What have you read recently?

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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby maddz » 11:28am on 05 Feb 18

The Lost Plot, by Genevieve Cogman (The Invisible Library book 4)

It's taken me a while to get round to this, mostly because I find reading anything longer than a short story or novella on the commute (unless I know it well) not very easy, and we've been away a lot at weekends. However, I've now read it (and this is my second attempt at posting a review - my first attempt got eaten by a fatal error because I used a smiley from the selection on the phone).

However, we're back in the worlds of the Invisible Library: Irene Winter is meeting with a family of vampires resident in Yorkshire to make an exchange of books. Unfortunately, the vampires have other ideas and try making her an offer she can't refuse. In the course of which, we are told that Peregrine Vale (the Sherlock Holmes analog in this parallel) is part of a rival vampire family - which will no doubt lead to complexity further along the series. Escaping from the vampires, Irene falls in with a dragon who also makes her an offer she cannot refuse. Unfortunately for the dragon, Irene is well aware that she must refuse as accepting will break the Library's neutrality between dragons (scions of order) and Fae (scions of chaos). The offer she was made was to locate a book for the dragon which was part of a political contest between two dragons. It was claimed that the other dragon had secured the services of another Librarian to do so.

Returning to the Library, Irene was given a mission to find out what was going on, and locate the other Librarian and bring him in for questioning. Oh, and to locate the book (a version of The Journey to the West replete with political satire) and make sure neither dragon got it - not that the Library needed another copy anyway. Irene and Kai (her dragon apprentice) travel to a Roaring Twenties analog of East Coast USA with a tight deadline...

The usual fun and games ensue; we learn more about dragon politics, fae assassins, and Kai has to retire from his position with the Library to prevent further political complications - but not from Irene's life. This instalment felt lighter in tone than others in the series. It seemed to me that this book would have worked as a stand-alone; I suspect it's going to be a bridging volume between the initial Alberich story-arc and a subsequent story-arc.

Recommended.

Grunts, by Mary Gentle

This is an all-time favourite of mine; I acquired the paperback when it first came out and read it every so often. (I love playing spot the movie reference - not that I'm much good at it because I've never been much into movies, especially war movies.) . It probably has the most politically incorrect one-liner in a fantasy novel ever, but hey, what do you expect - they're orcs! Of course they're going to be politically incorrect!

Stealing a dragon's hoard is never a good idea, especially as dragons have a nasty habit of putting curses on their hoards, doubly so if they're killed in the course of that theft. However, order is orders and you don't disobey The Nameless Necromancer (in service of The Dark Lord) before the final battle in the conflict between The Light (a nasty bunch of self-righteous racist jerks) and The Dark (a disparate bunch of much-misunderstood races whose only desire is to be left alone so they can get on with what they do best).

It turns out that said dragon is a collector of militaria from other dimensions; not modern up-to-date stuff, but collectible items. What the orcs raid is the Earth collection, circa Viet Nam War era... The curse is to become what they stole - so the orcs become orc marines and in the process more or less respectable citizens (if you're prepared to overlook certain unpleasant habits).

As gross as Bored of the Rings, but to my mind far funnier.

Recommended.
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby BenQ » 1:48pm on 05 Feb 18

Recently finished The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel. The main character is a vinyl obsessive, specialising in hunting out rare records for his clients. In this first book in the series he is approached by a woman acting as an intermediate working on behalf of a wealthy but anonymous client, who is after an extremely rare jazz recording. The trouble is, others are looking for it too... Cartmel is a friend of Ben Aaronovitch, the author of the Rivers of London urban fantasy series, and this feels very similar is language and vibe. Fortunately for me I love the Rivers of London series, and that coupled with my current tentative steps into jazz got me hooked instantly, besides, I've just got my turntable up and running again.
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby maddz » 3:07pm on 05 Feb 18

BenQ wrote:Cartmel is a friend of Ben Aaronovitch, the author of the Rivers of London urban fantasy series, and this feels very similar is language and vibe. Fortunately for me I love the Rivers of London series, and that coupled with my current tentative steps into jazz got me hooked instantly, besides, I've just got my turntable up and running again.


Cartmel collaborates with Aaronovitch on the Rivers of London comics, so there's no surprise there's marked similarities. I've seen this on Amazon a few times, but haven't taken the plunge; would you describe this as a mystery or an urban fantasy?
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby BenQ » 4:22pm on 05 Feb 18

maddz wrote:
BenQ wrote:Cartmel is a friend of Ben Aaronovitch, the author of the Rivers of London urban fantasy series, and this feels very similar is language and vibe. Fortunately for me I love the Rivers of London series, and that coupled with my current tentative steps into jazz got me hooked instantly, besides, I've just got my turntable up and running again.


Cartmel collaborates with Aaronovitch on the Rivers of London comics, so there's no surprise there's marked similarities. I've seen this on Amazon a few times, but haven't taken the plunge; would you describe this as a mystery or an urban fantasy?


It's definitely mystery rather than urban fantasy, no magic, strange lore or spirits in this one.
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby maddz » 4:48pm on 05 Feb 18

BenQ wrote:It's definitely mystery rather than urban fantasy, no magic, strange lore or spirits in this one.


I might wait for a 99p deal then. I've got enough mysteries in my TBR pile and don't read them fast enough. Trouble is, I tend to find many mysteries to be totally formulaic so I need to be in a particular mindset before I read them (or they need to be short fillers).
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby satbunny » 5:45pm on 05 Feb 18

BenQ wrote:Recently finished The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel. The main character is a vinyl obsessive, specialising in hunting out rare records for his clients. In this first book in the series he is approached by a woman acting as an intermediate working on behalf of a wealthy but anonymous client, who is after an extremely rare jazz recording. The trouble is, others are looking for it too... Cartmel is a friend of Ben Aaronovitch, the author of the Rivers of London urban fantasy series, and this feels very similar is language and vibe. Fortunately for me I love the Rivers of London series, and that coupled with my current tentative steps into jazz got me hooked instantly, besides, I've just got my turntable up and running again.


I decided to follow you and buy this on my Kindle, and also to buy the Audible narration as a low priced add on to listen to and/or switch between on my Kindle. Utterly a trial, but it sounds like my kind of bag.
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby maddz » 7:00pm on 05 Feb 18

Cachalot, by Alan Dean Foster

Another old favourite back in the 90s. Part of the Humanx series, set before the main Pip and Flinx books, this is a mystery set on the ocean world Cachalot where most of the remaining cetaceans live following the discovery of a serum that greatly expanded their consciousness. They tolerate a small human colony and permit them to harvest various marine products provided they do not interact with the cetacea unless invited to do so (cetecea have long memories and don’t like humans because of past genocidal activity).

The cetacea have formed societies based on relative intelligence (the toothed whales being the most intelligent, and the baleen the least), and their participation in their philosophical journey - the porpoises preferring to play rather than mess around with all this thinking stuff.

The human colony are largely based in floating cities, dry land being minimal and barely above sea level. The trouble is that several of these cities have vanished; leaving no survivors and no real clue about what has happened. So a group of experts has been sent to find out what has happened.

No real mystery here; it’s fairly obvious who did it (especially if you own the original paperback), the main twist being the reason why. It does have elements that would appeal to modern readers in the interactions between cetacea and humanity even though the book was first published in 1980.
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby satbunny » 1:12pm on 07 Feb 18

Cachalot, bought, ready to read after the Vinyl Detective.
Vinyl Detective going very well, thanks Ben.
Cachalot will feed my hunger for a Blue Planet game.
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby LTD » 10:12pm on 07 Feb 18

satbunny wrote:Still good?


I think so. Some of the futuristic stuff seems dated now, but I like sparse style of the writing and the way it borrows from US hard boiled crime fiction, plus spy authors like Len Deighton.
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby satbunny » 12:27am on 08 Feb 18

BenQ wrote:
maddz wrote:
BenQ wrote:Cartmel is a friend of Ben Aaronovitch, the author of the Rivers of London urban fantasy series, and this feels very similar is language and vibe. Fortunately for me I love the Rivers of London series, and that coupled with my current tentative steps into jazz got me hooked instantly, besides, I've just got my turntable up and running again.


Cartmel collaborates with Aaronovitch on the Rivers of London comics, so there's no surprise there's marked similarities. I've seen this on Amazon a few times, but haven't taken the plunge; would you describe this as a mystery or an urban fantasy?


It's definitely mystery rather than urban fantasy, no magic, strange lore or spirits in this one.
I'd describe it as a jaunt

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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby BenQ » 3:17pm on 08 Feb 18

Jaunt's a great word for it - mystery is much to heavy. It's a fun, lightweight page turner rather than a brain scratching whodunnit.
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby maddz » 9:51am on 09 Feb 18

A couple of Gerald Durrells:

My Family and Other Animals

The account of the author's sojourn on Corfu pre-WWII with his mother and elder siblings. Do not read this one in bed when your partner is trying to sleep - I managed to wake him up when I got to 'Perseus' rescue of Andromeda'.

A classic; family reminiscence (which is extremely funny) interleaved with naturalism. Recommended.

Marrying off Mother and other stories

A collection of short stories, some autobiographical, but others that look more like fiction (although with the Durrells it may be hard to tell).

Light.
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby LTD » 1:53pm on 09 Feb 18

maddz wrote:A couple of Gerald Durrells:

My Family and Other Animals

The account of the author's sojourn on Corfu pre-WWII with his mother and elder siblings. Do not read this one in bed when your partner is trying to sleep - I managed to wake him up when I got to 'Perseus' rescue of Andromeda'.

A classic; family reminiscence (which is extremely funny) interleaved with naturalism. Recommended.



I remember doing that one at school. Their Greek taxi driver friend Spiro always made me laugh.
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby BenQ » 7:03pm on 09 Feb 18

Not what I've read, but books to read from a list of best recent sci-fi on the Guardian website:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/ ... eric-brown. Anyone read any of these?
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Re: What have you read recently?

Postby maddz » 7:24pm on 09 Feb 18

The simple answer is none of them. The only author I've heard of is Alistair Reynolds, possibly Chris Beckett as well, but the others?

I read more fantasy than SF anyway, and in all honesty none really appeal to my taste.
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