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review 2019-09-15 00:03
Sword and Pen / Rachel Caine
Sword and Pen - Rachel Caine

With the future of the Great Library in doubt, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone must decide if it's worth saving in this thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

The corrupt leadership of the Great Library has fallen. But with the Archivist plotting his return to power, and the Library under siege from outside empires and kingdoms, its future is uncertain. Jess Brightwell and his friends must come together as never before, to forge a new future for the Great Library . . . or see everything it stood for crumble.


Fabulous! This is going out with a bang, rather than a whimper! I am not sure what it says about me that I adore dark fantasy, with plenty of battles, plots, backstabby treacherousness, and ingenious weapons. And don’t forget the Great Library! Having worked my whole career in libraries, they are near and dear to my heart.

This volume reduced me to emotional tatters by its end. I shed plenty of tears and just sat staring into space for a while after I finished it. What a ride!

Ms. Caine, you have certainly figured out how to make me into a happy reader. Between this series, the Stillhouse Lake series and the Honors series, I am overwhelmed with good choices for future reading. Long may you write!

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review 2019-09-14 23:20
They Do It With Mirrors / Agatha Christie
They do it with Mirrors - Agatha Christie

A man is shot at in a juvenile reform home – but someone else dies…

Miss Marple senses danger when she visits a friend living in a Victorian mansion which doubles as a rehabilitation centre for delinquents. Her fears are confirmed when a youth fires a revolver at the administrator, Lewis Serrocold. Neither is injured. But a mysterious visitor, Mr Gilbrandsen, is less fortunate – shot dead simultaneously in another part of the building.

Pure coincidence? Miss Marple thinks not, and vows to discover the real reason for Mr Gilbrandsen’s visit.



I read this book to fill the Locked Room Mystery square of my 2019 Halloween Bingo Card.

Jane Marple is, as the detective in this novel says, a sharp old bird. I do love that she took her binoculars with her and was willing to pursue Siskins with intensity in order to eavesdrop effectively! She very much makes use of the fact that elderly women seem to be invisible to vast portions of the population. Similarly, her friend Carrie Louise is much more observant than her surrounding family gives her credit for (and certainly more than her husband believes). Older women can get away with all kinds of things that people don’t think us capable of.

I was also interested to see the way that our attitude towards young offenders really hasn’t changed all that much since 1952 when this book was originally published. A problem that we’re still struggling with and haven’t found any easy answers.

I did feel that the end was a bit weaker than many of the Christie books that I have read up until now--the perpetrator got to escape prosecution, although their end was arguably worse than what the courts would have assigned.

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review 2019-09-14 22:54
Slayer / Kiersten White
Slayer - Kiersten White

Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers—girls gifted with supernatural strength to fight the forces of darkness. But while Nina’s mother is a prominent member of the Watcher’s Council, Nina has never embraced the violent Watcher lifestyle. Instead she follows her instincts to heal, carving out a place for herself as the school medic.

Until the day Nina’s life changes forever.

Thanks to Buffy, the famous (and infamous) Slayer that Nina’s father died protecting, Nina is not only the newest Chosen One—she’s the last Slayer, ever. Period.



I read this book to fill the New Release square of my 2019 Halloween Bingo Card.

If you were ever a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this is the book for you. And just like the Buffy television series, this book is about so much more than young women slaying vampires. This is a book about grief, about the misunderstandings that happen between parent and child as well as between siblings, about the agony of being adolescent and not feeling like you fit in.

But, once again just like the TV series, there is plenty of action complete with plot twists and turns to keep you reading along happily. I’m maybe not quite as enamoured of this series as I was of White’s The Conqueror’s Saga, but I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to reading the next book, Chosen, when it comes out next year. I’ll be interested to see how Nina chooses to make her status as Chosen work into a life that she has actually chosen for herself.

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review 2019-09-14 10:38
The Book Supremacy (Bibliophile Mystery, #13)
The Book Supremacy - Kate Carlisle

This used to be one of my favorite mystery series, and it has all the things I generally enjoy: likeable, fleshed out secondary characters, strong friendships, wacky families, and the bookbinding angle is a serious plus.  But the last couple of books have felt heavier handed than usual in terms of the relationship between the MC Brooklyn, and her now-husband, Derek.  Lovey Dovey is the only term I can think of to adequately describe it.  I prefer affection to be subtle and I don't need to be reminded how much they're in love.  It was all a bit too sweet.


The plot of this one, too, felt overdone.  The guilty person was a caricature villain, and I think it coloured the overall premise of the murder plot: the killer felt cartoonish and silly, so  the plot did too, just a little bit.  It's not a fair bleed over; objectively, the plot it good and not at all a stretch given character back stories.  But the murderer's characterisation just sort of ruined it.


In spite of all of this, I still enjoyed the story well enough; I love the characters and having just recently been to San Francisco, the setting was fun to re-visit. 


I read this book for Halloween Bingo's Amateur Sleuth square.

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review 2019-09-12 00:44
Murder by the Book: The Crime That Shocked Dickens’s London
Murder by the Book - Claire Harman

I picked this up while cruising through my new subscriptions with the Free Library of Philadelphia, and Orange County Library Systems, wallowing in their audiobook choices, and trying to find something to listen to while waiting for Kill The Farm Boy to come my way. 


I knew nothing about the book, save what I read in the summary.  In a nutshell, it's something like a forensic examination of the Courvoisier trial in 1840, for the murder of Lord William Russel.  Courvoisier was Russel's valet, and was accused of cutting his Lord's throat while he slept, a crime that was disturbingly close to the one committed in the newest prose sensation tearing through London, William Harrison Ainsworth’s Jack Sheppard.  A book the accused cited as a contributing factor when he confessed.


First of all, the narrator, Andy Secombe, was excellent; his accent was so very British, and though I have a Yank's tin ear for regional dialects, his variations of the many, many voices quoted in the book, accurate or not, made it easy to follow along and not get too bogged down or confused.  There were a few times I wondered if he was having just a bit of fun with some of the 'characters'; it was subtle and arguable, and it might just be I've watched too many old BBC comedies, but it did not in any way hurt the tone of the narrative.


To call the book fascinating would be stretching the point, I think, but it was an interesting read, and a very topical reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Our culture's current debate over 'do violent video games/music lyrics/movies corrupt our youth?' is merely the modern spin of the 1870's version of the same debate: 'do violent, sensationalist crime novels/theatre corrupt society?'  I also couldn't help but think of the parallels between the phenomenon that was Jack Sheppard and the mad rush to get it on stage, and the 50 Shades insanity just a few years back.  Neither book was lauded for its literary merit, merely it's scandalous and shocking content; both translated equally disastrously, though with the same raging popularity, to the stage/screen.


The author ends the book by pointing out the myriad of questions surrounding Courvoisier's guilt, in spite of the multitude of official confessions the man made.  Those multiple confessions are part of the reason questions remain - no two confessions tell the same tale - and the forensic information gleaned from the reports and accounts do not fit with any of Courvoisier's versions of the events.  In an age when the UK had public hangings and no appeal process, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say no man would have confessed had he not been guilty; there were easier ways to commit suicide.  Sometimes even shoddy investigations end up finding the culprit.


The single disappointment I had with the book also came at the end, when Harman is outlining possible motives; she hints at the possibility of a homosexual relationship between the Lord and his valet.  I found this in and of itself to be sensationalist for a couple of reasons: Harman readily admits that Lord William Russel was by all accounts a happily married man before his wife died and that he continued to remember her fondly; Courvoisier was known in the past to have had one or two female relationships, though he was unattached at the time of the murder; and Courvoisier had only been under Lord William Russel's employ a very short period before the murder - 6 weeks if I'm remembering correctly.  Given the prejudice and the laws of the time, a secret relationship was not impossible, but it was certainly improbable given the known facts.  Maybe the author felt like any objective consideration of the case would be incomplete without raising the possibility, but to me it just came across as hearing hoofbeats and screaming Zebras.


To be fair, Harman probably devoted fewer words to the possibility than I just did, or at least not many more, so it's a tiny blip in an otherwise interesting peek into the past.


I started reading this before I really knew what squares I had on my card, and I don't have the Truly Terrifying square for which this would be a perfect fit, but I'll use it for my Free Space square.

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