hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
First things first, the work news is that I did find a job. It's working the phones in a call center - excuse me, contact center  - and I do not like it but it goes by quick and pays rather well, so there's that. Seeing as I was out of money, I can't complain too much. Also studying web development and WordPress development and hoping to maybe get some freelance work, along with trying for some freelance writing work but no one's biting yet. *sigh* Who signed me up for this 'being an adult' nonsense and what were they thinking?

What Am I Reading

What I Just Finished Reading:
Non-Stop Till Tokyo by K.J. Charles. A young woman threatened by theYakuza must go on the run and try to find a way to prove who the real culprit is. It's an early work and it shows, and while the idea is interesting I thought the overall plot felt a little too thin.

Charmed and Dangerous, edited by Jordan Castillo Price. It's an anthology of LGBT paranormal fiction, and overall quite good. A couple of stories fell below the bar but the rest I really enjoyed. (Yes, yes, there's a Whyborne & Griffin short in there, but it doesn't count because I'd already read it. Right?) Worth checking out, certainly.

Fallow (Whyborne & Griffin #8), by Jordan L. Hawk. Like most of the rest of the readership I'm going to start with this, just to get it off my chest: ugh, that cover. I know the author's thrilled with it, and I did think through whether I was just reacting because it was new or because I genuinely don't like it and...I genuinely don't like it. I liked the originals better. Anyway, now that's done...

Goodreads Summary: When a man from Griffin’s past murders a sorcerer, the situation grows even more dire. Once a simple farmer from Griffin’s hometown of Fallow, the assassin now bears a terrifying magical corruption, one whose nature even Whyborne can’t explain. To keep Griffin’s estranged mother safe, they must travel to a dying town in Kansas. But as drought withers the crops of Fallow, a sinister cult sinks its roots deep into the arid soil. And if the cult’s foul harvest isn’t stopped in time, Fallow will be only the first city to fall.

It's easy to overlook because Whyborne is generally more dramatic about things but Griffin has a much more screwed up past. That becomes even more apparent when we get to Fallow, which is a spiteful little place just overflowing with pettiness and homophobia. Yeah, fun. I'd raise an eyebrow at the museum letting Christine and Iskander go along on pretense of an archaeological expedition except that since Bloodline it's been made pretty clear that, in Widdershins, Whyborne's wishes are to be respected. Particularly after the events of Maelstrom. The book is ok, but it's not my favorite out of the series, or even the strongest of the 'away' novels. (That would be Necropolis.) The next book, Draakenwood, is out in 2017 and I'm definitely curious about that one since we've been getting hints about the nature of the Draakenwood since the first book but never gone in. In between, I think we're getting a short story about Persephone and Miss Parkhurst.

The Just City, by Jo Walton. The Greek gods Athena and Apollo create a city based on Plato's Republic and populate it with people drawn from different periods of time. I liked the concept, and I liked seeing how the city developed. The side plot with the robot workers was fascinating and I wish it had gotten more page time. But I found it hard to track what was going on because every single character's voice was the same, and no one really ever expressed any emotions. They were like that even before they got to the city or else I would see it as a result of trying to enforce conformity. As it is, it just read like flawed writing.

Blood of Elves, by Andrzej Sapkowski. Not enough Geralt. Too much Triss and Yennefer.

What I'm Reading Now: Just finished Blood of Elves before writing this so I haven't picked anything else up yet. Utopia, maybe?

What I'm Reading Next: Probably something I've read before. It makes it easier when you're reading between calls because you know you won't have an uninterrupted train of thought for more than a few minutes at best.
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
I've honestly been terrible about keeping track of what I've been reading, so let's just start this off with what I'm reading now: The Republic of Thieves, by Scott Lynch, third book in The Gentlemen Bastards series. I'm riiiight about the point where I usually get my heart ripped out and stomped on so now it's just a matter of waiting.

What I'm Reading Next: Hopefully finishing The Kingdom of the Gods by N.K. Jemisin. I went through the first two books in the series really fast, but I just can't get into this one. I think it's because I don't really like the protagonist. After that, I'm not sure, but at the beginning of August I shall be reading Fallow: Whyborne & Griffin #8 by Jordan L. Hawk. It looks like she's got new models for the covers, and I'm not sure how I feel about them yet. Anyway, it is now available for preorder. It's one of the 'away' books, which usually don't grab me as much, but they are headed to Kansas so hopefully we'll see some resolution for Griffin regarding the distant and recent pasts.
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
Right, so audiobooks aren't really my thing, seeing as I have a set of voices for the characters in my head and spend a lot of audiobooks going BUT THAT'S NOT HOW THEY SOUND! But if they're yours, and you like or are curious about W&G, the author is raffling off 5 copies of the Widdershins audiobook. Here be the link.
hoursgoneby: (hourglass)
What I Just Finished Reading: Rosemary and Rue (October Daye #1), by Seanan McGuire. So I thought I'd read part of the sample for book #2 in the series, but apparently not? I think I must have just dropped everything by the author in my library wishlist and assumed they were part of a series because that's the way they seem to buy books. But Sparrow Hill Road seems to be a one-shot and not part of any other series. Oops.

I wanted to like this book better than I did. Really, I did. There were a lot of reasons I didn't: one is not so much that it isn't terribly original - I mean, I've read literally (:P) thousands of stories at this point and there are only what? seven basic plots? - but that it didn't seem to reach it's potential with a half-human protagonist. The narration just fell flat for me, not that I wanted it to descend into superangst either, but...I don't know. I think it was supposed to be matter of fact but it felt more "...and this." than anything else. The integration of the fae world into the normal world was handled much better by The Dresden Files and Wicked Lovely, and both those series also gave me a much better sense of the city they were set in. In this, everytime I ran across a reference to San Francisco I went "oh, yeah! That's where we are!" Otherwise it could have been Anyplace, North America. It wasn't bad, more mediocre, right up until the end which took a sharp downturn into "was this even edited?" It really seemed like a first draft. I probably would have abandoned the entire book if it had all been like the end.

I went back and reread the Whyborne & Griffin series. They have a tag now. Have I mentioned how much I love Dr. Christine Putnam? She's assertive, direct, confident, and likes to solve problems by shooting and/or hitting things. I want to run off with her and have adventures in punching things.

The No B.S. Guide to Freelance Writing, by Ian Chandler. I got this free through Author's Publish, and while some of the advice in it was decent, I wouldn't have paid for it. Mostly it's anecdotes from the author about how he got into freelance writing and links to other reference sources, with the occasional writing sample. I'm also puzzled as to why someone who's an author would advise you to use a site to generate a resume from a template for you, and to have a general cover letter you can just drop names and keywords into. That's against the advice I've been reading and receiving over the past year. Mind you, none of said advice has done me any good, so maybe I shouldn't talk.

What I'm Reading Now: Sparrow Hill Road, by Seanan McGuire. So far, I'm enjoying this more than Rosemary and Rue. It's not an anthology, but it feels like one, as Rose Marshall, who died in 1952 and has been a phantom hitchhiker ever since, tells you about her encounters with the about-to-be and newly-dead, and how she came to be a ghost herself.  It's definitely an interesting concept, and while Rose is matter-of-fact about being dead, her descriptions of it don't have the same flat "oh, yeah, and..." feeling to them that October's descriptions of being half-fae did. I'm just looking at it warily given how bad the end of Rosemary and Rue was.

What I'm Reading Next: Probably Discount Armageddon, also by Seanan McGuire, seeing as I have to return these to the library in a couple of weeks and don't want to forget about them. Then possibly more of the SERRAted Edge series, and Butterflies (The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, by K.J. Charles. I wasn't sure what to make of Simon when he showed up in a Whyborne & Griffin crossover, so I decided to give him another shot when I found a free short story.
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
What I Just Finished Reading: Remnant: A Caldwell & Feximal/Whyborne & Griffin Mystery (The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, #3; Whyborne & Griffin, #3.5) by by K.J. Charles and Jordan L. Hawk. The bright young things of London are being murdured by magic, and the only clues available are written in Egyptian hieratic. This takes place during W&G's London stopover on their way to Egypt in Necropolis. I did enjoy this, even though I'm not sure how I feel about Caldwell & Feximal yet. Probably because I read it for W&G, and am used to seeing them as the focus of the stories, and I'm not familiar with C&F there was a bit of 'yes, yes, you're very nifty, can we get back to my guys now please?' Perhaps I shall simply have to add a new series to The Stack. Though if The Stack gains a virtual component I may be lost.

Send tea and kittens.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, by Natasha Pulley. Have you ever had a dream where everything in the dream is completely normal while you dream it, but just as you wake up you realize there are things that should be odd but aren't, like the way you're holding a casual conversation with a fictional character, or no one finds it odd that the short man in the bowler hat follows you everywhere? The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is like that, but the thing that should be odd but isn't is a clockwork octopus.

Look, I'm making a hash of this, but the point is that it's wonderful, and dreamlike, and I read it in a sitting and you should too.

Harmony: Whyborne & Griffin #5.5 by Jordan L. Hawk. I know, I thought I was finished everything too! But as I was reading the author's page on Goodreads, I tripped across a link for a W&G Christmas story (available free on her site, the link will take you there - contains spoilers for Bloodlines) so of course I clicked. Griffin sets up a scavenger hunt for Whyborne as part of a Christmas surprise. Now, sometimes I get a touch annoyed with Whyborne's tendancy towards petulance but I damn well sympathized here because I don't like surprise hunts and I don't like being made to guess things.

Case in point, two years ago my husband surprised me with a Valentine's present by getting up on the titular day and exclaiming, "oh, what's this by the bed?" I'm also not a morning person so my first reaction wasn't anything Valentine's related but: "how the fuck should I know? It's on your side!" He thought it was funny, though I felt bad afterwards, but he ought not to surprise me before coffee, really.

Still, it's a nice slice-of-life story overall.

The Chrome Borne (SERRAted Edge #1&4) by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon. You can read this omnibus edition without having read 2&3 and still understand what's going on, have no fear. There are elves who drive race cars and I can't think of a more compelling reason you should read this. (Though I'll admit to having a bias toward long-haired pretties with magic. There, there would really be no point in denying it.)

What I'm Reading Now: The Last Wish (The Witcher #1) by Andrzej Sapkowski. I haven't played the video games based on this, at least not yet, but the book looked very interesting, and it is! This is labeled #1, but it's actually a collection of short stories with what appears to be (I'm halfway through) an underlying narrative somewhat connecting them. It's rather like a grim version of Fractured Fairy Tales, but I like it.

Magic's Pawn (Valdemar: The Last Herald-Mage) by Mercedes Lackey. It's the library's fault. It distracted me. I really really truly this time did mean to work down The Stack but as I said to [personal profile] lucifuge5 the other day, I'm a literary magpie and easily distracted by shiny new books. Oh, and I borrowed the rest in the series too because, well, you can take out up to 5 ebooks at a time, why would I leave with slots empty? I'm not very far in but so far I have a lot of sympathy for Vanyel.
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
Fandom Snowflake Challenge bannerDay 7

In your own space, share a favorite piece of original canon (a TV episode, a song, a favorite interview, a book, a scene from a movie, etc) and explain why you love it so much. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so.

Just this past December - as anyone whose read my 'What Am I Reading' entries knows - I fell in love with Jordan l. Hawk's Whyborne & Griffin series. Turn-of the century, Lovecraftian, town-with-a-dark-secret horror? (And sometimes 'temple with a dark secret', 'lost city with a dark secret'...) Sorcerors, evil cults, Old Gods, couples being sweet at each other while overcoming odds, possibly incoming cosmic horror? It's like someone peeked into my psyche, I swear, then dropped this in front of me.

Which is actually kind of like what happened. I'd been looking at these, debating, then [livejournal.com profile] just_ann_now messaged me to let me know book 1 is available free at Smashwords. It took me a while to get to it, seeing as there are a fair number of sex scenes in each book and I was at my in-laws over the holidays. They wouldn't intentionally read over my shoulder and certainly wouldn't go through my ereader but just in case there are some things I'd rather not explain.

Here's the author's blurb:

Some things should stay buried.

Repressed scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne has two skills: reading dead languages and hiding in his office at the Ladysmith Museum. After the tragic death of the friend he secretly loved, he’s ruthlessly suppressed any desire for another man.

So when handsome ex-Pinkerton Griffin Flaherty approaches him to translate a mysterious book, Whyborne wants to finish the job and get rid of the detective as quickly as possible. Griffin left the Pinkertons following the death of his partner, hoping to start a new life. But the powerful cult which murdered Glenn has taken root in Widdershins, and only the spells in the book can stop them. Spells the intellectual Whyborne doesn’t believe are real.

As the investigation draws the two men closer, Griffin’s rakish charm threatens to shatter Whyborne’s iron control. When the cult resurrects an evil sorcerer who commands terrifying monsters, can Whyborne overcome his fear and learn to trust? Will Griffin let go of his past and risk falling in love? Or will Griffin’s secrets cost Whyborne both his heart and his life?

The first book is very reminiscent of Sarah Monette's Kyle Murchison Booth short stories - not a copy, mind, just the same feeling - but less dark. And with more sex. It moves away from that feeling in books 2 and 3, though.

If you're curious, here's the link to the free copy of book 1, Widdershins.
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
Right, so this year I set my Goodreads reading challenge at 50 books again, and hopefully will manage to meet it this year. So far we're 8 towards fifty, but to be fair it's counting a few short stories in there.

What I Just Finished Reading: Corambis, by Sarah Monette. I'd taken it out to verify something and found myself reading it instead of researching and reshelving. Oops.

Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastard, #2), by Scott Lynch. Man, now I don't know which I like better, this or The Lies of Locke Lamora! Now I want to read the rest of the series not only because it's wonderful and gorgeously written, but to find out if there's a Gentleman Bastard book that doesn't rip my heart out and stomp on it at some point.

Eidolon (Whyborne & Griffin #1.5), by Jordan L. Hawk. Dammit, I am a sucker for couples being sweet at each other while overcoming odds. Toss in some horror on top of that and it's like dangling a string for a kitten, I swear. This is one of the short stories, just a few thousand words long. You can read the rest of the series without having read this, but why would you?

Carousel: A Whyborne & Griffin Short Story, #3.4, by Jordan L. Hawk. Everything in Widdershins has underlying horror. Everything.

Necropolis (Whyborne & Griffin #4), by Jordan L. Hawk. (Are we sensing a theme yet?) Lovecraftian cosmic horror in Egypt! Lots and lots and lots of Christine, too, which makes me happy because I'd just been feeling in Stormhaven that we weren't getting to see enough of her.

Bloodline (Whyborne & Griffin #5), by Jordan L. Hawk. Or, Whyborne & Griffin: The Wham Novel. I was annoyed with Whyborne for much of the book, then the realization of the underlying reasons for his attitude and behaviour set in and I began to understand the reasons. Not excuse, mind, but you begin to get even more of a sense of just how lonely and rejected he's always felt, everywhere. This probably has the strongest and most obvious Lovecraft influence, and if you're familiar with his more famous works you'll probably see where it's going, though it does swerve sharply in tone and message regarding certain characters, and thank god for that.

Hoarfrost, Whyborne & Griffin #6, by Jordan L. Hawk. Whyborne, Griffin, Christine, and Iskander go to Alaska! Whyborne is not pleased - and as it's freaking cold here right now, too, I am in complete sympathy, especially once you get to the decriptions of frontier inns in the early 20th century. This ties back to events in Necropolis and Bloodline, though it's not nearly as intense and heavy in tone as the latter. It's still dark, mind, but you get a bit of a breather.

Maelstrom, Whyborne & Griffin #7, by Jordan L. Hawk. Murderous cults! Mind control! Niles trying very hard to be less of a bastard! I actually thought this was going to be another breather (comparatively) until about 2/3 of the way through then the real crisis of the novel hit. Jesus. I mean, I sort of saw it coming, I just didn't realize it was going to be as intense as it was.

What I'm Reading Now: Last one, I swear: Remnant: A Caldwell & Feximal/Whyborne & Griffin Mystery (The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, #3; Whyborne & Griffin, #3.5), by K.J. Charles and Jordan L. Hawk. I have no idea who Caldwell & Feximal are, and am just going to admit right up front I'm reading it for Whyborne & Griffin. The bright young things of London are being murdured by magic, and the only clues available are written in Egyptian hieratic. This takes place during W&G's London stopover on their way to Egypt in Necropolis. Poor Whyborne: bad enough he hates travel he keeps getting yanked into mysteries. 's what happens when you're marked by occult powers I guess.

The Chrome Borne, by Mercedes Lackey. It's an omnibus edition of the 1st and 4th books in the SERRAted Edge series, which I've never read. Actually, I haven't read a whole lot by Lackey: I can't recall them being in my local public libraries and my school libraries sure as hell weren't going to stock them. Plus, I didn't have any other fantasy fans near me who could rec the books or lend them to me. *settles in rocking chair* You kids today, with your Internet, don't know how good you have it! *gets up* I finally got around to it and oh man, do I love this! Please, are there any more series with elves driving race cars I should know about?

What I'm Reading Next: A lot of fanfic that I've been alerted to but haven't had a chance to read, plus the Star Trek fics [livejournal.com profile] runpunkrun recced to me for Day 2 of the Snowflake Challenge. Then, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and perhaps the 2nd and 3rd novels in The Inheritance Trilogy.
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
What I Just Finished Reading: Ooh, this'll be a long one. We went to visit family for the hols and because I a) don't drive and b) don't care to watch endless marathons of either news or reality TV I spent a lot of time reading. I was also trying to reach my 50 book target for Goodreads this year but...I don't think that's going to happen in 2 days. Still, 5 or 6 shy of the goal isn't bad. Thank god for ereaders: I'd've had to pack a whole other bag for books otherwise.

Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera #1) by Jim Butcher: I don't dislike Jim Butcher's work by any means - I pretty much marathoned all 15 Dresden Files novels in a week not that long ago - but I suspect it'll take me a book or two to get into this series as well, as it did with Dresden Files. I enjoyed the book, certainly, but it felt unfinished. Not surprising, given that it's part of a series, but I can't help feeling that even with a series you should be able to read the individual books without feeling either unfinished or lost. I've still gone ahead and added the 2nd book to my library wishlist to remind me to borrow it when next I log in to borrow some things.

Pretty Polly and Whisper by Barbara Hambly: These two novellas are set in the world of Hambly's Darwath series (originally a trilogy, now encompassing five books and sadly out of print) and are available to purchase from Smashwords, where Hambly sells a number of short stories (Continuing Adventures) for her various series. I was edgy about reading Pretty Polly because I don't like it when bad things happen to animals in books and filmbut the titular cat winds up with a happy ending, to my relief.Whisper felt a little more awkward than Pretty Polly, as if it should have been larger and was cropped down to novella length. The reasons in-story make sense, but I would very much have liked a more intricate plot. The ending felt a little pat too but overall I liked it, though of the two Pretty Polly was my favoriate. It's been a while since I read anything mid-apocalyptic and longer since I read the Darwath series (puts on list) but I was surprised and pleased at how easy it was to drop back into the world.

The Kindred of Darkness by Barbara Hambly: I picked this to reread because I like to have long, continuous books to read when we're driving - well, he's driving, I'm being driven - or when I have long stretches of time to read. Plus, Lydia, Don Ysidro, and James - won't say no to reading about them! While I didn't think this was one of the stronger entries in the series when I first read it, on reread I like it better.

Widdershins, Threshold, and Stormhaven by Jordan L. Hawk, the first three books in the Whyborne & Griffin series: Widdershins is available free at Smashwords, and the link will take you there. Thanks so much to [livejournal.com profile] just_ann_now for letting me know! I bought Threshold and Stormhaven, and perforce another copy of Widdershins, in an omnibus edition right after finishing Widdershins and pretty much spent the last two days with my nose in my ereader. The first book is very reminiscent of Sarah Monette's Kyle Murchison Booth short stories - not a copy, mind, just the same feeling - but less dark. And with more sex. It moves away from that feeling in books 2 and 3. Threshold has a significant Lovecraftian feel, though with more readable prose, much more likeable main characters, and a genuinely weird and engrossing plot. Stormhaven was a little harder for me to read, as it deals with a Victorian/Edwardian mental asylum and I know enough of those (read: pretty much anything) that it would make me uncomfortable even if I wasn't often edgy about treatment of the mentally ill in fiction. It also delves deeper into Griffin's past in an asylum and how he was subjected to "gay 'cure' therapy", and sexual assault (by attendants and as part of said "therapy"). (He wasn't committed for being gay, and doesn't know who told the doctors, just to horrify us more.) You can skip those pages and still understand the book, however. It doesn't feel like something tossed in just for the sake of drama and a tragic backstory: Griffin is still affected by what he was subjected to - and it would be disingenuous to pretend horrific things wouldn't happen to a 19th century psychiatric patient even if he wasn't gay - and it does have an effect on his reactions through the books. Apart from that my only real complaints are that the sex scenes are a touch OOC, especially in the first book, and Whyborne's jealousy gets formulaic and grating by the third.

What I'm Currently Reading: Taking a break from short novels and novellas with Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentlemen Bastards #2) by Scott Lynch. Despite this being book 2 in a series, you could actually pick it up and understand it without having to read The Lies of Locke Lamora, especially with the way Lynch interweaves past events with the present events. (One scene with Father Chains is copied directly from Lies, in fact.) I'd still recommend reading Lies, because it's wonderful. :)

What I'm Reading Next: Whyborne & Griffin #4-6. :)

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