February was an okay month in terms of my reading. I only had three bails towards the end of the month. Which is considerably better than last month’s bail total. Anyway, here is what I read in February (not including the bails).
I started the month with Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone. I love Gladstone’s world building. It is the purest cyberpunk fantasy I’ve ever read. And a proof that New Weird ain’t dead. But, I am torn on the plot. It is a good plot, but the twist requires that the protagonist be a complete moron. Which, unfortunately, makes him a pain to follow.
Empire of Cotton by Sven Beckert is exhaustive and dry.
Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain by Jin Yong and translated by Olivia Mok needs two reviews. I love this novel so much. It is amazing. There are stories within stories. There is scheming and back stabbing. But the translation sucks. Oh my is it bad. Fox Volant needs a new English translation.
Following Fox Volant, I read China’s Cosmopolitan Empire: The Tang Dynasty by Mark Edward Lewis. I love this book. It is a wonderful history of the Tang Dynasty. It is especially strong in regards to urban life and international relations.
Next up came The Wizard and the Prophet by Charles C. Mann. I must admit that I am disappointed by this book. It could have been better if shorter. Like an essay.
The Law of Superheroes by James Daily and Ryan Davidson is another disappointment. The blog is better.
Again with the disappointing nonfiction: A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup is interesting, but the writing is dull.
Ghost on the Throne by James Romm is (thankfully) a very good history of the Wars of the Successors. Needs more Ptolemy, though.
Towards the end of the month, I realized I was missing a Miss Marple novel. So, I read The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie. I really enjoyed this novel. The plotting and characters are very well done. But I do feel that one of the red herring characters could be more developed into the story.
I ended the month with a history and a politics book (baring the three science fiction and fantasy bails).
SPQR by Mary Beard is exhaustive and exhausting.
How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt is the best book I read in February. An amazing exploration of the break down American democracy from the 1980s through the election of Donald Trump explicated through the lessons of the crumbling of democracy around the world.
That is it for February. May March be better!
My April reading has continued the general trend of my readings over the course of the year so far. But, there have been rays of light. I know what has been plaguing me. I’ve been forcing myself to read a lot of literary fiction. And I’m just not in the mood for those books. Instead, I am hungering for science fiction and fantasy. Also, I have cut down on the massive numbers of books I’ve checked out of the library at any one time. Not having so many books lessens the pressure on me to speed up my reading.
Any way, what did I read this last month?
The best two books I read in April, and contenders for the best books I’ve read this year, are Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente and The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard. Both books are awesome. And I posted reviews of both novels Monday.
I also finally read Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood and Burger’s Daughter to a disappointing end. I talked about my feelings for both books in a previous post as well, so I won’t spend much time on either of those.
The first book I read in April was The Miniature Wife and Other Stories by Manuel Gonzales. I can’t say much about this collection except that I was less than impressed with it. What is it about literary speculative fiction that so often falls flat?
The second book I read was Idaho by Emily Ruskovich. This novel is definitely not my cup of tea. I never connected with the characters or the writing.
Next up was Jump and Other Stories by Nadine Gordimer. I really enjoyed “Jump” and a few other stories. But other stories were not terribly compelling.
I also read Carrie Fisher’s Postcards from the Edge. I didn’t care for it at all, I’m sad to say.
Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift was boring. Why did I have it on my to be read list again?
I really liked The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery. The story of the people who fell in love with octopuses is touching and well done. But I wish more attention had been paid to the octopuses.
Finally, I read Ismail Kadare’s Broken April. This novel is evocative and haunting. I enjoyed this story of early twentieth century Albania.
That is what I read in April. On to May’s readings!