Secret Tides of Rebel Librarians, and a powerup

Some recent books.

I re-read The Black Tides of Heaven (and then The Red Threads of Fortune) by J.Y. Yang, sparked by a Habitica challenge. I love the characters & their angsty drama, and the worldbuilding & politics and the magic/tech system.

Property of the Rebel Librarian by Allison Varnes. A fun book about a bookish middle schooler fighting oppression and censorship. The adults are so over the top, firing the librarian & throwing away most of the books in the library. Books are contraband! I enjoyed this and followed its shout outs to …

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd. Saw someone say that it is as good as The Secret Garden. It didn’t quite get there for me, but it is lovely — its heroine is a girl in a TB hospital for children out in the country in England during WWII. A depressing atmosphere of coughing, greyness, blustery winter, eating soup made from half-rotten onions. She sees winged horses in the mirrors, writing letters with the Horse Lord. Where it fell a little short for me is in her dealing with her trauma – and her actual changes of heart as well as everyone else’s. That, and if you can’t put a piece of paper colored with pencil out in the snow and rain how were the other things surviving? (Sometimes, I can’t help logicking the fantasy novels. Sorry.) It’s a good book.

A book I didn’t much like – Blue Collar Space. Old school feeling, along with the old school annoying gratuitious sexism to where there are theoretically equal women on the spaceships but somehow their agency is always undermined – they have to be rescued or are helpless or they do the thing by accident – they don’t quite achieve the asimovian squeal but it’s there…. absolutely maddening. Oh no wait, the one story with the teenage girl talking to her Daddy DID achieve it. I nearly forgot. Anyway, this book can bite me.

Currently in mid-read of Warcross by Marie Lu. Oh wow! This is the most ridiculous and indulgent book ever! Our heroine is an older teenager desperately trying to survive her first year out of “group homes” and deal with being in debt, about to be evicted. She is a badass hacker and bounty hunter of the world’s most popular game, Warcross, which EVERYONE PLAYS. Did I mention she has a skateboard and rainbow hair and a fabulous, meaningful, full sleeve tattoo?

I have just got to the bit where she has gotten off the private jet and is in a swanky hotel in Tokyo, freaking out at all the delicious room service food, and the comfy bed, and how the city is much more integrated with the Game – you level up constantly just while living your life, and the virtual overlay of people and buildings and the entire city is gorgeous – their pets, their levels and achievements, their weird outfits, virtual environments — Really makes me hark back to how people thought VR or AR was going to be.

I mentioned the skateboard? And how she wakes up in the hotel and puts on her only outfit which happens to be WHAT I WEAR ALL THE TIME ie a tshirt, ripped jeans, and a red flannel shirt. Thanks Marie Lu for gratifying my every desire in this weird dystopian future. Yes. More fantasy novels with soft hotel beds, a view of a glittering city, room service fried chicken that is better than anything you’ve ever eaten, and a pleasant “ding” indicating that you just leveled up.