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review 2020-05-18 03:21
A Sprig of Sea Lavender
A Sprig of Sea Lavender - J.R.L. Anderson

I bought this a few years ago, when Otto Penzler was selling his collection through his bookshop, Mysterious Books.  It's a review copy of an author I'd never heard of, but the short catalog blurb made it sound interesting: mysterious death on a train, unknown works by Gainsborough, Turner and Constable found with the body, along with a  sprig of - you guessed it - sea lavender. 

 

This is a mid-century mystery, and it suffered from the usual quirks of that age:  instant, yet chaste, romance, and a complete disregard of the fair-play rules of mystery plotting.  As such, the reader, by the end, is presented with a fait accompli in both the romance and the mystery's resolution, without having any idea whatsoever how the main character got there, although he does explain it all at the very end.  

 

By today's standards, it's all a bit thin, naive and 2 dimensional, but I had fun with it nevertheless.  It wasn't trying to be anything other than an entertaining mystery and, while I've read others that are greater successes, it generally achieved its goal.  

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review 2020-02-15 02:44
Small Magics
Small Magics - Ilona Andrews

When I saw here on BookLikes that Sweep with Me was out, I went to Ilona Andrew's website to find out more, and noticed the release of a new anthology, published by Subterranean Press.  Yes please!

 

This is a compilation of the short stories Ilona Andrews has written, all previously published elsewhere, and for the first time in print, all the Curren POV's Gordon Andrews has written and posted on their website.  Interspersed are 3? full color illustrations.

 

It's a nice book - not the most impressive I've seen put out by Subterranean, but a good solid book.  I'd read some of the stories before, but enough of them were new to me to make me appreciate having bought it.

 

My only gripe with the book is with the Curran POVs.  As a character, these stories don't always flatter Curran, but that's trivial.  What is really disappointing, though, is the poor copy-editing of the Curran stories.  On the website, they're clear to state that the stories were written for fun, not edited, yada yada.  And that's totally understandable.  But I'd have though when it comes to publishing a limited release, numbered, signed, illustrated edition, the publisher, if not the authors themselves, would have wanted to take the time and make the effort to correct, at the very least, the most glaring omissions and errors (lots of the, a, an articles missing, or misplaced).

 

Ah well, a good collection that might have been great, but still welcome on my shelves.

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review 2020-02-15 01:35
Sweep with Me (Innkeeper Chronicles Novella)
Sweep with Me - Ilona Andrews

Fun; brief but it packs a punch at the end.  This one is for those who've already read the other Innkeeper Chronicle books, though there's enough 'tell' sprinkled throughout that a first-timer wouldn't be totally confused.  They would be totally spoiled for the others though, as there are spoilers to previous plots in the text.

 

A lot of the secondary cast are 'away' for this story, so Orro gets a bit more attention, and it appears Dina is making new friends.  Not sure if we'll see them again, as this novella has a pretty tidy HEA ending, but they'll be welcome additions to any future Innkeeper books.

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review 2020-01-14 09:41
Confessions of a Bookseller
Confessions of a Bookseller - Shaun Bythell

The follow up to his Diary of a Bookseller, a book I enjoyed even more than I expected, so when I heard this was out, I immediately went out and bought it.

 

Every bit as good as the first, though where the first was primarily wacky and funny, this one had a sharper, more contemplative edge and, as far as my memory goes, this one feels a bit more personal.  The book he read/talked about made more of an impact with me in this book too, though I can't say why.

 

A great read if you like books about books, or memoirs of misanthropic booksellers.

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review 2019-12-27 02:14
Coral Reef Fishes
Coral Reef Fishes: Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean Including the Red Sea - Revised Edition - Robert Myers,Ewald Lieske

I bought this after our trip to Vanuatu (oh, to go back...) so I could attempt to identify the fish I caught in my photos.  It's a nice sized 'pocket' guide (you'd want a big pocket), perfect to travel with, and the color illustrations for each fish are gorgeous.

 

BUT, I have two complaints:

 

It's hard to find the fish you're trying to identify if you've never attempted a fish identification before.  Which, honestly, isn't the books fault - it's neatly organised into the different species, but if I've never seen a damselfish I have no idea that the fish I'm trying to identify IS a damselfish.  This is made more frustrating by the fact that damselfish don't all have common traits, so two fish that could not look more different if they had arms and legs, could totally both be damselfish.  I'm not sure this is a solvable problem, except with time and experience.

 

The color plates, while gorgeous, are not the same as photographs if you're a beginner trying to identify fish for the first time.  I'd read that photos were better when I bought the book, but this title had the most comprehensive list of species and I figured it can't really be THAT hard.  But it can, and it is.

 

I've still found the guide useful and I'm glad to have it as a reference in my on-going Name that Fish! project, but I have also ordered a different guide with photographs to use as a companion reference.

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