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This book was a mess, and worse, it was a boring, unfunny mess. False Value opens with Peter Grant, wizard policeman, starting a new job in a company that does geeky stuff involving data and algorithms.
Its owner, an Australian tech billionaire, appears to be involved in a secret Ben aaronovitch blog that has some link to the theft of a historical, possibly magical, artefact. Unfortunately, Aaronovitch decides to use a convoluted, back-and-forth timeline in the first part of the book to increase suspense, which is unnecessary and annoying.
And this was just the start of the hard core sci-fi in-jokes, because ultimately, False Value is science fiction, or a mix of science fiction and fantasy.
Which is fine! Ben Aaronovitch is a Doctor Who writer and this is clearly a genre he loves. It also seems to me that Aaronovitch has lost control of his world-building. He keeps inventing cool bits of magic to throw into his story — talking foxes! So, for example, a talking fox appears for a paragraph to remind us of how awesome the concept is, even though this has nothing to do with the plot, then he disappears.
The tech plot involves a type of magic developed by women, but where are Lady Helena and Caroline, the witches from The Hanging Tree? Aaronovitch is juggling a lot of elements and he keeps dropping them. There is a bigger issue, I think. The first seven books had a long narrative arc involving the Ben aaronovitch blog Man, which was mostly resolved in Book Seven, although Lesley remained at large.
Are we meant to believe that Peter and the rest of the London police force would just forget about Lesley and move on? Is False Value meant to be the start of a new seven-book arc with a new villain? Is it possible to write a long-running, open-ended series of books while maintaining character development and the quality of the writing — especially when Aaronovitch is concurrently writing graphic novels, Ben aaronovitch blog and short stories, working on a Rivers of London television series and keeping up with a hectic publicity schedule?
I went back to read some of the earlier books in the series and was struck by how much I enjoyed them. Despite my familiarity with these stories, they felt fresh and funny. So long, Peter, and thanks for all the fish. Remember how I resolved to spend more time reading books and blogging about them in ? I work as a hospital administrator in a large, busy public hospital — a job that is stressful and underappreciated at the best of times, and these are not the Ben aaronovitch blog of times.
I should note that I work with some lovely people dedicated to the well-being of their patients and colleagues, and that Australia has so far, through a combination of luck and good governance, avoided the terrible rates of infection, sickness and death that other countries have experienced during the pandemic. I also know how lucky I am to have a job, when so many others are now unemployed.
However, I have read a few new-to-me books that I liked. The narration alternates between four Dublin schoolgirls and a young, ambitious detective who is investigating a murder in the grounds of their posh boarding school. The intense friendships between the girls felt true to me, although their fate is rather depressing. The author of this book was the historical consultant for the series and he sets out which parts of the script actually happened or occurred in a less dramatic manner than portrayed on screen.
As a companion read, I picked up The Queenan eccentric extended essay by A. In this book, Wilson asserts that although Queen Elizabeth II is badly educated and dull, her steadiness and respect for tradition have been good for Britain, so hereditary monarchy is a logical and beneficial system of government. This is an intense, deeply affecting novella in which a history professor, his three students and Bill, a local expert in living off the land, spend a week emulating the lives of Iron Age Ben aaronovitch blog in the north of England.
Bill is a bigot and a bully, tyrannising his wife and daughter, controlling every aspect of their lives, keeping them in line with vicious verbal and physical abuse. But there are no excuses for how Bill and the other men start to behave during the field trip and the tension ratchets up to Ben aaronovitch blog unbearable levels.
This year, I was in a reading slump and a writing slump and a general dealing-with-life slumpso I finished reading only 31 new books. I did a lot of comfort reading of old favourites and I spent many hours online reading newspapers and journal articles and blog posts, trying to make some sense of the chaotic world we live in.
I also got sucked into the toxic garbage fire that is Twitter.
I might delete my Twitter or I might work out a more constructive way of using it in But here are my favourite books from this year:. This year, I failed to finish reading a of novels that had received a great deal of hype. Writers do not tend to live fascinating lives. Please, novelists, from now on, write about characters who do something else for a living. I am not sure I can truly call Growing Up Queer in Australiaedited by Benjamin Law, a favourite book, but I found it to be far more interesting and wide-ranging than I expected.
I really liked Skima graphic novel set in Canada inwritten by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki. Teenage Kim is having a fairly bad year. I read some great books aimed Ben aaronovitch blog middle graders. El Deafo by Cece Bell was an entertaining, endearing graphic memoir about a girl with acquired hearing loss growing up in s America.
This time, the pranksters plot to oust their terrible school principal, but find his replacement is even worse. Twelve-year-old Frankie is busy looking after her eccentric little brother Newt while her widowed mother works overtime as a nurse. Ben aaronovitch blog child characters are realistic and endearing and the historical research is thoughtfully incorporated into the story.
And yes, books set in are now regarded as historical fiction. I feel so old. With the dubious assistance of a plastic carrot on wheels that dispenses psychological advice, a giant purple Ben aaronovitch blog with a passion for community theatre, and her awful cousin Graham, Fidge must solve a series of clues to rescue the Wimbley Woos from an evil dictator and return to the real world. I am hoping next year will be a more successful year for me in terms of reading and writing books.
Here is the pile of books I brought home from the library for holiday reading:. Thank you to everyone who visited Memoranda this year. Happy Christmas to everyone celebrating it and happy end-of-December to everyone else! Lies Sleeping is the seventh novel about Peter Grant, Detective Constable and apprentice wizard — part of an ongoing series of novels, novellas, short stories and comics.
Fortunately, in Lies Sleepingthe author chooses to focus on one major story line that has been present since the start and brings it to a satisfying conclusion. Not that I ever mind Peter rambling on about history.
The more history, the better. You know things are bad when both Seawoll and Nightingale are urging Peter to see a therapist. The backstory was awful, but the end was so lovely. And things that made me go hmmm: — Abigail. For example, has there been an explanation of the foxes in one of the comics? The foxes were great, by the way, just confusing. I read copy Is this book worth nearly two dollars a ? Peter, Abigail and Toby the ghost-hunting dog up with Jaget of the British Transport Police to find out what the ghosts want — and then realise that they need to save a real, live person from a terrible fate.
There are two other strands of the story, one involving a brand-new river god and the other involving those talking foxes who first popped up in Whispers Under Ground. This is at least one too many strands for a Ben aaronovitch blog of this length. No, wait — we find out they talk to Abigail because she feeds them kebabs. I sincerely hope they do something more interesting in the next book.
The central mystery itself is resolved fairly quickly and is probably the least interesting part of the book, although the ghosts themselves are poignant. Nightingale calls her a genius! She can talk to animals! But first, some statistics. I only read 46 new books this year new to me, that isfewer than I usually read. I also read a great Ben aaronovitch blog of mostly depressing political news in newspapers, magazines and blogs. It was non-fiction that really captured my interest this year.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to Memoranda in Happy holidays! There are times — for instance, when the world appears to be heading to hell in a handbasket — when even the most politically engaged, newspaper-addicted reader needs to escape into some frothy fiction. And fortunately for me, two of my favourite writers happened to have new novels out. It was good to see Peter back in London where he belongs, solving crimes, making new enemies and nearly getting killed Ben aaronovitch blog various dramatic and supernatural ways.
What, for example, has happened to Abigail? Anne Tyler also has a new book out, this one a modern retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. Now, I really, really hate The Taming of the Shrewbut I figured if anyone could find some charm and humour in the story, it would be Anne Tyler and indeed, I did enjoy a of scenes, particularly the ones in which Kate, in this version a preschool assistant, interacts with her four-year-old students.
Tyler decides to make Kate the intelligent, strong-minded year-old daughter of an eccentric Baltimore scientist, Dr Battista. Ben aaronovitch blog makes no sense whatsoever.
If Kate is so smart and stubborn and independent, why is she still living at home acting as an unpaid servant for Ben aaronovitch blog selfish father and younger sister, and working in a dead-end child-care job she dislikes? Why does she have no friends and why has she never had a boyfriend or girlfriend? If she wants to improve her life, which she does, there are dozens of ways to accomplish this without having to marry a man she barely knows, and who rapidly reveals himself to be a sexist jerk with no social skills. All the characters are paper-thin, but I kept reading, mildly engaged with the story, until the climactic scene in which Kate gives a speech that nearly made me throw the book across the room.
They just get frustrated because they have to be in charge of everything and have all the power and success in society!Ben aaronovitch blog
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Water Weed Blog Tour: Ben Aaronovitch on Diversity, Collaboration, and the Rivers of London Graphic Novels