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.
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 film
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 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. :)
( Felix, by mocknot on Deviantart )
In your own space, post recs for at least three fanworks that you did not create. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so.
The Doctrine of Labyrinths
DoL is an excellent series, but it contains a lot of disturbing themes. If you want to read it, or just read the fanfic, you may wish to note the warnings.
Lighthouse Maintenance by Tremaile
Category: Gen | Additional Tags: Post Canon
Summary: There's an accident at the lighthouse, and it brings about a moment of closeness between the brothers.
Your Name by Marmolita
Categories: Gen, M/M | Additional Tags: Character Study
Warnings for: Underage sex, rape, forced sex work including underage sex work, torture, and mentions of incest. Also includes mentions of BDSM though nothing explicit.
Summary: A series of glimpses into Felix's life and journey toward self-acceptance.
tracking mud by Pitseleh
Category: Gen | Additional Tags: Alternate Universe, Alternate Universe - Canon Divergence, POV First Person, Blood, Backstory
Warnings for: Graphic depictions of Violence
Summary: What if Methony had made a different choice?
Alone at the Edge of the World by Lusa
Summary: What's the point of a lighthouse without a little haunting?
The Golden Ones by Ankaret
Summary: On the road to Corambis, the past catches up with Felix and Mildmay.
The Goblin Emperor - That's a link to all 6 fics on AO3 and you should read all of them because they're all excellent.
James Asher Vampire Series - Again, a link to all 5 fics (under that tag, clicking on character names will get you more but I haven't gone through them all yet).
Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn
If the witches don't eat you, it's home by xavie
Category: F/M, M/M
Summary: How could he tell his father that his son was a coward? Afraid of a woman? He couldn't. He wouldn't. It was as simple as that. An owl hooted and had to watch its prey scurry into the leaves as Isgrimnur shouted out his frustration.
Kindred of Darkness by Barbara Hambly. I didn't think it was quite as strong as the previous entries in the James Asher series, but it's still a very good book. I particularly like Hambly's treatment of vampires as actual predators and threats, something I think has been lacking in recent vampire fiction. Was actually off vampires entirely until I picked up the first book in the series, Those Who Hunt the Night.
What I'm Currently Reading
Otherland: City of Golden Shadows by Tad Williams. I don't know if the first half of the book is really slow, or I'm just not in an SF headspace, but I'm finding it heavy going. Shame, because I do like Williams' work. Maybe I'll read Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn again when I'm done, but right now I'm not thinking I'll pick up the rest of the Otherland series.
What I'm Reading Next
Oh, I have no idea. I have stacks (literally, one upstairs, one down) of unread books. Right now I'm looking at either, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente, sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, or Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner if it's delivered before I finish Otherland and/or pick up another book.
In your own space, create a list of at least three fannish things you'd love to receive, something you've wanted but were afraid to ask for - a fannish wish-list of sorts. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your wish-list if you feel comfortable doing so. Maybe someone will grant a wish. Check out other people's posts. Maybe you will grant a wish. If any wishes are granted, we'd love it if you link them to this post.
1. I'd love to see more fanfic and fanart for smaller fandoms, especially:
- The Goblin Emperor
- The Doctrine of Labyrinths
- The Bone Key
- James Asher
- The Iron Elves (Seriously, there is 1 fic for this and I wrote it; won't someone come play with me? :P)
- Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn
2. Fic/pic recs for any of the above. I've been through AO3, Fanfiction.net and just general web searches but had little luck.
3. And for anyone reading this, something for you: I want you to go do something that makes you happy. Anything, fandom-related or not. Spoil yourself a little, you deserve it!