Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Reading recap: March

I had a good reading month last month. Everything I read was delightful and entertaining, on top of which they were good books too. Again, I didn’t quite stick to my reading list; two out of five books were outside it.

First up was A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab. It’s the second book in her Shades of Magic trilogy set in a world of parallel Londons that have different levels of magic and which can be travelled between by a special person with enough magic and right words. Grey London is in the Regency England of the ‘real’ world with little or no magic, Red London is abundant with magic, and White London is in permanent winter and constantly struggles to regain its magic by any means necessary. In the first book, Lila gets accidentally drawn from Grey to Red London by Kell who can travel between the worlds, and decides to stay. In this second book, she enters the stage as a pirate and ends up taking part in a tournament of magic. Most of the book is taken by the tournament, and only in the background, unknown to the main characters, are events building towards the final confrontation between Red and White London. Despite this fairly ‘static’ story, I liked the book, maybe even more than I did the first one. The characters were familiar and the emotional baggage between them, from guilt to love and betrayal and everything in between, felt real. And the ending ensures that I absolutely have to read the last book as soon as possible.

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch is the sixth book in his Peter Grant series. Peter is a PC at the special magic branch of the Metropolitan Police in London, and the books are a combination of realistic police procedure, magic and deities; more specifically the river deities that occupy the many rivers of London in their human form, Tyburn in this case. A seemingly accidental death from a drug overdose sends Peter after his long-time adversary, the faceless man, and as always, weird tangents that don’t appear to have anything to do with the case turn out to be the key to it. In his usual manner, Peter manages to create havoc where ever he goes, and the damage he causes to private property will give his bosses nightmares again. I enjoyed the book greatly, especially after the previous book that was a bit of a let-down with its country setting. Peter is at his best in London with his endless snarky commentary on architecture, and countryside doesn’t suit him at all.

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch

The first book outside my list is a collection of Regency romances by the master of the genre, Georgette Heyer. Snowdrift is a new publication of Heyer’s short stories. It’s essentially the same collection as Pistols for Two, with an addition of three recently discovered stories. Most of the stories were romances and many of them took place in carriages and inns, and while they were rather short, they nonetheless managed to convey both the setting and the birth of the romance perfectly. In modern stories, more would probably be needed for a believable romance, but with Heyer, it’s enough that the mighty lordship finds the heroine delightful for the love to spark. I loved every story.

Snowdrift by Georgette Heyer

Next up was an entirely different book: White Trash Zombie Gone Wild by Diana Rowland. It’s the fifth book in her UF series about Angel, a Louisiana trailer park girl turned zombie who works at a morgue for an easy access to brains. In this book, Angel returns to her days as a drug addict with inevitable consequences. Hiding from her zombie friends in shame, she ends up solving a murder on her own. The events were a bit more personal to her this time round and once again it was up to her to save the day. It was a good book, if not as exciting as the previous one. I will continue with the series.

White Trash Zombie Gone Wild by Diana Rowland

The last book of the month was again not on my list. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black is a young adult urban fantasy set in a world where the sudden emergence of vampires has thrown the world into chaos. Vampires, their food (i.e. humans), and victims infected with vampirism are sequestered into ghettos from which it’s pretty much impossible to get out. The book follows Tana, who wakes up after a party to find that all her friends, save one, have been killed by vampires. Since her friend is infected, she heads to the nearest Coldtown with him and a vampire that needs saving from other vampires. The rules of the civilised world don’t apply in Coldtown and she has to learn the hard way who her friends are, but she’s a resourceful heroine and rises to the occasion. I really liked this book. It was a return to the earlier days of vampire books where vampires are violent, deadly, and inhumane. For a YA book, there was quite a lot of death and gory details, but only a little romance and it wasn’t the main focus of the story in any way. It’s a standalone book, but I wouldn’t mind reading more.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

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