July 6th, 2014

Dead Dog Cat

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While waiting for our show to start at Anime Expo, I finished reading a couple of graphic novels. Seemed like the right place to read such things...

Anyway, first was Before Watchmen: Ozymandius * Crimson Corsair; in this prequel to Watchmen, Ozymandius is a self-absorbed sociopath with delusions of grandeur, and even in the original book I found the pirate material uncomfortable; this was even more so. It was a fair spinoff at best.

Next was Usagi Yojimbo Volume 28: The Red Scorpion; I've enjoyed this series for most of its thirty years and this one is as good as they've all been. The quality has kept up the whole time. Forward by George Takei, if that's something that would amuse you.

Book #1 The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden - Jonas Jonasson

An adventure featuring a non-existent twin who exists, and a fugitive atomic bomb that also doesn't exist--but weighs three megatons and is fairly difficult to hide. The protagonist is Nombeko, who at the start of the novel is fourteen and cleaning latrines in Soweto. It is the seventies, and apartheid is the social, political and economic reality that rules Nombeko’s life, and yet she makes the best of the situation, and ultimately saves the world. With Nombeko we travel from 1970's South Africa to 21st century Sweden.

Jonasson has created a captivating group of characters as well as an engaging plot that made this an entertaining and easy read. Nombeko is a self-taught mathematical genius who lives by her wits and cunning. Then there are the twins in Sweden, Holger One and Holger Two, only one of whom official exists. For reasons known only to himself when the twins are born their father decides only to register one of them. .The twins are born to a fanatical republican who is determined to eradicate the monarchy, a belief that Holger One learns to share. Of course our twins and Nombeko cross paths.

One of the best parts of the novel is when Nombeko is forced into indentured servitude. She is run over by the drunk and moronic engineer, Westhuizen, in Johannesburg after a long journey on foot from Soweto (she was hoping to make it to the National Library of Pretoria). The judge decided in favour of the engineer, a man who only graduated as an engineer due to nepotism and cheating. Obviously he is the perfect man to be in charge of South Africa’s nuclear weapons program. Due to his stupidity and constant drunkenness, and Nombeko’s mathematical brilliance she becomes his right hand man. They can get away with this because she is black and the cleaning woman and therefore ignored by all the politicians and the other engineers. Also featured in this part of the story are two Mossad agents, three Chinese sisters and various politicians.
miss fisher

Book 135: Unnatural Habits by Kerry Greenwood

Book 135: Unnatural Habits (Phryne Fisher #19).
Author: Kerry Greenwood, 2012.
Genre: Period Fiction. 1920s Australia. Crime Fiction. Mystery. GLBT themes.
Other Details: ebook. 249 pages/ Unabridged Audio (9 hours, 54 mins). Read by Stephanie Daniel.

1929: Girls are going missing in Melbourne. Little, pretty, golden haired girls. And not just pretty. Three of them are pregnant, poor girls from the harsh confines of the Magdalene Laundry. People are getting nervous. Polly Kettle, a pushy, self important Girl Reporter with ambition and no sense of self preservation, decides to investigate and promptly goes missing herself. It’s time for Phryne and Dot to put a stop to this and find Polly Kettle before something quite irreparable happens to all of them. It’s all piracy and dark cellars, convents and plots, murder and mystery …. and Phryne finally finds out if it’s true that blondes have more fun. - synopsis from Poisoned Pen Press website.

This proved to be another winner in this constantly excellent series. Still unlike many in the series I cannot class it as a 'cosy mystery' given that the plot involved the kidnapping of young girls for nefarious ends as well as the horrific conditions inside the Magdalene Laundry, a place that did actually exist. This part of the story obviously upset Kerry Greenwood as they do her fictional detective. It forms part of the social aspects of the story and proves a powerful condemnation of the attitudes of the time. In her author's notes Greenwood supplies some on-line sources of testimonies about the Laundry. Apparently two of the brothels that appear in the story also did exist, including the wonderfully named Blue Cat Club, which was part of the very secretive gay subculture of the day.

I am continuing my practice of listening to the series on audio and also reading the ebook edition at the end of the week. I have found that there are always a few lines swallowed up when driving, especially in this weather when windows are wound down due to heat. I note that Phryne seems to be now calling her rag-taggle group of friends, companions, and her adopted children as her minions. I find it amusing and keep thinking of the minions of Despicable Me.

Emperor's Man Cats; Hidden Return Empress; Full Dead Messenger Storm

Cats Sleep Anywhere, by Eleanor Farjeon, illustrated by Anne Mortimer (reread)
So many paintings of kitties sleeping, so adorable.

One Man Guy, by Michael Barakiva (advance reading copy)
This was awkward and clumsy and I often felt lectured - I was pretty disappointed because, you know, how many books about Armenian kids discovering they are really into someone of the same sex are there? This is the only one I know of, and I wanted it to be AMAZING, and it just wasn't quite all that. And yet, I slowly fell in love with the story as I became more and more fond of the main character, his friend, and his boyfriend. By the end I was really into it.
(121, A2, O28)

The Emperor's Edge, by Lindsey Buroker (nook)
Straightforward steampunk adventure with a fun side of spy/assassin stuff.

Fairest, vol. 2: The Hidden Kingdom, by Bill Willingham, Lauren Beukes et al; Fairest, vol. 3: The Return of the Maharaja, by Bill Willingham, Sean E. Williams et al
I liked the 2nd volume ever so much more than the 3rd (which was still a bit of alright) and I cannot decide whether the difference is that Lauren Beukes is far more to my taste as a writer than Sean E. Williams is, or whether it's that volume 2 really was about THE FEMALE CHARACTERS and volume 3, while purporting to have a heroine, was really all about Prince Charming. (Plus, dude, the "cad becomes an upright man due to the power of twoo wuv" plot? Way done. I'm oversimplifying a tiny bit, but not much. Too bad, because the side stuff was cool.) Either way, this series is still my favorite.
(123, 124)

Empress, by Karen Miller
OMG SO INTERMINABLE. But also so delicious. I felt overstuffed. Also I decided to not borrow or buy any more first books in fiction series (amazing most-beloved-already authors exempted as I see fit) until I catch up on them. Because this was one too many "wait, what about the rest of it???"s for me. I really want to read the rest of the trilogy, but decidedly NOT more than I want to read the rest of many other trilogies... and quartets... and 14-book monsters....

I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak
This was so good that it took me until half way through the book to notice that it was written in present tense and even then I didn't mind. I wasn't quite satisfied with the ending but the rest of the book is, well, aces. (heh, couldn't resist.)

Full Contact: The Collection, by Daniel Kucan
I found many things about the narrator of this book frustrating, andbut I had to tear myself away every time I stopped reading it. Full of heart, full of insight, full of people whaling on each other, and the whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts.
(127, A3)

Dead Neon, edited by Todd James Pierce and Jarret Keene
Speculative fiction about Las Vegas. It says "near-future" on the wrapper, but there was at least one far-future story, and a couple that felt like contemporary horror. Some stories were meh, some were "OMG THAT WAS SO GOOD I NEED TO ILL THE AUTHOR'S SELF-PUBLISHED BOOK AND HOPE UNLV LETS ME HAVE IT." Ok, that really only happened with one story, but there were at least 2 others that were just as delicious.

Ceres Storm, by David Herter
Science fiction, but heavy on the lyricism and introversion. An odd, poetic, fantastical book that I didn't entirely understand, but which I loved. And a surprisingly quick read.
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