muccamukk: Juli on a ladder shelving library books, sunbeams giving him wings. (Heart of Thomas: Wings)
[personal profile] muccamukk
What I Just Finished Reading

Guest of Honor by Deborah Davis
A lot of this book felt like filler, going into eating habits of past presidents and various largely unrelated people, and the first third or so was pretty basic biography (probably more interesting to someone who had not just read Up from Slavery). However, once it hit the relationship between Washington and Roosevelt, it picked up quickly. There were lots of great original quotes from news media at the time, and details of the complicated interaction of race and celebrity.

I'm glad I read it so close to Washington's own book, as it presents him in a very different light than what was essential a sales pitch for his school. He was a lot more politically involved than he liked people to think. Of course being a Washington book, it can't help but take the odd shot at Du Bois (no one seems to like both), and was more in favour of Roosevelt than I've seen in other places.

Tiger in the Hot Zone (Shifter Agents #4) by Lauren Esker
Like the Dragon story, this one was more mystery adventure, and less romance, especially in the latter half. However, the romance was well done and I believed in the couple who were really sweet together, and what I really WANTED was a continuation of the arc plot from last book. Which I got in spades.

I liked both MC's. Their issues felt real to me, and affected how they acted, but weren't OTT melodramatic like some romances are. I really enjoyed watching them learning to trust each other and working out how they could be a couple when they're from such totally different sides of the tracks.

Also the revelations of the mystery were AWESOME. Total vote for more Valeria plot soon.

(I received a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder by Ma-Nee Chacaby, with Mary Louisa Plummer
So this was very well told, but also by nature of the story incredibly brutal (I switched to a book about North Korea for something less depressing). I would have liked more insight into what being two-spirit meant to Ma-Nee, but even without that her life was very interesting, and I liked how the book was put together. Really worth a read, but pretty well warnings for everything.

Buffalo Soldier by Maurice Broaddus
I'm not always into steampunk, but I appreciated how this one just handwaved everything science and went straight for a political thriller, which was very well done. There was a lot of action jammed into a 100-page novella, but the characters still felt fleshed out and I liked the shape of the world. Desmond, our hero, managed to get a fair bit of backstory and characterisation into relatively few info dumps, and most of the ones he included were meta commentary on storytelling itself, which was neat.

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
Absolutely hilarious. I can see how it was adapted from a monologue, as the voice is so strong and the format is really fast-moving with lots of jokes and pictures. It took me a couple hours to read through. The more serious matter in the book (all of it really) is played pretty lightly, but no less touching for that. Of course, some of it is made more tragic in retrospect.

The Jewel and Her Lapidary by Fran Wilde
Interesting format and intense storytelling, but I'd probably had a longer book in the same world that wasn't as tragic. Especially given the implied gays, who were then killed.

All Monsters Must Die: An Excursion to North Korea by Magnus Bärtås, Fredrik Ekman, translated by Saskia Vogel
If you don't know much about North Korea (which I don't), this is a solid if somewhat whimisically organised introduction to the country's history and culture. It's set in two frames: a tour the authors went on, and the country's film industry, especially as it related to the kidnapping of two South Korean directors. As much as I might have appreciated something more straightforwardly chronological, I found this book very interesting, and it did answer most of my questions.

Black Like Us: A Century of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual African American Fiction edited by Don Weise
As with most anthologies, it's a mixed bag. The historical essays were great for setting up the context, but then the inclusion of stories written before 1950 was very slim, and not much more before 1980 either. I also wish there had been more short stories and fewer novel excerpts (especially ones depicting graphic rape and on-page gay bashing leading to death). However, I also found a lot of great new-to-me authors, and revisited some old favourites.

Also listened to that Peter Grant story that's free over at Audible, which was cute.

What I'm Reading Now
Library: The Ariadne Objective: The Underground War to Rescue Crete from the Nazis by Wes Davis, which is fine, but way, way too focused on the British officers, and not terribly interested in the Greeks.

E-book: Chalk by Paul Cornell, which is creepy as fuck.

What I'm Reading Next
I keep meaning to get to that latest Erin Bow novel.

Date: 2017-06-01 03:11 am (UTC)
sovay: (I Claudius)
From: [personal profile] sovay
However, I also found a lot of great new-to-me authors, and revisited some old favourites.

Can I ask you about either?

Date: 2017-06-01 04:44 am (UTC)
sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
From: [personal profile] sovay
A quick list from the ToC.

Thank you!

I can recommend Jewelle Gomez's The Gilda Stories (1991). I was introduced to the cycle through its stage adaptation—Bones & Ash: A Gilda Story, which my grandparents took me to see in the mid-'90's—but I discovered the stories themselves in college and remember really liking their complexity. Someday I'll even figure out which box my copy ended up in.
Edited (better punctuation) Date: 2017-06-01 04:44 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-06-01 08:39 am (UTC)
sparowe: (Bookwyrm)
From: [personal profile] sparowe
My brother and his wife are always up for more steampunk (I have a weird knee-jerk reaction against it), so I'll have to recommend Buffalo Soldier to them. :) I mean, it sounds good in its own right, but that somehow jumped off the page at me. (Sorry, it's just past 0430 and I haven't slept much this week, so I feel more like I'm rambling than making proper sense.)

Date: 2017-06-02 11:32 am (UTC)
sparowe: (Gamer)
From: [personal profile] sparowe
I can't even give a good reason. I think it's either because I prefer that era of history to stay unaltered, or because my preferences for magic tend to go in a more typical fantasy direction. The Final Fantasy games tend to be a good example of this; I always avoid classes that lean towards magical tech, rather than just straight melee or magic.

Date: 2017-06-01 01:16 pm (UTC)
oracne: turtle (Default)
From: [personal profile] oracne
I've been interested in the Broaddus, so glad you liked it!

Date: 2017-06-01 02:55 pm (UTC)
oracne: turtle (Default)
From: [personal profile] oracne
KING MAKER was really depressing, though it did a lot of cool things with the Arthurian legend. I probably would have quit reading if I hadn't been reading it for a panel rather than for pleasure.

Date: 2017-06-05 06:54 pm (UTC)
tavella: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tavella
I picked up the _The Jewel and Her Lapidary_ because it sounded cool, but then when I started reading it the framing story suggested everyone died in the main story, and I lost interest. I've been meaning to give it another try, but I'm guessing I diagnosed correctly?

Date: 2017-06-05 09:04 pm (UTC)
tavella: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tavella
Blargh. I'm not actually opposed to tragic endings, but I hate when it's framed as impending doom. I usally end up reading the end first just to get rid of the gloomy tension.

Thanks for the heads-up!
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