Looking forward to reading some BFBs in 2020. I've got 16 identified, and some others might slip in.
#1 Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
Xenocide is the third book in the Ender's Game series and explores the increasing risk to Lusitania, a planet housing the only other two sentient species in the galaxy, along with a virus that would kill every human if it could. The book starts in space as Ender's sister travels to Lusitania to see her brother. It also reaches far away to a planet called Path, where certain citizens are touched by God, which causes them to be both incredibly smart and also servants to brutal OCD symptoms. Card somehow brings this all together into a really interesting mix, at times having the two non-human sentient species talk to each other. A good book and I'm looking forward to what happens next.
#2 The Help by Kathryn Stockett
I think everyone but me has either read the book or seen the movie. My hair stylist gave this book to me to read a few months ago and although I pulled it out a few times to read, other books that were part of my series focus last year always got the nod over this one. January's RandomCAT on new year's resolutions and a hair appointment next week pushed me to crack it open. So glad I did. Told in the viewpoints of two maids and a young woman aspiring to be a writer in 1960's Jackson, Mississippi, The Help was funny, difficult, suspenseful, sad and in the end hopeful. Excellent book.
#3 Pilgrimage 4 by Dorothy Richardson
Finally finished the 2110 page work that is Pilgrimage by Dorothy Richardson with Pilgrimage 4. This last volume includes the five novels Oberland, Dawn's Left Hand, Clear Horizon, Dimple Hill and March Moonlight.
Oberland was different from all the rest of the Pilgrimage novels up to this point as it is about a vacation Miriam took to the Swiss Alps. Instead of going around London, this was focused on the natural beauty of Switzerland, with some focus on her interactions with the other people staying at the lodge. And her great love of tobogganing!
Dawn's Left Hand was kind a vague novel which had Miriam spending time with Hypo and his wife, and with Hypo alone, and also getting to know Amabel.
In Clear Horizon, Miriam continues her relationship with Amabel, meets with Michael again and introduces Amabel to Hypo. Amabel gets arrested while participating in the suffragette movement. Miriam asks a doctor she had turned down romantically for help with her sister, who is sick. The doctor confirm she needs surgery. Miriam is of course aghast as her sister and her husband have fallen on hard times and there is no money for an operation. The doctor has actually found another doctor who will perform the surgery for free and a Florence Nightingale Home where her sister can stay for practically nothing.
Dimple Hill sees Miriam taking a six-month sabbatical from work; she travels around and stays at several different hotels/boarding houses, at first traveling with friends, and then later staying with a family of Quakers that Michael recommended. She really enjoys her time there, practically becoming an honorary Quaker.
In the last novel, March Moonlight, which was published posthumously, Miriam takes a few breaks from Dimple Hill, the Quaker farm, to go back to London, to visit Amabel and Michael, and then when she goes back to Dimple Hill, she hears that someone else will be coming in September, an ex-Catholic priest, also suffering from a nervous breakdown. And in the meantime, Miriam needs to leave Dimple Hill for a while because Miss Rescorla will be away for a while - I guess she can't stay there if she's the only female? So Miriam stays in what I would characterize as a YWCA. She befriends a Russian woman there who comes to depend on Miriam, as she feels no one else likes her.
My overall thoughts on the entire work:
Four books actually, and more than 2100 pages, of living inside Miriam Henderson's mind in this stream of consciousness work, encompassing 13 novels. I'm glad for the experience of reading this work, but it was not an easy or fast read. It was difficult to follow who was who and to actually understand at times what was happening. At the time of its publication (over several years), her critics didn't suspect it was based on the author's life. I had to read a lot of reference material to understand the actual events taking place -
Full of excruciating detail of people, their clothes, houses, furniture, the London streets, and nature, it went very slowly, Still I was interested in what it was like for a single woman to live and work on her own in London in the early 1900s. To attend lectures, read, and learn and question others about philosophy, to travel to Switzerland, live with a Quaker family, fall in love and have men fall in love with her, and to always stay single and live as independently as possible.
#4 Winter's Heart by Robert Jordan
Winter's heart, the ninth book in the Wheel of Time series, made progress in a number of storylines, and of course there is still a lot more to go. Mat finally gets to meet the Daughter of the Nine Moons, Rand has his relationships with Min, Elayne and Aviendha formalized in a way, and Perrin is still searching for Faile. The ending of this one leads me to think that the tone of the next book, and the remainder of the series, will change a bit, and I'm looking forward to that!
#5 A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
I was really excited with how this book started - in the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford, Diana discovers an enchanted tome. Soon she is caught up in a dangerous mystery involving other witches, demons and vampires. However, I found the pace to be too fast, frantic even, and would've enjoyed more descriptions of place and characters. Also, I found the romance angle to be a bit unbelievable. Still, I enjoyed the story and will definitely continue the trilogy.
#6 Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan
The tenth book of the Wheel of Time series is similar to A Crown of Swords in that there was an overlap between this book and the previous book. Rand and Nynaeve worked together at the end of Winter's Heart to cleanse saidar, and the impact of that effort was noticeable all over the world to anyone who could channel. This was another installment in the series where we spend a lot more time with Rand's friends then we do with him. Perrin gets closer to the Shaido who are holding Faile, Egwene get closer to Tar Valon, Elayne works to secure the throne in Caemlyn, Mat makes his escape from Ebu Dar. Ending on a cliffhanger, I'm looking forward to the next in the series, Knife of Dreams.
>13 johnsimpson: Thank you John! And thanks for the invite to the 2021 thread - I'll be getting over there and setting up shop later this month; I think I may still have a book or two to include here from 2020.