January 2019 archive

Jan 29 2019

The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin

The sordid tale of King Henry VIII and his six wives is probably the one most well-known to those with even only a passing interest in English history. As an Anglophile myself, I grew up reading Antonia Fraser’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII alongside other titles more obscure on the topic, and heartily enjoyed …

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Jan 28 2019

The Smoke by Simon Ings

I read a lot of novels and it is perishing rare for me to feel genuinely intimidated by the intellect of an author but here we are! Simon Ings’ terrifying intelligence is palpable throughout the pages of The Smoke, with my only quibble being why London is called such, as the text doesn’t seem to …

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Jan 26 2019

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

You know how sometimes you think you’ve read a literary classic but it’s only that (you think) you know the story from sheer media saturation? I thought I’d read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein decades ago, at the very least as an Illustrated Classic, but there were very many scenes completely unfamiliar to me, particularly where Adam …

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Jan 24 2019

The Dark Descent Of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

It’s interesting how quickly one’s sympathy for a young girl raised to cosset a psychopath plummets as she goes from teaching him social skills to actively enabling his monstrous tendencies. And in this political climate, it’s hard to feel much sympathy for a woman who knows that her man is a shit but feels she …

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Jan 19 2019

Hero at the Fall (Rebel of the Sands #3) by Alwyn Hamilton

If you’d told me after I read Rebel Of The Sands that this series would go on to be one of the best fantasy series I’ve ever enjoyed, I would probably have laughed in your face. The first book was pretty rough in terms of storytelling but had so much promise. The second book made …

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Jan 16 2019

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix (Rise of the Empress #2) by Julie C. Dao

Wow, that was fucking terrible. I mean, I’d been warned that this book would not be as brilliant as its predecessor Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns, a book so good that I put it in my Top 10 of 2018, but a lot of the (valid) criticism is that the main character, Jade, is extremely …

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Jan 14 2019

Authority (Southern Reach #2) by Jeff VanderMeer

Whereas the first book in the Southern Reach trilogy, the darkly beautiful Annihilation stands perfectly well on its own, Authority requires both a lead-in and a follow-up. It’s a creepy ass book about, well, part of the problem is that it’s not really about anything that makes sense independent of Books 1 and 3. Essentially, …

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Jan 10 2019

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

Stories of Your Life and Others left me cold, which surprised me for two reasons: first, because he has a reputation as an excellent writer, few stories but nearly every one a contender for major awards and often enough a winner; second, because I had enjoyed The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate so much. (That …

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Jan 08 2019

White Stag (Permafrost #1) by Kara Barbieri

There are a few things that would have turned this book from passably entertaining YA fantasy to a really terrific read, and I’m hoping that the fact that there are only a few things bodes well for the future career of Kara Barbieri. First and foremost is the lack of rigor, whether it be in …

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Jan 05 2019

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

I absolutely adored Marisha Pessl’s debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, and was one of many fans disappointed and confused by her follow-up, Night Film (tho the multimedia aspect of that novel was really, really nice.) So I put her third novel, Neverworld Wake, on my to-read pile but didn’t feel any burning need …

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