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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

New Berkely/NAL books added!

Thank you to Elentarri for adding all the covers - about 95 of them all up - to these new listings!   

 

I've finally gotten a little downtime and I thought to myself ... do I do that last load of laundry, or do I add new and upcoming books to BookLikes?

 

So here's the first round - Berkley/NAL titles published in the next 3 months.  As before, links to the covers are behind the spoiler tags - if you have the time and inclination to contribute to the database, grab the cover, search the ISBN here on BL, and upload to cover.

 

I'm out of practice, so there will be a few listings here that might not need the covers because they were already in the database and I didn't catch them in time to remove them from the list.  Sorry in advance!

 

 

Batch #1:

(show spoiler)

 

Batch #2:

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Batch #3:

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Batch #4:

(show spoiler)

 

Batch #5:

(show spoiler)

 

Batch #6:

(show spoiler)

 

Batch #7:

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Batch #8:

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Batch #9:

(show spoiler)

 

Batch #10:

(show spoiler)


Halloween Bingo 2019 - My tracking post #6

Another Bingo! I'm on fire now - two, count 'em two bingos.  I should probably report them soon ...

 

I still have my two squares left for blackout - I can only plead Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke as my excuse, and it doesn't even qualify for either square.  My recent acquisition of Cozy Crime Stories has "Gothic Fantasy" in big embossed letters on the cover, so I might try reading a few of those short stories for my Gothic read.  Suspense ... I have no inspiration, but I still have all three Transfiguration spells so something will present itself.

 

For my BookLikes tracking post, I'm going to rely on what I did last year, building an overall image as boxes are called.

 

 

Squares are greyed out until they're called.  

Called squares will be full-strength.

 

Read but not called squares will be greyed out below.

Once a square has been called and read, I'll move that piece from below to cover the square. 

 

My markers this year are pieces of a full image, seen here:

         
       
   
   
       

 

 

My tentative plan for what I'm reading.  I think there's going to be a lot of re-reads in the mix, given my current mood.  After I've read for a square, I'll hyperlink to the review.

 

 

Bingo Square

Date Called

Book Title

Date Read

Row #1

 

 

 

X 

Supernatural

 Sep. 15

Sweep of the Blade

Sep. 3 

X 

Read by flash/candlelight

Sep. 20 

Magic Bleeds

Sep. 23 

 

Dark Academia

Sep. 24 

Hex Hall

Oct. 3 

X 

Black Cat

Sep. 8 

Murder in the Reading Room

Sep. 19 

X 

Country House Mystery

Sep. 13 

Envious Casca

Sep. 17 

Row #2

 

 

 

X 

Ghost Stories

 Sep. 1

Lost Among the Living

 Sep. 1

X 

Paint it Black

Sep 28 

Dark Triumph

 Sep. 1

X 

In the dark, dark woods

Sep. 26 

Mortal Heart

Sep. 3 

 

13

 

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave

 Sep. 21

 

Murder Most Foul

 

St. Peter's Fair

Sep. 9 

Row #3

 

 

 

 

Shifters

 

Clean Sweep

Sep. 7 

 

Doomsday

 

Magic Strikes

Sep 20 

X 

FREE SPACE

 

Murder by the Book: The Crime That Shocked Dickens’s London

Sep. 11 

 

Fear the Drowning Deep

 

Magic Burns

Sep. 19 

X 

Amateur Sleuth

 Sep. 4

The Book Supremacy

Sep. 14 

Row #4

 

 

 

X 

Spellbound

Sep. 22 

Sapphire Flames

 Sep. 5

X 

Creepy Crawlies

 Sep. 3

Kill The Farm Boy (Tales of Pell, #1)

Sep. 19 

 

New Release

 Oct. 15

Game of Bones

Oct. 7 

 

Gothic

 

 

 

 

Genre:Suspense

 

 

 

Row #5

 

 

 

 

Magical Realism

 

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe

Sep. 9 

X 

Psych

Sep 16 

Silence for the Dead

 Sep. 11

 X

Full Moon

 Oct. 2

Magic Stars

Oct. 1 

 X

Darkest London

Sep. 17 

An Act of Villainy

Sep. 25 

 

Baker Street Irregulars

 

Demon Glass

 Oct. 4



Reading progress update: I've read 265 out of 846 pages.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke

The writing is still charming and wonderful, but I've reached the 25% mark and the pace has slowed considerably.  Mr. Norrell and Jonathan Strange have only just met.

 

I've checked the audio out from the library and will start listening as well as reading either today or Monday; hopefully that will get me over the slump in the middle.

 



Childfree by Choice

Childfree By Choice - Amy Blackstone

It's always a little bit harder for me to discuss non-fiction books I've listened to on audio; My audio comprehension is still not a match to my reading comprehension and I'm not quite as able to recall the details as well.  

 

Even so, this book was eye opening for me.  MT and I are child free by choice, and I've definitely experienced the bog-standard lines:  you'll change your mind and it's different when it's yours and it's not too late, as well as the arguments for more exciting holidays and built-in old-age care. (All of which are fallacies: I almost never change my mind about anything, I'd feel no different if 'it' was my own, and at 49, which is the last time the 'not too late' argument was used, it's categorically too late, if not medically, then rationally. And while I'm willing to concede that some holidays might be more fun, there's no guarantee that anyone's children won't stick them in an old-age home when the time comes.  Harsh, but true.)

 

But I've never experienced the vitriolic rhetoric aimed at us as a group; an upside to having always avoided the Editorial/Opinion section of the news, I guess.  Wow.  People need to worry less about what everyone else is doing and look inward; if these pundits have time to turn themselves inside out about other people's life choices, they have too much free time on their hands and not enough perspective on actual, real world issues.

 

As I was listening to this book and thinking "how have I missed all this nonsense, and who do I thank for that?" it started to niggle at me that, actually, I might have been on the receiving end of some of the blowback to choosing child free, I've just never acknowledged it as such.  Not from a professional standpoint; frankly, I think my bosses were all too happy I'd not be taking maternity leave to be fussed about my rebellion against my (apparent) civic duty.  But personally, socially ... that becomes trickier.  Have I lost friends after they had kids?  Certainly.  MT and I used to have a much more jam-packed social calendar, until friends started spawning and we lost touch with more and more of them.  But I can't say with any certainty that it's because we chose not to have kids; the toll newborns take on couples, then the non-stop demands of toddlers, could explain a lot of it.  The medical issues that have necessarily slowed both MT and I down certainly are to blame for some of it too.  But I can't be sure our choice not to have kids isn't at play either.  Both my best friends have kids, and I never lost touch with either of them - in fact I was a huge part of first 10 years of one of the kids' lives, until I moved down under.

 

Anyway, the takeaway here is that the book has left me with things to chew on, and it certainly opened my eyes to societal reactions to those who choose to not procreate.  So in that sense, the book was an outstanding success.  It was, however, a dry read; very much structured like a dissertation that's been fleshed out for publication.  I think the narrator of the audio helps overcome that a little, though it's still by no means a riveting read.  MT overheard it when I was listening while gardening, and he though I was listening to the news.

 

I was also constantly jarred by her use of fertility; no question she's using it exactly the way it should be used, but to me fertility has always meant the ability to procreate, while in this book she uses it to refer to actual birthing of children, ie the fertility rates dropped during the global economic crisis to her means people stopped having children during the GFC.  I kept thinking 'what does the GFC have to do with ability to conceive?'.  That's my shortcoming though, not the author's.

 

All in all it was a very worthwhile read for me.  Depending on one's level of engagement in this issue, individual results may vary.  I will end this with saying it's a good book for anyone - with children or without - interested in the values and reactions society places on people when it comes to planning the future of their families.

 

 



No One Is Too Small To Make a Difference

No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference - Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg is the bomb.

 

I first heard about Greta when she began school striking last year, but only, at first, as a curiosity (on the part of the press).  It wasn't until her speech before the UK parliament that she got enough press that I was able to understand her story. When I read the speech in the Guardian, I was laughing - in the best way - at the sheer audacity, bravery, and brilliance, of a 16 year old standing before the august (HA!) body of British lawmakers and telling them that:

 

The UK is, however, very special.  Not only for its mind-blowing historical carbon debt, but also for its current, very creative, carbon accounting.

 

and:

 

This ongoing irresponsible behaviour will no doubt be remembered in history as one of the greatest failures of mankind.

 

and my favorite:

 

Did you just hear what I said? Is my English okay? Is the microphone on? Because I'm beginning to wonder.

 

I handed the speech to MT and said You HAVE TO read this. It's written by a 16 year old Swedish girl whose first language isn't even English! (We who have lived our lives isolated on single language land masses - and yes, yes, Spanish, but it wasn't widespread when I was a kid - are always in awe of those of you who juggle multiple languages with ease, never mind speak it better than us natives.)  I've been a following her in the news ever since and I just admire the hell out of her.  I found this little collection of all her speeches up to and including her UK Parliament speech, on the bookstore counter, and snapped it up.  

 

It's nothing fancy; just a small booklet containing all 11 of her speeches through 23 April 2019, and if read cover to cover (which I don't recommend), it's repetitive.  But the message is powerful, and like it or not, it's dead-on accurate: our house is on fire; what we would never do to our own lawn, we're doing with impunity to the rest of the planet, and we're collectively living like a magic, 23rd-hour solution that will make everything ok again is going to miraculously fly out our asses.  

 

Greta is making waves because she's 16 and she's the only one willing to stand in front of entire governments and actually say, with only a tiny bit more tact: you're all idiots and you're the generation that will always be known as those idiots who destroyed civilisation as we know it.

 

On a more first-world-problem note: this wonderful 16 year old was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and even though she didn't win (and should have), I am still thankful I'm not a teen today.  Life is hard enough as an adolescent, but now teens are nominated for Nobels; getting into Yale or Oxford suddenly isn't the acme of teen achievement any more.  Yikes.



Reading progress update: I've listened 415 out of 480 minutes.

Childfree By Choice - Amy Blackstone

While I wouldn't call this a 5 star read, it has been fascinating so far - and I'm on the last chapter, likely to finish up on the drive home - simply because I've had my eyes opened to 1. just how oblivious I am in all ways societal, and 2. how truly fortunate I am to have had the upbringing I did.  It's a gift that I was raised not to be concerned with what others think of me, beyond a general preference for being well regarded, and another gift to not be harassed by family and friends for the life decisions I make.

 

Full review with meaningful details will come later today, after I'm officially finished.



Reading progress update: I've listened 163 out of 480 minutes.

Childfree By Choice - Amy Blackstone

It's official:  I've been living in a cave the last three decades.  This has been a revelation so far; I had no idea I was so unpatriotic, immoral and selfish.  Ok, well, I maybe knew I was a little bit selfish, though I'd have said choosing not to have kids I didn't want because my lack of maternal instinct would have ended badly (or badly dysfunctional) for the kids was the mature, not selfish thing to do, but obviously I'm just self-rationalising.

 

The author is keeping things pretty even-keeled so far, presenting a lot of facts and statistics.  It reads like a fleshed out dissertation to me, but the information is fascinating, so the drier tone isn't bothering me, nor is the narrator's somewhat flat deliver (though her attempts at other voices cracks me up).  

 

So far the take away is that anyone who choose to have anything more or less than 2 children is an aberration.  Good to know.  Don't care, but good to know.



Reading progress update: I've read 76 out of 846 pages.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke

Is a footnote still a footnote if it covers two pages?

 

 

 

Either way, the writing is gorgeous.  And thank god for it because 846 pages... o_O



Girls weekend in the country = book haul

This past weekend, two friends and I went to Castlemaine, Victoria, an old gold rush town, for a weekend away in an old converted courthouse, where the only goal was to sit around in our sweats and uggs (or really fuzzy socks) and read.  Oh, and eat nothing but bread, cheese, olives and some fruit.

 

I think we did fairly well at accomplishing our goals, though we did venture out on Saturday to walk along the 'downtown' area of Castlemaine, which firmly falls into the 'small but quaint' category.  We hit a couple of bookstores, because we were committed to our goals, and a book haul was built:

 

 

Also acquired, but not in the picture because I'm currently reading it, is a copy of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke.  It's a doorstop, but the glowing reviews finally sucked me in.  There are two upgrade titles in the stack: The Horologicon, and Why Shoot a Butler? and a new anthology put together by Martin Edwards called Cozy Crime Short Stories, whose front cover also says Gothic Fantasy, and includes a round selection of, let's call them 'vintage' authors - some expected (Conan Doyle), some not so much (Anton Chekov).  

 

For the curious, a selection of photos from the trip:

 

The gold fields, or more accurately, what's left of them. 

 

A Superb Fairywren.

 

Galah.

 

And while I was away, MT took this picture in the pitch black darkness of our garden. I pulled as much out as I could, but let's all just pretend I've applied an old school vintage filter instead of calling it the crap photo it is; I include it because it's a momma bush tail possum with her baby on her back, walking along our fence line.  Probably on her way to eat one of our trees bald.

 



Meet the Beryls ... the new bees on the block

Our spring has been decidedly blah; in much the same way that my friends in the N. Hemisphere are eagerly trying to shove summer out the door, we down south are having a hard time getting the crap cold weather to leave.  But last week, we got our first run of really gorgeous days; sunny and in the 20's/70's.  I woke up Tuesday morning just waiting for it to to get warm enough to open our back doors and the windows.  Then I looked out the window about 11am and saw this:

 

 

We had a swarm (ignore, please, the horrendous bbq cover that is long past dead).  My first concern was that our Bettys had swarmed but a few seconds with the zoom on my camera verified that the Bettys were still to'ing and fro'ing out of their hive.  After about 5 minutes, the swarm started coalescing, taking residence on my orange tree:

 

 

 

A flurry of text messages with our beekeeper and two days later (he was in Country Victoria at the time), he arrived with a rescue box, offering them a much more secure and cozy home than my little orange tree could offer.  The rescue box sat there for two days, until he came back on Saturday and he and MT scooped the stragglers up.  

 

But our beekeeper has the good fortune to be suffering an abundance of riches at the moment: more hives than he has placements.  So MT told him if our Bettys didn't have a problem with neighbours, we had no problem adding them to the menagerie until he found a permanent placement; we'd be happy to make it permanent here, but not if it means paying double the annual maintenance fee, something we need to clarify first.  

 

MT has dubbed the new hive the Beryls, and everyone seems happily settled in the 'hood. 



Halloween Bingo 2019 - Tracking Update #5

I'm so far behind, life is close to lapping me at this point, both in the virtual and real worlds.  The good news is - I finally got a bingo!  Woot! Progress!  

 

In other news, I went away for a girls-reading weekend in historic Castlemaine last weekend and picked up a few books, while MT and our beekeeper friend wrangled a swarm that took up residence in our orange tree earlier in the week.  Separate posts on those adventures are forthcoming.

 

In actual bingo related news, while I have at this point only the one bingo, I'm just two books away from a reading blackout, so while I've been MIA in general, I have, at least been reading.  I'd have blackout already, but I fell down a Kate Daniels reading vortex of which I've only just surfaced from; 16 books back to back, and I'm not burned out, which is a compliment to the authors.

 

For my BookLikes tracking post, I'm going to rely on what I did last year, building an overall image as boxes are called.

 

 

Squares are greyed out until they're called.  

Called squares will be full-strength.

 

Read but not called squares will be greyed out below.

Once a square has been called and read, I'll move that piece from below to cover the square. 

 

My markers this year are pieces of a full image, seen here:

         
       
   
   
       

 

 

My tentative plan for what I'm reading.  I think there's going to be a lot of re-reads in the mix, given my current mood.  After I've read for a square, I'll hyperlink to the review.

 

 

Bingo Square

Date Called

Book Title

Date Read

Row #1

 

 

 

X 

Supernatural

 Sep. 15

Sweep of the Blade

Sep. 3 

X 

Read by flash/candlelight

Sep. 20 

Magic Bleeds

Sep. 23 

 

Dark Academia

Sep. 24 

Hex Hall

Oct. 3 

X 

Black Cat

Sep. 8 

Murder in the Reading Room

Sep. 19 

X 

Country House Mystery

Sep. 13 

Envious Casca

Sep. 17 

Row #2

 

 

 

X 

Ghost Stories

 Sep. 1

Lost Among the Living

 Sep. 1

X 

Paint it Black

Sep 28 

Dark Triumph

 Sep. 1

X 

In the dark, dark woods

Sep. 26 

Mortal Heart

Sep. 3 

 

13

 

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave

 Sep. 21

 

Murder Most Foul

 

St. Peter's Fair

Sep. 9 

Row #3

 

 

 

 

Shifters

 

Clean Sweep

Sep. 7 

 

Doomsday

 

Magic Strikes

Sep 20 

X 

FREE SPACE

 

Murder by the Book: The Crime That Shocked Dickens’s London

Sep. 11 

 

Fear the Drowning Deep

 

Magic Burns

Sep. 19 

X 

Amateur Sleuth

 Sep. 4

The Book Supremacy

Sep. 14 

Row #4

 

 

 

X 

Spellbound

Sep. 22 

Sapphire Flames

 Sep. 5

X 

Creepy Crawlies

 Sep. 3

Kill The Farm Boy (Tales of Pell, #1)

Sep. 19 

 

New Release

 Oct. 15

Game of Bones

Oct. 7 

 

Gothic

 

 

 

 

Genre:Suspense

 

 

 

Row #5

 

 

 

 

Magical Realism

 

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe

Sep. 9 

X 

Psych

Sep 16 

Silence for the Dead

 Sep. 11

 X

Full Moon

 Oct. 2

Magic Stars

Oct. 1 

 X

Darkest London

Sep. 17 

An Act of Villainy

Sep. 25 

 

Baker Street Irregulars

 

Demon Glass

 Oct. 4



Demon Glass re-read

Demonglass - Rachel HawkinsSince I started reading the trilogy for my Dark Academia square, I figured I might as well go on and read the other two.  Luckily, the second one can be used for the Baker Street Irregulars square too, so I maintained some bingo efficiency.

 

I was a little over enthusiastic in my original review, but overall I did enjoy re-visiting it.  It's definitely YA, and definitely geared towards a much younger audience, but I still appreciated the humor, the characters and the lack of angst in general.

 



Hex Hall re-read

Hex Hall - Rachel HawkinsI needed a book that takes place in a school for my Dark Academia square, and it's been so long since I've read this one, I'd forgotten most of it. My original review stands up pretty well; I'm even farther from the book's demographic than I was, but it was still entertaining enough that I read the other two book in the trilogy, one of which I'll be able to use for my Baker Street Irregulars square, but really, I just needed to know how it all ended.

 

 

 

 

 



Kate Daniels series re-read: Magic Stars

Magic Stars  -  Ilona Andrews I love Ilona Andrews' writing and the Kate Daniels series is one of my favourites, but honestly, wow, I'd forgotten how bad this little novella is.  I've been interested in the story dynamic between Derek and Julie since both were introduced into the Daniel series, so I was interested in where the Andrews team would take it.  

 

Not pulling any punches, I don't know what I was thinking when I wrote my original review - I was incredibly kind.  Re-reading this, after re-reading the entire Kate Daniels series, it doesn't even feel like it was written by the Andrews team; it reads like fan-fiction.  I don't know if here will be another book focused on Derek and Julie - I hope so - but if there is, I sincerely hope it's better than this one.

 

I read this for the Full Moon square in Halloween Bingo.



Game of Bones (Sara Booth Delaney, #20)

Game of Bones - Carolyn Haines

After 19 really solid, enjoyable books, this one tanked for me.  It's still ok, hence my 3 stars, but comparatively speaking, nowhere near as good as the book that came before it.

 

Contributing to my general disappointment was the feeling that Haines just never got a handle on the plot.  It's a really interesting one about Indian burial mounds, archeology and curses, but it never gelled and in fact went somewhat around the bend in terms of incredulity, character angst, and abuse of dues ex machina.  The series has always had a light touch of the paranormal in Jitty, the ghost that haunts Sarah Booth, but the author charges past the lightly paranormal line, and blazes right into unbelievable miracles, and then she throws in some science fiction just to really stomp on any believability the plot may have had going for it.

 

I didn't hate it, and it's not generally bad; it's just not anywhere near as complex and interesting an instalment as previous books have been.  Everyone gets a phone-it-in in a long running series, and it took Haines 20 books before she cashed hers in.  I'm confident that should there be a 21, it will be back to the high standards of previous books.

 

I read this book for Halloween Bingo's New Release square.



An Act of Villainy (Amory Ames Mystery, #5)

An Act of Villainy - Ashley Weaver

A bucket full of meh.

 

It's been 5 books now, since Amory decided to take her rogue of a husband back, and frankly, I'm sick and tired of wallowing with her in her anxiety about her marriage.  Trust him or don't; keep him or kick him out; fish or cut bait.  I don't actually care either way, though I suspect the series would be a lot better without her lifeless husband around.  That's right: the 'rogue', the ladies man apparently nobody can resist, is about as exciting as white paint.

 

The mystery this time around wasn't enough to distract me from the angst, as it was set in a theatre (which trope never appeals to me), and the mystery might have been clever, except it was just too ridiculous.  The author set her plot for stun, but over geared it and overshot the mark, landing somewhere in between incredulous and you've-got-to-be-kidding-me.

 

It's not a bad book, it's just not a very good one either.  Everything about it felt like an example of stretching a point too far.  The series started strong, so this might just be the runt of the litter and the next one will improve.  But I'm not rushing out to buy it.

 

I read this for the Halloween Bingo square Darkest London.