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review 2020-04-20 12:30
Junkyard Cats by Faith Hunter
Junkyard Cats - Faith Hunter,Khristine Hvam

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I really enjoyed this book. I picked this one up as a freebie on Audible and decided to listen to it right away. Unfortunately by the time I got around to writing my review, I didn't remember enough of the details to put together any kind of halfway decent collection of thoughts. It is a rather short book at just 5 hours of listening time so I decided I would just give it another listen, which is what I did.

While I read and listen to a little bit of just about every genre, I don't tend to read a lot of science fiction. I did appreciate the futuristic world that this story was set in. I liked the technology that was worked into the story. Even the cats in this story were not the normal cats like I have come across in my life. These cats work as a team and treat Shining as their leader. I liked the way that the world-building gradually built over the course of the story with each piece of information adding to the overall world.

I thought that this book was exciting. There was a lot going on and it is obvious from the very beginning that things are looking bad for Shining and the gang. As the story progressed, I realized just how much danger they were really in. I liked the way that the past that brought the characters to this point in their life was worked into the story and I thought that it really helped me get to know and like the characters better.

Khristine Hvam did a fabulous job with the narration. I thought that she did a great job with all of the character voices and was able to add a lot of excitement to the story. She read the story with a very pleasant voice and read at a perfect pace. I think that her performance added to my overall enjoyment of the story.

I would recommend this book to others. I found this to be a great story filled with great characters and just the right amount of action. This is the first book in the Junkyard Cats series and I look forward to reading future installments.

Initial Thoughts
This was really well done. I have had Faith Hunter's books on my tbr for years but haven't picked one up before starting this audiobook yesterday. I ended up having a fantastic time with this story. I thought that the premise of the story was very unique and I thought that the world-building was very well done. I thought that the characters were great and I wanted to see Shining Smith come out of the situation she found herself okay. I thought that the narrator really brought the story to life which added to my enjoyment.

Book source: Audible freebie

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text 2020-04-13 16:55
Cat levity

 

Esme wants to remind everyone to stay at home. 

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review 2020-04-13 15:15
Et in Arcadia ego.
Scales of Justice - Ngaio Marsh
Scales of Justice - Ngaio Marsh,Philip Franks

Scales of Justice is a book from the middle segment of Ngaio Marsh's Inspector Alleyn series and a superb example of the "serpent [even] in Paradise" type of Golden Age mysteries.  Marsh goes to great lengths to establish the book's seemingly idyllic rural setting, beginning with its name, Swevenings (which we learn translates as "dream(s)"), and introducing us to it through the eyes of the village nurse, who looks down on the village from a nearby hill and imagines it as a picture map, which she eventually really does persuade someone to draw for her, and which the book's print editions duly supply in turn.

 

Yet, we very soon learn that all is not well in the Garden of Eden, and what superficially only seems like a petty squabble among neighbors, such as they may occur in any village, soon turns out to be a harbinger of much greater evil.  It doesn't take long to emerge that when the local squire -- a retired, formerly high-ranking diplomat -- dies (of natural causes), with what seems like a version of Pascal's wager and the word "Vic" on his lips, he is not, after all, belatedly asking for the local vicar to be called to administer the Last Rites.  And by the time a murder does occur not too much later, the village air is brimming with suspects and motives aplenty.

 

But to me, the book's real significance doesn't lie in its reprisal of one of the Golden Age mystery formulas successfully established in the interwar years as such ("et in Arcadia ego"), complete with rural charms and plenty of quirky characters (and cats!), but, rather, in what it has to say about that Britain in the years immediately prior to WWII -- and when it says so.  Scales of Justice was first published in 1955, just about a decade after the end of WWII; at a time when most of the world, and certainly Britain (and of course Germany) was still reeling from the effects of the war, and people were anything but willing to confront the causes of that war and take a close look at their own societies in the years leading up to it.  (In fact, in Germany the 1950s are now infamous for having produced a whole barrage of overly idyllic, kitsch as kitsch can movies dripping with the cloying, simplistic sweetness of clichéd romance and perfect Alpine scenery straight from the front cover of a high gloss travel brochure -- all in response to the viewing public's desire to blunt out the memory of the war years and evade any reflection on how the Nazi regime and the catastrophe it wrought could ever have happened in the first place.)  And while today we take it as a given that the Blackshirts and their ilk are a proper topic for discussion, in books and otherwise, I don't get the sense that this was a given in 1950s' fiction, particularly not in (ostensibly light) genre fiction such as this.  Yet, here the topic is front and center: kudos to Ms. Marsh for having the guts to give it this sort of exposure at the time when she chose to do so, and also for not falling into the trap of an overly convenient solution to the mystery into the bargain.

 

Linguistically and as far as the characters are concerned, too, this is Marsh at the top of her game: Her (professionally trained) painter's eye makes it easy for her to create the Swevenings setting in the eyes of her readers' minds in turn, and her ear for dialogue and experience as a director on the classical (Shakespearean) stage allows her to establish character with just a few well-crafted strokes of her writer's pen.  The book's imagery, from the setting, names ("Edie Puss" indeed ...), and the titular double-entendre (which is expressly referenced in the book) to the cunning old trout that seems to be at the heart of so much of the village squabble is always spot-on and frequently tongue in cheek.  Alleyn -- for once only accompanied by Inspector ("Br'er") Fox, not also by his wife, painter Agatha Troy -- is in fine form and, thanks to his customary focus on the physical evidence and the timeline of events, quickly able to distinguish the material and the immaterial.  My favorite characters are, of course, the representatives of the local feline element; in particular one Ms. Thomasina Twitchett.  The book is not burdened by any of Marsh's shortcomings (such as anti-gay prejudice and a sorrowful lack of knowledge of organized crime, which didn't stop her from writing about it on occasion).  Instead, it is a superb example of Marsh's writing at its best -- human society and behavior acutely observed and both incisively and empathetically rendered, balancing just the right amounts of humor, scorn and dispassionate analysis, and a crackingly fiendish mystery to go with it all.

 

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text 2020-04-11 23:02
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Scales of Justice - Ngaio Marsh,Philip Franks
Scales of Justice - Ngaio Marsh

I love this book.  It's Marsh at her best; linguistically, in terms of setting and characters ...and it has a lot of things to say about people, society, and social conventions; not to mention that given the time of its publication, it's a remarkably frank look at some ugly truths which at that particular time most people would rather not have faced up to.

 

Oh, and it features cats, of course -- and they (well, one of them) even plays a pivotal part.

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text 2020-04-11 13:28
Reading progress update: I've read 15%.
Scales of Justice - Ngaio Marsh,Philip Franks
Scales of Justice - Ngaio Marsh

I revisited this not so long ago, but this is one of the books from this series that I can't reread often enough.  And I simply love the Philip Franks audio -- he absolutely nails these characters (and the "et in Arcadia ego" atmosphere).

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