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posted by [personal profile] cat63 at 02:12pm on 01/01/2015 under ,
Under a cut as it's a pretty long list.

Titles in italics I read aloud to Rob.

260 )
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posted by [personal profile] cat63 at 08:04pm on 15/11/2014 under , , ,
(Books marked [RA] are those I read aloud to Rob)

201. Some Like it Hawk by Donna Andrew. 162 pages.

Another exploit for Meg Langslow and her innumerable friends and relatives in the Virginia town of Caerphilly. Implausible nonsense, but huge fun.

202. The Adventures of Inspector Lestrade by M.J. Trow. 152 pages.

I thought this Victorian crime thriller from the point of view of Sherlock Holme’s much-maligned police colleague might be fun but I found it disappointing both in characterisation and plot.

203. The Secret of Steeple Rocks by Harriet Pyne Grove. 147 pages.

Another of the books I worked on for Project Gutenberg. It starts off as a potentially interesting mystery and then just rather fizzles out. Disappointing.

204. Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce. 177 pages.

Part 1 of The Immortals series. More enjoyable yarns from the land of Tortall. This time the focus is on a young girl called Daine, who has a special rapport with animals.

205. The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross [RA]

Another outing for Bob Howard the computational demonologist. This time his mentor, Angleton, goes missing and there are a bunch of cultists trying to invoke the Great Old Ones. Just another day at the office then….

Rob and I both really like this series.

206. Wolf-Speakerby Tamora Pierce. 169 pages.

Second in the Immortals series. Daine is called in to help the wolf-pack who saved her life when her family were murdered by bandits and uncovers a plot against the King.

207. Overtime by Charles Stross. 26 pages. [RA]

A Christmas short story in the Laundry universe, where the things that are likely to come down the chimney are unlikely to be fat jolly white-bearded men bearing gifts…

208. Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce. 177 pages.
209. The Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce. 161 pages.

Third and forth books of the Immortals series.

I liked the last one less than the first three, perhaps because it features fewer of the familiar characters. But it does have the God of Duckmoles, making it probably the only book to feature a Platypus God :)

210. Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree by Nancy Atherton. 199 pages

This book annoyed me because it used the stupid cliche of someone having been on holiday and pretended to be someone else and instead of telling them to own up and tell the truth about it, their friends help them to carry on the deception when the person comes to visit them at home….

211. Ruby Celeste and the Ghost Armada by Nicholas J. Ambrose. 171 pages

Interesting steampunk setting, although the way things seem to work seems quite implausible - there are people living on a planet’s surface and airships and stations operating in its atmosphere, but travel between them id difficult and expensive. Not sure how plausible that is, but the story was interesting enough that I could mostly ignore that part.

212. A Play of Isaac by Margaret Frazer. 224 pages

Murder mystery with the protagonists a small band of medieval players. Nicely written and led me to look for the author’s Sister Frevisses mysteries.

213. Murder Out of the Blue by Steve Turnbull. 73 pages.

There were good things about this book - interesting ideas, a sympathetic main character and some reasonable world-building, but there were also several faults. The bad punctuation might be the publisher’s fault as much as the author’s, but the badly executed perspective shifts can be laid firmly at the latter’s door.

Still, given an editor who pays attention, and a bit of work, Turnbull could become a decent author.

214. Timeless by Gail Carriger, 282 pages.

Last of the Parasol Protectorate books. which is a pity, because although I’ve been quite frustrated by the author’s feeble grasp of how Victorian folk would have spoken, I’ve enjoyed the series and the characters and will miss them.

215. Death by Drowning by Abigail Keams. 178 pages.

Second mystery featuring beekeeper Josiah Reynolds. In this one she’s recovering from the injuries she suffered at the end of the previous book and trying to discover the truth about the death of a young neighbour.

It occurred to me partway through the book that although I sympathise with the protagonist I don’t actually like her very much….

216. Never Sorry by Edie Claire. 578 pages.

I like Leigh Koslow, the protagonist of this book, a lot better. She makes some bad decisions, but she’s basically a decent person. Unfortunately that doesn’t prevent her being arrested for a murder she didn’t commit.

A decent solid whodunnit.

217. The Novice’s Tale by Margaret Frazer. 197 pages.

First in a series about a crime-solving nun in the 1400s. The author is American, although unlike many other books written by Americans and set in England this is not immediately apparent, I’m glad to say.

Perhaps not quite up to Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael books, but not too far off.

218. The Apocalypse Codex by Charles Stross. 322 pages.[RA]

Like previous books in the Laundry series, this one is a pastiche of another series, in this case, Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise books. Unlike previous books in the Laundry series, the target material is painfully obvious and obtrusive and I felt the book suffered for it.

There were stil some enjoyable bits, but rob and I both though this book had too much pastiche and not enough Bob.

219. The Servant’s Tale by Margaret Frazer. 171 pages.

Second in the Sister Frevisse series. Another interesting whodunnit, which also introduces the players from the other Frazer book I read before starting this series.

220. The Outlaw’s Tale by Margaret Frazer. 180 pages.

Third in the Sister Frevisse series. This one was a little credulity-stretching on the plot front, but still entertaining.
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180. Balance of Trade by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. 273 pages

Jethri Gobelyn is the youngest son of his tradeship captain mother and since his father’s death, the least regarded. When an opportunity arises to become apprenticed to a Liaden Master Trader, Jethri seizes it and his life takes some interesting turns.

I’ve finally worked out why I like these books so much - they remind me of both Andre Norton and Lois McMaster Bujold. Splendid space shenanigans.

181. Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews. 234 pages.

Second of the Kate Daniels series.

This time there’s a mysterious crossbowman on the loose, a magic surge is on the way and Kate finds herself in charge of a teenage girl whose mother is missing.

Terrific rollercoaster action story with some interesting worldbuilding and mysteries.

182. Crystal Soldier by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. 307 pages

Another book in the Liaden series - this one goes back and tells the story of Jela and Cantra, the original founders of Clan Korval.

I didn’t think it was as good as the rest of the series, but that might just be my personal dislike of prequels.

183. Aunt Dimity Down Under by Nancy Atherton. 178 pages.

When her dear friends the Pym sisters fall ill, Lori must go on a quest to find their long-lost relative.

An absolute howler in this one - when the sisters fall ill, the villagers rally round to look after them and the postmistress kindly arranges for their post to be brought directly to their house….Clearly neither the author nor her editor understands that, with the exception of really remote places, that’s standard service for the post in the UK….

But I can forgive this sort of thing because these books are such fun otherwise.

184. The Air Mystery of Isle La Motte by E. J. Crain. 115 pages.

Juvenile adventure story, with rather a jolly hockey sticks Enid Blyton feel about it.

I worked on the proofreading of this one before it was posted to Project Gutenberg and was sorry to see that a handful of extraneous apostrophes had found their way into it in the interim :(

185. A Death In the Family by Caroline Dunsford. 130 pages.

I liked the protagonist of this one, so I was willing to overlook the sheer improbability of the plot. Unfortunately this book also suffers from s bad case of “spellchecked but not proofread” (at one point, a character denies that another man was in the army by saying “He was no solider”) which makes some sentences all but incomprehensible at first reading.

186. The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross. 294 pages.

Yes, I know, I’ve listed this one already this year, but this time I read it aloud to Rob. He understood the computerese more than I did and appreciated the pop culture references.

187. The Deeds of the Disturber by Elizabeth Peters. 309 pages.

Another adventure for Amelia Peabody and her irascible but stalwart husband Professor Emerson. This time it’s the perils of London rather than Egypt that draw them into mystery and danger, although I must admit to being more interested in the goings on at their home, where they have inadvisedly agreed to look after Amelia’s niece and nephew for the summer.

188. Nefarious Doings by Ilsa Evans. 237 pages.

Murder mystery set in Australia. Not sure about this one. The writing’s decent, but the characters are annoying and the protagonist does something so mindbogglingly stupid at one point that I lost a great deal of sympathy for her.

189. Blood Cross by Faith Hunter. 307 pages.

Second Jane Yellowrock novel.

Jane has been retained by the vampire council of New Orleans to catch the vampire who’s letting young rogue vamps loose on the streets.

Rather bloody but nicely done.

190. First Test by Tamora Pierce. 152 pages.
191. Page by Tamora Pierce. 164 pages.
192. Squire by Tamora Pierce. 259 pages.
193. Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce. 261 pages.

The Protector of the Small series. Keladry wants to be a knight. Unfortunately not many others want her to succeed. But she’s not going to let that stop her if she can help it.

Always a sucker for stories about young girls winning out against unfair treatment.

194. The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross. 334 pages.
195. Down on the Farm by Charles Stross. 33 pages.

Another novel and a short story in the Laundry series. Rob and I are both liking these very much.

196. The Real Macaw by Donna Andrews. 220 pages.

Another madcap outing with the Langslows and their supporting cast.

197. Alanna, the First Adventure by Tamora Pierce. 132 pages.
198.In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce. 138 pages.
199. The Woman who Rides Like A Man by Tamora Pierce. 152 pages.
200. Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce. 192 pages.

The Song of the Lioness series.

Reading these after the Protector of the Small books shows up how Pierce’s writing has improved in between. Keladry comes over as a much more rounded character than Alanna does.
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168. Aunt Dimity & the Deep Blue Sea by Nancy Atherton. 209 pages.

Lori, Bill and their children are targeted by a murderous stalker. These books get sillier and sillier and I really hope Americans don’t take them as a real depiction of what life is like in rural Britain, but I can’t seem to stop reading them anyway….

169. Local Custom by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. 292 pages

This book fills in the story of Shan’s parents. It’s basically a love story in space, but at the same time it’s relevant to stuff that happens later. Very readable, apart from wanting to bash the characters round the head and tell them to think about stuff properly….

170. Skulduggery Pleasant - The Dying of the Light by Derek Landy. 605 pages.

Last book in this series. rather bitty and despite having the clear intent to wrap everything up neatly, fails to do so.

The back of the book says it’s suitable for 11 years old and up - seems a bit graphically violent for 11 year olds to me, but then I don’t have kids, so maybe that’s normal these days….

171. Aunt Dimity Goes West by Nancy Atherton. 184 pages.

Lori and the twins go to America for a holiday to recover from the events of the previous book - and of course they stumble onto yet another mystery.

172. Scout’s Progress by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. 305 pages

This book fills in the backstory of Val Con’s parents.

173. Aunt Dimity - Vampire Hunter by Nancy Atherton. 186 pages.

The twins start school and Lori gets overprotective. Hilarity ensues.

174. I Dare by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. 435 pages

The culmination of the Korval vs the Ministry of the Interior storyline. A bit rushed in my view - I think t could easily have been spread out over two books with no harm done - but enjoyable nonetheless.

175. The Axe Factor by Colin Cotterill. 200 pages.

Third Jimm Juree novel. This time Jimm meets an English author and investigates the disappearance of an elderly doctor. Rather better than the previous book in the series.

176. The Cats That Surfed the Web by Karen Anne Golden. 153 pages.

In order to inherit a fortune, a siamese cat owner must move to another state and live there for a specified period….I think it’s fair to say that this book owes a thing or two to Lilian Jackson Braun….

LJB had her faults, but she could teach this author a thing or two about using contractions in dialogue.

The cats were more interesting than most of the human characters who were largely incompetent and clueless and the main character had only a tangential involvement in solving the mystery. I don’t know if I’ll bother with any more of this series.

177. Stork Raving Mad by Donna Andrews. 211 pages.

Another visit to the Langslow clan. Meg is heavily pregnant, has a house full of students and an imminent theatrical production. So of course things get even more complicated with great rapidity and before long there’s that classic of detective fiction - a body in the library…

Massive, implausible fun.

178. A Colourful Death by Carola Dunn. 274 pages.

Second in the Cornish mystery series. Still not as good as the Daisy Dalrymple books, but an improvement on the first of this series.

179. Aunt Dimity Slays the Dragon by Nancy Atherton. 190 pages.

King Wilfred’s Faire comes to the village of Finch - but it looks as though someone is plotting regicide….Lori investigates as usual…
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150. Aunt Dimity’s Death by Nancy Atherton. 213 pages.

Lori Shepherd is astonished to hear that aunt Dimity has died - because she always believed Dimity was just a character in the stories her mother told her.

But the discovery that Aunt Dimity was a real person leads to enormous changes in Lori’s life.

Entertaining nonsense.

151. Aunt Dimity and the Duke by Nancy Atherton. 229 pages

In terms of publication order this is the second Aunt Dimity book, but it’s actually a prequel, filling in the backstory for some of the minor characters in the first one.

I enjoyed it, but but would have enjoyed it more if the author had done her research a bit better - I could take the heavy sprinkling of Americanisms, given that the viewpoint character was from the other side of the pond, but having Cornish villagers refer to their local bobby as “the chief constable”, not so much. And I’m moderately sure that science fairs aren’t a thing in English schools either.

Otherwise a nice gentle romance and mystery, which reminded me at times of Ellis Peters, only cosier.

152. Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder. 279 pages.

Avry is a healer, who can take the wounds and illnesses of others into herself and heal from them faster than the original person. But healers like Avry have been blamed for spreading a hideous plague which has decimated the Fifteen realms and there’s a price on Avry’s head.

Fast-paced fantasy adventure. Looking forward to the sequels.

153. Aunt Dimity’s Good Deed by Nancy Atherton. 224 pages.

The third book in the series returns to Lori, whose happy ending turns out to be not quite so complete as she’d thought.

More daft ghost detective romance.

154. Aunt Dimity Digs In by Nancy Atherton. 223 pages.

I like these books a lot - they’re fun and fluffy and entertaining.

I was going to complain about the putting of American terms into the mouths of the English characters, but apparently this may not be the author’s fault - American editors don’t believe American readers can cope with British terminology so it gets Americanised, in a Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone stylee…

155. The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal by Lilian Jackson Braun. 174 pages.

Another exploit for Jim Qwilleran and his detective cat.

156. The Mangle Street Murders by M.R. C. Kasasian. 332 pages.

Hm. Not sure about this one. Orphaned March Middleton goes to live with her godfather, Sidney Grice, who is a “personal detective”. March becomes embroiled in his latest case.

I like March, but Grice is a thoroughly nasty person and I found the resolution of the plot a bit unsatisfactory.

I might read the sequel to see if things improve at all.

157. Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil by Nancy Atherton. 184 pages.

Another charmingly absurd book in this series.

158. Agent of Change by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. 259 pages

First (at least in terms of publication order) of the Liaden Universe books. it seemed a little directionless for much of the time, but I liked the alien Clutch. I shall probably look for more of the books in this setting.

159. Aunt Dimity: Detective by Nancy Atherton. 174 pages.

Another enjoyable book in this series.

160. A Conflict of Honors by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. 277 pages

Second in the Liaden Universe books. I liked it this one a lot more than Agent of Change - it had much better flow. Things weren’t always clearly explained, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

161. Aunt Dimity Takes A Holiday by Nancy Atherton. 143 pages.

162. The Ascendant Stars by Micharl Cobley 451 pages.

Book three of the trilogy.

It was getting to a point where I began to think that after all the careful buildup there wasn’t enough book left to resolve everything sufficiently.

Unfortunately, I was right.

Oh, the main plot threads get conclusions, but there are so many dangling bits and unresolved situations that it seems to me that another couple of hundred pages are needed at least.

I’m not one of those people who wants every tiny thing wrapped up and explained in excruciating detail, but I do like to have a clear idea of the situation at the end and this book didn’t provide that.

A shame, as the buildup was mostly very good.

163. Aunt Dimity: Snowbound by Nancy Atherton. 188 pages.

164. Carpe Diem by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. 345 pages

Third of the Liaden books. This one links up the characters from the first two books and an underlying plot becomes evident. Looking forward to the next one.

165. Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin by Nancy Atherton. 173 pages.

166. Nurk by Ursula Vernon. 79 pages.

Nurk is a very small and not very brave shrew. But he thinks he might quite like to have an adventure, like his notorious grandmother, so when a mysterious letter arrives, asking for help, with some trepidation he sets off to investigate…

I don’t think Ursula Vernon has ever written anything I didn’t like and this book is sprinkled with her delightful artwork too. My only complaint about this book is that there isn’t nearly enough of it :)

167. Plan B by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. 288 pages

Fourth Liaden book. These seem to improve as they go on and I’m looking forward very much to reading more about the various characters. I think the Clutch turtles are my favourites, but several others come close too…
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posted by [personal profile] cat63 at 08:39pm on 31/08/2014 under , , ,
138. Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina. 168 pages.

Another American author who writes books set in England apparently without bothering to do any research…. Hint : Victorian English ladies would not be talking about “cookie batter” nor do English schools have graduation ceremonies - universities yes, schools, no.

The story and characters were quite fun though.

139. The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare by Lilian Jackson Braun. 150 pages.
140. The Cat Who Sniffed Glue by Lilian Jackson Braun. 161 pages.

Two more outings for Jim Qwilleran and his Siamese cats.

141. The Little Grey Men by “B.B.”. 178 pages.

The last gnomes in England set out upstream to find their missing brother…

I seem to have missed this children’s classic when I was a small person, which is rather a shame, because I think twelve-year-old me would have enjoyed it even more than fifty-one-year-old me did, which was quite a lot.

The writing is excellent - the language used is often poetic but without being overblown or pompous. The author’s evident approval of fox hunting would be more controversial today than in 1942 when the book was written, but otherwise it's very charming.

142. The Cat Who Went Underground by Lilian Jackson Braun. 183 pages.

Another murder mystery for Jim and the cats.

143. Skinwalker by Faith Hunter. 321 pages.

And on to a rather different cat… Jane Yellowrock is a vampire hunter, but she’s also a skinwalker, someone who can take the shape of various different animals - for a price. Jane’s in New Orleans to hunt a rogue vampire who’s killing not only humans but other vampires too. Staying alive, earning her fee and keeping her true nature a secret make life pretty complicated….

This was a lucky find in a charity shop and I enjoyed it very much - will definitely be looking for more of the series.

144. Swan For the Money by Donna Andrews. 246 pages.

Another visit to the town of Caerphilly where this time Meg Langslow has been landed with organising the local rose show. Of course, this being Meg’s life, things are far from simple and it’s not long before complications abound and a corpse is in evidence.

As ever, utterly implausible but huge fun.

145. The Cat Who Talked to Ghosts by Lilian Jackson Braun. 191 pages.

Jim Qwilleran and his cats solve another mystery or two.

146. The Orphaned Worlds by Michael Cobley. 147 pages.

Book two of the Humanity’s Fire trilogy. A bit slow and moving-people-into-place, as book2 of trilogies tend to be….

Still interesting though and makes me want to know what happens to the characters.

147. Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews. 204 pages.

Kate Daniels is a mercenary in a world where there are “waves” of magic and technology working.

She’s been trying to keep a low profile, but when her guardian is murdered, she has to find the culprit…

I enjoyed this one a great deal. interesting world building and characters and a lot of questions still unanswered make me want to read more books in this series.

148. Killer Keepsakes by Jane K. Cleland. 263 pages.

Another mystery for antiques dealer Josie Prescott. This time her assistant, Gretchen has gone missing - is she victim or villain?

Workmanlike whodunnit, although Josie’s relationship with the press is a touch implausible.

149. The Cat Who Lived High by Lilian Jackson Braun. 186 pages.

Jim Qwilleran and his cats go to Chicago to spend the winter and investigate the possibility of refurbishing a grand old building. But skullduggery is afoot…

A reasonable entry in this series, except for the annoying “two weeks earlier” style beginning and really objectionable scene where Qwilleran, aware that one of his fellow tenants, a harmless elderly lady, is nervous of strange men, deliberately behaves in such a way as to intimidate her - breathing heavily, stomping down the stairs behind her and so on. Way to be a creep, Qwilleran…

This isn’t usual behaviour for him, so perhaps it’s meant to show he’s under stress living in the city, but it just made me want to yell at him.
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posted by [personal profile] cat63 at 11:27am on 21/07/2014 under , , ,
115. Something from the Nightside by Simon R. Green. 116 pages.

I’ve read many of Simon R. Green’s books before, but somehow never got hold of his “Nightside” series.

I’m glad to have rectified that omission now, as this was an excellent read - something along the lines of Harry Dresden meets Neverwhere. Will be hunting down the rest of the series as soon as I can.

Thanks to rhiannon_s for recommending this series.

116. Fortune’s Fool by Mercedes Lackey. 226 pages.

3rd in the 500 Kingdoms series. I think of these as “self-aware fairy tales” - the protagonists are aware of the rules that govern their stories and try to use them to their own advantage.

This one focuses on the Russian folk tale tradition and has a seventh son, a “fortunate fool” as one of its central characters.

117. Death by a Honey Bee by Abigail Keam. 173 pages.

When a dead man is found face-first in one of her beehives, beekeeper Josiah Reynolds falls under suspicion and has to prove her innocence.

Interesting story, which could have been a a fair bit better written. My main problem with it, apart from the patchy structure of the plot, is the failure to use contractions in the dialogue - much of it sounds horribly stiff and stilted as a result of that.

118. Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs. 233 pages.

Third in the Mercy Thompson series. Mercy’s fae friend Zee is arrested for a murder he didn’t commit and Mercy is determined to prove his innocence. But the rest of the fae aren’t so keen for her to get involved…

Good plot, interesting setting. Looking forward to reading more books in this series.

119. Gently in the Sun by Alan Hunter. 239 pages.

I’d enjoyed this series up to now, but this one seemed vaguely unsatisfactory, for reasons I’m not entirely clear about. Possibly because this time Gently didn’t work the solution out for himself, but had to be led to it.

120. The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lilian Jackson Braun. 148 pages.

Second book about reporter Jim Qwilleran and his Siamese cat Koko. Jim is assigned to produce a weekly colour supplement about interior decorating, which sounds entirely fluffy and harmless. But before long theft and murder raise their ugly heads, and only Jim and Koko can sort it all out….

Fun, light mystery series.

121. Wheel of the Infinite by Martha Wells. 264 pages.

Synopsis from Goodreads :-

“Every year, the Wheel of the Infinite must be painstakingly remade to ensure peace and harmony. And every hundred years, the Wheel and the world become one. But now a black storm ravages the beautiful mandala, and a woman with a shadowy past -- an exile, murderer, and traitor -- has been summoned back to put the world right. For if Maskelle and the swordsman Rian cannot stop the Wheel's accelerating disintegration -- then all that is what and will be...will end.”

Wells is brilliant at devising believable fantasy worlds and this book is no exception. Her plots are nicely non-predictable too.

122. Never Buried by Edie Claire.191 pages.

Leigh is staying with her pregnant cousin Cara while Cara’s husband is away in Japan. But someone wants the two of them out of the old house Cara has restored and seems prepared to go to unpleasant lengths to achieve this end.

Decent, solid mystery. I may well look for more in this series.
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105. The Ghost and the Graveyard by Genevieve Jack. 211 pages.

When Grateful Knight moves into a rent-free house she’s a bit concerned to find there’s a graveyard next door. But financial necessity trumps spooky neighbours and she stays, only to find that there are worse things than ghosts for her to worry about….

Reasonably interesting plot, but rather too focused on the sex scenes for my liking.

106. Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi. 259 pages.

An alien race want to make first contact with Earth. but they have a bit of an image problem. So who do they get in touch with? A Hollywood agent of course….

Not as good as Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series, but still well worth a read.

107. Heirs of the Body by Carola Dunn. 264 pages.

Another outing for the Honourable Daisy Dalrymple. This time she’s involved in trying to work out who will inherit the title that belonged to her late father, as the current holder is childless.

Claimants arrive from far-flung places, but records are patchy and it’s hard to ascertain which of them is descended from the right branch of the family. And then one of the candidates dies in mysterious circumstances….

Another good solid mystery in this series.

108. A Free Man of Color by Barbara Hambly. 306 pages.

In 1833, trained surgeon Benjamin January, grief-stricken after the death of his wife, returns to his home town of New Orleans. But he can’t practice medicine there, because Ben is the “free man of color” of the title. So he earns a living with his other skill - playing the piano.

But doing a favour for a former piano pupil puts Ben in the frame for a vicious murder and before long he’s struggling to preserve his freedom and his life….

I don’t think Hambly has ever written a bad book and this is a really good one - she paints a vivid picture of New Orleans with its complex social divisions, politics and intrigue.

Excellent stuff.

109. The Hanover Square Affair by Ashley Gardner. 197 pages.

This book is a “Regency mystery” but I think the author could do with reading a bit more Georgette Heyer. The insistence on having his characters “write” rather than “write to” each other is particularly grating.

But the main character is sufficiently engaging that I might consider reading the second book in the series if it falls in my way.

110. Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire. 214 pages.

Book 4 of the October Daye series.

Not only is someone poisoning Toby’s friends, but they’re setting her up to take the fall for it.Toby’s in deeper trouble than ever - but she has loyal friends and enormous determination. She just has to hope that’s enough….

This was one of those books that I wanted to keep reading to find out what happens, but didn’t want to reach the end, because the it would be over.

111. Louisiana Longshot by Jana deLeon. 181 pages.

A CIA agent has to lie low for a while, so her boss sends her to a small Louisiana town to pose as his niece. But when a human bone washes into her garden just after she arrives, she finds she needs to catch the murderer in order to maintain her cover. So, with the help of the local “Geritol Mafia” she sets out to do just that….

Not very plausible, but enough fun that I didn’t care - quite similar in tone to the Meg Langslow series, which is a good thing.

I was rather thrown by this line near the end, where the speaker is remarking on the main character’s coolness under stress :-

“Throughout this entire mess of murder, kidnappings and gunfire, you have remained nonplussed.”

I thought it was an illustration of the perils of not proofreading, but apparently it’s an actual usage in US English. Not one of their better ones, I feel.

112. Zombie, Ohio by Scott Kenemore. 227 pages.

Zombie apocalypse tale from the point of view of a smarter than average zombie. Ok, but nothing outstanding.

113. Urn Burial by Kerry Greenwood. 143 pages.

Another outing for Phryne Fisher and her entourage. Phryne visits an old friend an murder and ayhem inevitably follow….

114. Deadly Appraisal by Jane K. Cleland. 189 pages.

Second in the Josie Prescott series. Not as good as the first one, I thought - it tended to follow the pattern of the first book a touch too closely - but still a decent read.
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posted by [personal profile] cat63 at 09:15am on 11/07/2014 under ,
From the Department of Inigo Montoya :-

A character in the book I've just read is pointing out another character's calm behaviour in extraordinary circumstances :-

"“Throughout this entire mess of murder, kidnappings and gunfire, you have remained nonplussed.

Yeah, I don't think that's quite the word they wanted.... Perhaps they couldn't spell "unfazed".

(Quite a good read otherwise though).
Mood:: 'amused' amused
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posted by [personal profile] cat63 at 11:01am on 03/07/2014 under , , ,
99. A Shilling for Candles by Josephine Tey. 246 pages.

Classic detective story. Good, but not outstanding. Somewhat reminiscent of Margery Allingham in places.

100. Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik. 259 pages.

I love this series, but this latest book was something of a disappointment.

This felt as though it was the outlines for three separate novels, with the action scenes fleshed out and not much else. What was there was good, but it felt as though great swathes had been left out. Not up to the usual standard at all, sad to report.

101. Dead Spots by Melissa F. Olsen. 254 pages.

This book uses a similar idea to that on which Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series is based - a person who has the ability to nullify the power of vampires and werewolves - but it goes in a rather different and more serious direction with it.

Scarlett Bernard is a null - being in her radius of influence turns supernatural beings temporarily human again, which makes her useful to the leaders of the various supernatural groups. When Scarlett meets policeman Jesse at a particularly vicious crime scene, both their lives are in great danger.

Nice plotting and worldbuilding plus sympathetic and interesting characters. I bought the sequel as soon as I finished it.

[ profile] jaelle_n_gilla  - you might like this one.

102. Room With a Clue by Kate Kingsbury. 169 pages.

I’m getting a tad fed up with authors who set their books in the Victorian/Edwardian period in England and then have their characters using modern American phrases. Do your research, people! Or if you can’t be bothered to do that, set your book in a time and place where people actually do speak like that.

Kingsbury has less excuse than most, having been born in England and moved to the US later.

The plot was reasonably Ok, but I kept getting jarred out of the book by the anachronistic language. I shan’t be in any hurry to read more of this series.

103. Consigned to Death by Jane K. Cleland. 226 pages.

Now that’s rather more like it! Antiques dealer Josie Prescott is implicated when a rich client is found murdered and goes to work to clear her name.

A much better effort and this series I will be looking to read more of.

104. The Penguin Who Knew Too Much by Donna Andrews. 228 pages.

Another outing for Meg Langslow and her demented pack of relatives. Not really remotely plausible, but so much fun it doesn’t matter :)

This time Meg and fiance Michael have a literal zoo descend upon them, rather than the figurative one they usually have to deal with….


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