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Bunches of ebooks - Qualified Perceptions
firstfrost
firstfrost
Bunches of ebooks
* for ebooks, # for audiobooks.

* Embers of Heaven (by Alma Alexander)
This is a sequel to The Secrets of Jin-Shei, set four hundred years later, in the fictional China's Maoist era. It's sadder and grittier than the first book, with a strong romantic "oh, for the the way things were" streak, but it's a true sequel, not just some stuff that happened later. I didn't find it quite as perfect as Jin-Shei was, but it was mostly worthy. The main thing I had trouble with was that the narrative wanted the Mao-equivalent to be sympathetic but wrong - the sympathy part works when you're talking about equality and freedom, and works much less well when you're talking about executions and death camps. But it's mostly not his story, it's the story of Amais and the other women. Four stars.

* Zoo City (by Lauren Beukes)
Not my standard book, this was in a Humble Book Bundle. Look, it's an urban fantasy (sort of) set in not the US or London! Instead, it's fantasy-Johannesburg with one self-contained bit of magic, grungy and brutal. I think this was a very good book that wasn't quite for me, so I'm not going to say much more about it.

* Midnight Riot (by Ben Aaronovitch)
The cover made this look more grungy/gritty than it actually was. Urban detective fantasy in London, creepy and funny and a lot of fun. (Hmm, the UK edition has different covers and different titles and a different series name. "Rivers of London" is apparently the original title, and the cover is a lot less grunge.) Anyway. One review calls it "a cross between CSI and Harry Potter" which isn't far wrong. The main character is clever and a little cocky, but not perfect; the semi-romance is seriously underplayed, which was nicely different. There's some amount of deus ex to the ending, but that's kind of par for the course when there's an underexplained magic system. Four stars.
* Moon over Soho (by Ben Aaronovitch)
I also read this one, the second in the series. It's more complicated, with more things going on at once, but I still quite enjoyed it. I like the main character, and I like that he's kind of the same flavor of geeky as me.

* Space Eldritch (collection)
A Lovecraft/Space crossover book. I bought this because Howard Tayler (author of the awesome Shlock Mercenary web comic) has a story in it, and I think it was the best of the lot. There are two types of theme collections - the ones that are a collection of previously published stories, such that the stories only loosely fit the theme, and the ones that are written for the anthology, which are often a little too similar. Shadows Over Baker Street was one of the lesser examples of the second kind, and Machine of Death is probably the best. Anyway, this is somewhere in between those two poles - there's really more blood than most Lovecraft properly has, but some of the stories are decently scary. Three stars.

* Pirate Cinema (by Cory Doctorow)
This is about 50% Political Point about Intellectual Property Law, and about 50% story. It was another book in the Humble eBook Bundle, and I probably wouldn't have picked it up on my own, but I enjoyed it surprisingly well, probably because I'm pretty strongly on the "copying is not theft" side. If you have different opinions there, this book will seriously piss you off. So as such, I think there's some amount of storytelling to the choir going on, and I feel vaguely guilty about consuming more media that only reinforces my own prejudices, but... I still enjoyed the story anyway. Best propaganda I've read in a while. Three stars.

* Crewel (by Gennifer Albin)
So, on the one hand, you can get the first five chapters for free via Kindle. On the other hand, the book didn't start really annoying me until after the fifth chapter. The magic system is interesting. The dystopia is pretty and oppressive, sort of like the Hunger Games capital with bonus sexism, and the story opens with a chilling bit of action. But then there's all this fuss about rebelling except the rebelling is mostly being snarky (like calling the head antagonist by his first name); the oppressive overlords react to the rebellion/snarkiness by Brutal Threats, followed by more brutal demonstrations of threatfulness, followed by extra bonus demonstrationy threats, just in case it wasn't clear. Kind of overkill, especially when there isn't a pause for "Okay, you're going to behave, right?" The competitors in the love triangle are hard to distinguish (even sometimes for the protagonist!) except by hair color and position; they don't seem to have much personality difference, because they don't have much personality. Then, there's things like (spoilers! also TW:suicide): okay, so the oppressive overlords need the protagonist, because she's the only replacement for the person who keeps their entire society running, who is about to retire/die. And the OOs have just started to develop experimental magical brainwashing! So, they sensibly test the brainwashing on someone more expendable - the target gets brainwashed into an empty-eyed smiling person, who then kills herself. Thus, they decide they should probably do a few more tests, a week at most, before they use the brainwashing on the protagonist, because the kinks ought to be worked out by then, and it's too risky to have her... continue to be snarky. Argh. Two stars.

The Emperor's Soul (by Brandon Sanderson)
This is a novella - short but lovely. Ebooks might make me read more novellas - it's about the right length to walk all around the edges of One Thing Happens. It reminds me a little bit of the Jin-Shei books - a fictional China-ish place, with themes of idealism and meaning and how you become who you are. Five small stars.

#The Beautiful Mystery (by Louise Penny)
The most recent of the Inspector Gamache mysteries. Argh! Noooo! Arc plot cliff hanger. The mystery and the monks were interesting - the Surete political arc plot kind of relies on people being more randomly evil than seems plausible, but it does make for snappy dialogue. Anyway, I mostly just include this for completeness.

Current Mood: tired tired

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Comments
ironrat From: ironrat Date: December 11th, 2012 04:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like the British covers for Midnight Riot and Moon Over Soho much better. I guess stupid Americans just can't be trusted to pick up a book that's got a fancy cover! Apparently, there was some other kerfuffle over the covers because the American version has the main character in silhouette, which some thought was a ploy to obscure his race. Because fancy British cover art and racial minority wizards are really just too, too much for America to handle. I need to go lie down just thinking about it.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: December 11th, 2012 05:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Since the cover was changed from a black guy to a silhouette guy, the idea that it was to obscure his race seems more plausible than if they had just had designed it as a silhouette in the first place. :-\
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