104 in 2014 15. The sticky end of the stick

Finally, FINALLY!! here are the last reviews for my reading in 2014, so I can start reviewing my books for 2015. You know what they say: 2,4,6,8, bog in, don’t wait!

#141Only Enchanting cover Only Enchanting by Mary Balogh (Read 30/11/2014) I like this Regency Romance series about a group of friends who were all scarred mentally and physically by service in the Peninsular Wars. This is the fourth in the series, and because they are romances, the focus is on each of the friends finding their true love and happy ever after. I like the way that the author deals with PTSD without dropping the reader out of the historical period. Despite the missing memory plot (which was one of the side effects of the character being shot in the head so not too contrived) I enjoyed this.

#142Blue Lily, Lily Blue cover Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (Read 4/12/2014) The third in the Raven Cycle, this book is just excellent. This series is excellent. I love the character development. I love the way that they can make progress and yet still have so much in doubt, and the overarching suspense is maintained. If you haven’t read The Raven Boys yet, and you like clever, compelling YA with great characters, then go and read it right now.

#143Manifest Destiny cover Manifest Destiny Volume 1: Flora and Fauna GN by Chris Dingess, Matthew Roberts and Owen Gieni (Read 7/12/2014) I am not the target market for this graphic novel that pits supernatural nasties against the early explorers of the USA. If I had anything other than a vague idea that a couple of blokes called Lewis and Clark led a party across to the Pacific, guided by a trapper and his Native American Indian wife (who gave birth en route and then carried the child with her), I might have liked this more. Maybe, maybe not. I was kind of irritated by the bison-headed and horse-headed centaur things (human torsos and horse bodies) because they were, of course, flesh-eating monsters rather than herbivores. Plus, stupidity in the face of infection by sentient plant zombies is not endearing. I’m OK with not pursuing this series, but I guess it would have a wider appeal in America. I’ll just sit back and wait for the graphic novel about Australian explorers (probably titled And they all DIED!)

#144The Golf Omnibus cover The Golf Omnibus by P.G. Wodehouse (Read 13/12/2014) Mashie niblick. I mean, come on. The old names for different sort of golf clubs are just inherently funny. And, with a comic genius like Mr Wodehouse writing the stories, even a dyed in the wool, devout, card-carrying golf curmudgeon such as myself found this collection endearing. If you actually like golf you will probably adore them.

#145Foxglove Summer cover Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch (Read 14/12/2014) Oh, oh, I love and completely adore this series. Plus, not wanting to give away anything too much about the plot but it has ffurghuncns*. (see below if you don’t mind spoilers). So, needless to add, I devoured it in one sitting, foregoing food, sleep and basic personal hygiene (almost) so I could find out what happened. This is a smart urban fantasy series, with a great back story and interesting characters, and this installation takes the main character out of London and into the English countryside. I wholeheartedly recommend you start with Rivers of London and read the whole series.

#146The Unwritten #8 cover The Unwritten, Vol. 8: Orpheus in the Underworld by Mike Carey (Read 15/12/2014) Mmmmm, more smart storytelling from the author who wrote one of my favourite urban fantasy series. This issue of  Unwritten sees some of the storyline cross, at last, and I enjoyed the way it played with ideas of what are stories, and how can the storytellers at the heart of this extraordinary tale manipulate their reality. Plus, Pauly Bruckner the foul-mouthed bunny always reminds me of Meet the Feebles, so that’s a win right there.

#147The Unwritten #9 cover The Unwritten, Vol. 9: The Unwritten Fables by Mike Carey and Bill Willingham (Read 15/12/2014) Comic crossovers are always a danger. Two graphic novels series that I love and yet…. nah. I didn’t like it. I mean it had some good ideas exploring the whole Tom/Tommy duality, and it had Frau Totenkinder being gratuitously evil witchy, but it was kind of an alternative Fables reality, with Mister Dark back in charge and Snow White doing a creepy Mistress of the Dark Vampirella impersonation. Odd, but more of a detour than a development.

#148The Fashion Book cover The Fashion Book by Alexandra Black (Read 16/12/2014) I picked this up for two reasons. Firstly, I ordered it for our featured junior non-fiction collection because I thought it looked interesting and would appeal to kids who aren’t into dinosaurs and weird but true fact books. Secondly, I have a 10 year old niece who is more interested in fashion that I will ever be, and I wondered if I should buy her a copy. I think yes. It’s visually appealing, with interesting information on historical eras and how to recreate those looks, materials and fashion related careers. But, you know, aimed at 10-12 year olds or thereabouts.

#149The Clockwork Dagger cover The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato (Read 21/12/2014) I like to think that I am not difficult to please. Put a dirigible in your book, and I am halfway convinced to read it. You see, that was easy! Unfortunately, so many delightful dirigible adventures fail to live up to their promise. And this is one of them. It was… OK. Interesting ideas, but flat characters. Good magic system and promising fantasy world political set-up, but painfully overused deus ex machina mystical powers. Most of the story takes place on the dirigible! And yet…. meh. If you want to read a book set on a dirigible, The Detective by Jonathan L. Howard is much, much better. I loved it. And, come to think of it, it may be the book that raised the dirigible adventure bar so high that everything else falls short.

#150Shifting Shadows cover Shifting Shadows: stories from the world of Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs (Read 23/12/2014) A great book with which to end my 2014 reading (I know – a week short of the end of the year, but there you have it). I love the Mercy Thompson urban fantasy series and these short stories are a really strong addition to the world. Some had been published elsewhere, but I hadn’t read most of them, and I enjoyed seeing things from the point of view of some of the secondary characters in the books.

* Fairy unicorns – vicious, transparent, fairy unicorns = squeee!

So, as it turns out, I read 150 books last year – not quite averaging 3 a week, but not too shabby. I hope you like the look of some of these, and I can’t wait to tell you about the awesome stuff I read in January. More from me soon!