Wednesday Reading

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What are you currently reading?

C.J. Brightley, The King’s Sword, (Until Feb. 11, part of an eight-book fantasy bundle.) An other-world fantasy written first-person by an ugly, scarred veteran soldier who rescues a half-frozen escaped royal heir out of the snow, and then takes up the boy’s cause. It’s got some action, but the pacing is thoughtful as it examines what really makes a king.

Langue [dot] doc 1305, by Gillian Polack. A group of scientists and a single historian are taken back to France in 1305. They are strictly enjoined not to interfere with history–but you know how that goes. Polack takes the time to introduce all the scientists, whose squabbles ring so true for anyone acquainted with academic geekery no matter what the country of origin, and her expertise in period POV is excellent, making this a pleasure to read.

What Have you finished reading?

Signatures, by James A. Hetley. An old detective mage, an old case, in a vivid noir setting, with romance woven through in a minor key melody. I wish the word haunting weren’t so overused, because this vividly written story stayed with me for days when I proof-read it. Hetley’s books are never predictable, his characters complex. Flashes of wit are like distant lightning over the shadowy, complicated landscape as the tension rises, and rises again . . .

Elin Toona Gottschalk, Into Exile. The book is full of heartbreak, insight, beauty, and the unheralded and heroic actions of women with no weapons, no power, but a determination to fashion a bit of civilization around them, one castoff or abandoned item at a time. Sometimes it was so harrowing that I could only read a few pages in a session, but I always came back to this compelling, fascinating story of three displaces Estonians at the end of WW II and after–when Estonia was once again erased from the maps. (Long review here)

Bad-Mouthed (Doodle-bugged Mysteries #4), by Susan J. Kroupa. Doodle, the bedbug sniffing dog, is back again with Molly, who solves mysteries using a combination of her camera, smarts, and of course Doodle’s nose. This time she and her best friend Tanya are singing in a Christmas pageant when Doodle (who is impersonating a sheep) upsets the pageant by chasing a rat.

When I was a teacher, I frequently had parents ask me for recommendations for smart readers about eight and up, and readers of ages ten and eleven who were not into long series, etc. They didn’t want YA as so much of it contained material not appropriate for that age–and often not of interest to a ten year old.

This series is one I would have heartily recommended to those fourth-sixth grade parents, especially for readers who love dogs. (Full review here.)

Steelheart (Reckoners #1), by Brandon Sanderson.

The basic idea is terrific: superheroes gone bad. The world is a mess because of the Epics and their unstoppable powers, except that they all have a fatal flaw, if you can figure out what it is.

The story begins with a bang when David, a small boy, is at the bank with his dad. A standoff between a couple of Epics ends up with the bank turned to steel, David’s father killed, and the Epic, named Steelheart, taking over the city.

I expect that this one is aimed straight for teenage boys, and I’m not surprised it is selling through the roof. It’s a violent video game in text form, with surprises like game levels toward the end. I detect a good heart underneath all the mayhem, which unfortunately leaves me with a sense that Sanderson is pandering here to the lowest common denominator in order to cash in on a film deal. (Full review here)

Those are the main ones, though I’ve always got books going in fits and starts. How about you?

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Comments

Wednesday Reading — 14 Comments

  1. Finished the Brightley last night. Follows the expected line–it’s the thoughtfulness, and the good world building bits of embroidery, like the meaning of names, that made it enjoyable reading.

  2. King’s Sword sounds interesting.

    Me, I’ve
    Read:
    School of Wizardry by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald, followed up by the next three books: Secret of the Tower, The Wizard’s Statue, and Danger in the Palace
    Reading:
    The Wizard’s Castle and The High King’s Daughter by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald
    To Read:
    Pixie Noir by Cedar Sanderson

  3. I just finished reading Hostage, which I loved. 😀

    I’m currently reading Unbound by Jim Hines and Booklife by Jeff VanderMeer.

    Next up, I have that entire Storybundle to read. 🙂

  4. I recently finished Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, which I absolutely adored. It’s a mainstream/literary novel (but with plenty of plot!) that uses SFF tropes for all the plot points. Ancient, dusty tomes that have hidden codes, a secret society that meets in the dark tunnels of NYC, a best-selling fantasy series that has secrets. . .

    Add a very modern protaganist, Google, and plenty of charm and compassion, and, well, that’s what makes the book work. Loved it!

  5. I saw that Colleen McCullough has died. I enjoyed her ancient history novels mostly (I am guessing) because I am less familiar with the history. She told a rattling good tale in my opinion. I liked taking them to my parents’ house for holidays because They Were Long and Engaging. Your mileage may vary, of course.