November 18, 2019, 08:01:30 PM

Author Topic: What did you read in May 2019  (Read 1090 times)

Offline Elfy

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What did you read in May 2019
« on: June 02, 2019, 05:19:55 AM »
Here it is: The what did you read this past month thread.

Come share your list and what you thought of the books you read last month. We're not looking for full out reviews, just a brief couple of sentences that sum up your impressions.

This is also not a contest for who read the most books, I know some of us struggle to find time to read one book a month, and others manage a dozen. That doesn't matter, so don't feel reluctant to post if you have read less books (or way more books) than others. This is all for sharing, and if you read anything, come let us know what it was and what you thought of it.
I will expand your TBR pile.

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Offline Elfy

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Re: What did you read in May 2019
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2019, 05:42:47 AM »
I started the thread, so I'll kick this one off.

It was a big month, I managed 10 this time.

That Ain't Witchcraft by Seanan McGuire. The 8th book of the InCryptid series. This was very Stephen King, it was even set in Maine. I think this has wrapped up one of the character's story arcs. Interesting enough ghost story, but not enough of the cryptids for mine and it also suffers from a lack of mice as did the last one.

Vultures by Chuck Wendig. The conclusion to what I think is one of the best urban fantasy series released in recent times. It started strong and it finished strong. Hard not to be drawn into Miriam Black's story in all it's foul mouthed glory and how she deals with her curse.

Skin Game, Side Jobs and Brief Cases by Jim Butcher. Yes, I reread the entire Dresden Files including the 2 short story collections. Seen Skin Game come in for a bit of criticism here, but I can't really see why. It's a fairly standard Dresden, admittedly the series has never quite recovered since Changes. The two short story collections are interesting for different reasons. The best stories in Side Jobs are the first and the last. The first because it was the first Harry Dresden story written and takes place before Storm Front. The last because it gives readers a view between Changes and Ghost Story and it also uses a different POV, not Harry. My favourites in Brief Cases were the 3 Bigfoot stories and the last which features 3 different first person POV's.

Amnesty by Lara Elena Donnelly. The triumphant conclusion to her Amberlough Dossier. The war is over, but the fight continues. It was good to see an old character return and centre largely around them. The whole thing was a stunning piece of work and brilliantly imagined and written.

The Haunting of Drearcliff Grange School by Kim Newman. It started off well and I was glad to see a return to the weirdness of the school, but it veered off track and I found it a struggle to complete.

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. This was awesome! One of the most fun and thought provoking things I've read this year. A girl who can speak to animals and a child genius who invented a time machine before his teens meet and become life long friends. Delightful.

Mun Mun by Jesse Andrews. Its meant to be YA, but it's quite deep at the same time. The concept is fairly simple, but has complexity. The more money you have the bigger you are physically. The story follows Warner, a littlepoor smaller than a rodent and his struggle to be bigger.

Gemini Cell by Myke Cole. Part of my reread project this year. I loved this the first time I read it and I enjoyed it every bit as much, if not more on a reread. The trilogy that this begins is easily the best thing Cole has written. Part super hero fantasy and part military thriller.

Offline ScarletBea

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Re: What did you read in May 2019
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2019, 02:01:26 PM »
I read 3 books in May, all really good :D

The hyena and the hawk, Adrian Tchaikovsky
The last book of the trilogy, it brought everything together and then some more. Who are you, in your soul? Are you the best story you can be?
Funnily enough, when Game of Thrones mentioned the importance of the story of the world in the last episode, all I could think of was "but Adrian addressed this exact thing in this series!"

Darksoul, Anna Stephens
Book 2 of the trilogy, it was grimdark turned to max. It took me a while to get into that frame, but then I thought it was a super book, everything made sense, the plot flowed, and I can't wait for the last book!

The poison song, Jen Williams
Another trilogy end, with excellent characters and a life that just seems to be at the distance of a thought. Super!
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Offline Skip

Re: What did you read in May 2019
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2019, 05:26:09 PM »
Three for me.

The Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Very well written, with a wonderfully epic scope to it, which was both its strength and weakness. When a story spans tens of thousands of years and multiple planets, it's difficult to get very close to the characters. Tchaikovsky employs a device (cryo-stasis) as a way to keep a handful of characters on stage, but it only partially worked for me. This was classic SF in the old tradition. I'd put it up against Clarke or Asimov any day; but they weren't great on characterization either. As with classic SF, I'm glad I read this mainly for the high concepts presented.

The Reverse of the Medal, by Patrick O'Brian. Another episode in the career of Lucky Jack Aubrey and his super-spy friend. I enjoy these books more and more the further I go. Hands down they're the best historical novels I've read. His ear for dialog was brilliant.

Persepolis Rising, by S.A. Corey. Another long series that just keeps getting better. I don't know how these guys do it, but they manage to give me high concept SF along with truly engaging characters--not just the main ones, but the secondary characters as well. And they somehow manage to keep raising the stakes, which is pretty astonishing, considering they started pretty much at full throttle. Plus, the whole series is an object lesson for writers in how to make a story serious without going grimdark.

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Online Peat

Re: What did you read in May 2019
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2019, 07:07:45 PM »
My three -

A Brightness Long Ago by GGK - Fantastic. Very typical GGK - blending of history and fantasy, grandiose psychodrama fixed on both huge personalities and bit-players, the ordinary and the great - with a focus on nostalgia and life-shaping moments that made it very poignant.

The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes - Great idea - it's sort of a mix of Toy Story and Sandman with a fully toy triceratops detective as the protagonist - but I didn't feel as taken with the story and voice as I wanted to be. Still a book I'd definitely recommend that everyone takes a kindle sample of it when available.

The Garden of the Hesperides by Lindsay Davies - Not her best.

Seen Skin Game come in for a bit of criticism here, but I can't really see why. It's a fairly standard Dresden, admittedly the series has never quite recovered since Changes.

You won't see that criticism come from me. That book had some absolutely fantastic moments and was just as generally good as most of the series for me. Might have preferred a different ending, but there we go.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2019, 07:29:15 PM by Peat »
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Offline cupiscent

Re: What did you read in May 2019
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2019, 04:51:24 AM »
I am so looking forward to the new Kay, so very lots.

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte, which I picked up because I saw the author at an event here in Melbourne (she's a local) but the book didn't quite work for me. Falls into that common YA trap of having way too many frantically moving parts and therefore never managing to explore any of them really deeply. But it was fun, and it's stand-alone.

We Rule The Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett who, in the spirit of full disclosure, shares an agent with me, otherwise I might not have picked this book up. And that would have been my loss, because this was AMAZING. YA fantasy, but entirely the opposite to the previous in execution. The language was lyrical but tightly controlled, the worldbuilding outstanding and the characters just magnificent, all complicated and prickly and faceted. I described it in an update as "A League of Their Own in the Soviet war machine". I loved it.

The Poppy War by RF Kuang, which was very warfare and grimdark. I think it was pretty well done, and the character arcs were really nicely balanced, but I had no fun in last 200 pages.

Offline DrNefario

Re: What did you read in May 2019
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2019, 01:53:56 PM »
A pretty good month for me. 9 in, 9 out.

Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea - Adam Roberts - I think this is a semi-sequel to the Jules Verne, which I've never actually read. Quite good fun, but I didn't really get the ending.

The Black Cauldron - Lloyd Alexander - Second book of Prydain. I was surprised how much I'd forgotten from the first, and how little it bothered to recap, but it was fairly enjoyable.

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen - Lois McMaster Bujold - Disappointingly slight entry in the Vorkosigan saga. Mild romance and not much happening.

Ruthless Magic - Megan Crewe - FF's SPFBO finalist. I really enjoyed this one. It might hit a few YA standards, but it's well-written and exciting. I'd have rated it higher in the contest.

The Nursing Home Murder - Ngaio Marsh - My monthly crime novel is a break from my regular Agatha Christie, but still a Golden Age Queen of Crime. Not bad, but a little unsatisfying.

Ritualist - Dakota Krout - A LitRPG book I borrowed on Prime Reading earlier in the year. I thought it was time to get it read and free up one of my Prime loan slots. I liked it a lot, and will be reading the second one.

Drawing for the Absolute Beginner - Mark Willenbrink & Mary Willenbrink - An old freebie I accidentally started reading on my Kindle Fire (which I tend to use for non-fiction). It was short and mainly pictures.

The Stone Sky - N K Jemisin - Concluding part of the Broken Earth trilogy. A fairly solid if inevitable conclusion. The main interest, I think, was the extra background material from the deep past.
 
A Closed and Common Orbit - Becky Chambers - I've been thinking of signing up for a Worldcon Supporting membership so I can vote in this year's Hugos. The third book in this series is up for Best Novel, so I thought I'd better get on and read the second one, and now I'm annoyed with myself for not reading it sooner. I didn't love the first book as much as some people seem to, but I really enjoyed this one, despite a couple of annoying science niggles (the body kit is a perpetual motion machine?)

Offline JMack

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Re: What did you read in May 2019
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2019, 03:10:06 PM »
A pretty good month for me. 9 in, 9 out.

Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea - Adam Roberts - I think this is a semi-sequel to the Jules Verne, which I've never actually read. Quite good fun, but I didn't really get the ending.

The Black Cauldron - Lloyd Alexander - Second book of Prydain. I was surprised how much I'd forgotten from the first, and how little it bothered to recap, but it was fairly enjoyable.

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen - Lois McMaster Bujold - Disappointingly slight entry in the Vorkosigan saga. Mild romance and not much happening.

Ruthless Magic - Megan Crewe - FF's SPFBO finalist. I really enjoyed this one. It might hit a few YA standards, but it's well-written and exciting. I'd have rated it higher in the contest.

The Nursing Home Murder - Ngaio Marsh - My monthly crime novel is a break from my regular Agatha Christie, but still a Golden Age Queen of Crime. Not bad, but a little unsatisfying.

Ritualist - Dakota Krout - A LitRPG book I borrowed on Prime Reading earlier in the year. I thought it was time to get it read and free up one of my Prime loan slots. I liked it a lot, and will be reading the second one.

Drawing for the Absolute Beginner - Mark Willenbrink & Mary Willenbrink - An old freebie I accidentally started reading on my Kindle Fire (which I tend to use for non-fiction). It was short and mainly pictures.

The Stone Sky - N K Jemisin - Concluding part of the Broken Earth trilogy. A fairly solid if inevitable conclusion. The main interest, I think, was the extra background material from the deep past.
 
A Closed and Common Orbit - Becky Chambers - I've been thinking of signing up for a Worldcon Supporting membership so I can vote in this year's Hugos. The third book in this series is up for Best Novel, so I thought I'd better get on and read the second one, and now I'm annoyed with myself for not reading it sooner. I didn't love the first book as much as some people seem to, but I really enjoyed this one, despite a couple of annoying science niggles (the body kit is a perpetual motion machine?)

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I’m currently reading “Death at La Fenice”, a police procedural set in modern Venice. The enjoyment for me is in the careful description of interpersonal interactions (and sometimes impersonal ones). It has some of the weight of PD James without the utter melancholy. Many small laughs, too.

Bujold seems to have lost interest in space opera hyjinx (sp?) which is a shame. I’m a Miles
fan from way back.

Agree about “Stone Sky”

And yes, I could always skip The Book of Three, and probably Castle of Llyr, too.
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Offline D_Bates

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Re: What did you read in May 2019
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2019, 09:52:21 PM »
i finished 'Magician' by Raymond E Feist. An interesting work for sure. It was a fine traditional fantasy, and what I liked I really really liked. What I found odd were the things I've done in my writing and evolved beyond as being first time mistakes, yet this book got a lot of acclaim and the general audience don't seem to be too fussy about it. That's certainly inspirational.

I read the extended edit, and my biggest gripe was the bloat. It felt like two stories in one, bouncing between the war between the worlds and the civil war going on in Midkemia, and I felt a bit short-changed with both by the end, despite them holding equal intrigue throughout.

I'm curious from somebody who's read both versions what parts he chose to cut out in the original publication. In particular the whole relationship arc with Carline and Roland felt pointless. Arutha's escapades also seemed oddly misplaced when it was Lyam who ended up being King, though they were enjoyable. The Dwarfs and Elves also seemed shoehorned in for Tolkian parallels, and boy were those big parallels. I'd have also liked to have seen Tomas and Pug face off at some point, but I'm guessing Tomas only existed to set up stories for later on.

The idea between the worlds I thought was fantastic and had me totally hooked when the portal first opened. The Tsurani culture  was a particularly interesting take on extreme imperialism. I wished there was more on the main war though. The magic felt all but forgotten throughout the middle portion of the book, and the Tsurani, for all their hype, came off rather poor in the end considering their military obsession, sheer numbers, high wizard support, and the fact that their opponents were knee deep in their own political machinations that would surely have weakened them. The issues in their own political spectrum seemed to be an excuse to hand wave why they hadn't conquered Midkemia rather than a solid reason for that failure. That said, I give Feist huge props on Guy Bas-du-Tyra, a character who arguably rises to the heights of second antagonist, was attention grabbing every time he came into discussion, and yet never once appeared on the page outside of hearsay!

PS, I do wonder how people read so many books in a single month O_o. I must be a really slow reader as I can only manage about 15-20 pages an hour and rarely have more than that a day to spare :(.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2019, 09:56:22 PM by D_Bates »
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Offline Lanko

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Re: What did you read in May 2019
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2019, 10:06:00 PM »
I only read A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan.

Very intriguing idea, gorgeous cover and excellent writing. The excitement with the beginning kind of goes away for quite some time when the book starts promising something like Indiana Jones/The Lost World and pretty much gives you Pride & Prejudice for a lenghty spell.
Even when the adventure starts, sadly they spend a great deal of time doing pretty much nothing. But the final third was really awesome (and I don't think it really was built up from the previous two thirds).
Slow and steady wins the race.

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Offline isos81

Re: What did you read in May 2019
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2019, 11:57:37 AM »
2 books for me:

Kings of the Wyld and Bloody Rose: I liked the books tho main plot was simplistic. I liked all those Heroes of Might and Magic game monsters. I liked the interaction and the battles. I think it was missing a little bit character development and the second book was like a repetitve of the first one.

I'll give the first one 7 and second one 6 over 10 :)
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Online Peat

Re: What did you read in May 2019
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2019, 03:21:11 AM »
i finished 'Magician' by Raymond E Feist. An interesting work for sure. It was a fine traditional fantasy, and what I liked I really really liked. What I found odd were the things I've done in my writing and evolved beyond as being first time mistakes, yet this book got a lot of acclaim and the general audience don't seem to be too fussy about it. That's certainly inspirational.

I read the extended edit, and my biggest gripe was the bloat. It felt like two stories in one, bouncing between the war between the worlds and the civil war going on in Midkemia, and I felt a bit short-changed with both by the end, despite them holding equal intrigue throughout.

I'm curious from somebody who's read both versions what parts he chose to cut out in the original publication. In particular the whole relationship arc with Carline and Roland felt pointless. Arutha's escapades also seemed oddly misplaced when it was Lyam who ended up being King, though they were enjoyable. The Dwarfs and Elves also seemed shoehorned in for Tolkian parallels, and boy were those big parallels. I'd have also liked to have seen Tomas and Pug face off at some point, but I'm guessing Tomas only existed to set up stories for later on.

The idea between the worlds I thought was fantastic and had me totally hooked when the portal first opened. The Tsurani culture  was a particularly interesting take on extreme imperialism. I wished there was more on the main war though. The magic felt all but forgotten throughout the middle portion of the book, and the Tsurani, for all their hype, came off rather poor in the end considering their military obsession, sheer numbers, high wizard support, and the fact that their opponents were knee deep in their own political machinations that would surely have weakened them. The issues in their own political spectrum seemed to be an excuse to hand wave why they hadn't conquered Midkemia rather than a solid reason for that failure. That said, I give Feist huge props on Guy Bas-du-Tyra, a character who arguably rises to the heights of second antagonist, was attention grabbing every time he came into discussion, and yet never once appeared on the page outside of hearsay!

PS, I do wonder how people read so many books in a single month O_o. I must be a really slow reader as I can only manage about 15-20 pages an hour and rarely have more than that a day to spare :(.

I've read the original and the extended and I honestly couldn't tell you what got added.

What I can tell you is when Feist sold the book, he was told he needed to add more stuff and I think that's where a lot of the Pug storyline came from. The world also came from his D&D group's setting which explains some of the trad fantasy elements.

I kinda agree with a lot of your criticisms but at the same time, the fact it was huge and sprawling and gave a lot of attention to minor characters that maybe didn't go anywhere is why I love it. I love the scope and ambition of it; it really engages my imagination.

Also, while I think you've got take a pinch of salt for the fact that was published a long ass time ago and times have changed, it is one of the many fantasy books out there that flies so directly in the fact of popular "This is usually the best way to go" writing advice that i find myself wondering whether its really all that.
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Offline IWFerguson

Re: What did you read in May 2019
« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2019, 07:33:19 AM »
I read The Thief Who Pulled Trouble's Braids by Michael McClung. I liked it quite a bit. I'm a sucker for thief characters.
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Offline D_Bates

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Re: What did you read in May 2019
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2019, 12:29:28 PM »
@Peat
Thanks for the response.

Hmm, I thought Feist was told to cut when he first sold the book, hence why this uncut version exists. I'm sure that's what he wrote in the author monologue.

In any case, I agree about the sprawling world. That was really well done, including the epic nature of the universe outside. Thinking back, he actually gave very little of the alien world, yet it never felt small. And don't get me wrong, I don't mind lots of characters so long as they have purpose. I actually think it's a good thing, because there's only so much drama you can put one person through before it becomes comical.
But things like the Carline and Roland angle really annoy me and make me feel like I've wasted my time, whereby both are just there with no significant impact on the story whatsoever, only for Roland to die off-page and be referenced near the end. It almost felt like Feist intended Carline and Pug to be a thing, but halfway through then changed his mind to give Pug the alien slave. But rather than cut/rework the scenes Carline was in, he left it as is and wrote the relationship out with the Roland romance that itself was written out with Roland's death. It just leaves a sour taste when I think that page space could have been better spent on the far more interesting story with Tomas and the elfs/dwarfs. But alas, maybe this is the writer's eye coming out of me.

I do agree with you on the 'modern rules of writing', though I'm getting the impression a lot of these always existed, they're just more widespread spammed nowadays. Most of the technical ones I understand the principle of, but they're not so much a don't do than if you do do, you need to execute them in a certain way to avoid confusion. The more general ones like 'don't use then or suddenly' piss me off more because I've yet to read a single book where the two words aren't sprinkled across every god damn page. But I'll leave it at that else this post could get longer than my usual walls of text :p.
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Online Peat

Re: What did you read in May 2019
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2019, 12:41:38 PM »
@Peat
Thanks for the response.

Hmm, I thought Feist was told to cut when he first sold the book, hence why this uncut version exists. I'm sure that's what he wrote in the author monologue.

Its all here - http://www.crydee.com/raymond-feist/magician-origins - although it looks like I was wrong on that being where the Pug stuff was added, looks like that's where a lot of the sprawl was added.

Quote
In any case, I agree about the sprawling world. That was really well done, including the epic nature of the universe outside. Thinking back, he actually gave very little of the alien world, yet it never felt small. And don't get me wrong, I don't mind lots of characters so long as they have purpose. I actually think it's a good thing, because there's only so much drama you can put one person through before it becomes comical.
But things like the Carline and Roland angle really annoy me and make me feel like I've wasted my time, whereby both are just there with no significant impact on the story whatsoever, only for Roland to die off-page and be referenced near the end. It almost felt like Feist intended Carline and Pug to be a thing, but halfway through then changed his mind to give Pug the alien slave. But rather than cut/rework the scenes Carline was in, he left it as is and wrote the relationship out with the Roland romance that itself was written out with Roland's death. It just leaves a sour taste when I think that page space could have been better spent on the far more interesting story with Tomas and the elfs/dwarfs. But alas, maybe this is the writer's eye coming out of me.

I agree that Tomas could have got more time.

But I like Roland/Carline. I like that the story didn't stop once Pug left the frame, and I like that we got to see what the two of them started to look like grown up, and I liked that there were some unhappy endings/tragedies/what ifs.

Quote
I do agree with you on the 'modern rules of writing', though I'm getting the impression a lot of these always existed, they're just more widespread spammed nowadays. Most of the technical ones I understand the principle of, but they're not so much a don't do than if you do do, you need to execute them in a certain way to avoid confusion. The more general ones like 'don't use then or suddenly' piss me off more because I've yet to read a single book where the two words aren't sprinkled across every god damn page. But I'll leave it at that else this post could get longer than my usual walls of text :p.

Agreed that they've always existed but are now more spammed - and have always been ignored to a certain extent too.