Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen
mrissa

Books read, early January

James Cloyd Bowman and Margery Bianco, Tales from a Finnish Tupa. This is a book of 1930s translations of Finnish folktales. It's probably only worth your time if you really love folktales, Finland, or both, but as I am a completist, hurray. Main moral of these stories: be nice to Saami people because they may turn out to be wise or magical or something else useful. Which I guess is far better than saying that the local minority is shifty and lazy, but still not entirely awesome. Oh, and they decided that Ilmarinen needed a first name. His first name was Seppo. (Essentially Joe. Joe Ilmarinen. I am still giggling.)

Jon Courtenay Grimwood, The Fallen Blade. This might have been a really good historical fantasy. It's set in Venice, and it's all political and murky and stuff. Which is a good sign, except...vampires. And werewolves. And a major female character who is in some sense deciding between her vampire and her werewolf. Which...really? Really? At a certain point, "I'll do that, but awesome," is not as distinguishable from, "I'll do that...same stupid thing...again." I mean, I'll still be reading the sequel, because he really did a good job with the same stupid thing again, but it made me very frustrated thinking what else he might have been able to do if he'd stuck more with the stregas and other interesting historical fantasy-ish things and not just gone diving for the urban fantasy template.

Barbara Hambly, Graveyard Dust. I liked this and will keep reading the series. I'm kind of giving it a dubious eye because of a few small elements, but it's not nearly enough to put me off the series.

Heather Kamins, Blueshifting. Discussed elsewhere.

M.J. Locke, Up Against It. This is the kind of SF novel I spent my teen years reading, and I have frankly kind of missed its like. It's set on a station with different culture than the inner planets, and I am such a sucker for that it's not even funny. I mean, it's not a planets-and-aliens book, which would be even better, but still, outer solar system folks are good folks, the sort you want to read about. Also it gave me a sense of some other things I'm missing as well as this kind of book, so it's been inspirational for my own work, so yay, go this.

Sarah Monette (truepenny) and Elizabeth Bear (matociquala), The Tempering of Men. Once again we see that I am a sucker for the middle book. Things have been set in motion! Motion and more motion! Oh, how I love a middle book, and I love the wolves in these. There are also monkeys, some of whom are very fine monkeys, but I like the wolves.

Jill Paton Walsh, A Piece of Justice. I think maybe I just don't connect to Jill Paton Walsh's work? I thought at first I was blaming her for not being Dorothy Sayers, so I tried one of her kids' things and now this, and...it was not bad. It was not that it was groan-worthy or horrible. I just...meh? So unless someone has an idea that something gets better or some other volume would be a fairer try, I think I will just not be a Jill Paton Walsh fan.

Sharon Kay Penman, Lionheart. Boy, when you want a big fat historical novel, there's Sharon Kay Penman. I've been reading these since college, and they're not all the same--this one, for example, takes place substantially in the Middle East for obvious reasons--they all scratch the same itch for me. I'd probably start with The Sunne in Splendour if I was new to Sharon Penman, but that may just be because I'm a Richard III fan. Anyway, this one was a little middle booky even for me, but I expect there will be more mayhem to come. There always has been before.

Francis Spufford, I May Be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination. This was not actually about Arctic and Antarctic exploration so much as it was about what people were thinking about same. If you were wondering, for example, what social expectations were placed on explorers' wives back home, or what children's books on the topic emphasized in that period, this is a very interesting thing indeed. If you just want more explorers, not so much. This is the sort of book I like to find, though, a bit off the beaten path, a different angle to focus from.

Jennifer Stevenson, Solstice. I'm still trying to get a handle on which short things get included here and which do not. I mostly don't talk about short stories or magazines. This was a chapbook I got in the Terri Windling benefit auction because I liked Trash Sex Magic and have wondered what she was up to since. This was a fine enough short story about musicians playing back the sun at Solstice, but there was nothing outstanding about it. So I'll just keep looking for novel-length stuff, then.

Jack Vance, Cugel's Saga. I like the Dying Earth, but I hate Cugel. Hate hate hatey haaaaaate. So I knew what this would be going in, and I'm glad I'm through it and can read slightly less Cugel-focused Dying Earth stuff. (Also I keep thinking of him as a kugel. Which is not useful really.)
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