December 1st, 2016

yellow roses

November 2016 reading

November 2016 reading:

57. Skinwalker, by Faith Hunter (320 pages)
Jane Yellowrock is a skinwalker, a supernatural creature who can shift into any other creature by tapping their DNA. She also knows, despite having no memory before she walked out of the woods naked at about age 12, that she is different from other skinwalkers--she has a Beast she shares her body with, and whose form she normally takes. She has spent her life tracking down and destroying rogue vampires, and she's surprised to get a job from the vampire society of New Orleans to take down one of their own, who has not only gone rogue but has started targeting other vampires. Little does she know, there's more to this than she could imagine, and it will bring bits of her past floating to the surface. I really enjoyed the pacing of this book.

58. Staying Dead, by Laura Anne Gilman (411 pages)
Wren is a Retriever, a Talent whose magic is best for retrieving (or stealing) objects for clients. She works with Sergei, her partner, and maintains a working relationship with the fatae to effectively complete her job. Her current job involves retrieving a cornerstone that was stolen from a building. Of course, the client has omitted important details, the Mage Council is involved and hiding their involvement, and other forces are centering in on Wren and Sergei. I wasn't overly fond of the narrative style. Interesting enough story and world, though.

59. Cry Wolf, by Patricia Briggs (294 pages)
Anna has been rescued from a bad pack situation, learned she was a valued Omega werewolf, and has had Charles, the son of the Marrok, insist she is is mate. Now she's about to be thrown into a world she knows little about--a world where she has value, but also one more dangerous than she can imagine. Good read.

60. Hunting Ground, by Patricia Briggs (286 pages)
With Bran planning to bring the US were population out of the closet, international were populations have gotten involved--and someone has ulterior motives. Charles insists Bran let him handle it, but it puts him--and Anna--in danger. Good read.

61. Speaking in Bones, by Kathy Reichs (336 pages)
A websleuth contacts Brennan about a missing person and a cold case set of remains she thinks are linked. Though she doesn't put much truck in it, Brennan feels compelled to look into it, and finds herself once again down the rabbit hole on a dangerous case. Still not making good decisions; surprised she's alive after this one.

62. Spice and Wolf: Volume 11, Side Colors II, by Isuna Hasekura (192 pages)
Three short stories: Holo and Lawrence solve a remote village's problems. Holo and Lawrence take an ill-fated and silly detour. We learn Eve's past and what led her to be the merchant she is. Really good.

November pages: 1,839

Pages to date: 18,813

Progress: 62/52

November 2016 comics/manga reading:

186. Library Wars: Love and War: Volume 4, by Kiiro Yumi (208 pages)
187. Saga: Volume 6, by Brian K. Vaughan (152 pages)
188. Bride of the Water God, by Mi-Kyung Yun (168 pages)
189. Arata The Legend: Volume 24, by Yuu Watase (200 pages)

November pages: 728

Pages to date: 30,996

Progress: 189/200
book collector

Book 128

Exit the Milkman (Professor Peter Shandy Mystery #10)Exit the Milkman by Charlotte MacLeod

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

It’s rare that I give anything this low of a rating, mostly because if I hate a book this much I just don’t finish it. In this case, I remember really liking MacLeod’s books when I was younger. Also I needed an E for one reading challenge and has the same job as me for another challenge (i.e. professor) so I plodded along and plod is the right word. This wasn’t just overly wordy and dull, I’m pretty sure the writing convention of not needing anything more than ‘said’ or ‘replied’ was made specifically for her. Her characters are always ejaculating and a dozen other ridiculous descriptors for speech.

The plot is relatively simple. Professor Jim Feldster, head of the bovine portion of the college’s farm-Ag program has gone missing and given his shrew of a wife no one seems too surprised or even concerned. However, when he’s found and suspected of being the prodigal son of a rich cattle family things get weird and his wife gets dead. More time is spent on whether or not he’s actually a millionaire, and now head of the family after his brother’s recent passing than on finding out who killed his wife.

If that was all there was to it, I’d probably have given it two stars and been done with it but this plot needs dissecting and examining because the only explanation I have for this ever getting published is that MacLeod was an award winning author and this is like book ten of the series. So I’m just going to spoil it (okay it’s a 20 year old book so that might be over stating it but yes I’m giving away the plot because I simply need to talk about it).

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Book Review No. 21 is Wesley Lowery's They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America's Racial Justice Movement.  Mr Lowery is one of the reporters who was detained by Ferguson, Missouri police while using his laptop computer to file a story in a McDonald's that local officials wanted cleared of loiterers.  And thus did his beat become the coverage of stories of the protests that followed police shootings of black people in a variety of cities.

The story, and the reporter, and the national mood, all might induce a writer to polemical fits.  They Can't Kill Us All does anything but that: we begin with straightforward reporting: the analysis, if that's even the right word, doesn't begin until the reader is a hundred pages in.  And that, ultimately, is straightforward.  From page 190:  "For most of the year after Michael Brown's death, my reporting focused on policing policy -- tactics, training, best practices, and reform -- with race serving as an ever-present subplot.  My goal was and is to pull back the veil over a profession that had become among the least accessible and least transparent corners of government."  The protests after the police shootings?  Might it simply be people pushed too far, for too long?  Page 195: "Who is a perfect victim?  Michael Brown?  Kajeme Powell?  Eric Garner?  Sandra Bland?  Freddie Gray?  Young activists reframed the question: Does it matter?"

The social science?  Left to others.  Police behaving as an occupying army?  That's one perception.  It's also an opportunity for further research.  Financially strapped suburbs shaking poor people down with all sorts of niggling fines (a Strong Towns theme)?  Hinted at, not of immediate relevance to the story.  Maryland, particularly Baltimore,  being ruined by Democrats?  See page 141, but don't read too much into it.

Understand this much, dear reader: what began with abolition and continued with voting rights is not yet done.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)