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[books] but like a queen I don't know when I'll be slain
books on my head
coffeebased
So, yeah, Christmas is over. It was perfectly pleasant: mum and I went to my godmother's house on both the 24th and the 25th, and ate and ate and ate. We've managed to give almost everyone their presents and have fulfilled most of our social obligations, not to mention the fact that we've done enough laundry that the smell of fabric conditioner won't leave my nose. We've got a few days worth of quiet before the 31st, so we're going to take advantage of that and mostly hole up in the house. I've still got lab reports and journals piled up beside my bed and it's giving the room a lovely slovenly-academic-feel that my romantic heart appreciates, but I really must clean things up so that last term's papers don't mingle with next term's and cause myself unnecessary headaches and drama. I have to do it now as the last days of break'll be taken up by the HSPH admin beach trip thing, and I really won't have it in me to argue with past-me's bad choices by then.

Anyway, yeah, doing a quick post so that my year-end book round-up won't be so clogged up. In the three weeks since my last post, I've only read seven, not counting the Temeraire books, because I went and got sick for a few days (dehydration again) during finals/grade submission week (that was unpleasant), and then that led directly to the Christmas grind where I sacrificed my reading time to socialisation and capitalism. I don't know if I'll be able to read anything else before the year ends, but hey, I only meant to read a hundred books this year and here I am at a hundred and twenty-one. So we'll see what happens.

I'll see you all before the end of the year.

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Finished Reading:

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Abarat (Abarat #1) by Clive Barker is a book I've been meaning to read since university, but I'd only picked it up recently because a friend described it as a story where you could imagine Dream of the Endless walking around. And that description isn't off at all. It's definitely a novel for younger readers, in the best possible sense. This novel has an intense sense of self: there is a heavy investment in world-building and the plot foundation, and the characters are diverse to the point of distracting. The pacing is a bit slow considering the length of it, but Barker's obviously got his reasons. Will pick up the next books when I can.

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell was a Christmas present from Hakkai! :D I'd considered getting it for myself when it was released a month or so back, but I demurred because I've been feeling a bit umay with Gaiman and his storytelling. (The man has favourite themes and tropes. He really, really has them.) Sleeper is beautifully illustrated by Riddell, and Gaiman pulls off his favourite device (the retelling) in a fresh way that'll probably interest readers who share my problems with his more recent work. I shan't spoil it, but it's definitely worth acquiring your own copy, imho.

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The Three-Body Problem (Three Body #1) by Cixin Liu (translated by: Ken Liu) fucked me up badly. It's hard sci-fi, and it's blazingly brilliant. I found myself cursing several times while reading this book, out of sheer awe and amazement. I don't know how the rest of the trilogy will go, but if the first book is this devastatingly good, the second and third will probably kill me. I'm a bit worried about the second book because they'll be changing the translator, but I think I would read this series if it were only half-translated and printed on toilet paper. It is that good. It is a fucking revelation and a half.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki is magical realism dressed up in the trappings of theoretical physics. I read it directly after the TTBP, and provided a lovely contrast to its themes and structure. There are two POVs in this book and they're engaged in a kind of one-way correspondence. Usually I don't enjoy epistolary novels, but the voices of both characters were interesting and arresting enough to keep me engaged. I'm probably going to read all of Ozeki's work on the power of this novel alone. :))


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A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway wasn't my thing at all. I really wanted to like it, especially after I'd enjoyed A Moveable Feast so much, but I felt very little involvement with the story and its characters. Reading it made me miss Catch-22 a lot though (I know they're completely different books with different intentions behind them, but it just did, okay.) I've read my share of depressing books that made me question the point of doing things, but this one just really didn't move me at all, so I just felt frustrated because the theme was so obvious and I'll try to give his other books a shot, but yeah. I feel like an uncultured wretch though :))

Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson was messy. I'm used to Winterson writing novels that have multiple PoVs, and cut across time and space, and she can usually hold things together, but this one honestly felt incoherent. It also didn't feel finished. It was a bit disappointing, but it's the first disappointment I've had from Winterson, so I'll live, I guess.

The Emperor's Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #1) by Brian Staveley is ambitious as fuck. Kam was tweeting about it, and I was so curious about her reactions that I had to give it a go. I do not regret it at all! It gives us three wonderful PoV characters with unique voices, ambitions, and interests, a complex empire with a history and culture, and a whole pile of murder mysteries. There are some parts that are noticeably weak, but I enjoyed it over-all. Staveley spends majority of the novel setting up the three PoV characters and letting us get to know them and now I am thoroughly invested because they're so charming and engaging. Goddamn it. Next book's coming out next year, and I can't wait. Good high fantasy!!!

Re-reads

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Black Powder War, Empire of Ivory, Victory of Eagles, Crucible of Gold, Tongues of Serpents, and Blood of Tyrants (Temeraire #3-8)

Yeah, Kam and I meant to keep the re-read up until January, but somehow, we finished a few weeks early. I'd forgotten how readable these goddamn books are, and how the plot and pacing are irresistible. I'm really happy that we re-read it, but now I am genuinely worried because League of Dragons doesn't have a proper release date yet and reading books 1-8 in one go just made the waiting even more unbearable. Especially since Novik ended BoT in such a bad place. I don't know what I want from the last book other than having the main cast of characters STAY ALIVE, HEALTHY, AND HAPPY. I'm not even going to wish that they keep all their limbs because Granby's fucked that up. (Gosh, Granby. It's really not your fault. But. Yeah.) It's ridiculously good, unbearably painful, and goddamn clever. Ugh. I need the last book now, or an actual release date, at the very least.


Reading Next:
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Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi
Off to be the Wizard (Magic 2.0 #1) by Scott Meyer

Next 20 Reads:

1. Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
2. Fortune's Pawn (Paradox #1) by Rachel Bach
3. The Witch Queen (Fern Capel #3) by Jan Siegl
4. Sous Chef by Michael Gibney
5. Dancer by Colum McCann
6. The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
7. The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
8. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
9. Milk: the Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages by Anne Mendelson
10. Red Shirts by John Scalzi
11. An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything by Col. Chris Hadfield
12. Waking the Merrow by Heather Rigney
13. A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
14. Fulgrim (Horus Heresy #5) by Graham McNeill
15. The Master & Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
16. Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
17. Dawn (Xenogenesis #1) by Octavia Butler
18. Gardens of the Moon (The Malazan Book of the Fallen #1) by Steven Erikson
19. Diaspora by Greg Egan
20. Abarat: Days of Magic Nights of War (Abarat #2) by Clive Barker

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