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Vodkafan's 2017 reading experience

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Welcome to my  2017 reading experience,   Like last year, no reading challenges just a mass of books on my TBR to get through. Reviews are found buried in the following pages: sorry if that is confusing to anybody, I haven't mastered the link thingy yet.

Last year was a funny year for reading; my mojo disappeared down a rabbit hole. It may have had a lot to do with my kindle dying and I never got around to buying another one. I intend to do better this year. 
(k) denotes kindle ebook
® denotes book read primarily for research purposes
 keeping the same simple rating system this year:
1/5: I didn't like it
2/5: It was okay
3/5: I liked it
4/5: I really liked it
5/5: It was amazing!

 

Books Read in 2017

 

January

The Paris Enigma     Pablo de Santis 5/5

Snobbery With Violence  MC Beaton    2/5

The Watcher   Jane Palmer                    2/5

Outsiders  Study in the sociology of deviance Howard S. Becker  3/5

Close to Critical  Hal Clement 2/5

Ports Of Call  Jack Vance  4/5

 

February

Lurulu  Jack Vance   (re-read) 3/5

Night Lamp Jack Vance  5/5

Medusa's Children  Bob Shaw 2/5

Space Opera   Jack Vance 3/5

 

March

Maske: Thaery   Jack Vance 5/5

Dead In The Morning     Margaret Yorke  2/5

The Secret Of Annexe 3 Colin Dexter  2/5

 

April

Songs Of The Dying Earth    Anthology  5/5

Lies We Tell Ourselves        Robin Talley          4/5

A Gull On The Roof    Derek Tangye                   3/5

Gone Tomorrow  Lee Child              2/5

Killing Floor        Lee Child               2/5

The 100   Kass Morgan       1/5

 

May

Necropolis London and its dead     Catharine Arnold  4/5

Mrs Jeffries Reveals Her Art  Emily Brightwell  3/5

The 100 Day 21  Kass Morgan 1/5

StirFry   Emma Donoghue  3/5

Man Walking On Eggshells  Herbert Simmons  3/5

The Red Badge Of Courage  Stephen Crane  3/5

The Houses Of Iszm   Jack Vance   4/5

 

June

Shooting Victoria   Paul Thomas Murphy  4/5

The Sealed Letter   Emma Donoghue   5/5

Heap House   Edward Carey    5/5

 

July

Foulsham      Edward Carey       3/5

From Outside In  (Anthology) edited by  Nushin Arbabzadah 3/5

 

August

The Art Of Being Normal  2/5  Lisa Williamson

Inverted World  3/5  Christopher Priest

In Search Of Shroedinger's Cat  3/5  John Gribbin

 

September

The Man From Maybe    3/5  Leo P Kelly

The Housekeeper's Tale   The women who really ran the English Country House  5/5  Tessa Boase

Time And Time Again  4/5  Ben Elton

Over A Hot Stove   2/5  Flo Wadlow

Servants    3/5   Sarah Lethbridge

Why Do People Hate America?    4/5  Ziauddin Sardar,  Merryl Wyn Davies

Guardian Of The Horizon  (Amelia Peabody #16)  3/5  Sarah Peters

 

November

The Time Traders  2/5  Andre Norton

December

The Girl In The Spider's Web  3/5 David Lagercrantz

Edited by vodkafan
addition

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The TBR Pile organised!

 

Victorian authors, obscure works and classics

 

The Poor Gentleman                                     Hendrick Conscience    

Two On A Tower      

The Return Of The Native

A Laodician

A Pair Of Blue Eyes

Jude The Obscure

The Woodlanders

Far From The Madding Crowd                         all above by

The Mayor of Casterbridge                             Thomas Hardy 

Post Haste                                                    RM Ballantyne           

Autobiography Of Anthony Trollope

Lady Anna

Miss Mackenzie                                                4 above by

The Way We Live Now                                  Anthony Trollope       

Twelve Years A Slave                                    Solomon Northup         

Letters Of Two Brides                                       Balzac                   

Birds Of Prey

Charlotte's Inheritance

Run To Earth A Novel

The Doctor's Wife

Lady Audley's Secret                                    Mary Elizabeth Braddon 

Little Dorrit                                                    Charles Dickens

The Mill On The Floss

Madame Bovary

Tess of The d'urbervilles

Lady Susan

   Thoughts On The Education Of Daughters

The Last Man

Maria, Or The Wrongs Of Woman

Vindication Of The Rights Of Woman

The Perpetual Curate

The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde     

Equality

Looking Backward 2000-1887

Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Picture Of Dorian Grey Oscar Wilde
Nicholas Nickleby Charles Dickens
The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow Washington Irvine

Little Women Louisa May Alcott

Shirley

Bleak House 
The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde 
The Moonstone 
The Woman In White 
Ruth

The Importance Of Being Earnest 
Basil
Les Miserables 
Mrs Oliphant

Confessions Of An English Opium Eater Thomas De Quincey 

Testament Of Youth                                        Vera Brittain
 

 

 

Books set in Victorian times by modern authors

 

Under A Cloud-Soft Sky

The Singing Winds

Shelter From The Storm

Snow Angels

Pure - Andrew Miller

The Road To Samarcand                                 Patrick O'Brian 

 

 

 

Reference works and 18th-19th century history, social history

 

London The Biography                                Peter Ackroyd

The Siege Of Krishnapur J.G. Farrell

The Dictionary Of London

Raj Lawrence James

The Age of Revolution 1789-1848 
The Age Of Capital 1848-1875 
The Age Of Empire 1875-1914 

Slavery A New Global History Jeremy Black
Balti Britain - Ziauddin Sardar

Asians In Britain  400 years of History  Rozina Visram

 

 

       

 

Random must reads

 

 

 

Nice To See It To See It Nice                      Brian Viner 

It's A Small Medium And Outsize World  John Taylor

Cut Like Wound  Anita Nair (signed copy, paperback printed in India!)

Connections

Rules For Virgins

The Life And Loves Of A She Devil

The Passion Of New Eve

The Haunted Hotel

Ten Interesting Things About Human Behaviour 

Slave Girl Sarah Forsyth  (autobiography)

The Man Who Loved Only Numbers Paul Hoffman (biography of Paul Erdos) 

The White Mists Of Power Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Blitz The Civilian War 1940-45 Jane Waller Michael Vaughn-Rees (war memoir)           

I Think I'm OK

Undercover: The True Story Of Britain's Secret Police

King Solomon's Carpet  Barbara Vine

A Far Cry From Kensington Muriel Spark

Capital John Lanchester

Good Behaviour  Molly Keane

Miss Peregrine's Home For Unusual Children - Ransom Riggs
Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood

Stephanie Plum series 9-20 - Janet Evanovitch
Forgotten Voices of the Blitz Joshua Levine
One Day David Nichols

Geisha Liza Dalby
In The Heart Of The Sea Nathanial Philbrick
Spycatcher Peter Wright
Ways Of Seeing John Berger
Gunners On Tour Maurice Court
Rivers Of London Ben Aaronovitch
The Horse Whisperer Nicholas Evans
The German Invasion Of Norway Geirr H Haarr

Accidents In The Home Tessa Hadley
Devoted Ladies Molly Keane
A Fine Balance Rohinton Mistry
Lord Of The Flies William Golding
Rebecca Daphne Du Maurier
Untying The Knot Linda Gillard

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing,
Thursday Next First Among Sequels,
Something Rotten,
The Well Of Lost Plots,
Lost In A Good Book,
The Eyre Affair 
Jasper Fforde

Life Of Pi - Yann Martel
The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared - Jonas Jonasson

Alone In Berlin

The Terror 
Round the Bend

Two Eggs On My Plate Oluf Reed Olsen
Infidel Ayaan Hirsi Ali 
Nerd Do Well Simon Pegg
Forensic Clues To Murder Brian Marriner 
Bad Blood Lorna Sage 
The Voyage Out 
Virginia Woolf 
The Book Of The Dead
The Other Side Of The Dale                            Gervaise Phinn

 

 

 

SF

Out Of Time-Five tales of Time Travel

Strange Loops

The Time Travel Megapack

The Martian Way Isaac Asimov

The Green Brain Frank Herbert
The Steampunk megapack (26 stories)
Viridis
Lady Of Devices A Steampunk Adventure
Steampunk Erotica

Best New SF 25
Meeting At Infinity John Brunner

Foundation                                                       Isaac Asimov

The Naked Sun                                                 Isaac Asimov

Of All Possible Worlds William Tenn 
The Makeshift Rocket Poul Anderson 
Life The Universe and Everything
More Than Super-Human AE VAN Vogt 

 

 

 

Edited by vodkafan

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EXTRA TBR!!

 

The above TBR  list is transferred from last year with the pitifully few books I read from it removed. Many of them are on the kindle so I won't make any headway into that lot until I get a new one.

The list below consists of "Tree Books" that seem to attach themselves to me when I go into charity shops. I haven't been listing them  but I have been quite good at reading them straight away lately. I will attempt to get some sort of a list up sometime later today. 

 

The Serpent

The Dragon

Atlan

The City        all by Jane Gaskell

Renoir My Father Jean Renoir

Annie May's Black Book  Debby Holt

Shopping, Seduction And Mr Selfridge  Lindy Woodhead

Medusa's Children  Bob Shaw

Overlay

On a Planet Alien   Both by Barry Malzberg

S.T.A.R. Flight EC Tubb

Where Underpants Come From  Joe Bennet

Letters Of An Indian Judge To An English Gentlewoman

Bone Idle  Suzette A Hill

Frankenstein Unbound  Brian Aldiss

7 Trips Through Time And Space  anthology

Rahne Susan Coon

Night Watch Andrew m Stephenson

Close To Critical Hal Clement

At Home   Bill Bryson

Wonderland Avenue  Danny Sugarman

Dorian Will Self

Night Lamp  Jack Vance

Edited by vodkafan

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URGENT  SHORT LIST TBR

 

This seemed to work last year, so I will do it again: I will give my TBR a quick bunk up by finishing all the books I have already started.

 

Woman on The Edge Of Time  Marge Piercy

London The Biography

Man Of Two Worlds Frank and Brian Herbert

Victoria  

Victorian Things Asa Briggs

Shopgirls  Pamela Cox and Annabel Hobley

Dear Bill Bryson  Ben Aitken

Shopping, Seduction and Mr Selfridge  Lindy Woodhead

Edited by vodkafan

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Blimey, just reading your TBR list made me come out in a cold sweat! 

 

Hope your mojo finds its way back to you - happy reading!

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Happy Reading in 2017. :)

 

Ooh, lots of lovely Jasper Fforde books to keep you occupied. :D

 

All on the kindle I'm afraid. I haven't read one yet, are they good?

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Blimey, just reading your TBR list made me come out in a cold sweat! 

 

Hope your mojo finds its way back to you - happy reading!

 

It never gets any smaller. But I am not afraid.  :readingtwo:

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Good luck with your reading year James. :alc:

 

Thanks Brian you too!

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All on the kindle I'm afraid. I haven't read one yet, are they good?

 

They`re excellent - I love Jasper Fforde`s writing and the Worlds he creates. He`s about the only author I buy in hardback. :)

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Have fun reading Asimov. Excellent SF author even though he is a bit outdated, especially when it comes to robots. 

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Interesting lists, James! Some I haven't even heard of, so good luck with them all.

 

And a very happy and productive reading year to you!

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Thanks Athena, Mr Cat, Pontalba and Poppyshake! Great to be back actually

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The Paris Enigma             5/5

Pablo de Santis

 

It seems fitting to start off my 2017 reviews with (in my opinion) an absolute stonker of a book. This one surprised and delighted me so much. The main story is set in Paris of 1889, (which is why I originally picked up the book) but there is very little in the way of historical description or setting. However I didn't even miss it, and it was a revelation to me that a story can work so well without it. It is a very meta-physical book, you feel you are glimpsing

the hidden nature of truths and realities. There seem to be no absolute truths, everything is in flux, and that sort of writing excites me no end.

Twelve great Detectives from all over the world are to meet at the upcoming Paris World's Fair while the Eiffel Tower is being built, bringing their twelve acolytes, who in their different ways acts as foils and sidekicks to the great men. 

However, at the last minute the renowned Argentinian detective Renato Craig becomes melancholy and sends his newly appointed acolyte Sigmundo Salvatrio in his place.

Salvatrio is only  the son of a shoemaker , and feels he is there under false pretences, but  since childhood he has always secretly dreamed of being a great detective himself.  When one of the Detectives is mysteriously murdered he attempts to prove himself.

This is not a book of action and fisticuffs or even much clever deduction. But if you love flowery dialogue and tongue-in-cheek metaphysical exposition (I do) in your stories then this is worth a look.

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The Watcher      2/5

Jane Palmer

 

While on holiday last year in Portsmouth I unearthed two books by an English writer called Jane Palmer. Her thing seems to be SF with a second-wave feminist twist.

This one was the first I attempted. It started off really well and hooked me in. On an alien planet far away the intelligent bird-like life forms (which can change sex when needed, but seem to spend most of their time being female)  have come under attack by a  vampiric creature that moves through space and eats energy.  With instruments they manage to track the creature back to its source, which turns out to be Earth.

The bird creatures are not a space faring race, but they get in touch with another ancient race which is interested  in Earth for its own reasons; they are amphibians who want to colonize  the oceans of planet Earth once the humans have died out, which they figure won't be too long the way we are going. On behalf of the bird race they agree to send an agent to Earth to locate and destroy the creature. This is the Kybion, which is a unique thing of half machine and half genetic material, which has the ability to construct and disguise itself.

I was fascinated by the concept of the Kybion, especially when it accidentally comes into contact with a group of shipwrecked Victorian humans when it is only half constructed, and cold-bloodedly decides to use them for it's own purposes.

The action then moves on 100 years and centres on an orphaned Indian girl living in England. Unfortunately for me the plot then became very silly, and became more and more a lightweight romance where the author had fell in love with her characters and didn't want anything bad to happen to them. For that reason I could only give it 2/5.

I still love the Kybion though.

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I wish you a fabulous reading year, voddy :smile2:  Jasper Fforde is great, although I've only read The Eyre Affair so far. But that was simply amazing! 

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I wish you a fabulous reading year, voddy :smile2:  Jasper Fforde is great, although I've only read The Eyre Affair so far. But that was simply amazing! 

 

Thank you! I will replace my kindle soon and Jasper will be right at the front of the queue.  :readingtwo:

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Interesting TBR - I look forward to reading more of your reviews.

 

I was wondering what you thought of Howard Becker's Outsiders: Study in the Sociology of Deviance? It is something I have been thinking of buying as I have an interest in that area, but wasn't sure how relevant it would be.

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Interesting TBR - I look forward to reading more of your reviews.

 

I was wondering what you thought of Howard Becker's Outsiders: Study in the Sociology of Deviance? It is something I have been thinking of buying as I have an interest in that area, but wasn't sure how relevant it would be.

 

 Hi Angury,  I didn't think anybody would be interested in this! Pass me your address I will send you my copy. 

I found it useful, and it was probably a landmark study at the time, but things that were then regarded as deviant are now considered part of the normal spectrum of human diversity. It is also American-centric. However, all that to the side, the central planks  of his theory are pretty sound and it made perfect sense to me. It's another tool of looking at the world that I didn't consider before. It will be useful to me for my characters in my novel, who as time travellers have to disguise their differentness. 

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 This year I am making a big effort to get hold of Jack Vance SF books that I have not yet read. To my surprise there are still a few. I got hold of Ports Of Call and now am half way through Night Lamp.  There is another I haven't read called Space Opera .  I also have obtained copies of the Demon Princes novels and one of the Cadwell trilogy called Throy I have been after for a long time. ( I have read them all on kindle, but also wanted treebooks for my shelf). Some of the rarer titles on ebay have been and still are crazy prices (Like £300 for an old paperback!) but I have had a bit of luck and managed to fill in all the gaps inexpensively.

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What others are you still seeking VF? We could all keep an eye out for them.  :smile:

 

Enjoy your reading this year.  :readingtwo:

 

That is very kind of you Chrissy!  But I have never seen any Jack Vance books in any charity shop, and I have been looking perhaps 20 years! Why this is I can only speculate. Apart from Space Opera, the only ones I know of are some anthologies of his short stories, which seem to be extremely rare. Jack Vance seems to be a marmite author. People who like him REALLY like him, and those who don't get him don't read past the first few pages. Ah, such is life. But I am happy for myself that his work exists, and it has given me much pleasure and inspired my own efforts to scribble a bit. 

Edited by vodkafan

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