23 December, 2011

'The Stranger' by Max Frei

Okay, I give in. I can't do it. Max Frei, you have beaten me, and not in a good way. I was hoping not to come across a book I couldn't finish so soon after starting this blog, but I've been slogging away at this one for over two weeks now, and with a stack of other books waiting for me, I have to cry uncle. Want to know why The Stranger didn't hold water? Read on...

16 December, 2011

screw fitzgerald; i like exclamation marks

In the absence of recommendations from my friends or other blogs I read, I tend to head to the bookstore or the library and use my inner divining rod to lead me in the direction of stuff I'll like. This works well sometimes (I discovered Sarah Rees Brennan and the Kushiel series this way) and not so well other times. Like now, when I'm slogging through a book I'm not in love with, but don't hate enough to abandon. I should've known better than to try an experiment in reading during the week before Christmas when I work in retail...

At any rate, I bring you an updated schedule. Please note that I post these mostly for self-accountability; I don't really expect most of you to care what I plan to read and when. But if I tell you all when something will be posted, there's a much higher likelihood that it will actually get written on time. :)

  • The Stranger by Max Frei - December 22
  • Treasure Island!!! by Sara Levine - December 26 (library)
  • Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore - December 31 (optimistically; might be rearranged depending on the effects of too much holiday punch on my ability to read before bed)
  • Sweetly by Jackson Pearce - January 3 (library)
  • Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel - January 6 (library)
  • The Godfather of Kathmandu by John Burdett - January 10
  • Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar - January 13
I hope that those of you celebrating holidays over the next weeks celebrate them in good spirits. And as always, if you're reading anything interesting, drop me a comment and let me know. Especially heading into 2012; there are only so many books I can read before the end of the world. I want to make sure I prioritize. 


07 December, 2011


Well, we're coming up on the end of the year here, and I'm going to try like the dickens to make sure I finish this list in time. This schedule thing is working out; I can't remember the last time I read six books in a month, unless you count the month I was reading the Lemony Snicket books. Anyway : a schedule.
  • Green by Jay Lake   11/16

  • Boneshaker by Cherie Priest   11/21

  • Crossed by Ally Condie - 11/26

  • Embassytown by China Miéville   12/1

  • Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce - 12/3

  • The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett   12/7

  • The Stranger by Max Frei - 12/19

  • Goliath by Scott Westerfeld - 12/31
Then, heading into the new year, I'm picking up a few more urban fantasies, as well as a straight mystery, because I'm obsessed with Burdett's Bangkok Detective series and I can't not snap that up as soon as I see it.
  • Bloodsucking Fiends : A Love Story by Christopher Moore - 1/5

  • The Godfather of Kathmandu by John Burdett - 1/10

  • Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar - 1/17
I'd love some recommendations for what to add to the list, if any of you have read anything interesting lately and want to pass it along. Til next time! --emily

"The Company Man" by Robert Jackson Bennett

If you've ever sat down with a Philip Marlowe novel and thought, 'Hm, you know what would make this book even more awesome? Airships and mind-readers!' then you'll probably enjoy The Company Man as much as I did. Which, you know, not that I ever had actually had that thought before, but damn if I won't be having it about stuff pretty regularly from now on...

03 December, 2011

'Sisters Red' by Jackson Pearce

'Sisters Red' first caught my eye in the bookstore because of the awesome cover. I love YA, I love adapted fairy tales, and I love the growing population of badass teenage girls in YA fiction these days. This modernization of the Little Red Riding Hood story has all of these elements, plus a certain something to it that made me really enjoy it despite its flaws.

01 December, 2011

'Boneshaker' news

Hey all,

While you're waiting for my next review, dig this : FemPop tells us that 'Boneshaker' has been optioned for a movie! It's going to be written by John Hilary Shepherd, a staff writer for the show "Nurse Jackie", who is (as FemPop points out) a pretty badass mom herself, just like Briar. Pretty exciting stuff. There aren't enough good steampunk movies out there, and I am already wincing in anticipation of what the rotters will look like onscreen.

I'm about a third of the way into The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett and liking it a lot so far. But then, I do love noir almost without exception, so it's definitely not a struggle for me to get behind. I also forgot to bring it to work one day, so I started and subsequently blew through Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce, which had been sitting on my Nook for awhile. The review for that will be up by Saturday.

Until next time...

30 November, 2011

'Embassytown' by China Mieville

If you're a big enough geek to think about the ethics of the Prime Directive outside of the times they actually discuss it on Star Trek, AND to wonder how that principle relates to breaching the language barrier once you have actually made contact with an alien species, you might come close to understanding how China Miéville came up with the premise of Embassytown.

Others (including the inimitable Ursula K. LeGuin) have already written detailed and thought-provoking reviews of this book, so I'll try not to reinvent the wheel here. But I will say that for me, I loved this book in spite of its flaws, because it's a spectacular piece of genre fiction that is no less literature for its being housed in the construct of sci-fi. Miéville has become known for sampling classic genres and giving them his own New Weird spin, and he's done it again here. This reads like a classic piece of science fiction writing, recognizable in form, yet entirely Miéville's own. And, fitting to the running message of the book, it is the language of it that makes it not only a brilliant meld of the classic and the modern, but a truly compelling and emotive story.

26 November, 2011

'Crossed' by Ally Condie

I finished Embassytown and am working on my review. But in the meanwhile I read Crossed and wanted to toss up a quick review of it while you wait for what will undoubtedly be a longer and more detailed review of a longer and more interesting book. :)

In reviewing Matched, the first in Ally Condie's young adult trilogy about a futuristic version of America tightly controlled by the ruling Society, a friend of mine on her Goodreads page said it felt like Condie was running through a checklist of things to include in a YA book in order for it to be popular. I agree with her. But it didn't stop my friend from liking the book, nor did it stop me, and in reading the sequel I found myself with the same mixed feelings.

21 November, 2011

updated schedule

Well, I blew through Boneshaker in the reading equivalent of fifteen minutes, so I'm adding a book to the list of things I'd like to finish before the end of the year.
  • Green by Jay Lake   11/16

  • Boneshaker by Cherie Priest   11/21

  • Embassytown by China Mieville - 12/1

  • The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennet - 12/7

  • The Stranger by Max Frei - 12/19

  • Goliath by Scott Westerfeld - 12/31
Also, I couldn't wait, I had to start Embassytown now. I'm 60 pages in and loving it so hard. (I'm kind of a Miéville fangirl... sorry in advance to anyone who doesn't like him.) So that's next. I'm putting 12/1 on the date not because I anticipate taking a long time to read it, but because I work in retail, and it's the week of Thanksgiving. :/

As for what's to come in 2012, the short answer is I have no idea yet. I have a stack half a mile tall of books I haven't read, courtesy of Borders closing sales [ :( forever] and pillaging my friend Steph's collection before she moved. I also have about fifty books on my Nook that I haven't read yet. However, I love recommendations, so please let me know if you've read something recently that you loved, no matter the genre. I will say I probably won't be reviewing any bestsellers (because there are tons of people already doing that very well) and I would love any good mystery recommendations, especially period mysteries. Love those.

Okay, time for me to go to work, and to count the hours til I can sit down and read more Embassytown. Cheers!

"Boneshaker" by Cherie Priest

Looks like setting myself a schedule has worked out well so far; here I am, back with my review of Boneshaker a few days earlier than promised, and that is because once I started reading I could not put the thing down until I'd finished it.

on spoilers

I want to just take a second to talk about spoilers. I'd started out promising myself I wouldn't give any, because to me there's nothing worse than reading a review and ending up feeling like I don't even need to read the book anymore because the review told me everything that was going to happen. And while I'm still not going to do that, I've reassessed and I think it'll be better to say that I will do my best to keep spoilers to a minimum. Any big reveals or surprises will go unspoken, but smaller plot points might, and probably will, come out in my writing. I'll try to be judicious. And in return I will ask that when I post lists of books I'm going to be reading, that you not spoil me for them if you happen to have read them already. I like to be surprised as much as the next girl. :)

Thanks, and happy reading!

16 November, 2011

'Green' by Jay Lake

I picked up Green because its description reminded me of Kushiel's Dart, one of my favorite fantasy books of all time. Upon reading the first chapter inside the bookstore, the narrative voice was so compelling I had to bring it home with me to keep reading. It's this voice that carried me through the entire book, start to finish.

15 November, 2011

take 2

I've only just remembered this blog, which... probably says something for how little time I've spent on the internet in the past ten months, rather than the amount of books I've been reading. But I've just gotten through Mark Reads the Hunger Games and it has seriously inspired me to pick this blog up and actually do with it what I originally intended.

So. A bit of a schedule for myself, since I tend to do better when I have one of those:
  • Green by Jay Lake - 11/16

  • Boneshaker by Cherie Priest - 11/25

  • The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennet - 12/5

  • Embassytown by China Mieville - 12/19

  • Goliath by Scott Westerfeld - 12/31

What I read in what order may change, but I'd ideally like to get at least these few done by the end of the year. I don't really care if there's anyone reading this right now; what's important to me is writing on a schedule, trying to do it regularly. However, if you do happen to be reading this, thanks for stopping by, and look for my next review tomorrow. :)


25 January, 2011

hark, a book review!

Wow, so I've really made good use of this, huh? >.>;;; In my defense, shortly after I created it, I got promoted at work, and that was basically the past six months done and gone. Oh retail Christmas, how I love to hate you.

Anyway, I thought I'd ring in 2011 by actually using this thing a bit. And to start I'm reviewing what turned out to be one of my favorite books of 2010, China Mieville's Kraken. Let me preface this by saying I am a huge Mieville fan; at this point I don't think he could write a book I wouldn't give five stars to. I even had to go back and add a star to my review of The City & The City because even weeks after I'd finished it I just could not stop thinking about it. And this, now, this little piece of genius has pretty much cemented him as my favorite author. I would write him fan mail if it wouldn't be epically creepy to do so.

Anyway-- an actual review of the book. Kraken begins with an impossible theft, that of the preserved giant squid from inside London's Natural History Museum, and its discovery by a very average, slightly nerdy scientist who works there. Billy Harrow is a wonderful protagonist-- one of the genius aspects of Mieville's writing is that his characters always feel like they might be you or someone you know-- and his descent from his very average life into a hidden city of cults and magic is immediately gripping because of the way the writing pulls you along every step of the way. You're experiencing everything with Billy-- the wonder, the fear, trying to reason out what's happening, rejecting the rules and deciding to do his own thing-- until you are in as deeply over your head as he is. And then along comes Dane. If Billy is the embodiment of everything familiar, Dane is the exact opposite: a holy assassin playing security guard, a man on fire with faith and devotion to a god most would call him insane to worship, a self-made exile from everything he holds dear for the sake of protecting the man he believes can save it. Everything about him is strange at first, but as Billy goes further and further into Dane's world, he comes to see his new protector as not only familiar but safe. And then, as a team, as partners, they dive all the way down the rabbit hole and try to save the world.

This book, like all of Mieville's, is astonishing in its complexity. The amount of work that had to have gone into plotting this thing out-- imagining all the cults, the creatures, the characters that are all intricate and complete entities even if their totality is only hinted at-- it boggles the mind. Chaos Nazis! Living tattoos! Tribbles and phasers that actually work! And characters like Wati, formerly a spirit buried with an Egyptian pharaoh to serve him in the afterlife, now the socialist strike leader for all the familiars of London. Like Goss and Subby, a pair of Croup-and-Vandemar-esque assassins who meander around the book bumping off the good guys with excruciating enjoyment. And Kath Collingswood, who really defies description but is one of the best characters I've had the pleasure of encountering in the pages of urban fantasy. But part of what really makes the book come to life is how London itself feels like a character. Certainly it's living and breathing to the characters that populate it, and under Mieville's loving pen it comes alive even for me, who's never seen it except in books and pictures.

Kraken combines the best of Neverwhere with the best of American Gods, adds in as many chases and fight scenes and displays of badassery my action-movie-loving heart could desire, along with a dash of grotesquerie and a healthy helping of Mieville's characteristic New Weird. The result is a wild and unpredictable ride that gathers momentum and doesn't come to rest until after its heart-stopping climax. I loved it beyond words-- despite the fact that I've just used several hundred to describe how much-- and if you pick it up, don't be surprised if it keeps you held tight in its tentacles until you've turned the last page.