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01 February 2012 @ 02:55 am
January books  
HAPPY BIRTHDAY yourebrilliant! You are, you know! I hope that the present fairies have been suitably generous and the cake is astonishingly large! (And I am hoping you notice this in about eight hours, by which time it will be Feb 1 in Scotland, too!)

One of my plans for this year is to keep track of books read. A sensible person would have kept a record as she went. Please pass on my best wishes and admiration to all such people should you know any*! Instead, attempting to reconstruct from the Kindle and the pile beside my bed just waiting for a spot of shelving, I think it went something like this:

1. Rivers of London and 2. Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch. It was a terrible mistake to reread these two over New Year, because his third book has been put back in the publication schedule and I CANNOT WAIT!!! I reviewed RoL here, and MoS improved on the reread as I originally found its slightly slower pacing a bit less thrilling than RoL on the first go through, but this time enjoyed all the complexity of the new characters and situations.

3. Hogfather by Terry Pratchett, which was another reread -- the holiday period is not for brain taxing! It's one of his most delightful books, while also being subtly terrifying -- a genius piece of balancing!

4. Appointment with Death and 5. Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie. Two Poirot novels, but in both of them women take centre stage and the detective lurks in the corners. Surprising points of connection between these two, with a real sense of landscape in each and the possibilities and dangers of love taking central roles. I'm always surprised at how modern many of her stories feel, probably because so much of crime drama is still so Christie-esque. A first-time read for all four Christies, but alas, I am coming to the end of my Christie project.

6. Elephants Can Remember and Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie. Another two Poirot novels that also function as a pair. Here old mysteries are investigated, with children seeking to clear their parents of alleged murders. These two are more dated than the others, necessarily so as they relay stories which occurred years behind the time of the book's setting. But the twists were very satisfyingly twisty, and I only guessed one of the murderers!

7. Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler. Thwarted in my desire for more Ben Aaronovitch novels, I turned to Christopher Fowler, author of the very satisfyingly spooky Roofworld. Bryant and May are two octogenarian detectives who run the Peculiar Crimes Unit -- a police branch so filled with esoteric knowledge and ability that no one has been able to close it down nor make its two senior detectives retire. This first book in the series plays between the near-present day and the unit's formation during World War II and sets both up in loving detail. Like Rivers of London, it's a bit of a love letter to the city, though with a more nostalgic turn than the newer book. The second Bryant and May novel, which I am partway through, is like RoL's great uncle and follows the old rivers as part of a crime, too. More next month!

8. Persuasion by Jane Austen. Oh Anne! Oh Captain Wentworth! This is by far my favourite restrained novel (and I've read it many times) – everything is written with that slight detachment that makes the mockery of Sir Walter and Elizabeth more polite and Anne's ardent love, which she has accepted is now hopeless, so much more painful. Austen's political commentary is at the front of this novel, anyone who says that she is not a feminist solely because she looks for love for her heroines cannot have read this book clearly. Though I am always so happy that love does triumph here: you can really believe that Anne and Frederick will be happy at the end.

9. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Another reread. This is such a bookish book, full of so many Gothic Novel jokes that the story itself is pushed a little to one side. Which is fine, it's a lovely tour through Regency Bath (and Bath always makes me happy, hello darling theodoraleft and thisgirl_is!) and there are many good jokes!

10. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I was not in the right mood to read this again. I want to bang all their heads together. ALL THEIR SILLY HEADS!!!

11. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Ah, that's better! I had forgotten how much Darcy loves Elizabeth, and how early his love is shown to the reader. I was actually surprised at what a romantic figure Darcy was on this rereading -- previously I think I had been so engrossed with Elizabeth that I had underestimated him, but this time he seemed kinder and less of a nob. And Elizabeth's headbanging boredom was more obvious, too. I may have read P D James's Death Comes to Pemberley this year, too, though I suspect it was actually in December, so I am not counting it. It was up and down, more an entertaining fanfiction than a novel in its own right, but James was very confident that Elizabeth and Darcy would make a success of their relationship, and with my middle-aged-lady eyes in for this reading, I think she was quite right!

12. A Sky Full of Kindness by Rob Ryan. This was my birthday book from Mr B, and like all things Rob Ryan, it is a delight. I truly believe there is a place for charm and hope in the world, both of which are the underpinnings of Ryan's art . Here in beautiful papercut story he tells the tale of two small birds and an egg, and the mother bird's fears that she is not yet ready for the next part of her life. I have a dear friend who went into labour yesterday and will be sending her a copy of this book if she does not already have one, as it is pure joy. For myself, I now dream of a T-shirt that says 'She is obviously some kind of human penguin'.

I was going to finish with a short discussion on Kindle v book, but I started a new programme at my gym today (since I am poor, I am using my time in pursuing greater fitness so things aren't a total write-off. And I'd already paid the gym fees, so I may as well use them to their maximum benefit!) Alas, despite being able to ride a bike and walk quickly up steep hills until the cows come home, squats and tricep exercises have left me feeling as though I have spent three days riding a camel. Radox bath it is!

* I exaggerate for comedic effect, rumpleghost alone would give my online peer group a good reputation for organisation! Which means ... oh cock, I'm the entertainingly disorganised second cousin in this story, aren't I?
Nennenenne on January 31st, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
Jane Austen! Yes! I have all her books in this really beautiful old-fashioned style with thin pages with gold edges and it's a joy just to look at them. *swoons* I reread from time to time myself and I got "Death comes to Pemberley" for Christmas actually, but I haven't read it yet. Is it as good as I hope it is?
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 31st, 2012 04:48 pm (UTC)
Bits of it are! There are some long passages of exposition that could have been trimmed, and a few rapid conclusions, but also lovely bits of delight in between!

And I do love those old books! I have a few, but confess I was rereading on the Kindle, because most of this month's reading has been in cafes and on buses and the Kindle is easier for that.
Nennenenne on January 31st, 2012 07:26 pm (UTC)
Then I have something to look forward to. :)
la_marianela_mariane on January 31st, 2012 04:13 pm (UTC)
JANE AUSTEN! Now, I need to read P and P again :)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 31st, 2012 04:50 pm (UTC)
DO! I was surprised at the freshness of it, especially since I have read it at least a dozen times before and studied it at school and at university. I think it is one of those books that you come at afresh at each stage of your own life.
burdened with glorious purposefemmequixotic on January 31st, 2012 04:45 pm (UTC)
If the new Aaronovitch doesn't come out soon, I may expire. My Yuletide fic was a Rivers of London story, and I reread both books right before I wrote it, which means, like you, I'm desperate for my next fix.

Although I may have to try Christopher Fowler now...
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 31st, 2012 04:52 pm (UTC)
It's been delayed due to slow corrections! WOE! It's OK, we all have each other to stay strong and get through the wait. We will make it!

And I think you would like him. He's darker and less smooth than Aaronovitch, but there are also some more intricate bits that are v enjoyable. Try Roofworld first, and if you like his style, the Bryant and May books are helping me through this Peter Grantless period with less anxiety than I had before I found them!
calanthe_fics on January 31st, 2012 05:13 pm (UTC)
I got moon over soho for xmas and you know i was bit meh about the first book. I loved tge second. Loved it. I liked the characters and the premise a lot mre and on reflection thinki didnt enjoy the first book do much because i fidnt really take to the whole river scenario. But yeah. I loved it!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on January 31st, 2012 05:21 pm (UTC)
HURRAH! I think the first book was a bit like the smooth chap who comes up with a surprisingly slick line at a club and you either are in the mood and take him home, or suddenly remember a pressing bladder infection, while the second book was like the same chap some time later, out walking his grandmother's dog -- less flash, but more actually there.

And now I really have to go to bed properly because I think my arms are going to fall off! MWAH!
calanthe_fics on January 31st, 2012 05:23 pm (UTC)
Have a good sleep. Sorry about typos. Typing on phone isnt easy!
κάτι τρέχει στα γύφτικα_inbetween_ on January 31st, 2012 08:05 pm (UTC)
You know what I mean when I say I hate you, right? Because I have about 200 - 300 books piled around me with no shelf space and no space to do anything and that is just near the PC because I also decided to keep a record! So many many torrents later, much lost data and mild success at goodreads and I still can't bloody do it! No matter if I put sticky posts into the book or write myselfs email drafts, the reviews won't go onto my HD or online. And they piiiiile up. I think I need to go breathe into something - bottle of rum, paper bag, cat fur ...
blamebramptonblamebrampton on February 1st, 2012 02:37 am (UTC)
I've been meaning to do it for the last three years, mind! And I realised last night that I had totally forgotten all the books I read for reviewing purposes (only three or four) so need to add a post script ;-)
lyras: Discworld Bookshoplyras on February 1st, 2012 02:13 am (UTC)
I adore Hogfather, and used to reread it every Christmas. I think it's one of Pratchett's most beautiful pieces of writing.

And yes, oh, Anne! Persuasion makes my heart hurt, but it's worth it.

OTOH I was about fourteen when I read Northanger Abbey (immediately after P&P) and was bitterly disappointed (my romantic teenage self completely failed to see the mockery, or didn't want to see it) - it's probably time for me to read that one properly!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on February 1st, 2012 02:38 am (UTC)
If you have a keen interest in the Gothic Novel, then it is a decent light comedy. If not, it's a bit silly, but at least you will not wish to bang all their heads together ;-)
shu_shu_sleepsshu_shu_sleeps on February 1st, 2012 06:23 am (UTC)
I loved all the gothic in-jokes in Northanger Abbey - its one of my favourite Austens for that reason :)
anna_wing on February 1st, 2012 03:56 am (UTC)
I spent the Chinese New Year weekend reading my way through Robert van Gulik's Judge Dee novels, which are terrific. A Dutch Sinologist's take on Ming Dynasty perceptions of a Tang Dynasty statesman and legendarily famous investigative magistrate.

The Aaronovitch books are splendid. If you want even greater immersion into the Matter of London, try Kate Griffin's Urban Sorceror series, the fourth of which is out in a month or two.

A friend of mine who works in the UK financial sector proposed (quite independently) that Goldman Sachs had a deal with the Goddess of the River Fleet, thus accounting for their survival and success to date: in exchange for Her blessing and protection, there is a regular offering of poorly-performing traders, plus, in times of great crisis, a top-performing trader will voluntarily offer himself to be sacrificed for the greater good of the firm. Their names are honoured in a secret sanctum of the firm, and their families are looked after forever. We thought that this was a plausible proposition, and when the Aaronovitch novels came out, we took them as confirmation.
shu_shu_sleepsshu_shu_sleeps on February 1st, 2012 06:22 am (UTC)
Ooh - I shall have to track down the Christopher Fowler series - I LOVED Roofworld, and octogenarian detectives and peculiar crime sound like they would totally fit my current state of mind!
Lisbet Karlsdottirlisbet on February 1st, 2012 05:13 pm (UTC)
I started keeping annual book lists a few years back, and I love it. It's especially helpful when I'm trying to remember something good so I can find more from the same author. Except I've been lazy and just listed them by title & author, with no reviews or comments.

Jane Austen is wonderful. My #1 go-to author when I need a bit of comfort for my soul.

I heard about the PD James book, and I've liked her regular mystery stuff in the past, but have been slightly afraid to try it. If I recall, Carrie Bebris also does a lighthearted mystery series featuring Mr. & Mrs. Darcy that isn't too bad. But then I read some others by another author that were kind of horrible, and it put me off.

(Errr... this is why I need to also review the books as I read them, so I remember which ones are the good ones!)
It's a Deensedeensey on February 3rd, 2012 05:30 am (UTC)
I still owe you birthday chocolate beverage of your choice!