Krazykiwi @ Kiwitopia

I'm a kiwi (the kind from New Zealand) who lives in Sweden. I read a lot.

 

I sometimes write really long reviews. And sometimes I don't.  I rate books fairly hard, something has to be pretty spectacular and a long time favourite to get a 5. But I'll try to explain why I rated what I rated.

 

Much books. Very review. Wow.

Reading progress update: I've read 91 out of 217 pages.

3 Dead Princes: An Anarchist Fairy Tale - Danbert Nobacon, Alex Cox

Didn't get it read, but nearly half way. And we're down one prince already.

 

This is exceedingly silly, and occasionally not quite as clever or funny as it wants to be. I'm kind of loving it in spite of that

Reading progress update: I've read 1%.

3 Dead Princes: An Anarchist Fairy Tale - Danbert Nobacon, Alex Cox

Princess Stormy lives in a semi-detached castle with her family and a Fool. When an unhappy neighboring kingdom decides to invade, Stormy must go on her quest, meeting giant Cats, Mermangels, Giggle Monkeys, a Gricklegrack, and Flying Lizards on the way. Oh, and she kills three princes. But that's by accident, and anyway it's their own fault . . 

 

Too late to start it tonight, but I am going to read this over the weekend if it kills me :)

So sorry for the rating spam

I just noticed that a ton of books I've reviewed (some of them years ago) had ratings on the reviews, but not on my shelf. I guess it was a BL glitch, but whatever it was only affected books I'd rated 2015 and earlier, so I suppose it's long fixed. In any case, I think I'm done now.

Kia and Gio by Daniel José Older

Kia and Gio: A Tor.Com Original - Daniel José Older

Tor short, you can read it on their website here: http://www.tor.com/stories/2015/01/kia-and-gio-daniel-jose-older

 

I'm a huge fan of Older, after reading Shadowshaper, and if you're not familiar with him this is a pretty good intro. It's actually set in the world of his other series, but they are very similar, and he has a distinct style and rythym to his writing that I really enjoy. 

 

Things in the Mirror by D.J. Shaw

Things in the Mirror - D.J. Shaw

Well they can't all be good. Still working through my random kindle freebie mound.

Probably the best thing about this story is that it's short. On the other hand it could have been a whole lot shorter, it's not like there's anything original going on here, it's a very well worn plot

"the things you think you see out of the corner of your eye in the mirror are real and want out, but need to swap places with something to get there".

(show spoiler)

Just didn't work for me. One minute the main character doesn't know what's going on, the next she has known all about it for years. The ending is hardly the shock it's intended to be (and why the random POV shift for one final paragraph?). The protagonist's husband is mad unlikeable, and she's no peach herself. 

Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows #1) by Kim Harrison

Dead Witch Walking - Kim Harrison

It's really hard post-hoc reviewing books that begin long-running series you've already read. It's too easy to overlook things that gave pause on first read, or were unclear, because you know where it's going. On the other hand, it's sometimes hard to see the really clever flourishes in the world-building, the exact things that pulled you in the first time, because this world and it's inhabitants are already old friends.

In any case, the Hollows books are rip-roaring urban fantasy with a pretty great female protagonist. There's romance, but these are not PNR (although there's the odd sexytimes scene, maybe 4-5 times in the entire first ten books, unless I'm misremembering). I mention this because I'm so over reading poorly written "PNR" that's just an excuse for horribad erotica, and I know I'm not alone there.

As mentioned, long but completed series, I'm just gonna suggest you pick up the first book and see if you like it.

But if you're interested in more thoughts, read on. Consider yourselves warned, this might get long. Even for one of my reviews.

 

-read more-

Trapped by Cassie Black

Trapped - Cassie  Black

I can't even.

 

This kind of crap is why I stopped picking up freebies by unknowns. The only positive thing I can say about it is I didn't notice any spelling errors.

 

ETA: Decided to spoiler the nasty words.

 

What I did notice was a giant steaming pile of kidnapping, rape, manipulation, blackmail, coercion, and violence. With a HEA and a fucking baby to boot.  All in under 10k words.

(show spoiler)

 

Recommendation: Avoid harder than a shuffling dude during a zombie apocalypse.

A Bitter Veil by Libby Fischer Hellmann

A Bitter Veil - Libby Fischer Hellmann

Western woman marries handsome Iranian student and returns to his homeland with him, just in time for the revolution.

 

This was a real 3 star for me. I liked it well enough, but not more. It's well written, clearly well researched, and it certainly kept me turning pages. It just felt like it went off the rails at some point, and devolved into an weird murder mystery with a slightly too deus ex machina ending. For me at least.

 

Right up until then, I would have rated it somewhat higher probably. But since I can't unread that part, well, so be it.

 

If you're interested in the Iranian revolution (it's really a fascinating time and place to read about) I can highly recommend Marjan Satrapi's Persepolis which, despite being non-fiction, a graphic novel and from the perspective of a child, is really rather spectacular. If you're interested in life as a western woman in the middle east (and particularly how one might extricate oneself from there, a perspective I was hoping would be covered in this book, but was instead almost ignored), well there's plenty of those, probably the most well known being Betty Mahmoody's Not Without My Daughter (you may well have seen the film which I found a little bit hysterical, but the book is actually rather good).

 

I'd consider reading more by this author though, as said, the writing is good and for most of the book she had me.

Tristan och Isolde

Tristan och Isolde - Joseph Bédier, Lorenz von Numers The Romance of Tristan and Iseult - Hilaire Belloc, Joseph Bédier

*sigh* This is more of a ramble than a review, sorry.

 

tl;dr: Fantastic story, godawful versions.

 

Another post just reminded me of struggling through this last month when daughter had it as assigned reading.

 

Don't get me wrong, I love me some Tristan and Isolde. It's one of my favourite tales, it really is. But this translation.... daughter looked at me utterly blankly after a chapter and said she didn't understand any of it. I didn't make it that far, I got to about page 2 before throwing up my hands in despair.

 

So I made popcorn, and found her my DVD of the James Franco / Sofia Myles movie, and found a version of Lovespell, and we had a Tristan party. Then I got her the librivox audio version of the English translation of this same version (by Hilaire Belloc). Both of which are still not my preferred version of the tale: Belloc was a prude, and chopped out several bits of Bédier's text that he found inappropriate, but that is the version that is in the public domain, so it's also the source of the librivox audio.

 

Then we had a long talk about just how many versions there are, and how the movies differed from the Bédier version and she listened to it in English during her morning commute and somehow managed to ace her essay test. So go her, but boo on teachers assigning this to 16 year olds.

 

I may go to whatever circle of hell Dante has assigned for people who don't like great literature, but while this story itself is 11 stars out of 5 for romance and tragedy, I'd frankly avoid either of these versions like the plague unless you're assigned them.

 

Further cementing my place in the inferno: The 2006 movie is actually pretty good. James Franco is appropriately pretty, but he's not why it's good, it's rather despite him. Sophia Myles is absolutely luminous as Isolde, and Rufus Sewell (omg how I do love him!) portrays a King Mark who is utterly sympathetic to the point you can really understand how torn up everyone gets. Further, both Tristan and Isolde are given agency, by removing the "love potion" silliness, and giving them a real backstory. And a proper tragic ending (the Bédier version is the love potion version ,and the ending really lets everyone off pretty lightly).

 

I'd give a book recommendation on a better version or at least one I like better, but... seems I have read so many, I can't actually remember which one I like best. I suspect the Rosemary Sutcliffe one is pretty good though (I haven't read that one, but... it's Rosemary Sutcliffe, how bad could it be?) Another I'm going to try to hunt down is Arthur Quiller-Couch's version (he actually was Cornish too), left unfinished at his death and finished many years later by none other than Daphne du Maurier.

Been busy, but here have a reindeer.
Been busy, but here have a reindeer.

Daughter had a week off school, the so called Swedish late winter "sports holiday". Personally I am about done with snow, but reindeer are damn cute.

Got Audiobooks?

Hot tip courtesy my daughter, who heard about this at school:

 

http://www.audiobooksync.com/

 

Sync is a free audiobook summer program for teens, they are giving away 30 books, in themed pairs per week, over the summer.

 

Most of them are available internationally. There's quite a range of topics, from YA through Non-Fiction, lots of genres

 

Requires Overdrive to download, and you can only download the books during the week they are posted, but it says once you have downloaded them, you may keep them (and that they are mp3's and you can listen to them on other devices).

 

There's actually some really good books in this program, and although it's obviously aimed at kids, I can see a few things there I wouldn't mind listening to.

 

(Reblog/repost widely as you like, this is a really neat program I think).

 

 

Frostbite by David Wellington

Frostbite: A Werewolf Tale - David Wellington

3.5, almost a 4. Or a 4 with a few issues.

 

I could actually see this making a good movie, it has that kind of structure, and overall I really rather liked it.

 

The plot is actually rather fun. The title is in fact "Frostbite: A werewolf tale" so that there's werewolves in it isn't actually a spoiler, although saying much more about the rest of the plot would be so I'll just write myself a pros and cons list after the break.

 

-read more-

Amber Quill is closing down

31 March 2016, the website will be removed, including all access to books, purchase history, etc. If you have ever bought books directly from them, you probably want to go check you have copies of everything you might want.

 

Also they are likely to be having pretty deep discounts until the doors close.

 

For authors, they are reverting rights of all books. So there's likely to be quite a few re-releases over the coming months.

 

I don't read a whole lot of romance, but even I know who they are - yet this was a complete surprise to me, and I haven't seen it come across my dashboard at all yet (here or elsewhere), so I figure I may not be even the last to know. Please feel free to reblog or repost this if you think someone needs to see it.

 

ETA: A link is probably useful: http://www.amberquill.com/

Red Winter by Drew Montgomery

Red Winter - Drew Montgomery

Trying to be more disciplined cleaning all the shorts and samples off my Kindle acct, now that my actual kindle has gone to the kindle graveyard. Most are being tossed within a page or two with no regret.

This was fun though.

Blogging the zombie apocalypse. How modern. Although, despite being only 3 years old, it's dated a little but I only noticed in passing, the story doesn't suffer for it.

A not at all bad little long short story/short novelette. 

The Black Sun's Daughter (#2 through #5) by M.L.N. Hanover

Darker Angels - M.L.N. Hanover Vicious Grace - M.L.N. Hanover Killing Rites - M.L.N. Hanover Graveyard Child (Black Sun's Daughter) - M.L.N. Hanover

Didn't have much time for reading this week, but I somehow inhaled the entire rest of the Black Sun's Daughter Series on my morning train rides, and I loved it. Pretty much all the things I was a bit iffy about in the first book were resolved, either by solving the problem or by lampshading them and making them actual plot points. All in all an excellent series, and I can see myself re-reading it.

   Over the course of five books (approximately two years in universe), our heroine actually grows up, learns to make hard decisions, has her entire world view turned upside down at least three times, and the whole thing is taken full circle back to her estranged family and her upbringing. She's a very different woman by the end of the series than from the start.

   This is not your average UF in so many ways: The "who is good and who is bad" is fluid, and ever changing, and at times entirely reversed. Enemies become allies, allies become enemies. Nobody here gets out unscathed, nobody is perfect (nor are they perfectly irredeemable).

   Which isn't to say this is in any way dry or overly literary. I like literary fiction, but not necessarily all up in my genre fiction, and Hanover can really write genre. There's all the snappy dialog with lashings of snark you might want, with tons of pop culture references (Jayné's reaction to finding out about the existence of Otherkin on social media is perfect.)

   By the end of the series, the main plot is wrapped up, and it becomes obvious that almost nothing that has happened has gone to waste. Even the "monster of the week" type books in the middle, all connected to one overarching story arc. There's a definite resolution, a feeling that this story is told and this series is complete. 

   If you don't want to invest in a new series and a new author without a bit of a sampler, I can highly recommend the anthology Down These Strange Streets where he has a story "The difference between a Mystery and a Puzzle" as a taster. Not directly related to the Black Sun books, it's possibly set in the same universe, although it doesn't say so, and it's one of my favourite short stories I've read in the last few years.

My review of Down These Strange Streets

My review of the first book in the Black Sun Series "Unclean Spirits"

A little more info on the Amazon flagging books with typos

Our Quality team uses a formula based on how many defects it contains out of the total allowable defects for a book of its length. Longer titles are allowed more defects than shorter ones because the overall impact is distributed. Note that “locations” below refers to the internal divisions of an ebook, not pages or chapters.

While we are not able to disclose this specific formula, please be informed that an average sized novel with around 3000 locations will trigger the quality warning with 10-15 typos.

 

3000 locations is ~70k words or somewhere in the 230-250 page range.

 

Bearing in mind that errors have to be reported by multiple people to count and that under the current system authors currently get 3 warnings (i.e. chances to fix or argue why it's on purpose) before Amazon even starts to threaten pulling the book, I think it's going to be interesting.

 

While some authors will certainly use this as a way to get free copy-editing out of paying readers, it means that if a book does have that warning label on it's really going to be one to avoid. I also wonder just how many errors it actually takes to get to the second level, where the book is "Not Available" until it's fixed!

Earlier post about this here.

Currently reading

Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey, Jefferson Mays
Progress: 15%
Tiassa by Steven Brust