Friday, January 13, 2017

What Have I Been Reading?

I'm almost into the third week of the New Year, and I haven't updated this blog-diary with my recent reading. So it's time to fix that. Hopefully next week I'll get back into the Monday "What Are You Reading" swing, but I am feeling the urge to document this now. So far this year has been light on reading -- I went back to Houston and spent a lot of time with family, which was fun, and then came home and was scatter-brained, which also makes reading difficult. But now I'm feeling more relaxed and ready to escape into alternate realities!

First, a formatting experiment: I copied/pasted directly from goodreads -- let's see how it turns out:

When Demons Walk (Sianim, #3)
Moon Rising (Wings of Fire, #6)
My Family Adventure (Sofia Martinez)
Hatchet (Hatchet, #1)
Steal the Dragon (Sianim, #2)
Guts & Glory: The Vikings
Liaden Universe Constellation: Volume III
1824: The Arkansas War (Trail of Glory, #2)

Hmm. The default somehow made the title column about 5 millimeters wide, and it was a pain to check the html to find the spot in the middle of gobblegook to increase it. If anyone reads this, let me know if it looks like I changed the right thing. It's possible my computer is just tired of me and so makes the preview looks nice so I go away.

As you can see, I've read a lot of SF so far this year. I started with 1824, an alternate history about America before the Civil War, where Arkansas is a separate country founded by Native Americans, blacks, and white people who either want land or find policies towards those groups distasteful. (John Brown being an extreme example of the latter.) Sam Houston is a major player, having not suffered an injury a decade ago that changed his career trajectory toward Texas (this is the second book in a series, which I didn't quite realize, so we miss the divergence from our own history). I found it an interesting take on some familiar figures as well as a more palatable version of reality, but it suffers from a lot of repetition and characters telling each other stuff that both they and we already know.

Then I finished up Alpha, a science fiction book about an android struggling toward consciousness and an aging military man trying to adjust to personal and technological upheavals. It has a distinctive feel of Asaro, with earnest robots working their way through their programming and rather emotionally clueless warriors having almost as much difficulty with their feelings.

Then I finally finished up the Liaden short stories, which were fun. I have some problems with some of the tropes and assumptions of Liaden, but with short stories I can easily suspend my issues and just enjoy the vividly imagined cultures and characters.

I'm still working through last year's Cybil's finalists, so I read the Viking history book Guts and Glory: Vikings, which I did not enjoy as much as I expect fifth graders to, because I am stodgy and want to hear about people who aren't men sometimes. I refreshed my palate with an easy chapter book from the same list, and enjoyed the tiny dramas that Sofia enacted in My Family Adventure.  I like kids with enough gumption to build a pinata on their own, and I enjoyed the Spanglish although I suspect mainly because it made me feel smug about knowing most of the Spanish words. And then I went on to read a fantasy Moon Rising. It's ridiculous how long it has taken me to read this category, because it should be one of my favorites. Maybe I'm afraid of disappointment. While it's true that Moon Rising wasn't my favorite, I bet I'd like it more if I had read others in the series; it was fun to have dragon protagonists but I kept getting distracted wondering about anatomy questions that are probably covered in more detail in earlier books. I actually own one of those earlier books, and I'm pushing it up the TBR priority because of the strength of #6.

I reread Hatchet for probably the fourth time to prepare for my elementary book club. Once again I had completely forgotten about Brian's angst over his mother's infidelity and his parent's divorce, although his life in the wild was vivid and gripping. The porcupine that gives him both a leg full of needles and the clue to starting fires, the moose whose insane attack reminds him of the chaos of nature, and the plane that strands him but also has the tools to call for help -- those I remember. Lots of kids, although most hadn't finished the book, so I guess classes have moved on since my children's day -- both of them read it in class, hence my high reread count.

And finally I'm powering through as much Patricia Briggs works as I can finish before February, when she comes to Seattle for Foolscap 2017. These two are early works in the Sianim series, although they don't share characters (one guy from one book is mentioned in the other). They are solid fantasy world stories, which smart and capable women alongside men willing to appreciate that in their companions, and cool magic systems that unfold in different directions. I'll hand them on to the boys to prepare them for the convention as well.

1 comment:

kmitcham said...

I think I read the alternate history first book. Not sure; I like Eric Flint, but I get much more from the 'cool what if' than from memorable characters or story.