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text 2018-01-08 18:58
2017 in Review
How To Be A Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Everyday Life - Ruth Goodman
New York 2140 - Kim Stanley Robinson
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World - Andrea Wulf
Murder Must Advertise - Dorothy L. Sayers
The Summer Before the War: A Novel - Helen Simonson
Racing the Devil - Charles Todd
Calamity in Kent - John Rowland
Ashes of London - Andrew Taylor
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie
Agnes and the Hitman - Bob Mayer,Jennifer Crusie

2017 was an excellent reading year around here.  I had four five-star reads, not counting re-reads, which is a very high total for me, out of some 90+ books read.  One was a novel - 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson, and three non-fiction: The Invention of Nature, by Andrea Wulf, and two by Ruth Goodman, How to be a Tudor, and How to be a Victorian.  Wonderful re-reads included Dorothy L. Sayers' Murder Must Advertise, several Mary Russell novels by Laurie R. King, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (which I think I read in about 1978, but remembered nothing).

 

The best historical novel I read in 2017 was The Summer Before the War, by Helen Simonson, and the best new mystery Racing the Devil, by Charles Todd.  I read a decent amount of non-fiction, all of it good, from The Glass Universe (about the ladies of the Harvard Observatory) to Michelangelo's Ceiling (Damn it, your holiness, I'm a sculptor, not a painter), The Sun and the Moon (the Man-bats, or America's first great "fake news" story), and A is for Arsenic (Agatha Christie knew her poisons).

 

I had some reads that were just pure fun, like Jennifer Crusie's Agnes and the Hitman, Deborah Harkness' trilogy on witches, or Anne Bishop's novels about The Others.

 

It did have down moments.  Calamity in Kent's plot boiled down to "Scotland Yard inspector decides his tabloid journalist friend, Jimmy, is the best choice to solve a locked room mystery, and tells Jimmy to go for it."  Um.  OK?

 

The one which angered me, however, was my sole 1-star read of the year, The Ashes of London, which was billed as a thriller set during the Great Fire of London.  It is set *after* the fire, did not have very good historical detailing (it could have been pretty much anywhere and anywhen in the past that had suffered a large fire), and had two narrators, neither interesting.  And then it offended me with a touch of "let's start the characterization of the woman by having her evil cousin rape her" and I was out.

 

But most of my reading year was wonderful.  I hope yours was, too.

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review 2017-05-25 20:33
Agnes and the Hitman
Agnes and the Hitman - Bob Mayer,Jennifer Crusie

Agnes publishes her syndicated food column under the name of "Cranky Agnes," inspired by her anger management issues; she is, however, justifiably cranky one night when a teenaged mobster shows up with a gun, attempting to kidnap her dog.  (She whacks him over the head with a handy cast iron frying pan.)

 

Luckily for Agnes, her uncle the semi-retired(?) mobster has sent a hitman, Shane, to look after her.  And the five million dollars that might be stashed in her house.  What ensues are more attempted hits (on the dog, Agnes, and assorted other people), police investigations, non-police investigations, flamingos, explosions, frying pans, larceny, and a high-society mob wedding.

 

It's a mob-themed romantic comedy-suspense thriller-farce.  And a lot of fun to read.

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review 2017-04-04 22:12
Agnes and the Hitman
Agnes and the Hitman - Bob Mayer,Jennifer Crusie

I needed this book. 

 

"Take one food writer named Cranky Agnes, add a hitman named Shane, mix them together with a Southern mob wedding, a missing necklace, two annoyed flamingos, and a dog named Rhett and you've got a recipe for a sexy, hilarious novel about the disastrous side of true love…" 

 

This book was hilarious (I literally did a spit take at one point) and very well-written. It's a good blend of heavy and light (contract hits and cooking, anyone?), that doesn't feel forced or implausible. 

 

I feel like I'm hardly doing justice with this review, but I definitely recommend it, and will be buying my own copy!

 

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text 2017-04-04 07:46
Reading progress update: I've read 247 out of 368 pages.
Agnes and the Hitman - Bob Mayer,Jennifer Crusie

I should be sleeping... But I can't put this book down yet.

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text 2017-04-04 06:28
Reading progress update: I've read 139 out of 368 pages.
Agnes and the Hitman - Bob Mayer,Jennifer Crusie

Loving this so far! Makes me wanna cook more, and maybe adopt some kid named Garth to help fix up our acreage :)

 

I needed this after the last two!

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