- cjwatson gave me Meetings with remarkable manuscripts by Christopher de Hamel, because apparently my boyfriend pays attention to what sorts of things make me happy.
- rmc28 gave me Rachel Manija Brown's (rachelmanija) memoir All the fishes come home to roost, plus Island below the star by James Rumford, a really gorgeous children's book about the discovery of Hawaii (since we've both been excited about Moana lately).
- ghoti gave me Katy by Jacqueline Wilson, which is contemporary AU fixit fic for What Katy Did. I am unbelievably excited that this book exists!
- ghoti also managed to find me Happy Hanukkah, Curious George by Emily Flaschner Meyer. Judith did an excellent job of reading the verses aloud to me on the first night of the festival – turns out that The Man with the Yellow Hat is Jewish.
- I usually end up defaulting to books as Christmas presents, but this time I tried to be a bit more creative. I did get The Usborne Creative Writing Book by Louie Stowell for Judith, because I was impressed at how broad a scope it has, it's not just about how to write novel-like fiction stories, but includes journalism and blogging and script writing and is generally up to the high standard I remember from Usborne books when I was a kid.
- I bought SPQR by Mary Beard for fivemack, but fortunately-unfortunately he's already read it, so I may have purloined the copy for myself.
- I also bought a copy of one of my favourite books for rushthatspeaks, for ghoti's bookswap (which she fixed to be a straight exchange instead of a pyramid scheme.) Exactly which one I picked remains a secret until it arrives :-)
Recently read: The invisible library by Genevieve Cogman. (c) Genevieve Cogman 2015, Pub Tor 2015, ISBN 978-1-4472-5623-6. It's a fun and satisfying urban fantasy.
I mostly read The Invisible Library between the end of term and Christmas, when I had a bit more time than usual for just relaxing and reading a novel. It's quite light, but stays away from genre clichés and I really enjoyed reading it. I loved the world building, it's mostly scenery but it's very fun scenery. I'm definitely the right audience for library-based magic, and TIL just feels right, with the Library existing as a kind of conduit between alternate realities. It felt like a fresh take on some of the usual supernatural creatures, your dragons who can take human form, your Fae, your vampires, werewolves etc. And I enjoyed the way it takes a particular alternate world with a certain balance of technology versus magic, implying that there are other points along the scale. The setting is neither historically accurate nor steampunk, but its own thing.
The pace remains exciting but not frenetic throughout, and there's a great development of the relationships between characters. I particularly enjoyed the small-scale politics, whether the jockeying for position in the academia-like Library or the machinations between characters within a particular social stratum of this particular alt-London. There's a good sense of the uncanny and moments that are really frightening without going too far into gore and horror. There's a slightly odd reverse male-gaze thing going on where the POV character constantly tells us how attractive she finds every vaguely humanoid male character, but that's a minor flaw.
Definitely looking forward to more in this series!
Currently reading: A journey to the end of the Millennium by AB Yehoshua. Found this in Camden market and couldn't quite resist it. It's written in 1999 and set in 999, which is perhaps a bit obvious, but I am enjoying Yehoshua's choice of a viewpoint character who is an African, polygamous Jewish merchant travelling to the backwaters of Northern Europe.
Up next: I am desperate to read Katy and I might well start it before I finish the Yehoshua, which is lush and poetic and slow.
(Have plenty to post about, since I've been almost non-stop busy since about 23rd December, plus I want to look back on 2016 and forward to the new year, but let's start up posting again with a Reading Wednesday.)
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