The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
Winner of Best Novel at the inaugural World Fantasy Awards. It tells the story of Sybel, a daughter of wizards, who keeps a menagerie of magical creatures in her high mountain home.
She is removed from the world and knows little of other people and then one day a baby is left with her to keep safe from the King of Eldwold.
How she is changed by that event and the consequences that flow out from that point form a unique kind of fantasy tale.
The distinguishing thing about this book is the quality of the writing. It’s really unlike anything else I’ve ever read in the Fantasy genre. The words flow like a sing-song fairy tale. Somehow retaining the structure of prose but feel of the poetical.
I found it fairly difficult to get into but the last half of the book is incredible.
I really don’t know if it’s going to be everyone’s cup of tea but I suspect I’ll be thinking about it for a long time.
In At The Deep End
This a novel about a woman whose life has become aimless after giving up her dancing career.
Her lovelife is non-existent and work is insecure and uninspiring.
Getting drunk at an arty party she makes out with a woman and the experience brings the realization that she’s attracted to women.
She throws herself into this new world with abandon. Quickly she finds herself with new hobbies, new friends and in a relationship with a woman who encourages her to explore her boundaries.
I life my romances fluffy. This is NOT a fluffy story even if you do get a sweet resolution after the drama plays out.
If you want a coming out story combined with complicated emotional dynamics then you’ve found it.
It’s well enough written – it’s really just not my cup of tea.
This is the sequel to Lock In which set up a near future world where an illness called Haden’s Syndrome has left a significant percentage of the population locked into their physical bodies and only able to experience the world remotely via robot proxies.
The lead character is once again Haden FBI agent Chris Shane.
This one is set in the world of the fast-growing and ulraviolent Haden sport of Hilketa.
When a player dies in a pre-season match Shane and their partner uncover a web of lies that goes all the way to the heart of the sport.
As always Scalzi’s prose is easy to read and designed to draw you in. It’s a fast-paced ride of a read rather than something designed for depth.
The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts
When her friend, mentor and boss dies Posy unexpectedly inherits the bookshop she’s worked in all her life.
Not a natural business person she still realizes that something has to change for the shop to remain open.
She decides to re-open the shop as a specialist in the genre she loves – romantic fiction. Unfortunately she has to deal with her boss’ rude grandson who is determined that the shop should be a specialist crime bookshop.
Inevitably after many stumbling blocks romance ensues.
I quite enjoyed this one and on balance more than the second book in the series even though the quality was roughly the same. Mainly because the characters in this novel aren’t as pointlessly dumb as in the follow up.
Miracle on 5th Avenue
The third member of the Urban Genie crew (see Sleepless in Manhattan) finds love.
Asked to decorate an author’s apartment over Christmas while he’s on retreat in Vermont sweet-natured Eva discovers that he’s not in Vermont at all.
Stuck in the flat with the attractive but brooding Lucas Blade sparks start to fly.
Of course it wouldn’t be a romance if there weren’t obstacles in their way.
Far more fun than the first book in the series I burned through this one over the course of New Years Eve. If you like a sweet predictable romance then this is one for you.
Stressed San Francisco based programmer Lois Clary finds comfort in takeaway sourdough and soup. When the proprietors have to leave the US they leave their sourdough starter with her and it leads to a transformation in her life.
A slight but enjoyable tale with a very likeable protagonist.
By the numbers novelization of the enjoyable Star Wars film. I was hoping for some more fleshing out of the story but there’s just next to nothing new in there at all.
One Dance With a Duke
In this slight historical romance shy, retiring Lady Amelia d’Orsay uncharacteristically pushes herself forward to dance with a moody and mysterious Duke in order to beg him to release her brother’s debt.
One thing leads to another and she quickly finds herself married to the selfsame Duke and involved various social intrigues.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Jake is a misfit teen in Florida. He grew up loving his Grandfather Abe’s fantastic tales from his childhood, stories filled with invisible boys, girls that can float or generate fire. When he finds his grandfather murdered, seemingly by a monster, it causes him so much trauma that he ends up going to a psychologist. In order to deal with his grandad’s death he’s advised to travel the Welsh island where Abe grew up to try and come to terms with things. Once there he discovers that the fantastic tales are all true and that he’s found himself not in an impossible new world of peculiar children and time travel but he is also in terrible danger from the monsters that killed Abe.
I’ve been meaning to read this for ages and when I caught the film on TV recently all it’s annoying flaws drove me to pick up the book to see if made more sense than the film. It certainly explains certain things better and there’s a lot of things that the film makers changed for no real reason that fit better tonally. I’m still not sure it actually completely makes sense. I liked it enough that I’ve picked up the second book in the series and I’ll give that go too.
Only You Can Save Mankind
This is the first of the Johnny Maxwell young adult series and the first of Terry Pratchett’s books I’ve been able to read since his death.
I stayed over at my parents on Christmas Eve and I woke up early on Christmas morning before dawn. As I sat, slightly cold, watching the sun rise over the Forth I borrowed this ebook from Edinburgh Overdrive.
I first read it a long time ago before this blog existed and never again since I started keeping a record of my reading.
This short book retains all of Pratchett’s humour, insight, and empathy while squarely viewing the world from a the perspective of a twelve year old boy.
I don’t want to spend a lot of time on the plot of this one – I just want to recommend it.
Everyone should read Terry Pratchett. If the fantasy trappings of Discworld are putting you off this is as good a place to start as any.