Thoughts on things, mostly books.
Non-fiction book for Feb 2019 My Book Box.
If anyone writes more beautifully about Paris than John Baxter, I’ve yet to read them.
This book is supposedly about Paris throughout the year. It loosely follows this (there are some jumps in season, time, and place) as well as a brief history of the Revolution’s desire to change the calenderer.
It is best to think of this book as part memoir of seasons of his life in Paris, as well as seasons of Paris. Each chapter is like a meditation.
There are interesting little factoids that pop up. Like France’s obsession with sanitation. Or how names use to be chosen for French children. There is a wonderful bit about April, Paris, and music. There are observations like, “More so in France than anywhere else in the world, political survival turns on a gesture” (207).
There are parts of the book that are somewhat, well strange. It’s not the comparison between Baxter’s Australia or California. Those parts are interesting. It’s just sometimes, it almost feels like he is oversharing. There is a bit too much about his sexual relationships. Don’t get me wrong, the details aren’t overly graphic, and the first relationship is actually beautifully described. However, he does seem to think of Paris, in part, as terms of women he has relationships with. (Most importantly, it should be fairly noted, his wife and daughter. He dedicates the book to both, and they do seem to be the loves of his life. The two non-marriage relationships occur prior to the marriage). So, we also get details about his relationship with a German woman. There also is a weird bit about an Aussie’s man’s junk. Which comes out of left field. I’m not really sure why that was there.
Still, it is a beautiful book about Paris. You should read it.
Hines’ second outing with the hero Janitors involves Mops and crew going back to Earth. There are references to Farscape (living ships), Willard Scott, and sports (as well as possible current US politics).
I like the sports in this book.
It is also a love novel to books and libraries.
While I didn’t find the novel as funny the first one in the series, it is still an excellent book. In part, this is because, like Terry Pratchett, Jim C Hines’ heroes are those that would not have even been mentioned in the epic fantasy or sci-fi. This is only one reason why Hines is really deserves the title of America’s Answer to Terry Pratchett. Mops and her crew of janitors are heroes with such a level of doneness that it is wonderful.
The janitor crew travels to Earth because of certain rumors involving whether or not there might be change in feral humans. They discover a bit more about the lies that were revealed in the first book. Hines also gives a solution to that plot and brings up another plot thread to lead into the next book. (The ending report of this book is so wonderfully funny).
It is also important to note that unlike much writing where the motives of the evil doers are never fully examined, Hines does the opposite. The motivates of the head boss are examined. This is something that is rarely done. Furthermore, this is a book where the ones in command positions are all female.
But honesty, the price of the book is well worth reading Doc’s interrogation scene.
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The older I get, the more frustrated I get with “events”, at least in terms of movies. Don’t really care which Avengers are going to make out whatever Avengers movie is coming out soon. It’s Marvel; the only character never brought to life is Uncle Ben. I am also the type of person who hears about the guy who jumps off a cruise ship into the ocean to see if he could do and then says “good” when the cruise ship bans him for life.
So, there is something wrong with me. I freely admit this.
If I get hyped about anything, it is usually a book. But even then, if the book is hyped, I tend to be well disappointed. I didn’t love The Girl with Dragon Tattoo and have no desire to read any of the other books. It’s important you know this before reading this review any further.
In some ways, The Wolf and the Watchman is being set up as Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets the Alienist. It is historical mystery, set in the 1700s in Sweden, largely Stockholm. There are two oddly paired detectives – the more brilliant if problematic one, and the more physical one. There is similarity to Holmes and Watson in the characters, though both Cardell and Winge are far earthlier than their Doyle counterparts. The mystery is part cultural critique but with plenty of creepy bits.
And yet, there is a sense of it not quite living up to the hype, of a lack of something. Perhaps it is because the characters are too much like type, perhaps because it is a little too much like every other Swedish mystery (okay, not like Inspector Huss) that gets translated into English, and much like many English mysteries – tortured men, women in need of saving.
Still, it was an interesting read.
Chadwick's second volume of her series about Eleanor of Aquitaine is a good strong volume. It chronicles the breakdown of her marriage to Henry II as well as the start of the major family in fighting between Mama Bear and her cubs against Papa Bear.
At some points, Eleanor is a bit more sinned against than sinning, but Chadwick's take on history is rather plausible. It is particularly fun watching Maud and Eleanor interact. Chadwick does an excellent job showcasing how frustrating and annoying it must have been for a woman like Eleanor to be constantly shoved to the side.
There is also a happy romance to balance the failing of marriage.
Totally enjoyable read.
Two Old Women is on sale for 1.99. It is a great book.
Christie's Evil Under the Sun
Scourge of Henry VIII
Flat Broke with Two Goats (I liked this one)
DC Icons Wonder Woman
Several romances including Janet Dailey, Debbie Macomber, and Beverly Jenkins.
American Gods Graphic Novel Vol 1
By a Spider's THread by Lippman
Several DK eyewitness Travel guides
Books by Heather Graham, Mary Stewart, and M C Beaton as well as Joe Grey Mysteries and Lady Julia Grey Mysteries
Several Miltary/Police canine harlequin looking books
Pancakes in Paris (I really enjoyed this one. The author worked on TNT's Robin Hood series)
As Always Julia
Becoming Madeline (biography of L'Engle by her daugthers)
Dr. Who Cookbook
A few Ted Dekker books
Young Frankenstein The Making of the Film
The Card Catalog
Not One Damsel in Distress
Bull by David Elliot
When I first heard that James was writing a fantasy that used African myth, legends, and folklore, I was very excited, so it should be noted I had high expectations of this novel. Also, I love James’ but it takes about 100 or so pages for me to get into his books, but then I can’t put it down.
So, here’s the thing – most readers are going to fall into one of two camps with this book – you are either going to love it, or you’re going to hate it. There is going to be, I believe, a smaller group who fall somewhere in the middle.
At its most basic, the novel is a quest, as Tracker and various other characters (there are quite a few characters) try to find a boy. But the sweeping narrative is far more than that. If Tolkien drew from English and European myth/legend to fashion Middle Earth, James draws from African story telling tradition as well myth/legend/folklore here.
But to care it an African or Black LOTR or GOT is wrong because it implies that those two are the originals, and this book is more diverse version.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf is its own thing, as any good novel should be.
To say that the book is layered would be an understatement. There are references to comics as well as current events. Some of the sexual violence in the book does seem to be a comment FGM and criminalization of homosexuality.
There are character and figures that are from African legend, yet the African epic I found myself thinking of the most when reading the book was Sundiata from Mali. I’m not familiar enough with the style of griots, but I do also wonder if James’ style here is influenced by that tradition.
It doesn’t equal A Brief History of Seven Killings, and at time it could have been less sprawling, but there was something wonderful about the vision.
This is an excellent book about the Battle of the Plains of Abraham - the battle that basically won Quebec for the British.
Macleod's descriptions of the Battle, in particular the Scots fighting, are particularly good. There's this one old Scot who must have been descended from the Spartans.
He is also even handed. His treatment of both Montcalm and Wolfe does not lionize either men.
Here are some photos of the Plains