I spent a lot of time reading this weekend, which is the best way to spend a weekend; I managed to read two complete books cover to cover basically before even getting into the shower yesterday, and knocked out another one this afternoon. I know I keep saying it, but it’s nice not working weekends. I didn’t even put my watch on today! That’s how awesome this weekend has been.
At any rate, seeing as how I really enjoyed all four of the books I’ve finished, but I don’t want to write four full book review posts, y’all get some quick reviewlets instead of a solid week of book posts.
We’ll start with Into the Drowning Deep, by Mira Grant, who is also Seanan McGuire. I’m a big goddamn fan; I know I’ve talked about her under both pen names around here repeatedly, so I’ll cut to the chase on this one: it’s her best book. ITDD is kind of a book designed to push my buttons in a lot of ways; all of the characters are scientists (and damn near all of them are women scientists, which is even better) and the book is a great mix of research-intensive oceanographic geekery, cryptid speculation, and gut-wrenching horror. It takes a lot for a book to scare me, to the point where I can only recall praising one book in the past for how scary it is. This is right up there. It’s also insanely movie-friendly. I want to see this movie on the big screen so bad I can taste it, and some Hollywood bastard needs to shovel a ton of money at Seanan and get this on screen now.
My love for Tor.com’s novella line continues to grow with every book they release. I have damn near an entire shelf of them by now, and I’m at the point where I’m putting them on my Amazon wish list the second I find out about them regardless of who the author is or the subject matter. That said, P. Djèli Clark’s The Black God’s Drums is a perfect exemplar of what I love about the line: an author I’ve never heard of (I have found so many good authors through these novellas!) writing an alt-history featuring characters that are generally underrepresented in genre literature. In this case, the book is set in an antebellum, independent New Orleans, in an America that is split into at least three or four different factions, with airships and steampunk and, oh, right, orisha magic. The main character, a young girl named Creeper, is possessed by Oya, an African god of wind and storms, and occasionally is able to manifest magic powers.
Oh, and there are nuns who are basically spymasters, which kinda rocks.
I have actually already read most of Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins mysteries, but it’s been a really long time and I’ve been slowly working my way through his books over the course of this year. This is the third one I’ve read and the second of the Rawlins mysteries. It’s weird; the last time I read a lot of Mosley was in college, and for years I’ve been telling people that he was an author where I was really fond of his sentences and paragraphs but that I didn’t necessarily love his books.
College Luther was kinda dumb, I guess. Or he was half right, at least, since Mosley remains a brilliant craftsman as far as the beauty of his writing goes, but I really wasn’t giving his skills with plot and story enough credit. I’ve been enjoying these books much more on the second pass-through than I did when I first read them, and even back then I recognized how good the guy was. There will be more Mosley to come this year, that’s for sure.
I encountered Ismail Kadare’s The Traitor’s Niche through Twitter, and specifically through my friend Anne Leonard, who Tweeted out a link to this New York Times profile of the book. It caught my interest as well, and when Barnes and Noble actually had the damn thing when we popped in on Saturday I took it as a sign and bought it. Kadare’s book is the one I’m most conflicted about out of everything I read this weekend, mostly because I feel like I didn’t quite get everything that was going on: the book was written in 1978, and only recently translated into English, and while it’s supposedly about the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire, it’s actually about Albania in the 1970s. Albania in the 1970s was a client state of Russia and controlled by a dictator. This is therefore not only literally translated from the Albanian it was written in, but is metaphorically complicated as well; the book demands to be read on a couple of different levels and the simple fact is that I’m not in possession of the necessary background knowledge (I just told you everything I know about Albania) to be able to read the book with the understanding and background knowledge that it probably deserves. I four-starred it on Goodreads, but it could have been a five and it might end up in my 10-best list at the end of the year anyway. It’s just kind of a rough book to form a snap opinion on.
What’s it about? Severed heads.
Just trust me. 🙂