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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.

An Inquiry Into Love and Death

An Inquiry Into Love and Death - Simone St. James

Another re-read, this one for the Terrifying Women square - because I think this woman writes the scariest books on my shelves, and her new one isn't out yet.  


In my original review I went the whole 5-star hog, but my re-read would probably be 4.5 stars.  But only because I found the start of the book a tiny bit tedious this time around; I knew what was coming and I was in a rush to get to it.  Once it started though, it was just as good as I remember and still had the ability to scare the bejeezus out of me. 


This is a good old fashioned ghost and haunted house story; nothing psychological or gory, just spooky as hell.  To keep the story rounded there's also a romance, a murder, unexpected emotional journeys, and a cat.  Because there's almost always a cat.


An antidote for Nick and Nora Charles, for those that might need it. ;-)

Dick Charleston: Now let's see what we have here. We have one missing, dead, naked butler, one host with a butcher's knife in his back, and one poisonous scorpion crawling up our sheets.
Dora Charleston: Is that what that is?
Dick Charleston: Yes. They can kill instantly. I suggest we don't move.
Dora Charleston: For how long?
Dick Charleston: Quite possibly for the rest of our lives.




I couldn't find a still of the scorpion scene, but they DO have drinks in hand!  ;)

Weekly Halloween Bingo Update

I keep my official bingo page updated as I go, but rather than re-post it every time, I'll just do a quick update once a week.


I feel like I made a lot of progress this week, in spite of a challenging beginning to the week and a minor setback concerning my chosen book for werewolves.



Squares with the white screen over them are ones that I've read but haven't been called yet.  


I'm alternating the red and orange stickers and except for the ghost square, all the called squares have been red ones.  Weird huh?  I finished up Night Watch yesterday and since I couldn't use it for the Werewolves square, I decided to use it for the free square so it wouldn't go to waste.  ;)


I'm going to do a re-read of An Inquiry Into Love and Death next for my Terrifying Women square;  I hope to get through it this afternoon - I've been itching to re-read it since bingo started, but I can't read it at night because it scares the bejeezus out of me and today's the first day I've had the chance. 


After that, the rest of my unread squares are mostly all books I've been putting off for ages for one reason or another; so the rest of bingo is going to be the real productive part of the game - giving me the motivation to read the books that would otherwise sit in TBR limbo indefinitely.

Dead Heat (Alpha and Omega, #5)

Dead Heat  - Patricia Briggs

This is the re-read I'd planned to do for the werewolves square (my original review is here), before I thought I could use Pratchett's Night Watch instead.  But since that didn't work out, I'm back to the re-read, which is ok because the new Alpha and Omega book is coming out next spring and without a re-read I'd have forgotten too many of the series details to hit the new book with any confidence.


Dead Heat holds up amazingly well under a re-read.  The action is even faster paced that I remember from the first time around, and I had completely forgotten how it ended - not the sad parts of course - but the actual final battle.  I love reading about Charles and Anna and I love the connection to the Native American beliefs that were tightly woven through this story.


Now I just have to wait 6 months before the next one.  


Night Watch

Night Watch  - Terry Pratchett, Stephen Briggs

I'm probably not doing this book justice with my rating, but as much as I think the writing is brilliant, it dragged for me badly.


I started it thinking it would work for my werewolf square in bingo, and by the time I realised it definitely wasn't (Agula the werewolf is only mentioned and never appears), it was too far in to stop.


This is a much deeper, more serious storyline that any of the other Discworld books I've read so far and there's a lot of political philosophy (and a fair amount of quantum physics).  It's brilliant political philosophy, but I was expecting werewolves, so Poli-Phi and string theory was more work than I was prepared for.  (Also, I'm not a fan of time travel plots.)


Still, this is Pratchett and as MT said, for a book I was complaining was hard work to get through, I was laughing out loud an awful lot.  Pratchett is a genius at using his words, and the scene involving the ox and the raw ginger had tears coming to my eyes (and likely theirs).  So many laugh out loud moments in this one that even though I'm glad it's over, I'm definitely also glad I've read it. 


(Luckily, there are enough other elements in this book that I can use it for the Free Space.)


It's a Book

It's a Book - Lane Smith

A children's librarian showed me this book a few years ago and I fell in love with it based solely on the last page.  Today at a church book sale, I found a copy that looks like it's never even been touched, and I snapped it up.



Because I love any children's book that ends with:


It's a book, Jackass.

(show spoiler)


Happy Birthday Agatha Christie...

Reading progress update: I've read 79 out of 364 pages.

Night Watch  - Terry Pratchett, Stephen Briggs

String theory and quantum physics in Discworld.  





Magic and Macaroons (Magical Bakery Mystery, #5)

Magic and Macaroons - Bailey Cates

I'm generally a fan of Bailey Cates writing but this one left me feeling ambivalent.  The characters remain charming, and I love the Savannah setting, but... meh.


It didn't help that the murderer was achingly transparent from the first (although part of it was a surprise, at the very end).  Really there wasn't much mystery at all.


Cates did have me smiling though when she takes a moment in the book to explain the difference between a macaroon and a macaron; both luscious desserts but utterly different from one another despite the confusing similarity of their spellings.  It was a source of confusion when I first moved Down Under, (macaroons, which are the ones made of coconut, are not generally known here at all, though macarons - think oreos made with meringue - are hugely popular), so the aside felt very relevant.  


I have the next one in the series, but unless it's a markedly more exciting plot, I might let this series go with no hard feelings.



Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal - Mary Roach

Where to start?  


This was the book chosen (by popular vote) as The Flat Book Society's first official read.  Opinions seem to be firmly split down the middle, and while possibly an inauspicious start to our fledgling club, it definitely generated a lot of discussion.  


My personal feelings about the book started off complicated:  this is not the book I signed up for.  I was hoping for an accessible but scientific look at the human digestive process from start to finish, looking at each step of the process in relative detail.  I think a lot of us thought that was the book we were getting.


Gulp is not that book.


At first this was disappointing - it still is in the sense of the curiosity unfulfilled - but as I continued reading, and adjusted my expectations once it became obvious I was not going to get the book I expected, I ended up enjoying it a lot.


Anyone who has ever read Judith Stone's columns in Discover magazine (a very long time ago) will know what to expect from Gulp (some of them were published in a book called Light Elements: Essays in Science from Gravity to Levity).  Mary Roach is Judith Stone's successor, writing about the science that either seems trivial to most people, or the science no one wants to talk about.  Obviously, Gulp is the latter.


This is an overview of digestion in general; not just human, although that is the primary focus.  Roach looks at it from both an anthropological view, discussing the effects our social views and taboos about digestion have on everything from the food we eat, to the medical care we receive, as well as the scientific as she interviews scientists, looks at case histories and discuses current research.  


Think of Gulp as an introduction; an audit (in the US English sense of the word), of the vast science of gastroenterology, written with a whole lot of humor. Roach never shies away from a joke, a double entendre, or a bit of lighthearted but vulgar fun.  She never stoops to locker room level humour and she never does it at the expense of accuracy, but you can tell she's had a good time writing this book.  She'd definitely be someone I'd enjoy meeting, although probably not at any social event including food.


If that's the kind of book that appeals to you, definitely check this out; it will be informative and entertaining.  If you're hoping for a more focused look at the intricacies of eating and digestion, pass this one on by; it will definitely disappoint.

Burn for Me (Hidden Legacies, #1)

Burn for Me -  Ilona Andrews

My husband saw the title of this book last night and rolled his eyes so hard they almost fell clean out of his head.  And I agree with him; as a reader who struggles with romance, it was a bit hard to swallow buying a book called Burn for Me.  But I love Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels series and her Innkeeper series has hooked me in spite of the sci-fi vibe it sometimes has.


This one didn't disappoint either.  And let me say up front that though this is categorised on the back of the novel as 'paranormal romance', it's definitely not.  It's much more solidly in the urban fantasy category; full of sexual tension but no sex.  The PNR designation might be because of the inevitability of romance in the future books, but so far, this is no more paranormal romance than the Kate Daniels series is.


I like Rogan.  I think the Andrews' team is setting up its readers in this first book, convincing them that Rogan is the anti-hero, but there's enough information sprinkled throughout the text that leads me to believe he is anything but.  He strikes me as a very human and moral character that made the hard calls and took a lot onto himself in order to spare others.  He's not a ball of emotions, certainly - no warm and fuzzies are going to be found coming out of him, but I like him.  He's decisive and expressive in the ways that count.


I also like Nevada, she's neither whiney nor angsty, and she's not the strongest magical person in the room wherever she goes.  So far.  The only thing I didn't like was:


her seemingly purposeful obtuseness concerning her own Prime status - she's a PI for heaven's sake, how is she not putting 2 and 2 together?

(show spoiler)


As much as I got thoroughly and completely sucked into this story, the plot could have been tighter.  There were several moments, looking back, where the storyline wanders or stalls a bit in terms of plot.  This is a lot of book for what amounts to nothing more than a story arc setup.  And I suspect there's a timeline continuity error, but I'd have to re-read the book to be sure (I'm almost certain Nevada heard from Adam after the attack on her house, though she tells the DA she hasn't).  But never once did I get impatient or bored - from cover to cover I never want to put it down.


Thank god I've already bought books 2 and 3.


NB: I read this for the Demons square based on some feedback I'd gotten, and while there are a few small moments of demon here and there, I'm not sure it's enough to really count.  I'm going to conditionally count it while I see if I have anything else that fits better (like book 2 of this series?), though I suspect my TBR is currently light on demons - unless we can count the TBR itself as a demon?  ;) 


The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe

The Haunted Grange Of Goresthorpe -  Arthur Conan Doyle

Another re-read; my original review is here, and I stand by it.  (4.5 stars)  The honorary president of the Arthur Conan Doyle Society goes to a lot of trouble apologising for the averageness of the story in the introduction and I can only wonder why.  It's a ripping haunted house/ghost story; it's fast-paced, tightly written, with tension that continues to ratchet up the reader's nerves until the very last page. 


It's fun, it can be found free online, it's Conan Doyle and I highly recommend it. 


Reading progress update: I've read 48 out of 288 pages.

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books - Martin Edwards

I'm struggling a bit for two reasons:  First, the small essays are a bit like reading book reviews, and it's hard to read a lot of them at once without them all blurring together.  Second, if I see a favourite story's essay coming up I don't focus on the current one as closely as I should and I feel like I'm rushing through, so I can see what he says about 'one of mine'.  


But neither of those things mean the the book is less than interesting and well written so far, just that patience isn't always my strong suit.  


(I am SO mad at myself for not buying Milne's Red House Mystery when I had the chance a few years ago in an out of the way used book shop.)

Themis-Athena: Look what arrived today!!

The Golden Age of Murder - Martin Edwards

Is it too late to try a side-by-side read?  Is it too much during bingo?

Reading progress update: I've read 265 out of 348 pages.

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal - Mary Roach

I've read through chapter 15 and I'm knee deep in the taboo stuff at this point and I have to say, as juvenile as it may sound, I've laughed out loud several times.  And I've learned a few things here and there.  Mostly it's just been interesting.


This might not be hard science, but she does a really good job at making an uncomfortable subject approachable.  

Reading progress update: I've read 25 out of 288 pages.

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books - Martin Edwards

Really just getting started, but hoping to catch up this afternoon.  I didn't make it through the introduction before finding a book to add to the TBR, and of the 3 short essays I've read so far, 1 is a title I already own (several editions of, no less), 1 fails to appeal, and the third is a whole series that has me interested (the Old Man by Baroness Orczy).


This doesn't bode well for my shelving issues...