Finished reading:
Disobedience by Naomi Alderman. Queer woman goes home to her Orthodox Jewish community after her Rabbi father dies. I nearly bailed, hard, at the 50% mark, actually; I couldn't see how it was going to end happily for any of the main characters, and for a bit there it looked like it was heading down the "town gossips get the facts/rumours entirely wrong" squicky trope. But it was short, and I had an externally imposed deadline of the library loan period, and that was enough to keep me going, and I'm so glad I did.

Somewhere in there it all smoothed out into being okay, and if not happy as such, then definitely characters being content with their (actively reaffirmed) life choices. And the ending was pointing towards new directions and people making changes -- not dramatic overthrowing regime changes, but the first steps in generational changes that means so much. Um, that was all very vague, but I ended up really really liking this one. It was all that plus a fascinating insight into a religion I know almost nothing about, too. I'd tentatively call it the Oranges are not the only fruit for Orthodox Jews, but it's been so long since I read said that I don't know how accurate that actually is. Would rec.

Currently reading:
God's war by Kameron Hurley. That was the best opening page EVER. Like, hello yes I am here for your body-brutal sci-fi pronoun-game scene setting, holy shit sign me up. There are so many brilliant deft little world building touches.

I'm currently in the throes of much deeper political/cultural scene-setting/exposition at page 100ish tho, so it's slightly a slog, but I'm expecting it to pick back up and also flag the important things as reminders later on.

Up next: God. No idea.
Just finished:
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. Surprised by how much I'm interested in seeing Breq's next chapters, so that's very pleasing.

Currently reading:
Disobedience by Naomi Alderman. I'd only known of Alderman via her spearheading/head writing for Zombies, run! which I really enjoy. Once I heard she had several books out, I went hunting. It turns out that even if they're still in print, they seem rather hard to get hold of. When I joined the public libraries of WA's e-book service (which is super excellent btw, do rec), I impulsively suggested they buy the lot of them. Public Libraries just informed me they've bought two! Which is super exciting. And I very long aside. Whatever.

I'm 13.5% into Disobedience and it's so far pervaded by a wonderfully calm, composed voice that's immensely soothing even as it describes a long-ill man dying abruptly in a synagogue. It's describing the lives of several very Orthodox (or former Orthodox) Jews, which is not a religion I have any second or even third hand experience, never mind first, so it's fascinating to me, along with being immensely soothing and somewhere I'm keen to curl up with each time for a few pages. Not to everyone's tastes, I imagine, but deeply mine.

What's next:

Not at all sure. So many books. So many series (well, two). Watch this space?
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Better late than never, I figure, and it was edging towards never, so...

Finished:
The one in a million boy by Monica Wood. This was a birthday present from my Granny: not a book I ever would have picked up on my own, but I'm so glad she gave it to me. It's a wonderful, engrossing read. A Scout boy who had been helping a 104 year old woman dies very suddenly. The story follows pre and post death: the old woman, the boy's mother, the boy's enstranged father, and it's... I ached for these people, and their stories, and how human and understandable they were, and how hard they were all trying. In the end, don't get happy endings as such, but they got the endings they chose, and it's all deeply, surprisngly satisfying. Would rec.

Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King. Finished at last! The last few hundred pages were amazingly gripping all over again. non-specific-spoilers )

Night school by Lee Child. I've read and adored many of Child's, but this one ... It's not bad, but by page 50 one of the [bad guy] characters has casually murdered a sex worker, and Reacher has beaten up four guys for no reason at all other than they got up in his face -- despite the fact that he's supposed to be being discreet. Both of which threw me for varying levels of loop. I kept reading, and finished it, but I spent most of it glad I'd bought it second hand. The baddie characters were in several instances described with vaguely racist tropes -- the Arab characters are constantly surrounded by flies in their home; the female messenger is from 'tribal areas' which is apparently shorthand for 'seen a lot of brutality'. :/ This is actually the third Reacher that I've sat back from and winced in some way, sadly. Maybe a break for a while.

Currently reading: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. Still somewhat of an intellectual read, although I was gripped for a while there in the lead up to the splitting of the Justice of Toren. And there are touches of absolutely horrifying, fascinating things such as the creation of ancillaries that I'm hoping I'd see delved into mroe in later books. Still enjoying it well enough, not entirely convinced I'll pick up the next two, but there's time yet to change my mind.

Up next: I stumbled over a copy of Flashforward in a second hand bookshop, which I hadn't even realised was a book, but I remembered the potential of the TV series and figured it was a great chance to see about a (supposedly, perhaps) finished coherent narrative about the whole thing.
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May the Wednesday reading meme resume! I stopped pretty hard during Yuletide -- I couldn’t talk about what I was reading because I was writing in that fandom, and any other books I picked up I’d get stuck in the “stop reading, you should be writing!” So I’d stop reading ... and then didn’t write. Oh, self. However, Yuletide is done for the year, and I’m feeling the reading itch again at last!

What I’ve finished:
Station eleven by Emily St John. Billed in several circles as a gentle post-apocalypse novel. Or one that’s set well into picking up the pieces. I read it long enough ago that the details are blurred, but I remember curling up in the world, and liking many of the present day characters. Would rec, I think.

Redacted until the 1st Jan: I know no one really actually cares, but I was revisiting for Yuletide, and the mods ask that we not reveal anything about what we wrote until author reveals on 1st Jan, so!

Also redacted: See above.

Currently reading:
The wolves of Calla by Stephen King: picking this back up post-Yuletide, and even longer than that -- I put it aside because I’d been reading nothing but The Dark Tower series for many weeks. This feels like an easy read compared to the below. Currently in a gore-filled bit that’s making me hesitant to read the final battle, but we’ll see how it goes. I’m reading it on tablet/phone, and the itch to read an ‘actual’ book is settling back in hard and deep.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. Several people had raved about it, it’s a Hugo beloved, the bookshop didn’t have The parable of the sower that I wanted, did have this on its rec shelves... etc. It’s a fascinating read, and had me hooked within the first two pages. It’s also sort of heavy going -- I’m not a native SF reader, and there’s a certain amount of prior learning that goes into SF reading that I have to redo each time I pick one up -- so it’s not comfort or fully emmersive reading yet, but I’m definitely persevering. I love what she’s doing with gender and humanity and point of view.

What’s up next:
Not sure. I have a shortlist (Anything by Naomi Alderman, The parable of the sower by Octavia Butler, etc. But I’m left reeling unexpectedly hard at Carrie Fisher’s death. I might see, once I’m done with the above, if I’m up for reading some of her works.
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maharetr: Comic and movie images of Aisha's eyebrow ring (The Losers) (Default)
( Oct. 9th, 2016 12:43 pm)
Holy shit, assignments came out fast this year! Hi!

Usual preamble here: if you've got an idea for Fandom that you want to write, go for it (try dodging my dislikes, maybe, but other that, go for it). Ideas, if you want them, under the cuts. I'm delighted by gen, slash, femslash. I'm good with explicit sex, but love non-sexual intimacy moments even more. (See below)

Likes )

If you're panicking about producing a fic where people have to Do Stuff, and there should probably be Plot and a Story Arc, and Character Development, and Characters Learning Shit! You totally don't have to. I'm all for 1,001 words of lazy Sunday afternoon; a bunch of vignettes or drabbles; a slice-of-life; a five-times fic; a missing scene or chapter, etc etc... I mean, if you've been bitten by a bunny that is all about the Plotty Character Development then shit yeah, run with it and be joyous. But it's not required.

Dislikes )

On to the fandoms!

The Martian )

The Arena - Lindsey Stirling )

Brides of Christ )

Say it with your project )

To reiterate!: use any of these ideas, or some, or none! If in doubt, feel free to hit up the mods who can pass on questions to me. Best of luck, have as much fun as you can, and happy Yuletide!
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What I finished: with two days to spare, even! \o/ Wizard and glass Book 4 of the Dark Tower by Stephen King.

I have... such astoundingly Mixed Feelings about this book. *blinks dazedly* There are no explicit spoilers under the cut, but there are many “I’m glad I got to read it cold and not knowing” things. So take that as you will.

First, not even a little spoiler:
Competency kink I didn’t realise I had: people riding/guiding their horses using only their legs/without their hands. Holy shit, I am so there for that.

Wizard )

So I opened the sample pages of...

What I'm reading now: Wolves of the Calla with a lot of built up WTF, and the sample pages in the back of my book (basically up to Andy announcing the first coming of the wolves. sub-chapter 1 -- do we have a proper word for those numbered sections? -- of the prologue) Did Not Help. At All. It rang as misogynistic POV character we were supposed to follow along with, plus the misogyny itself, plus apparent ableism and emotional/physical abuse and Welp. I was not in a good mood after that, and fully prepared to drop the lot.

...then I went onto Amazon and read the much longer sample provided and went 'Oh. Oh, wow. Huh. That's...Yeah, okay, hooked back in again." I've bought the ebook, and have just remembered I should go charge my tablet more. I swear, I have never had a book series drag me around quite like this.
*whiplashed, still here*
Finished reading: The waste lands by Stephen King. Within the fortnight, even! \o/ Annnd I'm falling for this series. I am embarrassingly susceptible to lone-ranger-competence, and not only is Roland the fastest draw in the west (tm) but in this book he's revealed as a skilled diplomat/people (...manipulator? negotiator...? that's up for interpretation, and I love it), and as we're settling into that deliciousness, Roland is watching a team member and knowing he's possibly got someone maybe not as skilled, but definitely someone as smart and sharp and nggggh.

I loved watching all three of them and the dog come together as a ka-tet, and I feel so hard for all the people who had to wait so many years for that cliffhanger to resolve in

what I'm reading now: Wizard and glass (Book 4). This was a fantastic score in the Guildford Book Exchange (this place has AMAZING stock, it's well, well worth the trip out there). Now that our characters are settled in (for the most part) it's time to start exploring wtf is going on in the world/s, and as of page 115 or so, I'm fascinated. I'm also aiming to get this read in a fortnight, although it's a good three hundred pages longer than book 3, so we'll see how that goes.

Up next: Book 5, almost definitely.
(Actually posted on Wednesday! Go me!)

Finished reading:
The drawing of the three by Stephen King. So I started this one sort of hesitantly, and it wavered between interesting and vaguely obligation reading, because I'd bought this as a paper book (yeah, I know I can still stop, but I Invested Money in it. It's been so long since I bought a fiction book, idek). And I read along, with that wavering interest, and then somewhere in the last hundred pages or so it slid into gear and I was going to bed early to keep reading and etc.

And I then I wavered over the third one, because I that's a goddamn seven book series I'm possibly staring down, and I wasn't sure about continuing, even after that gripped ending. Then I went and read [personal profile] rachelmanija's post (post contains big general spoilers for Book 2, and ... spoilers for book 3 that will be tasty tidbits if you've read 2, and probably brutal spoilers if you haven't read 2. If that makes sense.) And that post was enough to whet my appetite, and I've bought book 3 accordingly.

Currently reading: The waste lands by Stephen King, obv. I'm hoooping to try for a book a fortnight as general goal. We'll see how that goes.

Up next: If I don't fall straight into Dark Tower 4, definitely definitely going for Wake by Elizabeth Knox. My interest was piqued by Abigail Nussbaum's review, and I read the first few pages in the bookshop this afternoon, and dang, if I hadn't already committed to The waste lands I would have bought that instead. That looks to be some smooth writing, and I'm excite.
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Finished reading:
(DNF Sandman Overture Just didn’t care enough, nor have enough background to keep me reading.

The lady astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal. Good god. A novelette about a woman who helps colonise Mars but has never lost the craving to keep going, and what she does now that she’s old, her husband is dying, and she’s been offered another opportunity to get into space. (“I’m on Mars. It’s still a planet.”) THIS is how you do a short fiction -- take a concept and then build on it. Trust your reader to fill in the blanks, and that they'll take pleasure in doing so. *takes notes for self*

This was originally written for an anthology, Rip off, where an author takes a first line from a classic and runs with it. The Dorothy aspect could perhaps be slightly stronger, but was still a good fit. I felt like the ending could have had maybe a paragraph or two more to round it out, but none of that stops it from being a wrenching mediation on growing old, and mortality, and all of those things within the complexities of a life-long relationship. Excellent read, and I’m delighted to see she’s got a new book coming out in two weeks.

Currently reading: (By which I mean 'finished minutes ago')
The girl with all the gifts by M. R. Carey, Holy SHIT this is good. I inhaled it in three days, and am left reeling slightly and very satisfied. It starts out with the trappings of a YA dystopia and turns out to be a well-rounded adult zombie genre novel with strong characterisation and excellent world-building. It’s tightly written, well-plotted, and there are no less than three female characters doing differnent things and with complicated agendas. The two military men are written like people, too. I was startled to find out that while M. R. Carey is a pen name, it’s a pen name for a guy. Do rec!

What’s next: Settling properly into The drawing of the three (Dark Tower 2) by Stephen King with some trepidation. I had a love/hate relationship with Dark Tower 1 (loved and read the first half of it in two days, then it took me weeks to read the second half, for example). I’ve been told it gets better, and I’m definitely willing to give it a shot.
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This is both recounting reading and doubling as my Hugo writeups, so!

What I finshed An absolute fuck-ton, for me, over the last two weeks.
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit): aaahhhh! I read it, and then flailed a lot and was very spoilery in the comments of my last DW entry. After some debate and a lot of considering of the details, it’s going on the top of my Novel ballot.


(BEST NOVELETTE)
“And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed, Feb 2015) ahhhh! Reposting review here from a few weeks ago: I. Fucking. Loved it. It took me a while to settle into the sheer amount of swearing, but once I did I was making delighted little noises at my screen. I loved the main character, I believed wholeheartedly in her grudging admittance of her feelings, and grinned fiercely at the ending. I’ll be looking up other things by Bolander, for sure.

“Flashpoint: Titan” by CHEAH Kai Wai (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House) Chose not to read anything published by or directly associated with Theodore Beale. Life’s too short and he’s too gross.

“Obits” by Stephen King. *makes face* What a nasty little story. Guy who writes trashy, nasty obituaries for dead celebrities finds he can write the deaths of people still alive. Guy objectifies the shit out of the women he works with, and has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Plus, Character finds they have a Skill, Skill has unintended consequences, character stops doing Skill is… a nice set up, but it’s barely a story. I finished it because I usually really like King. This, not so much. The realisation that he’s still writing this type of male POV in 2015 is depressing. I’ve put this below No Award.

“Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu (Uncanny Magazine, Jan‐Feb 2015): That’s more like it. Well executed concept that’s woven into the tale of a character and his few days running illegal and profitable message running between the First and Second Spaces of Beijing that literally fold up the city at regular intervals. Well-crafted, and uses the physical division of the city to talk about class and labor and etc. It tempted with questions and answered at least one satisfyingly. The language was somewhat wooden, but I’ll chalk that up to translation. It could have gone into slightly more depth, maybe, but it’s still a solid entry in what was otherwise a rather weak/Castalia House field.

“What Price Humanity?” by David VanDyke (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House (see above)

(GRAPHIC NOVELS)
The Divine written by Boaz Lavie, art by Asaf Hanuka and Tomer Hanuka (First Second): Meh. Had good potential. I would have ranked it higher if I thought it was going to be an ongoing series of some kind, and therefore had the potential to achieve some depth. As it is, it’s a relatively shallow, macho-military hyper-violent type story, which… meh.

Erin Dies Alone written by Grey Carter, art by Cory Rydell (dyingalone.net): Webcomic, and a delightful one. A mentally ill young woman (agoraphobic? Social anxiety? Hasn’t left her house in some years) uses computer games to cope. And then the characters from her games start rocking up. This is charming, funny, and touching. There’s speculation here that the rabid puppies nomination was for the title alone, and that Beale hates someone called Erin and has no idea what it’s actually about. I’m inclined to agree, and have stuck it at the top of my ballot. I read all of it, even the half that wasn’t eligible for a Hugo having been published in 2016, I’ll be checking back on this one every now and then to keep up with it, even. Hugo worthy? Close enough.

Full Frontal Nerdity by Aaron Williams (ffn.nodwick.com). Double-meh, or half a meh, depending on what’s weaker. A long-running stand-alone webcomic that from what I can see from google images is all deep within tabletop gaming and seems very, very male. Which is fine, but I’m noticeably not its audience.

Invisible Republic Vol 1 written by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman, art by Gabriel Hardman (Image Comics): Complicated and relatively compelling story of a journalist who finds an alternate take on the rise of the revolution/ruler that’s just fallen. Sci-fi was more of the backdrop, here, but the characters that inhabited the alternate take were suitably flawed and complicated and I liked many of them. Female lead (sort of. Mostly), and casually married gay characters! Nearly tempted to find the second volume, even.

(Side short story)
Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong (found poking around the John W Campbell award finalists): Hella compelling tale, tightly crafted, confidently written, and very unsettling. Also queer as in NBD, and I read all 7000 words unhesitatingly in one sitting. A+. (Content notes for creepy as-fuck guys and a serial killer) This actually bumps Andy Weir off top spot for me -- mainly because while I loved The Martian, the guy now has a movie deal under his belt, and I'm betting Wong is waaaayy less known. So.

Currently reading:
The Sandman: Overture written by Neil Gaiman, art by J.H. Williams III (Vertigo): I’d read several of the original Sandman graphic novels, but they and I never quite clicked aside from the character of Death. As of writing, I'm half way through. The art is gorgeous but it’s so far-ever-so self-aware of itself as a book and verging on too smug for its own good. Still reading, but this isn't going to be the thing that gets me into Sandman proper, clearly. Ah, well.

Up next: OMG, still reeling. But probably the second Dark Tower by Stephen King.
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Has anyone read it? I just finished it minutes ago, and I have no idea how to feel. I know the odds that anyone in my circle has read it are low, but anyone want to have a spoilery as fuck conversation in the comments?

ETA: Comments are now FULL of spoilers that will shift your whole reading of the book if you haven't read it. etc etc.
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maharetr: Comic and movie images of Aisha's eyebrow ring (The Losers) (Default)
( Jul. 8th, 2016 09:08 pm)
Novellas -- reviewed in order of reading. Aiming for non-spoilery, unless there's a cut.

  • Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com): Currently reading. (45/100 pages) Not as tightly written as I might have hoped, but solid enough, and compelling complications that are keeping me interested. [On finishing, a few days later:] I really appreciate the non-white POV, and the paste was neat. But...but fridge light logic hit HARD with spoilers )

  • Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson (Dragonsteel Entertainment): Confidently written, it flirts with really interesting ideas of what it means to be alive/human/have autonomy etc, and then removes the most useful hinge of that. It's also noticeably Written By A Man, which is on one hand a reasonable thing, the author presumably being male! On the other, I'm tired of the male gaze on female characters. Not a bad story, but not the best, either.

  • Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds (Tachyon): Okay, the opening paragraph of this one made me keen softly with pleasure. seriously:

    My mother had a fondness for poetry. When my sister died, but before the news of my own conscription, mother showed me passaged from a work by Giresun. It was a poem called “Morning Flowers”.
    This was an illegal act.


    That glorious moment of craft was not quite backed up by the rest of the story, but I still read its 200ish pages in an afternoon. One of my bugbears is setting up a “not-a-reader’s-now” but not grounding it enough in what “story’s-now” means in your worldbuilding. Which meant that when the story hurls forward early in the piece, I did in fact feel too adrift. That said, the plot and the idea behind it was compelling. Also, female soldiers, and a well-written female lead! A+ would read more Alistair Reynolds (yeah, I know, I’m coming to sci-fi late, okay?) Will rank highly.

  • The Builders by Daniel Polansky (Tor.com): I was charmed by the Goodreads blurb, and the 10% or so that I read was well-written. A group of skilled anthropomorphized animals go on a heist after their last job went badly. It’s charming, and Daniel Polansky seems like a nice guy from my very brief background reading, I just don’t care enough about this story, and my reading time is limited. Didn’t finish, not through any particular fault of the story.

  • Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold (Spectrum): this was dense and delicious -- strong worldbuilding, and a very assured narrative voice (unsurprising, given it’s Bujold). It was dense enough that I couldn’t speed read it, and had to concentrate to settle into its rhythms, but that’s almost a plus. I liked Penric, and loved Desdemona (how the demon is also twelve others was...not a thing I retained during reading, and I’m still not clear on, but I was willing to roll with it). This was a pleasure, and I’d definitely read more in this world.



Current voting:
Penric’s demon by Lois McMaster Bujold
Slow bullets by Alistair Reynolds
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Perfect state by Brandon Sanderson
The builders by Daniel Polansky
No Award
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What I finished: (in no particular order)
Perfect state by Brandon Sanderson
Slow bullets by Alistair Reynolds
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
I have thoughts about all three of these that I'll pull together at some point. I know that's not quite the point of the meme to just list things, but I want to finish all of the short story category first.

The builders by Daniel Polansky -- put aside at 10%. It just didn't grab me, and my time is limited.

What I'm reading now: Penric's demon by Lois McMaster Bujold. Much denser than the others, and slower going for it, but interesting and engaging and has made me laugh, and wonder where it's going. A+ so far.

What's next: Either back up the Hugo finalists list to the novels and The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, or down to the novelettes and “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu, or “Obits” by Stephen King. Probably The fifth season.
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Missed last week, la la.

What I finished: Seveneves, which was flawed in several large and small ways, but I'm ultimately really glad I read it, and Binti, which I'm going to reread a little of to try and sort my feelings about.

Also read The water tower by Gary Crew for the first time, and holy SHIT, that was a legit scary picture book. (Intentionally so, but hot damn. Well done, Crew). Like, I was so unsettled about it hours later that I slept badly. *impressed*

What I'm reading now: Perfect State by Brendan Sanderson. Half way through and rather liking it but so far am having that invariable written-by-a-man effect of "...that woman who is not the POV character, why are we not following her?" (I mean I know why, even narratively, but *whines*)

What's next: Probably The Builders by Daniel Polansky.
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Hugo ramblings below!
long )
“Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon (Nature, Mar 2015) - This was competently written alien-POV. Nice ending, but I was never gripped. Currently 2.
 
 
“Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015) - Competently written AI-pov, made me smile. Currently 1

“If You Were an Award, My Love” by Juan Tabo and S. Harris (voxday.blogspot.com, Jun 2015) - Life is too short, and he is too gross.

“Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House) - Life is too short, and he is too gross.

Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle (Amazon Digital Services) - to read. Looking forward with great interest/trepidation. Great respect for Tingle’s response to the whole mess
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What I finished/What I'm reading now: Still going on Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. That said, I'm only 140 pages from the end, and I've been averaging 100 pages a day every day for the last week. That's freaking huge for me. It's been a really good read -- it's been so long since I've been itching to get back to a book when I'm doing something else. I've missed this feeling. I've even been willing to keep reading after it takes a sharp left/long time jump forward, which is saying something.

What's next It turns out The fifth kingdom... doesn't exist in the library system in my state? I'm kinda thrown. That'll have to wait until I buy my MidAmeriConII membership sometime next week, and therefore can get my hands on the reading packet. I've downloaded the free-to-read shorter pieces from the ballot to tide me over. Well, the not-obviously rabid puppy ones, anyway.
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I've not only been reading, I've been reading almost enough to justify the meme posting. Score!

What I finished:
Guards, Guards! by Terry Pratchett, which I'd not read before. I wasn't emotionally engaged as such, but it was an absolute pleasure reading this, and watching it unfold and then all come together. Pratchett had really started to hit his stride here, and it shows, glowingly, compared to, say, Mort, where the seeds were there, but not quite cohesive.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik. One of the three Hugo-nominated novels that made it through my Amazon-sample-chapter sample reading. I'll probably put all of those in a separate Hugo-reading post at some point.

What I'm reading now:
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. Second of the three Hugo novels. 70 pages in and so far, wheeeee.

What's next:
Seveneves is going to keep me busy well into next week, if not all of next week (800+ pages, oof. I'm budgeting for at least a week of reading/350 pages, then reconsidering). But The fifth season by N. K. Jemisin when I do get there.
maharetr: Comic and movie images of Aisha's eyebrow ring (The Losers) (Default)
( May. 15th, 2016 10:35 pm)
Vaguely keeping track of my reading, as I remember to do it. I'll try and remember to keep spoilers vague, and/or under a cut.

Book reviews

Paperweight by Meg Haston. An apparently run-of-the-mill story of a girl coming to terms with her eating disorder and the death of her brother, and yet near the end of it I wanted her story to just roll on forever. I would have read chapters/years more of so many of these characters, and felt a pang leaving them. I liked many of these characters, or were at least very interested in their stories, and what made them tick, and the glimpses we got of their lives. The main character, Stevie, is unlikeable and bitchy for much of the first half of the novel, but in ways that were, to me, clearly presented as unreliable narrator/defensive measures, and realistic ones at that. (I also give her kudos for the complexity of the relationships she writes about, and for no one blinking about making out with boys or girls, just ‘what was that like for you? what was the impacts surrounding that? what was that relationship like for you?’ etc) This was actually a really impressive piece of work, in retrospect. I’d totally look up more by this author.

Sandstorm by James Rollins. Was recced to me as ‘like Dan Brown, but good’, and the 50 or so pages I read backed that up: mysterious artifacts wreaking havoc! Ancient mysteries! Rollins gets bonus points for having several main female characters doing multiple things and having differing agendas. It wasn’t quite enough to keep me reading, but if you’re after a Dan Brown, but good, this looks like it would solidly, solidly fill that bill.

Mort by Terry Practchett. This was his third, and it shows -- I finished it, but I was only ever charmed, and not emotionally invested in Mort, or in the princess he was trying to save. The plot seemed to take a relatively long time to appear, and it all seemed sliiightly noticeably self-conscious as a piece of writing. I’m currently reading Guards, Guards, which is noticeably stronger all round, and I’m enjoying much more.

Shipwrecks, Sailors, and 60,000 years by Jackie French. Early Australian history with a children’s audience in mind. THIS is what I want out of my Australian history. It finishes with Captain Cook, but it starts with all the Indigenous history available and easily digested, and literally spends almost half of the 170 page book focusing on how the original settlers lives, and their nations, and their ways of life and their rich cultural histories. And then it talks about the known-in-detail discoveries of the continent, never once assuming the “and Captain Cook settled the land, of course!”. I appreciated this book so much. Would absolutely read more of her Fair Dinkum Histories series. Highly recced.
maharetr: Comic and movie images of Aisha's eyebrow ring (The Losers) (Default)
( Feb. 15th, 2016 09:30 pm)
I read enough books over the last couple of months that I feel the urge to keep track. So!

Have-reads (start date: mid-Dec 2015):

Carry on by Rainbow Rowell: A full novel treatment of the fan-fic world Rowell created for her book Fangirl. Wonderful, loving critique of Harry Potter, basically. Excellent construction of magic and the laws and rules therein. It’s wonderful to read what’s set up to be the seventh and final book of a series ... where the ‘getting you up to speed on the previous six books’ is actually describing things that are unwritten and don’t exist. Delightful! Dragged a little in the second half, but mostly inventive, clever, and charming. Strong enemies-to-lovers work, and yay for main character queerness. Minor grumble over the fact that they go “oh. we must be gay now, then? okay.” Bisexuality is a thing, okay?

When Audrey met Alice by Rebecca Behrens: What it’s like to be the First Kid, and learning from the diary of a historical First Kid along the way. Also charming. The author goes out of her way to make the First Family Very White, and then casually breaks the mold in other ways -- it’s her dad who gets the research funding at John Hopkins, and its her mother who’s the President of the United States. There’s also strong, strong message of pro-same-sex marriage, and trying to get that on the political agenda, which was a thing that was actually passed in the US the same year the book was published. The main character drove me nuts when she did various selfish things that were not actually acknowledged as such, but general concept and execution: charming.

Shards of honor by Louis McMaster Bujold: Really remarkably good. Affecting, for all its distanced writing, and wonderfully timed and wry in places. Looking forward to sequel.

Story of your life by Ted Chiang (Short story, 39p, available here): A linguist attempts to communicate with an alien race whose communication style is structured around knowing how things end before you start them. Beautifully and assuredly written. I didn’t quite ‘get’ it, but I felt achingly for this woman and her daughter.

The gunslinger by Stephen King: I was embarrassing levels of gripped by the first half, found the second half almost impossible with its dragging, and not wanting spoilers ) Willing to read more, though. Strong potential.

Not if I see you first by Eric Lindstrom: An exploration of a teenage girl and her relationships. Gutting to read right now. Really excellent exploration of friendships and romantic relationships, setting boundaries, and the impacts we have on each other’s lives, and how we grieve. Oh, and also being blind. Bugged by the stretches of unattributed dialogue, but that’s a minor quibble.

Next up: Barrayar (Vorkosigan ; 2) or The drawing of the three (Dark Tower ; 2) Barrayar, probably, because shorter, and alternating feels like a good way to go, somehow. Although between the main write up of this post and the actual posting now, I’ve found that my brain is not quite up to the effort it requires, and I’ll probably divert to The drawing of the three.

(DNFs: Cinder by Melissa Meyer: I’d heard good things, so I was keen, but it never quite hooked me, and it turns out that the ‘reader is strongly hinted to’ about X, and character finding out about X was waaayy too big a gap for me.)
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