Reading roundup

Sep. 13th, 2017 01:38 pm
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[personal profile] hamsterwoman
I'm way behind on RL posting (my past week and weekend have actually bee quite busy, in a mostly-good way), but I've hit another point where I just want to talk about books. So!

37. Mackenzi Lee, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue -- This was a birthday present from [livejournal.com profile] aome, but actually even before I got the book as a gift I heard about it from [livejournal.com profile] ikel89 during the exceedingly scenic drive back from Kazbegi, and was intrigued to check it out for myself, so Debbie's gift was very timely :) Having read it, it wasn't quite as cool a book as the premise (and fabulous title) made it sound, sadly, but definitely still an entertaining and fast read.

Here's the very fun premise -- a Grand Tour by a young bisexual British nobleman, his best friend/(male) love interest, who is mixed race (and also *spoiler*), and his younger sister who isn't interested in finishing school but wants to go to med school instead. Along the way from Paris to Spain to Italy, there's political intrigue, highwaymen and pirates, and alchemical mysteries. That sounds pretty cool, right? And it is fairly fun, although a couple of things undermine the strengths of the book: Spoilers from here )

I think, overall, this book falls into the category of things like Love Interest, where I wish a better author had taken a crack at the premise. But, fortunately, unlike Love Interest, the book as-is is at least competently if overly earnestly written, so I *could* enjoy it, rather than sputtering in ever-increasing bafflement as to what the hell the author thought they were doing. But for all its flaws, it was a fun read, and I do want to know more about Felicity, in the sequel! (Thank you again, [livejournal.com profile] aome! :)

38. Avoliot, The Course of Honor -- novel-length original sci-fi m/m with a whole bunch of tropes, starting with arranged marriage (posted on AO3) -- I picked this up courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] egelantier's rec. I actually don't like arranged marriage much as a trope, and not all of the other tropes invoked are necessarily favorites of mine, but the whole thing worked very nicely (to the point that I read it straight through in a couple of hours over the long weekend). I liked both protagonists a lot, introverted Jainan, trudging slowly back from years of abuse and clinging to his dignity and uber-extrovert Kiem, who is used to thinking of himself as a bumbling idiot but suddenly finds himself having to deal with darker things than elementary school charity events and shmoozing with journalists. The secondary characters are also quite nice, and even the cameos, like Kiem's general mother, are fun and intriguing. There's also some very nice and deftly interwoven worldbuilding about all manner of things, from sports to dress and gender expression, and trans and non-binary characters whose introduction is handled in an impressively non-issuefic-y way that I feel like some profic authors could learn from. More, with spoilers )

Bonus: authorially-approved fancast on Tumblr.

39. Black Mould (Rivers of London graphic novel #3) -- interesting story (and oddly, sadly timely, on the subject of London slums), but mostly I just have random observations, with spoilers )

40. Naomi Novik, Golden Age and Other Stories -- this is the art book where each piece of (loosely) Temeraire fanart (many of them pieces I've known/enjoyed for years) is accompanied by a new story or drabble. I read this in ebook, so didn't really get to enjoy the art (more than I've already enjoyed it on DeviantArt or Tumblr, I mean), but the stories of course were new. It was mostly entertaining fluff, although one book and less than a week after I'd finished it, I had pretty much forgotten its existence and skipped it in my numbering, oops. XD The stories don't really add that much to the universe, I feel, but there were a couple that do linger -- the story set in the Americas, with John Wampanoag as the POV character, which I would've liked to see more of; the present-day Temeraire drabble that was jsut the perfect length; and my favorite thing in the book, Pride and Prejudice where Elizabeth is a Longwing captain :D Individual stories, with spoilers )

41. Sarah Rees Brennan, In Other Lands -- this was another book I inhaled, pretty much over a busy weekend, and partly it was trying to keep up with [livejournal.com profile] ikel89 (reading in tandem is so much more fun when I'm actually enjoying the book. Imagine that! XD) but mostly it's because it's a really fun book. I've been disappointed and/or frustrated by SRB's latest offerings (the Lynburn trilogy steadily pleased me less and less with each book, with the conclusion being my biggest disappointment of the year, and one of those rare times where I felt downright betrayed by a book; good thing it wasn't a series I really cared about; Tell the Wind and Fire was not as disappointing, but it was frustrating anyway, in the way it was in dialogue with other books, but mostly I thought the other books more effective, even when one of them was Dickens :P So, it was lovely to have an SRB book I was actively and almost wholeheartedly enjoying (I do have some quibbles, but on the whole I liked it a lot, and immediately recommended to both L -- who is lapping it up with even greater glee than I -- and Awesome Friend Ali). I wish I could hail it as a return to form, but it just makes me worried that, because this book was written, what, in 2013-2015 (and published as a serial on SRB's blog), so, like, concurrently with the Lynburns? So it's not like SRB is back to writing books that I like and I can look forward to more -- it's that she used to. And even here, I liked the beginning (and the core of the story that was clearly set up by the beginning) more than the ending, so my enjoyment of the book is tinged with nostalgia, even though the book is brand spankin' new. More, with spoilers )

There is a Luke-POV short story set in the same universe, which I've also read by now (part of the 2014 anthology I mention below) and also an Adara POV short story on SRB's LJ.

*

Currently reading (for some pretty loose values of 'currently', admittedly, and also 'reading' :P) cut, as it got a bit long )

From this pre-publication review of Vallista we learn that Vallista is a gothic. OF COURSE! (although I don't like gothics, so... IDK.) I'm intrigued by the promise that "many of the mysteries plaguing Vlad are solved here". Like, what mysteries? That don't appear to be overtly solved in Hawk, since Vallista takes place before it...

And from Brust's Patreon, which I check out periodically, the new-=to-me revelation that Tsalmoth (tentatively the after-Vallista book) is set between Yendi and Jhereg (!!!) -- i.e. actual Vlad and Cawti marriage (/relationship), not during the honeymoon period, not when it's falling apart while Vlad is oblivious to it. That should be interesting!

And speaking of books that may or may not come out at some point: Scott Lynch interview from Worldcon has the following tidbits about Thorn of Emberlain )

November 2012

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