Books I’m reading mini-reviews

What do you do when you finish a book? Do you think about what you’ll read next? Reach right away for the next one in the list? Go for a walk or play some games to do something different?

Or do you start thinking about all the other books you’ve started but not finished, and how you should pick them up again, and say that in the full knowledge you’re probably not doing that?

If you answered Yes to the last one, then we are of the same people on this. For here, as much to remind myself of what I’m actually damn reading as anything, is a mini-review of everything I have started but not finished. And if you want to know what book I’ll be picking up next?

None of the below, that’s what.

The Stone Knife by Anna Stephens – Let’s start with one of the ARCs I’ve got, as I feel like I should be giving them at least some publicity. I was intrigued by what I read of it, prose and ideas, but not really wanting to read on my kindle has been an issue here. The setting hook – an Aztec-ish society fighting an empire on one side and monsters on the others – appeals; I’d like to think it’d appeal to many. The beginning of it has been intriguing as said but it does, for my tastes, have a problem with being a little overbusy, with a ton of conceits and PoVs introduced.

The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien – From something that deserves a boost to something that needs none. I’m not quite sure when I decided to start leafing through it again, but the why is a feeling that perhaps people’s memories of LotR is built more on movies and common stereotype than the actual book. I’m up to the house in the March and was enjoying it before I forgot about it. Is it different to what I see people talking about? I’m not sure. I think Tolkien is very uneven in his focus, giving great value to some song or description of nature before suddenly relying on sparse, evocative description – if you didn’t get the evocativeness it will look over-descriptive and shallow; if you do, there’s a ton of character and atmosphere in these early pages.

Mask of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick – Here’s another ARC. Mask of Mirrors is a story part about a conwoman trying to get into a noble family, part about the noble intrigue and boiling over commoner sentiment against (and a lot of other things) in a Venetian-esque setting. I’m at a 100 pages in and I just can’t say anything’s grabbed my attention. Nothing’s wrong about it but nothing has me bouncing and reading with bouncing isn’t fun. I think I’m going to give this another week or two before declaring DNF; I’ll be sad, but if it’s not working, it’s not working.

Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey – Lets pick something I’ll definitely finish since I’m in a readalong of it! This is a re-read and it’s been odd revisiting, as it’s an improvement on my memories in some way and not as good as others. The beginning is very much a miscommunication based romance, which isn’t my thing, but attachment to the character is carrying me through and I’m very much looking forwards to how far that goes.

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by Kay Villoso – I am *checks* 7% into this one. In my head it felt like I was further in, as a lot happens in the beginning here, both in setting the details of the Bitch Queen’s court and moving the action outside it. I don’t think anything’s particularly happened to hook me but the tone is enjoyable; the focus on the missing husband does little for me, but the politics does hint at an interesting mystery. Right now I’m not really far in enough to say intelligent things.

The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson – I’m 3-4 chapters into this one; Anderson’s writing doesn’t flow that freely for me and while his idea of changelings and Norse mythology are interesting (this work is often held up as proto-Grimdark) I didn’t work that hard to find it when I mislaid the book. I did find it recently though and it’s a nice short volume, so I’ll be getting back it soon enough.

The Pastel City by M. John Harrison – I picked up this tale of Viriconium after seeing it recommended in an interview with Anna Smith-Spark (who I’ve just remembered should be on the list) and it is a trip. The ideas are hazy and brutal, Moorcockian future S&S mixed with shades of Gormenghast. It’s not a fun quick read but I really need to get back into this.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon – I was really enjoying the tone of this to start with, but at around 10% in, I just found no narrative momentum; it shifted between too many points and hadn’t really got to anything juicy. Obviously 10% is a point in most books where things are still a little slow, but this is a really big book so it’s quite a way into a normal sized book. We’ll see what happens but the more I think under it, the more I think there’s a good chance I DNF this.

The Fifth Elephant by Sir Terry Pratchett – I picked this up when in a little lull, thinking it was time to continue the Pratchett re-reads, but to my surprise for once I wasn’t. I did appreciate reading the way Pratchett shows many, many things that aren’t there in the beginning. His gifts of thematic subtlety are difficult to overstate.

Ashes of the Sun by Django Wexler – 2% into a book is a very early time to make snap judgments on a book but at the same time, Wexler did make a big “you with me or not” choice in the prologue. It’s not every book where a kid get so angry that they attack a grown mythic warrior; or that they get part crippled as a result. It’s a definite statement in terms of tone and it’s not one that jives with me; I’m not much one for carnage out of nowhere. If I’d read a sample, I wouldn’t be going on, but I brought it off the tone of the first few pages and now I’m thinking I should give this a go. It won’t take much for me to drop it though.

A Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith-Spark – Curse my jogged memory! This is a very idiosyncratic book by fantasy standards in terms of the prose and characterisation, which both works for me and doesn’t. It is compelling and intriguing, which is a plus, but requires a greater level of investment from me as a reader in the prose and the characters don’t really help me provide it. I want to like this book but I’m not sure it’s going to be fun, which is my big smell test.

And there you have it. It’s not even a complete list as it doesn’t include non-fiction and poetry; there’s also a good three paperbacks at least I’ve got lying around, started and never finished and never formally DNFed either. And to think it took me so long to figure I might have ADD.

Now excuse me, I have to go start a new book.

9 thoughts on “Books I’m reading mini-reviews

  1. I read The Broken Sword ages ago (I found a German translation that had an introduction by Kai Meyer who was back then one of my favourite fantasy writers and that made me catch my eye) and remember loving it. I have been meaning to reread it for a while to see how it holds up but…so many books so little time.

    I’m also just reading Priory and I just mused on how I rolled my eyes at all the people who tried to persuade me to give Jonathan Strange another try by going “yeah the first half is a bit dull but then it gets really good” with y’know the first half being almost 500 pages but now I am really enjoying priory despite the fact that… nothing much happens in the first 400 pages. And I can’t really tell you why XD

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It definitely does have pacing flaws…I think I spent a few weeks on the first half and am now breezing through the second (I think I inhaled almost 200 pages yesterday) but I found the world and the characters interesting enough to make up for it. But I guess that’s not the case for everyone

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I think you have summed up my feelings about Court of Broken Knives – it requires a great deal of investment / goodwill, but if you’re not super into grimdark and (lyrical) tides of blood spilled by terrible people, it’s a tough sell. I loved its sense of place though; I had such clear mental images of the key locations. I’d stick with the Wolf of Oren-Yaro instead, which is reliably *fun*.

    I have a number of the others on my shelf, so I’ll watch out for your progress with interest!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess we’ll see what the moodometer comes up with! Kushiel’s Chosen and the ARCs will take priority (along with the new reads); after that… we’ll see. I do think A Court of Broken Knives will kinda struggle for attention tho as it and Viriconium hit similar notes, and Viriconium is more hooky.


  3. Haha omg Peat your reading habits stress me the fuck out. I can’t comprehend having so many unfinished books on the go, my brain does not like it one bit.

    I know what you mean about The Court of Broken Knives though. I read the whole thing recently and it definitely isn’t fun. Possibly the bleakest book I’ve ever read and I just didn’t get much out of it. I felt like I was just being relentlessly ground into the dust with how dark and bleak everything was.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel stressed out. I mildly regret writing it, almost.

      And on what you say on CoBK, which chimes with so many people… I’ll give it one go, but if it doesn’t click I’m DNFing. If I want bleak and thought provoking, that’s what non-fic is for. Something’s got to entertain. Traitor Baru Cormorant was horrifying in places, but a ton of fun too. This… well, we’ll see.


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