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Books read, late March

Mary Alexandra Agner, The -Ologists. This is a beautiful chapbook of poems focused on women who do science. Favorites included “Dark Matter” and “Song of Steel,” but really I’m glad to have this entire thing. It’s a tiny treasure.

Lois McMaster Bujold, The Curse of Chalion. Reread. My records show that I haven’t returned to this since it was new, and I find it holds up pretty darn well. There is some reliance on coincidence in the plot, and there are some places where favorite themes are quite transparent, but I still really enjoyed the world and the worldbuilding, and of course the characters. I am a sucker for setting inspired by medieval Spain in general, actually.

K.A. Doore, The Perfect Assassin. Discussed elsewhere.

Larry Hammer, trans., One Hundred People, One Poem Each. Discussed elsewhere.

Sam Hawke, City of Lies. This was a freebie in my WFC bag, and I didn’t really know anything about it or its author. It’s about poison and siege and trust and families, and I really thought it was fun. You might too.

Justina Ireland and Troy L. Wiggins, eds., Fiyah Issue 9. Kindle. Another very solid issue from the Fiyah team. I felt that Jonathan Kincaid’s “The Ishologu” and Nicky Drayden’s “The Rat King of Spanish Harlem” both really stood out.

Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle. Reread. Another book that holds up charmingly–I’m doing a project, and it’s great, basically. Sophie’s level-headed adventures delight me.

Kelly Jones, Murder, Magic, and What We Wore. This is a YA Regency fantasy featuring a heroine on the verge of penury, saving herself with her undiscovered dressmaking skill. It’s a particularly interesting thing to read in close conjunction with Howl’s Moving Castle, although Mary Robinette Kowal’s glamourist series is a closer comparison point.

Robert MacFarlane, Landmarks. A glossary of regional terms for landscape features. Delightful, probably most useful if you own a copy to refer back to or are using it for a specific project. Still delightful, though.

Arkady Martine, A Memory Called Empire. Discussed elsewhere.

Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings and Bandwidth. These little dips into Oliver’s work are great, but I find I’m wanting to immerse more, to treat it like a cold spring lake and get my head soaked with the shock of her poetry. We’ll see if I can manage that; in the meantime this is what came in at the library.

James Rebanks, The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape. I loved this. Loved. Rebanks is quite thoughtful about herding sheep and also about how our systems are sometimes inadequate for rural kids in ways that are different from the ways in which they’re inadequate in general. But also lots of just plain vivid experience of herding. Very useful if a person happened to want to write a novella in a sheep farming village. You know, just. Hypothetically.

Mary Rickert, The Memory Garden. Reread. While this is still a beautiful book (mostly about women’s relationships and flowers) on the second read, I find that it relied a bit more heavily on its revelations than I’d realized. Still not sorry I reread it.

Vandana Singh, Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories. Some of these stories are searingly great, others merely interesting–“merely”–but a Vandana Singh collection is basically always a good life choice.

Caroline Stevermer, Magic Below Stairs. Reread. I still feel like the ending privileges the nobles too much at the expense of the main characters, but I enjoyed the details of how the young servant’s work fed into the magic plot and setting quite a lot, if anything more than the first time.

G. Willow Wilson et al, Ms. Marvel: Damage Per Second and Ms. Marvel: Mecca. These are not good graphic novels to read if you want a break from the horrors of modern politics–there is, for example, an image of a hate-filled attack on a mosque–but I still absolutely love Kamala Khan and am so glad to have these, knowing that they are going to take on issues of the current day, knowing that they will do a darn good job of that.

Patricia C. Wrede, Dealing With Dragons. Reread. And for the moment this is the last of “rereads that really held up.” I had a moment quite early on when I didn’t remember whether it was one of those books, that sneers at people for having blonde hair or liking domestic things, and then of course it wasn’t, of course that’s not what Pat was doing at all. It blew the Bechdel test out of the water before the said test was even formulated, and I think that all fantasy novel heroines should have best friends willing to try fireproofing spells with them. Yay.

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