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Current Reads: 9-21-2016

I am still reading ALL OF THE BOOKS, but I’m trying to keep my pile down to a reasonable size, and also DNF books if they’re not working for me regardless of how well they came recommended.

current

 

Jupiter Pirates: The Rise of Earth by Jason Fry: YEP I’m still reading this one–but the middle lost my attention a bit and I finished several other books ahead of it. I sat down and read a good chunk this morning, so I’m hopeful I’ll finish this one soon. I still like it, but one of the storylines is just…weird.

The Mystic Marriage by Heather Rose Jones: I really liked the first of Jones’s Alpennia books, and then it took me forever to actually ILL this one. I’m about 40 pages in and loving it!

American Girls by Alison Umminger: I started this one awhile back and then it kept getting bumped down the priority list, although the beginning really hooked me. I’m curious to know how the rest will play out–plus I’d like to be able to chime in if/when it gets discussed on the PrintzBlog.

Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar: Another one that I started and then set down–I’m always interested in families and how the choices of past generations echo. This one is right on the mg/YA line, and I don’t have any firm thoughts about that yet.

James Tiptree Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Phillips: Also still reading this one–I’ve been doing it a chapter at a time, but I’ll probably try to finish it up this week.

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine: The last couple of weeks have been tough, so I put this one on hold because it’s so intense. However, the library copy is due back soon so I’m going to sit down with it this weekend!

Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken: The next book in my Aiken re-read series! It’s the first one with Dido and I’m so excited.

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Currently reading: 9-7

All the books I'm actively reading. Send help,
All the books I’m actively reading. Send help.

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I don’t know how this happened–no, I do. I’ve been reading several intense books in slow spurts because they are really good but also my heart can’t handle too much at once. And then I’m trying to read several other books that have taken me a bit to get into, so I keep pulling a new one off the shelf and trying it. Anyway, from the top:

Dove Exiled by Karen Bao: Sequel to last year’s Dove Arising. I am finding the writing a little choppy, but I’m really interested in what Bao’s doing with the world and characters.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken: For October’s reading notes, so I won’t say much more. Except–this book is 168 pages long. One hundred sixty-eight! Take note, authors.

Perfect Liars by Kimberly Reid: This is a fun diverse teenage con/heist story–great for kids who have aged out of The Great Greene Heist.

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine: I’m rereading this with librarian book club and auuugghhhh the emotions. They might actually be worse the second time through?

Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi: It’s very difficult to say what’s happening in this book, but in a good way. (I tend to like texts that make you work for their meaning, as long as they’re not being jerks about it.)

James Tiptree Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Phillips: This book is making me feel way too many things. It’s fine. (I just DM the best/worst bits to the friend who recommended it to me. Thanks & you’re welcome.)

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie: A re-read because I wanted to and apparently wasn’t reading enough intense books? Yeah, I don’t know either.

Monstress by Marjorie Liu: My hold at the library FINALLY came in!! This is a lot more violent than I tend to like my comics, but the visual sensibility is so much my thing that I’m still reading. (Art deco-ish fantasy monsters=I’m there.)

We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge: I JUST started this one, but I’ve gotten far enough in to be hooked. Definitely a story I’d only trust from an #ownvoices author, though!

Jupiter Pirates: The Rise of Earth by Jason Fry: Third in a middle grade SF series I’ve been enjoying! Fry has years of experience writing Star Wars tie-ins and he clearly has a good grasp of what kids like in their SF. I have a feeling that things are going to Happen in this one.

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Favorite science fiction from the last five years

I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of my favorite SF from the last few years. These are not necessarily books published in the last five years, but ones that I’ve read in that time span. (I feel like I’ve read less SF this year than normal, but I know there are also several I haven’t gotten around to yet.)

ancillary mercyscorpion rulesconservation of shadows

Ambassador by William Alexander: I read Ambassador for the Cybils back in 2014 and loved it. It’s nice to have an SF book about a Latino boy, and Alexander does a great job of incorporating Gabe’s identity and culture into the story. The concept that drives the book works well as a way to combine kids and politics.

Quicksilver and Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson: This is a really fascinating SF duology from one of my favorite authors. I’m never sure what to say about these books, because they have some great twists I don’t want to spoil. But I loved the main characters a lot, and I enjoy the way they have an SF plot with kind of a fantasy sensibility–if that makes any sense whatsoever.

Dove Arising by Karen Bao: I read this YA for the Cybils last year, and it’s really stuck with me. Less the plot (I just had to Google because I couldn’t remember) and more the characters and worldbuilding Bao was doing. I really liked Phaet, and I felt like her outlook on life is one we don’t get very often in YA.

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow: This book. THIS BOOK. It’s terrifying and tense and smart and every time I drink apple cider, I wince. Terrible things happen in it, and yet I also cried because it’s so hopeful and affirming. I can’t say how much I love Greta, and Xie, and all the Children of Peace.

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold:  I love Bujold’s Vorkosigan series in its entirety, as I’ve documented here many times, but I was really fascinated by some of the turns and choices she made in the latest installment. It was also really lovely to have another story from Cordelia’s point of view.

The Foreigner series by CJ Cherryh: If you’ve been following my blog for a few years, you’ll know that I’ve been glomping my way through Cherryh’s massive series. I love the way she writes the atevi and the political and social customs and issues that arise. While I occasionally quibble with the depiction of the human women, overall the characters are really engaging and wonderful as well.

Promised Land by Cynthia DeFelice and Connie Willis: This is a lighter SF romance, which has turned out to be one of my comfort reads. It’s kind of a space western, but in a very different vein than Firefly.

Jupiter Pirates by Jason Fry: A fun middle-grade space adventure about a family of space privateers. Tycho and his siblings have to compete to win the captain’s seat, but there are also bigger contests going on. Fry has written a number of Star Wars chapter books, and he clearly knows what he’s doing.

And All the Stars by Andrea K Höst: I love Höst’s books, and this was the first one I read. It’s an intimate story, almost quiet, even though it’s about a terrifying world-wide event. Rather than a sweeping epic, Höst keeps the scale on a human level, and makes me care so much about Madeleine and her friends and the outcome of their story.

Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, and Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie: I basically always want to be reading this trilogy; Leckie writes ambitiously about identity, loyalty, families, and imperialism. She also pulls it off, mostly because of her rich characters and worldbuilding which also give an emotional core to the big concepts she’s engaging with.

Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee: I was really impressed by this short story collection, which features so many fascinating and strange worlds, as well as some really striking characters. The prose itself is also beautiful, even when the subject matter is not. I can’t wait till I get a chance to read Nine Fox Gambit.

Persona by Genevieve Valentine: I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, but it turns out that near-future socio-political thrillers are very much my thing when Valentine is writing them. Persona is smart and sleek and tense. If UN + red carpet + spies sounds intriguing, this book is probably for you.

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Hunt for the Hydra by Jason Fry

hunt for the hydraHunt for the Hydra is one I came across on John Scalzi’s blog, as part of the Big Idea series, which is why I continue to at least skim those posts. Every so often, one of the books featured really catches my eye. The first book in the Jupiter Pirates series, Hunt for the Hydra was one of those and turned out to be a really fun book, with several different layers to the story.

The Tashoone family are space privateers, living on their ship, the Shadow Comet. As part of their family traditions, the children in each generation must compete with each other to win the position of Captain. Tycho, our narrator, and his two siblings view each encounter with another ship as a chance to prove their worth. The set-up isn’t one that will be familiar to most children, but the emotional core of it–comparing yourself with your siblings and feeling lacking–is.

There’s also a lot about the history of the space privateers, and a tension between the older generation, which acted as out and out pirates, and the younger, who operate under the authority of the Jovian Union. And there’s quite a bit of political drama, as the Union and the corporations which run Earth both attempt to maneuver with the Comet and her crew as their pawns.

Hunt for the Hydra is a rollicking adventure story, with space battles and courtroom staredowns. Yesterday on Twitter I was talking about how I want more middle grade & juvenile books to have a political sense, by which I mean an awareness of the larger issues in the world around the main characters. And Hunt for the Hyda does this as well, without detracting in any way from the fun parts.

I’ll also note that, while the main character is a boy, his mother is the current Captain and there’s never a sense of his sister, Yana, being less likely to become Captain because of her gender. On the other hand, I didn’t spot a lot of racial diversity, which seems like a missed opportunity (especially since the Hashoones are never described in detail–surely the cover could have been something other than default white boy?). On the whole, though, this is the kind of smart, thoughtful, fun SFF that I really enjoy!

Book source: public library
Book information: 2013, HarperCollins; juvenile/younger mg