Read in 2010
List of the books I’ve read in 2011
- December 2010—Petit dico des plus belles injures bretonnes from Martial Menard.
A dictionary of breton slang and swearing as an introduction to breton language.
It’s a funny way to discover this language, and there are references to other sources (schools, books, websites) where you can learn breton.
- December 2010—The surgeon’s mate from Patrick O’Brian.
After escaping from the American colony, Aubrey and Maturin find adventure in the Baltic sea, the first is harassed by a romantic conquest, the second in love but not married.
Another interesting adventure, featuring Brest. Details on ships and their workings are captivating.
- November 2010—La Hulotte #95.
The most popular magazine in burrows goes on studying the life of the hornet queen.
As usual, very interesting to read and beautiful to look at!
- November 2010—La grande porte (Gateway) from Frederik Pohl.
Traces of the occupation of an extra-terrestrial race are found in the solar system, including a door leading to the stars.
A story very centered on the psychology of the “hero”, I love the way spatial exploration is described without glamour, as a dangerous process on which you don’t have total control. The slightly blind appropriation of alien technology is also a very good idea.
- November 2010—Blacksad 4: L’Enfer, le silence from Juanjo Guarnido & Juan Díaz Canales.
The long-awaited follow-up to the adventures of the feline detective, revolving around a disappeared musician in New Orleans.
A dark story, I love the graphics, the mood and the setting.
- October 2010—L’âge de diamant (The diamond age) from Neal Stephenson.
A nanotechnology engineer copies an interactive education book intended for his boss’s daughter, to educate his own daughter, but the manual is stolen from him.
There are good ideas, but it’s not Stephenson’s best. The nano-machines work too well, and the ending is rather a letdown.
- September 2010—Three hands in the fountain from Lindsey Davis.
Gruesome body parts turn up in Rome’s water system, and Marcus Didius Falco starts investigating.
Another very good book in this series, where you learn how the roman aqueducts worked while having fun reading the story.
- September 2010—One for the money from Janet Evanovich.
A woman who has lost her job turns to bounty hunting to get by.
The book is quite good, but the lead character spends too much time describing how she dresses and fumbles too much to make me want to read other books in the series.
- September 2010—Obélix et Compagnie (Obelix and Co.) from A. Uderzo & R. Goscinny.
Cesar listens to an economics student who wants to weaken the Gaulish village by introducing trade.
It’s interesting to see a comic demonstrate trade mechanisms and get a good laugh out of it. Anti-trade might be another Gaulish hold-out attitude.
- September 2010—Dragon’s kin from Anne McCaffrey & Todd McCaffrey.
A novel of the Pern series that focuses on a mining camp and its watch-wher.
I got this novel to see how the collaboration between mother and son worked, and it works nicely. This book builds the Pern universe further in detail by delving into watch-whers, which are only mentioned in passing in most other novels.
- August 2010—The truth from Terry Pratchett.
The invention of movable type disrupts life in Ankh-Morpork, while a plot to oust the Patrican unfolds.
Another good book of the series, I love the way the history of printing is compressed into an explosive series of quick events (from invention to newspaper advertisement model in 3 days).
- November 2005—Le gourmet solitaire (孤独のグルメ) from Taniguchi, Jirō and Kusumi, Masayuki.
He is lonely, moves around and outside of Tokyo for his work. He often stops to eat, and every meal is a perfect story, tastes and memories.
It’s very pleasant to re-read this jewel that makes your mouth water.
- August 2010—The empress of Mars from Kage Baker.
A book depicting the frontier life on Mars, revolving around Mary Griffith, the only person who serves beer in the colony.
The mix of western and science-fiction is perfect, the oddball characters are excellent, I had lots of fun reading this book.
- August 2010—Powersat from Ben Bova.
An entrepreneur has put a powersat in orbit to collect solar energy and beam it back to earth. Energy interests and terrorists want to destroy or use it.
The book is more thriller than science-fiction, the characters are rather caricatural. A fast read full of suspense, but it doesn’t make me want to read more from this author.
- August 2010—Flora’s Dare: How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Despite Being Confined to Her Room) from Ysabeau S. Wilce.
In the second book of the series, Flora has to find the source of tremors that threaten to destroy Califa city.
It’s fun, fast-paced, with a (now more mature) strong female lead. The fantasy world has lots of interesting characteristics, especially about gender.
- June 2010—Anathem from Neal Stephenson.
On planet Arbre, theoretical scientists live secluded in concents, and only allow exchanges with the outside once each year, decade, century or millennium.
A very detailed worldbuilding, interesting plot development and good characters allow Stephenson to delve quite a lot on maths, physics and philosophy discussions without losing me. Waow.
- June 2010—Random acts of senseless violence from Jack Womack.
In a near-future New York where everything is the same but worse, Lola, a 12 years old, witnesses the descent of her family and country down the social ladder.
A very strong book, this story is unforgiving, dark but plausible, the modification of language subtly reinforces the transformation from ordinary teenager to enraged human being.
- June 2010—Le roi de Kahel from Tierno Monénembo.
At the end of the 19th century, a Frenchman decides to carve himself a kingdom in Fouta Djallon, a highland area of Guinea inhabited by the Fula people.
A weird epic book, the main character is quite mad and the era depicted was terrible. But the description of the land and people is very vivid, the Fulani and Parisian officials share many traits, most often bad ones.
- May 2010—The star fraction from Ken Macleod.
In a kindgom that is no more united but split into micro territories, a mercenary, a scientist and a geek trader try to flee trouble but might be setting up another war more destructive than peace.
A book that skilfully mixes the social and technologic angles. The balkanised United-Kingdom is credible, and even if an artificial intelligence comes to autonomy yet again, it is well written and suspenseful. Makes me want to read more of the Fall Revolution books.
- April 2010—La Hulotte #94.
The most popular magazine in burrows goes on studying the life of the hornet queen.
Shall I tell you again that it’s beautiful to look at, captivating to read, and funny? Next time I see a hornet, I will gently show it the way out rather than panic.
- April 2010—Hidden buddhas from Liza Dalby.
A young U.S. Ph.D. student travels to Japan to study hidden buddhas, while a Japanese buddhist monk protects their secret powers.
This novel was perfect for me, as I am interested in Japanese culture and language, I loved every bit! The booked hooked me, it manages to keep a fast pace suiting a mystery novel while giving plenty of fascinating detail about Japan culture and religion, and fleshing out characters you care for. One of them even lives in my neck of the woods!
- April 2010—Le puits de Shiuan (Well of Shiuan) from C.J. Cherryh.
The second book of the Morgaine series after Gate of Ivrel. Vanye has followed Morgaine on a world slowly drowning in rising seas, meeting a young peasant girl who tries to escape her fate.
This is again quite dark and bleak, but the second book doesn’t add much to the formula already established in the first.
- April 2010—Thief of time from Terry Pratchett.
The Auditors decide that those who dwell on the Discworld are too unpredictable and time must be stopped. To do that, they have a young apprentice build a perfect clock to trap time.
A really good Discworld novel, I love the History Monks, following Susan Sto Helit is always very enjoyable, and the way Auditors are killed is thoroughly funny.
- March 2010—Miles Vorkosigan (The Vor game) from Lois McMaster Bujold.
Miles, the mutant son of the general Vorkosigan, has completed military training and expects a post in the starfleet. Instead he gets posted to a frigid and desolate island.
This is very good space opera with lots of plot twists, a hero that makes lots of mistakes but always lands on his feet, and very interesting baddies.
- March 2010—The shape shifter from Tony Hillerman.
Joe Leaphorn tries to help an ex-colleague who received death threats after discovering an indian rug, which was supposed to have been destroyed in a fire, on the walls of a mansion in a magazine.
As usual with the Joe Leaphorn books, a very interesting mix of suspense, native american culture and description of the United States rural life.
- March 2010—Les portes d’Ivrel (Gate of Ivrel) from C.J. Cherryh.
A young prince is banished and wanders until he meets a mysterious and powerful white-haired woman jumping from a time gate.
A good dark fantasy story with a strong female lead.
- February 2010—La Recouvrance - carnets de bord from Hervé Grall.
After a introduction about how the ship was built, a collection of trip logs aboard the schooner La Recouvrance.
Very nicely constructed, mixing technical details and descriptions of the atmosphere onboard, this book makes you want to cruise on this ship.
- February 2010—Chasm city from Alastair Reynolds.
The follow-up to Revelation space, centering on Tanner, a security operative, amnesiac after a space elevator accident, who finds himself in Chasm city, a city contaminated by a biomechanical virus.
Reynolds finds an interesting way of weaving several strands into a complex story. The characters and the city are surprising, and the suspense made me go through the book fast.
- February 2010—Megatokyo 3 from Fred Gallagher.
The third book of the Megatokyo series, Largo gets a job at the Tokyo Police Cataclysm Division, while Piro is out of his depth among girls, be they real or robotic…
It’s really nice to be able to read the story in one book rather than from day to day, and the bonuses are really nice.
- January 2010—The graveyard book from Neil Gaiman.
A baby has a narrow escape from a hitman who slaughters his family, takes refuge in a cemetery and the “inhabitants” of the place adopt him.
Dark and riveting in a perfectly balanced way, this book kept me company while I was sick on a week-end. Very good company, all is perfectly in place, from the story to small details, including the language.
- January 2010—Petit dragon (The pet dragon) from Christoph Niemann.
A children’s book telling the story of Lin and her pet dragon, while introducing the corresponding chinese characters, superimposed on the drawings.
The drawings are nice, it’s fun to find the characters I knew already, and to discover new ones. Too bad the dragon character 竜 was not included !
- January 2010—The system of the world from Neal Stephenson.
The last novel of the Baroque Cycle, this focuses on year 1714, when lots of things changed in England.
If the first book of the trilogy, Quicksilver, didn’t totally convince me, I really loved the next books. The ending is captivating, full of mechanisms that are slowly triggered off so that the story completes itself. Excellent!