Belenen (belenen) wrote,
Belenen
belenen

self-educating 2008: #1-36

I (very annoyingly) lost my list halfway through (saved it on a drive that got corrupted) so this is pieced together from my not-so-great memory and may be missing some :-p Still, 36 books / 12,966 pages is pretty good for a year in which SO MUCH happened! This year AGAIN I will have the goal of posting my booklist once a month (on the 28th), we'll see how it goes.

How I star them:
1 star -- DREADFUL. Don't read even if your only other option is is staring at the wall.
2 stars -- not really worth the time it takes to read it, but if you're superbored...
3 stars -- pretty good, nothing outstanding, but decent entertainment. Worth 1-2 reads.
4 stars -- very good, has some outstanding features. If it has flaws, the benefits overwhelm them. Worth reading 3-4 times or maybe once every 3 years.
5 stars -- AMAZING!!! memorable, captivating, with no glaring flaws. Worth reading over and over (maybe every other year), because you'll get more from each reading.
(** means it's a re-read)

01. Sing the Light by Louise Marley (fantasy) 3 stars
291 pages (total 291)
I loved the concept of magical singing that can create light and warmth, on a world of eternal winter. It seemed a little undeveloped in some ways but was quite interesting.

02. Small Mediums At Large: The True Tales of a Family of Psychics by Terry Iacuzzo (autobiography) 3 stars
368 pages (total 659)
Strange, memorable, fascinating! an untidy sketch of a family.

03. Household Gods by by Judith Tarr & Harry Turtledove (historical fiction) 5 stars
672 pages (total 1331)
I haven't had a book grab me like this in a LONG time! I couldn't put it down! I'm not even into Roman times but Tarr really brought it to life in a fascinating way. Realistic and raw, a story of coming to understand one's own power.

04. The Son of Light (Ramses Vol. I)** by Christian Jacq (historical fiction) 3 stars
384 pages (total 1715)
reread -- not quite as fascinating the second time around. Still a wonderful evoking of ancient Egypt, but the writing is a little bland and so are the characters.

05. The Eternal Temple (Ramses Vol. II)** by Christian Jacq (historical fiction) 3 stars
368 pages (total 2083)
ditto with above ^

06. The Battle of Kadesh (Ramses Vol. III) by Christian Jacq (historical fiction) 3 stars
384 pages (total 2467)
Interesting but too battle-ful, I had to skim quite a few tedious 'suspenseful' battle scenes.

07. Angelica (Samaria, Book 1)** by Sharon Shinn (science fiction) 5 stars
560 pages
I've read this series before in the order it was published -- this year I decided to read them in chronological order. This one is possibly my favorite, because it explores the culture of the gypsy-like Edori the most.

08. Archangel (Samaria, Book 2)** by Sharon Shinn (science fiction) 5 stars
400 pages
As good as the first time I read it! I found the main male character flat but all the other characters more than made up for it. I love reading stories of emancipation, and the mythology/science of this world is fascinating.

09. Angel-Seeker (Samaria, Book 3)** by Sharon Shinn (science fiction) 5 stars
512 pages
The most suspenseful by far and the most rich as far as characters and plot go -- and I love the look into the Jansai culture that Shinn gave with this one.

10. Jovah's Angel (Samaria, Book 4)** by Sharon Shinn (science fiction) 5 stars
368 pages
my least-favorite of the series which is STILL a five-star because of the incredible characters.

11. The Alleluia Files (Samaria, Book 5)** by Sharon Shinn (science fiction) 5 stars
448 pages (total 4755)
fascinating! the culture of Samaria begins to fall apart as faith falters and the angels become more irresponsible with their leadership. Fascinating because of parallels to earth religions -- how they slowly drift from their origins and get hijacked by power-hungry cultists.

12. The Dream-Maker's Magic by Sharon Shinn (fantasy) 3 stars
272 pages (total 5027)
a young adult novel, very interesting mythology (as always) and great characters.

13. Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn (fantasy) 3 stars
352 pages (total 5379)
one of Shinn's weakest novels, but still good. A rather typical fantasy novel, mercifully free of the misogyny that plagues most 'typical' fantasy novels.

14. King and Goddess by Judith Tarr (historical fiction) 3 stars
416 pages (total 5795)
A little dry and dark, but a fascinating exploration of Hatshepsut. The rich exploration of the culture of that time makes up for the bittersweet storyline.

15. The Hidden Messages in Water by Masaru Emoto (non-fiction) 3 stars
200 pages (total 5995)
interesting -- a little annoying in how it doesn't go in-depth into the methods, but if one researches more, the content falls into place. (the bit of Secret Life of Plants that mentioned this did a lot to raise Emoto in my estimation)

16. One with the Light by Brad Steiger (non-fiction) 3 stars
304 pages (total 6299)
would have been VERY good if it was my first reading on NDEs, but for someone familiar with them it's just average.

17. The Glass Dragon by Irene Radford (fantasy) 3 stars
352 pages (total 6651)
another 'typical' fantasy, but with interesting magic mythology, enough to keep me interested. A little too much sexism for me to look for the next in the series, but not so much that I couldn't finish reading it.

18. Dark Water's Embrace by Stephen Leigh (science fiction) 5 stars
331 pages (total 6982)
UNBELIEVABLY FASCINATING. Practically anything I say is a spoiler, so let me just say that it involves a REAL (as in, biologically necessary) third sex, and a really fascinating alien culture.

19. The Hidden Land (The Daughters of Bast)** by Sarah Isidore (historical fiction) 4 stars
373 pages (total 7355)
this was a re-read -- I enjoyed it much more the second time. It brought Bast to life in an incredible way, as well as exploring a druid culture and Caesar's imperial stealing.

20. Shrine of Light (The Daughters of Bast) by Sarah Isidore (historical fiction) 4 stars
352 pages (total 7707)
This one explores the clash of Christianity and -- well, everything else. It's very easy to demonize Christians in writing about such a time, but Isidore is very fair in zir handling of it -- showing that some try to live their own beliefs in peace while others seek to use God as an excuse to control and judge others.

21. The World Tree (The Daughters of Bast) by Sarah Isidore (historical fiction) 4 stars
384 pages (total 8091)
This was my favorite of the series, as Bast and Sekhmet must work together with a single witch.

22. Call of the Trees by Dorothy MacLean (non-fiction) 3 stars
116 pages (total 8207)
I was expecting to be blown away after learning about Findhorn, but this didn't stir me. I feel like the writer did too much interpreting of what ze heard, and so it's hard to pick out what was the original message before the writer interpreted it through zir own lens. We all do that, so I don't blame zir, but a lot of it just had no impact on me. A few of the messages made me burst out crying though, so it was definitely worth the read.

23. Talks with Trees by Leslie Cabarga (non-fiction) 5 stars
174 pages (total 8381)
Faaaaaaaaaascinating! Written by someone who can hear plants of all kinds. The whole thing resonated INTENSELY with me -- I'd love to meet the author. I found it really encouraging because it was in the same spirit (though not at all the same words) as the messages that I have received. I felt the truth in it.

24. The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins, Christopher Bird (non-fiction) 5 stars
416 pages (total 8797)
This took me AGES to read because it is such a dense compilation of knowledge, and about such intensely amazing things. I would read some and then have to put it down to digest what I just learned. My copy is filled to the brim with dog-eared pages and underlinings and stars and scribbled notes. It's one of my holy books.

25. House of Dreams by Pauline Gedge (historical fiction) 5 stars
528 pages (total 9325)
THRILLING, oh, thrilling to my very bones! Not only is it so incredibly well-written that I can smell the Nile and feel the deep heat, but the characters are fascinating and the pace is perfect, building to a shocking finish.

26. House of Illusions by Pauline Gedge (historical fiction) 5 stars
416 pages (total 9741)
picking up years later from House of Dreams and not quite as amazing but still thrilling! A very satisfying read.

27. We Come As Friends by Peter Michaels (non-fiction) 2 stars
288 pages (total 10,029)
some of the stories resonated, but most of these tales of alien encounters came across as smokescreens for personal soapboxes.

28. Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity by Robert Jensen (non-fiction) 5 stars
200 pages (total 10,229)
Well-written and to-the-point (which is nice since most books on the subject seem to drift into Epic Tome length); compassionate and clear. SUCH a good introduction to what porn is really all about -- I plan to get several copies for giving to people who show interest.

29. A Door Into Ocean (Elysium Cycle) by Joan Slonczewski (science fiction) 5 stars
406 pages (total 10,635)
I've already rambled on about this so I'll just say that it explained pacifism to me in a way that finally made sense, it inspired me to keep a focus for my growth, and it opened my eyes in so many ways. All with imaginative alien life and rich characterization!

30. Talking with Nature by Michael J. Roads (autobiography) 5 stars
151 pages (total 10,786)
an autobiographical account of one person's connection with nature -- how ze learned to listen and what ze learned from listening. Incredible! It really resonated with me and taught me a lot.

31. Daughter of Elysium (Elysium Cycle) by Joan Slonczewski (science fiction) 4 stars
521 pages (total 11,307)
Fascinating cultures in this! A matriarchal one (which more than anything else I have ever read shows the depth of gender roles -- you notice a lot more when it's not so normal to you), an extreme patriarchal one, a 'normal' human patriarchal one, an egalitarian one, and one with a single sex (therefore no gender). PLUS the meaning of sentience -- biological and mechanical. But it tries to squeeze a little too much into one book, and includes some rather tedious blatherings-on about the science behind whatever the scientists were doing (the author is a biologist), so it doesn't get five stars.

32. The Children Star (Elysium Cycle) by Joan Slonczewski (science fiction) 5 stars
352 pages (total 11,659)
considering the morality of ecocide and the nature of sentience -- what happens if some microbes are sentient?

33. Brain Plague (Elysium Cycle) by Joan Slonczewski (science fiction) 5 stars
384 pages (total 12,043)
a continuation of the last; some people play host to microbes in order to learn from them and get perfect health, but some of the microbes want slaves, not conscious hosts. FASCINATING. You wouldn't think that microbes could be well-developed characters, but Slonczewski does it!

34. Journey into Nature by Michael J. Roads (autobiography) 5 stars
216 pages (total 12,259)
a sequel to Talking with Nature, which resonated even more with me than the first. If you are at all interested in the spiritual awareness of nature, this series is one to get!

35. Godmother Night by Rachel Pollack (magical realism / modern fantasy) 3 stars
355 pages (total 12,614)
very interesting magical realism, set in modern times. Follows two generations of lesbians with a theme of a personified Death.

36. Speaking Stones by Stephen Leigh (science fiction) 4 stars
352 pages (total 12,966)
I might have loved this more if I didn't have such high expectations, but it just couldn't quite match Dark Water's Embrace. Still, very interesting exploration of racism and speciesism.


as always, I heartily recommend the 4- and 5-starred books. ;-)
Tags: books, self-educating
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