What are we reading?

Mistborn:  A famous economist recommended this one to me so I read it at a conference!  It is good.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library:  I’m reminded reading this how much more safe American children’s spec fic is compared to British children’s spec fic.  There’s no danger in this book, very carefully and specifically every possible danger is neutralized long before it can be a concern.  Mr. Lemoncello is worried about lawsuits (or cares about first doing no harm) in a way that Mr. Wonka never could be.  A fun light read.  After I finished it, DC1 read it three times IN A ROW.  I only read it the once.

Drive:  It’s ok.  It seems a bit facile.  I’m not sure how useful it actually is or how much advice I’d want to take from it.

#1 finally read the first Libromancer book (where “read” means read the first two chapters really carefully and then started getting irritated at every female stereotype masquerading as a person, skimmed the rest skipping large chunks, rolled her eyes a lot, and read a few of the reviews online).  She agrees with the reviewer who says, “Hines seems to have a reputation as one of the liberal good guys in SFF. Which is odd, because every female character here is a dreadful adolescent male wank fantasy.”  She notes that the Princess books were gawdawful, all “rape as plot point rape as back story rape rape rapity rape,” along with dreadful adolescent male fantasy. (Again, reading reviews just now, I’m not the only person who noticed this– here’s a comic one reviewer links to!)  It’s sad when “As a human being, he really tries” is a fairly high bar.  Should be baseline human decency.  #2 has lower standards for female characters having to actually be characterized as people rather than paper dolls and is looking forward to the next book in the series.  We both agree that the series would have been much better had Seanan McGuire written it.  Of course, MANY things would be better if Seanan McGuire wrote them.  It’s weird because his Goblin series doesn’t have such cruddy female characters or plot points and is actually somewhat creative in terms of relationships and things.  But you know, no romance in there.  He’s not ending up as an adolescent male fantasy.  Or maybe 2-d characters just work better in the Goblin universe… that may be what’s going on– Hines does obvious farce well but sucks at real character development, relying on standard tropes.

A Matter of Taste by Richard Lockridge– this one without his wife.  It was a super creepy noir psychological thriller (not my usual fare).  First sentence is gripping though, “Although he was well into his fifty-second year, Mr. Oliver Hillard had not yet killed anyone.”  As always (n=3) with the Lockridges, the first chapter stands as an entrancing vignette, though a particularly creepy one in this case.

Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger. The problem with Gail Carriger books is that after reading the one you’re on, you often need to have the next one right away. And the next one HASN’T BEEN PUBLISHED YET. This is especially true with the penultimate book in each of her two published series thus far. Patience, #2 (who has this on her amazon wishlist for Christmas), and wait for the last book in this series to come out so you don’t have to WAIT A YEAR to find out what comes next.

What do you recommend for holiday reading?  What don’t you recommend?

19 Responses to “What are we reading?”

  1. NessieMonster Says:

    Oh my, I finished reading waistcoats and weaponry in a couple of days this week! I do love her work. Can’t wait for the next one! :-)

    I started Rivers of London today, by Ben Aaronovitch, and its cracking me up, smiling/laughing in public good. Mixed race London-born copper meets a ghost at a gruesome crime scene and gets sucked into… Something…. I don’t know what as I’m only a chapter in.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I have Aaronovitch on my to-read list (#2 here). And I DO WANT more Carriger! I think the first book in the Custard Protocol comes out next year.

      • NessieMonster Says:

        The custard protocol? Sounds intriguing.

        I’m sold on Aaronovitch after just a few chapters. It is very London-based with lots of English scarcastic humour so I don’t know quite how well it translates. Guess you’ll have to let us know. :)

    • chacha1 Says:

      I love the Rivers of London books. He cannot write those fast enough to suit me.

    • Rosa Says:

      I thought the humor translated well, and I really like the characters. My only small complaint, after the most recent book (which was otherwise very very good but maybe only because I have opinions about housing towers and Le Corbusier) is that Peter’s not showing as much character growth as I’d like. But that’s a general genre flaw of detective series, I think. All the secondary characters get to grow more than the main one.

  2. Liz Says:

    I’d been enjoying Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier, until the holidays attacked. It is a nice escape book for me because it takes me into the woods. Hoping to get some more time with it this weekend.

    I’ve also lined up a book to read with my future sister-in-law as a “Christmas tradition” — The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas. Never read it, but heard some promising reviews.

  3. Steph Says:

    I’ve also heard Mistborn is good! Nudging it further up my to-read list…

    I haven’t read Libromancer or anything by that author, but the quotes by that reviewer pretty well sum up my reaction to the first two Game of Thrones books – really didn’t live up to the hero-worship given GRR Martin over his women characters in my opinion (though I’ve heard later books get a little better).

    I re-read “A Great and Terrible Beauty” over Thanksgiving after many years – it’s a fast-paced story about magic and intrigue at a girls school in Victorian England. I enjoyed it, though my memory is that the 3rd book in the trilogy goes to pieces halfway through, so I give it a slightly cautious recommendation.

  4. J Liedl Says:

    I powered through Carriger’s first series early this year. So much fun!

    For YA, I heartily recommend E.K.Johnston’s The Story of Owen which is contemporary rural fantasy with dragons and dragon slaying. The sequel is coming out in the new year and it is absolutely riveting, just like the first.

    Now I’m reading “Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy” which is a fun romp with women of the American Civil War. Lots that I already knew but some new stuff and all well-presented. I’m tempted by the latest Sarah Morgan book but I have so many on my ereader and I have a mountain of marking, too.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I’m rereading it now because I’m trying to get a hint of Sophronia (or Soap). I hope that if they’re not at all in the first series they’ll show up in the third and it isn’t that they die in the last book of the finishing school series!

  5. Tree of Knowledge Says:

    I agree that the rape back story for Talia in the Princess Series has problems. He reduces it to a motivating plot point, especially in the earlier books, when it could be handled much better given the world he created. But many retellings of Sleeping Beauty like to gloss over the rape, which is troubling since in many ways it is a story about rape and female lack of power. In older versions of “Sleeping Beauty”, especially “Sun, Moon, and Talia,” the rape of Sleeping Beauty is not only explicitly part of the tale but is often repeated, and her complete lack of recourse and dependence on her rapist is an important part of the story. Why Hines turns her into a lesbian warrior as a coping mechanism, I don’t know. That’s a stupid cliche that misses the mark on multiple levels. The books do have problems, and the lack of depth in dealing with rape is one of them. But I enjoyed the series anyway.

    I have no idea what’s up with the Libromancer series though. I read the first one and was totally icked out by the dryad character. I ended up reading the second one because none of the other books I wanted was in the library and I thought, it can’t be as bad as I remember. I was wrong.

    Also, I’m confused. Is #2 looking forward to next Princess or Libromancer book?

  6. Cloud Says:

    I just read The Marriage Bureau for Rich People for book club, and it was a lot of fun. Not sure what I’m going to start next. I just loaded up my “want to read” shelf on GoodReads thanks to Scalzi’s gift guides posts!

  7. Rented life Says:

    Husband is reading Grave Goods by Ariana Franklin. He also is rereading a book about the history of Christmas trees. I will be starting a scifi book soon–I dont normally read space stuff but the author is a friend and it’s his first self-pub. No idea what I’m getting into! (http://www.amazon.com/Stardancer-Song-Forgotten-Stars-Book-ebook/dp/B00PURIF1O). I have an extra copy if anyone wants…Amazon messed up.

  8. chacha1 Says:

    I had no issues with the Libriomancer books. Maybe because I perceived that the magical/mythical creatures (including the dryad) are drawn from literature/legend which was mostly written by men so it makes sense that they would be male-centric … but more likely I was predisposed to like the books, and any antifeminism didn’t slap me in the face. Haven’t read anything else by Hines so I can’t comment further on his work. :-) Will just say, my bar is currently sufficiently low that if there is ONE really well-drawn character in a book I am usually satisfied. Often, there are none.

    I have in my TBR “Girl On A Wire” and “The Flower Drum Song,” but before I get to either of those I may be re-reading the James Bond books (if you want something that is now considered politically incorrect …!!). Because I want their shelf space for something else.

  9. MutantSupermodel Says:

    I am WAY out of touch with Carriger and it’s mostly because I try and do all of my reading from library books and my library doesn’t like her :( I need to update my wishlist on Amazon to add her though. I think I finally did finish the Parasol series and it took me WAY longer than it should have because of the what whole reason thing.

    I finished reading Authentic Happines by Martin Seligman and am no working on Learned Optimism also by him.

  10. Rosa Says:

    I’ve been on an “only cheerful media” diet lately, because of winter and the news. In the middle of rereading A Civil Campaign, actually.

    I made an exception for Roxane Gay’s An Untamed State and it is a beautiful, well-written, worthwhile book, but I lost a night of sleep to it and a lot of peace of mind. I kind of wish it hadn’t turned up in my library reserves til spring.


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