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Search tags: General-Fiction
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review 2017-10-07 05:26
Why We Came to the City: A Novel - Kristopher Jansma

"WHY WE CAME TO THE CITY" is a story for the millennial generation with its focus on 4 people (George, Sara, Jacob, and Irene) whose familial bonds as friends were forged at university in the late 1990s and reaffirmed at an annual holiday party at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan in late December 2008 in the immediate wake of the financial crisis. I don't usually read fiction that is contemporary or close enough to the present because the genre doesn't interest me very much. But I leafed through a few pages of this novel one day in a local independent bookstore and my curiosity was whetted. So, I dug into my wallet and made the purchase. 

Kristopher Jansma has crafted a well-written, funny, wry, sad, and reflective novel of a generation poised to fully assume its place in the world much as previous generations have done. (He is a writer to be watched.) What makes the novel especially poignant is that within this circle of 4, tragedy would strike it a cruel blow that would both cast a shadow and a light upon the preciousness and fragility of life and relationships. 

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review 2017-10-06 11:08
Distillery Cats: Profiles in Courage of the World's Most Spirited Mousers
Distillery Cats: Profiles in Courage of the World's Most Spirited Mousers - Brad Thomas Parsons

Ok, typing up the title to this post I realise I should have knocked 1/2 star off for inaccuracy in titling.  (I seem to be on a roll with this lately.)  Profiles in courage is stretching a point a bit, and as the book only covers American brewers and distilleries, which the author states upfront in the introduction, having the title say World's Most Spirited Mousers is more than hyperbolic and is flat inaccurate.


But other than that, the book is gorgeous with fabulous illustrations and charming stories of the cats earning their keep protecting the country's grains.  Interspersed amongst the stories/profiles are quotes about cats from writers and songwriters, and cocktail recipes inspired by all these fabulous cats.


This is a great book for cat lovers; steps above those 'gift' books that just have funny or motivational quotes overlaid on photos of kittens.  Guaranteed to make you smile at least once or twice.

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review 2017-10-06 01:17
A Charm of Goldfinches and Other Wild Gatherings
A Charm of Goldfinches and Other Wild Gatherings: Quirky Collective Nouns of the Animal Kingdom - Matt Sewell

Another charming and beautifully illustrated book, I was a bit disappointed at first with the writing, until I quickly figured out it's geared towards a much younger audience.  And as such, it's perfect. 


A small selection of land, sea, and air animals and the collective nouns we use to describe them, each blurb is written in a very friendly, chatty style that is sure to appeal to kids.  The illustrations should appeal to everyone.  There's a checklist at the end of the book, encouraging kids to look out for the different types of animals, some of them presumably at their local zoos, as I'm not sure many are going to see a camel walking down their street in the normal course of their day.

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review 2017-09-26 06:18
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books - Martin Edwards

This is what I imagine a bibliography in narrative form would look like.  I don't know how else to describe it.  I'd go so far as to say that there's no actual 'story', as the title implies, because there doesn't seem to be a cohesive ... point (message/timeline/etc.) between chapters.  Each chapter represents some facet that Golden Age Crime books took on:  locked-room mystery, country-house mystery, political mystery, etc. and begins with the narrative bibliography of notable works.  This is followed up with 2-4 longer essays, each giving closer attention to books that the author believes best represents that facet.


None of that is to say that it wasn't excellent - it was.  But this is a book for the serious mystery lover, not a reader with a casual curiosity about the evolution of crime writing.  Or anyone trying to curb their TBR piles.  I have so many new (old) books and authors to start hunting down it's overwhelming.  I might actually have to resort to a spreadsheet; I hate spreadsheets, but there's just too many appealing treasures here and Edwards sells them up, even when he's trying not to.  


I deducted a star because I found some of the writing sort of clunky (this is a cultural thing, I'm sure) but mostly because the chapter openings were just too crammed full of goodness; at times there could be as many as three titles and authors mentioned in a single sentence, with more immediately following.  It got to be too much at times and I'd catch myself just glazing over, without really taking in what I was reading.


This is definitely going to be a life-long source of reference for me, as well as a source of income for the used book sellers.

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text 2017-09-24 11:57
Reading progress update: I've read 170 out of 288 pages.
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books - Martin Edwards

I'm hitting the sections now that interest me less:  police, politics, although the scientific mysteries chapter had a few more titles to add to the list.  



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