[reading] What have you read recently?

Guvnor

The Guvnor
Staff member
Lies Sleeping, Ben Aaronovitch.
Rivers of London 7
You know when a TV drama becomes a soap opera, or a continuing drama? When the relationships are intertwined, multiple story arcs are ongoing, and the audience has invested in the main characters?
This is that book in the Rivers sequence. This book delivers an occult police procedural (is that a sub genre now?) well grounded in London's past, imagined and real. It satisfactorily resolves some arcs present since book 1, whilst leaving space for one key thread to continue.
The only problem with this stage of a continuous drama is that novelty can be lost. I feel Aaronovitch has deftly avoided that this time. However, read 1-6 first.
As roleplayers this has become more of a troupe based story, and a good example of how a Rivers RPG story would unfold, or a Liminal one..
8/10
 
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Guvnor

The Guvnor
Staff member
Dying Light
(Logan McRae #2)
by Stuart MacBride

Grim, dirty, procedural set in the Granite City of Aberdeen. Well written descriptive prose and well handled dialogue. Excellent alternative to Rebus now Rankin (IMHO) has gone off the boil. 'Lazarus' McRae is a DS, which works well when he goes a bit rogue, it's negotiated with his superior officers, some of whom are delightful characters in their own right.
You could start with this one, but the first three are in a modestly priced trilogy..
Recommended tartan crime. 8/10
 
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Maddz

Rune Priest
Embassytown, by China Miéville

Finally finished this one; I've been reading it on and off since before Christmas - and it's a second attempt. This is one of a pile of print books I am working my way through deciding whether to keep them or not. Unfortunately, much as I like Miéville as an author, this one gets a thumbs down.

This is a science fiction story about language and how it affects people and other sapients. The human diaspora has happened, and one of the planets on the edge of known space has a race of sapients who cannot lie. However, communication with these sapients is difficult; they don't perceive language in the same way as humans - a single Ariekene speaks in Cut and Turn simultaneously and does not perceive a single person's speech as anything but random noise. It takes two empathically linked and augmented humans to communicate with them by speaking simultaneously. These paired humans become the Ambassadors; even if not twins, they become artificial twins. All hell breaks loose when a new type of Ambassador is introduced to the Ariekenes; to survive, they need to learn how to lie.

I found this rather a difficult read; not because it was told in the first person, nor because of the difficult concepts, I just thought the middle of the story went on too long with not very much happening. The first section setting up the world-building was fine; the end section dealing with the aftermath was fine, it just seemed the middle was a piece of extended scene-setting written in real-time.

I hesitate to recommend this one.
 

Maddz

Rune Priest
It was the cataloguing site I found when I first started creating an online catalogue years ago... Click through the link in my sig and you'll see why.
 

Maddz

Rune Priest
The focus on LT is your catalogue; other places like GoodReads the focus is on what you've read. I do post reviews there for books I own, but don't track my reading in the way GR wants you to do.
 

Maddz

Rune Priest
The focus on LT is your catalogue; other places like GoodReads the focus is on what you've read. I do post reviews there for books I own, but don't track my reading in the way GR wants you to do.
Just spent the weekend logging 321 DVDs and vinyl singles. I don't think that can be done on GR (perhaps the DVDs). To come are vinyl and CD albums...

A lot of the adaptations are included in the series information already on LT.
 
Underland by Robert MacFarlane. Eminent nature writer turns his attention to places underneath the Earth rather than on it. He explores limestone caverns in the Mendips, the Greenland ice sheet and a nuclear waste storage site in Finland, amongst others. Not his best book, sometimes a bit prolix and I thought he struggled to keep to the theme at times - he spends a lot of time on the surface for a book concerned with the Underland. Still interesting though and I learned a quite a lot about places I'd never even heard of before (e.g the tunnels beneath Paris).
 
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Maddz

Rune Priest
Foundryside, by Robert Jackson Bennet.

First of a series, this is a rather odd fantasy. A millenia ago, the world was trashed by the collapse of the Occidental Empire, who built scrived devices to alter reality. (No, not really nano-computers, honest.) Now Tevanne in the east has discovered scriving and has built their own empire based on the use of scrived devices. Their empire is based on merchant houses (not the Venetian Empire, honest) in a city that is either the campos - the merchant houses territories, and the surrounding commons. Each campo is it’s own sovereign state and the inhabitants live lives of luxury. The commons are a complete contrast - filthy, poverty-striken, the inhabitants struggle to survive.

Sancia is a thief. Hired to steal an object from a safe box on the waterfront, she sets in motion the devices perfected by the Occidentals and triggers the continuation of their war and destruction.

Recommended, I look forward to book 2.
 

Guvnor

The Guvnor
Staff member
King of Kings
Warrior of Rome 2
Harry Sidebottom


The twisting labyrinth of deception and betrayal around Ballistae (our hero) swirls around him but he never quite understands it. The author, however, is weaving an historical delight of place, culture, politics and military history.

Look, I am firstly an historian, a gamer and an academic. I loved this book. However it's oddly a tale of a man sidelined and plotted against, never quite sure why.

It's that third series of Breaking Bad where nothing quite happened but all the bricks were placed to support what came later.

So I liked it, but it's difficult to recommend, except to say.. I bet historical buffs, gamers and academics will grok it.. if you want deep emotions and characterization, nope.

6/10
 

Maddz

Rune Priest
Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Winters, edited by Sarena Ulibarri.

A free book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers programme in exchange for an honest review. Like the earlier Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers anthology I reviewed a while back, the stories are set in a post-climate change world, but here the focus is on a change to a snowball Earth or people living in the polar regions.

As with the earlier anthology, I enjoyed the book. However, I did find some of the science a bit hand-wavium; people eking out a living in the ruins of pre-change Earth have high tech science? Really? I also found the gender-fluid nature of most of the stories a bit in your face - which won’t please the people who should read the stories. I personally don’t mind it, but others will, and I feel that will lose potential audience.

Recommended.
 
The Eternity Artifact by the improbably named L. E. Modesitt, Jr: Expedition to a long dead alien planet and exploration of ancient city. Reads like Prometheus rewritten by Mr Logic from Viz. Nothing remotely interesting happens and the characters are all made of cardboard. Dreadful.
 

Maddz

Rune Priest
I thought I'd posted some reviews but they seem to have disappeared. Sigh.

The Boundary Magic series by Melissa F Olson

An urban fantasy series set in Boulder, Colorado. It's a bit gun-bunny in places, the heroine is an veteran, having served in Iraq, and I do find the reach for a gun attitude a bit much at times. Apart from that, the series is interesting enough for me to get books 4 & 5 when they were on offer recently.

My review for the 1st 3 books:

Boundary Crossed (1), Boundary Lines (2), and Boundary Born (3)

The series starts with Allison 'Lex' Luther working a night shift and encountering two kidnappers trying to buy nappies for a baby - who turns out to be Lex's niece... Cue mayhem as Lex rescues her niece, dying again in the process. It turns out that Lex is a boundary witch - the boundary being the one between life and death - and is insanely powerful. She is introduced to the local supernatural community - the vampires and the witches (the other supernaturals - the werewolves - had been driven out some years previously), and takes service with the local vampire community to protect her niece who turns out to be a null - a person in whose presence other magic does not work. She is supposed to be trained by the local witch clan, who consider boundary witches to be an abomination, and is working with a vampire enforcer who she is attracted to.

The second book deals with another supernatural woken by someone boosting magic, and the third book deals with Lex's birth family. (Lex and her sister were adopted, and nothing was known about their family, their mother dying in childbirth).

I didn't have any high expectations for these, but they were not bad. I did think at the end of the first book that the reason Lex survived the IED that killed the rest of her platoon by unconsciously draining the life force from her comrades, but it turned out not. Otherwise, there were no great plot twists. I'd call the books workmanlike, but not worth paying full price for. Whether or not I purchase any future instalments depends on whether they are cheap or not.

Boundary Broken (4)
Lex is in a quiet phase, clearing Boulder of remnant spirits - basically so she can drive safely. Then things start happening - two Wyoming werewolves go missing, and Lex is asked to help their alpha find them. Turns out the bad from #2 is stirring things up, hoping to return to Colorado by replacing her mother as leader of the local witches and destroying the vampire leader. Things do sort of turn out well - but there are significant changes in the supernatural community as a result.

Boundary Haunted (5)
Lex is dealing with the changes in Colorado, and then the leader of the Atlanta vampires asks for her help. Somebody is laying the Civil War remnants - and as he is a Civil War veteran, he is understandably upset. Lex finds out who is responsible and deals with them.

Again, neither this nor book #4 is very good or bad, but what I would call an acceptable read. My main quibble is the amount of guns involved. Yes, I know rural Western USA, army veterans, yadda, yadda, but I do feel the books would be better reads if the characters didn't seem to reach for a gun as the first option. It's odd, because other urban fantasies don't seem to come across as a poster child of the NRA, but these do.
 

Maddz

Rune Priest
False Value, by Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London 8)

In which Peter is supposedly no longer gainfully employed by the Met, Beverley is heavily pregnant, and so Peter gets a job with the Serious Cybernetics Corporation in their Vogon Department. Yes, loads of HHGTTG references. Basically, he's undercover investigating a tech billionaire - who is interested in Babbage Engines.

The usual fun romp, but more Lovecraftian than previously. I also found it a bit more serious in tone.

Recommended.
 

Maddz

Rune Priest
Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier

“Last night I dreamed...”

One of the most famous first lines in literature. The nameless heroine - who is only referred to as Mrs de Winter (her identity has been subsumed into that of her husband’s identity), Max de Winter, her husband, Mrs Danvers, the sinister housekeeper, and, of course, Rebecca herself, the first Mrs de Winter.

Part romance, part crime fiction, part gothic mystery, this is a classic of the genre. There are echoes of Jane Eyre - the mousy second wife, the over-blown first wife and the sham marriage, but it’s all handled very well.

Recommended
 
Did Jamaica Inn my first year at High School, and as with most books I’ve been made to read wasn’t enamoured of it. However, in later life I’ve read a few of Du Maurier’s novels and really enjoyed them for their gothic atmosphere and depiction of the West Country. Borrowed Jamaica Inn from the library the other day and am rather looking forward to reading it again all these years later.
 
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