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text 2019-09-20 12:17
Re-reading Kate Daniels series ... Magic Strikes
Magic Strikes - Ilona Andrews

Re-reading this, I remembered it's probably my least favorite in the series, but only because pit fighting/gladiator games don't interest me at all.  Otherwise, it's an excellent read.  Although, I found the same jarring continuity error in the ebook I checked out from the library this time as I found the first time I read it, and it still jarred me out of the story completely.  I thought the bonus of ebooks was the ability to update them quickly when errors were found?

 

Anyway, doesn't matter.  It was a good read, with a few scenes I had to read out loud to MT, including Raphael's re-telling of how his father woo'd his mother.  I almost couldn't read it to him for laughing ... that cat got his righteous revenge.

 

I'm going to use this re-read for the Doomsday square on my Halloween Bingo card.  It takes place in an alternate Atlanta that could definitely qualify for post-apocalyptic.  

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text 2019-09-20 12:06
Re-reading Kate Daniels series ... Magic Burns
Magic Burns - Ilona Andrews

I didn't quite get enough Ilona Andrews last month, and being bored at work the other day, desperate for something to kill time, I remembered I have American library cards, so I went to my Libby app and borrowed the second book in the Kate Daniels series.

 

What I wrote in my original post is still relevant; I still think the comment Curran made about saying please and thank you before he sleeps with Kate is, to say the least, off-putting.  But I'd forgotten a lot of the plot after all this time, and had conflated parts of it with other plot-lines in the series.  Finishing it, I immediately downloaded book 3 and dived right in (I have most of the books in print, save for 2-4, which I never did buy - must remedy that).  

 

Delightfully, one of the things I'd forgotten was that the bad guys were sea-demons - Fomarians.  So that qualifies this book for the Fear The Drowning Deep square in Halloween Bingo.

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review 2019-09-20 11:48
Kill The Farm Boy (Tales of Pell, #1)
Kill the Farm Boy - Luke Daniels,Delilah Dawson,Kevin Hearne

I don't even know how to start talking about this book.  It's insane.

 

I first heard about it from Irresponsible Reader and I've been enjoying Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles for a few years.  And it's subtitle sold me:

 

Once A Pun A Time...

 

So I was expecting a funny read and I was expecting the puns, but I wasn't at all expecting the sheer enormity of innuendo and entendres: double, triple - possibly quadruple, but I suspect some of it went over my head as I struggled now to drown in the Monty Python-esque silliness of it all.  Examples include a chapter involving the band of unlikely heroes traveling through the elven Morning Wood, with more innuendo, puns and entendres than you can possibly imagine, and later in the book a trip to a pub called Balzac's, where the chef is the famous "wrinkled Balzac", and the house speciality is candied nuts.

 

It's quite frequently over-the-top, but it's still hilarious and sometimes sweet and a little bit shocking in unexpected ways.  My favorite character was Gustave, the talking goat, by a large margin, though the rest of the band of unlikely adventurers all have their own charms too.  

 

It's incredibly well-written and it's obvious the authors had a good time writing it, but Luke Daniels did an exceptional job narrating this book.  This is one of those rare instances where I think the reader would lose something by reading a physical copy.  Daniels owns this book and the characters in it, reading it like a dramatisation.  I recommend the audio unreservedly for anyone looking for a goofy good time.

 

I started the book in August, but it was due back at the library before I was half finished, and I didn't get it back until after Halloween Bingo started, so it qualifies. As there were scenes involving necro-bees and acid leeches, I'm going to use this for the Creepy Crawly 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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review 2018-08-15 07:14
Witches Abroad (Discworld)
Witches Abroad - Terry Pratchett,Nigel Planer
Witches Abroad - Terry Pratchett

An excellent riff on fairy tales.  I'm not actually sure what to say about it beyond that.  If you've read any of the discworld books, this one won't disappoint you.  

 

I listened to the audiobook, and Nigel Planer did an excellent job, though I disliked his Magrat and Ella choices; his voices for them both made them sound dull and stupid. On the other hand, I've also listened to other Pratchett books narrated by Celia Imrie and I really disliked her Granny Weatherwax voice; Planer gets Granny just right - she's the crone without hurting your ear drums. 

 

The plays on words are always my favorite part of Pratchett books and Witches Abroad did not disappoint (Emberella = Cinderella).  I also loved the we finally saw Granny's magic in a very decisive show; I hope it won't be the only time we see it.

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