Thumbs up for Essays on Russian Novelists by William Lyon Phelps. Literary criticism.
After I finish this *grrr* book I’m writing, my reward is going to be delving into Russian literature. (If you’re shocked that I consider this a reward—hi, I’m Emma! We clearly haven’t met.) It seemed like a good idea to do a little preparatory reading around the subject so I could know firstly, what to read, and secondly, what works are supposed to be satire, because it can sometimes be hard to judge that without context.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Benjamin the True by Claudia Paley. Children’s fantasy.
Benjamin discovers a witch, Ellenwan, in a cellar in his otherwise ordinary town. She teaches him witchcraft. There aren’t many books that really make you believe in magic while you’re reading them. This is one of them.
“I am not leaving you behind because I think you are afraid, or because there is nothing for you to do.
… >> Read more
Thumbs up for A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic’s Wild Ride to the Edge and Back by Kevin Hazzard. Nonfiction/Memoir.
Obviously, you shouldn’t read this if you are easily grossed out, or are offended by the mundanity of death. Before you think my reading tastes are horrifying, let me tell you: you have no idea. I know people whose reading tastes make even me—a novelist—want to back away slowly.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba. Graphic novel.
A series of important days scattered throughout the life and (possible) deaths of obituary writer-cum-novelist Brás. Beautiful in both an artistic and metaphysical sense. Highly recommended. If you’ve never read a graphic novel, this would be a good place to start.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. Literature/Humor/Science Fiction (sneakily—watch for it).
It’s always a dangerous business when you search out whichever classic it is that has almost the same plot as what you’re writing. Some authors refuse to read That Book (whatever it is for them), and I’ve sometimes fallen into that camp. This time, though, I don’t really care.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Heathen, Volume 1 by Natasha Alterici. Graphic novel.
Walking through Emerald City Comic Con, I spotted some art that made me stop on a dime and walk backward. The author/artist handed me the first volume saying something like, “it’s about lesbian Vikings who go on a quest to kill Odin.” I said, “Sold.” I read it that night and went back to Alterici’s booth the next day to get an art commission.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson. Fantasy.
I went into this knowing three things. First, that it is a fantasy in which the main character is an accountant (this is, for me, a plus). Second, it got great reviews from people whose opinions I trust. Third, not just one but several of the blurbs on the dust jacket include the word “brutal.” When I was early in my first late-night marathon read—that is, before the really brutal stuff started happening—it occurred to me that it might easily lend itself to a humorous plot summary: “Young woman becomes an accountant for the Evil(ish) Empire in order to legalize gay marriage.” At the end, when I have been reduced to a gibbering and yet somehow gleeful wreck, all I can do is wave the hardback twitchingly in your general direction and tell you that if (a) you like zero-magic political fantasy but don’t need Martin’s bazillion characters and (b) you understand how inflation works and (c) you are capable of sufficient ethical complexity to see why someone might do terrible things for a good cause, you should stop reading this blog and get a copy of Traitor RIGHT NOW.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Nine Hills to Nambonkaha by Sarah Erdman. Travel.
I picked this up as research for a story and within a few pages realized it was not what I needed. But by that time, I’d been hooked by Erdman’s writing. There are so many ways that a white woman’s memoir of her Peace Corps work in an African village could have been irritating or obnoxious.… >> Read more