What I've recently finished
since my last post, including all the convalescence reading: Xin: The Journey of the Monkey King
- A three-issue indie comic book from a decade ago loosely based on Journey to the West
-- as in, set in a technofantasy world with a gender-flipped Sanzen and telling an alternate origin story for Pig. The story itself is okay, for a value of "okay" that somehow manages to include cliched sexism, but I can see why the series never took off -- not enough of the background is explained, for one thing. FWIW, the art, while clearly American, looks inspired more by Chinese manhua than Japanese manga, as well it should. How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf
by Molly Harper - Book 1 of the series, and I think The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf
would have come off a little better with this context. Not bad -- and pretty funny, actually. I would have been nice if the inevitable pregnancyTM
had been explained as a result of a certain instance of clearly unprotected sex rather than the failure of condoms to block werewolf supersperm. Fair Game
by Patricia Briggs - I'm not as quick to pounce on a new Alpha & Omega book as a Mercy Thompson book, because they haven't been as interesting -- which is why I wasn't expecting a series-important event quite this
big. Right then. Third-and-a-half of a series you should start at the beginning with. (Or better yet, start with the Mercy Thompson books anyway -- a coyote shifter being more interesting than werewolves anyway.) The Lark and the Wren
by Mercedes Lackey - In which not!Menolly runs away to join not!Harper-Hall but ends up instead with the Gypsy Bardic Tinker People. It's more than a little annoying that this does the shoujo romance thing of, once the heroine is romantically tied off, two-thirds through, turning into his story instead, to the point of all but losing her POV -- until then, it had been a perfectly adequate young woman's bildungsroman. It is also startlingly
heteronormative for a Lackey book: even while not!Menolly's plays for room and board in a brothel, there isn't the faintest hint that sex can be anything but man+woman. The Little Prince
by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry - First time for everything. It's been a while since I've read such an extended exploration of the parable of the blind men and the elephant. Also, the further one reads, the more creepy
that glass bell becomes. Ick ick ick.
A few Liaden books by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller: Fledgling
, and Ghost Ship
, the first three Theo Waitley books, plus Agent of Change
, from the main-line series. The first two are better, or at least were more self-contained -- when Theo discovers her heritage, the plotlines start splintering, apparently to encompass the continuing stories of characters who already have novels of their own. The last listed was the first published of the series, and has rough patches plus ends on a cliffhanger.
(Not that I'm feeling critical or anything.)The Blue Castle
by L.M. Montgomery - One of her novels for grownups, but Valancy's story liberation would surely be the perfect wish-fulfillment for the right sort of teen. Not to mention the sly, dark humor of it all. It doesn't hurt that this has some of the loveliest nature writing I've seen in quite some time. Delicious. I love it even more than Anne of Green Gables
(See? Not critical at all.)What I'm reading now
: Butterfly Swords
by Jeannie Lin, an earlier Harlequin novel of hers -- one with more category Romance tropes and less wuxia than The Lotus Palace
. This one's also set earlier historically, in the turbulence following the An Lushan rebellion (so set just after the central events of "The Song of Everlasting Regret"). I'm not entirely thrilled with the hero being Caucasian (apparently a Greek or Macedonian descended Bactrian, which is at least a plausible historical hack and does highlight Central Asian influences on Chinese culture -- and yet), and not finding the story compelling enough to read quickly.
(Well, maybe a little critical.)What I might read next
: Dragon Ship
by Lee & Miller, once my library reserve comes in, and How to Run with a Naked Werewolf
, currently sitting on my dresser. Or maybe some more L.M. Montgomery.