This month I was hampered by some personal goings on, which had my mind flip-flopping so I haven't been able to get into any long books unless they were in more of a short story format. This batch were all under 400 pages except one although most were closer to 300. This grouping is something of a dash to fit in a few titles I wanted to read before the end of the year including new releases and some oldies that have been hanging around.
City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer - I've had VanderMeer's big book of Ambergris sitting around for years and it was also on my list of try to read from my shelf this year. Check. With all my New Weird reading this year it was high time I delved into VanderMeer's world of mushroom men and odd occurrences. Overall, this is a very, very strange book with not only content, but style as VanderMeer never sticks to one for long. Everything from a fairly straight forward lovelorn narrative to a history of the city with extensive footnotes and than pamphlet type chapters showcasing various aspects of the city of Ambergris. Highly recommended, but not for those who don't like a challenge.
Blue and Gold by K. J. Parker - Already reviewed. Highly recommended.
The House of Discarded Dreams by Ekaterina Sedia - Sedia's latest is her wildest book to date, which says something if you've delved into The Alchemy of Stone or The Secret History of Moscow. Review to come. Highly recommended.
Twisted Metal by Tony Ballantyne - I'm a sucker for robot characters, but few authors seem to want to tread upon the ground that Issac Asimov developed so well with I, Robot. Ballantyne's takes it up a level with the development of an entire planet solely populated with robots of various factions. The most interesting aspects was how each city/faction of robots differ in not only there body types, but also their personalities. The story is clunky in places as the points of view switch up, but once you get the patterns down everything coalesces. Recommended and I'm eager for the next volume Blood and Chrome.
Blameless by Gail Carriger - Changeless left off on such a big cliffhanger that I couldn't wait any longer for my Steampunk candy fix. This gave me some much needed laughs when I needed them and Carriger keeps surprising me as she broadened and fills-in the world. Recommended.
Autumn by David Moody - I was in a very fatalistic mood and what better to read in such a state than a novel where most of the world dies in the first few pages and some rise as zombies a few days later? Overall, the novel seemed like an overblown short story, but there are some good aspects as well with the way characters respond to the world. Shell shocked would be putting it lightly. Recommended with reservations.
The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard - Obviously it was the title that grabbed me here and the cover in the vein of The Shadow of the Wind didn't hurt either. "Imagine that some people have the power to affect your thoughts and feelings through reading—to seduce you with amazing stories, conjure up vividly imagined worlds, and manipulate you into thinking exactly what they want you to." This Thriller is placed in a bookstore following the murder of the main character's father. With the added psychic abilities related to books this is a book lovers wet dream for the first half. After that it was a real slog to finish it up as some parts just seemed thrown together and clichéd. It could have to do with the translation which is just on the side of okay. Not recommended unless the setting and abilities really set you off.
The Giver by Lois Lowry - This is a YA classic of a Dystopian future where everyone strives for Sameness. Definite shades of Brave New World, but only much grimmer involving infanticide and suicide. I can't really say much else without giving the story away as it is a very slim volume. Recommended.
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang - Hands down the best single author collection I have ever read. Go and buy it now. I'm not kidding in the least. Small Beer recently re-released it so it should be easy to track down. Chiang is the living master of the short form. Everything from the re-telling of the building of the tower of Babel to the inner mind of a man given super intelligence make this my I-can't-believe-I-haven't-read-this-before book of the year. Highly recommended.
The Greyfriar by Clay & Susan Griffith - This is first in the Vampire Empire series that is a ball of Pulp, Steampunk, and Alternative History goodness. Some people like to talk smack about vampires, but this is a novel that even a jaded reader will find plenty to like. The romance aspect seemed off to me, but otherwise it was a rollicking adventure. Highly recommended.
The Book of Joe by Jonathan Trooper - Tropper is one of those authors I keep going back to every time I need a fix of more realistic literature. Generally I feel very close to Tropper's characters even if they aren't the best people. He has a gift for creating uncomfortable situations yet permeating them with humor. The Book of Joe is his shakiest work that I've read so far, but it still more than kept me turning the pages. Recommended.
They Call Me Baba Booey by Gary Dell'Abate - I'm a longtime Howard Stern listener. He has gotten me through some very tough drives over the years and his Producer came out with this memoir. I was hoping for some inside details on the show, but what I got is probably better. Baba Booey shares his rough upbringing by his bi-polar mother. This book hit quite close to home for me and probably didn't help my disposition given family events later in the week. Nonetheless it was an entertaining peep into the mind of an average man who has been surrounded by some odd people most of his life.
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Mad Hatter's Reading Log Vol 1.
REVIEW | This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Trooper
REVIEW | Soulless by Gail Carriger
REVIEW | Purple and Black by K. J. Parker