Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a la The Broke and the Bookish, is “top ten books you really want to read but haven’t got yet”. Which is difficult, for me: I tend to pick up what I want right away, because I am terribly prone to needing instant gratification. Still, I’m doing better lately, and there’s some books I haven’t got as ARCs despite all my hankering after them.

  1. Maplecroft, by Cherie Priest. I’ve enjoyed most of Priest’s work, and even when I haven’t loved it, I’ve thought it was interesting. So I’m very much looking forward to this one.
  2. The Just City, by Jo Walton. I love the sound of it; the whole concept of setting up Plato’s Republic for real and seeing how it works? Yeaaah. Plus, it’s Jo Walton: I’ll read anything she puts out.
  3. The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin. I don’t even know what it’s about, I just know I want it when it comes out. Jemisin’s never let me down yet.
  4. The Galaxy Game, by Karen Lord. I wasn’t totally bowled over by The Best of All Possible Worlds, but I did enjoy it, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Lord develops the minor characters of the first book, and where she goes with developing the universe she’s set up.
  5. Dreamer’s Pool, by Juliet Marillier. I generally enjoy Marillier’s work, and this sounds like an interesting one. In a way, I think I can kind of predict what’s coming, but I still think it sounds interesting, and Marillier’s writing and characters are an important part of the package, too.
  6. A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab. This is the first one on this list where I haven’t read anything by the author before! I’m intrigued by the summary, the various parallel Londons it mentions. I may be kind of a sucker for alternate Londons like Neverwhere and Un Lun Dun.
  7. Batgirl, vol. 1: Silent Running, by Scott Peterson & Kelley Puckett. I like Gail Simone’s run on Batgirl with Barbara Gordon; I’m interested to dig into other characters, though, particularly as Cassandra Cain has specific limitations. Although, what’s with Batgirl having disabilities and being magically healed?
  8. Heraclix & Pomp, by Forrest Aguire. I’ve been interested in this since reading Dan’s review.
  9. Dangerous Girls, by Abigail Haas. Everyone makes this one sound amazing. I’m hoping to win a giveaway for this book sometime soon, but otherwise, I’m definitely looking to pick it up somewhere.
  10. Hammered, by Elizabeth Bear. I like the idea of the middle-aged heroine, the world sounds interesting, etc. I may not end up picking this one up if I don’t like the work by Elizabeth Bear I’ve already got somewhere, but for now I still have my eye on it.

What about everyone else?

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Review – Monster of God

Cover of Monster of God by David QuammenMonster of God, David Quammen

I enjoyed Quammen’s Spillover more than this book, but that’s not to say this wasn’t an interesting read too. In a similar way to Spillover, Quammen takes the reader on a tour of the world. He doesn’t just report on predators from afar, but goes to get close up and personal with them, and with the people who’ve really spent time in their environment. It’s still a little difficult to believe he could understand these animals or even that way of life with such short exposures, but he did his research and spoke to the people who did know, which puts him ahead of people who theorise from afar.

What I liked particularly about this one was that he pulled in threads of literature, history, sociology… all kinds of ways of understanding the complex impact alpha predators have on us, and the impact we have on them. It’s obviously very human-centric still: all of these alpha predators have been impacted by human encroachment on their territory. I don’t know if there’s any alpha predator in the world not feeling human pressures, but the relationship seemed particularly close/fraught here, with the animals Quammen picked.

It’s a bit of a dense read, but still interesting.

Rating: 4/5

Review – Homer’s Odyssey

Cover of Homer's Odyssey by Simon ArmitageHomer’s Odyssey, Simon Armitage

It’s funny to think I didn’t enjoy Armitage’s work the first time I came across it. I think it was his translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight that changed that. He brought something fresh and dynamic to the poem, which made it a very different reading experience to other translations and adaptations. He’s done the same here with The Odyssey. This is not a translation, or even a completely faithful adaptation: I can think of several places where it departs from the original poem.

However, he brings that same dynamism to Homer’s voice as he did to the Gawain-poet’s. Some of the turns of phrase still ring perfectly true, mixed in with the modern vernacular he uses as well. I’m sure it drives purists crazy, but I set aside any professional qualms and just read it for enjoyment, and thought that he rendered some scenes beautifully — more true to the spirit of the original than any stuffy translation, too, I think.

If you want to read The Odyssey without reading the phrase ‘rosy-fingered dawn’, and you don’t want to worry about Greek customs (xenia, for example), this makes it very easy to follow the story and understand the basic motivations of all the characters. It has a robust beauty to it that wouldn’t work in translating, say, Vergil, but I think in translating Homer it works very well.

Rating: 5/5

Stacking the Shelves

I’m gonna have to prepare this week’s Stacking the Shelves post (a la Tynga’s Reviews) pretty quickly, as my partner is visiting and she needs looots more sleep than me, and it’s already getting late. But hey, it’s been a good week: my 25th birthday was on Wednesday, and a shopping trip was had with my partner, my sister, and one of my closest friends. Books ensued, as you might’ve guessed if you’re around here often; some bought by me, some by them for me. Plus, the week started with a day at Worldcon, although admittedly I only bought two books — one of which was just so I could get it signed. (That one isn’t included here, but for bragging rights, I now have Jo Walton’s Lifelode and Among Others signed, and Tanya Huff’s The Enchantment Emporium.)

Oh, and re: that month of not-buying-books I had: it was successful, and in more ways than one, really. As well as just stopping me buying books and spending too much money, it seems to have changed my attitude a bit. I’m not (currently) buying books for the sake of it; only books I definitely want and intend to read.

Bought for myself

100680 Cover of Timelike Infinity by Stephen Baxter Cover of Flux by Stephen Baxter

Cover of Ring by Stephen Baxter Cover of The Sun and Moon and Stars by Steven Brust Cover of Lady Lazarus by Michelle Lang

Cover of The Long Tomorrow, by Leigh Brackett

Lady Lazarus is the only really impulsive purchase on this list; it grabbed my attention because of the setting (Budapest). Stephen Baxter is a new author for me, but his books are part of a list of “best SF” I’m trying to read.

Bought for me by my partner

Cover of Avengers Assemble: Science Bros Cover of Avengers Assemble: The Forgeries of Jealousy Cover of Guardians of the Galaxy: Angela

I’ve enjoyed the Guardians film, so between that and the opening pages where Tony singularly fails to impress Gamora, I decided to continue on with the comic. And the Avengers Assemble ones are by Kelly Sue DeConnick, therefore an inevitable buy for me. One thing about Worldcon that amazed me was that on a panel where the promo picture was Ms. Marvel, and it was supposed to be talking about new and exciting things in comics, it took forty minutes to mention a female character, forty-five to mention something with characters of diverse sexual orientations and ethnic backgrounds, and no female creators were mentioned at all.

Fuck that, I’mma talk about Kelly Sue and Gail Simone ’til I’m blue in the face.

Bought for me by my sister

Cover of The Jewel in the Skull by Michael Moorcock Cover of The Mad God's Amulet by Michael Moorcock Cover of The Sword of the Dawn by Michael Moorcock

Cover of The Runestaff by Michael Moorcock Cover of The Knight of the Swords by Michael Moorcock Cover of The Queen of the Swords by Michael Moorcock

Cover of The King of Swords by Michael Moorcock

I felt like reading some more Michael Moorcock, since I read GlorianaMy sis obliged.

Received to review

Cover of Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley Cover of The Bells of Times Square by Amy Lane Cover of Cosmocopia by Paul Di Filippo

For the first one, Lies We Tell Ourselves, I’m super-grateful to a friend who works at the publisher who managed to get me an ARC. Re: Amy Lane, I think I’ve read something of hers before, but it still weirds me out slightly since I went to school with someone of that name…

Comics (issue)

Cover of Ms Marvel #7

I really need to catch up with actually reading this run of Ms. Marvel.

So, what’s everyone else been up to? Any great hauls? Anyone been resisting most amazingly? Comment, link, share!

Thursday Thoughts: ARCs

Today’s theme from Ok, Let’s Read is about ARCs:

As a blogger, YouTuber or generally bookish person, have you ever received an ARC? Did you request it or did they reach out to you? What advice regarding ARCs would you give to bloggers/reviewers who are just starting out? Do you have a preference between physical ARCs and eARCs? Do you have a specific plan or technique you go buy in order to stay organized when it comes to reading and reviewing ARCs?

Yep, I get quite a few ARCs. Direct from authors, agents, or via Netgalley, Bookbridgr, Edelweiss… I’ve had them both ways. With ARCs, the best advice is to request a lot, but only what you want to read; read everything you get; send feedback in whatever way they ask you to. Honestly, the easiest one so far has been Bookbridgr, though that’s only applicable in the UK. Netgalley and Edelweiss do have good ways to build up your reputation by downloading the ready to read ones, so that’s also a good option.

I don’t have a preference re: physical or ebook, though ebook seems less urgent somehow, so they can just… mount up. I have difficulty staying organised; honestly, at the moment it’s pretty out of control. Help?!

Honestly, though, I’m not calculating about it. I just request what I like and review it when I can.

What are you reading Wednesday

What have you recently finished reading?
Monster of God (David Quammen) and The Naked Ape (Desmond Morris). I need to review both, still. Quammen’s book is interesting, looking at the role of alpha predators in our lives, sometimes with very literary references. I enjoyed it, though it felt a bit rambling. As for The Naked Ape, it’s an interesting and worthwhile approach, but I think Morris kept too much of his cultural baggage in mind re: gender roles, etc. It is a really old book, though, so.

What are you currently reading?
Various things, but the newest thing is a fresh attempt at Catch-22 (Joseph Heller) with my HabitRPG bookclub. I read about half when I was younger, but didn’t really get it — a lot of it went over my head. It’s going better now.

Also, Two Boys Kissing (David Levithan), which is… interesting. I expected it to be very sweet (like Boy Meets Boy), but with a narrating chorus of AIDs-victims, it’s not as straightforward as that. I like the differing relationships that it brings out, though I am feeling slightly weird about the fact that it’s addressed to contemporary gay men — it doesn’t feel very welcoming, despite the queer community usually being pretty strongly bonded together.

What will you read next?
I think I’ll dig into some comics — a new Guardians of the Galaxy TPB, and some Avengers Assemble a la Kelly Sue DeConnick.

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt from The Broke and the Bookish is ‘top ten books everyone’s telling me to read’. Which really isn’t hard, because everybody’s always on at me to read something, heh.

  1. Republic of Thieves, Scott Lynch. I love Scott Lynch’s first two books, and I actually got this one back when it was an ARC. I’m just terrible. I’ve bought it since and still… Mum and my partner both reaaaally want me to get on with it.
  2. The Vorkosigan Saga, Lois McMaster Bujold. Again, so many people want me to read these. I’ve actually read Cordelia’s Honor, and I wasn’t that impressed? But I was also cranky and feeling a bit harassed. If nothing else, Jo Walton’s recommendations mean I should really get on with it…
  3. Throne of Glass, Sarah J. Maas. I read the prequel short stories way back before the first book was out, and wasn’t really interested enough to read more. But I hear so much about the trilogy, and Leah was urging me to read it, so.
  4. Pantomime, Laura Lam. I’m going to read this reaaaally soon, or that’s the plan at least. It’s the only book I can think of, other than arguably The Left Hand of Darkness, with an intersexed protagonist.
  5. The Enchantment Emporium, Tanya Huff. This has been recced me a couple of times, and it’s the book I happened to pick up for Tanya Huff to sign for me at Worldcon, so there y’go.
  6. A Song of Ice and Fire, G.R.R. Martin. My first rec for this came from Robin Hobb when I was about fourteen, and I still haven’t got round to it — and the recs are mounting up. It’s actually one of the books in a reading challenge I’m doing, so I’ll get round to it soon.
  7. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente. I’ve been meaning to read it since it came out, and now there’s a whole trilogy. Also in my challenge list.
  8. Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell. I’ve read part of it. I have the special edition, signed. I’ve read Attachments and Eleanor & Park. And yet. I’ll get there eventually. Sorry, Leah, and everyone.
  9. Yendi, Steven Brust. I read the first book of the series at Jo’s recommendation, promptly bought a whole bunch of the omnibuses, and then… got distracted by so
  10. The Healer trilogy, Maria V. Snyder. I like Snyder’s work as a casual fun read, and my sister will kick me if I don’t hurry up and read these. And probably many other books too; she likes kicking me.

What’s on everyone else’s lists?