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Seven Books - Qualified Perceptions
firstfrost
firstfrost
Seven Books
The Troupe (by Robert Jackson Bennett)
Another gothic horror-ish fantasy-ish book by the author of American Elsewhere. I think it's a little closer to fantasy and less horror, a little less memorable and a lot less disturbing, but still quite enjoyable. A weird vaudeville troupe travels around doing weird mystic things, and the main character gets told to shut up a lot. Three and a half stars.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (by Susanna Clarke)
I read this before, when it first came out, but I reread it again now because there is a book of short stories that kind of matches it. It wasn't the book I was expecting the first time, and, oddly, it still wasn't the book I was expecting the second time around either. It's not written in my particular dialect, though I do admire the embedded-with-footnotes and long-winded-sentence dialect. A flawed and human magician features in the return of magic to England, and then there's another magician, maybe a little less flawed but more human, complicating the plot. It's not an adventure, it's not a comedy of manners, it's a... it's more like a historical treatise, except it's not our history. You've probably all already heard of it.

The Ladies of Grace Adieu (by Susanna Clarke)
And here is the book of short stories. Well, first, this is probably the poorest Kindle edition of anything I have read. It seems to have been OCR'ed without anyone checking over the text afterwards, so there are all sorts of errors like "LTpon" for "Upon" and "Icing" for "King . (The Raven Icing!) But mostly, I don't like books of short stories as well as I like novels, but that's just personal taste.

Deadline and Blackout (by Mira Grant)
The rest of the trilogy starting with Feed. These are ridiculously readable books. Crisp action, significant deaths, good banter, tense, um, tension, and some interesting twists. The villains continue to be kind of moustache-twirlingly evil, but when the main premise is zombies, the point isn't nuanced subtlety. Four and a half stars for the whole series.

Strange Chemistry (by Christian Schoon)
I have a soft spot in my heart for the "doctor to strange huge aliens" SF story, as the Sector General books are some of the earlier SF I remember reading. This is technically an xenoveterinarian story rather than a xenodoctor story, but it's close enough. I have kind of mixed feelings about it. There are some places that I admire for not falling into obvious foolishness - the main character is having strange and unexplained psychic episodes, she worries that nobody will believe her - and then she tells them anyway. She has some self-imposed life rules she follows, but when they start to be a problem for her, she sits down and thinks about whether or not the rules still make sense for her to follow. And I also admire the way it pulled off a cliffhanger of the small B plot after resolving the main plot - that was polite, as far as finishing one book but leaving a hook for the next. Still, it didn't quite grab me as much as I wanted it to. The heroine is a little too careless, even after it's bitten her. The characters are kind of flat. The villains are very stompy. Three stars.

Jack Glass (by Adam Roberts)
Some review somewhere convinced me to buy this book physically from amazon.uk before it was out in the US. Still tempted by impulse purchases, even in these Kindle days. Anyway - it's a combination of golden-age-ish SF and golden-age-ish locked room mystery, with three separate mysteries (sort of), though the book tells you at the beginning who did it. One mystery is kind of gruesome, one is a bit annoying, and one I mostly figured out (which is about my track record for mysteries too). It was a pretty quick read, and I enjoyed it a lot, though I didn't care for some characterization in the ending, and I was puzzled by what seemed like a physics contradiction. All in all four stars.

The Tyrant's Law (by Daniel Abraham)
Book three - wait, it's not a trilogy! There's at least another book! Dah! This is probably my favorite fantasy series currently running, and Abraham doesn't seem to have slowed down yet. (Plus he's busy pretending to be S. A. Corey and writing a space opera at the same time). The second book was a little less strong than the first book, but this one picks up again; things are still being set on fire, but the characters have moved out of their initial reactions. The "bad guy" is probably one of the best villains I've encountered, because he's really surprisingly sympathetic. He's also appalling, but he's so human, and he's trying to do the right thing, he's just not really good at morality, and he takes everything really personally. This series is really starting to move onto my "make other people read it" list. (With the caveat that it's an unfinished series. But that's the only caveat.) Five stars.

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Comments
merastra From: merastra Date: May 31st, 2013 03:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Better than the real thing

You write the best book reviews! :-) Possibly more fun than actually reading the books, though maybe that's because I don't really read books anymore. ;-)

>> It seems to have been OCR'ed without anyone checking over the text afterwards, so there are all sorts of errors like "LTpon" for "Upon" and "Icing" for "King . (The Raven Icing!)

Raven Icing! LOL! :-)

>>The "bad guy" is probably one of the best villains I've encountered, because he's really surprisingly sympathetic. [...] This series is really starting to move onto my "make other people read it" list. [...] Five stars.

Ok, ok. You've sold me. :-) I'm a big fan of well-done badguys. Now to figure out whether to get a hardcopy or kindle version.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: May 31st, 2013 04:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Better than the real thing

I like reading commentary on TV/movies I've seen, but I found at one point that there was a TV show I was watching, and I would read the Television without Pity snark for it, but then I stopped watching the show and just read the commentary. That was sort of weird. It was like someone else was watching my TV for me.
fxz From: fxz Date: May 31st, 2013 09:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Better than the real thing

For a while there, I listened to a podcast applyng literary criticism to Glee and Gossip Girl, neither of which I watched, for much the same reasons ;-)
izmirian From: izmirian Date: May 31st, 2013 06:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
You know I accidentally started reading The Dragons Path recently because it was included as a bonus in Leviathan Wakes which I bought for $2 when you recommended it. I like the writing but it does have a lot of characters to come up to speed with at the beginning.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: May 31st, 2013 06:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Finding a secret second book at the back of Leviathan Wakes was really confusing. Especially because I hadn't learned yet that Daniel Abraham is half of S. A. Corey. :)

(It does take a while to get the hang of all the viewpoint characters, but I don't think he introduces new ones later, so once you have everyone, you're good.)
izmirian From: izmirian Date: May 31st, 2013 10:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes it was especially confusing because I thought I was only halfway through Leviathan Wakes and then suddenly it ended.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: May 31st, 2013 10:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was differently confused, because the page count and the percentage done varied so wildly - page 450 out of 530, and 48% done - that I was sure *something* was going on, but I couldn't figure out what it was. "There's another book at the end of this one" did not cross my mind.
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: June 2nd, 2013 11:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
It seems to have been OCR'ed without anyone checking over the text afterwards, so there are all sorts of errors like "LTpon" for "Upon" and "Icing" for "King

I am astonished at how tolerant people seem to be of this sort of thing. It's not just annoying, it's justification for an Inquisition.
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