cyphomandra: (balcony)
Just finished:

The Stranger on the Train, Abbie Taylor. I think I had this mixed up with The Girl on the Train, which has had a bit of recent buzz. A single mum struggling to cope with her 13 month old has an encounter with an apparently helpful woman which then goes horribly wrong. I did quite like the main character but this is all fairly obvious and never reaches those unnerving levels of disarticulation from reality that another book along similar lines whose author and title I have just gone totally blank on does. My brain gave me Douglas Kennedy's The Pursuit of Happiness, which it definitely isn't. Arrgh. Similar loopy font on the cover, though. Anyway. The gimmick in this of having someone fake a DNA cheek swab with a bloody tissue also would not work, just for anyone planning similar.

A Wizard of Mars, Diane Duane. I think the singular might be a Burroughs homage, because the wizards seem very plural. Latest (next one due out next year) in the Young Wizards series, and I liked it more than the last I read (at War) for having lesser stakes. The Mars bits are good and there's a lot of nice character moments. However, I spent much of my teenage years reading books in which various reincarnations of people worked out things (usually their relationships) in their subsequent iterations and think I exhausted my sympathy for them then.

Raising Henry: a memoir of motherhood, disability and discovery, Rachel Adams. Henry, Rachel's second child, is diagnosed with Down Syndrome shortly after birth. The book goes through the next three years, the backbone of which is the family, but the other main theme is Adams' academic work; she's a professor of English & American studies whose interest now is disability studies, but who started off studying sideshow freaks (the topic of her first book). I did enjoy reading it but I don't think I've taken away a lot from it.

In progress:

The Traitor,, Seth Dickinson. This has a "Baru Cormorant" on the title in the US edition. Titular heroine is smart and happy until her country is taken over by the might of the Masked Empire, at which point her intelligence is needed to get her as far up the ranks of power as possible in order to gain her revenge. I am about 100 pages in and need to stop mentally comparing this to Dorothy Dunnett, which isn't helping, but it hasn't really grabbed me yet.

Up next:

Yuletide-relevant material. The next two Imperial Radish books. The latest Elizabeth George, in which I really hope someone tells Havers that what she got away with last book was unacceptable, to say the least. Given the title - A Banquet of Consequences - I have at least a tiny hope.
cyphomandra: (balcony)
Just finished:

One Summer: America, 1927, by Bill Bryson. I stalled on this for quite some time when I was halfway through the second month with Babe Ruth (first month, Charles Lindbergh) and realised from the portraits on the back that I had Calvin Coolidge & Al Capone to go, which induced in me a sudden intolerance of yet more of the Straight Cis White Male model of history. I did end up finishing it, skimming; it is entertaining and there are more complicated stories at the edges, with the Mississippi floods causing significant black migration, and bits about the Ku Klux Klan, various anti-Semites (mainly Henry Ford) and anarchist bombings. I would describe it however as exceedingly weak on women. There is, for example, a mention of Margaret Sanger, in the eugenics bit, but nothing really about her work on birth control, which was ongoing during the period of this book.

The first two of Jacqueline Carey's Agent of Hel urban fantasy books - Dark Currents and Autumn Bones (each book is a season). I have had erratic experiences with Carey's stuff but these are endearing and although they tick a lot of the expected urban fantasy boxes (heroine has magic powers which are also source of angst; heroine describes her own clothing in unnecessary detail; heroine is torn between at least two amazingly attractive nonhuman males with accompanying angst) they also diverge enough or do so with enough charm that I have been won over. This is also the first book I've read in ages where the pop culture references all really work for me.

Also, Janet Lansbury's No Bad Kids: toddler discipline without shame, which I am thinking about.


I am just under a 100 pages from the end of Hild, by Nicola Griffith, which is excellent. Historical, in Dark Ages Britain, and a story about an exceptional woman who is also, equally, a product of her specific community and times, and not a present day transplant to an unenlightened past. An excellent antidote to the Bryson and to any number of assorted war- and grit- and erasure/objectification of women historical/fantasy books out there.

I am also a hundred pages into Diane Duane's A Wizard of Mars, which I started before I got absorbed by Hild. And about 200 pages into Poison Fruit, the third Agent of Hel book, because it arrived at the library and I got distracted.

Coming up:

All the bits of unfinished book. I also have Zen Cho's Sorcerer to the Crown, the last Terry Pratchett, and Emily St John Mandel's Station Eleven hanging around.
cyphomandra: fractured brooding landscape (Default)
Star Trek was the first show I read fanfic for, although given that it was all published it's never felt quite the same. Anyway, I actually started with the James Blish episode summaries, which were handy given that I only saw a handful of episodes, and I was a bit baffled about where all the books were supposed to fit in for quite some time. Then again, I did also try and work out how old the Famous Five should actually be, given all the holidays they managed to have. I have yet to entirely let go of my desire for a tenuously believably backstory :)

So. Two of these were re-reads - I didn't count The Wounded Sky, because skim-reading it in a secondhand bookstore over fifteen years ago did not leave me with anything other than a vague impression of aliens. I'll start with the entirely new (to me) one first. Those with fond memories should just skip to the last review, because the first three are a touch grumpy.

John M Ford, How much for just the planet. )

Diane Duane, The Wounded Sky. )

Janet Kagan, Uhura's song. )

Barbara Hambly, Ishmael. )
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Everything else I read in December that I haven’t mentioned earlier. I did a lot of travelling this month, which means a lot of reading, but this is still a little startling. Still haven't mentioned Paul Park's A Princess of Roumania, but I have The Tourmaline to read, and will get to it then.

New (to me) books: )

Re-reads: )


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