Have finished:
The geek feminist revolution by Kameron Hurley. Continued to be excellent. I’m so glad this made the Hugo finalists. I wanted a reference list/publication dates for the essays because there’s such a gulf in my head between pre-45th president and now (her article about the Affordable Care Act and how it saved her life is particularly gutting), that I wanted a context for how soon the Terrible Things were looming when she wrote various things. But this is still excellent. Going to vote it highly, I say not having cracked Carrie Fisher’s book yet.

The stars are legion by Kameron Hurley. The world building is fascinating (all-women populations on organic spaceships the size of worlds) and I want to know All The Details of this brutal, amazing creation. But the main character has amnesia (which is a trope that sometimes works for me, often doesn’t), and the other characters didn’t give me the details I craved. I’m hoping she might put out short stories after the fact, and would 100% join her Patreon to read whatever she put out about it.

Currently reading:
A closed and common orbit by Becky Chambers. A few pages in, and super delightedly charmed. This has that wavering potential to be awful for me, or excellent: I’m so distressingly squicked by the ‘aliens [or in this case AIs in first-time human bodies] fumble through human interactions for the lols’ trope, and so delighted and comforted by ‘people help newly-landed whoever integrate kindly and well’. I trust Chambers so far, but am reading carefully.

Up next:
Not sure. Might fall back on my old strategy of reading the Amazon samples of the rest of the Hugo novel finalists and seeing what hooks me in.
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maharetr: Comic and movie images of Aisha's eyebrow ring (The Losers) (Default)
( Apr. 4th, 2017 08:20 pm)
Have finished:
Amulet 6: Escape from Lucien. - this took a sharp turn to the mecha. I’m not averse to giant human-controlled robots, but I wasn’t expecting them in my previously-solidly-fantasy story. Once I adjusted, though, we were back on track with cute characters and a rollicking story.

The long way to a small angry planet by Becky Chambers. This is a first novel, and it shows in ways that I itch to tweak (emotional beats that I want to strengthen, two-ish too many characters to handle, a little overtly barrow-pushy) but these are really just the quibbles that stand out because the book otherwise has such heart, and such a solid core. The more I read and settled into it, the more I grew to like it. Talk of humanity and cultural differences and queer relationships and found family and comfort touch. Near the end, when something actually happens, I was riveted and worrying for this found family and grieving with them. The sequel looks like it’s also going to give me so many pleasing tropes to roll around in, and I burningly want to get my hands even though I’ve got more pressing things on my to-read list.

I hadn’t wanted to nominate quite so blindly for the Hugos (the sequel was eligible, as was I guess both of them as a series), so I’m holding my breath for the reveal in a few hours.

Currently reading:
The geek feminist revolution by Kameron Hurley. So I said I didn’t want to nominate blindly, which is true, but I nominated this collection of essays before I bought it. In my defence it wasn’t quite blindly: I continue to be blown away by We have always fought from some years back; the Amazon sample came out swinging, and it was endorsed by George R. R. Martin.

Now that I’m actually reading it, it is such a personal and brutally honest take on her life and her writing. It’s at once the comfort of the feminist women who have come before, and the uncomfortable knowledge that she’s there in front of you/me and explaining that there’s no one else to do this work: we must stand together. I have the urge to highlight passages and write !!! in the margins. *watches clock for the Hugo finalists*

Up next: (space cleared for interesting-looking Hugo works :D :D)
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maharetr: Comic and movie images of Aisha's eyebrow ring (The Losers) (Default)
( Mar. 17th, 2017 09:42 pm)
Have finished:
Amulet volumes 3, 4, & 5, too sleepy to look up the proper titles: continues to be charming of character and gorgeous of art. Has "And then the fire nation attacked!" level of worldbuilding that, like The Last Airbender, then builds on it to say pleasing things about loyalty and character and power (and who gets that power and why and how). Volume five made me gasp a "wow" out loud, and then an "oh fuck" at the end. I'm really impressed with all of it.

DNF (did not start?): Ghost talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal. I'd been so delighted by her short fiction a while back, and had been stoked to read a book of hers, but when I read the Amazon sample, I was startled and sadened by how clunky and wooden it was. Maybe it's the difference between first and third person, but sadface!

Just finished a minute ago: I'd been planning to Much Hugo short fiction reading from Abigail Nussbaum's short fiction post, but I only read a few, and nomination deadline is hard approaching.

I did read Gracia by Susana Vallejo, translated by Lawrence Schimel) which I haven't nominated. It was really good! But I find the 'genuine no-hope' stories, even (or maybe especially) the quiet ones, where no more children are being born and things are just drifting to a stop a-la Children of men really unsettling. It's not the story's fault, and I give it kudos for its effectiveness, even but still. I hope others can love it like it deserves.

Brushwork by Aliya Whiteley. This I did nominate. One of the complaints I have about Old man's war by John Scalzi (which I adored, btw) was that it never felt like the POV character was actually old. In Brushwork, they are that old, and they're feeling it, and feeling the eyes of the young people who come to raid the compound the characters are living/being held in and I'm too tired for a porper review but I really liked it, for all that it needed a final edit.

Up next: Now that the first part of the Hugos are essentially done, I can curl up with other reads. I'm looking foward to starting The long way to a small angry planet by Becky Chambers which is on my bedside table right now even.
Have finished:
The stonekeeeper and The stonekeeper’s curse (vol 1 &2 of Amulet) by Kazu Kibuishi: After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous. This graphic novel series has regularly past across my desk in both jobs I’ve been at, but it looked kinda childish and I only picked it up because I was assessing suitability for something ... I was so mistaken. I really felt for both the mother and the kids, and loved the characterisation of all of them. The art is simple but also gorgeous, and the characters and the everything is just..straightforward and charming and I found myself grinning indulgently at the page, and laughing aloud more than once with charmed. It’s the “And then the fire nation attacked!” level of simple, but it’s also The Last Air-Bender’s level of teamwork and found family and charm. I’d esp rec this for people with low English skills, but generally rec it for anyone who wants a charming graphic novel read.

Zombies, run! by Naomi Alderman and Six to Start: I’d expected a fitness book with a veneer of zombies. What it turned out to be was how to stay sane and healthy in the zombie apocalypse. Now that I’ve read it once and adjusted my expectations, it’s an excellent, straight-faced, delightful ‘how to stay sane and healthy in the zombie apocalypse’: home fitness and strengthening exercises, staying sane while homebound, building communities where you can, living in close quarters with strangers, recipes using canned goods, and throughout a pervasive message of “even a little bit is something”, “even a little bit is still progress”. I give them a little kudos for mentioning people with chronic illnesses, too.

Currently reading: Now finished!: God’s war by Kameron Hurley. Twitter has been eating all my transit reading time (I need to sort some political lists or something), so finishing this has been slower than expected, but I’m still loving the world building and the characters and their fraught relationships. I am so there for 'women have taken over the culture because the men are dead/warring'. The ending was legit satisfying. It’s similar to Ancilary Justice in that now I understand how things unfolded I want to go back and re-read with my new-found worldbuilding understanding and ‘properly’ understand how it all fit together (or jump straight into the next in the series, either would work)... but with the Hugo nominations so close I want to get at least some short fiction done.

Up next: The power by Naomi Alderman. I want to read this. I’m not sure I’m 100% up for its brutality right now, but maybe if I organise a ‘breather book’ in between...

(Reading the sample on Amazon) I was ready to be peeved by the artifice of the “letters bookending the ‘manuscript’ that one wrote” (it’s not something I like that much etc) and then I realised that letter-writer ‘Naomi’ has only ever lived in a female-controlled world and it shows, and I started to get interested. And then I read the second of the ‘Bible’ quotes, from the Book of Eve ("She cuppeth the lightning in her hand. She commandeth it to strike.") and is it too much of a pun to say that I’m electrified?

25% in update: oh my god. I needed this so much. I’ve read 25% in less than two days. I know it’s all about to get uncomfortably brutal, but right now it’s young women tipping the balance of social power and one teenage girl having the voice of God says yes to me in her head and creating a whole new religion that we know is going to last. I stumbled over a reread someone’s doing on Tor of The handmaid’s tale and between that and the current global political situation just makes The power even more like a desperately needed soothing balm. It might all be able to go to hell, writing and/or plot wise, but right now I want a physical copy just so I’ve always ‘got’ one to hand.

ETA: DONE in about 48 hours. and I'm left flinching and flailing. It was just as brutal as i'd feared and also just as good and i don't know how to feel about any of it except I'm going to go add it to my Hugo nominations. That last line was a shout of wry laughter/gut punch all in one.

Up next: The next of the Stonekeeper graphic novels. I'm very in need of light(er) and sweeter right now.
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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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.
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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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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What I've read this year:
Arclight by Josin Mcquein: A solid enough post-apoca YA novel. Strong opening pacing. I finished it thinking that I would be interested in reading the second one, once she needed a plot, and where she'd take that plot.

Gifts by Ursula Le Guin: A bequilingly simple story. It does facinating, tiny things; setting us up with an expectation of Horrifying, Inevitable things to be revealed. This expectation kept me reading for a good half of the novel, even though there wasn't much in the way of plot. And then Le Guin introduces a gutting emotional component that kept me transfixed for the next quarter... and then she deftly subverts that initial expectation, does the reveal, and it's nothing like what we expected, and so much more horrfying than I ever expected, and I'm even now faintly shivery about it, thinking it through. Also interested in reading the sequel and where she starts/takes her plot.

Attempted to read:
A Thousand Kingdoms by N K Jeminsin: I gave it 50 pages, and then stopped because of consistencies and holes in worldbuilding. People are welcome to assure me it firms up, and I'll wade through the lengthy dream sequence that was the dealbreaker at page 50ish.

What I'm currently reading:
Monstrous regiment by Terry Pratchett
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Shiver by Maggie S: Girl is transfixed by wolves in the woods at the back of her house. Wolves are werewolves. It had a pretty, pretty cover and a few people talked approvingly of it. I kept reading this partly because it was a substantial writing-improvement over the last two books I picked up, and partly because I was curious to see if there would suddenly be plot in the second half. Answer: not really, although at nearly the half way mark it mentions wonderful backstory of made-family as a lead up to sudden tension... and then drops the tension until the last hundred pages when finally I’m engaged and want to know what happens next, but god it was a long time coming. I’m not sure if I’ll pick up the sequel or not.

Before I die by Jenny Downham: Tessa is sixteen, and she’s dying. She has a list to finish before she goes *exhales* This was a wonderful read. Poignant without being sentimental, and angry and freaked out and delighted in all the right places, this hooked me from the first few pages. The time-jumps between chapters jarred sometimes, but this is still a fantastic, beautifully written book. Highly recommended.

Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodhouse: I enjoyed the language, and the grimness and Ree and Gail’s relationship and care for each other in particular, but I never felt emotionally gripped by the story. M pointed out that Ree is basically taking on the man’s role, and wondered (paraphrased) if that’s what made Ree’s story ‘worth’ writing about. We’re both wondering if and how it would have been written differently if a woman had told the story.

Night watch by Terry Pratchett: I was delighted by lots of this book, the ‘seamstresses’ and the actual seamstresses; Vimes setting himself up as Keel, and whole bunch of things. I feel like I’m... missing something, possibly not having read a Guards book before. To other books in the series!

Extremely loud & incredibly close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Huh. I started this book being entranced and impressed by Oskar’s voice, and enjoying it. I loved his search for the lock, and the way he went about it, and the whole resolution of that arc. I found myself being mostly confused irritated by the grandmother’s and grandfather’s story as it went on that I spent half the book speed-reading. I’m not sure, on balance, if he has an excellent grasp of character voice (namely Oskar’s), or if he’s writing the same character again and again. Also, I somehow got it into my head that Oskar had Asperger’s, although it’s never explicitly mentioned, to the point where I’m not sure if I mixed it up with something else or what. I was utterly, utterly delighted by Stephen Hawking’s letter, regardless. *draws little hearts*
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maharetr: Comic and movie images of Aisha's eyebrow ring (The Losers) (Default)
( Feb. 1st, 2011 02:50 pm)
I shall wear midnight by Terry Practchett: This still has everything I love about Pratchett and the witches – the wry humour; the touching, human moments (“What good is a sky without stars?”, indeed; the willingness to face dark issues head on; the women being fabulous in so many ways and passing the Bechdell-Wallace test with flying colours in word and in spirit. It also feels like it’s suffering from not quite enough editing, the opening pages in particular. Aside from that, this is Pratchett saying goodbye to Tiffany, and probably the witches, and wishing her well on her life. She’ll be Just Fine, and kick arse while she’s at it.

Watermark by Penelope Todd: This had a fantastic beginning: mysterious note! Girl plunging into the unknown! A cool, mysterious brother and sister; queer-friendly moments and a wooden cabin, with survivalist-type trappings. <3! And yet, when I’d finished it, it felt just a little too crowded with events and significant happenings without quite enough follow through or time for any of it to have its full impact felt. Solidly written, but I don’t feel inspired to pick up the sequel.

Dirt Cheap by Elisabeth Wynhausen: The Australian version of Nickled and dimed. Not quite as interesting as I’d hoped, although it conveys the drudgery and feeling of being ground down every day, not being able to get ahead, quite well.

Lola Rose by Jacqueline Wilson: Surprisingly authentic, touching and realistic story of an English girl, her little brother and her mum escaping their violent mother’s boyfriend after they win the lottery. Recommended.

The other hand by Chris Cleave: I’m torn about this one. On one hand, the voice of Little Bee is wonderful, and parts of this book terrified me. On the other, the ending was pretty o.O ‘..they did what now?’ It really didn’t warrant the ‘this is a very special book, and we don’t want to tell you anything about it so you can watch it unfold’ type marketing.

Never let me go by Kazuo Ishiguro: I grabbed this off the shelf at work based on the movie trailer. The trailer gives away everything that happens in the book, but frankly, so does the book in the first few pages. I read it, mildly curious but not gripped, and spent some time thinking about it afterwards. I was completely convinced by Ishiguro’s British voice – the narrator sounds like my grandmother so completely. I think I’m so used to narratives where the point of main character/s Rise Up and overthrow the bad things, and this... isn’t that narrative, that I felt like something was missing. Nothing’s missing though, it’s just a very quietly introspective look back at a character’s life. I don’t know if I recommend it or not.
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I started keeping (rough) track of what books I was reading in December 2009, and based on that count (and acknowledging that there's almost certainly books I've forgotten to record) I've read 54 books this year. Clearly, the way to do 52 books in 52 weeks thing was to stop trying :P

I signed up for mini_nano on LJ this year, and with [personal profile] meghanc holding my hand and poking me and cheerleading me, I wrote 16,119 words in 30 days! That's the most I've written in... well, definitely this year, and definitely the most ever in a recorded time frame. I've got three-ish short stories, and a document with 9905 words in it that probably still has god-know-how-many words left to go. Holy shit.
Mice by Gordon Reece
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Nothing to envy: love, life and death in North Korea
No major spoilers or anything
October-ish reading )

Digger, parts 1, 2 and 3 by Ursula Vernon
Black juice by Margo Lanagan
Magic or madness by Justine Larbalestier
Tomorrow all will be beautiful by Brigid Lowry
No major spoilers below or anything.
November-ish reading )
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July-ish
Gone tomorrow by Lee Child: One of the ones I bought to read on the plane, but I opened it, read the first few pages and then went and bought another one to read on the plane, so I could read this one immediately. The opening pages of Gone Tomorrow are *fantastic*. It rolls into a familiarly convoluted plot, but I still swallowed it whole, from memory.

Killing floor by Lee Child: one of his earliest novels, and it shows – it’s a lot wordier and unnecessarily dense prose-wise, but still good. Holly is such a bad-ass, although I would have liked her fundamental reason for being kidnapped to be more about her as it had appeared to be promised.

The enemy by Lee Child: Jack Reacher flashback to his army days. I spent the first third of the book mentally (and sometimes out loud) shouting: ‘or he could be gay. Did you consider he might be gay? There’s this thing called being a man who’s attracted to other m – oh, there we go! Well done!’ I am charmed by the sense I got that Lee Child really, really wants to make sure he thinks gay people are Just Fine, and are People even! Which... given how right-wing most of his readership are, possibly isn’t a bad thing to state outright.

Nothing to lose by Lee Child: Yeah, I was on a bender. Shut up – I was on holidays! Big chunks of the ending made No Sense. However Spoiler for part of the mystery )*draws little camo hearts*

August
A small free kiss in the dark by Glenda Millard: I was seriously primed to like this one: the title and the cover are gorgeous, and the subject of a runaway boy making a family with the people he meets is right up my alley. The language is simultaneously that of a kid, and touchingly profound in places. But there are weird silences here: early on the boy sees chalk drawing of Native Americans which then echoes throughout the book. It made me assume it was set in America, when it’s actually apparently set in Melbourne. I can’t help thinking that there had to be some way to respectfully include Aboriginal Australians rather than inserting a culture from the other side of the world. I didn’t like the author’s treatment of Tia, not to mention there seemed to be several crucial action sentences missing near the end... “wait, what? Who is seriously injured and how?” Also, where did they get their water from? So, too many grumbles to properly recommend this book, but I might look at her others.

Oxygen by Carol Wiley Cassella: The language of this book was wonderful, a competence that just rolled on beautifully. I loved the early scenes of her in the operating theatre, and was completely there for the main character’s grief and guilt. I think, though, that this was a case where the cover quotes let it down badly; two of them mention a ‘shocking twist!’ which... I was fully expecting something which is never a good way to approach a twist, but when it came it was... not so much a twist as a rolling on of the plot, and a filling in of things that had been niggling at me. So I feel a little let down by the lack of advertised Shocking Twist! But it was still an excellently written book.

My stroke of insight by Dr Jill Bolte Taylor: a short, fascinating look into how the brain works, and which bits we use to process the world and what happens when the part that says ‘I am an individual, distinct in the world’ drowns. Recommended.
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