Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Wednesday reads, 20th May

What I've finished reading:

Nothing this week.

What I'm reading now:

Biggest Brother, by Larry Alexander
The Thistle and the Rose, by Jean Plaidy

What I'll read next:

I've got Tamora Pierce's "Mastiff", final in her Beka Cooper series, to finish off; back to the Wilson 'Cecily' series, and I've let the Cranky Ladies slip this week, too. 

Friday, 15 May 2015

The SF/F books of my heart

There's a bit of a debate going on in literary sci-fi fandom at the moment.  I'm not actually planning to get into that here - this is supposed to be a mostly historical fiction blog, afater all!

But on a recent thread at Mike Glyer's File770, people started listing their favourite sci-fi/fantasy, and I started thinking, yet again, about my formative reading in that genre - and how it includes few to none of the books being listed at File770.

Not much of this is on my Goodreads, as it's pre-Goodreads reading.  But if I had to list my ten favourites - as others have been doing - here's an attempt at doing so, in rough order of when I first read them:

Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
Playing Beatie Bow - Ruth Park (timeslip.  It counts.)
Tom's Midnight Garden - Philippa Pearce (so does this.  I *love* timeslip.)
Tomorrow, When the War Began - John Marsden (the first three were fantastic, and yes, it skates the line as SF/F.)
A Cage of Butterflies - Brian Caswell
On Fortune's Wheel - Cynthia Voigt
Deucalion - Brian Caswell
Imzadi - Peter David
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
Vulture's Gate - Kirsty Murray

I realise that the sort of books on my list get me kicked out of "real fandom" by a lot of people (YA! Media tie-ins! Authors who don't admit they write SF OMG!), but I don't care.

Australian YA in the 90s was an awesome place for SF/F.

Gillian Rubenstein's Galaxarena is not on my list only because it disturbed me so much that I don't own a copy because I can never again read it.  Ever.  There's an image from that book that is still in my head today and OMG.  Caswell gets two spots because he is just that formative.

I love spaceships and space travel and new worlds.  I love the Honor Harrington books by David Weber even though they're not well written and the politics drives me nuts and there's way too much infodump.  I still love the Darkover books even though I'm not sure I can read them again because just mentioning MZB's name makes me cringe - but it was a Free Amazon story that showed me that lesbians could exist in SF/F.  I love Scalzi's "Old Man's War" and "Redshirts" and "Lock-In" almost made this list even though I only finished it a week ago.

But that list up there is where I got started.  Those are the books of my SF/F-nal heart.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Wednesday reads (on Thursday night) - 14th May

What I've finished reading:

Nothing, this week.

I've been reading lots of blogs - File 770, Whatever (the blog of John Scalzi), and Ask a Manager, mostly.    But sadly not reading books.  Or at least, not finishing them.

What I'm currently reading:

Last night, in need of something to read in the bathtub (thus necessarily a paper book belonging to me, not the library), I began Jean Plaidy's The Thistle and the Rose.  Which is about Margaret Tudor moving to Scotland to marry James IV - and aftermath.  Got through the first 70 pages at a rapid rate, so that's good.

The Bees is still out from the eBook library, and I have had multiple reserves arriving for me to read of late as well.  Must get onto that.

And of course there's Cranky Ladies of History

What I'll read next:

Reserves from other libraries:
  • Biggest Brother, the Dick Winters bio I mentioned last week
  • Mastiff, the final in Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper series.
The various piles on my Kindle and Kobo apps...

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Review: Redshirts, by John Scalzi

I read Redshirts in a combination of audiobook - narrated by Wil Wheaton - and paperback, purchased and signed by John Scalzi at last month's Supanova in Melbourne.

As Scalzi himself noted in the Coode Street Podcast, he's improved his use of dialogue tags (he said, she said) in response to his awareness of how these things sound in audiobooks.  Which, yay - because the tags were driving me mad when I was listening to the audiobook.  I did vaguely notice the difference in Lock-In, although I wasn't listening to that one.

As to the story.  Redshirts won the Hugo Award in its year, and a lot of people dislike that fact.  I can't compare the book to the other nominees that year, and I can totally imagine than there were better books - I'm certainly not saying that Redshirts is flawless.  But it operates on so many levels of  surface, cynicism, and deep love of the genre.  It's good.  It's inventive and fascinating and really thoughtful.  And it knows it, which, you know.

But yes, I totally recommend it, especially for snarky Trek fans.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Wednesday Reads

What I've finished reading

I finished Kaleidoscope, which I loved to death, and which I'll review properly soon, I promise.

Lock-In, by John Scalzi, which I really loved.

Redshirts, also by John Scalzi (whose autograph I got at SupaNova back in early April.)  Really enjoyed this one, although I agree with what he said on the Coode St Podcast recently about adjusting his writing style for audiooboks.  I listened to a good proportion of Redshirts in Audiobook, and the dialogue tags were driving me nuts.

Ms Marvel, vol 1.  Love, love, love it.  Volume 2 is now out, and I have to balance having it NOW vs getting the hard copy version when I'm in Sydney next.

What I'm currently reading

Cranky Ladies of History - I'm trying to read one story a night, but last night M vetoed the Elizabeth Bathory story on the basis of potential triggers, and the one after that was too long and complex to get through.

Cicely's King Richard - I'm not entirely sure I'll get through the whole thing.  The author is so VERY Richardian, and on top of that, anti-Woodville in an unavoidable way, and it's driving me nuts.

The Bees, by Laline Paul.  It was on the Locus longlist for 2014, which speaks to its potential.  It's still reminding me very much.  I'll get back to it soon.

What I'll be reading next

Dick Winters: The Band of Brothers' Major has just arrived for me through the library holds system.

A Trifle Dead by Livia Day, first in the Cafe La Femme series, is also waiting for me, on my Kindle app.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Coming soon - notes on Sandra Heath Wilson's "Cicely" books

Today I bought three books on Kindle - the first three books of a Richard III (and beyond) series by Sarah Heath Wilson.  The library has the second book, but no one in the system has the other two, and they were only about A$3 on Amazon.

I may regret it: the concept is that Cicely, the second daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, falls in love with her uncle (who becomes Richard III) - making a change from the usual argument that it was Elizabeth of York, the eldest daughter.  The author is clearly a Richardian, and worse than that, she first got interested in Richard via Josephine Tey's Daughter of Time (sigh).

But I'm a sucker for a Wars of the Roses/Tudor transitional historical fiction.

A glance at the beginning of book 2 doesn't inspire confidence in the writing - it's more than a little overwrought.

But I'll give it a go -- and I'll share my thoughts with you!

(Still suffering from Annunciata-fatigue, which is why I'm not reading Morlands at the moment.)