athenejen: iAthena (athena)
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posted by [personal profile] athenejen at 06:49pm on 10/06/2015 under
It has been far too long since I posted anything. Mostly I've been watching a ton of hockey, but lately I've also been reading more actual books, which has been pretty great. I often contemplate posting, but somehow it just... slips away from me. But I've been reading enough that I keep thinking I should try doing the book meme and finally the thought stuck. So here goes.

What I've just finished

Uprooted by Naomi Novik. One of the pleasant things I've noticed lately is that the books I pick up keep having a bit of a throwback aspect to them, like the authors probably imprinted on the same wonderful books I did in the 80s and 90s, and are now writing things that evoke some similar themes and emotions and styles while also adding their own elements. This book reminded me a little of some of my favorite Diana Wynne Jones novels (especially the way Agnieszka comes into her own over the course of the novel, and the gradual, prickly progression of her relationship with "the Dragon") and a lot of the Fairy Tale Series of books with the Thomas Canty covers that Terri Windling curated in the late 80s and early 90s, with a judicious dose of Patricia C Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles for good measure. It is steeped in Eastern European fairy tales (Polish specifically, I believe) and has a distinctive earthiness to it that I really liked. While I wouldn't necessarily consider it groundbreaking, I do think it's a really lovely version of what it's trying to be, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It captured me.

What I'm reading now

California Bones by Greg van Eekhout. A fascinating, dark, alternate-modern Los Angeles run by a dictator whose power seems to be primarily based on controlling magic through brutality and bureaucracy. The main character is a 22-year-old kid who has spent most of his life letting the authorities think he's dead after his father was killed in a political purge. Politics and magic are inevitably intertwined in this world, and unsurprisingly so are magic and crime. The crime lord who effectively raised him wants him to perform one last heist -- breaking into the dictator's vault for a haul that includes the sword his father had meant for him to have, that also happens to be infused with the protagonist's essence (the main type of magic is osteomancy, in which bones are used to impart characteristic aspects of the creatures the bones were from). I'm only about a third of the way through, but well, I can't resist a heist. I'm definitely enjoying it so far.

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone, book 1 of the Craft Sequence. Investigating the death of a god and resurrecting him is within the scope of a necromantic law firm's job description, especially in a steampunk-inflected world in which magic is primarily based on legal contracts. Tara's finding that out firsthand... for her first case. I'm only about a quarter of the way through this one as well; I've been reading it on airplanes because there was a bunch of travel last month, and so far I would say that it has a bit of a slow build. There are many things about it I've found interesting, and the overall world-building strikes me as extensive, deep, complex, and rich in scope. But that's just it -- so far, it's been more interesting than compelling. I like it enough that I'm fairly certain I'm going to keep going, but it seems to be more of an off-and-on thing than something that grabs me and keeps me reading straight through. But perhaps once I get far enough in that will change.

What I'm reading next

Either Hostage by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith, book 2 of the Change Quartet (I loved the first book in the series, Stranger) or The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, book 2 of The Raven Cycle.

Bonus: Recent backlog

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, book 1 of the Raven Cycle. If Uprooted felt like a nostalgic reminder of some of my favorite fairy-tale-based fantasy novels, The Raven Boys did the same for classic urban fantasy. Not the Harry Dresden/Anita Blake section of the genre, but more on the Borderlands/Emma Bull/Margaret Mahy/Fire & Hemlock side of things, all dark secrets and magical places and the muddy edge between mundane reality and something more. It's distinctly YA in that it focuses on teens trying to navigate and understand their place in the world, their emotions and their preoccupations and their complicated relationships with their families and with each other, and while the prose and structural execution are relatively workman-like and some of the side characters could be more deeply developed, I found the main cast to be interesting and endearing. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
There are 8 comments on this entry. (Reply.)
desireearmfeldt: (reading)
posted by [personal profile] desireearmfeldt at 12:16pm on 11/06/2015
Yay Books!!!
athenejen: iAthena (Default)
posted by [personal profile] athenejen at 03:08pm on 11/06/2015
posted by [identity profile] at 01:24pm on 11/06/2015
It took me a long time to get partway through Three Parts Dead because, as you said, it didn't grab me but was interesting enough to keep nibbling at it...and sometime around halfway through or a bit more, it grabbed me.
athenejen: iAthena (Default)
posted by [personal profile] athenejen at 03:28pm on 11/06/2015
Oh, good, glad to hear it! It felt to me like there was a good chance of that -- the build-up really has had so many interesting bits in it -- and it's definitely heartening to know it worked that way for you. I have another plane ride in mid-July, so if I haven't finished it by then maybe that'll be the time...
posted by [identity profile] at 10:33pm on 11/06/2015
It didn't grab me so much that I felt compelled to buy the sequel immediately, but it's on my mental to-read list. (Also, I think it's set before the first one, iirc.)
posted by [identity profile] at 12:47am on 12/06/2015
more on the Borderlands/Emma Bull/Margaret Mahy/Fire & Hemlock side of things

Good heavens. No wonder the Meme That Must Not Be Named (lurking in which is basically my main fannish activity this time of year) is tying itself into delighted knots over these books. That sounds deeply and profoundly RTMI. *adds to list of things to read*
athenejen: iAthena (Default)
posted by [personal profile] athenejen at 01:09am on 13/06/2015
It does indeed strike me as up your alley. :) Two important things to note!

1: It took me a little while to warm up to the writing style and characters, but once I got used to the writing and got to know the characters a little, it worked. I think maybe it was closer to the one Charles de Lint Newford book I've read than to the specifics of any of the things in that list, but the list at least gives you an idea of the genre. It scratches the itch for that type of book in a way that not a lot of novels written these days seem to, at least that I've found. (The last book I read that got close was Among Others by Jo Walton, which I really loved. In a slightly different way than The Raven Boys, though.)

2: The fourth book is not yet out, and I think its publishing date recently got pushed back from late this year to early next year. It's one of the reasons I've been holding off on reading the second one, because I suspect I'll get to the end of the third one and be all frustrated along with everyone else about the wait. *g* So, fair warning. But I get the impression there's likely a fair cache of quality fic out there just waiting to be read in the meantime, so maybe the wait won't be so bad. That's what I'm hoping, at least.
posted by [identity profile] at 11:34pm on 13/06/2015
Ah. Yes, the information about its being an incomplete series is useful. Holding off on starting a series until I know it's finished has been a good strategy for me. :)