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31. Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris

Yet another supernatural crime series; this one about a woman who can sense dead people & the last moments of their lives after being struck by lightning. This is the third in the series that I've read. It's the literary equivalent of candy floss, but I really enjoyed the other two. This one not so much, maybe I just wasn't in the mood.
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I had a lot to say about some of these, but it's been so long I just can't remember or be bothered.

28. The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
Not as good as I remembered, but still worth while.

29. Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution by Simon Schama

A pretty scholarly work for something that accompanies a TV series. As I'd seen the series, I had Schama's voice in my head as I read it - a poor woman's audio book.


30. Naked Pictures of Famous People by John Stewart

I can't emphasize enough how un-funny this is. Which is a disappointment as I'm a huge fan of the Daily Show.

Consider yourselves warned.

31. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber

Recent BBC dramatization. Enormous book. Really, really good.

32. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

Another day, another Sookie Stackhouse novel. Everyone who isn't a vampire is breeding, which is most annoying.

33.The Cassini Division by Ken Macleod

Left wing space opera. Interesting comparisons to The Diamond Age.

Probably the best of the series so far (though I've started the final volume and am loving that too).
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17. From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris

For no reason that I am able to articulate, this is my favourite of the series so far.

18. The Owl Service by Alan Garner

[ profile] cavalorn raved about this on Facebook recently, and it was conveniently in stock at the library that's on my way to the gym.

When I had my meltdown before I left Manchester I spent a week re-reading Garner's stuff, but somehow omitted The Owl Service. I'm not even 100% sure I read it as a child, although I definitely remember it being in our public library.

[ profile] cavalorn is right. This book is amazing. Don't be put off by the fact it's a children's book - it works really well on an adult level too. The supernatural bit is really creepy and scary, right from the first page. The sense of place (a valley not too far from Aberystwyth) is palpable. But the heartbreaking, tragic element is entirely to do with the "real life" characters - two upper-class English step-siblings, one of whom is an awful snob, and the aspirational Welsh boy whose mum is the housekeeper at the house - and their being trapped in their respective situations. Yet this isn't done with a sledgehammer.

I can't emphasize enough how awesome this book is. Go read it right now, it won't take long.
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brief reviews brought to you by the ongoing cotton wool in my head:

14. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

I've reviewed both of Morton's other books (The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden) on here before. This is the same deal - multi-generational gothic potboiler revolving around a decaying stately home.

I think I loved this less than the other two. Having said that, I got through the nearly 700 pages in four days, and once I'd started was lugging it around on the bus to Bath & back (and thus all over Bath for the day) because I couldn't put it down.

15. All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris

Yes, I'm still reading these. This one's more focussed than the last few have been; good mindless fun.

16. Grave Peril by Jim Butcher

Volume 3 of The Dresden Files. I love Harry Dresden. I loved this book, even though there's hardly any appearances at all by Murphy; the sidekick in this one is the self-righteous Knight of the Cross who is by turns lovely and really annoying. (I'm pretty sure that's intentional).

Be warned - I found the ending really sad.
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10. Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris

Yes, I'm still reading these. Started the next one this morning.
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I'm still doing nothing but working, coming home and reading trashy novels before going to sleep at 8. It's all rock and roll here.

5. Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris

The next Sookie Stackhouse novel. Entertaining enough, but although a lot happens, it felt a bit like the wheels are spinning but the overall series plot didn't advance very far in this volume. Or that might be me. I'm also getting the later books confused with the new series of True Blood, which by now has veered well away from the source material.

6. An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris

Yet another supernatural detective series - in this one, the protagonist was struck by lightning as a teen and as a result can sense dead bodies, and what they died of. I read one of the other books in this series last year (ish) and enjoyed it but said it was the least substantial thing I'd read in a long time.

That's pretty much true. It was OK, but talk about candy floss for the mind.

I have been working on a huge non-fiction book which I was hoping to be done today, but I'm not, so January's reading looks a bit thin:

Books read: 6
Non-fiction: 1
Library/borrowed: 2

So I'm ahead of the game, but only if you don't count all those books I got as Christmas presents.
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2. The Star Fraction by Ken Macleod

Ken's first book and the first of a four-part series. Typical Ken - left-wing space opera, lots of weird political ideas taken to their (possibly il-)logical conclusions. I really enjoyed it but a lot of it went over my snot-filled head. I'm enjoying volume 2, The Stone Canal, a lot more.

3. Primordial Soup by Grant Naylor

Yes, I read a collection of Red Dwarf scripts. I had flu. This was the level my snot-filled brain could cope with. Nothing new as I'd seen every episode represented here.

4. Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris

The fourth Sookie Stackhouse book. These are really growing on me. Even in my semi-conscious haze, I was impressed once again by the way she brings Sookie's voice so alive.
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I'm behind and I have flu, so these are going to be brief.

51. Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter

I have finally got around to reading the first of Slaughter's books.

Maybe I was in a funny mood, but I think it's superior to anything she's written since. I didn't want to kill any of the detective characters. She kept the suspense going throughout.

I thought that meant I'd read all her stuff, but apparently there's a new one out, or due soon.

52. Club Dead by Charlaine Harris

The third Sookie Stackhouse novel (ie True Blood). I liked this better than the first two. It's something of a guilty pleasure as very insubstantial and way too close to the romance genre for my comfort. On the other hand, instead of waiting for men to rescue her, Sookie continues to save her own skin and often that of the men around her (those with supernatural powers and otherwise).

53. The Girl who Played with Fire by Steig Larsson

The sequel to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It's very different. It's also very good.

54. The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas

This month's Bibliogoths selection (though I failed to make it to the meeting).

I'm undecided. I raced through it so I clearly enjoyed it; I understood what she was trying to do, but the end just left me cold. I have a half-assed argument about why but it involves spoilers.

The first half reminded me of The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, which is in my mind far & away the superior book.

Incidentally, I only bought two books on my travels, which I think is a new record. I took one book too many with me, but had things gone more to plan I think I would have needed it.
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44. Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

The second Sookie Stackhouse novel, now adapted for TV as series 2 of True Blood. Once again I came to the book already having watched the TV version.

I think I liked this better than the first book (from what I can remember). It's neither substantial nor deep, but it is a lot of fun.

This time I was struck by how completely outside my realm of existence is the world narrated by Sookie (never mind the supernatural beings). She has never left her home town. She's deeply Christian. Despite dating a vampire she is very naive and has a very sheltered outlook on life. Her main hobby is tanning, and the outfits she describes in great detail are truly redneck-tastic. I think that's part of the appeal.

Once again, I wholeheartedly support the themes of tolerance and compassion.

I was tempted to take the rest of these on holiday with me, but they're so insubstantial I'd probably be finished at least one before I even got on the plane.
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23.The Neil Gaiman Reader, edited by Darrell Schweitzer

Quasi-academic essays on Neil's output to 2006. A mixed bag, as these things always are. I think I preferred The Sandman Companion, but there's a mattress in front of the bookcase where (I think) it is, so I can't flip through and do a quick comparison.

24. Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris

Thanks to [ profile] spitecandy for the heads-up. She was discussing Harris's "Southern Vampires" series, about which I'm not convinced as it sounds like it strays a little too close to the "Romance" label for me; but I discovered that the same author writes a detective series about a woman who was struck by lightning and consequently has the ability to know the cause of death when she gets near a corpse. Supernatural crime stuff = exactly my thing.

This was OK, but probably the least substantial thing I have read in a very, very long time, not excepting Harry Potter. The writing neither grabbed me nor turned me off. I won't be rushing out to read the rest of the series right away, but will certainly give it at least one more chance at some point.

25. Matter by Iain M Banks

I made the mistake of starting this when I had The Lurgy back in March, thought it was too hard & that I hated it. Do not attempt with head full of snot.

Actually, it's one of Banks's better recent Culture novels; it is, however, not as good as The Algebraist (on the other hand, it is neither as hard going or as long).


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