s a nice read, but the illustrations are dated and letting the text down. Even if he impressively anticipated lots of things, Verne missed others, like the future of the “inexhaustible cod school” of Newfoundland.
- October 2008—Maliki 3 : Mots roses au clair de lune from Maliki.
The follow-up to Maliki’s adventures, with her cats and the little Fang.
The series keeps a good rhythm, it’s good to see Fang take more stage space, and there are some excellent comics (cat with laser pointer, O RLY-girl).
- October 2009—Le sceptre du hasard (The scepter of chance) from Gérard Klein.
Ingmar Langdon, an old-fashioned man who loves quiet, is appointed at random to be the supreme leader of humanity.
The idea to use chance to nominate people in charge is interesting, but apart from that the story is mainstream, with enough suspense, but nothing exceptional.
- October 2009—L’intégrale Corse from Pétillon.
A collection of the editorial cartoons created during the last 30 years about Corsica.
As can be surmised by reading L’enquête corse, Pétillon has a knowledge of this subject that gives spot-on (and very very funny) insight on many topics related to this French region.
- October 2009—Raoul Taburin from Sempé.
Raoul Taburin, a bicycle mechanic, has a dark secret: he can’t ride a bicycle.
The story is funny, the settings old-fashioned, the pictures in Sempé’s inimitable style.
- September 2009—Carpe jugulum from Terry Pratchett.
This time it’s the vampires who decide to get all modern and expand their territory, colliding with the Lancre witches in the process.
As always, a very funny book, with new characters (Nac Mac Feegle, the Omnian priest) probably set to feature in other books.
- September 2009—Les sentinelles de la nuit (Night Watch) from Sergei Lukyanenko.
Anton is a young member of the Night Watch, an Other on the Light side who watches the Dark Others.
The book consists in three episodes, slightly repetitive, but full of interesting details and dilemmas, in a Muscovite setting that fits the subject perfectly.
- September 2009—Onmyôji 4 : Kôjin from Okano Reiko & Yumemakura Baku.
A story about a bewitched monumental portal, another about an immortal nun.
Always interesting, with more and more references and details about the culture at the end of the book. Superb drawings of demons, architecture and draped kimonos.
- September 2009—The children of the company from Kage Baker.
After the conclusion of the Dr Zeus series, this novel goes through the whole chronology, following supporting characters of the main story.
I really loved this book! The characters (Lewis, Victor, Latif…) followed by Labiennus are very engaging, and the pace is right. I was also keen on the rather disillusioned view of the humans by the cyborgs.
- August 2009—Confession d’un masque (假面の告白) from Yukio Mishima.
A partly autobiographical novel about a man who hides and fights his homosexual tendencies.
It is a sad and depressing book, with a character who tries at all cost to debase himself, fascinated by death and blood. Chilling…
- August 2009—Time to depart from Lindsey Davis.
Just back from Judaea, Marcus Didius Falco escorts a criminal sentenced to death who has chosen to leave the roman empire as is his right. Everything turns very sour afterwards.
Whereas the previous adventure spent lots of time thinking to identify the author of a crime, this book is more into film noir territory, with sometimes violent action and lots of suspense, making it a book you are eager to read fast.
- August 2009—L’espace de la révélation (Revelation space) from Alastair Reynolds.
A scientist studies an extinct extraterrestrial species on a small colony fraught with troubles, while a woman in a mightily armed spaceship looks for him.
A very fat book (only the beginning of a trilogy!!), where lots of things happen, with central female characters and a well-crafted universe. The fact that the author is an astrophysicist shows.
- July 2009—The skies of Pern from Anne McCaffrey.
After successfully removing the red star, the habitants of Pern get more surprises coming from the sky.
The fight between traditionalists and progressivists is described well. I tend to be like the dragonriders and wonder how Pern can evolve from here, maybe it feels like the end of the cycle.
- July 2009—Cosmos Incorporated from Maurice G. Dantec.
A killer whose brain has been wiped out to avoid alerting the security of a cosmodrome gets in to kill the mayor of this city.
The beginning of the book is rather good, cyberpunk in a well built landscape, with neocon details that irritate a bit, and a sometimes very aggravating style that listens to itself write. Then at about half my bullshitometer exploded with the mysticism crisis, and I closed the book. I had already told myself “never again Dantec”, now it’s final.
- July 2009—Generation warriors - Les planètes pirates 2 from Elizabeth Moon & Anne McCaffrey.
The follow-up to the precedent book, the hero and 3 main characters go their separate ways, trying to avoid and foil plots.
The separation into 4 stories following the characters quickens the pace, and the ending doesn’t dwell too long on a big confrontation. Although there are a few weaknesses, it’s an interesting story.
- July 2009—Sassinak - Les planètes pirates 1 from Elizabeth Moon & Anne McCaffrey.
A very young girl sees her life totally upset when her spatial colony is destroyed and she is sold as a slave. After being freed, she devotes herself to vengeance.
The main character is engaging (and female!), the world is well-built. There’s a whole section in the middle, too fascinated by the army and its inner workings for my taste, and rather boring; but afterwards new characters are introduced and it made me want to read the second book.
- July 2009—Otherness from David Brin.
A collection of short stories focusing on encounters with and reflexions on aliens.
There is lots of variety in the stories, some are really excellent. The book made me think and also introduces concepts in astrophysics.
- July 2009—Artefacts (Probability sun) from Nancy Kress.
The follow-up to Probability moon, with a second expedition on planet World, to study the second artifact.
The novel is fast paced, thanks to our knowledge of World from the previous book, the new characters are well fleshed-out, and the capture of a Faller makes for an interesting subplot. It was a page-turner.
- July 2009—Le fait du prince from Amélie Nothomb.
A man steals the identity of a stranger who died in his house, and then drowns in champagne.
A very quick read, with slightly hollow characters put in a situation that strives to be strange.
- July 2009—Onmyôji 3 : Celui qui parle aux démons from Okano Reiko & Yumemakura Baku.
Abe no Seimei must discover who is the weird lover of a young girl who jumps naked in the pond to eat fish.
Always beautiful to look at, with a bit of humour. As the series progresses and we get more familiar with onmyôji, the explanations become more complicated.
- June 2009—Matter from Iain M. Banks.
Another Culture cycle book, starting on a strange multi-level planet where a people led by a combative king is expanding.
I loved the juxtaposition of Culture space opera with the more medieval mood of the Sarl, and Djian’s point of view, as she left a still primitive people to enter the Culture.
- May 2009—Last act in Palmyra from Lindsey Davis.
An enquiry of the roman detective Marcus Didius Falco, who finds himself on a tour with a theater company in Judaea.
Another well-crafted adventure, a little suspense but mainly an interesting description of theater and Judaea at the time. With quite a bit of humour as usual.
- May 2009—Swap-Swap from Richard Canal.
A man wakes up in a disco without memory. His brain has been swapped. He goes in search of his past with an augmented dog.
I liked this cyberpunk story, the fact that it imagines a world where the northern hemisphere has stopped being dominant, and Africa is the leading power. The quest for memory is also nicely described.
- May 2009—La Hulotte #92.
The most popular magazine in burrows introduces the queen of hornets.
As usual, the drawings are superb; this issue makes us discover a beast we usually chase away in a panic, and makes it likeable.
- Avril 2009—The confusion from Neal Stephenson.
The second book telling the adventures of Jack, Eliza, Bob and the others in the Mediterranean slave-trade and the court of king Louis XIV.
The characters are interesting and the story bounces from one scene to the other, making hundreds of pages go pretty fast. I’m going to read the next book.
- Mars 2009—The non-rotative beam engine from Maurice Kelly.
A technical and historical study of non-rotative beam steam engines.
A very specialized book, but after seeing them at the Kew Bridge Steam Museum, I wanted to understand how they work and their history, and this book is perfect!
- Mars 2009—Les fruits du gingko from Miyazawa Kenji.
A collection of strange stories and fables.
I wasn’t really interested by this book, written poetry doesn’t touch me as much as visual one. Too bad for me…
- Mars 2009—The sons of heaven from Kage Baker.
The follow-up and the end of the Dr Zeus series, as we get to the mysterious year 2355, when the future stops responding.
The last episode is a good conclusion of a good series, lots of things are going on, we meet the heroes of the previous books again, and the Nicholas/Edward/Alec characters stop sharing the same head, which is a relief.
- Mars 2009—De l’autre côté du monde (The far side of the world) from Patrick O’Brian.
Just when he thinks his boat is old enough to be scrapped, Jack Aubrey is entrusted with the mission to follow an american boat that is hunting English whaling ships in the Pacific. But chance doesn’t really seem to be on his side.
As always an excellent mix of historical and maritime details, suspense and adventure, I went through it really fast.
- February 2009—Le génie des alpages 9: Après nous le déluge from F’murr.
The adventures start from where they were left off, with sheep in a coach floating in mid-air.
This time the delirious gags include, among others, the invocation of a giant sheep and a fight between a sheep with a slingshot and a ninja cow wielding a tennis racket.
- February 2009—Elixirs 2 : le secret du glupion from Arleston & Varanda.
The three heroes go on fleeing, discover who their enemy is, their pet reveals itself to be more than a cute fur-ball.
The rhythm is better than in the first book, and some adventures are quite funny, but I’m not convinced.
- February 2009—Elixirs 1 : le sortilège de Loxullio from Arleston & Varanda.
A not very assiduous student of a sorcery school, a princess and her bodyguard flee in front of an attack that destroys their city.
It takes quite a while to start, and gave me the feeling that the authors of Lanfeust were trying to create another series with the same recipe, while giving themselves plenty of occasions to draw very busty women.
- January 2009—The road home from Jim Harrison.
A half-indian grandfather reminisces about his life as his granddaughter asks him about the family’s stories.
A very beautiful way to write, with the voices of the family members echoing each other successively, they are all engaging and it is a very engrossing book.
- January 2009—The witling from Vernor Vinge.
Two humans, an archeologist and a pilot, who were observing a planet in a system they have stared to colonize, get stranded and discover most of the aliens they thought they knew possess a very special talent.
I liked the story and the characters, the way the slight arrogance of the explorers disappears quickly and they lose control. The illustrations included in this edition are quite kitsch and didn’t fit at all with what I imagined while reading the book.
- January 2009—The fifth elephant from Terry Pratchett.
This time the discworld series focuses on Sam Vimes, who has to become a diplomat (!) to attend a coronation of a dwarf king, among unrest between dwarves, werewolves and vampires.
This story is a good one, maybe slightly less funny than some other discworld novels, but with a lot of action going on, and lots of characters getting interesting things to say and do.
- January 2009—A gap in nature - Discovering the world’s extinct animals from Tim Flannery & Peter Schouten.
A coffe table book focusing on about 100 species that went extinct in the last 500 years.
Schouten’s illustrations are gorgeous, the stories very interesting. It is both an absorbing book and a depressing one, a testimony to the void and uniformity humans left in their wake as they went exploring the world.
- January 2009—L’énigme de l’Exode (The exodus quest) from Will Adams.
A mix of crime thriller and archeology, around excavations and rivalries between scientists and fundamentalists in Alexandria.
An entertaining and interesting book, probably trying to follow on Da Vinci Code success, but the lack of conspiracy theory makes it more pleasant. Beware, once I got to two-thirds of the book, I couldn’t put it down, and went to sleep at 2 am to get to the end of the story.
List of the books I’ve read in 2008