Monday, 25 January 2016

One Foot in the Grave

Book 4 of 2016 is One Foot in the Grave from the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost.

This is book 2 of the Night Huntress series and I think I will continue. This book was much better than the first book, which almost had me not touching the second. A few Good Reads reviews helped me go one.

I'm still not a massive fan of the whole bodice ripping genre but ignore that and it's a good plot with a strong female character. Although I read on, I am worried Cat may go the way of Anita Blake. Hopefully not.

4 vampire cultural rules out of 5.

Should I read this? Only if you like Anita Blake, which owns that genre.
What did I learn? I don't care much for written porn. It bores me.

Halfway to the Grave

Book 3 of 2016 is Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost.

This is book 1 of the Night Huntress series and I've already started the second book.

Since the Anita Blake books went to hell in a handbasket around book 9, I haven't had a good vampire hunter series to read. This may be it.

The writing isn't very good but the stories are interesting and original. The sex scenes are boring and very Mills & Boon but they are few and far between and you can scroll by them.

3 half-bred assassins out of 5.

Should I read this? Yes, if you like the early Anita Blake style books or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
What did I learn? The writing isn't great but the story arc is promising.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

The Rook

Book 2 of 2016 is The Rook by Daniel O'Malley.

This is a book that my friend Jan chose for our distant book club. We will be discussing this over Skype when she finishes the read.

Having read The Hanged Man, this followed on quite well. Fantastical historical fiction is my new obsession and I am going to own this genre this year and read so much of it. This isn't the best example but it did introduce some nice ideas.

The reason I would read the rest of the series is because I had no love for any of the characters.

Told in the first person, the only possible sympathetic character is the story teller and seeing inside her mind makes her less-so.

The current to historical context is the most appealing part of this book. I can imagine it happening in almost modern day London but it misses something. It didn't bring me in to the place or the moment. My guess is that this is a British text written for Americans because it is nondescript and only hints of the culture.

What I would have liked was something distinctly English. Something that gave me an insight in to the culture and the moment. But alas, it did not.

3 forgotten moments due to amnesia out of 5.

Should I read this? Only if you like fantastical history novels.
What did I learn? I like this genre and want to find better versions of this.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

A Man Called Ove

Book 1 of 2016 is A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.

This book was raved about for all of 2015 and I started it towards the end, like a chore.

The thing is, this is an absolute pleasure to read and not a chore. I recommended it to friends when I was less than half way through it and having finished it, I can only recommend it more strenuously.

There are many stories of grumpy old men but this old man stole my heart. I want to go out and hug old people everywhere but I may be shot for that in this country.

It has been a long while since I listened to a book and understood why I want to live my life with fury.

5 grunts of disapproval out of 5.

Should I read this? If you like stories about anti-heroes that you can't relate to but can like.

What did I learn? Good people don't always look like good people. Being good is all that matters.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Goodbye 2015, you rocked!

Oh wow. What an amazing year!

I moved to the US and settled in a little town called Seattle. It is the home of Amazon (work), Microsoft, Boeing, REI, T-Mobile, Theo Chocolate, Nordstrom and many other countries.

Awesome things happen here and yes they did.

This year brought me some brilliant new friends.
This year brought me my centre.
This year brought me love and then heartbreak.

It is a wonderful and successful year.

I don't even know how to thank everyone. How often do you live a year with no regrets? Let's do that again.

Thank you to all my friends.


Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Six-Gun Snow White

Book 72 of 2015 is Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente.

This is a very modern retelling of a famous fairy tale, set in the Wild West.

Everyone is rewriting fairy tales these days and it is is enjoyable to see the more Grimm versions emerging over the happy saved-by-a-prince Disney versions.  In fact, this Snow White is so far from Disney that I immediately gave her a chance.

With a horse called Charming, a jewel mine and seven more interesting allies than singing dwarfs, she lives a story that made me sad but hopeful.

This is a short book that I would recommend all self-rescuing princesses and their supporters read.

4 of the fairest and most kickass stars out of 5.

Should I read this? If you are willing to part with the world Disney gave you then yes.
What did I learn? Don't expect your Prince to come and save you. Save yourself. Actually, I already knew that,

Saturday, 26 December 2015

The Hanged Man

Book 71 of 2015 is The Hanged Man which is book 1 of the Her Majesty's Psychic Service series  by P. N. Elrod.

This book took me a while to read because it felt predictable and my guess is that it was written for women who are new to the fantasy genre. Yes, it is very much aimed at women and that is absolutely not a fault.

The book starts in the style of Sherlock Holmes but goes on to include the intrigue of British India and the painfully dysfunctional world of the British aristocracy. This is something I could see happening, minus the magic.

The writing is simple and in the language of the late 1800 and early 1900s and soaks the world of that time in to your mind as you read. That was quite enjoyable.

4 pairs of tough walking pants out of 5.

Should I read this? An easy and enjoyable read with a touch of fantasy..
What did I learn? The world changed when women had the right to wear clothes that didn't totally restrict their movements.

A Christmas Carol

Book 70 of 2015 is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

This was the free audio book for Christmas from Audible. It was read by the always brilliant Tim Curry, who has given me another version of this book to love.

It took less than three hours to listen to and I shared it with my sister. It made Christmas Eve quite lovely.

For those who care, it is not an interpretation but a very accurate reading of this classic tale that we have all heard many times. You will love this edition.

4 humbugs out of 5.

Should I read this? Oh yes, at Christmas.
What did I learn? Some books make brilliant audio books.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

A Brief History of Holiday Music

Book 69 of 2015 is an audible book called A Brief History of Holiday Music by Professor Robert Greenberg.

I am starting on the Audible Great Courses and decided to start with this. The narrator is enthusiastic to the point of obnoxious but he kept me engaged the whole time.

This was only 45 minutes and was in the form of my dreaded audio book but it was worth the listen. Christmas music may never be quite the same again.

4 carols out of 5.

Should I read this? Listen away. This is not a waste of 45 minutes.
What did I learn? There is much more depth to Christmas carols and chants than I realised.


Book 68 of 2015 is Beauty by Robin McKinley.

McKinley wrote one of my favourite fantasy books of all time, Sunshine. She refused to write a sequel probably because she knew it was so good. This has resulted in to reading a whole bunch of mediocre books she has penned.

Beauty and the Beast is one of my favourite Disney movies but not my favourite fairy tales. I've read and watched quite a few incarnations of this famous story and have been delighted along the way. This was not one of them. It was a boring version. No, seriously. Imagine making this so British that nothing happened and then take steroids. That was this book.

3 reboots out of 5.

Should I read this? No. Read it if like me you love Beauty and the Beast stories.
What did I learn? It is hard to justify giving your daughter to a beast just to save your life. There are no real grounds.