#58 The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed by Jessica Lahey. 4. Some things I'd already heard, some new, mostly on why we need to let kids fail when the stakes are low so they have resiliency when the stakes are high. The school gave all us parent reps copies as a present at the end of the year, which I'm taking as a hint that as a population, we're not doing too well on this with our kids.
#59 A Traveller's History of Germany by Robert Cole. 4. I really the Traveller's History series. They're concise, well organized survey histories of a specific region, starting in paleolithic and running up to the publishing date. Good at cause and effect and sprinkling in the bits of color that make history interesting instead of an endless recitation of dates and similarly named monarchs. Similarly to Italy, I suspect the sheer number of different regions that only really unify near the end made organizing this difficult, but the author kept things well aligned. The other big problem with German histories--that particularly horrific period that kind of looms over everything before and after--is dealt with sensitively and straightforwardly.
#60: My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going with Your Gut by Hannah Hart. 3. Entertaining but so, so random. About what you'd expect, if you're at all familiar with Hart. If you're not at all familiar with Hart...why are you reading this book? You didn't actually expect edible recipes, did you?
#61: The Sumage Solution by G.L. Carriger. 5. Ok, so this is a Gail Carriger book, and has Carriger's usual sense of whimsy and deft hand with dialogue. But it's present day instead of steampunk (although it would fit in the Parasolverse timeline) and is hardcore explicit m/m, not mannerly romance. We're talking details here, people. So if you're not onboard for that...you can't really avoid it here. If you're on board for that, man, does she do it well. Plus bashful werewolves, broken-but-still-good mages, a magical equivalent of the DMV, and a cameo by an absolutely fabulous kitsune drag queen.
#62: Germania: In Wayward Pursuit of the Germans and Their History by Simon Winder. 5. If you're looking for a coherent narrative of German history...go read A Traveller's History of Germany. We'll wait. Then come back. Because this is impossible to follow without a preexisting knowledge of German history, but way more fun. (Do you not particularly care about following what's going on, and you're just in for the snarky asides? Don't worry about it, dive right in.) One extremely biased take on bits of German history by a slightly daft and dotty Englishman who would like to pen a modern day version of Three Men in a Boat. There really is nothing he loves better than a really terrible fresco, or maybe a nice tone deaf dusty museum exhibit. Just plain prettiness is a bit of a disappointment, really. Utterly delightful.
#63: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard. 4. I actually saw the movie version of this waaay back in high school...before actually reading Hamlet. (Oh, I knew the gist, but not the details.) I'd meant to revisit afterwards, and somehow didn't get around to it until now. There's quite a bit of response to Waiting for Godot here, more than I'd initially realized (since I was only exposed to that years later as well). I've never been a Beckett fan, but Stoppard's humor and affection for his characters makes this a good deal more tolerable. I seem to remember the movie including them repeatedly nearly inventing various inventions (like Newtonian physics), which I was a little disappointed to find were not part of the stage directions.
#64: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré. 5. Incredibly tense for a novel with essentially no action. Ex-spy Smiley tries to piece together exactly what went wrong in the disastrous mission for which he was collateral damage, as he hunts for a mole. When everyone is a suspect, how can you tell who is paranoid?
#65: The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett. 3. The beautifully wrought characters and place settings of Patchett's later books, but ultimately unsatisfying. Patchett does a good job of making people I would find despicable sympathetic, but the (probably realistic) near misses of the finale make the terrible choices made unforgivable.
#66: Nebula Award Stories Number Five ed. by James Blish. 3.5. As always, an anthology has a mix of good and bad. Some of these...did not age well at all. Harlan Ellison's "A Boy and His Dog" for example--I realize the sexism is partly of its time and partly a deliberate artistic effect. But the fact that it's pretty well established that Ellison is an asshole that treats women terribly made reading this story make my skin crawl. Others are excellent, or just kind of forgettable at this point. Le Guin's "Nine Lives" is lovely, and you have to give Delany credit for a great title at the very least in "Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones." Good for knowing the history of the genre.
...well, that gets us up to before I left on vacation. 8 more reviews outstanding...