Since I’ve been reading so much I’ve decided against doing full reviews of books I’m enjoying, instead I’m just going to list the ones I’ve read recently and give a quick paragraph or so about each one. Partly because I just can’t get inspired to write full reviews, and partly because absolutely everyone in the world would get bored. Anyway! In chronological order, since my last review (the ones I remember reading, anyway) –
Death’s Daughter by Amber Benson.
Hated it. I’m not going to lie, the book itself wasn’t bad I guess? The story was semi-interesting and the secondary characters were occasionally fun. But the main character, oh. Oh wow. I have not disliked a character that much, that fast, in a long long time. She is a little bundle of hate, that one. When she’s not thinking about how horrible other people are she’s acting like a spoiled brat. At one point she is speaking to gods, finding out how she can take on the powers of death to keep her family safe. One of those gods irritates her. Our main character reacts to this by throwing something at her head. She is whiny, hateful and childish. I only finished the book so that I could review it properly, then I decided not to do full reviews. Which means I gave myself pain for nothing. NOTHING. The good news is this is the only book I’ve read recently which I didn’t enjoy.
Old Man’s War, The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony and Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi.
These are the first four books in a Sci-fi series, and I enjoyed them quite a bit! My favorite part of the first book was the concept – older people, tired of growing old, join the military to protect humanity from unknown forces. All the people joining know is that somehow they will be young again, and supposedly doing good for all of humankind. I had my issues with it, but for the most part it was quite enjoyable, and each book in the series was better than the previous, in my opinion. Perhaps unsurprisingly, my favorite was Zoe’s Tale, which is actually a re-telling of The Last Colony, but from the perspective of a teenage girl. Who was definitely a key figure in the previous book, but did a lot of things off-screen so to speak, so you didn’t get the details before. I loved her, she is full of intelligence, bravery and snark. She also has -gasp- a female best friend who holds her own, is not a “sidekick” and is never competition for a romantic interest which was refreshing. I haven’t read the most recent in the series yet, but I’m sure I will soon.
Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
According to Wikipedia, this book is based on a fictionalized version of the An Shi Rebellion in China. I can’t say I know anything about that, as my knowledge of history is quite terrible. That said, I didn’t need to know anything about it to be swept into this book. It is long, and dense, and heart-string yanking. According to the Wiki page, the hardback version has 567 pages. So it’s not a short book, by any means. I’d been reading so many short, light reads before this that it did feel ever so slightly like running into a door at first, but I ended up really enjoying this book. While there is not an overabundance of female characters, the ones present felt real, intelligent and strong, making their way through a difficult society and situation as best they could. I would recommend it to anyone interested in alternate/fictionalized historical novels.
The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
Yup, another one by G.G.K.! I had heard his works recommended before, but the library never had any of his books in digital format so I didn’t get around to it until I thought to check again recently and they had these two.
Just like Under Heaven, this book is historical fantasy in nature, this time based on Moorish Spain. Another long, dense book with a ton of characters, most of which you will follow at one point or another. Often you will abruptly be following someone new when you least expect it, which can be jarring and hard to keep track of at times. This is a violent world, filled with religious intolerance, war, hate and all the unlovely things that come with it. There are three primary religions vying for power (or just trying to survive), the Kindath (who represent the Jews), the Asherites (Muslim) and the Jaddites (Christians). Most of our journey follows three main characters, one from each faith, which through various happenings end up meeting and becoming close. A massive war seems to be brewing, inevitable and inescapable, leaving little room to be friends with those who will surely feel obligated to be on different sides of it.
This book made me cry so hard, for so long, that the day after I finished it my eyelids were about three times larger than they should be. Yeah, I admit it. I’m a wimp. Guy Gavriel Kay has a gift of making you care about his characters, only to kill them. He is a jerk. A brilliant jerk. Oh, fair warning? His favorite trick is to make it clear something horrible and/or deadly has happened to a character, while leaving you in the dark as to WHICH CHARACTER. Sometimes for multiple chapters of horrible suspense. It is terrible, brilliant, and I can’t wait to read more of his books!
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Just what the Doctor ordered after two tear-inducing books in a row, this lovely book was a quick, fun read which had me smiling frequently. Very much in the vein of the Oz books, or Alice in Wonderland, but with a bolder, more genre-savvy main character. The narrator is a frequent, often amusing voice in the book and the main character is a brave little soul that I much enjoyed reading about. It gets a little dark in places, for what seems at first like a children’s book. It is not bloodless or without serious physical harm to people we care about, though I suppose that is more faithful to original fairy tales than many of our modern versions are. I found it fun and enjoyable and will definitely be looking for more works by this author. If you enjoy fairy stories and bold young ladies I suggest it!
That is all for now, but I’m sure if I don’t get sucked back into WildStar or too busy fixing up the house so that we can foster cats (more on this later, perhaps) I will read more books soon, and come back to talk about them!