January 17th, 2016

Dead Dog Cat


Next is another Doonesbury book called Mel's Story: Surviving Military Sexual Assault. Pretty obvious what it's about, no? It's a sad state of affairs done with Trudeau's sarcasm.

Book #2: The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

As I mentioned in my last post, my goal this year is to read a book based in every US state. This book takes place in Washington: The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.

I really enjoyed this book.

What a sweet and well written story, tying in a very large black stain on US history. I really like World War 2 books. And I have always found the internment camps to be entirely intriguing, solely because I never understood how we did that to our own citizens while fighting against a country with concentration camps. But anyway.

This book is about Henry, a Chinese boy who grow up during WWII in Seattle. Henry went to an all-white school as a child which created some hardships for him based on discrimination. There was one other Asian student in the school, Keiko, a Japanese girl. Except, Keiko truly was as much of an American as any of the white kids in the school, having been born in the US and only speaking English. However, the racism and fear that permeated during WWII towards Japanese created many problems - including that Keiko and her family were sent to the internment camps.

Henry acts against his father's wishes and befriends Keiko.

This is a love story.

The story is told from both Henry's point of view in the '40s and the '80s. Some 40 years later, Henry still deals with the loss that the internment camp caused him.
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Book 6

Agatha Raisin and the Case of the Curious Curate (Agatha Raisin, #13)Agatha Raisin and the Case of the Curious Curate by M.C. Beaton

This would have gotten 3 stars except for the terrible twist at the end. It's a 2.5 read for me. Mom handed me a bunch of Agatha Raisin books and with all due respect to her fans (and I know I'm in a minority here) I'm not that much of a fan. I had read some yonks ago but never picked up the series. I mentioned to Mom that while the mystery itself is interesting, I don't like Agatha. She's judgmental, narcissistic and a control freak. Mom says 'yes she is. She doesn't have too many redeeming qualities.' Leaving off for a moment as to why Mom's reading a series where she thinks that of the sleuth, let me say this would have gone down a lot easier if Agatha wasn't forever slamming doors, pouting, glaring, sulking and being waspish (all terms lifted directly from the text).

In this one, everyone in the village including Agatha has been taken in by the beautiful curate, Tristan Delon but soon after a dinner with the man, where he hits her up to invest with him, Agatha learns he's been killed and the local vicar is a suspect. Along with mystery writer, John Armitage, the prickly Agatha tries to find out who killed the scamming, pretty man. His grifting ways go from London to the Cotswolds with no shortage of women, usually middle aged and with money, still either in 'love' with him or furious because they know they were scammed. Tristan wasn't above pretending to be gay and scamming men too.

Even though Agatha is repeatedly warned off the case, she keeps going even as the bodies start stacking up. Like I said, I liked the mystery up until the end but overall I'm not sure I'm going to read the rest of the books mom handed me in this series. One amateur detective trope I do not like is where the amateur is at odds with the police and this relies on that. It makes no sense that they wouldn't charge her with interfering with police business like they keep threatening to.

And now some things that REALLY bothered me about this one. Consider anything below this a spoiler.

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Farmer Snow Pepper; Fly Oddrey Mice; Henrietta, Robot Cat by the Sea

The Farmer and the Clown, by Marla Frazee
As you all may have gathered, I have become a fan of this illustrator. This wordless story carries many of the best qualities of her work, so I loved it even though I might not even have liked it in the hands of someone less gifted. It convinced me to love it, you know?

Pepper and Poe, by Frann Preston-Gannon
It makes me so happy when a picture book author/illustrator can *greatly* simplify complicated topics (like animals getting used to each other) without ever fudging or fibbing. Plus the illustrations and story are just so full of warm and fuzzy that my heart is still a bit melty around the edges.

Snow Day, by Lynn Plourde
Fun, enthusiastic story about the titular snow day. Pictures and text matched each other well. This is another story where there's an entire genre of these, I've been reading a lot of them, and just because this one isn't one of my most favorites doesn't mean it isn't pretty darn good. It is.

Oddrey, by Dave Whamond
Cute, goofy, earnest story about a kid who is different, learning that she doesn't have to become "normal" to be liked. Tried a bit too hard for my taste, but it was still really well-done.

Two Mice, by Sergio Ruzzier
Such a perfect counting book. Funny, sweet, unusual. Really great.

Super Fly, by Todd H. Doodler
Heavily illustrated middle grade book a la Wimpy Kid, except about a fly instead of a person. It was pretty funny, as these things go. (Ie, if you hate gross-out humor, I wouldn't recommend it.)

Written and Drawn by Henrietta, by Liniers
One of the things I most enjoyed about this book was how much you could tell the author loves kids by how he drew the "child" illustrations that were part of it. Turns out it's inspired by his own daughter. I was not surprised. I liked the whole book a lot, not just the kid-like parts.

Little Robot, by Ben Hatke
I may need to re-read this near-wordless comic book sometime, because I thought that I liked it really well but wasn't AMAZED by it .... except now it's been almost a month and I keep thinking about it. Hm. Amazement stealth attack?

Black Cat, White Cat, by Silvia Borando
A charming story, but not what the reviewers had hyped it up to be. Sometimes I think I should just quit reading picture book reviews, but then I realize how many truly stellar books I would never see if it weren't for the review that pointed me at them...

In a Village by the Sea, by Muon Van
This was a truly stellar picture book! Great structure, AMAZING illustrative work, and a touch of the fantastic to boot. There are a lot of different rhythms an excellent picture book can take, but it's still a huge relief when I can tell the author has found one of them, and the book won't be full of that jostly unintentionally-arhythmic business.
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Book 5: Harmony Black by Craig Schaefer

Book 5: Harmony Black (Harmony Black #1).
Author: Craig Schaefer, 2015.
Genre: Urban Fantasy. Horror. Demons.
Other Details: ebook. 315 pages.

Harmony Black is much more than your average FBI special agent. In addition to being a practicing witch, she’s also an operative for Vigilant Lock, an off-the-books program created to battle occult threats—by any means necessary. Despite her dedication to fighting the monsters threatening society, Harmony has become deeply conflicted about her job. Her last investigation resulted in a pile of dead bodies, and she suspects the wrong people are being punished for it.

While on a much-needed vacation, Harmony gets pulled back into action. This time, though, she’s gone from solo work to being part of a team. Their target: the Bogeyman, a vicious and elusive figure…and the creature that destroyed Harmony’s childhood.
- synopsis from author's website.

I obtained this novel via Kindle First and was immediately impressed. It was highly engaging and I certainly plan on following the series. Learning that Harmony Black was a supporting character in Craig Schaefer's Daniel Faust series, I bought the first novel in that series as I enjoyed his style.

I did have a slight issue with the novel linked to its cosmology, which was conveyed by a character to Harmony early on. He stated that there was a hell without a corresponding heaven. This seemed a little lop-sided though to be fair he could be an unreliable source.

Again, an exciting urban fantasy with a strong horror component.