Here’s what I read in August, with brief reviews (spoilers included):
Reaper Man, by Terry Pratchett – This may have been the very first Discworld book I ever read, back in the days of hour long commutes and audiobooks to make the drive more tolerable. I decided to re-read it and picked up the paperbook from the library. And it remains one of the funniest, most touching, lovely fantasy novels I’ve ever read. While I think the early Discworld books aren’t quite as good, this one is Terry Pratchett at the height of his skills as a writer. I can’t recommend it enough, and it’s a great one-off starting point to get into the series.
The Relentless Moon, by Mary Robinette Kowal – I returned to the third of the lady astronaut series and feasted on the most recent offering. This is less “disaster in progress, science comes to the rescue,” and FAR more of a thriller/spy novel, focusing on Nicole Wiggan this time, unlike the previous books. And Nicole has one hell of a history and story to tell. I couldn’t put it down, it gripped me. It also kept me on the edge of my seat, and broke me at times as bad things happen to good people. Truly loved this novel. The ending… oh my god, the ending was soooooo… everything.
The Witches: Salem, 1692, by Stacy Schiff – This is the first book I’ve bounced off of since I returned to long-form reading. This is nonfiction history and it got great reviews, but after twenty pages the writing style wasn’t working for me and it felt like the author was jumping back and forth through the time period in question. Quite confusing. I may return to it another time, though.
Blood of Elves, by Andrzej Sapkowski – It was inevitable that I’d read the Witcher series at some point. Unfortunately I missed out on the first books which collected the original short stories, and I do so love reading a series in correct order. And maybe that accounts for why I’m not really finding it appealing. One book down, and I’m going to skip the rest for now. It’s decent enough, but it does tend to plod a bit with scenes of dialogue that go on for what I felt was too long. I think I was expecting a bit more monster killing stuff, and a lot less political intrigue. . .and less talking.
The Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler – I read Kindred a while ago and it’s a stunningly great novel. It took me a while to get to this one. I’m glad I did. But it’s a hard read like most dystopia is for me. Brilliant, but hard. There are no punches pulled as the world swirls down the shitter and falls to pieces, and the main character is just everything you would want in a protagonist. I’ll come back to the follow up novel later, but I’ll need to read a few other things in between.
Foreigner, by C. J. Cherryh – I really wanted to love this novel because I’ve been a fan of the author ever since I read her Chanur novels as a teen. But I bounced off this one after working my way slowly through the first 100 pages. The writing felt far too dense, and sometimes I had to stop and parse a sentence out carefully to understand what information was intended to be relayed. It’s a very close third, stream of consciousness form of writing. There is a LOT of internal dialogue, pages and pages and pages of it. I wasn’t up to it, and that’s on me. I do feel I need to return to the Chanur novels, though, and see if the writing is similar and I’ve just forgotten her style over the years.
A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine – this one had been sitting on my shelf so long it had gathered dust. I’m glad I dragged it out, because it’s one fine novel. I’m not usually a fan of novels that spin on political intrigues (refer to the first Witcher book above), but this one works well because of the engaging main character, a raft of fascinating secondary characters, and one hell of a brilliant job of universe building. Seriously, this universe is fascinating and intricate and I loved it entirely. Can’t wait to read the follow ups.