Thursday, December 30, 2010

book list 2010

As always, books I finished reading for the first time this year. This year with links to where I've talked about them before, for added convenience.

[edited to add link to Home review]

Wolf Hall- Hilary Mantel Don't know how Hilary Mantel managed to make the intricacies of Tudor politics so clear and readable, but she did. Reviewed here
Bella Tuscany- Frances Mayes Self-indulgent travelogue
Angel Puss- Colleen McCullough
AA Gill is Away- AA Gill 
The Graveyard Book- Neil Gaiman Perhaps my favourite Neil Gaiman to date.
A Madness of Angels- Kate Griffin Fast paced and lots of fun, urban fantasy. More here
Under a Glass Bell- Anais Nin Gorgeous little short stories that made me want to read more.
The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins One of the most talked about books of the year, reviewed here
The Slap- Christos Tsiolkas One of the most talked about books of last year. I was in two minds about it though, see here and here. On the whole, not a fan.
Unseen Academicals- Terry Pratchett Always enjoy a new Discworld book, and this was no exception
Point Omega- Don DeLillo Started off loving it, ended up a bit bemused. I've quoted it here
Un Lun Dun- China Mieville Interesting, but a bit disappointing. The prophesy stuff was interesting but the city was a mess. Quoted here
Brooklyn- Colm Toibin 
The Mountain of Light- Claire Allen Another disappointing one with a promising start. It's about a bunch of friends and centered around an Indian restaurant, but the ending is not
Fire in the Blood- Irene Nemirovsky A great read if you love tragic and sardonic French novels about infidelity. No, seriously. Quoted here and talked about here
The Piper's Son- Melina Marchetta Love Melina Marchetta, and loved this sequel to Saving Francesca
The Midnight Mayor- Kate Griffin Sequel to 'A Madness of Angels' showed up some of the flaws of the books but was a good read overall
Madame Bovary- Gustave Flaubert Also talked about here
Invisible Cities- Italo Calvino Quoted here
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet- David Mitchell You never know what to expect from one chapter to the next with David Mitchell, and he blew my mind once again with this book
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie- Alan Bradley  Thought these captured a mid-Century murder mystery feel quite well. Recommended. Mentioned here
The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Noose- Alan Bradley
The Summer Book- Tove Jansson Only discovered that Tove Jansson wrote things other than the Moomintroll books this year, well worth it. Mentioned here and quoted here
The Changeover- Margeret Mahy Heard lots about this, turned out to be pretty good. Mentioned here
The Pinhoe Egg- Diana Wynne Jones Went through a bit of a Diana Wynne Jones reading marathon after I bought a copy of 'Castle in the Air'. 
Moominvalley in November- Tove Jansson (not sure if I've read this, or Exploits of Moominpappa)
The Demon's Lexicon- Sarah Rees Brennan Had some great characters and moments, plus awesome plot. Somehow felt a bit patchy though. Still would be interested in reading the sequel. Mentioned here
Conrad's Fate- Diana Wynne Jones
Elephants Can Remember- Agatha Christie
Die a Little- Megan Abbott Interesting noir-ish twisty and a little bit nasty book. Pretty sure I enjoyed it though.
The House of Mirth- Edith Wharton Edith Wharton can make me so angry and so sad, and this book was no exception. Think I liked this even more than 'The Age of Innocence'
Flambards- KM Peyton Change of tone to 1970s YA set pre-WWI
The Tricksters- Margaret Mahy Had a bit of a Mahy phase too, she is an old favourite with more books than I have read. The end of this book took me back to the end of high school.
The Chronicles of Clovis- Saki
The Knife of Never Letting Go- Patrick Ness Another much-hyped YA, this has a great concept and is unputdownable.
The Edge of the Cloud- KM Peyton
Flambards in Summer- KM Peyton
Astercote- Penelope Lively Read this looking for a forgotten childhood book. It wasn't it.
The Haunting- Margaret Mahy
Miss Hargreaves- Frank Baker A man invents a lady as part of a tall story, but she comes to life, a playful but sometimes painful book.
Diary of a Provincial Lady- EM Delafield Like a early-20th Century Bridget Jones in some ways (and I like Bridget Jones) funny and entertaining.
The Chesnut Soldier- Jenny Nimmo (?) I thought I'd read this before but had no memory of it when rereading. Part of the brilliant 'Snow Spider' trilogy invoking Welsh mythology.
Started Early, Took My Dog- Kate Atkinson Crime with brains and a light post-modern edge. Reviewed here
Love in a Cold Climate- Nancy Mitford No-one does disturbing-but-funny quite like the English aristocracy.
A Spy in the House of Love- Anais Nin Quoted here
The Ask and the Answer- Patrick Ness
Jude the Obscure- Thomas Hardy So depressing I don't quite know what to say about it. Argued with this book all the way through.
Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life- Bryan Lee O'Malley Graphic novels about a Canadian slacker, full of video game references and about growing up, dealing with the past,  getting to know yourself and forming adult relationships. Review here
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World- Bryan Lee O'Malley
Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness- Bryan Lee O'Malley
Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together- Bryan Lee O'Malley
Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe- Bryan Lee O'Malley
Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour- Bryan Lee O'Malley
Housekeeping- Marilynne Robinson Love at first sight. Review here
Dead Man's Chest- Kerry Greenwood Fun murder mystery, where the mystery sometimes gets a bit overlooked in favour of the fun
Home- Marilynne Robinson Great novel about family and love and communication and, well, home. Review here.
Mrs Dalloway- Virginia Woolf Never really raved about Virginia Woolf but this was fantastic.
Personal Anthology- Jorge Luis Borges A little bit of everything.
10 Short Stories You Must Read in 2010- Various Authors
The City and the City- China Mieville Read this boxing day, and it more than lived up to my expectations.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

we wish you a merry christmas and a happy new year

Happy Christmas all! Hope you had a great day. I was away from my computer at the time (actually spent about half the day on the road), so sorry that the Christmas greetings are belated.

I am currently in the process of writing up my list of New Books Read This Year, but for now- what I got for Christmas (aka Christmas books):

               - Truth, Peter Temple (Australian Crime)
              - The Little Prince and Other Stories (Collected Children's stories, including The Little Prince and                The Railway Children)
              - The City and the City, China Mieville (Fantasy/Crime)
              - Freedom, Jonathan Franzen (American Literature)
              - The Grimm Reader, trans. Maria Tatar, foreword by AS Byatt. (Fairy/folk tales)
              - The Complete Poems of Walt Whitman
+ a book voucher

Some good books in there, and a fairly varied collection I think. Who else got books for Christmas?

Monday, December 13, 2010

fill in the books

In my wanderings around the blogosphere I have come across two(!) memes that involve filling in the blanks with books you've read this year. I couldn't decide which one to do, so naturally I have done both. The downside is that you start to run out of good titles, but it was fun nonetheless.

First, from Regular Ruminations (here):

In high school I was: Under a Glass Bell (Anais Nin)
People might be surprised I’m: The Fire in the Blood (Irene Nemirovsky)
I will never be: Jude the Obscure (Thomas Hardy)
My fantasy job is: Unseen Academicals (Terry Pratchett)
At the end of a long day I need: Love in a Cold Climate (Nancy Mitford)
I hate it when: Housekeeping (Marilynne Robinson) 
Wish I had: A Study in Scarlet (Arthur Conan Doyle)
My family reunions are: Exploits of Moominpappa (Tove Jansson)
At a party you’d find me: Looking for Alibrandi (Melina Marchetta)
I’ve never been to: Brooklyn (Colm Toibin)
A happy day includes: The Summer Book (Tove Jansson)
Motto I live by: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Patrick Ness)
On my bucket list: Bella Tuscany (Frances Mayes)
In my next life I want to be: The Piper's Son (Melina Marchetta)

Second, from Stuck-in-a-Book (here):

Describe yourself: Personal Anthology (Jorge Luis Borges)

How do you feel: These Happy, Golden Years (Laura Ingalls Wilder)

Describe where you currently live: Home (Marilynne Robinson)

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Invisible Cities (Italo Calvino)

Your favorite form of transportation: Castle in the Air (Diana Wynne Jones)

Your best friend is: The Ask and the Answer (Patrick Ness)

You and your friends are: A Madness of Angels (Kate Griffin)

What's the weather like: The Edge of the Cloud (KM Peyton)

You fear: The Knife of Never Letting Go (Patrick Ness)

What is the best advice you have to give: Started Early, Took My Dog (Kate Atkinson)

Thought for the day: Elephants Can Remember (Agatha Christie)

How I would like to die: Die a Little (Megan Abbott)

My soul's present condition: The House of Mirth (Edith Wharton)