the_lady_lily: (Bibliography)
[personal profile] the_lady_lily
Again, this tag has been underused this year, for Reasons. More reading of a hit and run nature.

25 - ToddlerCalm - Sarah Ockwell-Smith - I've written about her Gentle Sleep book before, and read this as a bit of advance preparation for dealing with a tiny with greater cognitive capacity. Still felt comfortable, so hurrah for that.

26 - The Labours of Hercules - Agatha Christie - technically for academic purposes so doesn't really belong here, but I actually really enjoyed reading this and would recommend it heartily. It's twelve short stories on the theme of the twelve labours of Hercules, as Poirot decides to enter retirement by solving twelve crimes worthy of his mythical namesake. Utterly daft and utterly delightful.

27 - Medicus - Ruth Downie - this series is a new discovery to me, a result of starting to put Stuff I've Read into Library Thing and seeing what comes out. A murder mystery set in Roman Britain with the doctor as protagonist, finding himself caught in a web of local intrigue including illegal slavery, local politics, brothels and local members of the legion doing naughty things. It has a bad habit of assuming that ancient medical practice was exactly like modern medical practice, which is fine when you suspend disbelief (if you're me). Multiple perspectives (from the doctor and from the woman who may or may not be his slave) make this all particularly engaging.

28 - Ruso and the Demented Doctor - Ruth Downie - the second of the series. More local politics and intrigue, this time closer to the border at the home town of the supposed slavewoman. More getting muddled up in things despite best intentions, more multiple perspectives (which, writing this, is really quite clever from an imperialist point of view and I hadn't realised quite how interesting that is), and yes. A series worth continuing with.

29 - A Man of Genius - Janet Todd - made such an impression I had to look it up. About of journey of self-discovery, a woman writer falling for a man who claims he'll write yet never does, about the devaluing of women's writing versus male 'genius', about mental instability, about London and Venice and travelling and never getting away. A bit so-so, on reflection - big ideas, but the delivery not quite up to scratch.

30 - Bedknob and Broomsticks - Mary Norton - I couldn't remember if I'd read this as a child so decided to read it again. It is daft and nothing like the film. This will come as no surprise to anybody.

31 - Sorcerer to the Crown - Zen Cho - a rather wonderful bit of Jane Austen meets Regency meets Jonathan Norrell and Mr. Strange, wherein a young woman decides to do sorcery despite not meant to be able to and generally causes cheerful chaos to Britain's Sorcerer Royal. Excellent fun and I'm looking forward to the sequel.

32 - How to raise an amazing child: the Montessori way to bring up caring, confident children - Tim Seldin - read to find out just what this Montessori business is all about, then. Stole the good bits, ignored the bits which felt less sensible or practical for us.

33 - The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox - Maggie O'Farrell - heard about this on the radio and decided to give it a go. Looks at the life of one of the women committed to an insane asylum on the spurious grounds often used in the early twentieth century, then released into the care of family members who didn't know she existed when the mental health care provisions changed at the end of the century. Socially quite interesting and the plot rattled along, although the half-sibling romance subplot tried a bit too hard and had its joins showing.

34 - A Man Lay Dead - Ngaio Marsh - I've never read any Ngaio Marsh so decided to give it a go with the first murder mystery she wrote. I have to say that I wasn't particularly taken - it was perfectly serviceable but not a great deal more than that. I'm undecided about whether to give her another go.

35 - Shades of Milk and Honey - Mary Robinette Kowal - inspired by Sorcerer to the Crown, I had a go at another Magical Austen style book, this one about a world where folding glamour is sort of like painting - ladies can get a skill in it while professional glamorists get all commissions and things. It was pleasingly daft, with Austen-if-she-could-have-gotten-away-with-it romance plots, and generally I felt it was what I was in the mood for at the time.

36 - Glamour in Glass - Mary Robinette Kowal - the sequel. Equally pleasing because we get politics and Napoleon and glamour as weapon and cross-dressing and deceit and intrigue. All very silly-ily, but delightful. I think I'm going to have a go at the next one, unsurprisingly - there's a suite of them.

37 - Tooth and Claw - Jo Walton - following the Regency/magic theme, this is Austen with dragons. A world full of highly stylized rules and regulations and what can and cannot be done and etiquette and who has to marry whom and so forth. With dragons. And lawyers. And parsons. And churches. And social hierarchy and niceties. Basically really lovingly done fantasy homage with a good plot - I never thought I'd find myself shouting 'blush! Blush, dammit!', but in I was caught.

38 - Detection Unlimited - Georgette Heyer - better known for her historical novels, I was surprised to discover Heyer had done a murder mystery so thought I'd try it. Not bad, with strong characters, but not a particularly convincing example of the genre. While I can remember the people she drew, and she had clearly studied the form and was nodding to it, not much else really stands out.

39 - New Grub Street - George Gissing - a bit more hardcore literature here, catching the spirit of the world of literature as the old literary journals started to shift to newspapers. A wonderful social portrait - nobody gets what they deserves and cads are caddish to the core despite nobler intentions. The image of literary London that Gissing captures is also really vivid - you get a sense of what it was like to feel the world move, and try to keep up.

40 - The Red House Mystery - A.A. Milne - another in the 'did they write a murder mystery?' stakes - yes, Milne did. It's definitely more in the pastiche school, with an accidental hero of independent means who solves things through pure brain power and a rather dim but terribly well-meaning side-kick. Good as a read but not necessarily as a mystery.

41 - The Daughters of a Genius - Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey - another one of those schoolgirl/young women stories, this time about the daughters of a writer and how one of them almost gets married but stops before she makes a dreadful mistake, and how another hangs on for a literary type of her own, and so on. Similar to the others.

42 - The English Orphans - Mary Jane Holmes - I had a big lull in reading this because it just got silly (in the 'kill your darlings' sense) and I couldn't cope with it. Finished it, though, and the inevitable lots of death resulted in highly moral comeuppances. I don't think I like her as much as Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey, whose morals tend to involve less death by consumption, as a rule.

Date: 2017-01-02 10:14 pm (UTC)
owlfish: (Default)
From: [personal profile] owlfish
I have enjoyed many of the same alternate Regency-ish books!

Date: 2017-01-03 07:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
There's something about them, isn't there? They are weirdly satisfying whilst also being pleasantly easy to read and not requiring too much brain power.


the_lady_lily: (Default)

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