?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Welcome new members!

First off, let me apologize to any new members who had to wait for their posts to be released from the moderation queue...LJ failed to alert me that they were featuring this community in the Spotlight, so I was unprepared for the influx! The queue is clear now, so anyone who posted who wasn't seeing their post, should see it now.

Having said that, welcome to all the new members! I invite you to please review the community info found here prior to your first post. Pretty much everything you could want to know about the community and its guidelines can be found there.

Happy reading!


Number of pages: 197

The murder mystery in the fifth Agatha Raisin book hits a bit too close to home for the heroine, as she and on and off lover James Lacey end up as murder suspects.

Full disclosure is SPOILERY, so...

[Spoiler (click to open)]

At the end of the previous book, Agatha got engaged to James; it seemed a bit too abrupt after just four books, but then it was revealed that Agatha's vindictive former assistant Roy was attempting to locate her supposedly dead husband, Jimmy Raisin, who it turns out is very much alive.

This book starts with Roy finding Jimmy and telling him all about Agatha's wedding plans, before having a change of heard and telling Jimmy he should forget they ever met. Inevitably, this doesn't happen and Jimmy shows up in Carsely on the wedding day, resulting in James calling off the engagement. Shortly after, Jimmy is found murdered.



There isn't just one death in this book, but several, as Agatha and James start playing detective and interviewing suspects; there's also a subplot with Agatha trying to buy back her house, after she sold it in anticipation of moving in with James.

Although there was the usual cliche of Agatha interfering with police business and ignoring instructions to back off, I enjoyed this a lot more than the previous title, mostly through overall better writing and some good plot twists that kept me guessing throughout.

I plan on reading the next book, Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist soon, particularly as, to my recollection, it hasn't yet been adapted by Sky One.

Next book: Us (David Nicholls)


Number of pages: 276

This is another spoof autobiography of the fictional Alan Partridge, following on from I, Partridge, but in this case it documents Alan's attempts to hike across Britain attempting to "follow in the footsteps" of his father.

This being a comedy book, it doesn't say much about hiking, but instead contains the usual humour I have come to expect from anything Alan Partridge related, usually including fake anecdotes about random celebrities, as well as Alan's complete nariccism.

I noticed that the book went off on tangents a lot, including Alan's own telling of what happened during the film, Alpha Pappa (anyone familiar with the first book will not be surprised that he spends a lot of this story lying and exaggerating). I also liked that there were a few more poignant moments that bought out Alan's more human side, particularly near the end.

Next book: Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage (M.C. Beaton)


Number of pages: 337

This is the final Discworld book, and was also unfinished at the time when Terry Pratchett died in 2015, which is presumably why it is a bit shorter than most of the recent books in the series, and it felt like there were a few unresolved plot threads, and maybe a couple of minor plot points that I did not entirely follow. As I found out from the afterword, Terry Pratchett realised he didn't have long to live so made sure that the ending of the book was intact before he wrote a lot of the other bits.

I've seen this one called one of the worst Discworld novels, but I enjoyed this and thought it was a lot better than the penultimate book, Raising Steam, the events of which are occasionally referenced in this one. It also feels like a fitting end for the Discworld novel, and has a sense of being a swansong, including one moment that I had spoiled for me.

[Spoiler (click to open)]

In chapter 2, Granny Weatherwax, one of my favourite discworld characters dies; I had expected her death to come at the end, but it was good that Terry Pratchett gave her a fitting send off. It sets many of the main plots in motion, including the fact that Tiffany is required to replace her as the "Hag o' hags" as the Nac Mac Feegle call her.



I noticed that the pace of the book was a bit slower than usual, mostly because of the book's early events, but it seemed to work quite well here. The main plot was effectively a sequel to one of the older books, Lords and Ladies as the elves decided to use recent events as an excuse to invade, only this time the elf queen ended up being overthrown by one of her own people and cast out in one of the early chapters.

The story also involved a boy called Geoffrey, who wanted to become a witch, so a bit like a gender reveral of the first Granny Weatherwax novel, Equal Rites.

Like with the previous Tiffany Aching book, I noticed that this was more serious in tone than many of the other titles, with the subject matter becoming quite dark at times; one of the early chapters had Geoffrey being beaten by his father before he finally decided to stand up for himself, and there was another moment where Tiffany ended up brutally killing three elves. There was some of the characteristic Discworld humour, but it was less frequent than most of the older titles.

Towards the end, it occurred to me that the plot, which gradually built up towards a final battle with the elves, felt a bit like George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series, although this might have not been intentional. I also noticed Terry Pratchett managed a few brief references to other things, like Dad's Army and even Margaret Thatcher.

The climax did feel a bit rushed, but as mentioned before, I would put that down to the fact that the book ended up unfinished, but overall I was glad that I took the trouble to read all of Discworld titles.

Next book: Alan Partridge: Nomad (Neil Gibbons, Rob Gibbons and Steve Coogan)

Book 27 - 2017

Book 27: The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A guide to spending less while enjoying everything more by Annie Raser-Rowland with Adam Grubb – 226 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
It sounds too good to be true. You can save money and the world, inoculate yourself against many of the ills of modern life, and enjoy everything more on both the sensual and profound levels? Preposterous!
Yet here is a toolkit to help you do just that. A tweak here, a twiddle there; every strategy in The Art Of Frugal Hedonism has been designed to help you target the most important habits of mind and action needed for living frugally but hedonistically. Apply a couple, and you'll definitely have a few extra dollars in your pocket and enjoy more sunsets. Apply the lot, and you'll wake up one day and realise that you're happier, wealthier, fitter, and more in-lust with life than you'd ever thought possible.


Thoughts:
So a few years ago, a friend and colleague of mine decided that she was going to make protecting the environment her hobby/mission. This included reducing her own family’s impact, but also encouraging others to do so as well. She started this by creating a facebook group (‘Urban Hippies’ if you’re interested), and as I sit next to her five days a week and she’s very bossy, she has had a real big impact on me. She knows I’m a reader, so when she finds books that connect with her mission, she often shares them with me. This one particularly resonated, and I’m really glad I got to read it. I don’t believe in everything the authors have to say (I won’t be dumpster diving any time soon), but the idea that one can and should find what really matters to them and invest their time and money in that rather than trying to keep up with the Joneses by buying, buying, buying. By taking this approach, one can actually reduce their time invested in things they don’t like, particularly work, in order to fund things they don’t care about. I have been trying to encourage this approach with my family (my mother in particular - raging consumer!), and I’m pleased to say my siblings have really taken it on board (I think we always had tendencies to this anyway). What I have noticed is that those of my friends (and family) who have the access to funds in order to live comfortably (i.e. make a decent wage) are actually the ones most focused on reducing their impact and limiting their consumption. Those friends with limited means seem to always be the ones chasing the latest trend, or complaining they haven’t got enough, or being wasteful. It’s an interesting comparison. Anyway, irrespective of the current climate issues, I think its always important for us, as humans, to try to reduce our impact on the planet, for future generations, and in light of our eventual migration to the stars, where we won’t always have access to seemingly limitless resources. This book provides some really interesting thoughts on how to do that. I recommend all should read it.


27 / 50 books. 54% done!


11167 / 15000 pages. 74% done!

Currently reading:
- Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe
by Mike Massimino – 317 pages
- For Common Things: Irony, Trust, and Commitment in America Today
by Jedediah Purdy – 214 pages
- The Lexus and the Olive Tree
by Thomas Friedman – 378 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
- Twelve Sharp
by Janet Evanovich – 413 pages

Book 26 - 2017

Book 26: Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich – 280 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Stephanie Plum is thinking her career as a fugitive apprehension agent has run its course. She's been shot at, spat at, cussed at, fire-bombed, mooned, and attacked by dogs. Time for a change, Stephanie thinks. Time to find the kind of job her mother can tell her friends about without making the sign of the cross. So Stephanie Plum quits. Resigns. No looking back. No changing her mind. She wants something safe and normal. As it turns out, jobs that are safe and normal for most people aren't necessarily safe and normal for Stephanie Plum. Trouble follows her, and the kind of trouble she had at the bail bonds office can't compare to the kind of trouble she finds herself facing now. Her past has come back to haunt her. She's stalked by a maniac returned from the grave for the sole purpose of putting her into a burial plot of her own. He's killed before, and he'll kill again if given the chance. Caught between staying far away from the bounty hunter business and staying alive, Stephanie reexamines her life and the possibility that being a bounty hunter is the solution rather than the problem. After disturbingly brief careers at the button factory, Kan Klean Dry Cleaners, and Cluck-in-a-Bucket, Stephanie takes an office position in security, working for Ranger, the sexiest, baddest bounty hunter and businessman on two continents. It might not be the job she'll keep for the rest of her life, but for now it gives her the technical access she needs to find her stalker. Tempers and temperatures rise as competition ratchets up between the two men in her life---her on-again, off-again boyfriend, tough Trenton cop Joe Morelli, and her bad-ass boss, Ranger. Can Stephanie Plum take the heat? Can you? Between the adventure and the adversity there's attitude, and Stephanie Plum's got plenty in her newest misadventure, Eleven on Top.


Thoughts:
This Stephanie Plum book sees Stephanie decide to grow up, quit her job at the bonds office and actually be an adult. Alas, its all a plot device, because Stephanie doesn’t last more than a day or two at each of her grown up jobs - usually because of her own ineptness (let’s face it, she’s also a pretty terrible bounty hunter) or because some criminal mastermind stuffs up her day. So she takes a job with Ranger. This might be the smartest move she could have made, career wise, seeing as any skill set she possesses (besides the ability to eat junk without getting fat), but its a terrible idea for her relationship with Morelli. Needless to say, it seems Stephanie is determined to put herself in these type of situations, and the outcome is the same - tension with Morelli, flirting with Ranger, some mad cap crime solving. Standard Stephanie Plum fare.


26 / 50 books. 52% done!


10941 / 15000 pages. 73% done!

Currently reading:
- The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A guide to spending less while enjoying everything more
by Annie Raser-Rowland with Adam Grubb – 226 pages
- Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe
by Mike Massimino – 317 pages
- For Common Things: Irony, Trust, and Commitment in America Today
by Jedediah Purdy – 214 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
- The Lexus and the Olive Tree
by Thomas Friedman – 378 pages


Number of pages: 607

I just finished reading the entire Harry Potter series again; I didn't find this final instalment quite as good as I remembered it, but still preferred it over the previous book.

I liked the fact that J.K. decided to shake up the format by taking Harry, Hermione and Ron outside of Hogwarts for most of the book, as they went searching for horcruxes, but at times it felt like the plot really dragged until they returned to Hogwarts for the climactic battle.

There were also character deaths, including some that I'd completely forgotten about, and also the big plot twist during the pensieve sequence when you see events from throughout Harry's life (including several from the last two novels) from a point of view other than Harry's. Most of the revelations did not surprise me, but it definitely gave me more of an appreciation of a certain character.

I was glad I re-read the books again, and would maybe do it again in several years' time.

Next book: The Shepherd's Crown (Terry Pratchett)

Book #50: Milkman by Anna Burns



Number of pages: 348

I bought this book because it won the Booker Prize last year; I expected it to be a difficult book, and it was, mostly because of the long, rambling manner in which it was written and the dauntingly-long paragraphs.

The book is set in an unnamed town, presumably in Anna Burns' native Northern Ireland; it mentions terrorists (presumably the IRA) a lot, so is most likely set during the late 20th Century. On top of that, most characters, including the narrator, are not given a name.

The "Milkman" of the title is an older man, who seems to have a reputation as a philanderer, and he has his sights on the narrator, despite her having a "maybe-boyfriend", and it's not long before rumours start. I got the impression that the novel involved some close-knit, devoutly religious community, similar to the one portrayed in The Scarlet Letter.

The main plot doesn't really go very far, and the narrative takes the unusual step of setting out in the first sentence that the Milkman will end up dying; the narrative is padded out by the narrator going of on all sorts of tangents with a number vignettes all about the other characters in the book, and life in her community.

It took me a few chapters to get into, but I found myself enjoying this - it wasn't exactly an easy book to follow, but the narrative style was compelling.

50 Book Challenge Complete for 2019

Next book: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K Rowling)

Book 60 - The Chessmen by Peter May

The conclusion of the Isle of Lewis trilogy. It’s somewhat bittersweet, in keeping with the rest of the series, but it’s a satisfying finale. But first we have to unwind the story. Fin McLeod has a new job managing security for a gaming and fishing lodge, which brings him into contact with an old school friend. After a storm and a “bog burst,” they find the wreckage of a plan which contains the body of another classmate who’d disappeared years earlier. In the course of unraveling this mystery, Fin discovers the truth behind several situations and relationships that he’d interpreted completely differently. In addition there’s a resolution to part of the story from the previous book, but the author fills in enough detail that it’s not necessary to have read that one. There’s some time jumping which I found didn’t add to the storytelling, but on the other hand Fin takes a little field trip to Spain that warmed my little heart. One can only hope that Fin will find a little serenity in the islands now that he’s eliminated some demons and come to terms with his past. For my part, I’ll miss this little corner of the world, even though it’s often bleak and harsh. Meanwhile I’ve started watching the Shetland series and will probably dive into the books sooner or later for my Scottish islands fix. Read 10-19 October.

Tags:

Books 41 - 55.

41. Kiernan - The Red Tree
Mirroring partly the author's own life, this is a moody autumnal piece of a book.

42. Ward - Welcome To Orphancorp
Pretty heartbreaking (and -warming), a story of a true friendship. The sequels are hard to find, but what I've managed to find, this book is the lightest on grimness.

43. Kuroda/Friedman (commentary) - I Wait For The Moon: 100 Haiku Of... (English translation)
Great haikus, some commenting on recent Japan history; a good selection from Friedman.

44. Hughes - Katharine Drexel: The Riches-To-Rages Story Of An American Catholic Saint
One saint's story; some bits are more interesting that others, but she's really worth the canonization.

45. Barnard & Kramer - How It All Vegan!: Irresistible Recipes For An Animal-Free Diet
Still has a feel of times when vegans were more in the margins; more useful that what you might think of the cover and lack of pictures.

46. Owen - How To Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits That Are Holding You Back From Happiness
Even if not all habits apply to you, there's still plenty of helpful stuff even in the less-me stuff.

47. Tartt - The Goldfinch
A 'love it or hate it' book. Might feel too long for some, but I didn't mind. Boris is a gem, bringing lightness to the story. Better than the movie, for sure.

48. M.Skobtsova - Essential Writings
Writings of an Orthodox saint, working for the poor in France, then suffering a martyrdom at an concentration camp at the end of the WWII. The writings are very good, calling for charity activism towards the neighbors, not just cultivating your personal relationship towards God.

49. White - Decluttering At The Speed Of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle With Stuff
Useful, if sometimes repetitive. Not much new to me, but still got something out of it.

50. Majzlik - A Vegan Taste Of The Caribbean
A good start, with appealing recipes even if the book is slim and pictureless.

Book 25 - 2017

Book 25: Skinny by Ibi Kaslik – 244 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Holly's older sister, Giselle, is self-destructing. Haunted by her love-deprived relationship with her late father, this once strong role model and medical student, is gripped by anorexia. Holly, a track star, struggles to keep her own life in balance while coping with the mental and physical deterioration of her beloved sister. Together, they can feel themselves slipping and are holding on for dear life.
This honest look at the special bond between sisters is told from the perspective of both girls, as they alternate narrating each chapter. Gritty and often wryly funny, Skinny explores family relationships, love, pain, and the hunger for acceptance that drives all of us.


Thoughts:
This book struck me as strange, and the ending made little sense - I genuinely couldn’t work out what was going on in the end. Giselle comes across as a strong individual but she hides a terrible secret. This book very much looks out how many anorexia sufferers use food as a means of control, when they feel they can’t control anything else. Holly, Giselle’s younger sister, witness her sister’s destruction, but is unable to stop it. I thought this book would speak to me as I have a younger sister, but the confusing ending really tainted the rest of the book for me, and I didn’t get as much out of it as I was hoping to. It is a quick read, so if you can accept the ending, and the topic is of interest, its still worth a look.


25 / 50 books. 50% done!


10661 / 15000 pages. 71% done!

Currently reading:
- The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A guide to spending less while enjoying everything more
by Annie Raser-Rowland with Adam Grubb – 226 pages
- Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe
by Mike Massimino – 317 pages
- Eleven on Top
by Janet Evanovich – 280 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
- For Common Things: Irony, Trust, and Commitment in America Today
by Jedediah Purdy – 214 pages

Book 24 - 2017

Book 24: A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman – 315 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Diane Ackerman's lusciously written grand tour of the realm of the senses includes conversations with an iceberg in Antarctica and a professional nose in New York, along with dissertations on kisses and tattoos, sadistic cuisine and the music played by the planet Earth.


Thoughts:
This is a gorgeous book. Leant to me by a work friend, it tours the senses, describing how they work, how they interact, how we interpret the world with them, how people use them in unusual ways. Ackerman’s descriptions and use of language is gorgeous; she makes you feel, as if you could experience the sensory images she describes merely by reading her words. It’s a wonderful read.


24 / 50 books. 48% done!


10417 / 15000 pages. 69% done!

Currently reading:
- The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A guide to spending less while enjoying everything more
by Annie Raser-Rowland with Adam Grubb – 226 pages
- Skinny
by Ibi Kaslik – 244 pages
- Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe
by Mike Massimino – 317 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
- Eleven on Top
by Janet Evanovich – 280 pages

Tags:

Book 23 - 2017

Book 23: Without Remorse by Tom Clancy – 750 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
John Kelly, former Navy SEAL and Vietnam veteran, is still getting over the accidental death of his wife six months before, when he befriends a young woman with a decidedly checkered past. When that past reaches out for her in a particularly horrifying fashion, he vows revenge and, assembling all of his old skills, sets out to track down the men responsible, before it can happen again. At the same time, the Pentagon is readying an operation to rescue a key group of prisoners in a North Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp. One man, they find, knows the terrain around the camp better than anyone else they have: a certain former Navy SEAL named John Kelly. Kelly has his own mission. The Pentagon wants him for theirs. Attempting to juggle the two, Kelly (now code-named Mr. Clark) finds himself confronted by a vast array of enemies, both at home and abroad - men so skillful that the slightest misstep means death. And the fate of dozens of people, including Kelly himself, restson his making sure that misstep never happens. Men aren't born dangerous. They grow dangerous. And the most dangerous of all, Kelly learns, are the ones you least expect...


Thoughts:
A few years ago, in a particular mood, I decided I wanted to read some more action/adventure style novels and I picked up a copy of Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October on sale. I then realised that Red October, whilst the original release, is not chronologically the first book in the Jack Ryan series. As I hate to read out of order, I went and tracked down the rest, and have been putting together a collection (mostly sourced at second hand book sales) over the last few years. Without Remorse, which hardly features Jack Ryan at all, was really hard to come by, so I ended up buying it off book depository, only to have the postman leave it down the side of my house where I failed to notice it for several days. It got wet in the rain, and the book is novel double the size due to the way it dried. But nonetheless, it was readable. I read most of book while on a cruise with friends (when my friends were sleeping off their hangovers - I don’t drink). This book is mostly about John Clark, who features in the John Ryan novels. It’s a solid story, that kept my enthralled despite its ridiculous length. I’m sure some serious editing could have been done, but the book didn’t necessarily feel bloated as I’ve heard some of Clancy’s later books could use. I was most moved by the story at the beginning, that kicks off Clark’s journey - the story of the young woman who Clark develops affection for. It’s really sad, and a total kick in the face to the idea of trying to better yourself. Overall, a good read.


23 / 50 books. 46% done!


10102 / 15000 pages. 67% done!

Currently reading:
- A Natural History of the Senses
by Diane Ackerman – 315 pages
- The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A guide to spending less while enjoying everything more
by Annie Raser-Rowland with Adam Grubb – 226 pages
- Skinny
by Ibi Kaslik – 244 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
- Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe
by Mike Massimino – 317 pages

Book 22 - 2017

Book 22: Sun, Moon, Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets by Tyler Nordgren – 226 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
On August 21, 2017, more than ten million Americans will experience an awe-inspiring phenomenon: the first total eclipse of the sun in America in almost forty years. In Sun Moon Earth, astronomer Tyler Nordgren illustrates how this most seemingly unnatural of natural phenomena was transformed from a fearsome omen to a tourist attraction. From the astrologers of ancient China and Babylon to the high priests of the Maya, Sun Moon Earth takes us around the world to show how different cultures interpreted these dramatic events. Greek philosophers discovered eclipses' cause and used them to measure their world and the cosmos beyond. Victorian-era scientists mounted eclipse expeditions during the age of globe-spanning empires. And modern-day physicists continue to use eclipses to confirm Einstein's theory of relativity.Beautifully illustrated and lyrically written, Sun Moon Earth is the ideal guide for all eclipse watchers and star gazers alike.


Thoughts:
I happened to be in Oregon just before the eclipse in 2017. Of course, given this event, there was a lot of buzz, which manifested itself in a number of books on eclipses at any science facilities I happened to visit (I’m a science nerd, so needless to say, I often visit science centres and related museums when vacationing). This book seemed the most interesting of all those I came across. I was particularly interested in the discussion of how people have perceived eclipses throughout history. However, this book’s style was a little to dry for my taste. While it does cover the aforementioned topic, as well as the science behind how eclipses work, it doesn’t excite the reader as much as I think this topic should (which is saying something, given I’m a space nerd). Nonetheless, Nordgren does sufficiently cover the beauty and magic of witnessing an eclipse, the challenge chasers face in actually getting to see an eclipse even when in the right place at the right time (due to weather etc), and the wanderlust that such an experience fosters in a person, driving them to seek out subsequent eclipses. A fascinating topic that I feel could have been served a little better with more enthusiastic writing.


22 / 50 books. 44% done!


9352 / 15000 pages. 62% done!

Currently reading:
- Without Remorse
by Tom Clancy – 750 pages
- A Natural History of the Senses
by Diane Ackerman – 315 pages
- The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A guide to spending less while enjoying everything more
by Annie Raser-Rowland with Adam Grubb – 226 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
- Skinny
by Ibi Kaslik – 244 pages

Tags:

Books 78-80

Zero Sum GameZero Sum Game by Cody L. Martin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I won this a while back and it took me forever to review (a reflection of own crazy life, not the book). I enjoyed it though it took a bit to get moving. It has a slow start but once Hina gets the 'battle suit' things pick up.

Hina is a fourteen year old school girl (the author is an American teacher who has taught in Japan for several years at Hina's level). She's a bit different in that she's a competitive weight lifter. Her parents have recently divorced and her mother has moved away leaving her with her father.

In Hiroshima a group of aliens, the Noigel, as masked as humans with these battle suits that make them nearly invulnerable. They are from the Noigel ark. Their world has died and they want to terraform Earth into a new homeworld (but humans would not survive the process). The Noigel aren't in agreement about this and two of them turn on a third who dies but not before passing the suit onto Hina out of desperation.

The suit, which she dubs Voice (as it can talk to her), is stuck in the form of her school uniform. Unable to change and go to someone else, like a soldier, Voice is stuck with a fourteen year old girl. Hina now has to bear the weight of saving the world.

Once we get to this, especially after she has to tell her teacher Ozaki the truth, the story really picks up. It of course has a manga/anime feel to it but that's fine, I love that. Hina is a good character, I liked her a lot. I enjoyed the story, though it does have some pacing problems. Still it's fun.



View all my reviews

The Child ThiefThe Child Thief by Brom

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I've had this on my shelf for years, bought mainly for Brom's art as I knew nothing of his writing but I thought this dark retelling of Peter Pan was well done. The prose is evocative in many places. This is dark but really if you look a Peter's story (as written by Barrie) it is actually rather creepy. Forget about Wendy and her siblings. Think about what the lost boys actually do. They attack and kill pirates. Peter himself says something along the lines of Death Would Be an Awfully Big Adventure and talks about weeding out boys who get too old (how, Barrie doesn't say).

Brom grasps onto those ideas with this and then mixes them with actual faerie lore, tosses in some Arthurian legend along with Celtic/Welsh folklore with Lady Modron and her son Mabon ap Modron (who has been lost in this). What you get is a Peter as a faerie/human hybrid who keeps coming back to Earth to steal children for his army. He knows that they will die but he feels compelled to attack the Flesh eaters who were early pilgrims, now trapped in Modron's 'avalon' for centuries, slowly turning nearly undead monsters.

Enter our other point of view character, Nick who is a young man whose mother has let out rooms in her house to drug dealers, and they want Nick badly hurt if not dead. He's on the run for his life when Peter claims him. This Peter is fine with killing and stealing and Nick goes with him into 'Neverland' and to the Lost Boys (who are called Devils in this).

The beginning of this is not linear bouncing between Nick's story, Peter's present story and Peter's past story. We watch Seku (a young Native American girl) train Nick and get to know some of the Devils and the wanna-bes. We learn that if you're too old the magic won't sit right within you and you become what the Flesh-eaters are (and Nick is on the cusp on being too old).

Avalon is dying, however, even if Peter is having trouble admitting it. Modron has withdrawn into her own world. Many of the old gods have died. And instead of helping Ulfgar has spent the last centuries angry at Peter and the unfairness of it how he sees his life (in spite of being the heir to Herne the Hunter/Cernnunous) so Peter has no help from the faeries and the Devils are good but they are never enough.

If there was anything I didn't like, it was the pacing. We don't get to see the actual bad guys until the last quarter of the book. It felt a bit dragging in places. We do spend a lot of time with Nick as he tries to fit in, realizing he isn't and his desire to get home to his mother (who he realizes now he's left alone with these horrible men). At least another of the young (quite young) kids would like to go home too and it might all be a moot point, as Avalon dies, they're running out of food.

Nick is a far more compelling character than Peter in many ways. He's been caught up in horrible things. Peter's story is tragic too but he authors much of his own drama.

I will say I am very conflicted about the ending. It's fitting for the story which is dark fantasy/horror. That said, I felt let down by it. It wasn't the ending I wanted after wading through nearly five hundred pages of text.



View all my reviews

Yankee Doodle Dead (Death on Demand, #10)Yankee Doodle Dead by Carolyn G. Hart

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Okay as a mystery it's not bad but there were some things that truly annoyed me in this. To be fair, I wandered into this on book 10 (and have no real desire to find any others in the series which should tell you something). So obviously someone likes this series. Annie runs a book store in town on a small South Carolinian island and her husband, Max is apparently wealthy, more interested in golfing than working.

Annie does three things that really annoyed me to no end. 1) the endless repetition of 'speak your mind' things she wants to say but doesn't. It gets old fast. 2) The endless listing out of fictional sleuths. Okay I get it. She owns a mystery book store and loves mysteries. I have things I'm a super fan of too but I don't constantly list out what Kirk and Spock would have done here. And if it was just one sleuth per incidence it wouldn't be so bad. But no, it's often three or four each and every time. I couldn't help feeling annoyed. 3) Annie's interview style is abrasive and honestly I don't know why anyone on this island talks to this woman with how she handles things.

For that matter, the victim took forever to die. The book is only 270 pages and it takes him over a hundred pages to get his misogynistic self dead. We know General Bud Hatch is going to die (says so on the dust cover) and even if it didn't you want him dead. He comes into town and tries to run it his way, taking over the local youth center and treating it like bootcamp, taking over the library and the fourth of July celebration which was supposed to be about the historic women of town but what do women have to do with history and being interesting? Well nothing according to Hatch.

Naturally someone Annie likes gets blamed (a young African American boy) and she has to save him before the lazy prosecutor settles for the easiest target, i.e. Samuel. Everyone had reason to knock hatch off from the women he was trying to get fired, the gay men he was trying to run off, the husband of the woman who was cheating with Hatch.

So mystery wise there's plenty of suspects but it wasn't all that entertaining.



View all my reviews

Book 21 - 2017

Book 21: Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich – 312 pages|

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
She's accidentally destroyed a dozen cars. She's a target for every psycho and miscreant this side of the Jersey Turnpike. Her mother's convinced she'll end up dead . . . or worse, without a man. She's Stephanie Plum, and she kicks butt for a living (well, she thinks it sounds good to put it that way. . . .). It begins as an innocent trip to the deli-mart, on a quest for nachos. But Stephanie Plum and her partner, Lula, are clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time. A robbery leads to an explosion, which leads to the destruction of yet another car. It would be just another day in the life of Stephanie Plum, except that she becomes the target of a gang---and of an even scarier, more dangerous force that comes to Trenton. With super bounty hunter Ranger acting more mysteriously than ever (and the tension with vice cop Joe Morelli getting hotter), she finds herself with a decision to make: how to protect herself and where to hide while on the hunt for a killer known as the Junkman. There's only one safe place, and it has Ranger's name all over it---if she can find it. And if the Junkman doesn't find her first. With Lula riding shotgun and Grandma Mazur on the loose, Stephanie Plum is racing against the clock in her most suspenseful novel yet. Ten Big Ones is page-turning entertainment, and Janet Evanovich is the best there is.


Thoughts:
Another Stephanie Plum novel. This one unmasks Ranger’s physical location in Trenton and needless to say its as mysterious as Ranger. I liked this inclusion; the body wash and the housekeeper and just the general imagery of Ranger’s place really works for me, and it had me looking around my own home wishing it could be that nice! The story itself is fairly standard - Ranger, Morelli, Stephanie love triangle, crazy Lula and Grandma, fairly standard crime in crime riddled Trenton. Funny stuff as usual, but not ground breaking, and it certainly doesn’t require me to think too hard. Enjoyable.


21 / 50 books. 42% done!


9126 / 15000 pages. 61% done!

Currently reading:
- Without Remorse
by Tom Clancy – 750 pages
- Sun, Moon, Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets
by Tyler Nordgren – 226 pages
- A Natural History of the Senses
by Diane Ackerman – 315 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
- The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A guide to spending less while enjoying everything more
by Annie Raser-Rowland with Adam Grubb – 226 pages

Book #49: Platform Seven by Louise Doughty



Number of pages: 448

At the start of this book, its heroine, Lisa, is face-to-face with a man on the titular Platform Seven. A train is coming, and suddenly the man walks towards the platform edge and jumps in front of the train. It's quite a bleak opening to the book, in which you suddenly learn that Lisa is herself a ghost.

This is a book that I'd read about and I thought it was going to be all about Lisa finding out what happened to her; all we know is that she died on the railway tracks at the same station; it is not made clear whether she was pushed, she committed suicide or if something else happened.

The book is entirely narrated by Lisa, and has her observing living people, and other ghosts who also inhabit the station and its surroundings; there is an implication in the book that we are surrounded by ghosts that we cannot see all of the time; its an image that put me in mind of one scene from Dickens' Christmas Carol.

The book also flashes back to Lisa's past, and her relationship with a man called Matty, and this was where it started to feel like a mixture of two books I read earlier this year, Into the Water by Paula Hawkins and Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris. It appears that Matty is insecure and very controlling of his wife, though not to the shocking extent portrayed in Behind Closed Doors. It starts with Matty checking Lisa's phone while he thinks she's not watching, and then bullying her and even saying that she doesn't care about his feelings. For a while I wondered if the truth was that Lisa was just mentally ill and that Matty was just caring for her (it becomes clear though that Matty is just a jerk).

There were other characters too, and some of their stories eventually dovetailed together with other plotlines seen in the book, in ways that I did not expect, most notably the storyline involving a young man who Lisa observes in the station cafe, and follows along the street. The individual plotlines almost felt like separate stories in their own right.

I thought this book was okay, although when the truth about what happened to Lisa was revealed, it wasn't too surprising what happened - I was hoping for some unexpected plot twist.

The overall tone of this book is very bleak, with the large number of suicide references, but the final chapter was very enjoyable, and bittersweet, as it bought all of the storylines to a conclusion, in a very poignant manner. There was also a flash-forward, which proved to be quite satisfying, all caused by Lisa apparently having the ability to see into the future.

I'd probably read more novels by Louise Doughty.

Next book: Milkman by Anna Burns

Books 56-59

56. The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
The next installment (#5) in the Armand Gamache series. It’s Labo[u]r Day weekend in Three Pines, and the village is buzzing with activity. The discovery of dead body in the town bistro brings an end to the festive mood, and the mystery deepens when nobody seems to know who he is. Investigating the crime also means digging into the residents and their secrets, exploring the nearby Czech community, researching stolen antiquities, and meeting the latest newcomers who unintentionally(?) shake up some of the village’s complacency. Also, one of the residents faces a professional ethical dilemma that I think will reverberate in later installments. I’m still not completely sold on the way she writes all the characters, but the mystery is a little more solid in this one. Read 29 September-5 October.
57. Goldie Vance, Vol. 1 by Hope Larson & Brittney Williams
Nancy Drew meets Veronica Mars in this cute graphic novel about a teenager who helps find a necklace that was stolen from a room in the hotel where her father works. Fulfills Booked2019 prompt to read a graphic novel. (However, as I learned at the National Book Festival, graphic novels are not a genre but a medium.) Read 6 October.
58. Dog on It by Spencer Quinn
Chet is a dog of indeterminate breed who helps his human friend Bernie work cases and solve crimes. Usually they’re divorce cases, but the pair get embroiled in a missing persons case in which both partners face alarming peril from some obvious bad guys. The story is told entirely from Chet’s point of view, which is alternately charming and ridiculous. I like the dog, but not enough to continue with the series. Read 9-11 October.
59. Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers
I came across this title a few years ago when it was included on Amazon’s list of 100 mysteries and thrillers to read in a lifetime. Having read it, though, I’m a little surprised that it was included, mostly because it’s the 12th book of a long series, and I think I definitely missed something by not knowing the backstory of the two main characters, Harriett Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey. She attends her college’s “gaudy night” which is a kind of homecoming/reunion, and shenanigans ensue. It starts with nasty notes to Harriett and some of her fellow alumnae, and over the following months the mischief escalates to destruction of property and attacks on some of the students and faculty. She eventually asks for Peter’s help, and along the way their relationship evolves. Here’s where a deeper understanding of the backstory might have led to a more satisfying payoff, because overall I found the whole thing a little stuffy and stilted. So much talking! So many characters! Nevertheless I’m glad I read it, and it fulfills two reading challenge prompts: night-oriented and published before I was born. Read 7 September-16 October.

Book 77

Shades of Magic Vol. 1: The Steel PrinceShades of Magic Vol. 1: The Steel Prince by V.E. Schwab

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I found this at the library and thought it might be a graphic novel adaptation of Schwab's books but it's actually a prequel. I'm sure it would have made more sense had I read the books (so that's on me). I liked it, though there wasn't anything particularly original about the plot. Maxim is the crown prince and Dad thinks he needs to be taught a lesson so sends him to the ass end of the kingdom in a place to rough and tumble, it's likely to humiliate (if not kill) Maxim.

He is quickly discovered by Isra who is the military leader in this place and she, to her credit, isn't dismissive of Maxim. She does try to train him up because as she points out, he fights like a royal (i.e. more like a sparring match than a fight to the death) And to Maxim's credit, he takes this criticism and works to better himself.

Enter into this, a pirate queen who basically rules the city and Maxim isn't about to put up with her, leading to the action packed second half of this.

I wasn't that fond of the art in that it seems to vary chapter to chapter. (Is Maxim Hispanic descent? Middle Eastern? African? you can't quite tell because it varies). The art isn't ugly by any means, it's just not very even (something I've been saying for years in American comics versus manga for instance).

Where not knowing the books became a problem with this prequel is the magical worldbuilding is completely lacking. It's expected that you know it. Which okay, fair enough, that's my fault. It certainly makes me want to see more and to get those books.



View all my reviews

Book 20 - 2017

Book 20: The Unfu*kwithable Life: 7 Codes to Embrace Connection & Vulnerability For a Life of Inspiration & Freedom by Amber Hawken – 285 pages

Description from Goodreads.com:
The Unfu*kwithable Life encompasses seven codes, each containing punchy lessons to reveal the power of vulnerability to enhance your existence. It gives you the tools to live a remarkable life, with fierce determination, inner peace, and strength while streamlining comprehensive concepts into simple actions steps and heart-warming wisdom. As you connect with yourself, you will be empowered mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Using the paradox of crude wit and compassion, this book forces you to become uncomfortably honest with yourself, then gently guides you to a place where you can shatter the limits you’ve been clinging to for comfort. It’s designed to teach the greatest lessons of self mastery and spiritual philosophy, through humour and straight shooting advice. It will trigger a force deep inside of you, that’s here for a spectacular reason.
Whether you are a seasoned personal development addict or you prefer not to venture into 'self help-woo-woo-crap', The Unfu*kwithable Life, will provoke you to think much more deeply and profoundly about how you define yourself, happiness and success and ultimately challenge you to access your highest level of fulfillment.


Thoughts:
I probably knew 95% of this (though maybe not quite in the hokey way that Amber describes it) and I probably practice 75-80% of it, but I think it would be a good read for anyone who wants/needs to develop their self-awareness. Amber's writing style wasn't really for me, and I think this book is self-published because it was evident that a good edit is required, but for the right type of person it could be a very valuable book. I've got a few friends I wouldn't mind getting copies for, though they'd probably be insulted that I thought they needed the guidance!


20 / 50 books. 40% done!


8814 / 15000 pages. 59% done!

Currently reading:
- Without Remorse
by Tom Clancy – 750 pages
- Ten Big Ones
by Janet Evanovich – 312 pages
- Sun, Moon, Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets
by Tyler Nordgren – 226 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
- A Natural History of the Senses
by Diane Ackerman – 315 pages

Tags:

Book 19 - 2017

Book 19: Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance – 434 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
South African born Elon Musk is the renowned entrepreneur and innovator behind PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity. Musk wants to save our planet; he wants to send citizens into space, to form a colony on Mars; he wants to make money while doing these things; and he wants us all to know about it. He is the real-life inspiration for the Iron Man series of films starring Robert Downey Junior.
The personal tale of Musk's life comes with all the trappings one associates with a great, drama-filled story. He was a freakishly bright kid who was bullied brutally at school, and abused by his father. In the midst of these rough conditions, and the violence of apartheid South Africa, Musk still thrived academically and attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he paid his own way through school by turning his house into a club and throwing massive parties.
He started a pair of huge dot-com successes, including PayPal, which eBay acquired for $1.5 billion in 2002. Musk was forced out as CEO and so began his lost years in which he decided to go it alone and baffled friends by investing his fortune in rockets and electric cars. Meanwhile Musk's marriage disintegrated as his technological obsessions took over his life ...
Elon Musk is the Steve Jobs of the present and the future, and for the past twelve months, he has been shadowed by tech reporter, Ashlee Vance. Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of Spacex and Tesla is Shaping our Future is an important, exciting and intelligent account of the real-life Iron Man.


Thoughts:
I’m a huge fan of Musk - to me he’s the real life version of Iron Man: positively crazy but a total genius, prone to saying things he shouldn’t but undoubtedly with the best of intentions. A Tesla is my dream car, I have legitimately looked into putting a solar powered battery in my house, and as a space nerd, what SpaceX is doing for the industry gets me super excited. So reading this book about Musk’s life was a total pleasure. Vance has done a fabulous job bringing together Musk’s story, capturing how Musk came to be the man he is, craziness and all. Moreover, Vance breaks down Musk’s rationale for the work he does, the speed and insanity levels with which he does it, and Musk’s plans for the future. And it all makes perfect sense when that clarity is applied over the top of Musk’s eccentric public persona, ultimately redeeming him. Overall, this was a very enjoyable read that validated my fascination with Musk. Highly recommended!


19 / 50 books. 38% done!


8526 / 15000 pages. 57% done!

Currently reading:
- Without Remorse
by Tom Clancy – 750 pages
- The Unfu*kwithable Life: 7 Codes to Embrace Connection & Vulnerability For a Life of Inspiration & Freedom
by Amber Hawken – 285 pages
- Ten Big Ones
by Janet Evanovich – 312 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
- Sun, Moon, Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets
by Tyler Nordgren – 226 pages

Book 18 - 2017

Book 18: Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of the African American Women who helped win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly – 328 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Set amid the civil rights movement, the never-before-told true story of NASA's African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America's space program.
Before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of professionals worked as `Human Computers', calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements. Among these were a coterie of bright, talented African-American women. Segregated from their white counterparts, these `colored computers' used pencil and paper to write the equations that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.
Moving from World War II through NASA's golden age, touching on the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the women's rights movement, Hidden Figures interweaves a rich history of mankind's greatest adventure with the intimate stories of five courageous women whose work forever changed the world.


Thoughts:
I can’t remember if I read this book before or after I saw the film, but my reading lined up with the press around the film, and the increased focus on the numerous black women (well, women in general) involved with the space program. The book is not quite as engaging as the film, reading more along the lines of a standard non-fiction, but it provides a wonderful overview of the era, as well as the details of a number of the women’s lives (including the three famous ladies featured in the film). The race relations issues in the United States still baffle me to certain extent, and discussions around limiting the career opportunities of otherwise smart, ambitious people merely due to the colour of their skin will never not be weird to me. This book did a great job of outlining these issues without necessarily feeling angry (though of course, it would have every right to be, but it would take something away from just telling these women’s amazing stories). The hoops these women had to jump through were extraordinary, but they were obviously up to the task. If only, now in times somewhat improved, we could muster as much of the general public’s enthusiasm for the space program as we had back then.


18 / 50 books. 36% done!


8092 / 15000 pages. 54% done!

Currently reading:
- Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
by Ashlee Vance – 434 pages
- Without Remorse
by Tom Clancy – 750 pages
- The Unfu*kwithable Life: 7 Codes to Embrace Connection & Vulnerability For a Life of Inspiration & Freedom
by Amber Hawken – 285 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
- Ten Big Ones
by Janet Evanovich – 312 pages

Book 17 - 2017

Book 17: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty – 402 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Mother of three and wife of John-Paul, Cecilia discovers an old envelope in the attic. Written in her husband's hand, it says: to be opened only in the event of my death.
Curious, she opens it - and time stops.
John-Paul's letter confesses to a terrible mistake which, if revealed, would wreck their family as well as the lives of others.
Cecilia wants to do the right thing, but right for who?
If she protects her family by staying silent, the truth will worm through her heart. But if she reveals her husband's secret, she will hurt those she loves most . . .


Thoughts:
I loved Moriarty when I first discovered her a few years ago - an Australian writer writing decent, interesting novels that aren’t about the outback, or spend the entire time reminding you you’re in Australia, but still feel familiar for me in the right way - and I read everything she’d written at the time. I promptly forgot about her, and then rediscovered her when Big Little Lies came out. I decided I’d tackle another of her books after reading Big Little Lies. The ending in this one killed me - the idea of the child paying for the sins of the father, the future that was never to be, I almost cried. Cecilia discovers something about her husband she never could have expected, her husband suffers for a mistake barely his fault for most of his adult life, a mother wants revenge and a little girl pays. It’s an excellent novel, made real and honest and funny by Moriarty’s excellent story telling abilities. The story is set around Easter, and the beautiful juxtaposition of resurrection, the autumnal themes that surround that time here in Australia (I’ve seen reviews complain about this, noting that Easter is in Spring…if you’re in the other hemisphere!!!), work beautifully. It’s heartbreaking, but its an excellent book.


17 / 50 books. 34% done!


7764 / 15000 pages. 52% done!

Currently reading:
- Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of the African American Women who helped win the Space Race
by Margot Lee Shetterly – 328 pages
- Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
by Ashlee Vance – 434 pages
- Without Remorse
by Tom Clancy – 750 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
- The Unfu*kwithable Life: 7 Codes to Embrace Connection & Vulnerability For a Life of Inspiration & Freedom
by Amber Hawken – 285 pages

Books 75-76

Atelier of Witch Hat, Vol. 2 (Witch Hat Atelier, #2)Atelier of Witch Hat, Vol. 2 by Kamome Shirahama

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The art in this manga is jus lush, finely detailed and gorgeous. I'm still warming up to all the girls and some of the darkness that lurks in the background of this. For instance, anyone using magic without permission has their memories and magic taken from them, no trial, no defense, nothing. That sort of draconian society sets my back up.

Coco, by rights, should have had her memories taken but her mentor Qifrey has protected her. However, not all of his other three apprentices (all female) Agott especially is rather hard core against her with no patience for her (even though she was every bit as much responsible for why all four girls are lost and facing a dragon).

In the background we see the fringed hats, rogue mages, manipulating things with designs on Coco who might end up a Trojan horse. We meet a few others of Qifrey's crew and finally get some of Agott's background so we can understand why she's so impatient with Coco.

They're faced with a natural disaster that Agott is sure she can help with even though she's told she's not ready. Unfortunately for them the Knights Moralis (those who'll take your memories) also show up and with the mindlessness of the true believers prepare to strip the girls of their magic. So another cliffhanger ending.

Not all the girls are equally developed but it's only book two. Hopefully more world building and character building is to come. I do like this though. Not sure, however, how I feel about the Knights Moralis.



View all my reviews

Vinland Saga, Volume 8: Troubled WatersVinland Saga, Volume 8: Troubled Waters by Makoto Yukimura

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


It's been a while since I picked up this series. I got a little bored with the Thorfinn the farmer arc but that is now over and is now back home with his father's friend Lief and Thorfinn's ex-slave friend. But Thorfinn hasn't been home since he was about ten years old.

The bulk of this one still didn't grab me like the early series did (until the end). It sort of plods along as Lief is confronted with a young girl he knows who has always tried to stow away and see the world but now she's of marrying age and is slated for marriage to the spoiled son of a hard, vicious man who is basically the Viking equivalent of a loan shark.

Long story short, it shines an unpleasant light on the plight of women in that time period and by the end of it Thorfinn and Lief are in trouble especially when they need this man's help to gain the capital to fund a journey to Vinland (Canada) and are being dogged by the would-be husband.

It was interesting enough but not that exciting until the last chapter. Thorfinn has taken a vow of peace but when confronted with a bear that's challenged. Enter Hild, a scarred young woman who is a huntress and whose past is tangled up with Thorfinn's vicious one. It ends in a tense standoff.

I immediately liked Hild. I'll be interested in how this all shakes out. The art is very detailed and wonderful (has an excellent picture of Thorfinn and all his scars, it says a lot with no words).



View all my reviews

Book 73-74

ノラガミ 19 (Noragami: Stray God, #19)ノラガミ 19 by Adachitoka

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I am glad that the big heavens against Bishamon arc is over. It dragged on too long for my tastes. This volume is about picking up after that.

Things are still messy. Bishamon is out of commission. The Stray is inserting herself into Yukine's life. Hiyori and Yato have to face their feelings and how hopeless this might be. Yato, however, has bigger issues: dealing with his father.

There are some very good moments in this, very emotional ones, especially with Yato realizing that he wants to protect Yukine from this quest and depending on Hiyori's belief in him to keep him safe but she knows that she has forgotten him once before. She fears she is not enough and that was very touching.

As always the art in this is just gorgeous.



View all my reviews

ノラガミ 20 (Noragami: Stray God, #20)ノラガミ 20 by Adachitoka

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This one is so emotional. There isn't much I can say without spoiling it so I won't say much other than this arc is going to be bittersweet. To save Yukine, Yato has left him behind and is in search of another shiki to borrow (or turn stray) to help him. He burns bridges, he's rejected and finds help in a not-completely-unexpected place.

In the meantime we learn more about both the Stray (making her much more multi dimensional than she has been) and Kazuma. I can't wait to see more.

The art in this is as lovely as always.



View all my reviews


Number of pages: 420

The latest book by Irvine Welsh comes directly after his previous book, The Blade Artist, this time with Welsh returning to all four of his original characters. Only, this time the reader is told that one of them is going to die in this book.

At the start of the book, Renton meets Begbie on a plane; after the endings of previous books, you'd expect things not to go well, but the outcome is completely different than you might expect; Renton panics and locks himself in the bathroom, but Begbie starts acting nice, far from the psychopathic character from the earlier books.

From here, we find out what the characters are doing with their lives; Renton is managing DJs; Begbie is facing some repurcussions from the previous novel, which mostly involve him getting effectively stalked by a cop; Sick Boy is having to deal with the fact that his brother-in-law has been kicked out of the house; Spud is involved in illegal organ trading.

The plotlines gradually dovetail into each other, and the writing style is identical to that seen in most of the previous books, with several chapters narrated by the characters and written in a thick Scottish brogue, although this time around Irvine Welsh does set out who the narrator is each time, making the book slightly easier to follow.

Drugs also featured again, and this time Irvine Welsh chose to do something a bit different, so for all the trippy parts the style of the book changed from prose to graphic novel style. I quite liked the way he did this, as it was good as illustrating how the characters were seeing "lego dwarves". I was not sure if Irvine Welsh had done the illustrations himself, but the main characters even looked like the actors who portrayed them in the films.

I noticed there was the usual mixture of drama and blackly comedic moments; the funniest moment involved Spud on a train. I saw a quite negative review of this, but the only problem I had was that at times I could see the plot twists coming before they happened. It was quite easy to guess that Begbie would eventually turn violent (he does; this was too predictable).

As for the death, it was surprisingly underplayed; I wondered if I should feel cheated by this, but then I remembered that the death in the original book was handled in just the same way.

Thinking about it...

[Major Spoiler]

Considering that the character who gets bumped off is Spud, who is suddenly said to have died of a heart attack, after getting ill as a result of having one of his own kidneys removed, I probably wouldn't have wanted him to die in some unpleasant, violent manner. The way he got written out seemed about right.



I am not sure if Irvine Welsh intends to write another book; some things were left hanging, and I can certainly imagine a sequel being written, possibly focusing on one particular character (you'll probably guess which one when you get to the end).

Next book: Platform Seven (Louise Doughty)

Books 70-72

Bitter Roots (Bitter Root Mysteries, #1)Bitter Roots by C.J. Carmichael

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I wouldn't qualified this as a mystery per se, more suspense. It's more about the things that happen in a small town than anyone doing any sort of investigation which is a bit disconcerting to me. It felt more like a novel to introduce the town and the series than anything so that disappointed. But that aside, I liked the town and I liked Zak and Tiff.

Zak is a hometown guy underemployed as a police dispatcher for a sheriff who cares more about small town politics than doing police work and the only one gung-ho for policing is new hire Nadine. Tiff has moved back to Montana after her life collapsed and she comes back to the family Christmas tree farm with her aunt and mom, the latter of whom never recovered from the loss of her son and husband many years ago.

Only a young woman, RIley, has been murdered and she was working at the family farm. We have other story lines like her friend from high school, his wife and their new adopted baby or the lawyer, Justin, also freshly married to a woman with a young daughter to a mutual friends of theirs.

Now more time is spent on all that family life nonsense than anything else but if does eventually tie into the mystery. I liked the characters. I just wish there had been more investigating and less just falling into the answer at the end.



View all my reviews

Joys R UsJoys R Us by Kim Fielding

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is a sweet Christmas short story. Reece is a bit of a stuffy financial analyst who thinks the perfect Christmas gift for his sister's young son is money in the kid's college fund. His sis has other ideas and sends him to camp out at the local toy store so he can be first in line to get the in-toy for the season.

What Reece gets is trampled and he meets the store manager, Angel, who is put out by Reece's cynicism and takes it on himself to show Reece the true meaning of Christmas. Angel is a doll and he's just what poor Reece needs. It's a nice slice of holiday for those who like Christmas romance.



View all my reviews


The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate, #1)The Black Tides of Heaven by J.Y. Yang

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was a collection of four time periods into a novella detailing the lives of Mokoya and Akeha, twin children of the Empress from before they were born (and why, i.e. their very controlling mother's machinations). This world has an Asian feel to it. If I had a complaint about this world is that the world building comes in little chunks with each time jump and constrained by the novella length. The interesting aspects include the fact that these people raise their children non-binary and the child picks their gender later. Where the world building gets fuzzy is, it seems that they're almost magically kept non-gendered and then are sculpted into their desired gender but others seem to be transgendered either unable/unwilling to have it magically changed. I didn't think it was entirely clear. THe magic itself is a bit unclear. It seems to have an elemental aspect but it's not until the fourth section that we learn that there is a rebellion against it and the Empress because magic is held by the elite and very little technology exists because magic does all of that for them.

When Mokoya and Akeha are children being raised at the monastery away from their cold mother Mokoya develops the rare gift of prophecy which of course gets their mother's attention. She wants Mokoya back. Akeha is just 'the spare' not worth the Empress's attention.

In the third section the twins are now teens, ready to chose their genders (though I actually expected Akeha to remain non-binary and was surprised when they did not). THe twins, once always together are now torn apart by new loves, new lives but I was a bit surprised by the fourth time period.

Akeha has been living for some time now as a smuggler, brought into the rebellion by a love of their own only to find themselves facing off with both their mother and their twin who is about to face tragedy of their own.

It's a very interesting world but a dark one. Not quite Grimdark but like the LoTR there is some pretty unrelenting dark for the characters and the end is far from happy.



View all my reviews

Books 54 and 55

54. Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
A fun story set in Jazz Age Mexico. Caseopia Tun, a poor young relation in a wealthy family, inadvertently releases the Mayan god of death from imprisonment in a trunk at the foot of her grandfather’s bed. She then needs to help him regain his throne, and an intriguing tale unwinds from there. Beautiful cover. Fulfills Mexico/Central America own-voices Read Harder Challenge task. New in 2019. Read 4-12 September.
55. Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
A cli-fi story with supernatural elements set in Navajo Country, which survived the cataclysmic “Big Water” event and is now thriving, after a fashion. Monster hunter Maggie Hoskie sets out on a task – one is reluctant to call it a quest – that brings her into contact with old mentors, some old nemeses, and some new associates whose loyalties and abilities are to be determined. She’s a bit two-dimensional, and the dialogue is at times awkward, but the story is interesting enough that I will continue with the series. Read 14-25 September.

Books 31 - 40.

31. Roy - The God Of Small Things
Didn't like this very much; the writing was hard to keep reading.

32. Burrows - Guidelines For Mystical Prayer
Not afraid of being critical of some of the Carmelite saints' views on mystical prayer, this book gave a deep insight to it anyway, with a pictures of three connected islands.

33. Odell - How To Do Nothing: Resisting The Attention Economy
Surprisingly deep book on how to keep some detachment on modern life, to be yourself.

34. Fujii - The Enlightened Kitchen: Fresh Vegetable Dishes From The Temples Of Japan
Beautiful pictures, delicious food, would've liked more...

35. Moshfegh - My Year Of Rest & Relaxation
How much can you write about someone spending a year on pills, finding themselves and recovering on the way. The side characters keep the story lively, and help the main character to find her way over a life crisis.

36. Day - The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography Of The Legendary Catholic Social Activist
Although she lived many years after this book, this is still a great autobiography on how she became what she became, and what her social movement was and is about.

37. Lahiri - Unaccustomed Earth
Relationship stories, heartwarming, heartbreaking and stinging, yet worth it.

38. Mann - Secrets From The Eating Lab: The Science Of Weight Loss, The Myth Of Willpower, & Why You Should Never Diet Again
Some familiar things, of course, if you've kept reading books on food health, but still brought up some new stuff also.

39. Toomey - The Saffron Road: A Journey With Buddha's Daughters
You don't often hear much of the nun side of Buddhist life, but this book brings in all the variety, the obstacles and triumphs, of nuns' lives from around the world.

40. M.Mary Francis - A Right To Be Merry
Surprisingly cheerful account of Colettine Poor Clares community in Roswell, New Mexico in 1940s and 1950s, with an introduction/epilogue of how things have gone afterwards. Helps you to become familiar with their world, and answers some questions you might have, too.


Number of pages: 400

This is the fourth book in the Millennium series, and the first not written by Stieg Larsson. After the previous two books effectively formed a two-part narrative, this one more or less opens with a blank slate. Millennium Magazine is failing; Mikael Blomqvist and Lisbeth Salander haven't seen each other in some time, though they do start communicating through his computer, just like in the previous few books (Blomkvist writes messages on his computer, which Salander accesses using her hacking skills).

The main plot starts with a tech company having huge amounts of software stolen from them, apparently by Lisbeth Salander herself. The head of the tech company also has an autistic son, who he realises is an "idiot savant" (basically, similar to the title character in Rain Man) and has an amazing photographic memory, which allows him to draw things he has seen in meticulous detail.

Inevitably there is a murder, and I won't spoil here who gets bumped off, and strangely, the reader is told exactly who did it.

Unfortunately, it's after the murder that the story becomes a little too bland and predictable; the pace slows down and it heads towards a conclusion that is largely predictable. This book is shorter than the first three, and the lack of plot compared to its predecessors is noticeable.

There were two main problems I had with this, other than the fact that the pace just got too slow; first off, there was a large amount of exposition about two thirds of the way in, all about Lisbeth Salander's past; I wasn't sure how much of it had not been explored before by Stieg Larsson, but having it thrust at me in less than bitesize chunks was a little annoying.

Secondly, one of the ways in which the book pads the action out is that at times it jumps back in the timeline, to tell the same events from another point of view, similar to the type of narration I've seen in books by Wilkie Collins, but it often didn't add much to the book. It was a narrative device that I don't recall seeing used in the first three books.

There were a few other minor issues, like already named character suddenly being called things like "the woman" in the narrative, and the occasional recapping on the events of the first few books.

Apart from these issues, the narrative wasn't awful though, and the characters were at least written in a way that seemed true to them, particularly Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, showing that David Lagercrantz had done a good job of carefully reading the original three books. However, this is easily my least favourite title in the series so far.

Next book: Dean Men's Trousers (Irvine Welsh)

books 67-69

Snow, Glass, ApplesSnow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is an amazing retelling of Snow White by Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran. I have been in love with Doran's art since the 80s and I discovered A Distant Soil. This is not your happy fairytale and frankly, the real fairytales were never happy until the Victorians cleaned them up. But the real twist here is Snow White and the Queen's roles aren't what we're expecting. It's not spoilery to say this as it's in the blurb but the Queen isn't an evil witch (though she is a spellcaster) and Snow isn't a sweet innocent victim. She's a vampiric monster.

This creepy retelling is from the Queen's point of view as she tries to preserve her queendom from the danger Snow represents because once banished to the woods (heart cut out) the fae folk begin to disappear. Something must be done and the story dances to the inevitable terrible ending.

Gaiman doesn't soft shoe Prince Charming either. If you think about it, some random prince wandering the woods finds a dead girl in a glass coffin and kisses her (in the older tales he has sex with her but that got cleaned up) is creepy and weird as hell. He should have been known as Prince Necrophiliac and that's exactly what Gaiman makes him.

Doran's art is lush and just plain gorgeous and spine-chilling at the same time. This is just a wonderful graphic novel. Oh word of warning to those who still think graphic novels are only for kids, there is a crap ton of sex in this, lots of naked butts, breasts and no denying what's going on.



View all my reviews

BLACK TORCH 1 (BLACK TORCH, #1)BLACK TORCH 1 by Tsuyoshi Takaki

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I wanted to love this one. I mean Jirou Azuma is a fascinating character. He's from a long line of shinobis and he can talk to animals. He's a nice guy too, standing up to bullies wherever he finds them even protecting strangers. It's this that gets him into trouble. He ends up in a fight with a mononoke (a spirit creature) and winds being bonded to Rago another mononoke.

This brings him to the attention of a secret government group, Bureau of Espionage, and part of the team wants him dead/arrested and the others want him as part of the group because he can talk to the spirits.

And this is where is goes off the rails for me a bit. For one we get an uber bitchy tsundere character and she hates Jirou to the point of idiocy. It literally gets in the way of her job. I couldn't stand Ichika Kishimojin. She really annoyed me and the art, which is otherwise great really becomes juvenile with her. Now they all have this weird leather shoulder protectors on belts over their chest but in her case, naturally it does nothing but showcases her enormous tits. And she's the ONLY one in short shorts with up skirt shots. Have we not grown out of this 'only boys read manga/comic' Her costume is cringeworthy.

I'm not sure I'll read more. I liked it but I'm not sure I'm up to paying so much per volume for it.



View all my reviews

クイーンズ・クオリティ 2 (Queen's Quality, #2)クイーンズ・クオリティ 2 by Kyousuke Motomi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I don't read a lot of shojo. Heavy romantic subplots and men riding to the rescue aren't my thing. To be fair, QQ only has a little of the latter. Fumi does pull her own weight and is fairly self rescuing and it is part of Kyutaro's job is to keep Fumi, as a potential queen, safe.

Fumi's had a hard life, basically homeless until meeting Kyutaro's family of cleaners (of the supernatural infestations that cause mental issues like depression, and other definable mental illnesses) She cleans house for them to help earn her keep and works as a cleaner with Kyu. So this opens with her doing the ritual to claim her supernatural tool and I had to eye roll hard at what she ends up with. (I think it's meant to be funny. For me that's a miss)

The main storyline with a severe infestation and someone a) working against Fumi and Kyu and b) trying to turn Fumi into a black queen (i.e. evil) is interesting and there are some really good twists in this. The art is very nice and the storyline is good. That said, I'm not sure it's really one I want to keep buying.



View all my reviews

Profile

windowseat
50bookchallenge
50bookchallenge

Latest Month

November 2019
S M T W T F S
     12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930

Tags

Syndicate

RSS Atom
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow