Valkyrdeath's 2020 Reading Record

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Valkyrdeath's 2020 Reading Record

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 30, 2020, 6:54pm

Here we go again, somehow with my seventh year. Looking back at how I started my 2019 thread, I see I talked about the last few months of the previous year having been bad ones causing me to fall behind. Well, the last few months of 2019 were even worse and I could pretty much copy and paste the same stuff over again. Hopefully this year will better, but I try not to hold out too much hope. I’ll be trying to get a nice eclectic mix of books again this year. I managed to read more than I expected last year so hopefully I’ll keep that up. As always, I hope I can fit in more non-fiction too.

Currently reading:
Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier

Books read:
1. In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
2. In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire
3. Shanghai Dream by Philippe Thirault, art by Jorge Miguel
4. The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick by Mallory O'Meara
5. Magic is Dead: My Journey into the World's Most Secretive Society of Magicians by Ian Frisch
6. The Dream Merchant by Nathan Edmondson
7. The Dust That Falls from Dreams by Louis De Bernieres

8. Ice Cream Man Volume 2 by W. Maxwell Prince
9. Dreams Before the Start of Time by Anne Charnock
10. Ice Cream Man Volume 3 by W. Maxwell Prince
11. There There by Tommy Orange
12. Ice Cream Man Volume 4 by W. Maxwell Prince
13. Nobody's Perfect by Donald E. Westlake
14. Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire

15. Dream Houses by Genevieve Valentine
16. Girl on Film by Cecil Castellucci
17. Good Morning Comrades by Ondjaki
18. British Ice by Owen D. Pomery
19. Cunk on Everything by Philomena Cunk

20. Burmese Moons by Sophie Ansel
21. Company by Max Barry
22. Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley
23. The Digital Antiquarian Volume 10: 1988 by Jimmy Maher
24. Labyrinth by Lois McMaster Bujold

25. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
26. Notes on a Case of Melancholia by Nicholas Gurewitch
27. Giant Days Vol. 1 by John Allison
28. See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid
29. The Jupiter Myth by Lindsey Davis

30. The Borders of Infinity by Lois McMaster Bujold
31. The Test by Sylvain Neuvel
32. Giant Days Vol. 2 by John Allison
33. Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin
34. The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry
35. Giant Days Vol. 3 by John Allison
36. Jalaleddin by Raffi

37. Hey! Listen! by Steve McNeill
38. Shady Characters by Keith Houston
39. Giant Days Vol. 4 by John Allison
40. The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard
41. Giant Days Vol. 5 by John Allison
42. Giant Days Vol. 6 by John Allison
43. Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
44. Why Me? by Donald E. Westlake

45. Giant Days Vol. 7 by John Allison
46. Giant Days Vol. 8 by John Allison
47. Giant Days: Extra Credit by John Allison
48. Network Effect by Martha Wells
49. Giant Days: Early Registration by John Allison

50. The Digital Antiquarian Volume 11: 1989 by Jimmy Maher
51. Giant Days Vol. 9 by John Allison
52. Giant Days Vol. 10 by John Allison
53. Giant Days Vol. 11 by John Allison
54. Giant Days Vol. 12 by John Allison
55. The Umbrella Academy Vol. 1: The Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way
56. Giant Days Vol. 13 by John Allison

57. Giant Days Vol. 14 by John Allison
58. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
59. The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
60. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 6 by Ryan North

61. Summer by Ali Smith
62. Brothers in Arms by Lois McMaster Bujold
63. The Unexpected Man by Yasmina Reza
64. Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin R. Kiernan
65. Behind the Sheet by Charly Evon Simpson

66. Life is Strange Volume 1: Dust by Emma Vieceli
67. The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector
68. Life is Strange Volume 2: Waves by Emma Vieceli
69. The Zimmermann Telegram by Barbara W. Tuchman
70. Life is Strange Volume 3: Strings by Emma Vieceli

tammikuu 1, 2020, 6:45pm

Book stats for 2019:
130 books read made up of:
50 novels
36 graphic works
20 non-fiction books
11 short story collections
14 plays / play collections
7 poetry collection

61 books by women, 57 books by men
Books from 28 different countries and by 101 different authors.

tammikuu 1, 2020, 7:12pm

My random list of some of my favourite reads of the last year:

Guapa by Saleem Haddad
The Murderbot novellas by Martha Wells
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Circe by Madeline Miller
The Colours of Madeleine trilogy by Jaclyn Moriarty
A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters
An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine
Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey
Capital by John Lanchester

Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Carey Elwes
The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914 by Richard J. Evans

Graphic works (fiction and non-fiction):
Becoming Unbecoming by Una
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
Sabrina by Nick Drnaso
The Twilight Man: Rod Serling and the Birth of Television by Koren Shadmi
They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
Portugal by Cyril Pedrosa
I Killed Adolf Hitler by Jason

tammikuu 2, 2020, 11:53am

I'm so glad Colours of Madeleine made your favorites list! Obviously glad you liked other things I pushed you to read as well, but that trilogy is just special.

tammikuu 2, 2020, 5:40pm

>4 mabith: It was such a good series! Hopefully I'll get to some of her other books this year.

tammikuu 3, 2020, 3:57pm

Happy new year, valkyrdeath! I hope all is well with you. I look forward to seeing what's on tap for this year. Star dropped.

tammikuu 3, 2020, 4:31pm

Happy reading in 2020. I'm looking forward to following along here. Cheers!

tammikuu 3, 2020, 6:21pm

>6 brodiew2: >7 rocketjk: Thanks, hope you both have a good year! I'm looking forward to checking out your reading this year too.

tammikuu 4, 2020, 10:52am

Wishing you a good year. Just caught up on your 2019 thread, and then here in your favorites I see Tell Me How It Ends... I hunted down your post to reread it. When you originally posted on it, the title and author didn’t really mean anything to me. But I adored Lost Children Archive, and now want to read more by Luiselli.

tammikuu 7, 2020, 6:10pm

>9 dchaikin: I remember you writing about Lost Children Archive and I hadn't picked up on the fact that it was the same author. Tell Me How it Ends was a very brief read but very well done and worth checking out.

tammikuu 7, 2020, 6:55pm

Gary - the two books are related, LCA being a fictional response to her work, and TMHiE being a nonfictional response.

tammikuu 8, 2020, 1:54pm

I'm stopping by to tell you how much I am intrigued by your handle. How did you choose it?--if I may ask. Valkyries are intrinsically interesting, of course. What is the significance of a death associated with them. Or are you referring to the souls they carry?

tammikuu 8, 2020, 5:50pm

>12 sallypursell: The Valkyr part does come from Valkyries and was a group name for internet activities with a friend, though it was mainly just the two of us, mostly for gaming. The Death part is from my original username ever since I first got the internet many years ago, due to the character in Terry Pratchett's Discworld books. I've just stuck with it ever since due to not being any good at coming up with new names, even though I worry it just sounds a bit morbid away from the Discworld connection.

tammikuu 8, 2020, 6:06pm

>13 valkyrdeath: I have always thought that Reaper Man was the best Discworld novel, because of the death character. I don't think it sounds morbid. Valkyries were involved with death by their very functions. What kinds of gaming do you like?

My favorite game of all time was Civilization III, and right now I am MineCrafting. I don't do first-person shooters, not finding them very interesting, but your name sounds perfect for that.

tammikuu 8, 2020, 8:09pm

1. In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Well, this was a great way to start the off the new year. In the Dream House is Machado’s memoir spanning the period when she was in a relationship with an abusive woman. It’s an important but tough subject to write about, full of awful events, but the book is beautifully written in a form that’s not quite like any other memoir I’ve ever read. It’s told in a large number of mostly very short chapters, each with a title in the form of “Dream House as” followed by various genres, tropes and themes, from Picaresque to Romance Novel to Time Travel, each looking at aspects of her story from a different angle. One chapter takes the form of a Choose Your Own Adventure book, giving the illusion of choice but with almost everything ultimately looping back to the start again for the cycle of abuse to repeat. And knowing when less is more, in almost the centre of the book, the chapter Dream House as Epiphany contains just eight words: “Most types of domestic abuse are completely legal”. None of this experimentation takes away from the events she’s narrating but rather emphasises the feelings she’s describing. Upsetting and disturbing as it often is, this is a powerful book with amazing writing, and it’s bumped her story collection up my list to hopefully get to very soon.

tammikuu 8, 2020, 8:14pm

>14 sallypursell: As with my reading, I like some of most forms of games, though I still really love the old point and click adventure and puzzle games, RPGs or anything that focuses on story. I've still yet to play a Civilization game though I keep meaning to. I play the occasional first-person shooter but it's not a main genre for me these days.

tammikuu 9, 2020, 1:05am

I read Her Body and Other Parties last year, and one of the stories was a fictionalized account of her abusive relationship.

tammikuu 9, 2020, 8:54pm

>17 arubabookwoman: That should be interesting to compare when I read it.

tammikuu 9, 2020, 9:58pm

>15 valkyrdeath: Good start. Noting Machado

tammikuu 11, 2020, 5:09pm

2. In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire
By complete coincidence, here’s another book with Dream in the title. This is the fourth book is McGuire’s Wayward Children series, though it’s a standalone story. As with the second book, this is a prequel showing the backstory to one of the characters from the first book. This tells the story of Lundy, a quiet girl who likes to live by rules and has adjusted to a life without any real friends due to her father being the school principle. She finds her doorway to the world of the Goblin Market, a place built on strict rules of fair value. It interestingly focuses on the characters and their relationships and jumps forward through several years, the characters only mentioning in passing questing events that would have been the primary focus of a normal fantasy book, and it works pretty well here. There’s some really good writing here. The second book was my favourite and this has the feel of that book rather than the other two set in the Home for Wayward Children. Remembering the character from the first book gives the approach to the end a sense of sad inevitability, but the book is written as a standalone with no knowledge of the other books required. Another good read, and I see the fifth book just came out the other day, so I’ll be trying to get to that soon.

tammikuu 11, 2020, 6:29pm

>20 valkyrdeath: I've been reading Wayward Children in a leisurely fashion, and there is not a doubt as to its quality. But I don't think many children would respond to a place where one has to stand still for long periods. In fact, that was the weakest thread to me, that it was hard to believe many children would be drawn to the lives depicted here. Still, their disaffection with their current lives was quite believable. I wondered if I was missing something; maybe these activities were standing in for something else, something symbolic, perhaps. Finding symbols is not a big part of my reading. I like to read, not interpret. It is probably a flaw in my reading.

tammikuu 11, 2020, 9:33pm

>21 sallypursell: I'm the same, I don't usually read looking for hidden meanings or symbols. I think in the Wayward Children books it's not supposed to be that many children would be drawn to those lives, just those particular ones all with their own specific preferences, making them disaffected. As a child who never really wanted to go outside and play or do any of the stuff that everyone else around seemed to like and want me to do I can definitely understand the concept of kids wanting to find a world where things are closer to how they like it, even if their particular worlds aren't ones I'd want myself.

tammikuu 12, 2020, 10:33am

>22 valkyrdeath: That certainly makes sense, and I was another of those children, like you, who didn't do or want the typical. Naturally, that meant I was bullied in school, and didn't seem to belong anywhere.

tammikuu 14, 2020, 5:47pm

>23 sallypursell: Bullying sadly seems to be almost always the result of those circumstances.

tammikuu 14, 2020, 5:48pm

3. Shanghai Dream by Philippe Thirault, art by Jorge Miguel
After the coincidence of having Dream in the titles of my first two reads this year I thought it would be fun to look through my ever increasing to-read list and pick out some more books with the same title word. This one is a graphic novel following a Jewish film-maker who intends to flee Nazi Germany with his screen writer wife, only to end up in Japanese occupied Shanghai, where he tries to get his wife’s script filmed. It’s interesting to read about an aspect of WW2 that isn’t written about quite so much, though it didn’t do as much with it as it could have, and the plot leans a little too much on convenient cliches to be truly great. It’s another of those graphic novels that feel like they might have worked better if they had a bit more space rather than trying to cram everything into 100 pages. Still, it wasn’t a terrible read, just not one that really stands out, which is a shame considering the potential of its setting.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 19, 2020, 11:16am

4. The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick by Mallory O’Meara
This book tells the story of Milicent Patrick, the woman who designed the Creature from the Black Lagoon but was then depressingly pretty much written out of film history after her boss fired her because he wanted to take full credit for everything himself. Patrick is an interesting woman and one very worth reading about. As well as working on the Creature, she was also one of the earliest female animators at Disney and worked on Fantasia. Sadly, the writing of the actual book isn’t as good as it could be. It’s another of those books where the author often seems to spend as much time talking about herself as the subject of the book. I think this could partly be because of the sparsity of information on Milicent available. She spends a lot of time talking about how difficult it was to find any information on her at all. It might have been nice to focus on Milicent Patrick while also telling the story of other women working in the industry at the time, but instead it often feels like O’Meara is stretching to find things to write about to fill the space. The first half of the book in particular often seems to spend more time on barely relevant topics. She talks about Patrick’s father, who was an architect, who worked for William Randolph Hearst, which leads to pages of biography of Hearst, someone who certainly doesn’t need the extra exposure Patrick does. The second half of the book is much better and focuses more on the making of the film and Patrick’s role in it, and I really enjoyed a lot of that, and given the lack of other information about her it’s worth reading for that reason. It’s infuriating what happened to her, and also all the people who dismissed her since with ridiculous reasons such as the fact that she must only have been at the film set because she was someone’s girlfriend or claiming that she didn’t really design the monster because the publicity photo of her working on designs was clearly staged (because all other publicity photos are taken on the spur of the moment with no posing at all of course.) I’m glad I read it, but wish the book had found a better way to frame her story.

tammikuu 16, 2020, 7:37pm

>26 valkyrdeath: That really does sound disappointing, Valkyrdeath! I am interested in the woman, but not in that book. It reminds me of how much I wish there more on Rosalind Franklin, the real person who discovered the shape of DNA, and since she was a woman, and a tech, and because Watson and Crick were young, and jerks, she got no credit. Then she died before the Nobel committee got around to it.

tammikuu 16, 2020, 8:44pm

>26 valkyrdeath: I've been meaning to read Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA for some time now, but I've yet to get hold of a copy. I read a play about her a couple of years ago.

tammikuu 19, 2020, 9:43am

>25 valkyrdeath: a memoir about Jewish life in Shanghai would interest me. But a clichéd graphic novel, well maybe still since I know so little about it, but it seems that one is not ideal.

>26 valkyrdeath: what Sally said. Fascinating topic.

tammikuu 19, 2020, 5:49pm

>29 dchaikin: I'd certainly be interested in reading a more detailed work about that aspect of history in Shanghai but the graphic novel didn't really look at much of what was happening around the main character aside from his film making.

tammikuu 20, 2020, 6:25pm

5. Magic is Dead: My Journey into the World's Most Secretive Society of Magicians by Ian Frisch
From one non-fiction book that felt like it didn’t live up to its potential to another. The52 is a highly secret group of magicians. So incredibly secretive that they have a tattoo to show they’re in it and invite a journalist to join and write a book about them. Or in other words, they’re a group of magicians involving some who have come up with a good marketing gimmick to get noticed. Ian Frisch is a journalist who befriends some of these magicians and starts to get involved in their world. As with the book I’ve just finished reading, the author once again gets far too obsessed with the subjects of his work, and it just starts to feel untrustworthy quite quickly. As someone with more than a passing acquaintance with the magic world I’m familiar with a lot of the people he talks about during the book but sceptical about some of the claims. According to Frisch, these young magicians are completely revolutionary and all the older generation of magicians are awful. The reason he thinks they’re revolutionary is because they don’t wear top hats or work with rabbits, which I believe applies to almost every magician since Victorian times outside of a Looney Tunes cartoon. There’s nothing wrong with these magicians he’s discussing, some of them are very good, (Shin Lim, who is only mentioned briefly, is about the closest I’ve seen to something that looks like real magic) but the idea that because they develop their own style that makes them unique is ludicrous since that’s what pretty much every great magician has always done. A large part of the book feels like advertising for his friends, particularly Chris Ramsay, and the rest is another case of the author talking about himself. There’s a full chapter of him talking about the time in his past when he met with Shaquille O'Neal, which I’m sure would be a great chapter in his memoir but I’m not sure what it’s got to do with magic. It isn’t all terrible, there’s the odd magical history lesson and it does occasionally bring up important points, such as the lack of women in magic, something that’s only changing very gradually, as evidenced by my shelf full of magic books with not a single female name amongst them. And I can’t really get too upset over criticisms of magicians in general since as much as I love magic, both watching and performing, I’ve found a lot of communities of magicians to be fairly obnoxious. But the book is just overall a bit dull and doesn’t really do much to make the subject seem interesting. It might have a different impact to someone who didn’t have as much familiarity with magic though, which is probably the intended audience.

tammikuu 21, 2020, 5:31pm

6. The Dream Merchant by Nathan Edmondson
A science fiction comic about a man who discovers his recurring dreams are actually visions of another world that is about to invade ours in some of weird vaguely explained metaphysical way. It’s readable but nothing special, and it doesn’t really go anywhere interesting with it. It also ends in a way that seems set up for a sequel but this is all there is.

tammikuu 29, 2020, 4:26pm

7. The Dust That Falls From Dreams by Louis de Bernieres
This book follows a group of friends and family before, during and after the first world war. It’s told in a large number of short chapters jumping around different perspectives, and I really enjoyed it. It’s not a plot driven book but the characters were all very well realised which kept me reading, and the author also managed to fit in quite a bit of humour alongside the tragedy of the war. While writing this review I’ve only just now discovered that it’s actually the first of a trilogy and the second is already out following the characters through the interwar period, so I’ll be interested to give that a go at some point.

tammikuu 29, 2020, 5:00pm

>33 valkyrdeath: I read and liked it quite a bit and this is the first time I've heard that it's part of a proposed series. I'm now looking forward to it.

helmikuu 3, 2020, 2:34pm

>33 valkyrdeath: I put that one on my wish list some time ago as it sounded interesting. I really struggled with Captain Corelli's Mandolin and so have avoided de Bernieres ever since, but I think my reading taste has changed quite a bit since then, and there's a good chance I'd maybe even enjoy that one if I tried it again.

helmikuu 5, 2020, 6:18pm

>34 RidgewayGirl: It took a while before I even found that book was a sequel. It was only when I was looking up random books by the same author that I recognised the character names, but most of the things I saw about it at first didn't even mention anything about the previous book. Maybe they wanted to emphasise that it works as a standalone.

>35 AlisonY: I've never read anything else by de Bernieres. There's definitely books I enjoy now that I'd never even have considered reading a few years ago though, and this was probably one of them.

helmikuu 17, 2020, 5:17pm

9. Dreams Before the Start of Time by Anne Charnock
A novel in three parts following different generations and looking at how scientific advances could change procreation and parenthood. It’s got some very good writing in some of the scenes and some decent ideas but somehow it just didn’t hold together. It often feels like a bunch of random scenes stuck together and there was no story to speak of, or any real sense of any progression. You read about a character and then before anything gets resolved it jumps onto another and then just ends with no real sense of what the point of any of it is. Admittedly, I don’t really understand the desire to have children in the first place, but either way I don’t feel the book would really work that well as a novel, even if on a scene by scene basis the characters often felt quite convincing. It won the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2018 though so it obviously works for some people.

helmikuu 17, 2020, 5:36pm

Stopping by to catch up.
You seem to have a dream undercurrent to your reading this year!
"Ride of the Valkyries" is the ring tone on my phone :)

helmikuu 18, 2020, 3:46pm

>38 auntmarge64: Thanks for stopping by! My first two books of the year had Dream in the title by complete coincidence but I thought it would be fun to carry it on since there were quite a few on my To Read list with it too. Ride of the Valkyries sounds like a very dramatic ring tone!

helmikuu 21, 2020, 12:02am

>38 auntmarge64: I couldn't help but imagine this ring tone going off in church or the library.

maaliskuu 1, 2020, 5:25pm

11. There There by Tommy Orange
I enjoyed this novel which switches between quite a number of narrators from chapter to chapter, showing a wide range of Native American urban experiences before they all come together at a pow wow. Occasionally I found I could lose track of which character was which and how they all related to each other since there were so many, but usually within a few lines of the chapter I’d be back up to speed so it wasn’t really an issue. I’ve left it a bit too long from reading it to writing my review to go into too much detail, but I found it a worthwhile read.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 8, 2020, 8:07am

8. Ice Cream Man Volume 2 by W. Maxwell Prince
10. Ice Cream Man Volume 3 by W. Maxwell Prince
12. Ice Cream Man Volume 4 by W. Maxwell Prince
The volumes in this anthology series are quite short, each collecting four issues, so I thought I’d give these three a try to see how it continued to develop. Each issue tells an individual story about a different character with the recurring theme being the Ice Cream Man playing a passing role, or something a bigger role, in each. It continues to be quite a frustrating series. Every so often, it does something that shows the potential the comic has, but it doesn’t ever seem to be able to quite reach it. Some of the stories are better than others but most of them seem to fizzle out without any particularly satisfying conclusion. There’s some interesting twists on the format, such as a “silent” comic, free of dialogue and showing three parallel versions of the story of a man depending on a particular choice he made, but while it’s interesting stylistically, none of the three stories were actually interesting. The most successful is probably the palindromic comic where the second half has the same panels in reverse order. This one is quite clever, with the lines immediately before a question becoming the answer to that question on the way back and bringing a new context to it all. But even when there’s an issue that seems to be working quite well as a more subtle story he seems to feel the need to throw in some overt horror monster elements that seem completely unnecessary. The experimentation in structure puts me in mind of the anthology TV series Inside No. 9, but where that show consistently impresses with its inventiveness and the quality of its writing, Ice Cream Man feels like it’s constantly trying to reach for something that’s just outside its grasp. I like the idea of this comic, but whether it’s the shortness of the issues to try and cram in a full tale or just the writing, it’s just not quite working for me.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 13, 2020, 1:38pm

13. Nobody’s Perfect by Donald E. Westlake
Another Dortmunder novel reread, this time of the fourth book in the series. This one sees Dortmunder hired to steal a valuable painting for the owner to fraudulently claim the insurance, but obviously things don’t go to plan when the painting goes missing and they ultimately end up in the UK. As always, a hugely funny and entertaining read.

maaliskuu 14, 2020, 12:35pm

14. Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire
The fifth book in the Wayward Children series of novellas, this time returning again to Jack and Jill to add a presumably final chapter to their story. The second and fourth books are still my favourites, going into the backstories of some of the characters, but this was another well written and enjoyable read with a really varied group of characters.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 26, 2020, 5:41pm

15. Dream Houses by Genevieve Valentine
A science fiction novella that bases itself around a classic genre concept but takes it in a slightly different direction to usual. Amadis wakes up early on a long journey and finds the rest of the crew dead and without enough food. The ships AI may or may not be malicious and the narrator might not be reliable. It’s a bleak survival story but I’ve left it a bit too long since reading it to put in too many details. A decent read but not one I loved.

huhtikuu 22, 2020, 4:28pm

16. Girl on Film by Cecil Castellucci
Girl on Film is a graphic memoir about the author growing up with a determination to try and be a filmmaker, with occasional detours to discuss the nature of memory with her father. It was an enjoyable enough read though nothing too spectacular. There’s a bit too much name dropping at times and the random conversations about memory really felt like they were something that belonged in a different book. I’m way behind on my thread so it’s been a while since I finished this one, so I’ve left it a bit long to do a thorough review.

huhtikuu 23, 2020, 6:24pm

17. Good Morning, Comrades by Ondjaki
This is a semi-autobiographical novel of growing up at a very specific time in Angola from the perspective of a child. It’s well written and a nice way to learn about a time in a country that I know very little about. There was a good afterword providing some background details on everything too.

huhtikuu 26, 2020, 8:15pm

18. British Ice by Owen D. Pomery
A graphic novel set on an Arctic island under British control, British Ice looks at colonialism through the lens of a historical mystery. It’s was a pretty good read, though didn’t have a huge impact on me.

huhtikuu 27, 2020, 5:14pm

19. Cunk on Everything by Philomena Cunk
Philomena Cunk writes about absolutely everything in existence except the 95% of stuff not worth knowing. Cunk is the comic creation of Charlie Brooker, played by Diane Morgan, who also narrates the audiobook version for the full effect. She’s a supposed expert with a bizarre turn of phrase who doesn’t know anything more than what she’s misunderstood from a brief glance at a Wikipedia page, and stars in spot-on parodies of a certain type of TV documentary, which continues in this book. One running joke sees her finding ways to refer to practically everything as “very much the internet of its day”. This book is in the form of an encyclopaedia on various topics, so it’s good for dipping in and out of, and it’s a fun mix of satire and silly jokes reminiscent of the classic 1066 and All That. It’ll teach you that all old churches were made by one man, Norman Architecture, that David Bowie starred in the family film Muppets vs The Goblin Crotch, and that Francis Bacon became Lord Chancellor in 1618 before going on to paint one of the most expensive paintings ever at the age of 408. I enjoyed it, though I think it’s one where you definitely need the character’s voice in your head while reading, or in audiobook which is what I did.

toukokuu 25, 2020, 3:49pm

20. Burmese Moons by Sophie Ansel
An extremely tough graphic novel of life in Myanmar under military dictatorship. It’s an horrendous situation that’s unremittingly portrayed here with constant violence and torture that’s hard to read but of course, people have to actually live through it. It didn’t quite flow well for me and it was a worthwhile read anyway.

I’m way behind on my thread in that I read this book about two months ago so it’s been too long to put too many details in, but also I’ve not read all that much since and am finding it difficult to get going with reading at the moment, but hopefully I’ll at least get my reviews up to date soon.

kesäkuu 8, 2020, 12:04pm

21. Company by Max Barry
This was a very funny satire about corporate politics, following Stephen Jones, a new and enthusiastic recruit at a company called Zephyr Holdings. He’s initially determined to advance in the company but soon discovers that no-one knows what it is the company actually does. The characters are exaggerated, though not by much, since I feel pretty much anyone who’s worked in an office or really any working environment working with other people will recognise the types.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 8, 2020, 12:24pm

22. Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley
A play following the relationship between three sisters after one of them shoots her abusive husband. I found it to be ok but nothing that really stuck with me and since it’s a couple of months since I read it I’ve left it too long to be able to say much more about it.

kesäkuu 8, 2020, 12:57pm

23. The Digital Antiquarian Volume 10: 1988 by Jimmy Maher
Another volume of gaming history focusing mainly around 1988 and covering the stories behind games such as Ultima V and Wasteland, the Gold Box RPGs and various Infocom games amongst others, along with a detour to talk about the book Masquerade and the impact it had on computer games. Well researched and well written as always.

kesäkuu 8, 2020, 12:57pm

24. Labyrinth by Lois McMaster Bujold
A novella in the Vorkosigan series, following Miles on an undercover mission to rescue a scientist, and ending up having to track down a monster that might not be quite as much of a monster as first indicated. It’s a fun quick read, far from one of the highlights of the series but entertaining enough.

elokuu 5, 2020, 3:57pm

25. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
I enjoyed the Ghibli film of Howl’s Moving Castle recently, so decided to try the book and enjoyed it even more. The characters were more interesting, especially the main protagonist Sophie. I can’t say too much more about it since it’s three months since I read it with how far I’ve fallen behind here.

elokuu 5, 2020, 4:01pm

26. Notes on a Case of Melancholia by Nicholas Gurewitch
A heavily Edward Gorey-inspired picture book about the grim reaper. The artwork is excellent and I enjoyed it.

elokuu 5, 2020, 4:11pm

27. Giant Days Vol. 1 by John Allison art by Lissa Treiman
32. Giant Days Vol. 2 by John Allison art by Lissa Treiman and Max Sarin
35. Giant Days Vol. 3 by John Allison art by Max Sarin
39. Giant Days Vol. 4 by John Allison art by Max Sarin
41. Giant Days Vol. 5 by John Allison art by Max Sarin
42. Giant Days Vol. 6 by John Allison art by Max Sarin
The first six volumes of the Giant Days comics, collecting four issues in each book. They follow Esther, Susan and Daisy as they attend university in Sheffield. Books about teenagers aren’t usually things that instantly appeal to me, but these are really well written with very funny and likable characters so I’ll likely just be continuing straight through the whole series. I also like the artwork, and the change of artist a few issues in didn’t completely change the style like sometimes happens in these things.

elokuu 5, 2020, 4:19pm

28. See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid
My first read from an Antiguan author I believe, and I enjoyed it, but unfortunately having left it this long before reviewing it I now can’t remember much more than that I enjoyed listening to the audio version for this one which worked really well with the rhythm of the language used.

elokuu 6, 2020, 2:49pm

29. The Jupiter Myth by Lindsey Davis
Another of the Falco historical mysteries, which is excellent as ever, with Falco still in Britain when a body turns up drowned in a well in Londinium. Always reliable reads with plenty of humour and fun characters and the historical settings are always well done.

elokuu 6, 2020, 2:58pm

30. The Borders of Infinity by Lois McMaster Bujold
Another novella in the Vorkosigan series, this one sees Miles infiltrating a prisoner of war camp to stage a rescue. I enjoyed this one more than Labyrinth. It’s not the deepest story but it was a fun one and its short length was just right for this particular plot.

syyskuu 27, 2020, 3:48pm

31. The Test by Sylvain Neuvel
An interesting novella following an immigrant taking the UK citizenship test. The lead character is likeable and it satirises the sorts of strange irrelevant historical questions on those tests that most of us native to the UK wouldn’t have a clue about, before the book suddenly takes a much darker turn part way through when it reveals it isn’t set in the present but a near future time where the test isn’t quite what it seems. It wasn’t perfect but I enjoyed it, and I’d be interested in reading other things by the author.

syyskuu 27, 2020, 3:56pm

33. Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin
I’m way behind in my reviews and I read this one back in June. I remember finding it very strange and a bit confusing and it didn’t really work for me, but I can’t remember any of the details by this point.

syyskuu 27, 2020, 4:02pm

34. The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry
A well written book that looks at the role of masculinity in modern society and the dangers of the traditional gender roles. It doesn’t come up with new ideas but rather covers briefly some important topics in an accessible way with Perry’s usual engaging style, which can only be a positive thing.

lokakuu 1, 2020, 10:33am

>61 valkyrdeath: I've enjoyed two thirds of his Themis Files series. I have the third one on my shelf so this is a good prompt for it to be my next read.

lokakuu 3, 2020, 8:40pm

>64 rhian_of_oz: I'll have to give that series a try, I've never read anything else of theirs.

marraskuu 16, 2020, 5:25pm

36. Jalaleddin by Raffi
An Armenian novella from 1878, telling a fictional story but based around real then-recent events. The events are tough to read but the book was well written, but as with other recent books I’ve written about, I read it so long ago now I can’t comment much further on the details, but also am determined to at least write something for my records, so this is it.

marraskuu 16, 2020, 5:28pm

37. Hey! Listen! by Steve McNeil
I knew Steve McNeil initially from the Go 8 Bit series so thought I’d give this a go when I had the chance to listen to it as an audiobook. It’s a very brief rundown of the history of video games from their origins up to around the time of Ocarina of Time. It’s not very in-depth, far from the likes of the Digital Antiquarian articles, but it’s a good overview and has a good dose of humour to keep it entertaining too. A light but enjoyable read.

marraskuu 16, 2020, 5:45pm

38. Shady Characters by Keith Houston
A history of punctuation marks with a chapter each on various different ones, some fairly common but mostly the lesser used ones. I found it a really interesting read and enjoyed learning about the usages of things like the pilcrow and the interrobang, and what the @ sign was for before email. I had no idea that the space before a paragraph is simply space that was originally left by early printers for a pilcrow to be drawn in by hand before the speed of printing got such that they could no longer keep up and the punctuation became obsolete and we were left with just a space. If that’s the sort of thing you find interesting, then it’s a book worth reading, and it’s written in a light entertaining way while still being very informative.

marraskuu 18, 2020, 6:39pm

40. The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard
A short sci-fi novella featuring a “mindship” and a detective with the characters being analogous to Holmes and Watson. I quite enjoyed the story and it was set in an interesting world.

Muokkaaja: marraskuu 28, 2020, 9:34pm

43. Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
Always good to re-read a Discworld book. I always loved this one for all the music references in it, and I recognise more of them every time I read it. Despite it not being the most plot driven of his books it’s still a great read, like almost everything he wrote.

marraskuu 28, 2020, 9:39pm

44. Why Me? by Donald E. Westlake
A Dortmunder reread. Another really funny book where Dortmunder accidentally steals a very important ruby, putting him in a mess where he’s in trouble from both sides of the law. These books are always fun to read.

marraskuu 28, 2020, 9:44pm

48. Network Effect by Martha Wells
After four novellas, we’ve now got a full length Murderbot novel. Thankfully, it’s lost none of the charm of the series and is just as good as the earlier books, there’s just more of it. I love the character of Murderbot and the interactions with the other characters are always entertaining. I’m so glad I started reading this series after avoiding it for a while due to the assumptions I had about what sort of story it would be from the name Murderbot.

marraskuu 28, 2020, 9:55pm

50. The Digital Antiquarian Volume 11: 1989 by Jimmy Maher
Another compilation of articles covering gaming history in 1989, as well researched and entertainingly written as ever. This covers things ranging from Sim City and Populous to Prince of Persia and Neuromancer, via more Sierra games, hypertext and the creation of HyperCard. As well as looking at the games and concepts, there’s always a focus on the stories behind them and the people responsible, and they’re nearly always fascinating, to me at least.

marraskuu 29, 2020, 8:43am

55. The Umbrella Academy Vol. 1: The Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way art by Gabriel Ba
I read this book after watching the first series of the TV show to see how it compared. It was enjoyable enough and very different from the TV show, and had some genuinely bizarre scenes, but there was little characterisation and most of the more interesting parts of the series weren’t in the original book. Not a bad read but nothing too amazing.

Muokkaaja: marraskuu 29, 2020, 9:06am

45. Giant Days Vol. 7 by John Allison art by Max Sarin
46. Giant Days Vol. 8 by John Allison art by Max Sarin
47. Giant Days: Extra Credit by John Allison art by Max Sarin
49. Giant Days: Early Registration by John Allison
51. Giant Days Vol. 9 by John Allison art by Max Sarin
52. Giant Days Vol. 10 by John Allison art by Max Sarin
53. Giant Days Vol. 11 by John Allison art by Max Sarin
54. Giant Days Vol. 12 by John Allison art by Max Sarin
56. Giant Days Vol. 13 by John Allison art by Max Sarin
57. Giant Days Vol. 14 by John Allison art by Max Sarin
The rest of the Giant Days series. Brilliant characters and funny throughout. I loved the whole series and am just disappointed that it’s now all over.

marraskuu 29, 2020, 9:18am

58. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
When I heard Richard Osman had turned his hand to writing a book I knew I had to give it a go, and thankfully it didn’t disappoint. Set in a retirement community where some of the residents get together to discuss unsolved murders (under the disguise of being a discussion of Japanese opera to ensure no-one interrupts them) they soon find themselves investigating a current case when people start turning up dead around them. It’s a very entertaining murder mystery and has som every funny scenes, with Osman’s wit showing as much through his writing as it does on TV. Seems there’s going to be sequels to this book so I’ll definitely be looking forward to those.

joulukuu 14, 2020, 4:47pm

59. The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
The first collection of Holmes stories from after Doyle resurrected him after killing him off in The Final Problem. These stories were never quite as good as the earlier ones, probably because Doyle was so reluctant to be writing them in the first place, but they’re still enjoyable and well written.

joulukuu 20, 2020, 4:56pm

60. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 6: Who Run the World? Squirrels by Ryan North art by Erica Henderson
Another really fun volume of Squirrel Girl, always entertaining.

joulukuu 20, 2020, 4:57pm

61. Summer by Ali Smith
The last volume in Smith’s Seasonal Quartet. Given how she wrote these books to be set in the current moment, I think her initial plans for this book were thrown a bit by the pandemic starting this year. The book still worked and I enjoyed her writing as always, and it pulls in all the themes from the earlier books again and once again references a Dickens work. I think it wasn’t quite as good as the earlier three overall but still worthwhile reading to close up the quartet, and I’d like to read them again sometime a bit closer together.

joulukuu 21, 2020, 6:30pm

62. Brothers in Arms by Lois McMaster Bujold
Another book in the Vorkosigan series, this time seeing Miles start to get in a muddle between his two identities, not helped by the appearance of a clone of himself too. Another really fun read with plenty of humour. I’m enjoying this series on the whole.

joulukuu 29, 2020, 2:23pm

63. The Unexpected Man by Yasmina Reza
A short play comprising mostly of alternating inner monologues of two characters meeting in a train carriage, one an author and the other a fan of the author unsure of whether to start reading their book in front of them. Enjoyable enough though not amazing, though the audio version I listened to was well done with David Suchet in the author role.

joulukuu 29, 2020, 2:29pm

64. Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin R. Kiernan
A short novella, very weird and I didn’t feel it really went anywhere. It jumps around and throws a bunch of random conspiracy theories in a way that makes the X-Files mythology episodes look restrained. Baffling and none of it stuck with me.

joulukuu 29, 2020, 4:08pm

65. Behind the Sheet by Charly Evon Simpson
A play following a fictionalised version of the story of J. Marion Sims and the slaves that he used for medical experimentation in order to come up with his fistula treatment. It focuses on the slaves perspective as they’re forced to undergo repeated surgeries with no pain relief. Definitely not an easy story, with the fact that it’s based in truth making it all the more disturbing, and the play was quite well done.

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 30, 2020, 6:51pm

66. Life is Strange Volume 1: Dust by Emma Vieceli art by Claudia Leonardi
68. Life is Strange Volume 2: Waves by Emma Vieceli art by Claudia Leonardi
70. Life is Strange Volume 3: Strings by Emma Vieceli art by Claudia Leonardi
Three volumes of the comic spun off from one of my all time favourite computer games, Life is Strange. I’ve enjoyed reading through them just to spend more time with these characters. The writing isn’t quite up to the standard of the games and it obviously lacks the interactivity, but they’re nice enough reads for fans of the games.

joulukuu 30, 2020, 7:01pm

67. The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector
This was a very odd book that didn’t really work for me. It’s told from the perspective of a male author talking about a story he’s writing about a woman. There’s some interesting moments but the writing was very odd, full of weird sounding lines and sentence fragments that didn't make much sense. I thought it was a translation issue at first but then I read the translators notes and they explained that Lispector’s grammar was strange even in the original and that it shouldn’t be corrected in translations, so maybe Lispector just isn’t for me.

joulukuu 30, 2020, 7:04pm

69. The Zimmermann Telegram by Barbara W. Tuchman
A book about how the interception of the Zimmermann telegram during WWI, the final element that brought the US into the conflict. This is the second book I’ve read by Tuchman and I really like her writing style. It’s very informative but written in a way that makes it really easy to read and enjoyable.

joulukuu 30, 2020, 7:05pm

And with that I've finally caught up for the first time since the start of the year. Not read much this year compared to normal with only 70 books in total with many of those being graphic novels and comic collections, but hopefully that will pick up again next year.