Nov. 5th, 2014

starlady: (abhorsen key)
I'm back in Bali. Due to various things, some of which I should have realized and some of which I should have been told, I am on my way to spending eleven hours here in the airport today. When I get to Tokyo I'll see whether they can change Indonesia rupiah, because the rates here were crap. For the record, the airport is very new and very nice, and don't worry, Lonely Planet, they have multiple duty-free shops now.

What I'm Reading
Clariel by Garth Nix - I had forgotten how much I love the Old Kingdom books; my copies of the first three and of Across the Wall and "The Creature in the Case" are in storage, so I haven't been able to do a proper reread, but even just from reading the preview of Sabriel in the back of the book, they're great. I also really like the way Nix manages to do several difficult things here: namely, to make an ostensibly unlikable protagonist sympathetic, and to build a plot and a coherent worldview despite said protagonist being rather disposed to obliviousness. I cannot wait for the fifth book, and I wonder to what extent Lirael's being a Rembrancer will come up. Also, I really do love Mogget more and more. I hope he's back too.

Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie - "We can't go to space without dishes!" I love the imperial Radch so much, partly because they are Romans in space and partly because they drink a lot of tea, although my loving them does not make me neglect their many faults, no more than Breq is blinded. This is a different book than Ancillary Justice in many ways, and in many ways also funnier (Breq is hilarious when she wants to be) and I'm enjoying it heaps so far.

What I've Just Read
Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan - Finished on my plane from Sydney this morning. I was not prepared for the fact that it would make me cry multiple times. I liked these books a lot, although I feel like they could have been deeper than they were, I guess. Not that they were shallow! And I did like the way the characters grew and changed, and the feelings, and the story itself. Sigh. Maybe I'm just actually wanting more story.

Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee - Finished on my train to Sydney on Sunday. I'd read some of Lee's stories in various online magazines, but it had been long enough that I'd forgotten almost all of them except "Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain" and "Blue Ink." Anyway they are great! Lots of maths, lots of Asian influences, lots of interesting and cool things. I need to read the rest of Lee's stories that are online and weren't in this book.

Love Is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson - Read in the airport this afternoon. I love ADJ's books, and I liked this one a lot, although nowhere near as much as I loved The Summer Prince, which was alchemical. This one is good, and very much drawing on Johnson's experiences growing up in the District, although it's changed a lot in the last few years and her D.C. is very much up to date; I daresay her childhood didn't include pandemic flu and the invasion of Venezuela. I liked the protagonist Bird and her slow, painful transformation into her self; I never understood her attraction to Coffee, per se, and I also sort of question this knee-jerk association of Brazil and freedom and justice, although characters poke holes in it at at least one point. They have favelas in São Paulo, IJS, I guess. And I liked the story--I liked what happened with what Bird knew, and what didn't--but yes, the government does horrible things and while I believed in Bird's self-delusion on that point, I'm already in Coffee's camp more or less, and so Bird twigging to the truth of that didn't really do much for me. Bizarrely, Johnson repeatedly minimized the death rate of the 1918 pandemic flu (she says 5-10%; it was somewhere between 10-20 on average, and higher in many places), which really bothered me, because you don't actually see the extreme social dislocation of a pandemic at anything much below 30%, or at least you didn't historically, and the plausibility of the whole story line kept bothering me because of that. I don't know; the book is really about they way we live now, I guess, and it's depressing, but also nothing new. This dynamic of "teenagers discover huge government plot!" worked better for me in Malinda Lo's Adaptation books because I don't believe the government is lying about aliens. But I'm quite sure it's lying about some of the things that are plot points in here.

What I'll Read Next
I got Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier in Australia, and also a classic Penguin cover edition of Northanger Abbey, the last Jane Austen I haven't read. I also got a little Penguin pamphlet about the Sydney Opera House (it kills me that we in the States don't get the best of Penguin's designs, which have really gotten awesome in the last five to ten years), so probably that too.

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