What I’ve Been Reading 1

March 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm (Uncategorized)

At the end of 2012, I mentioned that I was having to do some hard thinking about priorities, and some of that included how I was going to maintain this blog through the new year. Mostly…how I was going to do reviews. A good review takes anywhere from two to five hours to write, depending on the book and how hard it is to talk about, and that’s time I really need to be putting into other things- writing, editing, planning giveaways and swag and such. When I didn’t have any deadlines or expectations other than my own, that was just fine. Now it feels a little more awkward.

Also awkward? The idea of doing detailed reviews of books written by people who are now colleagues of a sort. There’s a transition from blogger to author, and honestly I’m just sort of bumbling along making a mess of it. As a reader, as a writer, I’m always going to read critically, and I’m always going to dissect what I read. I just don’t know that I’m as comfortable sharing all of those thoughts. It’s not an aspect of censorship, more of…circumspection. After all, you don’t stand there and tell your co-workers everything you thought of a job they did, do you?

So what I’m going to do instead is an update from time to time on the things I’ve been reading with my general impression of them. This still lets me share what’s been coming through the stacks, it lets me gush about books I’ve loved, but it keeps me from feeling like I’m trouncing all over sensible boundaries.
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Etiquette & EspionageFirst up is Etiquette & Espionage, by Gail Carriger, author of the adult series The Parasol Protectorate. This book is set in the same steampunk-urban fantasy England, but some time earlier, so you needn’t be familiar with the adult series to read this. Tell you what, though, reading this will make you want to be familiar with Carriger’s other works. I LOVED IT. The tone was wry and perfectly pitched, and despite a bit of a slow start, the action picked up with a good pace. The characters are well drawn, the world was intriguing, and it was laugh out loud funny. There was one paragraph describing someone’s moustache that had me in tears. This was, overall, a fantastic start to a new series. I mean, seriously, there’s a mechanical dog named Bumbersnoot. Bumbersnoot is awesome.
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ArchivedThe Archived, by Victoria Schwab, and HOLY HELL THIS WAS BOOK WAS AMAZING. THis wasn’t written, this was crafted, every sentence another line in a love song to grief and healing, trapped in that aching span of time when the grief is old enough that it should be better than it is, but too new to be as healed as everyone else thinks it should be. You open the cover and it’s like disappearing into the Narrows, where the time of the outside world has no meaning until you’re done. The action is taut, the emotion at times overwhelming, and through it all weaves this terrible, beautiful thread of hope. The entire nature of the Archive is simultaneously comforting and horrifying, and we see both elements of that. We have incredible characters (and may I just say, I love Roland; Roland makes me happy and sad at the same time) and an intriguing world and the kind of beauty and craft of writing that sinks hooks into your mind and just doesn’t let go. Long after you finish this book, your thoughts are still in the Narrows, only absently noting the marks on the doors that might lead to a way out. They just revealed the cover for the sequel, The Unbound, and gah, this wait is going to kill me.
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Perfect ScoundrelsPerfect Scoundrels was up next, and oh man, I love this series. You have to hand it to Ally Carter- she spent an entire book that focused on Hale’s family, and we still didn’t learn what the Ws stand for. The stakes are higher in this one, because the goal in question isn’t a thing, it’s a person- and to save that person, the crew might have to lose that person. It’s incredibly personal, and even more so than the others it’s about family, the family we’re born into, the family we choose. The names for the various maneuvers and plans are as brilliant as ever (the Basil E. Frankweiler! Genius!) and I love the continued growth we see in the characters. That and the travel. Oh my God, I want to see half the places Kat and Gang get to go to, and the twists are brilliant! You see some of them coming, but there were a couple that were just…wow. Love this series.
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Raven BoysThe Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater just made me absolutely breathless. This is another book that’s crafted rather than written, and the beauty, the lyricism, the lure comes through in every word. I love Stiefvater’s writing, but I adore her characters. They’re complicated, intricate, gorgeously drawn, and the connections between them bristle with the full range of emotion and possibility. And the thing about this book is, even though I grew up reading about ley lines and the legends of the sleeping kings, it still made me want to race out and learn more, because the story and the search and the way all the pieces are woven together is just that damn compelling. This is another book you don’t put down until it’s done, and even then it’s not really done, because it just won’t let you go. This is one of those books that makes a part of me shrivel with envy.
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Cadet of TildorLast one for this set, The Cadet of Tildor, by Alex Lidell. This one was…problematic for me. It wasn’t that the book was bad on its own, just that Tamora Pierce did it ten and twenty years ago and did it better. It’s a great world, with a fascinating magic system, a good conflict set up with a new, young king and two very different crime organizations. The pacing is a little awkward but it does carry the story along. I think, where it failed for me, was the characters. There were flashes of brilliance, moments where a character suddenly became intriguing and I finally wanted to know more, but these were without exception followed by an abrupt about face that left me feeling frustrated and kind of wishing most of them would fall off cliffs. Still, there was one character who managed to be consistently wonderful, and if it’s mostly for the sake of the younger Savoy, there’s still a lot of areas to explore- and a lot of ways in which things can improve.

More to come later! So tell me, what are YOU reading right now?

Until next time~
Cheers!

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