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Books. I have read some.

I have read books! I have had thoughts on them! These thoughts include but are not limited to:

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss - Very entertaining. The first straight-up, sword-and-sorcery fantasy that I've read in a long time, and I heartily enjoyed this return to a genre that I pretty much lived in for my teen years. I love Rothfuss's humor, his sense of poetry and drama, and his worldbuilding. That said, it's not without its flaws. Rothfuss has several verbal ticks ala Robert Jordan, so he tends to repeat phrases until you are ready to stab him in the face the next time he mentions anyone being chilled, known, possessed, or anything else "down to the marrow of his/her bones." Not really his fault, but I feel like someone in the editing food chain could have done something about this without hurting themselves. Also, there's a big section in the middle that sort of reads like it was originally written by a seventeen-year-old about his RPG character. Which makes it sound much worse than it is. No seventeen-year-old with an RPG character ever wrote this well. It's just that the bones of the story at that point are still just recognizable as those of a wish-fulfillment Mary Sue fantasy. The writing and the fact that Rothfuss can be hilariously funny make up for it, though, and there is magic that requires math and conversion tables. Thumbs up.

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss - The sequel is even more enjoyable and involves even more fun worldbuilding. I am such a sucker for some good, chewy worldbuilding, guys. And worldbuilding that also makes me laugh out loud a lot? Sold. Rothfuss still makes tediously repetitive references to bone-marrow, alas, and a few more of his repeatedly-reused phrases get really out of control, but I didn't get that "Did you come up with this part when you were still in highschool?" feeling from any of it. I did become stupendously bored with a small section in the very middle which brought the action--which up till then had been going along at quite a respectable clip--to a crashing halt. But that part was mercifully brief (though not brief enough) and after it came, yes, more awesome worldbuilding wheeee! I am definitely looking forward to the third instalment, which comes out...some time in the future? I have no idea. My husband owns a bookstore, he keeps track of these things for me.

Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers - Yes, I finally dove into the Lord Peter Wimsey novels for the first time not long ago, and what a delightful dive it was. Lord Peter is awesome. Bunter is even more awesome. Lord Peter's mom is awesome. There is more witty banter than I ever dreamed could be contained within such a tiny book. I kind of guessed who the killer was pretty early on and I didn't even care because it was such a pleasure to watch Lord Peter et al work it out. It's like Jeeves and Wooster fighting crime! (Only, of course, Lord Peter only pretends to be Wooster, whereas Wooster actually is Wooster.) I am so in love. More, please.

The Martian General's Daughter by Theodore Judson - I loved Fitzpatrick's War and have re-read it multiple times, so it seemed like a good idea to read something else by the same author. Having now added a second data point to my research, I feel confident in stating that Judson likes to write about future civilizations crumbling under the weight of corrupt, powerful people while sympathetic characters look on in a steampunk-ish sort of setting. This book was a decent, solidly-written book, but I didn't enjoy it nearly as well as Fitzpatrick's War. It probably wasn't helped at all by the fact that I read it during a period of weeks when Bear had decided that he wasn't going to takes naps ever, at all. I don't think I'd be in a position to really, truly love any book read in such a haze of stress and exhaustion. So there's that. But this book also has much less humor to than Fitzpatrick's War, and that makes things harder for me to like, too. I give this points for the craftsmanship of it, but the characters didn't make me love them and I didn't laugh, so not something I feel like I can strongly recommend.

The Engineer Cycle by K.J. Parker Okay. Here's the thing: Designs and Desires was good, solid, and incredibly well-written. I was in awe of Parker's ability to just keep writing good sentences. A little skimpy on the humor side at times, but nothing I couldn't handle, plus OMG masterful worldbuilding! Evil for Evil was just as well written but about five times less funny, which was detrimental considering the first book was not really funny enough for me to begin with. Also, I began to suspect that Parker might hate women a little bit. The Escapement crushed my humor-craving spirit under the heel of its doomy, depressing boot and convinced me that, yes, Parker does hate women. Kind of a lot, in fact. Also, the last book made me really hate the two characters that I had liked most at the outset of the story, and that made me really sad. It also made me love a character that I had barely thought twice about in the first book, which should sort of balance things out, but it left him in a profoundly depressing place at the end. There were times when it felt like a punishment to read this series, but I kept reading because a) the writing itself is so good and b) I had no idea how wretched every single character would be at the end. So I read a trilogy of absolutely enormous books which were just exquisitely written but made me feel like a kicked puppy. No more Parker for me, thanks ever so.

Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis - Connie Willis is in danger of becoming my favorite living writer. I've loved many of her books over the past few years, but this? This was so...so. So everything. So sad and so joyous. So thrilling and so heartwarming. So absolutely crazy-making and so satisfying. I laughed, I cried, I fell in love with the Britain of World War II. I chewed my nails and hugged myself out of sheer delight. I called izhilzha and declared my need for moral support. I stared in horror at the page because I was convinced the author was going to end it the wrong way and gasped with relief when she didn't. I wrote an incoherent review committing excessive use of italics throughout. Read these books. You will not be sorry. There is time-travel and hilarity and death-defying ambulance rides through London burning. There is St. Paul's and shopgirls and counter-intelligence and Ultra. It is so--so!--good, guys. Read it, I beg you.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 15th, 2011 05:47 am (UTC)
You know, I actually enjoyed Name of the Wind more than Wise Man's Fear. I think maybe because I find the Big Epic Angsty Romance to be a big fat meh, and there was more of a focus on that in the second book... not to mention the ridiculously long section with the queen of the fairies or whatever she was.
Jul. 15th, 2011 11:05 am (UTC)
This. I reached that section and my interest level dropped to zero for about 3 weeks before I decided to soldier through. I'm glad I did, but still, I prefer Name of the Wind.
Jul. 16th, 2011 01:45 am (UTC)
OH MY GOSH the bit with the fae chick was SO. BORING. I kept texting my brother-in-law, who read it before me, asking when it would be over. But other than that, I still think I liked the second book better. I liked the faster pace, and Denna didn't annoy me nearly as much as she did in the first book. Plus it had the Adem language/culture/fighting style thing. I am such a sucker for that made-up cultural anthropology stuff.

(Also, that is an awesome icon.)
Jul. 15th, 2011 11:10 am (UTC)
It's funny that you mention editing in regards to Rothfuss's books, because the reason they take so long to get out is because he's nearly OCD about editing his books. But I suppose with books that long you're bound to miss something.

Name of the Wind/Wise Man's Fear are enjoyable: I found myself tearing up at several points because his way of making you feel Kvothe's loneliness and despair (especially when his music is brought into it) really just played my heartstrings all over.

But if you're in the mood for fantasy with much better female characters and top-notch writing, I'd recommend Brandon Sanderson (Way of Kings is massive but excellent, his Mistborn trilogy [starting with Mistborn: The Final Empire] is fighting for Way of Kings for favorite Sanderson book, Warbreaker is also excellent).

I will definitely have to check Connie Willis out! I've been reading a post-WWII book set in Britain and it's made me interested in the period all over again.
Jul. 16th, 2011 01:49 am (UTC)
That's interesting what you say about his editing habits. Maybe because of that no one else is paying a ton of attention on their editing passes. I know from experience that overused phrases are really hard to see when they're yours. You need a second pair of eyes for that stuff. Otherwise you write a book that is otherwise awesome but drives people nuts by saying that Kvothe's Alar is like a blade of Ramston steel five times in as many chapters. My brother-in0law and I both read it and would text each other periodically with "FIND SOME DIFFERENT WORDS, ROTHFUSS!"

That said, I am avidly awaiting the last book, which Soupy informs me is coming out in Feb.

Will look into Sanderson! These books are making remember what I loved about the fantasy genre before I got burned out on it in my early twenties.
Jul. 15th, 2011 11:53 am (UTC)
I really enjoy the Lord Peter Wimsey books too. It's been awhile since I've read them, maybe I need to read them again. My favorite is The Nine Tailors and then Gaudy Night is pretty sweet too.
Jul. 15th, 2011 06:46 pm (UTC)
I was reading Whose Body? only today, and reflecting that although it is very good, the books get even better as they go on.

I wanted to like Connie Willis, but when I read To Say Nothing of the Dog I kept getting tripped up by details that just felt wrong (or indeed were wrong). Which is a shame; I like her characters and her plots are good fun.
Jul. 15th, 2011 10:27 pm (UTC)
I MUST READ THESE CONNIE WILLIS BOOKS NOW. Of her stuff, I've only read "To Say Nothing of the Dog", but I loved it - and I'm already in love with WWII Britain, so the odds are high that I will LOVE THESE BOOKS TO PIECES PLSKTHX. *g*

(Also? The Lord Peter books keep getting better. My favorites are Five Red Herrings and Murder Must Advertise, but that's purely personal preference: Five Red Herrings is set in Scotland, which prejudices me in its favor, and Murder Must Advertise is set in an advertising agency where (as far as I recall) everybody shares Lord Peter's love of literary nonsense. I can probably quote half the book verbatim, just because I love that sort of "piffle".)
Jul. 16th, 2011 03:26 am (UTC)

(I am definitely looking forward to more Lord Peter, and several people have raved about how much better, even than the first book, the series becomes. I love finding new awesome series.)
Jul. 16th, 2011 03:27 am (UTC)
Murder Must Advertise is one of my favorite books in the world, ever. The harlequin with the pennywhistle haunted my teen dreams for *years*.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


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