May 13th, 2012

Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

Busy as the day might have been, yesterday I also finished reading Illegally Dead by David Wishart, a mystery set in the ancient Roman Empire. Convoluted. It's part of a long-running series, and the characters are well-defined. I found it a very nice read.
flower

(no subject)

Title: The Handmade Markletplace: How to Sell Your Crafts, Locally, Globally, and Online
Author: Kari Chapin
Themes/Topics: Crafting, Small Business, Marketing

As I recently started helping my friend as the manager of her candle company, I am looking for tips to make the business the best it can be. I borrowed this book from another crafter and found it to be incredibly helpful. Some of the information didn't apply, as I'm not doing the crafting and some portions of the business myself, but I found a lot of great tips for publicity and marketing that I wouldn't have thought of myself, being new to the field.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

flower

Book 14

Title: A Red Herring without Mustard (Flavia de Luce #3)
Author: Alan Bradley
Topics/Themes:
To borrow from the book jacket, Flavia de Luce is a "Nancy Drew" filled with vim and vinegar. If you like mysteries and strong feisty young heroines, pick up this series TODAY! This is the third in the series and each is as good as, if not better than, the one before.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

flower

Book 15

Title: Dead to the World
Author: Charlaine Harris
Topics/Themes: Vampires, Supernatural, Mystery

Yet another addictive exciting book by Harris. I thought some of the plot points were a little out of left field, but ant wait to read the next one! A fun series, especially for summer.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

anemone
  • cat63

Book 26 for 2012

Skulduggery Pleasant - Death Bringer by Derek Landy. 603 pages.

Book six in this series, so as tends to happen, it's getting a bit difficult to say much about the plot without spoilers for previous books.

Another outing for the Skeleton detective and his teenage sidekick. laced with wisecracking humour but with some serious issues in there too. Some of the plot threads from earlier books are resolved, others continued and new ones started.

This series seems to be getting better with each book and I'm looking forward to the next one.

Wicked

Wicked
by Gregory McGuire

Well, I finished this book. Unfortunately that is about the best thing I can say about this book right now. I was very excited to read this book I am still excited to see the musical but I will not be finishing the series. I had such high hopes and continued to have hopes throughout the book which only goes to show how foolish I am. There was no character development and while I don't mind when authors kill their characters it seems dumb to kill someone you don't really care about and that seemed to happen over and over and over again. Oh someone died, I don't care move on lets just get through this. If I hadn't been reading this with a friend I never would have finished at all. I can not recommend this book and maybe I just really missed the point if you want to defend it I am willing to hear it and give the book a second chance but right now was just a disappointment and a waste of my time. The plot plodded along a few interesting ideas were suggested but were never realized.
Labyrinth: Jareth Eyes

Book 5 - Tick Tock by James Patterson

This is the first Michael Bennett book I’ve read. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the Alex Cross book by the same author, I didn’t find the lead character too endearing. E.g. he is messing around with the nanny, but then invites another agent to come over, knowing he’s interested in her. Fair enough, in the end he doesn’t do anything about it, but why bother? Also, I wasn’t that into reading about his domestic life, with his 10 adopted children, it just dragged out. The action parts were well written enough.
There’s a killer out there mimicking past serial killers in a bid to complete a list compiled by a very rich, dying benefactor, and it’s up to Michael Bennett to find his motivation and him before he himself becomes a victim of the madman.

Not bad, not brilliant.

MY RATING: 3/5
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book and cup

#51 Family Roundabout - Richmal Compton (1948)

A lovely Persephone book.

The anticipation of opening a new Persephone is always a big part of the pleasure of reading one of these beautiful books. Luckily though I can generally be very confident of loving what is inside too, and certainly within a few sentences of starting this book I knew I loved it.

The story centres on the fortunes of two families in the years between WW1 and WW2 – the Fowler and the Willoughby families are the two principle families in Bellington. The Fowlers are an old genteel family, while the Willoughby’s owners of a local paper mill are the considerably wealthy new money. Both Mrs Fowler and Mrs Willoughby are widows, the parents of now adult children, they are rather different women. As the story starts the two families become united by the marriage of Helen Fowler and Max Willoughby. Mrs Willoughby is a deeply controlling woman, she holds sway over everything, from the mill itself to her grandchildren’s schooling. Her new daughter-in-law fits right in immediately proving to be very like Mrs Willoughby. Helen’s sister Anice marries a bookshop owner – a not very successful one at that – and as the years pass is driven to bitter envies of Helen, which affect her marriage and the relationships between her husband and their children. Peter Fowler is married to the spiteful vengeful Belle, beautiful and downright nasty – Peter is soon looking elsewhere. When the eldest Fowler Matthew returns from abroad he too falls under the spell of Belle. Oliver Willoughby has fallen for the youngest Fowler – Judy, while Cynthia Willoughby, Judy’s close friend since childhood has begun to write letters to an author she admires from afar. 

The years pass and these relationships change and develop, children are born and grow up and Mrs Fowler and Mrs Willoughby too begin to age. Yet they are the witnesses to the continuing roundabout of family life, the same problems and mistakes being visited upon each generation. The characters are beautifully drawn and their relationships often painful.

I do love books like this that examine family members in detail, recreating the domestic situations and concerns of people from the inter war years. Persephone publishes a lot of novels like this – and that is why I love Persephone books.  Yet when it comes to describing the book to someone else I find it is very difficult to do it justice. Richmal Crompton has created a world that is still very recognisable, the women are very strong and not always likeable, and the men are much weaker. The world is changing and as the young want to move with the times, or even move away from the suffocating little world of Bellington, the older generation like Mrs Willoughby are more resistant.  There is a lovely timelessness to this novel – and it is surprising perhaps that it is such a page turner. 

raven

Book 51: The Jefferson Key by Steve Berry

Book 51: The Jefferson Key (Cotton Malone #7) .
Author: Steve Berry, 2011
Genre: Action/Adventure. Conspiracy Thriller
Other Details: Hardback. 480 pages.

Former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone has been asked by Stephanie Nell, the head of his old unit, to come to New York. So he and Cassiopeia Vitt leave Denmark and plan to have a luxury mini-break in the Big Apple. However, Cotton hardly has a chance to unpack before he finds himself caught up in an attempt on President Danny Daniels life. The Commonwealth, a secret society of pirates first formed during the American Revolution, is the shadowy group behind the assassination attempt and it appears not to be the only time they've sought to eliminate Presidents who thwart their plans..

Also involved is Jonathan Wyatt, a rogue agent holding a grudge against Cotton and happy to see him implicated in the assassination attempt. Then there is the duplicitous head of a US intelligence agency, who seems happy to double-cross everyone to achieve her own ends. At the heart of the novel is a cipher created by Thomas Jefferson that will provide the key to the location of a centuries old document that the Commonwealth have been seeking since the time of Andrew Jackson's presidency.

This latest in the series departed from the former ones by being set on US soil. It involved a great deal of spy vs. spy (vs. pirates) shenanigans and I did contemplate keeping a scorecard as to who was currently betraying who and serving as double or triple agents. While I enjoyed this as I have all the Cotton Malone novels, I did feel that the pacing was somewhat off. Berry kept cutting from one tense situation to another, sometimes having a scene of only a few lines, and often this just felt too choppy. The quick-fire jumping about actually decreased the tension in some scenes.

Still the novel was great fun and very hard to put down. As always I appreciated Berry's closing notes in which he explained what was fact in terms of locations and historical events and what was fiction and/or dramatic licence. There was also a fair amount of information about pirates and privateers in the story. Fascinating stuff and by coincidence a couple of days after I finished reading there was a sketch on CBBC's Horrible Histories featuring pirates that echoed some of the same historical background.

My only minor quibble was that there was no mention by author or publisher that there had been a short story, The Devil's Gold, issued as an ebook that introduced Jonathan Wyatt and gave more details of the past relationship with Cotton Malone when they were both active federal agents. Apparently the US paperback edition did contain this short story as bonus material.

Steve Berry's Jefferson Key Page - includes link to excerpt.
book

Some Red King's Comics Under Woman

Red on Red, by Edward Conlon
It took me a while to get used to the very discursive style of this cop novel; I kept wanting to cut sentences. But once I adjusted, I fell in love. Dickensian: wry, compassionate.
(93)

Best American Comics 2011, edited by Alison Bechdel, Jessica Abel, and Matt Madden
A mixed bag and a delightful experience, as it is every year.
(94)

The King's Name, by Jo Walton
Had trouble putting this one down, ended up finishing it in one day (and a work day at that). Also, I love the bits and pieces of history and poetry in these tales.
(95)

Some of the Best of Tor.com 2011, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Liz Gorinsky (nook, free)
I'd read some of these stories before, and was mostly curious about how well the ebook would be designed. It was lovely - proper format, no dumb weirdnesses, and some elegant touches I haven't often seen. The stories I hadn't read ranged from decent to "husband pestering me to get out of the car already and me insisting that I needed to finish this story first."
(96)

The Demon Under the Microscope, by Thomas Hager
In-depth story of the various sulfa drug discoveries and their discoverers, in the 20s and 30s. I liked it, and the material is fascinating, but some chapters were a lot more interesting than others. Not necessarily the ones you'd expect, either - I was totally caught up by the stuff about IG Farben's formation and early business model, and much less interested by the stuff about the beginning of WW2.
(97)

A Dangerous Woman, by Sharon Rudahl with Paul Buhle and Alice Wexler
A graphic biography of Emma Goldman, drawing heavily from her own writings and letters, and those of her contemporaries. Really well done, if the teensiest bit hagiographical. It whetted my appetite more for reading Goldman's autobiography than it did for reading the author's other comics - but I'm okay with that.
(98)
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work? hyperbole

Book #8: Useful Work vs. Useless Toil by William Morris

Title: Useful Work vs. Useless Toil
Author/Illustrator: William Morris
Genre: Political Philosophy
Publisher: Penguin (Great Ideas imprint)


Visionary English Socialist and pioneer of the Arts and Crafts movement, William Morris argued that all work should be a source of pride and satisfaction, and that everyone should be entitled to beautiful surroundings – no matter what their class.


This was a collection of three essays – the titular Useful Work vs. Useless Toil, Gothic Architecture, and How I Became A Socialist.

The first work is the longest and outlined the changes he felt had to be made in the attitude towards work/labour. The goal of those changes would be to help create an ideal society, one in which people enjoyed doing what they did and produced goods/services that were useful.

The second is a slightly shorter essay. It’s a piece about architectural history as well as a critique of certain styles. It’s about notions of beauty and how the past can influence the present in art forms, particularly architecture. I think it’s also at least a little (it’s been a while since I read it) about beauty vs. utility.

The third essay is a concise and to-the-point piece about the author’s political views and how and why he modified them when he felt he had to.

I took this from the library because I was intrigued by both the title and the little blurb, such as it was (the same one in italics above). Glancing at his Wikipedia entry, among other sites, it looks like Morris was an interesting figure and someone I may read more of.