Bryanoz reads on in 2015
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I read general fiction, some classics, fantasy, and some self-help/spiritual type books.
I finished a big challenge last year so am happy to have a 'free' year of reading, my own pile plus plenty of recommendations from this group.
Comments and suggestions are very welcome !
Have begun Peter Carey's Amnesia, not gripping me so far...
Hope we all have a great new year (Year of the Spinning Mouse for discworld fans) and a 2015 full of reading, friends, and fun !
Alan Bradley's As Chimneysweepers Come to Dust, Jan.
Brandon Sanderson's Firefight, Jan.
Louis De Bernieres' The Dust That Falls From Dreams, June.
Toni Morrison's The Wrath of Children, Sept.
Justin Cronin's The City of Mirrors, Oct.
Alas no sign of new George RR Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, or new Abarat book....
I am impatient for the new Rothfuss (and Martin) too, but I follow them on twitter and boy, do they get cranky when their fans ask when the next book is coming out. I'm a little afraid that this means they don't really know how to finish the story they started, which usually doesn't bode well.
Seems to me they are busy touring and hearing how great they are, have come to appreciate Steven Erikson, Juliet Marillier, Brandon Sanderson who prioritise the writing and wouldn't leave their fans hanging for years...
So one of my plans is to revisit those novels I read years ago and really enjoyed, such as
Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Illywacker, The Dispossessed, Mythago Wood, Ulysses, Don Quixote,
War and Peace, Swann's Way, and more. Maybe one a month....
And The Lord of the Rings and any Terry Pratchett I haven't reread..
Going with Harley's TBR jar idea, just the time to set up the list and jar could have spent reading...
His new novel, premise "young Australian woman releases malware that releases thousands of Australian and American prisoners" sounds interesting. Also the front cover blurb "Never have I read a novel in which I could see the genius of the writer's mind so phenomenally at work..."
Well the author of that blurb has a very different idea of genius than I do, because I thought the novel was painfully poor. Any espionage is right in the background as we follow Felix Moore, the journalist who accepts the job of writing a sympathetic book about the perpetrator and her history. Felix and I had little idea of what was happening and weren't any the wiser by the end of the novel.
I am a Peter Carey fan who accepts that his great works like Illywacker and True History of the Kelly Gang are in the distant past, but his more recent Parrot and Olivier in America and The Chemistry of Tears were still solid reads.
There are shades of Carey's trademark dark observations on human lives and society in Amnesia but they are lost in poor 'Australian lingo' - "She's a real dingbat".
Enough complaining from me, maybe I'm the dingbat if others in this thread have read the book and liked it, anyone ?
Will go onto David Mitchell's number9dream, bound to be a good read !
John has set up the BIG FAT BOOK CHALLENGE 2015, for anyone who reads books of 600 pages or more, or would like to !
Everyone is welcome, lets get together and get those big chunksters that sit neglected on our shelves read !
His 2nd novel, "Set in Japan, it narrates the search of 19-year-old Eiji Miyake for his father, whom he has never met. Told in the first person by Eiji, it is a coming of age/perception story that breaks convention by juxtaposing Eiji Miyake's actual journey towards identity and understanding with his imaginative journey" (Wiki quote).
Mitchell's novels are multilayered and a solid (not quite challenging but not easy) read. He manages to adeptly balance angst, violence, and humour in this satisfying novel that is a step on from his 1st Ghostwritten and towards the brilliant Cloud Atlas.
Titles like this one send off alarm bells - "I've got this really interesting title so I don't have to worry about writing much of a story"- but not to worry, this is a funny and even insightful story :
"One day a fakir leaves his small village in India and lands in Paris. A professional con artist, the fakir is on a pilgrimage to IKEA, where he intends to obtain an object he coverts above all others: a brand new bed of nails. Without adequate Euros in the pockets of his silk trousers, the fakir is all the same confident that his counterfeit 100-Euro note (printed on one side only) and his usual bag of tricks will suffice. But when a swindled cab driver seeks his murderous revenge, the fakir accidentally embarks on a European tour, fatefully beginning in a wardrobe of the iconic Swedish retailer" back cover blurb.
Good fun, travel, love, and happy ending - have to recommend this one !
Welcome back to the group, looking forward to your reading this year again! (And what is this chunkster challenge of which you type?) ETA: found it! http://www.librarything.com/groups/bigfatbookchallenge1 and joined it!
Won the 2014 World Fantasy Award..back cover blurb :
"Jevick, the pepper merchant's son, has been raised on stories of Olondria, a distant land where books are as common as they are rare in his home. When his father dies and Jevick travels in his place on the yearly selling trip to Olondria, his life is as perfect as he can imagine. But as he revels in the Feast of Birds, he becomes haunted by the ghost of an illiterate girl from his own country."
Samatar's first fantasy novel and a fitting award winner. This is not the epic 'war-blood-death' of Erikson, nor the magic 'wizard-dragon-magic' kind of fantasy.
Instead the author has crafted an imaginative, detailed, and beautifically described story.
It reminded me of the underrated Always Coming Home by Ursula Le Guin, and we won't put Samatar in such exaulted company yet, but this 'enchanting' story is a great read, and if I didn't have an ever-mounting pile of books to read I would be tempted to start it again now.
wookie ha, got you ! (And you'll love it.)
"When Harold Fry leaves home one morning to post a letter, with his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking. To save someone's life."
Enjoyed this uplifting story of Harry and his reflections on how he (and we) settle for just getting by, forgetting about life, love, passion.
This is the 4th novel in Erikson's 10 volume epic fantasy saga - The Malazan Books of the Fallen.
This series is a little different to others I have read in that rather than follow a character or group through adventures, each novel looks at a particular event (usually an old fashioned all out war) in the Malazan world with a host of characters, some from previous books, many new.
Although at times I am not quite sure what's happening to who, I enjoy Erikson's imagination and humour in these epic books and will be onto the next one Midnight Tides when it arrives !
"Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will."
Young adult action fantasy with an intense and engaging beginning but somehow lost me during the rest of the story. Not Sanderson's best work.
12. Total Freedom, by J. Krishnamurti, his teachings on life and happiness, always inspiring.
13. The Age of Magic, by Ben Okri, found this slight novel difficult to get into and much preferred his Starbook.
14. The Odyssey, by Homer, glad I have finally gotten around to reading this and The Iliad, can't say they are particularly engaging reads.
15. Giles Goat-Boy, by John Barth, a farcical account of a boy raised by goats on a college campus who decides to find out about his human side and go to college. Not an easy read but I was gradually caught up in Barth's humorous and insightful story.
Now I want to read Stranger in Olondria but sadly it's not in the public library. On to to the wishlist it goes!
I like the books and stories theme.
And you've reminded me to revisit Ursula Le Guin. Dispossessed has been on the TBR shelves for years along with Gifts.
Another of hers that I want to read appears on lots of "best" lists - Left Hand of Darkness. And I have a copy of Word for World Is Forest to reread.
I too would like to catch up on classics I missed.
Oddly, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was a downer and disappointment for me. I thought it was deeply depressing and tragic beginning to end.
#27 Thanks nrmay, you'll love Stranger in Olondria when you get to it.
And you have rereminded me about Ursula, there is a long list of her titles I have never read, even after enjoying The Dispossessed, The Left Hand of Darkness, and Always Coming Home.
Would be good to start at her first novel and read through the list...hmm...not in the near future but definitely worth pondering.
Which are your favourite classics ?
With Harold Fry I was caught up in the human story, just read the follow-up The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, and enjoyed that too, but probably no improvement on the first novel for you I am sorry !?
Am a fan of George Eliot, have you read her Middlemarch ? Also The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James is a similarish read that I would recommend if you haven't already read it.
I enjoy Dickens as well, particularly his David Copperfield, The Pickwick Papers, and Nicholas Nickleby. I didn't enjoy Tale of Two Cities as much, hope you enjoy it.
16. The Slow Regard of Silent Things, by Patrick Rothfuss.
A novella about Auri a character in his Kingkiller series, didn't find it that interesting.
17. Lila, by Marilynne Robinson.
Third novel in her 'Gilead' series looking at Lila's life and her marriage to John Ames. Beautifully written and engaging story, if you haven't read Gilead please do !
18. Midnight Tides, by Steven Erikson.
Fifth in the 'Malazan Books of the Fallen and a rollicking read.
Won't attempt a story recount as there is too much happening but if you might like to try epic fantasy the first Malazan Gardens of the Moon or Bakker's The Darkness That Comes Before are good places to start.
Ok, you two! Based on your comments I'll get Gilead again from the library.
I think I had it out once but had to return before I got to it.
A lot of people have praised Lila and it showed up on best book lists for 2014.
Haven't read Middlemarch but I loved Silas Marner when I had to read it in school.
Lots of LT folks were reading Portrait of a Lady for an author challenge this month.
It's on my TBR shelves. Opinions seemed to vary on that one.
19. The Angel of Losses, by Stephanie Feldman.
Somewhat interesting story of sisters and Jewish folklore.
20. Knowing Yourself, by Barry Long.
More spiritual help by this great teacher.
21. Emma, by Alexander McCall Smith.
A retelling of the classic but in modern times, a book club read that I enjoyed for Smith's humour.
Enjoyed very much her The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and this follow up story was just as good.
23. Unseen Academicals, by Terry Pratchett.
Rereading the discworld novels and nearing the end :(, a great story of the wizards of Unseen University encountering the world of foot-the-ball.
Seventh and latest in the Flavia series, she is reluctantly shipped off to Miss Bodycote's Female Academy, a boarding school in Canada that her mother once attended.
A body, hauntings, and mysterious disappearances mean 12 year old Flavia is busy sorting it all out, and this delightful series continues !
"These are the voyages (such as they are) of the Engage-class starship Willful Child. It's rambunctious mission: to seek out new worlds on which to plant the Terrean flag, to subjugate and occasionally obliterate strange and disgusting life-forms, and to boldly go....well, you get the idea."
Erikson takes a break from his epic Malazan fantasy series and has penned this appreciation and send up of the Star Trek TV series.
Some humorous parts but Erikson is better at his epic fantasy.
This was Dickens' last novel, unfinished when he died in 1870, and the ending is a mystery.
But there is 272 pages (in the Penguin edition) and enough story (even for the ponderously slow Charles) to interest the reader.
"Edwin Drood is contracted to marry orphan Rosa when he comes of age, but when they find that duty has gradually reduced affection, they agree to break off the engagement. Shortly afterwards, in the middle of a storm on Christmas Eve, Edwin disappears, leaving nothing but some personal belongings and the suspicion that his jealous uncle John Jasper, madly in love with Rosa, is the killer."
Of course there are a host of other characters and plots that add to the intrigue, notably the use of opium, that make this a satisfactory read. One could pursue the notes, theories, and various endings written by others if one was so inclined, I am happy to leave it there.
29. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, by Louis de Bernieres.
Reread for me, wonderful story ; deep, wise, humorous ; the other day someone said they saw the movie and weren't impressed, don't let the movie put you off, read this brilliant novel.
32. The Golem and the Djinni, by Helene Wecker; really enjoyed this original fantasy.
33. Villette, by Charlotte Bronte; her 4th novel, if you enjoyed Jane Eyre try Villette.
34. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn; no doubt I am the last to read this so you all know about the plot twists and turns.
35. Stillness is the Way, by Barry Long; Barry's intensive meditation course, very helpful.
36. The Colour Purple, by Alice Walker; excellent story !
Color Purple was wonderful. Hope to reread that one sometime. Also a fabulous movie.
For a whole different look at life in the U.S. south, I just finished Mama Makes Up Her Mind by Bailey White.
Very funny, mostly true vignettes. More contemprary, published 20 years ago, also set in rural Georgia.
She has a couple other books as well that I mean to read.
Hi nrmay, thanks for the recommendation, I'll look it up, happy reading !
37. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, one of the classics everyone has read but me, good story.
38. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, another classic, goodish story.
39. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, more classics, enjoyed this compilation of the 6 books.
40. Black Swan Green, by David Mitchell, ok, preferred his other novels.
41. The Picture of Dorian Grey, by Oscar Wilde, 1st Wilde I have read, very literate, enjoyable.
42. The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide, by Douglas Adams, 1st guide book brilliant, next 5 just great !
47. The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett, very popular historical fiction, interesting.
48. Sell Up, Pack Up and Take Off, by Stephen Wyatt, how to retire very comfortably in another country.
49. Trigger Warning, by Neil Gaiman, Neil's new collection of short stories, some very good, others ok.
50. Watership Down, by Richard Adams, animal fantasy for younger readers, ok.
I also liked Snow Child. Fine sense of time and place; mystical story.
So what country are you thinking of taking off to?!! (48. above) I think about moving all the time but I have too many books . . .
Very happy here in the Adelaide Hills , Australia, and can afford to retire comfortably here (just !).
Always good to look at all the options though, the book is aimed at Australians and looks at Bali, Thailand, Cambodia, Spain, etc., as places one can move to and live well as opposed to an expensive place to live where retiring and living well might be unlikely.
I also have too many books to move, but some extensive travelling...hmm...cheers !
Hi wookie, hope all is good with you, confident you will enjoy The Snow Child.
Published in 2010, her debut novel, and first of the Inheritance trilogy.
Quisk summary from wiki :
"Yeine Darr, mourning the murder of her mother, is summoned to the magnificent floating city of Sky by her grandfather Dekarta, the ruler of the world and head of the Arameri family. As Yeine is also Arameri (though estranged due to the circumstances of her birth), he names her his heir but has already assigned that role to both his niece and his nephew, resulting in a thorny three-way power struggle. Yeine must quickly master the intricacies of the cruel Arameri society to have any hope of winning. She is also drawn into the intrigues of the gods, four of whom dwell in Sky as the Arameri's powerful, enslaved weapons. With only a few days until the ceremony of the Arameri succession, Yeine struggles to solve her mother's murder while surviving the machinations of her relatives and the gods."
Was an ok read but didn't grab me enough to read the next one...yet.
Yours is one of the few threads I follow. Our reading interests overlap.
With your fantasy interest, have you read any Margo Lanagan, an Australian writer and quite original.
She is well known for her short story collections, notably Black Juice and Red Spikes, with her 2 novels Tender Morsels and Sea Hearts great reads as well.
Seventh volume of The Malazan Books of the Fallen, and unusually for Erikson, it follows on from the sixth The Bonehunters.
The Letherii Empire have managed to upset many people and it comes to a head here. On the approaching Edur fleet are uber warriors Karsa Orlong and Icarium Lifestealer determined to slay the emperor in combat.
Some upstart called Redmask has gathered an army and approaches from the desert.
Various squads of the Malazan army are also on their way, including the 8th squad barely led by Hellian, a female sergeant who is either inebriated or desperately in search of that state, an example of humour amongst the slaughter.
Much more happens in the 1260 pages and the reader will be dazzled by Erikson's imagination, sense of humour, and world building (and world tearing down).
Must get to Toll The Hounds soon !
Published in 1940, this novel is based on the author's experiences in the Spanish Civil War. Though not a Hemingway fan, his A Farewell to Arms and The Sun Also Rises were ok, I enjoyed this story. His gritty descriptions of war and the people involved, and particularly the beautiful presentation of a relationship with the young Maria made this a pleasurable read.
Enjoyed this novel of life before and after a devastating epidemic kills most humans.
We follow a Shakespearian troupe as they travel the country bringing entertainment and hope to the survivors.
Moments of delight are balanced with darkness making this an arresting but also troubling read.
Ruth is walking along the beach when she notices something tangled up in the washed up seaweed. This turns out to be a package including a diary written by a Japanese girl.
Recent novel, shortlisted for the Booker, very much enjoyed this exploration of alienation, connection between cultures, and Zen Buddhism.
65. The Deepest Acceptance, by Jeff Foster, great spiritual book, will reread soon !
Not long until The Shepherd's Crown !!
Been on my TBR list for years, didn't grab me as much as I hoped although the 'beginning of the cyberpunk genre' thing was interesting.
After the excellent Prince of Fools, the Red Queen's War series continues with The Liar's Key.
Prince Jalan is only interested in the finer things in life involving wine and women, but he is inextricably entangled with a huge Norse warrior who is determined to battle into the hell realms to get his family back.
Great fantasy with plenty of humour, and not waiting 5 years for the sequel !?
John Grimes is African-American, living in Harlem in 1935, and turns 14 years old.
He struggles with understanding the church which plays a strong role in his society, his father's lack of love, and his own coming of age.
Baldwin's first novel and apparently semi-autobiographical, an engaging read.
It has been about 10 years since de Bernieres' last novel Birds Without Wings and no doubt he has used much of that time researching and writing this new, big novel.
"In the brief golden years of King Edward VII's reign, Rosie McCosh and her three very different sisters are growing up in an eccentric household in Kent, with their neighbours the Pitt boys on one side and the Pendennis boys on the other. But their days of childhood adventure are shadowed by the approach of war that will engulf them on the cusp of adulthood.
When the boys end up scattered along the Western Front, Rosie faces the challenges of life for those left behind. Confused by her love for two young men - one an infantry soldier and one a flying ace - she has to navigate her way through extraordinary times. Can she, and her sisters, build new lives out of the opportunities and devastations that follow the Great War?"
De Bernieres writes beautifully, there is love, whimsy, tragedy, and hope here, and a very rewarding read.
First published 1897 and a great example of early science fiction as Martians land in England and are not friendly !
I've had Kristen Lavransdatter on my list for a long time.
It is a big book so maybe later in the year....
73. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers.
Published in 1940 and McCuller's debut novel, this is the story of a 1930s US town and the various characters there. Good read.
Fourth and newest volume in The Demon Cycle series, and a reasonable addition. This is one of those series that started brilliantly The Warded Man but has ground to a disappointing halt IMO.
This novel is sizable at 751 pages but not that much happens....frustrating but I'll read the next one.
Enjoyed this literate account of the interweaved lives of the politician Willie Stark and the reporter/narrator of this story Jack Burden.
Something about the writing reminded me of Jack Kerouac and I wouldn't be surprised to find that he was influenced by this novel.
Follows the life of "Milkman", a black American who struggles to understand family, church, friendship ; this novel was apparently cited when Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
A host of quirky characters and unpredictable events make this an engaging and rewarding read.
Took me a while and I never really got caught up in this 8th instalment of the Malazan series, although there were some memorable scenes, particularly the altercation between Kruppe and Iskaral Pust, two of the comical characters of this series.
Trust the next volume Dust of Dreams will pick things up, just noticed the similarity of titles with de Bernieres' The Dust That Falls From Dreams, spooky !
Published in 1868 and regarded as the first detective novel, this is an intriguing and satisfying read.
Collins was a contemporary of Dickens and in true Dickensian style the detail and meanderings mean this novel is perhaps 150 pages longer than it needs to be, but this adds to the mysterious atmosphere and also means I can add this novel to the Big Fat Book Challenge !
Lent by a friend, this important nonfiction book looks at life for women/girls in Afghanistan, and specifically looks at girls who are raised as boys to give a boyless family some standing in the community.
We need to be informed of the plight of females there but it is upsetting reading.
88. The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton.
1905 story of Lily Bart who is raised to live a high class life but it just doesn't work out for her.
New collection of short stories by this gifted fantasy author ; weird, original, and very creative, try 'The Condition of New Death', 'Sacken', and 'Dreaded Outcome', and all the others !
The author doesn't mind being controversial and he is with this account of Jesus' life and events.
Finally got around to reading this classic, and of course it's a long account of a man's adventures ; involving unfair imprisonment, daring escape, treasure, revenge...
93. The Blue Guitar, by John Banville.
A new Banville novel is always exciting and this sparing account of an ex-painter/thief who wonders where it all went wrong is a very satisfying read.
94. Getting Real, by Melinda Tankard Reist, ed.
Important collection of articles that "put the spotlight on the sexualisation and objectification of girls and women in the media, popular culture, and society". We all know it happens but read this to realise the extent and what can be done.
95. Scoop, by Evelyn Waugh.
Humorous satire of journalism as an occasional contributor of nature notes to a newspaper is forced to cover 'a very promising little war' in Africa and somehow manages the 'scoop'.
I am a Scarlett Thomas fan, but like other reviewers in the 100 book challenge I am unsure about this book.
It has the Thomas unpredictability and strangeness that I enjoy in her writing but somehow it didn't gel for me, an interesting read no doubt, but......I'm just unsure...
This shorter Mitchell novel begins amicably enough in 1979 as a 13 year boy and his mother look for and find Slade House.
But all is not right with Slade House as a seemingly random person disappears every 9 years....
A creepy and enjoyable extension of his recent novel The Bone Clocks.
9th volume of the Malazan Books of the Fallen, epic fantasy on steroids as various armies, gods, creatures, and resurrected dead soldiers war, squabble, and try to survive.
I enjoy following my favourite characters, unfortunately one of them meets a particularly nasty end..:(
The Crippled God next, am interested to see how Erikson will tie up the innumerable threads.
A bookclub read, but happy to have read about the life of Louie Zamperini, a scamp who takes up running and competes at the berlin Olympics. However war erupts and he finds himself flying in the Pacific campaign.
Getting through many close calls his plane eventually goes down.
A true story of survival, courage, and perseverance, complimented by the writing skills of Laura Hillebrand (her own story is one of overcoming adversity) whose unemotional style adds to the powerful life story.
Stroud is the acclaimed author of the Bartimaeus series (beginning with The Amulet of Samarkand highly recommended by me), and this young adult novel is the first in the 'Lockwood & Co' series.
"A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and Spectres are appearing throughout the city, and they aren't exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see - and eradicate - these supernatural foes....the plucky Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood , the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co., a small agency that runs independent of adult supervision."
As one would expect with Stroud, there are engaging characters, plenty of action and intrigue, and great fun; enjoyed this read and will be chasing the 2 sequels.
4th and final volume in the "All the Wrong Questions" series..
"There was a town, and there was a train, and there was a murder. I was on the train, and I thought if I solved the murder I could save the town. I was almost thirteen and I was wrong. I was wrong about all of it. I should have asked the question "Is it more beastly to be a murderer or to let one go free ?" Instead, I asked the wrong question -- four wrong questions, more or less. This is the account of the last. "
Great fun for all ages, the 1st one is "Who Could That be at This Hour", recommended.
Completes the Malazan Books of the Fallen 10 volume series, and a full-on epic fantasy series it was.
It's a complicated world and I can't claim to completely understand everything that happened, but i enjoyed Erikson's imagination and many of the characters.
He has begun a 'prequel' trilogy beginning with Forge of Darkness which I will get to but there are some other fantasy books/series to visit first.
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They need to check with us before making such outlandish statements !
Finished my 114th and last book for 2014, am on holiday and didn't bring my laptop/excel book list, so am relying on memory....
111. Evil For Evil, by KJ Parker.
2nd in Engineer trilogy, am very interested to see how series ends.
112. Cannot remember so will fill in later.
114. The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Enjoyed this moving account of a butler's life, dignity and lost opportunity.
114 books read at average of 425ish pages, happy with reading this year, best reads to follow, Happy New Year to all !
A Stranger in Olondria, by Sofia Samatar.
Lila, by Marilynn Robinson.
The Golem and the Djinni, by Helene Wecker.
The Colour Purple, by Alice Walker.
The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey.
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway.
Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel.
A Tale For the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki.
The Liar's Key, by Mark Lawrence.
The Dust That Falls From Dreams, by Louis de Bernieres.
All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren.
The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins.
The Shepherd's Crown, by Terry Pratchett.
Three Moments of an Explosion, by China Mieville.
Devices and Desires, by KJ Parker.