January 29th, 2017

Dead Dog Cat

#14, 15

Work was busy this week, so not as much reading got done.

One book that I finished was Osprey Campaign #33: Aspern & Wagram 1809: Mighty Clash of Empires, a campaign that Napoleon didn't exactly win to his chagrin. Fairly well-written book.

The other was another in a series of novels set in Imperial Rome, various mysteries, this was the next most recent, Trade Secrets. These books by David Wishart have generally been enjoyable, and this one certainly is. I've already picked up the next (and most recent) book in the series to be read.
Briana and Aunty Tara
  • blinger

Book 6 - 2016

Book 6: Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich – 300 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Stephanie Plum, the brassy babe in the powder blue Buick, is back, and she's having a bad hair day - for the whole month of January. She's been given the unpopular task of finding Mo Bedemier Trenton's most beloved citizen, arrested for carrying concealed, gone no-show for his court appearance. And to make matters worse, she's got Lula, a former hooker turned file clerk - now a wannabe bounty hunter - at her side, sticking like glue. Lula's big and blonde and black, and itching to get the chance to lock up a crook in the trunk of her car. Morelli, the New Jersey vice cop with the slow-burning smile that undermines a girl's stronger resolve is being polite. So what does this mean? Has he found a new love? Or is he manipulating Steph, using her in his police investigation, counting on her unmanageable curiosity and competitive Jersey attitude? Once again, the entire One for the Money crew is in action, including Ranger and Grandma Mazur, searching for Mo, tripping down a trail littered with dead drug dealers, leading Stephanie to suspect Mo has traded his ice-cream scoop for a vigilante gun. Cursed with a disastrous new hair color and an increasing sense that it's really time to get a new job, Stephanie spirals and tumbles through Three to Get Deadly with all the wisecracks and pace her fans have come to expect.

Three books in and these stories are starting to establish a pattern. Stephanie fumbles her way through the mystery of the week, Ranger is sexy, Morelli is sexy, Grandma Mazur is crazy, and Lula actually seems to be remotely competent at the whole bounty hunter thing even if she is a bit trigger happy. This one features a relative (they seem to pop up every couple of books) and a link to a case Joe is working on (also seems to pop up regularly). Stephanie makes a fool of herself, seems to learn little from previous escapades, and somehow earns the admiration of all but her parents (who are probably the only people in Trenton with their heads screwed on right). I like these stories, and they are fairly quick reads, but I sometimes wonder if there is going to be anything resembling solid character progression. Will Stephanie end up with Joe, or will she pursue Ranger? Will she actually pick one or dance between them both? Will anyone ever realize Lula is a better bounty hunter? Will someone find Stephanie a real job? Given there are like 23 of these books thus far, I gather not, and I’ll keep reading in the same way I keep reading the Temperance Brennan books – they are quick reads with readable plots even if they are ultimately formulaic.

6 / 50 books. 12% done!

1441 / 15000 pages. 10% done!

Currently reading:
-        Wrath of Aphrodite by Bess T. Chappas – 207 pages
-        My Life by Bill Clinton – 957 pages
-        The Presidents of the United States of America by Frank Freidel – 88 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
-        Four to Score by Janet Evanovich – 311 pages
smirk by geekilicious

Books 12 & 13

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd (Flavia de Luce, #8)Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I very much love Flavia because how could I not love a teenaged girl who loves chemistry and forensics? Me who has a degree in chemistry and can't get enough of forensics. This one brings Flavia back from Canada, thankfully. I missed Dogger and the rest so I'm so glad to see them all again. Bishop's Lacey is a town chocked full of characters and I prefer Flavia among them.

But this is not a happy homecoming (nor truly a happy book). There is no one to greet Flavia as she returns home just before Christmas as her father has contracted pneumonia and everyone is at the hospital with him. Frustrated that her father's doctor is now refusing the family entry because her father is doing so poorly, Flavia tries to find something to occupy her time.

Naturally that leads her to find a body of a man tied upside down inside his house but not all is as it seems to be. Somehow this links back to the death of a popular children's book author years ago as Flavia goes back and forth to London (something a girl could do in the 1950s without her parents being arrested for child neglect).

Trying to forget her fear over her father, Flavia digs deep into the mystery with occasion, quiet assistance from Dogger and more active assistance from one of her former Canadian teachers who has returned home to London. Her sisters are less heinous in this because, mostly they're barely in it.

Just as the last three books, this one ends with something that means sweeping changes for the next book in the series which I'm very much looking forward to this coming fall (when it's scheduled to be out).

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文豪ストレイドッグス 1 [Bungō Stray Dogs 1]文豪ストレイドッグス 1 [Bungō Stray Dogs 1] by Kafka Asagiri

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a rare thing, me seeing the anime before the manga. Well only part of the anime (the perils of living rural with crap internet) but the opening of both stick pretty close which is cool. This would be even cooler if I knew the Japanese authors that make up the characters. From what I know, they are famous authors reimagined here with magical abilities and are part of a team of detectives handling supernatural crimes but it would probably have more impact if I knew more about the authors.

The story centers on a young orphan, Atsushi Nakajima, who had been thrown out of his orphanage. He found himself at the river, debating starving to death or turning robber when he sees a man fall from the bridge. Atsushi rescues him and that begins a strange new journey.

Osamu Dazai, the man he rescued, is a suicide affinicado, always looking for new ways to off himself (unsuccessfully obviously). He's not particularly thankful but he is curious about Atsushi and a giant tiger that's been seen in the river area, which is what Dazai was there tracking in the first place.

Atsushi is caught up by Dazai and the stern, no nonsense Kunikida, fed and learn of the magic in this world, these powers, a power he shares in. Before he knows it he's part of the group and out fighting crime and at the same time being in the center of it as the mafia wants him and his ability, leaving us at a cliffhanger.

I really enjoyed this and the characters with one major exception, the reason I didn't give it five stars. I do not like Naomi and Junichiro Tanizaki, or should I say I don't like her. She is constantly trying to get into her brother's pants. It's too early to know if a) they're actually siblings as opposed to step siblings b) if they'll even be there long term. What I do know is that I've stopped reading a couple other manga for this because it was so front and center. I dealt with too many patients who were the damaged by incest to read it being played as either amusing or sexy. Hopefully this part of the manga will be gone soon. Otherwise I loved this and the art.

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Last of 2016 part 1

21. Ordeal by Innocence
Pages: 227
Blurb: Dr. Arthur Calgary takes a ferry across the Rubicon River to Sunny Point, the home of the Argyle family.
A year before, the matriarch of the family was murdered and a son, Jack, was convicted and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Throughout the trial Jack had maintained his innocence, claiming he was hitchhiking on the night of the murder and he had been picked up by a middle-aged man in a dark car. Unable to locate this mystery man the police viewed Jack’s as a lie. Calgary was the stranger in question, but he arrives to late for Jack – who succumbs to pneumonia after serving just six months of his sentence.
Feeling a sense of duty to the Argyles, Calgary is surprised when his revelation has a disturbing effect on the family – it means one of the family is a murderer…
Thoughts: I actually rather enjoyed this book, still being surprised by how the story unfolded, despite having seen an adaptation of the novel. Christie has woven some wonderfully complex characters in this novel, covering the whole spectrum of human quirks. A very good read.

22. Hallowe'en Party - Agatha Christie
Pages: 215
Blurb: At a Hallowe’en party, Joyce – a hostile thirteen-year-old – boasts that she once witnessed a murder. When no-one believes her, she storms off home. But within hours her body is found, still in the house, drowned in an apple-bobbing tub.
That night, Hercule Poirot is called in to find the ‘evil presence’. But first he must establish whether he is looking for a murderer or a double-murderer…
Thoughts: I read this around Halloween, a classic Poirot which does exactly as it says on the tin.

23. A Murder is Announced - Agatha Christie
Pages: 246 (6587)
Blurb: The villagers of Chipping Cleghorn, including Jane Marple, are agog with curiosity over an advertisement in the local gazette which reads: ‘A murder is announced and will take place on Friday October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6.30 p.m.’
A childish practical joke? Or a hoax intended to scare poor Letitia Blacklock? Unable to resist the mysterious invitation, a crowd begins to gather at Little Paddocks at the appointed time when, without warning, the lights go out…
Thoughts: Again, a classic Christie which is well worth a read.

Last of 2016 part 2

24. White Nights - Ann Cleaves
Pages: 392
Blurb: At first sight, the hanging body seems to be a straightforward case of suicide. Shetland detective Jimmy Perez recognizes the victim - a stranger with amnesia who had disrupted a local party the night before his death.
Soon Perez realizes that this was no desperate act off anguish, but the work of a cold and calculating killer. And the small Biddista community is determined to keep its secrets. Then another body is found...
Perez knows he must break the cycle before another death occurs. But this is a crazy time of year when night blurs into day and nothing is quite as it seems...
Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. Full of twists and turns, I just couldn't put it down when I was reading it (of course, the fact Jimmy Perez is played by Douglas Henshall in the TV series and is how I picture Jimmy, in no way was why I kept reading). The Shetland series is definitely becoming one of my favourite book series and I hope if someone is reading over my shoulder he may remember that.

25. The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins
Pages: 320
Blurb: Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.
Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.
Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…
Thoughts: Christ this book has become quite the phenomenon hasn't it? I was lent this by a new colleague who said "you have to let me know if you figured it out, I just didn't see it coming". After what felt like a slow start, boy did it get going. Did I see it coming? Yes, about halfway through - I guess I just read too many mysteries. It was a really good book, deserving of the hype. Was it the first book of its kind though? I soon discovered it wasn't...

26. Lasting Damage - Sophie Hannah
Pages: 440
Blurb: It's 1.15 a.m. Connie Bowskill should be asleep. Instead, she's logging on to a property website in search of a particular house: 11 Bentley Grove, Cambridge. She knows it's for sale; she saw the estate agent's board in the front garden less than six hours ago.
Soon Connie is clicking on the 'Virtual Tour' button, keen to see the inside of 11 Bentley Grove and put her mind at rest once and for all. She finds herself looking at a scene from a nightmare: in the living room, in the middle of the carpet, there's a woman lying face down in a huge pool of blood. In shock, Connie wakes her husband Kit. But when Kit sits down at the computer to take a look, he sees no dead body, only a pristine beige carpet in a perfectly ordinary room . . .
Thoughts: Now this really took me by surprise. At first I was dying for something to happen and then BOOM did it kick in. This story is similar to Hawkins' book but it leaves a few unanswered questions at the end. If you like a thriller where you just don't quite know what's going on, this is highly recommended.

27. Bridget Jones's Baby
Pages: 240 (7979)
Blurb: 8.45 P.M. Realise there have been so many times in my life when have fantasised about going to a scan with Mark or Daniel: just not both at the same time.
Before motherhood, before marriage, Bridget, with biological clock ticking very, very loudly, finds herself unexpectedly pregnant at the eleventh hour: a joyful pregnancy which is dominated, however, by a crucial but terribly awkward question – who is the father? Mark Darcy: honourable, decent, notable human rights lawyer? Or Daniel Cleaver: charming, witty, notable fuckwit?
9.45 P.M. It’s like they’re two halves of the perfect man, who’ll spend the rest of their lives each wanting to outdo the other one. And now it’s all enacting itself in my stomach.
In this gloriously funny, touching story of baby-deadline panic, maternal bliss, and social, professional, technological, culinary and childbirth chaos, Bridget Jones – global phenomenon and the world’s favourite Singleton – is back with a bump.
Thoughts: Dull, predictable - the film is 1000 times better.

2017 - Book 1

1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - JK Rowling
Pages: 766
Blurb: Dark times have come to Hogwarts. After the Dementors' attack on his cousin Dudley, Harry Potter knows that Voldemort will stop at nothing to find him. There are many who deny the Dark Lord's return, but Harry is not alone: a secret order gathers at Grimmauld Place to fight against the Dark forces. Harry must allow Professor Snape to teach him how to protect himself from Voldemort's savage assaults on his mind. But they are growing stronger by the day and Harry is running out of time.
Thoughts: I've been slogging through this since Christmas so I am very pleased to finally have it finished. Enjoyable, but did feel like it went on a bit. Think I'll be taking a bit of a break (again) from Harry Potter to try and read a few more books before tackling the last two.