Books read, early October

Wow, this was a notable fortnight for bouncing off books. I discarded fifteen books unfinished, so…yikes. Here’s what I did read.

K Arsenault Rivera, The Tiger’s Daughter and The Phoenix Empress. (The latter discussed elsewhere.) This is a big fat fantasy series of leisurely structure. If you’ve been missing the kind of fantasy where we get to see the protags grow up and learn to be the people they’re going to need to be, this is definitely that kind. The Tiger’s Daughter is a coming of age story for a couple of women (couple in both senses), one of whom is Empress and the other of whom is…extraordinary in other ways. That would be a major spoiler.

James Baldwin, The Amen Corner. A play about righteousness and families and who can learn and who can’t. Did not take long to read, much longer to think about.

Kelly Barnhill, Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories. Not only is this fantasy collection a lot of fun, there are some stories in it that speak my language down to the potlucks. It is very, very Minnesotan in spots, in ways that can be delightful whether you’re a native, a transplant, or an outside observer.

Justina Ireland and Troy L. Wiggins, eds. Fiyah Issue 8. Kindle. Martha Darr’s “Octopus” was the real standout of this issue for me, staying with me for days after I finished reading it.

N.K. Jemisin, The Obelisk Gate. This is the second volume in a justly multiply awarded fantasy series. The craft of it is just staggeringly good, and the ideas keep poking at me. It is, however, extremely grim, so if you hear “geology fantasy” and think “yaaaaay!”…that’s accurate, it’s just not complete. I’m very much looking forward to the concluding volume…but not right away.

T. Kingfisher, Clockwork Boys. A novella that is very clearly the beginning of a series, full of the kind of interesting creatures you would expect of Kingfisher (who is, in another life, Ursula Vernon). Like many such novellas, the pacing is a little weird, but the entire thing is charming enough to forgive it.

Rebecca Roanhorse, Trail of Lightning. This book is structured like a thriller–short chapters, short sentences, fast pace–but has a lot more depth of worldbuilding and characterization than your average thriller. I often want more well-done fantasy set in the future, and this is that–with a future that’s more than superficial shine. Definitely looking forward to the next.

Lynne Thomas, Michael Damian Thomas, and Michi Trotta, eds., Uncanny Issue 24. Kindle. I am in this. I don’t review things I’m in. But it’s there if you’re interested.

Rebecca Traister, Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger. This was more contemporary than I was hoping for. It was still informative in spots, and enraging/satisfying, but if you read a lot of women on Twitter, you may well already know this stuff–you may well have been there for it. It goes beyond Twitter and the #MeToo movement, but not as far beyond as I anticipated. Also it was emotionally grueling.

Martha Wells, Exit Strategy. The fourth and last Murderbot novella–there will be more Murderbot, but in novel form! This was a satisfying conclusion to this portion of the arc, lots of fun, return of characters whose return was implied by the structure of the series, hooray. Delightful, recommended–but don’t read this one first, read all of them. Read all of them! Yay all of them!

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