Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Intermittent update: Stuff I Read, spring '12

OMG, the last time I did this was the beginning of March. Surely I can remember a whole month ago? Surely? Ok, here we go!

I got caught up on Laura Crum's kindle releases. Well, today she released Hayburner, and I'm clearly slacking because I haven't read it yet. ;) But I'm almost caught up on her books! I'm still really enjoying them - she writes such good, realistic characters. Nothing in them makes me really grit my teeth - the men and women are multidimensonal and they interact with each other believably. And her place descriptions are amazing! Having read Slickrock I desperately want to learn to pack. She really captures the beautiful, remote, terrifying, captivating reality of the mountains. (I could do without all the calamities that befell Gail!) And maybe this sounds weird, but central California doesn't sound like such a strange place to me. I've been to the Bay Area, so I know what the climate feels like, and I can really imagine what Santa Cruz / Watsonville / Salinas are like. It's not such a scary unknown.

Interspersed with the Gail McCarthy books, my Kindle died. It was heartbreaking. I was without an ebook reader for like five whole days, yall. Luckily I had a paperback on hand - I bought it on a trip to Borderlands with my friend AWS last summer, but, urgh, it's made of dead trees and I have gone digital. Still, I was glad to have Soulless by Gail Carriger, dead trees and all, nearby in my time of need. It's steampunk-y, and I have never been all that fond of steampunk. Something about the gadgetry + the Victorian setting + the hipster love of the genre has always turned me off. But I really liked Soulless, and the rest of the books in the series. They don't take themselves too seriously, without (quite) descending into farce. The characters are good, the pacing is good. The first book is the weakest, and I never quite got over my annoyance with the twee names of the background characters, but they're solid.

Then, much to my delight, the new Holly Black book, Black Heart, came out. It's the third in a trilogy - White Cat, the first book, was utterly captivating. Red Glove, the second, was kinda meh, but that's not unusual for the second in a trilogy. (I mean, other than Ents/Gandalf the White, does anything happen in The Two Towers? Every time I reread LOTR, I completely skip all of Frodo's boring-ass journey into the land of blah blah gollum shadow. Second books are a necessary evil.) But anyway, Black Heart made up for the second book. They're YA, but very dark and gritty, and the main character is so confused and so likeable.

Continuing my streak of new-book good luck, I realized that A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison was out. Yes, I know. It's totally urban fantasy, and nobody wants to admit to liking urban fantasy. That's ok. I have no shame and I'll admit to it and you can sneak off and read the whole Hollows series without telling your snobby friends. Kim Harrison's books are really good urban fantasy - you have to like the genre to begin with, but if you do, you'll love them. Dead Witch Walking is book 1, and APB is book 10 - there will be 13 books in the series, so it's headed toward a finish.

Fresh off the heels of my success with Gail Carriger, I tried to read some shit called The Affinity Bridge by George Mann. I might go back to it... but I'm 16% of the way in, not captivated by the plot, and annoyed at the two-dimensionality of the characters. Like Soulless, it's steampunk, but it's boring steampunk.

Likewise, I made it 15% of the way into some utter shit called Hounded by Kevin Hearne. I guess it's urban fantasy, but it's shitty urban fantasy. The main character is 2000 years old yet thinks and acts exactly like a grown mortal adult, and there's all this background filling in that detracts from what little progression the plot makes in the first 15% of the book, and bahhhhh life is too short for this nonsense.

Then Aarene said I should read Divergent by Veronica Roth, and I am somewhat ashamed to admit to yall that I read it in one sitting. It's YA / dystopian future. There are plot holes you could drive a dump truck through. None of the characters quite come to life like Cassel Sharpe or Rachel Morgan did, but I could not stop reading it. I can't really tell you why it was such a good read, but it was.

I need to read The Hunger Games, because I have a sneaking suspicion that Divergent is, mmm, in the same vein. Anyway, consider Divergent to be a YA "airport thriller." It's captivating yet not very deep.


  1. Watsonville is one giant ass strawberry field as near as I could tell on our trip through.

    1. Nah, there's cowhorses and murderous cowhorse owners, too. ;)

  2. Thanks for the fun review, Funder (hmm, did not intend that pun, oh well). And yeah, Jason, lots of strawberry fields in Watsonville for sure, but just as Funder says, cowhorses and (at least potentially) murderous owners as well. I know em. Though I only imagine their murderous tendencies. I'm tickled that you enjoyed the sense of "place" in the books, Funder, cause that's one of my favorite things to write about--along with the horses. Its also something I really look for in books I read.

    I, too, think the Ents and Gandalf to be the only good part of the Two Towers. Along with Rohan and the horses. When I tried reading that trilogy to my kid, we barely made it through the last part of that book. And we didn't even start Return of the King--too dark. But we LOVED Fellowship of the Ring, which we read as we traveled across the country in our camper--how appropriate. Still, I like The Hobbit best--more playful and fun--and so did my son.

  3. Ok yeah, the way you felt about Divergent is totally what I thought about Hunger Games. Now I guess I should read Divergent...

  4. Divergent is Hunger Games light. Same feel, but not as well executed.

    I don't know why Divergent sucked me in either. It honestly wasn't that good of a book.. kind of juvenile... and YET I too read it one sitting.

    And then spent the rest of the evening looking at tattoos.

    So you recommend Holly Black? I'm looking for a new series.

  5. Everyone keeps hounding me to read the Hunger Games, which is why I haven't. I don't have time to start a book I can't put down!! If you read them, you'll have to let us know what you think.

    I'm more of a historical fiction kind of girl, but every now and then I'll branch out.

  6. I don't rate The Hunger Games, hey. I started reading HG while I was reading A Storm of Swords and kept putting it down. I did get through the whole trilogy though, but I just did not give a shit about the main character. If she died, I just would not care.

  7. You know, I started Kim Harrison's stories. I actually like urban fantasy, or mayby it's that I like Patricia Briggs's Mercy books, or Rob Thurman's Cal and Nico's books. I started Kim's books expecting the silly wishy-washy love interests (I was warned ahead of time) and I really liked some of the concepts, but the main character is not only stupid, she's not charming enough to make up for it, and she never seems to learn anything or make any effort to shed her stupidity. Plus the only vamp I liked was killed off, and when mz. indecisive twit suddenly went into raging heat over some jerk of a ghost that hadn't appeared at all in the series before that and I found out he had been introduced in some short story elsewhere, I had it with that series. >;P

    I'm glad to see that Crum's book is in e-reader format, I'll be picking those up.


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