Recent Reads

I’ve noticed that since I’m in between books I haven’t been as good about logging what I’m reading. So, in an attempt to correct that, here’s my recent list, in reverse reading order:

  • Assassins Gambit: The Hearts and Throne Series, by Amy Raby – This is a fantasy with a strong romantic element. A women is trained as an assassin to catch the interest of the emperor and assassinate him. Except, everything turns out to be more complicated than she expects. At the moment, most Amazon reviews seem to be giving it 5 stars. In my opinion, it’s closer to a high 3 stars. However, the story was intriguing and I’ll probably read the next in the series.
  • The Bitter Kingdom, by Rae Carson – This is the third, and final, book in the Girl of Fire and Thorns series. I thought it was good but I think the first one is still my favorite.
  • Cetaganda, by Lois McMaster Bujold – I’ve been reading/listening to Bujold off and on for a decade or so. I started by listening to her Chalion series. Every so often, I’d listen to one of the Miles Vorkosigan books but it’s taken me a lot longer to get into the series. This is probably because I started out trying to listen to them but don’t have access to all the audio books (if audio books are even available for every book in the series). However, I finally got around to reading Cetaganda. It was good but I think Shards of Honor, Barrayar, and A Civil Campaign are still my favorites.
  • Crossover, by Joel Shepherd – I liked this book a lot. Originally I gave it 5 stars but on further reflection, I dropped it down to 4. The story begins as an android tries to avoid her destiny and tries to live a “normal” life. Unfortunately, she’s a very, very advanced android and multiple governments want to use her for their own purposes. I think it’d be a good book club book because there are lots of different angles to discuss including discussing some of the choices the author made.
  • Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie – This book was fascinating. Like the one above, it has an AI as the protagonist. There were a couple of unique things about this book. It’s written in first person which already is a hard perspective for me to get into. To make things a bit more complicated, the AI has multiple concurrent perspectives since she has awareness in multiple bodies. However, what made it a little harder is the narrator doesn’t think in gendered pronouns. So, the AI uses female pronouns for everyone unless she is talking directly to someone in a language that does use gendered pronouns1 . Anyway, so all of that is an interesting writing technique that distracted me for the first couple of chapters until the plot sucked me in. The plot is pretty interesting. Basically, the AI was “forced” to do something wrong and spends the entire book trying to correct that mistake. I’m definitely getting the next book in the series.
  • The Magic Faraway Tree, by Enid Blyton – This is actually a Calvin book. I was talking to someone recently who talked about how she loved some of Enid Blyton’s books 2. A particular favorite was The Magic Faraway Tree. I looked it up and Boulder Public Library actually had a copy that I was able to request. We got the book this week and I’ve been reading it aloud to Calvin who loves it. A brother, sister, and cousin have a magic tree behind their house that has access to a rotating collection of faraway lands. These lands are places such as the “do whatever you want land” and the “land of goodies”. Naturally, this is a concept that is almost guaranteed to appeal to a young child. The book has a very classic feel to it in that the morals pop out of the story to beat you over the head. The children are so good (they always help mother and father before they run off and have adventures). In addition, the “greedy” child is usually the one that gets all the others in trouble in the faraway lands. However, this is the perfect sort of chapter book for Calvin at the moment. It is reasonably long without any of the grittiness that often appears in more modern juvenile books. Grittiness can have its place. However, I’ve been finding it very tricky to find books that are a good listening level for Calvin without being too mature for him and I’m finding the classic books fill this gap fairly well.
  1. In some weird way, this seemed the reverse of reading biblical passages. In most versions, God is always referred to as He. However, I was always taught that God transcends gender and we aren’t suppose to assume God is strictly male.
  2. Though, she also cautioned that, similar to many older books, that you had to watch out for racism in some of the Blyton’s books.

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