hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
What I Just Finished Reading: Utopia, by Thomas More. Philosophy is not really my thing but I kind of get the impression it's a satire. (Granted, I'm 500 years away - literally, it was published in 1516 - from the target audience so I may be missing some things.) Or it could just be that it sounds too tightly regulated to me to be a paradise, but I'm told I have problems with authority. I found out that the title comes from two Greek words, ou and topos, that mean 'not' and 'place' respectively that just reinforces this. Utopia is not a thing humanity can achieve. (Frankly, I wouldn't want to live in it. Confess my sins to my husband monthly my ass, and that's just for starters.)

Radiance, by Catherynne M. Valente. Oh, I really enjoyed this one! It reads like something out of the golden age of SF, though more diverse and I'm glad to see it. It takes place in an alternate 1986 when talkies are a shiny new innovation and humanity has colonized the solar system. Moving back and forth between time periods, and using a variety of storytelling techniques, it tells the story of the mysterious disappearance of documentary filmmaker Severin Unck. The mystery is incredibly involving, and the world building is just amazing. I honestly want to tell you everything and nothing at the same time because it's so good and yet you should really go into it unspoiled.

Sadly, I no longer have my copy. It was a free download through the Tor book club and before I could do a backup [Edit: Radiance is one I bought, not downloaded through Tor, and I was able to get it back by syncing my Kobo library. Sorry, I was tired.] My ereader randomly reset itself back to factory settings. I woke up one morning, turned it on, and got the message that it was resetting. And swore. Happily, I was able to get all my books back save the Tor book club ones but since I wanted hard copies of Three Body Problem and Radiance anyway it's not too big a deal. I would have liked to finish the most recent one, from Elizabeth Bear, though.

Nor Iron Bars a Cage, by Kaje Harper, which can be downloaded for free: my link there goes to Smashwords but it's availabe on Amazon Kindle as well. Lyon was once a sorceror's apprentice but after the possession and death of his master, he became a hermit, rarely leaving his house and earning a living as a translator. Then, unexpectedly, his childhood friend Tobin appears, on a mission for the king and with a job for Lyon - one that means leaving the one place he feels secure.
With this one, I was worried that a) Tobin would be handle Lyon's past trauma in a typical romance-novel way (ie. healing cock), b) Lyon would end the novel completely over his PTSD (not how it works), and c) Lyon's disabled right hand would also be magically healed.

Fortunately, while Tobin insists that Lyon comes with him (not that either of them has any other option, it is a command from the king) he's still careful, considerate, and patient and makes sure he knows Lyon's boundaries so he doesn't cross them. None of this alpha-male bullying you into being what they think you should be bullshit. I really liked Tobin.

Lyon can handle some things better by the end but is still clearly suffering from PTSD and there's no suggestion he'll ever be completely healed of it. (I'm sick to death of seeing people magically 100% cured of their mental illnesses in fiction. It doesn't work that way. Aaand I'm going to stop the rant right there.) He does have to face the wraith that possessed his master, but the idea of facing your fears (exposure therapy) has merit and isn't treated like a cure-all so I'm OK with it. I grant you exposure therapy doesn't usually mean plunging straight into things in a magical circle to face one spirit while being aided by another but it's not like the book went straight from 'flashback-ridden, agoraphobic hermit' to 'boldly facing your fears with no other reaction'. I don't think it even hit that last one at all.

Lyon does end the book with a slightly greater range of motion in his right hand but it's never going to be 100%. It makes sense, though: the original injury had scarred over before it could be properly tended and there was a foreign object embedded in it. Removal of the object and what sounds like a minor operation, possibly to remove more scar tissue, plus some light physiotherapy would serve to improve things. I checked to see if there were a sequel: sadly, there was not. I'd've liked to read more about Tobin and Lyon.

Hexmaker (Hexworld #2), by Jordan L. Hawk. Malachi is a fox shifter and a thief, who witnesses a murder during one of his break-ins. Caught and held at the scene, he also finds his witch, Dr. Owen Yates, when the forensic hexman arrives at the murder scene. Owen Yates, who is a week away from his arranged marriage to an upper crust heiress, finds himself torn between his attraction to Malachi and his sense of duty. But as the hunt for the murderer draws them closer, Owen begins to question whether he can live a lie for the rest of his life.

Remember Owen Yates, from Hexbreaker? He's not as much of a straitlaced ass as he initially comes across as. I would call him more constrained, actually - a lot of his public persona seems to be just that. He's a lot more likeable and sympathetic than I initially thought he would be. I also like that this book broke with the "he's my witch but how can I tell him??" bit that Hexmaker and Hexbreaker seemed to indicate would be the formula for the series. We get to learn more about the history of magic in the world, plus there's a touch of clockpunk, and more of the theriarchist conspiracy. I'm looking forward to seeing where that's going.

The War of the Flowers, by Tad Williams. Theo Vilmos, a struggling rock singer, is unexpectedly shoved into the parallell world of Faerie and finds himself a pivotal figure in the looming war between the six Great Houses and the rest of the beings that inhabit the realm.

After the boredom that was Otherland, I was a bit leery of picking up another great thick Williams book but The War of the Flowers didn't disappoint. The world was developed and nuanced, and gave a sense of truly being inhabited. I liked the idea of Faerie with industrial development and the problems that come with it. I admit I did see most of the plot twists with Theo himself coming (well before he did, like Simon from Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn he's often not the fastest at thinking things through, seems to be a characteristic of Williams' everyman characters) and had suspicions about a few of the others, but there were one or two I did not see coming. And it gave me the sniffles at one point and I nearly missed my morning bus today because I just had to finish reading it! I want to reread it again already just to see what I missed first time through.
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)
What I Just Finished Reading: Hellebore & Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic, by JoSelle Vanderhooft. Still liked it by the time I finished it, which can be an iffy thing with short story collections. It's odd how one short can affect your view of the whole sometimes.

Point of Hopes (Astreiant #1), by Melissa Scott and Lisa A. Barnett. The world is a  fascinating one - think an alternate 16th century or so France - where your sexuality is no big deal, and the society is a matriarchy, a fact that's revealed as something that's just there, instead of whacking you over the head with it. I REALLY liked both the main leads, and the way the relationship develops between them. Again, without banging you over the head with it. My only issue with it is similar to the one I had with Death by Silver: the conclusion to the central mystery of who is stealing children and why feels rushed, as though the authors realized they were coming to the end and had to tie ends up.

The 13th Hex, by Jordan L. Hawk. This is the short-story intro, previously published in Charmed and Dangerous, to Hawk's new Hexworld series. Because it's a short story things move along fairly quickly, and there isn't as much world or character building as I would have liked. (To be fair, it was never intended to be the intro to a series.) Dominic Kopecky is a would-have-been witch who instead spends his days drawing hexes for New York's Metropolitan Witch Police. Familiar-without-a-witch Rook (also a shapeshifter) brings a murder by patent hex to his attention, a murder that everyone else claims has been solved - and someone is willing to kill to keep it that way. Honestly, you're probably going to guess at least one of the reveals long before it happens, but it's still a fun little read.

Point of Knives (Astreiant #1.5), by Melissa Scott. This is a short story set between Point of Hopes and Point of Dreams, centering not exactly on the beginning of the relationship between Eslingen and Rathe but on how they want to take it further, and the debate over whether they should. Plus, pirates! And more murder. There was still some veering away from the mystery into the relationship when it felt like the former should have taken precedence, but as with A Death at the Dionysus Club versus Death by Silver, it's not nearly as intrusive. Not that I'm complaing about the relationship, mind, even if I was reading it and going "come on, come on, you guys, you're perfect for each other!" ")

Point of Dreams (Astreiant #2), by Melissa Scott and Lisa A. Barnett. I love theatre. It might have paid like crap but one of the best jobs I ever had was usher/bartender at a live theatre. I got to see all the shows and get paid for it. :D So that may be influencing how much I liked this book because it centers around a live theatre, in what seems to be Astreiant's theatre district. Eslingen is hired on at the theatre, which is set to put on a politically important play, as a sort of drill instructor for the chorus. As the chorus is made up of nobles who won a lottery, you can imagine how much fun he has. A series of mysterious murders place the play in jeopardy, and Rathe must find the person behind them lest disaster strike on opening night. We get to see more of the politcal sphere of Astreiant, as well as more about how magic and astrology work in this world. On the personal side, Eslingen moves in with Rathe (yay!) and they navigate that new aspect of their relationship. BY TALKING TO EACH OTHER.

Fair's Point (Astreiant #3), by Melissa Scott. I can honestly say I've never read a mystery involving dog races and magic at the same time before. And we get to see a lot of magic, much more explicitly so than in the first 3 stories, with more information on how the magic works. As with the Lynes & Mathey stories, magic is integrated into the world, not just something practiced by strange people on the fringes. There's a little more on matriarchal politics. Eslingen and Rathe are still living together - yay! -  and there are some nice bits of domesticity. Eslingen has received an offer to be part of a new type of guard, meant to back up the points and have jurisdiction outside the city, and while Rathe has reservations about it, he handles it like a reasonable person. The mystery plot was carried along apace, with no bumpy side-trips into the sub-plots, and was both fascinating and terribly confusing.

Too Many Fairy Princes, by Alex Beecroft. Right, so, there was a sample of this one at the end of one of K.J. Charles' books and  - okay, I admit, I was entirely made curious about this by the line "I will skin you and write satirical verses on the leather". Maybe it was just because it was late at night but it made me laugh. Fairy prince Kjartan (who goes by Kai on Earth, mustn't give away your real name and all) is forced to teleport to an unspecified destination when one of his brothers tries to kill him to clear the path to the throne. (Yes, like Stardust.) Artist and gallery worker (part owner, I think?) Joel Wilson's day has gone straight to hell when he finds out his boss not only owes money to a loan shark, but the loan is due AND there is no money in the bank. Joel needs a miracle: he gets a fairy prince in a trash bin. We get a rather sweet romance with elves, mobsters, royalty, deadly sibling rivalry, occasionally disturbing culteral differences, and the discovery of Nutella. The relationship is on a long, slow, burn and given what elves have been told about humans (not, mind, without reason) and vice-versa (again, not without reason) and how they meet it makes sense: they're both carefully making sure the other's not in a vulnerable state or affected by outside influences so that there can be no doubt about the validity of consent. It's not quite Will They Or Won't They, but it does take a while. Overall it's some nice brain candy if you're looking for something entertaining but not demanding.

What I'm Currently Reading: I got distracted with knitting and haven't started a new book. Yet. Oh, hey, The Goblin Emperor...
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
What I Just Finished Reading: A Queer Trade (Rag and Bone #0.5), by K.J. Charles. This is a short story set in the same world as the Magpie Lord, and takes place I think sometime in the last 2 books of the Magpie trilogy. Returning to London after visiting family, apprentice practitioner Crispin Tredarloe finds his master is dead, and the landlord has sold off his possessions, save those specified in his will, but including piles of paper that could prove very dangerous in the hands of anyone other than Crispin. He tracks down the papers and finds them in the possession of waste paper dealer Ned Hall, and together they try to prevent a disaster.

I like the ideas, the characters, and the overall story, though I quibble with the idea that Crispin, having just learned of his master's death that morning and in the midst of a desperate search for dangerous magical items, would pause in his frantic search to briefly fantasize about Ned, let alone make out with him in public, however briefly. Grief can make people do strange things, and sex is definitely a way of dealing with it, but it was jarring here. Still, it was a nice setup for the Rag and Bone, the full novel featuring Crispin and Ned.

Jackdaw, by K.J. Charles. Also set in the world of the Magpie Lord, Jackdaw picks up the story of Jonah Pastern (the young windwalker from Flight of Magpies, and this book will not make sense if you haven't read that) and his former lover, Ben. This didn't really have a plot the way the other books in the 'verse do, it's more of a 'slice of life' type of thing, though at times a fearful one (Jonah) and an angry one (Ben, and damn justifiably too), fraught with worry about being caught, both by society and the justiciars.

Rag and Bone (Rag and Bone #1), by K.J. Charles. This overlaps with both Flight of Magpies and Jackdaw and if the series continues in that vein I may have to start drawing diagrams to figure out who's doing what where and when. After the events of A Queer Trade, Crispin is now apprenticed at the justiciary, trying to learn how to use his powers properly and it's not going well. Graphomancy may not be viewed as legitimate magic, but more and more it seems to be the only kind he can use. He's viewed with suspicion by other practitioners and his relationship with Ned is under strain. Worst of all, old, wild magic is stirring in London, and there are no justiciars to handle it, or even hear about it, meaning it's all up to Crispin and Ned.

Sadly, there was no Saint, although there was more of Mrs. Gold. I enjoyed it, and I definitely felt the relationship between Ned and Crispin was slightly better done than Lucien and Stephen. I also definitely picked up on the feeling of trying to get something DONE when everyone above you is busy with something else and this is important too. (Granted in my case it was 'this software change will completely nuke 90% if our procedures, we need a workaround', while everyone else was worrying about budgets or something, but...)

SPECTR: Series 1, by Jordan L. Hawk. I opened it up to do a search on something for a discussion I was having with [livejournal.com profile] hamsterwoman and, um, ended up reading it again, though not from the beginning. Oops?

What I'm Reading Now: Hellebore & Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic, by JoSelle Vanderhooft. This short story collection is working better for me than the last few I tried. It's another of the ones I picked up during Lethe Press's sale. With just one exception so far the shorts tell complete stories all of which, well, do what they say on the tin. :) You've got women dealing with problems without being defined either by their orientation or their relationship with a man. You've got urban fantasy mixed wtih regular fantasy mixed with science-fantasy and while I'm not reading it straight through I am pleased to come back to it, unlike the last two collections that I felt I was just slogging through.

Still going with The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England too. (It's my upstairs book and I haven't been upstairs much.)

What I'm Reading Next: I haven't decided yet. I've still got a lot of the Lethe Press stuff to get through, plus physical books.

I also already hit the goal for the Goodreads reading challenge I set up at the beginning of the year! Probably because I've had the space I used to use for work filled up with time to read instead. So I just upped the number, we'll see how that goes.
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
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.
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
What I Just Finished Reading: Sparrow Hill Road, by Seanan McGuire. I enjoyed this much, much more than Rosemary and Rue. The ending did not disappoint the way R&R did, and I found myself genuinely liking Rose and concerned with what would happen to her. The world, one of the dead, of bean sidhes and roadwitches, and the power of roadside diners, was fascinating and I found myself wishing I could see more of it when the book was done.

Discount Armageddon, by Seanan McGuire. I had high hopes for this after Sparrow Hill Road, and while it wasn't bad the best I can come up with for it is 'eh, 's alright'. I wanted to like it more, it just sort of felt like the protagonist was trying too hard. (Competition ballroom dancer/cocktail waitress/parkour expert/cryptozoologist/priestess. Alright, priestess to sapient mice, but still.) The romance felt tacked on and predictable, and the mice were - weird. I mean, things in a book about cryptids should be weird but not 'reminds me of the space mice from Voltron' weird. I would have liked to see more non-humanoid cryptids as well, though part of that might be because the book takes place in New York City and the really weird stuff might not flourish there. There also wasn't an armageddon, discount or otherwise. Has anyone read more of the series? Is it worth trying to push on?

I did get to introduce the concept of cryptids to my husband, though. He knew about Sasquatch, chupacabra and so on, just not the term.

Butterflies (The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal #2), by K.J. Charles. So having encountered Simon and Robert in Remnant, the crossover with Whyborne & Griffin (link to that entry here) I wanted to know more about them. Butterflies tells the story of their second encounter, but gives you enough information you're not lost. I liked it: it was decently creepy and the plot is very weird. (I like weird horror.) The story is available for free, so you can go ahead and check it out here if you're curious. The #2 comes from it being the second story: if you read The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal it's the 2nd story in the book anyway.

I went ahead and looked up more by Charles, quite surprised to find some of her books available online at the provincial library. (I can borrow books to my ereader, I don't even have to leave the house! I love the future.) I live in one of the more conservative provinces, let's put it that way.

The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies #1), by K.J. Charles. After the deaths of his father and brother, Lucien Vaudrey returns home from China after twenty years to take up the earldom. Inexplicably, he begins to suffer from blackouts during which he makes attempts at suicide. Summoning a practitioner of magic, Stephen Day, after the most recent blackout he learns that he's not only inherited the family title, but a family curse as well. Vaudrey and Day must travel to Vaudrey's family home to unravel the curse and the web of plots surrounding Vaudrey.

I quite liked it, for characters, plot, and atmosphere all. You really feel you're surrounded by the inexplicable in a decaying mansion in the English countryside. Charles also uses the technique, in a few places, of giving just enough description that you can imagine something really horrible.

A Case of Possession (A Charm of Magpies #2), by K.J. Charles. I liked this one better than The Magpie Lord, overall. It gets more into the practice of magic in England, and how that magic is regulated. There's a larger cast and we see more of Stephen's fellow practitioners/coworkers. Unfortunately, events stemming from the first book mean that his fellows have cause to suspect he's turned warlock, and in Victorian England he can't explain why he hasn't without revealing his relationship with Vaudrey. And there's a plague of giant rats closing in on London, endangering Vaudrey's friends and acquantainces as well as his lover.

Interlude with Tattoos (A Charm of Magpies 1.5), by K.J. Charles. A playful, NC-17, short story about Vaudrey and Day, without anything trying to possess or kill them. You'd need to read The Magpie Lord for this to make sense, though. If you have, or if you're OK with a bit of confusion, you can read it free here.

A Case of Spirits (A Charm of Magpies 2.5), by K.J. Charles. The last short story was playful? Yeah, not this one. (Which is also free, but only through Amazon. Kindle software for your computer/tablet/phone is free too, though, which is good because I would certainly never suggest removing the DRM and converting it to epub.) This one is pure horror. You will definitely need to read at least the 2nd book in the series to understand this, or you won't know who 2/3 of the players are.

The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, by K.J. Charles. As the title suggests, this is a series of short stories, which cover the life of Simon Feximal and Robert Caldwell after their first meeting till the end of WWI. I felt this was more unevenly done than A Charm of Magpies and that at times the story felt rushed, especially when Robert refers to stories we don't see. In-universe they were published in the not-secret casebooks, but we don't have those. The story needed more time and development: it would have worked better as a longer book, or as a series that would let the author flesh out the characters and their stories a little more. So, OK but not great.

What I'm Reading Now: Accidentally rereading Hunter of Demons, by Jordan L. Hawk. I say accidentally because my ereader has a habit of taking longer to move from the last page of a book back to the home screen, and I forget this, tap twice, and end up opening whatever it's showing/suggesting where my thumb lands. So I just went with it. Hunter of Demons takes place in a version of our world where the paranormal isn't hiding behind a masquerade and there's a government branch (SPECTR) in charge of hunting down demons etc. and watching over normal humans with paranormal talents. (Think Mutant Registration Act, here.) Sadly my library has no books by Hawk available, so, while I'll probably pick up the omnibus of this series sometime, learning more about the conspiracy theory that promises to weave through the series will have to wait.

What I'm Reading Next: Flight of Magpies, by K.J. Charles. The library alerted me that the copy I'd put on hold was now available. (How this works with ebooks I'm not sure - there must be a limit on how often a copy can be checked out simultaneously, or maybe they do have to purchase multiple copies as with paper books?) I like to read series in sequence, as I'm quite sure everyone's noticed by now. ^_~ Then, I think I shall take a day, put on a pot of tea, curl up in a quilt, and reread The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. <3
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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.
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What I Just Finished Reading: Magic's Promise, by Mercedes Lackey. This is definitely the strongest book out of the trilogy. It's more plot and less character driven compared to the others, making for a much tighter story, without the major plot elements crammed in at beginning, middle, and end, as the other two books in the trilogy did. You definitely get a sense of the magic and politics of the wider world of Valdemar, which is great, but sadly the momentum won't last.

If I were to edit this, now, I'd lop out most of the first book, keep this one largely intact, trim out about the first half of the third and expand on the last quarter, and print it as a single novel.

Hunter of Demons, by Jordan L. Hawk. I got this as a free book after I signed up for the author's mailing list. (Seems a fair exchange for a couple of emails a month, yes?) You can also download it for free from Smashwords via the link. I liked it well enough - though not as well as Whyborne & Griffin *g* - and will probably pick up the omnibus edition of the 1st series at some point. Hunter of Demons takes place in a version of our world where the paranormal isn't hiding behind a masquerade and there's a government branch (SPECTR) in charge of hunting down demons etc. and watching over normal humans with paranormal talents. (Think Mutant Registration Act, here.) Per Smashwords:

When Caleb is possessed by a vampire spirit named Gray, his only hope lies with hotshot federal exorcist John Starkweather. The only problem? If Caleb can't keep Gray from giving into Bloodlust, Starkweather will have no choice but to kill them both.

There also seems to be an underlying conspiracy theory that's no doubt spread through the rest of the series, and we also Gray's thoughts as he experiences life in a living body (previously he only possessed the dead), two things that honestly interested me more than the story itself.

Magic's Price, by Mercedes Lackey. I wanted to like this much more than I did. I should have, because there are a lot of elements in it that I like, just...Vanyel's moodiness and uncertainties and 'woe is me!' attitude just wore on me. It didn't help that the actual crisis of the novel - of the trilogy - was just kind of crammed into the last few pages and then - fizzled.

I was definitely not happy to have Rape As Drama gratuitously dumped in there. There were at least three ways to avoid Vanyel's capture period and there are just some things I do not like to see dropped in a story purely for shock value, and that's one of the big ones.

Overall the entire series felt like a fanfic - and that's not a shot, god knows that would be hypocritical - where the author wants to explore the characters away from the main storyline and so just uses the main storyline as background. That's not bad: I've read some wonderful stories that do that. It just doesn't work here.

The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black, by E.B. Hudspeth. Would you like a beautifully illustrated horror story that sends cold tendrils creeping up your spine ever so slowly? May I suggest the above. This was amazing! Very impressive, especially considering a powerful story is delivered in roughly 50 pages - the 2nd half of the book is anatomical drawings of mythical creatures - and is one of the best examples of Nothing Is Scarier I've ever encountered. You have just enough information your imagination fills in the rest. Very definitely recommended!

Academ's Fury, by Jim Butcher. I did like this better than Furies of Calderon, though not enough that I'm rushing through the series. It's still in 'fill in the last allotted space of library books I can check out' territory. It didn't feel as unfinished as the first book, but where the first felt like it had more pages than story, this one almost feels like there's too much pressed into it. [livejournal.com profile] hamsterwoman suggested it would pick up around book #4, and I'm willing to give it at least that long. I might check out a wiki or TVTropes for info on #3 and just push ahead to 4, even.

Restless Spirits, by Jordan L. Hawk. And this is the book i got in exchange for signing up for the author's mailing list. Spiritualists and debunkers in a haunted castle? I can get behind that. It's set in roughly the same time period as Whyborne & Griffin (late 19th/early 20th century, during the Spiritualist craze) and has a few similarities. Vincent and Henry are distinctly different characters, however. Henry tends to be an ass at times and did a few things I didn't like. (Don't out people. Don't.) He can recognize or be brought to recognize his mistakes, though, so there's a promise of growth. I do like the steampunk-y feel to the book, which actually is in line with the time period. Think Edison's Spirit Phone.

My favorite character in the book would have to be Jo. Technically inclined women? Yes please! :D

What I'm Reading Now: The King of Elfland's Daughter, by Lord Dunsany. Trying to read, anyway. When you keep glancing at the page numbers to see how much further you have to go it's not a good sign. I don't know if it's the language or just that I had higher expectations but this is seriously heading toward the 'abandoned' shelf. Which I don't have, but am thinking of creating, just for this.

What I'm Reading Next: Rosemary and Rue: An October Daye Novel, by Seanan McGuire. I've seen mixed review for this, but I read part of the sample for book #2 in the series and found it hard to tear away, so I'll give it a shot. The blurb on Goodreads doesn't sound terribly original, but you never know.
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What I Just Finished Reading: The Last Wish, by Andrej Sapkowski. I thought it got a little bit awkward and stretched with what it was trying to do near the end, but I also liked Geralt a lot better at the end of the book than the beginning. You could see more of his personality beyond 'silent deadly merc sorceror'. I'm interested in seeing what the other two books are like.

Magic's Pawn, by Mercedes Lackey. I got partway through this and thought, "okay, so it's a coming-of-age story, about a kid escaping from his family that doesn't understand him and finding out who he really is." It certainly is that, but the crisis of it was a lot more dramatic and shocking than I expected it to be. I didn't really get into it until about halfway through, and it picked up after that. I did get a little impatient with the teenage drama and Vanyel sulking like, well, a teenager, and yet another fantasy land with anti-LGBT+ prejudice - though I recognize that that may not have been such a trope when the book was written and there are people who can use a fictional character with their problems to identify with. I would have adored this when I was a teenager, and god knows I still empathize with Vanyel on the 'not having a name for what you are' front even though those days are thankfully long past. Still, it interested me enough to read the 2nd book in the trilogy which so far seems to be a lot less teen drama and angst.

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison. I meant to read the above trilogy all in a row and not be a literary magpie this time, really I did, but my ereader ran out of battery power and shut itself off, so I had to go to physical books and this will always be one of my immediate fallbacks. :) Maia's such a good character, and so kind. I'd hug him, but while Kiru might just haul me off by my ear, Beshelar would gut me first and say it was his job immediately after. (Anyway, a glance at TGE fanfic gives one the impression Maia goes on to have impressive amounts of sex with pretty much everyone, so I'd say he's OK on the physical contact front. :P)

What I'm Reading Now: Magic's Promise (Valdemar: The Last Herald-Mage #2), by Mercedes Lackey. This takes place well after the first book, which I found a little jarring. I see from Goodreads that it's The Last Herald-Mage #2 but Valdemar #5, chronologically, which accounts for it, though that sort of thing is something I associate with comics rather than novels. It's not that events aren't referenced, but they're referenced sort of offhandedly and while the characters understand what's going on, the readers could have used a bit more explanation. Vanyel's much older, and calmer, and less prone to drama (so far, I have a feeling drama is incoming) and it talks more about magic and creatures, which I like.

What I'm Reading Next: Magic's Price (Valdemar: The Last Herald-Mage #3), by Mercedes Lackey. Apparently we're saving the world?

Academ's Fury (Codex Alera #2) by Jim Butcher. Well, it took me a couple of books to get into The Dresden Files too, so I'll give Codex Alera another shot or two. Thank goodness for libraries.

The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work of Dr. Spencer Black, by E.B. Hudspeth. I can't remember who recommended this to me, or if it was recommended to me, or if I just happened to like the cover. I borrowed the ebook from the library so it could even be a recommendation algorithm tossed it my way. I'm really hoping the illustrations show up well in my ereader.

Here's the blurb from Goodreads: Philadelphia, the late 1870s. A city of gas lamps, cobblestone streets, and horse-drawn carriages—and home to the controversial surgeon Dr. Spencer Black. The son of a grave robber, young Dr. Black studies at Philadelphia’s esteemed Academy of Medicine, where he develops an unconventional hypothesis: What if the world’s most celebrated mythological beasts—mermaids, minotaurs, and satyrs—were in fact the evolutionary ancestors of humankind?
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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.
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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.
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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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What I Just Finished Reading: The Privilege of the Sword, by Ellen Kushner. I think I enjoy this book more every time I read it. :)

A Brother's Price by Wen Spencer. Okay, first, that cover has next to nothing to do with the book. (There's a carrying scene. It's brief, and practical and not nearly as dramatic as the cover makes it seem.) The book takes place in a world where men are exceedingly rare, to the point that one man marries an entire family of sisters, and selling and trading of brothers rather than dating and romance is pretty much the only way to find someone(s) to marry. Men are considered property.

The book never goes into detail but I rather get the impression that there was a catrastrophe sometime in the past that resulted in heavy depopulation and fewer boys being born. This results in huge families - the protagonist, Jerin, has nearly three dozen siblings - with one father and multiple mothers. Women having intimitate relationships with other women isn't seen as unsual, and at least one character doesn't see women dressing as men (for sex work anyway) as anything odd, but there's no mention of what life's like for men who are anything other than straight and cis. This isn't unusual in speculative fiction, but the fact that it's addressed for women and no one else is one of the things that really helped drive home the fact that men are property in this world. It's not just gender-flipped for the sake of having a Lady Land, either, a lot of this is actually discussed by the characters.

The book also averts the STD Immunity trope: syphilis is a big big problem, so much so that whole families have been wiped out and if there's even the slightest rumour one member of the family might have it, you're off the marriage market. All of you, since all sisters share one husband, meaning everyone can be infected before the disease is discovered.

The world in question seems to be at about a mid-1800s technology level: rifling for cannons has just been invented, there are steam powered boats and the microscope is a recent discovery. It's kind of like a matriarchal Old West, with a monarchy and a little bit of Jane Austin thrown in for good measure. If you're curious, an excerpt is available here.

Oh, did I mention all the men have long hair? Because all the men have long hair.

What I'm Currently Reading: Celts by Martin J. Dougherty. I think this is the only non-fiction book I've mentioned here? I picked it up initially because it was cheap and I needed to buy something to read while I was waiting to meet someone at the Starbucks in my local Chapters.

What I'm Reading Next: Of Bone and Thunder: A Novel, by Chris Evans, the author of The Iron Elves trilogy. From the Goodreads page, since I haven't read the novel itself yet:

Channeling the turbulent period of the Vietnam War and its ruthless pitting of ideologies, cultures, generations, and races against each other, military historian and acclaimed fantasy writer Chris Evans takes a daring new approach to the traditional world of sword and sorcery by thrusting it into a maelstrom of racial animus, drug use, rebellion, and a growing war that seems at once unwinnable and with no end in sight. In this thrilling epic, right and wrong, country and honor, freedom and sacrifice are all put to the ultimate test in the heart of a dark, bloody, otherworldly jungle.

In this strange, new world deep among the shadows under a triple-canopy jungle and plagued by dangers real and imagined, soldiers strive to fulfill a mission they don’t understand and are ill-equipped to carry out. And high above them, the heavy rush of wings slashing through the humid air herald a coming wave of death and destruction, and just possibly, salvation.

I'll have to let you know if it lives up to this or not.
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What I Just Finished Reading: Well, skipping over everything I've read since I last posted in the interests of just starting over, Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner and The Bone Key by Sarah Monette. Still looking for work and it's pretty stressful (apparently looking for work is a skill heavily skewed toward extroverts, which I am not, and that isn't helping) so yeah, I'm reverting to my comfort books. No little iced cakes to go with them, but I did have a donut with sprinkles earlier this week, so that'll have to do.

Ooh. Little iced cakes with sprinkles. If it weren't so damned hot I'd consider doing some baking.

What I'm Currently Reading: The Privilege of the Sword, by Ellen Kushner. Articles on how to write resumes and cover letters and search for work. Also, codex entries in Dragon Age: Inquisition, which I may be slightly obsessed with.

What I'm Reading Next: I don't know yet. The Stack is still staring at me though, so I'm sure I can find something. Anyone have suggestions?
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
What I Just Finished Reading: Ash, by Malinda Lo. Truthfully I finished reading this a couple of weeks ago and then forgot about it. That's not because it's a bad book by any means, it's just not quite my speed, focusing more on romance than fantasy etc. I thought more depth could have been put into Sidhean's characterization and motives, and I was disappointed that a potential story thread
regarding Ash's father's money and the stepmother's lies about it - I'm sure she was lying because what little characterization we saw of the father didn't support the story that he'd run out of money and used up the stepmother's fraudulently -
was seemingly dropped. I was also sorry we didn't get to see more of Kaisa, who I quite liked. I did very much enjoy being able to walk into a large chain bookstore and just pull a novel with a QUILTBAG protagonist off the YA shelf. That would have meant a lot to me when I was younger.

The Very Best of Tad Williams. I was surprised to find a script in there, but it was still an interesting way to read a story. I usually avoid script-format when I read fanfics because they tend to be just strings of text, but Williams uses direction and description in his script as well, making it easier to read. I could swear I've read the story about the newly come to life AI before, though. The short with the Armenian vampire is still my favorite.

What I'm Reading Now: How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them--A Misstep-by-misstep Guide by Howard Mittlemark and Sandra Newman. I wanted to read this for two reasons: 1) I kept seeing references to it on TVTropes and they made me curious and 2) I like to write and knowing what not to do is so useful, especially if I ever lose my mind and decide to plot out a novel. I'm also a technical writer, and even though that's different from writing fiction, it never hurts to check out guidelines.

What I'm Reading Next: Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive #2), by Brandon Sanderson. Okay, so...it's not part of The Stack. But The Stack will still be there when I'm done.
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
I'm a couple of weeks behind on this, aren't I? Oops.

What I Just Finished Reading: Villains by Necessity by Eve Forward. It contains a lot of standard fantasy tropes, but does so on purpose. The main characters are on a typical quest and they know it. I wouldn't go so far as to call it outright satire of the genre, more something poking good-natured fun at it. It kind of reminded me of The Flying Sorcerors by David Gerrold, which does much the same thing with light SF.

Hellboy: The Fire Wolves, by Tim Lebbon. It...does what it says on the tin, really. Hellboy fights fire wolves. I like that it was set in Italy, but I wish it would have done more with the setting of Pompeii, which is pretty much just there for background. I would have also have liked it to include more B.P.R.D. members than just a couple phone calls to Liz Sherman. (The books follow comic canon, so Liz and Hellboy aren't dating.) A big part of why I like Hellboy is his interaction with Liz, Abe, Roger, etc. and it was mostly missing.

The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson. I haven't gotten anything done since the weekend because I've been busy reading this book. Fantasy, a truly alien world with alien flora and fauna (not just humans plunked down somewhere where everything has different names: the plants have rock shells and can move and retreat into themselves for protection; the 'dogs' are some kind of insect/crustacean/thing, etc.), references to fallen civilizations, an incoming disaster, engrossing characters, lost tech...sign me up! :D I enjoyed all the characters, but I'll be honest and say that Kaladin is my favorite. I may have neglected other character's chapters in order to skip ahead and find out what happened to him. Like Otherland it has several characters' storylines running in parallel, but it moves much faster.

What I'm Currently Reading: The Very Best of Tad Williams. Otherland didn't grab me, but I enjoyed Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn and Tailchaser's Song just absolutely broke my heart. This anthology has a bit of everything, but I think my favorite so far is Child of an Ancient City, which features an Armenian vampire!

What I'm Reading Next: Still might go back and read The Doctrine of Labyrinths again, although now I'm also thinking of rereading Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. Or just trying to work down The Stack.

Oh and, speaking of Sarah Monette/Katherine Addison, The Goblin Emperor has been nominated for a Locus award, and is also up for Best Novel at the Hugo Awards this year. *crosses fingers* (Yes, I know about the problems with the Hugo nominations this year. Which is why I think it'd be a lovely thing for a novel written by a woman to win. And that is all we will say about that.) Love to see that get more attention. I had a very happy moment the other day when I saw paperback copies of it (so glad I didn't wait for that, I would have waited a whole year!) in the book section at the drugstore. Sandwiched in among the cheesy romances, but hey, at least it's there.
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
What I Just Finished Reading: The Lies of Locke Lamora. So much love for this book. It's lush, engrossing, clever, and heartbreaking. I had to walk away and calm down a bit at a couple of points because the events actually affected me. This is definitely one I'm going to go back to again and again.

What I'm Currently Reading: Villains by Necessity by Eve Forward. Light vs. dark is a standard fantasy trope, and so is the idea of the balance between them. I think we normally see the idea of dark conquering and light having to fight back. This novel explores the idea of what would happen after light wins the war and banishes everything 'dark' - thieves, assassins, sorcerors, unhappy thoughts, lack of conformity - from the world.

The world's name is Chiaroscuro. Guess how well that goes.

Fortunately for the world, a thief, an assassin, and a Druid walk into a bar - sorry are on a quest to make things right again.

What I'm Reading Next: No idea. Maybe The Way of Kings, maybe The Doctrine of Labyrinths again. Not sure yet.
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
Well, that was a rough few weeks there. I was laid off and there was some bad news in the family. OTOH, I'm now unemployed and living in a city where there isn't much work-wise so at least I've got plenty of time to read? (And marathon things on Netflix, play video games: I am looking for work, it just doesn't take much time out of the day. *sigh*)


What I Just FInished Reading: Swordspoint again, as promised. The Priveledge of the Sword, which I enjoyed just as much, once I skimmed through to find Richard's name ("Wait, he's not - he has to be!). I wasn't sure about Katherine at first, but I liked her much better after she decided to, pretty immediately, show some grit and adapt to everything Alec was throwing at her. Possibly unfairly, I was expecting scenes of hysterics and flouncing first. But no, her development from silly girl to determined young woman is steady and believable. So then I read it again.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne Valente. This is the sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, which I picked up in a drug store a few years ago when the 'ship of her own making' bit serendipitously caught my eye. (I have a liking for women in the STEM fields.) I want to tell you about them both, because they're both fantastic, but at the same time I don't want to risk spoiling anything because part of the charm is discovering as the protagonist, September, does exactly what is going on and how to fix it. It's about consequences, responsibility, and growing up and at no point does it feel preachy.

What I'm Currently Reading: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. Everyone's been telling me to read this and I'm so glad I finally got round to it! It's just magnificent, everything: the worldbuilding, the characterization, the language, the plot. All of it. I particularly like the worldbuilding. We are told about the world around them in a way that feels natural, not like an infodump - even though it sometimes is an infodump, as when things are being explained to child!Locke - because it makes sense in the setting. I almost don't want to finish it because then it will be done, even though I can just read it over again.

What I'm Reading Next: What an excellent question. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson is next on the pile, but that doesn't mean anything. I guess I'll just find out when I get there.
hoursgoneby: (Hourglass)
What I Just Finished Reading: Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner. Wow. Just...wow! And who knew reference to fish could be so romantic?

No, I'm not explaining that. If you don't know you'll have to read it and see.

What I'm Currently Reading: Swordspoint again. The first time through I found the beginning a bit rocky, and I think it will make a difference knowing how to read the rhythm of the piece and the personalities of the characters. (Alec, Alec. I feel like I ought not to like you, and yet I do.)

What I'm Reading Next: Not sure. Possibly Kushner's The Priveledge of the Sword. Perhaps The Lies of Locke Lamora. I may make one of them my upstairs and the other my downstairs book. (Because I will forget to bring my book with me from one place to another. Except when I do. This is why, no matter how intent I am on keeping my bookshelves organized and tidy, it doesn't happen.They wind up upstairs, downstairs, and in stacks. I will eventually try to organize them, get part way through, and find a book I haven't touched in ages, like meeting an old friend by chance, and it will all start again. I will grow old, and sit among my stacks of books, drink my tea, and read.)


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