askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
[personal profile] askygoneonfire
I made it to 29 books last year - it would have been 30 but the publishers of Saga fell out with the people who made it available on Kindle so volume 4 was only available electronically from Comixology which, despite being owned by Amazon, is more expensive than the same graphics were on Kindle. Sigh.  ANYWAY; a successful year of reading sci-fi and a few other genres in 2014 and lots of good charity shop buys and library loans so I'm planning more of the same for 2015, onwards!

1. Idoru - William Gibson This was really the 30th book of 2014 as I began it a few days after Christmas and finished on New Years Day.  I really enjoyed it and am itching to read the third book in the Bridge Trilogy now.  Such a vivid, believable future.
2. Danny the Champion of the World - Roald Dahl After the wonderful adaptation of Esio Trot on BBC1 on New Years Day I decided I wanted to revisit some Dahl and picked this one from my shelves as it was the one I had the least memory of. In some ways, it has aged much more than other Dahl's, certainly when I was a child, growing up in a rural village and my Dad was the village policeman and poaching was a way of life, and my Dad, now I come to think of it, often turned up at home with a pheasant of unclear origin, Danny- had a lot more in common with the world I knew. In a world of internet, mobile phones, multiple car ownership, the end of village bobbies, and - for me now - city living, the story seemed much more removed from any sort of life I recognise. The epilogue remains as applicable as ever though; 
3. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams This was in the Amazon Kindle sale with the other 4 books and I couldn't resist the price at under £3 although I already have a hard copy of this particular book.  I think I last read this in 2005 and actually I had forgotten loads.  Laugh out loud funny - although I remembered doing that.
4. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Douglas Adams I didn't enjoy this as much as Hitchhikers although I don't know if that's just because I was in a bad mood. I did like the ending though, quite beautiful in its way.
5. Vincent - Barbara Stok I read the letters of Vincent Van Gogh a few years ago and was so struck I named my cat after him.  I'd heard good things about this graphic and wasn't disappointed.  The style is beautifully simplistic and offers the most striking and compassionate representation of madness I've ever seen - through the use of single visual cue in the panels, I was amazed by its effectiveness.  I absolutely adored it and intend to read it again soon.
6. Once Upon a Time in the North - Philip Pullman This was a Christmas gift and also a re-read.  I was on the fence about the His Dark Materials triology when I read it 5 or so years ago but I truly fell in love with Hester and Lee.  As it is such a short book and it's such a long time ago it all felt new to me and I was totally enamoured with them both again.  And I have, again, spent too long trying to work out what my daemon would be.
7. Life, the Universe, and Everything - Douglas Adams I enjoyed this much more than the previous book and was delighted with the quiet efficiency and brilliance of Trillian.  At times I found the prose a little difficult to navigate but very few complaints.

Started several, finished none.

8. The Lion of Comarre and Against the Fall of Night - Arthur C Clarke. I picked this up in a charity shop and bought it because I'd just finished The City and the Stars which I loved.  I actually prefer some of the characterisation, and small differences in the story in Against the Fall of Night.  The Lion of Comarre didn't really capture my imagination, although the thematic similarities to the second novella are striking. 
9. All Tomorrow's Parties - William Gibson. I was dying to read this and finish the trilogy but it wasn't as satisfying as I hoped.  Laney's death wasn't given enough time and for a character I particularly loved I was sad for that.  The prose was also a bit uneven - really odd grammatically at times and took you out of the flow too often. All that said, it was a good book again and compelling reading.  I liked that when we rejoined Rydell and Chevette they'd separated because I had found their relationship unlikely/circumstance driven at the end of the last book and this felt accurate. It just wasn't as good as it should have been.
10. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish - Douglas Adams This read really fast and I did enjoy it but I also felt I started to pinpoint what it is I dislike about Douglas Adams. Firstly, I don't think he writes decent women,  Fenchurch strays into Manic Pixie Dream girl territory and Trillian has been written out with bloody Zaphod? No. Secondly, and more strikingly, I feel a lot of the jokes seem like in-jokes, references to things I'm two decades too late to join in on and it's vaguely alienating. Compare to say Pratchett, a comparison many seem to make, and Pratchett is so welcoming in his jokes, so non-elitist.

11. Good Omens - Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman I've been putting off reading this for years because a) I don't like co-authored books and b) I don't like Gaiman. As it was, the co-authoring element was fine but I didn't fully enjoy it or feel like I got lost in it.  I kept transposing parts to Discworld and some joyful bits of fun and clever wording clearly stood out as Pratchett's. Basically, I would have loved it if it were a) set in Discworld and b) didn't have all those cynical, slightly nasty (?) 'gosh look how clever I am' bits that seemed to smell of Gaiman. I did rather like the ending though, so that's something.

12. Soul Music - Terry Pratchett Very enjoyable. Good ol' Susan.  Kept missing some of the clever wordplay because I was reading it late/when I was exhausted.
13. Mostly Harmless - Douglas Adams I really loved this up until the end when, despite how logical the end was, I was really disappointed. I suppose that's good - if I wasn't attached to the characters I wouldn't have cared.
14. The Wee Free Men - Terry Pratchett I can't believe I've been putting off reading the Tiffany Aching stories for so long, this was completely brilliant and joyful.  I even cried (right at the end, when Thunder and Lightning round up the storm and she just knows someone is standing behind her).  Looking forward to reading Hatful of Sky, and I found the Wintersmith in a second hand bookshop for a £1 the other day.
15. Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card I loved this.  Really compelling read, loved characterisation. Struggled a few times with what 'the hegemony' was meant to mean within the context of the book but that was really only niggle.  I was surprised, as there is an Ender series, that this book ended quite decisively and not sure I want to rush on to the next book given how neatly everything was tied up - what could [logically] happen next?  The ending was almost too neat, actually.  Still a great book.
16. Saga Volume 4 - Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples Good god I love this series. This volume was the most compelling so far. Cannot wait for next instalment. Adore everything from characterisation to artwork to complexity of character relationships and plots.

17. The Stars My Destination - Alfred Bester I was a bit back and forth on this throughout. Foyle is a really likeable character who does fairly horrendous things (casual rape!) but somehow his character is not drawn sufficiently harshly to really turn him into the anti-hero I think the book needs.  Olivia was a thoroughly weird character and very much of the time the book was written.  But I enjoyed the agency which some of the other women were allowed.  I also finished it quite quickly so it was compelling enough.  I liked the tension of war and greed which drove character's actions and shaped society and thought the characterisation of teleportation as a socially, economically and politically catastrophic invention was astute.
18. A Hatful of Sky - Terry Pratchett My second Tiffany Aching book and just as wonderful as the first.  Beautiful, wonderful story.  I adored it.  Pace, characterisation, story, all spot on.  I stayed up until 3am to finish it which I haven't done for ages.  And I cried.  A wonderful story, and just that reassuring voice of Terry Pratchett telling a story about how telling stories to one another really, really matters.  I miss him.
19. By the Pricking of my Thumbs - Agatha Christie Finally read (after a 2 year break according to these book logs) the next Tommy and Tuppence mystery. Loved this and read it in double quick time. There's something very real about Tommy and Tuppence which appeals to me much more than any amount of Poirot and Miss Marple.
20. Wintersmith - Terry Pratchett This was actually the book I found in a charity shop that prompted me to go backwards and get the two Tiffany Aching novels before this one so I could read the series properly. I still loved it very much but I did think the pacing was a bit off compared to the previous two. Still bloody good stuff.

21. Neuromancer - William Gibson I didn't enjoy this as much as my previous Gibson's - I found the prose very dense and descriptions too abstract to follow easily.  The story itself was largely compelling but I felt the ending was a little weak.  I really liked Molly and Case.  And I found Armitage quite interesting in the latter third of the novel.  It just wasn't quite there for me.  I've just bought his most recent novel and will use that as an indicator of whether I need to accept disappointing endings from Gibson novels in future.
22. I Shall Wear Midnight - Terry Pratchett This might be my favourite ever TP. I adored the richness and brutality of the plot - opening with a [spoiler!] incidence of domestic violence and mob justice was gobsmacking and somehow, even though there were a few bits that felt repetitive, it never lost the pace, or the punch, it opened with.  Tiffany is a tremendous character and the Cunning Man is surely the most terrifying of villains ever conceived.  The Cunning Man is also, and I expect no less from Pratchett, so absolutely appropriate to the times we live in where we are forever being told to turn on our fellow man and those as let poison in surely welcome the Cunning Man in their acts of homophbia, islamophobia, transphobia, racism, misogyny etc etc. That's what was so terrifying about the Cunning Man; he is immediately recognisable because he walks amongst us now.  I particularly liked that Pratchett took us back to that incident of brutality and inhumanity which is only really mentioned in passing in the Wee Free Men regarding the burning of the old woman's house and her manslaughter; it deserved more time and it felt entirely appropriate Tiffany had to be older before we could really explore what it meant.

23. Burning Chrome - William Gibson The short story format made it a little repetitive, and I liked all the co-written stories least but I really enjoyed this. They were exactly right length to read on commute too which was ideal. My favourite story was Hinterlands which I'm still thinking about and desperately want a full length version of.
24. Saga Volume 5 - Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples I'm still enjoying this series so, so much. This was most brutal volume so far and I proper gasped at some of the developments. I'm enjoying the pacing too, desperate to know how many (in-universe) years the series is ultimately going to span

Started a few, finished nothing.

25. The Shepherd's Crown - Terry Pratchett I started this in October, then stopped after finding the death of the character at the beginning was too upsetting to continue, then as time passed, I actively put off reading it so I had something to read during my convalescence from shoulder surgery - which I did. Overall, it wasn't really great after the first 50 or so pages.  Rob's postscript suggests this was only really a sketch of the story and not a finished novel and that corresponds with how I felt about it - secondary characters were quite 2D and there were a few threads which didn't seem to go anywhere.  Overall though, I'm so glad we had this story and got to see Tiffany establish who she was once and for all.  Whatever the content, this entire book was always going to be tied up in my sadness about Terry's passing.
26. Blue is the Warmest Colour - Julie Maroh I had been cautioned by [personal profile] tellitslant that this may not live up to the hype and she was right.  I felt it started well and I Iiked the illustration very much.  Initially it reminded me of Blankets and that was a pleasant association but it fell apart in the final third.  Firstly, the central character was ultimately unlikeable ("no regrets" over cheating on the supposed love of her life and hurting them both?), secondly, we are so past needing bloody tragic lesbian stories. My one word summary would be 'hackneyed'.
27. Pregnant Butch: 9 Long Months Spent in Drag - A.K. Summers I loved, loved, loved this.  Really light touch but thoughtful and funny. I should have read this ages ago as may mention it in my thesis and had it for about 6 months but there we are. Will be recommending it to everyone.
28. The Peripheral - William Gibson This was mind crushingly complicated for the first half/until I acclimatised to the world[s] I was being dropped into. I loved it though. Read it incredibly fast for 500 pages and, unlike the last few full length Gibson novels, I also loved the ending. Great book, great storytelling.
29. Rendezvous with Rama - Arthur C. Clarke I started this in September but just wasn't in right frame of mind to enjoy this type of novel. With the exception of the occasionally excruciating sexism, it was an enjoyable read in the end. It put me strongly in mind of Journey to the Centre of the Earth with similar pacing, frustrations and resolution. I felt at times it was a love letter to the scientific method and not a sci fi book at all. Although the simps are the notable exception to that summary. 
30. Eric - Terry Pratchett I recently logged all my TP books and decided to make sure I finally read the ones I had skipped when I began reading discworld some 18 years ago. I believed I hadn't read this but rereading in a day it all felt quite familiar so perhaps I borrowed it from Lucy. It was enjoyable all the same and I do intend to a full reread in the coming years so this is more like a headstart on that.


askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
a sky gone on fire

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