I enjoyed "Gifts"; it's fashioned with care by a master craftsman. Those who have little time for Le Guin's later works (say, since "Tehanu") often deride them as "not as interesting or exciting" as her earlier works. I don't agree at all. It's just that she's older, wiser, and interested in telling different kinds of stories than when she was younger.
I like the post-Tehanu Le Guin. She's one of the few authors where I read and think "Good God, I wish I could write like that!" rather than the more common "Hmp. I could do that."
To be fair, I have no idea whether I could, in actual fact, write as well or better than most of the authors I have read in the past, but I certainly feel like I could. Where as the authors I really like give me the first of the two feelings: Borges, Le Guin, Vance, Wolfe, Crowley.
Gifts is a quiet tale about a young man's coming of age that touches on aspects of power, abuse, responsibility, self-discovery, the need to avoid delusion, the need to cope with loss, and other important things what teens should learn about. There was only one note in the whole book that rung a bit unfortunate to me (I was not entirely keen on the young man's reaction towards his father at the very end of the book, but it was, at least, understandable to me).
Please live long, Ms Le Guin. Please write more.
At some point I will read "Voices", the next book set in this new background of Le Guin's. It is available in hardcover, and I will likely read it when it arrives in trade paper back.
Next on the list of books I'm actively reading:
• "Storm Front" by Jim Butcher because I want to see what all the fuss is about. I'm not sure I'll finish it. So far it seems to be fairly standard, pedestrian, "cool magician solves supernatural crimes" kind of fare. Not necessarily "bad" you understand, but there are other things on my shelf that are looking at me askance and asking me "why aren't you reading me instead?"
• "The Darkness That Comes Before" by R. Scott Bakker. This is a re-read because the third book came out in December in mass-market, and I want to re-do the first, before heading further into the set.
• "Kingdom Of Shadows" by Alan Furst. Not exactly uplifting, but how could novels set in and around Paris during the height of the Age Of Fascism be uplifting? Fun so far, but not exactly tight. Furst's self-professed model is Eric Ambler, but Ambler was razor sharp in focus, and Furst is not.
• "The Goose Girl" by Shannon Hale. Another YA fantasy series; this one, based on Grimm's fairy tales. Pretty well written, so far.