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January 15th, 2013

Book 9: Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs

Book 9: Bones are Forever (Tempe Brennan #15).
Author: Kathy Reichs, 2012.
Genre: Forensic Crime Fiction.
Other Details: Hardback. 296 pages.

A young woman turns up at a Montreal hospital seeking treatment. When her doctor sees evidence of a recent birth, the authorities are contacted though the woman disappears. Then the police find bloody towels discarded outside the woman's given address and Brennan in her role as forensic anthropologist to the province of Quebec is called to the scene. There she makes the horrific discovery of a recently dead newborn and the decomposed bodies of two other infants. Her autopsies reveal the babies died of unnatural causes and the hunt is on for the young woman, who has a number of aliases.

Tempe is teamed with her former lover homicide detective Andrew Ryan and Ollie Hasty of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a man she had been briefly involved with years previously. The trio travel to Edmonton and later Yellowknife, a remote diamond mining community in the Northwest Territories in search of the truth. There they encounter more secrets, more bodies and naturally mortal danger.

I've been reading the Temperance Brennan series from its inception and always look forward to the next as an annual treat.This was another exciting case for Brennan. It proved a quick read though the subject matter of infanticide is quite disturbing. As always there is a wealth of forensic material as befits Reichs' real life profession as a forensic anthropologist and a nice balance between the case and ongoing character arcs.
Sandman, vol. 9: The Kindly Ones and vol. 10: The Wake, by Neil Gaiman (reread)
Just perfect. Drenched in meaning.
(248, 249)

I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov, read by Scott Brick (reread, audiobook)
So many good memories of reading Asimov came flooding back with this one... clunky, but brilliant. Brick's not my favorite reader, but he did well with this one.
(250)

Angels and Insects, by A. S. Byatt, read by Nadia May (audiobook)
Nadia May is a brilliant reader, but I don't think I'll be listening to Byatt on audiobook again. I found myself zoning out during the long complicated parts... a feature of many audiobooks, but a bug for these, since the long complicated parts of Byatt are my favorites.
(251)

Canadian Pie, by Will Ferguson
Delightful collection of miscellaneous essays, columns, book introductions, etc. I enjoyed the longer, more in-depth pieces way more than the short breezy ones... but some of the short breezy ones were written for the small-town paper I read growing up, so they had their own charms.
(252)

I Am An Islander, by Patrick Ledwell
These were all short and breezy. They were extremely fun. Also, they made me homesick.
(253)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus, vol. 6, by Scott Allie et al
This was.... really good, actually. Not sure if it was the result of existing artists/writers hitting their stride at long last, or if there was a different creative team... but I hugely enjoyed it.
(254)

American Dervish, by Ayad Akhtar
A brilliant and moving small novel about one boy's coming-of-age. The secondary characters were more finely drawn than one normally expects from even the best of these, and I was totally absorbed in the story while I read.
(255)

Smokin' Seventeen, by Janet Evanovich
This was so forgettable I forgot all about it! I have no idea when I read this, but it was definitely sometime last year.... I went to read it this week and realized everything was incredibly familiar. Whoops. (Yes, I will still be reading the next one.)
(256)

Book #4: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde



The Eyre Affair is the first in a series of bizarre novels starring Thursday Next (the first I read was the second book, Something Rotten because I saw it in a shop and it sounded interesting). The plot opens with the theft of the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit by the villain Acheron Hades. Thursday is working with SpecOps, and is tasked with retrieving it. The whole story takes place in an alternate version of 1985, where Thursday has recently served in the Crimean War, and dodos still exist, as well as other odd stuff, mostly the ideas of fiction leaking out into reality (similar to some of the concepts in the last book I read, Terry Pratchett's Moving Pictures). Thursday also has constant dreams about Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre (who she apparently met once), and there is a subplot involving a character trapped inside a poem.

[Huge plot spoilers behind the cut]

Soon after, Hades is apparently killed, only his death was faked, and everyone is in denial about it to Thursday. Hades' true mission is eventually revealed as wanting to wipe out literary characters, which he evidently does by stepping through a portal into the books themselves. Hades' plot then turns to stealing to original Jane Eyre manuscript and attempting to kill off one of the characters; this somehow leads to some bizarre time dilation effect that causes time to slow down in one area of Britain.

The climatic chapters of the book involve Thursday Next entering Jane Eyre to stop Hades; the conceit here is that the whole story was originally very anticlimatic and did not involve Rochester's house burning down, and the fire is caused by the actions of Hades and Thursday after the enter the book; as a result, this changes the book permanently, but it is well-received by the public.



I wasn't entirely sure about this at first, and there was a bit of a sag in the middle where Thursday was shown constantly berating her friends for letting her down, but it eventually picks up, and the book is written with a lot of humour, although it also has some points where it gets very serious. The other gripe I had was that, although it was all written from Thursday's point of view, it suddenly broke into third person narrative describing events where she did not seem to be present.

The main thing I loved about this were all the literary references, including a character called "Millon de Floss" (that doesn't need an explanation), and lots of familiar quotations (Shakespeare and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland for example); there is a brilliant moment involving Poe's The Raven.

This book isn't a particularly easy one to read, and often you will need to pay attention to what is going on, which can be difficult as the narrative sometimes goes off on tangents. However, I utlimately found this to be a satisfying read and hope to read more of Jasper Fforde's novels.

Next book: The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

#6

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

This book reminds me of some of the hardhips endured by mothers and aunts in some of Amy Tan's books, but with much more detail and sadness. The story is of two girls matched at age 7 as life long laotong - a relationship of friendship and love deeper than that of husband and wife. This book wasn't too bad but it wasn't my favorite. I say 3 out of 5 stars.

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