Old dogs, new tricks

After having given up on blogger I’ve found myself reinvigorated about blogging so I’m moving to a new platform and hopefully a continued zeal  towards blogging. Here’s hoping I master a new platform! I am a reader of all things genre – mystery/thriller, speculative fiction, horror and occasionally romance,  with the occasional foray into literary and women’s fiction. A lot of these titles will be young adult since that’s an area I need to keep up with in my day job.

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – Villains

Since I read a lot of horror and YA fantasy villains are plentiful. The villains that most resonate with me though are those who I feel a bit empathetic towards. They tend to be more complex characters. Most but not all of the villains on my list match that category. Without further ado….

Three of the villains that stand out for me from my childhood would be

junglebook

  1. Shere Khan in The Jungle Book. My memories of the bookish Shere Khan are intermingled with the movie version but I always felt that as a cripple Shere Khan deserves some pity even if he does end up as a sociopathic tiger.
  2. Mr. Dark in Something Wicked This Way Comes.
  3. Montresor from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado – This story scared me spitless and the key phrase still give me the creeps “”For the love of God, Montresor!” to which Montresor replies, “Yes, for the love of God!” “

Some of my memorable adult villains would be

sweetheart

  1. Gretchen Lowell – the female serial killer in Chelsea Cain’s Archie Sheridan novels. She should be absolutely unredeemable but there is something in her relationship with Archie, such as it is, that hints that there might be a tiny, tiny kernel of humanity within her.
  2. The School Board from Deadline by John Sandford. Sandford has had some great villains in his books but the concept of a school board in a small Minnesota town willing to take a vote on whether various individuals should be killed was just too much fun. There is also a great dognapping subplot.
  3. The Southern Reach Agency in Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer Creepy secretive governmental agencies scare me more than individual baddies.
  4. Warden Worth in  Horrorstor – What better villain can you have than a dead warden even crazier than his also deceased metal patients in an malevolent Ikea type store?
  5. Humbert Humbert from Validmir Nabokov’s Lolita – A man who finally admits that he is a monster for a brief period f time

 

And now for a couple of YA villains. These two stand out for me  in a very crowded field

shadow

  1. The Darkling from Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone I know I wasn’t the only one to ship Alina and Alekander.  I cannot totally hate a character who wants to try and save his people from oppression.
  2. Minya from Strange the Dreamer by Lani Taylor. Perhaps the most sympathetic of villains. Watching everyone around you die would be enough reason to mistrust and hate the people that slaughtered your family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Reading Week in Review it was a five star kind of week!

The reading week in review October 15-21st

Wow, I hit on the perfect combination of books last week. Both the titles that I finished were so satisfying to this reader. I am still basking the the afterglow of a good read.

systems red

I am ashamed to say that it took me far to long to read All Systems Red  by Martha Wells. I co-worker of mine had raved constantly about an earlier series by Ms. Wells (Tales of the Raksura) I then saw all the rave reviews for All Systems Red and proceeded to do nothing.. The title certainly appealed to me as I thought initially that the book was about a murderous robot. On that count I was wrong.

All Systems Red revolves around a security unit aka SecUnit who has been contracted out by The Company to protect and monitor a group of scientists researching a new planet.. The Company keeps track of all conversations etc. though this is unknown to the clients. This SecUnit has given itself the name Murderbot due to an earlier assignment in which it killed its clients.

Murderbot has also hacked its governor module and is now able to operate independently of The Company’s guidelines. This will turn out to be very useful later in the book. In some respects Murderbot is a typical employee. It would rather watch on-line dramas, is a bit of a slacker in doing its job. It didn’t bother to read the information about the group’s purpose, for example. It can also become annoyed towards its charges. Murderbot also feels uncomfortable around humans unless it is acting within its assigned role. When the humans begin to treat it like a person it becomes uncomfortable and it is fascinating to see both it and the humans try to act appropriately. The kinder they try to be to Murderbot the more it freaks out. Much of the humor comes from the emerging human/bot relationship. “Yes, talk to Murderbot about its feelings. The idea was so painful I dropped to 97 percent efficiency. I’d rather climb back into Hostile One’s mouth.”

Things become interesting when the humans realize that they may have been given faulty data about the planet they are exploring. There is some black humor involved when Murderbot admits that they bought a lower end contract and the Company may not be the best in the business. When things get hairy Murderbot raise to the occasion and excels at protecting her humans. The lack of the governor module makes this possible. Since it isn’t a military bot it improves a bit with things it learned on the drama shows it watches.

The story is told in first person and Murderbot shines as a unique personality. It’s fascinating to see how its psychological profile changes as the story progresses.  Murderbot is clearly a person but one that in its world is normally not considered such. The action moves along nicely and the world building is excellent. I can’t wait to read more adventures with Murderbot to find out more about the Company and Murderbot’s past.

jane

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows and Brodi Ashton

I listened to My Lady Jane on audio. The late, greatly missed Katherine Kellgren read the book and her narration was fantastic. I’m sure I would have been as fond of the book if I just read it but Ms. Kellgren’s performance made the book even more enjoyable.

My Lady Jane follows Lady Jane Grey and King Edward the VI and at least a Wikipedia’s worth of knowledge might be useful to get some of the humor in the story. The authors have taken, how shall we say, a lot of liberties with history. “we’ve tweaked minor details. We’ve completely rearranged major details. Some names have been changed…simply because we though a name was terrible and we liked another name better.” Let’s just say that the story involves magic and is told by three alternate points of view –King Edward slowly dying and as yet unkissed by a girl. The kissing part weighs more heavily on his mind than the dying part. Lady Jane Grey a girl after my own heart what with her devotion to all things bookish and her husband Gifford, who spends his days as a horse and his evenings as a poet. Their three stories enter twine to great effect. Edward and Jane have to keep Mary from burning the Edians those individuals capable of taking animal form. Along the way there is romance, lots and lots of romance. Will Jane and Gifford finally fall in love, will Edward ever be kissed. Dear reader you must peruse the pages to find out.

There is so much to love here. Jane was extremely easy for me to like since she is such a bookworm, she thinks and acts independently and she shows so much affection for her cousin Edward. King Edward too has deep feelings  toward Jane and his sister Bess (Queen Elizabeth in our world)  and his slow awakening to the fact that perhaps he hadn’t been the best King gives him a little more depth. The women are feisty including a certain Scot Edward encounters. In addition the book is just a lot of fun. Who cannot like a book wherein the rules for Jane and Edwards marriage are Very funny, my lady. And that reminds me”—he pointed a finger at her—“no horse jokes.” He was making it too easy. “Ah, my lord, why the long face?”

For Edward 1. No riding the horse 2. No bridling the horse 3. No saddling the horse 4. No horse jokes for Jane 1.No touching my books.2 No chewing on my books no.3 No hay in my books “do all your rules pertain to books? I suppose I understand why, since your social shortcomings mean books are your closest friends.”

For me this was a much needed book to counteract the seriousness in the world. Fans of broad comedy should love this book.

 

 

 

 

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A bazillion reason why I can’t seem to decrease my TBR .

My husband would tell you that I cannot reduce my TBR because I keep buying books. Silly man! Here ar emy (ahem) more legit reasons.

Reason number 1 – my commute. I live 20 miles away for my work but it can take two hours to get home Insane, right? This means that by the time I get home I crawl in the door, eat dinner and maybe, maybe get 30-40 pages read before bed. There is one blessing to the commute in that I listen to a lot of audiobooks but those audiobooks are not decreasing the book piles on the floor.

Reason number 2 – I discovered booktube a couple of years ago. This means I fritter away time watching it instead of reading and I add a whole bunch of books to my shopping basket. Dang all you personable, well read booktubers (shakes fist in mock anger)

Reason number 3 – Review periodicals/blogger reviews. See reason number 2.

Reason number 4 – My public library. My public library is great! They have lots of current titles and an excellent hold system. The only problem is that my holds always seem to come in at once no matter how diligent I am at managing my hold queue. This means I have to read the library books first ‘cause you know there are lots of holds and no renewals. This means I have to put down a book from my personal TBR to try and finish the book before it is due.

Reason number 5 – I read the first in a trilogy x number of months/years ago and don’t remember what the heck happened. I want to reread book 1 but – no time so those books  sit in the TBR and may very well wait until I retire, sigh.

Reason number 6 – The book is too long. I’ve got some SF I’d really like to get to but those puppies are anywhere between 6-8 hundred pages long. 800 pages divided by 40 pages = about a month for me to finish one book. My odd reasoning for not reading these long dudes is that I can finish two or three off my TBR in the same amount of time and I can then rehome them and theoretically see my floor again.

Reason 7 –  I want to keep a book after I’ve read it. I generally am not a big rereader so I donate most of my books once I’m done. If I am going to keep them that isn’t going to reduce the stack so…..

Reason 8 – Obsessive/time consuming hobbies outside of reading. I am an avid quilter and an occasionally avid gardener. Both these hobbies can be quite the time sink. If I am working on a quilt I can do that for a good 7-8 hrs pretty much non-stop. I don’t like listening to audiobooks when I am quilting and/or gardening as I have to concentrate on what I’m doing. I had company this past weekend and I couldn’t quilt in front of them but they like to read so we spent two comfortable afternoons consuming books. I finished two that I’ll mention in another post. Had the company not been there though I would still be mid book but a few further rows along in my current quilt.

 

These are just a few of my reasons for having a TBR. What are yours? Do you have a successful management system? If so spill!

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Reading Week in Review – It’s a Mystery

Reading week in review October 1-7

sulfur

Sulfur Springs by William Kent Krueger is the first title I’ve read, or in this case listened to,  by this author. While it is the 16th in the series I had no problems reading it as a standalone.

The story follows Cork O’Conner and his new wife Rainy as they depart Minnesota for Arizona to prove that Rainey’s son Peter is both still alive and that he didn’t kill anyone. Rainy had received a garbled message form her son saying something about killed and a man’s name Rodriguez. Once Rainy and Cork reach Arizona Rainy soon discovers that she might not have known her son as well as she thought she did. He had left the job she thought he still had, he is not at any known address and appears to have indeed disappeared off the face of the earth. As Cork and Rainy try and track him down they are quickly exposed to the underbelly that exists in Coronado County. Their rental is blown up and they soon learn about the drug smuggling and trafficking in illegal immigrants going on in the county. Cork too learns that he may not have known someone as well as he should when Rainey’s ex-husband becomes involved in the hunt for Peter.

What I most enjoyed about the book was the fish out of water aspect to it. Cork knows how to investigate the disappearance of Peter but there are things about his environment that he doesn’t know and which complicate his investigation. Someone not born in the southwest wouldn’t know about the Monsoons and gully washers that occur and it was interesting to see how Cork coped with these. The author masterfully show throughout the course of the book how Cork finds clues and in the end how those clues fit together. There is also a strong sense of problems along the border and how desperate many immigrants are to find a better life. This aspect of the book may offend certain individuals but I found the sympathy towards these individuals to be very appealing.

My one quibble about the book is how Rainy is almost sidelined in the hunt for her own son. I would have liked to have seen her more actively involved in the hunt itself. Rainy does play a role but it tends more to the traditional “Woman who talks reason” type of role.

One note about the narration – the narrator has a Midwestern accent so some of the Spanish pronunciations are a bit awkward.

I liked the book well enough to pick up another title of his soon.

snap

I have had Blacklands by Ms. Bauer for years. For some odd reason known only to my subconscious I haven’t read this book. My subconscious needs to be shaken soundly. If Blacklands is anything like Snap I’ll have to dig it out and read it soon.

Before I go into detail I’d like to say ignore the tagline on the front cover. It makes Snap sound like your typical serial killer thriller and it is so much more than that.

Snap opens with a scene of three young children stuck in a stalled car off of a motorway (freeway). Jack’s mother has told him to stay put as she goes off to find a phone.  After an hour Jack decides that he and his sisters should go find his mother. They find the roadside phone but no mother. Eventually they are told she was murdered. Jack’s father eventually leaves the three on their own and Jack takes to robbing houses to provide enough for his siblings to eat.  In the meanwhile we are introduced to a very pregnant Catherine While and a disgraced police officer, John Marvel, moving into their small town.

There are supporting characters including Jacks siblings; a very fastidious police officer trying to solve the burglaries and Jack’s fence. Needless to say most of them are destined to intersect.

I was surprised at how funny parts of this novel were. Reynold’s the fastidious officer made me laugh several times.  Marvel is almost the stereotype of the cop who plays against the rules but Ms. Bauer twists it just enough that he is still unique.

The character portrayals are also well done and at times quite touching. Two individuals in particular captured my heart –  Merry, the youngest sibling, with her devotion to her tortoise, and Jack, poor Jack who at times has the weariness of a middle aged man as he tries to keep up appearances.

The story may start out a bit slowly at first so that the reader can understand the characters but it certainly picks up speed. Well worth the read.

In non book related news I will be going to our local quilt show at the end of the week so suspect I won’t get much reading done but I will be seeing lots of dazzling quilts so, as far as I am concerned, it’s worth it.

 

Have a good reading week everyone.

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Top Ten Tuesdays – Authors I’d Like to Meet

 

The subtitle to this post should be Top ten authors I’d like to meet if I weren’t such a shy chicken. I’m always afraid that I’ll stand in front of my favorite author either tongue tied or else blithering on about something that makes me seem incredibly stupid. I actually sat at the same table as one of my favorite authors at Worldcon this year and not only did I say nothing I couldn’t even make eye contact. If I were capable of being a normal human being these are the authors I’d like to meet.

Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett in their younger days – I realize this means I have to invent a time machine. Gaiman has reached such godlike status that I daren’t approach him now and Terry Pratchett is with us no longer. I’d love to hear them chat with one another though and hopefully I’d have something witty to say.

Robert Crais  –  I love Elvis Cole but I particularly loved his Scott and Maggie books as will as Carol Starkey. My entire conversation with him would be trying to convince him to write two new books with those characters.

Grady Hendrix – The man wrote one of the cleverest horror novels ever – Horrostor. Go check it out.

JK Rowling as her alter ego Robert Galbraith  – I love her characters Cormoran Strike and Robin Endicott but I’d have to plead with her to never match them up. Let’s not ruin some great tension.

Leigh Bardugo – I suspect even if I were as cool as a cucumber I’d still make an idiot of myself what with the gushing and squealing.

Eloise James – She always has interesting blog posts and she comes across as one very smart lady.

Elizabeth Strout –  I loved Olive Kittredge so much not to mention My Name is Lucy Barton

Jerry Pinkney/David Wiesner – I kind of just want to sit in their studios and watch them create. I’d be quiet, I promise.

 

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The Reading Week in Review

The reading week in review September 24-30

twistedthread

Have you ever discovered an author that you end up adoring only to discover they have stopped writing?  I’ve had the Twisted Thread by Charlotte Bacon on my bookshelves for a very long time. Written in 2011 it is , I believe, one of the earlier novels to use the private/boarding school setting that seems to have flourished in the past few years.

I enjoyed this book so much that I immediately googled her to see what other books she has written. She has a few but Twisted Thread was her last one. So I’ll be delving into major backlist titles with her. In the meanwhile let me try and articulate what was so great about this book.

The synopsis is as follows:

A young woman is found dead at prestigious Armitage Academy. It also turns out that she had just given birth to a baby who is now missing.  Claire was not well liked by her teachers, she came across as aloof,     cold and ambitious. As the story progresses we learn more about her and begin to learn the story of what happened via multiple points of view, – Madeline a young teacher who is interning at the academy; Matt a former student and newly returned cop to this small town;  Fred the art teacher, and Jim a maintenance worker.

The book is far more character driven than plot driven. Those individuals looking for a fast paced mystery will be disappointed.  It examines the insularity of these types of schools and examines how little we really know about people even as their lives intertwine. Even Madeline, as likable a character as she is, is shocked to find that Claire was a more caring and complex person than Madeline thought. The author builds backstories for many of the characters giving them more shading and depth. While not new the book also explores the concept of wealth and the burden of prestige and how these may be harmful. Perhaps it is because I work at a university but it was fascinating to read all the machinations that went on to keep the Academy’s good name.

I had a few quibbles with the book, the ending was a little rushed and I think there may have been one too many students that Madeline speaks with in an attempt to solve Claire’s murder

I’d recommend this to anyone looking for less of a straight up mystery and more of a literary study with underpinnings of a mystery.

The Twisted Thread is all I finished this week. I’m still working my way through the tome that is Foundryside. It is my “at work book” so progress is slow. I daren’t take is home though as I’d be up reading it until dawn. I’m too old for that now J

In non-book related news the hubby and I saw The House with a Clock in its Walls. It was enjoyable enough. I wasn’t blown away but it was perfectly fine for a Sunday outing. I always enjoy seeing Jack Black and Cate Blanchett. While I’d normally not think of pairing them up they worked well together. I’m also a huge sucker for a good gothic house and the sets were beautiful in this one.  I do want to now read or better yet listen to John Bellairs story.

 

Have a great reading week everyone.

 

 

 

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Top Ten Tuesday by my Favorite Authors that I still Haven’t Read

This week’s topic over at That Artsy Reader Girl is all about favorite authors and all the unread gems by these authors. Most of mine are sequels. Sometimes by the time I get to the sequel I’ve forgotten the original story so I hold off until I can reread the others in the series. Without further ado….

city bastards

1.City of Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

brightunknown

2.Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson – I read the first two, why oh why didn’t I read this as soon as I got it?

triatorsruin

3.The Traitor’s Ruin by Erin Beatty. A patron checked out The traitor’s Kiss and I remembered how much I liked this one and I found my copy of Traitors ruin so I may get to this one before the end of the year.

forger

  1. The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco. I discovered her about a year ago so I may be able to catch up on this series before the next one comes out.

speaker

  1. The Speaker by Traci Chee – I also bought this one as soon as it came out and the third is coming out November 18th. Acck.

gate

  1. The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin. I’m so embarrassed by this one. I had started The Obelisk gate and then somehow managed to lose the book in my house. I found it the other day and have started rereading it but this is one of those where I should have reread the first in the series. I am a little lost, sigh.

authorityjpg

  1. Authority and Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer. I should have reread the first one after I saw the movie and then jumped right into this one. Oh well, maybe someday

bestfirend

  1. My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix – hoping to get to this one in October.

wanted

  1. Wanted by Robert Crais – An Elvis Cole and Joe Pike novel left unread? Unbelievable! No excuse for this one.

isleblood

10  The Isle of Blood and The Final Descent by Rick Yancy.  I am perhaps most embarrassed by this one. It is the oldest on my list and I adore the first two books in the Monstromologist series. I have no idea what is wrong with me!

I since a read them or weed them TBR in the near future. I won almost all these books.

What’s on your stack?

 

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