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review 2019-09-16 22:45
Halloween Bingo 2019: The Second Week
Hawksmoor - Peter Ackroyd,Derek Jacobi
Eternity Ring - Patricia Wentworth,Diana Bishop
Earth-Shattering: Violent Supernovas, Galactic Explosions, Biological Mayhem, Nuclear Meltdowns, and Other Hazards to Life in Our Universe - Bob Berman,Peter Ganim
The Dead Ringer - Fredric Brown,Stefan Rudnicki
Smallbone Deceased - Michael Gilbert,Michael Mcstay
Scarweather - Anthony Rolls,Gordon Griffin
The Aeronaut's Windlass - Jim Butcher,Euan Morton

A day late (though hopefully not a dollar short), here's my "second bingo week" summary; and it's a summary of a much better week than the first one turned out to be.  (So, yey!)  For one thing this is due to the books, all of which were either outright winners or at least enjoyable on some level or other; for another, even though I finished the week with a fairly lengthy read AND RL was running really major interference, I managed to keep it to an average of one book per day, as a result of which -- and as importantly, due to the way the bingo calls have been coming in -- I've now got several sets of multiple "called and read" squares in a row or column (two of which, also with all five squares marked "read").  Obviously, even three squares marked "called and read" in a row don't necessarily mean I'll be in for a bingo anytime soon, but that one is down to the bingo gods.  All I can do is go on reading ...

 

 

The Books

 

Peter Ackroyd: Hawksmoor

The second bingo week's first book, and for the longest time it was on a solid track for a 4 1/2 or even 5-star rating.  Tremendously atmospheric, with London (both 17th century and present day) not so much merely setting but additional character and two timelines tantalizingly mirroring and winding around each other like the two strings of a double helix.  From early on, this is also a book that knows very well just how clever it is, but during the first  90-95% that doesn't matter a jot ... until it does in the end and Ackroyd takes "clever" a step too far into the symbolic, as a result of which the ending is seriously deflating.  What a pity that he proved unable to contend himself with an actual dénouement (however cleverly constructed and meaningful) and instead chose to let narrative lift off and take flight straight into the ether instead.  Still, for the vast majority of its contents, definitely a recommended read -- and the beginning in particular, set in the days of the 1665 plague and tying together the plague, a satanic cult, church construction and murder (mirrored by present-day murders in the same churches), definitely packs a punch.

 

 

 

Patricia Wentworth: Eternity Ring

Another book off to a great start; if for no other reason than the fact that we get to meet Frank Abbott's family and learn why he didn't become a lawyer -- as had initially been his chosen career path -- but a policeman instead.  (Wentworth takes us back to Frank's family home in a much later installment of the series, The Fingerprint, which I had already read before moving on to this one, but that only made it feel even more of a priority to finally catch up with this story as well.)  It felt good to be back in Miss Silver's (and Frank Abbott's) world in one of the final novels from the series that I had / have yet to read, and it was cruising along nicely and could easily have earned a higher rating, too ... if it hadn't been for the fact that (1) the murderer is fairly easily to deduce by process of elimination and by looking at it from the perspective of where Wentworth herself, as a writer, was likely going to want to take this book's plot; (2) the conflict besetting the married couple at the heart of the novel feels terribly manufactured (first because during 99% of the book it isn't explained at all, and then because the explanation, when finally offered literally on the very last pages, comes across as ridiculously contrived); and (3) the heroine is exhibiting serious bouts of TSTL behaviour both in connection with the aforementioned conflict and in the moments immediately preceding the big reveal.

 

 

Bob Berman: Earth-Shattering

Neither as "epic" nor as "profound" as the blurb promises, and definitely higher on the "popular" than on the "science" part of "popular science writing".  Based on his style of writing, I can very well imagine Berman as a personable guide at his local observatory or as a host of popular radio science programs; the problem is that what sounds approachable in dialogue and oral explanation just comes across as chatty in writing.  (This gets better once the book has left the opening chapters behind, but it never goes away entirely, and arguably the Big Bang -- which is the subject of the first single-topic chapter, i.e., chapter two -- should be the last subject you want to approach with that much of a casual attitude.  For purposes of the audio version, it definitely also does not help that the casualness factor is virtually automatically enhanced in oral performance -- which isn't necessarily down to the narrator; it's just in the nature of the beast.) 

 

In fairness, astronomy, nuclear and astrophysics will never be my strongest subjects, so as far as the actual depth of topical penetration went, it may have been a blessing in diguise that the book didn't do much more than give an overview of the various types of cataclysms and in so doing, rarely did more than scratch the surface.  (Then again, I tend to acquire both a quicker and a more profound grasp of any topic presented to me both at greater length and in greater depth than here.)  Eitiher way, this was enjoyable for what it was or turned out to be, but IMHO it's seriously being oversold in the blurb -- the author himself also seems to be quite the efficient self-promoter -- and I think it's at least also fair to wonder what medical and man-made events such as the medieval plague epidemics and WWII are doing in a book explicitly setting out to deal with astrophysical and earth-bound types of physical cataclysms.

 

 

Fredric Brown: The Dead Ringer

Brown's second Ed & Am Hunter novel and the book that, thanks to Tigus's generous gift of last year, has been pencilled in for precisely this square ever since.  I truly enjoyed my return to the Chicago and Midwest of the Classic Noir era -- Brown's writing and plot construction easily stands up to that of the likes of Chandler and Hammett, and despite their less-than-bed-of-roses life experience both of his heroes are decidedly less cynical than Messrs. Marlowe and Spade, which makes for an interesting change from the classic noir approach. 

(Though now that Ed has had his first bruises from a prolongued encounter with a blonde bombshell gold-digger, I hope his views on women in general aren't going to end up being overly skewed too fast.)

(spoiler show)

In this particular book, it also plays out to great effect that Brown knew the mid-20th century carney world from the inside -- from the start, the setting with all of its bizarre characters and attractions and its very own language (carney talk) comes alive in a way it only can if described by someone who once used to walk the walk himself.

 

 

Michael Gilbert: Smallbone Deceased

In my travels in the world of classic crime fiction, one of my truly overdue reads -- a book rightly renowned for its dry sense of humor and truly unique way of disposing of a body.  If you ever thought a crime novel set in a law office specializing on wills, trusts and property law is bound to get mired in the dust of legal lingo and technical details, think again.  Given this mystery's setting and the murdered man's position, the motive for the murder isn't hard to guess (though not all of the details are equally obvious), but thanks to the understated irony of Gilbert's writing, this is deservedly one of the novels that have endured and can still be enjoyed in an era when lawyer's deed boxes are long since a thing of the past.

 

Side note: Treat yourself to the print edition, not the Michael Mcstay audio -- Mcstay's preferred style of narration consists of hurling rapidly mumbled bursts of speech at the reader, which makes following his performance decidedly more of a chore than it reasonably ought to be.

 

 

Anthony Rolls: Scarweather

Quite a change of pace compared to the author's Family Matters, the first book by Rolls that I read -- but if the two books have one thing in common, it's a sense of the unusual and extraordinary, and an incurable urge to pour the acid of satire on experts (self-appointed and otherwise) and on society's habit of treating them, and each one of their pronouncements, as holy cows -- as sages whose every word must be weighed in gold and not under any circumstances be questioned.  In Family Matters, it's doctors, chemists and forensic experts (who are bamboozled by an onslaught of unlikely medical coincidences in connection with a death occurring in the context of a breakdown of a marriage); here it's archeologists.  There is no way this book can be fairly summed up without spoiling half the plot, but if you should decide to tag along with the narrator and his Holmesean scientist friend, you're in for quite a ride ... even if somewhere between the 50% and the 75% mark you'll probably have quite a good idea of what will be waiting for you at the end of the journey.

 

 

Jim Butcher: The Aeronaut's Windlass

The week's longest read and, perhaps surprisingly, not its best one.  To start with the plus side, this novel's most interesting characters (and its single most outstanding feature) are the cats -- not merely Rowl, the feline protagonist, but all of them; not least also Naun, the giant black tomcat leader of a tribe of street (or rather, tunnel) cats whose character constituted my reason for attributing this book to the "black cat" bingo square.  (Rowl is a ginger.)  Butcher really "gets" cats, and their scenes come across as both laugh-out-loud funny and entirely authentic.  Needless to say, almost all of the cats in this book are completely badass -- Rowl first and foremost.  If the rest of the book had lived up to the cats, unquestionably this would have ended up straight on my "favorites" shelf.

 

Unfortunately, that was not to be.  And it's not the fault of the human characters, either -- particularly the three young women, Bridget, Gwen(dolyn) and Folly, as well as Captain Grimm (the eponymous aeronaut) and Gwen's cousin Benedict -- but Butcher's own approach to storytelling.  (Which, incidentally, also makes me even more wary about his Dresden Files series than I had been before reading this book.)  The main characters in The Aeronaut's Windlass are fine, and if Butcher had given them (and me) different stuff to work with, I'd be eager to follow them on their future adventures.  As it is ... well, let's just say the jury is still out on that one.

 

For one thing, the world building here is not anywhere near as innovative as blurb writers and five-star reviews want to make you believe: Heaven knows I'm not the most ardent reader of speculative fiction, and if even I recognize some the stuff cribbed from elsewhere, there's bound to be a lot more that I didn't see.  (Seriously, Mr. Butcher -- Habble Landing as a place name and The House of Lancaster as one of the ruling families?  Geez, I thought George R.R. Martin was derivative, but are we into the derivative of a derivative now?  And a Discworld style guild system (only minus the satire)??  Be glad you're not being sued by the estate of Terry Pratchett.) 

 

Similarly, Captain Grimm and the whole aeronautics thing -- warfare, tactical battle  manoeuvers, ship construction and equipment, even down to the details of (aero)nautical language included -- are straight out of Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander and C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower series: Replace aeronautics (obviously, with the sole exception of aerial ascents and descents) by early 19th century / Napoleonic Wars seafaring craft, ships, and language, and that is precisely what you get.  Grimm himself, too, is so obviously a cousin to Hornblower in his more mature years and to his former Captain Pellew -- and Grimm's Predator a near-identical twin of Jack Aubrey's HMS Surprise (plus the whole "privateer" subplot / past so obviously built on O'Brian's Letter of Marque, as well as, incidentally, Rafael Sabatini's Captain Blood) -- that Forester's and O'Brian's (and Sabatini's) estates should, by rights, be asking for a share of the royalties as well.  To be fair, from the book's descriptions this was the one aspect I had expected -- just don't please anybody tell me that this is anything even close to original. 

 

Finally, while I did appreciate the whole "cinder spire" idea, and I seriously also appreciate the absence of any sort of infodumps, I would have liked to find out a lot more, over the course of the book, what happened to make Earth's "surface" world an uninhabitable wilderness and caused "the Builders" generation to construct the spires to begin with -- and I'm also not entirely clear how you get to square an alleged "democracy" (this is the exact term actually used) with a de-facto king (called Spirearch) who is quite obviously much more than merely a representative figure and wields true power.

 

My other gripes tie into those that I have with a lot of speculative fiction (especially sci-fi, as well as George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series), so this may be an instance of "it's not you, book, it's me" -- but anyway, the book's plot essentially consists of an incessant series of incidents of armed combat (aeronautic and on terra firma / the spires alike), every single one of which incidents goes down according to the tried and true formula of "hero(es) drawn into fight by overwhelming enemy force -- hero(es) bravely stand their ground in the face of impossible odds -- after a while enemies seem to get the upper hand after all -- and a millisecond before it all goes pear-shaped for good salvation for hero(es) comes from unexpected quarters".  Sorry, but this sort of stuff flat-out bores me every time it's served up more than once to begin with (preferably only at a book's point of climax), and that is true even more if the entire plot of a 700+ page book consists of little else.  (And it is even more true if I can anticipate the precise person or group providing the last-minute rescue -- even if not also the precise manner -- at least a chapter or two in advance, as was invariably the case here.)

 

On a related note, "surviving impossible odds in battle" also seems to be the only thing accounting for whatever character growth we seem to be seeing in this book; especially with regard to the younger main characters, particularly the young women, all of whom are inexperienced recruits and barely out of their teens.  OK, so Gwen has her moment of "how do I go back from all this warfare and combat to ordinary everyday civilian life" at the end of the book, and that was another moment I truly appreciated.  I just would have wished there had been more of this, instead of our protagonists incessantly rushing from one fight to the next -- and I would also have wished there had been some experiences for them to grow on outside the fighting stuff, as there are (aplenty) in the Hornblower and Aubrey / Maturin books.

 

Long story short, it's a miracle this book hasn't been made into a movie yet -- there's plenty of things going "boom" with a vengeance, the CGI department would have a field day, and there are also plenty of great characters to root for, both feline and human.  And who knows, I might even watch that movie.  But the whole thing is also so similar to the movies that made me essentially stop caring about any new blockbuster releases years ago that I'm not sure whether I ultimately would go and see it.  And I'm not sure I'm going to be reading the sequel to this book, either ... even though Rowl (and Naun) might eventually tempt me to do so after all.

 

 

The Card

... as of today:

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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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text 2019-09-08 11:13
Reading progress update: I've read 15%.
Hawksmoor - Peter Ackroyd,Derek Jacobi

Hooray -- what a relief to FINALLY be in the hands of an author who understands the absolutely terrifying effect of both a plague epidemic and the occult -- individually and, even more so, when experienced in combination.  After a week's worth of reading books with (alleged) supernatural and / or mystery and / or horror elements that went anywhere from "nice but kind of nondescript" to "infantile drivel", it feels like with this book and yesterday's impromptu revisit of Agatha Christie's Regatta Mystery and Other Stories, Halloween Bingo is finally beginning in earnest.

 

Obviously, it helps that this book is narrated by Derek Jacobi -- and I think it says a lot that not even Simon Vance's narration of two of the Agatha Christie stories managed to get too much into the way of my enjoyment -- but by all the gods in bingo heaven, I sorely needed some quality grown-up, well thought out writing, and Hawksmoor is delivering just that ... in spades.

 

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text 2019-07-24 00:34
Reading progress update: I've read 54%.
Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination - Peter Ackroyd

I am really enjoying this book, although I'm not sure I will finish it before Library2Go grabs it back from me since my checkout period will expire. I am sure that I'll be able to either renew it, or check it out again to finish it. I wouldn't call it an easy read, and it sometimes feels a little scattershot, but overall, I am feeling it. The author is insightful and enthusiastic.

 

Thanks for recommending it, Chris!

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text 2019-07-17 22:31
Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 560 pages.
Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination - Peter Ackroyd

I need a NF for booklikes-opoly, and Chris' Fish Place recommended this on the Crowdsourced list, so I thought I would give it a try. It looks like it will fit in nicely with what I've been reading!

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