Library Loot Wednesday

the bone witchI’ve only picked up two so far this week, though I have two more waiting to BE picked up. This week I got The Bone Witch, which is the first in a series that looks pretty cool, and Plotted, A Literary Atlas, which sounded cooler than it actually is. The maps are…odd.

plotted literary atlasI have been hanging out at home and reading a little more than usual – there’s not much else to do when it’s raining as hard as it has been! We’re under all kinds of flood and flash flood warnings. We are luckily at the top of a hill, so we haven’t had any true flooding close to home (though coming home from D&D on Saturday was a little scary). We do, however, have some growing damp spots in the carpet in the basement. Which is my bedroom/living space. Sooooooo that’s troublesome. I’ve got an air purifier and other fans and damp-rid bags, but until the rain stops there’s not a whole lot to be done!

 

Book Review: Furyborn

FurybornFuryborn
by Claire Legrand
Fantasy
516 pages
Published May 2018

I’d seen several glowing reviews of this book, but I was always put off by descriptions of events that happened millennia apart from each other “intersecting” and affecting each other. Like, no. The past can affect the future, but the future can’t change the past. That appears, however, to just be a problem in the synopsis of the book and not the book itself. At least in this, the opening volume of the trilogy, the future does not change the past. The book alternates between the two women, Rielle in the past and Eliana in the future. Each chapter flips back and forth. I was much more intrigued by Rielle’s chapters, but that could be because there was a lot more magic in Rielle’s time.

The magic system is really interesting! I love that through Rielle’s trials we learn so much about the magic system, each school and guiding saint and prayers. It’s really fleshed out and I enjoyed that.

The “shocking connections” aren’t shocking, they’re predictable. But the book was no less fantastic for it. I really think the synopsis is where the problems lie. The first couple chapters pretty much reveal all the surprises the description hints at, and the book details how we got to that point. (Mostly, anyway!) It was great, don’t get me wrong, but the description of the book feels a little misleading.

The GLBT content in the book is only about two sentences, but it was a surprise and made me grin.

I really enjoyed this book. I’m looking forward to the rest of the trilogy to discover the rest of Rielle’s story and what Eliana is going to do about it.

From the cover of Furyborn:

When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable―until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world―and of each other.

Book Review: Less

LessLess
by Andrew Sean Greer
Contemporary Fiction
261 pages
Published 2017

Less is a good name for this book, because that’s how I found it. Less than the love story it is purported to be. Less interesting than people say it is. Less funny than reviews would have me believe. Less than I was expecting. It’s a Pulitzer Prize winner, apparently? Maybe I just don’t “get” contemporary fiction. Because unless it’s YA, I very, VERY rarely like it. I didn’t like Arthur Less. None of his misadventures were that funny.

The book was a little meta; Arthur is told that the book he’s writing isn’t that interesting because his protagonist, a middle aged gay white man, isn’t interesting and no one cares about him. Which is exactly how I feel about Arthur Less. He’s a middle aged gay white man with the means to travel the world, and a boyfriend who would have married him if he’d only, I don’t know, asked. But he just floats through his life a little melancholy and woe is me. And not in the like actually depressed kind of way. Just – meh.

Arthur is BORING. Arthur is privileged, and boring, and annoying as all hell. This book just makes me want to avoid Pulitzer Prize winners. Who awards these prizes, and WHY? Also why does everybody rave about books like this?

Blargh. Don’t bother with this book. People who say it made them laugh out loud don’t know what they’re talking about, or perhaps haven’t read actually funny books. They should read something by Ellen, or Trevor Noah, or Tiffany Haddish. THEY’RE ACTUALLY FUNNY.

From the cover of Less:

Who says you can’t run away from your problems?

You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can’t say yes – it would be too awkward; and you can’t say no – it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.

Question: How do you arrange to skip town?

Answer: You accept them all.

What could possibly go wrong? Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer in residence at a Christian retreat center in southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last.

Because, despite these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings, and mistakes, Less is, above all, a love story.

A scintillating satire of the American abroad, a rumination on time and the human heart, and a bittersweet romance of chances lost by an author the New York Times has hailed as “lyrical,” “elegiac,” and “ingenious,” as well as “too sappy by half,” Less shows a writer at the peak of his talents raising the curtain on our shared human comedy.

Sunday Roundup

It’s been a busy week for me – or at least it’s felt like one. My back has been killing me all week, and the Doctor on Thursday told me I’d need to have nagging pain for a couple of months before insurance would cover an x-ray, but she gave me some muscle relaxants to see if those would help. They seem to be. I can at least be upright for a little longer now. But it means I haven’t spent much time on the computer this week, so I don’t have very many links of interest.

Let’s see – there was a fantastic Twitter thread on the jewelry Queen Elizabeth chose to wear for Trump’s visits, and the significance of it.

There’s a second volume of a list of Asian Science Fiction that a blogger put together.

A list of Muslim romance novels.

The 19 titles that Emma Watson’s feminist book club has read so far.

There is a Kickstarter for Pride Dice! Dice sets in the colors of various pride flags!

That’s all I’ve got for this week. We’re off to see a couple of Open Houses today – we’re hoping to be buying our first home early next year, so we’re getting a start on seeing what’s available in our price range. Hope you all had a great weekend!

Book Review: The Guns Above

the guns aboveThe Guns Above
by Robyn Bennis
Steampunk
351 pages
Published 2017

The Guns Above is what I’d call hard Steampunk. It’s about the mechanics of the airship, and the strategies of war, far more than about the characters. There’s little to no character development; Bernat, described as a “shameless flirt” in the cover blurb, really only flirts once, and that with Josette’s mother.

I confess to being disappointed with this book. I was expecting something more character driven, and instead what I got was Steampunk military fiction. There was a LOT of violence, injury, and death, as you’d expect in a real war, especially a war fought with rifles and sabers and cavalry. With the exception of the airships, this is a close-combat kind of war. Rifles are a new-fangled innovation; most people are still using muskets and bayonets. Pistols are rare. Airships are the best technological advancement either side has made, and they’re dependent on bladders of lighter-than-air gas and wooden frameworks. They’re fragile enough a single cannon blast, if aimed right, can take out the entire contraption.

The cover blurb makes it sound as if there could be a romance between Josette and Bernat – nope. Not in the least. Bernat is conscripted by his uncle (the General) to find some dirt on Josette that will let the General demote her without incurring the wrath of the people who view her as a war hero. Bernat’s entirely okay with doing this until some point in the  book where he changes his mind for no discernible reason. If he’s decided that Josette is a worthy Captain, I wish that had made it onto the page as a motivation.

And WHY were they at war? Even the characters struggle to explain it. They’re just perpetually at war for no good reason.

The action was good. The strategies were good. The characters and world-building fell very, very flat.

From the cover of The Guns Above:

THEY SAY IT’S NOT THE FALL THAT KILLS YOU.

For Josette Dupre, the Aerial Signal Corps’s first female airship captain, it might just be a bullet in the back.

On top of patrolling the front lines, she must also contend with a crew who doubts her expertise, a new airship that is an untested death trap, and the foppish aristocrat Lord Bernat, a gambler and shameless flirt with the military know-how of a thimble. Bernat’s own secret assignment is to catalog her every moment of weakness and indecision.

So when the enemy makes an unprecedented move that could turn the tide of the war, can Josette deal with Bernat, rally her crew, and survive long enough to prove herself?

Friday 56 – The Empress

the empressThe Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The rules are simple – turn to page 56 in your current read (or 56% in your e-reader) and post a few non-spoilery sentences.

This week my quote is from The Empress, the second book in the trilogy started by The Diabolic. The main character, Nemesis, is talking to the Emperor, who also happens to be her betrothed.

I’d feared he was reckless. Insane. Suicidally stupid. But he’d been underhanded, and he was even underhanded with me. And not without reason. I had posed a genuine threat to him. The part of me that wished to be his partner seared with the knowledge he hadn’t trusted me, and yet the part of me that scorched with love for him knew this was the instinct that would preserve him.

“Tyrus,” I finally said, my thoughts growing clear. “it vexes me. I’m offended you clearly don’t trust me. I resent knowing you are underhanded and a liar with me at times and I’m also . . . I fully understand why you do it. I believed Cygna’s fabrication. I believed her – and not you. I was foolish. So . . . so what am I to say? I’m glad you keep yourself alive and safe. Even if it’s against me. I’ve warranted your mistrust.”

This trilogy continues to be excellent, and I’m looking forward to book three! (My full review should be up next week.)