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[personal profile] laleia
Wow, I haven't updated in ages ... I promise, I still read my flist religiously, I guess I'm just too lurker-y to actually comment most of the time, and don't have interesting enough things to say to post ...

However, that has changed! Recently I have read a lot, because I have had much time on my hands and also a library card for checking out physical books and sneakily TWO library cards for checking out ebooks.

Most of what I have read is a large quantity of mediocre-to-terrible romance novels. I started following Victoria Dahl on tumblr, and because she is interesting, I checked out everything she has at my local library. I was quickly reminded of the fact that I cannot abide contemporary romance novels. I like historical romance novels (and paranormal/fantasy romances, for much the same reason) because the romantic leads face obstacles to their romance that I have find believably insurmountable. Contemporary romance novels, on the other hand - generally speaking, most of the leads' problems would be solved if they just talked to each other and/or stopped making stupid decision, so I have less patience for them. Which is to say that I enjoyed Victoria Dahl's historical romances (though not as much as Courtney Milan's), but my library mostly only had her contemporaries, which were not my cup of tea.

I also completely caught up on Michelle Sagara West's Chronicles of Elantra series, and have determined that as usual, I OTP Kaylin/Severn, I despise Nightshade (if Kaylin ends up with Nightshade in a later book I may very well throw the book against the wall and never pick up the series again), and I am pleasantly surprised by the increasing numbers of female/female friendships and conversations. The books have the same flaws as they do in earlier books (I'm not a huge fan of the hyperbolic literalisms in the writing; I made up that term just now and am not certain that it's a real thing but basically I'm a bit tired of "Kaylin was afraid Sergeant Marcus would rip her throat out because he's a Leontine and Leontines often do that; no really"), but they also have the same strengths as they do in earlier books (I love Kaylin, I like Severn, and even if the plots never make any sense to me, they keep me on the edge of my seat and satisfy my id and that is all I ask of a book).

As a side note: I'm 99% sure that Kaylin is supposed to be a woman of color. I'm not good at picking up race cues from books, so I base this in large part on the fact that the woman on the cover of the Elantra books doesn't look white to me. I think there might also be textual evidence as well; I may look for this on a later reread.

And now, finally! An actual review!

I finished reading Tamora Pierce's newest book, Battle Magic, today!

I've had this from the library for a week, and only just now got around to reading it. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would (since I pretty much guessed in advance that depressing things would happen as it is a book about war), and it even makes me to reread Melting Stones, just a little bit! And I hated Melting Stones, through no fault of the book itself, but just because at the time it was only available as an audiobook (as I think the audio version of that released first) and I have a lot of issues with listening to audio-only things. I get too bored without something to do with my eyes, and/or occupy the rest of my brain or something, and I end up zoning out.

It did bother methat the Yanjing language was Chinese pinyin 99% of the time, but then was slightly off 1% of the time. It's a few specific names/terms that bother me: the "jui" in Jia Jui's name, the "rin" and "zhian" in Weishu Maorin Guangong Zhian. There are no equivalent phonemes in Chinese, unless they're an anglicized transcription of zhui, ren, and jian respectively. And Tamora Pierce didn't have anglicized transcriptions anywhere else that I noticed.

It's just a tiny thing; Gyongxin/Chammuri clearly weren't based on (Mandarin) Chinese so it didn't bother me, but because Yanjingyi reads as Chinese 99% of the time, the remaining 1% stood out to me when I came across it. Oh, also, there was zayao as gunpowder when zhayao is Chinese for dynamite. ("Zhayao" is pronounced as "zayao" in parts of China but even when it's pronounced that way, it's still transcribed as "zhayao" in pinyin.)

I thought it was funny when Briar observed that Rosethorn and Evvy were bothered by even the possibility of listening bugs/spells placed on them by the Yanjing Emperor, in light of Aly's bloblings (I forget their actual name) that basically permanently surveil the population of the Copper Isles. I also found it amusing that there was a very literal deus ex machina.

I also wasn't really bothered when the Emperor burned down the rose garden. Tamora Pierce already tries to get me to empathize with animals far more than I actually do (several Tortallan heroines value animals' lives as much as humans'; I understand that Daine can communicate with animals and so they are sentient to her, and valuable to her, but I'm never personally going to consider an animal's life equal to a human's so the Daine books could only ever evoke so much emotion from me), but the stretch to get me to empathize with dying plants was unsuccessful. It's not that I think she is trying to convey the idea that plants are worth human lives; it's clear that it's just because Rosethorn ad Briar have plant magic and can communicate with them (Evvy is similarly portrayed as unreasonable about "harming" stones because she can sense their sentience), but nevertheless, I felt like the burning of the rosebushes was supposed to be yet another sign that the Emperor was ~secretly evil~ when really it just made me roll my eyes. (Really, Rosethorn? You're going to ask the Emperor for a huge favor when incurring his attention is not a good idea, all of the continued survival of a rosebush?)

Because I was spoiled for the fact that Evvy's cats die, when she and Rosethorn were having the argument about whether they would bring the cats with them, I kept on wondering why Rosethorn didn't just make it clear that they were going on a dangerous trip where there was a high likelihood of dying, which meant that Evvy was risking her cats' lives when they'd be safe going on to Emelan first. Of course, unlike me, they hadn't read Will of the Empress yet so the danger to them was probably more theoretical and didn't feel as imminent.

In fact, I felt like the insistence on bring her cats plus Evvy's attempt to free Parahan were both very ... it was evident that she didn't fully comprehend how much death she was risking. I'm glad that Parahan was free, and the narrative clearly condoned the action, but I still feel like Briar could have done a better idea of conveying to Evvy that her doing this could mean he, she, and Rosethorn all be put to death the very next day. At the very least, there are probably any number of guards that were executed for letting Parahan escape.

Last thought - when the guards were talking about killing whoever harbored Parahan to within three degrees of kinship, I laughed, since that's one of the few phrase I know how to say in Chinese because I watch way too many historical Chinese dramas.

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