The Grief of Stones

Monday, September 26, 2022

The Grief of Stones
Katherine Addison, 2022

Premise: Sequel to The Witness for the Dead. Thara Celehar thinks his life in Amalo is becoming routine when he is presented with a possible murder, an unexpected assistant, and a secret message asking for help. 

A few days after I finished this book I went back to the beginning and read it again. It's been a while since I liked a book enough to do that. 

I love this world and these characters and this style. What a fantastic series. And this one adds just a touch of subtle pining. Thara is still too raw after his personal tragedy to think of pursuing any kind of romantic entanglement, but surely his friendship with the flamboyant and brave opera director, one of only a few people who seem to care about Thara for himself, will remain only friendship... so our protagonist tells himself, anyway. 

There's a moment that's going on my list of top all-time emotional literary moments, is all I'm saying. 

More tangled plots and subterfuges, more supernatural dangers and mundane dangers, more shades of everyday life in a big city full of elves and goblins at the start of an industrial revolution.

I loved it so much.

5 Stars - An Awesome Book

Redshirts

Monday, September 19, 2022

Redshirts 
John Scalzi, 2012

Hugo Winner - 2013

Premise: Andrew Dahl and four other new crew members on the starship Intrepid soon learn there is a reason no one wants to go on away missions...

Reading this book in 2022 instead of 2012 comes with one gigantic problem: I've already seen two seasons of Star Trek: Lower Decks. And it's hilarious and fantastic. So Redshirts now has a bigger challenge to convince me that these characters are worth caring about. And that's actually the only place it fails.

There's a smart stylistic choice made here that is both necessary for the plot and the only big flaw in the book. The characters are largely featureless and interchangeable, exactly the way minor characters tend to be on shows like Star Trek. In fact, this very fact is important for some late twists in the plot.

However, being smart and necessary doesn't actually keep it from feeling like a flaw. It means the book is more philosophical exercise and intellectual puzzle about the nature of free will and storytelling than it is an exciting adventure. I don't actually care what happens to the characters except insofar as their presence is required to reveal the next part of the central conceit.

However, it's still a really fun read, and that central idea is good enough that the journey is worth taking. Not exceptional or completely unique, but enjoyable all the same.


4 Stars - A Very Good Book

The Secret, Book, & Scone Society and The Whispered Word

Monday, September 12, 2022

The Secret, Book, & Scone Society and The Whispered Word
Ellery Adams, 2017, 2018

Premise: Nora loves her bookshop, but doesn't really have many friends until a customer turns up dead.

I have been really into series and cozy mysteries in the last few years, so when this one caught my eye I decided to try it out. The description I got really emphasized that the books are about a group of female friends, and that sounded like something I was in the mood for. Unfortunately, that wasn't really what I got. 

Instead, these are fairly by-the-numbers cozies, with their wacky minor characters and their main character with a crush on someone in law enforcement. The group of friends (the society in the title) become close in the first book because they're all interested in a murder in their town and they're all women with some sort of secret in their past. So they decide to fast-forward their bonding by spilling their backstories one after the other like they're playing an awkward drinking game. And then they're besties forever! I guess?

None of the women get much development except the main character, so it's lacking that group friendship angle I was hoping for. I tried the second book in the series to see if it would be better now that the setup was done, but that just focused even more on Nora's maybe-romance. 

The mystery plots were fine, nothing exceptional. Sometimes people acted entirely nonsensically, which isn't that uncommon in this subgenre. It's sort of the literary equivalent of a middle-of-the-road sitcom - if you don't have anything else to do, it's enjoyable enough, but why would you seek it out over something else?

2 Stars - Okay Books