WWW Wednesday 2-26-14

Victorian books


Recently Finished . . .

Dog-Nabbed, by Susan J. Kroupa

In this third delightful Doodlebugged mystery, Doodle, the labradoodle trained to sniff out bedbugs, is taken to the Appalachian hills by Molly’s dad (“the boss”) to visit Molly’s grandparents, some maternal relatives, and her old friend Lizzie.

Except that Lizzie isn’t available because her dad, grief-stricken at an accident that killed Lizzie’s older brother, has taken to listening to a “holy man” who denies the family pretty much everything. Except giving money to him. This man, Zeke, chases off Molly and Doodle when they try to explore the woods, until Molly stumbles on something she wasn’t supposed to see, and gets herself and Doodle lost in the process. (rest of review)

Ancillary Justice, by Anne Leckie

Loved this space opera. Slow to begin, with deliberate switches back and forth in time, this space opera features an ambiguous narrator/protagonist whose ambiguity is not only about gender but identity. The leisurely pacing begins to accelerate chapter by chapter, getting a second-stage jet boost when a weapon makes an appearance.

After that, the pacing accelerates to a ripping . . . not climax or resolution (review)

Bones of the Fair, by Andrea K. Höst

This book is a sequel to Champion of the Rose, however it reminded me more ofStained Glass Monsters in that most of the story is taken up with the intricacies of magic.

Though it takes place soon after the events of Champion of the Rose, only two characters from that book are involved in the events of this magical mystery. I’m glad to say that one of these is a favorite, Aspen. (The other was Soren, who alas stays behind.) The second is the Diamond, Aristide Courveur, who tends more toward a certain type of character (impossibly brilliant, beautiful, hard, detached, in control); this type of character I think is hard to make convincing or even interesting, as many authors tend to fall into the narrative trap of telling us how smart these guys are, and then doing the old bait and switch from brains to elaborating the details of their beauty, without truly demonstrating their superior wit and strategic moxie. Höst gives us this type in other novels, perhaps more successfully; in this one, she does employ this narrative device a bit, but still manages to make him convincing enough to carry the story: the Diamond is never more interesting than when he is facing defeat. (rest of review)

Currently Reading

I’ve got a bunch of them going! Here are some that I am enjoying:

Lest Camelot Fall, by Danny Adams

What happened after Arthur died? This story begins hours later, as Lucian Arelianus arrives a bit too late to fight. Rich with period atmosphere, distinct personalities fleshing out the legendary characters and nicely introducing new ones, complex (the Christian priests are not all teeth-gnashingly evil and the Druids are not all enlightened postmodernists in tunics), with an interesting take on Merlin, whose magic incidentally works. But it cannot fix what man does to man, and why.

Black Dog, by Rachel Neumeier

Natividad and her brothers Alejandro and Miguel are on the run. One of them is a black dog, a werewolf, and there’s a nasty werewolf leader out to get them all. Really interesting take on the werewolf legend, gets off at a thundering pace and keeps on moving.

I have a slew of history books going, some for projects and some for fun. I’ll get to those another Wednesday.

How about you? Have you read any of these, and what did you think? Have you recommendations?




WWW Wednesday 2-26-14 — 30 Comments

  1. You might like Storm Watcher by Maria Snyder– YA with dogs, though not as point of view characters. Emotionally vivid– maybe a little too optimistic about problems getting solved when people talk clearly with each other, but possibly that’s a relief from books where things stay bad for a long time. It has a lot about tracking dogs, and somewhat about anxiety (including phobias about storms, which I didn’t know existed), and about meteorology.

  2. Great review of Bones of the Fair. I read Champion of the Rose b/c of your recommendation, and promptly devoured the next.

    I agree, about the difficulty of handling characters like Aristide’s. I still found him to be realistic, because, as you point out, he faces failure. (In Champion of the Rose, too!) As opposed to, say, Hannibal, who always wins.


  3. Read:
    Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
    In Praise of Prejudice: The Necessity of Preconceived Notions by Theodore Dalrymple
    Romulus Buckle and the Engines of War by Richard Ellis Preston Jr.
    Castle In the Air by Diana Wynne Jones
    To read:
    At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon

  4. Really enjoyed your review of Dog-Nabbed! It got me thinking about how a series like this can really let an author explore all sorts of things, sometimes getting deeper, the way it sounds like this one does. And Black Dog sounds like a lot of fun as well.

    And of course I’m always SO HAPPY to read people’s takes on Ancillary Justice–mainly because I like having people to talk about the book with.

    • Susan does get into some complex things with Dog-Nabbed, while keeping the tone light, so it doesn’t bog into grim wallow. And it could. There is a surprising number of threads going on.

      I wouldn’t say Black Dog is fun, that is, very little humor, and a whole lot of extremely violent action. That kinda comes with the territory with werewolf stories.

      It looks like a bunch of people are going to discover Ancillary Justice, judging from the responses. Good!

  5. I read Bones of the Fair (Aspen!). I liked it a lot better than the first one, which I never would have read if it had had the warnings fanfic does.

    The Beard book sounds fascinating. Meant to add it to my wishlist, click buy instead, and have decided to take it as a sign *g*.

    Recently read: A Truth Universally Acknowledged, Johnny Weir’s biography, Eight Days of Luke, and The Tyrant’s Daughter.

      • Good to know! I’ve been trying to read Salt, but while I’ll get through it eventually, the writing just isn’t gripping me. I think I was hoping for something more like Writing on the Wall, which I enjoyed a lot. Hopefully the housework book will be more interesting.

  6. Reading: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. If you like Big Bang Theory, this has a similar feel. A genius geneticist, who has Aspergers but isn’t fully aware, decides it’s time to find a wife, but finds out that sometimes opposites really do attract. It’s lovely and funny and thoughtful, and just what I need during stress season at work.

    To read: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I read the first 50 pages or so, and got distracted and stressed. LOVED the voice of the young woman telling part of the story. The author is visiting my library at the end of March, so I’d like to have it read by then. It seems to be a very smart story.

    I’m adding to my TBR some of the books listed above. Thanks.

  7. Recently finished Black Dog and Ancillary Justice, both of which I picked up thanks to your comments on GoodReads.
    Currently reading the Price of the Stars (Mage Worlds #1).
    Next up are all the books coming out on March 4th:
    Emilie and the Sky World (Martha Wells)
    Half-Off Ragnarok (InCryptid vol.3)
    Murder of Crows (the Others vol.2)
    and DeathSworn by Leah Cypess.

    I started reading Martha Wells because of these Wednesdays, so thanks for all the wonderful authors & books recommended here!

  8. Sherwood, I just saw that you’d posted over here. Thanks for the review and good words here on BVC! I appreciate it!

    I agree about being tired of “grim and gritty.” I’ve grown allergic to books and films described as grim, harrowing, or wrenching I started the Doodlebugged series in 2010 after my mother died and I felt I simply could not work on anything depressing or even too emotional. I needed something fun. One of the draws about narrating from a dog’s point of view is that the work has to be mostly optimistic because that’s most dogs’ world view. 🙂

    As for reading–finished it some time ago, but loved Austenland–both the film and the book.

    • I wonder if at our age we’ve had our surfeit of tragedy, and can appreciate comfort reads. There is no insight in grim dark, anymore (if indeed there ever was), nothing to be learned, no looking upward. Give me my Doodles!

        • Nancy, amen!! Showing how awful things are is not necessarily insight, nor does it often present a solution to the problem so (often) graphically depicted. Plus, it’s depressing. 🙂

          • So very true! And a fine case in point is Batman. Batman comics used to be quite fun — a man who dresses up like a nocturnal mammal, honestly! But then they (courtesy of Frank Miller) he became the Dark Knight, full of ultraviolence and grimth. The pendulum has now swung so far over that the comics are unreadable.

              • That is a special case. The films influence the comic books far more heavily than the reverse. In fact it could be argued, as dead-tree comic books fade in popularity, that they exist solely to keep the trademarks and copyrights in good heart for the film-makers. I doubt if anyone remembers the horrific influence the Adam West Batman had upon the comic book Batman, but it took years for Batman to recover.

                • Oh, that’s interesting. I hadn’t considered that aspect–but I come in the way of comics so rarely. (They’ve always stayed just a bit too expensive for me, clear back to childhood, and they are not always easy to borrow.)