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text 2019-09-19 20:17
Rereading my work
The Dragon God's Son: 1 (The Gods of Myth) - Mallory Kellogg

I've been really sick with a migraine since my surgery. Wither I'm nauseous or I'm in so much pain I wanna die. Sorry I haven't been around much. I'm getting better, thank God.

 

Anyway, I have been rereading my works because I can't remember a lot of the details. I really want to finish this trilogy so I need to get as much correct as I can. And of course I found a few type-o's. Man, i never can get them all.

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text 2019-09-09 05:38
Reading progress update: DNF at 19%.
Gods of Jade and Shadow - Silvia Moreno-Garcia,Yetta Gottesman

After having talked with Themis about this book, I´m going to DNF it. It´s not exactly bad (yet), but I´m not interested enough in this story to listen to another 8 hours of it. 

 

Which means, I have to look for another book for the Creepy Crawlies square, Luckily, I already have an idea.

 

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text 2019-09-08 18:45
Halloween Bingo: Book Selections - UPDATED
The Confessions of Frannie Langton - Sara Collins
Pyramids - Nigel Planer,Terry Pratchett
Where the Crawdads Sing - Cassandra Campbell,Delia Owens
The Guilty Ones: A Jackman and Evans Thriller - Joy Ellis,Richard Armitage
Siebengeschichten - Nina Blazon,Svenja Pages,Peter Kaempfe
Evil Has a Name - Audible Studios
Beloved - Toni Morrison
Gods of Jade and Shadow - Silvia Moreno-Garcia,Yetta Gottesman
Sorcerer to the Crown - Zen Cho,Jenny Sterlin
The Dead Ringer - Fredric Brown,Stefan Rudnicki

Like virtually all of my book consumption this year, my Halloween Bingo books are more or less necessarily going to have to be primarily audiobooks.  So I had a look at my Audible and CD collections what might fit the bill for my card, and here's what I've come up with (mostly new-to-me books but also a few rereads); currently most likely choices first, then the alternative choices in alphabetical order, and listing all books for every square where they match.

 

 

--- UPDATED WITH ACUTAL BOOKS READ / SELECTED ---

 

 

INTERNATIONAL WOMAN OF MYSTERY

Plenty of choices from the writings of white American and British women, so here I'm just going to list the non-U.S. and UK authors as well as the books by WoC.

 

Most likely:

* Sara Collins: The Confessions of Frannie Langton

* Margaret Atwood: The Testaments

 

Alternatives:

* Margaret Atwood: The Robber Bride, The Handmaid's Tale
* Nina Blazon: Siebengeschichten
* Trudi Canavan: The Magicians' Guild
* Edwidge Danticat: Krik? Krak!
* Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Gods of Jade and Shadow
* Toni Morrison: Beloved
* Sofi Oksanen: The Purge

 

 

LOCKED ROOM MYSTERY

Most likely:

* Clayton Rawson: Death from a Top Hat

 

Alternatives:

* Nicholas Blake: Minute for Murder
* John Dickson Carr: The Hollow Man
* Arthur Conan Doyle: The Golden Pince Nez, The Second Stain, The Bruce-Partington Plans, The Crooked Man, the Naval Treaty
* P.D. James: Unnatural Causes

 

 

DEADLANDS

Most likely:

* Terry Pratchett: Pyramids

 

Alternatives:

* Nina Blazon: Siebengeschichten

* John Dickson Carr: The Hollow Man
* Edwidge Danticat: Krik? Krak!
* Elizabeth Kostova: The Historian
* Terry Pratchett: Eric
* Diane Setterfield: Once Upon a River
* Bram Stoker: Dracula

 

 

FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP

Most likely:

* Delia Owens: Where the Crawdads Sing

 

Alternatives:

* Margery Allingham: Blackkerchief Dick
* Hans Christian Andersen: Fairy Tales
* J.M. Barrie: Peter Pan

* Nina Blazon: Siebengeschichten
* Jim Butcher: The Aeronaut's Windlass
* Agatha Christie: The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories, Halloween Party
* Freeman Wills Crofts: The Cask
* Edwidge Danticat: Krik? Krak!
* Joy Ellis: The Guilty Ones
* Stephen Fry: Heroes
* Elizabeth George: Careless in Red
* P.D. James: Unnatural Causes, Devices and Desires
* Dennis Lehane: Shutter Island
* Anne McCaffrey: Dragonflight
* Michael McDowell: Blackwater
* Herman Melville: The Confidence-Men
* Diane Setterfield: Once Upon a River
* Mary Stewart: This Rough Magic
* Jay Stringer: Ways to Die in Glasgow

 

 

RELICS AND CURIOSITIES

Most likely:

* Patricia Wentworth: Eternity Ring

 

Alternatives:

* Peter Ackroyd: Hawksmoor
* Hans Christian Andersen: Fairy Tales
* Nina Blazon: Siebengeschichten
* Trudi Canavan: The Magicians' Guild
* Agatha Christie: The Pale Horse, Halloween Party
* Freeman Wills Crofts: The Cask
* Edwidge Danticat: Krik? Krak!
* Jeffery Deaver: The Cold Moon
* Alexandre Dumas: The Three Musketeers
* Michael Ende: Die unendliche Geschichte (The Neverending Story)
* Ken Follett: Eye of the Needle
* Stephen Fry: Heroes
* Neil Gaiman: Fragile Things
* Michael Gilbert: Smallbone Deceased
* Jason Goodwin: The Janissary Tree
* Donna Leon: The Jewels of Paradise, The Golden Egg
* Scott Lynch: The Lies of Locke Lamora
* Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Gods of Jade and Shadow
* Ellis Peters: A Morbid Taste for Bones, The Devil's Novice
* Terry Pratchett: Wyrd Sisters, Pyramids
* Christopher Priest: The Prestige
* Philip Pullman: His Dark Materials
* Clayton Rawson: Death from a Top Hat
* Mary Stewart: The Last Enchantment
* Josephine Tey: The Daughter of Time
* Barbara Vine: Asta's Book, A Dark-Adapted Eye
* Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray

 

 

DARK ACADEMIA

Most likely:

* James Hilton: Murder at School


Alternatives:

* Nina Blazon: Siebengeschichten
* Joanne Harris: Gentlemen and Players
* Michael Innes: Death at the President's Lodging
* Robert B. Parker: School Days
* Philip Pullman: His Dark Materials
* Donna Tartt: The Secret History

 

 

 

MODERN NOIR

Most likely:

* Joy Ellis: The Guilty Ones

 

Alternatives:

* Jay Bonansinga: The Sleep Police
* Ann Cleeves: The Crow Trap, Raven Black
* Jeffery Deaver: The Bone Collector, The Cold Moon
* Hugh Fraser: Harm
* Joanne Harris: Gentlemen and Players
* Anthony Horowitz: The Word is Murder
* Marlon James: A Brief History of Seven Killings
* Dennis Lehane: Shutter Island
* Jo Nesbø: Macbeth
* Robert B. Parker: School Days
* Ian Rankin: Rebus series
* Ruth Rendell: Some Lie and Some Die
* Peter Robinson: Gallows View, Wednesday's Child
* Jay Stringer: Ways to Die in Glasgow
* Donna Tartt: The Secret History
* C.J. Tudor: The Taking of Annie Thorne
* Minette Walters: Disordered Minds
* R.D. Wingfield: A Killing Frost
* Mystery Writers of America Presents: Vengeance
* Various Authors: MachUp

 

 

GHOST STORIES

Most likely:

* Nina Blazon: Siebengeschichten

 

Alternatives:

* Georgette Heyer: Footsteps in the Dark
* Michael McDowell: Blackwater

* Barbara Michaels: Witch

* Toni Morrison: Beloved
* Ellis Peters: A Morbid Taste for Bones
* Terry Pratchett: Wyrd Sisters, Pyramids

 

 

GOTHIC

Most likely:

* Peter Ackroyd: Hawksmoor

 

Alternatives:

* Marie Belloc Lowndes: The Lodger
* Nina Blazon: Siebengeschichten
* Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights
* John Dickson Carr: The Hollow Man
* Agatha Christie: The Pale Horse
* Wilkie Collins: The Woman in White
* Neil Gaiman: Fragile Things
* Thomas Hardy: The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the D'Urbervilles
* Victor Hugo: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
* Elizabeth Kostova: The Historian
* Michael McDowell: Blackwater
* Barbara Michaels: Witch

* Toni Morrison: Beloved
* Delia Owens: Where the Crawdads Sing
* Christopher Priest: The Prestige
* Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho
* Mary Roberts Rinehart: The Circular Staircase
* Diane Setterfield: Once Upon a River
* Mary Stewart: This Rough Magic
* Bram Stoker: Dracula
* Barbara Vine: The Blood Doctor, A Dark-Adapted Eye
* Patricia Wentworth: Pilgrim's Rest
* Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray

 

 

TRULY TERRIFYING

Most likely:

* Audible Original: Evil Has a Name

* Susan Orlean: The Library Book

Substitution:

* Bob Berman: Earth-Shattering

 

Alternatives:

* Agatha Christie: Autobiography
* Neil Gaiman: The View from the Cheap Seats
* Christopher Hibbert: The Borgias and Their Enemies
* Sebastian Junger: The Perfect Storm
* Hesketh Pearson: Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life
* Patrick Radden Keefe: Say Nothing
* Bob Woodward: The Last of the President's Men, The Secret Man

 

 

CRYPTOZOOLOGIST

Most likely:

* Terry Pratchett: Guards! Guards!

 

Alternatives:

* Arthur Conan Doyle: The Lost World
* Michael Ende: Die unendliche Geschichte
(The Neverending Story)
* Stephen Fry: Heroes
* Neil Gaiman: Fragile Things
* Anne McCaffrey: Dragonflight
* Victor Hugo: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
* Terry Pratchett: Pyramids
* Philip Pullman: His Dark Materials
* Bram Stoker: Dracula
* J.R.R. Tolkien: The Children of Húrin, Tales from the Perilous Realm

 

 

DIVERSE VOICES

Most likely:

* Toni Morrison: Beloved

 

Alternatives:

* Nina Blazon: Siebengeschichten
* Zen Cho: Sorcerer to the Crown
* Sara Collins: The Confessions of Frannie Langton
* Edwidge Danticat: Krik? Krak!
* Alexandre Dumas: The Three Musketeers
* Marlon James: A Brief History of Seven Killings
* Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Gods of Jade and Shadow

 

 

BLACK CAT

Most likely:

* Jim Butcher: The Aeronaut's Windlass

 

Alternatives:

* Barbara Michaels: Witch
* Sofie Ryan: The Whole Cat and Caboodle
* Various Authors: Magicats
* Various Authors: Feline Felonies

 

 

CREEPY CRAWLIES

Most likely:

* Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Gods of Jade and Shadow

 

Alternatives:

* Arthur Conan Doyle: The Lion's Mane
* Stephen Fry: Heroes
* Victor Hugo: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
* Rudyard Kipling: The Jungle Book
* Alexander McCall Smith: The Girl Who Married a Lion
* Terry Pratchett: Pyramids
* Philip Pullman: His Dark Materials
* Bram Stoker: Dracula

 

 

COUNTRY HOUSE MYSTERY

Most likely:

* Anthony Rolls: Scarweather

 

Alternatives:

* Margery Allingham: The White Cottage Mystery
* Agatha Christie: The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories, The Pale Horse, Curtain, Halloween Party
* Wilkie Collins: The Woman in White
* Matthew Costello, Neil Richards: Cherringham
* Arthur Conan Doyle: The Naval Treaty, The Return of Sherlock Holmes (several stories), His Last Bow (several stories)
* Elizabeth George: Careless in Red, This Body of Death, Believing the Lie
* Anna Katherine Green: The Leavenworth Case
* Georgette Heyer: The Unfinished Clue, Footsteps in the Dark
* P.D. James: Unnatural Causes
* Mary Roberts Rinehart: The Circular Staircase
* Diane Setterfield: Once Upon a River
* Patricia Wentworth: Pilgrim's Rest

 

 

SPELLBOUND

Most likely:

* Zen Cho: Sorcerer to the Crown

 

Alternatives:

* Hans Christian Andersen: Fairy Tales
* J.M. Barrie: Peter Pan
* Nina Blazon: Siebengeschichten
* Jim Butcher: The Aeronaut's Windlass
* Trudi Canavan: The Magicians' Guild
* Agatha Christie: The Pale Horse
* Michael Ende: Die unendliche Geschichte (The Neverending Story)
* Jennifer Estep: Kill the Queen
* Stephen Fry: Heroes
* Neil Gaiman: Fragile Things
* Lois McMaster Bujold: The Curse of Chalion
* Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Gods of Jade and Shadow
* Terry Pratchett: Wyrd Sisters, Maskerade, Pyramids
* Philip Pullman: His Dark Materials
* Diane Setterfield: Once Upon a River
* Mary Stewart: The Last Enchantment
* J.R.R. Tolkien: The Children of Húrin, Tales from the Perilous Realm
* Various Authors: Magicats

 

 

A GRIMM TALE

Most likely:

* Stephen Fry: Heroes

Substitution:

* Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (eds.), Various Authors: A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales

 

Alternatives:

* Hans Christian Andersen: Fairy Tales
* Nina Blazon: Siebengeschichten
* Neil Gaiman: Fragile Things
* Alexander McCall Smith: The Girl Who Married a Lion
* Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Gods of Jade and Shadow

* Mary Stewart: The Last Enchantment

 

 

CREEPY CARNIVALS

Most likely:

* Fredric Brown: The Dead Ringer

 

Alternatives:
* John Dickson Carr: The Hollow Man
* Arthur Conan Doyle: The Veiled Lodger
* Christopher Priest: The Prestige
* Clayton Rawson: Death from a Top Hat

 

 

PAINT IT BLACK

Most likely:

* Trudi Canavan: The Magicians' Guild

 

Alternatives:

* Margery Allingham: The White Cottage Mystery, Blackkerchief Dick
* Nicholas Blake: Minute for Murder, Thou Shell of Death, The Beast Must Die
* Agatha Christie: The Pale Horse
* Ann Cleeves: Raven Black
* Sara Collins: The Confessions of Frannie Langton
* Wilkie Collins: The Woman in White
* Michael Crichton: The Great Train Robbery
* Thomas Hardy: The Mayor of Casterbridge
* Anthony Horowitz: The Word is Murder
* Marlon James: A Brief History of Seven Killings
* Elizabeth Kostova: The Historian
* Scott Lynch: The Lies of Locke Lamora
* Lois McMaster Bujold: The Curse of Chalion
* Toni Morrison: Beloved
* Mario Puzo: The Godfather
* Ruth Rendell: Some Lie and Some Die, Simisola
* Peter Robinson: Wednesday's Child
* Donna Tartt: The Secret History
* C.J. Tudor: The Taking of Annie Thorne
* Barbara Vine: The Blood Doctor, Asta's Book, A Dark-Adapted Eye
* Various Authors: Classic Crime Short Stories

 

 

Squares for which I've already got too many options to list them all here:

Books Read:

Murder Most Foul - Michael Gilbert: Smallbone Deceased

Psych - Sofi Oksanen: Fegefeuer (The Purge)

Read by Flashlight or Candle Light - The Lady Detectives: Four BBC Radio 4 Crime Dramatisations  

Free / Raven Square - Agatha Christie: The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories

Amateur Sleuth - Priscilla Royal: Wine of Violence

Cozy Mystery - Margery Allingham: The White Cottage Mystery

 

 

Finally, since I've found books for all of my card's squares, I don't currently expect to be using my transformation spells.  If during the game I decide I'm not in the mood for any of the book choices listed here, though, these are the squares (currently without associated books) from which, as of right now, I'd most likely make my replacement / transformation selection:

 

 

 

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text 2019-09-08 18:17
Reading progress update: I've read 19%.
Gods of Jade and Shadow - Silvia Moreno-Garcia,Yetta Gottesman

I´m not massively annoyed by this book yet, but it definitely has the potential to do so:

 

1. First off: the names. Casiopeas God of Death has an evil twin brother and both these characters have very similar names. So for me, who is listening to the audiobook, it is very hard to keep these two characters apart, especially since they have weird names (Hun-Kame and Vucub-Kame).

 

2. Vucub-Kame visits Casiopeas evil cousin, Martin, and commands him to do his bidding by saying: "Your grandfather has helped me in the past and I made him rich. You do as I say and I will make you even richer". And Martins reply is "Okay!" ... I´m sorry, but isn´t it a bit weird that the God of Death (or whatever) is standing in your grandfathers bedroom.

I can only stretch my disbelief to a certain point and I´m not buying that essentially everyone is okay with evil Gods making an appearance in their houses and not be bothered by it.

 

3. I suspect Casiopea turns into a special snowflake along the way. It´s just a hunch, though.

 

4. Hun-Kame talks and behaves like a teenager himself, even though he has been locked up in a box for the last 50 years. And he is the freakin´ God of Death, just saying.

 

I´m not sure if I want to put up with another 8 hours of this story. I could use a transfiguration card for this square and listen to another Agatha Christie on audio instead. I know I would enjoy that.

 

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review 2019-09-08 17:15
Halloween Bingo 2019: The First Week
Was It Murder? - James Hilton
Siebengeschichten - Nina Blazon,Isabel Kreitz
A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales - Terri Windling,Ellen Datlow
Wine of Violence - Priscilla Royal
Sorcerer to the Crown (A Sorcerer Royal Novel) - Zen Cho
Gods of Jade and Shadow - Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories (Hercule Poirot) - Agatha Christie
The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories - Agatha Christie,Hugh Fraser,Joan Hickson,David Suchet,Isla Blair,Simon Vance
Hawksmoor - Peter Ackroyd
Earth-Shattering: Violent Supernovas, Galactic Explosions, Biological Mayhem, Nuclear Meltdowns, and Other Hazards to Life in Our Universe - Bob Berman

So, on the plus side, despite serious RL interventions progress on my card is well under way, with four squares (including the centre / free / raven square) marked "called and read"; three of these in a row -- plus reading for the remaining two squares of that row also in progress -- and several more options in place to go for a bingo, depending how the next couple of calls come out.

 

On the downside, I seriously hope my book selections are going to improve.  Except for Priscilla Royal's Wine of Violence, which delivered all that I had hoped from it and then some, most of the first bingo week's books fell well short of my expectations.  It's not that they were awful (with one significant exception), but they could have been so much more, and that's obviously what I'd been hoping for.  I hope with yesterday's spontaneous revisit of Agatha Christie's Regatta Mystery and Other Stories and the book I started (also yesterday) for the Gothic square, Peter Ackroyd's Hawksmoor, I've finally turned that corner.  (Ditto my planned read for today's call, Black Cat -- Jim Butcher's The Aeronaut's Windlass.) 

 

Still, apologies if the tone of some of the below should rub anybody the wrong way -- I'm moderately miffed with my bingo books so far.

 

N.B.: Below I am, with one exception, using the relevant audiobook covers, as with most of these books I either went back and forth between the print and the audiobook version or I listened to the audiobook throughout (even though I do also own the print version).

 

The Books

 

James Hilton: Was it Murder?

My 2019 pre-bingo read and actually a fairly decent start into the game.  And yes, this is "the" James Hilton of Goodbye Mr. Chips and Lost Horizon -- actually, in a number of ways this book was probably Hilton's dry run for Goodbye Mr. Chips.

 

Hilton's protagonist jokingly describes writing a novel a young Oxbridge graduate's rite of passage, and that may very well have been what was at work with Hilton himself here, too, tapping into the interwar period's craze for mysteries to boot.  It's a good thing he eventually decided to leave the "mystery" bit behind -- but what really does stand out in this book is the very well-crafted public school atmosphere.

 

(For those who are interested, this book was originally published under the pseudonym Glen Trevor, and later also republished with the somewhat spoilery title Murder at School.)

 

 

Nina Blazon: Siebengeschichten

A collection of short stories featuring ghosts and other supernatural elements, set in places ranging from Ireland, England and the U.S. to Sweden, Iceland, France and Japan.  (Perhaps a minor point, but why not also in the author's own Germany and Slovenia?  Indeed, in some -- though not all -- of the stories the choice of the setting feels entirely random.) 

 

The title literally translates as "Sevenstories" and turns out to be merely a fancy way of saying "this is a collection of seven stories"; it's not an allusion to any particular feature of the book.  Based on the fact that the entry that's obviously intended as a tribute to Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray manages to get the core element of Wilde's novel only halfway right I'm not wholly confident about the author's research into the supernatural elements from other cultures she uses and with which I am less familiar (especially those from Japanese mythology and folklore), but that aside, I've spent a few moderately entertaining hours with this book.  The two standout entries are probably a fairly well-crafted Stephen King-type "Christmas horror" story and a tribute to the Icelandic troll folklore; followed by a story (randomly set in France) playing on mirrors and on the question what is real and what is perception.  By and large, though, it's not a major loss to the non-German speaking public that so far this collection doesn't seem to have been translated into English.

 

 

Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (eds.); Various Authors: A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales

Considering that according to the preface the authors of this collection are supposed to be exploring "the dark side" of fairy tales, most of the stories here come across as unexpectedly light and fluffy.  Maybe this is due to the fact that I actually grew up with the real thing -- the Grimm Brothers', Hans Christian Andersen's, Charles Perrault's and Wilhelm Hauff's original tales, instead of their Disney versions (which the authors of this collection's preface blame for the modern-day bowdlerization of fairy tales and our perception of them) -- but even today I find those original tales decidedly scarier (and also more interesting) than most of the stories in this collection, even if I do credit the authors' frequently original approach in giving them a contemporary context.  If it hadn't been for the Garth Nix's Hansel's Eyes and Patricia McKillip's update on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, both of which are truly superb (and do deliver on the "dark side" premise -- in spades), this would have been a three-star read for me at most.

 

 

Priscilla Royal: Wine of Violence

The first book of Priscilla Royal's longstanding medieval mystery series focusing on Eleanor, Prioress of (fictional) Tyndall Priory in Norfolk.

 

This is a series I've long wanted to start and that I had penciled in as a "definite" for this year's bingo.  In fact, by the time I began reading this book, I had already started Zen Cho's dismal Sorcerer to the Crown (see below), and coming after two so-so short story collections and looking at a book (in Sorcerer to the Crown) that I'd definitely have DNF'd if it hadn't been for Halloween Bingo, I decided a change of pace was more than called for.

 

As I was / am new to the series, of course I didn't know for sure this was going to be the book that would deliver the goods, but I'd seen and heard enough about it to be reasonably confident, and Ms. Royal essentially won me over with her preface, where she sets out her approach -- as well as the series's real life background -- and which shows just how much research she'd put into it.  And after the first couple of chapters I knew for sure I'd hit on a winner: The period atmosphere is finely crafted, the characters are fully rounded and believable (even if Eleanor -- period allowances notwithstanding -- sometimes comes across as a bit too worldly-wise for her age), and the mystery plotting is solid, never mind that it did peter out a bit towards the obvious towards the end.  But for a "first in the series", this was a very satisfying read and exactly what the doctor ordered at the time.

 

 

  

Zen Cho: Sorcerer to the Crown

As indicated above, I knew early on that if it hadn't been for Halloween Bingo I'd have DNF'd this book, and I was tempted to do just that right until the very end.

 

When I began composing this post, I didn't think I was going to write much more than "infantile drivel" in my summary of Cho's book, but as I've since had an exchange with BT on it here, I might as well copy over what I said in that conversation (with a copy of minor add-ons to round out the picture):

 

The premise of this book sounded really good -- and this shall teach me (again) not to buy into hype.  Essentially, it turns out that this is fanfiction for Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (and probably also for Naomi Novik's Temeraire series, though I haven't read those books, so I can't say for sure), written by an author who wouldn't even know how to craft ordinary adult communication if hit over the head with it (way above and beyond "mere" TSTL behavior), and whose idea of (1) politics (both domestic and international, including and in particular early 19th century British politics), (2) power (including the thought processes, actions, responses, strategies and priorities of those wielding it, in politics, business / civil society associations, and elesewhere) and (3) not least, magic (!) is strictly kindergarten level.  Add to that plot holes and inconsistencies big enough to drive several carriages through and a complete lack of Georgian society atmosphere (note to the author: absent a coherent whole, the description of ball gowns and interiors or the mention of carriages does not replace the creation of period atmosphere), against which the use of isolated speech patters obviously copied from Austen (such as "do not you" / "is not he" interrogative constructions) comes across as nothing short of gimmicky.

 

The only reason why I am rating this 1 1/2 stars (instead of 1/2 or even 0) is that Cho makes the attempt to address both race and gender issues in the context of her book.  Unfortunately, however, that alone is by far not enough to salvage the decidedly less-than-workmanlike execution of the whole.

 

I'm not the biggest fan of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell -- the beginning, the end, and the world building are superb, but for me it seriously dragged in the middle -- but I'll be the first to recognize that it really does accomplish something new and original.  If there has to be fanfic for it, at least let it be something that at least halfway stands up to the original.

 

That said, I've given the audio version an extra half star and promoted Jenny Sterlin straight to my "you can read me the phone book" list of narrators, as she essentially did just that and still managed to make at least bits of it actually sound more interesting and "alive" than taken straight off the page.

 

 

 Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Gods of Jade and Shadow

A (largely) modernized retelling of the Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the Mayas, set in 1920s Mexico.  The beginning easily draws the reader in, Casiopeia is a likeable enough (and well-drawn enough) heroine, and the book has an -- albeit somewhat sketchy -- recognizable 1920s atmosphere with an initial rural Yucatán setting that likewise rings true.  What does eventually drag the book down significantly, however, is its absolutely casual treatment of the supernatural elements of its story and more particularly, the elements of the specific context in which it is set.  Let's make no mistake: Casiopeia moves among the gods of the Mayan underworld; i.e., in a world that was, at least to the extent that the Mayas had integrated part of the Aztec and Toltec beliefs and rituals into their own religion, controlled by an absolutely merciless, cruel and bloody death cult; and it is precisely this cult that plays out in the Popol Vuh.  And yet we're to believe that our heroine not only zips back and forth across Mexico alongside the supreme ruler of just that world without the slightest bit of fear but she actually talks back to him out of nothing more than spite without ever incurring his wrath (and I mean wrath, not some sort of minor dislike) -- and without suffering severe personal consequences as a result?  Not on your life. 

I can buy some of the scenes and exchanges towards the end of the book, because we're told he becomes progressively more human, weaker and more vulnerable (and "of course" he falls in love with our heroine), but at the beginning and, say, during the first half of the story?  Nope.  Just -- no.  Not in a million years.  (Also, the descent from all-powerful deity to something at least approaching mortality should be absolutely enormous here.  Instead of which, it barely registers.  No, nope, and no again.)

(spoiler show)

Ditto, to an only marginally lesser extent, the other creatures endowed with supernatural powers that Casioipeia encounters.  Ditto, also, the final conflict arising out of the two protagonists' changing nature, which is only partially developed and ultimately resolved in a way too convenient fashion.

 

As a side note to those who are planning to read this book for the Creepy Crawlies bingo square: Don't despair -- the justification for this square does eventually show up, even if you have to wait quite a while for it.  Fortunately (for me at least) it's not the nightmare-inducing sort.

 

 

Agatha Christie: The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories

I decided I needed a palate cleanser towards the end of the week, and there's nothing better than a book by Agatha Christie to serve that purpose.  (Since she is also one of my quintessential "go to" bingo authors, it seemed only fitting to use this collection for the center / raven square.)  I know both this collection as such and have also listened to all of the audio recordings of each of the stories collected here, but that didn't take away in the slightest from the joy of revisiting them.  Here's to finding more along similarly solid lines for the rest of my bingo reading!

 

 

Peter Ackroyd: Hawksmoor

In progress since last night -- off to a phantastic start.  Fingers crossed.

 

 

Bob Berman: Earth-Shattering

The Flat Book Society's September 2019 read.  I haven't progressed very far yet (so far, it seems to be along the lines of "astrophysics for total beginners"), but if it's done one thing already, it's demonstrated that the forces involved in the Big Bang (and similar cosmic cataclysms) more than justify its use for the Truly Terrifying bingo square.

 

 

The Card

... as of today:

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