BerlinBinliophile's Books of 2020

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BerlinBinliophile's Books of 2020

1BerlinBibliophile
Jan 1, 2020, 5:17pm

Happy new year everyone!

Well, I see great things ahead for my 2020 reading year! In addition to Life's Library, I've joined two new books clubs over the holidays, so that should give me a lot of material to read. I' also going to keep trying to limit my bookstore time and read more from my huge TBR pile at home!

I'm looking forward to reading with you guys in 2020. May it bring us many fascinating books to read and discussions to have.

2BerlinBibliophile
Jan 1, 2020, 5:18pm

1. China Rich Girlfriend, Kevin Kwan

Well, I started with some light reading. What a bonkers book to start the year on. The plot is barely existant and the wealth porn as tedious as ever, but the catty gossip and dialogues are hilarious. The family drama stakes are raised by drag-racing, poisoning and kidnapping, driving the sheer insanity of this book to new heights. I'm not sure I liked it, but I was certainly entertained.

My next book might be a bit more serious and deep, but who knows...

3DianaNL
Jan 1, 2020, 5:35pm

Best wishes for 2020!

4FAMeulstee
Jan 1, 2020, 6:19pm

Happy reading in 2020, Miriam!

5PaulCranswick
Jan 1, 2020, 6:41pm



Another resolution is to keep up in 2020 with all my friends on LT. Happy New Year!

6drneutron
Jan 1, 2020, 7:47pm

Welcome back!

7BerlinBibliophile
Jan 3, 2020, 3:21am

>3 DianaNL: >4 FAMeulstee: >5 PaulCranswick: >6 drneutron:
Thank you, everyone! I'm looking forward to reading with all of you.

8brodiew2
Jan 4, 2020, 1:51am

Hello BerlinBibliophile and Happy new year! I hope all is well with you. I look forward to what you have on tap this year. Dropping a star.

9BerlinBibliophile
Jan 5, 2020, 4:12pm

>8 brodiew2: Thank you so much, I'm well and hoping you are too :) I'm excited by my tbr pile this year.

2. Das Lächeln der Fortuna, Rebecca Gablé

I looooved this book. I finally got all the Waringham backstory I'd been craving, and Robin is one of my favourite protagonists in this series now. Knowing the historical events made the end of the book kind of inevitable but there was still a lot of suspense in how the personal growth and relationships would end. I love that there was even more horse stuff in this book than there usually is in the Waringham series, and that not only the protagonist had the gift for horses. It was lovely to see it from the outside as well.

So far only books I started last year, there's always such overhang between the years ;)

10thornton37814
Jan 5, 2020, 8:52pm

Finally getting around to making rounds! Have a good year of reading!

11BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Jan 10, 2020, 5:40pm

3. Sorted: Growing Up, Coming Out, and Finding My Place (A Transgender Memoir), Jackson Bird

This book is non-fiction, and it is the best kind: engagingly written, full of many interesting topics, and I learned something from it. Bird's life story (so far) has made him a pretty cool guy, and he talks about ups and downs in a chatty, conversational style that makes it easy for the reader to connect to him. He also peppers in lots of asides full of factual information for as a sort of primer on trans issues and vocabulary for cis people who may be reading about this for the first time. It is very basic, but I think it would be a good way for cis people with an outside perspective to start educating themselves on trans (and in a limited way, LGBTQIA+) issues. There's also a section of further reading at the back of the book. This style choice was made very consciously, and Bird talks about his TED talk and approach to educating cis people in a very interesting and informative chapter. He also often refers to his work with the HPA, which should be a draw to Harry Potter fans. It's great to look back at how fan activism worked in the '00s and the '10s.

4. The Institute, Stephen King

This is the first Stephen King book I've ever read, and I was very pleasantly surprised. I'm not sure what I was expecting, more horror I guess, but it wasn't this. I really love the characters, both the children and the adults in DuPray. The worldbuilding is also great, by the time the big phone starts coming up it seemed like a natural extension of what Luke had seen before, and the way the supernatural elements work together with the characters' relationships and the historical parallels is great. The way King jumps between locations, especially towards the climax, with little asides about what the characters in the other storylines are doing, works really well and makes sure that the reader is well oriented in space even as the fabric of reality starts to unravel. A really good introduction to King, I'm looking forward to reading more of his books!

These were books I started this year, and so far I'm clearly picking good ones!

12PersephonesLibrary
Jan 11, 2020, 10:50am

I have read Crazy Rich Asians which was fun - and The Institute which was very entertaining. I think Needful Things is one of his best novels. But if you want to go into the "Institute" direction you might prefer Der Anschlag. Happy reading!

13PaulCranswick
Jan 11, 2020, 11:43am

>11 BerlinBibliophile: My first Stephen King (and so far only) was Carrie which really underwhelmed me. I have plenty of his books on the shelves so I should give him another try.

14BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Jan 19, 2020, 4:38pm

>12 PersephonesLibrary: thanks for the suggestions! I want to read more King, so Needful Things is a good place to start if you recommend it.
>13 PaulCranswick: oh, Carrie would have been my next try with King. I'll move that back down the TBR pile then... but maybe some of his newer stuff might be more exciting?

5. The Raven and the Reindeer, T. Kingfisher

I really enjoyed this retelling of Andersen's The Snow Queen. Gerta is a wonderful protagonist whom it is always interesting to follow through her adventures, little though she thinks herself suited to adventuring. Her relationships with Kay, Mousebones, and Janna are explored deeply and lead to a very satisfying conclusion. I think my favourite thing in this book were the snow otters, they're just delightful.

6. Die Prinzessinnen-Bibliothek, Silke Trojahn and Andreas Wittenberg

This beautiful book describes the history and contents of the library built by Sophie Dorothea von Hannover, Luise Ulrike von Preußen, and Sofia Albertina of Sweden, three generations of German princesses. It's very interesting to read about the provenance research made possible by this library's existence as a complete corpus of books, which had no parts sold off throughout its history but was passed down whole and entire, a treasure trove of material research. The book is also full of pictures of the beautifully bound books in the library, both their outsides and their insides.

15BerlinBibliophile
Jan 23, 2020, 4:30pm

7. The Professor and the Parson, Adam Sisman

This is a deeply weird story, but a very engaging book. The events related therein boggle belief, and yet I absolutely believe that this sort of thing can happen anywhere. It is hard to describe this book, and I don't think the tagline does it any favours - the defrocking isn't really that scandalous, and desire is by no means the main motive. But as a look into academia, and how the system can go wrong, it is interesting, and as an account of a person who keeps making bigger and bigger gambles, knowing he must fail, and yet continuing on and on, it is a fascinating way to spend an afternoon.

8. Ragnarok: The End of the Gods, A.S. Byatt

The way Byatt interweaves the Norse mythologies leading up to Ragnarok and the experiences of a young girl in wartime Britain is very well done, and Byatt elicits a lot of resonances between the two storylines I would not have expected. Both the English countryside and the world of the Norse sagas are very lushly described, a thrilling overabundance of description that almost borders on too much, and yet it is just right for the feeling of a world where nothing is quite right. My favourite part of the book was the chapters about Jormungandr's life in the sea, the playfullness and brutality worked very well together.

16BerlinBibliophile
Jan 31, 2020, 3:28am

9. Come Tumbling Down, Seanan McGuire

I love this series, and I love how willing these characters are to fight for each other, but also to call each other out and support each other emotionally. In this book, we return to the Moors, and I was so happy to get to see a little more of this world than just the windmill and the castle. The Drowned Gods and their community are fascinating, and I hope we get to return to them. With each book I love Cora more, and I hope the next backstory book will feature her.

10. The Five Red Herrings, Dorothy L Sayers

I liked this book less than the others in the Lord Peter Wimsey series. The supporting characters I like so much were barely in this book, and the cction seemed to repeat and repeat and repeat before they finally caught the killer. It was tedious to go over wrong theories of the crime in excruciating detail again and again. I hope the next book in the series will return to the former high standard.

17BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Fev 4, 2020, 6:47am

11. The Riddle of St. Leonard's, Candace Robb

I do like this mystery series, whenever I happen to get one of the books. I like the characters and the setting, the books are grounded in well-researched history, and the plots are always fun to figure out. I got it a bit wrong this time, but not by much, and seeing in what way I'd been wrong was fun.

12. Alanna: The first adventure, Tamora Pierce

I loved these books as a child, and they mostly hold up. Alanna is a wonderful character, and her supporting cast is great. I had forgotten just how much happens already in the first book in the series, and it was lovely to rediscover that. Less comfortable was the way the Bazhir are portrayed, and the white saviour narrative that plays out at the end, with two white protagonists being the prophecied saviours of the Bazhir.
I love George so much, and it's great to see so much of him so early, and of his mother as well. I love how she helps Alanna both as a healer and as a person with her preconceived notions of femininity and strength. You can really see that positive influence later, and it's also just so nice to see both her and George supporting Alanna for who she is and keeping her tethered to her identity through her years-long deception.

13. The Awful German Language, Mark Twain

What a weird essay, but he makes some funny points. I think one thing to know is that Twain criticises the English language almost as much as the German in this, though less obviously. This also contains all the usual complaints about German: gendered nouns, parentheses, long words, verbs at the end of the sentence. That way Twain describes the absurdities that come with this is quite funny. Only the last bit, a Denglische Rede, is less than funny and seems to have barely anything to do with the rest of the book.

18BerlinBibliophile
Fev 5, 2020, 4:46pm

14. The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenides

The way this book is written is very accomplished from a craft perspective. It's the topic that's the problem for me. Why does the world need yet another book writing endlessly about a masturbarory obsession a group of boys has with five girls they see merely as objects to be studied voyeuristically, rather than as people? I would posit that the world does not need that at all.

19FAMeulstee
Fev 6, 2020, 12:36pm

>18 BerlinBibliophile: I read it last year, and completely agree.

20BerlinBibliophile
Fev 6, 2020, 3:59pm

15. My Sister, the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite

I enjoyed how this book keeps getting wilder and wilder. That the protagonist's sister is a serial killer is right there in the title, but somehow the stakes keep getting upped more and more, as well as the emotional turbulence between the sisters. This was a really quick read, and I really enjoyed it and would recommend it for anyone looking for a fun, thrilling afternoon.

>19 FAMeulstee: yeah, I was surprised that this was considered such a classic. I'm glad to see other people had a problem with it as well.

21BerlinBibliophile
Fev 14, 2020, 6:44am

16. Have His Carcase, Dorothy L. Sayers

This was a return to form after the disappointing Five Red Herrings. I liked having Harriet Vane back and more involved in the investigation, and the mystery was interesting, with a surprising resolution. I kept guessing parts of it, but the final twist still really surprised me and worked very well. Nevertheless, I still think that these books are a little too long for their plot. By trimming them just a bit they could be more snappy and enjoyable than they are now, when they tend to drag a little before the end. Still, I'm interested to see what comes next for Harriet and Lord Peter.

22PaulCranswick
Fev 14, 2020, 9:38pm

>15 BerlinBibliophile: I will try to read this one shortly, Miriam. Have had it on the shelves a good while.

23BerlinBibliophile
Fev 16, 2020, 3:57pm

17. False Value, Ben Aaronovitch

Aaaaaaah so good so good so good! I loved having a book in this series that focused more closely on Peter, Nightingale and Beverley again. I love the big ensemble plots the last two books had, but this was nice as well, and there was so much character and relationship development here (especially between Bev and Peter), which was very necessary and great to see. The ethics of Rivers are finally discussed in more depth, and in ways that promise exciting future developents.
The strange world of tech start-ups is the setting here, and Aaronovitch really brings out the humour in that strange environment. Also, Peter mentioned playing Firefly: The Game, which I immediately read aloud to my roommates, who were setting up that very game at the time.
I loved the way Nightingale is becoming ever more integrated in the Met, and the way the Folly reflects that as well. It's nice to see life returning to its halls along with PACE-compliant cells.
All in all, another great entry in one of my all-time favourite series.

24BerlinBibliophile
Fev 17, 2020, 4:07pm

18. Berlin: Biographie einer großen Stadt, Jens Bisky

I really enjoyed this book. I learned a lot about the history of Berlin, and (almost) all of it was really interesting. Berlin has had so very much history that it might seem overwhelming to consider it in one book, but Bisky manages to keep everything clear, showing the connections between city life and larger political contexts as well as the immediate history of this city. I found especially the way he deals with numbers helpful: he describes the population growth at one point in inhabitant numbers, yes, but also in area between modern-day U-Bahn stations. That really helps with visualisation, and thus with understanding, of the history of a complicated, contradictory, messy, wonderful city.

25BerlinBibliophile
Fev 19, 2020, 2:45pm

19. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J K Rowling

Wow, this book is good. I sometimes forget, in the excitement of the later books, in the disappointment in Rowling's Twitter presence, that the series starts with this slim little volume full of magic and friendship and school hijinks. I still love the introductions to Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and so many others in this wonderful wizarding world, and especially to the world itself. But beyond introductions, there are so many things foreshadowed and hinted at that are tantalizing now and come to fruition only books later.
But taken in itself, the book has a really good plot and an amazing plot-twist. It's great to see how it is constructed. I've read this book so many times, and I'm still always really impressed with how many seeds Rowling plants, but also with how many she already harvests here, in the first book.

26BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Fev 22, 2020, 7:26am

20. The Hand on the Wall, Maureen Johnson

What an amazing conclusion to the series. It was the exact right mixture of resolutions I could sort of see coming, and plot twists that blew my mind, but made so much sense in hindsight. I love how much Stevie's friends care about her and force her to care for herself, even as they support her detective work. Such a satisfying conclusion allround.

21. The Ankh-Morpork Archives, Terry Pratchett, Stephen Briggs, Paul Kidby

It's nice to dip back into the weirdness of Ankh-Morpork. This book collects material from the Discworld Diaries, which are beautiful and hilarious but really don't work for me as calendars. So the Ankh-Morpork Archives are a good collection if you want the material but don't want to use the calendar.

27BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Fev 23, 2020, 5:56pm

22. Anna of Kleve: Queen of Secrets, Alison Weir

This book feels way more speculative than the others in this series, but I still enjoyed it very much. Especially the middle portions concerning Anna's marriage to Henry and her divorce, as well as the period afterwards, were fascinating. It was frustrating to read about how little Anna was told while the men were arguing about her future. Anna was an interesting protagonist, especially in contrast to Henry's English wives, because she approaches English life and the English court from an outsider's perspective.
I'm really looking forward to the next book in the series, short though Katherine Howard's tale might be.

28BerlinBibliophile
Fev 25, 2020, 5:46pm

23. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows

This was a delightful palate cleanser after a more depressing read. The characters are charming, and the way they are slowly revealed to each other through the epistolary format of the novel works really well to draw the reader into their cares and relationships and to slowly get to know them along with Juliet. The setting is wonderfully described, I'd love to visit Guernsey sometime. The history in which this book is set is fascinating, and I hope to find some non-fiction to read about the occupation of Guernsey as well.

24. Hangman's Holiday, Dorothy L Sayers

I was a bit disappointed that there was so little of Lord Peter Wimsey in this book, since it was billed as part of the series. The mysteries were still good, and I liked Monty Egg the travelling salesman / detective. Nevertheless I was a bit disappointed.

29thornton37814
Fev 27, 2020, 9:34pm

>28 BerlinBibliophile: You've read quite a few since I last checked in. I loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society when I read it a few years ago. I haven't read that Sayers yet. I joined the Sayers group read this year so I'll make it through the first twelve.

30BerlinBibliophile
Fev 29, 2020, 5:19am

>29 thornton37814: I really enjoyed the Guernsey etc... book so much, it was perfect for a long train journey, to read in peace and occasionally look up at the scenery passing by.

I do enjoy most of the Sayers books very much, there have just been two so far I haven't liked as much. The others were brilliant and funny. I've just discovered that my library has the entire series, so I'm slowly making my way through them.

31BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Mar 6, 2020, 3:49pm

25. Reisende Erzählungen: Tausendundeine Nacht zwischen Orient und Europa, Michael Lailach et al.

This book contains essays on different aspects of the transmission and publishing of the Thousand and One Nights in Europe and the Near and Middle East. I especially enjoyed the sections on the history of illustrations, but there was also a lot of interesting information in the essays on the history pf publication and translation. Plus, the books is full of pictures of manuscripts and beautiful editions, illustrantions of the text and advertisements using the topos. They beautifully illustrate the points made in the text and are just a joy to see.

26. The Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler

This book feels incredibly prescient from today's perspective on climate change, war, and societal breakdown. It's hard to believe it was published almost thirty years ago. Especially the early sections, when protagonist Lauren is still in the walled neighbourhood with her family, feels almost too real. Over all, the book is wonderful, and it was suspenseful and yet hopeful to read about Lauren going on this journey out of her old life and into a new, better, more communal future.

32BerlinBibliophile
Mar 8, 2020, 5:29pm

27. Der Fedendieb, Kirk Wallace Johnson

What a bizarre case, and what a wonderful write-up from Kirk Wallace Johnson. He covers not only the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of rare birds (not to mention their incalculable value to science) from the British Museum, but also the subculture of salmon fly tyers, the history of Alfred Russell Wallace' scientific voyages around the world, the founding of the ornithological museum in Tring, and so much more. Johnson leads the reader through the background and the twists and turns of this case, illustrating strange histories and stranger hobbies senior always keeping hold of the common thread. I really enjoyed reading this book, and recommend it to anyone looking for something truly strange to read about.

33BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Mar 15, 2020, 4:28pm

28. Murder Must Advertise, Dorothy L. Sayers

I think this was my favourite of this series so far. I like that Wimsey does a lot more active investigation here, and has to try to work like a normal person. He doesn't quite succeed, but it was nice to see him try. I also really liked the set-up of the mystery, and the solution is very clever. There also wasn't as much repetition here as in some of the other books in the series, so it felt like the plot was moving faster.

29. Der Ballhausmörder, Susanne Goga

I enjoyed this book very much. There is such a strong sense of place here, of Berlin in the 1920s, but still recognisable in the Berlin of today. Clärchens Ballhaus is still there today, and it's great to see a crime novel set in a place you know. I liked the detective and his team, and I especially appreciated that he's a team player both in his work and in his home life. It's refreshing to see a detective not be an alcoholic divorced loner. The solution was telegraphed for in advance, with chapters from the points of view of the killer and another prospective victim, but the way they found him was surprising and satisfying to read. All in all a very good kind of crime novel, if not exactly groundbreaking.

34BerlinBibliophile
Mar 18, 2020, 3:55am

30. In the Hand of the Goddess, Tamora Pierce

I always enjoy this book much more than I remember. It's great to see Alanna's friendships deepen and grow with the other knights and squires, and to see her open herself up to new experiences. Quite apart from that, the plot works so well. It's so frustrating to see Alanna suspect Roger again and again and then do nothing about it, and the explanation, when it comes, is so good and makes it all worth it.
I also love how much we see of Alanna outside of the context of knighthood training here. In the Drell valley she makes friends with everyone, by listening to them and being interested in their lives, and helping them out with whatever they're doing. And yet, if you asked Alanna why all these people would risk decapitation by rescuing her, I'm sure she'd say she doesn't know, and that anyone would do what she does in making friends with people from all walks of life. But not everyone actually does it, and I love that openness and friendliness about Alanna.

35BerlinBibliophile
Mar 18, 2020, 5:57pm

31. All Systems Red, Martha Wells

I loved this book! Murderbot's journey away from apathy and towards an interest in its own life, as well as its growing understanding of and relationships with humans was so great to read about. This book deals with fascinating themes of personhood and free will, but it is also really, really funny. I loved Murderbot's obsession with its serials, and its constant comparison of real-life situations with things it had seen on the entertainment feed. Very relatable!

36BerlinBibliophile
Mar 21, 2020, 5:33am

32. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

Well, that was a bit pointless to me. I get that it's supposed to be a parable, but I don't think it really succeeds at that. We get both too much information about the characters and plot for a parable, and too little for an enjoyable story. I also didn't like how strongly it focuses on God and determinism.

37PersephonesLibrary
Mar 23, 2020, 9:59am

Can I say that I am relieved that I am not the only one not being enthusiastic about Coelho? Though I will even go provocatively far to claim he is completely overrated. :)

"My Sister, the Serial Killer" is on my to read list - so I will read your commentary after I have finished it.

How is quarantine time in Berlin?

38BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Mar 26, 2020, 11:44am

>37 PersephonesLibrary: I'm working from home and haven't been outside for days. I am really lucky to have a job where I can work from home, even if it isn't as interesting as the tasks I would be doing at the office. In Berlin all the shops except supermarkets and druggists are closed, and the city is spookily empty. Even the wonderful weather isn't tempting people to go outside. How are things with you?
Also, I agree about Coelho ;)

33. Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel

Of course I know the plot of this novel. After all, most of it is history that actually happened. But Hilary Mantel uses such beautiful language that it is a joy to read about even torture and death. I know of no other author who can combine first, third, and even second person narration, and make it seem effortless when she does it. There are about a million charatcers named Thomas in this book, but it never gets confusing, and the cast of characters outside of the court is so clearly and vividly drawn that I felt like they could step off the page and start a conversation with me.

39PaulCranswick
Mar 26, 2020, 10:52pm

Stay safe, Miriam.

40BerlinBibliophile
Mar 27, 2020, 4:18am

>39 PaulCranswick: You too, Paul. Best wishes for you and yours.

34. Dear Oxbridge, Nele Pollatschek

Some chapters in this book are self-aggrandizing and turn in circles without ever getting anywhere. But other chapters are funny and insightfulabd give me a new viewpoint on my own experiences living in England. The one about the standard of living in the UK, especially as regards windows and toilets, is hilarious and so true. The chapter about why the Tories vehemently reject and government subsidies to the poor after having lived in a highly subsidized society at Oxbridge gave me a new insight into this mindset that I hadn't considered before. All in all, a mixed bag.

41BerlinBibliophile
Mar 29, 2020, 4:34pm

35. Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel

Oh man this book is good. So much happens in such a short space, and it still gives so much room to explorations of characters and the deeper politics at play behind rushed events. Somehow Mantel manages to make the most routine meetings suspenseful, and explores the really vital moments in a way that makes it impossible to put down the book. I am super excited to finally get to sink my teeth into the third book.

42PaulCranswick
Abr 3, 2020, 9:19am

Have a lovely, peaceful, safe and healthy weekend, Miriam.

43BerlinBibliophile
Abr 6, 2020, 1:36pm

36. Pride, Ibi Zoboi

This book couldn't seem to decide whether to be one thing or the other. It wasn't quite a Pride & Prejudice adaptation, it didn't really follow the plot or character relationships of that novel. It also wasn't quite a stand-alone novel, because the premise did stick pretty close to P&P, even if the plot didn't follow through. I wish the author had just made this its own novel. I really liked the characters and the setting, but the P&P connection felt a little forced. What I really loved about this book though was Zuri's poems. They flowed so well and I was always happy to see one approach on the page.

44BerlinBibliophile
Abr 11, 2020, 5:28pm

37. My Lady's Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel, Kitty Curran

This book is so weird and super funny. The descriptions are such purple prose as to be entirely hilarious, and the plot careens off wildly from adventure to adventure. I really recommend reading this aloud with friends, with bad accents if at all possble (my Scottish accent is VERY bad, which seemed perfect for the dialogues in this book). This book is ridiculous and I had a GREAT time reading it!

45PaulCranswick
Abr 12, 2020, 12:53am



I wanted my message this year to be fairly universal in a time we all should be pulling together, whatever our beliefs. Happy Celebration, Happy Sunday, Miriam.

46BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Abr 13, 2020, 5:04pm

>45 PaulCranswick: thank you so much Paul! I had a wonderful weekend, and I hope you did too. Happy spring! I hope you and your family are keeping well.

38. The Nine Tailors, Dorothy L. Sayers

I think this is one of the better Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. The cast of characters was interesting and very differentiated, and the topic of bell-ringing was entirely new to me. I found the solution to the mystery genuinely surprising, in a good way. I had suspected a piece of it from the beginning, but the way in which the pieces fit together was new and worked very well. I also really liked the descriptions of community togetherness during the flood. It was nice to read about for obvious current-events reasons.

47BerlinBibliophile
Abr 17, 2020, 6:14am

39. Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers

I liked that this book focused so much on Harriet Vane and her own interior personality and development. The setting at Oxford felt so real, without intruding on the story. The mystery was also pretty neat.I made some guesses pretty early on, and they turned out mostly correct, but without any proof of course. What I didn't like was the end, where the perpetrator was proved right in the statement that the College would hush it all up and not prosecute. Considering there were attempted murders committed, I found it pretty spineless not to publicly reckon with the crime. I guess it's all part of the era and keeping up appearances, but really.
I enjoyed the introduction of Saint-George, and generally the more open way Peter and Harriet talk to each other in this book. And the ending was quite nice. ;)

48BerlinBibliophile
Abr 18, 2020, 5:52pm

40. The Mirror and the Light, Hilary Mantel

I'm really glad I finally got to read the conclusion of the trilogy, but I felt this could have been edited down to be a little shorter and move a little faster. I did like the leisurely style of narration in the first two books, but I thought this one took it a little too far, often showing the same events from Cromwell's childhood as flashbacks that had already been shown in the previous books.
Still, I thought the character work here was really good, and I was quite reluctant to finish the book as death drew ever closer.

41. Busman's Honeymoon, Dorothy L Sayers

Quite a lovely story. As Sayers points out, this book is more about the honeymoon than about the murder, but that suited me quite well. I like there to be a little more character exploration in a mystery, and it was interesting to see Peter and Harriet negotiate their new relationship. I found the solution to the mystery quite ingenious as well.

49BerlinBibliophile
Abr 19, 2020, 4:52pm

42. Der Horror der frühen Medizin, Lindsey Fitzharris

This book was really very interesting. Definitely not something to read while eating, but I learned a lot about Joseph Lister and his experiments to develop and implement antiseptic practise, based on germ theory. There was also a lot of fascinating detail about Victoran surgery in general, and how it was approached in different countries. If you're interested in medical history this is definitely a book to consider.

50BerlinBibliophile
Abr 22, 2020, 10:16am

43. Discount Armageddon, Seanan McGuire

This is what I thought last year when I first read this book: I read this book because I was feeling October-Daye-withdrawal. I didn't like it quite as much as Toby's books, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit.
I liked the plot and the supporting cast, especially Candy and the Aeslin mice, and I liked the balancing act Verity has to pull off between her life as a cryptozooologist and her life as a professional ballroom dancer.
I was less convinced of her little romance with the Covenant guy. I thought he treated her badly, even quite apart from his genocidal tendencies.
My overall first impression of this series was still good, however, so I will keep reading in the hopes that I will really love the next one.

My second read pretty much confirmed the impression I got during my first read, and only made me more curious about the cryptids and Price family members lurking in the background, just waiting to be explored. I tried ordering the rest of the series through some of my local bookshops, but because of Covid-19 restrictions they can't get books from abroad, so I'll have to wait. Now that's a small potato of a problem.

51BerlinBibliophile
Abr 23, 2020, 1:45pm

44. Swing Time, Zadie Smith

I had a very weird reaction to this book: when I was reading, I couldn't put it down, but if I stopped reading, I didn't pick the book back up for months. I think this characterises the ambivalence I felt about the book. It is masterfully crafted, the characters are incredibly real while also far surpassing normality, and the sentences always do just what they're supposed to do. At the same time, I often found myself a bit bored. I loved the bits about the history of dance, but the constant back and forth about Aimee's inconstant philantropy got very tedious and frustrating. It was meant to be, but that doesn't make it any more fun to read. This is a great book, but not for me.

52BerlinBibliophile
Abr 24, 2020, 5:12pm

45. Das zerbrochene Schwert, Tamora Pierce

I have really ambivalent feelings about this book. On one hand, I really love a lot of the elements in the story: Alanna's development, her getting to know more women, the George subplot, Alanna becoming more comfortable using magic... On the other hand, there is the glaring white saviourism and noble savage tropes in how the Bazhir are treated in the story. I can't be objective here, child-me loved Alanna too much. But these issues really hit me in the face when rereading the book now, more than a decade later.

53BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Maio 2, 2020, 12:02pm

46. In the Teeth of the Evidence, Dorothy L. Sayers

Many of these stories were a bit same-y. I did enjoy the Lord Peter Wimsey and Montague Egg stories at the beginning of the book, because it's always nice to see familiar characters again. But after that came many stories featuring new characters, and the format meant that it was hard to get to know and thus care about the new characters before their story was over and we moved on to the next one.

47. Striding Folly, Dorothy L Sayers

This is very short, but I liked the stories better than the ones in the previous collection.

48. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, Olga Tokarczuk

I loved what the author does with language here. Of course this is a translation, but the creative use of words and capitalization comes through wonderfully and reinforces the non-standard worldview of the protagonist. I especially enjoyed the passages about translation, in which the difficulties of translating William Blake are discussed, of course, themselves in translation. I also really loved the possible translations, with more or less creative license, of a Blake poem offered by the characters.
I liked the meandering style of the novel, which works so well for how the protagonist approaches the world and life within it. Past and present blend into a mixture that always keeps back a surprise for the reader. I was expecting the ending, but still found it very satisfying to find out the details of how the characters got there. A really excellent novel.

54BerlinBibliophile
Maio 3, 2020, 4:20pm

49. Bringing Down the Duke, Evie Dunmore

I really liked the characters in this, especially Annabelle's friends. I thought it was lovely how they grew closer through their sleuthing and then stuck by her, whether the current scandal was about an arrest or about an affair.
I thought the romance took a little too long - too many times rehashing the same arguments. But I still liked them together. The politics in this I found a little naive, and they occupied too much space to give the romance enough time to develop more, and too little space to be a relevant plot in and of themselves. I think the strength of this book is really the characters and their relationships.

55BerlinBibliophile
Maio 4, 2020, 1:53pm

50. Tagebuch, 1660-1669, Samuel Pepys

This diary is both an incredibly important historical document and proof that the author was a huge weirdo. He's obsessed with his conquests, but doesn't seem to be at all good at seduction, and it also super prudish about sex. His relationship with his wife reads like the stereotypical sitcom wife / sitcom husband dynamic, with constant ups and downs, him beating her, her finding him in delicto flagranti with another woman, and then going back to being the best of friends the same day.
What's really worth it about this diary is his description of the Great Fire of London in 1666. It's amazing to read an eye-witness account and see through his eyes how to fire spread inexorably, to the point where Pepys sends his wife and his money into the country, but stays in London to witness events himself.

56BerlinBibliophile
Maio 5, 2020, 5:48pm

51. Artificial Condition, Martha Wells

I seriously loved this book. Murderbot is getting to know more artificial intelligences and it's the cutest thing. ART was great, especially how the subtle and not so subtle differences between the two became apparent, like ART not getting the context of media without watching murderbot's reactions. The mystery was cool, and the contract. I really like how the ComfortUnit was handled, especially the ending. I can't wait to read the next one.

57BerlinBibliophile
Maio 9, 2020, 5:39pm

52. Das Juwel der Macht, Tamora Pierce

This book is such an amazing conclusion to Alanna's story. So many great fights, so many awesome characters, and all plot-threads resolved satisfyingly. I can hardly believe how much action and development is packed into this book. I love Alanna, and I love George, and I love imagining their future adventures.

58BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Maio 10, 2020, 1:24pm

53. The Wise Man's Fear, Patrick Rothfuss

I liked most of this book. I just wish it had been shorter by about 200 pages. I was interested in what happened, it just took forever for it to happen. I became much more interested once Kvothe left the university for a time and started meeting new people. I'd like to know how the story ends, I'm just not sure I'd read another 1000 pages to find out.

54. The Starless Sea, Erin Morgenstern

If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be "potential". Sadly, the potential was not fulfilled. There are so many amazing ideas here, for settings and symbols and fairy tales, but no actual story to connect them. The bits I liked best were Zachary's story before he steps through his door and Kat's story before she steps through hers. Once the book moved into the magical realms of the Harbours, there was no longer enough plot to string together the mysterious imagery and the mysterious characters. Sadly, we were never able to geet to know these mysteries better, so I didn't really care about Dorian until the end of the book. How could I, when I knew nothing about him? Overall, I think the author cared too much about style, too little about substance in the writing of this book. Too much metaphor, not enough meaning.

59BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Maio 13, 2020, 10:18am

55. Rogue Protocol, Martha Wells

Murderbot continues to delight. It's always so nice to see Murderbot meeting new characters and immediately getting attached, no matter how hard it tries not to. In this case it was Miki, a sweet human-form bot, and Miki's humans. The plot was interesting and it's cool to see what things Murderbot focuses on and what things it does't. I'm glad it wants to go see Dr. Mensah in person, and I'm excited to see what happens when it does.

56. Exit Strategy, Martha Wells

Yaaaay, Dr. Mensah and the other humans from Preservation are back! I was so happy to see them, and so happy that Murderbot was happy too. Or at least, that it was having an emotion, as it would say. The plot was interesting, and I would like to find out if there was any more behind this conspiracy. I can't wait to read the new murderbot novel.

60BerlinBibliophile
Maio 15, 2020, 12:05pm

57. Obsidian, Jennifer L. Armentrout

Soooo, this was the worst book I read this year. It seems like an even worse Twilight clone. The love interest literally tries to gaslight the protagonist and keeps injuring her with his actions and his disregard for her safety or autonomy. They obviously can't communicate, often going through the same arguments (in the same phrasing) three or four times in a single conversation, and get no further in their understanding. The powers of the aliens make no damn sense either.

61BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Maio 20, 2020, 8:51am

58. Feed, Mira Grant

Goddamn this book is good. Every time I read this book I find more to love in this story and these character. The ending hits incredibly hard, but so does the rest of the book. The more I think about the world-building, the more I am blown away by it. Seanan McGuire did an incredible job with this book, and it feels especially prescient now, during the Covid-19 pandemic. If only people were recating as proactively to this as they do in the world of the Rising.

62BerlinBibliophile
Maio 18, 2020, 12:55am

59. A Journey into the Interior of the Earth, Jules Verne

This book started out slow and frustrating, then gathered steam to become really fun to read and interesting once they came to the Inland Sea, and then the last few chapters were too much for my suspension of disbelief and threw me out of my enjoyment of the story. I enjoyed reading probably a third of this. That doesn't mean the rest is bad, just that I found the Professor very annoying in his selfishness and manipulation. The descriptions of nature and fossils were amazing, though, and the adventures they had on the Inland Sea were thrilling.

63BerlinBibliophile
Maio 20, 2020, 8:51am

60. Deadline, Mira Grant

This book is b r u t a l, but so good. Shaun is very different as a narrator from George, but that's a good thing. It wouldn't do to confuse them, Shaun is confused enough for all of us. I like his style, and though the way he thinks about the world and his place in it is fucked up, it is interesting to read about. I loved getting to spend more time with Mahir, not just online, and Becks is really cool. The way the different types of bloggers are explored in this incredibly scary situation is also cool, and Maggie's house rules. Mira Grant is a master at building tension, and the last hundred pages had me glued to my seat, reading as fast as I possibly could. It's hard to say anything meaningful here without spoiling anything, but the ending blew me away and I can't wait to read the third book in the series.

64BerlinBibliophile
Maio 22, 2020, 5:11am

61. Blackout, Mira Grant

A brilliant ending to a brilliant series. I love that Mira Grant is not willing to give her characters easy endings. Instead, there are morally complicated choices, and they all have consequences. I love these characters, and the lengths they go to in order to give people the right to choose their own paths, based on the truth, not on convenient lies. I especially loved Becks in this book, and I'd really like to learn more about Dr. Abbey and her mad science. Finally, the way Georgia interrogates her own identity was really interesting and I feel I have something new to think about there. What does make us who we are?

65PaulCranswick
Maio 23, 2020, 11:07pm

Wishing you a pleasant weekend, Miriam. I always have mixed feelings finishing a series I really enjoy - it is almost like parting with a true friend.

66BerlinBibliophile
Maio 28, 2020, 4:46pm

>65 PaulCranswick: Thank you Paul, I hope you have a lovely weekend as well, even though it's the next weekend now ;) It's definitely bittersweet. At least I can always revisit the series and see those wonderful characters again.

62. Network Effect, Martha Wells

I looooved this book. Murderbot is the best, and so many of my favourite characters from previous books are back. I also thought the plot was really cool, and the solution at the end made so much sense and was unexpected at the same time. The best bit, though, was the relationships between Murderbot and its humans and the other bots/constructs. Murderbot is so uncomfortable with emotions but has so, so many of them, and it's nice to see it finally start to acknowledge them and act upon them.

67BerlinBibliophile
Maio 30, 2020, 5:06pm

63. Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell

This was really cute! It took me ages to start reading it because it's usually so cringy when pro-fic writers write about fanfic, but this was handled pretty well. But more than Cath's fanfic I liked the other characters who go to college with her. I have a special soft spot for Reagan, she was so great.
I also liked that Cath had more than one issue going on at the same time. Her twin, her dad, her mother, her writing, her other writing, romantic troubles... They weren't shoved in neat little plot-boxes and I liked that it got messy and Cath just had to deal with that. I really liked her with Levi and would actually like to read more about them together.

68BerlinBibliophile
Jun 1, 2020, 4:48pm

64. This is how you lose the time war, Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone

I can genuinely say that this book is like nothing I've read before, and that's a rare compliment. Despite never giving the two protagonists much description or backstory, the authors manage to make them come alive, gloriously individual in a world that doesn't care for such things. I love both their letters and the snippets of narrative in between, and while the story is perfect in its length, I wish I could have stayed with these characters a little longer, seen more of the purple they'll make together.

69BerlinBibliophile
Jun 2, 2020, 5:02pm

65. Midnight Blue-Light Special, Seanan McGuire

I enjoyed this instalment more than the first one, which is a good thing with so many books in the series left for me to read! I'm looking forward to getting to read them.
I liked the way we got to see more of Verity's interactions with the cryptids of New York, and how they had to deal with Dominic more as well. The resolution was really cool and I'm looking forward to learning what comes next for this gang of intrepid cryptozoologists. The world they're operating in is more established now, so it's exciting to see them do amazing things and know they're amazing because I know the normal limits of the world now. Also, I love Istas and was so glad she was in this book more.

70BerlinBibliophile
Jun 9, 2020, 6:30am

66. A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine

I really loved this book and the characters in it. The politics is so interesting, and the book portrays the tension between isolationism and assimilation in the context of Empire so well. There is so much political intrigue here, and I was so excited to see that it doesn't all go the way I expected it to.
I thought Martine portrayed that absolute fish out of water experience super well, especially the double vision of seeing things both through Mahit's own cultural experience and what she's learned all her life about Teixcalaan. The theme of the way the very language proscribes the way identity is conceived of is super cool to read about throughout the story.
I really loved Mahit and Three Seagrass and I hope they'll appear again in the series, and together.

71BerlinBibliophile
Jun 13, 2020, 6:37am

67. The Deep, Rivers Solomon

I loved the premise of this book. It is so interesting, and I wish the alternate history of the wajinru had been explored in more depth. The segments about Yetu always felt a little too long and repetitive to me, but other than that, this book is great. It explores one of the great tragedies and injustices of human history in a transformative, generative way, and that was great to read about.

72PaulCranswick
Jun 13, 2020, 8:46am

>70 BerlinBibliophile: That does sound very interesting, Miriam. I shall keep a look out for it.

73BerlinBibliophile
Jun 15, 2020, 4:53am

68. Half-off Ragnarok, Seanan McGuire

I really enjoyed this book. Alex is a great narrator, and I especially enjoyed the bits about herpetology and the zoo. I liked having more of the extended Price family take part, and the greater interaction with cryptid communities as well. The world of this series is really getting fleshed out now and I enjoy that very much. The internal politics of cryptid communities were fascinating, and really personalised them as more than a monolith of species traits.
Crow was the best, obviously, but I missed the Aeslin mice.
I do hope we can see more of Shelby in the next book, and maybe in her area of expertise this time.

74BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Jun 17, 2020, 5:07pm

69. The Haunting of Tram Car 015, P. Djèlí Clark

I really enjoyed this story and the themes it explored, but I had some issues with the length. There wasn't enough space to really get to know the characters and develop them, but there were scenes in the middle that dragged too much. I think it would have worked better as a novelette. That said, I thought the setting was super inventive, and I would love to read more stories set there. The final confrontation was really good as well, and the backdrop of an alternate history suffrage movement was cool, though I wish it had been explored more.

70. The Wicked King, Holly Black

I enjoyed this book much more than I expected to. None of the characters are very likeable, but that doesn't really matter when the political intrigue is interesting enough. Throw in some backstabbing and I'm sold. The author didn't really need to backstab me by ending on a cliffhanger though...

75BerlinBibliophile
Jun 17, 2020, 5:07pm

71. Minor Mage, T. Kingfisher

I had a lot of fun with this little book. It features Oliver, a very minor mage indeed, and his armadillo familiar with a snarky sense of humour. I didn't know this book was what I always wanted, but now that I've read it I want to show it to everyone who might also appreciate sarcastic armadilloes and quite serious themes packaged in short little tale of questing for rain and questioning your place in the world.

76BerlinBibliophile
Jun 18, 2020, 5:09pm

72. Pocket Apocalypse, Seanan McGuire

I really enjoyed this plot and this new setting, I just wish Shelby had gotten to be the competent one for once. Her family is kinda the worst, and their worstness kept going in circles, which was a bit frustrating. I think I'll be glad to be returning to the Prices in America. Other than that, the werewolves in this book are a super interesting take on the mythos and it was fascinating to learn more about them and reevaluate preconceptions as the story went on.

77PaulCranswick
Jun 20, 2020, 10:05am

Another week perhaps to 75, Miriam?

78BerlinBibliophile
Jun 21, 2020, 4:41pm

73. The City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty

Wow! I loved this book. The worldbuilding is spectacular, and it feels like such a lived-in world, full of as-yet unexplored corners that promise future adventures. I also liked the portrayal of a society in which there are no clearly good or evil groups, just many different end goals that are pursued more or less pragmatically and ruthlessly.
The characters are great as well. They have such different attitudes and worldviews, yet as a reader I love them all despite their diametrically opposed agendas. The ending of the book certainly promised more character development and conflict for the future, which I am looking forward to very much.

Well, I may love the book even more the second time I read it. I just really love Nahri and am excited to find out what happens in the next book. I hope we see more of the politics of Daevabad as well.

>>77 PaulCranswick: I think probably less than that, Paul :) The year has been pretty terrible, but the quarantine has given me more time to read.

79PaulCranswick
Jun 27, 2020, 5:04am

Wishing you a pleasant weekend, Miriam.

80BerlinBibliophile
Jun 27, 2020, 5:24am

74. The Light Brigade, Kameron Hurley

To me, the first two thirds of the book were disjointed and not enjoyable to read. I get that the disjointedness was part of the plot of the novel, but it's hard to care about any of the characters when they keep getting introduced and then dying within a couple of pages. If I hadn't been trying to read all Hugo nominees before the voting deadline, I would not even have finished this book, it was that boring and incoherent to me.
After about two thirds of the book it does get better. Some characters start sticking around, and the protagonist makes some decisions for herself instead of passively letting herself be dragged through the story. By the end, I was enjoying the book, but enjoying the last quarter isn't really enough to justify my investing the time of reading the whole thing.

>79 PaulCranswick: thanks, and to you as well, Paul!

81BerlinBibliophile
Jun 29, 2020, 10:19am

75. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, Stuart Turton

This was a fascinating way to approach a murder mystery, and the implications the ending has for the rest of the setting seem worth exploring. The story took a while to get going, but once it did, I was interested and wanted the mysterious amnesiac protagonist to solve the murder and solve his questions about his own identity as well. The setting of the crumbling estate trying to return to its former glory only once more is suitably creepy, with plenty of hiding spots for potential murderers to jump out of, and very resonant with the themes of the novel as well.

That's 75! I can't believe I reached 75 this early in the year. It's not even half over! Effects of the quarantine I gues...

82lkernagh
Jun 29, 2020, 11:08am

Congratulations on 75 books read! Also, great review of the Turton book.

83FAMeulstee
Jun 29, 2020, 11:17am

Congratulations on reaching 75, Miriam!

84drneutron
Jun 30, 2020, 8:38am

Congrats!

85BerlinBibliophile
Jul 2, 2020, 7:18am

>82 lkernagh: >83 FAMeulstee: >84 drneutron: thanks everyone! Here's to fifty more this year ;)

76. The Dragon Pearl, Yoon Ha Lee

I really enjoyed this book. The first couple of chapters were a little clunky with their set-up, but once Min's journey starts it's fast-paced and very fun. I like the characters, and they have a surprising but very welcome amount of complexity for a middle-grade novel. The setting is fascinating, and I'll definitely want to read about Min's continuing adventures. I hope we'll see Sujin and Haneul again as well. I bet we haven't seen the last of Min's fox powers either.

86BerlinBibliophile
Jul 3, 2020, 3:59pm

77. Planetfall, Emma Newman

The setting and ideas being explored in this book were interesting. However the protagonist is in a constant spiral of anxiety and self-hatred, and it only gets worse throughout the book. She is relentlessly miserable, and thus it feels like a drag to read about her constantly circling misery. It's not like there are other characters around whom one might like, they're all just as bad. I was glad it was over.

87BerlinBibliophile
Jul 4, 2020, 6:34am

78. The Kingdom of Copper, S.A. Chakraborty

This was a great second book. I was a bit taken aback by the big time jump, but once I got into it I could not stop reading.I love how complicated the political situation in Daevabad is, with no clear answers and no obvious good or bad guys. Dara's storyline was a bit sparse and depressing, but I expect a big payoff to that in the finale of the trilogy. Ali and Nahri on the other hand had big storylines full of confusion and compromise, and I loved that. I think there needs to be more fantasy where a bad king is not simply replaced by a good king who can fix all problems because he is good. Daevabad has a deeply violent and divisive history, and I'm glad Chakraborty did not take the easy route in politics. Even Muntadhir is fleshed out more and has his moments of competency and compassion.
The ending of the book sets up so many new plot-threads, and I for one can't wait to read the Empire of Gold and see them resolved.

88PaulCranswick
Jul 5, 2020, 8:41am

Well done on passing 75 books already, Miriam.

89BerlinBibliophile
Jul 6, 2020, 10:31am

79. The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow

I was a bit put off by the first twenty pages or so, but then the book drew me in and didn't let me go until I'd finished it in one sitting. There is so much subtle set-up throughout, and it pays off so beautifully at the end. All my slight frustrations with the characters were revealed to have been for a very good reason. The world-building in this book is also phenomenal. I wish we had gotten to see more of the other worlds, but what we did see was fantastic and strange. I both want and don't want a sequel. I think the book stands perfectly on its own, but I'd love to explore some of the other worlds January didn't get to see.

>88 PaulCranswick: thanks Paul! Definitely a side-effect of quarantine.

90BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Jul 9, 2020, 12:17pm

80. The Empire of Gold, S.A. Chakraborty

I LOVE this book. It's pretty much a perfect ending to the trilogy and I couldn't be happier with it. It's great to see so many things come full circle. Nahri, Ali and Dara have developed so much throughout the series, and it's wonderful to see them come into their own. There was so much character development across this book. Some was quire rapid, but always believable as the consequence of the events happening to and around them.
The worldbuilding continues to be stellar, and I'm both glad that the series came to such a great conclusion and sad that I won't get to read another dozen books set in this wonderful world.

81. Upright Women Wanted, Sarah Gailey

This book has a really cool concept and style. I just wish the author had taken a little bit more space to flesh out the worldbuilding and characters. As it is I liked it, but I could easily have loved it with just a little more time with these people and their future adventures. I'd love to read about Esther and Cye going off as librarians. And I'd really like to know more about what happened to get from our world to theirs. Not that I'd complain about more horseriding as part of daily life, but what happened?

91BerlinBibliophile
Jul 13, 2020, 10:56am

82. Catfishing on CatNet, Naomi Kritzer

This book surprised me. I wasn't expecting this much suspense and engagement with complex topics from a book I picked up by chance. Steph and her friends may be young, but even beyond the AI-and-stalker-problems they have complex emotions and identities to navigate. The scenes with the sex education robot were hilarious, but they also serve to draw attention to a current problem with inadequate or misleading sex education by heightening it just slightly.
The frequent, natural discussions of identity (gender, sexuality, or otherwise) were lovely to see, and integrated so well in the fabric of the text.
The AI bits were wonderful to read about, and I enjoyed the way CheshireCat gets more and more involved in the lives of their Clowder. In the beginning, even sending some books to a teacher has to be carefully evaluated, by the end robot armies are ordered up without a second thought. The way ethics and personhood are shaped by friendship was one of the themes of the book, and one that is discussed in a really interesting way.

92BerlinBibliophile
Jul 16, 2020, 3:22pm

83. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Suzanne Collins

I enjoyed this book much more than I expected to. I was worried it might trivialize the atrocities Coriolanus Snow commits in the original Hunger Games trilogy, but I should have trusted Collins more than that. Yes, the reader feels for Snow, but the book is an examination of how someone can slide into authoritarianism and start condoning violence they would have blanched at a short while ago, while still believing themselves to be fundamentally decent people, "pure as the driven snow". It was fascinating. That said, I felt that the first two thirds were much stronger than the last. The final section, I thought, could have been fleshed out more to show the gradual descent and the self-delusions about morality more deeply. It also seemed a bit contrived how *everything* connected back to Katniss's experiences in the hunger games and the revolution. I wish this book would have done a bit less retroactive foreshadowing and stood more separately from the rest of the Panem books.
Collins always has something relevant to say, and the discussions about chaos and control demonstrate our current global discourse on radicalisation and growing authoritarianism very handily. It's not a ham-handed metaphor, but the implications are clear. Just as they were with Katniss and the Capitol. This is the rare prequel that delivers on the promise of the original trilogy.

84. Die Amazonas-Tagebücher, Henry Walter Bates

This is a really beautiful edition. The cloth cover, the lovely paper, the facsimile illustrated pages from Bates' journal, make the reading experience a pleasure for the senses.
The content is also really interesting. I just wish the extracts from Bates' diaries had been longer. The descriptions of the flora and fauna of the Amazon river are fascinating, and surprisingly well written, for a Victorian scientist. I wish I could also have read more about his journey and his time with Wallace. I think I'll have to seek out the unabridged diaries to learn more about Bates and his time up and down the Amazon.

93BerlinBibliophile
Jul 18, 2020, 4:18pm

85. Wild Magic, Tamora Pierce

Yep, I still love this book. This time I spent more time focusing on Daine and Numair's student-teacher relationshp. That's coloured by what happens later, but for now it's so sweet and supportive. He lets her work out her own issues and then come to him instead of pressuring her and insisting that he should know her secrets. I also like that they just plain have fun hanging out together, especially before he starts teaching her.
Cloud is, as always, a delight.

86. Blonde Roots, Bernardine Evaristo

This book is such a well-done satire. It's immaculately researched in its literary and historical parallels, and that makes it incredibly effective in conveying its point. Doris as a narrator brings in an urgency and immediacy that I don't often see, and the extracts from "The Flame" give so much context and world-building. Together, they illuminate the issue of slavery in this reversed world in which "Europanes" have been enslaved and "Aphrikans" run the slave trade. Evaristo challenges preconceived norms in her readers all the time, and the book is a great way to start thinking about the arbitrary nature of slavery and history itself.

94BerlinBibliophile
Jul 22, 2020, 10:09am

87. Goblin Market and Other Poems, Christina Rossetti

I love Rossetti's poetry. Her imagery is so lush and vibrant, and her characters so alive they almost leap from the page. It was lovely to read her poetry purely for pleasure, without the pressure of a thesis looming in the background. My favourite is "Song (When I am dead, my dearest)". The thought of the refreshing rain on the soft grass is wonderful, and such a restful, peaceful concept of death.

95BerlinBibliophile
Jul 26, 2020, 11:29am

88. Wolf Speaker, Tamora Pierce

I liked this book much better than I remember from the first time I read it. This book is mostly contained in a new location with with almost entirely new characters. As a teen myself, I wanted more time with Onua and Alanna and the other Riders. But now I appreciate the fact that Daine needs some time alone to grow and learn about herself. She makes amazing progress in this book, and it's because she's forced to rely mostly on herself, with the help of her People friends. I especially liked Quickmunch, but the wolves are great too.

96BerlinBibliophile
Jul 27, 2020, 9:27am

89. Living with the gods, Neil MacGregor

My one criticism of this book is that MacGregor quotes mostly outside academics living thousands of miles away when talking about the modern-day practises of minority cultures, rather than talking to people who actually belong to these cultures and practise these beliefs.
Other than that, it is a fascinating book, even for a non-religious person like me. The way MacGregor compares the cultural practices of different faiths which speak to some of the same human impulses makes it much easier to find points of similarity and understanding between concepts which seem at first to have nothing to do with one another. The very frequent illustrations make what he writes about much more tangible (and are a good reason to spring for the more expensive hardcover) and allows the reader to imaging the past more complexly. I would really recommend this book, whatever someone's level of engagement with religion may be. This book is more about history and community than about one faith or another.

97BerlinBibliophile
Jul 30, 2020, 2:44pm

90. The Cruel Prince, Holly Black

The political intrigue was my favourite part of this book. I occasionally wanted to shake Jude and Taryn for their naive blundering around, and I can only hope they'll wise up in the next book. Jude has already started, though her position is pretty precarious. The romance stuff wasn't that interesting to me, but I'm willing to overlook that in favour of farie lore and backstabbing.

98BerlinBibliophile
Ago 1, 2020, 4:45pm

91. The Queen of Nothing, Holly Black

I enjoyed the conclusions to this series. Some of it was pretty predictable, but at least it was executed in an interesting manner, and there was one plottwist I definitely didn't anticipate. As always, the political machinations and mutual manipulations were what interested me most, while the teenage drama was the price I had to pay to get to the politics. I thought the ending was good and wrapped up the relationships and plot-threads neatly, but with enough room for growth in the future.

92. Tipping the Velvet, Sarah Waters

Nancy rebuilds herself again and again and again in "Tipping the Velvet", and each time it is different and fascinating to read about. Her interiority is complex and conflicting, and the way she moulds herself to her new circumstances and partners while still essentially staying herself is portrayed perfectly by Sarah Waters. It's great to read about non-conforming Victorian women: not conforming to gender and sexual norms, to political and moral standards, in a thousand different, individual ways. I enjoyed this book immensely, and would happily have read just as many pages about Nancy's life after the end of the book.

99PaulCranswick
Ago 2, 2020, 11:34pm

More great reading and interesting succinct reviews.

We are neck and neck this year in terms of books read.

100PaulCranswick
Ago 2, 2020, 11:36pm

100 posts also up, Miriam.

When I read your reviews, I am sure that you would have a lot to say on many things, given the insightfulness of what you do say.

101BerlinBibliophile
Ago 3, 2020, 4:28am

93. Tales from the Folly, Ben Aaronovitch

I had read most of these short stories before, but it was still nice to have them all in one conventient place. And some of them were new to me. I enjoyed all of them very much. I think Aaronovitch often ends the stories a bit abruptly, but once I got used to that it was fine. And I really love any extra bit about Peter and the others from the Rivers of London stories, especially Abigail and Dominic.

>100 PaulCranswick: yes, I was really surprised to find myself reading so much this year. And so many posts! Thank you :)

102PaulCranswick
Ago 3, 2020, 8:39am

>101 BerlinBibliophile: Welcome Miriam. Will be chasing you all the way to 100 books!

103BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Ago 6, 2020, 5:04pm

94. I'll be gone in the dark, Michelle McNamara

This book was really interesting, and written with a lot of compassion for the victims of this serial killer. A lot of times I find true crime writing dwelling gratuitously on horror and violence, and McNamara avoids that. She conveys the terror her subject caused, but it never feels voyeuristic. Instead, it's more like a puzzle with a thousand moving pieces and a hundred false leads. Still, she leads the reader through the labyrinth without straying, condensing and presenting the evidence and the many, many people affected without getting confusing.
I wish there had been a postscript describing what happened after the publication of the book, though. A lot of McNamara's deductions seem to have been right, it would have been interesting to read about those connections.

>102 PaulCranswick: happy racing, then! :D

104BerlinBibliophile
Ago 15, 2020, 5:29pm

95. Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann

This book is really well-written, and presents a ton of information in an accessible, coherent way. Grann doesn't just relate facts, he tells a story, one lets the reader see the real human beings behind the statistics of death. Especially the writing about Mollie Burkhart was moving. The many twists and turns before (at least a small part of) the guilty parties were put in jail are fascinating and infuriating to follow, and Grann does reckon with the many failures of law enforcement the Osage were forced to endure.

105BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Ago 23, 2020, 12:44pm

96. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

This year I read the book with a book club, a couple of chapters at a time. We read each section through a theme, and there was always so much to be discussed, whether I'd thought of it in my own reads or whether it was a new thought brought up through the close reading and the discussion. This time, Mr. Bennet came in for a lot more criticism than I usually give him, and Mrs. Bennet was more relatable to me. They may go about it the wrong way, but Mrs. Bennet has good intentions and does her best, but is prevented a lot of the time by her husband, who really fails as a husband and father by the standards of his time and position in life. I also focused more on how painfully young Lydia is throughout this book, and how difficult her life will probably be after the "happy end". It was great to hear about the different ways my fellow book club members approached this book because of their different cultural and educational backgrounds, and how many parallels to our own lives there were to be found.
Pride and Prejudice is such a rich text, and very much rewards a close reading in every single chapter.

97. The Racetrack Gangs, Dick Kirby

Honestly, this book is pretty bad. The time and the topic are very interesting, as is some of the information Kirby relays. But it is written in such a dry, abrupt, confused style that it is hard to follow, never mind get invested. Kirby often starts a story, mentions people whose names have never appeared before as if the reader is supposed to know them, jumps into a different crime those people would commit a couple of years later, then returns to the original story, only to finish it in two dry sentences. I would not have thought that gang warfare and racing crimes could be made so boring. Most of the book is written very impersonally, as if summarizing police reports, but sometimes the author will suddenly intrude on the narrative with personal anecdotes or political commentary, which feels very out of place.
It is obvious that the author is very knowledgeable about his subject, but he does not manage to tell a compelling story or develop a coherent theory of the crimes he describes so curtly.

106BerlinBibliophile
Set 2, 2020, 8:52am

98. Emperor Mage, Tamora Pierce

Not my favourite Tortall book, but contains one of my absolute favourite scenes of all times: Daine's Dinosaur Smash.
Some of the ways in which the Carthaki are portrayed feel uncomfortable to read in hindsight, but most of the rest of the book still holds up. I love the way in which Daine grows up over the course of the books, and this is a great example of someone who has responsibilities beyond their age but is still definitely a teenager, with all the volatility that entails. And Pierce's heroines get to be *angry*, which I really appreciate.

107BerlinBibliophile
Set 4, 2020, 4:05pm

99. Walking to Aldebaran, Adrian Tchaikovsky

This definitely went in a different direction than I expected it to, and that was a good thing. I really liked the protagonist's chatty narration, even as everything slowly (or rather quickly) went to hell. I thought the ending was a bit too abrupt. I liked the worldbuilding, the sheer weirdness of the alien creatures, the way humans immediately pack-bond with anything even vaguely sentient-seeming, and the pop culture references.

108BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Set 6, 2020, 6:20am

100. The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson

This was the kind of non-fiction book I most enjoy: one focusing on people's lives during and reactions to big historical events. Larson writes about the Blitz, of course, but he also focuses on the lives and loves of the people directing the war effort in Churchill's circle. It was definitely interesting to see where the work was getting done - whether that was in country house retreats or bathtubs. Especially the bits from Mary Churchill's diary were always interesting, and it was great to get a young person's perspective.
I was a bit annoyed with the constant focus on the US, from converting all measurements into American to a strong focus on how public opinion in the US shifted back and forth about the war. Yes, Churchill concentrated on getting American aid, but surely not to the exclusion of all else? One mistake that irked me was a German city being spelled "München Gladbach" instead of "Mönchen Gladbach", the real spelling. The error suggests that it is in some way connected to München, which it absolutely is not.
But these are minor issues that didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book overall.

I can't believe I've already read 100 books this year! Time flies, and yet a quarter of the year is still left...

109BerlinBibliophile
Set 10, 2020, 3:38pm

101. Space Struck, Paige Lewis

I really loved the imagery Lewis employs, and their word choices are very creative and sometimes startling, making me think more about the importance of words. I didn't really connect with the strong religious themes in this collection, but there were still some beautiful poems here. My favourite was The Moment I Saw A Pelican Devour, especially the bits about the radium girls.

110BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Set 15, 2020, 3:50pm

102. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid

This book tells a pretty simple story, but stays fascinating and engaging from first to last. Evelyn Hugo is a complicated woman, and we learn about her through her own words, as unreliable as they may be. The way she shapes her narrative with and through Monique was very interesting, but I'd honestly wanted to learn a little more about Monique herself, outside of her connection to Evelyn. I guess that's another way that Evelyn draws all the attention in a room, as Monique describes so often: she even does it in a book ostensibly told from Monique's point of view.

103. Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir

On my second read I realised how many nuances I had missed and also how many mysteries there still are to solve. I love Gideon herself, with her off-colour jokes and her memes and her social awkwardness, even more, if that is even possible. But I appreciate Harrow more as well, which is a good thing as I'm going into the sequel.

111BerlinBibliophile
Set 19, 2020, 3:52pm

104. Harrow the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir

Welp. I spent a considerable portion of this book confused, but I was entertained for every page. It was great to dive back into this world and explore this almost entirely new setting, and mostly new characters. It feels spoilery to say anything about them, so I'll just say that I really enjoyed the soap opera aspects of Lyctorhood, as well as the meme potential. This book is hilarious (provided you have a thorough knowledge of the memes of the 2010s) and heartbreaking and moving. The last 100 pages were perhaps my favourite, containing great character bits and momentous revelations and emotional upheavals at a breakneck pace.
I can't wait for the next one.

105. Shards of Honor, Lois McMaster Bujold

I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. I read it for a challenge, a book published before I was born. But it actually didn't read very antiquated at all. I really enjoyed Cordelia's narration and her way of approaching the many upheavals her life goes through in these pages. Her relationship with Vorkosigan is sudden, and then quite drawn-out while they have other things going on. I appreciated the way the romance was clearly important to them, but not more than their duty or homes or the war going on around them. I'm very curious to find out how they fare in the next book!

112BerlinBibliophile
Set 24, 2020, 12:45pm

106. Nemesis Games, James S.A. Corey

I had an absolute blast with this book. Even though the crew gets split up, the found family themes are stronger than ever. I love how complex the political situation in this universe is, and that all the big plot events in the books have permanent consequences that change the status quo of the world. Some bits were really suspenseful, and from the halfway-point I was on the edge of my seat. This book really reinvigorated my interest in the series.

113BerlinBibliophile
Set 30, 2020, 3:45pm

107. Die Gehilfin des Bienenzüchters, Laurie R. King

I liked the idea of this book much more than the real thing. The concept of Holmes taking up with another detective, a young, female one at that, is interesting, and I hope the series will get better. But I couldn't get past the frequent forays into racist disguises and the way the narration jumps back and forth. We're told everything three times: the first time as a "I couldn't have known that Homes and I would experience such-and-such this summer", then the actual narrative, then "this thing we experienced last summer strengthened our partnership". This removed any actual tension or suspense from the plot. If we're constantly told that what happens next is their greatest challenge ever, it quickly becomes boring when nothing actually ever happens. Also, the mystery is incredibly lazy and clichéed.

108. Once & Future, Amy Rose Capetta and Cory McCarthy

Cool concept, terrible execution. The characters' feelings and relationships flipflop between love, hate, contempt, pity, all within a singly two-page conversation. Nothing feels meaningful because everything that actually happens in glossed over in favour of constantly rehashed relationship drama. The constant emotional whiplash felt so deeply fake, like these are the story beats they have to hit to make the plot move, no matter how little sense it makes emotionally. Everything moves super quickly, without getting the space to develop. Whether that's plot or relationships or character development, it's all either rushed or skipped. And then there's a totally unneccessary cliffhanger, promising more of the same disappointment. Needless to say, I will not continue reading the series.

109. Faces in the Crowd, Valeria Luiselli

If this hadn't been a Life's Library pick, I wouldn't have finished it.
This book feels empty. The narrators are entirely detached from life, and so is the reader detached from the characters. The timelines are cyclical, but nothing much actually happens, so you just follow miserable people through their miserable, occasionally infuriatingly boring lives. Throw in a bunch of casual racism and it was very hard to get through this.

114BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Out 4, 2020, 3:16pm

110. A Killing Frost, Seanan McGuire

I love this series, and I love that Seanan McGuire is always willing to make big changes to the status quo of these books, and then to explore the fallout from that.
It's great seeing Toby and the crew again (especially loved Walther's absolute done-ness), and to finally get some answers to questions that have been a long time coming. I'm super excited to see where the story goes from here.

111. Exhalation, Ted Chiang

Some of the stories were great, some were forgettable. Many of them were too long for their concept. I think this whole book could have benefited from having more of it cut. The ideas themselves were great though, it was the execution I sometimes had problems with.

115BerlinBibliophile
Out 8, 2020, 4:28am

112. The Princess Saves Herself In This One, Amanda Lovelace

I liked this collection, but not as much as I was expecting to. I like the style and the metaphors, but they got repetitive after a while, as they never seemed to change throughout the book.
My favourite poem was in he last section, about the leaves falling and returning.

113. Big Damn Hero, James Lovegrove

I think this tie-in novel was pretty well done. It was recognisably set in the Firefly 'verse, and the characters were pretty much in character. I did like the plot, though I wish there had been more time spent on the crew working together and just hanging out. The author does add to Mal's backstory, but since it seemed to fit his character I was pretty much fine with that. I think I'll continue with this series.

116PaulCranswick
Out 8, 2020, 4:33am

>113 BerlinBibliophile: Interesting comments on Luiselli's book, Miriam. I read Story of my Teeth and found it quirky but mildly diverting, but wasn't blown away by it by any means.

117BerlinBibliophile
Out 9, 2020, 5:20pm

114. A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor, Hank Green

Okay, so, this book had a lot of important things to say. But mostly I'm dying to scream about my excitement about these characters being back. I love how complexly Hank Green imagines these very different people, including the antagonists. It's refreshing to see such fully realised characters in a novel with some pretty fantastical elements. And that fantastical sci-fi side comes out much more strongly in this book than in the previous one, and I for one really liked that.
On to the important bits. My favourite sentence in this book, and one that will surely stay with me for a long time, was this: "You will always struggle with not feeling productive until you accept that your own joy can be something you produce." Hank Green, capturing one of the central conflicts of my life and, I think, the lives of many people at the present moment. This book does feel a little prescient in how it portrays isolation and social distance and the disconnectedness that comes with only being able to see friends and family through social media. But it never felt despondent for all that. In the book, and in life, we can fight against apathy and disconnection by building communities together.

118BerlinBibliophile
Out 10, 2020, 5:20pm

115. Rock Manning Goes For Broke, Charlie Jane Anders

This book is very, truly weird. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading it. Every page escalates further, right up until the end. I'm not quite sure what the book was telling me, but it did it memorably.

119BerlinBibliophile
Out 16, 2020, 3:41am

116. The Realms of the Gods, Tamora Pierce

I love Daine and I love this series, but there are some seriously uncomfortable developments in this book regarding Daine and Numair.
Other than that, I loved the duckmole god and their journey through the Realms of the Gods, and I liked how the theme of nothing being purely good or evil is explored further here. Rikash is as always a delight, especially now that Daine admits to herself that she likes him.

120PaulCranswick
Out 17, 2020, 10:14pm

Hope you have a nice Sunday, Miriam.

121BerlinBibliophile
Out 20, 2020, 2:08pm

>120 PaulCranswick: thanks, Paul. Have a great week!

117. Shapers of Worlds, ed. Edward Willett

I enjoyed this anthology. I liked how different the stories were from one another, with a wide range of fantasy, sci-fi, dystopia, steampunk and everything in between. My favourites were Fonda Lee's "Welcome to the Legion of Six", Seanan McGuire's "In Silent Streams, Where Once the Summer Shone" and "The Knack of Flying" by Shelley Adina Bates.

122BerlinBibliophile
Out 26, 2020, 4:30pm

118. Into the Drowning Deep, Mira Grant

I really love these characters, and they are what I kept thinking about after finishing the book, along with the scary sirens. My second read-through was just as suspenseful as my first, even though I knew what would be coming. I was still right there with the characters, reading with bated breath as they made amazing and terrible discoveries and decisions. Also, I love that for Mira Grant the trope isn't Bury Your Gays, it's Bury Everybody But Your Gays.

119. Black Witch Magic, Mila Nicks

I really liked this book! The characters were great. I loved Selene's friendship with Noelle, and all the witchy worldbuilding. I thought the romance worked really well, I liked Selene and Aiden together. Some of the word choices were a bit weird, but I put that down to quirkiness so it didn't bother me much. I had expected to enjoy the romance, but I was surprised by how much I liked the way Nicks describes the small town with its agressive holiday cheer, the magical life running through the mundane in the setting. I'd like to read more of this.

123BerlinBibliophile
Out 27, 2020, 11:08am

120. Conan Doyle for the Defense, Margalit Fox

This book was so interesting! I really enjoyed the style it was written in, and the author makes the case very clearly. There was a lot of background on all the important figures, from Conan Doyle's earlier sleuthing to Slater's family back home. It gave the book more of a sense of continuity and reality. It wasn't just a clever story an author came up with, it was a real miscarriage of justice that hurt real people. Of course I'd have liked to find out who the real murderer was, but more than a century on that just isn't feasible. To me, this was more about the attitudes and criminal justice system of the age, and I would have liked to read more about that from this author. I'll look out for her other books.

124BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Out 30, 2020, 4:22am

121. Peace Talks, Jim Butcher

This world is still very cool and I like all the secondary characters. But it keeps getting more and more annoying how Butcher uses the Winter Mantle to excuse a constant stream of mysogynistic, violent throughts from Dresden. It's not helped by the fact that somehow, for plot reasons, Dresden spends a lot of time hanging out with naked women but being oh so noble by not immediately trying to rape them. These issues have always been there, but in the long wait for this book they have become more and more intolerable to me.
I like that Dresden is finally starting to work with his allies more, and think ahead a little. Karrin is a delight as always, and it was cool to see different sides to both Lara Raith and Mab. The escalation at the end of the book is big and splashy, and I hope the next book can deliver what the cliffhanger promises.

122. On Immunity: An Innoculation, Eula Biss

This book is very readable and has lots of interesting information to offer. Biss explains where anti-vaccinators are coming from, their fears and concerns. I think I understand that a little better now, even though I don't agree with it in the slightest. Biss brings in lots of historical examples of how people have tried to prevent disease. The discussion of the weaponisation of disease and vaccination was fascinating and horrible to read about.
Biss also refutes most of the claims and fears of anti-vaccinators. I just think that she gives too much space to the fears, and not enough to the science. Even though her conclusions are that vaccinations are important, she spends so much time detailing erroneous fears and so little going into the reasons why vaccination is important and safe that the book doesn't read as balanced as Biss would like it to seem.
Biss also draws parallels to metaphors of disease and how they shape our thinking. Dracula is a recurring theme, and it was interesting to think about how people reacted to vampires then and now.

125BerlinBibliophile
Nov 2, 2020, 8:59am

123. The Empress of Salt and Fortune, Nghi Vo

I really loved the style of narration in this book. The chapters start with Chih recording the contents of the house and then lead to Rabbit's memories of her time with the empress, sparked by the objects Chih is describing. The importance of physical objects, and yet the much greater importance of the intangible memories associated with them, is conveyed beautifully in the text. I'd love to read more about this world and these characters, but at the same time the novella feels very complete and conclusive in itself. I definitely recommend it.

124. The Hound of the Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle

This is one of my favourite Holmes stories, mostly because it's really a Watson AND Holmes story. Watson spends much of the time alone, investigating very successfully by himself. Conan Doyle's descriptions of the moor and Baskerville Hall are deliciously atmospheric and spooky, and the solution to the mystery is very satisfying.

126BerlinBibliophile
Nov 3, 2020, 5:40pm

125. Northanger Abbey, Val McDermid

All in all I really enjoyed this book. Edinburgh Fringe is a wonderful stand-in for Regency Bath and McDermid kept all the characters recognisable while giving them modern preoccupations, like John Thorpe's car. Especially Isabella Thorpe is pitch-perfect, and her texts and emails are an unreadable delight. The only bit I really didn't like is the changed ending, the reason for General Tilney throwing Cat out in the middle of the night. The entire time, the set-up has been the same as in Austen's original, that he's obsessed with money and status and thinks she'll inherit from the Allens. But at the end Henry reveals that it's actually because Tilney thought Cat was a lesbian, and in love with Ellie Tilney. That makes no sense and hadn't been set up at all. If it hadn't been for this one revelation in the last 20 pages of the book, I would have liked it more. Still, the majority of the time I enjoyed reading this re-imagining of Austen's hilarious classic.

127BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Nov 6, 2020, 5:12pm

126. Chaos Choreography Seanan McGuire

This book is so FUN! Verity heads for Hollywood to appear on a dance reality show and has to combine all her time on camera with stopping a snake cult. I liked how much and how well she works with others here: Dominic is a constant and (surprisingly) welcome presence, and Malena and Pax are great additions to the team. That is not to forget Alice, Verity's grandma, who shows up to be super badass. I had an absolute blast with the book, and the wonderful Aeslin mice were a sweet bonus!

128BerlinBibliophile
Nov 6, 2020, 5:12pm

127. Cinderella is dead, Kalynn Bayron

The ending was a bit too quick and pat for my taste, but overall I liked it. Sophia is an interesting, well-realised character. The author showed the effects of propaganda and revisionist and the effects of media on our horizons really effectively. Not much in the plot was surprising, but it was all well done, and occasionally spookier than I was expecting.

129PaulCranswick
Nov 6, 2020, 9:54pm

>125 BerlinBibliophile: Love the Sherlock Holmes books, Miriam. My absolute favourite is The Sign of Four.

Have a lovely weekend.

130BerlinBibliophile
Nov 10, 2020, 9:59am

128. Assassin's Apprentice, Robin Hobb

This book was a bit of a disappointment to me. I kept waiting for a plot to start, and several did, only to be resolved in a matter of one chapter. And the episodes themselves weren't interesting enough to work as a series of complete vignettes. There were lots of good beginnings, but the deepening significance and rising tension were always missing. So many relationships started and then stayed where they are, with no character development or relationship growth. I was always left asking "and then?" and never getting an answer. The political intrigues were also a bit incoherent, and Fitz too much an empty vessel to get invested in.

>129 PaulCranswick: I love those books as well, Paul. I want to make a project of rereading more of them now that I've got going with the Hound of the Baskervilles.
Have a great week!

131BerlinBibliophile
Nov 12, 2020, 6:09am

129. A Passage to Shambhala, Jon Baird, Kevin Costner, Rick Ross

This book was a disappointment. The idea of combining prose and comic book panels is a really good one, and it worked well here. This was my favourite part of the book. Everything else was sadly lacking. There was barely enough characterisation of many of the characters to tell them apart. It was too long and winding, I think the book would be much improved by cutting about a third of it, like the many side plots that go nowhere. And while reading I the strong feeling that the authors were using the historical setting to cram in as much racist rhetoric as they could get away with. Some passages are horrifying. Other stretches of the book are okay, but I can't look past that.

132BerlinBibliophile
Nov 14, 2020, 12:58pm

130. Rivers of London, Ben Aaronovitch

I reread this book after a long time of always only rereading the later entries in the series. In a way it was both better and worse than I remembered. Worse, because Peter's narration in this book is so much more frequently sexist than in later books. Better, because I had almost forgotten a few of my favourite bits, and because the mystery is much more exciting than I remembered. I guess I love the book for being the beginning of one of my favourite series, and I'm greatful that the series goes on to be better than this.

133BerlinBibliophile
Nov 15, 2020, 5:25pm

131. The Lying Life of Adults, Elena Ferrante

I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. It's a compelling look into the mind of a teenage girl, Giovanna. She deals with her self-image (both physical and character) and her messed-up family and her burgeoning sexuality. The descriptions of Naples as a divided city were interesting, and Giovanna's identification of the different sides of her family and her own personality with the physically distant neighbourhoods they live in works well as a way of showing how different they ultimately aren't. A positive surprise of a book for me.

134PaulCranswick
Nov 20, 2020, 9:21pm

>132 BerlinBibliophile: I must start this series in 2021, Miriam. I have the first four books on the shelves but haven't read any of them yet.

135BerlinBibliophile
Nov 22, 2020, 4:49pm

>134 PaulCranswick: please do, Paul! It is my very favourite series at the moment and only becomes better and better over time!

132. Eine feine Gesellschaft, Martina Winkelhofer

This book reflects on the last years of the European monarchies through their scandals. This engagingly written non-fiction is mostly concerned with how quickly changing social mores were reflected in the relationships between monarchs and their citizens. The mass media made royal families much more accessible, but also subject to judgement and ridicule from their people. Failure to live up to their own laws and moral standards was no longer tolerated as a function of their divine right as Europe began slowly democratising. The book is split into sections on different types of scandals. Sometimes it repeats itself a little, but all in all the book is very interesting and well-written. So much was changing at the time, and scandals hold up a mirror to the changing attitudes of the societies they take place in.

136BerlinBibliophile
Nov 23, 2020, 2:01pm

133. Und dann gab's keines mehr, Agatha Christie

Strongest possible yikes for this book. My edition is pretty old and contains all the racism that was there originally. And wow, it is everywhere, and central to the plot. There's even some antisemitism thrown in as well. Like, the mystery is great and it's iconic for a reason. But it's built on such a racist foundation that I think it's time to let this one go.

137BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Nov 29, 2020, 1:13pm

134. The Memory Police, Yoko Ogawa

It took me a while to get into this book, but once I got used to the style it was very good, in a slow, laconic, melancholy sort of way. Each disappearance was more resonant and significant than the last. I loved the old man, and the book kept getting sadder and sadder, though with moments of light as well. The book also has a story the protagonist is writing running through it, and that was a great parallel which made the act of writing even more significant.

135. First Test, Tamora Pierce

2020 reread: This time I really noticed how unfair and dishonourable Wyldon is towards Kel. He participates in the bullying of a child because he doesn't think she should have the goal in life that she does. For all that the book describes him as rigorously honourable, he does not behave that way.
I really love Kel's determination and willingness to go her own way.

138BerlinBibliophile
Dez 3, 2020, 10:08am

--- Chaos, Patricia Cornwell

DNF at 50%

This book is an absolute drag. I stopped reading halfway through because it was so relentlessly miserable, and not because of the murder case either! The plot had barely arrived at the corpse. No, the protagonist spends all her time thinking about how unattractive she feels, how she's smarter than those around her but won't say anything, how much money her other family members have, and being a generally unpleasant person who doesn't seem at all happy with herself. Add to that the fact that everything is repeated about five times and reading this book became absolutely miserable. Halfway through the plot had still barely started and it didn't seem to be getting better any time soon, so I decided to cut my losses and move on.

139BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Dez 3, 2020, 2:20pm

136. Midwinter Murder, Agatha Christie

I had a lovely time with this Christmassy collection of stories about murder! There's a reason Christie's stories are still popular today, and I think the short story as a medium really shows off her strengths. It's great to see old favourites like Miss Marple and Tommy and Tuppence again, but the new-to-me characters were great as well.
The book is also beautiful as an object, with a great texture of the printed cover, with shining snowflakes. It would make a great gift for any Christmas-loving detective fans.

140PaulCranswick
Dez 4, 2020, 10:25pm

>136 BerlinBibliophile: Christie was an arch exponent of her craft but the mannered prejudices of her age are very evident in her writing. I have a volume of Mark Twain's collected works and I skimmed through Huckleberry Finn yesterday and was appalled by the number of times the "N" word was used.

141BerlinBibliophile
Dez 7, 2020, 4:21am

>140 PaulCranswick: You're right. And I guess it's a good thing that we notice these things now and realise they're a problem. I wonder what people in a hundred years will think of the books being written now, what words we'll have realised are cruel.

137. The Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osman

I had an amazing time reading this murder mystery. All the characters are great and I loved getting to know the Coopers Chase community. It's very funny as well. And the poor police officers, having to deal with all these nosy retirees solving their murder before they can! There are plenty of twists and turns here, and one aspect of the solution genuinely surprised me. I really recommend this.

142BerlinBibliophile
Editado: Dez 9, 2020, 5:52pm

138. Blutzeuge, Tess Gerritsen

This was my first book by Tess Gerritsen and I enjoyed it. The murders were interesting, with lots of twists and turns to keep the mind busy. Some of the solutions I guessed, some I didn't, which is the perfect combination. I liked Rizzoli and Isles and I'm interested in reading more books about them.

143BerlinBibliophile
Dez 11, 2020, 5:14pm

139. Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods, Rick Riordan

It's always nice to get a little more of Percy's snarky narration. I especially liked the sections on the gods who aren't the Big Three. Especially Dionysus and Persephone. I think Riordan struck a good balance of not glossing over the horrible things that happen in Greek myth while still keeping the book generally fun and interesting for children as well.

144BerlinBibliophile
Dez 12, 2020, 2:03pm

140. Teaching a Stone to Talk, Annie Dillard

This book was a solid "meh" to me. There were some essays that I liked, for example "Lenses" and the one about the Galapagos islands. But there were more essays I was just incredibly bored by. It wasn't helped by her often insensitive and reductive portrayal of indigenous peoples. If I hadn't read this book for Life's Library, and had access to the wonderful discussions on my shelf, I probably wouldn't have finished it.

145BerlinBibliophile
Dez 22, 2020, 4:17am

141. Page, Tamora Pierce

I read the book in a group this time and I think every time I read it I like it more. Kel and her friends are wonderful. Tamora Pierce's ability to make me literally tense and my heart beat faster in a scary scene featuring something I'm not even scared of in reality is really cool. I loved that the world of the palace gets explored more in this quartet. Alanna hung out more down in Corus, while Kel meets so many more people in the palace itself. Who knows what other nice things I'll notice the next time I read this book?

146BerlinBibliophile
Dez 22, 2020, 4:40pm

142. The Tower of Nero, Rick Riordan

I had a great deal of fun with this book. It was a fitting ending to the series, and I loved getting to see all the characters we'd met along the way again. Sally Jackson is a delight as always, and so is the big cast of supporting characters. I liked the theme of standing up to your fathers and to abuse in general. I'm glad Apollo finally spent some time with this crop of his children, and I hope he keeps doing that in future. The book ends in a very hopeful place, so the future is open.

143. Christmas Pudding, Nancy Mitford

This book is bitingly funny. I find it hard to believe people have ever acted in such a ridiculously over-the-top fashion, but I was laughing too hard to care. Some parts of it I read aloud to a friend, which I can only recommend. I cared about none of the characters, but then I wasn't meant to. The book is a perfectly crafted farce.

147PaulCranswick
Dez 25, 2020, 1:07am



I hope you get some of those at least, Miriam, as we all look forward to a better 2021.

148BerlinBibliophile
Dez 28, 2020, 11:30am

|147 thank you so much, Paul. I did get some of those, plus a little reading time! I wish you all the best for 2021!

149BerlinBibliophile
Dez 28, 2020, 5:57pm

144. Christmas Days, Jeanette Winterson

This book collects christmassy short stories and recipes. I had a wonderful time reading it. The short stories are so creative and all so very different from one another. Some are heartwarming, some strange, some sad, some fun, and some even spooky! The recipes are told with stories about the time of year they're cooked in, and they sound very good. I'm going to make the cheese crackers this New Year's Eve.

145. The Twenty-Ninth Year, Hala Alyan

I feel like I didn't really get a lot of the individual poems. At the same time, reading them all together does paint a very evocative, bold picture of a life. "Armadillo" was one of my favourite poems in this collection.

150BerlinBibliophile
Dez 30, 2020, 5:25pm

146. Lady Chatterley's Lover, D.H. Lawrence

I had a terrible time reading this book. The characters are all awful people and the constant scenes of industrial disconnection from the land and people's true feelings get very boring after the third (or eighth) repetition. It's also VERY sexist and occasionally racist. Plus plenty of absolutely gross descriptions. The characters seem to go from love to hate to disgust to indifference back to love in the course of one conversation. It made it hard to be invested in their lives in any way if they're changing their opinions as the wind shifts.

147. The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison

I had a wonderful time reading this book. The world this story is set in is so wonderfully realised, detailed, and I always felt as if there was more to be discovered behind the next corner or on the next page. The language used and the names are such wonderful ways of conveying how this empire functions without info-dumping about it. I loved all the political intrigue, and the great character development Maia goes through.
I must say I did appreciate the pronounciation guide at the front of the book though!

151PaulCranswick
Jan 1, 12:08am



Miriam

As the year turns, friendship continues

152BerlinBibliophile
Jan 2, 5:41pm

>151 PaulCranswick: thank you Paul, what a lovely sentiment. Friendship continues, and so does reading, and talking about books together :)