Books read thus far in December:
Grasp the Stars: I wanted to like this one; I really did. The protagonist is interesting, and the other POV characters aren't bad either. It was the hodge-podge of a plot that made me put it down at the end and go "Meh." There are threads of what could be fascinating plots lying about all through the book. We have a 3000 year old, immortal (though killable) alien, with a secret that even she doesn't know half the time (intermittant drug-induced amnesia), a candidate for the Earth Council, who doesn't know it, with an existing councillor plotting against her (and she doesn't know that either), and a mysterious ancient artifact, with several possible translations, some quite provocative. Unfortunately, the author weaves all these in and out and around each other, without ever really getting ahold of one and pulling. Too bad.
Being a Green Mother - Piers Anthony: This is a middle book in his Incarnations of Immortality series. Some of them are very good, some are pretty bad, this one is okay. I've read it before. It's not a book that improves with repetition, though. The Piers Anthony tropes become more obvious when you reread it. If you read PA, and haven't figured out his tropes, I'm not going to give them away, because once you find them, you almost can't read him again. Even his good books are chock-full of all his favorite obsessions, and the bad ones have nothing but.
Outland - Tad Williams: I loved the Dragonbone Chair trilogy, so I thought I'd give this a try. Another meh, unfortunately. The plot is good, the characters are good, the only problem is that he writes so many damned words before you get to the payoff. Or to put it another way - I hit the end of nearly 800 pages, to discover that the plot was only just getting going. It's really more the first part of a reallly, really long book, than a stand-alone. And frankly, I'm just not sure my love of the characters and what plot I've seen is enough to sustain me through another 1600 pages or more.
The Paladin of Souls - Lois McMaster Bujold: Another reread. This time though, it's a favorite book from a favorite author. Ista dy Chalion is definitely in my top ten favorite characters of all time, and this book never fails to delight. Following Ista as she frantically struggles to get her loving family to let her do something, when she's supposed to be living in genteel, quiet retirement as the dowager royina, is something that most people, locked into a role that doesn't quite suit them, would relish.
Blood & Iron - Elizabeth Bear: The second book I've read from this Bear. I like her writing, and I will continue to read her stuff, but this book somehow didn't quite connect with me. It may simply be that the protagonist is a little too much like my mother. My relationship with my mother is difficult in some weird ways, and I'm not sure I want to be reading about her in my spare time, even as an elven changeling.
All Dressed Down and Noplace to Go: What can I say? It's Dilbert.
Flinx in Flux - Alan Dean Foster: It's a Flinx and Pip adventure. This time Flinx stumbles upon a (lovely, female) gengineer who's been kidnapped, rescues her, and returns her from whence she came. As ever in Flinx's life, though, things aren't that simple. He rapidly finds himself holed up deep in the unexplored caves of a mostly uninhabited planet - and then things get weird. I like Clarity as a character, and in general like this the way I like most Alan Dean Foster books. They're not deep, but they make darned good reading. Plus, I have yet to figure out how he makes his books so darned cheerful. He's the only man I know who can write a cheerful, feel-good read that involves the bloody slaughter of three planets worth of people. (No, not this book)
There were a few other books in there as well - one on dog-training, two on writing, a few others, but none of them are springing to mind this moment, so I won't worry about them.