Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Good heavens, I'm behind on this. Life is very busy! In good ways!

Levels of Life, by Julian Barnes. A very short little piece about nineteenth-century ballooning and Barnes grieving his wife. I do love his voice. 

The Likeness, by Tana French. The sort-of sequel to In the Woods, though you could read it on its own. The only way I can describe this book is to say it's exactly what would happen if The Secret History were an Irish police procedural, complete with the fact that the supposedly magnetic and irresistible student characters are actually extraordinarily obnoxious. If you liked The Secret History, you would like this; and even if, like me, you didn't, you might find it compelling as hell. I did. 

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, by Alexandra Fuller. Fuller's memoir about growing up in Africa with crazy-racist, crazy-colonialist, crazy-drunk, just plain crazy parents. Immensely disturbing and fairly hard to put down. 

The Clockwork Scarab: A Stoker & Holmes Novel, by Colleen Gleason. Oh dear. Gleason's premise and the set-up for a series is that, in a steampunk London, Bram Stoker's sister and Sherlock Holmes' niece fight supernatural crime. I find the initial decision to use one historical family and one fictional one questionable at best (why not give Conan Doyle a niece? he and Bram Stoker knew each other), and it goes downhill from there. Neither heroine is at all likable, and Gleason's conception of steampunk is that everything is mechanized, down to umbrella-stands and sugar spoons, just because. And early on we are given the backstory that Miss Stoker's previous mentor, who has mysteriously disappeared, was named Siri. What on earth, you may think. No one has ever been named Siri except... and then the time-traveler from the present day appears, for no reason, and you get one guess as to what kind of cell phone he's toting with him. It's all pretty much that forced. Nothing is resolved, because we're supposed to want the sequels, and every male character under thirty is a potential love interest for at least one of our heroines, so that the constant "my knees weakened under my skirts" reactions to policemen / noblemen / pickpockets / time travelers get REALLY old. 

The House at Sea's End, by Elly Griffiths. The third in the Ruth Galloway series. The plots, which all require an archaeologist to get involved in, and menaced by, murder cases, are starting to get a bit absurd, but I am pleased to report that our heroine having given birth has made her much more like she was before getting pregnant. She's interesting again! And the struggles of single motherhood struck me as realistic, unlike the previous book's "I am ten weeks pregnant and therefore HAVE NO IDENTITY BUT MOTHER," stuff. 

Tombstone Courage, by J.A. Jance. Mystery set in Arizona. Pretty generic but a decent afternoon's distraction. 

Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison, by Piper Kerman. I haven't seen the series, but I thought I'd check out the book. It's not bad, though not particularly memorable. 

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