the Little Red Reviewer

Another Five Books, 50 pages

Posted on: April 9, 2017

It’s time for another installment of five books 50 pages!  This is where I grab 5 books that I’m kinda sorta intrigued by reading just the first 50 or so pages.  The goal is that hopefully at least two will really stand out as something I want to keep reading. I’m going into these books knowing barely anything beyond them other than the back cover blurb. But I have high hopes! Last time I did five books 50 pages I discovered a book that ended up being one of my top reads for 2016.

The contestants this week are:

Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

Nine Fox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Cold Iron by Stina Leicht

Dear Sweet Filthy World by Caitlin R. Kiernan

What was YAY,  what was NAY, and what was MEH. Let’s find out!

Luna:New Moon by Ian McDonald. This book came out last year, and already has a sequel out. It’s the April book for my local book club.  We’ve been on the Moon for a few generations now, people go there because there are job opportunities. The businesses are run by 5 dynastic families, who have made alliances through marriage, backstab each other, etc. There seems to be something really cool going on with marriage contracts.  Main characters in the beginning are Adriana Corta who is the leader of one of these dynastic families, and her grandson Lucasinho.   50 pages in and the story feels like Game of Thrones landed on an already sexed up Space Opera. You know, this book might be really good. Might.  But 50 pages in the story and characters didn’t grab me.

Will I continue reading?  Jury is out until April book club meeting. If folks say the novel gets really good later, I’ll go back to it.

 

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson –  Everyone says this book is awesome, so I figured I’d give it a shot.  Tons of fantasy tropes right out of the gate – abusive feudal lords, enslaved people, someone who wants to start a rebellion, etc. When we get to the city there are more fantasy tropes – thieves and the lone female thief among them who has no idea she has magical powers, creepy as fuck royal interrogators, threats of being sold into prostitution, and someone who isn’t who he seems who is going to pull thief girl out of the streets and show her how to use her powers. Tropey, but I like the magic system, it’s based on minerals and metals that you ingest.  I like that the magic is connected to the environment and what the magic user has available.  Also, did I mention the creeptastic interrogators?

Will I continue reading?  I’ve put it down for now.  Not sure if I’ll go back to it. First 50 pages felt weighed down by the standard fantasy tropes.

 

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee – I’m a terrible person. I bought this book because I fell in love with the cover art. It’s also a pretty damn fun book so far.  Opens with a huge action scene which feels very thrown into the deep end. Lots of jargon that doesn’t mean anything to me yet. No clue what the phrase “calendrical mathematics” means, but I sure do like the shape and taste of those words.  Lots of very cool animal, bird, and insect signifiers, they  are sort of like a coat of arms but have more contextual meaning.   The prose feels very musical, the prose style and story telling style feels a little like a mash-up of Seth Dickinson and Benjanun Sriduangkaew.  I made the mistake of reading Ninefox Gambit just a few pages at a time here and there and that didn’t work for the way my brain works. When I pick this up again to finish it, I’ll be sure to read it in large chunks.

Will I continue reading? Absolutely!

 

Cold Iron by Stina Leicht – I bought this book shortly after it was published, and was immediately intimidated by it’s door-stopper-ness.  Even worse, every time I looked at the cover I thought to myself “military fantasy. Bleh”.  But? Stina Leicht, and everything I’ve read of hers, I’ve loved. Five books 50 pages was the perfect time to pick up this book, because I was only committing to 50 pages, not what appeared to be 900 (and ends up is only about 600. Super thick high quality paper!).  I was hooked in the first chapter, which, as this is a Leicht, I should have expected.  An epic fantasy of sorts, twin heirs Suvi and Nels are protecting their kingdom from power-hungry family members, invaders, and who know what else. The invaders fight with muskets and disease, and when was the last time you read a fantasy novel that included vast discussions of innoculations and biology? Nels is broody, his personal bodyguard/spy/assassin Viktor is snarky AF, I want to join up with the Waterborne, and Leicht has already written the sequel.  As she always does, Leicht writes characters you immediately become invested in.  Cold Iron is some solid awesome.

Will I continue reading?  As of the writing of this post, I’m nearly halfway through the book. By the time this post publishes I’ll probably be nearly done. This book is freakin’ awesome.

 
Dear Sweet Filthy World by Caitlin R. Kiernan – This is Kiernan’s 14th collection of short fiction. Reading her work reminded me of being an undergraduate art student. We received a small amount of class credit for attending the MFA Art shows that were on campus. My response to the vast majority of those art shows was “I don’t get it”. It could have been the context, it could have been those particular MFA students, it could have been that I was a dumb college kid. I was vividly reminded of that time in my life while reading the first 3 stories in this collection: I just didn’t get it. This collection is not the MFA show for me, I didn’t even make it 50 pages in.  But, take this in context: I also usually fail spectacularly at understanding and enjoying poetry, and there is lots of beautiful poetry out there.  Just because I bounced off of this collection pretty hard doesn’t mean others won’t enjoy it.

Will I continue reading? Nope.

In the end:

Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald – meh

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson – meh

Nine Fox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee – Yay!

Cold Iron by Stina Leicht – Super Yay!

Dear Sweet Filthy World by Caitlin R. Kiernan – nay

 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

The books I meh’d  – should I go back to them another time?

 

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20 Responses to "Another Five Books, 50 pages"

I read Luna: New Moon when it first came out and I really enjoyed it. There are a lot of characters and I struggled to keep them all straight. For that reason I decided to reread it before reading the new book and I finished it a few days ago. I completely enjoyed it again. You should definitely at least try another 50 pages and see what you think

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A personal failing of mine is that I struggle with books that have lots of characters to keep track of. That list of character names and such at the beginning intimidated me!

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Well, if you ever do decide to re-visit Sanderson, you’ll have a huge backlog of books to work through 🙂

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I know! he has a million books out there!! The Emperor’s Soul was my first Sanderson, and I liked that one a lot.

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Sanderson writes faster than I read.

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Super Yay to Nine Fox Gambit for me!

The Mistborn book is a weird one. I am not a huge Sanderson fan but the first Mistborn book was one I enjoyed quite a bit. Despised the rest of the series and I am completely meh about the rest of his work but that one book worked pretty well for me.

I like this idea, cool way to weed out a few reads. Not sure I could do it though, usually by 50 pages in my ‘i must know the whole story’ gene kicks in unless it is truly dreadful.

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If by page 50, your “I must know the whole story!” gene kicks in, then you’ve got a YAY on your hands! And sometimes a novel is great, I’m just not in the mood for that kind of thing, which is what might be going on with the Sanderson. Funny, the Sanderson is fantasy, and the Leicht is fantasy, and I was meh on the Sanderson and fell in love with the Leicht.

Sanderson – I read The Emperor’s Soul and liked it, read Elantris and it was OK.

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I love this idea, especially if you just don’t know what to read next. I haven’t read any of these, but now Nine Fox Gambit and Cold Iron are contenders:-)

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I think you will enjoy both of those a lot! I was thrilled at fast I was able to zip through Cold Iron. it looks like a doorstopper, but the characters are incredible and the pacing is excellent.

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Five books, fifty pages is one of my favorite games to play. These posts are always so fun.

I thought it was interesting that you were put off by a 600 page book. I assumed you’d be all like, “More words! Yay!” But not so! I’m the same way. I love fictional worlds, but I like my books lean.The transition to ebooks was good for me, because it allowed me to try some doorstoppers (Wool, 11/22/63, etc) without knowing how big they were.

Ninefox Gambit sounds cool. I love books that start in medias res, trusting the reader to catch up to a story that’s already in progress.

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I used to LOVE big fatty mcfat books. the more pages THE BETTER. I’d eat 900 words for breakfast!! but these days, I’m more in the camp of life is short, show me you can give me more than just 900+ pages of words that are just sitting there. I blame it on a combination of having fewer chunks of uninterrupted reading time, having gotten bogged down in a particular doorstopper that I thought I was really going to enjoy and didn’t, and getting into short fiction in the last few years. I’ve really seen the artwork that can be completed in five to fifteen thousand words, so I’ve become less enamored with the idea that more is more.

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I know the feeling life and kids(for me) I tell ya. I am trying to get through 1984. I am loving the book…I never read it in HS like many ppl did.

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I didn’t read 1984 in high school either, came to it much later, which was probably a good thing for me.

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I read Mistborn and liked it. I’ve also read Sanderson’s The Way of Kings and super liked it. His writing is agreeable to me. But, like you, reading large tomes has gone to the wayside (for now)…my life is way too busy and my attention span has decreased. Sooo….Words of Radiance sits on my bookshelf.

When I saw your book photo in this post, my eyes were immediately attracted to Cold Iron. Based on the cover alone, I chose that book as the one I would read from your pile. I became super psyched when I read that you think it is freakin awesome. Whew! I am going to see if I can get my hands on that book.

These type of posts are super fun to read. 🙂

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and i was super nervous about Cold Iron *because* of the cover art! I was worried it was going to be straight up military fantasy, and nope that’s not what it is, or at least not really. 😀

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I listened to am interview today with Yoon Ha Lee and wondering if you read that yet!

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I really like these 5/50 posts. A lot. They are fun, informative, insightful.

First, let me say those fantasy tropes exist because they’re the standard basic elements. I happen to like fantasy which uses them, if well written, because that kind of fantasy is fun, and it reminds me of some of the favorites I read when I was getting into the genre, such as the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser stories by Fritz Leiber. Fantasy doesn’t have to be different, if it’s good, and generally Sanderson is good.

I read a short story by Yoon Ha Lee and didn’t like it at all. Based on that alone I’d have skipped Nine Fox Gambit, though I see it has been nominated for a Hugo. But you gave it a Yay, so I may at some point see if the library has it. I’ll wait on zcold Iron, it looks like a book I’ll be able to get cheap on PaperbackBookswap.

Oh and those works by the MFA art students? I was one of those, and no one “got” my oil paintings. Neither did I, they were a mess.

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I run hot and cold with fantasy tropes. Sometimes I really like them, sometimes they annoy me, sometimes it has to do with the quality of the writing, sometimes it’s the mood I’m in. I may go back to the Sanderson and some point, I’m not sure.

Ninefox Gambit is written with a lot of really weird prose, and I have a feeling people will either really like the weirdness, or really be turned off by it. If you didn’t care for the Lee short story you read, don’t waste your time on the novel.

At least your paintings got shown! mine were so terrible they never got picked to be displayed. they only thing I gained from all those art classes was a love for wearing all black.

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I like the idea of a 50 pages commitment versus the entire book. Sometimes it’s hard to tell how long an e-book is but you can definitely check the percentage. 50 pages should give you a good enough idea of what’s going on, if the characters’ stories interest you long-term.

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[…] but that’s another post entirely! This post is about how I was inspired by my friend The Little Red Reviewer to select five books from my TBR Pile, read the first fifty pages, and decide if I want to […]

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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