Expecting Someone Taller by Tom Hold
Chess with a Dragon by David Gerrold
The Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMasters Bujold
I started the first on Friday morning, and finished the last on Sunday night. This is the rate at which I used to read books in high school: about one a day. Granted, the first two are very short. (Especially Chess, which is published as a novel but probably doesn't break 50,000 words.)
Commentary on them
Expecting Someone Taller: This was exactly the kind of book I was looking for. It fits all my criteria fairly well, at least if you're willing to susbstitute "British" for "genteel". There were a few oddly disturbing points in the narrative, but overall it was a fun, light-hearted romp and I enjoyed it immensely.
Chess with a Dragon: I don't know what is weirder (a) that when I asked for "fun, light-hearted romps" Lut selected a book about vicious, back-stabbing alien races who'd happily murder each other and whose main interest in the human beings (whom they knew were sentient) was as either food or host beasts for the aliens' implanted larvae -- or (b) that it more or less worked as a fun, light-hearted romp. No, I can't explain that. But I had a good time reading it, even if I did keep looking at the alien societies and thinking "What an appalling culture you have there, buddy."
The Warrior's Apprentice: This is the first novel Ms. Bujold wrote about Miles Vorkosigan. I don't remember reading it, although I definitely remember reading the prequel about his parents, and what I now suspect is the sequel to The Warrior's Apprentice. But very little in this book resonated as familiar, suggesting that either I managed to skip it, or I forgot its contents entirely.*
This book definitely has that "romp" feel to it, with one thing snowballing into another as the protagonist scrambles to resolve problems, usually resulting in the manufacture of brand-new and even thornier ones. The characters are charming and endearing, with the resolutions to problems generally being through clever application of available resources. (Often, "available resources" translates to "weapons, manpower, and brute force", but hey, this is military sf.)
On the one hand, there are enough grim moments in this book that I'm hesitant to say "Yeah, this is what I was looking for". On the other hand, I did enjoy it even more than the other two books. On the gripping hand, some of the aspects to it were pretty disturbing in a 'has the author even considered the way this makes her characters look?' kind of way.
Still, my overall impression was quite favorable, and I'll give other books in the series a try.
* I've done this before. I've read Jhereg at least three times, and still can't remember what the plot to it is.
I grabbed Connie Willis's To Say Nothing of the Dog this morning and started reading it on the walk to work. The first few pages haven't grabbed me. I'll read some more on the way home, and if it still hasn't caught my interest, I'll probably put it to one side in favor of reading another Vorkosigan novel. It strikes me that the world is full of books that I'll have a blast reading; I don't really need to slog through ones I'm not enjoying. And it's always possible that a book that feels like a chore now will seem a lot more fun a year or five down the line.