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What Are You Reading? Second Quarter 2022


Starkess
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I think that the last time I posted in this thread (or maybe in its predecessor?) I was talking about starting Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren "soon".  

Still haven't actually done that (which I'm choosing to blame on the fact I've been sick for most of the last month), but in the meantime I've read the first two books of Naomi Novik's Scholomance trilogy (A Deadly Education and The Last Graduate, which are both fun and move at an engaging pace but don't really feel particularly deep), Tasha Suri's The Jasmine Throne (this is the first book in a trilogy, I think;  I liked it enough that I'll be reading the sequel), as well as rereading the first couple of Max Gladstone's Craft Sequence (Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise).  

I originally read the first five Craft Sequence books a few years ago (back in spring of 2017, according to Goodreads) and liked them quite a bit, although for some reason I never got around to reading the sixth one when it came out a few months later.  But I enjoyed rereading the first two enough that I'm now about 75 pages into the sixth, The Ruin of Angels ... which, it turns out, heavily features a returning character from one of the books in the series I didn't get to in my reread.  But hopefully I'm not forgetting anything too critical.

And after I finish this, I'm definitely going to start Dhalgren.

(Well, maybe.)

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I picked up a copy of Marc Alan Edelheit's Stiger's Tigers based on a recommendation in an earlier incarnation of this thread.  It is a fantasy novel based on the Roman Empire's legions, and it follows the tried-and-true trope of weathered veteran with a dark past building a crack force.

So far, so good.  The newly-formed group trains up, goes on a mission and shows their newly-won competence.  Also good.  Then about 80% of the way into the book, the protagonist and his Elven sidekick fall into a Malazan-style encounter with undead forebears and a clash between gods.  Then the last five percent of the book, we are back into something approximating realism again.

The stylistic shift was so abrupt that it was hard to track.  Otherwise, this is a good, workmanlike story that ends with an obvious lead-in to a sequel.  Very much the military fantasy literary descendant of Glen Cook or John Maddox Roberts.  Just be prepared for the sudden dip into and out of wild fantasy in the final third of the book.

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Since the last time I posted in this thread I've read One Shot by Lee Child and The Broken Room by Peter Clines. They were both quick entertaining reads as expected. One Shot is pretty much your standard Jack Reacher book, the Tom Cruise film is actually a pretty good adaptation of it other than the issues with casting Tom Cruise as Reacher, ad The Broken Room is entertaining, pulpy fun like most of Clines' books.

After that I read Normal People by Sally Rooney. Rooney's books are a bit of a cultural phenomenon at the moment so I felt like I should read at least one of them. It's quite compelling and I can see why it's a popular book but I'm not sure how I feel about it. I find it quite hard to relate to both Connell and Marianne but maybe that's just me.

Next up I'm going to read Ben Aaronovitch's The October Man. I want to read Amongst our Weapons but I feel like the novellas might become important so I should probably read them first.

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On 5/12/2022 at 12:55 PM, dog-days said:

The author Patricia McKillip has died. I'd never actually heard of her, but I keep an eye on Dreamwidth, and a huge wave of appreciation for her has swept across the blogs there. Has anyone here read her? 

 

I read her "Riddle Master" trilogy decades ago, and a bit more recently have read Song for the Basilisk and In the Forests of Serre. I think she was an excellent writer and hope to read more of her work some day. 

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As part of my quest to get back into the rhythm of reading after not doing it much for most of a year because moving eliminated the commute I'd got into the habit of saving my reading for, I've decided to go back and re-start and finish a series I started waaaaaaaaaay back but stopped coz, well, I couldn't get the second book at the time iirc. Tanith Lee's LionWolf trilogy. I understand it's not meant to be Lee's strongest but I remember enjoying the first though I remember nothing about it, it's a premise and setting that intrigues me, so let's see if it holds up.

(I have tried to get into Silver Metal Lover in the meantime, something much higher on the lists of Lee's usually recommended works, but that didn't grab me at the time) 

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Posted (edited)
On 4/24/2022 at 3:44 PM, Tywin et al. said:

Lastly, over halfway through Lord of the Flies. An absolute classic I'm ashamed to have not read when I was a kid.

I feel like you’re talking to me :D it’s basically on my “everyone else has read it but me..” list.

I just finished a reread of the First Law Trilogy. One of the series that gets better when you read it the second time around they say and I agree. Still think The Red Country is the best book of the First Law Universe but everything else is pretty close. Waiting on that Ferro Maljinn stand-alone I was promised (?) maybe. Maybe it’s just me lol

Starting Olga Tokarczuk’s “Flights” and rereading Fire and Blood because HotD is happening soon.

Edited by TormundsWoman
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I am almost finished with DiLouie's The Children of Red Peak. This is a horror story about a few survivors of a Jonestown-like cult. I anticipated it would be good...for no reason just a hunch...and it didn't let me down. Well written for the most part and progressively creepy without over doing it if that makes sense. Good book and I'll read more DiLouie no doubt.

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Posted (edited)

City On Fire (2022) by Don Winslow -- the 3 - 4 generations of violence and gang warfare to control the criminal trades between the Italians and the Irish in Providence Rhode Island, a rather different generational family saga novel.

This doesn't seem to qualify as any sort of, or subset of, mysteries, though it is crime fiction.  Since it begins in 1986, it's not historical fiction.  :dunno:  

I've not read any of Winslow's previous novels, but this is set in his native Providence, a city which is as fascinating as Baltimore, in similar ways, including their histories with the African slave trade, and the War of Independence.  The two states of Maryland and Rhode Island have a lot in common.

The epigraphs heading sections 1 and 2  of the novel are from The Iliad. For section 3, the  epigraph is from The Aeneid.  Over the years as I ponder these matters, what other nation’s mythologies are proudly presented as those of organized crime?

 

Edited by Zorral
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Posted (edited)

Daniel Abraham's Age of Ash left me with mixed feelings. The pace was much slower than the Dagger and Coin books; it had enough space to dive quite deep into the characterisation of the two lead characters, Alys and Sammish, and the main plot surrounding the immortal spirit/demon living on in multiple generations of the ruling family seemed to take a back seat in comparison. I appreciated the struggles of Alys and Sammish, and thought it was a brave choice to spend almost the whole book seeing events through the eyes of the underclass. There was no place of safety and comfort to retreat to, just borrowed rooms that were less lethal than the streets. I also liked Sammish for being the kind of character who stays in the background being practical and getting stuff done, in a very unheroic way, until she eventually realises she can't anymore. 

Overall I didn't feel that the richness of the prose or characterisation  or depth of the setting was quite enough to balance out the lack of genre pace; at the same time, Alys and Sammish's arcs were well-realised, and I will be there for the next in the series. Because Age of Ash was quite self-contained (with one obvious continuous element), I wonder if Abraham's going to take a leaf from Abercrombie's Shattered Sea trilogy and pick new point-of-view characters for the next instalment - perhaps a generation or two further on?

Abraham apparently lives in New Mexico. Is that why he chose to write about a city that's really bloody cold for half the year, and for more than half the page time of the novel?? (Ok, according to Wikipedia New Mexico can get seriously cold. They didn't tell me that in Breaking Bad. Television, you've failed in your duty to provide me with a thorough geographical education.)

ETA: To make my topic sentence clearer, I meant to imply that Abraham was writing about icy Kithamar because it was an exotic contrast to his home country. (Which in my head is full of arid land, bright blue skies, drug dealers and dodgy lawyers for some reason). 

Edited by dog-days
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3 hours ago, dog-days said:

(Ok, according to Wikipedia New Mexico can get seriously cold.

Deserts can get really cold.  It's the dry air, it doesn't hold heat.  Clear skies at night don't either.    (former desert rat from Nevada)

 

 

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I lived for 8 years in Albuquerque.  It is not bloody cold half the year.  Not even up in the Sandias east of the city.  Yes, it gets cold up there in the winter, but not bloody cold.  Down in the city there are some cold days, but snow is -- or was -- rare (climate change and human behavior has changed things there too).  I've never lived anywhere with a climate that I was as comfortable with as in Albuquerque.  The first year I live there I had a suntan by the end of February.  The spring is the season you don't want to be there -- sand and dust storms.  Ugh.  But that lasts a relatively short time.

The thing about New Mexico is there are so many climates and environments.  Santa Fe is higher than Albuquerque so the nights are colder. When one went up for the opera one always brought a jacket or a sweater, since it's outdoors.

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The October Man was good but it was a bit more like the Peter Grant novels than I expected. That's not a problem really since I really like them but I was expecting the novellas to be a bit more of a departure from Aaronovitch's usual stuff.

I've also read Adrian Tchaikovsky's Eyes of the Void since the last time I posted. It does have a fairly middle book feel to it, not a lot is concluded, but I enjoyed it.

Next I'm reading The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden to finish up that series.

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On 5/22/2022 at 7:45 AM, dog-days said:

Because Age of Ash was quite self-contained (with one obvious continuous element), I wonder if Abraham's going to take a leaf from Abercrombie's Shattered Sea trilogy and pick new point-of-view characters for the next instalment - perhaps a generation or two further on?

I read that this is the case. The series blurb says "Each book in the trilogy unfolds within the walls of a single great city, over the course of one tumultuous year, a different character's perspective, and the fate of the city is woven from them all."

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1 hour ago, Starkess said:

I read that this is the case. The series blurb says "Each book in the trilogy unfolds within the walls of a single great city, over the course of one tumultuous year, a different character's perspective, and the fate of the city is woven from them all."

Thanks, @Starkess. Someone should learn to read the blurb! 

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On 5/15/2022 at 8:32 AM, Wilbur said:

I picked up a copy of Marc Alan Edelheit's Stiger's Tigers based on a recommendation in an earlier incarnation of this thread.  It is a fantasy novel based on the Roman Empire's legions, and it follows the tried-and-true trope of weathered veteran with a dark past building a crack force.

So far, so good.  The newly-formed group trains up, goes on a mission and shows their newly-won competence.  Also good.  Then about 80% of the way into the book, the protagonist and his Elven sidekick fall into a Malazan-style encounter with undead forebears and a clash between gods.  Then the last five percent of the book, we are back into something approximating realism again.

The stylistic shift was so abrupt that it was hard to track.  Otherwise, this is a good, workmanlike story that ends with an obvious lead-in to a sequel.  Very much the military fantasy literary descendant of Glen Cook or John Maddox Roberts.  Just be prepared for the sudden dip into and out of wild fantasy in the final third of the book.

Because I am a sucker for historical fiction set in Ancient Greece or Republican Rome, I downloaded and listened to the second book, The Tiger, by Marc Alan Edelheit.

My hope was the it would be more Roman Legionary fiction, but it was instead more High Fantasy in Modern Language.  The modern terminology and slang wasn't to my taste, and the elves, dwarves, prophecies, living swords and hints at reincarnated magical undead ancestors in this book had swelled to a good 50% of the text.

I think that for a younger, less widely-read audience this story would probably work better.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/26/2022 at 11:50 AM, Wilbur said:

Because I am a sucker for historical fiction set in Ancient Greece or Republican Rome, I downloaded and listened to the second book, The Tiger, by Marc Alan Edelheit.

My hope was the it would be more Roman Legionary fiction, but it was instead more High Fantasy in Modern Language.  The modern terminology and slang wasn't to my taste, and the elves, dwarves, prophecies, living swords and hints at reincarnated magical undead ancestors in this book had swelled to a good 50% of the text.

I think that for a younger, less widely-read audience this story would probably work better.

Agreed.  I was hoping for Legionary fiction in this, but it’s mostly a bog-standard fantasy.

Edit: Simon Scarrow wrote a Legionary fiction series, but the characters were weak and the over-arching plot felt trite.  But the military engagements were well written.

Edited by Iskaral Pust
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Last night I finished Between Light and Storm - How We Live With Other Species by Esther Woolfson last night. I'd put it down unfinished a couple of months ago because the chapter on vivisection was a bit too much at the time, but resumed it in May as the greater presence of the sun made me a bit braver. I'm glad I carried on, even if it meant learning more about the modern fur trade than I'd ever wanted to know. I suppose I had expected the self-justification and machismo of the hunting-fishing-shooting set in the UK, having heard bits of it sampled on the radio from time to time, but my brain had quietly consigned the industrial production of fur for fashion to the past, without checking reality first to see if this was true.

If all this makes the book sound unrelentingly grim, it's not. Woolfson's a fine prose stylist, a writer sensitive to mood and behaviour, and is excellent at taking apart the ambiguities of human behaviour and belief surrounding animals, as well as in her descriptions of the animals themselves. She deserves to be more widely known, but I would recommend newcomers start with Corvus - A Life With Birds first which with its numerous anecdotes and stories is more of an easy read. 

Epitaph of Chicken, a rook that the author was given as a fledgling. 

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I finished listening to American Dirt. Whew that was a long one! I thought it started out quite strong and compelling and degenerated into aimless misery porn in the second half. The ending arrived with a huh that was it? Interesting read though. I know there was some controversy about the book being written by a white American woman, but I don't know the details (just absorbed some of it by being on Twitter at the time). I can certainly understand the pain and frustration with the publishing industry, and I would love to see more "own voices" receive the attention and support of this book. That said, I don't really consider any of that when reading a fictional book, which I do primarily for entertainment.

I'm still working on book 2 of the Babel series. It's not grabbing me as much as book 1 so far. We're getting a lot less of the Tower, no closer to Marya, Edith and Tom make me feel icky--I feel like the author is setting up a romance there and I really hope not because the Tom/Marya is what really pulled me into the first book. But we'll see!

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