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What have you just finished reading?

Busy week!

C.J. Cherryh's Russalka, which had a more interesting and touching ending than I remember. As is common with Cherryh, I could see ideas and issues that she has tried again or previously in other works, which doesn't bother me: they're interesting ideas.

Also, vol. 8 of Ooku by Fumi Yoshinga. This is still a cool series, and beautifully drawn, but I want more slice-of-life Yoshinaga (like Antique Bakery and Flower of Life) or yaoi Yoshinaga (like Ichigenme … The First Class Is Civil Law). I wonder whether she'll ever go back to her roots that way?

Then I read the first volume of the manga version of Durarara!. My reaction is basically "What the hell was that?" The story thus far has seesawed back and forth between cheery high school comedy and urban dark fantasy. I imagine it will take a couple more volumes before I can even tell whether I like it or not.

Volume 2 of House of Five Leaves was interesting, although the mangaka's distinctive drawing style is beginning to wear on me a little. Although it couldn't be more different in style from Fruits Basket, I'm having the same sort of difficulties telling characters apart.

Finally, I just finished Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire, the sixth October Daye book. I really liked it. I think it's partially because it is now definitely an ensemble cast. Given that it's written from Toby's POV, she has to be the center, but she has collected an extended family-of-choice that I very much like. So now there's only one more book available: Chimes at Midnight, which just came out a few weeks ago. And then I'll have to wait for one volume a year, according to her website: three more volumes, coming out 2014 - 2016.

What are you currently reading?

And still limping through The Wouldbegoods by E. Nesbit. I only read bits of it when I have nothing else to read, but I am determined to finish it.

I downloaded the first Marjorie Liu "Dirk & Steele" book, Tiger Eye. It's my first straight paranormal romance (as opposed to Liu's harder-edged urban fantasies about demon hunter Maxine Kiss), and for about the whole first chapter I wanted to thrown it against a wall for what I assume were romanticism elements. As an example, when Our Heroine is retreating through a crowd, and the whole scene has been from her POV, she's suddenly described as getting through the crowd "gracefully." Because, you know, when someone is worried about retreating from potential danger, she of course spends time thinking about how gracefully she does it. (Mary Sue, phone home.) But I'm getting much more interested in it as we get into the heart of the book, including everything from the comedy of trying to make a very tall exotic-looking man inconspicuous in Beijing (and trying to find normal 20th century cosmopolitan clothes to fit him, since he showed up looking like an extra from a Conan story) and the family-of-choice aspects of the firm. And the constantly broken-off almost-sex scenes aren't any more over-the-top than a lot of fanfiction. It's like Liu was really unsure of what she was doing for the first couple of chapters and then got into it more whole-heartedly.

What do you think you'll read next?

Uhhh … another problem for another day. I do have two novels in hand that I got off the bring one-take one shelf at work, but I'm not itching to start either one: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which was recommended by a colleague. Anyone have opinions on either of them?


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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 26th, 2013 02:21 am (UTC)
On the basis of reading the first three chapters, I think you might like Meljean Brook's Riveted. It's a steampunk paranormal (or maybe it's just steampunk without paranormal) romance and the third in a series (I haven't read either of the first two books), but it seems to stand alone well, is well-written (at least by my definition of well-written), and above all is not a stereotypical (or even a typical) romance. It doesn't have anything (that I remember) like the graceful walk of the POV character in Tiger Eye. Isn't that like a POV character noticing the color of their own eyes -- highly implausible and/or narcissistic -- in addition to being inconsistent with what's going on in the narrative at the time?
Sep. 27th, 2013 02:04 am (UTC)

Hmmm ... maybe let me know what you think of it when you're finished? It's very hard for me to make a decision to pick up anything billed as a romance: I've been bouncing the idea of the Dirk & Steele series around in my head for a long time.

Sep. 26th, 2013 03:07 am (UTC)
The light novels for Durarara might be more to your taste-- they have the same tonal mix, but the mood feels like an integrated choice throughout rather than Jekyll and Hyde-esque.
Sep. 27th, 2013 02:08 am (UTC)

Maybe an odd or hard-to-answer question ... but how is the use of language in the light novels? I read what was available of "Twelve Kingdoms" in light novel format because there simply was no manga series, but the English was very meh. It made parts of the story that weren't being carried forward by strengths of plot device or emotion very hard slogs. (I do wish "Twelve Kingdoms" would finish, but it was published by TokuoPop ... .)

Sep. 27th, 2013 07:40 am (UTC)
It's readable, IMO. If Durarara were a fandom I felt committed to, like Loveless, the English is at the level I'd offer to beta-- it wouldn't be terrible to work through, and it's also not good enough to not need it. SPAG isn't bad; there's an idiosyncrasy of phrasing that you may find charming or irritatingly awkward or both. Here's a random excerpt:


Hm. Let's suppose someone asks you: "Can you buy everyone's heart with enough money?"

The tricky part of this question is the word "everyone".

The answer should be "Sometimes yes, sometimes no." Correct?

Some people wouldn't do anything that would hurt their pride or conscience even if you offered them 10 billion, while some might be ready to commit murder for one yen. That's the way the world is, isn't it? Even the same person makes very different decisions under different circumstances and at different times in his or her life.

That's right. The losers in the game called life are mostly the ones who are too assertive while answering this question. If they're assertive because they have some sort of faith or principle, they can still be excused. But those who jump to conclusions like "Of course you cannot buy human love!" or "Of course you can buy human love!" without thinking are doomed to fail because they've rendered themselves blind to all other possibilities. Staunch belief in one single answer does make your world look brighter all of a sudden, but it also narrows your world to the extreme. The trade-off is self-explanatory.

When you look at it that way, it makes perfect sense to gamble on human hearts, doesn't it?

Of course, you might be at an advantage if you know the person we're gambling on better than I do. But the difference it makes is like that between a horse gambler who does his research beforehand and one that doesn't.


And another, since the dialogue is more obviously... translated than the narration:

"I can't. I can't move. I'm so wound up over this that I can't even make one step forward!"

They had entered the karaoke box as indicated and were waiting for the ““client”” to appear. The huge guy, Slon, cupped his head with his hands as he squatted down.

Vorona, on the other hand, took out a book from her paper bag and began to turn the pages as she replied matter-of-factly.

"You're sitting. I deny the necessity for you to walk."

"I can't help being all wound up over this......we just passed some sukiyaki and shabu-shabu restaurants on the way here. I can't help getting all wound up over beef..."

Slon looked as if his world were about to end. Vorona, however, did not even cast a glance in his direction as she continued to leaf through the pages.

"How...how do cows grow to such immense sizes when all they ever chew on is grass! It's simply weird that they can get so big just by eating grass...if this mystery is not solved, I don't even see any point in living, let alone go to work!"
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


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