New this post: I’ve made a Pinterest board of my bookshelf for all you visual people out there!
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
This novel is the first in the Mary Russell series and came highly recommended from my sister. In fan-fiction mode, King reimagines Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic characters (Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson etc) but sets the novel in Edwardian England when Holmes is semi-retired. Mary Russell is a young woman who becomes Holmes’ apprentice and then partner/assistant in crime solving. I really enjoyed this, both for the exciting plot and the plummy idiom in which King writes.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
Highly recommend this. Set in modern-day-ish rural Mississippi, the novel explores race, prejudice, identity and how people’s perceptions of events can change them. Franklin brilliantly crafts voices that are at first racially ambiguous (at least to me they were), all the while keeping race as a central theme.
Rags and Bones, edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt
Book of sci-fi short stories where the authors take various fairy tales/stories as inspiration. Weird, wonderful and sometimes very challenging. One that particularly struck me was a futuristic, nihilisitc love story by Rick Yancey where an elite has conquered death by means of downloading your personality into a new body (Dollhouse anyone?), whilst the rest of humanity live and die and serve the rich folks. Neil Gaiman’s reinterpretation of Sleeping Beauty was also quite good.
Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea by Adam Roberts
This was an interesting book that went mental from the middle point onward. Referencing Jules Verne’s classic work, Roberts sets up the story on a top secret French nuclear submarine’s maiden voyage. The first dive is begun but then somehow the sub keeps descending for, you guessed it, trillions of leagues into an implied other dimension/world. Highly fantastical, the crew encounter all sorts of crazy things both outside the sub and within themselves.
The Portable Door by Tom Holt
Picked this up randomly from my local library, based on the blurb which said Holt was similar to Terry Pratchett or some such. Started oddly but then turned into a very quirky and funny novel about magic and awkward Brits!
The Palace of Curiosities by Rosie Garland
Another random pick from my library based on the plot blurb (circus acts in Victorian London). Interesting characters including *spoiler* an amnesiac man who cannot be hurt or seemingly ever die who, it’s implied at the end, is a fallen angel. The novel was a bit sex-obsessed, not in terms of racy scenes but what the characters were concerned with / valued. Interesting concept but a bit tiresome and angst-ridden!
The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks
I don’t read much non-fiction but this was excellent. A diary cum memoir about life as a shepherd in the Lake District. Fascinating reading about such a different way of life and how Rebanks reconciles their ancient customs with the modern world.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Finally got round to reading this best seller set in a city I used to live in, Jackson, MS. Brilliant story about race and friendship amongst women in the 1960s when things were still really bad in Jackson (a period still within living memory). Well worth your time.