Review – Landline

Cover of Landline by Rainbow RowellLandline, Rainbow Rowell

Stand by for opinions!

Reading the reviews of this book, there’s a significant subset of people who think that Neal is a bad person, a bad character: he’s holding back Georgie from her career; he’s jealous of her close friendship with another man; he has a tantrum and takes his kids to Omaha without their mother because she’s working on something which could, potentially, be her big break, and can’t go with them. I know there were people who read it as anti-feminism, trying to imply Georgie should have spent her time in the home instead of focusing on her career, condemning her close friendship with a man, etc.

As the daughter of a woman with a career and a man who gave up his for me and my sister, I can’t read it that simply. I know exactly how much work my dad puts into keeping the house clean, tidy, and a nice place to live. Neal does that, here, and still finds time to be affectionate to his wife, to play constantly with their children, to do favours for her. And mostly, he doesn’t complain about all the things he has to do. He just wants more of Georgie in his life — to feel like he is her priority, and not Seth. He doesn’t seem to resent Georgie for the fact that he gave up his career for the kids — she didn’t even ask him to, he chose to — and at one point he outright says that if she says that he comes before Seth in her life, he believes her and trusts her, and will not ask her to choose.

It is entirely fair for him to ask her to put some work into the relationship too, and not just rely on him to pick up all the slack. It’s not feminism to simply reverse the roles and leave the husband at home, unsatisfied with his life.

I honestly didn’t find anything Neal asked for unreasonable, and though sometimes his behaviour was a little over the top, let’s not pretend that people have to be perfect in order to deserve love, respect, and partnership. Taking the kids off to Omaha without their mother was unfair to the kids, as well as to Georgie, and so just came across as spiteful. Sometimes his surliness was very unappealing.

But the whole point of this book is about working on a relationship. Making it work. Trying to be a better person, trying to be better to your partner. Owning up when you’ve done wrong. We see more of that from Georgie, because it’s fairly tightly focused on her POV, but in the connection-to-the-past scenes, we see a younger Neal trying to figure it out too.

And, as always, Rowell writes well about that connection between people — the physical connection, the closeness, and how gestures of affection don’t have to be stereotyped kisses. The titular landline is, in fact, just a prop, a way to make the bridge between the characters in the past and present — this isn’t science fiction. It’s romance with a touch of magic. It never gets explained, because it really isn’t the point of the story. You may find that unsatisfying, particularly if you are a fan of time travel stories and the like, but it would be a completely different book if it focused on that aspect (and probably not very characteristic of Rowell’s style).

This isn’t YA, like Eleanor & Park or Fangirl, so it is different. It’s a much more adult experience of love and relationships. I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Rating: 4/5

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s theme is auto-buy authors! I think I did this topic the last time it came round, but these things are prone to change. It’ll be interesting after I’ve made the list to look for the old one!

  1. Scott Lynch. Even seeing a short story of his is in a collection is enough to prompt me to at least consider picking it up.
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien. I’m not sure he’d even approve of the state of the stuff Christopher Tolkien is putting out for him is in, but I will always be fascinated with every word the guy wrote.
  3. Jo Walton. If I can’t get the ARCs, at least… Jo is my friend as well as a favourite author.
  4. N.K. Jemisin. I think I knew she’d be an auto-buy author from the first page of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.
  5. Jacqueline Carey. I’ve seen her deal with stuff I wouldn’t be that interested in ably, in a way that comes out fun. Yeah, I’ll buy anything.
  6. Guy Gavriel Kay. Person most likely to make me cry at his work, except possibly Jo.
  7. Garth Nix. I haven’t even read all his backlist yet.
  8. Patricia A. McKillip. It took me a while to get into some of her books, but I think I’m securely hooked now. I’m glad there’s still a whole bunch of backlist titles I haven’t got to yet.
  9. Neil Gaiman. Okay, I’m not 100% a fan of everything the man says, and the title of his latest collection of short stories didn’t work for me, but if he writes a book, I’ll probably get it. Maybe not immediately. But in the end.
  10. Rainbow Rowell. It surprised me, but I just preordered Carry On and realised that yeah, I probably will automatically buy anything by her. Something about her style just… works for me.

What about you guys?

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is “Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who _____”. So, because I’m predictable like that, let’s have my top ten characters who love books!

  1. Matilda, from Roald Dahl’s MatildaI don’t know about anyone else, but I used to sit and stare at things and wish I could have powers like Matilda. But even better would’ve been to read as fast as her.
  2. Mori, from Jo Walton’s Among OthersI think this one is extra-specially predictable. Shush.
  3. Hermione Granger, from J.K. Rowling’s Harry PotterI’m in the middle of my rereads of these books and remembering just how much I loved Hermione — I was that know-it-all who sucked up to the teachers, though I didn’t have such good and loyal friends as Harry and Ron surrounding me. And unfortunately, I still didn’t have powers.
  4. Cath, from Rainbow Rowell’s FangirlWhy is this list so populated with people like me…?
  5. Harriet Vane, from Dorothy L. Sayers’ Wimsey mysteries. Well, she’s more of a writer and we don’t see her reading much, but we do see her engaging with literature, and practically sparring with Peter via quotations from books.
  6. Beauty, in Robin McKinley’s BeautyGimme the Beast’s library, please.
  7. Alec, from Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint. I suddenly remembered a scene with Richard bringing Alec a book and the hunger Alec seemed to feel about it…
  8. Jean, from Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora. Jean!
  9. Memer, from Ursula Le Guin’s VoicesI need to reread this one now I’ve remembered about it!
  10. Jo March, from Louisa May Alcott’s Little WomenI think I actually came across Jo and Matilda not that far apart in time. Both of them lived in a world of books that only encouraged me to read more!

That was actually harder than I anticipated. Huh. Looking forward to seeing what themes other people are going with!

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s theme from The Broke and the Bookish is ‘Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant To Read But Didn’t Get To’. I probably just need to look back at my Netgalley account for this one, ha.

  1. Willful Child, Steven Erikson. A spoof on Star Trek, by Steven Erikson? Yes, please. I had this as an ARC, but… Yeah.
  2. The Mirror Empire, Kameron Hurley. I’m just hangin’ my head here, guys.
  3. Half a King, Joe Abercrombie. Uh, ditto.
  4. The Dead in their Vaulted Arches, Alan Bradley. Had an ARC. Am terrible. ’nuff said.
  5. Dreams of Gods and Monsters, Laini Taylor. I love this series. I think I might be a bit afraid to read the last book.
  6. Landline, Rainbow Rowell. In fairness, I didn’t ‘discover’ Rowell’s work until Landline was already due to come out.
  7. Illusive, Emily Lloyd-Jones. Superpowers! Heists! An ARC I still need to get round to…*
  8. The Girl With All The Gifts, M.R. Carey. I think I picked up a library copy of this near the start of 2014. I dread to look.
  9. Of Metal and Wishes, Sarah Fine. I’ve seen some mixed reviews, but I wanted to pick this up just from the cover… I don’t quite know why.
  10. The Falconer, Elizabeth May. I picked this up a few months ago and still haven’t got round to it. Gah.

There’s just too many books, too little time, am I right?

*I should perhaps at this point note that I will get round to every ARC I’ve received, though in many cases I have to order them from libraries or buy them now that they’re no longer available to download.

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday is top ten new-to-me authors I read in 2014. Hmmm…

  1. Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette). If you haven’t noticed how I loved The Goblin Emperorwell, wow.
  2. Brandon Sanderson. Yep, I know, I’m way behind. But I think The Rithmatist was the first thing I’ve read by him.
  3. Rainbow Rowell. She can certainly write an absorbing story!
  4. Francis Pryor. Yes, an odd one out so far, but man, absorbing books about archaeology, how could I not love?
  5. Richard Fortey. Too bad I managed to read most of his books just in this one year.
  6. David Quammen. Purely on the basis of Spillover, without even having to think! I’m not sure about getting his book on ebola; I don’t know how much it overlaps.
  7. Steven Brust. Okay, technically I read a collab of his with Robin Hobb long, long ago, but this year saw my introduction to his solo work.
  8. Ilona Andrews. Really didn’t expect to like the Kate Daniels books so much, but I do.
  9. Ngaio Marsh. I need to get back to gorging on these, I think. At least there’s a lot!
  10. Kameron Hurley. I still haven’t read her non-fiction, but I loved her non-fiction collection.

What about you? Anything you think I’m missing from my life?

Review – Fangirl

Cover of Fangirl, by Rainbow RowellFangirl, Rainbow Rowell

I have some friends with reservations about Fangirl, and then there’s lots of people who think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. It took me a while to read it because of that, but I think on balance I like it a lot. The primary thing I enjoy is that it involves neuroatypical people; Cath’s anxiety, her dad’s bipolar, Wren’s potential alcoholism. It feels true to life in the way the twins grow apart and come back together, in the way university life works. I’ve totally been with Cath, eating energy bars instead of finding the cafeteria, talking to people online instead of going out and enjoying the fun.

One thing that does bother me is the characters who try to drag Cath out of herself like it’s that easy. Reagan mentions medication once, but after that there’s no indication that Cath gets therapy or any kind of substantive help with her issues. She’s just kind of friended-and-boyfriended out of it to a large extent, which — I’m not going to say it’s impossible, but when I was in Cath’s position, it took medication and therapy as well as the friends.

Also, Levi’s “nice guy” thing was just — ick. I mean, in many ways he seems like a genuinely nice guy, but then he admits he was doing the whole nice guy thing to try and get Cath to date him. And he wouldn’t respect her wishes about her name or letting her carry her own damn laundry, so how I’m supposed to believe he respected her about anything else, I’m not entirely sure. You’re not such a nice guy if you’re trying to be a nice guy to make a girl like you, you know? And that aspect didn’t fit with the rest of Levi, who seemed too good to be true in many ways — the kind of guy who rescues kittens from trees and helps old ladies cross the road.

Anyway, most of the scenes between Levi and Cath are really well done: early awkwardness, the slow evolution of their relationship, even the misunderstandings — which normally really annoy me in romantic stories. I did feel that their relationship was real, even if Levi himself was a little too good to be true.

I do still really like the way Rowell writes; it’s really easy to just settle into, nothing pretentiously getting in the way of reading it, nothing trying to be too flowery. And the excerpts of fanfiction and “Gemma Leslie”‘s work made me smile; Rowell does understand fandom, as was also clear when I went to her talk/signing, and she gets the comfort and excitement of that online community just right.

Rating: 4/5

What are you reading Wednesday

What have you recently finished reading?
Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell, which I mostly enjoyed with some mixed feelings, and The Sleeper and the Spindle, by Neil Gaiman, which has really beautiful art. Reviews of both will, of course, be forthcoming.

What are you currently reading?
The Just City, by Jo Walton. I’m about a third of the way into it now, and very engrossed, although it is driving me to want to find my old copy of The Republic and read up on what it says about art, given the art-focus of several characters. (I mean, I distinctly recall it being rather dismissive of any mimetic art, and sculpture and painting of the human form are definitely that?) Also, I keep peeking at the back for the list of who the characters were as historical figures, and poking through their Wikipedia pages. I feel rather history-deficient about some of them, and I studied Classics and Philosophy!

What are you going to read next?
I should get on with Mary Stewart’s Merlin books, so that’s The Hollow Hills. I’ve also got endless amounts of ARCs to catch up with, of course, so there should be something from that list — Alan Bradley, perhaps.

Comics-wise, I still have Ms Marvel: No Normal and Captain Marvel: Higher, Faster, Further, More to read, so I’m sure they’re coming up soon. And the Black Widow comic, and the Kate Bishop as Hawkeye comic, and… yeah.

TBR Tag

Spotted this meme on Reading is my Treasure and picked it up since it looks like fun!

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

Never-ending lists, mostly. I have lists going back to 2011 of the books that I’ve acquired (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014), though that doesn’t include ARCs or library books. At the moment I’m also using my Stacking the Shelves posts as a visual reminder: look at old StS posts, figure out what I’ve read and what I haven’t, feel guilty.

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?
Probably ebook, but I’m not sure, because I do have a looooot of both. It’s easier to go on sprees with ebooks, though.

A Book That’s Been On Your TBR List The Longest

Ulysses by James Joyce, technically! It’s been on my list since a couple of months before my first year in university, anyway. Other than that, I think it’s my Diane Duane books.

A Book You Recently Added To Your TBR

Dangerous Girls, by Abigail Haas. I keep hearing so much about this!

A Book In Your TBR Strictly Because of Its Beautiful Cover

I don’t really pick based on covers, but there are some that partially appeal because of the pretty.

Cover of The Hidden Blade by Sherry Thomas Cover of Of Bone and Thunder by Chris Evans Cover of The Falconer by Elizabeth May

A Book On Your TBR That You Never Plan on Reading

Probably Ulysses… I just can’t find any appeal in it other than “you have two English Lit degrees, you are meant to read it”. Well, boo to that.

An Unpublished Book on Your TBR That You’re Excited For

Mmmmmm. Up to last week it’d have been Maplecroft by Cherie Priest, or maybe The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley. Right now, I guess it’s down to N.K. Jemisin’s next one…

Cover of The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin

A Book On Your TBR That Basically Everyone’s Read But You

Gotta go with Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, but there’s others too…

Cover of the special UK Collectors Edition of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell Cover of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart Cover of The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

A Book On Your TBR That Everyone Recommends To You

One of the above, probably! But also these, particularly Ancillary Justice.

Cover of Take Back the Skies by Lucy Saxon Cover of Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal Cover of Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

A Book On Your TBR That You’re Dying To Read

Oh, so many. I’d like to catch up on some of my comics, actually.

Cover of Dark Reign: Young Avengers Cover of Avengers Assemble: Science Bros Cover of Avengers Assemble: The Forgeries of Jealousy

How many books are on your Goodreads TBR shelf?

None. I don’t like the way they use that shelf. I have a bunch of specific shelves, but really I’m not keeping up with it very well since I started this blog.

I tag:

Whoever would like to do it!

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s theme from The Broke and the Bookish is apparently the back to school edition: top ten characters I’d have sitting at my lunch table. Given I was the deeply unpopular kid in a tiny school, I rarely ended up sitting with anybody except the other deeply unpopular kid, so I’ll choose to believe that I get to pick who is at my table and they can’t say no, even if they’re way cooler than me.

  1. Mori, from Among Others. Because she actually is one of the less popular ones, and we have a lot in common.
  2. Bran, from The Dark is Rising. Because being Welsh and an outcast, he has plenty in common with me and Mori.
  3. Cath, from Fangirl. I haven’t actually read all of this yet, but Cath’s anxiety issues and fangirlishness mean we have plenty in common too.
  4. Harriet Vane, from Dorothy L. Sayers’ Peter Wimsey Mysteries. Because omg, Harriet.
  5. Peter Wimsey, from Dorothy L. Sayers’ Peter Wimsey Mysteries. Because he’d be hilarious and wouldn’t give a fig about me being unpopular.
  6. Steve Rogers, from Captain America. In skinny!Steve mode, he fits in with this group pretty well. Post-serum, he’d sit with us anyway because arbitrary stuff about cool/uncool people is not fun.
  7. Bucky Barnes, from Captain America. Because how exactly you’d have Steve without Bucky following somewhere behind, I don’t know.
  8. Peeta Mellark, from The Hunger Games. Because he seems pretty nice.
  9. Katniss Everdeen, from The Hunger Games. Silent, glaring, and sticking close to Peeta.
  10. Susan Pevensie, from The Chronicles of Narnia. Because she gets a raw deal from her family in the end, who dismiss her for not fitting in with the rest of them. God knows I don’t have much in common with Susan, but she went to Narnia once. She must be a good person.

Okay, what’s everyone else thought of that will undoubtedly make my list look uncool?

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?