|Books read, early April
||[Apr. 15th, 2010|10:02 pm]
Tim Akers, Heart of Veridon. All the cogs and gears, none of the badly researched or selectively viewed Victorians. This is secondary-world steampunk, and I'm glad of it. One of my friends thought it was reminiscent of Blade Runner done steampunk, and I can see why. I didn't fall in love with anybody, although I like the spider-creature named Wilson, but the plot was headlong fun.
Gillian Bradshaw, The Beacon at Alexandria. Made me want to go out and learn more about Bishop Athanasios of Alexandria and the Nicene Council. No, no, I mean that in a good way. After my obligatory teeth-gritting at the "why does the only mode of historical adventure for girls involve them already being flat-chested?" moment, I loved the rest of this book. Historical medicine in the messy bits of the Roman Empire. Good stuff.
Ally Carter, I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You. This is a YA school novel, and also a spy novel, sort of. It is absolutely popcorn. But it is popcorn with the right balance of salt and butter. I'm not sure I want to tell you what I was hoping to find out from reading it, except that I will continue with the series in pursuit of the same bit of knowledge.
Cory Doctorow, For the Win. Discussed elsewhere.
Tony Hays, The Divine Sacrifice. Discussed elsewhere.
N.K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Country cousin dealing with enslaved gods, among other troubles. Tore right on through this one and will definitely look for more of Jemisin's work. It is probably indicative of something awful about me that I'm hoping for more Zhakkarn, but there it is. Without spoiling too much about the ending, I think the fact that this is one of a series might lead one to make mistaken assumptions about the scope of story Jemisin is exploring here, which is far bigger than it first seems. Definitely in a good way.
Ysabeau S. Wilce, Flora Segunda. The narrative voice is superaddicted to adding the prefix super- to words superoften. I found it superannoying. But I liked the hints of the world peeking through, and I liked the way that people were not always as they first seemed to Flora, and I liked that she accepted that with as much good grace as one could really expect. I will probably go on to the sequel, which I would not have expected to say in the first few chapters, but Califa (the setting) won me over.
I think the fact that this is one of a series might lead one to make mistaken assumptions about the scope of story Jemisin is exploring here, which is far bigger than it first seems.
But/and contrariwise, despite being one of a series it works perfectly well as a stand-alone novel.
Indeed--the ending works far better at standing alone than any ending I would have predicted from knowing it was the first in a series, oddly enough. But it also made the ending much more surprising to me than if I had been thinking of it as a stand-alone, also oddly enough.
Been seeing that one around, but had no confidence that it was any good. I guess I should give it a try now, huh?
I expect it might be an Alecish sort of thing. Not entirely sure on that, but it's a strong possibility.
Two of my favorite books (Beacon and Flora). I went on to just about all of Bradshaw's historical books after liking that one so much, but it's still my favorite. Though Imperial Purple was a close second. I didn't like the second Flora as much as the first, but it was definitely worth reading. For the Win is on my list, when I get through the next few hundred pages--off to read the linked review.
I liked the second Flora better than the first.
Ditto this. The first had a few too many moving parts, but the second nearly had me cheering.
I could not get past the first couple of chapters of Flora and sent it back to the library with extreme prejudice, despite lots of people I respect liking it. I have very little tolerance for whimsy.
The Beacon at Alexandria is one of my comfort books, and has been for a very long time. As it was one of the first books with this motif I read, and as it has "doctors can always have bloody cloths soaking and nobody thinks anything of it" and "he examined the bandage I use to keep my chest flattened and I told him it was a bandage" I rate it more highly than most such. Athanasius! Valens and the Visigoths! What have the Romans ever done for us anyway?
The first time I tried Flora, I had the same reaction. This time it was a loan from someone non-library. The aggressive whimsy did not go away (nor my reaction to it, though self-evidently not quite as strong as yours), but I ended up poking at the worldbuilding anyway, and that took me through the rest of the book.
And yes, the bloody cloths soaking and the bandage were lovely, and also the fact that Charis did not disguise herself as a boy but as a eunuch made me so much happier than the usual girl-disguised-as stories.
I described Flora Segunda as 'aggressive whimsy' once, especially after I made the connection between it and the story in F&SF about Tiny Doom, which I read but did not comprehend. I like the two books and they have quite a lot of things that made me stop and reread-- Poppy!-- but I skid off some of the worldbuilding.
"Aggressive whimsy" is just the term, and it nearly put me off for good. I know that for some people that's the charming bit, though.
I was very fond of Zhakkarn too. Am.