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Valkyrdeath's 2019 Reading Record Part 2

This is a continuation of the topic Valkyrdeath's 2019 Reading Record.

Club Read 2019

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Edited: Oct 14, 7:53pm Top

Time to start a new thread for my reading from August onwards...

Currently reading:
A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty
Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees

Books read:
81. An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine
82. Clue by Paul Allor, art by Nelson Daniel
83. Best of British Science Fiction 2018 edited by Donna Scott
84. The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice by Christopher Hitchens
85. Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett
86. The Forgotten Slaves of Tromelin by Sylvain Savoia
87. The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914 by Richard J. Evans

88. In Real Life by Charlayne Woodard
89. Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey
90. Capital by John Lanchester
91. Spring by Ali Smith
92. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 4 by Ryan North, art by Erica Henderson
93. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 5 by Ryan North, art by Erica Henderson
94. The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
95. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
96. Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
97. Monument: Poems New and Selected by Natasha Trethewey

98. Philip K. Dick: A Comics Biography by Laurent Queyssi, art by Mauro Marchesi
99. The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty
100. The Girl from HOPPERS by Jaime Hernandez
101. The Twilight Man: Rod Serling and the Birth of Television by Koren Shadmi
102. Batman: Mad Love and Other Stories by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm

Aug 20, 8:08pm Top

81. An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine
I really loved this book. It’s an extremely well written first person novel from the perspective of a reclusive Lebanese woman who translates novels for her own enjoyment. Very little actually happens in the book, but the narrator is a compelling and entertaining character and the writing so good that I just wanted to keep reading. I’m definitely going to be checking out more works by the author and have already picked out a couple that sound intriguing.

Edited: Aug 20, 9:03pm Top

>2 valkyrdeath: He has a fantastic Twitter feed, if you’re a Twitter user. Lots of art and poetry, often on themes, with a twinned appreciation of beauty and sense of humor.

Aug 24, 6:12pm Top

>3 lisapeet: That's interesting, I'll take a look! I used to be on Twitter but deleted my account since the site in general was making me depressed, but I still check out interesting people on there occasionally.

Aug 28, 8:03pm Top

82. Clue by Paul Allor art by Nelson Daniel
I’ve always been a fan of Cluedo, loving the original board game as a kid, playing computer game versions, and of course the film is one of the all-time great ensemble comedies. Because of that, I had to give this six issue comic series a go. I’m glad I did, since it was rather fun. It’s moved things to the modern day and does its own thing with the concept, though it’s full of references to the other versions, such as the reference to Mr. Boddy love of leaving random weapons in rooms and the first episode having three different alternate final pages (all included in this collected volume.) But it also has a butler that doubles up as narrator as well as character, constantly breaking the fourth wall and aware that he’s in a comic. It builds up to an ending that I really wasn’t expecting but that I really liked, though I feel it’s one that’s likely to have plenty of people hating it too. It’s not a classic like the film was, but it’s a fun read nonetheless.

Sep 1, 9:13pm Top

83. Best of British Science Fiction 2018 edited by Donna Scott
Another strong collection of science fiction stories, showing quite a wide range of themes are styles. As with any collection, I liked some stories better than others, but I don’t think there was anything I didn’t like at all. Some of the more memorable stories included the mystery themed Waterbirds by G V Anderson, the very brief –Good by Sunyi Dean and the musical dystopia of F Sharp 4 by Tim Pieraccini. Another great entry in this anthology series, which seems to always be worth reading.

Sep 2, 7:12pm Top

84. The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice by Christopher Hitchens
I’ve heard Mother Teresa mentioned around a few times recently, and it always seemed to be in a positive light, and then I realised she’d somehow been made a saint, so I thought it was time to refresh my memory to see if I was misremembering what she was like. And nope, she really was a nasty piece of work, believing it was good for the poor to suffer, keeping them in terrible conditions and refusing adequate treatment and pain relief to the dying because it’s God’s will (while of course getting all the best treatment for herself when ill). Then there’s the forced conversions of people on their death beds, or the fact that she let an entire homeless shelter project fall through because she refused to allow the building to have a lift for access for disabled people, or her associations with so many awful people. This is a very good book that’s built around documented facts and Mother Teresa’s own words. It’s rather depressing that someone so terrible is so revered.

Sep 14, 7:15pm Top

85. Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett
Continuing my Discworld rereads and back to the witches with this one. By this point, Pratchett was just on a string of great books and this is no exception. The witches are always such great, funny characters, the plot brings in evil elves and riffs on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and as is usual for these books, I spot new details and references that I’d missed before every time I read.

Sep 14, 8:29pm Top

>7 valkyrdeath: wow. I had heard of few negative thing, but wasn't aware it was so extensive.

>8 valkyrdeath: fun, one of the key ones I've missed.

Enjoyed catching up, and I'm intrigued by your comments on An Unnecessary Woman.

Sep 15, 5:54pm Top

>9 dchaikin: An Unnecessary Woman was excellent, but one of those books I found it hard to think what to say about it despite that. Sometimes the best books are the hardest to write about.

Sep 15, 6:28pm Top

86. The Forgotten Slaves of Tromelin by Sylvain Savoia
This was a really interesting graphical non-fiction book about a bit of history I wasn’t aware of. In 1761, a ship illegally carrying slaves was shipwrecked on Tromelin Island. The slaves helped to repair the ship and were then abandoned there. Some of them survived and ended up living there for 15 years before finally getting rescued. The book alternates between telling their story and the story of a modern day archaeological expedition to the island that the author travelled with. I found the historical sections more interesting than the author’s own story, but it worked overall. At the end of the book there’s a brief written account of the expedition by the leader of the expedition along with some photographs from it.

Sep 17, 7:05pm Top

87. The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914 by Richard J. Evans
This is an absolutely huge history book covering in great detail the history of Europe in the period from 1815 up to the start of WW1. Evans has a real knack for imparting a lot of information in a short space, so he really crams in the facts. I read it gradually, one of the eight chapters at a time, over about three months, because it felt a little overwhelming to do more than that at once. That’s not a negative though, it’s an excellent book that covers a huge range of topics across many different countries, and follows the impact of changes across Europe. It’s a book that will tell you the details of the big events, covering the many political revolutions and battles such as the Crimean war, but also going into social history, and covering changes in various artistic movements, music and literature. It discusses anything from various famines to the different suffrage movements, the Great Exhibition, or the fact that the first football match to take place in Poland lasted only 6 minutes due to a lack of understanding by the referee who ended the game once the first goal was scored. Each chapter also starts with a brief biography of an interesting person from the era. It’s a really impressive work in scope. It can be a bit dry at times due to the volume of information, but that doesn’t really bother me in a book of this sort and everything was presented clearly. I found this to be a really worthwhile read.

Sep 17, 7:55pm Top

>12 valkyrdeath: I look forward to getting to this one eventually!

Sep 19, 6:26pm Top

>13 mabith: I hope you enjoy it if you do!

Edited: Sep 22, 8:38pm Top

88. In Real Life by Charlayne Woodard
The third and final of Woodard’s trio of one woman autobiographical plays, this one covering her time covering the period of her life when she started acting. Once again, it’s an entertaining play that covers events with plenty of humour, and the performance of her audio version is very good. I’m not sure I liked it quite as much as the earlier ones, but it was still a good listen and effectively makes for an audio memoir when the three plays are listened to.

Sep 22, 8:51pm Top

89. Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey
This was a really good mystery novel that was outside the ordinary golden age mystery trappings. Brat Farrar is a character who bears a strong family resemblance to a boy who went missing years ago, presumed to have committed suicide. He gets roped in to pose as the long lost son in order to claim his inheritance. When there, things don’t go exactly as planned, and he finds himself uncovering past events while also growing attached to his new life. I really enjoyed this book. It’s very well written and has a different feel to the usual mysteries of the era. I’m looking forward to reading through Tey’s other works.

Sep 27, 6:07pm Top

90. Capital by John Lanchester
This book follows a group of characters who live in or have a connection to houses on a street in London where property values have gone up into the millions. Set before and during the 2008 financial crisis, the catalyst for the plot is when they all start getting postcards of their own houses through their doors saying “We want what you have.” That mystery runs through the book and is the thread that ties everything together, but it’s a character piece about the various very different people who live there. It’s well written, often funny, and I really enjoyed it.

Sep 28, 7:22pm Top

91. Spring by Ali Smith
The third of Smith’s season books, this is again separate from the previous ones but with thematic links. Again, it incorporates very current events and the state of the world, and this time pulls in the story of Katherine Mansfield and Rilke. And once again it starts with a twist on a Dickens opening line with “Now what we don't want is Facts.” I find it hard to know what to say about Ali Smith’s books other than that I really love her writing style and that somehow all the elements of her novels seem to come together into something that works for me but in a way I can’t really explain. I maybe didn’t like this one quite as much as the previous two, but I still really liked it and being Smith, there were regular moments of brilliance in the writing.

Sep 29, 6:49pm Top

92. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 4: I Kissed a Squirrel and I Liked It by Ryan North, art by Erica Henderson
93. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 5: Like I'm the Only Squirrel in the World by Ryan North, art by Erica Henderson
Another couple of volumes of Squirrel Girl, and they’re still hugely fun. There’s a good mixture of story arcs that span a few issues and single issue stories in between and the mock twitter pages that start each issue are still brilliant, as are the footnotes. Always a fun series to read.

Sep 30, 6:56pm Top

94. The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa translated by Stephen Snyder
The Memory Police is set on an island ruled by a regime that regularly makes things disappear. People will wake up one morning and find their memories of a certain thing have vanished and set about destroying the vanished items or face arrest by the Memory Police. It’s a dystopian novel, but one that feels rather different to the usual 1984 influenced books, and has a slightly more surreal tone, especially towards the end. It’s a shame that more Yoko Ogawa books haven’t been translated into English yet as I’ve enjoyed all the ones I’ve read so far.

Oct 2, 11:04am Top

>20 valkyrdeath: This is sitting on my coffee table, partially read. I will pick it up again when I have the brainspace to properly appreciate it.

Oct 5, 9:35pm Top

>21 rhian_of_oz: I'd certainly be interested to see how you find it. The ending was rather strange but I really enjoyed the overall style and feel of the book.

Oct 5, 9:36pm Top

95. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This was quite a depressing read, though with thankfully a more upbeat ending than it could have had. It was very well done for the target audience, though the teenageryness of it all did feel a bit overwhelming at times with random strange slang and an obsession with expensive trainers. I’m glad to have read it though and ended up liking the characters, and the story stays generally realistic, which is where the depressing part comes in.

Oct 6, 7:10pm Top

96. Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
Another Discworld classic, the second book featuring the Ankh Morpork City Watch. There’s a police procedural storyline, and disturbing new weapon known as a Gonne, and plenty of social commentary as the Watch takes on new members from various other species such as dwarves and trolls. The characters in the Watch books are always a lot of fun, and this book is constantly funny throughout, while also telling a great story. Another example of Pratchett at his best.

I was interested to see that the TV series based on The Watch finally seems to be coming out. Sadly, I was less than thrilled to hear that they’ve apparently turned Lady Sybil into a vigilante and cast an actress who looks decidedly thin. I always live in hope that one day someone will make the Discworld adaptation the books deserve.

Oct 10, 8:41am Top

>24 valkyrdeath: This was exactly my reaction to seeing the Discworld casting. Based on the article I read about it, it seems like they're changing quite a few things, but a thin and pretty Sybil who is apparently some kind of vigilante action hero is the one that really bothers me.

Oh, well. Even if it's disappointing, we'll always have the books!

Oct 10, 6:18pm Top

>25 bragan: Yeah, nothing can ruin the books, no matter what they do. They'll always be brilliant. But if they've turned Sybil into a young vigilante then I'm not even interested in watching the series. The article also doesn't mention Cheery as being a dwarf and instead refers to them as a non-binary forensics expert, which may just be them not giving the full information, but worries me nonetheless. Almost as worrying is the fact that in the announcement of the main cast there's no mention at all of Nobby and Colon, and without them, half of the core Watch members are missing. They can make all the new stories they want, the City Watch are absolutely the most perfect characters to spin off into a series with new stories, but they have to be consistent with the characters and world that Pratchett created. I never quite understand why studios seem incapable of doing adaptations like that.

Oct 10, 6:45pm Top

97. Monument: Poems New and Selected
This is a collection of poems taken from the author’s previous collections, grouped by book, plus some new ones. I’m not great with poetry but I enjoyed this book any found myself able to mostly understand them. It covers some dark territory at times, with quite a bit about her mother’s murder at the hands of her step-father. There are also poems about her relationship with her parents, who were married at a time when interracial marriages were still illegal. It covers quite a broad range of subjects over the course of the book though. I liked it but I’m no good at commenting on poems.

Oct 10, 6:58pm Top

98. Philip K. Dick: A Comics Biography by Laurent Queyssi, art by Mauro Marchesi
A brief and straightforward graphic biography of the science fiction author. It’s not hugely deep but is pretty good for what it is, following Philip K. Dick from awkward young man to author to his rather sad descent into paranoid delusions. He wrote some classic books but also went through several wives and by the end of his life was spouting bizarre conspiracy theories and writing thousands of pages of gibberish Exegesis based on his supposed religious revelations. A decent but patchy overview of the author’s life.

Oct 14, 7:51pm Top

99. The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty
This is the second book in the fantasy trilogy, following on from A Corner of White, and it continues to be a very imaginative and unusual story. Madeleine, living in our World, continues to communicate with Elliot in the kingdom of Cello, as they work to locate the missing royal family members and work out how to bring them home. There are lots of twists and turns along the way, keeping the plot intriguing, while there’s also plenty of humour too, and the characters are all a lot of fun. I really enjoy this series, and have moved straight onto the final book.

Group: Club Read 2019

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