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Book #15

15. Three in Death by J.D. Robb (a.k.a. Nora Roberts), 355 pages, Mystery, 2008 (In Death, Book 7.5, 12.5, 22.5).

Three of the novellas, compiled in one volume! Lovely, and would have been even better if read in order with the full-length In Death novels (and quite a bit better if they had been in order in this volume).

(1) Interlude in Death (Book #12.5). Eve, Roarke, and the rest of the crew are at a police seminar on Roarke’s off-world resort, Olympus. A retired officer, a legend, has decided that Roarke needs to be taken down, and Eve is guilty by association. Things get really sticky when one of the legend’s bodyguards ends up dead in a stairwell. While her colleagues have no jurisdiction, they are invited to help before the Interplanetary Police have to take over.

(2) Midnight in Death (Book #7.5). A serial killer that Dallas had put away years ago has escaped, and on Christmas starts killing off those who put him behind bars, with Eve viewed as his endgame. There’s a lot packed into this story, especially some lovely early insight into Eve’s view of Dr. Mira. But I’m a little surprised that the events of this story aren’t mentioned more in the novels; it seems like a fairly transformative event.

(3) Haunted in Death (Book #22.5). The dead man is the descendant of the original owner of the property he died in – considered to be haunted by the musician he supposedly killed back in the 1970s. And there are plenty of spooky happenings that have both Peabody and Roarke in the believer’s camp. But Eve is having none of it, and sets about to solving not only her current murder, but also the murder of the young lady long gone.


book 58

ソウルイーター 8ソウルイーター 8 by Atsushi Ohkubo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's been a while since i picked up this series forsome reason. This one is split between Black Star's battle with mifune, the return of Medusa in the creepiest way possible and her attempts to recruit Crona back into the fold and Kid and the sisters trying to retreive a demon tool.

There is plenty of action mixed with plot. i enjoyed the interlude with Stein's training session. however this is one time i find the art odd. i preferred the anime art.

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Book 129: The Uninvited by Liz Jensen

Book 129: The Uninvited .
Author: Liz Jensen, 2012.
Genre: Science Fiction/Horror. Psychological Thriller. Folklore.
Other Details: Paperback. 307 pages.

A seven-year-old girl puts a nail-gun to her grandmother's neck and fires. An isolated incident, say the experts. The experts are wrong. Across the world, children are killing their families. Is violence contagious? As chilling murders by children grip the country, anthropologist Hesketh Lock has his own mystery to solve: a bizarre scandal in the Taiwan timber industry. Hesketh has never been good at relationships: Asperger's Syndrome has seen to that. But he does have a talent for spotting behavioural patterns, and an outsider's fascination with group dynamics.

Nothing obvious connects Hesketh's Southeast Asian case with the atrocities back home. Or with the increasingly odd behaviour of his beloved step-son, Freddy. But when Hesketh's Taiwan contact dies shockingly and more acts of sabotage and child violence sweep the globe, he is forced to acknowledge possibilities that defy the rational principles on which he has staked his life, his career and, most devastatingly of all, his role as a father.
- synopsis from UK publisher's website.

This proved to be a very unsettling story in which a series of seemingly unrelated acts of sabotage coupled with attacks on adults by pre-teen children herald a melt-down of civilisation. The narrator Hesketh seeks an answer to why this might be happening now while dealing with personal issues linked to his former girlfriend and her son.

Like her previous work, The Rapture, Jensen explores the concept of a coming apocalypse. Hesketh's Asperger's Syndrome made him a very interesting narrator; already an outsider he is able to appreciate the differences and similarities in various cultures making him a useful trouble-shooter and able to piece together events dispassionately.

I found this a very compelling tale with a very disturbing premise in terms of the strangeness of the children. I appreciated the way that the folklore of various countries was integrated into the plot. Jensen did not leave her readers wondering but provided an intriguing reason for the events. I enjoyed it very much.

Jun. 30th, 2014

While eating lunch, yesterday, I finished reading an ARC of an upcoming David Weber novel, A Call to Duty. Set in the Honor Harrington Universe, long before the birth of said protagonist, it deals with the early years of the Manticorian space fleet, and its response to piracy. I thought it was a very good read. I look forward to more books following this one's path.

Late last night, before falling asleep, I finished reading another graphic novel, this one being Before Watchmen: Comedian * Rorschach. I didn't find this one as interesting; in fact I found the portions devoted to The Comedian downright uncomfortable, but one could argue that this was in character for these two. In any case, this book continues the theme of looking at the origins of the Watchmen saga.

Books #25-26

Book #25 was "Artemis Fowl" by Eoin Colfer, as an audiobook. I didn't know much about this book before I listened to the audiobook except that it was a young adult novel with fantastic elements and involving a world-traveling genius of some kind, and that several people I know raved about this book and the entire series. I did find this book to be a lot of fun and found myself chuckling at several points. It has some juvenile potty humor in it but it's very entertaining. Artemis Fowl is a preadolescent super-genius criminal mastermind who has designs of restoring his family's fortune through contact with the fairy folk. I won't give too many other details because they'd be spoilers, but I do like the unique society and mythology the author sets up for magical creatures. I liked the reader for the audiobook a great deal as well.

Book #26 was "The Best of All Possible Worlds" by Karen Lord. I read her first novel, "Redemption in Indigo," a year or two ago, and while I liked it, it wasn't what I expected. I had expected a novel influenced by African folktales, and instead, it really was a novel-length folk tale, told in the traditional style. This book is actually much more up my alley - a (mostly) hard science fiction tale with some folk tales woven through it. It's told from the viewpoint of Grace Delarua, a science officer who is helping an anthropological survey for the "Sadiri," a branch of evolved humans with psi abilities, whose population has nearly been wiped out in a disaster. The book reminded me a bit of the show "Stargate S-G 1" in the way that they explore different cultures in each section of the book, many of them influenced by old earth cultures. The science - particularly around multiple universes and time travel - is solid, as Lord has a background in physics. There's also a strong romantic thread in the book that was handled subtly and well. I enjoyed this very much and recommend it highly.

The other books I've read so far this year:Collapse )

Books 20-24

20. Darius and Twig, by Walter Dean Myers. Another excellent book by Myers. Darius and Twig are best friends living in Harlem. Twig, generally the more assured of the two, seems to have his path clear for him; as a talented mid-distance runner, he seems guaranteed to get a scholarship for college. Darius, a talented writer, isn't as sure of his path. He longs to be a writer but finds more roadblocks in his path (I love the subtle commentary here; Myers is excellent at the writer's credo of show, don't tell). they work to maintain their friendship through growing up, facing their insecurities and living their own dreams. Myers does a wonderful job fleshing out the main characters. The situations are so real and believable. Even the school bully is sympathetic. I recommend this for preteens and teens.

21. On Writing, by Stephen King. This one has been on my want-to-read list for years. I can see why it is so highly recommended by writers. King keeps his advice succinct, and he relates it as only he can- with his humor and no-punches-pulled style. This book is just fun to read on its own, and offers a lot of insight into King himself - his struggles with writing and working with publishers, his family life, his struggle with alcohol addiction and even the horrific accident that nearly killed him. King follows his own advice in show, don't tell, and even the sections that aren't obviously a lesson are still lessons in good storytelling. Can't get better than this- an entertaining read that also offers solid advice on the craft of writing.

22. The Killer of Little Shepherds, by Douglas Starr. Anyone interested in true crime stories and forensics should read this. Part of the story follows Joseph Vacher, who was compared to Jack The Ripper. When finally caught and put on trial, Vacher would confess to killing 11 people - mostly preteen and teenage boys and girls, several of them shepherds (hence his nickname used in the title). He may have been responsible for more than double that number. The book also tells the equally fascinating story of Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne, one of the fathers of forensic scientists and one of the most respected forensics experts in France. Many of his observations and discoveries are still used today (for example, identifying a gun used in a crime by the grooves on the bullet). The research and list of sources is extensive, but Starr keeps the book highly readable. I really like the sidenotes on the comparisons with Sherlock Holmes, which was contemporary for that time. I kept thinking Sherlock Holmes when Lacassagne was described. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did not model Holmes after Lacassagne, but there are some similarities- and many differences. It was neat reading the commentary from Lacassagne and other forensics experts on Holmes; it's much like the opinions of today's investigators on the CSI shows and similar fare. Interesting, and nice exposure to the latest scientific developments, but too deus ex machina and too quick. Much was made, for example, how Holmes never conducted an autopsy.

23. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. My only regret reading this book is waiting so long to pick it up. This is hilarious, full of droll humor and hilarious observations. A lot of memes and geek in-jokes are more clear, too. In the book, Arthur Dent is saved from being part of Earth's annihilation by his longtime friend Ford Prefect, who just happens to be an alien. Their adventures include meeting with a whole bevy of quirky characters, such as a depressed robot and an annoyingly helpful ship. It's hard to do a review without giving away too many spoilers, but as I said, this book is a lot of fun.

24. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou. An incredible book, about Maya's childhood and teen years in Stamps, Arkansas and, later, San Fransisco. Angelou just has this way of writing that is both sheer poetry and searingly blunt at the same time. She and her brother bailey were raised by their grandmother in Stamps for most of their childhood, before moving to live with their mother. She describes her life in a deeply segregated and often impoverished time, looking at both the issues affecting the nation as well as the issues of growing up. Angelou describes trying to find her place in the world, when she sees herself as not really fitting in anywhere. She relates her rape by a much older man as a child, one of the most heartbreaking sections. She describes how books and the written word slowly brought her back into the world. A beautiful and honest memoir from an incredible woman.

Currently reading: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, and Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut.
Book 127: Northanger Abbey.
Author: Jane Austen, 1818. Introduction by Val McDermid, 2014.
Genre: Classic. Comedy-of-Manners. Gothic Novel. Satire.
Other Details: Hardback. 289 pages.

Considered the most light-hearted and satirical of Austen’s novels, Northanger Abbey tells the story of an unlikely young heroine Catherine Morland. While staying in Bath, Catherine meets Henry Tilney and his sister Eleanor who invite her to their family estate, Northanger Abbey. A fan of Gothic Romance novels, naive Catherine is soon letting her imagination run wild in the atmospheric abbey. A coming-of-age novel, Austen expertly parodies the Gothic romance novels of her time and reveals much about her unsentimental view of love and marriage in the eighteenth century. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.

As I had not read Northanger Abbey previously I decided it was a good idea to read it before reading Val McDermid's re-imagining for The Austen Project. I was surprised at the amount of comedy in it as well as the clear satire of the popularity of Gothic novels with young ladies. Austen also often breaks the fourth wall by addressing her reader and advising them of the choices she is making for her heroine. It seems a novel very ripe for updating given the current trend in YA paranormal romance to replace the Gothic novels that enthral Catherine. I did not quite feel the love story was as powerful as in other of Austen's novels though this perked up towards the end. Very glad that I finally read this.

Book 128: Northanger Abbey (The Austen Project #2).
Author: Val McDermid, 2014.
Genre: Chick-lit. Comedy-of-Manners. Gothic Novel. Satire.
Other Details: Hardback. 343 pages.

Seventeen-year-old Catherine ‘Cat’ Morland has led a sheltered existence in rural Dorset, a life entirely bereft of the romance and excitement for which she yearns. So when Cat’s wealthy neighbours, the Allens, invite her to the Edinburgh Festival, she is sure adventure beckons .... - teaser from The Austen Project website.

Bravo Val McDermid! Having just completed reading Jane Austen's original Northanger Abbey I felt that this contemporary re-imagining was a very faithful adaptation; certainly with changes but keeping with the feel of the original.

Val McDermid does a sterling job of re-imagining Northanger Abbey as a contemporary coming-of-age story. She keeps all the same characters: the shopaholic Susie Allen, Cat's new friend Bella Thorpe, who shares her passion for supernatural novels; Bella's obnoxious brother John, who switches the open carriage of the original for a flashy sports car; Cat's own brother James and of course, Henry Tilney, his sweet natured sister, Eleanor and their rigidly formal father, General Tilney, updated to a Falklands hero. Edinburgh takes the place of Bath and Northanger Abbey is now moved to the Scottish Borders.

The text was peppered with popular culture and moving the action from Bath to Edinburgh for the annual festival made sense. Having both novels side by side made it clear that Ms. McDermid had mirrored the original chapter-by-chapter. Overall, I felt she did a better job than Joanne Trollope did with Sense and Sensibility though to be fair that is one of Austen's most famous works whereas Northanger Abbey is less well known and regarded. The subject matter being satirised is ripe for updaing with the current popularity for paranormal romances. So Cat's fantasies about Twilight and sparkly vampires fits well. In addition, Henry came much more alive on these pages than I felt he did in the original. It made the romance between he and Cat feel more vital.

In conclusion I agree wholeheartedly with J. K. Rowling who wrote: "'Val McDermid’s brilliant re-working of Jane Austen’s original shows that innocent, bookish girls in thrall to the supernatural have changed surprisingly little in two centuries. Witty and shrewd, full of romance and skulduggery – I loved it." I did too.

The Austen Project website.

Jun. 27th, 2014

So, a bunch of years ago, hendel pressed me to read Watchmen, a graphic novel. I enjoyed it very much at the time, and I think it's held up pretty well.

Then, a few years ago, DC Comics started several series of comics all under the heading of Before Watchmen, giving some origin material that fit into that world depicted in the original. I was interested, but with so many titles all at once, I decided to wait for the graphic novel publication. Later, I chose to wait for them in paperback.

So, they're starting to flood out now, and I read Before Watchmen: Minutemen * Silk Spectre, which dealt with the history of the early team of do-gooders, and then the beginning of the costume heroine. Even though the authors are different from those of Watchmen, I think that they pegged the feel of the original, and I found the work engaging. At this point there are three more graphic novels in the set; I don't actually know how many there will be, but I'm reading 'em.


book 57

Naked in Death (In Death, #1)Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So glad i started mid series because if Started with book one I’d never have read another. I like Roarke and Eve but hate them in this. I hated her unprofessionalism in sleeping with a suspect, don’t see why she wasn’t fired since everyone knew including the senator, and I hated Roarke’s Alpha male bullshit. Shutting her up with kisses, slamming her back into walls to take those kisses, telling her if he wanted her to sleep with him, she would be, those things aren’t romantic to me. It’s misogynistic and creepy. This is why I don’t read romances much. Thank god he isn’t like that in latter book or I’d never read this series.

The mystery was interesting however and the reason for the third star. A high class prostitute, grand daughter of the aforementioned senator is killed by a gun. Guns are long illegal but whores are legal. Roarke was out with her so he’s an instant suspect and almost the only one for most of the book even as more prostitutes are killed.

Sadly this is more romance than mystery. I do like the later books and I’m glad I read book one even if didn’t like it.

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While it’s inevitable that all of us will traumatize our children, even the most committed parents have lacked guidance in doing so deliberately and effectively. Don’t leave your most important job to instinct and gut reactions—whether you want to traumatize your children with the same techniques your parents used or you prefer to choose an entirely new approach, this book will show you the way!

The full title of this is "How to Traumatize Your Children: 7 Proven Methods to Help You Screw Up Your Kids Deliberately and with Skill." It's a gag gift book to give to people with a very certain snarky sense of humor. At 144 pocket-sized pages, it's a fast read. My reaction to it is mixed. It's very much my sense of humor, but at the time, the joke felt like it got old fast. It's a concept that, for me, feels like it would be stronger as an essay rather than an entire book.


Girl Genius, the multiple Hugo Award–winning steampunk webcomic by Phil and Kaja Foglio, now collected in hardcover! The Industrial Revolution has become all-out war! Mad Scientists, gifted with the Spark of genius, unleash insane inventions on an unprepared Europe. For centuries, the Heterodyne family of inventors kept the peace, but the last Heterodyne disappeared twenty years ago, leaving their ally Baron Klaus Wulfenbach to maintain order with his fleet of airships and army of unstoppable, if not very bright, Jaeger Monsters.

At Transylvania Polygnostic University, Agatha Clay dreams of being a scientist herself, but her trouble concentrating dooms her to be a lowly minion at best. When her locket, a family heirloom, is stolen, Agatha shows signs of having the Spark in a spectacular, destructive fashion and captures the attention of the Baron—and the Baron’s handsome young son, Gilgamesh. Swept up to the Baron's Airship City, Agatha finds herself in the midst of the greatest minds of her generation, as well as palace intrigue, dashing heroes, and an imperial cat. Agatha may be the most brilliant mind of her generation and the key to control of the continent, but first, she just has to survive.

I've heard wonderful things about this web comic series for years. It's pure steampunk: airships galore, crazy inventions, monstrosities of science, mad scientists and more.

I struggled at the start of the book because many new elements of world-building were thrown my way and things weren't explained quickly. It was really at the 2/3 point that I really got into it and found myself cheering for Agatha and the rest of the cast.

Book #5: Wuthering Heights

Oof. OOF. What to say about this one.

My book club chose this book because it was one of our members' favorite classics, and we all wanted to read more classics. And I have to say, this book was not at all what I thought it was, but it was also absolutely, out-of-the-blue fantastic! For some reason (probably because of this great Puppini Sisters cover), I thought it was a romance/satire, along the lines of Austen. Not, in fact, true at all.

I think this is such a curious work of fiction because it's really hard to nail down a genre. I'm not sure if it's a romance, a tragedy, gothic, romantic ... I was engrossed, and blown away by the ending because I had no idea where Bronte was going. I can't think of one similar work. And I loved that.

I love to read (relatively) early novels. I can't imagine this book being written now, because of the unique way the plot is told by the housekeeper. Nelly Dean straddles the line between an active character in the tale, and a narrator. She definitely has her bias (which is actively questioned by Mr. Lockwood), but she still remains a passive voice in the story.

I think this resonated with me because I love stories where the characters aren't that like able. That's part of why I love Girls, and also part of why I can't watch it too faithfully.

Anyway, next up for book club is The Red Tree by Caitlin R. Kiernan. I've read it before, but I have a different impression every time.

Book #34: The X-Files Season 10, Issue #7

by Joe Harris, Elena Casagrande, Silvia Califano, Arianna Florean & Azzurra M. Florean

Number of pages: 22

Twenty years ago, an episode of The X-Files featured one of their most memorable (and bizarre) monsters ever, the "Flukeman", effectively a cross between a human and a fluke, created in the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.

The comic book series has created a sequel that replaces a single Flukeman with a whole army of them (kind of like Alien and Aliens, really), in a story entitled "Hosts". I missed Issue 6, and this issue contains only the second and final part of the story, but thankfully it wasn't hard to pick up.

The story opens with a flashback to Russia in 1986, which has some parallels with the opening of the original Flukeman story, before launching into a particularly gruesome attack sequence involving the mutant horde.

The second half of the story is particularly gritty, but also largely an expository section that partially explains the backstory, plus there is more gruesome and bizarre stuff to come. The plotline is particularly dark, more so even than most of what I ever saw on the TV show, and the story seems a bit cryptic since nothing is spelled out for the reader, so you might have to go back and re-read a few times as there are lots of things you can miss easily.

Suffice to say that, while this inevitably isn't up to the quality of the 1994 Flukeman story, this is a decent horror-based X-Files plot that manages not to just feel like a standard episode, and the last moment with Mulder and Scully is unsettling. As for the grand guignol ending, just remember that in the world of The X-Files, most people who are shown using a toilet meet with some very gruesome demises.

The other thing I liked about this issue was the artwork; I remember having mixed feelings about the previous artwork I had seen, which seemed a bit too dark and grainy; the pictures here are very detailed and capture the likenesses of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson very well; I am hoping that future issues I read will use the same artists.

Next book: Lorna Doone (R.D. Blackmore)
Book 126: Emperors Once More (Alex Soong #1).
Author: Duncan Jepson, 2014.
Genre: Crime Fiction. Police Procedural. Political Thriller. Speculative Fiction.
Other Details: Hardback. 408 pages.

Hong Kong, August 2017. On the eve of a crisis summit for world economic leaders, two Chinese Methodist ministers are killed in an apparently motiveless execution in Hong Kong’s financial district. Luck makes Detective Alex Soong one of the first officers at the scene. Yet Soong begins to suspect his involvement to be more than incidental, and the crime itself more than a senseless assassination: an instinct that is proven correct when Soong is contacted by a mysterious figure, and more massacres follow. With the eyes of the world’s media fixed on Hong Kong, Soong must race to intercept his tormentor, and thwart a conspiracy born from one of the bloodiest confrontations of China’s past, which now threatens to destroy a fragile world order. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.

This was a quite engaging thriller set in near future Hong Kong. I did enjoy it though I felt that it suffered at times from uneven pacing due to quite a lot of exposition about Chinese politics. Still, this was necessary in order to explain the motivations of the baddies to someone like myself who has little appreciation of Chinese history.

Pacing aside, certainly the last few chapters had me gripped and unable to put the book down as the plot came together. I am not quite sure why it was set in near future though this did allow for speculation about upcoming political and economic changes that could take place given present day economics.

Duncan Jepson is a Hong Kong based journalist and documentary film-maker. This is his first venture into crime fiction and it appears he has woven into it his interests about the meeting of cultures in Hong Kong as well as its history. This is meant to be the start of a new series and I will be keeping an eye out for further novels in the series.

Favorite Slayers Handbook

Lay the Favorite, by Beth Raymer
I really liked this book. Partly because it's a very well-told story, but also because a lot of it takes place in Vegas at the beginning of the 2000s, which is the time I used to visit it the most, because one of our best friends lived there. I kept expecting him to turn up in one of her stories :D. I liked it so much I'm now watching the movie, which is mostly not nearly as good except that her youth and goofiness and naivete comes across more clearly than it did in the book. And also, you know, Bruce Willis. I <3 Bruce Willis.

The Diary of Mattie Spencer, by Sandra Dallas
This was a very compelling read, hard to put down, but it rang a bit hollow for me - I kept having the experience I'm used to from reading REAL diaries and travelogues, thinking "OOH, I know where that is, neat to read about it in the past.... ohwait. Right. Novel." And also I felt that a lot of the sad things near the end of the book were clearly telegraphed at the beginning, to the point where I just sort of spent the whole book in dread of their eventual unveiling. And yet, I did like it. Just not as much as I hoped I might.

Handbook for Dragon Slayers, by Merrie Haskell
I started out a little wary of this one - it's hard to read books of people you already know(ish) and think highly of - but I LOVED IT. The set-up was maybe a bit slow, but not in a bad way, just in a not-quite-revealing-how-incredibly-in-love-with-the-book I would soon become. And as for the meat of the book, well! I loved the characters. I liked their flaws. I *really* appreciated that the heroine has a bum leg, given my own sometimes-bum-leg - it was amazing to read a tween adventure story that articulated that so well. It articulated A LOT of stuff really well. So well that I am singularly NOT articulate, trying to describe it. Reduced to arm-flapping-so-fun-best-middle-grade-novel-I've-read-in-ages expostulations, I am! Also I am bolstered.

Book #33: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

Number of pages: 282

In this Narnia book, the fifth in the chronological order, but the third in order of writing, Lucy and Edmund are sent to stay with their obnoxious cousin Eustace (he and his mother almost seem like the original version of the Dursleys from the Harry Potter series).

Eustace has heard about his cousins' fascination about Narnia, and mocks them for it as he thinks it is all make-believe (there are definite parallels with Edmund's behaviour towards Lucy at the start of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Not long into the book, the three children are whisked into Narnia, this time through a picture that appears to portray a Narnian ship. They are promptly picked up by the crew of the Dawn Treader, captained by Caspian, now older and also king of Narnia (although it is not mentioned explicitly, the age difference can be explained by the fact that time in Narnia runs faster than in the real world).

This sets the scene for a sea-bound adventure that feels very episodic in nature, as the story tells of what happens on each island that the travellers arrive on. The McGuffin that sets all things in motion in this case is that Caspian is searching for the lost seven lords of Narnia. Just about every adventure they have leads to the discovery of one of the lords (the exception being a section of the book involving the invisible Dufflepuds). I also noticed that Aslan doesn't appear much, but nevertheless becomes increasingly present as the book moves towards his conclusion.

I remember at times this book felt like it was aimed at a slightly older audience than some of the previous books in the series, particularly the plot revolving around characters being sold for slavery and a lot of conversations between the grown up characters that as I recall probably caused me to abandon reading the book out of boredom when I was young. I think what prompted me to read the book in its entirety as a kid was seeing the BBC's 1989 adaptation of the book, in a four-part serial that followed immediately on from their dramatization of Prince Caspian. Reading it again, I spotted a few things I didn't notice when I was younger, particularly Caspian wondering why they couldn't cross into "their world" (this becomes relevant at the end of the subsequent book, The Silver Chair.

There are a couple of chapters near the start that feel a little tedious, but the book becomes increasingly compelling after about a quarter of the way in. I liked the fact that Reepicheep came back, as a crew member on the Dawn Treader, and got a bigger part than in the previous book. Eustace is initially portrayed as the absolutely vile and dislikeable character, and this is expressed most vividly through his diary entries that come across as constantly narcissistic and self-pitying. However, eventually I found myself liking Eustace, mostly through a particular chapter...

Eustace is turned into a dragon by a magic curse, and slowly begins to realise that the other characters don't hate him; he also has the task of proving who he is, before Aslan turns him back into a boy.

I remember I was surprised by the way it was written; in the BBC adaptation (presumably because it looked better dramatically0, Aslan was seen appearing before the dragon and peeling away his scales to reveal Eustace underneath; in the book, Eustace appears as a boy again to Edmund, and tells him the story in the form of a flashback. The whole chapter feels like a figurative absolving of sins, adding to the fact that Aslan represents Jesus.

Overall, I enjoyed the fact that I can now understand more of the religious symbolism of the book, and there are definite recurrent themes of gold, greed and even covetousness as various characters struggle with different temptations. "Aslan's country", mentioned several times, is clearly a metaphor for Heaven, or the New Creation. The other thing I enjoyed a lot was how vividly the sea near to the end of the world was described, in a style reminiscent of Jules Verne.

This made for an immensely satisfying read, and this is one of my favourites in the series.

Next book: The X-Files Season 10, Issue #7 (Joe Harris, Elena Casagrande, Silvia Califano, Arianna Florean, Azzura M. Florean)
Book 125: Dog Will Have His Day (Three Evangelists #2).
Author: Fred Vargas, 1996. Translated from the French by Sian Reynolds, 2014.
Genre: Crime Fiction. Mystery.
Other Details: Hardback. 244 pages.

How do you solve a murder without a body? Keeping watch under the windows of the Paris flat belonging to a politician's nephew, ex-special investigator Louis Kehlweiler catches sight of something odd on the pavement. A tiny piece of bone. Human bone, in fact. When Kehlweiler takes his find to the nearest police station, he faces ridicule. Obsessed by the fragment, he follows the trail to the tiny Breton fishing village of Port-Nicolas – in search of a dog. But when he recruits ‘evangelists’ Marc and Mathias to help, they find themselves facing even bigger game. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.

While I didn't find this quite as compelling a read as The Three Evangelists, it still bore the hallmarks of Vargas' eccentric crime fiction in terms of characters and plot.

I did wonder how on earth the finding of a human toe bone in a pile of dog poop on a Paris pavement could possibly lead to a murder investigation but the dedication to detail of the lead character (not one of the three historians but a friend of the older uncle) did come through. Of course, by the time Kehlweiler realises there is a bone, rain had washed away the excrement though in the early pages the origin of the bone allows for some humour. However, he has no idea which dog but has his watchers document the habits of dogs being walked and doing their business in that spot. It's a very unusual way of investigating a possible murder. Kehlweiler also quite charmingly has a pet toad named Buffo that he carries in his pocket.

Certainly this novel had a complex plot that by its end proved an intriguing and satisfactory mystery. I did also like the mention of Inspector Adamsberg though placing this 1996 novel in the chronology of her other works this appeared after her 1991 The Chalk Circle Man, which introduced Adamsberg, and before the Adamsberg series took off 1999-2011.

Jun. 23rd, 2014

Although I had a busy day working, yesterday, I had a few books that were near completion in my reading, and so I found time to finish.

First was another book set in the Honor Harrington Universe by David Weber; called Cauldron of Ghosts, it barely gives Harrington more than a walk-on and deals with the politics and revolution occuring on Mesa, an adversary planet to Harrington's Manticore. Very good read, possibly better than the last two or three in the saga.

Next was Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow, a story about a fictional attempt by the US Navy to frighten Japan into surrendering rather than forcing the Allies to invade near the end of WWII. In this, they use an actor from the old monster movies to wear a lizard costume and destroy a model Japanese city in front of Japanese envoys. I've read a number of novels by this author, and this is the best that I can recall. Nice twists and turns, he uses the history of Hollywood, the real history of the final months of the Pacific War, the realities of life in the US during rationing to give solid versimilitude to the story. Very good.

Lastly, I read Osprey Command #11: Hannibal, a short but informative book on the Carthaginian general. After listening to The History of Rome podcast, this filled in a few gaps in their coverage, but is necessarily incomplete due to the book's size. Not bad at all.
The hounds at our heels will soon know we are lions' Tamas's invasion of Kez ends in disaster when a Kez counter-offensive leaves him cut off behind enemy lines with only a fraction of his army, no supplies, and no hope of reinforcements. Drastically outnumbered and pursued by the enemy's best, he must lead his men on a reckless march through northern Kez to safety, and back over the mountains so that he can defend his country from an angry god. In Adro, Inspector Adamat only wants to rescue his wife. To do so he must track down and confront the evil Lord Vetas. He has questions for Vetas concerning his enigmatic master, but the answers might come too quickly. With Tamas and his powder cabal presumed dead, Taniel Two-shot finds himself alongside the god-chef Mihali as the last line of defence against Kresimir's advancing army. Tamas's generals bicker among themselves, the brigades lose ground every day beneath the Kez onslaught, and Kresimir wants the head of the man who shot him in the eye.

People often speak of the second book of a trilogy as the weakest. No worries about that here. McClellan has written a tense, dramatic read in a series that breathes new life into the epic fantasy genre. This is an almost 600-page book that zooms by and leaves you desperate for the next.

One of the major problems I have with GRRM's Song of Ice and Fire is that I care for only a few of the characters, but have to slog through the rest of the cast. The Powder Mage books feature characters who are complex and genuinely interesting. Plus, there's the gunpowder magic and how that changes the dynamics of a battle. This volume also delves more into the logics of running an army--the necessity of a supply train--in a way that reminds me of Elizabeth Moon's Paks series, which I greatly admire for those realistic details.

Books 90-98 for 2014

90. The Charing Cross Mystery by J.S. Fletcher. 203 pages.

A young barrister witnesses a man’s death on the underground and gets involved in the investigation which follows. Not sure the police would have let him get as involved as he does in the real world, but an entertaining read all the same.

91. Carbonel, The Prince of Cats by Barbara Sleigh. 152 pages.

Splendidly well-written children’s book about a girl and a witch’s cat. Quite a few authors of books for adults could learn a thing or two from Sleigh.

92. Beautiful Joe by Marshall Saunders. 186 pages.

Supposedly the autobiography of a dog, this is actually a tract about kindness to animals, inspired by Sewell’s Black Beauty. Not as good as that classic, but interesting, if only into the insight to the attitudes of the time and place it’s set in.

93. Skin Game by Jim Butcher. 403 pages.

Another slice of magic and mayhem with the inimitable Harry Dresden. As usual I can’t say much about the plot without flinging spoilers in all directions, but this is once again an immensely enjoyable book with plenty of twists and turns as our wisecracking wizard gets into enough hot water to provide baths for all the residents of Chicago….

94. The Ides of April by Lindsey Davis. 324 pages.

I was a huge fan of Davies’ Falco series, despite not liking the ending of the last one very much, so I was keen to try this, the first book about Falco’s adopted daughter, Flavia Albia. I liked it, but not as much as the Falco ones - it’s almost as though she’s trying to do the same series over again with a female protagonist, but not quite. And I guessed who the murderer was long before Albia got there, which I almost never did with the Falco books. Good enough that I’ll happily read more in the series though.

95. One Good Knight by Mercedes Lackey. 246 pages.

Second in the 500 Kingdoms series. Young Princess Andromeda is a bookworm and skilled researcher, but sadly unappreciated by her mother Queen Cassiopeia. And when her mother finally does put Andromeda’s skills to use the result is not at all what the Princess had hoped for - and looks set to cost her life….

Entertaining and engaging if nothing truly outstanding. The title is perhaps a touch misleading though - the eponymous knight is certainly important to the plot, but not the central figure by a long chalk.

96. A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs by Ellis Peters. 174 pages.

Fourth in the Felse family series, although it was the first of them I read originally and the one which inspired me to read the others. Still the best of them so far, I think.

An archaeological investigation into a tomb in a Cornish seaside town sets off a chain of events with fatal consequences.

97. Death in Ecstasy by Ngaio Marsh. 208 pages.

Fourth in the Inspector Alleyn series. This series is definitely improving as it goes on and this investigation of the death by poison of a follower of an offbeat religion is, as also the best in the series so far.

98. Manna from Hades by Carola Dunn. 247 pages.

First in a new series from the author of the Daisy Dalrymple books - this one is set in Cornwall in the 1960s and features an older protagonist, Eleanor Trewynn and her neice, DS Megan Pencarrow.

Didn’t grab me as quickly as the Daisy books, but pleasant enough that I’ll read the next in the series.

As a Pratchett fan, it amused me that Megan’s DI was named “Scumble” - he didn’t seem to be made of “mostly apples” though :).

Books 17 & 18 - 2013

Book 17: Awaken by Meg Cabot – 343 pages

Description from
Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera knew that by accepting the undying love of John Hayden she'd be forced to live forever in the one place she's always dreaded most: the Underworld. The sacrifice seemed worth it, but now her happiness and safety in the realm are threatened. The Furies have discovered that John has broken one of their strictest rules and revived a dead soul. If the balance of life and death isn't restored, both the Underworld and Pierce's home on Earth will be wiped out by the Furies' wrath. Pierce has already cheated death once ...can she do it again?

This is the final book in Meg Cabot’s Hades and Persephone retelling trilogy. It had a plot, I’ll give it that, but it felt pretty weak. There was some stuff involving the god Thantos (God of Death, if my memory of Greek mythology is okay), and Pierce’s cousin, and after all the angst of her stalker boyfriend, John Hayden, in the first book, Pierce seems quite okay with his behavior and happy to wander off into a happy ending with him. There is revenge on the horrible popular kids who bullied Pierce and her brother, and defeat of the Furies who have possessed various people throughout the series, namely Pierce’s grandmother. I really didn’t get much out of the series, which disappointed me, because I really love the Persephone and Hades myth and really wanted to like this trilogy, but it read like any other angsty teen novel with misdirection and confusion and silly arguments. Overall, I think Meg Cabot writes adult books much better than teen ones…or I’m just too old to appreciate teen fiction anymore.

17 / 50 books. 34% done!

6464 / 15000 pages. 43% done!

Book 18: Spark by Amy Kathleen Ryan – 375 pages

Description from
Waverly, Kieran and Seth are in a race against time - and with the future of humanity hanging in the balance, there's no room for mistakes... After a desperate escape from the enemy ship, Waverly has finally made it back to the Empyrean. The memory of home has been keeping her alive for the past months... but home is nothing like she left it. Forced to leave their captive parents behind on the New Horizon, she's returned only to find that Kieran has become a strict leader and turned the crew against Seth. What happened to the Kieran she thought she knew? Now Waverly's not sure whom she can trust. And the one person she wants to believe in is darkly brilliant Seth, the ship's supposed enemy. Waverly knows that the situation will only get worse until they can rescue their parents - but how? Before they have time to make a plan, an explosion rocks the Empyrean, and Seth and Waverly are targeted as the prime suspects. Can they find the true culprit before Kieran locks them away... or worse? Will Waverly follow her heart, even if it puts lives at risk? Now more than ever, every step could bring them closer to a new beginning - or a sudden end. "Spark "is book two in Amy Kathleen Ryan's thrilling young adult science fiction series Sky Chasers.

This is the second book in the Sky Chasers trilogy about a two starships travelling across the universe to relocate a group of humans to a new world. After their parents were killed by the adults of the New Horizon, the children of Empyrean are left to fend for themselves and work out how to save the small contingent of parents still alive and held prisoner on board the New Horizon, as well as unravel exactly why their parents were taken in the first place and what can be done to get revenge. In true Lord of the Flies fashion, its as much the internal fight for power that almost undoes these kids. Kieran has got the role of leader, a role he believes he deserves, and Seth is in hiding. Caught between the two of them is Waverly, Kieran’s former girlfriend who has separated herself from the growing religious fervor Kieran is preaching to the children. Meanwhile, Seth believes someone has gotten aboard the ship, but has no way of communicating this to Kieran, without revealing himself.
This is a complex young adult novel, filled with interesting ideas about power, religion, belief, love, revenge, violence and legacy. The adults on the New Horizon have some pretty questionable morals, but it also becomes clear that the adults on the Empyrean did too, which raises some concerning questions about why these people were chosen to seed a New Earth. The kids, unfortunately, seem to as much products of questionable parenting, as they are of their situation. The ending of the book opens up a really difficult situation, so I’m looking forward to seeing how Ryan resolves it. Definitely stronger than the average young adult novel.

18 / 50 books. 36% done!

6839 / 15000 pages. 46% done!

Currently reading:
-        The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – 509 pages
-        The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of the Iliad by Caroline Alexander – 277 pages
-        A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Sixth: The Ersatz Elevator by Lemony Snicket – 259 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

Books 54-55

鋼の錬金術師 27 (Fullmetal Alchemist 27)鋼の錬金術師 27 by Hiromu Arakawa

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What can I say? This is the end of what I consider to be one of the finest manga ever. It tics all the right boxes for a finale. It ended pretty much exactly how I would have liked it (well I might have asked for a happier ending for my favorite couple but still).

I did see this online when it first came out (and what took me three years to read the last manga? And how is it three years??). There were things I didn't remember (like a scene with Rebecca and Riza while she's being doctored) or that it was 2 years before Al told Gracia about Ed's leg. (that seems unlikely somehow). The translation was a tad dodgy in some places.

It also contained two omakes, one that I remembered with Trisha and Hohenheim and one that I'm not sure I have seen revolving around Al's armor.

If you've never seen this manga, put it on your TBR pile. Seriously.

View all my reviews

Black Butler, Vol. 16 (Black Butler, #16)Black Butler, Vol. 16 by Yana Toboso

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Take a moment to look at that gorgeous cover of Prince Soma. Wow. It's one of the best parts of this volume. It started out good then sort of took a right turn into ho-hum.

It picks up back at the school. Desperate to see the boys the Queen has sent him to check up on, Ciel needs to find a way into the Purple House (as part of Blue House he's forbidden to enter a house of another color). His solution? Psychotic. He sets the joint on fire but it didn't really help. Now he needs to find the elusive headmaster.

A new plan arises: play in the intramural cricket match which is a BIG deal. Ciel manages it thanks to Sebastian (since Ciel and all of blue house have zero athletic ability). Everyone turns out for this including Lizzie and her parents. Her brother is on another team opposing Ciel.

At first I thought this is very uncomfortably close to Harry Potter with a sports match AND each house parading in showing off in a grand way then I thought wait a minute, maybe this really IS how things go in an English boarding school. I would have no idea. I'm hoping it's that and not a HP rip off.

That said, other than seeing Soma being excellent at cricket (since he's usually the comic foil),it is extremely boring to watch sports in a graphic novel (seriously, I don't get sports manga at all). Of course that's my opinion as someone who pretty much like football and that's it. Hopefully this part will be over soon come next volume.

View all my reviews


Wrong Black Brain; Bad Kimmie66 Re-Gifters

Brain Camp, by Susan Kim, Faith Erin Hicks, et al
This was cute and cheerfully creepy. Love Faith Erin Hicks' style, will read just about any comic she draws.

The Wrong Hill to Die On, by Donis Casey
Not my favorite of this series. A bit too fragmented and earnest, but I still enjoyed it. It was very comforting to spend time with the lovable and upright protagonists.

The Black Hawk, by Joanna Bourne
Someone back in February told me I would like this and I believed them well enough that I sent myself an email, but I don't remember anything else about who it was or why they thought I would like it. It was a bit too Template Historical Romance for me at times, but it was also a cracking good Scarlet-Pimpernel-style adventure with a compelling heroine.

Re-Gifters by Mike Carey et al, and Kimmie66 by Aaron Alexovitch
I think that is all the Minx books? manintheboat is right that Kimmie66 was the best one, it had a hookiness and a depth that the others lacked and reminded me a bit of Neal Stephenson. Re-Gifters was fun but fairly by-the-numbers.
(114, 115)

Bad Kitty, by Michelle Jaffe
This was hilarious and charming and very very (very very) fluffy in a self-aware way. Kind of like The Spellman Files meets Gossip Girl.

#62: The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

When Katharine Tulman’s inheritance is called into question by the rumor that her eccentric uncle is squandering away the family fortune, she is sent to his estate to have him committed to an asylum. But instead of a lunatic, Katharine discovers a genius inventor with his own set of rules, who employs a village of nine hundred people rescued from the workhouses of London.

Katharine is now torn between protecting her own inheritance and preserving the peculiar community she grows to care for deeply. And her choices are made even more complicated by a handsome apprentice, a secretive student, and fears for her own sanity.

As the mysteries of the estate begin to unravel, it is clear that not only is her uncle’s world at stake, but also the state of England as Katharine knows it.

This historical fiction novel with a touch of steampunk is a solid YA read. In particular:
- I like how her uncle is most certainly on the severe end of the autism spectrum, but how it is shown in a very positive light. Most everyone loves him and fiercely protects him. Within the context of the period, perhaps that attitude is almost too optimistic, but as the mother of an autistic child I really appreciated the way it was handled.
- there's a romance there, but it's not handled in a traditional way, nor is it a pat "happily ever ever" in that regard.
- it's a fast read with a good pace.

On the more negative side, I did find the villain to be predictable, though there were still other twists and turns at the end that I did not expect.


#33 J.R.R.Tolkien 'The Children of Hurin'. (narrated by Christopher Lee)
I guess, Lee and Tolkien are a perfect fit. A powerful tale, told along the lines of old Nordic legends. I must admit, though, I've never really become engrossed.

#34 Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson 'Towers of Midnight' (Book 13 of The Wheel of Time).
Still determined to finish the series. I've really liked this installment. However, I am on the last book now and that one really drags with too much battle detail.

#35 Priscilla Royal 'Tyrant of the Mind' (Medieval Mystery 2)
I think, I am becoming addicted to this series. Just what I like: interesting characters and a decent plot. Plus the fact that prioress Eleanor and brother Thomas are working together.

And with new books from Diana Gabaldon, Laini Taylor and Terry Pratchett, I know what I am reading next.
Book 124: The Painted Drum.
Author: Louise Erdrich, 2005.
Genre: Contemporary?Period Fiction. Relationship Drama. Native American. Death and Bereavement.
Other Details: Paperback. 277 pages.

When Faye Travers is sent to appraise a family estate in a small New Hampshire town and comes across a forgotten set of valuable Native American artefacts, she is not surprised by the discovery. However, she is shocked when she finds a rare drum – particularly because without even touching the instrument she hears its deep resonant sound.

Following the discovery, we trace the drum's passage both backwards and forwards in time. We hear the voice of Bernard Shaawano, an Ojibwe, who tells of how his grandfather created the drum after years of mourning his younger daughter's death and how it changes the paths of those who cross it. Through Faye, we experience her anguished relationship with a local sculptor who also mourns the loss of a daughter, and witness the life Faye has made alone with her mother, in the shadow of her sister's death.
- synopsis from UK publisher's website.

I found this a beautifully written tale or rather series of tales around the theme of a Native American drum. The other running theme is death and bereavement as various characters come to terms with the tragic deaths of sisters and daughters.

Louise Erdrich's descriptions of nature and animals were breath-taking giving a real sense of being in nature even when tucked up reading in an armchair thousands of miles away from her setting. She also deals sensitively with the Native American lore entrusted to her; something she makes clear in her end notes.

This was a reading group selection and while attendance at the group was minimal due to a clashing event for some members, the novel proved a success with two of us while the others did not feel it was a bad book but expressed difficulties in relating to Faye as a character. It did generate a great deal of discussion, which always is a good outcome for a reading group's chosen book.

Books 19 & 20 - 2012

Book 19: Flat Earth News: An award-winning reporter exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media by Nick Davies – 397 pages

Description from
An award-winning reporter exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media. WARNING! Are newspapers seriously damaging your insight? Does what you read every day contain lies, PR, propaganda and distortion? Find out who's controlling your news in this shocking expose from the ultimate insider.

This is a really important book. I stumbled upon it in the back of another book (I think it was Female Chauvinist Pigs) and when I was working in London I found it in Barnes and Noble and bought it. It was not lost on me that I discovered the TV show ‘The Newsroom’ about two months after I read this book, late one night while staying in New York City with my parents, after I’d finished my stint in London. This book compliments what the show is trying to do.
Davies worked on Fleet Street, home of London’s media, and in Flat Earth News, he takes apart the mess that is the media industry in the modern day, and why not a word of what it spews out can be trusted, not because of the evil desires of the Murdoch’s of the world to direct what we think, but rather to make money. Cutting, and cutting, and cutting back the budgets for journalism teams while expecting faster and faster news coverage in order to ‘get the scoop’ before anyone else has resulted in news that is barely news, human interest crap to keep the masses watching, but providing little actual truthful news about what is happening in the world. Davies details how this has come to be, how pervasive it is, and what media outlets are the worst. There is, in fact, a whole chapter dedicated to the Daily Mail, which is one of my favourite papers to read online, despite the fact that I know its utter trash. This book confirms that view (I still read the Daily Mail – its hilarious!). All in all, along with the noble endeavor of the Newsroom (even if some consider it completely fanciful), this is an important book, highlighting the critical thinking we all need to apply when watching the news.

19 / 50 books. 38% done!

6564 / 15000 pages. 44% done!

Book 20: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson – 533 pages

Description from
Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder - and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family. He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet's disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.

I put this book on my to-read list, but I was wary given how popular it is (the more popular a book with the general public, the worse I tend to find them). Then I went to the Netherlands and my cousin recommended it to me, telling me she’d even gone to the trouble to read it in English. So, again, when I went to that Barnes and Noble, I picked up a copy. It sat on my nightstand till almost the end of my stay in London, and then I took a train trip to Belgium and took it with me. And I was engrossed! Because unlike the Twilights of the world, this is a damn good book. I don’t read a lot of murder/crime mysteries, but this one is an exception. It’s a complex, clever plot set in an unusual setting for someone like me who has never been to Scandinavia (but really wants to go!). There is a lot of description, a lot of background, but the style of writing doesn’t make it feel onerous or boring or designed to fluff out the story – the writing style is almost clinical, but substantial enough to make you genuinely interested in the characters, to give them humanity. It is fast paced, and the story is really, really fascinating as a stand alone as well as in the context of the rest of the trilogy (which I went on to read). I also really liked the fact that neither Lisbeth nor Mikael are perfect people. There not necessarily ridiculous attractive, they are flawed, they are selfish, and they hurt people. But their determination to solve the mystery of Harriet Vanger’s death, and their strange relationship with each other is, in my opinion, the true achievement of this book. One of the few internationally popular books that deserves its place at the top.

20 / 50 books. 40% done!

7097 / 15000 pages. 47% done!

Currently reading:
-        The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – 509 pages
-        I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes – 700 pages
-        The War That Killed Achilles: The True Story of the Iliad by Caroline Alexander – 277 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

Books 16 & 17

I was on a bit of a mystery jag in May, and I'm finally catching up with myself and actually posting about the books.

16.   An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James – I finally got around to reading this author I first heard about back in the day thanks to a “Murder, She Wrote” episode, nudged along by Amazon’s list of 100 mysteries/thrillers to read in a lifetime. This was originally published in 1972 and features Cordelia Gray, the young assistant of a London private investigator who inherits the business when her partner unexpectedly commits suicide. Her first solo case involves a rich entrepreneur who wants her to look into the presumed suicide of his college dropout son. Cordelia is young and inexperienced but has a good head on her shoulders, and she works persistently to unravel the case. I enjoyed this charming introduction to a new writer and character.
17.   Destroyer Angel by Nevada Barr – Ranger Anna Pigeon is back in “real time,” picking up a few months after the events of Burn. Anna is on a canoeing/camping vacation in Minnesota with two other women and their adolescent daughters when she goes off on a solo excursion after dinner. While she is gone from camp, the other members of her party are waylaid by a group of kidnappers. Anna stays hidden and attempts to thwart the thugs as they cajole their captives toward the rendezvous point with a pilot who’s going to take them out of the country. This book was just okay to me. The story is a little too similar to “The River Wild,” and Anna is a little too superhuman in some of her efforts to be believable. I also thought that she was in a very bad place both personally and professionally at the end of Burn, and the only apparent repercussion from that situation is that her husband sends her off on a vacation without him a few months later.

Book 41

Shades of Sepia (The Sleepless City, #1)Shades of Sepia by Anne Barwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blends of mystery and urban fantasy are one of my favorite things to read. Ben is new to Flint, OH, from New Zealand working in food service for the time being. He came here following his grandfather's footsteps (and at his suggestion). He's also a photographer. He tries to photograph a man he thinks is following him without success. Later the man introduces himself, Simon, a professor at the local university.

For his part, Simon is working with his partners and housemates, Forge and Lucas to solve the mystery of a series of murders, one vampire and one human every time. Simon and Forge are also vampires (in this world vampires don't need to kill to eat). When Simon introduces himself to Ben for the first time, he's certain Ben is his soul mate via a vampire bond. But as he and Ben get closer Simon has to solve the mystery before Ben becomes a target.

I enjoyed the story. As a matter of personal taste, I'm not really a fan of instant soul mate but the way this was presented as part of the vampire's being it works. It reminded me of Recognition in Elfquest. I particularly liked Lucas as a side character.



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