Monthly Archives: January 2014

Books in January ’14

So I’m back to monthly wrap-ups! I almost forgot it was the last of the month, too. Reading has been impeded by various distractions, including the Gentleman Bastard Sequence fandom and the fact that I have a book exam on romance novels and another exam on the classics of literary theory, both in the beginning of March, one after the other. And on top of that, a course on literary adaptations, which takes its sweet time as well.

But enough excuses, this is what I managed this month:

Agatha Christie: The Moving Finger

[unfortunately I have returned the copy I had to the library and Goodreads does not have a summary]

I picked Christie from the library because hey, what better to read during the break than a good whodunit? The reason for choosing this particular mystery was that I love the TV adaptation – which means that I remembered who the murderer was and even the motive, but this caused very little trouble. What I found interesting is that the adaptation adds very little, which in my experience isn’t all that usual: a lot of the Christies you see on television add lots of red herrings and side plots to the fairly straightforward narratives. This one does not, which tells a lot about the way this book is executed. I can wholeheartedly recommend this!

Published: 1942

Pages: 299

Ellen Kushner: Swordspoint

On the treacherous streets of Riverside, a man lives and dies by the sword. Even the nobles on the Hill turn to duels to settle their disputes. Within this elite, dangerous world, Richard St. Vier is the undisputed master, as skilled as he is ruthless–until a death by the sword is met with outrage instead of awe, and the city discovers that the line between hero and villain can be altered in the blink of an eye.

(Goodreads)

Swordspoint remains one of my favourite novels of all time, and it only seems to get better the more you read. When describing the plot to someone one starts to wonder what exactly it is that happens in the book, only to realise that there actually isn’t much in terms on dramatic action, but boy, is there a lot of political intrigue going on! This time around I was most struck by the relationship between Alec and Richard, and the ending hit me hard and will require some further thought the next time around. Absolutely a masterpiece, this novel is.

Published: 1987

Pages: 286

Scott Lynch: The Lies of Locke Lamora

[Do I need to introduce this book again? I think not. I have it tagged.]

I know, I know. Yet again. But how could I not reread these books, particularly now that Republic of Thieves is finally out and there is so much to draw together? I got fascinated by Sabetha’s absence in this one – it reveals a lot about the other gang members, especially taking into consideration what we learned of their relationships in Republic. This is what I love about rereading a series: you start to pay attention to things like this and find new things to think about and words you previously just read gain new meaning.

Lies, like Swordspoint, is one of my favourite novels of all time. If you look at the Scott Lynch tag here on my blog, you’ll see I absolutely rave about this series.

Published: 2006

Pages: 530

Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners–one of the most popular novels of all time–that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. Renowned literary critic and historian George Saintsbury in 1894 declared it the “most perfect, the most characteristic, the most eminently quintessential of its author’s works,” and Eudora Welty in the twentieth century described it as “irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be.”

(Goodreads)

This was my third time reading this novel, and I must say, the two years between readings had done much. I found it even more enjoyable than before, and was much more attuned to nuance. My understanding of Mr Darcy is now much better, and I must say this time around I really enjoyed Caroline Bingley, with her see-through attempts regarding Darcy and her malice towards Elizabeth. Absolutely delightful!

Published: 1813

Pages: 262

China Miéville: The City and the City

China Miéville delivers his most accomplished novel yet, an existential thriller set in a city unlike any other – real or imagined.

When the body of a murdered woman is found in the extraordinary, decaying city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks like a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he probes, the evidence begins to point to conspiracies far stranger, and more deadly, than anything he could have imagined. Soon his work puts him and those he cares for in danger. Borlú must travel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own, across a border like no other.

With shades of Kafka and Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler and 1984, The City & The City is a murder mystery taken to dazzling metaphysical and artistic lengths.

(Back cover of Macmillan 2009 paperback)

The only novel-length text we are reading for the Science Fiction and Fantasy class. I must say I’m not overly fond of this. I read it with a focus on the detective plot, which wasn’t entirely satisfactorily executed, but I did enjoy the way the two cities function in regard to each other. It was what made the story complicated, but I’m not sure it was not unnecessarily complicated. I hope to gain some insight on Monday when we have a class discussion on it.

Published: 2009

Pages: 312

That is January. I apologise for the paltry commentary – several of the books were rereads and I only finished City and the City some minutes ago, so there has not been time for it to settle in my mind yet.

February will include the rest of the books for the romance exam, and hopefully some Regency romance, and something for the adaptation class. It is hard to plan ahead with reading at the moment, but here’s to trying!

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2013 in Books

2014 has begun, and that means it’s time to look at stuff I read last year!

BOOKS READ 2013

1. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: The Return of Sherlock Holmes
2. Stephen Fry: Moab Is My Washpot
3. Mary Balogh: Dark Angel/Lord Carew’s Bride
4. J.R.R. Tolkien: Silmarillion
5. Scott Lynch: The Lies of Locke Lamora x2
6. Georgette Heyer: Pistols for Two
7. Anne Brontë: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
8. Toby Barlow: Sharp Teeth
9. John Mullan: What Matters in Jane Austen? Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved
10.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: The Sign of Four
11.  Lucy Worsley: Courtiers – The Secret History of the Georgian Court
12.  John Fowles: The French Lieutenant’s Woman
13.  Lisa Kleypas: Love in the Afternoon
14.  Peter Ackroyd: The Fall of Troy
15.  Toni Morrison: Beloved
16.  Julia Quinn: Splendid
17.  Julia Quinn: Dancing at Midnight
18.  Stephanie Laurens: The Lady Chosen
19.  Scott Lynch: Red Seas Under Red Skies x2
20.  Brandon Sanderson: Warbreaker
21.  Sean Thomas Russell: Under Enemy Colours
22.  Agatha Christie: Murder Is Easy
23.  P. G. Wodehouse: Much Obliged, Jeeves
24.  John Scalzi: Redshirts
25.  Agatha Christie: Elephants Can Remember
26.  Patricia Highsmith: The Talented Mr Ripley
27. Agatha Christie: At Bertram’s Hotel
28.  Gillian Gill: Agatha Christie
29.  Mika Waltari: Tanssi yli hautojen
30.  Mary Balogh: A Summer to Remember
31.  Julia Quinn: An Offer from A Gentleman
32.  Diana Wynne Jones: Charmed Life
33.  Mark Lawrence: King of Thorns
34.  Jonathan L. Howard: Johannes Cabal: The Necromancer
35.  Jonathan L. Howard: Johannes Cabal: The Detective
36.  Torsten Ekman: Aleksanteri I: keisari ja isänmaa
37.  Agatha Christie: Appointment with Death
38. David Lodge: Small World
39.  Agatha Christie: After the Funeral
40.  Georgette Heyer: Bath Tangle
41.  Mary Balogh: The Famous Heroine/The Plumed Bonnet
42.  Jonathan L. Howard: Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute
43.  Desiree Monet: In His World 1
44.  Jonathan Strahan (edit.): Fearsome Journeys
45.  Mary Robinette Kowal: Shades of Milk and Honey
46.  Mary Robinette Kowal: Glamour in Glass
47.  Colin Dexter: Service of All the Dead
48.  Orson Scott Card: Ender’s Game
49.  Sarah Wendell & Candy Tan: Beyond Heaving Bosoms – The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels
50.  Kelly McClymer: The Fairy Tale Bride
51.  Courtney Milan: The Governess Affair
52.  Julia Quinn & Eloisa James & Connie Brockway: The Lady Most Likely
53.  Mary Balogh: The Secret Mistress
54.  Julia Quinn: Minx
55. Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility
56. Jillian Hunter: A Wicked Lord at the Wedding
57. Eloisa James: The Duke Is Mine
58. Mary Balogh: A Christmas Promise
59. Jillian Hunter: The Duchess Diaries
60. Gaelen Foley: My Irresistible Earl
61. Eloisa James: Enchanting Pleasures
62. Mary Balogh: A Precious Jewel
63. Tracy Anne Warren: My Fair Mistress
64. Eloisa James: When the Duke Returns
65. Eloisa James: A Duke of Her Own
66. Shannon Hale: Austenland
67. Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights
68. Ben Aaronovitch: Rivers of London
69. Rainbow Rowell: Fangirl
70. Saladin Ahmed: The Throne of the Crescent Moon
71. Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey
72. Scott Lynch: The Republic of Thieves x2
73. William Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet
74. Jo Barrett: Nothing to Recommend Her
75. Beverley Kendall: All’s Fair in Love and Seduction
76. Aileen Fish: His Impassioned Proposal
77. Leigh LaValle: The Misbehaving Marquess
78. Ruth Ann Nordin: The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife
79. Larry D. Benson (edit.): Alliterative Morte Arthure
80. Ann Lethbridge: Wicked Rake, Defiant Mistress
81. Oscar Wilde: Salome
82. Eloisa James: Winning the Wallflower
83. Eloisa James: When Beauty Tamed the Beast
84. John Cleland: Memoirs of Fanny Hill
85. Nathaniel Lee: Lucius Junius Brutus
86. Elizabeth Bear: Dust
87. Mary Elizabeth Braddon: Lady Audley’s Secret
88. Ally Condie: Matched
89. Sherwood Smith: A Posse of Princesses
90. Eloisa James: The Ugly Duchess
91. Tracy Anne Warren: His Favourite Mistress
92. Eloisa James: Midnight Pleasures
93. Tracy Anne Warren: The Accidental Mistress
94. Loretta Chase: Don’t Tempt Me

That’s a rather satisfying list, considering how worried I was that the exchange semester would hold me back. I got through quite a lot of romance in August though, so that sort of balanced out the quieter months – and as you can see, the last couple of weeks of the year were romance-heavy as well. My goal at Goodreads was 70 books, and I’ve clearly over-read it with 94. Some of the titles on the list are novellas and plays so they are shorter, but I decided they count.

Now, let us announce the WOW of the year! To those who don’t know, every year I choose one book that rocked my socks off. The rules are that it cannot be by an author I’ve read before, and it must be the first book by that author I’ve read. Here are the previous WOWs:

2009 – Scott Lynch (The Lies of Locke Lamora)
2010 – Ellen Kushner (Privilege of the Sword)
2011 – Mark Lawrence (Prince of Thorns)
2012 – Sgt Dan Mills (Sniper One)

and for 2013

Mary Robinette Kowal (Shades of Milk and Honey)!

I’d heard about Shades of Milk and Honey here and there, and when I found it and the sequel Glamour in Glass from the book sale at Finncon I decided I might as well give them a go. I read the first page of SoMaH and almost screamed because it was so up my street and no one ever explained how much for me the book was! It’s Regency, it’s romance, it’s a bit mystery, it’s magic, and it’s just amazing. As a Janeite I appreciate all the nods towards Austen’s work, and as a lover of mannerpunk – well. It’s just perfect.

Other books who are on my list for this year’s favourite are John Scalzi’s Redshirts (it took my by surprise and I was very upset after finishing it), Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker (it would have been WOW of 2013 had I not read Mistborn a couple of years ago), Peter Ackroyd’s The Fall of Troy (which I liked a lot against all expectations) and Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (reading which I put of for years and years).

So I suppose that’s it for 2013! I bought quite a lot of books, among them two copies of Republic of Thieves, lived abroad, met a lot of people, sunk deeper into romance… A lot of good stuff. This year, I’ve set my reading goal to 85 books, to be adjusted as I see how this year unfolds. I also promise to read at least one Russian classic, since I slacked in that respect in 2013 – I haven’t decided which one I want to read, but I think it’s going to be either Brothers Karamazov or Doctor Zhivago. And I also want to reread War and Peace, but that may have to wait.

Blog-wise, my resolution is to return to regular blogging and book reviewing, so keep an eye on this spot!

That’s it from me. Have a really good year 2014, everyone!

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