Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Books read, early May

C.L. Anderson, Bitter Angels. I was wondering whether to say that this is really Sarah Zettel. Then I turned to the copyright page, and there it was in black and white: Sarah Zettel. Right then. Byline notwithstanding, this is probably my second-favorite Sarah Zettel novel, and it circles around some of the same concerns and fascinations as my favorite one (Fool's War) did. If you were saying to yourself, "We in this genre are a beautiful garden with many kinds of flowers and do not need to denigrate other people's favorite flowers but I want more of the kind of flower that bloomed in Fool's War, dammit," this is that flower. Family relationships that are complicated by having people in them, for example, rather than by having too large a cast of characters. And the people in them are having genuinely science fictional difficulties in their familial relationships. So yay.

Jim Butcher, Changes. Meh. Meh, I say! Meh! The first line of the book is the big reveal, and I just did not buy how he handled it from there. Instant motivation, just add water: meh. Also people were given credit for nobility who in no way deserved it, in my opinion.

Kylie Chan, Blue Dragon. I think the lesson Chan learned from reading Chinese epics is that it's perfectly okay if the beginning takes you 1500 pages. And that's what we've had in this trilogy: 1500 pages of beginning. The next book starts a trilogy that's the middle of the story. It's not that these books aren't cracktastic, because they are. It's that they are a crack requiring rather a lot of patience.

Michael Connelly, The Brass Verdict. A perfectly middle-of-the-road LA murder mystery. Inscrutable are the ways of Swedes--not the author or the characters but my Swedish uncle, who recommended this specific volume as the starting point for Michael Connelly. It's the second in its series and gets this detective together with his other detective and then something happens to them as a pair of people. Which, if this is the first you've seen of either of them, just has a great deal less resonance. I still regard Parker Center as a fictional location and every story that references it as shared-world fiction. Which I suppose it could be, but really: not everybody who has lawyers head over to Parker Center is referencing Murder One. Sometimes they have just chosen to set their story in LA. It happens.

Elizabeth Enright, Tatsinda. I love the Melendy family books, but this just did not hit me as positively. I think I was put off fairly early by the "everybody except the prince thought she was funny-looking because she was what we would think of as conventionally beautiful" thing, and there just wasn't enough there to win me back. I suspect I read it about 25 years too late.

Philip Jenkins, Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1500 Years. More or less what it says on the label. If you've ever wondered where on earth all the winding clauses in the Christology of the Athanasian Creed come from, this book is a starting spot on that. Jenkins is particularly good about not presuming inevitability of historical outcomes, which is a hard thing for an historian to do.

Nevil Shute, A Town Like Alice. This is my second Shute, and I would say there's nothing like him. If I'm wrong you should certainly tell me, because I would be fascinated to see someone riffing off the sorts of things he's done in the two I've read but with a more modern sensibility. There is an extensive and fascinating flashback to a civilian prisoner of war story in WWII, and then it goes forward from there. It's the kind of casually racist that is trying in spots to be progressive for its time--I learned a new (-to-me) ethnic slur from this book--but if you can deal with that in the context of its era, the story of people trying to make concrete, measurable improvements to the possibilities available to the people around them is really worth the time.
Tags: bookses precious

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