Anonymous said: How many books must a man buy a girl before they may date and live happily ever after?
Got it? Good.
The Arrival and Sketches from a Nameless Land by Shaun Tan - Suitcase Collector’s Edition
So September was the slowest month for reading I think I’ve ever done. There are a number of reasons for this. I moved into a new apartment closer to the city so lost the 40 minute train commute and work also went crazy to the point I was going from work to bed and not doing much else. Just need to make proper time for reading now that I’m a little settled.
Also two of the books I read were ones that require and inspire slow reading. They needed to be read at a slow pace and savoured, rather than the devouring of books that I usually do.
The Name of the Wind was the first of the books that needed slow reading. This was not because it was necessary but because it invited it. I like the way the story is set up, I am fascinated with the characters and I really want to know everything about everything. Not many authors can do all that and still make you read every little paragraph. It’s bloody magic in book form. Cannot recommend this book enough.
Night Film by Marisha Pessl was the other. The burning need to know what happened and what exactly the fuck is going on made me want to burn through the pages, however the style of writing, and the use of additional media made me slow down and really read everything as it needs to be read. About half way through I started to worry a little bit that the ending was going to be contrived, some deus ex machine would come through and solve it all. It doesn’t. The ending does not disappoint. I don’t like giving much away about books but I didn’t want others to have that little niggle that I did.
Not sure I like Moonshine by Rob Thurman. I picked it up as I read the first book in the series and liked it but this one seemed out of step at times. It would jump ahead and then go back and explain what happened in the jump. Good example of when the storyteller is telling rather than showing. You can’t get lost in this book. My feelings may have a lot to do with the two books I read before and after, hard to measure up to their lofty standards.
134. (01) True Colours by Karen Traviss
135. (02) The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
136. (03) Moonshine by Rob Thurman
137. (04) Night Film by Marisha Pessl
My second monthly summary of what I’ve been reading lately. If you’ve read any of these books or think you might want to, or know any similar books I might like, feel free to come chat with me about them!
(Bold means this was the first time I read it. All links go to goodreads.)
- The Queen’s Readers: A Collection of Essays on the Words and Worlds of Tamora Pierce edited by Amanda Diehl & Holly Vaughn - ★★★★. A fanmade book of meta on Tamora Pierce’s Tortall and Emelan series. I love talking about this stuff on tumblr and the rest of the internet, so naturally I enjoyed this a lot. There were a lot of essays on a lot of different topics - tributes to each main character from someone who found them intensely meaningful, as well as discussions about family relationships, sexuality, race, religion, beauty, and many more themes. It could have used a bit more editing for grammar and such, but since it was made by fans for fans for love rather than profit, that’s understandable.
- The City of Silk and Steel by Mike Cary, Linda Carey & Louise Carey - ★★★★★. Do you want to read an epic, action-packed and emotionally rich fantasy novel that centres around amazing women? Do you want to read about lady assassins, oracles, diplomats, soldiers, con-artists, dancers, bakers and librarians kicking ass? Do you like stories about women protecting each other, teaching each other, forming communities, and sometimes having sex and falling in love with each other? And would you like to see a fantasy setting that’s not pseudo medieval Europe but pseudo pre-Islam Middle East, and a cast of hundreds without a single white person in the bunch? Then do I ever have a book for you! This is the story of almost four hundred concubines and illegitimate children who were ordered to be killed when their sultan was overthrown, who found a way to not only survive, but thrive, and then take their city back. It’s awesome, and not nearly as well-known as it deserves to be (shoutout to booksandghosts for the recommendation, I may never have heard of it if he hadn’t described it in his own monthly reading roundup). Trigger warnings for rape and murder.
- The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff - ★★★. The Gales are a powerful, magical family who scare the shit out of most monsters. When Allie’s grandmother apparently dies, she inherits her junkshop and a situation with a sorcerer and some dragons. I expected to like this more than I did - I was way more interested in Allie’s cousin Charlie (a musician with wild magic that lets her travel great distances), Joe the leprechaun, the junkshop and the magic of the Gale family than Allie’s romance with Graham, but the romance cropped up all the time. Trigger warning for incest (Gales have sex with their cousins all the time, and siblings have to actively avoid standing too close to each other when they’ve been doing magic recently or they’ll jump each other’s bones).
- The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams - ★★★. The Earth is destroyed and it is funny. The only two survivors go off on a stolen spaceship with their alien
boyfriendsfriends, and the four of them (plus Marvin, a depressed robot) try to find mysterious planet of Magrathea and discover the great question of life, the universe and everything.
- The Restaurant At the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams - ★★★. The gang almost die, watch the end of the universe from a luxurious restaurant and Zaphod goes on a quest set by himself to find the man who rules the universe.
- Life, The Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams - ★★★★. There are eddies in the space time continuum causing problems, and for some damn reason Ford and Arthur are the ones who are expected to save the universe from destruction. (It’s lucky they’re friends with Trillian, or we’d all be screwed.) Also, it’s finally revealed why the bowl of petunias that briefly materialised in HHGTTG thought “Oh no, not again” before being smashed.
- So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish by Douglas Adams - ★★★. On a rebuilt planet Earth, life is going on as normal. No-one knows anything happened. Well, Fenchurch suspects something. She was the one who had a glorious epiphany minutes before the world ended, and now she can’t remember what it was. Arthur falls in love with her and they go looking for answers.
- The Dream Master by Roger Zelazny - ★★★. A science-fiction novel where psychiatrists can perform therapy by entering their patients’ dreams and interacting with them there. A blind psychiatrist wants to pursue a career in this kind of therapy, but she needs to learn how to see through other people’s eyes or she could panic and hurt herself and her client the first time she enters their dream, so she goes to one of the greats in the field and asks him to teach her. It’s kind of a weird book. I can’t decide if the genetically engineered talking dogs were cute or creepy.
- Now I Know by Aidan Chambers - ★★★★. There are three stories told at once, not in chronological order. Tom, a young policeman, is trying to solve the case of a boy found crucified who then promptly disappeared. Nik is researching Christianity to help out a youth group who are planning to make a contemporary movie about the life of Jesus, despite the fact that he doesn’t think too much of religion, and falling in love with Julie, a devout Christian who’s trying to show him what faith means. And Julie is lying in hospital, severely injured, recording letters to Nik to give her something to do with herself.
- The Surgeon of Crowthorne by Simon Winchester - ★★★. The fact that this book is subtitled ‘A Tale of Madness, Murder and the Oxford English Dictionary’ should probably have been a clue that this was going to be kinda ableist. This is the story of two men who played important roles in writing the Oxford English Dictionary - Professor Murray who was its editor for several decades, and Dr Minor, who was a prolific contributor despite being imprisoned in a mental asylum. I liked all the bits about how the dictionary was made, and the friendship between the two men, but I was uncomfortable with the way the author talked about Minor’s mental illness. He seemed to be really sensationalising it, taking a kind of glee in describing Minor’s delusions, the trauma in his past and the crime he committed, and referring to him as a ‘madman’ and a ‘homicidal lunatic’ instead of just saying he had schizophrenia and had killed someone while experiencing a delusion that the man in question had been breaking into his room to poison him. And there was this awful bit at the end where he says it’s an uncomfortable truth that we all have reason to be glad Minor spent decades locked up in an asylum instead of receiving the kind of treatment we’d be able to offer today, because if he hadn’t been imprisoned all that time he probably wouldn’t have made such great contributions to the dictionary. Speak for yourself, dude, I think it was tragic and I’m not glad it happened - ten thousand quotations are not more important than decades of imprisonment and misery. The OED took seventy years to write as is, so fucking what if we’d have had to wait a decade or so longer if Minor had anything else to occupy his time. Trigger warnings for murder, ableism, pedophilia (Minor had sexual thoughts about young girls, though he didn’t act on them as far as we know), self-harm and genital mutilation.
- Mastiff by Tamora Pierce - ★★★★. At long last, I can proudly say I’ve read every novel Tamora Pierce has published. This is the last book in the Beka Cooper trilogy, and Beka is on her biggest case yet: to track down and rescue a kidnapped prince from slavery. It’s dark and gruelling, but with moments of humour and sweetness. My experience reading this was rather different than most first time readers, since I’d been spoiled for a major plot twist early on. Not only that, but it was an inaccurate spoiler, and I spent the whole book waiting on tenterhooks for something far worse than what actually happened. So I didn’t get the same emotional devastation that most fans did from The Thing, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but eh, it is what it is. Trigger warnings for murder, child abuse and partner abuse.
- Sarah by Orson Scott Card - ★★★★. I read and loved a lot of Orson Scott Card books before I knew he was a bigot, and this is my first time going back to one of those books I loved to see if I can still enjoy it now. The answer is, I can, though not as much as before. It’s a Bible retelling - the story of Sarah and Abraham as a novel. I think it does a good job of fleshing out the story and making you care about everyone involved. It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but there’s one chapter in this book that’s the only piece of media I’ve encountered that makes me cry every single time I read it. But knowing about his views does detract somewhat from it. The first time I read it, I thought he was making it clear that the sin the men of Sodom committed was rape, but now I’m getting the uncomfortable impression that he thinks a man raping another man and consensual gay sex are sinful for the same reason.
- City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende - ★★★. A teenage boy goes to the Amazon with his adventure journalist grandmother to investigate reports of a mysterious Beast that’s been killing tourists and learn more about the People of the Mist, a nation of indigenous people who avoid outside contact. I really like the idea of this book - the plot, the setting, the characters - but something was decidedly lacking in the execution. The writing was awkward and clunky. I thought at first that it was a bad translation, but I checked and the translator is the same one who does Allende’s other books. So now I think the problem is that this is her first YA novel. There’s a trick to writing for a younger audience without sounding like you’re watering everything down for them, and Allende hasn’t mastered it here. I still liked it, though, I’d give it four stars if not for the issue with the writing. Trigger warnings for murder and genocide.
Glad you enjoyed City of Silk and Steel
The fundamental concept behind Kurt Vonnegut’s master’s thesis in anthropology at the University of Chicago was, in Vonnegut’s words, “that stories have shapes which can be drawn on graph paper.”
Some pretty fascinating story graphics from the mind of Kurt Vonnegut.
The book haul today courtesy of a $100 book voucher which I still haven’t used up, a book depository order of Fangirl, and oh yeah the rest is from the Best. Bookshop. Ever. Why is it the best bookshop, you ask? Well, see that attractive Lord of the Rings in hardback? Yeah, that was $25.