Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Closing tabs/light reading roundup

Life re-entry is always a bit overwhelming, especially when it's so hot in NYC and I've been away for many weeks. I have just spent a couple of hours responding to emails, making travel plans and to-do lists, etc. and feel a little calmer about my chances of getting everything I need to done before school is properly underway.

(I made an initial stab at laptop battery replacement effort on Monday, but the tech support call got cut off and I didn't have the time or psychological wherewithal to pursue further - must either get back at that tomorrow morning or hand it over to an office staff person if I really don't think I am going to be able to get it done myself!)

I'm planning to fight the Facebook creep by belatedly posting some catch-up vacation photos here, but first I'm overdue for a long light-reading roundup and some closing of tabs.


A good list of reading recommendations.

A non-embarrassing classical music scene in a blockbuster movie! (Via Nico, and I totally agree. B. and I saw this movie the day we arrived in London - movie-going is a good activity for the jet-lagged and sleep-deprived....)

Light reading, international travel edition (that's three weeks' worth, I guess, though I was still working pretty frenetically on Johnson and Shakespeare that week in England):

Max Gladstone's latest Craft book, Last First Snow (these books are extremely good - I found this one a little slow in opening, but I suspect it had more to do with poor attention on my part than anything to do with the actual writing).

A reread of Garth Nix's wonderful Abhorsen sequence, starting with the most recently published by chronologically earliest and then proceeding with the central trilogy - ah, if only there were way more books as good as these and in this vein!

Blake Crouch, Pines (NOT recommended - I skimmed through it with increasing incredulity and dislike!)

Sam Reaves, Mean Town Blues (not bad).

Maggie Mitchell, Pretty Is (I liked this a lot - the voices of the two main characters could be more clearly differentiated, and the ending is implausible, but the writing is extremely good, and the protagonist teaches Richardson!).

Then (ah, my Amazon recommendation algorithm is going to flog all sorts of unfortunate things for years to come - I was in Cayman still, I like digging in to a long book that is first in a series!) the first Dune (a mixture of appealing and silly) and then subsequent two installments, which become increasingly silly - I think I can do without reading any more of these!

By then I was in England, and took up a very good and suitable urban fantasy series set in many of the same places I was spending time: Benedict Jacka's Alex Verus series. These are extremely good, very appealing light reading: not quite as funny and original, I think, as Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London books, but certainly worth mentioning in the same breath.

A very silly book I regretted wasting my time on: the storytelling isn't bad, but I really just wish characters wouldn't stop to have sex in the middle of my nice suspenseful genre fiction, I wouldn't have picked it up if I realized it was more on the romantic suspense lines....

Two installments that I LOVED in a new series by Rachel Aaron (haven't read her others and brief sampling persuaded me I wouldn't necessarily like them as much, but these are delightful, whimsy notwithstanding): Nice Dragons Finish Last and One Good Dragon Deserves Another. Less "indie" in sensibility than Martin Millar's extraordinary Kalix the Werewolf books, but not totally dissimilar in sensibility and appeal.

Elizabeth Hand's Wylding Hall (quite good, and yet flawed by a deep romanticism that is not at all subjected to critique - I think I am tough on Hand's books in the way that one is overly critical of books that have a lot in common with someone one would want to write oneself - but I really prefer the Pamela Dean vision of such things).

By now I think I was in Iceland....

Peter Robinson's latest Inspector Banks book, In the Dark Places (not earth-shattering, but well-conceived and -executed - these books are always readable).

An amazing novel I've had on my Kindle for a little while but for some reason hadn't tackled (possibly due to the word "Love" in the title), Alaya Dawn Johnson's Love is the Drug. Highly recommended.

A reread of Nos4A2 because I couldn't find anything I liked and decided it would be better to have something good for the second time than something bad for the first, and then a reread of Lauren Beukes' The Shining Girls to see if the two had as much in common as I remembered (yes and no - definitely share the same DNA - Beukes' main characters are more fully individuated, but Hill's storytelling is perhaps slightly more gripping).

The first two-thirds of The Three-Body Problem, which I enjoyed very much but found too little character-driven to keep my attention during a day of travel (I will finish it tomorrow or the next day I expect).

On the plane back from Iceland, grippingly, a book I was excited for at the time but somehow never quite opened up (or maybe I did and found the opening pages bleak?), but it is GLORIOUSLY appealing and what I most like: Nicole Kornher-Stace's Archivist Wasp. Throw this book in the face of anyone who suggests that the dystopian YA genre is all tapped out!

Then a reread of the four Arnaldur Indridason books I had in my Kindle library, to get into the Icelandic frame of things (the most recent four, basically - there's a new one out in England but not yet in the US I think). These books are thoughtful in a way that rewards rereading: I like the way he gives different characters the detective role in different books (a good way to avoid the kind of series burnout that afflicts certain writers I will not name).

Then, last night, a really delightful novella by the superb Mira Grant (she is a genius of light reading), Please Do Not Taunt the Octopus.

That's it for now, I think....

1 comment: