This Week, I Read… (#43)

108-river-of-stars

#108 – River of Stars, by Guy Gavriel Kay

  • Read: 10/12/16 – 10/15/16
  • Provenance: Owned (paperback)
  • Challenge: Mount TBR Challenge 2016 (1/12)
  • Rating: 5/5 stars

I saw this book on display at Barnes & Noble when it was first published, and I immediately wanted it. The cover’s so pretty, and it’s by one of my favorite authors–Kay acquired that status after I picked up an extremely battered copy of Tigana at a used book shop and fell in love.

The title made it onto my wish list, and I received it for Christmas last year. I only got around to reading it now that I’m trying to tackle some of the older books in my TBR. (This one was #2, behind another Kay book I don’t own.)

WHY DID IT TAKE ME SO LONG TO READ THIS?

Maybe because I read Under Heaven last year and wasn’t blown away by it. River of Stars takes place in the same setting, an alternate-history China, though hundreds of years later, and it was nice to recognize allusions to the events of the first book, but they were so slight this could easily be read as a standalone.

Anyway, time to sing some praises. The prose was slow-paced in the best possible way: stately, even dignified, as would be appropriate for a tale about political intrigue in the imperial court. But there was a wry (parenthetical) undertone that peeked out from time to time, as if a dark-humored narrator couldn’t help but be amused at the characters when they took themselves too seriously. I know it amused me!

I flew through this 600+ page novel in barely three days, it was so gripping. I highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction and fantasy.

109-beyond-control

#109 – Beyond Control, by Kit Rocha

  • Read: 10/15/16 – 10/16/16
  • Provenance: Owned (ebook)
  • Rating: 4/5 stars

For once, I like a romance-series sequel as much as I liked the first-in-series. It doesn’t happen often.

But the dystopian setting only gets better-developed as we watch the power-struggle-turned-love-story between the two leads, both strong alpha-type personalities. To say sparks fly is an understatement.

And the steamy bits continue to be extremely steamy. I’d fan myself with the book, except that doesn’t really work with a Kindle.

I look forward to reading the next title, which I intend to do soon.

110-disrupted

#110 – Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble, by Dan Lyons

  • Read: 10/16/16 – 10/17/16
  • Provenance: Borrowed from family
  • Rating: 2/5 stars

Okay, my feelings about this book are complicated and difficult to unpack, but I’ll try.

On the one hand, it’s fascinating, at times, getting a glimpse behind the curtain at what really goes on at (some of) these super-hyped tech start-ups. I learned an awful lot about the craziness behind venture capital investing, sales and marketing, and Silicon Valley tech culture.

On the other hand, I just got all that information in the form of a tell-all book by a man who often comes across in the narrative as a colossal jerk.

I’m sympathetic to him in many respects. I’ve experienced culture clash at jobs before. I’ve worked for abusive superiors. I’ve suffered microaggressions from my coworkers.

But then, sometimes it was hard to take his side. Those microaggressions he talked about? Ageism, for being fifty-something in a company full of twenty-somethings. Is that uncomfortable? I imagine it is. But how does that really stack up to the constant harassment I’ve faced for being a woman?¬† Lyons comes off as whiny, especially when he turns around and constantly takes jibes at his coworkers for their age-related lack of intelligence, because obviously young people are stupid, right?

I’d be thrilled if I had made it to fifty-something in the job market without dealing with microaggressions. Guess what? I lost that bet at my very first job, when I was seventeen and some customers at my restaurant tried to guess whether I was a virgin or not, when all I’d done was smile and ask “How can I help you?”

Sorry, dude, I’m not going to tear up because a few of your coworkers made cracks about your gray hair.

Lyons does step back from himself from time to time, acknowledging the company’s extreme lack of diversity and recognizing it for what it was–sanctioned discrimination: racism, sexism, and ageism under the hand-waving term “culture fit.” He derides the happy-go-lucky, bubblegum-and-rainbows attitude the company tried to promote, and that all the younger employees seem to live and breathe. And yes, since I’m more than a bit of a cynic, I’m with him there, I wouldn’t want to drink that Kool-Aid.

But again and again, he recognizes opportunities to leave the company, and again and again, he doesn’t take them, choosing to try to tough it out, even though he knows he’s not on board with how things are run. That makes it hard for me to swallow his constant sense of entitlement, that he deserves better than what the company is giving him, that he’s being asked to do a shit job that’s beneath him. Yeah, buddy, but it’s what they’re paying you to do, so either do it, or leave.

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