Valkyrdeath's 2019 Reading Record

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Valkyrdeath's 2019 Reading Record

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1valkyrdeath
Editado: Ago 20, 2019, 8:03pm

Year six of doing these threads it seems. Due to various circumstances I had a bad last few months of last year and fell behind on everyone’s threads, though I did catch up on them all right at the end but didn’t have time to do much in the way of commenting. Hopefully this time I’ll keep up with everything better and try and increase my reading again. As usual I’ll try and keep my reading as diverse and varied as possible, hopefully read through some more old science fiction along the way, and possibly have my usual goal of reading more non-fiction too.

Books read:
1. Guapa by Saleem Haddad
2. Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
3. The Digital Antiquarian Volume 8: 1986 by Jimmy Maher
4. Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
5. Tommy Rot: WWI Poetry They Didn't Let You Read by John Sadler and Rosie Serdiville
6. Exit Strategy by Martha Wells
7. Failure is an Option by H. Jon Benjamin
8. Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus The Corduroy Kid by Simon Armitage
9. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
10. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1 by Ryan North

11. Why Poetry by Matthew Zapruder
12. Lifeboat No. 8: An Untold Tale of Love, Loss and Surviving the Titanic by Elizabeth Kaye
13. Watch on the Rhine by Lillian Hellman
14. Magda by Meike Ziervogel
15. As Far As I Know by Roger McGough
16. Krapp's Last Tape and Embers by Samuel Beckett
17. Top Girls by Caryl Churchill
18. Right Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse
19. Loser Takes All by Graham Greene
20. Bad Houses by Sara Ryan
21. The Mountains of Mourning by Lois McMaster Bujold
22. Only a Trillion by Isaac Asimov
23. The Safety of Objects by A. M. Homes
24. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
25. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
26. Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions by Valeria Luiselli
27. Infidel by Pornsak Pichetshote

28. Comfort Station by Donald E. Westlake
29. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
30. The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold
31. Pretty Fire by Charlayne Woodard
32. Artful by Ali Smith
33. A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen
34. Becoming Unbecoming by Una
35. Accidental Death of an Anarchist by Dario Fo, translated by Simon Nye
36. Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa
37. Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
38. Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord
39. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Carey Elwes
40. The Teacher of Cheops by Albert Salvado
41. Six Degrees of Separation by John Guare

42. Circe by Madeline Miller
43. Mala by Melinda Lopez
44. The Canon: The Beautiful Basics of Science by Natalie Angier
45. The Man Who Would Be Kling by Adam Roberts
46. Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli
47. Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story by Michael Rosen
48. Tentacle by Rita Indiana
49. Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

50. Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold
51. A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
52. I Have Crossed an Ocean by Grace Nichols
53. Neat by Charlayne Woodard
54. Fun by Paolo Bacilieri
55. The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman
56. Hinges Book 1: Clockwork City by Meredith McClaren
57. Hinges Book 2: Paper Tigers by Meredith McClaren
58. Hinges Book 3: Mechanical Men by Meredith McClaren
59. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
60. Embassytown by China Mieville

61. The Early Years: The Lyrics of Tom Waits by Tom Waits
62. Jimmy the Kid by Donald E. Westlake
63. A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters
64. The Art of Point-and-Click Adventure Games
65. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 2 by Ryan North, art by Erica Henderson
66. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 3 by Ryan North, art by Erica Henderson
67. 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 by a bunch of people
68. The Door by Magda Szabo
69. Station by Johanna Stokes
70. The Actual One by Isy Suttie

71. Sabrina by Nick Drnaso
72. A Case of Conscience by James Blish
73. Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire
74. The Late Child and Other Animals by Marguerite Van Cook
75. Spilt Milk by Chico Buarque
76. Maggie the Mechanic by Jaime Hernandez
77. Paradox Girl Volume 1 by Cayti Bourquin, art by Yishan Li
78. Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
79. The Flintstones Vol. 1 by Mark Russell, art by Steve Pugh
80. The Flintstones Vol. 2 by Mark Russell, art by Steve Pugh

2valkyrdeath
Jan 1, 2019, 9:17pm

Book stats for 2018:
101 books read made up of:
45 novels
25 graphic works
18 non-fiction books
11 short story collections
1 play
1 poetry collection

51 books by women, 46 books by men
Books from 23 different countries and by 80 different authors.

3dchaikin
Jan 1, 2019, 11:24pm

Nice numbers, Gary. Happy 2019!

4valkyrdeath
Jan 2, 2019, 9:38pm

>3 dchaikin: Thank you, a happy 2019 to you too!

5valkyrdeath
Jan 2, 2019, 9:39pm

And now a random and incomplete assortment of some of my favourite reads of 2018.

Fiction:
Autumn by Ali Smith (and Winter)
Union Street by Pat Barker
Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier
The Informers by Juan Gabriel Vasquez
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth by Xiaolu Guo
Tenth of December by George Saunders
Any Terry Pratchett or Lindsey Davis books I read throughout the year

Non-Fiction:
The Proud Tower by Barbara W. Tuchman
Ways of Seeing by John Berger
Dr Mutter's Marvels by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz
Never Stop Walking by Christina Rickardsson
The Riddle of the Labyrinth by Margalit Fox

Graphic Works:
March Books 1, 2 and 3 by John Lewis
Belonging by Nora Krug
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Top Ten by Alan Moore

6mabith
Jan 2, 2019, 9:52pm

Here's to another good reading year!

7valkyrdeath
Jan 3, 2019, 6:21pm

>6 mabith: Thank you, we can but hope!

8valkyrdeath
Jan 16, 2019, 7:11pm


1. Guapa by Saleem Haddad
This was a good start to the year. I knew nothing about this book before it came up as a selection for an online book club so I decided to start the year with it. It takes place over the course of a single day in the life of Rasa, though with large flashbacks to earlier periods of his life. It covers a lot of territory for a book that isn’t especially long and is well written and easy to read, and had a lot more complexity than expected. Rasa is living in an unspecified Arab country in upheaval between a ruling dictator and an equally oppressive rebellion, while also in fear of his grandmother having discovered his homosexuality by catching him with his lover the previous night. The flashbacks reveal his earlier family life and his time studying in America at the time of the 2001 terrorist attacks. I found it really quite impressive for a debut novel and I’ll certainly be interested in seeing what the author might write in the future.

9dchaikin
Jan 17, 2019, 1:05pm

>8 valkyrdeath: noting. Sounds really good.

10valkyrdeath
Jan 18, 2019, 6:36pm

>9 dchaikin: It was definitely a good one and well worth a read.

11valkyrdeath
Editado: Jan 18, 2019, 6:39pm


2. Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
Book two of the four Murderbot Diaries novellas. This time the construct gets dragged into helping out another group of humans intent on getting themselves into danger, though this time posing as an augmented human so as not to have their rogue status discovered. Meanwhile, they’re investigating the events revealed about their own past in the previous book to find out exactly what happened. They’re being reluctantly assisted by a research vessel AI that Murderbot christens ART (short for Asshole Research Transport). It’s another really fun read, with Murderbot’s sarcastic internal commentary adding humour to the plot, as again they’d rather be binging on TV shows and books than having to save stupid humans from themselves. I’m really enjoying this series so far, and should be finishing the other two books later this month.

12rhian_of_oz
Jan 20, 2019, 4:21am

>11 valkyrdeath: That sounds like fun. I've added All Systems Red to my wishlist.

13valkyrdeath
Jan 20, 2019, 5:55pm

>12 rhian_of_oz: Hope you enjoy it if you get to it. It's a very quick read and a fun sci-fi story.

14valkyrdeath
Jan 20, 2019, 7:07pm


3. The Digital Antiquarian Volume 8: 1986 by Jimmy Maher
I’m continuing on with these collections of articles on the history of narrative computer gaming, originally from The Digital Antiquarian blog. As always, these are really well written and informative and manager to tell really interesting stories about the people involved. The centrepiece of this volume is the coverage of the Infocom classic Trinity, which spans nine articles and around a quarter of the whole book, and mostly involves a detailed account of the Reagan era Cold War that provided the impetus for the game. Aside from that, it covers the usual array of important and influential games and the story behind the creation of the Amiga computer.

15valkyrdeath
Jan 22, 2019, 6:41pm


4. Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
Onwards to book three of the Murderbot Diaries. Still really enjoyable, and the narrator is great as ever. This one did start a little slower than the others with no-one to interact with for quite some time, but it soon picked up. Another fun read, maybe not quite as good as the previous two but not too far off.

16valkyrdeath
Jan 24, 2019, 6:49pm


5. Tommy Rot: WWI Poetry They Didn't Let You Read by John Sadler & Rosie Serdiville
This is another one of those books with a misleading subtitle. Not sure where the “They Didn’t Let You Read” part comes in other than someone thinking it would make the book sound tempting if people think the poems were banned. They weren’t, these are just poems that are mostly not by famous war poets but taken from other sources such as letters from soldiers or in some cases newspapers which definitely doesn’t strike me as something anyone was trying to prevent people from reading.

Anyway, this collects all sorts of different types of poetry grouped into chapters, one for each year of WWI plus one covering the home front. It’s definitely good to have books like this covering different perspectives of the war, and each poem was introduced with a bit of background information about the events the poem is relating or about the person who wrote it. It covers the change from the early years full of patriotic verse to the later more bitter and more anti-war poems, with a smattering of trench humour throughout. It wasn’t amazing overall though, since it was fairly brief and despite their attempts to group them mostly felt like a muddle of random poems, but I certainly don’t regret reading it.

17dchaikin
Jan 25, 2019, 12:59pm

>16 valkyrdeath: interesting, certainly sounds like it has value to fill in some color on the era...although it reminds me I haven’t read the famous wwi poets yet.

18valkyrdeath
Jan 25, 2019, 6:51pm

>17 dchaikin: They're probably a better bet anyway. A lot of these ones weren't famous poets for a reason, the value is just that of getting different perspectives, but I don't think it's the best book for doing that really.

19valkyrdeath
Editado: Jan 27, 2019, 6:50pm


6. Exit Strategy by Martha Wells
Finishing off the last of the four Murderbot Diaries novellas, and this one brings the series to a suitable conclusion. All the books work as stories on their own, but together they form a sort of four part novel with an overarching plot tying them together, and this one in particular wouldn’t work so well without having read the others. It sees Murderbot finally returning to the crew they were with in the first book, and I loved it. I was disappointed not to see the return of ART though, but I’ve since learnt that she’s now writing a full Murderbot novel which will see them reunited, so I’m now looking forward to that!

20valkyrdeath
Jan 27, 2019, 7:06pm


7. Failure is an Option: An Attempted Memoir by H. Jon Benjamin
I know the author mainly as the voice of Bob in Bob’s Burgers so when I saw this was available in audio read by him I decided to give it a go. It’s a sort of memoir highlighting moments in his life where he’s failed at things, and how sometimes that’s led him to better things. It’s mainly for humorous purposes and it was funny at times, though it’s very light weight and nothing too spectacular. Sometimes that’s all you need from a book though. It did lead me to discover his jazz album, “Well, I Should Have Learned How to Play Piano”, where he plays piano badly in the middle of a group of professional jazz musicians.

21valkyrdeath
Fev 2, 2019, 7:46pm


8. Tyrannosaurus Rex versus the Corduroy Kid by Simon Armitage
I still try reading poetry occasionally, and every so often I come across a poem I really like, though the vast majority of poetry I don’t understand at all. I knew nothing about Simon Armitage but thought I’d pick up a random poetry book from the library and the title sounded fun. I didn’t understand any of it, but it’s no comment on the quality of the poetry, that’s just my standard reaction to most poems, so I can’t really comment much on it, so I’ll leave it at that.

22valkyrdeath
Fev 3, 2019, 6:46pm


9. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Set in the aftermath of the American Civil War in an alternate history where the dead started rising from their graves at Gettysburg, Dread Nation follows Jane, initially studying at Miss Preston's School of Combat for Negro Girls. When the dead rose, the Union and the Confederates cease fighting each other to deal with the thread of the Shamblers. Or at least, to make the former slaves fight them. I’m not a fan of zombies in general, especially in recent years when they’ve been so overused, but this book was excellent. Jane is a wonderful protagonist and narrator; smart, sarcastic and funny, making a fun read out of what is generally a very dark story. The undead are mostly used as the catalyst for the situation, and the nature of them being zombies isn’t especially relevant compared to any other thread. They work well though, and there are some great action sequences, as well as the often more disturbing scenes involving the racism of the time. The ending was good at wrapping up everything too, while still leaving it set up for a possible sequel, which I’d definitely be reading.

23valkyrdeath
Fev 11, 2019, 7:22pm


10. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1 by Ryan North
The first volume of this superhero comic, and it’s extremely fun. With all the dark gloominess overtaking so many superhero stories in recent years, it’s great to see books that are just aiming to be funny. And it is very funny, full of jokes on every page, extra jokes in footnotes at the bottom, really entertaining characters and just general silliness. It does mix in with other Marvel characters, mainly Iron Man in this book, but in a fun way and I never felt I needed to already know much about the other characters to enjoy it. I look forward to continuing with the series.

24valkyrdeath
Fev 11, 2019, 7:23pm


11. Why Poetry by Matthew Zapruder
As I mentioned back in >21 valkyrdeath:, I’m not very good with poetry generally and while I’ll come across the occasional poem I really like, I just don’t understand most of it. Because of that, this book seemed like an ideal book to see if I could make sense of poetry in general. Sadly, it just didn’t work for me. The main conceit of the book set out at the start is that poetry is easy to understand and that the only reason readers don’t understand it is they’re reading it wrong, and that’s it’s all down to the way poetry is taught in schools. Poems aren’t all about hidden meanings that have to be analysed, but should start by being read literally. This didn’t help me, since I do read poems literally, and that’s where I fall down since they often seem meaningless. He recommends reading with a dictionary and looking up the words and investigating the different uses of them, but this seems to be missing the point, since I understand the words, just not the strange order poets often put them in. The author also continually contradicts himself. After having said poetry is actually easy, when it comes to the examples of poetry that he uses he’ll then often explain what makes them difficult. After saying poems don’t need to be analysed, he’ll then proceed to analyse every poem he quotes in the book and say what he thinks they mean.

Most irritating of all for me was somewhere in the middle of the book, where he flat out says that people who prefers direct statements of meaning to metaphors are “dullards”. Surely that’s a major part of the target audience, those of us who don’t understand why something would be written as poetry, given the title of the book and the introduction? He also doesn’t really give any explanation as to why I should prefer metaphors to people just saying what they mean. Up to that point I thought the author was just trying his best to sort out a complex subject and getting in a muddle doing it, but after that he just felt like exactly the sort of literary snob that he claims not to be when he says poetry is accessible to everyone. Insulting me as a reader certainly wasn’t going to endear him to me. He then finishes up with a load of stuff about how essential poetry is and how it says things that otherwise can’t be said in words, though I still didn’t get any sort of clear idea as to why he thought this.

What the book did do though, by using various examples throughout the book, is remind me that there really are poems I like. A lot of the poems I didn’t understand, sometimes ever after his explanations, but there were poems by Adrienne Rich and Audre Lorde that I really liked and made me note them to read some more of their work in the future, so if nothing else, the book has inspired me to read more poetry still, in spite of the author’s best efforts to irritate me.

25NanaCC
Fev 11, 2019, 9:40pm

I’ve enjoyed catching up, Gary. I don’t always comment, but I will be reading everything.

26dchaikin
Fev 13, 2019, 1:12pm

>24 valkyrdeath: Sounds like a typical book on understanding poetry. Quick to tell you it’s easy and you’re over-analyzing, but not able to provide you with any alternative on how to see whatever it is the author sees.

27valkyrdeath
Fev 13, 2019, 6:44pm

>25 NanaCC: Thanks for stopping by! I often don't comment much either even though I'm always reading other threads.

>26 dchaikin: I've never read any others, but it was certainly like that. This one talked a lot about dream like states and saying things that can't be said in words, apparently ignoring the fact that poems are written in words, but it was all very vague.

28valkyrdeath
Fev 16, 2019, 7:11pm


12. Lifeboat No. 8: An Untold Tale of Love, Loss, and Surviving the Titanic by Elizabeth Kaye
An interesting little read about a group of passengers on the Titanic and how they came to end up on one particular lifeboat escaping the sinking ship. It was an extremely short book though, and as such didn’t go into a great deal of detail. I was expecting it to go a bit further into the lives of these people and to show more of what happened to them afterwards, but there are quite a lot of characters for such a short book and we basically just got a short paragraph each about what happened to them after their return. For example it throws in a couple of lines saying the body of the husband of one of the women who escaped was never recovered and so he couldn’t be declared dead, so his mother forged a death certificate so the wife could get her inheritance. That sounds like an interesting story I’d like to hear about, but then it instantly moves on to someone else entirely!

Anyway, what is there is interesting to read, but I couldn’t help feeling it was too rushed, and should either have concentrated one less people in more detail, or just been a longer book.

29valkyrdeath
Fev 17, 2019, 7:27pm


13. Watch on the Rhine by Lillian Hellman
A 1941 play where a daughter and her family living in Europe visit her relatives in the US. The husband is an anti-Nazi resistance fighter, but unfortunately another guest in the house is a Romanian count who has been conspiring with the Germans and blackmails him under the threat of turning him over to the authorities. It’s quite well written and has a nice amount of humour from one of the characters in particular despite the dark story. It’s quite clear the play was written to try and show the dangers of the Nazis to an America that hadn’t yet got involved in the war.

30valkyrdeath
Fev 17, 2019, 7:39pm


14. Magda by Meike Ziervogel
From one WW2 themed book to another, this one is a novelised account of the last days of Magda Goebbels via her relationship with her mother and her daughter. The chapters jump around from different perspectives, from the diaries of her oldest daughter to her mother’s account to a post-war investigation. She did manage to differentiate the different voices very well, and the chapters from Magda’s own perspective talk of Hitler in religious language complete with capitalisation for He and Him. It’s a novel, and a brief afterword points out that the book is about an abusive mother-daughter relationship looking into the psychology of the characters rather than aiming for precise historical accuracy, and it did this quite well. Not an absolute favourite but a decent read.

31dchaikin
Fev 20, 2019, 1:00pm

These latest are all new to me. Curious about Lillian Hellman.

32valkyrdeath
Fev 21, 2019, 6:33pm

>31 dchaikin: I've got two other plays by Lillian Hellman that I intend to get to at some point. I wasn't really familiar with her before, so aside from the play it was interesting to learn things about her such as her blacklisting during the Communist witch hunts and her long term relationship with Dashiell Hammett.

33dchaikin
Fev 21, 2019, 7:40pm

>32 valkyrdeath: See. Another fascinating person I suspect I had never heard of before your review.

34valkyrdeath
Editado: Fev 23, 2019, 7:24pm


15. As Far As I Know by Roger McGough
Another book of poetry, and this one I really enjoyed and understood every poem. Roger McGough is often funny, though not all the poems are comic ones. He does have some fun poems that show off a gift for wordplay, such as in Indefinite Definition where he assigns definitions to words but with the leading a or an separated so that “abrupt” becomes “a brupt”, or Window-gazing where he spins off short pieces from various windows, from the “Butcher’s window” to the less literal “Window of opportunity”. Most of the poems are more serious though, and I really liked those ones too. This was one of my favourite ones

Another Time, Another Place

Another Time

A summer’s day on the beach at Seaforth.
There is a war on, so sunshine is rationed, and the sea
half a mile away, never more than a wet promise.
Unmanned pill-boxes gaze sullenly out over the Mersey.
Rotting dragon’s teeth, half submerged, wait to repel
enemy tanks. Crabs scuttle across minefields.

A three-year-old follows the ball
as it bounces over the wire
and skims across the sand,
windswept, light as a balloon.

A girl still in her teens
finds the gap in the barbed wire
and races after him.
Scoops him up and bursts into tears.

The area had been cordoned off
and the MOD signs made clear the danger.
But little boys can’t read
and balls are there for the chasing.

Another Place

A summer’s day with Auntie Kath on the beach at Crosbie,
where a platoon of Gormley’s iron men are now stationed.
Has she any recollection of running across a minefield
to rescue me all those years ago? Or is my imagination
playing tricks? A scene perhaps from a film half recalled?

‘All true,’ she says. ‘You gave us the fright of our lives
running off like that.’ ‘It was the big red rubber ball.’
I said. ‘I remember chasing after it in the wind.’
My aunt stopped. ‘Red rubber ball? There was no ball.
You were following the dog. You remember Goldie?’

A golden retriever finds a gap in the barbed wire
and races across the sand. Suddenly an explosion.
The dog obliterated in one ear-splitting instant.
The child turned into an iron statue. Eyes tightly shut
he watches the red ball bounce harmlessly into the distance.

35valkyrdeath
Editado: Fev 23, 2019, 9:16pm


16. Krapp’s Last Tape and Embers by Samuel Beckett
This brief book collects two short plays by Beckett, the first for stage and the second for radio. Krapp’s Last Tape features an old man listening and commenting on a tape he had recorded many years earlier and commenting on it before recording a new one, and was quite powerful for such a short play. It had its moments of humour, though not on the level of Waiting for Godot, and the stage directions were very specific so I could basically imagine how it would look performed. Embers was designed for radio with sound effects described, but it didn’t quite click for me.

36baswood
Fev 24, 2019, 6:30pm

>34 valkyrdeath: Nice to see a poem by Roger McGough one of the contributors to The Mersey Sound a famous collection from 1967.

37valkyrdeath
Fev 24, 2019, 7:17pm

>36 baswood: That sounds like an interesting collection, I might check it out. This was my first time reading a McGough book, but he turned up as the guest voice of the Guide in a live stage adaptation of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy I saw a few years ago.

38valkyrdeath
Fev 24, 2019, 7:31pm


17. Top Girls by Caryl Churchill
This was a play I liked in the end, though it was a big difficult to start with. Churchill seems to use the same overlapping dialogue technique that Robert Altman used in his films, and while it worked well on film to make the conversations feel very natural and presumably does the same on stage, it was a bit tough to actually read when you’d have the second half of a sentence a couple of lines further down from the first half. This thankfully eased off after the first few pages though and ultimately it was very readable. The play is centred on Marlene, who has fought her way to the top of her business by exploiting others in the then-current Thatcher era Britain. Obviously given the mention of Thatcher, it’s not an especially happy story in the end. It’s split into three acts, and the first one is very strange, featuring a dinner party to celebrate Marlene’s promotion where she meets with various real and fictional women from history. The other two acts form a more normal play structure. An interesting read but a play that’s probably a lot better to see than to read.

39valkyrdeath
Fev 24, 2019, 8:14pm


18. Right Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse
It’s taken me years but I’ve finally read a Wodehouse novel. As expected, it had some very funny moments in it with problems piling up and Bertie’s attempts to fix things repeatedly making them worse. I’ll likely be reading some more in the future.

40valkyrdeath
Fev 24, 2019, 8:22pm


19. Loser Takes All by Graham Greene
And now another author who I hadn’t got round to reading until now, this is a short novel by Graham Greene about a couple on honeymoon in Monte Carlo, where they get stranded for a while. The man is an assistant accountant and decides he can beat the casinos with a system, but ultimately it doesn’t do much good for his relationship. It’s a fun light read with Noel Coward-like dialogue between the characters. Nothing deep, but enjoyable.

41dchaikin
Fev 27, 2019, 1:18pm

Catching up, an eclectic last several. Enjoyed the McGough poem.

42valkyrdeath
Fev 27, 2019, 7:28pm


20. Bad Houses by Sara Ryan art by Carla Speed McNeil
This is a really good graphic novel about people in a small town in Oregon called Failin, as the lives of two teenagers and their families come together via an estate sale. It’s a mostly quiet book focusing on the characters in not particularly happy circumstances, with Lewis roped into running the family business with his mother while Ann has to deal with her mother’s obsessive hoarding and her rather disturbing new partner. It felt believable and I got to like and feel involved with the characters. The writing is extremely good and the artwork complements it nicely. I hope to see more from Sara Ryan.

43valkyrdeath
Fev 27, 2019, 8:22pm


21. The Mountains of Mourning by Lois McMaster Bujold
Carrying on with my reading of the Vorkosigan Saga I came to this novella between the longer books. It’s from a bit later in her career than the last novel I read and whether or not that’s the reason, this is better all round, with far more depth than I was expecting from it. Moving away from the style of the last book, this one sees Miles doing some detective work in a rural area, keeping the science fiction elements fairly low key this time around. Barrayaran society is changing by now but some remote villages are slow to catch up with the times, and when a baby is murdered for being born with a deformity it’s decided it needs to be dealt with in a high profile way to send a message that nothing like that will be tolerated anymore, and so Miles is sent. Given his own condition, it’s obviously something that has a strong resonance for him. It’s a fairly dark story given the themes, dealing with prejudices and residents obstructing the investigation, but it’s very well written and easy to read, and Miles feels a bit more mature and thoughtful than in the last book. I didn’t know until after I’d read it, but this won Best Novella in both the Hugo and Nebula awards, and I can definitely understand why. It’s an excellent mystery story with deeper more thoughtful themes than expected, and it makes me look forward even more to reading through this series.

44rhian_of_oz
Fev 28, 2019, 10:41am

>43 valkyrdeath: I love the Vorkosigan Saga so I'm looking forward to your reviews as you make your way through it.

45valkyrdeath
Fev 28, 2019, 7:15pm

>44 rhian_of_oz: I'm definitely enjoying the series so far, and I'm currently about half way through The Vor Game. I'm very glad I was finally convinced the give the series ago.

46valkyrdeath
Fev 28, 2019, 7:53pm


22. Only a Trillion by Isaac Asimov
A collection of science essays by Asimov, which are written in a light, humorous and easy to read way. Science has obviously moved on since this was written but despite the age of the book, a lot of the subjects are still relevant and it had some interesting topics about chemical elements both in general and in the human body. The book then ends with two fiction chapters. First is a compilation of his two spoof science papers about thiotimoline, an impossible substance that somehow dissolves slightly before water is added, set out in a convincing way complete with experiment designs and tables of results. The second is a funny story about the discovery of a literal goose that lays golden eggs. An enjoyable read all round as expected from Asimov.

47valkyrdeath
Fev 28, 2019, 8:18pm


23. The Safety of Objects by A. M. Homes
A collection of short stories that I picked up randomly at the library, not knowing much about it. The stories are all very well written but it didn’t quite work in general for me. The book doesn’t seem to have a lot to say other than that people are terrible. The characters are basically all awful, with parents getting time away from their kids using it to take drugs or a child getting kidnapped only to have very little reaction to anything other than to feel rejected when he gets returned later. Despite the array of characters, I felt the writing style tended to make the voices of them all feel a bit samey so they started to blend together, aside from the final story which was just bizarre, about a boy having a relationship with his sister’s Barbie doll. It felt like most of the stories were just trying to shock and I’m not sure they had much going for them aside from that, and it just didn’t have much impact for me. They were easy and quick to read and the writing was good though, but I don’t think they’re going to stay with me.

48avidmom
Fev 28, 2019, 9:48pm

>47 valkyrdeath:
I don’t think they’re going to stay with me.
Sounds like that may be a good thing!

49valkyrdeath
Mar 2, 2019, 7:00pm

>48 avidmom: You're probably right! Though I discovered afterwards that a film was made based on the book where they're tried to link all of the stories together which I'm almost tempted to see just to discover just how they manage to do that.

50valkyrdeath
Mar 2, 2019, 7:26pm


24. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
A reread of this classic dystopian novel. It’s been over 10 years since I last read it, and I think I possibly enjoyed it even more this time around. There were moments I’d forgotten but a surprising amount of it came back to me as soon as I started reading. It’s well written and depressingly relevant all these years later, and it’s also reminded me of the other Ray Bradbury books I still have to get to.

51avidmom
Mar 2, 2019, 9:29pm

>50 valkyrdeath: Did you see the HBO movie Fahrenheit 451? I thought it was pretty good. Love this book too but it's the only Bradbury I've read also.

52valkyrdeath
Mar 3, 2019, 9:46am

>51 avidmom: I didn't, I've only just learnt that there was a new film version! I'll have to check it out. I still haven't seen the 60s film version either though I've long been meaning to.

53valkyrdeath
Mar 3, 2019, 7:47pm


25. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
I read my first Dostoyevsky five years ago shortly after joining this site, and I really enjoyed it, but it’s taken me until now to read another for some reason. This one follows Raskolnikov has he commits a crime that he feels he can morally justify, and his mental unravelling afterwards, with various side plots along the way. I don’t think I need to go into any more detail when it’s a classic like this. I enjoyed this book, and found Dostoyevsky’s writing as compelling as last time despite the occasional slower moment. The plot picks up pace as it goes along. Aside from the other reasons for reading it, I was also interested to see the occasional brief appearances of the investigating detective since I’d heard the creators of Columbo explaining how he was an influence on the character. Not sure which of Dostoyevsky’s works I’ll read next now.

54dchaikin
Mar 4, 2019, 1:57pm

I could almost repost from #41 above. Interesting about Homes. I’ve been curious about her since reading a memorable short story years ago. Also I’m always curious to see how one responds to Dostoyevsky. C&P is quite an experience.

55valkyrdeath
Mar 4, 2019, 6:54pm

>54 dchaikin: I do like to keep things eclectic. I think the Homes stories may have held up better as individual things. I think reading them all together in a collection made them feel a bit monotonous in the end. Do you know what story it was you read? Crime and Punishment was certainly an immersive read, really getting into the psychological depths of the charaters.

56dchaikin
Mar 4, 2019, 10:08pm

>55 valkyrdeath: The story was called Do Not Disturb. It was in a short story anthology from - maybe 2005??

57valkyrdeath
Mar 5, 2019, 7:09pm

>56 dchaikin: Thanks, I might try and read that at some point to see how it compares to the book I read.

58valkyrdeath
Mar 5, 2019, 7:34pm


26. Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli
“Tell me how it ends, Mamma, my daughter asks me.

I don't know.

Tell me what happens next.

Sometimes I make up an ending, a happy one. But most of the time I just say: I don't know how it ends yet.”

This is a beautifully written short book about the problems faced by Central American children attempting to cross the border to the US to get refugee status. It’s framed around the forty questions asked by immigration lawyers trying to ascertain the circumstances of each child quickly to see which have the best chances of success given the numbers involved, and is based around her own experiences working as a translator between the children and the lawyers. As can be expected, it’s not a happy read, as we hear the circumstances the children are fleeing from, the horrendous dangers they face passing through Mexico and the bureaucracy faced on entering the US. An important subject to read about.

59wandering_star
Mar 5, 2019, 8:27pm

>34 valkyrdeath: Wonderful poem, thank you!

60valkyrdeath
Mar 7, 2019, 7:32pm

>59 wandering_star: Glad you liked it, I'm always happy to find poems that I like!

61valkyrdeath
Mar 7, 2019, 8:54pm


27. Infidel by Pornsak Pichetshote
This graphic novel is a haunted house story, or more accurately a haunted apartment building, with a multicultural group of characters. It’s also a story about racism, with the ghost encouraging worse and worse acts of prejudice and violence. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t as good as it could be, with the story sometimes feeling a bit rushed and the resolution not being particularly satisfying. It also lacks the creeping suspense of the great haunted house stories, favourite gruesome imagery instead. Readable but not great.

62valkyrdeath
Mar 10, 2019, 8:06pm


28. Comfort Station by Donald E. Westlake
Written in 1973 by J. Morgan Cunningham, this book was originally over 3 million words long, but the editors at the publisher trimmed out everything but what was essential to the story, leaving this slim volume, much to the annoyance of the author. That’s the story the publisher’s note and introduction to the book gives anyway. In actual fact, this is by Donald E. Westlake writing entirely in character as the above author, parodying the books of Arthur Hailey. This isn’t a book to read for any sort of clever plot or in depth characters, it’s all out spoof, but it’s a very funny one. It works specifically as a parody of Hailey’s work but also works well as just a general spoof of the sort of badly written books that everyone who reads a lot is bound to have encountered. This is a fairly minor Westlake work, but his comic genius shines through and it had me laughing many times throughout, with lines such as the opening “Rain poured down like water out of the cloud-covered sky, which was above the city.” “The rain fell everywhere on the city, on rich and on poor, on young and on old, on happy and on unhappy – but not on people inside their houses. If the roofs were okay.” It has conversations that are there to explain random things the author has come up with in his research, it has a character who has a flashback that would fill 9 pages if only he didn’t keep getting distracted every time he tried to start it, it has purposefully clumsy description and knowing references to literary clichés. It’s a very silly book and definitely not for everyone, but it made me laugh and sometimes that’s all something needs to do. I loved it.

There must have been something about Hailey’s work that was rife for parody, given this book and the fact that the classic comedy film Airplane! was a spoof of Zero Hour! which was scripted by Arthur Hailey, even using a lot of the dialogue directly.

63auntmarge64
Mar 10, 2019, 8:52pm

>62 valkyrdeath: Haha, very clever....

64valkyrdeath
Mar 11, 2019, 9:49pm

>63 auntmarge64: It was, and the original edition of the book had the pseudonym listed as author on the main page, with a blurb from Westlake saying "I wish I had written this book!" which I found amusing but then forgot to mention in my comments.

65valkyrdeath
Mar 11, 2019, 9:49pm


29. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
The first in a series of novellas, this is set in a boarding school for all those children who have passed through doorways and entered fantasy worlds who have then been sent back to the real world. As far as the parents are concerned, it’s a school to help disturbed children recover from their delusional fantasies, but in reality it’s to help them cope with the loss of the world they preferred and maybe even occasionally help them get back to it. I came across this quite randomly and liked the concept and decided to give it a go, and was pleasantly surprised. It had an array of diverse characters, including an asexual lead character and another major character who is transgender, but treated fairly casually without it being a plot focus. The book developed into a murder mystery plot about half way through too. If anything though, this felt a bit too short and it seemed to rush through major events to fit into the novella length when it seems like the story would have been more suited to a novel with more space to devote to the characters and pacing. Still, it was quite well written and I enjoyed it as a fun quick read and I intend to read the rest of the series.

66valkyrdeath
Mar 12, 2019, 8:51pm


30. The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold
Another Vorkosigan book, and this time Miles gets posted to an arctic base as meteorologist before ending up juggling multiple identities undercover while returning to the Dendarii Mercenaries from The Warrior’s Apprentice. This is another excellent science fiction read, and the characters felt more enjoyable to read about this time than in the previous novel. It’s a pity that the opening section in the base couldn’t have been a novel in its own right though, since it seemed to be heading into mystery territory there before taking a complete change of direction. It almost felt like this could have been two novels rather than just one. It was really good though and I’m again looking forward to the next book.

67auntmarge64
Editado: Mar 12, 2019, 10:47pm

>29 valkyrdeath: Every Heart a Doorway - what an interesting concept for an institution. And my library has a copy!

68rhian_of_oz
Mar 13, 2019, 11:45am

>65 valkyrdeath: I read this on the weekend (review pending) and thoroughly enjoyed it. I can see what you mean about character development, though I was less worried about that because I figured we would get more as the series progresses. I totally wasn't expecting the very end!

69valkyrdeath
Mar 13, 2019, 7:44pm

>67 auntmarge64: If it sounds interesting then it's worth a go, since it's a very quick read!

>68 rhian_of_oz: I felt more like the actual mystery plot was a bit rushed. It had to spend half the book setting up the concept of the series so it only had half a novella to do the entire storyline in, and it could certainly have done more. There was also a moment where it felt like they were blatantly shown who did it and somehow didn't catch on. I still liked it though. I'll be looking forward to your review!

70valkyrdeath
Mar 13, 2019, 8:42pm


31. Pretty Fire by Charlayne Woodard
This is a one woman play and I listened to a live audio performance by the author herself, which worked very well since it’s an autobiographical play about her childhood from birth up to about the age of 11. It’s basically five scenes from different moments in her childhood and it’s often very funny, though it deals with disturbing themes of racism and sexual abuse at times too. It’s a well told memoir but also a well-structured piece of theatre, especially the section involving the KKK, which is bookended with two very different versions of Dixie and works brilliantly. I enjoyed this, and I’ve seen that Woodard has two other autobiographical plays continuing her story, so I’ll hopefully get to those soon too.

71valkyrdeath
Editado: Mar 13, 2019, 9:12pm


32. Artful by Ali Smith
This book is based on a series of four lectures Ali Smith gave at Oxford University. This being Ali Smith, it’s not just four essays but instead they’re mixed also into a fictional tale, meaning this is somehow both a fiction and non-fiction book at the same time. The narrator is grieving over their partner, and reads her lecture notes within the story, which is where the essays come in, apparently written almost exactly as delivered. The thoughts about the themes on art and literature drift into the fictional parts too, and as ever with Smith it covers a wide array of topics, and themes from Oliver Twist appear throughout the book too. As ever with her works, there are brilliant moments of writing, but this one didn’t quite hang together for me. I didn’t quite get the overall points of the four essays, and the fiction section had its moments but just wasn’t enough when shared with the essays. I’m still perfectly happy to have read it, and it’s put a bunch of new books onto my list to be looked into, along with one Greek actress to watch clips of, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as her regular fiction works that I’ve read.

72valkyrdeath
Mar 19, 2019, 9:08pm


33. A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
I finally got around to reading this play which I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. It was an easier and more fun read than I was expecting in general, but I had problems with how suddenly the ending came. The content of the ending is good of course, but it was a sudden complete reversal of the main character’s personality when it would have made much more sense if it was a gradually dawning realisation over the course of the play. It felt like there was something missing in between. Still a good play and I’ll likely be trying some more Ibsen at some point.

73valkyrdeath
Mar 19, 2019, 9:23pm


34. Becoming Unbecoming by Una
This graphic novel discusses the story of the Yorkshire Ripper killings alongside the sexual abuse the author experienced herself during childhood, and explores the media coverage of the case and the culture of victim blaming in general. It’s very well done with an interesting art style and well worth reading.

74Jim53
Mar 20, 2019, 5:32pm

>62 valkyrdeath: I took a bullet on this one.

75valkyrdeath
Mar 20, 2019, 9:57pm


35. Accidental Death of an Anarchist by Dario Fo translated by Simon Nye
This was a very funny play where a con man in various guises talks rings around the police, uncovering the absurdities in their account of how a man who later turned out to be innocent “accidentally” fell from a window in their police station after being questioned. It’s satirical comedy from tragedy since the actual incident itself is apparently based on a true story, but it doesn’t prevent this from being hilarious. One of the funniest plays I’ve read and I’d really love to see it performed.

76valkyrdeath
Mar 20, 2019, 10:05pm

>74 Jim53: I definitely found it a really fun read, though not the typical Westlake.

77valkyrdeath
Mar 24, 2019, 8:08pm


36. Cracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa
A novel told from a child’s perspective at the time of the partition of India. It’s one of those books that I found to be ok but not much else. It was fine, perfectly readable, but I just couldn’t connect with it. It all felt very flat and uninvolving and I didn’t feel like I could care about the characters (who are mostly not even given names), so although there are some terrible events happening they felt strangely distant.

78valkyrdeath
Mar 27, 2019, 8:24pm


37. Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
This book is actually a prequel to Every Heart a Doorway which I read earlier this month. It’s got quite a different feel to it, and moves away from Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children and instead tells the story of Jack and Jill and how they ended up there. It starts from their parents having children for all the worst reasons and trying to bring them up forced into the image of what they think girls should be like and following them through their time in the gothic horror themed fantasy world of the Moors. This time it didn’t have the worry of setting up a concept and then trying to rush through an entire plot in a few pages. What it lacks in the high-concept setting of the original it makes up for in a more consistent tone and better pacing that felt much more suitable for the novella length than the original. I enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to the next book in the hopes those things can be brought forward into the original boarding school setting.

79valkyrdeath
Abr 6, 2019, 7:18pm


38. Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord
This was a really enjoyable read based around Senegalese folklore. I liked the characters and the mythological framework of it. It was well written and I really enjoyed it.

80valkyrdeath
Abr 6, 2019, 7:22pm


39. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Carey Elwes
Carey Elwes’s account of his time making The Princess Bride makes for a lovely read with lots of humour. I was quite late coming to the film but I still loved it and reading this has made me want to watch it again. Everyone who worked on the film seems to have enjoyed their time on it and to be proud of the film. Sometimes that sort of thing comes across as false but it felt genuine here. As well as Elwes’s own tale there are also brief segments from the other actors and crew scattered throughout the book. The audiobook version is especially good since these are nearly all read by the people themselves.

81NanaCC
Abr 7, 2019, 7:36am

>80 valkyrdeath: I enjoyed this one, as well. I could hear the actors’ voices in my head as I read. I watch the movie every once in a while, when I want that happy feeling.

82dchaikin
Abr 8, 2019, 12:57pm

>80 valkyrdeath: loved this, and now I can’t help looking for his limp whenever a watch the movie.

>81 NanaCC: Great reason to watch it

83valkyrdeath
Abr 8, 2019, 6:43pm

>81 NanaCC: It's definitely a good film for those occasions!

>82 dchaikin: I think I'll be looking out for that next time I watch it too.

84valkyrdeath
Abr 8, 2019, 7:02pm


40. The Teacher of Cheops by Albert Salvado
I came across this book a while ago and was intrigued by the fact that at the time it was apparently the only book by an Andorran author to be translated into English, and since it was historical fiction set in Ancient Egypt, I decided to give it a go. Sadly, it didn’t really work out. I’ve no idea whether it’s the original or the translation that’s the problem, but the writing just isn’t very good. The plot improves a bit later on but it’s never all that amazing and the writing doesn’t really improve with it. It’s also got regular sex scenes that serve no purpose to the story. We never get to really know the main character’s wife as a person, there’s no depth to her character and we’re simply told that he met her and fell in love with her and wanted to marry her in a paragraph, but we get several pointless pages of their first night of clumsily written sex afterwards. Sadly it’s not a book I can really recommend. I’ve discovered it’s also no longer the only book from Andorra in translation now, though the only other books I can find are other ones by the same author.

85valkyrdeath
Editado: Abr 9, 2019, 3:58pm


41. Six Degrees of Seperation by John Guare
A play apparently based on a true story, Six Degrees of Separation features a rich couple who get tricked by a conman claiming to be Sidney Poitier's son, and then follows the consequences of this and a subsequent con. I didn't really see much point to it generally and just found it fairly bland mostly.

86valkyrdeath
Editado: Abr 10, 2019, 9:16pm


42. Circe by Madeline Miller
Another great mythology retelling from the author of Song of Achilles. It's set over a huge span of time and is told from the perspective of Circe, which means we get to see Odysseus from a different perspective than normal, though there's much more to the story than just that part. I think I enjoyed it just as much as her previous book.

87valkyrdeath
Abr 16, 2019, 3:32pm


43. Mala by Melinda Lopez
Another one-person play about caring for an elderly parent at the end of their life. Not the easiest listening though it's done very well and with a relatively light touch. It was a good one for listening to on audio.

88valkyrdeath
Abr 20, 2019, 6:57pm


44. The Canon: The Beautiful Basics of Science by Natalie Angier
Angier visited a lot of scientists in various different fields and questioned them about what the main points they thought the public should know about their respective sciences. She then set about writing this book, discussing the problems with how science is taught and explaining the various concepts that were brought up by the scientists. Each chapter covers a different branch of science and she covers the basics in a very clear and understandable way, with plenty of humour in her writing too. I knew most of what was here already but it was a really enjoyable refresher anyway.

89avidmom
Abr 20, 2019, 7:34pm

Just catching up here. Accidental Death of an Anarchist sounds funny and one day I'll also read Crime and Punishment ... one day. We have the Elwes' book in common. I think I'm due for a re-watch of The Princess Bride soon.

90valkyrdeath
Abr 22, 2019, 9:18pm

>89 avidmom: Any time is a good one to re-watch The Princess Bride I feel!

91valkyrdeath
Abr 22, 2019, 9:18pm


45. The Man Who Would Be Kling by Adam Roberts
This novella takes the structure of Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King, combines it in with the themes of the Strugatskys’ Roadside Picnic and mixes in some Star Trek fandom culture to create a rather odd story. An anomalous zone has appeared in Afghanistan where both electronic devices and people behave erratically and people who enter don’t come out alive. Two Star Trek fans believe that whatever has caused the zone was affecting people because they were human, and therefore by getting themselves surgically altered to appear like aliens from their favourite show they can enter safely. It was entertainingly written and a fun read, though it does feel like the author came up with a pun title and then tried to create a story around it. The only trouble I had with it was that I didn’t quite know what was going on by the end of the story. The final lines of the story has the narrator saying that he now knows what the zone is, and that I as the reader did too. But unfortunately, the narrator was wrong, I hadn’t a clue what the zone was. If the story was supposed to have made it obvious by that point then it didn’t quite manage it for me, so it meant it ended up slightly disappointing.

92bragan
Abr 24, 2019, 1:41pm

>91 valkyrdeath: OK, I don't know how I feel about anything else you said in that review, but I do know the first sentence of it immediately propelled this onto my wishlist. :)

93valkyrdeath
Editado: Abr 25, 2019, 6:57pm

>92 bragan: It's certainly an intriguing premise, and was enough to draw me to the book!

94valkyrdeath
Abr 29, 2019, 8:25pm


46. Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth by Lisa Napoli
I didn’t really get on with this book. It sounds like it’s going to feature a lot about Bhutan, but it doesn’t really. The author goes to Bhutan to help out at a radio station that’s been set up there, but she never really seems to leave the vicinity of the station and where she’s staying. She has an attitude that feels really patronising towards the people of Bhutan where she talks about them as if they were children, and when one of the people she met there visits her in America she repeatedly talks about feeling like a mother to her. She also lectures the Bhutanese who expressed a desire to live in America about how hard her life is in the US because she’s left with so little money after paying for landline phones and mobile phones and broadband internet, which I’m sure sounds like such a terrible life for people who have barely any money to start with and have to go out into the streets to fetch water because they don’t have a tap in their house. That was incredibly irritating. She also couldn’t have been that short on money since she manages to find the funds to fly back out there on several occasions. The horrendous ethnic cleansing that occurred in Bhutan in the 90s is relegated to an Afterword of a few pages, and even then she insists on pointing out that the people she’d met there had nothing to do with that personally, even as she then goes on to say how she spoke to one of her Bhutanese friends about it who dismissed the enforced removal of anyone of Nepali ethnicity as being just something that had to be done. It just all felt very self-centred and just rubbed me the wrong way. I’m sure there must be a much better book about Bhutan out there that would be a more interesting read.

95valkyrdeath
Maio 12, 2019, 7:15pm


47. Alphabetical by Michael Rosen
Twenty-six chapters covering each of the letters of the alphabet in a different way. Each chapter starts with a page or two about the origin of the letter, and then launches into a topic related to the alphabet in some way beginning with that letter, such as C is for Ciphers, G is for Greek or Q is for QWERTY. It’s a bit of a mishmash of different topics but it’s mostly an interesting read, and I liked Rosen’s attitude towards language as an evolving thing rather than to be held back by supposed rules. He could at times go off on personal tangents, such as the chapter on Fonts spending more time talking about Letraset than on fonts themselves, but it was generally fun, and I enjoyed the book.

96dukedom_enough
Maio 12, 2019, 7:21pm

>91 valkyrdeath: Adam Roberts aims to write at least one story in every subgenre of SFF, or at least he did a decade or so ago. I wonder which one he thought this one is?

97Dilara86
Maio 13, 2019, 8:55am

>94 valkyrdeath: This book does not sound great. I feel annoyed just from reading your review! I supposed you've heard of The Circle of Karma by Bhutanese author Kunzang Choden? It takes place in the sixties and therefore will not give a sense of today's Bhutan, but at least, it's not condescending towards the local population.

98valkyrdeath
Maio 13, 2019, 7:06pm

>96 dukedom_enough: I'm not sure, it feels more like a smashing together of a few random concepts. Maybe it's a reverse Feghoot with the pun in the title instead of at the end.

>97 Dilara86: I haven't, but Lisa Napoli did talk about meeting Kunzang Choden in Radio Shangri-La and I'd meant to look them up and then forgot, so thanks for mentioning it! I'll add that one to my list.

99valkyrdeath
Maio 19, 2019, 6:40pm


48. Tentacle by Rita Indiana
This is an interesting science fiction novel by an author from the Dominican Republic that manages to cram a lot into its short length without feeling rushed. On the other hand, it is very complex, taking place over three different time periods and sets of characters, with links between them that aren’t immediately apparent. It’s quite intricate and takes some time to get to a place where you understand what’s going on, but it all falls into place by the end, though it’s certainly a book that feels like a reread would be worthwhile. Some bits I liked better than others but I liked it overall, though I’m so far behind on my reviews that I’ve left it a bit too long since reading it to comment too much on the details of the plot now.

100valkyrdeath
Maio 19, 2019, 7:32pm


49. Small Gods by Terry Pratchett
"Brutha!"
Guilt jerked Brutha upright like a hooked fish. He turned around, and sagged with relief. It wasn't Vorbis, it was only God.


This was the very first Discworld book I ever read, and it was a great starting point. These books that don’t star any of the usual recurring characters tend to get neglected, which is a real shame. Small Gods is an extremely funny satire on organised religion that stands up amongst Pratchett’s very best work. It follows Brutha, a novice in the Omnian Church who happens to meed the great god Om, who is currently trapped in the body of a tortoise. It turns out gods need believers to survive, and the Church has replaced actual belief with fear of Exquisitor Vorbis and his torturers, so now Om is losing his powers. It’s full of references to religious history and philosophy, so as with all the Discworld books I tend to spot something new every time I read. A wonderful book.

101dchaikin
Maio 20, 2019, 1:02pm

>100 valkyrdeath: this was my first discworld too! And still my favorite. My wife gave it to me. I still think about Brutha in the boat after leaving the library, quoting things he’s memorized, even though he doesn’t even know what some of the words mean. Every time I’ve read Pratchett since then, I look for references to Brutha and Om, but their isn’t much...

Bhutan - that book sounds awful, but I learned a few things from your review.

Good luck catching up on your reviews.

102valkyrdeath
Maio 20, 2019, 6:54pm

>101 dchaikin: I think it's a great place to start with Discworld. It was a fairly isolated book and didn't get referenced so much again, but I didn't mind that.

Thanks, I don't have too many reviews to catch up on since my reading slowed down a bit recently, but it's still going back a bit in time. I think I'm even further behind on catching up on a lot of other people's threads though!

103valkyrdeath
Maio 20, 2019, 7:15pm


50. Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold
Another in the Vorkosigan series, and this one gives Miles a chance to play detective again. It’s set in Cetaganda which has been mentioned before but now their society is portrayed in great depth. It’s all well thought out, and it’s a mystery, and it’s humorous. But somehow it just didn’t quite hit the mark for me in a way I can’t quite define. However well it was done, I just didn’t find it quite as interesting as some of the other books in the series I’ve read. Still an entertaining enough read, but not one of my favourites.

104valkyrdeath
Maio 21, 2019, 7:41pm


51. A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
This book, the first in a trilogy, alternates between chapters following Madeleine, a teenage girl living in Cambridge, and Elliott, a boy living in the Kingdom of Cello. Madeleine finds a note sticking out of a parking meter, the “corner of white” of the title, which turns out to be a crack between our world and Elliott’s world, a strange place plagued by attacks by living colours. They start corresponding, though Madeleine doesn’t actually believe she’s really communicating with another world. The book is very entertaining, with great dialogue as usual for Moriarty, and the letters are often amusing, especially when Madeleine starts criticising the clichés of the fantasy world. A good read and I’m looking forward to continuing on with the rest of the trilogy.

105AnnieMod
Maio 21, 2019, 8:16pm

>104 valkyrdeath: This sounds interesting... :)

>103 valkyrdeath: That's interesting. Cetaganda was one of the first Vorkosigan books that I read and it made me look for more of the books. I wonder if my memories of it are not clouded by that... Maybe time to reread the whole series in order...

106rhian_of_oz
Maio 22, 2019, 10:42am

>103 valkyrdeath: I felt the same about this one, though it's not my least favourite either.

107valkyrdeath
Maio 22, 2019, 7:04pm

>105 AnnieMod: I certainly don't think it was a terrible book, but maybe it's just reading it following some of the other books made it feel a little weaker in comparison. I'm still definitely going onto the next book fairly soon.

>106 rhian_of_oz: I'm sure there'll be both better and worse books coming up in the series then, but I'm looking forward to exploring them all.

108valkyrdeath
Maio 22, 2019, 7:04pm


52. I Have Crossed an Ocean: Selected Poems by Grace Nichols
A poetry collection by the Guyanese author, gathering her own pick of poems from her various previous books. I remembered liking a couple of her poems when I first read them at school, though I’ve only recently been able to discover that she was the poet after trying to track them down for years, so it was nice to read those again. There’s a different feel to the poems from the different volumes, with the first, I is a Long Memories Woman, exploring cultural memories of slavery, while The Fat Black Woman’s Poems seemed to bring in more of the experiences of moving into another society following her move to the UK, and still later sections had a mythological feel. It ends with a selection of her children’s poems. The poems often bring in Caribbean rhythms, and they vary between serious and more light hearted satirical works. I enjoyed quite a few of these.

109valkyrdeath
Maio 22, 2019, 7:22pm


53. Neat by Charlayne Woodard
Another autobiographical one woman play by Woodard. I really enjoyed Pretty Fire a couple of months ago so thought I’d continue on. This one carries on through her childhood with a focus her Aunt, known as Neat, who was brain damaged due to a mix up leading to her being fed camphorated oil as a baby when she was ill and being turned away from a white-only hospital leading to her not getting treatment quickly enough. It’s another collection of moments from her life that mixes darker themes with a good amount of humour and was a great companion piece to her earlier play. She did one more to form an autobiographical trilogy, so I will try and get to that one soon too.

110brodiew2
Maio 22, 2019, 8:25pm

Hello valkyrdeath! It has been a while since I visited your thread. I'm glad I did. You always have a mixed assortment of books, some I'm familiar with and others I never would have heard of had I not come her.

>22 valkyrdeath: Dread Nation sounds fascinating. I'll be looking into that one on your rec.

>23 valkyrdeath: My daughter, 10, loves the idea of this character, but I wasn't sure if it was kid friendly. what do you think.

>39 valkyrdeath: Speaking of liking the idea of the thing more than the thing itself, there is Wodehouse. I have tried more than once, but have never had the patience for it. I really want to like it, but can't get into it. I loved it on tv.

>65 valkyrdeath: I appreciate your review of Every Heart a Doorway. I was about to pick it up, but I think I'll pass.

>80 valkyrdeath: I enjoyed this one on audio quite a bit. Elwes narrated.

>86 valkyrdeath: I've been considering this and I think its time to take the plunge. Thanks for the review.

>88 valkyrdeath: The Canon sounds very interesting. I have enjoyed other books that survey science in layman's terms. On the list.

I hope you have a good one!

111valkyrdeath
Maio 22, 2019, 9:17pm

Hi Brodie, thanks for stopping by! I've only read the first volume so far, but judging by that I think Unbeatable Squirrel Girl would be absolutely perfect for a 10 year old. If she likes the idea of the character I expect she'd love the comic.

I loved Dread Nation, hope you like it if you do read it. Circe was great, have you read Miller's The Song of Achilles? That was also excellent.

The Elwes narration for As You Wish really made the book far more fun than it would have been in print. I liked all the other actors and crew doing their own bits too.

Do you have your own thread at all?

112brodiew2
Maio 23, 2019, 1:40pm

>111 valkyrdeath: I'll take a closer look at Squirel Girl. Thanks for the heads up.

I have not read any of Miller's works to date, but loved mythology and the Odyssey as a young man.

I do not have a thread here. It is over at the 75 book challenge. pretty anemic this year, but I'm plugging along.

I've dropped a star on you and stop in every now and again.

113valkyrdeath
Maio 23, 2019, 7:21pm

>112 brodiew2: I've always been a bit daunted by how busy the 75 books group is, but I've found and starred your thread there.

114valkyrdeath
Maio 23, 2019, 7:21pm


54. Fun by Paolo Bacilieri
Fun is a combination graphic novel and graphic non-fiction book about the history of crosswords. The fictional side is about a Disney comics writer called Zeno Porno, who is apparently a regular start of Bacilieri’s books, and his meeting with author Pippo Quester, who is writing a history of crossword puzzles. Regularly it will switch to a few pages about some event in the history of crosswords representing what Quester is writing at the time. The story itself isn’t bad, though it’s nothing too complex, but I never really felt the fiction and non-fiction parts really gelled well together, and I mostly felt like I’d have preferred a more detailed graphic non-fiction work that didn’t keep getting side-tracked by the story part, or maybe vice versa. Not a bad read, but nothing too special either.

And with that, I'm finally up to date with my reviews for the first time in months!

115bragan
Maio 29, 2019, 3:39pm

>104 valkyrdeath: OK, I think A Corner of White is going on the wishlist...

116valkyrdeath
Maio 29, 2019, 7:24pm

>115 bragan: It was a fun read, if you get to it then I hope you enjoy it!

117valkyrdeath
Editado: Maio 29, 2019, 7:42pm


55. The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman
This is a well plotted play from 1939 about the Hubbard family, a rich family who destroy each other in their pursuit for ever greater wealth. The two brothers use their inherited wealth to cheat and steal their way forward. The central character, Regina, denied inheritance due to being a woman, marries a rich man and manipulates him instead. Things all come to a head over some stolen bonds. It’s easy to see this as an indictment of capitalism, especially given Hellman’s communist leanings. The play contains the line “There are hundreds of Hubbards sitting in rooms like this throughout the country. All their names aren’t Hubbard, but they are all Hubbards and they will own this country some day.” How depressingly accurate that was. I found this to be a very good play.

118valkyrdeath
Editado: Maio 30, 2019, 7:10pm


56. Hinges Book 1: Clockwork City by Meredith McClaren
57. Hinges Book 2: Paper Tigers by Meredith McClaren
58. Hinges Book 3: Mechanical Men by Meredith McClaren
I first read the first two volumes of this collected webcomic a couple of years ago when the final book wasn’t out yet, and was left on a literal cliffhanger, so now that I’ve remembered about it it was nice to go back and read the whole series at once. It’s an interesting story set in a world where the inhabitants are puppets and the animals contain things like paper tigers. The main draw here is the artwork though, which tells most of the story with little text. Meredith McClaren’s art style is absolutely beautiful and it was always a pleasure to see what was on the next page, especially by the last book where she’s bringing in colours in some sections. A really nice quick read.

119valkyrdeath
Jun 2, 2019, 7:15pm


59. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
This was quite a fun short read. The book starts with Korede going to help clean up for her sister who has just murdered her boyfriend. Supposedly in self-defence, but she’s done it twice before and he was stabbed in the back. Korede wrestles between loyalty for her sister and trying to protect people from her, especially when the doctor she works with who she’s secretly in love with falls for her sister. I enjoyed the book throughout, though found the ending a little disappointing.

120valkyrdeath
Jun 3, 2019, 7:13pm


60. Embassytown by China Mieville
This is my first time reading a book by China Mieville, and I’ve been wanting to get to his work for some time so was quite excited for this to come up for a book club. Sadly, it was a great disappointment. There were plenty of ideas thrown in here, but it felt like he was just throwing in every idea that came into his head as he thought of it without regards to the actual story he’s telling, and then didn’t bother to edit it. The actual plot is slight and doesn’t start at all until about a third of the way into the book. A large chunk of the first part of the book is taken up talking about something called the immer which the main character (who has pretty much no personality) states can’t really be explained, but talks about at length, but which then turns out to have no relevance to the plot whatsoever. The narrator’s best friend is an automa, some sort of robot, a concept which is briefly introduced and then discarded as her friend stops talking to her and vanishes almost entirely from the book. Her husband is a seemingly intelligent linguist who rapidly changes into a raving pseudo-religious fanatic about preserving the language on the planet with no real explanation as to why he would suddenly change like that. The central concept about the alien language and how it works was all quite interesting and I enjoyed reading about it, but then the plot went off on a weird addiction storyline which I found a rather dull way of using the concept. The book was readable and I did finish it, but it was a bit of a slog at times and felt like an author with plenty of ideas but not able to pull them into a coherent novel. But then, loads of people love this book, so maybe I’m missing something, but either way, I think maybe Mieville isn’t for me.

121valkyrdeath
Jun 3, 2019, 7:50pm


61. The Early Years: The Lyrics of Tom Waits by Tom Waits
Well, the source material here is extremely good. This book collects the lyrics from his first seven albums, the two volumes of The Early Years and the soundtrack to One From the Heart. It’s basically everything from the first phase of his career, before he met his wife who encouraged him to become more experimental. The later work is my favourite, but almost all the lyrics that came after the debut album are excellent. The trouble is, this book is one of the most shoddily edited I’ve read. It’s full of just about every mistake possible. It’s got inaccurate lyrics, and in fact there’s a completely wrong word on the third line of the first song (the word “pulled” replaced with “drove”). The entire second half of the song “On a Foggy Night” is missing completely. There’s random lines missing from the middle of other songs. Romeo is Bleeding has a ridiculous number of typos, virtually every other line. And most inexcusably of all, there’s the song $29.00. One of the original lines from that is “And the streets are dead, they creep up and take whatever’s left on the bone” but the book has rendered it as “well the streets are dead, they creep up and ??? but it was left on the pole”. I don’t think anyone even tried to proofread this book before it was published. I could go to any of a number of fan sites and get a completely accurate set of lyrics, so the mistakes here make this book basically worthless. Waits deserves so much better than this.

122dukedom_enough
Jun 4, 2019, 10:41am

>120 valkyrdeath: Sorry you didn't like Mieville. The overstuffed quality is pretty much part of his esthetic. If you don't mind something basically on the edge between middle-grade and YA, Un Lun Dun is fun - although also full of lots of material that could have been cut.

Also, too bad about the Waits. I have some of the early albums, but tend to think of Waits in terms of Frank's Wild Years plus a few other late stories, and can leave alone the early work.

123valkyrdeath
Jun 5, 2019, 6:26pm

>120 valkyrdeath: I'll keep that one in mind if I decide to give Mieville another go at some point. I also mainly like Waits for his later work but I don't mind some of the early stuff occasionally.

124valkyrdeath
Jun 22, 2019, 6:45pm


62. Jimmy the Kid by Donald E. Westlake
A reread of the third Dortmunder novel, and as always with these books, it’s extremely funny. It goes a bit meta in this one, against Dortmunder’s better judgement, they end up getting involved in a kidnapping plot based off a fictional Parker novel by Richard Stark (Westlake’s pseudonymous series of more serious crime novels). And of course, it doesn’t quite go to plan. Always love reading these books.

125valkyrdeath
Jun 22, 2019, 6:50pm


63. A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters
The first book in the series of historical mysteries about the Welsh Benedictine monk Brother Cadfael. I’m very glad to have finally got to this series as I really enjoyed it. The mystery was fun, and while the book took a while to actually get to that part, the historical setting is really well realised and was entertaining even before the mystery emerged. I’m really looking forward to proceeding with the rest of the series.

126NanaCC
Jun 23, 2019, 6:24am

>125 valkyrdeath: I should really read the next book in this series. I really enjoyed A Morbid Taste For Bones. I just checked, and the library has it on kindle. I think I’ll get to that one next. :-)

127valkyrdeath
Jun 23, 2019, 6:14pm

>126 NanaCC: It was really good. I'll be interested to see how you find the second one. Hopefully I'll be reading it soon too.

128valkyrdeath
Jun 30, 2019, 7:11pm


64. The Art of Point-And-Click Adventure Games
This book covers the history of the graphic adventure game, from its roots in King’s Quest through all the classics of the 80s and 90s and ending in a selection of more recent games from the genre’s revival. It’s a beautiful large hardback book full of full page artwork from each of the games it covers. It isn’t just an art book though, it’s also crammed full of interviews with the creators of those games. It’s fascinating for anyone like me with a love of the genre and a really nice book to own.

129valkyrdeath
Jun 30, 2019, 7:37pm


65. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 2: Squirrel You Know It’s True by Ryan North, art by Erica Henderson
66. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 3: Squirrel, You Really Got Me Now by Ryan North, art by Erica Henderson
Another two volumes of this comic and they’re just as fun as the first book was. Once again they’re crammed with humour, North continues with his entertaining footnotes on most of the pages, and other Marvel heroes pop in and out to be sent up, thankfully in ways where I could still enjoy without having prior knowledge of some of them. Henderson’s artwork is also wonderful and full of extra fun details. The main story in Volume 2 has her facing Ratatoskr from Norse mythology while Volume 3 sees her sent back to the 1960s. These are just really fun to read and I’ll definitely be reading more.

130bragan
Jul 4, 2019, 10:21am

>129 valkyrdeath: You remind me that I really need to continue with this sometime. I've only read the first two volumes so far.

131valkyrdeath
Jul 5, 2019, 7:05pm

>130 bragan: I find it a really fun series. I'm trying not to rush through them too quickly, especially knowing it's ending this year.

132valkyrdeath
Jul 5, 2019, 7:23pm


67. 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 by Nick Montfort, Patsy Baudoin, John Bell, Ian Bogost, Jeremy Douglass, Mark C. Marino, Michael Mateas, Casey Reas, Mark Sample, and Noah Vawter
Such a memorable, catchy title that just sticks in the brain. The title is actually a one line program that generates a scrolling screen full of random diagonal lines that forms a maze like pattern across the screen of a Commodore 64. The concept of this book is to present an example of their idea of a way to analyse a computer program as a text. It has various chapters on topics that relate to the program, such as mazes, randomness, the BASIC programming language or the Commodore 64 machine itself. Between the chapters it also looks at various modifications to the program. I actually like the concept of unpacking all the many topics that stem out of such a simple one line piece of code, but unfortunately the execution of it didn’t really work for me. The first half of the book that looks at the more general concepts was a bit too philosophical and academic for my liking. The second half that looked at the more technical side I enjoyed quite a bit more, but there’s plenty of other works that cover those topics in depth in more entertaining ways. I think it gets a bit bogged down in its attempt to present a new way of studying programs, but I’m not sure it’s a great idea in general. It probably wasn’t helped by the strange way of writing it, which was apparently using wiki software for the ten different authors to be able to collaborate. Rather than writing their own specialist area each, it’s just all the authors working on everything. Interesting experiment, but a bit of a chore to read mostly.

133valkyrdeath
Jul 7, 2019, 7:13pm


68. The Door by Magda Szabo
The Door is a Hungarian novel told in the first person about the relationship between two women, one a writer and the other a rather difficult and formidable housekeeper called Emerence. The characters were really interesting and the book is extremely well written. I enjoyed it throughout, though I don’t think the book really made it very clear just why the author was putting up with Emerence’s at times truly horrendous behaviour and why she cared so much what she thought of her. It was still good though, despite that gap, and I might look into what else Szabo has written.

134valkyrdeath
Jul 8, 2019, 7:13pm


69. Station by Johanna Stokes
I was drawn to this graphic novel by its premise. Station is a murder mystery set on the International Space Station. The marketing for this was a bit misleading though, since it advertised it as a locked room mystery, and it really isn’t at all in the sense that term is generally used. This is more along the lines of “And Then There Were None”, as the astronauts start to meet with suspicious accidents one by one. It’s still a good concept though, keeping the characters within a confined claustrophobic space together. The writing doesn’t quite live up to the potential sadly. Despite the science fiction trappings, it’s all a bit clichéd and the dialogue isn’t great. It was also only published as four issues, so doesn’t really have space to develop much and just rushes through the plot. It was readable but nothing special.

135valkyrdeath
Jul 10, 2019, 7:07pm


70. The Actual One: How I Tried, and Failed, to Remain Twenty-Something for Ever by Isy Suttie
A fun memoir from Isy Suttie about trying to cling to youth and feeling left behind as all her friends start settling down and starting families. I can certainly understand those feelings, though my youth was very different to hers. It was really fun to listen to on audio, read by Suttie herself, especially since it means you get to added bonus of being able to hear some of her songs.

136Petroglyph
Jul 11, 2019, 8:40am

>133 valkyrdeath:
I'll be reading The door later this year, so I'll hold off reading this review until I've done so.

137valkyrdeath
Jul 14, 2019, 6:48pm

>136 Petroglyph: I'd be interested to hear what you think of it!

138valkyrdeath
Jul 14, 2019, 7:09pm


71. Sabrina by Nick Drnaso
This graphic novel centres on the murder of the titular character, but we don’t see the act itself or ever meet her. Instead, this focuses on the effects the crime has on her family and other people. The media hounds her relatives and her partner and the conspiracy theorists start harassing them all and claim the whole thing is a government plot and the people involved simply actors. It’s all very well written, and depressingly convincing, with the comments, broadcasts and internet posts portrayed are exactly like the real ones I’ve encountered after tragedies.

Much as I liked it, I didn’t love the art work. It has a very simple style, which I don’t mind, but all the characters were drawn the same way and it was often hard to tell them apart. It was also hard to read any expressions on them, though I think that might have been a conscious choice, though I’m not sure. It didn’t ruin the book, which I still really liked, but it’s a shame the art let it down a bit.

139lisapeet
Jul 14, 2019, 8:20pm

>133 valkyrdeath: I liked The Door a lot—it dealt with complex concepts like pride, friendship, and class in an interesting, not-quite-allegorical but not-quite-social-realist way. I think I'd have gotten more out of it if I knew more about the politics of post WWII Hungary, but you can't have everything. And I always love a book with a great, fully realized dog character. Mine was a library book but I spoke highly enough of it that a friend sent me a copy of my own, which I think will be nice to reread at some point.

I also picked up Iza's Ballad and Katalin Street—I'm interested to see what her other work is like.

140mabith
Jul 15, 2019, 10:45am

>139 lisapeet: I read it recently too and the dog bits were some of my favorites. Both in how the dog was written and just that comparison between how a dog acts with one person vs another.

141valkyrdeath
Jul 20, 2019, 11:49am

>139 lisapeet: I know I've seen a positive review of Karalin Street on here before, I'll watch for your reviews of those. I'd be interested in trying some of her other works myself at some point.

142valkyrdeath
Editado: Jul 22, 2019, 6:40pm


72. A Case of Conscience by James Blish
This book was the winner of the Hugo Award for best novel in 1959. It’s an interesting book amongst others of the time, as a science fiction work that also deals with religious themes. It’s very much a book of two distinct halves. The first half was originally written as a novella and features a team of scientists, one of whom, the lead character, is also a Jesuit, investigating an alien world to determine what sort of contact Earth should have with the people living there. The Jesuit wrestles with his beliefs and the aliens on the world who seem to have a strong sense of morality but no religion. It’s very well written and interesting, all until the ending where it goes a bit off the rails as he decides that the alien world was a trap set by the devil, because the society is too perfect, and we can’t have morality without religion, or since they’re all good it means they don’t have free will so can’t be created by God, or some weird theological nonsense that didn’t quite make sense. The second half of the book, which was added a few years later to make it into a novel, feels like a completely separate thing. It follows one of the aliens growing up on Earth and then getting his own TV chat show and using it to try to create chaos in society. It’s set in a future where the population has been driven to live underground due to the thread of nuclear war, but it’s all very odd. One chapter is set at a party, except there’s a weird psychedelic fairground ride that blasts the riders with hallucinogenic perfumes in a very lengthy scene that’s nothing to do with anything. Some parts of the section feel almost like satire with the TV show being used to influence the population, but I really didn’t care for the second half of the book at all. About a quarter of the way into the book I thought I was going to really enjoy it, but the first part was spoiled for me a bit by the ending and I think I’d rather just have it as a novella without all the second half nonsense, so the book didn’t work for me in the end.

143valkyrdeath
Jul 25, 2019, 9:32pm


73. Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire
The third book in the Wayward Children series, this moves the story back to Eleanor’s Home for Wayward Children after the prequel of the second book. In this one, a girl suddenly falls from nowhere into the pond and asks to speak to her mother. The problem is, her mother recently died while still a child, which makes it vitally important that they find a way to bring her back before the daughter ceases to exist due to never having been born. Just your average straight forward tale. This book felt much more like a coherent story than the first one did, without having to spend half the novella setting up the background and then rushing through the plot. The characters get to journey through various worlds without the need for doors thanks to their visitor, and it’s an entertaining and diverse group with plenty fun dialogue. It’s nothing deep or complex, but I found it to be a really enjoyable quick read.

144baswood
Jul 26, 2019, 7:11pm

>142 valkyrdeath: I see its in the S F masterworks series and so I will get to it soon. Interesting review.

145valkyrdeath
Jul 27, 2019, 10:43pm

>144 baswood: It'll be good to see your opinions on that one. It's certainly an interesting book.

146valkyrdeath
Jul 27, 2019, 10:44pm


74. The Late Child and Other Animals by Marguerite Van Cook art by James Romberger
A graphic memoir made of a series of vignettes, the first two about the author’s mother and the rest about her childhood. I quite liked it at first but then I got put off the book by one section. She describes an incident when she was a child where a man tried to kidnap and rape her but she managed to escape. The problem is that in describing the events leading up to this she keeps switching between her own perspective and that of the man. We learn all sorts of details about him and his thought processes, that he didn’t like the company of people who talked about football, that he’d repeatedly hang around outside watching the girls leaving their ballet class planning what he was going to do, that one day he’d intended to carry out the plan but then was forced to do an errand for his mother and so had to postpone it again. It has lines from his perspective such as "Sacrifices must be made in service of his task and he stopped eating at all some days. It made him a little light-headed but he quite liked the sensation." This would all be fine if there was some explanation as to how she knows all this. Unfortunately, she instead states that the man who approached her and told her to go with him was a complete stranger, and after she runs away she tells her mother again, and then never hears anything about it again, doesn’t find out who the man was or if he was ever caught. So that means all the stuff from his perspective was just made up, and if that was made up, I’ve no way of knowing how much of the rest of the book I can trust. The book itself wasn’t terrible to read, but I’d lost faith in it as a memoir.

147valkyrdeath
Jul 28, 2019, 7:34pm


75. Spilt Milk by Chico Buarque
An old dying man tells his story from his hospital bed to his daughter or the nurses or whoever is around to listen. This was a rather unusual novel by the Brazilian author and musician. The narrator is thoroughly unpleasant with obnoxious attitudes about many things, and he jumps around the events in his life in between comments addressed to the staff. But he also muddles things up, mixed events, or repeats stories he’s already told but with the details changed. I found it had a rather unique feel to it and it was extremely well done.

148baswood
Jul 28, 2019, 7:53pm

>147 valkyrdeath: interesting to find a musician whom I like is also an author

149valkyrdeath
Jul 29, 2019, 6:00pm

>148 baswood: I've never heard his music. Since reading the book I've been considering whether I should check it out.

150valkyrdeath
Jul 30, 2019, 6:56pm


76. Maggie the Mechanic by Jaime Hernandez
This is the first in this particular series of collected editions of Love and Rockets comics, compiling the early Locas stories, mostly focusing around Maggie. There are some science fiction elements here with her mechanic job and the odd random dinosaur at one point, but mostly they’re about the characters, and I understand those elements are left behind more later in the series. It took me a few stories to get into them properly but I really loved the book by the end and am looking forward to continuing with the rest of the Locas stories and seeing what the other Love and Rockets stories are like.

151valkyrdeath
Ago 2, 2019, 7:26pm


77. Paradox Girl Volume 1 by Cayti Bourquin art by Yishan Li
Paradox Girl is a superhero whose power is time travel. Because of this, there are usually various different versions of her hanging around at any time. More often than not, the book shows her using her powers for random minor tasks rather than crime fighting, such as repeatedly going back to buy a brand of waffles that she loves that were discontinued. It’s a comedic book, and I really liked the first issue, where there are various versions of her hanging out in her house and we follow her in a looping story as she becomes each of them. The rest of the book was quite fun, though never quite matched up to that opening. An enjoyable enough quick read.

152valkyrdeath
Ago 3, 2019, 6:18pm


78. Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
This was a quite good but rather depressing look at people living in slums in Dubai, doing things like collecting rubbish from the streets to sell for recycling to attempt to make enough money to live. The book revolves around an event of a woman immolating herself as an act of revenge against her neighbours, the events leading up to it and the subsequent trials. Considering it’s a journalistic work of non-fiction, it strangely reads like a novel, which would have bothered me if I hadn’t taken advice to read the afterword first, where she explains the background to the writing of the book and where all the information has come from.

153dukedom_enough
Ago 4, 2019, 6:48pm

>142 valkyrdeath: Wow, I read that in the 1960s/1970s and don't remember any of the second part, apparently. Have always wondered whether the theology in the first part is the real thing.

154valkyrdeath
Ago 6, 2019, 6:25pm

>153 dukedom_enough: I feel the second half probably just isn't as memorable. I can remember the bizarre hallucinatory ride in the middle of a party but the rest of it is already quite vague in my mind. The first half I still remember quite clearly though. I read an article somewhere suggesting the theology didn't really hold up, but then with the number of different interpretations you get in religion, I'd think it's hard to say it couldn't be someone's version.

155valkyrdeath
Ago 20, 2019, 7:46pm


79. The Flintstones Vol. 1 by Mark Russell, art by Steve Pugh
80. The Flintstones Vol. 2 by Mark Russell, art by Steve Pugh
An interesting satirical interpretation of the Flintstones. Where the original Flintstones transplanted a 50s sitcom version of American life into the stone age, these two volumes transplant the modern day over to the same setting and characters. With the world as it is, this means it covers surprisingly depressing territory at times, but it’s mostly funny. Fun bits include groups of anti-marriage protesters shouting things like “go back to the sex cave like nature intended” (“I think it's an immoral threat to our way of life.” “Really? Why do you say that?” “Because it wasn't around when I was a kid.”) There’s also a lesson in a brand new subject for the school children: “When you trick somebody into participating in a small-time fraud, it's called a 'scam.' But when the scam is so big that people have no choice but to participate, it's called 'economics.” There were also some surprisingly touching scenes involving the classic Flintstones animal appliances. It’s not going to appeal to everyone, but I found these to be a fun modern twist on the old show.

156valkyrdeath
Ago 20, 2019, 8:08pm

And the thread continues over here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/310363
Este tópico foi continuado por Valkyrdeath's 2019 Reading Record Part 2.