December 27th, 2014

Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

Somewhere or other, I got my hands on a copy of a Neil Gaiman children's book called Fortunately, the Milk..." and completed reading it this morning. Charming. A father tells his children of his adventures restocking the house with milk.

Book #59: The X-Files Season 10, Volume 3 by Joe Harris and Matthew Dow Smith

Number of pages: 122

The third compilation from the new comic book series comprises a single five-part adventure, Pilgrims, with the action set initially in Saudi Arabia before switching to the United States later on.

The fact that Saudi Arabia is most associated with having oil reserves should be a clue to the fact that this adventure revolves around one of the show's most bizarre aliens, an oil-based creature that takes over a person's mind (a bit like Invasion of the Body Snatchers).

I noticed that this wasn't an idea that translated well to the pages of a comic book. In the TV series (as far back as 1996), CGI was advanced so far as that people infected with the black oil were shown having flecks of the stuff swimming over their eyes. In a static picture, it comes across less obviously and at times it took me a few moments to realise that a character was host to the black oil. It's done here by showing characters' eyes as completely black, but since the artwork often includes a lot of shadows it was a bit confusing.

However, the story is decent and thankfully the plot involving the black oil is reasonably straightforward.

The bit where it gets complicated is where the on-going backstory is pushed forward, including the mysterious character with superhuman powers who has bought back the Cigarette Smoking Man and has some sort of hold over him. The most notable plot point comes at the end of part 1, but is a spoiler - so I'm hiding it behind a cut.

[Spoiler (click to open)]

Alex Krycek, a character who seems to show loyalty to no one else who was definitely shot dead by Skinner at the end of the show's eighth season, returns to life in this episode. After a brief scene with Mulder, he vanishes into a flash of light, seemingly abducted (alien abductions take up large part of this story, and Scully is herself taken at one point).

There is a vague explanation, which seems to be that certain characters are just bought back to life whenever they die - or something like that. To put simply, it seems similar to a recent Simpsons episode where Homer died, only to be bought back to life through a succession of 300 Homer clones. Alternatively, think of the old Futurama episode where life is like a video game; Dr. Zoidberg eats Fry, only for him to reappear moments later saying he had another life.

Krycek's is given a significant role in the story, and one of my favourite moments involves him and Scully together, possibly because there never was a single scene on the TV show that was just Scully and Krycek.

The show's backstory gets immensely confusing towards the end, as it raises more questions than it answers, and it's best not to even try to follow what's going on in certain scenes towards the end of the final chapter, that feel like something off Lost, or a David Lynch movie.

However, I enjoyed the characterisation of all the characters, particularly the Cigarette Smoking Man, who gets one of his most brutal moments (it involves him snubbing out a cigarette in another character's eye).

The main plot also has a satisfying ending that brings back another kind of alien previously seen on the show. I also liked the fact that young William Scully was mentioned again.

And at risk of angering the fanboys/fangirls, I'm hoping that Doggett and Reyes haven't been forgotten about and that they've not just been killed off. I'd like to see them return in supporting roles.

Next book: A Storm of Swords, Part 1: Steel and Snow (George R.R. Martin)

Book 223: The Carnival Master by Craig Russell

Book 223: The Carnival Master (Jan Fabel #4) .
Author: Craig Russell, 2008.
Genre: Euro Crime Fiction. Police Procedural.
Other Details: Paperback. 448 pages.

The Cologne police know a woman is going to die. They know the day it will happen. And they're powerless to stop it. They call on an outside expert: Jan Fabel, head of Hamburg's Murder Squad and Germany's leading authority on serial killers. Fabel is on the point of leaving the police for good, but Carnival in Cologne is a time when the world goes crazy, and he is drawn into the hunt for the Carnival Cannibal. What he doesn't know is that he is on a collision course with a crack special forces unit from Ukraine and a disturbed colleague with a score to settle. Fabel finds himself on a trail of betrayal and vengeance, violence and death. And once more he faces his greatest enemy. The true Master of the Carnival. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.

Another in this highly engaging series of police procedurals based in Germany. Although I enjoyed it very much I did wonder if the narrative was a little too divided between the Carnival murders and the quest on the part of the special forces group, Fabel's colleague and finally Fabel himself to bring to ground Vasyl Vitrenko, the Ukrainian baddie who has been Fabel's nemeses since the first novel in the series.

Still by the final pages both plot strands were brought to a satisfying conclusion with some very clever twists. Craig Russell also did a great job of capturing the world-turned-upside-down atmosphere of Cologne's Carnival. Some aspects of the murders are quite gruesome and did nothing to assuage my Coulrophobia.
Briana and Aunty Tara
  • blinger

Books 13 & 14 - 2014

Book 13: A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Fifth: The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket – 221 pages

Description from
As the three Baudelaire orphans warily approach their new home Prufrock Preparatory School: they can′t help but notice the enormous stone arch bearing the school′s motto Memento Mori or "Remember you will die." This is not a cheerful greeting and certainly marks an inauspicious beginning to a very bleak story just as we have come to expect from Lemony Snickett′s Series of Unfortunate Events, the deliciously morbid set of books that began with The Bad Beginning and only got worse.

Still working my way through these. This one introduces the characters of Isadora and Duncan Quagmire who seem to be in a fairly similar situation to the Baudelaire children and who attempt to help them escape Olaf once again. This time he is disguised as a running coach he tries to run the children effectively to death. The ending’s to these books are starting to get more and more adult in their content, a trend I have noticed as I get further through the series. Still relatively interesting and nice quick reads.

13 / 50 books. 26% done!

4580 / 15000 pages. 31% done!

Book 14: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge – 342 pages

Description from
The romance of Beauty and the Beast meets the adventure of Graceling in a dazzling fantasy novel about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny. Betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom, Nyx has always known her fate was to marry him, kill him, and free her people from his tyranny. But on her seventeenth birthday, when she moves into his castle high on the kingdom's mountaintop, nothing is as she expected--particularly her charming and beguiling new husband. Nyx knows she must save her homeland at all costs, yet she can't resist the pull of her sworn enemy--who's gotten in her way by stealing her heart. For fans of bestselling authors Kristin Cashore and Alex Flinn, this gorgeously written debut infuses the classic fairy tale with glittering magic, a feisty heroine, and a romance sure to take your breath away.

This was a delicious story. It came up on my recommend Goodreads email one month and I put it on my list and for some reason decided to get it from the library while I was on a short break between finishing one job and starting a new one. I wasn’t expecting it to be so delicious, but I have no other word to describe it. It’s a combination of Beauty and the Beast, Graceling (another book I adore), and various mythologies (there is elements of the Psyche and Eros story from Greek mythology). All are things I love. But it could have failed really bad if not for the manner in which Hodge makes her very reluctant, very bitter main character work. Nyx resents her life, resents her sister, resents her purpose, resents her resentment. On her seventeenth birthday she is sent to kill the beast that lives in the castle on the mountaintop. She goes in guns blazing, willing to throw herself at this beast, in order to trick him and kill him. Her plans don’t go the way she intends, and there is an immediate, hate-filled attraction. Hodge does a fantastic job of showing just how thin the line between love and hate is. Nyx wants nothing more than to kill her captor, but she is also drawn to him and to a strange being that lives in the castle. The relationship between all three is bizarre and fascinating and watching it evolve is what makes this story so good. You want it to work out for everyone, even though, maybe, everyone is maybe a little evil, or a little selfish, and maybe they don’t deserve a happy ending. Nyx’s flaws as a person are what make her so engaging for me. I love misunderstood characters, I love romances that make you wonder whether the couple should really be together, even though they make perfect sense in many ways. I flew through this book, determined to find out how it ended, and I loved the ending. It was fitting without being soppy or overly cheerful. For not entirely human characters, it was beautifully human. Highly recommended!

14 / 50 books. 28% done!

4922 / 15000 pages. 33% done!

Currently reading:
-        Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs – 283 pages
-        Globality: Competing with Everyone from Everywhere for Everything by Harold L. Sirkin, James W. Hemerling and Arindam K. Bhattacharya – 267 pages
-        Sunshine on Sugar Hill by Angela Gilltrap – 310 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
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages