February – the shortest month in the year, and somehow I managed to read 17 books… Not quite sure how. Was a good month too, my first two five star reads too along with some sci-fi, history, science and natural history. So here they are:
This is the second in the Empire Games series and Stross has raised the stakes in this one. Multiple plot lines, the two America’s on the cusp of another nuclear war and the discovery of an alien series. Lost left unfinished ready for the next book.
I have only read one of Tom Cox’s books in the past, Bring Me the Head of Diego Garcia, but I had been hearing so much about this book, how it was funded in seven hours on Unbound, and how his proposal for a book could not fit in the neat boxes that marketing could understand. Not quite a natural history book, not quite a family memoir, not quite a polemic; what it is though is brilliant.
This is the latest book from Neil Ansell. It focuses on him returning to the same part of Scotland and also the way that his perception of the natural world is changing as his hearing slowly fails. Poignant and beautifully written.
Hadrian Wall is the 2000 year old frontier of the Roman Empire that you can still see across the landscape of northern England. More than that it tells the history of Roman ambitions and the stories of the people who lived there.
I finished this on the day that Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon Heavy Lifter blasted off from Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral and put a car into space. I loved the Don’t Panic message on the screen on the dashboard, but most impressive was the return of the boosters bask to Earth, landing in perfect synchronicity. This is a really good introduction to the current state of space technology and those seeing it as just another investment opportunity. There are going to be few winners and lots of losers in this very expensive game. One day this will all be history; but at this very moment, it is the future.
A book about a favourite author written by another favourite author. Crammed full of facts, it is enough to lift the heart of a depressed robot. A touching tribute to an author with an amazing imagination.
There is something about owls that has captivated us for millennia. The way that can float silently across a field or hunt in the dark has endowed then with mystical properties. Woven together with the touching story about her adult son’s illness this is a touching natural history book.
I have always loved woodlands and in this sumptuous coffee table book, Robert Penn shows how much life there is in one. Glorious pictures in here that you will want to return to again and again.
A book about books. What could be better? This was sent to me by the author along with her book on libraries and it is full of facts about how books are made, the smallest, the longest and the oldest.
This is the companion volume to Claire’s book on books and it is just as wonderful as the other one. A cornucopia of snippets, facts and figures about libraries that bibliophiles will treasure.
Poetry has a way of reaching into your very soul that fiction doesn’t always seem to manage and this is a collection by the anonymous author, lady Grey, has the capacity to do just that.
The second sci-fi book that I read this month is a mass-murder mystery set in the universe that Reynolds has created. People are starting to die with increasing frequency as their implants kill them and no one knows why. Great stuff with some excellent tech and twists and turns.
A touching story of a very strange family written in an engaging way, but there is a greater depth to the story as Gameson addresses the issues that all parents face as children grow up and change into adults capable of independent thought and now aren’t the person that you remembered. There are a variety of threads that start tangled and are brought together in unexpected ways. So very different to a lot of fiction that is out there and well worth reading.
There are still secrets that the universe is yet to relinquish and one the most mysterious is what lies in the 6-inch gap between your ears. If you want a well written popular science book on the possibilities and limits of intelligence, then you can’t go wrong reading this.
If you are wanting wide panoramas of the beautiful landscapes of the lakes then this is probably not the book for you. The majority of this book is about John caring for a young roe deer that was to become a great, semi-wild companion. Wyatt may not have had many possessions when he was a woodsman, but he had a life that had riches that no one else could buy.
A fascinating book, full of detail on a country that stepped into the abyss and almost took the whole of Europe with it. There are echoes in here that have a resonance today and we would be wise to remember.