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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.

The Long Paw of the Law (K9 Cop series, #4; maybe #5)

The Long Paw of the Law - Diane Kelly

This one is going to be short.  The book is too long.  Too much stuffing.  If we shaved away all the targets that qualify as 'author's research she must share so her accountant knows those deductions are legit', and then shaved away the overly long descriptive narrative about the places she goes and the scenery, and - I'm sorry - perhaps pared way back on Bridgit the K9's chapters (which to be fair are already short), this book would have some highly entertaining, unusual investigations for the reader to enjoy.  I even didn't mind the back and forth between the good guys and the bad guys.  The scenes in the compound made me edgy and tense, left with that icky feeling I've also always had since learning about religious cults.  This ramped up tension was then offset by the lighter side as Megan proceeded apace with the missing mother and the garage door burglary cases.

 

So, it was just an ok read, because it was way too overstuffed; done a disservice by a well meaning, but lax editor, but under all that maximum verbosity, there's a good couple of stories in there with strong females characters, strong family values, and of course, the kick ass dog.  I know this author can write much tighter stories; I've read them, so I'll keep an open mind about trying the next one.

 

(Note: this review might be messy; I was wide awake when I started it and my medications have all kicked in in the last 3-4 minutes, so I'm off to bed.  Any incoherence will be corrected in the next release - hopefully tomorrow.  :D   Night y'all!



Becoming

Becoming - Michelle Obama

I have so many disparate thoughts surrounding this book, but one very solid thought about the book itself.  So, the TL;DR version is:  it's excellent.  If you're a hellbent for leather "Republican", stay away from it; you won't enjoy it and it will probably do terrible things for your blood pressure, in much the same way as any new or conflicting idea of your world view might.  Rational conservatives, those with the ability to think their own thoughts and make up their own minds - and gasp - I'm one of those!, will find this woman to be the dignified, thoughtful, intelligent woman and class act that she is, even if, maybe, you may not agree with everything she advocates (though really, she doesn't advocate anything any normal human wouldn't).  Liberals, it goes without saying, have favourable odds of loving the hell out of this memoir of our First Lady.

 

That was, for me, a pretty provocative opening statement; I generally try to maintain a somewhat neutral facade here, though I'll never deny my personal truths.  I just don't feel it's necessary to wave them like a flag.  But - and this is relevant, so stay with me - my defences are low at the moment and I'm so damned tired of everybody's anger being channeled into tribalism.  "Liberals" pointing fingers at "Conservatives" and tearing strips off the whole lot, tarring them all with the same brush, and "Conservatives" ... when they're not tearing a strip off the "Liberals" and tarring them with the same brush, they're actively letting their inner child out, gleefully being petty and sniggering as they throw mud.  Bunch of damn fools, the entire dammed lot, and honestly, they all deserve one another.

 

As I said before, I am conservatively bent; I am not deficit inclined, nor am I inclined to embrace a lot of government in general (though there are exceptions - hello banking industry; you, you aren't to be trusted with so much as a plugged nickel).  Neither am I a racist, a bigot, nor an elitist.  I don't hate, nor do I deny poor people; their existence or their right to make a better life.  Anyone who knows me knows all of this, yet I don't think I'm ever getting the tar out of my hair.  I believe in diversity in all things, even diverse opinions.  Even the ones I don't like*.

 

Now, this is how I make all that relevant - Michelle Obama has written a book that succeeds, and is brilliant, because she does not fling mud; she does not tar anybody**; she writes about her thoughts, her beliefs, her values, her opinions, without ever once throwing judgements on anyone else's.  She does not build herself up by tearing down others, and here I think it's important to point out that she's not Suzy Sunshine and there aren't any unicorns flying out her backside.  I found what she didn't say to be as provocative as what she does say is not; moments when she chooses her words carefully, and where, in my opinion, she manages to convey that which perhaps she feels she can't say.  Though I admit, that might be wishful thinking on my part.

 

I've always admired President Obama; from the first he struck me as thoughtful, intelligent, and well-balanced with very little ego (or one that thrived on power, anyway), but at the beginning, Michelle was a bit of a non-entity to me.  Mostly because I've never gotten into what any First Lady was doing; she's not in office, has no public mandate, and is therefore of little interest to me.  But Michelle caught my attention with the organic vegetable garden - an initiative I was thrilled to watch unfold and succeed.  I still paid little attention, but every time she appeared on my radar, it was because she was doing something impressive, and doing it with dignity and grace.  By the time his second term ended, I was sorry to see them both go, and I was eager to read this book when it came out, to learn more about this woman who has never done anything but impress me.

 

A little part of my soul died when she stated for the record her complete disinterest in public office, because these are the kind of people I want running my country.  NOT because of their politics - I like both of them, but their politics are not entirely mine - but because of the people they are.  I don't have to agree with everything my leader does, but I do have to be able to respect him (or her) and their dedication to the process of doing what's best for the people - all the people - of the country.  The Obamas set - or reset - the standard for the highest office in the nation, repairing the damage wrought by so many previous administrations. To bring this back to the book - Becoming gives readers an insight into just how deeply invested they both were - but especially Michelle, since this is her story - in making the most of the incredible opportunities they were given to make positive, lasting change for as many people as they could, while keeping their family not just in tact, but healthy, thriving and close.

 

A note about her narration:  I'm not going to gush, because the truth is that it was apparent that she was told to read slowly and exactly off the manuscript, which is fair enough.  But I sort of wish she'd have been confident enough to read it in the voice she obviously wrote it in; occasionally that voice would sneak through just enough that I just knew, had she been able to be totally herself, it would have kicked the narration up a notch into absolute perfection.  But that's not a criticism - she did a phenomenal job and for anyone interested in this book who can do audiobooks, I'd highly recommend it, as I think it adds depth to hear her tell her own story.

 

 

* Except the current idiot squatting in the White House; he opens his mouth and nothing but methane comes out.

 

** I loved, loved that the one time Michelle comes close to tarring anyone, it's for the one person who most truly and objectively deserves it.



The Flat Book Society: The March book has been chosen!

Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Matin Durrani, Liz Kalaugher

Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life by Matin Durrani and Liz Kalaugher was the resounding winner this round (or as resounding a winner as we ever get).  A little bird who knows has told Huggins that the first chapter is a bit slow, but the rest is "delicious".  Metaphorically speaking, of course; we don't allow book eating anything into the Flat Book Society.

 

We'll be starting March 1st.  Any and all are welcome to join in.

 

About the book:

 

The animal world is full of mysteries. Why do dogs slurp from their drinking bowls while cats lap up water with a delicate flick of the tongue? How does a tiny turtle hatchling from Florida circle the entire northern Atlantic before returning to the very beach where it hatched? And how can a Komodo dragon kill a water buffalo with a bite only as strong as a domestic cat's?

These puzzles – and many more besides – are all explained by physics. From heat and light to electricity and magnetism, Furry Logic unveils the ways that more than 30 animals exploit physics to eat, drink, mate and dodge death in their daily battle for survival.

Along the way, science journalists Matin Durrani and Liz Kalaugher introduce the great physicists whose discoveries helped us understand the animal world, as well as the animal experts of today who are scouring the planet to find and study the animals that seem to push the laws of physics to the limit.

Presenting mind-bending physics principles in a simple and engaging way, Furry Logic will appeal both to animal lovers and to those curious to see how physics crops up in the natural world. It's more of a 'howdunit' than a whodunit, though you're unlikely to guess some of the answers.

 

 



Unplugged and buying books ... therapy for the bibliophilic soul.

As you all know, life has been challenging at maison de chats fous.  I was feeling optimistic on Tuesday that I was finally getting a grip on the work projects, instead of them having a grip on me, but on Wednesday the projects regrouped and retaliated, and by Thursday night I was waving the white flag.  There was a moment on Wednesday where I gave serious consideration to an experiment designed to find out if my iPhone could reach terminal velocity if launched horizontally; like a frisbee.  Thankfully, I got called away and never had time to find out if my hypothesis had the right stuff.

 

Friday morning, I picked up my phone to check the weather, put it down, and didn't pick it back up again until today (Sunday), and then only to ask Siri to set a timer for 30 seconds, about a dozen times, while I stuck those 3M hooks all over the place.  Likewise, I did not touch my computer all weekend.  I didn't watch TV either, but that doesn't count, since I never watch TV anyway.  

 

Friends I met for coffee on Friday were bug-eyed that I left my phone at home.  But you know what?  I didn't miss it; I never gave it a second thought, in fact, until the same friends asked me about my calendar and I told them I didn't bring my phone with me. 

 

It's been an awesome almost 3 days.  I sat on the couch with my Easter-cat and listened to the fountains in the garden; I read; I worked on a 3000 piece puzzle that MT bought me for Christmas (which has, I think, cured him of buying ever larger puzzles - we haven't seen our dining table in a month).  I *gasp* went to a movie and dinner with friends (saw On the Basis of Sex; I thought it was good - not great, but worth seeing).  I've now seen 2 movies this year, which is 2 more than I've seen in the previous 5+ years.

 

Before the movie, my friends and I met at a used bookstore; we're all three readers, so we all made our own circuits, and walked out with bags stuffed.  I had a few finds I was excited about, including a biography of Conan Doyle by Hesketh Pearson, and - finally - a copy of Raffles by E.W. Hornung, Conan Doyle's brother-in-law.  I've been looking for a copy for awhile now, so I was super chuffed about that.  I also found a copy of The Nine Tailors, the only one of Sayers books I hadn't yet read.

 

 

All in all a really wonderful weekend.  :)



The Corpse at the Crystal Palace (Daisy Dalrymple Mystery, #23)

The Corpse at the Crystal Palace - Carola Dunn

 This is one of those series that's a reliable old friend for me.  Definitely cozy, a little bit frothy, and terribly innocent but never twee or precious, Dunn writes an historically accurate mystery that aims to offer a bit of harmless escapism.  She generally succeeds.  

 

Daisy and her step-daughter Bel are entertaining some young cousins for a week at their home in London, and on the agenda is a day at the Crystal Palace. When Daisy finds out that neither the nanny nor the nurse have been there, she ends up with a large group outing on her hands.  Everyone splits off to explore the huge building and grounds, and when it's time to meet back up, Bel and her cousins spy Nanny Gilpin running out of the "Ladies conveniences" in pursuit of another nanny.  They cannot resist following her, playing spy, to see what's up, and it's all great fun until they find Mrs. Gilpin unconscious in one of the ponds.

 

Meanwhile, Daisy arrives at the rendezvous point to find the nurse and her twins, but no nanny.  After an appropriate amount of time has passed, Daisy goes off to the Ladies conveniences to find out what's holding up nanny's return.  Only instead she finds another nanny, dead.  When Mrs. Gilpin regains consciousness (the children having dragged her out of the pond), she can't, of course, remember anything.

 

And so begins another amateur investigator by Daisy, who is determined to find out why her heretofore grave, humourless but ultra responsible nanny would hare off and leave the twins, even if it was in care of the nurse.

 

Dunn has fun playing up the meddling Daisy does, lightly pitting her in a race against her husband, DCI Alex Fletcher.  Daisy has a knack for purposely putting herself in the right place at the right time, but rather than press the point and interrogate, she merely observes and listens, picking up information as she goes, so it really isn't meddling.  This along with her connections to the peers of the realm (she's an Honourable), gives her access to information faster than the police and makes her contributions valuable, though  it pains her husband to admit it.  

 

The plotting of the mystery was so-so.  I should say, it was technically well done, but the motivation behind a couple of pivotal moments felt weak.  They worked, but only just.  This would probably be a crucial point in book 1, or any of the early entries, but by book 23 most readers are invested in the characters and will probably forgive a less than riveting plot for the chance to catch up with Daisy and her friends and family.  I did, anyway.



Whiskey in a Teacup

Whiskey in a Teacup - Reese Witherspoon

Where to begin... this was a Christmas gift from a friend here in Oz; a very thoughtful gift, as she saw it and thought, as a Southerner myself, it might be a touch of home for me while I am here on the bottom of the world.

 

This is what I'd call a 50/50 split of lifestyle and recipe book.  I'm mostly not a fan of lifestyle books, mostly because I'm pretty hopeless with the 'style' part, and I can't be bothered to care about my shortcomings.  I do enjoy a good recipe book though. 

 

I also know very little about Reece Witherspoon, except that for reasons I cannot explain even to myself, Sweet Home Alabama is a movie that has stayed with me over the years.  The smattering I do know about her seems admirable and anyone who uses their fame to start people reading is winning, as far as I'm concerned.

 

So, I went into this book with no clear expectation of what I'd think when I was done.  I'm done, and mostly, I feel meh.  But only because I'm certain I'm not the true target audience.  This feels like a book that was written almost exclusively for her fanbase.  Maybe.  Or maybe I just missed something. 

 

What I did enjoy was the reminder of all the ways being a Southerner is a wonderful thing.  I spent a lot of time yelling "Yes! This!" in my head about things such as, in no particular order, the kind of manners that were drummed into my head (I still use ma'am and sir, which does not fly here in Aus, let me tell you); frog catching; playing outdoors until the streetlights came on; how to carry on a phone conversation; how you introduce yourself.  I loved the section about accents, which made me laugh, because I still use a lot of those idioms and pronunciations.

 

The recipes look good too - there are a few I'd love to try, though MT has been shoved kicking and screaming onto the gluten free bandwagon for the foreseeable future to try to curb his inflammation levels (which, sadly for my love of all things gluten, might be working really well).  Since all the ones that sound best to me (chilli pie with cornbread topping) are not gluten free, they'll have to wait a bit.

 

All in all, not a book I'd have bought myself, but one I'll be happy to keep on the shelves. This one may connect much more with readers who are actively fans of Witherspoon's, as she comes across as genuine, honest, and sincere.



January ... it sucked.

That Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means: The 150 Most Commonly Misused Words And Their Tangled Histories - Ross Petras, Kathryn Petras Notes From A Public Typewriter - Michael Gustafson, Oliver Uberti Big Science For Little People: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Child Discover the Wonders of Science - Lynn Brunelle An Atlas of Natural Beauty: Botanical Ingredients for Retaining and Enhancing Beauty - Victoire de Taillac, Ramdane Touhami

I read 15 books in January.  Which is, by any measure, a respectable number of books.  Except my Januarys are always a book buster month, because school holidays Down Under are in December and January, so I generally don't have to work, which means I can loll about alone with my books.  I read 33 books in January 2018 and 35 books in January 2017.

 

2019 was not blessed with this decadence; I started work again right after the New Year, while the schools were empty, trying to get ahead of a number of massive networking projects that all came together at the same time.  And the iPads.  OMG, the iPads.

 

Unfortunately, I didn't get ahead of any of them, really, and work got steadily busier as the month progressed, with me working almost 44 hours more than I was contracted to in the last 2 weeks.  This has sent my narcolepsy spiralling out of control, which means if I'm not moving, I'm sleeping.  I'm pretty sure there were a couple of times when I was moving and sleeping.

 

I'm sharing this little whinge-fest with you all not because I'm doing a (back of hand against forehead) woe is me!; I'm not - my life is very good, all things considered, and this hellish period will pass.  As I told a teacher who said to me with a look akin to pity that she hoped my day would get better: "well, it will end."  This will end too.  

 

But I am super disappointed with my reading this month.  The craziness/narcolepsy has left me too tired to read more than a page or two, and the constant fatigue has left my feelings too close to the surface to be safely allowed to socialise.  So not only is my reading down, but so too is my participation here, as a blogger, buddy reader, group moderator and librarian (::shudder:: don't ask me about the librarian queue - I'm afraid to look at it).  I was really looking forward to the Pymalong and I just couldn't keep up - words I have never once said about reading in. my. life.   In the grand scheme of things, it's nothing; no big deal.  But, it sort of is, to the part of my psyche that defines my sense of self as a reader first, and pretty much everything else second.

 

So, I'm not a happy camper; this, too, will pass.  Of the 15 books I did read, the best were all non-fiction.  Some reference-types, some books about books, and a collection of science experiments to do with kids at home.  

 

Moving along, My TBR Project is going well.  For every two books I read, I can buy a new one the next month.  For January I started with a book budget of 19 books (based on the average # of books I read per month last year).  

 

January

 

Debit

Credit

Beginning Balance

 

19

Books Bought

14

 

Books Read

 

15 / 2 = 7.5*

 

 

 

Ending Balance

 

13

* I round up to nearest integer.

 

 

Onward, February!



Excellent Women

Excellent women - Barbara Pym

I'm not entirely sure what I just read.  It's beautifully written, but I'd be hard pressed to outline its plot.  Beyond being a social commentary on single women in the 1950's, with a sidebar on the changing morays of post-war Britain, there's not a lot happening.

 

Mildred is a 30-something spinster, the daughter of a clergyman, living on her own in London and living for her local church.  Mildred is quietly wry about her lot in life, while also being something of a doormat; a combination that seems incongruous to me, though that itself might be a reflection of how far we've come: I have the luxury of not only thinking wry thoughts, but expressing them, and choosing not being anybody's doormat.

 

When the flat beneath hers is let to a 'modern' married couple - the kind that were hastily married during WWII - Mildred's life is sucked into the vortex of their melodrama.  Again, something I could not relate to, but this time I couldn't even imagine a set of circumstances where Mildred's experience seems logical.  Except one, and it's the one I think Pym was using, though obliquely (by today's standards): Mildred was in love with, or crushing hard on, Rocky.  There's plenty of evidence that she was - but there's plenty to point to that shows Mildred's misery at doing Rocky and Helena's bidding as well, and again, that seems incongruous to me.  People who are crushing on their neighbours (or whomever) are generally happy to be involved in their crush's life.  Mildred is highly moral, but there's no evidence that her misery stems from the moral quagmire of crushing on a married neighbor, rather is feels like a bone deep fatigue with always being considered an "Excellent Woman".

 

Speaking of "Excellent Women", this sort of feels like Pym's true message; 'Excellent Women' are much admired and relied upon, but rarely loved or appreciated; indeed that being called an Excellent Woman is a rather back-handed compliment. If this was, in fact, Pym's intent, she sort of failed in my opinion.  The message is there, yes, but it's subtle; maybe a little too subtle, as it's drowned out by all the drama happening amongst neighbours and friends.

 

There are a few other things going on during all of this:  Julian, the vicar's, surprise romance with an unsuitable widow, Mildred's friend Dora - a bitter old prune in the making, and possibly the most awkward courtship I've ever read happening between Mildred and another character.  None of which added any depth to the story for me, nor made any of the characters more sympathetic.

 

As I said though, the writing was wonderful, and highlights included learning about the true meaning of being a slut ::grin::, and what might be one of the best character names ever: Everard Bone, couple with one of the most hilarious lines I've read in a while (context: a turned down dinner invitation):

 

Immediately he asked this, I realised that there had been a little nagging worry, an unhappiness, almost, at the back of my mind.  Everard Bone and his meat.

 

Buried amidst the terribly prim and proper setting of this book, this line struck me as inordinately funny, and evidence Pym had a wicked sense of humor.



Off-topic, not book related, and photo heavy.

My husband (MT) asked me how I wanted to spend my birthday a few weeks ago, a question he'll likely not ask me again in the future.  I told him I wanted, bodies being able and willing, to explore the nearby Otway National Park, which is primarily rain forest.

 

Last Sunday, the weather and personal health were in alignment and off we went on a series of short hikes around the park.  To say it was magic was understatement; everywhere we looked was another picture perfect scene.  I culled them down to the very best of the best, but there's still more here than I'd aimed for, so please feel free to skip this post if you're not into modern day 'holiday slides'; the TL;DR version is, if you're ever in Victoria Australia, the Otways should definitely be on the do not miss list.

 

We hit 5 places in total that included 2 waterfalls, 1 redwood forest and 1 lake.  The redwood forest is 80 years old, planted by veterans building roads through the area.  They're currently 60 meters tall and are expected to hit 120 meters in the coming years, making them some of the tallest trees in the world.

 

 

 

Old Beeches and Gums with amazing trunks were all over the forest:

 

 

 

 

A very iconic part of the rainforests here are the fern trees; not quite as tall as a palm tree, but usually about 10-12 feet (3 meters) tall.

 

Part of Triplet Falls, and possibly the winner for breathtaking scenes at every turn:



Reading progress update: I've read 48 out of 256 pages.

Excellent women - Barbara Pym

I know there are worse ways of dealing with stress than falling asleep, but it's so damn inconvenient.

 

I'm still enjoying the writing, though as Peregrinations said, there are moments throughout where I feel a tad out of my depth; comments made that I suspect are going over my head.

 

The one thing that's stopped me in my tracks was is this comment by Mrs. Napier:

 

'Oh, God, yes! You'd hate sharing a kitchen with me.  I'm such a slut,' she said, almost proudly.

 

I'm certain she's not commenting on her proclivities for bedroom activities on the dining table, but rather commenting on her low standards for cleanliness.  But it's still a very, VERY jarring use of the word slut, and one I've never seen used anywhere else in writing set in post WWII.  

 

Did this surprise anyone else?



Mardi Gras Murder (Cajun Country Mystery, #4)

Mardi Gras Murder: A Cajun Country Mystery - Ellen Byron

Cozy mysteries are perfect when life feels hard and you want to escape somewhere that feels fairly uncomplicated, even if people are being murdered.  This series, set in small town Louisiana, is one of the stronger ones to come out in recent years.  It's not perfect by any stretch, but it's got good bones, so to speak.

 

Mardi Gras Murder takes place very soon after a fairly catastrophic flood sweeps through, one that leaves behind the body of a John Doe.  At first presumed to have been a victim of the flood waters, an autopsy reveals he was shot.  As the town rebuilds and focuses on their Mardi Gras celebrations, a judge of the local beauty contest is also shot and killed, and in spite of any evidence, our MC Maggie has a gut feeling the two are related.  Of course they are.  After attempted murder is tried on another judge, Maggie starts looking for connections to the John Doe.

 

The beauty contest is a total red herring; that's not a spoiler either, as it's pretty obvious from the get go that it's meant to be.  The real ties that kill are much more investing that a vapid beauty contest, though the ultimate motivation behind them is just as shallow and meaningless. 

 

Still, the author writes a solid setting with strong characters - all of them, men and women, good and bad.  If the plotting and murder motivations aren't as strong as they could be, they're surrounded by a lot that is.  The backdrop and characters are why I probably rated this higher than I should, objectively speaking.  But I got happily lost in backwater Louisiana for a day or two, and I'll happily get lost in it again, should the author write another.



Reading progress update: I've read 11 out of 256 pages.

Excellent women - Barbara Pym

As I've mentioned here and there on BookLikes, life has been challenging the last few months, and last week was my first full week back and work - and it was full, hitting the ground running with 40 hours in 4 days.  All of this fun and joy has wrecked havoc with my narcolepsy, which has left me running behind in my RL domestic life as well as my BookLikes life.  Yesterday MT and I chucked it all and spent the day hiking the rain forests on the coast, which was absolute magic.

 

All of this to say, I'm WAY behind on the buddy read for Excellent Women because if I stop, I fall asleep.  But I am reading it and I'm hoping today, after an obligatory lunch date, I'll be able to do a monster catch up.

 

What little I've read so far has been just what I've been wanting to read lately.



You've Got Murder (Turing Hopper, #1)

You've Got Murder  - Donna Andrews

I've been a die hard Donna Andrews fan since the first book in her Meg Langslow series came out, Murder with Peacocks.  At about the same time that series started taking off in the early 2000's, she published another series where the MC is an AI (Artificial Intelligence).

 

Science Fiction in general is not my wheelhouse, and I'm philosophically opposed to AI, so I always shied away from these books in spite of knowing I'd like Andrews' writing.

 

Then I met her at Bouchercon, and she impressed me all over again with her no nonsense intelligence; soon after, I found this book and the third one in a local UBS and thought 'just give it a chance'.   So last week, I did.

 

Turing Hopper is an Artificial Intelligence Personality created by a huge corporation named the Universal Library.  One of their mandates is the universal digitisation of all books, so that they can then be sold to customers to read on their computers (pre-Kindle/smartphone).  UL also sells dial-in subscriptions to corporate and private users where they can speak to an AI who will answer all their questions. Each AI is a different personality, so customers can request specific AI's to suit their needs.  The company gives the AI's access to all the data available to make them as robust as possible.  

 

What nobody at UL realises though, is that Turing Hopper has evolved sentience.  "She" has become aware of herself, has a senes of past, present and future, and a conscience. When her creator, programmer Zack, goes missing, and nobody seems to notice, she starts looking for a digital footprint and finds nothing.  She enlists the help of the only two people who are aware of her sentience: the guy in the copy room, and a secretary.  Once they start looking, they find Zack's disappearance is just the tip of iceberg, and find themselves up to their ears in nefarious corporate manipulations.

 

This is not in the same vein as Andrews' Meg Langslow series.  There is no zaniness, no family shenanigans, no eccentric characters.  There's an inherent sweetness to Turing, but in the vein of all Andrews' female characters, she's strong willed, and clear-sighted.  It's telling of Andrews' style that of the two human characters, it's the 50-something secretary that is the mechanically inclined sidekick, while the younger man from the copy room is more the gopher.

 

The book is very well written, and as the story progresses, Andrews uses Turing to muse on what it is to be sentient and created in the image of humans.  Can she feel?  Can she understand human emotion?  But more importantly, are sentient AI 'life'?  The author certainly makes the reader care about the AI's in this book, though she doesn't advocate for or against them.  She also goes to great lengths to muse on the power of information, especially for those that have the power to manipulate it.  The result is a book that is both a little dates, and yet still current. And very relevant.

 

The story ends somewhat abruptly with a mildly shocking climax and a behind the scenes tie up of loose ends.  This mostly works, because, while there are obviously other characters involved in the plot, they remain off-stage, and their lines, if any, are few.  In general, I think her Meg Langslow series remains the stronger of the two, and I'm still not an AI / SciFi fan, but I have the third book, and I enjoyed this one enough to want to find the second one and read them all.  



The Spirit in Question (Lila MacLean Mystery, #3)

The Spirit in Question - Cynthia Kuhn

I enjoy this series a lot - it's cozy without being twee, and the mysteries are reasonably well plotted most of the time.  I also love that Kuhn shows way more than she tells; this might be the only reason I'd tell someone to read these in order.  The stories don't require it at all, but the author doesn't waste her established readers' time by going over all the backstory.  New readers might feel lost if they started with book 3 instead of book 1.

 

The Spirit in Question isn't anything I can rave about, it was just an enjoyable story.  My first inclination was to give it 3.5 stars, but that's more a reflection of my bias against mysteries that take place in the theatre.  It's a haunted theatre though, so that gave it an edge for me.

 

The plotting was solid; I had no idea who the killer was.  But on the other hand, the motive for the killer felt a little weak.  Possibly, maybe, one that unconsciously falls back on an old stereotype that feminists would grind their teeth over.  It didn't bother me, but I did notice it.

 

My only complaint about the series overall is that she doesn't write them faster.  I need more solid, dependable cozy/traditional series in my life like this one.



MbD is not a happy camper... and neither is Carlito

I'm late getting home from work today by ONE hour ...  ONE!  and my beautiful boy Carlito:

 

 

is a shadow of his former self:

 

Apparently, 'lito had 2 or 3 matted spots on his sides that the groomer couldn't cut out, so she and MT decided it was best to go full-on lion's cut on his poor feline self.  Because it would look better than the 2-3 bald spots on his sides.  More consistent.  Consistently awful.   

 

Somebody is in the doghouse for this one ... and it's not my poor, sweet, bald-ass kitty.  Who looks absolutely ridiculous.

 

The rest of me used to look as fluffy as my tail... why?  WHY???



Reading progress update: I've read 35 out of 394 pages.

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements - Sam Kean

Got through the introduction and into the first chapter - and remembered the slog of my first time reading it.  Nothing against Kean - it's just whenever we start talking about electrons swapping and using words like ions, I have t slow down to make sure I have the facts straight and I'm not conflating electrons with neutrons or anything stupid.

 

Not to mention constantly try to banish the 'old fashioned' orbital planets model from my head as I'm reading.

 

Huggins says READ FASTER - MY SPOON IS STILL MELTING!!