rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
Good grief it has been six months since I managed to write one of these! I find I am not reading very much after work and textbooks, and what I do get round to reading for pleasure has been almost entirely fluffy escapist romances, and fanfic (mostly fluffy escapist romantic fanfic). I am very much appreciating the modern world where I can join the mailing lists run by several authors whose books I consistently like, and who are good at sending email notifications that they have something out, or something at a reduced price, and some of whom helpfully recommend other books they have enjoyed.


What I've read

Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold
Penric's Mission by Lois McMaster Bujold
Two further novellas about the characters in Penric's Demon, where several years have elapsed between each one. I like this series very much.

Barking Up The Right Tree by Lilly Grant. A lovely fluffy short contemporary romance about a hunky apple farmer and the bored programmer who freelances as a web designer when not at the day job who makes him a great website for his farm.

Hold Me by Courtney Milan. Second in the Cyclone series, I adored the first, I was very excited about this one, read it through the day I bought it, read it again a few days later, loved it. [personal profile] skygiants wrote a great review of it.

Zero Day Exploit by Cole McCade. I quite liked the geeky setting but was a bit meh about the story.

The Soldier's Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian. A m/m Regency romance with class conflict, a mystery to solve, and a domestic abuser to get rid of. I thoroughly enjoyed this and will definitely look out for more by this author.

Protection, Inc. #1-#4 by Zoe Chant. Bodyguard shapeshifter romances with a "one true mate" trope. They are all shortish novels featuring peril, hurt, comfort, and hot sex, and therefore right up my street.

All or Nothing by Rose Lerner
The Liar's Dice by Jeannie Lin
These are two of the five novellas in a historical romance collection, Gambled Away, which I am enjoying very much. These were the first two in the book, and coincidentally the two by authors I've already read.  They were both excellent; I'm looking forward to the rest of the collection.


Acquisitions this week
Fortune Favours the Wicked by Theresa Romain (recommended by Rose Lerner)
A HumbleBundle of ebooks about astronomy, and another of ebooks about coding games.

Plus 2 seasonal gifts from my brother:
Thors: Battleworld
by Jason Aaron, Chris Sprouse & Goran Sud┼żuka
The Making of Pride and Prejudiceby Sue Birtwistle & Susie Conklin
rmc28: (wonderfrown)
What I have read:
I have not been reading any books or short stories.  I have instead been reading way too much stuff about my country's current glorious political situation, mostly via Twitter and Facebook.  Have some highlights:

Reactions:
Happy Now pretty much covers my current emotional state (spoiler: not happy)
Brexit was a Con is a thoughtful comparison to the Scottish referendum

Things we can do:
On LJ, my friend [livejournal.com profile] strange_complex wrote about things to do to "[try] to make this country the best place it can possibly be, given the hand we are now holding"

Two different guides to speaking up in response to hate speech: I sincerely hope not to need this, but I also know that preparing by thinking through my possible responses is the best way to avoid being part of the bystander effect.  The Guardian last November ran "How do I ... respond when I see racial abuse in public? and UNITED for Intercultural Action provide a leaflet Who, if not you? which covers similar ground.

More general again: good advice about how to argue with people if you actually want to persuade them rather than "win".


What I'm reading next:
Charles Stross's latest, The Nightmare Stacks, where I can escape into a world where the existential threat to my country is merely an alien invasion of Leeds.  Also I have now logged out of Facebook entirely on my phone, and hidden the Twitter shortcut, in an attempt to stop the negstimming.


Today's bird: Moorhen

rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
I have been too tired and too busy to read much for weeks and weeks, but I did start getting back into the reading habit shortly before going on holiday.

What I've read: short fiction

Lullaby for a Lost World by Aliette de Bodard
A rather dark and potentially depressing story, but beautifully told.

Three stories by Charlotte Ashley who I discovered through the Campbell Award nominees collection organised ahead of Hugo nominations:
Sigrid Under the Mountain
Eleusinian Mysteries
The Will of Parliament

Also, way back when, I got through the rest of the serialised story, The Witch Who Came In From The Cold, and liked it very much but felt the end-of-season was a bit weak. Classic leaving things open for the next season kind of weakness that one gets in TV series.

What I've read: long fiction
  • Dragon’s Luck by Lauren Esker : lovely, charming addition to the Shifter Agents series, not reliant on reading previous books, great review by[personal profile] rachelmanija to which I don't feel I can add
  • The Beta’s Test by Dessa Lux: enjoyable addition to the gay werewolves in California series
  • House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard: I eventually got to the end of this; it was very beautifully written and had a great concept of magic and its sources, but the story and background were utterly depressing
  • Saving the CEO by Jenny Holiday: a fairly standard pleasant straight romance
  • Magic and Manners by C.E. Murphy: a delightful rewrite of Pride and Prejudice with magic; the plot is similar but diverges in appropriate ways given the presence of magic (and fixed up a couple of my biggest annoyances with the source story).  I loved this very much.
  • Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho: very enjoyable Regency magic story with non-white protagonists, matter-of-fact description of the resulting racism and inclusivity issues, plus forceful auntie figures and a lot of humour.  This review by [personal profile] skygiants covers the key points for me.

What I'm reading now
I'm kind of stuck on The Oncoming Storm by Christopher G Nuttall which is an okay-ish MilSF book I picked up for cheap as first in a series. It's very very heteronormative and predictable, but page-turny when I'm actually reading it. I suspect I might be happier leaving it unfinished and rereading something with more lesbians in.


rmc28: (reading)
I haven't been reading much recently but my course textbooks. However, there were three novelettes I read from the handy eligibility list provided by Clarkesworld, that I liked and haven't yet written up:


Ether by Zhang Ran
I can't work out how to talk about this story without spoilers, so I'll just say that it's a bit slow starting, but I found it worth sticking with it.

The Servant by Emily Devenport
Murder and political intrigue IN SPACE (on a generation ship).

So Much Cooking by Naomi Kritzer
A near-future pandemic as seen through the entries on a cooking blog. I found the first entry mildly irritating in style (in a real-world blog, I'd probably not bother reading it), but then the story began to move and I was completely sucked in.


Plus Ann Leckie linked to a short SF story of hers, The Endangered Camp

"And I said, jokingly, “Now the race is on–who will be the first to submit a Post Apocalyptic Dinosaurs on Mars story?  And about two days later I was driving and was fortunately on an empty street when it hit me just how I could write exactly that."

It is an excellent post-apocalyptic dinosaurs on Mars story.
Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/628986.html with comment count unavailable comments.
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
What I've read - short stories

Mercurial by Kim Stanley Robinson
I can’t decide if I like this more than I’m irritated by it: a Sherlock pastiche set on a future Mercury full of art galleries. Also a pastiche of 1930s pulp SF? (I haven’t read enough of the latter to be sure).

Transitional Forms by Paul McAuley
A tale from the frontier of artificial life

Liminal Grid by Jaymee Goh
A near-future tale of government panopticon and resistance

First Do No Harm by Jonathan Edelstein
Medical SF! An old space-faring culture, which has lost much of what was once known about how to treat illness. I couldn’t put this down - it seems to be the author’s first published SF, but I hope there will be more to come.

Conjure Man by Stefon Mears
I liked this tale of trickery and houdou; apparently there is a novel coming, which I will look out for.

The Opening of the Bayou St John by Shawn Scarber
Magic and multiple worlds and motherhood.

Into the Wreck by June Oldfather
A vivid tale of a stranded research community literally swimming inside an alien spaceship. I felt it ended very abruptly and rather unsatisfyingly but what there was engrossed me and I would happily have read a lot more in the setting. (This is a common frustration I’ve found since setting out deliberately to read more short fiction - too often the stories stop just when they’re getting interesting; my other frustration is "deliberately ambiguous ending or ran out of idea?")

The Heart is Eaten Last by Kameron Hurley
A great little self-contained novella about Nyx and her team from the God’s War trilogy. I like these stories far more than I’d expect, given the high bodycount and the general grimness of the setting.  (Currently only available to patrons at Hurley's Patreon)

Plus several episodes of The Witch Who Came In From The Cold:
Stasis by Lindsay Smith (ep 4)
The Golem by Ian Tregillis (ep 5)
A Week Without Magic by Michael Swanwick (ep6)
Radio Free Trismegistus by Ian Tregillis (ep7)
I'm continuing to enjoy and be engrossed by the story, and fairly impressed with how the different authors are matching style and characterisation across the episodes.

What I'm reading now:
The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard, which is very good and very gripping, and a fairly grim tale in an utterly miserable setting. So I'm struggling a bit with it.

Acquisitions:
Magic & Manners by CE Murphy - it's a CE Murphy book, and it's a "Pride and Prejudice with magic" book, and that was enough for me to buy it on spec ;-)

Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/625975.html with comment count unavailable comments.
rmc28: (reading)
What I've read - short stories (I'm too tired to write even a one-line blurb for these, have links, they are short stories I liked)

Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into The Sea by Sarah Pinsker

The Fixer by Paul McAuley

Between Dragons and Their Wrath by An Owomoyela and Rachel Swirsky


Long fiction:
The Reindeer and the Raven
by T. Kingfisher, as previously mentioned.  (it is very good, do read it if you like fairy tale retellings and/or  The Snow Queen story)


Acquisitions:
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard
Stasis by Lindsay Smith (TWWCIFTC episode 4)


rmc28: (reading)
What I've read - short fiction

Hereafter by Samuel Peralta
A time-travel love story.

Monstrous Embrace by Rachel Swirsky
I nearly got put off this by the elaborate prose style, but after the first few paragraphs I was sucked into this fairy-tale-from-a-different-perspective.

Not by Wardrobe, Tornado, or Looking Glass by Jeremiah Tolbert
What if everyone had a portal fantasy to fall into?

Departures by Sara Polsky (poem)

And episode 3 of The Witch Who Came In From the Cold: Double Blind by Max Gladstone. I am really enjoying this serial; the episodes are short enough for me to keep up with, and I think our characters just had at least two more conflicts of interest layered on top of the existing set.


What I'm reading
The Raven and the Reindeer by T Kingfisher.  This came out on Tuesday and I bought it late on Wednesday night as reward for finishing the latest OU assignment on time.  I am about halfway through and greatly enjoying it, especially the raven.

Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/622373.html with comment count unavailable comments.
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
What I've read - short fiction
The first two episodes of The Witch Who Came In From The Cold. Cold War spies in Prague, and a different kind of struggle between competing factions of magic-users (and of course the two conflicts overlap and group people in different ways). I loved the pilot enough to subscribe to the series, and the second episode confirmed my opinion ...
A Long Cold Winter by Max Gladstone and Lindsay Smith (1/13 - free to read online)
A Voice on the Radio by Cassandra Rose Clarke (2/13 - requires payment)

Tigerskin by Kurt Hunt
Warning for harm to a child in the opening! but not quite as it seems.

The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar by Rose Lemberg
Admiring letters sent along trade routes between two different magic practitioners.

La Lune T’attend by Peter S. Beagle
Werewolves and magic and old men trying to protect their families (a bit gory in places)

Charlotte Incorporated by Rachael K. Jones
A brain in a jar who wants a better home.

Long fiction
Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold, as reviewed separately.


Acquisitions:
Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link - an anthology of short stories by the author whose novella I liked a couple of weeks ago
The Heart is Eaten Last by Kameron Hurley - a novella for Patreon supporters, about Nyx from the Bel Dame Apocrypha books


rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
What I've read
Four short stories by A.M.Dellamonica. An extract of her book A Daughter of No Nation was in Lightspeed 67, I got caught up in it and went to look for the full thing, to discover it was the second of a series, and balked at the price. So I read three short stories which are related to these novels (but I think work well as standalone stories) - it's all kind of epic fantasy in a world made up of small islands and lots of sailing trade links and piracy:

Among the Silvering Herd
The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti
The Glass Galago

And then a fourth story about a werewolf puppy in danger in Vancouver: The Cage


Uprooted by Naomi Novik
I finally started it! Once I started, I found it hard to put down, and liked it a lot (although it gets quite gory in places, and there's a distressingly high body count towards the end) - the terrifyingly creepy Wood, and the friendship between Agnieszka and Kasia both worked well for me.

The "pilot episode" of Bookburners (serialised fiction "created by" Max Gladstone and written by him with some others) which was good enough to get me interested in reading more, though I despair at my to-read pile. 

What I'll read next
Probably the pilot of The Witch Who Came In From The Cold.

Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/620139.html with comment count unavailable comments.
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
What I've read
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
One of the Tor.com novellas, I read a review and bought and read it on impulse. I couldn't put it down and stayed awake a bit too late last night to finish it. Binti is brilliant at maths, on her way to take up a place at the best university in the galaxy (against the wishes of her family), making friends with other new students ... and then things go horribly wrong.

The Tomato Thief by Ursula Vernon
Another story about the wonderful Grandma Harken in Jackalope Wives (and if you haven't read that, please do, it's excellent). I particularly love the description of the railways and their magic, but mostly I'm there for Grandma Harken and her grumpy, no time-for-this-nonsense approach to sorting out messes.

Maiden, Hunter, Beast by Kat Howard
A unicorn hunt story that I was gripped and surprised by.

Beacon 23: Little Noises by Hugh Howey
An exciting adventure set on a space beacon; a tale about being alone and lonely and making mistakes.

The Queen's Reason by Richard Parks
A rather self-aware fairy tale; a bit meta; with an ending I loved.

The Surfer by Kelly Link
A reprint novella in Lightspeed 67 which I enjoyed: a teenage boy in a plane-load of people quarantined with a flu scare; the people dynamics and the future geopolitics are shown really well, even if the boy Dorn is somewhat self-centred and oblivious and would rather be playing soccer.

What I'm reading now: the non-fiction parts of Lightspeed 67

Books acquired this week: Binti, as discussed above

What I'll read next:
I've got as far as loading Uprooted onto my phone, so I "just" need to set aside some novel-length reading time for it.

rmc28: Rachel, in running tshirt and leggings, holding phone and smiling into mirror (runner5)
What I've read:
Everybody Loves Charles by Bao Shu
A really plausibly creepy novella taking celebrity culture and life-logging to a logical conclusion

Old Paint by Megan Lindholm
A heartwarming family tale about a self-driving car in the 2030s.

Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang
The politics is unsubtle but I really loved the imagery of the giant city folding itself up and unfolding a different area for portions of each day.

Find a Way Home by Paul Cornell
Alien first contact with some enterprising twelve-year-olds and a really good teacher.


What I'm reading now: nothing

Books acquired this week:

These Pricy Thakur Girls by Anuja Chauhan. I've read it before thanks to [personal profile] deepad's Anuja Chauhan reading challenge, but it finally turned up on Abebooks at a price I was willing to pay for a copy of my own. The House That BJ Built, which I definitely read in hospital this summer but seem not to have mentioned even in passing on here, is a story about (different people in) the same family about 30 years later.

V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton. I read it from the library a while ago but wanted my own copy; I have the whole series from A-W in paperback now, and X will be out in paperback in August this year.

Truthseeker by C.E. Murphy. I have fallen behind on my collecting of everything C.E. Murphy writes in the last few years, so I was glad to seize the opportunity to get this.

In addition, Tony bought Uprooted by Naomi Novik which lots of people have been enthusiastic about.


What I'm reading next:
One or more of the new arrivals above. And more short fiction. Uncanny Magazine and Clarkesworld Magazine have both produced helpful lists of the original short fiction each published last year, categorised into length categories as used by the Hugos:
http://uncannymagazine.com/uncanny-magazine-2015-award-eligibility/
http://neil-clarke.com/clarkesworld-magazine-and-award-eligibility/ Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/617380.html with comment count unavailable comments.
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
What I've read
The One That Got Away by Victoria Alexander, Liz Carlyle, Eloisa James & Cathy Maxwell
A collection of four Regency romance novellas that I got because I was being completionist about Eloisa James and the library didn't have it.  I probably liked the James the best, but none of them were very memorable; neither were any of them terrible, and they were just right for tired me at the start of the year.  It also was a book off my to-read pile before I managed to buy any more, which almost never happens.

Lotus Face and the Fox by Nghi Vo
A beautiful little short story with a tiny hint of fantasy.

The Spy Who Never Grew Up by Sarah Rees Brennan
A novelette imagining Peter Pan and one of Wendy's descendants, with a seasoning of Fleming; I found it by turns funny, silly, and creepy (a bit like the original then).

Telling the Bees by T. Kingfisher
"There was a girl who died every morning, and it would not have been a problem except that she kept bees."  That's the opening line to this very short but lovely fantasy story.

What I'm reading now
Does the OU textbook on marketing count? I am not enjoying this section of the module very much but the deadline loometh.

What I'll read next
More short fiction - it's a lot easier to read the odd one here or there than a novel-length book.

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Rachel Coleman

May 2017

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