TalkCurioussquared reads more in 2019: the sequel
Join LibraryThing to post.
This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.
Hello everyone! I'm Natalie. I have participated in the challenge a few times, but last year was my first one being more active.
I'm located in Seattle, where I do communications work for a consulting firm. I get a lot of reading done during my bus commute. Otherwise, I do most of my reading curled up on the couch with my retired racing greyhounds, Skeletor and Otter, or listening to audiobooks while doing chores and walking the dogs.
I read mostly fiction, with a heavy emphasis on YA, along with some fantasy, general fiction/literature, and the occasional non-fiction title. I've been keeping track of my books read since 2008, and I usually aim for 100. Last year I hit an all-time high of 136, smashing my previous record by 21 books!
This year, I'm aiming for 115. A second goal I'd like to achieve is reading at least 50 books off of my own shelves. I pulled off 40 last year at the last second -- I think I can squeeze in 10 more.
Above are Skelly and Otter in a rare moment of dog peace :)
1. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
2. Reflection: A Twisted Tale by Elizabeth Lim
3. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin (re-read)
4. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (off my shelf)
5. The Bartered Brides by Mercedes Lackey
6. The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal
7. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding (off my shelf)
8. For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig
9. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (off my shelf)
10. March: Book 2 by John Lewis (off my shelf)
11. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (off my shelf)
12. March: Book 3 by John Lewis (off my shelf)
13. The Family Trade by Charles Stross (off my shelf)
14. Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones (re-read)
15. The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones (re-read)
16. The Magicians of Caprona by Diana Wynne Jones (re-read)
17. Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
18. Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
19. Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal
20. Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
21. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
22. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez
23. Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
24. World War Z by Max Brooks
25. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
26. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
27. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
28. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
29. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
30. Legend by Marie Lu
31. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
32. Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones (re-read)
33. Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi
34. The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin (off my shelf)
35. Mixed Magics by Diana Wynne Jones (re-read)
36. Conrad's Fate by Diana Wynne Jones (re-read)
37. The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones (re-read)
38. Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman
39. Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst
40. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
41. Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones (re-read)
42. Becoming by Michelle Obama
43. Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones (re-read)
44. The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson (off my shelf)
45. The Bean trees by Barbara Kingsolver (off my shelf)
46. Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen (off my shelf)
47. Maud by Melanie J. Fishbane (off my shelf)
48. The Lost Years of Merlin by T.A. Barron (re-read)
49. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
50. The Seven Songs of Merlin by T.A. Barron
51. Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak
52. Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube by Blair Braverman
53. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
54. All Systems Red by Martha Wells
55. The True Queen by Zen Cho
56. Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
57. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
58. Mosquitoland by David Arnold
59. Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
60. The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston
61. A Question of Holmes by Brittany Cavallaro
62. What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
63. Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
64. Exit Strategy by Martha Wells
65. Transparent Things by Vladimir Nabokov (off my shelf)
66. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Daj Sijie (off my shelf)
67. Masquerade by Melissa de la Cruz (off my shelf)
68. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson (off my shelf)
69. A Separate Peace by John Knowles (off my shelf)
70. Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
71. Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery (off my shelf)
72. The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
73. Educated by Tara Westover
74. Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan
75. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (off my shelf)
76. Early Riser by Jasper Fforde
77. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (off my shelf)
78. Dr. Jeckyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (off my shelf)
79. Dragon Flight by Jessica Day George
80. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
81. What-the-Dickens by Gregory Maguire (off my shelf)
82. Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer (off my shelf)
83. The Call of the Wild by Jack London (off my shelf)
84. The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. LeGuin (off my shelf)
85. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
86. Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
87. The RBG Workout by Bryant Johnson (off my shelf)
88. Dog Songs by Mary Oliver (off my shelf)
89. Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman (off my shelf)
90. An Earthly Knight by Janet McNaughton (off my shelf)
91. Mercy by Jodi Picoult (off my shelf)
92. Lumberjanes 7: A Bird's Eye View by Shannon Waters and others
93. An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen
94. Tam Lin by Pamela Dean (re-read)
95. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (off my shelf)
96. Eye Spy by Mercedes Lackey
97. The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin
98. Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell (off my shelf)
99. Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
100. Eliza and Her Monsters by Franchesca Zappia (re-read)
101. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (re-read)
102. Mad Ship by Robin Hobb (off my shelf)
103. The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin
104. Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov (off my shelf)
105. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
106. Howards End by E.M. Forster (off my shelf)
107. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
108. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (re-read)
109. Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell (off my shelf)
110. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle (off my shelf)
111. Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb (off my shelf)
112. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (off my shelf)
113. The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro (off my shelf)
114. Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor (off my shelf)
115. Dave at Night by Gail Carson Levine (off my shelf)
116. The Crucible by Arthur Miller (off my shelf)
117. Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
118. Black Powder War by Naomi Novik (off my shelf)
119. Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes (off my shelf)
120. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse (off my shelf)
121. A Dog's Life by Peter Mayle (off my shelf)
122. Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik (off my shelf)
123. The Firework-Maker's Daughter by Philip Pullman (off my shelf)
124. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger (off my shelf)
125. Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt (off my shelf)
126. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (re-read)
127. Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (re-read)
128. Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (re-read)
129. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (off my shelf)
130. Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
131. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann (off my shelf)
132. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (off my shelf)
133. My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins (off my shelf)
134. Book of Enchantments by Patricia C. Wrede (re-read)
135. Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi
136. A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez (off my shelf)
137. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
138. Dominic by William Steig (re-read)
139. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (off my shelf)
140. Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson
89 books read: Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
When their mother goes away on a trip, the children's father has a long list of things to do to keep the household running. When there's no milk one morning for cereal, the father steps out to the corner shop to get some -- but it takes him AGES. When he finally gets back, he explains why it took so long -- starting with the aliens invading the planet and the time machine.
This was a cute illustrated story, and I'm always up for some Gaiman, but it's definitely not my favorite of his works. Not sure why -- I just wasn't grabbed. 3 stars.
90 books read: An Earthly Knight by Janet McNaughton
In this retelling of Tam Lin, 16-year old Lady Jeannette of Avenell is working on assuming the position of lady of the house after her older sister is disgraced and bound for the convent. When news comes that young Tam Lin, rumored to have been abducted by fairies, has returned to old Carter Hall on her father's lands, Jenny finds herself drawn to the strange young man despite her father's orders to stay away.
This retelling felt very... pedestrian. The author is a historian and there are some interesting daily life details thrown in, but otherwise, this is an almost boring prose version of the ballad. It's not badly written, and there's nothing truly offensive, it's just not that great. None of the charm of the Pamela Dean version, not to mention Winter Rose or Fire and Hemlock. But hey, it's off my shelf now, and will fill a square in the Summer Book Bingo card I'm completing for my library. 3 stars.
With 90 books read you are well on your way to your goal this year!
91 books read: Mercy by Jodi Picoult
A small town in Massachusetts is shocked when the police chief's cousin drives up and announces that he has smothered his wife, who is lying, as if she could be sleeping, in the passenger seat. It turns out that this man, Jamie MacDonald, has killed his wife because she asked him to: dying of cancer, in lots of pain and with a diminished life, Maggie MacDonald wanted control over when and how she died. In the lead-up to Jamie's trial, the town is split over his guilt, right down to police chief Cam and his wife, Allie. And then, Cam and Allie are split by more than their opinions of Jamie when a woman name Mia comes to town and unwittingly infiltrates their lives and their marriage.
When I was in high school, my friends and I all read the same battered copy of My Sister's Keeper, and that inspired a short-lived love of Jodi Picoult in the group. I think a friend gave me this book for my birthday around that time; not sure how else it would have ended up on my shelf as this is totally not my kind of thing. The central issue of euthanasia/assisted death is an interesting one, but it's all wrapped up in mediocre women's fiction. Still, I finished it and it's off my shelf now. 2.5 stars.
I'm trying to do better at only buying books if I like them well enough to reread them. But my mom keeps sending me random money for books ...
>27 curioussquared: I feel your pain. I've read exactly 25% of one book from the TBR jar my dad kindly helped me make. And five more books arrived from Book Depository today.
I feel like the Mayor of Failure.
92 books read: Lumberjanes: A Bird's Eye View by Shannon Watters and others
Pure fun! What better way to fill in the "Comics" square on my Library book bingo?
93 books read: An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen
When the mayor's brother discovers that the public baths their town has built its reputation on are contaminated, he finds himself fighting to get the truth out, against his brother and soon against the rest of the town.
I always like Ibsen, and this was no exception. I listened to a fun version of this through my library that felt like a radio drama. 4.5 stars.
94 books read: Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
Janet Carter thinks she knows what to expect from Blackstock College -- after all, her father is a professor of English there. And at first, it's everything she imagined -- she loves her classes, is great friends with one of her roommates, Molly, and tolerates the other, Christina, and she finds a boyfriend, Nick, who can quote even more Shakespeare as she can. But there's something strange going on at Blackstock, and it seems to mostly come from the slightly intimidating Classics department, to which Nick and his friends Rob, Robin, Kit, and Thomas belong.
A satisfying re-read. I first read this first in high school and I think it really built up my impression of what college would be like -- many things were different, obviously, but going to school in small town Wisconsin felt pretty similar in some ways to Blackstock, which is based on Carleton College in Minnesota. As much as it's a Tam Lin retelling, I think this book is also an ode to getting an English major, and as usual, I took away a TBR list of referenced works. (How did Janet read so much that I DIDN'T read while getting my major? I didn't take any American lit classes, either!)
95 books read: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The classic story of revenge -- Edmond Dantes manages to escape after being wrongfully imprisoned for 14 years, and he makes sure everyone responsible gets their just deserts.
I'm embarrassed to admit how long it took me to read this. I think it was a pick for our book club in October... of 2017. So I made it around the 2 year mark, lol. Honestly, it didn't take me that long to read in total -- I just got super bogged down during the part in Italy with Franz and Albert. A really rewarding read in the end, though. 4.5 stars.
96 books read: Eye Spy by Mercedes Lackey
In this second book in the Family Spies series, we return to Valdemar and to Haven specifically to follow another one of Herald Mags' children, Abidela, as she learns she has a gift and learns to put it to good use.
Rather formulaic and uninspired, like the rest of Lackey's recent Valdemar books, but it had some fun parts and was just the kind of comfort read I needed this past week while work has been insane. 3 stars.
ETA: I took Jasper for a walk this morning and we met a few dogs on the way home. One pair seemed to be weimaraner mixes and seemed a bit nervous when Jasper went up to make friends (although he was tired so he wasn't his usual over-exuberant self). Then we met some dogs in the park - an elderly spaniel, a small Yorkie-looking dog who had a lot to say for himself and a six year old golden retriever. The funny thing was that the retriever (who was so much paler than Jasper that he made him look quite tanned) was quite playful and kept startling Jasper. Now he knows what effect he has on other dogs! He's usually so enthusiastic about making friends that he ends up scaring them.
I think Lackey in the past has been pretty good about jumping around to different characters and time periods within the Valdemar timeline, or at least focusing on different characters/worldviews within a specific time period, and I've been missing that variety with these past 8+ books.
Love picturing Jasper meeting all the dogs! Skelly and Otter are quite well behaved on leash EXCEPT when there's another dog they want to go see. They're fine if we're somewhere crowded with lots of people or dogs; just sometimes on our neighborhood walks we'll see one person with one dog across the street and that is apparently way too exciting. The problem is that Otter will get really excited and start hopping around. Then, Skelly takes that as his cue to also get really excited and start wrestle playing WITH Otter, while they're both on leash and I'm holding on to ~150 pounds of dog for dear life. I'm sure some people in the neighborhood have seen me and just laughed. When they do get to meet dogs, they're the same way as Jasper -- they can come on way too strong!
The bookstore also had a used copy of Uprooted in great condition, so I snagged it to add to my physical collection :) I already own it on Kindle, but I couldn't resist.
97 books read: The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin
In this second book in the trilogy, we continue to follow Essun as the season gets more dire -- and we learn what happened to her missing daughter, Nassun.
This doesn't suffer from middle book syndrome at all -- I raced through it in spare moments on bus rides and before bed. Excited for my hold on book 3 to come in :)
98 books read: Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell
In this cute graphic novel, seasonal friends Deja and Josiah spend their last night at their pumpkin patch job tracking down the girl Josiah has had a crush on for years -- as well as eating all the food they never got to try while they were working.
This was a little underwhelming plot-wise, but super cute nonetheless. Plus, it made me super excited for Fall!
I checked and I have options for all letters except X and Z, so those will have to be freebies :)
I think I won't make myself read them in order, but I do happen to be reading an A book off my shelf right now, so Akata Warrior will probably be my first challenge contribution.
99 books read: Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
Maia's three brothers have been killed or crippled in war, and her father, a tailor, hasn't had his old skill with the needle since her mother died and he turned to drink. When the emperor summons her father or one of his sons to compete for the honor of imperial tailor, Maia throws caution to the wind, cuts her hair and packs her supplies, and leaves for the imperial palace disguised as her brother Keton. She knows she's a good enough tailor to win the title -- but can her disguise last long enough, and is she ready for the imperial intrigue? Plus, the emperor's lord enchanter seems to have taken a special interest in her...
This book was sold to me as "Mulan meets Project Runway" and I was instantly intrigued. And for the first third of the book, it lives up to that description, and I really enjoyed it up to that point. I really, really wanted to like this book, and I did really like aspects of it, but I had a lot of problems with Maia as a character. She super passive -- the whole plot seems set up so that she never has to have any agency or make any decisions, just follow what people tell her to do (even if she does it poorly) and things will work out. There's a lot of sloppy writing, too; sometimes I would reread a paragraph to figure out how exactly Maia managed to do what she just did and it just wasn't explained. 3 stars; great concept, less great execution.
Sorry to hear that Spin the Dawn was pedestrian. I was attracted to the pretty cover, but the story itself sounded a little too YA for me. (I prefer middle grade.)
I'm starting to get frustrated with a lot of YA fantasies, and I agree that middle grade can be safer, but then there are always some that make it worth sifting through the less interesting ones. Recent examples of those for me include Alwyn Hamilton's series starting with Rebel of the Sands, the Strange the Dreamer books by Laini Taylor, Nnedi Okorafor's Akata Witch (currently working on the sequel!), Heidi Heilig's The Girl from Everywhere books, and Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst (I think there's a sequel out, but I haven't gotten to it yet).
Fingers crossed it'll calm down soon, but I'm not realistically expecting it to until mid-October at the earliest.
100 books read: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Nobody knows that unpopular, quiet, friendless high school senior Eliza Mirk is the creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. When a new kid, Wallace, transfers midway through senior year and it turns out he's a huge fan and the most popular fanfiction writer in the fandom, he and Eliza embark on a tenuous friendship -- but no matter how close they get, Eliza still can't bring herself to tell Wallace that she's not just another fan, but the creator of the whole comic.
I first read this a couple years ago, and it totally captivated me. I love Eliza and her world and Zappia's exploration of her struggle with anxiety is totally heartbreaking. I sobbed last time, I sobbed this time. So good, highly recommended -- this is definitely a new all-time favorite. 5 stars.
Hope work calms down sooner rather than later and you manage some reading time.
I'll post about my book haul at some point. I only made it to one of the sales, but it was a nice break!
102 books read: Mad Ship by Robin Hobb
Book two in the Liveship Traders trilogy. Set directly after the events of book 1, Mad Ship follows several storylines, most of them somehow intertwined with the fate of the Vestrit trader family.
I read book one several years ago, so it was a little difficult to orient myself in this one, but listening on audio helped in this case, I think. At 34 hours, this one is a chunker and definitely longer than my normal listening fare. Took me a lot of dog walks to get through! I don't think I was fully invested until maybe 7-10 hours in, but now I'm involved and planning to listen to the final book too. 3.5 stars.
I hope you enjoy the final installment!
>57 curioussquared: I finally read Pumpkinheads. I adored it, although I was a bit bummed that their friendship
So glad you liked Pumpkinheads! Agree with your complaint, and also agree with everything you liked about it. I also adored the maps! I'm looking forward to picking up Wayward Son at some point once work calms down a little, although I didn't love Carry On quite as much as her other books. I'm looking forward to when she next decides to write a cute contemporary romance, YA or not :)
I hope you enjoy Wayward Son.
Also, Rainbow Rowell dropped the big news on her social media this week that there will be a third Carry On novel! It'll be called Any Way the Wind Blows and is reportedly "coming soon," whatever that means! I'm excited even though I haven't even made it to Wayward Son yet.
103 books read: The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin
In this satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, Essun and Nassun's storylines finally meet and intertwine as they both try to harness the power of the obelisk gate.
I enjoyed this final novel in the Broken Earth trilogy, even though it took me a while to get through due to crazy work and a really bad cold. I read the first novel in Jemisin's other series a while ago and wasn't super drawn in, but these books are encouraging me to give them another try. Someday! 4.5 stars.
104 books read: Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov
Three sisters living in a provincial town are dissatisfied with their lives and dream of returning to Moscow, their childhood home, where they are sure everything will be better.
This is my first Chekhov, I think. I enjoyed it -- it had a similar feel as Ibsen to me. I'm currently reading Howards End and am interested to see similar themes in these two works -- both have modern young women espousing the value and importance of work, especially for women. I'll develop my thoughts on that later :) They were published about 10 years apart, so...
105 books read: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
When her mother, siblings, and father all leave, young Kya is left to fend for herself. As she ekes out a life, the townspeople start to know her as the Marsh Girl, a wild creature who avoids human confrontation. But there are some who are drawn to Kya. Tate is gentle -- he teaches her to read, and admires her quiet strength in solitude. Others... are not so nice, and eventually, Kya, whose only wish is to live alone and be left alone, finds herself accused of a horrible crime.
Read for my work book club. Not the best book I've ever read -- there were a lot of places where I was jolted out of the story by some awkward writing or a description that just got way too fluffy. But the story is pretty powerful and compelling, and I raced through it. 4 stars.
The other books are: Angel Mage, The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe, The Intuitionist, Sing, Unburied, Sing, Pachinko, and An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. Aside from Angel Mage, which I just hadn't realized was out yet, the rest were good condition used or remaindered copies so they felt like good finds.
My target is still 120 books and I won't give up until it is physically impossible. Hopefully RL gets out the way and lets me get on with reading.
>84 PaulCranswick: I hope things settle down for you soon, Paul. Who needs real life when you can live many lives through books?
>85 libraryperilous: Thanks! Nobody gave me books this year (my family are not big readers and they figure anything they buy me I'm likely to already have read) so I had to rectify that.
In no particular order:
Fire by Kristin Cashore (read)
The Beggar Queen by Lloyd Alexander (unread)
The Kestrel by Lloyd Alexander (unread)
Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian (read)
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry (unread)
Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins (unread)
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani (unread)
(A really pretty old edition of) Heidi by Johanna Spyri (read)
Seven Day Magic by Edward Eager (honestly, unsure if I read this one years ago or not!)
Knight's Castle by Edward Eager (same with this one)
The Time Garden by Edward Eager (and this one)
The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson (unread)
The Legend of Luke by Brian Jacques (read)
The Long Patrol by Brian Jacques (read)
Loamhedge by Brian Jacques (this was right around when I stopped reading the new releases, so not 100% sure if I read it)
Pearls of Lutra by Brian Jacques (read)
Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp aka JK Rowling (read and own already, but this was a nice hardcover)
My True Love Gave to Me by many (unread)
Dave at Night by Gail Carson Levine (another one where I may have read it in elementary school, but I just can't remember)
I'm pretty sure the last month of book shopping has totally wiped out all of my ROOT reading for the year. Oops.
Here's Skelly and Otter in their matching sweatshirts (I giggle every time)
And here they are on the office couch, where they spend most of their time while I work from home. In this pic, Skelly had already taken most of the couch and Otter squeezed himself into the little half cushion that was left.
And finally, here's Otter modeling his Batman PJs (on a throne of blankets and pillows)
>97 libraryperilous: It's in the style of an old map with compass and ship. From Ikea, surprisingly!
106 books read: Howards End by E. M. Forster
When Margaret and Helen Schlegel meet the Wilcox family while touring Germany, their lives become entangled with the other family and the family's estate, Howards End.
I loved this! I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. Easy to read, it felt very modern, and I loved Margaret and Helen and their conversations and lifestyles. 5 stars.
107 books read: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Isobel is a masterful portrait artist often sought out by folk of the fairy courts to paint their images. For while the fairies are beautiful, they are unable to practice any form of human craft or skill, whether it's painting, cooking, sewing, sword fighting... the list goes on. One day, Isobel learns that the fairy prince of the Autumn court, not seen in human lands for centuries, will come to seek a portrait from her -- and once she meets him, her life will never be the same.
I really enjoyed this fantasy! It felt at once very fresh but also in some of the best fantasy traditions. This is a fairy court I haven't read about before, and it was really refreshing. 4.5 stars.
>99 curioussquared: I love Forster. Arctic Summer is one of my very favorite novels. Side note: One of my literary pet peeves—along with people thinking Darcy's first proposal is romantic—is the misuse of Forster's "Only connect." Weird the snobby hills book people die on. :)
Lol, I totally get snobby book people hills. I read A Passage to India in college and didn't like it too much so I was surprised by how much I loved Howards End. Time to watch the miniseries now!
108 books read: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Simon Snow is the Mage's Heir -- the prophesied most powerful mage ever known. His job is to defeat the insidious humdrum, a force that is sucking the magic out of parts of the UK. But first, he has to finish his 8th year of school at the Watford School of Magick. And figure out if his awful roommate, Baz, really IS a vampire. But Baz didn't show up for school this year, and Simon is starting to get... worried?
I think I actually liked this book a LOT more the second time around. The first time, I couldn't stop thinking of it as a Harry Potter parody or part of Fangirl. This time, I was able to look at it as its own story in its own right, and it came out much the better for it. Wayward Son, here I come!
>93 curioussquared: They're beautiful boys! Love the batman PJs!
>107 curioussquared: You've reminded me that I meant to try Carry On ages ago when it came out. Good reminder to add it to my library list!
109 books read: Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell
Simon has fulfilled his destiny as the mage's heir. What comes next? He never expected to live through it.... After watching Simon wasting away on the couch for too long, Penelope decides enough is enough and takes Simon and Baz on a road trip to America to visit Agatha in San Diego. Once they get there, it becomes pretty clear pretty fast that not only is the magical world different in the USA, but none of them were really prepared for it.
I loved this and blew through it in a day. It starts out as a total romp and gets more serious as it goes on, but is pure fun the whole way through. Five stars. Can't wait for book 3! I have to say I was a little disappointed to learn that the "coming soon" announcement meant "coming soon in two years or so" instead of "it's finished and with the publisher" but I'll take it whenever it's ready.
I placed a hold on Enchantment of Ravens, but my library card expires this Sunday. I'm not going to renew it right now in hopes that will 1) inspire me to read my own books and 2) inspire me finally to set up my budget for my trip/move and find the funds. I'm getting restless.
I'll see if I get through it before the card expires, but I worry that I'll find the romance a bit too
On a sad note, the library ordered two titles I requested, but they won't come before my card expires. They aren't even in process yet and were ordered on October 1st. :(
I did listen to Ship of Destiny while doing housework and cooking but I still have 15 hours left and the audiobook is due back to the library in two days! Hopefully I can check it out again right away.
In TV-land, I watched season 4 of Catastrophe and season 2 of Derry Girls, both of which were excellent. I also watched the 2018 version of Howards End with Matthew Macfayden, which I LOVED. I told my mom to watch it right away.
Hoping to get out of my minor reading slump soon now that I have a bit more time on my hands with work calming down.
I hope your reading slump slinks off soon. I'm rereading the Cadfael series, and it was the perfect way to get out of my mini-slump.
>118 norabelle414: I didn't see Atwell as too old (she seemed like a reasonable 28 to me), but definitely agree that Macfayden was young for Henry. I thought he pulled it off pretty well, though.
110 books read: The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
Chronicles the life and times of Robin Hood and his merry men, as they terrorize the Sheriff of Nottingham, take from the rich and give to the poor.
This book is fun to see the origins of the Robin Hood stories we've seen adapted time and again, but it does get old after a while. From what I understand, Pyle compiled the traditional Robin Hood stories and put them on a timeline. They read like the stories they are rather than a whole narrative, so I got a little sick of Robin's antics over and over and it took a while to get through. Still, I think it was interesting to go back to the source. 3 stars.
>122 curioussquared: That series seems very popular on here and in the book community in general. Fingers crossed they make a good TV version.
111 books read: Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb
In this last book in the Liveship Traders trilogy, several threads come together as the scattered Vestrit family members find each other.
This last book in the Liveship Traders trilogy picks up right where book 2 left off. Even though I had just read book 2, it still took a while to get into just because there are SO many threads and characters we're following. I think Hobb did a good job of making us care about all of them, despite the many storylines -- my complaint about lots of books with multiple narrators *cough* GAME OF THRONES *cough* is that I just don't care about half the characters and want to skip to the people I actually want to read about. I didn't have that with these books at all, and I found all of the characters equally interesting, if not all equally likable. The climax when all of the characters who had been separate for so long finally come together was SO well done and super satisfying. This might be my favorite book of the series. 4.5 stars.
112 books read: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
In 1969 in Kerala, India, twins Rahel and Estha's lives change when their cousin, Sophie Mol, comes to visit from London. Over 20 years later, Rahel returns to India from her disastrous American marriage and reconnects with Estha, who no longer speaks and spends his days endlessly walking the countryside. The two timelines intertwine and Roy jumps back and forth between the past and the present as the story is woven around the tragedy that surrounds Sophie Mol's visit.
This was my pick for IRL book club and to be honest, I feel a little bad that I made everyone read it. I had heard great things about this book, but I had a lot of trouble getting into it and I think I was the only person out of about ten who finished it. The writing is full of metaphors, some of which are gorgeous and clever, others of which only made the text more opaque for me. I had a lot of trouble telling which timeline I was in at any given time, and after finishing the book, I had to go and read a summary -- the timeline is so twisted that even though not very much happens, I wasn't even sure WHAT had happened. Some of the writing was gorgeous, and there would be 25-50 page stretches where I was really into it, but something would always pull me back out. This is a Booker winner I just didn't really get. 3 stars.
113 books read: The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro
Claire Roth has been the pariah of the Boston art world ever since she tried to tell the truth about the painting she did under her boyfriend's name that ended up landing in the Met. When Aiden Markel, owner of the popular gallery Markel G, comes to her with a slightly shady proposition that would help recover one of the 13 paintings stolen in the Isabella Stewart Gardner heist, she only hesitates for a moment. But Aiden's proposition isn't everything it seems, and Claire soon starts to suspect that she's bitten off a little more than she can chew.
This is a fun book, especially if you're at all interested in art. The last third is fast-paced and exciting, and I read it super quickly just because I had to know what happened! It's not the greatest novel ever, and Claire is a pretty flat protagonist, but it's fun. 3.5 stars.
114 books read: Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor
In this sequel to Akata Witch, Sunny continues her leopard education and faces the reality of being a free agent as her leopard life starts to leave her family life behind.
I love Nnedi Okorafor so much. There's a quote from Ursula K. LeGuin on the cover of this book that says something like, "There's more imagination in a page of Nnedi Okorafor's work than in whole fantasy epics," and I think that just about sums it up. Every page of this book (and the previous one!) feels fresh, new, and full of imagination, and it makes it a total delight to read. Also, I NEED to find a local place that serves some of the Nigerian food described in the book. Jollof rice? Pepper soup? Need to try them. Five stars.
115 books read: Dave at Night by Gail Carson Levine
After Dave's papa dies in an accident, his stepmother can't afford to keep him and his older brother Gideon. Dave's uncle Jack from Chicago volunteers to take Gideon, but nobody is willing or able to take care of Dave. So instead, he finds himself dumped at the Hebrew Home for Boys orphanage. Struggling to navigate his new life, Dave sneaks out at night and discovers a whole underworld of rent parties and jazz music, and he makes a few friends along the way.
This is very different from Levine's other books, but I really enjoyed it. A fun look at the Harlem Renaissance from a different perspective. My version also had an author's note from Levine where she explained that her father grew up in a similar situation and parts of the book were inspired by his life, which was really interesting. 4 stars.
116 books read: The Crucible by Arthur Miller
I didn't have to read this in school but somehow acquired a copy (I think it might have been something my brother had to read). I enjoy a play now and then so decided to pick it up. This isn't really my kind of thing, but it was a quick read and I can appreciate the power of Miller's metaphor. 3 stars.
117 books read: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
Raised at the great library of Summershall, Elisabeth has only every wanted to be a warden. Wardens are charged with both protecting grimoires, the enchanted books their libraries hold, and protecting people from grimoires when the books go feral and turn into maleficts, dangerous monsters. However, Elisabeth finds her dreams derailed when a class 8 grimoire goes wild and she's the only one awake to stop it. In the subsequent investigation, she is taken from Summershall by the mysterious sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn and his manservant Silas. Soon, Elisabeth finds herself trying to reveal a plot that has been in motion since long before she was born as she starts to learn who her allies are in this new world.
I loved this book SO much -- even more than Rogerson's previous book An Enchantment of Ravens. Who doesn't love magical libraries? Elisabeth is a great heroine -- I love that she's strong, unafraid, and pretty good with a sword. This story feels familiar in some of my favorite ways -- I read that Rogerson was inspired by the library in Lirael, which is probably my favorite fictional library -- but it also feels original and new. I think Rogerson is quickly climbing the ranks of my favorite authors, and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for her next book. Five stars.
118 books read: Black Powder War by Naomi Novik
In this third installment of the Temeraire series, Laurence, Temeraire and their crew are summoned back to England from China via Istanbul as they have been ordered to pick up three dragon eggs that have been purchased from the sultan. The overland journey will be long and treacherous, but Laurence is confident that it will still be much faster than waiting for the boat to be repaired so they can sail by sea. But once their journey begins, it's clear that Laurence has underestimated the threats they'll face -- and the directions from which their threats will come.
I always forget how much I enjoy Temeraire until I'm halfway through one of these books and totally engrossed. The concept never fails to delight me (it's the Napoleonic Wars -- with dragons!) and I love Temeraire and Laurence's relationship. 4.5 stars.
119 books read: Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes
Flaubert's Parrot is a collection of retired doctor-turned-Flaubert scholar Geoffrey Braithwaite's musings on the author from various directions and points of view. The titular parrot is important when Braithwaite realizes that two separate Flaubert museums house a stuffed parrot they claim is the one that Flaubert wrote about in one of his works, and he decides to figure out once and for all which parrot is the real one.
I enjoyed this! There's not a ton of plot, and it jumps seamlessly between fiction and non-fiction and different writing styles. Since I majored in French in college, I've studied both Madame Bovary and Sentimental Education and I think that context helped me enjoy this work. 4 stars.
I really need to read the Temeraire books.
121 books read: A Dog's Life by Peter Mayle
In this short book, Mayle writes from the point of view of his rescue dog Boy, who tells of his rough beginnings and subsequent rescue by the Mayles, and shares his views on dogs, humans, food, and life in general.
This is a cute little book which is saved by Mayle's strong writing, but the point of view conceit gets old pretty quickly and I probably would have removed more stars had it gone on longer. You can tell Mayle really loves his naughty stray (enough to give him his own book!) which shines through the prose. Definitely not Mayle's best and not the place to start with his books, but if you can't get enough of Provence and you are a fan of dogs, this is an OK read. 3 stars.
122 books read: Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik
In this next installment in the Temeraire series, Laurence and Temeraire are off to Africa to search for a cure for a dragon illness.
Book 4 picks up right where book 3 left off and is just as exciting. I enjoyed seeing some old friends who didn't appear in book 3, and as always I'm impressed with Novik's dedication to historical research. This is the last book in the series that I currently own, so my next mission is to hopefully find used copies of the ones I'm missing. 4 stars.
123 books read: The Firework-Maker's Daughter by Philip Pullman
Lila grew up without a mother, with only her firework-maker father to raise her. So she learned to make fireworks too, and quickly grew skillful, inventing new kinds of fireworks and ways to light them. But when she broaches the subject of becoming an actual firework-maker to her father, he is astonished, as she is a girl and he always planned to marry her off. So Lila enlists the help of a friend and a white elephant to carry out the firework-maker ceremony herself and prove to her father that she is worthy of being a firework-maker.
This was a cute short book that felt almost like a fable at times. Fun story and fun characters, but definitely for a younger audience and lacking the depth of Pullman's other works. 3 stars.
I also scored an Ikea armchair for the library I'd been eyeing for half price during Black Friday sales, so my little room is coming together. Now I just need to get the books shelved before the chair gets here!
I hope that helps and that you decide to give the series a chance!
124 books read: The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
Desperate to break into the magazine publishing world, Andrea decides to take a job as an assistant to the famously horrible Miranda Priestly, editor in chief of Runway magazine. It's no New Yorker, but everyone swears that Miranda will pull strings for anybody who manages to work for her a year...
The Devil Wears Prada is one of those easy movies I like to watch when it comes on TV (not that I have cable anymore!) and the book was just as fun. There were a few differences, but overall the movie really captured the spirit of the book. 4 stars.
>83 curioussquared: Oh no! I missed your birthday and you're only a week before me. Hope it was great - though I see you celebrated in style, with books.
>101 libraryperilous: Darcy's first proposal romantic? Arrogant and presumptuous more like! It took me a while to work out why Elizabeth did fall in love with him. And now I've started wondering if her 'I date it from first seeing his estates at Pemberly ...' was entirely flippant.
>100 curioussquared: >134 curioussquared: Maybe BBs - if I can find them.
>121 curioussquared: I've started reading Roger Lancelyn Green's The Adventures of Robin Hood to the boys at night.
Flippant Austen is the best Austen.
Where do mansplainers get their water?
From a "Well, actually..."
125 books read: Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt
Just some light holiday reading, you know? This is Arendt's famous report on Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi leader responsible for solving "the Jewish question," and analysis of what made Eichmann tick. "It was sheer thoughtlessness that predisposed him to become one of the greatest criminals of the period," Arendt says of Eichmann. This report is the origin of the idea of "the banality of evil," and reading her analysis is truly chilling. 4.5 stars.
I should be on track to beat my all-time high of 130, though!
>163 curioussquared: Aww, but you still had a good year! I read an interesting piece on Book Riot a couple of days ago. Someone is going to track their reading hours next year, not the number of books read. I feel like any kind of numerical goal adds a bit of pressure, but it was an interesting essay.
I knew 150 was a stretch given my previous high was 130, but everything was so promising early in the year! Then life happened... :) I'm still pleased, though. I like a numerical goal as it motivates me. I need to remind myself that I was barely hitting 70 while I was in college!
128 books read: Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
When Mendanbar's sword is stolen by the Society of Wizards, Cimorene sets out on a quest to get it back, along with Morwen, Telemain, Kazul, a few of Morwen's cats, and a rabbit named Killer enchanted to look like a giant blue donkey.
Just as good as always! My elementary school was small, and in the library system, you could see which student had checked out a book. I distinctly remember hunting down one of my classmates when she was taking too long to read this one and asking her if I could borrow it. No regrets, would track down classmate again.
129 books read: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Clary is a normal high school student from New York who likes to draw and hang out with her best friend, Simon -- until she starts seeing people and things nobody else can see. She's quickly drawn into the world of the Shadowhunters, who are tasked with keeping the world free of demons. But things get complicated when Clary's mom disappears and her mom's best friend Luke warns her to stay away -- and Clary starts to wonder if there are some secrets in her past that her mom has kept hidden.
I've seen this series everywhere but never really felt a great desire to read it; it seemed kind of like the epitome of that "teen paranormal romance" category they had at Barnes and Noble for a while. I was pleasantly surprised by this book -- it was definitely predictable and not super well written, but it was also enjoyable and I can see why the series has been a smash hit. 3 stars; I don't intend to continue the series, but don't regret reading this one.
130 books read: Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
16 years after the events of Calling on Dragons, Cimorene's son Daystar confronts his destiny and enters the Enchanted Forest with nothing but a mysterious sword to aid him. The only problem is, he doesn't know what his destiny IS -- his mother trained him to be ready for almost anything, but she was vague on the details...
I still love this book, but it's just not as good as the others in the series. I think it's probably because we only get sparing doses of the lovely cast of characters from earlier in the series, and while Daystar is fine, he's not the most exciting character. It's also hard to get super excited about a book where you, the reader, know the answers to all the mysteries, but still have to watch the protagonist bumble around and figure it out. Still good, and I'll always read it to finish up the series, but just doesn't quite measure up to the others.
131 books read: Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
Aging German author Gustav von Aschenbach travels to Venice on a whim and there becomes obsessed with a beautiful young Polish boy staying in his hotel, Tadzio. As a mysterious disease takes Venice by storm and other tourists start leaving the city in droves, Gustav, though he finds out the nature of the disease, finds himself unable to leave Venice with Tadzio still there.
I had trouble getting into this and I'm not sure I would have finished if it weren't so short, but it did pick up in the second half. 2.5 stars.
132 books read: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Eleven year-old Flavia de Luce, amateur chemist and detective, lives in the English countryside with her reclusive father and two silly older sisters, Daphne and Ophelia. One morning, after overhearing a heated conversation in her father's study with a mysterious man the night before, she goes down to the garden only to discover a dying man, who breathes his last word into her face. Flavia alerts the police, but is determined to solve the mystery herself -- since the police don't know about the conversation in her father's study the night before.
Overall, I enjoyed this -- Flavia is a fun character. But, she can also be a little much to handle -- sometimes the conceit worked, and sometimes I found it a little annoying. I don't think I'll be continuing the series, but I could also see myself being in the mood for Flavia again at some point.
Speaking of moods, Otter was in one last night and decided this book needed redecorating. I had to perform emergency cover surgery:
Here is the culprit looking guilty:
And sweet, innocent Skelly looking relaxed :)
Skelly with the fox print collar, but what pattern does Otter's have?
Otter's collar, appropriately, has otters :)
Jasper quite often looks guilty when I can’t find anything he could have done but I think that’s just because he can only be bothered to lift his eyebrows to look at me when I go downstairs. Usually when he misbehaves it’s because he wants attention and then he barks his head off to let everyone know that he needs to be scolded.
Have you read the short story Utensile Strength about the Frying Pan of Doom? The only regret is that it IS so short.
Book of Enchantments is next on the list!
133 books read: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins
In this anthology, twelve YA authors offer fun, winter holiday-themed stories.
I enjoyed this more than I thought I would! I picked it up mostly because I saw Rainbow Rowell's name, and I'll read anything she writes. I liked Rowell's story, and also loved Kelly Link's, Matt de la Pena's, Stephanie Perkins', Gayle Forman's, and Kiersten White's. The rest were all enjoyable. The only one I found a little weird was Laini Taylor's -- I could see myself enjoying it if it had been in a fantasy anthology, but after a bunch of fairly realistic (or at least present-day set) stories, this one just really didn't fit. 4 stars.
134 books read: Book of Enchantments by Patricia C. Wrede
A collection of magical short stories, including one set in the Enchanted Forest featuring our favorite royal family (so of course, no Enchanted Forest Chronicles reread is complete without reading this volume as well).
Two short story collections in a row! That's not like me. I don't go in much for short stories, but I've always enjoyed the collection in this volume. Unfortunately, I remembered the final story set in the Enchanted Forest as being much longer than it actually is -- if only! It's great, I just want more. 4.5 stars.
>182 curioussquared: I read this a couple of years ago as my Twelve Days of Christmas book, so one story per day. I liked quite a few of them, although none of them stands out now as a favorite. Was the Taylor the one about the bird dude or whatever? That one was my least favorite, and I agree that it felt a bit out of place. The other stories that had a touch of the fantastic were more grounded and fit better with the whole anthology. There's a summer-themed collection, too, that I might eventually read.
>186 MickyFine: Good to know! I think part of the reason My True Love Gave to Me is successful is just the fun, festive-ness of it, which I imagine would be missing in a summer collection.
135 books read: Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi
Balsa, the famed nomadic warrior, is walking along when she manages to save the second prince Chagum from an assassination attempt. Soon she finds herself in charge of Chagum's life as she and her friends struggle to protect the prince from the dangers hunting him down as well as the dangers within him.
I don't remember where I heard about this book -- maybe a Book Riot list of some kind? Apparently this series is super popular in Japan and there's an anime based on the series as well. I thought this was fine; I never connected much with any of the characters and nobody ever felt like they were truly in danger. 3 stars.
It also meant I missed meeting up with Nina (Humouress) on Friday evening which I'm still sad about :( Curse poorly timed illnesses!
136 books read: A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez
The title nameless witch was cursed at birth to be ageless and strikingly beautiful -- not really what you want as a scary witch! But her mentor witch teaches her how to disguise herself as a nasty hag, in addition to all the magic. When her mentor is killed, our heroine leaves on a quest to find revenge and her destiny, along with Newt, her familiar -- a flesh-eating, violent demon in the shape of a duck.
This book started out interesting, clever, and funny -- who doesn't love a demon duck? -- but petered out for me about halfway through. It's fairly episodic, with our team of heroes going from adventure to adventure, and it just got old for me after a while. I think parts were a little too gross for me, too -- there are just some descriptions of violence/zombie-like activities that should have been funny but kind of just grossed me out. 3 stars.
137 books read: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, a wormhole-tunneling ship, she's mostly worried about keeping her own secrets -- but she soon finds herself entwined with the rest of the crew as they embark on a long-haul mission to tunnel back from a new government ally.
Why did it take me so long to read this book? I love every member of the crew of the Wayfarer. This reminds me of Firefly in the best way, and it might even be better. BRB while I tell everyone I know to read this book! Also, I feel like there's been a wave of great character-driven sci-fi recently, and I'm totally loving it. 5 stars.
138 books read: Dominic by William Steig
Dominic the dog, hungry for adventure, packs up his hat collection and starts on a journey to wherever the road takes him. Along the way, he makes several new friends, fights off the evil Doomsday Gang, and finds love.
This is one of my all-time childhood favorites. I've probably read it something like ten times, at least. Dominic and his adventures are always delightful! Five stars.
Also, big news on the home library front -- I finally got all of my books organized and shelved! I have a little more adjusting to do (I had some space left in the last shelf, and want to space out some of the other shelves so there's room to add more books later) but they're all in order! Phew. I'll post some pictures once I get the space cleaned up and the new armchair installed -- I have lots of boxes to remove.
I also finally got our guest bedroom set up. It's amazing how productive I can be when I have a week off work and we're not going anywhere! The main impediment to the guest bedroom was that I could NOT for the life of me find the hardware to put together the bed frame -- it had been dismantled for about a year and a half, ever since we moved to the new house. But a few days ago, my weird finding-things spidey sense finally kicked in and I suddenly knew exactly where they were! So I was able to actually assemble the random bed frame parts, box spring, and mattress that had been hanging around, add in a lamp, nightstand, and rug, hang a few pictures that had been languishing in storage... and voila! Guest bedroom.
139 books read: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
In rural China, due to her auspiciously shaped feet and other promising factors, Lily is matched with another girl from a nearby village, Snow Flower, despite the fact that Snow Flower's family is of a higher station. Lily and Snow Flower essentially enter into a contract to be best friends and confidants through their foot binding, marriages, childbearing, and the rest of their lives. The two become close, sending messages via secret women's writing written on a fan they send back and forth. But Lily doesn't suspect that throughout their childhoods, Snow Flower has a secret...
This book was a pleasure to listen to -- written from Lily's point of view looking back over her life, the prose is lyrical and almost poetic. Lisa See doesn't disguise the horrors of foot binding and also provides lots of interesting cultural context. A captivating story. 4 stars.
140 books read: Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson
In the future, much of the world is uninhabitable and the population has been devastated by past plagues. Planet surface colonization is limited, while many others live underground. Minh has the opportunity of a lifetime to participate in a research expedition to 2000 BC to learn about ancient Mesopotamia and the Tigris and Euphrates, with the hope that they can learn from the past to restore the rivers in the future. But this will be the first mission of its kind, and she must select her team carefully...
This short novella kind of feels like being slapped upside the head with information; Robson has shoved SO much detail and information into these pages and it's a little overwhelming until you start to orient yourself in this very different world. That said, it's well done -- there's just a lot going on. I enjoyed the characters and the story, but there's definitely a pervasive sense of bleakness that does not leave throughout. 4 stars.
But barring that, here are my top 10 books of the year, in the order in which I read them:
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
March: Book Three by John Lewis
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Early Riser by Jasper Fforde
Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Howards End by E. M. Forster
Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
A surprising amount of sci-fi this year, a few appearances by some favorite authors, and a few new favorite authors. Here's to 2020!