starlady: Roy from FMA: "you say you want a revolution" (roy)
I'm up in Tochigi for a few days because of reasons, which has mostly been great so far. I got to see real mountains again, by which I apparently now mean "young, steep, not too high yet." Hopefully tomorrow we are going to an onsen, I could really use it.

What I'm Reading
Still Silver Spoon vol. 6, I know. But! I am confident that I will have it finished soon! It is great, I've just been sidetracked by other stuff. Namely…

What I've Just Read
Silver Spoon vol. 5 - enough said. 

The Hawkwood War by Ankaret Wells - The direct follow-up to The Maker's Mask, which I really enjoyed, and this was one was almost as good, which is to say, still excellent. As [personal profile] oyceter mentioned, I appreciated among many other things that there is such a variety of female characters doing and being very different things, and upon completion of the book, I really do stand by my assertion that on one level it's Dune but if the secret orders of ladies were doing interesting things instead.

The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson - It's winter now, and I like reading winter novels in winter, and you can't get more winter than Jansson. This novel, too, is definitely winter; Jansson could manage summer quite well when she put her mind to it too, of course. I'm not sure how much I have to add to what [personal profile] rushthatspeaks said about the book; except that the ending is perfect, and Anna and Katri are utterly believable, and it is a great novel.

The Fall of Ile-Rien by Martha Wells - Consisting of The Wizard Hunters, The Ships of Air, and The Gate of Gods. I'd had Wells on my radar for a while now, but after reading Kate Elliott's squee post about the trilogy recently I moved it to the top of my list. Much as she predicted, I got about halfway into the first one at a reasonable pace but then absolutely devoured the remaining 2.5 books. They are criminally unloved and Wells is criminally unknown in my book, and the only good thing about being finished with them is that I still have the rest of her backlist to work through.

The books are set (partly) in the eponymous Ile-Rien, an analog for early 20thC France which has sorcery coexisting with airships and automobiles and electricity, and which is losing the war against the sinister Gardier, badly. It falls to erstwhile playwright Tremaine Valiarde, not at all against her better judgment, to get mixed up in the last-ditch sorcerous war effort against the Gardier and to discover a whole bunch of things about magic, herself, and her own family while going at a breakneck pace to try to save her society. Not many spoilers, but some discussion of suicidality ) I am also totally glad for the setting, which we still need more of in fantasy--cities! modernity! the end to the false dichotomy between magic and science! I think the books' titles are clever but on a superficial level highly potentially misleading, and the paperback covers (still included in the ebooks) were terrible, so I urge people to look beyond those attributes and check them out. Luckily The Death of the Necromancer sounds like it should have at least some of what I loved about these books going for it, now that they're sadly finished.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carré - On the theme of "bloody-minded and ruthless," I immediately started reading this after The Fall of Ile-Rien, and not at all to my surprise, since I loved the recent movie with Gary Oldman and company, I devoured it in about twenty-four hours and loved it. It is in all senses of the word a perfect novel. Smiley is not as openly sarcastic as Tremaine, but he has his moments of acid wit, and the entire thing is a bitter, bloody delight.

What I'll Read Next
Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier - It is set in the 30s and it is violent, which is another way of saying that it is exactly what I have put myself in the mood for.

Also, probably, going to try to sneak in a few more potential Hugo nominees such as Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge.
starlady: (a sad tale's best)
Jansson, Tove. The Summer Book. Trans. Thomas Teal. New York: New York Review of Books, 2008. [1972]

I love Tove Jansson's works, particularly Moomintroll and the denizens of Moomin Valley, wholeheartedly. So I was very happy to find this short novel, written in the wake of Jansson's mother's death, on the bargain shelf in Penn Books in Philly.

The Summer Book is told through a series of vignettes about the young girl Sophia and her Grandmother and their life summering on an island in the Gulf of Finland, much like the island on which Jansson and her partner lived until 1991. There isn't really a plot, but there is an entire book's worth of marvelous, keenly observed detail about life on the island, and also, in Jansson's sideways profound way, a measured consideration of life, death, and the nature of family. Jansson's writing is intensely seasonal, and this book is too, not only seasons in nature but in human life. Really, really good.
starlady: (jack)
I only got about halfway through the vampire anthology By Blood We Live before I had to return it to the library, which says something about the level of interest the book created and sustained in me. John Joseph Adams definitely takes the "spaghetti at the wall" approach to anthologizing; the stories in this volume range over nearly 40 years and several continents, though as always I could have done with more stories by people not from Euro-American countries--I thought some of the best stories were those that came from outside those places. I'm also not a fan of the little spoilery introductions at the head of each story; I don't need an editor to tell me what to think about apiece in a cutesty tone. Also, despite the popularity of some authors, some of these stories are just bad, or indifferent, which to my mind is even worse than being actively bad.

Blood is like wine, all of the time... )

I also read M.T. Anderson's Whales on Stilts!, which I've been trying to track down since the spring and which is pretty funny. It's on the one hand a knowing pastiche of those sorts of children's entertainments, like Little Orphan Annie, of a certain era, but it's also an enjoyable story about ordinary girl Lily, who saves her state from invading whales on stilts with laser eyes, defeating her dad's evil boss Larry, with help from her friends Jasper Dash, boy technonaut, and Katie Mulligan, girl adventurer. I love Anderson, and have ever since I read the first half of his masterpiece Octavian Nothing, which is nearly mythic in its tone, scope, and subject. Whales on Stilts! is in all respects a much lesser effort, though it's very clever and very funny and Anderson's narratorial voice is quite amusing, somewhere between Lemony Snicket and pure snark. I wouldn't mind reading other volumes of M.T. Anderson's Thrilling Tales, but, despite the sheer awesome that is the title (and, for that matter, the cover), I'm not sure how long this book will remain on my shelves.

I was a bit disappointed in Tove Jansson's Moominsummer Madness, too. I loved Moomintroll Midwinter because it was so wintry and so intensely seasonal, but despite the fact that it has summer in the title, Madness is less about summer than about the travails of the Moomin family after a volcano floods Moominvalley and they are forced to tread the boards in the semi-abandoned theater in which they find refuge. It's a sweet book, of course, and very charming, but nowhere near as awesome as Midwinter, and since I involved the book in an epic coffee spill, I won't be able to pass it along the literary circle of life.

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