Jump to content

What are you reading? First Quarter 2023


williamjm
 Share

Recommended Posts

I finished Ada Palmer's Too Like the Lightning. I've got mixed feelings about it. There are a number of interesting things going on but I found it very difficult to get into the flow of reading the book with the weird asides from the narrator and the gender stuff is very odd. She sets the book in a future society with a different attitude to gender than our own, which is fine, but then the narrator doesn't stick to that and says he's going to do something else, which he then doesn't really stick to. It's pretty jarring.

If I'm going to carry on the series I think I'll have to do it soon because it seems unlikely I'm going to remember all the different subplots if I leave it too long.

Now I'm reading Kate Elliott's The Keeper's Six.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just ordered something that sounded very interesting, The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance. Should be fun to read along side Open, and neither book is that much about tennis as far as I'm aware.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know I go too long between posting in these threads but I do enjoy following all of your reviews and recs.

Left For Dead by Caroline Mitchell is a British police procedural with very high ratings.  I thought it was just ok.  The killer is revealed to the reader early on, and promptly reveals himself to the protagonist.  The remaining 90% of the book is her building evidence and excluding red herrings.  It seems like a poor choice of structure.

The Pariah by Anthony Ryan is the start of a fantasy series (trilogy?), very much grounded in medieval Europe with a Bildungsroman POV character.  Well written, though; I enjoyed it more than most fantasy I have tried in recent years.  I bought the second volume already.

What In God’s Name by Simon Rich is an attempt at humorous fiction.  The premise* is quite funny but the writing didn’t exactly crackle with pithy wit or dark humor.
*God is a self-absorbed and easily distracted CEO who lost interest in Earth as his approval ratings declined.  Only lowly functionaries in heaven actually care about humanity anymore.

Hidden In Snow by Viveca Sten is a moody Scandi murder set in a small ski village.  A good seasonal setting and atmosphere, but the writing and main characters are pretty bland.  
It annoyed me that the central protagonist (of a new series?) is a police officer on a crusade against domestic violence, but when her boyfriend breaks up with her (after 6+ months of her alcohol abuse, moody noncommunication and absence of intimacy) she trashes his apartment and destroys his personal belongings.  I guess it’s actually consistent with IRL police domestic abuse, but the author clearly intends that we should support the character in her tantrum and subsequent lack of remorse.

Edited by Iskaral Pust
Link to comment
Share on other sites

And a few more:

The Hunger Of The Gods by John Gwynne is the conclusion of a Norse fantasy duology, heavy on magic in a post-Ragnorak setting.  This wasn’t as good as the first volume, but a decent short series for a seasonal-ish Viking-based fantasy.  Lots of brotherhood, vengeance, loyalty, honor and reputation involved.

Two Inspector Rebus novels by Ian Rankin were Knots And Crosses (#1) and A Heart Full Of Headstones (#24).  Purchased on Kindle Daily Deals, it was a bit jarring to jump around the series order quite this much, but they’re very well written and the author has some impressive turns of phrase at time.  They’re a gritty Scottish police procedural.  Recommended author.

Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly is a Harry Bosch novel, with some of the plot familiar from the TV show.  Well written and a good read.  There is such a distinctive tone and institutional immersion in this series, which makes it feel like an established universe when I return.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And yet more:

The Ink Black Heart by Rowling/Galbraith is the latest in the Cormoran Strike series, and only purchased as a Kindle Daily Deal.  The positives are that the author is a detailed and observant narrator of the mundane, which produces great immersion, and the two protagonists are less unlikable after recently watching their portrayal in the TV adaptation.  The negatives are this is overlong and has a poorly conceived structure, and once again the author’s personal politics seep too much into the novel — this was true of Rowling’s class politics long before her TERFiness, but this lash out at performative SJWs feels too on-the-nose.

The Rising Tide by Ben Kane is the opening volume in a historical fiction series about the military conflict between Rome and Greece.  Despite great subject matter and pretty good historical fidelity, it’s not written very well, is too light on action considering the subject, and jumps around too much in the flow and between POVs, e.g. the scheming Roman politician POV could have been excised entirely.

Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson is an Icelandic cosy murder mystery in a small, isolated (snowed in) community.  There’s some good development of different personalities and their relationships but there’s ultimately a blandness to the prose and central character that makes it difficult to recommend.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I sometimes like to read a short story anthology or collection along with the current novel and this month it was Song of the Mango and Other New Myths by Vida Cruz-Borja.  I absolutely adored this.  The author is Filipino and many of the stories draw from Filipino culture and folklore.  Other stories are more traditional, but often used inverted tropes.  For example, "Chosen Mother", takes the trope of the Chosen One and instead tells the story of the woman chosen to be the mother.  Really, really good.

Also read The House of Always, penultimate book in the five-book Chorus of Dragons by Jenn Lyons.  Pretty decent with a lot of development for several of the characters.  On the other hand, the series storytelling narrative of telling half the story in flashback didn't completely cover the fact that not much actually happens.  Perhaps that's be expected in the bridging volume before the last book.  Will be reading the last book later this year.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Finished Babel -- well actually skimmed the last 5th of it.  The novel as a novel would have been better reading if about 100 pp. had been cut out.  The plotting and characterization was good, but, and I know this sounds odd -- there was too much of both.  Or more accurately the book kept making the points already made, over and over, which wasn't necessary, and felt rather amateurish.  But it certainly lived up to its title, and gets a lot of credit for that

~~~~~~~

My next novel is Age of Vice (2023) by Deepti Kapoor, a great big gangster-thriller set in Northern India, and particularly, New Delhi.   This novel has received enthusiastic reviews for the most part, though some have said it is 1) too long; 2) melodramatic for the sake of melodrama, and implausible -- but the pace is so fast and the text goes downs so easily one hardly notices  Lee Child is among the pros who have enthusiastically endorsed it, and so has Marlon James.  I do not know if Age of Vice is published in India.  The author lives in Portugal.

 

 

 

Edited by Zorral
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/22/2023 at 12:19 PM, Iskaral Pust said:

And a few more:

The Hunger Of The Gods by John Gwynne is the conclusion of a Norse fantasy duology, heavy on magic in a post-Ragnorak setting.  This wasn’t as good as the first volume, but a decent short series for a seasonal-ish Viking-based fantasy.  Lots of brotherhood, vengeance, loyalty, honor and reputation involved.

Also liked the first one better - second was a little too much unrealistic situations where our protagonists win, and generally felt repetitive and less inspired. I think there's at least one more coming. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/22/2023 at 6:24 PM, Zorral said:

Finished Babel -- well actually skimmed the last 5th of it.  The novel as a novel would have been better reading if about 100 pp. had been cut out.  The plotting and characterization was good, but, and I know this sounds odd -- there was too much of both.  Or more accurately the book kept making the points already made, over and over, which wasn't necessary, and felt rather amateurish.  But it certainly lived up to its title, and gets a lot of credit for that

~~~~~~~

My next novel is Age of Vice (2023) by Deepti Kapoor, a great big gangster-thriller set in Northern India, and particularly, New Delhi.   This novel has received enthusiastic reviews for the most part, though some have said it is 1) too long; 2) melodramatic for the sake of melodrama, and implausible -- but the pace is so fast and the text goes downs so easily one hardly notices  Lee Child is among the pros who have enthusiastically endorsed it, and so has Marlon James.  I do not know if Age of Vice is published in India.  The author lives in Portugal.

It is published in India (virtually all Indian/Indian-origin authors are, and usually more cheaply). 

I think your decision to skim the last 1/5 of Babel was wise. 

Not sure why a novel living up to its (sub)title is a good thing when the subtitle proclaims (unironically) that violence is a necessity.  The world has never exactly lacked violence as a feature.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I

34 minutes ago, Gaston de Foix said:

Not sure why a novel living up

I didn't mean the subtitle, but the title -- Babel.  Which it did live up to.  In the end all the parts of those we meet in this alternate history sf/fnal novel, wherever they are from or go,  are as incomprehensible to each other as the Old Testament humanity are to each other with the failure of their tower.  No matter how much and deeply language was studied, whether to fuel exploitation of others as well as the planet, it does not provide a solution to this, which brings violence always.  One understand this so well, living with pre-lingual children, their outrage and frustration that no matter how they try we don't understand what their issues are (so much of the time).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just finished Election by Tom Perrotta.  This definitely doesn’t get published nowadays.  I hope it isn’t in any secondary school’s library.  I only finished it because it was very short.

Currently, I’m 25% into Legends and Lattes, which was mentioned in the winter reads thread.
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Keeper's Six was not my favourite of Kate Elliott's books I have to say. It felt a bit too unfocused for a novella.

Spoiler

Going into a bit more detail the initial premise is the protagonist learns her son has been kidnapped in the middle of the night and rushes off to rescue him. Which is fine, seems like a decent plot for a short adventure story, but relatively quickly she finds him and he's talking to a bunch of people about cooking and labour rights. Which kind of takes a lot of tension out of the story. Then there's a lot of discussions about collective bargaining with dragon employers, trade mechanisms with magical travel and the correct pronouns to use for dragons.

The world building's not uninteresting but, as I said, it seems a bit unfocused for a novella.

After that I read John Scalzi's The Collapsing Empire. I've heard Scalzi mentioned before but I've never read any of his books so I thought I'd give it a try. It's not bad. The tone's a little weird with a sort of serious space opera written with fairly comedic characters. I'll probably read the next one at some point, it was ok as a light read.

Next up I'm reading Katherine Addison's The Grief of Stones.

Edited by ljkeane
Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 hours ago, Zorral said:

I

I didn't mean the subtitle, but the title -- Babel.  Which it did live up to.  In the end all the parts of those we meet in this alternate history sf/fnal novel, wherever they are from or go,  are as incomprehensible to each other as the Old Testament humanity are to each other with the failure of their tower.  No matter how much and deeply language was studied, whether to fuel exploitation of others as well as the planet, it does not provide a solution to this, which brings violence always.  One understand this so well, living with pre-lingual children, their outrage and frustration that no matter how they try we don't understand what their issues are (so much of the time).

This is why I found the novel unredeemingly bleak.  Why write a novel with no joy in it? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/23/2023 at 7:13 PM, Underfoot said:

Also liked the first one better - second was a little too much unrealistic situations where our protagonists win, and generally felt repetitive and less inspired. I think there's at least one more coming. 

It may be a while before the story is complete (https://twitter.com/johngwynne_). 

I thought it was a considerable jump in terms of writing ability/quality for John Gwynne from his Faithful/Fallen series.  I'm generally a sucker for any mythology infused fantasy stories, and this has an excellent norse-world mythos. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Gaston de Foix said:

This is why I found the novel unredeemingly bleak.  Why write a novel with no joy in it? 

Why live in a world where They oppress and repress, murder and plunder, rape and torture?  In fact, in the face of all this, why did Homer(s) create the Iliad?

Or are you saying victims are to rejoice in what is done to them?  Not fight back, even if the chances are they will not succeed in this generation or even generations to come?

Perhaps readers who are in China (where supposedly the next World Con is located) or over here, or of Chinese heritage might read this book differently than you do?

Edited by Zorral
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...