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souloftherose's 2018 reading - thread the second

This is a continuation of the topic souloftherose's 2018 reading - thread the first.

This topic was continued by souloftherose's 2018 reading - thread the third.

75 Books Challenge for 2018

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Mar 17, 8:51am Top

I’m Heather and this is my 9th(!) year in the 75 Book Challenge Group. I'm in my midthirties and live in a small town to the northwest of London in the United Kingdom with my husband and our rescue cat, Erica.

I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction (including children's/young adult books) as well as a good spattering of crime/historical/other fiction. A fair number of the books I read are older books - I particularly enjoy 18th and 19th century fiction, golden age detective novels and fiction from the first half of the 20th century. I read mainly for pleasure and relaxation/stress relief - I do occasionally try to take myself out of my comfort zone by reading contemporary literary fiction and I also started to read some books about the Bible (specifically the Hebrew Bible/Christian Old Testament) last year - so there will probably be a bit more of that although as the latter are not exactly light reading it takes me a while to get through them.

Last year I read 165 books - I don't have a specific target for this year other than the perpetual resolution to make a dent in the TBR piles.

Erica on the sofa (again). The quilt is one that my grandmother made,

Edited: Jul 10, 5:56am Top

Books read in January
#1 Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb (Reread)
#2 Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine (TBR)
#3 Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (TBR)
#4 Mockingbird, Vol 2: My Feminist Agenda by Chelsea Cain (Marvel Unlimited)
#5 God Stalk by P. C. Hodgell (TBR)
#6 The Hog's Back Mystery by Freeman Wills Croft (Amazon Prime)
#7 Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (Library)
#8 The Victorian Chaise-Longue by Marghanita Laski (TBR)
#9 The Semi-Attached Couple and the Semi-Detached House by Emily Eden (Free kindle)
#10 Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft by various authors (Free kindle)
#11 Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger (Reread)
#12 Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor (Reread)

Books read in February
#13 Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor (TBR)
#14 White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India by William Dalrymple (Library)
#15 Crooked House by Agatha Christie (Reread)
#16 The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary by Robert Alter (TBR)
DNF Star Wars, Vol. 1: Skywalker Strikes by Jason Aaron (Marvel Unlimited)
#17 The Absentee by Maria Edgeworth (Library)
#18 Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger (Reread)
#19 A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie (Reread)
#20 An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows (TBR)
#21 Memory of Water by Emma Ittaranta (Library)
#22 A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson (TBR)
#23 Dark of the Moon by P. C. Hodgell (TBR)
#24 Changing Planes by Ursula K. Le Guin (TBR)
#25 Unexpected Stories by Octavia E. Butler (Humble Bundle)
#26 Faith Unraveled: How a Girl Who Knew All The Answers Learned to Ask Questions by Rachel Held Evans (TBR)

Books read in March
#27 Mother of Winter by Barbara Hambly (TBR)
#28 Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan (Library)
#29 The Brimming Cup by Dorothy Canfield (TBR)
#30 Calamity by Brandon Sanderson (Library)
#31 Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Library)
#32 Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb (Omnibus)
#33 Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell (TBR)
#34 Peking Picnic by Ann Bridge (TBR)
#35 The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden (Library)
#36 Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger (Reread)
#37 Quick Curtain by Alan Melville (Library)
#38 Dreams Before the Start of Time by Anne Charnock (Amazon Prime)
#39 Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson (TBR)
#40 The Lady Vanishes by Ethel Lina White (TBR)
#41 Jenny Wren by E. H. Young (TBR)

Books read in April
#42 A Short History of Fantasy by Farah Mendlesohn and Peter James (TBR)
#43 The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard (TBR)
#44 The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard (Library)
#45 A Tyranny of Queens by Foz Meadows (TBR)
#46 River of Teeth by Foz Meadows (TBR)
#47 Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty (TBR)
#48 Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng (TBR)
#49 Civilisations: How Do We Look? / The Eye of Faith by Mary Beard (Library)
#50 Before Mars by Emma Newman (TBR)
#51 Camilla by Frances Burney (TBR)
#52 Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger (TBR)
#53 Mrs McGinty's Dead by Agatha Christie (Reread)

Books read in May
#54 The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (Library)
#55 Poison or Protect by Gail Carriger (TBR)
#56 All Systems Red by Martha Wells (Reread)
#57 Artificial Condition by Martha Wells (TBR)
#58 The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (Library)
#59 In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan (Library)
DNF Autonomous by Analee Newitz (Library)
#60 They Do It With Mirrors by Agatha Christie (Reread)
#61 Jane of Lantern Hill by L. M. Montgomery (TBR)
#62 Assassin's Quest by Robin Hobb (Reread)
#63 The Flowers of Vashnoi by Lois McMaster Bujold (TBR)
#64 The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter (TBR)

Books read in June
#65 Nemesis Games by James S. A. Corey (TBR)
#66 Ghost Ship by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (TBR)
#67 Lila by Marilynne Robinson (TBR)
#68 The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (TBR)
#69 New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Library)
#70 Seeker's Mask by P. C. Hodgell (Omnibus)
#71 How to Stop Time by Matt Haig (Library)
#72 The Black Tides of Heaven by J Y Yang (Hugo Voter's Packet)
#73 Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (TBR)
#74 Saga, Vol. 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Library)
#75 Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor (Library)
#76 Saga, Vol. 5 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Library)
#77 Summer in Orcus by T. Kingfisher (Hugo Voter's Packet)

Edited: Jun 23, 4:42am Top

Books acquired in 2018

#1 Golden Witchbreed by Mary Gentle (Kindle)
#2 Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (Kindle)
#3 Saplings by Noel Streatfeild (Paper))
#4 The Victorian Chaise-Longue (Paper)
#5 Binti: The Night Masquerade (Kindle)
#6 Frederica by Georgette Heyer (Kindle)
#7 The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer (Kindle)
#8 The God Stalker Chronicles by P. C. Hodgell (Kindle)
#9 Young Wizards New Millennium 9-Volume Box Set by Diane Duane (Kindle)
#10 A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson (Kindle)
#11 Faith Unravelled by Rachel Held Evans (Paper)
#12 Feast or Famine? by Ekklesia (Paper)
#13 Mother of Winter by Barbara Hambly (Kindle)
#14 The Macdermots of Ballycloran by Anthony Trollope (Paper
#15 Jesus and Judaism by E. P. Sanders (Paper
#16 The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley (Kindle)
#17 Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeanette Ng (Kindle)
#17 Camilla by Fanny Burney (Paper
#19 The Lady Vanishes by Ethel Lina White (Kindle)
#20 The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard (Kindle)
#21 Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty (Paper)
#22 A Tyranny of Queens by Foz Meadows (Kindle)
#23 River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey (Kindle)
#24 Before Mars by Emma Newman (Kindle)
#25 Between Two Worlds by Emma Newman (Kindle)
#26 City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett (Kindle)
#27 Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger (Kindle)
#28 Poison or Protect by Gail Carriger (Kindle)
#29 Artificial Condition by Martha Wells (Kindle)
#30 The Flowers of Vashnoi by Lois McMaster Bujold (Kindle)
#31 The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (Kindle)
#32 The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (Kindle)
#33 Ghost Ship by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (Kindle)
#34 Latchkey by Nicole Kornher-Stace (Paper
#35 Babylon's Ashes by James S. A. Corey (Paper
#36 Seeker's Bane by P. C. Hodgell (Kindle)
#37 Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (Paper
#38 Searching For Sunday by Rachel Held Evans (Paper
#39 Clockwork Boys by T. Kingfisher (Kindle)
#40 The Boy on the Bridge by M. R. Carey (Kindle)

Edited: Jun 23, 4:44am Top

An idea borrowed from Liz (lyzard), this lists ongoing series that I am actively reading. This doesn't include series where I have the first book in my TBR pile (i.e. series I haven't started reading yet aren't included). An asterisk indicates a series where I already have a copy of the next book and bold indicates an intention to finish the series soon(ish)...

Series I'm actively* reading (*for a rather lax definition of active)
*Albert Campion: Next up The China Governess by Margery Allingham (17/19)
Arbai trilogy Next up Raising the Stones by Sheri S. Tepper (2/3)
*Chronicles of the Kencyrath: Next up To Ride a Rathorn by P. C. Hodgell (4/8)
Dark Gifts: Next up Tarnished City by Vic James (2/3)
Darwath: Next up Icefalcon's Quest by Barbara Hambly (5/5)
*The Expanse: Next up Babylon's Ashes by James S. A. Corey (6/9)
Fables: Next up Fables, Vol. 16: Super Team by Bill Willingham (16/22)
The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire: Next up The Custodian of Marvels by Rod Duncan (3/3)
*Green Knowe: Next up: The River at Green Knowe by L. M. Boston (3/6)
Hainish Cycle: Next up The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin (6/8)
*Helliconia Trilogy: Next up Helliconia Winter by Brian Aldiss (3/3)
The Illuminae Files: Next up Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (2/3)
The Invisible Library: Next up The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman (2/8)
*Lady Trent's Memoirs: Next up Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan (5/5)
Liaden Universe Novels: Next up Dragon Ship by Shareon Lee & Steve Miller (15/21)
*The Long Earth: Next up The Long War by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (2/5)
Lumberjanes: Next up Lumberjanes Vol. 6: Sink or Swim by Shannon Watters (6/?)
Ms. Marvel 2015: Next up: Ms. Marvel, Vol. 7: Damage per Second by G. Willow Wilson (3/4)
Peter Grant: Next book The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch (6.5/7)
*Realm of the Elderlings: Next up Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb (4/16)
Rendall Sisters: Next up The Curate's Wife by E. H. Young (2/2)
Saga: Next up Saga, Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (4/7?)
*The Stormlight Archive: Next up Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
Witches of Lychford: Next book A Long Day in Lychford by Paul Cornell (3/3)
Wolves Chronicles: Next up The Witch of Clatteringshaws by Joan Aiken (11/11)

Series I've stalled on but want to get back to
The Adventures of Arabella Ashby: Next up Arabella and the Battle of Venus (2/3)
*Barsoom: Next up The Warlord of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (3/11)
Bas-Lag: Next up The Scar by China Mieville (2/3)
*Barsetshire Books by Angela Thirkell: (Reading out of order) Next up The Brandons (5/29 read)
*Dolphin Ring Cycle: Next up Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff (5/8)
Dragonslayer: Next up The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde (3/4)
*Ebenezer Gryce: Next up The Circular Study by Anna Katharine Green (9/13)
*Fionavar Tapestry: Next up The Darkest Road by Guy Gavriel Kay (3/3)
The Fractured Europe Sequence: Next up Europe at Midnight by Dave Hutchinson (2/3)
*The Girl Who: Next up The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente (3/5)
Hilary Tamar: Next up The Shortest Way to Hades by Sarah Caudwell (2/4)
Jimm Juree: Next up Grandad, There's a Head on the Beach by Colin Cotterill (2/2)
Les Voyages Extraordinaires: Next up From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne (4/54)
Luna: Next up Luna: Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald (2/3)
Maigret: Next up Maigret in Holland by Georges Simenon (7/76)
The Penderwicks: Next up The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall (2/4)
*Richard Hannay: Next up The Three Hostages by John Buchan (4/5)
*Roderick Alleyn: Next up Enter a Murderer by Ngaio Marsh (2/32)
Romantic Poets and Nephilim: Next up A Time to Cast Away Stones in The Bible Repairman and Other Stories by Tim Powers (2/3)
Ruth Galloway: Next up A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths (5/9)
Simon Schama's A History of Britain: Next up A History of Britain: The Wars of the British 1603-1776 by Simon Schama (2/3)
Dr. Siri Paiboun: Next up: Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill (5/10)
*Tales of a New Jerusalem: Next up Family Britain, 1951-57 by David Kynaston (2/5?)
*Turtle: Next up Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver (2/2)
Vlad Taltos: Next up Dragon by Steven Brust (8/14)
Young Pilots: Next up Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein (3/3)

Series I'm rereading
*Discworld: Tiffany Aching: Next up I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett (4/5)
*Chief Inspector Armand Gamache: Next up A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (7/11)
*Hercule Poirot: Next up: After the Funeral by Agatha Christie (29/39)
*Miss Marple: Next up A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie (6/12)
*Thursday Next: Next up The Woman Who Died a Lot by Jasper Fforde (7/7)

Up to date series
The Cinder Spires: Latest book The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher (1/?)
Craft Sequence: Chronological Order Latest book The Ruin of Angels by Max Gladstone (6/6)
Dominion of the Fallen: Latest book The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard (2/3?)
Empire of Masks: Next book The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson (1/?)
The Gentleman Bastard Sequence: Next up The Thorn of Emberlain by Scott Lynch (4/7?)
Gilead: Latest book Lila by Marilynne Robinson (3/4)
The Kingkiller Chronicle: Next up The Doors of Stone by Patrick Rothfuss (4/4)
Lady Helen: Latest book The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman (2/3)
Matthew Shardlake: Next book Tombland by C. J. Sansom (7/7)
Mistborn Latest book Mistborn: Secret History by Brandon Sanderson (7/8)
The Murderbot Diaries Next book Rogue Protocol (3/4)
Old Kingdom: Latest book Goldenhand by Garth Nix (5/5)
Penric & Desdemona - Publication Order: Latest book The Prisoner of Limnos by Lois McMaster Bujold (6/6)
Planetfall: Latest book Before Mars by Emma Newman (3/3)
Shades of Grey: Latest book Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde (1/3)
A Song of Ice and Fire: Latest book A Dance with Dragons by G. R. R. Martin (5/7?)
Sorcerer Royal: Latest book Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho (1/3)
The Sunbolt Chronicles: Latest book Memories of Ash by Intisar Khanani (2/3)
Vorkosigan Series: Latest book Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold (17/17)
Wayfarers: Nextbook Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (3/3)
Wayward Children: Latest book Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (3/5)
Winternight: Next book The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden (3/3)
Wolf Hall: Latest book Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (2/3)

Completed series
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (3/3)
Finishing School by Gail Carriger (4/4)
The Manifold Worlds by Foz Meadows (2/2)
Mockingbird by Chelsea Cain (2/2)
The Reckoners by Brandon Sanderson (4/4)

Edited: Jun 23, 4:45am Top

British Science Fiction Award (BSFA) 2017

Best Novel:

Winner: Nina Allan – The Rift (Titan Books)
Anne Charnock – Dreams Before the Start of Time (47North)
Mohsin Hamid – Exit West (Hamish Hamilton)
Ann Leckie – Provenance (Orbit)

Best Shorter Fiction

Winner: Anne Charnock – The Enclave (NewCon Press)
Elaine Cuyegkeng – These Constellations Will Be Yours (Strange Horizons)
Greg Egan – Uncanny Valley (Tor.com)
Geoff Nelder – Angular Size (in ‘SFerics 2017’ edited by Roz Clarke and Rosie Oliver, Createspace Independent Publishing Platform)
Tade Thompson – The Murders of Molly Southbourne (Tor.com)

Arthur C. Clarke award 2018

Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill
Dreams Before the Start of Time by Anne Charnock
American War by Omar El Akkad
Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kelfer
Gather the Daughters by Jennie Malamad
Borne by Jeff Vandermeer

Nebula award finalists 2017

Links to finalists works on the internet: http://file770.com/?p=40755


Amberlough, Lara Elena Donnelly (Tor)
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, Theodora Goss (Saga)
Spoonbenders, Daryl Gregory (Knopf; riverrun)
Winner: The Stone Sky, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Six Wakes, Mur Lafferty (Orbit US)
Jade City, Fonda Lee (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Autonomous, Annalee Newitz (Tor; Orbit UK 2018)


River of Teeth, Sarah Gailey (Tor.com Publishing)
Passing Strange, Ellen Klages (Tor.com Publishing)
“And Then There Were (N-One)”, Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny 3-4/17)
Barry’s Deal, Lawrence M. Schoen (NobleFusion Press)
Winner: All Systems Red, Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing)
The Black Tides of Heaven, JY Yang (Tor.com Publishing)


“Dirty Old Town”, Richard Bowes (F&SF 5-6/17)
“Weaponized Math”, Jonathan P. Brazee (The Expanding Universe, Vol. 3)
“Wind Will Rove”, Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s 9-10/17)
“A Series of Steaks”, Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Clarkesworld 1/17)
Winner: “A Human Stain”, Kelly Robson (Tor.com 1/4/17)
“Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time”, K.M. Szpara (Uncanny 5-6/17)

Short Story

“Fandom for Robots”, Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Uncanny 9-10/17)
Winner: “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™”, Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex 8/17)
“Utopia, LOL?”, Jamie Wahls (Strange Horizons 6/5/17)
“Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand”, Fran Wilde (Uncanny 9-10/17)
“The Last Novelist (or A Dead Lizard in the Yard)”, Matthew Kressel (Tor.com 3/15/17)
“Carnival Nine”, Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 5/11/17)

The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

Winner: Get Out (Written by Jordan Peele)
The Good Place: “Michael’s Gambit” (Written by Michael Schur)
Logan (Screenplay by Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green)
The Shape of Water (Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Written by Rian Johnson)
Wonder Woman (Screenplay by Allan Heinberg)

The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book

Exo, Fonda Lee (Scholastic Press)
Weave a Circle Round, Kari Maaren (Tor)
Winner: The Art of Starving, Sam J. Miller (HarperTeen)
Want, Cindy Pon (Simon Pulse)

Hugo award finalists 2018

Links to finalists works on the internet: http://file770.com/?cat=17

Best Novel

The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi (Tor)
New York 2140, by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
Provenance, by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
Raven Stratagem, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty (Orbit)
The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)

Best Novella

All Systems Red, by Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing)
“And Then There Were (N-One),” by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny, March/April 2017)
Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com Publishing)
The Black Tides of Heaven, by JY Yang (Tor.com Publishing)
Down Among the Sticks and Bones, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.Com Publishing)
River of Teeth, by Sarah Gailey (Tor.com Publishing)

Best Novelette

“Children of Thorns, Children of Water,” by Aliette de Bodard (Uncanny, July-August 2017)
“Extracurricular Activities,” by Yoon Ha Lee (Tor.com, February 15, 2017)
“The Secret Life of Bots,” by Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld, September 2017)
“A Series of Steaks,” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Clarkesworld, January 2017)
“Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time,” by K.M. Szpara (Uncanny, May/June 2017)
“Wind Will Rove,” by Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s, September/October 2017)

Best Short Story

“Carnival Nine,” by Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, May 2017)
“Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand,” by Fran Wilde (Uncanny, September 2017)
“Fandom for Robots,” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Uncanny, September/October 2017)
“The Martian Obelisk,” by Linda Nagata (Tor.com, July 19, 2017)
“Sun, Moon, Dust” by Ursula Vernon, (Uncanny, May/June 2017)
“Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience™,” by Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex, August 2017)

Best Series

The Books of the Raksura, by Martha Wells (Night Shade)
The Divine Cities, by Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway)
InCryptid, by Seanan McGuire (DAW)
The Memoirs of Lady Trent, by Marie Brennan (Tor US / Titan UK)
The Stormlight Archive, by Brandon Sanderson (Tor US / Gollancz UK)
World of the Five Gods, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Harper Voyager / Spectrum Literary Agency)

Best Related Work

Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate, by Zoë Quinn (PublicAffairs)
Iain M. Banks (Modern Masters of Science Fiction), by Paul Kincaid (University of Illinois Press)
A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison, by Nat Segaloff (NESFA Press)
Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler, edited by Alexandra Pierce, and Mimi Mondal (Twelfth Planet Press)
No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, by Ursula K. Le Guin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Sleeping with Monsters: Readings and Reactions in Science Fiction and Fantasy, by Liz Bourke (Aqueduct Press)

Best Graphic Story

Bitch Planet, Volume 2: President Bitch, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated by Valentine De Landro and Taki Soma, colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick, lettered by Clayton Cowles (Image Comics)
Black Bolt, Volume 1: Hard Time, written by Saladin Ahmed, illustrated by Christian Ward, lettered by Clayton Cowles (Marvel)
Monstress, Volume 2: The Blood, written by Marjorie M. Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image Comics)
My Favorite Thing is Monsters, written and illustrated by Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)
Paper Girls, Volume 3, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Jared Fletcher (Image Comics)
Saga, Volume 7, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)

Award for Best Young Adult Book

Akata Warrior, by Nnedi Okorafor (Viking)
The Art of Starving, by Sam J. Miller (HarperTeen)
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman (Knopf)
In Other Lands, by Sarah Rees Brennan (Big Mouth House)
A Skinful of Shadows, by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK / Harry N. Abrams US)
Summer in Orcus, written by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon), illustrated by Lauren Henderson (Sofawolf Press)

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Katherine Arden - The Bear and the Nightingale, The Girl in the Tower
Sarah Kuhn
Jeannette Ng - Under the Pendulum Sun
Vina Jie-Min Prasad - A Series of Steaks and Fandom for Robots
Rebecca Roanhorse
Rivers Solomon

Mar 17, 9:05am Top

And I think I'm done!

Mar 17, 9:42am Top

Happy new thread, Heather!

Mar 17, 10:38am Top

Happy new thread!

Mar 17, 1:44pm Top

Happy new thread, Heather, and have a great weekend.

Mar 17, 4:02pm Top

Happy new thread! The topper pic looks like our house - the cat sleeps on whatever quilting project mrsdrneutron is trying to work on... 😀

Mar 17, 8:14pm Top

Happy New Thread, Heather.

That's a beautiful quilt up there made by your grandmother. Erica has good taste.

Mar 18, 9:59am Top

Happy new thread, Heather.

I have spent Sunday cleaning up my reading room - well making a bit more space - so I am tired but happy.

Mar 18, 11:03am Top

Happy new one, Heather! I was happy to see Erica in her place of honor atop the thread.Please give her my love.

Mar 18, 1:15pm Top

>7 FAMeulstee:, >8 humouress:, >9 BLBera: Thank you Nina, Anita and Beth :-)

>10 drneutron:, >11 jnwelch: I'm glad you like the quilt. I have a few of my grandma's other projects to place around the house - one is a fabric landscape scene that I want to hang on the wall. I'm not sure if the technique is still quilting but it's beautiful. At the moment they're stashed in a plastic bag at the bottom of my wardrobe...

>12 PaulCranswick: Sounds like you had a productive Sunday Paul - it's always a good feeling to have tackled some sorting. I had a bit of a tidy up and sort this week and it felt good.

>13 Crazymamie: Thank you Mamie - I will give Erica some special strokes from you.

Mar 18, 4:01pm Top

Happy new thread, Heather! I love that sweet picture of Erica.

Mar 19, 4:02pm Top

Happy new thread Heather!
Erica sure knows how to find a comfy sport. :)

Mar 19, 7:14pm Top

>1 souloftherose: Erica looks very happy on the beautiful quilt!

Mar 20, 5:22am Top

>15 karenmarie:, >16 jolerie:, >17 thornton37814: Thank you for the cat and quilt compliments :-)

*Rant warning*
I've been struggling with higher than usual levels of anxiety the last couple of months - partly due to making benefits claims for Dan but mainly due to another ridiculous work project I've got caught up in which yes, needed some input from the tax team (that's me) but I've somehow ended up project managing because (a) no one else is and (b) if they don't set things up properly I will have to deal with the tax consequences. It's been dragging on for weeks and the senior person pushing for this sent me a grumpy email yesterday (he seems to be a blustery type of person) asking why hadn't we told him X before we went ahead with this to which I responded (politely, I think) with the emails where we had told him X over the last several weeks. (Grr). There are bits of this I'm waiting for other teams to get back to on and I'm just dreading the thought of having to email him each time to update him and then having to deal with more blustery/grumpy complaints (and my brain is unfortunately very good at thinking of all the irrational objections he could come up with). Sigh.

So today, which is my day off, I woke up at 6am (not my preferred waking up time even on days I do go to work) and have been feeling very anxious all morning. I've done some meditation and I think it's going to be a try to distract myself from feeling anxious day.
*Rant over*

Mar 20, 8:44am Top

Book #27: Mother of Winter by Barbara Hambly - 3.7 stars

The fourth book in Barbara Hambly's portal fantasy series of Darwath. The first three books (starting with The Time of the Dark) form a complete trilogy and were published in the 1980s. This fourth book features the same characters and world and was published after a gap of over 10 years. The fourth book could almost stand alone but it does reference the events of the first trilogy so I think it makes sense to read them in order.

I enjoyed returning to the world and characters Hambly had created (I think Gil and Ingold are my favourites). Although the Dark (the big bad of the first trilogy) has been defeated, life in Darwath is still a struggle for survival with a decimated population and a changing climate to contend with. Food reserves are low and winter seems to be becoming harder and lasting longer - also there's a strange plant which seems to be affecting the crops in the fields... One of things I like about this series is the mix of darkness in the setting contrasted with characters that are realistic about their chances of success and survival but refuse to give up anyway. It makes the books quite encouraging reads despite the sense of darkness.

The conclusion of the story was a bit of an anti-climax so I've rated this slightly lower than the original trilogy but I really enjoy the characters I will be returning to this series for the final book (Icefalcon's Quest) and I think there are some short stories separately published that I will probably also try.

Mar 20, 8:47am Top

Heather, I am sorry to hear about the work woes. Very frustrating that you had to take on the managing of it. I am sending you good mojo and keeping you in my thoughts. I think this calls for an indulgence - you should treat yourself to something that would cheer you up.

Mar 20, 9:01am Top

Book #28: Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan - 4 stars

Victorian-esque lady adventurer studying dragons (plus gorgeous illustrations) I think tells you everything you need to know about this series.

This is the third book in the five book series and it's been a few years between reading the second book and this book purely because I got distracted with other books (and is one of the reasons I am trying really hard to finish some series). I had a lot of fun going back to these adventures and am aiming to get to the next couple of books soon (not letting myself get distracted again).

Book #28.5: From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review by Marie Brennan - 4 stars

A short story in the same series available free online (link below), in which Lady Trent writes a series of letters to the local scientific journal disputing claims made by a another researcher of a new find. It's very funny and although it's set after Voyage of the Basilisk I think it can be read without spoiling the earlier books.


Mar 20, 9:03am Top

>20 Crazymamie: Thank you Mamie! I do have a slice of millionaire's shortbread from the local bakery which I am saving for a late afternoon treat (after my errands are done). It might even be salted caramel....

Mar 20, 9:05am Top

>22 souloftherose: Oohh! Sounds like just the thing!

>21 souloftherose: I love your reviews - you are reminding me that I need to get back to that series - I have only read the first one, but it was great fun

Mar 20, 10:22am Top

>18 souloftherose: Hi Heather! Sorry work is being anxiety-making. That kind of behaviour is pretty awful to deal with :-(

>21 souloftherose: I really need to get on with that series. I read the second one a couple of years ago, so the third needs to get bumped up the priority list because I always enjoy the books when I'm reading them.

Mar 20, 10:58am Top

>21 souloftherose: I can confirm that the Brennan short story can be read and enjoyed without having read the full-length novels. It was included in a book of Brennan short stories offered through ER recently, and I thought it was very funny. I really need to read the series, as I think I would really like it.

Mar 20, 1:29pm Top

>21 souloftherose: >25 rosalita: Marie Brennan instantly became one of my look for authors when I read The Natural History of Dragons. I haven't seen From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review yet, so thank you! I just need to get my hands on Maps to Nowhere now.

Mar 20, 2:34pm Top

Sorry to hear about all the anxiety and the work stress, Heather. I think that is one thing I definitely don't miss about work when I chose to stay at home after having kids...dealing with people/office politics... :/

Hopefully you feel better soon and your readings will bring you some comfort!

Mar 21, 12:23am Top

>21 souloftherose: Happy new thread. I just started that series myself this month. I'm also liking it very much.

Mar 25, 2:42am Top

Good luck with all the tax and job management stuff. What a pain. Wishing you calm. Congrats on the new thread and happy reading.

Mar 27, 9:57am Top

>23 Crazymamie:, >24 archerygirl: Thank you for all the anxiety-be-gone wishes and lovely to see so much enthusiasm for the Lady Trent series - it is really fun.

>25 rosalita: Ooh! *heads off to wishlist the Brennan short stories...*

>26 quondame: I haven't read any of her other books yet Susan, but I think I'd like to once I finish the Lady Trent series. I think she has an older historical fantasy/faerie series set in Elizabethan England which sounds interesting and a newer series of fantasy novellas for Tor.

>27 jolerie: Thanks Valerie. I took comfort last week in reminding myself that there's very little in the way of office politics in my immediate team (20 or so people) which really helps (and is probalby one of the main reasons I still work there).

>28 Kassilem: Glad you're also enjoying it Melissa. I'm trying to decide whether to just go ahead and reserve the next book at the library or wait until I've finished a few more from my current library book stash....

>29 Berly: Thanks Kim!


So anxiety levels have been slowly decreasing since last Tuesday (they've been coming back each morning but not as badly as the previous morning each time). I have two days left at work and think I will just squeak in all the things which need to be done by the end of the month and can then hopefully spend some time over the long Easter weekend resting up. I don't know whether it's the after-effects of feeling so anxious or whether I'm fighting off a cold but I have been incredibly tired lately - had a three hour nap on Sunday and still feeling tired after that...

Mar 27, 10:19am Top

Book #29: The Brimming Cup by Dorothy Canfield Fisher - 2.5 stars

Other than Liz's chronological Viragoes project, I didn't do very well with my Virago reading last year, so this year I decided to join in with the Virago group monthly author reads, especially as I had books in my TBR piles for all the authors chosen.

Picking The Brimming Cup as my read for the February author was not an encouraging start. I loved DCF's The Home-Maker which I read several years ago in a lovely Persephone edition. The Brimming Cup is an earlier work and whilst I could see some of the same themes being explored (education of children, motherhood) the writing style felt quite different.

The Brimming Cup is a series of vignettes about the life of one family and their immediate friends in a small village in Vermont over the course of the year. It's very much about the internal thoughts of these characters and one of the things I liked is that DCF often shows us the same scene from two totally different perspectives so the reader can see the (sometimes drastically) different conclusions and thoughts of two different characters from the same set of circumstances. The central character, Marise, is a young mother whose youngest child has just started school and who is struggling with a little bit of what we might call empty nest syndrome and finding she has time to think about who she is and what she wants now that she has a small break from the constant demands of her children. Brought into this environment are some newcomers to the village including a young city man who makes no secret of the fact that he despises the simple country ways of the village and who Marise starts to find herself fascinated by.

Generally, I really enjoy books in this style but instead I found most of The Brimming Cup really, really boring and I'm still not sure why. (Really boring.) The only reason I finished it was because I was determined not to let this book defeat me (and I thought if I gave up on my first Virago of the year I might never read another again). There were some sections of the book I did enjoy - the scenes told from the perspective of the children were often very good and those from the perspective of the new elderly neighbour. But unfortunately we kept coming back to the main characters each time....

Not everyone disliked this as much as me but I wouldn't recommend this as a starting point for Dorothy Canfield Fisher (read The Home-Maker instead - it's really good).

Mar 27, 3:08pm Top

>30 souloftherose: Set in England yes. Starting in Elizabethan but going forward each book. I enjoyed Cold-Forged Flame but it wanted more.

Mar 28, 8:25pm Top

Hi Heather - I hope your work project is moving along smoothly with little grumpy interference.

>21 souloftherose: Those dragons are beautiful.

I've been wanting to read Canfield, but I'll start with another.

Apr 1, 2:32pm Top

>32 quondame: Thanks for the info on the Onyx Court series, Susan. They sound intriguing.

>33 BLBera: Thanks Beth - there's not been much movement (everyone been's tied up with other deadlines including me) but hopefully I will go back to work next week feeling refreshed and ready to prod buttock until people do things.

Yes, I would recommend starting with a different Canfield. I wasn't the only person in the Virago group to struggle with this one.

Attempting to use part of the long week-end to catch up with some threads and some book reviews:

Book #30: Calamity by Brandon Sanderson - 3.3 stars

A slightly stronger end to what was ultimately an underwhelming YA trilogy. Which was a shame because there were some good ideas here (as usual for Sanderson) but it felt like Sanderson was writing for a YA audience by making the writing and dialogue really, really cheesy. Even though I only read this a few weeks ago I've already forgotten most of what happened. Only recommended for Sanderson completists.

Book #31: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid - 4.5 stars

Beautiful, understated writing and a beautiful story about a young couple from a nameless Middle Eastern city who escape the danger of a civil war by escaping through magical portals which have suddenly opened up across the world.

I'd had this in the list from other's recommendations last year and then it jumped to the top when it was shortlisted for the British Science Fiction Association Award. I think this will be on my best books of the year list and I've also made a note to check out Hamid's backlist (The Reluctant Fundamentalist is now high on my list)

Apr 1, 6:55pm Top

Hi, Heather!

The thread is up for the group read of Camilla - here. Hope to see you there soon! :)

Apr 3, 12:44pm Top

>35 lyzard: Thanks Liz!

Apr 3, 12:48pm Top

So, an update on the science-fiction and fantasy awards.

The winner of the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) award was announced as Nina Allan's The Rift over the Easter weekend. Although I'd been making good progress with the shortlist this was the one I didn't manage to squeeze in to my March reading. But I've heard good things about it and have it on loan from the library so hoping to get to it this month.

And the Hugo finalists were announced!


I'm not going to post the full list here but will update my post >5 souloftherose: at some point so I can cross them off as I make my way through them. There's a group discussion thread setup here if anyone would like to read along or get recommendations (no requirement to read/watch all categories! I think I'm going to aim for the novels and short fiction for myself but that might be a bit ambitious).

Apr 3, 1:09pm Top

And as I'm reading more shorter fiction I'm going to try to do a monthly round-up rather than listing each piece as I read them.

So for March:

And Then There Were (N-One) by Sarah Pinsker - Novella, Nebula & Hugo nominee (Read online: https://uncannymagazine.com/article/and-then-there-were-n-one)

As you may be able to guess from the title this is inspired by Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None with a science-fictional twist. A Sarah Pinsker in one universe develops a way to communicate with parallel worlds and organises a convention for all the Sarah Pinskers in all of those worlds to attend. When one of the attendees is killed it tuns into a murder mystery but also asked a lot of questions about how your choices, decisions and the events of your life shape you as a person. I liked this a lot.

Wind Will Rove by Sarah Pinsker - Novelette, Nebula & Hugo nominee (Read online: http://sarahpinsker.com/wind_will_rove)

This was a really thought-provoking story about the inhabitants of a generation ship and how they have coped with a catastrophic loss of historical data a couple of generations ago. Again, this raised a lot of questions about culture, music and how much this is (or should be) influenced by history. Is it better to work to preserve things from your past or put your energies into creating something new?

One the basis of these two short pieces I have decided I like Pinsker's fiction a lot.

Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand by Fran Wilde - Short story, Nebula & Hugo nominee (Read online: https://uncannymagazine.com/article/clearly-lettered-mostly-steady-hand/)

Then I started a trial subscription to Uncanny Magazine and read Issue 20 (Jan/Feb). One non-fiction essay by Fran Wilde jumped out at me and led me back to read her short story, Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand (the essay in the recent issue is a response to responses she received about this story). It's a creepy and unsettling story and I enjoyed it less than Pinsker's work but I think it's important. It's about disability and how this is viewed by other people.

Cat Pictures Please by Naomi Kritzer (Read online: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/kritzer_01_15/) - Hugo winner short story 2016

And then I remembered a story archerygirl recommended a couple of years ago which I hadn't got round to reading then. This is a funny and delightful story about an AI who just wants to help the people it finds on the internet (if they would only let it) and in exchange, just asks for cute cat pictures. And I then discovered Kritzer has a short story collection Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories which I have added to my wishlist.

Apr 3, 2:39pm Top

>37 souloftherose: The nice thing about short fiction is they're short, and therefore easy to pack in! :-) The novelettes and short stories tend to the categories I reliably read through each year no matter what. Such a feeling of accomplishment :-)

>38 souloftherose: I've become a fan of Pinsker's works, she's always fascinating. Uncanny is a fantastic source for good short fiction and I love their essays as well as their fiction.

I didn't know there was an entire collection of Kritzer's work out there! I've bookmarked it - it includes my other favourite of hers, So Much Cooking, so it's definitely worth finding.

Apr 6, 12:12pm Top

Hi, Heather. Glad to see you are finally getting around to Lady Trent--you will have so much fun! You inspire me to seek out Pinsker's work.

Apr 6, 2:17pm Top

Hi Heather - I haven't been by in a while, and I'm doing lots of lurking, but here I am to say hello...

I'm glad you liked Exit West so much. I read it last year and loved it. My book group is reading it for this month's meeting, so I'll be picking it up again.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is good, too.

I hope you have a quiet and restful weekend!

Edited: Apr 6, 7:04pm Top

Heather, I'm about to read Exit West for a new book group. I'm glad to see such a favorable review.

Apr 6, 9:41pm Top

Hi Heather. I read and liked Exit West last year but still liked The Reluctant Fundamentalist better. It brought to mind John Srewart—-mind blown!

Apr 6, 11:33pm Top

Must read Hamid! Must read Hamid!! Thank you for the reminder, Heather.
I wish you patience and discernment as you deal with a blustery, insecure boss-type. I've been there - I'm afraid we all have - and there's not much to say but wait him out and hope for better next time.

Apr 6, 11:42pm Top

>43 brenzi: Unusually for me I take the opposite view here from Bonnie; I actually preferred Exit West to The Reluctant Fundamentalist. I thought it a very good novel although the science-fiction-y parts paled a little eventually.

Apr 6, 11:42pm Top

Have a lovely weekend, Heather, by the way.

Apr 10, 7:48am Top

Phew - it's good to be back on LT after the unexpected Sunday downtime!

>39 archerygirl: I've got distracted from the short fiction reading again but hope to do some more soon.

>40 ronincats: I do like Pinsker Roni, I think I read she has a short fiction collection being released next year. And Lady Trent is a lot of fun!

>41 katiekrug: Thank you Katie! I really enjoyed Hamid's prose style. I think it could generate a good discussion for a book group.

>42 lauralkeet: I hope you enjoy it Laura!

>43 brenzi: Ooh, if The Reluctant Fundamentalist is even better I should bump it up the list!

>44 LizzieD: Thanks Peggy (and the Hamid's are short books if that helps!) :-)

>45 PaulCranswick:, >46 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul. I did see that a number of readers found the fantastical parts of Exit West troubling - they didn't bother me but then as a lover of fantasy and science fiction I guess that's to be expected.


Quite tired this week as on Saturday Dan and I trekked into London to see Hamilton in the West End! It's as good as everyone says although I did find myself wishing there was a way to see theatre without having to spend the whole day out and about. I was very glad to have a quiet Sunday after that.

Edited: Apr 15, 4:31am Top

Book #32: Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb - 4.2 stars

The second book in the Farseer trilogy - this is the continuing adventures/trials of Fitz, royal bastard and assassin. I would say this is character focused rather than plot focused fantasy but Hobb doesn't shy away from putting her characters (and her readers) through the wringer emotionally. It was difficult not to pick up the next book immediately (but I'm waiting until May to read it with the group read).

Book #33: Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell - 3.8 stars

A brief and alternately amusing and horrifying account of George Orwell's time almost penniless and almost always hungry in Paris and London in the 1920s**. In Paris he manages to pay for his apartment up front but has no money for food until he manages to get a job working incredibly long hours (by modern standards) as a plongeur (washer up) in a restaurant, In London he has nowhere to live and almost no money so is forced to join the tramps moving on daily from one lodging house or 'spike' (parish provided accommodation for tramps) - but only allowed to stay one night a month at each of the latter - hence the need to tramp from spike to spike. (I hadn't known this but it suddenly explained to me why there used to be tramps and aren't really anymore - homeless people can now be homeless in the same location - hooray for progress!)

It's an insider's view of poverty at the time but also in many ways still an outsider's/observer's view. Perhaps because of his class/upbringing or simply from the effect of being the recorder of the experiences but I didn't have the sense Orwell was completely part of this world. However, there is a lot of insight into what it must have been like to live in those circumstances at that time and Orwell has a lot of sympathy for those in that position.

One of the highlights of the book for me was a chapter towards the end with some notes on swearing and slang. Due to strict censorship at the time the swear words couldn't be printed, but rather than (as might seem more sensible) removing the entire chapter the publishers just blanked all the swear words which has the (presumably unintended effect) of causing the reader to spend more thought and energy trying to guess the swear words than if they had just printed them. Even recent publications of the book have the swear words blanked because there are no notes to show which swear words Orwell was actually writing about. Interestingly, they were allowed to print the French swear words.

**Having read some bits on wikipedia it seems there is some debate regarding the extent to which this is a factual account - some of the events may not have happened in the order given in Down and Out or may not have happened to Orwell himself.

Apr 10, 12:38pm Top

Book #34: Peking Picnic by Ann Bridge - 3.9 stars

Ann Bridge was the pseudonym of Mary Ann Dolling Sanders, a diplomat's wife who travelled to China with her husband in the 1920s. Peking Picnic published in 1932 was her first novel and as it's based in China in the same period and the main character, Laura Leroy, is a diplomat's wife I'm going to say it was at least partly based on her experiences in China.

I struggled with this one at first and thought I was about to bounce off another Virago (and that I may be doomed to have another Virago-less year) but it really grew on me and developed in unexpected ways. Laura Leroy seems to be admired by all and sundry in Peking but whilst she enjoys aspects of life in China she desperately misses her children at boarding school in the UK and longs for the summer holidays when she gets to spend time with them. The bulk of the novel is about a weekend expedition Laura and a number of her acquaintances in Peking make to a nearby temple which goes wrong when part of the party are held hostage by bandits/renegade militia.

From the beginning I thought it was going to be a slightly frothy society novel but it turned out to be more of a psychological novel and quite introspective. Various romantic relationships between the people on the expedition are examined and analysed in a franker way than I expected from a novel of this period.

I preferred Illyrian Spring other Ann Bridge novel Virago have published but this ended up being an interesting read which stayed with me.

Apr 10, 12:53pm Top

Book #35: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden - 4.0 stars

I'm very much enjoying this historical fiction/historical fantasy series set in (I think) 14th century Russia (or Rus as it was then) and inspired by Russian folklore. The writing is very evocative and I was captivated by the characters. This is the second book in what looks to be a trilogy (at least) and I would start with The Bear and the Nightingale.

Apr 11, 8:21am Top

I love the cat pictures story, Heather, thank you for sharing the link!

The girl in the tower is on my tbr pile. This is one of the rare series where I couldn't resist buying the hardback editions.

I too enjoyed Peking picnic although, like you, a little less than Illyrian spring. I'm currently reading A light-hearted quest which shares the international setting but is more of a Mary Stewart-esque adventure than the deeper character study of her Virago works.

Apr 12, 7:32am Top

>49 souloftherose: I started this and gave up but your comments make me think I gave up too soon so I shall have another go.

Apr 13, 9:30am Top

Lovely reviews, Heather! I especially liked your thoughts on Down and Out in Paris and London. If you posted that, I will add my thumb.

Hoping your weekend is full of fabulous!

Apr 15, 4:46am Top

>51 Sakerfalcon: Hope you enjoy The Girl in the Tower Clare - I do particularly love the covers on these editions.

I read and enjoyed A Lighthearted Quest a few years ago - very Mary Stewart-esque as you say, but didn't feel compelled to continue with the series.

>52 CDVicarage: It may be worth trying again, Kerry, as it took me a while to get into.

>53 Crazymamie: Thank you Mamie! Posted to the book page and thank you for being one of the chief recommenders of this book to me!

Edited: Apr 17, 5:16am Top

Book #36: Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger - 3.8 stars

The continuing adventures of the attendees of Carriger's Finishing School series - I was glad I decided to read the first three books before reading Manners and Mutiny as there was quite a plot twist at the end of W&W which I had completely forgotten about.

Book #37: Quick Curtain by Alan Melville - 3.2 stars

Quick Curtain by Alan Melville is one of the many golden age crime stories reprinted by the British Library as part of their crime classics series. I wasn't entirely convinced by this particular reprint - it's more of a sendup of the golden age crime novel than a crime novel itself so its success as a book relies on the reader enjoying the humour and I didn't find the humour was really enough to sustain a 250 page book. It was enjoyable but not really memorable.

Other people have found this one very funny though so YMMV.

Apr 20, 3:22am Top

>34 souloftherose: oooh, Exit West- I remember the buzz about that. I wonder if it is available at the library now that they buzz has died down.

Apr 21, 2:30am Top

Delurking to say Hi! I have Exit West on the list for later this year with my bookclub. Glad everyone is enjoying it so much.

Apr 21, 7:38am Top

>49 souloftherose: Thanks for that review, Heather.

Must admit to not having heard of the novel before but it could well be worth hunting down.

Have a lovely weekend.

Apr 22, 1:44pm Top

>56 LovingLit:, >57 Berly: Hope you both enjoy Exit West!

>58 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul. Happy weekend to you too. Yes, Ann Bridge is definitely an overlooked author and one of the reasons I enjoy the Virago backlists so much. I think Daunt Books have brought Peking Picnic back into print so it might be available in a book shop or library now.

Apr 24, 8:15am Top

Doing some more reviews out of order:

Book #46: River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey - 2.7 stars

I loved the premise - an alternate 19th century USA where Congress decided to introduce hippos to Louisiana to resolve a meat shortage (something that was actually considered at the time). Kind of a Wild West vibe but with hippos instead of horses but unfortunately I never felt this became more than a great premise. The characters felt under-developed and none of them felt like more than just a collection of traits. I finished it but didn't really care what happened. There's a sequel, Taste of Marrow, but I don't think I'm going to read it.

This is a novella (about 150 pages) and nominated for both the Nebula and Hugo awards.

Book #47: Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty - 3.7 stars

Another Nebula and Hugo nominee - this time in the novels category. I found this an enjoyable locked room mystery with the added twist of being set on a generation ship and involving clones. Again, the characters felt a bit under-developed but this was a fun and fairly quick read although it wouldn't make my best of the year list. I haven't seen any reviews mention this but I thought this was definitely a homage to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None which would make two entries on the shortlist inspired by the same book..

Book #48: Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng - 4.5 stars

This book hasn't been nominated for any awards but the author, Jeannette Ng, is nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

This was another great premise (Victorian missionaries venture into Faerie to convert the Fae - because if the Fae had existed and the Victorians had known about them, of course they would have tried to convert them) but this time the book really and truly delivers on the premise. The author herself describes it as 'gothic fantasy with a theological twist'.

I loved it although I can see some elements would put people off - it's slow-moving, written in a style that almost feels Victorian and there's lots of theology - but this felt like a very authentic Victorian gothic fantasy with lots of Bronte references which made me very happy. It reminded me a little of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (albeit that was set earlier in the 19th century) but it has the same feeling of period authenticity combined with a lot of weirdness and darkness. These aren't the fairies our Victorians imagined...

This would be on my list of best books of 2017 and a special shout out to John Coulthart for the amazing cover art.

"They say the Howling Duke and the Chief of Winds are more cruel. They say He Who Commands Fear is stronger, more powerful. The Keeper of the Markets is more calculating. The Colourful King, She Who Sleeps for the Mountains and the Lost Emperors are more unpredictable, more changeable..... This is all true, you have to understand." He swallowed, visibly. "But I daresay I fear the Pale Queen the most."
Mr Benjamin grinned at my question, his lips stretching tight over his blunt, brown teeth. There was no humour in it. "Because she is most human."

Apr 25, 8:47am Top

Hi Heather - Lucky you to see "Hamilton." Peking Picnic sounds good, and I would like to look at the Orwell, too. The Arden books have been getting a lot of love here as well; I'll have to check one out.

Apr 25, 8:56am Top

Nice reviews, Heather! I love the sounds of Under the Pendulum Sun, so I am adding it to The List. Also, that cover is stunning.

May 3, 11:18am Top

>61 BLBera: Thanks Beth. I would definitely recommend the Arden books to you as well as the Bridge and Orwell.

>62 Crazymamie: Thanks Mamie - ooh, I hope you enjoy Under the Pendulum Sun. Mine's a kindle copy but I am considering buying a paper version too because I liked it that much and want to properly enjoy the cover!


I'm off work this week (and beginning of next thanks to a bank holiday). Just staycationing at home but I was starting to feel unduly frazzled and in need of a break so took some annual leave. We haven't been up to much (Dan can only go out a few days a week) but we did go to see Black Panther on Tuesday which was fantastic and after catching up on some of the Marvel films on DVD we're hoping to see Infinity War next week.

Today I went out to explore a little wood local to us and see the bluebells - the bluebells were very nice but I decided the wood is too close to a very busy trainline and two major roads to become a favourite spot to visit (I find noise very distracting). After a couple of days of wind and rain the weather is supposed to be really nice for the next week so I am going to try to get out of the house and do some gentle walks even though Dan won't be able to come.

Otherwise I have an overwhelming number of library books to read (all my reserves came in at once) and some Netflix shows to make progress with. I'm currently enjoying the first season of Wynnona Earp which is a bit trashy but fun. It's a bit Buffyesque although not quite as good - the plot doesn't really make sense (something something Wyatt Earp, a curse and some demons) but I like the characters especially Wynonna's younger sister Waverly. Trashy but fun is sometimes exactly what I want from a TV series.

I am very behind with book reviews - will try and gird my loins to do something about that over the weekend.

May 3, 11:27am Top

Happy belated new thread, Heather! I think you'll like The Reluctant Fundamentalist just as much as you liked Exit West. Hamid is an awesome writer and I look forward to all to come.

I've got The Girl in the Tower home from the library. Maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to bookhorn it in before someone puts a hold on it.

May 3, 11:44am Top

"Trashy but fun is sometimes exactly what I want from a TV series." Me, too! I'll have to check that one out.

A staycation sounds like just the ticket, Heather. I have yet to see Black Panther - Craig and the kids went to see it in the theater, and they all LOVED it. I will see it when it comes out for home purchase since I missed it on the big screen. Rae said it is her favorite one so far.

Hoping your days off are full of fabulous!

May 3, 12:47pm Top

>63 souloftherose: Your staycation sounds lovely. Good luck making it through all the library books!

May 4, 8:06am Top

>64 Carmenere: Thanks Lynda. I would like to say I'll get to The Reluctant Fundamentalist later this year but I seem to be being over ambitious with my reading plans at the moment so who knows?

I hope you manage to squeeze The Girl in the Tower in - it's very gripping so I found it quite a quick read.

>65 Crazymamie: Thanks Mamie! I was quite impressed we were still able to see Black Panther in the cinema as it's been released for a while. Hope you enjoy it when it comes out on DVD.

>66 MickyFine: Thanks Micky. One down, er.... eight to go! (Eeep.) I'm trying to prioritise the ones I think won't be renewable.

May 4, 8:36am Top

And library book #1:

Book #54: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turon - 4.5 stars

From the publisher:

'It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden - one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party - can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath...'

It's quite unusual for me to read a book by a new to me author without it being one recommended by people on LT. But I kept seeing this new release in my recommendations on Amazon with very high ratings and then the library had a copy so I took the plunge. I'm really glad I did because this was really, really good.

It's difficult to say much about this novel without spoilers because this is one of those books where it's initially very unclear what's happening (so I refer you to the publisher's blurb above). As I read on and more and more is revealed I became increasingly hooked. I read this in two days (when I wasn't working) but I read 100 pages on the first day and then 400 on the second day because I just had to keep reading.

I also think this is one I'd enjoy rereading because even now I know the ending I think this was a very well crafted novel

I've seen people describe this as Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day but I'd say it's Agatha Christie meets The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North or Agatha Christie meets Quantum Leap (I loved that TV show).

Recommended for people who enjoyed Magpie Murders (I predict this will be the Magpie Murders of 2018). It's out in the UK now but will be released in the US later this year as The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (presumably they felt the UK title wasn't sufficiently distinctive?)

May 4, 10:28am Top

>68 souloftherose: A direct hit! Adding that one to The List, Heather - your thread is dangerous for me.

May 4, 4:19pm Top

>68 souloftherose: Oh goodness, that sounds so great, Heather! I did love Magpie Murders. Apparently it doesn't get released over here until September, though — and the title is The 7 1/2 Deaths of Eleanor Hardcastle for some reason. I hope I can still remember I wanted to read it by then!

May 5, 10:20am Top

>68 souloftherose: I'm hit as well. :)

May 5, 11:30pm Top

>28 Kassilem: OOooo! That one looks very good. I'll add it to my wish list however many deaths are involved.
Thank you for reminding me of the Orwell. I was thinking about it (and not remembering the title) only yesterday. I dont' know when I'll get to it, but I'm happy to think that it's available to me.
ENJOY your time off, Heather!

May 6, 4:38am Top

>69 Crazymamie:, >71 MickyFine: Sorry, not sorry, Mamie and Micky!

>70 rosalita: I don't know why books so often end up with different publication dates and titles between the US and the UK, Julia. Hopefully by the time it gets released in the US you can still remember you want to read it!

>72 LizzieD: Thanks Peggy - it tickles me to think US readers will be getting an extra 1/2 a death for their money :-)

May 6, 5:13am Top

The 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award shortlist has been announced. The winner will be announced on 18th July.

Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill
Dreams Before the Start of Time by Anne Charnock
American War by Omar El Akkad
Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kelfer
Gather the Daughters by Jennie Malamad
Borne by Jeff Vandermeer

I've only read one of the nominees (Dreams Before the Start of Time by Anne Charnock which was also shortlisted for the BSFA award) and a number of the other nominees are completely new to me. I'm most interested in reading Sea of Rust and Spaceman of Bohemia but as I feel considerably overbooked at the moment I'm going to finish my Hugo reading first.

May 6, 5:21am Top

Book #38: Dreams Before the Start of Time by Anne Charnock - 3.2 stars

This is well-written and what I think of as more literary science fiction that ultimately left me a bit cold. Set in the near future it's an almost episodic novel following different, but related, friends and family and their choices about birth, parenting and children.The sfnal element is that Charnock has imagined new technologies which change the way having children happens. I found this readable but was never really drawn to any of the characters and feel like I'm missing the point a bit. But as it was nominated for both the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) award and the Clarke award this year there's presumably something that other people see in this one that I didn't.

As I enjoyed Charnock's writing I may still try some of her other books and see if those interest me more.

May 6, 5:31am Top

Book #39: Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson - 3.8 stars

This read was a pleasant surprise - this has languished in my TBR pile for many years after Jenny/lunacat reviewed it in 2009 (yes, my TBR is out of control). First published in 1960 this is a portal fantasy in which our protagonist, a Dane called Holger Carlsen, finds himself transported from a battle in WWII to a strange forest. As he tries to find his way home he is joined by a knight's horse, a dwarf and a girl who can turn into a swan and starts to find himself swept up in events in this strange and magical land. It soon becomes clear that he is key to the problems this magical land is experiencing and that these problems in turn are affecting our own world.

This story has a sweet, old-fashioned style - in some ways it's a fairly traditional tale of good vs evil but with some unusual elements - instead of drawing on the more commonly referenced Arthurian legends for his tale of knights and deeds of valour, Anderson references the French Carolingian Cycle (I had to google it).

Recommended for fans of classic fantasy.

May 6, 6:00am Top

Book #40: The Lady Vanishes by Ethel Lina White - 3.7 stars

Originally published as The Wheel Spins. I've been a fan of the Alfred Hitchcock film for a long time so it was interesting to read the novel that inspired the film and compare. As I think Mamie mentioned in her review, the female protagonist is more spoilt and less sympathetic in the book and this helps explain why the other passengers on the train are initially uninterested in helping her.

Whilst the film focuses on the espionage and mystery I felt the book takes a more psychological approach and as the mystery progresses, considers what reasons the other passengers have for note being entirely truthful about their memories of Miss Froy. Recommended - I'm planning to read more of White's books.

May 6, 6:15am Top

And my final book for March (ugh):

Book #41: Jenny Wren by E. H. Young - 3.8 stars

First published in 1932, this Virago is a story about class differences in the fictional town of Upper Radstowe (based on Bristol where E. H. Young lived). The two main characters are sisters, Jenny and Dahlia Randall who move to Radstowe from the countryside with their mother to open a boarding house after their father's death. Their father was a gentleman who married beneath him for love but then grew to be ashamed of his wife's social status. The girls were brought up as gentlewomen but although Jenny loves her mother she has inherited her father's sense of shame at her mother's manners. Both sisters struggle to some extent with life in Upper Radstowe as they struggle to attract guests to their boarding house and consider their own futures.

This took me a little while to get into and I sometimes struggled to be sympathetic to Jenny but I enjoyed this Virago by a new to me author and intend to read more of her work, especially The Curate's Wife which is a sequel to this book focusing more on Dahlia.

May 6, 8:57am Top

>78 souloftherose: Paul McCartney had a song called Jenny Wren which I hummed along to quite a bit recently. Now I know where he got the title from.

Have a lovely Sunday.

May 6, 5:17pm Top

And my final book for March (ugh)

Ahh, shaddap. :D

BTW, meant to say "Whoo!" and "Thank you" over my belated realisation we ended up with two shared reads in February.

May 7, 3:49am Top

>68 souloftherose: Ooh, Agatha Christie & Quantum Leap - I'll look out for that one.

>76 souloftherose: That one too.

May 8, 7:33am Top

>79 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul. There's a character called Jenny Wren in Dickens' Our Mutual Friend and I think the Paul McCartney song is more likely to be referencing that.

>80 lyzard: Occasionally I manage it!

>81 humouress: I hope you enjoy them Nina!

May 9, 11:24am Top

>68 souloftherose: You scored a direct hit with Seven Deaths! Although it's one I'll have to get after I move, because of the North American publishing date. Still, it sounds like it'll be worth the wait and I've wishlisted it :-)

Also, I finished S1 of Wynonna Earp a few months ago and your assessment is spot-on. Great trashy fun. I adore Waverly.

May 9, 1:44pm Top

>83 archerygirl: Hope you enjoy Seven Deaths one come July!

I've taken a brief break from Wynonna (two episodes to go until the end of the season) but will probably watch some more this weekend - I could do with less blood and gore as I'm still quite a wuss when it comes to that kind of violence on screen.


Back to work today which seemed to result in a restless and anxious night despite not really having anything specific to worry about re work (grrrr). Once I was up this morning I was fine and kind of enjoyed being back. Also Artificial Condition, the sequel to All Systems Red, was released today and downloaded onto my kindle so yay for more Murderbot!

We also managed to squeeze in seeing Avengers: Infinity War yesterday which we really enjoyed. I'd been concerned that a film with so many characters that was trying to be so epic would end up not working but I think it did. And then because one film in a day isn't enough we came home and rewatched Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Was planning to also rewatch Avengers: Age of Ultron and then Captain America: Civil War at some point this week but feel like I might be Marveled out....

May 9, 1:57pm Top

Book #42: A Short History of Fantasy by Farah Mendlesohn and Peter James - 4.0 stars

The emphasis is really on short. because that's all it can be when trying to cover 100+ years of fantasy in only 200 pages. After an initial introduction this looks at the subject chronologically with most chapters covering a specific time period and a couple of chapters breaking away from this format to cover specific authors who warrant their own chapter (Tolkien!)

I enjoyed this but it did leave me really wanting more and I suspect lit crit on fantasy is still in short supply. But this is a good introduction and something I will refer back to (there are very good indexes by title, author and subject as well as a chronological list of important works and people). One of the points I'm still mulling over from the opening chapters is the idea that fantasy as a genre only emerged in response to the emergence of realism as a genre. Meaning fantasy isn't something new that emerged in the last couple of centuries but is something that always seems to have been present in some form in the stories humans tell.

May 9, 2:12pm Top

>85 souloftherose: My library doesn't have it and it's old enough that I don't think they would purchase it, so I went ahead and ordered an used copy. Book Bullet!!

May 10, 1:30am Top

>74 souloftherose: I loved Borne! Just saying. All the other ones are new to me.

May 12, 2:02pm Top

I like the sound of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, Heather. It's on one of my you-recommended lists now.

Edited: May 15, 3:22pm Top

>86 ronincats: Oh, hope you enjoy! As one of my favourite fantasy-type book recommenders - are you aware of any other books on a similar theme?

>87 Berly: OK, Borne's on the list - thanks! (Although it feels like I am going to be forever reading my current crop of library books).

>88 Fourpawz2: Hope you enjoy it Charlotte!

I seem to be in a bit of a reading slump at the moment (which may be linked to what seems to be a bout of depression) and none of my current books are really working. Bah!

May 16, 3:08pm Top

Reading slump update: I've decided to abandon one of my current books which I have been struggling with (Autonomous by Analee Newitz from this year's Nebula shortlist). And I have managed to get a bit more into my commuting read, Assassin's Quest, now the main character has stopped being grumpy and horrible to everyone around him.

May 16, 7:33pm Top

>90 souloftherose: In one of my worst depressions I had to give up reading Floating Worlds and felt a great deal better when I immediately dove into a bunch of old favorites. Some times a book is just wrong for where you are now. I have read a great deal of Cecelia Holland since, but only by the accident of seeing one of her viking books and following that series with her other historicals.

May 17, 10:10am Top

>91 quondame: I had a horrible reading slump earlier this year, which I managed to overcome by immersing myself in some old favorites.

May 18, 1:51am Top

>91 quondame:, >92 fuzzi: Great minds think alike :-) I decided to pick up this month's Agatha Christie for a reread (They Do It With Mirrors) and whoosh, reading slump gone. Depression still malingering.

But some exciting book news cheered me up over the last few days:

The Verge has an article about a new illustrated edition of Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea series is going to be published in October this year. I think this has been planned for a while and Le Guin was able to oversee this to some extent. The illustrator is Charles Vess and the samples in the article look wonderful. My only concern is that this is going to be over 1,000 pages in hardback. I sort of wish they had split it into multiple volumes if it's going to be that big but am very excited regardless.

And there's going to be a new C. J. Sansom Shardlake novel! Synopsis on the publisher's page here. Also published in October.

May 18, 2:14am Top

I just got an Ursala Le Guin book for Mother's Day and I also managed to snag two tickets to the Portland tribute which will be coming up in June. Sad she is gone. I hope the illustrated edition of Earth Sea winds up to be beautiful. Wishing you happy reading.

May 18, 7:42am Top

>93 souloftherose: Oh, I want that Earthsea book! Thanks for posting the link!

I hope you manage to get out of your reading slump soon, or are able to use the time to do other nice things.

May 18, 3:04pm Top

>93 souloftherose: Well the Earthsea book went on my wish list. I had some issues with the later books, but finally resolved for myself that when an author basically tells you there was something very wrong with the conception of a masterpiece, it is worth listening. The limited viewpoints and rolls of women and the glaring wrongness of the death lands were problematical and some really interesting ideas come out in the later works as well as some magnificent bits.

May 18, 3:13pm Top

>85 souloftherose: My copy arrived yesterday, but it has to queue up behind a few others. No, I'm not really aware of others in fantasy (as opposed to science fiction).

>96 quondame: My sentiments exactly, Susan.

May 18, 4:09pm Top

>68 souloftherose: Your BB for The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle tripped me up as I was catching up with your thread, Heather. Interestingly it isn't out in Canada until September either but at least it still has the original title.

Is work treating you better now?

May 19, 7:30am Top

>54 souloftherose: NEW SHARDLAKE!!! Thank you for sharing this, Heather. That's very exciting news.

May 21, 4:00pm Top

>94 Berly: Oh, what a lovely Mother's Day present - which book did you get? I am a lot more jealous of you getting to go to the Portland tribute though.

>95 Sakerfalcon: You're welcome Claire - I think Gollancz are the publisher in the UK. Haven't found they've announced it but there seems to be an Amazon listing for it.

I think the slump is going - I don't think having so many library books out has helped to be honest.

>96 quondame:, >97 ronincats: I think I agree about the later books, although I think I read Tehanu and The Other Wind for the first time without being aware there was any deliberate re-visioning going on. I'm excited to see the new edition will include The Daughter of Odren which I've seen in series lists but never been able to otherwise track down.

>98 Familyhistorian: I hope you enjoy it when it's published Meg. I think I have less anxiety about work at the moment although we are getting into our busiest period. Lots of deadlines being juggled.

>99 lauralkeet: I KNOW!! I'm pretty sure I am going to pre-order it - kind of tempted to try and reread the others first too.

May 21, 11:32pm Top

I can live without the new Earthsea, but a new Sansom ---- SCORE!!!!!
Thanks for the info, Heather! I hope by this time that the slump is slouching its way out of your life.

May 22, 12:12am Top

May 22, 7:31am Top

>101 LizzieD: Thanks Peggy - the new Sansom is very exciting news :-)

>102 Berly: Sounds interesting Kim - funnily enough I had just added that one to my wishlist earlier this month so I must have seen some interesting comments on it.


Rather alarmed at how behind I am with book comments - still back in April when I had a bit of an Aliette de Bodard binge:

Book #43: The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard - 4.4 stars

I'm becoming quite a fan of the novella format and I also really like science fiction about AI and Sherlock Holmes stories, so when I saw the author describe this as 'a gender-swapped Sherlock Holmes in space, with Holmes as eccentric scholar and Watson as grumpy discharged military transport ship' it sounded like exactly my thing and I pre-ordered it. It's a great story and reminded me a little of Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice series (as well as Holmes of course and David Levine's short story Damage which also featured a sentient space ship with PTSD. Strongly recommended.

The story is set in de Bodard's Xuya universe which I think is so far populated with short fiction but no novels. It's an alternate history/alternate future in which China discovered the Americas before the West, and that this led to a global Asian domination of the globe rather than the Western one–and to a space age initially dominated by Confucian powers (basically, Chinese and Vietnamese galactic empires). But, you don't need to know or remember all of that to enjoy any of the Xuya stories or novellas - I've read a few now and they all work well as stand-alones and it's not necessary to know any of the history of the universe. It's just interesting and refreshing to read space based stories which assume a different culture predominates.

Two pieces of short fiction by de Bodard that I didn't count in my 75 total, this time both set in her Dominion of the Fallen which is a post-apocalyptic fantasy set in modern day Paris:

Of Books, and Earth, and Courtship by Aliette de Bodard - 4 stars
Children of Thorns, Children of Water by Aliette de Bodard - 4 stars

Of Books, and Earth, and Courtship is a short story set before the main novels in this series - however I think it makes sense to have read the first novel, The House of Shattered Wings, before reading this book so you get a proper introduction to the characters. It's a short and sweet love story focusing on Selene and Emmanuelle from THoSW.

Children of Thorns, Children of Water is a slightly longer short story set between The House of Shattered Wings and The House of Binding Thorns. It's a prequel to the latter novel and works well being read before that book giving us a fun sneak peek at a couple of the characters (I think the author has described it as Bake Off meets dragons). This was nominated for a Hugo award this year and you can get a free ebook of this novelette by signing up for the author's mailing list.

Which brings me on to:

Book #44: The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard - 3.8 stars

This is the second novel in the Dominion of the Fallen series - they're set in a modern day Paris which has been devastated by some kind of magical war. There are several Great Houses made up of some fallen angels and mortals under their protection. There's also an underwater Vietnamese Dragon kingdom in the Seine. If you're not part of a House or the Dragon Kingdom then you're struggling to survive from day to day. Each book focuses on a different Great House and although events in one book have effects on the next they could be read as standalones.

I really like the world de Bodard has created - she's a Franco-Vietnamese author living in Paris and writing in English - it's unlike other urban fantasy series I've read in a lot of ways. I liked THoBT more than THoSW - mainly because we got to find out more about the Dragon Kingdom. These can be quite dark books as befits the post-apocalyptic world and for some reason I never feel that attached to the characters in this series but I enjoyed this read and am looking forward to the third novel (currently being written).

May 22, 8:01am Top

Book #45: A Tyranny of Queens by Foz Meadows - 4.3 stars

This is the sequel to An Accident of Stars which I read earlier this year - it picks up exactly where AAoS left off and I think it's best to read AToQ as soon as possible after AAoS (even with a gap of only a couple of months left me feeling like I'd probably forgotten a key plot point from the first book).

This series puts the reader on quite a steep curve as the world-building is very dense - AToQ is an easier read in that respect as most of the hard work has been done in the first book. This is an excellent portal fantasy series with a few points that made this really stand out for me. First, the realistic look at the effects on Saffron of travelling to a fantasy world and returning home. Second, the way school bullying was depicted along with the effect on the bullies victims - I know this topic is covered a lot in books but too often, particularly in YA or children's books, the bullying seems to be resolved without there being any long term effects for the victims. Maybe that happens in a lot of real-life cases but it doesn't match my own experience and so it was actually really helpful to see that mirrored in Saffron's experience and acknowledged. Finally, the cast of characters are very diverse and in particular for me, I think 80% of the characters being women scratched an itch I didn't even realise I had.

Strongly recommended to fantasy lovers - only cautiously recommended to readers new to fantasy just because of the density of the world-building initially. I think the series concludes here but I would be very happy to read more books set in this world (or anything else the author writes).

May 22, 11:32am Top

>103 souloftherose: I'll have to catch up on Aliette de Bodard. Have you read The Ship who Sang? It is my hands down favorite of McCaffrey's stories and has a brilliant ship person - although the intelligence isn't artificial, more cyborg which makes the emotional elements work better for me.

May 22, 1:05pm Top

Hi, Heather. Thank you for the helpful review of The Tea Master and the Detective. I've been wondering about it, and based on your positive reaction, now I'll track it down.

May 26, 8:56am Top

Hi Heather!

>68 souloftherose: Ooh, another book bullet. It’s interesting that you mention The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – I just got a used copy from Amazon yesterday. And, Dame Agatha is one of my favorite authors.

I hope your busiest season flies by smoothly work-wise.

May 26, 9:07am Top

>106 jnwelch: What Joe said, Heather.

I just got my copy of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, and I am loving it so far! I had to order it from Book Depository since it is not out here yet.

Hoping your weekend is full of fabulous! And please give my love to Erica.

Edited: May 26, 2:35pm Top

>105 quondame: I haven't read The Ship Who Sang and it sounds exactly the sort of thing I would enjoy so have wishlisted it - thank you!

>106 jnwelch: I hope you enjoy that one Joe!

>107 karenmarie: Hope you enjoy First Fifteen Lives Karen - I've enjoyed reading all Claire North's books. Hope you enjoyed Seven Deaths when it's published in the US.

>108 Crazymamie: So pleased you're enjoying Evelyn Hardcastle Mamie! We are having a lovely weekend so far and its a long weekend in the UK which makes it even better! I will give Erica some strokes from you.

Book #49: Civilisations: How Do We Look? / The Eye of Faith by Mary Beard - 4.0 stars

This is the book to accompany a couple of the episodes (the ones presented by Mary Beard) of the big new BBC art history series (which I think is going across the channel in an edited format at some point). The two topics covered were: (1) art and beauty and how the idea of what beauty should be in one culture influences another and (2) the relationship between art and religion. I enjoyed the book a lot (as I did the two episodes in the TV series presented by Mary Beard) but didn't really feel the book added much to what was covered in the TV programmes.

Edited: May 27, 10:39am Top


I’m just going to wrap your whole thread up, tie it with a bow and mark it as one huge book bullet.

ETA : um... oh, hi heather!

May 27, 11:27am Top

>100 souloftherose: Hi Nina! Oh dear, sorry about all the book bullets :-(

Book #50: Before Mars by Emma Newman - 4.1 stars

Emma Newman's Planetfall series has gone on my 'to be pre-ordered' list so I had this one ready to go on my kindle as soon as it was released. It's a series in the sense of a shared world but so far these books do not need to be read in any particular order and each one stands alone.

Like the other books in this series, Before Mars is a character focused, slow-burn science fictional thriller. The Planetfall world is one where technology is slightly more advanced than ours (3D printing has really taken off) but progress from a societal viewpoint hasn't really happened - inequalities have grown and in general people seem to have fewer rights than they do now.

Also like the other books, the protagonist of Before Mars, Anna Kubrin, has some personal issues she's working through which gradually get revealed to the reader as does the mystery of what exactly is happening on the Martian space station Anna has been sent to. I particularly enjoy the way Newman creates flawed but sympathetic characters in each book who struggle with mental health issues but are not solely defined by those issues.

Whilst Before Mars wasn't my absolute favourite of this series (After Atlas just steals that spot) I really enjoyed this and am very happy to hear she is currently working on another in the same series. Meanwhile I picked up Between Two Thorns for my kindle, which is the first book in the earlier urban fantasy series, The Split Worlds, by the same author.

May 27, 1:07pm Top

Book #51: Camilla, or, A Picture of Youth by Frances Burney - 3.7 stars

This was my primary read throughout April as part of our slow chronological read through Frances Burney's novels - whilst I enjoyed this one it was my least favourite of Burney's books so far and therefore not where I'd recommend anyone starting. It's a more mature work than her first two novels and perhaps because of that, also a little more cynical and a little less light-hearted look at love and marriage in late 18th century society.

May 27, 1:14pm Top

Book #52: Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger - 4.3 stars

I finished a series!! This was a really good ending to the Finishing School series - lots of threads from earlier books are tied up neatly and I was very pleased that Sophronia and Soap got together.

Book #53: Mrs McGinty's Dead by Agatha Christie - 3.5 stars

Solid Poirot mystery from Dame Agatha. Whilst I found this enjoyable it hasn't left that much of an impression other than enjoying the appearance of Ariadne Oliver.

May 27, 1:15pm Top

And that's April!

Edited: May 28, 10:00am Top

Hi, Heather! I was over at Liz's thread asking for advice and she directed me to you. The situation is that I was about to start reading Tooth and Claw but read in the introduction that Jo Walton was inspired by Framley Parsonage in writing it, and now I'm wondering if I ought to hold off on reading it until I get Framley under my belt? I've just finished Dr. Thorne and probably won't get to Framley until late this year or early next. Any advice?

May 28, 2:54pm Top

>68 souloftherose: I’m afraid I’ve just finished reading The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle and could not get on with it at all. I seem to be one of the very few people who have had this reaction as it’s getting a lot of very positive reviews. I notice you mention The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and I enjoyed that one a lot, but Evelyn Hardcastle just didn’t work for me at all. Perhaps you have to be a fan of the country house type of murder mystery?

May 29, 5:19pm Top

>115 rosalita: I loved Tooth and Claw and have never heard of Framley Parsonage, so it's maybe a situation of added depth, but it is quite delightful without that specific background. I do remember it as a send up of fantasy tropes.

May 29, 9:05pm Top

>117 quondame: Good to hear — thanks for giving me your perspective, Sue!

Edited: May 29, 10:46pm Top

I'm checking in, Heather, and will check out a few of your recent BBs. Thanks! Keep on reading and posting! I hope that the Mary Beard series will make it over here eventually. I'm a true fan!

May 30, 3:30pm Top

>115 rosalita:, >117 quondame:, >118 rosalita: Julia, I agree with Susan. I don't think Tooth and Claw will suffer from you not having read Framley Parsonage at all. The only thing I'm not sure about is whether FP would suffer from you having read T&C first - I honestly can't remember how closely T&C sticks to the storyline of FP in terms of the ending. But I tend to feel with Trollope books that whether or not I know what's going to happen doesn't affect my enjoyment of the story. I just thought I'd mention it in case you might feel differently.

I liked Tooth and Claw a lot so hope you enjoy it :-)

>116 SandDune: Oh dear, sorry to hear that Rhian. I do like country house murder mysteries a lot so perhaps that made a difference.

>119 LizzieD: Lovely to see you Peggy! Unfortunately I have sad news for Mary Beard fans in the US - she's going to be edited out of the Civilisations series when it's broadcast by PBS. But the unedited episodes will be available on PBS' website so perhaps you can watch them that way.


I still haven't watched the rest of the Simon Schama episodes or any of the David Olusoga episodes - partly because they are available online here for a year so I keep prioritising other things that will expire soon.

May 30, 8:29pm Top

>120 souloftherose: Thanks for the info about Tooth and Claw, Heather! I think I'm going to wait and read Framley first, but having T&C waiting in the wings should spur me not to let Trollope languish for too long!

I hate that we won't get the full Civilizations series that the BBC produced, and I REALLY hope the reason they cut Mary Beard out isn't because of her appearance as that link suggests. Public television should be better than that!

Jun 3, 4:48am Top

>121 rosalita: 'I REALLY hope the reason they cut Mary Beard out isn't because of her appearance as that link suggests.'

Very much me too. There need to be women on TV who look like normal everyday people.

Edited: Jun 3, 7:30am Top

Thank you so much for the link, Heather! I love the way she looks - as if that means anything at all. What jerks!

Jun 3, 1:50pm Top

>120 souloftherose: PBS is airing Civilizations right now. We've seen Mary Beard in a few of the episodes so far. I realize the PBS programme is edited vs. the BBC original, but she has not been cut entirely.

Jun 4, 9:35am Top

Hi Heather!

>113 souloftherose: I do love it when Ariadne Oliver makes an appearance - all scatty and apple cores everywhere.

Jun 5, 10:37am Top

New Shardlake novel!!! :-D

Also, I'm reading Manners and Mutiny right now. Decided to get the series finished before all my books go onto a boat for a few weeks and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I'm relieved it's a really good ending, because I'm in the middle so I'm still at the "how can this end well for my favourites?" stage and now I have a bit of faith that it will.

Jun 9, 9:20am Top

>123 LizzieD:, >124 lauralkeet: Oh I'm glad to hear Mary Beard is still in the programme in some form!

>125 karenmarie: Yes, apple cores and complaining about how insufferable her Norwegian(?) detective is!

>126 archerygirl: I know!! Glad you're enjoying Manners & Mutiny - sounds like a nice reward for getting so much moving stuff sorted recently! I think I may well get through some more Gail Carrigers over the summer as I think I will definitely need some comfort reading to get through work stuff.


Speaking of which, work is really busy and life outside of work is quite busy - my younger brother got married last Sunday in a legal ceremony at a local registry office and on Thursday we are flying out to Spain for the main wedding ceremony and celebration (albeit it's not legally binding). I am enjoying telling people that my brother is getting married twice this month!

Jun 9, 10:41am Top

>127 souloftherose: Ooh, I hope you have perfect weather (ie not too hot) for your time away.

Jun 10, 12:05pm Top

>128 humouress: Well, I'm not very heat loving so it probably will be a little too hot for me but hopefully cope-able - temps look like they should be 28-30 C and our apartment has air conditioning (and shared pool).

Jun 10, 12:21pm Top

>129 souloftherose: Sounds lovely (that's a bit warmer than night-time temperatures here). Can I come?

Jun 10, 12:31pm Top

So behind with book comments...

Book #55: Poison or Protect by Gail Carriger - 4.4 stars

Having finished the Finishing School series I've decided to catch up on some of Carriger's novellas set in the same universe which are more romance focused. Poison or Protect features one of the side characters from the Finishing School, Preshea Buss, and her career as a full-blown assassin. Known as the Mourning Star she's had several husbands (now deceased in mysterious circumstances) and is now feeling somewhat disillusioned with her chosen career and men in general. And then she takes on one final job and finds herself falling for someone unexpectedly. This was a really sweet and very well-done romance (but definitely more of an adult romance than any of her other books) - although only 200 pages long I didn't think the romance angle felt rushed or forced and left me with warm fuzzy feelings at the end. I'll definitely be reading more of these.

Book #56: All Systems Red by Martha Wells - 5 stars
Book #57: Artificial Condition by Martha Wells - 5 stars

A reread of All Systems Red and then the sequel, Artificial Condition. Sometimes I love a book or series so much I am completely unable to articulate why and this is one of those series. I pre-ordered Rogue Protocol as soon as I'd finished reading AC.

Jun 12, 6:49am Top

>127 souloftherose: I loved the ending to Manners and Mutiny and it was definitely a nice reward for getting so much move stuff done :-) Now that I've read two Carrigers in a row, I'm impatient to get my hands on Competence - I'll have to preorder it for England! And then I can read How to Marry a Werewolf without worrying about possible spoilers :-)

>131 souloftherose: I read Poison or Protect when it first came out, but I'd slightly forgotten who Preshea was at that point. Now I've remembered thanks to two Finishing School books in a row, so I feel the need for a reread.

Jun 12, 12:09pm Top

>132 archerygirl: I hadn't heard about Competence. Thanks for putting it on my radar! :)

Jun 13, 10:33am Top

>133 MickyFine: It had gone under my radar until a couple of weeks ago and then I discovered it's being released next month. I've loved those books, so I'm excited!

Jun 13, 12:17pm Top

>131 souloftherose: I'd not come across the Martha Wells Murderbot books before but they sound great. I'll have to keep a lookout. I'm not managing much reading at the moment though. Brain is failing to function.

Jun 20, 12:43pm Top

>132 archerygirl: I have the Prudence series on my list for a read this summer (I think I will need fluff this summer) but may read Romancing the Inventor first (as I think then I'll be up to date in chronological order. Poison or Protect was really good - sometimes I'm not so keen on romance focused stories with descriptions of sex (I'm not really sure why - possibly I'm just prudish) but I really liked this one.

>133 MickyFine: *waves to Micky*

>135 eclecticdodo: They are really good Jo - I'm not sure what availability they have in the UK outside of ebooks though - certainly my library doesn't have them. But maybe try Audible?


We are back from Spain! Arrived back in the UK last night and am feeling very tired today (combination of travel and not getting to bed until 3am due to the wedding one night) so I am glad I also took today off work.

The wedding was in Benhavis, Andalucia, Spain (the Costa del Sol) which is beautiful, hot and full of British people. As I personally only appreciate one of those things on holiday it's not somewhere I'm planning to return to but I can see why people like it. The food locally was excellent and portion sizes were huge (not sure if this is normal for Spain or the British tourist influence - I suspect the latter).

Here are some photos from my brother's wedding. The third picture is a group shot of both sides of the family and if you look really closely you can see me (ginger hair). Fourth picture is my Mum and Dad with the happy couple. Most of these are photos from guests rather than the professional photos (which won't be ready for a few weeks).

Jun 20, 1:10pm Top

>136 souloftherose: What lovely wedding photos. I was curious about your remark on portion sizes - I can easily understand normal Spanish portions being smaller than portions-for-tourists, but the last time I was in England, sadly too long ago, the portion sizes in the restaurants seemed appetizer sized to this American. No doubt 25 years makes a difference, and I do remember the massively generous breakfast of my first London visit in the 60s.

Jun 20, 3:22pm Top

Lovely photos! Glad the wedding was good even if there were some less than ideal factors. :)

Jun 20, 5:16pm Top

Lovely photos indeed, Heather!

Jun 20, 11:11pm Top

Gorgeous setting for a wedding and handsome couple! Thanks for giving us a look, Heather. I'm glad you're home!

Jun 21, 7:07am Top

Lovely photos, Heather! Best wishes to the happy couple.

We were in Andalusia on our recent holiday, and visited Nerja, a beach town. I wouldn't say it was packed with British tourists, but there were a sizeable number which I attributed to it being late May bank holiday / half term week. I imagine it's heaving during the summer holidays.

Jun 21, 11:47am Top

Hi, Heather.

Your brother's wedding looks beautiful. What a location!

I'm with you on the Martha Wells books; can't wait for the new one.

Jun 21, 5:21pm Top

>136 souloftherose: Beautiful!

My parents used to have an apartment in Marbella (near Malaga) back in the ‘80s; I suppose we contributed to the influx of British tourists :0)

Jun 22, 10:26am Top

>136 souloftherose: I love the family photos, although poor Dan does stick out (up) rather!

Jun 22, 10:38am Top

Lovely photos, Heather!

I broke down an d bought Artificial Conditions since you mentioned it was available on my thread, but I have not gotten to it yet - I think I might indulge in a reread of All Systems Red first even though I just read it not that long ago - LOVED that one.

Jun 23, 8:27am Top

>137 quondame:, >138 MickyFine:, >139 ronincats:, >140 LizzieD:, >141 lauralkeet:, >142 jnwelch:, >143 humouress:, >144 eclecticdodo:, >145 Crazymamie:

Thank you to Susan, Micky, Roni, Peggy, Laura, Joe, Nina, Jo and Mamie for stopping by! Rereading my post I think I may have made it sound more grumpy than I intended (reasons why I shouldn't write things when I'm really tired) - I had a nice holiday and the Costa del Sol is lovely but it's not somewhere I'd choose to return to. I don't like going to hot weather for the sake of it and I can be surrounded by British people for free by just going about my everyday life :-P

My brother and his new wife (:-D) are having a mini-moon on the Amalfi coast of Italy now and sending me lots of pictures. More sun and the sea looks turquoise!

>137 quondame: Yeah, I was thinking more that it was general tourist portion sizes being larger than normal Spanish portion sizes rather than specifically larger portions for British people (although I realise my message wasn't clear about that). I did manage to clear my plate for lunch on our final day - the restaurant we picked seemed to serve slightly smaller portions than the others and we shared a starter between four of us. I was still pretty full though....

>141 lauralkeet: Yes, I can imagine school holidays would make it so much busier. Actually, even holidaying in this country I do appreciate being able to go off-season (and not just because it's cheaper). We're going to Cromer at the beginning of July which is a lovely old-fashioned seaside town but I can imagine it might have quite a different feel in the school holidays.

>142 jnwelch: Glad to hear you're enjoying the Murderbot series Joe!

>143 humouress: We didn't go to Marbella Nina, but my brother and his wife spent some time there on this trip (pool parties and beach parties!) and I think have been there before with friends.

>145 Crazymamie: Ooh, I hope you enjoy Artificial Condition when you get to it Mamie!

Edited: Jun 24, 9:19am Top

So behind with reviews that I'm just going to list books with very brief comments - these are my final reads for May:

Book #58: The Dervish House by Ian McDonald - 4.0 stars
Book #59: In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan - 4.0 stars
DNF: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz - 2.0 stars
Book #60: They Do It With Mirrors by Agatha Christie - 3.4 stars
Book #61: Jane of Lantern Hill by L. M. Montgomery - 3.2 stars
Book #62: Assassin's Quest by Robin Hobb - 3.9 stars
Book #63: The Flowers of Vashnoi by Lois McMaster Bujold - 4.0 stars
Book #64: The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter - 3.5 stars

The Dervish House took me a while to get into - it's a slow-burn, science fictional thriller set in near-future Istanbul, Turkey and the Turkish place-names and character names were one of the things I struggled with until I wrote down a character list. Once I got into this I found this an enjoyable and thought-provoking sf read with a mix of terrorist plots, nanotechnology, mysterious artifiacts and finance but ultimately about how these affect a group of people living in one building (The Dervish House) in Istanbul.

In the Labyrinth of Drakes was another fun and very satisfying read about Lady Isabella Trent's adventures by Marie Brennan. I was happy to see she and Suhail officially become a couple in this episode.

Autonomous was a DNF for me - I'd heard good things about this Nebula nominee and the premise sounded intriguing but I had some issues with consent within some of the character relationships and whilst I think this was deliberate rather than accidental on the author's part I just wasn't enjoying the book so gave up.

They Do it With Mirrors was another solid Miss Marple mystery. This was a reread where I could remember the details of the plot - I always enjoy these with Christie because I can then spot the points at which she almost outright tells the reader the solution at the same time as immediately distracting them from this with something else. Particularly memorable for this read was the setting - a rehabilitation centre for young delinquents post WWII.

Jane of Lantern Hill is a children's story by the author of Anne of Green Gables - it was nice enough but a bit too sweet for my tastes. Probably I would have enjoyed it more when I was younger.

Assassin's Quest is the final volume in Hobb's Farseer trilogy - I found the first part of the book quite hardgoing (Fitz on his own being depressed and bitter is not much fun to read about) but this really picked up pace after that and ended with a very satisfying conclusion.

The Flowers of Vashnoi - new Vorkosigan novella! Alwaus good.

The Magic Toyshop - I'd only previously read Carter's collection of fairy tale retellings, The Bloody Chamber, which I'd enjoyed a lot. The Magic Toyshop is a strange book - very well written and atmospheric but I'm still not really sure what I thought about it.

Jun 25, 8:49am Top

Great pictures, Heather. Thanks for sharing. It looks like you had perfect weather.

Jul 2, 7:54am Top

Love the pictures!

Jul 2, 7:07pm Top

Heather--Great pictures and awesome reads!! All Systems Red and AC made me think of my latest audio which is The Singularity Trap by Dennis Taylor (also known for the Bobiverse series). I might have to get those...

Jul 10, 10:45am Top

>148 BLBera:, >149 The_Hibernator:, >150 Berly: Thank you Beth, Rachel and Kim!

We're back home again after holiday #2 - a week by the sea in Cromer, Norfolk with some friends, our just-turned-4-year-old god-daughter and her twin sisters (not quite 2). Lots of toddler meltdowns (more from the 4 year old than the 2 year olds) but lots of fun and good memories too and thankfully the temperatures at the coast were slightly cooler than the rest of the country.

As lovely as going on holiday twice in the space of three weeks is, I am feeling rather behind with, well, everything as a result. Going to attempt to do a summary of my June reading next...

Jul 10, 11:17am Top

I was going to do the whole of June in one post but as I started writing it became easier to group books into threes, so first three books from June:

Book #65: Nemesis Games by James S. A. Corey - 4.4 stars
Book #66: Ghost Ship by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller - 3.0 stars
Book #67: Lila by Marilynne Robinson - 5 stars

Nemesis Games is the fifth volume in the very enjoyable Expanse series and one of the best instalments yet - the Rocinante is being refurbished and each of the four crew members takes some time off to deal with some personal stuff. We get to find out more about each one's backstory and midway through the book there's a universe altering event which left me unable to put the book down from that point on. So as soon as I finished this one I went out and bought Babylon's Ashes. Great stuff

Ghost Ship is the 14th novel in Sharon Lee and Steven Miller's Liaden universe by chronological order and the 11th I've read (there are three prequels I haven't read yet). This novel tries to bring together the Theo Waitley story from Fledgling and Saltation and the story of the Korval clan which we last saw in I Dare. I'm not sure it really succeeded - the narrative flits between too many different characters with the result that it felt like nothing really happened to anyone... I know a lot of people love this series and I enjoyed Agent of Change through to I Dare but I'm wondering if I think the authors should have left it there.... I may at some point try Dragon Ship but I don't feel very excited about the prospect at the moment.

Lila by Marilynne Robinson was wonderful - another series book but the Gilead trilogy (as it stands at the moment - a 4th book is in progress) is a collection of companion novels where each book tells almost the same events from a particular character's perspective. You could start with any book and each book builds upon the others in the series (in whichever order they're read) to give a richer insight into these characters. It's about faith and doubt and questioning - there are lots of excellent reviews on the book page which do a better job of writing about this book than I can. I recommend ctpress's review.

Jul 10, 12:36pm Top

Oh good, Heather. I'm another one who loved Lila (and the others). And I'm hooked on the Liaden books, although I do think those early ones so far were the best. I'd like to see the Clutch Turtles in every book. :-)

Jul 10, 2:45pm Top

>153 jnwelch: Oh good point, Joe - I've missed the clutch turtles! I also missed Shan, Priscilla and Pat as well as the norbears....

Book #68: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman - 4.1 stars
Book #69: New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson - 4 stars
Book #70: Seeker's Mask by P. C. Hodgell - 3.0 stars

The Invisible Library is the first book in a series I've been meaning to try for a while and grabbed the first book at £0.99 on kindle recently (still available at this price as of today). This is a really fun series - librarians, secret societies, adventure, a pseudo-Victorian steampunk world and a kick-ass heroine. Very much looking forward to reading the other books.

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson is one I've been meaning to read for a while. KSR is a detailed writer and I can completely understand people finding his books too long and slow-moving but I really enjoy this aspect of his writing. As the title suggests, New York 2140, is set in New York city in 2140 when climate change has resulted in sea levels rising such that most parts of New York are underwater. There's a broad cast of characters (a reality TV star, a building superintendent, a financier, two river-children) and a number of themes: climate change (obviously) but also finance and capitalism more generally. It reminded me in some ways of Ian McDonald's The Dervish House and John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar (but less psychedelic than the latter). Negatives? Nothing major - the ending was fairly optimistic which, sadly, I'm not sure is that realistic and I felt my lack of familiarity with New York (but that's what google is for).

Seeker's Mask is the third book in Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath series and was another one I struggled with a bit. I like what Hodgell is doing (when I can figure out what she's doing) but I still feel like there are too many hints at bigger themes which never get resolved whilst Jamie gets into interminable scrapes. Another series where I'm undecided about continuing but as I have To Ride a Rathorn as part of the Seeker's Bane omnibus I will probably attempt that at some point.

Jul 10, 3:24pm Top

>152 souloftherose: To my mind Ghost Ship is the most fragmentary of the 'newer' set of Liaden™ books - especially because the novella/novelette Prodigal Son leaves a huge hole by not being included.
>153 jnwelch: The Clutch Turtles drive me batty. They are so much deus ex machina. Fun, but I feel they are a prime symptom of why Liaden™ books aren't heavyweight players.
>154 souloftherose: That is one strange cover for Seeker's Mask

Jul 10, 3:46pm Top

>154 souloftherose: I just read The Invisible Library recently myself and found it an utter delight. Glad to see you enjoyed it also. :)

Jul 10, 9:24pm Top

>60 souloftherose: Oh my goodness. That cover is gorgeous.

>93 souloftherose: I'm torn. It sounds super interesting. I loved the first three Shardlakes, but I was soooooooo angry at Revelation.

Jul 12, 11:37am Top

Hi Heather - The Invisible Library sounds good, and I've been wondering about the Robinson, so you've hit me with a couple for my WL. Thanks, I guess.

Your holiday sounds like fun. I've just returned from one as well, and I understand what you mean about catching up with things.

Edited: Jul 12, 1:06pm Top

>155 quondame: Ah, too bad. It probably shows my lack of taste. I get a kick out of the Clutch Turtles, and miss them.

I've been enjoying that Invisible Library series, Heather. Now I'm waiting for the new one to come out.

Jul 12, 11:15pm Top

>152 souloftherose: So glad you liked Lila, Heather. I am a Robinson fan and very excited to learn that there will be another in that series. I wonder which character she will feature next?

Thank you for sharing the gorgeous pictures of your brother’s wedding. That setting is perfect.

Jul 14, 11:47am Top

Happy weekend!

Jul 15, 2:52pm Top

Happy what's-left-of-the weekend!

Edited: Jul 15, 4:24pm Top

>155 quondame: That's helpful to know Ghost Ship is the most fragmentary - it encourages me to give Dragon Ship a chance at some point. Although maybe I should pause and read the next short story collection first, Liaden Universe Constellation II, which a quick google tells me has the Prodigal Son novella in it.

Re the cover for Seeker's Mask - it is quite strange isn't it? I'm reading the Baen omnibus Seeker's Bane so just picked a random cover from the book page for Seeker's Mask and now I can't remember why I chose that one!

>156 MickyFine: It was great fun, Micky.

>157 libraryperilous: Oh dear, I have to confess I can't remember the details of Revelation at all but looking at my rating it seems to have been one of my favourites in the series. I think I found Heartstone a bit slow-moving compared to the other books but enjoyed Lamentation very much.

I think they stand-alone very well so if Tombstone sounds appealing you could probably just jump back in.

>158 BLBera: I feel like I'm catching up when it comes to life Beth, but definitely not when it comes to LT. Now on top of my laundry at least.... Sorry for adding to your wishlist!

>159 jnwelch: Not lack of taste Joe, just different appreciations :-) Lovely to hear more Invisible Library love - not sure why it's taken me so long to start this series.

>160 Donna828: That's a good question Donna, and I don't know the answer but it's interesting to speculate! I guess if she moved forward in time it could be Lila and the Rev Ames son? Otherwise someone else from Broughton's family I suppose - maybe Broughton himself?

>161 The_Hibernator:, >162 Berly: Thanks Rachel and Kim!


I had good intentions of finishing my June comments this weekend but we're still experiencing our ridiculous heatwave and it's just too hot and I've also been really tired this weekend (the tiredness may just be first week back at work syndrome). I know it's not that hot compared to other countries but no-one has air-con in their homes here. And I'm not really a gardener but I like there being green things in my garden and they're all dying. I walked to a park near work one lunchtime this week and the trees are shedding their leaves as if it's the beginning of autumn and I can only assume it's because it hasn't rained here for weeks. I like my country, I like the overcast skies and the rain and I want it back! (And more seriously I'm concerned about what this might mean for global issues of climate change).

Edited: Jul 15, 5:11pm Top

I know it's not that hot compared to other countries but no-one has air-con in their homes here.


I just got through bitching to an American friend about our weather, and finished up with, "I know it's not that cold compared to other countries but no-one has central heating here."

Sorry about your garden issues, though. I know what you mean: our plant, bird and insect cycles have been out of whack for years because of changing climate patterns.

Jul 16, 8:26am Top

I hope you get some relief from the heat soon, Heather. I also don't have air conditioning, and feel a lack of energy when it's hot, so I understand.

Jul 17, 12:23pm Top

>164 lyzard: "I know it's not that cold compared to other countries but no-one has central heating here." Ooof, that doesn't sound fun either.

>165 BLBera: Thank you Beth - it's slightly cooler here today and a bit overcast but still no rain (I now find that I am getting ridiculously jealous when I see friends in other parts of the country mention that it's rained!). But temperatures are going up again tomorrow. The long range forecast seems to indicate that this is expected to continue for another month....

Jul 17, 12:29pm Top

Book #71: How to Stop Time by Matt Haig - 3.5 stars
Book #72: The Black Tides of Heaven by J Y Yang - 3.5 stars
Book #73: Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee - 4.5 stars

Matt Haig's an author I've followed on social media for a while and yet it's taken me ages to get round to reading his books. How to Stop Time is his latest novel (he also writes non-fiction) and this was a sweet, easy read about a character who ages at a much slower rate and has lived for 400 years and how he comes to find meaning in his life.

The Black Tides of Heaven is part of JY Yang's series of novellas about a pair of twins in an Asian-influenced fantasy setting with an interesting approach to gender (people are born genderless and then choose their gender as a coming of age event). I enjoyed this story which is told from one of the twin's perspectives but didn't love it as much as I expected and felt a little distant from the characters. I've heard the next novella (The Red Threads of Fortune is more engaging and plan to continue with these.

Ninefox Gambit did live up to expectations and I thought this was excellent. It's hard, military science fiction with maths as magic that dumps you straight in without explanations but if you can get through the first few chapters this is a wonderfully twisty tale about power and its abuse. Reminded me in some ways of Leckie's Imperial Radch books so I'm going to recommend this series for Leckie fans (it's a trilogy).

Jul 17, 12:50pm Top

Book #74: Saga, Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - 3.5 stars
Book #76: Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - 3.8 stars
Book #80: Saga, Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - 4.2 stars
Book #81: Saga, Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - 4.3 stars

I've been trying to catch up on the Saga GN's in order to read Volume 7 for the Hugo voting - unfortunately having read so many volumes close together I now can't really remember the details of what happened in each volume except to say that Vol. 4 was my least favourite (probably because I left such a long gap between reading this and reading Vol 3) and they got better with each volume.

Hoping to read Vol. 8 soon!

Jul 17, 1:24pm Top

Book #75: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor - 3.2 stars
Book #77: Summer in Orcus by T. Kingfisher - 3.9 stars

Okorafor's Who Fears Death was a book I wanted to like more than I did - it's set in a future, post-apocalyptic Africa where a young girl who was born of rape discovers she has magical powers. Encompassing rape, genocide and female genital mutilation this is not always an easy book to read but I think I struggled more with the characterisation than the darker elements of the book. The main character, Onyesonwu, is often (understandably) very angry but during the second half of the book I started to find this rather relentless and lost interest a little. Also, I have no idea what the ending meant. So, mixed feelings from me and I've enjoyed Okorafor's later books more.

Summer in Orcus was part of my Hugo reading (although technically it's nominated for the World Science Fiction Society Award for Best Young Adult Book which is not a Hugo). I've been aware of T. Kingfisher as an author of several fairytale retellings and fantasy novels but hadn't read any of her books before (she also writes under the name Ursula Vernon). Summer in Orcus is a sweet and enjoyable fairytale/portal fantasy about a young girl sent to a magical world by Baba Yaga.

Jul 17, 1:26pm Top

And that's June finished with (plus I snuck two books from July in so I could comment all of my Saga reads at once)!

Jul 17, 3:03pm Top

I haven't read any of Matt Haig's non-fiction, yet, and one of his novels was a miss for me but I do want to thank you for following me on Twitter and making me aware of his feed. I am definitely going to keep reading his work.

Jul 17, 6:57pm Top

Belated congratulations on reaching 75, Heather!
I see you already passed that milestone in June :-)

Jul 17, 10:28pm Top

Oh, I missed it! Adding my congratulations on your 75 Heather!

Jul 18, 7:30am Top

Congratulations on reaching 75 books read, Heather!

You've been sending a number of BB's my way. And what a lovely cover Summer in Orcus has, would like to read it just for that.

We're having a too long lasting warm and dry spell as well (I'm in Holland)
No AC here as well, I'd love to have those shutters that French houses have, but I'm a renter, in a housing complex that's got monumental status. So it will take some doing to be allowed something like that. But shouldn't we adapt, there really is a climate change going on!

Jul 18, 9:30am Top

It’s been a while since we had rain, too; this in a climate where we get rain every two or three days even in non-monsoon season.

Jul 18, 9:50am Top

Gosh I completely missed that you reached 75. Congratulations.

Jul 18, 12:00pm Top

Congratulations on blowing past that 75 book mark, Heather!

This is a climate where we don't expect any rain from April to October--the problem has been that we haven't been getting any rain to speak of during our rainy season in the winter!

Jul 18, 6:29pm Top


Jul 18, 10:26pm Top

>167 souloftherose: Oooooohhhh (the Yoon Ha Lee). I've had this on the TBR list since it was announced. Time to bump it up, I think. I had trouble getting into the Yang book and returned it to the library unfinished.

The Kingfisher book sounds fun.

Jul 18, 11:23pm Top

Hi, Heather. I'm encouraged by your comments on *9fox*. I have it and mean to read it - maybe even this year. You've helped.

Jul 19, 7:48am Top

Hi Heather; I'm just wondering if you think we're continuing with the group read of the Robin Hobb books. If so, I'll pencil the next one in for next month; I'm a bit behind.

Jul 19, 2:18pm Top

Felicitations on reaching the magic number, Heather!

Jul 19, 9:04pm Top

Congratulations, Heather!

Jul 23, 8:47am Top

Congrats on reaching 75, Heather. Who Fears Death sounds interesting. I might check to see if my library has a copy.

I hope your weather is cooler.

Jul 24, 5:44am Top

Thanks to Anita, Nina, EllaTim, calm, Roni, Jim, Micky, Darryl and Beth for congratulations on reading 75 books which I had completely failed to notice myself!

>171 calm: After liking but not loving How to Stop Time I'm wondering if he's an author I appreciate more on social media than in his novels - but I will try some more of his writing and his non-fiction too. Glad you also find his posts helpful.

>172 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita - I have a tentative target of 150 books for the year so hopefully I'm on track to meet that.

>174 EllaTim: Hi EllaTim! Sorry to hear you're struggling with the heat too. There have been a couple of articles in the papers here about how the heatwave is not just a UK phenomenon which is concerning from a global perspective. I'm encouraged that a lot of countries and businesses have committed to decreasing their carbon emissions but sometimes I worry it may already be too late in some ways.

>175 humouress: I miss the rain!

>177 ronincats: Oh that doesn't sound good Roni. Some areas in the country have hose-pipe bans starting but apparently our area has enough water reserves not to restrict water usage for now.

>179 libraryperilous:, >180 LizzieD: Hope you both enjoy 9fox! I've since finished Raven Stratagem (good but not quite as good) and have Revenant Gun waiting for me.

>181 humouress: Thank you for the prompt Nina - I keep meaning to go and post on the group read threads and then not getting round to it. I would like to continue the group read but July has sort of got away from me. August would also work for me for Ship of Magic so I'll post about it on the group read thread to let people know.

>184 BLBera: 'I hope your weather is cooler.' It is not cooler - it's actually even warmer..... But rain is forecast for Friday this week and after that it will cool down to only 24C (normally considered hot weather by British summer time standards but now anticipated as pleasantly cool).

Ok, new thread time.....

Jul 24, 5:55am Top

Congratulations on 75, Heather!

We hit 22C today, in the middle of winter; not sure what summer is going to serve up...

Jul 24, 12:34pm Top

>186 lyzard: Well 22C sounds quite appealing to me right now, but certainly worrying as a winter temperature!


New thread is pretty much set up here - please come and join me.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2018

405 members

122,735 messages


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