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review 2018-10-02 23:24
The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure
The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure - Robert Arthur,Alfred Hitchcock,Harry Kane

I'm pretty sure I wasn't supposed to find this as amusing as I did, but I'm several decades past its target demographic.  I'd never read a Three Investigators book before and know a few people with fond memories of them, so I wanted to give one a try. 

 

I'm not going to touch on the sheer fantasy of what is the foundational premise of the books; they were written to be adventures and mysteries for kids (I use 'kids' as a broad spectrum noun here) and why not make these kids important?  Why not give them more parental freedom and the only junk yard in the world that would be fun and safe to play in. 

 

But it was still hilarious.  The gnomes, which are probably not PC by today's standards.  The Japanese representation, which is definitely not, yet feels innocently done here - yes, the authors' should have been more sensitive, but the kids reading it at the time would likely have read it in total naiveté.  I didn't find the Japanese speaking stereotypically funny at all, but I did have a good head shake over it.

 

Mostly what I found funny were the three boys, and that's just because despite my best efforts, I grew up and can't avoid seeing the playacting taking place.  Still, their hideout sounds cool as hell and I loved the Alfred Hitchcock appearances.  That man just couldn't stay on the sidelines of anything, could he?

 

I read this for the Baker Street Irregulars Square in Halloween Bingo.

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review 2018-10-02 01:30
The Fourth Bear (Nursery Crimes, #2)
The Fourth Bear - Jasper Fforde

What can ever be said about a Jasper Fforde book that would make sense to anyone that hasn't read one?  This is the second in what is, so far, a two book series about what crime would look like if Nursery Characters lived in the real world.  Jack Spratt, the head of the Nursery Crimes Division, investigates several seemingly unrelated crimes:  Porridge smuggling, a missing Goldilocks, the escape of the Gingerbread man, and his new car that never ages, with a painting in the boot that does.  All while fighting suspension based on a pending psych evaluation after being swallowed by the Big Bad Wolf.

 

It's not all Mother Goose either, side characters include Spratt's daughter Pandora and her soon to be husband, Prometheus and at least one character from Shakespeare.  Oh, and an alien.  Because, why not?

 

In spite of sounding (and mostly being) silly, it's not an easy/breezy book to read.  There are layers in the writing and the jokes and the references that are easy to miss.  There's a subtle - very subtle - disregard for the fourth wall, where the characters not only recognise they're in a book (a la Thursday Next), but will make subtle reference to the author and the reader.  So not only is it a book where the overload of satire is best enjoyed in small doses, but one that if carefully read will give more humorous dividends than a quick read would.

 

Generally it's just a hell of a lot of fun to read.  The puns get punnier towards the end and there was at least one *snort*chuckle in the last 30%.  It might have been it was late and I was tired, but 

 

cuculear power 

(spoiler show)

 

made me laugh.

 

I read this for the Modern Noir square in Halloween Bingo.  It's a gimme for the Grimm Tale square, but I've already read that terrible retelling of Snow White and it's not going to have been for nothing, and Spratt's attitude and methods are definitely noir-ish.

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review 2018-09-24 11:39
The Colour of Magic (Discworld, #1)
The Colour of Magic - Terry Pratchett

I never know how to review the discworld books.  They're sort of impossible to describe to anyone who hasn't already read them, and likewise, they're hard (for me) to review.  

 

Generally, having read a few of the later discworld books in a couple of the sub-series, I found this one to be the weakest in terms of personal enjoyment.  I'm happy to have The Luggage finally explained, or at least properly introduced, and there were a few great jokes, but the story... meh.   And is it just me, or is Death distinctly less personable in his earliest incarnation?  I also missed the footnotes that add so much to later discworld books.

 

I read this in both audio and print as part of the Discworld group and for Halloween Bingo - I'm using it for the Free Square.

 

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review 2018-09-16 08:18
Sharks and Other Sea Monsters
Sharks And Other Sea Monsters - Robert Sabuda,Matthew Reinhart

Our return yesterday left us with the worst jet-lag either of us has ever experienced and this pop up book was the most complicated reading I was capable of before passing out on the couch for the duration.

 

But boy, what a pop up book it is.  I have 2 others in this series, one on Dinosaurs and one on Megafauna, and this one is at least as good as the others.  The art work is amazing, and the explanations are perfect for young readers and old readers alike; I especially appreciate the pronunciation guide for each of the ancient beasts.  I learned more than a little bit while reading/flapping the pages around and making 'nom nom nom' noises.  The cats were super impressed with my ancient beasts impersonations.

 

I highly recommend this and the other books for anyone who still looks with wonder at a well made pop up book.  No kids required.

 

 

I'm not cheeky enough to claim it, but this book would totally qualify for the Fear the Drowning Deep square of Halloween bingo 2018.  ;-)

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review 2018-09-03 17:50
Hunted (Iron Druid Chronicles, #6)
Hunted - Kevin Hearne

This is one of those weird series that I thoroughly enjoy when I'm reading it, but can easily put off picking up the next book for long, long stretches of time.  However, since this book fits a number of Halloween Bingo squares, it seemed like the perfect time to get further along.

 

Atticus is being hunted across Europe by Diana and Artemis for his perceived crimes against Bacchus in the previous book.  All the pantheons have agreed to neither help nor hinder the chase and are using it as a form of entertainment.  Interspersed throughout are random drop-ins by Loki, recently escaped from his eternal punishment and bat-sh*t crazy.

 

I like the way Hearne creates an overall story arch about how the road to hell can be paved with good intentions.  Atticus' loyalty to his friends (good thing) results in the bringing about of Ragnorok (very bad thing), and now he's trying to atone for his sins.

 

It's a good read; fast paced, well written, and I like the characters.  For me, though I never rave over them, the Iron Druid chronicles always offer up a solid, entertaining read.

 

I'm using this one for the Cryptozoology Square for Halloween Bingo 2018.

 

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