Among Others by Jo Walton – Book Review

Among Others by Jo Walton
Published by Tor Books, an imprint of MacMillan

Once upon a time, Morwenna – known as Mori – did magic. She and her twin sister Mor played with fairies and closed down factories by simply each throwing a flower into a pond. Now Mori alone is in England with her all-but-unknown father and his three spinster sisters who, unsure of what to do with her, send her to a local boarding school. Here she doesn’t know anyone, and the fairies barely speak to her, it is not like Wales at all. Her loneliness is more than just being in a place without friends, though, it is also the memory of what she left behind, and what she will never quite be able to recover.

Among Others is an incredibly engaging book. What is perhaps most interesting, is the confluence of science fiction and fantasy. With Mori’s belief in her ability to do magic and her discussions with fairies, the story itself is absolutely fantasy – or, also plausibly, Mori’s disturbed childhood has caused her to live in a fantasy world, and she is an unreliable narrator of the things happening around her – but much of what informs her daily life is her love of science fiction novels.

Fans of classic science fiction – Among Others is set in the 1970s – will particularly enjoy Mori’s thoughts about what she is reading, and the scenes set in her science fiction book club at the library. The truly magical thing about Among Others, though, is the fact that Walton manages to so thoroughly infuse her book with science fiction without alienating those readers who don’t have much familiarity with the genre (and I would know, considering my experience with classic science fiction is limited to a single Heinlein novel read in high school).

Among Others is a lovely, complex coming of age novel, and one that I highly recommend.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Library.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Embassytown by China Mieville – Thoughts

Embassytown by China Mieville
Published by Del Ray, an imprint of Random House

I struggled with Embassytown when reading, and I’ve struggled over the past months thinking about it for a review. In lieu of a formal review, I am simply going to add a few of the thoughts that linger after all this time. For some context, here is the description from Indiebound:

In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak.

Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, has returned to Embassytown after years of deep-space adventure. She cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language.

When distant political machinations deliver a new ambassador to Arieka, the fragile equilibrium between humans and aliens is violently upset. Catastrophe looms, and Avice is torn between competing loyalties—to a husband she no longer loves, to a system she no longer trusts, and to her place in a language she cannot speak yet speaks through her.

  • The linguistics pieces were very interesting, perhaps the most intriguing part of the story. The interplay of language and truth, inability of the Ariekei to lie, or even express abstract concepts unless they had previously been made concrete was consistently interesting.
  • The descriptions of the more science fiction elements of the story, such as the complexities of space travel, the interstellar political systems, and the systems that kept humans alive on the Ariekei world fell flat for me. They seemed neither interesting, nor well enough explained. I am not sure if Mieville has other works set in this universe in which these things are better explained, but it didn’t work for me here.
  • I found Avice to be a thoroughly uninteresting and unsympathetic character. I didn’t care who she was with or what she did, and the rest of the plot was not compelling enough counteract that.
  • My other two experiences with Mieville have both been in audio, narrated by John Lee. I think that audio might be the best way for me to experience Mieville, because talented narrators like John Lee carry me on past these pieces that would otherwise bog me down.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: personal copy.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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Addicting Series – The Results

On Tuesday I asked you all to recommend some addicting series, and boy did you come through! By Thursday afternoon we had 49 comments (including a few replies of mine) for a total of 48 series recommendations. The most-mentioned series by far was “Outlander” which I am reading now, with seven mentions, followed by a handful of series which were mentioned 4 times. Apologies if any are mis-cataloged here, but I was going off either what people said or a very cursory Google search. Historical mysteries are listed with historical fiction. Without further ado, here they are:

Mystery/Crime fiction

  • M.C. Beaton – Hamish Macbeth series
  • Lee Child – Jack Reacher series (2 mentions)
  • Arthur Conan Doyle – Sherlock Holmes
  • Janet Evanovich – Stephanie Plum series (2 mentions)
  • Tess Gerritsen – Rizzoli and Isles
  • Sue Grafton – Kinsey Milhone series (2 mentions)
  • Martha Grimes – Richard Jury series
  • Charlaine Harris – Harper Connelly series
  • Arnaldur Indridason – Reykjavik murder mystery series
  • P.D. James – Adam Digliesh series
  • Faye Kellerman – Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus (2 mentions)
  • Laurie R. King – Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series
  • Stieg Larsson – The Millennium Trilogy
  • Jeff Lindsay – Dexter series
  • J.D. Robb – Eve Dallas/In Death series (2 mentions)
  • Dorothy L. Sayers – Lord Peter Wimsey series (3 mentions)
  • Alexander McCall Smith – Number 1 Ladies’ Detectives Agency series
  • Jacqueline Winspear – Maisie Dobbs series (2 mentions)

Historical Fiction

  • Sarah Donati – Into the Wilderness series
  • Ariana Franklin – Mistress of the Art of Death mystery series
  • Margaret Frazer – Sister Frevisse mystery series
  • Diana Gabaldon – Outlander series (7 mentions)
  • Sandra Gulland – Josephine trilogy
  • Patrick O’Brian – Jack Aubrey series (3 mentions)
  • Ellis Peters – Brother Cadfael mystery series (2 mentions)
  • Deanna Raybourn – Lady Julia Grey mystery series (2 mentions)
  • Penny Vincenzi – No Angel

Speculative Fiction: Dystopian/Science Fiction/Paranormal/Fantasy

  • Ilona Andrews – Kate Daniels series
  • Libba Bray – The Gemma Doyle series (YA)
  • Patricia Briggs – Mercedes Thompson series
  • Jim Butcher – Harry Dresden series (4 mentions)
  • Cassandra Clare – Mortal Instruments series (YA)
  • Jasper Fforde – Thursday Next series
  • Jeaniene Frost – Night Huntress series
  • Charlaine Harris – Sookie Stackhouse series (4 mentions)
  • Kim Harrison – The Hollows series
  • Robert Jordan – Wheel of Time series (2 mentions)
  • Stephen King – The Dark Tower series
  • John Marsdon – Tomorrow series (YA, 4 mentions)
  • George R.R. Martins – A Song of Fire and Ice
  • Lisa McMann – Wake series
  • Karen Marie Moning – MacKayla Lane series (3 mentions)

General/Christian Fiction

  • Jan Karon – The Mitford Years series
  • Sophie Kinsella – Shopaholic series
  • Debbie Macomber – Cedar Cove series
  • Brendan O’Carroll – The Mammy series
  • Francine Rivers – The Mark of the Lion trilogy
  • Ann B. Ross – Miss Julia (Christian fiction)