The Inverted World
By: Christopher Priest
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
The city is winched along tracks through a devastated land full of hostile tribes. Rails must be freshly laid ahead of the city and carefully removed in its wake. Rivers and mountains present nearly insurmountable challenges to the ingenuity of the city’s engineers. But if the city does not move, it will fall farther and farther behind the “optimum” into the crushing gravitational field that has transformed life on Earth. The only alternative to progress is death.
The secret directorate that governs the city makes sure that its inhabitants know nothing of this. Raised in common in crèches, nurtured on synthetic food, prevented above all from venturing outside the closed circuit of the city, they are carefully sheltered from the dire necessities that have come to define human existence. And yet the city is in crisis. The people are growing restive, the population is dwindling, and the rulers know that, for all their efforts, slowly but surely the city is slipping ever farther behind the optimum.
Helward Mann is a member of the city’s elite. Better than anyone, he knows how tenuous is the city’s continued existence. But the world—he is about to discover—is infinitely stranger than the strange world he believes he knows so well.
I’d been eyeing this novel for some time; the premise sounded really interesting and different, and it’s considered a science fiction classic. I picked it up in a semi-whim early this year (trying to hit the minimum for free shipping, you know how it is) and got around to reading it last summer at long last as a break from what I had been reading to date.
The Storms of War
By: Kate Williams
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
In the idyllic early summer of 1914, life is good for the de Witt family. Rudolf and Verena are planning the wedding of their daughter, Emmeline, while their eldest son Arthur is studying in Paris and Tom is just back from his first term at Cambridge. Celia, the youngest of the de Witt children, is on the brink of adulthood, and secretly dreams of escaping her carefully mapped out future and exploring the world.
But the onslaught of war changes everything and soon the de Witts find themselves sidelined and in danger of losing everything they hold dear. As Celia struggles to make sense of the changing world around her, she lies about her age to join the war effort and finds herself embroiled in a complex plot that puts her and those she loves in danger.
With gripping detail and brilliant empathy, Kate Williams tells the story of Celia and her family as they are shunned by a society that previously embraced them, torn apart by sorrow, and buffeted and changed by the storms of war.
I admit, this is one of those instances where the book cover is what drew my attention in…isn’t it so pretty? Anyway, historical fiction set in World War One, likenings to Downton Abbey, I thought why not? May contain some minor spoilers about the plot ahead!
The Fox Was Ever the Hunter
By: Herta Müller, Philip Boehm (Translation)
Format/Source: eBook courtesy of the publishers via a giveaway contest held by guiltless reading
An early masterpiece from the winner of the Nobel Prize hailed as the laureate of life under totalitarianism
Romania—the last months of the Ceausescu regime. Adina is a young schoolteacher. Paul is a musician. Clara works in a wire factory. Pavel is Clara’s lover. But one of them works for the secret police and is reporting on all of the group.
One day Adina returns home to discover that her fox fur rug has had its tail cut off. On another occasion it’s the hindleg. Then a foreleg. The mutilated fur is a sign that she is being tracked by the secret police—the fox was ever the hunter.
Images of photographic precision combine into a kaleidoscope of terror as Adina and her friends struggle to keep mind and body intact in a world pervaded by complicity and permeated with fear, where it’s hard to tell victim from perpetrator.
In The Fox Was Always a Hunter, Herta Müller once again uses language that displays the “concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose”—as the Swedish Academy noted upon awarding her the Nobel Prize—to create a hauntingly cinematic portrayal of the corruption of the soul under totalitarianism.
I haven’t read much literature set in the Ceausescu regime, so the premise of this novel plus the fact that it won a Nobel Prize in literature definitely caught my attention. I won a copy to read from a giveaway contest hosted by guiltless reading.
The Mirror Empire (Worldbreaker Saga #1)
By: Kameron Hurley
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.
In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin.
As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.
Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.
In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.
Another one of those books that has been sitting on my TBR queue for a few years now. I admit, the first thing that caught my attention was the awesome cover art–done by artist Richard Anderson–but the premise of the series sounds very interesting too, with fractured countries and stars rising and falling and bring together parallel universes. I finally got around to reading this book (hurray! I’m on a roll this year getting around to the books sitting on my TBR pile the longest) 🙂
Not bad, it’s been about two months since my last batch of mini-book reviews, lol 😛 As always, this batch features books I’ve read that, while I had a few thoughts on it, they didn’t warrant review posts of their own. Included in this batch of reviews are mostly classics and one fantasy novella 😉
The Canterbury Tales
By: Geoffrey Chaucer
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase
Lively, absorbing, often outrageously funny, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is a work of genius, an undisputed classic that has held a special appeal for each generation of readers. The Tales gathers twenty-nine of literature’s most enduring (and endearing) characters in a vivid group portrait that captures the full spectrum of medieval society, from the exalted Knight to the humble Plowman.
Gah, I finally got around to reading this! It’s been on my wishlist for quite a long time and I actually started listening to bits of it last year via LibriVox when I was sick but I got impatient in the end and picked up a copy of the book. Well, I appreciate how expansive this classic is, featuring people from all walks of life in Medieval England and taking part in this tale. The stories range from chivalrous and thematic to bawdy and hilarious and some where more interesting that others but yeah, it’s one of those classics you can’t just pick up on a whim. In restrospect, I think perhaps I should’ve have chosen this book as my travelling read whenever I was outside (not to mention it made for a hefty carry in my purse) but some of them were so long that they just didn’t hold my interest like others. So yeah, it was an okay reading experience for me overall but I’m glad I took a crack at it 😛