December 30th, 2014

Reading - La Liseuse

Books #44-47

44. Parasite by Mira Grant, 504 pages, Science Fiction, 2013 (Parasitology, Book 1).

It’s the future, and many people have a specifically created tapeworm inside them to regulate their medical needs. Sally Mitchell had one at the time of her car accident; when they had all but pulled the plug, Sally came back, but with no memories and had to be retaught everything. It’s been 6 years, and Sal still has to report back to the biomed company that created the worm, be evaluated and tested whenever because they pay the medical bills. But lately, people have been coming down with what the doctors are calling a “sleeping sickness”, where suddenly a person no longer is responsive – the lights are on, but no one is home. When those newly stricken start becoming violent, it really gets scary – zombie movie scary. This book was so very good, with a nicely developed future world and the advances in science that may do us all in. But it’s the first in a series, and it ended on such a note that I cannot wait for the next book to be released (which it recently was; I need to track it down)!


45. Concealed in Death by J.D. Robb (a.k.a. Nora Roberts), 402 pages, Mystery, 2014 (In Death, Book 38).

It’s December, 2060, and millionaire Roarke is about to turn a derelict into a beautiful new building. But his first swing of the mallet to herald the beginning of that transformation reveals dead bodies hidden in the walls; he calls in his wife, Lt. Eve Dallas, NYPD Homicide. There are the remains of 12 pre-teen to early teen girls, and they likely have been hidden since the building was last occupied by a shelter for kids 15 years earlier. Now little more than skeletons, we have a new character to our In Death family, Dr. Garnet DeWinter, a highly fashionable and very skilled forensic anthropologist, to help find the identities of the missing girls. It’s a heart-breaking case, but Dallas won’t rest easy until the killer is found and justice is served.


46. Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist, translated by Ebba Segerberg, 371 pages, Horror, 2004.

Oskar is the kid the other kids pick on. But one night, he meets Eli, and his life starts changing. As their friendship develops, it turns out that Eli is actually a vampire. It’s painful to read the tales of childhood bullying, and Eli’s tale is also horrible – in the sense that the actions were horrible; the writing, the way this story is told, is masterful. Absolutely brilliant. I have seen both movies based on this book, the Swedish and the American versions. I thought I knew what this book had in store for me. The book blows both movies away; it is by far more complex, and ugly, and beautiful, and detailed. This story is worth reading, even with all the triggers in it, if you can manage it.


47. Let The Old Dreams Die by John Ajvide Lindqvist, translated by Ebba Segerberg, 400 pages, Horror Short Story Collection, 2013.

Twelve short stories from my favorite Swedish horror writer! Two of them are sequels to his novels Handling the Undead and Let the Right One In. Wonderful! (A listing of the short stories, along with a short write-up of each, are at my journal.)
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

As we wind up the year, I managed to finish reading a couple of short items.

First was Equoid by Charles Stross. My, my, I do love his Laundry series of stories; even the short ones. They are a cross between James Bond and the works of H. P. Lovecraft. Amazing.

Next was a piece by Neil Gaiman, called How to Talk to Girls at Parties set at a party that perhaps they should have missed. Eerie. Nicely done. Leave you questioning...

We'll see if I can finish any other works by midnight tomorrow. I think I have too much work to do so, though...
lady in white

Books 226-227: The Queen and The One

Book 226: The Queen (The Selection #0.4) .
Author: Kiera Cass, 2014.
Genre: Young Adult. Dystopian Future. Romance.
Other Details: ebook. 120 pages.

Before America Singer's story began, another girl came to the palace to compete for the hand of a different prince…. This prequel story takes place before the events of The Selection and is told from the point of view of Prince Maxon's mother, Amberly. Discover a whole new Selection with this inside look at how Maxon's parents met—and how an ordinary girl named Amberly became a beloved queen. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.

This novella gave some insight into the background of the current Queen when she was a contestant in the Selection. Still given that Maxon's dad is quite an unsympathetic character in the main series it was hard to get too enthusiastic about the love affair between him and the future Queen Amberly though helped me understand why she was more sympathetic to America's position though I would have appreciated a little more exposition.

Book 227: The One (The Selection #3) .
Author: Kiera Cass, 2014.
Genre: Young Adult. Dystopian Future. Romance.
Other Details: Paperback. 323 pages.

For the four girls who remain at the palace, the friendships they’ve formed, rivalries they’ve struggled with and dangers they’ve faced have bound them to each other for the rest of their lives. Now, the time has come for one winner to be chosen. America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown – or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the competition approaches its end and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realises just how much she stands to lose – and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.

This proved to be a satisfying if predictable conclusion to this trilogy. It was fluff but distracting fluff and it seems that Kiera Cass will be writing more in the series, so hope she will do further world-building.
ancient

Book 228: Lion in the Valley by Elizabeth Peters

Book 228: Lion in the Valley (Amelia Peabody #4) .
Author: Elizabeth Peters, 1986.
Genre: Historical Mystery. Egyptology.
Other Details: ebook 432 pages/Unabridged audiobook (12 hrs, 12 mins). Narrated by Barbara Rosenblat..

The 1895-96 season promises to be an exceptional one for Amelia Peabody, her dashing Egyptologist husband Emerson, and their wild and precocious eight-year-old son Ramses. The much-coveted burial chamber of the Black Pyramid in Dahshoor is theirs for the digging. But there is a great evil in the wind that roils the hot sands sweeping through the bustling streets and marketplace of Cairo. The brazen moonlight abduction of Ramses -- and an expedition subsequently cursed by misfortune and death -- have alerted Amelia to the likely presence of her arch nemesis the Master Criminal, notorious looter of the living and the dead. But it is far more than ill-gotten riches that motivates the evil genius this time around. For now the most valuable and elusive prized of all is nearly in his grasp: the meddling lady archaeologist who has sworn to deliver him to justice . . . Amelia Peabody! - synopsis from author's website,

As I had done previously this novel was my audiobook-in-the-car during the week and then I would read the corresponding pages on my Kindle. This proved to be the best in the series to date with Rosenblat capturing with perfection the prim voice of Amelia Peabody including the amusing banter between her and her delightfully gruff husband. Ramses while still present was kept much more to the background and was also the butt of a number of delightfully snarky remarks including from his long-suffering parents.

The mystery itself revolved around the so-called Master Criminal who popped up in the last book and the story takes some unexpected yet interesting turns.
Briana and Aunty Tara
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Books 15 & 16 - 2014

Book 15: Man Drought and Other Social Issues of the New Century by Bernard Salt – 276 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Why are there so many single women in their 30s? What's an OFFAL? In this entertaining and insightful book, social commentator Bernard Salt answers these and many other pressing questions about contemporary Australia. Drawing on current census data and his own research, he presents a quirky, enlightening tour of the world we live in.

Thoughts:
I have wanted to read this book for ages, mostly because its written by an Australian, and that Australian, Mr Salt, works for one of the Big Four accounting firms, and I work (or used to work) for one of the Big Four accounting firms. I also am really into demographics (which probably makes more sense as a reason to read a book). So, anyway, the downside is its taken me about fie years to read this book, so its rather out of date (it was written in 2006, I think). Ignoring that, and Mr Salt’s constant comment about how Generation Y had never experienced an economic downturn (the whole GFC happening the year after this book must have really annoyed Mr Salt), the points Mr Salt raises are very interesting, and he is fair across the generations, criticizing and celebrating them in equal measure (when I’ve tried to raise some of his point with my mother, a Baby Boomer, comparing their parenting of me, a Generation Y, unfortunately she’s chosen not to listen – sigh!). Moreover, its pretty obvious from reading this book why I’m struggling to find myself a man; there just isn’t many available ones in my city (apparently I need to move to a mining town – eek!). Overall, a very interesting read – I’m not sure I’d use it as a dating guide, but it will definitely help you stand up to any Baby Boomer parents or combat complaints from your Generation Y kids (oh, and those Generation X people!).


15 / 50 books. 30% done!


5198 / 15000 pages. 35% done!

Book 16: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - 395 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
THE #1 "NEW YORK TIMES" BESTSELLER On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media--as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents--the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter--but is he really a killer?

Thoughts:
This book is nuts. Truly, truly nuts. It asks the question, ‘do you truly know someone?’. I’m not sure if it answered that question, to be honest, but it certainly frightened the crap out of me. Its books like this that make me not want to get married. I’m not sure if too many people don’t now the plot, given its just been released as a film, but anyway, Amy Dunne disappears on her five wedding anniversary, and everything points towards her husband, Nick. Nick’s biggest problem is not that he actually has killed his wife, but that every bit of circumstantial evidence points to that he did. I must say I did not at all expect the twist in this book, even if I did believe that Nick didn’t kill Amy. That’s the point where the book gets disturbing, and perhaps, rather unbelievable. By the end, I decided that Nick and Amy were meant for each other – I’m fairly sure they were as nuts as each other in many respects. Anyway, as I said, its these kind of books that scare me off marriage (maybe that’s why I don’t have a man!) – here’s to hoping that people such as these characters are few and far in between in the real world. An interesting read if not a disturbing one.


16 / 50 books. 32% done!


5593 / 15000 pages. 37% done!

Currently reading:
-        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
-        Bones of the Lost by Kathy Reichs – 462 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
Briana and Aunty Tara
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Books 17 & 18 - 2014

Book 17: I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes – 700 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Can you commit the perfect crime? Pilgrim is the codename for a man who doesn't exist. The adopted son of a wealthy American family, he once headed up a secret espionage unit for US intelligence. Before he disappeared into anonymous retirement, he wrote the definitive book on forensic criminal investigation. But that book will come back to haunt him. It will help NYPD detective Ben Bradley track him down. And it will take him to a rundown New York hotel room where the body of a woman is found facedown in a bath of acid, her features erased, her teeth missing, her fingerprints gone. It is a textbook murder - and Pilgrim wrote the book. What begins as an unusual and challenging investigation will become a terrifying race-against-time to save America from oblivion. Pilgrim will have to make a journey from a public beheading in Mecca to a deserted ruins on the Turkish coast via a Nazi death camp in Alsace and the barren wilderness of the Hindu Kush in search of the faceless man who would commit an appalling act of mass murder in the name of his God.

Thoughts:
This was a bloody good book! Long, very long, and it requires your full attention, but my, my, it was good! Hayes has put together a very possible, very intense thriller, and created an intriguing, if slightly improbable hero. I actually didn’t pick this book out for myself; a friend recommended it for some strange reason, and I’m yet to find it in the pages of the local newspaper’s culture section, or see it in a bookstore (I borrowed it from the library) but bloody hell, it belongs there.
Ebola seemed to be the word on the street in 2014, with the epidemic in West Africa, and if that had started before I’d started reading this book, I think it would have made it all the more frightening. Still, the idea of a terrorist using medical knowledge that seemed rather easy for him to find, and creating a new, even more deadly, strain of Ebola and then making it airborne and releasing it in America is a very scary possibility, and one that Hayes manages to demonstrate could be all too possible. There’s a part of me that always knew things would turn out okay (very rarely does a book deviate from this ending) but watching Pilgrim try to catch up and matters get more and more dire makes for a very intense read. I also learned a lot about the region of Turkey that the book is predominately set in, which was very fascinating (I always think an author has done a good job if you want to google things they have mentioned to learn more).
I could go on for days, but I think I’d spoil too much, so I’m just going to stay short and sweet – buy, borrow or steal (okay, don’t steal) this book and read it! Dedicate a weekend, and even if the first 100 pages feel like a lot of background, persevere – there’s a reason, and it’s worth it!


17 / 50 books. 34% done!


6293 / 15000 pages. 42% done!

Book 18: A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Sixth: The Ersatz Elevator by Lemony Snicket – 259 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
There is nothing to be found in the pages of A Series of Unfortunate Events but misery and despair. You still have time to choose another international best-seller to read. But if you must know what unpleasantries befall the charming and clever Baudelaire children read on...The Ersatz Elevator is the sixth instalment in A Series of Unfortunate Events in which Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire encounter a darkened staircase, a red herring, friends in a dire situation, three mysterious initials, a liar with an evil scheme, a secret passageway and parsley soda.

Thoughts:
This Unfortunate Events book introduces the character of Esme, and reintroduces, briefly, the Quagmire triplets (of which there is only two). Esme is weird, and her husband pathetic, and the idea of a baby climbing an elevator shaft with her teeth makes me cry for my dentist, but it’s a charming enough story, and I can’t help but really feel for the poor Baudelaire kids. A quick, fun read, that manages to keep one engaged with the story now that things are finally starting to develop.


18 / 50 books. 36% done!


6552 / 15000 pages. 44% done!

Currently reading:
-        Sunshine on Sugar Hill by Angela Gilltrap – 310 pages
-        Bones of the Lost by Kathy Reichs – 462 pages
-        A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Eleventh: The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket – 323 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