WWW Wednesday 2-13-13

handwritten booksBVC members have picked up this meme from shouldbereading:

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?

I took a long train ride the other day. The train was packed, and the person in the window seat overflowed to the extent I couldn’t plug in my laptop, so I used the day for reading. When was the last time I had that luxury?

• What did you recently finish reading?

I finished up Ill Met by Moonlight, by W. Stanley Moss, taken from his diary. It describes a commando operation by the British late in the war. The goal (which began half as a joke, according to Moss) was to capture the German commander, General Kreipe–who was, unfortunately, new to his position, the previous commander, Mueller, being a real nasty piece of work. His team included Patrick Leigh Fermor.

Strategically it was pretty much a useless gesture, even stupid–Kreipe was a plodder who followed orders, so his removal from the theatre of war did little for the war effort beside cheese off the Germans even more. Then the Germans promptly burned whole villages in retaliation. But the Germans were burning villages anyway, on the least excuse, so this snatch didn’t alter the situation much either way.

What’s clear is how much the commandos enjoyed ‘the game’–and it really seems to have been a game, with their lives at stake. There is a lot of sudden death in this book, which is told so engagingly, it feels like fiction. It left me quite curious about Moss, though, who, Fermor says in the epilogue, was apparently up there with Jason Bourne (or maybe Stalky) in his sabotage abilities.

Torched, by Andrea Lynn Colt. From the beginning, Rose’s voice is assured as she talks about the cliches of cheerleaders. She’s proud of being smart, has her eye on Harvard after senior year. She’s got the perfect boyfriend (a relationship solid as oak ) and the perfect best friend, who has been an alpha girl since middle school. She even has the perfect feud, with her ex-best friend, her next door neighbor, a boy named Paxton: the pranks they pull on each other have understood rules, beginning with “we shall not rat each other out.” Her number three is, “Don’t admit anything.”

Then one Friday night her boyfriend is too busy to go out, her BFF is doing something else, so Rose spends it home, studying . . . and wakes up to a police cruiser outside, come to haul her off to jail for arson. Somebody set her boyfriend’s father’s yacht on fire, and her missing cheer t-shirt is found at the scene, along with photos of her boyfriend with another girl. And nobody will believe Rose.

Her life turns hellish as the school takes its revenge, but the stuff they do to her doesn’t hurt nearly as much as her besties not believing her–or her parents. She finally gets through to one person, ironically, her chief suspect; a fragile alliance is formed as they hunt for clues. A terrific story with dimensional characters, a great sense of humor that did not diminish the painful side of emotions. Rose’s quest has unexpected side effects in a lot of different ways, and not all of them are bad.

Failstate, by John W. Otte. Rob Laughlin has powers, but he doesn’t have control over them. From the first page, we discover that our world has superheroes; they are such a part of life that they are licensed. As ‘Failstate’ Rob volunteers to compete on a wannabee superhero reality TV show, which he seems about to get dumped from. His imminent fall apparently is being accelerated by his rival, Gauntlet, who is superpopular, effortlessly super. But Rob knows Gauntlet’s secrets.

Rob has his own secrets, making it difficult to connect with girls; then not one but two girls show interest. Disaster and tragedy strike. Rob is determined to find the perp, but meanwhile, a new school friend, Haruki, claims to be harassed by aliens. Everyone at school rejects him, and Rob doesn’t believe the ‘aliens’ talk, but he lends a sympathetic ear, especially when Haruki turns up at his church.

The pace is unrelenting, but Otte doesn’t skimp on the relationships. There is trouble in the Laughlin household, not just between Rob and his brother Ben, but also with their mom. A fast-paced story that has a Christian overlay (which frankly I found refreshing, after far too many books with priest = child perv. or some other kind of dirtbag) that addresses faith for a teenage audience, without setting the story aside to preach.

Quicksilver (Ultraviolet #2) by R.J. Anderson. Quicksilver follows on from Ultraviolet, though I think one could start with the second one (but why would you want to? Ultraviolet was one of my favorite books of 2011) This one follows Tori, who didn’t really come into Ultraviolet until near the end–she was the cause of Alison’s being thrown into a mental hospital.

Tori and her parents have abruptly left their home, changed their names. Dad got a far less well-paying job, and Mom is coping in her own ways, as the parents are determined to protect their daughter, who is . . . strange. But the parents don’t know how strange Tori (now Nikki) is. She’s keeping some of her discoveries to herself. Though she loves and trusts her parents, she sees their weaknesses clearly, and so she reinvents herself not only at school and at her job, but for them.

Around the time she meets her first real friend, a boy named Milo, the sinister Deckard, a police detective, catches up with the family. He left the force, and is now a hireling of a really sinister-sounding biotech company who wants Nikki for testing. But far more threatening, the force behind Alison’s and Nikki’s previous adventures are also after her, and her only ally is Sebastien Faraday, with whom Alison bonded, but Nikki knows his weaknesses, too.

The tension rises resolutely as they slowly feel closed in by these inimical forces, and then have to go on the run, as clues begin to fall together. Nikki’s nature is handled with clear-eyed sensitivity, the characters are vivid and complex, the storyline full of interesting twists, intensified toward the climax with glimpses of the numinous. We even get to see Alison again. Another winner from Anderson.

• What are you currently reading?

The Habsburgs, Embodying Empire, by Andrew Wheatcroft; this is my pick-up-and-read book since I already know the H family pretty well. Mostly reading for Wheatcroft’s insights.  Nobody Passes, edited by Mattilda AKA Matt Bernstein Sycamore. “Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity.”  And a couple of fiction books.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

I have a huge stack; near the top are After the Wall, Confessions from an East German Childhood and the Life That Came Next, by Jana Hensel, and an ARC of Janni Lee Simner’s Faerie After, which looks tasty.

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own WWW Wednesdays post, or share your answers in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

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WWW Wednesday 2-13-13 — 32 Comments

  1. I am totally between words at the moment. I have not read anything new yet, nor have I any plans to jump into anything new just yet. I’ve even paused my audiobook. I’m just in a space where I need to step away from other people’s words. (Though clearly not enough from the Internet.) I’m not sure why, I just do this sometimes. Perhaps it’s a cleansing of the palate. But I just need space/silence for a bit.

  2. Synchronicity strikes — I’m currently reading R.J. Anderson’s Faerie Rebels: Spell Hunter (aka Knife). I read a very early manuscript version of it back when the author and I were both on a Fidonet echo, so it’s nice to see what’s become of it.

  3. I’m reading several things:

    Fiction: CHANGES (A Harry Dresden Novel by Jim Butcher) & TROUBLE WITH AIR AND MAGIC by our own Patricia Rice.

    Non-Fiction: MONOPOLIZING KNOWLEDGE by physicist Ian Hutchinson.

    My morning spiritual regimen right now includes selections from THE HIDDEN WORDS OF BAHA’U’LLAH, and PROMULGATION OF UNIVERSAL PEACE by Abdu’l-Baha Abbas

    Then there’s the reading I do with my 10 year old daughter, who has asked me to read THE MERI to her as a bedtime ritual (we just finished TACO DEL & the FABLED TREE OF DESTINY, which she wants me to retool into a YA novel). It’s funny that as much as she loves to read on her own (she sleeps with almost as many books as stuffed animals), the bedtime story is still of supreme importance. Then of course, we discuss. 🙂 Warms the cockles of this writer’s heart.

  4. I am so not reading at the moment. I have stacks of books to read and I have two beta reads to read, but I can’t wrap my brain around any of them. I’ve sampled, but can’t find anything I want. I need something different.

    Part of that is probably because I’m focusing on changes in my writing, but…

    I finished The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell in January. Not fiction, but an excellent book.

    Looking forward to sequels to some books I considered different that are coming out fairly soon.

  5. I just finally finished Tamora Pierce’s In the Hand of the Goddess – I was reading this aloud in fragments when I wanted to read Joseph to sleep and had already finished his “goodnight” book. It’s about what you need for that; adventury fairly predictable, not very subtle, decently but plainly written (a bit cliche ridden, a lot of flat telling, and tending to need minor editing tweaks — but in all cases an improvement on the first, and fast-paced enough that they didn’t have time to irk). I liked the matter of fact details about what she did and didn’t have to hide as puberty hit, and the straightforwardness of handing her a no-pregnancy charm well before she even considered sex. (Would that people in this world were so consistently no-fuss about such a thing). I also found it interesting how little she discussed the mind-magic that seems to be influencing peoples’ behaviour throughout – the villain used a spell to basically hypnotize the prince into doing something life-threatening in book one, and uses a veil to prevent key people from noticing his machinations in this one, but even when that’s revealed, nothing is made of it — his villainy is still treated as his word vs. hers. Until then, it seemed accurate to the nature of mind manipulating magic not to be noticed at all, but at the end, it felt more like a mistake.

    It did leave me wondering if someone will be able to write a story about a boy disguising himself as a girl to go off and learn something exciting (In most fantasy worlds, most likely some form of supposedly gendered magic) that doesn’t play it for comedy or “the Crying Game” level drama. Something that plays it as straight adventure, as this did.

    Still reading Lord Vanity, a historical by Samuel Shellebarger (whose name I am convinced needs to begin Sch), and Kate Elliott’s Cold Magic. Just started a reread of HP and the Order of the Phoenix, with intent of rereading the last three as a whole. Partly for having watched movies 5 and 6 again, then the last two fresh, just this month, because I wanted to see the movies without fresh foreknowledge of the information you get in the books but not on film.

      • Can’t wait to read it. I am really read for a boy dressed as girl done as Lenora Rose says not for laughs or for huge drama.

        [I’ve been thinking of doing this (man disguised as woman) as one element of a novella (featuring a married couple) that I’m poking at but can’t decide if I should because it would partly be played for laughs and then, you know, that would cut too close to the old stereotypes.]

        • I actually wrote mine a number of years ago–and while there are a couple of laughs, it’s quite serious. But the reading about gender and identity I’m doing now make me want to drop the trapdoor on it a little, especially as identity, gender, and culture relate to art.

  6. Just finished rereading: Gunshy and Barnburner – the two Jennifer Pierce Maine Mysteries by Sharon Lee. Lovely to revisit and I’m so happy she just completed the second Carousel Tides book and handed it in.

    Currently reading:…. there’s the rub. So many TBR and no book that really calls to me to read it RIGHT now. Meanwhile I’ll try to update my Goodreads reading this week, so I keep track of it. I read a lot of manga lately.

    Going to read: maybe I’ll go for some manga again. Then I’ll probably know what I want to read without pictures ^^.

  7. Pingback: A Meme on Reading | Marlene Dotterer

  8. Lord and lady, I just wrote up a WWW for later this month.

    I’m sure it doesn’t surprise you that I have another crop of books to add to the mix? Suddenly being able to read again has been glorious.

    Just finished: Dopplegangster by Laura Resnik, a cute urban fantasy that seemed a bit long for the idea. It needed trimming, but was enjoyable.
    Working on: Bad Blood by Lucienne Diver (Breezy, drops you into the world yet has some dialog infodump, POV character has personality and keeps me reading) Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft by Mindy Klasky (has charm but is starting slowly — the protagonist may be too silly for me, but the familiar amuses,) The New Well-Tempered Sentence by Karen Elizabeth Gordon (boning up on grammar — some fun stuff!) and The Religion of the Samurai by Kaiten Nukariya (research — scholarly but I think will bear fruit.)
    [b]What’s Next:[/b] Picked up Corporate Confidential by Cynthia Shapiro (secrets of HR, to help me if I end up back in corporate) and The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson.

    Amazingly, the resume packet is getting done around all this…

  9. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (history of the migration of blacks out of the South to the north and west in the 20th c). Well and truly compellingly written non fiction. Strongly recommended.

    Beta reading a manuscript (no title)

    Something else but my mind is blank right now. I’m intrigued by the Torched book.

  10. Reading now:
    Gail Carriger’s new book, Etiquette & Espionage. I loved the Parasol Protectorate books, and think this one has the same virtues. I particularly adore the floating school!
    Every Monday night or Tuesday morning, I read the latest episode of John Scalzi’s The Human Division, and do a bit of swearing at having to wait another week.

    I’ve finished 3 books since last Wednesday:
    Laura Resnick’s Disappearing Nightly — smart and funny urban fantasy.
    Georgette Heyer’s A Civil Contract which is every bit as good as advertised. I’ve come to Heyer by way of Bujold.
    Nicole George’s Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir. I saw her tell stories at Back Fence PDX and picked up the book. I enjoyed it.

    • I wish Gail Carriger would write fantasy, so I could read it. Unfortunately all the tiny mistakes in history kept poking me out of the Parasol Protectorate stories, sigh.

  11. Currently reading Mrs. Gaskell, Wives and Daughters.
    Just finished-Consider the Fork–don’t have the book handy, so can’t name the author, but it was fascinating and I highly recommend.

      • oh, i liked gaskell’s book too. and i was so dissapointed by the missing chapters, that i went on a searching spree- and i found an editor’s note that said that Robert ( i think that was his name?) comes back after 2 years but doesn’t dare face the protagnist (forgot all the minor details ie name) because he thinks she’ll think he’s fickle moving on from his stepsister to her. Finally sends or delivers to her the rose that she had given him (of course it’s dry now). And there’s a happy ending.
        Sorry it’s so scanty and harebrained, but it would take me a long time to find the editor’s note ( i found it online, going from one link to another) ……