May 1st, 2011


Books read, late April.

Ben Aaronovitch, Midnight Riot. The issues around the cover of this book make me sad and tired. The book itself, however? Not at all sad and tired. It's very much worth looking past the publisher's decision to the book Aaronovitch actually wrote. This is the good kind of urban fantasy, or at least the Mrissish kind. If you like Mike Carey's Felix Castor books, you should definitely try out Ben Aaronovitch. Fun stuff.

Elizabeth Bear (matociquala), Bone and Jewel Creatures (Kindle), The Tricks of London, and Veronique is Visiting from Paris. It was apparently Short Bear Fortnight here. I'm still trying to get oriented in what I will and won't discuss in these book posts, and the latter two were almost certainly below the length limit of what I guarantee I will. But they also exist as separate physical entities, which most shorter stuff I read does not. Anyway. Bone and Jewel Creatures made an interesting pair of "old lady novellas" with Seven for a Secret, which I read earlier in April. Very different settings, very different characters, but the rarity of old ladies as actual characters made them go together in ways that another demographic would not have. The Tricks of London was also interesting to read in close proximity with Seven for a Secret because they were the same characters in different times. Veronique was combined with Kyle Cassidy photos in ways that made me wonder about the collaborative process--and I would be interested to hear how people respond to it if they only get one of the postcards.

James Hance and Max Michaels, Wookiee the Chew: The House at Chew Corner. This is another immensely short thing. It is, as the title might or might not imply, Star Wars-ish and Milne-ish all at once: they have captured the Shepherd illustration style utterly. It was even shorter than The House at Pooh Corner, but immensely cute.

John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let Me In. Oh, so Swedish. So Swedish. I expect they didn't have to do an elevator pitch for this one, because, "What if there were vampires...and they were suburban Swedes?" is not actually an appealing-sounding elevator pitch. But that's exactly what it is. And it works. I am not really all that interested in another vampire novel, but this one was fine. For those of you less interested in Swedish literature and still uninterested in vampires...possibly less fine. But seriously, it just sort of rattled along very Swedishly and took me far less time than I expected.

David Liss, The Devil's Company. The third in the Weaver books, the last so far. In this one, Weaver takes on the East India Company and associated personages, or they take on him, or something. I enjoyed this, but I didn't think it was quite as inspired as the other Liss books I've read; I'd try one of the others first and see how you like them.

Karin Lowachee, The Gaslight Dogs. Set in not-Canada. This book did all sorts of things right. There were, for example, analogs to both the Inuit and to other First Nations groups, and the European settler-analogs also had more than one cultural source, and each side had a tendency towards treating the other as a monolith in ways that the text made clear were completely inappropriate. But people are totally like that. There were lots of ways in which this book was very much the People Are Totally Like That book. This is not always a happy thing, but, y'know, people. Not always happy things.

Becky Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the Working-Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920-1965. I got this for research on a book I may never write but will always want to know how to write in case I get there. And it was completely useless for those purposes. Luckily, it was still interesting, and I'm always telling people that researching a book shouldn't be narrow, so I guess you can take me at my word on this. Still: the Korean War was nearly invisible, and it this book itself was very narrowly focused, a case study on particular working-class suburbs in a very narrow section of LA. I think the thing that I found most fascinating was that I have heard of the "build as you go" approach to housing in very poor areas of the Caribbean, where people will build as much of their house as they can afford and then just let it sit while they live in a tent or a shanty and work until they can get more money for more building supplies. I had no idea that this was au courant in any part of the US within the last hundred years. I think I am too much of a northern girl to really have it ever sink in as a normal option, because snow. It flurried this morning here. I know there are people who have to live rough here, but it is not a normal working-class option, not even in this economy. So that it had been in this same country, when people I know were alive--that was fascinating.