spindizzy: She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain. (Book turned brain)
[personal profile] spindizzy posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
These are from when I was drowning in Hugo reads (so chronologically following from this lot of books not the last installment), which was so stressful – I don't know how the Hugo regulars do this every year! Respect for you all, you do good work.

  1. The Art of Space Travel by Nina Allan [Jump]

  2. The Jewel and Her Lapidary by Fran Wilde [Jump]

  3. Touring With the Alien by Carolyn Ives Gilman [Jump]

  4. The October Daye Series Books 1-3 (Rosemary and Rue, A Local Habitation, and An Artificial Night) by Seanan McGuire [Jump]

  5. Geis: A Matter of Life And Death by Alexis Deacon [Jump]

  6. Paper Girls Volume One by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, and Matthew Wilson [Jump]

  7. Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens [Jump]

  8. Ms Marvel Volume 5 by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Adrian Alphona, and Nico Leon [Jump]

  9. Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies [Jump]

Cover of The Art of Space Travel Cover of The Jewel and her Lapidary

1. The Art of Space Travel by Nina Allan [Top]
This is a very quiet story, about a hotel housekeeper discovering who she is against the background of a manned mission to Mars. The scifi elements are almost in the background, but they're there; the focus is on Emily, the housekeeper, with her relationship to her mother and her detective work to work out who her father could be.

It's so genuinely delightful. It was a lovely story, and the way that Emily has to sift through her mother's scattered and contradictory stories to try to work out where she came from feels really realistic. Plus, even though the story might not necessarily be about either of the missions to Mars, it's still circling around them and I really like that.

(If you liked this one, I'm going to recommend When We Die On Mars by Cassandra Khaw; not necessarily because it's similar in tone or style, but because they both have family and one-way trips to Mars.)

[This review is based off a copy provided by the publisher in the Hugo packet.]

2. The Jewel and Her Lapidary by Fran Wilde [Top]
The plot of this one as far as I understand it is that there is a valley ruled by a family who can hear magic jewels, and their lapidaries, who help them to control this ability and not go mad. Which works fine right until the point that one of the lapidaries goes mad and stages a coup.

The thing I find interesting about this is the framing device – it's a fantasy story, but it's interwoven with a guide book talking about the valley and its widely-accepted history/mythology. It's cool! It puts a really odd contrast into the story – peaceful descriptions of landmarks and history, contrasted with the end of an era?

However, that's the main thing I remember about it. I remember vaguely what happened, but it just didn't make an impression and I feel so bad about that, because Fran Wilde is lovely? But I remember the theme of choosing who you listen to, who you trust, and I remember that the story has the characters trying to balance sacrifice and control? But it just didn't stick with me! I'm sorry!

(I was warned before I went in that it might count as Tragic Lesbians; it's not explicitly stated that either of the main characters are queer but I can definitely see why that warning was given, so it might just be something to be aware of.)

[This review is based off a copy provided by the publisher in the Hugo packet.]

3. Touring With The Alien by Carolyn Ives Gilman [Top]
I don't really have much to say about this one. The idea was interesting I guess, but I found the protagonists sudden shift in personality and reasoning for helping the alien at the end of the story to be a bit puzzling. Not for me.

[This review is based off a copy provided by the publisher in the Hugo packet.]

Cover of Rosemary and Rue Cover of A Local Habitation Cover of An Artifical Night

4. The October Daye Series Books 1-3 (Rosemary and Rue, A Local Habitation, and An Artificial Night) by Seanan McGuire [Top]
October Daye used to be a private eye who worked for the fae in San Francisco, because being a changeling made that a natural choice – right until she got forced to spend nineteen years as a fish after an investigation went wrong. Once the curse was broken, she tried to go back to a normal life, only to get dragged back into murders and mysteries. Rosemary and Rue is a murder mystery with curses; A Local Habitation is supposed to be Toby as a political envoy, and then; and An Artificial Night is a missing persons case with shades of Tam Lin.

I think my problem with this series is that I was sold on it as a mystery series with fae, and it's really really not. It's an extended character study with a vague mystery to hang the character stuff on, which is fine when that's what I'm expecting (see also: Sunshine is great, fight me), but when I'm expecting a mystery it makes me really salty. Especially because the foreshadowing is a bit too obvious for me and tends to reveal the plot about a third of the book before Toby realises what the plot is – it's been suggested that this might be because I have a lot of genre savvy for mysteries, and that other people didn't have this problem so absolutely judge that for yourselves! It makes Toby look absolutely oblivious though, which is frustrating for me as a reader.

As a character study though, they're not bad! Toby is a mess who flings herself into all of her problems like they're the last thing she's ever going to do (I think because in most of these they literally are), and her problem solving skills are inventive. I love her friendship group as well, though she doesn't treat them well – which I thought she'd learned by the end of the first book but more fool me – but I enjoy reading about them and how much she is loved, and how she absolutely cannot process it. The voice the story is written in is really great, especially for how Toby explains the weird politics and magic of the fae. I love how her magic works, because the reliance on nursery rhymes to help her shape it really makes me happy. And the scenes that are meant to be horrifying are really well written – there is a scene with the night haunts in A Local Habitation that is delightfully creepy! I just... Hit a point in book four where I couldn't deal with how unrelentingly terrible everything is for Toby and the people around her anymore?

I feel like I should love these a lot more than I do, especially because I think everyone in my online social group adores them. It might just be a combination of trying to read a lot of them in quick succession before the Hugos, which meant that I burnt out on them, and that my expectations of what they were were mismanaged. If I'd come to it as an urban fantasy series where sometimes there are mysteries and sometimes there is going to other planes to fight a creature from nightmares, maybe I would have been okay and I would love it as much as everyone else does! Especially because, as it's been pointed out, I really like Human Disaster heroes, so this might be internalised misogyny showing up to steal my wallet. As it is, I am taking a break from the series until I feel brave enough to try again.

[This review is based off the omnibus provided by the publisher in the Hugo packet.]

Cover of Geis: A Matter of Life and Death Cover of Paper Girls Volume One

5. Geis: A Matter of Life and Death by Alexis Deacon [Top]
This reads like the beginning of a folk tale, where upon on the death of a ruler, all of the candidates for heir are summoned and then disbanded to complete impossible tasks.

Only of course none of these people know why they've been gathered or how they'll complete their tasks. And of course there's Something Else going on.

It's interesting in its ideas, and I like both the protagonist and the art (it's got a wispy, painted art style that I SWEAR I recognise from somewhere but I can't put a finger on it), but it's not stuck with me enough that I'd buy the rest of the series. There's this odd mix of people being kinda generic Humourous Figures right there with people being eaten by wolves or having their tongues ripped out. And the contrast between the ostensible Person Who Wants The Job And Will Take Any Means To Get It and the protagonist, who is willing to work with other people is pretty obvious, but still kinda fun.

It didn't make much of an impression, I'm sorry! I'd suggest picking it up from the library if you like the idea of it, but not necessarily buying it.

6. Paper Girls Volume One by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, and Matthew Wilson [Top]
Ooh, okay, how DO I feel about this one? I like the idea of it, enough that I picked up the first issue in a comixology sale a while ago? It has a group of suburban papergirls in the eighties run into Officially Weird Things (including but not limited to time travellers, weird future tech, dinosaurs, their town getting potentially raptured, and Apple products.). And that is fine! I just didn't care. The plot moves very fast, even for a comic, but the downside is that it doesn't leave a lot of space to take in what's going on or build the characters very well.

I found the language the timetravellers speak to be interesting, and the hints of what's going on with the future is kind of cool (Is the leader of the timetravellers looking like a comic book writer/cult-leader going to get quite meta in later books? WHO KNOWS.), but honestly I wouldn't keep reading it.

[Caution warning: homophobic slurs, gore, dead queer characters.
This review is based off a copy provided by the publisher in the Hugo packet.]

Cover of Murder Most Unladylike Cover of Ms Marvel Volume 5 Cover of Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies

7. Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens [Top]
I read and talked about Murder Most Unladylike last year, but I've been flirting with audiobooks recently so I got to revisit the story again! I really like the actress they've got reading this one, her voice is really believable for Hazel, and it really brings to life how -aggravating Daisy can be. I enjoyed it a lot, and I recommend it if you're looking for a good mystery audiobook!

[Caution warning: period typical racism, bullying, at least one dead queer woman although there are others who live!]

8. Ms Marvel Volume 5 by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Adrian Alphona, and Nico Leon [Top]
I'll be honest, I was kinda wary of this one. Volume four was really good – it made me care about the end of the world in a Marvel comic! It's been years since that happened! It's just that volume five then has huge shoes to fill. I... Don't think it managed it. It's a solid story; it takes on gentrification and being a public figure (auuuuuugh Kamala I'm so sorry you have to deal with that), has Kamala learn how to balance her life, and had a genuinely sweet story arc about Aamir and faith and family that Kamala is genuinely great for when she is not literally ruining everything in a very realistic teenager way. Learning to set boundaries and support people is a great thing for Kamala to be modelling, and I really enjoyed that part.

(... Look, I'm sorry, I'm just really aware that Kamala is a comic that is really clearly aimed at teenagers, and I am now apparently old enough and boring enough that I can see when something is An Important Thing For The Kids To Learn. This is my life now.)

I think this was probably a fine volume, really, it just suffers for me having read volume four (probably the best Marvel comic I've read in years) and volume six (probably the worst Marvel comic I've read in years.) *sighs*

[This review is based off a copy provided by the publisher in the Hugo packet.]

9. Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies by Brooke Bolander [Top]
I am really mad that my last review of this got eaten by the void somewhere, but I guess I'm just going to have to talk AGAIN about how great Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies is! It's a blistering take on who gets to be the centre of stories (predators) and who gets to be a background detail (victims), and flips that script entirely. And it has lists, which is the best format for pretty much anything, no seriously. The little choices of phrase are lovely, and that last sentence takes my breath away. It's great.

Reading Goals

Reading goal: 70/150 (11 new this post) Prose: 32/50 (8 new this post)
New-to-me female authors: 14/50 (4 new this post; Nina Allan, Fran Wilde, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Brooke Bolander)
#getouttamydamnhouse: 27/80 (0 gone this post)
#unofficialqueerasfuckbookclub: 18/70 (None new this post D: D: D: )

Date: 2017-11-25 04:44 am (UTC)
subsequent: (-popcorn)
From: [personal profile] subsequent
As always, I'm enjoying the heck out of these. Thank you!

Date: 2017-11-25 05:35 pm (UTC)
ironymaiden: (Belle)
From: [personal profile] ironymaiden
I also had mixed feelings about October Daye, until I learned two things. 1) McGuire intentionally writes her as not good at being a detective, and 2) Toby is clinically depressed and everything is from her depressed POV.

Date: 2017-12-09 06:19 pm (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
I feel the same way about Papergirls. Honestly though I was most put off by the choice to centre a whole page size panel on a homophobic slur. I get that the character's use these slurs is intended to allow for teaching moments as other characters push back but I just thought about other readers getting a gut punch from seeing that panel and got really turned off.

Gonna check out the story by Nina Allen soon :)


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