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Dispatches from Terabithia

Currently reading

The Man With the Golden Torc
Simon R. Green
Childhood's End
Arthur C. Clarke
The Iron Ship
K. McKinley
House Immortal (House Immortal, #1)
Devon Monk
In the Night Garden
Catherynne M. Valente
Those Across the River - Christopher Buehlman

Failed academic Frank Nichols and his wife, Eudora, have arrived in the sleepy Georgia town of Whitbrow, where Frank hopes to write a history of his family's old estate-the Savoyard Plantation- and the horrors that occurred there. At first, the quaint, rural ways of their new neighbors seem to be everything they wanted. But there is an unspoken dread that the townsfolk have lived with for generations. A presence that demands sacrifice. It comes from the shadowy woods across the river, where the ruins of Savoyard still stand. Where a longstanding debt of blood has never been forgotten. A debt that has been waiting patiently for Frank Nichols's homecoming…



I listened to this on audiobook, and man, this narrator is awesome. Brought a lot of flavor to the book, and I was absolutely enraptured by it until it was over. I was also getting a kick out of the fact that they had fled from what is sort-of my home city, Ann Arbor, and that our protagonist had been a history professor at University of Michigan, where my husband is an alumni. Loved it.

Binti

Binti - Nnedi Okorafor I received this in a Tor giveaway. Thank you!

I wish I was smarter so I could write a better review of this book. Okorafor always makes me particularly aware that I lack of the vocabulary to discuss the themes relating to colonialism and race, and so I tend to sit back in wonder.

As it was, I saw some interesting implications in themes of colonialism, cultural theft, and the grace involved in intercultural communication and conflict resolution. As always, it's very different from what we're accustomed to reading. And as always, I'm so glad to get something so very different.

Binti, our protagonist, is a Himba, a people of Africa who are insular but revered for their ability to work with mathematics and harmonics. They wear a layer of oily mud instead of bathing with water, given the lack of fresh water in their community, and its orangey hue smells of flowers. She leaves her community and ventures to an off-world university, knowing that she will never be accepted home again once she has left. Her journey is full of adversity and wonder and the fear you encounter when you journey far away from home. And the story is also full of the wonder and talent she holds for mathematics, which are both an integral part of the story and a part of technology that one would never have conceptualized.

Either way, very cool, and I'm glad I got a chance to read something else from Okorafor's talent. :)

Guards! Guards!

Guards! Guards! - Terry Pratchett Ah gods.

Terry Pratchett fills me with unending guilt because he is my husband's absolute favorite author. I mean, he worships at the altar of Terry. And I give him plenty of book recommendations that he dutifully reads, and I try to read his recommendations.

And I just don't like Sir Pratchett's books. I mean, I loved Equal Rites. I was okay with Wee Free Men -- it was fun, but not really my thing. This one just did not hit any of my buttons.

I do not like Carrot. He is distracting and frustrating to read, and I don't find him amusing. I find him stupidly literal and it's annoying rather than funny.

I'm so-so on Vimes. I mean, he's okay, and he starts showing some personality once he caves and gets a little dragon, but up til then, he's kind of a mopey figure.

I like Lady Ramkin, but even she doesn't really hit a sweet spot for me.

And the villains weren’t either funny or intimidating or silly or anything else -- they were just ...there...for me.

And so I'm frustrated, because I LOVED Good Omens, and I LOVE Douglas Adams, and I just do not click with Terry Pratchett.

I gave up at about 50% of this book, switched over to a Seanan McGuire book, and was instantly laughing 100% more than I was with this.

I feel like my fantasy cred is about to be revoked entirely. I apologize to everyone for not liking this book.

The Burning Dark

The Burning Dark - Adam Christopher Back in the day, Captain Abraham Idaho Cleveland had led the Fleet into battle against an implacable machine intelligence capable of devouring entire worlds. But after saving a planet, and getting a bum robot knee in the process, he finds himself relegated to one of the most remote backwaters in Fleetspace to oversee the decommissioning of a semi-deserted space station well past its use-by date. But all is not well aboard the U-Star Coast City. The station’s reclusive Commandant is nowhere to be seen, leaving Cleveland to deal with a hostile crew on his own. Persistent malfunctions plague the station’s systems while interference from a toxic purple star makes even ordinary communications problematic. Alien shadows and whispers seem to haunt the lonely corridors and airlocks, fraying the nerves of everyone aboard. Isolated and friendless, Cleveland reaches out to the universe via an old-fashioned space radio, only to tune in to a strange, enigmatic signal: a woman’s voice that seems to echo across a thousand light-years of space. But is the transmission just a random bit of static from the past—or a warning of an undying menace beyond mortal comprehension?

YOU GUYS! YOU GUYS YOU GUYS OMG. I picked this up, seriously, babbling to my husband about how this looked like it was going to be exactly what I wanted as far as a Mass Effect-ey style space opera. I mean, it had everything -- monstrous, spider-like robots that EAT PLANETS and a plucky captain who fights them. Right? Right? NOPE. This turned into one of the creepier horror novels I’ve ever read. This was totally Event Horizon. Or Sunshine -- the movie, not the McKinley novel. IT WAS SO GOOD. I can kind of see why it has such a low rating on Goodreads just because I had no idea it was a horror novel, but dude! WIN.

Bird Box

Bird Box - Josh Malerman Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from. Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it's time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat--blindfolded--with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

OH MY GOD, this was awesome. I listened to the audiobook, and was just blown away. I’ve been harassing everyone I know who enjoys horror to go get this book. Apocalyptic, psychological, LONELY horror. Instantly on my permanent favorite list. Big win.

The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season - N.K. Jemisin This is the way the world ends. Again. Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze -- the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years -- collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

This book had some really interesting ‘clicks’ in it where I realized very interesting things. The parallel story structure definitely allowed some neat twists. And I loved the way it was told -- it was everything I could do not to start reading it aloud to my husband.

The Paper Magician

The Paper Magician - Charlie N. Holmberg I had somehow taken this book off of my to-read list; don’t even know how it happened, but it wandered over onto my ‘not now’ list and languished there. VERY unique world building, definitely liked it, BUT. There was one part of the book that was just needlessly, endlessly long -- I understand the reason for it, it allowed us to get a great view of Thane’s past, but dude, I ended up skimming almost all of it.

Linesman

Linesman - S. K. Dunstall The lines. No ship can traverse the void without them. Only linesmen can work with them. But only Ean Lambert hears their song. And everyone thinks he’s crazy…Most slum kids never go far, certainly not becoming a level-ten linesman like Ean. Even if he’s part of a small, and unethical, cartel, and the other linesmen disdain his self-taught methods, he’s certified and working. Then a mysterious alien ship is discovered at the edges of the galaxy. Each of the major galactic powers is desperate to be the first to uncover the ship’s secrets, but all they’ve learned is that it has the familiar lines of energy—and a defense system that, once triggered, annihilates everything in a 200 kilometer radius. The vessel threatens any linesman who dares to approach it, except Ean. His unique talents may be the key to understanding this alarming new force—and reconfiguring the relationship between humans and the ships that serve them, forever.

This really fell apart for me about halfway in. Ean got too powerful too quickly, and everything else just felt made up and fake Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series. Really disappointed, because it started out SO good. And by the way? I felt like I was hearing the word “lines” every other word by 2/3s of the way in. Ugh.

Nemesis Games

Nemesis Games - James S.A. Corey And they all come tumbling down.

A thousand worlds have opened, and the greatest land rush in human history has begun. As wave after wave of colonists leave, the power structures of the old solar system begin to buckle. Ships are disappearing without a trace. Private armies are being secretly formed. The sole remaining protomolecule sample is stolen. Terrorist attacks previously considered impossible bring the inner planets to their knees. The sins of the past are returning to exact a terrible price. And as a new human order is struggling to be born in blood and fire, James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante must struggle to survive and get back to the only home they have left.

Well that was quite the ride. I’m liking Avarasala so much -- I realize she’s just a side character that, despite being a major power in and of herself, just pops up for flavor, but I really love her. Someone who knew I’d just started the book described it to me as ‘Corey throwing a wrench in the works.’ GOOD description. This may be my favorite one since Leviathan Wakes.

Cibola Burn

Cibola Burn - James S.A. Corey The gates have opened the way to thousands of habitable planets, and the land rush has begun. Settlers stream out from humanity's home planets in a vast, poorly controlled flood, landing on a new world. Among them, the Rocinante, haunted by the vast, posthuman network of the protomolecule as they investigate what destroyed the great intergalactic society that built the gates and the protomolecule. But Holden and his crew must also contend with the growing tensions between the settlers and the company which owns the official claim to the planet. Both sides will stop at nothing to defend what's theirs, but soon a terrible disease strikes and only Holden - with help from the ghostly Detective Miller - can find the cure.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this -- I’d actually picked up Nemesis Games thinking I’d already read it, and the third book in the series felt a bit abrupt to me. But this was action and intrigue all the way, and I really enjoyed it.

Uprooted

Uprooted - Naomi Novik Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

I really enjoyed this, even if I did have a few problems with it. I was listening to the audiobook, and it felt like, once I started, I just couldn’t let it go -- much like The Summoning. :) I’d definitely give it four stars.

For that, though, I did have some issues -- one, while I’ve listened to this narrator before, I just can’t enjoy her -- she’s *so* slow. I got frustrated when I had five or six hours left in the book, realized it was just a hundred pages, and walked over to the library and read the last pages there in about an hour rather than waste another day with it. Eh. While that’s a valid complaint about the narrator, I do still enjoy her -- she brings an interesting flavor to the story.

One of my friends reviewed this book as “While this book isn’t perfect and I have my gripes, I had to give it five stars because of how I needed to have it on my to-buy list after the first chapter.” Nail, head. Yep. Great story.

Memory and Dream

Memory and Dream  - Charles de Lint As the young student of the brilliant Vincent Rushkin, Isabelle Copley discovered she could paint images so real they brought her dreams to life. But when the forces she unleashed brought tragedy to those she loved, she turned her back on her talent - and on those dreams. Now, twenty years later, Isabelle must come to terms with the memories she has long denied, and unlock the power of her brush. And, in a dark reckoning with her old master, she must find the courage to live out her dreams, and bring the magic back to life.

I think I spent just about this entire book wondering exactly how unreliable our unreliable narrator is...and I think that’s fascinating. How much of this can be chalked up to influence, or to mental illness, or simply her humanity? Because Isabelle truly is very flawed -- she’s a pushover, she’s the archetypical abuse survivor before realizing she’s being abused, she makes excuses and finds ways to make things her fault. She chews on things in her anxiety until they lose all meaning. We have no idea how much to trust her, because her own friends wonder at her motives and actions and if she truly did things she claims she didn’t.

A story that brings the concept of 'creating our own reality' to life -- and that truth is only the story we tell ourselves.

Gardens of the Moon

Gardens of the Moon  - Steven Erikson (Yep. Never read it. Don’t laugh.) Something something epic fantasy reddit favorite.

The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting, and bloody confrontations. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen's rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins. For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, surviving cadre mage of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze. But it would appear that the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand.

I really punished myself with this book. I’d heard so much about how you have to read it so carefully for detail that I began studying it like an academic text rather than reading for enjoyment, and it ended up taking me nearly a month to read. That...that just isn’t feasible in my world. I don’t have the attention span for it. Once I allowed myself to read it for enjoyment and acknowledge that I’m not going to catch everything the first time through AND THAT THAT’S OKAY, I began enjoying myself significantly more.

Do I want to read something light and fun now? Yes. Do I want to return to the world? I dunno. The fog of the first half of the book is currently hovering over my psyche. I need to remember that I need to be fair to myself and my style of reading, no matter what other people say.

Burn for Me

Burn for Me - Ilona Andrews Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile case. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire. Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive. Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. I think I’m getting to the point where I’ve read too much by the Gordon team. Yes, there is such a point. I’m starting to catch their plot tricks and story fillers, and they’re starting to bother me a bit. That does not mean I won’t be continuing -- this was a fun book, and a great way to give myself a break after some heavier reading, and I’m all for fun.

Trailer Park Fae (Gallow and Ragged)

Trailer Park Fae (Gallow and Ragged) - Lilith Saintcrow Jeremy Gallow has left his past behind, but some things cannot be erased, like the tattoos on his arms that transform into a weapon, or that he was once closer to the Queen of Summer than any half-human should be. Now the half-sidhe all in Summer once feared is dragged back into the world of enchantment, danger, and fickle fae—by a woman who looks uncannily like his dead wife. Her name is Robin, and her secrets are more than enough to get them both killed. A plague has come, the fullborn-fae are dying, and the dark answer to Summer's Court is breaking loose.

I just realized -- several days after I finished this -- that I had Lilith Saintcrow mixed up in my head with Laurell K. Hamilton. And that's terribly unfair of me, since I really did love the Dante Valentine series so much. So, when reading this book, I was nervous for it to devolve into an all-out orgy sex scene, at which point I’d probably put it down. But it never did, and I enjoyed it. I do think it was overwritten to some degree -- the flowery language got distracting at times, rather than enhancing the scenery -- but I enjoyed it and the next book is already on my to-read list.

Authority: A Novel

Authority: A Novel - Jeff VanderMeer For thirty years, a secret agency called the Southern Reach has monitored expeditions into Area X—a remote and lush terrain mysteriously sequestered from civilization. After the twelfth expedition, the Southern Reach is in disarray, and John Rodriguez (aka “Control”) is the team’s newly appointed head. From a series of interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and more than two hundred hours of profoundly troubling video footage, the secrets of Area X begin to reveal themselves—and what they expose pushes Control to confront disturbing truths about both himself and the agency he’s promised to serve.

I...I don’t know what to think about this series, honestly. It is brain-grilling. The action happens off-screen, and the mystery is still there after the end of book two. I’m not sure there’ll ever be any payoff because...because… that’s just the sort of book it is, which is to say, it’s undefinable, kind of literary, and occasionally grueling. It’s definitely creepy. I think I liked book 1 better. I’m not sure if I want to continue yet. I had to follow it with a series of light books because I just needed a break. I don’t know.