Tag Archives: books

Reading Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” for the first time!

6104-square-1536Hello friends!

Yes, you read the title right, in these Difficult Times I’ve decided to read “Pride and Prejudice” for the first time ever, and apparently blog about it. Don’t ask me why, this decision was made at the height of the COVID-19 quarantine, even though I’m only finding time for it now, when quarantine is (so far) mostly over for me.

This post will mostly be disclaimers and general info, if only so that I can refer people to it later (assuming anyone but me ever reads this lol).


Have you really never read this book before?

A fun fact about me is that I’ve not only never read Pride & Prejudice, I’ve actually never read a single Austen novel. This is mostly because:


(1)
Although I grew up reading a lot of 18th and 19th century literature (and generally read very few books published after 1950 prior to turning eighteen), very few of the authors I read were women. In fact, almost none of them were.


(2)
I was raised with the attitude that the time to read classics is at the beginning of your reading life, because the more contemporary things you read, the more they’ll be based on the classics (of whatever literary tradition you’re consuming) and reading it in the “wrong order” will not be as enjoyable.

So, as an adult I made peace with never having read Austen, and satisfied myself with watching screen adaptations of her work (in the last five years I’ve watched both the mini-series with Colin Firth and the movie with Keira Knightley). But then, as detailed above, the pandemic happened, and I guess the world changing changed something in me as well, hah.


(3)
I grew up in between several countries where English was a foreign language, and the literary canon didn’t shun Austen but also didn’t necessarily consider her essential. I never studied Austen at school, my parents had a fairly large library and a passionate commitment to books and still we never had a copy of her work at home, and I don’t even remember encountering her at my small school library.

It’s important for me to establish this because I think a lot of my internet friends think of me as a native English speaker – I’m really not, I speak very little English in my daily life and neither my formal education nor my work experience has ever been primarily conducted in English – and there’s a different weight to not reading Austen if you’re from the Anglosphere.
So, to clear up any misunderstandings, I am very much A Foreigner 🙂

 

Wait, so you know what happens in P&P, right?

I do! From the filmed adaptations. I’m looking forward to discovering what’s actually on the page.

 

What are your reading plans?

I’m not sure! I’m not a very fast reader, so this will for sure take a while, and I’m not planning to write up my thoughts at any regular intervals, but whenever I have the time and inclination.

 

Okay, I want to follow this journey!

Yay! Probably the best way to do that is to either follow this blog (if that’s a thing one can still do?) or follow me on Twitter where I’ll be posting about it occasionally.

Book review: “The Drowning Eyes” by Emily Foster

thedrowningeyes-313x500

It’s been a busy couple of months, friends. Between posting Three Keys in the Desert in June, submitting a thesis draft in July, attending Nine Worlds in August (\o/ STILL TO WRITE A POST ABOUT THAT!) and now going abroad again in a week, it’s been.. a lot. A lot of really great things! But a lot nonetheless.

Which is why I’m especially pleased that I managed to squeeze in reading Emily Foster’s “The Drowning Eyes”, a novella I’d been wanting to get my hands on for a while, and review it for Strange Horizons.

Emily Foster’s debut novella is everything I like about modern fantasy. The world it builds is not a fictional Europe or a fictional North America; instead it’s set in a tropical climate, in the middle of an ocean, with many small islands dependent on the weather for trade and survival. The characters are a seafaring crew who don’t shy away from illegal work, people from the margins whose life philosophy is that money and happiness should be grabbed wherever they happen to be found. The cast is ethnically diverse and most of the action is centered on women, including older women, who occupy positions of authority within the small world a story of this length allows. All of this is refreshing and a pleasure to read and the reason I was excited to pick up the book in the first place.

And yet, as much as I wanted to fall in love with The Drowning Eyes, as much as I liked its setting and magical elements, as much I enjoyed its characters individually, there were a few structural problems that stood in the way of the book having true momentum. It’s not that the story isn’t enjoyable; it’s just that, considering its premise, it comes across as a little underwhelming.

Read the full review at Strange Horizons >>

 

You can now buy a book with a story by me in it!

51le-xafxfl-_sx331_bo1204203200_My short story “Life and Death in the Frozen City” has now been published in a real book that you can really buy!

The story is about a traveler who has to survive on an occupied planet where gender is binary and It’s part of FUTURISTICA 1, an anthology of really great scifi stories I still can’t believe I’ve really been included in.

It’s especially “wait, is this really happening?” for me because “Life and Death in the Frozen City” was the first original short story I ever wrote, about 7-8 years ago, and the version in my final draft from that time is almost identical to the one in the book. I’m a very different writer these days, but I still love that story, and am so, so happy to be able to share it with people at last.

You can get FUTURISTICA on Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo and Barnes & Noble.

And of course, if you do end up picking it up, please consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads. (As a reviewer I am… ridiculously excited about the possibility of there being reviews of something I wrote.)

Review of “Sorcerer to the Crown” by Zen Cho

25855734I recently wrote a review of Zen Cho’s excellent debut novel “Sorcerer to the Crown”, for Strange Horizons.

“Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown is set in nineteenth-century London, where magical resources are scarce and only men of a certain standing are encouraged to practice sorcery. It tells the story of Zacharias Whyte, protĂ©gĂ© of England’s premier magician, and Prunella Gentleman, the prodigy who can restore English magic to its former glory. Both essentially orphaned as babies, Zacharias and Prunella have grown up as outsiders in their home culture, and have had to navigate a social landscape that doesn’t quite know what to do with them. Zacharias was born to enslaved parents and purchased as an infant by the wealthy Englishman who would raise him as his son, and Prunella is the daughter of a British officer who came back from India with a daughter of mixed heritage and a bag of mysterious magical objects.”

Read the rest of the review at Strange Horizons >>

Review of “What Makes This Book So Great” by Jo Walton

9780765331939_p0_v1_s260x420Jo Walton’s What Makes This Book So Great is a collection of essays, originally published as blog posts on Tor.com. Familiar with Walton’s fiction, I was drawn to review her collection of non-fiction essays partially because of what I’d heard of Walton’s reading habits and what she herself reveals at the beginning of the book—Walton chooses what books to read the way some people choose which ingredients to cook with, relying on a mix of old, trusted favorites and exciting, untested novelties.

Read the full review on Strange Horizons >>

Review of “iD” by Madeline Ashby

id-144dpiAshby’s second novel, a sequel to her first, is engaging and better written than her debut, but it doesn’t address many of the flaws of the original. Ashby’s novels are set in a universe where humanity has created human-like robots, called “vN,” designed to carry out the tasks that human beings are no longer interested in undertaking. The technology was originally developed by New Eden, a cult that ostensibly wanted to create companions for all the sinners who would be left on Earth after Judgment Day.

Read the full review at The Los Angeles Review of Books >>

Review of “vN” by Madeline Ashby

13033939Madeline Ashby’s vN chronicles the life of Amy, a sentient vN-model robot born into a mixed robot-human family. Amy’s human father has slowed her rate of growth to that of a human child, in hopes of integrating her seamlessly into human society, but when Amy turns five her maternal grandmother, Portia (who is a perfect copy of Amy and her mother), shows up and tries to steal Amy away.

Read the full review at Strange Horizons >>

Review of “Never at Home” by L. Timmel Ducamp

51vxdgi-cal-_sx314_bo1204203200_“Never at Home” is a collection of seven short stories which range from fantasy to science fiction, some taking place in mundane, contemporary settings and some having to do with intergalactic wars and alien species. The stories all feature female protagonists and deal with questions of human nature, morality, and the price one pays for interacting with the fantastical. However, the tone, pacing, and quality of the stories vary greatly. Some stories sparkle off the page while most drag on and seem to arrive nowhere.

Read the full review at Strange Horizons >>

Review of “Corvus” by Paul Kearney

"Corvus" by Paul Kearney

“Corvus” by Paul Kearney

Corvus is set in a fictional world heavily influenced by Ancient Greece and follows the rise to power of a character loosely based on Alexander the Great. It follows the author’s previous novel, The Ten Thousand (2008), and although each novel is a self contained story, the two books share a protagonist.

Read the full review at Strange Horizons >>