chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

Reflections: On the Magic of Writing by Diana Wynne Jones
Diana Wynne Jones: The Fantastic Tradition and Children's Literature by Farah Mendelsohn

When I was in high school and even when I was at university, I could never figure out why anyone would want to discuss the structure, symbolism, etc. of the books they liked. Surely that would kill your pleasure dead, like picking apart a joke to see why it was funny?

I'm really not sure when this changed, but it was probably fannish reading that did it, and I'm guessing perhaps it was the various online analyses of the Sandman and Terry Pratchett's Discworld books.

In the past few months, with the help of my perceptive daughter, who knew what Mom really wanted the most off her Amazon wish list, I was able to immerse myself in the inner workings of one of my favorite writers, British fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones (1934–2011). Mendlesohn's book, which generally rambles through various overarching themes of Jones' work rather than marching along by publication date, offers a number of great insights into what's going on in the books and in some of DWJ's short stories. The book by Jones herself is a collection of articles, essays, and talks, and would be worth the price of purchase (for me, at any rate) simply because it contains the famous essay "The Heroic Ideal—A Personal Odyssey," which explores DWJ's fascinating and mystifying YA novel Fire and Hemlock from her own point of view. Actually, the other items in the book are enjoyable and useful as well.

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chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

"For the first time in a long time, I was totally relaxed, sure that nothing was going to ruin my good mood."

— October (Toby) Daye at the start of Chapter 2 of The Winter Long, vol. 8
of the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire (a/k/a Mira Grant)

Toby never learns, does she?

(Also, I still can't see "Amy" as a nickname for the name "Amandine" ... plus, to me, "amandine" is a culinary term that means with almonds.")

chomiji: An image of a classic spiral galaxy (galaxy)

Ann Leckie took Best Novel for Ancillary Justice! Go Ann go!

Also, Julie Dillon won for best pro artist, and Kameron Hurley not only for her wonderful essay We Have Always Fought but also as best fan writer.

Complete list available on the official Hugo site.

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

Yeah, I seem to be doing this monthly. *sigh*

What have you just finished reading?

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. YA fantasy with a Slavic-based setting. The heroine is a prickly, skinny girl who is a cartographer with the army, but she turns out to be The Chosen One and gets swept off for special magical training. She's a duck out of water in a way that reminds me a little of Menolly in the Harper Hall in McCaffrey's Pern books, with the queen bee girls being rude and prickly to her. About midway through she suddenly becomes healthier and prettier because Plot Reasons, and then she starts to like to try on dresses, and I realized that I didn't like her nearly as much. I then had to castigate myself for this, because I'm sure lots of the intended readers would love that part. There was some silly romantical stuff too, which I also disliked. And then Bardugo completely confounded my expectations about what the last part of the book was going to be like. Well done, author! I still don't think it's a great book: too many things happening with too little run-up (for example, Alina's relationship wth her childhood friend Mal would have been better with more showing, less telling, of their shared history), but I think I'm invested enough to get the sequel.

The Snake Stone, by Jason Goodwin, is the second Master Yashim book. I begin to see what [personal profile] flemmings was saying about the hero's sex life. It's annoying because Yashim might as well not be a eunuch, except that it means he can visit the seraglio in the palace. He's starting to read more like a man with a slightly low-ish sex drive instead. The cultural and culinary details remain interesting, and I liked the info about pre-Victorian archeology and book-collecting.

The Little Death by Michael Nava is the first volume of a mystery series about a gay lawyer, Henry Rios. It features a tragic Boyfriend in the Refrigerator and lots of Evil Plotting by the rich and the famous. I like Henry, although his situation is somewhat depressing. I will probably try the next one as well.

Four British Fantasists, which is a critical study and comparison of authors Penelope Lively, Alan Garner, Susan Cooper, and Diana Wynne Jones. The author, Charles Butler, is a member of the DWJ online mailing list. The book was interesting, and now I'm wondering whether I should fill in some of the books that I haven't read that are discussed, especially by Lively and Garner. Although I remember bouncing off Garner's Red Shift, and the things he wrote after that are apparently even more experimental.

What are you currently reading?

Another re-read for a writing challenge, and also volume 10 of the manga Bunny Drop, which basically short stories about Daikichi and Rin that didn't make it into the main series (which ended, plot-wise, with vol. 9).

What do you think you'll read next?

I just got an Amazon order that includes volume 1 of Fumi Yoshinaga's manga series What Did You Eat Yesterday? Also, volume 3 of the hard yaoi manga Crimson Spell (by Ayano Yamane), and the latest volumes of Marjorie Liu's Hunter Kiss series (Labyrinth of Stars) and Ben Aaronovitch's Peter Grant series (Broken Homes). The Aaronovitch has been getting mixed reviews, but I have to at least give it a try because the earlier books were so awesome. (These are both urban fantasy, for those unfamiliar with them, but very different in tone and scope.)

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

Maybe I can get around to this ... monthly?

What have you just finished reading?

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, at last. For a while, it seemed like everyone on my f-list was reccing this. and I got a copy for Hanukah … but kept putting off reading it. It sounded like it was going to be unrelentingly sad, and also, as a Jewish child of the 60s, I was subjected to loads of documentary footage on Holocaust atrocities as part of my religious school curriculum, so I was very reluctant to read a story involving a Nazi prisoner. When I finally did read it. I was actually charmed by some of it, and parts were really quite funny. It is tragic, and simply intensely sad in parts, but it also ends with a sort of calm joy.

The Janissary Tree, by Jason Goodwin, is a charming and yet occasionally gruesome murder mystery set in early 19th century Istanbul, with a eunuch court official as investigator. There is the potential for all sorts of cultural shenanigans (orientalism, obviously, and misrepresentations of Turkish Islamic culture) here, and I don't know enough about any of it to say what kind of course Goidwin has steered. I did enjoy the book and appreciated its representation of a spectrum of human sexuality (although there was definitely a "kill your gays" moment). I did find it rather odd that Goodwin in general represents dialog in other languages by choice of phrase and occasionally non-English vocabulary, but for some reason, uneducated Greeks are given the sort of eye dialect familiar to me from British naturalist Gerald Durrell's Corfu memoirs.

Also, I should note that as [livejournal.com profile] flemmings pointed out to me, this is a great book for foodies. Our hero, Master Yashim, loves good food and cooks as a diversion as well as for nourishment.

Finally, I read the last volume of the manga Fushigi Yûgi: Genbu Kaiden by Yuu Watase, which ended about as could be expected. I was relieved that the young king didn't have a tragic ending. Also, I read volume 4 of CLAMP's Gate 7, which continues to be both pretty and pretty ridiculous, albeit entertainingly so. I understand it is now in hiatus, which rots. WTF, CLAMP publishers? People actually like your sparkly silliness. Don't you want to cash in on that?

What are you currently reading?

I am several chapters into the second Master Yashim mystery, The Snake Stone. I'm also doing a re-read for a story I'm writing.

What do you think you'll read next?

I still need to make myself start the manga Vinland Saga. Also, Fumi Yoshinaga's What Did You Eat Yesterday? has just started coming out in English. I'd read Yoshinaga's adaptation of the DC telephone book (supposing such a thing existed), so I'm definitely going to get this one. I also have a couple of YA novels lying around that I got for the holidays and never read. And who knows, maybe the put-one take-one shelf at work will produce the third Master Yashim mystery (that's where I got the other two).

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

Guys, I have not done this since November. I will try to get back on track!

What have you just finished reading?

Marie Brennan's ([livejournal.com profile] swan_tower's) historical fantasy A Star Shall Fall. I liked it fairly well. I'm not sure what would have made it better for me. I need to think about that. I got this copy from last year's Con or Bust auction, so it's taken me a while to decide to read it.

The latest volume, 9, of the manga Ooku: The Inner Chambers by Fumi Yoshinaga. I really liked it and found it much less grim than this series usually is, so I expect the other shoe to drop and the series to go back to normal - or worse - by next volume. There's a great new character, Hiraga Gennai. I will not spoil you about Gennai and what makes Gennai great. XD

The first two volumes of the manga Thermae Romae, which is awesomely silly and beautifully drawn. (The book production values are spectacular too.) It's about a Roman engineer who keeps being transported off at random intervals to present-day Japan, where he encounters various modern-day Japanese public and private baths and invariably returns with new inspirations to try out in Rome. Some of the inspirations are relatively believable, and some are wonderfully absurd in a Flintstones-cartoon sort of way. (Wait'll you see his shampoo shield and shampoo hose.) His interpretations of what he's seeing in Japan are really funny.

What are you currently reading?

I just started Marjorie Liu's The Fire King, which is one of her Dirk & Steele paranormal romances.

What do you think you'll read next?

I grabbed Jason Godwin's The Janissary Tree from the take-on leave-one collection at work. This is a historical mystery set in the early 19th-century Ottoman Empire. I seem to recall reading a favorable review of it at one point, and it won the Edgar Award in 2007. Also, I have the first two volumes of the manga Vinland Saga, but it looks awfully grim. It may be a while until I can get myself to read it.

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

Yeah, it's late: it's been a complicated week. But I didn't want to wait all the way until next week.

What have you just finished reading?

Just finished Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead, which was excellent. No less than three significant female characters, none of whom is just anyone's love interest, one of them a person of color (who is an awesome supernatural investigator and magician); magical courtroom drama; high-speed chases through a steampunkish city at night; a vampire ship's captain; gods dying and resurrected; an evil adversary who is a loathesome, charismatic, and brilliant slimeball; a nerdy chain-smoking young priest whose alter-ego is a club-hopping city boy; and much more. I'm looking forward to the next volume, which is actually to some degree a prequel.

What are you currently reading?

[personal profile] ann_leckie's Ancillary Justice, which is awesome. At the moment (about 25% of the way into it), it's equal parts mystery and anthropological SF. Leckie's style is very smooth and assured.

Also still making my way through Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm on my phone.

Finally, I'm also doing a re-read of canon so that I can beta a couple of stories.

What do you think you'll read next?

Beats me! It occurs to me that I have some volumes of Doctorow and Marie Brennan about, which I bought some time ago for a charity auction. I should probably check them out, especially the Brennan (the Doctorow was bought more with my husband in mind).

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Some more odd serial art stuff from the Small Press Expo, most of which didn't make much of an impression. The one exception was Bread & Wine: An Erotic Tale of New York, by Samuel R. Delaney and Mia Wolff. As most of you probably know, Samuel Delaney was one of the first successful African American science fiction writers. This is an actual, biographical story of how he met his life partner, Dennis, who was a homeless man living on the streets of New York. It's very explicit and frank; in parts it's very sad and in others, it's very tender and joyful.

Also, the latest National Geographic, which had a rather disturbing story of a storm chaser who was recently killed by one of the tornados he was pursuing, along with a colleague and his own adult son, an accomplished photographer.

I am all caught up with the webcomic Yellow Peril. I have made an LJ feed for it, yellowperilcomi. LJ needs longer names for the feeds. :-(

Finally, I read vol. 4 of House of Five Leaves. I think I'm starting to get used to the mangaka's drawing style. However, I can't agree with the comments I've seen online about how wonderful it is.

What are you currently reading?

Still reading Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead, which is getting really, really good. Things have taken a massive turn for the worse in the story; I'm mentally biting my fingernails.

For some reason, I have also started a re-read of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, which I had downloaded onto my phone sometime ago. It's a pleasant enough diversion, except when the author goes off onto a spate of Rebecca-worship.

What do you think you'll read next?

Still haven't started [personal profile] ann_leckie's Ancillary Justice. Also, I've got my Yuletide canon re-read stacked up and ready to go, plus I need to do a canon review for some beta reading.

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Not nearly such a busy reading week as last week!

I think the only things I actually finished reading were the latest volume of Blade of the Immortal (vol. 27), and the first couple of volumes of an indie comic, Tales of the Night Watchman, that the Mr. picked up at Small Press Expo. I was rather underwhelmed by it: just not my thing.

Volume 27: Mist on the Spider's Web was awesome. I should do an entire post on these most recent volumes of Blade of the Immortal sometime. Some people have noted that Rin is not much of a fighter and that Hyakurin and Makie are much more typical female characters, with Hyakurin as the femme fatale spy-type and Makie as the amazingly skilled woman with Major Issues. But then we had Ainu swordswoman Doa, and shinobi Meguro and Tampopo (I thought they were just comic relief at first — Samura's version of C3PO and R2D2 — boy, was I wrong!), and then this current volume had a marvelous arc for Ryo, the kenshi who's the illegitimate daughter of an important man. Even though it turned out badly in the end, she was fantastic.

What are you currently reading?

I have started Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead, and I am enjoying it, but it's not grabbing me hard the way that the Dirk & Steele books were. I'm also trying to catch up to the current storyline on the webcomic Yellow Peril. With the Mini, I can read webcomics in bed! (Yes, cho, welcome to the 21st century.)

What do you think you'll read next?

I have volume 4 of the manga House of Five Leaves. I should probably blog the series properly after I finish that, since I can usually tell whether I'll continue with a series somewhere around vol. 3 to 5. Also, I bought [personal profile] ann_leckie's Ancillary Justice, which has been getting great reviews.

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Marjorie Liu's Dirk & Steele books are beginning to become like potato chips for me: bet you can't read just one!

On [personal profile] oyceter's rec, I tried Shadow Touch next. Suddenly, for me, Liu has gone from the rather tentative romance author about whom I was "Eh … OK" in Tiger Eye to being very recognizably the author of the Hunter Kiss urban fantasy series (which I have enjoyed very much thus far). I really enjoyed this book, although it was so much harder-edged (particularly in the early scenes in the mysterious research facility) that I got a bit of mental whiplash.

Oyce's other rec was Eye of Heaven. About halfway through it, I suddenly remembered a series of RPG characters I played in my early 20s who were very much like the heroine of this story. Oh yeah! Anyway, the male lead in this book was one of the secondary characters whom I had especially liked in Tiger Eye. There is a lot of complicated Plot Stuff that's building up across the entire series and that is reminiscent of some of the plot elements of the Hunter Kiss series, making me wonder whether subsequent books in Dirk & Steele are going to have transdimensional world hopping and demons too. I'm amused by some of the reviews I'm reading of these: apparently people who like the more typical sorts of romances find these not romantic enough and too violent. Oh well … de gustibus non disputandum est.

I was at Small Press expo for the last 90 minutes of the event the other week, and one of the things I picked up on a blitz through the dealers' room was Back to the Grind, the first collection of Jamie Noguchi's webcomic Yellow Peril. I was attracted initially by the picture of lead character Kane on a recognizable Metro train on the cover and ended up talking to Noguchi, who drew me a cartoon on the inside of the book to go with his autograph. I enjoyed this and will have to catch up on Kane's more recent adventures online.

AND … I finally finished E. Nesbit's The Wouldbegoods! Arrrgggh. Nesbit generally seemed to respect her juvenile characters, but not in this volume. The kids are constantly getting into scrapes that are, to me as an adult, completely transparent. You can see the foolish errors coming from the first couple of paragraphs of any given adventure, and the eventual denouments are equally predictable. Also, I get tired of narrator Oswald's constantly put-downs of the girls in the little gang, and even though tomboyish Alice is usually described more kindly than the others, she still comes in for a lot of criticism and patronization. It's quite different from the children in the Five Children and It and its sequels, where eldest sister Anthea was a valued member of the group and little Jane's pouting and lack of fortitude were attributed to her age more than to her sex.

What are you currently reading?

Fanfiction, mostly. As noted elsewhere, I've been loading a lot of old favorites onto my iPad Mini.

I'm also about halfway through volume 3 of the manga House of Five Leaves. I'm enjoying it to some extent, but the art style is driving me nuts. I'm having a lot of trouble telling about half of the male characters apart, and that means I lose a lot of the impact of the various little criminal episodes and character revelations.

What do you think you'll read next?

I have downloaded Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead, which I had on my Amazon wish list (I don't remember whose review got me interested) and which was on sale for $2.99, as well as (free) The Count of Monte Cristo, which (shockingly, I suppose) I have never read, and which [livejournal.com profile] lady_ganesh recommended. Also, [livejournal.com profile] smilaraaq just passed me a steampunk romance to try ... it's by Meljean Brook, whom [livejournal.com profile] lawless523 was just recommending the other week.

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Tiger Eye by Marjorie Liu (the first of her Dirk & Steele series), which I enjoyed fairly well. The protagonist is more than a little Mary Sue-ish, the male-female interactions a little more breathless and self-conscious than I would like, and stupid things happen for Deep Plot Reasons (the traitor, for example, was set up by Liu in a way I particularly dislike). On the plus side, the heroine is moderately tough, and we get family-of-choice where the family members are all basically Adventurers. I didn't like that this was in many ways set up as a Reverse Harem (I could have used a tough Mama Wolf character in the group as well, for example), but Our Girl Dela does have a couple of female friends, and I think they actually do talk about Dela's artwork and the friend's concert gigs. The plot twists that have to do with the gorgeous, enslaved male lead actually twisted in ways I did not expect.

Magazines. We got the latest Washingtonian, which is their every-few-years "Top Hospitals" issue, with lots of health-related articles. We also got the new Smithsonian and the National Geographic, which was a photography retrospective. That's less interesting to me than the usual range of science/culture articles The photos are gorgeous, but I can't immerse myself in them as I can with the prose. Finally, there was a new Consumer Reports, but that's not exactly an immersive reading experience.

It would be nicer if the magazines didn't all tend to cluster together with regard to delivery dates!

What are you currently reading?

Old Man's War by John Scalzi. I'm enjoying it so far: it's been lots of character interaction, some technology porn, and some People Bonding in Tough Situations. But I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. The characters are being prepped for a bad military situation ("75% of you will be dead in 10 years"), and I'm pretty sure that something appalling is going to happen. I'm also morosely expecting that the lead's gay male sidekick is going to be one of the casualties, but maybe Scalzi will surprise me.

Also, a blog series on Deconstructing Narnia. This is still ongoing (she's gotten about halfway through The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), and I'm reading it rather chaotically: all the existing Dawn Treader posts first, and now I'm most of the way through the posts about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

The Wouldbegoods by E. Nesbit. *sigh*

What do you think you'll read next?

I've downloaded another Liu "Dirk and Steele" novel: Shadow Touch (one of [personal profile] oyceter's recs). Also, [livejournal.com profile] ann_leckie's SF novel Ancillary Justice is out, and I should get hold of it. The question is, dead tree or epub? I may get the actual book: it's her first, and maybe I will want to get it autographed sometime.

Anyone care to recommend classics that might be available free or cheap? My background in reading these things is surprisingly spotty. (I didn't read the Jane Austen classics until just a few years ago, for example, and ditto the Peter Whimsey/Harriet Vane mysteries.) I am kind of impatient with a lot of literary stuff, though. Misunderstandings that drag on and on and on because everyone is too polite to address the issues, for example, drive me batty.

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Busy week!

C.J. Cherryh's Russalka, which had a more interesting and touching ending than I remember. As is common with Cherryh, I could see ideas and issues that she has tried again or previously in other works, which doesn't bother me: they're interesting ideas.

Also, vol. 8 of Ooku by Fumi Yoshinga. This is still a cool series, and beautifully drawn, but I want more slice-of-life Yoshinaga (like Antique Bakery and Flower of Life) or yaoi Yoshinaga (like Ichigenme … The First Class Is Civil Law). I wonder whether she'll ever go back to her roots that way?

Then I read the first volume of the manga version of Durarara!. My reaction is basically "What the hell was that?" The story thus far has seesawed back and forth between cheery high school comedy and urban dark fantasy. I imagine it will take a couple more volumes before I can even tell whether I like it or not.

Volume 2 of House of Five Leaves was interesting, although the mangaka's distinctive drawing style is beginning to wear on me a little. Although it couldn't be more different in style from Fruits Basket, I'm having the same sort of difficulties telling characters apart.

Finally, I just finished Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire, the sixth October Daye book. I really liked it. I think it's partially because it is now definitely an ensemble cast. Given that it's written from Toby's POV, she has to be the center, but she has collected an extended family-of-choice that I very much like. So now there's only one more book available: Chimes at Midnight, which just came out a few weeks ago. And then I'll have to wait for one volume a year, according to her website: three more volumes, coming out 2014 - 2016.

What are you currently reading?

And still limping through The Wouldbegoods by E. Nesbit. I only read bits of it when I have nothing else to read, but I am determined to finish it.

I downloaded the first Marjorie Liu "Dirk & Steele" book, Tiger Eye. It's my first straight paranormal romance (as opposed to Liu's harder-edged urban fantasies about demon hunter Maxine Kiss), and for about the whole first chapter I wanted to thrown it against a wall for what I assume were romanticism elements. As an example, when Our Heroine is retreating through a crowd, and the whole scene has been from her POV, she's suddenly described as getting through the crowd "gracefully." Because, you know, when someone is worried about retreating from potential danger, she of course spends time thinking about how gracefully she does it. (Mary Sue, phone home.) But I'm getting much more interested in it as we get into the heart of the book, including everything from the comedy of trying to make a very tall exotic-looking man inconspicuous in Beijing (and trying to find normal 20th century cosmopolitan clothes to fit him, since he showed up looking like an extra from a Conan story) and the family-of-choice aspects of the firm. And the constantly broken-off almost-sex scenes aren't any more over-the-top than a lot of fanfiction. It's like Liu was really unsure of what she was doing for the first couple of chapters and then got into it more whole-heartedly.

What do you think you'll read next?

Uhhh … another problem for another day. I do have two novels in hand that I got off the bring one-take one shelf at work, but I'm not itching to start either one: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which was recommended by a colleague. Anyone have opinions on either of them?

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

It's been three weeks since I did this. I'm not going to list everything I've read since then!

What have you just finished reading?

Nail Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I enjoyed it; it was a comfortable fit for me. Even the scary parts were comfortable somehow: Gaiman has a real feel for what actually scares kids. The reviewers have been mostly talking this up like it's the second coming of goodness-knows-what. I think it's an effective piece of writing and in some places, very beautiful, but it isn't wrapping around my brain like, say, American Gods. On the other hand, I liked it better than Coraline or The Graveyard Book. It also reminded me in some ways of Jo Walton's Among Others, in that it's a tribute to the place that books create for introverted children.

I also read volume 1 of The House of Five Leaves, a manga that had been recommended by [personal profile] smillaraaq and that had caught my eye on the Viz site a while back. I liked it and wanted more.

I'm re-reading the first several volumes of the manga Bunny Drop (note: spoilers in the post at the link), probably because last week I read the final volume. All my series seem to have run out. *is sad* Anyway, I've finished re-reading volumes 1 through 3.

I also just finished Jim Hines' Codex Born, which was a total page-turner for me. I also really liked the way Lena's character developed. I think this is the book where I can officially say that I am a Hines fan. I was very underwhelmed by The Stepsister Scheme, and although Libriomancer was fun, it didn't grab me the way this most recent book did.

What are you currently reading?

Limping through The Wouldbegoods by E. Nesbit, which I don't dislike enough to quit entirely. Also re-reading volume 4 of Bunny Drop and C.J. Cherryh's Russalka, which I first read years ago, and which I have downloaded to my new tablet from the author's Closed Circle site.

What do you think you'll read next?

Hmmm, I really don't know! Someone on the f-list was reviewing some private investigator mysteries with gay protagonists (this author and this one); maybe I'll try one of those.

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Saladin Ahmed's Throne of the Crescent Moon and E. Nesbit's The Treasure Seekers. (I kept forgetting I had the latter on my phone, when I was faced with a stack of dead-tree books.) Last week, I also finished Emilie and the Hollow World by Martha Wells.

I liked the Ahmed, but I kept getting tripped up by some writing practices I dislike. One was the constant switch in viewpoints within a scene, which I associate to some degree with amateur writing. He got better about this as he went on, to where at the end, he was switching scene by scene and signaling more clearly what was going on with the viewpoint. There were also a couple of times that things happened presumbly for Deep Plot Reasons, because in context they made no sense and had me going "Where the hell did that come from?"

The Wells was good. Emilie is sort of a Tremaine Valiarde junior: she's not super-emotional and she is very competent, although not absurdly so (especially given her age). It's a sort of wish fulfillment fantasy of the type that classically stars an intrepid young boy (child gets to go on huge adventure, child is treated with respect by adult fellow travelers and gets to strut her/ his stuff), and it features airships and mysterious underground civilizations.

The Nesbit was ... OK. It has the didactic and sentimental moments of the magical Nesbits but without the delicious magical absurdities. I enjoyed the slightly out-of-kilter voice of its unreliable narrator, but YMMV.

What are you currently reading?

I'm doing a re-read for a writing assignment, which will go undisclosed for now..

What do you think you'll read next?

I have Neil Gaiman's Ocean at the End of the Lane, which I forgot to include in my Amazon order for our trip but picked up in Chatham, MA, where we went for a day of shopping and lunch out when the weather was very rainy.

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Seanan McGuire's Late Eclipses and One Salt Sea (vols. 4 and 5 of the October Daye series), vols. 1 and 2 of the manga A Bride's Story, and vols. 1 and 2 of the manga adaptation of the anime Tiger & Bunny.

I liked One Salt Sea better than Late Eclipses, because in the latter, Toby is back to doing impulsive stupid things that have me going "Um, no, Toby, don't do that," with the result that I knew roughly what was happening about halfway through the book. In One Salt Sea, I knew to some degree whodunnit, but not how, and it was interesting to see it play out. There were also a couple of very funny scenes.

(On the other hand, I continue to twitch from time to time and wonder what happened to the Native American spirits in this completely Euro-fae-occupied America.)

A Bride's Story is just beautiful, and I liked Amir's feistiness and mad hunting skillz. On the other hand, there's almost no exploration of how it feels to be a 20-yr-old woman married to a 12-yr-old boy.

Tiger & Bunny was cute, but after two volumes, the underlying emotional arcs are only just getting started.

What are you currently reading?

Emilie and the Hollow World by Martha Wells, and The Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit. I am enjoying them very much.

What do you think you'll read next?

I have Throne of the Crescent Moon queued up, and also some re-reading for another writing exchange.

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Noel Streatfeild's Dancing Shoes and a Montreal travel guide.

What are you currently reading?

Peter Dickinson's The Blue Hawk, which I have almost finished (another re-read). I had forgotten how much I enjoyed that one! Really lovely use of language, and some interesting meditations on the nature of gods and those who worship them. Some of it echoes the points made in both Pratchett's Small Gods (1992) and Hodgell's God Stalk (1986) ... Dickinson's book was published in 1991, so make of that what you will. I'm also making my way through some manga re-reading for a writing project.

What do you think you'll read next?

I just downloaded the first two of E. Nesbit's "Bastables" series, which I have never read. I am very fond of her series featuring the Psammead, so we shall see. I'm also about to do a big book order for vacation reading, and I'll probably add on the next volumes of Natsume's Book of Friends and Black Butler, both of which came out recently.

(To my intense disgust, Ben Aaronovitch's next book is due out in the U.K. tomorrow ... but not due in the U.S. until 2014!)

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery and Thursday's Children by Rumer Godden.

Rilla of Ingleside has, in some ways, more depths than the rest of the series, because Canada goes through WWI during the time of the novel. Young men go off to war, and several of the young women go off to volunteer support work as well. Rilla, who is a rather silly, spoiled little girl at the start of the novel, ends up keeping the home fires burning and also taking care of an almost-orphan baby: his father is off in the war and his mother has died. Rilla ends up (with her family's support) bringing him up "by the book." It's interesting to see an early take on this: she's worried about germs and so on, yet at one point (strikingly similar to the scene in the first book where Anne saves Diana's little sister's life), the child's life is saved by a rather bizarre old-style medical treatment. The book's final scene happens rather abruptly – almost an afterthought – but the last line is a killer! XD

The Godden book was a comfort reread, and I skipped some scenes in the first part, because they make me too sad (and that's saying something: there are a lot of sad scenes in the book). Doone and Crystal Penny are the youngest children of a grocer and his wife, a former chorine. Ma is devoted to the idea of making Crystal into the ballerina she herself always yearned to be, but she has no concept of the serious, hard-working side of ballet training and spoils Crystal abominably. Doone, an unwanted afterthought baby, is enchanted with dance and music and shows real talent at both, but between Ma's focus on Crystal and Pa's conviction that ballet is only for girls and queers, he has a really tough row to hoe. It all comes right in the end, not only for Doone, but also for Crystal: as horrid and spoiled as she is, she's also been mistreated by her family, and she needs to go through emotional fire to earn her happy ending. This book always strikes me as "Rumer Godden writes Noel Streatfeild," and it has the strengths of both authors.

What are you currently reading?

More non-fiction and also some fiction for story research, plus Wild Adapter vol. 4 (re-read). Volumes 4 (where Kubota gets taken into police custody after being observed at a crime scene) and 5 (the flashback to where Kubota finds Tokito, narrated by their young neighbor Shouta) are my favorites in this series. Not coincidentally, they also have the most scenes with my favorite supporting characters: Detective Kasai (who is Kubota's uncle), Dr. Kou, Anna, Takizawa the reporter (now a freelance journalist), and Shouta himself.

What do you think you'll read next?

I have downloaded Little Fuzzy to my phone. I am also going to be reading a tour book or two for our upcoming vacation.

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan (literally, only an hour or so ago), and Anne of Ingleside and Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery.

The Morgan book was very much a mixed bag. It had some terribly exciting scenes that made me grin or exclaim aloud, some hot male/male sex, character angst and betrayal, and a female character who gets to have All the Blades, with Names,* but also some scenes I really wish I could unsee.

What are you currently reading?

Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery, some non-fiction for story research, and The Life of Slang by Julie Coleman. The latter is a book I bought for my husband for Fathers Day, but he kindly left it on the Big Pile o' Reading Matter in the bathroom.

What do you think you'll read next?

My friend's MS is still eating my brain. Some more story research is also on the slate. I'm wondering whether I want to download and read The Blythes Are Quoted, which is apparently a number of short stories about characters from the Anne of Green Gables series and their descendants. I don't usually like short stories as much as novels, but so much of the Anne series is episodic that maybe it won't bother me.

*Did anyone else ever read Frostflower and Thorn by Phyllis Ann Karr? Thorn had named her blades, but Archeth in the Morgan book has much better names for hers, and more of them, too.

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones (re-read), Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery.

Enchanted Glass is, as I remembered it, OK, but rather flat, especially in comparison with classics such as The Homeward Bounders. Fire and Hemlock, and even The Lives of Christopher Chant (the Chrestomanci books are not super-favorites of mine, in general).

What are you currently reading?

Richard K. Morgan's The Steel Remains and Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery. Also, I'm doing some nonfiction reading for story research, which will remain unspecified for now.

What do you think you'll read next?

That MS is sucking up a lot of time and brainpower. I'll probably continue on my Montgomery kick: Feedbooks seems to have all of the Anne series for download. And I'm still working on the Morgan book. I was amused at my reactions to the smartass protagonists' reactions to their opponents in the combat scenes that just occurred: I was grinning and almost snickering. Too much Fritz Leiber at an early age, I suppose.

 

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

What have you just finished reading?

Loveless (manga) volume 11, Seanan McGuire's An Artificial Night (October Daye #3), and Anne of the Island and Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery.

Loveless managed to ratchet up both the angst and the humor (spoiler for the latter: Yohji manages to unhook his first bra - Shinonome's, of course! She thwacks him on the head with a book.). I wonder if we'll ever find out how Seimei became such an awful person?

In An Artificial Night, Toby is getting a little more sensible, but just a little. I was really enthralled with the first two thirds of this one. Then McGuire started to adhere to a classical trope of legend – one with which I am very familiar – and did it basically paint-by-numbers, which sort of wrecked the whole mood for me.

In the Anne books, it becomes more and more clear that Montgomery has hundreds of little vignettes that she wants to share. Anne of Windy Poplars, which is framed as a series of letters from Anne to her fiance, actually got a bit tedious. The narrator's voice is a little more wry and tart than Anne's, and it makes a better foil to the endless series of incidents in which Anne manages to tame human ogres, dragons, and snakes. I was gratified that Anne had a couple of protégées this time around, as well as a young man whom she's trying to encourage to continue his education.

What are you currently reading?

Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones (re-read; almost finished), Richard K. Morgan's The Steel Remains, and Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery. The contrast in moods and subject matter between the latter two is giving me whiplash of the brain.

What do you think you'll read next?

I should try to re-read Redshirts by John Scalzi, and write it up. Ditto with Among Others by Jo Walton. The Morgan book will require antidotes in the form of more Anne and maybe some favorite children's books. I'm also beta-reading a book manuscript for an old friend, but I'm not sure that counts.

 

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