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text 2017-04-20 19:29
Current stack from the public library
Silent Spring - Rachel Carson,Linda Lear,Edward O. Wilson
Crocodile on the Sandbank - Elizabeth Peters
Paranormalcy - Kiersten White
Snake Agent - Liz Williams
Spook Street (Slough House) - Mick Herron
The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
A Beautiful Truth - Colin McAdam
A Morbid Taste for Bones - Ellis Peters

Its a good thing that I have a relatively unscheduled weekend coming up!  I've got a friend coming over to help me haul an old, old TV out of the house & off to recycling.  Then I've got to take a couple of boxes of books to the used book store.  Anything they don't want will go to the Calgary Reads book sale in May, to support literacy in the community.


Spring cleaning and spring reading.



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text 2016-05-01 17:50
Books read (or not!) in April
Ink and Bone: The Great Library - Rachel Caine
The Terracotta Bride - Zen Cho
Every Heart a Doorway - Seanan McGuire
Point of Knives: A Novella of Astreiant - Melissa Scott
Frost Burned - Patricia Briggs
Swords and Scoundrels (The Duelists Trilogy) - Julia Knight
A Gathering of Shadows (A Darker Shade of Magic) - V E Schwab
Shadow Scale - Rachel Hartman
Just One Damned Thing After Another - Jodi Taylor
Worldsoul - Liz Williams

Books started: 13 (including the one I'm currently reading)

Books finished: 10

Books not finished: 2


Genre breakdown: No prizes for guessing!


What progress on Mount TBR? Yep, I think I'm making slow progress here but it'll probably all go horribly wrong next time I come across something listing what's due out this year! 


Book of the month: A clear win for A Gathering of Shadows, which left me immediately wishing for the next book in the series, and any author can hardly ask for more!

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-05-01 09:08
Worldsoul - Liz Williams
Worldsoul - Liz Williams

I bought this book a while ago and, I have to be honest, it's been sitting on my shelf because while it's supposed to be the first book of a series, I understand it's quite possible that none of the subsequent books may ever make it into print. So I approached Worldsoul with a degree of suspicion that grew as the number of pages remaining diminished, wondering if the author would be able to tie up the story enough - I'm pleased to say there is a conclusion, though it certainly leaves stuff unexplained enough for further books to have room to explore. 


Worldsoul is set in a massive city of the same name, a place where Earth and various other realities join together and which had, until recently, been ruled by the Skein. Because this is a place where reality and myth or story come close to one another, it's quite possible to let things loose from the library and among its attackers are the disir, with a version of Loki playing a major role. This is a world where tales of all sorts are real, with our protagonists (a librarian and an alchemist) coming into contact with a wide variety of beings as a result. 


I've seen other reviews for this book commenting that they found it hard to follow and, it's true, it's not the most linear book going - that's mostly because there are usually at least 3 different plots happening at the same time (gosh, like real life?) rather than spoon-feeding of the reader about everything. I liked that, though I can see how that might be confusing for some people. 


Anyway, I enjoyed it - the 3.5 stars is mostly because of the fact that some things are left hanging and there may not be a resolution. However the world-building is solid, the writing deftly done especially in terms of the use of descriptive language, and I will be more than happy to read anything else that Liz Williams puts out in the future. 

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text 2015-12-06 14:32
The Poison Master - Liz Williams


Recommended by Miriam for its great world building. She warned me that there were stuff I wouldn’t like about the characters, though. She was right.


Synopsis: Alivet lives on Latent Emanation, a planet where humans are slaves to the Lords of Night. She’s an apprentice alchemist, and is planning to save up enough so she can buy her twin sister from “embonding”, but when one of her rich clients die, she’s forced to seek the help of stranger.


Overall enjoyment: Welp. There were some really nice things. There were some very bad things. Mostly, and I’m going to have to caps it, THERE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ROMANCE IN THIS BOOK. The romance with Ghairen was bizarre and grotesque, and it should never have been written. Other than that, it was fine.


Plot: I liked how she tells the story of Alivet in parallel with John Dee, showing how Latent Emanation came to be in the first place. It integrates the world building with the main plot without making it over-descriptive and boring. The intrigue and mystery part was also nicely done. The only thing that sucked was the romance. It comes out of nowhere, it’s badly developed, and has a nonsensical conclusion.


Characters: Up to a point, they were nicely done. Alivet is capable without being super-human, resourceful without being unrealistic, courageous without being stupid. Once again, the only bad part was the romance. It seemed like Alivet had a double personality: one who went through the story, and another whose sole purpose was to get horny whenever Ghairen was around. Her reactions to him were so out of character and artificial, one way this book could be fixed is if someone went through the text simply deleting all those passages. They are completely unconnected to the rest, have no part whatsoever on their character development, and would probably not be missed by anyone (much less the characters themselves).


World/setting: The main part, the one everyone who reads this book compliments. It is, indeed, quite a nice piece of world building. She mixes science-fiction with alchemy and fantasy, and a bit of religion for good measure. Some aspects could have been more explained, or better exploited (I would have liked to know more about the native races of those other worlds, for instance), but that would have been a plus, not a necessity. 


Writing style: WHY DID THERE HAVE TO BE ROMANCE IN THIS?? My honest theory is that Liz had already finished writing her book, but when she tried to submit it for publication, someone (maybe the editor) told her she absolutely HAD to have romance in it, since it’s YA. So she went back and tried to see where she could shove some kind of romance. Maybe she thought about Alivet and Ghairen’s daughter, but decided against it. Finally, she decided it had to be Alivet and Ghairen, and then tried to make it happen, but she was already in love with the original story, so she didn’t want to change anything. That is the most likely explanation for how bizarre those romance passages are… On the other passages, though, the writing is pleasant and straightforward. 


Representation: There isn’t much… There are aliens, though.


Political correctness: Again, WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON WITH THAT ROMANCE?? It was all kinds of crappy. He’s domineering, over-controlling, he locks her up on her room at night, and actually shackles her to him once. He doesn’t trust her, or tells her anything. Oh, yeah, also, SHE’S 16 AND HE’S OVER 40!! And don’t tell me that his species experiences time differently, HE HAS A DAUGHTER WHO’S ONLY ONE OR TWO YEARS YOUNGER THAN ALIVET HERSELF. That’s just disgusting. Speaking of disgusting, the very first time that they kind of get it on ALIVET BELIEVES HE IS RAPING HIS DAUGHTER. Really. For serious. Because, of course, there is nothing like a child molester to get a girl’s juices flowing, am I right, ladies?


Up next: How to Be a Heroine, by Samantha Ellis

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text 2015-09-13 13:34
Let's get started - trilogies and series in SFF
Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie
Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch
The Thief - Megan Whalen Turner
Snake Agent - Liz Williams
The Blade Itself - Joe Abercrombie
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms - N.K. Jemisin

Anyone perusing the SFF section(s) of their local bookshop or library will not be surprised to hear that there are a lot of trilogies and longer series in SFF - if you're new to the genre, or returning after some time away (as I was, a few years back), this can be incredibly intimidating. For a while, I didn't read anything that I knew was in a trilogy or longer series until I knew all of the books had been published - I'd been burned too often by books that took forever to come out, whose publisher had dropped them partway through or where it felt like the author just lost interest towards the end.


So, if you're anxious on the subject, here's 6 suggestions for you to try - these are the first books in either trilogies which are completed (or very soon will be) or longer series with at least 4 books published:


Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (trilogy will be complete next month) - once Breq was the mind behind an entire spaceship, now she is trapped inside a single human body and looking for revenge. If you enjoy this book, you might also want to check out the Vorkosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold.


Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (book 6 due out later this year), published in the US as Midnight Riot - our protagonist, Peter Grant, is a probationary police constable just starting his career in London when he discovers that magic is real and is recruited to the division which deals with it. If you enjoy this series, you may also want to check out the Felix Castor books by Mike Carey, which series starts with The Devil You Know.


The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (4 books published in this series so far) - Gen is a thief and boasts that he can steal anything, then he's set a task which seems impossible even for him. If you enjoy this series, you might also want to check out Garth Nix's series of books of the Old Kingdom - I'd recommend you start with Sabriel.


Snake Agent by Liz Williams (5 books published in this series so far) - set in Singapore Three, it's essentially an urban fantasy buddy cop series, with Inspector Chen being helped by his demonic counterpart, Zhu Irzh. If you enjoy this series, you might also like T.A. Pratt's series of books featuring Marla Mason, which start with Blood Engines.


The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie (complete trilogy, other books being published in the same universe) - this was one of the series that got me back into reading fantasy again after becoming thoroughly sick of the farmboy-prince trope that was everywhere. If you enjoy this series, the other one that similarly got me hooked again was the Gentlemen Bastards series by Scott Lynch, which starts with The Lies of Locke Lamora.


The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin (complete trilogy) - an absolutely stunning series with gods and demons and all sorts of thing going on, I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy books. If you enjoy this series, you might also like Elizabeth Bear's trilogy set in a world like Central Asia, which starts with Range of Ghosts.



Happy to receive comments, tell me what you think I've missed and why!

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