Things I’ve read lately

As I’ve said a few times before, I don’t get anywhere near as much time to read fiction as I’d like. But I do read when I can!

As I’ve also said before, I’m not much of a critic. Reviews aren’t a thing I do well. But I do like to mention it when I’ve read something I really liked, even if I have trouble explaining why I liked it.

At any rate, here are a few things I’ve read in the recent past:

What Lot’s Wife Saw, by Ioanna Bourazopoulou, translated from Greek by Yiannis Panas

This was…strange. But really, really good. How to describe it? A designer of odd crossword puzzles of his own idiosyncratic invention is asked to read a collection of letters from eyewitnesses to …a crime? A conspiracy? a mysterious series of events at any rate, in the hope that he will be able to use his puzzle-solving skills to determine what actually happened. This takes place in a world where much of Europe has been flooded by the Mediterranean, and a mysterious Salt has begun pouring into the world from one particular place. Yes, it’s where you think it would be, and the references to the story of Sodom in the Book of Genesis are quite explicit. The narrative is full of people doing strange and inexplicable things, sometimes grimly funny, often emotionally overwrought. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but I began to tire near the end, and hoped that it would indeed stick its landing and not just trail off. It did, indeed, stick its landing. If you’re looking for something really strange and really really good, give this a shot.

The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley

Yeah, okay, see. Here’s part of what I assume is the cover copy:

Somewhere on the outer rim of the universe, a mass of decaying world-ships known as the Legion is traveling in the seams between the stars. For generations, a war for control of the Legion has been waged, with no clear resolution. As worlds continue to die, a desperate plan is put into motion.

Zan wakes with no memory, prisoner of a people who say they are her family. She is told she is their salvation – the only person capable of boarding the Mokshi, a world-ship with the power to leave the Legion. But Zan’s new family is not the only one desperate to gain control of the prized ship. Zan finds that she must choose sides in a genocidal campaign that will take her from the edges of the Legion’s gravity well to the very belly of the world.

So, this is chock full of action and fights and battles and betrayals and political intrigue. And those world-ships? They are all biological. Nothing in this fleet is built, it’s all birthed, and there are tentacles and blood and mucous and body fluids everywhere. It’s kind of awesome fun. You should totally read it when it comes out. In, um, February of next year. I kind of got an ARC and for once had a chance to read it before the actual release. Which doesn’t happen very often.

Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones

This is a Ruritanian fantasy. It’s also a pretty straight-ahead romance, which isn’t generally my thing, but I enjoyed it quite a lot. It takes place in the fictional tiny European country of Alpennia, and involves inheritances and wills and political intrigue. There’s also magic, very Christianity-based, a matter of petitioning saints in the right way at the right times. It’s the sort of thing that could easily turn me off, but I thought was handled very very well. Basically an eccentric wealthy baron leaves nearly everything he owns–except his title and the estate attached to it–to his god-daughter, a young woman nearly at her legal majority but being pressured to find a husband who can support her, since she has no means of her own. “Everything the baron owns” includes his bodyguard/duellist, another young woman. The bodyguard can’t be freed yet, because of the terms of the baron’s will, and besides the new young baron really resents being done out of the money he expected to inherit and will stop at nothing to get it, as well as his revenge. This is lots of fun, and Goodreads calls it “Alpennia #1” which implies there are more, so those are going on my long long TBR list for whenever I can get to them.

4 thoughts on “Things I’ve read lately

  1. Fade Manley says:

    There are indeed more Alpennia novels! I’m currently rereading the second one, The Mystic Marriage, because the third just came out and I want to be up to speed on all the politics and character names before I dive in.

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      Sara Uckelman says:

      Here’s another person coming by to add her voice in support of reading Mystic Marriage and Mother of Souls! I was lucky enough to be one of the SME’s for MoS, so I got an advance copy. Thank goodness, because my pre-ordered copy hasn’t arrived yet. The only fault with MoS is that I simply want to know so much more about so many of the secondary characters. Luckily, Jones has many more books planned, so hopefully that desire will be sated.

      On a different topic, I just had half a dozen people recommend the Ancillary trilogy to me on FB, and they’re en route to me as I type. I confess to having not heard of either them or you before, but from that set of friends that number of recommendations is very high praise, so I look forward to reading them!

  2. A
    Andrew Barton (MadLogician) says:

    I’ve just finished the third Alpennia book and it’s as good as the other two. Unlike the first two books this one does not qualify as a formula Romance even though one of its arcs is resolved triumphantly at the end. There are enough loose ends that the series could easily be continued.

    Many of the characters believe that the magic of Alpennia’s world is entirely Christianity-based, but it seems to become clear as the series progresses that this is not completely true. We can’t tell yet how true it is. One data point: a Jewish character is able to play a full part in alchemical workings.

  3. f
    flowerscat says:

    I love the Alpennia series – and I liked the Mystic Marriage more than the Daughter of Mystery. Currently reading Mother of Souls. Surprisingly, the religious element has never bothered me, and I didn’t actually think about the religious aspect till I read your review.

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