Authority (Jeff VanderMeer)

Authority is the second novel in The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer.
Finished on: 4.3.2018
[Here’s my review of Annihilation, the first novel.]

John Rodriguez, who likes to be called Control, has recently taken over the Southern Reach agency. It’s a disorienting agency and Control has trouble getting his bearings. People seem to keep things from him. His handler, called The Voice, isn’t happy with him and his progress. His assistant Grace might be plotting against him. And anyway, what is the deal with Area X in the first place?

Authority gives us an entirely different perspective on Area X than Annihilation did and I loved it in all its fucked-up weirdness.

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Spell Games (T.A. Pratt)

Spell Games is the fourth of the Marla Mason novels by T.A. Pratt.
Finished on 25.2.2018
[Here are my reviews of the other Marla Mason novels.]

As usual, Marla has her hands full, even with Rondeau by her side and while training B. But then her brother Jason makes an appearance to make her hands even fuller. Jason is charming, smart and a con artist. And he and Marla have a difficult history. Now he’s there and he is planning something. Still, if it had just been Jason, Marla could have probably juggled things easily. But in a city like Felport, there is never just one thing going on.

Spell Games is an exciting entry into the series that has me anxious to learn what will happen next. I enjoyed reading it a lot.

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Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Tennessee Williams)

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a play by Tennessee Williams.
Finished on: 22.2.2018

Southern plantation patriarch Big Daddy is celebrating his birthday and the remission of his cancer, and his son Brick and his wife Maggie are getting ready for the party. More or less. Brick has a broken leg and is drunk already. Maggie worries about Brick’s brother Gooper and his wife Mae who she believes are trying to cut them out of the estate. And that’s not the only tension in the family. And things aren’t exactly great between Brick and Maggie either.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a fantastic play with strong characters that give you an intense look at human relationships. And since we’re talking Tennessee Williams, it’s also depressing as fuck.

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Kindred (Octavia E. Butler)

Kindred is a novel by Octavia E. Butler.
Finished on: 20.2.2018

On her 26th birthday, Dana is supposed to celebrate with her white husband Kevin. Instead, Dana is pulled back in time to the 19th century. She sees a boy drowning and saves his life before she comes back to the present. But she can barely process what happened before she gets pulled back again to find the boy a little older. Somehow her fate seems to be intertwined with his. But a black woman on an antebellum plantation is in a precarious position to say the least.

Kindred is a fascinating, well-written, smart book that really takes the system of slavery apart – and in a way that makes for an amazing page-turner.

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To Hold the Bridge (Garth Nix)

To Hold the Bridge is a short story collection by Garth Nix (including a novella of the Old Kingdom series).
Finished on: 12.2.2018
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]

To Hold the Bridge offers a wide range of stories in many genres – from fantasy to scifi to fairy tales to fanfiction. Most of them are absolutely enjoyable and there are some that left me wanting more so much, I wished they had been expanded into novels. It’s a lovely, strong collection that really has a lot to offer.

Read more about each of the stories after the jump.

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Die Judenbuche [The Jew’s Beech] (Annette von Droste-Hülshoff)

Die Judenbuche is a novella by Annette von Droste-Hülshoff.
Finished on: 2.2.2018

Friedrich grows up under tough circumstances with an alcoholic, abusive father. Even after his father dies and he is adopted by his uncle Simon, Friedrich grows up to become a very hard man who is followed around everywhere by Johannes, Simon’s illegitimate son. When a group of wood thieves turn more violent, Friedrich is involved. And when a Jewish man, Aaron, is murderd, Friedrich is also implicated.

Die Judenbuche is an interesting novella that I think could have even profited from being expanded into a novel. In any case the slim volume does carry quite a punch already.

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Behind the Mask: A Superhero Anthology (Ed. by Tricia Reeks and Kyle Richardson)

Behind the Mask is an anthology of superhero stories edited by Tricia Reeks and Kyle Richardson.
Finished on: 29.1.2018
[I won this book as an uncorrected ARC in a Librarything Early Reviewer giveaway.]

Behind the Mask is a very entertaining anthology. Of course, there are stories that worked better for me than others, but overall, I had a lot of fun with the various takes on superheroes in this, stretching from origin stories to questions of inheritance, from every day obstacles to big fights.

After the jump, there’s more about each of the stories separately.

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Wrought Gothic and Other Scenes (Steph Swainston)

Wrought Gothic and Other Scenes is a collection of moments, scenes and vignettes that are part of the Fourlands Series by Steph Swainston.
[Here are my reviews of the other books.]
Finished on: 29.1.2017

Wrought Gothic collects various glimpses into the background of the Fourlands in differing forms. There are some outtakes, a few descriptions from a tour guide, a history essay by Simoon, and a look at Jant’s past.

Wrought Gothic and Other Scenes provides us with some nice background information of the world of the Fourlands and some of its characters, but not everything worked all that well for me. Still, as a supplement of this complex world, it was nice.

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Aftermath (Steph Swainston)

Aftermath is kind of a novella in the Fourlands Series by Steph Swainston. It’s actually a first look at the next novel in the Series, The Savant and the Snake which hasn’t been released yet, and includes some bonus material.
[Here are my reviews of the other books.]
Finished on: 27.1.2017

After the events of Fair Rebel, there are a lot of pieces to be picked up. When Gayle, the Castle’s Lawyer, wakes up from her injuries, Simoon, the Castle’s Treasurer, is already waiting for her. He is deeply unsettled by events and tries to find his footing again. He talks things through with Gayle, trying to figure out how to go on from there.

Aftermath is short and probably mostly for more committed fans of the series, with the background information and the glimps of what’s to come it provides. I really enjoyed it.

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Call Me by Your Name (André Aciman)

Call Me by Your Name is a novel by André Aciman.
Finished on: 25.1.2018

Teenager Elio spends the summer in Italy with his parents as every year. And as every year, they are joined by a doctoral student who can work with Elio’s father – a professor – and revise his own writing. Elio isn’t too thrilled about the intrusion that costs him his room. But this year the student who shows up is Oliver and Oliver has something about him. Elio realizes that he is in love with Oliver, but Oliver’s detached and sometimes outright brazen manner leaves little doubt that he doesn’t reciprocate the feelings.

Call Me By Your Name has a beautiful first half and a more difficult second half. I enjoyed it, but not without reservations.

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