House of Shattered WingsI have thoroughly enjoyed Aliette de Bodard‘s scifi short stories and jumped at the thought of a sort of post-apocalyptic angel urban fantasy.

An alternate twentieth century Paris. The Fallen live amongst mankind, banished for crimes against Heaven. Stripped of their wings and their memories, each must rapidly come to terms with their new earthbound existence and find a home in one of the Houses – or die at the hands of humans who steal the magic from their body parts.

stationelevenOh my. I’d heard a lot of good things about Station Eleven, but I was still bowled over by the understated elegance and resonance of the text itself. It strikes me as one of those stories that underwhelms in synopsis (and in retrospect, the cover blurb is slightly misleading, as it tries to intimate action that never really takes place). So I’m going to say as little as possible other than read it.

unnamedmidwifeI picked this up in the wake of links highlighting award nominees beyond this year’s poisonous Hugo debate. Winner of this year’s Philip K Dick award, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife is a brutal apocalyptic novel set in a nearly-now. The world has been ravaged by a flu-like sickness that has spread like wildfire, killing 98% of infected men – and more women.

UK Cover - The Girl with all the gifts by M R CareyI’m a latecomer to this little gem, but I devoured it in 24 hours, so I clearly enjoyed it (although it didn’t make for easy dreams).

I had been tipped off to the central conceit before I started reading, but knew very little else – which is a great way to approach it, so for those you as yet unspoilt, I’ll try to keep this review spoiler-free.

Book cover: Annihilation by Jeff VandermeerI admit it. I bought this because the cover is SO DAMN PRETTY, and I make no apologies for it. It’s also mysterious, weird and several shades of interesting. Nobody can enter Area X unless the Southern Reach sends them in; expeditions are carefully controlled – and results aren’t published. The twelfth expedition has no idea what really awaits them…

As some of you are aware, I’ve been lucky enough to have some extended time off this year, which inevitably means that I’ve been reading like the dedicated bookworm that I am. I’m likely to read as many books by the end of June as I’ve read in an entire year (during a lean year, anyway), and I’ve loved every minute. It’s been a couple of months since I last captured what I’ve thought of this mountain of material, so I wanted to do another recap – although I have had the time to be much, much better about logging reviews and ratings on my LibraryThing, which is increasingly becoming my main platform for all book-related activity.

A quick flit through my first quarter of reading, before I forget the details. It’s been a book-heavy year, with lots of opportunities to get some quality reading time in during the Christmas break in Australia and my boy’s month-long absence in India (not to mention my time off in March). I’ve put this to good use and read like the bookworm I am, devouring 20 books to date – most of them fresh reads rather than old favourites.

I like to say that I don’t watch much tv. It’s true as far as it goes: I get very excited about my annual fix of Sherlock and Doctor Who (yes, I enjoy Moffat), but otherwise tend to watch the odd satirical news quiz and movies. And every now and again I indulge in some high production value US series on DVD, and wonder why it’s taken me so long.

I first stumbled across A Brief History of the Dead in 2007, but never got round to reading it. I was delighted when it was picked as the inaugural volume for the new work bookclub. I'm unashamedly going to use LJ to capture my thoughts and impressions of each bookclub book I read, to help manage the gap between me finishing it and the group getting together to discuss.

First things first: ABHotD is the tale of Laura, a scientist working for Coca-Cola, who is sent to Antarctica as part of a PR stunt. When a pandemic plague sweeps the world, she is protected by her position, but ignorant of current events. Her storyline is her fight for survival in (probably) the least hospitable place in the world, as she struggles across the ice cap in search of help that can never come.

The dead of the title are the twin storyline, living on (existing?) in a city for as long as they are remembered by the living. As the city empties due to plague (think about it), the survivors find new connections in the web of Laura's past.

I recently reread The Kraken Wakes, always my favourite John Wyndham book. Wyndham for me is something like comfort food, or cartoons: when I need a light, refreshing, familiar interlude I can always turn to one of his novels to tide me over to the next challenge. In this case, I had left the book I intended to read at the office, leaving me stranded over a weekend with nothing to read.

Oh, the horror.