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Book of Nod by Sam Chupp & Andrew Greenberg
The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
Against His Will by Nancy Kelley
SECRET Shared by L. Marie Adeline
The Wyndham Legacy, The Valentine Legacy, and The Nightingale Legacy by Catherine Coulter
Deeper Than the Dead and Secrets to the Grave by Tami Hoag
After Dead by Charlaine Harris
Captain Francis Crozier: Last Man Standing? by Michael Smith
( My Thoughts?Collapse )
A philanthropist sends a young woman to college in the early 1900s and the book consists of her letters to her anonymous benefactor.
A warm, gentle, happy story. Thanks to k425 for pointing me towards the free kindle download, as I might have missed out on it otherwise.
106. The Ghost and Mrs McClure by Alice Kimberley. 196 pages.
Widowed Penelope McClure moves with her young son to help her aunt restore the fortunes of her ailing bookshop. But when they stage a book signing, the author keels over dead in mid-speech and Penelope falls under suspicion. Coincidentally, the bookshop is haunted by the ghost of the private investigator who inspired the work of the author in question and he applies his detective skills to find the real guilty party.
Nothing too cerebral here, but good fun.
107. E is for Evidence by Sue Grafton. 227 pages.
The fifth Kinsey Milhone mystery. This time Kinsey finds herself in the frame for insurance fraud and her efforts to extricate herself open old wounds both for her and for others.
This series seems to be improving as it goes on.
108. Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett. 375 pages.
Latest in the Discworld series. Some people apparently think that the more recent books in the series show evidence of Mr Pratchett's unfortunate illness ( or "embuggerance" as the man himself refers to it), but to me, this one is as strong as any of the preceding books, both in terms of plot and humour.
Moist von Lipwig isn't may favourite Discworld character, I admit, but this is possibly the best book to feature him so far and there are plenty of olther characters, old and new to enhance proceedings.
This time the steam train comes to the Discworld and the question arises as to whether it's a problem or a solution....
Great fun :)
Considered by critics to be an accurate portrayal of frontline medical conditions, A Surgeon in Khaki is New Zealand surgeon Arthur Anderson Martin’s account of his experiences in 1914, early in World War I. Already a well-respected and widely traveled surgeon when war broke out, Martin joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. Under Field Marshal Sir John French, he served at Le Havre, Harfleur, and at the battle of the Marne. He marched to Aisne, to the new lines behind La Bassée, and finally to Flanders. During his entire service, he advocated immediate specialist surgery for the direst wounds, even under fire.
In this engaging narrative, the reader experiences the daily life of war through the eyes of the medical officers who tried valiantly to help the wounded and ill on the front lines of World War I. Martin provides colorful descriptions of the soldiers and officers, harrowing details of the battles, and riveting accounts of the difficulty of treating men in a war zone. A better firsthand account of medicine during World War I is not to be found.
This highly-readable account of life in World War I was a fascinating and fast read for me. Martin doesn't simply describe campaigns and politics. He's in the trenches. He's one of the men, and he's a highly frustrated one at that. He's appalled at how ill-prepared Britain was as it entered the war and how botched things were even months later. Doctors had to operate under terrible conditions, but the ignorance of the supply system made it far worse: a total lack of automobile ambulances (until Martin wrote back to connections in London to get things done, a move that likely made him unpopular with his superiors), no rubber gloves, and on and on.
He doesn't go into graphic detail about his daily duties, but he doesn't need to. For my research needs, I acquired knowledge on the different injuries of different bullets, signs of gas gangrene, lice and how they were treated, and the application of iodine for tender feet.
This is really a good book, and one that's made sadder because Martin died on duty during the war. Through his writing, he comes across as an intelligent, compassionate man--one who is even willing to address the subject of the rape of French women and how it bothered the men tremendously to see horses suffer. The word "hero" is bandied about too often these days, but this New Zealander was indeed a hero.
A brilliantly crafted modern tale from acclaimed film critic and screenwriter C. Robert Cargill—part Neil Gaiman, part Guillermo Del Toro, part William S. Burroughs—that charts the lives of two boys from their star-crossed childhood in the realm of magic and mystery to their anguished adulthoods
There is another world than our own—one no closer than a kiss and one no further than our nightmares—where all the stuff of which dreams are made is real and magic is just a step away. But once you see that world, you will never be the same.
Dreams and Shadows takes us beyond this veil. Once bold explorers and youthful denizens of this magical realm, Ewan is now an Austin musician who just met his dream girl, and Colby, meanwhile, cannot escape the consequences of an innocent wish. But while Ewan and Colby left the Limestone Kingdom as children, it has never forgotten them. And in a world where angels relax on rooftops, whiskey-swilling genies argue metaphysics with foul-mouthed wizards, and monsters in the shadows feed on fear, you can never outrun your fate.
Dreams and Shadows is a stunning and evocative debut about the magic and monsters in our world and in our self.
The comparison to Neil Gaiman and Guillaermo Del Toro is apt. This book is dark, often creepy, and completely mesmerizing. It paints a vivid picture of fae, jinn, and Coyote in the modern world--in the Hill Country of Texas and nearby Austin--with all their dark magic and manipulation. It's one of those book that I was sorry that it ended, but at the same time I felt like I could breathe and relax again.
Book #65: Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett
Number of pages: 316
This book once again gives significant parts to Death and his Granddaughter, Susan. In this story, however, Susan is called upon by Death to team up with the Monks of Time to stop the creation of a clock that can stop time altogether, ending the world. Death, meanwhile, is busy rounding up the other horsemen of the apocalypse to ride out together at the point where inevitably time stops completely. The story also focusses on the monks, in particular Lu Tze and his apprentice, Lobsang Ludd; the story also features Nanny Ogg, who reveals a dark secret about a baby she once helped deliver. Incidentally, it is also the fourth consecutive book to feature one of the "Igors", who first appeared in a cameo during "Jingo".
I have found this to be one of the better Discworld novels of recent times, although it gets incredibly bizarre at times, particularly the unexpected twist regarding two of the story's characters. Not surprisingly, a lot of the humour is taken from Biblical prophecies from the book of Revelation, but there are some other moments of typical Pratchett genius too.
The main villains of the story are the sinister auditors, who are attempting to end the world; this leads to a Reservoir Dogs-based running joke whereby they start naming themselves after different colours; however, there are so many of them that they start running out of colours. The book also features a brilliant James Bond-inspired sequence with Lu Tze and Lobsang meeting a character named "Qu". My other favourite moments included War being under the thumb of his wife, a sequence involving the Auditors having to follow all signs literally and the concept of a forgotten fifth horseman of the apocalypse.
Overall, this is a decent story and more importantly, an original one.
Next book: Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott
- Current Location:My Flat
- Current Mood: calm
- Current Music:Queen, "Don't Stop Me Now"
This is a kids' 'choose your own adventure' type of book, but it was fun to read. The pictures in this book were also pretty, and the extra information added to the book was good, too.
72. Beckett - Spiritual Letters
I've mostly read her books on art (and one on poetry), but her thoughts on spiritual things - as well as some art, as usual - are very helpful and down to earth. Lovely to read, and the book smelled like fresh new schoolbooks, which I loved.
73. St. Catherine Of Bologna - The Seven Spiritual Weapons (English translation)
Slim but packed with good stuff. Also shows how she handled her depression pretty well considering it wasn't really known yet... the life she lived helped definitely a great deal in keeping her active even at the worst times. But it's also a good read on motivating oneself in our spiritual life.
74. Ellena - The Diary Of A Nose: A Year In The Life Of A Perfumeur (English translation)
Never actually boring, an intersting view on life of a perfume-creator. :)
75. Collns - CSI: Killing Game
The usual good CSI-episode-in-a-book book, good to read now and then.
76. Mosley & Spencer - The Fast Diet
AKA the 5:2 diet; I bought this one mainly cos I just wanted the basics, not so much the recipes which I can do elsewhere. But the idea and the explanation of the details of this diet certainly made it sound like a good diet to try. Recommended.
77. Anonymous (Lady Sarashina) - As I Crossed A Bridge Of Dreams: Recollections Of A Woman In 11th-Century Japan (English translation)
Slim one. Will probably one day read it at the same go as Lady Murasaki and Sei Shonagon's diaries, to compare. This woman was a real introvert even by that times' standards, and had some bad timings due to excessive dreaminess, but her travel/pilgrimage commentaries were interesting.
78. Confucius - The Analects (English translation)
Not sure if I recommend, but it does bring up some good ideas and felt sensible, so for me it was worth a read.
79. De Mello - The Song Of The Bird (Finnish translation)
Meditative pieces from various religions (though ultimately Christian), a quick read and an eye-opener; loved it.
80. Bl. Angela Of Foligno - Complete Works (English translation)
At times a bit heavy-going, it does bring up some good points.
- Current Mood: hungry
- Current Music:Snowpony - "Pylons"
Without further ado…books 3 and 4 for 2012:
Book 3: The Last Warrior by Susan Grant – 378 pages
Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
As a decorated soldier, the young General Tao knows only one kind of honor--to his people. But when his own king betrays him, he discovers that his sacrifices, his successes, may not have been for the good of the country at all. Fate--and his enemies--throw him together with Elsabeth, a red-haired beauty who has served as the royal tutor. Her loyalties, though, remain with her father's people, the rebellious Kurel, who worship the old ways, even harboring the forbidden arks that brought the Kurel to this planet ages ago. When a threat greater than their peoples' war looms, intent on destroying the world they both know, the fierce warrior and the sensitive scholar must unite. Together, they must fight for their planet, for their world and for their love.
This is Susie’s latest book and the last one of her’s I had to read. It’s the first in a new trilogy about two races who inhabit the same planet. One is pacifist, the other fighting a war against a third species who is threatening to take over the whole planet. It’s definitely an idea I’ve seen pop up in Star Trek a number of times. Either way, it was a good read. A little duller than Susie’s other books, probably because I prefer space based dramas, and this one has no space elements (yet; there is clearly intention for this in future books in the same trilogy), but otherwise, it had the typical Susie elements – an attractive hero, a damsel who doesn’t quite meet the definition of a ‘in distress’ and a war no one wants to fight but has not choice but to be involved in. I’m still waiting for the sequel, nearly two years later, but if you’re of the patient sort, definitely a decent read.
3 / 50 books. 6% done!
910 / 15000 pages. 6% done!
Book 4: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – 454 pages
Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. But Katniss has been close to death before - and survival, for her, is second nature. The Hunger Games is a searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present. Welcome to the deadliest reality TV show ever...
Given the latest in the teen trilogies had actually got decent reviews compared to its predecessor (I’m looking at you, Twilight), I decided I give it a shot. I was pleased to find it actually deserving of its fame. I’m not going to bother rehashing the plot as we all know it, but I will say that it’s a fast and engrossing read. The characterization is good (the female lead has a backbone, guts, and a brain – its like the total opposite of Twilight!), the pacing solid, and the story itself has that eerie quality that comes with a story that reflects back at you the flaws of our own society in a manner that is perverse but also frighteningly familiar. Few trilogies are engaging enough for me to continue going one after the other (I usually have to leave a gap). This was one of the few that I felt a strong desire to follow up quickly. Definitely deserving of its fame.
4 / 50 pages. 8% done!
1364 / 15000 pages. 9% done!
- The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory – 437 pages
- Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore by Bettany Hughes – 412 pages
- The Authenticity Hoax: How we get lost finding ourselves by Andrew Potter – 283 pages
And coming up:
- The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
- The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
- One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages
- Current Location:Brisbane, QLD, Australia
- Current Mood: hungry
- Current Music:The 7:30 report on TV
107. Parade’s End by Ford Maddox Ford
108. Selling Sucks: How to Stop Selling and Start Getting Prospects to Buy! by Frank Rumbauskas Jr.
109. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
110. Scarlet Moon by Debbie Viguie
111. The Summer of Cotton Candy by Debbie Viguie
112. The Fall of Candy Corn by Debbie Viguie
113. Reverend Feelgood by Lutishia Lovely
114. Rapid Fire by Donna Ball
115. Edith’s Story by Edith Velmans
116. Amish Romance Boxed Set by Becca Fisher The books in this set are about the members in an Amish family. The father is set in his ways in his beliefs about outsiders though his three daughters meet outsiders in different ways. The love stories of each of the sisters and even between the parents is sweet which is a change from many romance books today. This book though is Christian fiction and would be a set of books that I would give to someone else.
117. The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
Author: Kathy Reichs, 2013.
Genre: Forensic Crime Fiction. War. Sexual Violence.
Other Details: Hardback. 336 pages.
The body of a teenage girl is discovered along a desolate highway on the outskirts of Charlotte. Inside her purse is the ID card of a local businessman who died in a fire months earlier. Who was the girl? And was she murdered? Dr Temperance Brennan, Forensic Anthropologist, must find the answers. She soon learns that a Gulf War veteran stands accused of smuggling artefacts into the country. Could there be a connection between the two cases? Convinced that the girl’s death was no accident, Tempe soon finds herself at the centre of a conspiracy that extends from South America to Afghanistan. But to find justice for the dead, she must be more courageous - and take more extreme action - than ever before. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.
I always look forward to my annual read of the latest Tempe Brennan story, though this year I had to do a catch-up read. Backed by Kathy Reich's real life expertise in forensic anthropology the science here is always impressive. As she often has done in recent years Reichs tackles issues snatched from the headlines that do not make comfortable reading.
In addition to the main plot sketched above, there is an interlude for Brennan in Afghanistan when she is asked by ex-husband Pete to help out with a military investigation as the son of his friend is being accused of the murder of two civilians. This trip also gives Tempe a chance to connect to her daughter, Katy, who has enlisted in the military and has been stationed there. There are also shifts in her complex relationships with Mark Ryan and ex-husband Pete.
Reading Reichs' notes at the conclusion it transpires that she and a number of other writers did visit Afghanistan in 2011 and this gives an authentic feel to Tempe's experiences in the segment. As usual Tempe ignores advice and puts herself in mortal danger but it is the habit of a lifetime and part of the formula that makes these novels enjoyable. I am also always happy to see the antics of her lovely cat, Birdie in those novels set in North Carolina.
Author: Haven Kimmel, 2002.
Genre: Contemporary Relationship Drama. Religion and Philosophy.
Other Details: Paperback. 315 pages.
In May 1998 Langston Braverman returns home to Haddington, Indiana after walking out on the oral exam for her PhD. She is in a fragile state and retreats to her parent's attic and refuses to engage with anyone, though has vague plans to write the Great American Novel. Even the news of the recent death of Alice, her childhood friend, fails to rouse her from her insular state.
Down the street the local preacher, Amos Townsend, is in the grips of a crisis of faith, uncertain if he can continue in his role of spiritual leader for his community. He has been deeply affected by Alice's violent death and feels a responsibility towards Alice's orphaned daughters. Frustrated by her daughter's ennui, AnnaLee Braverman, pressures Langston into the role of carer, along with Amos and herself, to the orphaned girls.
It takes some time for AnnaLee to actually accomplish this. For most of the novel Langston is being a complete pain in the bum; self-absorbed and moody, providing no explanation as to why she left her academic studies when on the brink of completing her PhD. Thankfully the author doesn't pull any fancy post-modern nonsense leaving us hanging with uncertainty and we do learn the answers to various questions; including why Langston left university, the mystery surrounding her brother Taos, and the details of Alice's death.
This was Kimmel's début novel and there is no doubt that it provides an interesting portrait of life in small town America at the end of the 20th Century. While near contemporary in its setting, the novel isn't defined by its period and could easily take place any time in the latter part of the 20th century. The problem though is that it gets rather bogged down in complex philosophical and religious contemplation, which drags the narrative to an almost standstill and this tends to go on a bit. Musings about death and sin, the seriousness with which Amos considers the tenets of his conservative Anabaptist ministry and Langston's more philosophical questioning about her relation to God isn't the most riveting material for a secular or agnostic reader, who may not have expected to enter such heavy waters.
It was also very hard to feel much empathy for Langston, especially early on, and this was echoed by the rest of our reading group. Collectively we agreed with the critical reviews that it captured small town USA but that it was just too heavy going on the religion and philosophy debates, which is fine if you want to engage with these issues in fictional format. However, it did encourage discussion in the group, which is always a good thing.
46. MaddAddam, by Margaret Atwood (416 pages)
The last in the Oryx and Crake trilogy is a fitting conclusion. The Painballers still on the loose has left everyone anxious--and not only the remaining humans. As a result, an unprecedented alliance is forged, one hope of the future depends upon. I am left wondering if Crake intended this the entire time--not the full extinction of the human race, but leaving only those who would do the least damage to the remaining world--or if the results are beyond his expectations.
47. Hellhound, by Nancy Holzner (336 pages)
Victory's destiny comes into play here as a battleground between good and evil descends upon Boston, in the form of Pryce, the Hellion, the Old Ones, and the Morfran. Vicky also finds herself having to balance the different aspects of her life, increasingly difficult given the destinies she has been shown.
48. News from Heaven, by Jennifer Haigh (256 pages)
This is a place-based series of short stories, set in a small coal-town from before World War II to near present-day. It follows various families, providing snapshots of their lives. Definitely very enjoyable, and beyond the fact that it's well-written with fascinating characters, I personally liked it because I write place-based fiction.
November pages: 1,008
Pages to date: 14,919
November 2013 Comics/Manga Reading:
292. The Wallflower: Volume 10, by Tomoko Hayakawa (179 pages)
293. Black Bird: Volume 17, by Kanoko Sakurakouji (192 pages)
November pages: 371
Pages to date: 58,010
Author: Sarah Pinborough, 2013.
Genre: Historical Fiction. Serial Murders. Victorian England. Supernatural. Drugs.
Other Details: Hardcover. 339 pages.
When a rotting torso is discovered in the vault of New Scotland Yard, it doesn’t take Dr Thomas Bond, Police Surgeon, long to realise that there is a second killer at work in the city where, only a few days before, Jack the Ripper brutally murdered two women in one night. Though just as gruesome, this is the hand of a colder killer, one who lacks Jack’s emotion. And, as more headless and limbless torsos find their way into the Thames, Dr Bond becomes obsessed with finding the killer. As his investigations lead him into an unholy alliance, he starts to wonder: is it a man who has brought mayhem to the streets of London, or a monster? - synopsis from UK publisher's website.
Before opening this book and reading the author's preface, I had not heard of the Thames Torso Murders, which took place during the same time period as Jack the Ripper was active. They were over-shadowed in later years by the Ripper murders. Here Sarah Pinborough brings both series of murders into play in a superb Victorian police procedural with a notable difference.
Going in I had expected a straight forward mystery and so I was surprised and delighted by its supernatural element. Looking into Pinborough's body of work it seems that she does write in this field of supernatural crime fiction as well as re-told fairy tales.
The novel was very engaging and I applauded how well Pinborough captured the atmosphere of the period and her strong characterisations, especially of Dr. Bond. I am planning to get my hands on other novels including the forthcoming sequel to Mayhem due next year simply titled Murder.
Author: Marcel Proust, 1923, 1925. Translated from the French by Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin; revised by D J Enright, 1992.
Genre: Modern Classic. Literary. Comedy of Manners. GLBT.
Other Details: 2000 Vintage Proust Edition. Paperback. 814 pages.
In the two novels - The Captive and The Fugitive - contained in this volume, Proust's narrator is living in his mother's apartment in Paris with his lover, Albertine. However, this is far from an idyllic state of affairs. His obsessive love for her means that their relationship is shadowed by jealousy and headed for tragedy. - synopsis from Vintage Books website.
Although sold by Vintage as a single volume as this contained two volumes of Proust's lengthy novel I have counted it as two books for purposes of my annual count.
The Captive opens with the Narrator moving Albertine into his family's Paris apartment. He then seems to spend most of the next 473 pages anguishing further about her possible Sapphic inclinations and betrayal. He has her followed and spied upon and seeks to restrict her movements in a variety of ways. He also questions her incessantly; only feeling content when she is asleep. Like Twilight's Edward he creepily often watches her sleep without her awareness. Albertine finally has enough and moves out. The story continues in The Fugitive, which contains some genuine surprises that I had not anticipated. The Narrator, of course, continues to anguish about Albertine and that is all I can say without major spoilers.
Obviously, there is more in its 800 pages than merely angst about his mistress. Swann's daughter Gilberte comes back into the Narrator's life, there are more tragic/comic episcodes featuring Baron de Charlus and his fraught relationship with Charlie Morel as well as general observations about the lives of the French upper classes, complete with changes of fortune and the kind of back-stabbing still popular today in contemporary dramas such as Revenge.
In many ways the Narrator's obsession renders him the captive of the title. Although at times I grew frustrated with the Narrator's obsession it remained riveting reading; examining the destructive nature of sexual jealousy. As Patrick Alexander writes in Marcel Proust's Search for Lost Time: "This is Proust being Woody Allen at his most neurotically annoying, and there are many times when the reader is temped to throw down the book and say, "Enough already! get over it.". I am glad he wrote that as it seems my experience during reading was quite the norm.
These volumes of the novel were published after Proust's death in 1922 and there is less polish here than in the earlier volumes as he was unable to edit them to the degree he had previous volumes. This did result in some passages, especially dialogue, flowing more freely than in earlier parts and even shorter sentences than his usual style.
Part of the impetus for this year's choices was my obvious obsession with Sherlock Holmes pastiches, accounting for 22 books. Another was my growing interest in Steampunk literature, accounting for 11 more. Also, in August I joined worldswithoutend.com. This year, they challenged their members to read a science fiction, fantasy, or horror book by twelve different female authors that they had never read before. You can see this influence take over with book #34, and continue through #50.
1. Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon, by Larry Millett
2. Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders, by Larry Millett
3. Sherlock Holmes and the Voice from the Crypt, by Donald Thomas
4. Murder at the Vatican: the Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, by Ann Margaret Lewis
5. The Ghosts In Baker Street, edited by Martin H. Greenberg
6. Sherlock Holmes and the Houdini Birthright, by Val Andrews
7. Fire-Tongue, by Sax Rohmer (Kindle edition)
8. Brood of the Witch-Queen, by Sax Rohmer (Kindle edition)
9. Bat-Wing, by Sax Rohmer (Kindle edition)
10. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novel, by Alan Moore
11. Heroes and Monsters: the Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, by Jess Nevins
12. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol 2 graphic novel, by Alan Moore
13. A Blazing World: An Unofficial Companion to the Second LXG, by Jess Nevins
14. As They See 'Em: A Fan's Travels in the Land of Umpires, by Bruce Weber
15. The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Peerless Peer, by Philip Jose Farmer
16. The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: War of the Worlds, by Manly Wade Wellman
17. The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Giant Rat of Sumatra, by Richard Boyer
18. The Seven Per Cent Solution, by Nicholas Meyer
19. The West End Horror, by Nicholas Meyer
20. Murder, My Dear Watson: New Tales of Sherlock Holmes, edited by Martin Greenberg
21. Night Watch: A Long Lost Tale in which Sherlock Holmes meets Father Brown, by Stephen Kendrick
22. The Case of the Philosopher's Ring, by Randall Collins
23. Sherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery, by Larry Millett
24. Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Alliance by, Larry Millett
25. The Disappearance of Sherlock Holmes, by Larry Millett
26. The Canary Trainer, by Nicholas Meyer
27. The Bobby Gold Stories, by Anthony Bourdain
28. Savages, by Don Winslow
29. I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive, by Steve Earle
30. Shadows Over Baker Street, edited by Michael Reaves
31. The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Angel of the Opera, by Sam Siciliano
32. Murder in Baker Street: New Tales of Sherlock Holmes, edited by Martin Greenberg
33. Sherlock Holmes in Orbit, edited by Mike Resnick
34. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
35. the Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye, by A.S. Byatt
36. the Giver, by Lois Lowery
37. A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. LeGuin
38. The Tombs of Atuan, by Ursula K. LeGuin
39. The Farthest Shore, by Ursula K. LeGuin
40. The Faded Sun: Kesrith, by C.J. Cherryh
41. The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson
42. Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest
43. The Alchemy of Stone, by Ekaterina Sedia
44. The Children of Men, by P.D. James
45. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
46. The Iron Wyrm Affair, by Lilith Saintcrow
47. Soulless, by Gail Carriger
48. Changeless, by Gail Carriger
49. Blameless, by Gail Carriger
50. Heartless, by Gail Carriger
Book #64: A Good Parcel of English Soil by Richard Mabey
Number of pages: 96
According to the back cover, this book addresses the notion: “That nature’s canniness will always trump techno hubris”, and throughout you can tell that writer Richard Mabey has a keen interest in naturalism.
This book centres largely around London’s Metropolitan Railway and talks about how it was intitially constructed, and how it connected the urban centre of London with the suburbs and surrounding countryside. The historical stuff is fascinating, and I got the sense that this book was well-researched.
The second half of this book is largely about the subject of nature, and particularly about Mabey’s own experiences growing up living in the countryside; I particularly enjoyed the vivid depiction of an incident where he and his friends had to be rescued from sinking into mud. Along with a brief commentary on the planned High Speed 2 rail line, this turns into an essay on nature the impact that urbanisation has on it.
I loved the way that the writer uses language throughout the book, and he seems to have quite a way with words (talking about the railway coming to “a ceremonious full stop against a set of buffers”), and there is a very upbeat feel to it.
Overall, this was an enjoyable book, and it didn’t just feel like something for the naturalists or the hippies.
Next book: Thief of Time (Terry Pratchett)
- Current Location:My Flat
- Current Mood: excited
- Current Music:Five, "Keep on Movin'"
Blurb: In a desperate attempt to save his relationship with girlfriend Lena and take a break from the world of journalism, Roger Boyes agrees to make a great escape from the easy urban lifestyle of Berlin and decamp to the countryside. He has hopes for Italy, but Lena has inherited a run-down schloss in deepest, darkest Brandenburg.
Needing a form of income, they decide to set up a B&B with a British theme. Enter unhelpful Harry and his Trinidadian chef cousin, an unhinged Scot to advise them on re-branding Brandenburg, some suicidal frogs and a posse of mad tourists. It all culminates, naturally, in a cricket match between the Brits and the Germans on an old Russian minefield. Farce meets romance in this hilarious romp through East Germany's very own Faulty Towers.
My View: I seem to have a habit of picking books which take a while to get going this year. At first, I wasn't enjoying this book too much. I often find Boyes can be a bit far-fetched in his re-telling of events, making them seem too unrealistic and unbelievable. However, they are funny which makes up for the potential porkies. I love Boyes' view on Germans, as he gets their little quirks perfectly. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a non-stereotypical insight into German like from a Brit. It is a simple read, great for relaxing.
Author: D. E. Meredith, 2011.
Genre: Historical Mystery. Victorian England. Forensics. Politics.
Other Details: Hardback. 335 pages.
July,1858. London swelters, and trouble is brewing. Forensic scientist Adolphus Hatton and his trusty assistant Albert Roumande have a morgue full of cholera victims to attend to, and an eager apprentice to teach. But alongside the cholera outbreak, London is also home to a growing unrest. When a leading politician of the Irish Unionist movement is murdered, the flamboyant Inspector Grey calls on Hatton and Roumande to help solve the case.
But Inspector Grey proves difficult to deal with – callous and hot-headed, he is determined to catch his criminals using any method, no matter how corrupt. When it becomes clear that they are dealing with a series of violent killings, Hatton and Roumande must attempt to find the connection between the victims – at the same time unravelling a bombing campaign by a group of would-be terrorists and exploring the method of fingerprinting, their newest forensic tool. And amongst all this, Professor Hatton finds himself dangerously distracted by a beautiful woman and painful memories from his past. - synopsis from UK publishers' website.
Although I had some reservations about Devoured, the first in this series, I am glad that I borrowed the second as it was stronger in terms of its pacing while retaining a highly detailed sense of the period setting and a cast of fascinating characters.
Here Meredith tackles the thorny issue of the conflict between the British and Irish as played out in Victorian London with a series of deaths with seemingly political motives. The conclusion came as a real surprise, which is always a treat, and I found that I enjoyed it very much.
There is no sign of a third book as yet though I hope she continues with with the series that she says readers describe as “Think CSI meets Sherlock Holmes….”. I would agree with this, which also makes my icon a perfect choice!
D. E. Meredith's page on 'The Devil's Ribbon' - includes download of first chapter and material on the Irish in 19th Century London.
World War I nurse Bess Crawford, introduced in A Duty to the Dead, returns in an exciting new mystery in which a murder draws her inexorably into the sights of a cunning killer
It is the early summer of 1917. Bess Crawford has returned to England from the trenches of France with a convoy of severely wounded men. One of her patients is a young pilot who has been burned beyond recognition, and who clings to life and the photo of his wife that is pinned to his tunic.
While passing through a London train station, Bess notices a woman bidding an emotional farewell to an officer, her grief heart-wrenching. And then Bess realizes that she seems familiar. In fact, she's the woman in the pilot's photo, but the man she is seeing off is not her husband.
Back on duty in France, Bess discovers a newspaper with a drawing of the woman's face on the front page. Accompanying the drawing is a plea from Scotland Yard seeking information from anyone who has seen her. For it appears that the woman was murdered on the very day Bess encountered her at the station.
Granted leave to speak with Scotland Yard, Bess becomes entangled in the case. Though an arrest is made, she must delve into the depths of her very soul to decide if the police will hang an innocent man or a vicious killer. Exposing the truth is dangerous—and will put her own life on the line.
This is the third book in the series that I have read, though I've done so out of order: book 1, 4, and then 2. It turned out this didn't matter in the least, as all the books completely stand on their own.
As I've noted before, I have read the books for research purposes. Fiction on World War I can be more enlightening about every day behaviors than nonfiction books. I found An Impartial Witness to be the most solid of the three, but it still frustrates me on several levels.
Foremost, the series is promoted as being about a war nurse. Bess is very rarely at the front. Due to her father's connections, she's able to get leave with incredible ease. Within the scope of the series, it feels like she sets her own hours--hopping over to France just long enough to find a witness she needs, and then she returns to England. She drives all over England, even with petrol shortages. Her father, the Colonel, still wields far too much power to get things done on her behalf, though in this book she does manage more on her own.
I still feel like Bess is very empty as a character.
Those complaints said, the books are not awful. They each read very quickly. The tension is there. It's a whodunit in the classic sense, with all sorts of red herrings and attempted murders and sordid affairs. However, I will not read onward in the series... though I will lend them to my mom to see what she thinks.
- Current Mood: thoughtful
38. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender – I think this was recommended in the “books” column of an issue of Real Simple magazine. At any rate, it’s the story of young Rose, who discovers on the cusp of her ninth birthday that she can “taste” the emotions of the cook whenever she eats …. well, just about anything. (I’m thinking that putting her with Tita from Like Water for Chocolate would be a volatile combination.) Until she learns to adapt, this odd talent makes mealtime torture, but she does learn to adjust and also finds that her “gift” allows her unusual insight into her friends and family members. By the way, her family is a little strange too. I liked Rose a great deal – her quiet determination, understated dedication to her family, and unassuming assertiveness – but the story was just okay to me.
39. The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan – the conclusion of the trilogy I started reading several months ago. This was indeed a satisfying conclusion, closing out the cliff hanger from the second book and setting the characters along the road to the rest of their lives. My only real quibble overall is that the protagonist’s efforts in the final action sequence seem to be a bit superhuman under the circumstances. I won’t say more about the story to avoid spoilers for anyone who may be interested in starting at the beginning of the trilogy.
40. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – from a Book Riot list. A magician grooms his daughter for a contest by proxy with his nemesis, who selects and trains his own participant in this battle. The venue for this contest is the very circus of the book’s title; at first it seems like a fantastic and magical place, but it becomes more apparent that things are not entirely “right” with this particular circus. Meanwhile, the two opponents meet and fall in love, not realizing that their competition is a battle to the death. I liked this story with its mysterious elements and interesting characters, but ultimately I found it to be a little … weird.
41. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson – suggested by earlier reading. Earlier this year I read Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of her trip along the Pacific Coast Trail in which she referenced this book about the elder statesman of US trails, the Appalachian Trail. This book, generally speaking, is a more conventional travelogue of the trail, but it’s still liberally sprinkled with the author’s musing on a number of topics from botany to history to meteorology. I’ve actually walked tiny portions of this trail myself (though he skips over the portion of the trail in Maryland for logistical reasons), so it was interesting to read about this part of the country for a change. It was also quite amusing to read about the author’s interactions with his hiking buddy Katz and other adventurers that they encounter along the way.
- Current Music:watching football
Author: Audrey Niffenegger, 2013.
Genre: Fantasy. Fairy Tale. Animals. Graphic Novels.
Other Details: Hardback. 80 pages.
Once there was a Postman who fell in love with a Raven…
So begins the tale of a postman who encounters a fledgling raven while on the edge of his route and decides to take her home. The unlikely couple falls in love and conceives a child – an extraordinary raven girl trapped in a human body. The raven girl feels imprisoned by her arms and legs and covets wings and the ability to fly. Betwixt and between, she reluctantly grows into a young woman, until one day she meets an unorthodox doctor who is willing to change her. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.
This is a dark modern fairy tale that combines the elements of classic fairy tales such as metamorphoses, sentient animals and unlikely unions with modern elements such as medicine and stem cell research. Audrey Niffenegger was asked to write a 'dark fairy tale' to be used as the narrative for a new ballet for the Royal Ballet, which premiered at the Royal Opera House in May. The illustrations by Niffenegger are stunning and it was easy to see how this would would make a very powerful ballet - a modern Swan Lake yet with ravens. The graphic novel flows beautifully and takes hardly any time to read. I was enchanted.
Raven Girl takes wing and flies onstage - Audrey Niffenegger writes in The Guardian about creating the story for the Royal Ballet. It includes a number of illustrations from the book.
Author: Charlaine Harris, 2013. Illustrations by Lisa Desimini.
Genre: Paranormal Romance. Southern Gothic. Vampires. Werewolves.
Other Details: Hardback. 208 pages.
With characters arranged alphabetically - from the Ancient Pythoness to Bethany Zanelli - bestselling author Charlaine Harris takes fans into the future of their favourite residents of Bon Temps and environs. You'll learn how Michele and Jason's marriage fared, what happened to Sookie's cousin Hunter, and whether Tara and JB's twins grew up to be solid citizens. This coda provides the answers to your lingering questions - including details of Sookie's own happily-ever-after... - synopsis from UK publisher's website.
This book also features interior art by artist Lisa Desimini and includes a Sookieverse Alphabet, colour endpapers, and several full-page black and white interior illustrations.
I bought this well aware of what it was as Orion/Gollancz had featured it in an email newsletter some time before its publication. I was happy to round out my collection of the series with it and loved Lisa Desimini's playful artwork, which I had admired on the USA covers.
The various answers provided reminded me that this was a comedy/drama and not to be taken too seriously. I also seem to have forgotten a lot of minor characters along the way.
When Dead Ever After was published earlier this year I was in the minority of fans who were very happy with the outcome and here I felt that in the entries involving the one she didn't end up with there was sadness and a sense of regret for a path not taken. I doubt it will change any of the strong negative opinions but I was pleased as it gave recognition of the importance of that relationship.
Author: Sue Gee, 2004.
Genre: Historical Fiction. England 1860s. Relationship Drama. Religion.
Other Details: Hardback. 342 pages.
It's the winter of1860 when Richard Allen, a young curate, travels to a small hamlet outside Hereford to take up his first position. It's in this quiet place of wind and trees, birds and water that Richard is to fall passionately in love - but he cannot find fulfilment, for his lover is Susannah Beddoes, the wife of the vicar of his new parish. As Richard's feelings challenge him to his core, he develops a strange relationship with another woman, the solitary and eccentric Edith Clare. Against the backdrop of immense social and industrial change, the consequences of Richard and Susannah's affair are dramatic as they - as well as Oliver Beddoes - grapple with doubt and what it means to lose faith when the great certainties are in question. And throughout it all, the crossing-keeper's daughter Alice Birley - an observer of incidents and events she does not fully understand - has her own part to play... - synopsis from UK publisher's website.
I found this a beautifully written story about a young curate and his forbidden love for the wife of his senior colleague. In it Susan Gee does not bow to modern sensibilities but examines what such a love would mean to these individuals and the environment in which they live. I read it in a single day as it was due to be discussed at a reading group meeting though I rather wish that I had given myself more time to appreciate its graceful pace.
Sue Gee evokes her rural setting and the passing of the seasons in the early 1860s with great skill. There are also musings about religion as Richard comes to address his faith. Of course the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of the Species the previous year is making its impact, though it is only one aspect of his questioning.
Another reviewer on Goodreads remarked on its feminist themes, which are certainly present though understated. At one point Susannah says to Richard: "sometimes I have thought I can hardly bear to be a woman.". When he protests she continues: "I am a woman - I must do nothing. Women must suffer, women must wait, women must follow, must be quiet and good, must never say what we feel". A powerful sentiment, which is reflected by the lack of power experienced by a number of women in the novel.
I found it a bitter sweet story though I am glad it was selected for the group as I would never have picked it up otherwise. However, I seemed to be alone in enjoying it as it wasn't to the taste of my fellow reading group members who complained about its slow pace and literary style. I offered my opinion that Susan Gee was seeking to evoke the atmosphere of Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford, a novel that is mentioned favourably by Susannah in the narrative.
Though I read Robert Parker's Early Autumn at the beginning of October, the title does not refer to a season of the year but to the potential waste of a young man's life. The main character is Spenser, a private detective in Boston, who solves cases with the help of his tough-guy buddy Hawk and his long-suffering girlfriend Susan. In this book a woman hires Spenser to look for her missing teenage son, and she suspects that he has been taken by his non-custodial father. Spenser finds the young man fairly easily and returns him to his mother, but he quickly realizes that neither parent is especially interested in the boy's welfare beyond seeing him as a possession and a tool to be used to hurt the other in the aftermath of their separation.
Spenser takes the boy to Maine in order to get him away from their toxic struggle, at first with the mother's consent and layer against her wishes. While in Maine they build a cabin and do other guy stuff, and Spenser tries to learn about the boy's interests but discovers instead that he's completely adrift in life. Neither parent ever encouraged him to pursue any particular talent or hobby, or in fact to develop any life skills that would help him become a fulfilled and responsible adult. So he takes the boy under his wing and meanwhile looks for a way to help him in the long term by lessening the influence of his irresponsible mother and possibly criminal father.
This book certainly has several elements of a traditional crime story but is also a little bit of a change of pace from the more conventional whodunit mystery. I read another Parker/Spenser book many years ago, but I'm more familiar with the Spenser of the 1980s TV show (RIP Robert Urich). In any case I enjoyed seeing this renaissance man, nurturing side of him. Though part of a series this book can also be read in its own.
[ETA: Book 35 turned out to be part of a series. I'll post an entry about the series as a whole once I finish it.]
- Current Location:US, District of Columbia, Washington, 1st Ave, 11
Book #63: The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
Number of pages: 226
Kevin Powers' book is a gritty and harrowing novel set around the Iraq conflict.
Central to the book is the relationship between Privates John Bartles and Daniel "Murph" Murphy. We learn very early on, however, that Murph has been killed and the book focusses largely on the effects on John of his loss. The story is told from John's point of view in a memoir-like style, and vividly describes the conflict that takes place around him, as well as telling of how he was asked by Murph's mother to keep her son safe.
The story is not told in a linear style, and it jumps back and forth in the timeline; however, the beginning of each chapter indicates where the reader is in the chain of events. So, one moment, John will be talking about losing Murph, and then there will be a chapter about him and Murph both fighting in the war, and then there will be a chapter set after his return from the conflict. One of the most profound an enjoyable and profound moments was the depiction of his arrival home, and his descripton of how he goes up to his bedroom, slowly undresses and then puts his dog tags back on and stands looking at himself in the mirror. I noticed also that when senior officers are mentioned, they seem to come across as uncaring and unpleasant.
The dialogue is very descriptive about John's feelings throughout, including his friendship with Murphy, and both characters are easy to care about very quickly. Amongst the depictions of events, there are several moments where the narrator talks at length about his thoughts about what has happened, while the narrative slowly builds towards the moment when Murph was killed.
Overall, I loved this book; it wasn't particularly long, but I found it to be incredibly thought-provoking as a depiction of modern warfare and its effects on individuals, plus the struggle to overcome the loss of a friend.
Next book: A Good Parcel of English Soil (Richard Mabey)
- Current Location:My Flat
- Current Mood: moody
- Current Music:The Stone Roses, "Good Times"
Following the events of The Last Colony, John Scalzi tells the story of the fight to maintain the unity of the human race.
The people of Earth now know that the human Colonial Union has kept them ignorant of the dangerous universe around them. For generations the CU had defended humanity against hostile aliens, deliberately keeping Earth an ignorant backwater and a source of military recruits. Now the CU’s secrets are known to all. Other alien races have come on the scene and formed a new alliance—an alliance against the Colonial Union. And they’ve invited the people of Earth to join them. For a shaken and betrayed Earth, the choice isn't obvious or easy.
Against such possibilities, managing the survival of the Colonial Union won’t be easy, either. It will take diplomatic finesse, political cunning…and a brilliant “B Team,” centered on the resourceful Lieutenant Harry Wilson, that can be deployed to deal with the unpredictable and unexpected things the universe throws at you when you’re struggling to preserve the unity of the human race.
Being published online from January to April 2013 as a three-month digital serial, The Human Division will appear as a full-length novel of the Old Man’s War universe, plus—for the first time in print—the first tale of Lieutenant Harry Wilson, and a coda that wasn’t part of the digital serialization.
This is so far into the series that it's difficult to say anything without it being a spoiler. Suffice to say, this is another solid volume in a fantastic science fiction story. Scalzi writes deep political intrigue with aliens and humans, with humans often as the most villainous at all... though in this book, that's not quite clear anymore. There's another enemy lurking in the shadows and the ending leaves the issue as a frustrating mystery.
I really enjoy Scalzi's dialogue--he does great banter--though I have noticed that many of his characters sound alike. They engage in the same kind of banter. This stood out to me when I read his stand-alone humorous Redshirts as well. It makes things a little confusing at times, but if that's the worst fault I can find in his writing, he's doing pretty well.
There were two standout sections of the book. The first involves churros. I wondered why Scalzi and churros have been linked since the book came out; now I understand. The other part involves a brain in a box, and it is so beautifully written that the end actually brought tears to my eyes.
This is a series I'll continue to read.
- Current Mood: thoughtful
A historical novel about Henry II and his contemporaries: Eleanor of Aquitaine, Empress Matilda, King Stephen, King Louis VII and others. I have enjoyed it as, I believe, anybody who likes Sharon Kay Penman, Philippa Gregory etc, would. The afterword surprised me a bit in that I don't think I have noticed the things the author apparently wanted me to notice, but oh well...
#69 Max Frei: Chronicles of Echo Vol. 1-4
The book is something of a phenomenon in Russia and I was happy to finally see it on Kindle. Mine was in Russian, but an English translation is available. But unfortunately I am not all the impressed. It is pleasant, there are some nice ideas, but I mostly feel frustration that that potential has not been fulfilled.
#70 Cynthia Harrod-Eagles: Dynasty 12: The Victory
Continuing with the story of the Morland family. I really like that saga and I become so attached to the characters. One thing, though, which becomes increasingly more noticeable is that all the really strong characters are women, and they are also the ones who stick in memory.