I try to keep up with my reading on Goodreads, but I thought I’d put a few mini-reviews on here as well. This is some of what I’ve been reading lately:
The Blue Sword – Robin McKinley – I read it a long time ago and remembered really enjoying it, but not much else about it. A sword? A girl kidnapped by magic desert-people? I reread it and yes, I enjoyed it just as much the second time. It’s not my favorite book ever, but it’s one of the earliest fantasy books I remember reading, so it was fun to rediscover it. It was one of the first books I read that made me think about how magic could be important to a story without being an instant fix for any problem. It’s also a great love story without being a love story… the love is there, but it develops quietly and behind the scenes, so I enjoyed it much more when it was finally brought to the front. I enjoyed the subtlety of that side of the story. You can see it, but it’s carefully written in the actions of the characters, not the words.
The Door in the Hedge – Robin McKinley - a collection of short stories. I’ve only read the first one so far, but I enjoyed it. Her Fae are amazingly different than mine, and I sometimes have to remember that mine are not the “standard” Fae. Not that hers are exactly either, but they’re probably closer to what many people imagine at first.
The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastards #1) – Scott Lynch – I’m only about a quarter of the way into this, but it’s very enjoyable so far. So far the story is alternating between Locke Lamora as an adult and master thief, and Locke as an orphan child thief (a bratty little troublemaker who somehow manages to be more sympathetic than everyone around him). It’s full of fantastic little lines like “There’s no freedom quite like the freedom of being constantly underestimated.” and this quote from the thiefmaster talking about Locke (as a child) and how much trouble he is:
I’ve got kids that enjoy stealing. I’ve got kids that don’t think about stealing one way or the other, and I’ve got kids that just tolerate stealing because they know they’ve got nothing else to do. But nobody–and I mean nobody–has ever been hungry for it like this boy. If he had a bloody gash across his throat and a physiker was trying to sew it up, Lamora would steal the needle and thread and die laughing. He…steals too much.
The Law of the Wolf (The Outlaw King #2) – S. A. Hunt – I’ve barely started it but I know it will be good! The first book in the series, The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree, was fantastic. Hunt is almost done with the third book, so I’m looking forward to that one too. As of this writing, the Kindle file for The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree had been updated to include both books for only $3.99 (making the first one free)… this is money well-spent. Don’t miss this one.
King Solomon’s Mines – H. Rider Haggard – Ye old-fashioned adventure yarn, complete with amusingly naive moments like when the character notes that he and the men with him were at the edge of death by starvation after not eating for two and a half whole days. You don’t actually die of starvation at 72 hours! I mean, it wouldn’t be fun, especially if you’re hiking over the wilds of Africa, but you wouldn’t starve. Anyway, it’s a fun lost-world adventure. It’s also short, and the only reason I’m not done with it yet is that I got distracted reading something else.
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China – Jung Chang – Fantastic and incredibly dense and extremely depressing at times. I tend to read 20-100 pages and then put this down for a month or two (or three…) to emotionally recover. I’m SO CLOSE to done and have almost gotten up my courage to finish it. It’s worth reading, but it’s not “fun” reading.
The Sword of Bedwyr – R. A. Salvatore – Oh wow, where do I start with this? I figured I needed to read something by Salvatore, since I hadn’t before and he was/is a big name. But oh my. It had some surprisingly well-done moments hidden in large swathes of… I don’t even know what. It was competently written, I guess… it just made me wonder why. The races are (I think) straight out of D&D (which I’ve never played, so I could be guessing here…)… elves are slim, beautiful archers, dwarves are short, stout, and work in mines, halflings (yes, they’re actually called that) are happy-go-lucky, and men are the only ones with any variation in physical characteristics, personality, and morality. I’m not a fancy prose writer… I tend more toward the lean and to-the-point, hopefully with a bit of eloquence every now and then. But this made me feel positively poetic. It wasn’t bad, it was just very basic. I particularly disliked many of the fight scenes… the first one was pretty well-written and the blow-by-blow account served an important narrative purpose. The others did not need to be told in such detail. A lot of it felt kind of repetitive, like we’d be shown something through dialogue, and then the prose would reiterate the same point, and then later the character would remember when it happened (with no particularly important new revelation or understanding). I err on the side of not providing enough info, so this probably bothers me more than it does others. It makes me feel like the author doesn’t trust me to remember or understand what he’s showing me. To be fair, I think this is one of Salvatore’s earliest books and not considered one of his best. But I won’t be continuing the series, at least not now… I have a lot of other books on my To Be Read list that are more enticing.