Thursday, April 30, 2015

Living In Fantasy

A month of fairy tales, fantasy, urban myth, and glorious, glorious stories.  The Green Woman approves.  Also, it was so much fun that I've decided to carry it over into a second month!

A note about the amount of audio this month:  Most of the audiobooks I listened to were under 11 hours, and I was able to speed most of them up to 1.25x the regular speed because of slow readers.  Even then it seems like a lot, but remember...I almost always have audio going when I'm at home alone. 

1.  The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro (audio) - Absolutely fits with the theme of the month, being an Arthurian tale and one filled with all sorts of questing and magic.  It's a really weird book.  I enjoyed it...but I didn't...but it's right up my alley...but I had trouble following it once in a while...but I stuck with it because I wanted to find out what happened in the end...but it might have been too 'literary' and not enough about the story...but I'm not sure how I feel about it now that it's over.  Honestly, I don't think I'm an Ishiguro fan.  It's one of those books that I'm glad I read....but I'm also glad I didn't pay for it.

2.  The Tropic of Serpents and  3.  Voyage of the Basilisk, Marie Brennan - I adore Brennan's gaslamp fantasies about Lady Trent.  She's fiesty and funny and is just exactly the sort of female adventurer we need more books about.  I only recently read the first book, and waited until the third came out before I bought the second so that I could read them back to back.  I'll be encouraging my daughters to read these!  My only irritation...I am an impatient woman, and it drives me nuts that I am going to have to wait to hear the rest of the story!  Given Isabelle is only about 30 at the end of Basilisk, and is writing these books from an advanced age...we could be in for a LOT more books, and if the quality stays this high, I say bring them on!

4.  Trigger Warning, Neil Gaiman (audio) - A confession:  I only made it about a third of the way through this book last month.  I lucked onto the audio during a browse of my library's digital catalog, and am so very glad I did.  Gaiman serves as narrator, and it's always a treat to listen to him read his work.  His voice is just magical, and of course he is able to tell the story exactly as it was intended.  I laughed, I cried....amazing!

5.  The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, Neil Gaiman (audio, also read by the author) - It's only 6 hours long, and it was available immediately, and it fit perfectly into my theme for the month, and at any rate it's a great favorite of mine.  I listened to this lovely book while putting the edging on a baby blanket, wrapped up in my special lap quilt while sitting in my favorite orange chair tucked into my corner of the basement with a cup of tea sitting in the windowsill next to me.  It was a lovely, lovely way to spend a day.  (I've officially decided to treat myself by purchasing the audio of Stardust.  I had borrowed it from the library in CD format once upon a time, and had listened to it multiple time over the years before accidentally deleting some of the files (Whoops!)  I want that for my very own...and maybe this one someday too.)

6.  Od Magic, Patricia McKillip (audio) - Reading this because it's the one McKillip book the library had available in digital audio format and because I wanted to reread some McKillip!  I adore her books, which are very traditional and very beautifully written fantasy/fairy tales, but for some reason have never really reread them as I do with other favorite authors.  I spent two days curled up in my favorite chair working furiously on a baby gift while listening to this book.  McKillip's books are beautiful gems, and I may start a reread of all of them after this.  I soooo wish that more of them were available in audio from my library!

7. The Drowning Girl, Caitlin R Kiernan -  Normally I don't pay attention to the Hugo and Nebula awards, but this one caught my interest.  (And seriously, I can't remember which one it was connected to - or if it won or was on a nomination list....I just remember stumbling across it when looking at the lists, and being curious.)  I love this book  - but it's hard to read.  When your protagonist has schizophrenia, and when the author does such an amazing job of capturing that voice, it can be a touch difficult to untangle the threads at times.  Totally worth the effort, but not a book I was able to sit back and just enjoy.  Plus, there's lots of art in there I had to immediately look up.  (Bonus of reading on an ipad!)  I really and truly loved the characters...but after struggling through it all month, and only making it half way, I set it aside.  I do believe I'll finish it at some point, but it's clearly not what I'm wanting right now. 

8.  The Queen of the Tearling, Erika Johanson (audio) - Again, thanks to the library for letting me try someone new.  This is a book I'd seen around for a while and was curious about.  It was amazing.  I love Johanson's young queen, who is exactly the sort of female hero I adore, and I love her concept for her world.  (think post-industrial/modern back to medieval like times with magic thrown in for good measure)  The sequel is released in a month or so, and I've already preordered it.  The only thing that stinks is that it's a planned trilogy and I'm then going to have to wait for a year for the next one.  Drat the luck! 

9.  Touchstone, Melanie Rawn - Rawn is one of my favorite female authors from back in the day when I was reading big, fat fantasy series.  Touchstone is the first in her most recent series, and it's been sitting on my (digital) bookshelf for quite some time. (Curiously enough, I have her second Sunrunner series also sitting on my (physical) bookshelf, where it's been for at least ten years now without being touched.)  Going to confess... I never really got swept up into it, and that was a tad of a disappointment.  It wound up being set aside on the unfinished bookshelf of shame.  If I had to pinpoint exactly what my problem was...probably that it was too teen male, and I long ago stopped reading that sort of fantasy book. 

10.  The Hum and the Shiver and 11. Whisp of a Thing, Alex Bledsoe (audio) - I adore Bledsoe, and as the third Tufa book comes out this year I thought I would reread the first two, trying audio this time.  (Plus, I had just about exhausted what's available/I was interested in in audio through my library's online services!)  I own them both in ebook editions - probably will get physical copies as Bledsoe is one of my favorite new author finds of the past couple of years.  I can't say enough good things about these books.  Love, love, love them.  As a bonus, I picked up his short story, Shall We Gather, and in 15 minutes it wrecked me in a really good way. 

11.  The Shadowed Sun, N.K. Jemesin - the sequel to the Killing Moon.  Now that I'm familiar with this world, it was a LOT easier to get into.  I still don't think that these two books are as good as Jemesin's Inheritance trilogy, but then those books are so amazing they really set the bar almost impossibly high.  I was very satisfied with the ending, and as usual I do truly appreciate the rich and detailed world that Jemesin created.  I also love her characters!

12.  The Little Country, Charles De Lint - This was the book that cemented my love for De Lint, and it's one of my absolute favorites.  I had, in fact, reread most of it fairly recently - I know these books so well that I can enjoy just picking them up and reading parts - so you might think it's strange that I picked it up again so soon.  However, a couple of weeks ago I finally received my copy of The Little Country by Zahatar, and I thought it might be fun to reread the book while listening to the album it inspired.  It was an amazing experience!  Yay! 

One of these things is not like the other:

13.  The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins (audio) - As I'm sure many of you know, this is one of the big buzz books of the spring, with strong connections being made between it and Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl.  (I get the comparison, but it does both an injustice.)  I did the audio because the wait list for the audio was shorter than any other format the library had available!  It's always a good sign when there are multiple readers...and they didn't disappoint!  It's basically a book about three crazy, horrible women...and yet at times I felt a great deal of sympathy towards them.

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