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text 2018-11-30 22:15
Women Writers Bingo / Project: Tracking Post

 

Read:

A - Margery Allingham: The Crime at Black Dudley, Mystery Mile, Look to the Lady, Police at the Funeral, Sweet Danger, Death of a Ghost, Flowers for the Judge, The Case of the Late Pig, Dancers in Mourning, The Fashion in Shrouds, Traitor's Purse, and The Tiger in the Smoke (all new); The Man With the Sack (revisited on audio);

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Half of a Yellow Sun (new);

Margaret Atwood: The Penelopiad (new) and The Blind Assassin (both audio);

Elizabeth von Arnim: The Solitary Summer (new);

B - Anne Brontë: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (revisited on audio);

Phyllis Bottome: The Lifeline (new)

C - Helen Czerski: Storm in a Teacup (new);

Agatha Christie: The Moving Finger, One, Two, Buckle my Shoe, Murder Is Easy, They Do It With Mirrors, N or M?, Ordeal by Innocence, The Murder at the Vicarage, A Pocket Full of Rye, and Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories (all revisited on audio), Crooked House (revisited on audio and DVD), Destination Unknown, and They Came to Baghdad (both new);

Peter Finn & Petra Couvee: The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book (new);

Angela Carter: The Bloody Chamber and Nights at the Circus (both new)

D - Margaret Drabble: The Red Queen (new);

Daphne Du Maurier: Frenchman's Creek (new) and Rebecca (revisited on audio);

Detection Club: Verdict of 13 (new) -- used for Free Square

E - Joy Ellis: Their Lost Daughters (new);

Esi Edugyan: Washington Black (new)

F - Karin Fossum: He Who Fears the Wolf (new)

G - Elizabeth George: For the Sake of Elena, Playing for the Ashes, Well-Schooled in Murder, Payment in Blood, and A Traitor to Memory (all revisited on audio);

Elizabeth Gaskell: Cranford (revisited on audio) and Cousin Phillis (new)

H - Radclyffe Hall: The Well of Loneliness (new);

Mavis Doriel Hay: Death on the Cherwell and Murder Underground (both new);

Patricia Highsmith: The Talented Mr. Ripley (revisited on audio);

Kathryn Harkup: A Is for Arsenic (new);

Georgette Heyer: Penhallow and Behold, Here's Poison (both new);

Susan Howatch: The Waiting Sands (new)

I -

J - P.D. James: The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories (new), Original Sin, Death of an Expert Witness, Unnatural Causes, and The Skull Beneath the Skin (all revisited on audio)

K - Rosalie Knecht: Who Is Vera Kelly? (new);

Susanna Kearsley: A Desperate Fortune (new)

L - Valerie Plame Wilson & Sarah Lovett: Blowback (new);

E.C.R. Lorac: Bats in the Belfry (new);

Carole Lawrence: Edinburgh Twilight (new)

M - Val McDermid: The Distant Echo and Trick of the Dark (both new);

Ngaio Marsh: Death in a White Tie, Off With His Head (aka Death of a Fool), Clutch of Constables, Death at the Dolphin (aka Killer Dolphin), Hand in Glove, and Death in a White Tie (all revisited on audio);

Francine Mathews: The Cutout (new);

Helen MacInnes: Above Suspicion (new);

Patricia A. McKillip: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld (new);

Sharyn McCrumb: The Ballad of Frankie Silver (new)

N -

O - Emmuska Orczy: The Old Man in the Corner (new), The Scarlet Pimpernel (revisited on audio), and I Will Repay (new)

P - Anne Perry: A Dangerous Mourning and The Whitechapel Conspiracy (both new);

Ellis Peters: The Sanctuary Sparrow, Dead Man's Ransom, The Pilgrim of Hate, and The Confession of Brother Haluin (all revisited on audio);

Valerie Plame Wilson: Blowback and Fair Game (both new)

Q -

R - J.K. Rowling (writing as Robert Galbraith): The Cuckoo's Calling, The Silkworm, Career of Evil, and Lethal White (all new);

J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (all on audio);

Stella Rimington: Secret Asset, Illegal Action, and Open Secret (all new);

Mary Roberts Rinehart: Locked Doors (new)

S - Dennis McCarthy & June Schlueter: "A Brief Discourse of Rebellion and Rebels" by George North -- A Newly Uncovered Manuscript Source for Shakespeare's Plays (new);

Diane Setterfield: The Thirteenth Tale (new);

Kamila Shamsie: Home Fire;

Dorothy L. Sayers: Unnatural Death (revisited on audio)

T - Josephine Tey: Brat Farrar and The Franchise Affair (both new);

Amy Tan: The Chinese Siamese Cat (new);

Jane Thynne: Black Roses (new)

Helen Tursten: Detective Inspector Huss (new)

U - Ludmila Ulitskaya: Ergebenst, euer Schurik (Sincerely yours, Shurik) (new)

V - Barbara Vine: The Brimstone Wedding (new)

W - Ethel Lina White: The Lady Vanishes (aka The Wheel Spins) and The Spiral Staircase (aka Some Must Watch) (both new);

Patricia Wentworth: Miss Silver Intervenes, Latter End, Poison in the Pen, The Watersplash, The Traveller Returns, and The Clock Strikes Twelve (all new);

Kate Westbrook: The Moneypenny Diaries: Guardian Angel (new);

Edith Wharton: Ghosts: Edith Wharton's Gothic Tales (new);

Jennifer Wright: Get Well Soon (new)

X -

Y - Banana Yoshimoto: Kitchen (new)

Z - Juli Zeh: Schilf (English title: Dark Matter) and Unterleuten (both new)

 

Free / center square: Detection Club: Verdict of 13 (new; anthology)

 

On the card, I am only tracking new reads, not rereads.

 

Read, to date in 2018:

Books by female authors: 123

- new: 84

- rereads: 39

 

Books by male authors: 73

- new: 63

- rereads: 10

 

Books by F & M mixed teams / anthologies: 3

- new: 3

- rereads:

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review 2018-11-19 19:46
A Fatal Inversion / Barbara Vine
A Fatal Inversion - Barbara Vine

In the long, hot summer of 1976, a group of young people is camping in Wyvis Hall. Adam, Rufus, Shiva, Vivien and Zosie hardly ask why they are there or how they are to live; they scavenge, steal and sell the family heirlooms.

 

Ten years later, the bodies of a woman and child are discovered in the Hall's animal cemetery. Which woman? And whose child?

 

Probably not the best Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell book to get started with. For me, it didn’t flow as well as I could have hoped. Plus, although I certainly don’t require likeable characters to keep me engaged, I have to care about who did what and why. I found all of the characters in this novel to be unpleasant (to say the least) and I couldn’t care much about how they ended up.

It was odd—gathering the details gradually and making assumptions about who the woman and the child found in the pet cemetery could be and how they got there. I’ve read books where I’ve known the perpetrator from the beginning, but still was intrigued by the story, but this book didn’t grab me the same way. It wasn’t until the very last pages that I found myself engaged. That’s a long time to wait.

I was reading AFI largely on my work coffee breaks. It helped to have no alternative reading available, as I found myself reluctant to pick up the book and yet anxious to get finished and move on to something more rewarding. Truly, cognitive dissonance.

Perhaps I was just in the wrong mood for this mystery—I’m a bit off of mysteries right now, I think perhaps I’ve read a few too many of them in the last while. But it was one of the books that I chose for my 2018 reading list and so I forged ahead with it. Your mileage may vary.

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review 2018-11-19 16:41
When Darkness Comes / Alexandra Ivey
When Darkness Comes - Alexandra Ivy

It’s been a hell of a day for Abby Barlow. In just a few hours, she’s survived an explosion, watched her employer die, had a startling dream, and now she finds herself in a seedy Chicago hotel with the sexy, unearthly Dante, a vampire she both desires and fears.

For 341 years, Dante has stood as guardian to The Chalice, a mortal woman chosen to hold back the darkness. A terrible twist of fate has now made Abby that woman. Three hours ago. Dante would have used all his charms to seduce her. Now she is his to protect. And he will do so until his very death.

A terrifying plan has been set in motion, one that will plunge Dante and Abby into an epic battle between good and evil – and a desperate race to save their love…

 

Put my reading experience in the 2 to 2.5 star range.

I would recommend this novel to those who enjoy the writing of Christine Feehan, J.R. Ward, or Jeaniene Frost.

Obviously, this book didn’t appeal to me, nor did the works of the writers listed above, but they are still very highly rated books. So, not my jam but very appealing to others. I’m not a big fan of the damsel in distress, so that’s part of my problem here. Abby seems desperately passive to me, staying in a job that she hates and putting up with harassment from Dante (although she’s a bit conflicted about that, seemingly wishing that she was in his league so to speak). Now, I’ve been stuck in some jobs that I loathed too, but I’ve found my way out of them and into a way of supporting myself that I find quite enjoyable, so I know it can be done. And the whole “Me Too” movement tells the story of systemic harassment, I think the vast majority of women have their Me Too moments that they could tell you about.

Abby is stubborn—Ivy goes out of her way to prove this to the reader. I’m stubborn too. If you could ask my (non-Danish) mother about the stubbornness of her Danish-Canadian husband and daughters she would tell you that we are champions at it. However, I think all of us realize that being stubborn does not equal being independent. If you want me to believe that your main character is strong and independent, you can’t just rely on her sense of stubborn.

Add to this some editing issues: for example, using beaconing rather than beckoning, flaying rather than flailing and a few other words that were close but not quite right. A quote: “While Selena pampered and preened…” You can’t just pamper. You have to pamper something. So the sentence should read “While Selena pampered herself and preened….” Finally, stop reading right now and trying to wrap your own arms around your waist. Perhaps I’m not very flexible, but I can’t seem to find a way to do that. But Abby does it repeatedly—annoying me more that I would have thought possible.

I chose this book for my Women A-Z reading project for this year. I had hoped to find another enjoyable urban fantasy series for future reading, but I will leave this to others who enjoy this style far more than I do.

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review 2018-11-05 17:33
Black Sun Rising / C.S. Friedman
Black Sun Rising - C.S. Friedman

Over a millenium ago, Erna, a seismically active yet beautiful world was settled by colonists from far-distant Earth. But the seemingly habitable planet was fraught with perils no one could have foretold, and the colonists found themselves caught in a desperate battle for survival against the fae, a terrifying natural force with the power to prey upon the human mind itself, drawing forth a person's worst nightmare images or most treasured dreams and indiscriminately giving them life.
Twelve centuries after fate first stranded the colonists on Erna, mankind has achieved an uneasy stalemate, and human sorcerers manipulate the fae for their own profit, little realizing that demonic forces which feed upon such efforts are rapidly gaining in strength. Now, as the hordes of the dark fae multiply, four people - Priest, Adept, Apprentice, and Sorcerer - are about to be drawn inexorably together for a mission which will force them to confront an evil beyond their imagining, in a conflict which will put not only their own lives but the very fate of humankind in jeopardy...

 

This book has been one that I’d been looking forward to in my SFF reading list and I was not disappointed! It has much more good/evil complexity than many of the fantasy books that were previously published (before 1991). Although it is in many ways a typical quest tale, Friedman gives it a couple of twists that distinguish it from earlier quest tales—one member of the party is undoubtedly evil and the party is looking to track down a demon-type entity which has stolen the memories of one of the party. This demon must be killed to restore her to some semblance of normality. Normally, all of the questers would be good guys (sometimes corrupted like Boromir in LOTR), but this is like inviting one the Nazgul to join you in your travels! They are not looking for an object, but for a target, bringing back a memory, not a trophy.

The world Erna, where this tale takes place, reminded me somewhat of Sheri Tepper’s world, Grass. There is a malign feeling to Erna and its inhabitants toward the humans who have settled there that felt familiar from that world. I also was reminded of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series—the settlers of Erna didn’t actually choose the planet so much as get stranded there and have to deal with the fae emanations of the new world, just as the Darkover colonists must deal with their unchosen planet. Plus, the changes to humans and the rakh of Erna made me think of Julian May’s The Many Colored Land, and the adaptations of the ship-wrecked Tanu & Firvulag on ancient Earth.

Having enjoyed all of those books, these were all good associations for me. Although most groups fulfilling a quest have to deal with the price of success, I thought this one explored the notion of “how much power at what cost” very effectively. It is, of course, the first book in a trilogy, so I didn’t expect things to wrap up neatly, but I was pleasantly surprised at how unsettling the ending was—Ciani is restored, but has been very much changed by the whole experience; the priest has to let go of his preferred outcome; the Hunter has realized his limitations. I very much look forward to continuing the series.

Book number 296 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Project.

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text 2018-10-23 17:37
Reading progress update: I've read 221 out of 317 pages.
A Fatal Inversion - Barbara Vine

 

All of these people, but especially Adam and Rufous, are horrible!

 

 

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