branewurms: (Skip Beat - eternal fangirl)
So it's time for another THINGS WHAT I HAVE READ post. I've been keeping more notes on what I'm reading since joining Goodreads. Somehow it feels more laid back there, like there's less pressure to write a "real" review. (...Oh, and if you missed my post before, here I am on Goodreads.)

I'm copying these from Goodreads - they're more glorified notes and reaction shots than proper reviews. (In some cases, not even glorified.)

Spoiler: I REALLY, REALLY LIKED MECHANIQUE, Y'ALL. LIKE, REALLY. YOU SHOULD ALL GO READ IT RIGHT. NOW. Incidentally, you should also go stalk Genevieve Valetine's blog ([ profile] glvalentine), because her bad movie reviews are absolutely hysterical.

Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus TresaultiMechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti by Genevieve Valentine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't even know how to say anything about this book. I mean, steampunky, magical, timeless circus! Awesome, right? But the Awesome Factor(tm) doesn't even begin to cover it. This book was beautiful. Really and simply beautiful. Elegantly understated (it was amazing how much was conveyed with so few words), with an eerie emotional force. A real sense of - how should I say it? - mono no aware, I think. (Which is a little strange, given the particular nature of the Circus's secret, but I think it fits.)

Oh, and the illustrations! They were so perfect! They really helped tie the whole thing together into a - a production, if you see what I mean.

One thing I don't understand though: (spoiler)I don't get why Boss couldn't save Barbaro. Supposedly she had to be nearer to him when he died to bring him back? But she brought the composer back to life after - 3 days, was it? - and George brought Bird back after Stenos said she'd died two hours ago. So I don't get it.

Red GloveRed Glove by Holly Black

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

...There's going to be more, right? CASSEL WILL GET A HAPPY ENDING SOME DAY, RIGHT???

(Srsly, y'all, I'm loving this series but my heart can't take it ;alksdjf;lak.)

Steam-Powered:  Lesbian Steampunk StoriesSteam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories by JoSelle Vanderhooft

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this. One of the most entertaining anthologies I've ever read - only a couple of these really left me cold. My absolute favorites of the bunch were Rachel Manija Brown's Steel Rider (like a really trippy, lesbian Gundam set in the wild west!) and Mike Allen's Sleeping, Burning Life (amazing, surreal tale of gods and a warrior woman in a world made of gears!). Close runners up would be NK Jemisin's The Effluent Engine, Meridith Holmes's Love in the Time of Airships, Shweta Narayan's The Padishah Begum's Reflections, and Amal El-Mohtar's To Follow the Waves. All in all, a nice mix of the fun and the artsy, with lots of gears and lots of lady love.

Only downside was that there were an unusual number of formatting and editing hiccups in this. (This is really 4 1/2 stars rounded up, I guess, on account of the editing iffiness.)

Akata WitchAkata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So I wandered off from this for a little over a week and then finished the second half of the book in an afternoon. Lawl, idek. But I didn't wander off because it wasn't good or anything - it was great! A lot of fun. I felt the plot was a little meandering and the climax was kind of abrupt, but overall it was a solidly constructed and entertaining story. I keep hearing this referred to as a "Nigerian Harry Potter." I'm not so sure about that - it's much more inventive than Harry Potter, in my opinion - but I do think it would probably appeal to Harry Potter fans, since it shares a lot of basic themes in common. Highly recommended in general, and it'd probably be a great choice if you're trying to introduce a kid (or an adult) to good YA fantasy lit outside the usual whitewashed fantasy settings.

One thing that struck me as kind of odd was that the writing style and overall tone felt more like a children's book, while the occasionally mature/dark subject matter and smattering of profanity made it obvious that it was aimed at the YA market. This isn't a complaint - I didn't think it was a bad thing at all - it just struck me as unusual enough to note.

This is also one of those books that make me think I should have a "totally awesome book covers" shelf. Jillian Tamaki = THE BESTEST.

Teeth: Vampire TalesTeeth: Vampire Tales by Ellen Datlow

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An uncommonly good collection. Highly original, fun stuff from a bunch of authors I already loved and some new-to-me ones I now want to check out. Only a two or three entries really fell flat for me, which considering my usual ambivalence towards short story collections is impressive. (And this after Steam Powered! I hope this is the start of a trend.)

I think my favorites were Genevieve Valentine's "Things to Know About Being Dead," Delia Sherman's "Flying," and Catherynne Valente's "In the Future When All's Well." (Neil Gaiman's poem "Bloody Sunrise," however, made me wonder if he was even trying, but hey, can't win 'em all, I guess.)

Pay the Piper: A Rock 'n' Roll Fairy TalePay the Piper: A Rock 'n' Roll Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I only got about 30 or 40 pages in. This was terrible. Honestly, it was terrible. The characters are cardboard and unbelievable, and my God, the dialogue! I have never in my life heard children that speak like this! I was actually sitting there flailing around angrily at how stiff and inexplicably unbelievable the dialogue was, yelling "HAVE YOU EVEN EVER SPOKEN TO A TEENAGER." Plus, a whole high school all excited about a folk rock band with a medieval schtick coming to town? Idk, maybe there are places where that would happen, and I've just never encountered it, but I found it hard to believe. (Let's not even get into how embarrassing I found that first rock show scene. I gave up soon after that.)

I was surprised by how awful this was, considering I've read a couple of Yolen's works before and thought them pretty decent.

The Merlin Conspiracy (Magids, #2)The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really enjoyed this one (especially loved that a girl got to be the most instrumental one in saving the day this time), although finding out that (spoiler)Nick had, by completely unrelated actions, set the whole thing in motion in the first place left me feeling strangely exhausted - and also kind of confused, because the timeline doesn't seem to make sense. (I mean, we were dealing with a bunch of places running on different times, so confusion was inevitable, but I'm just sayin'...) Was wincing at Dora's constant comments about "Orientals" (she was supposed to be ignorant, but nobody really called her out on it other than to note that Nick was not, in fact, "an Oriental"?) and disconcerted by several characters' comments on dyslexia. (Yes, Romanov, it's all well and good that you worked around it so easily, but that doesn't necessarily mean everyone can!) Also wanted more of a resolution to the problem with Roddy's and Grundo's friendship.

Er, that sounded rather luke-warm! Actually, I thought it was pretty great overall, if a little uneven.

The Ogre DownstairsThe Ogre Downstairs by Diana Wynne Jones

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fun read, as usual, but not as good as many of her later books. Also, I was rather disconcerted by the kids and the stepfather all realizing that they weren't trying to understand each other, really, and yay we'll all be a happy family now, when to my mind the stepfather's behavior often rose to abusive levels. Mild abuse, I suppose, but abuse is abuse.

HuntressHuntress by Malinda Lo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mixed feelings on this one. I did like how the kingdom's culture was completely accepting of same-sex love (same as its predecessor, Ash), and I did enjoy the book. Structurally speaking, it's an improvement on Ash, but I thought it still suffered from shallow characterization like Ash did, and I never felt particularly swept up in the characters' feelings. It had the same slow, dreamy pacing of Ash, but where that pacing suited the fairytale atmosphere of Ash, it made this fantasy adventure seem to drag a bit. I was somewhat dissatisfied by the ending, too.

Still, worth reading, and an author to watch.

MoonshineMoonshine by Alaya Dawn Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Aside from some nitpicky things, I loved this to death - but the ending. The ending! :( IS THERE GOING TO BE A SEQUEL? Please tell me there's going to be a sequel!


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lim⋅i⋅nal ho⋅ri⋅zon

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