Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Reading in 2016

My Goodreads target for last year was 100 books - and at one point I spent 2 weeks lying on the sofa on antibiotics and it looked as though I was going to romp home. In the end I made it, but not nearly as comfortably as anticipated.

This year I am only aiming for 50. This week I've read the current pick for Vaginal Fantasy bookclub - a fluffy confection called Cupcakes, Trinkets and Other Deadly Magic. Such an easy read I polished off the rest of the books in the series so far, managing about a book a day.

I am intending to continue my reading by, and featuring, more diverse authors this year but no other real goals.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Tanith Lee

I read my first Tanith Lee novel only last year. I'd read some of her short stories in anthologies, and I'd been aware of her as a name in fantasy writing, but it wasn't until Silver Metal Lover came up for book club that I actually read a whole book. I liked it. But reading obituaries for her now I had no idea how prolific a writer she had been and I hadn't really noticed that she had fallen out of fashion. She isn't the first woman writer I have seen say "Suddenly, I just can’t get anything into print" though.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Robin McKinley: The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown

I don't know why it is, having loved The Hero and the Crown for years, and re-reading it often, that I'd never before read The Blue Sword. Maybe because The Hero and the Crown was so perfect, the idea of reading a book set in the same milieu but hundreds of years later seemed like it would diminish the perfection.

It really doesn't. The Blue Sword is also utterly wonderful. And the pair of them I think have just taken joint lead in my heart as featuring the most satisfying romantic relationships I've ever read. Much more convincing than Elizabeth and Darcy. Just for example. Both books feature very real-feeling slightly awkward young women, who grow into their strength. Both books feature male characters who want the women to be strong and essentially themselves. Unusually, it is the male lead characters who aren't entirely confident of being acceptable to the women.

I'm fascinated that they are Newbury medal winners. There is no explicit language or anything, but they read as much more adult than a lot of contemporary YA books. There are no coy euphemisms like "feeling every inch of his hips" pressed against her (IIRC when you are making out with a teenage boy, it's not his hips you are feeling), but you are left in no doubt of the nature of the relationships.

Lovely, lovely books. I need to force myself to not read them again straight away.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Terry Pratchett 1948-2015

"There was a story under every roof, she knew. She knew all about stories. But those down there were the stories that were never to be told, the little secret stories, enacted in little rooms... And one of the things a witch did was stand right on the edge, where the decisions had to be made. You made them so that others didn't have to, so that others could even pretend to themselves that there were no decisions to be made, no little secrets, that things just happened." Carpe Jugulum 1998

We've lost a great teller of stories, but he made his own decision when he was standing on the edge.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Reading in 2015

I may be the last person in the world to read the Mapp & Lucia books, but I am enjoying them! Although the small-mindedness of pretty much everyone concerned may be wearying after a while.

Last year I made a bit of an effort to read books by authors of colour, or featuring ethnically diverse characters. This year I intend to continue that.

Kate Elliott is an author who consistently writes interesting fantasy that is a long way from the Medieval-white-guys-in-Europe tropes - this is a great review of her Crown of Stars series. It is long, but worth the investment of time.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

N.K Jemisin's The Shadowed Sun

So this is the second book in the Dreamblood series, and I am enjoying it just as much as the first one. It's very Jemisin - world-building that goes above and beyond to create an intricate and varied culture, a many-layered plot and a meaty story that you have to do a bit of work to unpack.

I was reading it on the train last night, and was in a bit where one of the Sharers is in the dream world, when my ear was caught by the young men sitting opposite me. In a wonderful conjunction, one of them was telling the other about his experiences with lucid dreaming and the healing work he had done on himself through that.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Kindle Unlimited

The big question, is whether it is worth £7 a month. I mean, yes, I have been spending more than £7 a month on books, and yes there are eleventy-trillion titles available, apparently, but will it actually save me money?

I think possibly not.

I think Kindle Unlimited is fine if you are happy to take pot-luck, but less so if you have specific books you want to read. I went through my Goodreads "want to read" list, and none of the books on it were available on Kindle Unlimited. Of the authors represented in my "want to read" list, there were a few featured in short stories and anthologies. I don't know how the authors are getting paid for their work in this format, but the fee must be fairly low if they are all keeping their powder dry.

Someone in one of my Goodreads book clubs recommended a few books to me, so I shall read those - they aren't in a genre I typically read - while I'm still on the free trial and then we shall see. But honestly, I'd rather read what I want to read, even if it does mean paying for it.