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RedEyedGhost

October Reading 2016 - Something Spooky?

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Still mourning the fact that I finished the Ancillary novels, because they were THE BEST. I cannot put in words how much I loved them and my heart will forever be a fish.

Eying up my copy of Kay's Tigana but it's such a brick and I don't know if I have the energy. Also, did I mention I am still depressed about the Ancillary books. I wish there were a hundred of them, at least.

I got the first part of Leigh Bardugo's Grisha series as well, so maybe that would be the perfect antidote to the Ancillary Sorrow. I just need a few more days to get over my urgent lack of Justice of Toren.

 

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Finished Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams, which, to my  surprise and disappointment, shared a lot of issues I had with Gannon's Fire with Fire, and have detailed in my previous post. It is better written and has a decent mystery, so I finished the book, but felt meh about it, and after scanning the sequels in the library, have decided not to continue with the trilogy. I don't care about any of these characters, who are all flat clichés anyway, on-going plot(s) are sub-par and the worldbuilding, while potentially interesting, doesn't make up for it.  I have loved or liked all of Williams' work until now, too. Hopefully, this is not an indication for the quality of the upcoming Osten Ard books.

Also finished This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp, which I grabbed on a whim because it is (until 27th) on Overdrive's "Big Library Read" and is, apparently, a lauded bestseller. It is a YA novel about a (fictious) school shooting. It is certainly very engrossing and affecting, though how much is simply due to the subject matter is unclear to me. There are a few things that seem jarring and implausible:

a certain family's background rang false, IMHO, and unnecessarily so. The same end could have been achieved much more believably and organically.

are handguns really so effective?

certain character's actions in the end made no sense and seemed to be there just for the sake of upping the pathos, etc. YMMV.

But on the whole it was a good read.

Now reading The Narnian by Alan Jacobs - an interesting take on biography of C.S. Lewis. Delightful so far, if one isn't put off by the author's obviously pro-Christian stance, which I am OK with. Not that I find his, or Lewis's arguments on the subject presuasive...

 

 

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Finally got around to finishing Harbour, by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Honestly, this is what happens when an author falls in love with a setting and atmosphere, but doesn't provide enough meaty story to justify the book's length - those 500 pages could, I think, have been condensed into 200 without doing violence to the story. As it was, it felt like Stephen King had decided to try his hand at a Magical Realist novel set in Sweden, with the various pluses and minuses, and finishing it became a chore.

To re-cap my reads for this month:

  • The Werewolf of Paris, by Guy Endore
  • The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James
  • Carmilla, by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
  • The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty
  • Harbour, by John Ajvide Lindqvist 

Next up is The Influence, by Ramsey Campbell.

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On 17/10/2016 at 4:53 PM, Winterfella said:

I would recommend it as a good spooky read even if you don't read the others.  I read it a couple years ago and enjoyed it, but haven't continued with the rest of the trilogy yet even though I want to get back to it someday.

So I read Annihilation today. Enjoyed it, although I'd expected a bit more.

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Finished The Thousandfold Thought.  Very good.  Only complaint is maybe a bit too similar to the second book in that both were overall quite wide-angled in focus.  Fair to assume book one of the next series is more individually focused like the first volume of PON rather than another epic march?

Anyways, I'll probably read The Hammer and the Blade by Paul S. Kemp next.  Haven't read him before but I've heard good things. 

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Haven't posted all month. Lots of new 2016 releases. I feel like I posted about Ada Palmer's Too Like the Lightning near the very start of the month, but in case I didn't it was wonderful: fully-developed, intellectually-demanding, thought-provoking world, full of interesting conversations and disturbing / interesting social dynamics and initially-inscrutible-but-eventually-compelling characters. It's one of those full immersion futures that takes a while to get used to. Very much a first half; I can't wait for part 2. It'll probably bug the fuck out of people who don't enjoy formal writing and a certain amount of consciously styled prose.

 

A. Lee Martinez's The Last Adventure of Constance Varity was fine I guess. Funny fantasy, deliberately light, constantly making fun of the various villains' evil plans, but occasionally falling across the line between "that this villain is like the others is the joke here" and "this is kinda old now." Solid central friendship makes the book work. Breezy, undemanding, passed time just fine.

 

Frances Hardinge's The Lie Tree, a Victorian mystery with fantastical elements for older children, was goddamn fantastic. Frequently creepy, filled with pent up Victorian class and gender tensions, boiling with laser-focused feminist rage, and often written beautifully, with a quiet-but-sharp central character who was super fun to be around. Hits what it's aiming at time after time. Secrets, nighttime skulking, manipulations, more secrets. A+ would go with on clandestine midnight exploration again; will read more by Hardinge.

 

Elizabeth Bonesteel's The Cold Between was an absorbing debut space opera. Set within a military structure and immersed in politics, it manages to service that enjoyable negotiating-chain-of-command-and-being-soldierly side of military sf without busting out the guns very often at all, and focusing almost entirely on interpersonal relationships and conspiracy -- the book has fun tweeking military sf fans who are in it for nothing but loving battle descriptions right away, as it throws one of its only lengthy, detailed sex scenes at us within the first twenty pages, to put us on notice that most of what it cares about is the interpersonal dynamics and the cool sciencey exploration shit these people can get done when they care about each other. Most of what kept me going was the people, but Bonesteel writes a pretty solid conspiracy and corrupt system, and there are a couple worldbuilding revelations later on that bode well for the sequel. Not on the Leckie or Chambers level of recent space opera debuts in terms of grace and inspiration, but it does itself credit; I dug it a lot and am looking forward to the next one.

 

And, finally, and this is going to bring the righteous fury of those with refined taste in trashy epic fantasy, I recently finished Nevernight, the first book in the new series by Jay "I-am-the-monster-responsible-for-Stormdancer" Kristoff. Girl who can control shadows goes to hardcore assassin school and learns assassin shit to avenge herself on powerful dicks. Blood, death, sex, death and sex together, somethingsomething politics, intermittently metal fantasy worldbuilding, shocking betrayals, more blood. And, you know what? It is not half bad. It is not half bad at all. The world mixes familiar fantasy staples with occasional flourishes that feel bracingly demented [there are gigantic sand-krakens], and the semi-mysterious narrator is surprisingly smartass -- Kristoff is a funny dude, and he lets that fly here in a way he didn't in Stormdancer; it sometimes feels like the jokes are trying too hard, but I chuckled a lot more than I expected to in an epic fantasy about assassins. The secondary characters are mostly dicks, but the main cast shows some characterization game -- the protagonist is great, and her friends are solid too. I called one big twist very early, but the other one legit got me; it's possible I just wasn't paying attention, but I was genuinely surprised. It's more killers seek vengeance in crapsack fantasy world, but it's got a strong central heroine, a fun narrative voice, and occasionally batshit setting game; I'll read the next one. A commendable step up, I think.

 

Oh, I also finished a rare journey into non-fiction, Stephen Kinzer's Blood of Brothers, which tracks the Sandanista movement in Nicaragua from burgeoning revolution to downfall in the early 90s. Informative, engagingly written, rich in detail, nuanced and balanced with a firm eye on the human cost of revolution and the role the US played in exacerbating Nicaragua's problems. Highly recommended for anybody interested in Latin American history and international affairs. Requires no previous knowledge -- some established context on the Cold War wouldn't hurt, but the book doesn't assume you know anything at all about Nicaragua. One of my most rewarding recent reading experiences.

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Finished Tbe Call in one go. You are a sick, sick genius.

 

Edit: oh the cold between! I thought I was the only one who read it, it was a total whim buy for me. Loved it, but I can already hear people in here yelling ONG ROMANCE COOTIES. 

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1 hour ago, Darth Richard II said:

Finished Tbe Call in one go. You are a sick, sick genius.

 

Only two "sicks"? Well, that's a shame ;)

 

Many thanks for reading!

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On 8.10.2016 at 4:17 AM, SkynJay said:

I am half through Paladin of Souls by Bujold and I think it is better than Chalion.


It is my favorite 5-Gods book, though I do have some quibbles with the ending.

On 8.10.2016 at 4:17 AM, SkynJay said:

  I know many are not that fond of the Sharing Knife series but not sure I can quit on Bujold at this point. 

The 3rd and last novel in the 5-Gods sequence The Hallowed Hunt, while not as good as the previous 2, is still worth reading.  I'd argue that it has the best Bujold villain - her villains are normally decent, but not particularly engaging, IMHO. The new Penric novellas are set in the same world and are quite neatas well.

As to the Sharing Knife series, I read the first installment and didn't continue - one of Bujold's strengths used to be that unlike the vast majority of authors who include substantial romances in their SF/fantasy work, she could balance it in a very believable and natural way. I.e. the world didn't stop just so the protagonists could engage in relationship drama or talk about their feelings. They had to fit it in between their duties and the events happening to them, which didn't artificially pause for their convenience, etc., as do we all. Unfortunately, she lost this ability with the Sharing Knife series, IMHO, YMMV. It does have a potentially interesting worldbuilding and non-romance plot, but, irritatingly, these aspects constantly get brutally side-lined in the favor of  a mediocre and fairly clichéd relationship stuff. IMHO, "Vorpatril's Alliance" suffers from this issue as well, somewhat, which is why  I like it less than her previous Vorkosiverse novels with strong romantic sub-plots.

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I read The Telling by Ursula Le Guin.  Doesn't quite have the cachet of The Left Hand of Darkness or The Dispossessed, but it's Le Guin so of course it's good.  Now I'm all caught up on her Hainish books. 

Now reading Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson.

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I finished The Truth yesterday and it was fantastic, I really liked William de Worde as well as the cameos of various Watchmen.

I've started reading Warriors 1, the first of three paperback volumes of the anthology Warriors that GRRM edited and contributed back in 2010.  This volume contains the third "Dunk & Egg" story, which is why I purchased it back in 2011.

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I read Fifth Quarter and No Quarter by Tanya Huff. Wasn't a fan of the characters or plot.  And I hate 

Spoiler

Zombies in any medium (tv, movies or books)

I'm hoping The Quartered Sea will be better as it features a completely different protagonist than the previous two books.

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Quite enjoying Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone. It's like a shinier, grittier grown up version of Harry Potter, with the same sense of wonder.

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First of all, I finished The Call. It was very good, though when I finished it the ending felt like such a non-ending that I was initially disappointed. I did not know that there was a sequel planned. Glad to hear there is one coming... sometime.

Also finished Cibola Burn. Contrary to most I did not think this was a step down from the other books. In fact, I would say that at the very least it was on par with Abbadon's Gate, if not maybe a little better. I had some complaints but they were mostly pretty minor. Overall another good entry in the Expanse series.

Started Railsea by Mieville and I got about two chapters in before saying "Fuck this, I am not in the mood for this right now" and shelved it for the time being. Maybe I'll come back to it later, but the writing was just not jiving with me at that time.

So I started Ghost In The Wires instead for something a bit different. It's the Kevin Mitnick autobiography and it's very interesting so far especially how very little actual 'computer hacking' he did (at least in the early days) to earn his notoriety. Most of it was just straight up conning, deception, and larceny mixed with a helpful amount of technical know-how.

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2 hours ago, Durckad said:

Started Railsea by Mieville and I got about two chapters in before saying "Fuck this, I am not in the mood for this right now" and shelved it for the time being. Maybe I'll come back to it later, but the writing was just not jiving with me at that time.

I agree that it can be really jarring to switch to Railsea after something more, well, I was going to say "normal", but I guess it depends what you consider normal, really. For me, I started it after Kay's Sailing to Sarantium and it felt WEIRD as all hell, since Mieville's style in general, and his particular usage of very modernist style in Railsea was almost like reading in another language. Still, I ended up liking it quite a lot, so give it another go later perhaps? :)

 

Finished Shadow and Bone and it was nice, but I don't know...I don't know. It's nice. It reads really well, smooth, but I felt that my reaction to it was "this is nice", and then I compared it to Sarah Maas' Court of Thorns and Roses, which I found far more annoying, and which has far more flaws, but I still got a clearer impression of it, somehow, and I feel I could spend ages discussion Court of Thorns and Roses, but I don't have a lot to say about Shadow and Bone.

As I said, I cannot really put my finger on it. Shadow and Bone is very much grown up Harry Potter with a small touch of romance and the same sense of wonder. It's nice, very nice. I guess there is very little ambiguity in the characters? You either know they are bad people, or they are not.

Still, I have my hopes high for the sequel (which I got instantly anyway so that should tell you something :P ).

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1 hour ago, Lyanna Stark said:

I agree that it can be really jarring to switch to Railsea after something more, well, I was going to say "normal", but I guess it depends what you consider normal, really. For me, I started it after Kay's Sailing to Sarantium and it felt WEIRD as all hell, since Mieville's style in general, and his particular usage of very modernist style in Railsea was almost like reading in another language. Still, I ended up liking it quite a lot, so give it another go later perhaps? :)

 

Yeah, I haven't given up on it yet, I just was finding myself not in the mood for something of that... style at the moment. I'll pick it up again some time later, just not right now. 

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Just now, Durckad said:

Yeah, I haven't given up on it yet, I just was finding myself not in the mood for something of that... style at the moment. I'll pick it up again some time later, just not right now. 

You should their good.

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