My 2021 books

Conversazioni75 Books Challenge for 2021

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My 2021 books

Gen 2, 5:39pm

Hi y'all! Happy new year!

I'm excited to start reading with you all again. Last year I read so much, I don't think that will happen again. But still, there's always hope.

1. Cemetery Boys, Aiden Thomas

I was disappointed by this book. Many of my friends absolutely love it and recommended it strongly, but I always felt that it fell short of what I hoped it would be. The ideas were really great: the characters, the magic system (though strangely binary), the interspersed Spanish, the very beginning of the book. But the execution left a lot to be desired in my opinion. The pacing was all over the place, glossing over important scenes while endlessly dragging out mean-girl gossip at school. The characters changed characterisation wildly from scene to scene in a way I can't explain with teenage hormones. It's like the book couldn't decide whether it wanted to be a mystery or a family story or a romance, and didn't do any of them particularly well.
The trans representation in Yadriel is really great though. I loved the way the author handled the more technically difficult aspects of that, and Yadriel himself was wonderful as a protagonist. I guess I just wish the book had been edited better.

2. Magic for Liars, Sarah Gailey

I was always a bit frustrated with the protagonist of this mystery, but I still loved the book. The magic system is so interesting, and seeing it from the perspective of an outsider trying to investigate was great. There was so much going on at the school aside from the central plot that it felt like a really full, lived-in place, not just a setting for a death. I guessed part of the solution, but only part of it. As always, I wish the perpetrators would actually go to jail, but I think the mystery genre usually doesn't agree with me there. The book certainly was suspenseful until the very last page. I loved Gailey's book "Upright Women Wanted" and after this one I'll certainly look out for more from them.

I think that's a pretty good start to the year, with two books in two days. To many more!

Gen 2, 6:14pm

Hope you have a great year of reading!

Gen 2, 6:14pm

Nice start! Happy new year!

Gen 2, 6:52pm

Happy reading in 2021, Miriam!

Gen 3, 12:15am

And keep up with my friends here, Miriam. Have a great 2021.

Gen 5, 7:11am

Thank you and happy new year everyone!

3. False Value, Ben Aaronovitch

2021 reread: I love this series, I love these characters. I also really appreciate that this book serves as an easy on-ramp for new readers, eight books into the series. Great casual explanations, and just as many jokes as ever. I could not be more hyped for the next book.

Gen 5, 8:10am

>6 BerlinBibliophile: I've seen some of the Aaronovitch books--maybe the Rivers of London series--and wondered how they were. If I were ever to venture a little more into that genre, I think that is a series I might try.

Gen 5, 5:35pm

>7 thornton37814: this is also part of the Rivers of London series. It's one of my all-time favourite series, and I just love watching the characters grow and the author improve in it. The magic system is so cool and I love Peter Grant as the narrator.

4. The Devil and the Dark Water, Stuart Turton

This book is quite long, and yet I blew through it in a day. I loved the characters and the set-up of the mystery, and it was really suspenseful reading about them trying to solve it, while everything around them goes wrong and the ship descends into chaos. I was really surprised at the ultimate resolution, but very happy with it. That doesn't happen too often, but Turton managed it very deftly, leaving my suspicions close to the truth but ultimately off the mark. I wish there were another book about these characters to read.

Gen 6, 7:57am

>8 BerlinBibliophile: I really enjoyed that one too, and was also pretty surprised by the ending. And yeah, it would be fun to read more about them!

Gen 6, 3:13pm

>9 drneutron: I had my suspicions, but they turned out to be wrong, and I was actually happy to be wrong about that! Definitely surprising.

5. Piranesi, Susanna Clarke

I think I may have found one of my favourite books of the year already. I was blown away by the beautiful, deliberate language and the slow unfolding of the world around and within the protagonist. An absolute masterstroke. I loved the House and all the little ways the protagonist interacts with It. I loved the psychology of his tangles with the Other and 16. I loved the way Clarke incorporated the journal entries in the story, and the tangible, physical way the House and the action within it is described. It seems to me at once as solid as marble and as ephemeral as a dream.

Gen 11, 11:21am

6. Murder at the Lakeside Library, Holly Danvers

I was a bit disappointed in this book. I really liked the set-up, basically the first half of the novel. The characters were nice and the setting great for a mystery, an isolated lakeside community with insiders and outsiders and interesting class dynamics. But all that was thrown away in the second half when the characters proceeded to make more and more stupid decisions (like confronting a murderer on their own when they really didn't need to) and their conversations became more and more repetitive. The writing on the sentence level is also really clunky and awkward. Lovely descriptions of nature though.

Gen 14, 4:11am

7. The Last Wish, Andrzej Sapkowski

I felt like the book got better the longer it went on. The opening was not to my taste, but with each short story it improved. We got to know the characters in more nuanced ways and the worldbuilding expanded. I'm going to keep reading the series and hope it keeps on getting better.

Modificato: Gen 14, 9:29am

I’m reading them in publication order - about to start the second in that tally, Baptism of Fire. Story’s pretty engaging so far.

I think The Last Wish is a set of short stories written later to fill in back story of the characters.

Gen 15, 3:45pm

>13 drneutron: this book was a present from a friend. I'm definitely going to keep reading the series. I didn't realise there was a question of which to start with, I just picked up the one my friend sent me this week. But it was definitely a book of short stories and I'm curious to see how I'll like a full-length novel.

8. Felix Ever After, Kacen Callender

I loved Felix's development in this book. He gets a concentrated dose of teenage drama in the course of one summer, and I enjoyed reading about all his ups and downs (and backwards and forwards as well). Near the end, there was one paragraph about the power and emotion of community that made me tear up with happy tears. Felix and Ezra and the characters around them are so wonderfully drawn and fleshed out, with their petty squabbles, their seriousness, their life-shattering and then life-changing feelings. It really captures the feeling of being a teenager who questions everything and is full up with confusing feelings.

Gen 15, 8:24pm

Impressive start to the reading year, Miriam. My thoughts too about The Last Wish. I read it last year but haven't added any of the follow ups yet.

Have a lovely weekend.

Gen 19, 11:22am

9. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, JK Rowling

In hindsight there's so much foreshadowing in this book that pays off big time in the second half of the series. Reading it again was a bit like a treasure hunt, slowly going through and picking up on the bits that will be so important later.
The book's themes of your choices defining who you are and leading to concequences later are very important to me, especially now that the author is behaving heinously and hurtfully towards so many people.

>15 PaulCranswick: have a great week, Paul! I also have the problem of starting series and then only getting the next book once I've forgotten most of what happened in the first one...

Gen 22, 5:35am

10. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

It took me a few chapters to really get into the dialogue style, but this book is simply phenomenal. Janie is a fantastic protagonist who grows and changes throughout as she slowly takes control of the narrative of her own life. The free indirect discourse is a great tool for showing her growing confidence in her own words and choices. None of the characters are perfect or evil, they're all conflicted, changeable, human figures with both light and dark inside them. Hurston's writing is absolutely beautiful and there were many sentences I underlined and kept thinking about for a while after I finished the book. This was my favourite: "Love is lak de sea. It's uh movin' thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it's different with every shore."

Gen 22, 1:43pm

>17 BerlinBibliophile: First time I tried that one I was not in a great place and couldn't get beyond those first few tricky chapters you described. Will try it again sometime soon.

Gen 25, 11:28am

>18 PaulCranswick: It's really worth it in the end, so I hope you'll give it another chance!

11. The Midnight Library, Matt Haig

I'm not quite sure what to think. Despite the sad premise, I liked the story and I liked Nora as the protagonist of her many lives. I also really like Matt Haig's prose style, with many short, pithy chapters. At the same time, I couldn't help but feel that the ending, considering what had come before it, was a bit trite.

Gen 26, 5:04pm

12. Squire, Tamora Pierce

2021 reread: I think this may be my favourite book in this series. It's so wonderful to see Kel coming into her own and being appreciated by her peers and authority figures for once. She meets such a huge variety of people from all stations in life in this book, it's great to see her learn so much more about all sorts of Tortallan lives.

Feb 1, 8:07am

13. Töchter einer neuen Zeit, Carmen Korn

The characters in this book are great, and they change in dynamic and believable ways throughout the story. The setting is an interesting one full of political and social change. At times it all felt a bit too "easy" (both physically and morally) for the charcters. There was still some interesting exploration of normal lives in these turbulent times. I wish the author didn't always jump from the beginning of a story (starting a new job, a relationship, a business) to another new beginning (already married and with a new baby, or with a successful business that needs new premises) for that same person without letting the reader see more of the development in between.
I was a bit disappointed that the book ends with a cliffhanger though. Not necessary, in my opinion. Still, I loved the characters and I'm excited to read more about their lives.

Feb 1, 5:41pm

14. The Lives of Saints, Leigh Bardugo, illustrated by Daniel J. Zollinger

I have to be honest, most of the appeal here is in the illustrations. The saints' lives are interesting, but the illustrations steal the show. They are marvellous, brilliant, and capture a historical fantastical style so, so well. Some of them are even aged, as though people take them out to pray over them often. This book is a beautiful object, visually stunning and a pleasure to touch.

Feb 4, 4:47am

15. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

What a beautiful book. A lovely, meaningful story and wonderful illustrations. This edition is produced beautifully, with gilt edges, embossed cloth cover, and a ribbon bookmark.

Feb 4, 4:14pm

>23 BerlinBibliophile: Glad you loved The Little Prince, Miriam. I read it again a few years back, and it was still as good as I remebered.
I would love to see a picture of your edition.

Feb 5, 8:00am

16. Hunger Pangs: True Love Bites, Joy Demorra

This book was such a fun break. The characters are great and they get the development they deserve. Their relationships are wonderful, and I was so happy to see a loving negotiation of boundaries before the leads fell into bed together.
The world building is really interesting and I found myself much more invested in the "save the world" plot than I expected to be. The politics of that world also work perfectly realistically. I could tell because I wanted to strangle the conservative parlamentarians.
It was also great to see a disabled hero who finally gets the treatment he deserves from his doctors. The whole world was simply filled with wonderful characters of all identities. I really loved the Jane Austen-inspired ball scenes. This book is so funny and charming!

Feb 5, 12:13pm

>24 FAMeulstee: it's from the Macmillan Classics Collection. It's really small, but so pretty. The illustrations were drawn by the author, really cute.

Modificato: Feb 5, 10:40pm

Questo messaggio è stato segnalato da più utenti e non è quindi più visualizzato (mostra)
Hello new author here. I just recently had published a book of poems and short stories. The title of my book is called Teardrops on the Petals .It consist of short stories and poems. Topics cover love , erotic love, poverty , substance abuse, youth and gun violence, some poems are even religious. One of the short stories centers around an abusive, neglectful mother and how her behaviours effect her daughter and son.The other short story symbolizes beauty in being a misfit or rather not fitting into the so called category of not being conventional, normal , or status quo and how sometimes people can have cruel reactions to something that is different or new
If interested just send me a message here or look me up on FB also my instagram is ajbookauthor

Feb 7, 12:48pm

Hi Miriam - I'm very slowly finding my way to various threads and it looks like we have some reading interests in common :-) I also really enjoyed Piranesi and I haven't read The Devil and the Dark Water yet but loved Stuart Turton's first novel. I've also got Felix Ever After on my wishlist.

Happy reading!

Feb 11, 4:39pm

17. Queens of the Crusades, Allison Weir

This is a really interesting book about fascinating women. Sometimes I wish Weir had condensed some of the repeated years of progresses and bolts of cloth purchased, but it was still a well-written and well-researched history. The relationships between these queens are interesting to read about, as was their use of political power and contemporary responses to it. Everyone knows Eleanor of Aquitaine was a badass, but her successors are well worth reading about as well.

Feb 11, 4:43pm

>28 souloftherose: Hi Heather, I saw your thread too. We have so many books in common! I saw you read some T. Kingfisher recently. I read her book about a boy with an armadillo familiar recently and really enjoyed it. I hope you enjoy Felix Ever Afer! I really did.

Feb 15, 5:33pm

18. Dying With Her Cheer Pants On, Seanan McGuire

I had a fantastic time reading about these weird, wonderful cheerleaders. As a non-American I felt kind of like an outsider looking in on mysterious rituals, but I guess that might be the case for normal cheerleading that doesn't involve saving the world that often too. The characters are so fleshed out and they all get a chance to shine in their own stories. One of my favourites was about the harvest girl, who gets a little bit of an outsider's view into the world of the Fighting Pumpkins.

Feb 16, 11:10am

19. Murder by the Book, Claire Harman

2021 re-read: There are so many unanswered questions at the end of this book, but it's still an excellent examination of popular culture in the early Victorian era. I guess that's one of the frustrations of reading about a murder that was never really solved.

Feb 19, 5:48am

20. Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi

The first 300 pages of this book were great. The came a hundred pages of emotional frenzy between the characters which honestly felt unrealistic and way too quick. I don't think you start completely trusting your deadly enemy with your life, loving him even, within 24 hours of grudgingly working together. Everyone else's emotions were similarly careening all over the place and they were all making out of character stupid decisions. I could have done without the hormonal teenage horniness episode. For the final 100 pages, the book returned to great form. The ending was exciting and suspenseful and I'm eager to see what happens next. The worldbuilding in this book was great throughout.

Feb 24, 9:23am

21. The Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler

This time I read the book straight through. Last time I had missed how quickly the book reads. So much happens and Lauren moves from life-changing event to life-changing event. But despite being a relatively quick read, Octavia Butler manages to express so many important lessons about life and people and politics in one short book. It really is excellent, even if it is heart-breaking to read.

Modificato: Mar 1, 12:12pm

22. Take a Thief, Mercedes Lackey

2021 re-read: This is still one of my favourite "comfort" reads. Skif is so wonderful, and I love all the varied characters he meets in Haven, both good and bad and everything in between. There are no easy answers in this book, but that's okay. I wish we could see a little more of Skif's growing friendship with the other Trainees, but I guess we do see more of that once Talia turns up in the Collegium.

23. The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett

What a brilliant exploration of family and identity and truth and lies. I really loved the book, especially the chapters focusing on Joan. The four women at the centre of this story are all fascinating, ever-changing personalities and this book really gets down to the emotional core of family and how much they define you, can lift you up or hurt you. Reese is a bit of a satellite to Joan, but even his story is so nuanced and thoughtfully handled. Excellently written, I really recommend it.

Mar 8, 5:20pm

24. Sword of Destiny, Andrzej Sapkowski

I really liked these stories. I enjoyed getting to see a bit more of normal life as well as the portentous destiny stuff. I think my favourite story was the one of the doppler causing mischief and high profits to his "victim", and the mental image of Geralt translating for a love-struck lord and mermaid as they argue over who should give up their legs/fins was hilarious.

25. Barrayar, Lois McMaster Bujold

I really loved this book. Cordelia is such a fantastic protagonist and it was great to explore her new life on Barrayar along with her. I love stories about political and palace intrigue, and this was a really good one.There was so much at play in this book, and it shifted from fish out of water to family drama to chase through the woods to heist seamlessly. A lot happens, but it's never confusing and always welcome. I can't wait to meet Miles now.
Also, that "Shopping" line was iconic.

Mar 11, 9:15am

26. The Warrior's Apprentice, Lois McMaster Bujold

What a ride. This book is a real rollercoaster and I enjoyed every minute of it. Miles seems driven by and towards chaos and it was fascinating to see him shape some sort of order out of the people and events around him. I loved the nail-biting progress of the Dendarii and I can't wait to see what happens to them next.
I was sad to see Bothari go so quickly, but Elena is just as interesting a character, just in a different direction. Miles was great as a protagonist, and I loved seeing him use his mind and people skills as his greatest weapons. The world-building is great as well!

Mar 13, 7:40am

27. The Vor Game, Lois McMaster Bujold

Poor Miles gets thrown from impossible situation to impossible situation. He does incredibly well by using his wits and scrapes through by the skin of his teeth, then the universe throws him another curve ball. The poor boy. It was very fun to accompany him on his romp through the Hegen Hub, and to see more of the characters we've come to love and those who haven't had a prominent role yet, like Gregor. I had a great time with this book.

Mar 13, 4:46pm

28. Plain Bad Heroines, Emily M. Danforth

I didn't really know what to expect of this book going in, I bought it mostly because it was recommended to me. I'm not much of a horror reader and I had never heard of Mary MacLane, but now it seems like I have a fun research project ahead of me.
The whole book is just the right mix of spooky and weird and funny and queer to make me really care about the characters and their parallel journeys through time and filmmaking.
I immediately want to read more about Harper and Audrey and Merritt. And yet, the ending of the book was absolutely perfect as it was.

Mar 24, 5:52pm

29. The Priory of the Orange Tree, Samantha Shannon

I really loved this book. The world is so wonderfully drawn. All the political machinations and the social fabric of these countries were so vivid and fully realised. I also loved the characters, especially Ead. She journeyed so far in this book, and every step she took was interesting. Tané is also wonderful, and Nayimathun of course.
When the book started I couldn't see how it was all going to come together, but it did, and I very much enjoyed that. So much happens, but it was never confusing, but a thrilling ride.

30. Cetaganda, Lois McMaster Bujold

This was a bit slower than previous entries in the series, but I still had a good time. Cetagandan society is absolutely fascinating, with the haut and the ghem and their several, interlocking factions. I think that may have been my favourite part of the story, slowly discovering this political and social system along with Miles.

31. How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, Alexander Chee

I did like most of the essays, but some of them were a bit too similar to each other to really stand out in my mind. In general, I liked the essays that weren't direct writing advice better. The exception to that was "On becoming an American writer". That essay was very powerful, even to me as a European. Chee can really write, and he knows just which words to choose to punch me in the emotional gut. But then he also reintroduces hope and purpose and the beauty of art and culture, and builds the reader back up.
My favourite essay, though, was "The Rosary". It is just the sort of advice for gardening (both of roses and of the soul) that I need to read right now. It makes me long for spring, and roll up my sleeves to do the work to make sure that spring will come, and be successful and full of nurturing and growing for both my plants and myself.

Mar 29, 7:59am

32. Die Tangospielerin, Carolina de Robertis

What a wonderful book. I loved all the vivid, engrossing descriptions of the tango. I could really feel Dante's passion for music pouring off the page. All the sensory descriptions were so real, as if I could hear and smell and feel the streets of Buenos Aires.
Dante is an incredible protagonist with such a vivid interiority. I loved how much nuance there was to all the characters and the setting Leda and then Dante found herself in. Everyone had their own story to tell, and they got to do that. Santiago was a particular favourite of mine. Rosa was incredible as well. Mostly, this book made me want to go out and dance the tango!

Modificato: Apr 3, 4:56pm

33. Afropean, Johny Pitts

This is a fascinating book. I learned a lot from it. Pitts intersperses his travels through Europe and his conversations with its Black inhabitants with bits of local and world history and weaves that into a nuanced whole. I like the style of the book, which lets so many people speak for themselves when Pitts quotes their own words about their lived experiences. The chapters about Berlin, my hometown, were very interesting to me. Seeing which parts of the city as experienced and described by Pitts I recognised and which I didn't was illuminating. My favourite chapters were perhaps the ones about Moscow, simply because I knew the least about that history.

34. What Abigail did that Summer, Ben Aaronovitch

I love Abigail and I loved this novella, even though it took a while to get going. The Foxes are a delight as always, and it was great to get a look into their organisational structure and meet more of them. Indigo was wonderful, and so was Sugar Niner. The mystery was interesting, and it was great to see our protagonist have to solve it independently of the police for a change...
I'm also very intrigued by Simon's Mum and Abigail's future adventures with her.

Apr 3, 5:07pm

35. Lady Knight, Tamora Pierce

2021 reread: What I love so much about this are the logictics, funnily enough. Kel having to think about latrine placement and plowing the fields as she commands Haven makes it so much more real. And all the team-work in this book is phenomenal. Kel is wonderful, but so are Tobe and Dom and Neal and everyone at Haven.

36. Ethan of Athos, Lois McMaster Bujold

This was a bit of a weird one, but the mystery was good. Athos is a very strange society. I kind of wish we had seen a little more of it before Ethan had to leave, or found out more after he reaches Kline Station and experiences culture shock. Athos' sexism and their positioning as a queer planet interacted in strange ways.
It was great to see Elli Quinn again, and I hope she shows up more often in the series.

37. Lia: Die Prophezeiung der Königin, Tamora Pierce

In retrospect, there are some really uncomfortable scenes here concerning enslavement, brownface and justification of slavers as "some of the good ones". Nevertheless, it's a very enjoyable book full of adventures and really cool characters. I love Aly and the revolutionaries she meets in the Balitang household. Perhaps Aly isn't a particularly good spy yet, but she is learning quickly. I am looking forward to seeing what will happen when they all go back to Rajmuat.

Apr 8, 8:17am

38. Silver in the Wood, Emily Tesh

This book is short, but packs so much into its few pages. I really loved the descriptions of the Greenhollow wood and the way it intertwines with Tobias. The backstory was really cool, and the way it was so slowly and casually revealed to the reader worked very well. I'd love to read more about the wood's history, and about Tobias' further adventures.

Apr 12, 8:03am

39. Tintenherz, Cornelia Funke

This is the first time I read this boko in years, and it was wonderful to rediscover why I loved it so much as a child. I love the world of the book, the importance of words and stories and the connection between people when reading aloud. I also love the characters, especially Staubfinger and Elinor and Fenoglio. And Gwin, of course. This was a lovely trip down memory lane and a genuinely great read.

40. Forensics, Val McDermid

This book is full of interesting information, presented in an easy-to-understand way for laypeople. McDermid uses examples from real cases to demonstrate the used and possible misuses of different forensic techniques. There was a lot of stuff here I hadn't known before, with interesting tidbits from the history of forensics and stories of how new branches of forensics are developed today. I found the chapter on forensic anthropology especially interesting.

41. Ayesha at Last, Uzma Jalaluddin

I enjoyed this book and especially these characters. It was interesting to see Pride and Prejudice in such a different way and explore different facets of the story in the modern setting. I did think that things moved too slowly in the beginning and then too quickly towards the end, with lots of hand-waving about the solution to all the problems. Not my favourite reinterpretation of Mr Wickham, but I did really like Ayesha, Khalid and Clara.

Apr 18, 4:07pm

42. Whispers Underground, Ben Aaronovitch

Man, I love this book. This is such a good mystery and such a cool way to expand the demi-monde and bring in more complications to the intersection between magic and mundane policing. I love how much we get to see of the core characters, and how apprenticeship is becoming more formalised now that Lesley has joined up. I had a great time reading this.

43. Pachinko, Min Jin Lee

I really enjoyed this family epic. There are so many characters, but they are all so well developed and often their lives go in quite different directions than I had expected. This book covers a timespan of 80 years, from 1910 to 1989. Things change dramatically, global history has a huge impact, and yet the book mostly stays focused on one family and their difficulties, triumphs, and survival through it all. The book kept me gripped, even as the first half is told in a rather slow, meditative way. The narrative speeds up along with the world at large, and by the 80s, with investment banking and time abroad for the characters, it hurtles along. I certainly recommend this book.

44. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle, narrated by Peter Silverleaf

Some of these stories are great, some not so much. I have to say that I like the ones where Holmes and Watson investigate the case together much better than the ones where Holmes tells Watson about his old cases afterwards. Silver Blaze is a particular favourite.

Apr 20, 12:24pm

45. Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

I enjoyed this book more than I was expecting to, but was disappointed by the ending. Anne was lovely as a protagonist, with her fire and openness to new relationships and new experiences. But by the end of the book, time rushed by without being explored, without character development the reader could follow along with. I liked Marilla and Matthew and the rest of Avonlea, but I won't be continuing with the series.

46. Freshwater, Akwaeke Emezi

This book was absolutely new to me, and unlike anything I've read before. It is undeniably powerful in its depictions of the self, and all the hurt humans do to one another and to themselves.
The different perspectives in this book were fascinating, especially the differences between the "We" and the singular narrators. I'm not sure I "got" everything the author was saying, but I'm sure I'll be thinking about Ada and her alters for a long time to come.

Apr 24, 9:44am

>47 BerlinBibliophile: I bought Freshwater as soon as it was available here but haven't read it yet, Miriam. You have helped me bump it up the pile more than a little.

Have a lovely weekend.

Apr 29, 4:57am

>48 PaulCranswick: I hope you'll like it! It was a difficult but satisfying read for me. Have a good weekend, Paul!

47. Slow Horses, Mick Herron

This book took a while to get going, but I ended up enjoying it. None of the people who run the intelligence services in this book seem at all smart though...
Still, I liked the misfit slow horses and their plodding ways. I'm excited to find out what they'll do now that they've been shaken from their daily grind and forced to step up.

48. How to get filthy rich in rising Asia, Mohsin Hamid

The narrative style of this book drew me in immediately and didn't let me go until it was over. I loved the second person narration (surprisingly for me) and the snarky, irreverent tone of the self-help sections. The way Hamid gives the reader such a full picture of people, relationships or situations with so few words is amazing. I liked reading about the protagonist, but loved everything we got to know about the pretty girl. There are no names or places in this story, but everything is so specific and clearly drawn that after the first moment of noticing that nobody was given a name, I didn't really notice anymore. The ending is lovely, and especially the reflections on how books are a collaboration between their authors and readers, different every time.

49. Charlotte, Helen Moffett

I absolutely loved this book and read it in one sitting. Charlotte Collins (née Lucas) was always one of my favourite characters in Pride and Prejudice, so it's great to see her choices and interiority explored in greater depth here. Her story after the events of Pride and Prejudice is drawn with a fine pen here, and it was wonderful to see her find greater happiness than she found in the book. I loved the scenes of her setting up her household in Hunsford, and then the lovely time in Pemberley, when she reunites with her childhood friend Elizabeth. The book never glosses over how hurtful Elizabeth's reaction to Charlotte's marriage was, but shows how they can put that behind them with effort on both sides, and become stronger friends than ever. There are so many continuations of Pride and Prejudice, and this is one of my favourites.

Maggio 4, 5:27pm

50. Double Agent, Tom Bradby

This book is very bad. I should have put it down when the protagonist equates autism and rudeness on the first page, and I regret that I didn't. None of the characters are developed beyond one note, whether that's "annoying", "has affairs" or "depressed". The research is also very bad. One scene set in Berlinhas guns drawn and a brawl happen 20 metres from Angela Merkel's front door, and the author doesn't seem to realise this, or realise that there is always a police presence there.
And the ending was disappointing on every level. Everyone behaves as stupidly as possible, and in the end nothing much has changed from the beginning of the book, other than the fact that the protagonist has an addiction to sleeping pills now. Thoroughly disappointing.

51. Magic for Nothing, Seanan McGuire

I loved the book. Antimony is a big change from her siblings as a narrator, and it was fascinating to see them through her eyes. The plot was very exciting and the ending left me wanting to read the next book in the series immediately. I loved that we got mice with more individuality in this book, and that Mindy has found cousins across the sea to share their rituals with. I really liked Sam, and the carnival setting. I hope we'll see these characters again.

Maggio 10, 5:05am

52. Trickster's Queen, Tamora Pierce

This book has its problematic moments, but it is a big improvement over the first book in the duology. Aly has finally come into her own and has her spy networks up and running, and it is great to see her doing the kind of work she has always longed to do. Dove is amazing, and it's wonderful to see her take charge and refuse to be a figurehead. Honestly, there is so much competence on show here, it's very satisfying. Nawat is another wonderful aspect of the book. He finally gets the chance to explore his own identity apart from Aly, and it makes their relationship all the stronger.

53. The Widows of Malabar Hill, Sujata Massey

I absolutely loved this book. The characters are wonderful, the style immersive and with just the right amount of detail. Perveen is a wonderful protagonist, both in the current mystery she is investigating, and in the backstory we learn of in flashback chapters. The mystery itself is very well constructed and always kept my attention, even as a lot of other things were happening in Perveen's life. The three widows are all great characters, individualised with the most telling little details. I read this book in only one day, and I will definitely read the sequel as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Maggio 19, 5:44am

54. A Natural History of Dragons, Marie Brennan

I enjoyed this book, but I wish we had had more depth to the scientific work of the characters. The protagonist was mostly excluded from that, but I wish we'd heard more about it or at least found out some of the results. Still, I liked the worldbuilding and the protagonist and I'd like to read more about her. Perhaps the next book has fewer evil boyars and more natural history.

55. A Desolation Called Peace, Arkady Martine

I really, really loved the book. It was wonderful to see Mahit and Three Seagrass again, and for them to have to opportunity to work through some of their issues. I also, surprisingly to me, enjoyed the sections with Eight Antidote very much. It was great to see him discover so much stuff for himself and take a more active role in his own life.
I'm always amazed and impressed at the complicated political tangles in these books. Space politics is my favourite thing when done well, as this most certainly is. One of my favourite books I've read this year.

56. The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden

I really enjoyed the casual way the magical world intersects with normal village life in this book. Vasya was a great protagonist, and I'll definitely want to read more about her. I especially liked all her interactions with the rusalka and the domovoi, the way she treated them as people just like her family and her village. The big fight at the end was a little bit confusing, but still ended with a good and meaningful resolution to the conflict. I'll definitely read about Vasya and Solovey's further adventures!

Maggio 19, 5:24pm

57. The Left-handed Booksellers of London, Garth Nix

I wish the book had gone into the worldbuilding a little more, because I really loved what I did get from that. I really liked Susan and Merlin and Vivien and their whole dynamic. There were so many fun scenes of bickering and friendship. I really hope the author returns to this setting, because I'd love to find out more about the St. Jaques and how they'll cope in the world after the events of this book, and it would be great to see Susan come into her power properly.

Maggio 19, 6:03pm

Stumbled on your thread and dropping off a star! Looks like we have a lot of the same comfort reads (Take a Thief and Tamora Pierce are big for me) and you're reading a ton of stuff I want to get to soon -- Cemetery Boys, Magic for Liars, Felix Ever After, Children of Blood and Bone, Parable of the the Sower, Priory of the Orange Tree, Pachinko, Freshwater, A Natural History of Dragons, The Bear and the Nightingale, and The Left-handed Booksellers of London are all high on my to-read list. Happy reading and looking forward to what you read next!

Maggio 27, 7:17am

>54 curioussquared: looks like we have a lot of books in common! I'll definitely check out what you read as well :)

58. Dress in the Age of Jane Austen: Regency Fashion, Hilary Davidson

This book was super informative and presented so beautifully. There are plenty of wonderful illustrations to underline the author's points, and by moving out from the body to the wider world Davidsonis able to cover all sorts of nuances of dress without overwhelming the reader with new terminology. I'll definitely pay more attention to dress in Austen's novels after reading this!

59. The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Emily M. Danforth

This book is great. I absolutely love the writing. Every scene felt so vivid, as if I could feel the sun on my legs and be tickled by the grass in the fields. Cameron's world is built up so well, and every person in it feels real, like you could go out into the world and meet them on your travels.
The topic, especially in the latter half, is depressing, but the book never devolves into misery porn. There is fun to be found in all sorts of situations, even the ones that seem most hopeless. I loved Jamie, Jane Fonda, and Adam Red Eagle.
The ending was perfect to my mind, and captured the endless possibility contained into the transition to adulthood. I enjoyed every page of this book and I could discuss it forever.

Giu 2, 8:52am

60. The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller

I rather liked the book, but was a bit disappointed in the ending. Patroclus and Achilles relationship was wonderfully written, but the end was simply disappointing and disconnected. Miller glosses over a lot of the more horrifying aspects of the myths, especially when it comes to the women the Greeks enslave. But her character writing in the smaller, more personal moments is phenomenal.

Modificato: Giu 22, 8:20am

61. Battle Ground, Jim Butcher

I was very disappointed in this book. It wasn't the long-awaited resolution I was hoping for. Instead, the book reads like a video game where Harry Dresden runs from boss battle to boss battle with very little plot in between. The final battle between good and evil starts at the half-way point of the book and is an endless repetition of both sides bringing in reinforcements again, and again, and again, always waiting their turn to make sure everyone gets a moment of "they're so badass, they're going to turn the tide of the battle" before the next reinforcements come in and get their own moment. The book as a whole was very repetitive, with descriptions of characters often reused word for word three or four times in the book.
And finally, the sexism of the previous books is here in full force. Harry daydreams about raping all his female acquaintances a little less than in previous books, but it's more than made up for in graphic descriptions of sexual violence against women. Yikes. I won't be reading any more books in this series.

62. Percy Jackson: Diebe im Olymp, Rick Riordan

This time I particularly appreciated how goddamn funny this book is in every sentence. Of course I always remember Percy's quips and sarcasm, but there are so many funny background incidents. Percy running an illegal sweets smuggling ring from his boarding school dorm room...

Giu 6, 6:47am

>56 BerlinBibliophile: I think I agree with your take on the Miller book. Parts of it were excellent and compelling but she did miss too much out at the same time.

Giu 10, 4:45pm

63. The House in the Cerulean Sea, T.J. Klune

I really liked the book, but not as much as I was expecting to. I loved the island and the children. But the plot about prejudice seemed a bit shallow and too easily resolved to me. Helen has one conversation with Talia and suddenly she's cured of bigotry? That just wasn't believable to me. Also, I wish the romance had gotten more development. It seemed to happen entirely in unspoken glances and conversations while the children were listening. I thought it was cute, but I wish they had had more than just the one conversation about philosophy. I still liked it though! It has a very chill vibe and I liked the emphasis on chosen families. I just wish there had been some more exploration of this world and its consequences.

64. The Ghosts of Eden Park, Karen Abbott

A very interesting book that evokes a very interesting time in American history. I liked that the author focused on prohibition, bootlegging, a marital breakdown and the trial that followed equally. None of the people described in this book seem like good people or even ones I'd like to talk to over a cup of coffee, but their extreme exploits certainly made for compelling reading. Sometimes the book was a bit repetitive though.

Giu 22, 8:52am

65. Tempests and Slaughter, Tamora Pierce

Arram is awesome and it's particularly cool to see his magic education. It's so different from Tortall and other books with magic universities, and I greatly enjoyed seeing all the very different types of magic that he learns. It's also wonderful to see teachers who are so invested in making sure that all their students have the opportunities to excel. And finally, I simply love Musenda!

66. The Austen Girls, Lucy Worsley

This is a nice middle grade fiction about Jane Austen's nieces. The narrative style, which is pretty light and fun, is occasionally at odds with rather dark topics, such as young girls being forced to marry men old enough to be their fathers if they don't want to starve. Still, Fanny is a compelling protagonist and I liked her relationship with "Aunt Jane". Their foray into mystery-solving was unexpected but very welcome!

67. Das Feuerdrama von Cottbus. Wolfgang Swat

This book is a collection of true crime cases from the area around Cottbus. In the short introduction, the author says that he wants to shed light on an interesting moment in criminal and judicial history, when East and West Germany reunited and there was a lot of chaos in the courts. That sounds like a very interesting topic, but it's not what this book is about at all. These are bare-bones descriptions of cases, but with hardly any context and certainly no contemplations of the historical moment they happened in. I was disappointed, I had expected better.

68. The Bellamy Trial, Frances Noyes Hart

This was a fun mystery. It was cool to see all those witnesses on the stand and try to parse the truth from their accounts. I certainly didn't get the truth before the story revealed it, but I had a good time trying to guess and weighing the different witnesses. The commentary from the reporters was good, though I wish it hadn't been quite so patronizing. Oh well, that's what I get for reading historical books with historical attitudes. Still, it wasn't too bad in that regard either. I had a fun time.

Giu 22, 5:04pm

69. The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective, Susannah Stapleton

What a fascinating book! The author starts out looking for a lady detective in the golden age of crime, and finds much more than she bargained for. Maud West was a female detective, but she was hard to pin down, with her multiple names and talent for self-advertisement in the press. Stories of detective adventures starring herself written by Maud West are interspersed with the chapters, and they are very fun, if completely unbelievable. I enjoyed reading about all the sleuthing in archives Susannah Stapleton did in her quest to find the real Maud West, and I really appreciate the enigmatic and contradictory figure she ends up with.

Lug 1, 8:20am

70. Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo

2021 reread: I think a bit of nostalgia made me like the book more this time. Yes, it's still mostly set-up, but I do like the characters here. Alina's narration is particularly funny and I like her irreverence for her circumstances, even as others are trying to deify her. I also like her ruthlessness. I think it's pretty rare in a YA protagonist, but sometimes a little ruthlessness is the way to go. Genya is still one of my favourites.

71. Broken Stars, ed. Ken Liu

As with all short story collections, I liked some of the stories much more than others. My favourite story was "What Has Passed Shall in Kinder Light Appear" by Baoshu, which combines a great story about the intertwined lives of childhood friends with a history of China in which historical events happen backwards from our own timeline.
A lot of the other stories are harder to remember because there are few characters to care about: it's more about the concept than the characters. Still, the concepts are usually interesting. The overall "feeling" of the stories is very different from the Western sci-fi I've read. It still definitely reads like sci-fi, but a lot of the hall-marks I usually expect, like a space setting or simply being set in the future, weren't present. I'd like to read more Chinese sci-fi to see if that's a general trend or just in this collection.

72. Away With the Fairies, Kerry Greenwood

This is the first book in the series I've read. It's book 11, but still easy to get into. I like the characters, but the plot meanders a bit too much for my liking. The scenes at Women's Choice are all lovely, but Phryne doesn't exactly do a lot of investigating.
The scenes with Lin Chung and the pirates are also weird. That plot makes comparatively little sense, and seems designed only to emphasize how "exotic" Phryne is, and to force her to get naked in public. Seems weirdly fetishistic towards all sides.

73. A Thousand Ships, Natalie Haynes

This was a stunning book. It tells the story of the Trojan War through the voices of the women who affected the war and were affected by it. It's tragic, but beautiful in how much Haynes is able to bring these women to life in the pages of the book. I especially liked Penelope's letters to Odysseus, their tone and the increasing despair hidden under a funny engagement with the songs the bards sing abuot his adventures. Especially her final prayer to Athene was amazing: the conflicting feelings of relief and disappointment and resentment and love, all while wondering who exactly has come back to her. This book was amazing and I can't wait to read it again.

74. Murder in Montparnasse, Kerry Greenwood

I liked this book better than the one before. It was great to see more of Bert and Cec, and to see Inspector Robinson and Hugh also do some investigating of their own. Jane and Ruth were great. Investigating is becoming a family business!

Lug 1, 10:43am

75. Fugitive Telemetry, Martha Wells

I had a lovely time with Murderbot, once again. This one is a murder mystery set on Preservation Station and so it was great to see all my favourites again. Murderbot is grumpy about having to work with Station Security, but that's pretty much its default state. I wuold have thought I'd get tired of this series at some point, but I absolutely haven't. Each new book is a delight, and so is this one.

I can't believe I'm at 75 books already! We're precisely halfway through the year. I think this is the earliest I've ever gotten to 75. Well, here's to another 75 excellent books!

Lug 1, 12:05pm

>63 BerlinBibliophile: Congrats on 75 and a great read for the milestone! I love Murderbot so much. They hold up on every reread, too.

Lug 1, 2:51pm


Lug 2, 10:54am

>63 BerlinBibliophile: Congratulations on reaching 75, Miriam!

Lug 2, 4:13pm

76. Princess Floralinda and the Fourty-Flight Tower, Tamsyn Muir

I loved Floralinda and Cobweb and the entire strange concept of the book. It was cool to see so much believable character development in such a short space, and the different monsters in the tower are so creative. I also really liked the ending.

>65 drneutron: >66 FAMeulstee: thank you both!
>64 curioussquared: yes! Murderbot is one of my absolute favourite series, and one of the few where I can just reread one of the middle books whenever I feel like it.

Lug 6, 8:44am

77. The Castlemaine Murders, Kerry Greenwood

I enjoyed this book. It was cool to see all those connections with the past emerge and influence the present. I wish there had been more of Dot and Inspector Robinson though!

78. Siege and Storm, Leigh Bardugo

I am incredibly frustrated with Mal in this book. I think I liked it better than I did when I first read it. I think the tension builds well and all the political maneuvering involving Nikolai was much more interesting to me this time around. I'm looking forward to continuing with my reread.

Lug 18, 4:38pm

79. Queen of the Flowers, Kerry Greenwood

It was another fun book, though I was dismayed by how long Phryne waits after her daughter is kidnapped to even start looking for her.

80. The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh, Molly Greeley

This book was absolutely great. I wish the end of the book had been longer, and Anne's struggle with withdrawal explored more, but overall this was a wonderful read. Anne has such a strong interiority and her supporting cast of both original charcters and ones from "Pride and Prejudice" are wonderfully drawn. It was interesting to see Lizzie and Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam, and especially Lady Catherine, from such a different perspective. Anne isn't treated that well by them in "Pride and Prejudice", so she has a much dimmer view of them that the reader, and yet they were true to the charcters in the original book.
The way Anne blossoms in London was so lovely to read and felt very real. Her anxieties about money, about being boring, about disobeying her mother, all felt very relatable and written so well. Her having to learn to trust that people are actually interested in her and that she has things to say was great.
So yeah, there were one or two things I quibbled with, but overwhelmingly I really loved the book and only wished that there was more of it.

81. Girls of Riyadh, Rajaa Alsanea

I didn't like the writing style or the characters much, but the plot kept me engaged throughout. This book reads like Gossip Girl: Riyadh, and there's just as much drama and just as many love interests as that implies. I liked the frame story of the email introductions more than the chapters themselves.

82. Murder in the Dark, Kerry Greenwood

This entry into the series honestly wasn't great. The mystery-solving takes a backseat to drugs and orgies and the plot meanders along. I hope the other books in the series get better again.

Lug 21, 9:43am

83. Whose Names are Unknown, Sanora Babb

The first few chapters were a little slow, but after that the story really sucked me in. I love that Babb does not focus on only one individual or family, but on whole communities. There are so many aspects of the story that feel very relatable even today, in 2021, which were quite surprising to me.
I felt so immersed in the Dunnes' and the Starwoods' lives, as if they could step right out of the pages to talk to me about their lives. I also very much appreciated the focus Babb places on the systems that exacerbate all the problems the characters face throughout the book, from the dustbowl to the terrible conditions in the refugee camps. We could still learn something today from the message of solidarity that the last few chapters espouse.

Lug 22, 5:28am

84. The Black Count, Tom Reiss

This is a fantastic biography of a fascinating person. General Alexandre Dumas' life is stranger than the fiction for which it served his son as inspiration. The book is well-written and always engaging, and Reiss adds a lot of context of the French revolution and the rights people of colour did and then did not have at the time. A big recommendation for anyone interested in the man who inspired the Count of Monte Cristo.

Lug 22, 7:19am

85. Tricks for Free, Seanan McGuire

I absolutely loved this book. Antimony is awesome, and so is her supporting cast. I loved the theme park setting, there was so much fun weirdness to explore. The plot was great, with a very satisfying conclusion. I can't wait for Annie's further adventures!

Lug 22, 5:46pm

86. Death by Water, Kerry Greenwood

Are these books getting worse, or have I just gotten sick of them? The plot isn't that strong in this one, and most of the charming cast is missing. The portrayal of the Maori seems dubious. And it doesn't matter how often the words "incomparable" or "divine" are thrown around in reference to Phryne when she solves the mystery by simply hanging around until she quite literally stumbles on the solution.