starlady: (abhorsen)
What I've Just Read
I finally finished Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves, a YA novel set in the same world--the same town, really--as Bleeding Violet. It feels weird to say this, but although Slice of Cherry was much darker (content notes: serial killers, child sexual abuse, I'm probably forgetting something), I still liked it a lot. Whereas Bleeding Violet was as much about introducing Portero as anything else, here the general Night Vale-style weirdness of the town takes a back seat to the psychodrama of Fancy and Kit Cordelle, the daughters of the so-called Bonesaw Killer, who take advantage of their unique heritage to follow in their father's footsteps in their own way, even as they learn, albeit painfully, that there are more ways to connect with people than just by killing them. If Bleeding Violet reminded me strongly of Welcome to Night Vale, this book reminded me a lot of Hannibal, if Hannibal and Will were two teenage girls who kind of wanted to get out of the murder game. I continue to really like Reeves' writing, and at points I was rather forcibly reminded that she is definitely not writing from a mainstream, middle-class white perspective. The characters are all quite frank about sex, in particular, but there are many other little things that make Reeves' voice original and valuable. I'm very glad to see from her Twitter that she's working on two more Portero books.

I also finished Silver Spoon vol. 2 by Arakawa-sensei. It's so great. I like Hachiken-kun a lot more now that he's got a bit more backstory to him, but it's also nice to just read a book which is about the small--but by no means inconsequential--dramas of daily life, in which everyone is just trying to do their best in that muddled human way. I'm also learning a lot of agricultural vocabulary, still.

I devoured Ancillary Sword on my way back from Australia; I think I liked it even better than Ancillary Justice, which is saying something. It really reminded me, in a weird way, of Jane Austen in space--Jane Austen in space with guns, of course, but etiquette is absolutely crucial in most of the book's central conflicts, as are the proper dishes. I loved how Breq is angry all the time too--she has a lot to be angry about, too--and I liked how this book made the whole situation more complex, even as it made the answers less simple. Breq does her best to right the injustices that she finds, but there's only so much that she can do, to her dismay. My favorite character of all was probably the Presger translator; I hope we'll see more of the Presger in future, although I'm sure Breq wouldn't. I also, frankly, would read about a million books set in this universe. In the meantime, AS is on my 2014 Hugo ballot for sure.

What I'm Reading
I'm trying to finish Clariel tonight. I really like it, and I basically read the high points of it in that skipping around way that I do when I bought it, but I'm enjoying my thorough reading very much. In addition to what I said before, I also really like that Clariel is so angry. In fact, she's a berserk (like Touchstone in the first books), and though it is something that she needs and wants to control, she isn't punished for it by the narrative. Mogget is about to show up, and I <3 Mogget.

What I'll Read Next
Silver Spoon, assuredly. I'm also looking forward to finally reading Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith!
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.
starlady: Ramona Flowers wearing her delivery goggles (ramona flowers is awesome)
What I've Read
One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire--so, I actually quite like the Toby Daye books, which is funny because they're the sort of thing I'd have thought, four years ago, were not my cup of tea at all. But I've attended the parties for about half of the Toby Daye books, including this one, and liked them better and better…though I somehow failed to acquire this one in paper, which led to me acquiring it from (vomit) Amazon because I have a gift card there, and because the eighth book out and Everything Changes (again) and I didn't want to fall even further behind. I really liked it; I think in the Toby books in particular it's possible to see McGuire growing by leaps and bounds as a writer, and the climax takes place in one of my favorite parts of San Francisco. The books take place in a city but aren't typical "urban fantasy" by any means, and I do like Toby and her sarcasm and her need for coffee. I figured out the [spoiler] ages ago, and never really cared about that character anyway, but I liked them in this book more than I ever had before. I'm excited for the next three, when I get to them.

I also finished Silver Spoon volume 1. It's adorable and also very interesting. I find it really cool how Arakawa manages to make even the most mundane activities seem--not overly dramatic, but momentous in their own quotidian way. The horseback riding sequence is a good example of this. I also think it's interesting that this is the story she chose to do after FMA--she could have done whatever she wanted after FMA, and she started writing a manga about cows (and other things) set in Hokkaidou. Nice. Anyway, I love it, and it's great.

What I'm Reading Now
Yoon Ha Lee, Kate Elliott, and Rae Carson are the guests of honor at Sirens next year, and since I've loved some of Lee's short stories individually for a while, and had the collected volume of them, Conservation of Shadows, in my "to read" pile for a while, I started that on the plane this afternoon. It is also great; I love the math and science elements and Asian influences of Lee's space opera futures, and fantastic pasts.

Also, Silver Spoon vol. 2.

What I'm Reading Next
Well, more Silver Spoon when I get back to Japan. I'm also planning on buying Clariel by Garth Nix in paper when I get to Australia (bizarrely, the Australian cover is clearly the best of the lot), and possibly also Justine Larbalestier's Razorhurst (the Australian cover of that is better, too). Reading Yoon Ha Lee also makes me really want to read Ancillary Sword, so probably that soon too.

starlady: Twitter quote: @magneto "come home" (my offer still stands)
What I'm Reading
Silver Spoon volume 1 by Arakawa-sensei, because I'm going to be hanging out at an agricultural institute in Tochigi in January and three years ago I was defeated by the agricultural kanji and then by graduate school. (I was trying to be A Good Student and draw all the kanji rather than just look them up by the readings, but you know what, life is short and I'll pick them up visually eventually anyway, screw that.) Anyway it's an Arakawa manga about a dude who goes to an agricultural high school because it's a boarding school and that's literally all I know yet, but it could be about watching paint dry and I would love it because Arakawa. She is my all-time favorite. And you know, that's the great thing about manga--it can make me read about so many different things and love them all. But yeah, I bought all 12 volumes at Book-Off (which is rebranding as Yafu Off? Or maybe just the one in Shibuya? I don't know at all) for ¥2500; I'll just sell back the volumes I own in the States once I've read them.

What I've Just Read
I literally just finished Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and it was brilliant. I saw her at a signing this spring and thanked her for writing a book that didn't pathologize fandom and fanfiction without having read it, but I really loved the book itself, and Cath, and Simon Snow, and her relationship to fandom and the people in her life and also to freshman year of college. In some ways, I saw a lot of me and my sister in Cath and Wren; we were nothing like that, except for how we were, and how we could have been. It's a really good book and I'm kicking myself for not buying the necklace when it was available. Highly recommended.

Libba Bray, The Diviners - I really liked it. I just really liked that Evie drank and swore and was scandalous and the narrative didn't punish her for any of that, and I thought Bray did a really good job of bringing history to life. I do have questions about the larger structure of the series and some of the worldbuilding that can't be answered at this point because it's only one book of four, but if and when the next one comes out, I'll be reading avidly.

Michelle Sagara, Cast in Sorrow - I'm now only one book behind on the Elantra Chronicles, and I still really like Kaylin. It feels like she's grown a lot over the last few books, and I'm looking forward to watching that growth continue. I ship her and Severn shamelessly.

Kumota Haruko, Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu vol. 1 - I finally finished the first volume of the rakugo manga! I bought it on a whim because it's popular and because the author was the subject of an exhibit at the Yonezawa Manga Library in June. It's set in the 80s (and yes, when you think about it, the Bubble really was the Showa Genroku) and follows the career of an ex-con who becomes an apprentice rakugo raconteur when he gets out. I expect many doujinshi at Comiket devoted to the rakugo sensei and the sensei's dead rival, who may or may not be haunting the sensei as a ghost? I had a friend who did her Fulbright research on rakugo, so I know about two knuckles' worth of stuff about it, but even that was enough to know that it's a pretty sexist sphere, and I'm glad that Kumota puts that front and center in the person of the sensei's dead rival's daughter, who he's raised in his household and wants to be a rakugo raconteur but simply can't. I don't really care about the protagonist much yet (except, since the mangaka made her name in BL, and this is shelved in BL/Ladies at Book-Off, wondering whether he or any of the other male characters will suddenly appear in a BL scene), but that's pretty normal for me, and also not a dealbreaker by any means.

What I'm Reading Next
More Silver Spoon and rakugo, I dare say.

What I've Bought
…A lot of manga. Two more volumes of rakugo; all of Silver Spoon; the first of the Roman bath manga, vol. 10 of Ôoku, Billy Bat 1 (again; my copies of all of these are in the States); xxxHoLiC Rei 2. Also One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire, because somehow I never bought it in paper. Oh, and a copy of Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy for ¥200 at the little bookstore next to the conbini, because it is my policy to always buy books from The Women's Press.
starlady: The Welcome to Night Vale Logo, with clouds over the moon (welcome to night vale)
No lie, I tried to picture where Triskelion was when I went over the bridge on the Metro today. And I walked past Steve's apartment building again. ♥


What Have I Read
Dia Reeves, Bleeding Violet (2009) - So, while I know that this book was written several years before the debut of Welcome to Night Vale, believe me when I tell you that this book could be a novel set within its universe, or an AU of its universe. The story concerns a half-Finnish, half-African American girl, Hanna, who moves to her mother's town in East Texas even though she's never met her mother before and her mother doesn't want her there. Hanna has mental health problems, but it turns out that her experience with her own crazy may actually stand her in good stead in a town where things really do go bump in the night, and even in broad daylight. There's even a scary female Mayor, and doors around the town play a huge role in the story--yes, it's basically Night Vale. I loved Hanna, and her pragmatic approach to her own mental health problems, and in many ways I don't think I've seen a more unsentimental portrayal of mental illness in YA. Her being mixed race, and also her sexual appetites, are similarly portrayed. I loved Hanna, and the book is dark and gripping. If you like Night Vale, I suspect you'll like this book, and vice versa. Highly recommended.

Sarah Rees Brennan, Untold (2013) - Sequel to Unspoken, which I liked a lot, and I liked this one a lot too, although it does (albeit believably, since the characters are emphatically not rational adults) rely on the Misunderstanding trope for much of its emotional tugging at the old heartstrings. I still like all the characters; they are still, especially the protagonist Kami, quite funny, and the story is still interesting, although this is definitely something of a middle book and I'm very much looking forward to Unmade. (Yes, I did wait to read this one until I could read the final one, which just came out.) I do think SRB keeps getting better as a writer; I'm looking forward to what she does next.

Alaya Dawn Johnson, Moonshine (2010) - After loving The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, I wanted some more vampires done right, and this book fit the bill. I absolutely love Johnson's books, all of them, that I've read, and this was no exception, although it's written for adults (and, unlike Johnson's first books, the tone never wavers from that). The story concerns one Zephyr Hollis, the so called "vampire suffragette," a social reformer in a 1920s New York City populated by vampires and djinn as well as bootleggers and immigrants. I really love the 1920s setting for multiple reasons, not least being that we're in a Second Gilded Age, a Jazz Age without the Jazz (more's the pity), and I liked the book a lot. Zephyr is very much a modern woman, and for a while her almost maniacal zeal for social reform seems almost a caricature, until eventually things click into place like bullets in the chamber of a revolver and you realize that she's a killer who is fundamentally lying to herself about her own nature, even to the point of adopting vegetarianism. Her capacity for violence, unfortunately, is part of her and part of what allows her to do what she does; one wonders whether she'll ever be forced to reckon with it. I desperately want to read the sequel Wicked City, partly because the romance is left at a juncture not unlike some of the happenings in Untold (Zephyr, like Kami, is a pistol), but unfortunately it's not available in ebook and my copy is in storage. I shall just have to read Johnson's new YA novel Love Is the Drug in the meantime.

What Am I Reading
Buoyed upon the 1920s vim of Moonshine, I started Libba Bray's The Diviners on the plane immediately after finishing the first book. I love it terribly so far--Evie is a pistol too, and Memphis is swell--although I'm reading it with the trepidatious knowledge that the second book has been delayed for years (understandably) and Bray is currently dealing with depression, which of course is both wholly individual and also really difficult. Be that as it may, I really want these books to be the (a) great American historical fantasy epic that I've been waiting for my whole life, it feels like (and yes, these thoughts are emphatically partly due to getting back to my own New World pirate fantasy novel after eons)--it's the 1920s, it's New York, it's urban, it's got magic, it's American in all its painful complexity and darkness--and yes, Bray has gotten much better on the representation front, to my mind, after her first books in which people in Raj India are said to eat snakes (hint: no.) in the first scene and things go downhill from there. But so far The Diviners is the berries.

What Have I Acquired
My problem with the New York Review of Books Classics is that I want to read all of them. I went down to my alma mater on Monday to meet some of my old professors, and for reasons that shall remain unenumerated in public, I was in a weird and dark mood when I got back, the kind of mood to read something terrible and true, so I picked up a copy of A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 by Alistair Horne. Apparently it was a secret bestseller amongst the U.S. army officer corps eight years ago, and may well be again, given that another September has brought yet more American violence to the Middle East. I have my doubts about this kind of history, but we'll see.

What's Next
Who knows?
starlady: Mako's face in the jaeger, in profile (mako mori is awesome)
Wednesday is generally when you get the cheapest and emptiest flights (relatively speaking) and it's become my go-to travel day for that reason. But for once I am in California again, so it's time to talk about books.

Books Read
Kate Elliott, Shadow Gate (2008) and Traitor's Gate (2009) - Further comments forthcoming, but suffice it to say, I loved the whole Crossroads trilogy, and I highly recommend them to everyone looking to read more epic fantasy that pays due attention to female characters and to women's experiences. Also: GIANT JUSTICE EAGLES IJS

Helen Oyeyemi, Mr. Fox (2011) - I really enjoyed the other Oyeyemi book I read, White Is for Witching; I liked this one too, though (perhaps unsurprisingly since it's riffing on "Bluebeard") the themes of violence against women, against female characters, etc, felt a bit too close to reality. But in the end I really enjoyed the interplay between Daphne Fox, the titular Mr. Fox's wife, and Mary Foxe, his fourth wall-breaking muse; he doesn't deserve either of them, but that's how it goes. Oyeyemi is a wizard of prose, and I can't recommend her books enough.

Holly Black, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (2013) - I was talking to a friend of mine who bought and started reading this book the same time I did but stopped a bit of the way in because of vampire fatigue. Well, I finished it on the BART this evening and I am here to tell you, there's no question of vampire fatigue when someone reinvents the form as well as Black does here--I'd forgotten how a well-written feeding scene can be better than any sex scene outside of top-shelf fanfic, and more interesting besides. The main character's tenacity and general clear-headedness are refreshing, and the worldbuilding is very interesting. I really enjoyed it.

Currently Reading
Brit Mandelo, We Wuz Pushed - This is an Aqueduct Conversations piece about Joanna Russ. I'm quite liking it so far. It was Mandelo's master's thesis and it's really good.

Wendy Walker, Knots (2006) - Another Aqueduct Conversations book. I love Walker's prose. I need to try to get this book for my own; I'm borrowing it from a friend.

The rakugo manga - yes, I know

Book-Shaped Acquisitions Space
Andrea K. Höst's book Stray is free on amazon.com. Höst was recommended to me quite enthusiastically by a fellow Michelle West fan at Worldcon, and I'd been planning to buy some of her books in paper when I go to Australia next month. I expect interesting things!

Reading Next
These things are very difficult to predict. We'll see!
starlady: (bibliophile)
Books Read
Sofia Samatar, A Stranger in Olondria (2013) - I was talking to [personal profile] jhameia about this book, and about how the writing reminded me a lot of The Secret Service, and she said, "It's so sad." Which it is. And it's also, to my mind, much less about reading than other people had led me to believe. It's about travel, and being a traveler in a strange land, and yes about the power of books but also about how books aren't everything and about how they can and can't save you. It's melancholy and gorgeously written and wonderful, you should read it.

Yangsze Choo, The Ghost Bride (2013) - I enjoyed this book about a young woman who receives an offer to marry a dead man in turn of the C20th Malaya, although I am sympathetic to those reviews who complained that Choo's prose is somewhat more telling than showing at times, and the conceit that the narrator's father educated her sometimes stretches a bit thin in the face of facts about Malaya that she supplies the reader. But the narrator and her personality, and the vivid country of the dead to which she journeys, are more than enough to carry the story through. I am ambivalent about the ultimate denouement, but only because I saw someone else on DW compare the choice the protagonist faces to Aeryn's at the end of The Blue Sword. All that having been said, I really liked the book and very much will read Choo's future books.

Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (2013) - Being spoiled for the essential conceit of this book did not make it any less awesome in the reading; at times while I was on the train reading it I had to laugh out loud. I've never read any of Fowler's work before, but this was awesome, and well deserving of all success. The narrator and her perspective are a treasure.

Kate Elliott, Spirit Gate (2007) - I started reading this, the first in the Crossroads trilogy, because one of Elliott's forthcoming 2015 books is set in the same world many decades later. I did not regret it. There are GIANT JUSTICE EAGLES and also, with two notable exceptions, all of the men are at best incompetent and all the women are badass in different ways. The setting is also entirely Asian-inspired, and the entire cast POC. I'm already 1/4 of the way into the next book.

Zen Cho, Spirits Abroad (2014) - This book was published in Malaysia, and I arranged with the author to purchase a paper copy for Loncon. I read it on the plane to Turkey and loved every second of it; I've previously read and quite enjoyed Cho's romance novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo, but her short stories are also a true delight, particularly "Prudence and the Dragon" and "The Four Generations of Chang E" and…all of them, really. Many of Cho's characters speak Manglish, and having attended a few of the author's events at Worldcon, it was interesting to note bits of her personal experience reconfigured and reused throughout her work. I very much hope that her novel is picked up and published soon! 

Currently Reading
Kate Elliott, Shadow Gate (2008) - Second in the Crossroads trilogy. Has more of [spoilers] but also more of a character who I honestly wished had been killed at the end of the last book. I think I get the point of his plotline, but he's still damn annoying.

The rakugo manga - still

Book-shaped space for acquisitions
Various, Kaleidoscope (2014) - I downloaded my ecopy of this anthology, which I supported in Kickstarter, and can't wait to read it.
Hagio Moto & Komatsu Sakyo, Away vol. 1 (2014) - new manga by Hagio Moto from a Komatsu Sakyo story!!!!!

Reading next
I acquired an excellent badge ribbon emblazoned with the phrase "All power corrupts, but we need electricity" at Worldcon, which makes me want to read the book it's from, namely Diana Wynne Jones' Archer's Goon. Also probably Michelle Sagara, since I'm behind on the Cast books. Also Kameron Hurley because she won Hugos. Also Seanan McGuire because I am WAY behind on her books. Also…you get the picture.
starlady: (Rick Roll'd!)
Books Read
Catherynne Valente, Six-Gun Snow White (2013) - I really like Valente's work, and I liked this a lot; it's a feminist retelling of Snow White with a half-Crow protagonist, rather like Maleficent in that the central relationship is between the protagonist and her evil stepmother. It was too thin at some points, but quite a good read.

CLAMP, Drug & Drop vol 2 - I'm liking this restart of Legal Drug much more than that of xxxHoLiC so far, although it turns out it's a massive crossover with an older CLAMP series, leading to the immortal question, "If angels don't have gender, is this series still BL?" It totally is BL; I am very much down for Kazahaya and Rikuou clutching each other while in the grip of strong emotions. Yes, please, I'd like some more.

Reading
Kumota Haruko, Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu vol. 1 (2011) - The author is an up and coming BL writer, though I've just started this manga about an ex-con who wants to do Rakugo and I'm not sure whether it's BL yet. If not, there's always doujinshi.

Sofia Samatar, A Stranger in Olondria (2012) - Yes, still, I'm busy and exhausted, as good as it is. I was saying to [personal profile] jhameia it reminds me of The Secret Service, which I need to think more about why.

Book-Shaped Space for Acquisitions
Arakawa Hiromu, Silver Spoon vols. 4 & 5 (I got the special edition of 4 with the spoons!)
Suetsugu Yuki, Chihayafuru vol. 1
Vonda McIntyre, The Moon and the Sun
starlady: (bibliophile)
We're back and better than ever! Or at least, I'm reading for fun again for the first time since before my exams.

Just finished
Rachel Hartman, Seraphina (2012)
I really liked this YA novel about a girl caught between two worlds in conflict (humans and dragons, natch) in a for once believably plausibly medieval world, with much greater gender equality and non-stigmatized homosexuality, even. I was reminded of Frances Hardinge's Fly By Night in that respect, actually, which is very high praise indeed. I could barely put the book down, given how much I loved Phina, and sympathized with her struggles, and I think the book is also making some fairly sophisticated arguments about embodiment and what it means for who we are. The dragons were great too, and I'm looking forward to the sequel very much.

Michelle Sagara, Cast in Peril (2012)
I really enjoy the Cast books, even though I'm perpetually falling behind--the newest, Cast in Flame, is about to be published, and I still haven't read the one in between them. I was also thinking to myself while reading it that I really wished two characters would sleep together, and thinking that it would never happen, when it was explicitly discussed in text a few pages later (and rejected; I like that Sagara's characters often know and enforce their own boundaries). So there is indeed character development going on, and for a book that's all about a journey from Point A to Point B, it was surprisingly gripping. Anyway. If you like Sagara West's central protagonist type, you should totally check out the Cast books, since they really are Kaylin's story.

Frances Hardinge, A Face Like Glass (2012)
I think this is Hardinge's best book yet, at least of the ones that I've read. (I only have three left to read! Noooo! I've been trying to pace myself.) Neverfell isn't as brave as Mosca, and that makes her equally interesting in a different way, and the worldbuilding was spectacular. I can't recommend Hardinge's books highly enough to everyone, and I also want to say that I think that her books are a great example of art being found everywhere, even in denigrated categories such as middle grade.

N.K. Jemisin, The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun (2012)
I really liked both these books, though I thought that The Killing Moon stood better on its own, particularly since The Shadowed Sun was rather heavy in its subject matter at times. Everyone should read these books! Pseudo-Egyptian epic fantasy with interesting magic and an interesting and varied cast of characters and…ninja priests of death! All that being said, while I liked Hanani a lot, I didn't like the denouement to her story, or the ending of the book in general; I wanted more of the politics related to the resolution, and less of the personal. I also think that…how do I say this. Jemisin is clearly in conversation with certain romance novel tropes at times, and I'm not personally a romance fan; I also feel that giving female protagonists in fantasy novels romance novel endings feels conservative, even if it's actually not for the characters themselves. I'd rather see Jemisin give queer characters the romance novel endings; that would feel more revolutionary for me, and more satisfying. Also there should be another whole book about Nijiri; I found him annoying initially, but by the end he was my favorite character by a long shot.

N.K. Jemisin, The Kingdom of Gods (2011)
On the other hand, I really liked this conclusion to the Inheritance trilogy; I liked the politics, the magic, the godhood and its problems; I liked Sieh and his trio with the Arameri siblings. I actually mostly just wish it had been longer, really; Jemisin really managed to draw the threads of everything else that had come before together in a very satisfying way.

Sherwood Smith, Revenant Eve (2012)
I hadn't read the previous two books in this Dobrenica trilogy, but that turned out to be mostly okay as it's a time travel tale in which the viewpoint character isn't actually the protagonist, which is interesting structurally, and the book itself was a fun romp through largely under-explored back alleys of the Napoleonic period in France. I quite enjoy Smith's books, and this was very enjoyable. Awesome ladies with swords and pistols! What more could you want, I ask you.

Sherwood Smith, Banner of the Damned (2012)
That said, I enjoy Smith's epic fantasy sequence even more, and this is the next one in the main continuity, set about 800 years after the Inda books. I really, really liked that the main character was asexual (this may be the first book I've read where that was explicitly acknowledged as a thing, actually), and I liked the way that you could see glimpses of history changing and being retold in the background, even as by the ending of the book it became an explicit issue. I'm also really impressed in general at the way that Smith can make just about anything suspenseful, even things that rightly shouldn't be; her pacing is always a marvel. I also think she's a master worldbuilder who doesn't get anywhere near enough credit. Also highly recommended.

Currently reading
Alaya Dawn Johnson, The Burning City
Because I've been hearing a lot of buzz about Love Is the Drug on Twitter and I want to try to clear out the backlog. Currently I'm not very far in and I'm still trying to remember who everyone is (I've been consulting the pre-synopsis literally). I'm still really sad that there's currently no plans to finish the third volume, even as I both enjoy the book and recognize that it's weaker than her more recent books. Anyway, she's awesome, you should read everything she's ever written.

Recently acquired
CLAMP, Gate 7 vol. 4 (I don't think I finished 3?)
CLAMP, Gouhou Drug - Drug & Drop vol. 1
CLAMP, xxxHoLiC Rou vol. 1
Arakawa Hiromu, Silver Spoon vol. 10 (it was packaged with an ema from the shrine in the manga! I haven't even finished vol. 1)
Yoshimoto Banana, Kitchen
Short Stories in Japanese: New Penguin Parallel Text, ed. Michael Emmerich

Reading next
Probably Diana Wynne Jones or Kameron Hurley or Ann Leckie. Note to self: vote for the Hugos.
starlady: a circular well of books (well of books)
What I'm reading
Gregory Pflugfelder, Cartographies of Desire. I started this on the plane today--it's a history of male/male sexuality in Japan from 1650-1950, and it's very, very good. If this sounds like something you're interested in, you should totally read this book.

What I've just read
I finished Lost Burgundy, the final volume of Ash: A Secret History, by Mary Gentle on the plane this morning. It's really, really good. I knew it would be, but she totally stuck the landing, and sold me completely on the frankly weird premise by the end. I was even reminded, a very little bit, of Anathem. Highly recommended. (Sidenote: it says a lot that the only one of the contemporary academics I liked was Vaughn Davies.)

I also read Malinda Lo's Natural Selection on the plane--it was in my Kobo app, and I'd forgotten about it. It was short, but I liked it; it's a story about Amber that's a prequel to the Adaptation duology (though it won't make any sense without having read the first book), and it expanded on Amber's background in a way that I really enjoyed. Write more books, Malinda!

What I'll read next
I'm on the cusp of a really intense three months of reading, so I can't make any promises, but I did get the first volume of Revival at the Strand in New York last weekend, and I have a lot of other comics stockpiled. We'll see.

starlady: Raven on a MacBook (Default)
What I'm reading
I haven't the foggiest. No, I started reading The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Split the Moon in Two while I was bleaching my hair last week, so I'm definitely still reading that.

What I've just read
Technically this is a week and a half ago, but whatever: I took a three-hour vidding break to devour Kristin Cashore's Fire last Saturday night, and then I stayed up until 3am devouring Bitterblue. Fire is amazing and Bitterblue is stunning. A lot of people have told me that the book needed another round of editing, and I've seen a lot of reviews that say that nothing really happens in the book. I couldn't disagree more on both counts, and while I don't think it's perfect, I do think Bitterblue is an impressive achievement and that Cashore is clearly a phenomenally talented writer.

What I'll read next
Well, since I am going to finish my Yuletide story on the plane tomorrow, come hell or high water (one of these is significantly more likely than the other, given that I will be changing planes in Vegas), who knows really, but I do have the last volume of Mary Gentle's The Secret History, Lost Burgundy, to keep me occupied, as I want to finish the quartet before the end of the year.
starlady: (coraline)
What I've just read
Gullstruck Island | The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge. It's magnificent--like Megan Whalen Turner and some of Elizabeth Wein's books, Hardinge proves that middle grade is just as much literature as any "adult" novel. If you haven't read her books, GO NOW.

What I'm reading
I don't even know. Actually, yes I do, I still need to finish Ôoku volume 9.

What I'll read next
I have a bunch of comics lying around, partly because I found a $30 B&N gift card in my wallet the other week, so now I own volume 1 of Saga, which everyone tells me is amazing. I also have Captain Marvel vol. 2 but not vol. 1 because I wanted to use up the Amazon gift card I was given in one go because I hate Amazon. I need to get Captain Marvel vol. 1 and also the third of this year's Avatar comics. Maybe tomorrow, if I can finish my paper assignment in time.

starlady: a circular well of books (well of books)

*weeps with joy*

What I'm reading
Still reading Ôoku volume 9. My defense is that I haven't actually finished a book since the last day of September and "reading" this has been mostly not reading it. My previous comments still hold, but I am actually going to try to finish it soon, as I want to go to Japantown to get volume 10 in the near future. I also started reading Gullstruck Island by Frances Hardinge. I am only on page 44 but I love it already. No one is surprised. I'm also interested to note that it is very, very loosely based on Taiwan, in that it's about an island that had some tribal peoples on it that was then colonized by people from a more developed society on the mainland. The main character, Hathin, is from the last tribe that's mostly unassimilated.

What I've just read
I don't know. I've been reading a lot of random bits of things for my research papers. On that note, I want to give a shout-out to Karen Hellekson, whose book on alternate histories is way better than the articles about the same written by dudes. Quelle surprise.

What I'll read next
I have no idea. I really, really need to get in gear on the "sell books I'm not willing to pay $$ to store for a year and a half" plan, which is going to mess with the system I have going, such as it is, but good. But lately I've been really wanting to read The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, which I have on my shelf, and I'm also going to go out and buy all of Captain Marvel that I can get my hands on fairly soon, so we'll see.

starlady: a circular well of books (well of books)
What I'm reading
Erm…how does one define "reading"? I guess I'm still one chapter in to The Freedom Maze. Status quo antebellum on that, literally. (Har.)

What I've just read
I can actually answer this one! I read Professor Risley and the Imperial Japanese Troupe on the plane to Minneapolis on Thursday because of reasons. It's a superficial take on an interesting story, namely the New Jersey-born acrobat who wound up recruiting the most successful "circus" of Japanese entertainers and taking them on a world tour in 1866. There was way too much biographical detail and way too little analysis for my taste, but mind-bogglingly, the reviews I googled loved it. Much more happily, I bought Malinda Lo's Inheritance at the Booksmith before Welcome to Night Vale last Wednesday and read it on the plane on Monday and loved it. It's not quite as overtly The X-Files as Adaptation, because the biggest revelation of all dropped at the end of the first book, and I would happily have read another book filling in the time between the end of the action and the epilogue. But this is a daring, gutsy, smart YA SF novel, and I recommend both books to everyone.

What I'll read next
I have no idea. I would still like to read The Privilege of the Sword before Sirens, but the likelihood of that happening is slim. We'll see.

starlady: Abraham Lincoln, vampire hunter (alternate history)
What I'm reading
Well, I just started The Freedom Maze, and I expect it won't take me too long given how big the font is. I am only one chapter in so I have no real opinions so far. I am also about halfway through Ôoku volume 9. As much as the straightwashing in general and of the Tsunayoshi volumes in particular bothers me now, I think those ones (5 and 6) may have been the strongest in the series. Well, 7 is great too because Yoshimune. And the earlier ones are also great in their angst-fest way. I'll be fascinated to see how Yoshinaga handles Tokugawa Ienari. And I'm still kind of dreading the ultimate denouement. In the meantime, though, the Hiraga Gennai plotline looks like it's going to be heating up in volume 10.

What I've just read
In the continuing annals of "questionable but enjoyable life choices," I laid on the couch and devoured Rae Carson's The Bitter Kingdom in one sitting on Sunday night. I liked it quite a lot in the end! And on Saturday I laid on the couch and devoured The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal, the Kate Elliott/Julie Dillon collaboration that extends the story of the Spiritwalker trilogy as well as telling it, in highly abbreviated form, from Beatrice's point of view. Beatrice is a BAMF, the illustrations are gorgeous, and I quite enjoyed it. It's available from Crabtank as a print volume or as a PDF.

What I'll read next
Whatever I can. More seriously, I want to take Lost Burgundy on the road to Minneapolis with me next weekend. Other than that, I don't know. It's long past time for me to switch to reading academic books for my qualifying exam. More realistically, I will probably try to tackle The Privilege of the Sword before Sirens. And then who knows.
starlady: Cindi Mayweather running through Metropolis (i believe in the archandroid)
What I'm reading
Ôoku vol 9. I've gotten into the habit of saying stream-of-consciousness things about it on Twitter late at night, because I'm actually justifiably reading it for a class (it's a long story), and the upshot was that this allowed me to put a few things together that depressed me about the way it's erasing queer history. But it continues to be excellent in general, if not, perhaps, everything I wish it would be. Volume 9 starts in 1760 and focuses again on the efforts to understand the red-faced pox. Also, Hiraga Gennai is running around, which is quite interesting. More on Hiraga in my eventual post. Also, volume 10 is out at the end of next month!

What I've just read
Ôoku volume 8, which covers the end of Yoshimune's rule and the more or less abject failure of her daughter Ieshige. That's…basically it. The English translation will be published in a few weeks, apparently.

What I'll read next
There are many things I want to read, but what I will read is another question entirely. I need to give The Freedom Maze back by Sirens, so I might well read that next, if I have any spare time.
starlady: a circular well of books (well of books)
What I'm reading
I finally did start reading Ôoku volume 8. It comes out in English later this month and I am enjoying it so far. Looking at volume 9, which I also have, I very much doubt that the series is going to end at 10 volumes as was originally projected. I also started reading Constance Penney's NASA/Trek, which is enjoyable thus far but also in some respects rather badly dated, as it was first published in 1997 when people were still debating the funding authorizations for the ISS. She doesn't even call it the ISS in her text. (Morbidly, the lack of discussion of the Columbia disaster is felt keenly in her discussion of awful jokes post-the Challenger disaster.) The discussion of Star Trek also feels badly dated, in a "I feel horrible about the current state of a fandom that is part of how I structure my life" way, in the Reboot era. We shall see about the rest of it.

What I just read
A lot of things! I drank beer and read Chime by Franny Billingsley on the couch last Friday and it was really good! I really liked the protagonist, Briony, and the way her story played out; it was intense and moving. I also stayed up until 2:30 am on Monday finishing The Crown of Embers, the sequel to The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson. I loved that one too, though in the way of second books it is a bit less revelatory than the first. I'm looking forward to the next book, The Bitter Kingdom, which is out now.

What I'll read next
A short list of the books I want to read in the next month: Bleeding Violet, Black Wine, The Privilege of the Sword, The Freedom Maze, Ôoku volume 9, Lost Burgundy.
starlady: Ramona Flowers wearing her delivery goggles (ramona flowers is awesome)
What I'm reading
Well, technically nothing, because I stayed up finishing Darkest Light last night (technically this morning).

What I've just read
The aforementioned Darkest Light by Hiromi Goto. It was really intense! Like, super intense and vivid--the graphic descriptions of re-enacting murder and suicide were actually kind of tough to get through, and I'm sure that it would be triggering for some. But, by the time I got to the end, I really liked it. I was also reminded in a particular way of A Christmas Carol, in that Gee learns, late but in time, that it's never too late to change. It's only available in Canada, but if you can get your hands on a copy and you liked Half World, I would highly recommend it.

What I'll read next
I'm going to read Hawkeye: Little Hits tonight or tomorrow. I also am planning on reading the last of the Ash books shortly, though I might read some YA first (I have Chime and Bleeding Violet on the shelf) because it's easier on the brain. I'm also really tempted to finally read The Secret Country trilogy in honor of Cassie Clare. And as always I have a ton of borrowed books to get through. No more borrowing books, self! You don't have time for this!
starlady: a circular well of books (well of books)
Food poisoning: not fun in the extreme.

What I'm reading
I took Darkest Light to the courthouse yesterday (because while still suffering mildly from food poisoning I got called in for jury duty, JOY) but was too nauseous to read it, though when I went back home after I was dismissed and laid on the couch because of more nausea and then being feverish I started reading it. It's the half-sequel to Half World and it is quite good so far! Goto is such an intense and vivid writer. It's also the first time in an age that I've read a YA novel with a male protagonist.

What I've just read
Last Friday night I made the executive decision to lie on the couch and drink, with the result that I devoured both The Girl of Fire and Thorns and Graceling. OMG SO GOOD. SO GOOD. Some of the best YA I've read in years, and very much in the "heirs of Tamora Pierce" vein in the best possible way. I cannot wait to read the follow-ups to both of them, CANNOT.

What I'll read next
I need to start ramping up the academic reading in a big way, but along with that, definitely Ôoku vols. 8 and 9 and Black Wine.

starlady: Charles/Erik: "Are you ready for this?" "Let's find out." (we are together at last though far apart)
What I am reading
At the moment, I am in that glorious space of pure possibility in which I have not yet started a new book. Which is to say, nothing. This is partly because I have been writing again! XMFC WIPs, to be precise. It's very exciting.

What I've just read
I finished Celestial Matters on the AirBART home from OAK on Monday. I wound up enjoying it a lot, though I have several critiques which will go in the review. I also sat down Monday night and read Avatar: The Search Part Two, the next part of Gene Yang's Avatar comics. It was great, but it was very much a middle volume, and I want the final one, which is due in November, immediately.

I also read the first volume of X-Treme X-Men, the sadly cancelled recent comics series in which Dazzler, young!Kurt Waggoner, and James Howlett, former Governor-General of Canada, team up with Charles Xavier's severed head in a jar to pursue ten evil Charles Xaviers across the multiverse. Everyone but Dazzler is not from Earth-616, and it's a lot of fun and it doesn't require a lot of background comics knowledge. If you liked the series and you haven't read [archiveofourown.org profile] pocky_slash's two X-Treme X-Men fics, in battle, side-by-side, and Five Minutes, which is a remix of Unbind Me by [archiveofourown.org profile] heyjupiter, you totally should.

What I'll read next
I have most of X-Treme X-Men in single issues, so I will probably read those in preparation for the final paperback coming out eventually. (The second one is out next week. I can't decide whether I'm going to buy it or not.) I still need to read Ôoku, and I think I am going to read The Girl of Fire and Thorns next for the purposes of shelf-cleaning.

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starlady: Raven on a MacBook (Default)
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August 2017

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