wookiebender's 100 books in 2019

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wookiebender's 100 books in 2019

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Edited: Dec 27, 2019, 9:32pm

Placeholder for book list & stats. :)

1. The Tears of Autumn, Charles McCarry ****
2. Babel-17, Samuel R. Delany ***
3. Wonders of a Godless World, Andrew McGahan ****1/2
4. She, H. Rider Haggard ***
5. City of Crows, Chris Womersley ****

6. Thin Air, Richard Morgan ***1/2
7. Binti, Nnedi Okorafor, ****1/2
8. Love & Friendship, Whit Stillman, ***1/2
9. The Sudden Appearance of Hope, Claire North, ****1/2
10. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, Mackenzi Lee, ***1/2

11. The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt, ****1/2
12. Daytripper, Gabriel Ba & Fabio Moon, ****
13. The Shepherd's Life, James Rebanks, ***1/2
14. If Cats Disappeared From the World, Genki Kawamura, ****
15. Planetfall, Emma Newman, ****1/2

16. All Systems Red, Martha Wells, ****
17. Artificial Condition, Martha Wells, ****
18. Heartstopper, Alice Oseman, ***1/2
19. The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker, ****1/2
20. Calling Romeo, Alexandra Potter, ***

21. A Civil Contract, Georgette Heyer, ***1/2
22. Steelheart, Brandon Sanderson, ***
23. Rogue Protocol, Martha Wells, ****
24. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë, *****
25. Rosemary and Rue, Seanan McGuire, ***1/2

26. A Local Habitation, Seanan McGuire, ****
27. Beowulf, Seamus Heaney, *****
28. Exit Strategy, Martha Wells, ****
29. In the Dark Spaces, Cally Black, ****
30. Angel, Elizabeth Taylor, ****1/2

31. One Day, David Nicholls, ***1/2
32. The Masqueraders, Georgette Heyer, ****
33. Gingerbread, Helen Oyeyemi, ***1/2
34. April Lady, Georgette Heyer, ***1/2
35. Empire of Silence, Christopher Ruocchio, ***1/2

36. Between Two Thorns, Emma Newman, ***1/2
37. A Boy and his Dog at the End of the World, C. A. Fletcher, ****
38. This Monstrous Thing, Mackenzi Lee, ****
39. Children of Ruin, Adrian Tchaikovsky, *****
40. The October Man, Ben Aaronovitch, ***1/2

41. Boy Swallows Universe, Trent Dalton, *****
42. A Noble Radiance, Donna Leon, ***1/2
43. The Dutch House, Ann Patchett, ****
44. Winter Tide, Ruthanna Emrys, ***
45. Fatal Remedies, Donna Leon, ****

46. An Artificial Night, Seanan McGuire, ****
47. Heartstopper Volume Two, Alice Oseman, ****
48. What I Like About Me, Jenna Guillaume, ***1/2
49. Killing It: She's One Bad Mother, Asia Mackay, ***1/2
50. The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert, ****1/2

51. Darkdawn, Jay Kristoff, ***1/2
52. Dogs of War, Adrian Tchaikovsky, ****
53. Late Eclipses, Seanan McGuire, ****
54. A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar, ****1/2
55. Circles of Deceit, Nina Bawden, ****

56. A Night In the Lonesome October, Roger Zelazny, ****
57. The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal, ****1/2
58. The Nonesuch, Georgette Heyer, ****
59. Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood, ****
60. Rose Cottage, Mary Stewart, ***1/2

61. Still Life, Louise Penny, ***1/2
62. Finding Baba Yaga, Jane Yolen, ****
63. Moxyland, Lauren Beukes, ***
64. A World of Other People, Steven Carroll, ****
65. The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare, G.K. Chesterton ***

66. A Blunt Instrument, Georgette Heyer, ****
67. One Salt Sea, Seanan McGuire, ****
68. Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Kate Atkinson, ****1/2
69. Geekerella, Ashley Poston, ****

Dec 30, 2018, 2:16pm

Welcome back! Happy reading and good luck with your challenge in 2019!

Dec 30, 2018, 3:04pm

Hi Wookie.

Best wishes for a great 2019. Iam looking forward to following your reading and picking up some bullets along the way.

Dec 30, 2018, 9:31pm

Welcome back wookie !

Dec 31, 2018, 8:01pm

Happy election year, compatriot!

Jan 1, 2019, 11:01pm

Dropping off my star, Tania!

Jan 2, 2019, 5:03pm

Hello all! Lovely to be back here, although I did work out I only read 53 books last year, so it's going to be an uphill challenge this year! :D

Jan 2, 2019, 5:10pm

1. The Tears of Autumn, Charles McCarry

I did enjoy this second foray into the spying world of Paul Christopher, this time delving into the assassination of JFK. Well written, interesting characters, good plot.

My quibble would be that he was too perfect, he didn't make enough mistakes - the first book (The Miernik Dossier) had more of a sense of the insanity of the spying game. (But don't take that as a big negative, it was still a lot of fun, and I still have several more Paul Christopher novels on the shelves that I'm looking forward to reading.)



Jan 2, 2019, 10:17pm

Good to see you here!

Edited: Jan 10, 2019, 8:38pm

2. Babel-17, Samuel R. Delany

A sci-fi classic, rather oddly written which threw me out of the story at times (the introduction called it "over written" and argued for that being a Good Thing; I beg to differ). And the characters all seemed very one dimensional.

But some very interesting things to say about language, and the language in question (Babel-17) is pretty damned great.

Mixed feelings on this one, but glad I read it. :)


BOOK ACQUIRED: September 2017

Edited: Jan 10, 2019, 8:38pm

3. Wonders of a Godless World, Andrew McGahan

I was sad to hear that the Australian author Andrew McGahan has pancreatic cancer and not long to live. There is a wonderful summary of his works here - https://dailyreview.com.au/praise-andrew-mcgahan/79479/ - and I realised I've only read his YA "Ship Kings" books (recommended, btw). So it was time to dust this one off and give it a go.

And I loved it. It is odd, I'm not sure if it has universal appeal, but I stayed up late reading it and enjoying the bizarre story, narrated by The Orphan, a young woman who can barely understand spoken language (or any sort of signifiers, I feel). She works cleaning the local hospital on a small island, and makes friends with The Foreigner, a comatose unknown young man.

Yep, weird. But great.


BOOK ACQUIRED: May 2010 (yep, it was very dusty)

Jan 14, 2019, 6:20pm

4. She, H. Rider Haggard

Good to finally read about She Who Must Be Obeyed, but I found the archaic "thee" and "thou" style language she spoke in rather difficult to wade through. There were some good moments of humour from our narrator, Holly, which kept it bubbling along.


BOOK ACQUIRED: I have no idea. It's been on the shelves for years, obviously bought second hand somewhere. Sadly, it's falling apart so I think I shall be the last reader of this copy.

Jan 17, 2019, 6:21am

Wonders of a Godless World sounds like my kind of book, so-much-so that I have just bought the Kindle version. I am so glad you recommended it.

Jan 21, 2019, 6:24am

I hope you like it! :)

Jan 21, 2019, 6:41am

McGahan - now that is a name that throws me back to Uni days! If Andrew Bolt calls him an unhinged propogandist, I will have to revisit!

Jan 21, 2019, 6:56am

5. City of Crows, Chris Womersley

Set in 17th century France, this is a very atmospheric novel around recently widowed Charlotte Picot, who flees her village with her only surviving child, only to have him kidnapped on the road while she is left for dead.

Not exactly a bundle of laughs, this did take a bit of time to settle into (and even then, the constant death and evilness of people was off putting).

But the plot around witchcraft, when it kicks in, was very well researched and fascinatingly open ended, in that maybe the witchcraft was working or maybe it was all just one big coincidence.

Overall, I did like this, but I think there was a lot of shock at the violence and it wasn't what I was initially expecting. Worth persevering however.


BOOK ACQUIRED: December 2018

Jan 21, 2019, 6:57am

>15 captainsflat: I hadn't realised Bolt had an opinion on McGahan (and of course it had to be negative, Bolt is such a tool), but it just makes me want to read more McGahan. :D

Edited: Jan 31, 2019, 1:24am

6. Thin Air, Richard Morgan

I'm not a fan of Morgan's works (well, I started Altered Carbon once, and didn't like it), but this was chosen for my book club, and I thought I'd better give it a go at least.

Thrillers aren't really my cup of tea, but I did appreciate how sci-fi brought some new aspects to the genre: Hak is superpowered, because he's genetically enhanced and modified, which I can get behind more than a Jack Reacher style of hero; and having the corrupt system on a future colonised Mars was fun, I really liked his world building.

I don't think I'll read another novel by Morgan (well, unless my book club decides for one again), but this was a good page turner and I did enjoy it more than I thought I would.


BOOK ACQUIRED: December 2018

Feb 11, 2019, 9:44pm

7. Binti, Nnedi Okorafor

An excellent and short book about Binti, who is leaving her home, her family, her tribe, her desert, and her planet to study mathematics at Oomza University.

Highly recommended, I loved my time with Binti.


BOOK ACQUIRED: December 2018

Feb 11, 2019, 9:50pm

8. Love & Friendship: In Which Jane Austen's Lady Susan Vernon is Entirely Vindicated, Whit Stillman

An amusing retelling of Jane Austen's Lady Susan by Lady Susan's nephew, who feels that an Anonymous Authoress has slandered his charming relative.

Said nephew is even more deliriously stupid than Pride and Prejudice's Mr Collins, which is saying something.

Luckily the book also had the actual text of Lady Susan because I hadn't read it previously and I was a little lost at the start. Lady Susan is one hell of a character, I'd love to run into her again (in fiction form, I think I'd be no match for her in real life!).


BOOK ACQUIRED: January 2019

Feb 11, 2019, 10:41pm

>19 wookiebender:. Wookie, I remember enjoying her Who Fears Death, must get to Binti, thanks and hope all is good with you.

Edited: Feb 11, 2019, 10:52pm

>20 wookiebender: Have you seen the film, Love and Friendship? It's based partly on Lady Susan and is very funny. Kate Beckinsale is wonderful as Lady Susan. Here is the Guardian review.

Just noticed that the film's director is the writer of your book.

Feb 12, 2019, 5:39pm

>19 wookiebender: I enjoyed Binti. I started listening to it as an Audible book but because of my hearing problem I was having trouble working out names so I had to buy the Kindle book to read along with the Audible book. I really need to read the other books in the series.

Feb 12, 2019, 9:28pm

>21 bryanoz: I did read Lagoon by her a year or two ago and remember being a bit underwhelmed. This was given to me by a friend, so glad she did. I'll have to search our Who Fears Death.

>22 pamelad: I haven't seen the movie, I'll have to check it out again. I rather like Kate Beckinsale, she doesn't often get a good role, so nice to see she's the wonderfully wicked Lady Susan.

>23 Zozette: I can imagine those names would have been tricky with an audiobook. :)

Feb 12, 2019, 11:12pm

9. The Sudden Appearance of Hope, Claire North

One day, Hope is forgotten. Her parents no longer remember her, neither do her classmates or her teachers. Her world is filled with making first impressions, over and over again. She ends up a high end thief, since people can't remember talking to her (or her actually taking the loot), although she does have to be careful - she leaves a digital footprint, people can remember her emails, and she can be captured on film.

At the start of the book, she's preparing to steal some very impressive diamonds in the middle of a launch party for Perfection, the (incredibly creepy) phone app that aims to make you perfect. Not everything goes according to plan, and her actions kick off a rambling - but fascinating - story, about wealth and poverty, the search for perfection, the dumbing-down of social discourse, digital addictions, and maintaining your sanity when you are so easily forgotten.

I'm making it sound more like a romp than it is - Hope does have issues due to her condition, and since she's narrating the story, it does tend to fall apart on occasion as she's got the tendency to spiral into a stream-of-consciousness listing and counting facts. (My copy was also an uncorrected proof, so had a number of typos, meaning I was never quite sure if the lack of punctuation in her stream-of-consciousness bits were stylistically intended, or accidental.)

Hope is a great person to hang out with, there was plenty of plot, I did like the tangents she went on, and I was on the edge of my seat at times (especially when she gets hurt and is in hospital and doctors kept on forgetting her...).


BOOK ACQUIRED: November 2018

Feb 12, 2019, 11:21pm

10. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, Mackenzi Lee

Young Henry Montague (Monty to his friends) is being sent on his Grand Tour with his best friend Percy and his younger sister Felicity, and will be expected to stop his wild drinking and partying when he returns, leaving Percy to study law in Holland and Felicity at a finishing school in Marseilles.

The problem is, Monty is madly in love with Percy. (And Felicity would much rather be at a real school.)

Throw in a stolen treasure box and highwaymen, and the trio are on the run and well off their original plan of enlightening lectures and concerts planned by their "bear leader" who they conveniently lose early on.

It's a fun romp of a YA romance, Monty grows up on their adventures, Percy is a lovely chap to be in love with, and Felicity has her own book coming out, The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, which she completely deserves.


BOOK ACQUIRED: February 2019

Mar 3, 2019, 4:40am

11. The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

Everything I ever wanted from a book. More plot than you can poke a stick at; characters that you want to yell at (but understand why they keep doing the wrong thing); and so much real world / historical info that I'm constantly Googling (when not reading) to find out more.

Lost half a star because it ended. (Possibly a bit lacklusterly, possibly I just had too many bloody interruptions in those last few chapters. I should go back and re-read to confirm if I was disappointed in the ending, or just disappointed with my family interrupting constantly.)



Mar 3, 2019, 4:45am

12. Daytripper, Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba

This was a re-read, because we've been watching Umbrella Academy on Netflix (so good, I'm buying the books asap), and I recognised Gabriel Ba's name. I stand by my original review & rating, which was:

A great collection of short graphic stories about Brás de Oliva Domingos, a writer of obituaries. Each story looks at a different time in his life, bringing different aspects of him to the fore (meeting his bombshell girlfriend in Brazil; dealing with a very famous father; writing his own acclaimed book), this is a great meditation on life and death.

I don't want to give away too much about this book, it is a great read, and part of the charm was seeing the layers added to Brás' character in such different ways without knowing what was coming up.



Mar 3, 2019, 4:55am

13. The Shepherd's Life, James Rebanks

I found this a bit of a slow start (not nearly as much plot as The Goldfinch), and the younger Rebanks is not someone I liked. However, he grew up well, and it is an interesting life he is living. I'm curious to pass this onto my Mum (who did grow up on a dairy farm, unlike her urban children) and see what she thinks of it. (She likes her urban life and is no way keen to return to country life.)

It is quite beautifully written, and I had no idea of the life of a fell shepherd (to be honest, all I knew about the Lakes District is Elizabeth Bennett plans to go there with her aunt and uncle). Also interesting was Beatrix Potter's involvement in the area, I had no idea she did anything other than write kids' books.


BOOK ACQUIRED: January 2019

Edited: Mar 5, 2019, 5:58am

14. If Cats Disappeared From the World, Genki Kawamura

This was a(n early) birthday present from my Dad, who is another cat fan. He picked it mostly for the cover (which is quite adorable), but I found it quite a moving story, although a bit quirky at times.

Our narrator discovers that he only has a short time to live. As he is coming to terms with this, the devil appears to him and promises him another day of life, but something will have to disappear from the world in exchange.

This leads to our narrator examining his life up to this date - his missed opportunities and relationships - and I was slightly teary by the end of the book.


BOOK ACQUIRED: February 2019

Mar 5, 2019, 7:47am

hmpp, fiction? you got what you're looking for


advertising level 1000000000000

Mar 5, 2019, 7:52pm

Great reading Wookie! I think I heard the Lakes Shepherd interview on Life Matters - it was really interesting, and I hope to get to the book some day. All the others seem worth reading too, although life without cats ... I don’t know if I even want to imagine!

Mar 5, 2019, 8:24pm

I also enjoyed If Cats Disappeared From the World and it made me think what three things would I choose or refuse to choose to disappear from the world.

Mar 6, 2019, 1:08am

>29 wookiebender: >32 captainsflat:. I agree with you about this book. It took me a while to get into it properly but I am glad I persisted. I grew up in the country, but not as wild a region as Rebanks.

He was recently on BBC’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ programme and was fascinating, and made a great selection of music, too.

Mar 10, 2019, 7:42am

>32 captainsflat: I definitely wouldn't want to live without cats, they're such charming creatures. :)

>33 Zozette: I couldn't live without my phone, or cats. Actually, I think I can think of more I can't live without than things I can live without. :D

>34 Eyejaybee: He is a very interesting person, I shall try and track down the DID episode with him.

Mar 18, 2019, 11:42pm

15. Planetfall, Emma Newman

I came across Emma Newman through her charming podcast, Tea & Jeopardy ("Tea, conversation, and mild peril"), where she talks to various sci-fi/fantasy authors in her "tea lair", and then said author has to escape some mild peril they are put into by Emma's jealous butler, Latimer. Sadly, there hasn't been a new episode for over a year.

Double sadly, I tried reading one of her husband's books first (he plays Latimer, and the occasionally-put-in-less-than-mild-peril, The Husband), The Vagrant (by Peter Newman) and it was unreadable.

Triple sadly, he won an award for that, and Emma Newman did not win an award for Planetfall, which was an excellent science fiction novel. (Looks like she won something for the next in the series, however, which I'd love to read.)

On a distant planet, a group of humans have set up a colony, where they are living in a (mostly) harmonious utopia. Slowly you find out why they are there, and what lengths people will go to in order to maintain the harmony.

Highly recommended.


BOOK ACQUIRED: February 2019.

Mar 18, 2019, 11:48pm

16. All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries, Martha Wells

This was a lot of fun. The Murderbot (it has no name) is far more interested in watching their entertainment feed (which sounded like some very soapy soap operas, but were nicely underdescribed, so it's up to the reader), than doing a half-assed job for The Company, protecting humans surveying a new planet.

Of course, things go wrong in pretty much the first paragraph, and it's all action (with occasional soap breaks) from then.


BOOK ACQUIRED: January 2019

Mar 18, 2019, 11:52pm

17. Artificial Condition: The Murderbot Diaries, Martha Wells

Starts off where the first finishes, and another great romp with our favourite Murderbot, and this time they have a friend, ART.

I may have liked this one a smidge more than the first, because ART.


BOOK ACQUIRED: February 2019

Mar 19, 2019, 12:00am

18. Heartstopper Volume One, Alice Oseman

A charming graphic novel about Charlie, who meets the lovely rugby playing Nick at school, and slowly falls in love with him. Problem is, Nick is straight.

My daughter loved this and pushed it on me. We shall definitely be buying the next in the series.



Mar 19, 2019, 12:07am

19. The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker

This book should probably come with a trigger warning.

Told from the point of view of Briseis, who is captured as a Trojan slave and given to Achilles as a spoil of war. After seeing him kill her family, mind.

War is bloody and brutal for the men fighting it, but devastating and soul-destroying for the women who lose their families and their freedom. There may have been tears on the train last night on my way home when I finished it.

A great addition to the tale of the Trojan war.


BOOK ACQUIRED: December 2018

Mar 19, 2019, 5:03am

>40 wookiebender:. I have had The Silence of the Girls on my TBR pile for quite some time, and will probably embark on it pretty soon after reading your review.

Mar 19, 2019, 7:44pm

Planetfall and that podcast definitely sound interesting. Another another reminder to move the Murderbot books and the Barker further up the to-read list.

Mar 21, 2019, 1:07am

>41 Eyejaybee: I hope you like it as well! I do feel embarrassed that I've never read her Regeneration, I keep on hearing such great things about that. (But right now, I think I need some silly fluff.)

>42 mabith: I've also got one of Emma Newman's fantasy novels, I must dust that off. I'm rather sad to realise that there haven't been any new podcast episodes for a long while! (I must admit, I recommended the podcast to a friend, and while she liked the interviews, she thought the bits with peril and Latimer-the-butler too silly for words. Whereas I liked the interviews, and couldn't get enough of the silly bits. :)

Edited: Mar 31, 2019, 6:55am

20. Calling Romeo, Alexandra Potter

I had a sick day off work, and nothing screams "sick day!!" more than reading a fluffy romance novel. This was rather amusing, but no great shakes.

Juliet and Will are stuck in a rut in their relationship. And the dashing Sykes appears and sweeps Juliet off her feet. Who is Mr Right? Sweet, best friend, but currently pre-occupied with his new business Will? Or dashing, handsome, and filthy rich Sykes (who we know must be a cad, because c'mon, only cads are called Sykes in literature).

Juliet is far too self-absorbed, she was a rather annoying woman at times. (We know Will is Mr Right, but it takes her long enough.)



Mar 31, 2019, 7:01am

21. A Civil Contract, Georgette Heyer

Heyer is always rather fun. This one is about Jennie, a rich heiress of no name (and no looks) and Jonathan, a landed peer with no money since his father squandered the family fortune. Jonathan has to take care of his mother and two sisters, and agrees to marry Jennie purely for her money, while she will get a title.

This one was rather let down by the milksop of a heroine that we get in Jennie, who seems determined to totally efface herself in order to be the perfect wife for Jonathan.

My Mum said that one of the delights of a Heyer novel is the sheer deliciousness of the heroines, but this one fails in that regard. It does win in the historical detail, I did spend time looking up details of the Napoleonic Wars while reading this.


BOOK ACQUIRED: I have no idea, it's been on my shelves for years, but I only just catalogued it when I went to read it.

Mar 31, 2019, 7:10am

22. Steelheart, Brandon Sanderson

One day, a glowing red star appears in the sky, and it is called Calamity. With Calamity also arrive the Epics, ordinary people who have been granted super powers. Sadly, they all have turned into super-villains, rather than super-heroes.

Steelheart takes over Newcago, which has been plunged into darkness by Nightfall. He rules ordinary humans with an iron (steel?) fist, but of course, there is resistance in the form of the Reckoners.

This was a little silly, I felt, and some of the major plot points were obvious. The main character is also annoying ("why won't she like me, I'm nice to her", OMG, give me a break). But I enjoyed myself enough that I'll probably read on, although I hope it gets better.

This is no Mistborn, which series I highly recommend.


BOOK ACQUIRED: January 2019

Mar 31, 2019, 9:08am

Agreed wookie, Steelheart was the one Sanderson book I haven’t enjoyed, haven’t read the others in the series. His new Skyward looks good !

May 22, 2019, 12:42am

23. Rogue Protocol, Martha Wells

Adventures continue with our favourite anxious Murderbot.



May 22, 2019, 12:48am

24. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

Batshit crazy. But definitely worth a read, haven't read this for maybe 30 years or so and had a ball reading it again.


BOOK ACQUIRED: October 2014

PS, Saturday 13th July is the Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever. Grab your flowing red dress and get your Kathy on at your nearest location. Sydney is here: https://concreteplayground.com/sydney/event/the-most-wuthering-heights-day-ever-...

May 22, 2019, 12:52am

25. Rosemary and Rue, Seanan McGuire

This is a series that keeps on popping up on my radar, and it took repeated recommendations from friends before I finally got the first one in the series. It felt a little too much like the Dresden Files and had some plot oddities, but I think I might be hooked...



May 22, 2019, 12:55am

26. A Local Habitation, Seanan McGuire

...yep, something addictive about this series. (I've got the third, but have been sidetracked by book group books, will get to it asap.)

This time, Toby Daye is looking into some mysterious murders happening in Silicon Valley. Yep, fairies and computers. Works for me. :)



May 22, 2019, 1:00am

27. Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (trans.)

I do like reading this when the weather is grey and miserable; usually Easter is a good break to sit on the sofa with a hot cup of tea and read this amazing story while the trees outside the window get blown about by the wind and rain. I'm getting very annoyed with climate change right now, where's my inclement weather? What's with this endless summer??


A marvelous story, and a wonderful insight into a very very different culture.



May 22, 2019, 1:03am

28. Exit Strategy, Martha Wells

The final entry in the Murderbot diaries. If you don't shed a tear at some stage, you are a much tougher person than me.



Edited: May 22, 2019, 1:17am

29. In the Dark Spaces, Cally Black

For the past few years, my daughter and I have gone to the Sydney Writers' Festival YA Day ("All Day YA") out at Parramatta (in Sydney's west) and had a great time listening to authors talk, queuing to buy books and have them signed, and hanging out with other young book nerds. (She's 14 and is one of the younger people there. I'm 50 and one of the older people there. :D) It's a lovely day out, much more fun than the grown up sessions in the heart of Sydney (filled with ladies who lunch who are very pushy at getting to the front row of seats, and not a single session with a sci-fi or fantasy author most years).

And sometimes one stumbles upon a gem of a book. We saw Cally Black in a panel session, discussing creating new sci-fi worlds, and her book intrigued me. (TBH, she described it several times as "very, very dark", and much as I like a trope-filled YA romance, that felt like a nice breath of fresh air.)

Yes, it is very, very dark. But it was also very, very good.

It's about a young girl who is a stowaway on a mining ship, living in the vents. The ship is attacked by aliens, and she is taken by the aliens and ends up living with them. There's a lot about family and belonging, and there are some very, very hard choices she needs to make.



ETA: This book actually won a number of prizes, and was shortlisted for even more. I'm sad to see that it didn't make as big as splash as I feel it should have.

May 22, 2019, 1:29am

30. Angel, Elizabeth Taylor

Angel, short for Angelica, is a young woman with a very over-active imagination. It originally gets her into trouble with her mother, since she makes up a fantastical backstory for herself, giving her a noble bloodline and an inheritance of the much-described Paradise House, where her aunt actually works as a ladies maid. But she puts her imagination to good use, becoming a prolific writer of lurid bodice rippers, which are devoured by her fans, but denounced by literary critics.

Angel follows her life from unprepossessing beginnings above a shop, to grandeur and luxury, and then the slide into obscurity.

Angel is not a character one can really forget, and while she drove me mad with her inability to face reality and her astounding selfishness, I found her decline heart-breaking.



May 22, 2019, 1:33am

31. One Day, David Nicholls

I mostly enjoyed this story of two friends (often on the verge of being more-than-just-good-friends), revisiting them each year on the 15th July (St Swithin's Day), seeing their ups and downs. But I was very unhappy with the ending. Women are not there to just die to give the male character motivation. I liked Emma and felt very emotionally manipulated by her sudden and unexpected death.


May 22, 2019, 1:42am

32. The Masqueraders, Georgette Heyer

I had a lucky windfall at the local op shop (Americans: thrift shop; UK: Oxfam) where it looks as if someone was getting rid of their Georgette Heyer collection. And then I came down with a headcold from hell (I'm on day 4 and counting, but at least I've gotten up the energy today to get through my backlog of reviews). So what's a girl to do, but put aside her big fat sci-fi book that was getting rather dreary and enjoy a romp with cross dressing adventurers, pretty heiresses abducted to Gretna Green, and sort-of-highwaymen.

So. Much. Fun.



(The big fat sci-fi book is Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio. It has its moments, but was failing to spark joy when I wasn't feeling well.)

May 22, 2019, 12:52pm

I love The Masqueraders! Tight plotting, plot twists, big kind gentlemen, Prue!!

May 22, 2019, 1:31pm

Wow. Some great reading here, Wookie.

I loved Seamus Heaney’s translation of ‘Beowulf’ too. I spent much of my time as an undergraduate working through the Old English original, and would have given a king’s ransom to have had a translation with such a strong feeling for the poet’s words.

May 23, 2019, 11:19am

I don't read much YA but In the Dark Spaces sounds fun. Admittedly as a kid I thought living secretly in vents, a cave, the woods, an abandoned house, etc... was basically the ideal situation and still have an extreme soft spot for that sort of thing in books.

I keep meaning to read *something* by Georgette Heyer, since so many people are devoted to her. Do you have any extra super favorites (the cross-dressing and sort-of highwaymen caught my eye with that one).

May 26, 2019, 8:31pm

>58 ronincats: It was just what the doctor ordered. :) I'm actually reading another of hers now (in parallel with a weird book for book club), April Lady. Day 8 of the headcold! (Bleurgh.)

>59 Eyejaybee: It's been a fun year. A couple of less-than-awesome books I'm trudging my way through right now, but mostly very good stuff!

>60 mabith: I'd have to recommend The Masqueraders round about now. It was such a romp! Cotillion is another favourite of mine. (I'm actually yet to be disappointed by Heyer, but the heroine in A Civil Contract was a bit ordinary, don't start with that one.)

Jun 25, 2019, 12:23am

33. Gingerbread, Helen Oyeyemi

A rather odd book, about three generations of women from Druhástrana, a country that seems to not exist. And gingerbread.

I think it took quirky a bit too far, but was a great piece of imaginative fiction.



Jun 25, 2019, 12:29am

34. April Lady, Georgette Heyer

Nell is young, pretty, and from a family fallen on hard times. She is married to the young, handsome, and very wealthy, Giles, Earl of Cardross.

They love each other very much, but due to various misunderstandings, they don't realise it's mutual. Giles thinks Nell married him for his money; Nell has no idea why Giles married her (she is a little daffy, but very sweet). Cue much confusion and tangled threads until they sort themselves out.



Jun 25, 2019, 12:40am

35. Empire of Silence, Christopher Ruocchio

This got off to a very rough start, when I was trying to read it on my phone and the opening chapter is appallingly overwritten and the plot just felt like a Dune ripoff.

And it is quite Dune-esque, but that ended up being not such a bad thing.

Hadrian Marlowe is next in line for rulership of his family's planet, but gets passed over in favour of his younger brother and shipped off to train in the galaxy's weird religious cult. And things go horribly wrong.

The world building is great, so many different factions and planets and people and tech.

(Note that only myself and my husband actually finished this for bookgroup, and I finished it some weeks afterwards. Given it's the author's first book, and definitely improved as it went on, I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.)



Edited: Jun 26, 2019, 12:19am

36. Between Two Thorns, Emma Newman

I am so embarrassed. I actually read this last year, and had completely forgotten. I started reading it again, and thought I must have previously started it but not finished it. Around page 100, I realised I had read the whole thing and just didn't remember. (Hm, maybe this is the book's fault rather than mine...)

Anyhow, it's set in a world where Faerie has been banished to their own world, with some enslaved humans living in the Nether, the place between our world and Faerie. Their world is very old-fashioned, and our heroine, Catherine Papaver, has managed to escape and is living in the Mundane world, studying at Uni and having a normal life. She gets dragged back into the insanity, and has to juggle the demands of her family's fae patroon, Lord Poppy; deal with her arranged marriage; and thwart the connivings of the Rosa family.

Lots of plot, a feisty heroine, interesting world building. I'm not quite sure why this didn't stick in my mind. There are a couple more in the series, if I can track them down, I'll hopefully remember them better. :P



Jun 25, 2019, 9:28pm

37. A Boy and His Dog At the End of the World, C. A. Fletcher

An impulse buy by my husband, who hoovered it up, and then hovered over me until I read it (and now we're joint-hovering over our daughter, urging her to read it).

In the future, humanity has been almost wiped out by the "gelding", a dramatic loss of fertility, meaning our population has dropped dramatically from billions to maybe tens of thousands, scattered over the world. Griz lives with his family on a small island off the coast of Scotland several generations later, and then one day a red bearded man, Brand, visits. He's charming but when he leaves, he steals Griz's dog Jess, and Griz sets off in pursuit.

The world building is wonderful. I'm rather looking forward to a time when humans aren't tromping all over the planet and destroying it. Forests have grown up everywhere, cities are falling down, and wildlife is reclaiming the world. It was really rather beautiful, if sad.

My one quibble would be the heavy-handed foreshadowing, that drove me slightly nuts at times. But, on the whole, a well plotted book, with plenty of page-turning urgency.



Jun 27, 2019, 1:29am

38. This Monstrous Thing Mackenzi Lee

Previously, I read The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue and enjoyed it immensely. And this year at the Sydney Writers' Festival (at the "All Day YA" portion), Mackenzi Lee was present, and I saw her on a couple of panels. She talked about how much fun it was to write something that was filled with pure trope-y goodness, after giving up on a very serious and dark second novel, after a serious and dark first novel, This Monstrous Thing.

I bought This Monstrous Thing and when she was signing it, I did say how much I loved The Gentleman's Guide and she looked rather worried and said this was nothing like that one. And it is, and it isn't.

It's definitely no trope-filled romantic romp, but it's written with the same immensely readable style, and I gobbled this up. I think I even enjoyed it more than The Gentleman's Guide because it was serious, less fluff.

Geneva, 1818, Frankenstein's monster, clockwork people.

The front blurb said it was "a brave retelling" which at first I thought was rather awkward praise ("she tried, but she failed, but it was a lofty goal"), but I think it is actually pretty spot-on now. She took a classic and reworked it dramatically, so it both stays true to the original story, but adds in her own excellent characters and plot and ended up enhancing it. When I next re-read Frankenstein, I will be cross there are no clockwork people, it seems a blindingly obvious plot point to me now.

Towards the end, the plot did get a bit messy, but not enough to detract from my overall enjoyment of it.



Jun 27, 2019, 10:02am

>66 wookiebender: - that sounds interesting, I'll check that out.

Jul 7, 2019, 8:56pm

>68 john257hopper: I hope you like it! :)

Jul 7, 2019, 9:01pm

39. Children of Ruin, Adrian Tchaikovsky

Amazing sci-fi, so much plot, inventiveness, characters, ideas, twists and turns. And well written. Cannot recommend this (and the first in the series, Children of Time) enough.

If sci-fi is your bag, then read this.



Jul 8, 2019, 7:15pm

40. The October Man, Ben Aaronovitch

The latest entry in the Peter Grant series, this time with his German counterpart, Tobias Winter, solving a murder in Trier. Was fun to see what the Germans have been getting up to in terms of magical law enforcement, but Tobias's voice was very much like Peter's, so I kept on thinking I was back in London until there was an incomprehensible German title or acronym.

Short, enjoyable, I reckon would make a good standalone novella outside of the whole Peter Grant series.



Jul 9, 2019, 12:21pm

Oh dear, lots of book bullets here, Tania!

Jul 11, 2019, 2:11am

Sorry (not sorry), Roni. :)

Jul 16, 2019, 2:52am

41. Boy Swallows Universe, Trent Dalton

Magnificent. Best book of the year, all those gold stickers on the cover are well deserved.

Should come with a language warning for anyone outside of Australia who really doesn't understand our swearing culture. (We swear. A LOT.)

(I might come back and update the review once I've had a little distance from it, but right now: WOW.)



Jul 17, 2019, 7:28pm

42. A Noble Radiance, Donna Leon

Another solid Brunetti novel. This time, the body of a young man is found in a shallow grave, and it looks as if it's the son of a wealthy family who was kidnapped two years ago and never seen again.


BOOK ACQUIRED: September 2014

Jul 31, 2019, 9:04pm

43. The Dutch House, Ann Patchett

A great story about Danny and Maeve Conroy, who live in the Dutch House, a grand glass palace built by the van Hoeboeks (hence the house's name), now encroached by suburban Philadelphia. Danny tells his and his sister's story; their mother is no longer around, and their father is emotionally distant. And then their father remarries and throws their equilibrium out the window.

Told over several decades - from the 1950s, when they are just children, to the 1990s - this is a fascinating story of a small family, and all their odd dynamics and history. Well worth reading.


(Note this was an uncorrected proof that I got from a friend in the industry, with only a few typos that I'm sure will be fixed before it's released in September.)

Aug 6, 2019, 6:09am

44. Winter Tide, Ruthanna Emrys

I did want to like this one more than I did, but it never grabbed me.

In 1920s America the population of Innsmouth have all been removed and sent to an internment camp, where most of them have died. After World War 2, the survivors, Aphra and Caleb Marsh, try to find a place for themselves. They reconnect at Miskatonic University, where Caleb wants to recover their families' books and diaries from the University library, while Aphra is helping the government track down a potential Russian spy.

I do like the concept of Lovecraftian horror, but the execution usually leaves me cold, and this is sadly no exception.



Aug 6, 2019, 6:16am

45. Fatal Remedies, Donna Leon

I do like the clever construction of the Brunetti novels, where they ramble along, but then suddenly everything is pulled together into a satisfying conclusion. Even if the bad guys don't get the comeuppance I'd like.

In this one, Paola Brunetti kicks everything off by throwing a stone through the window of a travel agent that organises sex tours to third world countries.



Edited: Aug 15, 2019, 1:20am

46. An Artificial Night, Seanan McGuire

Third in the October Daye series, which just keeps getting better.

Children have gone missing, both fae and human (and changeling). And it's up to Toby to get them back from Blind Michael, a loony Firstborn.



Edited: Aug 15, 2019, 1:20am

47. Heartstopper Volume Two, Alice Oseman

Continuing on with the story of Nick and Charlie (and Nellie the dog). Very sweet.


BOOK ACQUIRED: August 2019

Aug 15, 2019, 1:19am

48. What I Like About Me, Jenna Guillaume

"Here lies Maisie Martin, dead from embarrassment, aged sixteen."

A sweet coming of age story about Maisie, spending summer holidays at the beach with her family. Only she's not talking to her sister. And her dad isn't there. But she's brought her best friend Anna with her. Only it looks as if her crush, the gorgeous Sebastian Lee, is falling for Anna...


BOOK ACQUIRED: May 2019 (Another one from the Sydney Writers' Festival YA All Day event.)

Aug 18, 2019, 11:52pm

>79 wookiebender: That's a good one and, yes, they just keep getting better!!

Edited: Oct 4, 2019, 12:05am

49. Killing It: She's One Bad Mother, Asia Mackay

Lex is the first woman in the history of the secret British spy organisation Platform 8 to have taken maternity leave. Now, she's leaving her 6 month old daughter, Gigi, to return to work. First assignment is a doozy: kill a Russian business man who is creating software that will compromise all electronic devices. In order to do this, Lex has to infiltrate the yummy mummies, and Gigi is her secret weapon.

A nice bit of fun, took a little while to hook me in, but I was page turning the second half very quickly. Decent plot, never laugh-out-loud funny, but amusing all the way.


BOOK ACQUIRED: August 2019

Oct 4, 2019, 12:05am

50. The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert

I did read this a while ago, so have forgotten all the detail (I swear I have early onset Alzheimer's some days), but I thought it was great.

Wide ranging, historical, scientific, excellent female main character, everything I love.


BOOK ACQUIRED: August 2019

Oct 4, 2019, 12:11am

51. Darkdawn, Jay Kristoff

The third (and final) in the Nevernight series, this one fell a little flat after the highly enjoyable first two books. (If lots of violence and sex and a talking cat == highly enjoyable in your mind, too.)

Still had lots of sex and violence (and a talking cat), but the over-written writing style started to grate, and the sex scenes felt like they were just stretching the plot out so we got a certain number of pages.

As a friend (who was also a bit disappointed in this one) said, it's hard finishing books.

It wasn't a bad ending, things were tied up well, it just didn't have the same impact as the first two.


BOOK ACQUIRED: August 2019

Oct 4, 2019, 12:16am

52. Dogs of War, Adrian Tchaikovsky

Rex is a Good Dog. He's also a 7 foot tall bioform, bristling with weaponry, whose one role in life is to obey his Master and fight wars.

But what happens when your Master is a war criminal?

Heartbreaking, wonderful stuff, Adrian Tchaikovsky can do no wrong.

(And for the past week, every dog I've walked past I've wanted to pat and call them a Good Dog. Of course, I usually want to do that, but even more so right now.)


BOOK ACQUIRED: September 2019

Oct 4, 2019, 12:20am

53. Late Eclipses, Seanan McGuire

The fourth October Daye book, and this one accomplishes a lot in Toby's life.


BOOK ACQUIRED: September 2019

Oct 4, 2019, 12:22am

Well, over halfway to 100 now :) and I've also read 53 by the end of September (give or take a few days), which was my grand total of books for all of 2018.

I don't think I'm going to make 100 books, but I'm happy with the improvement on the past few years.

Oct 13, 2019, 8:00pm

54. A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar

A great fantasy story, told very much in the style of mythology or fairy tales. I found the writing style a little odd at first, but then I got completed suckered into it.

It's about Jevick of Tyom, whose father (a pepper grower and merchant) hires a Olondrian tutor for his son. Jevick is completely entranced by the stories of Olondria (the magical city of Bain!) and when he finally gets to go to Bain to sell the pepper crop in the spice market, jumps in feet first.

Things do not go as he (or I) expected, and I don't want to spoil much, but it's a great journey he ends up on, even if it feels he's descending into hell at times. A very satisfying ending to what seemed a very rambling book at times, and a lovely paean to the joy of books, reading and stories.


BOOK ACQUIRED: Unknown, I forgot to add it to my LT catalogue until I discovered it on a shelf hidden by a box the other day, while looking for something to read. (I really must spring clean!)

Oct 14, 2019, 5:13am

#54...Agreed wookie, one of my fantasy favourites !

Oct 14, 2019, 3:03pm

I started A Stranger in Olondria earlier this year, but the writing style really bugged me and I gave it up. Since you Bryan both like it so much maybe I'll give it another go.

Oct 14, 2019, 7:35pm

>89 wookiebender: I also started A Stranger in Olondria but was slow to get into it and had to return it to the library. I was planning to try it again and after your review will definitely do so.

Oct 16, 2019, 7:43pm

>91 mabith: & >92 ronincats: It did take a while to get into the style, but then I realised I was completed immersed in the book, and it was blocking out the outside world. Been a while since I've been that much "in" a book. :)

>90 bryanoz: Glad you liked it too! :)

Oct 17, 2019, 3:16am

Cheers wookie, I also enjoyed the sequel The Winged Histories, and I see she has a short story collection Tender: Stories which I will find and read as soon as I can.

Oct 21, 2019, 1:25am

55. Circles of Deceit, Nina Bawden

I'd not read Nina Bawden before, and I'm not sure how I missed her.

This book is told from the point of view of a middle aged painter of copies - not forgeries, but well executed copies of expensive works, so they can hang on a boardroom wall to add a (cheaper) touch of glamour, or stay on the walls of a grand manor house while the originals have been sold. It's not a linear book - as he says, he's a painter, not a writer - and jumps about in time, but slowly building up a coherent story.

Worth a read, I hope to find some more books by her in the future.


BOOK ACQUIRED: August 2011

Oct 21, 2019, 1:32am

56. A Night in the Lonesome October, Roger Zelazny

Okay, this was my first drunk shopping purchase. (I read a really really good review of this book in io9 after rolling home from the pub the other week, and I have been a fan of Zelazny, and it was October, and Book Depository was only a click away...) After this experience, it may not be my last drunk shopping incident. :P

Snuff and his master Jack are preparing for the 31st of October. Add in a mysterious Count, the Good Doctor (whose house is constantly surrounded by lightning and storms), Jill the Witch, Owen the druid, the mad monk Rastov, and many others (not to forget The Great Detective), and some elder gods, and you might have an idea of where this is heading.

This was great fun, and next year I might read it a chapter per day in the leadup to Halloween (it conveniently has 31 chapters, one for each day of the month), instead of gobbling it up in three days.


BOOK ACQUIRED: October 2019

Oct 21, 2019, 1:59am

>96 wookiebender: Did you pick up all the allusions? We had a thread in the Green Dragon a while back about them. To quote ScoLgo in that thread: "I am one of those creatures that re-reads A Night in the Lonesome October each tenth-month, consuming a chapter per evening until the remaining Openers and Closers converge at Dog's Nest on All Hallows Eve. If you don't mind a passel of spoilers: Fallen Books and Other Subtle Clues in Zelazny’s “A Night in the Lonesome October”, by Dr. Christopher S. Kovacs.".

Oct 22, 2019, 2:19am

>97 haydninvienna: I'm very sure I missed a lot. :) I'll go and check out that thread, thanks!

Edited: Oct 27, 2019, 10:42pm

57. The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal

I am a fan of Mary Robinette Kowal's Glamourist Histories, so I was very happy to hear that she'd won the Hugo, Nebula, AND Locus awards for this book. And extra happy when it came up as an option for our sci-fi & fantasy bookgroup.

And it was a great story, I made a lot of time to read this one (and glared at any workmates who tried to sit with me at lunch as I read and ate one-handed).

The plot hits hard and fast with a meteorite wiping out Washington DC in the early 1950s, changing America and the world irrevocably. And starting the space race a bit earlier than it did in our timeline.

I'm looking forward to the next book in this series! (And relieved that there are only two planned. I like seeing the end in sight, long-running series aren't particularly my favourite at the moment.)


BOOK ACQUIRED: October 2019

Oct 27, 2019, 10:51pm

58. The Nonesuch, Georgette Heyer

First a confession: I thought a nonesuch would be someone who was lacking something. Thanks to Georgette Heyer, I now know that a nonesuch is a paragon! (And I had to quickly change my initial conceptions of what this novel would be about...)

The adorably named Sir Waldo is the Nonesuch of this book. Wealthy, handsome, intelligent, single. He inherits a run down estate from a cantankerous cousin and travels to the country with his younger cousin (Julian) in tow, in order to put it in order for a proposed orphan's school. There they meet the various inhabitants of the local village (who do their best to outdo each other in entertainments for Sir Waldo and Julian) and romance ensues.

Especial call-out to the bitchiness of some of the women of the village! And the spectacular Miss Tiffany Wield, all glossy ringlets and charming smile hiding the most self-centered person I have run into in fiction in the longest time. (I hope no one is as awful as she is in real life!)



Oct 29, 2019, 12:16am

>96 wookiebender: Love this and I usually do read through it one chapter per day, although I've missed it this year. But I will definitely check out that article! I'm sure I didn't pick up a lot of the allusioins.
>99 wookiebender: Another great story. I love what Kowal did with this duology--well deserving of its awards.
>100 wookiebender: Oh yeah, that would change your perception! I'm a Heyer super fan, so love almost all of her romances.

Oct 29, 2019, 1:07am

>101 ronincats: - next year I do hope to read A Night in the Lonesome October one chapter per night! I think it'd be a lot of fun that way. This time, I was just enjoying it far too much to not binge. :)

Oct 29, 2019, 1:20am

>100 wookiebender: I know I've read this at least once, but your review makes me want to read it again.

Oct 29, 2019, 1:30am

103> Oh, I think all Heyer novels are worthy of a re-read. Such delightful fun!

Oct 31, 2019, 9:40am

While we're going on about Heyer...
My daughter just pulled Cotillion off my shelves and so has a new 'second favorite Heyer'. (Fredrica remains her first favorite.)
Apparently I am successfully infecting the next generation. :)

Nov 6, 2019, 5:47pm

I haven't read Fredrica! I now have a new book goal: find a copy of it! :)

Nov 6, 2019, 7:28pm

Cotillion IS my favorite Heyer, but it depends on the reader being familiar with the regency romance tropes that it flagrantly violates.

Nov 7, 2019, 1:45pm

I think its actually her own tropes that she was violating (was 'regency romance' even a genre before Heyer?) She seems to me to do that more than once. Man of fashion shepherds cute runaway and falls for her (The Corinthian), Man of fashion shepherds cute runaway and most decidedly doesn't fall for her (Sprig Muslin) -- that sort of thing.

Nov 7, 2019, 7:21pm

108> I feel that Heyer did initiate the regency romance. I do tend to get a bit pedantic when people classify Jane Austen's novels as regency romances. They were contemporary books!

I love Heyer's men of fashion. :)

Nov 7, 2019, 7:31pm

59. Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood

A re-telling of Shakespeare's "The Tempest", this revolves around an avant-garde director of an arts festival who is deposed by his second-in-command while in the middle of planning an outre production of said play. Felix (self-)banishes himself to a small shack in the middle of nowhere to plot his revenge. Which involves teaching literature (via Shakespeare) at the local men's prison.

This was a lot of fun, I've always been fond of The Tempest, and this stuck fairly close to the original plot (although I studied it back in high school, some decades ago now, so luckily there was a lot of revision as Felix takes his prisoners through the basic plot and characters). It does have some wild coincidences and miraculous occurrences so that Felix's plans work out, but it is Shakespeare after all. :)


BOOK ACQUIRED: October 2019

Edited: Nov 7, 2019, 10:20pm

60. Rose Cottage, Mary Stewart

A charming little story. Kate Herrick, recently widowed during the second world war, returns to the small English village she grew up in to clear out her grandmother's cottage, Rose Cottage. Her grandmother has given specific instructions about clearing out a small hidden safe in the cottage, but when Kate gets there, the safe has already been opened and emptied. Tracking down what has happened to the contents, and who has been poking around Rose Cottage, helps Kate come to terms with her past.

I loved Mary Stewart's Crystal Cave when I was a teenager, and I saw this some years ago and bought it out of curiosity. It then got lost on the shelves, and only recently rediscovered! A nice little book to read in what has been a very busy week.


BOOK ACQUIRED: December 2007

Nov 13, 2019, 10:45pm

61. Still Life, Louise Penny

This has been recommended to me many times on LibraryThing, and I do see why it's a firm favourite with many readers.

Inspector Armand Gamache is summoned to the small village of Three Pines in Quebec to deal with the suspicious death of an elderly lady, the ex-school teacher, beloved by all.

The best thing about this book was the characters, they were complex and awful and wonderful and all at the same time. The worst thing was the slightly overwritten writing style, that threw me out of the stories at times.

I will probably return, I did end up reading the closing chapter while walking home, I was so engrossed in it on the train.



Nov 21, 2019, 9:18pm

62. Finding Baba Yaga, Jane Yolen

One from my daughter's collection, she chose it for her Halloween read and then passed it onto me, as this was a recommendation for an Xmas present from my Mum (I liked Jane Yolen when I was younger, and who doesn't love the Baba Yaga??).

A verse telling of a young woman who runs away from home and finds Baba Yaga.


Nov 21, 2019, 9:24pm

63. Moxyland, Lauren Beukes

I've previously read and enjoyed Lauren Beukes' other books (Broken Monsters & Zoo City), so happily picked this up second hand some years ago.

Unfortunately this one felt a little stale, like I'd already ready it many times, and the ending was disappointing. I'm glad I'd read her later books first!

It's set in the near future, where punishment is meted out through your phone (disconnection from the network, and now a tazer-like functionality), genetically modified dogs (Aito) support the police state, and corporates rule the world. It was probably fairly cutting-edge stuff at the time, but reading it now felt old-hat.


BOOK ACQUIRED: November 2012

Nov 21, 2019, 9:33pm

64. A World of Other People, Steven Carroll

It is London in 1941, and although London hasn't realised it yet, the Blitz is over. Aspiring author Iris is on night watch on top of the Faber & Faber offices with T.S. Eliot, watching for bombers, bombs, and fires. A bomber does approach, but it is one of theirs, with an engine on fire, and they watch it pass close by and disappear, only to hear an explosion a short while later.

Through many co-incidences, Iris meets the pilot of the plane, an Australian named Jim, who is in the depths of PTSD (although they didn't have that name then), and they fall in love.

While there are a number of co-incidences that brings Iris, Jim, and (briefly) T.S. Eliot together, it never felt forced, more a matter of fate.

Carroll can be quite a slow writer, he spends a lot of time examining the minutiae and slowing time down so a single action can take place over several pages. (You have to be in the right mood for one of his books.)



Dec 4, 2019, 9:32pm

65. The Man Who Was Thursday, G.K. Chesterton

A rather irritating book, possibly because I was excepting something more boys-own-spiffing-adventure and instead got something almost (but not quite) Kafka-esque.

It had some entertainingly mad moments, with our policeman poet uncovering the anarchist cabal, but then it veered into allegory which left me cold.

The blurb on the cover is "The most thrilling book I have ever read", which did push me towards the boys-own. But I guess it was from Kingsley Amis, so maybe I should have thought a little harder about that one.


BOOK ACQUIRED: January 2008

Dec 4, 2019, 9:46pm

66. A Blunt Instrument, Georgette Heyer

Got this off my shelves because a friend asked if I'd read Heyer's detective novels - she's clearing off her shelves in order to move overseas and would like to send them to a good home. So I thought I'd better try the one detective novel of hers that I had.

And I'm glad I did, this was delightful silly fun, populated with upper-class twits and fire-and-brimstone-bible-quoting coppers. Recommended (and I will take my friend's Heyer detective novels if they're willing to part with them).



Edited: Dec 18, 2019, 12:50am

67. One Salt Sea, Seanan McGuire

Another great story, this time Toby goes under the sea.


BOOK ACQUIRED: November 2019

Dec 29, 2019, 6:59pm

68. Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Kate Atkinson

An excellent non-linear family tale, mostly concentrating on the women of a Yorkshire family, from Alice, to Nell, to Bunty, to Ruby. Ruby narrates from the time she was in the womb to almost-present day.



Dec 29, 2019, 7:05pm

69. Geekerella, Ashley Poston

A delightful re-imagining of Cinderella, with Elle desperate to go to the Con that her late father set up for their favourite TV show, Starfield. Meanwhile, the young actor who is cast to play Starfield's hero is filled with doubt, as the internet is filled with criticisms that he is wrong for the role.

It's a charming YA romance, filled with geeky goodness as the characters aren't just fans of Starfield, but drops all sorts of love for all sorts of sci-fi/fantasy genre pieces.

I loved Starfield, and am very regretful it doesn't really exist. And I'm still quietly giggling over the fact that Elle works in a vegan foodtruck called "The Magic Pumpkin". Of course she does. :D


BOOK ACQUIRED: Sometime in 2019

Dec 29, 2019, 7:08pm

And that's it for me! I'm currently reading Dust (third in the Wool trilogy by Hugh Howey) and won't be finished by year's end.

69 is an improvement on last year (53!!), but I've got to learn to look away from my phone more. :P

Thanks for playing, everyone, and I look forward to seeing what you're all reading in 2020 as well. :)

Dec 30, 2019, 6:17am

Well done Wookiebender, yes phones can be a great distraction!

Jan 1, 2020, 3:19pm

Enjoyed seeing your posts again this year!

Jan 1, 2020, 5:24pm

Thanks. :)

See you in the 2020 group!