Firesong - William Nicholson

Possibly the best book of the lot. One of those perfect ends to a trilogy that ties up things you thought had been forgotten from the previous ones. :)



Slaves of the Mastery (Wind on Fire, Bk. II) - William Nicholson

I didn't think there was much to do in the sequel, having basically overturned the entire city in the first one, but turns out a few years later there's more massive upheavals to come. Characters are just as great as the first one, have aged well, no continuity errors. This book is great. :)



The Wind Singer ( Wind On Fire, Bk. I) - William Nicholson

Great adventure book for kids. Will entertain adults too, if they can suspend disbelief about various things. :P



Sonata for a Scoundrel - Anthea Lawson

Decent romance story. By which I mean: I didn't hate the male lead and the plot of their romance was not based entirely on avoidable misunderstandings.


The attention to detail and level of research with regards to the music and the composers in this is quite phenomenal.


Old-fashioned gender roles and sexism abound, but no more than was really required for historical realism and it wasn't present in the narrative voice itself. If you can stomach that I'd say this is well worth a read. :)



Island (Flamingo Modern Classic) - Aldous Huxley

This book utterly horrified me. Not because of the book itself, but because everyone sold it to me as a utopia.


This is not a utopia.


This may be the author's vision of a utopia, but the author is an ableist pedophilic dickhead.


Utopias don't have mandatory manual labour.


Utopias don't require people to always be in the present moment and never let people sit around and think.


Utopias don't insist on sex for everyone.


Utopias DEFINITELY don't have mandatory 'lessons in the art of love' for 15-yr-olds with teachers old enough to be their parents.


Utopias don't allow older men to marry 16-year-old girls.


Utopias would not have a rate of 1 in 3 people being mentally ill, because mental illness is in large part a response to trauma and oppression.


Utopias would respond to those who were mentally ill with individually tailored care, not generic catch-alls and mandatory treatment that won't work for most people.


I didn't even finish this book. I couldn't bring myself to. It was a whole load of intellectual bollocks about shit the author didn't understand that was being used to justify the author's sex drive (and probably infidelity, if the main characters views are anything to go on).



Star's Reach: A Novel Of The Deindustrial Future - John Michael Greer

Again, fantastic worldbuilding and setting from this author. Good characters and plot, too, although there is gender imbalance and mild sexism at times. Much great speculation regarding alien civilisations.


My only major issue is with the narrative style this is written in, in journalistic fashion that rushes back and forth in the timeline and relies heavily on telling rather than showing.


It works for this story, but I'm not a fan of it in general and it's not the way I would've written it. :P



The Wolf Wilder - Katherine Rundell

Great children's novel. Great characters, well-written, and the wolves are well-researched. The plot and worldbuilding is simplistic and doesn't hold up to scrutiny, but that's to be expected with this intended age group.







The Fires of Shalsha - Deva Berg, John Michael Greer

Really fantastic worldbuilding and setting. Well-written. A great 'what if' sci fi novel. Lacks the fifth star because the characters fall kind of flat, and because the story ends rather abruptly - it lacks in try/fail cycles, basically.



Walking With Zombies (Zombie Armageddon) -  Peter Fussey,  Dave Jeffery, Ian Woodhead

Things I did not like about this book:


None of the characters were the same as last time, making that abrupt cliffhanger ending even worse than I previously thought.


There was another abrupt cliffhanger ending.


The gay character could have been handled better and hit a lot of stereotypes that made me wince, but I will take badly handled representation over no representation so I'm not complaining too much.


Things I liked about this book:


Zombies. In England.


One of the point of view characters was female!


Two of the point of view characters were not assholes!



The Unwashed Dead - Ian Woodhead

Things I did not like about this book:


It's told from the point of view of a whole bunch of unsympathetic and complete asshole characters, to the point that I was cheering when they died.


The point of view characters kept dying so you never quite knew who you were meant to be following and it was impossible to actually root for anyone.


NONE of the MANY MANY point of view characters were female. The one female character who actually survives has a complete change of personality halfway through and then seemed to just do whatever the plot called for regardless of her actual character. Actually, that was what happened to the other female who survived up to halfway through - sudden change of personality that resulted in her death. It was completely out of character and just read as 'the author needs someone to die here and thinks females are both expendable and completely changeable anyway'. Basically, the author's misogyny shines all the way through this book.


The ending is incredibly abrupt and not actually an ending at all. It would work for a chapter ending, but not a book ending, and I understand there are sequels but you don't make a multiple-book series just by chopping haphazardly inbetween chapters. You have to actually end the damn book still.


Things I liked about this book:


Zombies. In England.



The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison

I just can't get behind a story told so haphazardly. There is no linear timeline or plot. The whole thing is just a character study done in countless vignettes from different people's points of view. It was physically painful for me to read as it resulted in a bunch of confusion, dissociation, and headaches.


Oh, it was also physically painful to come across sudden CSA told from the point of view of the abuser. So MASSIVE trigger warning for that.




Robins in the Night - Dajo Jago, Erin Wynn

Seriously oh my god this book is wonderful and amazing and well-written and has a humorous narrative and SO MANY FEMALE CHARACTERS OH MY GOD and LESBIANS and the main character is TRANS and it handles it SO WELL and this book is FREAKING AWESOME and I am usually more articulate than this but I FIND I CAN'T TALK ABOUT THIS BOOK WITHOUT YELLING ABOUT HOW MUCH I LOVE IT. :D



Summer of Love - Lisa Mason

We enjoyed this but massive trigger warnings for rape and romanticised relationships between a 14-year-old and adults.


(It's gross. But if you can ignore the gross parts the book is good.)






and I found it laughable how their advanced society in the future that had apparently come so far in terms of social justice and greater consciousness and advanced medical things, still had the same odd notions of dietary needs that we do now. (Pills that give him 2000 calories a day. That is not enough.) Although having said that, it DOES make a point of the fact that he looks gaunt and like he's not getting enough food from that. It still made me wince. They should have known better and it was utterly jarring.



Crucible (Ogmios Team Novels Book 5) - Steven Savile, Steve Lockley

In bad need of a good line editor.



Roving Pack - Sassafras Lowrey

Yeesh, what to say about this book.


Okay first of all I liked it, I liked the setting I liked the writing I liked the main character.


However, this book is FUCKING TERRIFYING. In that it romanticises the SHIT out of violent sex acts - with NO prior discussion of them. Ie: surprise violent sex! Romantic, apparently. Not rape. Abusive relationships - romantic apparently. There are a lot of them in this book. Nobody seems to understand or care about consent in the slightest.



Also, the ending is horrible and depressing and leaves you at pretty much the worst time in the protagonist's life when everything has just fallen apart. Like, great, thanks, that wasn't a betrayal of your reader's trust or anything. It's not like I'm sitting here frustrated and unsatisfied and feeling like the whole thing's not ended. L2conclusion&denouement.


(show spoiler)


Oh, and it is in dire need of some editing. There is nothing misspelled, but there are words missing and extra words thrown into places they shouldn't be (like 'a the' when it should be just 'a' or 'the'. etc), and at one point an entire repeated page, that cut into the text at odd times, cutting up sentences either side.




Good but Frustrating

The Night Watch - Sarah Waters

Well-written and engaging, with intriguing characters and a lot of drama.


However, a lot of the intrigue comes purely from it being written backwards - the book is split into 3 parts, starting out in 1947, then 1944, then ending in 1941 - it feels contrived and frustrating, for it to constantly refer to things the characters know that it is deliberately not telling you. It also has the bonus effect of making it feel like it doesn't have a proper end. If you were wondering what was going to happen to the characters in the first part you were reading, you're screwed, it never goes back to the 'present day'. It sets you up with a lot of drama, then goes through the backstory of the drama, but never /resolves/ the drama.


In short, I enjoyed reading this book until it finished, and then felt cheated due to the lack of a conclusion and denouement.



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