Thursday, October 24, 2013

What I'm Reading - The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

What it is: The Republic of Thieves is the long-awaited third book in the Gentleman Bastard Sequence. (The first two books are The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies, the next book will be The Thorn of Emberlain, and the series is expected to be seven books in total.)

Why I’m excited: It’s the third book in the Gentleman Bastard Sequence!

For those unfamiliar with Lynch’s work, these books are a mashup between high fantasy and the caper story covered in a thin layer of grimdark. Imagine, if you will, the muddy ghost of Tolkien and the Soderbergh remake of Ocean's 11 making raunchy, sweat-stained love on a gondola in the stinking canals of Venice. Now imagine that act resulting in a charming, twisted, brilliant, wonderfully foul-mouthed baby. That baby is The Lies of Locke Lamora, and once you pick that little bastard up, you'll never want to put it down. At least not until it's time to pick up its siblings.

While RoT starts off a bit more slowly than the first two books in the series – this is necessitated by one of the carryover plotlines from the last book, and this is not a complaint but a simple observation – once it starts moving, it doesn’t stop. There are the usual GB: The Early Years flashbacks, which are fairly concentrated in this book and take us back to the time Locke and Co. strode across the boards. Much is revealed about Locke's past. (Or is it? The idea that Locke is a mark in a massive and never-ending shell game is only strengthened in this volume.) We learn quite a bit more about the Bondsmagi of Karthain, who are all up in the GB's beeswax, and the shadow of the Eldren spectre darkens. Not only that, the stakes continue to be raised, and we're left with a pretty clear picture of some of the challenges to come.

In short, this book proves itself to be more than worth the wait.

Favorite (spoiler-free) thing: We finally get to meet Sabetha! And holy shitcakes, people. I actually pushed this post back a week while I struggled to articulate just how much I love this character. Lynch kept subverting my expectations of her, repeatedly pulling the rug out from under me in the best possible ways. Seldom are relationships portrayed in this genre with so much careful consideration for both parties, and it's stunning to watch Sabetha and Locke's strange courtship unfold. Aside from that, Sabetha is, in her own right, a strong, flawed, complex character, who is driven by a whole host of motivations and desires, many of which have little or nothing to do with our -- and her -- beloved Locke. Lynch's books continue to raise the bar for the genre in any number of ways, but the care with which he crafts his characters is perhaps my favorite.

Side note: In case you’re wondering, I learned recently that Sabetha is pronounced like Tabitha, not Suh-BEE-tha, which is how I was saying it in my head. I blame this on reading too much epic fantasy. (Ha! As if such a thing were possible.)

What say you? Have you read RoT? What did you think? And is it possible to read too much epic fantasy?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What I'm Watching - Sleepy Hollow

I'm baaaaaaaaaaack! Back and trying out a new format for my posts.

What it is: Sleepy Hollow is a new, hour-long TV show on Fox. (Yes, I’m getting invested in a Fox show. What can I say? I’m clearly a masochist. In all fairness, the show was just renewed for a second season.)

Why I’m excited: This show is bananas in the best possible way. The premise itself – that Ichabod Crane dies while fighting in the American Revolution, and, through witchcraft, is preserved for 250 years so that he can join up with a modern-day cop to save the world from an impending apocalypse – is absurd. And yet, somehow, it works. There are the obligatory fish-out-of-water shenanigans, which I happen to think Tom Mison (Ichabod) carries off with aplomb, but they’re tempered by moments of real connection between the characters and some genuinely creepy monsters.

Of course, with a show like this, the rubber will really meet the road when/if/how the showrunners decide to move beyond the Monster of the Week format. A lot of shows bumble that transition and lose me. Sometimes that's because they never make it. Or the show gets mired down in overcomplicating its mythos. Or the plot starts to revolve around creating progressively more absurd ways to keep the leads apart or to break them up.

I guess what I’m saying is the wheels could come off this thing at any moment, but until that happens, I’m along for the ride.

Favorite (spoiler-free) thing: Lieutenant Abbie Mills, the modern-day cop played by Nicole Beharie. Beharie brings a lot of depth to the role and she totally holds her own in the face of Mison’s dreamy and unrelenting British charm.

What say you, people? Are you digging SH or did it fail to grab you? What are you watching and loving? Please keep things civil and spoiler free.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hi!

Hello to you, my dear readers. You may have noticed I've missed a couple of posts. I apologize for that, but I'm getting insanely close to the end of my book My days right now are deliciously filled with writing, leaving little time for posts. I promise I will be back soon, though, so please do keep checking back!

 For the nonce, I leave you with this image of a wee sloth trying to fight a man.

No, I don't know why the sloth wants to fight him, but I'm sure he's asking for it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What I'm Reading - Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

I had every intention of reading Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion this week, but then I picked up Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig, and it grabbed by the throat and wouldn't let me go. In a good way, of course.

First off, this.
Linking to B&N this week because Amazon's pissing me off with its "used e-books" shenanigans. 
(Here's Wendig himself discussing said tomfoolery on his blog. I also recommend following this link through to his post on piracy. My views on the subject basically falling into the category of "What He Said.")

Back to Blackbirds -- sweet fancy Moses, that's an amazing cover! It's the sort of cover I covet, the sort of cover that, even I had started reading the book and hated it, would have brought me back to try to love it again and again.

To be clear, I definitely try not to judge books by their covers. After all, I am a fantasy and sf reader, and that genre has some doozies.

What in the name of Abe Vigoda's eyebrows could Sid Ursus be pondering?
(See many more amazing covers here.)

That being said, I find I am more willing to put down a book with a so-so cover. From what I understand, authors have little to no input on their book covers, especially their first book cover. That being said, the people who worry about these kinds of things are people with publishing contracts, so at this point it's a problem I hope to have one day.

As for the book itself, sweet fancy Moses is this an awesome book! It's about Miriam Black, a young woman who, when she touches someone skin-to-skin, knows the exact when and wherefore of their deaths. But unlike other heroines who might use this ability to try and help people, Miriam simply struggles to survive, recognizing her "gift" for the curse it truly is.

Miriam is, of course, severely broken, but she's also whip-smart and brash and she can, and will, beat the shit out of anyone who puts a hand on her. A large part of her is resigned to her hellish fate, but there's too much fight in her to really contain it. She's the sort of strong, complex heroine I love to love. Add to that the vivid descriptions, clever dialogue, and swift pacing, and you've got yourself one hell of a book.

Mockingbird, the second book in the projected trilogy, is sitting on my Kindle now, just waiting to kidnap this coming weekend, and by God, I have every intention of letting it.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

What I'm Watching - Bad Romance: Women's Suffrage

This will be my new Thursday thing. (Sorry for missing WIR on Tuesday. It'll be back next week.) I might post about a movie or a TV show, or, as is the case today, my current YouTube obsession.

This video was originally published on March 6, 2012, and I'm sad it took me so long to find out about it. The title is "Bad Romance: Women's Suffrage" and it does what it says on the box. It's "a parody music video paying homage to Alice Paul and the generations of brave women who joined together in the fight to pass the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote in 1920." The video is a wonderfully produced parody, faithfully sticking to the overall feel of the source material, while at the same transcending it enough to become its own entity. It's entertaining and educational, and watching it makes me crazy happy.



Here's the site from which the video originated. Soomo Publishing also made another parody video called "Too Late to Apologize: A Declaration" that's worth checking out. I sincerely hope they're planning to make more, and if it were up to me, I would head for the African-American Civil Rights Movement next.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What I'm Reading - The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson

I'm taking a break from the Wonderful World of Scalzi with a novella released in October of last year, The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson.


In this story, Sanderson returns to the world of Elantris. Sort of. He returns to the world, though not the same country, and though the magic system is similar, it's not exactly the same. Which is awesome, because as fans of Sanderson will tell you, one of the things he does best is to craft magic systems. Of course, he's also amazing at writing complex, interesting characters, and he's a master worldbuilder. Basically Sanderson is the sort of storyteller I aspire to be when I grow up.

But back to this book. It's the tale of Shai, a clever, but captured criminal who's tasked with the seemingly impossible task of Forging a new soul for the emperor in less than one hundred days. She also needs to find a way to escape, because once those one hundred days are up they won't need her anymore . . .

Don't worry if you haven't read Elantris. This great, fast read works wonderfully as a standalone, though I do recommend going back and reading Elantris too. And Warbreaker. And the Mistborn trilogy. And The Way of Kings. Start just about anywhere. With Sanderson it's nearly impossible for me to steer you wrong.

Here's a link to Sanderson's site. The man's very transparent about his writing process (he does also teach), so the site is a great resource for writers as well as fans.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What I'm Reading - The Last Colony by John Scalzi

In an effort to get more regular with my posts, I'm going to start consuming large amounts of e-bran. Ha-cha! Hello? Is this thing on? Ahem. As I was saying, in the hopes of posting more often I'm going to try instituting a couple of weekly features. They may come and go as I find the ones I like, but if there's anyone else out there, please try to stick with me. I am, at heart, a creature of habit, so this sort of thing really appeals to me. Let's see how it goes, shall we?

Today's feature is What I'm Reading, wherein I shall tell you what I'm reading. Complicated, I know, but I'm confident you crazy kids can keep up with my doublespeak. In the future I think I'm going to make this a Tuesday item. Not sure why -- I guess it just feels like a Tuesday sort of thing.

I realized I was being unintentionally cagey about my new obsession last week, so I'm here to clear up the mystery. My new literary love is John Scalzi, and, more specifically, I've fallen head over heels for his Old Man's War series. This week I'm already on book three, The Last Colony.


Since this is the third book (the first two being Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades) I don't want to reveal too much. Suffice it to say, Scalzi blows my skirt up something fierce. The Old Man's War series -- a wonderful series deserving of a much snappier title -- is military sf with both charm and a heart. And there is also a plethora of strong female characters, something careful readers (or anyone who has read my bio or any of the other posts on here) will know that I love. These books are funny and entertaining, and I really can't recommend them highly enough.

Also work reading is Mr. Scalzi's blog.