WWW Wednesday 10-30-2013

WWW Wednesday. This meme is from shouldbereading.


Recent reads:

Medair (duology) by Andrea Höst.

This is a reread. The first time through I whizzed so fast to see what happened, I knew I was going to be coming back more slowly. As often happens with this author, knowing what is to come gives the story a new perspective.

Andrea K. Höst ‘s work invariably starts with a lone female protagonist flung into an interesting situation. This is one of my favorite story tropes.Both the character and the world building grabbed me right from the start. Medair is a Herald who rode off to save the world, found the means, lay down to take a nap, and woke up to discover that the war she was trying to end had been lost half a millennium ago. She’s practical, wistful, insightful, stubborn, independent, starved for love, and determined to do the right thing. If she can figure out what that is. (Rest of review)

Natural Selection, by Melinda Lo.

This novella fits between Adaptation and Inheritance (which I have not yet read), giving us Amber as a first person narrator. Readers who haven’t tried the first book would not be confused, but certain discoveries would be spoiled.

It’s a tightly written story, the structure underscoring Amber’s dual nature, as a supposed human from Earth, and as an Imrian. The story steps between Amber’s preparation for, and her undergoing, the every-fifteen-years ritual expected of her people, while she reflects on her experiences the previous summer. Amber comes to terms with several important realizations, making a friend as she does. I really enjoyed it.

Impulse (Jumper 3) by Steven Gould

I loved Jumper the book. I liked its YA sensibility while still being a read for adults. It has been my go-to book when people ask what I think New Adult is, even though it came out before the Potter generation was reading. (Assuming that the New Adult sub genre was invented for the Harry Potter readers who wanted f or sf fixes a step up from school stories, with younger protagonists entering the adult world.)

Impulse returns to that sensibility with Cent, the smart sixteen-year-old daughter of Davy and Millie. She’s been raised completely off-grid as she travels all over the world with her teleporting parents. She has everything a kid could want . . . except friends. She wants to go to high school. And when she figures out how to jump, or teleport, her parents come to the same realization that all parents must: their child is not only ready to venture into the world, she is capable of it. (Rest of review)

Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer, by Janni Lee Simner

I test-drove this title, and its previous title–The Secret of the Three Treasures, a killingly bland title imposed by the publisher–on several classes of fourth and fifth graders, and in both cases, every single hand shot sky high when I gave them the author’s preferred title: Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer. (About the first choice, one boy muttered, “It better be real treasures, and not some book about three things you have to learn.” When I later read the book to the class, they discovered quite happily that there were really are three treasures!)

Tiernay is the heroine—she prefers her dad’s last name, West, because he travels all over the world writing adventure stories about a cool heroine. Tiernay indulges in Walter-Mitty-like internal adventures while practicing at adventure until she can get into a real one, but unlike Mitty, who was too afraid to stand up for himself, Tiernay has the courage of her convictions. And so she does her very best to become an adventurer, despite her mom really wanting her to settle down and be a practical schoolgirl.

Like when Mom takes Tiernay out to dinner with her friend Greg and his son Kevin, Tiernay orders squid and snails, because she figures an adventurer has to get used to eating anything.  Tiernay soon gets her tip-off to adventure, and she is no slouch about seeking more clues and doing her detective work in spite of snippy school-girls with their secret clubs, neighborhood bullies, and her exasperated, practical mom. The voice is wonderful–I was laughing out loud, even when (as an adult reader) I was fairly sure where the story was going.  Tiernay, like Harriet the Spy many years ago, is true to herself: what she is inside, she is outside. Her reactions, her grit, and how her tale is narrated, make this one a must for any kid, or kid at heart, who always wanted to have adventures.

The Shield of Achilles, by Philip Bobbitt

Reread. Bobbitt’s strength is in his ability to paint the Big Picture, specifically the evolution of the state, and how we’re now passing into the era of the market state. He supports his thesis with a staggering mass of historical detail which I found somewhat problematical the farther back he went (Castlereagh the great visionary? Really? What about Talleyrand, and how the face of modern Europe was proposed by him around the time of the Peace of Amiens?)

The problem with Big Picture thinking is that the conclusions can seem too neat, and history has a way of demonstrating how very messy it is. Given that, the last half of the book is terrific, as he examines the alteration of paradigm over the twentieth century conflicts–the first half of which he calls the Long War. It ends with a coda supplied after the events of 9/11, striking a warning note.

Currently reading: Popski’s Private Army, Vladimir Peniakoff; The Secret Life of Bletchley Park, Sinclair McKay; Inheritance, Malinda Lo; Richelieu and his Age, Carl J. Burckhardt, and rereads of Scott Lynch’s first two epic fantasies, as the third has just come out.

What have you discovered this week?






WWW Wednesday 10-30-2013 — 19 Comments

    • It’s absorbing, but have your secondary sources nearby for double-checking some of his historical assumptions! His treatment of the twentieth century is the strength of the book, and packs quite a wallop.

  1. I’m about due for a reread of Medair, I reread her Touchstone series not too long ago. I think I would have a better appreciation of Medair in the reread. I loved the idea of what happened and the presentation of it. But I didn’t like the twist near the end, where the world flopped again, it was confusing. Definitely going to pay attention and respect it.

    I think I will like Tiernay West as well. So that will be a new read for me! 🙂

    I’ll leave you with a recommendation: Eilis O’Neal’s “The False Princess.”

  2. (I thought I had posted this already, but don’t see it. Apologies if duplicate.)

    This is the second time this week I’ve seen the Simner mentioned. I thought it looked fun the first time, and it still looks fun. Guess I’d better add it to my list.

    I recently finished rereading Lee & Miller’s Balance of Trade, in preparation for the release of the sequel, Trade Secret, next week.

    I’m currently reading Nine Goblins, the novella Ursula Vernon has just self-published under the pen name T. Kingfisher. So far there are two POV strands, one the sergeant of a squad of goblins who have been magically transported far away from their battlefield, and the other the elvish veterinarian Sings-to-Trees. They haven’t met yet, but I’m looking forward to it with anticipation, as I’m already deeply amused by the misadventures of Sings-to-Trees with a baby racoon and ungrateful unicorn in labor.

  3. Read:
    Don’t Let the Turkeys Get You Down by Sandra Boynton
    If It Ain’t Baroque: More Music History as It Ought to Be Taught by David W. Barber
    Of Witches and Wind by Shelby Bach
    A Star Shall Fall by Marie Brennan
    To Read:
    With Fate Conspire by Marie Brennan

  4. Masters of the Word: How Media History from the Alphabet to the Internet by William J. Bernstein. Ha! Just the main title might have had you think it was fantasy, but it’s an enthralling history. Read and be riveted as carbon paper (who would have thought it) helps brings down the Soviet Union.

  5. I’ve been documenting my adventures with Frankenstein; otherwise, I’m continuing with Claire of the Sea Light, which is lovely (I’ll write a review when I finish) and Coyote Still Going, which I also continue to enjoy. And, I have picked up Janni’s book 🙂

  6. am late to the party, but better late than never. right?

    audio: Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett: Crivens! It’s fabulous. Stephen Briggs does a terrific job of narration, too. I have I Shall Wear Midnight waiting by my bedside, because I’m not going to patient enough to listen to another Tiffany Aching adventure.

    reread on Nook: The Gathering of the Lost by Helen Lowe. It’s a terrific swords and sorcery adventure, but I’m disappointed every time I read it that I have to wait for installments 3 & 4 to come off the author’s desk. Terrific worldbuilding!

    reading: A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan. Wish the type weren’t brown on cream, but otherwise … dragons!! Marie!!