April Books (& March)
I’m just going to hit the high spots of the past two months.
From March, I recommend four books:
An Egg, A Key, An Unfortunate Remark – Harry Connolly. This is a VERY strange book, and I wasn’t sure I was going to survive it in the beginning: the tone just felt so… odd. But I know Connolly’s writing, so I knew this weird narrative style was a deliberate choice and I wanted to see where it went. And just about when I was really doubting this, the explanation for the narrative style appeared and I LOVED IT. It was a wonderful explanation and it made the whole story that much more entertaining. It’s still a strange book, but it’s delightfully strange. In a lot of ways, Egg feels like Child of Fire turned inside out and upside down. Definitely worth the read, not least because as io9 will tell you: Egg features an older woman as a protagonist.
Trace by Sam Starbuck. This is another left-field kind of book. Starbuck/Copperbadge is really really really well-known for writing fanfiction, but he also writes original books. Trace had its start in White Collar fanfiction, before he turned it into something else. The magic in this book is amazing and presented as matter of factly as any magical realist tale ever. The premise has small stakes–there’s no end of the world approaching here–but the kind of small stakes that mean everything to the people involved. Colin Byrne, a con man with a weird sort of magic, goes back to prison undercover to help out the police. It’s just a stylish, fun read. Available only at lulu press.
Pocket Apocalypse by Seanan McGuire. Not my favorite of the InCryptid series–the plot felt a little thin to me–but as usual, McGuire’s characters are topnotch and the emotions are real. I have rarely been so appalled to have a character die as I was in this book.
Lovecraft’s Monsters edited by Ellen Datlow. A really good anthology that had a lower than usual percentage of stories “not for me”. Standouts within the collection?
“The Same Deep Waters as You” by Brian Hodge, who I’ve liked ever since PROTOTYPE.
“The Dappled Thing” by William Browning Spencer.
“The Bleeding Shadow” by Joe R Lansdale, which I’ve read before, but enjoyed enough that time to feel an “oh!” of recognition and dive right back in.
I also really loved “Children of the Fang” by John Langan.
April’s recommended books:
Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant. Killer mermaids. It didn’t work for me 100%, but it’s a novella that hits the sweet spot pretty neatly: just enough information to get your imagination invested, not enough to bore you with what is really a horror movie plot of “everyone gets eaten by monsters”. Though I did spend a lot of time arguing about mermaids and elbows and whether McGuire implied they had them or not, because… ELBOWS. Everything else about her mermaids would make enough sf-science sense, except the elbows. So if anyone else has elbows on the brain, come talk to me about it.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. After reading and loving Dark Places, I wanted more. This one starts off really strongly, but sort of peters out a little bit midway for me. Someone told me you can see her writing getting better and better with each book, and I believe it. This one was written before Dark Places. It’s still a solid read. I’m going to have to read Gone Girl, I suppose, though I am rarely interested in stories about marriages gone wrong.
Shoggoths in Bloom by Elizabeth Bear. I thought I’d read this book, but I knew I didn’t own a copy. I remedied that, then realized as I flipped through it that no, I hadn’t actually read all the stories in this collection–only some of them that had been printed elsewhere. A wonderful shock of surprise. I sometimes have a hard time getting invested in Bear’s novels, but oddly I have no problems getting sucked into her short fiction. At least one of these stories left me in tears, which still surprises me. A story about dying dragons shouldn’t be that powerful, yet….
Anyone else read anything wonderful? My TBR piles are only four feet deep; I could add more…