March 22nd, 2016

Book with cat: hugging book

Book #16 of 2016: The Fate of Mice

The Fate of Mice by Susan Palwick
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

(Now that I've read the book, I hate this cover. Nothing in the book is so simple or literal -- this image does the stories a major disservice.)

[I did something different with this review. The problem with reading a book of short stories is that, by the time I get to the end, I've forgotten the early ones, so this time I started writing this review after the second story. Now that I'm done with the book, I'll add any updates in brackets.]

A complaint I often have about books is that the writer doesn't trust their readers. One of the reasons I love Susan Palwick's writing so much is that she fully trusts us. Each of the book's short stories ended at the perfect point: She leads us right up to the ending, there's no doubt how the story will turn out, but she ends it a moment too soon. Every time a story ended, I had that "Arg! Wait no! That can't be the ending! It can't stop here!" reaction. And yet every story was a complete story -- you knew how it ended, but leaving it open like that made it delicious. [Unfortunately not every story did this, but most of them did.]

While each of these short stories was sci fi, it's really interesting because they were a lot more than that. Each of the stories was actually about something normal or mundane, the sci fi was just window dressing. But it really, really worked. A short story about how some men stop loving women as the women get older and less beautiful? BORING! I'd never ever read that! But couch it in the framework of a werewolf story? And I loved it! [Turns out a couple of them were "just" sci fi, without any other message or meaning, but most of them were as I had originally described.]

[I originally wasn't going to LJ cut the descriptions of the individual stories. I tried very hard to not spoil things, but really, any mention at all of the details of the stories can be a spoiler, so I'm going to cut them. I highly suggest you get the book and read it without clicking here.]

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Rereading my reviews of each story, I see I didn't like more than half the stories... which is odd, because I LOVED this book so much. Her writing was so strong that, even if the story didn't work for me, I still generally liked reading it.

One of the stories, Sorrel's Heart, had perhaps the oddest opening line I ever encountered:

He found the girl couched in a ditch by the side of the deserted road, using a jagged rock to try to sever the muscled cords that connected her heart to her body.

It was such a strong 'I know what each of those words mean, but together they make no sense...' moment.

Now I get to google her and see what else she's written! I can't wait to read more of her books!

Edit: Apparently this book is literary fantasy and not sci fi, which I suppose makes my comment about them not being very sci fi-ish make sense!

That is not at all what I wanted... (2016 book: Far World)

Far World by J. Scott Savage
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

I started a new book this evening, one I bought nearly a year ago. The writing was dull and predictable, so I came back to my computer and did some checking. Unfortunately apparently I hadn't done enough research to see if it was self-published or not...

Checking the publisher listed on the Amazon page lead me to the Shadow Mountain Publishing's site, and poking around it (because sometimes an author will set up a "publisher" for only their own books, to try to hide that it's self-published), I found this on their Submission Guide page:

"Shadow Mountain publishes and promotes a variety of books, all of which reflect the values espoused by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

Man, I sure do wish I had seen that before spending $10 on this book! (Even though it was a year ago, back when I had money to spend on books.)

Even with my initial opinion on the writing, I considered continuing to read and giving it another chance. But, even if this book doesn't have religious messages/themes in it, I'd still be looking for them and suspecting them at every turn, so I think I'm just going to delete it unread. Sure does pain me to waste $10 though...