Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen
mrissa

Books read, late October.

I am still in my odd phase of not wanting to read nonfiction. This is not the world's most convenient phase: with packing to go to World Fantasy, I got down to having two books on my "fiction to read, not inherited or borrowed" pile. That is not optimal. (On the other hand, having the "to read" pile full of things I never quite get around to is not optimal either.) Somehow I seem to have arrived home from World Fantasy with more fiction to read, so at least there's that. Also I don't want the library lists to stay indefinitely library lists without reading the things on them, so that's also a fine consequence. But the nonfiction piles and lists loom and look friendly, just not...not right now. Not yet.

Also, this is what happens when I travel cross-country alone. Fiction goes fast. Also this is what happens when I'm really exhausted: I finished reading two books since I started writing this post and had to add them. So very tired. Some good stuff in here.

Dan Abnett, Embedded. Journalist in the head of a future soldier. Fun but not incredibly deep.

Scott Andrews, ed. The Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Year Two. Kindle. I make a point of not reviewing books I'm in. I'm in this one. But it exists and is full of stories including mine.

Annie Barrows, Ivy and Bean. The down side to my library lists going digital is that I lose the reference points for why I wanted to read some of these things. This is a perfectly nice book for early readers about two little girls who are friends and play together. I'm not sure why I had a one of those on my list in isolation, but there it was, a perfectly reasonable thing to give to a niece or a goddaughter and yet not of any great personal fascination.

Jeanne Birdsall, The Penderwicks. I now know why rushthatspeaks liked the third one better; I do too. I hope this isn't due to lack of Rosalind. I really got uncomfortable with some of the ways Rosalind was handled. This series is trying to be an older kind of book, and in the third volume it succeeds admirably. But this is the first, and the use of a very small child as dedicated childcare worker is completely glossed over as fine and dandy. On the other hand, Jane and Skye are awesome, and I did have fun with it, and I will read the second one, but...I dunno. Weirdness of trying to write an older style of book now, I guess. Or the pitfalls of trying to return the children to more independence than they would likely currently have.

Holly Black, Red Glove. Plot is not the strong suit of these books. Teen character relationships, though: they are very, very good at that part. As a result, I'm looking forward to the third one when it comes out. I'm still wanting more exploration of the limits of this system, but this one did do further ramifications from the first. We love ramifications.

A.S. Byatt, Still Life. I think this may be one of the most poorly-titled books I've ever read. It was a fine enough Byatt book, sort of. The framing device--was it even a framing device if you don't get back to it at the end? Well, what I mean here is that the pieces did not add up very well. The scenes were fine, but they bounced around from character to character, and the pieces did not add up all that well, and...it was more like Anti-Still Life actually. More like one of those nineteenth century paintings that makes me stand in front of it and say, "See this mess? This is why we needed Impressionism. And every other movement since. This right here."

Pierre Corneille, Le Cid. Kindle. Oh the melodrama! Oh the angst! This was so much fun. It's also something I almost certainly would not have picked up were it not for the Kindle.

Aliette de Bodard, Servant of the Underworld. This is the book you didn't know you were waiting for, except those of you who read it ages ago and weren't waiting at all. Mexica mythology plus murder mystery equals AWESOME. I am so glad there are two more, because I need at least two more, because there was more AWESOME than could fit in one book, and I strongly suspect there is more AWESOME than can fit in three books. I have not been this excited about a murder mystery since I discovered the work of Colin Cotterill.

Gemma Files, A Book of Tongues. Western dark fantasy. Were you comfortable with the amount of sex in A Companion to Wolves? Because there is a lot of sex in this book. It is extremely explicit sex, and much of it--as in Companion to Wolves--relates directly to the plot. So if you were saying, "I want something about as bright and happy in its world-building as Felix Gilman's The Half-Made World, but with much more of the sex," then this is the book for you. (I'm not that fond of really dark settings, but I have to say I'm pleased at the recognition with the modern crop of fantasy Westerns that really, the Old West was not always a shiny happy place. Often not, in fact.)

Matthew Hughes, Majestrum, Template, and The Damned Busters. The first two are in the same universe, the third is not. They were all fast reads. They were all...peripherally fascinated with a medieval church/Seven Deadly concept of sin? But not endorsing it and not more than peripherally. I guess my main recommendation is that people who wish that someone modern was writing something more like The Robots of Dawn should read Template. Because it doesn't read like 1950s optimal Asimov, and it doesn't read like late-period worse Asimov. It reads like if 1950s optimal Asimov was being written now. With maybe some Jack Vance? It's a classic mode without being tied to all of the prose and characterization conventions of that era, is what I'm saying. It might be a convenient thing to know about.

Kameron Hurley, God's War. A sweet and kindly book filled with teddy bears having picnics. Wait! Something else than that. A harsh desert book with people whose lives are filled with violence and bugs top to toe. Seriously, if you are averse to bugs, do not read this book. I found the bug-related worldbuilding and tech immensely cool, but someone who has phobias about that general category of invertebrates might find it very hard to read. (Cool, though! Cool bugs!)

Luo Guanzhong, Three Kingdoms: Volume IV. Finally, finally, I steeled myself for the conclusion, going on the assumption that I just wasn't going to be able to remember who everyone was, and that was that. Luckily this volume has a list in the back for people who are having trouble telling A from B from C's cousin Wally. (Note: no one called Wally actually appears in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.)

Ari Marmell (mouseferatu), The Goblin Corps. I recommend this book enthusiastically but specifically: it is very like the experience of playing D&D with your friends from high school. Not like the experience of reading a campaign summary, but like the experience of doing it. Do you not have D&D friends from high school, or do you not feel like reliving that experience? This is probably not the book for you. But when that's what you want, wow, is this ever it.

Catriona McPherson, After the Armistice Ball. I was looking for a readable mystery, ideally one set in the British Isles (since I have a lot of American stuff from Grandpa). And this was that. I don't think I'll be reading more of this author's stuff, since the main character was sufficiently dim as to interfere with the plot significantly, but it was at least readably written.

Derryl Murphy, Napier's Bones. This book is like putting a nerd in a blender. It hits so many nerd spots. You read it and go, "Oh, that kind of nerd." There is the inventor of logarithms. There is Archimedes. There is a sort of phone phreaking, weirdly adjusted. There are a few sports references of the nerdy statistics kind. I called Billy's original identity right away because of this confluence of nerdiness, and the ending seemed inevitable because of my own background but not necessarily because of anyone else's, but I'm really happy that this book was published, because it's not doing a lot of the things we seem to be assuming books all have to do, but it is getting its nerd on with great gusto and comprehensiveness.

Ekaterina Sedia, Heart of Iron. Alternate history making two huge failed revolutions successful. I wanted to love it, but instead I liked it quite a bit; there was a subplot that I am so very tired of at the moment that timprov is tired of me being tired of it, so I should come up with some code phrase for, "This subplot again, so tired!" As gaaldine had to switch adjectives in freshman year of college. That tired. But the train! The revolutions! The resurgence of the character I wanted to see at the end!

Johanna Sinisalo, ed., The Dedalus Book of Finnish Fantasy. I was a bit frustrated by this, since it featured not only Finnish fantasy shorts but also excerpts from works of Finnish literature that had dream sequences or other interludes that...did not strike me as fantasy per se. Also I was amused at the signs of being a werewolf in one of the stories. Pale skin and eyebrows that grow together in the middle! Where is Finland? I'll tell you where. Surrounded entirely by pale-skinned people with a tendency to unibrow. So basically anybody is a werewolf if you're mad at them. Convenient! I don't know; I think this is only important if you're passionately interested in Finnish literature.

Patricia C. Wrede, Book of Enchantments. It looks from this as though Pat writes to a particular end of her range when she does short stuff, or maybe it was the timing of it? Anyway, this felt much more similar to the Enchanted Forest end of things throughout, even though most of the stories were not actually Enchanted Forest stories. I think this was marketed as a juvenile? If not, I don't think there's anything in it that should upset any but the very most uptight of parents of young people.
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