salinea: Emma Frost, sitting comfortably (chill)
Where did I previously leave off? Shit, that long ago? I need to remember to be at least trimestrial about this!!

Havemercy, Shadow Magic, Dragon Soul, Steelhands by Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett
A series of fantasy novels with steampunk dragons by the authors of the shoebox project.
Those are very average stories. The writing is fluid enough and the characters endearing enough that it is enjoyable to read; but the plots and worldbuilding are seriously lacking. It gives me the impression of treading water, all shallow glitter, no depth. Especially it's frustrating how most of the books are made of entertaining and sometimes witty characters interacting with characters in a slashy or canon gay way; and then oh shit, we need to have a climax; let's go with a rushed plot resolution! Most characters have very little agency; and even when they do, it doesn't feel very earned by the progress of the story. Quite aggravating after a while.
There's also very few female characters. And a maab character presenting as female whom the narrative is very unclear whether they are trans or a crossdresser.
The dragons - in themselves - are pretty neat, but they are the only details of world building that actually are. I also liked that the big war was ended in the first volume; and the rest were stories dealing with the aftermath of said war. There are not enough books dealing with aftermaths.

Roman Blood, Arms of Nemesis, House of the Vestals, A Gladiator Dies Only Once, Catilina's Riddle, Venus Throw, Murder on the Appian Way, Rubicon, Last Seen in Massilia by Steven Saylor
A series of Murder Mysteries set in the latter days of the Roman Republic.
I've been enjoying those a lot. Very solid storytelling and characterizations; that really manages to set the world of antique Rome and the complex mix of quasi modern urban life and completely foreign thinking that was the norm then. Murder mysteries are a great way to explore that world - and its politics - although it feels like it tries too hard to showcase the important historical events in ways that make the plot suffer from times to times. Though with the importance of corruption and muddled morality, some of the stories take an almost Noir atmosphere which is very interesting to see in this setting. I also appreciate the sense of sensuality in the writing - details like cooking and sexual appeal being underlined very frequently (and in a very bisexual way).

Captain Vorpatril's Alliance by Lois McMaster Buhold
Bujold's book about Ivan, at last!
I was... a little bit disappointed with it? I enjoyed reading it a lot; there was a lot of fun bits to it, and it developed a lot of my favorite characters, not only Ivan, but By, Duv, Alys, Illyan... but it had a very... soft middle. Very mellow and lacking in plot. And the eventual plot resolution was a little bit silly. And I resented its Fruits Basket syndrome (happy het ending for EVERYONE! I mean, not that I wasn't expecting Ivan/By seriously, or that I mind By being bi in itself; but going out of your way to have him bi and set up in a het romance when most of the major characters in the series have already ended up in het couples was... pushing it to an uncomfortable point.) Tej was pretty endearing, and the whole In Law thing rather hilarious in execution. And OMG, the fan teasing, THE FAN TEASING!

Iorich by Steven Brust
You know, I'm not sure what's wrong with me and Vlad Taltos bookss. I read them and I enjoy them, and two months after, let alone 6, I have absolutely no memory about what happened in them.
Oh wait, was it the one with Aliera being accused and Vlad having to play lawyer? Yeah, I think it was.
Yeah, it was cool.

Man, I'm the absolute worst at reviewing Brust's books.

Spy Hill by Dusk Peterson
A war story/gay romance novella. It was okay I guess? Except like most Peterson stories it has that undertone of preachiness with is irritating.

Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch
Third book in the Rivers of London series. Continues being very cool, very well written and atmospheric urban fantasy. The metaplot advancement is slow, but continues. Not much else to say.

Fer de Lance by Rex Stout
So I tried reading a Nero Wolfe book, and so, I was a little bit bored? Not bad, just not really anything to grab my attention.

Eight Days of Luke by Diana Wynne Jones
Neglected adopted kid liberates "Luke" from his magical prison and he becomes his BFF but shit, now "Luke" 's family is coming to try to get him.
Awesome, utterly charming story. Loved the narrator and how ressourceful he was, this is a delightful, extremely charming as well as dangerous version of Loki; but I especially want to hit this book with most writers - fan or pro - of comics Asgard stuff to tell them "THIS IS HOW YOU WRITE ODIN KAY?" ♥
(poor Tyr, tho).

Snake Agent & The Demon and the City by Liz Williams
Those are... somewhere between urban fantasy and magical realism (perhaps with a dash of cyberpunk too) crime novels set in Singapour. Very neat atmosphere and world building, filled with rich details and Chinese mythologies. The characters are pretty neat so far, although I'm very unsure about the treatment of the female characters (lots of threats of rape and being sold into sexual slavery - at a cosmic level, since hell - which is a big part of the setting - has a lot of brothels) and of the portrayal of lesbian relationships in the second novel. I think I need to read the two other novels of this series before I say more...

A Night in the Lonesome October by Zelazny
The players and their animal familiars gather, to take part once more in the ritual that will or will not open the doors to Cthullian creatures. Seen from the pov of one of the animal familiar.
That novel is still as awesome as I remember it. Very fun and quirky.

The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson
A Heian era fairy tale rewriting about a fox falling in love with a man, and how far she'll go to try to seduce him.
This is a lovely story, with great writing and wonderful bittersweet nuances in characterizations, somewhere between a romance and... something else? Not sure exactly how to describe it, but in many ways it felt much more like a literary novel than a genre one.

Keeper by Greg Rucka
A noir/crime stories about a bodyguard hired to protect a doctor working at an woman's health clinic as she recieves a lot of threats from a Pro Life movement.
I thought I might as well what prose works Greg Rucka has done, and... well actually I found it not very much to my taste. It's a solid story and certainly well told; but I think it lacks what I like in crime stories (the exploration of a peculiar setting) too much for me to really enjoy.

Oh, also, I reread the Administration series, and it is still the best.
salinea: (Default)
I'm gonna be fast because I read most of those books ages ago

Rusalka by CJ Cherryh
Russian flavoured fantasy: a cynical party boy / dilettante must flee the city when he's accused of sorcery when the husband of the wife he was seeing dies suddenly; and enrols the help of a young hotel stable boy who has a reputation of ill luck and fears being a sorcerer himself. Out in the forest, they encounter quite a bit of sorcery.
There's some great ideas and flavours to the story, and I liked the characters' dynamics. I thought the pacing and plotting overall was much weaker though. Anyway, if you like Cherryh's other fantasy story - especially Forterss series, you'll probably like this one.

The Sharing Knife: Passage by Lois McMaster Bujold
Fawn, Dag and Fawn's brother go on a boat trip.
This volume has more plot than the previous ones, and as a result I rather liked it more. I also liked the setting, the use of the river, and the new characters of this book (especially the female boat captain who had a name which I forgot). On the other hand, I still don't like Fawn and Dag all that much and consider this series one of Bujold's weakest, so you know...

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
When his family gets murdered, and toddler escapes to a cemetery and gets adopted by the ghosts who live there, as well as the resident Undead. Each chapter cover a different stage of his childhood as he grows up.
Very nice story about growing up, transformations and the relationship to death. Great writing, pacing and characterisation.

The Book of Atrix Wolfe by Patricia McKillip
Many years ago, on a battlefield at the gate of Pelucir, something horrible rode in and spread death because of the magic of the great wizard Atrix Wolfe, although nobody knows it and he has been hiding since, and the ghosts of the event still haunt the area. Nowadays, the young prince of Pelucir is studying magic when he finds a strange book written by Atrix Wolfe.
This is a gorgeous, wonderful, subtle and awesome book and you should read it.

The Two Pearls of Wisdom by Alison Goodman
In a chinese flavoured fantasy world, Eon is, despite a lame leg, a candidate for the position of Dragoneye, one of the 12 people channelling the powers of the Dragons of the Chinese Zodiac in order to ensure prosperity and good weather to the empire. Eon is also a girl in disguise, a secret which would cost her direly if it was discovered. But when the ceremony when the dragon of the year, the Rat one, chooses which candidate will connect with him, nothing happens as Eon and her master had foreseen.
A pretty good story, with nice plotting and solid characterisation. I really liked Eon as well as one of the main secondary character, Dela, a transwoman and Emperor's favourite, and who is pretty kickass. The book ends on a cliffhanger for a second volume which is not yet out.

Night Shift by Lilith Saintcrow
Boring by-the-number paranormal romance. I think that was the last chance I was giving to this genre.

The Twilight Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko
Third volume after Night Watch and Day Watch, this is probably the best of the series so far, with all three stories of the volume being very solid and well tied with one another. Excellent plotting full of twist, tying threads in unexpected ways, and many interesting ideas as well as many interesting characters, both old and new. One of the things I love about this series is how the writer sets up a very manicheist world in theories, then keeps on playing with the concept of Light and Dark thus defined in ways that bring a whole lot of greys and ambiguities until they are near undistinguishable.

Jhegaala by Steven Brust
Vlad Taltos walks into an Easterner village, trying to find out about the background of hi mother's family. The villagers eye him warily. Then the bodies and mysteries start piling up. Poor Vlad Taltos.
A very good Taltos story in the style of Taltos stories. I was missing the sarcasm, it had been too long.

House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones
Tied to the Howl & Sophie stories, but not really a sequel. Young book-loving overprotected girl is charged with looking after the house of her distantly related Great Wizard of an uncle. Hijinks ensue.
Not my favourite Diana Wynne Jones story by a lot. Not really bad either, but the beginning was fairly slow and I kinda got annoyed at all the awkwardness, but not a bad story overall.

February 2016

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