Thanks to RoofBeamReader for hosting the 2019 TBR Pile Challenge! It gave me a great excuse for finally reading a bunch of books that had been hanging out on my bookshelves unread. I finished 13 of the books on my original list (11 of 12 on the main list plus both alternates), which counts as challenge completed! Here’s the list (click titles for full review):
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – This is the one I didn’t get to.
- Atonement by Ian McEwan – I finished this one a few days ago, but haven’t reviewed it. Short version: very purple prose, flat unlikeable characters, and a sucker punch of an ending
- The Baby in the Icebox and Other Short Fiction by James M. Cain – a decent short story collection by one of the crime/noir masters that contained some of his early, less grim writing alongside the crime fiction
- The Case of the Velvet Claws (Perry Mason: Book 1) by Erle Stanley Gardner – a competent tough guy, lawyer, investigator novel…definitely more hardboiled and unscrupulous than the later, fatter TV version
- Corum: The Coming of Chaos (Eternal Champion Sequence: Volume 7) by Michael Moorcock – One of the better collections in the Eternal Champion cycle
- Ever by Gail Carson Levine – Not as charming as her fairytale-based books, but an interesting take on ancient culture and mythology
- King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa by Adam Hochschild – Difficult to read about such brutality, but an important work on the exploitation of colonial Africa
- The Little Drummer Girl by John LeCarré – Probably my least favorite LeCarré book to date; basically an anti-Israeli screed
- Our Man in Charleston: Britain’s Secret Agent in the Civil War South by Christopher Dickey – Less spy-oriented than the title suggests, but a fascinating, unusual view of the American Civil War (and a blow to the “Lost Cause” narrative)
- The Roads Between the Worlds (Eternal Champion Sequence: Volume 6) by Michael Moorcock – Typical Moorcock preachiness with minimal connection to the Eternal Champion
- Song of Kali by Dan Simmons – Depressing xenophobic horror
- The Tyranny of the Night (The Instrumentalities of the Night: Book 1) by Glen Cook – An odd alternate history-ish story in which all the names have been changed and all the major events of the Middle Ages happen simultaneously
- Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeanette Ng – An interesting premise (missionaries to faerie) spoiled by a pervasive theme that makes pretty much everyone go Eeeeewww!
- Unusual Uses of Olive Oil by Alexander McCall Smith – the fourth installment in the Professor Dr. Von Igelfeld series; less entertaining than the first three
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