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review 2018-11-05 18:44
London Rules / Mick Herron
London Rules (Slough House) - Mick Herron

London Rules might not be written down, but everyone knows rule one.  Cover your arse.

 

Regent's Park's First Desk, Claude Whelan, is learning this the hard way. Tasked with protecting a beleaguered Prime Minister, he's facing attack from all directions himself: from the showboating MP who orchestrated the Brexit vote, and now has his sights set on Number Ten; from the showboat's wife, a tabloid columnist, who's crucifying Whelan in print; from the PM's favourite Muslim, who's about to be elected mayor of the West Midlands, despite the dark secret he's hiding; and especially from his own deputy, Lady Di Taverner, who's alert for Claude's every stumble.

 

Meanwhile, the country's being rocked by an apparently random string of terror attacks, and someone's trying to kill Roddy Ho.

 

Over at Slough House, the crew are struggling with personal problems: repressed grief, various addictions, retail paralysis, and the nagging suspicion that their newest colleague is a psychopath. But collectively, they're about to rediscover their greatest strength - that of making a bad situation much, much worse.

 

It's a good job Jackson Lamb knows the rules. Because those things aren't going to break themselves.

 

I think Mick Herron’s Slough House series just keeps improving! Herron brings his characteristic humour to the creation of the failed spies of Slough House, with characters who all exhibit personal problems that interfere daily with their ability to function.

Eight months of anger fucking management sessions, and this evening she'd officially be declared anger free. It had been hinted she might even get a badge. That could be a problem--if anyone stuck a badge on her, they'd be carrying their teeth home in a hanky.



Roderick Ho, the obnoxious computer nerd, gets to shine not-so-brightly in this installment. He’s been assigned to Slough House because of the ridiculous self-delusionary bubble that he inhabits, not because of a work screw up. And the nature of his personal fantasy life tips him into the hands of North Korean operatives, bent on showing the U.K. that the Hermit Kingdom is its superior.

Despite the fact that all the other damaged members of the House despise Rod, when a car tries to run him down while he is stalking Pokemon on his way to work, everyone decides that they need to protect one of their own. Needless to say, Ho didn’t notice the attempt on his life and remains pretty clueless throughout the book. After four other volumes, we would expect no less (or is that no more?) of the Rodster.

Jackson Lamb, the malignant supervisor of Slough House, is at his obnoxious best in this installment. He is smoking to excess, drinking to excess, not maintaining his personal hygiene, insulting everyone who crosses his path, and (still) emitting reeking farts at will. But as truly horrible as he is, he protects his own. I was particularly happy, when at the end of this book, Lamb insists

that Roddy Ho be returned to Slough House rather than terminated.

(spoiler show)

 

 

As Lamb remarks: Slough House, putting the “us” in “clusterfuck.”

 

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text 2018-11-02 13:58
Reading progress update: I've read 190 out of 256 pages.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - C.S. Lewis,Pauline Baynes

 

My First Task of the Festive Season!

 

Reading a book from a completed series.

 

Plus, it fits with my previous reading plans for 2018.  Two birds, one stone.  So to speak.

 

Should finish it up on Saturday at the latest.

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text 2018-11-01 17:18
Reading progress update: I've read 254 out of 336 pages.
London Rules (Slough House) - Mick Herron

Ho's room was heavy with an acrid, non-specific odour which caught and bottled, would probably kill rodents, or old people.  Louisa was breathing carefully.  On any list of rooms she was never likely to find herself in, this one was right behind Benedict Cumberbatch's, though for diametrically opposite reasons.

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review 2018-11-01 14:12
The Mysteries of Udolpho / Ann Radcliffe
The Mysteries of Udolpho - Ann Radcliffe

The Mysteries of Udolpho is the story of orphan Emily St. Aubert, who finds herself separated from the man she loves and confined within the medieval castle of her aunt's new husband, Montoni. Inside the castle, she must cope with an unwanted suitor, Montoni's threats, and the wild imaginings and terrors that threaten to overwhelm her.

 

I read this book to fill the Gothic square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.

This is the mother of all Gothic romance, originally published in 1794. Twenty-first century readers may find themselves challenged by the style. Here is Wanda’s recommended reading instructions for The Mysteries of Udolpho:

1. Practice your patience. Readers in the 18th century weren’t in a rush and didn’t expect lean prose or fast plot development. Don’t read to a deadline if you can help it—trying to rush through will probably frustrate you further.
2. Develop your taste for scenic descriptions. Because you’re going to be reading a lot of them. Apparently good people spend a lot of time gazing at the mountains and the moon and rhapsodizing about them and bad people can’t be bothered. Now you know which kind of person you are.
3. Speaking of which, decide whether you are going to read all of the poetry & songs or not. I started to skip them about 1/3 of the way through the book. It was minutes of my life that I wasn’t going to get back.
4. Prepare yourself to be horrified, not at the so-called horrors of the book, but at the limited role of women in 18th century society. Their lives are controlled and run by the men who claim authority over them. If their wishes are listened to at all, they are lucky.
5. Prepare yourself for the boredom of women’s lives, at least upper-class women, who seem to do a lot of sitting around. You can paint, you can read, you can admire the scenery (see #2 above), you can do needlework. Sometimes, you can go for scenic walks. If you’re really lucky, your controlling men (see #4) will take you to a party. But mostly you sit around in your dreary chamber and talk to yourself.
6. There will be crying and fainting. Lots and lots of it. Or swooning or being rendered speechless. In fact the main character, Emily, seems to subsist on meals consisting of a few grapes and half a glass of wine, after staying up most of the night listening for mysterious music or watching for spectres. It’s no wonder that she tips over so easily, as she’s under-nourished and under-slept all the time.

This is where so many of the Gothic romance tropes got their start—the orphaned young woman, struggling to make her own way in the world, adored by every man who stumbles across her path—she and her true love have a communication issue which leads to a horrible misunderstanding and much suffering on both sides, until the truth comes out. Radcliffe introduces the mystery element too—who is the woman in the miniature portrait left behind by Emily’s father? Why does Emily look so much like her?

Truly, I’m glad to have read this ancestress to the Gothic romances that I’ve enjoyed since junior high school. But wow I’m also glad that writing styles and expectations have moved along.

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text 2018-10-31 16:57
Reading progress update: I've read 100 out of 336 pages.
London Rules (Slough House) - Mick Herron

Lamb had assumed what the slow horses called his hippo-at-rest position: apparently docile, but you wouldn't want to get too close.

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