Witness the follow convo in my apartment recently, Gentle Reader…
Gail: Saturday is a Readathon
AB: Oh Yeah, wassat mean?
Gail: I’m gonna be reading all day.
AB: Oh Yeah, Pinky, and how is that different from any other Saturday?
Gail: Well Brain, I won’t be doing ANYTHING else.
AB: How is this your life?
So Saturday April 6, 2019 was Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon.
I’ve participated on and off for a few years now.
They do one in April and another in October. Usually the April one is more towards the end of the month, which is great because it’s around my birthday and I can better justify taking the whole day off. This year it was early, and so I really couldn’t do as much as I have in the past.
Even had I had the full 24 hours, I can’t really do that anymore. I just don’t stay awake that long. If (by some miracle) I do, it wreaks me for days. Oh, to be 20 again. So I tend to do it as a sort of half-Readathon of about 12 hours.
Let The Readathon Commence!
I was up at about 8 and commenced the readathon at 8:30am. I actually started with the book from the night before which was the third in a not very good PNR series that I just wanted to finish so I could move on to something else with impunity. It’s not really good enough to report on. Also it turned out not the be the last one, and the next isn’t out yet. Grrrrr.
Right so, this first review is intentionally vague to protect author, although I am about to abuse Sherlock Holmes. Which might make you mad at me, so read at your own risk.
AKA Sherlock Holmes Anger
I love many (but decidedly NOT all) of this particular author’s books, so I was really game to give their new endeavor a try.
It took me several chapters of info dumps and an unsympathetic POV character to realize what was going on with this offering. This was a Sherlock Holmes retelling! Which explained a disconnect I was feeling between narrative style (Victorian) and setting (non-Western fantasy world). The POV character was lackluster, partly because they were not the MAIN character, partly because Watson is a wimp (yeah yeah, read on).
So here’s the thing, and the reason I’m not naming names. I don’t give bad reviews. Period. This author had an excellent turn of phrase, a ready wit, and a good grasp of Doyle’s style. But I’ve never been a fan of Sherlock Holmes the character. Holmes comes off as an emotionally abusive arse to his friends, and I don’t understand why they remain his friends. Never did. Watson putting up with Homes makes me cringe.
Anyway, if Sherlock Holmes in a fantasy world with gender flipping, queer characters, and magic sounds like something you really WANT to read, or you just HAVE to know more about why I didn’t like this book, you can reply to the last Chirrup, or the next one, asking me for the full review and title and I will email it to you privately.
After a quick break for lunch while the sainted AB went off to do the grocery shopping without me. I moved on to the next book.
I blush to admit this book has been on my TBR for probably six months. I just haven’t been in the mood for fantasy.
THE GLASS MAGICIAN (?)
Stevermer opens the story with a dramatic theater magician scene and a confident cultural system one might expect from one of the great mistresses of fantasy. The writing is confident, easy to jump into, and a joy to read.
This book is set in alt-history turn of the century so so I’m tempted to call it “post-gaslamp” fantasy. There is an appealing atmospheric nature to this story (it oozes Toulouse-Lautrec) which made it feel pleasantly nostalgic. Stevermer’s twist on shape shifting (trader versus solitaire) is unique to my reading life ~ if subtly reminiscent of Wrede’s early Lyra works.
This young adult adventure isn’t funny but it’s not a weepy angsty read either. It’s a classic, in the best way ~ a nested tale of self-discovery, replete with YA archetypes and tropes, of the kind that still resonate with me. It’s basically a shifter coming of age story and while the protag is stated as 21, she could (and should) be more like 16 or 17. Everything else about this book (from story arc, to interactions, to heat level, to behavior, to conversational patterns) reads as YA.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the book hasn’t hit market yet because they are changing their marketing and targeting. I certainly hope so.
There were some repeated conversations and flawed timing (main character knowing something when the information hadn’t been imparted yet), and some overly obvious writer’s ticks in terms of character description but I’m thinking I got my review copy prior to a revision pass.
I also have a few concerns over the main characters agency, particularly in the middle third of the book.
Finally, there is a cool aloofness to this book, it’s not a warm story. It has a kind of aristocratic reserved affection but nothing more.
In the end, what it reminded me of most was high fantasy meets Moulin Rouge. And I did enjoy it very much.
I have no idea when this book releases. Perhaps they are holding it because of marketing issues, or staffing changes. It’s from Tor and they can move slowly, but I really worry that it wasn’t billed to me as YA. Given that this title is shared with a few other very popular books, I would hope they consider changing the title too. But for now you can at least… Add this book on Goodreads.
Crikie I moved slowly this readathon. Maybe I’m just not into it this year? Usually I manage more than three books in a day!
Anyhoo, the last thing I read was Klune’s forthcoming fantasy book.
I adore TJ Klune’s hilarious Lightning Struck Heart but I’m not into his super angsty Wolfsong stuff. Also I find he tends to write books that are much longer than I prefer. So I was taking a chance on this, his first foray into traditional publishing, and it made me nervous. I’d no idea what I was in for… could go either way.
I shouldn’t have doubted.
THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA
This book was touching, tender, and truly delightful. An utterly absorbing story of tolerance, found family, and defeating bureaucracy. Hooray!
The kind of charming tale we all need right now, if you ask me.
The atmosphere and setting had the feel of 1984 meets Umbrella Academy with a pinch of Douglas Adams thrown in. The protagonist, sweet bumbling Linus, is a middle-aged bureaucrat with a devotion to order and duty that successfully hides his earnest loving heart. I liked him so very much. His age, his chubbiness, his fussiness. So unexpected in a main character. I enjoyed his droll sense of humor and descriptions of his surroundings, colored by a decided eau de Arthur Dent. (No bad thing there, if you ask me.)
Allegorically speaking, some of the story is a scotch on the nose, but it did make me tear up more than once. What can I say, I’m a bit of a sap.
There is a slight romance for our dear Linus and his lovely Arthur, and it has an HEA, but I would definitely NOT call this a romance novel. This is a story more of tenderness and connection and finding home than it is anything else.
It’s a delightfully comforting read and I honestly can’t recommend it highly enough.
I’m so lucky to have gotten to read it first. Honestly this is what I wanted Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children to be. I defy you not to fall in love with this book and these kids. I’m tearing up with joy just thinking about it. (And to be frank, I’m not a kid person.)
It’s not up for preorder yet although it seems to be on Goodreads. I’m hoping they consider changing the title, which is very awkward, hard to remember, and hard to spell.
Still, an excellent end to the Readathon, if you ask me. So on that note…
Yours in reading wonder,
- Want to know about that book Gail didn’t like, stuff like that goes to my Chirrup members, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.
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P.S. Dropped a fun podcast recently: The Functional Nerds Podcast: 400-With Gail Carriger and Tom Merritt. All about podcast and publishing changes over the past decade. Here are my additional show notes and things talked about…
- The whiteboard intro to my universe done by Sword & Laser
- My travel podcast, 20 Minute Delay.
- Article where I talk in depth about using cover art to manage reader expectations and avoid reader betrayal.
- Time stamp 12 minutes in on this video is where I talk in depth about cover art, why I chose images and fonts, how I source my images, and more.
- The podcast I recommend during my diatribe on podcast algorithms and conglomerates is Exponent
- The podcast ep I mention, where an insider actor talks about the viewer numbers needed now (as opposed to a decade ago) since the advent of cord cutting.
- Book I recommend: Sleepless in Hollywood.
OUT MAY 18, 2019!
The 5th Gender (A Tinkered Stars Mystery as G. L. Carriger).
Sci-fi queer romance meets cozy mystery in which a hot space station cop meets the most adorable purple alien ever (lavender, pulease!) from a race with 5 genders.
- Reticence, The 4th and final Custard Protocol book. August 6, 2019
- Fan Service Omnibus, October 2019 to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Soulless.
- Need to know what Gail is writing right now? That’s in the Chirrup.
GAIL’S DAILY DOSE
Your Moment of Parasol . . .
Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Fashion & Flight: Pioneering Aviatrixes (from Dressed: The History of Fashion podcast)
Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
“Soulless should definitely be on the shelves of anyone that loves Steampunk, but is also a great pick for readers who love the Paranormal and Historical subgenres of Romance. (Especially if you enjoy the opposites attract trope.) Gail Carriger builds a dark and whimsical world where all manner of supernaturals coexist with their mundane counterparts all while not missing a single element of British culture in the Victorian era.”
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