Wrap-Up: October 2012

Happy Halloween! October started out as a slow reading month but since I spent an entire week off work, I did end up reading a lot. And any month with a new Cat Valente book can be considered a highlight. So here goes… what I’ve read in October:

BOOKS READ: 9
PAGES READ: 3038
SERIES STARTED: Jim Butcher – Codex Alera, Jim C. Hines – Magic Ex Libris, Ysabeau S. Wilce – Flora Segunda
SERIES CONTINUED: Catherynne M. Valente – Fairyland

THE BEST:

Catherynne M. Valente – The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There 9,5/10

How much can I rave about one author? I’d say a lot, so here’s another recommendation. If you haven’t read Valente’s first Fairyland book, go ahead and pick it up now. This is a book that combines perfect language, humor, references and jokes, with kick-ass characters and a truly imaginative plot. I can’t stress enough how highly I recommend these books for people of any age (except maybe babies, and I’d even go so far as to read it to a toddler… just because). This is one of those buy-on-sight authors and I can’t believe I only discovered her this year.

Kazuo Ishiguro – The Remains of the Day 8,5/10

This quite and slow-moving story of a butler who seeks nothing but greatness in his work was surprisingly touching. Ishiguro writes beautiful prose and I didn’t even realise until the end how much I cared about our stern, professional protagonist. A book with a message that concerns everyone and a story of a life spent holding on to dying traditions. If you don’t need a lot of action in your fiction, this is definitely for you.

Yann Martel – Life of Pi 8,5/10

I was determined to dislike this book and ended up all the more surprised by it. The religious themes that I feared going into it were beautifully subtle. To me, this was an ode to storytelling, as well as a damn-well written adventure story about a boy and a tiger sharing a life boat in the middle of the Pacific. I even shed a tear or two at the end.

Ysabeau S. Wilce – Flora Segunda 7/10

Ellen Kushner recommended this trilogy in the SF Squeecast and I couldn’t keep my hands off the book. It captivated me in its adorableness and while I thought our heroes had it a bit too easy at times, the twists and turns and the fact that the characters are so likable made me fall in love with Flora Segunda. I already started the second book and can’t wait to read more of Flora and Udo’s adventures, trying to become a ranger and a pirate, respectively.

THE WORST:

Nope. Nothing below a 5/10 this month.

THE REST:

Mary Shelley – Frankenstein 7/10

A very good book overall, but I enjoyed the beginning more than the second half. Victor Frankenstein was a captivating protagonist, even though I ended up liking his creating a bit more. I loved the language (and I can’t believe Mary Shelley wrote this aged 19 – makes you feel really accomplished, doesn’t it?) but in the second half of the novel, there were too many descriptions of traveling for my taste. Nonetheless, a highly recommended, creepy read that would be perfect for a Halloween all-nighter.

Jim Butcher – Furies of Calderon 7/10

I still can’t decide if I loved it or just found it meh. The story starts out as a very generic epic fantasy with your avarage farmboy becoming a hero and saving the kingdom. However, there is an incredibly interesting cast of characters that I loved to follow through their ordeals. Especially the Marat took my epic-fantasy-heart by storm. This is the first in a series, so I was lenient in rating it. Because I hope for much more Marat culture in the next instalment of the series. Also, one extra point for the great audio narration.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – A Study in Scarlet 6,5/10

My second ever Sherlock Holmes adventure – I had to read it when I became totally Sherlocked by the BBC TV show. And while I enjoyed this very short novel a lot, what impressed me more was how wonderfully it translated to our modern times and to the TV screen. Sherlock is the most lovable show-off with loyal Watson at his side. I really liked that we got to see the murderer’s perspective and his entire backstory. More Sherlock Holmes adventures will follow very soon!

Jim C. Hines – Libriomancer 6,5/10

A book about a secret society that can take objects out of books. What’s not to like? Uhm… le tme see. First of all, this featured one of the worst female romantic interests I’ve ever read about. Lena is only there to brush her sexy body parts against our protagonist’s side and to ask questions that lead to info-dumping. However, this was also a great adventure with loads of fun references to recent fantasy and science-fiction literature. While I won’t dive straight into the next instalment (once it’s out), I can see myself reading more of Hines’ other novels.

Tad Williams – Tailchaser’s Song 6/10

I feel bad about this low-ish rating because I love Tad Williams and I had the pleasure of meeting him and his charming wife at the Frankfurt book fair a few years ago. And they are incredibly nice people. However, this first of his published novels was too reminiscent of Tolkien for me to find anything new to like. The middle part – where Tad’s own ideas clearly took over the Fellowship-like travel adventure – was fantastic, though. And I absolutely adored the characters. I’m still a Tad Williams fan and if I can fit it into my schedule, I’ll read The Dirty Streets of Heaven in November. Or maybe some Ordinary Farm

COMING UP IN NOVEMBER:

Scott Lynch – Red Seas Under Red Skies

Oh my God, I can’t believe I managed to keep this unread for so long. I remember my severe post-book trauma after The Lies of Locke Lamora (which reminds me, I should really write a review on that) so I didn’t read the second Gentleman Bastard book immediately after that. But now that the publication of the third instalment is in sight (October 2013!), I started it and I’m falling in love with Scott Lynch even more.

Ysabeau S. Wilce – Flora’s Dare

The second in the Flora Segunda trilogy. While I didn’t think the first book was perfect, it managed to pull me into Flora’s world and want more of it. So here I am, reading the middle part – and if you’ve read this blog you know I’m a sucker for middle parts of trilogies. I can’t say much about it yet, other than that Flora and Udo remain their charming teenage selves.

Adam McOmber – The White Forest

I’m more than halfway through with this book but I’ll probably end up lemming it. I don’t mind slow books but moving the plot forward in inches only to stop and remember some really boring episode from the past that – at least to my reader’s eye – serves nothing to forward the story in any way, is just too tedious. And I am starting to think the big twist at the end, if there even is one, will not be worth my time. I’ll review it because I received an eGalley via NetGalley but I really don’t know if I can finish the book.

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