Well, this is going well.
As you might (or might not) know, I signed up for the Goodreads reading challenge at the beginning of the year, pledging to read thirty-six books. You can read more about that in THIS post. We’re now in June, at the six-month mark, and so far I’ve read twenty-four books. Considering I’ve also been a full-time student and thus have read thousands of pages of exciting titles like Empires in world history: power and the politics of difference, or Agriculture in world history, I feel quite happy. Those twenty-two books are ones I’ve read after finishing all that required reading. Thank god for audio books.
I thought I’d talk a bit about a few of the books I’ve read.
The vast majority (eleven) of the books I’ve read are in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. I will continue my reviews of this series, (I’ve written more it HERE) so I won’t say too much about them.
As for the other big series I planned to read this year, The Wheel of Time Series, those of you who read my review of the third book, The Dragon Reborn will know I’ve given up on the series. If you’re interested in a more detailed reason why I summarize my feelings on the series by the end of the third review. You can find all my previous posts about The Wheel of Time Series HERE.
But, I have read more than Discworld or The Wheel of Time books these past months, so let’s talk a little about a few of them.
The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.
Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.
I’ll start with a warning. This is the first of what I believe is a planned trilogy. This book came out in 2015 and the release date of the next book is yet to be announced, but as the author has more than one series going my guess it’s still at least two years off.
This is a Steampunk(ish) type of book. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not good at science or mechanics, and not knowledgeable enough to know if the gadgets or science described is believable or authentic. I read steampunk because I like the Victorian era, and there are flying ships and fabulous clothes and men in tight pants drinking tea from dainty cups, not because I’m into the science. So, I’m not the right person to assess if this is an authentic Steampunk novel, all I can say is that I enjoyed it and I’ll read the sequel. Captain Grimm is a great character, the premise is interesting, and most importantly, there are talking cats. Talking, sarcastic, cats. Talking Cats! I don’t think I need to say any more than that.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
I wrote about this book, in THIS post, but I thought I’d mention it again. I’ve deliberately cut the book blurb short because I think it gives too much away. All I’ll say is that this is a great book. It’s deceptively simplistic, and just when you’re about to start rolling your eyes at the cliché, you’re expecting it does something you never saw coming. I highly recommend it.
Codename Villanelle & Villanelle: Hollowpoint by Luke Jennings
In an isolated remand center in the Ural Mountains, Oxana Vorontsova awaits trial for murder. One man with his throat slashed to the bone and two, shot in the face. Not quite the behavior you’d expect of a star linguistics student at one of Russia’s top universities. But as a string of unnerving incidents attests, the signs were always there.
Half a world away, Oxana’s potential has been noted. Recruited as an assassin on behalf of a secretive global power-elite, she is reborn as the beautiful, lethal Villanelle. The rewards of her new life are spectacular, but the risks are deadly. And when she’s tasked with the elimination of a senior Mafia boss, it’s clear that the job is going to have to be carried out at close quarters…
These two short stories (they’re approx. Forty-fifty pages long each) are the inspiration for the new and acclaimed BBC America show Killing Eve, if you haven’t, go watch it. Watch it now! Go! There are four short stories in total. Unfortunately, only these two are available in audiobook. What I like the most is that these are stories about great female characters, they’re great not because they’re “strong women” but because they’re psychotic, obsessive and complicated. Not as in “complicated women,” but complicated and believable individuals.
Mythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece by Stephen Fry
The Greek myths are the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney. You’ll fall in love with Zeus, marvel at the birth of Athena, wince at Cronus and Gaia’s revenge on Ouranos, weep with King Midas and hunt with the beautiful and ferocious Artemis.
I’ve always loved ancient mythology, so I was familiar with most of the myths retold in this book, but Stephen Fry tells these stories in a very engaging and entertaining way. I will say that probably 70% of my enjoyment came from listening to Stephen Fry read it. If you decide to give it a try, I highly recommend you listen to the audiobook because Stephen Fry’s narration is superb, so funny and engaging. It really is his story, and he should be the one telling it to you.
That’s about it. I’ve read a few more books but they’ve not been translated into English, so I’ll leave it here. But, so far so good, let’s hope I can keep up it the rest of the year.
How about you, how are your 2018 in books so far?