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

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Books read, early April. [Apr. 16th, 2012|10:00 am]
Marissa Lingen

Light entry with convention plus a thing that is not getting posted about due to timing of publication; you'll get to hear about it later. But if you looked at this list and said, "Wow, you got hungry for your core genre while you were reading spy novels, didn't you?", you wouldn't be far wrong.

C.J. Cherryh, Intruder. I love the atevi. The later books in the series are less stand-alone than the earlier ones, I feel, but the ones preceding Intruder had started to feel even less stand-alone than that, as though very little was happening and we were along for a pleasant alien ride. This reversed that trend: things happened! And political solutions were achieved in political novels! Hurray! Oh, I was pleased with this one, and pleased with what it implies for the direction of the series. The interior decoration bits paid off so very well, they were not just their own "I like these characters and now we will go furniture shopping" thing, they were also plot spur, hurrah. I am rather partial to plot.

Amanda Downum (stillsostrange), The Kingdoms of Dust. The problem with the Minnesota-polite phrase "not my favorite," which means "oh ick," is that sometimes you don't mean "oh ick," you mean "this other thing here is my favorite instead." So when I say that The Kingdoms of Dust is not my favorite of Amanda's books, I don't want to signal the oh-ick! There is no oh-ick! It's just that this book gets sand in my shoes, and I like the previous book better, where Isyllt is getting into things people want her to leave alone instead of being prodded into things people want her to get into. But this is a matter of whether you like strawberry or raspberry, where the answer strikes me as non-obvious and personal rather than a matter of obvious quality.

Nalo Hopkinson, The Chaos. So many things handled so very well here. The prickly teen voice, her affection for her friends not always coming through in the ways her friends would want and vice versa with theirs for her, the family relationships, the sense of what it's really like to be someone for whom something comes easily and how that can clash badly with the rest of the world, the very concrete assessment of what large-scale disasters actually mean in terms of lack of water and people being injured and all of that. And yet there is humor, there is warmth, there is funny stuff. And also I am apparently 8 years old! Because! THERE IS A CHARACTER WITH MY NAME! I don't mean Marissa, because who cares. I mean that finally somebody has used the sensible nickname for Marissa, which I didn't even pick out for myself, time and natural language usage picked it out for me. So this person's name is Maryssa, so her nickname ends up being Mryss instead of Mris, which, okay, fine, but still: lady, you are sensible hurrah. Okay, like I said, 8 years old, but still: so pleased. Even without Auntie Mryss I would have bonded with this book. But then there was Auntie Mryss.

Mary Robinette Kowal, Glamour in Glass. Discussed elsewhere.

William Bryant Logan, Oak: the Frame of Civilization. I wanted this to be a good book. A microhistory of oak! Wouldn't that be a good book? It would go over all sorts of places, because there is a lot of oak out there, and talk about different things it was used for and different ways different cultures raised and treated it, and...sigh. This was not that book. And since I was reading this for a book club, I tried to focus on the bits I liked as much as possible, but the first problem, to my way of thinking, is that William Bryant Logan was an arborist and not an historian, and nobody makes arborists learn more than one language, and so he didn't go poking around going, "Ahah, and here's what they do in Romania!" So it was extremely focused on the Anglophone world, not even Canada really, just the US and England (and yes, I mean England; if there was any other part of the UK it was precious little). Also he was far too easily taken in with fanciful etymology. The bits that were about England and trees were rather nice, but the rest, sigh. Somebody else go write a better oak microhistory, quick.

Jeff Smith, Bone. If you had said to me, "Would you like a giant comic that starts out like Lil' Abner with dragons?", I would have said, oh, er, no thanks, you go ahead. And weirdly, the thing is that I would have liked it to stay more like Lil' Abner than it did: specifically, fewer secret royal thingies, more rural village thingies. But still. Rat-creatures and dragons and quiches. I am one of the last people in the world to have fun with this, but I did. (My 9-year-old godson spoilered me extensively when he saw me reading this. "Oh, you're in the first part? Well, in chapter five...." Hee. Thanks, kiddo.)

Walter Jon Williams, The Sundering. Middle book is middle. Consequences are predictable in some ways, so I was less attached than I am usually to middle books, but I still like the series and am glad to have another to read soon. Onwards.

[User Picture]From: guppiecat
2012-04-16 03:25 pm (UTC)
Have you read the Bone bonus stories?

I enjoyed Stupid, Stupid Rat Tales.

You also might like Jeff Smith's other work like RASL and the retelling of Shazam. I sorta like RASL, but the science and math is about as accurate as you'd expect from a cartoonist.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-04-16 03:29 pm (UTC)
I have not read the bonus stories, and I kind of felt like I'd had enough Bone for awhile, but I could probably come back later.
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[User Picture]From: dormouse_in_tea
2012-04-16 06:03 pm (UTC)
Hee! I do believe I was one of the voices recommending Bone (I certainly meant to be), so I am glad you liked.

And now you will understand cryptic posts/comments where people are complaining and the tag is "stupid, stupid rat creatures"!
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From: nenya_kanadka
2012-04-17 06:22 am (UTC)
Eee, am in the midst of Intruder right now (Bren is having breakfast with Tabini-aiji the day after he gets back to Shejidan) and I agree with you so far! The last few books had felt a little interchangeable, perhaps a little predictable (as much as I hate to say that about nand'CJ whom I adore). But this one begins to feel snappy again, rather like the earlier books in a good way. A certain amount of scrambling through underbrush is fine, but what I'm in it for is the politicking, and Jago and Banichi being awesome. Also Cajeiri is entirely fabulous in this one so far. Heeeee.

In short, SQUEE. Definitely looking forward to the next few books, if this is a sign of things to come. (I also adore the vase on the front cover. OMG PRETTY.)
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[User Picture]From: thanate
2012-04-18 01:13 am (UTC)
It is not oak-specific, and also largely anglophone, but I would point you in the direction of Oliver Rackham if you're interested in tree history & haven't encountered him yet. I wrote a probably not that coherent bit about how much I was enjoying his Woodland a while back, but he's also got academic stuff on medieval forestry, and a bunch of other things.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-04-18 01:20 am (UTC)
Good lord, that's expensive! And yet looks fascinating....
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[User Picture]From: thanate
2012-04-18 01:24 am (UTC)
Interlibrary loan is your friend! (Also, I got my copy of Woodlands for about $35 a couple months ago, so I'm not sure if that was a fluke, or likely to occur again. I'd keep an eye out, at any rate.)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-04-18 01:25 am (UTC)
ILL totally is my friend. For sure. And Minnesota is an awesome place to do ILL.
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[User Picture]From: thanate
2012-04-18 01:22 am (UTC)
Which entry I guess it would be polite to point you at.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2012-04-18 01:23 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you!
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