Anya's Books

I enjoy history, poetry, science fiction, mystery and urban fantasy.

Cocaine Blues (Phryne Fisher Mysteries (Paperback))

Cocaine Blues - Kerry Greenwood Actual Rating 2.5

Way too light a read for my liking. All characters are caricatures and all events fit way too neatly and obviously into the puzzle to resolve the mystery.

Written well enough to keep me reading. The additional .5 I give for the potential of the mystery too bad it was so badly executed (unless you like the type of book that doesn't want you to think to hard).


Embassytown - China Miéville Actual rating 3.5

It's an interesting mind that wrote this book. It's a type of playground that he wrote. A playground where the equipment is replaced by themes and ideas. Its a wonderful place, one I'd recommend for all to visit. I will certainly read more of China Mievilles books hoping to visit more such playgrounds.

For as good as he is at creating a fascinating world he's not a great storyteller. He's kind of an impressionist (perhaps even a modern(ist)) painter with words. Giving us broad strokes instead of fine detail, focusing on color, texture and general shapes to paint the pictures in our heads. But what pictures! What questions are still buzzing in here!(Truth/Lies; Absolute/Relative; Communication/Speech; Good/Evil - put all those in a blender and play with the resulting questions)

This isn't a great book (that's why the 3.5 stars) but it is a very interesting one. It's worth reading just for the ideas.

Busman's Honeymoon (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #13)

Busman's Honeymoon (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #13) - Dorothy L. Sayers So far this is my favorite Lord Peter/Harriet Vane book of the Lord Peter oeuvre. I will definitely reread especially for the hilarity of the shot gun up the chimney scene!


Stardust - Neil Gaiman This is a wonderful modern fairy tale. By modern I mean that it's written in modern times not set there-in. As in all good fairy tales, there's love, hate and more than a little bloodshed within these pages to tantalize the reader. Highly recommended.

The Suicide Shop

The Suicide Shop - Jean Teulé I loved this novella until the last line ... so no 5 stars :(
A masterpiece, an absolute masterpiece!

I was expecting a depressing read - I mean Cancer and post-Stalinist Russia how can it be anything but depressing but although it reveals despair and suffering it also puts compassion and love on display. In these pages Russia and it's people of the time are illuminated - the good, the bad and the ugly. This was a sad and occasionally a heart-breaking read but I would never call it depressing.

The writing is exquisite .. the style is smooth as silk. The ward, the characters and their stories materialize, they are so beautifully and fully realized and it feels like you are right there among them - reach out a hand and you'd be able to touch them.

My last word is for the translation - it is as masterly as the original text demands. Superb.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling

The Mysterious Howling - Jon Klassen, Maryrose Wood A funny sweet book that is a first in a series which I look forward to continuing.

The Year of Pleasures: A Novel

The Year of Pleasures - Elizabeth Berg Actual Rating 3.5 Stars

I was loving this book until about page 180 (out of 206) and then it went straight down hill. The reasons are spoilers so I won't put them here but that should clue you in that it has everything to do with the plot ... specifically what characters choose to do in those last 26 pages. Other than that I enjoyed the writing and I found quite a few beautiful quotes to copy into one of my notebooks for future re-readings. The book itself is being donated.

Tales of the City: A Novel (P.S.)

Tales of the City  - Armistead Maupin Loved the writing but the characters were pitiable and I got tired of all the idiocy in which they specialized.

The Wolf Gift

The Wolf Gift - Anne Rice For all the problems with this book of which there are a fair number I really enjoyed it. It was the perfect read for when I was sick and didn't want a complex story line or one rife with feats of daring do. I wanted and got a mellow, slowly developing origins story in the werewolf genre. There are grisly murders and family drama all with an undercurrent of tension that always accompanies the discovery of the "supernatural" but it was written in such a lilting way that it was in to way jarring to my ailing senses.

I really enjoyed Anne Rices style and ability to create such palpable atmosphere simply with words.

I liked Reuben - he wasn't an idiot with his "powers"; was secretive only when it was obviously necessary and forthright otherwise.

Evil Scientists is such an irritating trope and I wish she hadn't succumbed!

I don't think the Reuben/Mom relationship was as well realized as the Reuben/Dad relationship was.

And then there's Laura. Some may call her a Mary Sue and maybe she is but that's not my problem with her. I didn't care for the immediacy of the intimacy; it stank of what in young adult literature is called insta-love another trope I wish Anne Rice had avoided.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan LOVED this book. This is condensed literary joy for those who live at the intersection of book and tech nerd-doms. I smiled almost all the way through, I loved the characters, I loved the puzzles, I loved the jokes (perhaps a little heavy on the inside yuk-yuks at the beginning but that's my only criticism).

The 5 stars and all the love are there because there's nary a misstep in this book, it is perfection for what it is. And though it touches on important subjects (old business models not wanting to make way for new; the cyclical nature of things) it is a quick, light and fun read and not a heavy tome full of deep insights into the human condition. It is there to be enjoyed and to put a smile upon your face!


Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman The master storyteller that is todays Neil Gaiman did not write this book, it was his very talented apprentice the one who grew into the master. The gifts are all there but not yet fully developed.

The story has impeccable pacing, I had a hard time putting the book down and rushed to pick it up when even a 5 minute opportunity presented itself. The world building is immersive and delightfully twisted.

This is a very strange comparison (even for me) but I felt that this book is a demented and disturbed echo of [b:The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy|8224898|The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Live |Douglas Adams||21398618]. Richard Mayhew is Arthur Dent the clueless hero through whom the reader experiences a new world - London Below for Richard and The Universe for Arthur. The hero is taken on a journey by a group of companions and is pursued by some very dangerous "people".

So where does this book fall apart (aka loose the 1 star)? First of all, the characters. Though they are well drawn and all obviously have deep histories I didn't get enough of that background to feel that I understood them - I was just getting there when the book ended. And just as with the characters the world too was just beginning to makes sense when the story ended. In essence, this book felt like the BEGINNING of a series, not a stand alone. Too many loose ends and unanswered questions. The best stories never wrap up completely but neither do they leave you feeling like you're in an abandoned weaving factory. This is where the difference between the master and apprentice is most obvious.

I suspect if this story was told 10 years later it would have been far more agonizing and brutal in its ending yet it would have been immensely more satisfying.

Much Obliged, Jeeves

Much Obliged, Jeeves (Jeeves, #14) - P.G. Wodehouse On the back of the edition I have (arrow books 2008) there's a quote from Stephen Fry "You don't analyse such sunlit perfection, you just bask in its warmth and splendour."

I couldn't agree more nor will I subject you to the exuberance of my own verbosity regarding the text when Mr.Fry has been so accurate and eloquent as it is.

Ender's Game (Ender, Book 1)

Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card Rearead 5/31/13

This is probably one of the best paced books I've read in a very long time (or at least since the last time I read this one). All the characters, even the fairly minor ones, are well drawn, have unique voices and are necessary props or foils for the hero. There are no throw-aways here not in the form of characters nor in the form of scenes. Every interaction and every event shapes the hero until he has been honed into what he needs to be - an Ender.

The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes

The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes - Neil Gaiman, Malcolm Jones III, Karen  Berger, Sam Kieth, Todd Klein, Mike Dringenberg Reread 5/31/13

How to Talk to Girls at Parties

How to Talk to Girls at Parties - Neil Gaiman I do so love a punch line. This story has the type that leaves you bent over, gasping for breath, your insides writhing painfully on the verge of vomiting not from laughter but from the shocking realization of what you just read and the monstrosity thereof.

Currently reading

The Rise and Fall of Athens: Nine Greek Lives by Plutarch, Ian Scott-Kilvert
The Mistress Of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson by Lyndsay Faye
Alexander: The Ambiguity of Greatness by Guy Maclean Rogers
Six Days of the Condor by James Grady