WWW Wednesday – September 24, 2014

WWW Wednesday. This meme is from shouldbereading.



• What are you currently reading?

Sorcerer’s Feud, by Katharine Kerr. Thoroughly enjoyable tale set in San Francisco with magic, runes, shape changers, and a fascinating twist on vampirism.

Memoirs of a British Agent, by Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart. Absorbing, sometimes painfully period, look at the experiences of a young diplomat who ended up in Russia during the last days of the Empire and the early days of the Revolution.

Published in 1933, so some of his predictions and judgments make one wince, but for a vivid look at remarkable personalities and events of the time, it’s a grabber.

Writing Horses, by Judith Tarr. My writing partner and I have a horse birth scene in our current project, so I got out this book to refresh myself on the nitty gritty about mares and foals. Now I’m rereading the entire thing, because it’s just that good. Indispensable for any writer who has horses appear in her work, and no convenient real beasties to hand.

The Royal Stuarts, by Allan Massie. The approach of the recent vote got me rereading Scottish history at points where it collided the most with English history, before the union of 1707. Phew, rereading the Edwards’ treatment of Scotland [ Dan Jones, The Plantagenets, a terrific read] really had me appreciating the peaceful prospect of a vote by citizens of Scotland, meanwhile, there is this solid overview of the Stuarts, including the ones you rarely hear about, to balance the biographies of their more well known English counterparts.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Spiral Path, by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel.

I read this in draft. I don’t know that it is the best introduction to new readers, but fans of Allie, the heroine of Night Calls and Kindred Rites, will be delighted to see Allie back after a hiatus of a few years. Allie leaves home to go to magic school for the first time, and her friendship with handsome young Shaw shows signs of a closer attachment.

This book might be considered transitional, as it sets Allie up in school, with new friends and new responsibilities. There is more time spent on magic, hinting at connections with the nascent government of the young United States in this alternate world. It’s sure to leave Allie’s faithful fans anticipating the next book.

The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: Mary, Katherine, and Lady Jane Grey: a Tudor Tragedy, by Leanda de Lisle. Terrific, if sometimes grim, look at what can only be called the time of queens. Very young queens. English politics at high levels were always deadly, but during this period there was a plethora of girls and young woman connected to the crown, who were moved about on the political chessboard, as every single one of them lost fathers, brothers, spouses, uncles to the axe, and many of the youth died of illness. Then there was Lady Jane Grey, whose life de Lisle discovered by going back to original sources was not at all like later hagiographies painted her. (Longer review here)

It’s Raining Men, by Milly Johnson. Clever, tightly plotted romance filled with delightful characters, and only 1.99 at Kindle! (More here)


• What do you think you’ll read next?

I have a toppling TBR pile . . .

What about you? What are you reading, have you been reading, wanting to read next?




WWW Wednesday – September 24, 2014 — 28 Comments

  1. I just finished reading Directive 51 by John Barnes. Intriguing near futuristic SF book. I almost put it down wading through the beginning. I didn’t like the way it was constructed and felt that some sections from different POVs were repeat. (Though I loved the many POVs he used and I think he handled it well and made the characters distinct enough that I could hang onto each and their individual POVs.)

    Slow building. But I liked the premise enough that I kept reading. Interesting watching the destruction of technology and de-evolution of the modern world and then, as things partially settled, watching re-establishment of steam technology and the struggle to survive. All the while holding onto some semblance of government through directive 51.

    This is the first part of a trilogy. I’ve bought the second book in e-book form and will read it as soon as I finish my current read, which is Writing Monsters by Philip Athans. This is an interesting read from the perspective of the thought behind constructing creatures that do/don’t exist, what classifies one as a monster, and the psychological elements behind monsters, such as what scares us as humans, and why.

    Hope to read Beth Cato’s Clockwork Daggersoon. Can’t wait for the release of Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie and for yours and Rachel’s book. Lots of good reading coming up!

  2. Read:
    The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness; A Complete Handbook for the Use of the Lady in Polite Society by Florence Hartley
    William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher
    William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return by Ian Doescher
    Hounds and Hunting in Ancient Greece by Denison Bingham Hull
    Satan’s World by Poul Anderson
    To Read:
    Trader to the Stars by Poul Anderson

  3. Goodreads tells me I’m currently reading 108 books!

    The ones I’ve been into in the last few days:
    Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge
    Cugel the Clever by Jack Vance (due back to the library in a week)
    After the Fire, a Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld (due back in two weeks)
    All I Love and Know by Judith Frank
    To Die Upon a Kiss by Craig Wallwork (my current train-to-work book)
    Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho

    Most recently finished:
    Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller
    Street Logic by Steve Sundberg
    Mind of My Mind by Octavia E. Butler

    Next on the TBR stack:
    Survivor by Octavia E. Butler
    25 Years in the Word Mines by Graham Joyce
    Devil’s Place by Brian Gomez
    The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat
    History: A Novel by Elsa Morante

  4. Finally made it through Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin. When I commented a few weeks back about “the full moon and the Milky Way and a meteor shower and a comet (or several), and the aurora borealis thrown in for good measure, shimmering down to dance together – improbably and relentlessly – on a snowy field in January” I hadn’t yet made it to the part in the book where all those things actually occurred (well, minus the comet, but that might have been an oversight on the part of the author). And here I thought I was just making a little joke.

    I’m still not sure how I feel about the book. As a confessed lover of words and convoluted sentence structure, it really surprises me to say that I think it was a good 200 pages too long. The relentless descriptions often overwhelmed the story line; characters appeared and events occurred which had no further bearing on the overall narrative; there were too many John Galt-ish speeches attempting to pass as dialogue; the plot itself was nebulous and contained numerous inconsistencies (editing this tome would have been a nightmare!). Also, the book was obviously written in excerpts and then woven together: often the narrative styles of each piece were different and they weren’t always bridged seamlessly. Oh, and the characters themselves were too thinly drawn and incidental to really get inside their heads and compel the reader to love them. Whew.

    That said, Helprin’s writing is rich, which is a nice change from the current minimalist literary vogue. And clearly he absolutely loved this world he created and the story he wanted to tell. Maybe it’s just that he got a little lost in it somewhere along the way. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    I’m currently reading The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, and Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel.

    Wecker’s book (hardcover copy) is a beautiful thing in itself: the artwork, the fonts, the gilt titling, the blue-dyed edging of the pages. It has a old-style feel to it that books just don’t have anymore. I know, you can’t judge a book by its cover, but…

      • Alas, I have never been able to finish WINTER’S TALE either, although anyone would think I would adore it. Also KAVALIER AND CLAY, which you would think would be exactly suited to my taste.

  5. Hey. Don’t usually comment much these days for a variety of reasons, but given the timing thought it worth mentioning that I am currently reading “Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home (and other unexplained powers of animals)” by Rupert Sheldrake, and also wanted to send my best wishes to both you and your doggie.

    Last book I finished was Wireless by Charles E Stross, currently checked out of the library waiting to be read are The Motorcycle Diaries, Collapse by Jared Diamond, & Warrior Women: An Archaeologist’s Search for History’s Hidden Heroines by Jaennine Davis Kimball & Mona Behan.

  6. Yes, have been leaning a bit more than usual towards non-fiction lately, after having neglected it for a while there. Since has been so long since you’ve heard from me, will throw in that my favorite novel read this year, albeit a few months ago, is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, about which I can hardly say enough, yet can actually say nothing except to point and gaze with an expression that is hopefully indicative of rapt wonder. Found this purely by serendipity in the library, apparently came out a couple of years ago and I have heard nothing about it anywhere, so not sure it ever found an audience, but it very much deserves one. Might get be my favorite novel read in last couple of years; definitely is that I can recall off the top of my head.

  7. That book on the Grey sisters sounds quite interesting! I just finished Prisoner and am working on a review for Goodreads. Next I’m going to finish Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s Scale-Bright and Love in the Time of Cholera, but I’m also going to finish up Path to My African Eyes, a youngish YA book about a girl in a *very* complicated situation: Black South African, settling now in Buena Vista, California, and trying to negotiate all the complications of race, class, foreign v. local status, plus peer pressure, etc. The author herself was born in South Africa and came to the United States, so she knows of what she speaks, and the book was published by an independent press established precisely to combat the lack of diversity in publishing–Just Us Books

  8. I am well into one of those magisterial histories called Religion in Human Evolution from the Paleolithic to the Axial Age by Robert N. Bellah–whom I had not heard of before, but evidently he’s very distinguished. Very dense in sophisticated ideas, but also reads like a real and charming human being wrote it.

  9. Reading now: FREEHOLD, Michael Z. Williamson. His first novel. Promising debut, lots of sex, not my usual thing except for the milSF aspects. (He’s published much since his debut; we’re doing a “looking back at debuts” series at Shiny Book Review. Or at least are thinking about starting one.)
    Four novellas by various romance writers for impending review at SBR; three are in the e-book MIDNIGHT SCANDALS, one is an erotic novelette by Sherry Thomas entitled THE BRIDE OF LARKSPEAR. (Read very, very few of these, and review even fewer.)
    GALACTIC DERELICT, Andre Norton. (For my pleasure.)
    THE RISE OF WESTERN CHRISTENDOM (2nd Edition), Peter Brown (For research and pleasure, intermixed.)
    CORDELIA’S HONOR, Lois McMaster Bujold (One of my all-time favorite books.)

    Recently read:
    SPIRAL PATH, Katharine Eliska Kimbriel (plus the previous two titles in the Night Calls series)
    DIGITAL DISCONNECT, Robert W. McChesney
    THE ISLANDS OF CHALDEA, Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula Jones
    THE WORD EXCHANGE, Alena Graedon

      • I agree. His scholarship and historicity is outstanding, and his writing is also much better than average — he actually tells stories without sacrificing the other two things, and I appreciate that quite a bit.

        One thing I’ve found thus far that I hadn’t expected is a good, solid emphasis on what the women between 400 and 1000 AD were doing.

        For example, Brown made a very good point that women often went to nunneries not because it was the last resort, but instead because it was actually a pathway to political power. (I knew that some women had forged that path, mind, but I had never thought of it in quite the same way as Brown before. But his way makes so much sense, I’m now kicking myself that I didn’t.)

    • Brenda, it was actually quite good. Ursula is Diana’s sister, and she must’ve channeled her sister’s style. I didn’t see many style differences at all (far fewer than the ones between the late Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, for example), and the plotline was as twisty/complex as ever.

      I enjoyed it, and thought it was probably in the upper half of DWJ’s output, maybe even in the upper third.

  10. Just this morning, I encountered a post elsewhere telling me that the War of the Roses sequel to Dan Jones’ Plantagenet book has just been published. [I bought both the Plantagenet and the 3 Sisters book in Kindle versions yesterday thanks to your recommendation.