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Blackbirds
Chuck Wendig
Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 05
Hiromu Arakawa
Debt: The First 5,000 Years
David Graeber
Who Owns the Future?
Jaron Lanier
Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World's Undeciphered Scripts
Andrew Robinson
Taken (Elvis Cole, #13 / Joe Pike, #4) - Robert Crais It's a good thriller, but it's not a great Elvis Cole book.

As the series has progressed, Crais has kept on raising the physical and emotional stakes for his protagonists. Early on in the series, bad things happen to strangers and clients. Then bad things happen to people close to the main characters. Then bad things happen to the heroes directly. By now, it's almost impossible to conceive of an Elvis Cole/Joe Pike story where the two of them are not in mortal danger on every page.

It gets tiring.

Cole still jokes about being the World's Greatest Detective, but his heart isn't in it any more. He feels tired and broken, and, well, not much fun any more.

Joe Pike has always been a darker character, and I'm happy enough reading a grim tale with him at the centre. But I much prefer the easy-going Elvis Cole from from back in [b:The Monkey's Raincoat|14404|The Monkey's Raincoat (Elvis Cole, #1)|Robert Crais|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348618089s/14404.jpg|2541445] or [b:Indigo Slam|241933|Indigo Slam (Elvis Cole, #7)|Robert Crais|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320434242s/241933.jpg|2667420].
Captain Vorpatril's Alliance - Lois McMaster Bujold Simply brilliant. So _that's_ what the view is from inside Ivan's head...
The Apocalypse Codex (Laundry Files, #4) - Charles Stross I wanted to like this more than I actually did. It's good, but I don't think it's up to the same standard as and The Atrocity Archives and The Jennifer Morgue. Now that Bob is higher up the management chain, the petty bureaucratic annoyances that provided some of the humour in the earlier books is gone. The ever-present spectre of CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN is invoked, but it seems to be the Big Bad lingering on the horizon. The actual nameless horror that Bob ends up dealing with here - or at least its minions - feel pretty tame. The threats didn't fill me with the subtle yet bleak dread the series has been so good at evoking so far.

Having said that, I do like the way that Charlie is evolving the Laundry itself, or rather, Bob's knowledge and understanding of it. It definitely feels like (in RPG terms) the characters are leveling up. There was a lot here that reminded me of Harry Connolly's Twenty Palaces series - I kept thinking of the creatures Schiller uses as predators, and of Bob as Persephone's "wooden man."

If you like the earlier Laundry books, there's no guarantee that you will like the Twenty Palaces series, because the Twenty Palaces series is a lot darker than early Bob. But I reckon that if you like the way The Apocalypse Codex went, there's a much better chance you'll hit it off.
A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold - George R.R. Martin Much happens in this volume; lots of surprises.
A Clash of Kings - George R.R. Martin Drags a bit in the middle.
A Rush of Blood - Quintin Jardine This is the first book I've read in the Skinner series, and it's a bad place to start. The cast of characters spans practically the whole of Edinburgh's CID, and all they seem to do for the first 100 pages or so is talk to each other in unnatural "as you know, Bob" info-dump style. If I had been following these characters for 20 books already, I'm sure I would enjoy seeing them all again; as it was, by the end of the book I still couldn't tell half of the characters apart.

Fortunately, about a third of the way through the plot starts to become interesting, and I wanted to find out what was happening. The last third is fast-paced and introduces the most interesting characters in the whole book, which seems somewhat backward.

I do love thrillers set in Edinburgh, so maybe I'll go back to the start of the series, and see if I do any better tackling these characters right from the beginning.
The Midnight Mayor - Kate Griffin Just like in the first book of the series (A Madness of Angels), I found a lot to like here, but it also moves a bit too slowly for my taste, with too much time spent on long, windy, descriptive passages. Characters and setting are fabulous, and I'll definitely buy the next book to find out what happens to them. It's just that sometimes getting there felt like a bit of a slog.
A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin Yeah, that was pretty good.

Bryant and May Off the Rails: (Bryant & May Book 8) (Bryant and May) (Paperback) - Common

Bryant and May Off the Rails: (Bryant & May Book 8) (Bryant and May) (Paperback) - Common - By (author) Christopher Fowler A solid entry in the series, though not as emotionally gripping as some of the others. It's a satisfyingingly quirky mystery with lots of opportunities for Bryant to go haring off on Underground-related tangents. Plenty of very funny moments, and it's nice to see DS Longbright getting a bit more of the spotlight.
Up Against It - M.J. Locke Took me two tries to get into this, but it was very worthwhile. The first chapter put me off the first time round; the four characters shown in the first chapter felt too self-absorbed. Turns out there are several other viewpoint characters, and the story has nothing to do with what happens in that first chapter - it's just setting the scene. Rest of the book is fast-paced & exciting crisis-in-space adventure.
V is for Vengeance - Sue Grafton Rich, intricate plot, great characters. One of her best.
Ready Player One - Ernest Cline Brilliant, brilliant book. Anyone who played video games in the 1980s will get a kick out of this.
Birthdays for the Dead - Stuart MacBride The fictitious city of Oldcastle put me off for a while - I enjoy his descriptions of Aberdeen, and I missed the familiarity here. (Curiously, I'm not bothered by books set in places I don't know.) But after the first 150 page or so, it's a juggernaut.
The Blackhouse - Peter May Brilliant.