November 24th, 2011

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Books 120-121: Blotto & Twinks and the Rodents of the Riviera and The Ruler of the Realm

Book 120: Blotto & Twinks and the Rodents of the Riviera .
Author: Simon Brett, 2011
Genre: Cozy Mystery. Thriller. Parody. 1920s.
Other Details: Hardback. 200 pages.

While giving a guided tour of Tawcester Towers' Long Gallery Blotto is stunned to discover that two of the family portraits - a Gainsborough and a Reynolds - are missing. Blotto immediately summons his brilliant sister Twinks, who instantly deduces that the paintings have been stolen by a gang of international art thieves based in Paris. So Blotto and Twinks set off for France. Their investigations in Paris bring them into contact with the absinthe-soaked art community of the Rive Gauche though after an attempt on Blotto's life they move on the French Riviera on the trail of the criminal mastermind behind the thefts.

More silliness with Blotto & Twinks! Naturally as they are in France there are plenty of jokes aimed at the French. The modern art scene of the period and the 'Lost Generation' of intellectual Americans in 1920s France are also targets. I adore this witty, playful series which is a broad parody of the Golden Age Detective Fiction and upper class comedies of manners. I probably appreciated that latter aspect more this time after encountering Nancy Mitford's novels for the first time recently.

Book 121: The Ruler of the Realm (Faerie Wars Chronicles 03) .
Author: Herbie Brennan, 2006.
Genre: Contemporary YA Fantasy. Faerie.
Other Details: Unabridged Audio; Length: 11 hours, 20 mins. Narrated by James Daniel Wilson.

This novel chronicles Henry's third visit to the Faerie Realm, where Princess Holly Blue is now Ruler of the Realm. Lord Hairstreak, who has been the chief baddie in the earlier books, appears to be proposing a truce between the Faeries of the Night and the Faeries of the Light and Holly Blue must consider this as one of her first political tests. Meanwhile, her brother Prince Pyrgus has stumbled across some mysterious crystal flowers that may be a secret weapon. there are also rumours of a demon invasion led by Beleth, the Prince of Darkness.

I've been continuing with this series as my audiobook in the car for the last month. I felt this third outing was a little less confident in its pacing and wandered a little but was still good fun. The short chapter format was very well suited for short car trips. I was a little thrown off by the change in narrators from Gerald Doyle to James Daniel Wilson, especially as he decided to pronounce Prince Pyrgus' name differently to Doyle, which bugged me to no end for a while. Still, he had a wide range of character voices, which he used to good effect especially the humorous ones. He obviously had great fun with the reading and that was infectious..

Books 41 - 50.

41. Matheson - I Am Legend
I haven't seen the film, but I'm pretty sure the book is my preferred version :)

42. Pope Benedict XVI - Jesus Of Nazareth Pt.2: Holy Week...
It was great to find something new, things that I hadn't realised before, about this telling of the story; inspiring too.

43. Abensur - The Cranks Bible
Very good cookbook with delicious-looking photos.

44. Gaiman - American Gods (Author's Preferred Text)
45. Gaiman - Anansi Boys
I have some years earlier read the former part of the way; both books were really good.

46. Kelley - Great Books Of Domino Games
I'm not sure how I got interested in domino games, but anyway, this book was easy to understand and while I don't yet own any dominos I'm pretty sure I can play at least some games mentioned here (including the solo ones). A small but perfect book.

47. Borges - The Book Of Imaginary Beings (English translation)
Very entertaining and definitely not too long, and makes me want to read more on some of the creatures mentioned. <3

48. Rotelle (ed.) - Little Office Of The Blessed Virgin Mary
A very simple program, a bit repetitive but no doubt useable.

49. Jung - The Undiscovered Self
The most impressive of the bunch here, gave me a lot to think about myself and other people, and what religion can be.

50. Brite - Antediluvian Tales
This felt like some lovely and comforting home-made food; it feels like a perfect read for the present season we're in. <3
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    Pink Floyd - "Comfortably Numb"
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Shining Summer of Two Other Physics Brothers

The Summer of Permanent Wants, by Jamieson Findlay
Gently but firmly surreal throughout. Perfect for my inner 11-year-old.
(194/200, 111/100)

Astro City: Shining Stars, and Astro City: The Dark Age Book 2: Brothers in Arms, by Kurt Busiek et al
Shining Stars was brilliant, Brothers in Arms was quite good. I think the main difference is that I like solo/team superheroes better than mega-organizations of superheroes (and supervillains)... I wanted lots more Street Angel and way less Pyramid even though I understand what they were doing and why they did it that way.
(195/200, 112/100; 196/200, 113/100)

Mothers and Other Monsters by Maureen McHugh (nook)
Maureen McHugh is the bomb, always. My favorite story in this set is about a woman, her dog, another dog, its owner, and the woman's invisible friend; she has a genius for making bizarre setups seem completely naturalistic - the great art of seeming artless. I think I prefer her novels to her short stories, but I'm stilling looking forward to reading the new volume of short stories she just published.
(197/200, 114/100)

Two Times Intro: On the Road with Patti Smith, by Michael Stipe
If you are as fascinated by Patti Smith as I am, and/or you enjoy blurry black-and-white photographs with tons of heart, you should find this book. Pleased Akashic reissued it, so I could find out about it: I was only 18 when it came out the first time.

Art & Physics, by Leonard Shlain
Perhaps as a teenager, you knew an adult who was decidedly brilliant and thoroughly educated but kind of kooky, and that adult liked to tell anyone who would listen (including you) all about their articulate, fascinating insights and their wacky, misconceived theories and had no sense whatsoever of the differences between the two. If so, then you, like me, will find the experience of this book weirdly familiar. There is some absolutely amazing stuff in here, but you have to be really patient to read the entire book. Or at least I had to be.
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