dolorosa_12: (matilda)
[personal profile] dolorosa_12
I've been reading a lot of great stuff, so I thought I'd put together a brief post. I'm trying to get over a recent block in terms of writing on Dreamwidth/LJ, where I feel that posts here have to be substantial and significant, and if they don't meet this arbitrary bar I should just throw a few words together on Tumblr. I need to stop worrying about whether my thought fragments are important enough to go on Dreamwidth/LJ and just post them!

I read An Alphabet of Embers, an anthology of short fiction edited by Rose Lemberg. The highlights for me were Kari Sperring's story 'Some Silver Wheel', and 'Everything Under One Roof', Zen Cho's contribution. However, the whole collection was wonderful, and I strongly encourage you to read this review in Strange Horizons, which gives a good overview of every work in the anthology. I would echo the reviewer, Karen Burnham's, sentiments:

I have also never seen an anthology so beautifully orchestrated, with tones and themes following each other beautifully like the movements of a symphony, encompassing a huge range of human (and non-human) experience and feeling while always maintaining a coherent sense of the whole. As such, while the individual stories sometimes seem too much like embers (flashing brightly but fading from memory quickly), the anthology as a whole leaves a lasting impression of weight, survival, and beauty.

On the advice of [ profile] losseniaiel, I've started reading the Vorkosigan saga. I'm reading it somewhat out of publication order, starting instead with Shards of Honour and Barrayar, which I understand is roughly at the start of the series' chronology. While they're a little bit dated in some ways, I absolutely adore Cordelia as a character, and love stories about culture clashes, characters from very different backgrounds being forced to work together, and pragmatic women who exercise power in subtle, indirect ways, so as you can imagine, I'm having a great time with these books. I'm a bit limited in what I read next in the series as I'm not prepared to buy them and my local library doesn't own any copies of Bujold's books, so I'm reliant on whatever [ profile] losseniaiel can lend me. I do look forward to reading more in this series when I can, though.

On Monday night I read Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, which I also thoroughly enjoyed, apart from one rather distracting problem. The book is a spin off of sorts from her earlier book Fangirl, in which the main character wrote fanfic of a Harry Potter-esque British children's series - Carry On is Rowell's attempt at that fanfic. As published original fiction attempting to evoke the conventions of fanfic, Carry On is excellent, and those who read a reasonable amount of fanfic (like me) will find a lot of recognisable and enjoyable fanfic tropes. Rowell's affection for the medium shines through, and I appreciated that aspect of the book a lot. However, it suffered from a common problem: Americans trying to write work set in Britain, and getting the dialogue hopelessly wrong. A lot of the supposed Britishisms were just off (I'm not even British and I noticed it), and there were scatterings of American slang and phrases that really stuck out to me. I was able to get over this by pretending the whole book was a piece of fanfic for a British canon, written by an American teenager - which indeed may have been the effect Rowell was aiming for - but it was really distracting.

I haven't decided what novel I'm going to read next, but I did enjoy 'An Ocean the Colour of Bruises', a new short story by Isabel Yap at Uncanny Magazine.

What have you all been reading?

Date: 2016-08-03 02:00 pm (UTC)
wehappyfew: Β© π’Έπ“π‘’π‘œπ“…π’Άπ“ƒπ’Έπ’Άπ“€π‘’ | les chansons d'amour. (β™– triad ↬ ismael/julie/jeanne ( book ))
From: [personal profile] wehappyfew
I need to read more short stories, especially since I'm also wanting to write more myself. As for what I am reading, it's mostly been YA fiction series. I just recently finished The Internment Chronicles by Lauren DeStafano, a decent enough series, although the last book left me wanting for a lot. I'm also a book into the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo; I enjoyed the first book a fair amount and have to wait months for the single copy of the second book to come in at the library. I'm also a book and a half into The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, a really interesting urban fantasy series that I'm enjoying greatly (for the most part).

I also did decide to read The Subtle Knife and have the last in the series on hold at the library. I enjoyed that one quite a bit more than the first (though I did still enjoy the first!) and am looking forward to finishing up that series. I think that if I had read it as a kid, I'd probably end up much more attached to it than I am going to at the age I'm at, but still, I thought you'd be happy hearing that.

Date: 2016-08-04 02:00 pm (UTC)
wehappyfew: Β© 𝒷𝒾𝑔_π’·π“π“Šπ‘’_𝒷𝒾𝓃 | the hunger games. (β™– tributes ↬ katniss ( water ))
From: [personal profile] wehappyfew
Ha! Yeah, I can definitely imagine that impacting the feel of the name, for sure!

I really love the emotions and the dynamics of the friends, too; it's nice to have the focus be much more on that - and the dynamics of Blue and her family - than specifically any sort of romance. I'm not super into the Mr. Gray/the Gray Man chapters, though. They sort of jar me out of the feelings of the second book. But it's still rather enjoyable overall, and I'm excited to grab the third from the library. That's really awesome, both that you met her and she was still friendly! I can't even imagine how people do signings like that with such massive quantities of people and still manage to keep up their energy levels.

I can absolutely see that! I'm a little bummed that I didn't try reading it earlier in life, but I am glad that I'm finally reading it, even if I did struggle a bit with the first book. And yes, I'm excited to see how I feel about the third as well.

Date: 2016-08-04 12:20 am (UTC)
pax_athena: (cheeky)
From: [personal profile] pax_athena
You are the second person in a very short time recommending the collection by Rose Lemberg. I'll have to buy it ...

And ah, I am somewhat envious of people who enjoy the Vorkosian saga. I so wanted because it so does sound like my thing, but it just does not work for me.

I've been trying a lot of new authors this year, trying to read more contemporary sf by women - I tend to stick with the classics when it comes to genre. Not very successful so far in terms of new favorites, but at least interesting.

Date: 2016-08-04 12:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
In terms of the Vorkosigan saga, it's a shame you don't like it, but taste and preferences are weird, and not all books are going to grab you. As I say, I did find some things about it dated, but it hit a lot of notes I like in my fiction and I loved the characters so much that it worked for me.

As a suggestion for contemporary sf by women, have you heard of Athena Andreadis ( She's a really interesting writer and editor - she's a molecular biologist (I believe based at Harvard) by profession, and is very interested in sf where the science is a more accurate representation of the way science actually works in the real world (so, no 'mad scientists' or single lone geniuses, lots of emphasis on collaborative, painstaking, careful work). She's edited two anthologies, The Other Half of the Sky, which is space opera where all the protagonists are women, and To Shape the Dark, stories where all the protagonists are women and scientists (with all branches of science represented, from linguistics to engineering). If you're not sure you want to take the plunge with her books, her blog ( might be a good place to start, as it will give you a good idea of her interests and things on which she focuses.

I hope you enjoy the Rose Lemberg anthology!

Date: 2016-08-05 12:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I also really liked Carry On! And of course, since I'm not British, I didn't notice any of what you said! I just had so much fun with the story. And laughed at myself when I got all giddy about Simon and Baz finally kissing, because I was getting excited about characters from a fanfiction written by a fictional character XD

Date: 2016-08-05 12:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It was such a great book, and written with such affection for fanfic and its tropes and conventions. I should say that although the inaccurate Britishisms were really distracting to me, they didn't affect my enjoyment of the book that much - I still really enjoyed it. But it really did read like the work of an American fanficcer whose only knowledge of Britain was through canons like Harry Potter (or Simon Snow...). I'm not British* (although I do live in the UK), but it was really noticeable to me.

*Technically I guess I am British now, since I became a citizen earlier this year, but I don't really feel British apart from on paper...


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