Read Recently — July 2008

Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti Taya is an Icarus–a flying courier in the clockpunk city of Ondinium. Lower-class but ambitious, she gets caught up against her will in the affairs of two ruling-class brothers, one of whom has moved out of the upper city to live among the poor. Terrorists are involved with one of the brothers . . . but which one? Good characters, interesting world-building . . . I had a minor problem with some of the language choices, but not enough to ruin the experience. Highly recommended.

Dancing With Werewolves Caroline Nelson Douglas Delilah Street is an orphan, named for the place where she was found. Now a reporter covering the paranormal beat in rural Kansas in a world in which vampires, et al came back with the turn of the century. When her dog dies of blood poisoning due to biting a vampire, and her home is destroyed by a jealous weather witch, Delilah takes off to Vegas, following the appearance of her apparent double as a corpse on a CSI show. Vegas turns out, not surprisingly, to be a hotbed of paranormal activity, and due to that TV appearance by her double Delilah is the It! Girl of the hour. Can she survive, find a new home, and make a new life for herself?

Despite an intriguing concept involving zombies given the spirits of old black-and-white movie characters (not actors, characters), this book failed to hold my interest. I did recently grab the sequel, and am trying to figure out if I actually want to read it or not. Meanwhile, this one is not recommended.

Snake Agent: a Detective Inspector Chen novel by Liz Williams

Detective Inspector Chen is part of the Singapore 3 Police force (Singapore 3 is a franchise of the original Singapore; I didn’t catch its exact whereabouts). Chen is the officer who investigates supernatural crimes, which involves a lot of liaising with Heaven and Hell both (these are the Chinese Heaven and Hell, nothing like the ones in the west). In this story, he investigates the case of a dead girl who, though supposedly bound for heaven, has turned up in Hell instead. This leads to him working with the demon Zhu Irzh, of hell’s Vice Squad (instead of fighting vice, they promote it). Subplots involve Chen’s mysterious wife, and Chen’s difficult relationship with his patron goddess.

This is an interesting and freaky book, with atmospheric writing and a mythology that westerners rarely get exposed to in our fantasy. Highly recommended.

Worldwired by Elizabeth Bear Conclusion of the story started in Hammered, and continued in Scardown. Can Master Warrant Officer Jenny Casey save the world? If you have to ask, you don’t know Casey. Recommended.

Dog Days by John Levitt So does the term “Women in Refrigerators” apply only to comic books, or can it apply to any story featuring a female character who is murdered or otherwise traumatized only for the affect it will have on the male characters in the story? Cause I think it should be the latter.

Not recommended.

Red Limit Freeway and Paradox Alley by John deChancie Confusing sequel to a story you haven’t read yet (deChancie’s Starrigger, in case you were wondering). Recommended, but I think out of print and so hard to find, and anyway only if you’ve read the first one.

The Sharing Knife volume two: Legacy by Lois McMaster Bujold I didn’t like this one as well as the last one. I think that, once again, Bujold is just creating a world I don’t much care for. She did it with Barrayar, and she may be doing it here. I’ll see what the next volume brings. Meanwhile, cautiously recommended for those who liked the first book.

Atheism Explained: from folly to philosophy by David Ramsay Steele This is Volume 5 in the Ideas Explained series, which ought to give you some context (other volumes include Daoism Explained, and Heidegger Explained). Thoughtful, well-written, and thought-provoking. Recommended.

The Hidden City by Michelle West Prequel to the Sun Sword series. Jewel’s youth and how she formed her Den. Gets my highest recommendation of the month (I even bought it in hardcover, which I almost never do), but contains scenes that may be triggery for some people.

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