Thoughts: Every Heart A Doorway, by Seanan McGuire

Oh boy.

How can such a short book be so all over the place?

I really wanted to love this one. I’m sorry. It just didn’t work for me. I’m also sorry because this post is about as long as the book itself. (Spoilers everywhere, because I need to talk about every little thing that annoyed me. I’m not joking, I spoil everything in this post. This one is really just for me, not to be helpful to prospective readers!)

Continue reading
Posted in Books, thoughtpinions | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts: A Horse Walks Into A Bar, by David Grossman, translated by Jessica Cohen

You’re going to have to forgive me for this one – it’s been a long time since I read it, and my memory isn’t what it used to be.

I liked it maybe more than I thought I would from the reviews, which made it sound very dark and intense. And it did get quite dark, and it was rather intense, but in a way where I was thoroughly sucked in and there was no question of it being too heavy or too much for me, I just wanted to keep going.

Continue reading
Posted in Books, thoughtpinions | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts: The Fifth Season, by N. K. Jemisin

First of all, how dare she.

OK, seriously though, surprise! The Fifth Season, volume one in the trilogy that won a Hugo for each instalment, is good!

At the risk of becoming one of those recipe blogs that frontloads a thousand words about the blogger’s first memories of cooking the recipe and how they took their kids to the park afterwards (joking, all of those recipe blogs are homesteaders who probably wouldn’t go to something as pedestrian as a park)… I thought it would be a good idea to pick this one up now because NaNoWriMo is coming up, and this year I’m going to write sci fi, which I hardly ever write, so why not enjoy some good spec fic in the run-up to get psyched up for November? On the upside, The Fifth Season is a masterclass in worldbuilding. On the downside, I will never be able to write anything even a quarter as good and now I have to go and live in a cave away from human eyes.

But no one cares about that. If you’re here you want to know about The Fifth Season, so let me save you the time – read it, it’s really good.

Continue reading
Posted in Books, thoughtpinions | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts: Citizen Clem, by John Bew

The conclusion to my Indian independence trilogy!

Some light holiday reading on our month-long trip home, and I read most of this biography of Clement Attlee while breastfeeding and contact napping, though that’s how I read pretty much everything these days. Sadly, he was pre-Queen Elizabeth, so I didn’t get a helpful The Crown crash course in his premiership, and the only thing about him I could remember was, oddly, a very clear memory of writing his name in my history book at school when we were learning about the welfare state.

Continue reading
Posted in Books, thoughtpinions | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts: Mörder Anders und seine Freunde nebst dem einen oder anderen Feind, by Jonas Jonasson, translated by Wibke Kuhn

Yeah, you already know that I like Jonasson’s work, and I think Kuhn does a good job, as far as I can tell through my rough German, of nailing the tone (lively and wry, deadpan in all the right places).

Continue reading
Posted in Books, German reading project, thoughtpinions | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts: Where Poppies Blow, by John Lewis-Stempel

The intersection between British (mostly) soldiers in World War I and nature seemed almost fanciful when I picked this one up. Like, there have been so many millions of words lavished on WWI from every possible angle, every conceivable breadth and depth thoroughly mined for recording, remembering, analysing, hypothesising, learning.

I really enjoyed this though, and it’s not really that much of a stretch to connect war and nature, especially a war in which animals were used and kept by the army itself – their ratting cats and terriers, their horses, mules, donkeys and camels, their messenger pigeons and dogs. This is only one small facet of the soldier’s experience of non-human life on the front though. Plant life, insect life, birds, vermin, nuisances, all existed around and among the armies, and they were reassured, comforted, bothered, sickened by it, perceiving it through their own personal lenses as humans are wont to do.

Continue reading
Posted in Books, thoughtpinions | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts: Daughter of Empire, by Pamela Hicks

I want to continue my little exploration of Indian independence, and I thought Pamela Hicks’s memoir would be a good next stop, Pamela Hicks being the daughter of Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India of whom Narendra Singh Sarila spoke so consistently highly.

Continue reading
Posted in Books, thoughtpinions | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts: Shadow of the Great Game: The Untold Story of India’s Partition, by Narendra Singh Sarila

I love how every non-fiction book title is [Snappy Title]: [Cumbersome Thesis Statement So You Know What The Book Is Actually About]. Every single one. I can’t not notice it anymore.

Anyway, I’ve by pure coincidence happened to read a surprising amount about Indian independence from the British Empire very recently, so I’m going to line those reviews up instead of going chronologically through my reading/backlog, the better to compare and contrast. I am of the bad habit of reading a single non-fiction book per subject and assuming I know some stuff afterwards, but honestly, the more I read about India the less I felt like I knew. Understatement of the year, but turns out it’s an extremely complex subject that is impossible to entirely contain in one book… and the whole world, and all of human history, is made up of uncountable events of similar complexity. Terrifying. Mind-bending. Things like ‘the size of the universe’ don’t really get to me, because they’re so far out of my comprehension that my brain just goes, “That’s nice,” and moves on. But show me how huge the Earth is and how fractally complex all human life is and I’ll blue-screen on the spot.

Continue reading
Posted in Books, thoughtpinions | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts: The Transit of Venus, by Shirley Hazzard

Uh looks like I entirely forgot to post this after I wrote it? Here you go!

Last book I started before giving birth, first book I finished afterwards. I read a couple of chapters to baby, in the hope that he will learn from the examples of the characters and make better choices with his own life.

Continue reading
Posted in Books, thoughtpinions | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts: The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Bradley

Warning before we start – there’ll be mentions of real life crimes in this one, involving children.

Some explanations are in order. I know we’re all meant to be living in a Death of the Author world but some things don’t die. It’s one thing to pretend Kate Bush wasn’t a Theresa May fan, or that you didn’t see that one post describing Patrick Rothfuss’s unfortunate-looking fundraising shenanigans, and another thing to turn a blind eye to actual crimes – and not just lying about prostitutes. Marion Zimmer Bradley falls under the ‘actual crimes’ umbrella, and honestly I don’t have much time for the people I see in Facebook comments and similar yelling at anyone who mentions her crimes when her name comes up in recommendations, because “no author is perfect”. I think this is something people should be informed about before reading or purchasing Bradley’s work.

Yes, it would be lovely to read it without the knowledge at the back of your mind. Yes, it is unfair that we can no longer have the experience of a “pure” first reading. But that cat is well and truly out of the bag – Bradley herself, by her actions, has made it impossible to enjoy her work without a bad taste in your mouth.

As far as I can tell, you can’t have multiple cuts in WordPress (oh for the halcyon LiveJournal days!) so unfortunately I couldn’t separate out the bad stuff in a way that’s easily skippable.

Continue reading
Posted in Books, thoughtpinions | Tagged , , | Leave a comment