Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries (2013)

Author: Eleanor Catton

Title: The Luminaries

Format: hardcover

Pages: 848

Series: –

An intriguing, intricate puzzle of a novel, in which historical fiction meets murder mystery, Catton’s The Luminaries is a solid entry for your New Zealand shelf. It’s smooth and well-written, with exquisite worldbuilding transporting the reader to the western shores of South Island, in the middle of the 19th-century gold fever, which in large part shaped New Zealand’s identity and sensibilities – not to mention the almost feudal hierarchy of landowners that persists to this day.

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Sebastien de Castell, The Malevolent Seven (2023)

Author: Sebastien de Castell

Title: The Malevolent Seven

Format: e-book

Pages: 384

Series: ?

I started my adventure with de Castell’s novels a few years back, with the Spellslinger series. It was recommended to me by several people, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Will and Mogsy here. They were right, the Spellslinger series is quite fun. I enjoyed the first installment moderately; it wasn’t either bad enough, or good enough, to merit a review, or a decision to continue – but when I saw a new de Castell book, set in a different universe and for all intents and purposes seemingly (that is, until I read it) standalone, I decided to give it a chance.

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Ashley Ward, Where We Meet the World: The Story of the Senses (2023)

Author: Ashley Ward

Title: Where We Meet the World: The Story of the Senses

Format: e-book

Pages: 324

Series: –

Ward’s newest book, Where We Meet the World, is a beautiful ode to the miracle of the natural world. It’s funny, engrossing, and educating, but the main highlight for me is the way it radiates awe and amazement directed at things we usually take for granted: the incredible, complex way our senses work to deliver our sense of self within the wider world.

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David Graeber, Bullshit Jobs: A Theory (2018)

Author: David Graeber

Title: Bullshit Jobs: A Theory

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 335

Series: –

Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs: A Theory is a curious book. It is not as much an academic dissertation, or in any way a scientific book, as it is an elaborate opinion piece. It is emotional, forceful and only shallowly researched, and goes as far in its crusade as to bend some of the facts to the overarching idea – not to mention the fact that said crusade is being led from a comfy professorial chair in one of the expensive American universities. And yet, I read it with growing relief and weirdly depressing comfort stemming from the assurance that I’m not the only one feeling oppressed by the growing idiocy and uselessness of many modern jobs.

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Adrian Tchaikovsky, Eyes of the Void (2022)

Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky

Title: Eyes of the Void

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 608

Series: The Final Architecture #2

Welp. I have a lot of sentiment for Tchaikovsky, mostly for his truly outstanding (if a bit too goody even for our resident Polyanna) fantasy series, Shadows of the Apt. I respect his writing skill and his imagination, I admit our views on many things are generally aligned, and I suspect he’s a really nice guy to boot. But for all that, I find it increasingly difficult to find a book of his that really awes me, makes me think, or at least fully entertains. I had some hopes for his new SF series, of which Eyes of the Void is the second installment. The first book, Shards of Earth, was quite interesting – maybe not very original, but pretty enjoyable. Alas, I’m sad to say that with Eyes of the Void it’s just more of the same, only without any length limitations, to the further detriment of the whole endeavor.

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