Today is a good day. Ink & Steel is out. I think Bear was still working on this when I began reading her LJ, because this was the first thing of hers I remember wanting to read. When the Jenny books came out, I was like, “Eh. That’s nice. But where’s Will & Kit’s Bogus Journey?!” And here it is at last.
Havemercy looks interesting and is getting tons of great reviews. The description makes it sound a bit like His Majesty’s Dragon, which is great unless it’s followed by a string of disappointing sequels. Threw that into the Amazon cart too.
Alas, I’m busy with work this week, and won’t get much reading time. In fact, Jhegaala will be out before I get around to this week’s haul.
It occurs to me that it’s been ages since I did a review round-up. Here’s what I’ve read recently-ish:
(cut because this got very long)
A Shadow in Summer, Daniel Abraham — Lovely writing, great setting detail, didn’t work for me at all. I was fascinated by the way gestures are part of the language of the culture. That was a great way to make it clear that these people are not us. Unfortunately, I spent the entire book wanting to slap the characters upside the head.
The Little Lady Agency and Little Lady, Big Apple, Hester Browne — very cute Brit chick lit. Mike handed the first one to me saying, “It’s like Bridget Jones’s Diary without the neuroticism.” And so it was. I wasn’t as fond of the second book, in which the heroine was a total idiot half the time, but I’ll try the third book and see if she redeems herself.
Territory, Emma Bull — Amazingly wonderful, and I’m not big on Old West settings. Loved it. Great period detail, interesting and subtle magic system, fantastic character voices. Can haz sequel?
Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander, Ann Herendeen — Gay men in Regency England? I expected to love it. Alas, not so. Just… no.
Maisie Dobbs and sequels, Jacqueline Winspear — Great series. In London in 1930, Maisie is starting her own detective agency after her mentor retires. Most of her cases have to do with the lingering effects of WWI, and we get a lot of flashbacks to Maisie’s experiences as a nurse during the war. The author brings up a lot of themes I thought of as modern, but I’m wrong. In fact, I detected a pattern. First book: Zen meditation. Second book: cocaine abuse. Third book, I thought to myself, “This one’s going to deal with homosexuality.” And lo, it did.
Psion, Joan D. Vinge — That’s the second book of Vinge’s I’ve finished without liking, so I think I’m done with her work unless there’s a compelling reason to try again. I was interested in this one because it’s about a character struggling to deal with the unwanted knowledge telepathy brings him, and I’m dealing with that theme in my WIP. Ultimately I just didn’t enjoy the story at all.
From Dead to Worse, Charlaine Harris — This is what, the eighth or ninth Sookie Stackhouse book? And — spoiler — it’s the first one in which she doesn’t bonk anybody. In fact, she tells most of the awful men in her life to bugger off, and I cheered every time she did. This felt like a very transitional book; I think the series is going to change a lot from here.
Little Brother, Cory Doctorow — Technogeek propaganda dressed up in an adventure story. Doctorow pauses every few pages to deliver an infodump, which gets old after a while. I did learn a few things about networking and encryption, though. I do think it’s great to get these ideas in the hands of teens now, while we have such a demonstrably evil federal government as an example.
Free Fall, Laura Anne Gilman — The fifth novel in the increasingly disappointing Retrievers series, and the final one in the current story arc. Should be climactic. Is instead so boring I boxed up the entire series and put it up for grabs on BookMooch. (Lisa: sorry, probably should have waited until you’d read it. Oops.) I’m sad, because I loved the first book. As for the rest of the series: too much
politics cuddly demon sidekick boyfriend, not enough roller derby.
The Host, Stephenie Meyer — You know how, in Meyer’s Twilight books, the main attraction for fourteen-year-old girls is that the gorgeous, wise, perfect vampire guy spends most of the books telling the average, plain, somewhat dim heroine how wonderful she is? Yeah, imagine the POV character going on like that over some guy you don’t even meet for half the book. And when she does, he smacks her around! Because she’s evil! And she’s OK with that! Honestly, if I hadn’t been sick, I probably would have thrown the book across the room, but it’s heavy and I didn’t have the energy. I did finish it, because I am a masochist. If I were Meyer’s editor, I might have pointed out the logical and moral flaws in her ending, but then I’d get fired because she sells a bazillion books.
Kushiel’s Mercy, Jacqueline Carey — Last book in Imriel’s trilogy. Mostly, I liked it. Among other things, we finally get to see Melisande again! However, the basis for the big adventure this time around was just so unbelievable that it cast a pall over the rest of the book. In a nutshell, foreign magic guy makes everyone in the city forget certain events and remember instead a fabricated version of reality. The problem with that is that such magic had never even been hinted at in the earlier books, where there’s lots of magic but it’s mostly derived from the gods/angels. The other problem is that it turns formerly wise, heroic characters into dupes. It got Imriel where he needed to go, but I felt like it happened because the author said so, dammit, and not because it derived naturally from the story up to that point. However, the battles were great, and seeing the now-Melisande instead of the Melisande everyone remembers makes up for a lot of shortcomings.
Magic Bites and Magic Burns, Ilona Andrews — Can haz book #3 now, plz? At first I had a hard time getting into Magic Bites. The worldbuilding was clever, but the situation wasn’t working very well for me. Then the heroine wandered into a dark alley to meet the leader of the shapeshifters, and the story took off. This is dark and gory stuff compared to other urban fantasy books, but it’s also really good.
Unpredictable, Eileen Cook — Isn’t.
And finally, a web book: Building Findable Websites, Aarron Walter — Practical, sensible ways to improve search engine placement, not overlooking the benefits of accessible and standards-based design. Great stuff.