Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Witch King and new Ann Leckie! Plus a few other books I'm looking forward to.

Look what just arrived on my Kindle! Martha Wells' new fantasy. I have no idea what it's about and I don't care!

I've pre-ordered Translation State, by Ann Leckie, an Imperial Radch novel that features a Presgr translator (that culture was so interesting in Ancillary Mercy!) It will drop on June 6.

So I'm going to have a lot to keep me occupied while I travel for the next month! (Yes, I'm travelling again.)

What else is on my Kindle right now? 

A couple of romances:

Lucy Parker, Act Like It

Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner, Star Dust

An East of the Sun, West of the Moon retelling: Troll-Magic, by J.M. Ney-Grimm

Rachel Neumeier's Tarashana, which I've already read; it's in the Tuyo series, which I love.

A couple of famous philosophy books I figure I should read one day.

And some Victoria Goddard short stories.

Here's my Libby app, if we're going to be complete about this:

I'm reading Little Thieves right now, and it's excellent! Sort of a Goose Girl retelling, with a likeable unlikeable heroine (she's the maid!)

The Things We Leave Unfinished is a contemporary romance

Chilbury Ladies' Choir is historical I think

Merci Suarez is middle-grade contemporary

Oh, and C.J. Cherryh's Foreigner, (not in the picture) because I am definitely going to read it this time!
Does anyone else want to post a snapshot of your reading apps right now? Or a photo of the pile on your side-table? I'm curious!

Monday, May 29, 2023

MMGM: The Grace of Wild Things, by Heather Fawcett

The Grace of Wild Things is billed as "a fantastical reimagining of Anne of Green Gables," and that made me jump up and put it on hold at my library immediately. (So: excellent marketing strategy!) But, in retrospect, I wish I hadn't known that going into the story, because it set certain expectations in my mind and then the book kept knocking against those expectations. I would have preferred the experience of reading the book, feeling that it reminded me of something, and then figuring out or finding out at the end that it was Anne of Green Gables with witches.

But if I can get that out of the way, this was a lovely story, a worthy homage to Anne-with-an-E, and an enjoyable read.

I loved Grace: she's proactive, creative, fearless and positive, just like Anne. When she realizes that no one will adopt her because she's a witch, she goes herself to the witch's cottage in the woods and refuses to be intimidated by being shut in the oven.

The witch grew on me, and by the end I was really enjoying her reluctant relationship with Grace. I have a few niggling issues with how she was portrayed: (slight spoiler, you can read it if you highlight it)  I choose to believe she never actually cooked and ate any children, because that seems inconsistent with both her actions in the story and with the way magic seems to work—actually, I think my niggle is that the magic is fun and whimsical but isn't really developed beyond "oh look at all the crazy ingredients we have to gather for this spell."

My favourite part of the book was the friendships, which I don't want to spoil, and I did love the magic and wish there had been more of it. It was quite fun seeing how Fawcett translated many of Anne's escapades into magic spells with unexpected results.

There were a lot of things I wish had been developed further (even though it's a fairly long book), so I felt a little unsatisfied with certain aspects of the plot, but the setting and characters were delightful, and the book has so much heart! The themes of friendship, tolerance, helpfulness and forgiveness—not to mention trusting yourself and a healthy dose of girl power—were true to the spirit of Anne of Green Gables. So for Lucy Maud Montgomery fans, you won't be disappointed. Just check your expectations at the door and let Grace take you into her world.

I would recommend this for an older middle-grade audience, just because of its length and complexity.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg at Always in the Middle, where you can always find great middle-grade recommendations.

If you like dragons, come back this Friday for an interview with the author of Dragon Whisperer, a New Adult book about fire magic, dragons, and work-life balance when your fire magic means you work a lot with dragons! You could win a free e-book copy for yourself!

Monday, May 22, 2023

Recent reads

I had a lot of books on my phone for my recent trip: did I read them all? Did I like them? I have zero memory and must go back to Libby and Kindle and check ...

The Beekeeper's Apprentice, or, the Segregation of the Queen, by Laurie R. King. 

This one was promising, but I just can't do audiobooks. The main character is a precocious teen who befriends Sherlock Holmes, and I think I would have liked her if I had been reading, but on audio she seemed to go on and on about how clever she was, and it started to bore me. I might pick this one up as a book if I'm in the mood for a nice setting and what will probably turn out to be a cozy mystery. Verdict: successfully put me to sleep on the plane!

Castles in Their Bones, by Laura Sebastian.

This was fun, if a little predictable. Three princesses trained to be spies and assassins head to three different kingdoms to marry princes and bring down the kingdoms from within. I didn't end up finishing it because a book on hold arrived on my phone when I was three quarters of the way through this one, and it looked way more interesting. Verdict: if you like the idea of assassin princesses, this fits the bill. An easy read, suitable for the end of a long flight.

This was the way-more-interesting-looking book. And it was! I was a little afraid that a book mashing demons with aliens and a donut shop might be trying too hard, or being too obvious in its metaphors, treating the spec fic elements as cute props. But I thought it was all handled quite deftly; it was funny and heartfelt. Gorgeous writing. Verdict: Compelling enough to blot out several hours of travel.

Republic of Dirt, by Susan Juby.

This contemporary humour novel set on a BC island was as funny as expected. A mule provided much hilarity. Themes of responsibility, parenting and found family were explored with some truly endearing characters. Verdict: Juby never disappoints. Excellent laugh-out-loud-so-the-people-on-the-airplane-look-at-you-strangely choice.

Chalice, by Robin McKinley.

An easy re-read. Not my favourite by her, but the bees and honey magic are lovely. Verdict: Robin McKinley can always take me out of whatever tedious circumstances I'm in and send me to a beautiful place. Great for delayed flights.

This was exactly as advertised: lots of detailed engineer-solves-problems-while-enemies-shoot-things scenes, and a very snarky, self-hating, unreliable narrator to tell us what's what (except that he never tells us what's truly important: we have to figure that out.) Not sure how I feel about the ending. Verdict: highly entertaining, and I probably would have got more out of it if it wasn't being read in little snippets here and there.

Strong Wine, by A. J. Demas

I think I finished this one before I even got on the plane. This is the most feel-good series ever! Romance, family dynamics, kidnappings: it has it all, in an awesome fantasy-Mediterranean world. Verdict: Makes any situation better. Must always have all three Sword Dance novellas
available on my phone.

That's not the total list: stay tuned for more!

Also stay tuned for another author interview, with dragons!

One of the Louis Vuitton stores in Paris: