Dec. 10th, 2017

xenith: (Bookshelf)
[personal profile] xenith

I didn't read much fiction this year, that I can find a record of. Next year I need to go back to recording things as I read them so I can remember what I read. Stars are out of five.

The Soldier's Curse, by Meg & Tom Keneally. Stars: ***

This is a historical mystery, set in Port Macquarie (NSW penal settlement) in the 1820s. Now if you like historical novels with a mystery plot included, and you don't mind the usual tropes being wheeled out, this is a easy to read, entertaining book. If you're looking for an interesting mystery book, it's somewhat ruined by this big arrow pointing out the guilty party from fairly early on. I kept reading in case I was wrong but nope. And once we're informed of who the guilty party is it goes on and on. (Incidentally, if you're into mystery/crime novels from that era, I have one you can read :)

A Darker Shade of Magic & A Gathering of Shadows & the third one, by Victoria Schwab. Stars ****, *****, **

A fantasy trilogy. I borrowed all three from the library but the notifications for the third one have disappeared from my email. That's about how I feel about the third book. I like the first one, loved the second and... found the third one incredibly disappointing. It feels rushed. There are bits in there it doesn't need. But worse, all the stuff that makes the second one so delicious is just not there. A line here or there. Unfortunately, book 2 ends on a cliff-hanger so I can't say if you haven't read them, just read the first two. I live in hope one day she'll edit the third one to bring it up to the standard of the other two. Also, I am keeping an eye out for cheap copies of the first two so I can take them apart (the words not the pages) and look at how they work.

A Murder Unmentioned, Give the Devil His Due & A Dangerous Language, by Sulari Gentill. Stars: ****, ****, ***

This is not a trilogy, but a longer series. Book 6 (A Murder Unmentioned) was in my show bag at the HNSA conference so I read it on the way home. Why would I start with book 6? Because I can. There are references to past events and to some extent it feels like a "here we are with this familiar characters" story but it was easy to just step into the series midway because the stories are self-contained. This is partly (mostly?) because there's no obvious character development/overreaching arcs. There's very little emotional engagement. There's not a lot of depth to them at all, and that includes the plots such as they are. Yet as you can see, I read book 6, and then book 7, and then the latest one (and I note this, because #8 was only released a few weeks ago. It's not often you get a new, never read by anyone else book from the library). That's because what these books do, they do very well. You're following a bunch of friends around on their adventures. Not unlike an episodic TV show, where you sit down each time with some idea of what you'll get and it delivers. So if that's what you like and you're in Australia (they're a bit harder to get overseas), grab a few and read them. Oh, and I should add they're crime novels set in Sydney in the 1930s.


I read Fashioned from Penury: dress as cultural practice in colonial Australia, but I didn't get it finished before the library wanted it back, and I'd read enough to get the gist of what the author was saying. I need more books like that. (How these things differed here to usual/standard stuff. You know what I mean.)


Some books are missing because I can't find them, can't remember what they are, or they're elsewhere so I couldn't take a photo. Also some of these I seem to remember writing about previously, but I can't find where.

I stopped in at Petrarch's during the Crazy Day sale and they had boxes of books 3 for $10? $2 for $8? Something like that. I can't remember what the others were, but that one is lovely big photos of interiors of 19th century Egyptian palaces. Good for inspiration.

The other book is from the other end of the book-buying spectrum. Not easy to find, not at all cheap. It also has big photos, the Sydney police museum exhibition of the same name. Some fascinating early 20th century "crime scene" photos, of a time/place you don't usually see photos from. The photos are available online if you take some time to browse, but large, printed photos are much better.

As I've said before, there's very little written about the history of policing in Australia that isn't about administration etc. So I've read some English-equivalents and then adapted them. The Ascent of the Detective was useful in that regard. A lot about the background of suitable candidates (they tended to be working class but educated (so self-educated often)) and problems they faced and other stuff that would have been applicable to their colonial cousins.

The Secret People of the Palace I picked up for half-price when the secondhand bookshop closed. Useful for building a palace community for fantasy novel.

I got two or three books about Victorian interiors/households, but the others are elsewhere. They might be self-explanatory :)
Ditto with the Hobart book (which is a very nice hardback with dust jacket, not obvious from the photo)

I ended up buying three volumes of London Labour & the London Poor. For some reason I decided I didn't need #4. But #2 doesn't match with #1 and #3. It's taller with an olive spine, & the other two have a bright orange spine, but I can't justify buying a new copy of #2 (and now Wordery don't have it anyway, also why do they have #1 & #3 for $34 and #4 for $16? Are they telling me I need #4?)

Forgotten Voices of Burma turned up in this....

but I can't remember what the second wrapped book was. The Heart of the Sea maybe?

These two represent the books from the Friends of the Library Book Sale. I bought others, I had two bags, but I can't remember what they others are.

One of these was free, one I never got around to reading, one I was reading but left it in a bad place and now it's distorted :( and one is a useful book for finding locations of hotels and things.

Also, acquired these two but they've been mentioned elsewhere.

So that is 2017 in books.


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