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: Emma Frost, sitting comfortably (chill)
Inda, The Fox, King's Shield, & Treason's Shore by Sherwood Smith
A very interesting series which I am at a loss as how to sumarise. It's about this guy who we follow from his childhood to adulthood, and as we do the story expend to include a whole lot of characters and the scope of the plot widens in nifty ways; but it's still mostly about this guy, Inda, who is kind of a tactical genius, born of a noble family in a country that turns out to be the barbaric, warlike and imperialistic upstarts of the region, which scares more than a bit their more civilised & peaceful neighbors and are also feeling threatened by the big byzantine Empire (- and at this point I start cracking myself because I guess that makes them the fantasy Barrayar, which is funny because asides from being a tactical genius, and, well, gathering himself his own army out of sheer happenstances and charisma while very young and away from home, Inda is nothing like Miles. Although Evred is a little bit like Gregor.)
The narration was told in omniscient 3rd person PoV, which i've realised that I've grown very unused to, and I generally doesn't like. It works for the sake of this story though, although it frequently left me feel a bit remote from the emotional action. In particular, despite having romantic & sexual relationships having a strong effect on the plot (in very various ways, this is a world where heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, demisexual, polyamourous, monoamourous, & so on people all clearly exist and are represented at some point in the text) it never feels like a romance, because we're often plainly told of shifts in relationships. It's a bit off putting at times, but definitely not bad either.
The plot is overall very good; focused on the military and political events as well as how they affect all sorts of characters. In the end quite affecting.

Fearless by James Campbell
Sequel of Dauntless. Don't have much to add from what I said of it, it's more of the same.

Rivers of London & Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
Very good urban fantasy crime stories set in London about a freshly minted cop who ends up apprenticing as a wizard to deal with weird crimes. I especially enjoy the writing, in those, very nice quality of atmosphere and mood. Very, very British in ways both modern and old for all you guys on my flist who seem to like that sort of things. And the protagonist is a smartass which I always enjoy (also biracial, which is nice).

Dangerous Grounds, Old Poison, Blood Heat by Josh Lanyon
Two elite partner cops having arguments about their relationships and whether they should have one while fighting bad guys, etc. Mostly decent.

Storms & Stars by Jaydon Neena
Space opera stuck on a desert island planet. M/M novel. It was... err, not very good yet kept me entertained for some reason.

Smiley's People by John Le Carré
Third & last of the George Smiley series. I... don't actually have much to say about it? But it was good. Probably as good as Tinker Tailor. Great conclusion.

A Strange Place in Time by Alyx Shaw
A M/M fantasy novel with very little plot, and mildly entertaining banter & characters. I feel like I was much more entertained by it than its quality warranted, actually.

Archer's Heart by Astrid Amara
The Mahabharata as a M/M romance novel. Asides from the fact I feel it short changes Hindu philosophy quite a bit, this is a pretty solid M/M novel and an entertaining read.

Bundori by Laura Joh Rowland
Boring crap. I remember way back when I read Shinju I thought ti was boring too. Why did I try this series again?

Shadow of the Templar by M Chandler
Pretty good M/M caper series about a FBI and a catburglar. The catburglar character is very good as a cross between the mild-mannered badass & the smooth & smug badass character type ; and there's some very fun banter (if sometimes overly indulgent). I also like the solid use of the supporting cast; and there some very emotional twists here and there to keep the plot entertaining. Also a plus, Amanda Waller makes an appearance as a supporting character at some. (I mean, not really, but hardass middle-aged CIA agent who is an awesome pain in the ass of our FBI protagonist - I couldn't not picture her as Amanda Waller OKAY).

February 2016

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