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.