taprobane?

The Fountains of Paradise

Arthur C. Clarke

I first read this book a long, long time ago as a library book. A few years ago, with fond memories, I bought a second hand paperback copy of the book to revisit at some point.
Having a desperate need to spend more time away from screens now that I’m working from home during the lockdown I picked a physical book from my shelves to give me that diversion.
The plot is that superstar engineer Vannevar Morgan has decided that his next project should be a space elevator. He has a special low-g developed wonder material that will allow it but he needs to build it on a mountain somewhere on the equator. The best spot just happens to be on the site of an ancient monastery.
This book is solid entertaining Science Fiction but honestly nothing outstanding – definitely not as good as I had remembered.
Worth a read but not worth going out of your way to get a copy.

Rating: B

subway?

A City Dreaming

Daniel Polansky

M is a magician or as he would put in it “in with the management”.
This book is a series of rolling vignettes as we see what M gets up to after washing back up in New York after drifting all over the planet.
The main character is a charming rogue and the writing enjoyable.
The problem for me was that the story never coheres. Some vignettes are utterly trivial tales of life as a debauched New York who just happens to have magical abilities and others have a genuine sense of danger and high stakes.
The stories just feel random – there’s no sense of tension and release. It’s never building to something and certainly the war between magical queens promised in the blurb never materializes.
I don’t regret reading it – there was much to enjoy – but I just felt it could have been great if was a more conventional fantasy story.

Rating: B

princesses?

Holiday in the Hamptons

Sarah Morgan

This is a re-read of a perfectly enjoyable romance novel. You can read my earlier, still accurate, review here. I picked it up because I’d just finished listening to the audiobook of New York Actually (which is the first of the Knight siblings books) and remembered that I liked this one best of the series and the audiobook wasn’t at a price I was prepared to pay.

Rating: B

radon?

Sensation

Nick Mamatas

When Julia Hernandez is infected with parasitic wasps she walks out on her husband and her old life.
She accidentally initiates a new movement and becomes an infamous wanted felon only to vanish.
When Julia’s ex spots her in a grocery store we learn about the battle between parasitic wasps and the spiders that are their normal prey and about the Simulacrum – another world made up of the places that fall between the cracks of our world.
This is a weird and unsettling piece of present day science fiction.
I found it interesting enough to keep me reading but never quite satisfying enough to feel drawn in to the story.
Recommended if you want to read something a bit off the wall and you’re really interested in the way distributed movements act.
I would never have read this if I hadn’t come across it in the library. Just another reason why libraries are great – you can browse and randomly come across something interesting (the selection online is too vast to effectively do this) and take it home with you at no cost (definitely no way you can do this in a book shop).

Rating: B+

2019 Books

While I would have like to have read more this year I’m actually pretty happy I managed to to get my total up to 26 or a book every two weeks with a late spurt in December. Add that to the pretty huge number of audiobooks I’ve listened to this year though and I’m very happy with my ‘reading’ total.

I read a lot of so-so to middling escapist fiction this year – which I do not regret for a second as I like a good escape. That did mean that there were only two books that really stood out.
Tell Me How You Really Feel hit my sweet spot in terms of a Romance and after the initial read I’ve gone back over a few sections several times. I’d love there to be an audiobook of this.
The Fantastic Beasts of Eld belongs to a type of Fantasy that I almost never read any more but I borrowed it from the library on a whim and I just really enjoyed it. I’ve highly recommended it to friends of mine who love Fantasy books.

  1. Fear of Music by Garry Mulholland, rated B
  2. Gentlemen by Bob Gendron, rated B
  3. The Ruby Knight by David Eddings, rated C+
  4. The Sapphire Rose by David Eddings, rated C+
  5. Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi, Rated A-
  6. Traveller In Black by John Brunner, rated B+
  7. In At The Deep End by Kate Davies, rated B
  8. Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis, rated B
  9. The Lemon Sisters by Jill Shalvis, rated B
  10. Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis, rated B-
  11. Domes of Fire by David Eddings, rated C+
  12. The Shining Ones by David Eddings, rated C+
  13. The Hidden City by David Eddings, rated C+
  14. Just Married? by Natasha West, rated B
  15. The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis, rated B
  16. Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett, rated B+
  17. The Prenup by Lauren Layne, rated B
  18. Don’t Panic by Neil Gaiman, rated B+
  19. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip, rated A-
  20. 99% Mine by Sally Thorne, rated C
  21. A Red-Rose Chain by Seanan McGuire, rated B
  22. This Is How You Lose The Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone, rated A-
  23. Night And Silence by Seanan McGuire, rated B+
  24. The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire, rated B+
  25. The Human Division by John Scalzi, rated B+
  26. The End of All Things by John Scalzi, rated B+

2019 Audiobooks

As you can see I listened to a lot of audiobooks this year. In fact this marks the first year that I have listened to more books than I physically read. This was mainly because I spent a lot of time walking in the past twelve months. It also became a good excuse to revisit some beloved works/authors (including ELEVEN books from the Toby Daye series!).
This list is actually smaller than it could have been – there are at least another five books I’m a third of the way into that I’m sure I’ll be returning to in the future.

  1. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien read by Rob Inglis
  2. The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien read by Rob Inglis
  3. The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien read by Rob Inglis
  4. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett read by Martin Jarvis
  5. Mockingbird by Walter Tevis, read by Robert Fass and Nicole Poole
  6. The Rook by Daniel O’Malley, read by Katy Carmichael
  7. Strata by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
  8. Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley, read by Maggie Mash
  9. Agent To The Stars by John Scalzi, read by Wil Wheaton
  10. Eric by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
  11. The Diamond Throne by David Eddings, read by Greg Abby
  12. Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing, read by Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse
  13. Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
  14. Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer
  15. The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi, read by Wil Wheaton
  16. The Day of the Doctor by Steven Moffat, read by Nicholas Briggs
  17. The Last Hero by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs
  18. Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire, read by Mary Robinette Kowal
  19. A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire, read by Mary Robinette Kowal
  20. An Artificial Light by Seanan McGuire, read by Mary Robinette Kowal
  21. We Are Legion by Dennis E Taylor read by Ray Porter
  22. For We Are Many by Dennis E Taylor read by Ray Porter
  23. All These Worlds by Dennis E Taylor read by Ray Porter
  24. Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire, read by Mary Robinette Kowal
  25. One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire, read by Mary Robinette Kowal
  26. Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire, read by Mary Robinette Kowal
  27. Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire, read by Mary Robinette Kowal
  28. The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire, read by Mary Robinette Kowal
  29. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie, read by Deanna Hurst
  30. Fast Women by Jennifer Crusie, read by Sandra Burr
  31. Once Broken Faith by Seanan McGuire, read by Mary Robinette Kowal
  32. The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire, read by Mary Robinette Kowal
  33. Night And Silence by Seanan McGuire, read by Mary Robinette Kowal
  34. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan read by Michael Kramer & Kate Reading
  35. Welcome To Temptation by Jennifer Crusie read by Aasne Vigesaa
  36. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne read by Katie Schorr

chandler?

The End of All Things

John Scalzi

This book directly follows on from the stories told in The Human Division and thankfully starts to reveal the consipiracy behind events right from the start.
Again this is a series of connected novellas and short stories that make up a complete story.
Many characters return from The Human Division but a few new players have impactful appearances.
It’s a satisfying ending without leaving everything too neatly resolved.
Again, good solid Science Fiction written in an enjoyable fashion.
I really needed to know what happened after The Human Division and read this one as an ebook. It was nice to be that involved in a book/world.

Rating: B+

abumwe?

The Human Division

John Scalzi

The Human Division is an entry in Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” universe. Following from the events of The Last Colony / Zoe’s Tale a new political reality faces Humanity and the other species of the universe.
The book itself is made up of a series of novellas and short stories. These are mainly from the perspective of the previously redundant diplomatic service of the Colonial Union as they try to mend fences with Earth and create alliances with alien races. The central character is a familiar face from earlier “Old Man’s War” books – Harry Wilson.
As events proceed it becomes clear that events are being manipulated through sabotage, cultural manipulation and political shenanigans.
Then the book ends and you’re still in the dark!
Thankfully all is dealt with the next book – The End of All Things.
This is good solid Science Fiction from Scalzi. I enjoy his prose style – it’s not flashy but it draws you in to the story without sacrificing character.

Rating: B+