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What I Just Finished Reading

Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb, in preparation for Fool's Quest coming out next week. This definitely improved with the rereading (since I didn't have to spend all my time wondering where the heck Fool was.) Fitz, Lant, and Shun are still annoying as all get out but Bee, Bee was fascinating this time around!

What I'm Currently Reading

The Spring of the Ram, the second Niccolò book. I like this one a lot! There seems to be a lot more action, as well as the delicious descriptiveness. It's interesting that everything we see or know of Niccolò is coming second hand - we never get inside his head at all. What drives him so? Intriguing.

What I'm Reading Next

Fool's Quest! Starting next Tuesday!

What I Was Going to Read, But Didn't

The Dinosaur Lords, by Victor Milán. This was blurbed, by GRRM himself no less, as a cross between Jurassic Park and A Game of Thrones. “Cool!” I thought.

The opening line is absolutely stunning:
They appeared across the river like a range of shadow mountains, resolving to terrible solidity through a gauze of early-morning mist and rain.
However, from there it just went straight downhill for me. Come on, if you're going to create a fantasy world, can't you find better names for things than Nuevaropa, Anglysh, Spañol? And the protagonist rubbed me the wrong way pretty quickly:
He held faint hope his scheme, which to himself he admitted was daft enough on the face of it, would win his employer’s last-minute approval. But of faint hopes was such a life as Rob Korrigan’s made...A-boil with conflicting emotions, he turned and ran as best a run as his bandy legs could muster. 
* yawn * Another Indiana Jones-esque, male self-insert fantasy, not unlike The Martian, if you think about it.

I've been reading mainly fantasy and scifi by women authors – thank you, Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge! – for the past three years. Stuff like this makes me realize that I haven't really missed a thing.

The link above is to a two-chapter sample. If you've got a chance, read it and let me know what you think!

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What Am I Reading Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sorry, readers! My Wednesday got away from me.

What I Just Finished Reading

Gathering Blue, by Lois Lowry. This was part of the shared world of The Giver, not actually a sequel. I found the story quite fascinating and compelling, but then it seemed to just - stop? No real resolution following the revelation. Or maybe that was because I was reading it in bed. That happens a lot, I read in bed, fall asleep, wake up, reread. Perhaps that was my problem with several of books I've read this year and hadn't been entirely satisfied with? I slept through them? Hmmm.

What I Am Currently Reading

franklinbadger and I have challenged ourselves to pick up and start reading one of the Dorothy Dunnett books on our virtual bookshelves; the one I'm reading is Niccolo Rising. Oh, my stars, why oh WHY have I waited so long? The writing is absolutely gorgeous, with witty characterization and lush description. The setting is one I really enjoy (and was so gloriously reimagined in Melissa Scott and Lisa A. Barnett's Points books), 15th century Europe. Because of the tapestry-like richness and detail, it is a slow read, but a very enjoyable one.

What Am I Reading Next

Depending on how quickly I proceed with Niccolo, I have the next in the series, The Spring of the Ram. But that might have to be postponed some, because - news flash! - I'm going down to Blacksburg on June 13 to await the arrival of Farm Baby and help out for a few weeks after. So any reading I do there will have to be quick and light, I think. Good thing I just got my Kickstarter ebooks of Queers Destroy Science Fiction, Wilde Stories 2014, and Heiresses of Russ 2014.

When I come back from Blacksburg, I'm home for three days, then we are headed back to Virginia, to say in Richmond for a week, birdsitting, which should be much easier than new-baby-and-parent tending. Sounds perfect for a return to Niccolo and his world.

What are you reading this rainy/sunny/cool/steamy day?

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What Am I Reading Wednesday May 27, 2015

I had to stop and think - what have I been reading? It's been an unsettled kind of a week.

What I Just Finished Reading

Sisters of the Revolution, a reprint anthology, full of disturbing, and ultimately depressing, stories. What's terrifying is that many of these stories are over twenty years old, but the themes are still current - they could have been written this year. I'm glad that I read it, I think, but it is not your feel-good-fun-stories kind of anthology.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater, the third book in The Raven Cycle. I loved the first book, but couldn't really get in to the second, so held off on reading this. I'm glad I finally did, though; it seems to connect more with the main thread of the first book, the search for Glendower. Though it seems the whole series consists of tangled threads, doesn't it?

I was looking for something short and uncomplicated (and available as an e-book from my library) but abandoned Dime Store Magic VERY quickly when cut for ickCollapse )NOPE

Still determined to complete my Women of Genre Fiction Challege as quickly and painlessly as possible, I next picked up Lois Lowry's The Giver and, oh, wow. A short book but very powerful in its vision of a sanitized culture that is just as distopian, in its way, as anything in The Hunger Games or Divergent. It's odd, but the story reminded me of a line from Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint, where Kathy Blount is considering Richard, who she hasn't hung around with for a while:
It chilled her to think that he believed it himself, that his life was free of all that made human life impossibly painful.
That's the society of The Giver - a world totally devoid of fear, or pain, or indecision, or joy. Fascinating, and a story that will stick with me for a long time, I think.

What I Am Currently Reading

A companion book (not sure if it's actually a sequel) to The Giver, Gathering Blue. More YA distopia, which I keep saying I'm going to give up, but this (as well as The Giver) is more subtle in its brutality, I think.

What I Am Reading Next

Not sure! Gathering Blue will complete a number of challenges I have on Worlds Without End; I may spend some time rereading old favorites or favorite fanfic or clearing off some of the unread books on my Kindle.

What are you reading today?

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What Am I Reading Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What I Just Finished Reading

Kindred of Darkness, the last James Asher book. (Did I see somewhere that there's another one coming out soon? Or is that wishful thinking?). You guys, I enjoyed this book, and this whole series, SO MUCH. The detailed historical background, the characterization (Miranda's plucky nursemaid, for crying out loud!), the whole James/Lydia/Don Simon Ysidro thing, whatever exactly that was - I cannot remember when I enjoyed a series so much. Many thanks to everyone who recommended these so enthusiastically!


What I'm Currently Reading

Sisters of the Revolution, which I got through Kickstarter (and had completely forgotten about until it showed up in my mailbox, both virtual and real, this week). These stories are amazingly powerful, and also terrifying, when you consider that many of them were written years ago, and are still frighteningly on-topic right now.


What I'm Reading Next

I had read the first two books in Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle, but then got sidetracked by moving, etc. Reading some of her recent Tumblr posts got me interested again, so Blue Lily, Lily Blue from the library today.

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Two more days of Mini-NaBloPoMo! And not a moment too soon; I've almost run out of things to talk about, and I'm sure you're tired of the picspams. *grin*

Today I am giving away a book! It just arrived in the mail; I got it for participating in a Kickstarter. Normally I just get the Ebook versions, and so I'm not entirely sure of why I have it at all. And I'm excited to start reading it, as soon as I finish up with James Asher and his current difficulties. Anyway, the book I'm giving away is

Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology

Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology

Here’s the lineup, listed alphabetically by author:

“The Grammarian’s Five Daughters” by Eleanor Arnason
“The Men Who Live in Trees” by Kelly Barnhill
“The Evening the Morning and the Night” by Octavia Butler
“My Flannel Knickers” by Leonora Carrington
“The Fall River Axe Murders” by Angela Carter
“The Forbidden Words of Margaret A.” by L. Timmel Duchamp
“Boys” by Carol Emshwiller
“And Salome Danced” by Kelley Eskridge
“The Perfect Married Woman” by Angelica Gorodischer
“Tales From the Breast” by Hiromi Goto
“Stable Strategies for Middle Management” by Eileen Gunn
“The Glass Bottle Trick” by Nalo Hopkinson
“Their Mother’s Tears: The Fourth Letter” by Leena Krohn
“Northern Chess” by Tanith Lee
“Sur” by Ursula K. Le Guin
“Seven Losses of Na Re” by Rose Lemberg
“Love and Sex Among the Invertebrates” by Pat Murphy
“The Palm Tree Bandit” by Nnedi Okorafor
“Gestella” by Susan Palwick
“The Mothers of Shark Island” by Kit Reed
“The Sleep of Plants” by Anne Richter
“When It Changed” by Joanna Russ
“Fears” by Pamela Sargent
“The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet” by Vandana Singh
“Detours on the Way to Nothing” by Rachel Swirsky
“Aunts” by Karin Tidbeck
“The Screwfly Solution” by James Tiptree, Jr.
“Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time” by Catherynne M. Valente
“Home By The Sea” by Elisabeth Vonarburg

Sorry to say, I do not think I will be able to ship this internationally. *sad face*
If you are interested, let me know in the comments. If there are more than one of you interested, well, I'll figure out something. Random number generator? Birthday closest to mine? Something or other.

In other news...there is no other news today. The weather is still beautiful, though we need some rain The baby birds are just as cute as ever. Some of the new plants I just put in are getting ready to bloom! So you see, no new news at all.

What Am I Reading Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My backyard is full of baby birds! Of course they scamper/fly away whenever we come anywhere near. So much fun to watch!

What I Just Finished Reading

Magistrates of Hell, courtesy of [profile] wordsofastory. James Asher and Lydia and Don Isidro in China! With zombies, or something! Who cares! I really love the devotion between James, Lydia, and Don Isidro, how much they've come to mean to each other, and how conflicted poor James and Lydia are where Don Isidro is concerned. I think (besides the first one) this one was my favorite one so far.

What I Am Currently Reading

Well, I haven't actually started it yet, but Kindred of Darkness, the last James Asher book is up next. I'm really surprised at how much I've enjoyed this series; I'm not a vampire/zombie/werewolf fan at all, but the settings and characterizations are all top-notch.


What I Am Reading Next

Probably a fanfic break; I haven't come across any Age of Ultron rec lists yet, but [personal profile] sholiohas finished a nice long meaty Sam and Bucky piece:

Wing and a Prayer (32248 words) by Sholio
Chapters: 4/4
Fandom: Captain America (Movies), Marvel Cinematic Universe
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: James "Bucky" Barnes & Sam Wilson
Characters: Sam Wilson (Marvel), James "Bucky" Barnes
Additional Tags: Action/Adventure, Wilderness, Survival, Hurt/Comfort, steve cameo, Friendship, Team Bonding, Not Avengers: Age of Ultron (Movie) Compliant
Summary:

Bucky and Sam fall out of a HYDRA plane into the Canadian wilderness. Nothing like a hundred-mile walk to civilization while severely injured and being hunted by HYDRA, right?

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Lilac icon! Because my lilacs are even more beautiful than last week. Moving here was one of the best decisions ever. *happy sigh*

What I Just Finished Reading

Days of Blood and Starlight
, the second part of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. So good, you guys! More about this when I've finished the third one.

Enchanted, by Alethea Kontis.

I wish I could have liked this more than I did. The characters were entertaining, and some of the writing was beautiful, lyrical, and witty. On the other hand, it seemed choppy, as if bits were being tossed in as set-up for future novels in the series, without really being integrated smoothly into the current plot. And a surprising amount of telling-not-showing. *sad face*

What I'm Currently Reading

The third Daughter of Smoke and Bone book just became available, so wheeee! I plan to just park myself somewhere and read until it's all gone. (There's an e-book novella, featuring two of the secondary characters, but it was just too fluffy and sweet for me to read. Not its intended audience, but that's ok.)

What I'm Reading Next

Not a clue; possibly another Barbara Hambly James Asher book? I'm not seeing “Avengers:Age of Ultron” until Mother's Day weekend, because I am a very cool mom that way, so I'll have to hold off fic/Tumbler/probably the whole Internet for a little while.

What Am I Reading Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day! It was lovely and sunny earlier, but now it's thunderstorming. All good for the garden, though. As promised, here are my lilacs:

20150421_111100

Coming next week, Mystery Shrub! This garden is full of surprises.

What I Just Finished Reading

Queen's Hunt, by Beth Bernobich, the second part of the “River of Souls” trilogy. This one was plottier, much more of an action-adventure story than the romance of the first one. The use of magic, and the all the various political shenanigans, seemed to make more sense. The creation and reincarnation mythos was still a bit beyond me, though. I would give a B+ for effort, but a C for execution.

I had checked the third book out from the library, but I looked at my To-Read List, had a little talk with myself, and brought it back. You know how when you're reading a great trilogy, you just can't wait to move on to the next book? I never had that feeling for these; no emotional investment at all. So sad.

Traveling with the Dead by Barbara Hambly, the second of the James Asher series. James and Lydia seem to be very sympathetic to vampires who are of their own social class - Don Isidro, Anthea, Ernchester - don't they? They tend to quickly kick to curb the ones who were cheap whores and pickpockets. Interesting. Lots of vampire politics and power struggles, as well as real-world political ones. The descriptive writing, as always, was a delight, vividly conveying the sights and sounds and smells of 1908 Paris, Vienna, and Constantinople. [Spoiler (click to open)]I really expected Don Isidro to have killed Margaret. His treatment of her throughout seemed so callous (granted, she was a very annoying character) that I was surprised that the author took the easy way out, leaving her to be killed by another vampire who just happened to be in the neighborhood in search of a snack.


What I'm Currently Reading

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor. Ok, I did not know what I was expecting - maybe another teen distopia? - because sometimes I just grab books to fill one of my Women of Genre Fiction challenge spots. But OH. WOW. Everything about this book is amazing and unexpected and oh, oh, what gorgeous writing:

There was a look of wistfulness about her pale, pretty face – a kind of lostness - but the moment the vendor spoke to her, it transmuted to a smile like light. She answered easily, making the man laugh, and they bantered back and forth, her Arabic rich and throaty, with an edge like a purr.

If you liked The Demon's Lexicon, try this; you will probably like it much better!

What I'm Reading Next

The sequel! Days of Blood and Starlight. And a third book, too. WHEEE

What Am I Reading Thursday, April 15, 2015

Look at my cherry tree! Still so pretty! And coming soon, lilacs!

wednesday cherry

What I Just Finished Reading

Passion Play

Because I am not sure how I feel about this book, here is my review in hashtags:

#puzzle-solving skill# hell no to forced marriage # every bad thing that can happen to a runaway happens # rescued by powerful stranger #castrato #what's the point of the bordello setting
#political intrigue #liked his boyfriend better #expected more excitement at the end than that

What I'm Currently Reading

Also in hashtag: #what the hell let's read the sequel Queen's Hunt

What I'm Reading Next

#oh there's a third one sure why not Allegiance

What Am I Reading Thursday, April 9, 2015

What I Just Finished Reading

Damiano's Lute

I wish I could have appreciated Damiano's Lute more. I wish I could have loved it at least a little bit as much as others have.

I picked up Damiano because a good friend remembered it fondly, and another friend wrote movingly of Damiano's redemption arc. But my head must not have been in the right place; I could hardly take Damiano seriously – he reeked to me of whiney emo-brat wizard wannabe. I nearly rolled my eyes up permanently in to my head. “But it must be just me,” I kept thinking, and soldiered on to Damiano's Lute. This one seemed less with the whiney brat, but more, oh, so much more with the melodrama, all garishly written, glaringly brightly-colored. I should love this kind of stuff! I adore historical drama! But, sorry as I was to see Damiano go, I couldn't help but breath a tiny sigh of relief.

Alif the Unseen

I loved the setting here, and really enjoyed the juxtaposition of fantasy and technothriller. The pacing seemed a bit odd, and the characters a bit wooden, but it was a really enjoyable change from the types of things I usually read.

Boy, Snow, Bird

I didn't know, until I looked at some reviews afterwards, that it was supposed to be a retelling of “Snow White” from the Stepmother's point of view. (Is that why it is considered “genre” rather than “literary”?) It was character- and mood-driven, rather than plotty, but the characters were nebulous; I couldn't get a strong grasp on any of them. There were certainly many surprises, enough that I had to go back to see if I had read carelessly and missed them. I'm not sure how I feel about this book – I think I will have to give it time to settle.

What I'm Currently Reading

The Demon and the City, the second Detective Inspector Cheng book, by Liz Williams. Buddy cop procedural with a demon cop and human cop! In Future!Singapore! Good stuff.

What I'm Reading Next

The last slot on my Women of Genre Fiction this year goes to Passion Play, by Beth Bernobich, whom I had never heard of until Ellen Kushner mentioned her the other day. This series looks very good and right up my alley.

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