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
Mice by Gordon Reece: Let me start off by saying that I inhaled this book, and read it in about 12 hours, which includes non-reading time of the standard workday, and staying up til mumble-AM to Find Out What Happens. That said, I have serious reservations about this book. I felt really manipulated by the circumstances that the author put his characters in – all the great big flashing arrows point to them having No Choice but to take the actions they did, which... no. Also, I fully support narratives where people learn to overcome bullying and find inner strength and power-from-within, but... murdering people to get there? Not so much.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins: A fitting end to the series, although the end of this arc was a little bit twee. Katniss is appropriately very broken during this book, and I like the way Collins handled that. I kept reading out of mild curiosity rather than a burning desire to know, but it still managed to deliver a few gut-punches towards the end.

Nothing to envy: love, life and death in North Korea by Barbara Demick: an intense study of North Korea, the politics and the social system, through the eyes of people who lived through it (well, their narratives recounted from interviews). I had no idea about any of it, really, and it was a very informative read. Doubly so looking at how people coped with the economy grinding to a halt and having no food. I really want to read about the collapse of the USSR now.

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.


Digger, parts 1, 2 and 3 by Ursula Vernon: Oh, my heart! T originally loaned me the first one, and I was smitten, but it took me a long time to get around to ordering my own copies. I love Digger so much: Digger is a wombat, and she’s practical and kind and fierce. In a brilliant passing of the Bechdel-Wallace test, a huge number of the characters she encounters just happen to be female – and also warriors and priests and shrews... I am charmed and delighted by Shadowchild, and Vernon’s ability to make me laugh out loud on one page, and plunge me deep into a discussion of what good and evil are on the next page. Highly recommended. You can buy the first three volumes here (send her money, so she makes more!) and/or read it online from the beginning (and to keep reading into the chapters post-books, as well) here” (link goes to the very first page).

Black juice by Margo Lanagan: I first read ‘Singing my sister down’ when it was nominated for... something big, and it was shattering then and it was shattering re-reading it now. However, the rest of her short stories in this volume don’t quite pack that same punch. I feel like they either lose power near the end (‘House of the many’), or the last line has a sudden strength that the rest of the story didn’t (‘Earthly uses’) or it was a contextless piece of a much larger story (‘my lord’s man’). I’m going to read the ‘Best Australian short fantasy’ now with great interest to see how others do it.

Magic or madness by Justine Larbalestier: her first novel, and you can tell – Liar was a skilled piece of craft, for example, and this is less so -- but it’s still a solid piece of work. 'Reason is magic' is a fabulous phrase. I was all interested in the descriptions of New York in the dead of winter, and I grinned when Reason was thinking “22 degrees? But 22 is nearly warm, and this is *freezing*. It was interesting watching the plot unfold, from a newbie plot-writer perspective, and reasonably fun to watch it reach its somewhat predictable conclusion – and then it abruptly ups the ante in the last few pages, and I want to read the rest now! (Note: started reading the second one, but it sadly didn’t hold my attention.)

Tomorrow all will be beautiful by Brigid Lowry: This was a darling little book. A collection of the author’s poems, short stories, autobiographical pieces and ... stuff, it delighted me, even as it dealt with some heavy stuff (parent’s suicide, depression, hospitalisation etc. etc.) Recommended.
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