July 3rd, 2012


Books #25 & 26

Book #25 was "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley, as a free audiobook from librivox.org. I tried reading this in college when taking a course on the Romantics but it was such slow going at first with the letters, and the story-within-a-story format that I just got bored and frustrated and put it down only 30 or 40 pages in. I have found that some "classics" I can't manage to read in traditional form are easier as audiobooks, and that was the case here. Though the book did start slowly, it picked up momentum. My favorite part is when the monster gets to tell his own version of things. Also, a note on librivox: I do appreciate the concept, but some readers are much, much better than others. That was a frustration in some chapters, while other chapters were a joy to listen to. If I was going to do it again, I'd listen to a version with a professional reader.

Book #26 was "Empty Cradle: The Untimely Death of Corey Sanderson" by Emmy Jackson. I've read several really, really good books by self-publishers or tiny presses, and it's making me re-assess my instinct to sneer at self-publishing. This is a really good case in point. The book is self-published by a friendly acquaintance who makes a living from writing non-fiction, so I knew the basics of grammar and organization would be good, but it also has complicated, realistic characters, fast pacing, exciting conflicts, well-drawn scenes and just about anything else you could ask for in a blockbuster novel. The story takes place in an apocalyptic near future where many women have been rendered infertile by a mysterious disease called "Empty Cradle." The main character, Ivy, is a scavenger who is looking for her long-lost twin, and she brings several fellow travelers with her on a cross-country trip. I had a few small criticisms of the book, including the fact that the headline telegraphs a major plot point in advance, but overall, I really liked it and am looking forward to picking up the sequel; the author is planning a trilogy set in the same universe.

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exotic, turkish woman

Book 86: An Evil Eye by Jason Goodwin

Book 86: An Evil Eye (Yashim the Eunuch #4).
Author: Jason Goodwin, 2011.
Genre: Historical Murder Mystery. 19th Century Turkey.
Other Details: Hardback. 304 pages.

Set in 1839, a year earlier than the events of The Bellini Card, this fourth novel featuring Ottoman investigator Yashim the Eunuch deals with the political situation in Istanbul following the death of Sultan Mahmut II and the elevation of his 16-year old son, Abdulmecid. During this period of transition there is much turmoil, especially in the harem as the women of the old sultan are forced to retire to Eski Saray, the Palace of Tears, to make way for Abdulmecid's women. There is a great deal of intrigue behind these closed doors and Yashim, as one of the only men allowed within the harem, is called in to assist. However, when some of the women fall victim to a mysterious illness his skills as a detective are also called upon.

He also has sleuthing to do outside the palace when the body of a man bearing a strange tattoo is found in a monastery well. Yashim's friend, the Polish ambassador Stanislaw Palewski, who serves as Watson to Yashim's Holmes, identifies the tattoo as indicating membership in a secret Russian organisation. This highlights the tense political situation facing the declining Ottoman Empire during this period. Yashim's past is also stirred up when he learns that his former mentor, Fevzi Ahmed, commander of the Ottoman fleet had defected to Egypt and handed over the entire fleet to them leaving Istanbul defenceless.

While I enjoyed this as I have done all in the series, I have to admit that given the complicated politics it demanded close attention to keep abreast of plot and characters. Also, with such a gap between this and #3 in the series, which I had read in 2009, I found I had rather lost touch with the language of the Ottoman court, so it took a little while for me to get back into the flow.

As always Jason Goodwin does a superb job with the setting and the rich historical detail seamlessly blending fact and fiction. He provides fascinating insight into the day-to-day life of the harem anchored in fact rather than the Orientalist fantasies of 19th century artists and writers. Also, included are more of Yashim's recipes, described in mouth-watering detail.
  • krinek

17. Native Tongue by Carl Hiassen

Title: Native Tongue
Author: Carl Hiassen
Publisher: Fawcett Crest
Year: 1991
# of pages: 407
Date Read; 4/18/2012
Rating: 3*/5 = good


"Who stole the voles? Yes, it's true. The precious blue-tongued mango voles at the Amazing Kingdom of Thrills in North Key Largo are gone, stolen by heartless, ruthless thugs with much bigger - and deadlier - things in mind.

Joe Winder wants to uncover those "things" and find the voles. Winder is a burned-out ex-muckraking reporter now working for the Amazing Kingdom theme park as their PR man. But now the voles are gone, and Winder is dragged along in their wake through a series of weird and lethal events that begin with the sleazy real-estate agent/villain Francis X. Kingsbury and can end only one way. And Winder has no idea what way that will be. Until its damn near too late." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this off-beat book about crooked developers, bungling crooks, and amusement parks.
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

Wow, did I clear the shelves a bit over the last day or so!

First one that I finished was The Ramage Companion by Grundner; it's a compendium of information to make a nautical series of books written about the Napoleonic era more understandable. The author of the Ramage series wrote 18 books in that saga, but he died in 1997, so there will be no others. I liked those books, and I like this particular form of fiction, so this companion was, to me, a rather good read.

Next was Royko in Love, which the University of Chicago Press offered in June as a free ebook to read with Adobe Digital Editions. This was the first book I've read completely on my desktop computer. It's a series of love letters that columnist Mike Royko wrote to his future wife while he was serving in the USAF in the mid-50s. They were gathered by, edited by, and explained by Royko's son. For those of us who grew up in Chicago, reading his columns, or who read his book Boss about Chicago politics and the first Mayor Daley, these might be interesting; you can see his style growing. For those who don't have that history, I don't think this will be your cup of tea.

Then, a little while ago, I finished reading another historical mystery by Paul Doherty, called The Mysterium, set in the England of Edward I. I found it to really move along after about chapter two. I've read a lot of this author's works, and generally enjoyed them, but this particular series, among his many, seems like it's sputtering out.

11 - Life Unexpected by Nariko_D

Yet another Torchwood fanfiction as I continue to work my way through Stone of Farewell. Set after the end of series 2 of Torchwood and The Stolen Earth/Journey's End (Series 4 finale of Doctor Who), but before the beginning of Children of Earth, Collapse )
Almost done with Stone of Farewell (Memory, Sorrow and Thorn book #2), should be able to review it within the next week or so. Then on to Wind Through the Keyhole :)