Saturday, June 01, 2019

What I'm Reading Now

M.R. Carey, Someone Like Me

I'd read Carey's The Girl with All the Gifts and felt pretty meh about it, so I almost didn't read this one when it appeared among my library's new books. On the other hand, the first few pages captured my attention, and I remember Girl being readable, so I checked it out.

This is much better than Girl. Both compulsively readable and an intriguing story. TW for Domestic violence and some other violence, but nothing too graphic. The story concerns two women, one in her early 30s and one in her late teens, who experienced horrific trauma. The older one is...possessed is the wrong word. She shares her body with Another Self, from a different time-line, a self who fled that time-lines due to horrific trauma.

What happens when two people try to occupy one body?

Excellent writing, excellent minor characters, good use of local color.

I stayed up until five a.m. reading this one. And it's about 800 pages long, so.

K. J. Parker, Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City

I'd heard a lot about K.J. Parker, and seen (though not read) his short stories in many SF publications. The title to this one intrigued me, to be honest, and the first few pages got my attention.

This one is also compulsively readable, mostly due to the voice of the point of view character. It's basically what it says on the tin -- the story of a city during a siege. We're in a fantasy world, but it's basically the Roman empire, and Parker borrows heavily from actual history to build that world.

Our main character is Orhan, a (Roman, or he might as well be) engineer, an ex-slave, and brilliant if occasionally hapless. When the barbarians storm Rome (it might as well be Rome), and the city's leaders are slaughtered, Orhan ends up in command, mostly just by stepping up and taking command.

The plot is Orhan figuring out ways to defend the city against the barbarian army outside. Spoilers: the barbarians are Orhan's own people. He was captured as a six year old child, and sold into slavery into let's-admit-it's-Rome. So his loyalties are a little uncomfortable.

There were a couple places where I just didn't buy Orhan's motivations, especially when he refuses a chance to get his daughter out of the city alive. And the ending is weak. But otherwise I liked this one a lot.

Liane Moriarty, The Last Anniversary, Big Little Lies, The Hypnotist's Love Story, Nine Perfect Strangers

I continue to read Moriarty. If you like cozy books with excellently drawn characters in which happy endings are guaranteed, you'll like Moriarty. The Husband's Secret is the only one I'd steer you away from. It's as well-written as the others, but a lot more grim. It also (kind of) excuses rape and violence. To be fair, I think that only happened because Moriarty had written herself into a corner. She wants happy endings for all her books, and that was really the only way she could create a happy ending for this one. Still.

Kage Baker, The Company Series

As we all know, I love Kage Baker. Her early death, like the early death of Octavia Butler, broke my heart. Every few years, I read through her entire works. It's a great series, and the other series she was starting, the one set in the Stag of Heaven world, was also wonderful. These are well worth reading. Start with A Bird on the River or A Garden of Iden. The Company series is SF; the other is fantasy.

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