Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It’s all about books, lists and sharing the love we have of both with our bookish friends. We’ve got a freebie this week, so I’m looking back at books I’ve read but not reviewed this year…
I’m currently reading my 65th book of the year, but I’ve only reviewed half of them. Because reasons. Mostly to do with time and work and tiredness, but also because – especially when those particular reasons are already in play – I struggle to summon the energy to write nuanced critical reviews, so I’ve tended to put them off (unless they were ARCs). First though,
…and then there’s the books I didn’t review because I wanted to give them the consideration they deserve to balance my thoughts. Somehow, I doubt I can achieve critical nuance in 3 sentences rather than 1000 words, but I’ll try to distil my reactions.
Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi
…this much-lauded novel mostly reminded me there’s a reason I don’t read YA very often. I’m not the target market, and it rarely delivers what I’m looking for (nor should it). Consequently, I wanted to like this far more than I could: if it hadn’t been for the African setting, I’d have quit within a couple of chapters (and in retrospect, I rather wish I had).
Adrift on the Sea of Rains – Ian Sales
Adrift is the word: our narrator is almost entirely unmoored, going stir crazy on the Moon after his command is cut off by nuclear war. I came for the awesome premise, it lost me with its dry, repetitive prose and flat characters. And yet… it’s both provocative and evocative and ultimately I find myself tempted to try the sequels because damn, it’s a great premise.
The Tea Master and the Detective – Aliette de Bodard
I’ve read this novella twice this year, and I still haven’t reviewed it. I liked it a good deal better second time around – it has the restrained elegance of character and dialogue that I consider de Bodard’s signature – but I still struggle with something unavoidable: I’d rather read pure Xuya than a Sherlock Holmes retelling. Awkward.
The Freeze-Frame Revolution – Peter Watts
Welcome to a revolution in geological time, where the oppressor controls the cryotubes and the revolutionaries are rarely on deck. Intriguing, but Watts is more interested in science than me, and less interested in characters and feelings. Ultimately, I was more engaged by the story he chose not to tell: what happened next (although I’m not sure I want to read his telling of it).
Penric’s Demon – Lois McMaster Bujold
I’m coming to think that if a story can be described as ‘cosy’ it’s may not be for me (unless it’s Paul Cornell’s Witches of Lychford, which I consider cosy, but is dark enough that I suspect the word doesn’t mean what I think it means). Penric is an absolute sweetheart and this novella of how he accidentally inherited a demonic possessor is delightful (mostly for how considerate he is of his new resident) – but it didn’t leave me wanting more.
Ragged Alice – Gareth L Powell
Ragged Alice was the opposite: a novella that left me wanting much more – specifically, wishing it were a novel and had a prequel. Developments piled in thick and fast after some excellent establishing scenes and lovely character work, making me wish it had more room to breathe. Still, I’d love to read more about the cases of DCI Holly Craig (and seriously, what happened in London?)
So much for mixed feelings and failing at nuance. Let’s look at the books I really liked, but was unable to make time to review whilst I still remembered enough detail to do them justice…
Empire of Sand – Tasha Suri
2019 may be the first time a contender for my Reads of the Year is a book I haven’t reviewed yet. A young woman sacrifices herself to protect her family and learns to compel the Gods themselves. Empire of Sand is a gloriously non-Western fantasy, an unusual romance, and a deeply satisfying read.
Lies Sleeping – Ben Aaronovitch
A PC Grant novel is a shoe-in for an entertaining diversion, and Lies Sleeping was no exception. The past has come back to haunt everyone as Aaronovitch brings the Faceless Man megaplot to a thrilling finale, but if I’m honest I think almost everything I remember about it actually happened in The Hanging Tree. Oops? I better reread this before I tackle False Value…
The Haunting of Tram Car 015 – P Djeli Clark
There’s so much going on in this vividly imagined alternate timeline: a door to other planes, a magical steampunk cultural explosion, a rejection of all things colonial, and a social revolutions – with a sub plot about machine sentience and rights. Once again, Clark proves he’s a master of the novella, because you shouldn’t be able to fit this much in to something so short.
Hunger Makes the Wolf – Alex Wells
I still harbour hopes of mustering a review for this, which was chock-full of my favourite things. Welcome to the Wild West in space, where an outlaw fire witch with nifty dress sense (I’m a sucker for a girl in a waistcoat) must face down a dystopian corporation to help her adoptive sister fight for workers’ rights. Can I get a hell yeah? Hell yeah!
Are you on top of your reviews this year? Yes? Well done! No? Don’t sweat it! Share a max three line review of a book you’ve read in 2019…