Tag: Ben Aaronovitch

WWW Wednesday

Posted May 20, 2021 by Nicky in General / 0 Comments

Hey folks! I’ve been spending the unskippable cutscenes of a particular dungeon in Final Fantasy XIV to catch up on my reviews, and I should soon start scheduling those. Right now, all my energies are focused toward my exam… but maybe I’ll be around here more soon, at this rate! In the meantime, though my arm is sore from my first shot of the Pfizer vaccine, I can still wield a keyboard, so here’s the Wednesday update!

Cover of Magic Bites by Ilona AndrewsWhat are you currently reading?

Fiction: Magic Bites, by Ilona Andrews, for a start. It’s a reread, but I’ve had a lot of joy from this series, I’d really like to read the more recent books someday, and it felt like ideal light reading while my entire body stresses out about my upcoming biostatistics exam. I’m also still reading Plain Bad Heroines, and I’m finding it super awkward-feeling right now with the apparently deliberate baiting of Merritt. I’m intrigued about where it’s going, but also apprehensive that it’s going to be annoying.

Non-fiction: Still on both The Invention of Murder (Judith Flanders) and Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs (Lisa Randall). I’m enjoying the former, and probably planning on finishing that next; the latter is still doing Planet Formation 101, and there’s very little new to me, so I’m biding my time and finding it a bit slow.

What have you recently finished reading?

I just finished The Library of the Dead, by T.L. Huchu, and I wish I loved it more than I did. The narrative voice doesn’t work for me, and the cover puts me too much in mind of Ben Aaronovitch’s books not to (fairly or unfairly) compare it to those books. Not so much in terms of overall quality, where I don’t particularly feel Aaronovitch is one of the genre’s great craftspeople, but in terms of plots, themes and settings.

I also finished Murder’s a Swine, by Nap Lombard, which was pretty fun.

Cover of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky ChambersWhat will you be reading next?

I’m in the mood for lots of rereading, but as usual, I’m really not sure what I’ll actually pick up. Maybe The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (Becky Chambers) again(!) because playing Mass Effect is kinda giving me that urge. Or even Ancillary Justice (again again).

What are you currently reading? And how are you all?

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WWW Wednesday

Posted August 20, 2020 by Nicky in General / 4 Comments

Ever so slightly belated WWW Wednesday!

Cover of The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke ArnoldWhat are you currently reading? 

The Last Smile in Sunder City, by Luke Arnold. The cover is so blatantly copying from Ben Aaronovitch’s fairly iconic covers that it raises my eyebrow every time, the narration is trying so hard to be Raymond Chandler without his absolute knowledge of where every word should go, and if Jim Butcher isn’t an influence as well I’ll eat my bookshelf. That said, it’s fun as well, and when it gives trying to coin a phrase a rest for five minutes, I’m settling into it well.

Cover of The Woman in the Wardrobe by Peter ShafferWhat have you recently finished reading?

The Woman in the Wardrobe, by Peter Shaffer, and before that, The Seventh Perfection. The latter is very cleverly narrated, and I really need to sit down and put my review into words before it slips away. I sense that the narration is going to drive a lot of people absolutely up the wall, but I thought everything was worked out pretty cleverly.

What will you be reading next?

There’s a good chance it’ll be one of the books I got for my birthday! The one I’m probably most excited about is Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art, by Rebecca Wragg Sykes… but The Contact Paradox (Keith Cooper) is also calling to me.

What are you currently reading?

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Review – The October Man

Posted September 30, 2019 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of The October Man by Ben AaronovitchThe October Man, Ben Aaronovitch

This is a novella set in the world of Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant novels, but taking place in Germany. Tobias Winter is Peter Grant’s equivalent in Germany, apprentice to their one remaining practitioner in much the same way as Peter is Nightingale’s apprentice. The story rumbles along with much the same formula: mysterious death, Tobias is sent in, has a local sidekick/liaison who does not really freak out about magic, and slowly they pick apart the weirdness and unravel what’s going on. Lots of the elements are clear enough if you’ve read the main series: sequestration, genii loci, etc.

It’s not that it wasn’t a fun enough read, but the voice was so similar to Peter Grant’s that it leaves me wondering whether Aaronovitch can do any other characters, really. It was solid in itself and yet weirdly disappointing because it doesn’t bode well for me to keep enjoying the books — it felt predictable, not just in plot but on a line-by-line basis.

I enjoyed Tobias’ competence as a cop, and Vanessa isn’t a bad character either. But… I don’t know, it mostly left me cold.

Rating: 3/5

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WWW Wednesday

Posted November 28, 2018 by Nicky in General / 4 Comments

The three ‘W’s are what are you reading now, what have you recently finished reading, and what are you going to read next, and you can find this week’s post at the host’s blog here if you want to check out other posts.

What are you currently reading?

Cover of Requiem for a Mezzo by Carola DunnI think the only thing I’m actively reading is Requiem for a Mezzo, which I haven’t picked up in a couple of weeks! I need to get back to reading more, but work seems to have taken over my head — that and Stardew Valley multiplayer. Oh, and I do have Adam Rutherford’s A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived on the go, but I’m kind of meh about it. Almost nothing in it is new to me, so it’s boring me.

Cover of Samurai by John ManWhat have you recently finished reading?

Samurai, by John Man: it’s mostly about Saigō Takamori, but of course it talks about the samurai tradition that led to him. It’s amazing how wrong my mental calculations of Japanese chronology are: he only died in 1877, despite samurai still being armed with swords. And of course, the manga Rurouni Kenshin is set in the Meiji period, around the same time. Whaaaat.

Cover of The Mortal Word by Genevieve CogmanWhat will you be reading next?

Well, I just picked up a copy of Genevieve Cogman’s The Mortal Word… but I also just finally got my copy of Lies Sleeping, Ben Aaronovitch’s new book, so I guess those two are going to have to battle it out for which one I start next. Or I might be contrary and read something else altogether. It’s difficult to know; I’m far too driven by whim!

(Which is not a bad thing, to clarify; vive la whimsy.)

What are you currently reading?

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Review – The Hanging Tree

Posted November 18, 2017 by Nicky in Reviews / 6 Comments

Cover of The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch

The Hanging Tree, Ben Aaronovitch

The Hanging Tree does a hell of a lot, gathering together some plot points, revealing some secrets, teasing some future potential, humanising (well, sort of) characters like Lady Ty we might be tempted to just despise… It’s one of the plot-heavy entries to the series, featuring the Faceless Man and Lesley prominently, so predictably it gets a bit frenetic near the end. Characters flit in and out of sight; Peter stumbles into bad situation after bad situation; lots of property damage is incurred.

For the most part, it really worked. The tension ratcheted up as I realised exactly what was at stake, and new characters revealed things I’d wondered about (like a tradition of British women doing magic). Little ironies came up — if the Folly hadn’t been such an old boys’ club, and the new characters had been involved, would Lesley be with the Faceless Man at all? Could he have really tempted her?

And no doubt if this had ended the ongoing plot, I’d have been disappointed that it was so ‘easy’. Yet the ending seemed a little toothless: we know more about the Faceless Man and what he can do, but do we really have information to stop him? It feels like this series could easily go on another six books in this way: a book off and then a book that ends with Peter grappling with the Faceless Man, only for him to get away… I think I wanted a little more forward progress by the end.

There has to be space, though, for appreciating how much I love the new pathologist and Guleed’s involvement. I’m surprised she’s not being trained up at the Folly yet (but then, it’s also cool that she isn’t just following the same path as Lesley, like some “better” Lesley — she’s definitely her own character, with her own approach to problems)…

Despite my slight quibbles, it’s a fun read and a more than worthy entry to the series. Bring on the next! Sooner rather than later, please.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – A Rare Book of Cunning Device

Posted October 2, 2017 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of A Rare Book of Cunning Device by Ben AaronovitchA Rare Book of Cunning Device, Ben Aaronovitch

Narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, this is a short story set in Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London world. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is a great narrator and sounds just perfect for Peter, and while it’s a short story, it’s fun and features Toby and Postmartin… and the British Library. And, of course, a rare book of cunning device.

I won’t spoiler you if you haven’t listened to it, but it really is fun, helped by Holdbrook-Smith’s delivery. If you enjoy Peter Grant and his brand of humour, you’ll be in for a treat. And as I recall, it’s free on Audible…

Rating: 4/5

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Review – The Furthest Station

Posted April 23, 2017 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of The Furthest Station by Ben AaronovitchThe Furthest Station, Ben Aaronovitch

Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 30th June 2017

This novella joins Peter Grant and (some of) the usual suspects for a new investigation. Present: Peter, Abigail, Nightingale, Jaget, and briefly, Beverley. I was a bit thrown by the total absence of any mention at all of Leslie; it feels like it’s set in some weird time bubble where there’s nothing going on with her at all, where she didn’t even exist. I don’t know if it’s set before or after The Hanging Tree, which I haven’t read yet; possibly that’ll resolve my slight confusion.

It’s a fun story, which feels very much like the full-length novels, although it resolves faster (of course) and doesn’t involve any of the larger threads like the Faceless Man — though it does advance Abigail’s story, showing her interest in and aptitude for the work of the Folly, whether Peter thinks she’s ready or not. We get some more ghosts and ghostly phenomena, and Peter’s ongoing attempts at rationalising them.

All in all, I rather enjoyed it, perhaps especially because it’s just Peter and business as usual. No heartwrenching personal storylines for him in this novella, and thank goodness for that.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Foxglove Summer

Posted March 4, 2017 by Nicky in Reviews / 4 Comments

Cover of Foxglove Summer by Ben AaronovitchFoxglove Summer, Ben Aaronovitch

Once again, this book takes a step back from the main action. It’s not that the events of Broken Homes aren’t alluded to, because they are. In the background, there’s a lot of stuff going on with tracking down Lesley and the Faceless Man. But the main action of the plot is a police procedural dealing with some missing children. I wasn’t really surprised that this book brought in the concept of a changeling child, but it did manage to give the whole idea a couple of twists that did surprise me.

For me, both the strength and weakness of the book is the lack of progression in that main series plot, and the absence of many of the supporting characters. There’s no Lesley to make Peter do the proper policing thing, and there’s no Nightingale for backup. Which leaves Peter on his own, thinking for himself, and showing that actually, he doesn’t need those two. He also keeps showing that though he might not be as good a copper as Lesley, who never misses a beat, he’s a good policeman because he’s a good man. And this book reminds us of the people Nightingale and Peter are meant to be working for — ordinary people who need protection — rather than against (mysterious practioners of unclear motive).

I’m definitely ready for more of the main plot now, but the respite from it wasn’t bad either.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Broken Homes

Posted December 7, 2016 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Broken Homes by Ben AaronovitchBroken Homes, Ben Aaronovitch

Reading the end of this book for the first time made me realise I really was hooked on the series. It just punched me in the gut and made me realise how much I cared. Reading the whole series again, I’ve been anticipating this book. And yet… for most of the book, you have no idea what’s coming. It’s pretty much like the other books in the series: police work, friendship, the mysteries of various characters… It widens up the world again, of course, giving us another glimpse at magic elsewhere in Europe. But the tone feels the same.

Even the ending is, I suppose, not that big of a twist: we get a similar shock ending to Rivers of London itself. But it’s something about the particular circumstances that really make it work. We really care now, and we definitely weren’t expecting this.

I don’t know how to review Broken Homes except in terms of that ending. Until that point, it’s a fairly typical book for the series. There’s some interesting stuff, the characters remain fun, etc. But it’s that ending that pulls things together and raises the stakes.

I haven’t read Foxglove Summer yet, but I hope it takes the momentum of this and, well, runs with it.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – Whispers Under Ground

Posted October 30, 2016 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Whispers Under Ground by Ben AaronovitchWhispers Under Ground, Ben Aaronovitch

This series remains fun, and the interactions between Lesley and Peter are just A++. I think I found the pacing a bit off reading this for a second time; I couldn’t really remember the plot, but it seemed to be taking an awful lot of time to get to the sewer scenes I remembered. All the same, it’s a worthy entry in the series, with Lesley taking a more active part again, and featuring a less comic-book like amount of violence. Instead, the threat is more personal, more like what you would expect from routine police work… if routine police work required you to notice the vestigia on a murder weapon, and try to track where it came from. Still, this is definitely the most police-procedural-ish of the three books so far; that may or may not appeal to you!

There are some great atmospherics in this book, though, given the sewer excursions (incursions?) and the visit to the Quiet People. And, though I don’t remember it being mentioned specifically before, Peter Grant’s former interest in architecture — the way he can describe buildings and features just adds a little something.

What is driving me mad is that the library had one UK edition and one probably US edition, which spell Lesley’s name differently. I don’t even know anymore. Help. Which does the UK version use?

Not my favourite of the series, anyway; I think if I remember rightly, that’s probably the next one, Broken Homes. Wish me luck going back into that heartbreak, is all I’m going to say.

Rating: 4/5

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