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Books read, late May. - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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Books read, late May. [Jun. 1st, 2013|01:29 pm]
Marissa Lingen
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According to my booklog, I read 13 books this fortnight and bounced off 30. That ratio is terrifying. The other striking thing about this fortnight's run of books is that it appears to be completely devoid of nonfiction. That's because I'm working my way through a particular nonfiction thing of my grandpa's that is both long and emotionally quite difficult, and that's been taking my nonfiction attention. More on that when I finish it.

Robert Jackson Bennett, Mr. Shivers. I generally like Bennett's writing and generally am not all that attached to his subject matter. This is no exception: the tramps of the Great Depression are well-done but would not have been my thing if I didn't already know I liked Bennett's work. Also I can see why horror people think it's dark fantasy, but it's awfully dark fantasy for me.

Pamela Dean (pameladean), Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary. Reread. Every time I reread this book, it gets better. I have always loved the Giant Ants (I had my own Giant Ants once), but every time I reread I see better how the parts fit together. Also this time around I appreciated Gentian's dad quite a bit.

Jon Courtenay Grimwood, The Exiled Blade. Ah, Venice. This volume felt less urban fantasy-influenced than the previous volumes of the trilogy, which is good, but on the whole I would only read this if you've read the ones that come before it.

Nalo Hopkinson, Report From Planet Midnight; Plus.... Two short stories, and I liked the one playing with The Tempest very much. An interview and a speech. There were a few points at which I wanted to kick the interviewer, but since it was Terry Bisson this doesn't entirely surprise me. (I have never met Mr. Bisson and have nothing against him personally. It's the things he occasionally says in print that make me feel like kicking.)

Guy Gavriel Kay, River of Stars. It is very strange to describe a book of this size as "thin," but that's how it felt to me, like he was trying to do even more stuff and it wasn't quite gelling. It's not a direct sequel to Under Heaven, so go ahead and read it if you like Kay's fictionalized historical fantasies--I do like them. I just feel like this is not towards the top of the pack. And honestly, it's hard to get Chinese stuff right; there's just so much of China. It would help if he would start with not having everybody in the real or fantasy world obsessed with fair-haired women, though. (I was glad this was a much more minor element here. But it did come up.)

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Fledgling. Kindle. This was a temporarily free Kindle book, and it did one of the things temporarily free Kindle books are supposed to be good for: it reminded me that this series is quite entertaining and motivated me to read some more of them. (I read three in quick succession some years back. Probably spreading them out more is advisable.) On the other hand, it was originally published as a serial and demonstrated one of the limitations of serials: the ending was incredibly anti-climactic, totally telegraphed, and generally not great. And there were several spots that exemplified the maxim about how if the reader notices a problem in Chapter 6, often the problem is in Chapter 3. When you're writing a serial, you can't fix stuff like that nearly as easily or as well. But sometimes I am in the mood for the kind of SF I grew up on, wherein a teenager discovers that he/she is extraordinary and becomes appreciated by his/her surroundings, also goes on to an exciting new life. This is a one of those. Sometimes one wants a one of those, even when one is a jaded reader and eyebrows at bits of it.

Grace Lin, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. A set of retellings of Chinese folk tales, restructured to make a coherent book. There are kids' books that are so amazing that I'm sending people of all ages after them; this isn't one, but it's definitely worth a look if you have a kid in your life interested in Chinese folk tales.

Val McDermid, A Place of Execution. The characterization in this book was what really got me. The mystery itself--I had my suspicions about the mystery fairly early on. But the characters were so great to spend time with, so very well-drawn, and the setting as well, and that's what I read mysteries for, mostly. So I will keep investigating this Val McDermid thing. It looks like it's a fluke that both of her books I've read so far are set over a larger period of time than is usual for mysteries, but that's been interesting too.

E. Nesbit, The Story of the Treasure Seekers. Kindle. Reread. It had probably been at least 20 years since I last read this one. The Bastables amuse me, but I also find it funny that these were hailed as less didactic than the things going on around them, because they seem pretty didactic from this angle.

Greg Rucka, Private Wars and The Last Run. The last two Queen and Country novels--as you can tell from the last title, quite self-consciously a Done Now thing. But not in a bad way. I continued to enjoy the spies in this series and their hijinks, even when things got rather dark. Okay, extremely dark. Greg Rucka, what're ya gonna do.

Caroline Stevermer (1crowdedhour), A College of Magics. Reread. I remembered this as more collegey than it really is, and less Ruritanian. I liked the magic and the collegeness and the visions. I liked the hat (haaaat!). Of course, if I hadn't liked it I wouldn't have reread it, but it's been awhile.

P. G. Wodehouse, The Gem Collector. Kindle. Not a major Wodehouse, and the phoneticized dialect is really annoying. There is also random bigotry in a couple of directions in a couple of spots. Not the worst book of its era, but not a highly recommended exemplar of its type, either.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: wild_irises
2013-06-01 07:11 pm (UTC)
Ooh, time to reread Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary. I haven't done that in a long time!
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[User Picture]From: klwilliams
2013-06-01 07:58 pm (UTC)
I recently read Val McDermid's A Place of Execution and agree with your comments. My husband and Val are very good friends, and Chaz told me I needed to start reading her books with this one. I think it's a good introduction and I'll certainly read more.

Re: Terry Bisson. I know him fairly well, and started the SF in SF reading series with him. I suspect the outre questions he asked were said with a gleam in his eye and his tongue in his cheek as he watched to see if Nalo was getting the joke (or the poke -- he occasionally asks questions to see how big the rise will be). He does this in good humor, and with his own wicked sense of humor, but I can see how reading an interview rather than watching one could be a bit off-putting.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-06-01 09:04 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, I was very clear that he was doing it "tongue in cheek."
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[User Picture]From: oursin
2013-06-01 10:22 pm (UTC)
Sometimes one wants a one of those, even when one is a jaded reader and eyebrows at bits of it.

For several values of 'those': so true.
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[User Picture]From: auriaephiala
2013-06-03 02:05 am (UTC)
I adored McDermid's books until she started writing mysteries starring serial killers, which is a genre I hate. I haven't read anything by her since because she hasn't AFAIK stopped writing about serial killers, which is unfortunate.

But her earlier books -- the Lindsay Gordon series and the Kate Brannigan series -- are just excellent. Very Britain in the 90s, but in a good way.

I heard McDermid speak at a mystery convention quite a few years ago: very cool and interesting person.


Edited at 2013-06-03 02:05 am (UTC)
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