netgirl_y2k: (sansa wolf girl)
Hild - Nicola Griffith
When Will There Be Good News? - Kate Atkinson
Started Early, Took My Dog - Kate Atkinson
The Lies of Locke Lamora - Scott Lynch
Adaptation - Malinda Lo


I thought that Hild was totally fucking brilliant. It's a fictionalised account of the early life of St Hilda of Whitby, and it's wonderfully immersive, it's like sinking into a warm bath, except instead of water you've just slid into seventh century Britain. The amount of research that must have gone into it boggles the mind. There are lots of Old English words and spellings, but not in a way that's jarring, but in a way that fits, like reading Tolkien for the first time, you know? I've read complaints that Hild's bisexuality was too modern and broke the spell, which I didn't find at all, I thought Hild's sexuality fit seamlessly in with the world and character that Griffith's had created - and taking dubious sexual advantage of a woman you're keeping as your slave isn't exactly the mark of a modern relationship - also, what, you don't think there was anybody who wasn't straight in early history? The complaint I did think had legs was that the book did end a bit abruptly, but I think that's because I didn't realise that it was book one of two, I'm really looking forward to the sequel. Highly, highly recommended.

I've been enjoying Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie mysteries, but having read a bunch of them in quick succession I've noticed a repeated theme, where a damaged young person ends up in the care of an equally damaged yet well meaning guardian figure through, er, unofficial means. Which is fine and all, it's just one of those things that makes you wonder what it is that keeps bringing the writer back to that particular story. Both of the Jackson Brodie's I read this month were good, but I think I preferred When Will There Be Good News?, I thought the mystery was better, and that Kate Atkinson's authorial tics were less apparent to me. Also, in Started Early, Took My Dog one of the rotating cast of POV characters was a woman in her seventies in the early stages of dementia, which I found really difficult and upsetting to read.

The Lies of Locke Lamora has been on my to-read list for some time, and when I got my [livejournal.com profile] rarewomen assignment I wasn't really feeling the request for the fandom I'd been matched, and one of the other requests was for Gentlemen Bastards fic, so I thought I'd check out the first book. Um, yeah, probably not. There were lots of things I liked about it, I thought the world building was astonishingly good, I especially liked the bit about the bondsmages. I loved the idea of an exclusive guild of wizards who would go all scorched Earth on anyone who opposed them, and I think that the endless narratives that try to frame magicians (mutants, telepaths, etc) as the oppressed underclass could stand to take notes. It took a long time for the main plot, with the Grey King, to kick into gear but once it did it moved along at a fair clip. I thought it could have done with a few more female characters, but the head of the secret police being an eccentric old lady who stabs people with knitting needles was pretty awesome. Locke himself is likeable enough but -- neither the Magnificent Bastard or Smarter Than You And Knows It are character types that do anything for me. And I was put off right at the beginning by Locke's con-artist shenanigans, especially as his victims were also quite likeable. I'll probably read more in the series but I'm in no rush, you know? Then again, given that this series seems to being published at about the same rate as ASOIAF maybe that's no bad thing.

Adaptation. Oh. Oh dear. So, this starts off quite promisingly with massive inexplicable bird strikes bringing down planes all over North America. I have a phobia of birds, so the idea that they may someday turn on us is genuinely scary to me. To this the book adds a government conspiracy, mysteriously developing superpowers, Area 51, and a bisexual love triangle (which manages to make it only slightly less hackneyed than every other love triangle in YA these days). Oh, and then the protagonist's female love interest turns out to be an alien... because aliens have been secretly living among us since Roswell. It manages to be both ludicrously overloaded and utterly bland. Very much not recommended.

I am currently jumping between The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis and the first of Jo Walton's Tir Tanagiri trilogy, both of which are proving to be quite slow burners. I'm loving the 13th century bits of The Doomsday Book, again, totally immersive in the best way, but its near future Oxford sections are letting it down. I think maybe it's just the book showing its age; I'm supposed to believe that in the future they have time machines but not mobile phones, really!? The King's Peace, an Arthurian legends AU with gender equality and a female knight as the protagonist, all the things I usually like, is proving a bit of let down. I think because Jo Walton's earlier books can't stand up to the expectations of her I have after reading Tooth & Claw and the Small Change trilogy. Also, lady knights are my catnip, and I read a lot of books featuring them, to the point where they have become something of cliche to me, and it's like this book is lampshading the cliche (look, a female knight!) and then not doing anything interesting with it.
netgirl_y2k: (Default)
London Falling - Paul Cornell
Life After Life - Kate Atkinson
Dangerous Women - George R.R Martin & Gardner Dozois
Case Histories - Kate Atkinson
Wildthorn - Jane Eagland
The Shattering - Karen Healey
Enduring Love - Ian McEwan


I think I mentioned that I'd started London Falling in December last year, and had been dipping in and out of it without ever really being gripped. Well-- it ended better than it started, but that's really the only good thing I can say about it. I mean, I'm not sure which was published first, but it felt like everything London Falling was trying to do was done better in the much more readable Rivers of London. Also, London Falling was the straw that broke the camel's back when it came to London centric urban fantasies. I officially no longer give a fuck about how super special and magical London is, if I want to read about the amazingness of London then I have my choice of news outlets for that; I read this stuff to escape from the real world, tell me about secret supernatural underworlds beneath Cambridge, or Newcastle, or Edinburgh, you know.

It wasn't just that, though, the characters all felt so utterly flat and same-y (except for Quill, who read like a refugee from a sub-par episode of Life on Mars) that it was hard to tell whose headspace you were in at any given moment, and the POVs ricocheted around so quickly that some of it I found genuinely hard to parse. There were awkward tonal shifts between "there's a wicked witch who kills any footballer who scores a hat-trick against West Ham" and "Oh, by the way, she does this by boiling children alive." Very much not recommended.

Lesson: No matter how much a book has been talked up, if you're not enjoying it, stop.

Life After Life, on the other hand, I really did like. It's about a woman born in the earlier half of the twentieth century who gets to live her life over and over again, giving us multiple perspectives on that time without ever having to change the pov character, which was quite clever, I thought. I most enjoyed the multiple takes on WWII, and thought the section where she was living in Berlin at the end of the war was especially affecting. Spoilers ) Recommended.

But, yeah, it was definitely more historical fiction than historical fantasy. Which actually got me thinking-- don't get me wrong, I still think London Falling was a genuinely poor book, but also that I am probably burnt out reading the SF/F genre almost exclusively, and I really ought to try and read more of other kinds of books, just to break things up sometimes.

Dangerous Women I talked about a bit when I read it, collected short stories notionally, at least, on the theme of dangerous women (Diana Gabaldon boy did you miss the point with your elaborate tale of faux Scottish manpain) leading up to the new historical A Song of Ice and Fire novella The Princess and the Queen which was-- fine. And if GRRM is going to be writing things that are not the next book I would far rather this than the likes of The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister. But, still.

Unpopular opinion in ASOIAF fandom: I want the show to overtake the books in term of plot. There's a point where you just want to know how it all ends, you know?

Case Histories I read partly because I'd so liked Life After Life, and partly as part of my effort to read more widely. It's about a private investigator, Jackson Brodie, investigating three decades old crimes that actually come together surprisingly well by the end of the book. I liked it, I will probably read more in the series, but like a lot of the time when I read crime and mystery, I don't have an awful lot to say about it. Although, wait, I do have one minor thing to say, at the end of the book Jackson surprisingly inherits millions of pounds from a little old cat lady he's reluctantly befriended, and let me tell you as someone who's spent the better part of ten years working with elderly people in various ways, that has never happened, to anyone, not once. I mean, I read books about dragons, so I'm not sure why that minor plot point tripping up my suspension of disbelief so badly, but seriously, nope.

Wildthorn is about a young Victorian woman who wants to train as a doctor, and her family shuts her up in an asylum for her trouble. It's full of cliches and is kind of overwrought, but it also has female characters following their dreams against the odds, lesbians, and a happy ending, and as such it struck my id right on the head; I liked it a lot.

The Shattering I read because people had recommended Guardian of the Dead to me, but The Shattering was what they had the day I went to the library, so. And it was-- fine, it was about three teens investigating a series of suicides-cum-murders, and it took a peculiar turn towards magical realism about halfway through. The one thing that did stop me being resoundingly meh on it was the New Zealand setting, which was about as far way from London as you can get. I shall definitely try to get a hold of Guardian of the Dead at some point.

Ian McEwan is an excellent (Atonement) and overrated (everything else, also kind of Atonement) writer. The basic premise of Enduring Love is that two strangers meet at the scene of a freak accident and one of them becomes obsessed with the other. It was all very well written, but what did bug me about it was this-- as far as I know, stalking and stalkers turning violent is something that happens most often to women, so the hook of this novel seemed to be what if this terrible thing, that overwhelmingly affects women, happened to a middle aged straight man, wouldn't that be awful? Bah!

I am not sure what I'm going to read next, I have heard good things about Hild.
netgirl_y2k: (cersei fuck)
I have been in a sulk all week because of a really shit job interview I had on Monday. Of course I was asked about the fact that I've been out of work for a few years now, which is a fair enough question, and gives me the chance to go into my "As you know, Bob..." answer about being a carer, and how it was unplanned, but ultimately improving and character building, and the many things I learned doing it that could be applied to paid employment. All fine and dandy, until the interviewer asked if there was anyone they could call to verify that I really had been a carer...

It wasn't even that they asked, not really, it was they way they asked, the assumption that of course you were a liar until proven otherwise. I mean, I have my flaws, and I am not above the odd white lie - but I would not make up a loved one suffering from dementia to cover up the fact that I killed a man in Reno just to watch him die.

Anyway, I didn't get the job. Which is rather a relief. At the risk of sounding like someone David Cameron would like to see shot on the village green, I didn't really want it, I just wanted the interview practice. I would prefer not to work in a call centre again unless I'm really up against it. Plus, I've worked places where the management have that distrustful us-against-them attitude towards the staff and the atmosphere is invariably toxic and awful.

The other thing I have been doing this week is reading my way through the Dangerous Women anthology, which like a lot of people I was mainly reading for the new ASOIAF novella in it. I could have just skipped the rest of the book and read The Princess and the Queen, but it was the very last story in the book, and that would have felt, in some obscure and difficult to articulate way, like cheating.

My absolute least favourite story in the anthology was Diana Gabaldon's contribution, which was an overlong story about Jaime Fraser's manpain, and did nothing but reassure me that never reading the Outlander series has been a good life choice. It left me annoyed not only with Diana Gabaldon, but with the editors for not insisting that a tacked-on afterthought of a subplot about a woman thief didn't really count, and they would keep her in mind if they were ever putting together an anthology called faux-Scottish manpain. Indeed, a few of the contributors seemed to have missed the point (or, at least, what I wanted to be the point) writing stories about dude protagonists being led astray by femme fatals. Joe R. Lansdale and Lawrence Block (whose contribution was a protracted snuff-scene, eww) were particularly guilty of this.

But that's the nature of anthologies, isn't it, that you'll like some stories better than others. I unsurprisingly enjoyed the Brandon Sanderson one, and I really liked that Jim Butcher's contribution was a Dresden Files story from Molly's point of view. I still read and enjoy the Dresden Files, but one of my biggest nitpicks with it is that Butcher creates all these powerful female characters then seems to go to some pains to show how they are all less powerful than Harry, so it was refreshing to see Molly in her element and from her own pov. The Lev Grossman story was another example of how I like Lev Grossman's writing, but that he has never written a single character that I didn't think could be improved by the application of a partially defrosted haddock to the face. The Joe Abercrombie and Robin Hobb (dottie old women getting a new lease of life in an AU dystopia, squee!) contributions made me want to give both authors another shot.

I ended up really enjoying the historical fiction stories about female Russian fighter pilots during WWII, Constance of Sicily, and Nora, daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine (not in the same story, obviously). I think that part of the reason I've been having so much trouble getting into what I've been reading recently, is that I've been reading SF/F almost exclusively and I really should read more historical fiction, or literary, or crime fiction, just to break things up a bit. On this note, if anyone has any recs for fiction about interesting women of history (real or not) I'd love to hear them.

The Princess and the Queen --

Okay, obviously anyone suggesting that we should chain GRRM to a keyboard and only feed him if he meets a minimum daily wordcount is being an arse and should kindly shut up. But. But, if he's writing anyway, and he's writing in the ASOIAF universe anyway, and he's got the show coming up behind him (I know S4 is only covering the latter part of ASoS, but the trailers have reminded me how little the plot actually advances over the course of AFfC and ADwD) then I really think he ought to be spending that time writing The Winds of Winter.

But if he was going to write a historical novella I would much rather have had this than another Dunk and Egg instalment or heaven forfend, The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion bloody Lannister. Because I was interested in The Dance of the Dragons, and fascinating Targaryen women are one of my niche interests in this universe. Maybe Aegon isn't a fake? Maybe he really is a Targaryen dude? Maybe that's why he's so utterly, utterly uninteresting to me?

But mainly two things:

1) Writing it as an historical account written by a maester years later was an interesting exercise in structure, but also made it seem like any halfway decent fanfiction writer could have tackled this, and seriously, George, Winds of Winter?

2) The dragon-riders, and the way the dragons were used in battle was a bit Temeraire-like, Temeraire-lite? And I had always liked the idea that the dragons had died out over a century or so as magic left the world and they became increasingly difficult to hatch. So the reveal that despite being nigh on un-killable, they were, to the last dragon, killed off in this super convenient Targaryen civil war felt a bit... contrived.

So, yes, it was good from a completionist point of view, but mainly... Winds of Winter?
netgirl_y2k: (fire cannot kill a dragon)
Elantris - Brandon Sanderson
The Rapture of the Nerds - Cory Doctorow & Charles Stross
Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie


I've been slow to get off the mark with reading things this year, nothing was really catching my interest. Usually, I really love my kindle, but when you're having trouble deciding what to read there's something singularly uninspiring about a big long list of titles, especially when you can't remember what half of them are or why you wanted to read them in the first place.

Sometimes you just want to judge a book by its cover, you know? To that end I've been reading the paperbacks I got for Christmas.

I liked Elantris well enough, but it was Brandon Sanderson's first published book, and you know how you sometimes go back to read an early book by someone whose later work you enjoy, and the rough edges seem really obvious? It had a lot of reoccurring narrative tics that I'd encountered in Sanderson's later stuff - like a romance between an ordinary person and someone with nigh on godlike powers. I always like Sanderson's worldbuilding and magical systems, which I find endearingly coherent, even if here I find them... slighter than I did in Mistborn or Warbreaker.

The one thing that did annoy me in Elantris was the female protagonist, Sarene, or rather the trope she inhabits where she's convinced she is irredeemably unattractive because she's, um... tall and a bit strident, and that she's doomed to be alone forever, all the while the male hero and the male antagonist and probably some others too are falling hopelessly in love with her. It's just -- I'm not against having unattractive women in media, indeed I think it's actually pretty important that we do, just let them be genuinely unattractive, and stop pretending that unattractive and endearingly clumsy are even in the vicinity of being the same thing.

In conclusion, if you want to start reading Brandon Sanderson might I be so bold as to suggest starting with Warbreaker, which was by far the best of the two stand-alones I have read.

My sister got me The Rapture of the Nerds, and I really ought to have given her my too-buy list to work from, or at the very least taken it back and swapped it for something else. I would have done, too, except that I'd already used the receipt to return the Tom Holt book she gave me. I think she went into Waterstones and got book recommendations from someone who likes SF/F like me, but is much more into, um, boy-books I guess I'd call them, than I am.

Anyway, The Rapture of the Nerds, christ on a cupcake this was awful. You know how people will sometimes recommend Good Omens on the grounds that it gets you the best of Pratchett and the best of Gaiman, and that's actually true, I put my indifference to it entirely down to the fact that I don't care for Gaiman. The Rapture of the Nerds is the worst of Stross and Doctorow, and is little more than self-indulgent, meandering, incoherent claptrap. Very much not recommended.

Ancillary Justice was the first book of the year that I've really liked and found super interesting. The main character was once a spaceship, and also simultaneously thousands of bodies slaved to the ships AI, and after she, spaceship her (see, already it's interesting; and I am in awe of the author for being able to keep this up for however many hundred pages) is destroyed she's left with one human body. The other really interesting thing is that the dominant human culture in the book has no concept of gender, there are men and women, of course, but it defaults to female pronouns - she and her - for everyone. And what I found really fascinating about this was, right, I got that Breq is biologically female, and that Seviarden and the Lord of the Radch were biologically male, but I hadn't a clue as to whether the rest of the characters were men or women -- and it mattered not a whit, and didn't affect the plot in any way. I frickin' loved that. Highly recommended.

I've also been dipping in and out of Paul Cornell's London Falling (tbh, I've been dipping in and out of it since mid-December). I don't know why it hasn't been grabbing me, it's a perfectly good book (and if you're into diversity in urban fantasy you should probably read it) but I keep putting it down to read other things and feeling no pressing need to pick it back up. Maybe I'm just not in the mood for urban fantasy, or Rivers of London fulfils any need I have for "characters use traditional police methods to investigate the supernatural". Btw, if anyone knows of any UK set urban fantasies that don't take place in Bloody London they should tell me about them; if I want to read about the special-specialness of the Greater London area I'd pick up a newspaper.

Anyway, I'm like three quarters of the way through it so perhaps I'll try to push through it before I start something new; which will be Life after Life, The Doomsday Book or The Lies of Locke Lamora if anyone particularly recs or anti-recs any of them.
netgirl_y2k: (kahlan white dress)
Well, it's nearly year's end, and I doubt I'll finish another book. Yuletide fics to read, three seasons of Breaking Bad still to watch, and I've horribly stalled about a quarter of the way through London Falling.

A big long list of books )

-That's 71 books, minus 14 rereads, 57 new books. And let us all pretend that I didn't just use the calculator function on my phone to do that sum. Maybe next year less reading and more, like, sudoku.

-That's eighteen female authors to fourteen male, give or take a couple of cases where the names are ambiguous, plus that includes the likes of Jacqueline Carey and Naomi Novik where I read, like, nine of their books apiece. I don't know, I worked it out because I was talking to someone the other week about how I am ridiculously fussy about female characters in the media I consume, but I don't tend to pay much attention to what's going on behind the curtain, so to speak.

-If I had to pick five of these books to recommend without reservation they would be:
Tooth and Claw - Jo Walton
The Rook - Daniel O'Malley
A Natural History of Dragons - Marie Brennan
Bedlam - Christopher Brookmyre
The Martian - Andy Weir
netgirl_y2k: (sansa wolf girl)
First, I would like to say that I object to this question in the strongest possible terms, because how do you even begin to answer it--

Actually, I remember being asked in a job interview once what my most influential book was, which was a bit of a wtf question. Admittedly, I was interviewing for a job as a bookseller, so it wasn't just like I had a particularly opaque interviewer, although I've had my share of those too. I once had somebody ask me which historical figure I identified with the most strongly, and I was just sitting there desperately thinking: don't say Doctor Who, don't say Doctor Who, don't say Doctor Who.

I've talked before about how I find Tolkien the next thing to unreadable, but at the same time being exposed to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as a wee thing set my imagination on fire, and I directly credit it for my lifelong love of reading, and stories, and genre fiction. The other thing I remember my dad reading to me when I was tiny was White Fang; my dad, best dad in the world, but totally unprepared for fatherhood, hence the slightly esoteric choice of bedtime story material.

There's Crime and Punishment which took me an entire summer to read but taught me that some "difficult" books are well worth the effort -- this was as opposed to Moby Dick, which taught me that some really aren't.

My best friend, actually, only reads, like, five books a year, but they're all classics; I read more like fifty, but a lot of them are about spaceships or dragons. And both of those are excellent ways to read; it's like those people who judged adults for reading Harry Potter, anyone who judges you for not reaching some imaginary heights of literary merit is a tosser of the highest order.

There are those books that I'll recommend to anyone who'll stand still and listen long enough to let me. Death and the Penguin, yeah, it's a metaphorical penguin, but the best bit is that it's also a real penguin! Tooth & Claw, see, you don't understand, there are dragons wearing top hats, regency dragons!

There's High Fidelity, which I read so many times when I was working retail that I probably could have recited it from memory; although no one in High Fidelity ever got punched in the throat by a middle aged customer the week before Christmas because she couldn't find the Best of Rod Stewart.

There's Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks, which I'd love for the title alone, even if it wasn't set in Glasgow at a thinly disguised version of where I went to university, and wasn't about what a crock of shit so-called psychics are; as such it delights me on multiple levels.

There are any number of the Discworld books - of the top of my head Guards! Guards! the very first Discworld book I ever read; Monstrous Regiment femslash! Girls disguised as boys!; anything featuring the witches - which I can dip into any time I'm feeling down, and know that they'll pick me up.

Yes, this is mostly a whistle-stop tour of books I have loved through my life for various reasons, but--

In conclusion: books!
netgirl_y2k: (Default)
[personal profile] havocthecat wanted me to make a bit of a sales pitch for the Kushiel's Legacy books, since we like a lot of the same media, and since I've talked so much about my affection for them this year.

A few things first, I'm pretty sure the marketing for these books was borked in some way, because prior to them being recommended by a trusted source this year I had picked them up numerous times only to quickly put them down again, going yeah, no. I read the first three books over the course of a month in, I think, February this year, which was when I was still knee-deep in grief and loss of purpose, and was failing to deal with being the owner of an exciting new anxiety disorder; I mention this because sometimes the right books find you at the right time, and I think this was one of those times.

Finally, I am not always good at explaining why I like something, as opposed to why it irks me, but... here is an incomplete list of things I like about the Kushielverse, things you might like too if you are of similar tastes and sensibilities.

Kushiel's Legacy )
netgirl_y2k: (power is power)
Which is a tricksy one, because disappointing isn't the same as bad. Bad books are fine, you just don't read them, the world is full of good books that you haven't read yet. Disappointing books are ones that you desperately want to like, or used to like, or feel that you should like.

I mean, I could talk about The Lord of the Rings, which my dad read to me as a bedtime story when I was a wee tiny thing; dad loves sci-fi and fantasy and became a father somewhat unexpectedly, hence the slightly unusual choice of bedtime reading. The first thing I ever remember memorising word perfect wasn't a song or my times-tables, it was One ring to rule them all, One ring to find them, One ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them. I remember receiving a copy of The Hobbit for my seventh birthday, and my primary school teacher saying ...And when you're older you'll read a book called The Lord of the Rings, and me sitting there all child-smug going, Way ahead of you, lady. I hold LotR directly responsible for my lifelong love of stories and words, and of genre fiction in particular. Dad reading it to me when I was all snuggled up under a My Little Pony bedspread is one of my happiest childhood memories. Which is why I am always so disappointed when I try to revisit it as an adult and find it turgid to the point of being unreadable. I always suspected dad of doing some judicious editing - he wasn't singing me songs in Elvish, or anything - but I usually get to round about the Tom Bombadil bit when I realise that it isn't the Tolkien I'm nostalgic for, it's being five, and having a pink My Little Pony bedspread, and having my dad tell me bedtime stories about Gollum.

I could talk about those books that everyone else seems to like, so I feel like the fault must lie with me. I always feel somehow guilty that Neil Gaiman's fiction falls so utterly flat with me, especially as all his non-fiction makes me think he's a smart, articulate, interesting dude. I feel like there's some sort of imaginary umpire in the sky is docking geek points from me when I say: No, not even The Sandman. I find The Princess Bride, both book and movie, to be almost inexcusably awful. I used to be a member of a book group, which I realised wasn't for me when I was the only one who's reaction to The Time Traveller's Wife was that the characters should shove their creepy as fuck romance, and ludicrous upper middle class non-jobs somewhere the sun doesn't shine.

I could talk about how the recent Discworld books, and how they make me deeply sad that the heyday of that series is well past; but under the circumstances that would be churlish. Or I could talk about think of the mortgage writing, which is what I call it when the first one or two books in a series have obviously been loved, and angsted over, and are the author's baby. But then as the series progresses things fall apart a bit; deadlines, publishers, lack of an overarching story, oh god, think of the mortgage. The Moirin trilogy, the third Rivers of London instalment, that interminable Australian Temeraire book. But, then, it's not like I've never done a half-arsed job of something for the sake of the paycheck, so, again, slightly churlish.

I could talk about The Mists of Avalon and how I've never managed to read more than the first two hundred pages of it, and how it really frustrates me. Stories about the women of Arthurian legend were for a long time everything I wanted, and when I told people this they said: Ah, you want the Mists of Avalon, which is, agh, because I probably do-- except less dated, and second-wave, and essentially unreadable to me.

Basically, I am disappointed in a lot of books, but it comes from a place of love.
netgirl_y2k: (Default)
...which I just happen to have recently finished reading.

Raising Steam )
netgirl_y2k: (power is power)
The Rook - Daniel O'Malley
Good Omens - Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman (re-read)
Curtsies & Conspiracies - Gail Carriger
Farthing - Jo Walton
Ha'penny - Jo Walton
Half a Crown - Jo Walton
Pirate Cinema - Cory Doctorow


The Rook I picked up almost at random in town when I found myself unexpectedly presented with one of those rare afternoons where you've nothing to do but have a lingering lunch by yourself with a book; lovely. And I fell quickly in love with it, I actually googled the author's website to see if he's writing a second one (he is! I hope he writes a series of ten.) It's about the magical equivalent of MI5 in Britain, but what makes it really clever is that the protagonist, Myfanwy Thomas starts the book surrounded by dead bodies with no idea of what's happened or who she is, and it turns out that her past self knew her memory was going to be erased at some point and left letters for her successor guiding her through her life, which I thought was a really neat twist in the newcomer to a magical underworld trope. It's also hilarious in places, it's well worth reading just for the chapter about the accidental murder of Britain's only prophetic duck. Highly recommended.

I liked Good Omens more this time than I when I first read it, but-- The thing is I keep trying with Gaiman, because I so want to like him, and I somehow imagine the fact that his prose does nothing for me is a flaw on my part, that I must be missing something, rather than it purely being a matter of taste, which is ludicrous. Ah, Neil, we'll always have The Doctor's Wife.

I continue to be charmed by Gail Carriger's Finishing School series, I think I actually like it more than I did The Parasol Protectorate, or maybe I just warmed to Sophronia more as protagonist more than I did Alexia. The lack of focus on romance thus far hasn't hurt either, although that said the romance I'm most interested to see play out is the one between Sidheag Maccon and Captain Niall.

After being delighted by Tooth & Claw earlier this year I decided it was a worthwhile pursuit to read, well, basically anything Jo Walton has ever set down on paper, and I swallowed her Small Change trilogy whole. Small Change )

Pirate Cinema is a near future-- well, it's not quite a dystopia. It's all about copyright infringement, and piracy, and remix culture, and whether or not the internet is becoming a basic human right, and it has interesting things to say about all these things. But it has one huge problem -- our protagonist Cecil runs away from home after he gets his family's internet cut-off through his downloading, he almost immediately falls in with a gang of Artful Dodger types, ends up living in a squat like a palace, and eating like a king out of Waitrose skips -- and any intelligent point the books has to make about corporations buying laws and disproportionate punishments for copyright infringement get kind of lost under the happy homelessness fantasy.
netgirl_y2k: (fire cannot kill a dragon)
It is Halloween, and as such I am in my bedroom with the lights off, snuggled under a duvet, cunningly in costume as a woman who is not at home. Bah Humbug. Hurrah.

So, book report time. I haven't read much this month, and I don't expect to read much next month either, as I will be participating in my own half-arsed version of NaNo, which is writing at least a little something every day. I usually crap out on or around November 3rd, but I really need to crack on with my [community profile] femslashex fic (I'm writing one of those pairings that I like in theory; lots of people seem to like it in theory, but I'm guessing the reason there's no extant fics for them is that it's really fucking hard to make work on paper) and I've other ideas that I've forbidden myself from working on until I get this dratted femslash fic in hand. So, hopefully...?

The Shining Girls - Lauren Beukes
Naamah's Blessing - Jacqueline Carey
Rose Under Fire - Elizabeth Wein
Lunatic Fringe - Allison Moon


I had actual, proper nightmares after reading The Shining Girls. Not that this is unusual, I am squeamish as fuck, but it's usually visual things that trigger them, I am much more sanguine about the written word and books almost never freak me out the same way. But, yes, proper waking up a in cold sweat nightmares after finishing this.

It's about this horrible man called Harper Curtis (well, sort of, mostly it's about the victim who got away and becomes obsessed with catching him; it's equal parts thriller, science fiction, and revenge fantasy) who discovers a house that opens onto different times and he travels through the 20th century murdering what he calls his shining girls, snuffing out their lives before they can fulfil their potential. The murders themselves were awful (hence the nightmares) but they didn't feel sexualised or prurient in the way that a lot of thrillers with male killers and female victims do to me. I also liked (well, perhaps liked is the wrong world) the sheer variety of women that Harper targets, lesbians and transexuals and older women, that's it not all twenty something blonde co-eds. In fact, I think the fact that I approached this as a sci-fi/fantasy novel rather than a thriller is why I enjoyed it more than a lot of reviewers did. It didn't bother me that the house was never really explained, because if you read a lot of genre fiction, well, of course there's a time travelling house, sometimes there just is.

That's me finished the Kushiel books, a series that I had to be slightly talked into reading, but I'm really, really glad I did. I've had a slightly non-great year, and I've hidden from many an oncoming panic attack in fantasy alternative queer France. So, yay.

I have to go with the majority here, and say that I found the Moirin trilogy the weakest of the three. Actually, having come to the end I have to say that I find the biggest problem with the final trilogy to be that it was a trilogy. There's enough material there for one, or maybe two slightly shorter books, but Carey seems to have locked herself into the trilogy format, which means you end up with a book like Naamah's Curse which, despite the fact that I read it about a month ago my brain has already erased and replaced with the summary: Moirin takes a ridiculously forced road trip around the Asian subcontinent, annoying me as she bores me.

But [personal profile] kmo was right that Naamah's Blessing is at least as good as anything in the Imriel trilogy, and I was delighted to see this series that I've enjoyed so much end on a high note, but I'm also okay with Carey not revisiting the world of Terre d'Ange unless she's very seriously struck by inspiration.

One tiny niggle, even by the end I was still finding myself shipping Moirin/Jehanne more than Moirin/Bao, contrived and off screen character death or no. This was partly because I thought they had the most interesting dynamic in the Moirin trilogy, and partly because I thought that in this fantasyland filled with queerness, where it was totally acceptable to have a same-sex consort and adopt some heirs, it was a massive missed opportunity to have three really conventional heterosexual romances as the endgame pairings; but it really is a case of I quibble because I love.

Rose Under Fire is a companion novel to Code Name Verity, although if you haven't read Code Name Verity (and you should; come join me in my emotional devastation) it stands perfectly well alone. It's the story of Rose Justice, American, civilian transport pilot, and aspiring poet, who's captured by the Germans during WWII and spends a winter in the Ravensbrück concentration camp.

Whereas, for me, Code Name Verity was a read all in one go, stay up till half past three, sob like a child-thing, Rose Under Fire was more of a slow burn. Because of the concentration camp setting, it was very difficult to read in places. It'll still break your heart, it'll just do it in more low key, but no less soul destroying, way.

Anyway, both are books that I highly, highly recommend.

Lunatic Fringe I read basically because it was getting towards halloween and there are lesbian werewolves in it. Can I recommend that anyone interested in lesbian werewolves reads Jacqueline Carey's werewolf duology, and that no human with the ability to read ever reads Lunatic Fringe for any reason.

I was going to say that this is why you should always check whether books are self-published before you start them, but that's not fair, because I'm sure there are plenty of well-written, thoughtful, clever self-published books out there, it's just that this is none of them. There are so many things wrong with this. The pacing is fucked, if you promise me lesbian werewolves you damn well better not be beyond the halfway point before you go: oh, and by the by, there are werewolves. It's torturously overwritten to the point where it veers between painful and embarrassing to read. It's preachy as fuck; look, I'm all for having progressive themes in fiction, I think it's one of the things speculative fiction can do better than any other genre, but if you're stopping the action to have one of your characters give the dictionary of the kyriarchy (seriously, and what the actual fuck?) you need to tone it down several million notches at least until you hit the subtlety of a brick through a window.

So, yeah, it turns out there is a limit to the media I will consume for the sake of lesbians. Who knew?

Booklog

Sep. 26th, 2013 11:37 pm
netgirl_y2k: (Default)
Naamah's Curse - Jacqueline Carey
The Folly of the World - Jesse Bullington
Small Gods - Terry Pratchett (reread)


Two books in five weeks is a bit rubbish for me, but, gosh, both of these were hard going. It's not even that either of them were bad, if they'd been bad or offensive or anything I could have abandoned them, they were just so relentlessly... meh. Like I'd read half a page and go "that was nice, but I think I'm going to go pair my socks or organise my receipts" then not pick them up again for another three days.

Two books, more than a thousand pages combined, and not a single plot worth the name between them.

Okay, Naamah's Curse, the first problem with this is that there is no noticeable story, it's largely a protracted meander around the Asian subcontinent in the company of Carey's least engaging protagonist. The second problem is Moirin herself - okay, if you know me at all you'll know that I am not in the habit of calling female characters Mary Sues, but my god Moirin - I know the first trilogy was about Phedre being the chosen of a god, but seriously that was one god, Moirin has turned into some sort of free range chosen one who gets drafted by whatever local deities happen to be in need at any given moment. Then there's the fact that everybody she meets falls in love with her, and while it's true that all of Carey's protagonists have suffered from that a bit, between her soulbond with Bao and all the healing sex she has, Moirin is just piling trope I hate on top of trope I hate. Admittedly, the soulbond stuff was less annoying than I was expecting it to be, but only because Moirin and Bao were separated for most of the book. Poor Bao, it's not really his fault I dislike him, and I could almost forgive him for not feeling like a real person if he and Moirin weren't the third really conventional heterosexual main pairing in a row in books otherwise filled with queerness. Oh, and I can't tell you how annoyed I was that Jehanne was killed off screen, it's not just that I liked her (although I did) or that her relationship with Moirin was the only one where I didn't feel like it was forced (although...) but that her dying in childbirth felt so cheap and contrived.

I'm going to read the last book, partly because I've read eight of nine and it feels churlish to stop at this point, partly because I've been assured it's better, and partly because I'm hoping we will finally get back to the spoiled D'Angeline nobles summoning demons plot that I was getting quite into before it was abandoned in favour of a forced and drawn out field trip around Asia.

The Folly of the World suffers from the same problem, namely a complete and utter lack of plot. Okay, there were a couple of things I liked about this one, I liked that Sander was gay, and yet it's not a book about him being gay; he's mostly insane and beset by demons and impersonating a member of the Dutch aristocracy, he's just doing all that while being gay. And I found Sander's relationship with Jolanda affecting, in fact the bit where he saves her life was the bit where I thought this might turn into a page turner, sadly an effect that only lasted for three pages. But mostly this was just a mass of pointless, plotless surrealism and dropped plot threads where three vaguely dislikable people did very little slowly in fifteenth century Holland. Very much not recommended.
netgirl_y2k: (annie strong)
Railsea - China Mieville
Looking for Jake and Other Stories - China Mieville
The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. JK. Rowling)
Flesh Wounds - Chris Brookmyre
Empire of Ivory - Naomi Novik
Victory of Eagles - Naomi Novik
Tongues of Serpents - Naomi Novik
Crucible of Gold - Naomi Novik
Blood of Tyrants - Naomi Novik
Broken Homes - Ben Aaronovitch
The Suicide Shop - Jean Teule


Railsea is a riff off of Moby Dick, except instead of a whale there's a giant mole, and instead of a ship at sea there's a train on an ocean of rails, and instead of gradually sapping me of the will to live it's actually highly readable. I liked it a lot.

I often have a lot of trouble getting into collections of short stories, even by authors I really like, and Looking for Jake was no exception. Like all short story collections the quality was variable, some of them were excellent, full of the glorious weirdness that Mieville so excels at, some of them felt like half-formed ideas that needed some more time in the oven, and one or two had me missing Moby Dick.

On the one hand, I think it sucks that JK Rowling was outed as the author of The Cuckoo's Calling if she didn't want to be. Actually, I applaud her experiment to see how her writing would be received under a pseudonym, because seriously, if I had made anything like Harry Potter money I would be reclining on a beach my own private island having drinks with little umbrellas brought to me by members of the Swedish women's football team. On the other hand, I'm glad she was revealed as the author, because I wouldn't have picked it up otherwise, the hardboiled PI genre isn't one I'd ever seek out, and I ended up really liking it. And once you know Rowling's the author it does have a lot her writing tics, both the good (lots of subtext about class issues) and the bad (phonetic spellings of accents.)

I haven't been the biggest fan of Brookmyre's straight crime Jasmine Sharpe books, but Flesh Wounds really worked as a way to resolve the overarching mystery and reveal the connections between the three main characters. I'd actually like to read them again now that all three are out. That said, I hope he leaves it at a trilogy and gets back to writing his more satirical novels.

You know, given that I'm still not entirely sure whether I like the Temeraire books or not I sure read a lot of them in quick succession. They are quick fun reads, but aside from that there's as much stuff I don't like about them as there are things I like. I like the relationships between dragons and their captains, I like the secondary characters (human and dragon, both), and the napoleonic war setting and the descriptions of how dragons are used in battle. I am frustrated by the slightly forced world-tour (Australia in particular was a dire read) and how the fact that we're rarely in the same place for more than half a book makes the world-building seem miles broad and inches deep, and how it separates what really should be the core group of characters. But I'll definitely continue reading them. Am I right in thinking the next one is the last one?

Broken Homes is the latest Rivers of London book, and it has the same strengths and weaknesses as the previous books, the characters and the London setting are brilliantly drawn, and Peter's geeky flippant narration is a delight. But like in the previous books the plot is a bit meandering and forgettable. I know Aaronovitch is building up to his big confrontation with the Faceless Man, but the pacing of the individual books is a bit... wonky. And as for the big twist at the end, well I'm withholding judgement till the next book.

Now that I'm up to date with Temeraire and Rivers of London anyone have any recommendations for book series (fantasy/sci-fi/urban fantasy) that I can throw myself into?

The Suicide Shop is a near future novella about a family run shop that sells the accoutrements of suicide, and the endlessly optimistic younger son who wants to turn it into a crepe restaurant. I generally like satire and black humour, but I get the feeling that this lost a certain something in translation from the French. Ah well, it only cost a quid and took half an afternoon to read, so no great loss.
netgirl_y2k: (Default)
Naamah's Kiss - Jacqueline Carey
Bring Up the Bodies - Hilary Mantel
The Throne of Jade - Naomi Novik
Black Powder War - Naomi Novik
Blackbirds - Chuck Wendig
The Year Of The Flood - Margaret Atwood


I was warned that the third Kushiel trilogy was the weakest of the three, which judging only by Naamah's Kiss appears to be true, that said I did like it. I liked Moirin as protagonist slightly more than Imriel and slightly less than Phèdre. The pacing was slightly off, I thought, it took a long time for the plot to get going. Which, actually, I didn't mind because I liked the bits where Moirin was hanging around the City of Elua getting a feel for the place and having an affair with the queen far more than I liked her adventures in Chin. And I do seem to be continuing my habit of liking the background pairings in these books far more than the main ones. I mean, I sort of knew Moirin/Jehanne wasn't going to be endgame, and I was enjoying Moirin's relationship with Bao right up until the end where he became the other half of her soul or whatever and just... ugh, which was why I didn't go straight on to the next one.

Bring Up The Bodies was excellent. I'm just not sure it deserved All The Awards, especially as Wolf Hall had already won All The Awards. But I do have crazy amounts of respect for Hilary Mantel as a woman who is clearly smart as a whip and who got unfairly lambasted and wilfully misunderstood when the British press mistook themselves for the PR wing of the royal family.

I had really, really enjoyed the first Temeraire book. But even then I wasn't sure if it was an idea that was going to stretch to seven books. And, frankly, I'm not convinced it stretched to two. Not that Throne of Jade or Black Powder War were bad, not at all. They just got very same-y, very quickly. It's still a series I'll probably go back to, just with slightly revised expectations.

Blackbirds is about a woman who can see how people die by touching them. Wasn't there an X-Files episode with that hook? There are no new stories. But this was fun, and exciting, and in places gory as fuck. I liked it a lot.

I read The Year of the Flood without realising that it was a tie-in novel for Oryx and Crake which I haven't read, and mostly it didn't matter, except right at the end when I think the two dovetailed quite neatly. Still, I liked it-- I always enjoy Atwood's dystopias, even though they scare the living daylights out of me.
netgirl_y2k: (dragon queen)
Zoo City - Lauren Beukes
Divergent - Veronica Roth
For The Win - Cory Doctorow
A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent - Marie Brennan
The Snowman - Jo Nesbo
Temeraire (a.k.a His Majesty's Dragon) - Naomi Novik
Tooth and Claw - Jo Walton


Zoo City I liked a lot, and not only because there was a sloth in it. I liked the grungey near-future Johannesburg setting, and I liked that being animalled (stuck with your very own personal magic animal who you can't be separated from on pain of pain) is something that happens as a punishment for being involved in a murder, and the animalled are oppressed and ostracised by society, because in so many books it would be the exact opposite; the special thing that only happens to the special people. And I found the end gut-wrenchingly bittersweet. But I'm not going to lie, largely I like it because there was a sloth in it.

Divergent, on the other hand, I did not like at all. I'm sure I'm being unfair, because it had been recommended to me as being like The Hunger Games, and it just does not come out of that comparison well. The protagonist escapes being insufferable only by virtue of being so flat, the pacing is weird, the dystopia was unconvincing (okay, the idea that society would force children to fight to the death on telly for kicks is pretty inherently unbelievable too, but while THG hits the ground running and is so convinced of its own premise that it gets away with it, Divergent is just... tepid by comparison.) Yeah, not going to read the next one.

For The Win with its near future setting, virtual economies, and themes of the internet being every bit as real as the real world in some ways, and unionising to survive pushed every geeky, lefty button in my body. Highly recommended.

Despite having been singularly ungrabbed by the only other Marie Brennan I'd read (the first Onyx Court book, a couple of months back) I picked up A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent mostly because of the title and the cover, I'll admit. And I know you're not meant to judge a book by its cover and all that, but in this case I'm glad I did. It's the first instalment of a fictional autobiography by a pseudo-Regency lady dragon naturalist, and it's brilliant, I hope there's going to be more. Okay, it's possible I liked the concept more than the storytelling, but it's such a fricking cool concept!

Then I took a break to read a Scandinavian thriller in the form of the The Snowman which was... fine, I think. I finished it, at least. This is what's known as damning with faint praise, isn't it?

I bought the first Temeraire book yonks ago when the kindle store was having a 99p sale, then didn't read it because age of sail doesn't do much for me. But I was surprised by how much I loved this. I really liked Temeraire and his relationship with Laurence, and I thought there was something very old school slashy about it, a bit strange perhaps when one of them is a thirty tonne dragon, but cool none-the-less. I'm definitely going to come back to this series, but I'll probably space them out as I think all in one go the boy-ness of it would get to me.

Okay, if Temeraire was age of sail with dragons, Tooth and Claw is a Victorian comedy of manners with dragons. What's astonishing is that it works, there are marriages and inheritances, and hats and tea, and the characters are thirty feet long and sleep on piles of gold, and it all works. Highly recommended.
netgirl_y2k: (bo/tamsin)
I Shall Wear Midnight - Terry Pratchett (reread)
Heroines and Harridans: A Fanfare of Fabulous Females - Sandi Toksvig
Kushiel's Scion - Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel's Justice - Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel's Mercy - Jacqueline Carey


Wow, I am reading really slowly (for me) this year. Not entirely sure why. Anyway, I Shall Wear Midnight was the end of my Tiffany Aching re-read, and I liked Tiffany so much more this time, I think because I read her books in the right order. It also makes me a little sad, because I think it's the last one before Pratchett's mental deterioration becomes impossible to ignore.

Heroines and Harridans was a birthday present from somebody who obviously knows me too well, I would read or listen to anything Sandi Toksvig has to say about anything, and under appreciated women throughout history? Yes, please! When I was getting anxious about my trip I self-medicated with this book (also wine and beta blockers, but don't underestimate the power of the book.)

Under the cut I shall blether on at length about the second Kushiel trilogy )

April Books

May. 1st, 2013 11:14 pm
netgirl_y2k: (scary bunny)
The Wee Free Men - Terry Pratchett (reread)
A Hat Full of Sky - Terry Pratchett (reread)
Wintersmith - Terry Pratchett (reread)
Bedlam - Christopher Brookmyre
Bareback - Kit Whitfield
Midnight Never Come - Marie Brennan


Obligatory Discworld reread this month was the Tiffany Aching books, and now I feel I really must read I Shall Wear Midnight next, so as I've done the full set.

Bedlam is Christopher Brookmyre's first science fiction book (unless you count Pandaemonium, which I don't in any way except vaguely wondering if it was cruel, getting those monkeys drunk and forcing them to write the end of his book) but this one was really, really good. The premise is what if one day you woke up inside a video game. There's also a lot of interesting stuff about could technology ever get sufficiently advanced to make a copy of the human mind, then would that copy qualify as alive and who would have ownership of it. But mostly it is about waking up one day inside a video game-- The only thing is, I know less than nothing about gaming, it's just not my brand of geekery, and I don't think it affected my enjoyment of the book, but there were likely a few injokes and Oh! moments that I missed.

Bareback is about werewolves, and like a lot of people I am sick to the back teeth of werewolves, but the twist in this one is that 99% of the population are werewolves, and the 1% that aren't are the oppressed minority charged with managing the others at full moon time. Really liked the worldbuilding and the mystery plot was solid as well. Highly recommended. Did think it had kind of an unfortunate title, though.

Midnight Never Come is about a secret court of fae underneath Elizabethan London, and it was... fine. One of those books that you finish and then go, Well... that was a book that I... read. There's apparently a whole series of them but it's definitely a case of if and when I trip over them in the library.
netgirl_y2k: (Default)
March was one of those months where I realised that there are more books that I want to read than I will ever be able to even if I did nothing else, panicked, and regressed to my childhood.

Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christie (reread)
The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula LeGuin
Maskerade - Terry Pratchett (reread)
Carpe Jugulum - Terry Pratchett (reread)
Tender Morsels - Margo Lanagan


You know, it's lucky I'd read Murder on the Orient Express before, because at least four people saw me reading it and went, "Isn't that the one where--" "Shut up! Shut up! You'll ruin it!"

Hmm, it's probably possible to trace my anxiety levels to what Discworld books I've been reading most recently. Witches of Lancre books, fair to middling stress levels, perfectly manageable. And I got thinking about Agnes|Perdita and how everyone, including Agnes, says that she has a wonderful personality, oh, and good hair. And it was so familiar to me, it's definitely a fat girl thing. One of my earliest memories was being told how funny I was, probably when I was too young to have been particularly amusing. It's something I've been told my whole life, and, yes, I am very droll, but it's only recently that I've found it in me to see it as something good about me, rather than something that was plucked at random from a big box marked Consolation Prizes.

Left Hand of Darkness is one of those books that I always felt slightly guilty about not having read, so I resolved that by reading it. Very interesting and clever (I was expecting nothing less) thought experiment about a planet without gender. The plot was a bit thin on the ground, I thought, but that's probably not really the point.

Tender Morsels is a very loose retelling of Snow White and Rose Red. It's perhaps not for the faint hearted, with rape, incest, and, um, people being attracted to bears, but it also had a lot of interesting things to say about trauma, recovery, and hiding yourself away from the world. But, while the beginning and the end were wonderful and compelling, somebody really needed to take a red pen to the middle, I felt kind of like you could have lifted a hundred pages in the middle out wholesale without it affecting the story.
netgirl_y2k: (Default)
Thank you to everyone who offered advice on my last post about anxiety and panic attacks, it was very helpful, and not that I'm taking pleasure from your misery or anything, but I think there's a certain degree of "you are not alone-ness" that does help.

Between the sudden proliferation of brain-weasels and some kind of mutant flu thing that I still haven't managed to entirely shake most of February vanished right out from under me. The flu I blame in equal parts on Tequila Boy and the Scottish national rugby team.

See, we were watching the six nations and becoming confused by Scotland's sudden ability to win matches (once by playing really quite well against Italy, and once by playing rather badly against an Ireland side who couldn't find the try line with both hands and a map) and there was a lot of uncalled for hugging and sitting with our arms round each other. It turns out that twelve year old baby!lesbian me was right, close physical contact with boys will lead you to a bad end.

So, mostly I have been lying under a duvet, reading and feeling vaguely sorry for myself. Which brings me to my excuse for posting, really, February Booklog.

Kushiel's Dart - Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel's Chosen - Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel's Avatar - Jacqueline Carey
Cold Days - Jim Butcher
So Much Pretty - Cara Hoffman
Etiquette and Espionage - Gail Carriger


So Etiquette and Espionage is a YA prequel to the Parasol Protectorate series, but I don't think you really have to have read the first series to follow this one, apart from the bit where you will be tickled pink when you recognise young Sidheag Maccon and baby Madame Lefoux. Basically it's about an all girls finishing school/secret academy for spies and assassins, with steampunk, and top hat wearing werewolves, and lines like "Who doesn't want an exploding wicker chicken?" I ate it up with a spoon and am already highly anticipating the next one.

So Much Pretty I picked up because of this review which was doing the rounds on tumblr. The review is excellent, the book sadly less so. It jumps around all over the place, different timelines, different tenses, different povs, and the ending is just one twist too far. It's strange, because I think that coming of age moment lots of girls have where you realise that with the best will in the world there will always be those who see you as ever so slightly less human than the boys is something that should be written about more rather than less, but in the end I thought it was an interesting novel, maybe even an important one, but not necessarily a very good one.

Cold Days is the first Dresden Files book I have really enjoyed in, well, quite a few books. It's also the first one in a while, what with Harry's sidestep into being a bit dead, where I felt like the overarching plot was moving on a bit. Although maybe that's just that the fae courts are my favourite part of that world, and I love the idea of Harry and Molly being more involved with them, also that I don't share a large part of the fandom's fascination with Marcone, so I didn't so much clock his absence.

The first Kushiel trilogy I read on a recommendation from a friend, and ended up liking it much more than I was expecting to. They were books I'd passed over before because of the bdsm themes (obligatory disclaimer: making no judgements, etc) but in the end I rattled through them. Loved the characters, adored the worldbuilding, loved that the driving conflict was between the heroine and her fascinatingly Machiavellian female lover. That said, I'm taking a break between the first trilogy and the second because there are lots of dub-con elements in there that, yes, are mostly pretty delicately handled, but after three long books have cumulatively gotten to me, so I'm going to read something completely different next.
netgirl_y2k: (oswin)
Before I Go To Sleep - SJ Watson
World War Z - Max Brooks (reread)
Be My Enemy, or Fuck This For a Game of Soldiers - Christopher Brookmyre (reread)
One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night - Christopher Brookmyre (reread)
It's All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses An Eye - Christopher Brookmyre (reread)
Not The End of the World - Christopher Brookmyre (reread)
The Casual Vacancy - JK Rowling


Mostly rereads this month, I decided to ease my way into the year with tales of zombies, amazing self-decapitating ninjas, and glasgow grannies co-opted into shadowy underground organisations. As this is the second - and in the case of Be My Enemy the, like, fourth or fifth - time I've read these you can consider them all pre-recommended. Actually, the only one that hasn't held up quite as well as the others is Not The End of the World; it's still pretty good, and the observation that anyone in the West of Scotland supporting anyone other than Rangers or Celtic is considered to be displaying a perverse interest in football rather than the matter at hand: bigotry, is still one of my favourite Brookmyre lines, but it's set in 1999 and Millenium hysteria is a big theme in it so it's, ah, showing its age somewhat.

Of the two that I hadn't read before Before I Go To Sleep is pretty much your average meh thriller, and I spent far too much of it considering that a type of amnesia that erases your memory every twenty-four hours but otherwise doesn't impair your cognitive function is very.... um, narratively convenient.

I really, really liked The Casual Vacancy, I mean obviously very different from her Harry Potter books - except, I think, they were similar stylistically in a way that made them easy to read - and I sort of knew from seeing interviews with her that JK Rowling was interested in classism. And I didn't think all the characters were unsympathetic at all, in many case they were petty and awful and, you know, Tory, but they all felt very real. And I thought Andrew, Suhkvinder and Krystal especially were incredibly sympathetic. So, yeah, I liked it a lot.

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