firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
[personal profile] firecat
Let's see if I can revive this habit.
There might be spoilers in the comments.

Nisi Shawl, Everfair
Steampunk alternative history of the Congo Free State. The story is told through the eyes of a couple of dozen viewpoint characters. I'm glad I read this but I found it a bit dissatisfying. I was going to say simply that I felt unqualified to appreciate it (and I still think that's somewhat true, because I don't read much alternate history), but a few other reviews discussed the same issues, so I decided to review it after all. I loved reading a book based on the history of a part of Africa and something I had never studied or known about. I think it's a great contribution to the steampunk genre. I liked the diversity of the characters—not only ethnic diversity but also diversity in terms of the work they did (it's not a book where everyone is an aristocrat), their viewpoints, their religions, their relationships. I liked that it was not just a book about war and government but that the characters led their everyday lives and thought their everyday thoughts alongside the work they were doing to build a nation. But I think I would have liked the book better if it were twice as long (and therefore twice as detailed) or a series of books. Often I felt like I was reading a sketchy outline, or maybe more as if I were walking in and out of a room while a show was playing on TV and so I was seeing some scenes, enough to get the gist, but missing about half of it. I liked the steampunk inventions and the characters, but many of them didn't seem to get fully fleshed out. (Exceptions being King Mwenda, Josina, and Fwendi.) A character would crop up and I'd get a brief sense of what was in their head but then they'd disappear again. I felt the same way about the history that was being described. I've previously felt that Nisi Shawl was mostly a short story writer, and the sketchy style where you have to infer stuff works ok in a short story but I don't like it in a long novel.
Here are a few other reviews, which I encourage looking at if you're trying to decide whether to read the book.Audiobooks
Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races
Well narrated by Steve West & Fiona Hardingham. (I don't like books with double narrators because it bothers me when the same character has two different voices, depending on who viewpoint character is. But they did a good job because I was only distracted by it a few times.) YA fantasy based on humans racing something like the Celtic mythical water horse (Capaill Uisce). I liked the protagonists and most of the relationships felt nuanced. The villains were somewhat cardboard but they did have motives. I thought the ending felt wrong but that didn't spoil the book for me.

None this week

Agents of SHIELD was back with new episodes last week.

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: Just finished Season 2 (the DVD has some great extras; the one about the costuming was my favorite). Season 3 is not available on DVD from Netflix yet, and the OH doesn't like watching things via streaming, so we bought the DVD set of the first three seasons from

Nikita: Series from 2010–2013 starring Maggie Q, a sequel of sorts to the movie La Femme Nikita. We've watched about 5 episodes so far. It has a problem I've noticed with a number of American TV shows where I find it hard to tell some of the younger characters apart because the actors and actresses look too much alike (young, pretty/handsome, toned/buff, white).

The OA: Watched 2 episodes of this not-sure-what-genre-it-is-yet. Liked that it addressed the problems of second-generation immigrant kids. Someone told me there was problematic stuff later in the season.

Person of Interest: We're watching season 3 and have gotten past [massive spoiler]. Love the ensemble cast of this show and how it keeps adding new recurring characters.

Bridge to Another World: The Others: BigFishGames hidden object / puzzle story
The ABC Murders: Point-and-click-and-solve-puzzles game based on the Agatha Christie Poirot novel of the same name

Date: 19 Jan 2017 12:20 am (UTC)
feuervogel: (reading)
From: [personal profile] feuervogel
That's how I felt about Everfair, too. I liked the story she was telling, but it really felt like I was reading a history book rather than a novel.

Date: 19 Jan 2017 02:08 pm (UTC)
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
From: [personal profile] feuervogel
Hmm, yeah. It was a summary of events, which to me reads like a history book (a popular history book, as opposed to a college textbook). I didn't connect with the characters because they mostly didn't feel real.

Date: 19 Jan 2017 02:31 am (UTC)
eeyorerin: A Lego minifigure of a person wearing a penguin suit. (Default)
From: [personal profile] eeyorerin
I liked Bridge To Another World: Alice in Shadowland a lot. I wonder if it has the same viewpoint character?

Date: 19 Jan 2017 02:08 pm (UTC)
eeyorerin: A Lego minifigure of a person wearing a penguin suit. (Default)
From: [personal profile] eeyorerin
Hm. I think that is the same one. I'll have to try it. You might like Alice in Shadowland!

Date: 19 Jan 2017 05:01 am (UTC)
kshandra: The Burning Man effigy, lit in blue neon, arms by his sides; an orange half-moon is visible over his shoulder. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kshandra
Where did you find ABC Murders? I found three Poirot hidden-object games (and one Miss Marple) during my recent hyperfocus episode, but this sounds slightly different.

Date: 19 Jan 2017 06:03 am (UTC)
kshandra: figurine of a teddybear seated at an office desk, looking at a computer (ComputerBear)
From: [personal profile] kshandra
The Poirot stories are Dead Man's Folly, Death on the Nile, and Peril at End House; the Marple is 4:50 from Paddington. They were apparently released as a set on a long-out-of-print CDROM. Death on the Nile is available at; I confess I found all four as free downloads from varying sites of questionable legality.

Date: 19 Jan 2017 05:03 am (UTC)
serene: mailbox (Default)
From: [personal profile] serene
Oh, my, we're huge fans of Miss Fisher around here. LOVE her.

I stopped watching the OA after a while and just had [personal profile] stonebender tell me what happened. The combination of confusion and tension was too much for me to find it enjoyable.

Nisi's one of those authors I feel like I "should" have read but haven't. 'Course, that's a pretty long list.

Date: 19 Jan 2017 02:28 pm (UTC)
serene: mailbox (Default)
From: [personal profile] serene
Oh! I had forgotten reading (at least some of) Filter House. So never mind; I've read at least one of her stories. :-)


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firecat (attention machine in need of calibration)

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