What I’ve Been Reading – August 2017

August was a lot of catching up on the new releases from last month. I also squeezed in a new series, a few old favorites and my book club book a month early. Despite reading 12 books this month my spreadsheet informs me that I’m actually down a bit in terms of books read this month. I expect that’s because of all the writing I’ve been doing. That said, here’s what I read this month

New Books

A Dragon of a Different Color, Rachel Aaron
Rivers of London Volume 3: Black Mould, Ben Aaronovitch (comic)
The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant; Undeath and Taxes; Bloody Acquisitions; The Fangs of Freelance, Drew Hayes
Penric’s Fox, Lois McMaster Bujold (Novella)
A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles (Book Club) – Long post on this one incoming
Space Carrier Avalon, Glynn Stewart

Rereads

The Masterharper of Pern, Anne McCaffrey
Balance of Trade, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
The Delirium Brief, Charles Stross (yep, so good I read it two months in a row)

Mini Reviews

*** Spoilers Below ***

A Dragon of a Different Color is the penultimate book in Rachel Aaron’s Heartstrikers series. As such there’s not a lot I can write about it without spoiling the plot. I enjoyed this book a lot, but I can’t help but feel that this book got slightly wooden in places between the long explanations and bouncing back and forth between characters. That said I’m totally onboard for finding out just what the hell Bob’s been planning in the next book. Also, Aaron keeps up her trademark of dreaming just a little bigger than I would have expected.

Penric’s Fox is the newest of Lois McMaster Bujould’s novella series in the World of Five Gods. It takes a step back in time to fill in between two of the prior novellas, so no resolution to then somewhat cliffhanger ending to Mira’s Last Dance. Penric and Desdemona are studying with the Shaman friend they made in Penric and the Shaman, when they are asked to investigate the murder of another demon ridden cleric. McMaster Bujold is, of course, the master of “but how could it get worse?” so the investigation takes a number of delightful twists. Plus we get to spend more time with a younger Penric, who continues to be a new favorite character.

Fred, the Vampire Accountant, et. al. was a delightful suggestion from the kindle algorithm this month. Interestingly, each book is a more a collection of of short stories or novellas in chronological order, more than a coherent novel. It’s an interesting technique, which gives the series a kind of serial quality, with each story standing more or less on its own with a bigger overarching plot to hold it all together. Fred, the aforementioned accountant, has found that being turned into a vampire hasn’t changed his life all that much. Except that when he decides to get wild and visit his 10 year highschool reunion, things go south in a Carrie with Werewolves sort of way. Good thing his former best friend ended up working for the super secret agency keeping the supernatural under wraps. Things move from there, with Fred making a number of high powered friends through his charm, honesty, and accounting skillz. These skirt the edge of male nerd wish fulfillment fantasy, but avoid treading too heavily into that zone. Aside from a tendency to bend the rules to make the plot work out, these are a pretty fun read.

Space Carrier Avalon is not the first of Glyn Stewart’s books I’ve read, but if it was I’m not sure I’d have kept reading. In his defence, I believe this is the first full novel he wrote. It shows in the fanboy imitation of the Honor Harrington books (to even some of the characters being named after characters in those books). It also shows in the way the plot jerks you around and the way minor characters don’t start gaining personalities until they are suddenly important to the plot. That said, I know that I really, really like his Starship’s Mage series (which I am rereading now) and I will probably give the next few of these a go as, based on his other books, they are likely to improve more than a little over the series.

I was somewhat disappointed in this reread of The Masterharper of Pern. The more I write the more I am astonished by the apparent poor construction of many of Anne McCaffrey’s works. I loved this work when I first read it, especially given that it was literally the first Pern book I read (preceded only by the Littlest Dragonboy in a school textbook). But reading it now it seems to fit poorly into the overall Cannon of pernese literature and leaves me with more questions than answers.

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