Mar. 16th, 2016

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I don't think this is a complete list, because I use Goodreads to track and I'm sure I haven't been entering things properly lately. Oops.

What I Just Finished Reading: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black. I can be iffy on vampire fiction, especially stuff that came out in the past 10-15 years or so (since whenever Twilight hit, really) but this worked really really well for me! It definitely helps that, like the James Asher series, you're never allowed to forget that the vampires are predators who feed on, use, and kill humans. I thought the worldbuilding was well done too: it didn't feel like a world where vampires happened and everyone carried on as normal, except, oh yeah, vampires, it felt like one where vampires happened and the world was very nearly screwed and is now desperately trying to pretend everything is normal. Vampire reality shows and vampire presence on social media, vampires being kept in quarantine - these are all things I can see happening. I can see why it won/was nominated for so many awards! My local library is sadly low on Holly Black titles but I'll keep an eye out for more of hers.

FYI, I do believe Hambly is working on a 7th Asher novel. :)

Hainted, by Jordan L. Hawke. This was a lot smoother than I'd expected a first novel to be, and I quite liked it. Dan Miller is a young man in his early twenties, forced by the death of their parents to look after his younger siblings and run the family farm. Dan was raised by his mother to be a haint-worker, someone who can lay restless spirits and undead (haints) and send them on to the other side. After a traumatic experience on his first solo job, after the death of his parents, he's given up haint-working, only to be drawn back in when Leif Helsvin, tall long-haired* blond goth, shows up in town needing help to track down a necromancer.  There's an interesting mix of North Carolina folk beliefs and Norse mythology present in this, plus the aforementioned necromancer, undead, visits to Hel**, and tons of magic. And Taryn! You know how Hawke's work always has at least one female character who kicks ass and is awesome? In Hainted that's Taryn. (Christine from W&G is still my favorite though.)

* Definitely a theme in Hawke's work. Mind you, I quite like that theme and am not complaining.
** If you're unfamiliar with Norse mythology, no, that's not a typo. :)

BTW, Hawke has a new series, Hexbreaker, coming soon. The link there is to her site's entry on it. 1 book plus a short story that was previously printed in Charmed and Dangerous are due for release in May.

A Death at the Dionysus Club, by Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold. I liked Death by Silver and I think I liked this even more. :) The case is bizarre, the relationship between the two men continues to develop nicely and realistically, and the sequence where they discuss outing themselves and the consequences is genuinely wrenching. (I mean, a 'what if they find out!' moment is bad enough in 20th/21st century Canada, but in Victorian London? With the very real possibility of hard labour in prison and the complete ruin of your life? Christ that's an appalling thought.) I did think that the growing tension between Mathey and Lynes regarding their sex life detracted from the murder mystery plot for part of the novel, but I was pleased to see they resolved it by - gasp! - talking to each other. Then we got back to the missing hearts and all was well. I'm really hoping there'll be a third book!

Uh, I think I also read through some short story collections that I got with the bundle containing Beyond Binary in the Lethe Press sale, but while I don't dislike short stories by any means, a lot of them tend to have a few problems: they feel like a scene chopped out of something larger instead of being a complete story in themselves; there isn't a proper ending; they try hard for realism by adding little details, usually of something unpleasant, and they wind up just coming across as grubby; they tend to remind me of being forced to read Canadian Literature (CanLit) in school. I realize that last is not universal, but pretty much all the CanLit they made us read dealt with:Cut for complaining about CanLit. )
What I'm Currently Reading: The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England, by Kristine Hughes. It's very interesting to read through and see how the society shifted over time. The articles aren't overly long and detailed, and many of them are collections of information from other sources, but you can gather information without feeling overwhelmed, and the bibliography for each chapter is listed at the end of the chapter, so if you want more you know which books to look up for further detail. It might help a little to already be somewhat familiar with the era, since there aren't many pictures. If you don't know what a frock coat is, for instance, you might be confused.

What I'm Reading Next: I haven't decided. I have given up swearing it's going to be The Inheritance Trilogy because really, we all know it's not. Maybe I'll reread The Resurrectionist now that I've got a physical copy of the (gorgeous!) book.

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