Books read, things seen: July 2021

Sketches at Andy Geppert’s launch of his latest picture book (Backyard Birdies)

Books (excluding some embargoed manuscripts, as ever!)

I am writing a lot at the moment, so my reading is skewing heavily to classic murder mysteries (and a dash of romance), because that is not what I’m writing. This time.

  • A Marvellous Light — Freya Marske: An advance review copy (thanks Freya!). A definitely very steamy romance in this gorgeous Morris-patterned Edwardian fantasy — and/or a definitely very beautiful fantasy of arts & crafts design in this steamy romance? Anyway, that is either a warning or a promise, depending on your taste (my personal taste is to stop at the bedroom door!). However, what I loved about it (apart from the Morris wallpaper) was that although Marske was working with some familiar relationship constellations and concerns, she balanced the personalities (abilities, damage, affections) in a way that was much less usual (and made me personally like the people involved more) — in particular, there is a certain bluff kindness and exasperated capability that I had not expected. But ALSO I plan to sit down and talk with Freya about contracts and magic next time we meet up and really, that’s what I want in a fantasy. If you like CL Polk, KJ Charles, Emily Tesh or CS Pacat (or, you know, the Arts & Crafts movement) and/or magical bureaucracies, definitely look forward to this one. More about it on Tor.com (including AO3 tags) here, and it is available for pre-order now.
  • The Accidental Apprentice — Amanda Foody: Middle-grade. Splendid fun, with fabulous creatures and a wild, wheeling approach to a world of Wilderlore and Elsewheres (which promise to unfold further) — also an apprenticeship education system, which is neat to compare to e.g. school-based magic systems (no less risky, of course).
  • Loveless — Alice Oseman: The first university-romcom-styled book I’ve read that deals with what that story-shape looks like for a romcom-obsessed person who is resistant to actual romance. As a result, the book does have to put in some heavy lifting around its concepts (which in a few years I think won’t be necessary), which risks it feeling didactic (at least if you’re Extremely Online). But it also has lots of terrible-wonderful theatre kids in their first year at university, and some delightful characters and very hilarious and familiar college friendships. A fun book, and one that feels like it will be a benchmark to look back on and see how genres and conversations develop.
  • Death in Ecstasy — Ngaio Marsh. Obscure British cults! With murder.
  • Vintage Murder — Ngaio Marsh. Travelling theatre company in New Zealand! With murder.
  • Artists in Crime — Ngaio Marsh. Artists in the country! With murder.
  • The Rebel Heiress — Joan Aiken Hodge. Less direct murder.
  • Death of a Fool — Ngaio Marsh. Morris dancing and mummery, and its possible links to King Lear! With murder. (I’ve enjoyed all of these, but this one is the sort of mystery that doesn’t so much glance at folk horror as hold its gaze across the dividing fence, which is what I particularly like.)
  • The Case of the Counterfeit Eye — Erle Stanley Gardner. Only the second Perry Mason I’ve read in memory, but such a concise yet characterful voice.

Movies

  • Werewolves Within
  • Fast & Furious 9
  • Gunpowder Milkshake
  • Black Widow

In two of these, I was weeping with laughter, and it was not the ones I expected going in.

1 thought on “Books read, things seen: July 2021

  1. Pingback: August 2021 — round-up of posts | Kathleen Jennings

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