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text 2018-09-07 14:00
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

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?, and Ordeal by Innocence (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 (new)

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

Daphne Du Maurier: Frenchman's Creek (new)

E - Joy Ellis: Their Lost Daughters (new)

F -

G - Elizabeth George: For the Sake of Elena, Playing for the Ashes, and Well-Schooled in Murder (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 (new);

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

Kathryn Harkup: A Is for Arsenic (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)

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

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, and The Pilgrim of Hate (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, and Career of Evil (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)

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);

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)

U -

V -

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, and The Traveller Returns (all new);

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

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

X -

Y -

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

 

Free / center square: [???]

 

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

 

Read, to date in 2018:

Books by female authors: 92

- new: 63

- rereads: 29

 

Books by male authors: 49

- new: 45

- rereads: 4

 

Books by F & M mixed teams / anthologies: 2

- new: 2

- rereads:

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text 2018-05-02 01:33
Women Writers Bingo Progress

 

I've got 3 more letters to read, but I think 'X' might take me a bit.

 

A - Flame in the Mist - Renee Ahdieh  

B - Jackass! - Scarlet Beriko  

C - Busted - Gina Ciocca  

D - Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe - Melissa de la Cruz  

E - Buried Heart - Kate Elliott  

F - A World Without "Whom": The Essential Guide to Language in the BuzzFeed Age - Emmy J. Favilla  

G - Just Dreaming - Kerstin Gier  

H - The Last Black Unicorn - Tiffany Haddish  

I - 

J - Of Beast and Beauty - Stacey Jay  

K - He Said/She Said - Erin Kelly  

L - The Hearts We Sold - Emily Lloyd-Jones  

M - Secret of the Princess - Milk Morinaga  

N - That Wolf-Boy is Mine! 1 - Yoko Nogiri  

O - The Arsonist - Stephanie Oakes  

P - The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles) - Mary E. Pearson  

Q - Because of Miss Bridgerton - Julia Quinn  

R - Almost Midnight - Rainbow Rowell,Simini Blocker  

S - Prince in Disguise - Stephanie Kate Strohm  

T - The Darkest Corners - Kara Thomas  

U - Kissing Max Holden - Katy Upperman  

V - Anatomy of a Scandal: A Novel - Sarah Vaughan  

W - Ms. Marvel Vol. 8: Mecca - G. Willow Wilson  

X - 

Y - 

Z - American Street - Ibi Zoboi  

Free Space - Morrighan: A Remnant Chronicles Novella - Mary E. Pearson

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text 2018-03-02 02:00
Women Writers Bingo Progress

 

I'm still hitting a lot of repeat letters, but I managed to get a few new ones this past month.

 

A - Flame in the Mist - Renee Ahdieh  

B - Jackass! - Scarlet Beriko  

C - 

D - Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe - Melissa de la Cruz  

E - 

F - A World Without "Whom": The Essential Guide to Language in the BuzzFeed Age - Emmy J. Favilla  

G - Just Dreaming - Kerstin Gier  

H - The Last Black Unicorn - Tiffany Haddish  

I - 

J - Of Beast and Beauty - Stacey Jay  

K - He Said/She Said - Erin Kelly  

L - The Hearts We Sold - Emily Lloyd-Jones  

M - Secret of the Princess - Milk Morinaga  

N - 

O - The Arsonist - Stephanie Oakes  

P - The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles) - Mary E. Pearson  

Q - Because of Miss Bridgerton - Julia Quinn  

R - Almost Midnight - Rainbow Rowell,Simini Blocker  

S - Prince in Disguise - Stephanie Kate Strohm  

T - The Darkest Corners - Kara Thomas  

U - Kissing Max Holden - Katy Upperman  

V - 

W - Ms. Marvel Vol. 8: Mecca - G. Willow Wilson  

X - 

Y - 

Z - American Street - Ibi Zoboi  

Free Space - Morrighan: A Remnant Chronicles Novella - Mary E. Pearson 

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review 2018-02-28 18:59
J.K. Rowling Does "Mystery"
The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith

 

... and really, is there anything she can't write?

 

This may not be the most ingenious of plots (supermodel with "issues" falls to her death from the balcony of her high rise apartment; after the police have declared her death a probable suicide and closed the case, her brother shows up at the office of a down-and-out P.I. with a somewhat checkered past and pleads with him to reinvestigate; P.I. has a new temp secretary who gradually and reluctantly becomes his sidekick), but as always, it's all in the execution, and here, Rowling delivers on all fronts; from tone of voice to attitudes to every other aspect that's indispensable to creating well-rounded characters ... and what a cast of characters she's come up with, too.  She has an impeccable ear for dialogue, for the snazzy, street-wise language that few mysteries can do without, especially those published today -- all the more those set, like this one, in the demi-monde of fashion, film, rock (music, meth / cocaine, and whisky-on-the), modeling, moguls, and money both old and new -- and for endowing her characters with entirely credible human emotions.  All of her characters, that is, regardless how important they are to the story.  Even today, there are few mystery writers who manage that sort of feat.

 

And honestly, can you possibly think of a greater name for a protagonist, a run-down P.I. at that, than Cormoran Strike?

 

Count me in for book 2 of the series soon -- I wonder what took me so long to get to it in the first place.

 

Oh, and never mind that she published this under a male pen name (nice try, Joanne) ... the cat was out of the bag within weeks, if not days IIRC, and I am SO counting this book towards the "R" square of the Women Writers Bingo / Challenge.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-02-28 17:28
Enid Blyton in Oxford
Death on the Cherwell - Mavis Doriel Hay
Death on the Cherwell - Mavis Doriel Hay

Meh.  I think if the protagonists of this mystery had been some 3 or 5 years younger, and if I'd read this in my teens or preteens, I'd have loved it -- this is exactly the sort of book I used to swallow way back when (Enid Blyton's O'Sullivan Twins / St. Clare's and Famous Five series, The Three Investigators, the odd Nancy Drew); except that this book is set among Oxford college undergraduates.  And therein, to a large extent, lies the problem:  What would have been precocious in a high school student and a teenager comes across as simply silly and unreasonable in a college student, however much the author may preface her book with the warning that "[u]ndergraduates, especially those in their first year, are not, of course, quite sane or quite adult".  And I, in turn, am no longer the heroines' own age (and aspiring to their daring and their spirit of adventure), but several decades older, and able to look back on my own university years secure and jaded in the knowledge that even as a first year I'd likely have scorned the behavior of these girls -- and the mere attempt to solve a crime that is quite obviously in a very capable police inspector's hands anyway -- as supremely unreasonable; indeed, as risible. 

 

It certainly also doesn't help that Dorothy L. Sayers, in my absolute favorite among her Lord Peter Wimsey / Harriet Vane mysteries -- Gaudy Night, which coincidentally was published the same year as this book -- set the standard, once and for all, for how you "do" a mystery in a university setting; moreover, a mystery set, like this book, in an all-female college.  And yes, Sayers's book does include undergraduates, both male (from other Oxford colleges) and female.  And male and female alike, they do exhibit their share of silly behavior.  But they're nevertheless decidedly more rounded, multi-dimensional and capable of rational behavior and foresight than Hay's undergraduates are here.

 

So, I am definitely not the right audience for this book.  More than that, though, unlike Hay's Santa Klaus Murder, which I rather liked, this novel simply lacks depth; its plot is as shallow as its characters, half the clues don't seem to go anywhere in particular (even in the final reveal), and clichés abound -- including a number of jarringly racist clichés.  This is a pity particularly in light of the fact that Hay does tackle a serious issue which was of tremendous relevance to women in her day, and would remain to be so for decades to come -- not only, but even more so, in a professional environment,

namely, single / illegitimate motherhood,

(spoiler show)

and which would have deserved to be put front and center and explored in depth.  Still, I'm giving a fair amount of kudos to her for the fact that she is addressing this topic at all, which, together with the odd moment of more competent writing or (dar I say it?) even amusement, accounts for the fact that I'm rating this book, overall, as average instead of sub-par.

 

Stephen Booth, in his introduction to the British Library Crime Classics edition of this novel (yes -- for once it's not introduced by series consultant Martin Edwards) deplores that Hay only published three mysteries before turning to other things, of which this and The Santa Klaus Murder are two and Murder on the Underground is the third.  Judging by The Santa Klaus Murder and by some bits and pieces of talent shining through here, that may well be true.  I am glad, however, that she didn't try to make a career out of treading the same paths so successfully trodden by Enid Blyton, Robert Arthur and their ilk.  Or at least, I am glad that she didn't try to make a career writing mysteries that have undergraduate college students for protagonists ...

 

I read this for the "Education, Education, Education" square / chapter of the Detection Club bingo (it's not one of the mysteries accorded a special essay-length portrayal in Martin Edwards's Story of Classic Crime in 100 books, but it is definitely more than merely name-checked in the corresponding chapter; and indeed, the image for the relevant square of the Detection Club bingo card is taken from this book's cover), as well as -- as an additional book -- for the "H" square of the Women Writers Bingo / Challenge.

 

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