Jump to content
Garett Hornwood

Third Quarter 2019 Reading

Recommended Posts

Finally, after wrangling with my e-reader and Kobo's files for a month and a half, got to read The Missing of Clairdelune, the second book of The Mirror Visitor series by Christele Dabos. I absolutely loved the first one. Loved this one too, maybe not quite as much but it might just have been I was more familiar with what I was going to be getting. In any case, it continues to marry whimsical charm with savage politics, and is great fun.

 

 

Now I'm reading The Monster by Seth Dickinson, which is just the savage politics really. But I gotta say it's mad how much Dickinson has improved as a writer since The Traitor. I liked that book fine but it had a shitload of issues in the way it was written. This is levels better in every single respect - prose, flair, character presentation, structure, how both emotional and action set-pieces are set up and depicted... don't think I've seen this big a jump in levels between a first and second book, ever.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finished up Howard Blum's Dark Invasion: 1915: Germany's Secret War and the Hunt for the First Terrorist Cell in America. Good read on a lesser known topic of WWI. Had the tension of a spy thriller in parts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I finished N.K. Jemisin's The Killing Moon. There were a lot of things to like about the book, but overall I didn't find it as compelling as her Broken Earth series. The Egyptian-inspired setting was unusual and interesting but I didn't feel the world-building had the same depth as in the Broken Earth books. I think the most interesting aspect of it was the 'nacromancy', magic based around using the power of dreams, which did feel like an original concept and the book did show how it shaped how the society worked. Like the world-building, I thought there was some good character development, as the three protagonists are forced to examine the assumptions that underpin their societies, but the characters still weren't quite as compelling as in Jemisin's other books. Although this is the first in a duology I thought it came to a conclusive enough ending that it would have worked as a standalone, and the ending is satisfying although perhaps a bit rushed in places. Overall, I'd say this is a good book but one that maybe falls a bit short of greatness.

I've now started Claire North's 84k. The way the narrative jumps abruptly between time periods was initially a bit disconcerting but it does start to fit together after a while. I think it isn't too hard to guess how North was inspired to write about a dystopian Britain where corporations have to provide 'stable leadership' to protect the country from 'saboteurs and enemies of the people'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finished my latest commute audiobook, Nate Blakeslee's American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West. The author tells the story of the reintroduction of wolves into the Yellowstone area and the competing interest surrounding it through the lens of one very special wolf. Very interesting subject told in a captivating manner. The wolf, 06, was pretty remarkable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finished Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius (yes, that one). Was initially puzzled by the archaic language of the translation, until I realised that the public library version I was reading was a seventeenth century(!) translation. Dear old Marcus liked to muse on Death and the transience of existence a lot...

Next up is That Hideous Strength, by C.S. Lewis.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I keep pressing on with the Alex Verus series.  I’m 60% into book #5, Hidden

It was spurring me to get back into the Dresden Files.  Then I read the thread for that series and decided against it.  I’m glad Jacka keeps the sexual tension buried in the background.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I finished Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik. This one was a let down, tbh. Heavily repetitive of earlier books in the series and basically ended almost right where it started. The only redeeming aspect was that it is set in Australia and I read it while in Australia, so that was kind of neat (and I had to ask my boyfriend what a bunyip is).

Next I plan to re-read The Woman Who Rides Like A Man by Tamora Pierce, third in the Alanna series.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been on a Le Guin kick lately - specifically on her 2000-ies output, which didn't get the attention it deserved, IMHO. So, I blew through her "Lavinia" and "The Annals of the Western Shore" trilogy - "Gifts", "Voices" and "Powers". I liked all of them, though IMHO the "4th wall" device, not with the reader, but with Vergil, was somewhat unnecessary in "Lavinia". Otherwise it was a really well-written thought experiment on how the events of the "Aenaeid" may have looked from the perspective of the titular character and what life of the ancient Latin tribes may have been like.

The "Western Shore" trilogy takes place in a fictional world, parts of which are inspired by ancient Italy and other historical cultures. And, going against the grain of contemporary fantasy, the stakes are mostly very personal and in the end the young PoV characters  basically just find themselves. I still found the stories very gripping and loved "Gifts" and "Powers". "Voices" is also fairly good, but it runs out of steam 2/3 of the way through and the ending didn't seem plausible to me.

Also read "The Daughter of Ordren", a minor Earthsea story.

I will probably be dropping Gareth Powell's space opera series after "The Fleet of Knives" turned one of the previously interesting PoVs into an annoying straw person and generally lost my interest.

"The Vanisher's Palace" by Aliette de Boddard disappointed me too.

"The Unkindest Tide" by Seanan McGuire kinda sits in the middle for me in that I feel that she is adhering to a formula that is becoming very stale and is unnecessarily recycling some previous stuff for superfluous side-missions, when there was really more than enough potential in the main plot about the Selkies.  I am also getting increasingly irritated at how

Spoiler

Gillian and generally young women are always side-lined because it is seemingly much cooler for Toby to mentor only boys. Generally, only trotting out Gillian to tug at Toby's heartsrings or provide a damsel for her to save without allowing Gillian to become an actual fleshed-out character is getting very old.

However, I still liked what there was of the main plot and the resolution was fairly satisfying. 

 

"Sister Noon" by Karen Joy Fowler - a historical novel set in the 19th century San Francisco. Not up to the level of "We are All Completely Besides Ourselves", but intriguing historical personages such as Mary E. Pleasant make up for it.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I finished Claire North's 84k. I thought it was a reasonably good book, but I didn't find it to be as compelling as her earlier books (I've read The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, Touch and The Sudden Appearance of Hope). While the dystopian vision of Britain was convincingly portrayed it didn't feel that there was anything particularly new about it, and while I think it fits the story better to have a protagonist who doesn't have the unusual abilities the protagonists of her other books have it did mean he was quite a dull character, and out of the supporting I thought only Helen was really interesting. I did think the writing style worked well although looking at other reviews it does seem to have divided opinions, I can see why the stream-of-consciousness effect with lots of unfinished sentences and sudden jumps back and forward in time wouldn't be to everyone's tastes but I thought the story was still easy enough to follow. Overall, it's not a bad book but I don't think it's as memorable as North's other books.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finished That Hideous Strength, and hence C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy. Unlike its two predecessors (which are decent enough), this one was nauseatingly dull, and overlong. I literally forced my way through it out of curiosity to see how Lewis approached Merlin, only to be thoroughly disappointed by his lack of screen-time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I finished my WoT reread with five straight WoT books so I needed a non-fantasy break.  I read Long Road to Mercy by David Baldacci.  I keep swearing it's over but I just can't stop reading Baldacci.  I moved on to The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte which is a book I thought I had already read so ignored for years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've just finished re-reading Wooding's Ketty Jay 2 novel, The Black Lung Captain. Enjoyed it, reminds me of Firefly albeit not in space.

On a whim, I've decided to re-read the original Conan stories in chronological order. A problematic series given its age (racism, sexism etc) but the descriptions are vivid.

Also re-reading my own first novel, Resurrection Men, to remind myself of the tone, events and characters as I prepare to revise the sequel for draft 2. I don't want the characters to become caricatures of themselves, or to make continuity errors.

I'll probably interrupt the above when I get the new Abercrombie book next week! Still to read The Ember Blade and the latest Expanse book! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finished my re-read of The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, it was excellent as always.

Now I'm on to Crucible of Gold, the 7th novel in the Temeraire series. Book 6 was a disappointment, but so far this one is a bit more interesting at least. I don't want to give up on the series this far in so I'll probably finish it out regardless, but I am starting to get annoyed at many of the recurring characters' idiosyncrasies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A little over halfway through The Silk Road: A New History Of The World by Peter Frankopan.

Really well done look at world events that focuses on the geographic arenas that drove things forward through economic, political, and cultural practices throughout history. Usually we get a narrative that revolves around a particular viewpoint, often British or American but sometimes Asian. This book does a good job of shifting the focus from place to place based on where the sphere of influence resided at a given point in time. As it turns out, more often than I previously thought, the goings on in Central Asia and the Middle East influenced the rest of the world’s history.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Joey Crows said:

A little over halfway through The Silk Road: A New History Of The World by Peter Frankopan.

Really well done look at world events that focuses on the geographic arenas that drove things forward through economic, political, and cultural practices throughout history. Usually we get a narrative that revolves around a particular viewpoint, often British or American but sometimes Asian. This book does a good job of shifting the focus from place to place based on where the sphere of influence resided at a given point in time. As it turns out, more often than I previously thought, the goings on in Central Asia and the Middle East influenced the rest of the world’s history.

Very interesting book I thoroughly enjoyed.

I finished Joe Abercrombie's Sharp Ends and now moving on to A Little Hatred

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finished Age Of Iron by Angus Watson, first in a historical fantasy (very little magic) trilogy set in Celtic Britain just before the arrival of Julius Caesar.  The style owes a lot to Joe Abercrombie’s The North, without being quite as good at prose or characterization.  

It was a pretty good read and I’ll look out for the remainder of the trilogy. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/23/2019 at 3:02 AM, Joey Crows said:

A little over halfway through The Silk Road: A New History Of The World by Peter Frankopan.

Really well done look at world events that focuses on the geographic arenas that drove things forward through economic, political, and cultural practices throughout history. Usually we get a narrative that revolves around a particular viewpoint, often British or American but sometimes Asian. This book does a good job of shifting the focus from place to place based on where the sphere of influence resided at a given point in time. As it turns out, more often than I previously thought, the goings on in Central Asia and the Middle East influenced the rest of the world’s history.

I'm glad to hear this is good. I read the first sentence, which began with something like "since the beginning of time..." was reminded of many bad history essays I've graded, and decided not to buy it. But maybe I'll take it out from the library and check it out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×