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review 2017-12-18 22:13
The Green Man / Kingsley Amis
The Green Man - Kingsley Amis

A ghost story for adults. Like all good coaching inns, the Green Man is said to boast a resident ghost: Dr Thomas Underhill, a notorious seventeenth-century practitioner of black arts and sexual deviancy, rumoured to have killed his wife. However, the landlord, Maurice Allington, is the solewitness to the renaissance of the malevolent Underhill. Led by an anxious desire to vindicate his sanity, Allington strives to uncover the key to Underhill's satanic powers. All the while, the skeletons in the cupboard of Allington's own domestic affairs rattle to get out too.


Maurice Allington is not the kind of guy you want to get mixed up with—he may be the well-known proprietor of the inn The Green Man, but he drinks far too much, ignores his wife and daughter, and spends his free time propositioning his friend’s wife. When he starts seeing things around the inn, we have to wonder if his drinking has finally addled his wits, for Maurice certainly doesn’t believe in the ghosts that he advertises to lure guests.

I remember a TV show based on this book, which I skipped based on how much the ads for it disturbed my peace of mind. Maybe I should have watched, because the book didn’t bother me a bit! I found Maurice to be completely unreliable as a narrator of his own experience—too alcohol impaired to be trusted—and since no one else shares in his visions/delusions, I was able to control my imaginative faculties and remain calm. As Maurice reflects a one point, “I thought to myself how much more welcome a faculty the imagination would be if we could tell when it was at work and when not.” But mine doesn’t work that way—it is often overactive when I would like it to mind its own business.

A good ghost story for people who normally don’t care for them.

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review 2017-12-10 17:30
All is Fair by Emma Newman
All is Fair: The Split Worlds - Book Three - Emma Newman

Series: Split Worlds #3


This book took me quite a while to get through, so this is actually the first book I've finished in December, but that shouldn't be viewed as a negative reflection on the book. The book (and the series) is great. Here we have the aftermath of the last book playing out and Cathy learns more about the Agency and tries to find new ways to help people in the Nether now that she's duchess. William even redeems himself a bit and the side plot with Lord Iron really didn't go the way I expected. I didn't expect the sorcerer of Mercia stuff to go the way it did either. Unexpectedness all around! 


The green cover lets me count this for square 10 for Festive tasks, Pancha Ganapati: read a book whose cover has one of the 5 colors of the holiday: red, blue, green, orange, or yellow.


I've decided to count this book for square 7's International Human Rights Day book instead, read any story revolving around the rights of others either being defended or abused. Cathy learns that even though she's paying the Agency for her servants as if they're earning wages, the servants don't actually receive wages and so she sets out to change this in her household. She also tries to seek out like-minded people who could help her fight for women's rights in the Nether.


And you know what's next in the series? The fourth book! (I'm pretty that's one of the other squares). [edit: square 5, actually: Advent]


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review 2017-11-12 01:02
Girl With All the Gifts - audio review
The Girl with All the Gifts - M.R. Carey,Finty Williams


Melanie takes the reader on an exciting, suspenseful, and unexpected journey that explores the meaning of what it is to be human.


There are surprises that I don't want to give away, but let me say this book is an amazing read that you shouldn't miss.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-11-09 11:58
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 1 - Calan Gaeaf: Nemo Granny & Greebo Impune Lacessit*
Carpe Jugulum (Discworld, #23) - Terry Pratchett

Well, I guess that's what happens if you p*$$ off Granny Weatherwax (however unintentionally) and make her take to a cave in the Lancrastian mountains ... next thing you know, you have vampires moving into the castle, and into the kingdom as such.  And since they were foolishly invited in to begin with, they're near impossible to get rid of again; and let's face it, Nanny Ogg, Magrat and Agnes between them might be witches; they might even meet the requirements of a proper coven now that Magrat is a mother, but they aren't Granny, not even with all their forces combined.  (Perdita, now ...) 

So all of Lancre and the reader have to jointly suffer for well over half a book before Granny decides she's let things go on for long enough and finally makes an appearance.  And of course she ultimately saves the day, even if only by the skin of her neck and with the assistance of inner voices, a few drops of blood, the general and specific allure of tea, and a meak priest discovering his inner Brutha just in time.  (Of course it also comes in handy that somebody thought of bringing a double-edged axe, and that some vampires of the older generation still have a sense of tradition left.)

(spoiler show)


Nice going, at any rate, on the debunking of what "everybody knows who knows anything about vampires" (including the vampires themselves, who however just don't learn ... or didn't until this new breed came around, that is), and big grins all around for the co-starring Wee Free Men.  My favorite moment, however, came courtesy of Greebo -- who by the way also has decidedly too little stage time -- with the incidental appearance of an otherwise entirely negligable vampire named Vargo:

"As the eye of narrative drew back from the coffin on its stand, two things happened.  One happened comparatively slowly, and this was Vargo's realization that he never recalled the coffin having a pillow before.


The other was Greebo deciding that he was as mad as hell and wasn't going to take it any more.  He'd been shaken around in the wheely thing, and then sat on by Nanny, and he was angry about that because he knew, in a dim, animal way, that scratching Nanny might be the single most stupid thing he could do in the whole world, since no one else was prepared to feed him.  This hadn't helped his temper.


Then he'd encountered a dog, which had triled to lick him.  He'd scratched and bitten it a few times, but this had had no effect apart from encouraging it to try to be more friendly.


He'd finally found a comfy resting place and had curled up into a ball, and now someone was using him as a cushion --


There wasn't a great deal of noise.  The coffin rocked a few times, and then pivoted around.


Greebo sheathed his claws and went back to sleep."

(I think someone else included this in their review recently, too, but it's just too good not to do it again -- all the more since Greebo, overall, really is as woefully long absent as Granny in this one.)


Read for Square 1 of the 16 Tasks of the Festive Season, Calan Gaeaf: "Read any of your planned Halloween Bingo books that you didn’t end up reading after all, involving witches, hags, or various types of witchcraft."


* "Don't mess with Granny and Greebo."  Or somewhat more literally: "Nobody messes with Granny and Greebo unpunished."




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text 2017-11-07 18:44
Reading progress update: I've read 175 out of 425 pages.
Carpe Jugulum (Discworld, #23) - Terry Pratchett


This is one of my left-over Halloween Bingo books; I'm reading it for the Calan Gaeaf part of square 1 of the "16 Tasks of the Festive Season". 


I started this book last night because I urgently needed a comfort read after Val McDermid's disappointing Forensics.  So far, it's not really doing the job, however ... too little Granny Weatherwax!  (And decidedly also too little Greebo, for that matter.)  I trust Granny will return in time for the grand finale, but man ... a Discworld Witches book where she scarcely even shows her face during almost the entire first half of the book?  What was Pratchett doing, trying to demonstrate what an essential part of the Witches subseries Granny is?  Thank you, I already knew that without having it jammed into my face sledgehammer-style!


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