The better to see you, my dear
Review
4 Stars
Zanny hodgepodge
Fortunately, the Milk - Neil Gaiman, Skottie Young

This one is a fast, fun read. The pictures add a lot to the laughter inducing ride too. And I loved some of the reference zings.

Review
5 Stars
"Life is stronger than death"
The Big Wave - Pearl S. Buck

What a lovely book. Buck never dissapoints me. In short pages, simply written, she tackles overcoming grief with quiet grace and wisdom. She talks about the meaning of death and how it makes life and enjoying it important, about the courage of going forward, and about not letting the sadness of remembrance or the fear for it get in the way of joy. The impressive part is that it's done in 60 pages of telling about two boys lives. Kino's dad is the speaker of most of the wisdom, and it's done so plainly you wish he was your own dad.

 

Beutiful tale. Full stars.

Review
3 Stars
Bland seed
Wraiths of Time - Andre Norton

This is my first try on Andre Norton, a hugely prolific author striding the barrier of fantasy/sci-fy, and (I hear) an icon of the genre. I'm likely to dip in again; I finished this one in little time, as much because it was short, as because it was very easy to read.

 

I would have loved (as in capital letters, LOVED) this book when I was about 13. This could be taken as indictment or praise, and I guess I'm wavering between the two. On one hand, my taste has... I don't know if matured is the word, it sounds presumptuous, but having read several run-of-the-mill, I search for the exceptional now, so maybe I've become picky. This book doesn't meet that standard. On the other hand, I'm also reading "On Writing" by Stephen King, and in a clear case where one read influences another, I find that the story, while not amazingly written, was entertaining, the premise just what I'd been searching for and the execution serviceable.

 

So I'm not left with book hangover, but it's a good imagination launcher. Not meaty, but opens a world where you'd like to revel in and keep adding on, daydream or fanfiction style.

Review
2 Stars
Bah!
A Painted Goddess (A Fire Beneath the Skin Book 3) - Victor Gischler

No, no, nope. This one didn't do for me. It wasn't bad perse, I guess, but no. I was bored, and I was annoyed, and while I liked some elements, and kinda expected the ending... still no.
 
I think mostly it is that this volume, and the previous one, exacerbated a vague sense I had in the first install of lack of substance. I can't quite explain it, that feeling, but it was as if the story check-marked. Also, vol 2 and 3 was too scattered. It was necessary for the plot, and that's the thing: it felt forced (mcguffing retrieval, all of them, and amazingly serendipitous, which aligns with the "fate" thing the plot has going, but still sucks). The empress pov, while interesting, was totally pointless.

 

So, yeah, so not for me.

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Review
3 Stars
Hot with issues
The Mistress Experiment (Mistress series #1) - Elizabeth  Otto

Okeeey, that was sizzling. Hot power plays from the tame side and an alpha done right, so mostly good sexy points. And I liked the inner struggle about control and the need for it, and how it was treated.


I do have a couple of issues:

It needs editing: misspellings and wrong wording.

One instance of misuse of the word feminism that can be hand-waived but bothered me.

 

Then of course, the more or less stupid background detail: Alcoholism doesn't stop like that. But well...

And what's up with people's bad English??? Let me tell you, you spend a couple of months working and living with people speaking another language, you learn your basic grammar fast. And come on! Latin food?? Like the whole bit from Texas down is one big heterogeneous group? She's Puerto Rican, what's Mexican have to do with her sense of childhood, or homeliness???

 

That fucking ending:

so much girding and determination gathering, and the gal drops uni to say yes. Fuck no! Your contract ends in six month! You propose to go with HER, not the other way around.

(show spoiler)

 

Wow... I really got into it. I still had fun, and I'll read more by the author at some point.

Review
5 Stars
When they do get granted
Five Children and It - E. Nesbit

I took my time, but finally, I sat and finished. I'm so happy.

 

This is a charming book. Beyond the general cautionary about wishes, the kids learn the downsides of some of the usual daydreams one has a child. I admit I had a blast waiting to see how some of the wishes would go wrong. Some I could foresee, some turned bad in unexpected, spectacular and laughter inducing ways.

 

And in the end, their basic, starting, never stated wish did get granted: they certainly had a vacation that was not boring at all.

Review
5 Stars
You are what you do
A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett

Gorgeous introspective book. Reading this right after The Secret Garden, it's easy to be amazed and enchanted by Hogson Burnett's ability to transport the reader to that state in childhood where the mundane is made magical with barely a flick of the mind. I reckon that's one of the draws of these books for adults, and part of that lost essence we always try to come back to when reading the beloved volumes of our early years.

 

As for the story itself, it's a bittersweet monument to self-assurance. Sara is a lovely child, spoiled too like our previous leads in the Secret Garden, but of the sweet variety. In a way, her journey is foreshadowed by her wondering whether she's good, and whether she can ever know while the world insists on making her happy. Boy, does the world complot to give her that unstated wish to know.

 

And boy, does she prove herself.

 

I suppose"--to Sara--"that you feel now that you are a princess again."
(...)
"I--TRIED not to be anything else," she answered in a low voice-- "even when I was coldest and hungriest--I tried not to be."

Reading progress update: I've read 120 out of 242 pages.
A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett

She's shouting to (at, but given the context....) her doll. I can read it straight, and it's a heart-breaking picture of lost innocence and the death of illusions, or I could read between the lines and say she's identifying with the doll and venting some self-hatred, which adds a layer of insight that makes it quite the unexpected bitter pill for a children's book. Hats off.

Review
3 Stars
Mixed bag, but I so want this magazine
Clarkesworld Magazine Issue 71 - Sofia Samatar, Neil Clarke, Kij Johnson, Catherynne M. Valente

I came to this issue by clicking on other Valente's stories besides "Silently and Very Fast".

 

Mantis Wives by Kij Johnson was... a gory allegory? I'm unclear and I didn't quite care for it. Pity, because Ponies, of the same writer, was too a gory allegory that is awesome in it's absolute cruelty.

 

Honey Bear by Sofia Samatar was damn freaky in how fast it pulls you in an unexpected, creepy direction. Full stars.

 

Fade to White by Katherine Valente reads like the beginning of a Dystopia novel. Leaving it there makes it a damned grim and hopeless, but it's an engrossing and disquieting piece.

 

As for the articles, Magic Systems felt thin, arbitrary and too anglo-centric. Plausibility and Truth was awesome. Finding the Good is a bit heartwarming, but not unexpected to my geek self. Somewhat fringe communities tend to flock to beloved members. The Conversation with China was interesting, and I might end up reading something of his.

 

An uneven whole, but interesting. I wonder if the is a printed version of this, and if the magic of globalization would ever drop some issues in my corner of the word for me to purchase.

Reading progress update: I've read 25%.
Clarkesworld Magazine Issue 71 - Sofia Samatar, Neil Clarke, Kij Johnson, Catherynne M. Valente

 

Now, kids, don't forget to register your gift with the Ladies' Auxiliary. We wouldn't want your Daddy to get two of the same gift! How embarrassing! That's why Gimbels carries the complete Whole Father line, right next to the registration desk so your Father's Day is a perfect one.

 

Wuh? OMG! No wonder his "job is here" and the days alloted, and... damn! They are the only ones that don't go to war, aren't they?

Review
5 Stars
Interior world
Silently and Very Fast - Catherynne M. Valente

This was so fucking weird. Gorgeous mind-screw. There is no way to really understand unless you walk the fine edge between paying close attention and just letting it flow. I can't even give a proper summary without diving into spoiler territory.

 

Dream-like and powerful in imagery, heavy on symbol, it draws a lot on traditional narrative devices and gives stark, analytical spins to them, (sometimes to such a violent degree, it becomes surprising or disquieting, and I've done my fair amount of research on the psychology of myth and fairy-tales; that's Valente for you). Monomyth is a concept that comes up a lot. Turing test too, to an ironic (bittersweet, vindictive, awesome) final mention.

 

It's a slow piece, patchwork style and complex. It demands you to think, about what you are reading and about things like the definition of feelings, of love, of being and self, of likeness and difference, of knowledge against imitation, and where the line is drawn. I had to reassess many of them in my mind as I read, and that's really something.

Review
3 Stars
Rose Lady
Shalador's Lady - Anne Bishop

Nothing remarkable about this one. Like the previous install, it read more like a romance set in the Dark Jewell's world, with some glimpses in the main cast if you "are just here for Godzilla". That said, it does OK, or at least it didn't make me want to throw it against the wall out of the sheer stupidity inside like Tangled Webs.

Review
5 Stars
Spoiled sour meets spoiled sick
The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

LOVED it. Sour Mary, spoiled Colin, chatty Martha, angelic Dickon, curmudgeon Ben, wise Mother, the whole thing.

 

Best part for me was where Mary starts shouting to Colin over his hypochondria induced tantrum. Lord, was the girl vicious! It was funny in an overboard, freeing way.

 

A very sweet classic  that makes you love unlikely leads.

Talk about characters you hate to love
The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

This is an awesome begginning! I'm torn between amusement, pity and annoyance (much like when in front of one of those cluelesly spoilt children) and it's grand.

Review
3 Stars
This is not that book
Insomnia - Stephen King

I reckon I'll have to come back to this one after I've read the whole Dark Tower saga. Knowing the broad strokes of King's over-arching mythos I got most of what was going on, but I don't think I enjoyed it as much as I might.

 

That said, it was not what I expected. I thought it would explore a failing mind by sleep deprivation into scary country, with some supernatural thrown in. This is not that book. Just letting you guys know, if you come with the same hope. Because that stuff in the hands of King would be freaking amazing.

currently reading

Progress: 35/319pages
Progress: 65/318pages
Progress: 150/272pages
Progress: 240/324pages
Shadow Touch - Marjorie M. Liu
A Room with a View - E.M. Forster
El Silmarillion - Rubén Masera, Luis Domènech, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien