re:View – The 2016 Bookshelf
January: Crime, Charms and Cyberspace

A new year, a new bookshelf and already I’m behind on the reviews. I blame a busy January…that, and my new Netflix subscription. So here it is: the January 2016 bookshelf. Remind me to read more again.


Neuromancer (Sprawl #1) by William Gibson
This was my secret Santa gift last year, chosen by the combined powers of my book-loving team members. I have to admit Gibson’s style took some getting used to. I always struggle a bit to get my head around sci-fi and cyberspace, so this cyberspace sci-fi thriller, in combination with Gibson’s way of throwing in off-hand concepts without elaborating, challenged me for a while before I started to enjoy it. But once I realised that not getting it had nothing to do with my lack of sci-fi knowledge, and that I was just supposed to go with it regardless of what made sense and what didn’t, it ended up being quite a fun ride. And although this is the kind of book where you don’t really care what happens to any of the characters – we’re all doomed anyway – I really enjoyed this trip through futuristic cityscapes, weird space communities and creepy cyber avenues.
Pens: 4 out of 5

Charmed Life (Crestomanci #1) by Diana Wynne Jones
This book came to me through a colleague who rediscovered it years and years after reading it in school. It’s a wonderful children’s book about two orphans, teenage girl Gewndolen who has a strong potential for magic and her little brother cat, who has no magic at all. When they come to live in the castle of the powerful enchanter Crestomanci (whose collection of extravagant dressing gowns has given me a new life goal), Gwendolen is banned from using her powers, causing the rebellious teen witch to conjure up a storm that threatens the lives of the siblings and the foundations of the world they live in, and Cat makes an incredible discovery about his own powers. This is a beautiful story about finding one’s own strength when faced with adversity, filled with colourful characters and all those wonderful little details that make your imagination fly and bring a magical world to life. Another one of the many books I wish I’d read as a child.
Pens: 4 out of 5

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (Mary Russell #1) by Laurie R. King
I’m a fan of Doyle and I don’t generally like people messing with the original Sherlock Holmes – the BBC series being the only exception so far. So when a friend sent me a surprise parcel full of books about Sherlock Holmes and a female sidekick, that were not written by Doyle, I was veeery sceptical. But that friend gives good book recommendations so I gave the first volume a chance. And actually, Laurie R. King has done something very clever with this. Far from being a sidekick, Mary Russell actually takes the lead in her universe. As a highly intelligent, educated, feminist, cross-dressing and generally pretty badass young woman, she’s more than a match to an older, wiser Holmes, who may have retired to the countryside to keep bees, but nevertheless stays true to the original character. And when Holmes takes 15-year-old Russell on as an apprentice (detective, not beekeeper), the cases soon start rolling in. Yes, it’s different from the original. It’s more modern, more witty, probably not as technical in the crime-solving, but adding a very enjoyable personal dimension to the character and the world of Sherlock Holmes. And Mary Russell very quickly earned herself a spot among my favourite book heroines. I’m so signed up for the next 13 books…
Pens: 4 out of 5

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