Books

Dec. 29th, 2007 03:41 pm
hawkwing_lb: (Criminal Minds JJ what you had to do)
Books 188-190, Nonfiction 11-12, Fiction 178:

Nonfiction 11-12.

11. Rachel Manija Brown, All The Fishes Come Home To Roost.

I can't remember who recommended this to me. I don't usually read autobiography, memoir, that kind of thing. But this one was definitely... interesting.

12. Rosalind Thomas, Literacy and Orality in Ancient Greece.

Published in 1990 as part of the Cambridge Key Themes in Ancient History series, it remains, so I'm informed, the most thorough examination of literacy, orality, and their intersection, in ancient Greece in print.

It's lucidly written and clearly organised, with chapters dealing with oral poetry, the arrival and use of writing in Greece, performance and memorial, and the use of writing by the state. It suffers from an understandable concentration on Athens and the use of writing there - the majority of our sources come from Athens, after all - but it's a very interesting and useful examination of a topic that has been subject to perhaps a surfeit of academic ideology.

The material making use of the evidence from Graeco-Roman Egypt, and the epilogue on the use of writing in Roman times, is also extremely interesting.

Thomas' work is at it's best when examining the intersection of literacy and 'orality'. If you are in any way interested in this topic, this is the book. Seriously. It's thorough, it's interesting, and it suffers somewhat less from the over-comma'd, contortionist style of academia than other writers I could name.

Fiction 178

178. Emily Gee, Thief With No Shadow.

Like Patricia Briggs' early work, only not quite as good.

WARNING: severe spoilers may follow.

This is an interesting book in a number of ways. Interesting for me, at least, because I can see the ways in which this is definitely a journeyman book, and thus I can use it as a learning tool.

It's romantic fantasy, and there's not a lot of (external) movement: it stays mostly in one place. The prose is workmanlike at best, choppy at worst, and the story suffers a lot from forced escalation*, and a little from obvious melodrama. Nevertheless, it manages to be entertaining.

The opening is in medias res, and it wouldn't have suffered for starting perhaps fifty pages earlier, with the main characters' (Melke and Bastian's) motivations more clearly fleshed out from the start.

In order to rescue her brother Hantje from salamanders, Melke has to steal a necklace from Bastian. Bastian, however, needs that necklace to break a curse on his family. The reader doesn't really learn this until the end of chapter four, and so I, at least, did some very annoyed muttering.

(Incidentally, we never do learn satisfactorily why Hantje decided to steal from the salamanders. The reason given near the end of the book is too little, too late.)

Bastian despises Melke, but needs her to steal the necklace back from the salamanders. Melke despises herself, and agrees to help - partially out of guilt, partially in order to get a healer (Bastian's sister) to help her brother. And so days pass.

The characterisation is somewhat uneven, and not very much happens while Hantje is ill. Bastian is unlikeable. Melke is a bit wet. The sister is Good. The brother is unconscious. And when we get to the exploits of derring-do, I was astounded by the reversal of character shown by the two major protagonists.

And, ah. The resolution? Is not so believeable. The reader is expected to believe that the two men - individually - can survive what amounts to rape, and go on back to normal with a bit of self-affirmation and a good talking-to. (And teh Love of a Good Woman, of course. Bleh.)

All the ends tied up neatly with bows. No lasting suffering, or scars.

So I have learned something about tension, characterisation, pacing, and emotionally satisfying resolutions. So I can't consider that a waste of time.


*When I say forced escalation - some writers make the tension within the story seem natural. Here, at least intially, that escalation is very obviously an authorial device.

Books

Dec. 29th, 2007 03:41 pm
hawkwing_lb: (Criminal Minds JJ what you had to do)
Books 188-190, Nonfiction 11-12, Fiction 178:

Nonfiction 11-12.

11. Rachel Manija Brown, All The Fishes Come Home To Roost.

I can't remember who recommended this to me. I don't usually read autobiography, memoir, that kind of thing. But this one was definitely... interesting.

12. Rosalind Thomas, Literacy and Orality in Ancient Greece.

Published in 1990 as part of the Cambridge Key Themes in Ancient History series, it remains, so I'm informed, the most thorough examination of literacy, orality, and their intersection, in ancient Greece in print.

It's lucidly written and clearly organised, with chapters dealing with oral poetry, the arrival and use of writing in Greece, performance and memorial, and the use of writing by the state. It suffers from an understandable concentration on Athens and the use of writing there - the majority of our sources come from Athens, after all - but it's a very interesting and useful examination of a topic that has been subject to perhaps a surfeit of academic ideology.

The material making use of the evidence from Graeco-Roman Egypt, and the epilogue on the use of writing in Roman times, is also extremely interesting.

Thomas' work is at it's best when examining the intersection of literacy and 'orality'. If you are in any way interested in this topic, this is the book. Seriously. It's thorough, it's interesting, and it suffers somewhat less from the over-comma'd, contortionist style of academia than other writers I could name.

Fiction 178

178. Emily Gee, Thief With No Shadow.

Like Patricia Briggs' early work, only not quite as good.

WARNING: severe spoilers may follow.

This is an interesting book in a number of ways. Interesting for me, at least, because I can see the ways in which this is definitely a journeyman book, and thus I can use it as a learning tool.

It's romantic fantasy, and there's not a lot of (external) movement: it stays mostly in one place. The prose is workmanlike at best, choppy at worst, and the story suffers a lot from forced escalation*, and a little from obvious melodrama. Nevertheless, it manages to be entertaining.

The opening is in medias res, and it wouldn't have suffered for starting perhaps fifty pages earlier, with the main characters' (Melke and Bastian's) motivations more clearly fleshed out from the start.

In order to rescue her brother Hantje from salamanders, Melke has to steal a necklace from Bastian. Bastian, however, needs that necklace to break a curse on his family. The reader doesn't really learn this until the end of chapter four, and so I, at least, did some very annoyed muttering.

(Incidentally, we never do learn satisfactorily why Hantje decided to steal from the salamanders. The reason given near the end of the book is too little, too late.)

Bastian despises Melke, but needs her to steal the necklace back from the salamanders. Melke despises herself, and agrees to help - partially out of guilt, partially in order to get a healer (Bastian's sister) to help her brother. And so days pass.

The characterisation is somewhat uneven, and not very much happens while Hantje is ill. Bastian is unlikeable. Melke is a bit wet. The sister is Good. The brother is unconscious. And when we get to the exploits of derring-do, I was astounded by the reversal of character shown by the two major protagonists.

And, ah. The resolution? Is not so believeable. The reader is expected to believe that the two men - individually - can survive what amounts to rape, and go on back to normal with a bit of self-affirmation and a good talking-to. (And teh Love of a Good Woman, of course. Bleh.)

All the ends tied up neatly with bows. No lasting suffering, or scars.

So I have learned something about tension, characterisation, pacing, and emotionally satisfying resolutions. So I can't consider that a waste of time.


*When I say forced escalation - some writers make the tension within the story seem natural. Here, at least intially, that escalation is very obviously an authorial device.
hawkwing_lb: (Prentiss disguised in Arthur's hall)
Book 187, Fiction 177

177. Elizabeth Bear, Dust.

I haven't had this much fun reading a book in forever.

Perceval is a maimed knight. Rien is her sister, a princess raised as an orphan servant. The world they live in is a dying ship, trapped beside an unstable star, inhabited by warring peoples in broken habitats and the broken fragments of struggling angels. And the fate of the world depends on them.

...Which is a simplification, of course. But with Bear's books it's always more complex than that. This one's part quest, part thriller, part coming-of-age. It's tragic and funny and ruthless and gentle all at once, peopled with real, complex people and more Cool Shit (tm) than you can shake a stick at. (There is a basilisk. And an angel of intership communication. And an angel of life support services. And a library of trees.)

And the only way out is through.

And the ending is so entirely, heartbreakingly, utterly right, it made me want to laugh with glee and cry, all at once.

Like most of Bear's books, it got me right where I lived.

I'm noticing what seems to be a theme, though. (Besides the broken people making the best out of their wounds, of which if you ask me? Fiction could do with a good few more.) But either the pattern-recognition part of my brain is going overtime, or one of the threads that link Bear's books together is, to borrow someone else's words, that the only thing worse than a battle lost is a battle won. No one comes out unchanged, and even 'victory' isn't pretty.

Also, fallen angels, man. I think I could point to a fallen angel or two (for certain values of 'angel' and certain values of 'fallen') in every one of her books I've read.

Which is good, because I think I've something of an angel kink, for fiction.

...And after the digressions are over: great book. My favourite this year, and in the few days left, I don't think that's going to change.

[livejournal.com profile] matociquala? Thanks. I didn't know how much I wanted to read a book like this, until I did. :)
hawkwing_lb: (Prentiss disguised in Arthur's hall)
Book 187, Fiction 177

177. Elizabeth Bear, Dust.

I haven't had this much fun reading a book in forever.

Perceval is a maimed knight. Rien is her sister, a princess raised as an orphan servant. The world they live in is a dying ship, trapped beside an unstable star, inhabited by warring peoples in broken habitats and the broken fragments of struggling angels. And the fate of the world depends on them.

...Which is a simplification, of course. But with Bear's books it's always more complex than that. This one's part quest, part thriller, part coming-of-age. It's tragic and funny and ruthless and gentle all at once, peopled with real, complex people and more Cool Shit (tm) than you can shake a stick at. (There is a basilisk. And an angel of intership communication. And an angel of life support services. And a library of trees.)

And the only way out is through.

And the ending is so entirely, heartbreakingly, utterly right, it made me want to laugh with glee and cry, all at once.

Like most of Bear's books, it got me right where I lived.

I'm noticing what seems to be a theme, though. (Besides the broken people making the best out of their wounds, of which if you ask me? Fiction could do with a good few more.) But either the pattern-recognition part of my brain is going overtime, or one of the threads that link Bear's books together is, to borrow someone else's words, that the only thing worse than a battle lost is a battle won. No one comes out unchanged, and even 'victory' isn't pretty.

Also, fallen angels, man. I think I could point to a fallen angel or two (for certain values of 'angel' and certain values of 'fallen') in every one of her books I've read.

Which is good, because I think I've something of an angel kink, for fiction.

...And after the digressions are over: great book. My favourite this year, and in the few days left, I don't think that's going to change.

[livejournal.com profile] matociquala? Thanks. I didn't know how much I wanted to read a book like this, until I did. :)
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
This is a bit of a catch-up post, you see. I haven't had a book!post since way back in November, and I've managed to finish a good few since then.

Books 174-186, Fiction 164-176:

164-165. Julie E. Czerneda, Ties of Power and To Trade the Stars.

Ties of Power is... meh. Too much running to-and-fro, not enough real stuff happening. I wasn't quite bored enough to toss it, but I skimmed a lot, and it was a close-run thing.

To Trade the Stars, on the other hand, manages to be reasonably interesting. But after Ties of Power, I didn't have very high expectations.

166. Tamora Pierce, The Woman Who Rides Like A Man.

Found unbelievably cheap, and bought it to re-read. The same rollicking (I do not get to use that word enough) YA ride you can generally rely on Tamora Pierce to provide.

167-168. Philip Pullman, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.

I dug out my copy of The Subtle Knife* after seeing the film version of Northern Lights. When I read it for the first time, at the age of eleven, it disturbed the shit out of me, because the one thing the His Dark Materials trilogy isn't, is comforting reading.

So I read The Subtle Knife, and once it settled down to get going, it blew me away.

Then I went looking for The Amber Spyglass.

That's not a comforting book, either. But it's worthwhile, and while the ending isn't happy, it means something. Love doesn't always find a way. Victory never comes without cost. And every individual is responsible for making the world better, every day.

Good book.

169. Naomi Novik, Empire of Ivory.

Speaking of good books. I didn't expect this one to be: I soldiered through Black Powder War but didn't love it. But this one? Well, there's the travelogue, and Temeraire, and a very, very interesting twist at the end of it. I eagerly await more.

170. Tanya Huff, The Heart of Valor.

I really like the Valor books. They're space opera, fun, fast, and clever. This one doesn't disappoint.

171. Kathy Lynn Emerson, Face Down O'er the Border.

Elizabethan murder mystery. Fun, interesting, and with compelling characters.

172. Linnea Sinclair, The Down Home Zombie Blues.

Science fictional zombies in Florida. With human-like aliens who fight them. Pretty good stuff, all in all, provided the occasional Star Trek homage doesn't grate.

173. Merry Shannon, Sword of the Guardian.

This one deserves perhaps a little more time spent on it. It's a good book, battles, peril, women dressed as men, revelation and counter-revelation... provided one accepts the occasional leaps of illogic and awkward transitioning required to get from point A to point B.

That said, I understand it's a debut novel, so perhaps the occasional awkward transition and leap of illogic is to be expected.

174. Kristine Smith, Endgame.

The last of the Jani Kilian books. This book? Is an excellent conclusion to the series. Great reading.

175-176. Jennifer Roberson, Lady of the Forest and Lady of Sherwood.

Two novels - romances, I suppose - dealing with the Matter of Sherwood, largely from the perspective of Marian. The historical scene-setting feels nice and authentic, and the characters are well-drawn and interesting. That said, the story in each book feels unfinished, and I find romances fundamentally unsatisfying, at best. But good books, still.

#

Well, that's me up to date. I wonder, will I hit 200 books by January 1? It doesn't look likely, but then again, always possible.


*I tend not to get rid of books. Unless I really dislike them. Or they look at me funny. Or I know someone who really needs to read them.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
This is a bit of a catch-up post, you see. I haven't had a book!post since way back in November, and I've managed to finish a good few since then.

Books 174-186, Fiction 164-176:

164-165. Julie E. Czerneda, Ties of Power and To Trade the Stars.

Ties of Power is... meh. Too much running to-and-fro, not enough real stuff happening. I wasn't quite bored enough to toss it, but I skimmed a lot, and it was a close-run thing.

To Trade the Stars, on the other hand, manages to be reasonably interesting. But after Ties of Power, I didn't have very high expectations.

166. Tamora Pierce, The Woman Who Rides Like A Man.

Found unbelievably cheap, and bought it to re-read. The same rollicking (I do not get to use that word enough) YA ride you can generally rely on Tamora Pierce to provide.

167-168. Philip Pullman, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.

I dug out my copy of The Subtle Knife* after seeing the film version of Northern Lights. When I read it for the first time, at the age of eleven, it disturbed the shit out of me, because the one thing the His Dark Materials trilogy isn't, is comforting reading.

So I read The Subtle Knife, and once it settled down to get going, it blew me away.

Then I went looking for The Amber Spyglass.

That's not a comforting book, either. But it's worthwhile, and while the ending isn't happy, it means something. Love doesn't always find a way. Victory never comes without cost. And every individual is responsible for making the world better, every day.

Good book.

169. Naomi Novik, Empire of Ivory.

Speaking of good books. I didn't expect this one to be: I soldiered through Black Powder War but didn't love it. But this one? Well, there's the travelogue, and Temeraire, and a very, very interesting twist at the end of it. I eagerly await more.

170. Tanya Huff, The Heart of Valor.

I really like the Valor books. They're space opera, fun, fast, and clever. This one doesn't disappoint.

171. Kathy Lynn Emerson, Face Down O'er the Border.

Elizabethan murder mystery. Fun, interesting, and with compelling characters.

172. Linnea Sinclair, The Down Home Zombie Blues.

Science fictional zombies in Florida. With human-like aliens who fight them. Pretty good stuff, all in all, provided the occasional Star Trek homage doesn't grate.

173. Merry Shannon, Sword of the Guardian.

This one deserves perhaps a little more time spent on it. It's a good book, battles, peril, women dressed as men, revelation and counter-revelation... provided one accepts the occasional leaps of illogic and awkward transitioning required to get from point A to point B.

That said, I understand it's a debut novel, so perhaps the occasional awkward transition and leap of illogic is to be expected.

174. Kristine Smith, Endgame.

The last of the Jani Kilian books. This book? Is an excellent conclusion to the series. Great reading.

175-176. Jennifer Roberson, Lady of the Forest and Lady of Sherwood.

Two novels - romances, I suppose - dealing with the Matter of Sherwood, largely from the perspective of Marian. The historical scene-setting feels nice and authentic, and the characters are well-drawn and interesting. That said, the story in each book feels unfinished, and I find romances fundamentally unsatisfying, at best. But good books, still.

#

Well, that's me up to date. I wonder, will I hit 200 books by January 1? It doesn't look likely, but then again, always possible.


*I tend not to get rid of books. Unless I really dislike them. Or they look at me funny. Or I know someone who really needs to read them.
hawkwing_lb: (Prentiss disguised in Arthur's hall)
Books 172-173, Fiction 162-163:

162, 163. Seraphs and Host, Faith Hunter.

Second and third book after Bloodring. They're good, but they don't give me the same kind of narrative squeefulness as the first book.

Not that I have any objections to ramping up the tension, but after you've fought the devil itself in book three, the only thing left is to assail the gates of heaven. And there's only so much victory over impossible odds I'm prepared to believe in before my suspension-of-disbelief muscles get a bit strained.



Falling off walls is fun. Today, I had a lesson! in how to climb, make safe, and belay. I now have burgeoning blisters on all my fingers from feeding the rope through the device. But I also made it to the top of the easy wall and halfway up the second easiest, so it's all good.



Criminal Minds 3.09, 'Penelope', takes the biscuit as the best episode of the season so far.

Cut for warbling about favourite episodes )

Now maybe I should go do something productive with my evening?
hawkwing_lb: (Prentiss disguised in Arthur's hall)
Books 172-173, Fiction 162-163:

162, 163. Seraphs and Host, Faith Hunter.

Second and third book after Bloodring. They're good, but they don't give me the same kind of narrative squeefulness as the first book.

Not that I have any objections to ramping up the tension, but after you've fought the devil itself in book three, the only thing left is to assail the gates of heaven. And there's only so much victory over impossible odds I'm prepared to believe in before my suspension-of-disbelief muscles get a bit strained.



Falling off walls is fun. Today, I had a lesson! in how to climb, make safe, and belay. I now have burgeoning blisters on all my fingers from feeding the rope through the device. But I also made it to the top of the easy wall and halfway up the second easiest, so it's all good.



Criminal Minds 3.09, 'Penelope', takes the biscuit as the best episode of the season so far.

Cut for warbling about favourite episodes )

Now maybe I should go do something productive with my evening?

Books

Nov. 19th, 2007 07:30 pm
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 169-171, Fiction 159-161:

159. Thin Air, Rachel Caine.

Sixth book in the Weather Warden series. Not especially deep, but fast-paced fun nonetheless.

160. The Devil's Right Hand, Lilith Saintcrow.

Third book in the Dante Valentine series. The previous two stood alone quite comfortably. This one doesn't: just enough happens to get the story rolling along, but there's no real conclusion.

Which is not to say it's a bad book. But I'd like to have had some warning, that's all.

(And I'm not entirely sold on the whole relationship arc. It seems to be hitting some of my emotional squick buttons.)

161. Ha'penny, Jo Walton.

Set a couple of weeks after the events of Farthing. It is a good book. An excellent book, in fact, and in addition to working amazingly well on a thriller/mystery level, it deals with tyranny and the ubiquity thereof and complicity therein, and the problem of the Great Man theory of history. (Referred to explicitly in the text.)

Viola Lark and Detective Inspector Carmichael are compelling characters, too.

...hm. Perhaps I should write up a more complete review and submit it to the college paper. Deadline's not til Wednesday.


And I've had about as much time off as I can expect to get away with until the end of term. Expect the usual round of whingeing about essays, college reading, and such, to recommence post haste.

Books

Nov. 19th, 2007 07:30 pm
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 169-171, Fiction 159-161:

159. Thin Air, Rachel Caine.

Sixth book in the Weather Warden series. Not especially deep, but fast-paced fun nonetheless.

160. The Devil's Right Hand, Lilith Saintcrow.

Third book in the Dante Valentine series. The previous two stood alone quite comfortably. This one doesn't: just enough happens to get the story rolling along, but there's no real conclusion.

Which is not to say it's a bad book. But I'd like to have had some warning, that's all.

(And I'm not entirely sold on the whole relationship arc. It seems to be hitting some of my emotional squick buttons.)

161. Ha'penny, Jo Walton.

Set a couple of weeks after the events of Farthing. It is a good book. An excellent book, in fact, and in addition to working amazingly well on a thriller/mystery level, it deals with tyranny and the ubiquity thereof and complicity therein, and the problem of the Great Man theory of history. (Referred to explicitly in the text.)

Viola Lark and Detective Inspector Carmichael are compelling characters, too.

...hm. Perhaps I should write up a more complete review and submit it to the college paper. Deadline's not til Wednesday.


And I've had about as much time off as I can expect to get away with until the end of term. Expect the usual round of whingeing about essays, college reading, and such, to recommence post haste.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Book 168, Fiction 158:

158. Not Flesh Nor Feathers, Cherie Priest.

The third Eden Moore book. This one has floods and zombies. Eerie, atmospheric, and damp are all words that apply. It's pretty cool. I liked it a lot.

Blowing up tunnels with fireworks to stop zombies coming through? I mean, come on, how much more cool can you get?


And now, books I have stopped reading half-way through:

Ally, Karen Traviss.

There is only so much banging on the same damn drum a body can take.

Heart of Stone, C.E. Murphy.

The first book in a new series, and I am sorely disappointed. Sorely. I had expectations of so much more. But there is no tension here, no narrative drive: there is, so far, no hint of any real cost for the heroine, and we all know that no matter how many stupid risks said heroine takes, she's going to make it to the end in one piece.

I am So. Damned. Fed. Up. with the heroine who takes stupid risks and doesn't pay an appropriate price. And aside from that, characters who take stupid risks and do good for the sake of doing it just because they're made that way stopped being interesting for me a long time ago.

The gargoyle? Is flat. The cop? Is boring, frankly, as is the heroine. And halfway in I just can't see why I should be bothered to care.

I don't doubt it'll find its audience, but this really isn't my type of book.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Book 168, Fiction 158:

158. Not Flesh Nor Feathers, Cherie Priest.

The third Eden Moore book. This one has floods and zombies. Eerie, atmospheric, and damp are all words that apply. It's pretty cool. I liked it a lot.

Blowing up tunnels with fireworks to stop zombies coming through? I mean, come on, how much more cool can you get?


And now, books I have stopped reading half-way through:

Ally, Karen Traviss.

There is only so much banging on the same damn drum a body can take.

Heart of Stone, C.E. Murphy.

The first book in a new series, and I am sorely disappointed. Sorely. I had expectations of so much more. But there is no tension here, no narrative drive: there is, so far, no hint of any real cost for the heroine, and we all know that no matter how many stupid risks said heroine takes, she's going to make it to the end in one piece.

I am So. Damned. Fed. Up. with the heroine who takes stupid risks and doesn't pay an appropriate price. And aside from that, characters who take stupid risks and do good for the sake of doing it just because they're made that way stopped being interesting for me a long time ago.

The gargoyle? Is flat. The cop? Is boring, frankly, as is the heroine. And halfway in I just can't see why I should be bothered to care.

I don't doubt it'll find its audience, but this really isn't my type of book.
hawkwing_lb: (Criminal Minds JJ what you had to do)
Book 167, Fiction 157:

157. The Bone Key: The Necromantic Mysteries of Kyle Murchison Booth, Sarah Monette.

The Bone Key is a collection of short stories which have as their narrator one Mr. Kyle Murchison Booth, an archivist at the Samuel Mather Parrington Museum with an unfortunate sensitivity to the supernatural.

The stories, as Monette points out in the introduction, owe a debt to Lovecraft and M.R. James, but I'm embarrassed to admit it took me some time to work out that they had to be set in some kind of 1920s/1930s milieu. They range in quality from the merely good to the utterly excellent.

'The Venebretti Necklace', 'Wait For Me' and 'The Wall of Clouds' are perhaps the best three of the collection. In 'The Venebretti Necklace', Booth discovers a skeleton behind a wall in the basement of a museum, and the old scandal of a lost necklace and a missing woman. 'Wait For Me' is the chilling tale of a haunting, and 'The Wall of Clouds' finds Booth in a convalescent hotel where two chatty old ladies are older and odder than they seem, and strange and inexplicable things occur.

Booth himself is an interesting protagonist. He's painfully shy, even withdrawn, and dedicated to his work; nevertheless, in stories such as 'Elegy for a Demon Lover' and 'The Green Glass Paperweight' we catch flashes of a more complex picture, and I, for one, hope to see more of Kyle Murchison Booth in the future.

Altogether recommended.


Were it not for the fact the sky turned a slightly brighter shade of pallid grey around noon, I would readily believe the sun failed to rise today. It is dark. And wet. And has been so all day.

I hate wet winters.
hawkwing_lb: (Criminal Minds JJ what you had to do)
Book 167, Fiction 157:

157. The Bone Key: The Necromantic Mysteries of Kyle Murchison Booth, Sarah Monette.

The Bone Key is a collection of short stories which have as their narrator one Mr. Kyle Murchison Booth, an archivist at the Samuel Mather Parrington Museum with an unfortunate sensitivity to the supernatural.

The stories, as Monette points out in the introduction, owe a debt to Lovecraft and M.R. James, but I'm embarrassed to admit it took me some time to work out that they had to be set in some kind of 1920s/1930s milieu. They range in quality from the merely good to the utterly excellent.

'The Venebretti Necklace', 'Wait For Me' and 'The Wall of Clouds' are perhaps the best three of the collection. In 'The Venebretti Necklace', Booth discovers a skeleton behind a wall in the basement of a museum, and the old scandal of a lost necklace and a missing woman. 'Wait For Me' is the chilling tale of a haunting, and 'The Wall of Clouds' finds Booth in a convalescent hotel where two chatty old ladies are older and odder than they seem, and strange and inexplicable things occur.

Booth himself is an interesting protagonist. He's painfully shy, even withdrawn, and dedicated to his work; nevertheless, in stories such as 'Elegy for a Demon Lover' and 'The Green Glass Paperweight' we catch flashes of a more complex picture, and I, for one, hope to see more of Kyle Murchison Booth in the future.

Altogether recommended.


Were it not for the fact the sky turned a slightly brighter shade of pallid grey around noon, I would readily believe the sun failed to rise today. It is dark. And wet. And has been so all day.

I hate wet winters.

Books

Nov. 12th, 2007 06:19 pm
hawkwing_lb: (Prentiss disguised in Arthur's hall)
Books 161-165, Fiction 152-155, Non-Fiction 10.

Fiction:

152-154. Mike Shepherd, Kris Longknife: Defiant, Kris Longknife: Resolute, Kris Longknife: Audacious.

Like really cheap tasty chocolate. Except in book form. Space opera. Fun.

155. Laurell K. Hamilton, A Lick of Frost.

I know what you're thinking. But my patience is paying off. There are only about three or four superfluous sex scenes in this novel (maybe five or six? I do not keep track), and they're getting shorter. At the same time, the politics and the actual relationship shit is getting more interesting. It's not a bad book, by half.

Non-Fiction:

10. Sarah B. Pomeroy, Spartan Women.

Clear, lucid, engaging academic treatise on the evidence relating to Spartan women, and its interpretations. With footnotes. Lots of lovely footnotes and discussion.

I cannot praise her enough.

Books

Nov. 12th, 2007 06:19 pm
hawkwing_lb: (Prentiss disguised in Arthur's hall)
Books 161-165, Fiction 152-155, Non-Fiction 10.

Fiction:

152-154. Mike Shepherd, Kris Longknife: Defiant, Kris Longknife: Resolute, Kris Longknife: Audacious.

Like really cheap tasty chocolate. Except in book form. Space opera. Fun.

155. Laurell K. Hamilton, A Lick of Frost.

I know what you're thinking. But my patience is paying off. There are only about three or four superfluous sex scenes in this novel (maybe five or six? I do not keep track), and they're getting shorter. At the same time, the politics and the actual relationship shit is getting more interesting. It's not a bad book, by half.

Non-Fiction:

10. Sarah B. Pomeroy, Spartan Women.

Clear, lucid, engaging academic treatise on the evidence relating to Spartan women, and its interpretations. With footnotes. Lots of lovely footnotes and discussion.

I cannot praise her enough.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 159-160, Fiction 150-151:

150. A Companion to Wolves, Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette.

Wow.

I will say this again: wow.

There is so much in this book I don't know where to begin. [livejournal.com profile] matociquala's books - especially her fantasy - always leave me lost for breath and lacking words. [livejournal.com profile] truepenny isn't far behind. What they've done together...

It's as sharp and as icy and as brutal as the Norse mythos in which it feels so very firmly rooted. It's a coming of age novel, but not in the usual way. It's a novel about losing innocence and finding something more. It's violent, and bloody, and very, very, compassionately human.

Read this book.

Seriously.

151. Black Sun Rising, C.S. Friedman.

Dense, complex, thinky book that straddles the line between science fiction and fantasy and does it well. It's the first book of a trilogy, and I'm certainly tempted to read the next, though I found Black Sun Rising to be somewhat fatiguing in its density.

But. Maybe I should read some of these other books first? The ones that have been sitting on my shelf for months and months...


Okay, having watched the first two episodes of the original Mission: Impossible, I may be developing a fondness. Despite the utter, utter ridiculousness of the acting, plot, and setting (Russian prisons do not have giant windows! The Soviet Union might have been sprawlingly corrupt, inefficient, and in certain aspects even evil, but individuals were not all incompetent, evil or stupid!), and certain cultural artefacts that do not please, I fear I am... interested. Perhaps even compelled.

I have the weakness for the caper and the ticking clock.


It's autumn at last. No wonder I keep wanting to curl up and hibernate.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 159-160, Fiction 150-151:

150. A Companion to Wolves, Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette.

Wow.

I will say this again: wow.

There is so much in this book I don't know where to begin. [livejournal.com profile] matociquala's books - especially her fantasy - always leave me lost for breath and lacking words. [livejournal.com profile] truepenny isn't far behind. What they've done together...

It's as sharp and as icy and as brutal as the Norse mythos in which it feels so very firmly rooted. It's a coming of age novel, but not in the usual way. It's a novel about losing innocence and finding something more. It's violent, and bloody, and very, very, compassionately human.

Read this book.

Seriously.

151. Black Sun Rising, C.S. Friedman.

Dense, complex, thinky book that straddles the line between science fiction and fantasy and does it well. It's the first book of a trilogy, and I'm certainly tempted to read the next, though I found Black Sun Rising to be somewhat fatiguing in its density.

But. Maybe I should read some of these other books first? The ones that have been sitting on my shelf for months and months...


Okay, having watched the first two episodes of the original Mission: Impossible, I may be developing a fondness. Despite the utter, utter ridiculousness of the acting, plot, and setting (Russian prisons do not have giant windows! The Soviet Union might have been sprawlingly corrupt, inefficient, and in certain aspects even evil, but individuals were not all incompetent, evil or stupid!), and certain cultural artefacts that do not please, I fear I am... interested. Perhaps even compelled.

I have the weakness for the caper and the ticking clock.


It's autumn at last. No wonder I keep wanting to curl up and hibernate.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Book 158, Nonfiction 8:

8. Paul Cartledge, The Spartans: An Epic History

Where are my footnotes, damnit? Endnotes referencing sources without further discussion just don't cut it.

Cartledge is a noted specialist on Sparta and the Spartans, and thus I must conclude that this book is designed for the general, as opposed to the scholarly, audience. While it gives a solid overview of Spartan history (and the Spartan mythos) from archaic on down to more modern times, it doesn't contain the kind of juicy academic discussion I was hoping for.

Cartledge presents a chronological progression of Spartan history, interspersed with spare 'biographies' of known and/or important figures therein. The ones of Demaratus and Gorgo are perhaps the most interesting of these. Also interesting is the Appendix, which discusses the ancient Greek approach to hunting in light of the apologetics for (now-outlawed) fox-hunting in the UK.

Epic, this book is not.

He's perhaps a little too in love with the Spartan mirage, and never presents a detailed critique of any single period in Lacedaimonian history. (A couple of times, it almost seems as though he's finally going to get his teeth in and shake, but no joy.)

That said, it's a decent introduction to Sparta and Sparta's peculiar place in Greek history and modern myth.

My next history-for-fun read is Sarah Pomeroy (and I'm growing a chaste academic crush on that professor and all her works), Spartan Women, so it should make an interesting comparison.



So, I'm probably going to WFC 2008. Am I better off flying Dublin-London-Calgary, or should I fly Dublin-Toronto and either connect, or entrain, to get to the right place at the right time?

(I figure on flying out of Dublin on a Wednesday evening, and returning overnight on the following Tuesday. But my experience with long-haul international travel with connecting flights is rather limited. Thus, the request for advice. :) )
hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Book 158, Nonfiction 8:

8. Paul Cartledge, The Spartans: An Epic History

Where are my footnotes, damnit? Endnotes referencing sources without further discussion just don't cut it.

Cartledge is a noted specialist on Sparta and the Spartans, and thus I must conclude that this book is designed for the general, as opposed to the scholarly, audience. While it gives a solid overview of Spartan history (and the Spartan mythos) from archaic on down to more modern times, it doesn't contain the kind of juicy academic discussion I was hoping for.

Cartledge presents a chronological progression of Spartan history, interspersed with spare 'biographies' of known and/or important figures therein. The ones of Demaratus and Gorgo are perhaps the most interesting of these. Also interesting is the Appendix, which discusses the ancient Greek approach to hunting in light of the apologetics for (now-outlawed) fox-hunting in the UK.

Epic, this book is not.

He's perhaps a little too in love with the Spartan mirage, and never presents a detailed critique of any single period in Lacedaimonian history. (A couple of times, it almost seems as though he's finally going to get his teeth in and shake, but no joy.)

That said, it's a decent introduction to Sparta and Sparta's peculiar place in Greek history and modern myth.

My next history-for-fun read is Sarah Pomeroy (and I'm growing a chaste academic crush on that professor and all her works), Spartan Women, so it should make an interesting comparison.



So, I'm probably going to WFC 2008. Am I better off flying Dublin-London-Calgary, or should I fly Dublin-Toronto and either connect, or entrain, to get to the right place at the right time?

(I figure on flying out of Dublin on a Wednesday evening, and returning overnight on the following Tuesday. But my experience with long-haul international travel with connecting flights is rather limited. Thus, the request for advice. :) )

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