Sunday, December 17, 2017

What I'm Reading

I have finished the edits for Fault Lines, which will be sent to my editor today. I've also finished grading (mostly -- I still have some fiction portfolios to read through and comment on). All of that has limited my reading time.

Though not stopped it! Here's what I've read (and finished) over the past week:

Katherine Heiny, Standard Deviation

This was one I thought I would not like, since from the blurb it's everything I hate in a book (white rich guy in NYC who might or might not have an affair, fap fap fap). But it kept showing up on ten-best-books of 2017 by people whose judgment I trust, and the library had a copy, so wth.

And they were right! This is really good. True, the "plot" is this guy in NYC who married to his second wife, and still half in love with his first wife, trying to decide whether he will have an affair with the first wife, or some other woman for that matter. But the book isn't the plot in this case. The book is these characters, and their lives.

Heiny's writing is wonderful. Her main character, Graham, is married to a woman, Audra, who is so incredibly annoying I would myself want to push her under a bus -- and Graham sees all her annoying habits clearly. But because he loves her so deeply, every irritating bit of her is transformed into something beautiful. I have no idea how Heiny manages this, but it is beautiful to read.

The same happens for their son, Matthew, who is a high-functioning Autistic child. Graham sees the flaws in his son, and yet.

And we see the flaws in Graham just as clearly, but because of his love, we come to love him, and he is transformed in this same way.

This is an amazing book. I really didn't want it to end. Highly recommended.

T. Kingfisher, The Raven and the Reindeer

T. Kingfisher, as long-time readers of the blog know, is a pen name for our incomparable Ursula Vernon. In this novella, she retells Hans Christian Anderson's "The Snow Queen."

Other writers, and other SF writers (including one of my favorite SF writers, Naomi Kritzer), have done this before, of course. But still, Kingfisher's version is not to be missed. Among other things, along the way her Gerta discovers just why kissing Kay was such an oddly disappointing experience. (This happens when she meets the bandit Janna, and kisses her. Why didn't anyone ever tell me falling in love with women was a thing that could happen? she thinks at one point.)

Along the way to rescue Kay, Gerta encounters a talking crow, Mousebones, who is one of my favorite characters ever, and talking otters, likewise, and Janna, same.

The Snow Queen is a lovely villain. And ending is perfect.

Highly recommended.

Fiona Barton, The Child

This is another book by the woman who wrote The Widow, which I read last week. As with that book, this one is readable -- I gulped it down in one evening -- but not much more than your standard mystery/thriller.

The main characters are still women, but this one has more men. For instance, the reoccurring character, Kate Waters, the reporter who solved the child-killing in The Widow, has taken on a young male apprentice; and we've added a second police officer, also male. Also, Kate's husband and two sons get a lot of page time.

But one of the main villains is a woman. And the big reveal was -- sort of -- interesting.

And, as I said, it's a page turner. So long as you don't want depth, this is worth reading.

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