• What are you currently reading?
I was a bit bogged down in multiple good but long-and-dense books so I asked for some fun/fast rec to get me out of a rut. A friend suggested the Bartimaeus trilogy, a middle grade (I think? I'm not very good at these categories) series by Jonathan Stroud, which turned out to be just the thing. Right now I'm in the middle of the second book, The Golem's Eye, which improves on the first book (which I quite enjoyed) by adding a smart, streetwise female protagonist to the mix (who is named Kitty but who I'm having fun picturing as Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones). The premise is a pretty severely AU version of modern England, where wizards run the government, by forcing djinn and other spirits to do their bidding. It feels like sort of a mashup of Harry Potter with Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, with a touch of modern dystopia, and one of the main POV characters is a djinni who has been summoned against his will and is not very happy about it. So this is a lot of fun as well as being very smart and subversive in an interesting way. (The first book in the series is The Amulet of Samarkand).
I've also started While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell, for my book club. This is a reimagining of Sleeping Beauty as a sort of historical romance (in the old fashioned sense, not the 'love story' sense of the term.) The narrator is a ladies' maid in the royal household and while the start is pretty grim (miserable childhood and plague and deaths in the family), the narrator has now made it to the royal court, and I'm enjoying it. I'm not sure how the fairy tale elements will be incorporated but I'm interested to find out.
Also, I bought a month's trial of the Marvel Unlimited app, which gives access to a lot of back issues and it doesn't work great on my laptop, but it's pretty good on my phone. So I've been scrolling around looking at various things, and have settled into the Lee/Kirby Captain America run (which starts in 1968 at issue 100 although issues 1-99 are NOT the cap solo title). So I'm not really READING these per se, but looking at the pages and reading the speech bubbles that look interesting (so far mostly when Steve talks to Fury or to Sharon; I mostly skip the dialogue on the villain-only pages altogether.) So I'm not sure which parts of this I'm going to cover but this is fun so far. If there are any back runs you think I should check out, let me know; there's a lot of stuff missing (like I was hoping for the issues I'm missing in the Simonson run on X-Factor, but no luck). Cap seems to be pretty well covered, though, which is nice.
• What did you recently finish reading?
As I mentioned above, The Amulet of Samarkand kept me entertained during my road trip last weekend.
On the other hand, I picked up Children of the Revolution by Peter Robinson and...you know when there's a series author whose work you remember enjoying 10 or 15 years ago, and then you happen on a description of his most recent book and think, "Oh that sounds interesting," and you pick it up even though you've missed the last 6 or 7 books in the series. Only now it's 2014, and the author is trying to act like he knows stuff about the Internet and having appallingly inaccurate and outdated views about sexual harassment on college campuses and you keep reading against your better judgment in the hopes that it will get better and...yeah, not so much. This book was really bad, and it mostly made me want to reread Reginald Hill, who covered a lot of the same ground (Yorkshire cops and what happens to campus radicals when they grow up, not inaccurate opinion about campus harasment, thank God; I can't even imagine what Ellie Pascoe would have to say about that) and did it with a lot more nuance and humanity.
• What do you think you’ll read next?
I'll try to get back to finishing some of those thick, complicated books (like Hild and A Stranger in Olondria). Plus I'm about ready to tackle Vanity Fair. And of course the third Bartimaeus book. And comic.