2019 in books

Preambule

As always, a mix of re-reading books I like and new authors & series and some disappointements as well, nothing is perfect…

I did not achieve the 2019 Goodreads contest this time, partly because this has been a bad year work-wise (no I won’t give any details, please don’t ask) and I went another way to compensate for this, I started being more serious about playing World of Tanks1 so it took most of my time. Still read a decent number of books but I felt I didn’t have enough energy to give to books, WoT is easier on my mind in these times. I did not write any blog posts either as you can see apart from these ones.

Our friends at Goodreads have done some nicely presented stats here and this article will go in more details than just stats :)

To the books!

Author of the Year

This year again, I feel the best author for me this year is Adrian Tchaikovsky. The followup to “Children of Time” called Children of Ruin didn’t disappoint at all, even exceeded my rather high expectations… I also read The Expert System’s Brother and this is where Adrian surprises me again (no spoilers), this author is exceptional.

Reading Again

None this year, surprisingly enough, felt that there are way too many new books to take some time to re-read others :)

Old Series

There we find series I started before 2019 like the Ambassador or The Dresden Files.

  • Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley, the next (and hopefully not the last) book in The Checquy Files series where The Grafters and the Checquy decide to merge but of course, this is not an easy task, esp. when threats are abound… :) Heard that the series was maybe to be adapted into a TV series, not sure where it is now.
  • The Dresden Files is a long-running series by Jim Butcher. The series is still developing, showing more aspects of both Harry and Molly. I read White Night, Small Favor and Turn Coat, you wonder how he manage to survive.
  • Finally read the 2nd book in the Eden Paradox series written by my colleague Barry Kirwan. As I told him, this volume is packed with many (too many?) new material about the races involved and it is a bit hard to follow. Still looking forward to the third one :)
  • Next was the 2nd book in the Military SF series called the Confederation by Tanya Huff, called The Better Part of Valor. Valor, now Staff Sergeant, is supposed to serve with her soldiers as bodyguards but of course it does not go as expected. The whole scenario is a bit too close to the previous one, we will see how the third turn out to see if the whole series keeps being entertaining.
  • Back to the Laundry Files by Charles Stross for the last book about Bob Howard called The Rhesus Chart. He now has to deal with Vampires (but of course Stross makes them not the usual blood-sucking kind…).
  • Before watching the 4th season of the TV Series, I read the next book in the The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey… I read the second full novel called Caliban’s War where we learn much more than we expected about our universe…
  • The Mercy Thompson series is one of my favourites in urban fantasy and both River Marked and Frost Burned keeps on exploring the ties between Mercy and Adam, in addition to various issues with the Fae.
  • Next, I went back to the universe of Angels and Daemons from Teresa Frohock with lots of books: I finished the novellas of the first volume Without Light or Guide and The Second Death, the slight quieter novella A Rose, A Dragon then, thanks to Teresa, I was able to read both Where Oblivion Lives and the upcoming Carved from Stone and Dream ! Thanks a lot, it is a pleasure to discuss with you and to be able to help you with Paris and its history was awesome.
  • This year saw the return of our janitors-in-space crew with Terminal Uprising by Jim C. Hines, after learning the truth about the feral human problem and the involment of the Krakaus, they try to find some proofs…
  • Like last year, it is always sad to see the end of a series and in 2019, it was the last book in the Iron Souls series by Becca Andre. Castings Souls was a fitting conclusion to the series and hopefully, we will see more books in this world, like she did for the Final Formula one.
  • Next was the new book in the World of the Others series by Anne Bishop. With Wild Country she keeps exploring the rest of the world with different characters, relations between humans and the Others, etc. 2020 will see the return to the Dark Jewels universe \o/
  • Now we had two books in the Ambassador SF series by Patty Jansen, The Last Frontier and The Alabaster Army in which we follow Cory first about an important vote on whether Earth join Gamra or not and then about what is going on with the Tamer world.
  • After another long wait, we have the next book in the Sorcerer Royal series by Zen Cho with The True Queen and… this was my first disappointement. Way too predictable to my taste, no real surprise although the characters are good, too bad.
  • Like with A. Tchaikovsky, I need at least a Scalzi book every year and I read two in 2019 :) The Ghost Brigades, book #2 in the Old Man’s War series, showing more light on this very special kind of soldier unit we saw in the first one and Redshirts, John Scalzi’s take on Star Trek, brilliant.
  • I truely enjoyed the first book in the Tales from The Black Chamber by S. M. Stirling last year and the second one Theater of Spies is an excellent following. I love now that Luz and Ciara are now a couple both in work and private lives. Nice James Bond-like in an uchronia post-WWI setting.
  • This year, Aliette de Bodard released at last the 3rd book in Dominion of the Fallen! (The House of Sundering Flames) and it was glorious, the whole Paris-based universe is a marvel to explore. Keep the books flowing Aliette! <3
  • Tom Llyod released the next bok in the God’s Fragments series, Knight of Stars. This is supposed to be a vacation for the Cards but we can imagine how that could possibly end up… :)
  • My last book in 2019 was the next Invisible Library one, The Secred Chapter by Genevieve Cogman in which we follow Irène and Kai in Art-related heist with a complete motley crew of dragons, Fae and humans… Wonderful addition to the series!

New Series (and authors)

Quite a few new authors in this section with debut works and I always welcome new voices in these genres.

  • It is always a joy to read Lindsay Buroker books and this new fantasy series does not disappoint, full of witty characters and action: “Agents of the Crown”, the first book put in place everything that is needed for the next books. These were Eye of Truth, Blood Ties and Duty Bound for this year. More to come :)
  • I read both volumes in Becky Chambers’s Wayfarers series, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit. While the former is an interesting space opera with many different aspects & characters including an AI, the latter explore more closely how that AI interacts with the outside world in some special circumstances. Both are very enjoyable but also push you into thinking about things you may not have reflected upon…
  • Next was Elliott Kay’s Poor Man’s Fight in which we can see how the current US studentship system with its high debt issue can push someone to become a soldier. A bit too much of a “Die Hard”-in-space-with-pirates but still enjoyable.
  • Ahhh, new author, new world to explore and new culture, here is what Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri is all about. Fantasy and magic in an Mughal India-inspired country as a debut novel. Enjoyed it quite a bit and looking forward to the next one.
  • I also went into a series I marked to read some time ago: Magic Ex Libris by Jim C. Hines, magic and books, what else to ask for? Really nice series with quite a few twists you may not have expected, like it :) I read the first two Libriomancer and Codex Born. Quite a few analogies with the Invisible Library but different enough :)
  • I heard a lot of good about the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch and I must agree, it is quite pleasant to see urban fantasy/thriller (polar in French) in this settings and I learned a lot about mythology around the rivers themselves. Very nice for the first novel I read Rivers of London .
  • Having a hard time last year with the Foreigner series by C. J. Cherryh, it took me some time to read A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine because the settings sound way too familiar but I’ll happily admit I was wrong and Martine gets right all that Cherryh (for me) got wrong. Characters, world, culture and plot is much better, recommended, hopefully the next one in this Teixcalaan series won’t be too long :)
  • Zeitgeber is a short novella published freely by Tor from Greg Egan. An interesting take on sleeping rythm and how humans deal with it in case something unusual happen. Liked very much.
  • I enjoyed RJ Barker The Wounded Kingdom last year (still have to read the last one though) so I was interested in The Bone Ships, his new Fantasy series and it was a great debut, lots of interesting concepts in there, very good characters and a great plot!
  • One of the best books I read in 2019 was Gideon the Ninth, first in the The Locked Tomb series by a new author Tamsyn Muir. Reminds me of And Then There Were None by the late Agatha Christie but in a completely different settings with spaceships, necromancers and rebel sworswoman, excellent!

Comics

Only three this year.

  • Back to the life of Debbie Tung through her love of books. Not as original as the previous one, Book Love is still a pleasant read.
  • I talked last year about the excellent comic series called Sunstone by Stjepan Šejić now with The Volume 6. After exploring the relationship of Ally and Lisa, we are going to see more of former lovers we saw a bit in the preceding volumes, gives some perspective on the characters we have been following.
  • And the last one was a really nice surprise, a rewriting of Snow White by “Neil Gaiman” called Snow, Glass, Apples is a much darker setting, excellent!

Non Fiction

Apparenly none this year, surprising enough even for me.

Dropped Books

Ok, every year, some books do not make it and stay on the “Reading” list or even fell to the “Nope” one. I have not given up on these but sadly they didn’t caught me as I expected. Maybe later.

  • While I did enjoy the first two books in Charles Stross’s Merchant Princes series, the third one The Clan Corporate is not going as easily as the previous ones. Maybe it is the reviews I read about the book or simply I can’t get back into it…
  • This year, one of these is unfortunately the highly-acclaimed This is How You Lose The Time War by both Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, I just could not get involved with neither characters nor the way the story is told.
  • At the end of the year, I started The Song of the Sycamore by Edward Cox and am not having the best of time with it, not sure if this is the book or me but we’ll see if I can finish it in 2020.

Last words

So, this year was not as plentiful as the previous one, having a hard time to read, especially in the second part, funny how the brain works… Gaming does exercise it too but in so many different and unexpected ways. It was difficult to find the energy needed to go into a book but shooting tanks was ok. I will try to balance a bit more in 2020.

Some of these books are referenced by a French blog from a friend of mine, either for the original versions or their translations. Do not hesitate to visit Outrelivres, Stéphanie does a great job of reviewing!

And as always, read books by and on women, they know their stuff.

Series

Authors

The officiel sites for the authors, GR or WP if no site are available.

Archives

Notes

  1. See the main EU site if you are interested, I can even “recruit” you if you want to play, that way you get stuff for free.

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