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2016/52: The Trespasser -- Tana French
I was doing exactly the same thing as Aislinn: getting lost so deep inside the story in my head, I couldn’t see past its walls to the outside world. I feel those walls shift and start to waver, with a rumble that shakes my bones from the inside out. I feel my face naked to the ice-flavoured air that pours through the cracks and keeps coming. A great shiver is building in my back. [loc. 7950]

slightly spoilery maybe )
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2016/51: A Darker Shade of Magic -- V.E Schwab
Kell wore a very peculiar coat. It had neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two, which would be unexpected, but several, which was, of course, impossible. The first thing he did whenever he stepped out of one London and into another was take off the coat and turn it inside out once or twice (or even three times) until he found the side he needed. [loc. 66]

There are several Londons, in different worlds: the one we might think of as 'ours' is Grey London. Kell, an Antari blood-magician raised as a prince's foster-brother in Red London, is one of the few who has travelled to Grey London (where mad King George III reigns) and White London (the latter a starving post-apocalyptic wasteland) and knows the stories of Black London, destroyed by the magic it embraced. not significantly spoilery )
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2016/50: The Obelisk Gate -- N. K. Jemisin
It shouldn’t work at all, that willpower and concentration and perception should shift mountains. Nothing else in the world works this way. People cannot stop avalanches by dancing well, or make storms happen by refining their hearing. And on some level, you’ve always known that this was there, making your will manifest. This … whatever it is. [loc. 1543]

The Obelisk Gate starts where The Fifth Season stopped: Jemisin doesn't provide a recap, so it is worth reminding oneself of what happened in that novel. non-spoilery review )
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A quiet month: two lectures, one gallery opening. Read more... )
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2016/49: The Essex Serpent -- Sarah Perry

'It’s a sort of blindness, or a choice to be mad – to turn your back on everything new and wonderful – not to see that there’s no fewer miracles in the microscope than in the gospels!’
‘You think – you really think – that it is one or the other: your faith or your reason?’
‘Not only my reason – there’s not enough of that to set against my soul! – but my liberty.' [loc. 1604]

no spoilers! )
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2016/48: The Many Selves of Katherine North -- Emma Geen

The shiver of my cheeks is slowly becoming more pronounced. When I turn my head from side to side, it’s as if the water varies in excitement. And there – my whiskers fizzle, hitting the zenith of a gradient but what that means, I don’t know. Understanding a new sense can take hours, sometimes days; in the end all you can do is get on with the work. I push along the line of agitation. About me, water dances in a lime glow; the disturbed silt a cascade of stars. [loc. 1948]
unspoilery for majority of plot )
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2016/47: It -- Stephen King
Home is the place where when you go there, you have to finally face the thing in the dark. [loc. 1605]
not very spoilery, maybe some structural spoilers )
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2016/46: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street -- Natasha Pulley
‘Well, I know that light is fascinating and full of scientific mystery, but mostly I use it for not walking into objects, and mostly I use ether for not walking into events. It’s there, it’s useful, it’s … not something I can study for more than ten minutes at once without falling asleep. I like mechanics. I’m not the right person to ask for mathematics.’ [loc. 4163]
not significantly spoilery review )
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First came Nine Worlds: love the new venue (Hammersmith Novotel) and felt much less frazzled than in previous years. My Historical Headcanon (concerning Christopher Marlowe) seemed well-received and I was on a couple of interesting panels about historical fiction, fanfiction, writing, etc.

Then to Edinburgh to skew my monthly averages for various types of Culture. I like the shorter-than-usual performances (they averaged an hour): leaves plenty of time for climbing the hills of which Edinburgh is composed, and pausing for refreshment at each summit.
theatre, gigs, circus, literary stuff, opera, comedy )
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The Foxhole Court
The Raven King
The King's Men
Neil realized he was happy. It was such an unexpected and unfamiliar feeling he lost track of the conversation for a minute. He couldn't remember the last time he'd felt this included or safe. It was nice but dangerous. Someone with a past like his, whose very survival depended on secrecy and lies, couldn't afford to let his guard down. [The Raven King, loc. 1050]

some spoilers but not for plot events )
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Queens of Syria, Young Vic, 8th July
Read more... )

Derek Moss, Open Studios -- Cambridge, 17th July
Artwork made from bog oak, driftwood, bronze, teeth, bone ... all displayed in a hot sunny garden with the sound of bees and the scent of roses. Beautiful work, though some of the descriptions were hard to unravel.
website here

Ghostbusters, Greenwich Picturehouse, 23rd July
Read more... )
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2016/42: The Silence of the Sea -- Yrsa Sigurdardottir 18JUL16
Ægir had become fired up by the idea; this might be their only chance to sail the ocean in a luxury yacht, and the voyage would also solve a specific problem that had been troubling him. [loc. 373]

A repossessed luxury yacht crashes into the harbour wall at Reykjavik. It turns out that there's nobody on board at all. So what has happened to the crew of three, and to the family of four -- banker Ægir, his wife Lára, and their twin four-year-old daughters Arna and Bylgja -- who have sailed from Lisbon to Iceland? Thora Gudmundsdottir, engaged by Ægir's parents, is determined to find out: not just because it's an intriguing case, but because she wants to secure the future of the third daughter, Sigga Dögg.

It's a classic locked-room mystery and Sigurdardottir unravels it in two parallel strands: the events on board the yacht, and the investigations of Thora and her team in Iceland. Is the yacht cursed, as some believe? Is there some supernatural force at work? Why did nobody radio for help? And where are the missing persons?

The mystery unravels slowly and in a generally satisfactory way (though I have to say I found Ægir, in particular, annoyingly stupid). I was less interested in Thora and her domestic, social and professional relationships: perhaps if I'd read other novels in the series I'd be keener to see how these evolved. 
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2016/41: Arcadia -- Iain Pears
The English were a different matter. As their lives were so dreary and constrained, the fanciful exuberance of the human spirit was forced to take refuge in the imagination, which was the only place it could exist without attracting disapproval. [loc. 2553]

slightly spoilery )
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2016/40: Carry On -- Rainbow Rowell

"I thought it was a myth."
"One would think, after seven years, you'd stop saying that out loud."
"Well, how am I supposed to know? There isn't a book, is there? All the Magickal Things that Are Actually True and All the Ones that Are Bollocks, Just Like You Thought."
"You're the only magician who wasn't raised with magic. You're the only one who would read a book like that." [loc. 834]
not significantly spoilery )
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2016/39: The Good, The Bad and The Furry: Life with the World's Most Melancholy Cat and Other Whiskery Friends -- Tom Cox
Nobody ever asked the question ‘Who Let the Cats Out?’ in a pop song because the answer is obvious: it was the same person who let them in again two minutes later, and out again two minutes after that. Doors are a classic example of that ‘I hate this – it’s fucking great!’ mantra that seems to be part of the permanent internal monologue of all cats. [loc. 1350]

Occasionally very moving, frequently very funny, and capable of bestowing a warming sense of schadenfreude on any reader who lives in a household where cats do not outnumber humans. Also, several instances of 'thank god it's not just me / my cat'.

What can one say about a book of cat observations, interspersed with anecdotes about the author's (delightful) parents? Reminds me of the best fan writing. This is a compliment.
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2016/38: The Outcast Dead -- Elly Griffiths
... bodies and treasure are often found buried in marshes, to mark that boundary. Was Liz stuck in her own liminal zone, dazed from sadness and lack of sleep, unable to distinguish between dreams and reality? [loc. 1405]

non-spoilery )
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2016/37: The Raven King -- Maggie Stiefvater
It was a far more terrifying idea to imagine how much control he really had over how his life turned out. Easier to believe that he was a gallant ship tossed by fate than to captain it himself.[loc. 4176]

I don't think I can write an interesting and critical review of this final novel in the Raven Cycle without spoilers. ye be warned )
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2016/36: Blue Lily, Lily Blue -- Maggie Stiefvater

...what she didn't realize about Blue and her boys was that they were all in love with one another. She was no less obsessed with them than they were with her, or one another, analysing every conversation and gesture... spending each moment either with one another or thinking about when next they would be with one another. Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn't all-encompassing, that wasn't blinding, deafening, maddening, quickening. It was just that now that she'd had this kind, she didn't want the other.[loc. 1288]
still no major spoilers ... )
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2016/35: The Dream Thieves -- Maggie Stiefvater
Gansey was polite in a way that squashed the other party smaller. Adam was polite to reassure. And this man was polite in a keen, questioning sort of way. He was polite the way tentacles were polite, testing the surface carefully, checking to see how it reacted to his presence.[loc. 2937]

non-spoilery review: it is getting harder to be non-spoilery )
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2016/34: The Raven Boys -- Maggie Stiefvater
With the words 'ley line' spoken aloud, a memory was conjured: [he was] in a dense wood, sweat collected on his upper lip. He was seventeen and shivering. Every time his heart beat, red lines streaked in the corners of his vision, the trees darkening with his pulse. It made the leaves seem like they were all moving, though there was no wind. [His friend] was on the ground. Not dead, but dying.[loc. 907]

non-spoilery )


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