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March 2019

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[not yet available via Amazon, so no link]
"I do not like to be touched by strangers."
"You have no right to refuse, Mr. Turner," Anne told him. "Sir John holds people's hands because he cannot see them."
"But that is to help him detect an offender, is it not? I am confessing to the crime myself."
"Your confession may be a lie," said Anne.
"What reason have I to lie?" She paused.
"To protect someone, perhaps," she said finally. [loc. 4036]

The setting is London in 1770. Dr Daniel Barton and his students are happily dissecting the corpse of a pregnant woman when they're alerted to the approach of the Bow Street Runners. Quickly concealing the cadaver in the oddly-designed fireplace, they brazen out the questions. But when the students go retrieve the corpse, it has company: the body of a young man with arms and legs amputated, and the body of a middle-aged man whose face has been destroyed.
no spoilers )
2019/18: Wakenhyrst -- Michelle Paver
I'm still conscious of that staring from the fen. I can't shake off the feeling that something has been let loose -- and that it's out there now, biding its time. Waiting to come in. [loc. 2698]

The framing narrative of Wakenhyrst is set in 1966. Dr Robin Hunter is keen to contact the elusive Maud Stearne, daughter of esteemed medievalist Edmund Stearne who, fifty years earlier, murdered a man in broad daylight as his teenaged daughter watched. Since then, Maud has lived in seclusion at Wake's End, the family home, deep in the heart of the fens. She refuses to publish her father's notebooks -- which Dr Hunter believes may contain observations about the Wakenhyrst Doom, a sixteenth-century painting now on display in the village church -- or his unfinished work on medieval mystic Alice Pyett.
spoiler, clearly marked )
2019/17: The Last Walk Out -- David Helton
Paintbrush was a good dreamer. She'd predicted at least two deaths ... a lot of minor accidents, and the sighting, last year, of a skyman. Nobody had seen a skyman around here for a generation, and then Paintbrush dreamt about one and told everyone about it the next morning, and that afternoon Breeze looked up and saw a skyman way over on the south Gorge rim. For a long time he looked down at the settlement through that big eye of his ... [p. 8]

minor spoilers )
2019/16: The Goblin Emperor -- Katherine Addison
"I can already see the changes," Shulivar said. "You do not hold on to power as your father and grandfather did. You are not afraid to let it go. And you have new ideas, ideas that no emperor before you has ever had. ... No other emperor would ever have attended the funeral of his father's servants. No other emperor would have accepted a woman as his nohecharis. You bring change ..." [p. 398]

Confession: I started this novel more or less when it came out, and abandoned it because I found the plethora of names and terms confusing. (I don't think I was at my best that spring.) Also, I had somehow missed the fact that 'Katherine Addison' is a pen name for Sarah Monette ...
no spoilers )
2019/15: Swordheart -- T. Kingfisher
"It's a sword."
"Yes, but you came out of a sword. It seems redundant."
He stared at her as if she had lost her mind. "I can't very well wield myself, lady."
Oh. Perhaps he'd go blind. [p. 18]

minor spoilers )
2019/14: Temeraire -- Naomi Novik
Certainly no man not raised to the life could be easy at the prospect of suddenly becoming an aviator, and he loathed the necessity of asking his officers to face it. It meant, after all, an end to any semblance of ordinary life. It was not like sailing, where you might hand your ship back to the Navy and be set ashore, often whether you liked it or not. Even in times of peace, a dragon could not be put into dock, nor allowed to wander loose... [p. 11]

First read as an ARC in 2005, acquired at the Worldcon. Reread because after seeing How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World I wanted a cheering story about human/'animal' friendship and partnership, and this seemed to fit the bill. minor spoilers )
2019/13: The Fever King -- Victoria Lee
They ought to walk into that camp with the ground soaked in blood and magic and look Bea King in the face as she died alone and frightened at eight years old, at eight years old, and tell her she didn't deserve to stay in their country because her parents brought her here illegally. Because she was a refugee. [loc. 2565]

The world has moved on: it's the twenty-second century, and the former United States has fragmented. Noam, growing up in Carolinia (rich and Northern) is the son of undocumented immigrants from Atlantia (poor and Southern) and has been fighting for refugee rights since he was old enough to understand that Carolinia didn't welcome him or his family. Now he's woken up in a hospital bed, survivor of the magical attack that killed his father -- and made Noam, aged sixteen, a technopath.
mild early-plot spoilers )
01FEB19: How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World -- Greenwich Odeon
"Just keep flying until we find the end of the world."
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02FEB19: Burne-Jones, Tate Britain
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14FEB19: Hamilton, Palace Theatre
Third timeRead more... )

15FEB19: Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Greenwich Picturehouse
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22FEB19: The Monstrous Child (Gavin Higgins, Francesca Simon), Linbury Theatre
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2019/12: Everything Under -- Daisy Johnson
I'd always understood that the past did not die just because we wanted it to. The past signed to us: clicks and cracks in the night, misspelled words, the jargon of adverts, the bodies that attracted us or did not, the sounds that reminded us of this or that. The past was not a thread trailing behind us but an anchor. [p. 14]

I read this on a friend's recommendation, and had managed to forget what she had told me about the embedded myth(s): which was a good thing, as I could better appreciate the gradual revelation of the themes, and the way the story was constructed -- gender-bent, seen aslant, in negative space.
no spoilers )
2019/11: Any Old Diamonds -- K. J. Charles
He was going to commit a betrayal. Jerry was absolutely right about that. The months of lies were going to reach a culmination in Castle Speight, the trap he'd helped build would be sprung. He'd embarked on this path certain in his soul that it didn't matter what he did so long as his goal was clear, his heart pure. The lie of that had become clear weeks ago. Jerry was right. If he did this, he wouldn't be able to forgive himself. It would be unforgivable. [loc. 1981]

contains spoilers )
2019/10: My Sister the Serial Killer -- Oyinkan Braithwaite
Maybe she is reaching out because she has sent another man to his grave prematurely, or maybe she wants to know if I can buy eggs on the way home. Either way, I'm not picking up. [loc. 304]

Korede works as a nurse, whispering her secrets to a coma patient in the hospital. Her little sister Ayoola is a dress designer and Instagram star. Ayoola is also a killer: Korede cleans up after her.
no spoilers )
2019/09: Jonathan Dark, or the Evidence of Ghosts -- A. K. Benedict
'London is ghost-locked,' Frank says. 'Every corner, alleyway, highway, high-rise, gym, café, canal, library or house is haunted in some way. Every window has a ghost looking out. Part of you sees, and it is this part which is screaming at all times inside... Cities are difficult when you're in denial of ghosts. It is an unconscious stress to the body and mind. London is at once an old city heaving with history's spirits and a powerful, steely centre that attracts the young and driven. Its inhabitants breathe in ghost motes every day. Some thrive ...' [loc. 168]

no spoilers )
2019/08: Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day -- Seanan McGuire
There's no drug in this world like the feeling of a ghost touching living skin. Dead people provide a clean, natural, intensely addictive high, one that doesn't come with any downsides. We take time from the living. We leave them younger, and there ain't much humanity won't do for eternal youth. [p. 35]

contains a spoiler, clearly marked, in white text )
2019/07: The Prisoner of Limnos -- Lois McMaster Bujold
... even demons mourned, and had a long time to do so. Grief, guilt, regret… not everything they learned how to do from their human riders was a boon. He did not press. [loc. 1775]

non spoilery )
2019/06: The Burning Page -- Genevieve Cogman
'I have spent most of my life preferring books to people,' Irene said sharply. 'Just because I like a few specific people doesn't change anything.' [p. 332]

not spoilery )
2019/05: The Masked City -- Genevieve Cogman
Could the story have turned against her? Was this the part of the narrative where the heroine in disguise is confronted by her arch-enemies – or possibly where the protagonists find and dispose of the villainous spy, all depending on the reader's viewpoint? [p. 172]

non-spoilery )
2018/76: The Wych Elm -- Tana French
... every time I thought of [what they found] my mind ran aground on the flat, stunning, unbudging reality of it; there didn’t seem to be any way to think beyond or around it. It reminded me, with a deep sickening lurch in my stomach, of my few memories from right after the attack: disconnected images stripped of any context or meaning, only and vastly and unthinkably themselves... [loc. 3021]

Toby Hennessy thinks he's a lucky man. He's grown up in a comfortable middle-class family: he's handsome, charming, et cetera: nothing bad has ever happened to him. a bit spoilery but not for specifics )
2019/04: Rosewater -- Tade Thompson
"We have more experience than any Western country in dealing with first contact. What do you think we experienced when your people carved up Africa at the Berlin Conference? You arrived with a different intelligence, a different civilisation, and you raped us. But we're still here." [p. 231]

non-spoilery )
05JAN19: The Favourite -- Greenwich Picturehouse -- ★★★★★

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09JAN19: Doctor Faustus -- Wanamaker Theatre -- ★★★★
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12JAN19: Anglo Saxon Kingdoms -- British Library -- ★★★
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25JAN19: Ashurbanipal: King of Syria, King of the World -- British Museum -- ★★★★★
Read more... )
2019/03: Blackbird in the Reeds -- Sam Burns
"People in this town are afraid of outsiders, but it's not like regular, small-town paranoia. It's like 'you could learn our secret and get us all killed' paranoia." [p. 145]

Devon Murphy is something of a drifter. Like his mother, he has the knack of getting people to do what he wants -- but unlike his mother he isn't comfortable with his gift, so tends to avoid close relationships. When his grandmother summons him to the small coastal town of Rowan Harbor, Devon packs up his life in his father's old Corvette and hits the major spoilers )