Favorite Books – June

June had a definite standout:

THE RAPTURE, by Claire McGlassen

Dilys is a devoted member of a terribly English cult: The Panacea Society. When she strikes up a friendship with Grace, a new recruit, God finally seems to be smiling upon her. But Dilys is wary of their leader’s zealotry and suspicious of those who would seem to influence her for their own ends.

This was a stunning depiction of what it means to be in a cult — the madness passing itself off as normalcy, the ambition disguised as piety, the norms of a particular time and place held up as universal truths. I’m going to be thinking about this book for a while, I suspect.

Other books I particularly enjoyed in June included KING OF SCARS by Leigh Bardugo, THESE WITCHES DON’T BURN by Isabel Sterling, THE PREY OF GODS by Nicky Drayden, MADE THINGS by Adrian Tchaikovksy, THE PEARL THIEF by Elizabeth Wein, and RED UNICORN by Tanith Lee.

Favorite Books — May

Better extremely late than never, I suppose. Last month I particularly enjoyed:

NETWORK EFFECT by Martha Wells

When Murderbot’s human associates are captured and someone else from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action. Drastic action it is, then.

If you like the Murderbot stories, you will like this book. I like the Murderbot stories. I like this book. I have little else to say, except that I was a fan of Martha Wells before she was super-popular, and therefore I am cool.

GOLD UNICORN by Tanith Lee

Journeying through many distant lands, young Tanaquil hears frightful tales of the Empress Veriam, who wishes to conquer from one sea to the next. Tanaquil is shocked to learn that the dreadful tyrant is really her half-sister, Lizra.

Having read twenty-ish of her books, I have only scratched the surface of Tanith Lee’s astonishing output, and I can still list several of them — such as The Silver Metal Lover, Don’t Bite The Sun, and Black Unicorn — as being among my favorites of all time. I know that she’s well-known, but it baffles me that she isn’t listed more frequently among the all-time greats. Anyway, this was a delight. The peeve was a delight. Tanaquil’s grumpy realization of her own emotions was a delight. The subtle inversion of common fantasy tropes during the trip to the other world was a delight. I want more, and there’s a third book, so I can have it.

Other books I quite liked this month included VASSA IN THE NIGHT by Sarah Porter, WHISKEY WHEN WE’RE DRY by John Larison, PRETTY MARYS ALL IN A ROW by Gwendolyn Kiste, AT AMBERLEAF FAIR by Phyllis Ann Karr, CITY OF STONE AND SILENCE by Django Wexler, GOLDILOCKS by Laura Lam, THE LIGHTS GO OUT IN LYCHFORD by Paul Cornell, CREEPING JENNY by Jeff Noon, IVY ABERDEEN’S LETTER TO THE WORLD by Ashley Blake Herring, THE MERMAID, THE WITCH, AND THE SEA by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, and RECOLLECTIONS OF MY NONEXISTENCE by Rebecca Solnit.

Yes, this made much more sense 3 years ago …

… when this was still a Thing. I’m posting it now anyway.

DO NOT LIKE GENTLE INTO THAT GUD BREAD

do not lik gentle into that gud bred
old Cows shuld burn and rave at site of crust
rage, rage against the locking of the shed

tho wise Cows from the pasture softlie tred
they then devour a loaf with unhid lust
do not lik gentle into that gud bred

gud Cows inside the byre are well fed
but at your bakinge stille their tongues they thrust
rage, rage against the locking of the shed

wild Cows, uncaught, who from theire slavers fled
who steale baguettes and feele their deede is just
do not lik gentle into that gud bred

grave Cows, half blind, so olde they are near ded
beside a bagel will betraye your trust
rage, rage against the locking of the shed

and you, my Cow, with crumbs stucke to your hed
i know you only do that wich you must
do not lik gentle into that gud bred
rage, rage against the locking of the shed

Favorite Books — April

I’m a few days late this first time around, but I thought it might be nice to start posting about some of my faves out of the books I read each month, whether old or new. This month is weighted a bit heavily towards the new, since I’ve been focusing on recent publications in a bid to do my part to support authors whose releases might have been affected by bookstore closures and other difficulties.

SHOREFALL by Robert Jackson Bennett (Book 2 of the Founders trilogy)

An immensely powerful and deadly entity has been resurrected in the shadows of Tevanne. Sancia and the rest of Foundryside must race to combat this new menace, which means understanding the origins of scriving itself — before Tevanne burns to the ground.

Bennett has created a new genre with this series — maybe call it magical Renaissance cyberpunk — and I am here for it. The second book in the series rockets along, with all the action taking place over the course of a few days, but it still finds time to add nuance to an already rich world and give the characters space to grow.

THE UNSPOKEN NAME by A. K. Larkwood (Book 1 of The Serpent Gates)

On the day of Csorwe’s foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power. But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.

This was a delight. It went in directions I didn’t expect, and at times seemed like it wouldn’t come together in the end, but I’m glad I kept going with it — by the finish all the parts worked to make a seamless whole.

A STITCH IN CRIME by Justin Robinson (Book 4 of the City of Devils series)

Assembled from the corpses of six women, Jane Stitch is haunted by impulses she can’t control and memories that aren’t hers. When she returns to her hometown to solve the mystery of her creation, she finds herself drawn unwillingly into a war between rival gangs of monsters for control over the patch of desert she once called home.

The narrative shift from Nick Moss to Jane Stitch represents not only a change for the series, but a step up to another level for Justin Robinson as a writer. This is, at least in my opinion, the finest book he’s written yet, and I was already a fan. While retaining his trademark humor and inventiveness, he adds layers of depth to this one that really makes it shine.

THE MIDNIGHT LIE by Marie Rutkoski (Book 1 of The Midnight Lie)

Where Nirrim lives, a harsh tribunal rules. You either follow the rules, or pay a horrible tithe. But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away who tempts Nirrim to uncover hidden secrets. But to do that, she must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.

The Midnight Lie was an exquisitely written book. The prose is beautiful, and the characters compelling. I’m eager to find out what happens next.

OTHER BOOKS

While the ones above were my absolute favorites, other books that I enjoyed and would also recommend included Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver, Finna by Nino Cipri, Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher, Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman, Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler, and Catfishing on Catnet by Naomi Kritzer.