Harkworth Hall, L.S. Johnson
Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 1st August 2017
I picked up Harkworth Hall thanks to Bob @ Beauty in Ruins’ review; it sounded like a fun piece of Gothic romance with horror along the lines of William Hope Hodgson, rather than, say, Stephen King. All in all, pretty much up my alley — and even better, it features a relationship between two women (about which I’d better not say too much; Bob’s review already has a minor spoiler). I loved the women of the story: yes, they’re of their time, but they’re not completely circumscribed by the most strait-laced options available to women — Caroline has an independent streak, for one.
As for the horror aspect, it doesn’t go into that too much. It’s more of a sense of unease, of something uncanny, rather than all-out gore and cheap thrills (though there is a scene or two in which the threat is realised!).
I have just one quibble. At one point, two women are talking about being sensible, in the sense of being responsible and not rushing into danger, etc. Then one comments that they lack “sensibility”. Nooooo, that’s not what that word means! “Sensibility” is about appreciating and responding to emotion, not “being sensible” in our modern sense. Austen’s Sense and Sensibility is contrasting the two in its title, not pairing two like words.
That said, I’m looking forward to reading more of Caroline’s adventures, for sure.
Hey everyone! I’m back! And now I have to actually account for my hauls, erk. I’m gonna split it up into two posts, because, um, yeah. So look out next week for my fantasy haul!
Received to review:
Quite a bunch, right? I was really excited about most of these, and I’m so glad I got approved for them!
I’ve been meaning to read these for a while. I have high hopes of the Daisy Dalrymple books being my new Phryne-like fix…
I’ve been meaning to read all three of these entirely different novels for ages, so… here goes?
Bit of a mix, as per usual! I was glad to find something like Imagining Head-Smashed-In when I visited Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, because I would like to read more about First Nations people, and this was at least praised by modern First Nations people.
I read An Unsuitable Heir while I was away, and decided I really needed to read more by K.J. Charles. Here’s hoping they all match up in quality!
Read this week:
Reviews posted this week:
–Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris. I enjoy Harris’ work for light reading, but just don’t get along with Sookie. 1/5 stars
–Outer Space, Inner Lands, by Ursula Le Guin. It’s Ursula Le Guin’s SF short fiction. ’nuff said. 5/5 stars
–Camelot’s Honour, by Sarah Zettel. A beloved reread that winds together the Arthurian story and the non-Arthurian bits of the Mabinogion. 4/5 stars
–One Renegade Cell, by Robert Weinberg. At one point, this was the state of the art in describing and understanding cancer. It’s still pretty helpful. 3/5 stars
–Magic Shifts, by Ilona Andrews. As usual, a fun entry to the series. 4/5 stars
–An Unsuitable Heir, by K.J. Charles. A lovely romance/mystery I enjoyed on a lot of levels. 4/5 stars
–Fowl Language: The Struggle is Real, by Brian Gordon. Collection of a fun comic. 4/5 stars
–WWW Wednesday: What I’m reading at the moment!
Fowl Language: The Struggle is Real, Brian Gordon
Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 10th October 2017
I’ve seen the Fowl Language cartoons around now and again, but I’ve never really sat down to read a bunch of them. I know I’m not a parent, but I have rabbits, so I totally related to a lot of these. I’m not even kidding. Rabbits are just as contrary as a small child, and even less capable of explaining what they actually want…
The art is cute, but pretty samey; the theme is basically “parenting is hard but worth it”. It’s not a big revelation or anything, but it’s still a fun little collection — especially for a parent, I imagine.
An Unsuitable Heir, K.J. Charles
Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 3rd October 2017
I’m somewhat cautious when it comes to picking up LGBT fiction sometimes, because the quality often leaves something to be desired. Frankly, sometimes you wonder how some of it is published while some glorious writers stick to fanfiction. Still, I liked the sound of this book – and others by this author have been praised by friends – and I am, in fact, very glad I read it. It doesn’t feel like a book just written to get a pair of hot gay men together: it feels like plot and character come first, and the fact that these particular characters are attracted to each other and fall in love is second. Not secondary, because it is important to the story, but it feels natural.
Also, one of the couple has one hand due to a birth defect, and the other is non-binary, feeling that neither gender entirely suits him. Not that he has a word for it or a pronoun, given the setting, but the exploration of his gender identity is also integral to the story, explaining how he reacts and what he’s willing (and unwilling) to do.
The sex scenes, though not something I’m interested in per se, are tastefully written and avoid being just “insert tab A into slot B” – it’s not mechanical or forced, but feels natural to the story and characters and where they are in their relationship.
I imagine if you’ve read the previous books in the same series, you’ll enjoy the cameo appearances of a couple of other gay couples. For me, I’ve gone ahead and bought those books on the strength of this one, and I’m looking forward to it.
The three ‘W’s are what are you reading now, what have you recently finished reading, and what are you going to read next, and you can find this week’s post at the host’s blog here if you want to check out other posts.
What are you currently reading?
I think the only thing I really actively have on the go is Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. So far it’s okay, nothing’s started sailing over my head yet, but then I don’t know how deep into certain concepts he’s going to go. Some things seem to go in one ear and out the other no matter how simply they’re presented.
What have you recently finished reading?
Last night I finished the ARCs of Taste of Marrow, by Sarah Gailey, and The Beautiful Ones, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I enjoyed both; I want more of Houndstooth and Hero’s adventures in Gailey’s books, and I do hope there will be more. I thought The Beautiful Ones a little slow/frustrating at times, because it relied on people constantly misunderstanding each other and/or not reaching out when they should or saying something they should or… whatever. But I did enjoy it.
What will you read next?
Not sure. The next thing I’m about to lose access to from Adobe Digital Editions is The Last Namsara, by Kristin Ciccarelli, but there’s a bunch of others on pretty much the same timescale. The shortest looks to be Andy Weir’s Artemis, which I did already try to start, so maybe I’ll work on that. I wasn’t that into it, which is sad — we’ll see, though.
What are you reading?
Magic Shifts, Ilona Andrews
It’s been a while since I read this, and I’m not sure why I didn’t write a review at the time. Since it’s been a while since I read it (eek, a year!) I can’t comment in much detail, but it’s a worthwhile addition to the series, starting a new chapter in Kate and Curran’s lives — and spending more time dealing with who exactly Kate is, what Roland can do, and what Kate and Curran are going to do without the Pack.
Not that they’re entirely without their old allies, of course…
It’s pretty much what you’d expect from this series, in other ways: pacy writing, Kate and Curran being badass but also idiots, and some really weird shit going on that they really should deal with. If you’ve enjoyed the series so far, you’ll enjoy this one too.
One Renegade Cell, Robert Weinberg
One Renegade Cell is a classic by now in terms of pop science books which explain cancer for an interested but non-specialist audience. It’s a little out of date, and some of the hopes Weinberg talks about in terms of treatments to come haven’t come to pass at all. But the basics are still true, and you can get a good basic understanding of how cancer works by reading it. It’s clear and accessible, and I didn’t find it prone to fear-mongoring either — sometimes when someone is writing about cancer, it seems like they can’t help but try to scare the reader silly.
One Renegade Cell doesn’t try to mystify cancer or play up its impact; the impact of cancer pretty much speaks for itself. It’s a solid read, even though it’s out of date now.
Camelot’s Honour, Sarah Zettel
Camelot’s Honour might be my favourite of the quartet, now that I think about it. Okay, Camelot’s Shadow has Gawain, and the clever weaving together of the story of the Green Knight and the story of the Loathly Lady… but this is the most Welsh-inspired book of the quartet, including characters from the Mabinogion and weaving together various strands of mythology which aren’t necessarily Arthurian. I’m not a purist about that; I loved it.
It might not be the most stirring of the love stories, but the quiet strength Elen and Geraint have together is great. He’s the strong and silent type, less susceptible to a pretty face, and a bit less lionised as completely amazing by Zettel, which makes him more interesting.
Maybe I could wish for a few more of the themes of this book, not to mention the characters, to carry through into others of the series. But it’s still great fun.
Outer Space, Inner Lands, Ursula Le Guin
Outer Space, Inner Lands is the second of two volumes collecting together the best of Ursula Le Guin’s short fiction. It’s also the one containing all the SF work, or at least all the less realistic work, and it contains stories like ‘Those Who Walk Away from Omelas’, one of Ursula Le Guin’s most famous stories (at least among people I know) — though not my favourite, as I think the moral is obvious from the beginning.
As always, Le Guin’s writing is clear and strong, and the stories chosen here span her career and showcase all kinds of different ideas and different phases of her work. I prefer it to the first volume, because I find Le Guin’s speculative fiction more accessible.
She’s brilliant. Do yourself a favour.
Dead Until Dark, Charlaine Harris
I could have sworn I reviewed this back when I read it, which was quite a while ago, but apparently not. So this review will be pretty short. Basically, I felt that Sookie wasn’t convincing as a protagonist — she’s just so stupid (“oh, I’ll just wander into a dangerous situation, everything will be fine!”) and yet so lucky (everything is indeed fine). I didn’t find those decisions she made plausible, at least not for a character I’m meant to like.
I do actually enjoy Harris’ books as light reading, or at least I liked the Harper Connolly books. So unfortunately it’s probably mostly that I really didn’t take to Sookie.