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)

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

rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
One of my treasured possessions as a child was my complete works of Hans Christian Anderson, and I know I read and reread the Snow Queen story in it several times.  This retelling by T Kingfisher is wonderful and absorbing; I half want to go reread the original to pin down the differences (because time has dulled my memory) and half want not to, because it won't be as good.  There are multiple(!) no-nonsense grandmothers, a raven with a decided viewpoint on the world and his place in it, and some delightful otters.  And the dreams of plants turn out to be surprisingly important.

It also made me cry, for personal reasons almost entirely unrelated to the plot.  In this passage, Gerda and Janna (the bandit girl) are talking with Livli, an old Sámi woman, about a magic shapechanging reindeer skin.

Janna interrupted her thoughts by asking, "What if I wear the skin instead?"

"Can’t,” said Livli. “Oh, I’m sure you’d try, don’t get me wrong. But you’re too set in your own skin. You’re a healthy young animal and you know it. And people who really live in their own flesh and know it and love it make lousy shapechangers.”

“I…well. But Gerta doesn’t?”

Livli shook her head. “Some people don’t. Their bodies carry them around, but they don’t live in them quite the same way.” 

She leaned over and patted Gerta’s hand. “Don’t look so stricken, dear. It’s not a personal failing. And I think there may be something else at work here, too. You’re outside your own skin even farther than you ought to be. Have you had a long illness recently?”


I had to stop reading for a bit, because I hadn't even realised that I was feeling a disconnection with my body, and that it was bothering me, until I read it put into words about someone else entirely.  I don't always love my body, but I do normally live right inside it and know it well (which is why I knew something was wrong even before I got really ill), and I've been a bit detached for some time, and I hadn't even realised and it explains ... oh all sorts of little things about how I'm recovering, and how even with habitual self-monitoring I'm frequently surprised by feeling Suddenly Energetic or Suddenly Tired.

So I stopped reading for a bit and had a bit of a cry at my revelation (and a bit more for having had cancer in the first place because apparently now is when I do that, not when it was happening) and then I went back to the book until I'd finished it.  It was worth it.

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 smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (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.

rmc28: (books2010)
Before I had children, holidays were vast oases of time in which I could read.  Now, not so much.  Although I did learn to read Room on the Broom from back to front as well as the more usual way, at the insistence of my younger child.  It gives it a Memento-style feeling, though rather less violent.

What I've read
I finally finished rereading Ancillary Sword!  Once I got started I stopped only for child-related interruptions.  It is still a cracking good read, and I hope for some time and space to put thoughts together over on [community profile] bookatorium now.  I note that Ancillary Mercy is now listed for pre-order at Amazon, with a publication date of 8 Oct.

I thoroughly enjoyed Bryony and Roses by T Kingfisher: a sensible heroine with a good line in gardening, a convincingly creepy enchanted castle, a Beast who doesn't behave like a domestic abuser, and an ending I didn't see coming even if maybe I should have.  I also really liked Bryony's sister Holly, who isn't in the story very much but makes her presence felt, and in general Bryony's feelings towards her family.   In fact family-feeling, gardening, and sensible heroines are very much common features across the T Kingfisher books I've read; sometimes it's birth-family and sometimes it's found-family. 

I don't normally include my textbooks in this, but I'm going to make special mention of Unit 3: Costing and accounting systems from my current OU course on management accounting.  I have not yet made it through a session of study of this book without falling asleep.  In theory I find it interesting! But in practice there has been a lot of slumping over the textbook and pulling myself awake to find handwritten notes that wander off into gibberish.  I am determined to defeat it study-wise but I'm definitely keeping the ebook around against future insomnia.

I read A-Force (2015) #1 and like the art and the story, and the way it introduces key people so I can keep track of who's who.  The Secret Wars setup is really weird but I'll just handwave that as "weird big comics crossover event stuff".  I am engaged by this set of people and their situation and wondering what is going on, and I'm trying to justify to myself spending the money to keep up with it rather than wait for a collected edition.

What I'm reading now

Younger by Suzanne Munshower; I got as far as chapter 2 on the train home and am still finding it interesting.

What I'll read next
I still have the two Jill Mansells I found in the to-read pile when moving it.  A-Force (2015) #2 if I buy it.  Assorted library books are waiting for attention.  Draykon by Charlotte E. English is next on the ebook list.
rmc28: (books2010)
 What I've read
[more than usual in the last fortnight I have been sticking to light, predictable reads that I find comforting and escapist]

Much Ado About You
by Eloisa James
A new series of farcical historical romances, this time featuring four sisters (rather than the previous series, which was four friends).  I do like the friendships in these books probably at least as much as the romances.  I also like that the library has them all; they're definitely single-serving books for me.

Archangel's Blood
by Nalini Singh
Second in the "Guild-Hunter" series about a vampire hunter and angels.  This was definitely a bit gorier and getting close to my personal tolerance for that; also to my tolerance for dominant asshole romance "heroes".  I still like the concept and the characters a lot though, and the library has the rest of the series.

Justice Calling
by Annie Bellet
This is a pretty short read (150 pages, but a couple of chapters of the next one are included, so it's rather less than that).  It's a fun urban fantasy: there's shapeshifters and a witch with a secret, and a big tough law enforcer, and peril and plot, and a bit of romance worked in.  It was more or less exactly what I wanted to read right now and I enjoyed it very much.  There are four more books in the series, and a sixth coming out next month; I'm restraining myself from buying the lot right now, but I will be getting them as I clear more of my ebook backlog.

A Walk in the Park by Jill Mansell
This was a library book; I have about 2/3 of Jill Mansell's output on my shelves: contemporary romcoms with interesting people, complicated plots and happy endings, many of which are set in and around Bath, near where I grew up.  I haven't read one I disliked, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one.   [I am still migrating my to-read pile into my room, and there are two more by her in it, so I have physically pulled them out to read shortly.]

What I'm reading
I'm part way through rereading Ancillary Sword, and then "T Kingfisher" (Ursula Vernon) released another fairy tale retelling this week, so I am also part way through Bryony and Roses and enjoying it very much.

What I'm reading next
I was sufficiently impressed by G Willow Wilson's defence of A-Force to buy the first issue digitally.  (Though ouch, individual comics on release week is an expensive way to do this hobby.)  I also want to carry on with Daredevil vol 1.
That pair of Jill Mansell books I just found.
Younger by Suzanne Munshower is next up in my ebook list

rmc28: (books2010)
First, let me commend this essay by [personal profile] thingswithwings on saying "I don't usually like X but" about works, especially when X is a socially-marginalised genre.  (and compare to e.g. "but you're not like those other women / politicians / sf fans", all of which I have been on the receiving end of, and all of which gets old really fast)

Last week, when I said The Siren by Tiffany Reisz was "Surprisingly good S&M romance", I was totally doing this.  To a lesser extent I was also doing it when I said "But this is a Courtney Milan billionaire novel so I couldn't wait to see what she did with it." 

Let me rephrase.  Both The Siren and its direct sequel The Angel are both engaging, page-turning, hot, romantic novels that happen to feature BDSM and polyamory.  The Siren has a protagonist who is learning about BDSM, which is a good device for explaining things to the reader who doesn't know much.  The Angel develops several of the characters from The Siren further and has a sweet m/m first-love romance too.  I suspect I could happily marathon the rest of the series and maybe I will after I've done more Hugo reading.

What I've read:
The Seventh Bride by T Kingfisher.  This has a retold-fairytale feel, but I wasn't quite sure which fairy tale: it's a bit reminiscent of Bluebeard but not in the details.  Rhea the miller's daughter gets engaged to the local mysterious lord, who turns out to be a nasty piece of work with magical powers, and a bunch more wives no-one seems to know about.  I loved the storytelling and the women-working-together plot and the hedgehog.

Women Destroy Fantasy! which is really a collection of short stories and non-fiction essays and I should probably talk about that in more detail separately.  One of the (Hugo-eligible) shorts, and one of my favourites, was also by T Kingfisher: The Dryad's Shoe.  It's a really nice Cinderella retelling, and reminds me that I never got around to writing about Ash by Malinda Lo which is a much creepier Cinderella story.

There are a great many "further reading" recommendations in Women Destroy Fantasy! many of which I have taken note of.

Toad Words and Other Stories by T Kingfisher.  This is a collection of stories, pretty much all retold fairy tales, and this time I actually recognised all of them (except the poems; I'm not good at poems).  My standout favourite was Boar & Apples, which you could also call "Snow White and the Seven Wild Boars".

I've been playing with a free trial of Scribd, which mostly meant I indulged in rereading a bunch of Jennie Crusie's funny romance books: Strange Bedpersons, Anyone But You, Getting Rid of Bradley, Charlie All Night, Manhunting.  I note that I am now squarely in the age-demographic of most of Crusie's heroines, which I wasn't when I first discovered her ten or so years ago.  Also that dogs can be strangely vital to romance.

I read another Tessa Dare, a novella called How to Catch a Wild Viscount which was apparently her first published piece.  I didn't like it nearly as much as One Dance with a Duke so I'm still a bit undecided about this author.

I had preordered Worth the Risk by Claudia Connor after enjoying her first book, Worth the Fall very much.  I didn't like this one nearly as much.  I finished it, so it's better than a lot of stuff, but I was disappointed.  It had a lot of the tropes I really dislike: a controlling dominant very rich hero who can't communicate, plot being driven by 2D Nasty Characters Being Nasty, a great deal of Manly Macho Men being Macho, while Good Family Women herd children around and gossip and obsess over babies. 

I really didn't like the way women in this book were either Good Family Women or Nasty Shallow Women.  There was a bit of that in the beginning of Worth the Fall but I had managed to forget it.   The things that I particularly liked in Worth the Fall were: slow romance developing out of connection and communication, the conflict of "you cannot carry on with the career you have and be the kind of partner you want to be in this relationship" feeling like a real no-one's-fault dilemma, no enormous financial disparity between the two characters.  In Worth the Risk, none of these apply and in most cases the opposite is true. 

What 's next
I still have samples of two sf novels to try, and [personal profile] ceb has kindly lent me Kaleidoscope for more short story goodness.  There's also another T Kingfisher novella I haven't bought yet ...


rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
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