[identity profile] monissaw.livejournal.com
Currently reading Fated, by Benedict Jacka. Don't know whether I'll finish it though. It's first person of the sort I don't like (the generic sort of voice) and is slow to get going (all the back story needs to put in somewhere, you know). But I'll give it to the 1/3 point.
[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
I was looking for something in the bedroom when I uncovered a little pile of books that had been buried under some upcycling. Two were by Diana Wynne Jones: The Spellcoats and The Crown of Dalemark. I devoured the first book, thoroughly drawn into the first person narrative and intrigued by the Undying and the weaving of spells and stories into cloth. The second book went more slowly, as I found the third person narrative less engaging, but it was almost as fun as the first one.

One observation I made to myself as I went along is that it takes either a heck of a lot of effort, or a great deal of skill, or perhaps both, to write stories that read so effortlessly.

Apparently these are books #3 and #4 in a series. Ooops. But maybe the first two books will show up in a charity shop someday soon :D. And who needs what I was originally looking for when there are BOOKS?
[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
Am wondering whether to bother continuing with Kushiel's Dart. It has a strange lack of immediacy, which means everything you're reading feels like backstory (and a lot of it at the start probably was backstory) and you're forever waiting patiently for the story to begin. That and I'm not enjoying the story very much anyway. As it seems to be written by someone looking back on their life, it's presumably hopeless to hope they might realise how ruthlessly and cynically they and the other Night Court people have been exploited. It's distasteful to me to read this book, tbh.

Eh.

I have to stop listening to other people's recommendations for what to read....
[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey.

It must be possible--surely--for a woman's story not to involve brothels.
[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
To the Pole by Caroline Hamilton;
Free Fall by William Golding
and
The History of the Hobbit: Part Two by John D. Rateliff.

The charity shop didn't have Part One. Eh.
[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
This should strictly be #8, as I read it before I read Gaining Ground, but I haven't felt able to write about it until now. Sometimes I have to let a book settle down in my mind before I can decide what I think of it, and in this case that book was The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.

A childless couple live in a cabin in a remote part of Alaska (yes, this seems to have been a theme in my reading, lately--fortunately I have no children to run out on, unless two cats count) and either adopt an orphan child, Faina, or create her out of snow. It's a retelling of a Russian fairy tale, apparently, and has the big fault of all fairytale retellings imo: it tries to make a lot out of a little. For example, Robin McKinley's retelling of Sleeping Beauty, Spindle's End, is a beautifully written book, but why does it take so damn long to tell a story everybody knows? I was bored pages and pages before the end.

In many ways, this is a good book. It's decently written and effectively evokes the solitude and the intensity of what few relationships exist. At times, it seems a bit too convenient--the friendly neighbours who pitch in and save the farm, the moody young man who's won round by...well, I don't know by what, to be honest. The book doesn't say. But because the material is thin, it's also repetitive and somewhat tedious at times.

For me, the best part was when the childless Mabel, inspired by one of the possiblities for losing her Snow Child, insists on giving a dead hen to the child's pet fox. Mabel knows it's ridiculous but she also knows she has to do it. It's a demonstration of strength and a declaration of independence by a woman who seems initially not to have it in her to survive the Alaskan wilderness.

A decent read, anyway. If you like fairytale retellings, you'll like this. But for me the narrative's persistent refusal to come down on the side of either orphan or snow child was irritating. Although I don't even know why. Somehow, there wasn't enough magic in the story to justify not admitting there was none at all.
[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
But there have always been fantasy novels that break the mould, and it's these more distinctive, individual explorations of the fantastic that are my favourites. So, if you think you don't like fantasy – or even if you do – check these out. They don't have dragons or sexy vampires, but they're filled with real magic.

The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll;
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke;
Ægypt by John Crowley;
The Magus by John Fowles;
Mortal Love by Elizabeth Hand;
The Course of the Heart by M John Harrison;
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson;
The Silent Land by Graham Joyce;
The City & the City by China Miéville;
A Traveller in Time by Allison Uttley.

I've read Jonathan Strange and, er, possibly the Hill House book. I have a vague memory of reading that recently. Damn, I miss my GR account.

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